You are on page 1of 90

Today is Monday, July 14, 2014

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 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;
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.
The Lawphil Project - Arellano Law Foundation
Today is Monday, July 14, 2014
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
SECOND DIVISION

G.R. No. 106720 September 15, 1994
SPOUSES ROBERTO AND THELMA AJERO, petitioners,
vs.
THE COURT OF APPEALS AND CLEMENTE SAND, respondents.
Miguel D. Larida for petitioners.
Montilla Law Office for private respondent.

PUNO, J.:
This is an appeal by certiorari from the Decision of the Court of
Appeals
1
in CA-G.R. CV No. 22840, dated March 30, 1992, the dispositive portion of which reads;
PREMISES CONSIDERED, the questioned decision of November 19, 1988 of the trial court is hereby
REVERSED and SET ASIDE, and the petition for probate is hereby DISMISSED. No costs.
The earlier Decision was rendered by the RTC of Quezon City, Branch 94,
2
in Sp. Proc. No. Q-37171, and
the instrument submitted for probate is the holographic will of the late Annie Sand, who died on November 25, 1982.
In the will, decedent named as devisees, the following: petitioners Roberto and Thelma Ajero, private respondent
Clemente Sand, Meriam S. Arong, Leah Sand, Lilia Sand, Edgar Sand, Fe Sand, Lisa S. Sand, and Dr. Jose
Ajero, Sr., and their children.
On January 20, 1983, petitioners instituted Sp. Proc. No. Q-37171, for allowance of decedent's holographic will.
They alleged that at the time of its execution, she was of sound and disposing mind, not acting under duress,
fraud or undue influence, and was in every respect capacitated to dispose of her estate by will.
Private respondent opposed the petition on the grounds that: neither the testament's body nor the signature
therein was in decedent's handwriting; it contained alterations and corrections which were not duly signed by
decedent; and, the will was procured by petitioners through improper pressure and undue influence. The petition
was likewise opposed by Dr. Jose Ajero. He contested the disposition in the will of a house and lot located in
Cabadbaran, Agusan Del Norte. He claimed that said property could not be conveyed by decedent in its entirety,
as she was not its sole owner.
Notwithstanding the oppositions, the trial court admitted the decedent's holographic will to probate. It found, inter
alia:
Considering then that the probate proceedings herein must decide only the question of identity of the
will, its due execution and the testamentary capacity of the testatrix, this probate court finds no
reason at all for the disallowance of the will for its failure to comply with the formalities prescribed by
law nor for lack of testamentary capacity of the testatrix.
For one, no evidence was presented to show that the will in question is different from the will actually
executed by the testatrix. The only objections raised by the oppositors . . . are that the will was not
written in the handwriting of the testatrix which properly refers to the question of its due execution,
and not to the question of identity of will. No other will was alleged to have been executed by the
testatrix other than the will herein presented. Hence, in the light of the evidence adduced, the identity
of the will presented for probate must be accepted, i.e., the will submitted in Court must be deemed
to be the will actually executed by the testatrix.
xxx xxx xxx
While the fact that it was entirely written, dated and signed in the handwriting of the testatrix has
been disputed, the petitioners, however, have satisfactorily shown in Court that the holographic will in
question was indeed written entirely, dated and signed in the handwriting of the testatrix. Three (3)
witnesses who have convincingly shown knowledge of the handwriting of the testatrix have been
presented and have explicitly and categorically identified the handwriting with which the holographic
will in question was written to be the genuine handwriting and signature of the testatrix. Given then
the aforesaid evidence, the requirement of the law that the holographic will be entirely written, dated
and signed in the handwriting of the testatrix has been complied with.
xxx xxx xxx
As to the question of the testamentary capacity of the testratix, (private respondent) Clemente Sand
himself has testified in Court that the testatrix was completely in her sound mind when he visited her
during her birthday celebration in 1981, at or around which time the holographic will in question was
executed by the testatrix. To be of sound mind, it is sufficient that the testatrix, at the time of making
the will, knew the value of the estate to be disposed of, the proper object of her bounty, and the
character of the testamentary act . . . The will itself shows that the testatrix even had detailed
knowledge of the nature of her estate. She even identified the lot number and square meters of the
lots she had conveyed by will. The objects of her bounty were likewise identified explicitly. And
considering that she had even written a nursing book which contained the law and jurisprudence on
will and succession, there is more than sufficient showing that she knows the character of the
testamentary act.
In this wise, the question of identity of the will, its due execution and the testamentary capacity of the
testatrix has to be resolved in favor of the allowance of probate of the will submitted herein.
Likewise, no evidence was presented to show sufficient reason for the disallowance of herein
holographic will. While it was alleged that the said will was procured by undue and improper pressure
and influence on the part of the beneficiary or of some other person, the evidence adduced have not
shown any instance where improper pressure or influence was exerted on the testatrix. (Private
respondent) Clemente Sand has testified that the testatrix was still alert at the time of the execution
of the will, i.e., at or around the time of her birth anniversary celebration in 1981. It was also
established that she is a very intelligent person and has a mind of her own. Her independence of
character and to some extent, her sense of superiority, which has been testified to in Court, all show
the unlikelihood of her being unduly influenced or improperly pressured to make the aforesaid will. It
must be noted that the undue influence or improper pressure in question herein only refer to the
making of a will and not as to the specific testamentary provisions therein which is the proper subject
of another proceeding. Hence, under the circumstances, this Court cannot find convincing reason for
the disallowance of the will herein.
Considering then that it is a well-established doctrine in the law on succession that in case of doubt,
testate succession should be preferred over intestate succession, and the fact that no convincing
grounds were presented and proven for the disallowance of the holographic will of the late Annie
Sand, the aforesaid will submitted herein must be admitted to probate.
3
(Citations omitted.)
On appeal, said Decision was reversed, and the petition for probate of decedent's will was dismissed. The Court
of Appeals found that, "the holographic will fails to meet the requirements for its validity."
4
It held that the decedent
did not comply with Articles 813 and 814 of the New Civil Code, which read, as follows:
Art. 813: When a number of dispositions appearing in a holographic will are signed without being
dated, and the last disposition has a signature and date, such date validates the dispositions
preceding it, whatever be the time of prior dispositions.
Art. 814: In case of insertion, cancellation, erasure or alteration in a holographic will, the testator
must authenticate the same by his full signature.
It alluded to certain dispositions in the will which were either unsigned and undated, or signed but not dated. It
also found that the erasures, alterations and cancellations made thereon had not been authenticated by
decedent.
Thus, this appeal which is impressed with merit.
Section 9, Rule 76 of the Rules of Court provides that will shall be disallowed in any of the following cases:
(a) If not executed and attested as required by law;
(b) If the testator was insane, or otherwise mentally incapable to make a will, at the time of its
execution;
(c) If it was executed under duress, or the influence of fear, or threats;
(d) If it was procured by undue and improper pressure and influence, on the part of the beneficiary,
or of some other person for his benefit;
(e) If the signature of the testator was procured by fraud or trick, and he did not intend that the
instrument should be his will at the time of fixing his signature thereto.
In the same vein, Article 839 of the New Civil Code reads:
Art. 839: The will shall be disallowed in any of the following cases;
(1) If the formalities required by law have not been complied with;
(2) If the testator was insane, or otherwise mentally incapable of making a will, at the
time of its execution;
(3) If it was executed through force or under duress, or the influence of fear, or threats;
(4) If it was procured by undue and improper pressure and influence, on the part of the
beneficiary or of some other person;
(5) If the signature of the testator was procured by fraud;
(6) If the testator acted by mistake or did not intend that the instrument he signed should
be his will at the time of affixing his signature thereto.
These lists are exclusive; no other grounds can serve to disallow a will.
5
Thus, in a petition to admit a holographic will
to probate, the only issues to be resolved are: (1) whether the instrument submitted is, indeed, the decedent's last will and
testament; (2) whether said will was executed in accordance with the formalities prescribed by law; (3) whether the decedent
had the necessary testamentary capacity at the time the will was executed; and, (4) whether the execution of the will and its
signing were the voluntary acts of the decedent.
6
In the case at bench, respondent court held that the holographic will of Anne Sand was not executed in
accordance with the formalities prescribed by law. It held that Articles 813 and 814 of the New Civil Code, ante,
were not complied with, hence, it disallowed the probate of said will. This is erroneous.
We reiterate what we held in Abangan vs. Abangan, 40 Phil. 476, 479 (1919), that:
The object of the solemnities surrounding the execution of wills is to close the door against bad faith
and fraud, to avoid substitution of wills and testaments and to guaranty their truth and authenticity.
Therefore, the laws on this subject should be interpreted in such a way as to attain these primordial
ends. But, on the other hand, also one must not lose sight of the fact that it is not the object of the
law to restrain and curtail the exercise of the right to make a will. So when an interpretation already
given assures such ends, any other interpretation whatsoever, that adds nothing but demands more
requisites entirely unnecessary, useless and frustrative of the testator's last will, must be
disregarded.
For purposes of probating non-holographic wills, these formal solemnities include the subscription, attestation,
and acknowledgment requirements under Articles 805 and 806 of the New Civil Code.
In the case of holographic wills, on the other hand, what assures authenticity is the requirement that they be
totally autographic or handwritten by the testator himself,
7
as provided under Article 810 of the New Civil Code, thus:
A person may execute a holographic will which must be entirely written, dated, and signed by the
hand of the testator himself. It is subject to no other form, and may be made in or out of the
Philippines, and need not be witnessed. (Emphasis supplied.)
Failure to strictly observe other formalities will not result in the disallowance of a holographic will that is
unquestionably handwritten by the testator.
A reading of Article 813 of the New Civil Code shows that its requirement affects the validity of the dispositions
contained in the holographic will, but not its probate. If the testator fails to sign and date some of the dispositions,
the result is that these dispositions cannot be effectuated. Such failure, however, does not render the whole
testament void.
Likewise, a holographic will can still be admitted to probate, notwithstanding non-compliance with the provisions of
Article 814. In the case of Kalaw vs. Relova 132 SCRA 237 242 (1984), this Court held:
Ordinarily, when a number of erasures, corrections, and interlineations made by the testator in a
holographic Will have not been noted under his signature, . . . the Will is not thereby invalidated as a
whole, but at most only as respects the particular words erased, corrected or interlined. Manresa
gave an identical commentary when he said "la omission de la salvedad no anula el testamento,
segun la regla de jurisprudencia establecida en la sentencia de 4 de Abril de 1985."
8
(Citations
omitted.)
Thus, unless the unauthenticated alterations, cancellations or insertions were made on the date of the
holographic will or on testator's signature,
9
their presence does not invalidate the will itself.
10
The lack of
authentication will only result in disallowance of such changes.
It is also proper to note that the requirements of authentication of changes and signing and dating of dispositions
appear in provisions (Articles 813 and 814) separate from that which provides for the necessary conditions for the
validity of the holographic will (Article 810). The distinction can be traced to Articles 678 and 688 of the Spanish
Civil Code, from which the present provisions covering holographic wills are taken. They read as follows:
Art. 678: A will is called holographic when the testator writes it himself in the form and with the
requisites required in Article 688.
Art. 688: Holographic wills may be executed only by persons of full age.
In order that the will be valid it must be drawn on stamped paper corresponding to the year of its
execution, written in its entirety by the testator and signed by him, and must contain a statement of
the year, month and day of its execution.
If it should contain any erased, corrected, or interlined words, the testator must identify them over his
signature.
Foreigners may execute holographic wills in their own language.
This separation and distinction adds support to the interpretation that only the requirements of Article 810 of the
New Civil Code and not those found in Articles 813 and 814 of the same Code are essential to the probate
of a holographic will.
The Court of Appeals further held that decedent Annie Sand could not validly dispose of the house and lot located
in Cabadbaran, Agusan del Norte, in its entirety. This is correct and must be affirmed.
As a general rule, courts in probate proceedings are limited to pass only upon the extrinsic validity of the will
sought to be probated. However, in exceptional instances, courts are not powerless to do what the situation
constrains them to do, and pass upon certain provisions of the will.
11
In the case at bench, decedent herself
indubitably stated in her holographic will that the Cabadbaran property is in the name of her late father, John H. Sand (which
led oppositor Dr. Jose Ajero to question her conveyance of the same in its entirety). Thus, as correctly held by respondent
court, she cannot validly dispose of the whole property, which she shares with her father's other heirs.
IN VIEW WHEREOF, the instant petition is GRANTED. The Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No.
22840, dated March 30, 1992, is REVERSED and SET ASIDE, except with respect to the invalidity of the
disposition of the entire house and lot in Cabadbaran, Agusan del Norte. The Decision of the Regional Trial Court
of Quezon City, Branch 94 in Sp. Proc. No. Q-37171, dated November 19, 1988, admitting to probate the
holographic will of decedent Annie Sand, is hereby REINSTATED, with the above qualification as regards the
Cabadbaran property. No costs.
SO ORDERED.
Narvasa, C.J., Padilla, Regalado and Mendoza, JJ., concur.

#Footnotes
1 Sixteenth Division, composed of Associate Justices Luis L. Victor (ponente), Ricardo J. Francisco
(chairman), and Pacita Caizares-Nye.
2 Presided by Judge Filemon H. Mendoza.
3 Rollo, pp. 37-39.
4 Impugned Decision, p. 5; Rollo, p. 46.
5 Pecson vs. Coronel, 45 Phil. 216 (1923); See 3 EDGARDO L. PARAS, Civil Code of the Philippines
Annotated (1989), pp. 145-146.
6 See Montanao vs. Suesa, 14 Phil. 676 (1909).
7 See Fernando vs. Villalon, 3 Phil. 386 (1904).
8 See Velasco vs. Lopez, 1 Phil. 720, 725 (1903), citing a Decision of the Supreme Court of Spain,
dated April 4, 1895; See also, 3 MANRESA, Commentarios al Codigo Espaol (Quinta ed.), p. 483;
See further, 3 ARTURO M. TOLENTINO, Commentaries & Jurisprudence on the Civil Code (1973),
p. 107, citing Castan 341, 5 Valverde 82; 3 AMBROSIO PADILLA, Civil Code Annotated (1987),
pp. 157-158; 2 RAMON C. AQUINO and CAROLINA C. GRIO-AQUINO (1990), p. 42.
9 3 PARAS, op. cit.
10 It must be noted, however, that in Kalaw, this Court laid down an exception to the general rule,
when it invalidated the entire will because of an unauthenticated erasure made by the testator. In that
case, the will had only one substantial provision. This was altered by substituting the original heir with
another , with such alteration being unauthenticated. This was altered by substituting the original heir
with another, with such alteration being unauthenticated. This Court held that the whole will was void
"for the simple reason that nothing remains in the Will after (the provision is invalidated) which could
remain valid. To state that the Will as first written should be given efficacy is to disregard the seeming
change of mind of the testatrix. But, that change of mind can neither be given effect because she
failed to authenticate it in the manner required by law by affixing her full signature."
11 Nepomuceno vs. Court of Appeals, 139 SCRA 206 (1985); See Nuguid vs. Nuguid, 17 SCRA 449
(1966); See also Cayetano vs. Leonidas, 129 SCRA 522 (1984).
The Lawphil Project - Arellano Law Foundation
Today is Monday, July 14, 2014
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
FIRST DIVISION
G.R. No. L-62952 October 9, 1985
SOFIA J. NEPOMUCENO, petitioner,
vs.
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, RUFINA GOMEZ, OSCAR JUGO ANG, CARMELITA JUGO,
respondents.

GUTIERREZ, JR., J.:
This is a petition for certiorari to set aside that portion of the decision of the respondent Court of Appeals (now
intermediate Appellate Court) dated June 3, 1982, as amended by the resolution dated August 10, 1982,
declaring as null and void the devise in favor of the petitioner and the resolution dated December 28, 1982
denying petitioner's motion for reconsideration.
Martin Jugo died on July 16, 1974 in Malabon, Rizal. He left a last Will and Testament duly signed by him at the
end of the Will on page three and on the left margin of pages 1, 2 and 4 thereof in the presence of Celestina
Alejandro, Myrna C. Cortez, and Leandro Leano, who in turn, affixed their signatures below the attestation clause
and on the left margin of pages 1, 2 and 4 of the Will in the presence of the testator and of each other and the
Notary Public. The Will was acknowledged before the Notary Public Romeo Escareal by the testator and his three
attesting witnesses.
In the said Will, the testator named and appointed herein petitioner Sofia J. Nepomuceno as his sole and only
executor of his estate. It is clearly stated in the Will that the testator was legally married to a certain Rufina Gomez
by whom he had two legitimate children, Oscar and Carmelita, but since 1952, he had been estranged from his
lawfully wedded wife and had been living with petitioner as husband and wife. In fact, on December 5, 1952, the
testator Martin Jugo and the petitioner herein, Sofia J. Nepomuceno were married in Victoria, Tarlac before the
Justice of the Peace. The testator devised to his forced heirs, namely, his legal wife Rufina Gomez and his
children Oscar and Carmelita his entire estate and the free portion thereof to herein petitioner. The Will reads in
part:
Art. III. That I have the following legal heirs, namely: my aforementioned legal wife, Rufina Gomez,
and our son, Oscar, and daughter Carmelita, both surnamed Jugo, whom I declare and admit to be
legally and properly entitled to inherit from me; that while I have been estranged from my above-
named wife for so many years, I cannot deny that I was legally married to her or that we have been
separated up to the present for reasons and justifications known fully well by them:
Art. IV. That since 1952, 1 have been living, as man and wife with one Sofia J. Nepomuceno, whom I
declare and avow to be entitled to my love and affection, for all the things which she has done for
me, now and in the past; that while Sofia J. Nepomuceno has with my full knowledge and consent,
did comport and represent myself as her own husband, in truth and in fact, as well as in the eyes of
the law, I could not bind her to me in the holy bonds of matrimony because of my aforementioned
previous marriage;
On August 21, 1974, the petitioner filed a petition for the probate of the last Will and Testament of the deceased
Martin Jugo in the Court of First Instance of Rizal, Branch XXXIV, Caloocan City and asked for the issuance to her
of letters testamentary.
On May 13, 1975, the legal wife of the testator, Rufina Gomez and her children filed an opposition alleging inter
alia that the execution of the Will was procured by undue and improper influence on the part of the petitioner; that
at the time of the execution of the Will, the testator was already very sick and that petitioner having admitted her
living in concubinage with the testator, she is wanting in integrity and thus, letters testamentary should not be
issued to her.
On January 6, 1976, the lower court denied the probate of the Will on the ground that as the testator admitted in
his Will to cohabiting with the petitioner from December 1952 until his death on July 16, 1974, the Will's admission
to probate will be an Idle exercise because on the face of the Will, the invalidity of its intrinsic provisions is evident.
The petitioner appealed to the respondent-appellate court.
On June 2, 1982, the respondent court set aside the decision of the Court of First Instance of Rizal denying the
probate of the will. The respondent court declared the Will to be valid except that the devise in favor of the
petitioner is null and void pursuant to Article 739 in relation with Article 1028 of the Civil Code of the Philippines.
The dispositive portion of the decision reads:
WHEREFORE, the decision a quo is hereby set aside, the will in question declared valid except the
devise in favor of the appellant which is declared null and void. The properties so devised are instead
passed on in intestacy to the appellant in equal shares, without pronouncement as to cost.
On June 15, 1982, oppositors Rufina Gomez and her children filed a "Motion for Correction of Clerical Error"
praying that the word "appellant" in the last sentence of the dispositive portion of the decision be changed to
"appellees" so as to read: "The properties so devised are instead passed on intestacy to the appellees in equal
shares, without pronouncement as to costs." The motion was granted by the respondent court on August 10,
1982.
On August 23, 1982, the petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration. This was denied by the respondent court in
a resolution dated December 28, 1982.
The main issue raised by the petitioner is whether or not the respondent court acted in excess of its jurisdiction
when after declaring the last Will and Testament of the deceased Martin Jugo validly drawn, it went on to pass
upon the intrinsic validity of the testamentary provision in favor of herein petitioner.
The petitioner submits that the validity of the testamentary provision in her favor cannot be passed upon and
decided in the probate proceedings but in some other proceedings because the only purpose of the probate of a
Will is to establish conclusively as against everyone that a Will was executed with the formalities required by law
and that the testator has the mental capacity to execute the same. The petitioner further contends that even if the
provisions of paragraph 1 of Article 739 of the Civil Code of the Philippines were applicable, the declaration of its
nullity could only be made by the proper court in a separate action brought by the legal wife for the specific
purpose of obtaining a declaration of the nullity of the testamentary provision in the Will in favor of the person with
whom the testator was allegedly guilty of adultery or concubinage.
The respondents on the other hand contend that the fact that the last Will and Testament itself expressly admits
indubitably on its face the meretricious relationship between the testator and the petitioner and the fact that
petitioner herself initiated the presentation of evidence on her alleged ignorance of the true civil status of the
testator, which led private respondents to present contrary evidence, merits the application of the doctrine
enunciated in Nuguid v. Felix Nuguid, et al. (17 SCRA 449) and Felix Balanay, Jr. v. Hon. Antonio Martinez, et al.
(G.R. No. L- 39247, June 27, 1975). Respondents also submit that the admission of the testator of the illicit
relationship between him and the petitioner put in issue the legality of the devise. We agree with the respondents.
The respondent court acted within its jurisdiction when after declaring the Will to be validly drawn, it went on to
pass upon the intrinsic validity of the Will and declared the devise in favor of the petitioner null and void.
The general rule is that in probate proceedings, the court's area of inquiry is limited to an examination and
resolution of the extrinsic validity of the Will. The rule is expressed thus:
xxx xxx xxx
... It is elementary that a probate decree finally and definitively settles all questions concerning
capacity of the testator and the proper execution and witnessing of his last Will and testament,
irrespective of whether its provisions are valid and enforceable or otherwise. (Fernandez v.
Dimagiba, 21 SCRA 428)
The petition below being for the probate of a Will, the court's area of inquiry is limited to the extrinsic
validity thereof. The testators testamentary capacity and the compliance with the formal requisites or
solemnities prescribed by law are the only questions presented for the resolution of the court. Any
inquiry into the intrinsic validity or efficacy of the provisions of the will or the legality of any devise or
legacy is premature.
xxx xxx xxx
True or not, the alleged sale is no ground for the dismissal of the petition for probate. Probate is one
thing; the validity of the testamentary provisions is another. The first decides the execution of the
document and the testamentary capacity of the testator; the second relates to descent and
distribution (Sumilang v. Ramagosa, 21 SCRA 1369)
xxx xxx xxx
To establish conclusively as against everyone, and once for all, the facts that a will was executed with
the formalities required by law and that the testator was in a condition to make a will, is the only
purpose of the proceedings under the new code for the probate of a will. (Sec. 625). The judgment in
such proceedings determines and can determine nothing more. In them the court has no power to
pass upon the validity of any provisions made in the will. It can not decide, for example, that a certain
legacy is void and another one valid. ... (Castaneda v. Alemany, 3 Phil. 426)
The rule, however, is not inflexible and absolute. Given exceptional circumstances, the probate court is not
powerless to do what the situation constrains it to do and pass upon certain provisions of the Will.
In Nuguid v. Nuguid (17 SCRA 449) cited by the trial court, the testator instituted the petitioner as universal heir
and completely preterited her surviving forced heirs. A will of this nature, no matter how valid it may appear
extrinsically, would be null and void. Separate or latter proceedings to determine the intrinsic validity of the
testamentary provisions would be superfluous.
Even before establishing the formal validity of the will, the Court in Balanay .Jr. v. Martinez (64 SCRA 452) passed
upon the validity of its intrinsic provisions.
Invoking "practical considerations", we stated:
The basic issue is whether the probate court erred in passing upon the intrinsic validity of the will,
before ruling on its allowance or formal validity, and in declaring it void.
We are of the opinion that in view of certain unusual provisions of the will, which are of dubious
legality, and because of the motion to withdraw the petition for probate (which the lower court
assumed to have been filed with the petitioner's authorization) the trial court acted correctly in
passing upon the will's intrinsic validity even before its formal validity had been established. The
probate of a will might become an Idle ceremony if on its face it appears to be intrinsically void.
Where practical considerations demand that the intrinsic validity of the will be passed upon, even
before it is probated, the court should meet the issue (Nuguid v. Nuguid, 64 O.G. 1527, 17 SCRA
449. Compare with Sumilang vs. Ramagosa L-23135, December 26, 1967, 21 SCRA 1369; Cacho v.
Udan L-19996, April 30, 1965, 13 SCRA 693).
There appears to be no more dispute at this time over the extrinsic validity of the Will. Both parties are agreed
that the Will of Martin Jugo was executed with all the formalities required by law and that the testator had the
mental capacity to execute his Will. The petitioner states that she completely agrees with the respondent court
when in resolving the question of whether or not the probate court correctly denied the probate of Martin Jugo's
last Will and Testament, it ruled:
This being so, the will is declared validly drawn. (Page 4, Decision, Annex A of Petition.)
On the other hand the respondents pray for the affirmance of the Court of Appeals' decision in toto.
The only issue, therefore, is the jurisdiction of the respondent court to declare the testamentary provision in favor
of the petitioner as null and void.
We sustain the respondent court's jurisdiction. As stated in Nuguid v. Nuguid, (supra):
We pause to reflect. If the case were to be remanded for probate of the will, nothing will be gained.
On the contrary, this litigation will be protracted. And for aught that appears in the record, in the
record, in the event of probate or if the court rejects the will, probability exists that the case will come
up once again before us on the same issue of the intrinsic validity or nullity of the will. Result, waste
of time, effort, expense, plus added anxiety. These are the practical considerations that induce us to
a belief that we might as well meet head-on the issue of the validity of the provisions of the will in
question. (Section 2, Rule 1, Rules of Court. Case, et al. v. Jugo, et al., 77 Phil. 517, 522). After all,
there exists a justiciable controversy crying for solution.
We see no useful purpose that would be served if we remand the nullified provision to the proper court in a
separate action for that purpose simply because, in the probate of a will, the court does not ordinarily look into the
intrinsic validity of its provisions.
Article 739 of the Civil Code provides:
The following donations shall be void:
(1) Those made between persons who were guilty of adultery or concubinage at the time of the
donation;
(2) Those made between persons found guilty of the same criminal offense, in consideration thereof;
(3) Those made to a public officer or his wife, descendants and ascendants, by reason of his office.
In the case referred to in No. 1, the action for declaration of nullity may be brought by the spouse of
the donor or donee; and the guilt of the donor and donee may be proved by preponderance of
evidence in the same action.
Article 1028 of the Civil Code provides:
The prohibitions mentioned in Article 739, concerning donations inter vivos shall apply to
testamentary provisions.
In Article III of the disputed Will, executed on August 15, 1968, or almost six years before the testator's death on
July 16, 1974, Martin Jugo stated that respondent Rufina Gomez was his legal wife from whom he had been
estranged "for so many years." He also declared that respondents Carmelita Jugo and Oscar Jugo were his
legitimate children. In Article IV, he stated that he had been living as man and wife with the petitioner since 1952.
Testator Jugo declared that the petitioner was entitled to his love and affection. He stated that Nepomuceno
represented Jugo as her own husband but "in truth and in fact, as well as in the eyes of the law, I could not bind
her to me in the holy bonds of matrimony because of my aforementioned previous marriage.
There is no question from the records about the fact of a prior existing marriage when Martin Jugo executed his
Will. There is also no dispute that the petitioner and Mr. Jugo lived together in an ostensible marital relationship
for 22 years until his death.
It is also a fact that on December 2, 1952, Martin Jugo and Sofia J. Nepomuceno contracted a marriage before
the Justice of the Peace of Victoria, Tarlac. The man was then 51 years old while the woman was 48.
Nepomuceno now contends that she acted in good faith for 22 years in the belief that she was legally married to
the testator.
The records do not sustain a finding of innocence or good faith. As argued by the private respondents:
First. The last will and testament itself expressly admits indubitably on its face the meretricious
relationship between the testator and petitioner, the devisee.
Second. Petitioner herself initiated the presentation of evidence on her alleged ignorance of the true
civil status of the testator, which led private respondents to present contrary evidence.
In short, the parties themselves dueled on the intrinsic validity of the legacy given in the will to
petitioner by the deceased testator at the start of the proceedings.
Whether or not petitioner knew that testator Martin Jugo, the man he had lived with as man and wife,
as already married, was an important and specific issue brought by the parties before the trial court,
and passed upon by the Court of Appeals.
Instead of limiting herself to proving the extrinsic validity of the will, it was petitioner who opted to
present evidence on her alleged good faith in marrying the testator. (Testimony of Petitioner, TSN of
August 1, 1982, pp. 56-57 and pp. 62-64).
Private respondents, naturally, presented evidence that would refute the testimony of petitioner on
the point.
Sebastian Jugo, younger brother of the deceased testator, testified at length on the meretricious
relationship of his brother and petitioner. (TSN of August 18,1975).
Clearly, the good faith of petitioner was by option of the parties made a decisive issue right at the
inception of the case.
Confronted by the situation, the trial court had to make a ruling on the question.
When the court a quo held that the testator Martin Jugo and petitioner 'were deemed guilty of
adultery or concubinage', it was a finding that petitioner was not the innocent woman she pretended
to be.
xxx xxx xxx
3. If a review of the evidence must be made nonetheless, then private respondents respectfully offer
the following analysis:
FIRST: The secrecy of the marriage of petitioner with the deceased testator in a town in Tarlac
where neither she nor the testator ever resided. If there was nothing to hide from, why the
concealment' ? Of course, it maybe argued that the marriage of the deceased with private
respondent Rufina Gomez was likewise done in secrecy. But it should be remembered that Rufina
Gomez was already in the family way at that time and it would seem that the parents of Martin Jugo
were not in favor of the marriage so much so that an action in court was brought concerning the
marriage. (Testimony of Sebastian Jugo, TSN of August 18, 1975, pp. 29-30)
SECOND: Petitioner was a sweetheart of the deceased testator when they were still both single. That
would be in 1922 as Martin Jugo married respondent Rufina Gomez on November 29, 1923 (Exh. 3).
Petitioner married the testator only on December 5, 1952. There was a space of about 30 years in
between. During those 30 years, could it be believed that she did not even wonder why Martin Jugo
did not marry her nor contact her anymore after November, 1923 - facts that should impel her to ask
her groom before she married him in secrecy, especially so when she was already about 50 years
old at the time of marriage.
THIRD: The fact that petitioner broke off from Martin Jugo in 1923 is by itself conclusive
demonstration that she new that the man she had openly lived for 22 years as man and wife was a
married man with already two children.
FOURTH: Having admitted that she knew the children of respondent Rufina Gomez, is it possible that
she would not have asked Martin Jugo whether or not they were his illegitimate or legitimate children
and by whom? That is un-Filipino.
FIFTH: Having often gone to Pasig to the residence of the parents of the deceased testator, is it
possible that she would not have known that the mother of private respondent Oscar Jugo and
Carmelita Jugo was respondent Rufina Gomez, considering that the houses of the parents of Martin
Jugo (where he had lived for many years) and that of respondent Rufina Gomez were just a few
meters away?
Such pretentions of petitioner Sofia Nepomuceno are unbelievable. They are, to say the least,
inherently improbable, for they are against the experience in common life and the ordinary instincts
and promptings of human nature that a woman would not bother at all to ask the man she was going
to marry whether or not he was already married to another, knowing that her groom had children. It
would be a story that would strain human credulity to the limit if petitioner did not know that Martin
Jugo was already a married man in view of the irrefutable fact that it was precisely his marriage to
respondent Rufina Gomez that led petitioner to break off with the deceased during their younger
years.
Moreover, the prohibition in Article 739 of the Civil Code is against the making of a donation between persons
who are living in adultery or concubinage. It is the donation which becomes void. The giver cannot give even
assuming that the recipient may receive. The very wordings of the Will invalidate the legacy because the testator
admitted he was disposing the properties to a person with whom he had been living in concubinage.
WHEREFORE, the petition is DISMISSED for lack of merit. The decision of the Court of Appeals, now
Intermediate Appellate Court, is AFFIRMED. No costs.
SO ORDERED.
Teehankee (Chairman), Melencio-Herrera, Plana, Relova, De la Fuente and Patajo, JJ., concur.
The Lawphil Project - Arellano Law Foundation
Today is Monday, July 14, 2014
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
FIRST DIVISION
G.R. No. L-54919 May 30, 1984
POLLY CAYETANO, petitioner,
vs.
HON. TOMAS T. LEONIDAS, in his capacity as the Presiding Judge of Branch XXXVIII, Court of First
Instance of Manila and NENITA CAMPOS PAGUIA, respondents.
Ermelo P. Guzman for petitioner.
Armando Z. Gonzales for private respondent.

GUTIERREZ, JR., J.:
This is a petition for review on certiorari, seeking to annul the order of the respondent judge of the Court of First
Instance of Manila, Branch XXXVIII, which admitted to and allowed the probate of the last will and testament of
Adoracion C. Campos, after an ex-parte presentation of evidence by herein private respondent.
On January 31, 1977, Adoracion C. Campos died, leaving her father, petitioner Hermogenes Campos and her
sisters, private respondent Nenita C. Paguia, Remedios C. Lopez and Marieta C. Medina as the surviving heirs.
As Hermogenes Campos was the only compulsory heir, he executed an Affidavit of Adjudication under Rule 74,
Section I of the Rules of Court whereby he adjudicated unto himself the ownership of the entire estate of the
deceased Adoracion Campos.
Eleven months after, on November 25, 1977, Nenita C. Paguia filed a petition for the reprobate of a will of the
deceased, Adoracion Campos, which was allegedly executed in the United States and for her appointment as
administratrix of the estate of the deceased testatrix.
In her petition, Nenita alleged that the testatrix was an American citizen at the time of her death and was a
permanent resident of 4633 Ditman Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.; that the testatrix died in Manila on
January 31, 1977 while temporarily residing with her sister at 2167 Leveriza, Malate, Manila; that during her
lifetime, the testatrix made her last wig and testament on July 10, 1975, according to the laws of Pennsylvania,
U.S.A., nominating Wilfredo Barzaga of New Jersey as executor; that after the testatrix death, her last will and
testament was presented, probated, allowed, and registered with the Registry of Wins at the County of
Philadelphia, U.S.A., that Clement L. McLaughlin, the administrator who was appointed after Dr. Barzaga had
declined and waived his appointment as executor in favor of the former, is also a resident of Philadelphia, U.S.A.,
and that therefore, there is an urgent need for the appointment of an administratrix to administer and eventually
distribute the properties of the estate located in the Philippines.
On January 11, 1978, an opposition to the reprobate of the will was filed by herein petitioner alleging among other
things, that he has every reason to believe that the will in question is a forgery; that the intrinsic provisions of the
will are null and void; and that even if pertinent American laws on intrinsic provisions are invoked, the same could
not apply inasmuch as they would work injustice and injury to him.
On December 1, 1978, however, the petitioner through his counsel, Atty. Franco Loyola, filed a Motion to Dismiss
Opposition (With Waiver of Rights or Interests) stating that he "has been able to verify the veracity thereof (of the
will) and now confirms the same to be truly the probated will of his daughter Adoracion." Hence, an ex-parte
presentation of evidence for the reprobate of the questioned will was made.
On January 10, 1979, the respondent judge issued an order, to wit:
At the hearing, it has been satisfactorily established that Adoracion C. Campos, in her lifetime, was a
citizen of the United States of America with a permanent residence at 4633 Ditman Street,
Philadelphia, PA 19124, (Exhibit D) that when alive, Adoracion C. Campos executed a Last Will and
Testament in the county of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.A., according to the laws thereat (Exhibits
E-3 to E-3-b) that while in temporary sojourn in the Philippines, Adoracion C. Campos died in the City
of Manila (Exhibit C) leaving property both in the Philippines and in the United States of America; that
the Last Will and Testament of the late Adoracion C. Campos was admitted and granted probate by
the Orphan's Court Division of the Court of Common Pleas, the probate court of the Commonwealth
of Pennsylvania, County of Philadelphia, U.S.A., and letters of administration were issued in favor of
Clement J. McLaughlin all in accordance with the laws of the said foreign country on procedure and
allowance of wills (Exhibits E to E-10); and that the petitioner is not suffering from any disqualification
which would render her unfit as administratrix of the estate in the Philippines of the late Adoracion C.
Campos.
WHEREFORE, the Last Will and Testament of the late Adoracion C. Campos is hereby admitted to
and allowed probate in the Philippines, and Nenita Campos Paguia is hereby appointed
Administratrix of the estate of said decedent; let Letters of Administration with the Will annexed issue
in favor of said Administratrix upon her filing of a bond in the amount of P5,000.00 conditioned under
the provisions of Section I, Rule 81 of the Rules of Court.
Another manifestation was filed by the petitioner on April 14, 1979, confirming the withdrawal of his opposition,
acknowledging the same to be his voluntary act and deed.
On May 25, 1979, Hermogenes Campos filed a petition for relief, praying that the order allowing the will be set
aside on the ground that the withdrawal of his opposition to the same was secured through fraudulent means.
According to him, the "Motion to Dismiss Opposition" was inserted among the papers which he signed in
connection with two Deeds of Conditional Sales which he executed with the Construction and Development
Corporation of the Philippines (CDCP). He also alleged that the lawyer who filed the withdrawal of the opposition
was not his counsel-of-record in the special proceedings case.
The petition for relief was set for hearing but the petitioner failed to appear. He made several motions for
postponement until the hearing was set on May 29, 1980.
On May 18, 1980, petitioner filed another motion entitled "Motion to Vacate and/or Set Aside the Order of January
10, 1979, and/or dismiss the case for lack of jurisdiction. In this motion, the notice of hearing provided:
Please include this motion in your calendar for hearing on May 29, 1980 at 8:30 in the morning for
submission for reconsideration and resolution of the Honorable Court. Until this Motion is resolved,
may I also request for the future setting of the case for hearing on the Oppositor's motion to set aside
previously filed.
The hearing of May 29, 1980 was re-set by the court for June 19, 1980. When the case was called for hearing on
this date, the counsel for petitioner tried to argue his motion to vacate instead of adducing evidence in support of
the petition for relief. Thus, the respondent judge issued an order dismissing the petition for relief for failure to
present evidence in support thereof. Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration but the same was denied. In the
same order, respondent judge also denied the motion to vacate for lack of merit. Hence, this petition.
Meanwhile, on June 6,1982, petitioner Hermogenes Campos died and left a will, which, incidentally has been
questioned by the respondent, his children and forced heirs as, on its face, patently null and void, and a
fabrication, appointing Polly Cayetano as the executrix of his last will and testament. Cayetano, therefore, filed a
motion to substitute herself as petitioner in the instant case which was granted by the court on September 13,
1982.
A motion to dismiss the petition on the ground that the rights of the petitioner Hermogenes Campos merged upon
his death with the rights of the respondent and her sisters, only remaining children and forced heirs was denied
on September 12, 1983.
Petitioner Cayetano persists with the allegations that the respondent judge acted without or in excess of his
jurisdiction when:
1) He ruled the petitioner lost his standing in court deprived the Right to Notice (sic) upon the filing of
the Motion to Dismiss opposition with waiver of rights or interests against the estate of deceased
Adoracion C. Campos, thus, paving the way for the hearing ex-parte of the petition for the probate of
decedent will.
2) He ruled that petitioner can waive, renounce or repudiate (not made in a public or authenticated
instrument), or by way of a petition presented to the court but by way of a motion presented prior to
an order for the distribution of the estate-the law especially providing that repudiation of an
inheritance must be presented, within 30 days after it has issued an order for the distribution of the
estate in accordance with the rules of Court.
3) He ruled that the right of a forced heir to his legitime can be divested by a decree admitting a will
to probate in which no provision is made for the forced heir in complete disregard of Law of
Succession
4) He denied petitioner's petition for Relief on the ground that no evidence was adduced to support
the Petition for Relief when no Notice nor hearing was set to afford petitioner to prove the merit of his
petition a denial of the due process and a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of
jurisdiction.
5) He acquired no jurisdiction over the testate case, the fact that the Testator at the time of death
was a usual resident of Dasmarias, Cavite, consequently Cavite Court of First Instance has
exclusive jurisdiction over the case (De Borja vs. Tan, G.R. No. L-7792, July 1955).
The first two issues raised by the petitioner are anchored on the allegation that the respondent judge acted with
grave abuse of discretion when he allowed the withdrawal of the petitioner's opposition to the reprobate of the will.
We find no grave abuse of discretion on the part of the respondent judge. No proof was adduced to support
petitioner's contention that the motion to withdraw was secured through fraudulent means and that Atty. Franco
Loyola was not his counsel of record. The records show that after the firing of the contested motion, the petitioner
at a later date, filed a manifestation wherein he confirmed that the Motion to Dismiss Opposition was his voluntary
act and deed. Moreover, at the time the motion was filed, the petitioner's former counsel, Atty. Jose P. Lagrosa
had long withdrawn from the case and had been substituted by Atty. Franco Loyola who in turn filed the motion.
The present petitioner cannot, therefore, maintain that the old man's attorney of record was Atty. Lagrosa at the
time of filing the motion. Since the withdrawal was in order, the respondent judge acted correctly in hearing the
probate of the will ex-parte, there being no other opposition to the same.
The third issue raised deals with the validity of the provisions of the will. As a general rule, the probate court's
authority is limited only to the extrinsic validity of the will, the due execution thereof, the testatrix's testamentary
capacity and the compliance with the requisites or solemnities prescribed by law. The intrinsic validity of the will
normally comes only after the court has declared that the will has been duly authenticated. However, where
practical considerations demand that the intrinsic validity of the will be passed upon, even before it is probated,
the court should meet the issue. (Maninang vs. Court of Appeals, 114 SCRA 478).
In the case at bar, the petitioner maintains that since the respondent judge allowed the reprobate of Adoracion's
will, Hermogenes C. Campos was divested of his legitime which was reserved by the law for him.
This contention is without merit.
Although on its face, the will appeared to have preterited the petitioner and thus, the respondent judge should
have denied its reprobate outright, the private respondents have sufficiently established that Adoracion was, at
the time of her death, an American citizen and a permanent resident of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.
Therefore, under Article 16 par. (2) and 1039 of the Civil Code which respectively provide:
Art. 16 par. (2).
xxx xxx xxx
However, intestate and testamentary successions, both with respect to the order of succession and
to the amount of successional rights and to the intrinsic validity of testamentary provisions, shall be
regulated by the national law of the person whose succession is under consideration, whatever may
be the nature of the property and regardless of the country wherein said property may be found.
Art. 1039.
Capacity to succeed is governed by the law of the nation of the decedent.
the law which governs Adoracion Campo's will is the law of Pennsylvania, U.S.A., which is the national law of the
decedent. Although the parties admit that the Pennsylvania law does not provide for legitimes and that all the
estate may be given away by the testatrix to a complete stranger, the petitioner argues that such law should not
apply because it would be contrary to the sound and established public policy and would run counter to the
specific provisions of Philippine Law.
It is a settled rule that as regards the intrinsic validity of the provisions of the will, as provided for by Article 16(2)
and 1039 of the Civil Code, the national law of the decedent must apply. This was squarely applied in the case of
Bellis v. Bellis (20 SCRA 358) wherein we ruled:
It is therefore evident that whatever public policy or good customs may be involved in our system of
legitimes, Congress has not intended to extend the same to the succession of foreign nationals. For
it has specifically chosen to leave, inter alia, the amount of successional rights, to the decedent's
national law. Specific provisions must prevail over general ones.
xxx xxx xxx
The parties admit that the decedent, Amos G. Bellis, was a citizen of the State of Texas, U.S.A., and
under the law of Texas, there are no forced heirs or legitimes. Accordingly, since the intrinsic validity
of the provision of the will and the amount of successional rights are to be determined under Texas
law, the Philippine Law on legitimes cannot be applied to the testacy of Amos G. Bellis.
As regards the alleged absence of notice of hearing for the petition for relief, the records wig bear the fact that
what was repeatedly scheduled for hearing on separate dates until June 19, 1980 was the petitioner's petition for
relief and not his motion to vacate the order of January 10, 1979. There is no reason why the petitioner should
have been led to believe otherwise. The court even admonished the petitioner's failing to adduce evidence when
his petition for relief was repeatedly set for hearing. There was no denial of due process. The fact that he
requested "for the future setting of the case for hearing . . ." did not mean that at the next hearing, the motion to
vacate would be heard and given preference in lieu of the petition for relief. Furthermore, such request should be
embodied in a motion and not in a mere notice of hearing.
Finally, we find the contention of the petition as to the issue of jurisdiction utterly devoid of merit. Under Rule 73,
Section 1, of the Rules of Court, it is provided that:
SECTION 1. Where estate of deceased persons settled. If the decedent is an inhabitant of the
Philippines at the time of his death, whether a citizen or an alien, his will shall be proved, or letters of
administration granted, and his estate settled, in the Court of First Instance in the province in which
he resided at the time of his death, and if he is an inhabitant of a foreign country, the Court of First
Instance of any province in which he had estate. The court first taking cognizance of the settlement
of the estate of a decedent, shall exercise jurisdiction to the exclusion of all other courts. The
jurisdiction assumed by a court, so far as it depends on the place of residence of the decedent, or of
the location of his estate, shall not be contested in a suit or proceeding, except in an appeal from that
court, in the original case, or when the want of jurisdiction appears on the record.
Therefore, the settlement of the estate of Adoracion Campos was correctly filed with the Court of First Instance of
Manila where she had an estate since it was alleged and proven that Adoracion at the time of her death was a
citizen and permanent resident of Pennsylvania, United States of America and not a "usual resident of Cavite" as
alleged by the petitioner. Moreover, petitioner is now estopped from questioning the jurisdiction of the probate
court in the petition for relief. It is a settled rule that a party cannot invoke the jurisdiction of a court to secure
affirmative relief, against his opponent and after failing to obtain such relief, repudiate or question that same
jurisdiction. (See Saulog Transit, Inc. vs. Hon. Manuel Lazaro, et al., G. R. No. 63 284, April 4, 1984).
WHEREFORE, the petition for certiorari and prohibition is hereby dismissed for lack of merit.
SO ORDERED.
Melencio-Herrera, Plana, Relova and De la Fuente, JJ., concur.
Teehankee, J., (Chairman), took no part.
The Lawphil Project - Arellano Law Foundation
Today is Monday, July 14, 2014
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
G.R. No. L-2538 September 21, 1951
Testate Estate of the Deceased MARIANO MOLO Y LEGASPI. JUANA JUAN VDA. DE MOLO, petitioner-
appellee,
vs.
LUZ, GLICERIA and CORNELIO MOLO, oppositors-appellants.
Claro M. Recto and Serafin C. Dizon for appellants.
Delgado & Flores for appellee.
BAUTISTA ANGELO, J.:
This is an appeal from an order of the Court of First Instance of Rizal admitting to probate the last will and
testament of the deceased Mariano Molo y Legaspi executed on August 17, 1918. The oppositors-appellants
brought the case on appeal to this Court for the reason that the value of the properties involved exceeds P50,000.
Mariano Molo y Legaspi died on January 24, 1941, in the municipality of Pasay, province of Rizal, without leaving
any forced heir either in the descending or ascending line. He was survived, however, by his wife, the herein
petitioner Juana Juan Vda. de Molo, and by his nieces and nephew, the oppositors-appellants, Luz Gliceria and
Cornelio, all surnamed Molo, who were the legitimate children of Candido Molo y Legaspi, deceased brother of
the testator. Mariano Molo y Legaspi left two wills, one executed on August 17, 1918, (Exhibit A) and another
executed on June 20, 1939. (Exhibit I). The later will executed in 1918.
On February 7, 1941, Juana Juan Vda. de Molo, filed in the Court of First Instance of Rizal a petition, which was
docketed as special proceeding No. 8022 seeking the probate of the will executed by the deceased on June 20,
1939. There being no opposition, the will was probated. However, upon petition filed by the herein oppositors, the
order of the court admitting the will to probate was set aside and the case was reopened. After hearing, at which
both parties presented their evidence, the court rendered decision denying the probate of said will on the ground
that the petitioner failed to prove that the same was executed in accordance with law.
In view of the disallowance of the will executed on June 20, 1939, the widow on February 24, 1944, filed another
petition for the probate of the will executed by the deceased on August 17, 1918, which was docketed as special
proceeding No. 56, in the same court. Again, the same oppositors filed an opposition to the petition based on
three grounds: (1) that petitioner is now estopped from seeking the probate of the will of 1918; (2) that said will
has not been executed in the manner required by law and (3) that the will has been subsequently revoked. But
before the second petition could be heard, the battle for liberation came and the records of the case were
destroyed. Consequently, a petition for reconstitution was filed, but the same was found to be impossible because
neither petitioner nor oppositors could produce the copies required for its reconstitution. As a result, petitioner
filed a new petition on September 14, 1946, similar to the one destroyed, to which the oppositors filed an
opposition based on the same grounds as those contained in their former opposition. Then, the case was set for
trial, and on May 28, 1948, the court issued an order admitting the will to probate already stated in the early part
of this decision. From this order the oppositors appealed assigning six errors, to wit.
I. The probate court erred in not holding that the present petitioner voluntarily and deliberately frustrated
the probate of the will dated June 20, 1939, in special proceeding No. 8022, in order to enable her to obtain
the probate of another alleged will of Molo dated 191.
II. The court a quo erred in not holding that the petitioner is now estopped from seeking the probate of
Molo's alleged will of 1918.
III. The lower court erred in not holding that petitioner herein has come to court with "unclean hands" and
as such is not entitled to relief.
IV. The probate court erred in not holding that Molo's alleged will of August 17, 1918 was not executed in
the manner required by law.
V. The probate court erred in not holding that the alleged will of 1918 was deliberately revoked by Molo
himself.
VI. The lower court erred in not holding that Molo's will of 1918 was subsequently revoked by the
decedent's will of 1939.
In their first assignment of error, counsel for oppositors contend that the probate court erred in not holding that
the petitioner voluntarily and deliberately frustrated the probate of the will dated June 20, 1939, in order to enable
her to obtain the probate of the will executed by the deceased on August 17, 1918, pointing out certain facts and
circumstances with their opinion indicate that petitioner connived with the witness Canuto Perez in an effort to
defeat and frustrate the probate of the 1939 will because of her knowledge that said will intrinsically defective in
that "the one and only testamentory disposition thereof was a "disposicion captatoria". These circumstances,
counsel for the appellants contend, constitute a series of steps deliberately taken by petitioner with a view to
insuring the realization of her plan of securing the probate of the 1918 will which she believed would better
safeguard her right to inherit from the decease.
These imputations of fraud and bad faith allegedly committed in connection with special proceedings No. 8022,
now closed and terminated, are vigorously met by counsel for petitioner who contends that to raise them in these
proceedings which are entirely new and distinct and completely independent from the other is improper and unfair
as they find no support whatsoever in any evidence submitted by the parties in this case. They are merely based
on the presumptions and conjectures not supported by any proof. For this reason, counsel, contends, the lower
court was justified in disregarding them and in passing them sub silentio in its decision.
A careful examination of the evidence available in this case seems to justify this contention. There is indeed no
evidence which may justify the insinuation that petitioner had deliberately intended to frustrate the probate of the
1939 will of the deceased to enable her to seek the probate of another will other than a mere conjecture drawn
from the apparently unexpected testimony of Canuto Perez that he went out of the room to answer an urgent call
of nature when Artemio Reyes was signing the will and the failure of petitioner later to impeach the character of
said witness in spite of the opportunity given her by the court to do so. Apart from this insufficiency of evidence,
the record discloses that this failure has been explained by petitioner when she informed the court that she was
unable to impeach the character of her witness Canuto Perez because of her inability to find witnesses who may
impeach him, and this explanation stands uncontradicted. Whether this explanation is satisfactory or not, it is not
now, for us to determine. It is an incident that comes within the province of the former case. The failure of
petitioner to present the testimony of Artemio Reyes at the hearing has also been explained, and it appears that
petitioner has filed because his whereabouts could not be found. Whether this is true or not is also for this Court
to determine. It is likewise within the province and function of the court in the former case. And the unfairness of
this imputation becomes more glaring when we stock of the developments that had taken place in these
proceedings which show in bold relief the true nature of the conduct, behavior and character of the petitioner so
bitterly assailed and held in disrepute by the oppositors.
It should be recalled that the first petition for the probate of the will executed on June 20, 1939, was filed on
February 7, 1941, by the petitioner. There being no opposition, the will was probated. Subsequently, however,
upon petition of the herein oppositors, the order of the court admitting said will to probate was set aside, over the
vigorous opposition of the herein petitioner, and the case was reopened. The reopening was ordered because of
the strong opposition of the oppositors who contended that he will had not been executed as required by law.
After the evidence of both parties had been presented, the oppositors filed an extensive memorandum wherein
they reiterated their view that the will should be denied probate. And on the strenght of this opposition, the court
disallowed the will.
If petitioner then knew that the 1939 will was inherently defective and would make the testamentary disposition in
her favor invalid and ineffective, because it is a "disposicion captatoria", which knowledge she may easily acquire
through consultation with a lawyer, there was no need her to go through the order of filing the petition for the
probate of the will. She could accomplish her desire by merely suppressing the will or tearing or destroying it, and
then take steps leading to the probate of the will executed in 1918. But for her conscience was clear and bade her
to take the only proper step possible under the circumstances, which is to institute the necessary proceedings for
the probate of the 1939 will. This she did and the will was admitted to probate. But then the unexpected
happened. Over her vigorous opposition, the herein appellants filed a petition for reopening, and over her
vigorous objection, the same was granted and the case was reopened. Her motion for reconsideration was
denied. Is it her fault that the case was reopened? Is it her fault that the order admitting the will to probate was set
aside? That was a contingency which petitioner never expected. Had appellants not filed their opposition to the
probate of the will and had they limited their objection to the intrinsic validity of said will, their plan to defeat the will
and secure the intestacy of the deceased would have perhaps been accomplished. But they failed in their
strategy. If said will was denied probate it is due to their own effort. It is now unfair to impute bad faith petitioner
simply because she exerted every effort to protect her own interest and prevent the intestacy of the deceased to
happen.
Having reached the foregoing conclusions, it is obvious that the court did not commit the second and third errors
imputed to it by the counsel for appellants. Indeed, petitioner cannot be considered guilty or estoppel which would
prevent her from seeking the probate of the 1918 will simply because of her effort to obtain the allowance of the
1939 will has failed considering that in both the 1918 and 1939 wills she was in by her husband as his universal
heir. Nor can she be charged with bad faith far having done so because of her desire to prevent the intestacy of
her husband. She cannot be blamed being zealous in protecting her interest.
The next contention of appellants refers to the revocatory clause contained in 1939 will of the deceased which
was denied probate. They contend that, notwithstanding the disallowance of said will, the revocatory clause is
valid and still has the effect of nullifying the prior of 1918.
Counsel for petitioner meets this argument by invoking the doctrine laid down in the case of Samson vs. Naval,
(41 Phil., 838). He contends that the facts involved in that case are on all fours with the facts of this case. Hence,
the doctrine is that case is here controlling.
There is merit in this contention. We have carefully read the facts involved in the Samson case we are indeed
impressed by their striking similarity with the facts of this case. We do not need to recite here what those facts
are; it is enough to point out that they contain many points and circumstances in common. No reason, therefore,
is seen by the doctrine laid down in that case (which we quote hereunder) should not apply and control the
present case.
A subsequent will, containing a clause revoking a previous will, having been disallowed, for the reason that
it was not executed in conformity with the provisions of section 618 of the Code of Civil Procedure as to the
making of wills, cannot produce the effect of annulling the previous will, inasmuch as said revocatory clause
is void. (41 Phil., 838.)
Apropos of this question, counsel for oppositors make the remark that, while they do not disagree with the
soundness of the ruling laid down in the Samson case, there is reason to abandon said ruling because it is
archaic or antiquated and runs counter to the modern trend prevailing in American jurisprudence. They maintain
that said ruling is no longer controlling but merely represents the point of view of the minority and should,
therefore, be abandoned, more so if we consider the fact that section 623 of our Code of Civil Procedure, which
governs the revocation of wills, is of American origin and as such should follow the prevailing trend of the majority
view in the United States. A long line of authorities is cited in support of this contention. And these authorities hold
the view, that "an express revocation is immediately effective upon the execution of the subsequent will, and does
not require that it first undergo the formality of a probate proceeding". (p. 63, appellants' brief .
While they are many cases which uphold the view entertained by counsel for oppositors, and that view appears to
be in controlling the states where the decisions had been promulgated, however, we are reluctant to fall in line
with the assertion that is now the prevailing view in the United States. In the search we have made of American
authorities on the subject, we found ourselves in a pool of conflicting opinions perhaps because of the peculiar
provisions contained in the statutes adopted by each State in the subject of revocation of wills. But the impression
we gathered from a review and the study of the pertinent authorities is that the doctrine laid down in the Samson
case is still a good law. On page 328 of the American Jurisprudence Vol. 57, which is a revision Published in
1948, we found the following passages which in our opinion truly reflect the present trend of American
jurisprudence on this matter affecting the revocation of wills:
SEC. 471. Observance of Formalities in Execution of Instrument. Ordinarily, statutes which permit the
revocation of a will by another writing provide that to be effective as a revocation, the writing must be
executed with the same formalities which are required to be observed in the execution of a will. Accordingly,
where, under the statutes, attestation is necessary to the making of a valid will, an unattested non
testamentary writing is not effective to revoke a prior will. It has been held that a writing fails as a revoking
instrument where it is not executed with the formalities requisite for the execution of a will, even though it is
inscribed on the will itself, although it may effect a revocation by cancellation or obliteration of the words of
the will. A testator cannot reserve to himself the power to modify a will by a written instrument subsequently
prepared but not executed in the manner required for a will.
SEC, 472. Subsequent Unexecuted, Invalid, or Ineffective Will or Codicil. A will which is invalid because
of the incapacity of the testator, or of undue influence can have no effect whatever as a revoking will.
Moreover, a will is not revoked by the unexecuted draft of a later one. Nor is a will revoked by a defectively
executed will or codicil, even though the latter contains a clause expressly revoking the former will, in a
jurisdiction where it is provided by a controlling statute that no writing other than a testamentary instrument
is sufficient to revoke a will, for the simple reason that there is no revoking will. Similarly where the statute
provides that a will may be revoked by a subsequent will or other writing executed with the same formalities
as are required in the execution of wills, a defectively executed will does not revoke a prior will, since it
cannot be said that there is a writing which complies with the statute. Moreover, a will or codicil which, on
account of the manner in which it is executed, is sufficient to pass only personally does not affect
dispositions of real estate made by a former will, even though it may expressly purport to do so. The intent
of the testator to revoke is immaterial, if he has not complied with the statute. (57 Am. Jur., 328, 329.)
We find the same opinion in the American Law Reports, Annotated, edited in 1939. On page 1400, Volume 123,
there appear many authorities on the "application of rules where second will is invalid", among which a typical one
is the following:
It is universally agreed that where the second will is invalid on account of not being executed in accordance
with the provisions of the statute, or where the testator who has not sufficient mental capacity to make a will
or the will is procured through undue influence, or the such, in other words, where the second will is really
no will, it does not revoke the first will or affect it in any manner. Mort vs. Baker University (193-5) 229 Mo.
App., 632, 78 S.W. (2d), 498.
These treaties cannot be mistaken. They uphold the view on which the ruling in the Samson case is predicated.
They reflect the opinion that this ruling is sound and good and for this reason, we see no justification for
abondoning it as now suggested by counsel for the oppositors.
It is true that our law on the matter (sec. 623, Code Civil Procedure) provides that a will may be some will, codicil,
or other writing executed as proved in case of wills" but it cannot be said that the 1939 will should be regarded,
not as a will within the meaning of said word, but as "other writing executed as provided in the case of wills",
simply because it was denied probate. And even if it be regarded as any other writing within the meaning of said
clause, there is authority for holding that unless said writing is admitted to probate, it cannot have the effect of
revocation. (See 57 Am. Jur. pp. 329-330).
But counsel for oppositors contemned that, regardless of said revocatory clause, said will of 1918 cannot still be
given effect because of the presumption that it was deliberately revoked by the testator himself. The oppositors
contend that the testator, after executing the 1939 will, and with full knowledge of the recovatory clause contained
said will, himself deliberately destroyed the original of the 1918 will, and for that reason the will submitted by
petitioner for probate in these proceedings is only a duplicate of said original.
There is no evidence which may directly indicate that the testator deliberately destroyed the original of the 1918
will because of his knowledge of the revocatory clause contained in the will he executed in 1939. The only
evidence we have is that when the first will was executed in 1918, Juan Salcedo, who prepared it, gave the
original and copies to the testator himself and apparently they remained in his possession until he executed his
second will in 1939. And when the 1939 will was denied probate on November 29, 1943, and petitioner was asked
by her attorney to look for another will, she found the duplicate copy (Exhibit A) among the papers or files of the
testator. She did not find the original.
If it can be inferred that the testator deliberately destroyed the 1918 will because of his knowledge of the
revocatory clause of the 1939 will, and it is true that he gave a duplicate copy thereof to his wife, the herein
petitioner, the most logical step for the testator to take is to recall said duplicate copy in order that it may likewise
be destroyed. But this was not done as shown by the fact that said duplicate copy remained in the possession of
petitioner. It is possible that because of the long lapse of twenty-one (21) years since the first will was executed,
the original of the will had been misplaced or lost, and forgetting that there was a copy, the testator deemed it
wise to execute another will containing exactly the same testamentary dispositions. Whatever may be the
conclusion we may draw from this chain of circumstances, the stubborn fact is that there is no direct evidence of
voluntary or deliberate destruction of the first will by the testator. This matter cannot be inference or conjectur.
Granting for the sake of argument that the earlier will was voluntarily destroyed by the testator after the execution
of the second will, which revoked the first, could there be any doubt, under this theory, that said earlier will was
destroyed by the testator in the honest belief that it was no longer necessary because he had expressly revoked it
in his will of 1939? In other words, can we not say that the destruction of the earlier will was but the necessary
consequence of the testator's belief that the revocatory clause contained in the subsequent will was valid and the
latter would be given effect? If such is the case, then it is our opinion that the earlier will can still be admitted to
probate under the principle of "dependent relative revocation".
This doctrine is known as that of dependent relative revocation, and is usually applied where the testator
cancels or destroys a will or executes an instrument intended to revoke a will with a present intention to
make a new testamentary disposition as a substitute for the old, and the new disposition is not made or, if
made, fails of effect for same reason. The doctrine is n limited to the existence of some other document,
however, and has been applied where a will was destroyed as a consequence of a mistake of law. . . . (68
C.J.P. 799).
The rule is established that where the act of destruction is connected with the making of another will so as
fairly to raise the inference that the testator meant the revocation of the old to depend upon the efficacy of
a new disposition intended to be substituted, the revocation will be conditional and dependent upon the
efficacy of the new disposition; and if, for any reason, the new will intended to be made as a substitute is
inoperative, the revocation fails and the original will remains in full force. (Gardner, pp. 232, 233.)
This is the doctrine of dependent relative revocation. The failure of a new testamentary disposition upon
whose validity the revocation depends, is equivalent to the non-fulfillment of a suspensive conditions, and
hence prevents the revocation of the original will. But a mere intent to make at some time a will in the place
of that destroyed will not render the destruction conditional. It must appear that the revocation is dependent
upon the valid execution of a new will. (1 Alexander, p. 751; Gardner, p. 253.)
We hold therefore, that even in the supposition that the destruction of the original will by the testator could be
presumed from the failure of the petitioner to produce it in court, such destruction cannot have the effect of
defeating the prior will of 1918 because of the fact that it is founded on the mistaken belief that the will of 1939
has been validly executed and would be given due effect. The theory on which this principle is predicated is that
the testator did not intend to die intestate. And this intention is clearly manifest when he executed two wills on two
different occasion and instituted his wife as his universal heir. There can therefore be no mistake as to his
intention of dying testate.
The remaining question to be determined refers to the sufficiency of the evidence to prove the due execution of
the will.
The will in question was attested, as required by law, by three witnesses, Lorenzo Morales, Rufino Enriquez, and
Angel Cuenca. The first two witnesses died before the commencement of the present proceedings. So the only
instrumental witness available was Angel Cuenca and under our law and precedents, his testimony is sufficient to
prove the due execution of the will. However, petitioner presented not only the testimony of Cuenca but placed on
the witness stand Juan Salcedo, the notary public who prepared and notarized the will upon the express desire
and instruction of the testator, The testimony of these witnesses shows that the will had been executed in the
manner required by law. We have read their testimony and we were impressed by their readiness and sincerity.
We are convinced that they told the truth.
Wherefore, the order appealed from is hereby affirmed, with costs against the appellants.1wphl.nt
Paras, C.J. Feria, Pablo Bengzon, Tuason and Jugo JJ., concur.
The Lawphil Project - Arellano Law Foundation
PHILIPPINE JURISPRUDENCE - FULL TEXT
The Lawphil Project - Arellano Law Foundation
G.R. No. L-53546 June 25, 1992
JESUS FRAN, ET AL. vs. HON. BERNARDO LL. SALAS, ET AL.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
THIRD DIVISION

G.R. No. L-53546 June 25, 1992
THE HEIRS OF THE LATE JESUS FRAN and CARMEN MEJIA RODRIGUEZ, petitioners,
vs.
HON. BERNARDO LL. SALAS, CONCEPCION MEJIA ESPINA and MARIA MEJIA GANDIONGCO, respondents.

DAVIDE, JR., J.:
This is a petition for certiorari and prohibition under Rule 65 of the Revised Rules of Court, with prayer for a writ of
preliminary injunction, to annul and set aside, for having been issued without jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion
amounting to lack of jurisdiction, the following Orders of the respondent Judge in Special Proceedings No. 3309-R of
Branch VIII of the then Court of First Instance (now Regional Trial Court) of Cebu entitled "In The Matter of the Petition for
Probate of the Last Will and Testament of Remedios Mejia Vda. de Tiosejo:"
1. The Order of 26 February 1980 setting for hearing private respondents' Omnibus Motion for
Reconsideration
1
which was filed six (6) years, ten (10) months and eighteen (18) days after the
probate judgment was rendered and six (6) years and twenty-one (21) days after the testate
proceedings was declared closed and terminated; and
2. The Order of 2 June 1980 finding the signature of the testatrix in the last will and testament to be a
forgery and (a) declaring the testatrix as having died intestate; (b) declaring the testamentary dispositions
in said last will and testament as null and void; (c) setting aside the order dated 10 September 1973
declaring the testate proceedings closed and terminated; (d) revoking the appointment of Jesus Fran as
executor while appointing respondent Concepcion M. Espina as administratrix; and (e) ordering the
conversion of the proceedings to one of intestacy.
2
This Order effectively annulled and set aside the
probate judgment of 13 November 1972.
Petitioners would also have this Court nullify all other actions of respondent Judge in said Sp. Proc. No. 3309-R;
restore the status quo therein prior to the issuance of the foregoing orders; and permanently enjoin respondent
Judge from reopening said proceedings.
The following facts are not controverted:
Remedios M. Vda. de Tiosejo, a widow, died on 10 July 1972 in Cebu City with neither descendants nor ascendants; she
left real and personal properties located in Cebu City, Ormoc City and Puerto Bello, Merida, Leyte. Earlier, on 23 April
1972, she executed a last will and testament
3
wherein she bequeathed to her collateral relatives (brothers, sisters,
nephews and nieces) all her properties, and designated Rosario Tan or, upon the latter's death, Jesus Fran, as
executor to serve without bond. Instrumental witnesses to the will were Nazario Pacquiao, Alcio Demerre and
Primo Miro.
On 15 July 1972, Jesus Fran filed a petition with the Court of First instance of Cebu for the probate of Remedios' last will
and testament.
4
The case was raffled to the original Branch VIII thereof which was then presided over by Judge
Antonio D. Cinco. The petition alleged that Rosario Tan is not physically well and, therefore, will not be assuming
the position of administratrix. Tan signed a waiver in favor of Jesus Fran on the third page of the said petition.
The probate court issued an order setting the petition for hearing on 18 September 1972. Meanwhile, on 31 July
1972, the court appointed petitioner Jesus Fran as special administrator.
On 10 August 1972, the private respondents, who are sisters of the deceased, filed a manifestation
5
alleging that they
needed time to study the petition because some heirs who are entitled to receive their respective shares have
been intentionally omitted therein, and praying that they be given ample time to file their opposition, after which
the hearing be reset to another date.
Private respondents did not file any opposition. Instead, they filed on 18 September 1972 a "Withdrawal of Opposition to
the Allowance of Probate (sic) of the Will" wherein they expressly manifested, with their "full knowledge and consent that .
. . they have no objection of (sic) the allowance of the . . . will of the late Remedios Mejia Vda. de Tiosejo," and that they
have "no objection to the issuance of letters testamentary in favor of petitioner, Dr. Jesus Fran."
6
No other party filed an opposition. The petition thus became uncontested.
During the initial hearing, petitioner Fran introduced the requisite evidence to establish the jurisdictional facts.
Upon a determination that the court had duly acquired jurisdiction over the uncontested petition for probate, Judge Cinco
issued in open court an order directing counsel for petitioner to present evidence proving the authenticity and due
execution of the will before the Clerk of Court who was, accordingly, so authorized to receive the same.
The reception of evidence by the Clerk of Court immediately followed. Petitioner Fran's first witness was Atty. Nazario R.
Pacquiao, one at the subscribing witnesses to the will. The original of the will, marked as Exhibit "F", and its English
translation, marked as Exhibit "F-Translation", were submitted to the Clerk of Court.
7
Petitioner Fran was the second
and also the last witness. He enumerated the names of the surviving heirs of the deceased.
On 13 November 1972, the probate court rendered a decision admitting to probate the will of the testatrix, Remedios
Mejia Vda. de Tiosejo, and appointing petitioner Fran as executor thereof. 8 The dispositive portion of the decision reads:
WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing, judgment is hereby rendered declaring the last will and
testament of the deceased Remedios Mejia Vda. de Tiosejo marked as Exhibit F as admitted to probate.
Dr. Jesus Fran is hereby appointed as executor of the will. Let letters testamentary be issued in favor of Dr.
Jesus Fran. The special administrator's bond put up by Dr. Jesus Fran as special administrator duly
approved by this Court shall serve and be considered as the executor's bond considering that the special
administrator and executor are one and the same person.
The requisite notice to creditors was issued, but despite the expiration of the period therein fixed, no claim was presented
against the estate.
On 4 January 1973, petitioner Fran filed an Inventory of the Estate;
9
copies thereof were furnished each of the private
respondents.
Subsequently, a Project of Partition based on the dispositions made in the will and signed by all the devisees and
legatees, with the exception of Luis Fran, Remedios C. Mejia and respondent Concepcion M. Espina, was submitted by
the executor for the court's approval.
10
Said legatees and devisees submitted certifications wherein they admit
receipt of a copy of the Project of Partition together with the notice of hearing, and state that they had no
objection to its approval.
11
The notice of hearing referred to in these certifications is the 6 August 1973 notice issued by the Clerk of Court setting the
hearing on the Project of Partition for 29 August 1973.
12
After the hearing on the Project of Partition, the court issued its Order of 10 September 1973
13
approving the same,
declaring the parties therein as the only heirs entitled to the estate of Remedios Mejia Vda. de Tiosejo, directing
the administrator to deliver to the said parties their respective shares and decreeing the proceedings closed. The
dispositive portion thereof reads:
WHEREFORE, the signers (sic) to the project of partition are declared the only, heirs entitled to the estate;
the project of partition submitted is ordered approved and the administrator is ordered to deliver to each
one of them their respective aliquot parts as distributed in the said project of partition. It is understood that if
there are expenses incurred or to be incurred as expenses of partition, Section 3 of Rule 90 shall be
followed.
Let this proceedings be now declared closed.
SO ORDERED.
Thereafter, the aforesaid Branch VIII of the Court of First Instance of Cebu was converted to a Juvenile and Domestic
Relations Court. On November 1978, by virtue of Presidential Decree No. 1439, Branch XVII (Davao City) of the Court of
First Instance of Cebu, presided over by herein respondent Judge, was officially transferred to Cebu City and renumbered
as Branch VIII.
On 1 October 1979, private respondents filed with the new Branch VIII an Omnibus Motion for Reconsideration of the
probate judgment of 13 November 1972 and the Order of partition of 10 September 1973, in said motion, they ask the
court to declare the proceedings still open and admit their opposition to the allowance of the will,
14
which they filed on
1 October 1979. They allege that: (a) they were not furnished with a copy of the will; (b) the will is a forgery; (c)
they were not notified of any resolution or order on their manifestation requesting time within which to file their
opposition, or of the order authorizing the clerk of court to receive the evidence for the petitioner, or of the order
closing the proceedings; (d) the reception of evidence by the clerk of court was void per the ruling in Lim Tanhu
vs. Ramolete;
15
(e) the project of partition contains no notice of hearing and they were not notified thereof; (f) the
petitioner signed the project of partition as administrator and not as executor, thereby proving that the decedent
died intestate; (g) the petitioner did not submit any accounting as required by law; and (h) the petitioner never
distributed the estate to the devisees and legatees.
In a detailed opposition
16
to the above Omnibus Motion for Reconsideration, petitioner Fran refuted all the
protestations of private respondents. Among other reasons, he stresses therein that: (a) private respondents are
in estoppel to question the will because they filed their Withdrawal Of Opposition To The Allowance of Will which
states that after thoroughly studying the petition, to which was attached a copy of the English translation of the
will, they have no objection to its allowance; the order directing the clerk of court to receive the evidence was
dictated in open court in the presence of private respondents; private respondent Maria M. Gandiongco signed
the Project of Partition and private respondent Concepcion M. Espina submitted a certification stating therein that
she received the notice of hearing therefor and has no objection to its approval; (b) except for some properties,
either covered by a usufruct under the will or agreed upon by the parties to be held in common by reason of its
special circumstance, there was an actual distribution of the estate in accordance with the Project of Partition;
insofar as private respondents are concerned, they not only received their respective shares, they even
purchased the shares of the other devisees. To top it all, private respondents' children, namely Rodrigo M.
Gandiongco, Jr. and Victor Espina, mortgaged their respective shares in favor of a bank
Notwithstanding petitioners' objections, respondent Judge issued on 26 February 1980 an Order setting for hearing the
said Omnibus Motion for Reconsideration on 8 April 1980 so that "the witnesses and the exhibits (may be) properly
ventilated."
17
On 25 March 1980, petitioners filed a Motion to Dismiss the Omnibus and to Reconsider the 26 February 1980 Order
setting it for hearing on 17 April 1980,
18
but the respondent Judge prematurely denied it for lack of merit in his
Order of 31 March 1980.
19
Consequently, on 8 April 1980, the instant petition was filed challenging the jurisdiction of the lower court in taking
cognizance of the Omnibus Motion for Reconsideration considering that the probate judgment and the order approving
the Project of Partition and terminating the proceedings had long become final and had in fact been executed. Private
respondents had long lost their right to appeal therefrom. The Omnibus Motion for Reconsideration cannot likewise be
treated as a petition for relief from judgment for under Rule 38 of the Revised Rules of Court, the same must be filed
within sixty (60) days from receipt of notice of the judgment/order and within six (6) months from the date of said judgment.
Therefore, this remedy can no longer be availed of.
On 8 April 1980, the date the instant petition was filed, respondent Judge proceeded with the hearing of the Omnibus
Motion for Reconsideration. He received the testimonies of private respondents and one Romeo O. Varena, an alleged
handwriting expert from the Philippine Constabulary, who averred that the signature of the testatrix on the will is a forgery.
The respondent Judge likewise issued an Order on the same date stating that unless he received a restraining order from
this Court within twenty (20) days therefrom, he will reopen Sp. Proc. No. 3309-R.
On 14 April 1980, petitioners filed a Supplemental Petition asking this Court to restrain respondent Judge from reopening
the case.
20
In their voluminous Comments and Opposition to the petition and Supplemental Petition,
21
private respondents not
only amplify in great detail the grounds raised in their Omnibus Motion for Reconsideration, they also squarely
raise for the first time the following issues.
(a) The probate court never acquired jurisdiction over the case since petitioner Jesus Fran failed to submit
to the court the original of the will.
(b) They were deprived of the opportunity to examine the will as petitioner Jesus Fran did not attach it to
the petition; what was attached was only the English translation of the will.
(c) Even assuming that the probate judge could validly delegate the reception of evidence to the Clerk of
Court, the proceeding before the latter would still be void as he failed to take an oath of office before
entering upon his duties as commissioner and failed to render a report on the matters submitted to him.
(d) Respondent Maria M. Vda. de Gandiongco was defrauded into (sic) signing the Project of Partition and
respondent Concepcion M. Espina, her certification, when they were misled by petitioner Fran into
believing that the Agreement of Petition to be submitted to the court is the Extra Judicial Partition they
signed on 7 May 1973.
(e) Petitioner Fran is guilty of fraud in urdervaluing the estate of the late Remedios M. Vda. de Tiosejo by
reporting properties worth only P400,000.00 when in truth and in fact the estate has an aggregate value of
P2,094,333.00.
In the Resolution dated 2 June 1980, We issued a restraining order enjoining respondent Judge from reopening Sp. Proc.
No. 3309-R.
22
However, on the same date, before the restraining order was served on him; respondent Judge issued the impugned
order declaring the testamentary dispositions of the will void, finding the signature of the late Remedios M. Vda. de
Tiosejo to be a forgery, decreeing the reopening of Sp. Proc. No. 3309-R and converting the same into an intestate
proceeding.
23
Hence, on 6 June 1980, petitioners filed their Second Supplemental Petition
24
asking this Court to declare as null and
void the Order of 2 June 1980 and, pending such declaration, to restrain respondent Judge from enforcing the
same. Private respondents filed their Comment and Opposition to the Second Supplemental Petition on 9 July
1980.
Thereafter, as mandated in the resolution of 30 June 1980,
25
this Court gave due course to this case and required
the parties to file their respective Memoranda, which private respondents complied with on 16 August 1980;
26
petitioners filed theirs on 27 August 1980.
27
Consequently, the parties continued to file several pleadings
reiterating substantially the same allegations and arguments earlier submitted to this Court.
On 22 March 1984, counsel for petitioners filed a manifestation informing this Court of the death of petitioner Fran on 29
February 1984 and enumerating therein his surviving heirs. On 2 April 1984, this Court resolved to have said heirs
substitute him in this case.
Over a year later, respondent Maria M. Vda. de Gandiongco filed an affidavit,
28
sworn to before the acting Clerk of
Court of the Regional Trial Court in Cebu City, disclosing the following material facts: (a) she signed the Omnibus
Motion for Reconsideration dated 1 October 1979 without knowing or reading the contents thereof; (b) she saw
the will of the late Remedios M. Vda. de Tiosejo written in the Cebuano dialect after the same was executed by
the latter; the said will bearing the authentic signature of Remedios was the very one presented to the probate
court by petitioner's counsel; (c) she received the notice of hearing of the petition for probate and because she
was convinced that the signature of the testatrix was genuine, she, together with Concepcion M. Espina,
withdrew her opposition; (d) she received her share of the estate of the late Remedios M. Vda. de Tiosejo which
was distributed in accordance with the provisions of the latter's will; and (e) she did not authorize Atty. Numeriano
Estenzo or other lawyers to present a motion to this Court after 25 February 1981 when Estenzo withdrew as
counsel for private respondents. She then asks this Court to consider as withdrawn her Opposition to the
Allowance of the Will, her participation in the Omnibus Motion for Reconsideration and her Opposition to this
petition.
Due to this development, We required private respondent Concepcion M. Espina to comment on the affidavit of private
respondent Maria M. Vda. de Gandiongco.
On 17 August 1985, private respondents filed a joint manifestation
29
wherein they claim that Maria M. Vda. de
Gandiongco does not remember, executing the affidavit. A few weeks before the affidavit was filed, particularly
on 17 June 1985, Maria M. Vda. de Gandiongco was confined in the hospital; she could not recall having signed,
during this period, any affidavit or recognized her sisters and other relatives.
On 19 September 1985, respondent Maria M. Vda. de Gandiongco, through special counsel, filed a Manifestation/Motion
with a second Affidavit attached thereto
30
confessing that she signed the Joint Manifestation dated 16 August 1985
"without knowing or being informed of its contents, and only upon Mrs. Concepcion Espina's request." She
reiterated her desire to withdraw from the Omnibus Motion for Reconsideration filed in Sp. Proc. No, 3309-R as
well as from the instant petition.
Despite the valiant attempt of private respondent Concepcion M. Espina to influence and control the action of Maria
Gandiongco, there is nothing in the records that would cast any doubt on the irrevocability of the latter's decision to
withdraw her participation in the Omnibus Motion for Reconsideration and Opposition to this case. That decision,
however, is not a ground for dropping her as a private respondent as the respondent Judge had already issued the
abovementioned Order of 2 June 1980.
The petition and the supplemental petitions are impressed with merit.
We do not hesitate to rule that the respondent Judge committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction
when he granted the Omnibus Motion for Reconsideration and thereafter set aside the probate judgment of 13 November
1972 in Sp. Proc. No. 3309-R, declared the subject will of the testatrix a forgery, nullified the testamentary dispositions
therein and ordered the conversion of the testate proceedings into one of intestacy.
It is not disputed that private respondents filed on the day of the initial hearing of the petition their "Withdrawal of
Opposition To Allowance of Probate (sic) Will" wherein they unequivocally state that they have no objection to the
allowance of the will. For all legal intents and purposes, they became proponents of the same.
After the probate court rendered its decision on 13 November 1972, and there having been no claim presented despite
publication of notice to creditors, petitioner Fran submitted a Project of Partition which private respondent Maria M. Vda.
de Gandiongco voluntarily signed and to which private respondent Espina expressed her conformity through a
certification filed with the probate court. Assuming for the sake of argument that private respondents did not receive a
formal notice of the decision as they claim in their Omnibus Motion for Reconsideration, these acts nevertheless constitute
indubitable proof of their prior actual knowledge of the same. A formal notice would have been an idle ceremony. In
testate proceedings, a decision logically precedes the project of partition, which is normally an implementation of the will
and is among the last operative acts to terminate the proceedings. If private respondents did not have actual knowledge
of the decision, they should have desisted from performing the above acts and instead demanded from petitioner Fran the
fulfillment of his alleged promise to show them the will. The same conclusion refutes and defeats the plea that they were
not notified of the order authorizing the Clerk of Court to receive the evidence and that the Clerk of Court did not notify
them of the date of the reception of evidence. Besides, such plea must fail because private respondents were present
when the court dictated the said order.
Neither do We give any weight to the contention that the reception of evidence by the Clerk of Court is null and void per
the doctrine laid, down in Lim Tanhu vs. Ramolete.
31
In the first place, Lim Tanhu was decided on 29 August 1975,
nearly four (4) years after the probate court authorized the Clerk of Court to receive the evidence for the petitioner
in this case. A month prior to Lim Tanhu, or on 30 July 1975, this Court, in Laluan vs. Malpaya,
32
recognized
and upheld the practice of delegating the reception of evidence to Clerks of Court. Thus:
No provision of law or principle of public policy prohibits a court from authorizing its clerk of court to receive
the evidence of a party litigant. After all, the reception of evidence by the clerk of court constitutes but a
ministerial task the taking down of the testimony of the witnesses and the marking of the pieces of
documentary evidence, if any, adduced by the party present. This task of receiving evidence precludes, on
the part of the clerk of court the exercise of judicial discretion usually called for when the other party who is
present objects to questions propounded and to the admission of the documentary evidence proffered.
33
More importantly, the duty to render judgment on the merits of the case still rests with the judge
who is obliged to personally and directly prepare the decision based upon the evidence reported.
34
But where the proceedings before the clerk of court and the concomitant result thereof, i.e., the
judgment rendered by the court based on the evidence presented in such limited proceedings,
prejudice the substantial rights of the aggrieved party, then there exists, sufficient justification to
grant the latter complete opportunity to thresh out his case in court.
35
Monserrate vs. Court of Appeals,
36
decided on 29 September 1989, reiterated this rule. Lim Tanhu then cannot be
used as authority to nullify the order of the probate court authorizing the Clerk of Court to receive the evidence for
the rule is settled that "when a doctrine of this Court is overruled and a different view is adopted, the new doctrine
should be applied prospectively, and should not apply to parties who had relied on the old doctrine and acted on
the faith thereof."
37
It may also be emphasized in this connection that Lim Tanhu did not live long; it was
subsequently overruled in Gochangco vs. Court of First Instance of Negros Occidental,
38
wherein this Court, en
banc, through Justice, now Chief Justice, Andres R. Narvasa, in reference to what the trial court termed as "the
doctrinal rule laid down in the recent case of Lim Tan Hu (sic) vs. Ramolete," ruled:
Now, that declaration does not reflect long observed and established judicial practice with respect to
default cases. It is not quite consistent, too, with the several explicitly authorized instances under the Rules
where the function of receiving evidence and even of making recommendatory findings of facts on the
basis thereof may be delegated to commissioners, inclusive of the Clerk of Court. These instances are set
out in Rule 33, . . . ; Rule 67 and 69, . . . ; Rule 86, . . . ; Rule 136, . . . . In all these instances, the
competence of the clerk of court is assumed. Indeed, there would seem, to be sure, nothing intrinsically
wrong in allowing presentation of evidence ex parte before a Clerk of Court. Such a procedure certainly
does not foreclose relief to the party adversely affected who, for valid cause and upon appropriate and
seasonable application, may bring about the undoing thereof or the elimination of prejudice thereby
caused to him; and it is, after all, the Court itself which is duty bound and has the ultimate responsibility to
pass upon the evidence received in this manner, discarding in the process such proofs as are incompetent
and then declare what facts have thereby been established. In considering and analyzing the evidence
preparatory to rendition of judgment on the merits, it may not unreasonably be assumed that any serious
error in the ex-parte presentation of evidence, prejudicial to any absent party, will be detected and duly
remedied by the Court, and/or may always, in any event, be drawn to its attention by any interested party.
xxx xxx xxx
It was therefore error for the Court a quo to have declared the judgment by default to be fatally flawed by
the fact that the plaintiff's evidence had been received not by the Judge himself but by the clerk of court.
The alternative claim that the proceedings before the Clerk of Court were likewise void because said official did not take
an oath is likewise untenable. The Clerk of Court acted as such when he performed the delegated task of receiving
evidence. It was not necessary for him to take an oath for that purpose; he was bound by his oath of office as a Clerk of
Court. Private respondents are obviously of the impression that by the delegation of the reception of evidence to the Clerk
of Court, the latter became a commissioner as defined under Rule 33 of the Rules of Court entitled Trial by
Commissioner. This is not correct; as this Court said in Laluan:
The provisions of Rule 33 of the Rules of Court invoked by both parties properly relate to the reference by
a court of any or all of the issues in a case to a person so commissioned to act or report thereon. These
provisions explicitly spell out the rules governing the conduct of the court, the commissioner, and the
parties before, during, and after the reference proceedings. Compliance with these rules of conduct
becomes imperative only when the court formally orders a reference of the case to a commissioner. Strictly
speaking then, the provisions of Rule 33 find no application to the case at bar where the court a quo
merely directed the clerk of court to take down the testimony of the witnesses presented and to mark the
documentary evidence proferred on a date previously set for hearing.
Belatedly realizing the absence of substance of the above grounds, private respondents now claim in their Comments to
the Petition and the Supplemental Petition that the trial court never acquired jurisdiction over the petition because only the
English translation of the will and not a copy of the same was attached to the petition; the will was not even
submitted to the court for their examination within twenty (20) days after the death of the testatrix; and that there was fraud
in the procurement of the probate judgment principally because they were not given any chance to examine the signature
of the testatrix and were misled into signing the withdrawal of their opposition on the assurance of petitioner Fran and
their sister, Rosario M. Tan, that the will would be shown to them during the trial. These two grounds easily serve as the
bases for the postulation that the decision is null and void and so, therefore, their omnibus motion became all the more
timely and proper.
The contentions do not impress this Court.
In Santos vs. Castillo
39
and Salazar vs. Court of First Instance of Laguna,
40
decided six (6) months apart in 1937,
this Court already ruled that it is not necessary that the original of the will be attached to the petition. In the first,
it ruled: "The original of said document [the will] must be presented or sufficient reasons given to justify the
nonpresentation of said original and the acceptance of the copy or duplicate thereof."
41
In the second case, this
Court was more emphatic in holding that:
The law is silent as to the specific manner of bringing the jurisdictional allegations before the court, but
practice and jurisprudence have established that they should be made in the form of an application and
filed with the original of the will attached thereto. It has been the practice in some courts to permit
attachment of a mere copy of the will to the application, without prejudice to producing the original thereof
at the hearing or when the court so requires. This precaution has been adopted by some attorneys to
forestall its disappearance, which has taken place in certain cases.
42
That the annexing of the original will to the petition is not a jurisdictional requirement is clearly evident in Section 1, Rule
76 of the Rules of Court which allows the filing of a petition for probate by the person named therein regardless of
whether or not he is in possession of the will, or the same is lost or destroyed. The section reads in full as follows:
Sec. 1. Who may petition for the allowance of will. Any executor, devisee, or legatee named in a will, or
any other person interested in the estate, may, at any time after the death of the testator, petition the court
having jurisdiction to have the will allowed, whether the same be in his possession or not, or is lost or
destroyed.
In the instant case, a copy of the original will and its English translation were attached to the petition as Annex "A" and
Annex "A-1", respectively, and made integral parts of the same. It is to be presumed that upon the filing of the petition the
Clerk of Court, or his duly authorized subordinate, examined the petition and found that the annexes mentioned were in
fact attached thereto. If they were not, the petition cannot be said to have been properly presented and the Clerk of Court
would not have accepted it for docketing. Under Section 6, Rule 136 of the Rules of Court, the Clerk of Court shall receive
and file all pleadings and other papers properly presented, endorsing on each such paper the time when it was filed. The
presumption of regularity in the performance of official duty militates against private respondents' claim that Annex "A" of
the petition was not in fact attached thereto.
The certification of the Assistant Clerk of Court issued on 8 April
1980,
43
or SIX (6) months after the filing of the motion for reconsideration, to the effect that as per examination
of the records of Sp. Proc. No. 3309-R, "the copy of the Will mentioned in the petition as Annex "A" is not found
to be attached as of this date in the said petition; only the English Translation of said Will is attached thereof
(sic) as Annex "A-1" does not even save the day for private respondents. It is not conclusive because it fails to
state the fact that as hereafter shown, the pages of the records which correspond to the four (4) pages of Annex
"A" were missing or were detached therefrom. As emphatically asserted by the petitioners in their Reply to the
Comments of private respondents,
44
duly supported by a certification of the former Clerk of Court of the original
Branch VIII of the court below,
45
and which private respondents merely generally denied in their motion for
reconsideration with comments and opposition to consolidated reply,
46
the four-page xerox copy of will, marked
as Annex "A" of the petition, became, as properly marked by the personnel of the original Branch VIII of the court
below upon the filing of the petition, pages 5, 6, 7 and 8 while the translation thereof, marked as Annex "A-1",
became pages 9, 10, 11 and 12 of the records. The markings were done in long hand. The records of the case
were thereafter sent to the Clerk of Court, 14th Judicial District, Cebu City on 9 February 1978. These records,
now in the possession of the respondent Judge, show that said pages 5, 6, 7 and 8 in long are missing. As a
consequence thereof, petitioners filed with the Executive Judge of the court below an administrative complaint.
It is not likewise disputed that the original of the will was submitted in evidence and marked as Exhibit "F". It forms part of
the records of the special proceedings a fact which private respondents admit in their Omnibus Motion for
Reconsideration, thus:
9. That an examination of the alleged will of our deceased sister has revealed that the signatures at the left
hand margin of Exhibit "F", are written by (sic) different person than the signature appearing at the bottom
of said alleged will . . .
47
The availability of the will since 18 September 1972 for their examination renders completely baseless the private
respondents' claim of fraud on petitioner Fran's part in securing the withdrawal of their opposition to the probate of the will.
If indeed such withdrawal was conditioned upon Fran's promise that the private respondents would be shown the will
during the trial, why weren't the appropriate steps taken by the latter to confront Fran about this promise before
certifications of conformity to the project of partition were filed?
Granting for the sake of argument that the non-fulfillment of said promise constitutes fraud, such fraud is not of the kind
which provides sufficient justification for a motion for reconsideration or a petition for relief from judgment under Rule 37
and Rule 38, respectively, of the Rules of Court, or even a separate action for annulment of judgment. It is settled that for
fraud to be invested with, sufficiency, it must be extrinsic or collateral to the matters involved in the issues raised during
the trial which resulted in such judgment.
48
In Our jurisdiction, the following courses of action are open to an aggrieved party to set aside or attack the validity of a
final judgment:
(1) Petition for relief under Rule 38 of the Rules of Court which must be filed within sixty (60) days after
learning of the decision, but not more than six (6) months after such decision is entered;
(2) By direct action, via a special civil action for certiorari, or by collateral attack, assuming that the decision
is void for want of jurisdiction;
(3) By an independent civil action under Article 1114 of the Civil Code, assuming that the decision was
obtained through fraud and Rule 38 can not be applied.
49
It is not difficult to see that private respondents had lost their right to file a petition for relief from judgment, it appearing that
their omnibus motion for reconsideration was filed exactly six (6) years, ten (10) months and twenty-two (22) days after the
rendition of the decision, and six (6) years, one (1) month and thirteen (13) days after the court issued the order approving
the Project of Partition, to which they voluntarily expressed their conformity through their respective certifications, and
closing the testate proceedings.
Private respondents did not avail of the other two (2) modes of attack.
The probate judgment of 13 November 1972, long final and undisturbed by any attempt to unsettle it, had inevitably
passed beyond the reach of the court below to annul or set the same aside, by mere motion, on the ground that the will is
a forgery. Settled is the rule that the decree of probate is conclusive with respect to the due execution of the will and it
cannot be impugned on any of the grounds authorized by law, except that of fraud, in any separate or independent action
or proceeding.
50
We wish also to advert to the related doctrine which holds that final judgments are entitled to
respect and should not be disturbed; otherwise, there would be a wavering of trust in the courts.
51
In Lee Bun
Ting vs. Aligaen,
52
this Court had the occasion to state the rationale of this doctrine, thus:
Reasons of public policy, judicial orderliness, economy and judicial time and the interests of litigants, as
well as the peace and order of society, all require that stability be accorded the solemn and final judgments
of the courts or tribunals of competent jurisdiction.
This is so even if the decision is incorrect
53
or, in criminal cases, the penalty imposed is erroneous.
54
Equally baseless and unmeritorious is private respondents' contention that the order approving the Project of Partition
and closing the proceedings is null and void because the Project of Partition did not contain a notice of hearing and that
they were not notified of the hearing thereon. In truth, in her own certification
55
dated 5 September 1973, private
respondent Concepcion M. Espina admitted that she "received a copy of the Project of Partition and the Notice of
Hearing in the above-entitled proceeding, and that she has no objection to the approval of the said Project of
Partition." The notice of hearing she referred to is the Notice of Hearing For Approval of Project of Partition
issued on 6 August 1973 by the Clerk of Court.
56
Private respondent Espina was lying through her teeth when
she claimed otherwise.
The non-distribution of the estate, which is vigorously denied by the petitioners, is not a ground for the re-opening of the
testate proceedings. A seasonable motion for execution should have been filed. In De Jesus vs.
Daza,
57
this Court ruled that if the executor or administrator has possession of the share to be delivered, the
probate court would have jurisdiction within the same estate proceeding to order him to transfer that possession
to the person entitled thereto. This is authorized under Section 1, Rule 90 of the Rules of Court. However, if no
motion for execution is filed within the reglementary period, a separate action for the recovery of the shares would
be in order. As We see it, the attack of 10 September 1973 on the Order was just a clever ploy to give
asemblance of strength and substance to the Omnibus Motion for Reconsideration by depicting therein a probate
court committing a series of fatal, substantive and procedural blunders, which We find to be imaginary, if not
deliberately fabricated.
WHEREFORE, the instant petition and supplemental petitions are GRANTED. The Order of respondent Judge of 2 June
1980 and all other orders issued by him in Sp. Proc. No. 3309-R, as well as all other proceedings had therein in
connection with or in relation to the Omnibus Motion for Reconsideration, are hereby ANNULLED and SET ASIDE.
The restraining order issued on 2 June 1980 is hereby made PERMANENT.
Costs against private respondent Concepcion M. Espina.
SO ORDERED.
Gutierrez, Jr., Bidin and Romero, JJ., concur.
Feliciano, J., took no part.

Footnotes
1 Rollo, 13.
2 Rollo, 475-486.
3 Id., 370-373.
4 Rollo, 14-16.
5 Id., 18-19.
6 Rollo, 20.
7 Xerox copies thereof are on pages 370-373 and 388-391 of Rollo.
8 Rollo, 394-403.
9 Annex "J" to Consolidated Reply to Respondents' Comment, etc.; Id., 410-415.
10 Id., 21-26.
11 Rollo, 27; 29. More specifically, private respondent Concepcion Espina's certification, dated 5
September 1973, reads: "The undersigned, legatee and heir of the deceased Remedios Mejia vda. de
Tiosejo, hereby certify (sic) that she received a copy of the Project of Partition and the Notice of Hearing in
the above-entitled proceeding, and that she has no objection to the approval of the said Project of Partition.
12 Annex "H" to Consolidated Reply to Respondents' Comment, etc.; Id., 406.
13 Id., 28-29.
14 Rollo, 30-36.
15 66 SCRA 425 [1975].
16 Rollo, 37-50.
17 Rollo, 13.
18 Id., 51-78.
19 Id., 81.
20 Rollo, 87-95.
21 Id., 119-157; 240-290.
22 Rollo, 320.
23 Id., 474-486.
24 Id., 459-472.
25 Rollo, 449.
26 Id., 779-971.
27 Id., 985-1027.
28 Id., 1369-1370, with the English translation at 1371-1372.
29 Rollo, 1375-1376.
30 Rollo. 1425-1430.
31 Supra.
32 65 SCRA 494 [1975].
33 Citing Wack Wack Golf and Country Club, Inc. vs. Court of Appeals, 106 Phil. 501 [1959].
34 Citing The Province of Pangasinan vs. Palisoc, 6 SCRA 299 [1962].
35 At pages 499-500.
36 178 SCRA 153. [1989].
37 People vs. Jabinal, 55 SCRA 607 [1974].
38 157 SCRA 40 [1988].
39 64 Phil. 211 [1937].
40 64 Phil. 785 [1937].
41 Underscoring supplied for emphasis.
42 Underscoring supplied for emphasis.
43 Annex "1" of Comments; Rollo, 158.
44 Rollo, 255, et seq.
45 Annex "C" of the Reply.
46 Rollo, op. cit., 624, et seq.
47 Rollo, 31-32.
48 Anuran vs. Aquino, 38 Phil. 29 [1918]; Garchitorena vs. Sotelo, 74 Phil. 25 [1942]; Ramos vs. Albano, 92
Phil. 834 [1953].
49 Anuran vs. Aquino, supra.; Banco Espaol-Filipino vs. Palanca, 37 Phil. 921 [1918]; Garchitorena vs.
Sotelo, supra.; Santiago vs. Ceniza, 5 SCRA 494 [1962].
50 Manahan vs. Manahan, 58 Phil. 448, 451 [1933], citing several cases.
51 Yuseco vs. Court of Appeals, 68 SCRA 484 [1975]; San Juan vs. Cuento, 160 SCRA 277 [1988].
52 76 SCRA 416 [1977], see also Turqueza vs. Hernando, 97 SCRA 483 [1980].
53 Balais vs. Balais, 159 SCRA 37 [1988]; San Juan vs. Cuento, supra.
54 Castillo vs. Donato, 137 SCRA 210 [1985]; Icao vs. Apalisok, 180 SCRA 680 [1989].
55 Annex "F" of Petition; Rollo, 27.
56 Id., 501.
57 77 Phil. 152 [1946]; see also Torres vs. Encarnacion, 89 Phil. 678 [1951].
The Lawphil Project - Arellano Law Foundation
Today is Monday, July 14, 2014
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
SECOND DIVISION

G.R. No. 103554 May 28, 1993
TEODORO CANEDA, LORENZA CANEDA, TERESA CANEDA, JUAN CABALLERO, AUREA CABALLERO,
OSCAR LAROSA, HELEN CABALLERO, SANTOS CABALLERO, PABLO CABALLERO, VICTOR RAGA,
MAURICIA RAGA, QUIRICA RAGA, RUPERTO ABAPO, represented herein by his Attorney-in-Fact,
ARMSTICIA * ABAPO VELANO, and CONSESO CANEDA, represented herein by his heirs, JESUS CANEDA,
NATIVIDAD CANEDA and ARTURO CANEDA, petitioners,
vs.
HON. COURT OF APPEALS and WILLIAM CABRERA, as Special Administrator of the Estate of Mateo
Caballero, respondents.
Palma, Palma & Associates for petitioners.
Emilio Lumontad, Jr. for private respondents.

REGALADO, J.:
Presented for resolution by this Court in the present petition for review on certiorari is the issue of whether or not
the attestation clause contained in the last will and testament of the late Mateo Caballero complies with the
requirements of Article 805, in relation to Article 809, of the Civil Code.
The records show that on December 5, 1978, Mateo Caballero, a widower without any children and already in the
twilight years of his life, executed a last will and testament at his residence in Talisay, Cebu before three attesting
witnesses, namely, Cipriano Labuca, Gregorio Cabando and Flaviano Toregosa. The said testator was duly
assisted by his lawyer, Atty. Emilio Lumontad, and a notary public, Atty. Filoteo Manigos, in the preparation of that
last will.
1
It was declared therein, among other things, that the testator was leaving by way of legacies and devises his real
and personal properties to Presentacion Gaviola, Angel Abatayo, Rogelio Abatayo, Isabelito Abatayo, Benoni G. Cabrera
and Marcosa Alcantara, all of whom do not appear to be related to the testator.
2
Four months later, or on April 4, 1979, Mateo Caballero himself filed a petition docketed as Special Proceeding
No. 3899-R before Branch II of the then Court of First Instance of Cebu seeking the probate of his last will and
testament. The probate court set the petition for hearing on August 20, 1979 but the same and subsequent
scheduled hearings were postponed for one reason to another. On May 29, 1980, the testator passed away
before his petition could finally be heard by the probate court.
3
On February 25, 1981, Benoni Cabrera, on of the
legatees named in the will, sough his appointment as special administrator of the testator's estate, the estimated value of
which was P24,000.00, and he was so appointed by the probate court in its order of March 6, 1981.
4
Thereafter, herein petitioners, claiming to be nephews and nieces of the testator, instituted a second petition,
entitled "In the Matter of the Intestate Estate of Mateo Caballero" and docketed as Special Proceeding No. 3965-
R, before Branch IX of the aforesaid Court of First Instance of Cebu. On October 18, 1982, herein petitioners had
their said petition intestate proceeding consolidated with Special Proceeding No. 3899-R in Branch II of the Court
of First Instance of Cebu and opposed thereat the probate of the Testator's will and the appointment of a special
administrator for his estate.
5
Benoni Cabrera died on February 8, 1982 hence the probate court, now known as Branch XV of the Regional
Trial Court of Cebu, appointed William Cabrera as special administrator on June 21, 1983. Thereafter, on July 20,
1983, it issued an order for the return of the records of Special Proceeding No. 3965-R to the archives since the
testate proceeding for the probate of the will had to be heard and resolved first. On March 26, 1984 the case was
reraffled and eventually assigned to Branch XII of the Regional Trial Court of Cebu where it remained until the
conclusion of the probate proceedings.
6
In the course of the hearing in Special Proceeding No. 3899-R, herein petitioners appeared as oppositors and
objected to the allowance of the testator's will on the ground that on the alleged date of its execution, the testator
was already in the poor state of health such that he could not have possibly executed the same. Petitioners
likewise reiterated the issue as to the genuineness of the signature of the testator therein.
7
On the other hand, one of the attesting witnesses, Cipriano Labuca, and the notary public Atty. Filoteo Manigos,
testified that the testator executed the will in question in their presence while he was of sound and disposing mind
and that, contrary to the assertions of the oppositors, Mateo Caballero was in good health and was not unduly
influenced in any way in the execution of his will. Labuca also testified that he and the other witnesses attested
and signed the will in the presence of the testator and of each other. The other two attesting witnesses were not
presented in the probate hearing as the had died by then.
8
On April 5, 1988, the probate court rendered a decision declaring the will in question as the last will and testament
of the late Mateo Caballero, on the ratiocination that:
. . . The self-serving testimony of the two witnesses of the oppositors cannot overcome the positive
testimonies of Atty. Filoteo Manigos and Cipriano Labuca who clearly told the Court that indeed
Mateo Caballero executed the Last Will and Testament now marked Exhibit "C" on December 5,
1978. Moreover, the fact that it was Mateo Caballero who initiated the probate of his Will during his
lifetime when he caused the filing of the original petition now marked Exhibit "D" clearly underscores
the fact that this was indeed his Last Will. At the start, counsel for the oppositors manifested that he
would want the signature of Mateo Caballero in Exhibit "C" examined by a handwriting expert of the
NBI but it would seem that despite their avowal and intention for the examination of this signature of
Mateo Caballero in Exhibit "C", nothing came out of it because they abandoned the idea and instead
presented Aurea Caballero and Helen Caballero Campo as witnesses for the oppositors.
All told, it is the finding of this Court that Exhibit "C" is the Last Will and Testament of Mateo Caballero
and that it was executed in accordance with all the requisites of the law.
9
Undaunted by the said judgment of the probate court, petitioners elevated the case in the Court of Appeals in CA-
G.R. CV No. 19669. They asserted therein that the will in question is null and void for the reason that its
attestation clause is fatally defective since it fails to specifically state that the instrumental witnesses to the will
witnessed the testator signing the will in their presence and that they also signed the will and all the pages thereof
in the presence of the testator and of one another.
On October 15, 1991, respondent court promulgated its decision
10
affirming that of the trial court, and ruling that the
attestation clause in the last will of Mateo Caballero substantially complies with Article 805 of the Civil Code, thus:
The question therefore is whether the attestation clause in question may be considered as having
substantialy complied with the requirements of Art. 805 of the Civil Code. What appears in the
attestation clause which the oppositors claim to be defective is "we do certify that the testament was
read by him and the attestator, Mateo Caballero, has published unto us the foregoing will consisting
of THREE PAGES, including the acknowledgment, each page numbered correlatively in letters of the
upper part of each page, as his Last Will and Testament, and he has signed the same and every
page thereof, on the spaces provided for his signature and on the left hand margin in the presence of
the said testator and in the presence of each and all of us (emphasis supplied).
To our thinking, this is sufficient compliance and no evidence need be presented to indicate the
meaning that the said will was signed by the testator and by them (the witnesses) in the presence of
all of them and of one another. Or as the language of the law would have it that the testator signed
the will "in the presence of the instrumental witnesses, and that the latter witnessed and signed the
will and all the pages thereof in the presence of the testator and of one another." If not completely or
ideally perfect in accordance with the wordings of Art. 805 but (sic) the phrase as formulated is in
substantial compliance with the requirement of the law."
11
Petitioners moved for the reconsideration of the said ruling of respondent court, but the same was denied in the
latter's resolution of January 14, 1992,
12
hence this appeal now before us. Petitioners assert that respondent court has
ruled upon said issue in a manner not in accord with the law and settled jurisprudence on the matter and are now questioning
once more, on the same ground as that raised before respondent court, the validity of the attestation clause in the last will
of Mateo Caballero.
We find the present petition to be meritorious, as we shall shortly hereafter, after some prefatory observations
which we feel should be made in aid of the rationale for our resolution of the controversy.
1. A will has been defined as a species of conveyance whereby a person is permitted, with the formalities
prescribed by law, to control to a certain degree the disposition of his estate after his death.
13
Under the Civil
Code, there are two kinds of wills which a testator may execute.
14
the first kind is the ordinary or attested will, the
execution of which is governed by Articles 804 to 809 of the Code. Article 805 requires that:
Art. 805. Every will, other than a holographic will, must be subscribed at the end thereof by the
testator himself or by the testator's name written by some other person in his presence, and by his
express direction, and attested and subscribed by three or more credible witnesses in the presence
of the testator and of one another.
The testator or the person requested by him to write his name and the instrumental witnesses of the
will, shall also sign, as aforesaid, each and every page thereof, except the last, on the left margin,
and all the pages shall be numbered correlatively in letters placed on the upper part of each page.
The attestation should state the number of pages used upon which the will is written, and the fact
that the testator signed the will and every page thereof, or caused some other person to write his
name, under his express direction, in the presence of the instrumental witnesses, and that the latter
witnessed and signed the will and all the pages thereof in the presence of the testator and of one
another.
If the attestation clause is in a language not known to the witness, it shall be interpreted to them.
In addition, the ordinary will must be acknowledged before a notary public by a testator and the attesting witness.
15
hence it is likewise known as notarial will. Where the attestator is deaf or deaf-mute, Article 807 requires that he must
personally read the will, if able to do so. Otherwise, he should designate two persons who would read the will and
communicate its contents to him in a practicable manner. On the other hand, if the testator is blind, the will should be read
to him twice; once, by anyone of the witnesses thereto, and then again, by the notary public before whom it is
acknowledged.
16
The other kind of will is the holographic will, which Article 810 defines as one that is entirely written, dated, and
signed by the testator himself. This kind of will, unlike the ordinary type, requires no attestation by witnesses. A
common requirement in both kinds of will is that they should be in writing and must have been executed in a
language or dialect known to the testator.
17
However, in the case of an ordinary or attested will, its attestation clause need not be written in a language or
dialect known to the testator since it does not form part of the testamentary disposition. Furthermore, the
language used in the attestation clause likewise need not even be known to the attesting witnesses.
18
The last
paragraph of Article 805 merely requires that, in such a case, the attestation clause shall be interpreted to said witnesses.
An attestation clause refers to that part of an ordinary will whereby the attesting witnesses certify that the
instrument has been executed before them and to the manner of the execution the same.
19
It is a separate
memorandum or record of the facts surrounding the conduct of execution and once signed by the witnesses, it gives
affirmation to the fact that compliance with the essential formalities required by law has been observed.
20
It is made for the
purpose of preserving in a permanent form a record of the facts that attended the execution of a particular will, so that in
case of failure of the memory of the attesting witnesses, or other casualty, such facts may still be proved.
21
Under the third paragraph of Article 805, such a clause, the complete lack of which would result in the invalidity of
the will,
22
should state (1) the number of the pages used upon which the will is written; (2) that the testator signed, or
expressly caused another to sign, the will and every page thereof in the presence of the attesting witnesses; and (3) that the
attesting witnesses witnessed the signing by the testator of the will and all its pages, and that said witnesses also signed
the will and every page thereof in the presence of the testator and of one another.
The purpose of the law in requiring the clause to state the number of pages on which the will is written is to
safeguard against possible interpolation or omission of one or some of its pages and to prevent any increase or
decrease in the pages;
23
whereas the subscription of the signature of the testator and the attesting witnesses is made
for the purpose of authentication and identification, and thus indicates that the will is the very same instrument executed by
the testator and attested to by the witnesses.
24
Further, by attesting and subscribing to the will, the witnesses thereby declare the due execution of the will as
embodied in the attestation clause.
25
The attestation clause, therefore, provide strong legal guaranties for the due
execution of a will and to insure the authenticity thereof.
26
As it appertains only to the witnesses and not to the testator, it
need be signed only by them.
27
Where it is left unsigned, it would result in the invalidation of the will as it would be possible
and easy to add the clause on a subsequent occasion in the absence of the testator and its witnesses.
28
In its report, the Code Commission commented on the reasons of the law for requiring the formalities to be
followed in the execution of wills, in the following manner:
The underlying and fundamental objectives 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 with respect to the formalities in the execution of
wills. . . .
29
2. An examination of the last will and testament of Mateo Caballero shows that it is comprised of three sheets all
of which have been numbered correlatively, with the left margin of each page thereof bearing the respective
signatures of the testator and the three attesting witnesses. The part of the will containing the testamentary
dispositions is expressed in the Cebuano-Visayan dialect and is signed at the foot thereof by the testator. The
attestation clause in question, on the other hand, is recited in the English language and is likewise signed at the
end thereof by the three attesting witnesses hereto.
30
Since it is the proverbial bone of contention, we reproduce it
again for facility of reference:
We, the undersigned attesting Witnesses, whose Residences and postal addresses appear on the
Opposite of our respective names, we do hereby certify that the Testament was read by him and the
testator, MATEO CABALLERO; has published unto us the foregoing Will consisting of THREE
PAGES, including the Acknowledgment, each page numbered correlatively in the letters on the upper
part of each page, as his Last Will and Testament and he has the same and every page thereof, on
the spaces provided for his signature and on the left hand margin, in the presence of the said
testator and in the presence of each and all of us.
It will be noted that Article 805 requires that the witness should both attest and subscribe to the will in the
presence of the testator and of one another. "Attestation" and "subscription" differ in meaning. Attestation is the
act of senses, while subscription is the act of the hand. The former is mental, the latter mechanical, and to attest a
will is to know that it was published as such, and to certify the facts required to constitute an actual and legal
publication; but to subscribe a paper published as a will is only to write on the same paper the names of the
witnesses, for the sole purpose of identification.
31
In Taboada vs. Rizal,
32
we clarified that 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. As it involves a
mental act, there would be no means, therefore, of ascertaining by a physical examination of the will whether the witnesses
had indeed signed in the presence of the testator and of each other unless this is substantially expressed in the attestation.
It is contended by petitioners that the aforequoted attestation clause, in contravention of the express
requirements of the third paragraph of Article 805 of the Civil Code for attestation clauses, fails to specifically state
the fact that the attesting witnesses the testator sign the will and all its pages in their presence and that they, the
witnesses, likewise signed the will and every page thereof in the presence of the testator and of each other. We
agree.
What is fairly apparent upon a careful reading of the attestation clause herein assailed is the fact that while it
recites that the testator indeed signed the will and all its pages in the presence of the three attesting witnesses
and states as well the number of pages that were used, the same does not expressly state therein the
circumstance that said witnesses subscribed their respective signatures to the will in the presence of the testator
and of each other.
The phrase "and he has signed the same and every page thereof, on the spaces provided for his signature and
on the left hand margin," obviously refers to the testator and not the instrumental witnesses as it is immediately
preceded by the words "as his Last Will and Testament." On the other hand, although the words "in the presence
of the testator and in the presence of each and all of us" may, at first blush, appear to likewise signify and refer to
the witnesses, it must, however, be interpreted as referring only to the testator signing in the presence of the
witnesses since said phrase immediately follows the words "he has signed the same and every page thereof, on
the spaces provided for his signature and on the left hand margin." What is then clearly lacking, in the final logical
analysis , is the statement that the witnesses signed the will and every page thereof in the presence of the
testator and of one another.
It is our considered view that the absence of that statement required by law is a fatal defect or imperfection which
must necessarily result in the disallowance of the will that is here sought to be admitted to probate. Petitioners are
correct in pointing out that the aforestated defect in the attestation clause obviously cannot be characterized as
merely involving the form of the will or the language used therein which would warrant the application of the
substantial compliance rule, as contemplated in the pertinent provision thereon in the Civil Code, to wit:
Art. 809. In the absence of bad faith, forgery, or fraud, or undue and improper pressure and
influence, defects and imperfections in the form of attestation or in the language used therein shall
not render the will invalid if it is not proved that the will was in fact executed and attested in
substantial compliance with all the requirements of article 805" (Emphasis supplied.)
While it may be true that the attestation clause is indeed subscribed at the end thereof and at the left margin of
each page by the three attesting witnesses, it certainly cannot be conclusively inferred therefrom that the said
witness affixed their respective signatures in the presence of the testator and of each other since, as petitioners
correctly observed, the presence of said signatures only establishes the fact that it was indeed signed, but it does
not prove that the attesting witnesses did subscribe to the will in the presence of the testator and of each other.
The execution of a will is supposed to be one act so that where the testator and the witnesses sign on various
days or occasions and in various combinations, the will cannot be stamped with the imprimatur of effectivity.
33
We believe that the further comment of former Justice J.B.L. Reyes
34
regarding Article 809, wherein he urged caution
in the application of the substantial compliance rule therein, is correct and should be applied in the case under
consideration, as well as to future cases with similar questions:
. . . The rule must be limited to disregarding those defects that can be supplied by an examination of
the will itself: whether all the pages are consecutively numbered; whether the signatures appear in
each and every page; whether the subscribing witnesses are three or the will was notarized. All
theses are facts that the will itself can reveal, and defects or even omissions concerning them in the
attestation clause can be safely disregarded. But the total number of pages, and whether all persons
required to sign did so in the presence of each other must substantially appear in the attestation
clause, being the only check against perjury in the probate proceedings. (Emphasis ours.)
3. We stress once more that under Article 809, the defects and imperfections must only be with respect to the
form of the attestation or the language employed therein. Such defects or imperfections would not render a will
invalid should it be proved that the will was really executed and attested in compliance with Article 805. In this
regard, however, the manner of proving the due execution and attestation has been held to be limited to merely
an examination of the will itself without resorting to evidence aliunde, whether oral or written.
The foregoing considerations do not apply where the attestation clause totally omits the fact that the attesting
witnesses signed each and every page of the will in the presence of the testator and of each other.
35
In such a
situation, the defect is not only in the form or language of the attestation clause but the total absence of a specific element
required by Article 805 to be specifically stated in the attestation clause of a will. That is precisely the defect complained of
in the present case since there is no plausible way by which we can read into the questioned attestation clause statement,
or an implication thereof, that the attesting witness did actually bear witness to the signing by the testator of the will and all
of its pages and that said instrumental witnesses also signed the will and every page thereof in the presence of the testator
and of one another.
Furthermore, the rule on substantial compliance in Article 809 cannot be revoked or relied on by respondents
since it presupposes that the defects in the attestation clause can be cured or supplied by the text of the will or a
consideration of matters apparent therefrom which would provide the data not expressed in the attestation clause
or from which it may necessarily be gleaned or clearly inferred that the acts not stated in the omitted textual
requirements were actually complied within the execution of the will. In other words, defects must be remedied by
intrinsic evidence supplied by the will itself.
In the case at bar, contrarily, proof of the acts required to have been performed by the attesting witnesses can be
supplied by only extrinsic evidence thereof, since an overall appreciation of the contents of the will yields no basis
whatsoever from with such facts may be plausibly deduced. What private respondent insists on are the
testimonies of his witnesses alleging that they saw the compliance with such requirements by the instrumental
witnesses, oblivious of the fact that he is thereby resorting to extrinsic evidence to prove the same and would
accordingly be doing by the indirection what in law he cannot do directly.
4. Prior to the advent of the Civil Code on August 30, 1950, there was a divergence of views as to which manner
of interpretation should be followed in resolving issues centering on compliance with the legal formalities required
in the execution of wills. The formal requirements were at that time embodied primarily in Section 618 of Act No.
190, the Code of Civil Procedure. Said section was later amended by Act No. 2645, but the provisions respecting
said formalities found in Act. No. 190 and the amendment thereto were practically reproduced and adopted in the
Civil Code.
One view advance the liberal or substantial compliance rule. This was first laid down in the case of Abangan vs.
Abangan,
36
where it was held 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 guarantee their truth and authenticity.
Therefore, the laws on this subject should be interpreted in such a way as to attain these primordial ends. Nonetheless, it
was also emphasized that 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, hence when an interpretation already given assures such ends, any other interpretation
whatsoever that adds nothing but demands more requisites entirely unnecessary, useless and frustrative of the testator's
last will, must be disregarded. The subsequent cases of Avera vs. Garcia,
37
Aldaba vs. Roque,
38
Unson vs. Abella,
39
Pecson vs. Coronel,
40
Fernandez vs. Vergel de Dios, et al.,
41
and Nayve vs. Mojal, et al.
42
all adhered to this position.
The other view which advocated the rule that statutes which prescribe the formalities that should be observed in
the execution of wills are mandatory in nature and are to be strictly construed was followed in the subsequent
cases of In the Matter of the Estate of Saguinsin,
43
In re Will of Andrada,
44
Uy Coque vs. Sioca,
45
In re Estate of
Neumark,
46
and Sano vs. Quintana.
47
Gumban vs. Gorecho, et al.,
48
provided the Court with the occasion to clarify the seemingly conflicting decisions in the
aforementioned cases. In said case of Gumban, the attestation clause had failed to state that the witnesses signed the will
and each and every page thereof on the left margin in the presence of the testator. The will in question was disallowed, with
these reasons therefor:
In support of their argument on the assignment of error above-mentioned, appellants rely on a series
of cases of this court beginning with (I)n the Matter of the (E)state of Saguinsin ([1920], 41 Phil.,
875), continuing with In re Will of Andrada [1921], 42 Phil., 180), Uy Coque vs. Navas L. Sioca [1922],
43 Phil., 405), and In re Estate of Neumark ([1923], 46 Phil., 841), and ending with Sano vs.
Quintana ([1925], 48 Phil., 506). Appellee counters with the citation of a series of cases beginning
with Abangan vs. Abangan ([1919], 40 Phil., 476), continuing through Aldaba vs. Roque ([1922], 43
Phil., 378), and Fernandez vs. Vergel de Dios ([1924], 46 Phil., 922), and culminating in Nayve vs.
Mojal and Aguilar ([1924], 47 Phil., 152). In its last analysis, our task is to contrast and, if possible,
conciliate the last two decisions cited by opposing counsel, namely, those of Sano vs. Quintana,
supra, and Nayve vs. Mojal and Aguilar, supra.
In the case of Sano vs. Quintana, supra, it was decided that an attestation clause which does not
recite that the witnesses signed the will and each and every page thereof on the left margin in the
presence of the testator is defective, and such a defect annuls the will. The case of Uy Coque vs.
Sioca, supra, was cited, but the case of Nayve vs. Mojal and Aguilar, supra, was not mentioned. In
contrast, is the decision in Nayve vs. Mojal and Aguilar, supra, wherein it was held that the attestation
clause must estate the fact that the testator and the witnesses reciprocally saw the signing of the will,
for such an act cannot be proved by the mere exhibition of the will, if it is not stated therein. It was
also held that the fact that the testator and the witnesses signed each and every page of the will can
be proved also by the mere examination of the signatures appearing on the document itself, and the
omission to state such evident facts does not invalidate the will.
It is a habit of courts to reaffirm or distinguish previous cases; seldom do they admit inconsistency in
doctrine. Yet here, unless aided impossible to reconcile the Mojal and Quintana decisions. They are
fundamentally at variance. If we rely on one, we affirm. If we rely on the other, we reverse.
In resolving this puzzling question of authority, three outstanding points may be mentioned. In the
first place, the Mojal, decision was concurred in by only four members of the court, less than a
majority, with two strong dissenting opinions; the Quintana decision was concurred in by seven
members of the court, a clear majority, with one formal dissent. In the second place, the Mojal
decision was promulgated in December, 1924, while the Quintana decision was promulgated in
December, 1925; the Quintana decision was thus subsequent in point of time. And in the third place,
the Quintana decision is believed more nearly to conform to the applicable provisions of the law.
The right to dispose of property by will is governed entirely by statute. The law of the case is here
found in section 61 of the Code of Civil Procedure as amended by Act No. 2645, and in section 634
of the same Code, as unamended. It is in part provided in section 61, as amended that "No will . . .
shall be valid . . . unless . . .." It is further provided in the same section that "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." Codal section 634 provides
that "The will shall be disallowed in either of the following case: 1. If not executed and attested as in
this Act provided." The law not alone carefully makes use of the imperative, but cautiously goes
further and makes use of the negative, to enforce legislative intention. It is not within the province of
the courts to disregard the legislative purpose so emphatically and clearly expressed.
We adopt and reaffirm the decision in the case of Sano vs. Quintana, supra, and, to the extent
necessary, modify the decision in the case of Nayve vs. Mojal and Aguilar, supra. (Emphases in the
original text).
But after the Gumban clarificatory pronouncement, there were decisions of the Court that once more appeared to
revive the seeming diversity of views that was earlier threshed out therein. The cases of Quinto vs. Morata,
49
Rodriguez vs. Alcala,
50
Enchevarria vs. Sarmiento,
51
and Testate Estate of Toray
52
went the way of the ruling as
restated in Gumban. But De Gala vs. Gonzales, et al.,
53
Rey vs. Cartagena,
54
De Ticson vs. De Gorostiza,
55
Sebastian
vs. Panganiban,
56
Rodriguez vs. Yap,
57
Grey vs. Fabia,
58
Leynez vs. Leynez,
59
Martir vs. Martir,
60
Alcala vs. De
Villa,
61
Sabado vs.
Fernandez,
62
Mendoza vs. Pilapil,
63
and Lopez vs. Liboro,
64
veered away from the strict interpretation rule and
established a trend toward an application of the liberal view.
The Code Commission, cognizant of such a conflicting welter of views and of the undeniable inclination towards a
liberal construction, recommended the codification of the substantial compliance rule, as it believed this rule to be
in accord with the modern tendency to give a liberal approach to the interpretation of wills. Said rule thus became
what is now Article 809 of the Civil Code, with this explanation of the Code Commission:
The present law provides for only one form of executing a will, and that is, in accordance with the
formalities prescribed by Section 618 of the Code of Civil Procedure as amended by Act No. 2645.
The Supreme Court of the Philippines had previously upheld the strict compliance with the legal
formalities and had even said that the provisions of Section 618 of the Code of Civil Procedure, as
amended regarding the contents of the attestation clause were mandatory, and non-compliance
therewith invalidated the will (Uy Coque vs. Sioca, 43 Phil. 405). These decisions necessarily
restrained the freedom of the testator in disposing of his property.
However, in recent years the Supreme Court changed its attitude and has become more liberal in the
interpretation of the formalities in the execution of wills. This liberal view is enunciated in the cases of
Rodriguez vs. Yap, G.R. No. 45924, May 18, 1939; Leynez vs. Leynez, G.R. No. 46097, October 18,
1939; Martir vs. Martir, G.R. No. 46995, June 21, 1940; and Alcala vs. Villa, G.R. No. 47351, April 18,
1941.
In the above mentioned decisions of our Supreme Court, it has practically gone back to the original
provisions of Section 618 of the Code of Civil Procedure before its amendment by Act No. 2645 in the
year 1916. To turn this attitude into a legislative declaration and to attain the main objective of the
proposed Code in the liberalization of the manner of executing wills, article 829 of the Project is
recommended, which reads:
"Art. 829. In the absence of bad faith, forgery, or fraud, or undue and improper pressure
and influence, defects and imperfections in the form of attestation or in the language
used therein shall not render the will invalid if it is proved that the will was in fact
executed and attested in substantial compliance with all the requirements of article 829."
65
The so-called liberal rule, the Court said in Gil vs. Murciano,
66
"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. They only permit a probe into the will, an exploration into 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."
It may thus be stated that the rule, as it now stands, is that omissions which can be supplied by an examination of
the will itself, without the need of resorting to extrinsic evidence, will not be fatal and, correspondingly, would not
obstruct the allowance to probate of the will being assailed. However, those omissions which cannot be supplied
except by evidence aliunde would result in the invalidation of the attestation clause and ultimately, of the will itself.
67
WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby GRANTED and the impugned decision of respondent court is hereby
REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The court a quo is accordingly directed to forthwith DISMISS its Special Proceeding
No. 3899-R (Petition for the Probate of the Last Will and Testament of Mateo Caballero) and to REVIVE Special
Proceeding No. 3965-R (In the matter of the Intestate Estate of Mateo Caballero) as an active case and thereafter
duly proceed with the settlement of the estate of the said decedent.
SO ORDERED.
Narvasa, C.J., Padilla, Regalado, and Nocon, JJ., concur.

# Footnotes
* The first name of this representative party petitioner is also spelled "Armistica" in the corresponding
allegation of the petition.
1 Original Record, 1-3.
2 Exhibit C; Folder of Exhibits in Special Proceeding No. 3899-R, 7-8.
3 Original Record, 1-3, 7, 24, 32.
4 Ibid., 32-34.
5 Ibid., 68-69, 157.
6 Ibid., 98, 116, 143, 148, 157-159.
7 TSN, July 3, 1986, 3-5, 13-17, 23-27; July 18, 1986, 5-10.
8 TSN, October 9, 1984, 11-26; January 4, 1985, 2; April 22, 1985, 10-18.
9 Original Record, 339-340; per Judge J. Militante.
10 Justice Cesar D. Francisco, ponente, with Justices Reynato S. Puno and Jaime D. Lantin,
concurring.
11 Rollo, 9.
12 Ibid., 33.
13 Rivera vs. Palmanori, 40 Phil. 116 (1919); Art. 810, Civil Code.
14 Report of the Code of Commission, 103-105.
15 Art. 806, Civil Code.
16 Art. 808, id.
17 Art. 804, id.
18 3 Tolentino, Civil Code of the Philippines, 68 (1979 ed.).
19 Testate Estate of Paula Toray, 87 Phil. 139 (1950).
20 Vda. de Ramos, et al. vs. Court of Appeals et al., 81 SCRA 393 (1978).
21 Leynez vs. Leynez, 68 Phil. 745 (1939).
22 In re Estate of Neumarix, 46 Phil, 841 (1923).
23 In The Matter of the Estate of Sanguisin, 41 Phil. 875 (1920); In re Will of Andrada, 42 Phil. 180
(1921).
24 Testate Estate of Paula Toray, supra.
25 Gonzales vs. Gonzales de Carungcong, 90 Phil. 444 (1951).
26 Echevierria vs. Sarmiento, 66 Phil. 611 (1938).
27 Abangan vs. Abangan, 40 Phil. 476 (1919).
28 Cagro vs. Cagro, 92 Phil. 1032 (1953).
29 Report of the Code Commission, 103.
30 Exhibits C to C-18; Folder of Exhibits in Special Proceeding No. 3899-R; Original Record, 4-6.
31 Hill vs. Davis, 167 P. 465, 466, 64 Okl. 253, L.R.A. 1918B 687.
32 118 SCRA 195 (1982).
33 Andalis vs. Pulgueras, 59 Phil. 643 (1934).
34 Lawyer's Journal, November 30, 1950, 556, cited in Tolentino, op. cit., supra, note 17 at 111-112.
35 Uy Coque vs. Sioca, 43 Phil. 405 (1922); Gumban vs. Gorecho, 50 Phil. 30 (1927); Quinto vs.
Morata, 54 Phil. 481 (1930); Rodriguez vs. Alacala, 55 Phil. 150 (1930); Testate Estate of Paula
Toray, supra; Gil vs. Marciano, 88 Phil. 261 (1951).
36 40 Phil, 476 (1919).
37 42 Phil. 145 (1921).
38 43 Phil. 378 (1922).
39 43 Phil. 494 (1922).
40 45 Phil. 216 (1923).
41 46 Phil. 922 (1924).
42 47 Phil. 152 (1924).
43 41 Phil. 875 (1920).
44 42 Phil. 180 (1921).
45 43 Phil. 405 (1922).
46 46 Phil. 841 (1923).
47 48 Phil. 506 (1925).
48 50 Phil. 30 (1927).
49 54 Phil. 481 (1930).
50 55 Phil. 150 (1930).
51 66 Phil. 611 (1933).
52 87 Phil. 139 (1950).
53 53 Phil. 104 (1929).
54 56 Phil. 282 (1931).
55 57 Phil. 437 (1932).
56 59 Phil. 653 (1934).
57 68 Phil. 126 (1939).
58 68 Phil. 128 (1939).
59 68 Phil. 745 (1939).
60 70 Phil. 89 (1940).
61 71 Phil. 561 (1940).
62 72 Phil. 531 (1941).
63 72 Phil. 546 (1941).
64 81 Phil., 429 (1948).
65 Report of the Code Commission, 104-105.
66 88 Phil. 260, 281 (1951).
67 Tolentino, op. cit., supra, note 17 at 111.
The Lawphil Project - Arellano Law Foundation
Today is Monday, July 14, 2014
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
SECOND DIVISION

G.R. No. 116668 July 28, 1997
ERLINDA A. AGAPAY, petitioner,
vs.
CARLINA (CORNELIA) V. PALANG and HERMINIA P. DELA CRUZ, respondents.

ROMERO, J.:
Before us is a petition for review of the decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 24199 entitled "Erlinda
Agapay v. Carlina (Cornelia) Palang and Herminia P. Dela Cruz" dated June 22, 1994 involving the ownership of
two parcels of land acquired during the cohabitation of petitioner and private respondent's legitimate spouse.
Miguel Palang contracted his first marriage on July 16, 1949 when he took private respondent Carlina (or
Cornelia) Vallesterol as a wife at the Pozorrubio Roman Catholic Church in Pangasinan. A few months after the
wedding, in October 1949, he left to work in Hawaii. Miguel and Carlina's only child, Herminia Palang, was born on
May 12, 1950.
Miguel returned in 1954 for a year. His next visit to the Philippines was in 1964 and during the entire duration of
his year-long sojourn he stayed in Zambales with his brother, not in Pangasinan with his wife and child. The trial
court found evidence that as early as 1957, Miguel had attempted to divorce Carlina in Hawaii.
1
When he returned
for good in 1972, he refused to live with private respondents, but stayed alone in a house in Pozorrubio, Pangasinan.
On July 15, 1973, the then sixty-three-year-old Miguel contracted his second marriage with nineteen-year-old
Erlinda Agapay, herein petitioner.
2
Two months earlier, on May 17, 1973, Miguel and Erlinda, as evidenced by the Deed
of Sale, jointly purchased a parcel of agricultural land located at San Felipe, Binalonan, Pangasinan with an area of 10,080
square meters. Consequently, Transfer Certificate of Title No. 101736 covering said rice land was issued in their names.
A house and lot in Binalonan, Pangasinan was likewise purchased on September 23, 1975, allegedly by Erlinda
as the sole vendee. TCT No. 143120 covering said property was later issued in her name.
On October 30, 1975, Miguel and Cornelia Palang executed a Deed of Donation as a form of compromise
agreement to settle and end a case filed by the latter.
3
The parties therein agreed to donate their conjugal property
consisting of six parcels of land to their only child, Herminia Palang.
4
Miguel and Erlinda's cohabitation produced a son, Kristopher A. Palang, born on December 6, 1977. In 1979,
Miguel and Erlinda were convicted of Concubinage upon Carlina's complaint.
5
Two years later, on February 15,
1981, Miguel died.
On July 11, 1981, Carlina Palang and her daughter Herminia Palang de la Cruz, herein private respondents,
instituted the case at bar, an action for recovery of ownership and possession with damages against petitioner
before the Regional Trial Court in Urdaneta, Pangasinan (Civil Case No. U-4265). Private respondents sought to
get back the riceland and the house and lot both located at Binalonan, Pangasinan allegedly purchased by Miguel
during his cohabitation with petitioner.
Petitioner, as defendant below, contended that while the riceland covered by TCT No. 101736 is registered in
their names (Miguel and Erlinda), she had already given her half of the property to their son Kristopher Palang.
She added that the house and lot covered by TCT No. 143120 is her sole property, having bought the same with
her own money. Erlinda added that Carlina is precluded from claiming aforesaid properties since the latter had
already donated their conjugal estate to Herminia.
After trial on the merits, the lower court rendered its decision on June 30, 1989 dismissing the complaint after
declaring that there was little evidence to prove that the subject properties pertained to the conjugal property of
Carlina and Miguel Palang. The lower court went on to provide for the intestate shares of the parties, particularly
of Kristopher Palang, Miguel's illegitimate son. The dispositive portion of the decision reads.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby
rendered
1) Dismissing the complaint, with costs against plaintiffs;
2) Confirming the ownership of defendant Erlinda Agapay of the residential lot located at Poblacion,
Binalonan, Pangasinan, as evidenced by TCT No. 143120, Lot 290-B including the old house standing
therein;
3) Confirming the ownership of one-half (1/2) portion of that piece of agricultural land situated at Balisa,
San Felipe, Binalonan, Pangasinan, consisting of 10,080 square meters and as evidenced by TCT No.
101736, Lot 1123-A to Erlinda Agapay;
4. Adjudicating to Kristopher Palang as his inheritance from his deceased father, Miguel Palang, the one-
half (1/2) of the agricultural land situated at Balisa, San Felipe, Binalonan, Pangasinan, under TCT No.
101736 in the name of Miguel Palang, provided that the former (Kristopher) executes, within 15 days after
this decision becomes final and executory, a quit-claim forever renouncing any claims to annul/reduce the
donation to Herminia Palang de la Cruz of all conjugal properties of her parents, Miguel Palang and Carlina
Vallesterol Palang, dated October 30, 1975, otherwise, the estate of deceased Miguel Palang will have to
be settled in another separate action;
5) No pronouncement as to damages and attorney's fees.
SO ORDERED.
6
On appeal, respondent court reversed the trial court's decision. The Court of Appeals rendered its decision on
July 22, 1994 with the following dispositive portion;
WHEREFORE, PREMISES CONSIDERED, the appealed decision in hereby REVERSED and another one
entered:
1. Declaring plaintiffs-appellants the owners of the properties in question;
2. Ordering defendant-appellee to vacate and deliver the properties in question to herein plaintiffs-
appellants;
3. Ordering the Register of Deeds of Pangasinan to cancel Transfer Certificate of Title Nos. 143120 and
101736 and to issue in lieu thereof another certificate of title in the name of plaintiffs-appellants.
No pronouncement as to costs.
7
Hence, this petition.
Petitioner claims that the Court of Appeals erred in not sustaining the validity of two deeds of absolute sale
covering the riceland and the house and lot, the first in favor of Miguel Palang and Erlinda Agapay and the
second, in favor of Erlinda Agapay alone. Second, petitioner contends that respondent appellate court erred in not
declaring Kristopher A. Palang as Miguel Palang's illegitimate son and thus entitled to inherit from Miguel's estate.
Third, respondent court erred, according to petitioner, "in not finding that there is sufficient pleading and evidence
that Kristopher A. Palang or Christopher A. Palang should be considered as party-defendant in Civil Case No. U-
4625 before the trial court and in CA-G.R. No. 24199.
8
After studying the merits of the instant case, as well as the pertinent provisions of law and jurisprudence, the
Court denies the petition and affirms the questioned decision of the Court of Appeals.
The first and principal issue is the ownership of the two pieces of property subject of this action. Petitioner assails
the validity of the deeds of conveyance over the same parcels of land. There is no dispute that the transfer of
ownership from the original owners of the riceland and the house and lot, Corazon Ilomin and the spouses
Cespedes, respectively, were valid.
The sale of the riceland on May 17, 1973, was made in favor of Miguel and Erlinda. The provision of law
applicable here is Article 148 of the Family Code providing for cases of cohabitation when a man and a woman
who are not capacitated to marry each other live exclusively with each other as husband and wife without the
benefit of marriage or under a void marriage. While Miguel and Erlinda contracted marriage on July 15, 1973,
said union was patently void because the earlier marriage of Miguel and Carlina was still subsisting and
unaffected by the latter's de facto separation.
Under Article 148, only the properties acquired by both of the parties through their actual joint contribution of
money, property or industry shall be owned by them in common in proportion to their respective contributions. It
must be stressed that actual contribution is required by this provision, in contrast to Article 147 which states that
efforts in the care and maintenance of the family and household, are regarded as contributions to the acquisition
of common property by one who has no salary or income or work or industry. If the actual contribution of the party
is not proved, there will be no co-ownership and no presumption of equal shares.
9
In the case at bar, Erlinda tried to establish by her testimony that she is engaged in the business of buy and sell
and had a sari-sari store
10
but failed to persuade us that she actually contributed money to buy the subject riceland.
Worth noting is the fact that on the date of conveyance, May 17, 1973, petitioner was only around twenty years of age and
Miguel Palang was already sixty-four and a pensioner of the U.S. Government. Considering her youthfulness, it is unrealistic
to conclude that in 1973 she contributed P3,750.00 as her share in the purchase price of subject property,
11
there being no
proof of the same.
Petitioner now claims that the riceland was bought two months before Miguel and Erlinda actually cohabited. In
the nature of an afterthought, said added assertion was intended to exclude their case from the operation of
Article 148 of the Family Code. Proof of the precise date when they commenced their adulterous cohabitation not
having been adduced, we cannot state definitively that the riceland was purchased even before they started living
together. In any case, even assuming that the subject property was bought before cohabitation, the rules of co-
ownership would still apply and proof of actual contribution would still be essential.
Since petitioner failed to prove that she contributed money to the purchase price of the riceland in Binalonan,
Pangasinan, we find no basis to justify her co-ownership with Miguel over the same. Consequently, the riceland
should, as correctly held by the Court of Appeals, revert to the conjugal partnership property of the deceased
Miguel and private respondent Carlina Palang.
Furthermore, it is immaterial that Miguel and Carlina previously agreed to donate their conjugal property in favor
of their daughter Herminia in 1975. The trial court erred in holding that the decision adopting their compromise
agreement "in effect partakes the nature of judicial confirmation of the separation of property between spouses
and the termination of the conjugal partnership."
12
Separation of property between spouses during the marriage shall
not take place except by judicial order or without judicial conferment when there is an express stipulation in the marriage
settlements.
13
The judgment which resulted from the parties' compromise was not specifically and expressly for separation
of property and should not be so inferred.
With respect to the house and lot, Erlinda allegedly bought the same for P20,000.00 on September 23, 1975
when she was only 22 years old. The testimony of the notary public who prepared the deed of conveyance for the
property reveals the falsehood of this claim. Atty. Constantino Sagun testified that Miguel Palang provided the
money for the purchase price and directed that Erlinda's name alone be placed as the vendee.
14
The transaction was properly a donation made by Miguel to Erlinda, but one which was clearly void and inexistent
by express provision of law because it was made between persons guilty of adultery or concubinage at the time of
the donation, under Article 739 of the Civil Code. Moreover, Article 87 of the Family Code expressly provides that
the prohibition against donations between spouses now applies to donations between persons living together as
husband and wife without a valid marriage,
15
for otherwise, the condition of those who incurred guilt would turn out to
be better than those in legal union.
16
The second issue concerning Kristopher Palang's status and claim as an illegitimate son and heir to Miguel's
estate is here resolved in favor of respondent court's correct assessment that the trial court erred in making
pronouncements regarding Kristopher's heirship and filiation "inasmuch as questions as to who are the heirs of
the decedent, proof of filiation of illegitimate children and the determination of the estate of the latter and claims
thereto should be ventilated in the proper probate court or in a special proceeding instituted for the purpose and
cannot be adjudicated in the instant ordinary civil action which is for recovery of ownership and possession."
17
As regards the third issue, petitioner contends that Kristopher Palang should be considered as party-defendant in
the case at bar following the trial court's decision which expressly found that Kristopher had not been impleaded
as party defendant but theorized that he had submitted to the court's jurisdiction through his mother/guardian ad
litem.
18
The trial court erred gravely. Kristopher, not having been impleaded, was, therefore, not a party to the case at bar.
His mother, Erlinda cannot be called his guardian ad litem for he was not involved in the case at bar. Petitioner adds that
there is no need for Kristopher to file another action to prove that he is illegitimate son of Miguel, in order to avoid
multiplicity of suits.
19
Petitioner's grave error has been discussed in the preceding paragraph where the need for probate
proceedings to resolve the settlement of Miguel's estate and Kristopher's successional rights has been pointed out.
WHEREFORE, the instant petition is hereby DENIED. The questioned decision of the Court of Appeals is
AFFIRMED. Costs against petitioner.
SO ORDERED.
Regalado, Puno and Mendoza, JJ., concur.
Torres, Jr., J., is on leave.
Footnotes
1 From the Decision of the trial court in Civil Case No. U-4265, page 2, citing Exhibit E of the
Records; Rollo, p. 29.
2 At the Methodist Church of Binalonan.
3 Civil Case No. U-2501, CFI Branch 9, Urdaneta, Pangasinan.
4 The judicially-confirmed settlement reads in part:
COME NOW the parties in the above-entitled case, assisted by their respective counsel, and to
this Honorable Court respectfully submit this COMPROMISE AGREEMENT.
1. That defendant hereby admits all the material allegations in the complaint;
2. That the parties have mutually agreed that, for their mutual interest and that of their only
child, Herminia B. Palang, all their present conjugal properties, real and personal, be conveyed
or transfered (sic) to their said daughter, except some personal properties such as the car
mentioned in the complaint which shall remain in the possession of the defendant; . . .
5 Criminal Case No. U-0509. Miguel Palang, then seventy years of age, was sentenced to a
minimum indeterminate penalty of three months and eleven days of Arresto Mayor and a maximum
of one year, eight months and twenty-one days of Prision Correccional. Erlinda Agapay was
sentenced to four years and two months of destierro.
6 Penned by Judge Manuel D. Villanueva, Rollo, pp. 28-36.
7 Per Justice Eugenio S. Labitoria, with the concurrence of Justices Emeterio C. Cui and Fermin A.
Martin, Jr. in CA-G.R. CV No. 24199, "Carlina (Cornelia) V. Palang and Herminia P. Dela Cruz v.
Erlinda A. Agapay," Rollo, pp. 78-90.
8 Petition, p. 8; Rollo p. 15.
9 TOLENTINO, I CIVIL CODE OF THE PHILIPPINES COMMENTARIES AND JURISPRUDENCE 500
(1990 edition).
10 TSN, February 3, 1988, p. 78; per Decision of the Court of Appeals, Rollo, p. 86.
11 The entire property was bought for P7,500.00 Exhibit C; Decision of the trial court, Rollo, p. 29.
12 Decision of the trial court, p. 5; Rollo, p. 32.
13 Article 134 of the Family Code.
14 TSN, October 1, 1986, pp. 13-16.
15 The law states: "Every donation or grant of gratuitous advantage direct or indirect, between the
spouses during the marriage shall be void, except moderate gifts which the spouses may give each
other on the occasion of any family rejoicing. The prohibition shall also apply to persons living
together as husband and wife without a valid marriage."
16 TOLENTINO, supra, page 376 citing Buenaventura v. Bautista, 50 O.G. 3679 and Matabuena v.
Cervantes, 38 SCRA 284.
17 Decision of the Court of Appeals, Rollo, p. 89.
18 Decision, p. 8; Rollo, p. 35.
19 Petition, p. 11; Rollo, p.18.
The Lawphil Project - Arellano Law Foundation
Today is Monday, July 14, 2014
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
SECOND DIVISION
G.R. No. L-39537 March 19, 1985
IRENE REYES (alias IRENE RAMERO, alias IRENE DELGADO), MOISES VILLANUEVA and GENOVEVA
RAMERO, petitioners,
vs.
COURT OF APPEALS, PLACIDA DELGADO, DOMINGO DELGADO, PAULA DELGADO and MAXIMINA
DELGADO, respondents.

MAKASIAR, J.:
This is a petition for certiorari to review the of the Court of Appeals Special Division of Five dated October 7, 1974
in CA-G.R. No. L-44964-R, reversing the decision of the Court of First Instance of Batangas Branch I, dated
December 26, 1969 in Civil Case No. 1144 dismissing the action for reconveyance.
On January 29, 1967, private respondents as plaintiffs a complaint in the Court of First Instance of Batangas
praying that the defendant Irene Reyes, alias Irene Ramero or Irene Delgado, be ordered to execute a deed of
reconveyance in favor of plaintiffs Placida Delgado, Domingo Delgado, and Paula Delgado over four parcels of
land located in Tayabas, Quezon, and one parcel of land located in Pagbilao, Quezon, and another deed of
reconveyance in favor of plaintiff Maximina Delgado over three parcels of land located in Alitagtag, Batangas.
It was alleged in the complaint that the defendants thru abuse of confidence, fraud, deceit, misrepresentation and
other falsifications succeed in registering in the offices of the Register of Deeds of Quezon and Batangas a
document of self-adjudication (Exhibit "24"), wherein defendant Irene Delgado alleged that she was the sole child
of the deceased Francisco Delgado and entitled to inherit the parcels of lands described in the complaint; that as
a result thereof Transfer Certificate of Title Nos. 9913, 10348, 14937, T-11747 and 13489 were cancelled and
new Transfer Certificates of Title were issued in the name of Irene Delgado; that defendant Irene Delgado is not
the illegitimate daughter of Francisco Delgado, who died without issue, but is the legitimate daughter of Genoveva
Ramero and Justino Reyes; that plaintiffs Placida Delgado, Domingo Delgado and Paula Delgado, sisters and
brother of the deceased Francisco Delgado are the heirs entitled to inherit from Francisco Delgado; and that
Paula, Placido and Domingo Delgado defrayed the expenses of the last illness and the funeral expenses of
Francisco Delgado and for the purpose they borrowed the sum of P 7,000.00 from their niece, plaintiff Maximina
Delgado, and to pay Maximina Delgado they conveyed to her the three parcels of land described in
subparagraphs (f) to (g) of paragraph 9 of the complaint. They also alleged that the defendant spouses Irene and
Moises Villanueva borrowed from plaintiffs common fund the sum of P23,000.00 which they used in the purchase
of a parcel of land (pp. 1-14, Record on Appeal; p. 63, rec.).
On or about March 2, 1967, defendant Irene Delgado, one of the petitioners herein, filed an answer to the
complaint and set up the affirmative defense that she is the illegitimate daughter of the defendant Genoveva
Ramero and the deceased Francisco Delgado; that for several years preceding the birth of Irene Delgado, her
mother Genoveva Ramero had separated from her lawful husband Justino Reyes and never reconciled since
then; and that Irene was born during the cohabitation of Francisco Delgado and Genoveva Ramero as common
law husband and wife, and since her birth, lived with Francisco Delgado and Genoveva Ramero, who reared and
treated her as their child, maintaining her and sending her through college. Defendants also denied having
contracted a debt of P 23,000.00 from plaintiffs, or that plaintiffs spent for the last illness and funeral of Francisco
Delgado. Irene Delgado likewise set up a counterclaim, alleging that, as the illegitimate daughter of Francisco
Delgado, she has the right to represent her father to the inheritance left by her grandmother (pp. 15-43, Record
on Appeal; p. 63, rec.).
On March 16, 1967, the plaintiffs thru counsel filed an answer to the counterclaim denying that the defendant
Irene Delgado was the illegitimate child of Francisco Delgado, and hence has no right to claim from the estate of
Francisco's mother, Benigna Castillo, and that the properties claimed by the defendant Irene Delgado no longer
formed part of the estate of Benigna Castillo as she had previously disposed of them during her lifetime (pp. 43-
46, Record on Appeal; p. 63, rec.).
On August 15, 1967, a pre-trial in Civil Case No. 1144 was conducted.
On March 25, 1969, the plaintiffs filed a motion to admit an amended answer to the counterclaim posed by
defendant, wherein the plaintiffs alleged that the counterclaim of the defendant, in so far as it would have the
effect of being an indirect action for acknowledgment, has already prescribed (pp. 50-55, Record on Appeal; p.
63, rec.).
On April 14, 1969, the lower court admitted the amended answer to the counterclaim over the objections of the
defendant (pp. 56-61, Record on Appeal; p. 63, rec.).
After trial on the merits, the Court rendered its decision on December 26, 1969 dismissing the action for
reconveyance and declaring defendant Irene Delgado the lawful owner of the eight parcels of land. The
counterclaim of Irene Delgado was dismissed for insufficiency of evidence.
Both parties appealed to the Court of Appeals (now IAC), the plaintiffs with respect to their complaint and the
defendants with respect to their counterclaim.
The then Court of Appeals sitting as a Special Division of Five rendered its decision on October 7, 1974, the
dispositive portion of which reads as follows:
Wherefore, the decision of the court a quo is hereby reversed. The deed of self-adjudication
executed by Irene Delgado is hereby declared null and void and set aside. The transfer certificates of
title issued in the name of Irene Delgado in lieu of Transfer Certificate of Title Nos. 9913, 10348,
14937, T-11747 and 13489 are hereby cancelled, and T.C.T. 9913, 10348, 14937, T-11747 and
13489 are reinstated in the name of Francisco Delgado. Likewise, the extrajudicial declaration
executed by Irene Delgado adjudicating to herself the 3 parcels of land located in Alitagtag,
Batangas, with Tax Declaration Nos. 8625, 8626 and 8627 are declared null and void. No costs (pp.
58-59, rec.).
The then Court of Appeals in arriving at this decision found that, although Irene Delgado was the spurious
daughter of Francisco Delgado, she nevertheless cannot inherit from the estate of the deceased Francisco
Delgado because she was not recognized either voluntarily or by court action (pp. 52-53, rec.).
The titles to the questioned lot however cannot be executed in favor of the plaintiffs; because in so doing it will be
in effect a recognition by the court that the plaintiffs are the only heirs of Francisco Delgado to the prejudice of
other possible heirs or creditors of the deceased.
As to alleged loan contracted by Irene from the plaintiffs, the then Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court's
decision that it was without merit, because if it were true, the plaintiffs could have demanded a receipt for such a
big amount.
The counterclaim of Irene that she has the share to the inheritance of Benigna Castillo, Francisco Delgado's
mother, and her alleged share in the expenses for the sickness and funeral of Francisco Delgado which was
advanced by the plaintiffs, need not be ruled upon because of the findings that Irene is not an heir of Francisco
Delgado (pp. 57-58, rec.).
On December 2, 1974, defendants, petitioners herein, filed a petition to review the decision of the Court of
Appeals (pp. 2237, rec.).
On January 2, 1975, the plaintiffs, respondents herein, submitted their comment on the petition for review filed by
the petitioner (pp. 67-71, rec.).
On January 15, 1975, the petition for review filed by petitioners was denied in a resolution by the First Division of
the Supreme Court for lack of merit (p. 75, rec.).
On February 18, 1975, petitioners filed a motion for reconsideration (pp. 86-113, rec.).
On April 5, 1975, respondents filed their comments on the motion for reconsideration filed by petitioners (pp. 130-
134, rec.).
On April 23, 1975, petitioners filed their reply to respondents' comment (pp. 118-125, rec.).
On May 23, 1975, the Supreme Court reconsidered its resolution denying petitioners' motion for reconsideration
(p. 142, rec.).
In their petition, petitioners sought to reverse the decision of the Court of Appeals raising the following arguments:
1. There are strong and cogent reasons why this Honorable Court must return to and even enhance
the doctrine in Zuzuarregui vs. Zuzuarregui, considering serious flaws in the reasoning of the
currently prevailing doctrine, so that as arguendo and pro hac vice that Irene was not duly
recognized or acknowledged as illegitimate child, she is nevertheless entitled to successional rights
as sole heir of the late Francisco Delgado, considering that her filiation as illegitimate daughter of
Francisco Delgado is undisputed and beyond question (p. 12, Petitioner's Brief; p. 164, rec.).
2. Upon the other hand, this time assuming arguendo and pro hac vice that under the Civil Code
recognition of an 'other illegitimate' is a pre-requisite to enjoyment of rights, Irene Delgado was
legally acknowledged by her father Francisco Delgado, specially by his consent or advice to her
marriage with Moises Villanueva contrary to the erroneous conclusions of the Court of Appeals (P.
39, Petitioner's Brief, p. 164, rec.).
The petition is without merit.
The doctrine that for an illegitimate child other than natural to inherit must be first recognized voluntarily or by
court action is well settled in Our jurisprudence. (Bercilles vs. GSIS, 128 SCRA 53 [1984]; Divinagracia vs. Rovira,
72 SCRA 307 [1976]; Clemea vs. Clemea, 24 SCRA 720 [1968]; Noble vs. Noble, 18 SCRA 1104 [1966];
Republic vs. Workmen's Compensation Commission, 13 SCRA 272 [1969]; Paulino vs. Paulino, 3 SCRA 730
[1961]; Barles vs. Ponce Enrile, 109 Phil. 522 [1960]).
There is no reason to overturn this doctrine and revert to what was enunciated in the case of Zuzuarregui vs.
Zuzuarregui (103 Phil. 346 [1958]); as suggested by herein petitioners in their first assignment of errors.
It is the contention of the petitioners that the silence of the Civil Code as to the recognition of illegitimate children
other than natural, in contrast to natural children who are expressly required to be recognized in order to inherit,
only meant that illegitimate children need not be recognized in order to inherit from his or her alleged parent (p.
13, Petitioner's Brief; p. 164, rec.). Petitioners also raised the argument that under Article 287 of the New Civil
Code which reads: "Illegitimate children other than natural in accordance with Article 269 and other than natural
children by legal fiction are entitled to support and such successional rights as are granted in this, code." The
term "other illegitimate children" refers not only to those who are not natural or merely adulterous or incestuous
but also includes natural children who were not acknowledged or recognized (p. 18, Petitioner's Brief; p. 164,
rec.). In other words, unrecognized natural children can inherit not the share of a natural child but the share of a
spurious child so long as his filiation shall be duly proved. So, in effect, illegitimate children need only to prove his
filiation to inherit and such does not place him in a more advantageous position than natural children, as they are
placed in the same situation.
WE do not find these arguments persuasive.
Though the Civil Code is silent with respect to spurious children as to their recognition, this Court, in applying the
rules of recognition, applicable to natural children, to said spurious children, declared in Clemea vs. Clemea,
supra, that:
The considerations of fairness and justice that underlie the time limit fixed in Article 285 of the Civil
Code for actions seeking compulsory acknowledgment of natural children are fully applicable, if not
more, to actions to investigate and declare the paternity of illegitimate children that are not natural.
The motive that led the codifiers to restrict the period for bringing action for compulsory recognition of
natural children were stated by this Court in Serrano vs. Aragon, 22 Phil. 18, to be as follows:
... the writers of the code no doubt had in mind that there would arise instances where certain
illegitimate children, on account of the strong temptation due to the large estates left by deceased
persons, would attempt to establish that they were natural children of such persons in order to get
part of the property, and furthermore, they considered that it is nothing but just and right that alleged
parents should have a personal opportunity to be heard. It was for these reasons and others equally
as well founded that Article 137 was enacted (p. 724).
There are two (2) general classifications of illegitimate children or those who are conceived and born out of
wedlock. They may be either natural (actually or by fiction) or spurious (the incestuous, adulterous or illicit).
Natural children are defined as those born outside of wedlock of parents, who at the time of conception of the
former, were not disqualified by any impediment to marry each other (Article 269, New Civil Code). On the other
hand, spurious children are those born of parents, who at the time of their conception, are disqualified to marry
each other on account of certain impediment. Because of this basic distinction between these children, it is not
legally possible to classify unrecognized natural children under the class of spurious children. Besides,
commentators construe the phrase "illegitimate children other than natural" as excluding from the grants of rights
under Article 287 of the New Civil Code those children who are natural child proper by birth and who have not
secured voluntary or compulsory recognition (p. 276, An Outline of Civil Law, J.B.L. Reyes and R.C. Puno, Vol. 1).
They fag within the scope of the definition of natural children enumerated in Article 269, New Civil Code (p. 142,
Civil Law Reviewer, D. Jurado, 1982 ed.). Lastly, to follow petitioners' contention win not be in accordance with
the consistent pronouncements of this Court. It is an elementary and basic principle under the old and new Civil
Code, that an unrecognized natural child has no rights whatsoever against his parent or his estate. His rights
spring not from the filiation itself, but from the child's acknowledgment by the natural parent (Alabat vs. Alabat, 21
SCRA 1479 [1967]; Mise vs. Rodriguez, 95 Phil. 396 [1954]; Magallanes vs. CA, 95 Phil. 797 [1954]; Candles vs.
Ugarte, 91 Phil. 6 [1952]; Malonda vs. Malonda, 81 Phil. 149 [1948]; Buenaventura vs. Urbano, 5 Phil. 1 [1905]).
As to the second assignment of error raised by petitioners, We find that there was no sufficient legal recognition of
petitioner Irene Delgado by Francisco Delgado.
It can be seen from the record of birth (Exhibit "L-2") that the name of the petitioner was Irene Ramero, and
signed by Genoveva Ramero and of an unknown father. This was certified to by the treasurer of the municipality
of Alitagtag Batangas (Exhibits "L" and "L-1 "). Another certified copy of another birth certificate issued by the
municipal treasurer and local civil registrar of the municipality of Alitagtag (Exhibit "20") stated therein that the
name of the child is Irene Ramero, and the name of the father is "Francisco" and the mother "Genoveva
Ramero." Any of these records of birth cannot be sufficient recognition under the law. The birth certificate, to be
sufficient recognition, must be signed by the father and mother jointly, or by the mother alone if the father refuses,
otherwise she may be penalized (Sec. 5, Act 3753; Madredejo vs. De Leon, 55 Phil. 1 [1930]); and if the alleged
father did not sign in the birth certificate, the placing of his name by the mother, or doctor or registrar, is
incompetent evidence of paternity of said child (Bercilles vs. GSIS, 128 SCRA 53 [1984]; Roces vs. Local Civil
Registrar of Manila, 102 Phil. 1050 [1958]). Since any of the certificates of birth presented were not signed by
Francisco Delgado, it cannot be taken as record of birth to prove recognition of Irene Delgado; nor can this birth
certificate be taken as a recognition in a public instrument. (Pareja vs. Pareja, 95 Phil. 167[1954]).
Irene's certificate of baptism (Exhibit "1") cannot be taken as proof of recognition (Bercilles vs. GSIS, supra;
People vs. Villeza, 127 SCRA 349 [1984]; Cid vs. Burnaman, 24 SCRA 434 [1968]; Vudaurrazaga vs. CA, 91 Phil.
492 [1952]; Capistrano vs. Gabino, 8 Phil. 135 [1907]). In the case of Macadangdang vs. CA [100 SCRA 73
[1980]), this Court said that while baptismal certificates may be considered public documents, they are evidence
only to prove the administration of the sacraments on the dates therein specified, but not the veracity of the
statements or declarations made therein with respect to his kinsfolk.
Irene's secondary student permanent record (Exhibits "12", "13", "15" and "16") nor the written consent given by
Irene to the operation of her alleged father (Exhibit "4") cannot be taken as an authentic writing. An authentic
writing does not have to be a public instrument; it is sufficient that it is genuine and not a forgery. It must generally
be signed by the alleged parent (Madredejo vs. De Leon, supra) unless the whole instrument is in the handwriting
of the alleged parent and the facts mentioned therein correspond to actual and real facts (Varela vs. Villanueva,
95 Phil. 248 [1954]). Thus, Irene's secondary student permanent record and her written consent to the operation
of her father, not being signed nor written in the handwriting of Francisco Delgado, cannot be taken as an
authentic writing to prove her recognition by her alleged father.
The marriage contract (Exhibit "17") of Irene Delgado and Moises Villanueva, wherein it was stated that Francisco
Delgado gave his consent or advice for Irene Delgado to marry, and that he was her father cannot be also taken
as recognition in an authentic document because it was not signed nor in the handwriting of Francisco Delgado It
cannot also be taken as recognition in a public instrument as held in the case of Lim vs. CA, (65 SCRA 161, 164
[1975]) wherein the Court said.
According to Article 1216 of the Civil Code of 1889, Public documents 'are those authenticated by a
notary or by a competent public official, with the formalities required by law.' Thus, 'there are two
classes of public documents, those executed by private individuals which must be authenticated by
notaries, and those issued by competent public officials by reason of their office.' "The public
document pointed out in Article 131 as one of the means by which recognition may be made belongs
to the first class.
The marriage contract presented by Felisa Lim does not satisfy the requirements of solemnity
prescribed by article 131 of the Civil Code of 1889. Such contract is not a written act with the
intervention of a notary; it is not an instrument executed in due form before a notary and certified by
him. The marriage contract is a mere declaration by the contracting parties, in the presence of the
person solemnizing the marriage and of two witnesses of legal age, that they take each other as
husband and wife, signed by signature or mark by said contracting parties and the said witnesses,
and attested by the person solemnizing the marriage. The marriage contract does not possess the
requisites of a public document of recognition...
The family pictures (Exhibits "11" to "11-E") presented by Irene, showing Irene posing with Francisco Delgado,
cannot be a sufficient proof of recognition. In the case of Bercilles vs. GSIS, supra, it was held that pictures do not
constitute proof of filiation.
What Irene may have proved is that she had been in continuous possession of a status of an illegitimate child who
is not natural. But such fact alone without a valid recognition in a record of birth, will statement before a court of
record, or authentic writing does not make Irene a recognized illegitimate child who is not natural. She
nevertheless possesses the right to compel judicial recognition and the action for this must be brought within the
proper prescriptive period (Clemea vs. Clemea, supra). Article 285 of the New Civil Code provides "that the
action for the. recognition of natural children may be brought only during the lifetime of the presumed parents,
except when the father or mother dies during the minority of the child, the action shall be brought within four years
from the age of majority, or if after the death of the father or of the mother a document should appear of which
nothing had been heard and in which either or both parents recognize the child, the action shag be brought within
four years from the finding of the document." Since Irene was already of age (35 years old) when her alleged
father died, and she had not presented any discovered document wherein her presumed father recognized her,
the action to compel recognition is already barred (Canales vs. Arrogante, 91 Phil. 6 [1952]).
WE affirm the findings of the then Court of Appeals that Irene Reyes alias Irene Delgado is not an heir of the late
Francisco Delgado.
WHEREFORE, THE DECISION OF THE THEN COURT OF APPEALS IS HEREBY AFFIRMED IN TOTO, WITH
COSTS AGAINST PETITIONERS.
Concepcion, Jr., Abad Santos, Escolin and Cuevas, JJ., concur.


Separate Opinions

AQUINO, J., dissenting:
I dissent. The spouses Justino Reyes and Genoveva Rameo, natives of Tayabas town, were married there in
1906. They had seven children. An eighth child, named Irene, was born to Genoveva, either on May 5, 1930 in
Tayabas town, or on September 1, 1931 in Barrio Dalipit Alitagtag, Batangas. Of course, the presumption under
article 255 of the Civil Code is that Irene was Justino's child. Was that presumption rebutted?
Joaquin Reyes, Irene's elder brother, testified that his parents, the Reyes spouses, separated in 1928 when his
father surprised Francisco Delgado in his house. On that occasion, there was a commotion in the house which
was investigated by the police. Justino eventually decided to allow Genoveva to go with Francisco. That testimony
is sufficient to rebut the presumption of legitimacy. It shows that Irene was not Justino's child. Was Delgado her
father?
Her birth certificate shows that she was born on September 1, 1931 as the child of Genoveva at Barrio Dalipit
Alitagtag, Batangas with an unknown (desconocido) father (Exh. L-2 or 22).
Since 1928, Genoveva lived with Francisco Delgado and was never reconciled to Justino who died in 1935. Irene
was educated at their expense.
Justino was not mentioned as the father of Irene in her record of birth. Among the eight children of Genoveva,
Irene's birth was the only one registered in Alitagtag Francisco's native town. Irene had always lived with
Genoveva and Francisco up to 1951, when she was 19 and she got married.
She was baptized in 1949, when she was 18. Francisco and Genoveva were listed as her parents in the baptismal
certificate, Exhibit 1. In the certificate of marriage of Irene and Moises Villanueva, Francisco Delgado was
mentioned as her father and as the one who gave consent to the marriage (Exh. 17).
Irene consented to the operation of Francisco when he was submitted to an operation at the Family Clinic in 1966
(Exh. 2). She paid his hospital bills (Exh. 4). She used the surname "Delgado" in her school records and
Francisco Delgado was indicated therein as her guardian (Exh. 12 to 16).
Francisco died intestate on October 28, 1966. On November 25, 1966 Irene adjudicated to herself the lands left
by Francisco (Exh. H or 9). On January 30, 1967, the brother, two sisters and a niece of Francisco Delgado sued
her for the annulment of said adjudication. They sought a declaration that they are the nearest legal heirs of
Francisco.
Judge Lorenzo Relova ruled that Irene's filiation was duly proven. The Appellate Court disagreed because she
was not duly acknowledged within the meaning of articles 278 and 283 of the Civil Code. It held that the evidence
submitted by her does not amount to voluntary and compulsory recognition required of natural children.
In my opinion the rule requiring voluntary or compulsory recognition for the so-called spurious children or
bastards is not mandatory. Article 289 of the Civil Code does not make such recognition mandatory.
Irene's status as an heir is governed by the Civil Code pursuant to its article 2264. To enjoy successional rights,
she has to prove her filiation as required in article 887 of the Civil Code.
To prove filiation, the rules on acknowledgment for natural children may be applied to spurious children. But there
may be cases, where the filiation of an illegitimate child, other than natural, has been duly proven and such proof
does not satisfy the requirements of recognition under articles 278 and 283.
In such exceptional cases, article 278 and 283 should not be applied. If sufficient proof to satisfy the judicial mind
has been adduced to prove the spurious child's filiation, he or she should be entitled to successional rights. This is
justified by the liberal policy of the Civil Code towards illegitimate children.
The natural child needs acknowledgment because he may become a legitimated child. The spurious child will
never attain the status of a legitimated child.
I agree with Judge Lorenzo Relova that Irene's filiation as Francisco Delgado's child was duly proven within the
meaning of article 887. She is the nearest compulsory and legal heir of Francisco. She excludes the brother, two
sisters and niece of Francisco (Art. 988, Civil Code).
I vote to reverse the decision of the Appellate Court and affirm the decision of Judge Relova.

Separate Opinions
AQUINO, J., dissenting:
I dissent. The spouses Justino Reyes and Genoveva Rameo, natives of Tayabas town, were married there in
1906. They had seven children. An eighth child, named Irene, was born to Genoveva, either on May 5, 1930 in
Tayabas town, or on September 1, 1931 in Barrio Dalipit Alitagtag, Batangas. Of course, the presumption under
article 255 of the Civil Code is that Irene was Justino's child. Was that presumption rebutted?
Joaquin Reyes, Irene's elder brother, testified that his parents, the Reyes spouses, separated in 1928 when his
father surprised Francisco Delgado in his house. On that occasion, there was a commotion in the house which
was investigated by the police. Justino eventually decided to allow Genoveva to go with Francisco. That testimony
is sufficient to rebut the presumption of legitimacy. It shows that Irene was not Justino's child. Was Delgado her
father?
Her birth certificate shows that she was born on September 1, 1931 as the child of Genoveva at Barrio Dalipit
Alitagtag, Batangas with an unknown (desconocido) father (Exh. L-2 or 22).
Since 1928, Genoveva lived with Francisco Delgado and was never reconciled to Justino who died in 1935. Irene
was educated at their expense.
Justino was not mentioned as the father of Irene in her record of birth. Among the eight children of Genoveva,
Irene's birth was the only one registered in Alitagtag Francisco's native town. Irene had always lived with
Genoveva and Francisco up to 1951, when she was 19 and she got married.
She was baptized in 1949, when she was 18. Francisco and Genoveva were listed as her parents in the baptismal
certificate, Exhibit 1. In the certificate of marriage of Irene and Moises Villanueva, Francisco Delgado was
mentioned as her father and as the one who gave consent to the marriage (Exh. 17).
Irene consented to the operation of Francisco when he was submitted to an operation at the Family Clinic in 1966
(Exh. 2). She paid his hospital bills (Exh. 4). She used the surname "Delgado" in her school records and
Francisco Delgado was indicated therein as her guardian (Exh. 12 to 16).
Francisco died intestate on October 28, 1966. On November 25, 1966 Irene adjudicated to herself the lands left
by Francisco (Exh. H or 9). On January 30, 1967, the brother, two sisters and a niece of Francisco Delgado sued
her for the annulment of said adjudication. They sought a declaration that they are the nearest legal heirs of
Francisco.
Judge Lorenzo Relova ruled that Irene's filiation was duly proven. The Appellate Court disagreed because she
was not duly acknowledged within the meaning of articles 278 and 283 of the Civil Code. It held that the evidence
submitted by her does not amount to voluntary and compulsory recognition required of natural children.
In my opinion the rule requiring voluntary or compulsory recognition for the so-called spurious children or
bastards is not mandatory. Article 289 of the Civil Code does not make such recognition mandatory.
Irene's status as an heir is governed by the Civil Code pursuant to its article 2264. To enjoy successional rights,
she has to prove her filiation as required in article 887 of the Civil Code.
To prove filiation, the rules on acknowledgment for natural children may be applied to spurious children. But there
may be cases, where the filiation of an illegitimate child, other than natural, has been duly proven and such proof
does not satisfy the requirements of recognition under articles 278 and 283.
In such exceptional cases, article 278 and 283 should not be applied. If sufficient proof to satisfy the judicial mind
has been adduced to prove the spurious child's filiation, he or she should be entitled to successional rights. This is
justified by the liberal policy of the Civil Code towards illegitimate children.
The natural child needs acknowledgment because he may become a legitimated child. The spurious child will
never attain the status of a legitimated child.
I agree with Judge Lorenzo Relova that Irene's filiation as Francisco Delgado's child was duly proven within the
meaning of article 887. She is the nearest compulsory and legal heir of Francisco. She excludes the brother, two
sisters and niece of Francisco (Art. 988, Civil Code).
I vote to reverse the decision of the Appellate Court and affirm the decision of Judge Relova.
The Lawphil Project - Arellano Law Foundation
Today is Monday, July 14, 2014
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
THIRD DIVISION

G.R. No. 108947 September 29, 1997
ROLANDO SANCHEZ, FLORIDA MIERLY SANCHEZ, ALFREDO T. SANCHEZ and MYRNA T. SANCHEZ,
petitioners,
vs.
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, ROSALIA S. LUGOD, ARTURO S. LUGOD, EVELYN LUGOD-
RANISES and ROBERTO S. LUGOD, respondents.

PANGANIBAN, J.:
Is a petition for certiorari, in lieu of appeal, the proper remedy to correct orders of a probate court nullifying certain
deeds of sale and, thus, effectively passing upon title to the properties subject of such deeds? Is a compromise
agreement partitioning inherited properties valid even without the approval of the trial court hearing the intestate
estate of the deceased owner?
The Case
These questions are answered by this Court as it resolves the petition for review on certiorari before us assailing
the November 23, 1992 Decision
1
of the Court of Appeals
2
in CA-G.R. SP No. 28761 which annulled the decision
3
of
the trial court
4
and which declared the compromise agreement among the parties valid and binding even without the said
trial court's approval. The dispositive portion of the assailed Decision reads:
WHEREFORE, for the reasons hereinabove set forth and discussed, the instant petition is GRANTED
and the challenged decision as well as the subsequent orders of the respondent court are
ANNULLED and SET ASIDE. The temporary restraining order issued by this Court on October 14,
1992 is made PERMANENT. The compromise agreement dated October 30, 1969 as modified by the
memorandum of agreement of April 13, 1970 is DECLARED valid and binding upon herein parties.
And Special Proceedings No. 44-M and 1022 are deemed CLOSED and TERMINATED.
SO ORDERED.
5
The Antecedent Facts
The facts are narrated by the Court of Appeals as follows:
[Herein private respondent] Rosalia S. Lugod is the only child of spouses Juan C. Sanchez and Maria
Villafranca while [herein private respondents] Arturo S. Lugod, Evelyn L. Ranises and Roberto S.
Lugod are the legitimate children of [herein private respondent] Rosalia.
[Herein petitioners] Rolando, Florida Mierly, Alfredo and Myrna, all surnamed Sanchez, are the
illegitimate children of Juan C. Sanchez.
Following the death of her mother, Maria Villafranca, on September 29, 1967, [herein private
respondent] Rosalia filed on January 22, 1968, thru counsel, a petition for letters of administration
over the estate of her mother and the estate of her father, Juan C. Sanchez, who was at the time in
state of senility (Annex "B", Petition).
On September 30, 1968, [herein private respondent] Rosalia, as administratrix of the intestate estate
of her mother, submitted an inventory and appraisal of the real and personal estate of her late
mother (Annex "C", Petition).
Before the administration proceedings Special in Proceedings No. 44-M could formally be terminated
and closed, Juan C. Sanchez, [herein private respondent] Rosalia's father, died on October 21, 1968.
On January 14, 1969, [herein petitioners] as heirs of Juan C. Sanchez, filed a petition for letters of
administration (Special Proceedings No. 1022) over the intestate estate of Juan C. Sanchez, which
petition was opposed by (herein private respondent) Rosalia.
6
On October 30, 1969, however, [herein private respondent] Rosalia and [herein petitioners] assisted by their
respective counsels executed a compromise agreement (Annex "D", Petition) wherein they agreed to divide
the properties enumerated therein of the late Juan C. Sanchez.
On November 3, 1969, petitioner Rosalia was appointed by [the trial court], and took her oath as the
administratrix of her father's intestate estate.
On January 19, 1970, [herein petitioners] filed a motion to require administratrix, [herein private
respondent] Rosalia, to deliver deficiency of 24 hectares and or to set aside compromise agreement
(Annex "E", Petition).
Under date of April 13, 1970, (herein private respondent) Rosalia and [herein petitioners] entered
into and executed a memorandum of agreement which modified the compromise agreement (Annex
"F". Petition)
On October 25, 1979, or nine years later, [herein petitioners] filed, thru counsel, a motion to require
[herein private respondent] Rosalia to submit a new inventory and to render an accounting over
properties not included in the compromise agreement (Annex "G", Petition). They likewise filed a
motion to defer the approval of the compromise agreement (Annex "H", Ibid), in which they prayed
for the annulment of the compromise agreement on the ground of fraud.
On February 4, 1980, however, counsel for [herein petitioners] moved to withdraw his appearance
and the two motions he flied, Annex "G" and "H" (Annex "I", Petition).
On February 28, 1980, the [trial] court issued an order directing [herein private respondent] Rosalia
to submit a new inventory of properties under her administration and an accounting of the fruits
thereof, which prompted [herein private respondent] Rosalia to file a rejoinder on March 31, 1980
(Annex "K", Petition).
On May 12, 1980, [herein petitioners], thru new counsel, filed a motion to change administratrix
(Annex "L", Petition) to which [herein private respondent] Rosalia filed an opposition (Annex "M",
Ibid).
The parties were subsequently ordered to submit their respective position papers, which they did
(Annexes "N" and "O", Petition). On September 14, 1989, former counsel of (herein petitioners)
entered his re-appearance as counsel for (herein petitioners).
On the bases of memoranda submitted by the parties, the [trial court], this time presided by Judge
Vivencio A. Galon, promulgated its decision on June 26, 1991, the dispositive portion of which states:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered as follows by
declaring and ordering:
1. That the entire intestate estate of Maria Villafranca Sanchez under Special
Proceedings No. 44-M consists of all her paraphernal properties and one-half (1/2) of
the conjugal properties which must be divided equally between Rosalia Sanchez de
Lugod and Juan C. Sanchez;
2. That the entire intestate estate of Juan C. Sanchez under Special Proceedings No.
1022 consists of all his capital properties, one-half (1/2) from the conjugal partnership of
gains and one-half (1/2) of the intestate estate of Maria Villafranca under Special
Proceedings No. 44-M;
3. That one-half (1/2) of the entire intestate estate of Juan C. Sanchez shall be inherited
by his only legitimate daughter, Rosalia V. Sanchez de Lugod while the other one-half
(1/2) shall be inherited and be divided equally by, between and among the six (6)
illegitimate children, namely: Patricia Alburo, Maria Ramuso Sanchez, Rolando Pedro T.
Sanchez, Florida Mierly T. Sanchez, Alfredo T. Sanchez and Myrna T. Sanchez;
4. That all the Deed (sic) of Absolute Sales executed by Juan C. Sanchez and Maria
Villafranca in favor of Rosalia Sanchez Lugod, Arturo S. Lugod, Evelyn S. Lugod and
Roberto S. Lugod on July 26, 1963 and June 26, 1967 are all declared simulated and
fictitious and must be subject to collation and partition among all heirs;
5. That within thirty (30) days from finality of this decision, Rosalia Sanchez Lugod is
hereby ordered to prepare a project of partition of the intestate estate of Juan C.
Sanchez under Special Proceedings No. 1022 and distribute and deliver to all heirs their
corresponding shares. If she fails to do so within the said thirty (30) days, then a Board
of Commissioners is hereby constituted, who are all entitled to honorarium and per
diems and other necessary expenses chargeable to the estate to be paid by
Administratrix Rosalia S. Lugod, appointing the Community Environment and Natural
Resources Officer (CENRO) of Gingoog City as members thereof, with the task to
prepare the project of partition and deliver to all heirs their respective shares within
ninety (90) days from the finality of said decision;
6. That within thirty (30) days from receipt of this decision, Administratrix Rosalia
Sanchez Vda. de Lugod is hereby ordered to submit two (2) separate certified true and
correct accounting, one for the income of all the properties of the entire intestate estate
of Maria Villafranca under Special Proceedings No. 44-M, and another for the properties
of the entire intestate estate of Juan C. Sanchez under Special Proceedings No. 1022
duly both signed by her and both verified by a Certified Public Accountant and distribute
and deliver to her six (6) illegitimate brothers and sisters in equal shares, one-half (1/2)
of the net income of the estate of Juan C. Sanchez from October 21, 1968 up to the
finality of this decision;
7. For failure to render an accounting report and failure to give cash advances to the
illegitimate children of Juan C. Sanchez during their minority and hour of need from the
net income of the estate of Juan C. Sanchez, which adversely prejudiced their social
standing and pursuit of college education, (the trial court) hereby orders Rosalia
Sanchez Vda. de Lugod to pay her six (6) illegitimate brothers and sisters the sum of
Five Hundred Thousand (P500,000.00) Pesos, as exemplary damages, and also the
sum of One Hundred Fifty Thousand (P150,000.00) Pesos for attorney's fees;
8. Upon release of this decision and during its pendency, should appeal be made, the
Register of Deeds and Assessors of the Provinces and Cities where the properties of
Juan C. Sanchez and Maria Villafranca are located, are all ordered to register and
annotate in the title and/or tax declarations, the dispositive portion of this decision for the
protection of all heirs and all those who may be concerned.
SO ORDERED.
[Herein private respondent] Rosalia filed a motion for reconsideration dated July 17, 1991 (Annex
"P", Petition) on August 6, 1991.
On August 13, 1991, [herein petitioners] filed a motion for execution and opposition to [herein private
respondent] Rosalia's motion for reconsideration (Annex "Q", Petition).
On September 3, 1991, [the trial court] issued an Omnibus Order (Annex "S", Petition) declaring,
among other things, that the decision at issue had become final and executory.
[Herein private respondent] Rosalia then filed a motion for reconsideration of said Omnibus Order
(Annex "T", Petition). Said [herein private respondent] was allowed to file a memorandum in support
of her motion (Annex "V", Petition).
On June 26, 1991, [the trial court] issued and Order denying petitioner Rosalia's motion for
reconsideration (Annex "W", Petition).
7
Thereafter, private respondents elevated the case to the Court of Appeals via a petition for certiorari and
contended:
I
The [trial court] has no authority to disturb the compromise agreement.
II
The [trial court] has arbitrarily faulted [herein private respondent] Rosalia S. Lugod for alleged failure
to render an accounting which was impossible.
III
The [trial court] acted without jurisdiction in derogation of the constitutional rights of [herein private
respondents] Arturo S. Lugod, Evelyn L. Ranises and Roberto S. Lugod when [the trial court] decided
to annul the deed of sale between the said [herein private respondents] and Juan C. Sanchez without
affording them their day in court.
IV
[The trial court judge] defied without rhyme or reason well-established and entrenched jurisprudence
when he determined facts sans any evidence thereon.
V
[The trial court] grossly misinterpreted [herein private respondent] Rosalia S. Lugod's right to appeal.
8
For clarity's sake, this Court hereby reproduces verbatim the compromise agreement
9
of the parties:
COMPROMISE AGREEMENT
COME NOW, the parties in the above-entitled case, motivated by their mutual desire to preserve and
maintain harmonious relations between and among themselves, for mutual valuable considerations
and in the spirit of good will and fair play, and, for the purpose of this Compromise Agreement, agree
to the following:
1. That the deceased Juan C. Sanchez who died intestate on October 21, 1968 was legally married
to Maria Villafranca de Sanchez, who predeceased her on September 29, 1967, out of whose
wedlock Rosalia Sanchez Lugod, Oppositor herein, was born, thus making her the sole and only
surviving legitimate heir of her deceased parents;
2. That the said deceased Juan C. Sanchez, left illegitimate children, Intervenors-Oppositors and
Petitioners, respectively, herein namely;
(1) Patricio Alburo, born out of wedlock on March 17, 1926 at Cebu City,
Philippines, to Emilia Alburo;
(2) Maria Ramoso Sanchez, born out of wedlock on May 9, 1937 at
Gingoog, Misamis Oriental, now, Gingoog City, to Alberta Ramoso;
(3) (a) Rolando Pedro Sanchez, born on May 19, 1947,
(b) Florida Mierly Sanchez, born on February 16, 1949,
(c) Alfredo Sanchez, born on July 21, 1950, and
(d) Myrna Sanchez, born on June 16, 1952, all born out of wedlock to
Laureta Tampus in Gingoog City, Philippines.
3. That the deceased Juan C. Sanchez left the following properties, to wit:
I. SEPARATE CAPITAL OF JUAN C. SANCHEZ
NATURE, DESCRIPTION AND AREA ASSESSED VALUE
(1) Agricultural Land. Covered by Tax. Decl. No. 06458, Cad. Lot No. 1041 C-2, located at Murallon,
Gingoog City and bounded on the North by Lot Nos. 1033, 1035, 1036, 1037, 1039, 1040, 1042 &
1043; South by Lot No. 1080, 1088, 1087 & 1084; East by Lot Nos. 1089, 1061 & 2319; West by Lot
Nos. 954, 1038, 1057 & 1056, containing an area of ONE HUNDRED EIGHTY THREE THOUSAND
SIX HUNDRED SEVENTY TWO (183, 672) sq. ms. more or less.
P21,690.00
II. CONJUGAL PROPERTY OF JUAN C. SANCHEZ AND MARIA VILLAFRANCA DE SANCHEZ
(1) Agricultural Land. Covered by Tax Decl. No. 06447, Cad. Lot No. 2745, C-7 located at Agay-
ayan, Gingoog City and bounded on the North by Lot Nos. 2744, 2742, 2748; South by Lot No. 2739;
East by Lot No. 2746; West by Lot No. 2741, containing an area of FOURTEEN THOUSAND SEVEN
HUNDRED (14,700) sq. ms. more or less.
P1,900.00
(2) Agricultural Land. Covered by Tax Decl. No. 06449, Cad, Lot No. 3271 C-7 located at
Panyangan, Lanao, Gingoog City and bounded on the North by Lot No. 3270; South by Lot Nos.
2900 & 3462; East by Panyangan River & F. Lumanao; and Part of Lot 3272; and West by Samay
Creek, containing an area of ONE HUNDRED FOUR THOUSAND SIX HUNDRED (104,600) sq. ms.
more or less.
P11,580.00
(3) Agricultural Land. Covered by Tax Decl. No. 06449, Cad. Lot No. 2319, Case 2, located at
Murallon, Gingoog City and bounded on the North by Lot No. 1061; South by Hinopolan Creek; East
by Lot No. 1044; and West by Lot No. 1041, containing an area of THREE THOUSAND TWO
HUNDRED TWENTY FIVE (3,225) sq. ms. more or less.
(4) Agricultural Land. Covered by Tax Decl. No. 06452, Cad. Lot No. 3272, C-7 Part 4 located at
Panyangan, Lunao, Gingoog City and bounded on the North by Lot Nos. 3270 & 3273; East by
Panyangan River; South by Panyangan River; and West by Lot Nos. 3270 & 3271, containing an
area of FIFTY FIVE THOUSAND SIX HUNDRED (55,600) sq. ms. more or less, being claimed by
Damian Querubin.
P2,370.00
(5) Agricultural Land. Covered by Tax Decl. No. 06453, Cad. Lot No. 3270 Case 7, located at Sunog,
Lunao, Gingoog City and bounded on the North by Samay Creek & Lot 3267; South by Lot Nos. 3271
& 3272; East by Lot Nos. 3269 & 3273; and West by Samay Creek, containing an area of FOUR
HUNDRED EIGHT THREE THOUSAND SIX HUNDRED (483,600) sq. ms. more or less.
P61,680.00
(6) Agricultural Land. Covered by Tax Decl. No. 06457, Cad. Lot No. 3273, C-7 Part 2 located at
Panyangan, Lunao, Gingoog City and bounded on the North by Lot No. 3269; South by Lot No. 3272;
East by Panyangan River; and West by Lot No. 3270, containing an area of THIRTY FOUR
THOUSAND THREE HUNDRED (34,300) sq. ms. more or less, being claimed by Miguel Tuto.
P3,880.00
(7) Agricultural Land. Covered by Tax Decl. No. 12000, Cad. Lot No. 2806, Case 7 located at
Agayayan, Gingoog City and bounded on the North by Agayayan River; South by Victoriano Barbac;
East by Isabelo Ramoso; and West by Restituto Baol, containing an area of SIX THOUSAND SIX
HUNDRED SEVENTY SIX (6,676) sq. ms. more or less.
P380.00
(8) Agricultural Land. Covered by Tax Decl. No. 12924, Cad. Lot No. 1206 C-1 located at Cahulogan,
Gingoog City and bounded on the NW., by Lot No. 1209; SW., by Lot No. 1207; Eastby National
Highway; and West by Lot No. 1207; containing an area of FOUR THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED
THIRTEEN (4,513) sq. ms. more or less.
P740.00
(9) Agricultural Land. Covered by Tax Decl. No. 12925, Cad. Lot No. 5554, located at Tinaytayan,
Pigsalohan, Gingoog City and bounded on the North by Lot Nos. 5559 & 5558; South by Lot No.
3486; East by Lot No. 5555; and West by Lot No. 5355, containing an area of EIGHTEEN
THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED TWENTY EIGHT (18,528) sq. ms. more or less.
P320.00
(10) Agricultural Land. Covered by Tax Decl. No. 12926, Cad. Lot No. 5555 C-7 located at
Tinaytayan, Pigsalojan, Gingoog City and bounded on the North by Tinaytayan Creek & Lot Nos.
5557 & 5558; South by Lot Nos. 3486, 3487, 3488, 3491 & 3496; East by Cr. & Lot No. 3496; and
West by Lot No. 5554, containing an area of SEVENTY SEVEN THOUSAND SEVEN HUNDRED
SEVENTY SIX (77,776) sq. ms. more or less.
P1,350.00
(11) A Commercial Land. Covered by Tax Decl. No. 06454, Cad. Lot No. 61-C-1 located at Guno-
Condeza Sts., Gingoog City and bounded on the North by Lot 64; South by Road-Lot 613 Condeza
St; East by Lot Nos. 63, and 62; West by Road-Lot 614-Guno St., containing an area of ONE
THOUSAND FORTY TWO (1,042) sq. ms. more or less.
P9,320.00
(12) A Commercial Land. Covered by Tax Decl. No. 06484, Lot No. 5, Block 2, located at Cabuyoan,
Gingoog City and bounded on the North by Lot No. 4, block 2; South by Lot No. 8, block 2; East by
Lot No. 6, block 2, West by Subdivision Road, containing an area of FOUR HUNDRED (400) sq. ms.
more or less.
P12,240.00
(13) A Commercial Land. Covered by Tax Decl. No. 15798, Block No. 7-A-16-0 located at Cabuyoan,
Gingoog City and bounded on the North by Lot No. 7-A-16-0; South by Lot No. 7-16-0; East by Lot
No. 7-A-18-Road; West by Lot No. 8, PSU-120704-Julito Arengo vs. Restituto Baol, containing an
area of TWO HUNDRED SIXTEEN (216) sq. ms. more or less.
P1,050.00
(14) Agricultural Land. Covered by Tax, Decl. No. 06789, Cad. Lot No. 5157-C-7, located at Kiogat,
Agayayan, Gingoog City and bounded on the North by Lot No. 5158, 5159, 5156; South by SE-Steep
Bank; East by NW, by Lot No. 5158, Villafranca, containing an area of NINETY SIX THOUSAND TWO
HUNDRED (96,200) sq. ms. more or less.
P3,370.00
III. PERSONAL ESTATE (CONJUGAL)
NATURE AND DESCRIPTION LOCATION APPRAISAL
1. Fifty (50) shares of stock
Rural Bank of Gingoog, Inc.
at P100.00 per share P5,000.00
2. Four (4) shares of Preferred Stock
with San Miguel Corporation 400.00
4. That, the parties hereto have agreed to divide the above-enumerated properties in the following
manner, to wit:
(a) To Patricio Alburo, Maria Ramoso Sanchez, Roland Pedro T. Sanchez,
Florida Mierly Sanchez, Alfredo T. Sanchez and Myrna T. Sanchez, in equal
pro-indiviso shares, considering not only their respective areas but also the
improvements existing thereon, to wit:
Agricultural Land. Covered by Tax Decl. No. 06453, Cad. Lot No. 3270
Case 7, located at Sunog, Lunao, Gingoog City and bounded on the North
by Samay Creek & Lot 3267; South by Lot Nos. 3271 and 3272; East by Lot
Nos. 3269 & 3273; and West by Samay Creek, containing an area of FOUR
HUNDRED EIGHTY THREE THOUSAND SIX HUNDRED (483,600) sq. ms.
and assessed in the sum of P61,680.00.
(b) To Rosalia Sanchez Lugod all the rest of the properties, both real and
personal, enumerated above with the exception of the following:
(1) Two Preferred Shares of Stock in the San Miguel
Corporation, indicated in San Miguel Corporation Stock
Certificate No. 30217, which two shares she is ceding in favor
of Patricio Alburo;
(2) The house and lot designated as Lot No. 5, Block 2
together with the improvements thereon and identified as
parcel No. II-12, lot covered by Tax Decl. No. 15798 identified
as Parcel No. II-13 in the above enumerated, and Cad. Lot No.
5157-C-7 together with the improvements thereon, which is
identified as parcel No. II-14 of the above-enumeration of
properties, which said Rosalia S. Lugod is likewise ceding and
renouncing in favor of Rolando Pedro, Florida Mierly, Alfredo
and Myrna, all surnamed Sanchez, in equal pro-indiviso
shares;
5. That Rolando Pedro, Florida Mierly, Alfredo and Myrna, all surnamed Sanchez hereby
acknowledge to have received jointly and severally in form of advances after October 21, 1968 the
aggregate sum of EIGHT THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED THIRTY-THREE PESOS (P8,533.94) and
NINETY-FOUR CENTAVOS;
6. That the parties hereto likewise acknowledge and recognize in the indebtedness of the deceased
Juan G. Sanchez and his deceased wife Maria Villafranca Sanchez to the Lugod Enterprises, Inc., in
the sum of P43,064.99;
7. That the parties hereto shall be responsible for the payment of the estate and inheritance taxes
proportionate to the value of their respective shares as may be determined by the Bureau of Internal
Revenue and shall likewise be responsible for the expenses of survey and segregation of their
respective shares;
8. That Patricio Alburo, Maria Ramoso Sanchez, Roland Pedro Sanchez, Florida Mierly Sanchez,
Alfredo Sanchez and Myrna Sanchez hereby waive, relinquish and renounce, jointly and individually,
in a manner that is absolute and irrevocable, all their rights and interests, share and participation
which they have or might have in all the properties, both real and personal, known or unknown
and/or which may not be listed herein, or in excess of the areas listed or mentioned herein, and/or
which might have been, at one time or another, owned by, registered or placed in the name of either
of the spouses Juan C. Sanchez or Maria Villafranca de Sanchez or both, and which either one or
both might have sold, ceded, transferred, or donated to any person or persons or entity and which
parties hereto do hereby confirm and ratify together with all the improvements thereon, as well as all
the produce and proceeds thereof, and particularly of the properties, real and personal listed herein,
as well as demandable obligations due to the deceased spouses Juan C. Sanchez, before and after
the death of the aforementioned spouses Juan C. Sanchez and Maria Villafranca de Sanchez, in
favor of oppositor Rosalia S. Lugod;
9. That the expenses of this litigation including attorney's fees shall be borne respectively by the
parties hereto;
10. That Laureta Tampus for herself and guardian ad-litem of her minor children, namely: Florida
Mierly, Alfredo, and Myrna, all surnamed Sanchez, hereby declare that she has no right, interest,
share and participation whatsoever in the estate left by Juan C. Sanchez and/or Maria Villafranca de
Sanchez, or both, and that she likewise waives, renounces, and relinquishes whatever rigid, share,
participation or interest therein which she has or might have in favor of Rosalia S. Lugod;
11. That, the parties hereto mutually waive and renounce in favor of each other any whatever claims
or actions, arising from, connected with, and as a result of Special Proceedings Nos. 44-M and 1022
of the Court of First Instance of Misamis Oriental, Rosalia S. Lugod, warranting that the parcel of land
ceded to the other parties herein contains 48 hectares and 36 ares.
12. That, Rosalia S. Lugod shall assume as she hereby assumes the payment to Lugod Enterprises,
Inc., of the sum of P51,598.93 representing the indebtedness of the estate of Juan C. Sanchez and
Maria Villafranca de Sanchez and the advances made to Rolando Pedro, Mierly, Alfredo, and Myna
all surnamed Sanchez, mentioned in paragraphs 5 hereto agree to have letters of administration
issued in favor of Rosalia S. Lugod without any bond.
That Rosalia S. Lugod likewise agrees to deliver possession and enjoyment of the parcel of land
herein ceded to petitioners and intervenors immediately after the signing of this agreement and that
the latter also mutually agree among themselves to have the said lot subdivided and partitioned
immediately in accordance with the proportion of one sixth (1/6) part for every petitioner and
intervenor and that in the meantime that the partition and subdivision is not yet effected, the
administrations of said parcel of land shall be vested jointly with Laureta Tampos, guardian ad litem
of petitioners and Maria Ramoso, one of the intervenors who shall see to it that each petitioner and
intervenor is given one sixth (1/6) of the net proceeds of all agricultural harvest made thereon.
WHEREFORE, it is most respectfully prayed that the foregoing compromise agreement be approved.
Medina, Misamis Oriental, October 30, 1969.
(Sgd.) (Sgd.)
PATRICIO ALBURO ROSALIA S. LUGOD
Intervenor-Oppositor Oppositor
(Sgd.)
MARIA RAMOSO SANCHEZ ASSISTED BY:
Intervenor-Oppositor
(Sgd.)
ASSISTED BY: PABLO S. REYES
R-101-Navarro Bldg.
(Sgd.) Don A. Velez St.
REYNALDO L. FERNANDEZ Cagayan de Oro City
Gingoong City
(Sgd.) (Sgd.)
ROLANDO PEDRO T. SANCHEZ ALFREDO T. SANCHEZ
Petitioner Petitioner
(Sgd.) (Sgd.)
FLORIDA MIERLY T. SANCHEZ MYRNA T. SANCHEZ
Petitioner Petitioner
(Sgd.)
LAURETA TAMPUS
For herself and as Guardian
Ad-Litem of the minors
Florida Mierly, Alfredo, and
Myrna, all surnamed Sanchez
ASSISTED BY:
TEOGENES VELEZ, JR.
Counsel for Petitioners
Cagayan de Oro City
The Clerk of Court
Court of First Instance
Branch III, Medina, Mis. Or.
Greetings:
Please set the foregoing compromise agreement for the approval of the Honorable Court today, Oct.
30, 1969.
(Sgd.) (Sgd.) (Sgd.)
PABLO S. REYES TEOGENES VELEZ, JR. REYNALDO L. FERNANDEZ
The Memorandum of Agreement dated April 13, 1970, which the parties entered into with the assistance of their
counsel, amended the above compromise. (It will be reproduced later in our discussion of the second issue raised
by the petitioners.)
The Court of Appeals, in a Resolution
10
dated September 4, 1992, initially dismissed private respondents' petition.
Acting, however, on a motion for reconsideration and a supplemental motion for reconsideration dated September 14, 1992
and September 25, 1992, respectively,
11
Respondent Court thereafter reinstated private respondents' petition in a
resolution
12
dated October 14, 1992.
In due course, the Court of Appeals, as earlier stated, rendered its assailed Decision granting the petition, setting
aside the trial court's decision and declaring the modified compromise agreement valid and binding.
Hence, this appeal to this Court under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court.
The Issues
In this appeal, petitioners invite the Court's attention to the following issues:
I
The respondent court grossly erred in granting the petition for certiorari under Rule 65 considering
that the special civil action of certiorari may not be availed of as a substitute for an appeal and that, in
any event, the grounds invoked in the petition are merely alleged errors of judgment which can no
longer be done in view of the fact that the decision of the lower court had long become final and
executory.
II
Prescinding from the foregoing, the respondent court erred in annulling the decision of the lower
court for the reason that a compromise agreement or partition as the court construed the same to
be, executed by the parties on October 30, 1969 was void and unenforceable the same not having
been approved by the intestate court and that the same having been seasonably repudiated by
petitioners on the ground of fraud.
III
The respondent court grossly erred in ignoring and disregarding findings of facts of the lower court
that the alleged conveyances of real properties made by the spouses Juan C. Sanchez and Maria
Villafranca just before their death in favor of their daughter and grandchildren, private respondents
herein, are tainted with fraud or made in contemplation of death, hence, collationable.
IV
In any event, the respondent court grossly erred in treating the lower court's declaration of
fictitiousness of the deeds of sale as a final adjudication of annulment.
V
The respondent court grossly erred in declaring the termination of the intestate proceedings even as
the lower court had not made a final and enforceable distribution of the estate of the deceased Juan
C. Sanchez.
VI
Prescinding from the foregoing, the respondent court grossly erred in not at least directing
respondent Rosalia S. Lugod to deliver the deficiency of eight (8) hectares due petitioners under the
compromise agreement and memorandum of agreement, and in not further directing her to include
in the inventory properties conveyed under the deeds of sale found by the lower court to be part of
the estate of Juan C. Sanchez.
13
The salient aspects of some issues are closely intertwined; hence, they are hereby consolidated into three main
issues specifically dealing with the following subjects: (1) the propriety of certiorari as a remedy before the Court
of Appeals, (2) the validity of the compromise agreement, and (3) the presence of fraud in the execution of the
compromise and/or collation of the properties sold.
The Court's Ruling
The petition is not meritorious.
First Issue: Propriety of Certiorari
Before the Court of Appeals
Since private respondents had neglected or failed to file an ordinary appeal within the reglementary period,
petitioners allege that the Court of Appeals erred in allowing private respondent's recourse to Rule 65 of the Rules
of Court. They contend that private respondents' invocation of certiorari was "procedurally defective."
14
They
further argue that private respondents, in their petition before the Court of Appeals, alleged errors of the trial court which,
being merely errors of judgment and not errors of jurisdiction, were not correctable by certiorari.
15
This Court disagrees.
Doctrinally entrenched is the general rule that certiorari is not a substitute for a lost appeal. However, Justice
Florenz D. Regalado lists several exceptions to this rule, viz.: "(1) where the appeal does not constitute a speedy
and adequate remedy (Salvadades vs. Pajarillo, et al., 78 Phil. 77), as where 33 appeals were involved from
orders issued in a single proceeding which will inevitably result in a proliferation of more appeals (PCIB vs.
Escolin, et al., L-27860 and 27896, Mar. 29, 1974); (2) where the orders were also issued either in excess of or
without jurisdiction (Aguilar vs. Tan, L-23600, Jun 30, 1970, Cf. Bautista, et al. vs. Sarmiento, et al., L-45137,
Sept. 231985); (3) for certain special consideration, as public welfare or public policy (See Jose vs. Zulueta, et al.
16598, May 31, 1961 and the cases cited therein); (4) where in criminal actions, the court rejects rebuttal
evidence for the prosecution as, in case of acquittal, there could be no remedy (People vs. Abalos, L029039, Nov.
28, 1968); (5) where the order is a patent nullity (Marcelo vs. De Guzman, et al., L-29077, June 29, 1982); and
(6) where the decision in the certiorari case will avoid future litigations (St. Peter Memorial Park, Inc. vs. Campos,
et al., L-38280, Mar. 21, 1975)."
16
Even in a case where the remedy of appeal was lost, the Court has issued the writ of
certiorari where the lower court patently acted in excess of or outside its jurisdiction,
17
as in the present case.
A petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court is appropriate and allowable when the following
requisites concur: (1) the writ is directed against a tribunal, board or officer exercising judicial or quasi-judicial
functions; (2) such tribunal, board or officer has acted without or in excess of jurisdiction, or with grave abuse of
discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction; and (3) there is no appeal or any plain, speedy and
adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law.
18
After a thorough review of the case at bar, we are convinced that all
these requirements were met.
As a probate court, the trial court was exercising judicial functions when it issued its assailed resolution. The said
court had jurisdiction to act in the intestate proceedings involved in this case with the caveat that, due to its limited
jurisdiction, it could resolve questions of title only provisionally.
19
It is hornbook doctrine that "in a special proceeding
for the probate of a will, the question of ownership is an extraneous matter which the probate court cannot resolve with
finality. This pronouncement no doubt applies with equal force to an intestate proceeding as in the case at bar."
20
In the
instant case, the trial court rendered a decision declaring as simulated and fictitious all the deeds of absolute sale which, on
July 26, 1963 and June 26, 1967, Juan C. Sanchez and Maria Villafranca executed in favor of their daughter, Rosalia
Sanchez Lugod; and grandchildren, namely, Arturo S. Lugod, Evelyn S. Lugod and Roberto S. Lugod. The trial court ruled
further that the properties covered by the said sales must be subject to collation. Citing Article 1409 (2) of the Civil Code,
the lower court nullified said deeds of sale and determined with finality the ownership of the properties subject thereof . In
doing so, it clearly overstepped its jurisdiction as a probate court. Jurisprudence teaches:
[A] probate court or one in charge of proceedings whether testate or intestate cannot adjudicate or
determine title to properties claimed to be a part of the estate and which are claimed to belong to
outside parties. All that the said court could do as regards said properties is to determine whether
they should or should not be included in the inventory or list of properties to be administered by the
administrator. If there is not dispute, well and good, but if there is, then the parties, the administrator,
and the opposing parties have to resort to an ordinary action for a final determination of the
conflicting claims of title because the probate court cannot do so.
21
Furthermore, the trial court committed grave abuse of discretion when it rendered its decision in disregard of the
parties' compromise agreement.
22
Such disregard, on the ground that the compromise agreement "was nor approved by
the court,"
23
is tantamount to "an evasion of positive duty or to a virtual refusal to perform the duty enjoined or to act in
contemplation and within the bounds of law. "
24
The foregoing issues clearly involve not only the correctness of the trial court's decision but also the latter's
jurisdiction. They encompass plain errors of jurisdiction and grave abuse of discretion, not merely errors of
judgment.
25
Since the trial court exceeded its jurisdiction, a petition for certiorari is certainly a proper remedy. Indeed, it is
well-settled that "(a)n act done by a probate court in excess of its jurisdiction may be corrected by certiorari."
26
Consistent with the foregoing, the following disquisition by respondent appellate court is apt:
As a general proposition, appeal is the proper remedy of petitioner Rosalia here under Rule 109 of
the Revised Rules of Court. But the availability of the ordinary course of appeal does not constitute
sufficient ground to [prevent] a party from making use of the extraordinary remedy of certiorari where
appeal is not an adequate remedy or equally beneficial, speedy and sufficient (Echauz vs. Court of
Appeals, 199 SCRA 381). Here, considering that the respondent court has disregarded the
compromise agreement which has long been executed as early as October, 1969 and declared null
and void the deeds of sale with finality, which, as a probate court, it has no jurisdiction to do, We
deem ordinary appeal is inadequate. Considering further the [trial court's] granting of [herein
petitioners') motion for execution of the assailed decision,
27
[herein private respondent] Rosalia's resort
to the instant petition [for review on certiorari] is all the more warranted under the circumstances.
28
We thus hold that the questioned decision and resolutions of the trial court may be challenged through a special
civil action for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court. At the very least, this case is a clear exception to the
general rule that certiorari is not a substitute for a lost appeal because the trial court's decision and resolutions
were issued without or in excess of jurisdiction, which may thus be challenged or attacked at any time. "A void
judgment for want of jurisdiction is no judgment at all. It cannot be the source of any right nor the creator of any
obligation. All acts performed pursuant to it and all claims emanating from it have no legal effect. Hence, it can
never become final and any writ of execution based on it is void; ' . . . it may be said to be a lawless thing which
can be treated as an outlaw and slain at sight, or ignored wherever and whenever it exhibits its head.' "
29
Second Issue: Validity of Compromise Agreement
Petitioners contend that, because the compromise agreement was executed during the pendency of the probate
proceedings, judicial approval is necessary to shroud it with validity. They stress that the probate court had
jurisdiction over the properties covered by said agreement. They add that Petitioners Florida Mierly, Alfredo and
Myrna were all miners represented only by their mother/natural guardian, Laureta Tampus.
30
These contentions lack merit. Article 2028 of the Civil Code defines a compromise agreement as "a contract
whereby the parties, by making reciprocal concessions, avoid a litigation or put an end to one already
commenced." Being a consensual contract, it is perfected upon the meeting of the minds of the parties. Judicial
approval is not required for its perfection.
31
Petitioners' argument that the compromise was not valid for lack of judicial
approval is not novel; the same was raised in Mayuga vs. Court of Appeals,
32
where the Court, through Justice Irene R.
Cortes, ruled:
It is alleged that the lack of judicial approval is fatal to the compromise. A compromise is a
consensual contract. As such, it is perfected upon the meeting of the minds of the parties to the
contract. (Hernandez v. Barcelon, 23 Phil. 599 [1912]; see also De los Reyes v. de Ugarte, 75 Phil.
505 [1945].) And from that moment not only does it become binding upon the parties (De los Reyes
v. De Ugarte, supra ), it also has upon them the effect and authority of res judicata (Civil Code, Art.
2037), even if not judicially approved (Meneses v. De la Rosa, 77 Phil. 34 [1946]; Vda. De Guilas v.
David, 132 Phil. 241, L-24280, 23 SCRA 762 [May 27, 1968]; Cochingyan v. Cloribel, L-27070-71
[April 22, 1977], 76 SCRA 361). (Emphasis found in the original.)
In the case before us, it is ineludible that the parties knowingly and freely entered into a valid compromise
agreement. Adequately assisted by their respective counsels, they each negotiated its terms and provisions for
four months; in fact, said agreement was executed only after the fourth draft. As noted by the trial court itself, the
first and second drafts were prepared successively in July, 1969; the third draft on September 25, 1969; and the
fourth draft, which was finally signed by the parties on October 30, 1969,
33
followed. Since this compromise
agreement was the result of a long drawn out process, with all the parties ably striving to protect their respective interests
and to come out with the best they could, there can be no doubt that the parties entered into it freely and voluntarily.
Accordingly, they should be bound thereby.
34
To be valid, it is merely required under the law to be based on real claims
and actually agreed upon in good faith by the parties thereto.
35
Indeed, compromise is a form of amicable settlement that is not only allowed but also encouraged in civil cases.
36
Article 2029 of the Civil Code mandates that a "court shall endeavor to persuade the litigants in a civil case to agree
upon some fair compromise."
In opposing the validity and enforcement of the compromise agreement, petitioners harp on the minority of
Florida Mierly, Alfredo and Myna. Citing Article 2032 of the Civil Code, they contend that the court's approval is
necessary in compromises entered into by guardians and parents in behalf of their wards or children.
37
However, we observe that although denominated a compromise agreement, the document in this case is
essentially a deed of partition, pursuant to Article 1082 of the Civil Code which provides that "[e]very act which is
intended to put an end to indivision among co-heirs and legatees or devisees is deemed to be a partition,
although it should purport to be a sale, an exchange, a compromise, or any other transaction."
For a partition to be valid, Section 1, Rule 74 of the Rules of Court, requires the concurrence of the following
conditions: (1) the decedent left no will; (2) the decedent left no debts, or if there were debts left, all had been
paid; (3) the heirs and liquidators are all of age, or if they are minors, the latter are represented by their judicial
guardian or legal representatives; and (4) the partition was made by means of a public instrument or affidavit duly
filed with the Register of Deeds.
38
We find that all the foregoing requisites are present in this case. We therefore affirm
the validity of the parties' compromise agreement/partition in this case.
In any event, petitioners neither raised nor ventilated this issue in the trial court. This new question or matter was
manifestly beyond the pale of the issues or questions submitted and threshed out before the lower court which
are reproduced below, viz.:
I Are the properties which are the object of the sale by the deceased spouses to their
grandchildren collationable?
II Are the properties which are the object of the sale by the deceased spouses to their
legitimate daughter also collationable?
III The first and second issues being resolved, how much then is the rightful share of the
four (4) recognized illegitimate children?
39
Furthermore, the 27-page Memorandum dated February 17, 1990 filed by petitioners before the Regional Trial
Court
40
readily reveals that they never questioned the validity of the compromise. In their comment before the Court of
Appeals,
41
petitioners based their objection to sad compromise agreement on the solitary "reason that it was tainted with
fraud and deception," zeroing specifically on the alleged fraud committed by private respondent Rosalia S. Lugod.
42
The
issue of minority was first raised only in petitioners' Motion for Reconsideration of the Court of Appeals' Decision;
43
thus, it
"is as if it was never duly raised in that court at all."
44
Hence, this Court cannot now, for the first time on appeal, entertain
this issue, for to do so would plainly violate the basic rule of fair play, justice and due process.
45
We take this opportunity
to reiterate and emphasize the well-settled rule that "(a)n issue raised for the first time on appeal and not raised timely in the
proceedings in the lower court is barred by estoppel. Questions raised on appeal must be within the issues framed by the
parties and, consequently, issues not raised in the trial court cannot be raised for the first time on appeal."
46
The petitioners likewise assail as void the provision on waiver contained in No. 8 of the aforequoted compromise,
because it allegedly constitutes a relinquishment by petitioners of "a right to properties which were not known."
47
They argue that such waiver is contrary to law, public policy, morals or good custom. The Court disagrees. The assailed
waiver pertained to their hereditary right to properties belonging to the decedent's estate which were not included in the
inventory of the estate's properties. It also covered their right to other properties originally belonging to the spouses Juan
Sanchez and Maria Villafranca de Sanchez which have been transferred to other persons. In addition, the parties agreed in
the compromise to confirm and ratify said transfers. The waiver is valid because, contrary to petitioners' protestation, the
parties waived a known and existing interest their hereditary right which was already vested in them by reason of the
death of their father. Article 777 of the Civil Code provides that "(t)he rights to the succession are transmitted from the
moment of death of the decedent." Hence, there is no legal obstacle to an heir's waiver of his/her hereditary share "even if
the actual extent of such share is not determined until the subsequent liquidation of the estate."
48
At any rate, such waiver
is consistent with the intent and letter of the law advocating compromise as a vehicle for the settlement of civil disputes.
49
Finally, petitioners contend that Private Respondent Rosalia T. Lugod's alleged fraudulent acts, specifically her
concealment of some of the decedent's properties, attended the actual execution of the compromise agreement.
50
This argument is debunked by the absence of any substantial and convincing evidence on record showing fraud on her
part. As aptly observed by the appellate court:
[Herein petitioners] accuse [herein private respondent] Rosalia of fraud or deception by alleging, inter
alia, that the parcel of land given to them never conformed to the stated area, i.e., forty-eight (48)
hectares, as stated in the compromise agreement. We find this argument unconvincing and
unmeritorious. [Herein petitioners'] averment of fraud on the part of [herein private respondent]
Rosalia becomes untenable when We consider the memorandum of agreement they later executed
with [herein private respondent] Rosalia wherein said compromise agreement was modified by
correcting the actual area given to [herein petitioners] from forty-eight (48) hectares to thirty-six (36)
hectares only. If the actual area allotted to them did not conform to the 48 hectare area stated in the
compromise agreement, then why did they agree to the memorandum of agreement whereby their
share in the estate of their father was even reduced to just 36 hectares? Where is fraud or deception
there? Considering that [herein petitioners] were ably represented by their lawyers in executing these
documents and who presumably had explained to them the import and consequences thereof, it is
hard to believe their charge that they were defrauded and deceived by [herein private respondent]
Rosalia.
If the parcel of land given to [herein petitioners], when actually surveyed, happened to be different in
area to the stated area of 48 hectares in the compromise agreement, this circumstance is not
enough proof of fraud or deception on [herein private respondent] Rosalia's part. Note that Tax
Declaration No. 06453 plainly discloses that the land transferred to [herein petitioners] pursuant to
the compromise agreement contained an area of 48 hectares (Annex "A", Supplemental Reply). And
when [herein petitioners] discovered that the land allotted to them actually contained only 24
hectares, a conference between the parties took place which led to the execution and signing of the
memorandum of agreement wherein [herein petitioners'] distributive share was even reduced to 36
hectares. In the absence of convincing and clear evidence to the contrary, the allegation of fraud and
deception cannot be successfully imputed to [herein private respondent] Rosalia who must be
presumed to have acted in good faith.
51
The memorandum of agreement freely and validly entered into by the parties on April 13, 1970 and referred to
above reads:
MEMORANDUM OF AGREEMENT
The parties assisted by their respective counsel have agreed as they hereby agree:
1. To amend the compromise agreement executed by them on October 30, 1969 so as to include the
following:
a. Correction of the actual area being given to the petitioners and intervenors, all
illegitimate children of the late Juan C. Sanchez, forty-eight (48) hectares, thirty-six (36)
ares as embodied in the aforementioned compromise agreement to thirty-six (36)
hectares only, thus enabling each of them to get six (6) hectares each.
b. That the said 36-hectare area shall be taken from that parcel of land which is now
covered by O.C.T. No. 146 (Patent No. 30012) and the adjoining areas thereof
designated as Lot A and Lot C as reflected on the sketch plan attached to the record of
this case prepared by Geodetic Engineer Olegario E. Zalles pursuant to the Court's
commission of March 10, 1970 provided, however, that if the said 36-hectare area could
not be found after adding thereto the areas of said lots A and C, then the additional area
shall be taken from what is designated as Lot B, likewise also reflected in the said sketch
plan attached to the records;
c. That the partition among the six illegitimate children of the late Juan C. Sanchez
(petitioners and intervenors) shall be effective among themselves in such a manner to
be agreed upon by them, each undertaking to assume redemption of whatever plants
found in their respective shares which need redemption from the tenants thereof as well
as the continuity of the tenancy agreements now existing and covering the said shares
or areas.
d. The subdivision survey shall be at the expense of the said petitioners and intervenors
prorata.
e. That the administratrix agrees to deliver temporary administration of the area
designated as Lot 5 of the Valles Sketch Plan pending final survey of the said 36-hectare
area.
Cagayan de Oro City, April 13, 1970.
(Sgd.)
LAURETA TAMPOS
For herself and as Guardian
ad-litem of Rolando, Mierly,
Alfredo and Myrna, all
surnamed Sanchez
Assisted by:
(Sgd.)
TEOGENES VELEZ, Jr.
Counsel for Petitioners
(Sgd.)
ROSALIA S. LUGOD
Administratrix
Assisted by:
(Sgd.)
PABLO S. REYES
Counsel for Administratrix
(Sgd.)
MARIA RABOSO SANCHEZ
Intervenor
52
Not only did the parties knowingly enter into a valid compromise agreement; they even amended it when they
realized some errors in the original. Such correction emphasizes the voluntariness of said deed.
It is also significant that all the parties, including the then minors, had already consummated and availed
themselves of the benefits of their compromise.
53
This Court has consistently ruled that "a party to a compromise
cannot ask for a rescission after it has enjoyed its benefits."
54
By their acts, the parties are ineludibly estopped from
questioning the validity of their compromise agreement. Bolstering this conclusion is the fact that petitioners questioned the
compromise only nine years after its execution, when they filed with the trial court their Motion to Defer Approval of
Compromise Agreement, dated October 26, 1979.
55
In hindsight, it is not at all farfetched that petitioners filed said motion
for the sole reason that they may have felt shortchanged in their compromise agreement or partition with private
respondents, which in their view was unwise and unfair. While we may sympathize with this rueful sentiment of petitioners,
we can only stress that this alone is not sufficient to nullify or disregard the legal effects of said compromise which, by its
very nature as a perfected contract, is binding on the parties. Moreover, courts have no jurisdiction to look into the wisdom
of a compromise or to render a decision different therefrom.
56
It is a well-entrenched doctrine that "the law does not relieve
a party from the effects of an unwise, foolish, or disastrous contract, entered into with all the required formalities and with
full awareness of what he was doing"
57
and "a compromise entered into and carried out in good faith will not be discarded
even if there was a mistake of law or fact, (McCarthy vs. Barber Steamship Lines, 45 Phil. 488) because courts have no
power to relieve parties from obligations voluntarily assumed, simply because their contracts turned out to be disastrous
deals or unwise investments."
58
Volenti non fit injuria.
Corollarily, the petitioners contend that the Court of Appeals gravely abused its discretion in deeming Special
Proceedings Nos. 44-M and 1022 "CLOSED and TERMINATED," arguing that there was as yet no order of
distribution of the estate pursuant to Rule 90 of the Rules of Court. They add that they had not received their full
share thereto.
59
We disagree. Under Section 1, Rule 90 of the Rules of Court, an order for the distribution of the estate
may be made when the "debts, funeral charges, and expenses of administration, the allowance to the widow, and
inheritance tax, if any," had been paid. This order for the distribution of the estate's residue must contain the names and
shares of the persons entitled thereto. A perusal of the whole record, particularly the trial court's conclusion,
60
reveals that
all the foregoing requirements already concurred in this case. The payment of the indebtedness of the estates of Juan C.
Sanchez and Maria Villafranca in the amount of P51,598.93 was shouldered by Private Respondent Rosalia, who also
absorbed or charged against her share the advances of Rolando T. Lugod in the sum of P8,533.94, in compliance with
Article 1061 of the Civil Code on collation.
61
Furthermore, the compromise of the parties, which is the law between them,
already contains the names and shares of the heirs to the residual estate, which shares had also been delivered. On this
point, we agree with the following discussion of the Court of Appeals:
But what the (trial court) obviously overlooked in its appreciation of the facts of this case are the
uncontroverted facts that (herein petitioners) have been in possession and ownership of their
respective distributive shares as early as October 30, 1969 and they have received other properties
in addition to their distributive shares in consideration of the compromise agreement which they now
assail. Proofs thereof are Tax Declarations No. 20984, 20985, 20986, 20987, 20988, 20989 and
20990 (Annexes "B" to "H", Supplemental Reply) in the respective names of (herein petitioners), all
for the year 1972. (Herein petitioners) also retained a house and lot, a residential lot and a parcel of
agricultural land (Annexes "I", "J" and "K", Ibid.) all of which were not considered in the compromise
agreement between the parties. Moreover, in the compromise agreement per se, it is undoubtedly
stated therein that cash advances in the aggregate sum of P8,533.94 were received by (herein
petitioners) after October 21, 1968 (Compromise Agreement, par. 5)
62
All the foregoing show clearly that the probate court had essentially finished said intestate proceedings which,
consequently, should be deemed closed and terminated. In view of the above discussion, the Court sees no
reversible error on the part of the Court of Appeals.
Third Issue: Fraud and Collation
Petitioners fault Respondent Court for not ordering Private Respondent Rosalia T. Lugod to deliver to them the
deficiency as allegedly provided under the compromise agreement. They further contend that said court erred in
not directing the provisional inclusion of the alleged deficiency in the inventory for purposes of collating the
properties subject of the questioned deeds of sale.
63
We see no such error. In the trial court, there was only one
hearing conducted, and it was held only for the reception of the evidence of Rosalia S. Lugod to install her as administratrix
of the estate of Maria Villafranca. There was no other evidence, whether testimonial or otherwise, "received, formally offered
to, and subsequently admitted by the probate court below"; nor was there "a trial on the merits of the parries' conflicting
claims."
64
In fact, the petitioners "moved for the deferment of the compromise agreement on the basis of alleged fraudulent
concealment of properties NOT because of any deficiency in the land conveyed to them under the agreements."
65
Hence, there is no hard evidence on record to back up petitioners' claims.
In any case, the trial court noted Private Respondent Rosalia's willingness to reimburse any deficiency actually
proven to exist. It subsequently ordered the geodetic engineer who prepared the certification and the sketch of
the lot in question, and who could have provided evidence for the petitioners, "to bring records of his relocation
survey."
66
However, Geodetic Engineer Idulsa did not comply with the court's subpoena duces tecum and ad
testificandum. Neither did he furnish the required relocation survey.
67
No wonder, even after a thorough scrutiny of the
records, this Court cannot find any evidence to support petitioners' allegations of fraud against Private Respondent Rosalia.
Similarly, petitioners' allegations of fraud in the execution of the questioned deeds of sale are bereft of substance,
in view of the palpable absence of evidence to support them. The legal presumption of validity of the questioned
deeds of absolute sale, being duly notarized public documents, has not been overcome.
68
On the other hand, fraud
is not presumed. It must be proved by clear and convincing evidence, and not by mere conjectures or speculations. We
stress that these deeds of sale did not involve gratuitous transfers of future inheritance; these were contracts of sale
perfected by the decedents during their lifetime.
69
Hence, the properties conveyed thereby are not collationable because,
essentially, collation mandated under Article 1061 of the Civil Code contemplates properties conveyed inter vivos by the
decedent to an heir by way of donation or other gratuitous title.
In any event, these alleged errors and deficiencies regarding the delivery of shares provided in the compromise,
concealment of properties and fraud in the deeds of sale are factual in nature which, as a rule, are not reviewable
by this Court in petitions under Rule 45.
70
Petitioners have failed to convince us that this case constitutes an exception
to such rule. All in all, we find that the Court of Appeals has sufficiently addressed the issues raised by them. Indeed, they
have not persuaded us that said Court committed any reversible error to warrant a grant of their petition.
WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DENIED and the assailed Decision of the Court of Appeals is AFFIRMED.
SO ORDERED.
Narvasa, C.J., Romero, Melo and Francisco, JJ., concur.
Footnotes
1 Rollo, pp. 48-60.
2 Fourteenth Division, composed of J. Luis L. Victor, ponente, and JJ. Fidel P. Purisima and Oscar
M. Herrera, acting chairman.
3 Rollo, pp. 85-117.
4 Penned by Judge Vivencio A. Galon.
5 Decision of the Court of Appeals, p. 13; rollo, p. 60.
6 Two other illegitimate children of Juan C. Sanchez, namely, Patricio Alburo and Maria Ramoso,
intervened in the intestate proceedings. However, they are not parties in the present controversy
before the Supreme Court.
7 Decision of the Court of Appeals, pp. 1-6; rollo, pp. 48-53.
8 Ibid., p. 6; rollo, p. 53.
9 Copied from the trial court's decision, pp. 7-13; rollo, pp. 91-97; Annex "J", petition. See also Annex
"2", Comment dated July 2, 1993; rollo, pp. 159-167.
10 Record of the Court of Appeals, pp. 161-163.
11 Ibid., pp. 169-191.
12 Ibid., pp. 250-252.
13 Petition, pp. 15-16; rollo, pp. 23-24. See also Memorandum for Petitioners, pp. 12-14; rollo, pp.
444-446.
14 Memorandum for Petitioners, p. 17; rollo, p. 449.
15 Ibid., pp. 19-20; rollo, pp. 451-452.
16 Remedial Law Compendium, Volume One, p. 708, (1997).
17 Philippine National Bank vs. Florendo, 206 SCRA 582, 589, February 26, 1992. See also Heirs of
Mayor Nomencio Galvez vs. Court of Appeals, 255 SCRA 672, 689, March 29, 1996.
18 Section 1, Rule 65, Rules of Court. See Cochingyan, Jr. vs. Cloribel, 76 SCRA 361, 385, April 22,
1977.
19 Jimenez vs. Intermediate Appellate Court, 184 SCRA 367, 371-372, April 17, 1990.
20 Ibid., p. 372.
21 Ortega vs. Court of Appeals, 153 SCRA 96, 102-103, August 14, 1987, per Paras, J. See also
Morales vs. CFI of Cavite, Br. V, 146 SCRA 373, 381-383, December 29, 1986.
22 See Julieta V. Esguerra vs. Court of Appeals and Sureste Properties, Inc. G.R. No. 119310, p. 21,
February 3, 1997; and Tac-an Dano vs. Court of Appeals, 137 SCRA 803, 813, July 29, 1985.
23 Decision of the Regional Trial Court, p. 14; rollo, p. 98.
24 Paredes vs. Civil Service Commission, 192 SCRA 84, 94, December 4, 1990, per Paras, J.; citing
Carson et al. vs. Judge Pantamosos, Jr., 180 SCRA 151, December 15, 1989, Intestate Estate of
Carmen de Luna vs. Intermediate Appelate Court, 170 SCRA 246, February 13, 1989, and People
vs. Manuel, 11 SCRA 618, July 31, 1964. See also Cochingyan, Jr. vs. Cloribel, supra, pp. 387-388.
25 See Cochingyan, Jr. vs. Cloribel, supra, p. 386.
26 Maninang vs. Court of Appeals, 114 SCRA 478, 485, June 19, 1982, per Melencio-Herrera, J.;
citing Llamas vs. Moscoso, 95 Phil. 599 (1954).
27 See Regional Trial Court's Omnibus Order Denying Second Motion for Reconsideration and
Denying Prayer for Voluntary Inhibition of Undersigned Trial Judge, Declaring Decision Dated June
26, 1991 as Final and Executory, p. 6; rollo, p.123.
28 Decision of the Court of Appeals, p. 13; rollo, p. 60.
29 Leonor vs. Court of Appeals, 256 SCRA 69, April 2, 1996, per Panganiban, J.
30 Memorandum for the Petitioners, pp. 23-28; rollo, pp. 455-460.
31 See Domingo vs. Court of Appeals, 255 SCRA 189, 199, March 20, 1996, per Kapunan, J., and
Go vs. Intermediate Appelate Court, 183 SCRA 82, 86-87, March 12, 1990, per Fernan, C.J.
32 154 SCRA 309, 320, September 28, 1987.
33 Decision of the Regional Trial Court, p. 14; rollo, p. 98.
34 Republic vs. Sandiganbayan, 173 SCRA 72, 83, May 4, 1989.
35 Landiol Resources Corporation vs. Tensuan, 168 SCRA 569, 579, December 20, 1988.
36 Ibid.
37 Petitioners' Memorandum, pp. 26-27; rollo, pp. 458-459.
38 Santiago Esquivel, et al, vs. The Court of Appeals, Alfredo N. Frias and Belen Lustre-Frias, G.R.
No. L-8825, p. 5, April 20, 1956, 98 Phil. 1008, Unrep., per Bautista Angelo, J. See also Gomez vs.
Mariano, et al, 17 C.A.R. 1295, 1299, December 23, 1972, per Gaviola Jr., J.
39 Memorandum of Petitioners in the Regional Trial Court, p. 9; record of the Court of Appeals, p.
203.
40 See Record, pp. 195 to 221.
41 Record, pp. 355-374.
42 Petitioners' Comment in the Court of Appeals, pp. 6-7; Record pp. 265-266.
43 Motion for Reconsideration, pp. 13-14; Record, pp. 366-367.
44 Manila Bay Club Corporation vs. Court of Appeals, 245 SCRA 715, 729, July 11, 1995, per
Francisco, J.
45 Medida vs. Court of Appeals, 208 SCRA 887, 893, May 8, 1992, per Regalado, J.; citing Vencilao,
et al. vs. Vano, et al., 182 SCRA 491, February 23, 1990, and Gevero, et al vs. Intermediate
Appellate Court, et al., 189 SCRA 201, August 30, 1990.
46 Caltex (Philippines), Inc. vs. Court of Appeals, 212 SCRA 448, 461, August 10, 1992, per
Regalado, J.; citing Mejorada vs. Municipal Council of Dipolog, 52 SCRA 451, August 31, 1973, Sec.
18, Rule 46, Rules of Court, Garcia, et al. vs. Court of Appeals, et al., 102 SCRA 597, January 31,
1981, Matienzo vs. Servidad, 107 SCRA 276, September 10, 1981, Aguinaldo Industries Corporation,
etc. vs. Commissioner of Internal Revenue, et al., 112 SCRA 136, February 25, 1982, Dulos Realty &
Development Corporation vs. Court of Appeals, et al., 157 SCRA 425, January 28, 1988.
47 Memorandum for the Petitioners, pp. 28-30; rollo, pp. 460-462.
48 De Borja vs. Vda. de de Borja, 46 SCRA 577, 586, August 18, 1972, per Reyes, J.B.L., J.
49 See Republic vs. Sandiganbayan, 226 SCRA 314, 321-322, supra, and McCarthy vs.
Sandiganbayan, 45 Phil. 488, 498, (1923).
50 Memorandum for Petitioners, pp. 30-31; rollo, pp. 462-463.
51 Decision of the Court of Appeals, pp. 8-9; rollo, pp. 55-56.
52 Annex "2", Comment dated July 2, 1993; rollo, pp. 168-169.
53 Decision of the Court of Appeals, p. 9; rollo, p. 56. See also Memorandum of Private
Respondents, pp. 21-22; rollo, pp. 319-320.
54 Republic vs. Sandiganbayan, supra.
55 Rollo, pp. 170-173. On said date, October 26, 1979, the minors had all well passed the age of
majority. See petition before the trial court, dated January 14, 1969, showing the ages then of Florida
Mierly at 19, Alfredo at 18 and Myrna at 16 (Rollo, p. 63).
56 Julieta V. Esguerra vs. Court of Appeals and Sureste Properties, Inc., supra, pp. 12- 13, per
Panganiban, J.
57 Ibid., p. 12. See also Tanda vs. Aldaya, 89 Phil. 497, 503, (1951), per Tuason, J.
58 Villacorte vs. Mariano, 89 Phil. 341, 349, (1951), per Bengzon, J.
59 Memorandum for the Petitioners, pp. 36-37; rollo, pp. 468-469.
60 Decision of the Regional Trial Court, pp. 26-33; rollo, pp. 110-117.
61 Memorandum for Rosalia S. Lugod, p. 4; Annex "O," Court of Appeals Petition, Record, p. 106.
See also Memorandum of Private Respondents, p. 21; rollo, p. 319.
62 Decision of the Court of Appeals, p. 9; rollo, p. 56.
63 See Memorandum for the Petitioners, pp. 37-40; rollo, pp. 469-472.
64 See Memorandum for Private Respondents, pp. 32-36; rollo, pp. 329-333.
65 Reply Memorandum, pp. 2-3; rollo, pp. 479-480.
66 Ibid., p. 5; rollo, p. 482.
67 Ibid., pp. 5-6; rollo, pp. 482-483. The Certification and Sketch Plan Geodetic Engineer Idulsa
submitted to the trial court, pointed out by petitioners in their Memorandum dated March 17, 1994 (p.
12; rollo, p. 444), are not the relocation survey required of him by said court.
68 See Record of the Court of Appeals, pp. 150-154.
69 Favor vs. Court of Appeals, 194 SCRA 308, 313, February 21, 1991, per Cruz, J.
70 Maximino Fuentes vs. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 109849, pp. 5-6, February 26, 1997.
The Lawphil Project - Arellano Law Foundation
Today is Monday, July 14, 2014
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 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 Answer
6
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 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
764
18
and 765
19
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 748
25
and 749
26
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;
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.
Panganiban, Sandoval-Gutierrez and Corona, JJ ., concur.
Puno, J ., took no part. Knows one of the parties.
Footnotes
1
Rollo at 3951.
2
Exhibit "A", Records at 3637.
3
Id. at 37.
4
Exhibit "B", Records at 38.
5
Records at 111.
6
Id. at 6267, 8287.
7
Art. 729 When the donor intends that the donation shall take effect during the lifetime of the donor,
though the property shall not be delivered till after the donor's death, this shall be a donation inter vivos.
The fruits of the property from the time of the acceptance of the donation, shall pertain to the donee, unless
the donor provides otherwise.
8
Id at 48.
9
Rollo at 13.
10
Ibid.
11
Id. at 50.
12
Id. at 49.
13
Id. at 50.
14
Id. at 1819.
15
Id. at 20.
16
Id. at 31.
17
Art. 760. Every donation inter vivos, made by a person having no children or descendants, legitimate or
legitimated by subsequent marriage, or illegitimate, may be revoked or reduced as provided in the next
article, by the happening of any of these events:
(1) If the donor, after the donation, should have legitimate or legitimated or illegitimate children, even
though they be posthumous;
(2) If the child of the donor, whom the latter believed to be dead when he made the donation, should turn
out to be living;
(3) If the donor should subsequently adopt a minor child.
18
Art. 764. The donation shall be revoked at the instance of the donor, when the donee fails to comply with
any of the conditions which the former imposed upon the latter.
In this case, the property donated shall be returned to the donor, the alienations made by the donee
and the mortgages imposed thereon by him being void, with the limitations established, with regard
to third persons, by the Mortgage Law and the Land Registration laws.
This action shall prescribe after four years from the noncompliance with the condition, may be
transmitted to the heirs of the donor, and may be exercised against the donee's heirs.
19
Art. 765. The donation may also be revoked at the instance of the donor, by reason of ingratitude
in the following cases:
(1) If the donee should commit some offense against the person, the honor or the property of the
donor, or of his wife or children under his parental authority;
(2) If the donee imputes to the donor any criminal offense, or any act involving moral turpitude, even
though he should prove it, unless the crime or the act has been committed against the donee
himself, his wife or children under his authority;
(3) If he unduly refuses him support when the donee is legally or morally bound to give support to the
donor.
20
Rollo at 90.
21
Id. at 97.
22
Gestopa v. Court of Appeals, 342 SCRA 105, 110 (2000) (citation omitted).
23
Puig v. Peaflorida, 15 SCRA 276, 282 (1965) (citation omitted).
24
78 SCRA 245, 253, citations omitted (1977).
25
Art. 748. The donation of a movable may be made orally or in writing.
An oral donation requires the simultaneous delivery of the thing or of the document representing the
right donated.
If the value of the personal property donated exceeds five thousand pesos, the donation and the
acceptance shall be made in writing. Otherwise, the donation shall be void.
26
Art. 749. In order that the donation of an immovable may be valid, it must be made in a public document,
specifying therein the property donated and the value of the charges which the donee must satisfy.
The acceptance may be made in the same deed of donation or in a separate public document, but it
shall not take effect unless it is done during the lifetime of the donor.
If the acceptance is made in a separate instrument, the donor shall be notified thereof in an authentic
form, and this step shall be noted in both instruments.
27
Tolentino, Commentaries and Jurisprudence on the Civil Code of the Philippines; Vol. II, 1998 ed. at 538.
28
Austria-Magat v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 106755, February 1, 2002 (citation omitted).
29
Maglasang v. Heirs of Cabatingan, G.R. No. 131953, June 5, 2002.
30
Bonsato v. Court of Appeals, 95 Phil. 482, 487 (1954); Alejandro v. Geraldez, 78 SCRA 245, 255 (1977);
Reyes v. Mosqueda, 187 SCRA 661, 671 (1990); Austria-Magat v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 106755,
February 1, 2002; Maglasang v. Heirs of Cabatingan, G.R. No. 131953, June 5, 2002.
31
Exhibit "A", Records at 37.
32
Bonsato v. Court of Appeals, 95 Phil. 482, 488 (1954).
33
Alejandro v. Geraldez, 78 SCRA 245, 256 (1977).
34
G.R. No. 131953, June 5, 2002.
35
National Treasurer v. Vda. de Meimban, 131 SCRA 264, 270 (1984); Puig v. Peaflorida, 15 SCRA 276,
287 (1965).
The Lawphil Project - Arellano Law Foundation
Today is Monday, July 14, 2014
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
THIRD DIVISION

G.R. No. 125888 August 13, 1998
SPOUSES ERNESTO and EVELYN SICAD, petitioners,
vs.
COURT OF APPEALS, CATALINO VALDERRAMA, JUDY CRISTINA M. VALDERRAMA and JESUS ANTONIO
VALDERRAMA, respondents.

NARVASA, C.J.:
The issue raised in the appeal by certiorari at bar centers on the character of a deed of donation executed by the late Aurora Virto DA. de Motinola of the
City of Iloilo as either inter vivos or mortis causa. That deed, entitled "DEED OF DONATION INTER VIVOS,"
1
was executed by Montinola on
December 11, 1979. It named as donees her grandchildren, namely: Catalino Valderrama, Judy Cristina Valderrama and
Jesus Antonio Valderrama: and treated of a parcel of land, Lot 3231 of the Cadastral Survey of Panay, located at Brgy.
Pawa, Panay, Capiz, covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-16105 in the name of Montinola. The deed also
contained the signatures of the donees in acknowledgment of their acceptance of the donation.
Montinola's Secretary, Gloria Salvilla, afterwards presented the deed for recording in the Property Registry, and
the Register of Deeds cancelled TCT No. T-16105 (the donor's title) and, in its place, issued TCT No. T-16622 on
February 7, 1980, in the names of the donees.
2
Montinola however retained the owner's duplicate copy of the new title
(No. T-16622), as well as the property itself, until she transferred the same ten (10) years later, on July 10, 1990, to the
spouses, Ernesto and Evelyn Sicad.
On March 12, 1987, Aurora Montinola drew up a deed of revocation of the donation,
3
and caused it to be annotated
as an adverse claim on TCT No. T-16622 (issued, as aforestated, in her grandchildren's names). Then, on August 24, 1990,
she filed a petition with the Regional Trial Court in Roxas City for the cancellation of said TCT No. T-16622 and the
reinstatement of TCT No. T- 16105 (in her name), the case being docketed as Special Proceeding No. 3311. Her petition
was founded on the theory that the donation to her three (3) grandchildren was one mortis causa which thus had to comply
with the formalities of a will; and since it had not, the donation was void and could not effectively serve as basis for the
cancellation of TCT No. T-16105 and the issuance in its place of TCT No. T-16622.
The donees (Montinola's grandchildren) opposed the petition. In their opposition dated August 29, 1990, they
averred that the donation in their favor was one inter vivos which, having fully complied with the requirements
therefor set out in Article 729 of the Civil Code, was perfectly valid and efficacious. They also expressed doubt
about the sincerity of their grandmother's intention to recover the donated property, since she had not pursued
the matter of its revocation after having it annotated as an adverse claim.
The case, originally treated as a special proceeding, was subsequently considered by the lower Court as an
ordinary civil action in view of the allegations and issues raised in the pleadings. Pre-trial was had, followed by trial
on the merits which was concluded with the filing of the parties' memoranda. The Trial Court then rendered
judgment on March 27, 1991, holding that the donation was indeed one inter vivos, and dismissing Aurora
Montinola's petition for lack of merit.
4
The matter of its revocation was not passed upon.
Montinola elevated the case to the Court of Appeals, her appeal being docketed as CA-G.R. CV No. 33202. She
however died on March 10, 1993,
5
while the appeal was pending.
Shortly after Montinola's demise, a "Manifestation and Motion" dated March 31, 1993 was filed by Ernesto Sicad
and Evelyn Bofill-Sicad, herein petitioners,
6
in which they (a) alleged that they had become the owners of the property
covered by TCT No. T-16622 in virtue of a "deed of definite sale dated May 25, 1992" accomplished by Montinola in their
favor, which was confirmed by "an affidavit dated November 26, 1997 also executed by the latter, and (b) prayed that they
be substituted as appellants and allowed to prosecute the case in their own behalf.
Another motion was subsequently presented under date of April 7, 1993, this time by the legal heirs of Aurora
Montinola, namely: Ofelia M. de Leon, Estela M. Jaen and Teresita M. Valderama. They declared that they were
not interested in pursuing the case, and asked that the appeal be withdrawn. Montinola's counsel opposed the
motion.
On June 21, 1993, the Court of Appeals issued a Resolution: (a) ordering the substitution of the persons above
mentioned Ofelia de Leon, Estela M, Jaen, and Teresita M. Valderama as plaintiffs-appellants in place of
the late Aurora Montinola, as well as the joinder of the spouses Ernesto and Evelyn Bofill-Sicad as additional
appellants;
7
and (b) denying the motion for the withdrawal of the appeal.
On June 30, 1995, the Eighth Division of the Court of Appeals promulgated its Decision on the case affirming the
judgment of the Regional Trial Court;
8
and on July 31, 1996, it denied the separate motions for reconsideration filed by
Ofelia M. de Leon, Estela M. Jaen, and Teresita M. Valderrama, on the one hand, and by the spouses, Ernest and Evelyn
Sicad, on the other.
9
The Sicad Spouses have appealed to this Court; and here, they contend that the following errors were committed by the
Appellate Tribunal, to wit:
1) ** in ruling that the donation was inter vivos and in not giving due weight to the
revocation of the donation; and
2) ** in not ordering that the case be remanded for further reception of evidence.
10
The Comment filed for private respondents (the donees) under date of December 19, 1996 deals with what they consider the
"principal issue in this case ** (i.e.) whether the donation is mortis causa or inter vivos," and sets forth the argument that the
"donor clearly intended to effect the immediate transfer of ownership to the donees." that the prohibition in the deed of
donation "against selling the property within ten (10) years after the death of the donor does not indicate that the donation is
mortis causa," that the donor's "alleged act of physically keeping the title does not suggest any intention to defer the
effectivity of the donation," that the "payment of real property taxes is consistent with the donor's' reservation of the right of
usufruct," that the donor's intent "is not determined by ** (her) self-serving post-execution declarations," the "donation was
never effectively revoked," and petitioners "have waived their right to question the proceedings in the trial court."
11
The Reply of the Sicad Spouses dated March 14, 1997 reiterates their thesis that the donation was mortis causa, that "the
provisions of the deed of donation indicate that it was intended to take effect upon the death of the donor," that "the
circumstances surrounding the execution of the deed, and the subsequent actions of the donor incontrovertibly signify the
donor's intent to transfer the property only after her death," that the donor "did not intend to give effect to the donation," and
that the procedure adopted by the Trial Court in the case was fatally defective.
12
A "Rejoinder" dated April 3, 1997 was
then submitted by the Valderramas, traversing the assertions of the Reply.
13
Considering the focus of the opposing parties, and their conflicting theories, on the intention of Aurora Montinola in
executing the document entitled "Deed of Donation Inter Vivos," it is needful to review the circumstances of the signing of
that document by Montinola, as ostensible donor, and her grandchildren, as ostensible donees.
The evidence establishes that on December 11, 1979, when the deed of donation prepared by Montinola's lawyer
(Atty. Treas) was read and explained by the latter to the parties, Montinola expressed her wish that the donation
take effect only after ten (10) years from her death, and that the deed include a prohibition on the sale of the
property for such period. Accordingly, a new proviso was inserted in the deed reading: "however, the donees shall
not sell or encumber the properties herein donated within 10 years after the death of the donor."
14
The actuality of
the subsequent insertion of this new proviso is apparent on the face of the instrument: the intercalation is easily perceived
and identified it was clearly typed on a different machine, and is crammed into the space between the penultimate
paragraph of the deed and that immediately preceding it.
15
Not only did Aurora Montinola order the insertion in the deed of that restrictive proviso, but also, after recordation of the deed
of donation, she never stopped treating the property as her own. She continued, as explicity authorized in the deed itself, to
possess the property, enjoy its fruits and otherwise exercise the rights of dominion, paying the property taxes as they fell
due all these she did until she transferred the Property to the Sicad Spouses on July 10, 1990. She did not give the new
certificate of title to the ostensible donees but retained it, too, until she delivered it to the Sicads on the occasion of the sale
of the property to them. In any event, the delivery of the title to the donees would have served no useful purpose since, as
just stated, they were prohibited to effect any sale or encumbrance thereof for a period of ten (10) years after the ostensible
donor's decease. And consistent with these acts denoting retention of ownership of the property was Montinola's openly
expressed view that the donation was ineffectual and could not be given effect even after ten (10) years from her death. For
this view she sought to obtain judicial approval. She brought suit on August 24, 1990 to cancel TCT No. T-16622 (issued to
her grandchildren) premised precisely on the invalidity of the donation for failure to comply with the requisites of
testamentary dispositions. Before that, she attempted to undo the conveyance to her grandchildren by executing a deed of
revocation of the donation on March 12, 1987, and causing annotation thereof as an adverse claim on said TCT No. T-
16622. She also exercised indisputable acts of ownership over said property by executing, as just stated, deeds intended to
pass title over it to third parties petitioners herein.
16
As already intimated, the real nature of a deed is to be ascertained by both its language and the intention of the parties as
demonstrated by the circumstances attendant upon its execution. In this respect, case law has laid down significant
parameters. Thus, in a decision handed down in 1946,
17
this Court construed a deed purporting to be a donation inter vivos
to be in truth one mortis causa because it stipulated (like the one now being inquired into) "that all rents, proceeds, fruits, of
the donated properties shall remain for the exclusive benefit and disposal of the donor, Margarita David, during her lifetime;
and that, without the knowledge and consent of the donor, the donated properties could not be disposed of in any way,
whether by sale, mortgage, barter, or in any other way possible," On these essential premises, the Court said, such a
donation must be deemed one "mortis causa, because the combined effect of the circumstances surrounding the execution
of the deed of donation and of the above-quoted clauses thereof ** (was that) the most essential elements of ownership
the right to dispose of the donated properties and the right to enjoy the products, profits, possession remained with
Margarita David during her lifetime, and would accrue to the donees only after Margarita David's death." So, too, in the case
at bar, did these rights remain with Aurora Montinola during her lifetime, and could not pass to the donees until ten (10)
years after her death.
In another case decided in 1954 involving a similar issue, Bonsato v. Court of Appeals,
18
this Court emphasized
that the decisive characteristics of a donation mortis causa, which it had taken into account in David v. Sison, were that
"the donor not only reserved for herself all the fruits of the property allegedly conveyed, but what is even more important,
specially provided that "without the knowledge and consent of the donor, the donated properties could not be disposed of in
any way,; thereby denying to the transferees the most essential attribute of ownership, the power to dispose of the
properties."
A donation which purports to be one inter vivos but withholds from the donee the right to dispose of the donated
property during the donor's lifetime is in truth one mortis causa. In a donation mortis causa "the right of disposition
is not transferred to the donee while the donor is still alive."
19
In the instant case, nothing of any consequence was transferred by the deed of donation in question to Montinola's
grandchildren, the ostensible donees. They did not get possession of the property donated. They did not acquire the right to
the fruits thereof, or any other right of dominion over the property. More importantly, they did not acquire the right to dispose
of the property this would accrue to them only after ten (10) years from Montinola's death. Indeed, they never even laid
hands on the certificate of title to the same. They were therefore simply "paper owners" of the donated property. All these
circumstances, including, to repeat, the explicit provisions of the deed of donation reserving the exercise of rights of
ownership to the donee and prohibiting the sale or encumbrance of the property until ten (10) years after her death
ineluctably lead to the conclusion that the donation in question was a donation mortis causa, contemplating a transfer of
ownership to the donees only after the donor's demise.
The case of Alejandro v. Geraldez
20
cited by the Court of Appeals in support of its challenged judgment is not quite
relevant. For in the deed of donation there in issue, there was a partial relinquishment of the right to dispose of the property,
in the event only that this became necessary "to defray the expenses and support of the donors." That limited right to
dispose of the donated lots, said this Court, "implies that ownership had passed to ** (the donees) by means of the donation
and **, therefore, the donation was already effective during the donors' lifetime. That is a characteristic of a donation inter
vivos." On the other hand, in the case at bar, the donees were expressly prohibited to make any disposition of any nature or
for any purpose whatever during the donor's lifetime, and until ten (10) years after her death a prohibition which, it may be
added, makes inapplicable the ruling in Castro v. Court of Appeals,
21
where no such prohibition was imposed, and the
donor retained only the usufruct over the property.
The Valderramas' argument that the donation is inter vivos in character and that the prohibition against their
disposition of the donated property is merely a condition which, if violated, would give cause for its revocation,
begs the question. It assumes that they have the right to make a disposition of the property, which they do not.
The argument also makes no sense, because if they had the right to dispose of the property and did in fact
dispose of it to a third person, the revocation of the donation they speak of would be of no utility or benefit to the
donor, since such a revocation would not necessarily result in the restoration of the donor's ownership and
enjoyment of the property.
It is also error to suppose that the donation under review should be deemed one inter vivos simply because
founded on considerations of love and affection. In Alejandro v. Geraldez, supra,
22
this Court also observed that
"the fact that the donation is given in consideration of love and affection ** is not a characteristic of donations inter vivos
(solely) because transfers mortis causa may also be made for the same reason." Similarly, in Bonsato v. Court of Appeals,
supra, this Court opined that the fact "that the conveyance was due to the affection of the donor for the donees and the
services rendered by the latter, is of no particular significance in determining whether the deeds, Exhs. "1" and "2,"
constitute transfers inter vivos or not, because a legacy may have identical motivation."
23
Finally, it is germane to advert to the legal principle in Article 1378 of the Civil Code to the effect that in case of doubt
relative to a gratuitous contract, the construction must be that entailing "the least transmission of rights and
interests,"
24
The donation in question, though denominated inter vivos, is in truth one mortis causa; it is void because the essential
requisites for its validity have not been complied with.
WHEREFORE, the Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 33202 dated June 30, 1995 as well as the
Resolution denying reconsideration thereof, and the Decision of the Regional Trial Court in Special Case No.
3311 are SET ASIDE. The Deed of Donation Inter Vivos (Exh. "A") executed by Aurora Virto Vda. de Montinola on
December 11, 1979 in favor of Catalino M. Valderrama, Judy Cristina M. Valderrama and Jesus Antonio M.
Valderrama is declared null and void. The Register of Deeds of Roxas City is directed to cancel Transfer
Certificate of Title No. T-16622, revive and reinstate Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-16105.
SO ORDERED.
Romero, Kapunan and Purisima, JJ., concur.
Footnotes
1 Marked Exh. A (and Exh. 2) in the proceedings before the Trial Court.
2 Marked Exh. B (and Exh. 3) in the proceedings before the Trial Court.
3 The revocation was based "** on the ground of ingratitude committed by said donees against my
person consisting of utterances of defamatory words ** also, the said donees are engaged in criminal
scheme to eliminate me so that they can immediately obtain title to and dispose of the property
donated which they cannot do while I am still alive . . ." Montinola reiterated that act of revocation in
her holographic will dated November 21, 1988, viz.: "Teresita and her children (the Valderramas) are
not good to me and they are in a hurry for me to die and they want to kill me and I personally heard it
in the extension of the telephone ** I am revoking all my donations to the children and grandchildren
of Teresita."
4 Rollo, pp. 75-82.
5 SEE Annex P of petition for review (Rollo, p. 174).
6 Rollo, pp. 133-134.
7 On July 5, 1993, Estela M. Jaen and Teresita M. Valderama, filed a motion for their substitution as
plaintiffs-appellants in place of their deceased mother Aurora de Montinola, which the Court of
Appeals granted.
8 Per Lantin, J., concurred in by Austria-Martinez and Salas, JJ.: Rollo, pp. 39-54.
9 Rollo, p. 56.
10 Id., p. 25.
11 Id., pp. 183-196.
12 Id., pp. 204-212.
13 Id., pp. 218-221.
14 SEE testimony of Gloria Salvilla, Montinola's private secretary TSN, 21 December 1990, pp. 4,
12-13.
15 SEE original record, Sp. Case No. 3311 of Trial Court: p. 9, being the second page of Exh. A (also
marked, Exh. 2).
16 Deed of definite sale dated May 25, 1992 executed by Montinola in favor of the spouses, Ernesto
and Evelyn Sicad, later confirmed by an affidavit dated November 26, 1992; SEE page 3, supra.
17 David v. Sison, 76 Phil. (1946) 418, 423.
18 95 Phil. (1954) 481, 489.
19 SEE Paras, Edgardo L., Civil Code of the Philippines, 1994 ed., vol. II, pp. 778-779.
20 78 SCRA 245, 259-261.
21 27 SCRA 1084.
22 SEE footnote 20.
23 Bonsato v. Court of Appeals, supra, at p. 499.
24 Said Art. 1378 pertinently provides that "[w]hen it is absolutely impossible to settle doubts by the
rules established in the preceding articles, and the doubts refer to incidental circumstances of a
gratuitous contract, the least transmission of rights and interests shall prevail."
The Lawphil Project - Arellano Law Foundation
Today is Monday, July 14, 2014
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
THIRD DIVISION

G.R. No. 110427 February 24, 1997
The Incompetent, CARMEN CAIZA, represented by her legal guardian, AMPARO EVANGELISTA,
petitioner,
vs.
COURT OF APPEALS (SPECIAL FIRST DIVISION), PEDRO ESTRADA and his wife, LEONORA ESTRADA,
respondents.


NARVASA, C.J.:
On November 20, 1989, being then ninety-four (94) years of age, Carmen Caiza, a spinster, a retired
pharmacist, and former professor of the College of Chemistry and Pharmacy of the University of the Philippines,
was declared incompetent by judgment
1
of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 107,
2
in a guardianship
proceeding instituted by her niece, Amparo A. Evangelista.
3
She was so adjudged because of her advanced age and
physical infirmities which included cataracts in both eyes and senile dementia. Amparo A. Evangelista was appointed legal
guardian of her person and estate.
Caiza was the owner of a house and lot at No. 61 Tobias St., Quezon City. On September 17, 1990, her
guardian Amparo Evangelista commenced a suit in the Metropolitan Trial Court (MetroTC) of Quezon City
(Branch 35) to eject the spouses Pedro and Leonora Estrada from said premises.
4
The complaint was later
amended to identify the incompetent Caiza as plaintiff, suing through her legal guardian, Amparo Evangelista.
The amended Complaint
5
pertinently alleged that plaintiff Caiza was the absolute owner of the property in question,
covered by TCT No. 27147; that out of kindness, she had allowed the Estrada Spouses, their children, grandchildren and
sons-in-law to temporarily reside in her house, rent-free; that Caiza already had urgent need of the house on account of her
advanced age and failing health, "so funds could be raised to meet her expenses for support, maintenance and medical
treatment;" that through her guardian, Caiza had asked the Estradas verbally and in writing to vacate the house but they
had refused to do so; and that "by the defendants' act of unlawfully depriving plaintiff of the possession of the house in
question, they . . (were) enriching themselves at the expense of the incompetent, because, while they . . (were) saving
money by not paying any rent for the house, the incompetent . . (was) losing much money as her house could not be rented
by others." Also alleged was that the complaint was "filed within one (1) year from the date of of first letter of demand dated
February 3, 1990."
In their Answer with Counterclaim, the defendants declared that they had been living in Caiza's house since the
1960's; that in consideration of their faithful service they had been considered by Caiza as her own family, and
the latter had in fact executed a holographic will on September 4, 1988 by which she "bequeathed" to the
Estradas the house and lot in question.
Judgment was rendered by the MetroTC on April 13, 1992 in Caiza's favor,
6
the Estradas being ordered to vacate
the premises and pay Caiza P5,000.00 by way of attorney's fees.
But on appeal,
8
the decision was reversed by the Quezon City Regional Trial Court, Branch 96.
9
By judgment rendered
on October 21, 1992,
10
the RTC held that the "action by which the issue of defendants' possession should be resolved is
accion publiciana, the obtaining factual and legal situation . . demanding adjudication by such plenary action for recovery of
possession cognizable in the first instance by the Regional Trial Court."
Caiza sought to have the Court of Appeals reverse the decision of October 21, 1992, but failed in that attempt. In
a decision
11
promulgated on June 2, 1993, the Appellate Court
12
affirmed the RTC's judgment in toto. It ruled that (a) the
proper remedy for Caiza was indeed an accion publiciana in the RTC, not an accion interdictal in the MetroTC, since the
"defendants have not been in the subject premises as mere tenants or occupants by tolerance, they have been there as a
sort of adopted family of Carmen Caiza," as evidenced by what purports to be the holographic will of the plaintiff; and (b)
while "said will, unless and until it has passed probate by the proper court, could not be the basis of defendants' claim to the
property, . . it is indicative of intent and desire on the part of Carmen Caiza that defendants are to remain and are to
continue in their occupancy and possession, so much so that Caiza's supervening incompetency can not be said to have
vested in her guardian the right or authority to drive the defendants out."
13
Through her guardian, Caiza came to this Court praying for reversal of the Appellate Court's judgment. She
contends in the main that the latter erred in (a) holding that she should have pursued an accion publiciana, and
not an accion interdictal; and in (b) giving much weight to "a xerox copy of an alleged holographic will, which is
irrelevant to this case."
14
In the responsive pleading filed by them on this Court's requirement,
15
the Estradas insist that the case against
them was really not one of unlawful detainer; they argue that since possession of the house had not been obtained by them
by any "contract, express or implied," as contemplated by Section 1, Rule 70 of the Rules of Court, their occupancy of the
premises could not be deemed one "terminable upon mere demand (and hence never became unlawful) within the context of
the law." Neither could the suit against them be deemed one of forcible entry, they add, because they had been occupying
the property with the prior consent of the "real owner," Carmen Caiza, which "occupancy can even ripen into full ownership
once the holographic will of petitioner Carmen Caiza is admitted to probate." They conclude, on those postulates, that it is
beyond the power of Caiza's legal guardian to oust them from the disputed premises.
Carmen Caiza died on March 19, 1994,
16
and her heirs the aforementioned guardian, Amparo Evangelista, and
Ramon C. Nevado, her niece and nephew, respectively were by this Court's leave, substituted for her.
17
Three issues have to be resolved: (a) whether or not an ejectment action is the appropriate judicial remedy for
recovery of possession of the property in dispute; (b) assuming desahucio to be proper, whether or not
Evangelista, as Caiza's legal guardian had authority to bring said action; and (c) assuming an affirmative answer
to both questions, whether or not Evangelista may continue to represent Caiza after the latter's death.
I
It is axiomatic that what determines the nature of an action as well as which court has jurisdiction over it, are the
allegations of the complaint and the character of the relief sought.
18
An inquiry into the averments of the amended
complaint in the Court of origin is thus in order.
19
The amended Complaint alleges:
20
6. That the plaintiff Carmen Caiza, is the sole and absolute owner of a house and lot at No. 61
Scout Tobias, Quezon City, which property is now the subject of this complaint;
xxx xxx xxx
9. That the defendants, their children, grandchildren and sons-in-law, were allowed to live temporarily
in the house of plaintiff Carmen Caiza, for free, out of her kindness;
10. That the plaintiff, through her legal guardian, has duly notified the defendants, for them to vacate
the said house, but the two (2) letters of demand were ignored and the defendants refused to vacate
the same. . .
11. That the plaintiff, represented by her legal guardian, Amparo Evangelista, made another demand
on the defendants for them to vacate the premises, before Barangay Captain Angelina A. Diaz of
Barangay Laging Handa, Quezon City, but after two (2) conferences, the result was negative and no
settlement was reached. A photocopy of the Certification to File Action dated July 4, 1990, issued by
said Barangay Captain is attached, marked Annex "D" and made an integral part hereof;
12. That the plaintiff has given the defendants more than thirty (30) days to vacate the house, but
they still refused to vacate the premises, and they are up to this time residing in the said place;
13. That this complaint is filed within one (1) year from the date of first letter of demand dated
February 3, 1990 (Annex "B") sent by the plaintiff to the defendants, by her legal guardian Amparo
Evangelista;
14. By the defendants' act of unlawfully depriving the plaintiff of the possession of the house in
question, they are enriching themselves at the expense of the incompetent plaintiff because, while
they are saving money by not paying any rent for the house, the plaintiff is losing much money as her
house could not be rented by others;
15. That the plaintiff's health is failing and she needs the house urgently, so that funds could be
raised to meet her expenses for her support, maintenance and medical treatment;
16. That because of defendants' refusal to vacate the house at No. 61 Scout Tobias, Quezon City,
the plaintiff, through her legal guardian, was compelled to go to court for justice, and she has to
spend P10,000.00 as attorney's fees.
Its prayer
21
is quoted below:
WHEREFORE, in the interest of justice and the rule of law, plaintiff, Carmen Caiza, represented by
her legal guardian, Amparo Evangelista, respectfully prays to this Honorable Court, to render
judgment in favor of plaintiff and against the defendants as follows:
1. To order the defendants, their children, grandchildren, sons-in-law and other persons claiming
under them, to vacate the house and premises at No. 6 1 Scout Tobias, Quezon City, so that its
possession can be restored to the plaintiff Carmen Caiza; and
2. To pay attorney's fees in the amount of P10,000.00;
3. To pay the costs of the suit.
In essence, the amended complaint states:
1) that the Estradas were occupying Caiza's house by tolerance having been "allowed to live
temporarily . . (therein) for free, out of . . (Caiza's) kindness;"
2) that Caiza needed the house "urgently" because her "health . . (was) failing and she . . (needed)
funds . . to meet her expenses for her support, maintenance and medical treatment;"
3) that through her general guardian, Caiza requested the Estradas several times, orally and in
writing, to give back possession of the house;
4) that the Estradas refused and continue to refuse to give back the house to Caiza, to her
continuing prejudice; and
5) that the action was filed within one (1) year from the last demand to vacate.
Undoubtedly, a cause of action for desahucio has been adequately set out. It is settled that in an action for
unlawful detainer, it suffices to allege that the defendant is unlawfully withholding possession from the plaintiff is
deemed sufficient,
22
and a complaint for unlawful detainer is sufficient if it alleges that the withholding of possession or
the refusal to vacate is unlawful without necessarily employing the terminology of the law.
23
The Estradas' first proffered defense derives from a literal construction of Section 1, Rule 70 of the Rules of Court
which inter alia authorizes the institution of an unlawful detainer suit when "the possession of any land or building
is unlawfully withheld after the expiration or termination of the right to hold possession, by virtue of any contract,
express or implied." They contend that since they did not acquire possession of the property in question "by virtue
of any contract, express or implied" they having been, to repeat, "allowed to live temporarily . . (therein) for
free, out of . . (Caiza's) kindness" in no sense could there be an "expiration or termination of . . (their) right to
hold possession, by virtue of any contract, express or implied." Nor would an action for forcible entry lie against
them, since there is no claim that they had "deprived (Caiza) of the possession of . . (her property) by force,
intimidation, threat, strategy, or stealth.
The argument is arrant sophistry. Caiza's act of allowing the Estradas to occupy her house, rent-free, did not
create a permanent and indefeasible right of possession in the latter's favor. Common sense, and the most
rudimentary sense of fairness clearly require that that act of liberality be implicitly, but no less certainly,
accompanied by the necessary burden on the Estradas of returning the house to Caiza upon her demand. More
than once has this Court adjudged that a person who occupies the land of another at the latter's tolerance or
permission without any contract between them is necessarily bound by an implied promise that he will vacate
upon demand, failing which a summary action for ejectment is the proper remedy against him.
24
The situation is
not much different from that of a tenant whose lease expires but who continues in occupancy by tolerance of the owner, in
which case there is deemed to be an unlawful deprivation or withholding of possession as of the date of the demand to
vacate.
25
In other words, one whose stay is merely tolerated becomes a deforciant illegally occupying the land or property
the moment he is required to leave.
26
Thus, in Asset Privatization Trust vs. Court of Appeals,
27
where a company, having
lawfully obtained possession of a plant upon its undertaking to buy the same, refused to return it after failing to fulfill its
promise of payment despite demands, this Court held that "(a)fter demand and its repudiation, . . (its) continuing possession
. . became illegal and the complaint for unlawful detainer filed by the
. . (plant's owner) was its proper remedy.
It may not be amiss to point out in this connection that where there had been more than one demand to vacate,
the one-year period for filing the complaint for unlawful detainer must be reckoned from the date of the last
demand,
28
the reason being that the lessor has the option to waive his right of action based on previous demands and let
the lessee remain meanwhile in the premises.
29
Now, the complaint filed by Caiza's guardian alleges that the same was
"filed within one (1) year from the date of the first letter of demand dated February 3, 1990." Although this averment is not in
accord with law because there is in fact a second letter of demand to vacate, dated February 27, 1990, the mistake is
inconsequential, since the complaint was actually filed on September 17, 1990, well within one year from the second (last)
written demand to vacate.
The Estradas' possession of the house stemmed from the owner's express permission. That permission was
subsequently withdrawn by the owner, as was her right; and it is immaterial that the withdrawal was made through
her judicial guardian, the latter being indisputably clothed with authority to do so. Nor is it of any consequence that
Carmen Caiza had executed a will bequeathing the disputed property to the Estradas; that circumstance did not
give them the right to stay in the premises after demand to vacate on the theory that they might in future become
owners thereof, that right of ownership being at best inchoate, no transfer of ownership being possible unless and
until the will is duly probated.
Thus, at the time of the institution of the action of desahucio, the Estradas had no legal right to the property,
whether as possessors by tolerance or sufferance, or as owners. They could not claim the right of possession by
sufferance; that had been legally ended. They could not assert any right of possession flowing from their
ownership of the house; their status as owners is dependent on the probate of the holographic will by which the
property had allegedly been bequeathed to them an event which still has to take place; in other words, prior to
the probate of the will, any assertion of possession by them would be premature and inefficacious.
In any case, the only issue that could legitimately be raised under the circumstances was that involving the
Estradas' possession by tolerance, i.e., possession de facto, not de jure. It is therefore incorrect to postulate that
the proper remedy for Caiza is not ejectment but accion publiciana, a plenary action in the RTC or an action that
is one for recovery of the right to possession de jure.
II
The Estradas insist that the devise of the house to them by Caiza clearly denotes her intention that they remain
in possession thereof, and legally incapacitated her judicial guardian, Amparo Evangelista, from evicting them
therefrom, since their ouster would be inconsistent with the ward's will.
A will is essentially ambulatory; at any time prior to the testator's death, it may be changed or revoked;
30
and until
admitted to probate, it has no effect whatever and no right can be claimed thereunder, the law being quite explicit: "No will
shall pass either real or personal property unless it is proved and allowed in accordance with the Rules of Court" (ART. 838,
id.).
31
An owner's intention to confer title in the future to persons possessing property by his tolerance, is not inconsistent
with the former's taking back possession in the meantime for any reason deemed sufficient. And that in this case there was
sufficient cause for the owner's resumption of possession is apparent: she needed to generate income from the house on
account of the physical infirmities afflicting her, arising from her extreme age.
Amparo Evangelista was appointed by a competent court the general guardian of both the person and the estate
of her aunt, Carmen Caiza. Her Letters of Guardianship
32
dated December 19, 1989 clearly installed her as the
"guardian over the person and properties of the incompetent CARMEN CANIZA with full authority to take possession of the
property of said incompetent in any province or provinces in which it may be situated and to perform all other acts
necessary for the management of her properties . . "
33
By that appointment, it became Evangelista's duty to care for her
aunt's person, to attend to her physical and spiritual needs, to assure her well-being, with right to custody of her person in
preference to relatives and friends.
34
It also became her right and duty to get possession of, and exercise control over,
Caiza's property, both real and personal, it being recognized principle that the ward has no right to possession or control of
his property during her incompetency.
35
That right to manage the ward's estate carries with it the right to take possession
thereof and recover it from anyone who retains it,
36
and bring and defend such actions as may be needful for this purpose.
37
Actually, in bringing the action of desahucio, Evangelista was merely discharging the duty to attend to "the
comfortable and suitable maintenance of the ward" explicitly imposed on her by Section 4, Rule 96 of the Rules of
Court, viz.:
Sec. 4. Estate to be managed frugally, and proceeds applied to maintenance of ward. A guardian
must manage the estate of his ward frugally and without waste, and apply the income and profits
thereof, so far as maybe necessary, to the comfortable and suitable maintenance of the ward and his
family, if there be any; and if such income and profits be insufficient for that purpose, the guardian
may sell or encumber the real estate, upon being authorized by order to do so, and apply to such of
the proceeds as may be necessary to such maintenance.
Finally, it may be pointed out in relation to the Estradas's defenses in the ejectment action, that as the law now
stands, even when, in forcible entry and unlawful detainer cases, the defendant raises the question of ownership
in his pleadings and the question of possession cannot be resolved without deciding the issue of ownership, the
Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts, and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts nevertheless have the
undoubted competence to resolve "the issue of ownership . . only to determine the issue of possession."
38
III
As already stated, Carmen Caiza passed away during the pendency of this appeal. The Estradas thereupon
moved to dismiss the petition, arguing that Caiza's death automatically terminated the guardianship, Amaparo
Evangelista lost all authority as her judicial guardian, and ceased to have legal personality to represent her in the
present appeal. The motion is without merit.
While it is indeed well-established rule that the relationship of guardian and ward is necessarily terminated by the
death of either the guardian or the ward,
39
the rule affords no advantage to the Estradas. Amparo Evangelista, as
niece of Carmen Caiza, is one of the latter's only two (2) surviving heirs, the other being Caiza's nephew, Ramon C.
Nevado. On their motion and by Resolution of this Court
40
of June 20, 1994, they were in fact substituted as parties in the
appeal at bar in place of the deceased, in accordance with Section 17, Rule 3 of the Rules of Court, viz.:
41
Sec. 18. Death of a 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 be
substituted for the 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 deceased 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.
To be sure, an ejectment case survives the death of a party. Caiza's demise did not extinguish the desahucio
suit instituted by her through her guardian.
42
That action, not being a purely personal one, survived her death; her heirs
have taken her place and now represent her interests in the appeal at bar.
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The Decision of the Court of Appeals promulgated on June 2, 1993
affirming the Regional Trial Court's judgment and dismissing petitioner's petition for certiorari is REVERSED
and SET ASIDE, and the Decision dated April 13, 1992 of the Metropolitan Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 35,
in Civil Case No. 3410 is REINSTATED and AFFIRMED. Costs against private respondents.
SO ORDERED.
Narvasa, C.J., Davide, Jr., Melo, Francisco and Panganiban, JJ., concur.
Footnotes
1 Petition, Annex "D", Rollo, pp. 41-43
2 Presided over by Judge Delilah Vidallon-Magtolis
3 Docketed as SP. PROC. No. Q-89-2603 of Branch 107, entitled "Petition for Guardianship of the
Person and Estate of the Incompetent Carmen Caniza, Amparo A. Evangelista, Petitioner."
4 Docketed as Civil Case No. 3410 for Ejectment with Damages
5 Petition, Annex "K", Rollo, pp. 55-59
6 Petition, Annex "B," Rollo, pp. 33-35
8 Docketed as Civil Case No. Q-92-12554
9 Presided Over by Judge Lucas P. Bersamin
10 Rollo pp. 36-40
11 Rollo, pp. 27-32
12 Special First Division composed of Vailoces, J., ponente, with Lantin and Mabutas, Jr., JJ.,
concurring
13 CA Decision, p. 4, Rollo, p. 30
14 Petition, p. 11, Rollo p. 18
15 Rollo, pp. 97-112
16 Manifestation dated March 25, 1994
17 Second Division Resolution dated June 20, 1994
18 Sumulong vs. Court of Appeals, 232 SCRA 372 [1994], citing Abrin vs. Campos, 203 SCRA 420
(1991); Mariategui vs. Court of Appeals, 205 SCRA 337 [1992); Abad vs. Court of First Instance, 206
SCRA 567 [1992]; Del Castillo vs. Aguinaldo, 212 SCRA 169 [1992); Santos vs. Court of Appeals,
214 SCRA 162 [1992]; Ganadin vs. Ramos, 99 SCRA 6132 (1980); Ramirez v. Chit, 21 SCRA 1364
[1967]; Mediran vs. Vilanueva, 37 Phil. 752 [1918]
19 Sarmiento vs. Court of Appeals, 150 SCRA 108 [1995]
20 Rollo, pp. 56-57, emphasis in original text
21 Rollo, pp. 57-58
22 Sumulong vs. Court of Appeals, 232 SCRA 372 [1994], citing Maddamu vs. Judge of Municipal
Court of Manila, 74 Phil. 230 [1943]
23 Sumulong vs. Court of Appeals, supra, citing Co Tiamco vs. Diaz, 75 Phil. 672 [1946]; Valderama
Lumber Manufacturer's Co. vs. L.S. Sarmiento Co., 5 SCRA 287 [1962]; Pangilinan vs. Aguilar, 43
SCRA 136 [1972]
24 Yu vs. de Lara, 6 SCRA 785 [1962]; Pangilinan vs. Aguilar, 43 SCRA 136 [1972]; Dakudao vs.
Consolacion, 122 SCRA 877 [1983]; Peran vs. Presiding Judge, Br. II, CFI, Sorsogon, 125 SCRA 78
[1983]; Banco de Oro Savings and Mortgage Bank vs. Court of Appeals, 182 SCRA 464 [1990].
25 Vda. de Catchuela vs. Francisco, 98 SCRA 172 [1980] citing Calubayan vs. Pascual 21 SCRA
146, 148 [1967]
26 Odsigue vs. Court of Appeals, 233 SCRA 626 [1994]
27 229 SCRA 627, 636 [1994]
28 Sarmiento vs. Court of Appeals, 250 SCRA 108 [1995] citing Sarona, et al vs. Villegas, et al, 22
SCRA 1257 [1968]
29 Penas, Jr. vs. Court of Appeals, 233 SCRA 744 [1994] citing Racaza vs. Susana Realty, Inc. 18
SCRA 1172 [1966].
30 ART. 828, Civil Code
31 ART. 838, Civil Code
32 Petition, Annex "E", Rollo, p. 44
33 Emphasis supplied
34 Francisco, The Revised Rules of Court in the Philippines, 1970 Ed., Vol. V-B, p. 457, citing Ex-
parte Fletcher, 142 So. 30; 39 C.J.S. 86
35 Francisco, The Revised Rules of Court in the Philippines, 1970 Ed. Vol. V-B, p. 458, citing 39
C.J.S. 114-115.
36 Castillo V. Bustamante, 64 Phil. 839 [1937], cited in Moran, Comments on the Rules of Court, Vol.
3, 1980 ed., p. 570
37 Conchita Juachon vs. Felix Manalo, G.R. No. L-42, 77 Phil. 1092, [January 20, 1947, unreported],
cited in Moran, Comments on the Rules of court, 1979 Ed., Volume I, p. 176
38 Sec. 3, R.A. No. 7691, amending Sec. 33 of B.P. 129; SEE Wilmon Auto Supply Corp. vs. Court of
Appeals, 208 SCRA 108 [1992].
39 Francisco, The Revised Rules of Court in the Phils., Vol. V-B, 1970 Ed., citing 25 Am. Jur. 37
40 Second Division; SEE footnote 17, supra
41 Emphasis supplied
42 Vda. de Salazar vs. Court of Appeals, et al., 250 SCRA 305 (Nov. 23, 1995) citing Vda. de
Haberes vs. Court of Appeals, 104 SCRA 534 [1981]; Republic vs. Bagtas, 6 SCRA 242 [1962];
Florendo Jr. vs. Coloma, 129 SCRA 304 [1984].
The Lawphil Project - Arellano Law Foundation
Today is Monday, July 14, 2014
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
SECOND DIVISION
G.R. No. 156536 October 31, 2006
JOSEPH CUA, petitioner,
vs.
GLORIA A. VARGAS, AURORA VARGAS, RAMON VARGAS, MARITES VARGAS, EDELINA VARGAS AND
GEMMA VARGAS, respondents.
D E C I S I O N
AZCUNA, J.:
This is a petition for review under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court seeking the reversal of the decision
1
dated March
26, 2002, and the resolution
2
dated December 17, 2002, of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 59869
entitled "Gloria A. Vargas, Aurora Vargas, Ramon Vargas, Marites Vargas, Edelina Vargas and Gemma Vargas v.
Joseph Cua."
The facts are as follows:
A parcel of residential land with an area of 99 square meters located in San Juan, Virac, Catanduanes was left
behind by the late Paulina Vargas. On February 4, 1994, a notarized Extra Judicial Settlement Among Heirs was
executed by and among Paulina Vargas' heirs, namely Ester Vargas, Visitacion Vargas, Juan Vargas, Zenaida V.
Matienzo, Rosario V. Forteza, Andres Vargas, Gloria Vargas, Antonina Vargas and Florentino Vargas, partitioning
and adjudicating unto themselves the lot in question, each one of them getting a share of 11 square meters.
Florentino, Andres, Antonina and Gloria, however, did not sign the document. Only Ester, Visitacion, Juan,
Zenaida and Rosario signed it. The Extra Judicial Settlement Among Heirs was published in the Catanduanes
Tribune for three consecutive weeks.
3
On November 15, 1994, an Extra Judicial Settlement Among Heirs with Sale
4
was again executed by and among
the same heirs over the same property and also with the same sharings. Once more, only Ester, Visitacion, Juan,
Zenaida and Rosario signed the document and their respective shares totaling 55 square meters were sold to
Joseph Cua, petitioner herein.
According to Gloria Vargas, the widow of Santiago Vargas and one of respondents herein, she came to know of
the Extra Judicial Settlement Among Heirs with Sale dated November 16, 1994 only when the original house built
on the lot was being demolished sometime in May 1995.
5
She likewise claimed she was unaware that an earlier
Extra Judicial Settlement Among Heirs dated February 4, 1994 involving the same property had been published in
the Catanduanes Tribune.
6
After knowing of the sale of the 55 square meters to petitioner, Gloria Vargas tried to redeem the property, with
the following letter
7
sent to petitioner on her behalf:
29
th
June 1995
Mr. Joseph Cua
Capilihan, Virac, Catanduanes
Sir:
This is in behalf of my client, Ms. Aurora Vargas,
8
(c/o Atty. Prospero V. Tablizo) one of the lawful heirs of
the late Paulina Vargas, original owner of Lot No. 214 of Virac, Poblacion covered by ARP No. 031-0031 in
her name.
I understand that a document "Extra Judicial Settlement Among Heirs with Sale" was executed by some of
my client's co-heirs and alleged representatives of other co-heirs, by virtue of which document you acquired
by purchase from the signatories to the said document, five (5) shares with a total area of fifty-five square
meters of the above-described land.
This is to serve you notice that my client shall exercise her right of legal redemption of said five (5) shares
as well as other shares which you may likewise have acquired by purchase. And you are hereby given an
option to agree to legal redemption within a period of fifteen (15) days from your receipt hereof.
Should you fail to convey to me your agreement within said 15-day-period, proper legal action shall be
taken by my client to redeem said shares.
Thank you.
Very truly yours,
(Sgd.)
JUAN G. ATENCIA
When the offer to redeem was refused and after having failed to reach an amicable settlement at the barangay
level,
9
Gloria Vargas filed a case for annulment of Extra Judicial Settlement and Legal Redemption of the lot with
the Municipal Trial Court (MTC) of Virac, Catanduanes against petitioner and consigned the amount of P100,000
which is the amount of the purchase with the Clerk of Court on May 20, 1996.
10
Joining her in the action were her
children with Santiago, namely, Aurora, Ramon, Marites, Edelina and Gemma, all surnamed Vargas.
Subsequently, Carlos Gianan, Jr. and Gloria Arcilla, heirs of the alleged primitive owner of the lot in question,
Pedro Lakandula, intervened in the case.
11
Respondents claimed that as co-owners of the property, they may be subrogated to the rights of the purchaser by
reimbursing him the price of the sale. They likewise alleged that the 30-day period following a written notice by the
vendors to their co-owners for them to exercise the right of redemption of the property had not yet set in as no
written notice was sent to them. In effect, they claimed that the Extra Judicial Settlement Among Heirs and the
Extra Judicial Settlement Among Heirs with Sale were null and void and had no legal and binding effect on
them.
12
After trial on the merits, the MTC rendered a decision
13
in favor of petitioner, dismissing the complaint as well as
the complaint-in-intervention for lack of merit, and declaring the Deed of Extra Judicial Settlement Among Heirs
with Sale valid and binding. The MTC upheld the sale to petitioner because the transaction purportedly occurred
after the partition of the property among the co-owner heirs. The MTC opined that the other heirs could validly
dispose of their respective shares. Moreover, the MTC found that although there was a failure to strictly comply
with the requirements under Article 1088 of the Civil Code
14
for a written notice of sale to be served upon
respondents by the vendors prior to the exercise of the former's right of redemption, this deficiency was cured by
respondents' actual knowledge of the sale, which was more than 30 days before the filing of their complaint, and
their consignation of the purchase price with the Clerk of Court, so that the latter action came too late. Finally, the
MTC ruled that respondents failed to establish by competent proof petitioner's bad faith in purchasing the portion
of the property owned by respondents' co-heirs.
15
On appeal, the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 42, of Virac, Catanduanes affirmed the MTC decision in a
judgment dated November 25, 1999. The matter was thereafter raised to the Court of Appeals (CA).
The CA reversed the ruling of both lower courts in the assailed decision dated March 26, 2002, declaring that the
Extra Judicial Settlement Among Heirs and the Extra Judicial Settlement Among Heirs with Sale, dated February
4, 1994 and November 15, 1994, respectively, were void and without any legal effect. The CA held that, pursuant
to Section 1, Rule 74 of the Rules of Court,
16
the extrajudicial settlement made by the other co-heirs is not
binding upon respondents considering the latter never participated in it nor did they ever signify their consent to
the same.
His motion for reconsideration having been denied, petitioner filed the present petition for review.
The issues are:
Whether heirs are deemed constructively notified and bound, regardless of their failure to participate
therein, by an extrajudicial settlement and partition of estate when the extrajudicial settlement and partition
has been duly published; and,
Assuming a published extrajudicial settlement and partition does not bind persons who did not participate
therein, whether the written notice required to be served by an heir to his co-heirs in connection with the
sale of hereditary rights to a stranger before partition under Article 1088 of the Civil Code
17
can be
dispensed with when such co-heirs have actual knowledge of the sale such that the 30-day period within
which a co-heir can exercise the right to be subrogated to the rights of a purchaser shall commence from
the date of actual knowledge of the sale.
Petitioner argues, as follows:
Firstly, the acquisition by petitioner of the subject property subsequent to the extrajudicial partition was valid
because the partition was duly published. The publication of the same constitutes due notice to respondents and
signifies their implied acquiescence thereon. Respondents are therefore estopped from denying the validity of the
partition and sale at this late stage. Considering that the partition was valid, respondents no longer have the right
to redeem the property.
Secondly, petitioner is a possessor and builder in good faith.
Thirdly, the MTC had no jurisdiction over the complaint because its subject matter was incapable of pecuniary
estimation. The complaint should have been filed with the RTC.
Fourthly, there was a non-joinder of indispensable parties, the co-heirs who sold their interest in the subject
property not having been impleaded by respondents.
Fifthly, the appeal to the CA should have been dismissed as it was not properly verified by respondents. Gloria
Vargas failed to indicate that she was authorized to represent the other respondents (petitioners therein) to
initiate the petition. Moreover, the verification was inadequate because it did not state the basis of the alleged
truth and/or correctness of the material allegations in the petition.
The petition lacks merit.
The procedure outlined in Section 1 of Rule 74 is an ex parte proceeding. The rule plainly states, however, that
persons who do not participate or had no notice of an extrajudicial settlement will not be bound thereby.
18
It
contemplates a notice that has been sent out or issued before any deed of settlement and/or partition is agreed
upon (i.e., a notice calling all interested parties to participate in the said deed of extrajudicial settlement and
partition), and not after such an agreement has already been executed
19
as what happened in the instant case
with the publication of the first deed of extrajudicial settlement among heirs.
The publication of the settlement does not constitute constructive notice to the heirs who had no knowledge or did
not take part in it because the same was notice after the fact of execution. The requirement of publication is
geared for the protection of creditors and was never intended to deprive heirs of their lawful participation in the
decedent's estate. In this connection, the records of the present case confirm that respondents never signed
either of the settlement documents, having discovered their existence only shortly before the filing of the present
complaint. Following Rule 74, these extrajudicial settlements do not bind respondents, and the partition made
without their knowledge and consent is invalid insofar as they are concerned.
This is not to say, though, that respondents' co-heirs cannot validly sell their hereditary rights to third persons
even before the partition of the estate. The heirs who actually participated in the execution of the extrajudicial
settlements, which included the sale to petitioner of their pro indiviso shares in the subject property, are bound by
the same. Nevertheless, respondents are given the right to redeem these shares pursuant to Article 1088 of the
Civil Code. The right to redeem was never lost because respondents were never notified in writing of the actual
sale by their co-heirs. Based on the provision, there is a need for written notice to start the period of redemption,
thus:
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 by
the vendor. (Emphasis supplied.)
It bears emphasis that the period of one month shall be reckoned from the time that a co-heir is notified in writing
by the vendor of the actual sale. Written notice is indispensable and mandatory,
20
actual knowledge of the sale
acquired in some other manner by the redemptioner notwithstanding. It cannot be counted from the time advance
notice is given of an impending or contemplated sale. The law gives the co-heir thirty days from the time written
notice of the actual sale within which to make up his or her mind and decide to repurchase or effect the
redemption.
21
Though the Code does not prescribe any particular form of written notice nor any distinctive method for written
notification of redemption, the method of notification remains exclusive, there being no alternative provided by
law.
22
This proceeds from the very purpose of Article 1088, which is to keep strangers to the family out of a joint
ownership, if, as is often the case, the presence of outsiders be undesirable and the other heir or heirs be willing
and in a position to repurchase the share sold.
23
It should be kept in mind that the obligation to serve written notice devolves upon the vendor co-heirs because the
latter are in the best position to know the other co-owners who, under the law, must be notified of the sale.
24
This
will remove all uncertainty as to the fact of the sale, its terms and its perfection and validity, and quiet any doubt
that the alienation is not definitive.
25
As a result, the party notified need not entertain doubt that the seller may still
contest the alienation.
26
Considering, therefore, that respondents' co-heirs failed to comply with this requirement, there is no legal
impediment to allowing respondents to redeem the shares sold to petitioner given the former's obvious willingness
and capacity to do so.
Likewise untenable is petitioner's contention that he is a builder in good faith. Good faith consists in the belief of
the builder that the land the latter is building on is one's own without knowledge of any defect or flaw in one's
title.
27
Petitioner derived his title from the Extra Judicial Settlement Among Heirs With Sale dated November 15,
1994. He was very much aware that not all of the heirs participated therein as it was evident on the face of the
document itself. Because the property had not yet been partitioned in accordance with the Rules of Court, no
particular portion of the property could have been identified as yet and delineated as the object of the sale. This is
because the alienation made by respondents' co-heirs was limited to the portion which may be allotted to them in
the division upon the termination of the co-ownership. Despite this glaring fact, and over the protests of
respondents, petitioner still constructed improvements on the property. For this reason, his claim of good faith
lacks credence.
As to the issue of lack of jurisdiction, petitioner is estopped from raising the same for the first time on appeal.
Petitioner actively participated in the proceedings below and sought affirmative ruling from the lower courts to
uphold the validity of the sale to him of a portion of the subject property embodied in the extrajudicial settlement
among heirs. Having failed to seasonably raise this defense, he cannot, under the peculiar circumstances of this
case, be permitted to challenge the jurisdiction of the lower court at this late stage. While it is a rule that a
jurisdictional question may be raised at any time, an exception arises where estoppel has already supervened.
Estoppel sets in when a party participates in all stages of a case before challenging the jurisdiction of the lower
court. One cannot belatedly reject or repudiate its decision after voluntarily submitting to its jurisdiction, just to
secure affirmative relief against one's opponent or after failing to obtain such relief. The Court has, time and
again, frowned upon the undesirable practice of a party submitting a case for decision and then accepting the
judgment, only if favorable, and attacking it for lack of jurisdiction when adverse.
28
Petitioner's fourth argument, that there is a non-joinder of indispensable parties, similarly lacks merit. An
indispensable party is a party-in-interest without whom there can be no final determination of an action and who is
required to be joined as either plaintiff or defendant.
29
The party's interest in the subject matter of the suit and in
the relief sought is so inextricably intertwined with the other parties that the former's legal presence as a party to
the proceeding is an absolute necessity. Hence, an indispensable party is one whose interest will be directly
affected by the court's action in the litigation. In the absence of such indispensable party, there cannot be a
resolution of the controversy before the court which is effective, complete, or equitable.
30
In relation to this, it must be kept in mind that the complaint filed by respondents ultimately prayed that they be
allowed to redeem the shares in the property sold by their co-heirs. Significantly, the right of the other heirs to sell
their undivided share in the property to petitioner is not in dispute. Respondents concede that the other heirs
acted within their hereditary rights in doing so to the effect that the latter completely and effectively relinquished
their interests in the property in favor of petitioner. Petitioner thus stepped into the shoes of the other heirs to
become a co-owner of the property with respondents. As a result, only petitioner's presence is absolutely required
for a complete and final determination of the controversy because what respondents seek is to be subrogated to
his rights as a purchaser.
Finally, petitioner contends that the petition filed by respondents with the CA should have been dismissed
because the verification and certificate of non-forum shopping appended to it were defective, citing specifically the
failure of respondent Gloria Vargas to: (1) indicate that she was authorized to represent her co-respondents in the
petition, and (2) state the basis of the alleged truth of the allegations.
The general rule is that the certificate of non-forum shopping must be signed by all the plaintiffs or petitioners in a
case and the signature of only one of them is insufficient.
31
Nevertheless, the rules on forum shopping, which
were designed to promote and facilitate the orderly administration of justice, should not be interpreted with such
absolute literalness as to subvert their own ultimate and legitimate objective. Strict compliance with the provisions
regarding the certificate of non-forum shopping merely underscores its mandatory nature in that the certification
cannot be altogether dispensed with or its requirements completely disregarded.
32
Under justifiable
circumstances, the Court has relaxed the rule requiring the submission of such certification considering that
although it is obligatory, it is not jurisdictional.
33
Thus, when all the petitioners share a common interest and invoke a common cause of action or defense, the
signature of only one of them in the certification against forum shopping substantially complies with the rules.
34
The co-respondents of respondent Gloria Vargas in this case were her children. In order not to defeat the ends of
justice, the Court deems it sufficient that she signed the petition on their behalf and as their representative.
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED for lack of merit. Costs against petitioner.
SO ORDERED.
Puno, J., Chairperson, Sandoval-Gutierrez, Corona, and Garcia, JJ., concur.
Footnotes
1
CA Rollo, pp. 193-209.
2
Id. at 331.
3
Records (MTC), p. 5.
4
Id. at 170-172.
5
Transcript of Stenographic Notes (TSN) dated January 16, 1997, pp. 9-10; TSN dated January 17, 1997,
pp. 2-4.
6
TSN dated January 17, 1997, p. 4.
7
Records (MTC), p. 166.
8
Aurora Vargas is the daughter of Gloria Vargas.
9
After the conciliation proceedings between the parties failed, a Certification to File Action was issued by
the Lupon Chairman of Barangay San Juan, Virac, Catanduanes on November 14, 1995.
10
Records (MTC), p.176.
11
Id. at 34-57.
12
Records (RTC), pp. 86-87.
13
Records (MTC), pp. 380-396.
14
CIVIL CODE, Article 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 by the vendor.
15
Records (MTC), pp. 391-395.
16
RULES OF COURT, Section 1. Extra judicial settlement by agreement between heirs:
If the decedent left no will and no debts and the heirs are all of age, or the minors are represented by their
judicial or legal representatives duly authorized for the purpose, the parties may, without securing letters of
administration, divide the estate among themselves as they see fit by means of a public instrument filed in
the office of the register of deeds, and should they disagree, they may do so in an ordinary action of
partition. x x x The parties to an extrajudicial settlement, whether by public instrument or by stipulation in a
pending action for partition, or the sole heir who adjudicates the entire estate to himself by means of an
affidavit shall file, simultaneously with and as a condition precedent to the filing of the public instrument, or
stipulation in the action for partition, or of the affidavit in the office of the register of deeds, a bond with the
said register of deeds, in an amount equivalent to the value of the personal property involved as certified to
under oath by the parties concerned and conditioned upon the payment of any just claim that may be filed
under section 4 of this rule. x x x The fact of the extrajudicial settlement or administration shall be published
in a newspaper of general circulation in the manner provided in the next succeeding section; but no
extrajudicial settlement shall be binding upon any person who has not participated therein or had no notice
thereof.
17
Supra note 14.
18
RULES OF COURT, Rule 74, Section 1-
x x x
The fact of the extrajudicial settlement or administration shall be published in a newspaper of general
circulation in the manner provided in the next succeeding section; but no extrajudicial settlement shall be
binding upon any person who has not participated therein or had no notice thereof .
19
Pedrosa v. CA, G.R. No. 118680, March 5, 2001, 353 SCRA 620, 628.
20
Verdad v. CA, G.R. No. 109972, April 29, 1996, 256 SCRA 593.
21
Tolentino, Arturo M., "Commentaries and Jurisprudence on the Civil Code," Vol. III, pp. 606-607 (2001).
22
Garcia v. Calaliman, G.R. No. 26855, April 17, 1989, 172 SCRA 201.
23
Hermoso v. CA, G.R. No. 108580, December 29, 1998, 300 SCRA 516, quoting De Jesus v. Manglapus,
41 Phil. 188 (1948).
24
De Ape v. CA, G.R. No. 133638, April 15, 2005, 456 SCRA 193.
25
Verdad v. CA, supra note 20, quoting Cabrera v. Villanueva, G.R. No. L-75069, April 15, 1988, 160
SCRA 672.
26
De Ape v. CA, supra note 24.
27
Ongsitco v. CA, G.R. No. 121527, March 29, 1996, 255 SCRA 703, quoting Pleasantville Development
Corporation v. CA, G.R. No. 79688, February 1, 1996, 253 SCRA 10, and Floreza v. Evangelista, G.R. No.
L-25462, February 21, 1980, 96 SCRA 130.
28
David v. Cordova, G.R. No. 152992. July 28, 2005, 464 SCRA 384.
29
RULES OF COURT, Rule 3, Section 7-
Parties in interest without whom no final determination can be had of an action shall be joined either as
plaintiffs or defendants.
30
PNB v. Milita, G.R. Nos. 164801 and 165165, August 18, 2005, 467 SCRA 377.
31
Gonzales v. Balikatan Kilusang Bayan sa Pananalapi, Inc., G.R. No. 150859, March 28, 2005, 454 SCRA
111; Andres v. Cuevas, G.R. No. 150869, June 9, 2005, 460 SCRA 38.
32
San Miguel v. Aballa, G.R. No. 149011, June 28, 2005, 461 SCRA 392.
33
Olarte v. Office of the President, G.R. No. 165821, June 21, 2005, 460 SCRA 561.
34
HLC Construction and Development Corporation v. Emily Homes Subdivision Homeowners Association,
G.R. No. 139360, September 23, 2003, 411 SCRA 504.
The Lawphil Project - Arellano Law Foundation
Today is Monday, July 14, 2014
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
G.R. No. L-23002 July 31, 1967
CONCEPCION FELIX VDA. DE RODRIGUEZ, plaintiff-appellant,
vs.
GERONIMO RODRIGUEZ., ET AL., defendants-appellees.
Ozaeta, Gibbs and Ozaeta for plaintiff-appellant.
Sycip, Salazar, Luna and Associates and Carolina C. Grio-Aquino for defendants-appellees.
REYES, J.B.L., J.:
This is an appeal by Concepcion Felix Vda. de Rodriguez from the decision of the Court of First Instance of
Bulacan in Civil Case No. 2565, which she commenced on May 28, 1962, to secure declaration, of nullity of two
contracts executed on January 24, 1934 and for recovery of certain properties.
The facts of this case may be briefly stated as follows:
Concepcion Felix, widow of the late Don Felipe Calderon and with whom she had one living child, Concepcion
Calderon, contracted a second marriage on June 20, 1929, with Domingo Rodriguez, widower with four children
by a previous marriage, named Geronimo, Esmeragdo, Jose and Mauricio, all surnamed Rodriguez. There was
no issue in this second marriage.
Prior to her marriage to Rodriguez, Concepcion Felix was the registered owner of 2 fishponds located in the
barrio of Babagad, municipality of Bulacan, Bulacan province. with a total area of 557,711 square meters
covered by OCT Nos. 605 and 807. Under date of January 24, 1934, Concepcion Felix appeared to have
executed a deed of sale conveying ownership of the aforesaid properties to her daughter, Concepcion Calderon,
for the sum of P2,500.00, which the latter in turn appeared to have transferred to her mother and stepfather by
means of a document dated January 27, 1934. Both deeds, notarized by Notary Public Jose D. Mendoza, were
registered in the office of the Register of Deeds of Bulacan on January 29, 1934, as a consequence of which, the
original titles were cancelled and TCT Nos. 13815 and 13816 were issued in the names of the spouses Domingo
Rodriguez and Concepcion Felix.
On March 6, 1953, Domingo Rodriguez died intestate, survived by the widow, Concepcion Felix, his children
Geronimo Esmeragdo and Mauricio and grandchildren Oscar, Juan and Ana, surnamed Rodriguez, children of a
son, Jose, who had predeceased him.
On March 16, 1953, the above-named widow, children and grandchildren of the deceased entered into an extra-
judicial settlement of his (Domingo's) estate, consisting of one-half of the properties allegedly belonging to the
conjugal partnership. Among the properties listed as conjugal were the two parcels of land in Bulacan, Bulacan,
which, together with another piece of property, were divided among the heirs in this manner:
WHEREAS, the parties have furthermore agreed that the fishpond covered by TCT Nos. 13815, 13816 and
24109 of the Office of the Register of Deeds of Bulacan, containing an area of 557,971 sq. m., which is
likewise the conjugal property of the deceased and his surviving spouse; 1/2 of the same or 278,985.5 sq.
m. belongs to said Concepcion Felix Vda. de Rodriguez, as her share in the conjugal property; and 3/4 of
the remaining half or 209,239.125 sq. m. are transferred in full ownership to Geronimo Rodriguez,
Esmeragdo Rodriguez and Mauricio Rodriguez, share and share alike, while the other 1/4 or 69,746.375
sq. m. of the said remaining half goes in equal shares to Oscar Rodriguez, Juan Rodriguez and Ana
Rodriguez.
As a result of this partition, TCT Nos. 13815 and 13816 were cancelled and TCT Nos. T-11431 and T-14432 were
issued in the names of the said heirs of the deceased.
On March 23, 1953, in a power of attorney executed by the children and grandchildren of Domingo Rodriguez,
Concepcion Felix Vda. de Rodriguez was named their attorney in-fact, authorized to manage their shares in the
fishponds (Exh. 4).
On July 2, 1954, the heirs ended their co-ownership by executing a deed of partition, dividing and segregating
their respective shares in the properties, pursuant to a consolidation and subdivision plan (PCS-3702), in
accordance with which, Concepcion Felix Vda. de Rodriguez obtained TCT No. T-12910, for the portion
pertaining to her (Exh. L), while TCT No. T-12911 was issued to the other heirs, for their shares. This latter title
was subsequently replaced by TCT No. 16660 (Exh. M).
On October 12, 1954, the Rodriguez children executed another document granting unto the widow lifetime
usufruct over one-third of the fishpond which they received as hereditary share in the estate of Domingo
Rodriguez, which grant was accepted by Concepcion Felix Vda. de Rodriguez.
Then, in a contract dated December 15, 1961, the widow appeared to have leased from the Rodriguez children
and grandchildren the fishpond (covered by TCT No. 16660) for a period of 5 years commencing August 16,
1962, for an annual rental of P7,161.37 (Exh. 5).1wph1.t
At about this time, it seemed that the relationship between the widow and her stepchildren had turned for the
worse. Thus, when she failed to deliver to them the balance of the earnings of the fishponds, in the amount of
P3,000.00, her stepchildren endorsed the matter to their lawyer who, on May 16, 1962, sent a letter of demand to
the widow for payment thereof. On, May 28, 1962, Concepcion Felix Vda. de Rodriguez filed the present action in
the Court of First Instance of Manila naming as defendants, Geronimo Rodriguez, Esmeragdo Rodriguez, Oscar
Rodriguez, Concepcion Bautista Vda. de Rodriguez, as guardian of the minors Juan and Ana Rodriguez, and
Antonio Diaz de Rivera and Renato Diaz de Rivera, as guardians of the minors Maria Ana, Mercedes, Margarita,
Mauricio, Jr. and Domingo (Children of Mauricio Rodriguez who had also died).
The action to declare null and void the deeds of transfer of plaintiff's properties to the conjugal partnership was
based on the alleged employment or exercise by plaintiff's deceased husband of force and pressure on her; that
the conveyances of the properties from plaintiff to her daughter and then to the conjugal partnership of plaintiff
and her husband are both without consideration; that plaintiff participated in the extrajudicial settlement of
estate (of the deceased Domingo Rodriguez) and in other subsequent deeds or instruments involving the
properties in dispute, on the false assumption that the said properties had become conjugal by reason of the
execution of the deeds of transfer in 1934; that laboring under the same false assumption, plaintiff delivered to
defendants, as income of the properties from 1956 to 1961, the total amount of P56,976.58. As alternative cause
of action, she contended that she would claim for her share, as surviving widow, of 1/5 of the properties in
controversy, should such properties be adjudged as belonging to the conjugal partnership. Thus, plaintiff prayed
that the deeds of transfer mentioned in the complaint be declared fictitious and simulated; that the "Extrajudicial
Settlement of Estate" be also declared null and void; that TCT No. 16660 of the Registry of Deeds of Bulacan be
cancelled and another one be issued in the name of plaintiff, Concepcion Felix Vda. de Felix; that defendants be
ordered to pay plaintiff the sum of P56,976.58, with legal interest thereon from the date of the filing of the
complaint, and for appropriate relief in connection with her alternative cause of action.
In their separate answers, defendants not only denied the material allegations of the complaint, but also set up as
affirmative defenses lack of cause of action, prescription, estoppel and laches. As counterclaim, they asked for
payment by the plaintiff of the unpaid balance of the earnings of the land up to August 15, 1962 in the sum of
P3,000.00, for attorney's fees and expenses of litigation.
On October 5, 1963, judgment was rendered for the defendants. In upholding the validity of the contracts, the
court found that although the two documents, Exhibits A and B, were executed for the purpose of converting
plaintiff's separate properties into conjugal assets of the marriage with Domingo Rodriguez, the consent of the
parties thereto was voluntary, contrary to the allegations of plaintiff and her witness. The court also ruled that
having taken part in the questioned transactions, plaintiff was not the proper party to plead lack of consideration
to avoid the transfers; that contracts without consideration are not inexistent, but are only voidable, following the
ruling in the case of Concepcion vs. Sta. Ana (87 Phil. 787); that there was ratification or confirmation by the
plaintiff of the transfer of her property, by her execution (with the other heirs) of the extrajudicial settlement of
estate; that being a voluntary party to the contracts, Exhibits A and B, plaintiff cannot recover the properties she
gave thereunder. Plaintiff's alternative cause of action was also rejected on the ground that action for rescission of
the deed of extrajudicial settlement should have been filed within 4 years from its execution (on March 16, 1953).
From the decision of the Court of First Instance, plaintiff duly appealed to this Court, insisting that the
conveyances in issue were obtained through duress, and were inexistent, being simulated and without
consideration.
We agree with the trial Court that the evidence is not convincing that the contracts of transfer from Concepcion
Felix to her daughter, and from the latter to her mother and stepfather were executed through violence or
intimidation. The charge is predicated solely upon the improbable and biased testimony of appellant's daughter,
Concepcion C. Martelino, whom the trial court, refused to believe, considering that her version of violence and
harassment was contradicted by Bartolome Gualberto who had lived with the Rodriguez spouses from 1917 to
1953, and by the improbability of Rodriguez threatening his stepdaughter in front of the Notary Public who ratified
her signature. Furthermore, as pointed out by the appealed decision, the charge of duress should be treated with
caution considering that Rodriguez had already died when the suit was brought, for duress, like fraud, is not to be
lightly paid at the door of men already dead. (Cf. Prevost vs. Gratz, 6 Wheat. [U.S.] 481, 498; Sinco vs. Longa, 51
Phil. 507).
What is more decisive is that duress being merely a vice or defect of consent, an action based upon it must be
brought within four years after it has ceased;
1
and the present action was instituted only in 1962, twenty eight (28)
years after the intimidation is claimed to have occurred, and no less than nine (9) years after the supposed culprit
died (1953). On top of it, appellant entered into a series of subsequent transactions with appellees that confirmed
the contracts that she now tries to set aside. Therefore, this cause of action is clearly barred.
Appellant's main stand in attacking the conveyances in question is that they are simulated or fictitious, and
inexistent for lack of consideration. We shall examine each purported defect separately.
The charge of simulation is untenable, for the characteristic of simulation is the fact that the apparent contract is
not really desired or intended to produce legal effects or in way alter the juridical situation of the parties. Thus,
where a person, in order to place his property beyond the reach of his creditors, simulates a transfer of it to
another, he does not really intend to divest himself of his title and control of the property; hence, the deed of
transfer is but a sham. But appellant contends that the sale by her to her daughter, and the subsequent sale by
the latter to appellant and her husband, the late Domingo Rodriguez, were done for the purpose of converting the
property from paraphernal to conjugal, thereby vesting a half interest in Rodriguez, and evading the prohibition
against donations from one spouse to another during coverture (Civil Code of 1889, Art. 1334). If this is true, then
the appellant and her daughter must have intended the two conveyance to be real and effective; for appellant
could not intend to keep the ownership of the fishponds and at the same time vest half of them in her husband.
The two contracts of sale then could not have been simulated, but were real and intended to be fully operative,
being the means to achieve the result desired.
Nor does the intention of the parties to circumvent by these contracts the law against donations between spouses
make them simulated ones.
Ferrara, in his classic book, "La Simulacion de los Negocios Juridicos" (Sp. trans, 1926), pp. 95, 105, clearly
explains the difference between simulated transactions and transactions in fraudem legis:
Otra figura que debe distinguirse de la simulacion es el fraus legis. Tambien aqui se da una gran confusion
que persiste aun en la jurisprudencia, apegada tenazmente a antiguos errores. Se debe a Bahr el haber
defendido con vigor la antitesis teorica que existe entre negocio fingido y negocio fraudulento y haber
atacado la doctrina comun que hacia una mescolanza con los dos conceptos.
Se confunde dice (2) , el negocio in fraudem legis con el negocio simulado; aunque la naturaleza de
ambos sea totalmente diversa. El negocio fraudulento no es, en absolute, un negocio aparente. Es
perfectamente serio: se quiere realmente. Es mas, se quiere tal como se ha realizado, con todas las
consecuencias que correspondent a la forma juridica elegida. Muchas veces, estas consecuencias con
incomodas para una u otra de las partes, aunque serian mucho mas incomodas las consecuencias que
lievaria consigo el acto prohibido.
x x x x x x x x x
El resultado de las precedentes investigaciones es el siguiente el negocio simulado quiere producir una
apariencia; el negocio fraudulente, una realidad; los negocios simulados son ficticios, no queridos; los
negocios in fraudem son serios, reales, y realizados en tal forma por las partes para consequir un
resultado prohibido: la simulacion nunca es un medio para eludir la ley sino para ocultar su violation. La
transgresion del contenido verbal e inmediato de la norma se encubre bajo el manto de un negocio licito, lo
cual no altera el caracter del contra legem agere. Tan verdad es, que si se ha redactado una contra-
escritura que documentary y declara la verdadera naturaleza del negocio realizado, no queda mas que
aplicar pura y simplementela prohibicion.
Tambien el fraude quiere perjudicar la ley, pero emplea para ello medios diversos y sigue distintos
caminus. No oculta el acto exterior, sino que lo deja claro y visible, tratando de huir sesgadamente de la
aplicacion de la ley merced a una artistica y sabia combinacion de varios medios juridicos no reprobados.
Appellant invokes our decision in Vasquez vs. Porta, 98 Phil. 490, but to no purpose. The mortgage and
foreclosure sale involved in that case were typical simulations merely apparent but not really intended to produce
legal effects, as approved by the Court's finding that the alleged creditor and buyer at the foreclosure sale "Porta
himself ostensibly acknowledged by his inertia in allowing the doctor (alleged mortgagor debtor) to exercise
dominical power thereon without any protest on his part." (cas. cit., p. 495). Not only this, but the mortgagor's
wife, when her husband died, "found among his papers Porta's cancellation of the mortgage in his favor and the
draft of the complaint for foreclosure." Plainly, the precedent cited is here inapplicable.
Were the two conveyances from appellant to her daughter and from the latter to the spouses Rodriguez void ab
initio or inexistent for lack of consideration? We do not find them to be so. In the first transaction, the price of
P2,500.00 is recited in the deed itself (Exh. A); in the second (Exh. B), the consideration set forth is P3,000.00.
Now, Article 1274 of the Civil Code of 1889 (in force when the deeds were executed) provided that
In onerous contracts the cause is understood to be, for each contracting party, the prestation or promise of
a thing or service by the other. (emphasis supplied.)
Since in each conveyance the buyer became obligated to pay a definite price in money, such undertaking
constituted in themselves actual causa or consideration for the conveyance of the fishponds. That the prices were
not paid (assuming ad arguendo that Concepcion Martelino's testimony, to this effect is true) does not make the
sales inexistent for want of causa. As ruled in Enriquez de la Cavada vs. Diaz, 37 Phil. 982, "the consideration
(causa) need not pass from one (party) to the other at the time the contract is entered into x x x . The
consideration need not be paid at the time of the promise. The one promise is a consideration for the other."
What would invalidate the conveyances now under scrutiny is the fact that they were resorted to in order to
circumvent the legal prohibition against donations between spouses contained in Article 1334, paragraph 1, of the
Civil Code of 1889, then prevailing. That illegal purpose tainted the contracts, for as held by the Spanish Tribunal
Supreme in its decision of 2 April 1941.
ha de ser reputado ineficaz, por exigencias includibles del caracter social y moral del Derecho, todo
contrato que persiga un fin ilicito o immoral, sea cualquiera el medio empleado por los contratantes para
lograr esa finalidad, no justificada por un interes digno de ser socialmente protegido.
The illicit purpose then becomes illegal causa within the terms of the old Civil Code, for as declared by the same
Spanish Court in its decision of 14 December 1940
toda vez que lo que caracteriza fundamentalmente la ilicitud de la causa es la lesion de un interos general
juridica 6 moral.
a ruling reiterated in the decision of 2 April 1941 when the Court ruled:
El concepto de la causa ilicita, tal como la desenvuelve y aplica con gran amplitud y flexibilidad la doctrina
moderna, permite cobijar, no solo las convenciones ilicitas por razon de su objeto o de su motivo ... sino
tambien multiples convenciones que no encerrando en si ningun elemento de directa antijuricidad son
ilicitas por el matiz immoral que reviste la operation en su conjunto x x x .
Unfortunately for herein appellant, in contracts invalidated by illegal subject matter or illegal causa, Articles 1305
and 1306 of the Civil Code then in force apply rigorously the rule in pari delicto non oritur action, denying all
recovery to the guilty parties inter se. And appellant is clearly as guilty as her husband in the attempt to evade the
legal interdiction of Article 1334 of the Code, already cited. Wherefore, her present action to reivindicate the,
conveyed properties was correctly repulsed by the Court below.
Art. 1306. If the act which constitutes the illicit consideration is neither a crime nor a misdemeanor, the
following rules shall be observed:
1. When both parties are guilty, neither of them can recover what he may have given by virtue of the
contract, or enforce the performance of the undertaking of the other party;
x x x x x x x x x
That Article 1306 applies to cases where the nullity arises from the illegality of the consideration or the purpose of
the contract was expressly recognized by this Supreme Court in Gustilo vs. Maravilla, 48 Phil. 449-450.
2
Finally, it cannot be denied that plaintiff-appellant had knowledge of the nullity of the contract for the transfer of
her properties in 1934, because she was even a party thereto. And yet, her present action was filed only on May
28, 1962 and after the breaking up of friendly relations between her and defendants-appellees. Appellant's
inaction to enforce her right, for 28 years, cannot be justified by the lame excuse that she assumed that the
transfer was valid. Knowledge of the effect of that transaction would have been obtained by the exercise of
diligence. Ignorance which is the effect of inexcusable negligence, it has been said, is no excuse for laches. (Go
Chi Gun, etc., et al. vs. Co Cho, et al., G.R. No. L-5208, Feb. 28, 1955). Even assuming for the sake of argument
that appellant held her peace, during the lifetime of her husband, out of legitimate fear for her life, there is no
justification for her future to bring the proper action after his death in 1953. Instead, she entered into a series of
agreements with herein appellees, the children of her husband by a prior marriage, of partition, usufruct and
lease of their share in the fishponds, transactions that necessarily assumed that Rodriguez had acquired one-half
of the litigated fishponds. In the circumstances, appellant's cause has become a stale demand and her conduct
placed her in estoppel to question the Validity of the transfer of her properties. (Manila, et al. vs. Galvan, et al.,
G.R. No. L-23507, May 24, 1967; Perez vs. Herranz, 7 Phil. 695-696).
In view of the foregoing, the decision appealed from is affirmed. Costs against appellant Concepcion Felix Vda. de
Rodriguez. So ordered.
Makalintal, Bengzon, J.P., Zaldivar, Sanchez, Castro, Angeles and Fernando, JJ., concur.
Concepcion, C.J. and Dizon, J., are on leave.
Footnotes
1
Article 1301 of the Civil Code of 1889, in force when the assailed contracts were executed (1934).
2
See also Liguez vs. Court of Appeals, 102 Phil. 581582; Perez vs. Herranz, 7 Phil. 695.
The Lawphil Project - Arellano Law Foundation