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Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila EN BANC G.R. No.

L-4067 November 29, 1951

In the Matter of the will of ANTERO MERCADO, deceased. ROSARIO GARCIA, petitioner, vs. JULIANA LACUESTA, ET AL., respondents. Elviro L. Peralta and Hermenegildo A. Prieto for petitioner. Faustino B. Tobia, Juan I. Ines and Federico Tacason for respondents. PARAS, C.J.: This is an appeal from a decision of the Court of Appeals disallowing the will of Antero Mercado dated January 3, 1943. The will is written in the Ilocano dialect and contains the following attestation clause: We, the undersigned, by these presents to declare that the foregoing testament of Antero Mercado was signed by himself and also by us below his name and of this attestation clause and that of the left margin of the three pages thereof. Page three the continuation of this attestation clause; this will is written in Ilocano dialect which is spoken and understood by the testator, and it bears the corresponding number in letter which compose of three pages and all them were signed in the presence of the testator and witnesses, and the witnesses in the presence of the testator and all and each and every one of us witnesses. In testimony, whereof, we sign this statement, this the third day of January, one thousand nine hundred forty three, (1943) A.D. (Sgd.) NUMERIANO EVANGELISTA (Sgd.) BIBIANA ILLEGIBLE The will appears to have been signed by Atty. Florentino Javier who wrote the name of Antero Mercado, followed below by "A reugo del testator" and the name of Florentino Javier. Antero Mercado is alleged to have written a cross immediately after his name. The Court of Appeals, reversing the judgement of the Court of First Instance of Ilocos Norte, ruled that the attestation clause failed (1) to certify that the will was signed on all the left margins of the three pages and at the end of the will by Atty. Florentino Javier at the express request of the testator in the presence of the testator and each and every one of the witnesses; (2) to certify that after the signing of the name of the testator by Atty. Javier at the former's request said testator has written a cross at the end of his name and on the left margin of the three pages of which the will consists and at the end thereof; (3) to certify that the three witnesses signed the will in all the pages thereon in the presence of the testator and of each other. In our opinion, the attestation clause is fatally defective for failing to state that Antero Mercado caused Atty. Florentino Javier to write the testator's name under his express direction, as required by section 618 of the Code of Civil Procedure. The herein petitioner (who is appealing by way of (Sgd.) "ROSENDA CORTES

certiorari from the decision of the Court of Appeals) argues, however, that there is no need for such recital because the cross written by the testator after his name is a sufficient signature and the signature of Atty. Florentino Javier is a surplusage. Petitioner's theory is that the cross is as much a signature as a thumbmark, the latter having been held sufficient by this Court in the cases of De Gala vs. Gonzales and Ona, 53 Phil., 104; Dolar vs. Diancin, 55 Phil., 479; Payad vs. Tolentino, 62 Phil., 848; Neyra vs. Neyra, 76 Phil., 296 and Lopez vs. Liboro, 81 Phil., 429. It is not here pretended that the cross appearing on the will is the usual signature of Antero Mercado or even one of the ways by which he signed his name. After mature reflection, we are not prepared to liken the mere sign of the cross to a thumbmark, and the reason is obvious. The cross cannot and does not have the trustworthiness of a thumbmark. What has been said makes it unnecessary for us to determine there is a sufficient recital in the attestation clause as to the signing of the will by the testator in the presence of the witnesses, and by the latter in the presence of the testator and of each other. Wherefore, the appealed decision is hereby affirmed, with against the petitioner. So ordered. Feria, Pablo, Bengzon, Padilla, Reyes, Jugo and Bautista Angelo, JJ., concur.

Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila EN BANC DECISION September 1, 1914 G.R. No. 6845 YAP TUA, petitioner-appellee, vs. YAP CA KUAN and YAP CA LLU, objectors-appellants. Chicote and Miranda for appellants. OBrien and DeWitt for appellee. JOHNSON, J.: It appears from the record that on the 23d day of August, 1909, one Perfecto Gabriel, representing the petitioner, Yap Tua, presented a petition in the Court of First Instance of the city of Manila, asking that the will of Tomasa Elizaga Yap Caong be admitted to probate, as the last will and testament of Tomasa Elizaga Yap Caong, deceased. It appears that the said Tomasa Elizaga Yap Caong died in the city of Manila on the 11th day of August, 1909. Accompanying said petition and attached thereto was the alleged will of the deceased. It appears that the will was signed by the deceased, as well as Anselmo Zacarias, Severo Tabora, and Timoteo Paez. Said petition, after due notice was given, was brought on for hearing on the 18th day of September, 1909. Timoteo Paez declared that he was 48 years of age; that he had known the said Tomasa Elizaga Yap Caong; that she had died on the 11th day of August, 1909; that before her death she had executed a last will and testament; that he was present at the time of the execution of the same; that he had signed the will as a witness; that Anselmo Zacarias and Severo Tabora had also signed said will as witnesses and that they had signed the will in the presence of the deceased. Pablo Agustin also declared as a witness and said that he was 40 years of age; that he knew Tomasa Elizaga Yap Caong during her lifetime; that she died on the 11th day of August, 1909, in the city of Manila; that before her death she had executed a last will and testament; that he was present at the time said last will was executed; that there were also present Timoteo Paez and Severo Tabora and a person called Anselmo; that the said Tomasa Elizaga Yap Caong signed the will in the presence of the witnesses; that he had seen her sign the will with his own eyes; that the witnesses had signed the will in the presence of the said Tomasa Elizaga Yap Caong and in the presence of each other; that the said Tomasa Elizaga Yap Caong signed the will voluntarily, and in his judgment, she was in the possession of her faculties; that there were no threats or intimidation used to induce her to sign the will; that she signed it voluntarily.

No further witnesses were called and there was no further opposition presented to the legalization of the said will. After hearing the foregoing witnesses, the Honorable A. S. Crossfield, judge, on the 29th day of September, 1909, ordered that the last will and testament of Tomasa Elizaga Yap Caong be allowed and admitted to probate. The will was attached to the record and marked Exhibit A. The court further ordered that one Yap Tua be appointed as executor of the will, upon the giving of a bond, the amount of which was to be fixed later. From the record it appears that no further proceedings were had until the 28th of February, 1910, when Yap Ca Kuan and Yap Ca Llu appeared and presented a petition, alleging that they were interested in the matters of the said will and desired to intervene and asked that a guardian ad litem be appointed to represent them in the cause. On the 1st day of March, 1910, the court appointed Gabriel La O as guardian ad litem of said parties. Gabriel La O accepted said appointment, took the oath of office and entered upon the performance of his duties as guardian ad litem of said parties. On the 2d day of March, 1910, the said Gabriel La O appeared in court and presented a motion in which he alleged, in substance: First. That the will dated the 11th day of August, 1909, and admitted to probate by order of the court on the 29th day of September, 1909, was null, for the following reasons: (a) Because the same had not been authorized nor signed by the witnesses as the law prescribes. (b) Because at the time of the execution of the will, the said Tomasa Elizaga Yap Caong was not then mentally capacitated to execute the same, due to her sickness. (c) Because her signature to the will had been obtained through fraud and illegal influence upon the part of persons who were to receive a benefit from the same, and because the said Tomasa Elizaga Yap Caong had no intention of executing the same. Second. That before the execution of the said will, which they alleged to be null, the said Tomasa Elizaga Yap Caong had executed another will, with all the formalities required by law, upon the 6th day of August, 1909. Third. That the said Yap Ca Kuan and Yap Ca Llu were minors and that, even though they had been negligent in presenting their opposition to the legalization of the will, said negligence was excusable, on account of their age. Upon the foregoing facts the court was requested to annul and set aside the order of the 29th day of September, 1909, and to grant to said minors an opportunity to present new proof relating to the due execution of said will. Said petition was based upon the provisions of section 113 of the Code of Procedure in Civil Actions.

While it is not clear from the record, apparently the said minors in their petition for a new trial, attached to said petition the alleged will of August 6, 1909, of the said Tomasa Elizaga Yap Caong, and the affidavits of Severo Tabora, Clotilde and Cornelia Serrano. Upon the 10th day of March, 1910, upon the hearing of said motion for a rehearing, the Honorable A. S. Crossfield, judge, granted said motion and ordered that the rehearing should take place upon the 18th day of March, 1910, and directed that notice should be given to the petitioners of said rehearing and to all other persons interested in the will. At the rehearing a number of witnesses were examined. It will be remembered that one of the grounds upon which the new trial was requested was that the deceased, Tomasa Elizaga Yap Caong, had not signed the will (Exhibit A) of the 11th of August, 1909; that in support of that allegation, the protestants, during the rehearing, presented a witness called Tomas Puzon. Puzon testified that he was a professor and an expert in handwriting, and upon being shown the will (of August 11, 1909) Exhibit A, testified that the name and surname on Exhibit A, in his judgment were written by two different hands, though the given name is the same as that upon Exhibit 1 (the will of August 6, 1909), because he found in the name Tomasa on Exhibit A a similarity in the tracing to the Tomasa in Exhibit 1; that comparing the surname on Exhibit A with the surname on Exhibit 1 he found that the character of the writing was thoroughly distinguished and different by the tracing and by the direction of the letters in the said two exhibits; that from his experience and observation he believed that the name Tomasa and Yap Caong, appearing in the signature on Exhibit A were written by different person. Puzon, being cross-examined with reference to his capacity as an expert in handwriting, testified that while he was a student in the Ateneo de Manila, he had studied penmanship; that he could not tell exactly when that was, except that he had concluded his course in the year 1882; that since that time he had been a telegraph operator for seventeen years and that he had acted as an expert in handwriting in the courts in the provinces. Gabriel La O was called as a witness during the rehearing and testified that he had drawn the will of the 6th of August, 1909, at the request of Tomasa Elizaga Yap Caong; that it was drawn in accordance with her request and under her directions; that she had signed it; that the same had been signed by three witnesses in her presence and in the presence of each other; that the will was written in her house; that she was sick and was lying in her bed, but that she sat up to sign the will; that she signed the will with great difficulty; that she was signed in her right mind. The said Severo Tabora was also called as a witness again during the rehearing. He testified that he knew Tomasa Elizaga Yap Caong during her lifetime; that she was dead; that his signature as a witness to Exhibit A (the will of August 11, 1909) was placed there by him; that the deceased, Tomasa Elizaga Yap Caong, became familiar with the contents of the will because she signed it before he (the witness) did; that he did not know whether anybody there told her to sign the will or not; that he signed two bills; that he did not know La O; that he did not believe that Tomasa had signed the will (Exhibit A) before he arrived at the house; that he was not sure that he had seen Tomasa Elizaga Yap Caong sign Exhibit A because there were many people and there was a screen at the door and he

could not see; that he was called a a witness to sign the second will and was told by the people there that it was the same as the first; that the will (Exhibit A) was on a table, far from the patient, in the house but outside the room where the patient was; that the will was signed by Paez and himself; that Anselmo Zacarias was there; that he was not sure whether Anselmo Zacarias signed the will or not; that he was not sure whether Tomasa Elizaga Yap Caong could see the table on which the will was written at the time it was signed or not; that there were many people in the house; that he remembered the names of Pedro and Lorenzo; that he could not remember the names of any others; that the will remained on the table after he signed it; that after he signed the will he went to the room where Tomasa was lying; that the will was left on the table outside; that Tomasa was very ill; that he heard the people asking Tomasa to sign the will after he was (the witness) had signed it; that he saw Paez sign the will, that he could not remember whether Anselmo Zacarias had signed the will, because immediately after he and Paez signed it, he left because he was hungry; that the place where the table was located was in the same house, on the floor, about two steps down from the floor on which Tomasa was. Rufino R. Papa, was called as a witness for the purpose of supporting the allegation that Tomasa Elizaga Yap Caong was mentally incapacitated to make the will dated August 11, 1909 (Exhibit A). Papa declared that he was a physician; that he knew Tomasa Elizaga Yap Caong; that he had treated her in the month of August; that he visited her first on the 8th day of August; that he visited her again on the 9th and 10th days of August; that on the first visit he found the sick woman completely weak very weak from her sickness, in the third stage of tuberculosis; that she was lying in bed; that on the first visit he found her with but little sense, the second day also, and on the third day she had lost all her intelligence; that she died on the 11th of August; tat he was requested to issue the death certificate; that when he asked her (Tomasa) whether she was feeling any pain or anything of that kind, she did not answer at all; that she was in a condition of stupor, induced, as he believed, by the stage of uraemia from which she was suffering. Anselmo Zacarias, who had signed the will of August 11, 1909, was also called as a witnesses during the rehearing. He testified that he had known Tomasa Elizaga Yap Caong since he was a child; that Tomasa was dead; that he had written the will exhibit A; that it was all in his writing except the last part, which was written by Carlos Sobaco; that he had written the will Exhibit A at the request of the uncle of Tomasa; that Lorenzo, the brother of the deceased, was the one who had instructed him as to the terms of the will ; that the deceased had not spoken to him concerning the terms of the will; that the will was written in the dining room of the residence of the deceased; that Tomasa was in another room different from that in which the will was written; that the will was not written in the presence of Tomasa; that he signed the will as a witness in the room where Tomasa was lying; that the other witnesses signed the will in the same room that when he went into the room where the sick woman was (Tomasa Elizaga Yap Caong) Lorenzo had the will in his hands; that when Lorenzo came to the bed he showed the will to his sister (Tomasa) and requested her to sign it; that she was lying stretched out on the bed and two women, who were taking care of her, helped her to sit up, supporting her by lacing their hands at her back; that when she started to write her name, he withdrew from the bed on account of the best inside the room; when he came back again to the sick

bed the will was signed and was again in the hands of Lorenzo; that he did not see Tomasa sign the will because he withdrew from the room; that he did not know whether Tomasa had been informed of the contents of the will or not; he supposed she must have read it because Lorenzo turned the will over to her; that when Lorenzo asked her to sign the will, he did not know what she said he could not hear her voice; that he did not know whether the sick woman was him sign the will or not; that he believed that Tomasa died the next day after the will had been signed; that the other two witnesses, Timoteo Paez and Severo Tabora, had signed the will in the room with the sick woman; that he saw them sign the will and that they saw him sign it; that he was not sure whether the testatrix could have seen them at the time they signed the will or not; that there was a screen before the bed; that he did not think that Lorenzo had been giving instructions as to the contents of the will; that about ten or fifteen minutes elapsed from the time Lorenzo handed the will to Tomasa before she started to sign it; that the pen with which she signed the will as given to her and she held it. Clotilde Mariano testified that he was a cigarette maker; that he knew Tomasa Elizaga Yap Caong and that she was dead; that she had made two wills; that the first one was written by La O and the second by Zacarias; that he was present at the time Zacarias wrote the second one; that he was present when the second will was taken to Tomasa for signature; that Lorenzo had told Tomasa that the second will was exactly like the first; that Tomasa said she could not sign it. On cross examination he testified that there was a lot of visitors there; that Zacarias was not there; that Paez and Tabora were there; that he had told Tomasa that the second will was exactly like the first. During the rehearing Cornelia Serrano and Pedro Francisco were also examined as witnesses. There is nothing in their testimony, however, which in our opinion is important. In rebuttal Julia e la Cruz was called as a witness. She testified that she was 19 years of age; that she knew Tomasa Elizaga Yap Caong during her lifetime; that she lived in the house of Tomasa during the last week of her illness; that Tomasa had made two wills; that she was present when the second one was executed; that a lawyer had drawn the will in the dining room and after it had been drawn and everything finished , it was taken to where Doa Tomasa was, for her signature; that it was taken to her by Anselmo Zacarias; that she was present at the time Tomasa signed the will that there were many other people present also; that she did not see Timoteo Paez there; that she saw Severo Tabora; that Anselmo Zacarias was present; that she did not hear Clotilde Mariano ask Tomasa to sign the will; that she did not hear Lorenzo say to Tomasa that the second will was the same sa the first; that Tomasa asked her to help her to sit up and to put a pillow to her back when Zacarias gave her some paper or document and asked her to sign it; that she saw Tomasa take hold of the pen and try to sign it but she did not see the place she signed the document, for the reason that she left the room; that she saw Tomasa sign the document but did not see on what place on the document she signed; and that a notary public came the next morning; that Tomasa was able to move about in the bed; that she had seen Tomasa in the act of starting to write her signature when she told her to get her some water.

Yap Cao Quiang was also called as a witness in rebuttal. He testified that he knew Tomasa Elizaga Yap Caong and knew that she had made a will; that he saw the will at the time it was written; that he saw Tomasa sign it on her head; that he did not hear Lorenzo ask Tomasa to sign the will; that Lorenzo had handed the will to Tomasa to sign; that he saw the witnesses sign the will on a table near the bed; that the table was outside the curtain or screen and near the entrance to the room where Tomasa was lying. Lorenzo Yap Caong testified as a witness on rebuttal. He said that he knew Anselmo Zacarias and that Zacarias wrote the will of Tomasa Elizaga Yap Caong; that Tomasa had given him instructions; that Tomasa had said that she sign the will; that the will was on a table near the bed of Tomasa; that Tomasa, from where she was lying in the bed, could seethe table where the witnesses had signed the will. During the rehearing certain other witnesses were also examined; in our opinion, however, it is necessary to quote from them for the reason that their testimony in no way affects the preponderance of proof above quoted. At the close of the rehearing the Honorable A. S. Crossfield, judge, in an extended opinion, reached the conclusion that the last will and testament of Tomasa Elizaga Yap Caong, which was attached to the record and marked Exhibit A was the last will and testament of the said Tomasa Elizaga Yap Caong and admitted it to probate and ordered that the administrator therefore appointed should continue as such administrator. From that order the protestants appealed to this court, and made the following assignments of error: I. The court erred in declaring that the will, Exhibit A, was executed by the deceased Tomasa Yap Caong, without the intervention of any external influence on the part of other persons. II. The court erred in declaring that the testator had clear knowledge and knew what she was doing at the time of signing the will. III. The court erred in declaring that the signature of the deceased Tomasa Yap Caong in the first will, Exhibit 1, is identical with that which appears in the second will, Exhibit A. IV. The court erred in declaring that the will, Exhibit A, was executed in accordance with the law. With reference to the first assignment of error, to wit, that undue influence was brought to bear upon Tomasa Elizaga Yap Caong in the execution of her will of August 11th, 1909 (Exhibit A), the lower court found that no undue influence had been exercised over the mind of the said Tomasa Elizaga Yap Caong. While it is true that some of the witnesses testified that the brother of Tomasa, one Lorenzo, had attempted to unduly influence her mind in the execution of he will, upon the other hand, there were several witnesses who testified that Lorenzo did not attempt, at the time of the execution of the will, to influence her mind in any way. The lower court having had an opportunity to see, to hear, and to note the witnesses during their examination reached the conclusion that a preponderance of the

evidence showed that no undue influence had been used. we find no good reason in the record for reversing his conclusions upon that question. With reference to the second assignment of error to wit, that Tomasa Elizaga Yap Caong was not of sound mind and memory at the time of the execution of the will, we find the same conflict in the declarations of the witnesses which we found with reference to the undue influence. While the testimony of Dr. Papa is very strong relating to the mental condition of Tomasa Elizaga Yap Caong, yet, nevertheless, his testimony related to a time perhaps twenty-four hours before the execution of the will in question (Exhibit A). Several witnesses testified that at the time the will was presented to her for her signature, she was of sound mind and memory and asked for a pen and ink and kept the will in her possession for ten or fifteen minutes and finally signed it. The lower court found that there was a preponderance of evidence sustaining the conclusion that Tomasa Elizaga Yap Caong was of sound mind and memory and in the possession of her faculties at the time she signed this will. In view of the conflict in the testimony of the witnesses and the finding of the lower court, we do not feel justified in reversing his conclusions upon that question. With reference to the third assignment of error, to wit, that the lower court committed an error in declaring that the signature of Tomasa Elizaga Yap Caong, on her first will (August 6, 1909, Exhibit 1), is identical with that which appears in the second will (August 11, 1909, Exhibit A), it may be said: First. That whether or not Tomasa Elizaga Yap Caong executed the will of August 6, 1909 (Exhibit 1), was not the question presented to the court. The question presented was whether or not she had duly executed the will of August 11, 1909 (Exhibit A). Second. There appears to be but little doubt that Tomasa Elizaga Yap Caong did execute the will of August 6, 1909. Several witnesses testified to that fact. The mere fact, however, that she executed a former will is no proof that she did not execute a later will. She had a perfect right, by will, to dispose of her property, in accordance with the provisions of law, up to the very last of moment her life. She had a perfect right to change, alter, modify or revoke any and all of her former wills and to make a new one. Neither will the fact that the new will fails to expressly revoke all former wills, in any way sustain the charge that she did not make the new will. Third. In said third assignment of error there is involved in the statement that The signature of Tomasa Elizaga Yap Caong, in her first will (Exhibit 1) was not identical with that which appears in her second will (Exhibit A) the inference that she had not signed the second will and all the argument of the appellants relating to said third assignment of error is based upon the alleged fact that Tomasa Elizaga Yap Caong did not sign Exhibit A. Several witnesses testified that they saw her write the name Tomasa. One of the witnesses testified that she had written her full name. We are of the opinion, and we think the law sustains our conclusion, that if Tomasa Elizaga Yap Caong signed any portion of her name tot he will, with the intention to sign the same, that the will amount to a signature. It has been held time and time again that one who makes a will may sign the same by using a mark, the name having been written by others. If writing a mark simply upon a will is sufficient indication of the intention of the person to make and execute a will, then certainly the writing of a portion or all of her

name ought to be accepted as a clear indication of her intention to execute the will. (Re Goods of Savory, 15 Jur., 1042; Addy vs. Grix, 8 Ves. Jr., 504; Baker vs. Dening, 8 Ad. and El., 94 Long vs. Zook, 13 Penn., 400; Vernon vs. Kirk, 30 Penn., 218; Cozzens Will, 61 Penn., 196; Re Goods of Emerson, L. R. 9 Ir., 443; Main vs. Ryder, 84 Penn., 217.) We find a very interesting case reported in 131 Pennsylvania State, 220 (6 L. R. A., 353), and cited by the appellees, which was known as Knoxs Appeal. In this case one Harriett S. Knox died very suddenly on the 17th of October, 1888, at the residence of her father. After her death a paper was found in her room, wholly in her handwriting, written with a lead pencil, upon three sides of an ordinary folded sheet of note paper and bearing the signature simply of Harriett. In this paper the deceased attempted to make certain disposition of her property. The will was presented for probate. The probation was opposed upon the ground that the same did not contain the signature of the deceased. That was the only question presented to the court, whether the signature, in the form above indicated, was a sufficient signature to constitute said paper the last will and testament of Harriett S. Knox. It was admitted that the entire paper was in the handwriting of the deceased. In deciding that question, Justice Mitchell said: The precise case of a signature by the first name only, does not appear to have arisen either in England or the United States; but the principle on which the decisions already referred to were based, especially those in regard to signing by initials only, are equally applicable to the present case, and additional force is given to them by the decisions as to what constitutes a binding signature to a contract. (Palmer vs. Stephens, 1 Denio, 478; Sanborne vs. Flager, 9 Alle, 474; Weston vs. Myers, 33 Ill., 424; Salmon Falls, etc. Co. vs. Goddard, 14 How. (U. S.), 446.) The man who cannot write and who is obliged to make his mark simply therefor, upon the will, is held to sign as effectually as if he had written his initials or his full name. It would seem to be sufficient, under the law requiring a signature by the person making a will, to make his mark, to place his initials or all or any part of his name thereon. In the present case we think the proof shows, by a large preponderance, that Tomasa Elizaga Yap Caong, if she did not sign her full name, did at least sign her given name Tomasa, and that is sufficient to satisfy the statute. With reference to the fourth assignment of error, it may be said that the argument which was preceded is sufficient to answer it also. During the trial of the cause the protestants made a strong effort to show that Tomasa Elizaga Yap Caong did not sign her name in the presence of the witnesses and that they did not sign their names in their presence nor in the presence of each other. Upon that question there is considerable conflict of proof. An effort was made to show that the will was signed by the witnesses in one room and by Tomasa in another. A plan of the room or rooms in which the will was signed was presented as proof and it was shown that there was but one room; that one part of the room was one or two steps below the floor of the other; that the table on which the witnesses signed the will was located upon the lower floor of the room. It was also shown that from the bed in which Tomasa was lying, it was possible for her to see the table on which the witnesses signed the will. While the rule is absolute that one who makes a will must sign the same in the presence of the witnesses and that the witnesses must sign in

the presence of each other, as well as in the presence of the one making the will, yet, nevertheless, the actual seeing of the signatures made is not necessary. It is sufficient if the signatures are made where it is possible for each of the necessary parties, if they desire to see, may see the signatures placed upon the will. In cases like the present where there is so much conflict in the proof, it is very difficult for the courts to reach conclusions that are absolutely free from doubt. Great weight must be given by appellate courts who do not see or hear the witnesses, to the conclusions of the trial courts who had that opportunity. Upon a full consideration of the record, we find that a preponderance of the proof shows that Tomasa Elizaga Yap Caong did execute, freely and voluntarily, while she was in the right use of all her faculties, the will dated August 11, 1909 (Exhibit A). Therefore the judgment of the lower court admitting said will to probate is hereby affirmed with costs. Arellano, C. J., Torres, Carson, Moreland and Araullo, JJ., concur.

Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila EN BANC G.R. No. L-13431 November 12, 1919

In re will of Ana Abangan. GERTRUDIS ABANGAN, executrix-appellee, vs. ANASTACIA ABANGAN, ET AL., opponents-appellants. Filemon Sotto for appellants. M. Jesus Cuenco for appellee.

AVANCEA, J.: On September 19, 1917, the Court of First Instance of Cebu admitted to probate Ana Abangan's will executed July, 1916. From this decision the opponent's appealed. Said document, duly probated as Ana Abangan's will, consists of two sheets, the first of which contains all of the disposition of the testatrix, duly signed at the bottom by Martin Montalban (in the name and under the direction of the testatrix) and by three witnesses. The following sheet contains only the attestation clause duly signed at the bottom by the three instrumental witnesses. Neither of these sheets is signed on the left margin by the testatrix and the three witnesses, nor numbered by letters; and these omissions, according to appellants' contention, are defects whereby the probate of the will should have been denied. We are of the opinion that the will was duly admitted to probate. In requiring that each and every sheet of the will should also be signed on the left margin by the testator and three witnesses in the presence of each other, Act No. 2645 (which is the one applicable in the case) evidently has for its object (referring to the body of the will itself) to avoid the substitution of any of said sheets, thereby changing the testator's dispositions. But when these dispositions are wholly written on only one sheet signed at the bottom by the testator and three witnesses (as the instant case), their signatures on the left margin of said sheet would be completely purposeless. In requiring this signature on the margin, the statute took into consideration, undoubtedly, the case of a will written on several sheets and must have referred to the sheets which the testator and the witnesses do not have to sign at the bottom. A different interpretation would assume that the statute requires that this sheet, already signed at the bottom, be signed twice. We cannot attribute to the statute such an intention. As these signatures must be written by the testator and the witnesses in the presence of each other, it appears that, if the signatures at the bottom of the sheet guaranties its authenticity, another signature on its left margin would be unneccessary; and if they do not guaranty, same signatures, affixed on another part of same sheet, would add nothing. We cannot assume that the statute regards of such importance the place where the testator and the witnesses must sign on the sheet that it would consider that their signatures written on the bottom do not guaranty the authenticity of the sheet but, if repeated on the margin, give sufficient security.

In requiring that each and every page of a will must be numbered correlatively in letters placed on the upper part of the sheet, it is likewise clear that the object of Act No. 2645 is to know whether any sheet of the will has been removed. But, when all the dispositive parts of a will are written on one sheet only, the object of the statute disappears because the removal of this single sheet, although unnumbered, cannot be hidden. What has been said is also applicable to the attestation clause. Wherefore, without considering whether or not this clause is an essential part of the will, we hold that in the one accompanying the will in question, the signatures of the testatrix and of the three witnesses on the margin and the numbering of the pages of the sheet are formalities not required by the statute. Moreover, referring specially to the signature of the testatrix, we can add that same is not necessary in the attestation clause because this, as its name implies, appertains only to the witnesses and not to the testator since the latter does not attest, but executes, the will. Synthesizing our opinion, we hold that in a will consisting of two sheets the first of which contains all the testamentary dispositions and is signed at the bottom by the testator and three witnesses and the second contains only the attestation clause and is signed also at the bottom by the three witnesses, it is not necessary that both sheets be further signed on their margins by the testator and the witnesses, or be paged. 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 primordal 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 frustative of the testator's last will, must be disregarded.
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As another ground for this appeal, it is alleged the records do not show that the testarix knew the dialect in which the will is written. But the circumstance appearing in the will itself that same was executed in the city of Cebu and in the dialect of this locality where the testatrix was a neighbor is enough, in the absence of any proof to the contrary, to presume that she knew this dialect in which this will is written. For the foregoing considerations, the judgment appealed from is hereby affirmed with costs against the appellants. So ordered. Arellano, C.J., Torres, Johnson, Araullo, Street and Malcolm, JJ., concur

Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila EN BANC G.R. No. L-1787 August 27, 1948

Testacy of Sixto Lopez. JOSE S. LOPEZ, petitioner-appellee, vs. AGUSTIN LIBORO, oppositor-appellant. Tirona, Gutierrez and Adorable for appellant. Ramon Diokno for appellee. TUASON, J.: In the Court of First Instance of Batangas the appellant opposed unsuccessfully the probate of what purports to be the last will and testament (Exhibit A) of Don Sixto Lopez, who died at the age of 83 in Balayan, Batangas, on March 3, 1947, almost six months after the document in question was executed. In the court below, the present appellant specified five grounds for his opposition, to wit: (1) that the deceased never executed the alleged will; (2) that his signature appearing in said will was a forgery; (3) that at the time of the execution of the will, he was wanting in testamentary as well as mental capacity due to advanced age; (4) that, if he did ever execute said will, it was not executed and attested as required by law, and one of the alleged instrumental witnesses was incapacitated to act as such; and it was procured by duress, influence of fear and threats and undue and improper pressure and influence on the part of the beneficiaries instituted therein, principally the testator's sister, Clemencia Lopez, and the herein proponent, Jose S. Lopez; and (5) that the signature of the testator was procured by fraud or trick. In this instance only one of these objections is reiterated, formulated in these words: "That the court a quo erred in holding that the document Exhibit "A" was executed in all particulars as required by law." To this objection is added the alleged error of the court "in allowing the petitioner to introduce evidence that Exhibit "A" was written in a language known to the decedent after petitioner rested his case and over the vigorous objection of the oppositor. The will in question comprises two pages, each of which is written on one side of a separate sheet. The first sheet is not paged either in letters or in Arabic numerals. This, the appellant believes, is a fatal defect. The purpose of the law in prescribing the paging of wills is guard against fraud, and to afford means of preventing the substitution or of defecting the loss of any of its pages. (Abangan vs. Abangan, 40 Phil., 476.) In the present case, the omission to put a page number on the first sheet, if that be necessary, is supplied by other forms of identification more trustworthy than the conventional numerical words or characters. The unnumbered page is clearly identified as the first page by the internal sense of its contents considered in relation to the contents of the second page. By their meaning and coherence, the first and second lines on the second page are undeniably a continuation of the last sentence of the testament, before the attestation clause, which starts at the bottom of the preceding page. Furthermore, the unnumbered page contains the caption

"TESTAMENTO," the invocation of the Almighty, and a recital that the testator was in full use of his testamentary faculty, all of which, in the logical order of sequence, precede the direction for the disposition of the marker's property. Again, as page two contains only the two lines above mentioned, the attestation clause, the mark of the testator and the signatures of the witnesses, the other sheet can not by any possibility be taken for other than page one. Abangan vs. Abangan,supra, and Fernandez vs. Vergel de Dios, 46 Phil., 922 are decisive of this issue. Although not falling within the purview and scope of the first assignment of error, the matter of the credibility of the witnesses is assailed under this heading. On the merits we do not believe that the appellant's contention deserves serious consideration. Such contradictions in the testimony of the instrumental witnesses as are set out in the appellant's brief are incidents not all of which every one of the witnesses can be supposed to have perceived, or to recall in the same order in which they occurred. Everyday life and the result of investigations made in the field of experimental psychology show that the contradictions of witnesses generally occur in the details of a certain incident, after a long series of questioning, and far from being an evidence of falsehood constitute a demonstration of good faith. Inasmuch as not all those who witness an incident are impressed in like manner, it is but natural that in relating their impressions they should not agree in the minor details; hence, the contradictions in their testimony. (People vs. Limbo, 49 Phil., 99.) The testator affixed his thumbmark to the instrument instead of signing his name. The reason for this was that the testator was suffering from "partial paralysis." While another in testator's place might have directed someone else to sign for him, as appellant contends should have been done, there is nothing curious or suspicious in the fact that the testator chose the use of mark as the means of authenticating his will. It was a matter of taste or preference. Both ways are good. A statute requiring a will to be "signed" is satisfied if the signature is made by the testator's mark. (De Gala vs. Gonzales and Ona, 53 Phil., 108; 28 R. C. L., 117.) With reference to the second assignment of error, we do not share the opinion that the trial court communicated an abuse of discretion in allowing the appellant to offer evidence to prove knowledge of Spanish by the testator, the language in which the will is drawn, after the petitioner had rested his case and after the opponent had moved for dismissal of the petition on the ground of insufficiency of evidence. It is within the discretion of the court whether or not to admit further evidence after the party offering the evidence has rested, and this discretion will not be reviewed except where it has clearly been abused. (64 C. J., 160.) More, it is within the sound discretion of the court whether or not it will allow the case to be reopened for the further introduction of evidence after a motion or request for a nonsuit, or a demurrer to the evidence, and the case may be reopened after the court has announced its intention as to its ruling on the request, motion, or demurrer, or has granted it or has denied the same, or after the motion has been granted, if the order has not been written, or entered upon the minutes or signed. (64 C. J., 164.) In this jurisdiction this rule has been followed. After the parties have produced their respective direct proofs, they are allowed to offer rebutting evidence only, but, it has been held, the court, for good reasons, in the furtherance of justice, may permit them to offer evidence upon their original case, and its ruling will not be disturbed in the appellate court where no abuse of discretion appears. (Siuliong and Co. vs. Ylagan, 43 Phil., 393; U. S. vs. Alviar, 36 Phil., 804.) So, generally, additional evidence is allowed when it is newly discovered, or where it has been omitted through inadvertence or mistake, or where the purpose of the evidence is to the evidence is to correct evidence previously offered. (I Moran's Comments on the Rules of Court, 2d ed., 545; 64 C. J., 160-163.) The omission

to present evidence on the testator's knowledge of Spanish had not been deliberate. It was due to a misapprehension or oversight. Although alien to the second assignment of error, the appellant impugns the will for its silence on the testator's understanding of the language used in the testament. There is no statutory requirement that such knowledge be expressly stated in the will itself. It is a matter that may be established by proof aliunde. This Court so impliedly ruled in Gonzales vs. Laurel, 46 Phil., 781, in which the probate of a will written in Tagalog was ordered although it did not say that the testator knew that idiom. In fact, there was not even extraneous proof on the subject other than the fact that the testator resided in a Tagalog region, from which the court said "a presumption arises that said Maria Tapia knew the Tagalog dialect. The order of the lower court ordering the probate of the last will and testament of Don Sixto Lopez is affirmed, with costs. Paras, Pablo, Perfecto, Bengzon, Briones and Padilla, JJ., concur.

Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila FIRST DIVISION G.R. No. L-36033 November 5, 1982 IN THE MATTER OF THE PETITION FOR THE PROBATE OF THE WILL OF DOROTEA PEREZ, (deceased): APOLONIO TABOADA, petitioner, vs. HON. AVELINO S. ROSAL, as Judge of Court of First Instance of Southern Leyte, (Branch III, Maasin),respondent. Erasmo M. Diola counsel for petition. Hon. Avelino S. Rosal in his own behalf.

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

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

so heavy an import on the space or particular location where the signatures are to be found as long as this space or particular location wherein the signatures are found is consistent with good faith and the honest frailties of human nature. We find the petition meritorious. Undoubtedly, under Article 805 of the Civil Code, the will must be subscribed or signed at its end by the testator himself or by the testator's name written by another person in his presence, and by his express direction, and attested and subscribed by three or more credible witnesses in the presence of the testator and of one another. It must be noted that the law uses the terms attested and subscribed Attestation consists in witnessing the testator's execution of the will in order to see and take note mentally that those things are, done which the statute requires for the execution of a will and that the signature of the testator exists as a fact. On the other hand, subscription is the signing of the witnesses' names upon the same paper for the purpose of Identification of such paper as the will which was executed by the testator. (Ragsdale v. Hill, 269 SW 2d 911). Insofar as the requirement of subscription is concerned, it is our considered view that the will in this case was subscribed in a manner which fully satisfies the purpose of Identification. The signatures of the instrumental witnesses on the left margin of the first page of the will attested not only to the genuineness of the signature of the testatrix but also the due execution of the will as embodied in the attestation clause. While perfection in the drafting of a will may be desirable, unsubstantial departure from the usual forms should be ignored, especially where the authenticity of the will is not assailed. (Gonzales v. Gonzales, 90 Phil. 444, 449). The law is to be liberally construed, "the underlying and fundamental objective permeating the provisions on the law on wills in this project consists in the liberalization of the manner of their execution with the end in view of giving the testator more freedom in expressing his last wishes but with sufficient safeguards and restrictions to prevent the commission of fraud and the exercise of undue and improper pressure and influence upon the testator. This objective is in accord with the modern tendency in respect to the formalities in the execution of a will" ( Report of the Code commission, p. 103). Parenthetically, Judge Ramon C. Pamatian stated in his questioned order that were not for the defect in the place of signatures of the witnesses, he would have found the testimony sufficient to establish the validity of the will. The objects of attestation and of subscription were fully met and satisfied in the present case when the instrumental witnesses signed at the left margin of the sole page which contains all the testamentary dispositions, especially so when the will was properly Identified by subscribing witness Vicente Timkang to be the same will executed by the testatrix. There was no question of fraud or substitution behind the questioned order. We have examined the will in question and noticed that the attestation clause failed to state the number of pages used in writing the will. This would have been a fatal defect were it not for the fact that, in this case, it is discernible from the entire wig that it is really and actually composed of only two pages duly signed by the testatrix and her instrumental witnesses. As earlier stated, the first

page which contains the entirety of the testamentary dispositions is signed by the testatrix at the end or at the bottom while the instrumental witnesses signed at the left margin. The other page which is marked as "Pagina dos" comprises the attestation clause and the acknowledgment. The acknowledgment itself states that "This Last Will and Testament consists of two pages including this page". In Singson v. Florentino, et al. (92 Phil. 161, 164), this Court made the following observations with respect to the purpose of the requirement that the attestation clause must state the number of pages used: The law referred to is article 618 of the Code of Civil Procedure, as amended by Act No. 2645, which requires that the attestation clause shall state the number of pages or sheets upon which the win is written, which requirement has been held to be mandatory as an effective safeguard against the possibility of interpolation or omission of some of the pages of the will to the prejudice of the heirs to whom the property is intended to be bequeathed (In re will of Andrada, 42 Phil., 180; Uy Coque vs. Navas L. Sioca, 43 Phil. 405; Gumban vs. Gorecho, 50 Phil. 30; Quinto vs. Morata, 54 Phil. 481; Echevarria vs. Sarmiento, 66 Phil. 611). The ratio decidendi of these cases seems to be that the attestation clause must contain a statement of the number of sheets or pages composing the will and that if this is missing or is omitted, it will have the effect of invalidating the will if the deficiency cannot be supplied, not by evidence aliunde, but by a consideration or examination of the will itself. But here the situation is different. While the attestation clause does not state the number of sheets or pages upon which the will is written, however, the last part of the body of the will contains a statement that it is composed of eight pages, which circumstance in our opinion takes this case out of the rigid rule of construction and places it within the realm of similar cases where a broad and more liberal view has been adopted to prevent the will of the testator from being defeated by purely technical considerations. Icasiano v. Icasiano (11 SCRA 422, 429) has the following ruling which applies a similar liberal approach: ... Impossibility of substitution of this page is assured not only (sic) the fact that the testatrix and two other witnesses did sign the defective page, but also by its bearing the coincident imprint of the seal of the notary public before whom the testament was ratified by testatrix and all three witnesses. The law should not be so strictly and literally interpreted as to penalize the testatrix on account of the inadvertence of a single witness over whose conduct she had no control where the purpose of the law to guarantee the Identity of the testament and its component pages is sufficiently attained, no intentional or deliberate deviation existed, and the evidence on record attests to the fun observance of the statutory requisites. Otherwise, as stated in Vda. de Gil. Vs. Murciano, 49 Off. Gaz. 1459, at 1479 (decision on reconsideration) 'witnesses may sabotage the will by muddling or bungling it or the attestation clause. WHEREFORE, the present petition is hereby granted. The orders of the respondent court which denied the probate of tile will, the motion for reconsideration of the denial of probate, and the motion for appointment of a special administrator are set aside. The respondent court is ordered to allow the probate of the wig and to conduct further proceedings in accordance with this decision. No pronouncement on costs. SO ORDERED.

Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila EN BANC G.R. No. L-5971 February 27, 1911

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

But it is especially to be noted that the position of the parties with relation to each other at the moment of the subscription of each signature, must be such that they may see each other sign if they choose to do so. This, of course, does not mean that the testator and the subscribing witnesses may be held to have executed the instrument in the presence of each other if it appears that they would not have been able to see each other sign at that moment, without changing their relative positions or existing conditions. The evidence in the case relied upon by the trial judge discloses that "at the moment when the witness Javellana signed the document he was actually and physically present and in such position with relation to Jaboneta that he could see everything that took place by merely casting his eyes in the proper direction and without any physical obstruction to prevent his doing so." And the decision merely laid down the doctrine that the question whether the testator and the subscribing witnesses to an alleged will sign the instrument in the presence of each other does not depend upon proof of the fact that their eyes were actually cast upon the paper at the moment of its subscription by each of them, but that at that moment existing conditions and their position with relation to each other were such that by merely casting the eyes in the proper direction they could have seen each other sign. To extend the doctrine further would open the door to the possibility of all manner of fraud, substitution, and the like, and would defeat the purpose for which this particular condition is prescribed in the code as one of the requisites in the execution of a will. The decree entered by the court below admitting the instrument propounded therein to probate as the last will and testament of Pedro Rimando, deceased, is affirmed with costs of this instance against the appellant. Arellano, C. J., Mapa, Moreland and Trent, JJ., concur.

Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila FIRST DIVISION G.R. No. 124371 November 23, 2000

PAULA T. LLORENTE, petitioner, vs. COURT OF APPEALS and ALICIA F. LLORENTE, respondents. DECISION PARDO, J.: The Case The case raises a conflict of laws issue. What is before us is an appeal from the decision of the Court of Appeals 1 modifying that of the Regional Trial Court, Camarines Sur, Branch 35, Iriga City2 declaring respondent Alicia F. Llorente (herinafter referred to as "Alicia"), as co-owners of whatever property she and the deceased Lorenzo N. Llorente (hereinafter referred to as "Lorenzo") may have acquired during the twenty-five (25) years that they lived together as husband and wife. The Facts The deceased Lorenzo N. Llorente was an enlisted serviceman of the United States Navy from March 10, 1927 to September 30, 1957. 3 On February 22, 1937, Lorenzo and petitioner Paula Llorente (hereinafter referred to as "Paula") were married before a parish priest, Roman Catholic Church, in Nabua, Camarines Sur. 4 Before the outbreak of the Pacific War, Lorenzo departed for the United States and Paula stayed in the conjugal home in barrio Antipolo, Nabua, Camarines Sur. 5 On November 30, 1943, Lorenzo was admitted to United States citizenship and Certificate of Naturalization No. 5579816 was issued in his favor by the United States District Court, Southern District of New York.6 Upon the liberation of the Philippines by the American Forces in 1945, Lorenzo was granted an accrued leave by the U. S. Navy, to visit his wife and he visited the Philippines. 7 He discovered that his wife Paula was pregnant and was "living in" and having an adulterous relationship with his brother, Ceferino Llorente.8 On December 4, 1945, Paula gave birth to a boy registered in the Office of the Registrar of Nabua as "Crisologo Llorente," with the certificate stating that the child was not legitimate and the line for the fathers name was left blank.9

Lorenzo refused to forgive Paula and live with her. In fact, on February 2, 1946, the couple drew a written agreement to the effect that (1) all the family allowances allotted by the United States Navy as part of Lorenzos salary and all other obligations for Paulas daily maintenance and support would be suspended; (2) they would dissolve their marital union in accordance with judicial proceedings; (3) they would make a separate agreement regarding their conjugal property acquired during their marital life; and (4) Lorenzo would not prosecute Paula for her adulterous act since she voluntarily admitted her fault and agreed to separate from Lorenzo peacefully. The agreement was signed by both Lorenzo and Paula and was witnessed by Paulas father and stepmother. The agreement was notarized by Notary Public Pedro Osabel. 10 Lorenzo returned to the United States and on November 16, 1951 filed for divorce with the Superior Court of the State of California in and for the County of San Diego. Paula was represented by counsel, John Riley, and actively participated in the proceedings. On November 27, 1951, the Superior Court of the State of California, for the County of San Diego found all factual allegations to be true and issued an interlocutory judgment of divorce. 11 On December 4, 1952, the divorce decree became final. 12 In the meantime, Lorenzo returned to the Philippines. On January 16, 1958, Lorenzo married Alicia F. Llorente in Manila. 13 Apparently, Alicia had no knowledge of the first marriage even if they resided in the same town as Paula, who did not oppose the marriage or cohabitation.14 From 1958 to 1985, Lorenzo and Alicia lived together as husband and wife. 15 Their twenty-five (25) year union produced three children, Raul, Luz and Beverly, all surnamed Llorente. 16 On March 13, 1981, Lorenzo executed a Last Will and Testament. The will was notarized by Notary Public Salvador M. Occiano, duly signed by Lorenzo with attesting witnesses Francisco Hugo, Francisco Neibres and Tito Trajano. In the will, Lorenzo bequeathed all his property to Alicia and their three children, to wit: "(1) I give and bequeath to my wife ALICIA R. FORTUNO exclusively my residential house and lot, located at San Francisco, Nabua, Camarines Sur, Philippines, including ALL the personal properties and other movables or belongings that may be found or existing therein; "(2) I give and bequeath exclusively to my wife Alicia R. Fortuno and to my children, Raul F. Llorente, Luz F. Llorente and Beverly F. Llorente, in equal shares, all my real properties whatsoever and wheresoever located, specifically my real properties located at Barangay Aro-Aldao, Nabua, Camarines Sur; Barangay Paloyon, Nabua, Camarines Sur; Barangay Baras, Sitio Puga, Nabua, Camarines Sur; and Barangay Paloyon, Sitio Nalilidong, Nabua, Camarines Sur; "(3) I likewise give and bequeath exclusively unto my wife Alicia R. Fortuno and unto my children, Raul F. Llorente, Luz F. Llorente and Beverly F. Llorente, in equal shares, my real properties located in Quezon City Philippines, and covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. 188652; and my lands in Antipolo, Rizal, Philippines, covered by Transfer Certificate of Title Nos. 124196 and 165188, both of the Registry of Deeds of the province of Rizal, Philippines; "(4) That their respective shares in the above-mentioned properties, whether real or personal properties, shall not be disposed of, ceded, sold and conveyed to any other persons, but could only be sold, ceded, conveyed and disposed of by and among themselves;

"(5) I designate my wife ALICIA R. FORTUNO to be the sole executor of this my Last Will and Testament, and in her default or incapacity of the latter to act, any of my children in the order of age, if of age; "(6) I hereby direct that the executor named herein or her lawful substitute should served ( sic) without bond; "(7) I hereby revoke any and all my other wills, codicils, or testamentary dispositions heretofore executed, signed, or published, by me; "(8) It is my final wish and desire that if I die, no relatives of mine in any degree in the Llorentes Side should ever bother and disturb in any manner whatsoever my wife Alicia R. Fortunato and my children with respect to any real or personal properties I gave and bequeathed respectively to each one of them by virtue of this Last Will and Testament."17 On December 14, 1983, Lorenzo filed with the Regional Trial Court, Iriga, Camarines Sur, a petition for the probate and allowance of his last will and testament wherein Lorenzo moved that Alicia be appointed Special Administratrix of his estate.18 On January 18, 1984, the trial court denied the motion for the reason that the testator Lorenzo was still alive.19 On January 24, 1984, finding that the will was duly executed, the trial court admitted the will to probate.20 On June 11, 1985, before the proceedings could be terminated, Lorenzo died. 21 On September 4, 1985, Paula filed with the same court a petition 22 for letters of administration over Lorenzos estate in her favor. Paula contended (1) that she was Lorenzos surviving spouse, (2) that the various property were acquired during their marriage, (3) that Lorenzos will disposed of all his property in favor of Alicia and her children, encroaching on her legitime and 1/2 share in the conjugal property.23 On December 13, 1985, Alicia filed in the testate proceeding (Sp. Proc. No. IR-755), a petition for the issuance of letters testamentary.24 On October 14, 1985, without terminating the testate proceedings, the trial court gave due course to Paulas petition in Sp. Proc. No. IR-888. 25 On November 6, 13 and 20, 1985, the order was published in the newspaper "Bicol Star". 26 On May 18, 1987, the Regional Trial Court issued a joint decision, thus: "Wherefore, considering that this court has so found that the divorce decree granted to the late Lorenzo Llorente is void and inapplicable in the Philippines, therefore the marriage he contracted with Alicia Fortunato on January 16, 1958 at Manila is likewise void. This being so the petition of Alicia F. Llorente for the issuance of letters testamentary is denied. Likewise, she is not entitled to receive any share from the estate even if the will especially said so her relationship with Lorenzo having gained the status of paramour which is under Art. 739 (1).

"On the other hand, the court finds the petition of Paula Titular Llorente, meritorious, and so declares the intrinsic disposition of the will of Lorenzo Llorente dated March 13, 1981 as void and declares her entitled as conjugal partner and entitled to one-half of their conjugal properties, and as primary compulsory heir, Paula T. Llorente is also entitled to one-third of the estate and then one-third should go to the illegitimate children, Raul, Luz and Beverly, all surname ( sic) Llorente, for them to partition in equal shares and also entitled to the remaining free portion in equal shares. "Petitioner, Paula Llorente is appointed legal administrator of the estate of the deceased, Lorenzo Llorente. As such let the corresponding letters of administration issue in her favor upon her filing a bond in the amount (sic) of P100,000.00 conditioned for her to make a return to the court within three (3) months a true and complete inventory of all goods, chattels, rights, and credits, and estate which shall at any time come to her possession or to the possession of any other person for her, and from the proceeds to pay and discharge all debts, legacies and charges on the same, or such dividends thereon as shall be decreed or required by this court; to render a true and just account of her administration to the court within one (1) year, and at any other time when required by the court and to perform all orders of this court by her to be performed. "On the other matters prayed for in respective petitions for want of evidence could not be granted. "SO ORDERED."27 In time, Alicia filed with the trial court a motion for reconsideration of the aforequoted decision. 28 On September 14, 1987, the trial court denied Alicias motion for reconsideration but modified its earlier decision, stating that Raul and Luz Llorente are not children "legitimate or otherwise" of Lorenzo since they were not legally adopted by him. 29 Amending its decision of May 18, 1987, the trial court declared Beverly Llorente as the only illegitimate child of Lorenzo, entitling her to one-third (1/3) of the estate and one-third (1/3) of the free portion of the estate. 30 On September 28, 1987, respondent appealed to the Court of Appeals. 31 On July 31, 1995, the Court of Appeals promulgated its decision, affirming with modification the decision of the trial court in this wise: "WHEREFORE, the decision appealed from is hereby AFFIRMED with the MODIFICATION that Alicia is declared as co-owner of whatever properties she and the deceased may have acquired during the twenty-five (25) years of cohabitation. "SO ORDERED."32 On August 25, 1995, petitioner filed with the Court of Appeals a motion for reconsideration of the decision.33 On March 21, 1996, the Court of Appeals,34 denied the motion for lack of merit. Hence, this petition.35 The Issue Stripping the petition of its legalese and sorting through the various arguments raised, 36 the issue is simple. Who are entitled to inherit from the late Lorenzo N. Llorente?

We do not agree with the decision of the Court of Appeals. We remand the case to the trial court for ruling on the intrinsic validity of the will of the deceased. The Applicable Law The fact that the late Lorenzo N. Llorente became an American citizen long before and at the time of: (1) his divorce from Paula; (2) marriage to Alicia; (3) execution of his will; and (4) death, is duly established, admitted and undisputed. Thus, as a rule, issues arising from these incidents are necessarily governed by foreign law. The Civil Code clearly provides: "Art. 15. Laws relating to family rights and duties, or to the status, condition and legal capacity of persons arebinding upon citizens of the Philippines, even though living abroad. "Art. 16. Real property as well as personal property is subject to the law of the country where it is situated. "However, intestate and testamentary succession, 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." (emphasis ours) True, foreign laws do not prove themselves in our jurisdiction and our courts are not authorized to take judicial notice of them. Like any other fact, they must be alleged and proved. 37 While the substance of the foreign law was pleaded, the Court of Appeals did not admit the foreign law. The Court of Appeals and the trial court called to the fore the renvoi doctrine, where the case was "referred back" to the law of the decedents domicile, in this case, Philippine law. We note that while the trial court stated that the law of New York was not sufficiently proven, in the same breath it made the categorical, albeit equally unproven statement that "American law follows the domiciliary theory hence, Philippine law applies when determining the validity of Lorenzos will. 38 First, there is no such thing as one American law. The "national law" indicated in Article 16 of the Civil Code cannot possibly apply to general American law. There is no such law governing the validity of testamentary provisions in the United States. Each State of the union has its own law applicable to its citizens and in force only within the State. It can therefore refer to no other than the law of the State of which the decedent was a resident. 39Second, there is no showing that the application of the renvoi doctrine is called for or required by New York State law.
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The trial court held that the will was intrinsically invalid since it contained dispositions in favor of Alice, who in the trial courts opinion was a mere paramour. The trial court threw the will out, leaving Alice, and her two children, Raul and Luz, with nothing. The Court of Appeals also disregarded the will. It declared Alice entitled to one half (1/2) of whatever property she and Lorenzo acquired during their cohabitation, applying Article 144 of the Civil Code of the Philippines.

The hasty application of Philippine law and the complete disregard of the will, already probated as duly executed in accordance with the formalities of Philippine law, is fatal, especially in light of the factual and legal circumstances here obtaining . Validity of the Foreign Divorce In Van Dorn v. Romillo, Jr.40 we held that owing to the nationality principle embodied in Article 15 of the Civil Code, only Philippine nationals are covered by the policy against absolute divorces, the same being considered contrary to our concept of public policy and morality. In the same case, the Court ruled that aliens may obtain divorces abroad, provided they are valid according to their national law. Citing this landmark case, the Court held in Quita v. Court of Appeals,41 that once proven that respondent was no longer a Filipino citizen when he obtained the divorce from petitioner, the ruling in Van Dorn would become applicable and petitioner could "very well lose her right to inherit" from him. In Pilapil v. Ibay-Somera,42 we recognized the divorce obtained by the respondent in his country, the Federal Republic of Germany. There, we stated that divorce and its legal effects may be recognized in the Philippines insofar as respondent is concerned in view of the nationality principle in our civil law on the status of persons. For failing to apply these doctrines, the decision of the Court of Appeals must be reversed. 43 We hold that the divorce obtained by Lorenzo H. Llorente from his first wife Paula was valid and recognized in this jurisdiction as a matter of comity. Now, the effects of this divorce (as to the succession to the estate of the decedent) are matters best left to the determination of the trial court. Validity of the Will The Civil Code provides: "Art. 17. The forms and solemnities of contracts, wills, and other public instruments shall be governed by the laws of the country in which they are executed . "When the acts referred to are executed before the diplomatic or consular officials of the Republic of the Philippines in a foreign country, the solemnities established by Philippine laws shall be observed in their execution." (underscoring ours) The clear intent of Lorenzo to bequeath his property to his second wife and children by her is glaringly shown in the will he executed. We do not wish to frustrate his wishes, since he was a foreigner, not covered by our laws on "family rights and duties, status, condition and legal capacity." 44 Whether the will is intrinsically valid and who shall inherit from Lorenzo are issues best proved by foreign law which must be pleaded and proved. Whether the will was executed in accordance with the formalities required is answered by referring to Philippine law. In fact, the will was duly probated. As a guide however, the trial court should note that whatever public policy or good customs may be involved in our system of legitimes, Congress did not intend to extend the same to the succession of foreign nationals. Congress specifically left the amount of successional rights to the decedent's national law.45

Having thus ruled, we find it unnecessary to pass upon the other issues raised. The Fallo WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G. R. SP No. 17446 promulgated on July 31, 1995 is SET ASIDE. In lieu thereof, the Court REVERSES the decision of the Regional Trial Court and RECOGNIZES as VALID the decree of divorce granted in favor of the deceased Lorenzo N. Llorente by the Superior Court of the State of California in and for the County of San Diego, made final on December 4, 1952. Further, the Court REMANDS the cases to the court of origin for determination of the intrinsic validity of Lorenzo N. Llorentes will and determination of the parties successional rights allowing proof of foreign law with instructions that the trial court shall proceed with all deliberate dispatch to settle the estate of the deceased within the framework of the Rules of Court. No costs. SO ORDERED. Davide, Jr., C.J., (Chairman), Puno, Kapunan, and Ynares-Santiago, JJ., concur.

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-partepresentation 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 E3-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 ofBellis 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.

Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila FIRST DIVISION G.R. Nos. L-46430-31 July 30, 1979 FRANCISCA ALSUA-BETTS, JOSEPH O. BETTS, JOSE MADARETA, ESTEBAN P. RAMIREZ, and THE REGISTER OF DEEDS FOR ALBAY PROVINCE, petitioners, vs. COURT OF APPEALS, AMPARO ALSUA BUENVIAJE, FERNANDO BUENVIAJE, FERNANDO ALSUA, represented by his guardian, CLOTILDE S. ALSUA and PABLO ALSUA, respondents. Rafael Triumfante for petitioners. Sabido-Sabido & Associates and Madrid Law Office for private respondents.

GUERRERO, J.:

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This is an appeal by certiorari from the decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. Nos. 54492-R and 54493-R which reversed the decision of the Court of First Instance of Albay allowing the probate of the win of Don Jesus Alsua in Special Proceedings No. 699 and dismissing the complaint in Civil Case 3068 after declaring the two deeds of sale executed by Don Jesus Alsua legal and valid. The respondent court 1 denied the probate of the will, declared null and void the two sales subject of the complaint and ordered the defendants, petitioners herein, to pay damages to the plaintiffs, now the private respondents, the sum of Five Thousand Pesos (P5,000.00), to render an accounting of the properties in their possession and to reimburse the latter the net gain in the proportion that appertains to them in the properties from the date of the firing of the complaint up to complete restoration plus Fifty Thousand Pesos (P50,000.00) as attorney's fees and costs. The antecedent events leading to the filing of these two consolidated actions are the following. On November 25, 1949, Don Jesus Alsua and his wife, Do;a Florentina Rella, both of Ligao, Albay, together with all their living children, Francisca Alsua-Betts, Pablo Alsua, Fernando Alsua thru this judicial guardian Clotilde Samson, and Amparo Alsua de Buenviaje, entered into a duly notarized agreement, Escritura de Particion Extrajudicial (Exhibit 8), over the then present and existing properties of the spouses Don Jesus and Do;a Florentina enumerated in a prepared inventory, Exhibit 8-A, the essential features of which are stated in private respondents' Brief, pp. 26-29, to wit:
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(1) Basis of the partition: Inventory (Annex A) of all the properties of the Alsua spouses, which inventory consists of 97 pages, all of them signed by the spouses and all the above named heirs in the left margin of every page (parafo primers). (2) An acknowledgment of the spouses that all the properties described in the inventory (Annex A) are conjugal properties with the exception of five parcels of land Identified with the figures of 1 to 5 and 30 shares of San Miguel Brewery stock which are paraphernal properties of the late Do;a Tinay (segundo parafo).

(3) An acknowledgment that during their marriage, they had nine children but five of them died minors, unmarried (parafo tercero y cuatro). (4) An acknowledgment that on the basis of Article 1056 of the Civil Code (old) to avoid Possible misunderstanding among their children concerning the inheritance they are entitled to in the event of death of one of them they have decided to effectuate an extrajudicial partition of all the properties described in Annex "A" thereto under the following terms and conditions: (Parafo quinto): To Francisca Alsua, married to Joseph O. Betts were allotted or assigned all the real properties with the improvements thereon specifically described from pages 1-12 of said inventory or, 34 parcels of land with a total land area of 5,720,364 sq. meters, with a book or appraised value of P69,740.00. To Pablo Alsua, married to Teresa Locsin were allotted or assigned all the real properties with the improvements thereon specifically described from pages 12-20 of said inventory or, 26 parcels of land with a total land area of 5,679,262 sq. meters, with a book or appraised value of P55,940.00. To Fernando Alsua, married to Clotilde Samson were allotted or assigned all the real properties with the improvements thereon specifically described from pages 20-33 of said inventory or, 47 parcels of land with a total land area of 6,639,810 sq. meters, with a book or appraised value of P89,300.00. To Amparo Alsua, married to Fernando Buenviaje were allotted or assigned all the real properties with the improvements thereon specifically described from pages 33-47 of said inventory or, 47 parcels of land with a total land area of 5,630,715 sq. meters, with a book or appraised value of P58,830.00.
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(a) Each and every one of the heirs named above acknowledge and admit that the totality of the properties allotted and adjudicated to the heirs as described in the preceding paragraph, constitute one half of the properties described in Annex "A", including any amount of cash deposited. (b) That all the heirs acknowledge and admit that all the properties assigned to them as their hereditary portion represent one-half not only of the conjugal properties but includes the paraphernal properties waiving now and forever any complaint or claim they have or they may have concerning the amount, value, extension and location of the properties that are allotted to each and everyone. They also waive any claim they have or they may have over the remaining portion of the properties, which spouses reserved for themselves. (c) That in case of death of one of the spouses, each and everyone of the heirs acknowledge that the properties which are left in the possession of the surviving spouse, including any amount in cash, are even less than the one- half that should correspond in absolute ownership as his legitimate participation in the conjugal properties. In consequence they waive any claim that they have or may have over said portion of said properties or any amount in cash during the lifetime of the surviving spouse, including any right or claim they have or they may have over the paraphernal properties of Do;a Tinay in the event the surviving spouse is Don Jesus. (d) The spouses on their part in case of death of any one of them, the surviving spouse waives any claim he or she may have over the properties assigned or adjudicated to the heirs under and by virtue of this deed. The properties which were

reserved for them (the spouses) should be considered as his or her legitimate participation in the conjugal properties and the fair compensation of his or her usufruct on the properties that the surviving spouse reserved for himself or herself which shag be distributed in equal shares among the heirs upon his or her death unless said properties of some of them have been disposed of during the lifetime of the surviving spouse. (e) Any heir who may dare question the validity and legitimacy of the provision contained herein shall be under obligation to pay to the other heirs, in the concept of damages and prejudice, the sum of P5,000.00 plus attorney's fees. (f) The provisions of this deed shall bind the successors of the herein heirs. (g) In the event of death of one of the spouses, the properties assigned or adjudicated to each and everyone of the heirs shall be considered as his share or participation in the estate or as his inheritance left by the deceased and each heir shall become the absolute owner of the properties adjudicated to him under this deed. On January 5, 1955, Don Jesus and Do;a Florentina, also known as Do;a Tinay separately executed their respective holographic wills (Exhs. 6-B and 7-B), the provisions of which were in conformity and in implementation of the extrajudicial partition of November 25, 1949. Their holographic wills similarly provided for the institution of the other to his or her share in the conjugal properties, the other half of the conjugal assets having been partitioned to constitute their legitime among their four living children in the Extrajudicial Partition of 1949. The wigs also declared that in the event of future acquisitions of other properties by either of them, one-half thereof would belong to the other spouse, and the other half shall be divided equally among the four children. The holographic will of Do;a Tinay written in Spanish reads, as translated:
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TESTAMENT
I, FLORENTINA R. DE ALSUA, 67 years old, Filipina, married to Don Jesus Alsua, resident of and with postal address in the Municipality of Ligao, Province of Albay, Philippines, being in the full possession of my mental and physical faculties freely and spontaneously execute this my last will and testament in my handwriting and signed by me and expressed in the Spanish language which I speak, write and understand, this 5th day of January, 1955 in the Municipality of Ligao, Province of Albay, and in which I ordain and provide:

First: That in or about the year 1906 I was married to my husband Don Jesus Alsua and begot nine (9) children with him, four (4) of whom are still living and they are Francisco Alsua, Pablo Alsua, Fernando Alsua and Amparo Alsua. The other five (5) died during their minority, single and without children. Second: That after my marriage to my husband Don Jesus Alsua and during our conjugal union, and as a result of our efforts and industry, we were able to acquire conjugal properties consisting of abaca (abales) and cacao lands and urban lands registered in the office of the Registry of Property of the Province of Albay and in the City of Manila. Third: That I institute as my heirs with right to inherit the following- my spouse Don Jesus Alsua, one-half (1/2) of my properties, real and personal, and the other half, to

my children Francisco Alsua, married to Joseph O. Betts, Pablo Alsua, Fernando Alsua, married to Clotilde Samson, and Amparo Alsua, married to Fernando Buenviaje, in equal parts. It is to be understood, however, that the other half that corresponds as legitime to my above named children have already been given to them, pursuant to a document dated November 25, 1949 and ratified on the same day, month and year before Notary Public Segundo G. Flores (Reg. No. 525; Pag. 15; Lib. 11; Series of 1949) enjoining each and everyone of them to respect and faithfully comply with each and every clause contained in the said document. Fourth: That should I acquire new properties after the execution of this testament, the same shall be partitioned among my spouse and above named children or the children mentioned in above par. 3 in the same proportion that is, one-half (1 1/2) to my spouse; and the other half to my children in equal parts. Fifth: That I name as my executor my husband Don Jesus Alsua without having to post any bond. IN VIRTUE WHEREOF, I hereby sign in my own handwriting this testament on this 5th day of January, 1955 in the Municipality of Ligao, Province of Albay, Philippines.
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(SGD.) FLORENTINA R. DE ALSUA (Joint Record on appeal pp. 420-423, CA-G.R. No. 54492-R) As previously stated, Don Jesus Alsua executed a separate but similar holographic will on the same day, Jan. 5, 1955 in exactly the same terms and conditions as the above will of his wife. On May 21, 1956, the spouses Don Jesus and Do;a Tinay filed before the Court of First Instance of Albay their respective petitions for the probate of their respective holographic wins which were docketed as Special Proceedings No. 484 (Jesus Alsua, Petitioner) and Special Proceedings No. 485 (Do;a Florentina Ralla de Alsua, Petitioner). On August 14, 1956, the spouses Don Jesus and Do;a Tinay executed their mutual and reciprocal codicils amending and supplementing their respective holographic wins. Again, the codicils similarly acknowledged and provided that one-half of all the properties of the spouses, conjugal and paraphernal, had been disposed of, conveyed to and partitioned among their legitimate heirs in the "Escritura de Particion" of November 25, 1949, but that they reserved for themselves (the spouses Don Jesus and Do;a Tinay) the other half or those not disposed of to the said legitimate heirs under the above agreement of partition, and that they mutually and reciprocally bequeathed unto each other their participation therein as well as in all properties which might be acquired subsequently. Each spouse also declared that should she or he be the surviving spouse, whatever belongs to him or her or would pertain to him or her, would be divided equally among the four children. It was also declared in both codicils that upon the death of either of the spouses, the surviving spouse was designated mutually and reciprocally as the executor or administrator of all the properties reserved for themselves. The codicil executed by Do;a Tinay, written in Spanish reads, as translated: CODICIL
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This codicil supplements and amends the preceding testament. That my spouse and I have agreed to divide the properties which we have acquired into 2 parts. The 1/2 that would correspond to me covers all the properties that I have partitioned among my children in the Document of Partition dated November 25, 1949 before Notary Public Segundo G. Flores, Jr. (Doc. No. 525; Pag. No. 15; Lib. No. 11; Series of 1949) (and) even as the properties which by reason of this testament I leave to my husband as his share and the other half that corresponds to my husband constitutes an the properties that up to now have not been disposed of, particularly the urban lands situated in Legaspi, Albay, Ligao of the Province of Albay and in the City of Manila, with the exception of that portion that I bequeath to my husband as his inheritance and his legitimate.

That I institute as my heirs with the right to inherit my husband Don Jesus Alsua and my children Francisco Alsua, Pablo Alsua, Fernando Alsua and Amparo Alsua. I leave to my aforecited children all the properties described in the above mentioned Document of Partition dated November 25, 1949 which correspond to each one of them and in the profits (fruits) expressed in the same, and in the event that the properties granted to one or any of my children should exceed in quantity or value those corresponding to another or others, I hereby declare that it is my will that the same be divided among my children as their inheritance from the free portion of my property. I leave to my spouse Don Jesus Alsua as his legitime and as Ws inheritance the part of the free portion of my property which have not been allocated in favor of my children in the Document of Partition aforecited and that which should exceed 1/2 of the conjugal property of gains that pertains to him as above stated, including all those properties which we shall acquire after the execution of this document. In case it should be God's will that I survive my spouse, I hereby declare that it is my will that any and all kinds of property that pertain to me or would pertain to me, which have not been disposed of pursuant to the partition, should be divided equally among my above-mentioned heirs after my death. Ligao, Albay, Philippines, August 14,1956.
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(SGD.) FLORENTINA RALLA DE ALSUA (joint Record on Appeal pp. 423-425, CA-G.R. No. 54492-R) And as stated previously, on the same day, August 14, 1956, Don Jesus executed also a separate but similar codicil in exactly the same terms and conditions as the above codicil of his wife. Also on the same day of August 14, 1956, the spouses Don Jesus and Do;a Tinay both filed their respective supplemental petitions for the probate of their respective codicils in the probate proceedings earlier filed. On February 19, 1957, their respective holographic wins and the codicils thereto were duly admitted to probate. Upon the death of Do;a Tinay on October 2, 1959, Don Jesus was named executor to serve without bond in an order issued by the probate court on October 13, 1959. Letters testamentary having been issued in favor of Don Jesus, he took his oath of office and performed his duties as such until July 1, 1960.

Thereafter in the early part of November, 1959, Don Jesus cancelled his holographic will in the presence of his bookkeeper and secretary, Esteban P. Ramirez, whom he instructed to make a list of all his remaining properties with their corresponding descriptions. His lawyer, Atty. Gregorio imperial Sr. was then instructed to draft a new will which was duly signed by Don Jesus and his attesting witnesses on November 14, 1959 at Ms home in Ligao, Albay. This notarial will and testament (Exh. A) of Don Jesus executed on November 14, 1959 had three essential features: (a) it expressly cancelled, revoked and annulled all the provisions of Don Jesus' holographic will of January 5, 1955 and his codicil of August 14, 1956; (b) it provided for the collation of all his properties donated to his four living children by virtue of the "Escritura de Particion Extra. judicial" of 1949, and that such properties be taken into account in the partition of his estate among the children; and (c) it instituted his children as legatees/devisees of certain specific properties, and as to the rest of the properties and whatever may be subsequently acquired in the future, before his death, were to be given to Francisca and Pablo, naming Francesca as executrix to serve without a bond. After all debts, funeral charges and other expenses of the estate of Do;a Tinay had been paid, all her heirs including Don Jesus, submitted to the probate court for approval a deed of partition executed on December 19, 1959 (Exh. 7-Q) and which essentially confirmed the provisions of the partition of 1949, the holographic will and codicil of Do;a Tinay. On July 6, 1960, the court approved the partition of 1959 and on January 6, 1961 declared the termination of the proceedings on the estate of Do;a Tinay. On May 6,1964, Don Jesus Alsua died. On May 20, 1964, petitioner herein Francisca Alsua Betts, as the executrix named in the will of November 14, 1959, filed a petition for the probate of said new will of Don Jesus Alsua before the Court of First Instance of Albay and was docketed as Special Proceedings No. 699. Oppositions thereto were filed by Pablo, Amparo and Fernando, thru his judicial guardian Clotilde Samson, on the following grounds: (a) that Don Jesus was not of sound and disposing mind at the time of the execution of the alleged will; (b) that the will was executed under duress or influence of fear or threats; or it was procured by undue and improper pressure and influence on the part of the main beneficiaries and of person or persons in collusion with them, or the signature of the testator was secured by or thru fraud; (c) that the will was not executed according to the formal requirements of the law; and (d) that the alleged will subject of probate contravened the Extrajudicial Partition of 1949 agreed upon by him, his deceased spouse, Do;a Tinay, and all his children, Francisco, Pablo, Amparo and Fernando thru his judicial guardian Clotilde Samson, and also contravened Don Jesus' own probated holographic will and codicil of 1955 and 1956, respectively, essentially confirming and implementing the said partition of 1949 which had already been partially executed by all the signatories thereto in the partition of the estate of Do;a Tinay in December, 1959. On the basis of Francisca's designation as executrix in the new will dated November 14, 1959, the Probate Court appointed her Administratrix of the estate of her late father, Don Jesus Alsua. She then filed with the Probate Court an inventory of the properties of the estate which, according to the oppositors therein (the private respondents now) did not include some properties appearing in the agreement of November 25. 1949 or in the inventory attached thereto as Annex "A" and in the "Escritura de Particion" of December 19, 1959 as belonging to or should pertain to Don Jesus. According to the oppositors, these properties consist of thirty- three (33) premium agricultural lots with a total land area of 1,187,970 square meters, or approximately 119 hectares and with a total assessed value of P48,410.00 or a probable total market value of P238,000.00 at only P2,000.00 per hectare, and four (4) commercial urban lots Ideally located in the business section of Legazpi City including the lot and the building presently occupied by the well-known "Mayon Hotel" with an assessed value of approximately P117,260.00 or a probable market value at the time of

P469,040.00. It appearing from the new will that these properties were bequeathed to Pablo Alsua and Francisco Alsua-Betts, specifically, 3 parcels of the 33 agricultural lands to Pablo and the rest to Francisco, the oppositors also raised in issue the non-inclusion of said properties in the inventory of the estate of their late father. In answer, Francisco claimed ownership over the same, alleging that she bought the properties from their father and presenting the two Deeds of Sale now being assailed, one dated August 26, 1961 purporting to show the sale of the 33 parcels of agricultural land to Francisco by their father for the price of P70,000.00 and the other dated November 26, 1962 evidencing the sale of the four urban lots for the sum of P80,000.00. Claiming fraud in the sales, the oppositors filed Civil Case No. 3068, seeking the annulment of the aforesaid two deeds of sale, with damages, which upon agreement of the parties was then jointly heard and tried with Special Proceedings No. 699 for probate of the Last Will and Testament of Don Jesus executed on November 14, 1959. After a joint hearing of the merits of these two cases, the Court of First Instance of Albay promulgated a decision on January 15, 1973, the dispositive portion of which states:
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WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing, judgment is hereby rendered, to wit: 1. In Special Proceedings 699, the Court hereby APPROVES and ALLOWS the Will executed by Don Jesus Alsua at Ligao, Albay, on November 14, 1959, which had been marked as Exhibit A, consisting of nine (9) pages, and orders that the same be made the basis for division and distribution of the estate of said testator; 2. In Civil Case 3068, the Court hereby dismisses the complaint and holds that the sale on August 26, 1961 (Exh. U) and the sale on November 26, 1962 (Exh. W), are lawful and valid sales and accordingly conveyed title to the VENDEE thereof. The Plaintiffs in Civil Case 3068. are ordered jointly and severally to pay to the defendant, Francisco Alsua Betts Fifty Thousand Pesos (P50,000.00) as damages and Fifty Thousand (P50,000.00) Pesos for attorney's fees or a total of One Hundred Thousand Pesos (P100,000.00) and to pay the costs. On appeal by herein respondents to the Court of Appeals, the court reversed the appealed decision in a judgment rendered on April 4, 1977, the dispositive portion of which states, as translated, thus
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IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, this Tribunal finds itself constrained to set aside as it hereby sets aside the decision appealed from in the following manner: (1) in Special Proceedings 699, the probate of the will, Exh. A, is hereby denied; (2) in Civil Case No. 3068, Exhs. U and W and the titles issued on the basis thereof are hereby declared null and void, ordering the appellees Francisco Alsua and Joseph Betts to pay to the plaintiffs in the concept of fixed damages, the sum of P5,000.00 and to render an accounting of properties in their possession and to reimburse the plaintiffs the net gain, in the proportion that appertains to them in the properties subject of litigation in Civil Case No. 3068 from the date of the filing of this complaint, up to the complete restoration of the properties pertaining to (plaintiffs) pursuant to Article 2208 of the New Civil Code, paragraph 11, ordering them in addition to pay to the plaintiffs and oppositors the sum of P50,000.00 as attorney's fees, and the costs. Hence, the petition at bar assailing the respondent court's decision on four assigned errors, to wit:
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I. The respondent Court of Appeals erred in not affirming the findings of the probate court (Special Proceedings No. 699) that private respondents, oppositors to the

probate of the will, are in estoppel to question the competence of testator Don Jesus Alsua. II. The respondent Court of Appeals grossly erred in holding that testator Don Jesus Alsua cannot revoke his previous will. III. The respondent court's finding is grounded entirely on speculation, surmises or conjectures resulting in a gross misapprehension of facts. IV. The respondent court grossly erred in annulling the sales of August 26, 1961 (Exh. U), and of November 26, 1962 (Exh. W). On the first issue of estoppel raised in the assignment of errors, We hold that the same is of no moment. The controversy as to the competency or incompetency of Don Jesus Alsua to execute his will cannot be determined by acts of the herein private respondents as oppositors to the will in formally agreeing in writing jointly with the petitioner Francisca Alsua de Betts that their father, Don Jesus Alsua, be appointed by the court executor of the will of their mother in Special Proceedings No. 485, Testate Estate of Do;a Florentina Ralla de Alsua and in subsequently petitioning the court not to require Don Jesus Alsua to file any accounting as executor in the proceedings, which petitioners claim and was upheld by the trial court as constituting estoppel on the part of the private respondents from questioning the competence of Don Jesus Alsua. The principle of estoppel is not applicable in probate proceedings, a ruling laid down in the case of Testate Estate of the Late Procopia Apostol Benedicta Obispo, et al vs. Remedios Obispo, 50 O.G. 614, penned by Justice J.B.L. Reyes, an eminent and recognized authority on Civil Law when he was still in the Court of Appeals, and We quote:
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Finally, probate proceedings involve public interest, and the application therein of the rile of estoppel, when it win block the ascertainment of the truth as to the circumstances surrounding the execution of a testament, would seem inimical to public policy. Over and above the interest of private parties is that of the state to see that testamentary dispositions be carried out if, and only if, executed conformably to law. The Supreme Court of New York aptly said in Re Canfield's Will, 300 N.Y.S., 502:
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'The primary purpose of the proceeding is not to establish the existence of the right of any living person, but to determine whether or not the decedent has performed the acts specified by the pertinent statutes, which are the essential prerequisites to personal direction of the mode of devolution of his property on death. There is no legal but merely a moral duty resting upon a proponent to attempt to validate the wishes of the departed, and he may and frequently does receive no personal benefit from the performance of the act. One of the most fundamental conceptions of probate law, is that it is the duty of the court to effectuate, in so far as may be compatible with the public interest, the devolutionary wishes of a deceased person (Matter of Watson's Wilt 262 N.Y., 284, 294, 186, N.E., 787; Matter of Marriman's Estate, 124 Misc. 320, 325, 208, N.Y.S., 672; Foley, S., affirmed 217 app. Div., 733, 216 N.Y.S., 126, Henderson, S., Matter of Draske's Estate, 160 Misc. 587, 593, 290, N.Y.S., 581). To that

end, the court is, in effect, an additional party to every litigation affecting the disposal of the assets of the deceased. Matter of Van Valkenburgh's Estate, 164 Misc. 295, 298, N.Y.S., 219.' The next issue that commands Our attention is whether the respondent court erred in not allowing the probate of the last will and testament of Don Jesus Alsua. Petitioners claim that the disallowance was based on speculations, surmises or conjectures, disregarding the facts as found by the trial court. The Civil Court is very clear and explicit in providing the cases where a will may be disallowed under Article 839 which provides as follows:
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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 wilt 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. The issue under consideration appears to Us to have been answered by the respondent court itself when it accepted the findings of the trial court on the due execution of the questioned will and testament of Don Jesus, declaring:
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... and going back to the previous question, whether the questioned will and testament of November 14, 1959, Exh. A, was executed in accordance with Arts. 805-809 of the New Civil Code, this Tribunal from the very beginning accepts the findings of the inferior court concerning the question,
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On October 2, 1959, Do;a Florentina died at Ligao, Albay. About 2 weeks after said death of his wife, Don Jesus Alsua decided to make a new will, thereby revoking and cancelling his previous holographic will which he made on January 5, 1955 and also its codicil dated August 14, 1956. In the presence of his bookkeeper and secretary, Esteban P. Ramirez, he crossed out in ink each and every page of said page he wrote on each page the word "cancelado", and affixed his signature thereon (Exh V-5, V-6, consecutively up to and including Exh. V-14). He then instructed Ramirez to make a list of all s properties with their corresponding descriptions. Meanwhile, Don Jesus Alsua sent for his lawyer, Don Gregorio Imperial, Sr. and the latter came accompanied by his son, Atty. Jorge S, Imperial, who, incidentally, is now a judge of the Court of First

Instance of Naga City, Camarines Sur. Don Jesus informed his lawyers that he wanted to make a new will, and accordingly gave more detailed instructions as to how he wanted to divide his properties among his four children. He handed to them a list and on the left he indicated the name of the child to whom the listed properties shall pertain. Atty. Jorge Imperial took notes of the instructions of Don Jesus Alsua. To Don Jesus, Spanish is his major language, as in fact his conversations with Don Gregorio are always in Spanish. A few days before November 14, 1959, Atty. Jorge S. Imperial showed to Don Jesus the semi-final draft of the will and after reading it Don Jesus said that it was as directed by him, and after making a few minor corrections, he instructed Atty. Jorge S. Imperial to put the win in final form. He further told Atty, Jorge Imperial that the signing of the will should be at his home in Ligao, in the morning of November 14, 1959, and that the witnesses should be Mr. Ramon Balana, the then Register of Deeds of Albay; Mr. Jose Madarieta who is a friend of the family; and Mr. Jose Gaya who is a sort of employee of Don Jesus. Thus in the morning of November 14, 1959, Don Gregorio and Atty. Jorge S. Imperial, riding in a sedan, stopped at the Legaspi residence of Mr. Ramon Balana, and informed the latter that Don Jesus was requesting him to be one of the attesting witnesses to his will. Mr. Balana, having a very high regard for Don Jesus, considered it an honor to be so asked, and gladly went with the Imperials. They arrived at the residence of Don Jesus at Ligao; Albay, almost ten o'clock of that morning, and they were ushered in by Mr. Jose Gaya, and the latter requested them to be seated at the usual receiving room on the ground floor while he announced their arrival to Don Jesus who was on the second floor. Soon Don Jesus came down, carrying with him the will to be signed placed inside a cartolina folder. He greeted Don Gregorio, Mr. Balan, and Atty. Imperial and immediately joined them in conversation. Mr. Gaya called for Mr. Jose Madarieta, whose residence is just across the road from the house of Don Jesus. Mr. Madarieta was already informed by Don Jesus himself about the fact of signing the will that morning, and so, on being advised by Mr. Gaya that the Imperials had already arrived, Madarieta proceeded to the residence of Don Jesus, without much delay. With the coming of Madarieta and the coming back of Gaya, there were now six people gathered in the living room, namely: Don Jesus Alsua, Don Gregorio Imperial Atty. Jorge S. Imperial Mr. Ramon Balana, Mr. Jose Madarieta, and Mr. Jose Gaya. All the witnesses who testified for the petitioner declared that Don Jesus was in bright and lively conversation which ran from problems of farming and the merits of French-made wines. At 1 1:00 o'clock, Don Gregorio made a remark that it is about time to do what they were there for, and this was followed by a more or less statement from Jesus, who said:
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'Preisamente es por lo que he Hamado a ustedes que esten presentes para ser testigos de rni ultimo voluntad y testamento que ha sido preparado por el abogado Sr. Gregorio Imperial segun mis

instrucciones cuyo documento tengo aqui conmigo y encuentro que, despues de lo he leido, esta satisfactoriamente hecho segun mis instrucciones, Como saben ustedes tengo cuatro (4) hijos todos egos.' (pp. 43-44, t.s.n., hearing of December 7, 1967, Sarte. On request of Don Jesus, all of them moved to the big round table on another part of the same sala for convenience in signing because there were chairs all around this table. The will which consisted of nine pages, with a duplicate, and triplicate was laid on the round table and the signing began, with Atty. Jorge S. Imperial assisting each person signing by indicating the proper place where the signature shall be written. Don Jesus, as testator, signed first. After signing the original and the two other sets, the three sets were then passed to Mr. Ramon Balana who signed as attesting witness. After Mr. Balana, Mr. Jose Madarieta signed next as another attesting witness, and when Mr. Madarieta finished signing all the three sets, the same were passed to Mr. Jose Gaya who also signed as the third attesting witness. On each of the three sets, Don Jesus signed ten times, one on the margin of each of the nine pages, and at the end of the instrument proper. Each of the three attesting witnesses (Balana, Madarieta and Gaya) signed eleven times on each set, one on the margin of each of the nine pages, one at the end of the instrument proper and one below the attestation clause. The original will was marked as Exh. A (or set A); the duplicate as Exh. K (or set K) and the triplicate of Don Jesus, Mr. Balana, Mr. Madarieta, and Mr. Gaya were Identified by Mr. Balana, Mr. Madarieta and Atty. (now Judge) imperial. It was also clearly established that when Don Jesus signed the will Mr. Balana, Mr. Madarieta, and Mr. Gaya were present and witnessed said signing, and that when each of these three witnesses was signing, Don Jesus and the two other attesting witnesses were present and Witnessing said Signing. The signing by the testator and the attesting witnesses having been completed, Atty. Jorge S. Imperial as Notary Public with commission for the entire province of Albay, notarized the wilt and sealed it with his notarial seat which seal he brought along that morning. After all the three sets were notarized, they were all given back to Don Jesus who placed them inside the same folder. At that moment, it was already about 12:30 P.M. and Don Jesus invited all of them to lunch, which invitation was gladly accepted by all of then-L (pp. 474-480, Joint Record on Appeal in CA-G.R. No. 54492-R) which findings are supported by the evidence, - it is quite difficult to conclude that the same had not complied with the requirements of Arts. 804- 806 of the New Civil Code. ... (CA Decision, pp. 13-16, as translated). This cited portion of the appealed decision accepts as a fact that the findings of the lower court declaring the contested will as having been executed with all the formal requirements of a valid will, are supported by the evidence. This finding is conclusive upon this Tribunal and We cannot alter, review or revise the same. Hence, there is no further need for Us to dwell on the matter as both the lower court and the respondent appellate court have declared that these are the facts and such facts are fully borne and supported by the records. We find no error in the conclusion arrived at that the

contested will was duly executed in accordance with law. We rule that the questioned last will and testament of Don Jesus Alsua fully complied with the formal requirements of the law. Respondent court, however, denied probate of the will after ,'noting certain details which were a little bit difficult to reconcile with the ordinary course of things and of life." First was the fact that the spouses Don Jesus and Do;a Tinay together with their four children Francisco, Pablo, Amparo and Fernando had executed the Extrajudicial Partition of November 25, 1949 (Exh. A) which divided the conjugal properties of the spouses between the spouses themselves and the children under the terms and conditions and dispositions herein before stated and to implement its provisions, Don Jesus and Do;a Tinay subsequently executed separately their respective holographic wigs both dated January 5, 1955 and codicils dated August 14, 1956 with the same terms and conditions as reproduced herein earlier. Both holographic wills and codicils having been probated thereafter and upon the death of Do;a Tinay, Don Jesus was appointed executor of the will and in due time the partition of the properties or estate of Do;a Tinay was approved by the probate court on July 6, 1960. The respondent court ruled that the Extrajudicial Partition of November 25, 1949 was an enforceable contract which was binding on Don Jesus Alsua as the surviving spouse, barring him from violating said partition agreement, barring him from revoking his holographic will of January 5, 1955 and his codicil of August 14, 1956, and further barring him from executing his new will and testament of November 14, 1959, now the subject of the probate proceedings elevated to this Court. We do not agree with this ruling of the Court of Appeals. We hold that the Extrajudicial Partition of November 25, 1949 is null and void under Article 1056 in relation to Article 1271 of the old Civil Code which are applicable hereto. These Articles provide as follows:
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Art. 1056. If the testator should make a partition of his property by an act inter vivos, or by will, such partition shall stand in so far as it does not prejudice the legitime of the forced heirs. ... Art. 1271. All things, even future ones, which are not excluded from the commerce of man, may be the subject-matter of contracts. Nevertheless, no contract may be entered into with respect to future inheritances, except those the object of which is to make a division inter vivos of an estate, in accordance with Article 1056. All services not contrary to law or to good morals may also be the subject- matter of contract. Article 1056 specifically uses the word "testator" from which the clear intent of the law may be deduced that the privilege of partitioning one's estate by acts inter vivos is restricted only to one who has made a prior will or testament. In other words, Article 1056 being an exception cannot be given a wider scope as to include in the exception any person whether he has made a will or not. Respondent court citing the same Article concluded that under both the old and new Civil Code, a person who executes a will is permitted at the same time or a little thereafter or even before as long as he mentions this fact in the will, to partition his properties pursuant to the provisions of Article 1056 of the old Civil Code. The court further added that jurisprudence is to the effect that the partition presupposes the execution of the will that it ratifies or effectuates, citing the case of Legasto vs. Verzosa, 54 Phil. 776. Finally, respondent court held the opinion that the extrajudicial partition of

November 14, 1949 was ratified in the holographic will executed by Don Jesus on Jan. 5, 1955 and in the codicil of August 14, 1956. Again, We do not agree with this ruling of the respondent court. In Legasto vs. Verzosa, supra, the Supreme Court categorically declared the necessity of a prior will before the testator can partition his properties among his heirs, and We quote the pertinent portions of the decision:
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The first question to decide in the instant appeal is whether the partition made by Sabina Almadin of her property among her nieces, the defendants and appellants herein, was valid and enforceable. Article 1056 of the Civil Code provides: Art. 1056. If the testator should make a partition of his property by an act inter vivos, or by will, such partition shall stand in so far as it does not prejudice the legitime of the forced heirs. The Supreme Court of Spain, in a decision rendered on June 13, 1903, laid down the following doctrine: Considering that the language of article 1056 cannot be interpreted to mean that a person may, by acts inter vivos, partition his property referred to in the section wherein said article is found, without the authority of a testament containing an expression of his last will, or the authority of law, for, otherwise, a partition thus made would be tantamount to making a will in a manner not provided for, authorized, nor included in the chapter referring to testaments, and especially, to the forms thereof, which is entirely different from the legal consequences of a free disposition made by parents during their lifetime, whereby they give to their children the whole or a part of their property; Considering that, inasmuch as the second paragraph of article 1271 makes reference to the aforesaid article, in providing that no contracts may be entered into with respect to future inheritances except those the object of which is to make a division inter vivos of the estate in accordance with article 1056, it is evident that said difference likewise leads to the conclusion that a partition thus made should be on the basis of a testamentary or legal succession and should be made in conformity with the fundamental rules thereof and the order of the heirs entitled to the estate, because neither of the two provisions could be given a wider meaning or scope than that they simply provide for the division of the estate during the lifetime of the owner, which, otherwise, would have to be done upon the death of the testator in order to carry into effect the partition of the estate among the persons interested. Manresa comments on the same article as follows: A distinction must be made between the disposition of property and its division; and the provision of article 1056 authorizing the testator to dispose of his property by acts inter vivos or by last will, must be understood in accordance with this distinction. The Idea is to divide the estate among the heirs designated by the testator. This designation constitutes the disposition of the properties to take effect after his death, and said act must necessarily appear in the testament because it is the expression of the testator's last will and must be surrounded by appropriate formalities. Then comes the second part, to wit, the division in conformity with that disposition, and the

testator may make this division in the same will or in another will, or by an act inter vivos. With these words, the law, in article 1056 as well as in article 1057, which we shall hereafter examine, makes allusion to the forms or manner of making the partition and not to the effects thereof, which means that, for purposes of partition the formal solemnities which must accompany every testament or last will are not necessary. Neither is it necessary to observe the special for. realities required in case of donations, because it is not a matter of disposing gratuitously of properties, but of dividing those which already have been legally disposed of. It is thus seen that both the Spanish Supreme Court and the learned and authoritative commentator, Manresa, are of opinion that a testator may, by an act inter vivos, partition his property, but he must first make a will with all the formalities provided for by law. And it could not be otherwise, for without a will there can be no testator; when the law, therefore, speaks of the partition inter vivos made by a testator of his property, it necessarily refers to that property which he has devised to his heirs. A person who disposes of his property gratis inter vivos is not called a testator, but a donor. In employing the word "testator," the law evidently desired to distinguish between one who freely donates his property in life and one who disposes of it by will to take effect after his death. We are not in conformity with the holding of the respondent court that the extrajudicial partition of November 25, 1949 which under the old Civil Code was expressly prohibited as against public policy had been validly ratified by the holographic will of Don Jesus executed on January 5, 1955 and his codicil of August 14, 1956. Such a holding of the appellate court that a person who executes a will is permitted to partition his properties pursuant to the provisions of Article 1056 of the old Civil Code even before executing his will as long as he mentions this fact in the will, is not warranted under the ruling of Legasto vs. Verzosa, supra and the commentary of Manresa as quoted above. We rule, therefore, that the respondent court erred in denying probate to the will of Don Jesus dated November 14, 1959; it erred in holding that Don Jesus being a party to the extrajudicial partition of 1949 was contractually bound by the provisions thereof and hence could not revoke his participation therein by the simple expedience of making a new will with contrary provisions or dispositions. It is an error because the so-called extrajudicial partition of 1949 is void and inoperative as a partition; neither is it a valid or enforceable contract because it involved future inheritance; it may only be given effect as a donation inter vivos of specific properties to the heirs made by the parents. Considering that the document, the extrajudicial partition of November 25, 1949, contained specific designation of properties allotted to each child, We rule that there was substantial compliance with the rules on donations inter vivos under the old Civil Code (Article 633). On the other hand, there could have been no valid donation to the children of the other half reserved as the free portion of Don Jesus and Do;a Tinay which, as stated in the deed, was to be divided equally among the children for the simple reason that the property or properties were not specifically described in the public instrument, an essential requirement under Article 633 which provides as follows:
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Art. 633. In order that a donation or real property be valid it must be made by public instrument in which the property donated must be specifically described and in the amount of the encumbrances to be assumed by the donee expressed. The acceptance must be made in the deed of gift or in a separate public writing; but it shall produce no effect if not made during the lifetime of the donor. If the acceptance is made by separate public instrument, authentic notice thereof shall be given the donor, and this proceeding shall be noted in both instruments.

This other half, therefore, remained as the disposable free portion of the spouses which may be disposed of in such manner that either of the spouses would like in regards to his or her share in such portion, unencumbered by the provision enjoining the last surviving spouse to give equally to the children what belongs or-would pertain to him or her. The end result, therefore, is that Don Jesus and Do;a Tinay, in the Deed of 1949, made to their children valid donations of only one-half of their combined properties which must be charged against their legitime and cannot anymore be revoked unless inofficious; the other half remained entirely at the free disposal of the spouses with regards to their respective shares. Upon the death of Do;a Tinay on October 2, 1959, her share in the free portion was distributed in accordance with her holographic will dated January 25, 1955 and her codicil dated August 14, 1956. It must be stressed here that the distribution of her properties was subject to her holographic win and codicil, independently of the holographic will and codicil of Don Jesus executed by him on the same date. This is fundamental because otherwise, to consider both wills and codicils jointly would be to circumvent the prohibition of the Civil Code on joint wills (Art. 818) and secondly because upon the death of Do;a Tinay, only her estate was being settled, and not that of Don Jesus. We have carefully examined the provisions of the holographic will and codicil of Do;a Tinay and We find no indication whatsoever that Do;a Tinay expressly or impliedly instituted both the husband and her children as heirs to her free portion of her share in the conjugal assets. In her holographic will, mention of her children as heirs was made in the fourth clause but it only provided that, to wit:
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Cuatro. Que si yo adquieriese nuevase propiedades despues de otorgado este mi testamento seran las mismas repartados entre mi esposo o hijos arriba mencionada en el parrafo tercero su la misma proporcion o sea: la mitad (1/2) para is esposa; y la otra mitad (1/2) para mis hijos en partes iguales. For purposes of clarity and convenience, this fourth clause provided that "Should I acquire new properties after the execution of this testament, the same shall be partitioned among my spouse and above named children or the children mentioned in above par. 3 in the same proportion, that is, onehalf (1/2) to my spouse; and the other half to my children in equal parts." From the above-quoted provision, the children would only inherit together with Don Jesus whatever new properties Do;a Tinay would acquire after the execution of her will. Likewise, the codicil of Do;a Tinay instituted her husband as sole heir to her share in the free portion of the conjugal assets, and We quote that part of the codicil:
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Dejo a mi esposo Jesus Alsua como su legitima y como herencia que se sacara de ni cuenta de libre disposicion todos aquellos bienes de los que no he dispuesto aun en favor de mis hijos en la escritura de reparticion precitada y que excedieran de la mitad de gananciales que le corresponds tal como arriba declare, incluyendo todos aquenos bienes que se adquiriesen por nosotros despues de otorgado por mi este testamento. Para el caso de que Dios dispusiera que yo sobreviviera a mi esposo declaro que es mi voluntad que todas las propiedades de todo genero que me pertenecen y me pudieran pertenecer, no dispuestas aun en la reparticion, se dividan por igual entre mis herederos mencionados despues de mi muerte. Again for purposes of clarity and convenience, the above portion states:
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I leave to my spouse Don Jesus Alsua as his legitime and as his inheritance the part of the free portion of my property which have not been allocated in favor of my children in the Document of Partition aforecited and that which should exceed 1/2 of the conjugal property of gains that pertains to him as above stated, including all those properties which we shall acquire after the execution of this document. In case it should be God's will that I survive my spouse, I hereby declare that it is my will that any and all kinds of property that pertains to me or would pertain to me, which have not been disposed of pursuant to the partition, should be divided equally among my above-mentioned heirs after my death. The children, therefore, would only receive equal shares in the remaining estate of Do;a Tinay in the event that she should be the surviving spouse. To stress the point, Do;a Tinay did not oblige her husband to give equally to the children, upon his death, all such properties she was bequeathing him. Considering now the efficacy of Don Jesus' last will and testament executed on November 14, 1959 in view of Our holding that Do;a Tinay's wig and codicil did not stipulate that Don Jesus will bestow the properties equally to the children, it follows that all the properties of Do;a Tinay bequeathed to Don Jesus under her holographic win and codicil became part of Don Jesus' estate unburdened by any condition obligation or proviso. Respondents insist that Don Jesus was bound by the extrajudicial partition of November 25, 1949 and had in fact conformed to said Partition by making a holographic will and codicil with exactly the same provisions as those of Do;a Tinay, which respondent court sustained. We rule, however, that Don Jesus was not forever bound thereby for his previous holographic will and codicil as such, would remain revokable at his discretion. Art. 828 of the new Civil Code is clear: "A win may be revoked by the testator at any time before his death. Any waiver or restriction of this right is void." There can be no restriction that may be made on his absolute freedom to revoke his holographic will and codicil previously made. This would still hold true even if such previous will had as in the case at baralready been probated (Palacios v. Palacios, 106 Phil. 739). For in the first place, probate only authenticates the will and does not pass upon the efficacy of the dispositions therein. And secondly, the rights to the succession are transmitted only from the moment of the death of the decedent (Article 777, New Civil Code). In fine, Don Jesus retained the liberty of disposing of his property before his death to whomsoever he chose, provided the legitime of the forced heirs are not prejudiced, which is not herein claimed for it is undisputed that only the free portion of the whole Alsua estate is being contested. After clearly establishing that only Don Jesus was named as sole heir instituted to the remaining estate of Do;a Tinay in her holographic will and codicil resulting in all such properties becoming the properties of Don Jesus alone, and after clearly pointing out that Don Jesus can, in law, revoke his previous holographic will and codicil, by making another win expressly cancelling and revoking the former, the next issue for the Court's resolution is the validity of the provisions of the contested will. Though the law and jurisprudence are clear that only questions about the extrinsic validity of the will may be entertained by the probate court, the Court had, on more than one occasion, passed upon the intrinsic validity of a will even before it had been authenticated. Thus We declared in Nuguid v. Nuguid, 17 SCRA 499:
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The parties shunted aside the question of whether or not the will should be allowed to probate. For them, the meat of the case is the intrinsic validity of the wilt Normally this comes only after the court has declared that the will has been duly authenticated. ...

... If the case were to be remanded for probate of the wilt nothing will be gained. On the contrary, this litigation win be protracted and for ought that appears in the record, in the event of probate or if the court rejects the will probability exists that the case win come up once again before us on the issue of the intrinsic validity or nullity of the wilt Result: waste of time, effort, expense, plus added anxiety. These are the practical considerations that induce us to a behalf that we might as well meet headon the time of the validity of the provisions of the will in question. ... The last Will and Testament of Don Jesus executed on November 14, 1959 contained an express revocation of his holographic wig of January 5, 1955 and the codicil of August 14, 1956; a statement requiring that all of his properties donated to his children in the Deed of 1949 be collated and taken into account in the partition of his estate; the institution of all his children as devisees and legatees to certain specific properties; a statement bequeathing the rest of his properties and all that may be acquired in the future, before his death, to Pablo and Francesca; and a statement naming Francesca as executrix without bond. Considering these testamentary provisions, a close scrutiny of the properties distributed to the children under the Deed of 1949 and those distributed under the contested will of Don Jesus does not show that the former had in fact been included in the latter. This being so, it must be presumed that the intention of Don Jesus in his last win was not to revoke the donations already made in the Deed of 1949 but only to redistribute his remaining estate, or that portion of the conjugal assets totally left to his free disposal and that which he received as his inheritance from Do;a Tinay. The legitimes of the forced heirs were left unimpaired, as in fact, not one of said forced heirs claimed or intimated otherwise. The properties that were disposed of in the contested will belonged wholly to Don Jesus Alsua's free portion and may be diamond of by him to whomsoever he may choose. If he now favored Francesca more, as claimed by private respondents, or Pablo as in fact he was, We cannot and may not sit in judgment upon the motives and sentiments of Don Jesus in doing so. We have clearly laid down this rule in Bustamante v. Arevalo, 73 Phil. 635, to wit:
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... nevertheless it would be venturesome for the court to advance its own Idea of a just distribution of the property in the face of a different mode of disposition so clearly expressed by the testatrix in the latter will. ... It would be a dangerous precedent to strain the interpretation of a will in order to effect what the court believes to be an equitable division of the estate of a deceased person. The only functions of the courts in these cases is to carry out the intention of the deceased as manifested in the wig. Once that intention has been determined through a careful reading of the will or wills, and provided the law on legitimes has not been violated, it is beyond the place of judicial cognizance to inquire into the fairness or unfairness of any devise or bequeast. The court should not sit in judgment upon the motives and sentiments of the testatrix, first, because as already stated, nothing in the law restrained her from disposing of her property in any manner she desired, and secondly, because there are no adequate means of ascertaining the inward process of her conscience. She was the sole judge of her own attitude toward those who expected her bounty. ... Respondent court, in trying to rationalize the will of Don Jesus which allegedly benefited and favored the petitioner to the prejudice of the other heirs who would have been entitled to an equal share under the extrajudicial partition of 1949, faced two alternatives-one, to consider Don Jesus as a man of culture and honor and would not snow himself to violate the previous agreement, and the other as one whose mental faculties or his possession of the same had been diminished considering that

when the will was executed, he was already 84 years of age and in view of his weakness and advanced age, the actual administration of his properties had been left to his assistant Madarieta who, for his part received instructions from Francisco and her husband, Joseph Betts. According to the court, the better explanation is the latter, which is not legally tenable. Under Article 799 of the New Civil Code which provides as follows:
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Art. 799. To be of sound mind, it is not necessary that the testator be in full possession of all his reasoning faculties, or that his mind be wholly unbroken, unimpaired, or unshattered by disease, injury or other cause. It shall be sufficient if the testator was able at the time of making the will to know the nature of the estate to be disposed of, the proper objects of his bounty, and the character of the testamentary act, The test of testamentary capacity is at the time of the making of the win. Mere weakness of mind or partial imbecility from disease of body or from age-does not render a person incapable of making a will.
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Between the highest degree of soundness of mind and memory which unquestionably carries with it full testamentary capacity, and that degrees of mental aberration generally known as insanity or Idiocy, there are numberless degrees of mental capacity or incapacity and while on one hand it has been held that mere weakness of mind, or partial imbecility from disease of body, or from age, will not render a person incapable of making a will; a weak or feebleminded person may make a valid will, provided he has understanding and memory sufficient to enable him to know what he is about to do and how or to whom he is disposing of his property. To constitute a sound and disposing mind, it is not necessary that the mind be unbroken or unimpaired or unshattered by disease or otherwise. It has been held that testamentary incapacity does not necessarily require that a person shall actually be insane or of unsound mind. (Bugnao vs. Ubag, 14 Phil. 163). The Civil Code itself provides under Article 798 that in order to make a will, it is essential that the testator be of sound mind at the time of its execution, and under Article 800, the law presumes that every person is of sound mind in the absence of proof to the contrary. In the case at bar, the acceptance by the respondent court of the findings of fact of the trial court on the due execution of the last win and testament of Don Jesus has foreclosed any and all claim to the contrary that the will was not executed in accordance with the requirements of the law. But more than that, gleaned from the quoted portions of the appealed decision, the described behavior of Don Jesus is not that of a mentally incapacitated person nor one suffering from "senile dementia" as claimed by private respondents. From these accepted facts, We find that: (a) it was Don Jesus himself who gave detailed instructions to his lawyer as to how he wanted to divide his properties among his children by means of a list of his properties should pertain; (b) the semi-final draft of the contested will prepared by his lawyer w-as even corrected by Don Jesus; (c) on the day of the signing of the will at his house in Ligao, "Don Jesus was in bright and lively spirits ..., leading in the conversation which ran from problems of farming and the merits of French-made wines"; (d) the signing of the will by Don Jesus and his attesting witnesses was made after a statement from Don Jesus of the purpose of their meeting or gathering, to wit:
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Precisamente es por lo que he Ilamado a ustedes que eaten presentes para ser testigos de mi ultima voluntad y testamento que ha sido preparado por el abogado Sr. Gregorio Imperial segun mis instrucciones cuyo documents tengo aqui con migo

y encuentro que, despues de lo he leido, esta satisfactoriamente hecho segun mis ingtrucciones, Como saben ustedes tengo cuatro (4) hijos todos ellos. Clearly then, Don Jesus knew exactly what his actions were and the fun implications thereof. In rejecting probate of the wilt respondent court further pointed out other details which, in the words of the decision "are a little bit difficult to reconcile with the ordinary course of things and of fife" such as the fact that Don Jesus had sought the probate of his will of January 5, 1955 and his codicil of August 14, 1956 during his lifetime but insofar as the will of November 14, 1959 is concerned, he had no intention of seeking the probate thereof during his lifetime, the alleged redundant and unnecessary proceedings undertaken by Don Jesus in the properties under question to petitioner Franciso Alsua-Betts when the same properties had already been bequeathed to her in the will of November 14, 1959 and that "nothing, absolutely nothing, could be made the basis for finding that Don Jesus Alsua had regarded his other children with less favor, and that he was more sympathetic to Francisca so as to or forget the former depriving them of benefits already given to them and rewarding the latter with disproportionate advantages or benefits, to such an extreme as to violate his previous disposition consecrated in the previous extrajudicial partition, Exh. 8." We agree with the petitioner that these details which respondent court found difficult to reconcile with the ordinary course of things and of life are mere conjectures, surmises or speculations which, however, do not warrant or justify disallowance of the probate of the win of Don Jesus. The fact that Don Jesus did not cause his will to be probated during his lifetime while his previous holographic win and codicil were duly probated when he was still alive is a mere speculation which depends entirely on the discretion of Don Jesus as the testator. The law does not require that a will be probated during the lifetime of the testator and for not doing so there cannot arise any favorable or unfavorable consequence therefrom. The parties cannot correctly guess or surmise the motives of the testator and neither can the courts. Such surmise, speculation or conjecture is no valid and legal ground to reject allowance or disallowance of the wig. The same thing can be said as to whatever reason Don Jesus had for selling the properties to his daughter Francisca when he had already assigned the same properties to her in his will. While We can speculate that Don Jesus desired to have possession of the properties transferred to Francisca after the sale instead of waiting for his death may be a reasonable explanation or speculation for the act of the testator and yet there is no certainty that such was actually the reason. This is as good a conjecture as the respondents may offer or as difficult to accept which respondent court believes. A conjecture is always a conjecture; it can never be admitted as evidence. Now, the annulment case. The only issue raised anent the civil case for annulment of the two Deeds of Sale executed by and between Don Jesus and petitioner Francisco is their validity or nullity. Private respondents mainly contend that the sales were fictitious or simulated, there having been no actual consideration paid. They further insist that the issue raised is a question of fact and, therefore, not reviewable in a certiorari proceeding before the Supreme Court. On the other hand, petitioners herein maintain that it was error for the respondent court to set aside on appeal the factual findings of the trial court that the two sales were valid. It is true that the jurisprudence of this Court in cases brought to Us from the Court of Appeals is limited to reviewing and revising the errors of law imputed to it, its findings of fact being conclusive; and this same principle applies even if the Court of Appeals was in disagreement with the lower court as to the weight of evidence with a consequent reversal of its findings of fact. But what should not be ignored by lawyers and litigants alike is the more basic principle that the "findings of fact" described as "final" or "conclusive" are those borne out by the record or those which are based upon substantial evidence. The general rule laid down by the Supreme Court does not declare the absolute correctness of all the findings of fact made by the Court of Appeals. These are exceptions

to the general rule, where We have reviewed and revised the findings of fact of the Court of Appeals. Among the exceptions to the rule that findings of fact by the Court of Appeals cannot be reviewed on appeals by certiorari are: 1. When the conclusion is a finding grounded entirely on speculation, surmises or conjectures (Joaquin vs. Navarro, 93 Phil. 257); 2. When the inference made is manifestly mistaken, absurd or impossible (Luna vs. Linatok, 74 Phil. 15); 3. Where there is a grave abuse of discretion (Buyco vs. People, 51 O.G. 2927); 4. When the judgment is based on a misapprehension of facts (Cruz vs. Sosing, L-4875, Nov. 27, 1953); 5. When the findings of fact are conflicting (Casica vs. Villaseca, L-9590, April 30, 1957); and 6. When the Court of Appeals, in making its findings, went beyond the issues of the case and the same is contrary to the admissions of both appellant and appellee (Evangelists vs. Alto Surety & Ins. Co., L-11139, April 23, 1958; Ramos vs. Pepsi Cola, L-22533, Feb. 9, 1967, 19 SCRA 289). In the case at bar, We find and so declare that the respondent court's conclusion as to the nullity of the contested sales was not supported by the evidence on record and adduced during the trial. Evident from the records are the following documentary evidence: (1) Exhibit U, a deed of sale over agricultural lands executed on August 26, 1961 by Don Jesus in favor of Francisca for the consideration of Seventy Thousand Pesos (P70,000.00), which document bears the signature of Don Jesus, not assailed as a forgery, and the signature of Pablo Alsua as an instrumental witness, again not assailed as a forgery nor alleged as done thru fraud, force or threat. (2) Exhibit "W", a deed of sale over urban lots executed on November 16, 1962 for the consideration of Eighty Thousand Pesos (P80,000.00), which document also bears the signature of Don Jesus, also admittedly not a forgery. (3) Exhibit "F", a document dated August 26, 1961 and signed by Don Jesus and Pablo Alsua as witness, acknowledging receipt of a Bank of Philippine Island Check No. 0252 in the amount of Seventy Thousand Pesos (P70,000.00) for the sale of 33 parcels of agricultural land to Francisco under the same date; again, Pablo did not deny the genuineness of his signature. (4) Exhibit "X", a Bank of the Philippine Islands Check No. D-6979 dated November 26, 1962, in the amount of P32,644.71, drawn and signed by Francesca, payable to Don Jesus. (5) Exhibit "X-1", a second Bank of Philippine Islands Check (No. D-6980) also dated November 26, 1962 in the amount of ?47,355.29, drawn by Francisco and payable to Don Jesus. (6) Exhibit "X-3 " and "X-5 ", endorsements on the back of the last two checks by Don Jesus, again, his signatures thereon were not assailed. (7) Exhibit "A" (in the annulment case), a Bureau of Internal Revenue Receipt (No. 2347260) dated November 29, 1962 with a notation acknowledging the receipt of BPI Check No. D-6980 in the amount of P47,355.29 from Don Jesus Alsua in payment of Balance of Transfer of Tax Ass. No. EA-35415-19 plus interest. We are convinced and satisfied from this array of documentary evidence that in fact, Don Jesus sold the subject properties to his daughter, Francisca for the total consideration of P150,000.00. The claim of the private respondents that the sales were fictitious and void for being without cause or consideration is as weak and flimsy as the ground upon which the respondent court upheld said claim on the basis that there was no need for funds in Don Jesus' old age aside from the speculation that there was nothing in the evidence that showed what motivated Don Jesus to change his mind as to favor Francesca and discriminate against the other children. The two contracts of same executed

by Don Jesus in favor of Francesca are evidenced by Exhibits "U" and "W", the genuineness of which were not at all assailed at any time during this long drawn-out litigation of 15 years standing. That the consideration stated in the contracts were paid is also sufficiently proved as the receipts thereof by Don Jesus were even signed by one of the private respondents, Pablo Alsua, as a witness. The latter cannot now deny the payment of the consideration And even of he now allege that in fact no transfer of money was involved, We find his allegation belied by Exhibits "X-3 " and "X-5 ", which show that the checks of Francisco made payable to Don Jesus. were in fact given to Don Jesus as he endorsed them on the back thereof, and most specifically Exhibit "A" in the annulment case, which proved that Don Jesus actually used Exhibit "XI " to complete payment on the estate and inheritance tax on the estate of his wife to the Bureau of Internal Revenue. Private respondents further insist that the sales were fraudulent because of the inadequacy of the given price. Inadequacy of consideration does not vitiate a contract unless it is proven which in the case at bar was not, that there was fraud, mistake or undue influence. (Article 1355, New Civil Code). We do not find the stipulated price as so inadequate to shock the court's conscience, considering that the price paid was much higher than the assessed value of the subject properties and considering that the sales were effected by a father to her daughter in which case filial love must be taken into account. WHEREFORE, IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the decision appealed from is hereby set aside. The decision of the Court of First Instance Of Albay in Special Proceedings No. 699 and Civil Case No. 3068 is hereby reinstated, with costs against respondents. SO ORDERED. Teehankee (Chairman), Makasiar and Fernandez, JJ., concur. De Castro, J., took no part. Melencio Herrera, J., concur in the result.
1wph1.t

Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila FIRST DIVISION G.R. No. L-37453 May 25, 1979 RIZALINA GABRIEL GONZALES, petitioner, vs. HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS and LUTGARDA SANTIAGO, respondents. Francisco D. Rilloraza, Jr. for petitioners. Angel A. Sison for private respondent.

GUERRERO, J.: This is a petition for review of the decision of the Court of Appeals, First Division, 1 promulgated on May 4, 1973 in CA G.R. No. 36523-R which reversed the decision of the Court of First Instance of Rizal dated December 15, 1964 and allowed the probate of the last will and testament of the deceased Isabel Gabriel. * It appears that on June 24, 1961, herein private respondent Lutgarda Santiago filed a petition with the Court of First Instance of Rizal docketed as Special Proceedings No. 3617, for the probate of a will alleged to have been executed by the deceased Isabel Gabriel and designating therein petitioner as the principal beneficiary and executrix. There is no dispute in the records that the late Isabel Andres Gabriel died as a widow and without issue in the municipality of Navotas, province of Rizal her place of residence, on June 7, 1961 at the age of eighty-five (85), having been born in 1876. It is likewise not controverted that herein private respondent Lutgarda Santiago and petitioner Rizalina Gabriel Gonzales are nieces of the deceased, and that private respondent, with her husband and children, lived with the deceased at the latters residence prior an- d up to the time of her death. The will submitted for probate, Exhibit "F", which is typewritten and in Tagalog, appears to have been executed in Manila on the 15th day of April, 1961, or barely two (2) months prior to the death of Isabel Gabriel. It consists of five (5) pages, including the pages whereon the attestation clause and the acknowledgment of the notary public were written. The signatures of the deceased Isabel Gabriel appear at the end of the will on page four and at the left margin of all the pages. The attestation clause, which is found on page four, reads as follows: PATUNAY NG MGA SAKSI Kaming mga nakalagdang mga saksi o testigo na ang aming mga tinitirahan ay nakasulat sa gawing kanan at kahilira ng aming mga pangalan sa ibaba nito, ay pagpapatutuo na ipinakilala ipinaalam at ipinahayag sa amin ni Isabel Gabriel na ang kasulatang ito na binubuo ng Limang Dahon (Five Pages) pati na ang dahong ito, na siya niyang TESTAMENTO AT HULING HABILIN, ngayong ika 15 ng Abril, 1961, ay

nilagdaan ng nasabing testadora na si Isabel Gabriel ang nasabing testamento sa ibaba o ilalim ng kasulatan na nasa ika apat na dahon (page four) at nasa itaas ng patunay naming ito, at sa kaliwang panig ng lahat at bawat dahon (and on the left hand margin of each and every page), sa harap ng lahat at bawat isa sa amin, at kami namang mga saksi ay lumagda sa harap ng nasabing testadora, at sa harap ng lahat at bawat isa sa amin, sa ilalim ng patunay ng mga saksi at sa kaliwang panig ng lahat at bawa't dahon ng testamentong ito. At the bottom thereof, under the heading "Pangalan", are written the signatures of Matilde D. Orobia, Celso D. Gimpaya and Maria R. Gimpaya, and opposite the same, under the heading "Tirahan", are their respective places of residence, 961 Highway 54, Philamlife, for Miss Orobia, and 12 Dagala St., Navotas, Rizal, for the two Gimpayas. Their signatures also appear on the left margin of all the other pages. The WW is paged by typewritten words as follows: "Unang Dahon" and underneath "(Page One)", "Ikalawang Dahon" and underneath "(Page Two)", etc., appearing at the top of each page. The will itself provides that the testatrix desired to be buried in the Catholic Cemetery of Navotas, Rizal in accordance with the rites of the Roman Catholic Church, all expenses to be paid from her estate; that all her obligations, if any, be paid; that legacies in specified amounts be given to her sister, Praxides Gabriel Vda. de Santiago, her brother Santiago Gabriel, and her nephews and nieces, Benjamin, Salud, Rizalina (herein petitioner), Victoria, Ester, Andres, all surnamed Gabriel, and Evangeline, Rudyardo Rosa, Andrea, Marcial, Numancia, Verena an surnamed Santiago. To herein private respondent Lutgarda Santiago, who was described in the will by the testatrix as "aking mahal na pamangkin na aking pinalaki, inalagaan at minahal na katulad ng isang tunay na anak" and named as universal heir and executor, were bequeathed all properties and estate, real or personal already acquired, or to be acquired, in her testatrix name, after satisfying the expenses, debts and legacies as aforementioned. The petition was opposed by Rizalina Gabriel Gonzales, herein petitioner, assailing the document purporting to be the will of the deceased on the following grounds: 1. that the same is not genuine; and in the alternative 2. that the same was not executed and attested as required by law; 3. that, at the time of the alleged execution of the purported wilt the decedent lacked testamentary capacity due to old age and sickness; and in the second alternative 4. That the purported WW was procured through undue and improper pressure and influence on the part of the principal beneficiary, and/or of some other person for her benefit. Lutgarda Santiago filed her Answer to the Opposition on February 1, 1962. After trial, the court a quo rendered judgment, the summary and dispositive portions of which read: Passing in summary upon the grounds advanced by the oppositor, this Court finds: 1. That there is no iota of evidence to support the contentio that the purported will of the deceased was procured through undue and improper pressure and influence on the part of the petitioner, or of some other person for her benefit;

2. That there is insufficient evidence to sustain the contention that at the time of the alleged execution of the purported will, the deceased lacked testamentary capacity due to old age and sickness; 3. That sufficient and abundant evidence warrants conclusively the fact that the purported will of the deceased was not executed and attested as required by law; 4. That the evidence is likewise conclusive that the document presented for probate, Exhibit 'F' is not the purported win allegedly dictated by the deceased, executed and signed by her, and attested by her three attesting witnesses on April 15, 1961. WHEREFORE, Exhibit "F", the document presented for probate as the last wig and testament of the deceased Isabel Gabriel is here by DISALLOWED. From this judgment of disallowance, Lutgarda Santiago appealed to respondent Court, hence, the only issue decided on appeal was whether or not the will in question was executed and attested as required by law. The Court of Appeals, upon consideration of the evidence adduced by both parties, rendered the decision now under review, holding that the will in question was signed and executed by the deceased Isabel Gabriel on April 15, 1961 in the presence of the three attesting witnesses, Matilde Orobia, Celso Gimpaya and Maria Gimpaya, signing and witnessing the document in the presence of the deceased and of each other as required by law, hence allow ed probate. Oppositor Rizalina Gabriel Gonzales moved for reconsideration 3 of the aforesaid decision and such motion was opposed 4 by petitioner-appellant Lutgarda Santiago. Thereafter. parties submitted their respective Memoranda, 5and on August 28, 1973, respondent Court, Former Special First Division, by Resolution 6 denied the motion for reconsideration stating that: The oppositor-appellee contends that the preponderance of evidence shows that the supposed last wig and testament of Isabel Gabriel was not executed in accordance with law because the same was signed on several occasions, that the testatrix did not sign the will in the presence of all the instrumental witnesses did not sign the will in the presence of each other.
The resolution of the factual issue raised in the motion for reconsideration hinges on the appreciation of the evidence. We have carefully re-examined the oral and documentary evidence of record, There is no reason to alter the findings of fact in the decision of this Court sought to be set aside. 7

In her petition before this Court, oppositor Rizalina Gabriel Gonzales contends that respondent Court abused its discretion and/or acted without or in excess of its jurisdiction in reverssing the findings of fact and conclusions of the trial court. The Court, after deliberating on the petition but without giving due course resolved, in the Resolution dated Oct. 11, 1973 to require the respondents to comment thereon, which comment was filed on Nov. 14, 1973. Upon consideration of the allegations, the issues raised and the arguments adduced in the petition, as well as the Comment 8 of private respondent thereon, We denied the petition by Resolution on November 26, 1973, 9 the question raised being factual and for insufficient showing that the findings of fact by respondent Court were unsupported by substantial evidence. Subsequently, or on December 17, 1973, petitioner Rim Gabriel Goes fried a Motion for Reconsideration 10 which private respondent answered by way of her Comment or Opposition 11 filed on January 15, 1974. A Reply and Rejoinder to Reply followed. Finally, on March 27, 1974, We resolved to give due course to the petition.

The petitioner in her brief makes the following assignment of errors: I. The respondent Court of Appeals erred in holding that the document, Exhibit "F" was executed and attested as required by law when there was absolutely no proof that the three instrumental witnesses were credible witness II. The Court of Appeals erred in reversing the finding of the lower court that the preparation and execution of the win Exhibit "F", was unexpected and coincidental. III. The Court of Appeals erred in finding that Atty, Paraiso was not previously furnished with the names and residence certificates of the witnesses as to enable him to type such data into the document Exhibit "F". IV. The Court of Appeals erred in holding that the fact that the three typewritten lines under the typewritten words "Pangalan" and "Tinitirahan" were left blank shows beyond cavil that the three attesting witnesses were all present in the same occasion. V. The Court of Appeals erred in reversing the trial court's finding that it was incredible that Isabel Gabriel could have dictated the wilt Exhibit "F , without any note or document, to Atty. Paraiso. VI. The Court of Appeals erred in reversing the finding of the trial court that Matilde Orobia was not physically present when the Will Exhibit "F" was allegedly signed on April 15, 1961 by the deceased Isabel Gabriel and the other witnesses Celso Gimpaya and Maria Gimpaya. VII. The Court of Appeals erred in holding that the trial court gave undue importance to the picture takings as proof that the win was improperly executed. VIII. The Court of Appeals erred in holding that the grave contradictions, evasions, and misrepresentations of witnesses (subscribing and notary) presented by the petitioner had been explained away, and that the trial court erred in rejecting said testimonies. IX. The Court of Appeals acted in excess of its appellate jurisdiction or has so far departed from the accepted and usual course of judicial proceedings, as to call for an exercise of the power of supervision. X. The Court of Appeals erred in reversing the decision of the trial court and admitting to probate Exhibit "F", the alleged last will and testament of the deceased Isabel Gabriel. It will be noted from the above assignments of errors that the same are substantially factual in character and content. Hence, at the very outset, We must again state the oft-repeated and wellestablished rule that in this jurisdiction, the factual findings of the Court of Appeals are not reviewable, the same being binding and conclusive on this Court. This rule has been stated and reiterated in a long line of cases enumerated in Chan vs. CA (L-27488, June 30, 1970, 33 SCRA 737, 743) 12 and Tapas vs. CA (L-22202, February 27; 1976, 69 SCRA 393), 13and in the more recent cases of Baptisia vs. Carillo and CA (L32192, July 30, 1976, 72 SCRA 214, 217) and Vda. de Catindig vs. Heirs of Catalina Roque (L-25777, November 26, 1976, 74 SCRA 83, 88). In the case of Chan vs. CA, this Court said: ... from Guico v. Mayuga, a 1936 decision, the opinion being penned by the then Justice Recto, it has been well-settled that the jurisdiction of tills Court in cases brought to us from the Court of Appeals is limited to reviewing and revising the errors of law imputed to it, its findings of fact being

conclusive. More specifically, in a decision exactly a month later, this Court, speaking through the then Justice Laurel, it was held that the same principle is applicable, even if the Court of Appeals was in disagreement with the lower court as to the weight of the evidence with a consequent reversal of its findings of fact ... Stated otherwise, findings of facts by the Court of Appeals, when supported by substantive evidence are not reviewable on appeal by certiorari. Said findings of the appellate court are final and cannot be disturbed by Us particularly because its premises are borne out by the record or based upon substantial evidence and what is more, when such findings are correct. Assignments of errors involving factual issues cannot be ventilated in a review of the decision of the Court of Appeals because only legal questions may be raised. The Supreme Court is not at liberty to alter or modify the facts as set forth in the decision of the Court of Appeals sought to be reversed. Where the findings of the Court of Appeals are contrary to those of the trial court, a minute scrutiny by the Supreme Court is in order, and resort to duly-proven evidence becomes necessary. The general rule We have thus stated above is not without some recognized exceptions. Having laid down the above legal precepts as Our foundation, We now proceed to consider petitioner's assignments of errors. Petitioner, in her first assignment, contends that the respondent Court of Appeals erred in holding that the document, Exhibit "F", was executed and attested as required by law when there was absolutely no proof that the three instrumental witnesses were credible witnesses. She argues that the require. ment in Article 806, Civil Code, that the witnesses must be credible is an absolute requirement which must be complied with before an alleged last will and testament may be admitted to probate and that to be a credible witness, there must be evidence on record that the witness has a good standing in his community, or that he is honest and upright, or reputed to be trustworthy and reliable. According to petitioner, unless the qualifications of the witness are first established, his testimony may not be favorably considered. Petitioner contends that the term "credible" is not synonymous with "competent" for a witness may be competent under Article 820 and 821 of the Civil Code and still not be credible as required by Article 805 of the same Code. It is further urged that the term "credible" as used in the Civil Code should receive the same settled and well- known meaning it has under the Naturalization Law, the latter being a kindred legislation with the Civil Code provisions on wigs with respect to the qualifications of witnesses. We find no merit to petitioner's first assignment of error. Article 820 of the Civil Code provides the qualifications of a witness to the execution of wills while Article 821 sets forth the disqualification from being a witness to a win. These Articles state: Art. 820. Any person of sound mind and of the age of eighteen years or more, and not blind, deaf or dumb, and able to read and write, may be a witness to the execution of a will mentioned in article 806 of this Code. "Art. 821. The following are disqualified from being witnesses to a will: (1) Any person not domiciled in the Philippines, (2) Those who have been convicted of falsification of a document, perjury or false testimony. Under the law, there is no mandatory requirement that the witness testify initially or at any time during the trial as to his good standing in the community, his reputation for trustworthythiness and reliableness, his honesty and uprightness in order that his testimony may be believed and accepted by the trial court. It is enough that the qualifications enumerated in Article 820 of the Civil Code are

complied with, such that the soundness of his mind can be shown by or deduced from his answers to the questions propounded to him, that his age (18 years or more) is shown from his appearance, testimony , or competently proved otherwise, as well as the fact that he is not blind, deaf or dumb and that he is able to read and write to the satisfaction of the Court, and that he has none of the disqualifications under Article 821 of the Civil Code. We reject petitioner's contention that it must first be established in the record the good standing of the witness in the community, his reputation for trustworthiness and reliableness, his honesty and uprightness, because such attributes are presumed of the witness unless the contrary is proved otherwise by the opposing party. We also reject as without merit petitioner's contention that the term "credible" as used in the Civil Code should be given the same meaning it has under the Naturalization Law where the law is mandatory that the petition for naturalization must be supported by two character witnesses who must prove their good standing in the community, reputation for trustworthiness and reliableness, their honesty and uprightness. The two witnesses in a petition for naturalization are character witnesses in that being citizens of the Philippines, they personally know the petitioner to be a resident of the Philippines for the period of time required by the Act and a person of good repute and morally irreproachable and that said petitioner has in their opinion all the qualifications necessary to become a citizen of the Philippines and is not in any way disqualified under the provisions of the Naturalization Law (Section 7, Commonwealth Act No. 473 as amended). In probate proceedings, the instrumental witnesses are not character witnesses for they merely attest the execution of a will or testament and affirm the formalities attendant to said execution. And We agree with the respondent that the rulings laid down in the cases cited by petitioner concerning character witnesses in naturalization proceedings are not applicable to instrumental witnesses to wills executed under the Civil Code of the Philippines. In the case at bar, the finding that each and everyone of the three instrumental witnesses, namely, Matilde Orobia, Celso Gimpaya and Maria Gimpaya, are competent and credible is satisfactorily supported by the evidence as found by the respondent Court of Appeals, which findings of fact this Tribunal is bound to accept and rely upon. Moreover, petitioner has not pointed to any disqualification of any of the said witnesses, much less has it been shown that anyone of them is below 18 years of age, of unsound mind, deaf or dumb, or cannot read or write. It is true that under Article 805 of the New Civil Code, 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, While the petitioner submits that Article 820 and 821 of the New Civil Code speak of the competency of a witness due to his qualifications under the first Article and none of the disqualifications under the second Article, whereas Article 805 requires the attestation of three or more credible witnesses, petitioner concludes that the term credible requires something more than just being competent and, therefore, a witness in addition to being competent under Articles 820 and 821 must also be a credible witness under Article 805. Petitioner cites American authorities that competency and credibility of a witness are not synonymous terms and one may be a competent witness and yet not a credible one. She exacerbates that there is no evidence on record to show that the instrumental witnesses are credible in themselves, that is, that they are of good standing in the community since one was a family driver by profession and the second the wife of the driver, a housekeeper. It is true that Celso Gimpaya was the driver of the testatrix and his wife Maria Gimpaya, merely a housekeeper, and that Matilde Orobia was a piano teacher to a grandchild of the testatrix But the relation of employer and employee much less the humble or financial position of a person do not disqualify him to be a

competent testamentary witness. (Molo Pekson and Perez Nable vs. Tanchuco, et al., 100 Phil. 344; Testate Estate of Raymundo, Off. Gaz., March 18,1941, p. 788). Private respondent maintains that the qualifications of the three or more credible witnesses mentioned in Article 805 of the Civil Code are those mentioned in Article 820 of the same Code, this being obvious from that portion of Article 820 which says "may be Q witness to the execution of a will mentioned in Article 805 of this Code," and cites authorities that the word "credible" insofar as witnesses to a will are concerned simply means " competent." Thus, in the case of Suntay vs. Suntay, 95 Phil. 500, the Supreme Court held that "Granting that a will was duly executed and that it was in existence at the time of, and not revoked before, the death of the testator, still the provisions of the lost wig must be clearly and distinctly proved by at least two credible witnesses. 'Credible witnesses' mean competent witnesses and not those who testify to facts from or upon hearsay. " emphasis supplied). In Molo Pekson and Perez Nable vs. Tanchuco, et al., 100 Phil. 344, the Supreme Court held that "Section 620 of the same Code of Civil Procedure provides that any person of sound mind, and of the age of eighteen years or more, and not blind, deaf, or dumb and able to read and write, may be a witness to the execution of a will. This same provision is reproduced in our New Civil Code of 1950, under Art. 820. The relation of employer and employee, or being a relative to the beneficiary in a win, does not disqualify one to be a witness to a will. The main qualification of a witness in the attestation of wills, if other qualifications as to age, mental capacity and literacy are present, is that said witness must be credible, that is to say, his testimony may be entitled to credence. There is a long line of authorities on this point, a few of which we may cite: A 'credible witness is one who is not is not to testify by mental incapacity, crime, or other cause. Historical Soc of Dauphin County vs. Kelker 74 A. 619, 226 Pix 16, 134 Am. St. Rep. 1010. (Words and Phrases, Vol. 10, p. 340). As construed by the common law, a 'credible witness' to a will means a 'competent witness.' Appeal of Clark, 95 A. 517, 114 Me. 105, Ann. Cas. 1917A, 837. (lbid, p. 341). Expression 'credible witness' in relation to attestation of wins means 'competent witness that is, one competent under the law to testify to fact of execution of will. Vernon's Ann. Civ St. art. 8283. Moos vs. First State Bank of Uvalde, Tex . Civ. App. 60 S.W. 2nd 888, 889. (Ibid, p. 342) The term 'credible', used in the statute of wills requiring that a will shall be attested by two credible witnesses means competent; witnesses who, at the time of attesting the will, are legally competent to testify, in a court of justice, to the facts attested by subscribing the will, the competency being determined as of the date of the execution of the will and not of the timr it is offered for probate, Smith vs. Goodell 101 N.E. 255, 256, 258 111. 145. (Ibid.) Credible witnesses as used in the statute relating to wills, means competent witnesses that is, such persons as are not legally disqualified from testifying in courts of justice, by reason of mental incapacity, interest, or the commission of crimes, or other cause excluding them from testifying generally, or rendering them incompetent in respect of the particular subject matter or in the particular suit. Hill vs. Chicago Title & Trust co 152 N.E. 545, 546, 322 111. 42. (Ibid. p, 343)

In the strict sense, the competency of a person to be an instrumental witness to a will is determined by the statute, that is Art. 820 and 821, Civil Code, whereas his credibility depends On the appreciation of his testimony and arises from the belief and conclusion of the Court that said witness is telling the truth. Thus, in the case of Vda. de Aroyo v. El Beaterio del Santissimo Rosario de Molo, No. L-22005, May 3, 1968, the Supreme Court held and ruled that: "Competency as a witness is one thing, and it is another to be a credible witness, so credible that the Court must accept what he says. Trial courts may allow a person to testify as a witness upon a given matter because he is competent, but may thereafter decide whether to believe or not to believe his testimony." In fine, We state the rule that the instrumental witnesses in Order to be competent must be shown to have the qualifications under Article 820 of the Civil Code and none of the disqualifications under Article 821 and for their testimony to be credible, that is worthy of belief and entitled to credence, it is not mandatory that evidence be first established on record that the witnesses have a good standing in the community or that they are honest and upright or reputed to be trustworthy and reliable, for a person is presumed to be such unless the contrary is established otherwise. In other words, the instrumental witnesses must be competent and their testimonies must be credible before the court allows the probate of the will they have attested. We, therefore, reject petitioner's position that it was fatal for respondent not to have introduced prior and independent proof of the fact that the witnesses were "credible witnesses that is, that they have a good standing in the community and reputed to be trustworthy and reliable. Under the second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth assignments of errors, petitioner disputes the findings of fact of the respondent court in finding that the preparation and execution of the will was expected and not coincidental, in finding that Atty. Paraiso was not previously furnished with the names and residence certificates of the witnesses as to enable him to type such data into the document Exhibit "F", in holding that the fact that the three typewritten lines under the typewritten words "pangalan" and "tinitirahan" were left blank shows beyond cavil that the three attesting witnesses were all present in the same occasion, in holding credible that Isabel Gabriel could have dictated the will without note or document to Atty. Paraiso, in holding that Matilde Orobia was physically present when the will was signed on April 15, 1961 by the deceased Isabel Gabriel and the other witnesses Celso Gimpaya and Maria Gimpaya, in holding that the trial court gave undue importance to the picture takings as proof that the will was improperly executed, and in holding that the grave contradictions, evasions and misrepresentations of the witnesses (subscribing and notary) presented by the petitioner had been explained away. Since the above errors are factual We must repeat what We have previously laid down that the findings of fact of the appellate court are binding and controlling which We cannot review, subject to certain exceptions which We win consider and discuss hereinafter. We are convinced that the appellate court's findings are sufficiently justified and supported by the evidence on record. Thus, the alleged unnaturalness characterizing the trip of the testatrix to the office of Atty. Paraiso and bringing all the witnesses without previous appointment for the preparation and execution of the win and that it was coincidental that Atty. Paraiso was available at the moment impugns the finding of the Court of Appeals that although Atty. Paraiso admitted the visit of Isabel Gabriel and of her companions to his office on April 15, 1961 was unexpected as there was no prior appointment with him, but he explained that he was available for any business transaction on that day and that Isabel Gabriel had earlier requested him to help her prepare her will. The finding of the appellate court is amply based on the testimony of Celso Gimpaya that he was not only informed on the morning of the day that he witnessed the will but that it was the third time when Isabel Gabriel told him that he was going to witness the making of her will, as well as the testimony of Maria Gimpaya that she was called by her husband Celso Gimpaya to proceed to Isabel Gabriel's house which was nearby and from said house, they left in a car to the lawyer's office, which testimonies are recited in the respondent Court's decision.

The respondent Court further found the following facts: that Celso Gimpaya and his wife Maria Gimpaya obtained residence certificates a few days before Exhibit "F" was executed. Celso Gimpaya's residence certificate No. A-5114942 was issued at Navotas, Rizal on April 13, 1961 while Maria Gimpaya's residence certificate No. A-5114974 was issued also at Navotas, Rizal on April 14, 1961. The respondent Court correctly observed that there was nothing surprising in these facts and that the securing of these residence certificates two days and one day, respectively, before the execution of the will on April 15, 1961, far from showing an amazing coincidence, reveals that the spouses were earlier notified that they would be witnesses to the execution of Isabel Gabriel's will. We also agree with the respondent Court's conclusion that the excursion to the office of Atty. Paraiso was planned by the deceased, which conclusion was correctly drawn from the testimony of the Gimpaya spouses that they started from the Navotas residence of the deceased with a photographer and Isabel Gabriel herself, then they proceeded by car to Matilde Orobia's house in Philamlife, Quezon City to fetch her and from there, all the three witnesses (the Gimpayas and Orobia) passed by a place where Isabel Gabriel stayed for about ten to fifteen minutes at the clinic of Dr. Chikiamco before they proceeded to Atty. Cipriano Paraiso's office. It is also evident from the records, as testified to by Atty. Paraiso, that previous to the day that. the will was executed on April 15, 1961, Isabel Gabriel had requested him to help her in the execution of her will and that he told her that if she really wanted to execute her will, she should bring with her at least the Mayor of Navotas, Rizal and a Councilor to be her witnesses and that he (Atty. Paraiso) wanted a medical certificate from a physician notwithstanding the fact that he believed her to be of sound and disposition mind. From this evidence, the appellate court rightly concluded, thus: "It is, therefore, clear that the presence of Isabel Gabriel and her witnesses Matilde Orobia, Celso Gimpaya and Maria Gimpaya including the photographer in the law office of Atty. Paraiso was not coincidental as their gathering was pre-arranged by Isabel Gabriel herself." As to the appellate court's finding that Atty. Paraiso was not previously furnished with the names and residence certificates of the witnesses as to enable him to type such data into the document Exhibit ' L which the petitioner assails as contradictory and irreconcilable with the statement of the Court that Atty. Paraiso was handed a list (containing the names of the witnesses and their respective residence certificates) immediately upon their arrival in the law office by Isabel Gabriel and this was corroborated by Atty. Paraiso himself who testified that it was only on said occasion that he received such list from Isabel Gabriel, We cannot agree with petitioner's contention. We find no contradiction for the, respondent Court held that on the occasion of the will making on April 15, 1961, the list was given immediately to Atty. Paraiso and that no such list was given the lawyer in any previous occasion or date prior to April 15, 1961. But whether Atty. Paraiso was previously furnished with the names and residence certificates of the witnesses on a prior occasion or on the very occasion and date in April 15, 1961 when the will was executed, is of no moment for such data appear in the notarial acknowledgment of Notary Public Cipriano Paraiso, subscribed and sworn to by the witnesses on April 15, 1961 following the attestation clause duly executed and signed on the same occasion, April 15, 1961. And since Exhibit "F" is a notarial will duly acknowledged by the testatrix and the witnesses before a notary public, the same is a public document executed and attested through the intervention of the notary public and as such public document is evidence of the facts in clear, unequivocal manner therein expressed. It has in its favor the presumption of regularity. To contradict all these, there must be evidence that is clear, convincing and more than merely preponderant. (Yturalde vs. Azurin, 28 SCRA 407). We find no such evidence pointed by petitioner in the case at bar. Likewise, the conclusion of the Court of Appeals in holding that the fact that the three typewritten lines under the typewritten words "pangalan ' and "tinitirahan" were left blank shows beyond cavil

that the three attesting witnesses were all present in the same occasion merits Our approval because tills conclusion is supported and borne out by the evidence found by the appellate court, thus: "On page 5 of Exhibit "F", beneath the typewritten words "names", "Res. Tax Cert. date issued" and place issued the only name of Isabel Gabriel with Residence Tax certificate No. A-5113274 issued on February 24, 1961 at Navotas Rizal appears to be in typewritten form while the names, residence tax certificate numbers, dates and places of issuance of said certificates pertaining to the three (3) witnesses were personally handwritten by Atty. Paraiso. Again, this coincides with Atty. Paraiso's even the sale must be made to close relatives; and the seventh was the appointment of the appellant Santiago as executrix of the will without bond. The technical description of the properties in paragraph 5 of Exhibit F was not given and the numbers of the certificates of title were only supplied by Atty. Paraiso. " It is true that in one disposition, the numbers of the Torrens titles of the properties disposed and the docket number of a special proceeding are indicated which Atty. Paraiso candidly admitted were supplied by him, whereupon petitioner contends that it was incredible that Isabel Gabriel could have dictated the will Exhibit "F" without any note or document to Atty. Paraiso, considering that Isabel Gabriel was an old and sickly woman more than eighty-one years old and had been suffering from a brain injury caused by two severe blows at her head and died of terminal cancer a few weeks after the execution of Exhibit "F". While we can rule that this is a finding of fact which is within the competency of the respondent appellate court in determining the testamentary capacity of the testatrix and is, therefore, beyond Our power to revise and review, We nevertheless hold that the conclusion reached by the Court of Appeals that the testatrix dictated her will without any note or memorandum appears to be fully supported by the following facts or evidence appearing on record. Thus, Isabel Gabriel, despite her age, was particularly active in her business affairs as she actively managed the affairs of the movie business ISABELITA Theater, paying the aparatistas herself until June 4, 1961, 3 days before her death. She was the widow of the late Eligio Naval, former Governor of Rizal Province and acted as coadministratrix in the Intestate Estate of her deceased husband Eligio Naval. The text of the win was in Tagalog, a dialect known and understood by her and in the light of all the circumstances, We agree with the respondent Court that the testatrix dictated her will without any note or memorandum, a fact unanimously testified to by the three attesting witnesses and the notary public himself. Petitioner's sixth assignment of error is also bereft of merit. The evidence, both testimonial and documentary is, according to the respondent court, overwhelming that Matilde Orobia was physically present when the will was signed on April 15, 1961 by the testatrix and the other two witnesses, Celso Gimpaya and Maria Gimpaya. Such factual finding of the appellate court is very clear, thus: "On the contrary, the record is replete with proof that Matilde Orobia was physically present when the will was signed by Isabel Gabriel on April '15, 1961 along with her co-witnesses Celso Gimpaya and Maria Gimpaya. The trial court's conclusion that Orobia's admission that she gave piano lessons to the child of the appellant on Wednesdays and Saturdays and that April 15, 1961 happened to be a Saturday for which reason Orobia could not have been present to witness the will on that day is purely conjectural. Witness Orobia did not admit having given piano lessons to the appellant's child every Wednesday and Saturday without fail. It is highly probable that even if April 15, 1961 were a Saturday, she gave no piano lessons on that day for which reason she could have witnessed the execution of the will. Orobia spoke of occasions when she missed giving piano lessons and had to make up for the same. Anyway, her presence at the law office of Atty. Paraiso was in the morning of April 15, 1961 and there was nothing to preclude her from giving piano lessons on the afternoon of the same day in Navotas, Rizal." In addition to the testimony of Matilde Orobia, Celso Gimpaya and Maria Gimpaya that Matilde was present on April 15, 1961 and that she signed the attestation clause to the will and on the left-hand margin of each of the pages of the will, the documentary evidence which is the will itself, the attestation clause and the notarial acknowledgment overwhelmingly and convincingly prove such

fact that Matilde Orobia was present on that day of April 15, 1961 and that she witnessed the will by signing her name thereon and acknowledged the same before the notary public, Atty. Cipriano P. Paraiso. The attestation clause which Matilde Orobia signed is the best evidence as to the date of signing because it preserves in permanent form a recital of all the material facts attending the execution of the will. This is the very purpose of the attestation clause which is made for the purpose of preserving in permanent form a record of the facts attending the execution of the will, so that in case of failure in the memory of the subscribing witnesses, or other casualty they may still be proved. (Thompson on Wills, 2nd ed., Sec. 132; Leynez vs. Leynez, 68 Phil. 745). As to the seventh error assigned by petitioner faulting the Court of Appeals in holding that the trial court gave undue importance to the picture-takings as proof that the win was improperly executed, We agree with the reasoning of the respondent court that: "Matilde Orobia's Identification of the photographer as "Cesar Mendoza", contrary to what the other two witnesses (Celso and Maria Gimpaya) and Atty. Paraiso said that the photographer was Benjamin Cifra, Jr., is at worst a minor mistake attributable to lapse of time. The law does not require a photographer for the execution and attestation of the will. The fact that Miss Orobia mistakenly Identified the photographer as Cesar Mendoza scarcely detracts from her testimony that she was present when the will was signed because what matters here is not the photographer but the photograph taken which clearly portrays Matilde Orobia herself, her co-witnesses Celso Gimpaya. " Further, the respondent Court correctly held: "The trial court gave undue importance to the picture takings, jumping therefrom to the conclusion that the will was improperly executed. The evidence however, heavily points to only one occasion of the execution of the will on April 15, 1961 which was witnessed by Matilde Orobia, Celso Gimpaya and Maria Gimpaya. These witnesses were quite emphatic and positive when they spoke of this occasion. Hence, their Identification of some photographs wherein they all appeared along with Isabel Gabriel and Atty. Paraiso was superfluous." Continuing, the respondent Court declared: "It is true that the second picture-taking was disclosed at the cross examination of Celso Gimpaya. But this was explained by Atty. Paraiso as a reenactment of the first incident upon the insistence of Isabel Gabriel. Such reenactment where Matilde Orobia was admittedly no longer present was wholly unnecessary if not pointless. What was important was that the will was duly executed and witnessed on the first occasion on April 15, 1961 , " and We agree with the Court's rationalization in conformity with logic, law and jurisprudence which do not require picture-taking as one of the legal requisites for the execution or probate of a will. Petitioner points to alleged grave contradictions, evasions and misrepresentations of witnesses in their respective testimonies before the trial court. On the other hand, the respondent Court of Appeals held that said contradictions, evasions and misrepresentations had been explained away. Such discrepancies as in the description of the typewriter used by Atty. Paraiso which he described as "elite" which to him meant big letters which are of the type in which the will was typewritten but which was Identified by witness Jolly Bugarin of the N.B.I. as pica the mistake in mentioning the name of the photographer by Matilde Orobia to be Cesar Mendoza when actually it was Benjamin Cifra, Jr. these are indeed unimportant details which could have been affected by the lapse of time and the treachery of human memory such that by themselves would not alter the probative value of their testimonies on the true execution of the will, (Pascual vs. dela Cruz, 28 SCRA 421, 424) for it cannot be expected that the testimony of every person win be Identical and coinciding with each other with regard to details of an incident and that witnesses are not expected to remember all details. Human experience teach us "that contradictions of witnesses generally occur in the details of certain incidents, after a long series of questionings, and far from being an evidence of falsehood constitute a demonstration of good faith. In as much as not all those who witness an incident are impressed in like manner, it is but natural that in relating their impressions, they should not agree in the minor details; hence the contradictions in their testimony." (Lopez vs. Liboro, 81 Phil. 429).

It is urged of Us by the petitioner that the findings of the trial court should not have been disturbed by the respondent appellate court because the trial court was in a better position to weigh and evaluate the evidence presented in the course of the trial. As a general rule, petitioner is correct but it is subject to well-established exceptions. The right of the Court of Appeals to review, alter and reverse the findings of the trial court where the appellate court, in reviewing the evidence has found that facts and circumstances of weight and influence have been ignored and overlooked and the significance of which have been misinterpreted by the trial court, cannot be disputed. Findings of facts made by trial courts particularly when they are based on conflicting evidence whose evaluation hinges on questions of credibility of contending witnesses hes peculiarly within the province of trial courts and generally, the appellate court should not interfere with the same. In the instant case, however, the Court of Appeals found that the trial court had overlooked and misinterpreted the facts and circumstances established in the record. Whereas the appellate court said that "Nothing in the record supports the trial court's unbelief that Isabel Gabriel dictated her will without any note or document to Atty. Paraiso;" that the trial court's conclusion that Matilde Orobia could not have witnessed anybody signing the alleged will or that she could not have witnessed Celso Gimpaya and Maria Gimpaya sign the same or that she witnessed only the deceased signing it, is a conclusion based not on facts but on inferences; that the trial court gave undue importance to the picturetakings, jumping therefrom to the conclusion that the will was improperly executed and that there is nothing in the entire record to support the conclusion of the court a quo that the will signing occasion was a mere coincidence and that Isabel Gabriel made an appointment only with Matilde Orobia to witness the signing of her will, then it becomes the duty of the appellate court to reverse findings of fact of the trial court in the exercise of its appellate jurisdiction over the lower courts. Still the petitioner insists that the case at bar is an exception to the rule that the judgment of the Court of Appeals is conclusive as to the facts and cannot be reviewed by the Supreme Court. Again We agree with the petitioner that among the exceptions are: (1) when the conclusion is a finding grounded entirely on speculations, surmises or conjectures; (2) when the inference is manifestly mistaken, absurd or impossible; (3) when there is a grave abuse of discretion; (4) when the presence of each other as required by law. " Specifically, We affirm that on April 15, 1961 the testatrix Isabel Gabriel, together with Matilde Orobia, Celso Gimpaya and his wife Maria Gimpaya, and a photographer proceeded in a car to the office of Atty. Cipriano Paraiso at the Bank of P.I. Building, Manila in the morning of that day; that on the way, Isabel Gabriel obtained a medical certificate from one Dr. Chikiamko which she gave to Atty. Paraiso upon arriving at the latter's office and told the lawyer that she wanted her will to be made; that Atty. Paraiso asked Isabel Gabriel to dictate what she wanted to be written in the will and the attorney wrote down the dictation of Isabel Gabriel in Tagalog, a language known to and spoken by her; that Atty. Paraiso read back to her what he wrote as dictated and she affirmed their correctness; the lawyer then typed the will and after finishing the document, he read it to her and she told him that it was alright; that thereafter, Isabel Gabriel signed her name at the end of the will in the presence of the three witnesses Matilde Orobia, Celso Gimpaya and Maria Gimpaya and also at the left-hand margin of each and every page of the document in the presence also of the said three witnesses; that thereafter Matilde Orobia attested the will by signing her name at the end of the attestation clause and at the left-hand margin of pages 1, 2, 3 and 5 of the document in the presence of Isabel Gabriel and the other two witnesses, Celso Gimpaya and Maria Gimpaya; then, Celso Gimpaya signed also the will at the bottom of the attestation clause and at the left-hand margin of the other pages of the document in the presence of Isabel Gabriel, Matilde Orobia and Maria Gimpaya; that Maria Gimpaya followed suit, signing her name at the foot of the attestation clause and at the left-hand margin of every page in the presence of Isabel Gabriel, Matilde Orobia and Celso Gimpaya; that thereafter, Atty. Paraiso notarized the will as Page No. 94, Book No. IV, Series of 1961, in his Notarial Register. On the occasion of the execution and attestation of the will, a photographer took pictures, one Exhibit "G", depicting Matilde Orobia, the testatrix Isabel Gabriel, Celso Gimpaya, Maria Gimpaya and Atty. Paraiso, taken on said occasion of the signing of the will, and another, Exhibit "H", showing Matilde Orobia signing testimony that he had earlier advised Isabel Gabriel to bring with her at least the Mayor and a

Councilor of Navotas, Rizal to be her witnesses for he did not know beforehand the Identities of the three attesting witnesses until the latter showed up at his law office with Isabel Gabriel on April 15, 1961. Atty. Paraiso's claim which was not controverted that he wrote down in his own hand the date appearing on page 5 of Exhibit "F" dissipates any lingering doubt that he prepared and ratified the will on the date in question." It is also a factual finding of the Court of Appeals in holding that it was credible that Isabel Gabriel could have dictated the will, Exhibit "F", without any note or document to Atty. Paraiso as against the contention of petitioner that it was incredible. This ruling of the respondent court is fully supported by the evidence on record as stated in the decision under review, thus: "Nothing in the record supports the trial court's unbelief that Isabel Gabriel dictated her will without any note or document to Atty. Paraiso. On the contrary, all the three attesting witnesses uniformly testified that Isabel Gabriel dictated her will to Atty. Paraiso and that other than the piece of paper that she handed to said lawyer she had no note or document. This fact jibes with the evidence which the trial court itself believed was unshaken that Isabel Gabriel was of sound disposing memory when she executed her will. Exhibit "F" reveals only seven (7) dispositions which are not complicated but quite simple. The first was Isabel Gabriel's wish to be interred according to Catholic rites the second was a general directive to pay her debts if any; the third provided for P1,000.00 for her sister Praxides Gabriel Vda. de Santiago and P2,000.00 for her brother Santiago Gabriel; the fourth was a listing of her 13 nephews and nieces including oppositor-appellee Rizalina Gabriel and the amount for each legatee the fifth was the institution of the petitioner-appellant, Lutgarda Santiago as the principal heir mentioning in general terms seven (7) types of properties; the sixth disposed of the remainder of her estate which she willed in favor of appellant Lutgarda Santiago but prohibiting the sale of such properties to anyone except in extreme situations in which judgment is based on a misapprehension of facts; (5) when the findings of fact are conflicting, (6) when the Court of Appeals, in making its findings, went beyond the issues of the case and the same is contrary to the admissions of both appellant and appellee. (Roque vs. Buan, et al., G.R. No. L-22459, Oct. 31, 1967; Ramos vs. Pepsi Cola Bottling Co., G.R. No. L-22533, Feb. 9, 1967; Hilarion Jr. vs. City of Manila, G.R. No. L-19570; Sept. 14, 1967). Petitioner's insistence is without merit. We hold that the case at bar does not fall within any of the exceptions enumerated above. We likewise hold that the findings of fact of the respondent appellate court are fully supported by the evidence on record. The conclusions are fully sustained by substantial evidence. We find no abuse of discretion and We discern no misapprehension of facts. The respondent Court's findings of fact are not conflicting. Hence, the well-established rule that the decision of the Court of Appeals and its findings of fact are binding and conclusive and should not be disturbed by this Tribunal and it must be applied in the case at bar in its full force and effect, without qualification or reservation. The above holding simply synthesize the resolutions we have heretofore made in respect ' to petitioner's previous assignments of error and to which We have disagreed and, therefore, rejected. The last assignments of error of petitioner must necessarily be rejected by Us as We find the respondent Court acted properly and correctly and has not departed from the accepted and usual course of judicial proceedings as to call for the exercise of the power of supervision by the Supreme Court, and as We find that the Court of Appeals did not err in reversing the decision of the trial court and admitting to probate Exhibit "F", the last will and testament of the deceased Isabel Gabriel. We rule that the respondent Court's factual findings upon its summation and evaluation of the evidence on record is unassailable that: "From the welter of evidence presented, we are convinced that the will in question was executed on April 15, 1961 in the presence of Matilde Orobia, Celso

Gimpaya and Maria Gimpaya signing and witnessing the same in the the will on a table with Isabel Gabriel, Celso Gimpaya and Maria Gimpaya sitting around the table. Atty. Paraiso, after finishing the notarial act, then delivered the original to Isabel Gabriel and retained the other copies for his file and notarial register. A few days following the signing of the will, Isabel Gabriel, Celso Gimpaya and another photographer arrived at the office of Atty. Paraiso and told the lawyer that she wanted another picture taken because the first picture did not turn out good. The lawyer told her that this cannot be done because the will was already signed but Isabel Gabriel insisted that a picture be taken, so a simulated signing was performed during which incident Matilde Orobia was not present. Petitioner's exacerbation centers on the supposed incredibility of the testimonies of the witnesses for the proponent of the will, their alleged evasions, inconsistencies and contradictions. But in the case at bar, the three instrumental witnesses who constitute the best evidence of the will making have testified in favor of the probate of the will. So has the lawyer who prepared it, one learned in the law and long in the practice thereof, who thereafter notarized it. All of them are disinterested witnesses who stand to receive no benefit from the testament. The signatures of the witnesses and the testatrix have been identified on the will and there is no claim whatsoever and by anyone, much less the petitioner, that they were not genuine. In the last and final analysis, the herein conflict is factual and we go back to the rule that the Supreme Court cannot review and revise the findings of facts of the respondent Court of Appeals. WHEREFORE, IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the judgment appealed from is hereby AFFIRMED, with costs against the petitioner. SO ORDERED.