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1. G.R. No. L-16749 January 31, 1963 12.

I hereby give, devise and bequeath, unto my well-beloved daughter,


the said MARIA LUCY CHRISTENSEN DANEY (Mrs. Bernard Daney),
IN THE MATTER OF THE TESTATE ESTATE OF EDWARD E. CHRISTENSEN, now residing as aforesaid at No. 665 Rodger Young Village, Los Angeles,
DECEASED. California, U.S.A., all the income from the rest, remainder, and residue of
ADOLFO C. AZNAR, Executor and LUCY CHRISTENSEN, Heir of the my property and estate, real, personal and/or mixed, of whatsoever kind or
deceased, Executor and Heir-appellees, character, and wheresoever situated, of which I may be possessed at my
vs. death and which may have come to me from any source whatsoever,
HELEN CHRISTENSEN GARCIA, oppositor-appellant. during her lifetime: ....

M. R. Sotelo for executor and heir-appellees. It is in accordance with the above-quoted provisions that the executor in his final
Leopoldo M. Abellera and Jovito Salonga for oppositor-appellant. account and project of partition ratified the payment of only P3,600 to Helen
Christensen Garcia and proposed that the residue of the estate be transferred to
his daughter, Maria Lucy Christensen.
LABRADOR, J.:

Opposition to the approval of the project of partition was filed by Helen Christensen
This is an appeal from a decision of the Court of First Instance of Davao, Hon.
Garcia, insofar as it deprives her (Helen) of her legitime as an acknowledged
Vicente N. Cusi, Jr., presiding, in Special Proceeding No. 622 of said court, dated
natural child, she having been declared by Us in G.R. Nos. L-11483-84 an
September 14, 1949, approving among things the final accounts of the executor,
acknowledged natural child of the deceased Edward E. Christensen. The legal
directing the executor to reimburse Maria Lucy Christensen the amount of P3,600
grounds of opposition are (a) that the distribution should be governed by the laws
paid by her to Helen Christensen Garcia as her legacy, and declaring Maria Lucy
of the Philippines, and (b) that said order of distribution is contrary thereto insofar
Christensen entitled to the residue of the property to be enjoyed during her lifetime,
as it denies to Helen Christensen, one of two acknowledged natural children, one-
and in case of death without issue, one-half of said residue to be payable to Mrs.
half of the estate in full ownership. In amplification of the above grounds it was
Carrie Louise C. Borton, etc., in accordance with the provisions of the will of the
alleged that the law that should govern the estate of the deceased Christensen
testator Edward E. Christensen. The will was executed in Manila on March 5, 1951
should not be the internal law of California alone, but the entire law thereof
and contains the following provisions:
because several foreign elements are involved, that the forum is the Philippines
and even if the case were decided in California, Section 946 of the California Civil
3. I declare ... that I have but ONE (1) child, named MARIA LUCY Code, which requires that the domicile of the decedent should apply, should be
CHRISTENSEN (now Mrs. Bernard Daney), who was born in the applicable. It was also alleged that Maria Helen Christensen having been declared
Philippines about twenty-eight years ago, and who is now residing at No. an acknowledged natural child of the decedent, she is deemed for all purposes
665 Rodger Young Village, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A. legitimate from the time of her birth.

4. I further declare that I now have no living ascendants, and no The court below ruled that as Edward E. Christensen was a citizen of the United
descendants except my above named daughter, MARIA LUCY States and of the State of California at the time of his death, the successional
CHRISTENSEN DANEY. rights and intrinsic validity of the provisions in his will are to be governed by the law
of California, in accordance with which a testator has the right to dispose of his
xxx xxx xxx property in the way he desires, because the right of absolute dominion over his
property is sacred and inviolable (In re McDaniel's Estate, 77 Cal. Appl. 2d 877,
7. I give, devise and bequeath unto MARIA HELEN CHRISTENSEN, now 176 P. 2d 952, and In re Kaufman, 117 Cal. 286, 49 Pac. 192, cited in page 179,
married to Eduardo Garcia, about eighteen years of age and who, Record on Appeal). Oppositor Maria Helen Christensen, through counsel, filed
notwithstanding the fact that she was baptized Christensen, is not in any various motions for reconsideration, but these were denied. Hence, this appeal.
way related to me, nor has she been at any time adopted by me, and who,
from all information I have now resides in Egpit, Digos, Davao, Philippines, The most important assignments of error are as follows:
the sum of THREE THOUSAND SIX HUNDRED PESOS (P3,600.00),
Philippine Currency the same to be deposited in trust for the said Maria I
Helen Christensen with the Davao Branch of the Philippine National Bank,
and paid to her at the rate of One Hundred Pesos (P100.00), Philippine THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN IGNORING THE DECISION OF THE
Currency per month until the principal thereof as well as any interest which HONORABLE SUPREME COURT THAT HELEN IS THE ACKNOWLEDGED
may have accrued thereon, is exhausted..
NATURAL CHILD OF EDWARD E. CHRISTENSEN AND, CONSEQUENTLY, IN
DEPRIVING HER OF HER JUST SHARE IN THE INHERITANCE.
xxx xxx xxx
II
THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN ENTIRELY IGNORING AND/OR FAILING TO to the parties adducing other evidence to prove their case not covered by
RECOGNIZE THE EXISTENCE OF SEVERAL FACTORS, ELEMENTS AND this stipulation of facts. 1äwphï1.ñët
CIRCUMSTANCES CALLING FOR THE APPLICATION OF INTERNAL LAW.
Being an American citizen, Mr. Christensen was interned by the Japanese
III Military Forces in the Philippines during World War II. Upon liberation, in
April 1945, he left for the United States but returned to the Philippines in
THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN FAILING TO RECOGNIZE THAT UNDER December, 1945. Appellees Collective Exhibits "6", CFI Davao, Sp. Proc.
INTERNATIONAL LAW, PARTICULARLY UNDER THE RENVOI DOCTRINE, 622, as Exhibits "AA", "BB" and "CC-Daney"; Exhs. "MM", "MM-l", "MM-2-
THE INTRINSIC VALIDITY OF THE TESTAMENTARY DISPOSITION OF THE Daney" and p. 473, t.s.n., July 21, 1953.)
DISTRIBUTION OF THE ESTATE OF THE DECEASED EDWARD E.
CHRISTENSEN SHOULD BE GOVERNED BY THE LAWS OF THE In April, 1951, Edward E. Christensen returned once more to California
PHILIPPINES. shortly after the making of his last will and testament (now in question
herein) which he executed at his lawyers' offices in Manila on March 5,
IV 1951. He died at the St. Luke's Hospital in the City of Manila on April 30,
1953. (pp. 2-3)
THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN NOT DECLARING THAT THE SCHEDULE OF
DISTRIBUTION SUBMITTED BY THE EXECUTOR IS CONTRARY TO THE In arriving at the conclusion that the domicile of the deceased is the Philippines, we
PHILIPPINE LAWS. are persuaded by the fact that he was born in New York, migrated to California and
resided there for nine years, and since he came to the Philippines in 1913 he
returned to California very rarely and only for short visits (perhaps to relatives), and
V
considering that he appears never to have owned or acquired a home or properties
in that state, which would indicate that he would ultimately abandon the Philippines
THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN NOT DECLARING THAT UNDER THE and make home in the State of California.
PHILIPPINE LAWS HELEN CHRISTENSEN GARCIA IS ENTITLED TO ONE-
HALF (1/2) OF THE ESTATE IN FULL OWNERSHIP.
Sec. 16. Residence is a term used with many shades of meaning from
mere temporary presence to the most permanent abode. Generally,
There is no question that Edward E. Christensen was a citizen of the United States however, it is used to denote something more than mere physical
and of the State of California at the time of his death. But there is also no question presence. (Goodrich on Conflict of Laws, p. 29)
that at the time of his death he was domiciled in the Philippines, as witness the
following facts admitted by the executor himself in appellee's brief:
As to his citizenship, however, We find that the citizenship that he acquired in
California when he resided in Sacramento, California from 1904 to 1913, was
In the proceedings for admission of the will to probate, the facts of record never lost by his stay in the Philippines, for the latter was a territory of the United
show that the deceased Edward E. Christensen was born on November States (not a state) until 1946 and the deceased appears to have considered
29, 1875 in New York City, N.Y., U.S.A.; his first arrival in the Philippines, himself as a citizen of California by the fact that when he executed his will in 1951
as an appointed school teacher, was on July 1, 1901, on board the U.S. he declared that he was a citizen of that State; so that he appears never to have
Army Transport "Sheridan" with Port of Embarkation as the City of San intended to abandon his California citizenship by acquiring another. This
Francisco, in the State of California, U.S.A. He stayed in the Philippines conclusion is in accordance with the following principle expounded by Goodrich in
until 1904. his Conflict of Laws.

In December, 1904, Mr. Christensen returned to the United States and The terms "'residence" and "domicile" might well be taken to mean the
stayed there for the following nine years until 1913, during which time he same thing, a place of permanent abode. But domicile, as has been
resided in, and was teaching school in Sacramento, California. shown, has acquired a technical meaning. Thus one may be domiciled in a
place where he has never been. And he may reside in a place where he
Mr. Christensen's next arrival in the Philippines was in July of the year has no domicile. The man with two homes, between which he divides his
1913. However, in 1928, he again departed the Philippines for the United time, certainly resides in each one, while living in it. But if he went on
States and came back here the following year, 1929. Some nine years business which would require his presence for several weeks or months,
later, in 1938, he again returned to his own country, and came back to the he might properly be said to have sufficient connection with the place to be
Philippines the following year, 1939. called a resident. It is clear, however, that, if he treated his settlement as
continuing only for the particular business in hand, not giving up his former
Wherefore, the parties respectfully pray that the foregoing stipulation of "home," he could not be a domiciled New Yorker. Acquisition of a domicile
facts be admitted and approved by this Honorable Court, without prejudice of choice requires the exercise of intention as well as physical presence.
"Residence simply requires bodily presence of an inhabitant in a given of the validity of the testamentary provision in question should be referred back to
place, while domicile requires bodily presence in that place and also an the law of the decedent's domicile, which is the Philippines.
intention to make it one's domicile." Residence, however, is a term used
with many shades of meaning, from the merest temporary presence to the The theory of doctrine of renvoi has been defined by various authors, thus:
most permanent abode, and it is not safe to insist that any one use et the
only proper one. (Goodrich, p. 29)
The problem has been stated in this way: "When the Conflict of Laws rule
of the forum refers a jural matter to a foreign law for decision, is the
The law that governs the validity of his testamentary dispositions is defined in reference to the purely internal rules of law of the foreign system; i.e., to
Article 16 of the Civil Code of the Philippines, which is as follows: the totality of the foreign law minus its Conflict of Laws rules?"

ART. 16. Real property as well as personal property is subject to the law On logic, the solution is not an easy one. The Michigan court chose to
of the country where it is situated. accept the renvoi, that is, applied the Conflict of Laws rule of Illinois which
referred the matter back to Michigan law. But once having determined the
However, intestate and testamentary successions, both with respect to the the Conflict of Laws principle is the rule looked to, it is difficult to see why
order of succession and to the amount of successional rights and to the the reference back should not have been to Michigan Conflict of Laws.
intrinsic validity of testamentary provisions, shall be regulated by the This would have resulted in the "endless chain of references" which has
national law of the person whose succession is under consideration, so often been criticized be legal writers. The opponents of the renvoi
whatever may be the nature of the property and regardless of the country would have looked merely to the internal law of Illinois, thus rejecting the
where said property may be found. renvoi or the reference back. Yet there seems no compelling logical
reason why the original reference should be the internal law rather than to
The application of this article in the case at bar requires the determination of the the Conflict of Laws rule. It is true that such a solution avoids going on a
meaning of the term "national law"is used therein. merry-go-round, but those who have accepted the renvoi theory avoid
this inextricabilis circulas by getting off at the second reference and at that
point applying internal law. Perhaps the opponents of the renvoi are a bit
There is no single American law governing the validity of testamentary provisions
more consistent for they look always to internal law as the rule of
in the United States, each state of the Union having its own private law applicable reference.
to its citizens only and in force only within the state. The "national law" indicated in
Article 16 of the Civil Code above quoted can not, therefore, possibly mean or
apply to any general American law. So it can refer to no other than the private law Strangely enough, both the advocates for and the objectors to
of the State of California. the renvoi plead that greater uniformity will result from adoption of their
respective views. And still more strange is the fact that the only way to
achieve uniformity in this choice-of-law problem is if in the dispute the two
The next question is: What is the law in California governing the disposition of
states whose laws form the legal basis of the litigation disagree as to
personal property? The decision of the court below, sustains the contention of the
whether the renvoi should be accepted. If both reject, or both accept the
executor-appellee that under the California Probate Code, a testator may dispose
doctrine, the result of the litigation will vary with the choice of the forum. In
of his property by will in the form and manner he desires, citing the case of Estate
the case stated above, had the Michigan court rejected the renvoi,
of McDaniel, 77 Cal. Appl. 2d 877, 176 P. 2d 952. But appellant invokes the
judgment would have been against the woman; if the suit had been
provisions of Article 946 of the Civil Code of California, which is as follows:
brought in the Illinois courts, and they too rejected the renvoi, judgment
would be for the woman. The same result would happen, though the
If there is no law to the contrary, in the place where personal property is courts would switch with respect to which would hold liability, if both courts
situated, it is deemed to follow the person of its owner, and is governed by accepted the renvoi.
the law of his domicile.
The Restatement accepts the renvoi theory in two instances: where the
The existence of this provision is alleged in appellant's opposition and is not title to land is in question, and where the validity of a decree of divorce is
denied. We have checked it in the California Civil Code and it is there. Appellee, on challenged. In these cases the Conflict of Laws rule of the situs of the
the other hand, relies on the case cited in the decision and testified to by a witness. land, or the domicile of the parties in the divorce case, is applied by the
(Only the case of Kaufman is correctly cited.) It is argued on executor's behalf that forum, but any further reference goes only to the internal law. Thus, a
as the deceased Christensen was a citizen of the State of California, the internal person's title to land, recognized by the situs, will be recognized by every
law thereof, which is that given in the abovecited case, should govern the court; and every divorce, valid by the domicile of the parties, will be valid
determination of the validity of the testamentary provisions of Christensen's will, everywhere. (Goodrich, Conflict of Laws, Sec. 7, pp. 13-14.)
such law being in force in the State of California of which Christensen was a
citizen. Appellant, on the other hand, insists that Article 946 should be applicable,
and in accordance therewith and following the doctrine of the renvoi, the question
X, a citizen of Massachusetts, dies intestate, domiciled in France, leaving Journal, Vol. 27, 1917-1918, pp. 529-531. The pertinent parts of the article are
movable property in Massachusetts, England, and France. The question quoted herein below:
arises as to how this property is to be distributed among X's next of kin.
The recognition of the renvoi theory implies that the rules of the conflict of
Assume (1) that this question arises in a Massachusetts court. There the laws are to be understood as incorporating not only the ordinary or internal
rule of the conflict of laws as to intestate succession to movables calls for law of the foreign state or country, but its rules of the conflict of laws as
an application of the law of the deceased's last domicile. Since by well. According to this theory 'the law of a country' means the whole of its
hypothesis X's last domicile was France, the natural thing for the law.
Massachusetts court to do would be to turn to French statute of
distributions, or whatever corresponds thereto in French law, and decree a xxx xxx xxx
distribution accordingly. An examination of French law, however, would
show that if a French court were called upon to determine how this
Von Bar presented his views at the meeting of the Institute of International
property should be distributed, it would refer the distribution to the national
Law, at Neuchatel, in 1900, in the form of the following theses:
law of the deceased, thus applying the Massachusetts statute of
distributions. So on the surface of things the Massachusetts court has
open to it alternative course of action: (a) either to apply the French law is (1) Every court shall observe the law of its country as regards the
to intestate succession, or (b) to resolve itself into a French court and application of foreign laws.
apply the Massachusetts statute of distributions, on the assumption that
this is what a French court would do. If it accepts the so- (2) Provided that no express provision to the contrary exists, the court
called renvoidoctrine, it will follow the latter course, thus applying its own shall respect:
law.
(a) The provisions of a foreign law which disclaims the right to
This is one type of renvoi. A jural matter is presented which the conflict-of- bind its nationals abroad as regards their personal statute, and
laws rule of the forum refers to a foreign law, the conflict-of-laws rule of desires that said personal statute shall be determined by the law
which, in turn, refers the matter back again to the law of the forum. This is of the domicile, or even by the law of the place where the act in
renvoi in the narrower sense. The German term for this judicial process is question occurred.
'Ruckverweisung.'" (Harvard Law Review, Vol. 31, pp. 523-571.)
(b) The decision of two or more foreign systems of law, provided it
After a decision has been arrived at that a foreign law is to be resorted to be certain that one of them is necessarily competent, which agree
as governing a particular case, the further question may arise: Are the in attributing the determination of a question to the same system
rules as to the conflict of laws contained in such foreign law also to be of law.
resorted to? This is a question which, while it has been considered by the
courts in but a few instances, has been the subject of frequent discussion xxx xxx xxx
by textwriters and essayists; and the doctrine involved has been
descriptively designated by them as the "Renvoyer" to send back, or the
"Ruchversweisung", or the "Weiterverweisung", since an affirmative If, for example, the English law directs its judge to distribute the personal
answer to the question postulated and the operation of the adoption of the estate of an Englishman who has died domiciled in Belgium in accordance
foreign law in toto would in many cases result in returning the main with the law of his domicile, he must first inquire whether the law of
controversy to be decided according to the law of the forum. ... (16 C.J.S. Belgium would distribute personal property upon death in accordance with
872.) the law of domicile, and if he finds that the Belgian law would make the
distribution in accordance with the law of nationality — that is the English
law — he must accept this reference back to his own law.
Another theory, known as the "doctrine of renvoi", has been advanced.
The theory of the doctrine of renvoi is that the court of the forum, in
determining the question before it, must take into account the whole law of We note that Article 946 of the California Civil Code is its conflict of laws rule, while
the other jurisdiction, but also its rules as to conflict of laws, and then the rule applied in In re Kaufman, Supra, its internal law. If the law on succession
apply the law to the actual question which the rules of the other jurisdiction and the conflict of laws rules of California are to be enforced jointly, each in its own
prescribe. This may be the law of the forum. The doctrine of the renvoi has intended and appropriate sphere, the principle cited In re Kaufman should apply to
generally been repudiated by the American authorities. (2 Am. Jur. 296) citizens living in the State, but Article 946 should apply to such of its citizens as are
not domiciled in California but in other jurisdictions. The rule laid down of resorting
to the law of the domicile in the determination of matters with foreign element
The scope of the theory of renvoi has also been defined and the reasons for its involved is in accord with the general principle of American law that the domiciliary
application in a country explained by Prof. Lorenzen in an article in the Yale Law law should govern in most matters or rights which follow the person of the owner.
When a man dies leaving personal property in one or more states, and and 894, Civil Code of the Philippines, makes natural children legally
leaves a will directing the manner of distribution of the property, the law of acknowledged forced heirs of the parent recognizing them.
the state where he was domiciled at the time of his death will be looked to
in deciding legal questions about the will, almost as completely as the law The Philippine cases (In re Estate of Johnson, 39 Phil. 156; Riera vs. Palmaroli, 40
of situs is consulted in questions about the devise of land. It is logical that, Phil. 105; Miciano vs. Brimo, 50 Phil. 867; Babcock Templeton vs. Rider Babcock,
since the domiciliary rules control devolution of the personal estate in case 52 Phil. 130; and Gibbs vs. Government, 59 Phil. 293.) cited by appellees to
of intestate succession, the same rules should determine the validity of an support the decision can not possibly apply in the case at bar, for two important
attempted testamentary dispostion of the property. Here, also, it is not that reasons, i.e., the subject in each case does not appear to be a citizen of a state in
the domiciliary has effect beyond the borders of the domiciliary state. The the United States but with domicile in the Philippines, and it does not appear in
rules of the domicile are recognized as controlling by the Conflict of Laws each case that there exists in the state of which the subject is a citizen, a law
rules at the situs property, and the reason for the recognition as in the similar to or identical with Art. 946 of the California Civil Code.
case of intestate succession, is the general convenience of the doctrine.
The New York court has said on the point: 'The general principle that a
dispostiton of a personal property, valid at the domicile of the owner, is We therefore find that as the domicile of the deceased Christensen, a citizen of
valid anywhere, is one of the universal application. It had its origin in that California, is the Philippines, the validity of the provisions of his will depriving his
acknowledged natural child, the appellant, should be governed by the Philippine
international comity which was one of the first fruits of civilization, and it
Law, the domicile, pursuant to Art. 946 of the Civil Code of California, not by the
this age, when business intercourse and the process of accumulating
internal law of California..
property take but little notice of boundary lines, the practical wisdom and
justice of the rule is more apparent than ever. (Goodrich, Conflict of Laws,
Sec. 164, pp. 442-443.) WHEREFORE, the decision appealed from is hereby reversed and the case
returned to the lower court with instructions that the partition be made as the
Appellees argue that what Article 16 of the Civil Code of the Philippines pointed out Philippine law on succession provides. Judgment reversed, with costs against
appellees.
as the national law is the internal law of California. But as above explained the laws
of California have prescribed two sets of laws for its citizens, one for residents
therein and another for those domiciled in other jurisdictions. Reason demands that
We should enforce the California internal law prescribed for its citizens residing
therein, and enforce the conflict of laws rules for the citizens domiciled abroad. If
we must enforce the law of California as in comity we are bound to go, as so
declared in Article 16 of our Civil Code, then we must enforce the law of California
in accordance with the express mandate thereof and as above explained, i.e.,
apply the internal law for residents therein, and its conflict-of-laws rule for those
domiciled abroad.

It is argued on appellees' behalf that the clause "if there is no law to the contrary in
the place where the property is situated" in Sec. 946 of the California Civil Code
refers to Article 16 of the Civil Code of the Philippines and that the law to the
contrary in the Philippines is the provision in said Article 16 that the national law of
the deceased should govern. This contention can not be sustained. As explained in
the various authorities cited above the national law mentioned in Article 16 of our
Civil Code is the law on conflict of laws in the California Civil Code, i.e., Article 946,
which authorizes the reference or return of the question to the law of the testator's
domicile. The conflict of laws rule in California, Article 946, Civil Code, precisely
refers back the case, when a decedent is not domiciled in California, to the law of
his domicile, the Philippines in the case at bar. The court of the domicile can not
and should not refer the case back to California; such action would leave the issue
incapable of determination because the case will then be like a football, tossed
back and forth between the two states, between the country of which the decedent
was a citizen and the country of his domicile. The Philippine court must apply its
own law as directed in the conflict of laws rule of the state of the decedent, if the
question has to be decided, especially as the application of the internal law of
California provides no legitime for children while the Philippine law, Arts. 887(4)
2. G.R. No. L-23678 June 6, 1967 P120,000.00, which it released from time to time according as the lower court
approved and allowed the various motions or petitions filed by the latter three
TESTATE ESTATE OF AMOS G. BELLIS, deceased. requesting partial advances on account of their respective legacies.
PEOPLE'S BANK and TRUST COMPANY, executor.
MARIA CRISTINA BELLIS and MIRIAM PALMA BELLIS, oppositors-appellants, On January 8, 1964, preparatory to closing its administration, the executor
vs. submitted and filed its "Executor's Final Account, Report of Administration and
EDWARD A. BELLIS, ET AL., heirs-appellees. Project of Partition" wherein it reported, inter alia, the satisfaction of the legacy of
Mary E. Mallen by the delivery to her of shares of stock amounting to $240,000.00,
Vicente R. Macasaet and Jose D. Villena for oppositors appellants. and the legacies of Amos Bellis, Jr., Maria Cristina Bellis and Miriam Palma Bellis
Paredes, Poblador, Cruz and Nazareno for heirs-appellees E. A. Bellis, et al. in the amount of P40,000.00 each or a total of P120,000.00. In the project of
Quijano and Arroyo for heirs-appellees W. S. Bellis, et al. partition, the executor — pursuant to the "Twelfth" clause of the testator's Last Will
J. R. Balonkita for appellee People's Bank & Trust Company. and Testament — divided the residuary estate into seven equal portions for the
Ozaeta, Gibbs and Ozaeta for appellee A. B. Allsman. benefit of the testator's seven legitimate children by his first and second marriages.

BENGZON, J.P., J.: On January 17, 1964, Maria Cristina Bellis and Miriam Palma Bellis filed their
respective oppositions to the project of partition on the ground that they were
deprived of their legitimes as illegitimate children and, therefore, compulsory heirs
This is a direct appeal to Us, upon a question purely of law, from an order of the of the deceased.
Court of First Instance of Manila dated April 30, 1964, approving the project of
partition filed by the executor in Civil Case No. 37089 therein.1äwphï1.ñët
Amos Bellis, Jr. interposed no opposition despite notice to him, proof of service of
which is evidenced by the registry receipt submitted on April 27, 1964 by the
The facts of the case are as follows:
executor.1

Amos G. Bellis, born in Texas, was "a citizen of the State of Texas and of the After the parties filed their respective memoranda and other pertinent pleadings,
United States." By his first wife, Mary E. Mallen, whom he divorced, he had five the lower court, on April 30, 1964, issued an order overruling the oppositions and
legitimate children: Edward A. Bellis, George Bellis (who pre-deceased him in approving the executor's final account, report and administration and project of
infancy), Henry A. Bellis, Alexander Bellis and Anna Bellis Allsman; by his second partition. Relying upon Art. 16 of the Civil Code, it applied the national law of the
wife, Violet Kennedy, who survived him, he had three legitimate children: Edwin G. decedent, which in this case is Texas law, which did not provide for legitimes.
Bellis, Walter S. Bellis and Dorothy Bellis; and finally, he had three illegitimate
children: Amos Bellis, Jr., Maria Cristina Bellis and Miriam Palma Bellis.
Their respective motions for reconsideration having been denied by the lower court
on June 11, 1964, oppositors-appellants appealed to this Court to raise the issue of
On August 5, 1952, Amos G. Bellis executed a will in the Philippines, in which he which law must apply — Texas law or Philippine law.
directed that after all taxes, obligations, and expenses of administration are paid
for, his distributable estate should be divided, in trust, in the following order and
manner: (a) $240,000.00 to his first wife, Mary E. Mallen; (b) P120,000.00 to his In this regard, the parties do not submit the case on, nor even discuss, the doctrine
three illegitimate children, Amos Bellis, Jr., Maria Cristina Bellis, Miriam Palma of renvoi, applied by this Court in Aznar v. Christensen Garcia, L-16749, January
Bellis, or P40,000.00 each and (c) after the foregoing two items have been 31, 1963. Said doctrine is usually pertinent where the decedent is a national of one
satisfied, the remainder shall go to his seven surviving children by his first and country, and a domicile of another. In the present case, it is not disputed that the
second wives, namely: Edward A. Bellis, Henry A. Bellis, Alexander Bellis and decedent was both a national of Texas and a domicile thereof at the time of his
Anna Bellis Allsman, Edwin G. Bellis, Walter S. Bellis, and Dorothy E. Bellis, in death.2 So that even assuming Texas has a conflict of law rule providing that the
equal shares.1äwphï1.ñët domiciliary system (law of the domicile) should govern, the same would not result
in a reference back (renvoi) to Philippine law, but would still refer to Texas law.
Nonetheless, if Texas has a conflicts rule adopting the situs theory (lex rei sitae)
Subsequently, or on July 8, 1958, Amos G. Bellis died a resident of San Antonio,
calling for the application of the law of the place where the properties are situated,
Texas, U.S.A. His will was admitted to probate in the Court of First Instance of
renvoi would arise, since the properties here involved are found in the Philippines.
Manila on September 15, 1958.
In the absence, however, of proof as to the conflict of law rule of Texas, it should
not be presumed different from ours.3 Appellants' position is therefore not rested on
The People's Bank and Trust Company, as executor of the will, paid all the the doctrine of renvoi. As stated, they never invoked nor even mentioned it in their
bequests therein including the amount of $240,000.00 in the form of shares of arguments. Rather, they argue that their case falls under the circumstances
stock to Mary E. Mallen and to the three (3) illegitimate children, Amos Bellis, Jr., mentioned in the third paragraph of Article 17 in relation to Article 16 of the Civil
Maria Cristina Bellis and Miriam Palma Bellis, various amounts totalling Code.
P40,000.00 each in satisfaction of their respective legacies, or a total of
Article 16, par. 2, and Art. 1039 of the Civil Code, render applicable the national his national law cannot be ignored in regard to those matters that Article 10 — now
law of the decedent, in intestate or testamentary successions, with regard to four Article 16 — of the Civil Code states said national law should govern.
items: (a) the order of succession; (b) the amount of successional rights; (e) the
intrinsic validity of the provisions of the will; and (d) the capacity to succeed. They The parties admit that the decedent, Amos G. Bellis, was a citizen of the State of
provide that — Texas, U.S.A., and that under the laws of Texas, there are no forced heirs or
legitimes. Accordingly, since the intrinsic validity of the provision of the will and the
ART. 16. Real property as well as personal property is subject to the law amount of successional rights are to be determined under Texas law, the
of the country where it is situated. Philippine law on legitimes cannot be applied to the testacy of Amos G. Bellis.

However, intestate and testamentary successions, both with respect to the Wherefore, the order of the probate court is hereby affirmed in toto, with costs
order of succession and to the amount of successional rights and to the against appellants. So ordered.
intrinsic validity of testamentary provisions, shall be regulated by the
national law of the person whose succession is under consideration,
whatever may he 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.

Appellants would however counter that Art. 17, paragraph three, of the Civil Code,
stating that —

Prohibitive laws concerning persons, their acts or property, and those


which have for their object public order, public policy and good customs
shall not be rendered ineffective by laws or judgments promulgated, or by
determinations or conventions agreed upon in a foreign country.

prevails as the exception to Art. 16, par. 2 of the Civil Code afore-quoted. This is
not correct. Precisely, Congress deleted the phrase, "notwithstanding the
provisions of this and the next preceding article" when they incorporated Art. 11 of
the old Civil Code as Art. 17 of the new Civil Code, while reproducing without
substantial change the second paragraph of Art. 10 of the old Civil Code as Art. 16
in the new. It must have been their purpose to make the second paragraph of Art.
16 a specific provision in itself which must be applied in testate and intestate
succession. As further indication of this legislative intent, Congress added a new
provision, under Art. 1039, which decrees that capacity to succeed is to be
governed by the national law of the decedent.

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.

Appellants would also point out that the decedent executed two wills — one to
govern his Texas estate and the other his Philippine estate — arguing from this
that he intended Philippine law to govern his Philippine estate. Assuming that such
was the decedent's intention in executing a separate Philippine will, it would not
alter the law, for as this Court ruled in Miciano v. Brimo, 50 Phil. 867, 870, a
provision in a foreigner's will to the effect that his properties shall be distributed in
accordance with Philippine law and not with his national law, is illegal and void, for
3. G.R. No. L-35694 December 23, 1933 Registers of deeds shall not register in the registry of property any
document transferring real property or real rights therein or any chattel
ALLISON G. GIBBS, petitioner-appelle, mortgage, by way of gifts mortis causa, legacy or inheritance, unless the
vs. payment of the tax fixed in this article and actually due thereon shall be
THE GOVERNMENT OF THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS, oppositor-appellant. shown. And they shall immediately notify the Collector of Internal Revenue
THE REGISTER OF DEEDS OF THE CITY OF MANILA, respondent-appellant. or the corresponding provincial treasurer of the non payment of the tax
discovered by them. . . .
Office of the Solicitor-General Hilado for appellants.
Allison D. Gibbs in his own behalf. Acting upon the authority of said section, the register of deeds of the City of Manila,
declined to accept as binding said decree of court of September 22,1930, and
refused to register the transfer of title of the said conjugal property to Allison D.
Gibbs, on the ground that the corresponding inheritance tax had not been paid.
Thereupon, under date of December 26, 1930, Allison D. Gibbs filed in the said
BUTTE, J.: court a petition for an order requiring the said register of deeds "to issue the
corresponding titles" to the petitioner without requiring previous payment of any
This is an appeal from a final order of the Court of First Instance of Manila, inheritance tax. After due hearing of the parties, the court reaffirmed said order of
requiring the register of deeds of the City of Manila to cancel certificates of title September 22, 1930, and entered the order of March 10, 1931, which is under
Nos. 20880, 28336 and 28331, covering lands located in the City of Manila, review on this appeal.
Philippine Islands, and issue in lieu thereof new certificates of transfer of title in
favor of Allison D. Gibbs without requiring him to present any document showing On January 3, 1933, this court remanded the case to the court of origin for new trial
that the succession tax due under Article XI of Chapter 40 of the Administrative upon additional evidence in regard to the pertinent law of California in force at the
Code has been paid. time of the death of Mrs. Gibbs, also authorizing the introduction of evidence with
reference to the dates of the acquisition of the property involved in this suit and
The said order of the court of March 10, 1931, recites that the parcels of land with reference to the California law in force at the time of such acquisition. The
covered by said certificates of title formerly belonged to the conjugal partnership of case is now before us with the supplementary evidence.
Allison D. Gibbs and Eva Johnson Gibbs; that the latter died intestate in Palo Alto,
California, on November 28, 1929; that at the time of her death she and her For the purposes of this case, we shall consider the following facts as established
husband were citizens of the State of California and domiciled therein. by the evidence or the admissions of the parties: Allison D. Gibbs has been
continuously, since the year 1902, a citizen of the State of California and domiciled
It appears further from said order that Allison D. Gibbs was appointed administrator therein; that he and Eva Johnson Gibbs were married at Columbus, Ohio, in July
of the state of his said deceased wife in case No. 36795 in the same court, entitled 1906; that there was no antenuptial marriage contract between the parties; that
"In the Matter of the Intestate Estate of Eva Johnson Gibbs, Deceased"; that in during the existence of said marriage the spouses acquired the following lands,
said intestate proceedings, the said Allison D. Gibbs, on September 22,1930, filed among others, in the Philippine Islands, as conjugal property:lawphil.net
an ex partepetition in which he alleged "that the parcels of land hereunder
described belong to the conjugal partnership of your petitioner and his wife, Eva 1. A parcel of land in the City of Manila represented by transfer certificate of title
Johnson Gibbs", describing in detail the three facts here involved; and further No. 20880, dated March 16, 1920, and registered in the name of "Allison D. Gibbs
alleging that his said wife, a citizen and resident of California, died on November casado con Eva Johnson Gibbs".
28,1929; that in accordance with the law of California, the community property of
spouses who are citizens of California, upon the death of the wife previous to that 2. A parcel of land in the City of Manila, represented by transfer certificate of title
of the husband, belongs absolutely to the surviving husband without administration; No. 28336, dated May 14, 1927, in which it is certified "that spouses Allison D.
that the conjugal partnership of Allison D. Gibbs and Eva Johnson Gibbs,
Gibbs and Eva Johnson Gibbs are the owners in fee simple" of the land therein
deceased, has no obligations or debts and no one will be prejudiced by adjucating described.
said parcels of land (and seventeen others not here involved) to be the absolute
property of the said Allison D. Gibbs as sole owner. The court granted said petition
and on September 22, 1930, entered a decree adjucating the said Allison D. Gibbs 3. A parcel of land in the City of Manila, represented by transfer certificate of title
to be the sole and absolute owner of said lands, applying section 1401 of the Civil No. 28331, dated April 6, 1927, which it states "that Allison D. Gibbs married to
Code of California. Gibbs presented this decree to the register of deeds of Manila Eva Johnson Gibbs" is the owner of the land described therein; that said Eva
and demanded that the latter issue to him a "transfer certificate of title". Johnson Gibbs died intestate on November 28, 1929, living surviving her her
husband, the appellee, and two sons, Allison J. Gibbs , now age 25 and Finley J.
Gibbs, now aged 22, as her sole heirs of law.
Section 1547 of Article XI of Chapter 40 of the Administrative Code provides in part
that:
Article XI of Chapter 40 of the Administrative Code entitled "Tax on inheritances, Nevertheless, legal and testamentary successions, in respect to the order
legacies and other acquisitions mortis causa" provides in section 1536 that "Every of succession as well as to the amount of the successional rights and the
transmission by virtue of inheritance ... of real property ... shall be subject to the intrinsic validity of their provisions, shall be regulated by the national law of
following tax." It results that the question for determination in this case is as the person whose succession is in question, whatever may be the nature
follows: Was Eva Johnson Gibbs at the time of her death the owner of a of the property or the country in which it may be situated.
descendible interest in the Philippine lands above-mentioned?
In construing the above language we are met at the outset with some difficulty by
The appellee contends that the law of California should determine the nature and the expression "the national law of the person whose succession is in question", by
extent of the title, if any, that vested in Eva Johnson Gibbs under the three reason of the rather anomalous political status of the Philippine Islands. (Cf.
certificates of title Nos. 20880, 28336 and 28331 above referred to, citing article 9 Manresa, vol. 1, Codigo Civil, pp. 103, 104.) We encountered no difficulty in
of the Civil Code. But that, even if the nature and extent of her title under said applying article 10 in the case of a citizen of Turkey. (Miciano vs. Brimo, 50 Phil.,
certificates be governed by the law of the Philippine Islands, the laws of California 867.) Having regard to the practical autonomy of the Philippine Islands, as above
govern the succession to such title, citing the second paragraph of article 10 of the stated, we have concluded that if article 10 is applicable and the estate in question
Civil Code. is that of a deceased American citizen, the succession shall be regulated in
accordance with the norms of the State of his domicile in the United States. (Cf.
Article 9 of the Civil Code is as follows: Babcock Templeton vs. Rider Babcock, 52 Phil., 130, 137; In re Estate of Johnson,
39 Phil., 156, 166.)
The laws relating to family rights and duties, or to the status, condition,
and legal capacity of persons, are binding upon Spaniards even though The trial court found that under the law of California, upon the death of the wife, the
they reside in a foreign country." It is argued that the conjugal right of the entire community property without administration belongs to the surviving husband;
California wife in community real estate in the Philippine Islands is a that he is the absolute owner of all the community property from the moment of the
personal right and must, therefore, be settled by the law governing her death of his wife, not by virtue of succession or by virtue of her death, but by virtue
personal status, that is, the law of California. But our attention has not of the fact that when the death of the wife precedes that of the husband he
been called to any law of California that incapacitates a married woman acquires the community property, not as an heir or as the beneficiary of his
from acquiring or holding land in a foreign jurisdiction in accordance with deceased wife, but because she never had more than an inchoate interest or
the lex rei sitae. There is not the slightest doubt that a California married expentancy which is extinguished upon her death. Quoting the case of Estate of
woman can acquire title to land in a common law jurisdiction like the State Klumpke (167 Cal., 415, 419), the court said: "The decisions under this section
of Illinois or the District of Columbia, subject to the common-law estate by (1401 Civil Code of California) are uniform to the effect that the husband does not
the courtesy which would vest in her husband. Nor is there any doubt that take the community property upon the death of the wife by succession, but that he
if a California husband acquired land in such a jurisdiction his wife would holds it all from the moment of her death as though required by himself. ... It never
be vested with the common law right of dower, the prerequisite conditions belonged to the estate of the deceased wife."
obtaining. Article 9 of the Civil Code treats of purely personal relations and
status and capacity for juristic acts, the rules relating to property, both The argument of the appellee apparently leads to this dilemma: If he takes nothing
personal and real, being governed by article 10 of the Civil Code. by succession from his deceased wife, how can the second paragraph of article 10
Furthermore, article 9, by its very terms, is applicable only to "Spaniards" be invoked? Can the appellee be heard to say that there is a legal succession
(now, by construction, to citizens of the Philippine Islands). under the law of the Philippine Islands and no legal succession under the law of
California? It seems clear that the second paragraph of article 10 applies only
The Organic Act of the Philippine Islands (Act of Congress, August 29, when a legal or testamentary succession has taken place in the Philippines and in
1916, known as the "Jones Law") as regards the determination of private accordance with the law of the Philippine Islands; and the foreign law is consulted
rights, grants practical autonomy to the Government of the Philippine only in regard to the order of succession or the extent of the successional rights; in
Islands. This Government, therefore, may apply the principles and rules of other words, the second paragraph of article 10 can be invoked only when the
private international law (conflicts of laws) on the same footing as an deceased was vested with a descendible interest in property within the jurisdiction
organized territory or state of the United States. We should, therefore, of the Philippine Islands.
resort to the law of California, the nationality and domicile of Mrs. Gibbs, to
ascertain the norm which would be applied here as law were there any In the case of Clarke vs. Clarke (178 U. S., 186, 191; 44 Law ed., 1028, 1031), the
question as to her status. court said:

But the appellant's chief argument and the sole basis of the lower court's decision It is principle firmly established that to the law of the state in which the land
rests upon the second paragraph of article 10 of the Civil Code which is as follows: is situated we must look for the rules which govern its descent, alienation,
and transfer, and for the effect and construction of wills and other
conveyances. (United States vs. Crosby, 7 Cranch, 115; 3 L. ed., 287;
Clark vs. Graham, 6 Wheat., 577; 5 L. ed., 334; McGoon vs. Scales, 9 certificates, No. 28336, dated May 14, 1927, introduced by him in evidence, in
Wall., 23; 19 L. ed., 545; Brine vs. Hartford F. Ins. Co., 96 U. S., 627; 24 L. which it is certified that "the spouses Allison D. Gibbs and Eva Johnson Gibbs are
ed., 858.)" (See also Estate of Lloyd, 175 Cal., 704, 705.) This the owners in fee simple of the conjugal lands therein described."
fundamental principle is stated in the first paragraph of article 10 of our
Civil Code as follows: "Personal property is subject to the laws of the The descendible interest of Eva Johnson Gibbs in the lands aforesaid was
nation of the owner thereof; real property to the laws of the country in transmitted to her heirs by virtue of inheritance and this transmission plainly falls
which it is situated. within the language of section 1536 of Article XI of Chapter 40 of the Administrative
Code which levies a tax on inheritances. (Cf. Re Estate of Majot, 199 N. Y., 29; 92
It is stated in 5 Cal. Jur., 478: N. E., 402; 29 L. R. A. [N. S.], 780.) It is unnecessary in this proceeding to
determine the "order of succession" or the "extent of the successional rights"
In accord with the rule that real property is subject to the lex rei sitae, the (article 10, Civil Code, supra) which would be regulated by section 1386 of the Civil
respective rights of husband and wife in such property, in the absence of Code of California which was in effect at the time of the death of Mrs. Gibbs.
an antenuptial contract, are determined by the law of the place where the
property is situated, irrespective of the domicile of the parties or to the The record does not show what the proper amount of the inheritance tax in this
place where the marriage was celebrated. (See also Saul vs. His case would be nor that the appellee (petitioner below) in any way challenged the
Creditors, 5 Martin [N. S.], 569; 16 Am. Dec., 212 [La.]; Heidenheimer vs. power of the Government to levy an inheritance tax or the validity of the statute
Loring, 26 S. W., 99 [Texas].) under which the register of deeds refused to issue a certificate of transfer reciting
that the appellee is the exclusive owner of the Philippine lands included in the three
Under this broad principle, the nature and extent of the title which vested in Mrs. certificates of title here involved.
Gibbs at the time of the acquisition of the community lands here in question must
be determined in accordance with the lex rei sitae. The judgment of the court below of March 10, 1931, is reversed with directions to
dismiss the petition, without special pronouncement as to the costs.
It is admitted that the Philippine lands here in question were acquired as
community property of the conjugal partnership of the appellee and his wife. Under
the law of the Philippine Islands, she was vested of a title equal to that of her
husband. Article 1407 of the Civil Code provides:

All the property of the spouses shall be deemed partnership property in


the absence of proof that it belongs exclusively to the husband or to the
wife. Article 1395 provides:

"The conjugal partnership shall be governed by the rules of law applicable to the
contract of partnership in all matters in which such rules do not conflict with the
express provisions of this chapter." Article 1414 provides that "the husband may
dispose by will of his half only of the property of the conjugal partnership." Article
1426 provides that upon dissolution of the conjugal partnership and after inventory
and liquidation, "the net remainder of the partnership property shall be divided
share and share alike between the husband and wife, or their respective heirs."
Under the provisions of the Civil Code and the jurisprudence prevailing here, the
wife, upon the acquisition of any conjugal property, becomes immediately vested
with an interest and title therein equal to that of her husband, subject to the power
of management and disposition which the law vests in the husband. Immediately
upon her death, if there are no obligations of the decedent, as is true in the present
case, her share in the conjugal property is transmitted to her heirs by succession.
(Articles 657, 659, 661, Civil Code; cf. also Coronel vs. Ona, 33 Phil., 456, 469.)

It results that the wife of the appellee was, by the law of the Philippine Islands,
vested of a descendible interest, equal to that of her husband, in the Philippine
lands covered by certificates of title Nos. 20880, 28336 and 28331, from the date
of their acquisition to the date of her death. That appellee himself believed that his
wife was vested of such a title and interest in manifest from the second of said