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Codoy and Ramonal v Calugay, Salcedo and Patigas 1999 | Pardo, J. 1.

April 6, 1990: Respondents who are devisees and legatees of the holographic will of deceased Matilde Ramonal filed with RTC a petition for probate of the latters (died January 16, 1990) holographic will. They alleged that the deceased was of sound and disposing mind when she executed the will on August 30, 1970; No fraud, undue influence and duress was employed; Will written voluntarily; Property valued at 400k at time of death; June 28, 1990: petitioners opposed the petition for probate: Holographic will a forger; same is even illegible; A third hand executed the will other than the true hand of deceased; Repeated dates appearing on the will after every disposition is out of the ordinary; Dates should appear at the bottom after the dispositions, as regularly done and not after every disposition; Assuming the will is in the handwriting of deceased, it was procured by undue pressure and influence on the part of the beneficiaries; Respondents: presented 6 witnesses and documentary evidence; Petitioners filed a demurrer which lower court granted; Respondents appealed; they reiterated the following testimonies; Neri (Clerk of Court): produced and identified records of the case; documents presented bore the signature of the deceased for the purpose of laying the basis for comparison of the handwriting of the testatrix with writing admitted as genuine by the party against whom the evidence is offered; Senon (election registrar of Cagayan de Oro): was presented to produce voters affidavit of decent; but the affidavit was not produced because it was already destroyed; Matilde Ramonal Binanay: said deceased was her aunt; she lived with her (after deceaseds husband died) in her parents house for 11 years; she had close association with deceased and acquired familiarity with her signature and handwriting as she accompanied her in collecting rentals then from tenants in commercial buildings (because deceased always issued receipts); she assisted her

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with posting records of accounts and carried personal letters of deceased to creditors; Waga (City fiscal): when he was still a practicing lawyer, he handled pleadings and documents by deceased in connection with intestate proceedings of her late husband; he said the signature on the will similar to that of deceased, but he cannot be sure; Vedad (DENR employee): processed application of deceased for pasture permit and familiar with her signature; Calugay (respondent): lived with deceased since birth; adopted by her; after a long time, became familiar with deceased; testified that the signature in the will is true and genuine; Will written in Visayan; Content: land and jewelry given to several people; that she be buried where her husband is; CA found the appeal meritorious; it cited Azaola v Singson penned by Justice JBL Reyes; Court emphasized in CAsruling: even if the genuineness of the



holographic will were contested; Where the will is holographic, no witness need be present (art.10), and the rule requiring production of three witnesses must be deemed merely permissive if absurd results are to be avoided. And the rule requiring the production of three witnesses is merely permissive; CA said that Evangeline Calugay, Matilde Ramonal Binanay and other witnesses definitely and in no uncertain terms testified that the handwriting and signature in the holographic will were those of the testator herself; thus upon unrebutted testimony of Calugay and Binanay, CA sustained the authenticity of the will and the handwriting and signature;


W/N the provisions of Article 811 of the Civil Code are permissive or mandatory. The article provides, as a requirement for the probate of a contested holographic will, that at least three witnesses explicitly declare that the signature in the will is the genuine signature of the testator. Yes.
Held and Ratio: Court convinced, based on language of 811, that it is mandatory:

word shall connotes a mandatory order; shall in a statute commonly denotes an imperative obligation and is inconsistent with the idea of discretion and that the presumption is that the word shall, when used in a statute is mandatory;

Laws are enacted to achieve a goal intended and to guide against an evil or mischief that aims to prevent: At case: goal to achieve is to give effect to the wishes of the deceased and the evil to be prevented is the possibility that unscrupulous individuals who for their benefit will employ means to defeat the wishes of the testator;
Not all witnesses presented by respondents testified explicitly that they were familiar with the handwriting of the testator: Neri(Clerk of Court): merely identified the

record of Special Proceedings No. 427 before said court. He was not presented to declare explicitly that the signature appearing in the holographic was that of the deceased. Senon (election registrar): presented to identify signature of deceased in voters affidavit which was not even produced because it was already no longer available; Binanay (niece): what she saw was pre-prepared receipts and letters of deceased; She did not

Only chance at comparison was during the cross-examination of Ms. Binanay when the lawyer of petitioners asked Ms. Binanay to compare the documents which contained the signature of the deceased with that of the holographic will and she is not a handwriting expert; Even the former lawyer of deceased is not sure of the authenticity of the signatures; Visual examination of the holographic convinced the Court that the strokes are different when compared with other documents written by the testator; Signatures in some of the disposition is not readable; there were uneven strokes, retracing and erasures; Comparing a letter date 1978 and the signatures in several documents such as the application for pasture permit dated 1980, and a letter dated 1978, the strokes are different; In the letters, there are continuous flows of the strokes, evidencing that there is no hesitation in writing unlike that of the holographic will.

APPEALED DECISION SET ASIDE. REMANDED. Petitioners to be allowed to adduce evidence in support of their opposition to probate.

declare that she saw the deceased sign a document or write a note; on cross, counsel of petitioners elicited a fact that the will was not found in deceased belongings; that she took it from her mothers aparador when she died; SC notes that evident that Ms. Binanay kept the fact about the will from petitioners, the legally adopted children of the deceased; Such actions put in issue her motive of keeping the will a secret to petitioners and revealing it only after deceased died; Calugay (respondent): only reason that she gave that she was familiar with the handwriting of deceased was because she lived with her since birth; she never declared that she saw the deceased write a note or sign a docment; Waga (fiscal, then lawyer of deceased): he said he is not sure;

From these testimonies, CA allowed probate and disregarded the requirement of 3 witnesses in case of

contested holographic will, citing the decision in Azaola vs. Singson, ruling that the requirement is merely directory and not mandatory. There was no opportunity for an expert to compare the signature and the handwriting of the deceased with other documents signed and executed by her during her lifetime;