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G.R. Nos.

140371-72
November 27, 2006
DY YIENG SEANGIO, BARBARA D. SEANGIO and VIRGINIA D. SEANGIO, Petitioners,
vs.
HON. AMOR A. REYES, in her capacity as Presiding Judge, Regional Trial Court, National
Capital Judicial Region, Branch 21, Manila, ALFREDO D. SEANGIO, ALBERTO D.
SEANGIO, ELISA D. SEANGIO-SANTOS, VICTOR D. SEANGIO, ALFONSO D. SEANGIO,
SHIRLEY D.
SEANGIO-LIM, BETTY D.
SEANGIO-OBAS
and
JAMES
D.
SEANGIO, Respondents.
DECISION
AZCUNA, J.:
This is a petition for certiorari1 with application for the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction
and/or temporary restraining order seeking the nullification of the orders, dated August 10, 1999
and October 14, 1999, of the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 21 (the RTC), dismissing
the petition for probate on the ground of preterition, in the consolidated cases, docketed as SP.
Proc. No. 98-90870 and SP. Proc. No. 99-93396, and entitled, "In the Matter of the Intestate
Estate of Segundo C. Seangio v. Alfredo D. Seangio, et al." and "In the Matter of the Probate of
the Will of Segundo C. Seangio v. Dy Yieng Seangio, Barbara D. Seangio and Virginia Seangio."
The facts of the cases are as follows:
On September 21, 1988, private respondents filed a petition for the settlement of the intestate
estate of the late Segundo Seangio, docketed as Sp. Proc. No. 9890870 of the RTC, and
praying for the appointment of private respondent Elisa D. SeangioSantos as special
administrator and guardian ad litem of petitioner Dy Yieng Seangio.
Petitioners Dy Yieng, Barbara and Virginia, all surnamed Seangio, opposed the petition. They
contended that: 1) Dy Yieng is still very healthy and in full command of her faculties; 2) the
deceased Segundo executed a general power of attorney in favor of Virginia giving her the
power to manage and exercise control and supervision over his business in the Philippines; 3)
Virginia is the most competent and qualified to serve as the administrator of the estate of
Segundo because she is a certified public accountant; and, 4) Segundo left a holographic will,
dated September 20, 1995, disinheriting one of the private respondents, Alfredo Seangio, for
cause. In view of the purported holographic will, petitioners averred that in the event the
decedent is found to have left a will, the intestate proceedings are to be automatically
suspended and replaced by the proceedings for the probate of the will.
On April 7, 1999, a petition for the probate of the holographic will of Segundo, docketed as SP.
Proc. No. 9993396, was filed by petitioners before the RTC. They likewise reiterated that the
probate proceedings should take precedence over SP. Proc. No. 9890870 because testate
proceedings take precedence and enjoy priority over intestate proceedings. 2
The document that petitioners refer to as Segundos holographic will is quoted, as follows:
Kasulatan sa pag-aalis ng mana
Tantunin ng sinuman
Ako si Segundo Seangio Filipino may asawa naninirahan sa 465-A Flores St., Ermita, Manila at
nagtatalay ng maiwanag na pag-iisip at disposisyon ay tahasan at hayagang inaalisan ko ng
lahat at anumang mana ang paganay kong anak na si Alfredo Seangio dahil siya ay naging
lapastangan sa akin at isan beses siya ng sasalita ng masama harapan ko at mga kapatid niya
na si Virginia Seangio labis kong kinasama ng loob ko at sasabe rin ni Alfredo sa akin na ako
nasa ibabaw gayon gunit daratin ang araw na ako nasa ilalim siya at siya nasa ibabaw.
Labis kong ikinasama ng loob ko ang gamit ni Alfredo ng akin pagalan para makapagutang na
kuarta siya at kanya asawa na si Merna de los Reyes sa China Bangking Corporation na millon
pesos at hindi ng babayad at hindi ng babayad ito ay nagdulot sa aking ng malaking kahihiya sa
mga may-ari at stockholders ng China Banking.
At ikinagalit ko pa rin ang pagkuha ni Alfredo at ng kanyang asawa na mga custome[r] ng Travel
Center of the Philippines na pinagasiwaan ko at ng anak ko si Virginia.
Dito ako nagalit din kaya gayon ayoko na bilanin si Alfredo ng anak ko at hayanan kong
inaalisan ng lahat at anoman mana na si Alfredo at si Alfredo Seangio ay hindi ko siya anak at
hindi siya makoha mana.
Nila[g]daan ko ngayon ika 20 ng Setyembre 1995 sa longsod ng Manila sa harap ng tatlong
saksi. 3
(signed)

Segundo Seangio
Nilagdaan sa harap namin
(signed)
Dy Yieng Seangio (signed)
Unang Saksi ikalawang saksi
(signed)
ikatlong saksi
On May 29, 1999, upon petitioners motion, SP. Proc. No. 9890870 and SP. Proc. No. 99
93396 were consolidated.4
On July 1, 1999, private respondents moved for the dismissal of the probate
proceedings5 primarily on the ground that the document purporting to be the holographic will of
Segundo does not contain any disposition of the estate of the deceased and thus does not meet
the definition of a will under Article 783 of the Civil Code. According to private respondents, the
will only shows an alleged act of disinheritance by the decedent of his eldest son, Alfredo, and
nothing else; that all other compulsory heirs were not named nor instituted as heir, devisee or
legatee, hence, there is preterition which would result to intestacy. Such being the case, private
respondents maintained that while procedurally the court is called upon to rule only on the
extrinsic validity of the will, it is not barred from delving into the intrinsic validity of the same, and
ordering the dismissal of the petition for probate when on the face of the will it is clear that it
contains no testamentary disposition of the property of the decedent.
Petitioners filed their opposition to the motion to dismiss contending that: 1) generally, the
authority of the probate court is limited only to a determination of the extrinsic validity of the will;
2) private respondents question the intrinsic and not the extrinsic validity of the will; 3)
disinheritance constitutes a disposition of the estate of a decedent; and, 4) the rule on preterition
does not apply because Segundos will does not constitute a universal heir or heirs to the
exclusion of one or more compulsory heirs.6
On August 10, 1999, the RTC issued its assailed order, dismissing the petition for probate
proceedings:
A perusal of the document termed as "will" by oppositors/petitioners Dy Yieng Seangio, et al.,
clearly shows that there is preterition, as the only heirs mentioned thereat are Alfredo and
Virginia. [T]he other heirs being omitted, Article 854 of the New Civil Code thus applies.
However, insofar as the widow Dy Yieng Seangio is concerned, Article 854 does not apply, she
not being a compulsory heir in the direct line.
As such, this Court is bound to dismiss this petition, for to do otherwise would amount to an
abuse of discretion. The Supreme Court in the case of Acain v. Intermediate Appellate Court
[155 SCRA 100 (1987)] has made its position clear: "for respondents to have tolerated the
probate of the will and allowed the case to progress when, on its face, the will appears to be
intrinsically void would have been an exercise in futility. It would have meant a waste of time,
effort, expense, plus added futility. The trial court could have denied its probate outright or could
have passed upon the intrinsic validity of the testamentary provisions before the extrinsic validity
of the will was resolved(underscoring supplied).
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Motion to Suspend Proceedings is hereby DENIED for
lack of merit. Special Proceedings No. 9993396 is hereby DISMISSED without pronouncement
as to costs.
SO ORDERED.7
Petitioners motion for reconsideration was denied by the RTC in its order dated October 14,
1999.
Petitioners contend that:
THE RESPONDENT JUDGE ACTED IN EXCESS OF HER JURISDICTION OR WITH GRAVE
ABUSE OF DISCRETION AMOUNTING TO LACK OR EXCESS OF JURISDICTION AND
DECIDED A QUESTION OF LAW NOT IN ACCORD WITH LAW AND JURISPRUDENCE IN
ISSUING THE QUESTIONED ORDERS, DATED 10 AUGUST 1999 AND 14 OCTOBER 1999
(ATTACHMENTS "A" AND "B" HEREOF) CONSIDERING THAT:
I
THE RESPONDENT JUDGE, WITHOUT EVEN COMPLYING WITH SECTIONS 3 AND 4 OF
RULE 76 OF THE RULES OF COURT ON THE PROPER PROCEDURE FOR SETTING THE
CASE FOR INITIAL HEARING FOR THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE JURISDICTIONAL

SUCCESION: SEANGIO TO RABADILLA 1

FACTS, DISMISSED THE TESTATE CASE ON THE ALLEGED GROUND THAT THE
TESTATORS WILL IS VOID ALLEGEDLY BECAUSE OF THE EXISTENCE OF
PRETERITION, WHICH GOES INTO THE INTRINSIC VALIDITY OF THE WILL, DESPITE THE
FACT THAT IT IS A SETTLED RULE THAT THE AUTHORITY OF PROBATE COURTS IS
LIMITED ONLY TO A DETERMINATION OF THE EXTRINSIC VALIDITY OF THE WILL, I.E.,
THE DUE EXECUTION THEREOF, THE TESTATORS TESTAMENTARY CAPACITY AND
THE COMPLIANCE WITH THE REQUISITES OR SOLEMNITIES PRESCRIBED BY LAW;
II
EVEN ASSUMING ARGUENDO THAT THE RESPONDENT JUDGE HAS THE AUTHORITY
TO RULE UPON THE INTRINSIC VALIDITY OF THE WILL OF THE TESTATOR, IT IS
INDUBITABLE FROM THE FACE OF THE TESTATORS WILL THAT NO PRETERITON
EXISTS AND THAT THE WILL IS BOTH INTRINSICALLY AND EXTRINSICALLY VALID; AND,
III
RESPONDENT JUDGE WAS DUTY BOUND TO SUSPEND THE PROCEEDINGS IN THE
INTESTATE CASE CONSIDERING THAT IT IS A SETTLED RULE THAT TESTATE
PROCEEDINGS TAKE PRECEDENCE OVER INTESTATE PROCEEDINGS.
Petitioners argue, as follows:
First, respondent judge did not comply with Sections 3 and 4 of Rule 76 of the Rules of Court
which respectively mandate the court to: a) fix the time and place for proving the will when all
concerned may appear to contest the allowance thereof, and cause notice of such time and
place to be published three weeks successively previous to the appointed time in a newspaper
of general circulation; and, b) cause the mailing of said notice to the heirs, legatees and
devisees of the testator Segundo;
Second, the holographic will does not contain any institution of an heir, but rather, as its title
clearly states,Kasulatan ng Pag-Aalis ng Mana, simply contains a disinheritance of a compulsory
heir. Thus, there is no preterition in the decedents will and the holographic will on its face is not
intrinsically void;
Third, the testator intended all his compulsory heirs, petitioners and private respondents alike,
with the sole exception of Alfredo, to inherit his estate. None of the compulsory heirs in the direct
line of Segundo were preterited in the holographic will since there was no institution of an heir;
Fourth, inasmuch as it clearly appears from the face of the holographic will that it is both
intrinsically and extrinsically valid, respondent judge was mandated to proceed with the hearing
of the testate case; and,
Lastly, the continuation of the proceedings in the intestate case will work injustice to petitioners,
and will render nugatory the disinheritance of Alfredo.
The purported holographic will of Segundo that was presented by petitioners was dated, signed
and written by him in his own handwriting. Except on the ground of preterition, private
respondents did not raise any issue as regards the authenticity of the document.
The document, entitled Kasulatan ng Pag-Aalis ng Mana, unmistakably showed Segundos
intention of excluding his eldest son, Alfredo, as an heir to his estate for the reasons that he
cited therein. In effect, Alfredo was disinherited by Segundo.
For disinheritance to be valid, Article 916 of the Civil Code requires that the same must be
effected through a will wherein the legal cause therefor shall be specified. With regard to the
reasons for the disinheritance that were stated by Segundo in his document, the Court believes
that the incidents, taken as a whole, can be considered a form of maltreatment of Segundo by
his son, Alfredo, and that the matter presents a sufficient cause for the disinheritance of a child
or descendant under Article 919 of the Civil Code:
Article 919. The following shall be sufficient causes for the disinheritance of children and
descendants, legitimate as well as illegitimate:
(1) When a child or descendant has been found guilty of an attempt against the life of
the testator, his or her spouse, descendants, or ascendants;
(2) When a child or descendant has accused the testator of a crime for which the law
prescribes imprisonment for six years or more, if the accusation has been found
groundless;
(3) When a child or descendant has been convicted of adultery or concubinage with
the spouse of the testator;

(4) When a child or descendant by fraud, violence, intimidation, or undue influence


causes the testator to make a will or to change one already made;
(5) A refusal without justifiable cause to support the parents or ascendant who
disinherit such child or descendant;
(6) Maltreatment of the testator by word or deed, by the child or descendant; 8
(7) When a child or descendant leads a dishonorable or disgraceful life;
(8) Conviction of a crime which carries with it the penalty of civil interdiction.
Now, the critical issue to be determined is whether the document executed by Segundo can be
considered as a holographic will.
A holographic will, as provided under Article 810 of the Civil Code, must be entirely written,
dated, and signed by the hand of the testator himself. It is subject to no other form, and may be
made in or out of the Philippines, and need not be witnessed.
Segundos document, although it may initially come across as a mere disinheritance instrument,
conforms to the formalities of a holographic will prescribed by law. It is written, dated and signed
by the hand of Segundo himself. An intent to dispose mortis causa[9] can be clearly deduced
from the terms of the instrument, and while it does not make an affirmative disposition of the
latters property, the disinheritance of Alfredo, nonetheless, is an act of disposition in itself. In
other words, the disinheritance results in the disposition of the property of the testator Segundo
in favor of those who would succeed in the absence of Alfredo. 10
Moreover, it is a fundamental principle that the intent or the will of the testator, expressed in the
form and within the limits prescribed by law, must be recognized as the supreme law in
succession. All rules of construction are designed to ascertain and give effect to that intention. It
is only when the intention of the testator is contrary to law, morals, or public policy that it cannot
be given effect.11
Holographic wills, therefore, being usually prepared by one who is not learned in the law, as
illustrated in the present case, should be construed more liberally than the ones drawn by an
expert, taking into account the circumstances surrounding the execution of the instrument and
the intention of the testator.12 In this regard, the Court is convinced that the document, even if
captioned as Kasulatan ng Pag-Aalis ng Mana, was intended by Segundo to be his last
testamentary act and was executed by him in accordance with law in the form of a holographic
will. Unless the will is probated,13 the disinheritance cannot be given effect.14
With regard to the issue on preterition,15 the Court believes that the compulsory heirs in the
direct line were not preterited in the will. It was, in the Courts opinion, Segundos last expression
to bequeath his estate to all his compulsory heirs, with the sole exception of Alfredo. Also,
Segundo did not institute an heir16 to the exclusion of his other compulsory heirs. The mere
mention of the name of one of the petitioners, Virginia, in the document did not operate to
institute her as the universal heir. Her name was included plainly as a witness to the altercation
between Segundo and his son, Alfredo.1wphi1
Considering that the questioned document is Segundos holographic will, and that the law favors
testacy over intestacy, the probate of the will cannot be dispensed with. Article 838 of the Civil
Code provides that no will shall pass either real or personal property unless it is proved and
allowed in accordance with the Rules of Court. Thus, unless the will is probated, the right of a
person to dispose of his property may be rendered nugatory. 17
In view of the foregoing, the trial court, therefore, should have allowed the holographic will to be
probated. It is settled that testate proceedings for the settlement of the estate of the decedent
take precedence over intestate proceedings for the same purpose. 18
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The Orders of the Regional Trial Court of Manila,
Branch 21, dated August 10, 1999 and October 14, 1999, are set aside. Respondent judge is
directed to reinstate and hear SP Proc. No. 99-93396 for the allowance of the holographic will of
Segundo Seangio. The intestate case or SP. Proc. No. 98-90870 is hereby suspended until the
termination of the aforesaid testate proceedings.
No costs.
SO ORDERED.

SUCCESION: SEANGIO TO RABADILLA 2

G.R. No. 141882


March 11, 2005
J.L.T. AGRO, INC., represented by its Manager, JULIAN L. TEVES, Petitioner,
vs.
ANTONIO BALANSAG and HILARIA CADAYDAY, respondents.
DECISION
TINGA, J.:
Once again, the Court is faced with the perennial conflict of property claims between two sets of
heirs, a conflict ironically made grievous by the fact that the decedent in this case had resorted
to great lengths to allocate which properties should go to which set of heirs.
This is a Rule 45 petition assailing the Decision1 dated 30 September 1999 of the Court of
Appeals which reversed the Decision2 dated 7 May 1993 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC),
Branch 45, of Bais City, Negros Oriental.
The factual antecedents follow.
Don Julian L. Teves (Don Julian) contracted two marriages, first with Antonia Baena (Antonia),
and after her death, with Milagros Donio Teves (Milagros Donio). Don Julian had two children
with Antonia, namely: Josefa Teves Escao (Josefa) and Emilio Teves (Emilio). He had also four
(4) children with Milagros Donio, namely: Maria Evelyn Donio Teves (Maria Evelyn), Jose
Catalino Donio Teves (Jose Catalino), Milagros Reyes Teves (Milagros Reyes) and Pedro
Reyes Teves (Pedro).3
The present controversy involves a parcel of land covering nine hundred and fifty-four (954)
square meters, known as Lot No. 63 of the Bais Cadastre, which was originally registered in the
name of the conjugal partnership of Don Julian and Antonia under Original Certificate of Title
(OCT) No. 5203 of the Registry of Deeds of Bais City. When Antonia died, the land was among
the properties involved in an action for partition and damages docketed as Civil Case No. 3443
entitled "Josefa Teves Escao v. Julian Teves, Emilio B. Teves, et al." 4 Milagros Donio, the
second wife of Don Julian, participated as an intervenor. Thereafter, the parties to the case
entered into a Compromise Agreement5 which embodied the partition of all the properties of Don
Julian.
On the basis of the compromise agreement and approving the same, the Court of First Instance
(CFI) of Negros Oriental, 12th Judicial District, rendered a Decision6 dated 31 January 1964. The
CFI decision declared a tract of land known as Hacienda Medalla Milagrosa as property owned
in common by Don Julian and his two (2) children of the first marriage. The property was to
remain undivided during the lifetime of Don Julian.7 Josefa and Emilio likewise were given other
properties at Bais, including the electric plant, the "movie property," the commercial areas, and
the house where Don Julian was living. The remainder of the properties was retained by Don
Julian, including Lot No. 63.
Paragraph 13 of the Compromise Agreement, at the heart of the present dispute, lays down the
effect of the eventual death of Don Julian vis--vis his heirs:
13. That in the event of death of Julian L. Teves, the properties hereinafter adjudicated
to Josefa Teves Escao and Emilio B. Teves, (excluding the properties comprised as
Hacienda Medalla Milagrosa together with all its accessories and accessions) shall be
understood as including not only their one-half share which they inherited from their
mother but also the legitimes and other successional rights which would correspond to
them of the other half belonging to their father, Julian L. Teves. In other words, the
properties now selected and adjudicated to Julian L. Teves (not including his
share in the Hacienda Medalla Milagrosa) shall exclusively be adjudicated to the
wife in second marriage of Julian L. Teves and his four minor children, namely,
Milagros Donio Teves, his two acknowledged natural children Milagros Reyes Teves
and Pedro Reyes Teves and his two legitimated children Maria Evelyn Donio Teves
and Jose Catalino Donio Teves. (Emphasis supplied)
On 16 November 1972, Don Julian, Emilio and Josefa executed a Deed of Assignment of Assets
with Assumption of Liabilities8 in favor of J.L.T. Agro, Inc. (petitioner). Less than a year later,
Don Julian, Josefa and Emilio also executed an instrument entitled Supplemental to the Deed of
Assignment of Assets with the Assumption of Liabilities (Supplemental Deed) 9 dated 31 July
1973. This instrument which constitutes a supplement to the earlier deed of assignment
transferred ownership over Lot No. 63, among other properties, in favor of petitioner. 10 On 14
April 1974, Don Julian died intestate.

On the strength of the Supplemental Deed in its favor, petitioner sought the registration of the
subject lot in its name. A court, so it appeared, issued an order11 cancelling OCT No. 5203 in the
name of spouses Don Julian and Antonia on 12 November 1979, and on the same date TCT No.
T-375 was issued in the name of petitioner.12 Since then, petitioner has been paying taxes
assessed on the subject lot.13
Meanwhile, Milagros Donio and her children had immediately taken possession over the subject
lot after the execution of the Compromise Agreement. In 1974, they entered into a yearly lease
agreement with spouses Antonio Balansag and Hilaria Cadayday, respondents herein. 14 On Lot
No. 63, respondents temporarily established their home and constructed a lumber yard.
Subsequently, Milagros Donio and her children executed a Deed of Extrajudicial Partition of Real
Estate15 dated 18 March 1980. In the deed of partition, Lot No. 63 was allotted to Milagros Donio
and her two (2) children, Maria Evelyn and Jose Catalino. Unaware that the subject lot was
already registered in the name of petitioner in 1979, respondents bought Lot No. 63 from
Milagros Donio as evidenced by the Deed of Absolute Sale of Real Estate16 dated 9 November
1983.
At the Register of Deeds while trying to register the deed of absolute sale, respondents
discovered that the lot was already titled in the name of petitioner. Thus, they failed to register
the deed.17
Respondents, as vendees of Lot No. 63, filed a complaint before the RTC Branch 45 of Bais
City, seeking the declaration of nullity and cancellation of TCT No. T-375 in the name of
petitioner and the transfer of the title to Lot No. 63 in their names, plus damages. 18
After hearing, the trial court dismissed the complaint filed by respondents. The dispositive
portion of the decision reads:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, by preponderance of evidence, this Court finds
judgment in favor of the defendant and against the plaintiff, and thus hereby orders:
(1) That complaint be dismissed;
(2) That plaintiffs vacate the subject land, particularly identified as Lot No.
63 registered under Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-375;
(3) That plaintiffs pay costs.
Finding no basis on the counterclaim by defendant, the same is hereby ordered
dismissed.19
The trial court ruled that the resolution of the case specifically hinged on the interpretation of
paragraph 13 of theCompromise Agreement.20 It added that the direct adjudication of the
properties listed in the Compromise Agreement was only in favor of Don Julian and his two
children by the first marriage, Josefa and Emilio. 21Paragraph 13 served only as an amplification
of the terms of the adjudication in favor of Don Julian and his two children by the first marriage.
According to the trial court, the properties adjudicated in favor of Josefa and Emilio comprised
their shares in the estate of their deceased mother Antonia, as well as their potential share in the
estate of Don Julian upon the latters death. Thus, upon Don Julians death, Josefa and Emilio
could not claim any share in his estate, except their proper share in the Hacienda Medalla
Milagrosa which was adjudicated in favor of Don Julian in the Compromise Agreement. As such,
the properties adjudicated in favor of Don Julian, except Hacienda Medalla Milagrosa, were free
from the forced legitimary rights of Josefa and Emilio, and Don Julian was under no impediment
to allocate the subject lot, among his other properties, to Milagros Donio and her four (4)
children.22
The trial court further stressed that with the use of the words "shall be," the adjudication in favor
of Milagros Donio and her four (4) children was not final and operative, as the lot was still subject
to future disposition by Don Julian during his lifetime. 23 It cited paragraph 1424 of
the Compromise Agreement in support of his conclusion.25 With Lot No. 63 being the conjugal
property of Don Julian and Antonia, the trial court also declared that Milagros Donio and her
children had no hereditary rights thereto except as to the conjugal share of Don Julian, which
they could claim only upon the death of the latter.26
The trial court ruled that at the time of Don Julians death on 14 April 1974, Lot No. 63 was no
longer a part of his estate since he had earlier assigned it to petitioner on 31 July 1973.
Consequently, the lot could not be a proper subject of extrajudicial partition by Milagros Donio
and her children, and not being the owners they could not have sold it. Had respondents
exercised prudence before buying the subject lot by investigating the registration of the same

SUCCESION: SEANGIO TO RABADILLA 3

with the Registry of Deeds, they would have discovered that five (5) years earlier, OCT No. 5203
had already been cancelled and replaced by TCT No. T-375 in the name of petitioner, the trial
court added.27
The Court of Appeals, however, reversed the trial courts decision. The decretal part of the
appellate decision reads:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the decision appealed from is hereby
REVERSED and SET ASIDE and a new one is entered declaring the Transfer
Certificate of Title No. T-375 registered in the name of J.L.T. Agro, Inc. as null and
void.
With costs against defendant J.L.T. Agro, Inc. represented by its Manager, Julian L.
Teves.
SO ORDERED.28
Per the appellate court, the Compromise Agreement incorporated in CFI decision dated 31
January 1964, particularly paragraph 13 thereof, determined, adjudicated and reserved to Don
Julians two sets of heirs their future legitimes in his estate except as regards his (Don Julians)
share in Hacienda Medalla Milagrosa.29 The two sets of heirs acquired full ownership and
possession of the properties respectively adjudicated to them in the CFI decision and Don Julian
himself could no longer dispose of the same, including Lot No. 63. The disposition in the CFI
decision constitutes res judicata.30 Don Julian could have disposed of only his conjugal share in
the Hacienda Medalla Milagrosa.31
The appellate court likewise emphasized that nobody in his right judgment would preterit his
legal heirs by simply executing a document like the Supplemental Deed which practically covers
all properties which Don Julian had reserved in favor of his heirs from the second marriage. It
also found out that the blanks reserved for the Book No. and Page No. at the upper right corner
of TCT No. T-375, "to identify the exact location where the said title was registered or
transferred," were not filled up, thereby indicating that the TCT is "spurious and of dubious
origin."32
Aggrieved by the appellate courts decision, petitioner elevated it to this Court via a petition for
review on certiorari, raising pure questions of law.
Before this Court, petitioner assigns as errors the following rulings of the appellate court, to wit:
(a) that future legitime can be determined, adjudicated and reserved prior to the death of Don
Julian; (b) that Don Julian had no right to dispose of or assign Lot No. 63 to petitioner because
he reserved the same for his heirs from the second marriage pursuant to the Compromise
Agreement; (c) that the Supplemental Deed was tantamount to a preterition of his heirs from the
second marriage; and (d) that TCT No. T-375 in the name of petitioner is spurious for not
containing entries on the Book No. and Page No.33
While most of petitioners legal arguments have merit, the application of the appropriate
provisions of law to the facts borne out by the evidence on record nonetheless warrants the
affirmance of the result reached by the Court of Appeals in favor of respondents.
Being the key adjudicative provision, paragraph 13 of the Compromise Agreement has to be
quoted again:
13. That in the event of death of Julian L. Teves, the properties herein adjudicated to
Josefa Teves Escao and Emilio B. Teves, (excluding the properties comprised as
Hacienda Medalla Milagrosa together with all its accessories and accessions) shall be
understood as including not only their one-half share which they inherited from their
mother but also the legitimes and other successional rights which would correspond to
them of the other half belonging to their father, Julian L.Teves. In other words, the
properties now selected and adjudicated to Julian L. Teves (not including his
share in the Hacienda Medalla Milagrosa) shall exclusively be adjudicated to the
wife in second marriage of Julian L. Teves and his four minor children, namely,
Milagros Donio Teves, his two acknowledged natural children Milagros Reyes
Teves and Pedro Reyes Teves and his two legitimated children Maria Evelyn
Donio Teves and Jose Catalino Donio Teves." (Emphasis supplied)
With the quoted paragraph as basis, the Court of Appeals ruled that the adjudication in favor of
the heirs of Don Julian from the second marriage became automatically operative upon the
approval of the Compromise Agreement, thereby vesting on them the right to validly dispose of
Lot No. 63 in favor of respondents.

Petitioner argues that the appellate court erred in holding that future legitime can be determined,
adjudicated and reserved prior to the death of Don Julian. The Court agrees. Our declaration
in Blas v. Santos34 is relevant, where we defined future inheritance as any property or right not
in existence or capable of determination at the time of the contract, that a person may in
the future acquire by succession. Article 1347 of the New Civil Code explicitly provides:
ART. 1347. All things which are not outside the commerce of men, including future
things, may be the object of a contract. All rights which are not intransmissible may
also be the object of contracts.
No contract may be entered into upon future inheritance except in cases
expressly authorized by law.
All services which are not contrary to law, morals, good customs, public order or public policy
may likewise be the object of a contract.
Well-entrenched is the rule that all things, even future ones, which are not outside the commerce
of man may be the object of a contract. The exception is that no contract may be entered into
with respect to future inheritance, and the exception to the exception is the partition inter
vivos referred to in Article 1080.35
For the inheritance to be considered "future," the succession must not have been opened at the
time of the contract.36 A contract may be classified as a contract upon future inheritance,
prohibited under the second paragraph of Article 1347, where the following requisites concur:
(1) That the succession has not yet been opened;
(2) That the object of the contract forms part of the inheritance; and
(3) That the promissor has, with respect to the object, an expectancy of a right which
is purely hereditary in nature.37
The first paragraph of Article 1080, which provides the exception to the exception and therefore
aligns with the general rule on future things, reads:
ART. 1080. Should a person make a partition of his estate by an act inter vivos, or by
will, such partition shall be respected, insofar as it does not prejudice the legitime of
the compulsory heirs.
....
In interpreting this provision, Justice Edgardo Paras advanced the opinion that if the partition is
made by an act inter vivos, no formalities are prescribed by the Article.38 The partition will of
course be effective only after death. It does not necessarily require the formalities of a will for
after all it is not the partition that is the mode of acquiring ownership. Neither will the formalities
of a donation be required since donation will not be the mode of acquiring the ownership here
after death; since no will has been made it follows that the mode will be succession (intestate
succession). Besides, the partition here is merely the physical determination of the part to be
given to each heir.39
The historical antecedent of Article 1080 of the New Civil Code is Article 1056 40 of the old Civil
Code. The only change in the provision is that Article 1080 now permits any person (not a
testator, as under the old law) to partition his estate by act inter vivos. This was intended to
abrogate the then prevailing doctrine that for a testator to partition his estate by an act inter
vivos, he must first make a will with all the formalities provided by law.41
Article 1056 of the old Civil Code (now Article 1080) authorizes a testator to partition inter
vivos his property, and distribute them among his heirs, and this partition is neither a donation
nor a testament, but an instrument of a special character, sui generis, which is revocable at
any time by the causante during his lifetime, and does not operate as a conveyance of title
until his death. It derives its binding force on the heirs from the respect due to the will of the
owner of the property, limited only by his creditors and the intangibility of the legitime of the
forced heirs.42
The partition inter vivos of the properties of Don Julian is undoubtedly valid pursuant to Article
1347. However, considering that it would become legally operative only upon the death of Don
Julian, the right of his heirs from the second marriage to the properties adjudicated to him under
the compromise agreement was but a mere expectancy. It was a bare hope of succession to the
property of their father. Being the prospect of a future acquisition, the interest by its nature was
inchoate. It had no attribute of property, and the interest to which it related was at the time
nonexistent and might never exist.43

SUCCESION: SEANGIO TO RABADILLA 4

Evidently, at the time of the execution of the deed of assignment covering Lot No. 63 in favor of
petitioner, Don Julian remained the owner of the property since ownership over the subject lot
would only pass to his heirs from the second marriage at the time of his death. Thus, as the
owner of the subject lot, Don Julian retained the absolute right to dispose of it during his lifetime.
His right cannot be challenged by Milagros Donio and her children on the ground that it had
already been adjudicated to them by virtue of the compromise agreement.
Emerging as the crucial question in this case is whether Don Julian had validly transferred
ownership of the subject lot during his lifetime. The lower court ruled that he had done so
through the Supplemental Deed. The appellate court disagreed, holding that the Supplemental
Deed is not valid, containing as it does a prohibited preterition of Don Julians heirs from the
second marriage. Petitioner contends that the ruling of the Court of Appeals is erroneous. The
contention is well-founded.
Article 854 provides that the preterition or omission of one, some, or all of the compulsory heirs
in the direct line, whether living at the time of the execution of the will or born after the death of
the testator, shall annul the institution of heir; but the devises and legacies shall be valid insofar
as they are not inofficious. Manresa defines preterition as the omission of the heir in the will,
either by not naming him at all or, while mentioning him as father, son, etc., by not instituting him
as heir without disinheriting him expressly, nor assigning to him some part of the properties. 44 It
is the total omission of a compulsory heir in the direct line from inheritance. 45 It consists in the
silence of the testator with regard to a compulsory heir, omitting him in the testament, either by
not mentioning him at all, or by not giving him anything in the hereditary property but without
expressly disinheriting him, even if he is mentioned in the will in the latter case. 46 But there is no
preterition where the testator allotted to a descendant a share less than the legitime, since there
was no total omission of a forced heir.47
In the case at bar, Don Julian did not execute a will since what he resorted to was a
partition inter vivos of his properties, as evidenced by the court approved Compromise
Agreement. Thus, it is premature if not irrelevant to speak of preterition prior to the death of Don
Julian in the absence of a will depriving a legal heir of his legitime. Besides, there are other
properties which the heirs from the second marriage could inherit from Don Julian upon his
death. A couple of provisions in the Compromise Agreement are indicative of Don Julians desire
along this line.48Hence, the total omission from inheritance of Don Julians heirs from the second
marriage, a requirement for preterition to exist, is hardly imaginable as it is unfounded.
Despite the debunking of respondents argument on preterition, still the petition would ultimately
rise or fall on whether there was a valid transfer effected by Don Julian to petitioner. Notably,
Don Julian was also the president and director of petitioner, and his daughter from the first
marriage, Josefa, was the treasurer thereof. There is of course no legal prohibition against such
a transfer to a family corporation. Yet close scrutiny is in order, especially considering that such
transfer would remove Lot No. 63 from the estate from which Milagros and her children could
inherit. Both the alleged transfer deed and the title which necessarily must have emanated from
it have to be subjected to incisive and detailed examination.
Well-settled, of course, is the rule that a certificate of title serves as evidence of an indefeasible
title to the property in favor of the person whose name appears therein. 49 A certificate of title
accumulates in one document a precise and correct statement of the exact status of the fee held
by its owner. The certificate, in the absence of fraud, is the evidence of title and shows exactly
the real interest of its owner.50
To successfully assail the juristic value of what a Torrens title establishes, a sufficient and
convincing quantum of evidence on the defect of the title must be adduced to overcome the
predisposition in law in favor of a holder of a Torrens title. Thus, contrary to the appellate courts
ruling, the appearance of a mere thumbmark of Don Julian instead of his signature in
the Supplemental Deed would not affect the validity of petitioners title for this Court has ruled
that a thumbmark is a recognized mode of signature.51
The truth, however, is that the replacement of OCT No. 5203 in the name of Julian by T.C.T. No.
T-375 is marred by a grave irregularity which is also an illegality, as it contravenes the orthodox,
conventional and normal process established by law. And, worse still, the illegality is reflected on
the face of both titles. Where, as in this case, the transferee relies on a voluntary instrument to
secure the issuance of a new title in his name such instrument has to be presented to the

Registry of Deeds. This is evident from Sections 53 and 57 of Presidential Decree (P.D.) No.
1529 or the Property Registration Decree. The sections read, thus:
SEC. 53. Presentation of owners duplicate upon entry of new certificate.
No voluntary instrument shall be registered by the Register of Deeds unless the
owners duplicate certificate is presented with such instrument, except in cases
expressly provided for in this Decree or upon order of the court, for cause shown.
(Emphasis supplied)
....
SEC. 57. Procedure in registration of conveyances. An owner desiring to convey his
registered land in fee simple shall execute and register a deed of conveyance in a
form sufficient in law. The Register of Deeds shall thereafter make out in the
registration book a new certificate of title to the grantee and shall prepare and deliver
to him an owners duplicate certificate. The Register of Deeds shall note upon the
original and duplicate certificate the date of transfer, the volume and page of the
registration book in which the new certificate is registered and a reference by number
to the last preceding certificate. The original and the owners duplicate of the grantors
certificate shall be stamped "cancelled." The deed of conveyance shall be filed and
endorsed with the number and the place of registration of the certificate of title
of the land conveyed. (Emphasis supplied)
As petitioner bases its right to the subject lot on the Supplemental Deed, it should have
presented it to the Register of Deeds to secure the transfer of the title in its name. Apparently, it
had not done so. There is nothing on OCT No. 5203 or on the succeeding TCT No. T-375 either
which shows that it had presented the Supplemental Deed. In fact, there is absolutely no
mention of a reference to said document in the original and transfer certificates of title. It is in this
regard that the finding of the Court of Appeals concerning the absence of entries on the blanks
intended for the Book No. and Page No. gains significant relevance. Indeed, this aspect fortifies
the conclusion that the cancellation of OCT No. 5203 and the consequent issuance of TCT No.
T-375 in its place are not predicated on a valid transaction.
What appears instead on OCT No. 5203 is the following pertinent entry:
Entry No. 1374: Kind: Order: Executed in favor of J.L.T. AGRO, INC.
CONDITIONS: Lost owners duplicate is hereby cancelled, and null and void and
a new Certificate of Title No. 375 is issued per Order of the Court of First
Instance on file in this office.
Date of Instrument: November 12, 1979
Date of Inscription: Nov. 12, 1979 4:00 P.M.
(SGD)
MANUEL
Acting
Deputy
Register
(Emphasis supplied)52

C.
of

MONTESA
Deeds
II

What the entry indicates is that the owners duplicate of OCT No. 5203 was lost, a petition for
the reconstitution of the said owners duplicate was filed in court, and the court issued an order
for the reconstitution of the owners duplicate and its replacement with a new one. But if the
entry is to be believed, the court concerned (CFI, according to the entry) issued an order for the
issuance of a new title which is TCT No. T-375 although the original of OCT No. 5203 on file with
the Registry of Deeds had not been lost.
Going by the legal, accepted and normal process, the reconstitution court may order the
reconstitution and replacement of the lost title only, nothing else. Since what was lost is the
owners copy of OCT No. 5203, only that owners copy could be ordered replaced. Thus, the
Register of Deeds exceeded his authority in issuing not just a reconstituted owners copy of the
original certificate of title but a new transfer certificate of title in place of the original certificate of
title. But if the court order, as the entry intimates, directed the issuance of a new transfer
certificate of titleeven designating the very number of the new transfer certificate of title itself
the order would be patently unlawful. A court cannot legally order the cancellation and
replacement of the original of the O.C.T. which has not been lost, 53 as the petition for
reconstitution is premised on the loss merely of the owners duplicate of the OCT
Apparently, petitioner had resorted to the court order as a convenient contrivance to effect the
transfer of title to the subject lot in its name, instead of the Supplemental Deed which should be

SUCCESION: SEANGIO TO RABADILLA 5

its proper course of action. It was so constrained to do because the Supplemental Deed does
not constitute a deed of conveyance of the "registered land in fee simple" "in a form sufficient in
law," as required by Section 57 of P.D. No. 1529.
A plain reading of the pertinent provisions of the Supplemental Deed discloses that the
assignment is not supported by any consideration. The provision reads:
....
WHEREAS, in the Deed of Assignment of Assets with the Assumption of Liabilities
executed by Julian L. Teves, Emilio B. Teves and Josefa T. Escao at Dumaguete
City on 16th day of November 1972 and ratified in the City of Dumaguete before
Notary Public Lenin Victoriano, and entered in the latters notarial register as Doc. No.
367; Page No. 17; Book No. V; series of 1972, Julian L. Teves, Emilio B. Teves and
Josefa T. Escao, transferred, conveyed and assigned unto J.L.T. AGRO, INC., all its
assets and liabilities as reflected in the Balance Sheet of the former as of December
31, 1971.
WHEREAS, on the compromise agreement, as mentioned in the Decision made in the
Court of First Instance of Negros Oriental, 12th Judicial District Branch II, on Dec. 31,
1964 pertaining to Civil Case No. 3443 the following properties were adjudicated to
Don Julian L. Teves. We quote.
From
the
properties
at
Bais
Adjudicated to Don Julian L.Teves
....
Lot No. 63, Tax Dec. No. 33, Certificate of Title No. 5203, together with all
improvements. Assessed value -P2,720.00
....
WHEREAS, this Deed of Assignment is executed by the parties herein in order to
effect the registration of the transfer of the above corporation.
NOW, THEREFORE, for and in consideration of the above premises the ASSIGNOR
hereby transfers, conveys, and assigns unto J.L.T. AGRO, INC., the above described
parcel of land[s] with a fair market value of EIGHTY-FOUR THOUSAND PESOS
(P84,000.00), Philippine Currency, and which transfer, conveyance and assignment
shall become absolute upon signing.54 (Emphasis supplied)
The amount of P84,000.00 adverted to in the dispositive portion of the instrument does not
represent the consideration for the assignment made by Don Julian. Rather, it is a mere
statement of the fair market value of allthe nineteen (19) properties enumerated in the
instrument, of which Lot No. 63 is just one, that were transferred by Don Julian in favor of
petitioner. Consequently, the testimony55 of petitioners accountant that the assignment is
supported by consideration cannot prevail over the clear provision to the contrary in
the Supplemental Deed.
The Court of Appeals, on the other hand, apparently considered the 1948 mortgage which is
annotated on the back of the TCT No. T-375 as the consideration for the
assignment.56 However, the said annotation57 shows that the mortgage was actually executed in
favor of Rehabilitation Finance Corporation, not of petitioner. 58 Clearly, said mortgage, executed
as it was in favor of the Rehabilitation Finance Corporation and there being no showing that
petitioner itself paid off the mortgate obligation, could not have been the consideration for the
assignment to petitioner.
Article 1318 of the New Civil Code enumerates the requisites of a valid contract, namely: (1)
consent of the contracting parties; (2) object certain which is the subject matter of the contract;
and (3) Cause of the obligation which is established.
Thus, Article 1352 declares that contracts without cause, or with unlawful cause produce no
effect whatsoever. Those contracts lack an essential element and they are not only voidable but
void or inexistent pursuant to Article 1409, paragraph (2). 59 The absence of the usual recital of
consideration in a transaction which normally should be supported by a consideration such as
the assignment made by Don Julian of all nineteen (19) lots he still had at the time, coupled with
the fact that the assignee is a corporation of which Don Julian himself was also the President
and Director, forecloses the application of the presumption of existence of consideration
established by law.60

Neither could the Supplemental Deed validly operate as a donation. Article 749 of the New Civil
Code is clear on the point, thus:
Art. 749. In order that the donation of the immovable may be valid, it must be made in
a public document, specifying therein the property donated and the value of the
charges which the donee must satisfy.
The acceptance may be made in the same deed of donation or in a separate public
document, but it shall not take effect unless it is done during the lifetime of the donor.
If the acceptance is made in a separate instrument, the donor shall be notified thereof
in an authentic form, and this step shall be noted in both instruments.
In Sumipat, et al v. Banga, et al.,61 this Court declared that title to immovable property does not
pass from the donor to the donee by virtue of a deed of donation until and unless it has been
accepted in a public instrument and the donor duly notified thereof. The acceptance may be
made in the very same instrument of donation. If the acceptance does not appear in the same
document, it must be made in another. Where the deed of donation fails to show the
acceptance, or where the formal notice of the acceptance, made in a separate instrument, is
either not given to the donor or else not noted in the deed of donation and in the separate
acceptance, the donation is null and void.
In the case at bar, although the Supplemental Deed appears in a public document,62 the
absence of acceptance by the donee in the same deed or even in a separate document is a
glaring violation of the requirement.
One final note. From the substantive and procedural standpoints, the cardinal objectives to
write finis to a protracted litigation and avoid multiplicity of suits are worth pursuing at all
times.63 Thus, this Court has ruled that appellate courts have ample authority to rule on specific
matters not assigned as errors or otherwise not raised in an appeal, if these are indispensable or
necessary to the just resolution of the pleaded issues. 64 Specifically, matters not assigned as
errors on appeal but consideration of which are necessary in arriving at a just decision and
complete resolution of the case, or to serve the interest of justice or to avoid dispensing
piecemeal justice.65
In the instant case, the correct characterization of the Supplemental Deed, i.e., whether it is valid
or void, is unmistakably determinative of the underlying controversy. In other words, the issue of
validity or nullity of the instrument which is at the core of the controversy is interwoven with the
issues adopted by the parties and the rulings of the trial court and the appellate court.66 Thus,
this Court is also resolute in striking down the alleged deed in this case, especially as it appears
on its face to be a blatant nullity.
WHEREFORE, foregoing premises considered, the Decision dated 30 September 1999 of the
Court of Appeals is hereby AFFIRMED. Costs against petitioner J.L.T. Agro, Inc.
SO ORDERED.

SUCCESION: SEANGIO TO RABADILLA 6

G.R. No. 72706 October 27, 1987


CONSTANTINO
C.
ACAIN, petitioner,
vs.
HON. INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE COURT (Third Special Cases Division), VIRGINIA A.
FERNANDEZ and ROSA DIONGSON, respondents.
PARAS, J.:
This is a petition for review on certiorari of the decision * of respondent. Court of Appeals in ACG.R. SP No. 05744 promulgated on August 30, 1985 (Rollo, p. 108) ordering the dismissal of the
petition in Special Proceedings No, 591 ACEB and its Resolution issued on October 23, 1985
(Rollo, p. 72) denying respondents' (petitioners herein) motion for reconsideration.
The dispositive portion of the questioned decision reads as follows:
WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby granted and respondent Regional Trial
Court of the Seventh Judicial Region, Branch XIII (Cebu City), is hereby
ordered to dismiss the petition in Special Proceedings No. 591 ACEB No
special pronouncement is made as to costs.
The antecedents of the case, based on the summary of the Intermediate Appellate Court, now
Court of Appeals, (Rollo, pp. 108-109) are as follows:
On May 29, 1984 petitioner Constantino Acain filed on the Regional Trial Court of Cebu City
Branch XIII, a petition for the probate of the will of the late Nemesio Acain and for the issuance
to the same petitioner of letters testamentary, docketed as Special Proceedings No. 591 ACEB
(Rollo, p. 29), on the premise that Nemesio Acain died leaving a will in which petitioner and his
brothers Antonio, Flores and Jose and his sisters Anita, Concepcion, Quirina and Laura were
instituted as heirs. The will allegedly executed by Nemesio Acain on February 17, 1960 was
written in Bisaya (Rollo, p. 27) with a translation in English (Rollo, p. 31) submi'tted by petitioner
without objection raised by private respondents. The will contained provisions on burial rites,
payment of debts, and the appointment of a certain Atty. Ignacio G. Villagonzalo as the executor
of the testament. On the disposition of the testator's property, the will provided:
THIRD: All my shares that I may receive from our properties. house, lands
and money which I earned jointly with my wife Rosa Diongson shall all be
given by me to my brother SEGUNDO ACAIN Filipino, widower, of legal age
and presently residing at 357-C Sanciangko Street, Cebu City. In case my
brother Segundo Acain pre-deceased me, all the money properties, lands,
houses there in Bantayan and here in Cebu City which constitute my share
shall be given to me to his children, namely: Anita, Constantino,
Concepcion, Quirina, laura, Flores, Antonio and Jose, all surnamed Acain.
Obviously, Segundo pre-deceased Nemesio. Thus it is the children of Segundo who are claiming
to be heirs, with Constantino as the petitioner in Special Proceedings No. 591 ACEB
After the petition was set for hearing in the lower court on June 25, 1984 the oppositors
(respondents herein Virginia A. Fernandez, a legally adopted daughter of tile deceased and the
latter's widow Rosa Diongson Vda. de Acain filed a motion to dismiss on the following grounds
for the petitioner has no legal capacity to institute these proceedings; (2) he is merely a universal
heir and (3) the widow and the adopted daughter have been pretirited. (Rollo, p. 158). Said
motion was denied by the trial judge.
After the denial of their subsequent motion for reconsideration in the lower court, respondents
filed with the Supreme Court a petition for certiorari and prohibition with preliminary injunction
which was subsequently referred to the Intermediate Appellate Court by Resolution of the Court
dated March 11, 1985 (Memorandum for Petitioner, p. 3; Rollo, p. 159).
Respondent Intermediate Appellate Court granted private respondents' petition and ordered the
trial court to dismiss the petition for the probate of the will of Nemesio Acain in Special
Proceedings No. 591 ACEB
His motion for reconsideration having been denied, petitioner filed this present petition for the
review of respondent Court's decision on December 18, 1985 (Rollo, p. 6). Respondents'
Comment was filed on June 6, 1986 (Rollo, p. 146).
On August 11, 1986 the Court resolved to give due course to the petition (Rollo, p. 153).
Respondents' Memorandum was filed on September 22, 1986 (Rollo, p. 157); the Memorandum
for petitioner was filed on September 29, 1986 (Rollo, p. 177).

Petitioner raises the following issues (Memorandum for petitioner, p. 4):


(A) The petition filed in AC-G.R. No. 05744 for certiorari and prohibition with
preliminary injunction is not the proper remedy under the premises;
(B) The authority of the probate courts is limited only to inquiring into the
extrinsic validity of the will sought to be probated and it cannot pass upon
the intrinsic validity thereof before it is admitted to probate;
(C) The will of Nemesio Acain is valid and must therefore, be admitted to
probate. The preterition mentioned in Article 854 of the New Civil Code
refers to preterition of "compulsory heirs in the direct line," and does not
apply to private respondents who are not compulsory heirs in the direct line;
their omission shall not annul the institution of heirs;
(D) DICAT TESTATOR ET MERIT LEX. What the testator says will be the
law;
(E) There may be nothing in Article 854 of the New Civil Code, that
suggests that mere institution of a universal heir in the will would give the
heir so instituted a share in the inheritance but there is a definite distinct
intention of the testator in the case at bar, explicitly expressed in his will.
This is what matters and should be in violable.
(F) As an instituted heir, petitioner has the legal interest and standing to file
the petition in Sp. Proc. No. 591 ACEB for probate of the will of Nemesio
Acain and
(G) Article 854 of the New Civil Code is a bill of attainder. It is therefore
unconstitutional and ineffectual.
The pivotal issue in this case is whether or not private respondents have been pretirited.
Article 854 of the Civil Code provides:
Art. 854. The preterition or omission of one, some, or all of the compulsory
heirs in the direct line, whether living at the time of the execution of the will
or born after the death of the testator, shall annul the institution of heir; but
the devisees and legacies shall be valid insofar as they are not; inofficious.
If the omitted compulsory heirs should die before the testator, the institution
shall he effectual, without prejudice to the right of representation.
Preterition consists in the omission in the testator's will of the forced heirs or anyone of them
either because they are not mentioned therein, or, though mentioned, they are neither instituted
as heirs nor are expressly disinherited (Nuguid v. Nuguid, 17 SCRA 450 [1966]; Maninang v.
Court of Appeals, 114 SCRA 478 [1982]). Insofar as the widow is concerned, Article 854 of the
Civil Code may not apply as she does not ascend or descend from the testator, although she is
a compulsory heir. Stated otherwise, even if the surviving spouse is a compulsory heir, there is
no preterition even if she is omitted from the inheritance, for she is not in the direct line. (Art.
854, Civil code) however, the same thing cannot be said of the other respondent Virginia A.
Fernandez, whose legal adoption by the testator has not been questioned by petitioner
(.Memorandum for the Petitioner, pp. 8-9). Under Article 39 of P.D. No. 603, known as the Child
and Youth Welfare Code, adoption gives to the adopted person the same rights and duties as if
he were a legitimate child of the adopter and makes the adopted person a legal heir of the
adopter. It cannot be denied that she has totally omitted and preterited in the will of the testator
and that both adopted child and the widow were deprived of at least their legitime. Neither can it
be denied that they were not expressly disinherited. Hence, this is a clear case of preterition of
the legally adopted child.
Pretention annuls the institution of an heir and annulment throws open to intestate succession
the entire inheritance including "la porcion libre (que) no hubiese dispuesto en virtual de legado
mejora o donacion" Maniesa as cited in Nuguid v. Nuguid, supra; Maninang v. Court of Appeals,
114 SCRA [1982]). The only provisions which do not result in intestacy are the legacies and
devises made in the will for they should stand valid and respected, except insofar as the
legitimes are concerned.
The universal institution of petitioner together with his brothers and sisters to the entire
inheritance of the testator results in totally abrogating the will because the nullification of such
institution of universal heirs-without any other testamentary disposition in the will-amounts to a
declaration that nothing at all was written. Carefully worded and in clear terms, Article 854 of the

SUCCESION: SEANGIO TO RABADILLA 7

Civil Code offers no leeway for inferential interpretation (Nuguid v. Nuguid), supra. No legacies
nor devises having been provided in the will the whole property of the deceased has been left by
universal title to petitioner and his brothers and sisters. The effect of annulling the "Institution of
heirs will be, necessarily, the opening of a total intestacy (Neri v. Akutin, 74 Phil. 185 [1943])
except that proper legacies and devises must, as already stated above, be respected.
We now deal with another matter. In order that a person may be allowed to intervene in a
probate proceeding he must have an interest iii the estate, or in the will, or in the property to be
affected by it either as executor or as a claimant of the estate and an interested party is one who
would be benefited by the estate such as an heir or one who has a claim against the estate like
a creditor (Sumilang v. Ramagosa, 21 SCRA 1369/1967). Petitioner is not the appointed
executor, neither a devisee or a legatee there being no mention in the testamentary disposition
of any gift of an individual item of personal or real property he is called upon to receive (Article
782, Civil Code). At the outset, he appears to have an interest in the will as an heir, defined
under Article 782 of the Civil Code as a person called to the succession either by the provision of
a will or by operation of law. However, intestacy having resulted from the preterition of
respondent adopted child and the universal institution of heirs, petitioner is in effect not an heir of
the testator. He has no legal standing to petition for the probate of the will left by the deceased
and Special Proceedings No. 591 A-CEB must be dismissed.
As a general rule certiorari cannot be a substitute for appeal, except when the questioned order
is an oppressive exercise of j judicial authority (People v. Villanueva, 110 SCRA 465 [1981];
Vda. de Caldito v. Segundo, 117 SCRA 573 [1982]; Co Chuan Seng v. Court of Appeals, 128
SCRA 308 [1984]; and Bautista v. Sarmiento, 138 SCRA 587 [1985]). It is axiomatic that the
remedies of certiorari and prohibition are not available where the petitioner has the remedy of
appeal or some other plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the course of law (DD Comendador
Construction Corporation v. Sayo (118 SCRA 590 [1982]). They are, however, proper remedies
to correct a grave abuse of discretion of the trial court in not dismissing a case where the
dismissal is founded on valid grounds (Vda. de Bacang v. Court of Appeals, 125 SCRA 137
[1983]).
Special Proceedings No. 591 ACEB is for the probate of a will. As stated by respondent Court,
the general rule is that the probate court's authority is limited only to the extrinsic validity of the
will, the due execution thereof, the testator'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. Said court at this stage of
the proceedings is not called upon to rule on the intrinsic validity or efficacy of the provisions of
the will (Nuguid v. Nuguid, 17 SCRA 449 [1966]; Sumilang v. Ramagosa, supra; Maninang v.
Court of Appeals, 114 SCRA 478 [1982]; Cayetano v. Leonides, 129 SCRA 522 [1984]; and
Nepomuceno v. Court of Appeals, 139 SCRA 206 [1985]).
The rule, however, is not inflexible and absolute. Under exceptional circumstances, the probate
court is not powerless to do what the situation constrains it to do and pass upon certain
provisions of the will (Nepomuceno v. Court of Appeals, supra). In Nuguid v. Nuguid the
oppositors to the probate moved to dismiss on the ground of absolute preteriton The probate
court acting on the motion held that the will in question was a complete nullity and dismissed the
petition without costs. On appeal the Supreme Court upheld the decision of the probate court,
induced by practical considerations. The Court said:
We pause to reflect. If the case were to be remanded for probate of the will,
nothing will be gained. On the contrary, this litigation will be protracted. And
for aught that appears in the record, in the event of probate or if the court
rejects the will, probability exists that the case will come up once again
before us on the same issue of the intrinsic validity or nullity of the will.
Result: waste of time, effort, expense, plus added anxiety. These are the
practical considerations that induce us to a belief that we might as well meet
head-on the issue of the validity of the provisions of the will in question.
After all there exists a justiciable controversy crying for solution.
In Saguimsim v. Lindayag (6 SCRA 874 [1962]) the motion to dismiss the petition by the
surviving spouse was grounded on petitioner's lack of legal capacity to institute the proceedings
which was fully substantiated by the evidence during the hearing held in connection with said
motion. The Court upheld the probate court's order of dismissal.

In Cayetano v. Leonides, supra one of the issues raised in the motion to dismiss the petition
deals with the validity of the provisions of the will. Respondent Judge allowed the probate of the
will. The Court held that as on its face the will appeared to have preterited the petitioner the
respondent judge should have denied its probate outright. Where circumstances demand that
intrinsic validity of testamentary provisions be passed upon even before the extrinsic validity of
the will is resolved, the probate court should meet the issue. (Nepomuceno v. Court of
Appeals, supra; Nuguid v. Nuguid, supra).
In the instant case private respondents filed a motion to dismiss the petition in Sp. Proceedings
No. 591 ACEB of the Regional Trial Court of Cebu on the following grounds: (1) petitioner has
no legal capacity to institute the proceedings; (2) he is merely a universal heir; and (3) the widow
and the adopted daughter have been preterited (Rollo, p. 158). It was denied by the trial court in
an order dated January 21, 1985 for the reason that "the grounds for the motion to dismiss are
matters properly to be resolved after a hearing on the issues in the course of the trial on the
merits of the case (Rollo, p. 32). A subsequent motion for reconsideration was denied by the trial
court on February 15, 1985 (Rollo, p. 109).
For private respondents to have tolerated the probate of the will and allowed the case to
progress when on its face the will appears to be intrinsically void as petitioner and his brothers
and sisters were instituted as universal heirs coupled with the obvious fact that one of the private
respondents had been preterited would have been an exercise in futility. It would have meant a
waste of time, effort, expense, plus added futility. The trial court could have denied its probate
outright or could have passed upon the intrinsic validity of the testamentary provisions before the
extrinsic validity of the will was resolved (Cayetano v. Leonides, supra; Nuquid v. Nuguid, supra.
The remedies of certiorari and prohibition were properly availed of by private respondents.
Thus, this Court ruled that where the grounds for dismissal are indubitable, the defendants had
the right to resort to the more speedy, and adequate remedies of certiorari and prohibition to
correct a grave abuse of discretion, amounting to lack of jurisdiction, committed by the trial court
in not dismissing the case, (Vda. de Bacang v. Court of Appeals, supra) and even assuming the
existence of the remedy of appeal, the Court harkens to the rule that in the broader interests of
justice, a petition for certiorari may be entertained, particularly where appeal would not afford
speedy and adequate relief. (Maninang Court of Appeals, supra).
PREMISES CONSIDERED, the petition is hereby DENIED for lack of merit and the questioned
decision of respondent Court of Appeals promulgated on August 30, 1985 and its Resolution
dated October 23, 1985 are hereby AFFIRMED.
SO ORDERED.

SUCCESION: SEANGIO TO RABADILLA 8

May 21, 1943


G.R.
No.
47799
Administration
of
the
estate
of
Agripino
Neri
y
Chavez.
ELEUTERIO
NERI,
ET
AL., petitioners,
vs.
IGNACIA AKUTIN AND HER CHILDREN, respondents.
Ozamis
and
Capistrano
for
petitioners.
Gullas, Leuterio, Tanner and Laput for respondents.
MORAN, J.:
This is a case where the testator in his will left all his property by universal title to the children by
his second marriage, the herein respondents, with preterition of the children by his first marriage,
the herein petitioner. This Court annulled the institution of heirs and declared a total intestacy.
A motion for reconsideration has been filed by the respondents on the ground (1) that there is no
preterition as to the children of the first marriage who have received their shares in the property
left by the testator, and (2) that, even assuming that there has been a preterition, the effect
would not be the annulment of the institution of heirs but simply the reduction of the bequest
made to them.
1. The findings of the trial court and those of the Court of Appeals are contrary to respondents'
first contention. The children of the first marriage are Eleuterio, Agripino, Agapita, Getulia (who
died a little less than eight years before the death of her father Agripino Neri, leaving seven
children), Rosario and Celerina.
As to Eleuterio, the trial court said that "it is not, therefore, clear that Eleuterio has received his
share out of the properties left by his father." It is true that Eleuterio appears to have received,
as a donation from his father, parcel of land No. 4, but the question of whether there has been a
donation or not is apparently left for decision in an independent action, and to that effect Ignacia
Akutin has been appointed special administratrix for the purpose of instituting such action.
With respect to Agripino and Agapita, the parcels of land which they have occupied, according to
the trial Court, "are a part of public land which had been occupied by Agripino Neri Chaves, and,
therefore, were not a part of the estate of the latter."
Concerning Getulia who died about eight years before the death of her father Agripino Neri, the
trial Court found that "neither Getulia nor her heirs received any share of the properties."
And with respect to Rosario and Celerina, the trial Court said that "it does not appear clear,
therefore, that Celerina and Rosario received their shares in the estate left by their father
Agripino Neri Chaves."
This is in connection with the property, real or personal, left by the deceased. As to money
advances, the trial Court found:
It is contented, furthermore, that the children of Agripino Neri Chaves in his first marriage
received money from their father. It appears that Nemesio Chaves is indebted in the amount of
P1,000; Agripino, in the amount of P500 as appears in Exhibits 14 and 15; Getulia, in the
amount of P155 as appears in Exhibit 16, 17, and 18; Celerina in the amount of P120 as
appears in Exhibit 19, 19-A and 19-B.
From these findings of the trial Court it is clear that Agapita, Rosario and the children of Getulia
had received from the testator no property whatsoever, personal, real or in cash.
But clause 8 of the will is invoked wherein the testator made the statement that the children by
his first marriage had already received their shares in his property excluding what he had given
them as aid during their financial troubles and the money they had borrowed from him which he
condoned in the will. Since, however, this is an issue of fact tried by the Court of First Instance,
and we are reviewing the decision of the Court of Appeals upon a question of law regarding that
issue, we can rely only upon the findings of fact made by the latter Court, which are as follows:
Since all the parcels that corresponded to Agripino Neri y Chaves are now in the administrator's
possession, as appears in the inventory filed in court, it is clear that the property of the deceased
has remained intact and that no portion thereof has been given to the children of the first
marriage.
xxxxxxxxx
It is stated by the court and practically admitted by the appellants that a child of the first marriage
named Getulia, or her heirs after her death, did not receive any share of the property of her
father.

It is true that in the decision of the Court of Appeals there is also the following paragraphs:
As regards that large parcel of land adjoining parcel No. 1, it is contended that after the court
had denied the registration thereof. Agripino Neri y Chaves abandoned the said land and that
later on some of the children of the first marriage possessed it, thereby acquiring title and
interest therein by virtue of occupation and not through inheritance. It is not true that this parcel
containing 182.6373 hectares is now assessed in the names of some of the children of the first
marriage, for as shown on Tax Declaration No. 9395, Exhibit 11-g, the owners of the property
are Agapita Neri de Chaves y Hermanos. Apparently, the said land is still claimed to be the
property not only of the children of the first marriage but also of those of the second marriage.
This paragraph is but a corroboration of the finding made by the Court of Appeals that no
property has ever been advanced by the testator to the children by his first marriage. The large
parcel of land adjoining parcel No. 1 was alleged by the children of the second marriage to have
been advanced by the testator to the children by his first marriage; but the Court of Appeals
belied this claim. "It is not true," says that Court, "that this parcel containing 182.6373 hectares is
now assessed in the names of some of the children of the first marriage, for as shown on Tax
Declaration No. 9395, Exhibit 11-g, the owners of the property are Agapita Neri de Chaves y
Hermanos," that is, the children of both marriages. And the Court of Appeals added that
"apparently, the said land is still claimed to be the property not only of the children of the first
marriage but also of those of the second marriage," which is another way of stating that the
property could not have been advanced by the testator to the children by the first marriage would
not lay a claim on it.
We conclude, therefore, that according to the findings of fact made by the Court of Appeals, the
testator left all his property by universal title to the children by his second marriage, and that
without expressly disinheriting the children by his first marriage, he left all his property by
universal title to the children by his second marriage, he left nothing to them or, at least, some of
them. This is, accordingly, a case of preterition governed by article 814 of the Civil Code, which
provides that the institution of heirs shall be annulled and intestate succession should be
declared open.
2. Upon the second question propounded in the motion for reconsideration, respondents seem
to agree that article 814 of the Civil Code is the law applicable but, in their discussion as to the
effect of preterition, they confuse article 814 with articles 817 and 851 and other articles of the
Civil Code. These three articles read:
ART. 814. The preterition of one or of all of the forced heirs in the direct line, whether living at
the execution of the will or born after the death of the testator, shall annul the institution of heirs;
but the legacies and betterments shall be valid in so far as they are not inofficious.
The preterition of the widower or widow does not annul the institution; but the person omitted
shall retain all the rights granted to him by articles 834, 835, 836, and 837 of this Code.
ART. 817. Testamentary dispositions which diminish the legitimate of the forced heirs shall be
reduced on petition of the same in so far as they are inofficious or excessive.
ART. 851. Disinheritance made without a statement of the cause, or for a cause the truth of
which, if contested, is not shown, or which is not one of those stated in the four following articles,
shall annul the institution of heirs in so far as it is prejudicial to the disinherited person; but the
legacies, betterments, and other testamentary dispositions shall be valid in so far as they are not
prejudicial to said legitime.
The following example will make the question clearer: The testator has two legitimate sons, A
and B, and in his will he leaves all his property to A, with total preterition of B. Upon these facts,
shall we annul entirely the institution of heir in favor of A and declare a total intestacy, or shall we
merely refuse the bequest left A, giving him two-thirds, that is one third of free disposal and onethird of betterments, plus one-half of the other third as strict legitime, and awarding B only the
remaining one-half of the strict legitime? If we do the first, we apply article 814; if the second, we
apply articles 851 or 817. But article 851 applies only in cases of unfounded disinheritance, and
all are agreed that the present case is not one of disinheritance but of preterition. Article 817 is
merely a general rule inapplicable to specific cases provided by law, such as that of preterition or
disinheritance. The meaning of articles 814 and 851, their difference and philosophy, and their
relation to article 817, are lucidly explained by Manresa in the following manner:
Cuando la legitima no es usufructuria, como ocurre en los demas casos, la pretericion no puede
menos de alterar esencialmente la institucion de heredero. Esta ha de anularse, pero en todo o

SUCCESION: SEANGIO TO RABADILLA 9

en parte, esto es, solo en cuanto perjudique el derecho del legitimario preterido? El articulo 814
opta por la primer solucion, ya que hemos de atenermos estrictmente al testo de la ley; mientras
que el articulo 851, en casos anlogos, opta por la segunda.
En efecto; la desheredacion sin justa causa no produce el efecto de desheredar. El heredero
conserva derecho a su legitima, pero nada mas que a su legitima. Los legados, las merjoras, si
las hay, y aun la institucion de heredero, son validas en cuanto no perjudiquen al heredero
forzoso.
La diferencia se notara perfectamente con un ejemplo. Un solteron, sin decendientes ni
ascendientes legitimos, hace testamento instituyendo por heredero a un pariente lejano.
Despues reconoce un hijo natural, o se casa y tiene descendencia, y muere sin modificar su
disposicion testamentaria. A su muerte, el hijo natural, o los legitimos, fundadose en la nulidad
total de la institucion, con arreglo al articulo 814, piden toda la herencia. En el caso del articulo
851 solo podrian podrian pedir su legitima. Preterdos, adquieren derecho a
todo;desheredados, solo les corresponde un tercio o dos tercios, segun el caso.
En el fondo la cuestion es indentica. El testador puede siempre disponer a su arbitrio de la parte
libre. El legitimario, contra la voluntad expresa del testdor, solo tiene derecho a su legitima.
Preterido o desheredado sin justa causa la legitima. Preterido o desheredado sin justa causa la
legitma es suya. Desheredado o preterido, la porcion libre no le corresponde, cuando el testador
la asigna a otro. Logicamente no cabe que el legitmario, en caso de pretericion, reciba todos los
bienes cuando el testador haya dispuesto de ellos a titulo de herencia, y no cuando haya
dispuesto del tercio lebre a titulo de legado.
Cual es la razon de esta differencia? En la generalidad de los casos puede fundarse el precepto
en la presunta voluntad del testador. Este, al desheredar, revela que existe alguna razon a
motivo que le impulsa a obrar asi; podra no ser bastante para privar al heredero de su legitima,
pero siempre ha de estimarse sufficiente para privarle del resto de la herencia, pues sobre esta
no puede pretender ningun derecho el desheredad. El heredero preterido no ha sido privado
expresamente de nada; el testador, en los casos normales, obra si por descuido o por error.
Hemos visto un testamento en el que no se institula heredera a una hija monja, por creer la
testadora que no podia heredar. En otros caos se ignora la existencia de un descendiente o de
un ascendiente. Cuando el preterido es una persona que ha nacido despues de muerto el
testador o despues de hecho el testamento, la razon es aun mas clara; la omision ha de
presumirse involuntaria; el testador debe suponerse que hubiera instituido heredero a esa
persona si hubiera existido al otorgarse el testamento, y no solo en cuanto a la legitima, sino en
toda la herencia, caso de no haber otros herederos forzosos, y en iguales terminos que los
demas herederos no mejorados de un mode expreso.
La opinion contraria puede tambien defederse, suponiendo que la ley anula el titulo de
heredero, mas no en absoluto la participacion en el caudal; que asi como al exceptuar la mejora
se refiere a todo el tercio o a la parte de el que haya distribuido el causante, al exceptuar los
legados se refierse a la parte libre de que haya dispuesto el mismo testador, considerando
como un simple legatario de esa porcion a la persona a quien el testador designo como
heredero. Abonaria esta solucion el articulo 817, al declarar que las disposiciones testamentaria
que menguan la legitima de los herederos forzosos han de reducirse en cuanto fueren
inoficiosas, pues amparado en este articulo el heredero voluntario, puede pretender que la
disposicion a su favor sea respetada en cuato no perjudique a las legitimas.
La jurisprudencia no ha resuelto de frente esta cuestion, porque no se le ha presentado en los
terminos propuestos; pero ha demonstrado su criterio.
Hemos citado las Resoluciones de la Direccion de 30 de octubre de 1896 y de 20 de mayo de
1893. En la primera se decide con valentia, con arreglo al texto expreso del articulo 814; la
institucion de heredero se anula en absoluto, y se abre para toda la herencia la succesion
intestada. En la segunda se rehuye la cuestion, fundandose en circunstancias secundarias. En
el articulo siguiente examinaremos la sentencia de 16 de enero de 1895.
La interpretacion que rectamente se deprende del art 814, es la de que solo valen, y eso en
cuanto no sean inoficiosas, las disposiciones hechas a titulo de legado a mejora. En cuanto a la
institucion de heredero, se anula. Lo que se anula deja de existir, en todo, o en parte? No se
aade limitacion alguna, como en el articulo 851, en el que se expresa que se anulara a
institucion de heredero en cuanto perjudique a la legitima del desheredado. Debe, pues,
entenderse que la anulacion es completa o total, y que este articulo, como especial en el caso

que le motiva, rige con preferencia al 817. (6 Manresa, 3.aed., pags. 351-353.) (Emphasis
supplied).
The following opinion of Sanchez Roman is to the same effect and dispels all possible doubt on
the matter:
La consecuencia de la anulacion o nulidad de la institucion de heredero por pretericion de uno,
varios o todos los forzosos en linea recta, es la apertura de la sucesion entestada, total o
parcial. Sera total, cuando el testador que comete la pretericion, hubiere dispuesto de todos los
bienes por titulo universal de herencia en favor de los hrederos instituidos, cuya institucion se
anula, porque asi lo exige la generalidad del precepto legal del articulo 814, al determinar, como
efecto de la pretericion, el de que "anularia la institucion de heredero". Cierto es que la
preericion esta intorducida, como remedio juridico, por sus efectos, en nombre y para garantia
de la intergridad de la legitima de los herederos forzosos y como consecuencia del precepto del
813, de que "el testador no podra privar a los herederos de su legitima, sino en los casos
expresamente determinados por la ley", que son los de desheredacion con justa causa.
Cierto es, tambien, que en la desheredacion es muy otro el criterio del Codigo y que su formula
legal, en cuanto a sus efectos, es de alcance mas limitado, puesto que, conforme al articulo
851, la desheredacion hecha sin condiciones de validez, "anulara la institucion de heredero", lo
mismo que la pretericion, pero solo "en cuanto perjudique la desheredado de modo ilegal e
ineficaz; salvedad o limitacion de los efectos de nulidad de la institucion de los efectos de
nulidad de la institucion hecha en el testmento, que no existe, segun se ha visto en el 814, por
el que se declara, en forma general e indistinta, que anulara la institucion de heredero sin
ninguna atencuacion respecto de que perjudique o no, total o parcialmente, la cuantia de la
legitima del heredero forzoso en linea recta, preterido.
El resultado de ambos criterios y formulas legales, manifestamente distintas, tiene que ser muy
diverso. En el caso de la pretericion, propiamente tal o total ? pues si fuera parcial y se la dejara
algo al heredero forzoso por cualquier titulo, aunque see algo no fuere suficiente al pago de sus
derechos de legitima, no seria caso depretericion, regulado por el articulo 814, sino de
complemento, regido por el 815 y la institucion no se anularia sino que se modificaria o
disminuiria en lo necesario para dicho complente ? o de institucion de heredero en toda la
herencia, al anularse la institucion, por efecto de la preterido o preteridos, respecto de toda la
herencia, tambien; mientras qeu en el caso de desheredacion y de institucion en la totalidad de
la herencia, tambien; mientras que en el caso de desheredacion y de institucion en la totalidad
de la herencia a favor de otra persona, solo se anulara en parte precisa pra no perjudicar la
legitima del deshersado, que aun siendo en este caso la lata, si no hubo mejoras, porque no se
establecieron o porque los intituidos eran herederos voluntarios, dejaria subsistente la
institucion en la poarte correspoondiente al tercio de libre disposicion. Asi es que los preteridos,
en el supuesto indicado, suceden abintestato en todo, en concurrencia conlos demas herederos
forzosos o llamados pro la ley al abintestato; los desheredados, unicamente en dos tercios o en
uno o en uno tan solo, en la hipotesis de haberse ordernado mejoras.
En cambio, ni por la desheredacion ni por la pretericion pierde su fuerza el testamento, en
cuanto a dicho tercio libre, is se trata dedescendientes; o la mitad, si se trata de ascendientes,
ya desheredados, ya preteridos, proque, ni por el uno ni por el otro medio, se anula mas que la
institucion de heredero, en general, y totalmente por la pretericion, y solo en cuanto perjudique a
la legitima del desheredado por la desheredacion; pero subsistiendo, en ambos casos, todas
acquellas otras disposiciones que no se refeiren a la institucion de heredero y se hallen dentro
del limite cuantitativo del tercio o mitad de libre disposicion, segun que se trate de
descendientes o ascendientes, preteridos o desheredados.
La invocacion del articulo 817 para modificar estos efectos de la pretericion, procurando limitar
la anulacion de la institucion de herederos solo en cuanto perjudique a la legitima, fundadose en
que dicho articulo establece que "las disposiciones testamentarias que menguan la legitma de
los herederos forzosos se reduciran, a peticion de estos, en lo que fueren inoficiosas o
excesivas," no es aceptable ni puede variar acquellos resultados, porque es un precepto
de caracter general en toda otra clase de dsiposiciones testamentarias que produzcan el efecto
de menguar la legitima, que no puede anteponerse, en su aplicacion, a las de indole
especial para sealar los efectos de la pretericion o de la desheredacion, regulados privativa y
respectivamente por los articulos 814 y 851.

SUCCESION: SEANGIO TO RABADILLA 10

No obstante la pretericion, "valdran las mandas y legados en cuanto no sean inoficiosas." El


texto es terminante y no necesita mayor explicacion, despues de lo dicho, que su propia letra, a
no ser para observar que constituye una confimacion indudable de los efectos de la pretericion,
en cuanto alcanzan solo, pero totalmente, a la anulacion de la institucion de heredero, pero no a
la de las mandas y mejoras en cuanto no sean preteridos; calficativo de tales, como sinonimo
legal de excessivas,que en otros articulos, como el 817, establece la ley. (6 Sanchez Roman,
Volumen 2.o pags. 1140-1141.)
These comments should be read with care if we are to avoid misunderstanding. Manresa, for
instance, starts expounding the meaning of the law with an illustration. He says that in case of
preterition (article 814). the nullity of the institution of heirs is total, whereas in case of
disinheritance (article 851), the nullity is partial, that is, in so far as the institution affects the
legitime of the disinherited heirs. "Preteridos, adquieren derecho atodo; desheredados, solo les
corresponde un tercio o dos tercios, segun el caso." He then proceeds to comment upon the
wisdom of the distinction made by law, giving two views thereon. He first lays the view contrary
to the distinction made by law, then the arguments in support of the distinction, and lastly a
possible defense against said arguments. And after stating that the Spanish jurisprudence has
not as yet decided squarely the question, with an allusion] to two resolutions of the Spanish
Administrative Direction, one in favor of article 814 and another evasive, he concludes that the
construction which may rightly be given to article 814 is that in case of preterition, the institution
of heirs is null in toto whereas in case of disinheritance the nullity is limited to that portion of the
legitime of which the disinherited heirs have been illegally deprived. He further makes it clear
that in cases of preterition, the property bequeathed by universal titled to the instituted heirs
should not be merely reduced according to article 817, but instead, intestate succession should
be opened in connection therewith under article 814, the reason being that article 814, "como
especial en el caso que le motiva, rige con preferencia al 817." Sanchez Roman is of the same
opinion when he said: "La invocacion del articulo 817 para modificar estos efectos de la
pretecion, procurando limitar la anulacion de la institucion de heredero solo en cuanto perjudque
a la legitima, fundandose en que dicho articulo establece que "las disposiciones testmentarias
que menguan la legitima de los herederos forzosos se fueren inoficisosas o excesivas," no es
aceptable ni puede variar aquellos resultados, porque es un precepto de caracter general en
toda otra clase de disposiciones testmentarias que produzcan el efecto de menguar la legitima,
que no puede anteponerse, en su aplicacion, a las de indole especial para sealar los efectos
de la pretericon o de la desheredacion, regulados privativa y respectivamente por los articulos
814 y 851.
Of course, the annulment of the institution of heirs in cases of preterition does not always carry
with it the ineffectiveness of the whole will. Neither Manresa nor Sanchez Roman nor this Court
has ever said so. If, aside from the institution of heirs, there are in the will provisions leaving to
the heirs so instituted or to other persons some specific properties in the form of legacies
or mejoras, such testamentary provisions shall be effective and the legacies and mejoras shall
be respected in so far as they are not inofficious or excessive, according to article 814. In the
instant case, however, no legacies or mejoras are provided in the will, the whole property of the
deceased having been left by universal title to the children of the second marriage. The effect,
therefore, of annulling the institution of heirs will be necessarily the opening of a total intestacy.
But the theory is advanced that the bequest made by universal titled in favor of the children by
the second marriage should be treated as legado and mejora and, accordingly, it must not be
entirely annulled but merely reduced. This theory, if adopted, will result in a complete abrogation
of articles 814 and 851 of the Civil Code. If every case of institution of heirs may be made to fall
into the concept of legacies and betterments reducing the bequest accordingly, then the
provisions of articles 814 and 851 regarding total or partial nullity of the institution, would be
absolutely meaningless and will never have any application at all. And the remaining provisions
contained in said article concerning the reduction of inofficious legacies or betterments would be
a surplusage because they would be absorbed by article 817. Thus, instead of construing, we
would be destroying integral provisions of the Civil Code.
The destructive effect of the theory thus advanced is due mainly to a failure to distinguish
institution of heirs from legacies and betterments, and a general from a special provision. With
reference to article 814, which is the only provision material to the disposition of this case, it
must be observed that the institution of heirs is therein dealt with as a thing of separate and

distinct from legacies or betterment. And they are separate and distinct not only because they
are distinctly and separately treated in said article but because they are in themselves different.
Institution of heirs is a bequest by universal title of property that is undetermined. Legacy refers
to specific property bequeathed by a particular or special title. The first is also different from a
betterment which should be made expressly as such (article 828). The only instance of implied
betterment recognized by law is where legacies are made which cannot be included in the free
portion (article 828). But again an institution of heirs cannot be taken as a legacy.
It is clear, therefore, that article 814 refers to two different things which are the two different
objects of its two different provisions. One of these objects cannot be made to merge in the other
without mutilating the whole article with all its multifarious connections with a great number of
provisions spread throughout the Civil Code on the matter of succession. It should be borne in
mind, further, that although article 814 contains who different provisions, its special purpose is to
establish a specific rule concerning a specific testamentary provision, namely, the institution of
heirs in a case of preterition. Its other provision regarding the validity of legacies and
betterments if not inofficious is a mere reiteration of the general rule contained in other
provisions (articles 815 and 817) and signifies merely that it also applies in cases of preterition.
As regards testamentary dispositions in general, the general rule is that all "testamentary
disposition which diminish the legitime of the forced heirs shall be reduced on petition of the
same in so far as they are inofficous or excessive" (article 817). But this general rule does not
apply to the specific instance of a testamentary disposition containing an institution of heirs in a
case of preterition, which is made the main and specific subject of article 814. In such instance,
according to article 814, the testamentary disposition containing the institution of heirs should be
not only reduced but annulled in its entirety and all the forced heirs, including the omitted ones,
are entitled to inherit in accordance with the law of intestate succession. It is thus evident that, if,
in construing article 814, the institution of heirs therein dealt with is to be treated as legacies or
betterments, the special object of said article would be destroyed, its specific purpose
completely defeated, and in that wise the special rule therein established would be rendered
nugatory. And this is contrary to the most elementary rule of statutory construction. In construing
several provisions of a particular statute, such construction shall be adopted as will give effect to
all, and when general and particular provisions are inconsistent, the latter shall prevail over the
former. (Act No. 190, secs. 287 and 288.)
The question herein propounded has been squarely decided by the Supreme Court of Spain in a
case wherein a bequest by universal title was made with preterition of heirs and the theory was
advanced that the instituted heirs should be treated as legatarios. The Supreme Court of Spain
said:
El articulo 814, que preceptua en tales casos de pretericion la nulidad de la institucion de
heredero, no consiente interpretacion alguna favorable a la persona instituida en el sentido
antes expuesto, aun cuando parezca, y en algun caso pudiera ser, mas o menos equitativa,
porque una nulidad no significa en Derecho sino la suposicion de que el hecho o el acto no se
ha realizado, debiendo, por lo tanto, procederse sobre tal base o supuesto, y
consiguientemente, en un testmento donde fate la institucion, es obligado llamar a los herederos
forzosos en todo caso, como habria que llamar a los de otra clase, cuando el testador no
hubiese distribuido todos sus bienes en legados, siendo tanto mas obligada esta consecuencia
legal cuanto que, en materia de testamentos, sabido es, segun tiene declarado la
jurisprudencia, con repeticion, que no basta que sea conocida la voluntad de quein testa si esta
voluntad no aparece en la forma y en las condiciones que la ley ha exigido para que sea valido
y eficaz, por lo que constituiria una interpertacion arbitraria, dentro del derecho positivo, reputar
como legatario a un heredero cuya institucion fuese anulada con pretexto de que esto se
acomodaba mejor a la voluntad del testador, pues aun cuando asi fuese, sera esto razon para
modificar la ley, peo que no autoriza a una interpretacion contraria a sus terminos y a los
principios que informan la testamnetificaion, pues no porque parezca mejor una cosa en el
terreno del Derecho constituyente, hay rason para convertir este juico en regla de interpretacion,
desvirtuando y anulando por este procedimiento lo que el legislator quiere establecer. (6
Sanchez Roman, Volumen 2.o, p. 1138.)
It is maintained that the word "heredero" under the Civil Code, is not synonymous with the term
"heir" under the Code of Civil Procedure, and that the "heir" under the latter Code is no longer
personally liable for the debts of the deceased as was the "heredero" under the Civil Code,

SUCCESION: SEANGIO TO RABADILLA 11

should his acceptance be pure and simple, and from all these the conclusion is drawn that the
provisions of article 814 of the Civil Code regarding the total nullity of the institution of heirs has
become obsolete. This conclusion is erroneous. It confuses form with substance. It must be
observed, in this connection, that in construing and applying a provision of the Civil Code, such
meaning of its words and phrases as has been intended by the framers thereof shall be adopted.
If thus construed it is inconsistent with the provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure, then it shall
be deemed repealed; otherwise it is in force. Repeals by implication are not favored by the
courts and when there are two acts upon the same subject, effect should be given to both if
possible (Posadas vs. National City Bank, 296 U. S., 497). The word "heir" as used in article 814
of the Civil Code may not have the meaning that it has under the Code of Civil Procedure, but
this in no wise can prevent a bequest from being made by universal title as is in substance the
subject-matter of article 814 of the Civil Code. Again, it may also be true that heirs under
the Code of Civil Procedure may receive that bequest only after payment of debts left by the
deceased and not before as under the Civil Code, but this may have a bearing only upon the
question as to when succession becomes effective and can in no way destroy the fact that
succession may still be by universal or special title. Since a bequest may still be made by
universal title and with preterition of forced heirs, its nullity as provided in article 814 still applies
there being nothing inconsistent with it in the Code of Civil Procedure. What is important and is
the basis for its nullity is the nature and effect of the bequest and not its possible name nor the
moment of its effectiveness under the Code of Civil Procedure.
Furthermore, there were in the Code of Civil Procedure sections Nos. 755 and 756 which read:
SEC. 755. Share of child born after making will. ? When a child of a testator is born after the
making of a will, and no provision is therein made for him, such child shall have the same share
in the estate of the testator as if he had died intestate; and share of such child shall be assigned
to him as in cases of intestate estates, unless it is apparent from the will that it was the intention
of the testator that no provision should be made for such child.
SEC. 756. Share of child or issue of child omitted from will. ? When a testator omits to provide in
his will for any of his children, or for issue of a deceased child, and it appears that such omission
was made by mistake, or accident, such child, or the issue of such child, shall have the same
share in the estate of the testator as if he had died intestate, to be assigned to him as in the
case of intestate estates.
It is these provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure that have affected substantially articles 814
and 851 of the Civil Code, but they have been expressly repealed by Act No. 2141, section 1 of
which read as follows:
Sections seven hundred and fifty-five, seven hundred and fifty-six, seven hundred and fiftyseven, seven hundred and fifty-eight, and seven hundred and sixty of Act Numbered One
hundred and ninety, entitled `An Act providing a Code of Procedure in Civil Actions and Special
Proceedings in the Philippine Islands are hereby repealed and such provisions of the Civil Code
as may have been amended or repealed by said sections are hereby restored to full force and
effects. (Emphasis ours.)
Among the provisions of the Civil Code which are thus expressly restored to full force are
undoubtedly articles 814 and 851. There can be no possible doubt, therefore, that those two
articles are in force.
Article 1080 of the Civil Code that is also invoked deserves no consideration except for the
observation that it has no relevancy in the instant case.
Our attention is directed to the case of Escuin vs. Escuin (11 Phil., 332). We have never lost
sight of the ruling laid down in that case which has been reiterated in Eleazar vs. Eleazar (37
Off. Gaz., p. 1782). In the Escuin case, the deceased left all his property to his natural father (not
a forced heir) and his wife with total preterition of his father and wife. Without reconsidering the
correctness of the ruling laid down in these two cases, we will note that the doctrine stands on
facts which are different from the facts in the present case. There is certainly a difference
between a case of preterition in which the whole property is left to a mere friend and a case of
preterition in which the whole property is left to one or some forced heirs. If the testamentary
disposition be annulled totally in the first case, the effect would be a total deprivation of the friend
of his share in the inheritance. And this is contrary to the manifest intention of the testator. It may
fairly be presumed that, under such circumstances, the testator would at leave give his friend the
portion of free disposal. In the second case, the total nullity of the testamentary disposition would

have the effect, not of depriving totally the instituted heir of his share in the inheritance, but of
placing him and the other forced heirs upon the basis of equality. This is also in consonance with
the presumptive intention of the testator. Preterition, generally speaking, is due merely to
mistake or inadvertence without which the testator may be presumed to treat alike all his
children.
And specially is this true in the instant case where the testator omitted the children by his first
marriage upon the erroneous belief that he had given them already more shares in his property
than those given to the children by his second marriage. It was, therefore, the thought of the
testator that the children by his first marriage should not receive less than the children by his
second marriage, and to that effect is the decision of this Court sought to be reconsidered.
Motion for reconsideration is hereby denied.
Yulo,
C.J.,
I
concur
in
the
result.
Generoso, J., concurs.

SUCCESION: SEANGIO TO RABADILLA 12

June 23, 1966


G.R.
No.
L-23445
REMEDIOS
NUGUID, petitioner
and
appellant,
vs.
FELIX NUGUID and PAZ SALONGA NUGUID, oppositors and appellees.
Custodio
O.
Partade
for
petitioner
and
appellant.
Beltran, Beltran and Beltran for oppositors and appellees.
SANCHEZ, J.:
Rosario Nuguid, a resident of Quezon City, died on December 30, 1962, single, without
descendants, legitimate or illegitimate. Surviving her were her legitimate parents, Felix Nuguid
and Paz Salonga Nuguid, and six (6) brothers and sisters, namely: Alfredo, Federico, Remedios,
Conrado, Lourdes and Alberto, all surnamed Nuguid.
On May 18, 1963, petitioner Remedios Nuguid filed in the Court of First Instance of Rizal a
holographic will allegedly executed by Rosario Nuguid on November 17, 1951, some 11 years
before her demise. Petitioner prayed that said will be admitted to probate and that letters of
administration with the will annexed be issued to her.
On June 25, 1963, Felix Nuguid and Paz Salonga Nuguid, concededly the legitimate father and
mother of the deceased Rosario Nuguid, entered their opposition to the probate of her will.
Ground therefor, inter alia, is that by the institution of petitioner Remedios Nuguid as universal
heir of the deceased, oppositors who are compulsory heirs of the deceased in the direct
ascending line were illegally preterited and that in consequence the institution is void.
On August 29, 1963, before a hearing was had on the petition for probate and objection thereto,
oppositors moved to dismiss on the ground of absolute preterition.
On September 6, 1963, petitioner registered her opposition to the motion to dismiss.
The court's order of November 8, 1963, held that "the will in question is a complete nullity and
will perforce create intestacy of the estate of the deceased Rosario Nuguid" and dismissed the
petition without costs.
A motion to reconsider having been thwarted below, petitioner came to this Court on appeal.
1. Right at the outset, a procedural aspect has engaged our attention. The case is for the
probate of a will. The court's area of inquiry is limited to an examination of, and resolution on,
the extrinsic validity of the will. The due execution thereof, the testatrix's testamentary capacity,
and the compliance with the requisites or solemnities by law prescribed, are the
questions solely to be presented, and to be acted upon, by the court. Said court at this stage of
the proceedings is not called upon to rule on the intrinsic validity or efficacy of the provisions
of the will, the legality of any devise or legacy therein.[[1]]
A peculiar situation is here thrust upon us. The parties shunted aside the question of whether or
not the will should be allowed probate. For them, the meat of the case is the intrinsic validity of
the will. Normally, this comes only after the court has declared that the will has been duly
authenticated.[[2]] But petitioner and oppositors, in the court below and here on appeal, travelled
on the issue of law, to wit: Is the will intrinsically a nullity?
We pause to reflect. If the case were to be remanded for probate of the will, nothing will be
gained. On the contrary, this litigation will be protracted. And for aught that appears in the
record, in the event of probate or if the court rejects the will, probability exists that the case will
come up once again before us on the same issue of the intrinsic validity or nullity of the will.
Result: waste of time, effort, expense, plus added anxiety. These are the practical
considerations that induce us to a belief that we might as well meet head-on the issue of the
validity of the provisions of the will in question.[[3]] After all, there exists a justiciable controversy
crying for solution.
2. Petitioner's sole assignment of error challenges the correctness of the conclusion below that
the will is a complete nullity. This exacts from us a study of the disputed will and the applicable
statute.
Reproduced hereunder is the will:
Nov. 17, 1951
I, ROSARIO NUGUID, being of sound and disposing mind and memory, having amassed a
certain amount of property, do hereby give, devise, and bequeath all of the property which I may
have when I die to my beloved sister Remedios Nuguid, age 34, residing with me at 38-B Iriga,

Q.C. In witness whereof, I have signed my name this seventh day of November, nineteen
hundred and fifty-one.
(Sgd.) Illegible
T/ ROSARIO NUGUID
The statute we are called upon to apply in Article 854 of the Civil Code which, in part, provides:
ART. 854. The preterition or omission of one, some, or all of the compulsory heirs in the direct
line, whether living at the time of the execution of the will or born after the death of the testator,
shall annul the institution of heir; but the devises and legacies shall be valid insofar as they are
not inofficious. .
Except for inconsequential variation in terms, the foregoing is a reproduction of Article 814 of the
Civil Code of Spain of 1889, which is similarly herein copied, thus
Art. 814. The preterition of one or all of the forced heirs in the direct line, whether living at the
time of the execution of the will or born after the death of the testator, shall void the institution of
heir; but the legacies and betterments[[4]] shall be valid, in so far as they are not inofficious. .
A comprehensive understanding of the term preterition employed in the law becomes a
necessity. On this point Manresa comments:
La pretericion consiste en omitar al heredero en el testamento. O no se le nombra siquiera o
aun nombrandole como padre, hijo, etc., no se le instituya heredero ni se le deshereda
expresamente ni se le asigna parte alguna de los bienes, resultando privado de un modo tacito
de su derecho a legitima.
Para que exista pretericion, con arreglo al articulo 814, basta que en el testamento omita el
testador a uno cualquiera de aquellos a quienes por su muerte corresponda la herencia forzosa.
Se necesita, pues, a) Que la omision se refiera a un heredero forzoso. b) Que la omision sea
completa; que el heredero forzoso nada reciba en el testamento.
It may now appear trite bat nonetheless helpful in giving us a clear perspective of the problem
before us, to have on hand a clear-cut definition of the word annul:
To "annul" means to abrogate, to make void ... In re Morrow's Estate, 54 A. 342, 343, 204 Pa.
484.[[6]]
The word "annul" as used in statute requiring court to annul alimony provisions of divorce decree
upon wife's remarriage means to reduce to nothing; to annihilate; obliterate; blot out; to make
void or of no effect; to nullify; to abolish. N.J.S.A. 2:50 38 (now N.J.S. 2A:34-35). Madden vs.
Madden, 40 A. 2d 611, 614, 136 N..J Eq. 132.[[7]]
ANNUL. To reduce to nothing; annihilate; obliterate; to make void or of no effect; to nullify; to
abolish; to do away with. Ex parte Mitchell, 123 W. Va. 283, 14 S.E. 2d. 771, 774.[[8]]
And now, back to the facts and the law. The deceased Rosario Nuguid left no descendants,
legitimate or illegitimate. But she left forced heirs in the direct ascending line her parents, now
oppositors Felix Nuguid and Paz Salonga Nuguid. And, the will completely omits both of them:
They thus received nothing by the testament; tacitly, they were deprived of their legitime; neither
were they expressly disinherited. This is a clear case of preterition. Such preterition in the words
of Manresa "anulara siempre la institucion de heredero, dando caracter absoluto a este
ordenamiento referring to the mandate of Article 814, now 854 of the Civil Code. [[9]] The onesentence will here institutes petitioner as the sole, universal heir nothing more. No specific
legacies or bequests are therein provided for. It is in this posture that we say that the nullity is
complete. Perforce, Rosario Nuguid died intestate. Says Manresa:
En cuanto a la institucion de heredero, se anula. Lo que se anula deja de existir, en todo o en
parte? No se aade limitacion alguna, como en el articulo 851, en el que se expresa que se
anulara la institucion de heredero en cuanto prejudique a la legitima del deseheredado Debe,
pues, entenderse que la anulacion es completa o total, y que este articulo como especial en el
caso que le motiva rige con preferencia al 817. [[10]]
The same view is expressed by Sanchez Roman:
La consecuencia de la anulacion o nulidad de la institucion de heredero por pretericion de uno,
varios o todos los forzosos en linea recta, es la apertura de la sucesion intestada total o
parcial. Sera total, cuando el testador que comete la pretericion, hubiese dispuesto de todos los
bienes por titulo universal de herencia en favor de los herederos instituidos, cuya institucion se
anula, porque asi lo exige la generalidad del precepto legal del art. 814, al determinar, como
efecto de la pretericion, el de que "anulara la institucion de heredero." ... [[11]]

SUCCESION: SEANGIO TO RABADILLA 13

Really, as we analyze the word annul employed in the statute, there is no escaping the
conclusion that the universal institution of petitioner to the entire inheritance results in totally
abrogating the will. Because, the nullification of such institution of universal heir without any
other testamentary disposition in the will amounts to a declaration that nothing at all was
written. Carefully worded and in clear terms, Article 854 offers no leeway for inferential
interpretation. Giving it an expansive meaning will tear up by the roots the fabric of the statute.
On this point, Sanchez Roman cites the "Memoria annual del Tribunal Supreme,
correspondiente a 1908", which in our opinion expresses the rule of interpretation, viz:
... El art. 814, que preceptua en tales casos de pretericion la nulidad de la institucion de
heredero, no consiente interpretacion alguna favorable a la persona instituida en el sentido
antes expuesto aun cuando parezca, y en algun caso pudiera ser, mas o menos equitativa,
porque una nulidad no significa en Derecho sino la suposicion de que el hecho o el acto no se
ha realizado, debiendo por lo tanto procederse sobre tal base o supuesto, y consiguientemente,
en un testamento donde falte la institucion, es obligado llamar a los herederos forzosos en todo
caso, como habria que llamar a los de otra clase, cuando el testador no hubiese distribudo
todos sus bienes en legados, siendo tanto mas obligada esta consecuencia legal cuanto que,
en materia de testamentos, sabido es, segun tiene declarado la jurisprudencia, con repeticion,
que no basta que sea conocida la voluntad de quien testa si esta voluntad no aparece en la
forma y en las condiciones que la ley ha exigido para que sea valido y eficaz, por lo que
constituiria una interpretacion arbitraria, dentro del derecho positivo, reputar como legatario a un
heredero cuya institucion fuese anulada con pretexto de que esto se acomodaba mejor a la
voluntad del testador, pues aun cuando asi fuese, sera esto razon para modificar la ley, pero no
autoriza a una interpretacion contraria a sus terminos y a los principios que informan la
testamentifaccion, pues no porque parezca mejor una cosa en el terreno del Derecho
constituyente, hay razon para convereste juicio en regla de interpretacion, desvirtuando y
anulando por este procedimiento lo que el legislador quiere establecer. [[12]]
3. We should not be led astray by the statement in Article 854 that, annullment notwithstanding,
"the devises and legacies shall be valid insofar as they are not inofficious". Legacies and
devises merit consideration only when they are so expressly given as such in a will. Nothing in
Article 854 suggests that the mere institution of a universal heir in a will void because of
preterition would give the heir so instituted a share in the inheritance. As to him, the will is
inexistent. There must be, in addition to such institution, a testamentary disposition granting him
bequests or legacies apart and separate from the nullified institution of heir. Sanchez Roman,
speaking of the two component parts of Article 814, now 854, states that preterition annuls the
institution of the heir "totalmente por la pretericion"; but added (in reference to legacies and
bequests) "pero subsistiendo ... todas aquellas otras disposiciones que no se refieren a la
institucion de heredero ... . [[13]] As Manresa puts it, annulment throws open to intestate
succession the entire inheritance including "la porcion libre (que) no hubiese dispuesto en virtud
de legado, mejora o donacion. [[14]]
As aforesaid, there is no other provision in the will before us except the institution of petitioner as
universal heir. That institution, by itself, is null and void. And, intestate succession ensues.
4. Petitioner's mainstay is that the present is "a case of ineffective disinheritance rather than one
of preterition". [[15]] From this, petitioner draws the conclusion that Article 854 "does not apply to
the case at bar". This argument fails to appreciate the distinction between pretention and
disinheritance.
Preterition "consists in the omission in the testator's will of the forced heirs or anyone of them,
either because they are not mentioned therein, or, though mentioned, they are neither instituted
as
heirs
nor
are
expressly
disinherited." [[16]] Disinheritance,
in
turn,
"is
a testamentary disposition depriving any compulsory heir of his share in thelegitime for a cause
authorized by law. " [[17]] In Manresa's own words: "La privacion expresa de la legitima
constituye
la desheredacion. La
privacion
tacita
de
la
misma
se
denomina pretericion." [[18]] Sanchez Roman emphasizes the distinction by stating that
disinheritance "es siempre voluntaria"; preterition, upon the other hand, is presumed to be
"involuntaria". [[19]] Express as disinheritance should be, the same must be supported by a legal
cause specified in the will itself. [[20]]

The will here does not explicitly disinherit the testatrix's parents, the forced heirs. It simply omits
their names altogether. Said will rather than be labeled ineffective disinheritance is clearly one in
which the said forced heirs suffer from preterition.
On top of this is the fact that the effects flowing from preterition are totally different from those of
disinheritance. Preterition under Article 854 of the Civil Code, we repeat, "shall annul the
institution of heir". This annulment is in toto, unless in the will there are, in addition, testamentary
dispositions in the form of devises or legacies. In ineffective disinheritance under Article 918 of
the same Code, such disinheritance shall also "annul the institution of heirs", put only "insofar as
it may prejudice the person disinherited", which last phrase was omitted in the case of
preterition. [[21]] Better stated yet, in disinheritance the nullity is limited to that portion of the
estate of which the disinherited heirs have been illegally deprived. Manresa's expressive
language, in commenting on the rights of the preterited heirs in the case of preterition on the one
hand and legal disinheritance on the other, runs thus: "Preteridos, adquiren el derecho a
todo; desheredados, solo les corresponde un tercio o dos tercios, [[22]] el caso. [[23]]
5. Petitioner insists that the compulsory heirs ineffectively disinherited are entitled to receive
their legitimes, but that the institution of heir "is not invalidated," although the inheritance of the
heir so instituted is reduced to the extent of said legitimes. [[24]]
This is best answered by a reference to the opinion of Mr. Chief Justice Moran in theNeri case
heretofore cited, viz:
But the theory is advanced that the bequest made by universal title in favor of the children by the
second marriage should be treated as legado and mejora and, accordingly, it must not be
entirely annulled but merely reduced. This theory, if adopted, will result in a complete abrogation
of Articles 814 and 851 of the Civil Code. If every case of institution of heirs may be made to fall
into the concept of legacies and betterments reducing the bequest accordingly, then the
provisions of Articles 814 and 851 regarding total or partial nullity of the institution, would. be
absolutely meaningless and will never have any application at all. And the remaining provisions
contained in said article concerning the reduction of inofficious legacies or betterments would be
a surplusage because they would be absorbed by Article 817. Thus, instead of construing, we
would be destroying integral provisions of the Civil Code.
The destructive effect of the theory thus advanced is due mainly to a failure to distinguish
institution of heirs from legacies and betterments, and a general from a special provision. With
reference to article 814, which is the only provision material to the disposition of this case, it
must be observed that the institution of heirs is therein dealt with as a thing separate and distinct
from legacies or betterments. And they are separate and distinct not only because they are
distinctly and separately treated in said article but because they are in themselves different.
Institution of heirs is a bequest by universal title of property that is undetermined. Legacy refers
to specific property bequeathed by a particular or special title. ... But again an institution of heirs
cannot be taken as a legacy. [[25]]
The disputed order, we observe, declares the will in question "a complete nullity". Article 854 of
the Civil Code in turn merely nullifies "the institution of heir". Considering, however, that the will
before us solely provides for the institution of petitioner as universal heir, and nothing more, the
result is the same. The entire will is null.
Upon the view we take of this case, the order of November 8, 1963 under review is hereby
affirmed. No costs allowed. So ordered.

SUCCESION: SEANGIO TO RABADILLA 14

June 19, 1982


G.R.
No.
L-57848
RAFAEL E. MANINANG and SOLEDAD L. MANINANG, petitioners,
vs.
COURT OF APPEALS, HON. RICARDO L. PRONOVE, JR., as Judge of
the Court of First Instance of Rizal and BERNARDO S. ASENETA,
respondents.
MELENCIO-HERRERA, J.:
A Petition to Review the Decision of April 28, 1981 of respondent Appellate
Court in CA-G.R. No. 12032-R entitled "Rafael E. Maninang and Soledad L.
Maninang vs. Hon. Ricardo Pronove, Judge of the Court of First Instance of
Rizal, Pasig, Branch XI, and Bernardo S. Aseneta".
Pertinent to the controversy are the following antecedental facts:
On May 21, 1977, Clemencia Aseneta, single, died at the Manila Sanitarium
Hospital at age 81. She left a holographic will, the pertinent portions of which
are quoted hereunder:
xxx xxx xxx
It is my will that all my real properties located in Manila, Makati, Quezon City,
Albay and Legaspi City and all my personal properties shagllbe inherited
upon my death by Dra. Soledad L. Maninang with whose family I have lived
continuously for around the last 30 years now. Dra. Maninang and her
husband Pamping have been kind to me. ... I have found peace and
happiness with them even during the time when my sisters were still alive
and especially now when I am now being troubled by my nephew Bernardo
and niece Salvacion. I am not incompetent as Nonoy would like me to
appear. I know what is right and wrong. I can decide for myself. I do not
consider Nonoy as my adopted son. He has made me do things against my
will.
xxx xxx xxx
On June 9, 1977, petitioner Soledad Maninang filed a Petition for probate of
the Will of the decedent with the Court of First Instance-Branch IV, Quezon
City (Sp. Proc. No. Q-23304, hereinafter referred to as the Testate Case).
On July 25, 1977, herein respondent Bernardo Aseneta, who, as the adopted
son, claims to be the sole heir of decedent Clemencia Aseneta, instituted
intestate proceedings with the Court of First Instance-Branch XI, Pasig, Rizal
(Sp. Proc. No. 8569, called hereinafter the Intestate Case" for brevity).
On December 23, 1977, the Testate and Intestate Cases were ordered
consolidated before Branch XI, presided by respondent Judge.
Respondent Bernardo then filed a Motion to Dismiss the Testate Case on the
ground that the holographic will was null and void because he, as the only
compulsory heir, was preterited and, therefore, intestacy should ensue. In
support of said Motion to Dismiss, respondent Bernardo cited the cases
of Neri vs. Akutin (72 Phil. 322); Nuguid vs. Nuguid (17 SCRA 449),
[[ ]]
and Ramos vs. Baldovino (2 CA Rep. 2nd, 878). 1

In her Opposition to said Motion to Dismiss, petitioner Soledad averred that it


is still the rule that in a case for probate of a Will, the Court's area of inquiry
is limited to an examination of and resolution on the extrinsic validity of the
will; and that respondent Bernardo was effectively disinherited by the
[[ ]]
decedent. 2
On September 8, 1980, the lower Court ordered the dismissal of the Testate
Case in this wise:
For reasons stated in the motion to dismiss filed by petitioner Bernardo S.
Aseneta which the Court finds meritorious, the petition for probate of will filed
by Soledad L. Maninang and which was docketed as Sp. Proc. No. Q-23304
is DISMISSED, without pronouncement as to costs.
On December 19, 1980, the lower Court denied reconsideration for lack of
merit and in the same Order appointed Bernardo as the administrator of the
intestate estate of the deceased Clemencia Aseneta "considering that he is a
forced heir of said deceased while oppositor Soledad Maninang is not, and
considering further that Bernardo Aseneta has not been shown to be unfit to
perform the duties of the trust. "
Petitioners Maninang resorted to a certiorari Petition before respondent Court
of Appeals alleging that the lower Court exceeded its jurisdiction in issuing
the Orders of dismissal of the Testate Case (September 8, 1980) and denial
of reconsideration (December 19, 1980).
[[ ]]
On April 28, 1981, respondent Court 3 denied certiorari and ruled that the
trial Judge's Order of dismissal was final in nature as it finally disposed of the
Testate Case and, therefore, appeal was the proper remedy, which
petitioners failed to avail of. Continuing, it said that even granting that the
lower Court committed errors in issuing the questioned Orders, those are
errors of judgment reviewable only by appeal and not by Certiorari. 'Thus,
this Petition before us.
We find that the Court a quo acted in excess of its jurisdiction when it
dismissed the Testate Case. Generally, the probate of a Will is mandatory.
No will shall pass either real or personal property unless it is proved and
[[ ]]
allowed in accordance with the Rules of Court. 4
The law enjoins the probate of the Will and public policy requires it, because
unless the Will is probated and notice thereof given to the whole world, the
right of a person to dispose of his property by Will may be rendered
[[ ]]
nugatory. 5
Normally, the probate of a Will does not look into its intrinsic validity.
... The authentication of a will decides no other question than such as touch
upon the capacity of the testator and the compliance with those requisites or
solemnities which the law prescribes for the validity of wills. It does not
determine nor even by implication prejudge the validity or efficiency (sic) of
the provisions, these may be impugned as being vicious or null,
notwithstanding its authentication. The que0stions relating to these points
remain entirely unaffected, and may be raised even after the will has been
[[ ]]
authenticated .... 6

SUCCESION: SEANGIO TO RABADILLA 15

Opposition to the intrinsic validity or legality of the provisions of the will


cannot be entertained in Probate proceeding because its only purpose is
merely to determine if the will has been executed in accordance with the
[[ ]]
requirements of the law. 7
Respondent Bernardo, however, relies on the pronouncement in Nuguid vs.
[[ ]]
Nuguid 8 , reading:
In a proceeding for the probate of a will, the Court's area of inquiry is limited
to an examination of, and resolution on, 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 that issue.(Emphasis supplied)
[[ ]]
Our ruling in Balanay vs. Hon. Martinez 9 had a similar thrust:
The trial court acted correctly in passing upon the will's intrinsic validity even
before its formal validity had been established. The probate of a will might
become an Idle ceremony if on its face it appears to be intrinsically void.
Where practical considerations demand that the intrinsic validity of the will be
passed upon, even before it is probated, the court should meet the issue.
The Nuguid and the Balanay cases provide the exception rather than the
rule. The intrinsic validity of the Wills in those cases was passed upon even
before probate because "practical considerations" so demanded. Moreover,
for the parties in the Nuguid case, the "meat of the controversy" was the
intrinsic validity of the Will; in fact, the parties in that case "shunted aside the
question of whether or not the Will should be allowed probate." Not so in the
case before us now where the probate of the Will is insisted on by petitioners
and a resolution on the extrinsic validity of the Will demanded.
Moreover, in the Nuguid case, this Court ruled that the Will was intrinsically
invalid as it completely preterited the parents of the testator. In the instant
case, a crucial issue that calls for resolution is whether under the terms of the
decedent's Will, private respondent had been preterited or disinherited, and if
the latter, whether it was a valid disinheritance. Preterition and disinheritance
are two diverse concepts.
... Preterition "consists in the omission in the testator's will of the forced heirs
or anyone of them, either because they are not mentioned therein, or, though
mentioned, they are neither instituted as heirs nor are expressly
disinherited." (Neri vs. Akutin, 72 Phil. 325). Disinheritance, in turn, "is a
testamentary disposition depriving any compulsory heirs of his share in the
legitimate for a cause authorized by law." (Justice J.B.L. Reyes and R.C.
Puno, "An Outline of Philippine Civil Law", 1956 ed., Vol. III, p. 8, citing
cases) Disinheritance is always "voluntary", preterition upon the other hand,
is presumed to be "involuntary" (Sanchez Roman, Estudios de Derecho Civil
[[
]]
2nd edition, Volume 2.o p. 1131). 10
The effects of preterition and disinheritance are also totally different.

... The effects flowing from preterition are totally different from those of
disinheritance. Pretention under Article 854 of the New Civil Code shall annul
the institution of heir. This annulment is in toto, unless in the wail there are, in
addition, testamentary dispositions in the form of devises or legacies. In
ineffective disinheritance under Article 918 of the same Code, such
disinheritance shall also "annul the institution of heirs", but only "insofar as it
may prejudice the person disinherited", which last phrase was omitted in the
case of preterition (III Tolentino, Civil Code of the Philippines, 1961 Edition,
p. 172). Better stated yet, in disinheritance the nullity is limited to that portion
[[
]]
of the estate of which the disinherited heirs have been illegally deprived. 11
By virtue of the dismissal of the Testate Case, the determination of that
controversial issue has not been thoroughly considered. We gather from the
assailed Order of the trial Court that its conclusion was that respondent
Bernardo has been preterited We are of opinion, however, that from the face
of the Will, that conclusion is not indubitable.
[[
]]
As held in the case of Vda. de Precilla vs. Narciso 12
... it is as important a matter of public interest that a purported will is not
denied legalization on dubious grounds. Otherwise, the very institution of
testamentary succession will be shaken to its foundation, ...
Coming now to the procedural aspect, suffice it to state that in view of our
finding that respondent Judge had acted in excess of his jurisdiction in
dismissing the Testate Case,certiorari is a proper remedy. An act done by a
Probate Court in excess of its jurisdiction may be corrected
[[
]]
by certiorari. 13 And even assuming the existence of the remedy of appeal,
we harken to the rule that in the broader interests of justice, a petition
for certiorari may be entertained, particularly where appeal would not afford
speedy and adequate relief.
WHEREFORE, the Decision in question is set aside and the Orders of the
Court of First Instance-Branch XI, Rizal, dated September 8, 1980 and
December 19, 1980, are nullified. Special Proceeding No. Q-23304 is hereby
remanded to said Court of First Instance-Branch XI. Rizal, therein to be
reinstated and consolidated with Special Proceeding No. 8569 for further
proceedings.
No pronouncement as to costs.

SUCCESION: SEANGIO TO RABADILLA 16

June 30, 1966


G.R.
No.
L-24365
IN THE MATTER OF THE INTESTATE ESTATE OF EDWARD E. CHRISTENSEN,
deceased.
ADOLFO
C.
AZNAR, executor
and
appellee,
vs.
MARIA
LUCY
CHRISTENSEN
DUNCAN, oppositor
and
appellant.
MARIA HELEN CHRISTENSEN, oppositor and appellee.
J.
Salonga
and
L.
M.
Abellera
for
oppositor
and
appellee.
Carlos
Dominguez,
Jr.
for
executor-appellee.
M. R. Sotelo for appellant.
MAKALINTAL, J.:
Edward E. Christensen, a citizen of California with domicile in the Philippines, died leaving
a will executed on March 5, 1951. The will was admitted to probate by the Court of First
Instance of Davao in its decision of February 28, 1954. In that same decision the court
declared that Maria Helen Christensen Garcia (hereinafter referred to as Helen Garcia)
was a natural child of the deceased. The declaration was appealed to this Court, and was
affirmed in its decision of February 14, 1958 (G.R. No. L-11484).
In another incident relative to the partition of the deceased's estate, the trial court approved
the project submitted by the executor in accordance with the provisions of the will, which
said court found to be valid under the law of California. Helen Garcia appealed from the
order of approval, and this Court, on January 31, 1963, reversed the same on the ground
that the validity of the provisions of the will should be governed by Philippine law, and
returned the case to the lower court with instructions that the partition be made as provided
by said law (G.R. No. L-16749).
On October 29, 1964, the Court of First Instance of Davao issued an order approving the
project of partition submitted by the executor, dated June 30, 1964, wherein the properties
of the estate were divided equally between Maria Lucy Christensen Duncan (named in the
will as Maria Lucy Christensen Daney, and hereinafter referred to as merely Lucy Duncan),
whom the testator had expressly recognized in his will as his daughter (natural) and Helen
Garcia, who had been judicially declared as such after his death. The said order was
based on the proposition that since Helen Garcia had been preterited in the will the
institution of Lucy Duncan as heir was annulled, and hence the properties passed to both
of them as if the deceased had died intestate, saving only the legacies left in favor of
certain other persons, which legacies have been duly approved by the lower court and
distributed to the legatees.
The case is once more before us on appeal, this time by Lucy Duncan, on the sole
question of whether the estate, after deducting the legacies, should pertain to her and to
Helen Garcia in equal shares, or whether the inheritance of Lucy Duncan as instituted heir
should be merely reduced to the extent necessary to cover the legitime of Helen Garcia,
equivalent to 1/4 of the entire estate.
The will of Edward E. Christensen contains, among others, the following clauses which are
pertinent to the issue in this case:
3. I declare ... that I have but ONE (1) child, named MARIA LUCY CHRISTENSEN (Now
Mrs. Bernard Daney), who was born in the Philippines about twenty-eight years ago, who
is now residing at No. 665 Rodger Young Village, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.
4. I further declare that I now have no living ascendants, and no descendants except my
above-named daughter, MARIA LUCY CHRISTENSEN DANEY.
xxxxxxxxx
7. I give, devise, and bequeath unto MARIA HELEN CHRISTENSEN, now married to
Eduardo Garcia, about eighteen years of age and who, notwithstanding the fact that she
was baptized Christensen, is not in any 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 sum of THREE THOUSAND SIX HUNDRED PESOS (P3,600.00),

Philippine Currency, the same to be deposited in trust for the said Maria 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 Currency per month until the principal
thereof as well as any interest which may have accrued thereon, is exhausted.
xxxxxxxxx
12. I hereby give, devise and bequeath, unto my well-beloved daughter, the said MARIA
LUCY CHRISTENSEN DANEY (Mrs. Bernard Daney) now residing, as aforesaid, at No.
665 Rodger Young Village, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A., all the income from the rest,
remainder, and residue of my property and estate, real, personal and/or mixed, of
whatsoever kind or character, and wheresoever situated, of which I may be possessed at
my death and which may have come to me from any source whatsoever, during her
lifetime; Provided, however, that should the said MARIA LUCY CHRISTENSEN DANEY at
anytime prior to her decease having living issue, then and in that event, the life interest
herein given shall terminate, and if so terminated, then I give, devise, and bequeath to my
daughter, the said MARIA LUCY CHRISTENSEN DANEY the rest, remainder and residue
of my property with the same force and effect as if I had originally so given, devised and
bequeathed it to her; and provided, further, that should the said MARIA LUCY
CHRISTENSEN DANEY die without living issue, then, and in that event, I give, devise and
bequeath all the rest, remainder and residue of my property one-half (1/2) to my wellbeloved sister, Mrs. CARRIE LOUISE C. BORTON, now residing at No. 2124, Twentieth
Street, Bakersfield, California, U.S.A., and one-half (1/2) to the children of my deceased
brother, JOSEPH C. CHRISTENSEN, namely: Mrs. Carol F. Ruggaver, of Los Angeles,
California, U.S.A., and Joseph Raymond Christensen, of Manhattan Beach, California,
U.S.A., share and share alike, the share of any of the three above named who may
predecease me, to go in equal parts to the descendants of the deceased; and, provided
further, that should my sister Mrs. Carol Louise C. Borton die before my own decease,
then, and in that event, the share of my estate devised to her herein I give, devise and
bequeath to her children, Elizabeth Borton de Trevio, of Mexico City Mexico; Barbara
Borton Philips, of Bakersfield, California, U.S.A., and Richard Borton, of Bakersfield,
California, U.S.A., or to the heirs of any of them who may die before my own decease,
share and share alike.
The trial court ruled, and appellee now maintains, that there has been preterition of Helen
Garcia, a compulsory heir in the direct line, resulting in the annulment of the institution of
heir pursuant to Article 854 of the Civil Code, which provides:
ART. 854. The preterition or omission of one, some, or all of the compulsory heirs in the
direct line, whether living at the time of the execution of the will or born after the death of
the testator, shall annul the institution of heir; but the devises and legacies shall be valid
insofar as they are not inofficious.
On the other hand, appellant contends that this is not a case of preterition, but is governed
by Article 906 of the Civil Code, which says: "Any compulsory heir to whom the testator
has left by any title less than the legitime belonging to him may demand that the same be
fully satisfied." Appellant also suggests that considering the provisions of the will whereby
the testator expressly denied his relationship with Helen Garcia, but left to her a legacy
nevertheless although less than the amount of her legitime, she was in effect defectively
disinherited within the meaning of Article 918, which reads:
ART. 918. Disinheritance without a specification of the cause, or for a cause the truth of
which, if contradicted, is not proved, or which is not one of those set forth in this Code,
shall annul the institution of heirs insofar as it may prejudice the person disinherited; but
the devices and legacies and other testamentary dispositions shall be valid to such extent
as will not impair the legitimate.
Thus, according to appellant, under both Article 906 and 918, Helen Garcia is entitled only
to her legitime, and not to a share of the estate equal that of Lucy Duncan as if the
succession were intestate.

SUCCESION: SEANGIO TO RABADILLA 17

Article 854 is a reproduction of Article 814 of the Spanish Civil Code; and Article 906 of
Article 815. Commenting on Article 815, Manresa explains:
Como dice Goyena, en el caso de pretericion puede presumirse ignorancia o falta de
memoria en el testador; en el de dejar algo al heredero forzoso no. Este no se encuentra
plivado totalmente de su legitima: ha recibido por cualquir titulo una porcion de los bienes
hereditarios, porcion que no alcanza a completar la legitima, pero que influeye
poderosamente en el animo del legislador para decidirle a adoptar una solucion bien
diferente de la sealada para el caso de pretericion.
El testador no ha olvidado por completo al heredero forzoso; le ha dejado bienes; pero
haciendo un calculo equivocado, ha repartido en favor de extraos o en favor de otros
legitimarios por via de legado donacion o mejora mayor cantidad de la que la ley de
consentia disponer. El heredero forzoso no puede perder su legitima, pero tampoco puede
pedir mas que la misma. De aqui su derecho a reclamar solamente lo que le falta; al
complemento de la porcion que forzosamente la corresponde.
... Dejar el testador por cualquier titulo, equivale a disponer en testamento por titulo de
herencia legado o mejora, y en favor de legitimarios, de alguna cantidad o porcion de
bienes menos que la legitima o igual a la misma. Tal sentido, que es el mas proprio en al
articulo 815, no pugna tampoco con la doctrina de la ley. Cuando en el testamento se deja
algo al heredero forzoso, la pretericion es incompleta: es mas formularia que real. Cuando
en el testamento nada se deja el legitimario, hay verdadera pretericion. (6 Manresa, 7th
Ed., 1951, p. 437.)
On the difference between preterition of a compulsory heir and the right to ask for
completion of his legitime, Sanchez Roman says:
La desheredacion, como expresa, es siempre voluntaria; la pretericion puede serlo pero
se presume involuntaria la omision en que consiste en cuanto olvida o no atiende el
testador en su testamento a la satisfaccion del derecho a la legitima del heredero forzoso
preterido, prescindiendo absoluta y totalmente de el y no mencionandole en ninguna de
sus disposiciones testamentarias, o no instituyendole en parte alguna de la herencia, ni
por titulo de heredero ni por el de legatar o aunque le mencionara o nombrara sin dejarle
mas o menos bienes. Si le dejara algunos, por pocos que sean e insuficientes para cubrir
su legitima, ya no seria caso de pretericion, sino de complemento de aquella. El primer
supuesto o de pretericion se regula por el articulo 814, y produce accion de nulidad de la
institucion de heredero; y el segundo, o de complemento de legitima por el 815 y solo
original la accion adsuplementum, para completar la legitima. (Sanchez Roman, Tomo VI,
Vol. 2, p. 1131.)
Manresa defines preterition as the omission of the heir in the will, either by not naming him
at all or, while mentioning him as father, son, etc., by not instituting him as heir without
disinheriting him expressly, nor assigning to him some part of the properties. Manresa
continues:
Se necesita pues (a) Que la omision se refiera a un heredero forzoso; (b) Que la omision
sea completa; que el heredero forzoso nada reciba en el testamento.
xxxxxxxxx
B. Que la omision sea completa Esta condicion se deduce del mismo Articulo 814 y
resulta con evidencia al relacionar este articulo con el 815. El heredero forzoso a quien el
testador deja algo por cualquier titulo en su testamento, no se halla propiamente omitido
pues se le nombra y se le reconoce participacion en los bienes hereditarios. Podria
discutirse en el Articulo 814 si era o no necesario que se reconociese el derecho del
heredero como tal heredero, pero el articulo 815 desvanece esta duda. Aquel se ocupa de
privacion completa o total, tacita este, de la privacion parcial. Los efectos deben ser y son,
como veremos completamente distintos (6 Manresa, p. 428.)
La privacion de la legitima puede ser total o parcial.
Privar totalmente de la legitima es negarla en absoluto al legitimario, despojarle de ella por
completo. A este caso se refiere el articulo 814. Privar parcialmente de la legitima, es

menguarla o reducirla dejar al legitimario una porcion, menor que la que le corresponde. A
este caso se refiere el articulo 815. El 813 sienta, pues, una regla general, y las
consecuencias del que brantamiento de esta regla se determina en los articulos 814 y
815. (6 Manresa p. 418.)
Again Sanchez Roman:
QUE LA OMISSION SEA TOTAL. Aunque el articulo 814 no consigna de modo expreso
esta circunstancia de que la pretericion o falta de mencion e institucion o disposicion
testamentaria a su favor, sea total, completa y absoluta, asi se deduce de no hacer
distincion o salvedad alguna empleandola en terminos generales; pero sirve a confirmarlo
de un modo indudable el siguiente articulo 815, al decir que el heredero forzoso a quien el
testador haya dejado por cualquier titulo, menos de la legitima que la corresponda, podria
pedir el complemento de la misma, lo cual yano son el caso ni los efectos de la
pretericion, que anula la institucion, sino simplemente los del suplemento necesario para
cubrir su legitima. (Sanchez Roman Tomo VI, Vol. 2.0 p. 1133.)
The question may be posed: In order that the right of a forced heir may be limited only to
the completion of his legitime (instead of the annulment of the institution of heirs) is it
necessary that what has been left to him in the will "by any title," as by legacy, be granted
to him in his capacity as heir, that is, a titulo de heredero? In other words, should he be
recognized or referred to in the will as heir? This question is pertinent because in the will of
the deceased Edward E. Christensen Helen Garcia is not mentioned as an heir indeed
her status as such is denied but is given a legacy of P3,600.00.
While the classical view, pursuant to the Roman law, gave an affirmative answer to the
question, according to both Manresa (6 Manresa 7th 3rd. 436) and Sanchez Roman
(Tomo VI, Vol. 2.0 p. 937), that view was changed by Article 645 of the "Proyecto de
Codigo de 1851," later on copied in Article 906 of our own Code. Sanchez Roman, in the
citation given above, comments as follows:
RESPECTO DEL COMPLEMENTO DE LA LEGITIMA. Se inspira el Codigo en esta
materia en la doctrina clasica del Derecho romano y patrio (2); pero con alguna racional
modificacion. Concedian aquellos precedentes legales al heredero forzoso, a quien no se
le dejaba por titulo de tal el completo de su legitima, la accion para invalidar la institucion
hecha en el testamento y reclamar y obtener aquella mediante el ejercicio de la querella
de inoficioso, y aun cuando resultara favorecido como donotario, por otro titulo que no
fuera el de heredero, sino al honor de que se le privaba no dandole este caracter, y solo
cuando era instituido heredero en parte o cantidad inferior a lo que le correspondiera
por legitima, era cuando bastaba el ejercicio de la accion ad suplementum para
completarla, sin necesidad de anular las otras instituciones de heredero o demas
disposiciones contenidas en el testamento.
El Articulo 851 se aparta de este criterio estricto y se ajusta a la unica necesidad que le
inspira cual es la de que se complete la legitima del heredero forzoso, a quien por
cualquier titulo se haya dejado menos de lo que le corresponda, y se le otorga tan solo el
derecho de pedir el complemento de la misma sin necesidad de que se anulen las
disposiciones testamentarias, que se reduciran en lo que sean inoficiosas conforme al
articulo 817, cuya interpretacion y sentido tienen ya en su apoyo la sancion de la
jurisprudencia (3); siendo condicion precisa que lo que se hubiere dejado de menos de la
legitima al heredero forzoso, lo haya sido en el testamento, o sea por disposicion del
testador, segun lo revela el texto del articulo, "el heredero forzoso a quien el testador haya
dejado, etc., esto es por titulo de legado o donacionmortis causa en el testamento y, no
fuera de al. (Sanchez Roman, Tomo VI, Vol. 2.0 p. 937.)
Manresa cites particularly three decisions of the Supreme Court of Spain dated January
16, 1895, May 25, 1917, and April 23, 1932, respectively. In each one of those cases the
testator left to one who was a forced heir a legacy worth less than the legitime, but without
referring to the legatee as an heir or even as a relative, and willed the rest of the estate to
other persons. It was held that Article 815 applied, and the heir could not ask that the

SUCCESION: SEANGIO TO RABADILLA 18

institution of heirs be annulled entirely, but only that the legitime be completed. (6
Manresa, pp. 438, 441.)
The foregoing solution is indeed more in consonance with the expressed wishes of the
testator in the present case as may be gathered very clearly from the provisions of his will.
He refused to acknowledge Helen Garcia as his natural daughter, and limited her share to
a legacy of P3,600.00. The fact that she was subsequently declared judicially to possess
such status is no reason to assume that had the judicial declaration come during his
lifetime his subjective attitude towards her would have undergone any change and that he
would have willed his estate equally to her and to Lucy Duncan, who alone was expressly
recognized by him.
The decision of this Court in Neri, et al. v. Akutin, 74 Phil. 185, is cited by appellees in
support of their theory of preterition. That decision is not here applicable, because it
referred to a will where "the testator left all his property by universal title to the children by
his second marriage, and (that) without expressly disinheriting the children by his first
marriage, he left nothing to them or, at least, some of them." In the case at bar the testator
did not entirely omit oppositor-appellee Helen Garcia, but left her a legacy of P3,600.00.
The estate of the deceased Christensen upon his death consisted of 399 shares of stocks
in the Christensen Plantation Company and a certain amount in cash. One-fourth (1/4) of
said estate descended to Helen Garcia as her legitime. Since she became the owner of
her share as of the moment of the death of the decedent (Arts. 774, 777, Civil Code), she
is entitled to a corresponding portion of all the fruits or increments thereof subsequently
accruing. These include the stock dividends on the corporate holdings. The contention of
Lucy Duncan that all such dividends pertain to her according to the terms of the will cannot
be sustained, for it would in effect impair the right of ownership of Helen Garcia with
respect to her legitime.
One point deserves to be here mentioned, although no reference to it has been made in
the brief for oppositor-appellant. It is the institution of substitute heirs to the estate
bequeathed to Lucy Duncan in the event she should die without living issue. This
substitution results in effect from the fact that under paragraph 12 of the will she is entitled
only to the income from said estate, unless prior to her decease she should have living
issue, in which event she would inherit in full ownership; otherwise the property will go to
the other relatives of the testator named in the will. Without deciding this, point, since it is
not one of the issues raised before us, we might call attention to the limitations imposed by
law upon this kind of substitution, particularly that which says that it can never burden the
legitime (Art. 864 Civil Code), which means that the legitime must descend to the heir
concerned in fee simple.
Wherefore, the order of the trial court dated October 29, 1964, approving the project of
partition as submitted by the executor-appellee, is hereby set aside; and the case is
remanded with instructions to partition the hereditary estate anew as indicated in this
decision, that is, by giving to oppositor-appellee Maria Helen Christensen Garcia no more
than the portion corresponding to her as legitime, equivalent to one-fourth (1/4) of the
hereditary estate, after deducting all debts and charges, which shall not include those
imposed in the will of the decedent, in accordance with Article 908 of the Civil Code. Costs
against appellees in this instance.
Concepcion, C.J., J.B.L. Reyes, Barrera, Dizon, Regala, J.P. Bengzon, Zaldivar and
Sanchez, JJ., concur.
RESOLUTION
July 30, 1967
MAKALINTAL, J.:
Oppositor-appellant has filed an ex-parte petition dated July 11, 1966, making reference to
an alleged oversight and asking for the corresponding correction, in the last paragraph
before the dispositive part of our decision, which reads as follows:

One point deserves to be here mentioned, although no reference to it has been made in
the brief for oppositor-appellant. It is the institution of substituted heirs to the estate
bequeathed to Lucy Duncan in the event she should die without living issue. This
substitution results in effect from the fact that under paragraph 12 of the will she is entitled
only to the income from said estate, unless prior to her decease she should have living
issue, in which event she would inherit in full ownership; otherwise the property will go to
the other relatives of the testator named in the will. Without deciding this point, since it is
not one of the issues raised before us, we might call attention to the limitations imposed by
law upon this kind of substitution, particularly that which says that it can never burden the
legitime (Art. 864, Civil Code), which means that the legitime must descend to the heir
concerned in fee simple. (Decision, June 30, 1966, pages 14-15; emphasis ours).
Oppositor-appellant points out that the matter of substitution of heirs was taken up and
discussed in her brief particularly in pages 28 and 32 thereof. This is indeed quite true, but
the reference to and discussion of the rights of the substitute heirs (called American heirs
in the brief) appears to be merely for the purpose of refuting the theory advanced by
appellees and not for the purpose of having the rights of said heirs defined in so far as,
under the terms of the will, they may affect the legitime of oppositor-appellant. This point of
course was not and could hardly have been squarely raised as an issue inasmuch as the
substitute heirs are not parties in this case. We have nevertheless called attention "to the
limitations imposed by law upon this kind of substitution," because in the brief for
oppositor-appellant, at page 45, she makes the conclusion "that the Last Will and
Testament of Edward E. Christensen are valid under Philippine Law and must be given full
force and effect;" and to give them full force and effect would precisely affect the legitime
of oppositor-appellant.
Wherefore, the last paragraph before the dispositive part of our decision quoted above is
amended by eliminating the following phrase in the first sentence: "although no reference
to it has been made in the brief for oppositor-appellant."
Concepcion, C.J., Reyes, J.B.L., Barrera, Dizon, Bengzon, J.P., Zaldivar and Sanchez,
JJ.,
concur.
Regala and Castro, JJ., took no part.

SUCCESION: SEANGIO TO RABADILLA 19

G.R. No. L-41971 November 29, 1983


ZONIA
ANA
T.
vs.
THE COURT OF APPEALS, BIENVENIDO S.
GARCIA, respondents.
Benjamin H. Aquino for petitioner.
Alfredo Kallos for respondents.

SOLANO, petitioner,
GARCIA,

and

EMETERIA

S.

MELENCIO HERRERA, J.:+.wph!1


A Petition for Review on certiorari of the Decision of the then Court of Appeals affirming the
judgment rendered by the former Court of First Instance of Albay, Branch II, in Civil Case No.
3956, an action for Recognition.
On July 7, 1969, Bienvenido Garcia and Emeteria Garcia (GARCIAS), claiming to be illegitimate
children of Dr. Meliton SOLANO, filed an action for recognition against him. In his Answer,
SOLANO denied paternity. On February 3, 1970, during the pendency of the suit, SOLANO died.
Petitioner ZONIA Ana Solano was ordered substituted for the DECEDENT as the only surviving
heir mentioned in his Last Will and Testament probated on March 10, 1969, or prior to his death,
in Special Proceedings No. 842 of the same Court. ZONIA entered her formal appearance as a
"substitute defendant" on March 4, 1970 claiming additionally that she was the sole heir of her
father, SOLANO, and asking that she be allowed to assume her duties as executrix of the
probated Will with the least interference from the GARCIAS who were "mere pretenders to be
illegitimate children of SOLANO".
On April 6, 1970, the GARCIAS filed their "Reply to ZONIA's Appearance and Supplemental
Cause of Action" impugning the recognition of ZONIA as an acknowledged natural child with the
prayer that she be declared instead, like them, as an adulterous child of the DECEDENT. ZONIA
did not file any responsive pleading and the case proceeded to trial. The GARCIAS further
moved for the impleading of the SOLANO estate in addition to ZONIA, which was opposed by
the latter, but which the Trial Court granted in its Order dated April 15, 1970. 1
In the hearing of May 13, 1970, the Trial Court specified the legal issues to be treated in the
parties' respective Memoranda as: 1) the question of recognition of the GARCIAS; 2) the correct
status of ZONIA, and 3) the hereditary share of each of them in view of the probated Will. 2
On July 14, 1970, the Trial Court, presided by Judge Ezequiel S. Grageda, rendered judgment
the dispositive portion of which decrees: t.hqw
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered declaring the plaintiffs
Bienvenido S. Garcia and Emeteria S. Garcia and the defendant Sonia Ana
Tuagnon as the illegitimate children of the late Dr. Meliton Solano under the
class of ADULTEROUS CHILDREN, with all the rights granted them by law.
The institution of Sonia Ana Solano as sole and universal heir of the said
deceased in the will is hereby declared null and void and the three (3)
children shall share equally the estate or one- third (1/3) each, without
prejudice to the legacy given to Trinidad Tuagnon and the right of any
creditors of the estate. No pronouncement as to costs.
Appealed to the Court of Appeals by ZONIA, said Court affirmed the judgment in toto (CA-G.R.
No. 49018).
ZONIA seeks a reversal of that affirmance in this petition, which was given due course.
At the outset, we should state that we are bound by the findings of fact of both the Trial Court
and the Appellate Court, particularly, the finding that the GARCIAS and ZONIA are, in fact,
illegitimate children of the DECEDENT. The oral testimony and the documentary evidence of
record inevitably point to that conclusion, as may be gleaned from the following background
facts: SOLANO, a resident of Tabaco, Albay, married Pilar Riosa. The latter died. On a world
tour he met a French woman, Lilly Gorand, who became his second wife in 1928. The union was
short-lived as she left him in 1929. In the early part of 1930, SOLANO started having amorous
relations with Juana Garcia, out of which affair was born Bienvenido Garcia on March 24, 1931
(Exhibits "A" & "3"); and on November 3, 1935, Emeteria Garcia was born (Exhibits "B " & "2").
Their birth certificates and baptismal certificates mention only the mother's name without the
father's name. The facts establish, however, that SOLANO during his lifetime recognized the
GARCIAS as his children by acts of support and provisions for their education.

In 1935, SOLANO started living with Trinidad Tuagnon. Three children were born out of this
relation but only petitioner ZONIA Ana Tuagnon, born on July 26, 1941, is living. In her Birth
Certificate, her status was listed as "illegitimate"; her mother as Trinidad Tuagnon; her father as
"P.N.C. " (Exhibit "V"), or "padre no conocido".
During the Japanese occupation, SOLANO obtained a divorce from Lilly Gorand on November
29, 1943 (Exhibits "R-1" and "S-1"). On December 22, 1943, SOLANO and Trinidad Tuagnon
executed an "Escritura de Reconocimiento de Unit Hija Natural" (Exhibit "Q"; "7"),
acknowledging ZONIA as a "natural child" and giving her the right to use the name ZONIA Ana
Solano y Tuagnon. The document was registered with the Local Civil Registrar on the same
date.
On January 18, 1969, SOLANO executed his "Ultima Voluntad y Testamento" (Exhibit "11"),
instituting ZONIA as his universal heir to all his personal and real properties in Camalig, Tabaco
and Malinao, all in the province of Albay, except for five parcels of land in Bantayan, Tabaco,
Albay, which were given to Trinidad Tuagnon in usufruct Upon SOLANO's petition (Exhibit "10"),
the Will was duly probated on March 10, 1969 in Special Proceedings No. 842 of the Court of
First Instance of Albay, Branch II, in a Decision also rendered by Judge Ezequiel S. Grageda
(Exhibit "12").
As above stated, these facts are not in question.
Petitioner maintains, however, that: t.hqw
I
The Court of Appeals, as well as the trial Court, acted without jurisdiction or
in excess of jurisdiction in declaring substitute defendant Zonia Ana Solano,
now petitioner, an illegitimate child of the late Dr. Meliton Solano in an
action where private respondents, as plaintiffs in the Court below, sought
recognition as natural children of Dr. Meliton Solano.
II
The Court of Appeals, as well as the trial Court, acted without jurisdiction or
in excess of jurisdiction in ordering the division of the estate of Dr. Meliton
Solano between the petitioner and private respondents, when said estate is
under the jurisdiction and control of the probate Court in Special
Proceedings No. 842.
III
The Court of Appeals, as well as the trial Court, acted without jurisdiction or
in excess of jurisdiction in declaring nun and void the institution of heir in the
last will and testament of Dr. Meliton Solano, which was duly probated in
special proceedings No. 842 of the Court of First Instance of Albay, and in
concluding that total intestacy resulted there from. 3
Directly challenged is the jurisdiction of the lower Court, in an action for recognition: 1) to declare
ZONIA as an illegitimate child of SOLANO; 2) to order the division of the estate in the same
action despite the pendency of Special Proceedings No. 842; and 3) to declare null and void the
institution of heir in the Last Win and Testament of SOLANO, which was duly probated in the
same Special Proceedings No. 842, and concluding that total intestacy resulted.
It is true that the action below was basically one for recognition. However, upon notice of
SOLANO's death, the Trial Court ordered his substitution by ZONIA, "the only surviving heir ...
as of as of now" 4 In her "Appearance of Substitute Defendant Zonia Ana T. Solano ... Sole and
Universal Heir", ZONIA specifically prayed that she be 6 allowed to assume her duties as
executrix and administratrix of the probated will and testament of the late Dr. Meliton Solano,
under Special Proceedings No. 842, which is already final and executory, with least interference
from the plaintiffs (GARCIAS) who may be classified for the moment as only pretenders to be
illegitimate children". In other words, ZONIA did not only rely upon SOLANO's Answer already of
record but asserted new rights in her capacity as sole and universal heir, "executrix and
administratrix, "and challenged the right of the GARCIAS to recognition. Thus, she was not
defending the case as a mere representative of the deceased but asserted rights and defenses
in her own personal capacity. So it was that the GARCIAS filed a "Reply to Appearance of
ZONIA ... and Supplemental Cause of Action ... "vigorously denying that ZONIA was SOLANO's
sole and universal heir; that ZONIA could not legally be considered as SOLANO's acknowledged
natural child because of a legal impediment; that the admission to probate of SOLANO's Will

SUCCESION: SEANGIO TO RABADILLA 20

was merely conclusive as to its due execution; that the supposed recognition under a notarial
instrument of ZONIA as an acknowledged natural child was fraudulent and a product of
misrepresentation; that ZONIA's recognition in the Will as an acknowledged natural child is
subject to nullification and that at most ZONIA is, like them, an adulterous child of SOLANO with
Trinidad Tuagnon.
During the trial, the GARCIAS presented evidence to prove their allegations not only in their
main complaint but also in their "Reply to Appearance and Supplemental Cause of Action".
ZONIA presented no objection to the presentation by the GARCIAS of their oral and
documentary evidence and even cross-examined their witnesses. ZONIA, for her part, presented
her own testimonial and documentary evidence, denied the relationship of the GARCIAS' to
SOLANO and presented the notarial recognition in her favor as an acknowledged natural child
by SOLANO and Trinidad Tuagnon (Exhibit "Q"). Thus, as raised by the parties in their own
pleadings and pursuant to their respective evidence during the trial, the litigation was converted
into a contest between the GARCIAS and ZONIA precisely as to their correct status as heirs and
their respective rights as such. No error was committed by either the Trial Court or the Appellate
Court, therefore, in resolving the issue of ZONIA's status.
ZONIA additionally assails the jurisdiction of the Trial Court in declaring null and void the
institution of heir in SOLANO's will; in concluding that total intestacy resulted therefrom; and
distributing the shares of the parties in SOLANO's estate when said estate was under the
jurisdiction and control of the Probate Court in Special Proceedings No. 842.
Normally, this would be the general rule. However, a peculiar situation is thrust upon us here. It
should be recalled that SOLANO himself instituted the petition for probate of the Will during his
lifetime. That proceeding was not one to settle the estate of a deceased person that would be
deemed terminated only upon the final distribution of the residue of the hereditary estate. With
the Will allowed to probate, the case would have terminated except that it appears that the
parties, after SOLANO's death, continued to file pleadings therein. Secondly, upon motion of the
GARCIAS, and over the objection of ZONIA, the Trial Court ordered the impleading of the estate
of SOLANO and proceeded on that basis. In effect, therefore, the two cases were consolidated.
The records further disclose that the action for recognition (Civil Case No. 3956) and Spec.
Procs. No. 842 were pending before the same Branch of the Court and before the same
presiding Judge. Thirdly, it is settled that the allowance of a Will is conclusive only as to its due
execution. 5 A probate decree is not concerned with the intrinsic validity or legality of the
provisions of the Will. 6
Thus, the Trial Court and the Appellate Court had jurisdiction to conclude that, upon the facts,
the GARCIAS and ZONIA were in the same category as illegitimate children; that ZONIA's
acknowledgment as a "natural child" in a notarial document executed by SOLANO and Trinidad
Tuagnon on December 22, 1943 was erroneous because at the time of her birth in 1941,
SOLANO was still married to Lilly Gorand, his divorce having been obtained only in 1943, and,
therefore, did not have the legal capacity to contract marriage at the time of ZONIA's
conception, 7 that being compulsory heirs, the GARCIAS were, in fact, pretended from
SOLANO's Last' Will and Testament; and that as a result of said preterition, the institution of
ZONIA as sole heir by SOLANO is null and void pursuant to Article 854 of the Civil
Code. t.hqw
The preterition or omission of one, some, or all of the compulsory heirs in
the direct line, whether living at the time of the execution of the will or born
after the death of the testator, shall annul the institution of heir; but the
devises and legacies shall be valid insofar as they are not inofficious. ... 8
As provided in the foregoing provision, the disposition in the Will giving the usufruct in favor of
Trinidad Tuagnon over the five parcels of land in Bantayan, Tabaco, Albay, is a legacy,
recognized in Article 563 of the Civil Code, 9and should be respected in so far as it is not
inofficious. 10
So also did the Trial Court have jurisdiction in resolving the issue of the hereditary shares of the
GARCIAS and ZONIA. However, contrary to the conclusions of the Courts below, holding that
the entire Will is void and intestacy ensues, the pretention of the GARCIAS should annul the
institution of ZONIA as heir only insofar as the legitime of the omitted heirs is impaired. The Will,
therefore, is valid subject to that limitation. 11 It is a plain that the intention of the testator was to
favor ZONIA with certain portions of his property, which, under the law, he had a right to dispose

of by Will, so that the disposition in her favor should be upheld as to the one-half (1/2) portion of
the property that the testator could freely dispose of. 12 Since the legitime of illegitimate children
consists of one half (1/2) of the hereditary estate, 13 the GARCIAS and ZONIA each have a right
to participation therein in the proportion of one-third (1/3) each. ZONIA's hereditary share will,
therefore, be 1/2 + (1/3 of 1/2) or 4/6 of the estate, while the GARCIAS will respectively be
entitled to 1/3 of 1/2 or 1/6 of the value of the estate.
As heretofore stated, the usufruct in favor of Trinidad Tuagnon over the properties indicated in
the Will is valid and should be respected.
The case of Nuguid vs. Nuguid, et al., 14 reiterating the ruling in Neri, et al. vs. Akutin, et
al., 15 which held that where the institution of a universal heir is null and void due to pretention,
the Will is a complete nullity and intestate succession ensues, is not applicable herein because
in the Nuguid case, only a one-sentence Will was involved with no other provision except the
institution of the sole and universal heir; there was no specification of individual property; there
were no specific legacies or bequests. It was upon that factual setting that this Court
declared: t.hqw
The disputed order, we observe, declares the will in question 'a complete
nullity. Article 854 of the Civil Code in turn merely nullifies 'the institution of
heir'. Considering, however, that the will before us solely provides for the
institution of petitioner as universal heir, and nothing more, the result is the
same. The entire will is null." (at p. 459)
In contrast, in the case at bar, there is a specific bequest or legacy so that Article 854 of the Civil
Code, supra, applies merely annulling the "institution of heir".
Lastly, it should be pointed out that the jurisdiction of the Trial Court and the Appellate Court was
never questioned before either Court. ZONIA herself had gone, without objection, to trial on the
issues raised and as defined by the Trial Court. Neither had ZONIA assigned lack of jurisdiction
of the Trial Court as an error before the Appellate Court. She should now be held estopped to
repudiate that jurisdiction to which she had voluntarily submitted, after she had received an
unfavorable judgment, The leading case of Tijam vs. Sibonghanoy, 16 on this point,
declared: t.hqw
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 the same jurisdiction. The question whether the court has
jurisdiction either of the subject matter of the action or of the parties is not
because the judgment or order of the court is valid and conclusive as an
adjudication but for the reason that such practice cannot be tolerated
obviously for reasons of public policy. After voluntarily submitting a cause
and encountering an adverse decision on the merits, it is too late for the
loser to question the jurisdiction or power of the court.
WHEREFORE, the judgment under review is hereby modified in that the hereditary share in the
estate of the decedent of petitioner Zonia Ana T. Solano is hereby declared to be (1/2 + (1/3 of
1/2) or 4/6 of said estate, while that of private respondents, Bienvenido S. Garcia and Emeteria
S. Garcia, shall each be (1/3 of 1/2) or (1/6) of the estate. The usufruct in favor of Trinidad
Tuagnon shall be respected. The judgment is affirmed in all other respects. No costs.
SO ORDERED.1wph1.t

SUCCESION: SEANGIO TO RABADILLA 21

G.R. No. 168660


June 30, 2009
HILARION, JR. and ENRICO ORENDAIN, represented by FE D.
1
ORENDAIN, Petitioners,
vs.
TRUSTEESHIP
OF
THE
ESTATE
OF
DOA
MARGARITA
RODRIGUEZ, Respondent.
DECISION
NACHURA, J.:
This petition for certiorari, filed under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, assails the
2
Order of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Manila, Branch 4 in SP. PROC. No.
51872 which denied petitioners (Hilarion, Jr. and Enrico Orendain, heirs of Hilarion
Orendain, Sr.) Motion to Dissolve the Trusteeship of the Estate of Doa Margarita
Rodriguez.
First, we revisit the long settled facts.
On July 19, 1960, the decedent, Doa Margarita Rodriguez, died in Manila, leaving a
last will and testament. On September 23, 1960, the will was admitted to probate by
virtue of the order of the Court of First Instance of Manila City (CFI Manila) in Special
Proceeding No. 3845. On August 27, 1962, the CFI Manila approved the project of
partition presented by the executor of Doa Margarita Rodriguezs will.
At the time of her death, the decedent left no compulsory or forced heirs and,
consequently, was completely free to dispose of her properties, without regard to
3
legitimes, as provided in her will. Some of Doa Margarita Rodriguezs testamentary
dispositions contemplated the creation of a trust to manage the income from her
properties for distribution to beneficiaries specified in the will, to wit:
xxxx
CLAUSULA SEGUNDA O PANG-DALAWA: - x x x Ipinaguutos ko na matapos
magawa ang pagaayos ng aking Testamentaria at masara na ang Expediente ng
aking Testamentaria, ang lahat ng pagaare ko sa aking ipinaguutos na pangasiwaan
sa habang panahon ay ipagbukas sa Juzgado ng tinatawag na "FIDEICOMISO" at
ang ilalagay na "fideicomisario" ang manga taong nasabi ko na sa itaas nito, at ang
kanilang gaganahin ay ang nasasabi sa testamentong ito na gaganahen ng
tagapangasiwa at albacea. x x x x
CLAUSULA TERCERA O PANG-TATLO: - Ipinaguutos ko na ang kikitain ng lahat ng
aking pagaare, na ang hindi lamang kasama ay ang aking lupain na nasasabi sa
Certificado de Transferencia de Titulo No. 7156 (Lote No. 1088-C), Certificado
Original de Titulo No. 4588 (LOTE No. 2492), Certificado Original de Titulo No. 4585
(Lote No. 1087) ng lalawigan ng Quezon, at ang bahaging maytanim na palay ng
lupang nasasaysay sa Certificado Original de Titulo No. 4587 (Lote No. 1180) ng
Quezon, ay IIPUNIN SA BANCO upang maibayad sa anillaramiento, ang tinatawag
na "estate Tax", ang "impuesto de herencia" na dapat pagbayaran ng aking
pinagbibigyan na kasama na din ang pagbabayaran ng "Fideicomiso", gastos sa
abogado na magmamakaalam ng testamentaria at gastos sa Husgado. Ngunit bago
ipasok sa Banco ang kikitaen ng nabangit na manga gagaare, ay aalisin muna ang
manga sumusunod na gastos:
xxxx
CLAUSULA DECIMA O PANG-SAMPU: - Ipinaguutos ko na ang manga pagaareng
nasasabi sa Clausulang ito ay pangangasiwaan sa habang panahon, at ito nga ang
ipagbubukas ng "Fideicomiso" sa Jusgado pagkatapos na maayos ang naiwanan
kong pagaare. Ang pangangasiwaang pagaare ay ang manga sumusunod:
xxxx

Ang lahat ng pagaaring nasasabe sa Clusulang ito (hindi kasama ang "generator" at
automovil) hindi maisasanla o maipagbibili kailan man, maliban sa pagaaring nasa
Quezon Boulevard, Maynila, na maaring isanla kung walang fondo na gagamitin sa
ipagpapaigui o ipagpapagawa ng panibago alinsunod sa kaayusang hinihingi ng
panahon.
xxxx
CLAUSULA DECIMA SEGUNDA O PANG-LABING DALAWA: - Ang kuartang
matitipon sa Banco ayon sa tagubilin na nasasaysay sa Clausulang sinusundan nito
ay gagamitin sa manga sumusunod na pagkakagastusan; at ganito din ang gagawin
sa lahat ng aking pagaare na nasasakop ng fideicomiso at walang ibang
pinaguukulan. Ang pagkakagastusan na ito ay ang sumusunod:
xxxx
CLAUSULA VIGESIMA CUARTA O PANG-DALAWANGPU AT APAT: - Ipinaguutos
ko sa aking manga Tagapangasiwa na sa fondong ipinapasok sa Banco para sa
gastos ng Nia Maria, Misa at iba pa, kukuha sila na kakailanganin para maitulong sa
manga sumusunod: Florentina Luna, Roberta Ponce, Marciada Ponce, Benita Ponce,
Constancia Pineda, Regino Pineda, Tomas Payumo, Rosito Payumo, Loreto
Payumo, Brigido Santos at Quintin Laino, Hilarion Orendain at manga anak. Ang
manga dalaga kung sakali at inabutan ng pagkamatay ko na ako ay pinagtiisan at
hindi humiwalay sa akin, kung magkasakit ay ipagagamot at ibabayad sa medico, at
ibibili ng gamot, at kung kailangan ang operacion ay ipaooperacion at ipapasok sa
Hospital na kinababagayan ng kaniyang sakit, at kahit maypagkakautang pa sa
"impuesto de herencia at estate tax" ay ikukuha sa nasabing fondo at talagang
ibabawas doon, at ang paggagamot ay huag pagtutuusan, at ang magaalaga sa
kanya ay bibigyan ng gastos sa pagkain at sa viaje at iba pa na manga kailangan ng
nagaalaga. Kung nasa provincia at dadalhin ditto sa Maynila ay bibigyan ng gastos sa
viaje ang maysakit at ang kasama sa viaje, at ang magaalaga ay dito tutuloy sa
bahay sa Tuberias at Tanduay na natatalaga sa manga may servicio sa akin, at kung
mamatay at gusting iuwi sa provincia ang bangkay ay iupa at doon ilibing at dapit ng
Pare at hated sa nicho na natotoka sa kanya. Ganito din ang gagawain kung
mayasawa man ay nasa poder ko ng ako ay mamatay. Ang wala sa poder ko
datapua at nagservicio sa akin, kaparis ng encargado, ang gagawaing tulong ay
ipagagamot, ibibili ng gamot at kung kailangan ang operacion o matira sa Hospital,
4
ipaooperacion at ipagbabayad sa Hospital. (emphasis supplied)
xxxx
As regards Clause 10 of the will which explicitly prohibits the alienation or mortgage
of the properties specified therein, we had occasion to hold, in Rodriguez, etc., et al.
5
v. Court of Appeals, et al., that the clause, insofar as the first twenty-year period is
6
concerned, does not violate Article 870 of the Civil Code. We declared, thus:
The codal provision does not need any interpretation. It speaks categorically. What is
declared void is the testamentary disposition prohibiting alienation after the twentyyear period. In the interim, such a provision does not suffer from the vice of invalidity.
It cannot be stricken down. Time and time again, We have said, and We now repeat,
that when a legal provision is clear and to the point, there is no room for
interpretation. It must be applied according to its literal terms.
Even with the purpose that the testatrix had in mind were not as unequivocal, still the
same conclusion emerges. There is no room for intestacy as would be the effect if the
challenged resolution of January 8, 1968 were not set aside. The wishes of the
testatrix constitute the law. Her will must be given effect. This is so even if there could
be an element of uncertainty insofar as the ascertainment thereof is concerned. In the

SUCCESION: SEANGIO TO RABADILLA 22

language of a Civil Code provision: "If a testamentary disposition admits of different


interpretations, in case of doubt, that interpretation by which the disposition is to be
operative shall be preferred." Nor is this all. A later article of the Civil Code equally
calls for observance. Thus: "The words of a will are to receive an interpretation which
will give to every expression some effect, rather than one which will render any of the
expressions inoperative; and of two modes of interpreting a will, that is to be preferred
which will prevent intestacy."
xxxx
Nothing can be clearer, therefore, than that [Petra, Antonia and Rosa, all surnamed
Rodriguez] could not challenge the provision in question. [They] had no right to
vindicate. Such a right may never arise. The twenty-year period is still with us. What
would transpire thereafter is still locked up in the inscrutable future, beyond the power
of mere mortals to foretell. At any rate, We cannot anticipate. Nor should We. We do
not possess the power either of conferring a cause of action to a party when, under
7
the circumstances disclosed, it had none.
Almost four decades later, herein petitioners Hilarion, Jr. and Enrico Orendain, heirs
of Hilarion Orendain, Sr. who was mentioned in Clause 24 of the decedents will,
moved to dissolve the trust on the decedents estate, which they argued had been in
8
existence for more than twenty years, in violation of Articles 867 and 870 of the Civil
9
Code, and inconsistent with our ruling in Rodriguez v. Court of Appeals.
10
On April 18, 2005, the RTC issued the herein assailed Order:
The above-cited provisions of the civil code find no application in the present motion
to dissolve the trust created by the testatrix. There is no question that the
testamentary disposition of Doa Margarita Rodriguez prohibiting the mortgage or
sale of properties mentioned in clause X of her Last Will and Testament forevermore
is void after the lapse of the twenty year period. However, it does not mean that the
trust created by [the] testatrix in order to carry out her wishes under clauses 12, 13
and 24 will also become void upon expiration of the twenty year period. As ruled by
the Supreme Court in Emetrio Barcelon v. CA, "the codal provision cited in Art. 870 is
clear and unequivocal and does not need any interpretation. What is declared void is
the testamentary disposition prohibiting alienation after the twenty year period."
Hence, the trustees may dispose of the properties left by the testatrix in order to carry
out the latters testamentary disposition.
The question as to whether a trust can be perpetual, the same finds support in Article
1013[,] paragraph 4 of the Civil Code, which provides that "the Court, at the instance
of an interested party or its motion, may order the establishment of a permanent trust
so that only the income from the property shall be used." In the present case, the
testatrix directed that all the twenty five (25) pieces of property listed in the tenth
clause should be placed under the trusteeship and should be perpetually
administered by the trustees and a certain percentage of the income from the trust
estate should be deposited in a bank and should be devoted for the purposes
specifically indicated in the clauses 12, 13 and 24.1awphi1
The wishes of the testatrix constitute the law. Her will must be given effect. This is
even if there could be an element of uncertainty insofar as the ascertainment thereof
is concerned. This Court so emphatically expressed it in a decision rendered more
than sixty years ago. Thus, respect for the will of a testator as [an] expression of his
last testamentary disposition, constitutes the principal basis of the rules which the law
prescribes for the correct interpretation of all of the clauses of the will; the words and
provision therein written must be plainly construed in order to avoid a violation of his
intentions and real purpose. The will of the testator clearly and explicitly stated must

be respected and complied with as an inviolable law among the parties in interest.
Such is the doctrine established by the Supreme Court of Spain, constantly
maintained in a great number of decisions.
Hence, this petition, positing the following issues:
1. WHETHER THE TRUSTEESHIP OVER THE PROPERTIES LEFT BY
DOA MARGARITA RODRIGUEZ CAN BE DISSOLVED APPLYING
ARTICLES 867 AND 870 OF THE CIVIL CODE.
2. WHETHER THE LOWER COURT IS CORRECT IN STATING THAT THE
ABOVE-CITED PROVISIONS OF THE CIVIL CODE FINDS NO
APPLICATION IN THE PRESENT MOTION TO DISSOLVE THE TRUST
CREATED BY THE TESTATRIX.
3. CONCOMITANT THERETO, [WHETHER] THE LOWER COURT [IS]
CORRECT IN APPLYING ARTICLE 1013 PARAGRAPH 4 OF THE CIVIL
11
CODE.
Before we delve into the foregoing issues, it is noteworthy that the present petition,
albeit captioned as a petition for certiorari, is actually a petition for review on
certiorari, raising only pure questions of law. On more than one occasion, we have
allowed erroneously labeled actions based on the averments contained in the petition
12
or complaint. Thus, we now disregard the incorrect designation and treat this as a
petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court.
The petition is impressed with merit.
The issues being intertwined, we shall discuss them jointly.
Quite categorical from the last will and testament of the decedent is the creation of a
perpetual trust for the administration of her properties and the income accruing
therefrom, for specified beneficiaries. The decedent, in Clause 10 of her will, listed a
number of properties to be placed under perpetual administration of the trust. In fact,
the decedent unequivocally forbade the alienation or mortgage of these properties. In
all, the decedent did not contemplate the disposition of these properties, but only
sought to bequeath the income derived therefrom to various sets of beneficiaries.
13
On this score, we held in Rodriguez v. Court of Appeals that the perpetual
prohibition was valid only for twenty (20) years. We affirmed the CAs holding that the
trust stipulated in the decedents will prohibiting perpetual alienation or mortgage of
the properties violated Articles 867 and 870 of the Civil Code. However, we reversed
and set aside the CAs decision which declared that that portion of the decedents
estate, the properties listed in Clause 10 of the will, ought to be distributed based on
intestate succession, there being no institution of heirs to the properties covered by
the perpetual trust.
As previously quoted, we reached a different conclusion and upheld the trust, only
insofar as the first twenty-year period is concerned. We refrained from forthwith
declaring the decedents testamentary disposition as void and the properties
enumerated in Clause 10 of the will as subject to intestate succession. We held that,
in the interim, since the twenty-year period was then still upon us, the wishes of the
testatrix ought to be respected.
Thus, at present, there appears to be no more argument that the trust created over
the properties of the decedent should be dissolved as the twenty-year period has,
quite palpably, lapsed.
Notwithstanding the foregoing, the RTC ruled otherwise and held that: (a) only the
perpetual prohibition to alienate or mortgage is declared void; (b) the trust over her
properties stipulated by the testatrix in Clauses 12, 13 and 24 of the will remains

SUCCESION: SEANGIO TO RABADILLA 23

valid; and (c) the trustees may dispose of these properties in order to carry out the
latters testamentary disposition.
We disagree.
Apparent from the decedents last will and testament is the creation of a trust on a
specific set of properties and the income accruing therefrom. Nowhere in the will can
it be ascertained that the decedent intended any of the trusts designated
beneficiaries to inherit these properties. The decedents will did not institute any heir
thereto, as clearly shown by the following:
1. Clause 2 instructed the creation of trust;
2. Clause 3 instructed that the remaining income from specified properties,
after the necessary deductions for expenses, including the estate tax, be
deposited in a fund with a bank;
3. Clause 10 enumerated the properties to be placed in trust for perpetual
administration (pangasiwaan sa habang panahon);
4. Clauses 11 and 12 directed how the income from the properties ought to
be divided among, and distributed to the different beneficiaries; and
5. Clause 24 instructed the administrators to provide medical support to
certain beneficiaries, to be deducted from the fund deposits in the bank
mentioned in Clauses 2 and 3.
Plainly, the RTC was mistaken in denying petitioners motion to dissolve and ordering
the disposition of the properties in Clause 10 according to the testatrixs wishes. As
regards these properties, intestacy should apply as the decedent did not institute an
heir therefor. Article 782, in relation to paragraph 2, Article 960 of the Civil Code,
provides:
Art. 782. An heir is a person called to the succession either by the provision of a will
or by operation of law.
xxxx
Art. 960. Legal or intestate succession takes place:
xxxx
(2) When the will does not institute an heir to, or dispose of all the property belonging
to the testator. In such case, legal succession shall take place only with respect to the
property of which the testator has not disposed;
xxx
14
We find as erroneous the RTCs holding that paragraph 4, Article 1013 of the same
code specifically allows a perpetual trust, because this provision of law is
inapplicable. Suffice it to state that the article is among the Civil Code provisions on
intestate succession, specifically on the State inheriting from a decedent, in default of
persons entitled to succeed. Under this article, the allowance for a permanent trust,
approved by a court of law, covers property inherited by the State by virtue of
intestate succession. The article does not cure a void testamentary provision which
did not institute an heir. Accordingly, the article cannot be applied to dispose of herein
decedents properties.
We are not unmindful of our ruling in Palad, et al. v. Governor of Quezon Province, et
15
al. where we declared, thus:
Article 870 of the New Civil Code, which regards as void any disposition of the
testator declaring all or part of the estate inalienable for more than 20 years, is not
violated by the trust constituted by the late Luis Palad; because the will of the testator
does not interdict the alienation of the parcels devised. The will merely directs that the
income of said two parcels be utilized for the establishment, maintenance and
operation of the high school.

Said Article 870 was designed "to give more impetus to the socialization of the
ownership of property and to prevent the perpetuation of large holdings which give
rise to agrarian troubles." The trust herein involved covers only two lots, which have
not been shown to be a large landholding. And the income derived therefrom is being
devoted to a public and social purpose the education of the youth of the land. The
use of said parcels therefore is in a sense socialized. There is no hint in the record
16
that the trust has spawned agrarian conflicts.
In this case, however, we reach a different conclusion as the testatrix specifically
prohibited the alienation or mortgage of her properties which were definitely more
than the two (2) properties in the aforecited case. The herein testatrixs large
landholdings cannot be subjected indefinitely to a trust because the ownership thereof
would then effectively remain with her even in the afterlife.
In light of the foregoing, therefore, the trust on the testatrixs properties must be
dissolved and this case remanded to the lower court to determine the following:
1. The properties listed in Clause 10 of the will, constituting the perpetual
trust, which are still within reach and have not been disposed of as yet; and
2. The intestate heirs of the decedent, with the nearest relative of the
deceased entitled to inherit the remaining properties.
One final note. To obviate confusion, we clarify that the petitioners, although correct
in moving for the dissolution of the trust after the twenty-year period, are not
necessarily declared as intestate heirs of the decedent. Our remand of the case to the
RTC means that the probate court should now make a determination of the heirship
of the intestate heirs of the decedent where petitioners, and all others claiming to be
heirs of the decedent, should establish their status as such consistent with our ruling
17
in Heirs of Yaptinchay v. Hon. del Rosario.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is GRANTED. The Order of the
Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 4 in SP. PROC. No. 51872 is REVERSED and
SET ASIDE. The trust approved by the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 4 in
SP. PROC. No. 51872 is DISSOLVED. We ORDER the Regional Trial Court of
Manila, Branch 4 in SP. PROC. No. 51872 to determine the following:
1. the properties listed in Clause 10 of Doa Margarita Rodriguezs will,
constituting the perpetual trust, which are still within reach and have not
been disposed of as yet; and
2. the intestate heirs of Doa Margarita Rodriguez, with the nearest relative
of the decedent entitled to inherit the remaining properties.
SO ORDERED.

SUCCESION: SEANGIO TO RABADILLA 24

February 13, 1930


G.R.
No.
31703
CARMEN G. DE PEREZ, trustee of the estate of Ana Maria
Alcantara, plaintiff-appellee,
vs.
MARIANO GARCHITORENA, and JOSE CASIMIRO, Sheriff of the Court of
First Instance of Manila, defendants-appellants.
L.
D.
Lockwood
and
Jose
M.
Casal
for
appellants.
Eduardo Gutierrez Repide and Leoncio B. Monzon for appellee.
ROMUALDEZ, J.:
The amount of P21,428.58 is on deposit in the plaintiff's name with the
association known as La Urbana in Manila, as the final payment of the liquidated
credit of Ana Maria Alcantara, deceased, whose heiress is said plaintiff, against
Andres Garchitorena, also deceased, represented by his son, the defendant
Mariano Garchitorena.
And as said Mariano Garchitorena held a judgment for P7,872.23 against
Joaquin Perez Alcantara, husband of the plaintiff, Carmen G. de Perez, the
sheriff pursuant to the writ of execution issued in said judgment, levied an
attachment on said amount deposited with La Urbana.
The plaintiff, alleging that said deposit belongs to the fideicommissary heirs of the
decedent Ana Maria Alcantara, secured a preliminary injunction restraining the
execution of said judgment on the sum so attached. The defendants contend that
the plaintiff is the decedent's universal heiress, and pray for the dissolution of the
injunction.
The court below held that said La Urbana deposit belongs to the plaintiff's
children as fideicommissary heirs of Ana Maria Alcantara, and granted a final writ
of injunction.
The defendants insist in their contentions, and, in their appeal from the decision
of the trial court, assign the following errors:
1. The lower court erred in holding that a trust was created by the will of Doa
Ana Maria Alcantara.
2. The lower court erred in concluding and declaring that the amount of
P21,428.58 deposited with La Urbana is the property of the children of the
plaintiff as "herederos fidei-comisarios."
3. The lower court erred in making the injunction permanent and condemning
defendant to pay the costs.
The question here raised is confined to the scope and meaning of the institution
of heirs made in the will of the late Ana Maria Alcantara already admitted to
probate, and whose legal force and effect is not in dispute.
The clauses of said will relevant to the points in dispute, between the parties are
the ninth, tenth, and eleventh, quoted below:
Ninth. Being single and without any forced heir, to show my gratitude to my
niece-in-law, Carmen Garchitorena, of age, married to my nephew, Joaquin
Perez Alcantara, and living in this same house with me, I institute her as my sole
and universal heiress to the remainder of my estate after the payment of my
debts and legacies, so that upon my death and after probate of this will, and after
the report of the committee on claims and appraisal has been rendered and

approved, she will receive from my executrix and properties composing my


hereditary estate, that she may enjoy them with God's blessing and my own.
Tenth. Should my heiress Carmen Garchitorena die, I order that my whole estate
shall pass unimpaired to her surviving children; and should any of these die, his
share shall serve to increase the portions of his surviving brothers (and sisters)
by accretion, in such wise that my estate shall never pass out of the hands of my
heiress or her children in so far as it is legally possible.
Eleventh. Should my aforesaid heiress, Carmen Garchitorena, die after me while
her children are still in their minority, I order that my estate be administered by
my executrix, Mrs. Josefa Laplana, and in her default, by Attorney Ramon
Salinas and in his default, by his son Ramon Salinas; but the direction herein
given must not be considered as an indication of lack of confidence in my
nephew Joaquin Perez Alcantara, whom I relieve from the duties of administering
my estate, because I recognize that his character is not adapted to management
and administration.
The appellants contend that in these clauses the testatrix has ordered a simple
substitution, while the appellee contends that it is a fideicommissary substitution.
This will certainly provides for a substitution of heirs, and of the three cases that
might give rise to a simple substitution (art. 774, Civil Code), only the death of the
instituted heiress before the testatrix would in the instant case give place to such
substitution, inasmuch as nothing is said of the waiver of inheritance, or
incapacity to accept it. As a matter of fact, however, clause XI provides for the
administration of the estate in case the heiress instituted should die after the
testatrix and while the substitute heirs are still under age. And it is evident that,
considering the nature of simple substitution by the heir's death before the
testator, and the fact that by clause XI in connection with clause X, the
substitution is ordered where the heiress instituted dies after the testatrix, this
cannot be a case of simple substitution.
The existence of a substitution in the will is not and cannot be denied, and since
it cannot be a simple substitution in the light of the considerations above stated,
let us now see whether the instants case is a fideicommissary substitution.
In clause IX, the testatrix institutes the plaintiff herein her sole and universal
heiress, and provides that upon her death (the testatrix's) and after probate of the
will and approval of the report of the committee on claims and appraisal, said
heiress shall receive and enjoy the whole hereditary estate. Although this clause
provides nothing explicit about substitution, it does not contain anything in conflict
with the idea of fideicommissary substitution. The fact that the plaintiff was
instituted the sole and universal heiress does not prevent her children from
receiving, upon her death and in conformity with the express desire of the
testatrix, the latter's hereditary estate, as provided in the following (above quoted)
clauses which cannot be disregarded if we are to give a correct interpretation of
the will. The word sole does not necessarily exclude the idea of substitute heirs;
and taking these three clauses together, such word means that the plaintiff is the
sole heiress instituted in the first instance.
The disposition contained in clause IX, that said heiress shall receive and enjoy
the estate, is not incompatible with a fideicommissary substitution (it certainly is
incompatible with the idea of simple substitution, where the heiress instituted
does not receive the inheritance). In fact the enjoyment of the inheritance is in

SUCCESION: SEANGIO TO RABADILLA 25

conformity with the idea of fideicommissary substitution, by virtue of which the


heir instituted receives the inheritance and enjoys it, although at the same time
he preserves it in order to pass it on the second heir. On this point the illustrious
Manresa, in his Civil Code (Vol. 6, pp. 142 and 143, 5th ed.), says:
Or, what amounts to the same thing, the fideicommissary substitution, as held in
the Resolution of June 25, 1895, February 10, 1899, and July 19, 1909, requires
three things:
1. A first heir called primarily to the enjoyment of the estate.
2. An obligation clearly imposed upon him to preserve and transmit to a third
person the whole or a part of the estate.
3. A second heir.
To these requisites, the decision of November 18, 1918 adds another, namely
that the fideicommissarius be entitled to the estate from the time the testator
dies, since he is to inherit from the latter and not from the fiduciary. (Emphasis
ours.)
It appears from this quotation that the heir instituted or the fiduciary, as referred
to in articles 783 of the Civil Code, is entitled to enjoy the inheritance. And it
might here be observed, as a timely remark, that the fideicommissum arising
from a fideicommissary substitution, which is of Roman origin, is not exactly
equivalent to, nor may it be confused with, the English "trust."
It should also be noted that said clause IX vests in the heiress only the right to
enjoy but not the right to dispose of the estate. It says, she may enjoy it, but does
not say she may dispose of it. This is an indication of the usufruct inherent in
fideicommissary substitution.
Clause X expressly provides for the substitution. It is true that it does not say
whether the death of the heiress herein referred to is before or after that of the
testatrix; but from the whole context it appears that in making the provisions
contained in this clause X, the testatrix had in mind a fideicommissary
substitution, since she limits the transmission of her estate to the children of the
heiress by this provision, "in such wise that my estate shall never pass out of the
hands of my heiress or her children in so far as it is legally possible." Here it
clearly appears that the testatrix tried to avoid the possibility that the substitution
might later be legally declared null for transcending the limits fixed by article 781
of the Civil Code which prescribed that fideicommissary substitutions shall be
valid "provided they do not go beyond the second degree."
Another clear and outstanding indication of fideicommissary substitution in clause
X is the provision that the whole estate shall pass unimpaired to the heiress's
children, that is to say the heiress is required to preserve the whole estate,
without diminution, in order to pass it on in due time to the fideicommissary heirs.
This provision complies with another of the requisites of fideicommissary
substitution according to our quotation from Manresa inserted above.
Lastly, clause XI more clearly indicates the idea of fideicommissary substitution,
when a provision is therein made in the event the heiress should die after the
testatrix. That is, said clause anticipates the case where the instituted heiress
should die after the testatrix and after receiving and enjoying the inheritance.
The foregoing leads us to the conclusion that all the requisites of a
fideicommissary substitution, according to the quotation from Manresa above
inserted, are present in the case of substitution now under consideration, to wit:

1. At first heir primarily called to the enjoyment of the estate. In this case the
plaintiff was instituted an heiress, called to the enjoyment of the estate, according
to clause IX of the will.
2. An obligation clearly imposed upon the heir to preserve and transmit to a third
person the whole or a part of the estate. Such an obligation is imposed in clause
X which provides that the "whole estate shall pass unimpaired to her (heiress's)
surviving children;" thus, instead of leaving the heiress at liberty to dispose of the
estate by will, or of leaving the law to take its course in case she dies intestate,
said clause not only disposes of the estate in favor of the heiress instituted, but
also provides for the disposition thereof in case she should die after the testatrix.
3. A second heir. Such are the children of the heiress instituted, who are referred
to as such second heirs both in clause X and in clause XI.
Finally, the requisite added by the decision of November 18, 1918, to wit, that the
fideicommissarius or second heir should be entitled to the estate from the time of
the testator's death, which in the instant case, is, rather than a requisite, a
necessary consequence derived from the nature of the fideicommissary
substitution, in which the second heir does not inherit from the heir first instituted,
but from the testator.
By virtue of this consequence, the inheritance in question does not belong to the
heiress instituted, the plaintiff herein, as her absolute property, but to her
children, from the moment of the death of the testatrix, Ana Maria Alcantara.
Therefore, said inheritance, of which the amount referred to at the beginning,
which is on deposit with the association known as La Urbana in the plaintiff's
name, is a part, does not belong to her nor can it be subject to the execution of
the judgment against Joaquin Perez, who is not one of the fideicommissary heirs.
The judgment appealed from is affirmed, with costs against the appellant,
Mariano Garchitorena. So ordered.

SUCCESION: SEANGIO TO RABADILLA 26

G.R. No. L-13876


February 28, 1962
CONSOLACION FLORENTINO DE CRISOLOGO, ET AL., plaintiffsappellees,
vs.
DR. MANUEL SINGSON, defendant-appellant.
Felix
V.
Vergara
for
defendant-appellant.
B. Martinez for plaintiffs-appellees.
DIZON, J.:
Action for partition commenced by the spouses Consolacion Florentino and
Francisco Crisologo against Manuel Singson in connection with a residential
lot located a Plaridel St., Vigan, Ilocos Sur, with an area of approximately 193
square meters, and the improvements existing thereon, covered by Tax No.
10765-C. Their complaint alleged that Singson owned one-half pro-indiviso of
said property and that Consolacion Florentino owned the other half by virtue
of the provisions of the duly probated last will of Da. Leona Singson, the
original owner, and the project of partition submitted to, and approved by the
Court of First Instance of Ilocos Sur in special Proceeding No. 453; that
plaintiffs had made demands for the partition of said property, but defendant
refused to accede thereto, thus compelling them to bring action.
Defendant's defense was that Consolacion Florentino was a mere
usufructuary of, and not owner of one-half pro-indiviso of the property in
question, and that, therefore, she was not entitled to demand partition
thereof.
After trial upon the issue thus posed, the lower court rendered judgment as
follows:
1. Declaring that the plaintiff is a co-owner pro-indiviso with the
defendant of the house and lot described in the complaint to the
extent of each of an undivided 1/2 portion thereof; .
2. Ordering the aforesaid co-owners to execute an agreement of
partition of the said property within 30 days from receipt of this
judgment unless it be shown that the division thereof may render it
unserviceable, in which case the provisions of Art. 498 of the New
Civil Code may be applied; .1wph1.t
3. That in the event the said parties shall fail to do so, this Court will
appoint the corresponding commissioners to make the partition in
accordance with law; and .
4. Without special pronouncement as to costs." .
From the above judgment, defendant Singson appealed.
It is admitted that Da. Leona Singson, who died single on January 13, 1948,
was the owner of the property in question at the time of her death. On July
31, 1951 she executed her last will which was admitted to probate in Special
Proceeding No. 453 of the lower court whose decision was affirmed by the
Court of Appeals in G.R. No. 3605-R. At the time of the execution of the will,
her nearest living relatives were her brothers Evaristo, Manuel and Dionisio

Singson, her nieces Rosario, Emilia and Trinidad, and her grandniece
Consolation, all surnamed Florentino.
Clause IX of her last will reads as follows: .
NOVENO. Ordeno que se de a mi nieta por parte de mi hermana
mia y que al mismo tiempo vive en mi casa, y, por tanto, bajo mi
proteccion, y es la CONSOLACION FLORENTINO:
(A). La mitad de mi casa de materials fuertes con techo de hierro
galvanizado, incluyendo la mitad de su solar, ubicado en la
Poblacion de Vigan, Ilocos Sur, Calle Plaridel, actualmente
arrendada por los hermanos Fortunato, Teofilo y Pedro del appellido
Kairuz. Pero si falleciere antes o despues que yo mi citada nieta,
esta propiedad se dara por partes iguales entre mis tres hermanos
Evaristo, Manuel y Dionisio, o a sus herederos forzosos en el caso
de que alguno de ellas murieie antes ... (Exhibit F.)
The issue to be decided is whether the testamentary disposition abovequoted provided for what is called sustitucion vulgar or for a sustitucion
fideicomisaria. This issue is, we believe, controlled by the pertinent
provisions of the Civil Code in force in the Philippines prior to the effectivity of
the New Civil Code, in view of the fact that the testatrix died on January 13,
1948. They are the following: .
Art. 774. The testator may designate one or more persons to
substitute the heir or heirs instituted in case such heir or heirs should
die before him, or should not wish or should be unable to accept the
inheritance.
A simple substitution, without a statement of the cases to which it is
to apply, shall include the three mentioned in the next preceeding
paragraph, unless the testator has otherwise provided:
Art. 781. Fidei-commissary substitutions by virtue of which the heir is
charged to preserve and transmit to a third person the whole or part
of the inheritance shall be valid and effective, provided they do not
go beyond the second degree, or that they are made in favor of
persons living at the time of the death of the testator." .
Art. 785. The following shall be inoperative: .
1. Fiduciary substitutions not made expressly, either by giving them
this name or by imposing upon the fiduciary the absolute obligation
of delivering the property to a second heir." ....
In accordance with the first legal provision quoted above, the testator may
not only designate the heirs who will succeed him upon his death, but also
provide for substitutes in the event that said heirs do not accept or are in no
position to accept the inheritance or legacies, or die ahead of him.
The testator may also bequeath his properties to a particular person with the
obligation, on the part of the latter, to deliver the same to another person,
totally or partially, upon the occurrence of a particular event (6 Manresa, p.
1112).

SUCCESION: SEANGIO TO RABADILLA 27

It is clear that the particular testamentary clause under consideration


provides for a substitution of the heir named therein in this manner: that upon
the death of Consolacion Florentino whether this occurs before or after
that of the testatrix the property bequeathed to her shall be delivered ("se
dara") or shall belong in equal parts to the testatrix's three brothers, Evaristo,
Manuel and Dionisio, or their forced heirs, should anyone of them die ahead
of Consolacion Florentino. If this clause created what is known as sustitucion
vulgar, the necessary result would be that Consolacion Florentino, upon the
death of the testatrix, became the owner of one undivided half of the
property, but if it provided for a sustitution fideicomisaria, she would have
acquired nothing more than usufructuary rights over the same half. In the
former case, she would undoubtedly be entitled to partition, but not in the
latter. As Manresa says, if the fiduciary did not acquire full ownership of the
property bequeathed by will, but mere usufructuary rights thereon until the
time came for him to deliver said property to the fideicomisario, it is obvious
that the nude ownership over the property, upon the death of the testatrix,
passed to and was acquired by another person, and the person cannot be
other than the fideicomisario (6 Manresa p. 145).
It seems to be of the essence of a fideicommissary substitution that an
obligation be clearly imposed upon the first heir to preserve and transmit to
another the whole or part of the estate bequeathed to him, upon his death or
upon the happening of a particular event. For this reason, Art. 785 of the old
Civil Code provides that a fideicommissary substitution shall have no effect
unless it is made expressly ("de una manera expresa") either by giving it
such name, or by imposing upon the first heir the absolute obligation
("obligacion terminante") to deliver the inheritance to a substitute or second
heir. In this connection Manresa says: .
Para que la sustitucion sea fideicomisaria, es preciso segun el art.
781, que se ordeno o encargue al primer heredero, cuando sea tal,
que conserve y transmita a una tercera persona o entidad el todo a
parte de la herencia. O lo que es lo mismo, la sustitucion
fideicomisaria, como declaran las resoluciones de 25 de Junio de
1895, 10 de Febrero de 1899 y 19 de Julio de 1909, exige tres
requisitos: .
1.o Un primer heredero llamado al goce de los bienes
preferentemente.
2.o Obligacion claramente impuesta al mismo de conservar y
transmitir a un tercero el todo o parte del caudal.
3.o Un segundo heredero.
A estos requisitos anade la sentencia de 18 de Noviembre de 1918,
otro mas, el del que el fideicomisario tenga derecho a los bienes de
la herencia desde el momento de la muerte del testador, puesto que
ha de suceder a este y no al fiduciario.
Por tanto, cuando el causante se limita a instituir dos herederos, y
por fallecimiento de ambos o de cualquiera de ellos, asigna la parte

del fallecido o fallecidos, a los herederos legitimos o a otras


personas, solo existe una sustitucion vulgar, porque falta el requisito
de haberse impuesto a los primeros herederos la obligacion de
conservar y transmitir los bienes, y el articulo 789, en su parrafo
primero, evige que la sustitucion sea expresa, ya dandole el testador
el nombre de sustitucion fideicomisaria, ya imponiendo al sustituido
la obligacion terminante de conservar y transmitir los bienes a un
segundo heredero.
A careful perusal of the testamentary clause under consideration shows that
the substitution of heirs provided for therein is not expressly made of the
fideicommissary kind, nor does it contain a clear statement to the effect that
appellee, during her lifetime, shall only enjoy usufructuary rights over the
property bequeathed to her, naked ownership thereof being vested in the
brothers of the testatrix. As already stated, it merely provides that upon
appellee's death whether this happens before or after that of the testatrix
her share shall belong to the brothers of the testatrix.
In the light of the foregoing, we believe, and so hold, that the last will of the
deceased Da. Leona Singson, established a mere sustitucion vulgar, the
substitution Consolacion Florentino by the brothers of the testatrix to be
effective or to take place upon the death of the former, whether it happens
before or after that of the testatrix.
IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the appealed judgment is affirmed, with
costs.

SUCCESION: SEANGIO TO RABADILLA 28

G.R. No. L-56249 May 29, 1987


IN THE MATTER OF THE TESTATE ESTATE OF THE DECEASED REV.
FATHER TEODORO ARANAS, RAMONA B. VDA. DE ARANAS, ADELIA
B. ARANAS-FERNANDEZ, HEIRS OF THE LATE RODULFO B. ARANAS,
ETC.,
ET
AL., petitioners,
vs.
VICENTE B. ARANAS AND HON. LUIS B. MANTA, respondents.
PARAS, J.:
This is a petition for certiorari which seeks to declare the orders of
respondent Judge dated July 16, 1980 and September 23, 1980 as an
exercise of a gross abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction, by
ruling that the properties under Group C of the testate estate of the late
Fr.Teodoro Aranas are subject to remunerative legacies.
The antecedent facts of the case are as follows:
Fr. Teodoro Aranas, a priest of the Roman Catholic Church, died on January
19, 1953. He had executed on June 6, 1946 his Last Will and Testament
which was admitted to probate on August 31, 1956. In said Last Will and
Testament, Fr. Teodoro Aranas stipulated the following:
A. The return to Aniceto Aranas or his heirs of all properties acquired by Fr.
Aranas from his brother Aniceto Aranas and ten (10) parcels of land
described in the Will inherited by the testator from his parents.
B. The return to Carmelo Aranas or his heirs of all properties acquired by Fr.
Aranas from his brother Carmelo Aranas and ten (10) parcels of land
described in the Will inherited by the testator from his parents.
C. The special administration of the remainder of the estate of the testator by
Vicente Aranas, a faithful and serviceable nephew and designating him also
as recipient of 1/2 of the produce of said properties after deducting the
expenses for the administration and the other 1/2 of the produce to be given
to the Catholic Church for the eternal repose of the testator's soul. Said
pertinent provision 1 reads as follows:
Fourth. It is my will that the lands I had bought from other
persons should be converged and placed under a "special
administrator." The special administrator of these lands, for
his office, should receive one half of all the produce from
which shall be deducted the expenses for the administration,
and the other half of the produce should be received by the
Roman Catholic Church and should be spent for my soul,
Vicente B. Aranas (Tingting), because he is a faithful and
serviceable nephew, should be the first special administrator
of said properties, without bond, until his death or until he
should not want to hold the said office anymore. Anyone of
the sons of my brother Carmelo Aranas can hold the said
office of special administrator, and none other than they.
Their father, my brother Carmelo Aranas shall be the one to

decide who among them shall hold the said office, but upon
the death of my said brother Carmelo Aranas, his said sons
will have power to select the one among them ourselves.
The special administration is perpetual.
2
The lower court in its Order dated November 17, 1977 ruled, upon
petitioners' (in Sp. Proc. No. 303) "Motion for the Declaration of Heirs and
Partition; and for Removal of the Administrator (Vicente Aranas) and/or for
his Permission to Resign, and appointment of His Successor" that the
"perpetual inalienability and administration of the portion of the estate of the
late Rev. Fr. Teodoro Aranas, administered by Vicente Aranas, is nun and
void after twenty years from January 19, 1954 ... " and declared in the same
order the heirs of the late Fr. Teodoro Aranas. It also declared that "the
removal of Vicente Aranas will, therefore, not serve the ends of justice and
for the best interest of all the heirs, particularly with respect to the portion of
the estate taken by the heirs of Aniceto Aranas, represented by the
petitioners herein and the rest of the heirs of Carmelo, represented by the
3
intervenors, coheirs of Administrator Vicente Aranas."
However, the abovesaid Order was subsequently set aside upon the "Urgent
Motion for Reconsideration and to Declare Testate and Intestate Heirs of the
late Fr. Teodoro Aranas," filed by the administrator Vicente Aranas on the
allegation that said order was violative of due process and without legal and
factual basis because only the issue for the removal of the administrator was
heard and not the matter of the declaration of heirs. Thus, the lower court
4
declared in its Order, dated July 16, 1980 that the Order dated November
17, 1977 is "set aside and in the interest of justice, reopened in order that
5
other heirs, successors-in-interest of Felino Aranas, could likewise assert
their claims, as in the case of the heirs of Aniceto Aranas and Carmelo
6
Aranas."
Their Motion for Reconsideration having been denied by the lower court in its
order dated September 23, 1980, petitioners now come before Us by
certiorari raising the issue that the lower court erred in setting aside its order
dated November 17, 1977 and in not applying the provisions on Usufruct of
the New Civil Code with respect to the properties referred to as Group "C" in
the Last Will and Testament.
The court ruled in its questioned order that this particular group of properties
(Group "C") is subject to the following:
1. Remunerative legacy by way of usufruct of the net
proceeds of 1/2 of the estate after deducting expenses for
administration in favor of Vicente Aranas, during his lifetime
and shall continue an administrator of the estate, and, who,
upon his death or refusal to continue such usufruct, may be
succeeded by any of the brothers of the administrator as
selected by their father, Carmelo Aranas, if still alive or one
selected by his sons if, he, Carmelo, is dead; Pursuant to the
Will. (Article 562, 563, 564 and 603 of the New Civil Code).

SUCCESION: SEANGIO TO RABADILLA 29

2. Legacy in favor of the Roman Catholic Church, particularly


the Archbishop diocese of Cagayan de Oro City
Represented by the Reverend Archbishop Patrick H. Cronin
over one-half of the proceeds of the properties under Group
"C." (Article 603, New Civil Code) and to last for a period of
Fifty years from the effective date of the legacy, Article 605,
New Civil Code). (Annex "L-14," p. 87, Rollo)
Assailing the aforementioned ruling, petitioners rely heavily on the doctrine
laid down in Art. 870 of the New Civil Code to wit:
Art. 870. The dispositions of the testator declaring all or part
of the estate inalienable for more than twenty years are void.
A cursory reading of the English translation of the Last Will and Testament
shows that it was the sincere intention and desire of the testator to reward his
nephew Vicente Aranas for his faithful and unselfish services by allowing him
to enjoy one-half of the fruits of the testator's third group of properties until
Vicente's death and/or refusal to act as administrator in which case, the
administration shall pass to anyone chosen by Carmelo Aranas among his
sons and upon Carmelo's death, his sons will have the power to select one
among themselves. Vicente Aranas therefore as a usufructuary has the right
to enjoy the property of his uncle with all the benefits which result from the
normal enjoyment (or exploitation) of another's property, with the obligation
to return, at the designated time, either the same thing, or in special cases its
equivalent. This right of Vicente to enjoy the fruits of the properties is
temporary and therefore not perpetual as there is a limitation namely his
death or his refusal. Likewise his designation as administrator of these
properties is limited by his refusal and/or death and therefore it does not run
counter to Art. 870 of the Civil Code relied upon by the petitioners. Be it
noted that Vicente Aranas is not prohibited to dispose of the fruits and other
benefits arising from the usufruct. Neither are the naked owners (the other
heirs) of the properties, the usufruct of which has been given to Vicente
Aranas prohibited from disposing of said naked ownership without prejudice
of course to Vicente's continuing usufruct. To void the designation of Vicente
Aranas as usufructuary and/or administrator is to defeat the desire and the
dying wish of the testator to reward him for his faithful and unselfish services
rendered during the time when said testator was seriously ill or bed-ridden.
The proviso must be respected and be given effect until the death or until the
refusal to act as such of the instituted usufructuary/administrator, after which
period, the property can be properly disposed of, subject to the limitations
provided in Art. 863 of the Civil Code concerning a fideicommissary
substitution, said Article says:
A fideicommissary substitution by virtue of which the
fiduciary or first heir instituted is entrusted with the obligation
to preserve and to transmit to a second heir the whole or
part of the inheritance, shall be valid and shall take effect,
provided such substitution does not go beyond one degree

from the heir originally instituted, and provided further, that


the fiduciary or first heir and the second heir are living at the
time of the death of the testator.
It is contended by petitioners that the ruling made by respondent court dated
November 17, 1977 was already final and not subject to correction as what
was set aside and to be reheard was only regarding the determination of
additional heirs. Such contention is not worthy of credence. Respondents in
their Memorandum allege and it is not disputed by petitioners that the order
of November 17, 1977 has not yet become final because it was received only
on January 12, 1978 by the counsel for respondent Vicente Aranas and the
Motion for Reconsideration and to declare testamentary and intestate heirs
dated January 17, 1978 was filed by the said respondent within the
reglementary period. Besides the validity or invalidity of the usufructuary
dispositions would affect the determination of heirs.
As to petitioners' allegation that the order of July 16, 1980 is without basis,
the record shows that during the hearing of the urgent motion for
reconsideration and to declare testamentary and intestate heirs, it was
proven conclusively by the said respondent Vicente B. Aranas that he was
instituted as a remunerative legatee per mandate of the Last Will and
Testament by way of usufructuary. Likewise the right of the Roman Catholic
Church as the other usufructuary legatee for the duration of the statutory
lifetime of a corporation, that is, 50 years from the date of the effectivity of
7
said legacy, was also established.
WHEREFORE, the instant petition is hereby dismissed.
SO ORDERED.

SUCCESION: SEANGIO TO RABADILLA 30

G.R. No. L-27952 February 15, 1982


TESTATE ESTATE OF JOSE EUGENIO RAMIREZ, MARIA LUISA PALACIOS,
Administratrix, petitioner-appellee,
vs.
MARCELLE D. VDA. DE RAMIREZ, ET AL., oppositors, JORGE and ROBERTO
RAMIREZ, legatees, oppositors- appellants.
ABAD SANTOS, J.:
The main issue in this appeal is the manner of partitioning the testate estate of Jose
Eugenio Ramirez among the principal beneficiaries, namely: his widow Marcelle Demoron
de Ramirez; his two grandnephews Roberto and Jorge Ramirez; and his companion
Wanda de Wrobleski.
The task is not trouble-free because the widow Marcelle is a French who lives in Paris,
while the companion Wanda is an Austrian who lives in Spain. Moreover, the testator
provided for substitutions.
Jose Eugenio Ramirez, a Filipino national, died in Spain on December 11, 1964, with only
his widow as compulsory heir. His will was admitted to probate by the Court of First
Instance of Manila, Branch X, on July 27, 1965. Maria Luisa Palacios was appointed
administratrix of the estate. In due time she submitted an inventory of the estate as follows:
INVENTARIO
Una sexta parte (1/6) proindiviso de un te
rreno, con sus mejoras y edificaciones, situadoen
la Escolta, Manila............................................................. P500,000.00
Una sexta parte (1/6) proindiviso de dos
parcelas de terreno situadas en Antipolo, Rizal................... 658.34
Cuatrocientos noventa y uno (491) acciones
de la 'Central Azucarera de la Carlota a P17.00
por accion ................................................................................8,347.00
Diez mil ochocientos seize (10,806) acciones
de la 'Central Luzon Milling Co.', disuelta y en
liquidacion a P0.15 por accion ..............................................1,620.90
Cuenta de Ahorros en el Philippine Trust
Co.............................................................................................. 2,350.73
TOTAL..............................................................
P512,976.97
MENOS:
Deuda al Banco de las Islas Filipinas, garantizada con prenda de las acciones de La Carlota ......... P 5,000,00
VALOR
LIQUIDO...........................................
P507,976.97
The testamentary dispositions are as follows:
A.En nuda propiedad, a D. Roberto y D. Jorge Ramirez, ambas
menores de edad, residentes en Manila, I.F., calle 'Alright, No. 1818,
Malate, hijos de su sobrino D. Jose Ma. Ramirez, con sustitucion vulgar
a favor de sus respectivos descendientes, y, en su defecto, con
sustitucion vulgar reciprocal entre ambos.
El precedente legado en nuda propiedad de la participacion indivisa de
la finca Santa Cruz Building, lo ordena el testador a favor de los
legatarios nombrados, en atencion a que dicha propiedad fue creacion
del querido padre del otorgante y por ser aquellos continuadores del
apellido Ramirez,
B.Y en usufructo a saber:

a. En cuanto a una tercera parte, a favor de la esposa del testador, Da.


Marcelle Ramirez, domiciliada en IE PECO, calle del General Gallieni
No. 33, Seine Francia, con sustitucion vulgar u fideicomisaria a favor
de Da. Wanda de Wrobleski, de Palma de Mallorca, Son Rapina
Avenida de los Reyes 13,
b.Y en cuanto a las dos terceras partes restantes, a favor de la
nombrada Da. Wanda de Nrobleski con sustitucion vulgar v
fideicomisaria a saber:
En cuanto a la mitad de dichas dos terceras partes, a favor de D. Juan
Pablo Jankowski, de Son Rapina Palma de Mallorca; y encuanto a la
mitad restante, a favor de su sobrino, D. Horace V. Ramirez, San Luis
Building, Florida St. Ermita, Manila, I.F.
A pesar de las sustituciones fideiconiisarias precedentemente
ordinadas, las usufiructuarias nombradas conjuntamente con los nudo
propietarios, podran en cualquier memento vender a tercero los bienes
objeto delegado, sin intervencion alguna de los titulares
fideicomisaarios.
On June 23, 1966, the administratrix submitted a project of partition as follows: the
property of the deceased is to be divided into two parts. One part shall go to the widow 'en
pleno dominio" in satisfaction of her legitime; the other part or "free portion" shall go to
Jorge and Roberto Ramirez "en nuda propriedad." Furthermore, one third (1/3) of the free
portion is charged with the widow's usufruct and the remaining two-thirds (2/3) with a
usufruct in favor of Wanda.
Jorge and Roberto opposed the project of partition on the grounds: (a) that the provisions
for vulgar substitution in favor of Wanda de Wrobleski with respect to the widow's usufruct
and in favor of Juan Pablo Jankowski and Horacio V. Ramirez, with respect to Wanda's
usufruct are invalid because the first heirs Marcelle and Wanda) survived the testator; (b)
that the provisions for fideicommissary substitutions are also invalid because the first heirs
are not related to the second heirs or substitutes within the first degree, as provided in
Article 863 of the Civil Code; (c) that the grant of a usufruct over real property in the
Philippines in favor of Wanda Wrobleski, who is an alien, violates Section 5, Article III of
the Philippine Constitution; and that (d) the proposed partition of the testator's interest in
the Santa Cruz (Escolta) Building between the widow Marcelle and the appellants, violates
the testator's express win to give this property to them Nonetheless, the lower court
approved the project of partition in its order dated May 3, 1967. It is this order which Jorge
and Roberto have appealed to this Court.
1. The widow's legitime.
The appellant's do not question the legality of giving Marcelle one-half of the estate in full
ownership. They admit that the testator's dispositions impaired his widow's legitime.
Indeed, under Art. 900 of the Civil Code "If the only survivor is the widow or widower, she
or he shall be entitled to one-half of the hereditary estate." And since Marcelle alone
survived the deceased, she is entitled to one-half of his estate over which he could impose
no burden, encumbrance, condition or substitution of any kind whatsoever. (Art. 904, par.
2, Civil Code.)
It is the one-third usufruct over the free portion which the appellants question and
justifiably so. It appears that the court a quo approved the usufruct in favor of Marcelle
because the testament provides for a usufruct in her favor of one-third of the estate. The
court a quo erred for Marcelle who is entitled to one-half of the estate "en pleno dominio"
as her legitime and which is more than what she is given under the will is not entitled to
have any additional share in the estate. To give Marcelle more than her legitime will run
counter to the testator's intention for as stated above his dispositions even impaired her
legitime and tended to favor Wanda.
2. The substitutions.

SUCCESION: SEANGIO TO RABADILLA 31

It may be useful to recall that "Substitution is the appoint- judgment of another heir so that
he may enter into the inheritance in default of the heir originally instituted." (Art. 857, Civil
Code. And that there are several kinds of substitutions, namely: simple or common, brief or
compendious, reciprocal, and fideicommissary (Art. 858, Civil Code.) According to
Tolentino, "Although the Code enumerates four classes, there are really only two principal
classes of substitutions: the simple and the fideicommissary. The others are merely
variations of these two." (111 Civil Code, p. 185 [1973].)
The simple or vulgar is that provided in Art. 859 of the Civil Code which reads:
ART. 859. The testator may designate one or more persons to
substitute the heir or heirs instituted in case such heir or heirs should
die before him, or should not wish, or should be incapacitated to accept
the inheritance.
A simple substitution, without a statement of the cases to which it
refers, shall comprise the three mentioned in the preceding paragraph,
unless the testator has otherwise provided.
The fideicommissary substitution is described in the Civil Code as follows:
ART. 863. A fideicommissary substitution by virtue of which the
fiduciary or first heir instituted is entrusted with the obligation to
preserve and to transmit to a second heir the whole or part of
inheritance, shall be valid and shall take effect, provided such
substitution does not go beyond one degree from the heir originally
instituted, and provided further that the fiduciary or first heir and the
second heir are living at time of the death of the testator.
It will be noted that the testator provided for a vulgar substitution in respect of the legacies
of Roberto and Jorge Ramirez, the appellants, thus: con sustitucion vulgar a favor de sus
respectivos descendientes, y, en su defecto, con substitution vulgar reciprocal entre
ambos.
The appellants do not question the legality of the substitution so provided. The appellants
question the sustitucion vulgar y fideicomisaria a favor de Da. Wanda de Wrobleski" in
connection with the one-third usufruct over the estate given to the widow Marcelle
However, this question has become moot because as We have ruled above, the widow is
not entitled to any usufruct.
The appellants also question the sustitucion vulgar y fideicomisaria in connection with
Wanda's usufruct over two thirds of the estate in favor of Juan Pablo Jankowski and
Horace v. Ramirez.
They allege that the substitution in its vulgar aspect as void because Wanda survived the
testator or stated differently because she did not predecease the testator. But dying before
the testator is not the only case for vulgar substitution for it also includes refusal or
incapacity to accept the inheritance as provided in Art. 859 of the Civil Code, supra.
Hence, the vulgar substitution is valid.
As regards the substitution in its fideicommissary aspect, the appellants are correct in their
claim that it is void for the following reasons:
(a) The substitutes (Juan Pablo Jankowski and Horace V. Ramirez) are not related to
Wanda, the heir originally instituted. Art. 863 of the Civil Code validates a fideicommissary
substitution "provided such substitution does not go beyond one degree from the heir
originally instituted."
What is meant by "one degree" from the first heir is explained by Tolentino as follows:
Scaevola Maura, and Traviesas construe "degree" as designation,
substitution, or transmission. The Supreme Court of Spain has
decidedly adopted this construction. From this point of view, there can
be only one tranmission or substitution, and the substitute need not be
related to the first heir. Manresa, Morell and Sanchez Roman, however,
construe the word "degree" as generation, and the present Code has

obviously followed this interpretation. by providing that the substitution


shall not go beyond one degree "from the heir originally instituted." The
Code thus clearly indicates that the second heir must be related to and
be one generation from the first heir.
From this, it follows that the fideicommissary can only be either a child
or a parent of the first heir. These are the only relatives who are one
generation or degree from the fiduciary (Op. cit., pp. 193-194.)
(b) There is no absolute duty imposed on Wanda to transmit the usufruct to the substitutes
as required by Arts. 865 and 867 of the Civil Code. In fact, the appellee admits "that the
testator contradicts the establishment of a fideicommissary substitution when he permits
the properties subject of the usufruct to be sold upon mutual agreement of the
usufructuaries and the naked owners." (Brief, p. 26.)
3. The usufruct of Wanda.
The appellants claim that the usufruct over real properties of the estate in favor of Wanda
is void because it violates the constitutional prohibition against the acquisition of lands by
aliens.
The 1935 Constitution which is controlling provides as follows:
SEC. 5. Save in cases of hereditary succession, no private agricultural
land shall be transferred or assigned except to individuals,
corporations, or associations qualified to acquire or hold lands of the
public domain in the Philippines. (Art. XIII.)
The court a quo upheld the validity of the usufruct given to Wanda on the ground that the
Constitution covers not only succession by operation of law but also testamentary
succession. We are of the opinion that the Constitutional provision which enables aliens to
acquire private lands does not extend to testamentary succession for otherwise the
prohibition will be for naught and meaningless. Any alien would be able to circumvent the
prohibition by paying money to a Philippine landowner in exchange for a devise of a piece
of land.
This opinion notwithstanding, We uphold the usufruct in favor of Wanda because a
usufruct, albeit a real right, does not vest title to the land in the usufructuary and it is the
vesting of title to land in favor of aliens which is proscribed by the Constitution.
IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the estate of Jose Eugenio Ramirez is hereby ordered
distributed as follows:
One-half (1/2) thereof to his widow as her legitime;
One-half (1/2) thereof which is the free portion to Roberto and Jorge Ramirez in naked
ownership and the usufruct to Wanda de Wrobleski with a simple substitution in favor of
Juan Pablo Jankowski and Horace V. Ramirez.
The distribution herein ordered supersedes that of the court a quo. No special
pronouncement as to costs.
SO ORDERED.

SUCCESION: SEANGIO TO RABADILLA 32

G.R. No. 113725


June 29, 2000
JOHNNY
S.
RABADILLA,1 petitioner,
vs.
COURT OF APPEALS AND MARIA MARLENA2 COSCOLUELLA Y BELLEZA
VILLACARLOS, respondents.
DECISION
PURISIMA, J.:
This is a petition for review of the decision of the Court of Appeals, 3 dated
December 23, 1993, in CA-G.R. No. CV-35555, which set aside the decision of
Branch 52 of the Regional Trial Court in Bacolod City, and ordered the
defendants-appellees (including herein petitioner), as heirs of Dr. Jorge
Rabadilla, to reconvey title over Lot No. 1392, together with its fruits and
interests, to the estate of Aleja Belleza.
The antecedent facts are as follows:
In a Codicil appended to the Last Will and Testament of testatrix Aleja Belleza,
Dr. Jorge Rabadilla, predecessor-in-interest of the herein petitioner, Johnny S.
Rabadilla, was instituted as a devisee of 511, 855 square meters of that parcel of
land surveyed as Lot No. 1392 of the Bacolod Cadastre. The said Codicil, which
was duly probated and admitted in Special Proceedings No. 4046 before the then
Court of First Instance of Negros Occidental, contained the following provisions:
"FIRST
I give, leave and bequeath the following property owned by me to Dr. Jorge
Rabadilla resident of 141 P. Villanueva, Pasay City:
(a) Lot No. 1392 of the Bacolod Cadastre, covered by Transfer
Certificate of Title No. RT-4002 (10942), which is registered in my name
according to the records of the Register of Deeds of Negros Occidental.
(b) That should Jorge Rabadilla die ahead of me, the aforementioned
property and the rights which I shall set forth hereinbelow, shall be
inherited and acknowledged by the children and spouse of Jorge
Rabadilla.
xxx
FOURTH
(a)....It is also my command, in this my addition (Codicil), that should I die and
Jorge Rabadilla shall have already received the ownership of the said Lot No.
1392 of the Bacolod Cadastre, covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. RT4002 (10942), and also at the time that the lease of Balbinito G. Guanzon of the
said lot shall expire, Jorge Rabadilla shall have the obligation until he dies, every
year to give to Maria Marlina Coscolluela y Belleza, Seventy (75) (sic) piculs of
Export sugar and Twenty Five (25) piculs of Domestic sugar, until the said Maria
Marlina Coscolluela y Belleza dies.
FIFTH
(a) Should Jorge Rabadilla die, his heir to whom he shall give Lot No. 1392 of the
Bacolod Cadastre, covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. RT-4002 (10492),
shall have the obligation to still give yearly, the sugar as specified in the Fourth
paragraph of his testament, to Maria Marlina Coscolluela y Belleza on the month
of December of each year.
SIXTH

I command, in this my addition (Codicil) that the Lot No. 1392, in the event that
the one to whom I have left and bequeathed, and his heir shall later sell, lease,
mortgage this said Lot, the buyer, lessee, mortgagee, shall have also the
obligation to respect and deliver yearly ONE HUNDRED (100) piculs of sugar to
Maria Marlina Coscolluela y Belleza, on each month of December, SEVENTY
FIVE (75) piculs of Export and TWENTY FIVE (25) piculs of Domestic, until Maria
Marlina shall die, lastly should the buyer, lessee or the mortgagee of this lot, not
have respected my command in this my addition (Codicil), Maria Marlina
Coscolluela y Belleza, shall immediately seize this Lot No. 1392 from my heir and
the latter's heirs, and shall turn it over to my near desendants, (sic) and the latter
shall then have the obligation to give the ONE HUNDRED (100) piculs of sugar
until Maria Marlina shall die. I further command in this my addition (Codicil) that
my heir and his heirs of this Lot No. 1392, that they will obey and follow that
should they decide to sell, lease, mortgage, they cannot negotiate with others
than my near descendants and my sister."4
Pursuant to the same Codicil, Lot No. 1392 was transferred to the deceased, Dr.
Jorge Rabadilla, and Transfer Certificate of Title No. 44498 thereto issued in his
name.
Dr. Jorge Rabadilla died in 1983 and was survived by his wife Rufina and
children Johnny (petitioner), Aurora, Ofelia and Zenaida, all surnamed Rabadilla.
On August 21, 1989, Maria Marlena Coscolluela y Belleza Villacarlos brought a
complaint, docketed as Civil Case No. 5588, before Branch 52 of the Regional
Trial Court in Bacolod City, against the above-mentioned heirs of Dr. Jorge
Rabadilla, to enforce the provisions of subject Codicil. The Complaint alleged that
the defendant-heirs violated the conditions of the Codicil, in that:
1. Lot No. 1392 was mortgaged to the Philippine National Bank and the
Republic Planters Bank in disregard of the testatrix's specific instruction
to sell, lease, or mortgage only to the near descendants and sister of the
testatrix.
2. Defendant-heirs failed to comply with their obligation to deliver one
hundred (100) piculs of sugar (75 piculs export sugar and 25 piculs
domestic sugar) to plaintiff Maria Marlena Coscolluela y Belleza from
sugar crop years 1985 up to the filing of the complaint as mandated by
the Codicil, despite repeated demands for compliance.
3. The banks failed to comply with the 6th paragraph of the Codicil which
provided that in case of the sale, lease, or mortgage of the property, the
buyer, lessee, or mortgagee shall likewise have the obligation to deliver
100 piculs of sugar per crop year to herein private respondent.
The plaintiff then prayed that judgment be rendered ordering defendant-heirs to
reconvey/return-Lot No. 1392 to the surviving heirs of the late Aleja Belleza, the
cancellation of TCT No. 44498 in the name of the deceased, Dr. Jorge Rabadilla,
and the issuance of a new certificate of title in the names of the surviving heirs of
the late Aleja Belleza.
On February 26, 1990, the defendant-heirs were declared in default but on March
28, 1990 the Order of Default was lifted, with respect to defendant Johnny S.
Rabadilla, who filed his Answer, accordingly.
During the pre-trial, the parties admitted that:

SUCCESION: SEANGIO TO RABADILLA 33

On November 15, 1998, the plaintiff (private respondent) and a certain Alan
Azurin, son-in-law of the herein petitioner who was lessee of the property and
acting as attorney-in-fact of defendant-heirs, arrived at an amicable settlement
and entered into a Memorandum of Agreement on the obligation to deliver one
hundred piculs of sugar, to the following effect:
"That for crop year 1988-89, the annuity mentioned in Entry No. 49074 of TCT
No. 44489 will be delivered not later than January of 1989, more specifically, to
wit:
75 piculs of 'A' sugar, and 25 piculs of 'B' sugar, or then existing in any of our
names, Mary Rose Rabadilla y Azurin or Alan Azurin, during December of each
sugar crop year, in Azucar Sugar Central; and, this is considered compliance of
the annuity as mentioned, and in the same manner will compliance of the annuity
be in the next succeeding crop years.
That the annuity above stated for crop year 1985-86, 1986-87, and 1987-88, will
be complied in cash equivalent of the number of piculs as mentioned therein and
which is as herein agreed upon, taking into consideration the composite price of
sugar during each sugar crop year, which is in the total amount of ONE
HUNDRED FIVE THOUSAND PESOS (P105,000.00).
That the above-mentioned amount will be paid or delivered on a staggered cash
installment, payable on or before the end of December of every sugar crop year,
to wit:
For 1985-86, TWENTY SIX THOUSAND TWO HUNDRED FIFTY (P26,250.00)
Pesos, payable on or before December of crop year 1988-89;
For 1986-87, TWENTY SIX THOUSAND TWO HUNDRED FIFTY (P26,250.00)
Pesos, payable on or before December of crop year 1989-90;
For 1987-88, TWENTY SIX THOUSAND TWO HUNDRED FIFTY (P26,250.00)
Pesos, payable on or before December of crop year 1990-91; and
For 1988-89, TWENTY SIX THOUSAND TWO HUNDRED FIFTY (P26,250.00)
Pesos, payable on or before December of crop year 1991-92."5
However, there was no compliance with the aforesaid Memorandum of
Agreement except for a partial delivery of 50.80 piculs of sugar corresponding to
sugar crop year 1988 -1989.
On July 22, 1991, the Regional Trial Court came out with a decision, dismissing
the complaint and disposing as follows:
"WHEREFORE, in the light of the aforegoing findings, the Court finds that the
action is prematurely filed as no cause of action against the defendants has as
yet arose in favor of plaintiff. While there maybe the non-performance of the
command as mandated exaction from them simply because they are the children
of Jorge Rabadilla, the title holder/owner of the lot in question, does not warrant
the filing of the present complaint. The remedy at bar must fall. Incidentally, being
in the category as creditor of the left estate, it is opined that plaintiff may initiate
the intestate proceedings, if only to establish the heirs of Jorge Rabadilla and in
order to give full meaning and semblance to her claim under the Codicil.
In the light of the aforegoing findings, the Complaint being prematurely filed is
DISMISSED without prejudice.
SO ORDERED."6
On appeal by plaintiff, the First Division of the Court of Appeals reversed the
decision of the trial court; ratiocinating and ordering thus:

"Therefore, the evidence on record having established plaintiff-appellant's right to


receive 100 piculs of sugar annually out of the produce of Lot No. 1392;
defendants-appellee's obligation under Aleja Belleza's codicil, as heirs of the
modal heir, Jorge Rabadilla, to deliver such amount of sugar to plaintiff-appellant;
defendants-appellee's admitted non-compliance with said obligation since 1985;
and, the punitive consequences enjoined by both the codicil and the Civil Code,
of seizure of Lot No. 1392 and its reversion to the estate of Aleja Belleza in case
of such non-compliance, this Court deems it proper to order the reconveyance of
title over Lot No. 1392 from the estates of Jorge Rabadilla to the estate of Aleja
Belleza. However, plaintiff-appellant must institute separate proceedings to reopen Aleja Belleza's estate, secure the appointment of an administrator, and
distribute Lot No. 1392 to Aleja Belleza's legal heirs in order to enforce her right,
reserved to her by the codicil, to receive her legacy of 100 piculs of sugar per
year out of the produce of Lot No. 1392 until she dies.
Accordingly, the decision appealed from is SET ASIDE and another one entered
ordering defendants-appellees, as heirs of Jorge Rabadilla, to reconvey title over
Lot No. 1392, together with its fruits and interests, to the estate of Aleja Belleza.
SO ORDERED."7
Dissatisfied with the aforesaid disposition by the Court of Appeals, petitioner
found his way to this Court via the present petition, contending that the Court of
Appeals erred in ordering the reversion of Lot 1392 to the estate of the testatrix
Aleja Belleza on the basis of paragraph 6 of the Codicil, and in ruling that the
testamentary institution of Dr. Jorge Rabadilla is a modal institution within the
purview of Article 882 of the New Civil Code.
The petition is not impressed with merit.
Petitioner contends that the Court of Appeals erred in resolving the appeal in
accordance with Article 882 of the New Civil Code on modal institutions and in
deviating from the sole issue raised which is the absence or prematurity of the
cause of action. Petitioner maintains that Article 882 does not find application as
there was no modal institution and the testatrix intended a mere simple
substitution - i.e. the instituted heir, Dr. Jorge Rabadilla, was to be substituted by
the testatrix's "near descendants" should the obligation to deliver the fruits to
herein private respondent be not complied with. And since the testatrix died
single and without issue, there can be no valid substitution and such
testamentary provision cannot be given any effect.
The petitioner theorizes further that there can be no valid substitution for the
reason that the substituted heirs are not definite, as the substituted heirs are
merely referred to as "near descendants" without a definite identity or reference
as to who are the "near descendants" and therefore, under Articles 8438 and
8459 of the New Civil Code, the substitution should be deemed as not written.
The contentions of petitioner are untenable. Contrary to his supposition that the
Court of Appeals deviated from the issue posed before it, which was the propriety
of the dismissal of the complaint on the ground of prematurity of cause of action,
there was no such deviation. The Court of Appeals found that the private
respondent had a cause of action against the petitioner. The disquisition made
on modal institution was, precisely, to stress that the private respondent had a
legally demandable right against the petitioner pursuant to subject Codicil; on
which issue the Court of Appeals ruled in accordance with law.

SUCCESION: SEANGIO TO RABADILLA 34

It is a general rule under the law on succession that successional rights are
transmitted from the moment of death of the decedent10 and compulsory heirs
are called to succeed by operation of law. The legitimate children and
descendants, in relation to their legitimate parents, and the widow or widower,
are compulsory heirs.11 Thus, the petitioner, his mother and sisters, as
compulsory heirs of the instituted heir, Dr. Jorge Rabadilla, succeeded the latter
by operation of law, without need of further proceedings, and the successional
rights were transmitted to them from the moment of death of the decedent, Dr.
Jorge Rabadilla.
Under Article 776 of the New Civil Code, inheritance includes all the property,
rights and obligations of a person, not extinguished by his death. Conformably,
whatever rights Dr. Jorge Rabadilla had by virtue of subject Codicil were
transmitted to his forced heirs, at the time of his death. And since obligations not
extinguished by death also form part of the estate of the decedent; corollarily, the
obligations imposed by the Codicil on the deceased Dr. Jorge Rabadilla, were
likewise transmitted to his compulsory heirs upon his death.
In the said Codicil, testatrix Aleja Belleza devised Lot No. 1392 to Dr. Jorge
Rabadilla, subject to the condition that the usufruct thereof would be delivered to
the herein private respondent every year. Upon the death of Dr. Jorge Rabadilla,
his compulsory heirs succeeded to his rights and title over the said property, and
they also assumed his (decedent's) obligation to deliver the fruits of the lot
involved to herein private respondent. Such obligation of the instituted heir
reciprocally corresponds to the right of private respondent over the usufruct, the
fulfillment or performance of which is now being demanded by the latter through
the institution of the case at bar. Therefore, private respondent has a cause of
action against petitioner and the trial court erred in dismissing the complaint
below.
Petitioner also theorizes that Article 882 of the New Civil Code on modal
institutions is not applicable because what the testatrix intended was a
substitution - Dr. Jorge Rabadilla was to be substituted by the testatrix's near
descendants should there be noncompliance with the obligation to deliver the
piculs of sugar to private respondent.
Again, the contention is without merit.
Substitution is the designation by the testator of a person or persons to take the
place of the heir or heirs first instituted. Under substitutions in general, the
testator may either (1) provide for the designation of another heir to whom the
property shall pass in case the original heir should die before him/her, renounce
the inheritance or be incapacitated to inherit, as in a simple substitution,12 or (2)
leave his/her property to one person with the express charge that it be
transmitted subsequently to another or others, as in a fideicommissary
substitution.13 The Codicil sued upon contemplates neither of the two.
In simple substitutions, the second heir takes the inheritance in default of the first
heir by reason of incapacity, predecease or renunciation.14 In the case under
consideration, the provisions of subject Codicil do not provide that should Dr.
Jorge Rabadilla default due to predecease, incapacity or renunciation, the
testatrix's near descendants would substitute him. What the Codicil provides is
that, should Dr. Jorge Rabadilla or his heirs not fulfill the conditions imposed in

the Codicil, the property referred to shall be seized and turned over to the
testatrix's near descendants.
Neither is there a fideicommissary substitution here and on this point, petitioner is
correct. In a fideicommissary substitution, the first heir is strictly mandated to
preserve the property and to transmit the same later to the second heir.15 In the
case under consideration, the instituted heir is in fact allowed under the Codicil to
alienate the property provided the negotiation is with the near descendants or the
sister of the testatrix. Thus, a very important element of a fideicommissary
substitution is lacking; the obligation clearly imposing upon the first heir the
preservation of the property and its transmission to the second heir. "Without this
obligation to preserve clearly imposed by the testator in his will, there is no
fideicommissary substitution."16 Also, the near descendants' right to inherit from
the testatrix is not definite. The property will only pass to them should Dr. Jorge
Rabadilla or his heirs not fulfill the obligation to deliver part of the usufruct to
private respondent.
Another important element of a fideicommissary substitution is also missing here.
Under Article 863, the second heir or the fideicommissary to whom the property
is transmitted must not be beyond one degree from the first heir or the fiduciary.
A fideicommissary substitution is therefore, void if the first heir is not related by
first degree to the second heir.17 In the case under scrutiny, the near
descendants are not at all related to the instituted heir, Dr. Jorge Rabadilla.
The Court of Appeals erred not in ruling that the institution of Dr. Jorge Rabadilla
under subject Codicil is in the nature of a modal institution and therefore, Article
882 of the New Civil Code is the provision of law in point. Articles 882 and 883 of
the New Civil Code provide:
Art. 882. The statement of the object of the institution or the application of the
property left by the testator, or the charge imposed on him, shall not be
considered as a condition unless it appears that such was his intention.
That which has been left in this manner may be claimed at once provided that the
instituted heir or his heirs give security for compliance with the wishes of the
testator and for the return of anything he or they may receive, together with its
fruits and interests, if he or they should disregard this obligation.
Art. 883. When without the fault of the heir, an institution referred to in the
preceding article cannot take effect in the exact manner stated by the testator, it
shall be complied with in a manner most analogous to and in conformity with his
wishes.
The institution of an heir in the manner prescribed in Article 882 is what is known
in the law of succession as aninstitucion sub modo or a modal institution. In a
modal institution, the testator states (1) the object of the institution, (2) the
purpose or application of the property left by the testator, or (3) the charge
imposed by the testator upon the heir.18 A "mode" imposes an obligation upon
the heir or legatee but it does not affect the efficacy of his rights to the
succession.19 On the other hand, in a conditional testamentary disposition, the
condition must happen or be fulfilled in order for the heir to be entitled to succeed
the testator. The condition suspends but does not obligate; and the mode
obligates but does not suspend.20 To some extent, it is similar to a resolutory
condition.21

SUCCESION: SEANGIO TO RABADILLA 35

From the provisions of the Codicil litigated upon, it can be gleaned unerringly that
the testatrix intended that subject property be inherited by Dr. Jorge Rabadilla. It
is likewise clearly worded that the testatrix imposed an obligation on the said
instituted heir and his successors-in-interest to deliver one hundred piculs of
sugar to the herein private respondent, Marlena Coscolluela Belleza, during the
lifetime of the latter. However, the testatrix did not make Dr. Jorge Rabadilla's
inheritance and the effectivity of his institution as a devisee, dependent on the
performance of the said obligation. It is clear, though, that should the obligation
be not complied with, the property shall be turned over to the testatrix's near
descendants. The manner of institution of Dr. Jorge Rabadilla under subject
Codicil is evidently modal in nature because it imposes a charge upon the
instituted heir without, however, affecting the efficacy of such institution.
Then too, since testamentary dispositions are generally acts of liberality, an
obligation imposed upon the heir should not be considered a condition unless it
clearly appears from the Will itself that such was the intention of the testator. In
case of doubt, the institution should be considered as modal and not
conditional.22
Neither is there tenability in the other contention of petitioner that the private
respondent has only a right of usufruct but not the right to seize the property itself
from the instituted heir because the right to seize was expressly limited to
violations by the buyer, lessee or mortgagee.
In the interpretation of Wills, when an uncertainty arises on the face of the Will,
as to the application of any of its provisions, the testator's intention is to be
ascertained from the words of the Will, taking into consideration the
circumstances under which it was made.23 Such construction as will sustain and
uphold the Will in all its parts must be adopted.24
Subject Codicil provides that the instituted heir is under obligation to deliver One
Hundred (100) piculs of sugar yearly to Marlena Belleza Coscuella. Such
obligation is imposed on the instituted heir, Dr. Jorge Rabadilla, his heirs, and
their buyer, lessee, or mortgagee should they sell, lease, mortgage or otherwise
negotiate the property involved. The Codicil further provides that in the event that
the obligation to deliver the sugar is not respected, Marlena Belleza Coscuella
shall seize the property and turn it over to the testatrix's near descendants. The
non-performance of the said obligation is thus with the sanction of seizure of the
property and reversion thereof to the testatrix's near descendants. Since the said
obligation is clearly imposed by the testatrix, not only on the instituted heir but
also on his successors-in-interest, the sanction imposed by the testatrix in case
of non-fulfillment of said obligation should equally apply to the instituted heir and
his successors-in-interest.
Similarly unsustainable is petitioner's submission that by virtue of the amicable
settlement, the said obligation imposed by the Codicil has been assumed by the
lessee, and whatever obligation petitioner had become the obligation of the
lessee; that petitioner is deemed to have made a substantial and constructive
compliance of his obligation through the consummated settlement between the
lessee and the private respondent, and having consummated a settlement with
the petitioner, the recourse of the private respondent is the fulfillment of the
obligation under the amicable settlement and not the seizure of subject property.

Suffice it to state that a Will is a personal, solemn, revocable and free act by
which a person disposes of his property, to take effect after his death. 25 Since the
Will expresses the manner in which a person intends how his properties be
disposed, the wishes and desires of the testator must be strictly followed. Thus, a
Will cannot be the subject of a compromise agreement which would thereby
defeat the very purpose of making a Will.
WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DISMISSED and the decision of the Court
of Appeals, dated December 23, 1993, in CA-G.R. No. CV-35555 AFFIRMED.
No pronouncement as to costs
SO ORDERED.

SUCCESION: SEANGIO TO RABADILLA 36