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G.R. No. 123486
August 12, 1999

The deceased Matilde Seno Vda de Ramonal executed a holographic will on August 30,
1978. Herein respondents Eugenia Calugay, Josephine Salcedo and Eufemia Patigas are
devisees and legatees of the holographic will of the deceased. They filed with the RTC of
Misamis a petition for probate of the holographic will of Matilde who died on 16 January 1990.
Petitioners Eugenia Codoy and Manuel Ramonal filed an opposition to the probate stating that
the holographic will was a forgery and the same was illegible. Respondents however contend
that the deceased was of sound and disposing mind when she executed the will and that no
fraud or undue influence and duress happened and that the will was written voluntarily. They
presented six witnesses with various documentary evidence. Petitioners on their part filed a
demurrer to evidence claiming that respondents failed to establish sufficient factual and legal
basis for the probate of the holographic will of the deceased Matilde Seo Vda. de Ramonal. All
the 6 witnesses that respondents presented expressed familiarity with the deceaseds signature.
But there was no mention of the fact that there were witnesses at the time Matilde executed the
will. The lower court denied the probate. On appeal, respondents again reiterated the testimony
of the witnesses Augusto, Generosa, Matilde Binanay, Teresita, Fiscal Waga, and Evangeline.
The CA sustained the authenticity of the holographic will and allowed the probate. Hence this

Whether or not the provisions of Article 811 of the Civil Code are permissive or

The Court ruled that it is mandatory. The article provides, as a requirement for the
probate of a contested holographic will, that at least three witnesses explicitly declare that the
signature in the will is the genuine signature of the testator. The word shall connotes a
mandatory order. We have ruled that shall in a statute commonly denotes an imperative
obligation and is inconsistent with the idea of discretion and that the presumption is that the
word shall, when used in a statute is mandatory. Fiscal Waga one of the witnesses expressed
doubts as to the signature of the deceased. Evangeline, on her part, testified that as to why she
was familiar with the handwriting of the deceased was because she lived with her since
birth. She never declared that she saw the deceased write a note or sign a document. In
Matildes testimony, she saw pre-prepared receipts and letters of the deceased, which she
either mailed or gave to her tenants. She did not declare that she saw the deceased sign a
document or write a note. Furthermore, in her testimony it was also evident that Ms. Binanay
kept the fact about the will from petitioners, the legally adopted children of the deceased. The
will was also not found in the possession of the deceased when she died. Such actions put in
issue her motive of keeping the will a secret to petitioners and revealing it only after the death of
Matilde Seo Vda. de Ramonal. Comparing the signature in the holographic will dated August
30, 1978 and the signatures in several documents such as the application letter for pasture
permit dated December 30, 1980 and a letter dated June 16, 1978 the strokes are different. In
the letters, there are continuous flows of the strokes, evidencing that there is no hesitation in
writing unlike that of the holographic will. It, therefore, cannot be ascertained that the
holographic will was in the handwriting by the deceased.