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EN BANC

G.R. No. L-13431

guaranty the authenticity of the sheet but, if repeated on the margin, give sufficient
security.

November 12, 1919

In re will of Ana Abangan.


GERTRUDIS ABANGAN, executrix-appellee,
vs.
ANASTACIA ABANGAN, ET AL., opponents-appellants.
Filemon Sotto for appellants.
M. Jesus Cuenco for appellee.

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

In requiring that each and every page of a will must be numbered correlatively in
letters placed on the upper part of the sheet, it is likewise clear that the object of Act
No. 2645 is to know whether any sheet of the will has been removed. But, when all
the dispositive parts of a will are written on one sheet only, the object of the statute
disappears because the removal of this single sheet, although unnumbered, cannot
be hidden.
What has been said is also applicable to the attestation clause. Wherefore, without
considering whether or not this clause is an essential part of the will, we hold that in
the one accompanying the will in question, the signatures of the testatrix and of the
three witnesses on the margin and the numbering of the pages of the sheet are
formalities not required by the statute. Moreover, referring specially to the signature
of the testatrix, we can add that same is not necessary in the attestation clause
because this, as its name implies, appertains only to the witnesses and not to the
testator since the latter does not attest, but executes, the will.
Synthesizing our opinion, we hold that in a will consisting of two sheets the first of
which contains all the testamentary dispositions and is signed at the bottom by the
testator and three witnesses and the second contains only the attestation clause and
is signed also at the bottom by the three witnesses, it is not necessary that both
sheets be further signed on their margins by the testator and the witnesses, or be
paged.
The object of the solemnities surrounding the execution of wills is to close the door
against bad faith and fraud, to avoid substitution of wills and testaments and to
guaranty their truth and authenticity. Therefore the laws on this subject should be
interpreted in such a way as to attain these primordal ends. But, on the other hand,
also one must not lose sight of the fact that it is not the object of the law to restrain
and curtail the exercise of the right to make a will. So when an interpretation already
given assures such ends, any other interpretation whatsoever, that adds nothing but
demands more requisites entirely unnecessary, useless and frustative of the
testator's last will, must be disregarded. lawphil.net
As another ground for this appeal, it is alleged the records do not show that the
testarix knew the dialect in which the will is written. But the circumstance appearing
in the will itself that same was executed in the city of Cebu and in the dialect of this
locality where the testatrix was a neighbor is enough, in the absence of any proof to
the contrary, to presume that she knew this dialect in which this will is written.
For the foregoing considerations, the judgment appealed from is hereby affirmed with
costs against the appellants. So ordered.

EN BANC
G.R. No. L-5149
March 22, 1910
GREGORIO MACAPINLAC, petitioner-appellee,
vs.
MARIANO ALIMURONG, opponent-appellant.
Carlos Ledesma and Mariano Lim, for appellant.
Hartigan and Rohde and Roman Lacson, for appellee.
ARELLANO, C. J.:
Simplicia de los Santos having died on June 19, 1907, her surviving husband,
Gregorio Macapinlac, submitted her will to the Court of First Instance of Pampanga
for probate. Macario Alimurong, a nephew of the deceased, opposed the
proceedings and requested that "the will of the deceased, Doa Simplicia de los
Santos, be declared null and void for either of the two reasons" which he expresses,
and which are:
(1) Because the will was not executed and signed by the witnesses in accordance
with the provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure now in force.
(2) Because it was executed under duress and undue and illegal influence on the
part of the persons benefited thereby or of a person acting in their interests.
The trial having been held and evidence adduced, the trial court declared the
following facts to be proven:
(1) That at 6 o' clock on the evening of June 17, 1907, Simplicia de los Santos, who
was sick but in full possession of all her faculties, executed her will, which is the
document attached to the record, Exhibit No. 1 of the petitioner.
(2) That after the execution of such will on Monday, the testatrix died early on the
morning of the following Wednesday.
(3) That, as a preliminary act, a rough copy of the said will was made up, which
rough copy was read to the testatrix, and the latter ordered an additional clause to be
added thereto, in connection with a legacy that she desired to make in favor of some
of her old servants who and rendered good service.
(4) That, after the rough copy was amended by the addition of the above-mentioned
clause, a clear copy thereof was made up and was again read to the testatrix, who
approved it in all of its parts, and as she was unable to sign, she requested Amando
de Ocampo to sign for her and the latter wrote the following words with his own
hand. "At the request of the testatrix D.a Simplicia de los Santos, I signed Amando
de Ocampo." Immediately afterwards and also in the presence of the same testatrux
and of each other, the witnesses Jose Juico, Gabino Panopio, Eusebio dayao, Juan
Angeles, Jose Torres, Alejo San Pedro, and Gregorio Sangil signed at the bottom of
the will.

In view of the said factsthe lower court concludesthe will executed by Simplicia
de los Santos must be admitted to probate. The provisions of section 618 of the
Code of Procedure in Civil Actions and Special Proceedings are fully complied with.
The will bears the name of the testatrix written by Amando de Ocampo in her
presence and by her express direction, and has been witnessed and signed by more
than three trustworthy witnesses, in the presence of the testatrix and of each other.
The judgment was as follows:
It is ordered that exhibit No. 1, duly translated, be probated as the last will of
Simplicia de los Santos and that the corresponding letters of administration be
issued in favor of Gregorio Macapinlac, the surviving husband of the said Simplicia
de los Santos, the protest of the adverse party being dismissed, with the costs.
The opponent appealed, and the appeal having been submitted to this court,
together with the allegations of both parties, it appears that the appellant has alleged
the following assignments of error:
1 That the proceedings were not dismissed, because the witnesses for the petitioner
did not sign their respective testimony.
2 That it was declared that the will of the deceased Simplicia de los Santos was
executed with a legal formalities.
3 That it was not declared that the will of the deceased Simplicia de los Santos was
executed under undue and illegal influence on the part of the persons benefited
thereby or of a person acting in their interests.
With reference to the first assignment of error, inasmuch as no question was raised
in the first instance in the form of a motion and denied by the court below and
exception taken and brought up on appeal, there is no ground on which we may take
into consideration such assignment and decide a matter not covered by the appeal
and with reference to which a decision by this court is not properly sought.
In regard to the second assignment, in view of the facts set forth and of the findings
made by the trial court, according to the preponderance of the evidence, it can not be
rationally shown that the conclusion should have been otherwise, nor does it appear
that the conclusion infringes any statute or legal doctrine for the enforcement of
which this court should review the evidence.
But, besides the question of fact, the appellant submit another question of law, viz,
whether or not the will was signed in accordance with the law, and he affirms that it
was not, inasmuch as the law requires that when a person signs in place of the
testator he should write the name of the latter in the will as the signature; this was
not done by Amando de Ocampo in the will in question, as he did not sign it with the
name of testatrix.

It is shown by the evidence that the will was wholly written in the handwriting of the
subscribing witness, Gregorio Sangil, and at the foot thereof the following words
appear in a new paragraph and sufficiently apart:

The judgment appealed from is hereby affirmed, with the costs of this instance
against the appellant. So ordered.
Torres, Johnson, Carson and Moreland, JJ., concur.

At the request of the testatrix, Da. Simplicia de los Santos, I signed.


For Simplicia de los Santos.

Amando de Ocampo.

As a question of fact, the authenticity of the words "For Simplicia de los Santos,"
prefixed to the signature, is impugned as not having been written at the time of the
execution of the will.
And, as a question of law, it is claimed that the form of signing for the testatrix "At the
request of the testatrix Da. Simplicio de los Santos, I signed: Amando de Ocampo,"
is not in accordance with the requirements of the law.
Regarding the first question, the trial court concluded that "the posterior insertion of
the words 'For Simplicia de los Santos' can not affect the validity of the will."
Therefore, it can be considered as nonexistent, and the other as the only fore of
signature by the testatrix, the authenticity of which has not been impugned or which
the trial court admits as conclusive, and is only one taken into account in its findings
of fact. Although the said words "For Simplicia de los Santos" be considered as
inserted subsequently, which we neither affirm nor deny, because a specific
determination either way is unnecessary, in our opinion the signature for the testatrix
as if she signed the will, and also the signature of the witness who, at her request,
wrote the name of the testatrix and signed for her, affirming the truth of this fact,
attested by the other witnesses then present. And this fully complies with the
provisions of section 618 of the Act.
With reference to the third assignment of error, the court below found:
. . . and the influence which, according to the adverse party, was exercised upon the
testatrix by Father Lupo is not shown. While the rough copy of the will was being
made, Father Lupo simply discussed with those who were making the rough draft the
question of the more appropriate use of some phrases inPampango. It is true that he
went in and out of the room of the testatrix several times, and that from time to time
he showed a relic to her, but there is no evidence to indicate that Father Lupo
influenced the testatrix directly and caused her to be influenced in any way.
Against this finding of fact, based upon the preponderance of the evidence as
weighed by the trial court, we find no reason or ground for deciding this question of
fact in any other way. We find no data showing that the person above mentioned
directly influenced the provisions of the will; that such is the illegal and improper
influence which the law condemns as overcoming that freedom by which the last will
of a man must be expressed.

EN BANC
G.R. No. L-4067
November 29, 1951
In the Matter of the will of ANTERO MERCADO, deceased.
ROSARIO GARCIA, petitioner,
vs.
JULIANA LACUESTA, ET AL., respondents.
Elviro L. Peralta and Hermenegildo A. Prieto for petitioner.
Faustino B. Tobia, Juan I. Ines and Federico Tacason for
respondents.
PARAS, C.J.:
This is an appeal from a decision of the Court of Appeals disallowing the will of
Antero Mercado dated January 3, 1943. The will is written in the Ilocano dialect and
contains the following attestation clause:
We, the undersigned, by these presents to declare that the foregoing testament of
Antero Mercado was signed by himself and also by us below his name and of this
attestation clause and that of the left margin of the three pages thereof. Page three
the continuation of this attestation clause; this will is written in Ilocano dialect which is
spoken and understood by the testator, and it bears the corresponding number in
letter which compose of three pages and all them were signed in the presence of the
testator and witnesses, and the witnesses in the presence of the testator and all and
each and every one of us witnesses.
In testimony, whereof, we sign this statement, this the third day of January, one
thousand nine hundred forty three, (1943) A.D.

signed the will in all the pages thereon in the presence of the testator and of each
other.
In our opinion, the attestation clause is fatally defective for failing to state that Antero
Mercado caused Atty. Florentino Javier to write the testator's name under his express
direction, as required by section 618 of the Code of Civil Procedure. The herein
petitioner (who is appealing by way of certiorari from the decision of the Court of
Appeals) argues, however, that there is no need for such recital because the cross
written by the testator after his name is a sufficient signature and the signature of
Atty. Florentino Javier is a surplusage. Petitioner's theory is that the cross is as much
a signature as a thumbmark, the latter having been held sufficient by this Court in the
cases of De Gala vs. Gonzales and Ona, 53 Phil., 104; Dolar vs. Diancin, 55 Phil.,
479; Payad vs. Tolentino, 62 Phil., 848; Neyra vs. Neyra, 76 Phil., 296 and
Lopez vs. Liboro, 81 Phil., 429.
It is not here pretended that the cross appearing on the will is the usual signature of
Antero Mercado or even one of the ways by which he signed his name. After mature
reflection, we are not prepared to liken the mere sign of the cross to a thumbmark,
and the reason is obvious. The cross cannot and does not have the trustworthiness
of a thumbmark.
What has been said makes it unnecessary for us to determine there is a sufficient
recital in the attestation clause as to the signing of the will by the testator in the
presence of the witnesses, and by the latter in the presence of the testator and of
each other.
Wherefore, the appealed decision is hereby affirmed, with against the petitioner. So
ordered.

(Sgd.) NUMERIANO EVANGELISTA

(Sgd.) "ROSENDA CORTES

(Sgd.) BIBIANA ILLEGIBLE

The will appears to have been signed by Atty. Florentino Javier who wrote the name
of Antero Mercado, followed below by "A reugo del testator" and the name of
Florentino Javier. Antero Mercado is alleged to have written a cross immediately
after his name. The Court of Appeals, reversing the judgement of the Court of First
Instance of Ilocos Norte, ruled that the attestation clause failed (1) to certify that the
will was signed on all the left margins of the three pages and at the end of the will by
Atty. Florentino Javier at the express request of the testator in the presence of the
testator and each and every one of the witnesses; (2) to certify that after the signing
of the name of the testator by Atty. Javier at the former's request said testator has
written a cross at the end of his name and on the left margin of the three pages of
which the will consists and at the end thereof; (3) to certify that the three witnesses

Feria, Pablo, Bengzon, Padilla, Reyes, Jugo and Bautista Angelo, JJ., concur.

incident were taken and presented during trial. Manalo further testified that she was
the one who prepared the drafts and revisions from Enrique before the final copy of
the will was made.

SECOND DIVISION
G.R. No. 189984
November 12, 2012
IN THE MATTER OF THE PETITION FOR THE PROBATE OF THE
LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT OF ENRIQUE S. LOPEZ RICHARD
B. LOPEZ, Petitioner,
vs.
DIANA JEANNE LOPEZ, MARYBETH DE LEON and VICTORIA L.
TUAZON, Respondents.
RESOLUTION
PERLAS-BERNABE, J.:
This Petition for Review on Certiorari assails the March 30, 2009 Decision1 and
October 22, 2009 Resolution2 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CV No.
87064 which affirmed the August 26, 2005 Decision3 of the Regional Trial Court of
Manila, Branch 42 (RTC), in SP. Proc. No. 99-95225 disallowing the probate of the
Last Will and Testament of Enrique S. Lopez.
The Factual Antecedents
On June 21, 1999, Enrique S. Lopez (Enrique) died leaving his wife, Wendy B.
Lopez, and their four legitimate children, namely, petitioner Richard B. Lopez
(Richard) and the respondents Diana Jeanne Lopez (Diana), Marybeth de Leon
(Marybeth) and Victoria L. Tuazon (Victoria) as compulsory heirs. Before Enriques
death, he executed a Last Will and Testament4 on August 10, 1996 and constituted
Richard as his executor and administrator.
On September 27, 1999, Richard filed a petition for the probate of his father's Last
Will and Testament before the RTC of Manila with prayer for the issuance of letters
testamentary in his favor. Marybeth opposed the petition contending that the
purported last will and testament was not executed and attested as required by law,
and that it was procured by undue and improper pressure and influence on the part
of Richard. The said opposition was also adopted by Victoria.
After submitting proofs of compliance with jurisdictional requirements, Richard
presented the attesting witnesses, namely: Reynaldo Maneja; Romulo Monteiro; Ana
Maria Lourdes Manalo (Manalo); and the notary public who notarized the will, Atty.
Perfecto Nolasco (Atty. Nolasco). The instrumental witnesses testified that after the
late Enrique read and signed the will on each and every page, they also read and
signed the same in the latter's presence and of one another. Photographs of the

Likewise, Atty. Nolasco claimed that Enrique had been his client for more than 20
years. Prior to August 10, 1996, the latter consulted him in the preparation of the
subject will and furnished him the list of his properties for distribution among his
children. He prepared the will in accordance with Enrique's instruction and that
before the latter and the attesting witnesses signed it in the presence of one another,
he translated the will which was written in English to Filipino and added that Enrique
was in good health and of sound mind at that time.
On the other hand, the oppositors presented its lone witness, Gregorio B. Paraon
(Paraon), Officer-in-Charge of the Notarial Section, Office of the Clerk of Court, RTC,
Manila. His testimony centered mainly on their findings that Atty. Nolasco was not a
notary public for the City of Manila in 1996, which on cross examination was clarified
after Paraon discovered that Atty. Nolasco was commissioned as such for the years
1994 to 1997.
Ruling of the RTC
In the Decision dated August 26, 2005,5 the RTC disallowed the probate of the will
for failure to comply with Article 805 of the Civil Code which requires a statement in
the attestation clause of the number of pages used upon which the will is written. It
held that while Article 809 of the same Code requires mere substantial compliance of
the form laid down in Article 805 thereof, the rule only applies if the number of pages
is reflected somewhere else in the will with no evidence aliunde or extrinsic evidence
required. While the acknowledgment portion stated that the will consists of 7 pages
including the page on which the ratification and acknowledgment are written, the
RTC observed that it has 8 pages including the acknowledgment portion. As such, it
disallowed the will for not having been executed and attested in accordance with law.
Aggrieved, Richard filed a Notice of Appeal which the RTC granted in the Order
dated October 26, 2005.6
Ruling of the Court of Appeals

On March 30, 2009,7 the CA issued the assailed decision dismissing the appeal. It
held that the RTC erroneously granted Richard's appeal as the Rules of Court is
explicit that appeals in special proceedings, as in this case, must be made through a
record on appeal. Nevertheless, even on the merits, the CA found no valid reason to
deviate from the findings of the RTC that the failure to state the number of pages of
the will in the attestation clause was fatal. It noted that while Article 809 of the Civil
Code sanctions mere substantial compliance with the formal requirements set forth
in Article 805 thereof, there was a total omission of such fact in the attestation
clause. Moreover, while the acknowledgment of the will made mention of "7 pages
including the page on which the ratification and acknowledgment are written," the will
had actually 8 pages including the acknowledgment portion thus, necessitating the
presentation of evidence aliunde to explain the discrepancy. Richard's motion for
reconsideration from the decision was likewise denied in the second assailed
Resolution8 dated October 22, 2009.

The law is clear that the attestation must state the number of pages used upon which
the will is written. The purpose of the law is to safeguard against possible
interpolation or omission of one or some of its pages and prevent any increase or
decrease in the pages.9

Hence, the instant petition assailing the propriety of the CA's decision.

The provisions of the Civil Code on Forms of Wills, particularly, Articles 805 and 809
of the Civil Code provide:

x x x The rule must be limited to disregarding those defects that can be supplied by
an examination of the will itself: whether all the pages are consecutively numbered;
whether the signatures appear in each and every page; whether the subscribing
witnesses are three or the will was notarized. All these are facts that the will itself can
reveal, and defects or even omissions concerning them in the attestation clause can
be safely disregarded. But the total number of pages, and whether all persons
required to sign did so in the presence of each other must substantially appear in the
attestation clause, being the only check against perjury in the probate
proceedings.12(Emphasis supplied)

ART. 805. Every will, other than a holographic will, must be subscribed at the end
thereof by the testator himself or by the testator's name written by some other person
in his presence, and by his express direction, and attested and subscribed by three
or more credible witnesses in the presence of the testator and of one another.

Hence, the CA properly sustained the disallowance of the will. Moreover, it correctly
ruled that Richard pursued the wrong mode of appeal as Section 2(a), Rule 41 of the
Rules of Court explicitly provides that in special proceedings, as in this case, the
appeal shall be made by record on appeal.

The testator or the person requested by him to write his name and the instrumental
witnesses of the will, shall also sign, as aforesaid, each and every page thereof,
except the last, on the left margin, and all the pages shall be numbered correlatively
in letters placed on the upper part of each page.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is DENIED.

Ruling of the Court


The petition lacks merit.

The attestation shall state the number of pages used upon which the will is written,
and the fact that the testator signed the will and every page thereof, or caused some
other person to write his name, under his express direction, in the presence of the
instrumental witnesses, and that the latter witnessed and signed the will and all the
pages thereof in the presence of the testator and of one another.
If the attestation clause is in a language not known to the witnesses, it shall be
interpreted to them.1wphi1 (underscoring supplied)
ART. 809. In the absence of bad faith, forgery, or fraud, or undue and improper
pressure and influence, defects and imperfections in the form of attestation or in the
language used therein shall not render the will invalid if it is proved that the will was
in fact executed and attested in substantial compliance with all the requirements of
Article 805.

While Article 809 allows substantial compliance for defects in the form of the
attestation clause, Richard likewise failed in this respect. The statement in the
Acknowledgment portion of the subject last will and testament that it "consists of 7
pages including the page on which the ratification and acknowledgment are
written"10 cannot be deemed substantial compliance. The will actually consists of 8
pages including its acknowledgment which discrepancy cannot be explained by mere
examination of the will itself but through the presentation of evidence aliund.11 On
this score is the comment of Justice J.B.L. Reyes regarding the application of Article
809, to wit:

SO ORDERED.

notarial will executed with indifference to these two codal provisions opens itself to
nagging questions as to its legitimacy.
The case stems from a petition for probate filed on 10 April 1984 with the Regional
Trial Court (RTC) of Manila. The petition filed by petitioner Felix Azuela sought to
admit to probate the notarial will of Eugenia E. Igsolo, which was notarized on 10
June 1981. Petitioner is the son of the cousin of the decedent.
The will, consisting of two (2) pages and written in the vernacular Pilipino, read in full:
HULING HABILIN NI EUGENIA E. IGSOLO
SA NGALAN NG MAYKAPAL, AMEN:
AKO, si EUGENIA E. IGSOLO, nakatira sa 500 San Diego St., Sampaloc, Manila,
pitongput siyam (79) na gulang, nasa hustong pagi-isip, pag-unawa at memoria ay
nag-hahayag na ito na ang aking huling habilin at testamento, at binabali wala ko
lahat ang naunang ginawang habilin o testamento:
THIRD DIVISION
G.R. No. 122880
April 12, 2006
FELIX AZUELA, Petitioner,
vs.
COURT OF APPEALS, GERALDA AIDA CASTILLO substituted by
ERNESTO G. CASTILLO, Respondents.
DECISION
TINGA, J.:
The core of this petition is a highly defective notarial will, purportedly executed by
Eugenia E. Igsolo (decedent), who died on 16 December 1982 at the age of 80. In
refusing to give legal recognition to the due execution of this document, the Court is
provided the opportunity to assert a few important doctrinal rules in the execution of
notarial wills, all self-evident in view of Articles 805 and 806 of the Civil Code.
A will whose attestation clause does not contain the number of pages on which the
will is written is fatally defective. A will whose attestation clause is not signed by the
instrumental witnesses is fatally defective. And perhaps most importantly, a will which
does not contain an acknowledgment, but a mere jurat, is fatally defective. Any one
of these defects is sufficient to deny probate. A notarial will with all three defects is
just aching for judicial rejection.
There is a distinct and consequential reason the Civil Code provides a
comprehensive catalog of imperatives for the proper execution of a notarial will. Full
and faithful compliance with all the detailed requisites under Article 805 of the Code
leave little room for doubt as to the validity in the due execution of the notarial will.
Article 806 likewise imposes another safeguard to the validity of notarial wills that
they be acknowledged before a notary public by the testator and the witnesses. A

Una-Hinihiling ko na ako ay mailibing sa Sementerio del Norte, La Loma sang-ayong


sa kaugalian at patakaran ng simbahang katoliko at ang taga-pag-ingat (Executor)
ng habiling ito ay magtatayo ng bantayog upang silbing ala-ala sa akin ng aking
pamilya at kaibigan;
Pangalawa-Aking ipinagkakaloob at isinasalin ang lahat ng karapatan sa aking
pamangkin na si Felix Azuela, na siyang nag-alaga sa akin sa mahabang panahon,
yaong mga bahay na nakatirik sa lote numero 28, Block 24 at nakapangalan sa
Pechaten Korporasyon, ganoon din ibinibigay ko ang lahat ng karapatan sa bahay
na nakatirik sa inoopahan kong lote, numero 43, Block 24 na pag-aari ng Pechaten
Corporation. Ipinagkakaloob kong buong buo ang lahat ng karapatan sa bahay at
lupa na nasa 500 San Diego St., Lot 42, Block 24, Sampaloc, Manila kay Felix
Azuela at ang pagkakaloob kong ito ay walang pasubalit at kondiciones;
Pangatlo- Na ninunumbrahan ko si VART PAGUE na siyang nagpapatupad ng huling
habiling ito at kagustuhan ko rin na hindi na kailanman siyang mag-lagak ng
piyansiya.
Aking nilagdaan ang Huling Habilin na ito dito sa Maynila ika 10 ng Hunyo, 1981.
(Sgd.)
EUGENIA E. IGSOLO
(Tagapagmana)
PATUNAY NG MGA SAKSI
Ang kasulatang ito, na binubuo ng ____ dahon pati ang huling dahong ito, na
ipinahayag sa amin ni Eugenia E. Igsolo, tagapagmana na siya niyang Huling

Habilin, ngayon ika-10 ng Hunyo 1981, ay nilagdaan ng nasabing tagapagmana sa


ilalim ng kasulatang nabanggit at sa kaliwang panig ng lahat at bawat dahon, sa
harap ng lahat at bawat sa amin, at kami namang mga saksi ay lumagda sa harap
ng nasabing tagapagmana at sa harap ng lahat at bawat isa sa amin, sa ilalim ng
nasabing kasulatan at sa kaliwang panig ng lahat at bawat dahon ng kasulatan ito.
EUGENIA E. IGSOLO
address: 500 San Diego St.
Sampaloc, Manila Res. Cert. No. A-7717-37
Issued at Manila on March 10, 1981.
QUIRINO AGRAVA
address: 1228-Int. 3, Kahilum
Pandacan, Manila Res. Cert. No. A-458365
Issued at Manila on Jan. 21, 1981
LAMBERTO C. LEAO
address: Avenue 2, Blcok 7,
Lot 61, San Gabriel, G.MA., Cavite Res.
Cert. No. A-768277 issued at Carmona, Cavite on Feb. 7, 1981
JUANITO ESTRERA
address: City Court Compound,
City of Manila Res. Cert. No. A574829
Issued at Manila on March 2, 1981.
Nilagdaan ko at ninotario ko ngayong 10 ng Hunyo 10, 1981 dito sa Lungsod ng
Maynila.
(Sgd.)
PETRONIO Y. BAUTISTA
Doc. No. 1232 ; NOTARIO PUBLIKO
Page No. 86 ; Until Dec. 31, 1981
Book No. 43 ; PTR-152041-1/2/81-Manila
Series of 1981 TAN # 1437-977-81
The three named witnesses to the will affixed their signatures on the left-hand margin
of both pages of the will, but not at the bottom of the attestation clause.
The probate petition adverted to only two (2) heirs, legatees and devisees of the
decedent, namely: petitioner himself, and one Irene Lynn Igsolo, who was alleged to
have resided abroad. Petitioner prayed that the will be allowed, and that letters
testamentary be issued to the designated executor, Vart Prague.
The petition was opposed by Geralda Aida Castillo (Geralda Castillo), who
represented herself as the attorney-in-fact of "the 12 legitimate heirs" of the
decedent.2 Geralda Castillo claimed that the will is a forgery, and that the true

purpose of its emergence was so it could be utilized as a defense in several court


cases filed by oppositor against petitioner, particularly for forcible entry and
usurpation of real property, all centering on petitioners right to occupy the properties
of the decedent.3 It also asserted that contrary to the representations of petitioner,
the decedent was actually survived by 12 legitimate heirs, namely her grandchildren,
who were then residing abroad. Per records, it was subsequently alleged that
decedent was the widow of Bonifacio Igsolo, who died in 1965,4 and the mother of a
legitimate child, Asuncion E. Igsolo, who predeceased her mother by three (3)
months.5
Oppositor Geralda Castillo also argued that the will was not executed and attested to
in accordance with law. She pointed out that decedents signature did not appear on
the second page of the will, and the will was not properly acknowledged. These twin
arguments are among the central matters to this petition.
After due trial, the RTC admitted the will to probate, in an Order dated 10 August
1992.6 The RTC favorably took into account the testimony of the three (3) witnesses
to the will, Quirino Agrava, Lamberto Leano, and Juanito Estrada. The RTC also
called to fore "the modern tendency in respect to the formalities in the execution of a
will x x x with the end in view of giving the testator more freedom in expressing his
last wishes;"7 and from this perspective, rebutted oppositors arguments that the will
was not properly executed and attested to in accordance with law.
After a careful examination of the will and consideration of the testimonies of the
subscribing and attesting witnesses, and having in mind the modern tendency in
respect to the formalities in the execution of a will, i.e., the liberalization of the
interpretation of the law on the formal requirements of a will with the end in view of
giving the testator more freedom in expressing his last wishes, this Court is
persuaded to rule that the will in question is authentic and had been executed by the
testatrix in accordance with law.
On the issue of lack of acknowledgement, this Court has noted that at the end of the
will after the signature of the testatrix, the following statement is made under the subtitle, "Patunay Ng Mga Saksi":
"Ang kasulatang ito, na binubuo ng _____ dahon pati ang huling dahong ito, na
ipinahayag sa amin ni Eugenia N. Igsolo, tagapagmana na siya niyang Huling
Habilin, ngayong ika-10 ng Hunyo 1981, ay nilagdaan ng nasabing tagapagmana sa
ilalim ng kasulatang nabanggit at sa kaliwang panig ng lahat at bawat dahon, sa
harap ng lahat at bawat sa amin, at kami namang mga saksi ay lumagda sa harap
ng nasabing tagapagmana at sa harap ng lahat at bawat isa sa amin, sa ilalim ng
nasabing kasulatan at sa kaliwang panig ng lahat at bawat dahon ng kasulatan ito."
The aforequoted declaration comprises the attestation clause and the
acknowledgement and is considered by this Court as a substantial compliance with
the requirements of the law.
On the oppositors contention that the attestation clause was not signed by the
subscribing witnesses at the bottom thereof, this Court is of the view that the signing

by the subscribing witnesses on the left margin of the second page of the will
containing the attestation clause and acknowledgment, instead of at the bottom
thereof, substantially satisfies the purpose of identification and attestation of the will.
With regard to the oppositors argument that the will was not numbered correlatively
in letters placed on upper part of each page and that the attestation did not state the
number of pages thereof, it is worthy to note that the will is composed of only two
pages. The first page contains the entire text of the testamentary dispositions, and
the second page contains the last portion of the attestation clause and
acknowledgement. Such being so, the defects are not of a serious nature as to
invalidate the will. For the same reason, the failure of the testatrix to affix her
signature on the left margin of the second page, which contains only the last portion
of the attestation clause and acknowledgment is not a fatal defect.
As regards the oppositors assertion that the signature of the testatrix on the will is a
forgery, the testimonies of the three subscribing witnesses to the will are convincing
enough to establish the genuineness of the signature of the testatrix and the due
execution of the will.8
The Order was appealed to the Court of Appeals by Ernesto Castillo, who had
substituted his since deceased mother-in-law, Geralda Castillo. In a Decision dated
17 August 1995, the Court of Appeals reversed the trial court and ordered the
dismissal of the petition for probate.9 The Court of Appeals noted that the attestation
clause failed to state the number of pages used in the will, thus rendering the will
void and undeserving of probate.10
Hence, the present petition.
Petitioner argues that the requirement under Article 805 of the Civil Code that "the
number of pages used in a notarial will be stated in the attestation clause" is merely
directory, rather than mandatory, and thus susceptible to what he termed as "the
substantial compliance rule."11
The solution to this case calls for the application of Articles 805 and 806 of the Civil
Code, which we replicate in full.
Art. 805. Every will, other than a holographic will, must be subscribed at the end
thereof by the testator himself or by the testator's name written by some other person
in his presence, and by his express direction, and attested and subscribed by three
or more credible witnesses in the presence of the testator and of one another.
The testator or the person requested by him to write his name and the instrumental
witnesses of the will, shall also sign, as aforesaid, each and every page thereof,
except the last, on the left margin, and all the pages shall be numbered correlatively
in letters placed on the upper part of each page.
The attestation shall state the number of pages used upon which the will is written,
and the fact that the testator signed the will and every page thereof, or caused some
other person to write his name, under his express direction, in the presence of the

instrumental witnesses, and that the latter witnessed and signed the will and all the
pages thereof in the presence of the testator and of one another.
If the attestation clause is in a language not known to the witnesses, it shall be
interpreted to them.
Art. 806. Every will must be acknowledged before a notary public by the testator and
the witnesses. The notary public shall not be required to retain a copy of the will, or
file another with the office of the Clerk of Court.
The appellate court, in its Decision, considered only one defect, the failure of the
attestation clause to state the number of pages of the will. But an examination of the
will itself reveals several more deficiencies.
As admitted by petitioner himself, the attestation clause fails to state the number of
pages of the will.12 There was an incomplete attempt to comply with this requisite, a
space having been allotted for the insertion of the number of pages in the attestation
clause. Yet the blank was never filled in; hence, the requisite was left uncomplied
with.
The Court of Appeals pounced on this defect in reversing the trial court, citing in the
process Uy Coque v. Navas L. Sioca13 and In re: Will of Andrada.14 In Uy Coque,
the Court noted that among the defects of the will in question was the failure of the
attestation clause to state the number of pages contained in the will.15 In ruling that
the will could not be admitted to probate, the Court made the following consideration
which remains highly relevant to this day: "The purpose of requiring the number of
sheets to be stated in the attestation clause is obvious; the document might easily be
so prepared that the removal of a sheet would completely change the testamentary
dispositions of the will and in the absence of a statement of the total number of
sheets such removal might be effected by taking out the sheet and changing the
numbers at the top of the following sheets or pages. If, on the other hand, the total
number of sheets is stated in the attestation clause the falsification of the document
will involve the inserting of new pages and the forging of the signatures of the
testator and witnesses in the margin, a matter attended with much greater
difficulty."16
The case of In re Will of Andrada concerned a will the attestation clause of which
failed to state the number of sheets or pages used. This consideration alone was
sufficient for the Court to declare "unanim[ity] upon the point that the defect pointed
out in the attesting clause is fatal."17 It was further observed that "it cannot be
denied that the x x x requirement affords additional security against the danger that
the will may be tampered with; and as the Legislature has seen fit to prescribe this
requirement, it must be considered material."18

Against these cited cases, petitioner cites Singson v. Florentino19 and Taboada v.
Hon. Rosal,20 wherein the Court allowed probate to the wills concerned therein
despite the fact that the attestation clause did not state the number of pages of the
will. Yet the appellate court itself considered the import of these two cases, and made
the following distinction which petitioner is unable to rebut, and which we adopt with
approval:
Even a cursory examination of the Will (Exhibit "D"), will readily show that the
attestation does not state the number of pages used upon which the will is written.
Hence, the Will is void and undeserving of probate.
We are not impervious of the Decisions of the Supreme Court in "Manuel Singson
versus Emilia Florentino, et al., 92 Phil. 161 and Apolonio [Taboada] versus Hon.
Avelino Rosal, et al., 118 SCRA 195," to the effect that a will may still be valid even if
the attestation does not contain the number of pages used upon which the Will is
written. However, the Decisions of the Supreme Court are not applicable in the
aforementioned appeal at bench. This is so because, in the case of "Manuel Singson
versus Emilia Florentino, et al., supra," although the attestation in the subject Will did
not state the number of pages used in the will, however, the same was found in the
last part of the body of the Will:
"x x x
The law referred to is article 618 of the Code of Civil Procedure, as amended by Act
No. 2645, which requires that the attestation clause shall state the number of pages
or sheets upon which the will is written, which requirement has been held to be
mandatory as an effective safeguard against the possibility of interpolation or
omission of some of the pages of the will to the prejudice of the heirs to whom the
property is intended to be bequeathed (In re Will of Andrada, 42 Phil. 180; Uy Coque
vs. Navas L. Sioca, 43 Phil., 405; Gumban vs. Gorcho, 50 Phil. 30; Quinto vs.
Morata, 54 Phil. 481; Echevarria vs. Sarmiento, 66 Phil. 611). The ratio decidendi of
these cases seems to be that the attestation clause must contain a statement of the
number of sheets or pages composing the will and that if this is missing or is omitted,
it will have the effect of invalidating the will if the deficiency cannot be supplied, not
by evidence aliunde, but by a consideration or examination of the will itself. But here
the situation is different. While the attestation clause does not state the number of
sheets or pages upon which the will is written, however, the last part of the body of
the will contains a statement that it is composed of eight pages, which circumstance
in our opinion takes this case out of the rigid rule of construction and places it within
the realm of similar cases where a broad and more liberal view has been adopted to
prevent the will of the testator from being defeated by purely technical
considerations." (page 165-165, supra) (Underscoring supplied)
In "Apolonio Tabaoda versus Hon. Avelino Rosal, et al." supra, the notarial
acknowledgement in the Will states the number of pages used in the:
"x x x

We have examined the will in question and noticed that the attestation clause failed
to state the number of pages used in writing the will. This would have been a fatal
defect were it not for the fact that, in this case, it is discernible from the entire will that
it is really and actually composed of only two pages duly signed by the testatrix and
her instrumental witnesses. As earlier stated, the first page which contains the
entirety of the testamentary dispositions is signed by the testatrix at the end or at the
bottom while the instrumental witnesses signed at the left margin. The other page
which is marked as "Pagina dos" comprises the attestation clause and the
acknowledgment. The acknowledgment itself states that "this Last Will and
Testament consists of two pages including this page" (pages 200-201, supra)
(Underscoring supplied).
However, in the appeal at bench, the number of pages used in the will is not stated in
any part of the Will. The will does not even contain any notarial acknowledgment
wherein the number of pages of the will should be stated.21
Both Uy Coque and Andrada were decided prior to the enactment of the Civil Code
in 1950, at a time when the statutory provision governing the formal requirement of
wills was Section
618 of the Code of Civil Procedure.22 Reliance on these cases remains apropos,
considering that the requirement that the attestation state the number of pages of the
will is extant from Section 618.23 However, the enactment of the Civil Code in 1950
did put in force a rule of interpretation of the requirements of wills, at least insofar as
the attestation clause is concerned, that may vary from the philosophy that governed
these two cases. Article 809 of the Civil Code states: "In the absence of bad faith,
forgery, or fraud, or undue and improper pressure and influence, defects and
imperfections in the form of attestation or in the language used therein shall not
render the will invalid if it is proved that the will was in fact executed and attested in
substantial compliance with all the requirements of article 805."
In the same vein, petitioner cites the report of the Civil Code Commission, which
stated that "the underlying and fundamental objective permeating the provisions on
the [law] on [wills] in this project consists in the [liberalization] of the manner of their
execution with the end in view of giving the testator more [freedom] in [expressing]
his last wishes. This objective is in accord with the [modern tendency] in respect to
the formalities in the execution of wills."24 However, petitioner conveniently omits the
qualification offered by the Code Commission in the very same paragraph he cites
from their report, that such liberalization be "but with sufficient safeguards and
restrictions to prevent the commission of fraud and the exercise of undue and
improper pressure and influence upon the testator."25
Caneda v. Court of Appeals26 features an extensive discussion made by Justice
Regalado, speaking for the Court on the conflicting views on the manner of
interpretation of the legal formalities required in the execution of the attestation
clause in wills.27 Uy Coque and Andrada are cited therein, along with several other
cases, as examples of the application of the rule of strict construction.28 However,
the Code Commission opted to recommend a more liberal construction through the
"substantial compliance rule" under Article 809. A cautionary note was struck though
by Justice J.B.L. Reyes as to how Article 809 should be applied:

x x x The rule must be limited to disregarding those defects that can be supplied by
an examination of the will itself: whether all the pages are consecutively numbered;
whether the signatures appear in each and every page; whether the subscribing
witnesses are three or the will was notarized. All these are facts that the will itself can
reveal, and defects or even omissions concerning them in the attestation clause can
be safely disregarded. But the total number of pages, and whether all persons
required to sign did so in the presence of each other must substantially appear in the
attestation clause, being the only check against perjury in the probate
proceedings.29 (Emphasis supplied.)
The Court of Appeals did cite these comments by Justice J.B.L. Reyes in its assailed
decision, considering that the failure to state the number of pages of the will in the
attestation clause is one of the defects which cannot be simply disregarded.
In Caneda itself, the Court refused to allow the probate of a will whose attestation
clause failed to state that the witnesses subscribed their respective signatures to the
will in the presence of the testator and of each other,30 the other omission cited by
Justice J.B.L. Reyes which to his estimation cannot be lightly disregarded.
Caneda suggested: "[I]t may thus be stated that the rule, as it now stands, is that
omission which can be supplied by an examination of the will itself, without the need
of resorting to extrinsic evidence, will not be fatal and, correspondingly, would not
obstruct the allowance to probate of the will being assailed. However, those
omissions which cannot be supplied except by evidence aliunde would result in the
invalidation of the attestation clause and ultimately, of the will itself."31 Thus, a failure
by the attestation clause to state that the testator signed every page can be liberally
construed, since that fact can be checked by a visual examination; while a failure by
the attestation clause to state that the witnesses signed in one anothers presence
should be considered a fatal flaw since the attestation is the only textual guarantee of
compliance.32
The failure of the attestation clause to state the number of pages on which the will
was written remains a fatal flaw, despite Article 809. The purpose of the law in
requiring the clause to state the number of pages on which the will is written is to
safeguard against possible interpolation or omission of one or some of its pages and
to prevent any increase or decrease in the pages.33 The failure to state the number
of pages equates with the absence of an averment on the part of the instrumental
witnesses as to how many pages consisted the will, the execution of which they had
ostensibly just witnessed and subscribed to. Following Caneda, there is substantial
compliance with this requirement if the will states elsewhere in it how many pages it
is comprised of, as was the situation in Singson andTaboada. However, in this case,
there could have been no substantial compliance with the requirements under Article
805 since there is no statement in the attestation clause or anywhere in the will itself
as to the number of pages which comprise the will.
At the same time, Article 809 should not deviate from the need to comply with the
formal requirements as enumerated under Article 805. Whatever the inclinations of
the members of the Code Commission in incorporating Article 805, the fact remains
that they saw fit to prescribe substantially the same formal requisites as enumerated
in Section 618 of the Code of Civil Procedure, convinced that these remained
effective safeguards against the forgery or intercalation of notarial

wills.34 Compliance with these requirements, however picayune in impression,


affords the public a high degree of comfort that the testator himself or herself had
decided to convey property post mortem in the manner established in the will.35 The
transcendent legislative intent, even as expressed in the cited comments of the Code
Commission, is for the fruition of the testators incontestable desires, and not for the
indulgent admission of wills to probate.
The Court could thus end here and affirm the Court of Appeals. However, an
examination of the will itself reveals a couple of even more critical defects that should
necessarily lead to its rejection.
For one, the attestation clause was not signed by the instrumental witnesses. While
the signatures of the instrumental witnesses appear on the left-hand margin of the
will, they do not appear at the bottom of the attestation clause which after all consists
of their averments before the notary public.
Cagro v. Cagro36 is material on this point. As in this case, "the signatures of the
three witnesses to the will do not appear at the bottom of the attestation clause,
although the page containing the same is signed by the witnesses on the left-hand
margin."37 While three (3) Justices38 considered the signature requirement had
been substantially complied with, a majority of six (6), speaking through Chief Justice
Paras, ruled that the attestation clause had not been duly signed, rendering the will
fatally defective.
There is no question that the signatures of the three witnesses to the will do not
appear at the bottom of the attestation clause, although the page containing the
same is signed by the witnesses on the left-hand margin.
We are of the opinion that the position taken by the appellant is correct. The
attestation clause is "a memorandum of the facts attending the execution of the will"
required by law to be made by the attesting witnesses, and it must necessarily bear
their signatures. An unsigned attestation clause cannot be considered as an act of
the witnesses, since the omission of their signatures at the bottom thereof negatives
their participation.
The petitioner and appellee contends that signatures of the three witnesses on the
left-hand margin conform substantially to the law and may be deemed as their
signatures to the attestation clause. This is untenable, because said signatures are in
compliance with the legal mandate that the will be signed on the left-hand margin of
all its pages. If an attestation clause not signed by the three witnesses at the bottom
thereof, be admitted as sufficient, it would be easy to add such clause to a will on a
subsequent occasion and in the absence of the testator and any or all of the
witnesses.39
The Court today reiterates the continued efficacy of Cagro. Article 805 particularly
segregates the requirement that the instrumental witnesses sign each page of the
will, from the requisite that the will be "attested and subscribed by [the instrumental
witnesses]." The respective intents behind these two classes of signature are distinct
from each other. The signatures on the left-hand corner of every page signify, among

others, that the witnesses are aware that the page they are signing forms part of the
will. On the other hand, the signatures to the attestation clause establish that the
witnesses are referring to the statements contained in the attestation clause itself.
Indeed, the attestation clause is separate and apart from the disposition of the will.
An unsigned attestation clause results in an unattested will. Even if the instrumental
witnesses signed the left-hand margin of the page containing the unsigned
attestation clause, such signatures cannot demonstrate these witnesses
undertakings in the clause, since the signatures that do appear on the page were
directed towards a wholly different avowal.
The Court may be more charitably disposed had the witnesses in this case signed
the attestation clause itself, but not the left-hand margin of the page containing such
clause. Without diminishing the value of the instrumental witnesses signatures on
each and every page, the fact must be noted that it is the attestation clause which
contains the utterances reduced into writing of the testamentary witnesses
themselves. It is the witnesses, and not the testator, who are required under Article
805 to state the number of pages used upon which the will is written; the fact that the
testator had signed the will and every page thereof; and that they witnessed and
signed the will and all the pages thereof in the presence of the testator and of one
another. The only proof in the will that the witnesses have stated these elemental
facts would be their signatures on the attestation clause.
Thus, the subject will cannot be considered to have been validly attested to by the
instrumental witnesses, as they failed to sign the attestation clause.
Yet, there is another fatal defect to the will on which the denial of this petition should
also hinge. The requirement under Article 806 that "every will must be acknowledged
before a notary public by the testator and the witnesses" has also not been complied
with. The importance of this requirement is highlighted by the fact that it had been
segregated from the other requirements under Article 805 and entrusted into a
separate provision, Article 806. The non-observance of Article 806 in this case is
equally as critical as the other cited flaws in compliance with Article 805, and should
be treated as of equivalent import.
In lieu of an acknowledgment, the notary public, Petronio Y. Bautista, wrote
"Nilagdaan ko at ninotario ko ngayong10 ng Hunyo 10 (sic), 1981 dito sa Lungsod ng
Maynila."40 By no manner of contemplation can those words be construed as an
acknowledgment. An acknowledgment is the act of one who has executed a deed in
going before some competent officer or court and declaring it to be his act or
deed.41 It involves an extra step undertaken whereby the signor actually declares to
the notary that the executor of a document has attested to the notary that the same
is his/her own free act and deed.
It might be possible to construe the averment as a jurat, even though it does not hew
to the usual language thereof. A jurat is that part of an affidavit where the notary
certifies that before him/her, the document was subscribed and sworn to by the
executor.42 Ordinarily, the language of the jurat should avow that the document was
subscribed and sworn before the notary public, while in this case, the notary public
averred that he himself "signed and notarized" the document. Possibly though, the
word "ninotario" or "notarized" encompasses the signing of and swearing in of the

executors of the document, which in this case would involve the decedent and the
instrumental witnesses.
Yet even if we consider what was affixed by the notary public as a jurat, the will
would nonetheless remain invalid, as the express requirement of Article 806 is that
the will be "acknowledged", and not merely subscribed and sworn to. The will does
not present any textual proof, much less one under oath, that the decedent and the
instrumental witnesses executed or signed the will as their own free act or deed. The
acknowledgment made in a will provides for another all-important legal safeguard
against spurious wills or those made beyond the free consent of the testator. An
acknowledgement is not an empty meaningless act.43 The acknowledgment coerces
the testator and the instrumental witnesses to declare before an officer of the law that
they had executed and subscribed to the will as their own free act or deed. Such
declaration is under oath and under pain of perjury, thus allowing for the criminal
prosecution of persons who participate in the execution of spurious wills, or those
executed without the free consent of the testator. It also provides a further degree of
assurance that the testator is of certain mindset in making the testamentary
dispositions to those persons he/she had designated in the will.
It may not have been said before, but we can assert the rule, self-evident as it is
under Article 806. A notarial will that is not acknowledged before a notary public by
the testator and the witnesses is fatally defective, even if it is subscribed and sworn
to before a notary public.
There are two other requirements under Article 805 which were not fully satisfied by
the will in question. We need not discuss them at length, as they are no longer
material to the
disposition of this case. The provision requires that the testator and the instrumental
witnesses sign each and every page of the will on the left margin, except the last;
and that all the pages shall be numbered correlatively in letters placed on the upper
part of each page. In this case, the decedent, unlike the witnesses, failed to sign both
pages of the will on the left margin, her only signature appearing at the so-called
"logical end"44 of the will on its first page. Also, the will itself is not numbered
correlatively in letters on each page, but instead numbered with Arabic numerals.
There is a line of thought that has disabused the notion that these two requirements
be construed as mandatory.45 Taken in isolation, these omissions, by themselves,
may not be sufficient to deny probate to a will. Yet even as these omissions are not
decisive to the adjudication of this case, they need not be dwelt on, though indicative
as they may be of a general lack of due regard for the requirements under Article 805
by whoever executed the will.
All told, the string of mortal defects which the will in question suffers from makes the
probate denial inexorable.
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. Costs against petitioner.
SO ORDERED.

Abada died sometime in May 1940.[4] His widow Paula Toray (Toray) died sometime
in September 1943. Both died without legitimate children.
On 13 September 1968, Alipio C. Abaja (Alipio) filed with the then Court of First
Instance of Negros Occidental (now RTC-Kabankalan) a petition,[5] docketed as SP
No. 070 (313-8668), for the probate of the last will and testament (will) of Abada.
Abada allegedly named as his testamentary heirs his natural children Eulogio Abaja
(Eulogio) and Rosario Cordova. Alipio is the son of Eulogio.
Nicanor Caponong (Caponong) opposed the petition on the ground that Abada left
no will when he died in 1940. Caponong further alleged that the will, if Abada really
executed it, should be disallowed for the following reasons: (1) it was not executed
and attested as required by law; (2) it was not intended as the last will of the testator;
and (3) it was procured by undue and improper pressure and influence on the part of
the beneficiaries. Citing the same grounds invoked by Caponong, the alleged
intestate heirs of Abada, namely, Joel, Julian, Paz, Evangeline, Geronimo,
Humberto, Teodora and Elena Abada (Joel Abada, et al.), and Levi, Leandro,
Antonio, Florian, Hernani and Carmela Tronco (Levi Tronco, et al.), also opposed the
petition. The oppositors are the nephews, nieces and grandchildren of Abada and
Toray.
On 13 September 1968, Alipio filed another petition[6] before the RTC-Kabankalan,
docketed as SP No. 071 (312-8669), for the probate of the last will and testament of
Toray. Caponong, Joel Abada, et al., and Levi Tronco, et al. opposed the petition on
the same grounds they cited in SP No. 070 (313-8668).
On 20 September 1968, Caponong filed a petition[7] before the RTC-Kabankalan,
docketed as SP No. 069 (309), praying for the issuance in his name of letters of
administration of the intestate estate of Abada and Toray.

FIRST DIVISION
[G.R. No. 147145. January 31, 2005]
TESTATE ESTATE OF THE LATE ALIPIO ABADA, BELINDA
CAPONONG-NOBLE, petitioner, vs.ALIPIO ABAJA and NOEL
ABELLAR, respondents.
DECISION
CARPIO, J.:
The Case
Before the Court is a petition for review[1] assailing the Decision[2] of the Court of
Appeals of 12 January 2001 in CA-G.R. CV No. 47644. The Court of Appeals
sustained the Resolution[3] of the Regional Trial Court of Kabankalan, Negros
Occidental, Branch 61 (RTC-Kabankalan), admitting to probate the last will and
testament of Alipio Abada (Abada).
The Antecedent Facts

In an Order dated 14 August 1981, the RTC-Kabankalan admitted to probate the will
of Toray. Since the oppositors did not file any motion for reconsideration, the order
allowing the probate of Torays will became final and executory.[8]
In an order dated 23 November 1990, the RTC-Kabankalan designated Belinda
Caponong-Noble (Caponong-Noble) Special Administratrix of the estate of Abada
and Toray.[9] Caponong-Noble moved for the dismissal of the petition for probate of
the will of Abada. The RTC-Kabankalan denied the motion in an Order dated 20
August 1991.[10]
Sometime in 1993, during the proceedings, Presiding Judge Rodolfo S. Layumas
discovered that in an Order dated 16 March 1992, former Presiding Judge Edgardo
Catilo had already submitted the case for decision. Thus, the RTC-Kabankalan
rendered a Resolution dated 22 June 1994, as follows:
There having been sufficient notice to the heirs as required by law; that there is
substantial compliance with the formalities of a Will as the law directs and that the
petitioner through his testimony and the deposition of Felix Gallinero was able to
establish the regularity of the execution of the said Will and further, there being no

evidence of bad faith and fraud, or substitution of the said Will, the Last Will and
Testament of Alipio Abada dated June 4, 1932 is admitted and allowed probate.

The Court of Appeals did not err in sustaining the RTC-Kabankalan in admitting to
probate the will of Abada.

As prayed for by counsel, Noel Abbellar[11] is appointed administrator of the estate


of Paula Toray who shall discharge his duties as such after letters of administration
shall have been issued in his favor and after taking his oath and filing a bond in the
amount of Ten Thousand (P10,000.00) Pesos.

The Applicable Law

Mrs. Belinda C. Noble, the present administratrix of the estate of Alipio Abada shall
continue discharging her duties as such until further orders from this Court.
SO ORDERED.[12]
The RTC-Kabankalan ruled on the only issue raised by the oppositors in their
motions to dismiss the petition for probate, that is, whether the will of Abada has an
attestation clause as required by law. The RTC-Kabankalan further held that the
failure of the oppositors to raise any other matter forecloses all other issues.
Not satisfied with the Resolution, Caponong-Noble filed a notice of appeal.
In a Decision promulgated on 12 January 2001, the Court of Appeals affirmed the
Resolution of the RTC-Kabankalan. The appellate court found that the RTCKabankalan properly admitted to probate the will of Abada.
Hence, the present recourse by Caponong-Noble.
The Issues
The petition raises the following issues:
1. What laws apply to the probate of the last will of Abada;
2. Whether the will of Abada requires acknowledgment before a notary public;[13]
3. Whether the will must expressly state that it is written in a language or dialect
known to the testator;
4. Whether the will of Abada has an attestation clause, and if so, whether the
attestation clause complies with the requirements of the applicable laws;
5. Whether Caponong-Noble is precluded from raising the issue of whether the will of
Abada is written in a language known to Abada;
6. Whether evidence aliunde may be resorted to in the probate of the will of Abada.
The Ruling of the Court

Abada executed his will on 4 June 1932. The laws in force at that time are the Civil
Code of 1889 or the Old Civil Code, and Act No. 190 or the Code of Civil
Procedure[14] which governed the execution of wills before the enactment of the
New Civil Code.
The matter in dispute in the present case is the attestation clause in the will of
Abada. Section 618 of the Code of Civil Procedure, as amended by Act No. 2645,
[15] governs the form of the attestation clause of Abadas will.[16] Section 618 of the
Code of Civil Procedure, as amended, provides:
SEC. 618. Requisites of will. No will, except as provided in the preceding section,
[17] shall be valid to pass any estate, real or personal, nor charge or affect the same,
unless it be written in the language or dialect known by the testator and signed by
him, or by the testators name written by some other person in his presence, and by
his express direction, and attested and subscribed by three or more credible
witnesses in the presence of the testator and of each other. The testator or the
person requested by him to write his name and the instrumental witnesses of the will,
shall also sign, as aforesaid, each and every page thereof, on the left margin, and
said pages shall be numbered correlatively in letters placed on the upper part of
each sheet. The attestation shall state the number of sheets or pages used, upon
which the will is written, and the fact that the testator signed the will and every page
thereof, or caused some other person to write his name, under his express direction,
in the presence of three witnesses, and the latter witnessed and signed the will and
all pages thereof in the presence of the testator and of each other.
Requisites of a Will under the Code of Civil Procedure
Under Section 618 of the Code of Civil Procedure, the requisites of a will are the
following:
(1) The will must be written in the language or dialect known by the testator;
(2) The will must be signed by the testator, or by the testators name written by some
other person in his presence, and by his express direction;
(3) The will must be attested and subscribed by three or more credible witnesses in
the presence of the testator and of each other;
(4) The testator or the person requested by him to write his name and the
instrumental witnesses of the will must sign each and every page of the will on the
left margin;

(5) The pages of the will must be numbered correlatively in letters placed on the
upper part of each sheet;
(6) The attestation shall state the number of sheets or pages used, upon which the
will is written, and the fact that the testator signed the will and every page of the will,
or caused some other person to write his name, under his express direction, in the
presence of three witnesses, and the witnesses witnessed and signed the will and all
pages of the will in the presence of the testator and of each other.
Caponong-Noble asserts that the will of Abada does not indicate that it is written in a
language or dialect known to the testator. Further, she maintains that the will is not
acknowledged before a notary public. She cites in particular Articles 804 and 805 of
the Old Civil Code, thus:
Art. 804. Every will must be in writing and executed in [a] language or dialect known
to the testator.
Art. 806. Every will must be acknowledged before a notary public by the testator and
the witnesses. xxx[18]
Caponong-Noble actually cited Articles 804 and 806 of the New Civil Code.
[19] Article 804 of the Old Civil Code is about the rights and obligations of
administrators of the property of an absentee, while Article 806 of the Old Civil Code
defines a legitime.
Articles 804 and 806 of the New Civil Code are new provisions. Article 804 of the
New Civil Code is taken from Section 618 of the Code of Civil Procedure.[20] Article
806 of the New Civil Code is taken from Article 685 of the Old Civil Code[21]which
provides:
Art. 685. The notary and two of the witnesses who authenticate the will must be
acquainted with the testator, or, should they not know him, he shall be identified by
two witnesses who are acquainted with him and are known to the notary and to the
attesting witnesses. The notary and the witnesses shall also endeavor to assure
themselves that the testator has, in their judgment, the legal capacity required to
make a will.

not raised in the motion to dismiss, and that it is now too late to raise the issue on
appeal. We agree with Caponong-Noble that the doctrine of estoppel does not apply
in probate proceedings.[24] In addition, the language used in the will is part of the
requisites under Section 618 of the Code of Civil Procedure and the Court deems it
proper to pass upon this issue.
Nevertheless, Caponong-Nobles contention must still fail. There is no statutory
requirement to state in the will itself that the testator knew the language or dialect
used in the will.[25] This is a matter that a party may establish by proof aliunde.
[26]Caponong-Noble further argues that Alipio, in his testimony, has failed, among
others, to show that Abada knew or understood the contents of the will and the
Spanish language used in the will. However, Alipio testified that Abada used to
gather Spanish-speaking people in their place. In these gatherings, Abada and his
companions would talk in the Spanish language.[27] This sufficiently proves that
Abada speaks the Spanish language.
The Attestation Clause of Abadas Will
A scrutiny of Abadas will shows that it has an attestation clause. The attestation
clause of Abadas will reads:
Suscrito y declarado por el testador Alipio Abada como su ultima voluntad y
testamento en presencia de nosotros, habiendo tambien el testador firmado en
nuestra presencia en el margen izquierdo de todas y cada una de las hojas del
mismo. Y en testimonio de ello, cada uno de nosotros lo firmamos en presencia de
nosotros y del testador al pie de este documento y en el margen izquierdo de todas
y cada una de las dos hojas de que esta compuesto el mismo, las cuales estan
paginadas correlativamente con las letras UNO y DOS en la parte superior de la
carrilla.[28]
Caponong-Noble proceeds to point out several defects in the attestation
clause. Caponong-Noble alleges that the attestation clause fails to state the number
of pages on which the will is written.

Witnesses authenticating a will without the attendance of a notary, in cases falling


under Articles 700 and 701, are also required to know the testator.

The allegation has no merit. The phrase en el margen izquierdo de todas y cada una
de las dos hojas de que esta compuesto el mismo which means in the left margin of
each and every one of the two pages consisting of the same shows that the will
consists of two pages. The pages are numbered correlatively with the letters ONE
and TWO as can be gleaned from the phrase las cuales estan paginadas
correlativamente con las letras UNO y DOS.

However, the Code of Civil Procedure[22] repealed Article 685 of the Old Civil Code.
Under the Code of Civil Procedure, the intervention of a notary is not necessary in
the execution of any will.[23] Therefore, Abadas will does not require
acknowledgment before a notary public.

Caponong-Noble further alleges that the attestation clause fails to state expressly
that the testator signed the will and its every page in the presence of three
witnesses. She then faults the Court of Appeals for applying to the present case the
rule on substantial compliance found in Article 809 of the New Civil Code.[29]

Caponong-Noble points out that nowhere in the will can one discern that Abada knew
the Spanish language. She alleges that such defect is fatal and must result in the
disallowance of the will. On this issue, the Court of Appeals held that the matter was

The first sentence of the attestation clause reads: Suscrito y declarado por el
testador Alipio Abada como su ultima voluntad y testamento en presencia de
nosotros, habiendo tambien el testador firmado en nuestra presencia en el margen

izquierdo de todas y cada una de las hojas del mismo. The English translation is:
Subscribed and professed by the testator Alipio Abada as his last will and testament
in our presence, the testator having also signed it in our presence on the left margin
of each and every one of the pages of the same. The attestation clause clearly states
that Abada signed the will and its every page in the presence of the witnesses.
However, Caponong-Noble is correct in saying that the attestation clause does not
indicate the number of witnesses.On this point, the Court agrees with the appellate
court in applying the rule on substantial compliance in determining the number of
witnesses. While the attestation clause does not state the number of witnesses, a
close inspection of the will shows that three witnesses signed it.
This Court has applied the rule on substantial compliance even before the effectivity
of the New Civil Code. In Dichoso de Ticson v. De Gorostiza,[30] the Court
recognized that there are two divergent tendencies in the law on wills, one being
based on strict construction and the other on liberal construction. In Dichoso, the
Court noted that Abangan v. Abangan,[31]the basic case on the liberal construction,
is cited with approval in later decisions of the Court.
In Adeva vda. De Leynez v. Leynez,[32] the petitioner, arguing for liberal construction
of applicable laws, enumerated a long line of cases to support her argument while
the respondent, contending that the rule on strict construction should apply, also
cited a long series of cases to support his view. The Court, after examining the cases
invoked by the parties, held:
x x x It is, of course, not possible to lay down a general rule, rigid and inflexible,
which would be applicable to all cases. More than anything else, the facts and
circumstances of record are to be considered in the application of any given rule. If
the surrounding circumstances point to a regular execution of the will, and the
instrument appears to have been executed substantially in accordance with the
requirements of the law, the inclination should, in the absence of any suggestion of
bad faith, forgery or fraud, lean towards its admission to probate, although the
document may suffer from some imperfection of language, or other non-essential
defect. x x x.
An attestation clause is made for the purpose of preserving, in permanent form, a
record of the facts attending the execution of the will, so that in case of failure of the
memory of the subscribing witnesses, or other casualty, they may still be proved.
(Thompson on Wills, 2d ed., sec. 132.) A will, therefore, should not be rejected where
its attestation clause serves the purpose of the law. x x x [33]
We rule to apply the liberal construction in the probate of Abadas will. Abadas will
clearly shows four signatures: that of Abada and of three other persons. It is
reasonable to conclude that there are three witnesses to the will. The question on the
number of the witnesses is answered by an examination of the will itself and without
the need for presentation of evidence aliunde. The Court explained the extent and
limits of the rule on liberal construction, thus:

[T]he so-called liberal rule does not offer any puzzle or difficulty, nor does it open the
door to serious consequences. The later decisions do tell us when and where to
stop; they draw the dividing line with precision. They do not allow evidence aliunde to
fill a void in any part of the document or supply missing details that should appear in
the will itself. They only permit a probe into the will, an exploration within its confines,
to ascertain its meaning or to determine the existence or absence of the requisite
formalities of law. This clear, sharp limitation eliminates uncertainty and ought to
banish any fear of dire results.[34] (Emphasis supplied)
The phrase en presencia de nosotros or in our presence coupled with the signatures
appearing on the will itself and after the attestation clause could only mean that: (1)
Abada subscribed to and professed before the three witnesses that the document
was his last will, and (2) Abada signed the will and the left margin of each page of the
will in the presence of these three witnesses.
Finally, Caponong-Noble alleges that the attestation clause does not expressly state
the circumstances that the witnesses witnessed and signed the will and all its pages
in the presence of the testator and of each other. This Court has ruled:
Precision of language in the drafting of an attestation clause is desirable. However, it
is not imperative that a parrot-like copy of the words of the statute be made. It is
sufficient if from the language employed it can reasonably be deduced that the
attestation clause fulfills what the law expects of it.[35]
The last part of the attestation clause states en testimonio de ello, cada uno de
nosotros lo firmamos en presencia de nosotros y del testador. In English, this means
in its witness, every one of us also signed in our presence and of the testator. This
clearly shows that the attesting witnesses witnessed the signing of the will of the
testator, and that each witness signed the will in the presence of one another and of
the testator.
WHEREFORE, we AFFIRM the Decision of the Court of Appeals of 12 January 2001
in CA-G.R. CV No. 47644.
SO ORDERED.

The records show that on December 5, 1978, Mateo Caballero, a widower without
any children and already in the twilight years of his life, executed a last will and
testament at his residence in Talisay, Cebu before three attesting witnesses, namely,
Cipriano Labuca, Gregorio Cabando and Flaviano Toregosa. The said testator was
duly assisted by his lawyer, Atty. Emilio Lumontad, and a notary public, Atty. Filoteo
Manigos, in the preparation of that last will. 1 It was declared therein, among other
things, that the testator was leaving by way of legacies and devises his real and
personal properties to Presentacion Gaviola, Angel Abatayo, Rogelio Abatayo,
Isabelito Abatayo, Benoni G. Cabrera and Marcosa Alcantara, all of whom do not
appear to be related to the testator. 2
Four months later, or on April 4, 1979, Mateo Caballero himself filed a petition
docketed as Special Proceeding No. 3899-R before Branch II of the then Court of
First Instance of Cebu seeking the probate of his last will and testament. The probate
court set the petition for hearing on August 20, 1979 but the same and subsequent
scheduled hearings were postponed for one reason to another. On May 29, 1980,
the testator passed away before his petition could finally be heard by the probate
court. 3 On February 25, 1981, Benoni Cabrera, on of the legatees named in the will,
sough his appointment as special administrator of the testator's estate, the estimated
value of which was P24,000.00, and he was so appointed by the probate court in its
order of March 6, 1981. 4

SECOND DIVISION
G.R. No. 103554 May 28, 1993
TEODORO CANEDA, LORENZA CANEDA, TERESA CANEDA, JUAN
CABALLERO, AUREA CABALLERO, OSCAR LAROSA, HELEN
CABALLERO, SANTOS CABALLERO, PABLO CABALLERO, VICTOR
RAGA, MAURICIA RAGA, QUIRICA RAGA, RUPERTO ABAPO,
represented herein by his Attorney-in-Fact, ARMSTICIA * ABAPO
VELANO, and CONSESO CANEDA, represented herein by his heirs,
JESUS CANEDA, NATIVIDAD CANEDA and ARTURO
CANEDA, petitioners,
vs.
HON. COURT OF APPEALS and WILLIAM CABRERA, as Special
Administrator of the Estate of Mateo Caballero, respondents.
Palma, Palma & Associates for petitioners.
Emilio Lumontad, Jr. for private respondents.
REGALADO, J.:
Presented for resolution by this Court in the present petition for review on certiorari is
the issue of whether or not the attestation clause contained in the last will and
testament of the late Mateo Caballero complies with the requirements of Article 805,
in relation to Article 809, of the Civil Code.

Thereafter, herein petitioners, claiming to be nephews and nieces of the testator,


instituted a second petition, entitled "In the Matter of the Intestate Estate of Mateo
Caballero" and docketed as Special Proceeding No. 3965-R, before Branch IX of the
aforesaid Court of First Instance of Cebu. On October 18, 1982, herein petitioners
had their said petition intestate proceeding consolidated with Special Proceeding No.
3899-R in Branch II of the Court of First Instance of Cebu and opposed thereat the
probate of the Testator's will and the appointment of a special administrator for his
estate. 5
Benoni Cabrera died on February 8, 1982 hence the probate court, now known as
Branch XV of the Regional Trial Court of Cebu, appointed William Cabrera as special
administrator on June 21, 1983. Thereafter, on July 20, 1983, it issued an order for
the return of the records of Special Proceeding No. 3965-R to the archives since the
testate proceeding for the probate of the will had to be heard and resolved first. On
March 26, 1984 the case was reraffled and eventually assigned to Branch XII of the
Regional Trial Court of Cebu where it remained until the conclusion of the probate
proceedings. 6
In the course of the hearing in Special Proceeding No. 3899-R, herein petitioners
appeared as oppositors and objected to the allowance of the testator's will on the
ground that on the alleged date of its execution, the testator was already in the poor
state of health such that he could not have possibly executed the same. Petitioners
likewise reiterated the issue as to the genuineness of the signature of the testator
therein. 7
On the other hand, one of the attesting witnesses, Cipriano Labuca, and the notary
public Atty. Filoteo Manigos, testified that the testator executed the will in question in
their presence while he was of sound and disposing mind and that, contrary to the

assertions of the oppositors, Mateo Caballero was in good health and was not unduly
influenced in any way in the execution of his will. Labuca also testified that he and
the other witnesses attested and signed the will in the presence of the testator and of
each other. The other two attesting witnesses were not presented in the probate
hearing as the had died by then. 8
On April 5, 1988, the probate court rendered a decision declaring the will in question
as the last will and testament of the late Mateo Caballero, on the ratiocination that:
. . . The self-serving testimony of the two witnesses of the oppositors cannot
overcome the positive testimonies of Atty. Filoteo Manigos and Cipriano Labuca who
clearly told the Court that indeed Mateo Caballero executed the Last Will and
Testament now marked Exhibit "C" on December 5, 1978. Moreover, the fact that it
was Mateo Caballero who initiated the probate of his Will during his lifetime when he
caused the filing of the original petition now marked Exhibit "D" clearly underscores
the fact that this was indeed his Last Will. At the start, counsel for the oppositors
manifested that he would want the signature of Mateo Caballero in Exhibit "C"
examined by a handwriting expert of the NBI but it would seem that despite their
avowal and intention for the examination of this signature of Mateo Caballero in
Exhibit "C", nothing came out of it because they abandoned the idea and instead
presented Aurea Caballero and Helen Caballero Campo as witnesses for the
oppositors.
All told, it is the finding of this Court that Exhibit "C" is the Last Will and Testament of
Mateo Caballero and that it was executed in accordance with all the requisites of the
law. 9
Undaunted by the said judgment of the probate court, petitioners elevated the case
in the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 19669. They asserted therein that the will
in question is null and void for the reason that its attestation clause is fatally defective
since it fails to specifically state that the instrumental witnesses to the will witnessed
the testator signing the will in their presence and that they also signed the will and all
the pages thereof in the presence of the testator and of one another.
On October 15, 1991, respondent court promulgated its decision 10 affirming that of
the trial court, and ruling that the attestation clause in the last will of Mateo Caballero
substantially complies with Article 805 of the Civil Code, thus:
The question therefore is whether the attestation clause in question may be
considered as having substantialy complied with the requirements of Art. 805 of the
Civil Code. What appears in the attestation clause which the oppositors claim to be
defective is "we do certify that the testament was read by him and the attestator,
Mateo Caballero, has published unto us the foregoing will consisting of THREE
PAGES, including the acknowledgment, each page numbered correlatively in letters
of the upper part of each page, as his Last Will and Testament, and he has signed
the same and every page thereof, on the spaces provided for his signature and on
the left hand margin in the presence of the said testator and in the presence of each
and all of us (emphasis supplied).

To our thinking, this is sufficient compliance and no evidence need be presented to


indicate the meaning that the said will was signed by the testator and by them (the
witnesses) in the presence of all of them and of one another. Or as the language of
the law would have it that the testator signed the will "in the presence of the
instrumental witnesses, and that the latter witnessed and signed the will and all the
pages thereof in the presence of the testator and of one another." If not completely or
ideally perfect in accordance with the wordings of Art. 805 but (sic) the phrase as
formulated is in substantial compliance with the requirement of the law." 11
Petitioners moved for the reconsideration of the said ruling of respondent court, but
the same was denied in the latter's resolution of January 14, 1992, 12 hence this
appeal now before us. Petitioners assert that respondent court has ruled upon said
issue in a manner not in accord with the law and settled jurisprudence on the matter
and are now questioning once more, on the same ground as that raised before
respondent court, the validity of the attestation clause in the last will of Mateo
Caballero.
We find the present petition to be meritorious, as we shall shortly hereafter, after
some prefatory observations which we feel should be made in aid of the rationale for
our resolution of the controversy.
1. A will has been defined as a species of conveyance whereby a person is
permitted, with the formalities prescribed by law, to control to a certain degree the
disposition of his estate after his death. 13 Under the Civil Code, there are two kinds
of wills which a testator may execute. 14 the first kind is the ordinary or attested will,
the execution of which is governed by Articles 804 to 809 of the Code. Article 805
requires that:
Art. 805. Every will, other than a holographic will, must be subscribed at the end
thereof by the testator himself or by the testator's name written by some other person
in his presence, and by his express direction, and attested and subscribed by three
or more credible witnesses in the presence of the testator and of one another.
The testator or the person requested by him to write his name and the instrumental
witnesses of the will, shall also sign, as aforesaid, each and every page thereof,
except the last, on the left margin, and all the pages shall be numbered correlatively
in letters placed on the upper part of each page.
The attestation should state the number of pages used upon which the will is written,
and the fact that the testator signed the will and every page thereof, or caused some
other person to write his name, under his express direction, in the presence of the
instrumental witnesses, and that the latter witnessed and signed the will and all the
pages thereof in the presence of the testator and of one another.
If the attestation clause is in a language not known to the witness, it shall be
interpreted to them.
In addition, the ordinary will must be acknowledged before a notary public by a
testator and the attesting witness.15 hence it is likewise known as notarial will.

Where the attestator is deaf or deaf-mute, Article 807 requires that he must
personally read the will, if able to do so. Otherwise, he should designate two persons
who would read the will and communicate its contents to him in a practicable
manner. On the other hand, if the testator is blind, the will should be read to him
twice; once, by anyone of the witnesses thereto, and then again, by the notary public
before whom it is acknowledged. 16
The other kind of will is the holographic will, which Article 810 defines as one that is
entirely written, dated, and signed by the testator himself. This kind of will, unlike the
ordinary type, requires no attestation by witnesses. A common requirement in both
kinds of will is that they should be in writing and must have been executed in a
language or dialect known to the testator. 17
However, in the case of an ordinary or attested will, its attestation clause need not be
written in a language or dialect known to the testator since it does not form part of
the testamentary disposition. Furthermore, the language used in the attestation
clause likewise need not even be known to the attesting witnesses. 18 The last
paragraph of Article 805 merely requires that, in such a case, the attestation clause
shall be interpreted to said witnesses.
An attestation clause refers to that part of an ordinary will whereby the attesting
witnesses certify that the instrument has been executed before them and to the
manner of the execution the same. 19 It is a separate memorandum or record of the
facts surrounding the conduct of execution and once signed by the witnesses, it
gives affirmation to the fact that compliance with the essential formalities required by
law has been observed. 20 It is made for the purpose of preserving in a permanent
form a record of the facts that attended the execution of a particular will, so that in
case of failure of the memory of the attesting witnesses, or other casualty, such facts
may still be proved. 21
Under the third paragraph of Article 805, such a clause, the complete lack of which
would result in the invalidity of the will, 22 should state (1) the number of the pages
used upon which the will is written; (2) that the testator signed, or expressly caused
another to sign, the will and every page thereof in the presence of the attesting
witnesses; and (3) that theattesting witnesses witnessed the signing by the testator
of the will and all its pages, and that said witnesses also signed the will and every
page thereof in the presence of the testator and of one another.
The purpose of the law in requiring the clause to state the number of pages on which
the will is written is to safeguard against possible interpolation or omission of one or
some of its pages and to prevent any increase or decrease in the pages; 23 whereas
the subscription of the signature of the testator and the attesting witnesses is made
for the purpose of authentication and identification, and thus indicates that the will is
the very same instrument executed by the testator and attested to by the
witnesses. 24
Further, by attesting and subscribing to the will, the witnesses thereby declare the
due execution of the will as embodied in the attestation clause. 25 The attestation
clause, therefore, provide strong legal guaranties for the due execution of a will and
to insure the authenticity thereof. 26 As it appertains only to the witnesses and not to

the testator, it need be signed only by them. 27 Where it is left unsigned, it would
result in the invalidation of the will as it would be possible and easy to add the clause
on a subsequent occasion in the absence of the testator and its witnesses. 28
In its report, the Code Commission commented on the reasons of the law for
requiring the formalities to be followed in the execution of wills, in the following
manner:
The underlying and fundamental objectives permeating the provisions on the law on
wills in this Project consists in the liberalization of the manner of their execution with
the end in view of giving the testator more freedom in expressing his last wishes, but
with sufficient safeguards and restrictions to prevent the commission of fraud and the
exercise of undue and improper pressure and influence upon the testator.
This objective is in accord with the modern tendency with respect to the formalities in
the execution of wills. . . . 29
2. An examination of the last will and testament of Mateo Caballero shows that it is
comprised of three sheets all of which have been numbered correlatively, with the left
margin of each page thereof bearing the respective signatures of the testator and the
three attesting witnesses. The part of the will containing the testamentary
dispositions is expressed in the Cebuano-Visayan dialect and is signed at the foot
thereof by the testator. The attestation clause in question, on the other hand, is
recited in the English language and is likewise signed at the end thereof by the three
attesting witnesses hereto. 30 Since it is the proverbial bone of contention, we
reproduce it again for facility of reference:
We, the undersigned attesting Witnesses, whose Residences and postal addresses
appear on the Opposite of our respective names, we do hereby certify that the
Testament was read by him and the testator, MATEO CABALLERO; has published
unto us the foregoing Will consisting of THREE PAGES, including the
Acknowledgment, each page numbered correlatively in the letters on the upper part
of each page, as his Last Will and Testament and he has the same and every page
thereof, on the spaces provided for his signature and on the left hand margin, in the
presence of the said testator and in the presence of each and all of us.
It will be noted that Article 805 requires that the witness should both attest and
subscribe to the will in the presence of the testator and of one another. "Attestation"
and "subscription" differ in meaning. Attestation is the act of senses, while
subscription is the act of the hand. The former is mental, the latter mechanical, and
to attest a will is to know that it was published as such, and to certify the facts
required to constitute an actual and legal publication; but to subscribe a paper
published as a will is only to write on the same paper the names of the witnesses, for
the sole purpose of identification. 31
In Taboada vs. Rizal, 32 we clarified that attestation consists in witnessing the
testator's execution of the will in order to see and take note mentally that those things
are done which the statute requires for the execution of a will and that the signature
of the testator exists as a fact. On the other hand, subscription is the signing of the

witnesses' names upon the same paper for the purpose of identification of such
paper as the will which was executed by the testator. As it involves a mental act,
there would be no means, therefore, of ascertaining by a physical examination of the
will whether the witnesses had indeed signed in the presence of the testator and of
each other unless this is substantially expressed in the attestation.
It is contended by petitioners that the aforequoted attestation clause, in contravention
of the express requirements of the third paragraph of Article 805 of the Civil Code for
attestation clauses, fails to specifically state the fact that the attesting witnesses the
testator sign the will and all its pages in their presence and that they, the witnesses,
likewise signed the will and every page thereof in the presence of the testator and of
each other. We agree.
What is fairly apparent upon a careful reading of the attestation clause herein
assailed is the fact that while it recites that the testator indeed signed the will and all
its pages in the presence of the three attesting witnesses and states as well the
number of pages that were used, the same does not expressly state therein the
circumstance that said witnesses subscribed their respective signatures to the will in
the presence of the testator and of each other.
The phrase "and he has signed the same and every page thereof, on the spaces
provided for his signature and on the left hand margin," obviously refers to the
testator and not the instrumental witnesses as it is immediately preceded by the
words "as his Last Will and Testament." On the other hand, although the words "in
the presence of the testator and in the presence of each and all of us" may, at first
blush, appear to likewise signify and refer to the witnesses, it must, however, be
interpreted as referring only to the testator signing in the presence of the witnesses
since said phrase immediately follows the words "he has signed the same and every
page thereof, on the spaces provided for his signature and on the left hand margin."
What is then clearly lacking, in the final logical analysis , is the statement that the
witnesses signed the will and every page thereof in the presence of the testator and
of one another.
It is our considered view that the absence of that statement required by law is a fatal
defect or imperfection which must necessarily result in the disallowance of the will
that is here sought to be admitted to probate. Petitioners are correct in pointing out
that the aforestated defect in the attestation clause obviously cannot be
characterized as merely involving the form of the will or the language used therein
which would warrant the application of the substantial compliance rule, as
contemplated in the pertinent provision thereon in the Civil Code, to wit:
Art. 809. In the absence of bad faith, forgery, or fraud, or undue and improper
pressure and influence, defects and imperfections in the form of attestation or in the
language used therein shall not render the will invalid if it is not proved that the will
was in fact executed and attested in substantial compliance with all the requirements
of article 805" (Emphasis supplied.)
While it may be true that the attestation clause is indeed subscribed at the end
thereof and at the left margin of each page by the three attesting witnesses, it
certainly cannot be conclusively inferred therefrom that the said witness affixed their

respective signatures in the presence of the testator and of each other since, as
petitioners correctly observed, the presence of said signatures only establishes the
fact that it was indeed signed, but it does not prove that the attesting witnesses did
subscribe to the will in the presence of the testator and of each other. The execution
of a will is supposed to be one act so that where the testator and the witnesses sign
on various days or occasions and in various combinations, the will cannot be
stamped with the imprimatur of effectivity. 33
We believe that the further comment of former Justice J.B.L. Reyes 34 regarding
Article 809, wherein he urged caution in the application of the substantial compliance
rule therein, is correct and should be applied in the case under consideration, as well
as to future cases with similar questions:
. . . The rule must be limited to disregarding those defects that can be supplied by an
examination of the will itself: whether all the pages are consecutively numbered;
whether the signatures appear in each and every page; whether the subscribing
witnesses are three or the will was notarized. All theses are facts that the will itself
can reveal, and defects or even omissions concerning them in the attestation clause
can be safely disregarded. But the total number of pages, and whether all persons
required to sign did so in the presence of each other must substantially appear in the
attestation clause, being the only check against perjury in the probate proceedings.
(Emphasis ours.)
3. We stress once more that under Article 809, the defects and imperfections must
only be with respect to the form of the attestation or the language employed therein.
Such defects or imperfections would not render a will invalid should it be proved that
the will was really executed and attested in compliance with Article 805. In this
regard, however, the manner of proving the due execution and attestation has been
held to be limited to merely an examination of the will itself without resorting to
evidence aliunde, whether oral or written.
The foregoing considerations do not apply where the attestation clause totally omits
the fact that the attesting witnesses signed each and every page of the will in the
presence of the testator and of each other. 35 In such a situation, the defect is not
only in the form or language of the attestation clause but the total absence of a
specific element required by Article 805 to be specifically stated in the attestation
clause of a will. That is precisely the defect complained of in the present case since
there is no plausible way by which we can read into the questioned attestation clause
statement, or an implication thereof, that the attesting witness did actually bear
witness to the signing by the testator of the will and all of its pages and that said
instrumental witnesses also signed the will and every page thereof in the presence of
the testator and of one another.
Furthermore, the rule on substantial compliance in Article 809 cannot be revoked or
relied on by respondents since it presupposes that the defects in the attestation
clause can be cured or supplied by the text of the will or a consideration of matters
apparent therefrom which would provide the data not expressed in the attestation
clause or from which it may necessarily be gleaned or clearly inferred that the acts
not stated in the omitted textual requirements were actually complied within the

execution of the will. In other words, defects must be remedied by intrinsic evidence
supplied by the will itself.
In the case at bar, contrarily, proof of the acts required to have been performed by
the attesting witnesses can be supplied by only extrinsic evidence thereof, since an
overall appreciation of the contents of the will yields no basis whatsoever from with
such facts may be plausibly deduced. What private respondent insists on are the
testimonies of his witnesses alleging that they saw the compliance with such
requirements by the instrumental witnesses, oblivious of the fact that he is thereby
resorting to extrinsic evidence to prove the same and would accordingly be doing by
the indirection what in law he cannot do directly.
4. Prior to the advent of the Civil Code on August 30, 1950, there was a divergence
of views as to which manner of interpretation should be followed in resolving issues
centering on compliance with the legal formalities required in the execution of wills.
The formal requirements were at that time embodied primarily in Section 618 of Act
No. 190, the Code of Civil Procedure. Said section was later amended by Act No.
2645, but the provisions respecting said formalities found in Act. No. 190 and the
amendment thereto were practically reproduced and adopted in the Civil Code.
One view advance the liberal or substantial compliance rule. This was first laid down
in the case of Abangan vs. Abangan, 36 where it was held that the object of the
solemnities surrounding the execution of wills is to close the door against bad faith
and fraud, to avoid substitution of wills and testaments and to guarantee their truth
and authenticity. Therefore, the laws on this subject should be interpreted in such a
way as to attain these primordial ends. Nonetheless, it was also emphasized that
one must not lose sight of the fact that it is not the object of the law to restrain and
curtail the exercise of the right to make a will, hence when an interpretation already
given assures such ends, any other interpretation whatsoever that adds nothing but
demands more requisites entirely unnecessary, useless and frustrative of the
testator's last will, must be disregarded. The subsequent cases of Avera vs.
Garcia, 37 Aldaba vs. Roque, 38 Unson vs. Abella, 39 Pecson vs.
Coronel, 40 Fernandez vs. Vergel de Dios, et al., 41 and Nayve vs. Mojal, et al. 42 all
adhered to this position.
The other view which advocated the rule that statutes which prescribe the formalities
that should be observed in the execution of wills are mandatory in nature and are to
be strictly construed was followed in the subsequent cases of In the Matter of the
Estate of Saguinsin, 43 In re Will of Andrada, 44 Uy Coque vs. Sioca, 45 In re Estate
of Neumark, 46 and Sano vs. Quintana. 47
Gumban vs. Gorecho, et al., 48 provided the Court with the occasion to clarify the
seemingly conflicting decisions in the aforementioned cases. In said case
of Gumban, the attestation clause had failed to state that the witnesses signed the
will and each and every page thereof on the left margin in the presence of the
testator. The will in question was disallowed, with these reasons therefor:
In support of their argument on the assignment of error above-mentioned, appellants
rely on a series of cases of this court beginning with (I)n the Matter of the (E)state of
Saguinsin ([1920], 41 Phil., 875), continuing with In re Will of Andrada [1921], 42

Phil., 180), Uy Coque vs. Navas L. Sioca [1922], 43 Phil., 405), and In re Estate of
Neumark ([1923], 46 Phil., 841), and ending with Sano vs. Quintana([1925], 48 Phil.,
506). Appellee counters with the citation of a series of cases beginning withAbangan
vs. Abangan ([1919], 40 Phil., 476), continuing through Aldaba vs. Roque ([1922], 43
Phil., 378), and Fernandez vs. Vergel de Dios ([1924], 46 Phil., 922), and culminating
in Nayve vs. Mojal and Aguilar ([1924], 47 Phil., 152). In its last analysis, our task is
to contrast and, if possible, conciliate the last two decisions cited by opposing
counsel, namely, those of Sano vs. Quintana,supra, and Nayve vs. Mojal and
Aguilar, supra.
In the case of Sano vs. Quintana, supra, it was decided that an attestation clause
which does not recite that the witnesses signed the will and each and every page
thereof on the left margin in the presence of the testator is defective, and such a
defect annuls the will. The case of Uy Coque vs. Sioca, supra, was cited, but the
case of Nayve vs. Mojal and Aguilar, supra, was not mentioned. In contrast, is the
decision in Nayve vs. Mojal and Aguilar, supra, wherein it was held that the
attestation clause must estate the fact that the testator and the witnesses reciprocally
saw the signing of the will, for such an act cannot be proved by the mere exhibition of
the will, if it is not stated therein. It was also held that the fact that the testator and
the witnesses signed each and every page of the will can be proved also by the mere
examination of the signatures appearing on the document itself, and the omission to
state such evident facts does not invalidate the will.
It is a habit of courts to reaffirm or distinguish previous cases; seldom do they admit
inconsistency in doctrine. Yet here, unless aided impossible to reconcile the Mojal
and Quintana decisions. They are fundamentally at variance. If we rely on one, we
affirm. If we rely on the other, we reverse.
In resolving this puzzling question of authority, three outstanding points may be
mentioned. In the first place, the Mojal, decision was concurred in by only four
members of the court, less than a majority, with two strong dissenting opinions; the
Quintana decision was concurred in by seven members of the court, a clear majority,
with one formal dissent. In the second place, the Mojal decision was promulgated in
December, 1924, while the Quintana decision was promulgated in December, 1925;
the Quintana decision was thus subsequent in point of time. And in the third place,
the Quintana decision is believed more nearly to conform to the applicable provisions
of the law.
The right to dispose of property by will is governed entirely by statute. The law of the
case is here found in section 61 of the Code of Civil Procedure as amended by Act
No. 2645, and in section 634 of the same Code, as unamended. It is in part provided
in section 61, as amended that "No will . . . shall be valid . . . unless . . .." It is further
provided in the same section that "The attestation shall state the number of sheets or
pages used, upon which the will is written, and the fact that the testator signed the
will and every page thereof, or caused some other person to write his name, under
his express direction, in the presence of three witnesses, and the latter witnessed
and signed the will and all pages thereof in the presence of the testator and of each
other." Codal section 634 provides that "The will shall be disallowed in either of the
following case: 1. If not executed and attested as in this Act provided." The law not
alone carefully makes use of the imperative, but cautiously goes further and makes

use of the negative, to enforce legislative intention. It is not within the province of the
courts to disregard the legislative purpose so emphatically and clearly expressed.
We adopt and reaffirm the decision in the case of Sano vs. Quintana, supra, and, to
the extent necessary, modify the decision in the case of Nayve vs. Mojal and
Aguilar, supra. (Emphases in the original text).
But after the Gumban clarificatory pronouncement, there were decisions of the Court
that once more appeared to revive the seeming diversity of views that was earlier
threshed out therein. The cases of Quinto vs. Morata, 49Rodriguez vs.
Alcala, 50 Enchevarria vs. Sarmiento, 51 and Testate Estate of Toray 52 went the
way of the ruling as restated in Gumban. But De Gala vs. Gonzales, et al., 53 Rey
vs. Cartagena, 54 De Ticson vs. De Gorostiza, 55 Sebastian vs.
Panganiban, 56 Rodriguez vs. Yap, 57 Grey vs. Fabia, 58 Leynez vs.
Leynez, 59 Martir vs. Martir, 60 Alcala vs. De Villa, 61Sabado vs.
Fernandez, 62 Mendoza vs. Pilapil, 63 and Lopez vs. Liboro, 64 veered away from
the strict interpretation rule and established a trend toward an application of the
liberal view.
The Code Commission, cognizant of such a conflicting welter of views and of the
undeniable inclination towards a liberal construction, recommended the codification
of the substantial compliance rule, as it believed this rule to be in accord with the
modern tendency to give a liberal approach to the interpretation of wills. Said rule
thus became what is now Article 809 of the Civil Code, with this explanation of the
Code Commission:
The present law provides for only one form of executing a will, and that is, in
accordance with the formalities prescribed by Section 618 of the Code of Civil
Procedure as amended by Act No. 2645. The Supreme Court of the Philippines had
previously upheld the strict compliance with the legal formalities and had even said
that the provisions of Section 618 of the Code of Civil Procedure, as amended
regarding the contents of the attestation clause were mandatory, and noncompliance therewith invalidated the will (Uy Coque vs. Sioca, 43 Phil. 405). These
decisions necessarily restrained the freedom of the testator in disposing of his
property.
However, in recent years the Supreme Court changed its attitude and has become
more liberal in the interpretation of the formalities in the execution of wills. This liberal
view is enunciated in the cases ofRodriguez vs. Yap, G.R. No. 45924, May 18,
1939; Leynez vs. Leynez, G.R. No. 46097, October 18, 1939; Martir vs. Martir, G.R.
No. 46995, June 21, 1940; and Alcala vs. Villa, G.R. No. 47351, April 18, 1941.
In the above mentioned decisions of our Supreme Court, it has practically gone back
to the original provisions of Section 618 of the Code of Civil Procedure before its
amendment by Act No. 2645 in the year 1916. To turn this attitude into a legislative
declaration and to attain the main objective of the proposed Code in the liberalization
of the manner of executing wills, article 829 of the Project is recommended, which
reads:

"Art. 829. In the absence of bad faith, forgery, or fraud, or undue and improper
pressure and influence, defects and imperfections in the form of attestation or in the
language used therein shall not render the will invalid if it is proved that the will was
in fact executed and attested in substantial compliance with all the requirements of
article 829."65
The so-called liberal rule, the Court said in Gil vs. Murciano, 66 "does not offer any
puzzle or difficulty, nor does it open the door to serious consequences. The later
decisions do tell us when and where to stop; they draw the dividing line with
precision. They do not allow evidence aliunde to fill a void in any part of the
document or supply missing details that should appear in the will itself. They only
permit a probe into the will, an exploration into its confines, to ascertain its meaning
or to determine the existence or absence of the requisite formalities of law. This
clear, sharp limitation eliminates uncertainty and ought to banish any fear of dire
results."
It may thus be stated that the rule, as it now stands, is that omissions which can be
supplied by an examination of the will itself, without the need of resorting to extrinsic
evidence, will not be fatal and, correspondingly, would not obstruct the allowance to
probate of the will being assailed. However, those omissions which cannot be
supplied except by evidence aliunde would result in the invalidation of the attestation
clause and ultimately, of the will itself.67
WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby GRANTED and the impugned decision of
respondent court is hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The court a quo is
accordingly directed to forthwith DISMISS its Special Proceeding No. 3899-R
(Petition for the Probate of the Last Will and Testament of Mateo Caballero) and to
REVIVE Special Proceeding No. 3965-R (In the matter of the Intestate Estate of
Mateo Caballero) as an active case and thereafter duly proceed with the settlement
of the estate of the said decedent.
SO ORDERED.

On August 25, 1958, respondent Herminio Maravilla filed with he Court of First
Instance of Negros Occidental a petition for probate of the will (Spec. Proc. No.
4977) of his deceased wife Digna Maravilla who died on August 12 of that same
year. In the will the surviving spouse was named as the universal heir and executor.
On September 30, 1958, Pedro, Asuncion, and Regina Maravilla (brother and sisters
of the deceased Digna Maravilla) filed an opposition to the probate of the will, on the
ground, inter alia, that the will was not signed on each page by the testatrix in the
presence of the attesting witnesses and of one another.
On March 16, 1959, on motion of respondent Herminio, which was opposed by
Pedro, Asuncion, and Regina Maravilla, the court issued an order appointing him
special administrator of the estate of the deceased, for the reason that:
... all the properties subject of the will are conjugal properties of the petitioner and his
late wife, Digna Maravilla, and before any partition of the conjugal property is done,
the Court cannot pinpoint which of the property subject of the Will belongs to Digna
Maravilla, exclusively, that shall be administered by the special administrator. Hence,
although it is true that the petitioner Herminio Maravilla has an adverse interest in the
property subject of the Will, the Court finds it impossible for the present time to
appoint any person other than the petitioner as special administrator of the property
until after the partition is ordered, for the reason that the properties mentioned in the
Will are in the name of the petitioner who is the surviving spouse of the deceased.
On February 8, 1960, the court rendered a decision denying probate of the will, as it
was not duly signed on each page by the testatrix in the presence of the attesting
witnesses and of one another.

EN BANC
G.R. No. L-18799
March 31, 1964
HON. JOSE F. FERNANDEZ, Judge of the Court of First
Instance, Negros Occidental,
ASUNCION MARAVILLA, ET AL., petitioners,
vs.
HERMINIO MARAVILLA, respondent.
Jose Gutierrez David, A. Aveto, A. Mirasol and P. C. Ramos
for petitioners.
Paredes, Poblador, Cruz and Nazareno for respondent.
BARRERA, J.:
Petitioners herein appeal by certiorari from the decision of the Court of Appeals (in
CA-G.R. No. 27200-R) wherein, over their objection, raising the question of
jurisdiction petition, the appellate court took cognizance of the petition
for certiorari and prohibition filed by Herminio Maravilla and, in consequence thereof,
set aside the appointment of petitioner Eliezar Lopez as a special co-administrator of
the estate of the deceased Digna Maravilla. The pertinent antecedent facts are as
follows:

On February 17, 1960, Pedro, Asuncion, and Regina Maravilla, filed with the court a
petition for appointment of Eliezar Lopez (son of Asuncion Maravilla) as special coadministrator to protect their interests, on the ground that the will, having been
denied probate, they are the legal heirs of the decedent. Said petition was heard on
February 20, at which hearing, respondent's counsel orally moved for postponement,
because respondent's principal counsel (Salonga) had not been notified and was not
present. The court ordered presentation of oral evidence, consisting of the
testimonies of Eliezar Lopez, and Regina and Francisco Maravilla.
On February 26, 1960, respondent filed with the court his notice of appeal, appeal
bond and record on appeal, from the decision denying probate of the will. Some
devisees under the will, likewise, appealed from said decision.
On February 25, 1960, Pedro, Asuncion, and Regina Maravilla, filed with the court a
petition for the removal of respondent as special administrator, as he failed to file an
inventory within 3 months from his appointment and qualification as special
administrator, as provided for in Section 1, Rule 84, of the Rules of Court. To this
petition, respondent filed an opposition, on the ground that said provision of the
Rules of Court does not apply to a special administrator, and an inventory had
already been submitted by him, before said petition for his removal was
filed.1wph1.t

On February 27, 1960, the devisees Conchita and Rose Marie Kohlhaas filed with
the court a petition for appointment of Conchita as special co-administratrix. Devisee
Adelina Sajo, likewise, filed a similar petition February 29.

Petitioners claim that the Court of Appeals had no jurisdiction to issue the writs
of certiorari and prohibition prayed for by respondent, the same not being in aid of its
appellate jurisdiction.

On March 5, 1960, the court held a joint hearing the (1) petition to appoint Eliezar
Lopez as special administrator, (2) approval of respondent's record appeal and
appeal bond, (3) petition to remove respondent as special administrator, (4) petition
to appoint Conchita Kohlhaas as special co-administratrix, and (5) petition to appoint
Adelina Sajo as special co-administrator. At said hearing, respondent objected to the
appointment of Eliezar Lopez was special co-administratrix, on grounds that (a) the
law allows only one special co-administrator (b) the order of March 16, 1959 estops
the court from appointing Eliezar Lopez as special co-administrator (c) such
appointment is unfair to respondent, because owns at least 3/4 of the whole property,
conjugal nature, which would be subjected to the administrate of a stranger, and (d)
a deadlock between two special administrators would ruin the management of the
property, including those of respondent. On cross-examination of Eliezar Lopez,
respondent's counsel elicited the facts that (1) Lopez was employed full time in the
PCAPE, with office in Manila. and could not discharge the functions of a coadministrator, and (2) there was merely intention on Lopez part to resign from office.

We agree with petitioners. The Court of Appeals, in the decision appealed from,
assumed jurisdiction over the present case on the theory that "the amount in
controversy relative to the appointment of Eliezar Lopez as special co-administrator
to protect the interests of respondents (herein petitioners) is only P90,000.00 more or
less, i.e., one fourth of the conjugal property" (of respondent and the deceased Digna
Maravilla) which, is per inventory submitted by respondent as special administrator is
valued at P362,424.90. This theory is untenable. Note that the proceedings had on
the appointment of Eliezar Lopez as special co-administrator are merely incidental to
the probate or testate proceedings of the deceased Digna Maravilla presently on
appeal before the Court of Appeals (CA-G.R. No. 27478-R) where petitioners' motion
to elevate the same to the Supreme Court, on the ground that the amount herein
involved is within the latter's exclusive jurisdiction, is still pending, resolution. That
the Court of Appeals has no appellate jurisdiction over said testate proceedings
cannot be doubted, considering that the properties therein involved are valued at
P362,424,90, as per inventory of the special administrator.

After said joint hearing, the court appointed Eliezar Lopez as special co-administrator
in an order dictated open court, to protect the interests of Pedro, Asuncion and
Regina Maravilla.

Under Section 2, Rule 75, of the Rules of Court, the property to be administered and
liquidated in testate or intestate proceedings of the deceased spouse is, not only that
part of the conjugal estate pertaining to the deceased spouse, but the entire conjugal
estate. This Court has already held that even if the deceased had left no debts, upon
the dissolution of the marriage by the death of the husband or wife, the community
property shall be inventoried, administered, and liquidated in the testate or intestate
proceedings of the deceased spouse (Vda. de Roxas v. Pecson, et al., L-2211,
December 20, 1948; 82 Phil. 407; see also Vda. de Chantengco v. Chantengco, et
al., L-10663, October 31, 1958). In a number of cases where appeal was taken from
an order of a probate court disallowing a will, this Court, in effect, recognized that the
amount or value involved or in controversy therein is that of the entire estate (Suntay
v. Suntay, L-3087, July 31, 1954, 50 O.G. 5321; Vano v. Vda. de Garces, et al., L6303, June 30, 1954, 50 O.G. 3045). Not having appellate jurisdiction over the
proceedings in probate (CA-G.R. No. 27478-R), considering that the amount
involved therein is more than P200,000.00, the Court of Appeals cannot also have
original jurisdiction to grant the writs of certiorari and prohibition prayed for by
respondent in the instant case, which are merely incidental thereto.

From this order, respondent, on March 7, 1960, filed with the Court of Appeals a
petition for certiorari and prohibition (with prayer for preliminary injunction) to annul
the order appointing Eliezar Lopez as special co-administrator, and to prohibit the
probate court from further proceeding with the petition for the removal of respondent
as special administrator. The Court of Appeals issued a writ of preliminary injunction
on March 9, 1960 which was amended on March 11, 1960 to make it more specific.
On October 6, 1960, petitioners Regina Maravilla, et al. filed with the Court of
Appeals a petition to certify the case to the Supreme Court, on the grounds that the
principal amount in controversy in this case exceeds P200,000.00, and the writs
(of certiorari and prohibition) prayed for are not in aid of appellate jurisdiction of the
Court of Appeals, since the probate case is not on appeal before it. To this petition,
respondent filed an opposition. on the grounds that the amount in controversy is less
than P200,000.00 and the decision of the probate court (of February 8, 1960) is now
on appeal before the Court of Appeals (CA-G.R. No. 27478-R); hence, the writ
prayed for is in aid of its appellate jurisdiction, and the present case does not involve
title to or possession of real estate exceeding in value P200,000.00.1
On May 16, 1961, the Court of Appeals rendered a decision granting the writs
(certiorari and prohibition) prayed for by respondent, and declaring null and void the
appointment of Eliezar Lopez as special co-administrator.
Petitioners Regina Maravilla, et al. filed a motion for reconsideration of said decision,
but it was denied by the Court of Appeals. Hence, this appeal.

In the United States, the rule is that "proceedings in probate are appealable where
the amount or value involved is reducible to a pecuniary standard, the amount
involved being either the appellant's interest or the value of the entire estate
according as the issues on appeal involve only the appellant's rights or the entire
administration of the estate. ... In a contest for administration of an estate the amount
or value of the assets of the estate is the amount in controversy for purposes of
appeal." (4 C.J.S. 204). In line with this ruling, it is to be observed that respondent's
interest as appellant in the probate proceedings (CA-G.R. No. 27478-R) is, according
to his theory, the whole estate amounting to P362,424.90, or, at least more than 3/4
thereof, or approximately P270,000.00. Such interest, reduced to a pecuniary
standard on the basis of the inventory, is the amount or value of the matter in
controversy, and such amount being more than P200,000.00, it follows that the
appeal taken in said proceedings falls within the exclusive jurisdiction of the

Supreme Court and should, therefore, be certified to it pursuant to Section 17 of the


Judiciary Act of 1948, as amended.
Note also that the present proceedings under review were for the annulment of the
appointment of Eliezar Lopez as special co-administrator and to restrain the probate
court from removing respondent as special administrator. It is therefore, a contest for
the administration of the estate and, consequently, the amount or value of the assets
of the whole estate is the value in controversy (4 C.J.S. 204). It appearing that the
value of the estate in dispute is much more than P200,000.00, the Court of Appeals
clearly had no original jurisdiction to issue the writs in question.
The Court of Appeals, in the decision appealed from, arrived at the amount of
"P90,000.00 more or less", as the amount involved in the case, upon authority of the
case of Vistan v. Archbishop (73 Phil. 20). But this case is inapplicable, as it does not
refer to the question of administration of the estate, nor to an order denying probate
of a will, but only to the recovery of a particular legacy consisting of the rentals of a
fishpond belonging to the estate. In an analogous case involving the administration
of a trust fund, the United States Supreme Court held:
Where the trust fund administered and ordered to be distributed by the circuit court,
in a suit to compel the stockholders of a corporation to pay their subscriptions to
stock to realize the fund, amounts to more than $5,000.00, this court has jurisdiction
of the appeal, which is not affected by the fact that the amounts decreed to some of
the creditors are less than that sum (Handly et al. vs. Stutz, et al., 34 Law Ed. 706).
Respondent also contends that appeals in special proceedings, as distinguished
from ordinary civil cases, are within the exclusive appellate jurisdiction of the Court of
Appeals, since they are not enumerated in Section 17 of the Judiciary Act, as
amended. Granting, arguendo, that a special proceeding is not a civil action, it has
never been decided that a special proceeding is not a "civil case" (Carpenter v.
Jones, 121 Cal. 362; 58 p. 842). On the other hand, it has been held that the term
"civil case" includes special proceedings (Herkimer v. Keeler, 100 Iowa 680, N.W.
178). Moreover, Section 2, Rule 73, of the Rules of Court provides that the rules on
ordinary civil actions are applicable in special proceedings where they are not
inconsistent with, or when they may serve to supplement the provisions relating to
special proceedings. Consequently, the procedure of appeal is the same in civil
actions as in special proceedings. (See Moran's Comments on the Rules of Court,
Vol. II, 1957 Ed., p. 326.)
The cases cited by respondent where this Court ruled that the separate total claim of
the parties and not the combined claims against each other determine the appellate
jurisdictional amount, are not applicable to, the instant case, because Section 2, Rule
75 of the Rules of Court is explicit that the amount or value involved or in controversy
in probate proceedings is that of the entire estate. Assuming, arguendo, that the rule
in the cases cited by respondent is here applicable, it should be noted that
respondent claims the whole estate of at least more than 3/4 thereof. Said claim,
reduced to a pecuniary standard, on the basis of the inventory, would amount to
more than P200,000.00 and, consequently, within the exclusive jurisdiction of the
Supreme Court.

The case of Ledesma v. Natividad (L-6115, May 10, 1954) cited by respondent in his
brief, is also inapplicable, because unlike the instant case, it did not involve a contest
in the administration of the estate.
While it is true that questions of fact have been raised in the probate proceedings
(Spec. Proc. No. 4977, CFI of Negros Occidental) which was appealed by
respondent to the Court of Appeals, it becomes immaterial, in view of Sections 17
and 31 of the Judiciary Act of 1948, as amended, providing that the Supreme Court
shall have exclusive appellate jurisdiction over "all cases in which the value in
controversy exceeds two hundred thousand pesos, exclusive of interests and costs",
and that "all cases which may be erroneously brought to the Supreme Court, or to
the Court of Appeals shall be sent to the proper court, which shall hear the same as if
it had originally been brought before it".
On the question of the appointment of petitioner Eliezar Lopez as special
administrator, we agree with respondent that there was no need for it. Note that the
Rules of Court contain no provision on special co-administrator, the reason being,
that the appointment of such special administrator is merely temporary and subsists
only until a regular executor or administrator is duly appointed. Thus, it would not
only be unnecessary but also impractical, if for the temporary duration of the need for
a special administrator, another one is appointed aside from the husband, in this
case, upon whom the duty to liquidate the community property devolves merely to
protect the interests of petitioners who, in the event that the disputed will is allowed
to probate, would even have no right to participate in the proceedings at all. (Roxas
v. Pecson, 82 Phil. 407.)
In view of the conclusion herein reached, in connection with the amount involved in
the controversy, it is suggested that appropriate steps be taken on the appeal
pending in the Court of Appeals involving the probate of the will (CA-G.R. No. 27478R) to comply with the provisions of the Judiciary Act on the matter.
WHEREFORE, the decision of the Court of Appeals of May 16, 1961 is set aside and
another one entered also setting aside the order of the trial court of March 5, 1960,
appointing Eliezar Lopez as special co-administrator. Without costs. So ordered.

probate in the RTC QC. Respondent Bihis opposed her el


der sister'spetition on the following grounds: the will
was not executed and attested as required by law; its
attestation clause and acknowledgment did not comply
with the requirements of the law; the signature of the
testatrix was procured by fraud and petitioner and her
children procured the will through undue and improper
pressure and influence. Petitioner Guerrero was
appointees special administratrix. Respondent opposed
petitioner's appointment but subsequently withdrew
her opposition. The trial court denied the probate of the
will ruling that Article 806 of the Civil Code was not
complied with because the will was "acknowledged" by
the testatrix and the witnesses at the testatrix's
residence at No. 40 Kanlaon Street, Quezon City before
Atty. Macario O. Directo who was a commissioned
notary public for and in Caloocan City.
BELLA A. GUERRERO, petitioner, vs. RESURRECCION
BIHIS, respondent.

G.R. No. 174144

April 17, 2007 FIRST


DIVISION

ISSUE:
Whether or not the will acknowledged by the
testator and the instrumental witnesses before a notary
public acting outside the place of his commission is in
compliance with the requirement prescribed under
Article 806 of the Civil Code.
RULING:

PONENTE: CORONA, J.:

FACTS:
Felisa Tamio de Buenaventura, mother of
petitioner
Bella
A.
Guerrero
and
respondentResurreccion A. Bihis, died. Guerrero filed for

No. One of the formalities required by law in


connection with the execution of a notarial will is that it
must be acknowledged before a notary public by the
testator and the witnesses. This formal requirement is
one of the indispensable requisites for the validity of a
will. In other words, a notarial will that is not
acknowledged before a notary public by the testator

and the instrumental witnesses is void and cannot be


accepted for probate.
The Notarial law provides: SECTION 240.Territorial
jurisdiction. The jurisdiction of a notary public in a
province shall be co-extensive with the province. The
jurisdiction of a notary public in the City of Manila shall
be co-extensive with said city. No notary shall possess
authority to do any notarial act beyond the limits of his
jurisdiction. The compulsory language of Article 806 of
the Civil Code was not complied with and the
interdiction of Article 240 of the Notarial Law was
breached. Thus, the testratix and the instrumental
witnesses could not have validly acknowledged the will
before him. As such, Felisa Tamio de Buenaventuras
last will and testament was, in effect, not acknowledged
as required by law.

FIRST DIVISION
G.R. No. L-32213 November 26, 1973
AGAPITA N. CRUZ, petitioner,
vs.
HON. JUDGE GUILLERMO P. VILLASOR, Presiding Judge of Branch I,
Court of First Instance of Cebu, and MANUEL B.
LUGAY, respondents.
Paul G. Gorrez for petitioner.
Mario D. Ortiz for respondent Manuel B. Lugay.
ESGUERRA, J.:
Petition to review on certiorari the judgment of the Court First Instance of Cebu
allowing the probate of the last will a testament of the late Valente Z. Cruz.
Petitioner-appellant Agapita N. Cruz, the surviving spouse of the said decease
opposed the allowance of the will (Exhibit "E"), alleging the will was executed
through fraud, deceit, misrepresentation and undue influence; that the said
instrument was execute without the testator having been fully informed of the content
thereof, particularly as to what properties he was disposing and that the supposed

last will and testament was not executed in accordance with law. Notwithstanding her
objection, the Court allowed the probate of the said last will and testament Hence
this appeal by certiorari which was given due course.
The only question presented for determination, on which the decision of the case
hinges, is whether the supposed last will and testament of Valente Z. Cruz (Exhibit
"E") was executed in accordance with law, particularly Articles 805 and 806 of the
new Civil Code, the first requiring at least three credible witnesses to attest and
subscribe to the will, and the second requiring the testator and the witnesses to
acknowledge the will before a notary public.
Of the three instrumental witnesses thereto, namely Deogracias T. Jamaloas Jr., Dr.
Francisco Paares and Atty. Angel H. Teves, Jr., one of them, the last named, is at
the same time the Notary Public before whom the will was supposed to have been
acknowledged. Reduced to simpler terms, the question was attested and subscribed
by at least three credible witnesses in the presence of the testator and of each other,
considering that the three attesting witnesses must appear before the notary public
to acknowledge the same. As the third witness is the notary public himself, petitioner
argues that the result is that only two witnesses appeared before the notary public to
acknowledge the will. On the other hand, private respondent-appellee, Manuel B.
Lugay, who is the supposed executor of the will, following the reasoning of the trial
court, maintains that there is substantial compliance with the legal requirement of
having at least three attesting witnesses even if the notary public acted as one of
them, bolstering up his stand with 57 American Jurisprudence, p. 227 which, insofar
as pertinent, reads as follows:
It is said that there are, practical reasons for upholding a will as against the purely
technical reason that one of the witnesses required by law signed as certifying to an
acknowledgment of the testator's signature under oath rather than as attesting the
execution of the instrument.
After weighing the merits of the conflicting claims of the parties, We are inclined to
sustain that of the appellant that the last will and testament in question was not
executed in accordance with law. The notary public before whom the will was
acknowledged cannot be considered as the third instrumental witness since he
cannot acknowledge before himself his having signed the will. To acknowledge
before means to avow (Javellana v. Ledesma, 97 Phil. 258, 262; Castro v. Castro,
100 Phil. 239, 247); to own as genuine, to assent, to admit; and "before" means in
front or preceding in space or ahead of. (The New Webster Encyclopedic Dictionary
of the English Language, p. 72; Funk & Wagnalls New Standard Dictionary of the
English Language, p. 252; Webster's New International Dictionary 2d. p. 245.)
Consequently, if the third witness were the notary public himself, he would have to
avow assent, or admit his having signed the will in front of himself. This cannot be
done because he cannot split his personality into two so that one will appear before
the other to acknowledge his participation in the making of the will. To permit such a
situation to obtain would be sanctioning a sheer absurdity.
Furthermore, the function of a notary public is, among others, to guard against any
illegal or immoral arrangement Balinon v. De Leon, 50 0. G. 583.) That function
would defeated if the notary public were one of the attesting instrumental witnesses.
For them he would be interested sustaining the validity of the will as it directly
involves him and the validity of his own act. It would place him in inconsistent
position and the very purpose of acknowledgment, which is to minimize fraud (Report
of Code Commission p. 106-107), would be thwarted.
Admittedly, there are American precedents holding that notary public may, in
addition, act as a witness to the executive of the document he has notarized.
(Mahilum v. Court Appeals, 64 0. G. 4017; 17 SCRA 482; Sawyer v. Cox, 43 Ill. 130).

There are others holding that his signing merely as notary in a will nonetheless
makes him a witness thereon (Ferguson v. Ferguson, 47 S. E. 2d. 346; In Re
Douglas Will, N. Y. S. 2d. 641; Ragsdal v. Hill, 269 S. W. 2d. 911, Tyson Utterback,
122 So. 496; In Re Baybee's Estate 160 N. 900; W. Merill v. Boal, 132 A. 721;See
also Trenwith v. Smallwood, 15 So. 1030). But these authorities do not serve the
purpose of the law in this jurisdiction or are not decisive of the issue herein because
the notaries public and witnesses referred to aforecited cases merely acted as
instrumental, subscribing attesting witnesses, and not as acknowledging witnesses.
He the notary public acted not only as attesting witness but also acknowledging
witness, a situation not envisaged by Article 805 of the Civil Code which reads:
ART. 806. Every will must be acknowledged before a notary public by the testator
and the witnesses. The notary public shall not be required to retain a copy of the will
or file another with the office of the Clerk of Court. [Emphasis supplied]
To allow the notary public to act as third witness, or one the attesting and
acknowledging witnesses, would have the effect of having only two attesting
witnesses to the will which would be in contravention of the provisions of Article 80
be requiring at least three credible witnesses to act as such and of Article 806 which
requires that the testator and the required number of witnesses must appear before
the notary public to acknowledge the will. The result would be, as has been said, that
only two witnesses appeared before the notary public for or that purpose. In the
circumstances, the law would not be duly in observed.
FOR ALL THE FOREGOING, the judgment appealed from is hereby reversed and
the probate of the last will and testament of Valente Z. Cruz (Exhibit "E") is declared
not valid and hereby set aside.
Cost against the appellee.

FIRST DIVISION
G.R. No. L-37453 May 25, 1979
RIZALINA GABRIEL GONZALES, petitioner,
vs.
HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS and LUTGARDA
SANTIAGO, respondents.
Francisco D. Rilloraza, Jr. for petitioners.
Angel A. Sison for private respondent.
GUERRERO, J.:
This is a petition for review of the decision of the Court of Appeals, First
Division, 1 promulgated on May 4, 1973 in CA G.R. No. 36523-R which reversed the
decision of the Court of First Instance of Rizal dated December 15, 1964 and allowed
the probate of the last will and testament of the deceased Isabel Gabriel. *

It appears that on June 24, 1961, herein private respondent Lutgarda Santiago filed
a petition with the Court of First Instance of Rizal docketed as Special Proceedings
No. 3617, for the probate of a will alleged to have been executed by the deceased
Isabel Gabriel and designating therein petitioner as the principal beneficiary and
executrix.
There is no dispute in the records that the late Isabel Andres Gabriel died as a widow
and without issue in the municipality of Navotas, province of Rizal her place of
residence, on June 7, 1961 at the age of eighty-five (85), having been born in 1876.
It is likewise not controverted that herein private respondent Lutgarda Santiago and
petitioner Rizalina Gabriel Gonzales are nieces of the deceased, and that private
respondent, with her husband and children, lived with the deceased at the latters
residence prior an- d up to the time of her death.
The will submitted for probate, Exhibit "F", which is typewritten and in Tagalog,
appears to have been executed in Manila on the 15th day of April, 1961, or barely
two (2) months prior to the death of Isabel Gabriel. It consists of five (5) pages,
including the pages whereon the attestation clause and the acknowledgment of the
notary public were written. The signatures of the deceased Isabel Gabriel appear at
the end of the will on page four and at the left margin of all the pages. The attestation
clause, which is found on page four, reads as follows:
PATUNAY NG MGA SAKSI
Kaming mga nakalagdang mga saksi o testigo na ang aming mga tinitirahan ay
nakasulat sa gawing kanan at kahilira ng aming mga pangalan sa ibaba nito, ay
pagpapatutuo na ipinakilala ipinaalam at ipinahayag sa amin ni Isabel Gabriel na ang
kasulatang ito na binubuo ng Limang Dahon (Five Pages) pati na ang dahong ito, na
siya niyang TESTAMENTO AT HULING HABILIN, ngayong ika 15 ng Abril, 1961, ay
nilagdaan ng nasabing testadora na si Isabel Gabriel ang nasabing testamento sa
ibaba o ilalim ng kasulatan na nasa ika apat na dahon (page four) at nasa itaas ng
patunay naming ito, at sa kaliwang panig ng lahat at bawat dahon (and on the left
hand margin of each and every page), sa harap ng lahat at bawat isa sa amin, at
kami namang mga saksi ay lumagda sa harap ng nasabing testadora, at sa harap ng
lahat at bawat isa sa amin, sa ilalim ng patunay ng mga saksi at sa kaliwang panig
ng lahat at bawa't dahon ng testamentong ito.
At the bottom thereof, under the heading "Pangalan", are written the signatures of
Matilde D. Orobia, Celso D. Gimpaya and Maria R. Gimpaya, and opposite the
same, under the heading "Tirahan", are their respective places of residence, 961
Highway 54, Philamlife, for Miss Orobia, and 12 Dagala St., Navotas, Rizal, for the
two Gimpayas. Their signatures also appear on the left margin of all the other pages.
The WW is paged by typewritten words as follows: "Unang Dahon" and underneath
"(Page One)", "Ikalawang Dahon" and underneath "(Page Two)", etc., appearing at
the top of each page.
The will itself provides that the testatrix desired to be buried in the Catholic Cemetery
of Navotas, Rizal in accordance with the rites of the Roman Catholic Church, all
expenses to be paid from her estate; that all her obligations, if any, be paid; that
legacies in specified amounts be given to her sister, Praxides Gabriel Vda. de

Santiago, her brother Santiago Gabriel, and her nephews and nieces, Benjamin,
Salud, Rizalina (herein petitioner), Victoria, Ester, Andres, all surnamed Gabriel, and
Evangeline, Rudyardo Rosa, Andrea, Marcial, Numancia, Verena an surnamed
Santiago. To herein private respondent Lutgarda Santiago, who was described in the
will by the testatrix as "aking mahal na pamangkin na aking pinalaki, inalagaan at
minahal na katulad ng isang tunay na anak" and named as universal heir and
executor, were bequeathed all properties and estate, real or personal already
acquired, or to be acquired, in her testatrix name, after satisfying the expenses,
debts and legacies as aforementioned.

From this judgment of disallowance, Lutgarda Santiago appealed to respondent


Court, hence, the only issue decided on appeal was whether or not the will in
question was executed and attested as required by law. The Court of Appeals, upon
consideration of the evidence adduced by both parties, rendered the decision now
under review, holding that the will in question was signed and executed by the
deceased Isabel Gabriel on April 15, 1961 in the presence of the three attesting
witnesses, Matilde Orobia, Celso Gimpaya and Maria Gimpaya, signing and
witnessing the document in the presence of the deceased and of each other as
required by law, hence allow ed probate.

The petition was opposed by Rizalina Gabriel Gonzales, herein petitioner, assailing
the document purporting to be the will of the deceased on the following grounds:

Oppositor Rizalina Gabriel Gonzales moved for reconsideration 3 of the aforesaid


decision and such motion was opposed 4 by petitioner-appellant Lutgarda Santiago.
Thereafter. parties submitted their respective Memoranda, 5 and on August 28, 1973,
respondent Court, Former Special First Division, by Resolution 6 denied the motion
for reconsideration stating that:

1. that the same is not genuine; and in the alternative


2. that the same was not executed and attested as required by law;
3. that, at the time of the alleged execution of the purported wilt the decedent lacked
testamentary capacity due to old age and sickness; and in the second alternative
4. That the purported WW was procured through undue and improper pressure and
influence on the part of the principal beneficiary, and/or of some other person for her
benefit.
Lutgarda Santiago filed her Answer to the Opposition on February 1, 1962. After trial,
the court a quo rendered judgment, the summary and dispositive portions of which
read:
Passing in summary upon the grounds advanced by the oppositor, this Court finds:
1. That there is no iota of evidence to support the contentio that the purported will of
the deceased was procured through undue and improper pressure and influence on
the part of the petitioner, or of some other person for her benefit;
2. That there is insufficient evidence to sustain the contention that at the time of the
alleged execution of the purported will, the deceased lacked testamentary capacity
due to old age and sickness;

The oppositor-appellee contends that the preponderance of evidence shows that the
supposed last wig and testament of Isabel Gabriel was not executed in accordance
with law because the same was signed on several occasions, that the testatrix did
not sign the will in the presence of all the instrumental witnesses did not sign the will
in the presence of each other.
The resolution of the factual issue raised in the motion for reconsideration hinges on
the appreciation of the evidence. We have carefully re-examined the oral and
documentary evidence of record, There is no reason to alter the findings of fact in the
decision of this Court sought to be set aside. 7
In her petition before this Court, oppositor Rizalina Gabriel Gonzales contends that
respondent Court abused its discretion and/or acted without or in excess of its
jurisdiction in reverssing the findings of fact and conclusions of the trial court. The
Court, after deliberating on the petition but without giving due course resolved, in the
Resolution dated Oct. 11, 1973 to require the respondents to comment thereon,
which comment was filed on Nov. 14, 1973. Upon consideration of the allegations,
the issues raised and the arguments adduced in the petition, as well as the
Comment 8 of private respondent thereon, We denied the petition by Resolution on
November 26, 1973, 9 the question raised being factual and for insufficient showing
that the findings of fact by respondent Court were unsupported by substantial
evidence.

3. That sufficient and abundant evidence warrants conclusively the fact that the
purported will of the deceased was not executed and attested as required by law;

Subsequently, or on December 17, 1973, petitioner Rim Gabriel Goes fried a Motion
for Reconsideration 10 which private respondent answered by way of her Comment
or Opposition 11 filed on January 15, 1974. A Reply and Rejoinder to Reply followed.
Finally, on March 27, 1974, We resolved to give due course to the petition.

4. That the evidence is likewise conclusive that the document presented for probate,
Exhibit 'F' is not the purported win allegedly dictated by the deceased, executed and
signed by her, and attested by her three attesting witnesses on April 15, 1961.

The petitioner in her brief makes the following assignment of errors:

WHEREFORE, Exhibit "F", the document presented for probate as the last wig and
testament of the deceased Isabel Gabriel is here by DISALLOWED.

I. The respondent Court of Appeals erred in holding that the document, Exhibit "F"
was executed and attested as required by law when there was absolutely no proof
that the three instrumental witnesses were credible witness

II. The Court of Appeals erred in reversing the finding of the lower court that the
preparation and execution of the win Exhibit "F", was unexpected and coincidental.
III. The Court of Appeals erred in finding that Atty, Paraiso was not previously
furnished with the names and residence certificates of the witnesses as to enable
him to type such data into the document Exhibit "F".
IV. The Court of Appeals erred in holding that the fact that the three typewritten lines
under the typewritten words "Pangalan" and "Tinitirahan" were left blank shows
beyond cavil that the three attesting witnesses were all present in the same
occasion.

... from Guico v. Mayuga, a 1936 decision, the opinion being penned by the then
Justice Recto, it has been well-settled that the jurisdiction of tills Court in cases
brought to us from the Court of Appeals is limited to reviewing and revising the errors
of law imputed to it, its findings of fact being conclusive. More specifically, in a
decision exactly a month later, this Court, speaking through the then Justice Laurel, it
was held that the same principle is applicable, even if the Court of Appeals was in
disagreement with the lower court as to the weight of the evidence with a consequent
reversal of its findings of fact ...

VI. The Court of Appeals erred in reversing the finding of the trial court that Matilde
Orobia was not physically present when the Will Exhibit "F" was allegedly signed on
April 15, 1961 by the deceased Isabel Gabriel and the other witnesses Celso
Gimpaya and Maria Gimpaya.

Stated otherwise, findings of facts by the Court of Appeals, when supported by


substantive evidence are not reviewable on appeal by certiorari. Said findings of the
appellate court are final and cannot be disturbed by Us particularly because its
premises are borne out by the record or based upon substantial evidence and what
is more, when such findings are correct. Assignments of errors involving factual
issues cannot be ventilated in a review of the decision of the Court of Appeals
because only legal questions may be raised. The Supreme Court is not at liberty to
alter or modify the facts as set forth in the decision of the Court of Appeals sought to
be reversed. Where the findings of the Court of Appeals are contrary to those of the
trial court, a minute scrutiny by the Supreme Court is in order, and resort to dulyproven evidence becomes necessary. The general rule We have thus stated above is
not without some recognized exceptions.

VII. The Court of Appeals erred in holding that the trial court gave undue importance
to the picture takings as proof that the win was improperly executed.

Having laid down the above legal precepts as Our foundation, We now proceed to
consider petitioner's assignments of errors.

VIII. The Court of Appeals erred in holding that the grave contradictions, evasions,
and misrepresentations of witnesses (subscribing and notary) presented by the
petitioner had been explained away, and that the trial court erred in rejecting said
testimonies.

Petitioner, in her first assignment, contends that the respondent Court of Appeals
erred in holding that the document, Exhibit "F", was executed and attested as
required by law when there was absolutely no proof that the three instrumental
witnesses were credible witnesses. She argues that the require. ment in Article 806,
Civil Code, that the witnesses must be credible is an absolute requirement which
must be complied with before an alleged last will and testament may be admitted to
probate and that to be a credible witness, there must be evidence on record that the
witness has a good standing in his community, or that he is honest and upright, or
reputed to be trustworthy and reliable. According to petitioner, unless the
qualifications of the witness are first established, his testimony may not be favorably
considered. Petitioner contends that the term "credible" is not synonymous with
"competent" for a witness may be competent under Article 820 and 821 of the Civil
Code and still not be credible as required by Article 805 of the same Code. It is
further urged that the term "credible" as used in the Civil Code should receive the
same settled and well- known meaning it has under the Naturalization Law, the latter
being a kindred legislation with the Civil Code provisions on wigs with respect to the
qualifications of witnesses.

V. The Court of Appeals erred in reversing the trial court's finding that it was
incredible that Isabel Gabriel could have dictated the wilt Exhibit "F , without any note
or document, to Atty. Paraiso.

IX. The Court of Appeals acted in excess of its appellate jurisdiction or has so far
departed from the accepted and usual course of judicial proceedings, as to call for an
exercise of the power of supervision.
X. The Court of Appeals erred in reversing the decision of the trial court and
admitting to probate Exhibit "F", the alleged last will and testament of the deceased
Isabel Gabriel.
It will be noted from the above assignments of errors that the same are substantially
factual in character and content. Hence, at the very outset, We must again state the
oft-repeated and well-established rule that in this jurisdiction, the factual findings of
the Court of Appeals are not reviewable, the same being binding and conclusive on
this Court. This rule has been stated and reiterated in a long line of cases
enumerated in Chan vs. CA (L-27488, June 30, 1970, 33 SCRA 737,
743) 12 and Tapas vs. CA (L-22202, February 27; 1976, 69 SCRA 393), 13 and in
the more recent cases of Baptisia vs. Carillo and CA (L32192, July 30, 1976, 72
SCRA 214, 217) and Vda. de Catindig vs. Heirs of Catalina Roque (L-25777,
November 26, 1976, 74 SCRA 83, 88). In the case of Chan vs. CA, this Court said:

We find no merit to petitioner's first assignment of error. Article 820 of the Civil Code
provides the qualifications of a witness to the execution of wills while Article 821 sets
forth the disqualification from being a witness to a win. These Articles state:
Art. 820. Any person of sound mind and of the age of eighteen years or more, and
not blind, deaf or dumb, and able to read and write, may be a witness to the

execution of a will mentioned in article 806 of this Code. "Art. 821. The following are
disqualified from being witnesses to a will:

the said witnesses, much less has it been shown that anyone of them is below 18
years of age, of unsound mind, deaf or dumb, or cannot read or write.

(1) Any person not domiciled in the Philippines,

It is true that under Article 805 of the New Civil Code, every will, other than a
holographic will, must be subscribed at the end thereof by the testator himself or by
the testator's name written by some other person in his presence, and by his express
direction, and attested and subscribed by three or more credible witnesses in the
presence of the testator and of one another, While the petitioner submits that Article
820 and 821 of the New Civil Code speak of the competency of a witness due to his
qualifications under the first Article and none of the disqualifications under the
second Article, whereas Article 805 requires the attestation of three or more credible
witnesses, petitioner concludes that the term credible requires something more than
just being competent and, therefore, a witness in addition to being competent under
Articles 820 and 821 must also be a credible witness under Article 805.

(2) Those who have been convicted of falsification of a document, perjury or false
testimony.
Under the law, there is no mandatory requirement that the witness testify initially or at
any time during the trial as to his good standing in the community, his reputation for
trustworthythiness and reliableness, his honesty and uprightness in order that his
testimony may be believed and accepted by the trial court. It is enough that the
qualifications enumerated in Article 820 of the Civil Code are complied with, such
that the soundness of his mind can be shown by or deduced from his answers to the
questions propounded to him, that his age (18 years or more) is shown from his
appearance, testimony , or competently proved otherwise, as well as the fact that he
is not blind, deaf or dumb and that he is able to read and write to the satisfaction of
the Court, and that he has none of the disqualifications under Article 821 of the Civil
Code. We reject petitioner's contention that it must first be established in the record
the good standing of the witness in the community, his reputation for trustworthiness
and reliableness, his honesty and uprightness, because such attributes are
presumed of the witness unless the contrary is proved otherwise by the opposing
party.
We also reject as without merit petitioner's contention that the term "credible" as
used in the Civil Code should be given the same meaning it has under the
Naturalization Law where the law is mandatory that the petition for naturalization
must be supported by two character witnesses who must prove their good standing
in the community, reputation for trustworthiness and reliableness, their honesty and
uprightness. The two witnesses in a petition for naturalization are character
witnesses in that being citizens of the Philippines, they personally know the petitioner
to be a resident of the Philippines for the period of time required by the Act and a
person of good repute and morally irreproachable and that said petitioner has in their
opinion all the qualifications necessary to become a citizen of the Philippines and is
not in any way disqualified under the provisions of the Naturalization Law (Section 7,
Commonwealth Act No. 473 as amended).
In probate proceedings, the instrumental witnesses are not character witnesses for
they merely attest the execution of a will or testament and affirm the formalities
attendant to said execution. And We agree with the respondent that the rulings laid
down in the cases cited by petitioner concerning character witnesses in
naturalization proceedings are not applicable to instrumental witnesses to wills
executed under the Civil Code of the Philippines.
In the case at bar, the finding that each and everyone of the three instrumental
witnesses, namely, Matilde Orobia, Celso Gimpaya and Maria Gimpaya, are
competent and credible is satisfactorily supported by the evidence as found by the
respondent Court of Appeals, which findings of fact this Tribunal is bound to accept
and rely upon. Moreover, petitioner has not pointed to any disqualification of any of

Petitioner cites American authorities that competency and credibility of a witness are
not synonymous terms and one may be a competent witness and yet not a credible
one. She exacerbates that there is no evidence on record to show that the
instrumental witnesses are credible in themselves, that is, that they are of good
standing in the community since one was a family driver by profession and the
second the wife of the driver, a housekeeper. It is true that Celso Gimpaya was the
driver of the testatrix and his wife Maria Gimpaya, merely a housekeeper, and that
Matilde Orobia was a piano teacher to a grandchild of the testatrix But the relation of
employer and employee much less the humble or financial position of a person do
not disqualify him to be a competent testamentary witness. (Molo Pekson and Perez
Nable vs. Tanchuco, et al., 100 Phil. 344; Testate Estate of Raymundo, Off. Gaz.,
March 18,1941, p. 788).
Private respondent maintains that the qualifications of the three or more credible
witnesses mentioned in Article 805 of the Civil Code are those mentioned in Article
820 of the same Code, this being obvious from that portion of Article 820 which says
"may be Q witness to the execution of a will mentioned in Article 805 of this Code,"
and cites authorities that the word "credible" insofar as witnesses to a will are
concerned simply means " competent." Thus, in the case of Suntay vs. Suntay, 95
Phil. 500, the Supreme Court held that "Granting that a will was duly executed and
that it was in existence at the time of, and not revoked before, the death of the
testator, still the provisions of the lost wig must be clearly and distinctly proved by at
least two credible witnesses. 'Credible witnesses' mean competent witnesses and
not those who testify to facts from or upon hearsay. " emphasis supplied).
In Molo Pekson and Perez Nable vs. Tanchuco, et al., 100 Phil. 344, the Supreme
Court held that "Section 620 of the same Code of Civil Procedure provides that any
person of sound mind, and of the age of eighteen years or more, and not blind, deaf,
or dumb and able to read and write, may be a witness to the execution of a will. This
same provision is reproduced in our New Civil Code of 1950, under Art. 820. The
relation of employer and employee, or being a relative to the beneficiary in a win,
does not disqualify one to be a witness to a will. The main qualification of a witness in
the attestation of wills, if other qualifications as to age, mental capacity and literacy
are present, is that said witness must be credible, that is to say, his testimony may be

entitled to credence. There is a long line of authorities on this point, a few of which
we may cite:

witnesses were "credible witnesses that is, that they have a good standing in the
community and reputed to be trustworthy and reliable.

A 'credible witness is one who is not is not to testify by mental incapacity, crime, or
other cause. Historical Soc of Dauphin County vs. Kelker 74 A. 619, 226 Pix 16, 134
Am. St. Rep. 1010. (Words and Phrases, Vol. 10, p. 340).

Under the second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth assignments of errors,
petitioner disputes the findings of fact of the respondent court in finding that the
preparation and execution of the will was expected and not coincidental, in finding
that Atty. Paraiso was not previously furnished with the names and residence
certificates of the witnesses as to enable him to type such data into the document
Exhibit "F", in holding that the fact that the three typewritten lines under the
typewritten words "pangalan" and "tinitirahan" were left blank shows beyond cavil
that the three attesting witnesses were all present in the same occasion, in holding
credible that Isabel Gabriel could have dictated the will without note or document to
Atty. Paraiso, in holding that Matilde Orobia was physically present when the will was
signed on April 15, 1961 by the deceased Isabel Gabriel and the other witnesses
Celso Gimpaya and Maria Gimpaya, in holding that the trial court gave undue
importance to the picture takings as proof that the will was improperly executed, and
in holding that the grave contradictions, evasions and misrepresentations of the
witnesses (subscribing and notary) presented by the petitioner had been explained
away.

As construed by the common law, a 'credible witness' to a will means a 'competent


witness.' Appeal of Clark, 95 A. 517, 114 Me. 105, Ann. Cas. 1917A, 837. (lbid, p.
341).
Expression 'credible witness' in relation to attestation of wins means 'competent
witness that is, one competent under the law to testify to fact of execution of will.
Vernon's Ann. Civ St. art. 8283. Moos vs. First State Bank of Uvalde, Tex . Civ. App.
60 S.W. 2nd 888, 889. (Ibid, p. 342)
The term 'credible', used in the statute of wills requiring that a will shall be attested
by two credible witnesses means competent; witnesses who, at the time of attesting
the will, are legally competent to testify, in a court of justice, to the facts attested by
subscribing the will, the competency being determined as of the date of the
execution of the will and not of the timr it is offered for probate, Smith vs.
Goodell 101 N.E. 255, 256, 258 111. 145. (Ibid.)
Credible witnesses as used in the statute relating to wills, means competent
witnesses that is, such persons as are not legally disqualified from testifying in
courts of justice, by reason of mental incapacity, interest, or the commission of
crimes, or other cause excluding them from testifying generally, or rendering them
incompetent in respect of the particular subject matter or in the particular suit. Hill vs.
Chicago Title & Trust co 152 N.E. 545, 546, 322 111. 42. (Ibid. p, 343)
In the strict sense, the competency of a person to be an instrumental witness to a will
is determined by the statute, that is Art. 820 and 821, Civil Code, whereas his
credibility depends On the appreciation of his testimony and arises from the belief
and conclusion of the Court that said witness is telling the truth. Thus, in the case
of Vda. de Aroyo v. El Beaterio del Santissimo Rosario de Molo, No. L-22005, May 3,
1968, the Supreme Court held and ruled that: "Competency as a witness is one
thing, and it is another to be a credible witness, so credible that the Court must
accept what he says. Trial courts may allow a person to testify as a witness upon a
given matter because he is competent, but may thereafter decide whether to believe
or not to believe his testimony." In fine, We state the rule that the instrumental
witnesses in Order to be competent must be shown to have the qualifications under
Article 820 of the Civil Code and none of the disqualifications under Article 821 and
for their testimony to be credible, that is worthy of belief and entitled to credence, it is
not mandatory that evidence be first established on record that the witnesses have a
good standing in the community or that they are honest and upright or reputed to be
trustworthy and reliable, for a person is presumed to be such unless the contrary is
established otherwise. In other words, the instrumental witnesses must be competent
and their testimonies must be credible before the court allows the probate of the will
they have attested. We, therefore, reject petitioner's position that it was fatal for
respondent not to have introduced prior and independent proof of the fact that the

Since the above errors are factual We must repeat what We have previously laid
down that the findings of fact of the appellate court are binding and controlling which
We cannot review, subject to certain exceptions which We win consider and discuss
hereinafter. We are convinced that the appellate court's findings are sufficiently
justified and supported by the evidence on record. Thus, the alleged unnaturalness
characterizing the trip of the testatrix to the office of Atty. Paraiso and bringing all the
witnesses without previous appointment for the preparation and execution of the win
and that it was coincidental that Atty. Paraiso was available at the moment impugns
the finding of the Court of Appeals that although Atty. Paraiso admitted the visit of
Isabel Gabriel and of her companions to his office on April 15, 1961 was unexpected
as there was no prior appointment with him, but he explained that he was available
for any business transaction on that day and that Isabel Gabriel had earlier
requested him to help her prepare her will. The finding of the appellate court is amply
based on the testimony of Celso Gimpaya that he was not only informed on the
morning of the day that he witnessed the will but that it was the third time when
Isabel Gabriel told him that he was going to witness the making of her will, as well as
the testimony of Maria Gimpaya that she was called by her husband Celso Gimpaya
to proceed to Isabel Gabriel's house which was nearby and from said house, they left
in a car to the lawyer's office, which testimonies are recited in the respondent Court's
decision.
The respondent Court further found the following facts: that Celso Gimpaya and his
wife Maria Gimpaya obtained residence certificates a few days before Exhibit "F"
was executed. Celso Gimpaya's residence certificate No. A-5114942 was issued at
Navotas, Rizal on April 13, 1961 while Maria Gimpaya's residence certificate No. A5114974 was issued also at Navotas, Rizal on April 14, 1961. The respondent Court
correctly observed that there was nothing surprising in these facts and that the
securing of these residence certificates two days and one day, respectively, before
the execution of the will on April 15, 1961, far from showing an amazing coincidence,
reveals that the spouses were earlier notified that they would be witnesses to the
execution of Isabel Gabriel's will.

We also agree with the respondent Court's conclusion that the excursion to the office
of Atty. Paraiso was planned by the deceased, which conclusion was correctly drawn
from the testimony of the Gimpaya spouses that they started from the Navotas
residence of the deceased with a photographer and Isabel Gabriel herself, then they
proceeded by car to Matilde Orobia's house in Philamlife, Quezon City to fetch her
and from there, all the three witnesses (the Gimpayas and Orobia) passed by a place
where Isabel Gabriel stayed for about ten to fifteen minutes at the clinic of Dr.
Chikiamco before they proceeded to Atty. Cipriano Paraiso's office.
It is also evident from the records, as testified to by Atty. Paraiso, that previous to the
day that. the will was executed on April 15, 1961, Isabel Gabriel had requested him
to help her in the execution of her will and that he told her that if she really wanted to
execute her will, she should bring with her at least the Mayor of Navotas, Rizal and a
Councilor to be her witnesses and that he (Atty. Paraiso) wanted a medical certificate
from a physician notwithstanding the fact that he believed her to be of sound and
disposition mind. From this evidence, the appellate court rightly concluded, thus: "It
is, therefore, clear that the presence of Isabel Gabriel and her witnesses Matilde
Orobia, Celso Gimpaya and Maria Gimpaya including the photographer in the law
office of Atty. Paraiso was not coincidental as their gathering was pre-arranged by
Isabel Gabriel herself."
As to the appellate court's finding that Atty. Paraiso was not previously furnished with
the names and residence certificates of the witnesses as to enable him to type such
data into the document Exhibit ' L which the petitioner assails as contradictory and
irreconcilable with the statement of the Court that Atty. Paraiso was handed a list
(containing the names of the witnesses and their respective residence certificates)
immediately upon their arrival in the law office by Isabel Gabriel and this was
corroborated by Atty. Paraiso himself who testified that it was only on said occasion
that he received such list from Isabel Gabriel, We cannot agree with petitioner's
contention. We find no contradiction for the, respondent Court held that on the
occasion of the will making on April 15, 1961, the list was given immediately to Atty.
Paraiso and that no such list was given the lawyer in any previous occasion or date
prior to April 15, 1961.
But whether Atty. Paraiso was previously furnished with the names and residence
certificates of the witnesses on a prior occasion or on the very occasion and date in
April 15, 1961 when the will was executed, is of no moment for such data appear in
the notarial acknowledgment of Notary Public Cipriano Paraiso, subscribed and
sworn to by the witnesses on April 15, 1961 following the attestation clause duly
executed and signed on the same occasion, April 15, 1961. And since Exhibit "F" is a
notarial will duly acknowledged by the testatrix and the witnesses before a notary
public, the same is a public document executed and attested through the intervention
of the notary public and as such public document is evidence of the facts in clear,
unequivocal manner therein expressed. It has in its favor the presumption of
regularity. To contradict all these, there must be evidence that is clear, convincing
and more than merely preponderant. (Yturalde vs. Azurin, 28 SCRA 407). We find no
such evidence pointed by petitioner in the case at bar.
Likewise, the conclusion of the Court of Appeals in holding that the fact that the three
typewritten lines under the typewritten words "pangalan ' and "tinitirahan" were left

blank shows beyond cavil that the three attesting witnesses were all present in the
same occasion merits Our approval because tills conclusion is supported and borne
out by the evidence found by the appellate court, thus: "On page 5 of Exhibit "F",
beneath the typewritten words "names", "Res. Tax Cert. date issued" and place
issued the only name of Isabel Gabriel with Residence Tax certificate No. A-5113274
issued on February 24, 1961 at Navotas Rizal appears to be in typewritten form
while the names, residence tax certificate numbers, dates and places of issuance of
said certificates pertaining to the three (3) witnesses were personally handwritten by
Atty. Paraiso. Again, this coincides with Atty. Paraiso's even the sale must be made
to close relatives; and the seventh was the appointment of the appellant Santiago as
executrix of the will without bond. The technical description of the properties in
paragraph 5 of Exhibit F was not given and the numbers of the certificates of title
were only supplied by Atty. Paraiso. "
It is true that in one disposition, the numbers of the Torrens titles of the properties
disposed and the docket number of a special proceeding are indicated which Atty.
Paraiso candidly admitted were supplied by him, whereupon petitioner contends that
it was incredible that Isabel Gabriel could have dictated the will Exhibit "F" without
any note or document to Atty. Paraiso, considering that Isabel Gabriel was an old and
sickly woman more than eighty-one years old and had been suffering from a brain
injury caused by two severe blows at her head and died of terminal cancer a few
weeks after the execution of Exhibit "F". While we can rule that this is a finding of fact
which is within the competency of the respondent appellate court in determining the
testamentary capacity of the testatrix and is, therefore, beyond Our power to revise
and review, We nevertheless hold that the conclusion reached by the Court of
Appeals that the testatrix dictated her will without any note or memorandum appears
to be fully supported by the following facts or evidence appearing on record. Thus,
Isabel Gabriel, despite her age, was particularly active in her business affairs as she
actively managed the affairs of the movie business ISABELITA Theater, paying the
aparatistas herself until June 4, 1961, 3 days before her death. She was the widow
of the late Eligio Naval, former Governor of Rizal Province and acted as
coadministratrix in the Intestate Estate of her deceased husband Eligio Naval. The
text of the win was in Tagalog, a dialect known and understood by her and in the light
of all the circumstances, We agree with the respondent Court that the testatrix
dictated her will without any note or memorandum, a fact unanimously testified to by
the three attesting witnesses and the notary public himself.
Petitioner's sixth assignment of error is also bereft of merit. The evidence, both
testimonial and documentary is, according to the respondent court, overwhelming
that Matilde Orobia was physically present when the will was signed on April 15,
1961 by the testatrix and the other two witnesses, Celso Gimpaya and Maria
Gimpaya. Such factual finding of the appellate court is very clear, thus: "On the
contrary, the record is replete with proof that Matilde Orobia was physically present
when the will was signed by Isabel Gabriel on April '15, 1961 along with her cowitnesses Celso Gimpaya and Maria Gimpaya. The trial court's conclusion that
Orobia's admission that she gave piano lessons to the child of the appellant on
Wednesdays and Saturdays and that April 15, 1961 happened to be a Saturday for
which reason Orobia could not have been present to witness the will on that day is
purely conjectural. Witness Orobia did not admit having given piano lessons to the
appellant's child every Wednesday and Saturday without fail. It is highly probable
that even if April 15, 1961 were a Saturday, she gave no piano lessons on that day

for which reason she could have witnessed the execution of the will. Orobia spoke of
occasions when she missed giving piano lessons and had to make up for the same.
Anyway, her presence at the law office of Atty. Paraiso was in the morning of April 15,
1961 and there was nothing to preclude her from giving piano lessons on the
afternoon of the same day in Navotas, Rizal."
In addition to the testimony of Matilde Orobia, Celso Gimpaya and Maria Gimpaya
that Matilde was present on April 15, 1961 and that she signed the attestation clause
to the will and on the left-hand margin of each of the pages of the will, the
documentary evidence which is the will itself, the attestation clause and the notarial
acknowledgment overwhelmingly and convincingly prove such fact that Matilde
Orobia was present on that day of April 15, 1961 and that she witnessed the will by
signing her name thereon and acknowledged the same before the notary public, Atty.
Cipriano P. Paraiso. The attestation clause which Matilde Orobia signed is the best
evidence as to the date of signing because it preserves in permanent form a recital
of all the material facts attending the execution of the will. This is the very purpose of
the attestation clause which is made for the purpose of preserving in permanent form
a record of the facts attending the execution of the will, so that in case of failure in
the memory of the subscribing witnesses, or other casualty they may still be proved.
(Thompson on Wills, 2nd ed., Sec. 132; Leynez vs. Leynez, 68 Phil. 745).
As to the seventh error assigned by petitioner faulting the Court of Appeals in holding
that the trial court gave undue importance to the picture-takings as proof that the win
was improperly executed, We agree with the reasoning of the respondent court that:
"Matilde Orobia's Identification of the photographer as "Cesar Mendoza", contrary to
what the other two witnesses (Celso and Maria Gimpaya) and Atty. Paraiso said that
the photographer was Benjamin Cifra, Jr., is at worst a minor mistake attributable to
lapse of time. The law does not require a photographer for the execution and
attestation of the will. The fact that Miss Orobia mistakenly Identified the
photographer as Cesar Mendoza scarcely detracts from her testimony that she was
present when the will was signed because what matters here is not the photographer
but the photograph taken which clearly portrays Matilde Orobia herself, her cowitnesses Celso Gimpaya. " Further, the respondent Court correctly held: "The trial
court gave undue importance to the picture takings, jumping therefrom to the
conclusion that the will was improperly executed. The evidence however, heavily
points to only one occasion of the execution of the will on April 15, 1961 which was
witnessed by Matilde Orobia, Celso Gimpaya and Maria Gimpaya. These witnesses
were quite emphatic and positive when they spoke of this occasion. Hence, their
Identification of some photographs wherein they all appeared along with Isabel
Gabriel and Atty. Paraiso was superfluous."
Continuing, the respondent Court declared: "It is true that the second picture-taking
was disclosed at the cross examination of Celso Gimpaya. But this was explained by
Atty. Paraiso as a reenactment of the first incident upon the insistence of Isabel
Gabriel. Such reenactment where Matilde Orobia was admittedly no longer present
was wholly unnecessary if not pointless. What was important was that the will was
duly executed and witnessed on the first occasion on April 15, 1961 , " and We agree
with the Court's rationalization in conformity with logic, law and jurisprudence which
do not require picture-taking as one of the legal requisites for the execution or
probate of a will.

Petitioner points to alleged grave contradictions, evasions and misrepresentations of


witnesses in their respective testimonies before the trial court. On the other hand, the
respondent Court of Appeals held that said contradictions, evasions and
misrepresentations had been explained away. Such discrepancies as in the
description of the typewriter used by Atty. Paraiso which he described as "elite" which
to him meant big letters which are of the type in which the will was typewritten but
which was Identified by witness Jolly Bugarin of the N.B.I. as pica the mistake in
mentioning the name of the photographer by Matilde Orobia to be Cesar Mendoza
when actually it was Benjamin Cifra, Jr. these are indeed unimportant details which
could have been affected by the lapse of time and the treachery of human memory
such that by themselves would not alter the probative value of their testimonies on
the true execution of the will, (Pascual vs. dela Cruz, 28 SCRA 421, 424) for it cannot
be expected that the testimony of every person win be Identical and coinciding with
each other with regard to details of an incident and that witnesses are not expected
to remember all details. Human experience teach us "that contradictions of witnesses
generally occur in the details of certain incidents, after a long series of questionings,
and far from being an evidence of falsehood constitute a demonstration of good faith.
In as much as not all those who witness an incident are impressed in like manner, it
is but natural that in relating their impressions, they should not agree in the minor
details; hence the contradictions in their testimony." (Lopez vs. Liboro, 81 Phil. 429).
It is urged of Us by the petitioner that the findings of the trial court should not have
been disturbed by the respondent appellate court because the trial court was in a
better position to weigh and evaluate the evidence presented in the course of the
trial. As a general rule, petitioner is correct but it is subject to well-established
exceptions. The right of the Court of Appeals to review, alter and reverse the findings
of the trial court where the appellate court, in reviewing the evidence has found that
facts and circumstances of weight and influence have been ignored and overlooked
and the significance of which have been misinterpreted by the trial court, cannot be
disputed. Findings of facts made by trial courts particularly when they are based on
conflicting evidence whose evaluation hinges on questions of credibility of
contending witnesses hes peculiarly within the province of trial courts and generally,
the appellate court should not interfere with the same. In the instant case, however,
the Court of Appeals found that the trial court had overlooked and misinterpreted the
facts and circumstances established in the record. Whereas the appellate court said
that "Nothing in the record supports the trial court's unbelief that Isabel Gabriel
dictated her will without any note or document to Atty. Paraiso;" that the trial court's
conclusion that Matilde Orobia could not have witnessed anybody signing the alleged
will or that she could not have witnessed Celso Gimpaya and Maria Gimpaya sign
the same or that she witnessed only the deceased signing it, is a conclusion based
not on facts but on inferences; that the trial court gave undue importance to the
picture-takings, jumping therefrom to the conclusion that the will was improperly
executed and that there is nothing in the entire record to support the conclusion of
the court a quo that the will signing occasion was a mere coincidence and that Isabel
Gabriel made an appointment only with Matilde Orobia to witness the signing of her
will, then it becomes the duty of the appellate court to reverse findings of fact of the
trial court in the exercise of its appellate jurisdiction over the lower courts.
Still the petitioner insists that the case at bar is an exception to the rule that the
judgment of the Court of Appeals is conclusive as to the facts and cannot be
reviewed by the Supreme Court. Again We agree with the petitioner that among the

exceptions are: (1) when the conclusion is a finding grounded entirely on


speculations, surmises or conjectures; (2) when the inference is manifestly mistaken,
absurd or impossible; (3) when there is a grave abuse of discretion; (4) when the
presence of each other as required by law. " Specifically, We affirm that on April 15,
1961 the testatrix Isabel Gabriel, together with Matilde Orobia, Celso Gimpaya and
his wife Maria Gimpaya, and a photographer proceeded in a car to the office of Atty.
Cipriano Paraiso at the Bank of P.I. Building, Manila in the morning of that day; that
on the way, Isabel Gabriel obtained a medical certificate from one Dr. Chikiamko
which she gave to Atty. Paraiso upon arriving at the latter's office and told the lawyer
that she wanted her will to be made; that Atty. Paraiso asked Isabel Gabriel to dictate
what she wanted to be written in the will and the attorney wrote down the dictation of
Isabel Gabriel in Tagalog, a language known to and spoken by her; that Atty. Paraiso
read back to her what he wrote as dictated and she affirmed their correctness; the
lawyer then typed the will and after finishing the document, he read it to her and she
told him that it was alright; that thereafter, Isabel Gabriel signed her name at the end
of the will in the presence of the three witnesses Matilde Orobia, Celso Gimpaya and
Maria Gimpaya and also at the left-hand margin of each and every page of the
document in the presence also of the said three witnesses; that thereafter Matilde
Orobia attested the will by signing her name at the end of the attestation clause and
at the left-hand margin of pages 1, 2, 3 and 5 of the document in the presence of
Isabel Gabriel and the other two witnesses, Celso Gimpaya and Maria Gimpaya;
then, Celso Gimpaya signed also the will at the bottom of the attestation clause and
at the left-hand margin of the other pages of the document in the presence of Isabel
Gabriel, Matilde Orobia and Maria Gimpaya; that Maria Gimpaya followed suit,
signing her name at the foot of the attestation clause and at the left-hand margin of
every page in the presence of Isabel Gabriel, Matilde Orobia and Celso Gimpaya;
that thereafter, Atty. Paraiso notarized the will as Page No. 94, Book No. IV, Series of
1961, in his Notarial Register. On the occasion of the execution and attestation of the
will, a photographer took pictures, one Exhibit "G", depicting Matilde Orobia, the
testatrix Isabel Gabriel, Celso Gimpaya, Maria Gimpaya and Atty. Paraiso, taken on
said occasion of the signing of the will, and another, Exhibit "H", showing Matilde
Orobia signing testimony that he had earlier advised Isabel Gabriel to bring with her
at least the Mayor and a Councilor of Navotas, Rizal to be her witnesses for he did
not know beforehand the Identities of the three attesting witnesses until the latter
showed up at his law office with Isabel Gabriel on April 15, 1961. Atty. Paraiso's claim
which was not controverted that he wrote down in his own hand the date appearing
on page 5 of Exhibit "F" dissipates any lingering doubt that he prepared and ratified
the will on the date in question."
It is also a factual finding of the Court of Appeals in holding that it was credible that
Isabel Gabriel could have dictated the will, Exhibit "F", without any note or document
to Atty. Paraiso as against the contention of petitioner that it was incredible. This
ruling of the respondent court is fully supported by the evidence on record as stated
in the decision under review, thus: "Nothing in the record supports the trial court's
unbelief that Isabel Gabriel dictated her will without any note or document to Atty.
Paraiso. On the contrary, all the three attesting witnesses uniformly testified that
Isabel Gabriel dictated her will to Atty. Paraiso and that other than the piece of paper
that she handed to said lawyer she had no note or document. This fact jibes with the
evidence which the trial court itself believed was unshaken that Isabel Gabriel
was of sound disposing memory when she executed her will.

Exhibit "F" reveals only seven (7) dispositions which are not complicated but quite
simple. The first was Isabel Gabriel's wish to be interred according to Catholic rites
the second was a general directive to pay her debts if any; the third provided for
P1,000.00 for her sister Praxides Gabriel Vda. de Santiago and P2,000.00 for her
brother Santiago Gabriel; the fourth was a listing of her 13 nephews and nieces
including oppositor-appellee Rizalina Gabriel and the amount for each legatee the
fifth was the institution of the petitioner-appellant, Lutgarda Santiago as the principal
heir mentioning in general terms seven (7) types of properties; the sixth disposed of
the remainder of her estate which she willed in favor of appellant Lutgarda Santiago
but prohibiting the sale of such properties to anyone except in extreme situations in
which judgment is based on a misapprehension of facts; (5) when the findings of fact
are conflicting, (6) when the Court of Appeals, in making its findings, went beyond
the issues of the case and the same is contrary to the admissions of both appellant
and appellee. (Roque vs. Buan, et al., G.R. No. L-22459, Oct. 31, 1967; Ramos vs.
Pepsi Cola Bottling Co., G.R. No. L-22533, Feb. 9, 1967; Hilarion Jr. vs. City of
Manila, G.R. No. L-19570; Sept. 14, 1967).
Petitioner's insistence is without merit. We hold that the case at bar does not fall
within any of the exceptions enumerated above. We likewise hold that the findings of
fact of the respondent appellate court are fully supported by the evidence on record.
The conclusions are fully sustained by substantial evidence. We find no abuse of
discretion and We discern no misapprehension of facts. The respondent Court's
findings of fact are not conflicting. Hence, the well-established rule that the decision
of the Court of Appeals and its findings of fact are binding and conclusive and should
not be disturbed by this Tribunal and it must be applied in the case at bar in its full
force and effect, without qualification or reservation. The above holding simply
synthesize the resolutions we have heretofore made in respect ' to petitioner's
previous assignments of error and to which We have disagreed and, therefore,
rejected.
The last assignments of error of petitioner must necessarily be rejected by Us as We
find the respondent Court acted properly and correctly and has not departed from the
accepted and usual course of judicial proceedings as to call for the exercise of the
power of supervision by the Supreme Court, and as We find that the Court of
Appeals did not err in reversing the decision of the trial court and admitting to
probate Exhibit "F", the last will and testament of the deceased Isabel Gabriel.
We rule that the respondent Court's factual findings upon its summation and
evaluation of the evidence on record is unassailable that: "From the welter of
evidence presented, we are convinced that the will in question was executed on April
15, 1961 in the presence of Matilde Orobia, Celso Gimpaya and Maria Gimpaya
signing and witnessing the same in the the will on a table with Isabel Gabriel, Celso
Gimpaya and Maria Gimpaya sitting around the table. Atty. Paraiso, after finishing the
notarial act, then delivered the original to Isabel Gabriel and retained the other
copies for his file and notarial register. A few days following the signing of the will,
Isabel Gabriel, Celso Gimpaya and another photographer arrived at the office of Atty.
Paraiso and told the lawyer that she wanted another picture taken because the first
picture did not turn out good. The lawyer told her that this cannot be done because
the will was already signed but Isabel Gabriel insisted that a picture be taken, so a
simulated signing was performed during which incident Matilde Orobia was not
present.

Petitioner's exacerbation centers on the supposed incredibility of the testimonies of


the witnesses for the proponent of the will, their alleged evasions, inconsistencies
and contradictions. But in the case at bar, the three instrumental witnesses who
constitute the best evidence of the will making have testified in favor of the probate of
the will. So has the lawyer who prepared it, one learned in the law and long in the
practice thereof, who thereafter notarized it. All of them are disinterested witnesses
who stand to receive no benefit from the testament. The signatures of the witnesses
and the testatrix have been identified on the will and there is no claim whatsoever
and by anyone, much less the petitioner, that they were not genuine. In the last and
final analysis, the herein conflict is factual and we go back to the rule that the
Supreme Court cannot review and revise the findings of facts of the respondent
Court of Appeals.
WHEREFORE, IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the judgment appealed from is
hereby AFFIRMED, with costs against the petitioner.
SO ORDERED.

EN BANC
[G.R. No. L-8774. November 26, 1956.]
In the matter of the testate estate of the deceased JUANA JUAN
VDA. DE MOLO. EMILIANA MOLO-PECKSON and PILAR PEREZNABLE, Petitioners-Appellees, vs. ENRIQUE TANCHUCO, FAUSTINO
GOMEZ, ET AL., Oppositors-Appellants.
DECISION
MONTEMAYOR, J.:
Mariano Molo and Juana Juan was a couple possessed of much worldly wealth, but
unfortunately, not blessed with children. To fill the void in their marital life, they took
into their home and custody two baby girls, raising them from infancy, treating them
as their own daughters, sending them to school, and later to the best and exclusive
centers of higher learning, until they both graduated, one in pharmacy, and the other
in law. These two fortunate girls, now grown up women and married, are Emiliana
Perez-Molo-Peckson, a niece of Juana, and Pilar Perez-Nable a half sister of
Emiliana.

Mariano Molo died in January, 1941, and by will bequeathed all his estate to his wife.
Juana, his widow, died on May 28, 1950, leaving no forced heirs but only collateral,
children and grandchildren of her sisters. She left considerable property worth
around a million pesos or more, and to dispose of the same, she was supposed to
have executed on May 11, 1948, about two years before her death, a document
purporting to be her last will and testament, wherein she bequeathed the bulk of her
property to her two foster children, Emiliana and Pilar. These two foster daughters,
as Petitioners, presented the document for probate in the Court of First Instance of
Rizal. The other relatives, such as Enrique Tanchuco, only son of Juanas deceased
sister Modesta, and his two children, Ester, and Gloria, both surnamed Tanchuco,
and Faustino Gomez and Fortunata Gomez, the only surviving grandchildren of
another deceased sister, named Francisca, filed opposition to the probate of the will
on the ground that the instrument in question was not the last will and testament of
Juana; chan roblesvirtualawlibrarythat the same was not executed and attested in
accordance with law; chan roblesvirtualawlibrarythat the said supposed will was
secured through undue pressure and influence on the part of the beneficiaries
therein; chan roblesvirtualawlibrarythat the signature of the testatrix was secured by
fraud and that she did not intend the instrument to be her last will; chan
roblesvirtualawlibraryand that at the time the instrument was executed, the testatrix
Juana was not of sound and disposing mind.
Because of the value of the property involved, as well as the fact that the bulk of said
property was being left to Emiliana and Pilar, ignoring and practically disinheriting the
other relatives whose blood ties with the testatrix were just as close, if not closer, the
will, marked Exhibit A at the hearing, was hotly contested and considerable evidence,
oral and documentary, was introduced by both parties. After hearing, Judge
Bienvenido A. Tan, presiding over the trial court, in a well considered decision
declared the document Exhibit A to be the last will and testament of Juana Juan, and
admitted the same for probate; chan roblesvirtualawlibraryand following the
provisions of the will, he appointed Emiliana and Pilar executrices without bond.
Failing to obtain a reconsideration of this decision, the Oppositors appealed to the
Court of Appeals about the beginning of the year 1951.
Ordinarily, because of the value of the property involved in the will, which was many
times more than P50,000, the appeal should have been brought directly to this
Tribunal. However, shortly, after the execution of the instrument admitted to probate
as a will, the testatrix executed a document purporting to be a deed of donation inter
vivos, donating the great bulk of her entire property, with the exception of about
P16,000 worth, to the same beneficiaries in the will, namely, Emiliana and Pilar. If
this deed of donation is valid, then the will disposes of property valued only at about
P16,000; chan roblesvirtualawlibraryhence, the appeal to the Court of Appeals
instead of the Supreme Court. In justice to the Oppositors, it should be stated that, at
the same time that they opposed the probate of the will in the probate court, they
also expressed their intention to contest the validity of the allege donation inter vivos,
either in the administration proceedings or in a proper separate case. The appeal, for
one reason or another, remained in the Court of Appeals for sometime, and only by
its resolution of July 7, 1954, was the case certified to us on the ground that,
inasmuch as the validity of the supposed donation inter vivos was being impugned
and repudiated by the Oppositors of the will, and inasmuch as the will itself covered
property valued well in excess of P50,000, the appeal should be determined by the
Supreme Court.

We have carefully gone over the evidence of the record, and we are convinced that
the great preponderance thereof is in favor of the probate of the will. Not only this,
but we realize that the credibility of witnesses is very much involved in the
determination of this case, the testimony of those for the Petitioners being
diametrically opposed to and utterly conflicting with that of the witnesses for
the Oppositors. His Honor, the trial judge had the opportunity and was in a position to
gauge said credibility and he evidently found the witnesses for thePetitioners more
entitled to credence, and their testimony more reasonable. We find no reason for
disturbing said finding of the probate court. We quote with approval a portion of the
decision of Judge Tan, reading as follows:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
From the evidence presented in this case, both oral and documentary, it was proved
to the full satisfaction of this Court that the deceased freely and voluntarily executed
Exhibit A, her last will and testament, in the presence of her three attesting
witnesses that at the time of the execution of the said will, the deceased was of
sound mind and in good health and was fully conscious of all her acts as may be
seen in Exhibits D, D-1, D-2, D-3, and D-4, and also as was proven by the
testimony of the two attesting witnesses, Petrona P. Navarro and Dr. Cleofas
Canicosa; chan roblesvirtualawlibrarythat said will was signed in the presence of the
three attesting witnesses, who, likewise, signed in the presence of the testatrix and in
the presence of each other; chan roblesvirtualawlibrarythat after the execution of
said will or after the signing of the same, the deceased Juana Juan Vda. de Molo
took it with her and kept it in her possession and after her death, the said will was
presented in court for probate.
While the written opposition to the probate of said will consists of a litany of
supposed abuses, force and undue influence exercised on the testatrix, yet the
evidence shows that these supposed abuses, force and undue influence consist only
of failure on the part of the deceased to invite the Oppositors in all the parties held in
her house through the alleged influence of Mrs. Nable, of paying more attention,
care, and extending more kindness to thePetitioners than to the Oppositors in spite
of the close blood relationship existing between the testatrix and the Oppositors.
The Oppositors also tried to prove the existence of another will which, according to
them, was read to the Oppositor Enrique Tanchuco three days before the departure
of the testatrix for the United States, though no evidence whatsoever was presented
as to what happened to the supposed will, where it is now, in whose hands it is, or in
whose possession it could be found. The Oppositors also tried to prove that during
the illness of the testatrix in 1948 they were unable to visit her because of the
influence of Emiliana Molo-Peckson, who told them that they could not visit the
testatrix because of the advice of the doctor. This testimony of the Oppositors was
satisfactorily contradicted by the testimony of Mrs. Emiliana Molo-Peckson who
denied that the testatrix was sick in the year 1948 and by means of photographs
which show that during the said period of time, which theOppositors alleged to be the
date when Mrs. Juana Juan Vda. de Molo was sick, the latter attended several
affairs, such as sponsoring the reconstruction of the Antipolo Church, attending a
party given in the house of Gen. Aguinaldo in Kawit, Cavite, and other social
gatherings.
Neither do we find anything unusual or extraordinary in the testatrix giving practically
all her property to her foster daughters, to the exclusion of her other relatives. The
two beneficiaries, as already stated, were taken in and raised by her and her

husband, Mariano, when they were mere babies. Naturally, they became very much
attached to and came to love said two children, specially since they had none of their
own. They sent them to good, even expensive schools like the Santa Teresa, Santa
Escolastica, and the University of the Philippines, and otherwise lavished their
affection and their wealth on their two protegees. Little wonder then that Juana in
making her will made Emiliana and Pilar practically her exclusive beneficiaries,
specially since, So we understand, when these two girls had grown up to
womanhood, and been highly educated, they helped their foster parents in the
administration of their extensive properties, and later took good, kind, and tender
care of them in their old age. We repeat that it was neither unusual nor extraordinary
that the testatrix, with no forced heirs, should have made her two foster daughters,
the beneficiaries in her will, to the exclusion of her blood relatives. Said this Court in
a similar case Pecson vs. Coronel, 45 Phil. 220:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
The Appellants emphasize the fact that family ties in this country are very strongly
knit and that the exclusion of relatives from ones estate is an exceptional case. It is
true that the ties of relationship in the Philippines are very strong, but we understand
that cases of preterition of relatives from the inheritance are not rare. The liberty to
dispose of ones estate by will when there are no forced heirs is rendered sacred by
the Civil Code in force in the Philippines since 1889. It is so provided in the first
paragraph of article 763 in the following terms:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
Any person who has no forced heirs may dispose by will of all his property or any
part of it in favor of any person qualified to acquire it.
Even ignoring the precedents of this legal precept, the Code embodying it has been
in force in the Philippines for more than a quarter of a century, and for this reason it is
not tenable to say that the exercise of the liberty thereby granted is necessarily
exceptional, where it is not shown that the inhabitants of this country whose customs
must have been taken into consideration by the legislator in adopting this legal
precept, are averse to such a liberty.
Oppositors-Appellants in their printed memorandum contend that under Section 618
of Act 190, the Old Code of Civil Procedure, which requires that a will should be
attested or subscribed by three or more credible witnesses, two of the attesting
witnesses to the will in question, namely, Miss Navarro and Miss Canicosa, who were
employed as pharmacist and salesgirl, respectively, in the drugstore of Pilar PerezNable, one of beneficiaries in the will, may not be considered credible witnesses for
the reason that as such employees, they would naturally testify in favor of their
employer. We find the contention untenable. Section 620 of the same Code of Civil
Procedure provides that any person of sound mind, and of the age of eighteen years
or more, and not blind, deaf, or dumb and able to read and write, may be a witness
to the execution of a will. This same provision is reproduced in our New Civil Code of
1950, under Art. 820. The relation of employer and employee, or being a relative to
the beneficiary in a will, does not disqualify one to be a witness to a will. The main
qualification of a witness in the attestation of wills, if other qualifications as to age,
mental capacity and literacy are present, is that said witness must be credible, that is
to say, his testimony may be entitled to credence. There is a long line of authorities
on this point, a few of which we may cite:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

A credible witness is one who is not disqualified to testify by mental incapacity,


crime, or other cause. Historical Soc. of Dauphin County vs. Kelker, 74 A. 619, 226
Pa. 16, 134 Am. St. Rep. 1010. (Words and Phrases, Vol. 10, p. 340).
As construed by the common law, a credible witness to a will means a competent
witness. Appeal of Clark, 95 A. 517, 114 Me. 105, Ann. Cas. 1917A, 837. (Ibid. p.
341). Expression credible witness in relation to attestation of wills means
competent witness; chan roblesvirtualawlibrarythat is, one competent under the law
to testify to fact of execution of will. Vernons Ann. Civ. St. art. 8283. Moos vs. First
State Bank of Uvalde, Tex. Civ. App. 60 S. W. 2d 888, 889. (Ibid. p. 842)
The term credible, used in the statute of wills requiring that a will shall be attested
by two credible witnesses, means competent; chan roblesvirtualawlibrarywitnesses
who, at the time of attesting the will, are legally competent to testify, in a court of
justice, to the facts attested by subscribing the will, the competency being
determined as of the date of the execution of the will and not of the time it is offered
for probate. Smith vs. Goodell, 101 N.E. 255, 256, 258 Ill. 145. (Ibid.)

Credible witnesses, as used in the statute relating to wills, means competent


witnesses that is, such persons as are not legally disqualified from testifying in
courts of justice, by reason of mental incapacity, interest, or the commission of
crimes, or other cause excluding them from testifying generally, or rendering them
incompetent in respect of the particular subject matter or in the particular suit. Hill vs.
Chicago Title & Trust Co., 152 N. E. 545, 546, 322 III. 42. (Ibid. p. 343)
This Tribunal itself held in the case of Vda. de Roxas vs. Roxas, 48 Off. Gaz., 2177,
that the law does not bar relatives, either of the testator or of the heirs or legatees,
from acting as attesting witnesses to a will.
In view of the foregoing, finding no reversible error in the decision appealed from the
same is hereby affirmed. No costs.