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UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT JURISPRUDENCE
 

 
PHILIPPINE SUPREME COURT JURISPRUDENCE
 

   
October-1997 Jurisprudence                 

  • Adm. Matter No. MTJ-97-1123 October 2, 1997 - JOSELITO R. ENRIQUEZ v. RUBY B. CAMARISTA

  • Adm. Matter No. P-97-1255 October 2, 1997 - SIBANAH E. USMAN v. JULIUS G. CABE

  • Adm. Matter No. RTJ-93-1080 October 2, 1997 - HANSON SANTOS v. SANCHO DAMES II, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 102900 October 2, 1997 - MARCELINO ARCELONA, ET AL. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 108897 October 2, 1997 - SARKIES TOURS PHIL., INC. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 116184 October 2, 1997 - NATION BROADCASTING CORP., ET AL. v. NLRC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 116720 October 2, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. ROEL ENCINADA

  • G.R. No. 117240 October 2, 1997 - PNCC v. NLRC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 120961 October 2, 1997 - DISTILLERIA WASHINGTON v. LA TONDEÑA DISTILLERS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 121449 October 2, 1997 - SANYO TRAVEL CORP., ET AL. v. NLRC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 123172 October 2, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. FELIX DE GUIA

  • G.R. No. 102366 October 3, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. HECTOR VASQUEZ, ET AL.

  • Adm. Matter No. P-97-1250 October 6, 1997 - DOMINADOR D. BORNASAL, JR. v. JAIME T. MONTES

  • G.R. No. 83402 October 6, 1997 - ALGON ENGINEERING CONSTRUCTION CORP., ET AL. v. NLRC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 103585 October 6, 1997 - NATIONAL ELECTRIFICATION ADMINISTRATION v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 118935 October 6, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. FERNANDO LO-AR

  • G.R. No. 123445 October 6, 1997 - BENJAMIN TOLENTINO v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. Nos. 104774-75 October 8, 1997 - ZACARIAS OARDE, ET AL. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 107992 October 8, 1997 - ODYSSEY PARK, INC. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 110115 October 8, 1997 - RODOLFO TIGNO, ET AL. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 125616 October 8, 1997 - MARIO RABAJA v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 95694 October 9, 1997 - VICENTE VILLAFLOR v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 98328 October 9, 1997 - JUAN C. CARVAJAL v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. Nos. 106632 & 106678 October 9, 1997 - DORIS TERESA HO v. PEOPLE OF THE PHIL., ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 111194 October 9, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. WILFREDO G. TEODORO

  • G.R. No. 113447 October 9, 1997 - ALAIN MANALILI v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 118992 October 9, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. CELERINO CASTROMERO

  • Adm. Case No. 4467 October 10, 1997 - GIL A. DE LEON, ET AL. v. RODOLFO BONIFACIO, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 103028 October 10, 1997 - CARLOTA DELGADO VDA. DE DELA ROSA v. COURT OF APPEALS

  • G.R. No. 107434 October 10, 1997 - CITIBANK v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 111148 October 10, 1997 - ENRIQUE A. SOBREPEÑA, JR. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 115938 October 10, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. FERNANDO GALERA

  • G.R. No. 119360 October 10, 1997 - PAL, INC. v. ACTING SECRETARY OF LABOR, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 119523 October 10, 1997 - ISABELO VIOLETA, ET AL. v. NLRC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 120191 October 10, 1997 - LORETO ADALIN, ET AL. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • Adm. Matter No. P-96-1199 October 13, 1997 - VLADIMIR BRUSOLA v. EUDARLIO B. VALENCIA, JR.

  • G.R. No. 68166 October 13, 1997 - HEIRS OF EMILIANO NAVARRO v. INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE COURT, ET AL.

  • Adm. Matter No. MTJ-91-562 October 16, 1997 - EQUATORIAL REALTY DEVELOPMENT, INC. v. CASIANO P. ANUNCIACION

  • Adm. Matter No. MTJ-97-1139 October 16, 1997 - ROBERTO ESPIRITU v. EDUARDO JOVELLANOS

  • Adm. Matter No. P-92-747 October 16, 1997 - JESUS R. LLAMADO v. ARMANDO RAVELO

  • Adm. Matter No. P-96-1189 October 16, 1997 - LELU P. CONTRERAS v. SALVADOR C. MIRANDO

  • Adm. Matter No. P-96-1207 October 16, 1997 - D. ROY A. MASADAO, ET AL. v. GERALDINE GLORIOSO, ET AL.

  • Adm. Matter No. P-97-1252 October 16, 1997 - ORESTES R. SANTOS v. NORBERTO V. DOBLADA, JR.

  • Adm. Matter No. RTJ-97-1375 October 16, 1997 - ROMULO B. MACALINTAL v. ANGELITO C. TEH

  • Adm. Matter No. RTJ-97-1391 October 16, 1997 - ROMULO A. RIVERA v. EFREN A. LAMORENA

  • Adm. Matter No. 97-9-97-MCTC October 16, 1997 - REPORT ON THE JUDICIAL AUDIT OF THE MCTC OF DINGLE-DUENAS, ILOILO

  • G.R. No. 94457 October 16, 1997 - VICTORIA LEGARDA v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • Adm. Matter No. 102936 October 16, 1997 - LEVY AGAO, ET AL. v. NLRC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 105668 October 16, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. HERNANDO DALABAJAN, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 112745 October 16, 1997 - AQUILINO T. LARIN v. EXECUTIVE SECRETARY, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 113271 October 16, 1997 - WATEROUS DRUG CORP., ET AL. v. NLRC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 115282 October 16, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. MEDEL MAMALAYAN, ET AL.

  • G.R. Nos. 117399-117400 October 16, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. ZALDY JAGOLINGAY, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 118230 October 16, 1997 - ABUNDIA BINGCOY v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 118651 October 16, 1997 - PIONEER TEXTURIZING CORP., ET AL. v. NLRC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 118853 October 16, 1997 - BRAHM INDUSTRIES, INC. v. NLRC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 118946 October 16, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. RICO JAMLAN SALEM

  • G.R. No. 121582 October 16, 1997 - SOUTHERN COTABATO DEV. & CONSTRUCTION, ET AL. v. NLRC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 121687 October 16, 1997 - HEIRS OF MARCELINO PAGOBO v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 123248 October 16, 1997 - TWIN ACE HOLDINGS CORP. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 128054 October 16, 1997 - KILOSBAYAN, INC., ET AL. v. COMELEC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 113003 October 17, 1997 - ALBERTA YOBIDO, ET AL. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 113788 October 17, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. NORLITO GERON

  • G.R. No. 117459 October 17, 1997 - MOISES B. PANLILIO v. NLRC, ET AL.

  • G.R. Nos. 122474-76 October 17, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. VICTOR ABRECINOZ

  • G.R. No. 128119 October 17, 1997 - MURLI SADHWANI, ET AL. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • Adm. Matter No. RTJ-97-1393 October 20, 1997 - ALAN SUASIN v. ERNESTO DINOPOL

  • G.R. No. 107747 October 20, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. ARNOLD TALINGTING

  • G.R. No. 99838 October 23, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. ERNESTO ENRIQUEZ, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 105008 October 23, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. DOMENCIANO VASQUEZ

  • G.R. No. 108905 October 23, 1997 - GRACE CHRISTIAN HIGH SCHOOL v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 111155 October 23, 1997 - COSMOS BOTTLING CORP. v. NLRC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 111662 October 23, 1997 - A.G. DEVELOPMENT CORP. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 118192 October 23, 1997 - PRO LINE SPORTS CENTER, INC., ET AL. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. Nos. 119777 & 120690 October 23, 1997 - HEIRS OF PEDRO ESCANLAR, ET AL. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 126321 October 23, 1997 - TOYOTA CUBAO v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 112733 October 24, 1997 - PEOPLE’S INDUSTRIAL AND COMMERCIAL CORP. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 114398 October 24, 1997 - CARMEN LIWANAG v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 125469 October 27, 1997 - PHILIPPINE STOCK EXCHANGE, INC. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 130644 October 27, 1997 - FRANCISCO JUAN LARRANAGA v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 118240 October 28, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. GIOVANNI BAJAR

  • G.R. No. 124099 October 30, 1997 - MANUEL G. REYES, ET AL. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 104504 October 31, 1997 - PEDRITO PASTRANO v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  •  





     
     

    G.R. No. 124099   October 30, 1997 - MANUEL G. REYES, ET AL. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

     
    PHILIPPINE SUPREME COURT DECISIONS

    SECOND DIVISION

    [G.R. No. 124099. October 30, 1997.]

    MANUEL G. REYES, MILA G. REYES, DANILO G. REYES, LYN AGAPE, MARITES AGAPE, ESTEBANA GALOLO, and CELSA AGAPE, Petitioners, v. COURT OF APPEALS AND JULIO VIVARES, Respondents.

    Quimpo Willkom Borja Neri Galejesan Oclarit Law Offices, for Petitioners.

    Algarra Mutia and Trinidad Law Offices for Private Respondents.


    SYLLABUS


    1. REMEDIAL LAW; PROBATE COURT; PROCEEDINGS LIMITED TO EXTRINSIC VALIDITY OF WILL; EXCEPTIONS. — As a general rule, courts in probate proceedings are limited to pass only upon the extrinsic validity of the will sought to be probated. Thus, the court merely inquires on its due execution, whether or not it complies with the formalities prescribed by law, and the testamentary capacity of the testator. It does not determine nor even by implication prejudge the validity or efficacy of the will’s provisions. The intrinsic validity is not considered since the consideration thereof usually comes only after the will has been proved and allowed. There are, however, notable circumstances wherein the intrinsic validity was first determined as when the defect of the will is apparent on its face and the probate of the will may become a useless ceremony if it is intrinsically invalid. The intrinsic validity of a will may be passed upon because "practical considerations" demanded it as when there is preterition of heirs or the testamentary provisions are of doubtful legality. Where the parties agree that the intrinsic validity be first determined, the probate court may also do so. Parenthetically, the rule on probate is not inflexible and absolute. Under exceptional circumstances, the probate court is not powerless to do what the situation constrains it to do and pass upon certain provisions of the will.chanrobles virtual lawlibrary

    2. ID.; ID.; ID.; CASE AT BAR. — The case at bar arose from the institution of the petition for the probate of the will of the late Torcuato Reyes. Perforce, the only issues to be settled in the said proceeding were: (1) whether or not the testator had animus testandi; (2) whether or not vices of consent attended the execution of the will; and (3) whether or not the formalities of the will had been complied with. Thus, the lower court was not asked to rule upon the intrinsic validity or efficacy of the provisions of the will. As a result, the declaration of the testator that Asuncion "Oming" Reyes was his wife did not have to be scrutinized during the probate proceedings. The propriety of the institution of Oning Reyes as one of the devisees/legatees already involved inquiry on the will’s intrinsic validity and which need not be inquired upon by the probate court.

    3. ID.; ID.; ID.; DOCTRINE IN NEPOMUCENO v. COURT OF APPEALS (139 SCRA 206) NOT APPLICABLE TO CASE AT BAR. — The lower court erroneously invoked the ruling in Nepomuceno v. Court of Appeals (139 SCRA 206) in the instant case. In the case aforesaid, the testator himself, acknowledged his illicit relationship with the devisee. Thus, the very tenor of the will invalidates the legacy because the testator admitted he was disposing of the properties to a person with whom he had been living in concubinage. To remand the case would only be a waste of time and money since the illegality or defect was already patent. This case is different from the Nepomuceno case. Testator Torcuato Reyes merely stated in his will that he was bequeathing some of his personal and real properties to his wife, Asuncion "Oning" Reyes. There was never an open admission of any illicit relationship. In the case of Nepomuceno, the testator admitted that he was already previously married and that he had an adulterous relationship with the devisee.

    4. ID.; EVIDENCE; UNCORROBORATED TESTIMONIAL EVIDENCE, HEARSAY. — We agree with the Court of Appeals that the trial court relied on uncorroborated testimonial evidence that Asuncion Reyes was still married to another during the time she cohabited with the testator. The testimonies of the witnesses were merely hearsay and even uncertain as to the whereabouts or existence of Lupo Ebarle, the supposed husband of Asunsion.

    5. CIVIL LAW; SUCCESSION; WILL, THE TESTATOR SPEAKING AFTER DEATH. — In the elegant language of Justice Moreland written decades ago, he said — "A will is the testator speaking after death. Its provisions have substantially the same force and effect in the probate court as if the testator stood before the court in full like making the declarations by word of mouth as they appear in the will. That was the special purpose of the law in the creation of the instrument known as the last will and testament. Men wished to speak after they were dead and the law, by the creation of that instrument, permitted them to do so . . . All doubts must be resolved in favor of the testator’s having meant just what he said." (Santos v. Manarang, 27 Phil. 209).

    6. REMEDIAL LAW; EVIDENCE; FAILURE TO PRESENT EVIDENCE TO SUPPORT ALLEGATION THAT DEVISEE/LEGATEE HAD AN EXISTING MARRIAGE WITH ANOTHER, CONSTITUTES WAIVER. — Petitioner tried to refute this conclusion of the Court of Appeals by presenting belatedly a copy of the marriage certificate of Asuncion Reyes and Lupo Ebarle. Their failure to present the said certificate before that pro- bate court to support their position that Asuncion Reyes had an existing marriage with Ebarle constituted a waiver and the same evidence can no longer be entertained on appeal, much less in this petition for review.

    7. ID.; ID.; FACTUAL FINDINGS OF THE COURT OF APPEALS, GENERALLY NOT DISTURBED ON APPEAL. — This Court would not try the case anew or settle factual issues since its jurisdiction is confined to resolving questions of law which have been passed upon by the lower courts. The settled rule is that the factual findings of the appellate court will not be disturbed unless shown to be contrary to the evidence on the record, which petitioners have not shown in this case. Considering the foregoing premises, we sustain the findings of the appellate court it appearing that it did not commit a reversible error in issuing the challenged decision.chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary:red


    D E C I S I O N


    TORRES, JR., J.:


    Unless legally flawed, a testator’s intention in his last will and testament is its "life and soul" which deserves reverential observance.

    The controversy before us deals with such a case.

    Petitioners Manuel G. Reyes, Mila G. Reyes, Danilo G. Reyes, Lyn Agape, Marites Agape, Estebana Galolo and Celsa Agape, the oppositors in Special Proceedings No. 112 for the probate of the will of Torcuato J. Reyes, assail in this petition for review the decision of the Court of Appeals 1 dated November 29, 1995, the dispositive portion of which reads:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

    "WHEREFORE, premises considered, the judgment appealed from allowing or admitting the will of Torcuato J. Reyes to probate and directing the issuance of Letters Testamentary in favor of petitioner Julio A. Vivares as executor without bond is AFFIRMED but modified in that the declaration that paragraph II of the Torcuato Reyes’ last will and testament, including subparagraphs (a) and (b) are null and void for being contrary to law is hereby SET ASIDE, said paragraph II and subparagraphs (a) and (b) are declared VALID. Except as above modified, the judgment appealed from is AFFIRMED.

    SO ORDERED." 2

    The antecedent facts:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

    On January 3, 1992, Torcuato J. Reyes executed his last will and testament declaring therein in part, to wit:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

    "x       x       x

    II. I give and bequeath to my wife Asuncion "Oning" R. Reyes the following properties to wit:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

    a. All my shares of our personal properties consisting among others of jewelries, coins, antiques, statues, tablewares, furnitures, fixtures and the building;

    b. All my shares consisting of one half (1/2) or 50% of all the real estates I own in common with my brother Jose, situated in Municipalities of Mambajao, Mahinog, Guinsiliban, Sagay all in Camiguin; real estates in Lunao, Gingoog, Caamulan, Sugbongcogon, Boloc-Boloc, Kinoguitan, Balingoan, Sta. Ines, Caesta, Talisayan, all in the province of Misamis Oriental. 3"

    The will consisted of two pages and was signed by Torcuato Reyes in the presence of three witnesses: Antonio Veloso, Gloria Borromeo, and Soledad Gaputan. Private respondent Julio A. Vivares was designated the executor and in his default or incapacity, his son Roch Alan S. Vivares.

    Reyes died on May 12, 1992 and on May 21, 1992, private respondent filed a petition for probate of the will before the Regional Trial Court of Mambajao, Camiguin. The petition was set for hearing and the order was published in the Mindanao Daily Post, a newspaper of general circulation, once a week for three consecutive weeks. Notices were likewise sent to all the persons named in the petition.

    On July 21, 1992, the recognized natural children of Torcuato Reyes with Estebana Galolo, namely Manuel, Mila, and Danilo all surnamed Reyes, and the deceased’s natural children with Celsa Agape, namely Lyn and Marites Agape, filed an opposition with the following allegations: a) that the last will and testament of Reyes was not executed and attested in accordance with the formalities of law; and b) that Asuncion Reyes Ebarle exerted undue and improper influence upon the testator at the time of the execution of the will. The opposition further averred that Reyes was never married to and could never marry Asuncion Reyes, the woman he claimed to be his wife in the will, because the latter was already married to Lupo Ebarle who was still then alive and their marriage was never annulled. Thus, Asuncion can not be a compulsory heir for her open cohabitation with Reyes was violative of public morals.

    On July 22, 1992, the trial court issued an order declaring that it had acquired jurisdiction over the petition and, therefore, allowed the presentation of evidence. After the presentation of evidence and submission of the respective memoranda, the trial court issued its decision on April 23, 1993.

    The trial court declared that the will was executed in accordance with the formalities prescribed by law. It, however, ruled that Asuncion Reyes, based on the testimonies of the witnesses, was never married to the deceased Reyes and, therefore, their relationship was an adulterous one. Thus:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

    "The admission in the will by the testator to the illicit relationship between him and ASUNCION REYES EBARLE who is somebody else’s wife, is further bolstered, strengthened, and confirmed by the direct testimonies of the petitioner himself and his two "attesting" witnesses during the trial.

    In both cases, the common denominator is the immoral, meretrecious, adulterous and illicit relationship existing between the testator and the devisee prior to the death of the testator, which constituted the sole and primary consideration for the devise or legacy, thus making the will intrinsically invalid." 4

    The will of Reyes was admitted to probate except for paragraph II (a) and (b) of the will which was declared null and void for being contrary to law and morals. Hence, Julio Vivares filed an appeal before the Court of Appeals with the allegation that the oppositors failed to present any competent evidence that Asuncion Reyes was legally married to another person during the period of her cohabitation with Torcuato Reyes.

    On November 29, 1995, the Court of Appeals promulgated the assailed decision which affirmed the trial court’s decision admitting the will for probate but with the modification that paragraph II including subparagraphs (a) and (b) were declared valid. The appellate court stated:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

    "Considering that the oppositors never showed any competent evidence, documentary or otherwise during the trial to show that Asuncion "Oning" Reyes’ marriage to the testator was inexistent or void, either because of a pre-existing marriage or adulterous relationship, the trial court gravely erred in striking down paragraph II (a) and (b) of the subject Last Will and Testament, as void for being contrary to law and morals. Said declarations are not sufficient to destroy the presumption of marriage. Nor is it enough to overcome the very declaration of the testator that Asuncion Reyes is his wife." 5

    Dissatisfied with the decision of the Court of Appeals, the oppositors filed this petition for review.

    Petitioners contend that the findings and conclusion of the Court of Appeals was contrary to law, public policy and evidence on record. Torcuato Reyes and Asuncion "Oning" Reyes were collateral relatives up to the fourth civil degree. Witness Gloria Borromeo testified that Oning Reyes was her cousin as her mother and the latter’s father were sister and brother. They were also nieces of the late Torcuato Reyes. Thus, the purported marriage of the deceased Reyes and Oning Reyes was void ab initio as it was against public policy pursuant to Article 38 (1) of the Family Code. Petitioners further alleged that Oning Reyes was already married to Lupo Ebarle at the time she was cohabiting with the testator hence, she could never contract any valid marriage with the latter. Petitioners argued that the testimonies of the witnesses as well as the personal declaration of the testator, himself, were sufficient to destroy the presumption of marriage. To further support their contention, petitioners attached a copy of the marriage certificate of Asuncion Reyes and Lupo Ebarle. 6chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

    The petition is devoid of merit.

    As a general rule, courts in probate proceedings are limited to pass only upon the extrinsic validity of the will sought to be probated. 7 Thus, the court merely inquires on its due execution, whether or not it complies with the formalities prescribed by law, and the testamentary capacity of the testator. It does not determine nor even by implication prejudge the validity or efficacy of the will’s provisions. 8 The intrinsic validity is not considered since the consideration thereof usually comes only after the will has been proved and allowed. There are, however, notable circumstances wherein the intrinsic validity was first determined as when the defect of the will is apparent on its face and the probate of the will may become a useless 9 ceremony if it is intrinsically invalid. The intrinsic validity of a will may be passed upon because "practical considerations" demanded it as when there is preterition of heirs or the testamentary provisions are of doubtful legality. 10 Where the parties agree that the intrinsic validity be first determined, the probate court may also do so. 11 Parenthetically, the rule on probate is not inflexible and absolute. Under exceptional circumstances, the probate court is not powerless to do what the situation constrains it to do and pass upon certain provisions of the will. 12

    The case at bar arose from the institution of the petition for the probate of the will of the late Torcuato Reyes. Perforce, the only issues to be settled in the said proceeding were: (1) whether or not the testator had animus testandi; (2) whether or not vices of consent attended the execution of the will; and (3) whether or not the formalities of the will had been complied with. Thus, the lower court was not asked to rule upon the intrinsic validity or efficacy of the provisions of the will. As a result, the declaration of the testator that Asuncion "Oning" Reyes was his wife did not have to be scrutinized during the probate proceedings. The propriety of the institution of Oning Reyes as one of the devisees/legatees already involved inquiry on the will’s intrinsic validity and which need not be inquired upon by the probate court.

    The lower court erroneously invoked the ruling in Nepomuceno v. Court of Appeals (139 SCRA 206) in the instant case. In the case aforesaid, the testator himself, acknowledged his illicit relationship with the devisee, to wit:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

    "Art. IV. That since 1952, I have been living, as man and wife, with one Sofia J. Nepomuceno, whom I declare and avow to be entitled to my love and affection, for all the things which she has done for me, now and in the past; that while Sofia J. Nepomuceno has with my full knowledge and consent, did comfort and represent myself as her own husband, in truth and in fact, as well as in the eyes of the law, I could not bind her to me in the holy bonds of matrimony because of my aforementioned previous marriage."cralaw virtua1aw library

    Thus, the very tenor of the will invalidates the legacy because the testator admitted he was disposing of the properties to a person with whom he had been living in concubinage. 13 To remand the case would only be a waste of time and money since the illegality or defect was already patent. This case is different from the Nepomuceno case. Testator Torcuato Reyes merely stated in his will that he was bequeathing some of his personal and real properties to his wife, Asuncion "Oning" Reyes. There was never an open admission of any illicit relationship. In the case of Nepomuceno, the testator admitted that he was already previously married and that he had an adulterous relationship with the devisee.

    We agree with the Court of Appeals that the trial court relied on uncorroborated testimonial evidence that Asuncion Reyes was still married to another during the time she cohabited with the testator. The testimonies of the witnesses were merely hearsay and even uncertain as to the whereabouts or existence of Lupo Ebarle, the supposed husband of Asuncion. Thus:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

    "The foregoing testimony cannot go against the declaration of the testator that Asuncion "Oning" Reyes is his wife. In Alvarado v. City Government of Tacloban (supra) the Supreme Court stated that the declaration of the husband is competent evidence to show the fact of marriage.

    Considering that the oppositors never showed any competent evidence, documentary or otherwise during the trial to show that Asuncion "Oning” Reyes’ marriage to the testator was inexistent or void, either because of a pre-existing marriage or adulterous relationship, the trial court gravely erred in striking down paragraph II (a) and (b) of the subject Last Will and Testament, as void for being contrary to law and morals. Said declarations are not sufficient to destroy the presumption of marriage. Nor is it enough to overcome the very declaration of the testator that Asuncion Reyes is his wife." 14

    In the elegant language of Justice Moreland written decades ago, he said —

    "A will is the testator speaking after death. Its provisions have substantially the same force and effect in the probate court as if the testator stood before the court in full life making the declarations by word of mouth as they appear in the will. That was the special purpose of the law in the creation of the instrument known as the last will and testament. Men wished to speak after they were dead and the law, by the creation of that instrument, permitted them to do so. . . . All doubts must be resolved in favor of the testator’s having meant just what he said." (Santos v. Manarang, 27 Phil. 209).

    Petitioners tried to refute this conclusion of the Court of Appeals by presenting belatedly a copy of the marriage certificate of Asuncion Reyes and Lupo Ebarle. Their failure to present the said certificate before the probate court to support their position that Asuncion Reyes had an existing marriage with Ebarle constituted a waiver and the same evidence can no longer be entertained on appeal, much less in this petition for review. This Court would not try the case anew or settle factual issues since its jurisdiction is confined to resolving questions of law which have been passed upon by the lower courts. The settled rule is that the factual findings of the appellate court will not be disturbed unless shown to be contrary to the evidence on the record, which petitioners have not shown in this case. 15

    Considering the foregoing premises, we sustain the findings of the appellate court it appearing that it did not commit a reversible error in issuing the challenged decision.chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

    ACCORDINGLY, decision appealed from dated November 29, 1995, is hereby AFFIRMED and the instant petition for review is DENIED for lack of merit.

    SO ORDERED.

    Regalado, Romero, Puno and Mendoza, JJ., concur.

    Endnotes:



    1. Penned by Associate Justice Jose C. dela Rama, concurred in by Associate Justices Jaime M. Lantin (Chairman), and Eduardo Montenegro.

    2. Rollo, p. 29.

    3. Exhibit "F", Records, p. 4.

    4. Decision, Records, p. 141.

    5. Decision, Records, p. 29.

    6. Annex "A", Rollo, p. 103.

    7. Ajero v. Court of Appeals, 236 SCRA 488; Cayetano v. Leonidas, 129 SCRA 522.

    8. Palacios v. Palacios, 106 Phil. 739.

    9. Nepomuceno v. Court of Appeals, 139 SCRA 206; Nuguid v. Nuguid, 17 SCRA 499.

    10. Balanay v. Martinez, 64 SCRA 452; Cayetano v. Leonidas, 129 SCRA 522.

    11. Nuguid v. Nuguid, supra.

    12. Nepomuceno v. Court of Appeals, supra.

    13. Ibid.

    14. CA decision, Rollo, p. 29.

    15. Mercado v. Court of Appeals, 234 SCRA 98, G.R. No. 108802, July 12, 1994.

    G.R. No. 124099   October 30, 1997 - MANUEL G. REYES, ET AL. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.


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