G.R. No. L-40789 February 27, 1987
INTESTATE ESTATE OF PETRA V. ROSALES, IRENEA C. ROSALES, petitioner,
FORTUNATO ROSALES, MAGNA ROSALES ACEBES, MACIKEQUEROX ROSALES and ANTONIO ROSALES, respondents.
In this Petition for Review of two (2) Orders of the Court of First Instance of Cebu the question raised is whether the widow whose husband predeceased his mother can inherit from the latter, her mother-in-law.
It appears from the record of the case that on February 26, 1971, Mrs. Petra V. Rosales, a resident of Cebu City, died intestate. She was survived by her husband Fortunate T. Rosales and their two (2) children Magna Rosales Acebes and Antonio Rosales. Another child, Carterio Rosales, predeceased her, leaving behind a child, Macikequerox Rosales, and his widow Irenea C. Rosales, the herein petitioner. The estate of the dismissed has an estimated gross value of about Thirty Thousand Pesos (P30,000.00).
On July 10, 1971, Magna Rosales Acebes instituted the proceedings for the settlement of the estate of the deceased in the Court of First Instance of Cebu. The case was docketed as Special Proceedings No. 3204-R. Thereafter, the trial court appointed Magna Rosales Acebes administratrix of the said estate.
In the course of the intestate proceedings, the trial court issued an Order dated June 16, 1972 declaring the following in individuals the legal heirs of the deceased and prescribing their respective share of the estate –
Fortunata T. Rosales (husband), 1/4; Magna R. Acebes (daughter), 1/4; Macikequerox Rosales, 1/4; and Antonio Rosales son, 1/4.
This declaration was reiterated by the trial court in its Order I dated February 4, 1975.
These Orders notwithstanding, Irenea Rosales insisted in getting a share of the estate in her capacity as the surviving spouse of the late Carterio Rosales, son of the deceased, claiming that she is a compulsory heir of her mother-in-law together with her son, Macikequerox Rosales.
Thus, Irenea Rosales sought the reconsideration of the aforementioned Orders. The trial court denied her plea. Hence this petition.
In sum, the petitioner poses two (2) questions for Our resolution petition. First – is a widow (surviving spouse) an intestate heir of her mother-in-law? Second – are the Orders of the trial court which excluded the widow from getting a share of the estate in question final as against the said widow?
Our answer to the first question is in the negative.
Intestate or legal heirs are classified into two (2) groups, namely, those who inherit by their own right, and those who inherit by the right of representation. 1 Restated, an intestate heir can only inherit either by his own right, as in the order of intestate succession provided for in the Civil Code, 2 or by the right of representation provided for in Article 981 of the same law. The relevant provisions of the Civil Code are:
Art. 980. The children of the deceased shall always inherit from him in their own right, dividing the inheritance in equal shares.
Art. 981. Should children of the deceased and descendants of other children who are dead, survive, the former shall inherit in their own right, and the latter by right of representation.
Art. 982. The grandchildren and other descendants shag inherit by right of representation, and if any one of them should have died, leaving several heirs, the portion pertaining to him shall be divided among the latter in equal portions.
Art. 999. When the widow or widower survives with legitimate children or their descendants and illegitimate children or their descendants, whether legitimate or illegitimate, such widow or widower shall be entitled to the same share as that of a legitimate child.
There is no provision in the Civil Code which states that a widow (surviving spouse) is an intestate heir of her mother-in-law. The entire Code is devoid of any provision which entitles her to inherit from her mother-in- law either by her own right or by the right of representation. The provisions of the Code which relate to the order of intestate succession (Articles 978 to 1014) enumerate with meticulous exactitude the intestate heirs of a decedent, with the State as the final intestate heir. The conspicuous absence of a provision which makes a daughter-in-law an intestate heir of the deceased all the more confirms Our observation. If the legislature intended to make the surviving spouse an intestate heir of the parent-in-law, it would have so provided in the Code.
Petitioner argues that she is a compulsory heir in accordance with the provisions of Article 887 of the Civil Code which provides that:
Art. 887. The following are compulsory heirs:
(1) Legitimate children and descendants, with respect to their legitimate parents and ascendants;
(2) In default of the foregoing, legitimate parents and ascendants, with respect to their legitimate children and descendants;
(3) The widow or widower;
(4) Acknowledged natural children, and natural children by legal fiction;
(5) Other illegitimate children referred to in article 287;
Compulsory heirs mentioned in Nos. 3, 4 and 5 are not excluded by those in Nos. 1 and 2; neither do they exclude one another.
In all cases of illegitimate children, their filiation must be duly proved.
The father or mother of illegitimate children of the three classes mentioned, shall inherit from them in the manner and to the extent established by this Code.
The aforesaid provision of law 3 refers to the estate of the deceased spouse in which case the surviving spouse (widow or widower) is a compulsory heir. It does not apply to the estate of a parent-in-law.
Indeed, the surviving spouse is considered a third person as regards the estate of the parent-in-law. We had occasion to make this observation in Lachenal v. Salas,4 to Wit:
We hold that the title to the fishing boat should be determined in Civil Case No. 3597 (not in the intestate proceeding) because it affects the lessee thereof, Lope L. Leoncio, the decedent’s son-in-law, who, although married to his daughter or compulsory heir, is nevertheless a third person with respect to his estate. … (Emphasis supplied).
By the same token, the provision of Article 999 of the Civil Code aforecited does not support petitioner’s claim. A careful examination of the said Article confirms that the estate contemplated therein is the estate of the deceased spouse. The estate which is the subject matter of the intestate estate proceedings in this case is that of the deceased Petra V. Rosales, the mother-in-law of the petitioner. It is from the estate of Petra V. Rosales that Macikequerox Rosales draws a share of the inheritance by the right of representation as provided by Article 981 of the Code.
The essence and nature of the right of representation is explained by Articles 970 and 971 of the Civil Code, viz –
Art. 970. Representation is a right created by fiction of law, by virtue of which the representative is raised to the place and the degree of the person represented, and acquires the rights which the latter would have if he were living or if he could have inherited.
Art. 971. The representative is called to the succession by the law and not by the person represented. The representative does not succeed the person represented but the one whom the person represented would have succeeded. (Emphasis supplied.)
Article 971 explicitly declares that Macikequerox Rosales is called to succession by law because of his blood relationship. He does not succeed his father, Carterio Rosales (the person represented) who predeceased his grandmother, Petra Rosales, but the latter whom his father would have succeeded. Petitioner cannot assert the same right of representation as she has no filiation by blood with her mother-in-law.
Petitioner however contends that at the time of the death of her husband Carterio Rosales he had an inchoate or contingent right to the properties of Petra Rosales as compulsory heir. Be that as it may, said right of her husband was extinguished by his death that is why it is their son Macikequerox Rosales who succeeded from Petra Rosales by right of representation. He did not succeed from his deceased father, Carterio Rosales.
On the basis of the foregoing observations and conclusions, We find it unnecessary to pass upon the second question posed by the petitioner.
Accordingly, it is Our considered opinion, and We so hold, that a surviving spouse is not an intestate heir of his or her parent-in-law.
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Petition is hereby DENIED for lack of merit, with costs against the petitioner. Let this case be remanded to the trial-court for further proceedings.
G.R. No. L-30977 January 31, 1972
CARMEN LAPUZ SY, represented by her substitute MACARIO LAPUZ, petitioner-appellant,
EUFEMIO S. EUFEMIO alias EUFEMIO SY UY, respondent-appellee.
REYES J.B.L., J.:p
Petition, filed after the effectivity of Republic Act 5440, for review by certiorari of an order, dated 29 July 1969, of the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court of Manila, in its Civil Case No. 20387, dismissing said case for legal separation on the ground that the death of the therein plaintiff, Carmen O. Lapuz Sy, which occurred during the pendency of the case, abated the cause of action as well as the action itself. The dismissal order was issued over the objection of Macario Lapuz, the heir of the deceased plaintiff (and petitioner herein) who sought to substitute the deceased and to have the case prosecuted to final judgment.
On 18 August 1953, Carmen O. Lapuz Sy filed a petition for legal separation against Eufemio S. Eufemio, alleging, in the main, that they were married civilly on 21 September 1934 and canonically on 30 September 1934; that they had lived together as husband and wife continuously until 1943 when her husband abandoned her; that they had no child; that they acquired properties during their marriage; and that she discovered her husband cohabiting with a Chinese woman named Go Hiok at 1319 Sisa Street, Manila, on or about March 1949. She prayed for the issuance of a decree of legal separation, which, among others, would order that the defendant Eufemio S. Eufemio should be deprived of his share of the conjugal partnership profits.
In his second amended answer to the petition, herein respondent Eufemio S. Eufemio alleged affirmative and special defenses, and, along with several other claims involving money and other properties, counter-claimed for the declaration of nullity ab initio of his marriage with Carmen O. Lapuz Sy, on the ground of his prior and subsisting marriage, celebrated according to Chinese law and customs, with one Go Hiok, alias Ngo Hiok.
Issues having been joined, trial proceeded and the parties adduced their respective evidence. But before the trial could be completed (the respondent was already scheduled to present surrebuttal evidence on 9 and 18 June 1969), petitioner Carmen O. Lapuz Sy died in a vehicular accident on 31 May 1969. Counsel for petitioner duly notified the court of her death.
On 9 June 1969, respondent Eufemio moved to dismiss the “petition for legal separation” 1on two (2) grounds, namely: that the petition for legal separation was filed beyond the one-year period provided for in Article 102 of the Civil Code; and that the death of Carmen abated the action for legal separation.
On 26 June 1969, counsel for deceased petitioner moved to substitute the deceased Carmen by her father, Macario Lapuz. Counsel for Eufemio opposed the motion.
On 29 July 1969, the court issued the order under review, dismissing the case. 2In the body of the order, the court stated that the motion to dismiss and the motion for substitution had to be resolved on the question of whether or not the plaintiff’s cause of action has survived, which the court resolved in the negative. Petitioner’s moved to reconsider but the motion was denied on 15 September 1969.
After first securing an extension of time to file a petition for review of the order of dismissal issued by the juvenile and domestic relations court, the petitioner filed the present petition on 14 October 1969. The same was given due course and answer thereto was filed by respondent, who prayed for the affirmance of the said order. 3
Although the defendant below, the herein respondent Eufemio S. Eufemio, filed counterclaims, he did not pursue them after the court below dismissed the case. He acquiesced in the dismissal of said counterclaims by praying for the affirmance of the order that dismissed not only the petition for legal separation but also his counterclaim to declare the Eufemio-Lapuz marriage to be null and void ab initio.
But petitioner Carmen O. Lapuz Sy (through her self-assumed substitute – for the lower court did not act on the motion for substitution) stated the principal issue to be as follows:
When an action for legal separation is converted by the counterclaim into one for a declaration of nullity of a marriage, does the death of a party abate the proceedings?
The issue as framed by petitioner injects into it a supposed conversion of a legal separation suit to one for declaration of nullity of a marriage, which is without basis, for even petitioner asserted that “the respondent has acquiesced to the dismissal of his counterclaim” (Petitioner’s Brief, page 22). Not only this. The petition for legal separation and the counterclaim to declare the nullity of the self same marriage can stand independent and separate adjudication. They are not inseparable nor was the action for legal separation converted into one for a declaration of nullity by the counterclaim, for legal separation pre-supposes a valid marriage, while the petition for nullity has a voidable marriage as a pre-condition.
The first real issue in this case is: Does the death of the plaintiff before final decree, in an action for legal separation, abate the action? If it does, will abatement also apply if the action involves property rights? .
An action for legal separation which involves nothing more than the bed-and-board separation of the spouses (there being no absolute divorce in this jurisdiction) is purely personal. The Civil Code of the Philippines recognizes this in its Article 100, by allowing only the innocent spouse (and no one else) to claim legal separation; and in its Article 108, by providing that the spouses can, by their reconciliation, stop or abate the proceedings and even rescind a decree of legal separation already rendered. Being personal in character, it follows that the death of one party to the action causes the death of the action itself – actio personalis moritur cum persona.
… When one of the spouses is dead, there is no need for divorce, because the marriage is dissolved. The heirs cannot even continue the suit, if the death of the spouse takes place during the course of the suit (Article 244, Section 3). The action is absolutely dead (Cass., July 27, 1871, D. 71. 1. 81; Cass. req., May 8, 1933, D. H. 1933, 332.”) 4 .
Marriage is a personal relation or status, created under the sanction of law, and an action for divorce is a proceeding brought for the purpose of effecting a dissolution of that relation. The action is one of a personal nature. In the absence of a statute to the contrary, the death of one of the parties to such action abates the action, for the reason that death has settled the question of separation beyond all controversy and deprived the court of jurisdiction, both over the persons of the parties to the action and of the subject-matter of the action itself. For this reason the courts are almost unanimous in holding that the death of either party to a divorce proceeding, before final decree, abates the action. 1 Corpus Juris, 208; Wren v. Moss, 2 Gilman, 72; Danforth v. Danforth, 111 Ill. 236; Matter of Grandall, 196 N.Y. 127, 89 N.E. 578; 134 Am St. Rep. 830; 17 Ann. Cas. 874; Wilcon v. Wilson, 73 Mich, 620, 41 N.W. 817; Strickland v. Strickland, 80 Ark. 452, 97 S. W. 659; McCurley v. McCurley, 60 Md. 185, 45 Am. Rep. 717; Begbie v. Begbie, 128 Cal. 155, 60 Pac. 667, 49 L.R.A. 141. 5
The same rule is true of causes of action and suits for separation and maintenance (Johnson vs. Bates, Ark. 101 SW 412; 1 Corpus Juris 208).
A review of the resulting changes in property relations between spouses shows that they are solely the effect of the decree of legal separation; hence, they can not survive the death of the plaintiff if it occurs prior to the decree. On the point, Article 106 of the Civil Code provides: .
Art. 106. The decree of legal separation shall have the following effects:
(1) The spouses shall be entitled to live separately from each other, but the marriage bonds shall not be severed; .
(2) The conjugal partnership of gains or the absolute conjugal community of property shall be dissolved and liquidated, but the offending spouse shall have no right to any share of the profits earned by the partnership or community, without prejudice to the provisions of article 176;
(3) The custody of the minor children shall be awarded to the innocent spouse, unless otherwise directed by the court in the interest of said minors, for whom said court may appoint a guardian;
(4) The offending spouse shall be disqualified from inheriting from the innocent spouse by intestate succession. Moreover, provisions in favor of the offending spouse made in the will of the innocent one shall be revoked by operation of law.
From this article it is apparent that the right to the dissolution of the conjugal partnership of gains (or of the absolute community of property), the loss of right by the offending spouse to any share of the profits earned by the partnership or community, or his disqualification to inherit by intestacy from the innocent spouse as well as the revocation of testamentary provisions in favor of the offending spouse made by the innocent one, are all rights and disabilities that, by the very terms of the Civil Code article, are vested exclusively in the persons of the spouses; and by their nature and intent, such claims and disabilities are difficult to conceive as assignable or transmissible. Hence, a claim to said rights is not a claim that “is not thereby extinguished” after a party dies, under Section 17, Rule 3, of the Rules of Court, to warrant continuation of the action through a substitute of the deceased party.
Sec. 17. Death of party. After a party dies and the claim is not thereby extinguished, the court shall order, upon proper notice, the legal representative of the deceased to appear and to be substituted for the deceased, within a period of thirty (30) days, or within such time as may be granted…
The same result flows from a consideration of the enumeration of the actions that survive for or against administrators in Section 1, Rule 87, of the Revised Rules of Court:
SECTION 1. Actions which may and which may not be brought against executor or administrator. No action upon a claim for the recovery of money or debt or interest thereon shall be commenced against the executor or administrator; but actions to recover real or personal property, or an interest therein, from the estate, or to enforce a lien thereon, and actions to recover damages for an injury to person or property, real or personal, may be commenced against him.
Neither actions for legal separation or for annulment of marriage can be deemed fairly included in the enumeration..
A further reason why an action for legal separation is abated by the death of the plaintiff, even if property rights are involved, is that these rights are mere effects of decree of separation, their source being the decree itself; without the decree such rights do not come into existence, so that before the finality of a decree, these claims are merely rights in expectation. If death supervenes during the pendency of the action, no decree can be forthcoming, death producing a more radical and definitive separation; and the expected consequential rights and claims would necessarily remain unborn.
As to the petition of respondent-appellee Eufemio for a declaration of nullity ab initio of his marriage to Carmen Lapuz, it is apparent that such action became moot and academic upon the death of the latter, and there could be no further interest in continuing the same after her demise, that automatically dissolved the questioned union. Any property rights acquired by either party as a result of Article 144 of the Civil Code of the Philippines 6 could be resolved and determined in a proper action for partition by either the appellee or by the heirs of the appellant.
In fact, even if the bigamous marriage had not been void ab initio but only voidable under Article 83, paragraph 2, of the Civil Code, because the second marriage had been contracted with the first wife having been an absentee for seven consecutive years, or when she had been generally believed dead, still the action for annulment became extinguished as soon as one of the three persons involved had died, as provided in Article 87, paragraph 2, of the Code, requiring that the action for annulment should be brought during the lifetime of any one of the parties involved. And furthermore, the liquidation of any conjugal partnership that might have resulted from such voidable marriage must be carried out “in the testate or intestate proceedings of the deceased spouse”, as expressly provided in Section 2 of the Revised Rule 73, and not in the annulment proceeding.
ACCORDINGLY, the appealed judgment of the Manila Court of Juvenile and Domestic Relations is hereby affirmed. No special pronouncement as to costs.
G.R. No. 82233 March 22, 1990
JOSE BARITUA and EDGAR BITANCOR, petitioners,
HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, NICOLAS NACARIO and VICTORIA RONDA NACARIO, respondents.
This petition for review on certiorari assails as erroneous and contrary to existing relevant laws and applicable jurisprudence the decision 1 of the Court of Appeals dated December 11, 1987 which reversed and set aside that of the Regional Trial Court, Branch XXXII, at Pili, Camarines Sur. 2 The challenged decision adjudged the petitioners liable to the private respondents in the total amount of P20,505.00 and for costs.
The facts are as follows:
In the evening of November 7, 1979, the tricycle then being driven by Bienvenido Nacario along the national highway at Barangay San Cayetano, in Baao, Camarines Sur, figured in an accident with JB Bus No. 80 driven by petitioner Edgar Bitancor and owned and operated by petitioner Jose Baritua. 3 As a result of that accident Bienvenido and his passenger died 4 and the tricycle was damaged. 5No criminal case arising from the incident was ever instituted. 6
Subsequently, on March 27, 1980, as a consequence of the extra-judicial settlement of the matter negotiated by the petitioners and the bus insurer – Philippine First Insurance Company, Incorporated (PFICI for brevity) – Bienvenido Nacario’s widow, Alicia Baracena Vda. de Nacario, received P18,500.00. In consideration of the amount she received, Alicia executed on March 27, 1980 a “Release of Claim” in favor of the petitioners and PFICI, releasing and forever discharging them from all actions, claims, and demands arising from the accident which resulted in her husband’s death and the damage to the tricycle which the deceased was then driving. Alicia likewise executed an affidavit of desistance in which she formally manifested her lack of interest in instituting any case, either civil or criminal, against the petitioners. 7
On September 2, 1981, or about one year and ten months from the date of the accident on November 7, 1979, the private respondents, who are the parents of Bienvenido Nacario, filed a complaint for damages against the petitioners with the then Court of First Instance of Camarines Sur. 8 In their complaint, the private respondents alleged that during the vigil for their deceased son, the petitioners through their representatives promised them (the private respondents) that as extra-judicial settlement, they shall be indemnified for the death of their son, for the funeral expenses incurred by reason thereof, and for the damage for the tricycle the purchase price of which they (the private respondents) only loaned to the victim. The petitioners, however, reneged on their promise and instead negotiated and settled their obligations with the long-estranged wife of their late son. The Nacario spouses prayed that the defendants, petitioners herein, be ordered to indemnify them in the amount of P25,000.00 for the death of their son Bienvenido, P10,000.00 for the damaged tricycle, P25,000.00 for compensatory and exemplary damages, P5,000.00 for attorney’s fees, and for moral damages. 9
After trial, the court a quo dismissed the complaint, holding that the payment by the defendants (herein petitioners) to the widow and her child, who are the preferred heirs and successors-in-interest of the deceased Bienvenido to the exclusion of his parents, the plaintiffs (herein private respondents), extinguished any claim against the defendants (petitioners). 10
The parents appealed to the Court of Appeals which reversed the judgment of the trial court. The appellate court ruled that the release executed by Alicia Baracena Vda. de Nacario did not discharge the liability of the petitioners because the case was instituted by the private respondents in their own capacity and not as “heirs, representatives, successors, and assigns” of Alicia; and Alicia could not have validly waived the damages being prayed for (by the private respondents) since she was not the one who suffered these damages arising from the death of their son. Furthermore, the appellate court said that the petitioners “failed to rebut the testimony of the appellants (private respondents) that they were the ones who bought the tricycle that was damaged in the incident. Appellants had the burden of proof of such fact, and they did establish such fact in their testimony . . . 11 Anent the funeral expenses, “(T)he expenses for the funeral were likewise shouldered by the appellants (the private respondents). This was never contradicted by the appellees (petitioners). . . . Payment (for these) were made by the appellants, therefore, the reimbursement must accrue in their favor. 12
Consequently, the respondent appellate court ordered the petitioners to pay the private respondents P10,000.00 for the damage of the tricycle, P5,000.00 for “complete” funeral services, P450.00 for cemetery lot, P55.00 for oracion adulto, and P5,000.00 for attorney’s fees. 13 The petitioners moved for
a reconsideration of the appellate court’s decision 14but their motion was denied. 15 Hence, this petition.
The issue here is whether or not the respondent appellate court erred in holding that the petitioners are still liable to pay the private respondents the aggregate amount of P20,505.00 despite the agreement of extrajudicial settlement between the petitioners and the victim’s compulsory heirs.
The petition is meritorious.
Obligations are extinguished by various modes among them being by payment. Article 1231 of the Civil Code of the Philippines provides:
Art. 1231. Obligations are extinguished:
(1) By payment or performance;
(2) By the loss of the thing due;
(3) By the condonation or remission of the debt;
(4) By the confusion or merger of the rights of creditor and debtor;
(5) By compensation;
(6) By novation.
There is no denying that the petitioners had paid their obligation petition arising from the accident that occurred on November 7, 1979. The only question now is whether or not Alicia, the spouse and the one who received the petitioners’ payment, is entitled to it.
Article 1240 of the Civil Code of the Philippines enumerates the persons to whom payment to extinguish an obligation should be made.
Art 1240. Payment shall be made to the person in whose favor the obligation has been constituted, or his successor in interest, or any person authorized to receive it.
Certainly there can be no question that Alicia and her son with the deceased are the successors in interest referred to in law as the persons authorized to receive payment. The Civil Code states:
Article 887. The following are compulsory heirs:
1. Legitimate children and descendants, with respect to their legitimate parents and ascendants;
2. In default of the foregoing, legitimate parents and ascendants with respect to their legitimate children and decendants;
3. The widow or widower;
4. Acknowledged natural children and natural children by legal fiction;
5. Other illegitimate children referred to in Article 287.
Compulsory heirs mentioned in Nos. 3, 4 and 5 are not excluded by those in Nos. 1 and 2. Neither do they exclude one another. (Emphasis ours.)
Article 985. In default of legitimate children and descendants of the deceased, his parents and ascendants shall inherit from him, to the exclusion of collateral relatives.
It is patently clear that the parents of the deceased succeed only when the latter dies without a legitimate descendant. On the other hand, the surviving spouse concurs with all classes of heirs. As it has been established that Bienvenido was married to Alicia and that they begot a child, the private respondents are not successors-in-interest of Bienvenido; they are not compulsory heirs. The petitioners therefore acted correctly in settling their obligation with Alicia as the widow of Bienvenido and as the natural guardian of their lone child. This is so even if Alicia had been estranged from Bienvenido. Mere estrangement is not a legal ground for the disqualification of a surviving spouse as an heir of the deceased spouse.
Neither could the private respondents, as alleged creditors of Bienvenido, seek relief and compensation from the petitioners. While it may be true that the private respondents loaned to Bienvenido the purchase price of the damaged tricycle and shouldered the expenses for his funeral, the said purchase price and expenses are but money claims against the estate of their deceased son. 16 These money claims are not the liabilities of the petitioners who, as we have said, had been released by the agreement of the extra-judicial settlement they concluded with Alicia Baracena Vda. de Nacario, the victim’s widow and heir, as well as the natural guardian of their child, her co-heir. As a matter of fact, she executed a “Release Of Claim” in favor of the petitioners.
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED; the decision of the Court of Appeals is REVERSED and SET ASIDE and the decision of the Regional Trial Court is hereby REINSTATED. Costs against the private respondents.
G.R. No. 83484 February 12, 1990
CELEDONIA SOLIVIO, petitioner,
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS and CONCORDIA JAVELLANA VILLANUEVA, respondents.
This is a petition for review of the decision dated January 26, 1988 of the Court of Appeals in CA GR CV No. 09010 (Concordia Villanueva v. Celedonia Solivio) affirming the decision of the trial court in Civil Case No. 13207 for partition, reconveyance of ownership and possession and damages, the dispositive portion of which reads as follows:
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered for the plaintiff and against defendant:
a) Ordering that the estate of the late Esteban Javellana, Jr. be divided into two (2) shares: one-half for the plaintiff and one-half for defendant. From both shares shall be equally deducted the expenses for the burial, mausoleum and related expenditures. Against the share of defendants shall be charged the expenses for scholarship, awards, donations and the ‘Salustia Solivio Vda. de Javellana Memorial Foundation;’
b) Directing the defendant to submit an inventory of the entire estate property, including but not limited to, specific items already mentioned in this decision and to render an accounting of the property of the estate, within thirty (30) days from receipt of this judgment; one-half (1/2) of this produce shall belong to plaintiff;
c) Ordering defendant to pay plaintiff P5,000.00 as expenses of litigation; P10,000.00 for and as attorney’s fees plus costs.
SO ORDERED. (pp. 42-43, Rollo)
This case involves the estate of the late novelist, Esteban Javellana, Jr., author of the first post-war Filipino novel “Without Seeing the Dawn,” who died a bachelor, without descendants, ascendants, brothers, sisters, nephews or nieces. His only surviving relatives are: (1) his maternal aunt, petitioner Celedonia Solivio, the spinster half-sister of his mother, Salustia Solivio; and (2) the private respondent, Concordia Javellana-Villanueva, sister of his deceased father, Esteban Javellana, Sr.
He was a posthumous child. His father died barely ten (10) months after his marriage in December, 1916 to Salustia Solivio and four months before Esteban, Jr. was born.
Salustia and her sister, Celedonia (daughter of Engracio Solivio and his second wife Josefa Fernandez), a teacher in the Iloilo Provincial High School, brought up Esteban, Jr.
Salustia brought to her marriage paraphernal properties (various parcels of land in Calinog, Iloilo covered by 24 titles) which she had inherited from her mother, Gregoria Celo, Engracio Solivio’s first wife (p. 325, Record), but no conjugal property was acquired during her short-lived marriage to Esteban, Sr.
On October 11, 1959, Salustia died, leaving all her properties to her only child, Esteban, Jr., including a house and lot in La Paz, Iloilo City, where she, her son, and her sister lived. In due time, the titles of all these properties were transferred in the name of Esteban, Jr.
During his lifetime, Esteban, Jr. had, more than once, expressed to his aunt Celedonia and some close friends his plan to place his estate in a foundation to honor his mother and to help poor but deserving students obtain a college education. Unfortunately, he died of a heart attack on February 26,1977 without having set up the foundation.
Two weeks after his funeral, Concordia and Celedonia talked about what to do with Esteban’s properties. Celedonia told Concordia about Esteban’s desire to place his estate in a foundation to be named after his mother, from whom his properties came, for the purpose of helping indigent students in their schooling. Concordia agreed to carry out the plan of the deceased. This fact was admitted by her in her “Motion to Reopen and/or Reconsider the Order dated April 3, 1978” which she filed on July 27, 1978 in Special Proceeding No. 2540, where she stated:
4. That petitioner knew all along the narrated facts in the immediately preceding paragraph [that herein movant is also the relative of the deceased within the third degree, she being the younger sister of the late Esteban Javellana, father of the decedent herein], because prior to the filing of the petition they (petitioner Celedonia Solivio and movant Concordia Javellana) have agreed to make the estate of the decedent a foundation, besides they have closely known each other due to their filiation to the decedent and they have been visiting each other’s house which are not far away for (sic) each other. (p. 234, Record; Emphasis supplied.)
Pursuant to their agreement that Celedonia would take care of the proceedings leading to the formation of the foundation, Celedonia in good faith and upon the advice of her counsel, filed on March 8, 1977 Spl. Proceeding No. 2540 for her appointment as special administratrix of the estate of Esteban Javellana, Jr. (Exh. 2). Later, she filed an amended petition (Exh. 5) praying that letters of administration be issued to her; that she be declared sole heir of the deceased; and that after payment of all claims and rendition of inventory and accounting, the estate be adjudicated to her (p. 115, Rollo).
After due publication and hearing of her petition, as well as her amended petition, she was declared sole heir of the estate of Esteban Javellana, Jr. She explained that this was done for three reasons: (1) because the properties of the estate had come from her sister, Salustia Solivio; (2) that she is the decedent’s nearest relative on his mother’s side; and (3) with her as sole heir, the disposition of the properties of the estate to fund the foundation would be facilitated.
On April 3, 1978, the court (Branch II, CFI, now Branch 23, RTC) declared her the sole heir of Esteban, Jr. Thereafter, she sold properties of the estate to pay the taxes and other obligations of the deceased and proceeded to set up the “SALUSTIA SOLIVIO VDA. DE JAVELLANA FOUNDATION” which she caused to be registered in the Securities and Exchange Commission on July 17,1981 under Reg. No. 0100027 (p. 98, Rollo).
Four months later, or on August 7, 1978, Concordia Javellana Villanueva filed a motion for reconsideration of the court’s order declaring Celedonia as “sole heir” of Esteban, Jr., because she too was an heir of the deceased. On October 27, 1978, her motion was denied by the court for tardiness (pp. 80-81, Record). Instead of appealing the denial, Concordia filed on January 7, 1980 (or one year and two months later), Civil Case No. 13207 in the Regional Trial Court of Iloilo, Branch 26, entitled “Concordia Javellana- Villanueva v. Celedonia Solivio” for partition, recovery of possession, ownership and damages.
On September 3, 1984, the said trial court rendered judgment in Civil Case No. 13207, in favor of Concordia Javellana-Villanueva.
On Concordia’s motion, the trial court ordered the execution of its judgment pending appeal and required Celedonia to submit an inventory and accounting of the estate. In her motions for reconsideration of those orders, Celedonia averred that the properties of the deceased had already been transferred to, and were in the possession of, the ‘Salustia Solivio Vda. de Javellana Foundation.” The trial court denied her motions for reconsideration.
In the meantime, Celedonia perfected an appeal to the Court of Appeals (CA GR CV No. 09010). On January 26, 1988, the Court of Appeals, Eleventh Division, rendered judgment affirming the decision of the trial court in toto. Hence, this petition for review wherein she raised the following legal issues:
1. whether Branch 26 of the RTC of Iloilo had jurisdiction to entertain Civil Case No. 13207 for partition and recovery of Concordia Villanueva’s share of the estate of Esteban Javellana, Jr. even while the probate proceedings (Spl. Proc. No. 2540) were still pending in Branch 23 of the same court;
2. whether Concordia Villanueva was prevented from intervening in Spl. Proc. No. 2540 through extrinsic fraud;
3. whether the decedent’s properties were subject to reserva troncal in favor of Celedonia, his relative within the third degree on his mother’s side from whom he had inherited them; and
4. whether Concordia may recover her share of the estate after she had agreed to place the same in the Salustia Solivio Vda. de Javellana Foundation, and notwithstanding the fact that conformably with said agreement, the Foundation has been formed and properties of the estate have already been transferred to it.
I. The question of jurisdiction-
After a careful review of the records, we find merit in the petitioner’s contention that the Regional Trial Court, Branch 26, lacked jurisdiction to entertain Concordia Villanueva’s action for partition and recovery of her share of the estate of Esteban Javellana, Jr. while the probate proceedings (Spl, Proc. No. 2540) for the settlement of said estate are still pending in Branch 23 of the same court, there being as yet no orders for the submission and approval of the administratix’s inventory and accounting, distributing the residue of the estate to the heir, and terminating the proceedings (p. 31, Record).
It is the order of distribution directing the delivery of the residue of the estate to the persons entitled thereto that brings to a close the intestate proceedings, puts an end to the administration and thus far relieves the administrator from his duties (Santiesteban v. Santiesteban, 68 Phil. 367, Philippine Commercial and Industrial Bank v. Escolin, et al., L-27860, March 29, 1974, 56 SCRA 266).
The assailed order of Judge Adil in Spl. Proc. No. 2540 declaring Celedonia as the sole heir of the estate of Esteban Javellana, Jr. did not toll the end of the proceedings. As a matter of fact, the last paragraph of the order directed the administratrix to “hurry up the settlement of the estate.” The pertinent portions of the order are quoted below:
2. As regards the second incident [Motion for Declaration of Miss Celedonia Solivio as Sole Heir, dated March 7, 1978], it appears from the record that despite the notices posted and the publication of these proceedings as required by law, no other heirs came out to interpose any opposition to the instant proceeding. It further appears that herein Administratrix is the only claimant-heir to the estate of the late Esteban Javellana who died on February 26, 1977.
During the hearing of the motion for declaration as heir on March 17, 1978, it was established that the late Esteban Javellana died single, without any known issue, and without any surviving parents. His nearest relative is the herein Administratrix, an elder [sic] sister of his late mother who reared him and with whom he had always been living with [sic] during his lifetime.
x x x x x x x x x
2. Miss Celedonia Solivio, Administratrix of this estate, is hereby declared as the sole and legal heir of the late Esteban S. Javellana, who died intestate on February 26, 1977 at La Paz, Iloilo City.
The Administratrix is hereby instructed to hurry up with the settlement of this estate so that it can be terminated. (pp, 14-16, Record)
In view of the pendency of the probate proceedings in Branch 11 of the Court of First Instance (now RTC, Branch 23), Concordia’s motion to set aside the order declaring Celedonia as sole heir of Esteban, and to have herself (Concordia) declared as co-heir and recover her share of the properties of the deceased, was properly filed by her in Spl. Proc. No. 2540. Her remedy when the court denied her motion, was to elevate the denial to the Court of Appeals for review on certiorari. However, instead of availing of that remedy, she filed more than one year later, a separate action for the same purpose in Branch 26 of the court. We hold that the separate action was improperly filed for it is the probate court that has exclusive jurisdiction to make a just and legal distribution of the estate.
In the interest of orderly procedure and to avoid confusing and conflicting dispositions of a decedent’s estate, a court should not interfere with probate proceedings pending in a co-equal court. Thus, did we rule in Guilas v. Judge of the Court of First Instance of Pampanga, L-26695, January 31, 1972, 43 SCRA 111, 117, where a daughter filed a separate action to annul a project of partition executed between her and her father in the proceedings for the settlement of the estate of her mother:
The probate court loses jurisdiction of an estate under administration only after the payment of all the debts and the remaining estate delivered to the heirs entitled to receive the same. The finality of the approval of the project of The probate court, in the exercise of its jurisdiction to make distribution, has power to determine the proportion or parts to which each distributed is entitled. … The power to determine the legality or illegality of the testamentary provision is inherent in the jurisdiction of the court making a just and legal distribution of the inheritance. … To hold that a separate and independent action is necessary to that effect, would be contrary to the general tendency of the jurisprudence of avoiding multiplicity of suits; and is further, expensive, dilatory, and impractical. (Marcelino v. Antonio, 70 Phil. 388)
A judicial declaration that a certain person is the only heir of the decedent is exclusively within the range of the administratrix proceedings and can not properly be made an independent action. (Litam v. Espiritu, 100 Phil. 364)
A separate action for the declaration of heirs is not proper. (Pimentel v. Palanca, 5 Phil. 436)
partition by itself alone does not terminate the probate proceeding (Timbol v. Cano, 1 SCRA 1271, 1276, L-15445, April 29, 1961; Siguiong v. Tecson, 89 Phil. pp. 28, 30). As long as the order of the distribution of the estate has not been complied with, the probate proceedings cannot be deemed closed and terminated Siguiong v. Tecson, supra); because a judicial partition is not final and conclusive and does not prevent the heirs from bringing an action to obtain his share, provided the prescriptive period therefore has not elapsed (Mari v. Bonilia, 83 Phil. 137). The better practice, however, for the heir who has not received his share, is to demand his share through a proper motion in the same probate or administration proceedings, or for reopening of the probate or administrative proceedings if it had already been closed, and not through an independent action, which would be tried by another court or Judge which may thus reverse a decision or order of the probate or intestate court already final and executed and re-shuffle properties long ago distributed and disposed of. (Ramos v. Ortuzar, 89 Phil. 730, 741-742; Timbol v. Cano, supra; Jingco v. Daluz, L-5107, April 24, 1953, 92 Phil. 1082; Roman Catholic v. Agustines, L-14710, March 29, 1960, 107 Phil. 455, 460-461; Emphasis supplied)
In Litam et al., v. Rivera, 100 Phil. 364, where despite the pendency of the special proceedings for the settlement of the intestate estate of the deceased Rafael Litam the plaintiffs-appellants filed a civil action in which they claimed that they were the children by a previous marriage of the deceased to a Chinese woman, hence, entitled to inherit his one-half share of the conjugal properties acquired during his marriage to Marcosa Rivera, the trial court in the civil case declared that the plaintiffs-appellants were not children of the deceased, that the properties in question were paraphernal properties of his wife, Marcosa Rivera, and that the latter was his only heir. On appeal to this Court, we ruled that “such declarations (that Marcosa Rivera was the only heir of the decedent) is improper, in Civil Case No. 2071, it being within the exclusive competence of the court in Special Proceedings No. 1537, in which it is not as yet, in issue, and, will not be, ordinarily, in issue until the presentation of the project of partition. (p. 378).
However, in the Guilas case, supra, since the estate proceedings had been closed and terminated for over three years, the action for annulment of the project of partition was allowed to continue. Considering that in the instant case, the estate proceedings are still pending, but nonetheless, Concordia had lost her right to have herself declared as co-heir in said proceedings, We have opted likewise to proceed to discuss the merits of her claim in the interest of justice.
The orders of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 26, in Civil Case No. 13207 setting aside the probate proceedings in Branch 23 (formerly Branch 11) on the ground of extrinsic fraud, and declaring Concordia Villanueva to be a co-heir of Celedonia to the estate of Esteban, Jr., ordering the partition of the estate, and requiring the administratrix, Celedonia, to submit an inventory and accounting of the estate, were improper and officious, to say the least, for these matters he within the exclusive competence of the probate court.
II. The question of extrinsic fraud-
Was Concordia prevented from intervening in the intestate proceedings by extrinsic fraud employed by Celedonia? It is noteworthy that extrinsic fraud was not alleged in Concordia’s original complaint in Civil Case No. 13207. It was only in her amended complaint of March 6, 1980, that extrinsic fraud was alleged for the first time.
Extrinsic fraud, as a ground for annulment of judgment, is any act or conduct of the prevailing party which prevented a fair submission of the controversy (Francisco v. David, 38 O.G. 714). A fraud ‘which prevents a party from having a trial or presenting all of his case to the court, or one which operates upon matters pertaining, not to the judgment itself, but to the manner by which such judgment was procured so much so that there was no fair submission of the controversy. For instance, if through fraudulent machination by one [his adversary], a litigant was induced to withdraw his defense or was prevented from presenting an available defense or cause of action in the case wherein the judgment was obtained, such that the aggrieved party was deprived of his day in court through no fault of his own, the equitable relief against such judgment may be availed of. (Yatco v. Sumagui, 44623-R, July 31, 1971). (cited in Philippine Law Dictionary, 1972 Ed. by Moreno; Varela v. Villanueva, et al., 96 Phil. 248)
A judgment may be annulled on the ground of extrinsic or collateral fraud, as distinguished from intrinsic fraud, which connotes any fraudulent scheme executed by a prevailing litigant ‘outside the trial of a case against the defeated party, or his agents, attorneys or witnesses, whereby said defeated party is prevented from presenting fully and fairly his side of the case. … The overriding consideration is that the fraudulent scheme of the prevailing litigant prevented a party from having his day in court or from presenting his case. The fraud, therefore, is one that affects and goes into the jurisdiction of the court. (Libudan v. Gil, L-21163, May 17, 1972, 45 SCRA 17, 27-29; Sterling Investment Corp. v. Ruiz, L-30694, October 31, 1969, 30 SCRA 318, 323)
The charge of extrinsic fraud is, however, unwarranted for the following reasons:
1. Concordia was not unaware of the special proceeding intended to be filed by Celedonia. She admitted in her complaint that she and Celedonia had agreed that the latter would “initiate the necessary proceeding” and pay the taxes and obligations of the estate. Thus paragraph 6 of her complaint alleged:
6. … for the purpose of facilitating the settlement of the estate of the late Esteban Javellana, Jr. at the lowest possible cost and the least effort, the plaintiff and the defendant agreed that the defendant shall initiate the necessary proceeding, cause the payment of taxes and other obligations, and to do everything else required by law, and thereafter, secure the partition of the estate between her and the plaintiff, [although Celedonia denied that they agreed to partition the estate, for their agreement was to place the estate in a foundation.] (p. 2, Record; emphasis supplied)
Evidently, Concordia was not prevented from intervening in the proceedings. She stayed away by choice. Besides, she knew that the estate came exclusively from Esteban’s mother, Salustia Solivio, and she had agreed with Celedonia to place it in a foundation as the deceased had planned to do.
2. The probate proceedings are proceedings in rem. Notice of the time and place of hearing of the petition is required to be published (Sec. 3, Rule 76 in relation to Sec. 3, Rule 79, Rules of Court). Notice of the hearing of Celedonia’s original petition was published in the “Visayan Tribune” on April 25, May 2 and 9, 1977 (Exh 4, p. 197, Record). Similarly, notice of the hearing of her amended petition of May 26, 1977 for the settlement of the estate was, by order of the court, published in “Bagong Kasanag” (New Light) issues of May 27, June 3 and 10, 1977 (pp. 182-305, Record). The publication of the notice of the proceedings was constructive notice to the whole world. Concordia was not deprived of her right to intervene in the proceedings for she had actual, as well as constructive notice of the same. As pointed out by the probate court in its order of October 27, 1978:
… . The move of Concordia Javellana, however, was filed about five months after Celedonia Solivio was declared as the sole heir. … .
Considering that this proceeding is one in rem and had been duly published as required by law, despite which the present movant only came to court now, then she is guilty of laches for sleeping on her alleged right. (p. 22, Record)
The court noted that Concordia’s motion did not comply with the requisites of a petition for relief from judgment nor a motion for new trial.
The rule is stated in 49 Corpus Juris Secundum 8030 as follows:
Where petition was sufficient to invoke statutory jurisdiction of probate court and proceeding was in rem no subsequent errors or irregularities are available on collateral attack. (Bedwell v. Dean 132 So. 20)
Celedonia’s allegation in her petition that she was the sole heir of Esteban within the third degree on his mother’s side was not false. Moreover, it was made in good faith and in the honest belief that because the properties of Esteban had come from his mother, not his father, she, as Esteban’s nearest surviving relative on his mother’s side, is the rightful heir to them. It would have been self-defeating and inconsistent with her claim of sole heirship if she stated in her petition that Concordia was her co-heir. Her omission to so state did not constitute extrinsic fraud.
Failure to disclose to the adversary, or to the court, matters which would defeat one’s own claim or defense is not such extrinsic fraud as will justify or require vacation of the judgment. (49 C.J.S. 489, citing Young v. Young, 2 SE 2d 622; First National Bank & Trust Co. of King City v. Bowman, 15 SW 2d 842; Price v. Smith, 109 SW 2d 1144, 1149)
It should be remembered that a petition for administration of a decedent’s estate may be filed by any “interested person” (Sec. 2, Rule 79, Rules of Court). The filing of Celedonia’s petition did not preclude Concordia from filing her own.
III. On the question of reserva troncal-
We find no merit in the petitioner’s argument that the estate of the deceased was subject to reserva troncal and that it pertains to her as his only relative within the third degree on his mother’s side. The reserva troncal provision of the Civil Code is found in Article 891 which reads as follows:
ART. 891. The ascendant who inherits from his descendant any property which the latter may have acquired by gratuitous title from another ascendant, or a brother or sister, is obliged to reserve such property as he may have acquired by operation of law for the benefit of relatives who are within the third degree and who belong to the line from which said property came.
The persons involved in reserva troncal are:
1. The person obliged to reserve is the reservor (reservista)-the ascendant who inherits by operation of law property from his descendants.
2. The persons for whom the property is reserved are the reservees (reservatarios)-relatives within the third degree counted from the descendant (propositus), and belonging to the line from which the property came.
3. The propositus-the descendant who received by gratuitous title and died without issue, making his other ascendant inherit by operation of law. (p. 692, Civil Law by Padilla, Vol. II, 1956 Ed.)
Clearly, the property of the deceased, Esteban Javellana, Jr., is not reservable property, for Esteban, Jr. was not an ascendant, but the descendant of his mother, Salustia Solivio, from whom he inherited the properties in question. Therefore, he did not hold his inheritance subject to a reservation in favor of his aunt, Celedonia Solivio, who is his relative within the third degree on his mother’s side. The reserva troncal applies to properties inherited by an ascendant from a descendant who inherited it from another ascendant or 9 brother or sister. It does not apply to property inherited by a descendant from his ascendant, the reverse of the situation covered by Article 891.
Since the deceased, Esteban Javellana, Jr., died without descendants, ascendants, illegitimate children, surviving spouse, brothers, sisters, nephews or nieces, what should apply in the distribution of his estate are Articles 1003 and 1009 of the Civil Code which provide:
ART. 1003. If there are no descendants, ascendants, illegitimate children, or a surviving spouse, the collateral relatives shall succeed to the entire estate of the deceased in accordance with the following articles.
ART. 1009. Should there be neither brothers nor sisters, nor children of brothers or sisters, the other collateral relatives shall succeed to the estate.
The latter shall succeed without distinction of lines or preference among them by reason of relationship by the whole blood.
Therefore, the Court of Appeals correctly held that:
Both plaintiff-appellee and defendant-appellant being relatives of the decedent within the third degree in the collateral line, each, therefore, shall succeed to the subject estate ‘without distinction of line or preference among them by reason of relationship by the whole blood,’ and is entitled one-half (1/2) share and share alike of the estate. (p. 57, Rollo)
IV. The question of Concordia’s one-half share-
However, inasmuch as Concordia had agreed to deliver the estate of the deceased to the foundation in honor of his mother, Salustia Solivio Vda. de Javellana (from whom the estate came), an agreement which she ratified and confirmed in her “Motion to Reopen and/or Reconsider Order dated April 3, 1978” which she filed in Spl. Proceeding No. 2540:
4. That … prior to the filing of the petition they (petitioner Celedonia Solivio and movant Concordia Javellana) have agreed to make the estate of the decedent a foundation, besides they have closely known each other due to their filiation to the decedent and they have been visiting each other’s house which are not far away for (sic) each other. (p. 234, Record; Emphasis supplied)
she is bound by that agreement. It is true that by that agreement, she did not waive her inheritance in favor of Celedonia, but she did agree to place all of Esteban’s estate in the “Salustia Solivio Vda. de Javellana Foundation” which Esteban, Jr., during his lifetime, planned to set up to honor his mother and to finance the education of indigent but deserving students as well.
Her admission may not be taken lightly as the lower court did. Being a judicial admission, it is conclusive and no evidence need be presented to prove the agreement (Cunanan v. Amparo, 80 Phil. 227; Granada v. Philippine National Bank, L-20745, Sept. 2, 1966, 18 SCRA 1; Sta. Ana v. Maliwat, L-23023, Aug. 31, 1968, 24 SCRA 1018; People v. Encipido, G.R.70091, Dec. 29, 1986, 146 SCRA 478; and Rodillas v. Sandiganbayan, G.R. 58652, May 20, 1988, 161 SCRA 347).
The admission was never withdrawn or impugned by Concordia who, significantly, did not even testify in the case, although she could have done so by deposition if she were supposedly indisposed to attend the trial. Only her husband, Narciso, and son-in-law, Juanito Domin, actively participated in the trial. Her husband confirmed the agreement between his wife and Celedonia, but he endeavored to dilute it by alleging that his wife did not intend to give all, but only one-half, of her share to the foundation (p. 323, Record).
The records show that the “Salustia Solivio Vda. de Javellana Foundation” was established and duly registered in the Securities and Exchange Commission under Reg. No. 0100027 for the following principal purposes:
1. To provide for the establishment and/or setting up of scholarships for such deserving students as the Board of Trustees of the Foundation may decide of at least one scholar each to study at West Visayas State College, and the University of the Philippines in the Visayas both located in Iloilo City.
2. To provide a scholarship for at least one scholar for St. Clements Redemptorist Community for a deserving student who has the religious vocation to become a priest.
3. To foster, develop, and encourage activities that will promote the advancement and enrichment of the various fields of educational endeavors, especially in literary arts. Scholarships provided for by this foundation may be named after its benevolent benefactors as a token of gratitude for their contributions.
4. To direct or undertake surveys and studies in the community to determine community needs and be able to alleviate partially or totally said needs.
5. To maintain and provide the necessary activities for the proper care of the Solivio-Javellana mausoleum at Christ the King Memorial Park, Jaro, Iloilo City, and the Javellana Memorial at the West Visayas State College, as a token of appreciation for the contribution of the estate of the late Esteban S. Javellana which has made this foundation possible. Also, in perpetuation of his Roman Catholic beliefs and those of his mother, Gregorian masses or their equivalents will be offered every February and October, and Requiem masses every February 25th and October llth, their death anniversaries, as part of this provision.
6. To receive gifts, legacies, donations, contributions, endowments and financial aids or loans from whatever source, to invest and reinvest the funds, collect the income thereof and pay or apply only the income or such part thereof as shall be determined by the Trustees for such endeavors as may be necessary to carry out the objectives of the Foundation.
7. To acquire, purchase, own, hold, operate, develop, lease, mortgage, pledge, exchange, sell, transfer, or otherwise, invest, trade, or deal, in any manner permitted by law, in real and personal property of every kind and description or any interest herein.
8. To do and perform all acts and things necessary, suitable or proper for the accomplishments of any of the purposes herein enumerated or which shall at any time appear conducive to the protection or benefit of the corporation, including the exercise of the powers, authorities and attributes concerned upon the corporation organized under the laws of the Philippines in general, and upon domestic corporation of like nature in particular. (pp. 9-10, Rollo)
As alleged without contradiction in the petition’ for review:
The Foundation began to function in June, 1982, and three (3) of its eight Esteban Javellana scholars graduated in 1986, one (1) from UPV graduated Cum Laude and two (2) from WVSU graduated with honors; one was a Cum Laude and the other was a recipient of Lagos Lopez award for teaching for being the most outstanding student teacher.
The Foundation has four (4) high school scholars in Guiso Barangay High School, the site of which was donated by the Foundation. The School has been selected as the Pilot Barangay High School for Region VI.
The Foundation has a special scholar, Fr. Elbert Vasquez, who would be ordained this year. He studied at St. Francis Xavier Major Regional Seminary at Davao City. The Foundation likewise is a member of the Redemptorist Association that gives yearly donations to help poor students who want to become Redemptorist priests or brothers. It gives yearly awards for Creative writing known as the Esteban Javellana Award.
Further, the Foundation had constructed the Esteban S. Javellana Multi-purpose Center at the West Visayas State University for teachers’ and students’ use, and has likewise contributed to religious civic and cultural fund-raising drives, amongst other’s. (p. 10, Rollo)
Having agreed to contribute her share of the decedent’s estate to the Foundation, Concordia is obligated to honor her commitment as Celedonia has honored hers.
WHEREFORE, the petition for review is granted. The decision of the trial court and the Court of Appeals are hereby SET ASIDE. Concordia J. Villanueva is declared an heir of the late Esteban Javellana, Jr. entitled to one-half of his estate. However, comformably with the agreement between her and her co-heir, Celedonia Solivio, the entire estate of the deceased should be conveyed to the “Salustia Solivio Vda. de Javallana Foundation,” of which both the petitioner and the private respondent shall be trustees, and each shall be entitled to nominate an equal number of trustees to constitute the Board of Trustees of the Foundation which shall administer the same for the purposes set forth in its charter. The petitioner, as administratrix of the estate, shall submit to the probate court an inventory and accounting of the estate of the deceased preparatory to terminating the proceedings therein.
G.R. No. L-14856 November 15, 1919
ENCARNACION FLORENTINO, ET AL., plaintiffs-appellants,
MERCEDES FLORENTINO, ET AL., defendants-appellees.
On January 17, 1918, counsel for Encarnacion (together with her husband Simeon Serrano), Gabriel, Magdalena, Ramon, Miguel, Victorino, and Antonino of the surname Florentino; for Miguel Florentino, guardian ad litem of the minor Rosario Florentino; for Eugenio Singson, the father and guardian ad litem of Emilia, Jesus, Lourdes, Caridad, and Dolores of the surname Singson y Florentino; and for Eugenio Singson, guardian of the minors Jose and Asuncion Florentino, filed a complaint in the Court of First Instance of Ilocos Sur, against Mercedes Florentino and her husband, alleging as follows:
That Apolonio Isabelo Florentino II married the first time Antonia Faz de Leon; that during the marriage he begot nine children called, Jose, Juan, Maria, Encarnacion, Isabel, Espirita, Gabriel, Pedro, and Magdalena of the surname Florentino y de Leon; that on becoming a widower he married the second time Severina Faz de Leon with whom he had two children, Mercedes and Apolonio III of the surname Florentino y de Leon; that Apolonio Isabelo Florentino II died on February 13, 1890; that he was survived by his second wife Severina Faz de Leon and the ten children first above mentioned; that his eleventh son, Apolonio III, was born on the following 4th of March 1890.
That of the deceased Apolonio Isabelo’s aforementioned eleven children, Juan, Maria and Isabel died single, without leaving any ascendants or descendants; that Ramon, Miguel, Victorino, Antonio, and Rosario are the legitimate children of the deceased Jose Florentino who was one of the children of the deceased Apolonio Isabelo; that Emilia, Jesus, Lourdes, Caridad, and Dolores are the legitimate children of Espirita Florentino, now deceased, and her husband Eugenio Singson; that Jose and Asuncion are the children of Pedro Florentino, another son of the deceased Apolonio Isabelo Florentino.
That on January 17 and February 13, 1890, Apolonio Isabelo Florentino executed a will before the notary public of Ilocos Sur, instituting as his universal heirs his aforementioned ten children, the posthumos Apolonio III and his widow Severina Faz de Leon; that he declared, in one of the paragraphs of said will, all his property should be divided among all of his children of both marriages.
That, in the partition of the said testator’s estate, there was given to Apolonio Florentino III, his posthumos son, the property marked with the letters A, B, C, D, E, and F in the complaint, a gold rosary, pieces of gold, of silver and of table service, livestock, palay, some personal property and other objects mentioned in the complaint.
That Apolonio Florentino III, the posthumos son of the second marriage, died in 1891; that his mother, Severina Faz de Leon, succeeded to all his property described in the complaint; that the widow, Severina Faz de Leon died on November 18, 1908, leaving a will instituting as her universal heiress her only living daughter, Mercedes Florentino; that, as such heir, said daughter took possession of all the property left at the death of her mother, Severina Faz de Leon; that among same is included the property, described in the complaint, which the said Severina Faz de Leon inherited from her deceased son, the posthumos Apolonio, as reservable property; that, as a reservist, the heir of the said Mercedes Florentino deceased had been gathering for herself alone the fruits of lands described in the complaint; that each and every one of the parties mentioned in said complaint is entitled to one-seventh of the fruits of the reservable property described therein, either by direct participation or by representation, in the manner mentioned in paragraph 9 of the complaint.
That several times the plaintiffs have, in an amicable manner, asked the defendants to deliver their corresponding part of the reservable property; that without any justifiable motive the defendants have refused and do refuse to deliver said property or to pay for its value; that for nine years Mercedes Florentino has been receiving, as rent for the lands mentioned, 360 bundles of palay at fifty pesos per bundle and 90 bundles of corn at four pesos per bundle; that thereby the plaintiffs have suffered damages in the sum of fifteen thousand four hundred and twenty-eight pesos and fifty-eight centavos, in addition to three hundred and eight pesos and fifty-eight centavos for the value of the fruits not gathered, of one thousand pesos (P1,000) for the unjustifiable retention of the aforementioned reservable property and for the expenses of this suit. Wherefore they pray it be declared that all the foregoing property is reservable property; that the plaintiffs had and do have a right to the same, in the quantity and proportion mentioned in the aforementioned paragraph 9 of the complaint; that the defendants Mercedes Florentino and her husband be ordered to deliver to the plaintiffs their share of the property in question, of the palay and of the corn above mentioned, or their value; and that they be condemned to pay the plaintiffs the sum of one thousand pesos (P1,000) together with the costs of this instance.
To the preceding complaint counsel for the defendants demurred, alleging that the cause of action is based on the obligation of the widow Severina Faz de Leon to reserve the property she inherited from her deceased son Apolonio Florentino y de Leon who, in turn, inherited same from his father Apolonio Isabelo Florentino; that, there being no allegation to the contrary, it is to be presumed that the widow Severina Faz de Leon did not remarry after the death of this husband nor have any natural child; that the right claimed by the plaintiffs is not that mentioned in article 968 and the following articles, but that established in article 811 of the Civil Code; that the object of the provisions of the aforementioned articles is to avoid the transfer of said reservable property to those extraneous to the family of the owner thereof; that if the property inherited by the widow Severina Faz de Leon from her deceased son Apolonio Florentino y Faz de Leon (property which originated from his father and her husband) has all passed into the hands of the defendant, Mercedes Florentino y Encarnacion, a daughter of the common ancestor’s second marriage (said Apolonio Isabelo Florentino with the deceased Severina Faz de Leon) it is evident that the property left at the death of the posthumos son Apolonio Florentino y Faz de Leon did not pass after the death of his mother Severina, his legitimate heirs as an ascendant, into the hands of strangers; that said property having been inherited by Mercedes Florentino y Encarnacion from her mother (Severina), article 811 of the Civil Code is absolutely inapplicable to the present case because, when the defendant Mercedes, by operation law, entered into and succeeded to, the possession, of the property lawfully inherited from her mother Severina Faz de Leon, said property had, while in the possession of her mother, lost the character of reservable property – there being a legitimate daughter of Severina Faz de Leon with the right to succeed her in all her rights, property and actions; that the restraints of the law whereby said property may not passed into the possession of strangers are void, inasmuch as the said widow had no obligation to reserve same, as Mercedes Florentino is a forced heiress of her mother Severina Faz de Leon; that, in the present case, there is no property reserved for the plaintiffs since there is a forced heiress, entitled to the property left by the death of the widow Severina Faz de Leon who never remarried; that the obligation to reserve is secondary to the duty of respecting the legitime; that in the instant case, the widow Severina Faz de Leon was in duty bound to respect the legitime of her daughter Mercedes the defendant; that her obligation to reserve the property could not be fulfilled to the prejudice of the legitime which belongs to her forced heiress, citing in support of these statements the decision of the supreme court of Spain of January 4, 1911; that, finally, the application of article 811 of the Civil Code in favor of the plaintiffs would presuppose the exclusion of the defendant from here right to succeed exclusively to all the property, rights and actions left by her legitimate mother, although the said defendant has a better right than the plaintiffs; and that there would be injustice if the property claimed be adjudicated to the plaintiffs, as well as violation of section 5 of the Jones Law which invalidates any law depriving any person of an equal protection. Wherefore they prayed that the demurrer be sustained, with costs against the plaintiffs.
After the hearing of the demurrer, on August 22, 1918, the judge absolved the defendants from the complaint and condemned the plaintiffs to pay the costs.
Counsel for the plaintiffs excepted to this order, moved to vacate it and to grant them a new trial; said motion was overruled; the plaintiffs expected thereto and filed the corresponding bill of exceptions which was allowed, certified and forwarded to the clerk of this court.
On appeal the trial judge sustained the demurrer of the defendants to the complaint of the plaintiffs, but, instead of ordering the latter to amend their complaint within the period prescribed by the rules – undoubtedly believing that the plaintiffs could not alter nor change the facts constituting the cause of action, and that, as both parties were agreed as to the facts alleged in the complaint as well as in the demurrer, every question reduced itself to one of the law, already submitted to the decision of the court – the said judge, disregarding the ordinary procedure established by law, decided the case by absolving the defendants from the complaint and by condemning the plaintiffs to pay the costs of the instance.
There certainly was no real trial, inasmuch as the defendants, instead of answering the complaint of the plaintiffs, confined themselves to filing a demurrer based on the ground that the facts alleged in the complaint do not constitute a cause of action. However, the judge preferred to absolve the defendants, thereby making an end to the cause, instead of dismissing the same, because undoubtedly he believed, in view of the controversy between the parties, that the arguments adduced to support the demurrer would be the same which the defendants would allege in their answer – those dealing with a mere question of law which the courts would have to decide – and that, the demurrer having been sustained, if the plaintiffs should insist – they could do no less – upon alleging the same facts as those set out in their complaint and if another demurrer were afterwards set up, he would be obliged to dismiss said complaint with costs against the plaintiffs – in spite of being undoubtedly convinced in the instant case that the plaintiffs absolutely lack the right to bring the action stated in their complaint.
Being of the opinion that the emendation of the indicated defects is not necessary – as in this case what has been done does not prejudice the parties – the appellate court will now proceed to decide the suit according to its merits, as found in the record and to the legal provisions applicable to the question of law in controversy so that unnecessary delay and greater expense may be avoided, inasmuch as, even if all the ordinary proceedings be followed, the suit would be subsequently decided in the manner and terms that it is now decided in the opinion thoughtfully and conscientiously formed for its determination.
In order to decide whether the plaintiffs are or are not entitled to invoke, in their favor, the provisions of article 811 of the Civil Code, and whether the same article is applicable to the question of law presented in this suit, it is necessary to determine whether the property enumerated in paragraph 5 of the complaint is of the nature of reservable property; and if so, whether in accordance with the provision of the Civil Code in article 811, Severina Faz de Leon (the widow of the deceased Apolonio Isabelo Florentino) who inherited said property from her son Apolonio Florentino III (born after the death of his father Apolonio Isabelo) had the obligation to preserve and reserve same for the relatives, within the third degree, of her aforementioned deceased son Apolonio III.
The above mentioned article reads:
Any ascendant who inherits from his descendant any property acquired by the latter gratuitously from some other ascendant, or from a brother or sister, is obliged to reserve such of the property as he may have acquired by operation of law for the benefit of relatives within the third degree belonging to the line from which such property came.
During the marriage of Apolonio Isabelo Florentino II and Severina Faz de Leon two children were born, namely the defendant Mercedes Florentino and Apolonio Florentino III (born after the death of his father). At the death of Apolonio Isabelo Florentino under a will, his eleven children succeeded to the inheritance he left, one of whom, the posthumos son Apolonio III, was given, as his share, the aforementioned property enumerated in the complaint. In 1891 the said posthumos son Apolonio Florentino III died and was succeeded by his legitimate mother Severina Faz de Leon, who inherited the property he left and who on dying, November 18, 1908, instituted by will as her sole heiress her surviving daughter, Mercedes Florentino, the defendant herein, who took possession of all property left by her father, same constituting the inheritance. Included in said inheritance is the property, specified in by the posthumos son Apolonio Florentino III from his father Apolonio Isabelo Florentino, and which, at the death of the said posthumos son, had in turn been inherited by his mother, Severina Faz de Leon. Even if Severina left in her will said property, together with her own, to her only daughter and forced heiress, Mercedes Florentino, nevertheless this property had not lost its reservable nature inasmuch as it originated from the common ancestor of the litigants, Apolonio Isabelo; was inherited by his son Apolonio III; was transmitted by same (by operation of law) to his legitimate mother and ascendant, Severina Faz de Leon.
The posthumos son, Apolonio Florentino III, acquired the property, now claimed by his brothers, by a lucrative title or by inheritance from his aforementioned legitimate father, Apolonio Isabelo Florentino II. Although said property was inherited by his mother, Severina Faz de Leon, nevertheless, she was in duty bound, according to article 811 of the Civil Code, to reserve the property thus acquired for the benefit of the relatives, within the third degree, of the line from which such property came.
According to the provisions of law, ascendants do not inherit the reservable property, but its enjoyment, use or trust, merely for the reason that said law imposes the obligation to reserve and preserve same for certain designated persons who, on the death of the said ascendants reservists, (taking into consideration the nature of the line from which such property came) acquire the ownership of said property in fact and by operation of law in the same manner as forced heirs (because they are also such) – said property reverts to said line as long as the aforementioned persons who, from the death of the ascendant-reservists, acquire in fact the right of reservatarios (person for whom property is reserved), and are relatives, within the third degree, of the descendant from whom the reservable property came.
Any ascendant who inherits from his descendant any property, while there are living, within the third degree, relatives of the latter, is nothing but a life usufructuary or a fiduciary of the reservable property received. He is, however, the legitimate owner of his own property which is not reservable property and which constitutes his legitime, according to article 809 of the Civil Code. But if, afterwards, all of the relatives, within the third degree, of the descendant (from whom came the reservable property) die or disappear, the said property becomes free property, by operation of law, and is thereby converted into the legitime of the ascendant heir who can transmit it at his death to his legitimate successors or testamentary heirs. This property has now lost its nature of reservable property, pertaining thereto at the death of the relatives, called reservatarios, who belonged within the third degree to the line from which such property came.lawphil.net
Following the order prescribed by law in legitimate succession, when there are relatives of the descendant within the third degree, the right of the nearest relative, called reservatario, over the property which the reservista (person holding it subject to reservation) should return to him, excludes that of the one more remote. The right of representation cannot be alleged when the one claiming same as a reservatario of the reservable property is not among the relatives within the third degree belonging to the line from which such property came, inasmuch as the right granted by the Civil Code in article 811 is in the highest degree personal and for the exclusive benefit of designated persons who are the relatives, within the third degree, of the person from whom the reservable property came. Therefore, relatives of the fourth and the succeeding degrees can never be considered as reservatarios, since the law does not recognize them as such.
In spite of what has been said relative to the right of representation on the part of one alleging his right as reservatario who is not within the third degree of relationship, nevertheless there is right of representation on the part of reservatarios who are within the third degree mentioned by law, as in the case of nephews of the deceased person from whom the reservable property came. These reservatarios have the right to represent their ascendants (fathers and mothers) who are the brothers of the said deceased person and relatives within the third degree in accordance with article 811 of the Civil Code.
In this case it is conceded without denial by defendants, that the plaintiffs Encarnacion, Gabriel and Magdalena are the legitimate children of the first marriage of the deceased Apolonio Isabelo Florentino II; that Ramon, Miguel, Ceferino, Antonio, and Rosario are both grandchildren of Apolonio Isabelo Florentino II, and children of his deceased son, Jose Florentino; that the same have the right to represent their aforementioned father, Jose Florentino; that Emilia, Jesus, Lourdes, Caridad, and Dolores are the legitimate children of the deceased Espirita Florentino, one of the daughters of the deceased Apolonio Isabelo Florentino II, and represent the right of their aforementioned mother; and that the other plaintiffs, Jose and Asuncion, have also the right to represent their legitimate father Pedro Florentino one of the sons of the aforementioned Apolonio Isabelo Florentino II. It is a fact, admitted by both parties, that the other children of the first marriage of the deceased Apolonio Isabelo Florentino II died without issue so that this decision does not deal with them.
There are then seven “reservatarios” who are entitled to the reservable property left at the death of Apolonio III; the posthumos son of the aforementioned Apolonio Isabelo II, to wit, his three children of his first marriage – Encarnacion, Gabriel, Magdalena; his three children, Jose, Espirita and Pedro who are represented by their own twelve children respectively; and Mercedes Florentino, his daughter by a second marriage. All of the plaintiffs are the relatives of the deceased posthumos son, Apolonio Florentino III, within the third degree (four of whom being his half-brothers and the remaining twelve being his nephews as they are the children of his three half-brothers). As the first four are his relatives within the third degree in their own right and the other twelve are such by representation, all of them are indisputably entitled as reservatarios to the property which came from the common ancestor, Apolonio Isabelo, to Apolonio Florentino III by inheritance during his life-time, and in turn by inheritance to his legitimate mother, Severina Faz de Leon, widow of the aforementioned Apolonio Isabelo Florentino II.
In spite of the provisions of article 811 of the Civil Code already cited, the trial judge refused to accept the theory of the plaintiffs and, accepting that of the defendants, absolved the latter from the complaint on the ground that said article is absolutely inapplicable to the instant case, inasmuch as the defendant Mercedes Florentino survived her brother, Apolonio III, from whom the reservable property came and her mother, Severina Faz de Leon, the widow of her father, Apolonio Isabelo Florentino II; that the defendant Mercedes, being the only daughter of Severina Faz de Leon, is likewise her forced heiress; that when she inherited the property left at the death of her mother, together with that which came from her deceased brother Apolonio III, the fundamental object of article 811 of the Code was thereby complied with, inasmuch as the danger that the property coming from the same line might fall into the hands of strangers had been avoided; and that the hope or expectation on the part of the plaintiffs of the right to acquire the property of the deceased Apolonio III never did come into existence because there is a forced heiress who is entitled to such property.
The judgment appealed from is also founded on the theory that article 811 of the Civil Code does not destroy the system of legitimate succession and that the pretension of the plaintiffs to apply said article in the instant case would be permitting the reservable right to reduce and impair the forced legitimate which exclusively belongs to the defendant Mercedes Florentino, in violation of the precept of article 813 of the same Code which provides that the testator cannot deprive his heirs of their legitime, except in the cases expressly determined by law. Neither can he impose upon it any burden, condition, or substitution of any kind whatsoever, saving the provisions concerning the usufruct of the surviving spouse, citing the decision of the Supreme Court of Spain of January 4, 1911.
The principal question submitted to the court for decision consists mainly in determining whether they property left at the death of Apolonio III, the posthumos son of Apolonio Isabelo II, was or was not invested with the character of reservable property when it was received by his mother, Severina Faz de Leon.
The property enumerated by the plaintiffs in paragraph 5 of their complaint came, without any doubt whatsoever, from the common ancestor Apolonio Isabelo II, and when, on the death of Apolonio III without issue the same passed by operation of law into the hands of his legitimate mother, Severina Faz de Leon, it became reservable property, in accordance with the provision of article 811 of the Code, with the object that the same should not fall into the possession of persons other than those comprehended within the order of person other than those comprehended within the order of succession traced by the law from Apolonio Isabelo II, the source of said property. If this property was in fact clothed with the character and condition of reservable property when Severina Faz de Leon inherited same from her son Apolonio III, she did not thereby acquire the dominion or right of ownership but only the right of usufruct or of fiduciary with the necessary obligation to preserve and to deliver or return it as such reservable property to her deceased son’s relatives within the third degree, among whom is her daughter, Mercedes Florentino.
Reservable property neither comes, nor falls under, the absolute dominion of the ascendant who inherits and receives same from his descendant, therefore it does not form part of his own property nor become the legitimate of his forced heirs. It becomes his own property only in case that all the relatives of his descendant shall have died (reservista) in which case said reservable property losses such character.
With full right Severina Faz de Leon could have disposed in her will of all her own property in favor of her only living daughter, Mercedes Florentino, as forced heiress. But whatever provision there is in her will concerning the reservable property received from her son Apolonio III, or rather, whatever provision will reduce the rights of the other reservatarios, the half brothers and nephews of her daughter Mercedes, is unlawful, null and void, inasmuch as said property is not her own and she has only the right of usufruct or of fiduciary, with the obligation to preserve and to deliver same to the reservatarios, one of whom is her own daughter, Mercedes Florentino.
It cannot reasonably be affirmed, founded upon an express provision of law, that by operation of law all of the reservable property, received during lifetime by Severina Faz de Leon from her son, Apolonio III, constitutes or forms parts of the legitime pertaining to Mercedes Florentino. If said property did not come to be the legitimate and exclusive property of Severina Faz de Leon, her only legitimate and forced heiress, the defendant Mercedes, could not inherit all by operation of law and in accordance with the order of legitimate succession, because the other relatives of the deceased Apolonio III, within the third degree, as well as herself are entitled to such reservable property.
For this reason, in no manner can it be claimed that the legitime of Mercedes Florentino, coming from the inheritance of her mother Severina Faz de Leon, has been reduced and impaired; and the application of article 811 of the Code to the instant case in no way prejudices the rights of the defendant Mercedes Florentino, inasmuch as she is entitled to a part only of the reservable property, there being no lawful or just reason which serves as real foundation to disregard the right to Apolonio III’s other relatives, within the third degree, to participate in the reservable property in question. As these relatives are at present living, claiming for it with an indisputable right, we cannot find any reasonable and lawful motive why their rights should not be upheld and why they should not be granted equal participation with the defendant in the litigated property.
The claim that because of Severina Faz de Leon’s forced heiress, her daughter Mercedes, the property received from the deceased son Apolonio III lost the character, previously held, of reservable property; and that the mother, the said Severina, therefore, had no further obligation to reserve same for the relatives within the third degree of the deceased Apolonio III, is evidently erroneous for the reason that, as has been already stated, the reservable property, left in a will by the aforementioned Severina to her only daughter Mercedes, does not form part of the inheritance left by her death nor of the legitimate of the heiress Mercedes. Just because she has a forced heiress, with a right to her inheritance, does not relieve Severina of her obligation to reserve the property which she received from her deceased son, nor did same lose the character of reservable property, held before the reservatarios received same.
It is true that when Mercedes Florentino, the heiress of the reservista Severina, took possession of the property in question, same did not pass into the hands of strangers. But it is likewise true that the said Mercedes is not the only reservataria. And there is no reason founded upon law and upon the principle of justice why the other reservatarios, the other brothers and nephews, relatives within the third degree in accordance with the precept of article 811 of the Civil Code, should be deprived of portions of the property which, as reservable property, pertain to them.
From the foregoing it has been shown that the doctrine announced by the Supreme Court of Spain on January 4, 1911, for the violation of articles 811, 968 and consequently of the Civil Code is not applicable in the instant case.
Following the provisions of article 813, the Supreme Court of Spain held that the legitime of the forced heirs cannot be reduced or impaired and said article is expressly respected in this decision.
However, in spite of the efforts of the appellee to defend their supposed rights, it has not been shown, upon any legal foundation, that the reservable property belonged to, and was under the absolute dominion of, the reservista, there being relatives within the third degree of the person from whom same came; that said property, upon passing into the hands of the forced heiress of the deceased reservista, formed part of the legitime of the former; and that the said forced heiress, in addition to being a reservataria, had an exclusive right to receive all of said property and to deprive the other reservatarios, her relatives within the third degree of certain portions thereof.
Concerning the prayer in the complaint relative to the indemnity for damages and the delivery of the fruits collected, it is not proper to grant the first for there is no evidence of any damage which can give rise to the obligation of refunding same. As to the second, the delivery of the fruits produced by the land forming the principal part of the reservable property, the defendants are undoubtedly in duty bound to deliver to the plaintiffs six-sevenths of the fruits or rents of the portions of land claimed in the complaint, in the quantity expressed in paragraph 11 of the same, from January 17, 1918, the date the complaint was filed; and the remaining seventh part should go to the defendant Mercedes.
For the foregoing reasons it follows that with the reversal of the order of decision appealed from we should declare, as we hereby do, that the aforementioned property, inherited by the deceased Severina Faz de Leon from her son Apolonio Florentino III, is reservable property; that the plaintiffs, being relatives of the deceased Apolonio III within the third degree, are entitled to six-sevenths of said reservable property; that the defendant Mercedes is entitled to the remaining seventh part thereof; that the latter, together with her husband Angel Encarnacion, shall deliver to the plaintiffs, jointly, six-sevenths of the fruits or rents, claimed from said portion of the land and of the quantity claimed, from January 17, 1918, until fully delivered; and that the indemnity for one thousand pesos (P1,000) prayed for in the complaint is denied, without special findings as to the costs of both instances. So ordered.
G.R. No. 6878 September 13, 1913
MARCELINA EDROSO, petitioner-appellant,
PABLO and BASILIO SABLAN, opponents-appellees.
The subject matter of this appeal is the registration of certain property classified as required by law to be reserved. Marcelina Edroso applied for registration and issuance of title to two parcels of land situated in the municipality of Pagsanjan, Province of Laguna, one of 1 hectare 77 ares and 63 centares, and the other 1 hectare 6 ares and 26 centares. Two applications were filed, one for each parcel, but both were heard and decided in a single judgment.
Marcelina Edroso was married to Victoriano Sablan until his death on September 22, 1882. In this marriage they had a son named Pedro, who was born on August 1, 1881, and who at his father’s death inherited the two said parcels. Pedro also died on July 15, 1902, unmarried and without issue and by this decease the two parcels of land passed through inheritance to his mother, Marcelina Edroso. Hence the hereditary title whereupon is based the application for registration of her ownership.
Two legitimate brothers of Victoriano Sablan – that is, two uncles german of Pedro Sablan – appeared in the case to oppose the registration, claiming one of two things: Either that the registration be denied, “or that if granted to her the right reserved by law to the opponents be recorded in the registration of each parcel.” (B. of E., 11, 12.)
The Court of Land Registration denied the registration and the application appealed through a bill of exceptions.
Registration was denied because the trial court held that the parcels of land in question partake of the nature of property required by law to be reserved and that in such a case application could only be presented jointly in the names of the mother and the said two uncles of Pedro Sablan.
The appellant impugns as erroneous the first idea advanced (second assignment of error), and denies that the land which are the subject matter of the application are required by law to be reserved – a contention we regard as indefensible.
Facts: (1) The applicant acquired said lands from her descendant Pedro Sablan by inheritance; (2) Pedro Sablan had acquired them from his ascendant Victoriano Sablan, likewise by inheritance; (3) Victoriano Sablan had likewise acquired them by inheritance from his ascendants, Mariano Sablan and Maria Rita Fernandez, they having been adjudicated to him in the partition of hereditary property had between him and his brothers. These are admitted facts.
A very definite conclusions of law is that the hereditary title is one without a valuable consideration [gratuitous title], and it is so characterized in article 968 of the Civil Code, for he who acquires by inheritance gives nothing in return for what he receives; and a very definite conclusion of law also is that the uncles german are within the third degree of blood relationship.
The ascendant who inherits from his descendant property which the latter acquired without a valuable consideration from another ascendant, or from a brother or sister, is under obligation to reserve what he has acquired by operation of law for the relatives who are within the third degree and belong to the line whence the property proceeded. (Civil Code, art. 811.)
Marcelina Edroso, ascendant of Pedro Sablan, inherited from him these two parcels of land which he had acquired without a valuable consideration – that is, by inheritance from another ascendant, his father Victoriano. Having acquired them by operation of law, she is obligated to relatives within the third degree and belong to the line of Mariano Sablan and Maria Rita Fernandez, whence the lands proceeded. The trial court’s ruling that they partake of the nature property required by law to be reserved is therefore in accordance with the law.
But the appellant contends that it is not proven that the two parcels of land in question have been acquired by operation of law, and that only property acquired without a valuable consideration, which is by operation of law, is required by law to reserved.
The appellees justly argue that this defense was not alleged or discussed in first instance, but only herein. Certainly, the allegation in first instance was merely that “Pedro Sablan acquired the property in question in 1882, before the enforcement of the Civil Code, which establishes the alleged right required by law to be reserved, of which the opponents speak; hence, prescription of the right of action; and finally, opponents’ renunciation of their right, admitting that it existed and that they had it” (p. 49).
However that be, it is not superflous to say, although it may be unnecessary, that the applicant inherited the two parcels of land from her son Pedro, who died “unmarried and without issue.” The trial court so held as a conclusion of fact, without any objection on the appellant’s part. (B. of E., 17, 20.) When Pedro Sablan died without issue, his mother became his heir by virtue of her right to her son’s legal portion under article 935 of the Civil Code:
In the absence of legitimate children and descendants of the deceased, his ascendants shall from him, to the exclusion of collaterals.
The contrary could only have occurred if the heiress had demonstrated that any of these lands had passed into her possession by free disposal in her son’s will; but the case presents no testamentary provision that demonstrate any transfer of property from the son to the mother, not by operation of law, but by her son’s wish. The legal presumption is that the transfer of the two parcels of land was abintestate or by operation of law, and not by will or the wish of the predecessor in interest. (Act No. 190, sec. 334, No. 26.) All the provision of article 811 of the Civil Code have therefore been fully complied with.
If Pedro Sablan had instituted his mother in a will as the universal heiress of his property, all he left at death would not be required by law to be reserved, but only what he would have perforce left her as the legal portion of a legitimate ascendant.
The legal portion of the parents or ascendants is constituted by one-half of the hereditary estate of the children and descendants. The latter may unrestrictedly dispose of the other half, with the exception of what is established in article 836. (Civil Code, art. 809.)
In such case only the half constituting the legal portion would be required by law to be reserved, because it is what by operation of law could full to the mother from her son’s inheritance; the other half at free disposal would not have to be reserved. This is all that article 811 of the Civil Code says.
No error has been incurred in holding that the two parcels of land which are the subject matter of the application are required by law to be reserved, because the interested party has not proved that either of them became her inheritance through the free disposal of her son.
Proof testate succession devolves upon the heir or heiress who alleges it. It must be admitted that a half of Pedro Sablan’s inheritance was acquired by his mother by operation of law. The law provides that the other half is also presumed to be acquired by operation of law – that is, by intestate succession. Otherwise, proof to offset this presumption must be presented by the interested party, that is, that the other half was acquired by the man’s wish and not by operation of law.
Nor is the third assignments of error admissible – that the trial court failed to sustain the renunciation of the right required by law to be reserved, which the applicant attributes to the opponents. Such renunciation does not appear in the case. The appellant deduces it from the fact that the appellees did not contradict the following statement of hers at the trial:
The day after my brother-in-law Pablo Sablan dies and was buried, his brother came to my house and said that those rice lands were mine, because we had already talked about making delivery of them. (p. 91).
The other brother alluded to is Basilio Sablan, as stated on page 92. From the fact that Basilio Sablan said that the lands belong to the appellant and must be delivered to her it cannot be deduced that he renounced the right required by law to be reserved in such lands by virtue of the provisions of article 811 of the Civil Code, for they really belong to her and must be delivered to her.
The fourth assignments of error set up the defense of prescription of the right of action. The appellant alleges prescription of the opponent’s right of action for requiring fulfillment of the obligation they attribute to her recording in the property registry the right required by law to be reserved, in accordance with the provisions of the Mortgage Law; and as such obligation is created by law, it prescribed in the time fixed in No. 2 of section 43 of Act No. 190. She adds: “Prescription of the right alleged to the reserved by force of law has not been invoked.” (Eight allegation.)
The appellant does not state in her brief what those provisions of the Mortgage Law are. Nor did she do so in first instance, where she says only the following, which is quoted from the record: “I do not refer to the prescription of the right required by law to be reserved in the property; I refer to the prescription of the right of action of those who are entitled to the guaranty of that right for seeking that guaranty, for those who are entitled to that right the Mortgage Law grants a period of time for recording it in the property registry, if I remember correctly, ninety days, for seeking entry in the registry; but as they have not exercised that right of action, such right of action for seeking here that it be recorded has prescribed. The right of action for requiring that the property be reserved has not prescribed, but the right of action for guaranteeing in the property registry that this property is required by law to be reserved” (p. 69 of the record).
The appellees reply: It is true that their right of action has prescribed for requiring the applicant to constitute the mortgage imposed by the Mortgage Law for guaranteeing the effectiveness of the required by law to be reserved; but because that right of action has prescribed, that property has not been divested of its character of property required by law to be reserved; that it has such character by virtue of article 8112 of the Civil Code, which went into effect in the Philippine in December, 1889, and not by virtue of the Mortgage Law, which only went into effect in the country by law of July 14, 1893; that from December, 1889, to July, 1893, property which under article 811 of the Civil Code acquired the character of property reserved by operation of law was such independently of the Mortgage Law, which did not yet form part of the positive legislation of the country; that although the Mortgage Law has been in effect in the country since July, 1893, still it has in no way altered the force of article 811 of the Civil Code, but has operated to reinforce the same merely by granting the right of action to the persons in whose favor the right is reserved by operation of law to require of the person holding the property a guaranty in the form of a mortgage to answer for the enforcement, in due time, of the right; that to lose the right of action to the guaranty is not to lose the right itself; that the right reserved is the principal obligation and the mortgage the accessory obligation, and loss of the accessory does not mean loss of the principal. (Fifth and sixth allegations.)
The existence of the right required by law to be reserved in the two parcels of land in question being indisputable, even though it be admitted that the right of action which the Mortgage Law grants as a guaranty of final enforcement of such right has prescribed, the only thing to be determined by this appeal is the question raised in the first assignment of error, that is, how said two parcels of land can and ought to be registered, not in the property registry newly established by the Mortgage Law, but in the registry newly organized by Act No. 496. But as the have slipped into the allegations quoted some rather inexact ideas that further obscure such an intricate subject as this of the rights required to be reserved in Spanish-Philippine law, a brief disgression on the most essential points may not be out of place here.
The Mortgage Law of July 14, 1893, to which the appellees allude, is the amended one of the colonies, not the first enforced in the colonies and consequently in the Philippines. The preamble of said amended Mortgage Law states:
The Mortgage Law in force in Spain for thirty years went into effect, with the modifications necessary for its adaptation, in the Antilles on May 1, 1880, and in the Philippines on December 1, 1889, thus commencing in those regions the renovation of the law on real property, and consequently of agrarian credit.
The Civil Code went into effect in the Philippines in the same year, 1889, but on the eight day.
Two kinds of property required by law to be reserved are distinguished in the Civil Code, as set forth in article 968 thereof, where it says:
Besides the reservation imposed by article 811, the widow or widower contracting a seconds marriage shall be obliged to set apart for the children and descendants of the first marriage the ownership of all the property he or she may have required from the deceased spouse by will, by intestate succession, by gift, or other transfer without a valuable consideration.”
The Mortgage Law of Spain and the first law that went into effect in the Philippines on December 1, 189, do not contain any provision that can be applied to the right reserved by article 811 of the Civil Code, for such right is a creation of the Civil Code. In those laws appear merely the provisions intended to guarantee the effectiveness of the right in favor of the children of the first marriage when their father or mother contracts a second marriage. Nevertheless, the holding of the supreme court of Spain, for the first time set forth in the decision on appeal of November 8, 1894, has been reiterated:
That while the provisions of articles 977 and 978 of the Civil Code that tend to secure the right required to be reserved in the property refer especially to the spouses who contract second or later marriages, they do not thereby cease to be applicable to the right establishes in article 811, because, aside from the legal reason, which is the same in both cases, such must be the construction from the important and conclusive circumstance that said provisions are set forth in the chapter that deals with inheritances in common, either testate or intestate, and because article 968, which heads the section that deals in general with property required by law to be reserved, makes reference to the provisions in article 811; and it would consequently be contradictory to the principle of the law and of the common nature of said provisions not to hold them applicable to that right.
Thus it was again stated in a decision on appeal, December 30, 1897, that: “As the supreme court has already declared, the guaranties that the Code fixes in article 977 and 978 for the rights required by law to the reserved to which said articles refer, are applicable to the special right dealt with in article 811, because the same principle exists and because of the general nature of the provisions of the chapter in which they are found.”
From this principle of jurisprudence it is inferred that if from December, 1889, to July, 1893, a case had occurred of a right required to be reserved by article 811, the persons entitled to such right would have been able to institute, against the ascendant who must make the reservation, proceedings for the assurance and guaranty that article 977 and 978 grant to the children of a first marriage against their father or mother who has married again. The proceedings for assurance, under article 977; are: Inventory of the property subject to the right reserved, annotation in the property registry of such right reserved in the real property and appraisal of the personal property; and the guaranty, under article 978, is the assurance by mortgage, in the case of realty, of the value of what is validly alienated.
But since the amended Mortgage Law went into effect by law of July 14, 1893, in the Philippines this is not only a principle of jurisprudence which may be invoked for the applicability to the right reserved in article 811 of the remedies of assurance and guaranty provided for the right reserved in article 968, but there is a positive provision of said law, which is an advantage over the law of Spain, to wit, article 199, which read thus:
The special mortgage for guaranteeing the right reserved by article 811 of the Civil Code can only be required by the relatives in whose favor the property is to be reserved, if they are of age; if minors, it will be require by the person who should legally represent them. In either case the right of the persons in whose favor the property must be reserved will be secured by the same requisites as set forth in the preceding article (relative to the right reserved by article 968 of the Civil Code), applying to the person obligated to reserve the right the provisions with respect to the father.
In article 168 of the same law the new subsection 2 is added in connection with article 199 quoted, so that said article 168 reads as thus:
Legal mortgage is established:
1. . . .
2. In favor of the relatives to whom article 811 of the Civil Code refers, for the property required to be reserved, upon the property of the person obliged to reserve it.
This being admitted, and admitted also that both the litigating parties agree that the period of ninety days fixed for the right of action to the guaranty, that is, to require the mortgage that guarantees the effectiveness of the right required by law to be reserved, has prescribed, it is necessary to lay down a principle in this matter. Now it should by noted that such action has not prescribed, because the period of ninety days fixed by the Mortgage Law is not for the exercise of the right of action of the persons entitled to the right reserved, but for the fulfillment of the obligation of the person who must make the reservation.
Article 191 of the reads thus: “If ninety days pass without the father’s instituting in court the proceeding to which the foregoing article refers, the relatives themselves may demand fulfillment, etc., . . . applying, according to said article 199, to the person obligated to reserve the right the provisions with respect to the father.”
Article 203 of the regulation for the application of the Mortgage Law says: “In the case of article 199 of the law the proceedings to which article 190 thereof refers will be instituted within the ninety days succeeding the date of the date of the acceptation of the inheritance by the person obligated to reserve the property; after this period has elapsed, the interested parties may require the institution of such proceedings, if they are of age; and in any other case, their legal representatives.”
Thus it clearly appears that the lapse of the ninety days is not the expiration by prescription of the period for the right must be reserved, but really the commencement thereof, enables them to exercise it at any time, since no limits is set in the law. So, if the annotation of the right required by law to be reserved in the two parcels of land in question must be made in the property registry of the Mortgage Law, the persons entitled to it may now institute proceedings to that end, and an allegation of prescription against the exercise of such right of action cannot be sustained.
Since the applicant confesses that she does not allege prescription of the right of action for requiring that the property be reserved, for she explicitly so stated at the trial, and as the case presents no necessity for the proceedings that should be instituted in accordance with the provisions of the Mortgage Law, this prescription of the right of action cannot take place, because such right of action does not exist with reference to instituting proceedings for annotation in the registry of Act No. 496 of the right to the property required by law to be reserved. It is sufficient, as was done in the present case, to intervene in the registration proceedings with the claim set up by the two opponents for recording therein the right reserved in either parcel of land.
Now comes the main point in the appeal. The trial court denied the registration because of this finding set forth in its decision:
Absolute title to the two parcels of land undoubtedly belongs to the applicant and the two uncles of the deceased Pedro Sablan, and the application cannot be made except in the name of all of them in common. (B. of E., p. 20.)
It must be remembered that absolute title consists of the rights to use, enjoy, dispose of, and recover. The person who has in himself all these rights has the absolute or complete ownership of the thing; otherwise, the person who has the right to use and enjoy will have the usufruct, and the person who has the rights of disposal and recovery the direct title. The person who by law, act, or contract is granted the right of usufruct has the first two rights or using an enjoying, and then he is said not to have the fee simple – that is, the rights of disposal and recovery, which pertain to another who, after the usufruct expires, will come into full ownership.
The question set up in the first assignment of error of the appellant’s brief is this:
What are the rights in the property of the person who holds it subject to the reservation of article 811 of the Civil Code?
There are not lacking writers who say, only those of a usufructuary, the ultimate title belonging to the person in whose favor the reservation is made. If that were so, the person holding the property could not apply for registration of title, but the person in whose favor it must be reserved, with the former’s consent. This opinion does not seem to be admissible, although it appears to be supported by decisions of the supreme court of Spain of May 21, 1861, and June 18, 1880, prior to the Civil Code, and of June 22, 1895, somewhat subsequent to the enforcement thereof.
Another writer says: “This opinion only looks at two salient points – the usufruct and the fee simple; the remaining features of the arrangement are not perceived, but become obscure in the presence of that deceptive emphasis which only brings out two things: that the person holding the property will enjoy it and that he must keep what he enjoys for other persons.” (Manresa, VII, 189.)
In another place he says: “We do not believe that the third opinion can now be maintained – that is, that the surviving spouse (the person obliged by article 968 to make the reservation) can be regarded as a mere usufructuary and the descendants immediately as the owner; such theory has no serious foundation in the Code.” (Ibid., 238.)
The ascendants who inherits from a descendants, whether by the latter’s wish or by operation of law, requires the inheritance by virtue of a title perfectly transferring absolute ownership. All the attributes of the right of ownership belong to him exclusively – use, enjoyment, disposal and recovery. This absolute ownership, which is inherent in the hereditary title, is not altered in the least, if there be no relatives within the third degree in the line whence the property proceeds or they die before the ascendant heir who is the possessor and absolute owner of the property. If there should be relatives within the third degree who belong to the line whence the property proceeded, then a limitation to that absolute ownership would arise. The nature and scope of this limitation must be determined with exactness in order not to vitiate rights that the law wishes to be effective. The opinion which makes this limitation consist in reducing the ascendant heir to the condition in of a mere usufructuary, depriving him of the right of disposal and recovery, does not seem to have any support in the law, as it does not have, according to the opinion that he has been expressed in speaking of the rights of the father or mother who has married again. There is a marked difference between the case where a man’s wish institutes two persons as his heirs, one as usufructuary and the other as owner of his property, and the case of the ascendant in article 811 or of the father or mother in article 968. In the first case, there is not the slightest doubt that the title to the hereditary property resides in the hereditary owner and he can dispose of and recover it, while the usufructuary can in no way perform any act of disposal of the hereditary property (except that he may dispose of the right of usufruct in accordance with the provisions of article 480 of the Civil Code), or any act of recovery thereof except the limited one in the form prescribed in article 486 of the Code itself, because he totally lacks the fee simple. But the ascendants who holds the property required by article 811 to be reserved, and the father of mother required by article 986 to reserve the right, can dispose of the property they might itself, the former from his descendant and the latter from his of her child in first marriage, and recover it from anyone who may unjustly detain it, while the persons in whose favor the right is required to be reserved in either case cannot perform any act whatsoever of disposal or of recovery.
Article 975 states explicitly that the father or mother required by article 9687 to reserve the right may dispose of the property itself:
Alienation of the property required by law to be reserved which may be made by the surviving spouse after contracting a second marriage shall be valid only if at his or her death no legitimate children or descendants of the first marriage survive, without prejudice to the provisions of the Mortgage of Law.
It thus appears that the alienation is valid, although not altogether effective, but under a condition subsequent, to wit: “If at his or her death no legitimate children or descendants of the first marriage survive.”
If the title did not reside in the person holding the property to be reserved, his alienation thereof would necessarily be null and void, as executed without a right to do so and without a right which he could transmit to the acquirer. The law says that the alienation subsists (to subject is to continue to exist) “without prejudice to the provisions of the Mortgage Law.” Article 109 of this Law says:
The possessor of property subject to conditions subsequent that are still pending may mortgage or alienate it, provided always that he preserve the right of the parties interested in said conditions by expressly reserving that right in the registration.
In such case, the child or legitimate descendants of the first marriage in whose favor the right is reserved cannot impugn the validity of the alienation so long as the condition subsequent is pending, that is, so long as the remarried spouse who must reserve the right is alive, because it might easily happen that the person who must reserve the right should outlive all the person in whose favor the right is reserved and then there would be no reason for the condition subsequent that they survive him, and, the object of the law having disappeared, the right required to be reserved would disappear, and the alienation would not only be valid but also in very way absolutely effective. Consequently, the alienation is valid when the right required by law to be reserved to the children is respected; while the effects of the alienation depend upon a condition, because it will or will not become definite, it will continue to exist or cease to exist, according to circumstances. This is what the law establishes with reference to the reservation of article 968, wherein the legislator expressly directs that the surviving spouse who contracts a second marriage shall reserve to the children or descendants of the first marriage ownership. Article 811 says nothing more than that the ascendants must make the reservation.
Manresa, with his recognized ability, summarizes the subject under the heading, “Rights and obligations during the existence of the right required by law to be reserved,” in these words:
During the whole period between the constitution in legal form of the right required by law to be reserved and the extinction thereof, the relatives within the third degree, after the right that in their turn may pertain to them has been assured, have only an expectation, and therefore they do not even have the capacity to transmit that expectation to their heirs.
The ascendant is in the first place a usufructuary who should use and enjoy the things according to their nature, in the manner and form already set forth in commenting upon the article of the Code referring to use and usufruct.
But since in addition to being the usufructuary he is, even though conditionally, the owner in fee simple of the property, he can dispose of it in the manner provided in article 974 and 976 of the same Code. Doubt arose also on this point, but the Direccion General of the registries, in an opinion of June 25, 1892, declared that articles 974 and 975, which are applicable by analogy, for they refer to property reserved by law, reveal in the clearest manner the attitude of the legislator on this subject, and the relatives with the third degree ought not to be more privileged in the right reserved in article 811 than the children in the right reserved by article 975, chiefly for the reason that the right required to be reserved carries with it a condition subsequent, and the property subject to those conditions can validly be alienated in accordance with article 109 of the Mortgage Law, such alienation to continue, pending fulfillment of the condition.” (Civil Code, VI, 270.)
Another commentator corroborates the foregoing in every way. He says:
The ascendants acquires that property with a condition subsequent, to wit, whether or not there exists at the time of his death relatives within the third degree of the descendants from whom they inherit in the line whence the property proceeds. If such relatives exist, they acquire ownership of the property at the death of the ascendants. If they do not exist, the ascendants can freely dispose thereof. If this is true, since the possessor of property subject to conditions subsequent can alienate and encumber it, the ascendants may alienate the property required by law to be reserved, but he will alienate what he has and nothing more because no one can give what does not belong to him, and the acquirer will therefore receive a limited and revocable title. The relatives within the third degree will in their turn have an expectation to the property while the ascendant lives, an expectation that cannot be transmitted to their heirs, unless these are also within the third degree. After the person who is required by law to reserve the right has died, the relatives may rescind the alienation of the realty required by law to be reserved and they will complete ownership, in fee simple, because the condition and the usufruct have been terminated by the death of the usufructuary. (Morell, Estudios sobre bienes reservable, 304, 305.)
The conclusion is that the person required by article 811 to reserve the right has, beyond any doubt at all, the rights of use and usufruct. He has, moreover, for the reasons set forth, the legal title and dominion, although under a condition subsequent. Clearly he has, under an express provision of the law, the right to dispose of the property reserved, and to dispose of is to alienate, although under a condition. He has the right to recover it, because he is the one who possesses or should possess it and have title to it, although a limited and revocable one. In a word, the legal title and dominion, even though under a condition, reside in him while he lives. After the right required by law to be reserved has been assured, he can do anything that a genuine owner can do.
On the other hand, the relatives within the third degree in whose favor of the right is reserved cannot dispose of the property, first because it is no way, either actually, constructively or formally, in their possession; and, moreover, because they have no title of ownership or of the fee simple which they can transmit to another, on the hypothesis that only when the person who must reserve the right should die before them will they acquire it, thus creating a fee simple, and only then will they take their place in the succession of the descendants of whom they are relatives within the third degree, that it to say, a second contingent place in said legitimate succession in the fashion of aspirants to a possible future legacy. If any of the persons in whose favor the right is reserved should, after their rights has been assured in the registry, dare to dispose of even nothing more than the fee simple of the property to be reserved his act would be null and void, for, as was definitely decided in the decision on appeal of December 30, 1897, it is impossible to determine the part “that might pertain therein to the relative at the time he exercised the right, because in view of the nature and scope of the right required by law to be reserved the extent of his right cannot be foreseen, for it may disappear by his dying before the person required to reserve it, just as may even become absolute should that person die.”
Careful consideration of the matter forces the conclusion that no act of disposal inter vivos of the person required by law to reserve the right can be impugned by him in whose favor it is reserved, because such person has all, absolutely all, the rights inherent in ownership, except that the legal title is burdened with a condition that the third party acquirer may ascertain from the registry in order to know that he is acquiring a title subject to a condition subsequent. In conclusion, it seems to us that only an act of disposal mortis causa in favor of persons other than relatives within the third degree of the descendants from whom he got the property to be reserved must be prohibited to him, because this alone has been the object of the law: “To prevent persons outside a family from securing, by some special accident of life, property that would otherwise have remained therein.” (Decision of December 30, 1897.)
Practically, even in the opinion of those who reduce the person reserving the right to the condition of a mere usufructuary, the person in whose favor it must be reserved cannot attack the alienation that may be absolutely made of the property the law requires to be reserved, in the present case, that which the appellant has made of the two parcels of land in question to a third party, because the conditional alienation that is permitted her is equivalent to an alienation of the usufruct, which is authorized by article 480 of the Civil Code, and, practically, use and enjoyment of the property required by law to be reserved are all that the person who must reserve it has during his lifetime, and in alienating the usufruct all the usefulness of the thing would be transmitted in an incontrovertible manner. The question as to whether or not she transmits the fee simple is purely academic, sine re, for it is not real, actual positive, as is the case of the institution of two heirs, one a usufructuary and the other the owner, by the express wish of the predecessor in interest.
If the person whom article 811 requires to reserve the right has all the rights inherent in ownership, he can use, enjoy, dispose of and recover it; and if, in addition to usufructuary, he is in fact and in law the real owner and can alienate it, although under a condition, the whole question is reduced to the following terms:
Cannot the heir of the property required by law to reserved, merely because a condition subsequent is annexed to his right of disposal, himself alone register the ownership of the property he has inherited, when the persons in whose favor the reservation must be made degree thereto, provided that the right reserved to them in the two parcels of land be recorded, as the law provides?
It is well known that the vendee under pacto de retracto acquires all the rights of the vendor:
The vendee substitutes the vendor in all his rights and actions. (Civil Code, art. 1511.)
If the vendor can register his title, the vendee can also register this same title after he has once acquired it. This title, however, in its attribute of being disposable, has a condition subsequent annexed – that the alienation the purchaser may make will be terminated, if the vendor should exercise the right granted him by article 1507, which says:
Conventional redemption shall take place when the vendor reserves to himself the right to recover the thing sold, with the obligation to comply with article 1518, and whatever more may have been agreed upon,” that is, if he recovers the thing sold by repaying the vendee the price of the sale and other expenses. Notwithstanding this condition subsequent, it is a point not at all doubtful now that the vendee may register his title in the same way as the owner of a thing mortgaged – that is to say, the latter with the consent of his creditor and the former with the consent of the vendor. He may alienate the thing bought when the acquirer knows by well from the title entered in the registry that he acquires a title revocable after a fixed period, a thing much more certain and to be expected than the purely contingent expectation of the person in whose favor is reserved a right to inherit some day what another has inherited. The purpose of the law would be defeated in not applying to the person who must make the reservation the provision therein relative to the vendee under pacto de retracto, since the argument in his favor is the more power and conclusive; ubi eadem ratio, eadem legis dispositivo.
Therefore, we reverse the judgment appealed from, and in lieu thereof decide and declare that the applicant is entitled to register in her own name the two parcels of land which are the subject matter of the applicants, recording in the registration the right required by article 811 to be reserved to either or both of the opponents, Pablo Sablan and Basilio Sablan, should they survive her; without special findings as to costs.
G.R. No. L-12957 March 24, 1961
CONSTANCIO SIENES, ET AL., plaintiffs-appellants,
FIDEL ESPARCIA, ET AL.,defendants-appellees.
Appellants commenced this action below to secure judgment (1) declaring null and void the sale executed by Paulina and Cipriana Yaeso in favor of appellees, the spouses Fidel Esparcia and Paulina Sienes; (2) ordering the Esparcia spouses to reconvey to appellants Lot 3368 of the Cadastral Survey of Ayuquitan (now Amlan), Oriental Negros; and (3) ordering all the appellees to pay, jointly and severally, to appellants the sum of P500.00 as damages, plus the costs of suit. In their answer appellees disclaimed any knowledge or information regarding the sale allegedly made on April 20, 1951 by Andrea Gutang in favor of appellants and alleged that, if such sale was made, the same was void on the ground that Andrea Gutang had no right to dispose of the property subject matter thereof. They further alleged that said property had never been in possession of appellants, the truth being that appellees, as owners, had been in continuous possession thereof since the death of Francisco Yaeso. By way of affirmative defense and counterclaim, they further alleged that on July 30, 1951, Paulina and Cipriana Yaeso, as the only surviving heirs of Francisco Yaeso, executed a public instrument of sale in favor of the spouses Fidel Esparcia and Paulina Sienes, the said sale having been registered together with an affidavit of adjudication executed by Paulina and Cipriana on July 18, 1951, as sole surviving heirs of the aforesaid deceased; that since then the Esparcias had been in possession of the property as owners.
After trial upon the issues thus joined, the lower court rendered judgment as follows:
IN VIEW OF ALL THE FOREGOING, judgment is hereby rendered declaring (1) that the sale of Lot No. 3368 made by Andrea Gutang to the plaintiff spouses Constancio Sienes and Genoveva Silay is void, and the reconveyance prayed for by them is denied; (2) that the sale made by Paulina and Cipriana Yaeso in favor of defendants Fidel Esparcia and Paulina Sienes involving the same lot is also void, and they have no valid title thereto; and (3) that the reservable property in question is part of and must be reverted to the estate of Cipriana Yaeso, the lone surviving relative and heir of Francisco Yaeso at the death of Andrea Gutang as of December 13, 1951. No pronouncement as to the costs.
From the above decision the Sienes spouse interposed the present appeal, their principal contentions being, firstly, that the lower court erred in holding that Lot 3368 of the Cadastral Survey of Ayuquitan was a reservable property; secondly, in annulling the sale of said lot executed by Andrea Gutang in their favor; and lastly, in holding that Cipriana Yaeso, as reservee, was entitled to inherit said land.
There is no dispute as to the following facts:
Lot 3368 originally belonged to Saturnino Yaeso. With his first wife, Teresa Ruales, he had four children named Agaton, Fernando, Paulina and Cipriana, while with his second wife, Andrea Gutang, he had an only son named Francisco. According to the cadastral records of Ayuquitan, the properties left by Saturnino upon his death – the date of which does not clearly appear of record – were left to his children as follows: Lot 3366 to Cipriana, Lot 3367 to Fernando, Lot 3375 to Agaton, Lot 3377 (southern portion) to Paulina, and Lot 3368 (western portion) to Francisco. As a result of the cadastral proceedings, Original Certificate of Title No. 10275 covering Lot 3368 was issued in the name of Francisco. Because Francisco was a minor at the time, his mother administered the property for him, declared it in her name for taxation purposes (Exhs A & A-1), and paid the taxes due thereon (Exhs. B, C, C-1 & C-2). When Francisco died on May 29, 1932 at the age of 20, single and without any descendant, his mother, as his sole heir, executed the public instrument Exhibit F entitled EXTRAJUDICIAL SETTLEMENT AND SALE whereby, among other things, for and in consideration of the sum of P800.00 she sold the property in question to appellants. When thereafter said vendees demanded from Paulina Yaeso and her husband Jose Esparcia, the surrender of Original Certificate of Title No. 10275 – which was in their possession – the latter refused, thus giving rise to the filing of the corresponding motion in the cadastral record No. 507. The same, however, was denied (Exhs. 8 & 9).
Thereafter, or more specifically, on July 30, 1951, Cipriana and Paulina Yaeso, the surviving half-sisters of Francisco, and who as such had declared the property in their name, on January 1, 1951 executed a deed of sale in favor of the spouses Fidel Esparcia and Paulina Sienes (Exh. 2) who, in turn, declared it in their name for tax purposes and thereafter secured the issuance in their name of Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-2141 (Exhs. 5 & 5-A).
As held by the trial court, it is clear upon the facts already stated, that the land in question was reservable property. Francisco Yaeso inherited it by operation of law from his father Saturnino, and upon Francisco’s death, unmarried and without descendants, it was inherited, in turn, by his mother, Andrea Gutang. The latter was, therefore, under obligation to reserve it for the benefit of relatives within the third degree belonging to the line from which said property came, if any survived her. The record discloses in this connection that Andrea Gutang died on December 13, 1951, the lone reservee surviving her being Cipriana Yaeso who died only on January 13, 1952 (Exh. 10).
In connection with reservable property, the weight of opinion is that the reserve creates two resolutory conditions, namely, (1) the death of the ascendant obliged to reserve and (2) the survival, at the time of his death, of relatives within the third degree belonging to the line from which the property came (6 Manresa 268-269; 6 Sanchez Roman 1934). This Court has held in connection with this matter that the reservista has the legal title and dominion to the reservable property but subject to a resolutory condition; that he is like a life usufructuary of the reservable property; that he may alienate the same but subject to reservation, said alienation transmitting only the revocable and conditional ownership of the reservists, the rights acquired by the transferee being revoked or resolved by the survival of reservatarios at the time of the death of the reservista (Edroso vs. Sablan, 25 Phil. 295; Lunsod vs. Ortega, 46 Phil. 664; Florentino vs. Florentino, 40 Phil. 480; and Director of Lands vs. Aguas, 65 Phil. 279).
The sale made by Andrea Gutang in favor of appellees was, therefore, subject to the condition that the vendees would definitely acquire ownership, by virtue of the alienation, only if the vendor died without being survived by any person entitled to the reservable property. Inasmuch much as when Andrea Gutang died, Cipriana Yaeso was still alive, the conclusion becomes inescapable that the previous sale made by the former in favor of appellants became of no legal effect and the reservable property subject matter thereof passed in exclusive ownership to Cipriana.
On the other hand, it is also clear that the sale executed by the sisters Paulina and Cipriana Yaeso in favor of the spouses Fidel Esparcia and Paulina Sienes was subject to a similar resolutory condition. The reserve instituted by law in favor of the heirs within the third degree belonging to the line from which the reservable property came, constitutes a real right which the reservee may alienate and dispose of, albeit conditionally, the condition being that the alienation shall transfer ownership to the vendee only if and when the reservee survives the person obliged to reserve. In the present case, Cipriana Yaeso, one of the reservees, was still alive when Andrea Gutang, the person obliged to reserve, died. Thus the former became the absolute owner of the reservable property upon Andrea’s death. While it may be true that the sale made by her and her sister prior to this event, became effective because of the occurrence of the resolutory condition, we are not now in a position to reverse the appealed decision, in so far as it orders the reversion of the property in question to the Estate of Cipriana Yaeso, because the vendees – the Esparcia spouses did – not appeal therefrom.
WHEREFORE, the appealed decision – as above modified – is affirmed, with costs, and without prejudice to whatever action in equity the Esparcia spouses may have against the Estate of Cipriana Yaeso for the reconveyance of the property in question.
G.R. No. L-34395 May 19, 1981
BEATRIZ L. GONZALES, petitioner,
COURT OF FIRST INSTANCE OF MANILA (BRANCH V), BENITO F. LEGARDA, ROSARIO L. VALDEZ, ALEJANDRO LEGARDA, TERESA LEGARDA, JOSE LEGARDA, BENITO LEGARDA Y FERNANDEZ, CARMEN LEGARDA Y FERNANDEZ, FILOMENA LEGARDA Y HERNANDEZ, CARMEN LEGARDA Y HERNANDEZ, ALEJANDRO LEGARDA Y HERNANDEZ, RAMON LEGARDA Y HERNANDEZ, FILOMENA LEGARDA Y LOBREGAT, JAIME LEGARDA Y LOBREGAT, CELSO LEGARDA Y LOBREGAT, ALEJANDRO LEGARDA Y LOBREGAT, MA. TERESA LEGARDA Y LOBREGAT, MA. ANTONIA LEGARDA Y LOBREGAT, JOSE LEGARDA Y LOBREGAT, ROSARIO LEGARDA Y LOBREGAT, BENITO LEGARDA Y LOBREGAT, EDUARDO LEGARDA Y LOBREGAT, TRINIDAD F. LEGARDA, and the ESTATE OF DONA FILOMENA ROCES DE LEGARDA, respondents.
Beatriz Legarda Gonzales appealed from the decision of the Court of First Instance of Manila, dismissing her complaint for partition, accounting, reconveyance and damages and holding, as not subject to reserve troncal, the properties which her mother Filomena Races inherited in 1943 from Filomena Legarda (Civil Case No. 73335). The facts are as follows:
Benito Legarda y De la Paz, the son of Benito Legarda y Tuason, died [Manila] on June 17, 1933. He was survived by his widow, Filomena Races, and their seven children: four daughters named Beatriz, Rosario, Teresa and Filomena and three sons named Benito, Alejandro and Jose.
On July 12, 1939, the real properties left by Benito Legarda y Tuason were partitioned in three equal portions by his daughters, Consuelo and Rita, and the heirs of his deceased son Benito Legarda y De la Paz who were represented by Benito F. Legarda.
Filomena Legarda y Races died intestate and without issue on March 19, 1943. Her sole heiress was her mother, Filomena Races Vda. de Legarda.
Mrs. Legarda executed on May 12, 1947 an affidavit adjudicating extrajudicially to herself the properties which she inherited from her deceased daughter, Filomena Legarda. The said properties consist of the following: 1äwphï1.ñët
(a) Savings deposit in the National City Bank of New York with a credit balance of P3,699.63.
(b) 1,429 shares of the Benguet Consolidated Mining Company and a 1/7 interest in certain shares of the San Miguel Brewery, Tuason & Legarda, Ltd., Philippine Guaranty Company, Insular Life Assurance Company and the Manila Times.
(c) 1/7 of the properties described in TCT Nos. 80226, 80237 to 80243 (7 titles), 80260, 80261 and 57512 of the Manila registry of deeds.
1/21st of the properties covered by TCT Nos. 48164, 84714, 48201, 48202, 48205, 48203, 48206, 48160 and 48192 of the Manila registry of deeds;
1/21st of the property described in TCT No. 4475 of the registry of deeds of Rizal, now Quezon City; 1/14th of the property described in TCT No. 966 of the registry of deeds of Baguio;
1/7th of the lot and improvements at 127 Aviles described in TCT No. 41862 of the Manila registry of deeds; 1/7th of the lots and improvements at 181 San Rafael describe in TCT Nos. 50495 and 48161 of the Manila registry of deeds;
1/7th of the property described in TCT No. 48163 of the Manila registry of deeds (Streets);
l/21st of the properties described in TCT Nos. 48199 and 57551 of the Manila registry of deeds (Streets and Estero):
2/21st of the property described in TCT No. 13458 of tile registry of deeds of T0ayabas.
These are the properties in litigation in this case. As a result of the affidavit of adjudication, Filomena Races succeeded her deceased daughter Filomena Legarda as co-owner of the properties held proindiviso by her other six children.
Mrs. Legarda on March 6, 1953 executed two handwritten Identical documents wherein she disposed of the properties, which she inherited from her daughter, in favor of the children of her sons, Benito, Alejandro and Jose (sixteen grandchildren in all). The document reads: 1äwphï1.ñët
A mis hijos :
Dispongo que se reparta a todos mis nietos hijos de Ben, Mandu y Pepito, los bienes que he heredado de mi difunta hija Filomena y tambien los acciones de la Destileria La Rosario’ recientemente comprada a los hermanos Values Legarda.
De los bienes de mi hija Filomena se deducira un tote de terreno que yo he 0donada a las Hijas de Jesus, en Guipit
La case No. 181 San Rafael, la cede a mi hijo Mandu solo la casa; proque ella esta construida sobre terreno de los hermanos Legarda Races. 1äwphï1.ñët
(Sgd.) FILOMENA ROCES LEGARDA
6 Marzo 1953
During the period from July, 1958 to February, 1959 Mrs. Legarda and her six surviving children partitioned the properties consisting of the one-third share in the estate of Benito Legarda y Tuason which the children inherited in representation of their father, Benito Legarda y De la Paz.
Mrs. Legarda died on September 22, 1967. Her will was admitted to probate as a holographic will in the order dated July 16, 1968 of the Court of First Instance of Manila in Special Proceeding No. 70878, Testate Estate of Filomena Races Vda. de Legarda. The decree of probate was affirmed by the Court of Appeals in Legarda vs. Gonzales, CA-G.R. No. 43480-R, July 30,1976.
In the testate proceeding, Beatriz Legarda Gonzales, a daughter of the testatrix, filed on May 20, 1968 a motion to exclude from the inventory of her mother’s estate the properties which she inherited from her deceased daughter, Filomena, on the ground that said properties are reservable properties which should be inherited by Filomena Legarda’s three sisters and three brothers and not by the children of Benito, Alejandro and Jose, all surnamed Legarda. That motion was opposed by the administrator, Benito F. Legarda.
Without awaiting the resolution on that motion, Mrs. Gonzales filed on June 20, 1968 an ordinary civil action against her brothers, sisters, nephews and nieces and her mother’s estate for the purpose of securing a declaration that the said properties are reservable properties which Mrs. Legarda could not bequeath in her holographic will to her grandchildren to the exclusion of her three daughters and her three sons (See Paz vs. Madrigal, 100 Phil. 1085).
As already stated, the lower court dismissed the action of Mrs. Gonzales. ln this appeal under Republic Act No. 5440 she contends in her six assignments of error that the lower court erred in not regarding the properties in question as reservable properties under article 891 of the Civil Code.
On the other hand, defendants-appellees in their six counter-assignments of error contend that the lower court erred in not holding that Mrs. Legarda acquired the estate of her daughter Filomena] Legarda in exchange for her conjugal and hereditary shares in the estate of her husband Benito Legarda y De la Paz and in not holding that Mrs. Gonzales waived her right to the reservable properties and that her claim is barred by estoppel, laches and prescription.
The preliminary issue raised by the private respondents as to the timeliness of Mrs. Gonzales’ petition for review is a closed matter. This Court in its resolution of December 16, 1971 denied respondents’ motion to dismiss and gave due course to the petition for review.
In an appeal under Republic Act No. 5440 only legal issues can be raised under undisputed facts. Since on the basis of the stipulated facts the lower court resolved only the issue of whether the properties in question are subject to reserva troncal that is the only legal issue to be resolved in this appeal.
The other issues raised by the defendants-appellees, particularly those involving factual matters, cannot be resolved in this appeal. As the trial court did not pass upon those issues, there is no ruling which can be reviewed by this Court.
The question is whether the disputed properties are reservable properties under article 891 of the Civil Code, formerly article 811, and whether Filomena Races Vda. de Legarda could dispose of them in his will in favor of her grandchildren to the exclusion of her six children.
Did Mrs. Legarda have the right to convey mortis causa what she inherited from her daughter Filomena to the reservees within the third degree and to bypass the reservees in the second degree or should that inheritance automatically go to the reservees in the second degree, the six children of Mrs. Legarda?
As will hereinafter be shown that is not a novel issue or a question of first impression. lt was resolved in Florentino vs. Florentino, 40 Phil. 480. Before discussing the applicability to this case of the doctrine in the Florentino case and other pertinent rulings, it may be useful to make a brief discourse on the nature of reserve troncal, also called lineal, familiar, extraordinaria o semi-troncal.
Much time, effort and energy were spent by the parties in their five briefs in descanting on the nature of reserve troncal which together with the reserva viudal and reversion legal, was abolished by the Code Commission to prevent the decedent’s estate from being entailed, to eliminate the uncertainty in ownership caused by the reservation (which uncertainty impedes the improvement of the reservable property) and to discourage the confinement of property within a certain family for generations which situation allegedly leads to economic oligarchy, and is incompatible with the socialization of ownership.
The Code Commission regarded the reservas as remnants of feudalism which fomented agrarian unrest. Moreover, the reserves, insofar as they penalize legitimate relationship, is considered unjust and inequitable.
However, the lawmaking body, not agreeing entirely with the Code Commission, restored the reserve troncal, a legal institution which, according to Manresa and Castan Tobenas has provoked questions and doubts that are difficult to resolve.
Reserva troncal is provided for in article 811 of the Spanish Civil Code, now article 891, which reads: 1äwphï1.ñët
ART. 811. El ascendiente que heredare de su descendiente bienes que este hubiese adquirido por titulo lucrative de otro ascendiente, o de un hermano, se halla obligado a reservas los que hubiere adquirido por ministerio de la ley en favor de los parientes que eaten dentro del tercer grade y pertenezcan a la linea de donde los bienes proceden
ART. 891. The ascendant who inherits from his descendant any property which the latter may have acquired by gratuitous title from another ascendant, or a brother or sister, is obliged to reserve such property as he may have acquired by operation of law for the benefit of relatives who are within the third degree and who belong to the line from which said property came.
In reserve troncal (1) a descendant inherited or acquired by gratuitous title property from an ascendant or from a brother or sister; (2) the same property is inherited by another ascendant or is acquired by him by operation of law from the said descendant, and (3) the said ascendant should reserve the said property for the benefit of relatives who are within the third degree from the deceased descendant (prepositus) and who belong to the line from which the said property came.
So, three transmissions are involved: (I) a first transmission by lucrative title (inheritance or donation) from an ascendant or brother or sister to the deceased descendant; (2) a posterior transmission, by operation of law (intestate succession or legitime) from the deceased descendant (causante de la reserve) in favor of another ascendant, the reservor or reservista, which two transmissions precede the reservation, and (3) a third transmissions of the same property (in consequence of the reservation) from the reservor to the reservees (reservatarios) or the relatives within the third degree from the deceased descendant belonging to the line of the first ascendant, brother or sister of the deceased descendant (6 Castan Tobenas Derecho Civil, Part l, 1960, 6th Ed., pp. 198-9).
If there are only two transmissions there is no reserve. Thus, where one Bonifacia Lacerna died and her properties were inherited by her son, Juan Marbebe, upon the death of Juan, those lands should be inherited by his half-sister, to the exclusion of his maternal first cousins. The said lands are not reservable property within the meaning of article 811 (Lacerna vs. Vda. de Corcino, l l l Phil. 872).
The persons involved in reserve troncal are (1) the ascendant or brother or sister from whom the property was received by the descendant by lucrative or gratuitous title, (2) the descendant or prepositus (prepositus) who received the property, (3) the reservor (reservista) the other ascendant who obtained the property from the (prepositus) by operation of law and (4) the reserves (reservatario) who is within the third degree from the prepositus and who belongs to the (line o tronco) from which the property came and for whom the property should be reserved by the reservor.
The reservees may be half-brothers and sisters (Rodriguez vs. Rodriguez, 101 Phil. 1098; Chua vs. Court of First Instance of Negros Occidental, L-29901, August 31, 1977, 78 SCRA 412). Fourth degree relatives are not included (Jardin vs. Villamayor, 72 Phil. 392).
The rationale of reserve troncal is to avoid “el peligro de que bienes poseidos secularmente por una familia pasen bruscamente a titulo gratuito a manos extrañas por el azar de los enlaces y muertes prematuras or impeder que, por un azar de la vide personas extranas a una familia puedan adquirir bienes que sin aquel hubieran quedado en ella (6 Castan Tobenas Derecho Civil, Part l, 6th Ed., 1980, p. 203; Padura vs. Baldovino, 104 Phil. 1065).
An illustration of reserve troncal is found in Edroso vs. Sablan, 25 Phil. 295. ln that case, Pedro Sablan inherited two parcels of land from his father Victorians. Pedro died in 1902, single and without issue. His mother, Marcelina Edroso, inherited from him the two parcels of land.
It was held that the land was reservable property in the hands of Marcelina. The reservees were Pablo Sablan and Basilio Sablan, the paternal uncles of Pedro Sablan, the prepositus. Marcelina could register the land under the Torrens system in her name but the fact that the land was reservable property in favor of her two brothers-in-law, should they survive her, should be noted in the title.
In another case, it appears that Maria Aglibot died intestate in 1906. Her one-half share of a parcel of conjugal land was inherited by her daughter, Juliana Mañalac. When Juliana died intestate in 1920, said one-half share was inherited by her father, Anacleto Mañalac who owned the other one-half portion.
Anacleto died intestate in 1942, survived by his second wife and their six children. lt was held that the said one-half portion was reservable property in the hands of Anacleto Mañalac and, upon his death, should be inherited by Leona Aglibot and Evarista Aglibot, sisters of Maria and materna aunts of Juliana Mañalac, who belonged to the line from which said one-half portion came (Aglibot vs. Mañalac 114 Phil. 964).
Other illustrations of reserva troncal are found in Florentino vs Florentino, 40 Phil. 480; Nieva and Alcala vs. Alcala and Deocampo, 41 Phil. 915; Maghirang and Gutierrez vs. Balcita 46 Phil. 551; Lunsod vs. Ortega, 46 Phil. 664; Dizon vs. Galang, 48 Phil. 601; Riosa vs. Rocha, 48 Phil. 737; Centeno vs. Centeno 52 Phil. 322; Velayo Bernardo vs. Siojo, 58 Phil. 89; Director of Lands vs. Aguas, 63 Phil. 279; Fallorfina vs. Abille, CA 39 O.G. 1784.
The person from whom the degree should be reckoned is the descendant, or the one at the end of the line from which the property came and upon whom the property last revolved by descent. He is called the prepositus (Cabardo vs. Villanueva. 44 Phil. 186, 190).
In the Cabardo case, one Cornelia Abordo inherited property from her mother, Basilia Cabardo. When Cornelia died, her estate passed to her father, Lorenzo Abordo. ln his hands, the property was reservable property. Upon the death of Lorenzo, the person entitled to the property was Rosa Cabardo, a maternal aunt of Cornelia, who was her nearest relative within the third degree.
First cousins of the prepositus are in the fourth degree and are not reservees. They cannot even represent their parents because representation is confined to relatives within the third degree (Florentino vs. Florentino, 40 Phil. 480).
Within the third degree, the nearest relatives exclude the more remote subject to the rule of representation. But the representative should be within the third degree from the prepositus (Padura vs. Baldovino, 104 Phil. 1065).
Reserva troncal contemplates legitimate relationship. illegitimate relationship and relationship by affinity are excluded.
Gratuitous title or titulo lucrativo refers to a transmission wherein the recipient gives nothing in return such as donacion and succession (Cabardo vs. Villanueva, 44 Phil. 186, 189-190, citing 6 Manresa, Codigo Civil, 7th Ed., 195 l, p. 360).
The reserva creates two resolutory conditions, namely, (1) the death of the ascendant obliged to reserve and (2) the survival, at the time of his death, of relatives within the third degree belonging to the line from which the property came
(Sienes vs. E Esparcia l l l Phil. 349, 353).
The reservor has the legal title and dominion to the reservable property but subject to the resolutory condition that such title is extinguished if the reservor predeceased the reservee. The reservor is a usufructuary of the reservable property. He may alienate it subject to the reservation. The transferee gets the revocable and conditional ownership of the reservor. The transferee’s rights are revoked upon the survival of the reservees at the time of the death of the reservor but become indefeasible when the reservees predecease the reservor. (Sienes vs. Esparcia, 111 Phil. 349, 353; Edroso vs. Sablan, 25 Phil. 295; Lunsod vs. Ortega, 46 Phil. 664; Florentino vs. Florentino, 40 Phil. 480: Director of Lands vs. Aguas, 63 Phil. 279.)
The reservor’s title has been compared with that of the vendee a retro in a pacta de retro sale or to a fideicomiso conditional.
The reservor’s alienation of the reservable property is subject to a resolutory condition, meaning that if at the time of the reservor’s death, there are reservees, the transferee of the property should deliver it to the reservees. lf there are no reservees at the time of the reservor’s death, the transferee’s title would become absolute. (Lunsod vs. Ortega, 46 Phil. 664; Gueco vs. Lacson, 118 Phil. 944; Mono vs. Nequia 93 Phil. 120).
On the other hand, the reserves has only an inchoate, expectant or contingent right. His expectant right would disappear if he predeceased the reservor. lt would become absolute should the reservor predecease the reserves.
The reserves cannot impugn any conveyance made by the reservor but he can require that the reservable character of the property be recognized by the purchaser (Riosa vs. Rocha 48 Phil. 737; Edroso vs. Sablan, 25 Phil. 295, 312-3; Gueco vs. Lacson, 118 Phil. 944).
There is a holding that the renunciation of the reservee’s right to the reservable property is illegal for being a contract regarding future inheritance (Velayo Bernardo vs. Siojo, 58 Phil. 89, 96).
And there is a dictum that the reservee’s right is a real right which he may alienate and dispose of conditionally. The condition is that the alienation shall transfer ownership to the vendee only if and when the reserves survives the reservor (Sienes vs. Esparcia, 111 Phil. 349, 353). 1äwphï1.ñët
The reservatario receives the property as a conditional heir of the descendant (prepositus) said property merely reverting to the line of origin from which it had temporarily and accidentally stayed during the reservista’s lifetime. The authorities are all agreed that there being reservatarios that survive the reservists, the latter must be deemed to have enjoyed no more than a than interest in the reservable property. (J. J. B. L. Reyes in Cane vs. Director of Lands, 105 Phil. l5.)
Even during the reservista’s lifetime, the reservatarios, who are the ultimate acquirers of the property, can already assert the right to prevent the reservista from doing anything that might frustrate their reversionary right, and, for this purpose, they can compel the annotation of their right in the registry of property even while the (reservista) is alive (Ley Hipotecaria de Ultramar, Arts. 168, 199; Edroso vs. Sablan, 25 Phil. 295).
This right is incompatible with the mere expectancy that corresponds to the natural heirs of the reservista lt is likewise clear that the reservable property is no part of the estate of the reservista who may not dispose of them (it) by will, so long as there are reservatarios existing (Arroyo vs. Gerona, 58 Phil. 226, 237).
The latter, therefore, do not inherit from the reservista but from the descendant (prepositus) of whom the reservatarios are the heirs mortis causa, subject to the condition that they must survive the reservista. (Sanchez Roman, Vol. VI Tomo 2, p. 286; Manresa, Commentaries, Vol. 6, 6th Ed., pp. 274, 310, cited by J. J.B.L. Reyes in Padura vs. Baldovino, L-11960, December 27, 1958, 104 Phil. 1065).
Hence, upon the reservista’s death, the reservatario nearest to the prepositus becomes, “automatically and by operation of law, the owner of the reservable property.” (Cane vs. Director of Lands, 105 Phil. l5.)
In the instant case, the properties in question were indubitably reservable properties in the hands of Mrs. Legarda. Undoubtedly, she was a reservor. The reservation became a certainty when at the time of her death the reservees or relatives within the third degree of the prepositus Filomena Legarda were living or they survived Mrs. Legarda.
So, the ultimate issue in this case is whether Mrs. Legarda, as reservor, could convey the reservable properties by will or mortis causa to the reservees within the third degree (her sixteen grandchildren) to the exclusion of the reservees in the second degree, her three daughters and three sons. As indicated at the outset, that issue is already res judicata or cosa juzgada.
We hold that Mrs. Legarda could not convey in her holographic will to her sixteen grandchildren the reservable properties which she had inherited from her daughter Filomena because the reservable properties did not form part of her estate (Cabardo vs. Villanueva, 44 Phil. 186, 191). The reservor cannot make a disposition mortis causa of the reservable properties as long as the reservees survived the reservor.
As repeatedly held in the Cano and Padura cases, the reservees inherit the reservable properties from the prepositus, not from the reservor.
Article 891 clearly indicates that the reservable properties should be inherited by all the nearest relatives within the third degree from the prepositus who in this case are the six children of Mrs. Legarda. She could not select the reservees to whom the reservable property should be given and deprive the other reservees of their share therein.
To allow the reservor in this case to make a testamentary disposition of the reservable properties in favor of the reservees in the third degree and, consequently, to ignore the reservees in the second degree would be a glaring violation of article 891. That testamentary disposition cannot be allowed.
We have stated earlier that this case is governed by the doctrine of Florentino vs. Florentino, 40 Phil. 480, a similar case, where it was ruled: 1äwphï1.ñët
Reservable property left, through a will or otherwise, by the death of ascendant (reservista) together with his own property in favor of another of his descendants as forced heir, forms no part of the latter’s lawful inheritance nor of the legitime, for the reason that, as said property continued to be reservable, the heir receiving the same as an inheritance from his ascendant has the strict obligation of its delivery to the relatives, within the third degree, of the predecessor in interest (prepositus), without prejudicing the right of the heir to an aliquot part of the property, if he has at the same time the right of a reservatario (reserves).
ln the Florentino case, it appears that Apolonio Florentino II and his second wife Severina Faz de Leon begot two children, Mercedes and Apolonio III. These two inherited properties from their father. Upon Apolonio III death in 1891, his properties were inherited by his mother, Severina, who died in 1908. ln her will, she instituted her daughter Mercedes as heiress to all her properties, including those coming from her deceased husband through their son, Apolonio III.
The surviving children, begotten by Apolonio II with his first wife Antonia Faz de Leon and the descendants of the deceased children of his first marriage, sued Mercedes Florentino for the recovery of their share in the reservable properties, which Severina de Leon had inherited from Apolonio III which the latter had inherited from his father Apolonio II and which Severina willed to her daughter Mercedes.
Plaintiff’s theory was that the said properties, as reservable properties, could not be disposed of in Severina’s will in favor of Mercedes only. That theory was sustained by this Court.
It was held that the said properties, being reservable properties, did not form part of Severina’s estate and could not be inherited from her by her daughter Mercedes alone.
As there were seven reservees, Mercedes was entitled, as a reserves, to one-seventh of the properties. The other six sevenths portions were adjudicated to the other six reservees.
Under the rule of stare decisis et non quieta movere, we are bound to follow in this case the doctrine of the Florentino case. That doctrine means that as long as during the reservor’s lifetime and upon his death there are relatives within the third degree of the prepositus regardless of whether those reservees are common descendants of the reservor and the ascendant from whom the property came, the property retains its reservable character. The property should go to the nearest reservees. The reservor cannot, by means of his will, choose the reserves to whom the reservable property should be awarded.
The alleged opinion of Sanchez Roman that there is no reserva troncal when the only relatives within the third degree are the common descendants of the predeceased ascendant and the ascendant who would be obliged to reserve is irrelevant and sans binding force in the light of the ruling in the Florentino case.
It is contended by the appellees herein that the properties in question are not reservable properties because only relatives within the third degree from the paternal line have survived and that when Mrs. Legarda willed the said properties to her sixteen grandchildren, who are third-degree relatives of Filomena Legarda and who belong to the paternal line, the reason for the reserva troncal has been satisfied: “to prevent persons outside a family from securing, by some special accident of life, property that would otherwise have remained therein”.
That same contention was advanced in the Florentino case where the reservor willed the reservable properties to her daughter, a full-blood sister of the prepositus and ignored the other six reservors, the relatives of the half-blood of the prepositus.
In rejecting that contention, this Court held that the reservable property bequeathed by the reservor to her daughter does not form part of the reservor’s estate nor of the daughter’s estate but should be given to all the seven reservees or nearest relatives of the prepositus within the third degree.
This Court noted that, while it is true that by giving the reservable property to only one reserves it did not pass into the hands of strangers, nevertheless, it is likewise true that the heiress of the reservor was only one of the reservees and there is no reason founded upon law and justice why the other reservees should be deprived of their shares in the reservable property (pp. 894-5).
Applying that doctrine to this case, it results that Mrs. Legarda could not dispose of in her will the properties in question even if the disposition is in favor of the relatives within the third degree from Filomena Legarda. The said properties, by operation of Article 891, should go to Mrs. Legarda’s six children as reservees within the second degree from Filomena Legarda.
It should be repeated that the reservees do not inherit from the reservor but from the reservor but from the prepositus, of whom the reservees are the heirs mortis causa subject to the condition that they must survive the reservor (Padura vs. Baldovino, L-11960, December 27, 1958, 104 Phil. 1065).
The trial court said that the disputed properties lost their reservable character due to the non-existence of third-degree relatives of Filomena Legarda at the time of the death of the reservor, Mrs. Legarda, belonging to the Legarda family, “except third-degree relatives who pertain to both” the Legarda and Races lines.
That holding is erroneous. The reservation could have been extinguished only by the absence of reservees at the time of Mrs. Legarda’s death. Since at the time of her death, there were (and still are) reservees belonging to the second and third degrees, the disputed properties did not lose their reservable character. The disposition of the said properties should be made in accordance with article 891 or the rule on reserva troncal and not in accordance with the reservor’s holographic will. The said properties did not form part of Mrs. Legarda’s estate. (Cane vs. Director of Lands, 105 Phil. l, 4).
WHEREFORE, the lower court’s decision is reversed and set aside. lt is hereby adjudged that the properties inherited by Filomena Roces Vda. de Legarda from her daughter Filomena Legarda, with all the fruits and accessions thereof, are reservable properties which belong to Beatriz, Rosario, Teresa, Benito, Alejandro and Jose, all surnamed Legarda y Roces, as reservees. The shares of Rosario L. Valdes and Benito F. Legarda, who died in 1969 and 1973, respectively, should pertain to their respective heirs. Costs against the private respondents.
G.R. No. L-10701 January 16, 1959
MARIA CANO, applicant-appellee,
DIRECTOR OF LANDS, EUSTAQUIA GUERRERO, ET AL., oppositors-appellants.
JOSE FERNANDEZ, ET AL., oppositors-appellants.
REYES, J.B.L., J.:
In an amended decision dated October 9, 1951, issued in Land Registration Case No. 12, G.L.R.O. Rec. No. 2835, the Court of First Instance of Sorsogon decreed the registration of Lots Nos. 1798 and 1799 of the Juban (Sorsogon) Cadastre, under the following terms and conditions:
In view of the foregoing, and it appearing that the notices have been duly published and posted as required by law, and that the title of the applicant to the above-mentioned two parcels of land is registrable in law, it is hereby adjudged and decreed, and with reaffirmation of the order of general default, that the two parcels of land described in plan SWO-24152, known as Lots Nos. 1798 and 1799 of the Cadastral Survey of Juban, with their improvements, be registered in the name of Maria Cano, Filipina, 71 years of age, widow and resident of Juban, province of Sorsogon, with the understanding that Lot No. 1799 shall be subject to the right of reservation in favor of Eustaquia Guerrero pursuant to Article 891 of the Civil code. After this decision shall have become final for lack of appeal therefrom within the 30-day period from its promulgation, let the corresponding decree issue.
So ordered. (Rec. App. pp. 18-19)
The decision having become final, the decree and the Certificate of Title (No. 0-20) were issued in the name of Maria Cano, subject to reserva troncal in favor of Eustaquia Guerrero. In October 1955, counsel for the reserve (reservatorio) Guerrero filed a motion with the Cadastral Court, alleging the death of the original registered owner and reservista, Maria Cano, on September 8, 1955, and praying that the original Certificate of Title be ordered cancelled and a new one issued in favor of movant Eustaquia Guerrero; and that the Sheriff be ordered to place her in possession of the property. The motion was opposed by Jose and Teotimo Fernandez, sons of the reservista Maria Cano, who contended that the application and operation of the reserva troncal should be ventilated in an ordinary contentious proceeding, and that the Registration Court did not have jurisdiction to grant the motion.
In view of the recorded reserva in favor of the appellee, as expressly noted in the final decree of registration, the lower court granted the petition for the issuance of a new certificate, for the reason that the death of the reservista vested the ownership of the property in the petitioner as the sole reservatorio troncal.
The oppositors, heirs of the reservista Maria Cano, duly appealed from the order, insisting that the ownership of the reservatorio can not be decreed in a mere proceeding under sec. 112 of Act 496, but requires a judicial administration proceedings, wherein the rights of appellee, as the reservatorio entitled to the reservable property, are to be declared. In this connection, appellants argue that the reversion in favor of the reservatorio requires the declaration of the existence of the following facts:
(1) The property was received by a descendant by gratuitous title from an ascendant or from a brother or sister;
(2) Said descendant dies without issue;
(3) The property is inherited by another ascendant by operation of law; and
(4) The existence of relatives within the third degree belonging the line from which said property came. (Appellants’ Brief, p. 8)
We find the appeal untenable. The requisites enumerated by appellants have already been declared to exist by the decree of registration wherein the rights of the appellee as reservatario troncal were expressly recognized:
From the above-quoted agreed stipulation of facts, it is evident that Lot No. 1799 was acquired by the Appellant Maria Cano by inheritance from her deceased daughter, Lourdes Guerrero who, in turn, inherited the same from her father Evaristo Guerrero and, hence, falls squarely under the provisions of Article 891 of the Civil Code; and that each and everyone of the private oppositors are within the third degree of consaguinity of the decedent Evaristo Guerrero, and who belonging to the same line from which the property came.
It appears however, from the agreed stipulation of facts that with the exception of Eustaquia Guerrero, who is the only living daughter of the decedent Evaristo Guerrero, by his former marriage, all the other oppositors are grandchildren of the said Evaristo Guerrero by his former marriages. Eustaquia Guerrero, being the nearest of kin, excludes all the other private oppositors, whose decree of relationship to the decedent is remoter (Article 962, Civil Code; Director of Lands vs. Aguas, 62 Phil., 279). (Rec. App. pp. 16-17)
This decree having become final, all persons (appellees included) are bared thereby from contesting the existence of the constituent elements of the reserva. The only requisites for the passing of the title from the reservista to the appellee are: (1) the death of the reservista; and (2) the fact that the reservatario has survived the reservista. Both facts are admitted, and their existence is nowhere questioned.
The contention that an intestacy proceeding is still necessary rests upon the assumption that the reservatario will succeed in, or inherit, the reservable property from the reservista. This is not true. The reservatario is not the reservista’s successor mortis causa nor is the reservable property part of the reservista’s estate; the reservatario receives the property as a conditional heir of the descendant ( prepositus), said property merely reverting to the line of origin from which it had temporarily and accidentally strayed during the reservista’s lifetime. The authorities are all agreed that there being reservatarios that survive the reservista, the latter must be deemed to have enjoined no more than a life interest in the reservable property.
It is a consequence of these principles that upon the death of the reservista, the reservatario nearest to the prepositus (the appellee in this case) becomes, automatically and by operation of law, the owner of the reservable property. As already stated, that property is no part of the estate of the reservista, and does not even answer for the debts of the latter. Hence, its acquisition by the reservatario may be entered in the property records without necessity of estate proceedings, since the basic requisites therefor appear of record. It is equally well settled that the reservable property can not be transmitted by a reservista to her or his own successors mortis causa,(like appellants herein) so long as a reservatario within the third degree from the prepositus and belonging to the line whence the property came, is in existence when the reservista dies.
Of course, where the registration decree merely specifies the reservable character of the property, without determining the identity of the reservatario (as in the case of Director of Lands vs. Aguas, 63 Phil., 279) or where several reservatarios dispute the property among themselves, further proceedings would be unavoidable. But this is not the case. The rights of the reservataria Eustaquia Guerrero have been expressly recognized, and it is nowhere claimed that there are other reservatarios of equal or nearer degree. It is thus apparent that the heirs of the reservista are merely endeavoring to prolong their enjoyment of the reservable property to the detriment of the party lawfully entitled thereto.
We find no error in the order appealed from and therefore, the same is affirmed with costs against appellants in both instances.