G.R. No. 147145, 31 January 2005, 450 SCRA 265
This is a case of the probate of the will of Alipio Abada. Thereafter, the probate of the will of Paula Toray was also filed with the court. The oppositors in the will of Abada nand Toray are their nephews and nieces. The ground for opposition is that decedent left no will or if there is a will it was executed not in consonance with the law. Belinda Caponong-Noble was assigned as the administratix of the estate of Abada by the trial court. Thereafter, Abellar was appointed administratix of Toray’s property. The RTC ruled only on , whether the will of Abada has an attestation clause as required by law. The RTC-Kabankalan further held that the failure of the oppositors to raise any other matter forecloses all other issues. Unsatisfied with the decision Caponong-Noble appealed.
Whether or not the will of Abada has an attestation clause, and if so, whether the attestation clause complies with the requirements of the applicable laws.
The Court of Appeals did not err in sustaining the RTC-Kabankalan in admitting to probate the will of Abada. Abada executed his will on 4 June 1932. The laws in force at that time are the Civil Code of 1889 or the Old Civil Code, and Act No. 190 or the Code of Civil Procedure which governed the execution of wills before the enactment of the New Civil Code. The matter in dispute in the present case is the attestation clause in the will of Abada. Section 618 of the Code of Civil Procedure, as amended by Act No. 2645 governs the form of the attestation clause of Abada’s will.
There is no statutory requirement to state in the will itself that the testator knew the language or dialect used in the will. This is a matter that a party may establish by proof aliunde. Caponong-Noble further argues that Alipio, in his testimony, has failed, among others, to show that Abada knew or understood the contents of the will and the Spanish language used in the will. However, Alipio testified that Abada used to gather Spanish-speaking people in their place. In these gatherings, Abada and his companions would talk in the Spanish language. This sufficiently proves that Abada speaks the Spanish language. An attestation clause is made for the purpose of preserving, in permanent form, a record of the facts attending the execution of the will, so that in case of failure of the memory of the subscribing witnesses, or other casualty, they may still be proved. (Thompson on Wills, 2d ed., sec. 132.)
A will, therefore, should not be rejected where its attestation clause serves the purpose of the law. We rule to apply the liberal construction in the probate of Abada’s will. Abada’s will clearly shows four signatures: that of Abada and of three other persons. It is reasonable to conclude that there are three witnesses to the will. The question on the number of the witnesses is answered by an examination of the will itself and without the need for presentation of evidence aliunde.
The Court explained the extent and limits of the rule on liberal construction. Precision of language in the drafting of an attestation clause is desirable. However, it is not imperative that a parrot-like copy of the words of the statute be made. It is sufficient if from the language employed it can reasonably be deduced that the attestation clause fulfills what the law expects of it.
*Case digest by Princess Dianne Kris Decierdo, LLB-IV, Andres Bonifacio College Law School, SY 2018-2019