G.R. No. L-27952, 15 February 1982, 111 SCRA 704


Jose Eugenio Ramirez, a Filipino national, died in Spain on December 11, 1964, with only his widow as compulsory heir. His will was admitted to probate by the Court of First Instance of Manila, Branch X, on July 27, 1965. Maria Luisa Palacios was appointed administratrix of the estate.

On June 23, 1966, the administratrix submitted a project of partition as follows: the property of the deceased is to be divided into two parts. One part shall go to the widow in satisfaction of her legitime; the other part or “free portion” shall go to Jorge and Roberto Ramirez. Furthermore, one third (1/3) of the free portion is charged with the widow’s usufruct and the remaining two-thirds (2/3) with a usufruct in favor of Wanda.

Jorge and Roberto opposed the project of partition on the grounds: (a) that the provisions for vulgar substitution in favor of Wanda de Wrobleski with respect to the widow’s usufruct and in favor of Juan Pablo Jankowski and Horacio V. Ramirez, with respect to Wanda’s usufruct are invalid because the first heirs Marcelle and Wanda) survived the testator; (b) that the provisions for fideicommissary substitutions are also invalid because the first heirs are not related to the second heirs or substitutes within the first degree, as provided in Article 863 of the Civil Code; (c) that the grant of a usufruct over real property in the Philippines in favor of Wanda Wrobleski, who is an alien, violates Section 5, Article III of the Philippine Constitution; and that (d) the proposed partition of the testator’s interest in the Santa Cruz (Escolta) Building between the widow Marcelle and the appellants, violates the testator’s express win to give this property to them Nonetheless, the lower court approved the project of partition in its order dated May 3, 1967. It is this order which Jorge and Roberto have appealed to this Court.


Whether or not the fideicommissary substitution is valid.


No, becuase the second heirs are not within one degree relationship or strangers to Wanda.

ART. 863. A fideicommissary substitution by virtue of which the fiduciary or first heir instituted is entrusted with the obligation to preserve and to transmit to a second heir the whole or part of inheritance, shall be valid and shall take effect, provided such substitution does not go beyond one degree from the heir originally instituted, and provided further that the fiduciary or first heir and the second heir are living at time of the death of the testator.

A fideicommissary substitution is void if first heir is not related in the 1st degree to the second heir.—As regards the substitution in its fideicommissary aspect, the appellants are correct in their claim that it is void for the following reasons: The substitutes (Juan Pablo Jankowski and Horace V. Ramirez) are not related to Wanda, the heir originally instituted. Art 863 of the Civil Code validates a fideicommissary substitution “provided such substitution does not go beyond one degree from the heir originally instituted.”

*Case digest by Karisina Viado, LLB-IV, Andres Bonifacio College Law School, SY 2018-2019