G.R. No. 83484, 12 February 1990, 182 SCRA 119


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.

Esteban Javellana, Jr. 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.

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 for a Special Proceeding for her appointment as special administratrix of the estate of Esteban Javellana, Jr. Later, she filed an amended petition 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. After due publication and hearing of her petition she was declared sole heir of the estate of Esteban Javellana, Jr.


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.
RULING: There is 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 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.

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.

*Case digest by Geraldine M. Cabucos, LLB-IV, Andres Bonifacio College Law School, SY 2018-2019