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DIGEST: GONZALES VS. CA (G.R. No. L-37453 May 25, 1979)


G.R. No. L-37453 May 25, 1979




Lutgarda Santiago filed a petition with CFI for the probate of a will alleged to have been executedby the deceased Isabel Gabriel (at the age of 85, a widow) and designating Rizalina Gonzales as theprincipal beneficiary and executrix. (SANTIAGO AND GONZALES ARE BOTH NIECES OF THEDECEASED)

Santiago lived with the deceased prior and up to the time of her death together with her husband andchildren. The will submitted for probate:

typewritten Tagalog

appears to have been executed in Manila on May 5, 1961 or barely 2 months prior to the death of IsabelGabriel.

consists of 5 pages including the pages where the attestation clause and the acknowledgment ofthe notary public were written.

signatures of the deceased Isabel Gabriel appear at the end of the will on page four and at theleft margin of all the pages.

At the bottom and under the heading "Pangalan" are written the signatures of Matilde D. Orobia,Celso D. Gimpaya and Maria R. Gimpaya, and opposite the same, under the heading "Tirahan",are their respective places of residence, 961 Highway 54, Philamlife, for Miss Orobia, and 12 Dagala St., Navotas, Rizal, for the two Gimpayas. Their signatures also appear on the left marginof all the other pages. The WW is paged by typewritten words as follows: "Unang Dahon" andunderneath "(Page One)", "Ikalawang Dahon" and underneath "(Page Two)", etc., appearing atthe top of each page 4. Provisions in the will:

testatrix desired to be buried in the Catholic Cemetery of Navotas in accordance with the rites of the Roman Catholic Church

all expenses to be paid from her estate

all her obligations be paid

legacies in specified amounts be given to her sister, her brother, and her nephews and nieces, including Gonzales.

To Santiago, who was described in the will as

"aking mahal na pamangkin na aking pinalaki,inalagaan at minahal na katulad ng isang tunay na anak" and named as universal heir and and executor, were bequeathed all properties and estate, real or personal already acquired, or to be acquired, in her testatrix name, after satisfying the expenses, debts and legacies as aforementioned.

Petition was opposed by Rizalina Gabriel Gonzales assailing the document purporting to be the will of the deceased on the following grounds:

  1. that the same is not genuine; and in the alternative
  2. that the same was not executed and attested as required by law;
  3. that, at the time of the alleged execution of the purported wilt the decedent lacked testamentary capacity due to old age and sickness; and in the second alternative
  4. That the purported WW was procured through undue and improper pressure and influence on the part of the principal beneficiary, and/or of some other person for her benefit.


WHETHER OR NOT witness should be in good standing in the community, has reputation for trustworthythiness and reliableness, his honesty and uprightness.


No. Article 820 of the Civil Code provides the qualifications of a witness to the execution of wills while Article 821 sets forth the disqualification from being a witness to a win. These Articles state:

Art. 820. Any person of sound mind and of the age of eighteen years or more, and not blind, deaf or dumb, and able to read and write, may be a witness to the execution of a will mentioned in article 806 of this Code. "Art. 821. The following are disqualified from being witnesses to a will:

(1) Any person not domiciled in the Philippines,

(2) Those who have been convicted of falsification of a document, perjury or false testimony.

Under the law, there is no mandatory requirement that the witness testify initially or at any time during the trial as to his good standing in the community, his reputation for trustworthythiness and reliableness, his honesty and uprightness in order that his testimony may be believed and accepted by the trial court. It is enough that the qualifications enumerated in Article 820 of the Civil Code are complied with, such that the soundness of his mind can be shown by or deduced from his answers to the questions propounded to him, that his age (18 years or more) is shown from his appearance, testimony , or competently proved otherwise, as well as the fact that he is not blind, deaf or dumb and that he is able to read and write to the satisfaction of the Court, and that he has none of the disqualifications under Article 821 of the Civil Code. We reject petitioner's contention that it must first be established in the record the good standing of the witness in the community, his reputation for trustworthiness and reliableness, his honesty and uprightness, because such attributes are presumed of the witness unless the contrary is proved otherwise by the opposing party.

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