by Anna Santos

ATILANO G. MERCADO v. ALFONSO SANTOS, GR No. 45629, 1938-09-22

Facts:

petitioner herein filed in the Court of First Instance of Pampanga a petition for the probate of the will of his deceased wife, Ines Basa. Without any opposition, and upon the testimony of Benigno F. Gabino, one of the attesting... witnesses, the probate court, on June 27, 1931, admitted the will to probate.

Almost three years later, on April 11, 1934, the five intervenors herein moved ex parte to reopen the proceedings, alleging lack of jurisdiction of the court to probate the will and to close the... proceedings. Because filed ex parte, the motion was denied. The same motion was filed a second time, but with notice to the adverse party. The motion was nevertheless denied by the probate court on May 24, 1934. On appeal to this court, the order of denial was affirmed on

July 26, 1935. (Basa vs. Mercado,... sixteen months after the probate of the will of Ines Basa, intervenor Rosario Basa de Leon filed with the justice of the peace court of San Fernando, Pampanga, a complaint against the petitioner herein, for falsification or... forgery of the will probated... petitioner was arrested.

put up a bond in the sum of P4,000 and engaged the services of an attorney to undertake his defense.

complaint was finally dismissed, at the instance of the complainant herself, in an order dated December 8, 1932. Three months later, or on March 2, 1933, the same intervenor charged the petitioner for the second time with the same offense,... This second complaint, after investigation, was also dismissed, again at the instance of the... complainant herself... nine months later, on February 2, 1934, to be exact, the same intervenor accused the same petitioner for the third time of the same offense.

dismissed on April 24, 1934, after due investigation, on the ground that the... will alleged to have been falsified had already been probated and there was no evidence that the petitioner had forged the signature of the testatrix appearing thereon, but that, on the contrary, the evidence satisfactorily established the authenticity of the signature... aforesaid.

the provincial fiscal, on May 9, 1934, moved in the Court of of First Instance of Pampanga for reinvestigation of the case. The motion was granted... reinvestigation dragged on for almost a year until February 18, 1934, when the Court of First Instance ordered that the case be tried on the merits. The petitioner interposed a demurrer on November 25, 1935, on the... ground that the will alleged to have been forged had already been pro bated.

demurrer was overruled... exception was taken and a motion for reconsideration and notice of appeal were filed.

case proceeded to trial, and forthwith petitioner moved to dismiss the case claiming again that the will alleged to have been forged had already been probated and, further, that the order probating the will is conclusive as to the... authenticity and due execution thereof. The motion was overruled... petitioner filed with the Court of Appeals a petition for certiorari with preliminary injunction to enjoin the trial court from further proceedings in the matter. The injunction was issued and thereafter,... on June 19, 1937, the Court of Appeals dented the petition for certiorari, and dissolved the writ of preliminary injunction.

Issues:

Petitioner contends: (1) that the probate of the will of his deceased wife is a bar to his criminal prosecution for the alleged forgery of the said will; and, (2) that he has been denied the constitutional right to a speedy trial.

Ruling:

Principles:

Section 306 of our Code of Civil Procedure provides as to the effect of judgments:

Section 306 of our Code of Civil Procedure provides as to the effect of judgments:

"Sec. 306. Effect of judgment. The effect of a judgment or final order in an action or special proceeding before a court or judge of the Philippine Islands or of the United States, or of any State or Territory of the United States, having jurisdiction to pronounce... the judgment or order, may be as follows:

"1. In case of a judgment or order against a specific thing, or in respect to the probate of a will, or the administration of the estate of a deceased person, or in respect to the personal, political, or legal condition or relation of a particular person, the... judgment or order is conclusive upon the title of the thing, the will or administration, or the condition or relation of the person: Provided, That the probate of a will or granting of letters of administration shall only be prima facie evidence of the death... of the testator or intestate:

Sec. 306. Effect of judgment. The effect of a judgment or final order in an action or special proceeding before a court or judge of the Philippine Islands or of the United States, or of any State or Territory of the United States, having jurisdiction to pronounce... the judgment or order, may be as follows:

"1. In case of a judgment or order against a specific thing, or in respect to the probate of a will, or the administration of the estate of a deceased person, or in respect to the personal, political, or legal condition or relation of a particular person, the... judgment or order is conclusive upon the title of the thing, the will or administration, or the condition or relation of the person: Provided, That the probate of a will or granting of letters of administration shall only be prima facie evidence of the death... of the testator or intestate:

Section 625 of the same Code is more explicit as to the conclusiveness of the due execution of a probated will. It says:

"Sec. 625. Allowance Necessary, and Conclusive as to Execution. No will shall pass either the real or personal estate, unless it is proved and allowed in the Court of First instance, or by appeal to the Supreme Court; and the allowance by the court of a will of... real and personal estate shall be conclusive as to its due execution." (Underscoring ours.)

Section 625 of the same Code is more explicit as to the conclusiveness of the due execution of a probated will. It says:

"Sec. 625. Allowance Necessary, and Conclusive as to Execution. No will shall pass either the real or personal estate, unless it is proved and allowed in the Court of First instance, or by appeal to the Supreme Court; and the allowance by the court of a will of... real and personal estate shall be conclusive as to its due execution."

Manahan vs. Manahan

The decree of probate is conclusive with respect to the due execution thereof and it cannot be impugned on any of the grounds authorized by law, except that of fraud, in any separate or independent action or... proceeding.

28 R. C. L., p. 377, section 378

"The probate of a will by the probate court having jurisdiction mereof is usually considered as conclusive as to its due execution and validity, and is also conclusive that the testator was of sound and disposing mind at the time when he executed the will, and was... not acting under duress, menace, fraud, or undue influence, and that the will is genuine and not a forgery.

As our law on wills, particularly section 625 of our Code of Civil Procedure aforequoted, was taken almost bodily from the Statutes of Vermont, the decisions of the Supreme Court of that State relative to the effect of the probate of a will are ox persuasive authority in this... jurisdiction.

Vermont statute as to the conclusiveness of the due execution of a probated will reads as follows:

"Sec. 2356. No will shall pass either real or personal estate, unless it is proved and allowed in the probate court, or by appeal in the county or supreme court; and the probate of a will of real or personal estate shall be conclusive as to its due execution."

Supreme Court of Vermont in the case of Missionary Society vs. Eells

The probate of a will by the probate court having jurisdiction thereof, upon the due notice, is conclusive as to its due execution against the whole world.

The probate of a will in this jurisdiction is a proceeding in rem. The provision of notice by publication as a prerequisite to the allowance of a will is constructive notice to the whole world, and when probate is granted, the judgment of the court is binding upon... everybody, even against the State. This court held in the case of Manalo vs. Paredes and Philippine Food Co.

Everrett vs. Wing (103 Vt., 488, 492), the Supreme Court of Vermont

"In this State the probate of a will is a proceeding in rem, being in form and substance upon the will itself to determine its validity. The judgment determines the status of the instrument, whether it is or is not the will of the testator. When the proper steps... required by law have been taken the judgment is binding upon everybody, and makes the instrument as to all the world just what the judgment declares it to be. (Woodruti vs. Taylor, 20 Vt., 65, 73; Burbeck vs. Little, 50 Vt., 713, 715; Missionary Society vs.

Eells, 68 Vt., 497, 504; 35 Atl., 453.) The proceedings before the probate court are statutory and are not governed by common-law rules as to parties or causes of action. (Holdrige vs. Holdrige's Estate, 53 Vt., 546, 550; Purdy vs. Estate of Purdy, 67 Vt. 50, 55;

30 Atl., 695.) No process is issued against anyone in such proceedings, but all persons interested in determining the state or conditions of the instrument are constructively notified by the publication of notice as required by G. L. 3219. (Woodruff vs. Taylor,... supra; In re Warner's Estate 98 Vt., 254; 271; 127 Atl., 362.)"... ndido su quebrantada salud." The foregoing allegation was inserted on page 6 of the... amended petition for certiorari presented to the Court of Appeals. The constitutional issue also appears to have been actually raised and considered in the Court of Appeals. In the majority opinion of that court, it is stated:

"Upon the foregoing facts, counsel for the petitioner submits for the consideration of this court the following questions of law: First, that the respondent court acted arbitrarily and with abuse of its authority, with serious damage and prejudice to the rights and interests... of the petitioner, in allowing that the latter be prosecuted and arrested for the fourth time, and that he be subjected, also for the fourth time, to a preliminary investigation for the same offense, thereby converting the court into an instrument of oppression and vengeance on... the part of the alleged offended parties, Rosario Basa et al.; * * *."

And in the dissenting opinion, we find the following opening paragraph:

"We cannot join in a decision declining to stop a prosecution that has dragged for about five years and caused the arrest on four different occasions of a law abiding citizen for the alleged offense of falsifying a will that years before, had been declared genuine and valid... by a court of competent jurisdiction."

From the view we take of the instant case, the petitioner is entitled to have the criminal proceedings against him quashed. The judgment of the Court of Appeals is hereby reversed, without pronouncement regarding costs. So ordered.

From the view we take of the instant case, the petitioner is entitled to have the criminal proceedings against him quashed. The judgment of the Court of Appeals is hereby reversed, without pronouncement regarding costs. So ordered.