"This case being the sequel to, and aftermath of, a previous litigation between the parties that reached the Supreme Court through the former Court of Appeal's, it becomes necessary to restate the essential antecedent facts to view the issues in... proper perspective. For this purpose, it is important to recall that on "August 26, 1931, Victorino L. Guevara, a resident of Bayambang, Pangasinan, executed a will (Exhibit A), distributing assorted movables and a residential lot among his... children, Rosario and Ernesto Guevara, and his stepchildren, Vivencio, Eduvigis, Dionista, Candida, and Pio Guevara.
The balance of the 259 odd hectares ho distributed as follows:
100 hectares reserved for disposal during the testator's lifetime and for payment of his debts and family expenses;
108.0854 hectares to his legitimate son Ernesto Guevara, including therein 43.2342 hectares by way of mejora;
21.6171 hectares to 'mi hija natural reconocida Rosario Guavara.' Ernesto Guevara was appointed executor without bond.
On July 12, 1933, the same testator executed a deed of sale in favor of Ernesto Guevara, conveying to the latter the southern half of 'the 259-hectare lot heretofore mentioned, and expressly recognized Ernesto Guevara ... as owner of the northern half.
Prior to this sale, oh November 1, 1932, Victorino and his son Ernesto had jointly applied for registration of the big parcel (case No. 15174), but in view of the sale from the former to the latter, the decree was... issued in the name of Ernesto Guevara exclusively and for the whole tract a certificate of title
Fifteen days previously, i.e., on September 27, 1933, Victorinc Guevara died, but his ¦will was not filed for probate.
About four years later, Rbsario Guevara, claiming; to be a recognized natural child of the deceased Victorino, and on... the assumption that he had died intestate, brought' suit against' Ernesto Guevara to recover. 423,492 square meters
The case reached the former Court of Appeals in due course and was decided in Rosario Guevara's favor... but upon certiorari, the Supreme Court rnodified the judgment
Judgment of said court insofar as it awarded any relief to the respondent Rosario Guevara, in this action is hereby reversed and set aside, and the parties are hereby ordered to present the document Exhibit A to the proper) court for... probate in accordance with law, without prejudice to such action as the provincial fiscal Pangasinan may take against the responsible party or parties under section 4 of Rule 76. After the said document, is approve and allowed by the court as the... last will and testament of the deceased Victorino L. Guevara, the heirs and legatees herein named may take such action, judicial or extra judicial, as necessary to partition the estate of the testator, taking in consideration. the pronouncements made in... part II of this opinion No -finding as to costs in any of the three instances.'
Claiming to act pursuant to the foregoing decision Rosario Guevara commenced on October 5, 1945, special proceedings No. 2646 in the Court of First Instance of Pangasinan for the probate of the will of Victorino Guevara.
Notice of the petition having been duly published pursuant to Rule of Court 77,. section 4, Ernesto Guevara appeared and opposed the probate. Pedro L. Quinto, counsel for Rosarioin theformer litigation, was ... allowed to intervene in view of his recorded attorney's lien.
Ernesto. Guevara, through counsel, filed a motion to dismiss the petition on' the grounds that (a petition itself alleged that the will was revoked; (b) that 'whatever right to probate the parties may have has ... already prescribe (Record on Appeal,, p. 14); and (c) that the purpose of th probate was, solely to have petitioner Rosario declared an acknowledged natural child of the deceased.
Judge Sotero Rodas denied the motion, to dismiss; but upon motion of reconsideratio Judge Mainalac of the same court, on June 23, 1937, reconsidaration set aside the previous resolution and ordered the... petition dismissed on the ground that Rosario Guevara's petition did not for the probate in toto of the will, contrary to the order of Supreme Court; that her right to petition for the probate o testament .
of Victorino L. Guevara had prescribed; and that her action for judicial declaration of acknowledgment had likewise prescribed.
(c) Is the petition for probate of the alleged will of the deceased Victorino L, Guevara barred by the statute of limitations?
(3) The last question for determination in this case is whether or not the petition for probate of the will of Victorino L. Guevara is barred by the statute of limitations, considering that the testator died on September 27, 19S3,... and that the petition for probate of said will was filed twelve (12) years later, or, to be exact, on October 5, 1945. The Court of Appeals resolved the question in the negative
"We are of the opinion that the Court below was in error when it declared that the petition for probate of the will of Victorino Guevara was barred by prescription. The provision of Article 756 of the old
Civil Code (1042 of the New) and of Rule 76 of the Rules of Court, reiterating those of the old Code of Civil Procedure (Act 190), point out that the presentation of a decedent's will to the competent court has always been deemed by our law as more of a... duty than a right, and the neglect of such obligation carries with it the corresponding penalty; and it is inconsistent with that policy that the court should refuse to admit wills to probate, without inquiry into their validity.
The authority... given to testators to dispose freely of a portion of their estate would be imperfectly safeguarded, unless adequate measures were provided by the state to assure that the wishes of the deceased would be... carried out. Because the decedent may no longer act to have his testamentary dispositions duly executed, the state authority must take over the opposite vigilance and supervision, so that free testamentary disposition does... not remain a delusion and a dream.
we hold that under section 1 of Rule 74, in relation to Rule 76, if the decedent left a will and no debts 'and the heirs and legatees desire to make an extra-judicial partition of the... estate, they must first present that will to the court for probate and divide the estate in accordance with the will.
They may not disregard the provisions of the will unless those provisions are contrary to law.
Neither may they do away with the presentation of the will to the court for probate, because such suppression of the will is contrary to law and public policy. The law enjoins the probate of the will... and public policy requires it, because unless the will is probated and notice thereof given to the whole world, the right of ¦a person to dispose of his property by will may be rendered nugatory, as is attempted to be... done in the instant case. Absent legatees and devisees, or such of them as may have no knowledge of the will, could be cheated of their inheritance thru the collusion of some of the heirs who might agree to the partition of the estate... among themselves to the exclusion of others.'
'This excludes the bar of the statute of limitation from consideration as one of the matters which may be shown in opposition to the probate. This is further emphasized by section 1341 which, in substance, declares that, if upon the... verdict of the jury facts mentioned in section 1317 as aforesaid appear to be established, the court 'must' admit the will to probate. Section 1314 makes it imperative that the court shall admit the "will to probate if the... execution is proven and the grounds of opposition authorized by section 1312 are not established. This clearly implies that no grounds of opposition other than those enumerated in section 1312 may be set up, ... and it leaves no place for the application of the statute of limitations.
'One of the most fundamental conceptions of probate law, is that it is the duty of the court to effectuate, in so far as may be compatible with the public interest, the devolutionary wishes of a deceased person
'Even if the decedent left no debts and nobody raises any question as tot the authenticity and due execution of the will, none of heirs may sue for the partition of the estate in accordance with that will without first securing its allowance or... probate by the court: first, because the law expressly provides that 'no will shall pass either real or personal estate unless it is proved and allowed in the proper court; and, second, because the probate of a will, which is a proceeding in... rem, cannot be dispensed with and substituted by any other proceeding, judicial or extrajudicial, with offending against public policy designed to effectuate the testator's right to dispose of his property by will in accordance with law and to... protect the rights of the heirs and legatees under the will thru the means provided by law, among which are the publication and the personal notices to each and all of said heirs and legatees. Nor may the court approve and allow the will... presented in evidence in such an action for partition, which is one in personam, any more than it could decree the registration under the Torrens system of the land involved in an ordinary action for revindicacion or partition.'
"From whatever angle the case is viewed, a hearing on the allowance of the will is unavoidable. The persistent, albeit obnoxious, attempts of Rosario Guevara to sidetrack the will are not remedied by dismissing the petition for probate of will, and allowing
Ernesto to retain a greater interest than that intended by the testator.