Republic of the Philippines
G.R. No. L-13431 November 12, 1919
In re will of Ana Abangan.
GERTRUDIS ABANGAN, executrix-appellee,
ANASTACIA ABANGAN, ET AL., opponents-appellants.
Filemon Sotto for appellants.
M. Jesus Cuenco for appellee.
On September 19, 1917, the Court of First Instance of Cebu admitted to probate Ana Abangan's will executed July, 1916. From this decision the opponent's appealed.
Said document, duly probated as Ana Abangan's will, consists of two sheets, the first of which contains all of the disposition of the testatrix, duly signed at the bottom by Martin Montalban (in the name and under the direction of the testatrix) and by three witnesses. The following sheet contains only the attestation clause duly signed at the bottom by the three instrumental witnesses. Neither of these sheets is signed on the left margin by the testatrix and the three witnesses, nor numbered by letters; and these omissions, according to appellants' contention, are defects whereby the probate of the will should have been denied. We are of the opinion that the will was duly admitted to probate.
In requiring that each and every sheet of the will should also be signed on the left margin by the testator and three witnesses in the presence of each other, Act No. 2645 (which is the one applicable in the case) evidently has for its object (referring to the body of the will itself) to avoid the substitution of any of said sheets, thereby changing the testator's dispositions. But when these dispositions are wholly written on only one sheet signed at the bottom by the testator and three witnesses (as the instant case), their signatures on the left margin of said sheet would be completely purposeless. In requiring this signature on the margin, the statute took into consideration, undoubtedly, the case of a will written on several sheets and must have referred to the sheets which the testator and the witnesses do not have to sign at the bottom. A different interpretation would assume that the statute requires that this sheet, already signed at the bottom, be signed twice. We cannot attribute to the statute such an intention. As these signatures must be written by the testator and the witnesses in the presence of each other, it appears that, if the signatures at the bottom of the sheet guaranties its authenticity, another signature on its left margin would be unneccessary; and if they do not guaranty, same signatures, affixed on another part of same sheet, would add nothing. We cannot assume that the statute regards of such importance the place where the testator and the witnesses must sign on the sheet that it would consider that their signatures written on the bottom do not guaranty the authenticity of the sheet but, if repeated on the margin, give sufficient security.
In requiring that each and every page of a will must be numbered correlatively in letters placed on the upper part of the sheet, it is likewise clear that the object of Act No. 2645 is to know whether any sheet of the will has been removed. But, when all the dispositive parts of a will are written on one sheet only, the object of the statute disappears because the removal of this single sheet, although unnumbered, cannot be hidden.
What has been said is also applicable to the attestation clause. Wherefore, without considering whether or not this clause is an essential part of the will, we hold that in the one accompanying the will in question, the signatures of the testatrix and of the three witnesses on the margin and the numbering of the pages of the sheet are formalities not required by the statute. Moreover, referring specially to the signature of the testatrix, we can add that same is not necessary in the attestation clause because this, as its name implies, appertains only to the witnesses and not to the testator since the latter does not attest, but executes, the will.
Synthesizing our opinion, we hold that in a will consisting of two sheets the first of which contains all the testamentary dispositions and is signed at the bottom by the testator and three witnesses and the second contains only the attestation clause and is signed also at the bottom by the three witnesses, it is not necessary that both sheets be further signed on their margins by the testator and the witnesses, or be paged.
The object of the solemnities surrounding the execution of wills is to close the door against bad faith and fraud, to avoid substitution of wills and testaments and to guaranty their truth and authenticity. Therefore the laws on this subject should be interpreted in such a way as to attain these primordal ends. But, on the other hand, also one must not lose sight of the fact that it is not the object of the law to restrain and curtail the exercise of the right to make a will. So when an interpretation already given assures such ends, any other interpretation whatsoever, that adds nothing but demands more requisites entirely unnecessary, useless and frustative of the testator's last will, must be disregarded. lawphil.net
As another ground for this appeal, it is alleged the records do not show that the testarix knew the dialect in which the will is written. But the circumstance appearing in the will itself that same was executed in the city of Cebu and in the dialect of this locality where the testatrix was a neighbor is enough, in the absence of any proof to the contrary, to presume that she knew this dialect in which this will is written.
For the foregoing considerations, the judgment appealed from is hereby affirmed with costs against the appellants. So ordered.
Arellano, C.J., Torres, Johnson, Araullo, Street and Malcolm, JJ., concur.
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