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POLLY CAYETANO vs. HON. TOMAS T.

LEONIDAS and NENITA CAMPOS PAGUIA


(G.R. No. L-54919 ; May 30, 1984 ; J. Gutierrez)
Digest by Pretz V.

NATURE: Certiorari vs CFI decision allowing the probate of the will of the decedent, Adoracion Campos

FACTS: Decedent-Testatrix is Adoracion Campos. She does not have a family of her own. Her only surviving relatives
are:
1) Adoracions father, Hermogenes Cayetano (deceased), represented by his executrix, herein Petitioner Polly
Cayetano
2) Adoracions sisters, herein Private Respondents a) Nenita Paguia, b) Remedios Lopez, and c) Marieta
Medina
Adoracion died in 1977 while visiting her sister Nenita in Malate, Manila. At the time of Adoracions death, she was an
American citizen permanently residing at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Before her death, Adoracion executed her LAST
WILL AND TESTAMENT according to the LAWS OF PENNSYLVANIA in 1975, nominating a certain Wilfredo Barzaga to
be her administrator. This WILL was probated and registered in the Registry of Wills at the County of Philadelphia.
Barzaga, however, declined to be the administrator, leaving no one to administer the properties left by the testatrix.
The void in the administration of the Adoracions properties prompted her sister, Nenita Paguia, to file a petition for the
REPROBATE of Adoracions will. According to the private respondents, the will has already been probated by
Pennsylvanias court. Since Adoracion was an American citizen, American laws should apply as to the INTRINSIC
VALIDITY of the will as well as the AMOUNT OF SUCCESSIONAL RIGHTS.
The decedents father, Hermogenes, initially opposed the reprobate of the will. Hermogenes, however, later on filed a
MOTION TO WITHDRAW his OPPOSITION to the petition, finding for the wills veracity, confirming the will as to be truly
the probated will of his daughter Adoracion. This allowed the private respondents to present evidence in their favor exparte.
CFI then issued the assailed order in January 1979, admitting and allowing probate of Adoracions will.
In May 1979, Hermogenes filed a PETITION FOR RELIEF, averring:
1) That the withdrawal of his opposition to the reprobate proceedings was secured through fraudulent means, such
withdrawal having been inserted among other papers that he was signing in connection with two deeds of
conditional sales in favor of Construction and Development Corporation. (I wont discuss this in the ratio. Court
simply said that there was no evidence as to the fraud alleged by P. Hence, evidence ex-parte was validly
introduced by the Private Respodents.)
2) That the probate of Adoracions will according to a decree by a foreign court should not result in a probate of the
will in the Philippines when the right of a forced heir to his legitime was divested by said decree in which no
provision is made for the forced heir, in complete disregard of the Philippines laws on succession. The judge
should have OUTRIGHTLY denied the reprobate of the will, since said will resulted in the preterition of a
compulsory heir, Hermogenes.
In June 1982, Hermogenes died, leaving behind a will, with Polly Cayetano as the executrix thereof.
ISSUE: WON probate of Adoracions will should be allowed
HELD: Yes. American laws apply to the decedent, who was an American citizen
RATIO:
Although on its face, the will appeared to have preterited the petitioner and thus, the respondent judge should have
denied its reprobate outright, the private respondents have sufficiently established that Adoracion was, at the time of her
death, an American citizen and a permanent resident of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.A. Therefore, under Article 16
par. (2) and 1039 of the Civil Code which respectively provide:

Art. 16 par. (2). xxx xxx xxx However, intestate and testamentary successions, both with respect to the order of succession and to the amount of
successional rights and to the intrinsic validity of testamentary provisions, shall be regulated by the national law of the person whose succession is under
consideration, whatever may be the nature of the property and regardless of the country wherein said property may be found.
Art. 1039. Capacity to succeed is governed by the law of the nation of the decedent.

The law which governs Adoracion Campo's will is the law of Pennsylvania, U.S.A., which is the national law of the
decedent. Although the parties admit that the Pennsylvania law does not provide for legitimes and that all the estate may
be given away by the testatrix to a complete stranger, the petitioner argues that such law should not apply because it
would be contrary to the sound and established public policy and would run counter to the specific provisions of Philippine
Law.

It is a settled rule that as regards the intrinsic validity of the provisions of the will, as provided for by Article 16(2) and 1039
of the Civil Code, the national law of the decedent must apply.