Rabadilla vs. CA

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G.R. No. 113725
June 29, 2000


Testator Aleja Belleza appended a codicil to his last will and testament wherein he instituted Dr. Jorge Rabadilla as a devisee of 511, 855 sq meters of Lot 1392 in Bacolod. The codicil was duly probated and admitted before the CFI of Negros Occidental.

The codicil stated that should the devisee die ahead of the testator, the property and rights shall be inherited by his children and spouse. The codicil also required Rabadilla to deliver 75 piculs of export sugar and 25 piculs of domestic sugar to Maria Marlina Cosculuella y Belleza, and should he die, his heir shall have the same obligation. Lastly, in the event that the devisee or his heir shall later sell, lease, mortgage the said lot, the buyer, lessee, mortgagee shall also have the obligation to deliver the piculs. Dr. Rabadilla died in 1983 and was survived by his wife and children (pet).

 In 1989, Maria Marlena brought a complaint against the heirs to enforce the provisions of the codicil (to deliver piculs of sugar) and to revert the ownership to the heirs of the testator. A memorandum of agreement to enforce the codicil was agreed but was only partially complied.

Thereafter, the RTC dismissed the complaint. The appellate court reversed the decision of the trial court ruling that Dr. Rabadilla is instituted through modal institution and ordered the reconveyance of lot 1392 to the estate of the testatrix. Petitioner maintains that Article 882 does not find application as there was no modal institution and the testatrix intended a mere simple substitution (to deliver piculs of sugar to private respondents).


Whether or not there was substitution and not institucion sub modo?



The contention is without merit. Substitution is the designation by the testator of a person or persons to take the place of the heir or heirs first instituted. In simple substitutions, the second heir takes the inheritance in default of the first heir by reason of incapacity, predecease or renunciation. In the case under consideration, the provisions of subject Codicil do not provide that should Dr. Jorge Rabadilla default due to predecease, incapacity or renunciation, the testatrix’s near descendants would substitute him. What the par. 6 of the Codicil provides is that, should Dr. Jorge Rabadilla or his heirs not fulfil the conditions imposed in the Codicil, the property referred to shall be seized and turned over to the testatrix’s near descendants.

Further, in a institucion sub modo or modal institution (Art. 882), the testator states the 1) object of the institution; and 2) the purpose or application of the property left by the testator or the charge imposed by the testator upon the heir. A “mode” imposes an obligation upon the heir or legatee but it does not affect the efficacy of his rights to the succession. On the other hand, in a conditional testamentary disposition, the condition must happen or be fulfilled in order for the heir to be entitled to succeed the testator. The condition suspends but does not obligate; and the mode obligates but does not suspend. The manner of institution of Dr. Jorge Rabadilla under subject Codicil is evidently modal in nature because it imposes a charge upon the instituted heir without, however, affecting the efficacy of such institution. To some extent, it is similar to a resolutory condition. In case of doubt, the institution should be considered as modal and not conditional.

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