UNCENSORED: Is there still justice in our Courts?

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By Manuel L. Morato

After over two years defending the rights of our late mother’s estate, my sisters are the most aggrieved for the demolition of the ancestral home of our parents to start with.  And so am I.  It is very painful to have lost the ancestral home of our parents.  Moral heritage should have been taken into consideration aside from the fact that there is an existing law to preserve old structures 50 years old and above.  Our parents’ ancestral home in the name of my late mother was over 70 years old at the time it was demolished in April of 2018, surreptitiously, without letting us, brothers and sisters know.  It is a violation of the law, Republic Act 10066.  It had to go to Court before our ancestral home could be demolished.

On my part, to start with, I am obeying the Holographic Will of my late mother who clearly made me as her eldest son and her firstborn the Executor of her Will.  She made it clear the succession from the eldest son to the youngest, according to our date of birth down the line.  But lo and behold, the youngest bypassed and overpassed the other 5 in the order of succession.

It has been a difficult ordeal in the Quezon City RTC Branches that we have been dribbled from one Court to another in two and a half years.  The decisions never made sense from one Court to another, either by inhibiting the Judge which on our part we never did.  It was a dilatory tactic that was applied to us, something my sisters and I would never resort to, nor our lawyers would resort to either.  When fighting for what is right, rain or shine, stand by it.

It is important to note that we followed the rules of Court to the letter and we never resorted to any “pakiusap” or side deals with anyone.  In conscience, the case in Court we treated “Como Dios manda” without having to resort to “palakasan”, nor resort to influence peddling.  In the first place, that possibility is remote even if we could resort to it.  Nakaka-konsensiya po gumawa ng ganyan, especially if it is to honorably defend the honor of our late mother.  It is something I never indulged in even in the estate of my late father, Tomas B. Morato, for I, too, had to simply defend his honor in the 1970s when his Holographic Will was contested.  My mother as the Executrix of my father’s Will solely wanted to honor and respect the Last Will and Testament of our father.  That’s all we wanted.  The Honorable Judge Tutuan of Quezon City ruled in favor of my late Father’s Holographic Will even if it was not probated for the Honorable Judge simply respected the penmanship of my father.  As he said then: “This is the authentic handwriting of Don Tomas B. Morato.”

It was a lawyer who questioned my father’s Holographic Will, stating in open court that my late father was “insane” when he wrote his Holographic Will.  The Will invoked God for enlightenment and started with the sign of the cross.  So did my mother.  When the word “insane” was mentioned, that insulting remark made me stand up by my father even more.

It fell on me to defend his Holographic Will made it more difficult to accept that “he was insane…,” according to a lawyer for the other camp.  That’s something that offended us very much; and me in particular.

I need not go into details for it was an obligation on my part to defend the honor of my father.  Period.  In like manner, it is now our duty to likewise defend the honor of my late mother, now that she is no longer able to defend herself.  I cannot understand how the law could insist on probating a Holographic Will.  It should not be a must unless the heirs are divided.  But in our case, out of the six children, only one -the youngest has the gall to defy our mother’s Holographic Will (handwritten Will in 10 pages) and insists on destroying it, saying that our mother was of “low education.”  That is why we are in Court today because what he said dishonored our mother who is a college graduate of the Colegio de Centro Escolar de Senoritas, a university for girls; and who was a Carnival Queen in 1929 as Miss Quezon Province.  Not only that, but my mother also taught Home Economics in Centro Escolar after graduation.  She married my widowed father in 1932.  It is my brother, Jose L. Morato, the youngest, who I don’t remember if he indeed graduated from high school and college.  Although he prides himself to have attended the courses in the Asian Institute.

I can say that it’s not “low education” that my mother suffered from.  She was gullible as my father was, including me who believe in trusting people for we belong to the “Old School”; and I include myself for I, too, have been deceived many times for believing that people are good, just to find out too late that bad people exist.  I inherited the old school breeding of my parents.  We are too trusting, despite my diplomas from Georgetown Preparatory School in Maryland; and Economics degree from Loyola University of Los Angeles. 

A Holographic Will must never be questioned, handwritten no less by the testator.  As what they wanted in life, so must be followed in death.  That’s the least we could do for them in return for the great sacrifices our parents have bestowed upon their children.  The Courts must respect the handwritten or Holographic Will of a parent, most especially if the majority of the children vow to accept as opposed to one who wishes to oppose it.

My late father really meant what he wanted to leave behind, guided by his lawyer, Don Sixto de la Costa, a very respectable man and an intimate friend of my father.  Atty. Sixto de la Costa had only one child, a son, a Jesuit Priest – Father Horacio de la Costa of Ateneo.

We thank Judge Tutaan (RIP) of RTC Branch, Quezon City, who used his conscience instead of resorting to never-ending legal procedures that will ultimately end up on a not so upright decision.  It was so clear what was right as opposed to something not right.  May his Honor rest in peace, as my beloved father also rested after a long drawn out case.

On our part, we did not use influence-peddling as some often do.  It is not right to resort to such machinations for ultimately, it’s God’s decision that will prevail for there is no merit to winning a case based on lies; something that is not true.  That’s too painful to reckon with at the end of the day.

If I have spoken in defense of my late mother, it was out of respect; and primarily to give her the peace that she should have after 18 years since she passed on May 31, 2002 at the age of 92.  My three sisters and I did not expect this problem which we are now encountering regarding the estate of our mother.

Out of respect for the dead, never deceive them in life much less in death for taking advantage of those not able to defend themselves, a situation not given to our beloved departed.  Respect must be given to those who are defenseless.  We owe our parents that much, in life and in death.

My three sisters and I are together in honoring and defending our parents for we know who did us wrong.  It’s my sisters who suffer most and because of them, I have to do my part as Executor of our mother’s Will.  I have no choice.  My sister Teresita Morato Lazatin’s house was boxed in with a firewall without an easement of 2 to 4 meters as ordinarily done when a building rises beside a residential home and is given some protection and safety.  Iba dito sa Quezon City.  What “Lola wants, Lola gets” as the saying goes.  The danger it imposes must be considered.  Aside from her house, the house of Dr. Cantos and the house of a nephew, Tomas Morato III who passed away about 2 years ago was also put in such a predicament, passed on to his widow and children.  Ang sabi ng developer ay sinundan lang daw nila ang “mohon” or survey marker.  But that’s not quite right for a “mohon” is only indicative of the size of the lot/s; a “major point on the land surveyed.”  My 4-storey building was also compromised by the construction just next door that will totally block off the morning sun I am used to for over 50 years; let alone the firewall that will prevent fresh air to circulate.

We suspect that the developer forced in this 21 storey condotel in a residential area, on the property of my mother measuring 1,102 square meters for the 3 lots, short of 98 sq. mts. to erect a 21 storey building that the contractor had to scrape every square meter to come closer to the mandated measurement.  The building across did the same thing.  Besides, if in case there is a violation, a call to the Mayor is enough, they say.  Wala na po kaming magagawa.  Our “public officials” like to flex their muscles as if they own their respective territory, temporarily.  Remember that, public service is not meant to be that way.  Alila lamang ng taongbayan ang mga public officials, public servants.  Tandaan nila.  Ako po ay nagpa-alila as MTRCB Chairman and PCSO Chairman for many years – positions I turned down but forced into accepting by 3 presidents.

I, too, did my part in defending my father’s Holographic Will in the 1970s.  It was an obligation.  I took a stand for what was right.  I won’t allow lies to prevail at hindi mananahimik ang aking mga magulang sa kabilang buhay.

Let it be known that I am not one who would fight or stand-up for something wrong, something that is not right, something that is not true and a lie.  If I speak out, it is a right given by my mother as Executor of her handwritten Will.  I did not ask for it, either from my father.  It’s simply the right and honorable thing to do.  Win or lose, the truth must prevail.  We owe our beloved departed that much when they are not with us anymore.  What good would it do to fight for something that is not truthful?  It’s too heavy a burden to carry in life.  ‘Yan ang hirap ng panganay na anak.

On my part, it hurts for I never wanted to see my father and mother unhappy.  But there are those who can do wrong to their parents and have no remorse.  We are convinced that a great injustice has been done to both our beloved father and now, to our beloved mother who was deceived in life and in death.  It is a question of defending the truth, now that she is not with us anymore.  That must apply to all our faithful departed; more so for our beloved parents.  It’s very painful to deceive our beloved departed in life and in death.  Only those without a heart can resort to evil ways.  But remember, their presence continues to be with us through eternity.

Let not history repeat itself.  I caution all my readers to protect their respective families to spare themselves from what we are going through.

We never expected this problem regarding the estate of our mother, but now we see how she was made to suffer in her old age as well.  We suspected that she was being deceived but not on this scale that confronts us today.

Personally, I do not want to ever do wrong to anyone.  I am incapable of doing that.  I have not taken a material possession that is not rightfully mine.  And I am incapable of inflicting harm on anyone.  There are people with no principles.  They can be swayed to the right or to the left like a pendulum of a grandfather’s clock.  But there are those with an unflexible conscience.

Take your pick.  I stand firmly on the right side.  It won’t make me happy, honestly, to do wrong to anyone based on lies.  I am doing it for my sisters who are pained and suffering, as others put in the same situation.  We are on a mission to make it known to others to be careful so it may not happen to them what happened to us.  You saw and heard what happened to my family.  With the help of God, it does not ever happen to anyone of you.  Heed my call for what happened to us we did not know that it could ever happen to my family.  It’s a tough lesson to learn.  Much as it is not nice to hear, be careful for there might appear one in a family that will play the role of Judas.

Forget about progress as our government officials in the Quezon City Hall are saying.  Peace is more important than all the money in the world.  Let’s respect our heritage – if any of them have the tint of respectability.

Learn a lesson on what the entire world is undergoing.  The “great neutralizer” is upon us. Walang mayaman, walang mahirap. Ang pangalan: Coronavirus/COVID 19.  Nakakatakot siya talaga.  Give it some thought.  It might be God-sent, a wake-up call. At least Our Lord is still giving us a chance.

My mother, being the second wife of my widower father had delicadeza and never set foot in the Court.  I represented her together with former Supreme Court Justice Jesus Barrera who offered to defend my mother – pro bono, kasi kaibigan siya ng Papa ko; pati si Doña Aurora Recto Barrera.

In a way, my mother was not involved for it was regarding the repartitioning of my father’s estate among the children of the first marriage and us of the second marriage.  That was cleared up and settled.   This case we have is much worst than the estate of my father for it is tainted with deceit and dishonesty involving “powerful” individuals. 

Mama, takeover – as Papa did when his Holographic Will was challenged in Court, years after his death.  I invoked his help.  I am going through great difficulty again to defend my mother’s rights by those who grabbed what rightfully belonged to her.

Allow me to quote what I once heard from “Final Word Tonight”:

“There is no greater tyranny than that which is perpetrated under the shield of the law and in the name of Justice,” by Montesquieu.

Time to change our Courts to Jury system for one Judge to decide alone is suspect, as opposed to a “9, 13 or15 members of the Jury,” selected private citizens who can judge and perceive right from wrong.

We rest our case whatever the Court decides, for or against us.  Just put a stop on the shenanigans we have undergone for 2 and a half years that led us to nowhere.  Doon din naman magtatapos ang gusto nilang mangyari.  Your Honor, please decide NOW!  Please shorten the agony!

Ayaw na po namin mag-hearing ng mag-hearing na wala namang tutuluyan kundi pabor sa nagdidikta sa inyo.  Handa na po kaming tanggapin ang desisyon ng Korte.  Tatlong RTC Branches ang pinagdaanan namin.  Despite the falsified documents we submitted in Court; a TRO was issued but not respected; and Lis Pendens on the 3 properties of our mother, sufficient enough to grant us the injunction we seek.

When will the Court render a decision?  When the 21 storey building in a residential area is finished and use their excuse na “fait accompli”?  It was used when the ancestral home of our parents was demolished.  They said “fait accompli;” dug the foundation as “fait accompli” as well.

We know that at the end when these 2 highrise buildings are erected on our residential area, the final decision will be “fait accompli.”

At this point, we expect the next decision will again be “fait accompli”!  So be it, Your Honors.

For comments and suggestions email at mlmorato@yahoo.com