MANILA, Philippines?The ?nice telenovela? begins.
Sen. Ana Consuelo ?Jamby? Madrigal Wednesday moved to block the lawyer of her late aunt, Consuelo ?Chito? Madrigal-Collantes, from executing the latter?s last will and testament that had completely left her out.
Madrigal?s counsel, Ernesto Francisco Jr., asked Judge Oscar Pimentel of the Makati Regional Trial Court Branch 148 to deny the April 17 motion of Collantes? lawyer Enrile Teodoro seeking the issuance of letters to the executors of the will to start the distribution of the billionaire socialite?s property to the heirs.
Francisco contended that neither Teodoro nor his law firm, P.A. Garcia, C.S. Garcia and Associates, had the ?legal personality? to file such a motion because his attorney-client relationship with Collantes was effectively terminated at her death.
The childless Collantes died on March 24. In her will, she left the bulk of her fortune to her husband, former Foreign Affairs Minister Manuel Collantes; Senator Madrigal?s elder sister Susana Madrigal; a grandchild, Vicente P. Gustav Warns; and a niece, Gizela M. Gonzalez-Montinola.
Francisco had earlier said he expected the court battle over Collantes? estate to be ?long and bitter.?
Madrigal had said it promised to be a ?nice telenovela.?
?The issue is deeper than what people think. The issue is not money; the issue is very complex. There are a lot of issues that if they become public ... But I still want to keep it a family matter. I?m very sad that they are making [this] a public matter,? the senator had said.
Modes of termination
In his motion, Francisco said the attorney-client relationship may be terminated by either ?the act of the client, the act of the attorney, the death of the client, the death of the attorney, or the accomplishment of the purpose for which it was created.?
He said it was ?widely recognized? that upon the client?s death, ?the attorney has no further authority to appear, save to inform the court of his client?s death and to take steps to safeguard the decedent?s interest, unless his services are further retained by the substitute parties.?
Francisco cited as examples the cases of the heirs of the late Florentina Nuguid Vda. de Haberer vs Court of Appeals et al., the heirs of Maximo Regoso vs Court of Appeals et al., among others.
Teodoro had earlier asked Judge Pimentel to issue letters testamentary?or documents stating the authority of the executor of an estate of a person who has died?to Perry Pe and Aurelio Montinola III ?in order to administer [Collantes?] estate ... and put into effect her will.?
Pe and Montinola, the husband of Gizela M. Gonzalez-Montinola, had been named executors and trustees of Collantes? will.
Validity of will
Francisco also intends to file a motion for intervention to question the validity of Collantes? will, which she purportedly executed in September 2006 and which has since been the subject of a legal dispute.
?The will is not valid, and the process by which it was supposedly probated is questionable,? he said in an earlier interview.
Francisco said that once Collantes? will was invalidated, her estate would be distributed among her surviving siblings and nine nephews and nieces after deducting the lawful 50-percent share of her spouse.
The Madrigal family was prominent in banking and shipping and used to have interests in coal, oil, cement and the media. Collantes? father Vicente Madrigal, a coal, oil and sugar trader from Albay, assigned to her the management of the Rizal Cement Group of Companies.
She also held executive positions in the Alabang Commercial Corp., Evergreen Cuisine Management Corp., Sesamo Inc., SUGI Management Corp., Aquatic Food Center Inc., Metrobank and Wayfair Tours Inc.
Collantes also chaired the board of trustees of the Consuelo Madrigal Foundation, which she established to help impoverished families. With a report from Inquirer Research