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TISON v. CA filiation to their father and their aunt.

Private respondent filed a Demurrer to

July 31, 1997 | Regalado, J. | Petition for Review on Certiorari | Pedigree Evidence on the ground that petitioners failed to prove their legitimate
filiation with the deceased in accordance with Article 172 of the Family
PETITIONERS: Corazon Dezoller Tison and Rene R. Dezoller Code. It is further averred that the testimony of petitioner Corazon Tison
RESPONDENTS: Court of Appeals and Teodora Domingo regarding her relationship with her alleged father and aunt is self-serving,
uncorroborated and incompetent, and that it falls short of the quantum of
SUMMARY: Petitioners filed an action for reconveyance against private proof required under Article 172 of the Family Code to establish filiation.
respondent over a parcel of land with a house and apartment originally owned by Also, the certification issued by the Office of the Local Civil Registrar of
petitioners aunt. To prove filiation, petitioners presented several pieces of Himamaylan, Negros Occidental is merely proof of the alleged destruction
documentary evidence along with Corazons testimony. Private respondent filed a oof the records referred to therein, and the joint affidavit executed by Pablo
demurrer to evidence which was granted and affirmed by both the trial and Verzosa and Meliton Sitjar certifying to the date, place of birth and
appellate court. The SC reversed and held that the petitioners are the niece and parentage of herein petitioners is inadmissible for being hearsay since the
nephew of Teodora Guerrero on the sole basis of the decedents declaration and affiants were never presented for cross-examination.
without need for further proof thereof. 4. The trial court issued an order granting the demurrer to evidence. In
upholding the dismissal, the appellate court declared that the documentary
DOCTRINE: Where the party claiming seeks recovery against a relative common evidence presented by petitioners, such as the baptismal certificates, family
picture, and joint affidavits are all inadmissible and insufficient to prove and
to both claimant and declarant, but not from the declarant himself or the declarants
establish filiation.
estate, the relationship of the declarant to the common relative may not be proved
by the declaration itself. There must be some independent proof of this fact. As an ISSUES:
exception, the requirement that there be other proof than the declarations of the 1. WoN petitioners failed to meet the quantum of proof required by Art. 172 of
declarant as to the relationship, does not apply where it is sought to reach the the Family Code to establish legitimacy and filiation NO.
estate of the declarant himself and not merely to establish a right through his 2. WoN the documents are inadmissible for being hearsay NO. Failure to
declarations to the property of some other member of the family. interpose any timely objection

RULING: Judgment of the CA is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Petitioners and

private respondent are declared co-owners of the subject property with an undivided
and share therein, respectively.
1. Petitioners Corazon and Rene are the niece and nephew, respectively, of the
deceased Teodora Guerrero who is the sister of petitioners father,
1. It is not debatable that the documentary evidence adduced by petitioners,
Hermogenes Dezoller. Teodora died on March 5, 1983 without issue and
taken separately and independently of each other, are not per se sufficient
was survived only by her husband, Martin Guerrero, and herein petitioners.
proof of legitimacy nor even of pedigree. It is important to note, however,
Petitioners father, Hermogenes, died on October 3, 1973, hence they seek
that the rulings of both lower courts in the case are basically premised on
to inherit from Teodora by right of representation.
the erroneous assumption that, in the first place, the issue of legitimacy may
2. Upon Teodoras death, her surviving spouse executed an Affidavit of
be validly controverted in an action for reconveyance, and, in the second
Extrajudicial Settlement adjudicating to himself, allegedly as sole heir, the
place, that herein petitioners have the onus probandi to prove their
land in dispute. On 2 January 1988, Martin sold the lot to private
legitimacy and, corollarily, their filiation. We disagree on both counts. It
respondent. Martin died on 25 October 1988. Subsequently, the petitioners
seems that both courts have regrettably overlooked the universally
filed an action for reconveyance on 2 November 1988 claiming that they are
recognized presumption on legitimacy. There is no presumption of the law
entitled to inherit of the property in question by right of representation.
more firmly established and founded on sounder morality and more
3. During the hearing, Corazon Tison was presented as the lone witness.
convincing reason than the presumption that children born in wedlock are
Several pieces of documentary evidence1 were presented to prove her
Dezoller; joint affidavits of Pablo Verzosa and Meliton Sitjar attesting to the parents, date and place of
1 A family picture; baptismal certificates of Teodora and Hermogenes Dezoller; certificates of destroyed birth of Corazon and Rene Dezoller; joint affidavit of Juliana Cariaga and Manuela Cariaga attesting to
records of birth of Teodora Dezoller and Hermogenes Dezoller; death certificates of Hermogenes Dezoller the fact of marriage between Martin Guerrero and Teodora Dezoller; and the marriage certificate of Martin
and Teodora Dezoller Guerrero; certification of destroyed records of live birth of Corazon and Rene and Teodora Guerrero
legitimate. And well settled is the rule that the issue of legitimacy cannot be alleged and such facts are thereby considered as duly proved.
attacked collaterally. 4. The primary proof to be considered in ascertaining the relationship between
2. The issue, therefore, as to whether petitioners are the legitimate children of the parties concerned is the testimony of Corazon Tison to the effect that
Hermogenes Dezoller cannot be properly controverted in the present action Teodora Dezoller Guerrero in her lifetime, or sometime in 1946,
for reconveyance. This is aside, of course, from the further consideration
categorically declared that the former is Teodoras niece. Such a statement is
that private respondent is not the proper party to impugn the legitimacy of
herein petitioners. The presumption consequently continues to operate in considered a declaration about pedigree which is admissible, as an
favor of petitioners unless and until it is rebutted. Ordinarily, when a fact is exception to the hearsay rule, under Section 39, Rule 130 of the Rules of
presumed, it implies that the party in whose favor the presumption exists Court, subject to the following conditions: (1) that the declarant is dead or
does not have to introduce evidence to establish that fact, and in any unable to testify; (2) that the declarant be related to the person whose
litigation where that fact is put in issue, the party denying it must bear the pedigree is the subject of inquiry; (3) that such relationship be shown by
burden of proof to overthrow the presumption. The presumption of evidence other than the declaration; and (4) that the declaration was made
legitimacy is so strong that it is clear that its effect is to shift the burden of
ante litem motam, that is, not only before the commencement of the suit
persuasion to the party claiming illegitimacy. And in order to destroy the
presumption, the party against whom it operates must adduce substantial involving the subject matter of the declaration, but before any controversy
and credible evidence to the contrary. has arisen thereon.
3. Even assuming that the issue is allowed to be resolved in this case, the 5. We are sufficiently convinced, and so hold, that the present case is one
burden of proof rests not on herein petitioners who have the benefit of the instance where the general requirement on evidence aliunde may be
presumption in their favor, but on private respondent who is disputing the relaxed. Petitioners are claiming a right to part of the estate of the declarant
same. Where there is an entire lack of competent evidence to the contrary, herself. Conformably, the declaration made by Teodora Dezoller Guerrero
and unless or until it is rebutted, it has been held that a presumption may that petitioner Corazon is her niece, is admissible and constitutes sufficient
stand in lieu of evidence and support a finding or decision. Perforce, a
proof of such relationship, notwithstanding the fact that there was no other
presumption must be followed if it is uncontroverted. This is based on the
theory that a presumption is prima facie proof of the fact presumed, and preliminary evidence thereof, the reason being that such declaration is
unless the fact thus established prima facie by the legal presumption of its rendered competent by virtue of the necessity of receiving such evidence to
truth is disproved, it must stand as proved. Indubitably, when private avoid a failure of justice.
respondent opted not to present countervailing evidence to overcome the 6. Martin Guerrero could only validly alienate his total undivided three-fourths
presumption, by merely filing a demurrer to evidence instead, she in effect (3/4) share in the entire property to herein private respondent. Resultantly,
impliedly admitted the truth of such fact. Indeed, she overlooked or petitioners and private respondent are deemed co-owners of the property in
disregarded the evidential rule that presumptions like judicial notice and the proportion of an undivided 1/4 and 3/4 share thereof, respectively.
admissions, relieve the proponent from presenting evidence on the facts he