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THIRD DIVISION

JOANIE SURPOSA UY, G.R. No. 183965


Petitioner,
Present:

YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.,
Chairperson,
CHICO-NAZARIO,
- versus - VELASCO, JR.,
NACHURA, and
PERALTA, JJ.

Promulgated:
JOSE NGO CHUA,
Respondent. September 18, 2009
x- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x

DECISION

CHICO-NAZARIO, J.:

This is a Petition for Review under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court assailing the Resolution dated 25
June 2008 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Cebu City, Branch 24, which granted the demurrer to
evidence of respondent Jose Ngo Chua, resulting in the dismissal of Special Proceeding No. 12562-CEB.

Petitioner Joanie Surposa Uy filed on 27 October 2003 before the RTC a Petition[1] for the issuance
of a decree of illegitimate filiation against respondent.The Complaint was docketed as Special Proceeding
No. 12562-CEB, assigned to RTC-Branch 24.

Petitioner alleged in her Complaint that respondent, who was then married, had an illicit
relationship with Irene Surposa (Irene). Respondent and Irene had two children, namely, petitioner and
her brother, Allan. Respondent attended to Irene when the latter was giving birth to petitioner on 27 April
1959, and instructed that petitioners birth certificate be filled out with the following names: ALFREDO F.
SURPOSA as father and IRENE DUCAY as mother. Actually, Alfredo F. Surposa was the name of Irenes
father, and Ducay was the maiden surname of Irenes mother. Respondent financially supported petitioner
and Allan.Respondent had consistently and regularly given petitioner allowances before she got
married. He also provided her with employment. When petitioner was still in high school, respondent
required her to work at the Cebu Liberty Lumber, a firm owned by his family. She was later on able to
work at the Gaisano- Borromeo Branch through respondents efforts. Petitioner and Allan were introduced
to each other and became known in the Chinese community as respondents illegitimate children. During
petitioners wedding, respondent sent his brother Catalino Chua (Catalino) as his representative, and it
was the latter who acted as father of the bride. Respondents relatives even attended the baptism of
petitioners daughter.[2]

In his Answer[3] to the Complaint, filed on 9 December 2003, respondent denied that he had an
illicit relationship with Irene, and that petitioner was his daughter.[4] Hearings then ensued during which
petitioner testified that respondent was the only father she knew; that he took care of all her needs until
she finished her college education; and that he came to visit her on special family occasions. She also
presented documentary evidence to prove her claim of illegitimate filiation. Subsequently, on 27 March
2008, respondent filed a Demurrer to Evidence[5] on the ground that the Decision dated 21 February
2000 of RTC-Branch 9 in Special Proceeding No. 8830-CEB had already been barred by res
judicata in Special Proceeding No. 12562-CEB before RTC-Branch 24.

It turned out that prior to instituting Special Proceeding No. 12562-CEB on 27 October 2003,
petitioner had already filed a similar Petition for the issuance of a decree of illegitimate affiliation against
respondent. It was docketed as Special Proceeding No. 8830-CEB, assigned to RTC-Branch 9. Petitioner
and respondent eventually entered into a Compromise Agreement in Special Proceeding No. 8830-CEB,
which was approved by RTC-Branch 9 in a Decision[6]dated 21 February 2000. The full contents of said
Decision reads:

Under consideration is a Compromise Agreement filed by the parties on February


18, 2000, praying that judgment be rendered in accordance therewith, the terms and
conditions of which follows:

1. Petitioner JOANIE SURPOSA UY declares, admits and


acknowledges that there is no blood relationship or filiation between
petitioner and her brother Allan on one hand and [herein respondent]
JOSE NGO CHUA on the other. This declaration, admission or
acknowledgement is concurred with petitioners brother Allan, who
although not a party to the case, hereby affixes his signature to this
pleading and also abides by the declaration herein.

2. As a gesture of goodwill and by way of settling petitioner and


her brothers (Allan) civil, monetary and similar claims but without
admitting any liability, [respondent] JOSE NGO CHUA hereby binds
himself to pay the petitioner the sum of TWO MILLION PESOS
(P2,000,000.00) and another TWO MILLION PESOS (P2,000,000.00) to her
brother, ALLAN SURPOSA. Petitioner and her brother hereby
acknowledge to have received in full the said compromise amount.

3. Petitioner and her brother (Allan) hereby declare that they


have absolutely no more claims, causes of action or demands against
[respondent] JOSE NGO CHUA, his heirs, successors and assigns and/or
against the estate of Catalino Chua, his heirs, successors and assigns
and/or against all corporations, companies or business enterprises
including Cebu Liberty Lumber and Joe Lino Realty Investment and
Development Corporation where defendant JOSE NGO CHUA or
CATALINO NGO CHUA may have interest or participation.

4. [Respondent] JOSE NGO CHUA hereby waives all counterclaim


or counter-demand with respect to the subject matter of the present
petition.

5. Pursuant to the foregoing, petitioner hereby asks for a


judgment for the permanent dismissal with prejudice of the captioned
petition. [Respondent] also asks for a judgment permanently dismissing
with prejudice his counterclaim.

Finding the said compromise agreement to be in order, the Court hereby


approves the same. Judgment is rendered in accordance with the provisions of the
compromise agreement. The parties are enjoined to comply with their respective
undertakings embodied in the agreement.[7]

With no appeal having been filed therefrom, the 21 February 2000 Decision of RTC-Branch 9 in
Special Proceeding 8830-CEB was declared final and executory.

Petitioner filed on 15 April 2008 her Opposition[8] to respondents Demurrer to Evidence in Special
Proceeding No. 12562-CEB. Thereafter, RTC-Branch 24 issued its now assailed Resolution dated 25 June
2008 in Special Proceeding No. 12562-CEB, granting respondents Demurrer.

RTC-Branch 24 summarized the arguments of respondent and petitioner in the Demurrer and
Opposition, respectively, as follows:
This is to resolve the issues put across in the Demurrer to the Evidence submitted
to this Court; the Opposition thereto; the Comment on the Opposition and the Rejoinder
to the Comment.

xxxx
1. The instant case is barred by the principle of res judicata because there was a judgment
entered based on the Compromise Agreement approved by this multiple-sala
Court, branch 09, on the same issues and between the same parties.

2. That such decision of Branch 09, having attained finality, is beyond review, reversal or
alteration by another Regional Trial Court and not even the Supreme Court, no
matter how erroneous.

3. Judicial Admissions or admission in petitioners pleadings to the effect that there is no


blood relationship between petitioner and respondent, which is a declaration
against interest, are conclusive on her and she should not be permitted to falsify.

4. That the Certificate of Live Birth showing that petitioners father is Alfredo Surposa is a
public document which is the evidence of the facts therein stated, unless
corrected by judicial order.

5. After receiving the benefits and concessions pursuant to their compromise agreement,
she is estopped from refuting on the effects thereof to the prejudice of the
[herein respondent].

The summary of the Opposition is in this wise:

1. That the illegitimate filiation of petitioner to respondent is established by the open,


and continuous possession of the status of an illegitimate child.

2. The Demurrer to the evidence cannot set up the affirmative grounds for a Motion to
Dismiss.

3. The question on the civil status, future support and future legitime can not be subject
to compromise.

4. The decision in the first case does not bar the filing of another action asking for the
same relief against the same defendant.[9]

Taking into consideration the aforementioned positions of the parties, RTC-Branch 24 held that:

Looking at the issues from the viewpoint of a judge, this Court believes that its hands are
tied. Unless the Court of Appeals strikes down the Compromise Judgment rendered by
Branch 09 of the Regional Trial Court of Cebu City, this Court will not attempt to vacate,
much more annul, that Judgment issued by a co-equal court, which had long become final
and executory, and in fact executed.

This court upholds the Policy of Judicial Stability since to do otherwise would result in
patent abuse of judicial discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction. The defense of lack
of jurisdiction cannot be waived. At any rate, such is brought forth in the Affirmative
Defenses of the Answer.
This Court, saddled with many cases, suffers the brunt of allowing herein case involving
same parties to re-litigate on the same issues already closed.[10]

In the end, RTC-Branch 24 decreed:

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Demurrer to the Evidence is hereby given due
course, as the herein case is hereby ordered DISMISSED.[11]

RTC-Branch 24 denied petitioners Motion for Reconsideration[12] in a Resolution[13] dated 29 July


2008.

Petitioner then filed the instant Petition raising the following issues for resolution of this Court:

Whether or not the principle of res judicata is applicable to judgments predicated


upon a compromise agreement on cases enumerated in Article 2035 of the Civil Code of
the Philippines;

II

Whether or not the compromise agreement entered into by the parties herein before the
Regional Trial Court, Branch 09 of Cebu City effectively bars the filing of the present
case.[14]

At the outset, the Court notes that from the RTC Resolution granting respondents Demurrer to
Evidence, petitioner went directly to this Court for relief.This is only proper, given that petitioner is raising
pure questions of law in her instant Petition.

Section 1, Rule 45 of the Rules of Court provides:

SECTION 1. Filing of petition with Supreme Court. A party desiring to appeal


by certiorari from a judgment or final order or resolution of the Court of Appeals, the
Sandiganbayan, the Regional Trial Court or other courts whenever authorized by law, may
file with the Supreme Court a verified petition for review on certiorari. The petition shall
raise only questions of law which must be distinctly set forth.

Clearly, a party may directly appeal to this Court from a decision or final order or resolution of the
trial court on pure questions of law. A question of law lies, on one hand, when the doubt or difference
arises as to what the law is on a certain set of facts; a question of fact exists, on the other hand, when the
doubt or difference arises as to the truth or falsehood of the alleged facts. Here, the facts are not disputed;
the controversy merely relates to the correct application of the law or jurisprudence to the undisputed
facts.[15]

The central issue in this case is whether the Compromise Agreement entered into between
petitioner and respondent, duly approved by RTC-Branch 9 in its Decision dated 21 February 2000 in
Special Proceeding No. 8830-CEB, constitutes res judicata in Special Proceeding No. 12562-CEB still
pending before RTC-Branch 24.

The doctrine of res judicata is a rule that pervades every well- regulated system of jurisprudence
and is founded upon two grounds embodied in various maxims of the common law, namely: (1) public
policy and necessity, which makes it in the interest of the State that there should be an end to
litigation, interest reipublicae ut sit finis litium, and (2) the hardship of the individual that he should be
vexed twice for the same cause, nemo debet bis vexari pro eadem causa.[16]

For res judicata, to serve as an absolute bar to a subsequent action, the following requisites must
concur: (1) there must be a final judgment or order; (2) the court rendering it must have jurisdiction over
the subject matter and the parties; (3) it must be a judgment or order on the merits; and (4) there must
be, between the two cases, identity of parties, subject matter, and causes of action.[17]

It is undeniable that Special Proceeding No. 8830-CEB, previously before RTC-Branch 9, and
Special Proceeding No. 12562-CEB, presently before RTC-Branch 24, were both actions for the issuance of
a decree of illegitimate filiation filed by petitioner against respondent. Hence, there is apparent identity
of parties, subject matter, and causes of action between the two cases. However, the question arises as
to whether the other elements of res judicata exist in this case.

The court rules in the negative.

A compromise is a contract whereby the parties, by making reciprocal concessions, avoid a


litigation or put an end to one already commenced.[18] InEstate of the late Jesus S. Yujuico v.
Republic,[19] the Court pronounced that a judicial compromise has the effect of res judicata. A judgment
based on a compromise agreement is a judgment on the merits.

It must be emphasized, though, that like any other contract, a compromise agreement must
comply with the requisites in Article 1318 of the Civil Code, to wit: (a) consent of the contracting parties;
(b) object certain that is the subject matter of the contract; and (c) cause of the obligation that is
established. And, like any other contract, the terms and conditions of a compromise agreement must not
be contrary to law, morals, good customs, public policy and public order. Any compromise agreement that
is contrary to law or public policy is null and void, and vests no rights in and holds no obligation for any
party. It produces no legal effect at all.[20]

In connection with the foregoing, the Court calls attention to Article 2035 of the Civil Code, which
states:

ART. 2035. No compromise upon the following questions shall be valid:

(1) The civil status of persons;

(2) The validity of a marriage or a legal separation;

(3) Any ground for legal separation;

(4) Future support;

(5) The jurisdiction of courts;

(6) Future legitime. (Emphases ours.)

The Compromise Agreement between petitioner and respondent, executed on 18 February 2000
and approved by RTC-Branch 9 in its Decision dated 21 February 2000 in Special Proceeding No. 8830-CEB,
obviously intended to settle the question of petitioners status and filiation, i.e., whether she is an
illegitimate child of respondent. In exchange for petitioner and her brother Allan acknowledging that they
are not the children of respondent, respondent would pay petitioner and Allan P2,000,000.00
each. Although unmentioned, it was a necessary consequence of said Compromise Agreement that
petitioner also waived away her rights to future support and future legitime as an illegitimate child of
respondent. Evidently, the Compromise Agreement dated 18 February 2000between petitioner and
respondent is covered by the prohibition under Article 2035 of the Civil Code.
Advincula v. Advincula[21] has a factual background closely similar to the one at bar. Manuela
Advincula (Manuela) filed, before the Court of First Instance (CFI) of Iloilo, Civil Case No. 3553 for
acknowledgment and support, against Manuel Advincula (Manuel). On motion of both parties, said case
was dismissed. Not very long after, Manuela again instituted, before the same court, Civil Case No. 5659
for acknowledgment and support, against Manuel. This Court declared that although Civil Case No. 3553
ended in a compromise, it did not bar the subsequent filing by Manuela of Civil Case No. 5659, asking for
the same relief from Manuel. Civil Case No. 3553 was an action for acknowledgement, affecting a persons
civil status, which cannot be the subject of compromise.

It is settled, then, in law and jurisprudence, that the status and filiation of a child cannot be
compromised. Public policy demands that there be no compromise on the status and filiation of a
child.[22] Paternity and filiation or the lack of the same, is a relationship that must be judicially established,
and it is for the Court to declare its existence or absence. It cannot be left to the will or agreement of the
parties.[23]

Being contrary to law and public policy, the Compromise Agreement dated 18 February
2000 between petitioner and respondent is void ab initio and vests no rights and creates no obligations.
It produces no legal effect at all. The void agreement cannot be rendered operative even by the parties'
alleged performance (partial or full) of their respective prestations.[24]

Neither can it be said that RTC-Branch 9, by approving the Compromise Agreement, in its Decision
dated 21 February 2000 in Special Proceeding No. 8830-CEB, already made said contract valid and
legal. Obviously, it would already be beyond the jurisdiction of RTC-Branch 9 to legalize what is illegal. RTC-
Branch 9 had no authority to approve and give effect to a Compromise Agreement that was contrary to
law and public policy, even if said contract was executed and submitted for approval by both parties. RTC-
Branch 9 would not be competent, under any circumstances, to grant the approval of the said
Compromise Agreement. No court can allow itself to be used as a tool to circumvent the explicit
prohibition under Article 2035 of the Civil Code. The following quote inFrancisco v. Zandueta[25] is relevant
herein:

It is a universal rule of law that parties cannot, by consent, give a court, as such,
jurisdiction in a matter which is excluded by the laws of the land. In such a case the
question is not whether a competent court has obtained jurisdiction of a party triable
before it, but whether the court itself is competent under any circumstances to adjudicate
a claim against the defendant. And where there is want of jurisdiction of the subject-
matter, a judgment is void as to all persons, and consent of parties can never impart to it
the vitality which a valid judgment derives from the sovereign state, the court being
constituted, by express provision of law, as its agent to pronounce its decrees in
controversies between its people. (7 R. C. L., 1039.)

A judgment void for want of jurisdiction is no judgment at all. It cannot be the source of any right
or the creator of any obligation. All acts performed pursuant to it and all claims emanating from it have
no legal effect. Hence, it can never become final, and any writ of execution based on it is void. It may be
said to be a lawless thing that can be treated as an outlaw and slain on sight, or ignored wherever and
whenever it exhibits its head.[26]

In sum, Special Proceeding No. 12562-CEB before RTC-Branch 24 is not barred by res
judicata, since RTC-Branch 9 had no jurisdiction to approve, in its Decision dated 21 February 2000 in
Special Proceeding No. 8830-CEB, petitioner and respondents Compromise Agreement, which was
contrary to law and public policy; and, consequently, the Decision dated 21 February 2000 in Special
Proceeding No. 8830-CEB, being null and void for having been rendered by RTC-Branch 9 without
jurisdiction, could not have attained finality or been considered a judgment on the merits.

Nevertheless, the Court must clarify that even though the Compromise Agreement between
petitioner and respondent is void for being contrary to law and public policy, the admission petitioner
made therein may still be appreciated against her in Special Proceeding No. 12562-CEB. RTC-Branch 24 is
only reminded that while petitioners admission may have evidentiary value, it does not, by itself,
conclusively establish the lack of filiation.[27]

Proceeding from its foregoing findings, the Court is remanding this case to the RTC-Branch 24 for
the continuation of hearing on Special Proceedings No. 12562-CEB, more particularly, for respondents
presentation of evidence.

Although respondents pleading was captioned a Demurrer to Evidence, it was more appropriately
a Motion to Dismiss on the ground of res judicata.

Demurrer to Evidence is governed by Rule 33 of the Rules of Court, Section 1 of which is


reproduced in full below:
SECTION 1. Demurrer to evidence. After the plaintiff has completed the
presentation of his evidence, the defendant may move for dismissal on the ground that
upon the facts and the law the plaintiff has shown no right to relief. If his motion is denied,
he shall have the right to present evidence. If the motion is granted but on appeal the
order of dismissal is reversed he shall be deemed to have waived the right to present
evidence.
Demurrer to evidence authorizes a judgment on the merits of the case without the defendant
having to submit evidence on his part, as he would ordinarily have to do, if plaintiff's evidence shows that
he is not entitled to the relief sought. Demurrer, therefore, is an aid or instrument for the expeditious
termination of an action, similar to a motion to dismiss, which the court or tribunal may either grant or
deny.[28]

The Court has recently established some guidelines on when a demurrer to evidence should be
granted, thus:

A demurrer to evidence may be issued when, upon the facts and the law, the
plaintiff has shown no right to relief. Where the plaintiff's evidence together with such
inferences and conclusions as may reasonably be drawn therefrom does not warrant
recovery against the defendant, a demurrer to evidence should be sustained. A demurrer
to evidence is likewise sustainable when, admitting every proven fact favorable to the
plaintiff and indulging in his favor all conclusions fairly and reasonably inferable
therefrom, the plaintiff has failed to make out one or more of the material elements of
his case, or when there is no evidence to support an allegation necessary to his claim. It
should be sustained where the plaintiff's evidence is prima facie insufficient for a
recovery.[29]

The essential question to be resolved in a demurrer to evidence is whether petitioner has been
able to show that she is entitled to her claim, and it is incumbent upon RTC-Branch 24 to make such a
determination. A perusal of the Resolution dated 25 June 2008 of RTC-Branch 24 in Special Proceeding
No. 12562-CEB shows that it is barren of any discussion on this matter. It did not take into consideration
any of the evidence presented by petitioner. RTC-Branch 24 dismissed Special Proceedings No. 12562-CEB
on the sole basis of res judicata, given the Decision dated 21 February 2000 of RTC-Branch 9 in Special
Proceeding No. 8830-CEB, approving the Compromise Agreement between petitioner and
respondent. Hence, the Resolution dated 25 June 2008 of RTC-Branch 24 should be deemed as having
dismissed Special Proceeding No. 12562-CEB on the ground of res judicata rather than an adjudication on
the merits of respondents demurrer to evidence. Necessarily, the last line of Section 1, Rule 33 of the
Rules of Court should not apply herein and respondent should still be allowed to present evidence before
RTC-Branch 24 in Special Proceedings No. 12562-CEB.
It must be kept in mind that substantial justice must prevail. When there is a strong showing that
grave miscarriage of justice would result from the strict application of the Rules, this Court will not hesitate
to relax the same in the interest of substantial justice. The Rules of Court were conceived and promulgated
to set forth guidelines in the dispensation of justice but not to bind and chain the hand that dispenses it,
for otherwise, courts will be mere slaves to or robots of technical rules, shorn of judicial discretion. That
is precisely why courts in rendering real justice have always been, as they in fact ought to be,
conscientiously guided by the norm that when on the balance, technicalities take backseat against
substantive rights, and not the other way around.[30]

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Resolution dated 25 June 2008 of


the Regional Trial Court of Cebu City, Branch 24, in Special Proceeding No. 12562-CEB is REVERSED and SET
ASIDE. This case is ordered REMANDED to the said trial court for further proceedings in accordance with
the ruling of the Court herein. No costs.

SO ORDERED.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
G.R. No. L-1261 August 2, 1949
CATALINA OSMEÑA DE VALENCIA, ET AL., plaintiffs-appellants,
vs.
EMILIA RODRIGUEZ, ET AL., defendants-appellees.
Sato and Repollo for appellants.
Filemon Sotto for appellees.
PARAS, J.:
In an action instituted in the Court of First Instance of Cebu, the plaintiffs prayed for an injunction
restraining the defendants, from using the surname "Valencia." The defendants filed a motion to
dismiss, and this sustained by the lower court. Hence this appeal by the plaintiffs.
The plaintiffs allege, on the hand, that they (except Catalina Osmeña) are the legitimate children of the
defendant Pio E. Valencia in the latter's lawful wedlock with plaintiff Catalina Osmeña; and, upon the
other hand, that the defendants, (except Emilia Rodriguez and Pio E. Valencia) are the illegitimate
children of Pio E. Valencia with his common-law-wife, defendant Emilia Rodriguez. It is accordingly
contended by the plaintiffs that they alone have the right to bear the surname "Valencia," in accordance
with article 114 of the Civil Code which provides that legitimate children have the right to bear the
surname of the father. To complete their argument, the plaintiffs point out that, under articles 139 and
845 of the Civil Code, illegitimate children (who are not natural) are entitled only to support.
We concede that the plaintiffs may use the surname of their farther as a matter of right by reason of the
mere fact that they are legitimate children; but we cannot agree to the view that article 114 of the Civil
Code, without more, grants monopolistic proprietary control to legitimate children over the surname of
their father. In other words, said article has marked a right of which legitimate children may not be
deprived, but it cannot be interpreted as a prohibition against the use by others of what may happen to
be the surname of their father. If plaintiff's theory were correct, they can stop countless inhabitants
from bearing the surname "Valencia."
The defendants' case becomes the stronger when it is remembered that, from all appearances, Pio E.
Valencia (the father) acquiesces in the adoption of his surname by the defendants. But even if he
objects, the defendants can still use the surname "Valencia," in the absence of any law granting
exclusive ownership over a surname.
The appealed order is affirmed, and it is so ordered with costs against the plaintiffs and appellants.
Moran, C.J., Perfecto, Bengzon, Padilla, Tuason, Montemayor and Reyes, JJ., concur.
Feria, J., concurs in the result.

Separate Opinions
OZAETA,. J., concurring and dissenting:
I concur in the affirmance of the order appealed from on the following ground: It appears from
paragraph 5 of the complaint that the defendant Pio E. Valencia has allowed his illegitimate children by
his codefendant Emilia Rodriguez to bear his surname even after they had reached the age of reason.
From this allegation it may be inferred that since their birth these illegitimate children have been given
and have borne the surname of their father with the latter's consent. The plaintiffs predicate their case
upon Articles 114, 139, and 845 of the Civil Code and Rule 103 of the Rules of Court. Article 114 says
that legitimate children shall have the right to bear the surnames of their father and mother; and
articles 139 and 845 say that illegitimate children who have not the status of natural children shall be
entitled only to support. Rule 103 of the Rules of Court prescribes the procedure for change of name.
Upon the facts alleged in the complaint, these statutory provisions are not sufficient, in my opinion, to
entitle the plaintiffs to the relief sought by their complaint. The mere fact that legitimate children have
the right to bear the surnames of their parents and illegitimate children are entitled only to support,
does not necessarily imply that the father may not voluntarily permit his illegitimate children to bear his
surname. Rule 103 is not applicable because it is not alleged in the complaint that the twelve defendants
who are alleged to be illegitimate children of their codefendant Pio E. Valencia have illegally changed
their surname from some other to that of Valencia. On the contrary we infer from the complaint that
since their birth they have always borne that surname with the knowledge and consent of their putative
father.
I dissent from so much of the majority opinion a may convey the idea (1) that a person who claims to be
the illegitimate child of another may use or adopt the surname of the latter even against his will and
without his consent, and without authorization from the court; and (2) that any person is free to use any
surname he may have a fancy for without the authorization of the court even though he may not have
originally borne that surname. Concerning the first idea, I am of the opinion that a person cannot
adjudicate to himself a status which adversely affects another without the latter's consent or without
the intervention of the court. And as to the second idea, it is clear from Rule 103 that a person cannot
adopt a new name, or use one other than that he has originally borne, without complying with the
requisites provided for in said rule.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
SECOND DIVISION
G.R. No. 165166 August 15, 2012
CHARLES GOTARDO, Petitioner,
vs.
DIVINA BULING, Respondent.
VILLARAMA, JR.,*
DECISION
BRION, J.:
We resolve the petition for review on certiorari, 1 filed by petitioner Charles Gotardo, to challenge the
March 5, 2004 decision2 and the July 27, 2004 resolution3 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA GR CV No.
76326. The CA decision ordered the petitioner to recognize and provide legal support to his minor son,
Gliffze 0. Buling. The CA resolution denied the petitioner's subsequent motion for reconsideration.
FACTUAL BACKGROUND
On September 6, 1995, respondent Divina Buling filed a complaint with the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of
Maasin, Southern Leyte, Branch 25, for compulsory recognition and support pendente lite, claiming that
the petitioner is the father of her child Gliffze.4
In his answer, the petitioner denied the imputed paternity of Gliffze.5 For the parties’ failure to amicably
settle the dispute, the RTC terminated the pre-trial proceedings.6 Trial on the merits ensued.
The respondent testified for herself and presented Rodulfo Lopez as witness. Evidence for the
respondent showed that she met the petitioner on December 1, 1992 at the Philippine Commercial and
Industrial Bank, Maasin, Southern Leyte branch where she had been hired as a casual employee, while
the petitioner worked as accounting supervisor.7 The petitioner started courting the respondent in the
third week of December 1992 and they became sweethearts in the last week of January 1993.8 The
petitioner gave the respondent greeting cards on special occasions, such as on Valentine’s Day and her
birthday; she reciprocated his love and took care of him when he was ill.9
Sometime in September 1993, the petitioner started intimate sexual relations with the respondent in
the former’s rented room in the boarding house managed by Rodulfo, the respondent’s uncle, on Tomas
Oppus St., Agbao, Maasin, Southern Leyte.10 The petitioner rented the room from March 1, 1993 to
August 30, 1994.11 The sexual encounters occurred twice a month and became more frequent in June
1994; eventually, on August 8, 1994, the respondent found out that she was pregnant.12 When told of
the pregnancy, the petitioner was happy and made plans to marry the respondent.13 They in fact applied
for a marriage license.14 The petitioner even inquired about the costs of a wedding reception and the
bridal gown.15 Subsequently, however, the petitioner backed out of the wedding plans.16
The respondent responded by filing a complaint with the Municipal Trial Court of Maasin, Southern
Leyte for damages against the petitioner for breach of promise to marry.17 Later, however, the
petitioner and the respondent amicably settled the case.18
The respondent gave birth to their son Gliffze on March 9, 1995.19 When the petitioner did not show up
and failed to provide support to Gliffze, the respondent sent him a letter on July 24, 1995 demanding
recognition of and support for their child.20 When the petitioner did not answer the demand, the
respondent filed her complaint for compulsory recognition and support pendente lite.21
The petitioner took the witness stand and testified for himself. He denied the imputed
paternity,22 claiming that he first had sexual contact with the respondent in the first week of August
1994 and she could not have been pregnant for twelve (12) weeks (or three (3) months) when he was
informed of the pregnancy on September 15, 1994.23
During the pendency of the case, the RTC, on the respondent’s motion,24 granted a P2,000.00 monthly
child support, retroactive from March 1995.25
THE RTC RULING
In its June 25, 2002 decision, the RTC dismissed the complaint for insufficiency of evidence proving
Gliffze’s filiation. It found the respondent’s testimony inconsistent on the question of when she had her
first sexual contact with the petitioner, i.e., "September 1993" in her direct testimony while "last week
of January 1993" during her cross-testimony, and her reason for engaging in sexual contact even after
she had refused the petitioner’s initial marriage proposal. It ordered the respondent to return the
amount of support pendente lite erroneously awarded, and to pay P 10,000.00 as attorney’s fees.26
The respondent appealed the RTC ruling to the CA.27
THE CA RULING
In its March 5, 2004 decision, the CA departed from the RTC's appreciation of the respondent’s
testimony, concluding that the latter merely made an honest mistake in her understanding of the
questions of the petitioner’s counsel. It noted that the petitioner and the respondent had sexual
relationship even before August 1994; that the respondent had only one boyfriend, the petitioner, from
January 1993 to August 1994; and that the petitioner’s allegation that the respondent had previous
relationships with other men remained unsubstantiated. The CA consequently set aside the RTC decision
and ordered the petitioner to recognize his minor son Gliffze. It also reinstated the RTC order granting
a P 2,000.00 monthly child support.28
When the CA denied29 the petitioner’s motion for reconsideration,30 the petitioner filed the present
petition for review on certiorari.
THE PETITION
The petitioner argues that the CA committed a reversible error in rejecting the RTC’s appreciation of the
respondent’s testimony, and that the evidence on record is insufficient to prove paternity.
THE CASE FOR THE RESPONDENT
The respondent submits that the CA correctly explained that the inconsistency in the respondent’s
testimony was due to an incorrect appreciation of the questions asked, and that the record is replete
with evidence proving that the petitioner was her lover and that they had several intimate sexual
encounters during their relationship, resulting in her pregnancy and Gliffze’s birth on March 9, 1995.
THE ISSUE
The sole issue before us is whether the CA committed a reversible error when it set aside the RTC’s
findings and ordered the petitioner to recognize and provide legal support to his minor son Gliffze.
OUR RULING
We do not find any reversible error in the CA’s ruling.
We have recognized that "[f]iliation proceedings are usually filed not just to adjudicate paternity but
also to secure a legal right associated with paternity, such as citizenship, support (as in this case) or
inheritance. [In paternity cases, the burden of proof] is on the person who alleges that the putative
father is the biological father of the child."31
One can prove filiation, either legitimate or illegitimate, through the record of birth appearing in the civil
register or a final judgment, an admission of filiation in a public document or a private handwritten
instrument and signed by the parent concerned, or the open and continuous possession of the status of
a legitimate or illegitimate child, or any other means allowed by the Rules of Court and special
laws.32 We have held that such other proof of one's filiation may be a "baptismal certificate, a judicial
admission, a family bible in which his name has been entered, common reputation respecting [his]
pedigree, admission by silence, the [testimonies] of witnesses, and other kinds of proof admissible
under Rule 130 of the Rules of Court."33
In Herrera v. Alba,34 we stressed that there are four significant procedural aspects of a traditional
paternity action that parties have to face: a prima facie case, affirmative defenses, presumption of
legitimacy, and physical resemblance between the putative father and the child.35 We explained that
a prima facie case exists if a woman declares — supported by corroborative proof — that she had sexual
relations with the putative father; at this point, the burden of evidence shifts to the putative
father.36 We explained further that the two affirmative defenses available to the putative father are: (1)
incapability of sexual relations with the mother due to either physical absence or impotency, or (2) that
the mother had sexual relations with other men at the time of conception.37
In this case, the respondent established a prima facie case that the petitioner is the putative father of
Gliffze through testimony that she had been sexually involved only with one man, the petitioner, at the
time of her conception.38 Rodulfo corroborated her testimony that the petitioner and the respondent
had intimate relationship.39
On the other hand, the petitioner did not deny that he had sexual encounters with the respondent, only
that it occurred on a much later date than the respondent asserted, such that it was physically
impossible for the respondent to have been three (3) months pregnant already in September 1994 when
he was informed of the pregnancy.40 However, the petitioner failed to substantiate his allegations of
infidelity and insinuations of promiscuity. His allegations, therefore, cannot be given credence for lack of
evidentiary support. The petitioner’s denial cannot overcome the respondent’s clear and categorical
assertions.
The petitioner, as the RTC did, made much of the variance between the respondent’s direct testimony
regarding their first sexual contact as "sometime in September 1993" and her cross-testimony when she
stated that their first sexual contact was "last week of January 1993," as follows:
ATTY. GO CINCO:
When did the defendant, according to you, start courting you?
A Third week of December 1992.
Q And you accepted him?
A Last week of January 1993.
Q And by October you already had your sexual intercourse?
A Last week of January 1993.
COURT: What do you mean by accepting?
A I accepted his offer of love.41
We find that the contradictions are for the most part more apparent than real, having resulted from the
failure of the respondent to comprehend the question posed, but this misunderstanding was later
corrected and satisfactorily explained. Indeed, when confronted for her contradictory statements, the
respondent explained that that portion of the transcript of stenographic notes was incorrect and she
had brought it to the attention of Atty. Josefino Go Cinco (her former counsel) but the latter took no
action on the matter.42
Jurisprudence teaches that in assessing the credibility of a witness, his testimony must be considered in
its entirety instead of in truncated parts. The technique in deciphering a testimony is not to consider
only its isolated parts and to anchor a conclusion based on these parts. "In ascertaining the facts
established by a witness, everything stated by him on direct, cross and redirect examinations must be
calibrated and considered."43Evidently, the totality of the respondent's testimony positively and
convincingly shows that no real inconsistency exists. The respondent has consistently asserted that she
started intimate sexual relations with the petitioner sometime in September 1993.44
Since filiation is beyond question, support follows as a matter of obligation; a parent is obliged to
support his child, whether legitimate or illegitimate.45 Support consists of everything indispensable for
sustenance, dwelling, clothing, medical attendance, education and transportation, in keeping with the
financial capacity of the family.46Thus, the amount of support is variable and, for this reason, no final
judgment on the amount of support is made as the amount shall be in proportion to the resources or
means of the giver and the necessities of the recipient.47It may be reduced or increased proportionately
according to the reduction or increase of the necessities of the recipient and the resources or means of
the person obliged to support.48
In this case, we sustain the award of P 2,000.00 monthly child support, without prejudice to the filing of
the proper motion in the RTC for the determination of any support in arrears, considering the needs of
the child, Gliffze, during the pendency of this case.
WHEREFORE, we hereby DENY the petition for lack of merit. The March 5, 2004 decision and the July 27,
2004 resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA GR CV No. 76326 are hereby AFFIRMED. Costs against the
petitioner.
SO ORDERED.

Footnotes
*
Designated as Acting Member of the Second Division in lieu of Associate Justice Maria Lourdes
P. A. Sereno per Special Order No. 1274 dated .July 30, 2012.
1
Filed under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court; ro//o, pp. I 0-26.
2
Penned by Associate Justice .Jose I,, Sabio, Jr., and concurred in by Associate Justices Delilah
Vidallon-Magtolis and I lakim S. Ahdulwahid; id. at 29-45.
3
Id. at 46-4 7.
4
Original records, pp. 1-8.
5
Id. at 22-25.
6
Id. at 54.
7
TSN, February 16, 1996, p. 5; TSN, May 15, 1996, p. 6.
8
TSN, February 16, 1996, p. 6; TSN, May 15, 1996, p. 6.
9
TSN, February 16, 1996, pp. 7-10; Exhibits "B" and "C," Folder of Exhibits, p. 2.
10
TSN, February 16, 1996, p. 10; TSN, May 15, 1996, p. 3; TSN, July 18, 1996, pp. 5-8.
11
TSN, May 15, 1996, p. 3; TSN, July 18, 1996, p. 4.
12
TSN, February 16, 1996, p. 11; TSN, May 15, 1996, pp. 4-5.
13
TSN, February 16, 1996, pp. 11-12.
14
Id. at 12-15; Exhibit "E," Folder of Exhibits, p. 4.
15
TSN, February 16, 1996, p. 16.
16
Id. at 17.
17
Id. at 24; Exhibit "3," Folder of Exhibits, pp. 61-64.
18
TSN, February 16, 1996, p. 24; Exhibit "I," Folder of Exhibits, pp. 9-10.
19
TSN, February 16, 1996, p. 20; Exhibit "A," Folder of Exhibits, p. 1.
20
TSN, February 16, 1996, p. 20; Exhibit "F," Folder of Exhibits, p. 5.
21
TSN, February 16, 1996, p. 25.
22
TSN, September 5, 2000, pp. 3-4.
23
TSN, September 5, 2000, pp. 7, 10, 11.
24
Original records, pp. 58-59.
25
August 1, 1996 order; id. at 60.
26
Id. at 143-158.
27
Id. at 159.
28
Supra note 2.
29
Supra note 3.
30
CA rollo, pp. 144-152.
31
Estate of Rogelio G. Ong v. Diaz, G.R. No. 171713, December 17, 2007, 540 SCRA 480, 490. See
alsoHerrera v. Alba, 499 Phil. 185, 191 (2005).
32
FAMILY CODE OF THE PHILIPINES, Articles 172 and 175.
33
Cruz v. Cristobal, 529 Phil. 695, 710-711 (2006). See also Heirs of Ignacio Conti v. Court of
Appeals,360 Phil. 536, 549 (1998); and Trinidad v. CA, 352 Phil. 12, 32-33 (1998).
34
Supra note 31.
35
Id. at 192.
36
Ibid.
37
Ibid.
38
TSN, May 15, 1996, pp. 15-16.
39
TSN, July 18, 1996, p. 8.
40
TSN, September 5, 2000, pp. 7, 10, 11.
41
TSN, May 15, 1996, p. 6.
42
TSN, May 30, 2000, pp. 4-5.
43
Northwest Airlines, Inc. v. Chiong, G.R. No. 155550, January 31, 2008, 543 SCRA 308, 324;
and Leyson v. Lawa, 535 Phil. 153, 167 (2006).
44
TSN, February 16, 1996, p. 10; TSN, May 15, 1996, p. 3.
45
FAMILY CODE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Article 195.
46
Id., Article 194.
47
Id., Article 201.
48
Id., Article 202.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
G.R. No. 206248 February 18, 2014
GRACE M. GRANDE, Petitioner,
vs.
PATRICIO T. ANTONIO, Respondent.
DECISION
VELASCO, JR., J.:
Before this Court is a Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45, assailing the July 24, 2012
Decision1 and March 5, 2013 Resolution2 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CV No. 96406.
As culled from the records, the facts of this case are:
Petitioner Grace Grande (Grande) and respondent Patricio Antonio (Antonio) for a period of time lived
together as husband and wife, although Antonio was at that time already married to someone else.3 Out
of this illicit relationship, two sons were born: Andre Lewis (on February 8, 1998) and Jerard Patrick (on
October 13, 1999).4The children were not expressly recognized by respondent as his own in the Record
of Births of the children in the Civil Registry. The parties’ relationship, however, eventually turned sour,
and Grande left for the United States with her two children in May 2007. This prompted respondent
Antonio to file a Petition for Judicial Approval of Recognition with Prayer to take Parental Authority,
Parental Physical Custody, Correction/Change of Surname of Minors and for the Issuance of Writ of
Preliminary Injunction before the Regional Trial Court, Branch 8 of Aparri, Cagayan (RTC), appending a
notarized Deed of Voluntary Recognition of Paternity of the children.5
On September 28, 2010, the RTC rendered a Decision in favor of herein respondent Antonio, ruling that
"[t]he evidence at hand is overwhelming that the best interest of the children can be promoted if they
are under the sole parental authority and physical custody of [respondent Antonio]."6 Thus, the court a
quo decreed the following:
WHEREFORE, foregoing premises considered, the Court hereby grants [Antonio’s] prayer for recognition
and the same is hereby judicially approved. x x x Consequently, the Court forthwith issues the following
Order granting the other reliefs sought in the Petition, to wit:
a. Ordering the Office of the City Registrar of the City of Makati to cause the entry of the name
of [Antonio] as the father of the aforementioned minors in their respective Certificate of Live
Birth and causing the correction/change and/or annotation of the surnames of said minors in
their Certificate of Live Birth from Grande to Antonio;
b. Granting [Antonio] the right to jointly exercise Parental Authority with [Grande] over the
persons of their minor children, Andre Lewis Grande and Jerard Patrick Grande;
c. Granting [Antonio] primary right and immediate custody over the parties’ minor children
Andre Lewis Grandre and Jerard Patrick Grande who shall stay with [Antonio’s] residence in the
Philippines from Monday until Friday evening and to [Grande’s] custody from Saturday to
Sunday evening;
d. Ordering [Grande] to immediately surrender the persons and custody of minors Andre Lewis
Grande and Jerard Patrick Grande unto [Antonio] for the days covered by the Order;
e. Ordering parties to cease and desist from bringing the aforenamed minors outside of the
country, without the written consent of the other and permission from the court.
f. Ordering parties to give and share the support of the minor children Andre Lewis Grande and
Jerard Patrick Grande in the amount of P30,000 per month at the rate of 70% for [Antonio] and
30% for [Grande].7(Emphasis supplied.)
Aggrieved, petitioner Grande moved for reconsideration. However, her motion was denied by the trial
court in its Resolution dated November 22, 20108 for being pro forma and for lack of merit.
Petitioner Grande then filed an appeal with the CA attributing grave error on the part of the RTC for
allegedly ruling contrary to the law and jurisprudence respecting the grant of sole custody to the mother
over her illegitimate children.9 In resolving the appeal, the appellate court modified in part the Decision
of the RTC. The dispositive portion of the CA Decision reads:
WHEREFORE, the appeal is partly GRANTED. Accordingly, the appealed Decision of the Regional Trial
Court Branch 8, Aparri Cagayan in SP Proc. Case No. 11-4492 is MODIFIED in part and shall hereinafter
read as follows:
a. The Offices of the Civil Registrar General and the City Civil Registrar of Makati City are
DIRECTED to enter the surname Antonio as the surname of Jerard Patrick and Andre Lewis, in
their respective certificates of live birth, and record the same in the Register of Births;
b. [Antonio] is ORDERED to deliver the minor children Jerard Patrick and Andre Lewis to the
custody of their mother herein appellant, Grace Grande who by virtue hereof is hereby awarded
the full or sole custody of these minor children;
c. [Antonio] shall have visitorial rights at least twice a week, and may only take the children out
upon the written consent of [Grande]; and
d. The parties are DIRECTED to give and share in support of the minor children Jerard Patrick and
Andre Lewis in the amount of P30,000.00 per month at the rate of 70% for [Antonio] and 30%
for [Grande]. (Emphasis supplied.)
In ruling thus, the appellate court ratiocinated that notwithstanding the father’s recognition of his
children, the mother cannot be deprived of her sole parental custody over them absent the most
compelling of reasons.10Since respondent Antonio failed to prove that petitioner Grande committed any
act that adversely affected the welfare of the children or rendered her unsuitable to raise the minors,
she cannot be deprived of her sole parental custody over their children.
The appellate court, however, maintained that the legal consequence of the recognition made by
respondent Antonio that he is the father of the minors, taken in conjunction with the universally
protected "best-interest-of-the-child" clause, compels the use by the children of the surname
"ANTONIO."11
As to the issue of support, the CA held that the grant is legally in order considering that not only did
Antonio express his willingness to give support, it is also a consequence of his acknowledging the
paternity of the minor children.12 Lastly, the CA ruled that there is no reason to deprive respondent
Antonio of his visitorial right especially in view of the constitutionally inherent and natural right of
parents over their children.13
Not satisfied with the CA’s Decision, petitioner Grande interposed a partial motion for reconsideration,
particularly assailing the order of the CA insofar as it decreed the change of the minors’ surname to
"Antonio." When her motion was denied, petitioner came to this Court via the present petition. In it, she
posits that Article 176 of the Family Code––as amended by Republic Act No. (RA) 9255, couched as it is
in permissive language––may not be invoked by a father to compel the use by his illegitimate children of
his surname without the consent of their mother.
We find the present petition impressed with merit.
The sole issue at hand is the right of a father to compel the use of his surname by his illegitimate
children upon his recognition of their filiation. Central to the core issue is the application of Art. 176 of
the Family Code, originally phrased as follows:
Illegitimate children shall use the surname and shall be under the parental authority of their mother,
and shall be entitled to support in conformity with this Code. The legitime of each illegitimate child shall
consist of one-half of the legitime of a legitimate child. Except for this modification, all other provisions
in the Civil Code governing successional rights shall remain in force.
This provision was later amended on March 19, 2004 by RA 925514 which now reads:
Art. 176. – Illegitimate children shall use the surname and shall be under the parental authority of their
mother, and shall be entitled to support in conformity with this Code. However, illegitimate children
may use the surname of their father if their filiation has been expressly recognized by their father
through the record of birth appearing in the civil register, or when an admission in a public document or
private handwritten instrument is made by the father. Provided, the father has the right to institute an
action before the regular courts to prove non-filiation during his lifetime. The legitime of each
illegitimate child shall consist of one-half of the legitime of a legitimate child. (Emphasis supplied.)
From the foregoing provisions, it is clear that the general rule is that an illegitimate child shall use the
surname of his or her mother. The exception provided by RA 9255 is, in case his or her filiation is
expressly recognized by the father through the record of birth appearing in the civil register or when an
admission in a public document or private handwritten instrument is made by the father. In such a
situation, the illegitimate child may use the surname of the father.
In the case at bar, respondent filed a petition for judicial approval of recognition of the filiation of the
two children with the prayer for the correction or change of the surname of the minors from Grande to
Antonio when a public document acknowledged before a notary public under Sec. 19, Rule 132 of the
Rules of Court15 is enough to establish the paternity of his children. But he wanted more: a judicial
conferment of parental authority, parental custody, and an official declaration of his children’s surname
as Antonio.
Parental authority over minor children is lodged by Art. 176 on the mother; hence, respondent’s prayer
has no legal mooring. Since parental authority is given to the mother, then custody over the minor
children also goes to the mother, unless she is shown to be unfit.
Now comes the matter of the change of surname of the illegitimate children. Is there a legal basis for
the court a quo to order the change of the surname to that of respondent?
Clearly, there is none. Otherwise, the order or ruling will contravene the explicit and unequivocal
provision of Art. 176 of the Family Code, as amended by RA 9255.
Art. 176 gives illegitimate children the right to decide if they want to use the surname of their father or
not. It is not the father (herein respondent) or the mother (herein petitioner) who is granted by law the
right to dictate the surname of their illegitimate children.
Nothing is more settled than that when the law is clear and free from ambiguity, it must be taken to
mean what it says and it must be given its literal meaning free from any interpretation.16 Respondent’s
position that the court can order the minors to use his surname, therefore, has no legal basis.
On its face, Art. 176, as amended, is free from ambiguity. And where there is no ambiguity, one must
abide by its words. The use of the word "may" in the provision readily shows that an acknowledged
illegitimate child is under no compulsion to use the surname of his illegitimate father. The word "may" is
permissive and operates to confer discretion17 upon the illegitimate children.
It is best to emphasize once again that the yardstick by which policies affecting children are to be
measured is their best interest. On the matter of children’s surnames, this Court has, time and again,
rebuffed the idea that the use of the father’s surname serves the best interest of the minor child. In
Alfon v. Republic,18 for instance, this Court allowed even a legitimate child to continue using the
surname of her mother rather than that of her legitimate father as it serves her best interest and there
is no legal obstacle to prevent her from using the surname of her mother to which she is entitled. In fact,
in Calderon v. Republic,19 this Court, upholding the best interest of the child concerned, even allowed
the use of a surname different from the surnames of the child’s father or mother. Indeed, the rule
regarding the use of a child’s surname is second only to the rule requiring that the child be placed in the
best possible situation considering his circumstances.
In Republic of the Philippines v. Capote,20 We gave due deference to the choice of an illegitimate minor
to use the surname of his mother as it would best serve his interest, thus:
The foregoing discussion establishes the significant connection of a person’s name to his identity, his
status in relation to his parents and his successional rights as a legitimate or illegitimate child. For sure,
these matters should not be taken lightly as to deprive those who may, in any way, be affected by the
right to present evidence in favor of or against such change.
The law and facts obtaining here favor Giovanni’s petition. Giovanni availed of the proper remedy, a
petition for change of name under Rule 103 of the Rules of Court, and complied with all the procedural
requirements. After hearing, the trial court found (and the appellate court affirmed) that the evidence
presented during the hearing of Giovanni’s petition sufficiently established that, under Art. 176 of the
Civil Code, Giovanni is entitled to change his name as he was never recognized by his father while his
mother has always recognized him as her child. A change of name will erase the impression that he was
ever recognized by his father. It is also to his best interest as it will facilitate his mother’s intended
petition to have him join her in the United States. This Court will not stand in the way of the
reunification of mother and son. (Emphasis supplied.)
An argument, however, may be advanced advocating the mandatory use of the father’s surname upon
his recognition of his illegitimate children, citing the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of RA
9255,21 which states:
Rule 7. Requirements for the Child to Use the Surname of the Father
7.1 For Births Not Yet Registered
7.1.1 The illegitimate child shall use the surname of the father if a public document is executed by the
father, either at the back of the Certificate of Live Birth or in a separate document.
7.1.2 If admission of paternity is made through a private instrument, the child shall use the surname of
the father, provided the registration is supported by the following documents:
xxxx
7.2. For Births Previously Registered under the Surname of the Mother
7.2.1 If filiation has been expressly recognized by the father, the child shall use the surname of the
father upon the submission of the accomplished AUSF [Affidavit of Use of the Surname of the Father].
7.2.2 If filiation has not been expressly recognized by the father, the child shall use the surname of the
father upon submission of a public document or a private handwritten instrument supported by the
documents listed in Rule 7.1.2.
7.3 Except in Item 7.2.1, the consent of the illegitimate child is required if he/she has reached the age of
majority. The consent may be contained in a separate instrument duly notarized.
xxxx
Rule 8. Effects of Recognition
8.1 For Births Not Yet Registered
8.1.1 The surname of the father shall be entered as the last name of the child in the Certificate of Live
Birth. The Certificate of Live Birth shall be recorded in the Register of Births.
xxxx
8.2 For Births Previously Registered under the Surname of the Mother
8.2.1 If admission of paternity was made either at the back of the Certificate of Live Birth or in a
separate public document or in a private handwritten document, the public document or AUSF shall be
recorded in the Register of Live Birth and the Register of Births as follows:
"The surname of the child is hereby changed from (original surname) to (new surname) pursuant to RA
9255."
The original surname of the child appearing in the Certificate of Live Birth and Register of Births shall not
be changed or deleted.
8.2.2 If filiation was not expressly recognized at the time of registration, the public document or AUSF
shall be recorded in the Register of Legal Instruments. Proper annotation shall be made in the Certificate
of Live Birth and the Register of Births as follows:
"Acknowledged by (name of father) on (date). The surname of the child is hereby changed from (original
surname) on (date) pursuant to RA 9255." (Emphasis supplied.)
Nonetheless, the hornbook rule is that an administrative issuance cannot amend a legislative act. In
MCC Industrial Sales Corp. v. Ssangyong Corporation,22 We held:
After all, the power of administrative officials to promulgate rules in the implementation of a statute is
necessarily limited to what is found in the legislative enactment itself. The implementing rules and
regulations of a law cannot extend the law or expand its coverage, as the power to amend or repeal a
statute is vested in the Legislature. Thus, if a discrepancy occurs between the basic law and an
implementing rule or regulation, it is the former that prevails, because the law cannot be broadened by
a mere administrative issuance — an administrative agency certainly cannot amend an act of Congress.
Thus, We can disregard contemporaneous construction where there is no ambiguity in law and/or the
construction is clearly erroneous.23 What is more, this Court has the constitutional prerogative and
authority to strike down and declare as void the rules of procedure of special courts and quasi- judicial
bodies24 when found contrary to statutes and/or the Constitution.25 Section 5(5), Art. VIII of the
Constitution provides:
Sec. 5. The Supreme Court shall have the following powers:
xxxx
(5) Promulgate rules concerning the protection and enforcement of constitutional rights, pleading,
practice and procedure in all courts, the admission to the practice of law, the Integrated Bar, and legal
assistance to the underprivileged. Such rules shall provide a simplified and inexpensive procedure for
the speedy disposition of cases, shall be uniform for all courts of the same grade, and shall not diminish,
increase, or modify substantive rights. Rules of procedure of special courts and quasi-judicial bodies
shall remain effective unless disapproved by the Supreme Court. (Emphasis supplied.)
Thus, We exercise this power in voiding the above-quoted provisions of the IRR of RA 9255 insofar as it
provides the mandatory use by illegitimate children of their father’s surname upon the latter’s
recognition of his paternity.
To conclude, the use of the word "shall" in the IRR of RA 9255 is of no moment. The clear, unambiguous,
and unequivocal use of "may" in Art. 176 rendering the use of an illegitimate father’s surname
discretionary controls, and illegitimate children are given the choice on the surnames by which they will
be known.
At this juncture, We take note of the letters submitted by the children, now aged thirteen (13) and
fifteen (15) years old, to this Court declaring their opposition to have their names changed to
"Antonio."26 However, since these letters were not offered before and evaluated by the trial court, they
do not provide any evidentiary weight to sway this Court to rule for or against petitioner.27 A proper
inquiry into, and evaluation of the evidence of, the children's choice of surname by the trial court is
necessary.
WHEREFORE, the instant petition is PARTIALLY GRANTED. The July 24, 2012 Decision of the Court of
Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 96406 is MODIFIED, the dispositive portion of which shall read:
WHEREFORE, the appeal is partly GRANTED. Accordingly. the appealed Decision of the Regional Trial
Court Branch 8, Aparri Cagayan in SP Proc. Case No. 11-4492 is MODIFIED in part and shall hereinafter
read as follows:
a. [Antonio] is ORDERED to deliver the minor children Jerard Patrick and Andre Lewis to the
custody of their mother herein appellant, Grace Grande who by virtue hereof is hereby awarded
the full or sole custody of these minor children;
b. [Antonio] shall have visitation rights28 at least twice a week, and may only take the children
out upon the written consent of [Grande]:
c. The parties are DIRECTED to give and share in support of the minor children Jerard Patrick and
Andre Lewis in the amount of P30,000.00 per month at the rate of 70% for [Antonio] and 30%
for [Grande]; and
d. The case is REMANDED to the Regional Trial Court, Branch 8 of Aparri, Cagayan for the sole
purpose of determining the surname to be chosen by the children Jerard Patrick and Andre
Lewis.
Rule 7 and Rule 8 of the Office of the Civil Registrar General Administrative Order No. 1, Series of 2004
are DISAPPROVED and hereby declared NULL and VOID.
SO ORDERED.
14
An Act Allowing Illegitimate Children to Use the Surname of Their Father Amending for the
Purpose Article 176 of Executive Order No. 209, Otherwise Known as the "Family Code of the
Philippines," signed into law on February 24, 2004 and took effect on March 19, 2004 fifteen
(15) days after its publication on Malaya and the Manila Times on March 4, 2004.
15
Rule 132, Sec. 19. Classes of Documents. – For the purpose of their presentation in evidence,
documents are either public or private.
Public documents are:
(a) The written official acts, or records of the official acts of the sovereign authotirty,
official bodies and tribunals, and public officers, whether of the Philippines, or a foreign
country;
(b) Documents acknowledged before a notary public except last will and testaments;
and
(c) Public records, kept in the Philippines, of private documents required by law to be
entered therein.
All other writings are private.
16
Republic v. Lacap, G.R. No. 158253, March 2, 2007, 517 SCRA 255; Chartered Bank Employees
Association v. Ople, No. L-44717, August 28, 1985, 138 SCRA 273; Quijano v. Development Bank
of the Philippines, G.R. No. 26419, October 19, 1970, 35 SCRA 270; Luzon Surety Co., Inc. v. De
Garcia, No. L-25659, October 31, 1969, 30 SCRA 111.
17
Agpalo, Ruben, STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION 460 (6th ed., 2009); citations omitted.
18
No. L-51201, May 29, 1980, 97 SCRA 858.
19
126 Phil. 1 (1967).
20
G.R. No. 157043, February 2, 2007, 514 SCRA 76, 83-84.
21
Office of Civil Registrar General (OCRG) Administrative Order No. 1, Series of 2004, issued by
the National Statistics Office-Office of the Civil Registrar General. Approved on May 14, 2004,
published on May 18, 2004 on the Manila Times, and took effect on June 2, 2004.
22
G.R. No. 170633, October 17, 2007, 536 SCRA 408, 453.
23
Regalado v. Yulo, 61 Phil. 173 (1935); Molina v. Rafferty, 37 Phil. 545 (1918).
24
The Office of the Civil Registrar General exercises quasi-judicial powers under Rule 13, Title 1,
of NSO Administrative Order 1-93, December 18, 1993, Implementing Rules and Regulations of
Act No. 3753 and Other Laws on Civil Registration:
RULE 13. Posting of the Pending Application. — (1) A notice to the public on the pending
application for delayed registration shall be posted in the bulletin board of the
city/municipality for a period of not less than ten (10) days.
(2) If after ten (10) days, no one opposes the registration, the civil registrar shall
evaluate the veracity of the statements made in the required documents submitted.
(3) If after proper evaluation of all documents presented and investigation of the
allegations contained therein, the civil registrar is convinced that the event really
occurred within the jurisdiction of the civil registry office, and finding out that said event
was not registered, he shall register the delayed report thereof.
(4) The civil registrar, in all cases of delayed registration of birth, death and marriage,
shall conduct an investigation whenever an opposition is filed against its registration by
taking the testimonies of the parties concerned and witnesses in the form of questions
and answers. After investigation, the civil registrar shall forward his findings and
recommendations to the Office of the Civil Registrar-General for appropriate action.
(5) The Civil Registrar-General may, after review and proper evaluation, deny or
authorize the registration.
25
Tan v. COMELEC, G.R. Nos. 166143-47 & 166891, November 20, 2006, 507 SCRA 352, 370-371.
26
Rollo, pp. 45-46.
27
Rule 132. Sec. 34. Offer of' evidence. - The court shall consider no evidence which has not
been formally offered. The purpose for which the evidence is offered must be specified.
28
In family law. the right granted by a court to a parent or other relative who is deprived
custody of a child to visit the child on a regular basis. See DICTIONARY or LEGAL TERMS 529 (3rd
ed.).

FIRST DIVISION

EUGENIO R. REYES, joined by TIMOTHY JOSEPH G.R. No. 175080


M. REYES, MA. GRACIA S. REYES, ROMAN
Present:
GABRIEL M. REYES, and MA. ANGELA S. REYES,
CORONA, C.J.,
Petitioners,
Chairperson
VELASCO, JR.,
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO,
-versus- PERALTA,* and
PEREZ, JJ.

LIBRADA F. MAURICIO (deceased) and LEONIDA


F. MAURICIO, Promulgated:
Respondents.
November 24, 2010

x---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- x

DECISION

PEREZ, J.:
Subject of this petition is the Decision[1] of the Court of Appeals dated 10 August 2006 in CA-G.R.
SP No. 87148, affirming the Decision dated 7 July 1998 and Resolution dated 28 September 2004 of the
Department of Agrarian Reform Adjudication Board (DARAB).
Eugenio Reyes (Eugenio) was the registered owner of a parcel of land located at Turo, Bocaue,
Bulacan, with an area of four thousand five hundred twenty-seven (4,527) square meters, more or less,
and covered by Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. 109456(M). Said title came from and cancelled TCT
No. T-62290 registered in the name of Eufracia and Susana Reyes, siblings of Eugenio. The subject property
was adjudicated to Eugenio by virtue of an extrajudicial settlement among the heirs following the death
of his parents.
The controversy stemmed from a complaint filed before the DARAB of Malolos, Bulacan by
respondents Librada F. Mauricio (Librada), now deceased, and her alleged daughter Leonida F. Mauricio
(Leonida) for annulment of contract denominated as Kasunduan and between Librada and Eugenio as
parties.Respondents also prayed for maintenance of their peaceful possession with damages.

Respondents alleged that they are the legal heirs of the late Godofredo Mauricio (Godofredo),
who was the lawful and registered tenant of Eugenio through his predecessors-in-interest to the subject
land; that from 1936 until his death in May 1994, Godofredo had been working on the subject land and
introduced improvements consisting of fruit-bearing trees, seasonal crops, a residential house and other
permanent improvements; that through fraud, deceit, strategy and other unlawful means, Eugenio caused
the preparation of a document denominated as Kasunduan dated 28 September 1994 to eject
respondents from the subject property, and had the same notarized by Notary Public Ma. Sarah G. Nicolas
in Pasig, Metro Manila; that Librada never appeared before the Notary Public; that Librada was illiterate
and the contents of the Kasunduan were not read nor explained to her; that Eugenio took undue
advantage of the weakness, age, illiteracy, ignorance, indigence and other handicaps of Librada in the
execution of the Kasunduan rendering it void for lack of consent; and that Eugenio had been employing
all illegal means to eject respondents from the subject property. Respondents prayed for the declaration
of nullity of the Kasunduan and for an order for Eugenio to maintain and place them in peaceful possession
and cultivation of the subject property. Respondents likewise demanded payment of damages.[2]During
trial, respondents presented a leasehold contract executed between Susana and Godofredo to reaffirm
the existing tenancy agreement.[3]

Eugenio averred that no tenancy relationship existed between him and respondents. He clarified
that Godofredos occupation of the subject premises was based on the formers mere tolerance and
accommodation. Eugenio denied signing a tenancy agreement, nor authorizing any person to sign such an
agreement. He maintained that Librada, accompanied by a relative, voluntarily affixed her signature to
the Kasunduan and that she was fully aware of the contents of the document. Moreover, Librada
received P50,000.00 from Eugenio on the same day of the execution of the Kasunduan. Eugenio also
questioned the jurisdiction of the DARAB since the principal relief sought by respondents is the annulment
of the contract, over which jurisdiction is vested on the regular courts. Eugenio also asserted that Leonida
had no legal personality to file the present suit. [4]

Based on the evidence submitted by both parties, the Provincial


[5]
Adjudicator concluded that Godofredo was the tenant of Eugenio, and Librada, being the surviving
spouse, should be maintained in peaceful possession of the subject land. The dispositive portion of the
decision reads:

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, judgment is hereby rendered in favor of


plaintiff Librada Mauricio and against defendant Eugenio R. Reyes and order is hereby
issued:

1. Declaring the kasunduan null and void;


2. Ordering defendant to respect the peaceful possession of herein plaintiff
Librada Mauricio over the subject landholding;
3. Ordering plaintiff to return the amount of P50,000.00 to herein defendant;
4. No pronouncement as to costs.[6]
On appeal, two issues were presented to and taken up by the DARAB, namely: (1) Whether or not
there is tenancy relation between the parties; and (2) whether or not the Kasunduan dated 28 September
1994 is valid and enforceable. The DARAB held that the Mauricios are former tenants of Spouses Reyes. It
found that when Spouses Reyes died, siblings Eufracia, Susana and Eugenio, among others inherited the
subject property. Under the law, they were subrogated to the rights and substituted to the obligations of
their late parents as the agricultural lessors over the farmholding tenanted by respondents. Moreover,
the DARAB banked on the Kasunduang Buwisan sa Sakahan or the leasehold contract executed by Susana
in favor of Godofredo to support the tenancy relationship.Furthermore, the DARAB declared the
other Kasunduan as void by relying on the evaluation of the Provincial Adjudicator as to the legal
incapacity of Librada to enter into such a contract.[7]

Eugenio filed a motion for reconsideration which was denied by the DARAB on 28 September 2004.[8]

Aggrieved by the DARAB ruling, Eugenio filed a petition for review with the Court of Appeals. On 10 July
2006, the Court of Appeals issued a resolution regarding the status of Leonida as a legal heir and allowed
her to substitute Librada, who died during the pendency of the case.[9] On 10 August 2006, the Court of
Appeals affirmed the decision and resolution of the DARAB. It sustained the factual findings of the DARAB
with respect to the tenancy relation between Godofredo and Spouses Reyes and the nullity of
the Kasunduan.[10]
Undaunted, Eugenio filed the instant petition. Eugenio submits that no tenancy relationship exists
between him and respondents. He insists that the Kasunduang Buwisan sa Sakahan allegedly executed
between Godofredo and Susana in 1993 giving the former the right to occupy and cultivate the subject
property is unenforceable against Eugenio, having been entered into without his knowledge and
consent. Eugenio further asserts that per records of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), no
leasehold contract was entered into by Godofredo and Eugenio with respect to the disputed
property. Eugenio attributes error on the part of the Court of Appeals in concluding that a tenancy
relationship existed between the parties despite the absence of some of the essential requisites of a
tenancy relationship such as personal cultivation and the subject land being agricultural. Finally, Eugenio
defends the validity of the Kasunduan entered into between him and Librada wherein the latter agreed
to vacate the subject property, in that it was voluntarily entered into and the contents thereof were
mutually understood by the parties.[11]

In a Resolution dated 7 February 2007, this Court denied the petition for failure to show that the Court of
Appeals committed reversible error in its challenged decision and resolution. The Court also dismissed the
issues raised as factual. However, upon filing of a motion for reconsideration by Eugenio, this Court
reinstated the petition and required respondent Leonida to comment on the petition.[12]

In her comment, respondent prayed for the denial of the petition because the jurisdiction of this Court is
limited to review of errors of law and not of facts.[13]

In the main, Eugenio insists that no tenancy relationship existed between him and Godofredo. This is a
question of fact beyond the province of this Court in a petition for review under Rule 45 of the Rules of
Court in which only questions of law may be raised.[14] Absent any of the obtaining exceptions[15] to this
rule, the findings of facts of the Provincial Adjudicator, as affirmed by DARAB and especially by the Court
of Appeals, are binding on this Court.

The DARAB ruling outlined how the tenancy relationship between Godofredo and the Mauricios came
about, thus:

This Board, after a thorough evaluation of the evidences, is convinced that the
Mauricios are former tenants of the parents of the herein Defendant-Appeallant. A
perusal of Exhibit H which is the Tax Declaration of the property in controversy proves
that upon the death of the parents of Defendant-Appellant, the property was the subject
matter of their extra-judicial partition/settlement and this property was initially under
the ownership of the appellants sisters, Eufracia and Susana Reyes until the same
property was finally acquired/transferred in the name of Respondent-
Appellant. Obviously, in order to re-affirm the fact that the Mauricios are really the
tenants, Susana Reyes had voluntarily executed the Leasehold Contract with Godofredo
Librada being the tenant on the property and to prove that she (Susana Reyes) was the
predecessor-in-interest of Respondent-Appeallant Eugenio Reyes. x x x. The Kasunduang
Buwisan sa Sakahan alleging that their tenancy relationship began in the year 1973 and
their agreement as to the rental shall remain until further revised.[16]

This is a contest of Kasunduans. Respondents rely on a Kasunduan of tenancy. Petitioners swear by


a Kasunduan of termination of tenancy.

Librada claims that her late husband had been working on the land since 1936 until his death in
1994. She presented the Kasunduang Buwisan sa Sakahandated 26 May 1993 and executed by Godofredo
and Susana which reaffirmed the leasehold tenancy over the subject land. On the other hand, Eugenio
disputes the claims of Librada and presented another Kasunduan executed between him and Librada on
28 September 1994 which effectively terminates the leasehold tenancy when the latter allegedly agreed
to vacate the subject premises in exchange of monetary considerations.

This second Kasunduan is the subject of the instant complaint. In its disquisition, the DARAB
nullified the second Kasunduan, to wit:

x x x Insofar as this Kasunduan is concerned, and after reading the transcript of the
testimony of the old woman Librada Mauricio, this Board is convinced that indeed the
purpose of the document was to eject her from the farmholding but that Librada Mauricio
wanted to return the money she received because the contents of the document was
never explained to her being illiterate who cannot even read or write. This Board is even
further convinced after reading the transcript of the testimonies that while the document
was allegedly signed by the parties in Turo, Bocaue, Bulacan, the same document was
notarized in Pasig, Metro Manila, thus, the Notary Public was not in a position to explain
much less ascertain the veracity of the contents of the alleged Kasunduan as to whether
or not Plaintiff-Appellee Librada Mauricio had really understood the contents
thereof. This Board further adheres to the principle that it cannot substitute its own
evaluation of the testimony of the witnesses with that of the personal evaluation of the
Adjudicator a quo who, in the case at bar, had the best opportunity to observe the
demeanor of the witness Librada Mauricio while testifying on the circumstances relevant
to the execution of the alleged Kasunduan. Furthermore, this Board adheres to the
principle that in all contractual, property or other relations, when one of the parties is at
a disadvantage on account of his moral dependence, ignorance, mental weakness or
other handicap, the courts (and in the case at bar, this Board) must be vigilant for his
protection (Art. 24, New Civil Code). In the case at bar, Plaintiff-Appellee is already eighty-
one (81) years old who can neither read nor write, thus, she just simply signs her name
with her thumbmark.[17]

Applying the principle that only questions of law may be entertained by this Court, we defer to
the factual ruling of the Provincial Adjudicator, as affirmed by DARAB and the Court of Appeals, which
clearly had the opportunity to closely examine the witnesses and their demeanor on the witness stand.

Assuming that the leasehold contract between Susana and Godofredo is void, our conclusion
remains. We agree with the Court of Appeals that a tenancy relationship cannot be extinguished by mere
expiration of term or period in a leasehold contract; or by the sale, alienation or the transfer of legal
possession of the landholding. Section 9 of Republic Act No. 1199 or the Agricultural Tenancy Act provides:

SECTION 9. Severance of Relationship. The tenancy relationship is extinguished by


the voluntary surrender of the land by, or the death or incapacity of, the tenant, but his
heirs or the members of his immediate farm household may continue to work the land
until the close of the agricultural year. The expiration of the period of the contract as
fixed by the parties, and the sale or alienation of the land does not of themselves
extinguish the relationship. In the latter case, the purchaser ortransferee shall assume
the rights and obligations of the former landholder in relation to the tenant. In case of
death of the landholder, his heir or heirs shall likewise assume his rights and obligations.
(Emphasis supplied)

Moreover, Section 10 of Republic Act No. 3844 (Code of Agrarian Reforms of the Philippines)
likewise provides:

SEC. 10. Agricultural Leasehold Relation Not Extinguished by Expiration of Period,


etc. The agricultural leasehold relation under this Code shall not be extinguished by mere
expiration of the term or period in a leasehold contract nor by the sale, alienation or
transfer of the legal possession of the landholding. In case the agricultural lessor sells,
alienates or transfers the legal possession of the landholding, the purchaser or
transferee thereof shall be subrogated to the rights and substituted to the obligations
of the agricultural lessor. (Emphasis supplied)

As an incidental issue, Leonidas legal standing as a party was also assailed by Eugenio. Eugenio
submitted that the complaint was rendered moot with the death of Librada, Godofredos sole compulsory
heir. Eugenio contended that Leonida is a mere ward of Godofredo and Librada, thus, not a legal heir.[18]
We are in full accord with the Court of Appeals when it ruled that Eugenio cannot collaterally
attack the status of Leonida in the instant petition.[19]

It is settled law that filiation cannot be collaterally attacked.[20] Well-known civilista Dr. Arturo M.
Tolentino, in his book Civil Code of the Philippines, Commentaries and Jurisprudence, noted that the
aforecited doctrine is rooted from the provisions of the Civil Code of the Philippines. He explained thus:

The legitimacy of the child cannot be contested by way of defense or as a collateral issue
in another action for a different purpose. The necessity of an independent action directly
impugning the legitimacy is more clearly expressed in the Mexican code (article 335)
which provides: The contest of the legitimacy of a child by the husband or his heirs must
be made by proper complaint before the competent court; any contest made in any other
way is void. This principle applies under our Family Code. Articles 170 and 171 of the code
confirm this view, because they refer to the action to impugn the legitimacy. This action
can be brought only by the husband or his heirs and within the periods fixed in the present
articles.[21]

In Braza v. City Civil Registrar of Himamaylan City, Negros Occidental,[22] the Court stated that legitimacy
and filiation can be questioned only in a direct action seasonably filed by the proper party, and not through
collateral attack.[23]

The same rule is applied to adoption such that it cannot also be made subject to a collateral
attack. In Reyes v. Sotero,[24] this Court reiterated that adoption cannot be assailed collaterally in a
proceeding for the settlement of a decedents estate.[25] Furthermore, in Austria v. Reyes,[26] the Court
declared that the legality of the adoption by the testatrix can be assailed only in a separate action brought
for that purpose and cannot be subject to collateral attack.[27]

Against these jurisprudential backdrop, we have to leave out the status of Leonida from the case for
annulment of the Kasunduan that supposedly favors petitioners cause.

WHEREFORE, based on the foregoing premises, the instant petition for review
on certiorari is DENIED and the Decision dated 10 August 2006 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No.
87148 is AFFIRMED.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
G.R. No. L-2474 May 30, 1951
MARIANO ANDAL, assisted by mother Maria Dueñas as guardian ad litem, and MARIA
DUEÑAS, plaintiffs,
vs.
EDUVIGIS MACARAIG, defendant.
Reyes and Dy-Liaco for appellants.
Tible, Tena and Borja for appellees.
BAUTISTA ANGELO, J.:
Mariano Andal, a minor, assisted by his mother Maria Dueñas, as guardian ad litem, brought an action in
the Court of First Instance of Camarines Sur for the recovery of the ownership and possession of a parcel
of land situated in the barrio of Talacop, Calabanga, Camarines Sur.
The complaint alleges that Mariano Andal is the surviving son of Emiliano Andal and Maria Dueñas; that
Emiliano Andal died on September 24, 1942; that Emiliano Andal was the owner of the parcel of land in
question having acquired it from his mother Eduvigis Macaraig by virtue of a donation propter
nuptias executed by the latter in favor of the former; that Emiliano Andal had been in possession of the
land from 1938 up to 1942, when Eduvigis Macaraig, taking advantage of the abnormal situation then
prevailing, entered the land in question.
The lower court rendered judgment in favor of the plaintiffs (a) declaring Mariano Andal the legitimate
son of Emiliano Andal and such entitled to inherit the land in question; (b) declaring Mariano Andal
owner of said land; and (c) ordering the defendant to pay the costs of suit. Defendant took the case to
this Court upon the plea that only question of law are involved.
It appears undisputed that the land in question was given by Eduvigis Macaraig to her son Emiliano
Andal by virtue of a donation propter nuptias she has executed in his favor on the occasion of his
marriage to Maria Dueñas. If the son born to the couple is deemed legitimate, then he is entitled to
inherit the land in question. If otherwise, then the land should revert back to Eduvigis Macaraig as the
next of kin entitled to succeed him under the law. The main issue, therefore, to be determined hinges
on the legitimacy of Mariano Andal in so far as his relation to Emiliano Andal is concerned. The
determination of this issue much depends upon the relationship that had existed between Emiliano
Andal and his wife during the period of conception of the child up to the date of his birth in connection
with the death of the alleged father Emiliano Andal.
The following facts appear to have been proven: Emiliano Andal became sick of tuberculosis in January
1941. Sometime thereafter, his brother, Felix, went to live in his house to help him work his house to
help him work his farm. His sickness became worse that on or about September 10, 1942, he became so
weak that he could hardly move and get up from his bed. On September 10, 1942, Maria Duenas, his
wife, eloped with Felix, and both went to live in the house of Maria's father, until the middle of 1943.
Since May, 1942, Felix and Maria had sexual intercourse and treated each other as husband and wife.
On January 1, 1943, Emiliano died without the presence of his wife, who did not even attend his funeral.
On June 17, 1943, Maria Dueñas gave birth to a boy, who was given the name of Mariano Andal. Under
these facts, can the child be considered as the legitimate son of Emiliano?
Article 108 of the Civil Code provides:
Children born after the one hundred and eighty days next following that of the celebration of
marriage or within the three hundred days next following its dissolution or the separation of the
spouses shall be presumed to be legitimate.
This presumption may be rebutted only by proof that it was physically impossible for the
husband to have had access to his wife during the first one hundred and twenty days of the
three hundred next preceding the birth of the child.
Since the boy was born on June 17, 1943, and Emiliano Andal died on January 1, 1943, that boy is
presumed to be the legitimate son of Emiliano and his wife, he having been born within three hundred
(300) days following the dissolution of the marriage. This presumption can only be rebutted by proof
that it was physically impossible for the husband to have had access to his wife during the first 120 days
of the 300 next preceding the birth of the child. Is there any evidence to prove that it was physically
impossible for Emiliano to have such access? Is the fact that Emiliano was sick of tuberculosis and was so
weak that he could hardly move and get up from his bed sufficient to overcome this presumption?
Manresa on this point says:
Impossibility of access by husband to wife would include (1) absence during the initial period of
conception, (2) impotence which is patent, continuing and incurable, and (3) imprisonment,
unless it can be shown that cohabitation took place through corrupt violation of prison
regulations. Manresa, 492-500, Vol. I, cited by Dr. Arturo Tolentino in his book "Commentaries
and Jurisprudence on the Civil Code, Vol. 1, p.90)."
There was no evidence presented that Emiliano Andal was absent during the initial period of
conception, specially during the period comprised between August 21, 1942 and September 10, 1942,
which is included in the 120 days of the 300 next preceding the birth of the child Mariano Andal. On the
contrary, there is enough evidence to show that during that initial period, Emiliano Andal and his wife
were still living under the marital roof. Even if Felix, the brother, was living in the same house, and he
and the wife were indulging in illicit intercourse since May, 1942, that does not preclude cohabitation
between Emiliano and his wife. We admit that Emiliano was already suffering from tuberculosis and his
condition then was so serious that he could hardly move and get up from bed, his feet were swollen and
his voice hoarse. But experience shows that this does not prevent carnal intercourse. There are cases
where persons suffering from this sickness can do the carnal act even in the most crucial stage because
they are more inclined to sexual intercourse. As an author has said, "the reputation of the tuberculosis
towards eroticism (sexual propensity) is probably dependent more upon confinement to bed than the
consequences of the disease." (An Integrated Practice of Medicine, by Hyman, Vol. 3, p.2202). There is
neither evidence to show that Emiliano was suffering from impotency, patent, continuous and incurable,
nor was there evidence that he was imprisoned. The presumption of legitimacy under the Civil Code in
favor of the child has not, therefore, been overcome.
We can obtain the same result viewing this case under section 68, par. (c) of Rule 123, of the Rules of
Court, which is practically based upon the same rai'son d'etre underlying the Civil Code. Said section
provides:
The issue of a wife cohabiting with the husband who is not impotent, is indisputably presumed
to be legitimate, if not born within one hundred eighty days immediately succeeding the
marriage, or after the expiration of three hundred days following its dissolution.
We have already seen that Emiliano and his wife were living together, or at least had access one to the
other, and Emiliano was not impotent, and the child was born within three (300) days following the
dissolution of the marriage. Under these facts no other presumption can be drawn than that the issue is
legitimate. We have also seen that this presumption can only be rebutted by clear proof that it was
physically or naturally impossible for them to indulge in carnal intercourse. And here there is no such
proof. The fact that Maria Dueñas has committed adultery can not also overcome this presumption
(Tolentino's Commentaries on the Civil Code, Vol. I, p. 92).
In view of all the foregoing, we are constrained to hold that the lower court did not err in declaring
Mariano Andal as the legitimate son of the spouses Emiliano Andal and Maria Dueñas.
Wherefore, the decision appealed from is affirmed, without pronouncement as to costs.
Paras, C. J., Feria, Pablo, Tuason, Montemayor, Reyes and Jugo, JJ., concur.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
FIRST DIVISION
G.R. No. L-49542 September 12, 1980
ANTONIO MACADANGDANG, petitioner,
vs.
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS and ELIZABETH MEJIAS, respondents.

MAKASIAR, J.:
This petition for review seeks to set aside the decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. No. 54618-R
which reversed the decision of the Court of First Instance of Davao, Branch IX dismissing the action for
recognition and support filed by respondent Elizabeth Mejias against petitioner Antonio Macadangdang,
and which found minor Rolando to be the illegitimate son of petitioner who was ordered to give a
monthly support of P350.00 until his alleged son reaches the age of majority (p. 47, rec.; p. 10, ROA).
The records show that respondent Elizabeth Mejias is a married woman, her husband being Crispin
Anahaw (pp. 61-62, t.s.n., Sept. 21, 1972; pp. 10-11, Brief for Respondent [P. 198, rec.]) She allegedly
had intercourse with petitioner Antonio Macadangdang sometime in March, 1967 (p. 38, t.s.n., June 7,
1972 in CC No. 109). She also alleges that due to the affair, she and her husband separated in 1967 (p.
63, t.s.n., Sept. 21, 1972). On October 30, 1967 (7 months or 210 days following the illicit encounter),
she gave birth to a baby boy who was named Rolando Macadangdang in baptismal rites held on
December 24,1967 (Annex "A", List of Exhibits).
The records also disclose that on April 25, 1972, respondent (then plaintiff) filed a complaint for
recognition and support against petitioner (then defendant) with the Court of First Instance of Davao,
Branch IX. This case was docketed as Civil Case No. 263 (p. 1, ROA).
Defendant (now petitioner) Macadangdang filed his answer on June 30, 1972, opposing plaintiff's claim
and praying for its dismissal (p. 3, ROA).
On August 9, 1972, the lower court in a pre-trial conference, issued a Pre-trial Order formalizing certain
stipulations, admissions and factual issues on which both parties agreed (pp. 4, 5, and 6, ROA).
Correspondingly, upon agreement of the parties, an amended complaint was filed by plaintiff on
October 17, 1972 (pp. 7,8 and 9, ROA).
In its decision rendered on February 27, 1973, the lower court dismissed the complaint,. The decision
invoked positive provisions of the Civil Code and Rules of Court and authorities (pp. 10-18, ROA).
On April 18, 1973, plaintiff appealed the CFI decision to the Court of Appeals (p. 59, In her appeal,
appellant assigned these errors:
1. The Honorable Trial Court erred in applying in the instant case the provisions of Arts.
255 and 256 of the Civil Code and Secs. 4[a], 4[b] and 4[c], Rule 131, of the Revised
Rules of Court (p. 18, rec.);
2. The Honorable Trial Court erred in holding that plaintiff-appellant cannot validly
question the legitimacy of her son, Rolando Macadangdang, by a collateral attack
without joining her legal husband as a party in the instant case (p. 18, rec.).
In its decision handed down on June 2, 1978, the Court of Appeals reversed the lower court's decision
(p. 47, and thus declared minor Rolando to be an illegitimate son of Antonio Macadangdang (p. 52, rec.).
On November 6, 1978, the Court of Appeals denied appellant's motions for reconsideration for lack of
merit. (p. 56, rec.).
Hence, petitioner filed this petition on January 12, 1979.
The issues boil down to:
1. Whether or not the child Rolando is conclusively presumed the legitimate issue of the
spouses Elizabeth Mejias and Crispin Anahaw; and
2. Whether or not the wife may institute an action that would bastardize her child
without giving her husband, the legally presumed father, an opportunity to be heard.
The crucial point that should be emphasized and should be straightened out from the very beginning is
the fact that respondent's initial illicit affair with petitioner occurred sometime in March, 1967 and that
by reason thereof, she and her husband separated. This fact surfaced from the testimony of respondent
herself in the hearing of September 21, 1972 when this case was still in the lower court. The pertinent
portions of her testimony are thus quoted:
By Atty. Fernandez:
Q — What did you feel as a result of the incident where Antonio Macadangdang
used pill and took advantage of your womanhood?
A — I felt worried, mentally shocked and humiliated.
Q — If these feelings: worries, mental shock and humiliation, if estimated in
monetary figures, how much win be the amount?
A — Ten thousand pesos, sir.
Q — And because of the incidental what happened to your with Crispin
Anahaw.
xxx xxx xxx
WITNESS:
A — We separate, sir. (pp. 61-63, T.s.n., Civil Case No. 263, Sept. 21, 1972;
emphasis supplied).
From the foregoing line of questions and answers, it can be gleaned that respondent's answers were
given with spontaneity and with a clear understanding of the questions posed. There cannot be any
other meaning or interpretation of the word "incident" other than that of the initial contact between
petitioner and respondent. Even a layman would understand the clear sense of the question posed
before respondent and her categorical and spontaneous answer which does not leave any room for
interpretation. It must be noted that the very question of her counsel conveys the assumption of an
existing between respondent and her husband.
The finding of the Court of Appeals that respondent and her husband were separated in 1965 cannot
therefore be considered conclusive and binding on this Court. It is based solely on the testimony of
respondent which is self-serving. Nothing in the records shows that her statement was confirmed or
corroborated by another witness and the same cannot be treated as borne out by the record or that
which is based on substantial evidence. It is not even confirmed by her own husband, who was not
impleaded.
In the case of Tolentino vs. De Jesus (L-32797, 56 SCRA 167 [1974], this Court restated that the findings
of facts of the Court of Appeals are conclusive on the parties and on the Supreme Court, unless (1) the
conclusion is a finding grounded entirely on speculation, surmise, and conjectures; (2) the inference
made is manifestly mistaken; (3) there is grave abuse of discretion; (4) the judgment is based on
misapprehension of facts; (5) the Court of Appeals went beyond the issues of the case and its findings
are contrary to the admission of both appellant and appellee; (6) the findings of facts of the Court of
Appeals are contrary to those of the trial court; (7) said findings of facts are conclusions without citation
of specific evidence on which they are based; (8) the facts set forth in the petition as well as in the
petitioner's main and reply briefs are not disputed by the respondent; and (9) when the finding of facts
of the Court of Appeals is premised on the absence of evidence and is contradicted by evidence on
record [Pioneer Insurance and Surety Corporation vs. Yap, L-36232, December 19, 1974; Roque vs. Buan,
L-22459, 21 SCRA 642 (1967); Ramos vs. Pepsi-cola Bottling Company of the Philippines, L-225533, 19
SCRA 289 (1967); emphasis supplied].
Again, in Roque vs. Buan, supra, this Court reiterated the aforestated doctrine adding four more
exceptions to the general rule. This case invoked the same ruling in the previous case of Ramos vs.
Pepsi-Cola Bottling Company, etc., supra.
In the recent case of Francisca Alsua-Betts, et al. vs. Court of Appeals, et al. (L-46430-31, July 30, 1979),
which petitioner aptly invokes, this Court thus emphasized:
... But what should not be ignored by lawyers and litigants alike is the more basic
principle that the "findings of fact" described as "final" or "conclusive" are those borne
out by the record or those which are based upon substantial evidence. The general rule
laid down by the Supreme Court does not declare the absolute correctness of all the
findings of fact made by the Court of Appeals. There are exceptions to the general rule,
where we have reviewed the findings of fact of the Court of Appeals ... (emphasis
supplied).
The following provisions of the Civil Code and the Rules of Court should be borne in mind:
Art. 255. Children born after one hundred and eighty days following the celebration of
the marriage, and before three hundred days following its dissolution or the separation
of the spouses shall be presumed to be legitimate.
Against this presumption, no evidence shall be admitted other than that of the physical
impossibility of the husband's having access to his wife within the first one hundred and
twenty days of the three hundred which preceded the birth of the child.
This physical impossibility may be caused:
(1) By the impotence of the husband;
(2) By the fact that the husband and wife were separately, in such a way that access was
not possible;
(3) By the serious illness of the husband.
Art. 256. The child shall be presumed legitimate, although the mother may have
declared against its legitimacy or may have been sentenced as an adulteress.
Art. 257. Should the wife commit adultery at or about the time of the conception of the
child, but there was no physical impossibility of access between her and her husband as
set forth in article 255, the child is prima facie presumed to be illegitimate if it appears
highly improbable, for ethnic reasons, that the child is that of the husband. For the
purposes of this article, the wife's adultery need not be proved in a criminal case.
xxx xxx xxx
Sec. 4. Quasi-conclusive presumptions of legitimacy —
(a) Children born after one hundred eighty days following the celebration of the
marriage, and before three hundred days following its dissolution or the separation of
the spouses shall be presumed legitimate.
Against presumption no evidence be admitted other than that of the physical
impossibility of the husband's having access to his wife within the first one hundred and
twenty days of the three hundred which preceded the birth of the child.
This physical impossibility may be caused:
[1] By the impotence of the husband
[2] By the fact that the husband and the wife were living separately, in such a way that
access was not possible;
[3] By the serious illness of the husband;
(b) The child shall be presumed legitimate although the mother may have declared
against its legitimacy or may have been sentenced as an adulteress.
(c) Should the wife commit adultery at or about the time of the conception of the child,
but there was no physical impossibility of access between her and her husband as set
forth above, the child is presumed legitimate, unless it appears highly improbable, for
ethnic reasons, that the child is that of the husband. For the purpose of the rule, the
wife's adultery need not be proved in a criminal case. ... (Rule 131, Rules of Court).
Whether or not respondent and her husband were separated would be immaterial to the resolution of
the status of the child Rolando. What should really matter is the fact that during the initial one hundred
twenty days of the three hundred which preceded the birth of the renamed child, no concrete or even
substantial proof was presented to establish physical impossibility of access between respondent and
her spouse. From her very revealing testimony, respondent declared that she was bringing two sacks of
rice to Samal for her children; that her four children by her husband in her mother's house in the said
town; that her alleged estranged husband also lived in her mother's place (p. 73, pp. 21 & 22, 64 & 65,
t.s.n., Sept. 21, 1972). It should also be noted that even during her affair with petitioner and right after
her delivery, respondent went to her mother's house in Samal for treatment. Thus, in the direct
examination of Patrocinia Avila (the boy's yaya), the following came out:
Q — Why were you taking care of the child Rolando, where was
Elizabeth Mejias?
A — Because Elizabeth went to her parents in Same Davao del Norte for
treatment because she had a relapse (p. 13, t.s.n., of Sept. 21, 1972).
From the foregoing and since respondent and her husband continued to live in the same province, the
fact remains that there was always the possibility of access to each other. As has already been pointed
out, respondent's self-serving statements were never corroborated nor confirmed by any other
evidence, more particularly that of her husband.
The baby boy subject of this controversy was born on October 30, 1967, only seven (7) months after
March, 1967 when the "incident" or first illicit intercourse between respondent and petitioner took
place, and also, seven months from their separation (if there really was a separation). It must be noted
that as of March, 1967, respondent and Crispin Anahaw had already four children; hence, they had been
married years before such date (t.s.n., pp. 21-22, Sept. 21, 1972). The birth of Rolando came more than
one hundred eighty 180 days following the celebration of the said marriage and before 300 days
following the alleged separation between aforenamed spouses.
Under the aforequoted Article 255 of the Civil Code, the child Rolando is conclusively presumed to be
the legitimate son of respondent and her husband.
The fact that the child was born a mere seven (7) months after the initial sexual contact between
petitioner and respondent is another proof that the said child was not of petitioner since, from
indications, he came out as a normal full-term baby.
It must be stressed that the child under question has no birth certificate of Baptism (attached in the List
of Exhibits) which was prepared in the absence of the alleged father [petitioner]. Note again that he was
born on October 30, 1967. Between March, 1967 and October 30, 1967, the time difference is clearly 7
months. The baby Rolando could have been born prematurely. But such is not the case. Respondent
underwent a normal nine-month pregnancy. Respondent herself and the yaya, Patrocinia Avila, declared
that the baby was born in the rented house at Carpenter Street, which birth was obvisouly normal; that
he was such a healthy baby that barely 5 days after his birth, he was already cared for by said yaya when
respondent became sick (pp. 28, 29 & 43, t.s.n., Sept. 21, 1972); and that when he was between 15 days
and 2 months of age, respondent left him to the care of the yaya when the former left for Samal for
treatment and returned only in February, 1968 (pp. 30-32, t.s.n., Sept. 21, 1972). From the aforestated
facts, it can be indubitably said that the child was a full-term baby at birth, normally delivered, and
raised normally by the yaya. If it were otherwise or if he were born prematurely, he would have needed
special care like being placed in an incubator in a clinic or hospital and attended to by a physician, not
just a mere yaya. These all point to the fact that the baby who was born on October 30, 1967 or 7
months from the first sexual encounter between petitioner and respondent was conceived as early as
January, 1967. How then could he be the child of petitioner?
In Our jurisprudence, this Court has been more definite in its pronouncements on the value of baptismal
certificates. It thus ruled that while baptismal and marriage certificates may be considered public
documents, they are evidence only to prove the administration of the sacraments on the dates therein
specified — but not the veracity of the states or declarations made therein with respect to his kinsfolk
and/or citizenship (Paa vs. Chan, L-25945, Oct. 31, 1967). Again, in the case of Fortus vs. Novero (L-
22378, 23 SCRA 1331 [1968]), this Court held that a baptismal administered, in conformity with the rites
of the Catholic Church by the priest who baptized the child, but it does not prove the veracity of the
declarations and statements contained in the certificate that concern the relationship of the person
baptized. Such declarations and statements, in order that their truth may be admitted, must
indispensably be shown by proof recognized by law.
The child Rolando is presumed to be the legitimate son of respondent and her spouse. This presumption
becomes conclusive in the absence of proof that there was physical impossibility of access between the
spouses in the first 120 days of the 300 which preceded the birth of the child. This presumption is
actually quasi-conclusive and may be rebutted or refuted by only one evidence — the physical
impossibility of access between husband and wife within the first 120 days of the 300 which preceded
the birth of the child. This physical impossibility of access may be caused by any of these:
1. Impotence of the husband;
2. Living separately in such a way that access was impossible and
3. Serious illness of the husband.
This presumption of legitimacy is based on the assumption that there is sexual union in marriage,
particularly during the period of conception. Hence, proof of the physical impossibility of such sexual
union prevents the application of the presumption (Tolentino, Commentaries & Jurisprudence on the
Civil Code, Vol. 1, p. 513 citing Bevilaqua, Familia p. 311).
The modern rule is that, in order to overthrow the presumption of legitimacy, it must be shown beyond
reasonable doubt that there was no access as could have enabled the husband to be the father of the
child. Sexual intercourse is to be presumed where personal access is not disproved, unless such
presumption is rebutted by evidence to the contrary; where sexual intercourse is presumed or proved,
the husband must be taken to be the father of the child (Tolentino, citing Madden, Persons and
Domestic Relations, pp. 340-341).
To defeat the presumption of legitimacy, therefore, there must be physical impossibility of access by the
husband to the wife during the period of conception. The law expressly refers to physical impossibility.
Hence, a circumstance which makes sexual relations improbable, cannot defeat the presumption of
legitimacy; but it may be proved as a circumstance to corroborate proof of physical impossibility of
access (Tolentino, citing Bonet 352; 4 Valverde 408).
Impotence refers to the inability of the male organ to copulation, to perform its proper function
(Bouvier's Law Dictionary 514). As defined in the celebrated case of Menciano vs. San Jose (89 Phil. 63),
impotency is the physical inability to have sexual intercourse. It is not synonymous with sterility. Sterility
refers to the inability to procreate, whereas, impotence refers to the physical inability to perform the act
of sexual intercourse. In respect of the impotency of the husband of the mother of a child, to overcome
the presumption of legitimacy on conception or birth in wedlock or to show illegitimacy, it has been held
or recognized that the evidence or proof must be clear or satisfactory: clear, satisfactory and convincing,
irresistible or positive (S.C. — Tarleton vs. Thompson, 118 S.E. 421, 125 SC 182, cited in 10 C.J.S. 50).
The separation between the spouses must be such as to make sexual access impossible. This may take
place when they reside in different countries or provinces, and they have never been together during
the period of conception (Estate of Benito Marcelo, 60 Phil. 442). Or, the husband may be in prison
during the period of conception, unless it appears that sexual union took place through corrupt violation
of or allowed by prison regulations (1 Manresa 492-500).
The illness of the husband must be of such a nature as to exclude the possibility of his having sexual
intercourse with his wife; such as, when because of a injury, he was placed in a plaster cast, and it was
inconceivable to have sexual intercourse without the most severe pain (Tolentino, citing Commissioner
vs. Hotel 256 App. Div. 352, 9 N.Y. Supp. p. 515); or the illness produced temporary or permanent
impotence, making copulation impossible (Tolentino, citing Q. Bonet 352).
Thus, in the case of Andal vs. Macaraig (89 Phil. 165), this Court ruled that just because tuberculosis is
advanced in a man does not necessarily mean that he is incapable of sexual intercourse. There are cases
where persons suffering from tuberculosis can do the carnal act even in the most crucial stage of health
because then they seemed to be more inclined to sexual intercourse. The fact that the wife had illicit
intercourse with a man other than her husband during the initial period, does not preclude cohabitation
between said husband and wife.
Significantly American courts have made definite pronouncements or rulings on the issues under
consideration. The policy of the law is to confer legitimacy upon children born in wedlock when access
of the husband at the time of conception was not impossible (N.Y. Milone vs. Milone, 290 N.Y. S. 863,
160 Misc. 830) and there is the presumption that a child so born is the child of the husband and is
legitimate even though the wife was guilty of infidelity during the possible period of conception (N.Y.
Dieterich vs. Dieterich, 278 N.Y. S. 645, Misc. 714; both cited in 10 C.J.S., pp. 18,19 & 20).
So firm was this presumption originally that it cannot be rebutted unless the husband was incapable of
procreation or was absent beyond the four seas, that is, absent from the realm, during the whole period
of the wife's pregnancy (10 C.J.S. p. 20).
The presumption of legitimacy of children born during wedlock obtains, notwithstanding the husband
and wife voluntarily separate and live apart, unless the contrary is shown (Ala. Franks vs. State, 161 So.
549, 26 . App. 430) and this includes children born after the separation [10 C.J.S. pp. 23 & 24; emphasis
supplied].
It must be stressed that Article 256 of the Civil Code which provides that the child is presumed
legitimate although the mother may have declared against its legitimacy or may have been sentenced as
an adulteress has been adopted for two solid reasons. First, in a fit of anger, or to arouse jealousy in the
husband, the wife may have made this declaration (Power vs. State, 95 N.E., 660). Second, the article is
established as a guaranty in favor of the children whose condition should not be under the mercy of the
passions of their parents. The husband whose honor if offended, that is, being aware of his wife's
adultery, may obtain from the guilty spouse by means of coercion, a confession against the legitimacy of
the child which may really be only a confession of her guilt. Or the wife, out of vengeance and spite, may
declare the as not her husband's although the statement be false. But there is another reason which is
more powerful, demanding the exclusion of proof of confession or adultery, and it is, that at the
moment of conception, it cannot be determined when a woman cohabits during the same period with
two men, by whom the child was begotten, it being possible that it be the husband himself (Manresa,
Vol. I, pp. 503-504).
Hence, in general, good morals and public policy require that a mother should not be permitted to
assert the illegitimacy of a child born in wedlock in order to obtain some benefit for herself (N.Y. — Flint
vs. Pierce, 136 N.Y. S. 1056, cited in 10 C.J.S. 77).
The law is not willing that the child be declared illegitimate to suit the whims and purposes of either
parent, nor Merely upon evidence that no actual act of sexual intercourse occurred between husband
and wife at or about the time the wife became pregnant. Thus, where the husband denies having any
intercourse with his wife, the child was still presumed legitimate (Lynn vs. State, 47 Ohio App. 158,191
N.E. 100).
With respect to Article 257 aforequoted, it must be emphasized that adultery on the part of the wife, in
itself, cannot destroy the presumption of legitimacy of her child, because it is still possible that the child
is that of the husband (Tolentino, citing 1 Vera 170; 4 Borja 23-24).
It has, therefore, been held that the admission of the wife's testimony on the point would be unseemly
and scandalous, not only because it reveals immoral conduct on her part, but also because of the effect
it may have on the child, who is in no fault, but who nevertheless must be the chief sufferer thereby (7
Am. Jur. Sec. 21, pp. 641-642).
In the case of a child born or conceived in wedlock, evidence of the infidelity or adultery of the wife and
mother is not admissible to show illegitimacy, if there is no proof of the husband's impotency or non-
access to his wife (Iowa — Craven vs. Selway, 246 N.W. 821, cited in 10 C.J.S. 36).
At this juncture, it must be pointed out that only the husband can contest the legitimacy of a child born
to his wife. He is the one directly confronted with the scandal and ridicule which the infidelity of his wife
produces; and he should decide whether to conceal that infidelity or expose it, in view of the moral or
economic interest involved (Tolentino, citing Bevilaqua, Familia, p. 314).
The right to repudiate or contest the legitimacy of a child born in wedlock belongs only to the alleged
father, who is the husband of the mother and can be exercised only by him or his heirs, within a fixed
time, and in certain cases, and only in a direct suit brought for the purpose (La — Ducasse vs. Ducasse,
45 So. 565, 120 La. 731; Saloy's Succ. 10 So. 872, 44 La. Ann., cited in 10 C.J.S. 77; emphasis supplied).
Thus the mother has no right to disavow a child because maternity is never uncertain; she can only
contest the Identity of the child (La — Eloi vs. Mader, 1 Rollo. 581, 38 Am. D. 192).
Formerly, declarations of a wife that her husband was not the father of a child in wedlock were held to
be admissible in evidence; but the general rule now is that they are inadmissible to bastardize the child,
regardless of statutory provisions obviating incompetency on the ground of interest, or the fact that the
conception was antenuptial. The rule is said to be founded in decency, morality and public policy
(Wallace vs. Wallace 137 Iowa 37,114 N.W. 527,14 L.R.A. [N.S.] 544,126 Am. St. Rep. 253,15 Ann. Cas.
761, Am. Jur. 26).
From the foregoing, particularly the testimony of respondent and her witnesses, this Court has every
reason to believe that Crispin Anahaw was not actually separated from Elizabeth Mejias; that he was a
very potent man, having had four children with his wife; that even if he and were even separately (which
the latter failed to prove anyway) and assuming, for argument's sake, that they were really separated,
there was the possibility of physical access to each other considering their proximity to each other and
considering further that respondent still visited and recuperated in her mother's house in Samal where
her spouse resided with her children. Moreover, Crispin Anahaw did not have any serious illness or any
illness whatsoever which would have rendered him incapable of having sexual act with his wife. No
substantial evidence whatsoever was brought out to negate the aforestated facts.
Crispin Anahaw served as a refuge after respondent's reckless and immoral pursuits or a "buffer" after
her flings. And she deliberately did not include nor present her husband in this case because she could
not risk her scheme. She had to be certain that such scheme to bastardize her own son for her selfish
motives would not be thwarted.
This Court finds no other recourse except to deny respondent's claim to declare her son Rolando the
illegitimate child of petitioner. From all indications, respondent has paraded herself as a woman of
highly questionable character. A married woman who, on first meeting, rides with a total stranger who
is married towards nightfall, sleeps in his house in the presence of his children, then lives with him after
their initial sexual contact — the atmosphere for which she herself provided — is patently immoral and
hedonistic. Although her husband was a very potent man, she readily indulged in an instant illicit
relationship with a married man she had never known before.
Respondent had shown total lack of or genuine concern for her child (Rolando) for, even after birth, she
left him in the care of a yaya for several months. This is not the normal instinct and behavior of a
mother who has the safety and welfare of her child foremost in her mind. The filing of this case itself
shows how she is capable of sacrificing the psycho-social future (reputation) of the child in exchange for
some monetary consideration. This is blatant shamelessness.
It also appears that her claim against petitioner is a disguised attempt to evade the responsibility and
consequence of her reckless behavior at the expense of her husband, her illicit lover and above all — her
own son. For this Court to allow, much less consent to, the bastardization of respondent's son would
give rise to serious and far-reaching consequences on society. This Court will not tolerate scheming
married women who would indulge in illicit affairs with married men and then exploit the children born
during such immoral relations by using them to collect from such moneyed paramours. This would be
the form of wrecking the stability of two families. This would be a severe assault on morality.
And as between the paternity by the husband and the paternity by the paramour, all the circumstances
being equal, the law is inclined to follow the former; hence, the child is thus given the benefit of
legitimacy.
Finally, Article 220 of the Civil Code reinforces the aforesaid principle when it provides thus:
Art. 220. In case of doubt, an presumptions favor the solidarity of the family. Thus, every
of law or facts leans toward the validity of marriage, the indissolubility of the marriage
bonds, the legitimacy of children the community of property during marriage, the
authority of parents over their children, and the validity of defense for any member of
the family in case of unlawful aggression.
WHEREFORE, THE DECISION OF THE COURT OF APPEALS DATED JUNE 2, 1978, AND ITS RESOLUTION
DATED NOVEMBER 6, 1978 ARE HEREBY REVERSED AND SET ASIDE. COSTS AGAINST PRIVATE
RESPONDENT.
SO ORDERED.
Teehankee (Chairman), Fernandez, Guerrero, De Castro and Melencio-Herrera, JJ., concur.

THIRD DIVISION
[G.R. No. 123450. August 31, 2005]
GERARDO B. CONCEPCION, petitioner, vs. COURT OF APPEALS and MA. THERESA
ALMONTE, respondents.
DECISION
CORONA, J.:
The child, by reason of his mental and physical immaturity, needs special safeguard and care,
including appropriate legal protection before as well as after birth.[1] In case of assault on his rights by
those who take advantage of his innocence and vulnerability, the law will rise in his defense with the
single-minded purpose of upholding only his best interests.
This is the story of petitioner Gerardo B. Concepcion and private respondent Ma. Theresa Almonte,
and a child named Jose Gerardo. Gerardo and Ma. Theresa were married on December 29, 1989. [2] After
their marriage, they lived with Ma. Theresas parents in Fairview, Quezon City.[3] Almost a year later, on
December 8, 1990, Ma. Theresa gave birth to Jose Gerardo.[4]
Gerardo and Ma. Theresas relationship turned out to be short-lived, however. On December 19,
1991, Gerardo filed a petition to have his marriage to Ma. Theresa annulled on the ground of bigamy.[5] He
alleged that nine years before he married Ma. Theresa on December 10, 1980, she had married one Mario
Gopiao, which marriage was never annulled.[6] Gerardo also found out that Mario was still alive and was
residing in Loyola Heights, Quezon City.[7]
Ma. Theresa did not deny marrying Mario when she was twenty years old. She, however, averred
that the marriage was a sham and that she never lived with Mario at all.[8]
The trial court ruled that Ma. Theresas marriage to Mario was valid and subsisting when she married
Gerardo and annulled her marriage to the latter for being bigamous. It declared Jose Gerardo to be an
illegitimate child as a result. The custody of the child was awarded to Ma. Theresa while Gerardo was
granted visitation rights.[9]
Ma. Theresa felt betrayed and humiliated when Gerardo had their marriage annulled. She held him
responsible for the bastardization of Gerardo. She moved for the reconsideration of the above decision
INSOFAR ONLY as that portion of the decision which grant(ed) to the petitioner so-called visitation rights
between the hours of 8 in the morning to 12:00 p.m. of any Sunday.[10] She argued that there was nothing
in the law granting visitation rights in favor of the putative father of an illegitimate child.[11]She further
maintained that Jose Gerardos surname should be changed from Concepcion to Almonte, her maiden
name, following the rule that an illegitimate child shall use the mothers surname.
Gerardo opposed the motion. He insisted on his visitation rights and the retention of Concepcion as
Jose Gerardos surname.
Applying the best interest of the child principle, the trial court denied Ma. Theresas motion and made
the following observations:
It is a pity that the parties herein seem to be using their son to get at or to hurt the other, something
they should never do if they want to assure the normal development and well-being of the boy.
The Court allowed visitorial rights to the father knowing that the minor needs a father, especially as he
is a boy, who must have a father figure to recognize something that the mother alone cannot give.
Moreover, the Court believes that the emotional and psychological well-being of the boy would be
better served if he were allowed to maintain relationships with his father.
There being no law which compels the Court to act one way or the other on this matter, the Court
invokes the provision of Art. 8, PD 603 as amended, otherwise known as the Child and Youth Welfare
Code, to wit:
In all questions regarding the care, custody, education and property of the child, his welfare shall be the
paramount consideration.
WHEREFORE, the respondents Motion for Reconsideration has to be, as it is hereby DENIED.[12]
Ma. Theresa elevated the case to the Court of Appeals, assigning as error the ruling of the trial court
granting visitation rights to Gerardo. She likewise opposed the continued use of Gerardos surname
(Concepcion) despite the fact that Jose Gerardo had already been declared illegitimate and should
therefore use her surname (Almonte). The appellate court denied the petition and affirmed in toto the
decision of the trial court.[13]
On the issue raised by Ma. Theresa that there was nothing in the law that granted a putative father
visitation rights over his illegitimate child, the appellate court affirmed the best interest of the child policy
invoked by the court a quo. It ruled that [a]t bottom, it (was) the childs welfare and not the convenience
of the parents which (was) the primary consideration in granting visitation rights a few hours once a
week.[14]
The appellate court likewise held that an illegitimate child cannot use the mothers surname motu
proprio. The child, represented by the mother, should file a separate proceeding for a change of name
under Rule 103 of the Rules of Court to effect the correction in the civil registry.[15]
Undaunted, Ma. Theresa moved for the reconsideration of the adverse decision of the appellate
court. She also filed a motion to set the case for oral arguments so that she could better ventilate the
issues involved in the controversy.
After hearing the oral arguments of the respective counsels of the parties, the appellate court
resolved the motion for reconsideration. It reversed its earlier ruling and held that Jose Gerardo was not
the son of Ma. Theresa by Gerardo but by Mario during her first marriage:
It is, therefore, undeniable established by the evidence in this case that the appellant [Ma. Theresa] was
married to Mario Gopiao, and that she had never entered into a lawful marriage with the appellee
[Gerardo] since the so-called marriage with the latter was void ab initio. It was [Gerardo] himself who
had established these facts. In other words, [Ma. Theresa] was legitimately married to Mario Gopiao
when the child Jose Gerardo was born on December 8, 1990. Therefore, the child Jose Gerardo under
the law is the legitimate child of the legal and subsisting marriage between [Ma. Theresa] and Mario
Gopiao; he cannot be deemed to be the illegitimate child of the void and non-existent marriage
between [Ma. Theresa] and [Gerardo], but is said by the law to be the child of the legitimate and
existing marriage between [Ma. Theresa] and Mario Gopiao (Art. 164, Family Code). Consequently, [she]
is right in firmly saying that [Gerardo] can claim neither custody nor visitorial rights over the child Jose
Gerardo. Further, [Gerardo] cannot impose his name upon the child. Not only is it without legal basis
(even supposing the child to be his illegitimate child [Art. 146, The Family Code]); it would tend to
destroy the existing marriage between [Ma. Theresa] and Gopiao, would prevent any possible
rapproachment between the married couple, and would mean a judicial seal upon an illegitimate
relationship.[16]
The appellate court brushed aside the common admission of Gerardo and Ma. Theresa that Jose
Gerardo was their son. It gave little weight to Jose Gerardos birth certificate showing that he was born a
little less than a year after Gerardo and Ma. Theresa were married:
We are not unaware of the movants argument that various evidence exist that appellee and the
appellant have judicially admitted that the minor is their natural child. But, in the same vein, We cannot
overlook the fact that Article 167 of the Family Code mandates:
The child shall be considered legitimate although the mother may have declared against its legitimacy or
may have been sentenced as an adulteress. (underscoring ours)
Thus, implicit from the above provision is the fact that a minor cannot be deprived of his/her legitimate
status on the bare declaration of the mother and/or even much less, the supposed father. In fine, the
law and only the law determines who are the legitimate or illegitimate children for ones legitimacy or
illegitimacy cannot ever be compromised. Not even the birth certificate of the minor can change his
status for the information contained therein are merely supplied by the mother and/or the supposed
father. It should be what the law says and not what a parent says it is.[17] (Emphasis supplied)
Shocked and stunned, Gerardo moved for a reconsideration of the above decision but the same was
denied.[18] Hence, this appeal.
The status and filiation of a child cannot be compromised.[19] Article 164 of the Family Code is clear.
A child who is conceived or born during the marriage of his parents is legitimate.[20]
As a guaranty in favor of the child[21] and to protect his status of legitimacy, Article 167 of the Family
Code provides:
Article 167. The child shall be considered legitimate although the mother may have declared against its
legitimacy or may have been sentenced as an adulteress.
The law requires that every reasonable presumption be made in favor of legitimacy.[22] We explained
the rationale of this rule in the recent case of Cabatania v. Court of Appeals[23]:
The presumption of legitimacy does not only flow out of a declaration in the statute but is based on the
broad principles of natural justice and the supposed virtue of the mother. It is grounded on the policy to
protect the innocent offspring from the odium of illegitimacy.
Gerardo invokes Article 166 (1)(b)[24] of the Family Code. He cannot. He has no standing in law to
dispute the status of Jose Gerardo. Only Ma. Theresas husband Mario or, in a proper case,[25] his heirs,
who can contest the legitimacy of the child Jose Gerardo born to his wife.[26] Impugning the legitimacy of
a child is a strictly personal right of the husband or, in exceptional cases, his heirs.[27] Since the marriage
of Gerardo and Ma. Theresa was void from the very beginning, he never became her husband and thus
never acquired any right to impugn the legitimacy of her child.
The presumption of legitimacy proceeds from the sexual union in marriage, particularly during the
period of conception.[28] To overthrow this presumption on the basis of Article 166 (1)(b) of the Family
Code, it must be shown beyond reasonable doubt that there was no access that could have enabled the
husband to father the child.[29]Sexual intercourse is to be presumed where personal access is not
disproved, unless such presumption is rebutted by evidence to the contrary.[30]
The presumption is quasi-conclusive and may be refuted only by the evidence of physical
impossibility of coitus between husband and wife within the first 120 days of the 300 days which
immediately preceded the birth of the child.[31]
To rebut the presumption, the separation between the spouses must be such as to make marital
intimacy impossible.[32] This may take place, for instance, when they reside in different countries or
provinces and they were never together during the period of conception.[33] Or, the husband was in prison
during the period of conception, unless it appears that sexual union took place through the violation of
prison regulations.[34]
Here, during the period that Gerardo and Ma. Theresa were living together in Fairview, Quezon City,
Mario was living in Loyola Heights which is also in Quezon City. Fairview and Loyola Heights are only a
scant four kilometers apart.
Not only did both Ma. Theresa and Mario reside in the same city but also that no evidence at all was
presented to disprove personal access between them. Considering these circumstances, the separation
between Ma. Theresa and her lawful husband, Mario, was certainly not such as to make it physically
impossible for them to engage in the marital act.
Sexual union between spouses is assumed. Evidence sufficient to defeat the assumption should be
presented by him who asserts the contrary. There is no such evidence here. Thus, the presumption of
legitimacy in favor of Jose Gerardo, as the issue of the marriage between Ma. Theresa and Mario, stands.
Gerardo relies on Ma. Theresas statement in her answer[35] to the petition for annulment of
marriage[36] that she never lived with Mario. He claims this was an admission that there was never any
sexual relation between her and Mario, an admission that was binding on her.
Gerardos argument is without merit.
First, the import of Ma. Theresas statement is that Jose Gerardo is not her legitimate son with Mario
but her illegitimate son with Gerardo. This declaration ― an avowal by the mother that her child is
illegitimate ― is the very declaration that is proscribed by Article 167 of the Family Code.
The language of the law is unmistakable. An assertion by the mother against the legitimacy of her
child cannot affect the legitimacy of a child born or conceived within a valid marriage.
Second, even assuming the truth of her statement, it does not mean that there was never an instance
where Ma. Theresa could have been together with Mario or that there occurred absolutely no intercourse
between them. All she said was that she never lived with Mario. She never claimed that nothing ever
happened between them.
Telling is the fact that both of them were living in Quezon City during the time material to Jose
Gerardos conception and birth. Far from foreclosing the possibility of marital intimacy, their proximity to
each other only serves to reinforce such possibility. Thus, the impossibility of physical access was never
established beyond reasonable doubt.
Third, to give credence to Ma. Theresas statement is to allow her to arrogate unto herself a right
exclusively lodged in the husband, or in a proper case, his heirs.[37] A mother has no right to disavow a
child because maternity is never uncertain.[38] Hence, Ma. Theresa is not permitted by law to question
Jose Gerardos legitimacy.
Finally, for reasons of public decency and morality, a married woman cannot say that she had no
intercourse with her husband and that her offspring is illegitimate.[39]The proscription is in consonance
with the presumption in favor of family solidarity. It also promotes the intention of the law to lean toward
the legitimacy of children.[40]
Gerardos insistence that the filiation of Jose Gerardo was never an issue both in the trial court and
in the appellate court does not hold water. The fact that both Ma. Theresa and Gerardo admitted and
agreed that Jose Gerardo was born to them was immaterial. That was, in effect, an agreement that the
child was illegitimate. If the Court were to validate that stipulation, then it would be tantamount to
allowing the mother to make a declaration against the legitimacy of her child and consenting to the denial
of filiation of the child by persons other than her husband. These are the very acts from which the law
seeks to shield the child.
Public policy demands that there be no compromise on the status and filiation of a
child.[41] Otherwise, the child will be at the mercy of those who may be so minded to exploit his
defenselessness.
The reliance of Gerardo on Jose Gerardos birth certificate is misplaced. It has no evidentiary value in
this case because it was not offered in evidence before the trial court. The rule is that the court shall not
consider any evidence which has not been formally offered.[42]
Moreover, the law itself establishes the status of a child from the moment of his birth.[43] Although a
record of birth or birth certificate may be used as primary evidence of the filiation of a child, [44] as the
status of a child is determined by the law itself, proof of filiation is necessary only when the legitimacy of
the child is being questioned, or when the status of a child born after 300 days following the termination
of marriage is sought to be established.[45]
Here, the status of Jose Gerardo as a legitimate child was not under attack as it could not be
contested collaterally and, even then, only by the husband or, in extraordinary cases, his heirs. Hence, the
presentation of proof of legitimacy in this case was improper and uncalled for.
In addition, a record of birth is merely prima facie evidence of the facts contained therein.[46] As prima
facie evidence, the statements in the record of birth may be rebutted by more preponderant evidence. It
is not conclusive evidence with respect to the truthfulness of the statements made therein by the
interested parties.[47] Between the certificate of birth which is prima facie evidence of Jose Gerardos
illegitimacy and the quasi-conclusive presumption of law (rebuttable only by proof beyond reasonable
doubt) of his legitimacy, the latter shall prevail. Not only does it bear more weight, it is also more
conducive to the best interests of the child and in consonance with the purpose of the law.
It perplexes us why both Gerardo and Ma. Theresa would doggedly press for Jose Gerardos
illegitimacy while claiming that they both had the childs interests at heart. The law, reason and common
sense dictate that a legitimate status is more favorable to the child. In the eyes of the law, the legitimate
child enjoys a preferred and superior status. He is entitled to bear the surnames of both his father and
mother, full support and full inheritance.[48] On the other hand, an illegitimate child is bound to use the
surname and be under the parental authority only of his mother. He can claim support only from a more
limited group and his legitime is only half of that of his legitimate counterpart.[49] Moreover (without
unwittingly exacerbating the discrimination against him), in the eyes of society, a bastard is usually
regarded as bearing a stigma or mark of dishonor. Needless to state, the legitimacy presumptively vested
by law upon Jose Gerardo favors his interest.
It is unfortunate that Jose Gerardo was used as a pawn in the bitter squabble between the very
persons who were passionately declaring their concern for him. The paradox was that he was made to
suffer supposedly for his own sake. This madness should end.
This case has been pending for a very long time already. What is specially tragic is that an innocent
child is involved. Jose Gerardo was barely a year old when these proceedings began. He is now almost
fifteen and all this time he has been a victim of incessant bickering. The law now comes to his aid to write
finis to the controversy which has unfairly hounded him since his infancy.
Having only his best interests in mind, we uphold the presumption of his legitimacy.
As a legitimate child, Jose Gerardo shall have the right to bear the surnames of his father Mario and
mother Ma. Theresa, in conformity with the provisions of the Civil Code on surnames.[50] A persons
surname or family name identifies the family to which he belongs and is passed on from parent to
child.[51] Hence, Gerardo cannot impose his surname on Jose Gerardo who is, in the eyes of the law, not
related to him in any way.
The matter of changing Jose Gerardos name and effecting the corrections of the entries in the civil
register regarding his paternity and filiation should be threshed out in a separate proceeding.
In case of annulment or declaration of absolute nullity of marriage, Article 49 of the Family Code
grants visitation rights to a parent who is deprived of custody of his children. Such visitation rights flow
from the natural right of both parent and child to each others company. There being no such parent-child
relationship between them, Gerardo has no legally demandable right to visit Jose Gerardo.
Our laws seek to promote the welfare of the child. Article 8 of PD 603, otherwise known as the Child
and Youth Welfare Code, is clear and unequivocal:
Article 8. Childs Welfare Paramount. In all questions regarding the care, custody, education and property
of the child, his welfare shall be the paramount consideration.
Article 3 (1) of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of a Child of which the Philippines is a
signatory is similarly emphatic:
Article 3
1. In all actions concerning children, whether undertaken by public or private social welfare
institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities or legislative bodies, the best
interests of the child shall be a primary consideration.
The State as parens patriae affords special protection to children from abuse, exploitation and other
conditions prejudicial to their development. It is mandated to provide protection to those of tender
years.[52] Through its laws, the State safeguards them from every one, even their own parents, to the end
that their eventual development as responsible citizens and members of society shall not be impeded,
distracted or impaired by family acrimony. This is especially significant where, as in this case, the issue
concerns their filiation as it strikes at their very identity and lineage.
WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DENIED. The September 14, 1995 and January 10, 1996
resolutions of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 40651 are hereby AFFIRMED.
Costs against petitioner.
SO ORDERED.
Panganiban, (Chairman), Sandoval-Gutierrez, and Garcia, JJ., concur.
Carpio-Morales, J., no part.

[1]
Universal Declaration of the Rights of the Child.
[2]
Marriage Contract, Annex A, Rollo, p. 41.
[3]
Decision, Annex E, Rollo, pp. 46-48.
[4]
Certificate of Live Birth, Annex M, Rollo, p. 127.
[5]
Petition, Annex C, Rollo, pp. 38-40.
[6]
Marriage Certificate, Annex B-1, Rollo, p. 43.
[7]
Supra at note 5.
[8]
Answer, Annex D, Rollo, pp. 44-45.
[9]
Penned by Judge (now Court of Appeals Justice) Delilah Vidallon-Magtolis, CC No. 91-10935, Regional
Trial Court, National Capital Judicial Region, Branch 107, Quezon City, Annex E, Rollo, p. 46.
[10]
Motion for Reconsideration, Annex F, Rollo, p. 49.
[11]
Id., p. 61.
[12]
Order, Annex G, Rollo, pp. 53-54.
[13]
Penned by Associate Justice Ramon A. Barcelona and concurred in by Associate Justices Arturo B. Buena
(a retired Associate Justice of the Supreme Court) and Serafin V.C. Guingona. Decision dated
September 29, 1994, CA-G.R. CV No. 40651, Court of Appeals, Third Division; CA Rollo, pp. 55-64.
[14]
Id.
[15]
Id.
[16]
Penned by Associate Justice Ramon A. Barcelona and concurred in by Associate Justices Arturo M.
Buena and Conchita Carpio Morales (now an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court). Resolution
dated September 14, 1995, CA-G.R. CV No. 40651, Court of Appeals, Former Third Division; Rollo,
Annex A, pp. 29-32.
[17]
Id.
[18]
Resolution dated January 10, 1996, CA-G.R. CV No. 40651, Court of Appeals, Former Third
Division; Rollo, Annex B, pp. 34-37.
[19]
Article 2035 (1), Civil Code; Baluyut v. Baluyut, G.R. No. 33659, 14 June 1990, 186 SCRA 506.
[20]
Further, under Article 54 of the Family Code, a child who was conceived or born before the judgment
of annulment or of absolute nullity of the marriage on the ground of psychological incapacity has
become final and executory shall be considered legitimate. It also provides that a child who was
born from a subsequent void marriage as a result of the failure of the contracting parties to
comply with the mandatory provisions of Articles 52 and 53 of the Family Code shall likewise be
considered legitimate.
[21]
Tolentino, Arturo, Civil Code of the Philippines with the Family Code, Commentaries and Jurisprudence,
vol. I, 1990 edition, p. 528.
[22]
Bowers v. Bailey, 237 Iowa 295, 21 N.W. 2d 773.
[23]
G.R. No. 124814, October 21, 2004.
[24]
In particular, Article 166 (1)(b) provides:
Article 166. Legitimacy of a child may be impugned only on the following grounds:
(1) That it was physically impossible for the husband to have sexual intercourse with his wife
within the first 120 days of the 300 days which immediately preceded the birth of the child
because of:
xxxxxxxxx
(b) the fact that the husband and wife were living separately in such a way that sexual
intercourse was not possible; or
xxxxxxxxx
[25]
Article 171 provides for the instances where the heirs of the husband may impugn the filiation of the
child. Thus:
Article 171. The heirs of the husband may impugn the filiation of the child within the period
prescribed in the preceding article only in the following cases:
(1) If the husband should die before the expiration of the period fixed for bringing his action;
(2) If he should die after the filing of the complaint without having desisted therefrom; or
(3) If the child was born after the death of the husband.
[26]
Macadangdang v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. L-49542, 12 September 1980, 100 SCRA 73; Article 170,
Family Code.
[27]
Liyao, Jr. v. Liyao, 428 Phil. 628 (2002).
[28]
Supra at note 21 citing People v. Giberson, 197 Phil. 509 (1982).
[29]
Supra at note 26.
[30]
Id. citing Tolentino supra.
[31]
Id.
[32]
Id.
[33]
Id. citing Estate of Benito Marcelo, 60 Phil. 442 (1934).
[34]
Id. citing 1 Manresa 492-500.
[35]
Supra at note 8.
[36]
Supra at note 5.
[37]
Supra at note 26. See also Articles 170 and 171, Family Code.
[38]
Id.
[39]
People ex rel. Gonzales v. Monroe, 43 Ill. App 2d 1, 192 N.E. 2d 691.
[40]
Cf. Article 220 of the Civil Code. It provides:
Art. 220. In case of doubt, all presumptions favor the solidarity of the family. Thus, every
intendment of law or fact leans toward the validity of marriage, the indissolubility of the marriage
bonds, the legitimacy of children, the community of property during marriage, the authority of
parents over the children, and the validity of defense for any member of family in case of unlawful
aggression.
While this provision of the Civil Code may have been omitted in the Family Code, the principles
they contain are valid norms in family relations and in cases involving family members. They are
even already embodied in jurisprudence. (Tolentino, supra, p. 506)
[41]
Supra at note 19.
[42]
Section 34, Rule 132, Rules of Court.
[43]
Tolentino, supra, p. 539; Sempio-Diy, Alicia, Handbook on the Family Code of the Philippines, 1995
edition, p. 275.
[44]
Articles 172 and 175, Family Code. Article 172 states:
Article 172. The filiation of legitimate children is established by any of the following:
(1) The record of birth appearing in the civil register or a final judgment; or
(2) An admission of legitimate filiation in a public document or a private handwritten instrument
and signed by the parent concerned.
In the absence of the foregoing evidence, the legitimate filiation shall be proved by:
(1) The open and continuous possession of the status of a legitimate child; or
(2) Any other means allowed by the Rules of Court and special laws.
On the other hand, Article 175 provides:
Article 175. Illegitimate children may establish their illegitimate filiation in the same way and on
the same evidence as legitimate children.
xxxxxxxxx
[45]
Cf. Article 169, Family Code.
[46]
Article 410, Civil Code.
[47]
Dupilas v. Cabacungan, 36 Phil. 254 (1917).
[48]
Article 174, Family Code provides:
Article 174. Legitimate children shall have the right:
(1) To bear the surnames of the father and the mother, in conformity with the provisions of the
Civil Code on Surnames;
(2) To receive support from their parents, their ascendants, and in proper cases, their brothers
and sisters, in conformity with the provisions of this Code on Support; and
(3) To be entitled to the legitime and other successional rights granted to them by the Civil Code.
[49]
Article 176, Family Code states:
Article 176. Illegitimate children shall use the surname and shall be under the parental authority
of their mother, and shall be entitled to support in conformity with this Code. The legitime of each
illegitimate child shall consist of one-half of the legitime of a legitimate child. Except for this
modification, all other provisions in the Civil Code governing successional rights shall remain in
force.
[50]
Id.
[51]
In the Matter of the Adoption of Stephanie Nathy Astorga Garcia, G.R. No. 148311, 31 March 2005.
[52]
People v. Dolores, G.R. No. 76468, 20 August 1990, 188 SCRA 660.
THIRD DIVISION
[G.R. No. 162571. June 15, 2005]
ARNEL L. AGUSTIN, petitioner, vs. HON. COURT OF APPEALS AND MINOR MARTIN JOSE PROLLAMANTE,
REPRESENTED BY HIS MOTHER/GUARDIAN FE ANGELA PROLLAMANTE, respondents.
DECISION
CORONA, J.:
At issue in this petition for certiorari [1] is whether or not the Court of Appeals (CA) gravely erred in
exercising its discretion, amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction, in issuing a decision[2] and
resolution[3] upholding the resolution and order of the trial court,[4] which denied petitioners motion to
dismiss private respondents complaint for support and directed the parties to submit themselves to
deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) paternity testing.
Respondents Fe Angela and her son Martin Prollamante sued Martins alleged biological father,
petitioner Arnel L. Agustin, for support and support pendente lite before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of
Quezon City, Branch 106.[5]
In their complaint, respondents alleged that Arnel courted Fe in 1992, after which they entered into
an intimate relationship. Arnel supposedly impregnated Fe on her 34th birthday on November 10, 1999.
Despite Arnels insistence on abortion, Fe decided otherwise and gave birth to their child out of wedlock,
Martin, on August 11, 2000 at the Capitol Medical Hospital in Quezon City. The babys birth certificate was
purportedly signed by Arnel as the father. Arnel shouldered the pre-natal and hospital expenses but later
refused Fes repeated requests for Martins support despite his adequate financial capacity and even
suggested to have the child committed for adoption. Arnel also denied having fathered the child.
On January 19, 2001, while Fe was carrying five-month old Martin at the Capitol Hills Golf and Country
Club parking lot, Arnel sped off in his van, with the open car door hitting Fes leg. This incident was reported
to the police. In July 2001, Fe was diagnosed with leukemia and has, since then, been undergoing
chemotherapy. On March 5, 2002, Fe and Martin sued Arnel for support.[6]
In his amended answer, Arnel denied having sired Martin because his affair and intimacy with Fe had
allegedly ended in 1998, long before Martins conception. He claimed that Fe had at least one other secret
lover. Arnel admitted that their relationship started in 1993 but he never really fell in love with (Fe) not
only because (she) had at least one secret lover, a certain Jun, but also because she proved to be scheming
and overly demanding and possessive. As a result, theirs was a stormy on-and-off affair. What started as
a romantic liaison between two consenting adults eventually turned out to be a case of fatal attraction
where (Fe) became so obsessed with (Arnel), to the point of even entertaining the idea of marrying him,
that she resorted to various devious ways and means to alienate (him) from his wife and family. Unable
to bear the prospect of losing his wife and children, Arnel terminated the affair although he still treated
her as a friend such as by referring potential customers to the car aircon repair shop[7] where she worked.
Later on, Arnel found out that Fe had another erstwhile secret lover. In May 2000, Arnel and his entire
family went to the United States for a vacation. Upon their return in June 2000, Arnel learned that Fe was
telling people that he had impregnated her. Arnel refused to acknowledge the child as his because their
last intimacy was sometime in 1998.[8] Exasperated, Fe started calling Arnels wife and family. On January
19, 2001, Fe followed Arnel to the Capitol Hills Golf and Country Club parking lot to demand that he
acknowledge Martin as his child. According to Arnel, he could not get through Fe and the discussion
became so heated that he had no alternative but to move on but without bumping or hitting any part of
her body.[9] Finally, Arnel claimed that the signature and the community tax certificate (CTC) attributed to
him in the acknowledgment of Martins birth certificate were falsified. The CTC erroneously reflected his
marital status as single when he was actually married and that his birth year was 1965 when it should
have been 1964.[10]
In his pre-trial brief filed on May 17, 2002, Arnel vehemently denied having sired Martin but
expressed willingness to consider any proposal to settle the case.[11]
On July 23, 2002, Fe and Martin moved for the issuance of an order directing all the parties to submit
themselves to DNA paternity testing pursuant to Rule 28 of the Rules of Court.[12]
Arnel opposed said motion by invoking his constitutional right against self-incrimination.[13] He also
moved to dismiss the complaint for lack of cause of action, considering that his signature on the birth
certificate was a forgery and that, under the law, an illegitimate child is not entitled to support if not
recognized by the putative father.[14] In his motion, Arnel manifested that he had filed criminal charges for
falsification of documents against Fe (I.S. Nos. 02-5723 and 02-7192) and a petition for cancellation of his
name appearing in Martins birth certificate (docketed as Civil Case No. Q-02-46669). He attached the
certification of the Philippine National Police Crime Laboratory that his signature in the birth certificate
was forged.
The trial court denied the motion to dismiss the complaint and ordered the parties to submit
themselves to DNA paternity testing at the expense of the applicants. The Court of Appeals affirmed the
trial court.
Thus, this petition.
In a nutshell, petitioner raises two issues: (1) whether a complaint for support can be converted to a
petition for recognition and (2) whether DNA paternity testing can be ordered in a proceeding for support
without violating petitioners constitutional right to privacy and right against self-incrimination.[15]
The petition is without merit.
First of all, the trial court properly denied the petitioners motion to dismiss because the private
respondents complaint on its face showed that they had a cause of action against the petitioner. The
elements of a cause of action are: (1) the plaintiffs primary right and the defendants corresponding
primary duty, and (2) the delict or wrongful act or omission of the defendant, by which the primary right
and duty have been violated. The cause of action is determined not by the prayer of the complaint but by
the facts alleged.[16]
In the complaint, private respondents alleged that Fe had amorous relations with the petitioner, as
a result of which she gave birth to Martin out of wedlock. In his answer, petitioner admitted that he had
sexual relations with Fe but denied that he fathered Martin, claiming that he had ended the relationship
long before the childs conception and birth. It is undisputed and even admitted by the parties that there
existed a sexual relationship between Arnel and Fe. The only remaining question is whether such sexual
relationship produced the child, Martin. If it did, as respondents have alleged, then Martin should be
supported by his father Arnel. If not, petitioner and Martin are strangers to each other and Martin has no
right to demand and petitioner has no obligation to give support.
Preliminaries aside, we now tackle the main issues.
Petitioner refuses to recognize Martin as his own child and denies the genuineness and authenticity
of the childs birth certificate which he purportedly signed as the father. He also claims that the order and
resolution of the trial court, as affirmed by the Court of Appeals, effectively converted the complaint for
support to a petition for recognition, which is supposedly proscribed by law. According to petitioner,
Martin, as an unrecognized child, has no right to ask for support and must first establish his filiation in a
separate suit under Article 283[17] in relation to Article 265[18] of the Civil Code and Section 1, Rule 105[19] of
the Rules of Court.
The petitioners contentions are without merit.
The assailed resolution and order did not convert the action for support into one for recognition but
merely allowed the respondents to prove their cause of action against petitioner who had been denying
the authenticity of the documentary evidence of acknowledgement. But even if the assailed resolution
and order effectively integrated an action to compel recognition with an action for support, such was valid
and in accordance with jurisprudence. In Tayag v. Court of Appeals,[20] we allowed the integration of an
action to compel recognition with an action to claim ones inheritance:
In Paulino, we held that an illegitimate child, to be entitled to support and successional rights from the
putative or presumed parent, must prove his filiation to the latter. We also said that it is necessary to
allege in the complaint that the putative father had acknowledged and recognized the illegitimate child
because such acknowledgment is essential to and is the basis of the right to inherit. There being no
allegation of such acknowledgment, the action becomes one to compel recognition which cannot be
brought after the death of the putative father. The ratio decidendi in Paulino, therefore, is not the
absence of a cause of action for failure of the petitioner to allege the fact of acknowledgment in the
complaint, but the prescription of the action.
Applying the foregoing principles to the case at bar, although petitioner contends that the complaint
filed by herein private respondent merely alleges that the minor Chad Cuyugan is an illegitimate child of
the deceased and is actually a claim for inheritance, from the allegations therein the same may be
considered as one to compel recognition. Further, that the two causes of action, one to compel
recognition and the other to claim inheritance, may be joined in one complaint is not new in our
jurisprudence.
As early as [1922] we had occasion to rule thereon in Briz vs. Briz, et al. (43 Phil. 763 [1922]) wherein we
said:
The question whether a person in the position of the present plaintiff can in any event maintain a
complex action to compel recognition as a natural child and at the same time to obtain ulterior relief in
the character of heir, is one which in the opinion of this court must be answered in the affirmative,
provided always that the conditions justifying the joinder of the two distinct causes of action are present
in the particular case. In other words, there is no absolute necessity requiring that the action to
compel acknowledgment should have been instituted and prosecuted to a successful conclusion prior
to the action in which that same plaintiff seeks additional relief in the character of heir. Certainly,
there is nothing so peculiar to the action to compel acknowledgment as to require that a rule should be
here applied different from that generally applicable in other cases. x x x
The conclusion above stated, though not heretofore explicitly formulated by this court, is undoubtedly
to some extent supported by our prior decisions. Thus, we have held in numerous cases, and the
doctrine must be considered well settled, that a natural child having a right to compel
acknowledgment, but who has not been in fact legally acknowledged, may maintain partition
proceedings for the division of the inheritance against his coheirs x x x; and the same person may
intervene in proceedings for the distribution of the estate of his deceased natural father, or mother x x
x. In neither of these situations has it been thought necessary for the plaintiff to show a prior decree
compelling acknowledgment. The obvious reason is that in partition suits and distribution proceedings
the other persons who might take by inheritance are before the court; and the declaration of heirship is
appropriate to such proceedings. (Underscoring supplied)
Although the instant case deals with support rather than inheritance, as in Tayag, the basis or
rationale for integrating them remains the same. Whether or not respondent Martin is entitled to support
depends completely on the determination of filiation. A separate action will only result in a multiplicity of
suits, given how intimately related the main issues in both cases are. To paraphrase Tayag, the declaration
of filiation is entirely appropriate to these proceedings.
On the second issue, petitioner posits that DNA is not recognized by this Court as a conclusive means
of proving paternity. He also contends that compulsory testing violates his right to privacy and right
against self-incrimination as guaranteed under the 1987 Constitution. These contentions have no merit.
Given that this is the very first time that the admissibility of DNA testing as a means for determining
paternity has actually been the focal issue in a controversy, a brief historical sketch of our past decisions
featuring or mentioning DNA testing is called for.
In the 1995 case of People v. Teehankee[21] where the appellant was convicted of murder on the
testimony of three eyewitnesses, we stated as an obiter dictum that while eyewitness identification is
significant, it is not as accurate and authoritative as the scientific forms of identification evidence such as
the fingerprint or the DNA test result (emphasis supplied).
Our faith in DNA testing, however, was not quite so steadfast in the previous decade. In Pe Lim v.
Court of Appeals,[22] promulgated in 1997, we cautioned against the use of DNA because DNA, being a
relatively new science, (had) not as yet been accorded official recognition by our courts. Paternity (would)
still have to be resolved by such conventional evidence as the relevant incriminating acts, verbal and
written, by the putative father.
In 2001, however, we opened the possibility of admitting DNA as evidence of parentage, as
enunciated in Tijing v. Court of Appeals:[23]
A final note. Parentage will still be resolved using conventional methods unless we adopt the modern
and scientific ways available. Fortunately, we have now the facility and expertise in using DNA test for
identification and parentage testing. The University of the Philippines Natural Science Research Institute
(UP-NSRI) DNA Analysis Laboratory has now the capability to conduct DNA typing using short tandem
repeat (STR) analysis. The analysis is based on the fact that the DNA of a child/person has two (2) copies,
one copy from the mother and the other from the father. The DNA from the mother, the alleged father
and child are analyzed to establish parentage. Of course, being a novel scientific technique, the use of
DNA test as evidence is still open to challenge. Eventually, as the appropriate case comes, courts should
not hesitate to rule on the admissibility of DNA evidence. For it was said, that courts should apply the
results of science when competently obtained in aid of situations presented, since to reject said result is
to deny progress.
The first real breakthrough of DNA as admissible and authoritative evidence in Philippine
jurisprudence came in 2002 with our en banc decision in People v. Vallejo[24]where the rape and murder
victims DNA samples from the bloodstained clothes of the accused were admitted in evidence. We
reasoned that the purpose of DNA testing (was) to ascertain whether an association exist(ed) between
the evidence sample and the reference sample. The samples collected (were) subjected to various
chemical processes to establish their profile.
A year later, in People v. Janson,[25] we acquitted the accused charged with rape for lack of evidence
because doubts persist(ed) in our mind as to who (were) the real malefactors. Yes, a complex offense
(had) been perpetrated but who (were) the perpetrators? How we wish we had DNA or other scientific
evidence to still our doubts!
In 2004, in Tecson, et al. v. COMELEC[26] where the Court en banc was faced with the issue of filiation
of then presidential candidate Fernando Poe Jr., we stated:
In case proof of filiation or paternity would be unlikely to satisfactorily establish or would be difficult to
obtain, DNA testing, which examines genetic codes obtained from body cells of the illegitimate child and
any physical residue of the long dead parent could be resorted to. A positive match would clear up
filiation or paternity. In Tijing vs. Court of Appeals, this Court has acknowledged the strong weight of
DNA testing
Moreover, in our en banc decision in People v. Yatar,[27] we affirmed the conviction of the accused
for rape with homicide, the principal evidence for which included DNA test results. We did a lengthy
discussion of DNA, the process of DNA testing and the reasons for its admissibility in the context of our
own Rules of Evidence:
Deoxyribonucleic Acid, or DNA, is a molecule that encodes the genetic information in all living
organisms. A persons DNA is the same in each cell and it does not change throughout a persons lifetime;
the DNA in a persons blood is the same as the DNA found in his saliva, sweat, bone, the root and shaft of
hair, earwax, mucus, urine, skin tissue, and vaginal and rectal cells. Most importantly, because of
polymorphisms in human genetic structure, no two individuals have the same DNA, with the notable
exception of identical twins.
xxx xxx xxx
In assessing the probative value of DNA evidence, courts should consider, inter alia, the following
factors: how the samples were collected, how they were handled, the possibility of contamination of the
samples, the procedure followed in analyzing the samples, whether proper standards and procedures
were followed in conducting the tests, and the qualification of the analyst who conducted the tests.
In the case at bar, Dr. Maria Corazon Abogado de Ungria was duly qualified by the prosecution as an
expert witness on DNA print or identification techniques. Based on Dr. de Ungrias testimony, it was
determined that the gene type and DNA profile of appellant are identical to that of the extracts subject
of examination. The blood sample taken from the appellant showed that he was of the following gene
types: vWA 15/19, TH01 7/8, DHFRP29/10 and CSF1PO 10/11, which are identical with semen taken
from the victims vaginal canal. Verily, a DNA match exists between the semen found in the victim and
the blood sample given by the appellant in open court during the course of the trial.
Admittedly, we are just beginning to integrate these advances in science and technology in the
Philippine criminal justice system, so we must be cautious as we traverse these relatively uncharted
waters. Fortunately, we can benefit from the wealth of persuasive jurisprudence that has developed in
other jurisdictions. Specifically, the prevailing doctrine in the U.S. has proven instructive.
In Daubert v. Merrell Dow (509 U.S. 579 (1993); 125 L. Ed. 2d 469) it was ruled that pertinent evidence
based on scientifically valid principles could be used as long as it was relevant and reliable. Judges,
under Daubert, were allowed greater discretion over which testimony they would allow at trial,
including the introduction of new kinds of scientific techniques. DNA typing is one such novel procedure.
Under Philippine law, evidence is relevant when it relates directly to a fact in issue as to induce belief in
its existence or non-existence. Applying the Daubert test to the case at bar, the DNA evidence obtained
through PCR testing and utilizing STR analysis, and which was appreciated by the court a quo is relevant
and reliable since it is reasonably based on scientifically valid principles of human genetics and
molecular biology.
Significantly, we upheld the constitutionality of compulsory DNA testing and the admissibility of the
results thereof as evidence. In that case, DNA samples from semen recovered from a rape victims vagina
were used to positively identify the accused Joel Kawit Yatar as the rapist. Yatar claimed that the
compulsory extraction of his blood sample for DNA testing, as well as the testing itself, violated his right
against self-incrimination, as embodied in both Sections 12 and 17 of Article III of the Constitution. We
addressed this as follows:
The contention is untenable. The kernel of the right is not against all compulsion, but against testimonial
compulsion. The right against self-incrimination is simply against the legal process of extracting from the
lips of the accused an admission of guilt. It does not apply where the evidence sought to be excluded is
not an incrimination but as part of object evidence.
Over the years, we have expressly excluded several kinds of object evidence taken from the person
of the accused from the realm of self-incrimination. These include photographs,[28] hair,[29] and other
bodily substances.[30] We have also declared as constitutional several procedures performed on the
accused such as pregnancy tests for women accused of adultery,[31] expulsion of morphine from ones
mouth[32] and the tracing of ones foot to determine its identity with bloody footprints.[33] In Jimenez v.
Caizares,[34] we even authorized the examination of a womans genitalia, in an action for annulment filed
by her husband, to verify his claim that she was impotent, her orifice being too small for his penis. Some
of these procedures were, to be sure, rather invasive and involuntary, but all of them were constitutionally
sound. DNA testing and its results, per our ruling in Yatar,[35] are now similarly acceptable.
Nor does petitioners invocation of his right to privacy persuade us. In Ople v. Torres,[36] where we
struck down the proposed national computerized identification system embodied in Administrative Order
No. 308, we said:
In no uncertain terms, we also underscore that the right to privacy does not bar all incursions into
individual privacy. The right is not intended to stifle scientific and technological advancements that
enhance public service and the common good... Intrusions into the right must be accompanied by proper
safeguards that enhance public service and the common good.
Historically, it has mostly been in the areas of legality of searches and seizures,[37] and the
infringement of privacy of communication[38] where the constitutional right to privacy has been critically
at issue. Petitioners case involves neither and, as already stated, his argument that his right against self-
incrimination is in jeopardy holds no water. His hollow invocation of his constitutional rights elicits no
sympathy here for the simple reason that they are not in any way being violated. If, in a criminal case, an
accused whose very life is at stake can be compelled to submit to DNA testing, we see no reason why, in
this civil case, petitioner herein who does not face such dire consequences cannot be ordered to do the
same.
DNA paternity testing first came to prominence in the United States, where it yielded its first official
results sometime in 1985. In the decade that followed, DNA rapidly found widespread general
acceptance.[39] Several cases decided by various State Supreme Courts reflect the total assimilation of DNA
testing into their rules of procedure and evidence.
The case of Wilson v. Lumb[40] shows that DNA testing is so commonly accepted that, in some
instances, ordering the procedure has become a ministerial act. The Supreme Court of St. Lawrence
County, New York allowed a party who had already acknowledged paternity to subsequently challenge
his prior acknowledgment. The Court pointed out that, under the law, specifically Section 516 of the New
York Family Court Act, the Family Court examiner had the duty, upon receipt of the challenge, to order
DNA tests:[41]
516-a. Acknowledgment of paternity. (a) An acknowledgment of paternity executed pursuant to section
one hundred eleven-k of the social services law or section four thousand one hundred thirty-five-b of
the public health law shall establish the paternity of and liability for the support of a child pursuant to
this act. Such acknowledgment must be reduced to writing and filed pursuant to section four thousand
one hundred thirty-five-b of the public health law with the registrar of the district in which the birth
occurred and in which the birth certificate has been filed. No further judicial or administrative
proceedings are required to ratify an unchallenged acknowledgment of paternity.
(b) An acknowledgment of paternity executed pursuant to section one hundred eleven-k of the social
services law or section four thousand one hundred thirty-five-b of the public health law may be
rescinded by either signators filing of a petition with the court to vacate the acknowledgment within the
earlier of sixty days of the date of signing the acknowledgment or the date of an administrative or a
judicial proceeding (including a proceeding to establish a support order) relating to the child in which
either signator is a party. For purposes of this section, the "date of an administrative or a judicial
proceeding" shall be the date by which the respondent is required to answer the petition. After the
expiration of sixty days of the execution of the acknowledgment, either signator may challenge the
acknowledgment of paternity in court only on the basis of fraud, duress, or material mistake of fact,
with the burden of proof on the party challenging the voluntary acknowledgment. Upon receiving a
partys challenge to an acknowledgment, the court shall order genetic marker tests or DNA tests for
the determination of the childs paternity and shall make a finding of paternity, if appropriate, in
accordance with this article. Neither signators legal obligations, including the obligation for child
support arising from the acknowledgment, may be suspended during the challenge to the
acknowledgment except for good cause as the court may find. If a party petitions to rescind an
acknowledgment and if the court determines that the alleged father is not the father of the child, or if
the court finds that an acknowledgment is invalid because it was executed on the basis of fraud, duress,
or material mistake of fact, the court shall vacate the acknowledgment of paternity and shall
immediately provide a copy of the order to the registrar of the district in which the childs birth
certificate is filed and also to the putative father registry operated by the department of social services
pursuant to section three hundred seventy-two-c of the social services law. In addition, if the mother of
the child who is the subject of the acknowledgment is in receipt of child support services pursuant to
title six-A of article three of the social services law, the court shall immediately provide a copy of the
order to the child support enforcement unit of the social services district that provides the mother with
such services.
(c) A determination of paternity made by any other state, whether established through the parents
acknowledgment of paternity or through an administrative or judicial process, must be accorded full
faith and credit, if and only if such acknowledgment meets the requirements set forth in section
452(a)(7) of the social security act.
(emphasis supplied)
DNA testing also appears elsewhere in the New York Family Court Act:[42]
532. Genetic marker and DNA tests; admissibility of records or reports of test results; costs of tests.
a) The court shall advise the parties of their right to one or more genetic marker tests or DNA tests and,
on the courts own motion or the motion of any party, shall order the mother, her child and the alleged
father to submit to one or more genetic marker or DNA tests of a type generally acknowledged as
reliable by an accreditation body designated by the secretary of the federal department of health and
human services and performed by a laboratory approved by such an accreditation body and by the
commissioner of health or by a duly qualified physician to aid in the determination of whether the
alleged father is or is not the father of the child. No such test shall be ordered, however, upon a written
finding by the court that it is not in the best interests of the child on the basis of res judicata,
equitable estoppel, or the presumption of legitimacy of a child born to a married woman. The record
or report of the results of any such genetic marker or DNA test ordered pursuant to this section or
pursuant to section one hundred eleven-k of the social services law shall be received in evidence by the
court pursuant to subdivision (e) of rule forty-five hundred eighteen of the civil practice law and rules
where no timely objection in writing has been made thereto and that if such timely objections are not
made, they shall be deemed waived and shall not be heard by the court. If the record or report of the
results of any such genetic marker or DNA test or tests indicate at least a ninety-five percent
probability of paternity, the admission of such record or report shall create a rebuttable presumption
of paternity, and shall establish, if unrebutted, the paternity of and liability for the support of a child
pursuant to this article and article four of this act.
(b) Whenever the court directs a genetic marker or DNA test pursuant to this section, a report made as
provided in subdivision (a) of this section may be received in evidence pursuant to rule forty-five
hundred eighteen of the civil practice law and rules if offered by any party.
(c) The cost of any test ordered pursuant to subdivision (a) of this section shall be, in the first instance,
paid by the moving party. If the moving party is financially unable to pay such cost, the court may direct
any qualified public health officer to conduct such test, if practicable; otherwise, the court may direct
payment from the funds of the appropriate local social services district. In its order of disposition,
however, the court may direct that the cost of any such test be apportioned between the parties
according to their respective abilities to pay or be assessed against the party who does not prevail on
the issue of paternity, unless such party is financially unable to pay. (emphasis supplied)
In R.E. v. C.E.W.,[43] a decision of the Mississippi Supreme Court, DNA tests were used to prove that
H.W., previously thought to be an offspring of the marriage between A.C.W. and C.E.W., was actually the
child of R.E. with whom C.E.W. had, at the time of conception, maintained an adulterous relationship.
In Erie County Department of Social Services on behalf of Tiffany M.H. v. Greg G.,[44] the
4th Department of the New York Supreme Courts Appellate Division allowed G.G., who had been
adjudicated as T.M.H.s father by default, to have the said judgment vacated, even after six years, once he
had shown through a genetic marker test that he was not the childs father. In this case, G.G. only
requested the tests after the Department of Social Services, six years after G.G. had been adjudicated as
T.M.H.s father, sought an increase in his support obligation to her.
In Greco v. Coleman,[45] the Michigan Supreme Court while ruling on the constitutionality of a
provision of law allowing non-modifiable support agreements pointed out that it was because of the
difficulty of determining paternity before the advent of DNA testing that such support agreements were
necessary:
As a result of DNA testing, the accuracy with which paternity can be proven has increased significantly
since the parties in this lawsuit entered into their support agreement(current testing methods can
determine the probability of paternity to 99.999999% accuracy). However, at the time the parties
before us entered into the disputed agreement, proving paternity was a very significant obstacle to an
illegitimate child's access to child support. The first reported results of modern DNA paternity testing did
not occur until 1985. ("In fact, since its first reported results in 1985, DNA matching has progressed to
'general acceptance in less than a decade'"). Of course, while prior blood-testing methods could exclude
some males from being the possible father of a child, those methods could not affirmatively pinpoint a
particular male as being the father. Thus, when the settlement agreement between the present parties
was entered in 1980, establishing paternity was a far more difficult ordeal than at present. Contested
paternity actions at that time were often no more than credibility contests. Consequently, in every
contested paternity action, obtaining child support depended not merely on whether the putative father
was, in fact, the child's biological father, but rather on whether the mother could prove to a court of law
that she was only sexually involved with one man--the putative father. Allowing parties the option of
entering into private agreements in lieu of proving paternity eliminated the risk that the mother would
be unable meet her burden of proof.
It is worth noting that amendments to Michigans Paternity law have included the use of DNA
testing:[46]
722.716 Pretrial proceedings; blood or tissue typing determinations as to mother, child, and alleged
father; court order; refusal to submit to typing or identification profiling; qualifications of person
conducting typing or identification profiling; compensation of expert; result of typing or identification
profiling; filing summary report; objection; admissibility; presumption; burden of proof; summary
disposition.
Sec. 6.
(1) In a proceeding under this act before trial, the court, upon application made by or on behalf of
either party, or on its own motion, shall order that the mother, child, and alleged father submit to
blood or tissue typing determinations, which may include, but are not limited to, determinations of
red cell antigens, red cell isoenzymes, human leukocyte antigens, serum proteins,
or DNA identification profiling, to determine whether the alleged father is likely to be, or is not, the
father of the child. If the court orders a blood or tissue typing or DNA identification profiling to be
conducted and a party refuses to submit to the typing or DNA identification profiling, in addition to
any other remedies available, the court may do either of the following:
(a) Enter a default judgment at the request of the appropriate party.
(b) If a trial is held, allow the disclosure of the fact of the refusal unless good cause is shown for not
disclosing the fact of refusal.
(2) A blood or tissue typing or DNA identification profiling shall be conducted by a person accredited for
paternity determinations by a nationally recognized scientific organization, including, but not limited to,
the American association of blood banks.
xxx xxx xxx
(5) If the probability of paternity determined by the qualified person described in subsection (2)
conducting the blood or tissue typing or DNA identification profiling is 99% or higher, and
the DNA identification profile and summary report are admissible as provided in subsection (4),
paternity is presumed. If the results of the analysis of genetic testing material from 2 or more persons
indicate a probability of paternity greater than 99%, the contracting laboratory shall conduct
additional genetic paternity testing until all but 1 of the putative fathers is eliminated, unless the
dispute involves 2 or more putative fathers who have identical DNA.
(6) Upon the establishment of the presumption of paternity as provided in subsection (5), either party
may move for summary disposition under the court rules. this section does not abrogate the right of
either party to child support from the date of birth of the child if applicable under section 7. (emphasis
supplied)
In Rafferty v. Perkins,[47] the Supreme Court of Mississippi ruled that DNA test results showing
paternity were sufficient to overthrow the presumption of legitimacy of a child born during the course of
a marriage:
The presumption of legitimacy having been rebutted by the results of the blood test eliminating Perkins
as Justin's father, even considering the evidence in the light most favorable to Perkins, we find that no
reasonable jury could find that Easter is not Justin's father based upon the 99.94% probability of
paternity concluded by the DNA testing.
In S.J.F. and J.C.F. v. R.C.W.,[48] the North Dakota Supreme Court upheld an order for genetic testing
given by the Court of Appeals, even after trial on the merits had concluded without such order being given.
Significantly, when J.C.F., the mother, first filed the case for paternity and support with the District Court,
neither party requested genetic testing. It was only upon appeal from dismissal of the case that the
appellate court remanded the case and ordered the testing, which the North Dakota Supreme Court
upheld.
The case of Kohl v. Amundson,[49] decided by the Supreme Court of South Dakota, demonstrated that
even default judgments of paternity could be vacated after the adjudicated father had, through DNA
testing, established non-paternity. In this case, Kohl, having excluded himself as the father of Amundsons
child through DNA testing, was able to have the default judgment against him vacated. He then obtained
a ruling ordering Amundson to reimburse him for the amounts withheld from his wages for child support.
The Court said (w)hile Amundson may have a remedy against the father of the child, she submit(ted) no
authority that require(d) Kohl to support her child. Contrary to Amundson's position, the fact that a
default judgment was entered, but subsequently vacated, (did) not foreclose Kohl from obtaining a money
judgment for the amount withheld from his wages.
In M.A.S. v. Mississippi Dept. of Human Services,[50] another case decided by the Supreme Court of
Mississippi, it was held that even if paternity was established through an earlier agreed order of filiation,
child support and visitation orders could still be vacated once DNA testing established someone other
than the named individual to be the biological father. The Mississippi High Court reiterated this doctrine
in Williams v. Williams.[51]
The foregoing considered, we find no grave abuse of discretion on the part of the public respondent
for upholding the orders of the trial court which both denied the petitioners motion to dismiss and
ordered him to submit himself for DNA testing. Under Rule 65 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, the
remedy of certiorari is only available when any tribunal, board or officer has acted without or in excess of
its or his jurisdiction, or with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction, and
there is no appeal, nor any plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law.[52] In Land
Bank of the Philippines v. the Court of Appeals[53]where we dismissed a special civil action for certiorari
under Rule 65, we discussed at length the nature of such a petition and just what was meant by grave
abuse of discretion:
Grave abuse of discretion implies such capricious and whimsical exercise of judgment as is equivalent to
lack of jurisdiction or, in other words, where the power is exercised in an arbitrary manner by reason
of passion, prejudice, or personal hostility, and it must be so patent or gross as to amount to an
evasion of a positive duty or to a virtual refusal to perform the duty enjoined or to act at all in
contemplation of law.
The special civil action for certiorari is a remedy designed for the correction of errors of jurisdiction and
not errors of judgment. The raison detre for the rule is when a court exercises its jurisdiction, an error
committed while so engaged does not deprive it of the jurisdiction being exercised when the error is
committed. If it did, every error committed by a court would deprive it of its jurisdiction and every
erroneous judgment would be a void judgment. In such a scenario, the administration of justice would
not survive. Hence, where the issue or question involved affects the wisdom or legal soundness of the
decisionnot the jurisdiction of the court to render said decisionthe same is beyond the province of a
special civil action for certiorari.
The proper recourse of the aggrieved party from a decision of the CA is a petition for review on
certiorari under Rule 45 of the Revised Rules of Court. On the other hand, if the error subject of the
recourse is one of jurisdiction, or the act complained of was perpetrated by a quasi-judicial officer or
agency with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction, the proper remedy
available to the aggrieved party is a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the said Rules. (emphasis
supplied)
In the instant case, the petitioner has in no way shown any arbitrariness, passion, prejudice or
personal hostility that would amount to grave abuse of discretion on the part of the Court of Appeals. The
respondent court acted entirely within its jurisdiction in promulgating its decision and resolution, and any
error made would have only been an error in judgment. As we have discussed, however, the decision of
the respondent court, being firmly anchored in law and jurisprudence, was correct.
Epilogue
For too long, illegitimate children have been marginalized by fathers who choose to deny their
existence. The growing sophistication of DNA testing technology finally provides a much needed equalizer
for such ostracized and abandoned progeny. We have long believed in the merits of DNA testing and have
repeatedly expressed as much in the past. This case comes at a perfect time when DNA testing has finally
evolved into a dependable and authoritative form of evidence gathering. We therefore take this
opportunity to forcefully reiterate our stand that DNA testing is a valid means of determining paternity.
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the petition is hereby DENIED. The Court of Appeals decision
dated January 28, 2004 in CA-G.R. SP No. 80961 is hereby AFFIRMED in toto.
Costs against petitioner.
SO ORDERED.
Panganiban, (Chairman), Sandoval-Gutierrez, Carpio-Morales, and Garcia, JJ., concur.
SECOND DIVISION
JESSE U. LUCAS, G.R. No. 190710
Petitioner,
Present:

CARPIO, J.,
Chairperson,
- versus - NACHURA,
PERALTA,
ABAD, and
MENDOZA, JJ.

Promulgated:
JESUS S. LUCAS,
Respondent. June 6, 2011

x----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x

DECISION

NACHURA, J.:

Is a prima facie showing necessary before a court can issue a DNA testing order? In this petition for review
on certiorari, we address this question to guide the Bench and the Bar in dealing with a relatively new
evidentiary tool. Assailed in this petition are the Court of Appeals (CA) Decision[1] dated September 25,
2009 and Resolution dated December 17, 2009. The antecedents of the case are, as follows:
On July 26, 2007, petitioner, Jesse U. Lucas, filed a Petition to Establish Illegitimate Filiation (with Motion
for the Submission of Parties to DNA Testing)[2]before the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch
72, Valenzuela City. Petitioner narrated that, sometime in 1967, his mother, Elsie Uy (Elsie), migrated
to Manilafrom Davao and stayed with a certain Ate Belen (Belen) who worked in a prominent nightspot
in Manila. Elsie would oftentimes accompany Belen to work. On one occasion, Elsie got acquainted with
respondent, Jesus S. Lucas, at Belens workplace, and an intimate relationship developed between the two.
Elsie eventually got pregnant and, on March 11, 1969, she gave birth to petitioner, Jesse U. Lucas. The
name of petitioners father was not stated in petitioners certificate of live birth. However, Elsie later on
told petitioner that his father is respondent. On August 1, 1969, petitioner was baptized at San Isidro
Parish, Taft Avenue, Pasay City. Respondent allegedly extended financial support to Elsie and petitioner
for a period of about two years. When the relationship of Elsie and respondent ended, Elsie refused to
accept respondents offer of support and decided to raise petitioner on her own. While petitioner was
growing up, Elsie made several attempts to introduce petitioner to respondent, but all attempts were in
vain.

Attached to the petition were the following: (a) petitioners certificate of live birth; (b) petitioners
baptismal certificate; (c) petitioners college diploma, showing that he graduated from Saint Louis
University in Baguio City with a degree in Psychology; (d) his Certificate of Graduation from the same
school; (e) Certificate of Recognition from the University of the Philippines, College of Music; and (f)
clippings of several articles from different newspapers about petitioner, as a musical prodigy.
Respondent was not served with a copy of the petition. Nonetheless, respondent learned of the petition
to establish filiation. His counsel therefore went to the trial court on August 29, 2007 and obtained a copy
of the petition.

Petitioner filed with the RTC a Very Urgent Motion to Try and Hear the Case. Hence, on September 3,
2007, the RTC, finding the petition to be sufficient in form and substance, issued the Order[3] setting the
case for hearing and urging anyone who has any objection to the petition to file his opposition. The court
also directed that the Order be published once a week for three consecutive weeks in any newspaper of
general circulation in the Philippines, and that the Solicitor General be furnished with copies of the Order
and the petition in order that he may appear and represent the State in the case.

On September 4, 2007, unaware of the issuance of the September 3, 2007 Order, respondent filed a
Special Appearance and Comment. He manifested inter aliathat: (1) he did not receive the summons and
a copy of the petition; (2) the petition was adversarial in nature and therefore summons should be served
on him as respondent; (3) should the court agree that summons was required, he was waiving service of
summons and making a voluntary appearance; and (4) notice by publication of the petition and the
hearing was improper because of the confidentiality of the subject matter.[4]
On September 14, 2007, respondent also filed a Manifestation and Comment on Petitioners Very Urgent
Motion to Try and Hear the Case. Respondent reiterated that the petition for recognition is adversarial in
nature; hence, he should be served with summons.
After learning of the September 3, 2007 Order, respondent filed a motion for
[5]
reconsideration. Respondent averred that the petition was not in due form and substance because
petitioner could not have personally known the matters that were alleged therein. He argued that DNA
testing cannot be had on the basis of a mere allegation pointing to respondent as petitioners father.
Moreover, jurisprudence is still unsettled on the acceptability of DNA evidence.
On July 30, 2008, the RTC, acting on respondents motion for reconsideration, issued an Order[6] dismissing
the case. The court remarked that, based on the case of Herrera v. Alba,[7] there are four significant
procedural aspects of a traditional paternity action which the parties have to face: a prima facie case,
affirmative defenses, presumption of legitimacy, and physical resemblance between the putative father
and the child. The court opined that petitioner must first establish these four procedural aspects before
he can present evidence of paternity and filiation, which may include incriminating acts or scientific
evidence like blood group test and DNA test results. The court observed that the petition did not show
that these procedural aspects were present. Petitioner failed to establish a prima facie case considering
that (a) his mother did not personally declare that she had sexual relations with respondent, and
petitioners statement as to what his mother told him about his father was clearly hearsay; (b) the
certificate of live birth was not signed by respondent; and (c) although petitioner used the surname of
respondent, there was no allegation that he was treated as the child of respondent by the latter or his
family. The court opined that, having failed to establish aprima facie case, respondent had no obligation
to present any affirmative defenses. The dispositive portion of the said Order therefore reads:
WHEREFORE, for failure of the petitioner to establish compliance with the four
procedural aspects of a traditional paternity action in his petition, his motion for the
submission of parties to DNA testing to establish paternity and filiation is
hereby DENIED. This case is DISMISSED without prejudice.
SO ORDERED.[8]

Petitioner seasonably filed a motion for reconsideration to the Order dated July 30, 2008, which the RTC
resolved in his favor. Thus, on October 20, 2008, it issued the Order[9] setting aside the courts previous
order, thus:
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Order dated July 30, 2008 is hereby
reconsidered and set aside.

Let the Petition (with Motion for the Submission of Parties to DNA Testing) be set
for hearing on January 22, 2009 at 8:30 in the morning.

xxxx
SO ORDERED.[10]

This time, the RTC held that the ruling on the grounds relied upon by petitioner for filing the petition is
premature considering that a full-blown trial has not yet taken place. The court stressed that the petition
was sufficient in form and substance. It was verified, it included a certification against forum shopping,
and it contained a plain, concise, and direct statement of the ultimate facts on which petitioner relies on
for his claim, in accordance with Section 1, Rule 8 of the Rules of Court. The court remarked that the
allegation that the statements in the petition were not of petitioners personal knowledge is a matter of
evidence. The court also dismissed respondents arguments that there is no basis for the taking of DNA
test, and that jurisprudence is still unsettled on the acceptability of DNA evidence. It noted that the new
Rule on DNA Evidence[11] allows the conduct of DNA testing, whether at the courts instance or upon
application of any person who has legal interest in the matter in litigation.

Respondent filed a Motion for Reconsideration of Order dated October 20, 2008 and for Dismissal
of Petition,[12] reiterating that (a) the petition was not in due form and substance as no defendant was
named in the title, and all the basic allegations were hearsay; and (b) there was no prima facie case, which
made the petition susceptible to dismissal.

The RTC denied the motion in the Order dated January 19, 2009, and rescheduled the hearing.[13]

Aggrieved, respondent filed a petition for certiorari with the CA, questioning the Orders dated
October 20, 2008 and January 19, 2009.

On September 25, 2009, the CA decided the petition for certiorari in favor of respondent, thus:

WHEREFORE, the instant petition for certiorari is hereby GRANTED for being
meritorious. The assailed Orders dated October 20, 2008 and January 19, 2009 both
issued by the Regional Trial Court, Branch 172 of Valenzuela City in SP. Proceeding Case
No. 30-V-07 are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Accordingly, the case docketed as SP.
Proceeding Case No. 30-V-07 is DISMISSED.[14]

The CA held that the RTC did not acquire jurisdiction over the person of respondent, as no
summons had been served on him. Respondents special appearance could not be considered as voluntary
appearance because it was filed only for the purpose of questioning the jurisdiction of the court over
respondent. Although respondent likewise questioned the courts jurisdiction over the subject matter of
the petition, the same is not equivalent to a waiver of his right to object to the jurisdiction of the court
over his person.

The CA remarked that petitioner filed the petition to establish illegitimate filiation, specifically
seeking a DNA testing order to abbreviate the proceedings. It noted that petitioner failed to show that
the four significant procedural aspects of a traditional paternity action had been met. The CA further held
that a DNA testing should not be allowed when the petitioner has failed to establish a prima facie case,
thus:

While the tenor [of Section 4, Rule on DNA Evidence] appears to be absolute, the rule could not
really have been intended to trample on the substantive rights of the parties. It could have not
meant to be an instrument to promote disorder, harassment, or extortion. It could have not been
intended to legalize unwarranted expedition to fish for evidence. Such will be the situation in this
particular case if a court may at any time order the taking of a DNA test. If the DNA test in
compulsory recognition cases is immediately available to the petitioner/complainant without
requiring first the presentation of corroborative proof, then a dire and absurd rule would result.
Such will encourage and promote harassment and extortion.

xxxx

At the risk of being repetitious, the Court would like to stress that it sees the danger of allowing
an absolute DNA testing to a compulsory recognition test even if the plaintiff/petitioner failed to
establish prima facie proof. x x x If at anytime, motu proprio and without pre-conditions, the court
can indeed order the taking of DNA test in compulsory recognition cases, then the prominent and
well-to-do members of our society will be easy prey for opportunists and extortionists. For no
cause at all, or even for [sic] casual sexual indiscretions in their younger years could be used as a
means to harass them. Unscrupulous women, unsure of the paternity of their children may just
be taking the chances-just in case-by pointing to a sexual partner in a long past one-time
encounter. Indeed an absolute and unconditional taking of DNA test for compulsory recognition
case opens wide the opportunities for extortionist to prey on victims who have no stomach for
scandal.[15]

Petitioner moved for reconsideration. On December 17, 2009, the CA denied the motion for lack
of merit.[16]
In this petition for review on certiorari, petitioner raises the following issues:
I.
WHETHER OR NOT THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED WHEN IT RESOLVED THE ISSUE OF
LACK OF JURISDICTION OVER THE PERSON OF HEREIN RESPONDENT ALBEIT THE SAME
WAS NEVER RAISED IN THE PETITION FOR CERTIORARI.

I.A
WHETHER OR NOT THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED WHEN IT RULED THAT
JURISDICTION WAS NOT ACQUIRED OVER THE PERSON OF THE
RESPONDENT.

I.B
WHETHER OR NOT THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED WHEN IT FAILED TO
REALIZE THAT THE RESPONDENT HAD ALREADY SUBMITTED
VOLUNTARILY TO THE JURISDICTION OF THE COURT A QUO.

I.C
WHETHER OR NOT THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED WHEN IT ESSENTIALLY
RULED THAT THE TITLE OF A PLEADING, RATHER THAN ITS BODY, IS
CONTROLLING.

II.
WHETHER OR NOT THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED WHEN IT ORDERED THE DISMISSAL OF
THE PETITION BY REASON OF THE MOTION (FILED BY THE PETITIONER BEFORE THE
COURT A QUO) FOR THE CONDUCT OF DNA TESTING.

II.A
WHETHER OR NOT THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED WHEN IT ESSENTIALLY
RULED THAT DNA TESTING CAN ONLY BE ORDERED AFTER THE
PETITIONER ESTABLISHES PRIMA FACIE PROOF OF FILIATION.

III.
WHETHER OR NOT THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED WITH ITS MISPLACED
RELIANCE ON THE CASE OF HERRERA VS. ALBA,

ESPECIALLY AS REGARDS THE FOUR SIGNIFICANT PROCEDURAL ASPECTS OF A


TRADITIONAL PATERNITY ACTION.[17]

Petitioner contends that respondent never raised as issue in his petition for certiorari the courts lack of
jurisdiction over his person. Hence, the CA had no legal basis to discuss the same, because issues not
raised are deemed waived or abandoned. At any rate, respondent had already voluntarily submitted to
the jurisdiction of the trial court by his filing of several motions asking for affirmative relief, such as the
(a) Motion for Reconsideration of the Order dated September 3, 2007; (b) Ex Parte Motion to Resolve
Motion for Reconsideration of the Order dated November 6, 2007; and (c) Motion for Reconsideration of
the Order dated October 20, 2008 and for Dismissal of Petition. Petitioner points out that respondent
even expressly admitted that he has waived his right to summons in his Manifestation and Comment on
Petitioners Very Urgent Motion to Try and Hear the Case. Hence, the issue is already moot and academic.
Petitioner argues that the case was adversarial in nature. Although the caption of the petition does not
state respondents name, the body of the petition clearly indicates his name and his known address. He
maintains that the body of the petition is controlling and not the caption.

Finally, petitioner asserts that the motion for DNA testing should not be a reason for the dismissal of the
petition since it is not a legal ground for the dismissal of cases. If the CA entertained any doubt as to the
propriety of DNA testing, it should have simply denied the motion.[18] Petitioner points out that Section 4
of the Rule on DNA Evidence does not require that there must be a prior proof of filiation before DNA
testing can be ordered. He adds that the CA erroneously relied on the four significant procedural aspects
of a paternity case, as enunciated in Herrera v. Alba.[19] Petitioner avers that these procedural aspects are
not applicable at this point of the proceedings because they are matters of evidence that should be taken
up during the trial.[20]

In his Comment, respondent supports the CAs ruling on most issues raised in the petition for certiorari and
merely reiterates his previous arguments. However, on the issue of lack of jurisdiction, respondent
counters that, contrary to petitioners assertion, he raised the issue before the CA in relation to his claim
that the petition was not in due form and substance. Respondent denies that he waived his right to the
service of summons. He insists that the alleged waiver and voluntary appearance was conditional upon a
finding by the court that summons is indeed required. He avers that the assertion of affirmative defenses,
aside from lack of jurisdiction over the person of the defendant, cannot be considered as waiver of the
defense of lack of jurisdiction over such person.

The petition is meritorious.

Primarily, we emphasize that the assailed Orders of the trial court were orders denying
respondents motion to dismiss the petition for illegitimate filiation. An order denying a motion to dismiss
is an interlocutory order which neither terminates nor finally disposes of a case, as it leaves something to
be done by the court before the case is finally decided on the merits. As such, the general rule is that the
denial of a motion to dismiss cannot be questioned in a special civil action for certiorari, which is a remedy
designed to correct errors of jurisdiction and not errors of judgment. Neither can a denial of a motion to
dismiss be the subject of an appeal unless and until a final judgment or order is rendered. In a number of
cases, the court has granted the extraordinary remedy of certiorari on the denial of the motion to dismiss
but only when it has been tainted with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of
jurisdiction.[21] In the present case, we discern no grave abuse of discretion on the part of the trial court
in denying the motion to dismiss.
The grounds for dismissal relied upon by respondent were (a) the courts lack of jurisdiction over
his person due to the absence of summons, and (b) defect in the form and substance of the petition to
establish illegitimate filiation, which is equivalent to failure to state a cause of action.

We need not belabor the issues on whether lack of jurisdiction was raised before the CA, whether
the court acquired jurisdiction over the person of respondent, or whether respondent waived his right to
the service of summons. We find that the primordial issue here is actually whether it was necessary, in
the first place, to serve summons on respondent for the court to acquire jurisdiction over the case. In
other words, was the service of summons jurisdictional? The answer to this question depends on the
nature of petitioners action, that is, whether it is an action in personam, in rem, or quasi in rem.

An action in personam is lodged against a person based on personal liability; an action in rem is
directed against the thing itself instead of the person; while an action quasi in rem names a person as
defendant, but its object is to subject that person's interest in a property to a corresponding lien or
obligation. A petition directed against the "thing" itself or the res, which concerns the status of a person,
like a petition for adoption, annulment of marriage, or correction of entries in the birth certificate, is an
action in rem.[22]
In an action in personam, jurisdiction over the person of the defendant is necessary for the court
to validly try and decide the case. In a proceeding in rem or quasi in rem, jurisdiction over the person of
the defendant is not a prerequisite to confer jurisdiction on the court, provided that the latter has
jurisdiction over the res. Jurisdiction over the res is acquired either (a) by the seizure of the property
under legal process, whereby it is brought into actual custody of the law, or (b) as a result of the institution
of legal proceedings, in which the power of the court is recognized and made effective. [23]

The herein petition to establish illegitimate filiation is an action in rem. By the simple filing of the
petition to establish illegitimate filiation before the RTC, which undoubtedly had jurisdiction over the
subject matter of the petition, the latter thereby acquired jurisdiction over the case. An in rem proceeding
is validated essentially through publication. Publication is notice to the whole world that the proceeding
has for its object to bar indefinitely all who might be minded to make an objection of any sort to the right
sought to be established.[24] Through publication, all interested parties are deemed notified of the
petition.

If at all, service of summons or notice is made to the defendant, it is not for the purpose of vesting
the court with jurisdiction, but merely for satisfying the due process requirements.[25] This is but proper
in order to afford the person concerned the opportunity to protect his interest if he so chooses.[26] Hence,
failure to serve summons will not deprive the court of its jurisdiction to try and decide the case. In such a
case, the lack of summons may be excused where it is determined that the adverse party had, in fact, the
opportunity to file his opposition, as in this case. We find that the due process requirement with respect
to respondent has been satisfied, considering that he has participated in the proceedings in this case and
he has the opportunity to file his opposition to the petition to establish filiation.

To address respondents contention that the petition should have been adversarial in form, we
further hold that the herein petition to establish filiation was sufficient in form. It was indeed adversarial
in nature despite its caption which lacked the name of a defendant, the failure to implead respondent as
defendant, and the non-service of summons upon respondent. A proceeding is adversarial where the
party seeking relief has given legal warning to the other party and afforded the latter an opportunity to
contest it.[27] In this petitionclassified as an action in remthe notice requirement for an adversarial
proceeding was likewise satisfied by the publication of the petition and the giving of notice to the Solicitor
General, as directed by the trial court.

The petition to establish filiation is sufficient in substance. It satisfies Section 1, Rule 8 of the Rules
of Court, which requires the complaint to contain a plain, concise, and direct statement of the ultimate
facts upon which the plaintiff bases his claim. A fact is essential if it cannot be stricken out without leaving
the statement of the cause of action inadequate.[28] A complaint states a cause of action when it contains
the following elements: (1) the legal right of plaintiff, (2) the correlative obligation of the defendant, and
(3) the act or omission of the defendant in violation of said legal right.[29]
The petition sufficiently states the ultimate facts relied upon by petitioner to establish his filiation
to respondent. Respondent, however, contends that the allegations in the petition were hearsay as they
were not of petitioners personal knowledge. Such matter is clearly a matter of evidence that cannot be
determined at this point but only during the trial when petitioner presents his evidence.

In a motion to dismiss a complaint based on lack of cause of action, the question submitted to the court
for determination is the sufficiency of the allegations made in the complaint to constitute a cause of action
and not whether those allegations of fact are true, for said motion must hypothetically admit the truth of
the facts alleged in the complaint.[30]
The inquiry is confined to the four corners of the complaint, and no other.[31] The test of the sufficiency of
the facts alleged in the complaint is whether or not, admitting the facts alleged, the court could render a
valid judgment upon the same in accordance with the prayer of the complaint.[32]

If the allegations of the complaint are sufficient in form and substance but their veracity and correctness
are assailed, it is incumbent upon the court to deny the motion to dismiss and require the defendant to
answer and go to trial to prove his defense. The veracity of the assertions of the parties can be ascertained
at the trial of the case on the merits.[33]

The statement in Herrera v. Alba[34] that there are four significant procedural aspects in a
traditional paternity case which parties have to face has been widely misunderstood and misapplied in
this case. A party is confronted by these so-called procedural aspects during trial, when the parties have
presented their respective evidence. They are matters of evidence that cannot be determined at this initial
stage of the proceedings, when only the petition to establish filiation has been filed. The CAs observation
that petitioner failed to establish a prima facie casethe first procedural aspect in a paternity caseis
therefore misplaced. Aprima facie case is built by a partys evidence and not by mere allegations in the
initiatory pleading.

Clearly then, it was also not the opportune time to discuss the lack of a prima facie case vis--vis
the motion for DNA testing since no evidence has, as yet, been presented by petitioner. More essentially,
it is premature to discuss whether, under the circumstances, a DNA testing order is warranted considering
that no such order has yet been issued by the trial court. In fact, the latter has just set the said case for
hearing.

At any rate, the CAs view that it would be dangerous to allow a DNA testing without corroborative
proof is well taken and deserves the Courts attention. In light of this observation, we find that there is a
need to supplement the Rule on DNA Evidence to aid the courts in resolving motions for DNA testing
order, particularly in paternity and other filiation cases. We, thus, address the question of whether a prima
facie showing is necessary before a court can issue a DNA testing order.

The Rule on DNA Evidence was enacted to guide the Bench and the Bar for the introduction and
use of DNA evidence in the judicial system. It provides the prescribed parameters on the requisite
elements for reliability and validity (i.e., the proper procedures, protocols, necessary laboratory reports,
etc.), the possible sources of error, the available objections to the admission of DNA test results as
evidence as well as the probative value of DNA evidence. It seeks to ensure that the evidence gathered,
using various methods of DNA analysis, is utilized effectively and properly, [and] shall not be misused
and/or abused and, more importantly, shall continue to ensure that DNA analysis serves justice and
protects, rather than prejudice the public.[35]

Not surprisingly, Section 4 of the Rule on DNA Evidence merely provides for conditions that are
aimed to safeguard the accuracy and integrity of the DNA testing. Section 4 states:
SEC. 4. Application for DNA Testing Order. The appropriate court may, at any time,
either motu proprio or on application of any person who has a legal interest in the matter
in litigation, order a DNA testing. Such order shall issue after due hearing and notice to
the parties upon a showing of the following:
(a) A biological sample exists that is relevant to the case;
(b) The biological sample: (i) was not previously subjected to the type of DNA
testing now requested; or (ii) was previously subjected to DNA testing, but
the results may require confirmation for good reasons;
(c) The DNA testing uses a scientifically valid technique;
(d) The DNA testing has the scientific potential to produce new information that
is relevant to the proper resolution of the case; and
(e) The existence of other factors, if any, which the court may consider as
potentially affecting the accuracy or integrity of the DNA testing.
This Rule shall not preclude a DNA testing, without need of a prior court order, at
the behest of any party, including law enforcement agencies, before a suit or proceeding
is commenced.

This does not mean, however, that a DNA testing order will be issued as a matter of right if, during
the hearing, the said conditions are established.

In some states, to warrant the issuance of the DNA testing order, there must be a show cause
hearing wherein the applicant must first present sufficient evidence to establish a prima facie case or a
reasonable possibility of paternity or good cause for the holding of the test. [36] In these states, a court
order for blood testing is considered a search, which, under their Constitutions (as in ours), must be
preceded by a finding of probable cause in order to be valid. Hence, the requirement of a prima facie case,
or reasonable possibility, was imposed in civil actions as a counterpart of a finding of probable cause. The
Supreme Court of Louisiana eloquently explained

Although a paternity action is civil, not criminal, the constitutional prohibition against
unreasonable searches and seizures is still applicable, and a proper showing of sufficient
justification under the particular factual circumstances of the case must be made before
a court may order a compulsory blood test. Courts in various jurisdictions have differed
regarding the kind of procedures which are required, but those jurisdictions have almost
universally found that a preliminary showing must be made before a court can
constitutionally order compulsory blood testing in paternity cases. We agree, and find
that, as a preliminary matter, before the court may issue an order for compulsory blood
testing, the moving party must show that there is a reasonable possibility of paternity. As
explained hereafter, in cases in which paternity is contested and a party to the action
refuses to voluntarily undergo a blood test, a show cause hearing must be held in which
the court can determine whether there is sufficient evidence to establish a prima
facie case which warrants issuance of a court order for blood testing.[37]
The same condition precedent should be applied in our jurisdiction to protect the putative father
from mere harassment suits. Thus, during the hearing on the motion for DNA testing, the petitioner must
present prima facie evidence or establish a reasonable possibility of paternity.
Notwithstanding these, it should be stressed that the issuance of a DNA testing order remains
discretionary upon the court. The court may, for example, consider whether there is absolute necessity
for the DNA testing. If there is already preponderance of evidence to establish paternity and the DNA test
result would only be corroborative, the court may, in its discretion, disallow a DNA testing.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is GRANTED. The Court of Appeals Decision dated
September 25, 2009 and Resolution dated December 17, 2009 are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The Orders
dated October 20, 2008 and January 19, 2009 of the Regional Trial Court of Valenzuela Cityare AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
FIRST DIVISION
G.R. No. L-75377 February 17, 1988
CHUA KENG GIAP, petitioner,
vs.
HON. INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE COURT and CHUA LIAN KING respondents.

CRUZ, J.:
We are faced once again with still another bid by petitioner for the status of a legitimate heir. He has
failed before, and he will fail again.
In this case, the petitioner insists that he is the son of the deceased Sy Kao and that it was error for the
respondent court to reject his claim. He also says his motion for reconsideration should not have been
denied for tardiness because it was in fact filed on time under the Habaluyas ruling. 1
This case arose when Chua Keng Giap filed on May 19, 1983, a petition for the settlement of the estate
of the late Sy Kao in the regional trial court of Quezon City. The private respondent moved to dismiss for
lack of a cause of action and of the petitioner's capacity to file the petition. The latter, it was claimed,
had been declared as not the son of the spouses Chua Bing Guan and Sy Kao in S.P. No. Q-12592, for the
settlement of the estate of the late Chua Bing Guan. The decision in that case had long become final and
executory. 2
The motion was denied by Judge Jose P. Castro, who held that the case invoked decided the paternity
and not the maternity of the petitioner. 3 Holding that this was mere quibbling, the respondent court
reversed the trial judge in a petition for certiorari filed by the private respondent. 4 The motion for
reconsideration was denied for late filing. 5 The petitioner then came to this Court to challenge these
rulings.
The petitioner argues at length that the question to be settled in a motion to dismiss based on lack of a
cause of action is the sufficiency of the allegation itself and not whether these allegations are true or
not, for their truth is hypothetically admitted. 6 That is correct. He also submits that an order denying a
motion to dismiss is merely interlocutory and therefore reversible not in a petition for certiorari but on
appeal. 7 That is also correct Even so, the petition must be and is hereby denied.
The petitioner is beating a dead horse. The issue of his claimed filiation has long been settled, and with
finality, by no less than this Court. That issue cannot be resurrected now because it has been laid to rest
in Sy Kao v. Court of Appeals, 8 decided on September 28, 1984. In that case, Sy Kao flatly and
unequivocally declared that she was not the petitioner's mother.
The Court observed through Justice Hugo E. Gutierrez, Jr.
Petitioner Sy Kao denies that respondent Chua Keng Giap is her son by the deceased
Chua Bing Guan. Thus, petitioner's opposition filed on December 19, 1968, is based
principally on the ground that the respondent was not the son of Sy Kao and the
deceased but of a certain Chua Eng Kun and his wife Tan Kuy.
After hearing on the merits which lasted for ten years, the court dismissed the
respondent's petition on March 2, 1979 on a finding that he is not a son of petitioner Sy
Kao and the deceased, and therefore, had no lawful interest in the estate of the latter
and no right to institute the intestacy proceedings.
The respondent tried to appeal the court's resolution but his appeal was denied by the
lower court for having been filed out of time. He then filed a mandamus case with the
Court of appeals but the same was dismissed. Respondent, therefore, sought relief by
filing a petition for certiorari, G.R. No. 54992, before this Court but his petition was
likewise dismissed on January 30, 1982, for lack of merit. His subsequent motions for
reconsideration met a similar fate.
xxx xxx xxx
To allow the parties to go on with the trial on the merits would not only subject the
petitioners to the expense and ordeal of obligation which might take them another ten
years, only to prove a point already decided in Special Proceeding No. Q-12592, but
more importantly, such would violate the doctrine of res judicata which is expressly
provided for in Section 49, Rule 39 of the Rules of Court.
There is no point in prolonging these proceedings with an examination of the procedural objections to
the grant of the motion to dismiss. In the end, assuming denial of the motion, the resolution of the
merits would have to be the same anyway as in the aforesaid case. The petitioner's claim of filiation
would still have to be rejected.
Discussion of the seasonableness of the motion for reconsideration is also unnecessary as the motion
would have been validly denied just the same even if filed on time.
Who better than Sy Kao herself would know if Chua Keng Giap was really her son? More than any one
else, it was Sy Kao who could say — as indeed she has said these many years--that Chua Keng Giap was
not begotten of her womb.
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED, with costs against the petitioner. It is so ordered.
Teehankee, C.J., Narvasa, Gancayco and Griño-Aquino, JJ., concur.

Footnotes
1 Petition.
2 Rollo, pp. 184, 108, 54.
3 Ibid., p. 50.
4 Id., pp. 52-60, Decision penned by Kapunan, J., and concurred in by Sison, Lazaro and
Cruz JJ.
5 Id., p. 62.
6 Id., p. 62. Id., pp. 127-130, 156-161.
7 Id., pp. 36-38.
8 132 SCRA 302.

SECOND DIVISION
[G.R. No. 118852. January 20, 1997]
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. EDGARDO QUITORIANO y BRIONES, accused-
appellant.
DECISION
PUNO, J.:
Accused-appellant Edgardo Quitoriano y Briones was charged before the Regional Trial Court of XXX,
Marinduque with the crime of Rape allegedly committed as follows:
That on or about the 24th day of December 1992 at around 9:00 o'clock in the evening at barangay XXX,
municipality of XXX, province of Marinduque, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable
Court, the above named accused, armed with a fan knife, entered the dwelling of complainant, who was
then alone, and by means of force, intimidation and threats against her life, wilfully, unlawfully and
feloniously did lie and succeed in having carnal knowledge of complainant, against her will, and to her
damage and prejudice.
CONTRARY TO LAW. [1]
Accused-appellant pleaded "not guilty". Hence, trial ensued.
Private complainant AAA testified that in the evening of December 24, 1992, she was in the kitchen
located at the back of their house in Barangay XXX, XXX, Marinduque. The kitchen is about three (3) arms
length away from the main house. At about 9:00 in the evening, accused-appellant entered the kitchen,
poked a knife on her neck, and dragged her to the bamboo bed ("papag") about one-half arms length from
the stove. Accused-appellant laid her down and removed her short pants and underwear. He then took
off his pants and had sexual intercourse with her. Private complainant trembled because of fear.
Thereafter, accused-appellant warned her not to tell anybody about the incident, or else, he would kill
her. Private complainant kept the incident to herself. However, in June 1993, her aunt, BBB discovered
that she was pregnant. Thus, private complainant was forced to tell her aunt and her parents about the
sexual assault committed against her by accused-appellant on December 24, 1992. On August 2, 1993,
private complainant filed a complaint for rape against accused-appellant. [2]Private complainant gave birth
on October 31, 1993. [3]
Accused-appellant interposed the defense of alibi. He testified that from 7:00 until 10:00 in the
evening on December 24, 1992, he was at the house of Paulino Rioflorido in Barangay Pakaskasan,
Torrijos, Marinduque. He was then having a drinking session with Reynaldo Rioflorido, the son of Paulino.
At 10:00, they attended a party at the house of Jose Ampiloquio which was about 400 meters from the
Rioflorido residence. The party ended at around 1:00 in the morning, after which, they proceeded to
accused-appellant's house. [4]
The trial court found accused-appellant guilty and sentenced him to reclusion perpetua, thus:
WHEREFORE, finding the accused guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Rape defined and
punished under Art. 325 of the Revised Penal Code, committed with the use of a deadly weapon, he
should be sentenced to suffer the penalty ranging from reclusion perpetua to death.
However, since when the act was committed the death penalty cannot be imposed, he is hereby
sentenced to suffer the penalty of RECLUSION PERPETUA (Art. 27, RPC). There being no claim for moral
damages, no pronouncement of the same is hereby made.
The accused shall be credited with the full extent of his preventive imprisonment under Article 29 of the
Revised Penal Code.
The accused is likewise ordered to suffer the accessory penalty for reclusion perpetua.
The bond posted by the accused for his provisional liberty is hereby cancelled.
The body of the accused is hereby committed to the custody of the Director of the Bureau of
Corrections, National Penitentiary, Muntinlupa, Metro Manila, thru the Provincial Warden of
Marinduque.
SO ORDERED. [5]
Accused-appellant filed this appeal with its lone assignment of error:
The trial court erred in convicting the accused of rape beyond reasonable doubt. [6]
We affirm the judgment of conviction.
Private complainant's testimony is clear and detailed. Even in the cross-examination, her answers
were consistent and unwavering. It is settled that in rape cases, the lone testimony of the victim, if
credible, is enough to sustain a conviction. [7]
Accused-appellant's alibi cannot prevail over private complainant's testimony.
First, private complainant positively identified accused-appellant as the rapist. The kitchen was
sufficiently illuminated by a gas lamp when accused-appellant entered. Then, he stood in front of private
complainant and stared at her for a moment before dragging her to the bamboo bed, thus allowing her
to see his face.[8]
Second, accused-appellant failed to prove that it was physically impossible for him to be at the crime
scene at the time of its commission. The felony was committed on December 24, 1992, around 9:00 in the
evening, in private complainant's house in Barangay Pakaskasan, Torrijos, Marinduque. Accused-appellant
testified that on that date, from 7:00 to 10:00 in the evening, he was having a drinking session with
Reynaldo Rioflorido in the latter's house. At 10:00, they proceeded to Jose Ampiloquio's residence to
attend a party. The house of Rioflorido and that of Ampiloquio are both located in Barangay Pakaskasan.
Rioflorido's house is only 200 meters away from private complainant's house.[9] Accused-appellant and
Reynaldo even passed by private complainant's house in going to Ampiloquio's house.[10] Accused-
appellant also admitted that he could walk a distance of 200 meters in five minutes. [11] Thus, it was not
impossible for accused-appellant to slip from Rioflorido's house to go to private complainant's house to
carry out his evil deed.
Third, accused-appellant failed to show any motive on the part of private complainant to indict him
for rape, unless the charges were true. He testified:
Q: Do you know of any reason why AAA would accuse you falsely of such serious crime as
Rape?
A: None, sir.
Q: You have not courted her at any time prior to December 24, 1992?
A: No, sir.
Q: In all those occasions you associated once in a while as you said with AAA, you did not find
any indication that she loves you?
A: No, sir.
xxx
Court to the witness:
Q: Is there any grudge existing between you and AAAs family?
A: None, Your Honor.
xxx [12]
Private complainant's delay in reporting the sexual assault should not be taken against her because
accused-appellant threatened to kill her if she tells anybody about it. Private complainant heeded
accused-appellant's threat and kept mum about the incident. Her pregnancy, however, forced her to
disclose to her aunt and later to her parents, the sexual attack committed against her by accused-
appellant. Delay in the filing of a criminal complaint does not necessarily impair the credibility of the
witness if such delay is satisfactorily explained.[13]
The fact that private complainant gave birth more than ten months after the alleged rape does not
discredit her testimony. Dr. Honesto Marquez, a physician from the Marinduque Provincial Hospital,
explained that the normal gestation period is 40 weeks or 280 days, but it can also extend beyond 40
weeks if the woman is having her first pregnancy. [14] It is undisputed that the child delivered by private
complainant on October 31, 1993 was her first. Hence, it is not impossible that the child was conceived in
December, 1992, the date of the alleged rape.
The trial court, therefore, did not err in finding accused-appellant guilty beyond reasonable doubt of
the crime of rape. It, however, erred in not awarding moral damages to private complainant. Under our
existing jurisprudence, victims of rape are entitled to moral damages of P50,000.00. [15]
IN VIEW WHEREOF, the appealed decision is AFFIRMED with the MODIFICATION ordering accused-
appellant to pay P50,000.00 to private complainant as moral damages. Costs against accused-appellant.
SO ORDERED
Regalado, (Chairman), Romero, Mendoza, and Torres, Jr., JJ., concur.
[1]
Original Records, p. 21.
[2]
Exhibit "A"; Original Records, p. 3.
[3]
TSN, May 19, 1994, pp. 5-9.
[4]
TSN, July 26, 1994, pp. 9-13.
[5]
RTC Decision, Rollo, pp. 27-28.
[6]
Appellant's Brief, Rollo, p. 52.
[7]
People vs. Bulaybulay, 248 SCRA 601 (1995).
[8]
TSN, May 19, 1994, p. 14
[9]
TSN, July 26, 1994, p. 5.
[10]
TSN, July 26, 1994, p. 22; Exhibits "C", "C-2", "C-3 "C-4"
[11]
TSN, July 26, 1994, p. 17.
[12]
TSN, July 26, 1994, p. 16.
[13]
People vs. Errojo, 229 SCRA 49 (1994).
[14]
TSN, June 30, 1994, p. 5.
[15]
People vs. Laray, G.R. No. 101809, February 20, 1996; People vs. Sanchez, 250 SCRA 14 (1995);
People vs. Malunes, 247 SCRA 317 (1995); People vs. Espinoza, 247 SCRA (1995).

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
SECOND DIVISION

G.R. No. 102372 November 15, 1994


FLAVIANO S. GASPAY, JR., AND ERIBERTA S. GASPAY, petitioners,
vs.
THE HON. COURT OF APPEALS AND GUADALUPE GASPAY ALFARO, respondents.
Anita B. de Loyola for petitioners.
Nilo T. Bacolod for private respondent.

PUNO, J.:
This is a petition for certiorari seeking to reverse the Decision of the respondent Court of Appeals in CA-
G.R. CV No. 25872.
The facts reveal that Flaviano Gaspay died without a last will and testament on October 14, 1983 in
Tacloban City. He was then married to Agueda Denoso. They were childless.
On July 6, 1988, private respondent Guadalupe Gaspay Alfaro files a petition in the trial court 1 alleging,
among others, that she is the acknowledged illegitimate daughter of the deceased Flaviano Gaspay, who
died without a will and left certain real and personal properties. She identified her mother as Claudia
Pason with whom decedent allegedly had an illicit relationship. She prayed for issuance of letters of
administration of the decedent's estate.
Petitioners Flaviano S. Gaspay, Jr., and Eriberta Salvatieva Gaspay opposed the petition with motion to
dismiss. Flaviano, Jr., is an adopted son of the decedent while Eriberta is also not a next of kin. They
alleged that private respondent is a stranger and even assuming her illegitimate status, there is no proof
of her recognition or acknowledgment.
The motion to dismiss was denied. The trial court 2 ruled it was not based on indubitable grounds.
Evidence was then adduced by private respondent. In an Order dated December 6, 1989, the trial court
dismissed the petition. It held:
(1) the testimonial and documentary evidence 3 failed to prove the purported status of private
respondent; (2) they also failed to show that private respondent, then already of age consented to her
recognition as an illegitimate child; 4 and
(3) even if the petition were to be treated as an action to compel recognition, it would not prosper
because it should have been filed during the lifetime of Flaviano Gaspay. 5
Private respondents appealed to the respondent Court of Appeals. In a Decision promulgated
September 30, 1991, the Special Third Division 6 of the respondent court reversed the trial court. It held:
(1) the evidence is ample to prove the filiation and recognition of private respondent as an illegitimate
child of the decedent; (2) the evidence is also sufficient to show that private respondent consented to
her recognition by the decedent; and (3) actions based on voluntary recognition can be instituted after
the death of the putative father.
Thus, private respondent filed the instant petition for certiorari contending:
I
THE APPELLATE COURT ERRED IN DISTURBING THE FINDINGS OF FACT OF THE TRIAL
COURT WITH REGARDS TO THE CREDIBILITY OF WITNESS MARTIN GARIN WHICH WAS
NOT EVEN MADE AN ASSIGNED ERROR IN APPELLANT'S BRIEF (IN VIOLATION OF
SECTION 7, RULE 51 OF THE RULES OF COURT).
II
THE APPELLATE COURT ERRED IN FINDING THAT THE ALLEGED OPEN AND CONTINUOUS
POSSESSION OF GUADALUPE OF THE STATUS OF AN ILLEGITIMATE CHILD CAN STILL BE
BROUGHT AFTER THE DEATH OF THE ALLEGED PARENT (WHICH IS CONTRARY TO THE
PROVISIONS OF ARTICLE 175 IN RELATION TO SECOND PARAGRAPH OF ARTICLE 172 OF
THE FAMILY CODE).
III
THE APPELLATE COURT ERRED IN FINDING THAT GUADALUPE IS ENTITLED TO LETTERS
OF ADMINISTRATION.
We find no merit in the appeal.
Anent the first error, it cannot be gainsaid that private respondent assailed on appeal the correctness of
the trial court's conclusion of fact that the evidence failed to prove her allegation that she was
recognized as an illegitimate daughter by the decedent. In resolving this factual issue, the respondent
court did not err in exhaustively examining each and every specie of evidence relevant thereto and one
of them involves the truth of the testimony of witness Martin Garin. Indeed, this key issue cannot be
resolved authoritatively without considering the testimony of Garin, the principal witness of the private
respondent.
We now come to the competence and credibility of witness Garin. The trial court did not give any value
to his testimony. The respondent court did. We sustain the respondent court. Garin testified that the
two (2) letters marked as Exhibits "K" and "L" were written by decedent. These letters are vital evidence
for the private respondent for they show that the decedent acknowledged her as his daughter. Exhibit
"K" written in "waray" dialect was translated in the trial court as follows:
T
o
m
a
l
i
s
t
i
e
s
C
a
i
b
i
r
a
n
L
e
y
t
e
M
a
r
c
h
1
0
,
1
9
8
0
My dear Child,
Lupe, I received your letter and I understood your purpose that you are
asking for money in the sum of P500.00 pesos because you are going to
use it for the operation of the feet of your child Marilyn.
But Lupe, because I am short of money, accept in the meantime this
P200.00 because this is the only amount I can raise to send you here at
Southern Island Hospital Cebu City, for I pity you because you are my
child and Marilyn my grandchild.
Your
father,
(Sgd.)
Flavian
o
Gaspay
On the other hand, Exhibit "L" also written in "waray" was translated as follows:
T
o
m
a
l
i
s
t
i
e
s
,
C
a
i
b
i
r
a
n
,
L
e
y
t
e
A
u
g
u
s
t
1
4
,
1
9
8
3
My children Toming and Lupe,
Because I feel my body is about to weaken already, I urge you to verify
my lands located in Culaba and in Caibiran so that the share of Lupe will
be assured.
Toming, this letter to you is my gift on your birthday today.
Your
father,
(Sgd.)
Flavian
o
Gaspay
The trial court dismissed the testimony of Garin on two (2) grounds. First, it held that Garin did not even
bother to examine the letters, Exhibits "K" and "L". The records do not sustain this ruling. We quote the
relevant testimony of Garin, viz.:
Court:
Q Are you familiar with the signature of Flaviano Gaspay?
A Yes, your Honor.
Atty. Bacolod (counsel for petitioner):
Q You are familiar with the signature of Flaviano Gaspay, are you
familiar with his penmanship?
A Yes, sir.
Q Showing to you this document which the same had been marked as
EXHIBIT "K" will you take a look at this, do you see that?
A Yes, sir.
Q Whose penmanship is this and the signature?
A Flaviano Gaspay and that is the signature of Flaviano Gaspay.
Q Why do you say that that is his penmanship and this is his signature?
A I am familiar with his penmanship and signature.
Q Why do you know that this is his penmanship and signature.
A I was an agent of his concession for 18 years second, we were both
government officials of Culaba from 1955 to 1959.
Atty. Nilo T. Bacolod:
Q You said that you are an agent of his logging concession for 18 years,
from what year up to what year?
A From 1932 to 1951.
Atty. Bacolod:
We request your Honor that the signature of Flaviano Gaspay as
identified by his witness be marked as our EXHIBIT "K-1".
Q We have here a document marked as Exhibit "L" please look at it, do
you see that?
A Yes, sir.
Q Whose penmanship is that and whose signature is this?
A That is Flaviano Gaspay's penmanship and signature.
We request your Honor that the signature below be marked as our
EXHIBIT "L-1".
Court:
What date is that?
Atty. Bacolod:
August 14, 1983 Exh. "K" and August 10, 1980. May I be allowed to
borrow the Exhibits of the Respondents about the supposed letter
which were marked in their Annexes from "A" to "I".
Atty. Gaspay:
May we know the purpose your Honor.
Atty. Bacolod:
For him to identify your Honor.
Court:
Lend him your Exhibits.
Atty. Bacolod:
Q Will you take a look at this document, this one marked as Exhibit "1"?
A Yes, sir.
Q This Exhibit "2"?
A Yes, sir.
Q This Exhibit "3"?
A Yes, sir.
Q Another Exhibit "4", take a look at this one?
A I see it.
Q Take a look at Exhibit "5"?
A I see that already.
Q Take a look at Exhibit "6"?
A I have seen it.
Q Exhibit "7"?
A Yes I see it.
Q Exhibit "8"?
A Yes I see it.
Q Exhibit "9"?
A Yes sir I see it..
Q Exhibit "10"?
A Yes I see it.
Q Exhibit "11"?
A Yes sir.
Q Exhibit "12"?
A Yes I see it.
Q What can you say about these documents marked as Exhibits "1" to
"12"?
A That is not the one?
Q What is that which is not the one?
A That is not written by Flaviano Gaspay.
Q Not the one written by whom?
A That are not letters of Gaspay.
Q Who is that Gaspay you are referring to?
A Flaviano Gaspay.
Q Now let's go back to the joint affidavit, Exhibit "S" in this affidavit you
signed you made mention of names, Flaviano Gaspay and Claudia
Pason, who is this Claudia Pason?
A Mistress of Flaviano Gaspay.
Q Why did you say that Claudia Pason is the paramour or kerida of
Flaviano Gaspay?
A Because he had a real wife.
Q Who is that wife?
A Agueda Denoso.
Q When was this when Claudia Pason was the kerida of Flaviano
Gaspay?
A From 1934, 35, 36 and 37.
Q How did you know that this Claudia Pason is the kerida of Flaviano
Gaspay?
A We are neighbors, our houses are less than four arms length to the
house of Claudia Pason.
Q In what place is that?
A Culaba, Leyte.
Q That place where Claudia Pason was living who was her husband
then?
A Flaviano Gaspay.
Q You mean to convey to this Honorable Court that they were living as
husband and wife?
A Yes, sir.
Q As a result of this illicit relationship of the two, what happened?
A They bore a child.
Q What do you mean when you said bore one child?
A Claudia Pason gave birth to a child.
Q Do you know who this child is?
A Yes, sir.
Q Who?
A Guadalupe Gaspay Alfaro.
Q Who is the mother of Guadalupe Gaspay?
A Claudia Pason.
Q Who is the father of Guadalupe Gaspay?
A Flaviano Gaspay.
Court:
That is not allowed.
Atty. Bacolod:
Q Of your own knowledge, if you know whether Guadalupe Gaspay had
come to school?
A Yes, sir.
Q Where at?
A Culaba.
Q Do you know who supported her schooling?
A Yes, sir.
Q Do you know if this Guadalupe Gaspay is already married?
A Yes sir, she is married.
Q Do you know who her husband is?
A Yes sir, Bartolome Alfaro.
Q Do you know the nickname of Bartolome Alfaro?
A Yes sir. Toming Alfaro.
Q Do you know if this Guadalupe Gaspay has a nickname?
A Yes sir.
Q What is the nickname of Guadalupe Gaspay?
A Lupe.
Atty. Bacolod:
That will be all your Honor. 7
Secondly, the trial court noted that the last time Garin received a letter from the decedent was in 1961
and the last time he saw him write was in 1959. It held that Garin had no competence to testify about
the authenticity of Exhibit "L" written in 1980 and Exhibit "M" written in 1983. In reversing this ruling,
the respondent court held and we agree that the trial court "unfairly assumes that Flaviano Gaspay's
penmanship actually metamorphosed into something divergent or different from what Garin saw him
write in 1959 and 1961. For it is a fact that there are people whose hand remain steady over the years,
and whose eyes even acquire better vision in their twilight years." We hasten to add that petitioners did
not present any evidence to prove any change in the penmanship of Gaspay, Sr.
We are also satisfied that the evidence profusely proved that private respondent consented to her
voluntary recognition as an illegitimate child by the decedent. As well analyzed by the respondent court:
To begin with, petitioner has been sporting the name Guadalupe Gaspay since
childhood up to the time she got married to Bartolome Alfaro on May 22, 1953 and
even up to the present her acknowledged name is Guadalupe Gaspay Alfaro. (Exhibits J,
J-1 and J-2). And then when she filed the subject petition in this case she used the same
surname Gaspay after her father and Alfaro after her lawful spouse since her marriage,
thereby accepting the fact and telling the world that she is the recognized daughter of
the deceased Flaviano Gaspay. At the time the present petition was filed on July 26,
1988 petitioner was already over 51 years old, having been born on December 12, 1936.
All these undisputed facts are sufficient evidence that she consented to her
acknowledgment by the decedent. (Javelona, et al., vs. Monteclaro, 74 Phil. 393).
Whether or not judicial approval of such acknowledgment is required was answered in
the negative in Apacible, et al. vs. Castillo, 74 Phil. 589, where the Supreme Court held
that such approval may be supplied by the child's consent given after reaching majority,
which obtained in the case at bar.
In light of the above, the death of Flaviano Gaspay, Sr., does not constitute a time bar to private
respondent's claim as his acknowledged illegitimate daughter. Settled is the rule that "actions based on
voluntary acknowledgment may be brought even after the father's death." 8
In sum, private respondent has proved her entitlement to be administrator of the estate of Flaviano
Gaspay, Sr., her father. Section 6 of Rule 78 is in her favor, thus:
Sec. 6. When and to whom letters of administration granted. — If no executor is named
in the will, or the executor or executors are incompetent, refused the trust, or fail to
give bond, or a person dies intestate, administration shall be granted:
xxx xxx xxx
(b) If much surviving husband or wife, as the case may be, or next of kin, or the person
selected by them, be incompetent or unwilling, or if the husband or widow, or next kin,
neglects for thirty (30) days after the death of the person to apply for administration or
to request that administration be granted to some other person, it may be granted to
one or more of the principal creditors, if competent and willing to serve;
(c) If there is no such creditor competent and willing to serve, it may be granted to such
other person as the court may select.
For a fact, petitioners neglected to apply for letters of administration thirty (30) days after the death of
Gaspay, Sr.
IN VIEW WHEREOF, the petition for certiorari is dismissed there being no reversible error in the Decision
of the respondent court dated September 30, 1991 in CA-G.R. CV No. 25872. Costs against petitioner.
SO ORDERED.
Narvasa, C.J., Regalado and Mendoza, JJ., concur.

#Footnotes
1 RTC of Naval, Branch 16, Biliran, Leyte.
2 Presided by Judge Adriano Villamor.
3 Exhibits "K" and "L".
4 Article 281, Civil Code.
5 Article 172 in relation to Article 175 of the Family Code.
6 Composed of Associate Justice Santiago M. Kapunan (Chairman), Associate Justice
Segundino G. Chua ( ponente) and Associate Justice Quirino D. Abad Santos (member).
7 TSN, October 12, 1989, pp. 6 to 11.
8 Vda. de Sy-Quia vs. Court of Appeals, 125 SCRA 835.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
SECOND DIVISION

G.R. No. 105625 January 24, 1994


MARISSA BENITEZ-BADUA, petitioner,
vs.
COURT OF APPEALS, VICTORIA BENITEZ LIRIO AND FEODOR BENITEZ AGUILAR, respondents.
Reynaldo M. Alcantara for petitioner.
Augustus Cesar E. Azura for private respondents.

PUNO, J.:
This is a petition for review of the Decision of the 12th Division of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. No. CV
No. 30862 dated May 29, 1992. 1
The facts show that the spouses Vicente Benitez and Isabel Chipongian owned various properties
especially in Laguna. Isabel died on April 25, 1982. Vicente followed her in the grave on November 13,
1989. He died intestate.
The fight for administration of Vicente's estate ensued. On September 24, 1990, private respondents
Victoria Benitez-Lirio and Feodor Benitez Aguilar (Vicente's sister and nephew, respectively) instituted
Sp. Proc. No. 797 (90) before the RTC of San Pablo City, 4th Judicial Region, Br. 30. They prayed for the
issuance of letters of administration of Vicente's estate in favor of private respondent Aguilar. They
alleged, inter alia, viz.:
xxx xxx xxx
4. The decedent is survived by no other heirs or relatives be they ascendants or
descendants, whether legitimate, illegitimate or legally adopted; despite claims or
representation to the contrary, petitioners can well and truly establish, given the chance
to do so, that said decedent and his spouse Isabel Chipongian who pre-deceased him,
and whose estate had earlier been settled extra-judicial, were without issue and/or
without descendants whatsoever, and that one Marissa Benitez-Badua who was raised
and cared by them since childhood is, in fact, not related to them by blood, nor legally
adopted, and is therefore not a legal heir; . . .
On November 2, 1990, petitioner opposed the petition. She alleged that she is the sole heir of the
deceased Vicente Benitez and capable of administering his estate. The parties further exchanged reply
and rejoinder to buttress their legal postures.
The trial court then received evidence on the issue of petitioner's heirship to the estate of the deceased.
Petitioner tried to prove that she is the only legitimate child of the spouses Vicente Benitez and Isabel
Chipongian. She submitted documentary evidence, among others: (1) her Certificate of Live Birth (Exh.
3); (2) Baptismal Certificate (Exh. 4); (3) Income Tax Returns and Information Sheet for Membership with
the GSIS of the late Vicente naming her as his daughter (Exhs. 10 to 21); and (4) School Records (Exhs. 5
& 6). She also testified that the said spouses reared an continuously treated her as their legitimate
daughter. On the other hand, private respondents tried to prove, mostly thru testimonial evidence, that
the said spouses failed to beget a child during their marriage; that the late Isabel, then thirty six (36)
years of age, was even referred to Dr. Constantino Manahan, a noted obstetrician-gynecologist, for
treatment. Their primary witness, Victoria Benitez-Lirio, elder sister of the late Vicente, then 77 years of
age, 2 categorically declared that petitioner was not the biological child of the said spouses who were
unable to physically procreate.
On December 17, 1990, the trial court decided in favor of the petitioner. It dismissed the private
respondents petition for letters and administration and declared petitioner as the legitimate daughter
and sole heir of the spouses Vicente O. Benitez and Isabel Chipongian. The trial court relied on Articles
166 and 170 of the Family Code.
On appeal, however, the Decision of the trial court was reversed on May 29, 1992 by the 17th Division
of the Court of Appeals. The dispositive portion of the Decision of the appellate court states:
WHEREFORE, the decision appealed from herein is REVERSED and another one entered
declaring that appellee Marissa Benitez is not the biological daughter or child by nature
of the spouse Vicente O. Benitez and Isabel Chipongian and, therefore, not a legal heir
of the deceased Vicente O. Benitez. Her opposition to the petition for the appointment
of an administrator of the intestate of the deceased Vicente O. Benitez is, consequently,
DENIED; said petition and the proceedings already conducted therein reinstated; and
the lower court is directed to proceed with the hearing of Special proceeding No. SP-797
(90) in accordance with law and the Rules.
Costs against appellee.
SO ORDERED.
In juxtaposition, the appellate court held that the trial court erred in applying Articles 166 and 170 of the
Family Code.
In this petition for review, petitioner contends:
1. The Honorable Court of Appeals committed error of law and misapprehension of facts
when it failed to apply the provisions, more particularly, Arts. 164, 166, 170 and 171 of
the Family Code in this case and in adopting and upholding private respondent's theory
that the instant case does not involve an action to impugn the legitimacy of a child;
2. Assuming arguendo that private respondents can question or impugn directly or
indirectly, the legitimacy of Marissa's birth, still the respondent appellate Court
committed grave abuse of discretion when it gave more weight to the testimonial
evidence of witnesses of private respondents whose credibility and demeanor have not
convinced the trial court of the truth and sincerity thereof, than the documentary and
testimonial evidence of the now petitioner Marissa Benitez-Badua;
3. The Honorable Court of Appeals has decided the case in a way not in accord with law
or with applicable decisions of the supreme Court, more particularly, on prescription or
laches.
We find no merit to the petition.
Petitioner's insistence on the applicability of Articles 164, 166, 170 and 171 of the Family Code to the
case at bench cannot be sustained. These articles provide:
Art. 164. Children conceived or born during the marriage of the parents are legitimate.
Children conceived as a result of artificial insemination of the wife with sperm of the
husband or that of a donor or both are likewise legitimate children of the husband and
his wife, provided, that both of them authorized or ratified such insemination in a
written instrument executed and signed by them before the birth of the child. The
instrument shall be recorded in the civil registry together with the birth certificate of the
child.
Art. 166. Legitimacy of child may be impugned only on the following grounds:
1) That it was physically impossible for the husband to have sexual intercourse with his
wife within the first 120 days of the 300 days which immediately preceded the birth of
the child because of:
a) the physical incapacity of the husband to have sexual intercourse
with his wife;
b) the fact that the husband and wife were living separately in such a
way that sexual intercourse was not possible; or
c) serious illness of the husband, which absolutely prevented sexual
intercourse.
2) That it is proved that for biological or other scientific reasons, the child could not
have been that of the husband except in the instance provided in the second paragraph
of Article 164; or
3) That in case of children conceived through artificial insemination, the written
authorization or ratification of either parent was obtained through mistake, fraud,
violence, intimidation, or undue influence.
Art. 170. The action to impugn the legitimacy of the child shall be brought within one
year from the knowledge of the birth or its recording in the civil register, if the husband
or, in a proper case, any of his heirs, should reside in the city or municipality where the
birth took place or was recorded.
If the husband or, in his default, all of his heirs do not reside at the place of birth as
defined in the first paragraph or where it was recorded, the period shall be two years if
they should reside in the Philippines; and three years if abroad. If the birth of the child
has been concealed from or was unknown to the husband or his heirs, the period shall
be counted from the discovery or knowledge of the birth of the child or of the fact of
registration of said birth, which ever is earlier.
Art. 171. The heirs of the husband may impugn the filiation of the child within the
period prescribed in the preceding Article only in the following case:
1) If the husband should die before the expiration of the period fixed for bringing his
action;
2) If he should die after the filing of the complaint, without having desisted therefrom;
or
3) If the child was born after the death of the husband.
A careful reading of the above articles will show that they do not contemplate a situation, like in the
instant case, where a child is alleged not to be the child of nature or biological child of a certain couple.
Rather, these articles govern a situation where a husband (or his heirs) denies as his own a child of his
wife. Thus, under Article 166, it is the husband who can impugn the legitimacy of said child by proving:
(1) it was physically impossible for him to have sexual intercourse, with his wife within the first 120 days
of the 300 days which immediately preceded the birth of the child; (2) that for biological or other
scientific reasons, the child could not have been his child; (3) that in case of children conceived through
artificial insemination, the written authorization or ratification by either parent was obtained through
mistake, fraud, violence, intimidation or undue influence. Articles 170 and 171 reinforce this reading as
they speak of the prescriptive period within which the husband or any of his heirs should file the action
impugning the legitimacy of said child. Doubtless then, the appellate court did not err when it refused to
apply these articles to the case at bench. For the case at bench is not one where the heirs of the late
Vicente are contending that petitioner is not his child by Isabel. Rather, their clear submission is that
petitioner was not born to Vicente and Isabel. Our ruling in Cabatbat-Lim vs. Intermediate Appellate
Court, 166 SCRA 451, 457 cited in the impugned decision is apropos, viz.:
Petitioners' recourse to Article 263 of the New Civil Code [now Article 170 of the Family
Code] is not well-taken. This legal provision refers to an action to impugn legitimacy. It is
inapplicable to this case because this is not an action to impugn the legitimacy of a child,
but an action of the private respondents to claim their inheritance as legal heirs of their
childless deceased aunt. They do not claim that petitioner Violeta Cabatbat Lim is an
illegitimate child of the deceased, but that she is not the decedent's child at all. Being
neither legally adopted child, nor an acknowledged natural child, nor a child by legal
fiction of Esperanza Cabatbat, Violeta is not a legal heir of the deceased.
We now come to the factual finding of the appellate court that petitioner was not the biological child or
child of nature of the spouses Vicente Benitez and Isabel Chipongian. The appellate court exhaustively
dissected the evidence of the parties as follows:
. . . And on this issue, we are constrained to say that appellee's evidence is utterly
insufficient to establish her biological and blood kinship with the aforesaid spouses,
while the evidence on record is strong and convincing that she is not, but that said
couple being childless and desirous as they were of having a child, the late Vicente O.
Benitez took Marissa from somewhere while still a baby, and without he and his wife's
legally adopting her treated, cared for, reared, considered, and loved her as their own
true child, giving her the status as not so, such that she herself had believed that she
was really their daughter and entitled to inherit from them as such.
The strong and convincing evidence referred to us are the following:
First, the evidence is very cogent and clear that Isabel Chipongian never became
pregnant and, therefore, never delivered a child. Isabel's own only brother and sibling,
Dr. Lino Chipongian, admitted that his sister had already been married for ten years and
was already about 36 years old and still she has not begotten or still could not bear a
child, so that he even had to refer her to the late Dr. Constantino Manahan, a well-
known and eminent obstetrician-gynecologist and the OB of his mother and wife, who
treated his sister for a number of years. There is likewise the testimony of the elder
sister of the deceased Vicente O. Benitez, Victoria Benitez Lirio, who then, being a
teacher, helped him (he being the only boy and the youngest of the children of their
widowed mother) through law school, and whom Vicente and his wife highly respected
and consulted on family matters, that her brother Vicente and his wife Isabel being
childless, they wanted to adopt her youngest daughter and when she refused, they
looked for a baby to adopt elsewhere, that Vicente found two baby boys but Isabel
wanted a baby girl as she feared a boy might grow up unruly and uncontrollable, and
that Vicente finally brought home a baby girl and told his elder sister Victoria he would
register the baby as his and his wife's child. Victoria Benitez Lirio was already 77 years
old and too weak to travel and come to court in San Pablo City, so that the taking of her
testimony by the presiding judge of the lower court had to be held at her residence in
Parañaque, MM. Considering, her advanced age and weak physical condition at the time
she testified in this case, Victoria Benitez Lirio's testimony is highly trustworthy and
credible, for as one who may be called by her Creator at any time, she would hardly be
interested in material things anymore and can be expected not to lie, especially under
her oath as a witness. There were also several disinterested neighbors of the couple
Vicente O. Benitez and Isabel Chipongian in Nagcarlan, Laguna (Sergio Fule, Cecilia
Coronado, and Benjamin C. Asendido) who testified in this case and declared that they
used to see Isabel almost everyday especially as she had drugstore in the ground floor of
her house, but they never saw her to have been pregnant, in 1954 (the year appellee
Marissa Benitez was allegedly born, according to her birth certificate Exh. "3") or at any
time at all, and that it is also true with the rest of their townmates. Ressureccion A.
Tuico, Isabel Chipongian's personal beautician who used to set her hair once a week at
her (Isabel's) residence, likewise declared that she did not see Isabel ever become
pregnant, that she knows that Isabel never delivered a baby, and that when she saw the
baby Marissa in her crib one day she went to Isabel's house to set the latter's hair, she
was surprised and asked the latter where the baby came from, and "she told me that
the child was brought by Atty. Benitez and told me not to tell about it" (p. 10, tsn, Nov.
29, 1990).
The facts of a woman's becoming pregnant and growing big with child, as well as her
delivering a baby, are matters that cannot be hidden from the public eye, and so is the
fact that a woman never became pregnant and could not have, therefore, delivered a
baby at all. Hence, if she is suddenly seen mothering and caring for a baby as if it were
her own, especially at the rather late age of 36 (the age of Isabel Chipongian when
appellee Marissa Benitez was allegedly born), we can be sure that she is not the true
mother of that baby.
Second, appellee's birth certificate Exh. "3" with the late Vicente O. Benitez appearing as
the informant, is highly questionable and suspicious. For if Vicente's wife Isabel, who
wads already 36 years old at the time of the child's supposed birth, was truly the mother
of that child, as reported by Vicente in her birth certificate, should the child not have
been born in a hospital under the experienced, skillful and caring hands of Isabel's
obstetrician-gynecologist Dr. Constantino Manahan, since delivery of a child at that late
age by Isabel would have been difficult and quite risky to her health and even life? How
come, then, that as appearing in appellee's birth certificate, Marissa was supposedly
born at the Benitez home in Avenida Rizal, Nagcarlan, Laguna, with no physician or even
a midwife attending?
At this juncture, it might be meet to mention that it has become a practice in recent
times for people who want to avoid the expense and trouble of a judicial adoption to
simply register the child as their supposed child in the civil registry. Perhaps Atty.
Benitez, though a lawyer himself, thought that he could avoid the trouble if not the
expense of adopting the child Marissa through court proceedings by merely putting
himself and his wife as the parents of the child in her birth certificate. Or perhaps he had
intended to legally adopt the child when she grew a little older but did not come around
doing so either because he was too busy or for some other reason. But definitely, the
mere registration of a child in his or her birth certificate as the child of the supposed
parents is not a valid adoption, does not confer upon the child the status of an adopted
child and the legal rights of such child, and even amounts of simulation of the child's
birth or falsification of his or her birth certificate, which is a public document.
Third, if appellee Marissa Benitez is truly the real, biological daughter of the late Vicente
O. Benitez and his wife Isabel Chipongian, why did he and Isabel's only brother and
sibling Dr. Nilo Chipongian, after Isabel's death on April 25, 1982, state in the
extrajudicial settlement
Exh. "E" that they executed her estate, "that we are the sole heirs of the deceased
ISABEL CHIPONGIAN because she died without descendants or ascendants?" Dr.
Chipongian, placed on a witness stand by appellants, testified that it was his brother-in-
law Atty. Vicente O. Benitez who prepared said document and that he signed the same
only because the latter told him to do so (p. 24, tsn, Nov. 22, 1990). But why would Atty.
Benitez make such a statement in said document, unless appellee Marissa Benitez is not
really his and his wife's daughter and descendant and, therefore, not his deceased wife's
legal heir? As for Dr. Chipongian, he lamely explained that he signed said document
without understanding completely the meaning of the words "descendant and
ascendant" (p. 21, tsn, Nov. 22, 1990). This we cannot believe, Dr. Chipongian being a
practicing pediatrician who has even gone to the United States (p. 52, tsn, Dec. 13,
1990). Obviously,
Dr. Chipongian was just trying to protect the interests of appellee, the foster-daughter
of his deceased sister and brother-in-law, as against those of the latter's collateral blood
relatives.
Fourth, it is likewise odd and strange, if appellee Marissa Benitez is really the daughter
and only legal heir of the spouses Vicente O. Benitez and Isabel Chipongian, that the
latter, before her death, would write a note to her husband and Marissa stating that:
even without any legal papers, I wish that my husband and my child or
only daughter will inherit what is legally my own property, in case I die
without a will,
and in the same handwritten note, she even implored her husband —
that any inheritance due him from my property — when he die — to
make our own daughter his sole heir. This do [sic] not mean what he
legally owns or his inherited property. I leave him to decide for himself
regarding those.
(Exhs. "F-1", "F-1-A" and "F-1-B")
We say odd and strange, for if Marissa Benitez is really the daughter of the spouses
Vicente O. Benitez and Isabel Chipongian, it would not have been necessary for Isabel to
write and plead for the foregoing requests to her husband, since Marissa would be their
legal heir by operation of law. Obviously, Isabel Chipongian had to implore and
supplicate her husband to give appellee although without any legal papers her
properties when she dies, and likewise for her husband to give Marissa the properties
that he would inherit from her (Isabel), since she well knew that Marissa is not truly
their daughter and could not be their legal heir unless her (Isabel's) husband makes her
so.
Finally, the deceased Vicente O. Benitez' elder sister Victoria Benitez Lirio even testified
that her brother Vicente gave the date
December 8 as Marissa's birthday in her birth certificate because that date is the
birthday of their (Victoria and Vicente's) mother. It is indeed too much of a coincidence
for the child Marissa and the mother of Vicente and Victoria to have the same birthday
unless it is true, as Victoria testified, that Marissa was only registered by Vicente as his
and his wife's child and that they gave her the birth date of Vicente's mother.
We sustain these findings as they are not unsupported by the evidence on record. The weight of these
findings was not negated by documentary evidence presented by the petitioner, the most notable of
which is her Certificate of Live Birth (Exh. "3") purportedly showing that her parents were the late
Vicente Benitez and Isabel Chipongian. This Certificate registered on December 28, 1954 appears to
have been signed by the deceased Vicente Benitez. Under Article 410 of the New Civil Code, however,
"the books making up the Civil Registry and all documents relating thereto shall be considered public
documents and shall be prima facie evidence of the facts therein stated." As related above, the totality
of contrary evidence, presented by the private respondents sufficiently rebutted the truth of the
content of petitioner's Certificate of Live Birth. of said rebutting evidence, the most telling was the Deed
of Extra-Judicial Settlement of the Estate of the Deceased Isabel Chipongian (Exh. "E") executed on July
20, 1982 by Vicente Benitez, and
Dr. Nilo Chipongian, a brother of Isabel. In their notarized document, they stated that "(they) are the
sole heirs of the deceased Isabel Chipongian because she died without descendants or ascendants". In
executing this Deed, Vicente Benitez effectively repudiated the Certificate of Live Birth of petitioner
where it appeared that he was petitioner's father. The repudiation was made twenty-eight years after
he signed petitioner's Certificate of Live Birth.
IN VIEW WHEREOF, the petition for review is dismissed for lack of merit. Costs against petitioner.
SO ORDERED.
Narvasa, C.J., Padilla, Regalado, JJ., concur.
Nocon, J., is on leave.

#Footnotes
1 Composed of Associate Justice Pedro Ramirez (Chairman); Associate Justice Alicia
Sempio-Diy (Ponente) and Associate Justice Ricardo Galvez.
2 She died during the pendency of the present action, and was substituted by her
daughters, Mayra B. Lirio and Nieva L. Isla and son, Jose B. Lirio, Jr.
Republic of the Philippines
Supreme Court
Manila

THIRD DIVISION

REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, G.R. No. 189476


Petitioner,
Present:

- versus - CARPIO MORALES, J., Chairperson,


BRION,
JULIAN EDWARD EMERSON COSETENG- BERSAMIN, and
MAGPAYO (A.K.A. JULIAN EDWARD VILLARAMA, JR., and
EMERSON MARQUEZ-LIM COSETENG), SERENO, JJ.
Respondent.
Promulgated:
February 2, 2011

x--------------------------------------------------x

DECISION

CARPIO MORALES, J.:


Born in Makati on September 9, 1972, Julian Edward Emerson Coseteng Magpayo (respondent) is
the son of Fulvio M. Magpayo Jr. and Anna Dominique Marquez-Lim Coseteng who, as respondents
certificate of live birth[1] shows, contracted marriage on March 26, 1972.

Claiming, however, that his parents were never legally married, respondent filed on July 22, 2008
at the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Quezon City a Petition to change his name to Julian Edward
Emerson Marquez Lim Coseteng. The petition, docketed as SPP No. Q-0863058, was entitled IN RE
PETITION FOR CHANGE OF NAME OF JULIAN EDWARD EMERSON COSETENG MAGPAYO TO JULIAN
EDWARD EMERSON MARQUEZ-LIM COSETENG.

In support of his petition, respondent submitted a certification from the National Statistics Office
stating that his mother Anna Dominique does not appear in [its] National Indices of
Marriage.[2] Respondent also submitted his academic records from elementary up to college[3] showing
that he carried the surname Coseteng, and the birth certificate of his child where Coseteng appears as his
surname.[4] In the 1998, 2001 and 2004 Elections, respondent ran and was elected as Councilor of Quezon
Citys 3rd District using the name JULIAN M.L. COSETENG.[5]

On order of Branch 77 of the Quezon City RTC,[6] respondent amended his petition by alleging
therein compliance with the 3-year residency requirement under Section 2, Rule 103 of the Rules of
Court.[7]

The notice setting the petition for hearing on November 20, 2008 was published in the
newspaper Broadside in its issues of October 31-November 6, 2008, November 7-13, 2008, and November
14-20, 2008.[8] And a copy of the notice was furnished the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG).
No opposition to the petition having been filed, an order of general default was entered by the
trial court which then allowed respondent to present evidence ex parte.[9]

By Decision of January 8, 2009,[10] the trial court granted respondents petition and directed the
Civil Registrar of Makati City to:

1. Delete the entry March 26, 1972 in Item 24 for DATE AND PLACE OF
MARRIAGE OF PARTIES [in herein respondents Certificate of live Birth];

2. Correct the entry MAGPAYO in the space for the Last Name of the
[respondent] to COSETENG;

3. Delete the entry COSETENG in the space for Middle Name of the
[respondent]; and

4. Delete the entry Fulvio Miranda Magpayo, Jr. in the space for FATHER of
the [respondent] (emphasis and underscoring supplied; capitalization in the original)

The Republic of the Philippines (Republic) filed a motion for reconsideration but it was denied by
the trial court by Order of July 2, 2009,[11] hence, it, thru the OSG, lodged the present petition for review
to the Court on pure question of law.

The Republic assails the decision in this wise:

I. . . . THE PETITION FOR CHANGE OF NAMEINVOLVES THE CHANGE


OF [RESPONDENTS] CIVIL STATUS FROM LEGITIMATE TO ILLEGITIMATE AND,
THEREFORE, SHOULD BE MADE THROUGH APPROPRIATE ADVERSARIAL
PROCEEDINGS
II. THE TRIAL COURT EXCEEDED ITS JURISDICTION WHEN IT DIRECTED THE
DELETION OF THE NAME OF RESPONDENTS FATHER FROM HIS BIRTH
CERTIFICATE.[12] (emphasis and underscoring supplied)

The Republic contends that the deletion of the entry on the date and place of marriage of
respondents parents from his birth certificate has the effect of changing his civil status from legitimate to
illegitimate, hence, any change in civil status of a person must be effected through
an appropriate adversary proceeding.[13]

The Republic adds that by ordering the deletion of respondents parents date of marriage and
the name of respondents father from the entries in respondents birth certificate,[14] the trial court
exceeded its jurisdiction, such order not being in accord with respondents prayer reading:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, it is most respectfully prayed that the


Honorable Court issue an order allowing the change of name of petitioner from JULIAN
EDWARD EMERSON COSETENG MAGPAYO to JULIAN EDWARD EMERSON MARQUEZ-LIM
COSETENG, and that the Honorable Court order the Local Civil Registrar and all other
relevant government agencies to reflect the said change of name in their records.

Petitioner prays for other reliefs deemed proper under the


premises.[15] (underscoring supplied)

Respondent counters that the proceeding before the trial court was adversarial in nature. He cites the
serving of copies of the petition and its annexes upon the Civil Registrar of Makati, the Civil Registrar
General, and the OSG; the posting of copies of the notice of hearing in at least four public places at least
ten days before the hearing; the delegation to the OSG by the City Prosecutor of Quezon City to appear
on behalf of the Republic; the publication of the notice of hearing in a newspaper of general circulation
for three consecutive weeks; and the fact that no oppositors appeared on the scheduled hearing.[16]

The petition is impressed with merit.

A person can effect a change of name under Rule 103 (CHANGE OF NAME) using valid and
meritorious grounds including (a) when the name is ridiculous, dishonorable or extremely difficult to write
or pronounce; (b) when the change results as a legal consequence such as legitimation; (c) when the
change will avoid confusion; (d) when one has continuously used and been known since childhood by a
Filipino name, and was unaware of alien parentage; (e) a sincere desire to adopt a Filipino name to erase
signs of former alienage, all in good faith and without prejudicing anybody; and (f) when the surname
causes embarrassment and there is no showing that the desired change of name was for a fraudulent
purpose or that the change of name would prejudice public interest.[17] Respondents reason for changing
his name cannot be considered as one of, or analogous to, recognized grounds, however.

The present petition must be differentiated from Alfon v. Republic of the Philippines.[18] In Alfon,
the Court allowed the therein petitioner, Estrella Alfon, to use the name that she had been known since
childhood in order to avoid confusion. Alfon did not deny her legitimacy, however. She merely sought to
use the surname of her mother which she had been using since childhood. Ruling in her favor, the Court
held that she was lawfully entitled to use her mothers surname, adding that the avoidance of confusion
was justification enough to allow her to do so. In the present case, however, respondent denies his
legitimacy.

The change being sought in respondents petition goes so far as to affect his legal status in relation
to his parents. It seeks to change his legitimacy to that of illegitimacy. Rule 103 then would not suffice to
grant respondents supplication.

Labayo-Rowe v. Republic[19] categorically holds that changes which may affect the civil status from
legitimate to illegitimate . . . are substantial and controversial alterations which can only be allowed after
appropriate adversary proceedings . . .

Since respondents desired change affects his civil status from legitimate to illegitimate, Rule
108 applies. It reads:

SECTION 1. Who may file petition.Any person interested in any act, event, order
or decree concerning the civil status of persons which has been recorded in the civil
register, may file a verified petition for the cancellation or correction of any entry relating
thereto, with the [RTC] of the province where the corresponding civil registry is located.

xxxx

SEC. 3. Parties.When cancellation or correction of an entry in the civil register is


sought, the civil registrar and all persons who have or claim any interest which would
be affected thereby shall be made parties to the proceeding.

SEC. 4. Notice and publication. Upon the filing of the petition, the court shall, by
an order, fix the time and place for the hearing of the same, and cause reasonable notice
thereof to be given to the persons named in the petition. The court shall also cause the
order to be published once a week for three (3) consecutive weeks in a newspaper of
general circulation in the province. (emphasis, italics and underscoring supplied)
Rule 108 clearly directs that a petition which concerns ones civil status should be filed in the civil
registry in which the entry is sought to be cancelled or corrected that of Makati in the present case, and
all persons who have or claim any interest which would be affected thereby should be made parties to
the proceeding.

As earlier stated, however, the petition of respondent was filed not in Makati where his birth
certificate was registered but in Quezon City. And as the above-mentioned title of the petition filed by
respondent before the RTC shows, neither the civil registrar of Makati nor his father and mother were
made parties thereto.

Respondent nevertheless cites Republic v. Capote[20] in support of his claim that his change of
name was effected through an appropriate adversary proceeding.

Republic v. Belmonte,[21] illuminates, however:

The procedure recited in Rule 103 regarding change of name and in Rule
108 concerning the cancellation or correction of entries in the civil registry are separate
and distinct. They may not be substituted one for the other for the sole purpose of
expediency. To hold otherwise would render nugatory the provisions of the Rules of Court
allowing the change of ones name or the correction of entries in the civil registry only
upon meritorious grounds. . . . (emphasis, capitalization and underscoring supplied)

Even assuming arguendo that respondent had simultaneously availed of these two statutory
remedies, respondent cannot be said to have sufficientlycomplied with Rule 108. For, as reflected above,
aside from improper venue, he failed to implead the civil registrar of Makati and all affected parties as
respondents in the case.

Republic v. Labrador[22] mandates that a petition for a substantial correction or change of entries
in the civil registry should have as respondents the civil registrar, as well as all other persons who have or
claim to have any interest that would be affected thereby. It cannot be gainsaid that change of status of a
child in relation to his parents is a substantial correction or change of entry in the civil registry.
Labayo-Rowe[23] highlights the necessity of impleading indispensable parties in a petition which
involves substantial and controversial alterations. In that case, the therein petitioner Emperatriz Labayo-
Rowe (Emperatriz) filed a petition for the correction of entries in the birth certificates of her children,
Vicente Miclat, Jr. and Victoria Miclat, in the Civil Registry of San Fernando, Pampanga. Emperatriz alleged
that her name appearing in the birth certificates is Beatriz, which is her nickname, but her full name is
Emperatriz; and her civil status appearing in the birth certificate of her daughter Victoria as married on
1953 Bulan are erroneous because she was not married to Vicente Miclat who was the one who furnished
the data in said birth certificate.

The trial court found merit in Emperatrizs petition and accordingly directed the local civil registrar
to change her name appearing in her childrens birth certificates from Beatriz to Emperatriz; and to correct
her civil status in Victorias birth certificate from married to single and the date and place of marriage to
no marriage.

On petition before this Court after the Court of Appeals found that the order of the trial court
involved a question of law, the Court nullified the trial courts order directing the change of Emperatriz
civil status and the filiation of her child Victoria in light of the following observations:

x x x x Aside from the Office of the Solicitor General, all other indispensable
parties should have been made respondents. They include not only thedeclared
father of the child but the child as well, together with the paternal grandparents, if
any, as their hereditary rights would be adversely affected thereby. All other persons
who may be affected by the change should be notified or represented. The truth is
best ascertained under an adversary system of justice.

The right of the child Victoria to inherit from her parents would be
substantially impaired if her status would be changed from legitimate to
illegitimate. Moreover, she would be exposed to humiliation and embarrassment
resulting from the stigma of an illegitimate filiation that she will bear thereafter. The
fact that the notice of hearing of the petition was published in a newspaper of general
circulation and notice thereof was served upon the State will not change the nature of
the proceedings taken. Rule 108, like all the other provisions of the Rules of Court, was
promulgated by the Supreme Court pursuant to its rule-making authority under
Section 13, Article VIII of the 1973 Constitution, which directs that such rules shall not
diminish, increase or modify substantive rights. If Rule 108 were to be extended
beyond innocuous or harmless changes or corrections of errors which are visible to
the eye or obvious to the understanding, so as to comprehend substantial and
controversial alterations concerning citizenship, legitimacy of
paternity or filiation, or legitimacy of marriage, without observing the proper
proceedings as earlier mentioned, said rule would thereby become
an unconstitutional exercise which would tend to increase or modify substantive
rights. This situation is not contemplated under Article 412 of the Civil
Code.[24] (emphasis, italics and underscoring supplied)

As for the requirement of notice and publication, Rule 108 provides:

SEC. 4. Notice and publication.Upon the filing of the petition, the court shall,
by an order, fix the time and place for the hearing of the same, and causereasonable
notice thereof to be given to the persons named in the petition. The court shall
also cause the order to be published once a week for three (3) consecutive weeks in a
newspaper of general circulation in the province.

SEC. 5. Opposition.The civil registrar and any person having or claiming any
interest under the entry whose cancellation or correction is sought may, within
fifteen (15) days from notice of the petition, or from the last date of publication of
such notice, file his opposition thereto. (emphasis and underscoring supplied)

A reading of these related provisions readily shows that Rule 108 clearly mandates two sets of
notices to different potential oppositors. The first notice is that given to the persons named in the petition
and the second (which is through publication) is that given to other persons who are not named in the
petition but nonetheless may be considered interested or affected parties, such as creditors. That two
sets of notices are mandated under the above-quoted Section 4 is validated by the subsequent Section 5,
also above-quoted, which provides for two periods (for the two types of potential oppositors) within
which to file an opposition (15 days from notice or from the last date of publication).

This is the overriding principle laid down in Barco v. Court of Appeals.[25] In that case, Nadina
Maravilla (Nadina) filed a petition for correction of entries in the birth certificate of her daughter June
from June Salvacion Maravilla to June Salvacion Gustilo, Armando Gustilo being, according to Nadina, her
daughters real father. Gustilo in fact filed before the trial court a CONSTANCIA wherein he acknowledged
June as his daughter. The trial court granted the petition.

After Gustilo died, his son Jose Vicente Gustilo filed with the Court of Appeals a petition for
annulment of the Order of the trial court granting the change of Junes family name to Gustilo.
Milagros Barco (Barco), natural guardian of her minor daughter Mary Joy Ann Gustilo, filed before
the appellate court a motion for intervention, alleging that Mary Joy had a legal interest in the annulment
of the trial courts Order as Mary Joy was, by Barcos claim, also fathered by Gustilo.

The appellate court dismissed the petition for annulment and complaint-in-intervention.
On appeal by Barco, this Court ruled that she should have been impleaded in Nadinas petition for
correction of entries of the birth certificate of Mary Joy.But since a petitioner, like Nadina, is not expected
to exhaustively identify all the affected parties, the subsequent publication of the notice cured the
omission of Barco as a party to the case. Thus the Court explained:

Undoubtedly, Barco is among the parties referred to in Section 3 of Rule


108. Her interest was affected by the petition for correction, as any judicial
determination that June was the daughter of Armando would affect her wards share
in the estate of her father. It cannot be established whether Nadina knew of Mary Joys
existence at the time she filed the petition for correction. Indeed, doubt may always
be cast as to whether a petitioner under Rule 108 would know of all the parties
whose interests may be affected by the granting of a petition. For example, a
petitioner cannot be presumed to be aware of all the legitimate or illegitimate
offsprings of his/her spouse or paramour. x x x x.

xxxx

The purpose precisely of Section 4, Rule 108 is to bind the whole world to the
subsequent judgment on the petition. The sweep of the decision would cover even
parties who should have been impleaded under Section 3, Rule 108 but were
inadvertently left out. x x x x.[26] (emphasis, italics and underscoring supplied)

Meanwhile, in Republic v. Kho,[27] Carlito Kho (Carlito) and his siblings named the civil registrar as the sole
respondent in the petition they filed for the correction of entries in their respective birth certificates in
the civil registry of Butuan City, and correction of entries in the birth certificates of Carlitos minor
children. Carlito and his siblings requested the correction in their birth certificates of the citizenship of
their mother Epifania to Filipino, instead of Chinese, and the deletion of the word married opposite the
phrase Date of marriage of parents because their parents ─ Juan and Epifania ─ were not married. And
Carlito requested the correction in the birth certificates of their children of his and his wifes date of
marriage to reflect the actual date of their marriage as appearing in their marriage certificate. In the
course of the hearing of the petition, Carlito also sought the correction of the name of his wife from
Maribel to Marivel.
The Khos mother Epifania took the witness stand where she declared that she was not married to
Juan who died before the filing of the Khos petition.

The trial court granted the petition.

On the issue of whether the failure to implead Marivel and the Khos parents rendered the trial of
the petition short of the required adversary proceedings and the trial courts judgment void, this Court
held that when all the procedural requirements under Rule 108 are followed, the publication of the notice
of hearing cures the failure to implead an indispensable party. In so ruling, the Court noted that the
affected parties were already notified of the proceedings in the case since the petitioner-siblings Khos
were the ones who initiated the petition respecting their prayer for correction of their citizenship, and
Carlito respecting the actual date of his marriage to his wife; and, with respect to the Khos petition for
change of their civil status from legitimate to illegitimate, their mother Epifania herself took the witness
stand declaring that she was not married to their father.
What is clear then in Barco and Kho is the mandatory directive under Section 3 of Rule 108 to
implead the civil registrar and the parties who would naturally and legally be affected by the grant of a
petition for correction or cancellation of entries. Non-impleading, however, as party-respondent of one
who is inadvertently left out or is not established to be known by the petitioner to be affected by the
grant of the petition or actually participates in the proceeding is notified through publication.

IN FINE, when a petition for cancellation or correction of an entry in the civil register
involves substantial and controversial alterations including those on citizenship, legitimacy of paternity or
filiation, or legitimacy of marriage, a strict compliance with the requirements of Rule 108 of the Rules of
Court is mandated.

WHEREFORE, the petition is, in light of the foregoing discussions, GRANTED. The January 8, 2009
Decision of Branch 77 of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City in SP Proc. No. Q-0863058 is NULLIFIED.

SO ORDERED.

CONCHITA CARPIO MORALES


Associate Justice
WE CONCUR:

ARTURO D. BRION LUCAS P. BERSAMIN


Associate Justice Associate Justice

MARTIN S. VILLARAMA, JR. MARIA LOURDES P.A. SERENO


Associate Justice Associate Justice

ATTESTATION

I attest that the conclusions in the above Decision were reached in consultation before the case was
assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Courts Division.

CONCHITA CARPIO MORALES


Chairperson
CERTIFICATION

Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, and the Division Chairpersons Attestation, I certify
that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned
to the writer of the opinion of the Courts Division.

RENATO C. CORONA
Chief Justice

[1]
Records, p. 7.
[2]
Id. at 8.
[3]
Id. at 9-16.
[4]
Id. at 16.
[5]
Id. at 17-22.
[6]
Presided by Judge Vivencio S. Baclig.
[7]
Id. at 23.
[8]
Id. at 48-50.
[9]
Id. at 45.
[10]
Id. at 116-117.
[11]
Id. at 135-136. 7
[12]
Rollo, pp. 16-17.
[13]
Id. at 17-18.
[14]
Id. at 18-19.
[15]
Rollo, p. 18.
[16]
Id. at 53-56.
[17]
Vide See Republic v. Hernandez, 323 Phil. 606, 637-638 (1996).
[18]
186 Phil. 600 (1980).
[19]
G.R. No. L-53417, December 8, 1988, 168 SCRA 294.
[20]
G.R. No. 157043, February 2, 2007, 514 SCRA 76.
[21]
241 Phil. 966 (1988).
[22]
G.R. No. 132980, 305 SCRA 438 (1999).
[23]
Supra, note 19.
[24]
Id. at p. 301.
[25]
465 Phil. 39 (2004).
[26]
Id. at 55-56.
[27]
G.R. No. 170340, June 29, 2007, 526 SCRA 177.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
FIRST DIVISION
G.R. No. L-42007 June 22, 1984
MARIA B. DIAZ, as substitutedby her children PABLO DIAZ, LOURDES DIAZ-ROQUE, GERVACIO DIAZ,
JR., and MARIO DIAZ, petitioners,
vs.
THE COURT OF APPEALS, EDUARDO AZARRAGA, ROSARIO AZARRAGA-IGNACIO, NATIVIDAD
AZARRAGA, ESPERANZA AZARRAGA-BORRIO, DONCAS AZARRAGA ROSARIO, MARIA AZARRAGA
TORRES, CONRADO AZARRAGA, PEDRO AZARRAGA, TERESA AZARRAGA, DIOSDADO AZARRAGA,
ERNESTO D. AZARRAGA, FLORESITA AZARRAGA, GILDA AZARRAGA ALBANO, VIRGILIO AZARRAGA
GRANADA, ELVIRA AZARRAGA, PHILIPPINE AZARRAGA, NENITA AZARRAGA DE LOS SANTOS, and JOSE
AZARRAGA, respondents.
Calixto O. Zaldivar for petitioners.
Leonardo A. Amores for respondents.

MELENCIO-HERRERA, J:
ISIDRO Azarraga, who died in 1911, was survived by ten (10) children named (1) Rosario, (2) Natividad,
(3) Juan, (4) Amador, (5) Severo, (6) Ester, (7) Leopoldo (8) LEODEGARIO, (9) Filomena and (10) Pastora
(not in order of ages). It is not questioned that Filomena (No. 9) was a legitimate child, her mother being
Calixta Lozada, wife of ISIDRO. It is neither questioned that children Nos. (1) to (7) were illegitimate
children of ISIDRO with his mistress Valentina Abarracoso.
The controversy between the parties is in reference to LEODEGARIO (No. 8) whom petitioner MARIA B.
Diaz claims to be the brother in full blood of her mother Filomena (No. 9) and of her aunt Pastora (No.
10). On the other hand, private respondents claim that LEODEGARIO (No. 8) was the illegitimate son of
ISIDRO and Valentina Abarracoso and, hence, the brother in full blood of children Nos. (1) to (7). Private
respondents further claim that Pastora (No. 10) was an illegitimate daughter of ISIDRO and one
Guadalupe Villareiz .
On September 10, 1949, LEODEGARI0 (simply referred to hereinafter as the DECEDENT) died intestate
(while the Spanish Civil Code was still in effect), leaving no surviving spouse nor descendants. He had
properties in Capiz, acquired during his lifetime, which are now the subject matter of this petition.
On October 15, 1949, MARIA Bellosillo Diaz (the original petitioner herein before she was substituted by
her legal heirs as she died during the pendency of the suit), filed in the Court of First Instance of Capiz
the basic petition for the issuance of Letters of Administration in her favor for the settlement of the
DECEDENT's estate.
On October 25, 1949, one Amador Azarraga filed a formal opposition praying that he, instead of MARIA,
be appointed as Administrator.
On March 1, 1950, the Court of origin, after hearing, issued the following Order:
This is a petition filed by Maria B. Diaz for her appointment as Administrator of the
estate of the deceased, Leodegario Azarraga. The petition has been duly published in
accordance with law, and an oppostion has been filed by Amador Azarraga who claimed
that the deceased left other half-sisters and half-brothers not included in the petition.
When the case was called for hearing, the oppositor manifested to the Court that if the
determination or declaration of heirs be postponed to a later date, they would not
object to the appointment of an Administrator in the discretion of the Court.
From gthe testimony given in open Court by the petitioner, we deduced the following
facts: That Leodegario Azarraga was a resident of Capiz, Capiz for some time previous to
the month of September, 1949, that on Sept. 10, 1949 Leodegario Azarrag, while in
Manila, accidentally died in said city (Annex "A"); that the deceased left no will known to
his relatives, and therefore, died intestate; that the petitioner maria B. Diaz is a
daughter of the sister of the deceased, and therefore a niece of the late Leodegario
Azarraga; that the said Leodegario Azarraga left properties in the Municipality of Pilar
consisting of real estate valued at P28 ,000.00 more more or less.
Considering that Maria B. Diaz was the one who filed the petition and the fact that
Pastora Azarrag, alegitimate sister of the deceased is living with her and agreeable to
her appointment as administratrix, and considering further that Maria B. Diaz is
sufficiently educated and capable of administering the properties of the deceased
consisting mostly of residential lots, we believe that she should be appointed as
administratrix of the estate.
WHEREFORE, said Maria B. Diaz is hereby appointed as administratrix of the intestate
estate of the late Leodegario Azarrag upon the filing of a bond in the amount of TWO
THOUSAND PESOS (P2,000.00). Once said bond is approved by the Court, let letters of
administration be issued in her favor. (Emphasis ours)
On August 17, 1970, or more thant twenty years later, Eduardo Azarrag, heir of the original oppositor
Amador Azarrag, who died in 1957, filed before the then Court of First Instance of Capiz, Branch I, a
petition to remove MARIA as Administratirx for failing, among others, to submit a final accounting of her
administration and a project of partition as required by the Court, and prayed that he be appointed
instead as Administrator (Special Proceedings No. V-517).
On October 14, 1970, Eduardo Azarrag and his brothers, sisters, nephews and nices, who are private
respondents herein (referred to hereinafter as Oppositors-appellants) filed a petitioner for declaration
as DECEDENT's heirs, which petition they amended on January 12, 1971 to include other alleged heirs.
The question here is to determine who should be the DECEDENT's intestate heir? Is it MARIA B. Diaz, the
legitimate daughter of Filomena (No. 9)? Or should it be the other children of ISIDRO (Nos. 1 to 7), who,
alegedly, like the Valentina Abarracoso?
Oppositors-appellants' submission is that since the DECEDENT WAS an illegitimate issue of ISIDRO and
Valentinina Abarracoso, MARIA, who is a daughter of Filomena (No. 9), a legitimate issue of ISIDRO and
his wife Calixta Lozada, is barred from inheriting from the DECEDENT by vitue of Article 943 of the
Sapanish Civil Code, 1(Article 992 of the present Civil Code). MARIA's, version, on the other hand, is that
the DECEDENT was a legitimate son of ISIDRO and his wife CalixtaLozada, hence it is she, considering the
waiver in her favor by her aunt Pastora (No. 10), who is entitled to injherit from the DECEDENT.
On October 9, 1971, the Court of origin, in its Decision, denied Oppositors- appellants' petition for a
declaration of heirship in their favor, and instead, declared Pastora (No. 10) and MARIA as the persons
entitled to inherit ab intestato to the DECEDENT's estate.
Oppositors-appellants filed a timely appeal to the then Court of Appeals, which, in a Decision
promulgated on November l2,1974, 2 affirmed the appealed judgment in toto.
Oppositors-appellants sought reconsideration and succeeded in securing a reversal from a Special
Division of Five, which rendered a new Decision on May 22, 1975, 3 holding thus:
WHEREFORE, finding the motion for reconsideration meritorious, the same is granted.
The decision of Nov. 12, 1974 is hereby set aside and a new one entered as follows:
1. Declaring the oppositors-appellants as the legal heirs of the deceased Leodegario
Azarraga;
2. Declaring the aforementioned heirs co-owners in equal shares of the properties left
by the said deceased;
3. Removing appellee Maria B. Diaz as administratrix of the estate of the deceased
Leodegario Azarraga and appointing in her stead Eduardo Azarraga;
4. Ordering appellee Maria B. Diaz, to deliver and relinquish to the new administrator
the possession of all the properties left by the deceased Leodegario Azarraga and to
submit to the lower court an accounting of her stewardship of the estate of the
deceased Leodegario Azarraga. Whether the new administrator Eduardo Azarraga will
serve with or without bond is left to the sound discretion of the lower Court.
SO ORDERED.
MARIA's first Motion for Reconsideration of the foregoing Decision was denied, likewise by a Special
Division of Five. 4 A second Motion for Reconsideration met the same fate with respondent Court also
voting three to two. 5
Hence, this petition, centering on the focal question of whether or not respondent Appellate Court
committed grave abuse of discretion in reversing itself and finding that the DECEDENT is an illegitimate
son of ISIDRO and that it is the collateral relatives, the oppositors-appellants who stand to inherit his
entire estate.
We are constrained to reverse. We agree with the Trial Court that the preponderance of evidence
sustains a finding of the DECEDENT's legitimacy. His school records from the University of Sto. Tomas
dated March 18, 1897 (Exhibits "Q", "Q-1" to "Q-5"); from 1903-1904, as a senior student in the College
of Law (Exhibits "R", "R-1" to "R-3"); and that of March 18, 1908 (Exhibit "A"), show that he was enrolled
as "Leodegario Azarraga y Lozada". Although those records by themselves are not proof of legitimate
filiation, they constitute strong evidence thereof.
True, his Certificate of Admission to the Philippine Bar on April 16, 1904 (Exhibit "H") names him simply
as "Leodegario Azarraga". It cannot be concluded therefrom, however, that he was not the legitimate
son of Isidro Azarraga and Calixta Lozada. The several letters wherein he signed simply as "Leodegario
Azarraga" neither disprove legitimacy. Even nowadays, the dropping of the maternal surname in
correspondence or written documents is commonplace for convenience and/or brevity.
Oppositors-appellants' explanation that the name Lozada was used by the DECEDENT at the instance of
their father, ISIDRO, who was anxious to cover up the DECEDENT's illegitimacy from the priests of the
University of Sto. Tomas, and that they, too, were told to use Lozada as their middle name but that the
DECEDENT and they dropped that name after the death of their father on May 2, 1911, is belied by
Court redords which show that even in 1908, the DECEDENT, as counsel of redord in several cases, had
simply used "Leodegario Azarraga" and had already dropped Lozada. 6
The Last Will and Testament of Pastora Azarrag, executed on August 3, 1961, which, althoughstanding
alone does not establish DECEDENT's legitimacy, enhances that conclusion. That Will was duly probated
on January 9, 1967 without objection and specifically indicates that the DECEDENT (No. 8), Pastora (No.
10) and Filomena (No. 9) [petitioner mother] are "brother and sisters of the full blood they being
children of Isidro Azarrag and Calixta Lozada".
Oppositors-appellants contend that said Will cannot prove pedigree for being self-serving and for not
being ante litem motam as mandated by Section 33, Rule 130 of Rules of Court. 7 Be that as it may, it is
not being considered asa independent evidence but collectively with other evidence on record. Besides,
the actual controversy herein may be said to have arisen only in 1970 when oppositors-appellants filed
their Petition for declaration of heirship. In the opposition filed by Amador Azarraga to the basic petition
for Letters of Administration filed by MARIA in 1949, and even when Pastora expressed her conformity
on November 15, 1949 to MARIA's appointment as administratrix (Exhibit "I"), Pastora had already
mentioned that she was the only livin g sister of the DECEDENT. The Court Order of March 1, 1950 also
mentioned Pastora as the "legitimate sister" of the DECEDENT. No objection was heard to said
declarations until twenty years later. Oppositors-appellants, therefore, cannot now be heard to aver
that Pastora was the illegitimate daughter of ISIDRO and one Guadalupe Villareiz
To offset MARIA's documentary evidence, oppositors-appellants presented a copy of the Decision of the
then Court of First Instance of Capiz in a land registration case (Expediente No. 53, G.L.R.O. Record No.
14529) where it appears that MARIA was referred to as the "universal heir" of Isidro Azarraga. That, they
allege, points to the conclusion that MARIA is the only legitimate heir of Isidro Azarraga and that the
DECEDENT and Pastora were deprived of their successional rights by reason of their illegitimacy. The
fallacy is evident because a universal heir is not synonymous with sole forced heir. Besides, the same
Decision also mentions a distribution among the heirs in that "Los bienes del finado Isidro Azarraga
fueron debidamente distribuidos entre sus herederos en el proyecto de reparticion que se ha
presentado en dicha testamentaria y que fue debidamente aprobado por este Juzgado" (Exhibit "K").
Significant also in this regard is the narration of facts in Sison vs. Azarraga, 30 Phil. 129 (1915), of which
case we can take judicial notice, eloquently showing that not only had the DECEDENT been already given
his share of the inheritance but that he was also appointed executor of his father Isidro's estate, as well
as a guardian of petitioner and her brother Jesus. To quote:
On April 27, 1911, Isidro Azarraga executed his final will and testament,in which he
appointed his sonLeodegario Azarraga ... executor, and distributed his property among
his children and other relatives,the said Leodegario receiving a certain number of
carabaos (clause 5 of the will) and a legacy of P8,115.72 for the valuable services
rendered to the testator (clause 6): he further instituted as his sole and universal heirs
his two grandchildren called Maria Felisa and Jesus. both surnamed Bellosillo y Azarraga,
children of the deceased spouses Ignacio Bellosillo and Filomena Azarraga, the last
named being the testator's daughter (clause 4).lwphl@itç Said testator also directed
that his sonLeodegario Azarraga and his son-in-law Miguel Robledo be appointed
guardians of his said grandchildren without being required to furnish bond therefor ...
(Emphasis supplied).
The foregoing is an additional index of legitimacy of the DECEDENT and serves to corroborate MARIA's
testimony that it was her uncle, the said DECEDENT, who attended to her personal and proprietary
interests, which declaration was disbelieved by respondent Appellate Court.
In the overall, the presumption in DECEDENT's favor of legitimacy has not been successfully contradicted
nor overcome by oppositors-appellants' testimonial or documentary evidence.
In reversing its original Decision, respondent Appellate Court misappreciated the chain of circumstances
detailed by the totality of the evidence, Instead, it 'isolated piecemeal evidence and held each of them
to be insufficient and inconclusive to prove legitimacy thereby leading it to an erroneous conclusion.
WHEREFORE, the Decision of respondent Court of Appeals, dated May 22, 1975, is hereby set aside, and
its Decision of November 12, 1974 affirming in toto the judgment of the Court of First Instance of Capiz,
Branch 1, is hereby reinstated.
Costs against private respondents.
SO ORDERED.
Teehankee (Chairman), Plana, Relova, Gutierrez, Jr., and De la Fuente, JJ., concur.
Footnotes
1 Article 943. A natural of a legitimated child has no right so succeed ab intestato the
ate children and relatives of the father or mother who has acknowledged it; nor shall
such children or relatives so inherit from the natural or legitimate child legitimate.
2 Penned by Justice Ramon G. Gaviola, Jr. and concurred in by Justices Luis B. Reyes and
Pacifico P. de Castro.
3 Justice Crisolito Pascual penned the new Decision, which was concurred in by Justices
Luis B. Reyes and Pacifico P. de Castro. Justices Ramon G. Gaviola, Jr. and Conrado M.
Vasquez dissented.
4 Justice Luis B. Reyes penned the Resolution, concurred in by Justices Pacifico P. de
Castro and Francisco Tantuico, Jr. vice
Justice Crisolito Pascual, who had inhibited himself for personal reasons Justices Ramon
G. Gaviola, Jr. and Conrado M. Vasquez maintained their dissent.
5 Special Division of Five composed of Justices Ramon C. Fernandez, Luis B. Reyes,
Ramon G. Gaviola, Jr. Conrado M. Vasquez, and Mama Busran.
6 See Suilliong & Co., et al vs. Silvina Chutayasan, 12 Phil. 13, November 8, 1908; Manuel
Guevarra vs. Carmen de Pascual, 12 Phil. 311, December 22, 1908.
7 Act or declaration about pedigree. — The act or declaration of a person deceased, or
outside of the Philippines, or unable to testify, in respect to the pedigree of another
person related to him by birth or marriage, may be received in evidence where it
occurred before the controversy, and the relationship between the two persons is
shown by evidence other than such act or declaration. The worde "pedigree" includes
relationship, family genealogy, birtrh, marriage, death, the dates when and the places
where those facts occurred, and the names of the relatives. It embraces also facts of
family history intimately connected with pedigree.

THIRD DIVISION
[G.R. No. 142877. October 2, 2001]
JINKIE CHRISTIE A. DE JESUS and JACQUELINE A. DE JESUS, minors, represented by their mother,
CAROLINA A. DE JESUS, petitioners, vs.THE ESTATE OF DECEDENT JUAN GAMBOA DIZON,
ANGELINA V. DIZON, CARLOS DIZON, FELIPE DIZON, JUAN DIZON, JR. and MARYLIN DIZON and
as proper parties: FORMS MEDIA CORP., QUAD MANAGEMENT CORP., FILIPINAS PAPER SALES
CO., INC. and AMITY CONSTRUCTION & INDUSTRIAL ENTERPRISES, INC., respondents.
DECISION
VITUG, J.:
The petition involves the case of two illegitimate children who, having been born in lawful wedlock,
claim to be the illegitimate scions of the decedent in order to enforce their respective shares in the latters
estate under the rules on succession.
Danilo B. de Jesus and Carolina Aves de Jesus got married on 23 August 1964. It was during this
marriage that Jacqueline A. de Jesus and Jinkie Christie A. de Jesus, herein petitioners, were born, the
former on 01 March 1979 and the latter on 06 July 1982.
In a notarized document, dated 07 June 1991, Juan G. Dizon acknowledged Jacqueline and Jinkie de
Jesus as being his own illegitimate children by Carolina Aves de Jesus. Juan G. Dizon died intestate on 12
March 1992, leaving behind considerable assets consisting of shares of stock in various corporations and
some real property. It was on the strength of his notarized acknowledgment that petitioners filed a
complaint on 01 July 1993 for Partition with Inventory and Accounting of the Dizon estate with the
Regional Trial Court, Branch 88, of Quezon City.
Respondents, the surviving spouse and legitimate children of the decedent Juan G. Dizon, including
the corporations of which the deceased was a stockholder, sought the dismissal of the case, arguing that
the complaint, even while denominated as being one for partition, would nevertheless call for altering the
status of petitioners from being the legitimate children of the spouses Danilo de Jesus and Carolina de
Jesus to instead be the illegitimate children of Carolina de Jesus and deceased Juan Dizon. The trial court
denied, due to lack of merit, the motion to dismiss and the subsequent motion for reconsideration on,
respectively, 13 September 1993 and 15 February 1994. Respondents assailed the denial of said motions
before the Court of Appeals.
On 20 May 1994, the appellate court upheld the decision of the lower court and ordered the case to
be remanded to the trial court for further proceedings. It ruled that the veracity of the conflicting
assertions should be threshed out at the trial considering that the birth certificates presented by
respondents appeared to have effectively contradicted petitioners allegation of illegitimacy.
On 03 January 2000, long after submitting their answer, pre-trial brief and several other motions,
respondents filed an omnibus motion, again praying for the dismissal of the complaint on the ground that
the action instituted was, in fact, made to compel the recognition of petitioners as being the illegitimate
children of decedent Juan G. Dizon and that the partition sought was merely an ulterior relief once
petitioners would have been able to establish their status as such heirs. It was contended, in fine, that an
action for partition was not an appropriate forum to likewise ascertain the question of paternity and
filiation, an issue that could only be taken up in an independent suit or proceeding.
Finding credence in the argument of respondents, the trial court, ultimately, dismissed the complaint
of petitioners for lack of cause of action and for being improper.[1] It decreed that the declaration of
heirship could only be made in a special proceeding inasmuch as petitioners were seeking the
establishment of a status or right.
Petitioners assail the foregoing order of the trial court in the instant petition for review
on certiorari. Basically, petitioners maintain that their recognition as being illegitimate children of the
decedent, embodied in an authentic writing, is in itself sufficient to establish their status as such and does
not require a separate action for judicial approval following the doctrine enunciated in Divinagracia vs.
Bellosillo.[2]
In their comment, respondents submit that the rule in Divinagracia being relied by petitioners is
inapplicable to the case because there has been no attempt to impugn legitimate filiation
in Divinagracia. In praying for the affirmance of dismissal of the complaint, respondents count on the case
of Sayson vs. Court of Appeals,[3] which has ruled that the issue of legitimacy cannot be questioned in a
complaint for partition and accounting but must be seasonably brought up in a direct action frontally
addressing the issue.
The controversy between the parties has been pending for much too long, and it is time that this
matter draws to a close.
The filiation of illegitimate children, like legitimate children, is established by (1) the record of birth
appearing in the civil register or a final judgment; or (2) an admission of legitimate filiation in a public
document or a private handwritten instrument and signed by the parent concerned. In the absence
thereof, filiation shall be proved by (1) the open and continuous possession of the status of a legitimate
child; or (2) any other means allowed by the Rules of Court and special laws.[4] The due recognition of an
illegitimate child in a record of birth, a will, a statement before a court of record, or in any authentic
writing is, in itself, a consummated act of acknowledgment of the child, and no further court action is
required.[5] In fact, any authentic writing is treated not just a ground for compulsory recognition; it is in
itself a voluntary recognition that does not require a separate action for judicial approval.[6] Where,
instead, a claim for recognition is predicated on other evidence merely tending to prove paternity, i.e.,
outside of a record of birth, a will, a statement before a court of record or an authentic writing, judicial
action within the applicable statute of limitations is essential in order to establish the childs
acknowledgment.[7]
A scrutiny of the records would show that petitioners were born during the marriage of their
parents. The certificates of live birth would also identify Danilo de Jesus as being their father.
There is perhaps no presumption of the law more firmly established and founded on sounder
morality and more convincing reason than the presumption that children born in wedlock are
legitimate.[8] This presumption indeed becomes conclusive in the absence of proof that there is physical
impossibility of access between the spouses during the first 120 days of the 300 days which immediately
precedes the birth of the child due to (a) the physical incapacity of the husband to have sexual intercourse
with his wife; (b) the fact that the husband and wife are living separately in such a way that sexual
intercourse is not possible; or (c) serious illness of the husband, which absolutely prevents sexual
intercourse.[9] Quite remarkably, upon the expiration of the periods set forth in Article 170,[10] and in
proper cases Article 171,[11] of the Family Code (which took effect on 03 August 1988), the action to
impugn the legitimacy of a child would no longer be legally feasible and the status conferred by the
presumption becomes fixed and unassailable.[12]
Succinctly, in an attempt to establish their illegitimate filiation to the late Juan G. Dizon, petitioners,
in effect, would impugn their legitimate status as being children of Danilo de Jesus and Carolina Aves de
Jesus. This step cannot be aptly done because the law itself establishes the legitimacy of children
conceived or born during the marriage of the parents. The presumption of legitimacy fixes a civil status
for the child born in wedlock, and only the father,[13] or in exceptional instances the latters heirs,[14] can
contest in an appropriate action the legitimacy of a child born to his wife. Thus, it is only when the
legitimacy of a child has been successfully impugned that the paternity of the husband can be rejected.
Respondents correctly argued that petitioners hardly could find succor in Divinagracia. In said case,
the Supreme Court remanded to the trial court for further proceedings the action for partition filed by an
illegitimate child who had claimed to be an acknowledged spurious child by virtue of a private document,
signed by the acknowledging parent, evidencing such recognition. It was not a case of legitimate children
asserting to be somebody elses illegitimate children. Petitioners totally ignored the fact that it was not for
them, given the attendant circumstances particularly, to declare that they could not have been the
legitimate children, clearly opposed to the entries in their respective birth certificates, of Danilo and
Carolina de Jesus.
The rule that the written acknowledgment made by the deceased Juan G. Dizon establishes
petitioners alleged illegitimate filiation to the decedent cannot be validly invoked to be of any relevance
in this instance. This issue, i.e., whether petitioners are indeed the acknowledged illegitimate offsprings
of the decedent, cannot be aptly adjudicated without an action having been first been instituted to
impugn their legitimacy as being the children of Danilo B. de Jesus and Carolina Aves de Jesus born in
lawful wedlock. Jurisprudence is strongly settled that the paramount declaration of legitimacy by law
cannot be attacked collaterally,[15] one that can only be repudiated or contested in a direct suit specifically
brought for that purpose.[16] Indeed, a child so born in such wedlock shall be considered legitimate
although the mother may have declared against its legitimacy or may have been sentenced as having been
an adulteress.[17]
WHEREFORE, the foregoing disquisitions considered, the instant petition is DENIED. No costs.
SO ORDERED.
Melo, (Chairman), Panganiban, and Sandoval-Gutierrez, JJ., concur.

[1]
Regional Trial Court Decision, 08 February 2000.
[2]
143 SCRA 356.
[3]
205 SCRA 321.
[4]
Article 172, Family Code.
[5]
Gono-Javier vs. Court of Appeals, 239 SCRA 593.
[6]
See Divinagracia vs. Bellosillo, 143 SCRA 356.
[7]
Gono-Javier vs. Court of Appeals, 239 SCRA 593.
[8]
Tison vs. Court of Appeals, 276 SCRA 582; Article 164 of the Family Code provides:
ART. 164. Children conceived or born during the marriage of the parents are legitimate.
Children conceived as a result of artificial insemination of the wife with the sperm of the husband or that
of a donor or both are likewise legitimate children of the husband and his wife, provided, that both of
them authorized or ratified such insemination in a written instrument executed and signed by them before
the birth of the child. The instrument shall be recorded in the civil registry together with the birth
certificate of the child.
[9]
Article 166 of the Family Code provides:
ART. 166. Legitimacy of a child may be impugned only on the following grounds:
(1) That it was physically impossible for the husband to have sexual intercourse with his wife within the
first 120 days of the 300 days which immediately preceded the birth of the child because of:
(a) the physical incapacity of the husband to have sexual intercourse with his wife;
(b) the fact that the husband and wife were living separately in such a way that sexual intercourse was
not possible; or
(c) serious illness of the husband, which absolutely prevented sexual intercourse;
(2) That it is proved that for biological or other scientific reasons, the child could not have been that of
the husband, except in the instance provided in the second paragraph of Article 164; or
(3) That in case of children conceived through artificial insemination, the written authorization or
ratification of either parent was obtained through mistake, fraud, violence, intimidation, or undue
influence.
[10]
Art. 170. The action to impugn the legitimacy of the child shall be brought within one year from
the knowledge of the birth or its recording in the civil register, if the husband or, in a proper case, any of
his heirs, should reside in the city or municipality where the birth took place or was recorded.
If the husband or, in his default, all of his heirs do not reside at the place of birth as defined in the first
paragraph or where it was recorded, the period shall be two years if they should reside in the Philippines;
and three years if abroad. If the birth of the child has been concealed from or was unknown to the husband
or his heirs, the period shall be counted from the discovery or knowledge of the birth of the child or of
the fact of registration of said birth, whichever is earlier.
[11]
Art. 171. The heirs of the husband may impugn the filiation of the child within the period
prescribed in the preceding article only in the following cases:
(1) If the husband should die before the expiration of the period fixed for bringing his action;
(2) If he should die after the filing of the complaint, without having desisted therefrom; or
(3) If the child was born after the death of the husband.
[12]
Tison vs. Court of Appeals, 276 SCRA 582.
[13]
See Article 170.
[14]
See Article 171.
[15]
Tison vs. Court of Appeals, 276 SCRA 582.
[16]
La-Ducasse vs. Ducasse, 45 So. 565, 120 La. 731; Saloys Succ. 10 So. 782, 44 La. Ann., cited in 10 C.J.S.
77.
[17]
Article 167, Family Code; Macadangdang vs. Court of Appeals, 100 SCRA 73.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
FIRST DIVISION

G.R. No. 124853 February 24, 1998


FRANCISCO L. JISON, petitioner,
vs.
COURT OF APPEALS and MONINA JISON, respondents.

DAVIDE, JR., J.:


This is a petition for review under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court of the 27 April 1995 decision of the Court
of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CV No. 32860 1 which reversed the decision of Branch 24 of the Regional Trial
Court (RTC) of Iloilo City in Civil Case No. 16373. 2 The latter dismissed the complaint of private
respondent Monina Jison (hereafter MONINA) for recognition as an illegitimate child of petitioner
Francisco Jison (hereafter FRANCISCO).
In issue is whether or not public respondent Court of Appeals committed reversible error, which, in this
instance, necessitates an inquiry into the facts. While as a general rule, factual issues are not within the
province of this Court, nevertheless, in light of the conflicting findings of facts of the trial court and the
Court of Appeals, this case falls under an exception to this rule? 3
In her complaint 4 filed with the RTC on 13 March 1985, MONINA alleged that FRANCISCO had been
married to a certain Lilia Lopez Jison since 1940. At the end of 1945 or the start of 1946, however,
FRANCISCO impregnated Esperanza F. Amolar (who was then employed as the nanny of FRANCISCO's
daughter, Lourdes). As a result, MONINA was born on 6 August 1946, in Dingle, Iloilo, and since
childhood, had enjoyed the continuous, implied recognition as an illegitimate child of FRANCISCO by his
acts and that of his family. MONINA further alleged that FRANCISCO gave her support and spent for her
education, such that she obtained a Master's degree, became a certified public accountant (CPA) and
eventually, a Central Bank examiner. In view of FRANCISCO's refusal to expressly recognize her, MONINA
prayed for a judicial declaration of her illegitimate status and that FRANCISCO support and treat her as
such.
In his answer, 5 FRANCISCO alleged that he could not have had sexual relations with Esperanza Amolar
during the period specified in the complaint as she had ceased to be in his employ as early as 1944, and
did not know of her whereabouts since then; further, he never recognized MONINA, expressly or
impliedly, as his illegitimate child. As affirmative and special defenses, FRANCISCO contended that
MONINA had no right or cause of action against him and that her action was barred by estoppel, laches
and/or prescription. He thus prayed for dismissal of the complaint and an award of damages due to the
malicious filing of the complaint.
After MONINA filed her reply, 6 pre-trial was conducted where the parties stipulated on the following
issues:
1. Did Francisco Jison have any sexual relation[s] with Esperanza Am[o]lar about the end of 1945
or the start of 1946?
2. Is Monina Jison the recognized illegitimate daughter of Francisco Jison by the latter's own acts
and those of his family?
3. Is Monina Jison barred from instituting or prosecuting the present action by estoppel, laches
and/or prescription?
4. Damages. 7
At trial on the merits, MONINA presented a total of eleven (11) witnesses, namely: herself, Ruben
Castellanes, Sr., Adela Casabuena, Arsenio Duatin, Zafiro Ledesma, Danthea Lopez, Romeo Bilbao, Rudy
Tiangson, Alfredo Baylosis, Dominador Zavariz and Lope Amolar.
Ruben Castellanes, Sr., a 63-year old resident of Iloilo City, testified that he had worked for FRANCISCO
for a total of six (6) years at Nelly Garden, FRANCISCO's Iloilo residence. Towards the end of the
Japanese occupation, FRANCISCO's wife suffered a miscarriage or abortion, thereby depriving
FRANCISCO of consortium; thereafter, FRANCISCO's wife managed a nightclub on the ground floor of
Nelly Garden which operated daily from 6:00 p.m. till 3:00 a.m. of the following day, thereby allowing
FRANCISCO free access to MONINA's mother, Esperanza Amolar, who was nicknamed Pansay.
Adela Casabuena, a 61-year old farmer, testified that she served as the yaya ("nanny") of Lourdes from
July 1946 up to February 1947. Although Pansay had left Nelly Garden two (2) weeks before Adela
started working for the Jisons, Pansay returned sometime in September 1946, or about one month after
she gave birth to MONINA, to ask FRANCISCO for support. As a result, Pansay and Lilia Jison,
FRANCISCO's wife, quarreled in the living room, and in the course thereof, Pansay claimed that
FRANCISCO was the father of her baby. To which, Lilia replied: "I did not tell you to make that baby so it
is your fault." During the quarrel which lasted from 10:30 till 11:00 a.m., FRANCISCO was supposedly
inside the house listening.
Arsenio Duatin, a 77-year old retired laborer, testified that from 1947 until 1977, he worked as
FRANCISCO's houseboy at the latter's house on 12th Street, Capitol Subdivision, Bacolod City. Arsenio
met MONINA in 1967, when Felipe Lagarto, the bookkeeper at Nelly Garden, informed Arsenio that
MONINA, FRANCISCO's daughter, would arrive at Bacolod City with a letter of introduction from Lagarto.
Initially, Arsenio identified seven (7) black-and-white photographs (Exhs. X-5 to X-11) of MONINA, 8 and
as he paid for the telephone bills, he likewise identified six (6) telephone cards (Exhs. G to L). Arsenio
then declared that when MONINA arrived in Bacolod City, she introduced herself to him as FRANCISCO's
daughter. She stayed at FRANCISCO's house, but when the latter and his wife would come over, Arsenio
would "conceal the presence of MONINA because Mrs. Jison did not like to see her face." Once, Arsenio
hid MONINA in the house of FRANCISCO's sister, Mrs. Luisa Jison Alano, in Silay City; another time, at the
residence of FRANCISCO's cousin, Mrs. Concha Lopez Cuaycong. Finally, Arsenio declared that the last
time he saw MONINA was when she left for Manila, after having finished her schooling at La Salle
College in Bacolod City.
On re-direct and upon questions by the court, Arsenio disclosed that it was FRANCISCO who instructed
that MONINA be hidden whenever FRANCISCO and his wife were around; that although FRANCISCO and
MONINA saw each other at the Bacolod house only once, they called each other "through long
distance;" and that MONINA addressed FRANCISCO as "Daddy" during their lone meeting at the Bacolod
house and were "affectionate" to each other. Arsenio likewise declared that MONINA stayed at
FRANCISCO's Bacolod house twice: first for a month, then for about a week the second time. On both
occasions, however, FRANCISCO and his wife were abroad. Finally, Arsenio recalled that FRANCISCO
likewise bade Arsenio to treat MONINA like his (FRANCISCO's) other daughters.
The testimony of Zafiro Ledesma, a 74-year old banker and former mayor of Iloilo City, initially touched
on how he and his wife were related to FRANCISCO, FRANCISCO's wife and MONINA. Zafiro first
identified Exhibit R, a diagram of the family trees of the Jison and Lopez families, which showed that
former Vice-President Fernando Lopez was the first cousin of FRANCISCO's wife, then told the court that
the family of Vice-President Lopez treated MONINA "very well because she is considered a relative . . .
by reputation, by actual perception." Zafiro likewise identified Exhibits X-13 to X-18, photographs taken
at the 14 April 1985 birthday celebration of Mrs. Fernando Lopez, which showed MONINA with the
former Vice-President and other members of the Lopez family.
Zafiro further testified that while MONINA lived with Mrs. Cuaycong, the latter paid for some of
MONINA's school needs and even asked MONINA to work in a hospital owned by Mrs. Cuaycong; and
that another first cousin of FRANCISCO's wife, a certain Remedios Lopez Franco, likewise helped
MONINA with her studies and problems, and even attended MONINA's graduation in 1978 when she
obtained a masteral degree in Business Administration, as evidenced by another photograph (Exh. X-12).
Moreover, upon Remedios' recommendation, MONINA was employed as a secretary at Merchant
Financing Company, which was managed by a certain Danthea Lopez, the wife of another first cousin of
FRANCISCO's wife, and among whose directors were Zafiro himself, his wife and Danthea's husband. In
closing, Zafiro identified MONINA's Social Security Record (Exh. W), which was signed by Danthea as
employer and where MONINA designated Remedios as the beneficiary.
Danthea Lopez, a 58-year old housekeeper, declared that FRANCISCO was the first cousin of her
husband, Eusebio D. Lopez; and that she came to know MONINA in the latter part of 1965 when
Remedios Franco recommended MONINA for employment at Merchant Financing Co., which Danthea
managed at that time. Remedios introduced MONINA to Danthea "as being reputedly the daughter of
Mr. Frank Jison;" and on several occasions thereafter, Remedios made Danthea and the latter's husband
understand that MONINA was "reputedly the daughter of [FRANCISCO]" While MONINA worked at
Merchant Financing, Danthea knew that MONINA lived with Remedios; however, in the latter part of
1966, as Remedios left for Manila and MONINA was still studying at San Agustin University, Danthea and
her husband invited MONINA to live with them. During MONINA's 6-month stay with them, she was not
charged for board and lodging and was treated as a relative, not a mere employee, all owing to what
Remedios had said regarding MONINA's filiation. As Danthea understood, MONINA resigned from
Merchant Financing as she was called by Mrs. Cuaycong, a first cousin of Danthea's husband who lived in
Bacolod City.
Romeo Bilbao, a 43-year old seaman, testified that he had worked for FRANCISCO from 1969 up to 1980
at Nelly Garden in various capacities: as a procurement officer, hacienda overseer and, later, as
hacienda administrator. Sometime in May, 1971, Romeo saw and heard MONINA ask "her Daddy"
(meaning FRANCISCO) for the money he promised to give her, but FRANCISCO answered that he did not
have the money to give, then told MONINA to go see Mr. Jose Cruz in Bacolod City. Then in the middle
of September that year, FRANCISCO told Romeo to pick up Mr. Cruz at the Iloilo pier and bring him to
the office of Atty. Benjamin Tirol. At said office, Atty. Tirol, Mr. Cruz and MONINA entered a room while
Romeo waited outside. When they came out, Atty. Tirol had papers for MONINA to sign, but she
refused. Atty. Tirol said that a check would be released to MONINA if she signed the papers, so MONINA
acceded, although Atty. Tirol intended not to give MONINA a copy of the document she signed.
Thereafter, Mr. Cruz gave MONINA a check (Exh. Q), then MONINA grabbed a copy of the document she
signed and ran outside. Romeo then brought Mr. Cruz to Nelly Garden. As to his motive for testifying,
Romeo stated that he wanted to help MONINA be recognized as FRANCISCO'S daughter.
Rudy Tingson, a 45-year old antique dealer, testified that in 1963-1964, he was employed by
FRANCISCO's wife at the Baguio Military Institute in Baguio City; then in 1965, Rudy worked at
FRANCISCO's office at Nelly Garden recording hacienda expenses, typing vouchers and office papers,
and, at times, acting as paymaster for the haciendas. From the nature of his work, Rudy knew the
persons receiving money from FRANCISCO's office, and clearly remembered that in 1965, as part of his
job, Rudy gave MONINA her allowance from FRANCISCO four (4) times, upon instructions of a certain
Mr. Lagarto to give MONINA P15.00 a month. Rudy likewise recalled that he first met MONINA in 1965,
and that she would go to Nelly Garden whenever FRANCISCO's wife was not around. On some of these
occasions, MONINA would speak with and address FRANCISCO as "Daddy," without objection from
FRANCISCO. In fact, in 1965, Rudy saw FRANCISCO give MONINA money thrice. Rudy further declared
that in April 1965, FRANCISCO's office paid P250.00 to Funeraria Bernal for the funeral expenses of
MONINA's mother. Finally, as to Rudy's motives for testifying, he told the court that he simply wanted to
held bring out the truth "and nothing but the truth," and that MONINA's filiation was common
knowledge among the people in the office at Nelly Garden.
On re-direct, Rudy declared that the moneys given by FRANCISCO's office to MONINA were not reflected
in the books of the office, but were kept in a separate book, as Mr. Lagarto explained that FRANCISCO's
wife and children "should not know [of] this." Rudy further revealed that as to the garden "meetings"
between FRANCISCO and MONINA, Rudy saw MONINA kiss FRANCISCO on the cheek both upon arriving
and before leaving, and FRANCISCO's reaction upon seeing her was to smile and say in the Visayan
dialect: "Kamusta ka iha?" ("How are you, daughter?"); and that MONINA was free to go inside the
house as the household staff knew of her filiation, and that, sometimes, MONINA would join them for
lunch.
Alfredo Baylosis, a 62-year old retired accountant, testified that he worked for FRANCISCO at Central
Santos-Lopez in Iloilo from 1951 up to 1961, then at Nelly Garden from 1961 until 1972. Alfredo first
served FRANCISCO as a bookkeeper, then when Mr. Lagarto died in 1967 or 1969, Alfredo replaced Mr.
Lagarto as office manager.
Alfredo knew MONINA since 1961 as she used to go to Nelly Garden to claim her P15.00 monthly
allowance given upon FRANCISCO's standing order. Alfredo further declared that MONINA's filiation was
pretty well-known in the office, that he had seen MONINA and FRANCISCO go from the main building to
the office, with FRANCISCO's arm on MONINA's shoulder; and that the office paid for the burial
expenses of Pansay, but this was not recorded in the books in order to hide it from FRANCISCO's wife.
Alfredo also disclosed that the disbursements for MONINA's allowance started in 1961 and were
recorded in a separate cash book. In 1967, the allowances ceased when MONINA stopped schooling and
was employed in Bacolod City with Miller, Cruz & Co., which served as FRANCISCO's accountant-auditor.
Once, when Alfredo went to the offices of Miller, Cruz & Co. to see the manager, Mr. Atienza, and
arrange for the preparation of FRANCISCO's income tax return, Alfredo chanced upon MONINA. When
Alfredo asked her how she came to work there, she answered that "her Daddy," FRANCISCO,
recommended her, a fact confirmed by Mr. Atienza Alfredo then claimed that Mr. Jose Cruz, a partner at
Miller, Cruz & Co., was the most trusted man of FRANCISCO.
Dominador Savariz, a 55-year old caretaker, testified that he worked as FRANCISCO's houseboy at Nelly
Garden from November 1953 up to 1965. One morning in April 1954, MONINA and her mother Pansay
went to Nelly Garden and spoke with FRANCISCO for about an hour, during which time, Dominador was
vacuuming the carpet about six (6) to seven (7) meters away. Due to the noise of the vacuum cleaner,
FRANCISCO and MONINA spoke in loud voices, thus Dominador overheard their conversation. As
FRANCISCO asked Pansay why they came, Pansay answered that they came to ask for the "sustenance"
of his child MONINA. FRANCISCO then touched MONINA's head and asked: "How are you Hija?," to
which MONINA answered: "Good morning, Daddy." After FRANCISCO told Pansay and MONINA to wait,
he pulled something from his wallet and said to Pansay. "I am giving this for a child."
In May 1954, Dominador saw MONINA at Mr. Lagarto's office where Dominador was to get "the day's
expenses," while MONINA was claiming her allowance from Mr. Diasnes. The next month, Dominador
saw MONINA at Nelly Garden and heard in the office that MONINA was there to get her allowance
"from her Daddy." In December 1960, Dominador saw MONINA at Nelly Garden, in the room of Don
Vicente (father of FRANCISCO's wife), where she asked for a Christmas gift "and she was calling Don
Vicente, Lolo (grandfather)." At that time, FRANCISCO and his wife were not around. Then sometime in
1961, when Dominador went to Mr. Legarto's office to get the marketing expenses, Dominador saw
MONINA once more claiming her allowance.
Dominador further testified that in February 1966, after he had stopped working for FRANCISCO,
Dominador was at Mrs. Franco's residence as she recommended him for employment with her sister,
Mrs. Concha Cuaycong. There, he saw MONINA, who was then about 15 years old, together with Mrs.
Franco's daughter and son. Mrs. Franco pointed at MONINA and asked Dominador if he knew who
MONINA was. Dominador answered that MONINA was FRANCISCO's daughter with Pansay, and then
Mrs. Franco remarked that MONINA was staying with her (Mrs. Franco) and that she was sending
MONINA to school at the University of San Agustin.
Lope Amolar, a 50-year old resident of Dingle, Iloilo, and the younger brother of Esperanza Amolar
(Pansay), testified that he worked for FRANCISCO as a houseboy from March to November 1945 at Nelly
Garden. Thereafter, FRANCISCO sent Lope to work at Elena Apartments in Manila. By November 1945,
Pansay was also working at Elena Apartments, where she revealed to Lope that FRANCISCO impregnated
her. Lope then confronted FRANCISCO, who told Lope "don't get hurt and don't cause any trouble,
because I am willing to support your Inday Pansay and my child." Three (3) days after this confrontation,
Lope asked for and received permission from FRANCISCO to resign because he (Lope) was hurt.
On 21 October 1986, MONINA herself took the witness stand. At that time, she was 40 years old and a
Central Bank Examiner. She affirmed that as evidenced by certifications from the Office of the Local Civil
Registrar (Exhs. E and F) and baptismal certificates (Exhs. C and D), she was born on 6 August 1946 in
Barangay Tabugon, Dingle, Iloilo, to Esperanza Amolar (who passed away on 20 April 1965) and
FRANCISCO. 9 MONINA first studied at Sagrado where she stayed as a boarder. While at Sagrado from
1952 until 1955 (up to Grade 4), her father, FRANCISCO, paid for her tuition fees and other school
expenses. She either received the money from FRANCISCO or from Mr. Lagarto, or saw FRANCISCO give
money to her mother, or Mr. Lagarto would pay Sagrado directly. After Sagrado, MONINA studied in
different schools, 10 but FRANCISCO continuously answered for her schooling.
For her college education, MONINA enrolled at the University of Iloilo, but she later dropped due to an
accident which required a week's hospitalization. Although FRANCISCO paid for part of the
hospitalization expenses, her mother shouldered most of them. In 1963, she enrolled at the University
of San Agustin, where she stayed with Mrs. Franco who paid for MONINA's tuition fees. However,
expenses for books, school supplies, uniforms and the like were shouldered by FRANCISCO. At the start
of each semester, MONINA would show FRANCISCO that she was enrolled, then he would ask her to
canvass prices, then give her the money she needed. After finishing two (2) semesters at University of
San Agustin, as evidenced by her transcript of records (Exh. Z showing the FRANCISCO was listed as
Parent/Guardian [Exh. Z-1], she transferred to "De Paul College," just in front of Mrs. Franco's house,
and studied there for a year. Thereafter, MONINA enrolled at Western Institute of Technology (WIT),
where she obtained a bachelor's degree in Commerce in April 1967. During her senior year, she stayed
with Eusebio and Danthea Lopez at Hotel Kahirup, owned by said couple. She passed the CPA board
exams in 1974, and took up an M.B.A. at De La Salle University as evidenced by her transcript (Exh. AA),
wherein FRANCISCO was likewise listed as "Guardian" (Exhs. AA-1 and AA-2).
MONINA enumerated the different members of the household staff at Nelly Garden, to wit: Luz, the
household cook; the houseboys Silvestre and Doming; the housemaid Natang; the yaya of the adopted
triplets, Deling; the yaya of Lolo Vicente, Adelina; and others. MONINA likewise enumerated the
members of the office staff (Messrs. Baylosis, Lagarto, Tingson, Diasnes, Jalandoni, Supertisioso, Doroy,
and other), and identified them from a photograph marked as Exhibit X-2. She then corroborated the
prior testimony regarding her employment at Merchant Financing Co., and her having lived at Hotel
Kahirup and at Mrs. Cuaycong's residence in Bacolod City, while working at the hospital owned by Mrs.
Cuaycong.
MONINA further testified that in March 1968, she went to Manila and met FRANCISCO at Elena
Apartments at the corner of Romero and Salas Streets, Ermita. She told FRANCISCO that she was going
for a vacation in Baguio City with Mrs. Franco's mother, with whom she stayed up to June 1968. Upon
her return from Baguio City, MONINA told FRANCISCO that she wanted to work, so the latter arranged
for her employment at Miller & Cruz in Bacolod City. MONINA went to Bacolod City, was interviewed by
Mr. Jose Cruz, a partner at Miller & Cruz, who told her she would start working first week of September,
sans examination. She resigned from Miller & Cruz in 1971 and lived with Mrs. Cuaycong at her Forbes
Park residence in Makati. MONINA went to see FRANCISCO, told him that she resigned and asked him
for money to go to Spain, but FRANCISCO refused as she could not speak Spanish and would not be able
find a job. The two quarreled and FRANCISCO ordered a helper to send MONINA out of the house. In the
process, MONINA broke many glasses at the pantry and cut her hand, after which, FRANCISCO hugged
her, gave her medicine, calmed her down, asked her to return to Bacolod City and promised that he
would giver her the money.
MONINA returned to Bacolod City by plane, using a Filipinas Orient Airways plane ticket (Exh. M) which
FRANCISCO gave. She called Mr. Cruz, then Atty. Tirol, as instructed by Mr. Cruz. These calls were
evidenced by PLDT long distance toll card (Exhs. G to L), with annotations at the back reading; "charged
and paid under the name of Frank L. Jison" and were signed by Arsenio Duatin (Exhs. G-1 to L-1). PLDT
issued a certification as to the veracity of the contents of the toll cards (Exh. BB). Likewise introduced in
evidence was a letter of introduction prepared by Mr. Cruz addressed to Atty. Tirol, on MONINA's behalf
(Exh. N).
MONINA also declared that Atty. Tirol then told her that she would have to go to Iloilo and sign a certain
affidavit, before Mr. Cruz would turn over the money promised by FRANCISCO. She went to Atty. Tirol's
office in Iloilo, but after going over the draft of the affidavit, refused to sign it as it stated that she was
not FRANCISCO's daughter. She explained that all she had agreed with FRANCISCO was that he would
pay for her fare to go abroad, and that since she was a little girl, she knew about her illegitimacy. She
started crying, begged Atty. Tirol to change the affidavit, to which Atty. Tirol responded that he was also
a father and did not want this to happen to his children as they could not be blamed for being brought
into the world. She then wrote a letter (Exh. O) to FRANCISCO and sent it to the latter's Forbes Park
residence (Bauhinia Place) by JRS courier service (Exhs. O-5 to O-7). MONINA subsequently met
FRANCISCO in Bacolod City where they discussed the affidavit which she refused to sign. FRANCISCO
told her that the affidavit was for his wife, that in case she heard about MONINA going abroad, the
affidavit would "keep her peace."
MONINA then narrated that the first time she went to Atty. Tirol's office, she was accompanied by one
Atty. Fernando Divinagracia, who advised her that the affidavit (Exh. P) 11 would "boomerang" against
FRANCISCO "as it is contrary to law." MONINA returned to Bacolod City, then met with Atty. Tirol once
more to reiterate her plea, but Atty. Tirol did not relent. Thus, on the morning of 20 or 21 September
1971, she signed the affidavit as she was jobless and needed the money to support herself and finish her
studies. In exchange for signing the document, MONINA received a Bank of Asia check for P15,000.00
(Exh. Q), which was less than the P25,000.00 which FRANCISCO allegedly promised to give. As Atty. Tirol
seemed hesitant to give her a copy of the affidavit after notarizing it, MONINA merely grabbed a copy
and immediately left.
MONINA then prepared to travel abroad, for which purpose, she procured letters of introduction (Exhs.
S and T) from a cousin, Mike Alano (son of FRANCISCO's elder sister Luisa); and an uncle, Emilio Jison
(FRANCISCO's elder brother), addressed to another cousin, Beth Jison (Emilio's daughter), for Beth to
assist MONINA. Exhibit S contained a statement (Exh. S-1) expressly recognizing that MONINA was
FRANCISCO's daughter. Ultimately though, MONINA decided not to go abroad, opting instead to spend
the proceeds of the P15,000.00 check for her CPA review, board exam and graduate studies. After
finishing her graduate studies, she again planned to travel abroad, for which reason, she obtained a
letter of introduction from former Vice President Fernando Lopez addressed to then United States
Consul Vernon McAnnich (Exh. V).
As to other acts tending to show her filiation, MONINA related that on one occasion, as FRANCISCO's
wife was going to arrive at the latter's Bacolod City residence, FRANCISCO called Arsenio Duatin and
instructed Arsenio to hide MONINA. Thus, MONINA stayed with Mrs. Luisa Jison for the duration of the
stay of FRANCISCO's wife. MONINA also claimed that she knew Vice President Fernando Lopez and his
wife, Mariquit, even before starting to go to school. Thus, MONINA asked for a recommendation letter
(Exh. U) from Mrs. Mariquit Lopez for possible employment with Mrs. Rosario Lopez Cooper, another
second cousin of FRANCISCO. In Exhibit U, Mrs. Lopez expressly recognized MONINA as FRANCISCO's
daughter. As additional proof of her close relationship with the family of Vice President Lopez, MONINA
identified photographs taken at a birthday celebration on 14 April 1985.
MONINA finally claimed that she knew the three (3) children of FRANCISCO by wife, namely, Lourdes,
Francisco, Jr., (Junior) and Elena, but MONINA had met only Lourdes and Junior. MONINA's testimony
dealt lengthily on her dealings with Junior and the two (2) occasions when she met with Lourdes. The
last time MONINA saw FRANCISCO was in March 1979, when she sought his blessings to get married.
In his defense, FRANCISCO offered his deposition taken before then Judge Romeo Callejo of the Regional
Trial Court of Manila, Branch 48. As additional witnesses, FRANCISCO presented Nonito Jalandoni,
Teodoro Zulla, Iñigo Supertisioso, Lourdes Ledesma, Jose Cruz and Dolores Argenal.
FRANCISCO declared that Pansay's employment ceased as of October, 1 1944, and that while employed
by him, Pansay would sleep with the other female helpers on the first floor of his residence, while he, his
wife and daughter slept in a room on the second floor. At that time, his household staff was composed
of three (3) female workers and two (2) male workers. After Pansay left in October 1944, she never
communicated with him again, neither did he know of her whereabouts. FRANCISCO staunchly denied
having had sexual relations with Pansay and disavowed any knowledge about MONINA's birth. In the
same vein, he denied having paid for MONINA's tuition fees, in person or otherwise, and asserted that
he never knew that Mr. Lagarto paid for these fees. Moreover, FRANCISCO could not believe that
Lagarto would pay for these fees despite absence of instructions or approval from FRANCISCO. He
likewise categorically denied that he told anyone, be it Danthea Lopez, Zafiro Ledesma, Concha
Cuaycong or Remedios Franco, that MONINA was his daughter.
FRANCISCO also disclosed that upon his return from the United States in 1971, he fired Alfredo Baylosis
upon discovering that Alfredo had taken advantage of his position during the former's absence.
FRANCISCO likewise fired Rudy Tingson and Romeo Bilbao, but did not give the reasons therefor.
Finally, FRANCISCO denied knowledge of MONINA's long distance calls from his Bacolod residence;
nevertheless, when he subsequently discovered this, he fired certain people in his office for their failure
to report this anomaly. As regards the caretaker of his Bacolod residence, FRANCISCO explained that
since MONINA lived at Mrs. Cuaycong's residence, the caretaker thought that he could allow people
who lived at the Cuaycong residence to use the facilities at his (FRANCISCO's) house.
Nonito Jalandoni, bookkeeper and paymaster at Nelly's Garden from 1963 up to 1974, then from 1980
up to 1986, the assistant overseer of Hacienda Lopez, testified that he did not know MONINA; that he
learned of her only in June 1988, when he was informed by FRANCISCO that MONINA had sued him; and
that he never saw MONINA at Nelly's Garden, neither did he know of any instructions for anyone at
Nelly's Garden to give money to MONINA.
Teodoro Zulla, FRANCISCO's bookkeeper and paymaster from 1951 up to 1986, testified that FRANCISCO
dismissed Alfredo Baylosis due to certain unspecified discrepancies; and that he never saw MONINA
receive funds from either Mr. Lagarto or Mr. Baylosis. Upon questions from the trial court, however,
Teodoro admitted that he prepared vouchers for only one of FRANCISCO's haciendas, and not vouchers
pertaining to the latter's personal expenses.
Iñigo Supertisioso testified that he worked for FRANCISCO at Nelly's Garden from 1964 up to 1984 as a
field inspector, paymaster, cashier and, eventually, officer-in-charge (OIC). He confirmed Alfredo
Baylosis' dismissal due to these unspecified irregularities, then denied that FRANCISCO ever ordered
that MONINA be given her allowance. Likewise, Iñigo never heard FRANCISCO mention that MONINA
was his (FRANCISCO's) daughter.
Lourdes Ledesma, FRANCISCO's daughter, testified that she saw (but did not know) MONINA at the Our
Lady of Mercy Hospital, on the occasion of the birth of Lourdes' first son, Mark. Over lunch one day,
Lourdes' aunt casually introduced Lourdes and MONINA to each other, but they were referred to only by
their first names. Then sometime in 1983 or 1984, MONINA allegedly went to Lourdes' house in Sta.
Clara Subdivision requesting for a letter of introduction or referral as MONINA was then job-hunting.
However, Lourdes did not comply with the request.
Jose Cruz, a partner at Miller, Cruz & Co., testified that MONINA worked at Miller & Cruz from 1968 up
to 1971, however, he did not personally interview her before she was accepted for employment.
Moreover, MONINA underwent the usual screening procedure before being hired. Jose recalled that one
of the accountants, a certain Mr. Atienza, reported that MONINA claimed to be FRANCISCO's daughter.
Jose then told Mr. Atienza to speak with MONINA and see if he (Mr. Atienza) could stop her from
spreading this rumor. Mr. Atienza reported that he spoke with MONINA, who told him that she planned
to leave for the United States and needed P20,000.00 for that purpose, and in exchange, she would sign
a document disclaiming filiation with FRANCISCO. Thus, Jose instructed Mr. Atienza to request that
MONINA meet with Jose, and at that meeting, MONINA confirmed Mr. Atienza's report. Jose then
informed Atty. Tirol, FRANCISCO's personal lawyer, about the matter.
Atty. Tirol told Jose to send MONINA and her lawyer to his (Atty. Tirol's) office in Iloilo. Jose then wrote
out a letter of introduction for MONINA addressed to Atty. Tirol Jose relayed Atty. Tirol's message to
MONINA through Mr. Atienza, then later, Atty. Tirol told Jose to go to Iloilo with a clerk for P15,000.00
Jose complied, and at Atty. Tirol's office, Jose saw MONINA, Atty. Tirol and his secretary reading some
documents. MONINA then expressed her willingness to sign the document, sans revisions. Jose alleged
that he drew the P15,000.00 from his personal funds, subject to reimbursement from and due to an
understanding with FRANCISCO.
Dolores Argenal, a househelper at Nelly Garden from May 1944 up to May 1946, testified that she knew
that Pansay was Lourdes' nanny; that Lourdes slept in her parents' room; that she had not seen
FRANCISCO give special treatment to Pansay; that there was no "unusual relationship" between
FRANCISCO and Pansay, and if there was any, Dolores would have easily detected it since she slept in
the same room as Pansay. Dolores further declared that whenever FRANCISCO's wife was out of town,
Pansay would bring Lourdes downstairs at nighttime, and that Pansay would not sleep in the room
where FRANCISCO slept. Finally, Dolores declared that Pansay stopped working for FRANCISCO and his
wife in October, 1944.
The reception of evidence having been concluded, the parties filed their respective memoranda.
It need be recalled that Judge Catalino Castañeda, Jr. presided over trial up to 21 October 1986, thereby
hearing only the testimonies of MONINA's witnesses and about half of MONINA's testimony on direct
examination. Judge Norberto E. Devera, Jr. heard the rest of MONINA's testimony and those of
FRANCISCO's witnesses.
In its decision of 12 November 1990 12 the trial court, through Judge Devera, dismissed the complaint
with costs against MONINA. In the opening paragraph thereof, it observed:
This is a complaint for recognition of an illegitimate child instituted by plaintiff Monina Jison
against defendant Francisco Jison. This complaint was filed on March 13, 1985 at the time when
plaintiff, reckoned from her death of birth, was already thirty-nine years old. Noteworthy also is
the fact that it was instituted twenty years after the death of plaintiff's mother, Esperanza
Amolar. For the years between plaintiff's birth and Esperanza's death, no action of any kind was
instituted against defendant either by plaintiff, her mother Esperanza or the latter's parents.
Neither had plaintiff brought such an action against defendant immediately upon her mother's
death on April 20, 1965, considering that she was then already nineteen years old or, within a
reasonable time thereafter. Twenty years more had to supervene before this complaint was
eventually instituted.
The trial court then proceeded to discuss the four issues stipulated at pre-trial, without, however,
summarizing the testimonies of the witnesses nor referring to the testimonies of the witnesses other
than those mentioned in the discussion of the issues.
The trial court resolved the first issue in the negative, holding that it was improbable for witness Lope
Amolar to have noticed that Pansay was pregnant upon seeing her at the Elena Apartments in
November 1945, since Pansay was then only in her first month of pregnancy; that there was no positive
assertion that "copulation did indeed take place between Francisco and Esperanza;" and that MONINA's
attempt to show opportunity on the part of FRANCISCO failed to consider "that there was also the
opportunity for copulation between Esperanza and one of the several domestic helpers admittedly also
residing at Nelly's Garden at that time." The RTC also ruled that the probative value of the birth and
baptismal certificates of MONINA paled in light of jurisprudence, especially when the misspellings
therein were considered.
The trial court likewise resolved the second issue in the negative, finding that MONINA's evidence
thereon "may either be one of three categories, namely: hearsay evidence, incredulous evidence, or
self-serving evidence." To the first category belonged the testimonies of Adela Casabuena and Alfredo
Baylosis, whose knowledge of MONINA's filiation was based, as to the former, on "utterances of
defendant's wife Lilia and Esperanza allegedly during the heat of their quarrel," while as to the latter,
Alfredo's conclusion was based "from the rumors going [around] that plaintiff is defendant's daughter,
front his personal observation of plaintiff's facial appearance which he compared with that of
defendant's and from the way the two (plaintiff and defendant) acted and treated each other on one
occasion that he had then opportunity to closely observe them together." To the second category
belonged that of Dominador Savariz, as:
At each precise time that Esperanza allegedly visited Nelly's Garden and allegedly on those
occasions when defendant's wife, Lilia was in Manila, this witness was there and allegedly heard
pieces of conversation between defendant and Esperanza related to the paternity of the latter's
child. . .
The RTC then placed MONINA's testimony regarding the acts of recognition accorded her by
FRANCISCO's relatives under the third category, since the latter were never presented as witnesses, for
which reason the trial court excluded the letters from FRANCISCO's relatives (Exhs. S to V).
As to the third issue, the trial court held that MONINA was not barred by prescription for it was of "the
perception . . . that the benefits of Article 268 accorded to legitimate children may be availed of or
extended to illegitimate children in the same manner as the Family Code has so provided;" or by laches,
"which is [a] creation of equity applied only to bring equitable results, and . . . addressed to the sound
discretion of the court [and] the circumstances [here] would show that whether plaintiff filed this case
immediately upon the death of her mother Esperanza in 1965 or twenty years thereafter in 1985, . . .
there seems to be no inequitable result to defendant as related to the situation of plaintiff."
The RTC ruled, however, that MONINA was barred by estoppel by deed because of the affidavit (Exh.
P/Exh. 2) which she signed "when she was already twenty-five years, a professional and . . . under the
able guidance of counsel."
Finally, the RTC denied FRANCISCO's claim for damages, finding that MONINA did not file the complaint
with malice, she having been "propelled by an honest belief, founded on probable cause."
MONINA seasonably appealed to the Court of Appeals (CA-G.R. CV No. 32860) and sought reversal of
the trial court's decision on the grounds that:
I
THE TRIAL COURT WAS ERRONEOUSLY PREDISPOSED TO ADJUDGE THIS CASE AGAINST
APPELLANT DUE TO ITS MISPERCEPTION THAT APPELLANT'S DELAY IN FILING HER COMPLAINT
WAS FATAL TO HER CASE.
II
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN ITS REJECTION OF THE TESTIMONIES OF APPELLANT'S WITNESSES AS
TAILOR-MADE, INADEQUATE AND INCREDIBLE.
III
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN ITS REJECTION OF THE ADMISSIBILITY OF THE CERTIFIED COPIES OF
PUBLIC DOCUMENTS PRESENTED BY APPELLANT AS PART OF HER EVIDENCE.
IV
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN ITS REQUIREMENT THAT A WITNESS TO THE ACTUAL ACT O
COPULATION BETWEEN THE APPELLEE AND APPELLANT'S MOTHER SHOULD HAVE POSITIVELY
TESTIFIED TO SAID EFFECT.
V
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN REJECTING THE ADMISSIBILITY OF THE DULY IDENTIFIED NOTES AND
LETTER OF THE RELATIVES OF THE APPELLEE AS HEARSAY.
VI
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN CONCLUDING THAT APPELLANT'S AFFIDAVIT (EXH. P) SERVED AS A
BAR AGAINST HER CLAIM FOR RECOGNITION INSTEAD OF REINFORCING SAID CLAIM. 13
Expectedly, FRANCISCO refuted these alleged errors in his Appellee's Brief. 14
In its decision of 27 April 1995, 15 the Court of Appeals initially declared that as no vested or acquired
rights were affected, the instant case was governed by Article 175, in relation to Articles 172 and 173, of
the Family Code. 16 While the Court of Appeals rejected the certifications issued by the Local Civil
Registrar of Dingle, Iloilo (Exhs. E and F) as FRANCISCO did not sign them, said court focused its
discussion on the other means by which illegitimate filiation could be proved, i.e., the open and
continuous possession of the status of an illegitimate child or, by any other means allowed by the Rules
of Court and special laws, such as "the baptismal certificate of the child, a judicial admission, a family
bible wherein the name of the child is entered, common reputation respecting pedigree, admission by
silence, testimonies of witnesses . . ." 17 To the Court of Appeals, the "bottom line issue" was whether or
not MONINA established her filiation as FRANCISCO's illegitimate daughter by preponderance of
evidence, as to which issue said court found:
[N]ot just preponderant but overwhelming evidence on record to prove that [MONINA] is the
illegitimate daughter of [FRANCISCO] and that she had continuously enjoyed such status by
direct acts of [FRANCISCO] and/or his relatives.
In so ruling, the Court of Appeals observed that the testimonies of Lope Amolar, Adela Casabuena and
Dominador Savariz were already sufficient to establish MONINA's filiation:
As adverted to earlier, the trial court discredited Lope Amolar's testimony by saying that Lope
could not have detected Esperanza's pregnant state in November, 1945 since at that point in
time [sic] she was still in the initial stage of pregnancy. Apparently, the trial court paid more
emphasis on the date mentioned by Lope Amolar than on the tenor and import his testimony.
As . . . Lope . . . was asked about an incident that transpired more than 41 years back, [u]nder
the circumstances, it is unreasonable to expect that Lope could still be dead right on the specific
month in 1945 that [he] met and confronted his sister. At any rate, what is important is not the
month that they met but the essence of his testimony that his sister pointed to their employer
[FRANCISCO] as the one responsible for her pregnancy, and that upon being confronted,
[FRANCISCO] assured him of support for Esperanza and their child. It would appear then that in
an attempt to find fault with Lope's testimony, the trial court has fallen oblivious to the fact that
even [FRANCISCO], in his deposition, did not deny that he was confronted by Lope about what
he had done to Esperanza during which he unequivocally acknowledged paternity by assuring
Lope of support for both Esperanza and their child.
The Court of Appeals further noted that Casabuena and Savariz "testified on something that they
personally observed or witnessed," which matters FRANCISCO "did not deny or refute." Finally, said
court aptly held:
Taking into account all the foregoing uncontroverted testimonies
. . . let alone such circumstantial evidence as [MONINA's] Birth Certificates . . . and Baptismal
Certificates which invariably bear the name of [FRANCISCO] as her father, We cannot go along
with the trial court's theory that [MONINA's] illegitimate filiation has not been satisfactorily
established.
xxx xxx xxx
Significantly, [MONINA's] testimony finds ample corroboration from [FRANCISCO's] former
employees, Arsenio Duatin, Rudy Tingson and Alfredo Baylosis. . . .
xxx xxx xxx
Carefully evaluating appellant's evidence on her enjoyment of the status of an illegitimate
daughter of [FRANCISCO] vis-a-vis [FRANCISCO's] controversion thereof, We find more weight in
the former. The positive testimonies of [MONINA] and [her] witnesses . . . all bearing on
[FRANCISCO's] acts and/or conduct indubitably showing that he had continuously acknowledged
[MONINA] as his illegitimate daughter have not been succeessfully [sic] refuted. In fact,
[FRANCISCO] himself, in his deposition, only casually dismissed [MONINA's] exhaustive and
detailed testimony as untrue, and with respect to those given by [MONINA's] witnesses, he
merely explained that he had fired [them] from their employment. Needless to state,
[FRANCISCO's] vague denial is grossly inadequate to overcome the probative weight of
[MONINA's] testimonial evidence.
Even the affidavit (Exh 2) which [FRANCISCO] had foisted on the trial court . . . does not hold
sway in the face of [MONINA's] logical explanation that she at first did agree to sign the affidavit
which contained untruthful statements. In fact, she promptly complained to [FRANCISCO] who,
however explained to her that the affidavit was only for the consumption of his spouse . . .
Further, the testimony of Jose Cruz concerning the events that led to the execution of the
affidavit . . . could not have been true, for as pointed out by [MONINA] she signed the affidavit .
. . almost five months after she had resigned from the Miller, Cruz & Co. . . .
At any rate, if [MONINA] were not his illegitimate daughter, it would have been uncalled for, if
not absurd, for [FRANCISCO] or his lawyer to have secured [MONINA's] sworn statement . . . On
the contrary, in asking [MONINA] to sign the said affidavit at the cost of P15,000. [FRANCISCO]
clearly betrayed his intention to conceal or suppress his paternity of [MONINA] . . .
In fine, We hold that [MONINA's] filiation as [FRANCISCO's] illegitimate daughter has been
conclusively, established by the uncontroverted testimonies of Lope Amolar, Adela Casabuena
and Dominador Savariz to the effect that appellee himself had admitted his paternity of the
appellee, and also by the testimonies of appellant; Arsenio Duatin, Romeo Bilbao, Rudy Tingson
and Alfredo Baylosis unerringly demonstrating that by his own conduct or overt acts like sending
appellant to school, paying for her tuition fees, school uniforms, books, board and lodging at the
Colegio del Sagrado Corazon de Jesus, defraying appellant's hospitalization expenses, providing
her with [a] monthly allowance, paying for the funeral expenses of appellant's mother,
acknowledging appellant's paternal greetings and calling appellant his "Hija" or child, instructing
his office personnel to give appellant's monthly allowance, recommending appellant for
employment at the Miller, Cruz & Co., allowing appellant to use his house in Bacolod and paying
for her long distance telephone calls, having appellant spend her vacation in his apartment in
Manila and also at his Forbes residence, allowing appellant to use his surname in her scholastic
and other records (Exhs. Z, AA, AA-1, to AA-5, W & W-5), appellee had continuously recognized
appellant as his illegitimate daughter. Added to these are the acts of [FRANCISCO's] relatives
acknowledging or treating [MONINA] as [FRANCISCO's] daughter (Exh. U) or as their relative
(Exhs. T & V). On this point, witness Zafiro Ledesma, former Mayor of Iloilo City, whose spouse
belongs to the Lopez clan just like [FRANCISCO], testified that [MONINA) has been considered by
the Lopezes as a relative. He identified pictures of the appellee in the company of the Lopezes
(Exhs X-16 & X-17). Another witness, Danthea H. Lopez, whose husband Eusebio Lopez is
appellee's first cousin, testified that appellant was introduced to her by appellee's cousin,
Remedios Lopez Franco, as the daughter of appellee Francisco Jison, for which reason, she took
her in as [a] secretary in the Merchant's Financing Corporation of which she was the manager,
and further allowed her to stay with her family free of board and lodging. Still on this aspect,
Dominador Savariz declared that sometime in February, 1966 appellee's relative, Ms. Remedios
Lopez Franco pointed to appellant as the daughter of appellee Francisco Jison.
Finally, the Certifications of the Local Civil Registrar of Dingle (Exhs E and F) as well as
[MONINA's] Baptismal Certificates (Exhs C & D) which the trial court admitted in evidence as
part of [MONINA's] testimony, may serve as circumstantial evidence to further reinforce
[MONINA's] claim that she is [FRANCISCO's] illegitimate daughter by Esperanza Amolar.
True it is that a trial judge's assessment of the credibility of witnesses is accorded great respect
on appeal. But the rule admits of certain exceptions. One such exception is where the judge who
rendered the judgment was not the one who heard the witnesses testify. [citations omitted] The
other is where the trial court had overlooked, misunderstood or misappreciated some facts or
circumstances of weight and substance which, if properly considered, might affect the result of
the case. [citations omitted] In the present case, both exceptions obtain. All of [MONINA's]
witnesses . . . whose testimonies were not given credence did not testify before the judge who
rendered the disputed judgment . . .
The Court of Appeals then decreed:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the judgment of the trial court is SET ASIDE and another one
is hereby entered for appellant Monina Jison, declaring her as the illegitimate daughter of
appellee Francisco Jison, and entitled to all rights and privileges granted by law.
Costs against appellee.
SO ORDERED.
His motion for reconsideration having been denied by the Court of Appeals in its resolution of 29 March
1996, 18FRANCISCO filed the instant petition. He urges us to reverse the judgment of the Court of
Appeals, alleging that said court committed errors of law:
I.
. . . IN REVERSING THE DECISION OF THE TRIAL COURT AND DECLARING PRIVATE RESPONDENT
AS THE ILLEGITIMATE CHILD OF PETITIONER, CONSIDERING [THE] IMPOSSIBILITY OF SEXUAL
CONTACT BETWEEN THE PETITIONER AND THE PRIVATE RESPONDENTS MOTHER AT THE TIME
CONCEPTION WAS SUPPOSED TO HAVE OCCURRED.
II.
. . . IN REVERSING THE TRIAL COURT'S FINDING CONSIDERING THAT PRIVATE RESPONDENTS
TESTIMONIAL EVIDENCE OF PATERNITY AND FILIATION IS NOT CLEAR AND CONVINCING.
III.
. . . IN GIVING CREDENCE TO DOCUMENTARY EVIDENCE PRESENTED BY THE PRIVATE
RESPONDENT AS EVIDENCE OF FILIATION CONSIDERING THAT THE SAME ARE HEARSAY, SELF-
SERVING AND CANNOT BIND THE PETITIONER UNDER THE BASIC RULES OF EVIDENCE.
IV.
. . . IN INTERPRETING THE PRIVATE RESPONDENTS SWORN STATEMENT (EXH. "P" /EXH. "2") IN A
MANNER NOT IN CONSONANCE WITH THE RULINGS OF THE HONORABLE SUPREME COURT.
V.
. . . IN NOT CONSIDERING THE LONG AND UNEXPLAINED DELAY IN THE FILING OF THE PRESENT
PATERNITY SUIT AS EQUIVALENT TO LACHES.
As regards the first error, FRANCISCO insists that taking into account the second paragraph of MONINA's
complaint wherein she claimed that he and Pansay had sexual relations "by about the end of 1945 or
the start of 1946," it was physically impossable for him and Pansay to have had sexual contact which
resulted in MONINA's birth, considering that:
The normal period of human pregnancy is nine (9) months. If as claimed by private respondent
in her complaint that her mother was impregnated by FRANCISCO "at the end of 1945 or the
start of 1946", she would have been born sometime in late September or early October and not
August 6, 1946 . . . The instant case finds factual and legal parallels in Constantino
vs. Mendez, 19 thus: . . .
FRANCISCO further claims that his testimony that Pansay was no longer employed by him at the time in
question was unrebutted, moreover, other men had access to Pansay during the time of or even after
her employment by him.
As to the second error, FRANCISCO submits that MONINA's testimonial evidence is "shaky, contradictory
and unreliable," and proceeds to attack the credibility of her witnesses by claiming, in the main, that: (a)
Lope Amolar could not have detected Pansay pregnancy in November 1945 when they met since she
would have been only one (1) month pregnant then; (b) Dominador Savariz did not in fact witness the
meeting between FRANCISCO, Pansay and MONINA; (c) Zafiro Ledesma had an ulterior motive in
testifying for MONINA as he owned a bank in Iloilo which was then under Central Bank supervision and
MONINA was the Bank Examiner assigned to Iloilo; and (d) Danthea Lopez was not related to him by
blood and whatever favorable treatment MONINA received from Danthea was due to the former's
employment at Merchants' Financing Company and additional services rendered at Kahirup Hotel;
besides Danthea admitted that she had no personal knowledge as to the issue of paternity and filiation
of the contending parties, hence Sections 39 and 40 20 of Rule 130 of the Rules of Court did not come
into play. FRANCISCO likewise re-echoes the view of the trial court as regards the testimonies of Adela
Casabuena and Alfredo Baylosis.
FRANCISCO further asserts that MONINA's testimony that he answered for her schooling was self-
serving and uncorroborated by any receipt or other documentary evidence; and assuming he did, such
should be interpreted as a manifestation of kindness shown towards the family of a former household
helper.
Anent the treatment given by his relatives to MONINA as his daughter, FRANCISCO points to the fact
that Pansay was the former laundrywoman of Mrs. Franco; MONINA resided with the families of Eusebio
Lopez and Concha Cuaycong because she was in their employ at Kahirup Hotel and Our Lady of Mercy
Hospital, respectively; MONINA failed to present Mrs. Franco, Eusebio Lopez and Mrs. Cuaycong; and
MONINA's employment at the accounting firm of Miller, Cruz & Co. was attributable to her educational
attainment, there being absolutely no evidence to prove that FRANCISCO ever facilitated her
employment thereat. Hence, in light of Baluyot v. Baluyot,21 the quantum of evidence to prove paternity
by clear and convincing evidence, not merely a preponderance thereof, was not met.
With respect to the third assigned error, FRANCISCO argues that the Court of Appeals' reliance on the
certifications of the Local Civil Registrar (Exhs. E and F) and Baptismal Certificates (Exhs. C and D) as
circumstantial evidence is misplaced. First, their genuineness could not be ascertained as the persons
who issued them did not testify. Second, in light of Reyes v. Court of Appeals, 22 the contents of the
baptismal certificates were hearsay, as the data was based only on what was told to the priest who
solemnized the baptism, who likewise was not presented as a witness. Additionally, the name of the
father appearing therein was "Franque Jison," which was not FRANCISCO's name. Third, in both Exhibits
E and F, the names of the child's parents were listed as "Frank Heson" and "Esperanza Amador" (not
Amolar). FRANCISCO further points out that in Exhibit F, the status of the child is listen as "legitimate,"
while the father's occupation as "laborer." Most importantly, there was no showing that FRANCISCO
signed Exhibits E and F or that he was the one who reported the child's birth to the Office of the Local
Civil Registrar. As to MONINA's educational records, FRANCISCO invokes Bañas v. Bañas 23 which
recognized that school records are prepared by school authorities, not by putative parents, thus
incompetent to prove paternity. And, as to the photographs presented by MONINA, FRANCISCO
cites Colorado v. Court of Appeals, 24 and further asserts that MONINA did not present any of the
persons with whom she is seen in the pictures to testify thereon; besides these persons were, at best,
mere second cousins of FRANCISCO. He likewise assails the various notes and letters written by his
relatives (Exhs. S to V) as they were not identified by the authors. Finally, he stresses that MONINA did
not testify as to the telephone cards (Exhs. G to L) nor did these reveal the circumstances surrounding
the calls she made from his residence.
Anent the fourth assigned error, FRANCISCO contends that the Court of Appeals' interpretation of
MONINA's affidavit of 21 September 1971 ran counter to Dequito v. Llamas, 25 and overlooked that at
the time of execution, MONINA was more than 25 years old and assisted by counsel.
As to the last assigned error, FRANCISCO bewails the Court of Appeals' failure to consider the long and
unexplained delay in the filing of the case.
In her comment, MONINA forcefully refuted FRANCISCO's arguments, leading FRANCISCO to file his
reply thereto.
On 20 November 1996, we gave due course to this petition and required the parties to submit their
respective memoranda, which they subsequently did.
A painstaking review of the evidence and arguments fails to support petitioner.
Before addressing the merits of the controversy, we first dispose of preliminary matters relating to the
applicable law and the guiding principles in paternity suits. As to the former, plainly, the Family Code of
the Philippines (Executive Order No. 209) governs the present controversy. As correctly cited by the
Court of Appeals, Uyguangco 26 served as a judicial confirmation of Article 256 of the Family
Code 27 regarding its retroactive effect unless there be impairment of vested rights, which does not hold
true here, it appearing that neither the putative parent nor the child has passed away and the former
having actually resisted the latter's claim below.
Under Article 175 of the Family Code, illegitimate filiation, such as MONINA's, may be established in the
same way and on the same evidence as that of legitimate children. Article 172 thereof provides the
various forms of evidence by which legitimate filiation is established, thus:
Art. 172. The filiation of legitimate children is established by any of the following:
(1) The record of birth appearing in the civil register or a final judgment; or
(2) An admission of legitimate filiation in a public document or a private
handwritten instrument signed by the parent concerned.
In the absence of the foregoing evidence, the legitimate filiation shall be proved
by:
(1) The open and continuous possession of the status of a legitimate child; or
(2) Any other means allowed by the Rules of Court and special laws.
This Article reproduces, with amendments, Articles 265, 266 and 267 of the Civil Code.
For the success of an action to establish illegitimate filiation under the second paragraph. which
MONINA relies upon given that she has none of the evidence mentioned in the first paragraph, a "high
standard of proof" 28 is required. Specifically, to prove open and continuous possession of the status of
an illegitimate child, there must be evidence of the manifestation of the permanent intention of the
supposed father to consider the child as his, by continuous and clear manifestations of parental
affection and care, which cannot be attributed to pure charity. Such acts must be of such a nature that
they reveal not only the conviction of paternity, but also the apparent desire to have and treat the child
as such in all relations in society and in life, not accidentally, but continuously. 29
By "continuous" is meant uninterrupted and consistent, but does not require any particular length of
time. 30
The foregoing standard of proof required to establish one's filiation is founded on the principle that an
order for recognition and support may create an unwholesome atmosphere or may be an irritant in the
family or lives of the parties, so that it must be issued only if paternity or filiation is established by clear
and convincing evidence. 31
The foregoing discussion, however, must be situated within the general rules on evidence, in light of the
burden of proof in civil cases, i.e., preponderance of evidence, and the shifting of the burden of
evidence in such cases. Simply put, he who alleges the affirmative of the issue has the burden of proof,
and upon the plaintiff in a civil case, the burden of proof never parts. However, in the course of trial in a
civil case, once plaintiff makes out aprima facie case in his favor, the duty or the burden of evidence
shifts to defendant to controvert plaintiff's prima facie case, otherwise, a verdict must be returned in
favor of plaintiff. Moreover, in civil cases, the party having the burden of proof must produce a
preponderance of evidence thereon, with plaintiff having to rely on the strength of his own evidence
and not upon the weakness of the defendant's. The concept of "preponderance of evidence" refers to
evidence which is of greater weight, or more convincing, that which is offered in opposition to it; at
bottom, it means probability of truth. 32
With these in mind, we now proceed to resolve the merits of the instant controversy.
FRANCISCO's arguments in support of his first assigned error deserve scant consideration. While it has
been observed that unlawful intercourse will not be presumed merely from proof of an opportunity for
such indulgence,33 this does not favor FRANCISCO. Akin to the crime of rape where, in most instances,
the only witnesses to the felony are the participants in the sexual act themselves, in deciding paternity
suits, the issue of whether sexual intercourse actually occurred inevitably redounds to the victim's or
mother's word, as against the accused's or putative father's protestations. In the instant case, MONINA's
mother could no longer testify as to the fact of intercourse, as she had, unfortunately, passed away long
before the institution of the complaint for recognition. But this did not mean that MONINA could no
longer prove her filiation. The fact of her birth and her parentage may be established by evidence other
than the testimony of her mother. The paramount question then is whether MONINA's evidence is
coherent, logical and natural. 34
The complaint stated that FRANCISCO had carnal knowledge of Pansay "by about the end of 1945." We
agree with MONINA that this was broad enough to cover the fourth quarter of said year, hence her birth
on 6 August 1946 could still be attributed to sexual relations between FRANCISCO and MONINA's
mother. In any event, since it was established that her mother was still in the employ of FRANCISCO at
the time MONINA was conceived as determined by the date of her birth, sexual contact between
FRANCISCO and MONINA's mother was not at all impossible, especially in light of the overwhelming
evidence, as hereafter shown, that FRANCISCO fathered MONINA, has recognized her as his daughter
and that MONINA has been enjoying the open and continuous possession of the status as FRANCISCO's
illegitimate daughter.
We readily conclude that the testimonial evidence offered by MONINA, woven by her narration of
circumstances and events that occurred through the years, concerning her relationship with FRANCISCO,
coupled with the testimonies of her witnesses, overwhelmingly established the following facts:
1) FRANCISCO is MONINA's father and she was conceived at the time when her mother was in
the employ of the former;
2) FRANCISCO recognized MONINA as his child through his overt acts and conduct which the
Court of Appeals took pains to enumerate, thus:
[L]ike sending appellant to school, paying for her tuition fees, school uniforms,
books, board and lodging at the Colegio del Sagrado de Jesus, defraying
appellant's hospitalization expenses, providing her with [a] monthly allowance,
paying for the funeral expenses of appellant's mother, acknowledging
appellant's paternal greetings and calling appellant his "Hija" or child,
instructing his office personnel to give appellant's monthly allowance,
recommending appellant to use his house in Bacolod and paying for her long
distance telephone calls, having appellant spend her long distance telephone
calls, having appellant spend her vacation in his apartment in Manila and also at
his Forbes residence, allowing appellant to use his surname in her scholastic and
other records (Exhs Z, AA, AA-1 to AA-5, W & W-5) . . .
3) Such recognition has been consistently shown and manifested throughout the years
publicly, 35spontaneously, continuously and in an uninterrupted manner. 36
Accordingly, in light of the totality of the evidence on record, the second assigned error must fail.
There is some merit, however, in the third assigned error against the probative value of some of
MONINA's documentary evidence.
MONINA's reliance on the certification issued by the Local Civil Registrar concerning her birth (Exhs. E
and F) is clearly misplaced. It is settled that a certificate of live birth purportedly identifying the putative
father is not competent evidence as to the issue of paternity, when there is no showing that the
putative father had a hand in the preparation of said certificates, and the Local Civil Registrar is devoid
of authority to record the paternity of an illegitimate child upon the information of a third
person. 37 Simply put, if the alleged father did not intervene in the birth certificate, e.g., supplying the
information himself, the inscription of his name by the mother or doctor or registrar is null and void; the
mere certificate by the registrar without the signature of the father is not proof of voluntary
acknowledgment on the latter's part. 38 In like manner, FRANCISCO's lack of participation in the
preparation of the baptismal certificates (Exhs. C and D) and school records (Exhs. Z and AA) renders
these documents incompetent to prove paternity, the former being competent merely to prove the
administration of the sacrament of baptism on the date so specified. 39 However, despite the
inadmissibility of the school records per se to prove the paternity, they may be admitted as part of
MONINA's testimony to corroborate her claim that FRANCISCO spent for her education.
We likewise disagree with the ruling of the Court of Appeals that the certificates issued by the Local Civil
Registrar and the baptismal certificates may be taken as circumstantial evidence to prove MONINA's
filiation. Since they areper se inadmissible in evidence as proof of such filiation, they cannot be admitted
indirectly as circumstantial evidence to prove the same.
As to Exhibits "S," "T," "U" and "V," the various notes and letters written by FRANCISCO's relatives,
namely Mike Alano, Emilio Jison, Mariquit Lopez and Fernando Lopez, respectively, allegedly attesting to
MONINA's filiation, while their due execution and authenticity are not in issue, 40 as MONINA witnessed
the authors signing the documents, nevertheless, under Rule 130, Section 39, the contents of these
documents may not be admitted, there being no showing that the declarants-authors were dead or
unable to testify, neither was the relationship between the declarants and MONINA shown by evidence
other than the documents in question. 41 As to the admissibility of these documents under Rule 130,
Section 40, however, this requires further elaboration.
Rule 130, Section 40, provides:
Sec. 40. Family reputation or tradition regarding pedigree. — The reputation or tradition existing
in a family previous to the controversy, in respect to the pedigree of any one of its members,
may be received in evidence if the witness testifying thereon be also a member of the family,
either by consanguinity or affinity.Entries in family bibles or other family books or charts,
engravings on rings, family portraits and the like may be received as evidence of pedigree.
(emphasis supplied)
It is evident that this provision may be divided into two (2) parts: the portion containing the first
underscored clause which pertains to testimonial evidence, under which the documents in question may
not be admitted as the authors thereof did not take the witness stand; and the section containing the
second underscored phrase. What must then be ascertained is whether Exhibits S to V, as private
documents, fall within the scope of the clause "and the like" as qualified by the preceding phrase
"[e]ntries in family bibles or other family books or charts, engravings on rights [and] family portraits,"
We hold that the scope of the enumeration contained in the second portion of this provision, in light of
the rule ofejusdem generis, is limited to objects which are commonly known as "family possessions," or
those articles which represent, in effect, a family's joint statement of its belief as to the pedigree of a
person. 42 These have been described as objects "openly exhibited and well known to the family," 43 or
those "which, if preserved in a family, may be regarded as giving a family tradition." 44 Other examples of
these objects which are regarded as reflective of a family's reputation or tradition regarding pedigree
are inscriptions on tombstones, 45 monuments or coffin plates. 46
Plainly then, Exhibits S to V, as private documents not constituting "family possessions" as discussed
above, may not be admitted on the basis of Rule 130, Section 40. Neither may these exhibits be
admitted on the basis of Rule 130, Section 41 regarding common reputation, 47 it having been observed
that:
[T]he weight of authority appears to be in favor of the theory that it is the general repute, the
common reputation in the family, and not the common reputation in community, that is a
material element of evidence going to establish pedigree. . . . [Thus] matters of pedigree may be
proved by reputation in the family, and not by reputation in the neighborhood or vicinity, except
where the pedigree in question is marriage which may be proved by common reputation in the
community. 48
Their inadmissibility notwithstanding, Exhibits "S" to "V," inclusive, may, in like manner as MONINA's
school records, properly be admitted as part of her testimony to strengthen her claim that, indeed,
relatives of FRANCISCO recognized her as his daughter.
We now direct our attention to MONINA's 21 September 1971 affidavit (Exh. P/Exh. 2), subject of the
fourth assigned error, where she attests that FRANCISCO is not her father. MONINA contends that she
signed it under duress, i.e., she was jobless, had no savings and needed the money to support herself
and finish her studies. Moreover, she signed Exhibit P upon the advice of Atty. Divinagracia that filiation
could not be waived and that FRANCISCO's ploy would "boomerang" upon him. On the other hand,
FRANCISCO asserts that full credence should be afforded Exhibit P as MONINA was already 25 years old
at the time of its execution and was advised by counsel; further, being a notarized document, its
genuineness and due execution could not be questioned. He relies on the testimony of Jose Cruz, a
partner at the accounting firm of Miller & Cruz, who declared that he intervened in the matter as
MONINA was spreading rumors about her filiation within the firm, which might have had deleterious
effects upon the relationship between the firm and FRANCISCO.
On this issue, we find for MONINA and agree with the following observations of the Court of Appeals:
Even the affidavit (Exh 2) which [FRANCISCO] had foisted on the trial court . . . does not hold
sway in the face of [MONINA's] logical explanation that she at first did agree to sign the affidavit
which contained untruthful statements. In fact, she promptly complained to [FRANCISCO] who,
however explained to her that the affidavit was only for the consumption of his spouse . . .
At any rate, if [MONINA] were not his illegitimate daughter, it would have been uncalled for, if
not absurd, for [FRANCISCO] of his lawyer to have secured [MONINA's] sworn statement . . . On
the contrary, in asking [MONINA] to sign the said affidavit at the cost of P15,000. [FRANCISCO]
clearly betrayed his intention to conceal or suppress his paternity of [MONINA] . . .
Indeed, if MONINA were truly not FRANCISCO's illegitimate daughter, it would have been unnecessary
for him to have gone to such great lengths in order that MONINA denounce her filiation. For as clearly
established before the trial court and properly appreciated by the Court of Appeals, MONINA had
resigned from Miller & Cruz five (5) months prior to the execution of the sworn statement in question,
hence negating FRANCISCO's theory of the need to quash rumors circulating within Miller & Cruz
regarding the identity of MONINA's father. Hence, coupled with the assessment of the credibility of the
testimonial evidence of the parties discussed above, it is evident that the standard to contradict a
notarial document, i.e. clear and convincing evidence and more than merely preponderant, 49 has been
met by MONINA
Plainly then, the burden of evidence fully shifted to FRANCISCO.
Two (2) glaring points in FRANCISCO's defense beg to be addressed: First, that his testimony was
comprised of mere denials, rife with bare, unsubstantiated responses such as "That is not true," "I do
not believe that," or "None that I know." In declining then to lend credence to FRANCISCO's testimony,
we resort to a guiding principle in adjudging the credibility of a witness and the truthfulness of his
statements, laid down as early as 1921:
The experience of courts and the general observation of humanity teach us that the natural
limitations of our inventive faculties are such that if a witness undertakes to fabricate and
deliver in court a false narrative containing numerous details, he is almost certain to fall into
fatal inconsistencies, to make statements which can be readily refuted, or to expose in his
demeanor the falsity of his message.
For this reason it will be found that perjurers usually confine themselves to the incidents
immediately related to the principal fact about which they testify, and when asked about
collateral facts by which their truthfulness could be tested, their answers not infrequently take
the stereotyped form of such expressions as "I don't know" or "I don't remember." . . . 50
Second, the reasons for the dismissals of Tingson, Baylosis and Savariz were unspecified or likewise
unsubstantiated, hence FRANCISCO's attempt to prove ill-motive on their part to falsely testify in
MONINA's favor may not succeed. As may be gleaned, the only detail which FRANCISCO could furnish as
to the circumstances surrounding the dismissals of his former employees was that Baylosis allegedly
"took advantage of his position" while FRANCISCO was in the United States. But aside from this bare
claim, FRANCISCO's account is barren, hence unable to provide the basis for a finding of bias against
FRANCISCO on the part of his former employees.
As to FRANCISCO's other witnesses, nothing substantial could be obtained either. Nonito Jalandoni
avowed that he only came to know of MONINA in June 1988; 51 that during his employment at Nelly
Garden from 1963 up to 1974, he did not recall ever having seen MONINA there, neither did he know of
any instructions from FRANCISCO nor Mr. Lagarto (FRANCISCO's office manager before passing away)
regarding the disbursement of MONINA's allowance. 52 Teodoro Zulla corroborated Jalandoni's
testimony regarding not having seen MONINA at Nelly Garden and MONINA's allowance; declared that
Alfredo Baylosis was dismissed due to discrepancies discovered after an audit, without any further
elaboration, however; but admitted that he never prepared the vouchers pertaining to FRANCISCO's
personal expenses, merely those intended for one of FRANCISCO's haciendas. 53 Then, Iñigo Superticioso
confirmed that according to the report of a certain Mr. Atienza, Baylosis "was dismissed by Mr. Jison for
irregularities," while Superticioso was informed by FRANCISCO that Tingson was dismissed for loss of
confidence. Superticioso likewise denied that MONINA received money from FRANCISCO's office,
neither was there a standing order from FRANCISCO to release funds to her. 54
It is at once obvious that the testimonies of these witnesses for FRANCISCO are likewise insufficient to
overcome MONINA's evidence. The former merely consist of denials as regards the latter's having gone
to Nelly Garden or having received her allowance from FRANCISCO's office, which, being in the form of
negative testimony, necessarily stand infirm as against positive testimony; 55 bare assertions as regards
the dismissal of Baylosis; ignorance of FRANCISCO's personal expenses incapable of evincing that
FRANCISCO did not provide MONINA with an allowance; or hearsay evidence as regards the cause for
the dismissals of Baylosis and Tingson. But what then serves as the coup de grace is that despite
Superticioso's claim that he did not know MONINA, 56 when confronted with Exhibit H, a telephone toll
ticket indicating that on 18 May 1971, MONINA called a certain "Eñing" at FRANCISCO's office,
Superticioso admitted that his nickname was "Iñing" and that there was no other person named "Iñing"
in FRANCISCO's office. 57
All told, MONINA's evidence hurdled "the high standard of proof" required for the success of an action
to establish one's illegitimate filiation when relying upon the provisions regarding "open and continuous
possession'' or "any other means allowed by the Rules of Court and special laws;" moreover, MONINA
proved her filiation by more than mere preponderance of evidence.
The last assigned error concerning laches likewise fails to convince. The essential elements of laches are:
(1) conduct on the part of the defendant, or of one under whom he claims, giving rise to the situation of
which the complaint seeks a remedy; (2) delay in asserting the complainant's rights, the complainant
having had knowledge or notice of the defendant's conduct as having been afforded an opportunity to
institute a suit; (3) lack of knowledge or notice on the part of the defendant that the complaint would
assert the right in which he bases his suit; and (4) injury or prejudice to the defendant in the event relief
is accorded to the complaint, or the suit is not held barred. 58 The last element is the origin of the
doctrine that sale demands apply only where by reason of the lapse of time it would be inequitable to
allow a party to enforce his legal rights. 59
As FRANCISCO set up, laches as an affirmative defense, it was incumbent upon him to prove the
existence of its elements. However, he only succeeded in showing MONINA's delay in asserting her
claim, but miserably failed to prove the last element. In any event, it must be stressed that laches is
based upon grounds of public policy which requires, for the peace of society, the discouragement of
state claims, and is principally a question of the inequity or unfairness of permitting a right or claim to
be enforced or asserted. There is no absolute rule as to what constitutes laches; each case is to be
determined according to its particular circumstances. The question of laches is addressed to the sound
discretion of the court, and since it is an equitable doctrine, its application is controlled by equitable
considerations. It cannot be worked to defeat justice or to perpetuate fraud and injustice.60 Since the
instant case involves paternity and filiation, even if illegitimate, MONINA filed her action well within the
period granted her by a positive provision of law. A denial then of her action on ground of laches would
clearly be inequitable and unjust.
WHEREFORE, IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the petition is hereby DENIED and the challenged decision of
the Court of Appeals of 27 April 1995 in CA-G.R. CV No. 32860 is AFFIRMED.
Costs against petitioner.
SO ORDERED.
Bellosillo, Vitug, Panganiban and Quisumbing, JJ., concur.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
SECOND DIVISION
G.R. No. 172471 November 12, 2012
ANTONIO PERLA, Petitioner,
vs.
MIRASOL BARING and RANDY PERLA, Respondents.
DECISION
DEL CASTILLO, J.:
"An order for x x x support x x x must be issued only if paternity or filiation is established by clear and
convincing evidence."1
Assailed in this Petition for Review on Certiorari2 is the March 31, 2005 Decision3 of the Court of Appeals
(CA) in CA-G.R. CV No. 79312 which dismissed petitioner Antonio Perla’s (Antonio) appeal from the
February 26, 2003 Decision4 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Antipolo City, Branch 71 in Civil Case No.
96-3952, ordering him to give monthly support to respondent Randy Perla (Randy). Likewise assailed is
the CA’s May 5, 2006 Resolution5denying the motion for reconsideration thereto.
Factual Antecedents
Respondent Mirasol Baring (Mirasol) and her then minor son, Randy (collectively respondents), filed
before the RTC a Complaint6 for support against Antonio.
They alleged in said Complaint that Mirasol and Antonio lived together as common-law spouses for two
years. As a result of said cohabitation, Randy was born on November 11, 1983. However, when Antonio
landed a job as seaman, he abandoned them and failed to give any support to his son. Respondents thus
prayed that Antonio be ordered to support Randy.
In his Answer with Counterclaim,7 Antonio, who is now married and has a family of his own, denied
having fathered Randy. Although he admitted to having known Mirasol, he averred that she never
became his common-law wife nor was she treated as such. And since Mirasol had been intimidating and
pestering him as early as 1992 with various suits by insisting that Randy is his son, Antonio sought moral
and exemplary damages by way of counterclaim from respondents.
During trial, Mirasol testified that from 1981 to 1983, she lived in Upper Bicutan, Taguig where Antonio
was a neighbor.8 In the first week of January 1981, Antonio courted her9 and eventually became her first
boyfriend.10Antonio would then visit her everyday until 1982.11 Upon clarificatory question by the court
whether she and Antonio eventually lived together as husband and wife, Mirasol answered that they
were just sweethearts.12
When Mirasol became pregnant in 1983, Antonio assured her that he would support her.13 Eventually,
however, Antonio started to evade her.14 Mirasol last saw Antonio in 1983 but could not remember the
particular month.15
On November 11, 1983, Mirasol gave birth to Randy.16 She presented Randy’s Certificate of Live
Birth17 and Baptismal Certificate18 indicating her and Antonio as parents of the child. Mirasol testified
that she and Antonio supplied the information in the said certificates.19 Antonio supplied his name and
birthplace after Erlinda Balmori (Erlinda), the "hilot" who assisted in Mirasol’s delivery of Randy, went to
his house to solicit the said information.20Mirasol also claimed that it was Erlinda who supplied the date
and place of marriage of the parents so that the latter can file the birth certificate.21 Mirasol likewise
confirmed that she is the same "Mirasol Perla" who signed as the informant therein.22
Next to take the witness stand was Randy who at that time was just 15 years old.23 Randy claimed that
he knew Antonio to be the husband of her mother and as his father.24 He recounted having met him for
the first time in 1994 in the house of his Aunt Lelita, Antonio’s sister, where he was vacationing.25 During
their encounter, Randy called Antonio "Papa" and kissed his hand while the latter hugged him.26 When
Randy asked him for support, Antonio promised that he would support him.27 Randy further testified
that during his one-week stay in his Aunt Lelita’s place, the latter treated him as member of the family.28
For her part, Aurora Ducay testified that she knew both Mirasol and Antonio as they were neighbors in
Upper Bicutan, Taguig. Presently, Antonio is still her neighbor in the said place.29 According to her, she
knew of Mirasol’s and Antonio’s relationship because aside from seeing Antonio frequenting the house
of Mirasol, she asked Antonio about it.30 She further narrated that the two have a son named
Randy31 and that Antonio’s mother even tried to get the child from Mirasol.32
Testifying as an adverse witness for the respondents, Antonio admitted having sexual intercourse with
Mirasol in February and August33 of 1981.34 When shown with Randy’s Certificate of Live Birth and asked
whether he had a hand in the preparation of the same, Antonio answered in the negative.35
Testifying for himself, Antonio denied having courted Mirasol on January 5, 1981 because during that
time, he was studying in Iloilo City. He graduated from the Iloilo Maritime Academy in March of
198136 as shown by his diploma.37 It was only in May 1981 or after his graduation that he came to
Manila. Further, he denied having any relationship with Mirasol.38 He claimed that he had sexual
intercourse with Mirasol only once which happened in the month of September or October of 1981.39
Antonio came to know that he was being imputed as the father of Randy only when Mirasol charged him
with abandonment of minor in 1994, which was also the first time he saw Randy.40 Prior to that, neither
Mirasol nor her sister, Norma, whom he met a few times told him about the child.41
Anent Randy’s Certificate of Live Birth, Antonio testified as to several inaccuracies in the entries thereon.
According to him, his middle initial is "E" and not "A" as appearing in the said certificate of live
birth.42 Also, he is not a protestant and a laborer as indicated in said certificate.43 Antonio likewise
alleged that Mirasol only made up the entries with respect to their marriage on October 28, 1981.44
Daisy Balmori Rodriguez (Daisy), for her part, testified that she came to know Mirasol through her
mother Erlinda who was the "hilot" when Mirasol gave birth to Randy.45 She narrated that her mother
asked Mirasol the details to be entered in the child’s Certificate of Live Birth such as the names of the
parents, date and place of marriage, and the intended name of the child.46 Her mother also told her that
Mirasol’s son has no acknowledged father.47Daisy likewise claimed that Mirasol later left to her care the
then infant Randy until Mirasol took him away without permission when the child was almost five years
old.48
Ruling of the Regional Trial Court
After trial, the RTC rendered a Decision49 dated February 26, 2003 ordering Antonio to support Randy.
The RTC ruled that Mirasol and Randy are entitled to the relief sought since Antonio himself admitted
that he had sex with Mirasol. It also noted that when the 15-year old Randy testified, he categorically
declared Antonio as his father. The RTC opined that Mirasol would not have gone through the trouble of
exposing herself to humiliation, shame and ridicule of public trial if her allegations were untrue.
Antonio’s counterclaim was denied due to the absence of bad faith or ill-motive on the part of Mirasol
and Randy.
The dispositive portion of the RTC Decision reads:
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered in favor of the plaintiff Randy Perla and against the
defendant Antonio Perla, ordering the latter to give a reasonable monthly support of P5,000.00 to
Randy Perla for his sustenance and support to be given to him from the time of the filing of this
Complaint.
Defendant’s counterclaim is DISMISSED.
SO ORDERED.50
Antonio filed a Notice of Appeal51 which was given due course by the RTC.52
Ruling of the Court of Appeals
In its Decision53 of March 31, 2005, the CA upheld Randy’s illegitimate filiation based on the certified
true copies of his birth certificate and of his baptismal certificate identifying Antonio as his father.
According to the appellate court, while these documents do not bear the signature of Antonio, they are
proofs that Antonio is the known, imputed and identified father of Randy. The CA also affirmed the trial
court’s findings on the credibility of the witnesses and its appreciation of facts, as there was nothing to
suggest that the RTC erred in such respects. It highlighted Antonio’s vacillation in his testimony
regarding the number of times he had sex with Mirasol and concluded that the same is a clear badge of
his lack of candor - a good reason to disregard his denials. Thus:
WHEREFORE, the appeal is DISMISSED and the appealed Decision is AFFIRMED.
SO ORDERED.54
Antonio filed a Motion for Reconsideration55 which was denied by the CA in its Resolution56 of May 5,
2006.
Hence, this Petition for Review on Certiorari.
Issue
The pivotal issue to be resolved in this case is whether the lower courts correctly ordered Antonio to
support Randy.
Our Ruling
There is merit in the petition.
A re-examination of the factual findings
of the RTC and the CA is proper in this
case.
"Generally, factual findings of trial courts, when affirmed by the CA, are binding on this
Court."57 However, this rule admits of certain exceptions such as when the finding is grounded entirely
on speculations, surmises or conjectures or when the judgment of the CA is based on misapprehension
of facts.58 As this case falls under these exceptions, the Court is constrained to re-examine the factual
findings of the lower courts.
Since respondents’ complaint for support
is anchored on Randy’s alleged
illegitimate filiation to Antonio, the lower
courts should have first made a
determination of the same.
Respondents’ Complaint for support is based on Randy’s alleged illegitimate filiation to Antonio. Hence,
for Randy to be entitled for support, his filiation must be established with sufficient certainty. A review
of the Decision of the RTC would show that it is bereft of any discussion regarding Randy’s filiation.
Although the appellate court, for its part, cited the applicable provision on illegitimate filiation, it merely
declared the certified true copies of Randy’s birth certificate and baptismal certificate both identifying
Antonio as the father as good proofs of his filiation with Randy and nothing more. This is despite the fact
that the said documents do not bear Antonio’s signature. "Time and again, this Court has ruled that a
high standard of proof is required to establish paternity and filiation. An order for x x x support may
create an unwholesome situation or may be an irritant to the family or the lives of the parties so that it
must be issued only if paternity or filiation is established by clear and convincing evidence."59
Respondents failed to establish Randy’s
illegitimate filiation to Antonio.
The rules for establishing filiation are found in Articles 172 and 175 of the Family Code which provide as
follows:
Article 172. The filiation of legitimate children is established by any of the following:
(1) The record of birth appearing in the civil register or a final judgment; or
(2) An admission of legitimate filiation in a public document or a private handwritten instrument
and signed by the parent concerned.
In the absence of the foregoing evidence, the legitimate filiation shall be proved by:
(1) The open and continuous possession of the status of a legitimate child; or
(2) Any other means allowed by the Rules of Court and special laws.
xxxx
Article 175. Illegitimate children may establish their illegitimate filiation in the same way and on the
same evidence as legitimate children.
xxxx
Respondents presented the Certificate of Live Birth of Randy identifying Antonio as the father. However,
said certificate has no probative value to establish Randy’s filiation to Antonio since the latter had not
signed the same.60 It is settled that "a certificate of live birth purportedly identifying the putative father
is not competent evidence of paternity when there is no showing that the putative father had a hand in
the preparation of said certificate."61 We also cannot lend credence to Mirasol’s claim that Antonio
supplied certain information through Erlinda. Aside from Antonio’s denial in having any participation in
the preparation of the document as well as the absence of his signature thereon, respondents did not
present Erlinda to confirm that Antonio indeed supplied certain entries in Randy’s birth certificate.
Besides, the several unexplained discrepancies in Antonio’s personal circumstances as reflected in the
subject birth certificate are manifestations of Antonio’s non-participation in its preparation. Most
important, it was Mirasol who signed as informant thereon which she confirmed on the witness stand.
Neither does the testimony of Randy establish his illegitimate filiation. That during their first encounter
in 1994 Randy called Antonio "Papa" and kissed his hand while Antonio hugged him and promised to
support him; or that his Aunt Lelita treated him as a relative and was good to him during his one-week
stay in her place, cannot be considered as indications of Randy’s open and continuous possession of the
status of an illegitimate child under the second paragraph of Article 172(1). "[T]o prove open and
continuous possession of the status of an illegitimate child, there must be evidence of the manifestation
of the permanent intention of the supposed father to consider the child as his, by continuous and clear
manifestations of parental affection and care, which cannot be attributed to pure charity.1âwphi1 Such
acts must be of such a nature that they reveal not only the conviction of paternity, but also the apparent
desire to have and treat the child as such in all relations in society and in life, not accidentally, but
continuously."62 Here, the single instance that Antonio allegedly hugged Randy and promised to support
him cannot be considered as proof of continuous possession of the status of a child. To emphasize,
"[t]he father’s conduct towards his son must be spontaneous and uninterrupted for this ground to
exist."63 Here, except for that singular occasion in which they met, there are no other acts of Antonio
treating Randy as his son.64Neither can Antonio’s paternity be deduced from how his sister Lelita treated
Randy. To this Court, Lelita’s actuations could have been done due to charity or some other reasons.
Anent Randy’s baptismal certificate, we cannot agree with the CA that the same is a good proof of
Antonio’s paternity of Randy. Just like in a birth certificate, the lack of participation of the supposed
father in the preparation of a baptismal certificate renders this document incompetent to prove
paternity.65 And "while a baptismal certificate may be considered a public document, it can only serve as
evidence of the administration of the sacrament on the date specified but not the veracity of the entries
with respect to the child’s paternity. Thus, x x x baptismal certificates are per se inadmissible in evidence
as proof of filiation and they cannot be admitted indirectly as circumstantial evidence to prove the
same."66
This Court cannot likewise agree with the RTC’s conclusion that Antonio fathered Randy merely on the
basis of his admission that he had sexual encounters with Mirasol. Neither does it agree with the CA that
the inconsistencies in Antonio’s testimony with regard to the number of times he had sexual intercourse
with Mirasol are good reasons to disregard his denials and uphold the respondents’ claims. It is well to
stress that as plaintiff, Mirasol has the burden of proving her affirmative allegation that Antonio is the
father of her son Randy.67 She must rely on the strength of her evidence and not on the weakness of the
defense.68 As Randy was born on November 11, 1983, it was incumbent upon Mirasol to prove that she
had sexual intercourse with Antonio prior to the usual period of pregnancy or nine months before the
birth of Randy. This crucial period therefore is during the early part of the first quarter of 1983.
However, nothing from Mirasol’s testimony indicates that she had sexual intercourse with Antonio
during that time.
She merely testified that she last met with Antonio in 1983 but could not remember the particular
month.69 Plainly, this hardly means anything not only because it was not established that the said
meeting took place during that crucial period but also because Mirasol never mentioned that they had
sexual contact during their meeting.
Antonio’s admission of sexual intercourse with Mirasol does not likewise by any means strengthen
respondents’ theory that he fathered Randy. When Antonio testified as an adverse witness for the
respondents, he stated that he had sexual intercourse with Mirasol in February and August of 1981.
Later testifying as witness for his own behalf, he mentioned that he had a one night affair with Mirasol
which happened in the month of September or October of 1981. Assuming that he indeed had sexual
contact with Mirasol on the dates mentioned, still, none of these sexual congresses could have led to
the conception of Randy who was born two years later in 1983.
All told, it is clear that respondents failed to establish Randy’s illegitimate filiation to Antonio. Hence, the
order for Antonio to support Randy has no basis.
WHEREFORE, the Petition for Review on Certiorari is GRANTED. The assailed Decision dated March 31,
2005 and Resolution dated May 5, 2006 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 79312 are REVERSED
and SER ASIDE and the Decision dated February 26, 2003 of the Regional Trial Court of Antipolo City,
Branch 71, in Civil Case No. 96-3952 is VACATED. A new one is entered DISMISSING the Complaint for
Support filed by Mirasol Baring and Randy Perla against Antonio Perla.
SO ORDERED.

FIRST DIVISION
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, G.R. No. 177295
Plaintiff-Appellee,
Present:

PUNO, C.J., Chairperson,


CARPIO MORALES,
- versus - LEONARDO-DE CASTRO,
BERSAMIN, and
VILLARAMA, JR., JJ.

Promulgated:
MARLON BARSAGA ABELLA,
Accused-Appellant. January 6, 2010
x-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x

DECISION

LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, J.:

Under automatic review is the Decision[1] dated September 21, 2006 of the Court of Appeals (CA)
in CA-G.R. CR-HC No. 02085 which affirmed with modification the Judgment[2] promulgated on June 3,
2003 by Branch 25 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Naga City convicting accused-appellant Marlon
Barsaga Abella of the crime of rape, defined and penalized under Articles 266-A and 266-B of the Revised
Penal Code, as amended, sentencing him to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua, ordering him to pay
civil indemnity and damages, and further ordering him to acknowledge and support his offspring with the
private offended party.

In a Minute Resolution[3] dated June 27, 2007, we required the parties to file their respective
supplemental briefs. The parties, however, manifested that they have exhausted their arguments before
the CA and, thus, will no longer file any supplemental brief.[4]

The antecedent facts are culled from the records of this case. Consistent with our ruling in People
v. Cabalquinto[5] and People v. Guillermo,[6] this Court withholds the real name of the private offended
party and her immediate family members as well as such other personal circumstance or information
tending to establish her identity. The initials AAA represent the private complainant and the initials BBB
refer to the mother of the private complainant.

The accusatory portion of the information reads:

That sometime on December 1999, in the afternoon, at Barangay San Vicente,


Municipality of Pamplona, Province of Camarines Sur, Philippines and within the
jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, while armed with
Balisong and under the influence of liquor, by means of force and intimidation and with
lewd design, did then and there willfully and feloniously enter the house of herein
complainant and then and there have sexual intercourse with AAA, a woman of feeble
mind, against her will to her damage and prejudice.

Acts contrary to law.

Accused-appellant Abella pleaded not guilty upon arraignment.[7] The pre-trial conference followed and,
thereafter, trial ensued.

The prosecution presented five (5) witnesses, namely, AAA,[8] BBB,[9] Dr. Emelito Alegre,[10] Dr. Imelda
Escuadra[11] and Corazon Alipante,[12] and documentary exhibits consisting of the Ultrasound Report[13] of
AAA dated September 14, 2000 issued by Dr. Alegre, the Medical Certificate[14] of AAA dated July 14, 2000
and Clinical Record[15] of AAA dated June 13, 2000 issued by Dr. Alcantara, the Psychiatric Evaluation[16] of
AAA dated September 25, 2001 of Dr. Escuadra, and the Certificate of Live Birth[17] of the daughter of AAA
issued by the Office of the Civil Registrar of the City of Naga.

The defense, on the other hand, presented the testimonies of the accused-appellant[18] and his father,
Danilo Abella,[19] and documentary exhibits consisting of two (2) Barangay Blotters[20] dated March 15 and
September 16, 2000 issued by the Barangay Captain of San Vicente, Municipality of Pamplona, Province
of Camarines Sur.

After trial, the RTC convicted the accused-appellant. The trial court found the 38-year old AAA as a credible
witness and her testimony candid and truthful despite her moderate mental retardation or intellectual
quotient of a 7 to 8-year old child. In contrast, the trial court found that the defenses of denial and alibi
of the accused-appellant were flimsy and farfetched. It further ruled that the child conceived and
delivered by AAA was fathered by the accused-appellant. The dispositive portion of the judgment reads:

WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing, judgment is hereby rendered finding accused
MARLON ABELLA y BARSAGA guilty beyond reasonable doubt for the crime of Rape, and
hereby sentences him to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua. Accused is likewise
directed to recognize [xxx] as his illegitimate daughter, and provide for her support as
soon as his financial means permit. Furthermore, he is hereby ordered to pay complainant
the sum of P75,000.00 as indemnity, P50,000.00 as moral damages and P50,000.00 as
exemplary damages. With costs de officio.

Considering that the accused has been undergoing detention during the pendency of the
trial of this case, the same is hereby credited in the service of his sentence.

The decision of the RTC was directly elevated to this Court. The accused-appellant filed
his Brief[21] on August 23, 2005 while the plaintiff-appellee filed its Brief[22] on December 19, 2005. In
a Minute Resolution[23] dated February 15, 2006, we transferred this case to the CA for appropriate action
conformably with our ruling in People v. Mateo.[24]

The CA summarized the evidence of the parties as follows:


Dr. Emelito Alegre, a radiologist and sonologist, testified that he had conducted
an ultrasound examination on AAA on 10 July 2000. Through the conduct of the necessary
measurements and ultrasound examination, he confirmed AAAs pregnancy. At the time
of the examination, AAA was already 30.7 weeks pregnant. The testimony of the
Municipal health Officer, Dr. Marietta Alcantara, in turn, was dispensed with on account
of the admission of the defense of the existence and genuineness of the medical
certificate that she had executed in relation to the instant case.

Dr. Imelda Escuadra of the Women and Children Protection Unit of Bicol Medical
Center, Naga City, and a specialist in the field of psychiatry testified that AAA was referred
to her clinic for examination and evaluation by the Department of Social Work and
Development (DSWD). During the first examination, she noticed that AAA was pregnant,
was coughing, but responsive, coherent and relevant with no auditory nor visual
hallucinations or delusions shown. AAA, as she had observed, was not psychotic at the
time of the examination.

Dr. Escuadra added that AAA had recurrent thoughts of the rape incident and the
threats to kill her if she would divulge the matter. It was also observed that AAA was not
oriented as regards to persons and dates and that she showed poor grasp of general
information. During the last examination on 24 July 2000, AAA looked depressed and
claimed that her baby was moving.

Dr. Escuadra further testified that AAAs mental ability particularly on the
arithmetic aspect was poor, as she could not even count from 1-100. She concluded that
although AAAs chronological age was 38 years old, she manifested a mental age of
between 7-8 years old. AAAs intelligence quotient was only 51, which is classified as
moderate mental retardation. Aside from her mental disadvantage, AAA also suffers from
dwarfism being only three (3) feet and eight (8) inches tall.

Corazon Alipante, a psychologist of the Bicol Medical Center who conducted the
psychological testing on AAA, confirmed that the latters mental capacity is functioning
within the moderate mental retardation level with an average intelligent quotient of 51
and that her perception of reality is impaired.

AAA testified that she knew the appellant personally since he was a child because
they lived in the same neighborhood. She narrated that sometime at around 1:00
oclock in the afternoon while she was alone at home the appellant entered their house
and started molesting her. Appellant pulled down her shorts with his left hand while
covering her mouth with his right hand. Appellant then placed himself on top of her and
inserted his penis into her vagina. At that time, she did not shout as the appellant was
holding a knife. AAA recalled that when appellant inserted his penis into her vagina, she
had felt pain. Afraid for her life, she did not tell her parents about the rape incident.
Continuing with her narration, AAA stated that several months after the incident,
her stomach became big. Thinking that she was just ill, she drank some bitter solution
upon her mothers instruction. As her stomach continued to grow, AAA was forced to tell
her mother about the rape incident. Thereafter, AAA consulted a doctor who confirmed
that she was pregnant. Consequently she gave birth to a baby girl.

BBB, AAAs mother, on the other hand, testified that the appellant is the cousin of
her husband. She claimed that she noticed her daughter becoming pale and thinner.She
also noticed that AAAs stomach was getting bigger and thus decided to bring her to a
doctor, who in turn informed her that her daughter might be pregnant. An ultrasound
examination confirmed that AAA was indeed pregnant. BBB then asked her daughter who
was responsible for her pregnancy, AAA replied that it was the appellant.

BBB further claimed that prior to the confirmation of the pregnancy, the
appellant had given her some mahogany seeds which he said AAA should take so that she
will have her menstruation. But since the mahogany seeds made AAA weaker, BBB
discontinued it and decided to consult a doctor instead. Upon learning that it was the
appellant who had raped her daughter, BBB immediately reported the matter to the
Municipal Hall of Pamplona. Thereafter, the appellant was arrested.

BBB also testified that appellants parents had tried to settle the case by offering
the sum of Twenty Thousand Pesos (P20,000.00). They however declined said offer, as it
was not even commensurate to the expenses they have already spent for their daughter
and her child. AAA gave birth to a baby girl on 16 August [2000] but the appellant and his
family had never given them any financial support.

Aside from the testimony of the [accused]-appellant, the defense also


called Danilo Abella, appellants father, to the stand. Both testimonies were principally
anchored on denial, and attributed that the filing of this case against the accused was ill
motivated and was due to the bad blood and personal animosities between their family
and that of the complainant. Appellant contends that a certain Mang Ben, a construction
worker of the China Geo, was the one responsible in impregnating the complainant.

After its review of the evidence, the CA agreed with the findings of the RTC and affirmed the
conviction of the accused-appellant. However, as prayed for by the plaintiff-appellee, the appellate court
deleted the award of exemplary damages in favor of AAA for lack of basis, thus:

WHEREFORE, the foregoing considered, the assailed Decision is AFFIRMED with


the MODIFICATION that the award for exemplary damages is DELETED. No costs.

The accused-appellant did not move for the reconsideration of the appellate courts judgment. He instead
elevated for review his conviction before us.
Accused-appellant reiterates the issues and arguments he has raised before the courts below as
follows:

I
The trial court gravely erred in failing to consider the motive behind the filing of
the instant case against the accused-appellant.

II
The court a quo gravely erred in convicting the accused-appellant of the crime
charged although his actual participation in the alleged act was not proven with certainty.

Accused-appellant asserts that he should be acquitted of the crime charged. AAA allegedly
testified unsurely as to the identity of her assailant and that she testified incoherently as to the details
surrounding the rape incident. Accused-appellant points out that AAA mentioned that she was raped by
a certain Mang Ben. AAA then testified that the accused-appellant was holding a knife while her pants
were being pulled by him with his left hand and her mouth being covered with his right hand. She also
allegedly said that the accused-appellant opened his knife when he was about to molest her but he left
after opening the knife.

Accused-appellant insists that AAA was coached to testify against him in furtherance of the
hostility between their families. He claims that AAAs mental disability made her so subservient to her
parents that she would believe everything that they tell her. He further argues that the alleged P20,000.00
offer of accused-appellants family to settle this criminal case happened before this case was actually filed
which proves that the said offer was either concocted by AAAs family or they were extorting money.

The plaintiff-appellee maintains that the prosecution has proven the guilt of the accused-
appellant of the crime charged. AAA allegedly testified clearly and convincingly that she was raped by
accused-appellant. The plaintiff-appellee points out that AAA clarified on the witness stand that it was
accused-appellant, and not Mang Ben, who raped her; that she did not say that the accused-appellant
simultaneously pointed a knife at her, covered her mouth, and pulled down her pants she rather testified
that, after her mouth was covered and pants pulled down, the accused-appellant forced her to lay down
and then drew a knife; and that AAA said that the accused-appellant left after raping her. Assuming there
were inconsistencies in AAAs testimony, the same pertain to insignificant details which rather support,
not destroy, her credibility.

The plaintiff-appellee claims that the contention that the crime charged against the accused-
appellant was prompted by revenge or ill-motive on the part of AAAs family was baseless and that the
mental disability of AAA did not affect her credibility and veracity of her testimony. The psychiatric
evaluation of AAA allegedly proves that she was generally coherent and relevant and that her extensive
examination on the witness stand shows that she could distinguish good from bad and truth from lies.

We affirm the conviction of the accused-appellant.

Article 266-A of the Revised Penal Code provides that the crime of rape is committed by a man having
carnal knowledge of a woman under any of the following circumstances: (1) through force, threat or
intimidation; (2) when the offended party is deprived of reason or otherwise unconscious; (3) by means
of fraudulent machination or grave abuse of authority; and (4) when the offended party is under 12 years
of age or is demented, even though none of the circumstances mentioned above be present. In People v.
Andaya,[25] it was held that sexual intercourse with a woman who is a mental retardate with the mental
age of a child below 12 years old constitutes statutory rape with or without the attendance of force,
threat, or intimidation.

In the case before us, the prosecution has established beyond reasonable doubt that the accused-
appellant had carnal knowledge of AAA, a demented person, through force, threat or intimidation. AAA
was psychiatrically evaluated as an adult woman with the mental age of a 7 to 8-year old child and that
she gave birth to a child despite her mental inability to give her consent to a sexual relationship. These
facts support the allegation of sexual abuse. AAA also identified without uncertainty the accused-
appellant as her attacker and related distinctly that he forcibly laid her down, held her at knifepoint, and
sexually abused her. She testified on direct examination as follows:

PROS. TADEO:

xxx xxx xxx

Q: Do you know the accused in this case?


A: Yes sir.

Q: What is his name?


A: Marlon Abella.

Q: Is he in court, please identify him?


A: Yes sir.

Q: Please point to him.


A: (Witness pointed to the accused Marlon Abella)

Q: Since when have you known Marlon?


A: Since he was a child.

Q: Why do you know him?


A: He is my neighbor.
Q: Do you have any relationship with Marlon?
A: None sir.

Q: How about with the family of Marlon, if you know, by consanguinity?


A: None sir.

Q: In the information, it appears that you are the offended party, why are you accusing
Marlon for rape?
A: He raped me.

Q: Do you remember when was that?


A: No sir.

Q: What time was that?


A: 1:00 oclock in the afternoon.

xxx xxx xxx

Q: Where were you raped?


A: In our house.

Q: Do you mean to say that the accused in this case entered your house?
A: Yes sir.

Q: After he entered your house, what happened next?


A: He raped me.

Q: When you said he raped you, how did he start molesting you?
A: He pulled down my shorts.

Q: What hands did he use in pulling down your shorts?


A: One hand.

Q: What hand, his right or left?


A: Left hand.

Q: While his left hand was pulling down your short pants, what was his right hand doing?
A: He covered my mouth.

Q: After your short pants was pulled down, what happened next?
A: He laid on top of me.

Q: What happened next? Do you have panty at that time?


A: Yes sir.

Q: What happened to your panty?


A: He pulled down my panty.

Q: You said a while ago that he placed himself on top of you, what happened next?
A: He laid on top of me.

Q: Why, what was your position?


A: I was lying down.

Q; When you lied down, was it on your own volition?


A: No sir.

Q: Who asked you to lie down or did the accused forced you to lie down?
A: He forced me to lie down.

Q: How?
A: He grabbed me by my shoulder.

Q: After you were forced to lie down, what did the accused do next?
A: He inserted his organ.

Q: Before he inserted his organ, was he wearing something on his body?


A: Only a T-shirt, without pants.

COURT:

Q: Where was his shorts?


A: He removed his shorts.

PROS. TADEO:

xxx xxx xxx

Q: While removing his shorts, what did you do?


A: He also undressed me.
Q: How about you, what did you do?
A: I did not shout.

COURT:

Q: Why?
A: I was afraid.

Q: Why were you afraid?


A: He had a sharp weapon.

PROS. TADEO:

Q: What kind of sharp weapon was that?


A: A knife.
Q: Where did you see that knife, in what part of his body?
A: On his waist.

Q: While he was about to molest you, did he remove that knife from his waist?
A: Yes sir.

Q: Where did he place it?


A: He was holding it.

Q: What did he do with it?


A: He told me that if I tell the matter he will kill me.

Q: Did he tell you those words?


A: Yes sir.

xxx xxx xxx

COURT:

Q: What do you mean when you said he did something to you? Did he insert his penis to
your vagina?
A: Yes sir.

Q: What did you do when he inserted his penis to your vagina?


A: None because I was afraid.

xxx xxx xxx

Q: What did you feel when he inserted his organ to your vagina?
A: Painful.

Q: Did you not like it?


A: I did not.

We find no real conflict in the testimony of AAA as to the identity of her assailant. A close scrutiny
of the testimony of AAA that a certain Mang Benraped her shows her evident confusion to the suggestive
questions and insinuations of the defense counsel and to the hypothetical questions of the trial court,
thus:

ATTY. MANLAGNIT:

Q: When you first know Marlon you said he was still a child at that time, you have of age,
am I correct?
A: Yes sir.
Q: You said you know Marlon because he lives nearby or he is one of your neighbors, is
that correct?
A: Yes sir.

Q: And as a matter of fact, there are other neighbors staying near your house?
A: Yes sir.

Q: How many neighbors aside from Marlon?


A: Many.

Q: Would you say 10?


A: More than.

Q: 12?
A: Yes sir.

Q: You also know your neighbors?


A: Yes sir.

Q: Could you name a few for us?


A: Mang Ben.

Q: Who else?
A: Julia.

Q: Who else?
A: My sister.

Q: And your sister has already a husband?


A: Yes sir.

Q: And your sister and her husband are living near your house?
A: Yes sir.

xxx xxx xxx

COURT:

Q: Do you know to distinguish truth from lies?


A: I am not telling a lie.

Q: You are not telling a lie because what you are telling us is the truth?
A: Yes sir.
Q: Therefore, you can tell the court and distinguish truth from a lie?
A: Yes sir.

Q: And you know what is good from what is bad?


A: Yes sir.

Q: You testified on cross that you obeyed what your parents told you that you were
reminded that you were raped by Marlon, is that right?
A: Yes sir.

Q: Was that reminder made to you by your parents correct or wrong?


A: Correct.

Q: Why do you say that the reminder by your parents was correct?
A: Because they told me.

Q: Supposed your parents told that it was Mang Ben who raped you, will you obey your
parents?
A: Yes sir.

Q: So you will testify before this court that Mang Ben raped you because that was what
your parents told you?
A: Yes sir.

Q: Did Mang Ben actually rape you?


A: Yes sir.

Q: How many times did Mang Ben rape you?


A: Only one.

Q: Did you not tell that to your parents that Mang Ben raped you?
A: Yes sir.

Q: Aside from Mang Ben, will you tell the court if the penis of Mang Ben was inserted into
your vagina?
A: Yes sir.

Q: How many times did that happen to you that the penis of Mang Ben was inserted into
your vagina?
A: Only one.

Q: Which came first, when Mang Ben raped you or when Marlon raped you?
A: Marlon.
Q: Do you know of any person who raped you other than Mang Ben and Marlon?
A: None.

AAAs puzzling answers are understandable considering her undisputed low mental ability to comprehend
the true import of the questions. Nonetheless, on further clarificatory questions of the trial court, AAA
rectified her answers and testified consistently that she was raped by the accused-appellant, and not by
a certain Mang Ben, thus:

COURT:

xxx xxx xxx

Q: Do you know the government prosecutor?


A: Yes sir.

Q: Suppose your mother tells you that you were raped by the government prosecutor,
will you tell that to the court?
A: No sir.

Q: Supposed you were told by your parents that you were not raped by Marlon, will you
testify before this court that you were raped by Marlon?
A: I will not obey.

xxx xxx xxx

Q: On direct examination you said it was only the accused who raped you. However,
during the clarificatory question by the court you also said that you were also
raped by Mang Ben. Tell the court, which is now correct, was it only Marlon who
raped you or it was also Mang Ben who raped you?
A: Only Marlon.

Q: When you said only Marlon, are you telling the court that Mang Ben did not rape you?
A: He did not.

Q: Are you very sure of your answer?


A: Yes, it was Marlon.

Q: Did you not testify on clarificatory question from the court that you were also raped
by Mang Ben?
A: No, only Marlon.

Q: So your answer which you gave to the court a while ago when you were asked whether
you were also raped by Mang Ben was not true?
A: It is not true.
Q: Let us assume that your parents tell you that Mang Ben raped you, will you testify that
in court?

xxx xxx xxx

A: No sir.

Q: So if your parents will tell you something which is not true, will you tell the court that
you will not obey your parents?
A: I will not obey them.

Moreover, we accord great weight and respect to the conclusion of the trial court that AAA is
candid, sincere, straightforward and simple in her testimony as well as to the ruling of the appellate court
that the alleged flaws in her statements do not affect her credibility and veracity of her testimony that
the accused-appellant raped her, and that the defenses of denial and alibi of the accused-appellant cannot
prevail over the positive testimony of AAA.

By well-entrenched jurisprudence, the issue of credibility of witnesses is a question best addressed to the
province of the trial court because of its unique position of having observed that elusive and
incommunicable evidence of the witnesses' deportment on the stand while testifying which opportunity
is denied to the appellate courts and [a]bsent any substantial reason which would justify the reversal of
the trial court's assessments and conclusions, the reviewing court is generally bound by the former's
findings, particularly when no significant facts and circumstances are shown to have been overlooked or
disregarded which when considered would have affected the outcome of the case.[26] In People v.
Santos,[27] this policy has been emphasized as follows:
We stress the well-settled doctrine that the lower court's assessment of the credibility of
a witness is accorded great respect owing to its direct opportunity to observe the latter's
demeanor during trial. In People v. Ayuda, we held:

It is doctrinally settled that the factual findings of the trial court,


especially on the credibility of the rape victim, are accorded great
weight and respect and will not be disturbed on appeal. This is so
because the trial court has the advantage of observing the victim through
the different indicators of truthfulness or falsehood, such as the angry
flush of an insisted assertion, the sudden pallor of a discovered lie, the
tremulous mutter of a reluctant answer, the forthright tone of a ready
reply, the furtive glance, the blush of conscious shame, the hesitation,
the yawn, the sigh, the candor or lack of it, the scant or full realization of
the solemnity of an oath, or the carriage and mien. ... [Emphasis ours]

The foregoing doctrine is more stringently applied if the trial court is sustained by the appellate court.
It has been stressed, moreover, that the bare denials and uncorroborated alibis of an accused
cannot overcome the positive identification of the accused and straightforward recounting of the
accuseds commission of a crime. In People v. Nieto,[28] this Court held:

It is an established jurisprudential rule that a mere denial, without any strong


evidence to support it, can scarcely overcome the positive declaration by the victim of the
identity and involvement of appellant in the crimes attributed to him. The defense
of alibi is likewise unavailing. Firstly, alibi is the weakest of all defenses, because it is easy
to concoct and difficult to disprove. Unless substantiated by clear and convincing proof,
such defense is negative, self-serving, and undeserving of any weight in
law.Secondly, alibi is unacceptable when there is a positive identification of the accused
by a credible witness. Lastly, in order that alibi might prosper, it is not enough to prove
that the accused has been somewhere else during the commission of the crime; it must
also be shown that it would have been impossible for him to be anywhere within the
vicinity of the crime scene.

In the present case, we do not perceive any cogent reason to justify the reversal of the trial and
appellate courts high regard of the truthfulness of AAAs testimony and we find the bare denials and
uncorroborated alibis of the accused-appellant devoid of any evidentiary value. We quote with approval
the pertinent disquisitions of the trial court on the testimonies of the witnesses as follows:

By the very nature of the crime of rape, the same precludes any eyewitness to
the incident, except the victim and the perpetrator. Hence, to prove the same will depend
largely from the testimony of the victim, and the acquittal of the accused will not lie on
the strength of his defense. Thus, the case for the prosecution will rise or fall on the basis
of the victims testimony, which the court will consider with utmost caution.

In the instant case, victim AAA was a mental retardate, which the court finds, not
only on the basis of the expert testimony of Dr. Escuadra but also on the basis of its
observations. It noted that even if the victim had a mental age of a 7 to 8 year-old child,
yet, she was candid, sincere, straightforward and simple in her testimony in court despite
the grueling cross-examination conducted by Atty. Manlangit. The aforesaid demeanor of
the complainant only showed that she was telling the truth. Complainant never wavered
in her testimony, that it was Marlon who raped her, the circumstances or details under
which she was raped; and in positively identifying Marlon in court. The court likewise
noted the limited mental ability and poor aptitude of the complainant when she was
extensively grilled and cross-examined, and even upon clarificatory questions from the
court, thus giving the impression to the court that she was just being obedient and was
coached by her parents in filing this instant case against Marlon.She likewise admitted
that a certain Mang Ben also raped her, but, later corrected herself. Such was
understandable. Even Atty. Manlangit noted that the victim was already tired and
exhausted while testifying in court. (TSN, p. 43, Sept. 24, 2002) Besides, there was no
testimony from the complainant that she was merely instructed by her parents to file the
rape case against Marlon even if the same were not true. The court considered the
inconsistencies in complainants testimony as minor inconsistencies which even
strengthen her testimony. Xxx xxx xxx

The Court notes that the appellate courts own evaluation of the evidence concurred with the findings and
conclusions of the trial court as follows:

We likewise find no merit in the insinuations made by the [accused]-appellant


that the instant complaint was motivated by the malevolent design of the complainants
family to put him down or the greedy scheme of the latter to extort money from his
family. At best, these insinuations, trivial and inane, are merely conclusory and
unfounded. It cannot tarnish AAAs account of how the [accused]-appellant had sexually
assaulted her.

As aptly observed by the court a quo, it is hard to fathom that a parent would use
her children as engines of malice, especially if the same would subject them to
humiliation, nay stigma. No mother would expose her child to possible public ridicule if
the only motive is to get back at the [accused]-appellant. Said the trial court:

Marlon and his father, Danilo, attributed ill-will, personal


animosities and bad blood between their family and that of the
complainant as the reasons behind why a fabricated case was filed
against Marlon. It is incomprehensible to the mind of the court that
because at one time or another Marlon chased complainants father with
a hoe, or the complainants brothers unlawfully entered the premises of
the accused, or that they peeped or pried upon Marlons privacy, causing
the latter to chase them with a bolo as the reasons why, out of revenge,
a rape case was concocted and filed against him. Such are flimsy excuses,
which do not deserve belief from any reasonable being. This Court could
not, in the exercise of sound judgment, accept the flimsy reasons
advanced by the accused that the victim, a mental retardate, was only
coached by her parents in implicating the accused as the person
responsible for the crime. A mother will never compromise the
reputation of her daughter in order to implicate a person with a crime he
did not commit. Besides, it was quite absurd and illogical that families in
feud would make their mental retardate a tool to give a scripted and
concocted testimony in court that she was raped just to send her familys
enemy to jail. It is unnatural for a parent to use his offspring as an engine
of malice especially if it will subject a daughter to embarrassment and
even stigma. No parent in their right mind would possibly stoop so low as
to subject their daughter to the hardship and shame concomitant to a
rape just to assuage their own hurt feelings. [Citations omitted]
The criminal information failed to allege the qualifying circumstance that the accused-appellant
knew of the mental disability of the private offended party, thus, his conviction of statutory or simple rape
committed with the use of a deadly weapon, instead of qualified rape, is in order.

We also accord high respect to the ruling of the trial court, as well as to the appellate courts
deference thereto, that the accused-appellant was the biological father of the two-year old daughter of
AAA as a result of the rape incident and in view of their striking facial similarities and features. The order
to acknowledge and support accused-appellants offspring is in accordance with Article 345 of the Revised
Penal Code.

This Court, however, modifies the award of civil indemnity and damages in favor of AAA. In line
with recent case laws, the compensation to be awarded in favor of the private offended party in cases of
statutory rape or simple rape committed with the use of a deadly weapon should be in the amounts
of P75,000.00 as civil indemnity and another P75,000.00 as moral damages.[29] Exemplary or corrective
damages are imposed by way of example or correction for the public good and when the crime was
committed with one or more aggravating circumstances.[30] According to current jurisprudence,
exemplary damages should be awarded in favor of the private offended party in the amount of P30,000.00
in statutory or simple rape cases.[31] In the present case, the award of P75,000.00 as civil indemnity and
another P75,000.00 as moral damages in favor of AAA is appropriate. The award of P30,000.00 as
exemplary damages should also be imposed as a public example in order to protect hapless individuals
from [sexual] molestation[32] and because of the presence of the aggravating circumstance of the
commission of the crime in the dwelling[33] of AAA.

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Decision dated September 21, 2006 of the CA in CA-G.R. CR-HC
No. 02085, which affirmed with modification the Judgment promulgated on June 3, 2003 by Branch 25 of
the RTC of Naga City, is hereby AFFIRMED with the MODIFICATION that accused-appellant is hereby
ordered to pay the private offended party civil indemnity in the amount of Seventy-Five Thousand Pesos
(P75,000.00), moral damages also in the amount of Seventy-Five Thousand Pesos (P75,000.00), and
exemplary damages in the amount of Thirty Thousand Pesos (P30,000.00), plus interest on all damages
awarded at the legal rate of 6% from this date until fully paid. No costs.

SO ORDERED.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

EN BANC

A.M. No. MTJ-92-716 October 25, 1995

MA. BLYTH B. ABADILLA, complainant,


vs.
JUDGE JOSE C. TABILIRAN, JR., Presiding Judge, 8th MCTC, Manukan and Jose Dalman, 9th Judicial
Region, Manukan, Zamboanga del Norte, respondent.

PER CURIAM:

We have a list of these crooked judges whose actuations have been found to be patently wrong and
indefensible. There ought to be no objection or compunction in weeding them out from the service. If
they are not booted out now, it will take from here to eternity to clean this Augean stable. 1

Indeed, our judicial structure is supposed to be manned by magistrates chosen for their probity,
integrity, impartiality, dedication and learning. And so, any judge wanting in any of these qualities
should be broomed off and out of the bench in order to improve the judicial landscape. Screening off
the misfits, considering the great number of judges and justices in the country at present, is the arduous
and Herculean task of this Court. The effort if dramatized with rectitude and sincerity should bring about
the strengthening of the people's abiding faith in democracy and the integrity of our courts of justice.

The herein administrative case arose from a complaint, dated September 8, 1992, filed by Ma. Blyth B.
Abadilla, a Clerk of Court assigned at the sala of respondent, Judge Jose C. Tabiliran, Jr., of the 8th
Municipal Circuit Trial Court, Manukan, Zamboanga del Norte. Respondent stands charged with "gross
immorality, deceitful conduct, and corruption unbecoming of a judge."

In her verified complaint, complainant Abadilla, in respect to the charge of gross immorality on the part
of the respondent, contends that respondent had scandalously and publicly cohabited with a certain
Priscilla Q. Baybayan during the existence of his legitimate marriage with Teresita Banzuela. Adding
ignominy to an ignominious situation, respondent allegedly shamefacedly contracted marriage with the
said Priscilla Baybayan on May 23, 1986. Complainant claims that this was a bigamous union because of
the fact that the respondent was then still very much married to Teresita Banzuela.

Furthermore, respondent falsely represented himself as "single" in the marriage contract (Exh. "A") and
dispensed with the requirements of a marriage contract by invoking cohabitation with Baybayan for five
years.
Of persuasive effect on the charge of immorality is the fact that, earlier, respondent's wife filed a
complaint in the case entitled, Teresita B. Tabiliran vs. Atty. Jose C. Tabiliran, Jr., 115 SCRA 451.
Respondent stood charged therein for abandoning the family home and living with a certain Leonora
Pillarion with whom he had a son.

In respect of the charge of deceitful conduct, complainant claims that respondent caused to be
registered as "legitimate", his three illegitimate children with Priscilla Baybayan, namely:

Buenasol B. Tabiliran born on July 14, 1970

Venus B. Tabiliran born on Sept. 7, 1971

Saturn B. Tabiliran born on Sept. 20, 1975

by falsely executing separate affidavits stating that the delayed registration was due to
inadvertence, excusable negligence or oversight, when in truth and in fact, respondent knew
that these children cannot be legally registered as legitimate.

The following acts are alleged to have constituted the charge of corruption:

(1) Utilizing his office time, while being a judge, in the private practice of law by the preparation and
notarization of documents, out of which he charged fees beyond the authorized rates allowed as Ex-
Officio Notary Public. These acts which, according to the charge, amount to the private practice of law,
prejudice public interest.

Complainant submitted the following documents in support of these allegations:

a) Affidavit of Ponciana Geromo (Annex "B"), attesting to the fact that respondent Judge
Tabiliran prepared a Simultaneous Deed of Sale, (Annex "C", Doc. No. 901, Page No. 77,
Book No. V, Series of 1991 of Ex-Officio Notary Public Jose C. Tabiliran, Jr.) and collect
P600.00 from the vendees (par. 10(a) a-1 Complaint, p. 9 records);

b) Receipt prepared under instruction of the respondent showing that he received


P250.00 thru MCTC Aide Ely O. Inot for preparation and notarization of Joint Affidavit
declaring the correct ages of Carlo Manzano, Lodmila Cinco, Kadapi Amad, Jul Samud
and Amman Eddai dated November 12, 1991, when the legal fees therefor should have
been P10.00 only (Annex "D") (par. 10(a) a-2 Complaint, p. 9 records);

c) Another receipt (Annex "E") prepared thru the direction of the respondent dated
November 12, 1991, showing that said respondent received from Reynaldo Subebe the
sum of P150.00 for preparation and notarization by him of a Joint Affidavit declaring the
correct age of Agata Luna, Rosie Miranda and Jose Juneser Adrias (par. 10(a) a-c
Complaint, p. 9 records);

d) Still another receipt (Annex "F") dated November 12, 1991, signed by the respondent
himself showing that he received from Nelly Baradas the sum of P50.00 for preparation
and notarization of Joint Affidavit attesting to the correct age of one Luzviminda Jacoba
(par. 10(a) a-d Complaint, p. 9 records);

e) Another receipt (Annex "G") dated November 12, 1991, issued by the respondent,
showing that he received from Torres P. Modai the sum of P50.00, thru the same Ely O.
Inot, MCTC Aide, for preparation of Joint Affidavit attesting to the correct age of Flores
Jalampangan (par. 10 (a) a-e Complaint, pp. 9 & 10 records).

(2) Accepting bribes from parties-litigants in his Court as supported by an affidavit (Annex "M") executed
by a certain Calixto Calunod, a court aide, stating that he saw Edna Siton, complainant in a criminal case
tried by respondent, hand over to the latter a bag of fish and squid which respondent Judge received.

(3) Preparing an Affidavit of Desistance in a case filed with his sala out of which he collected the amount
of P500.00 from the accused Antonio Oriola, as supported by the affidavits of Arcelita Salvador, the
complainant therein, and Benito Sagario, one of the persons present when the accused perpetrated the
acts aforesaid. (Submitted as Annexes "I" and "J", respectively.)

Complainant manifests that the commission by the respondent of the foregoing acts renders him unfit
to occupy the exalted position of a dispenser of justice. By the example shown by the respondent, the
public had allegedly lost confidence in the administration of justice, perceiving as is evident to see that
the person occupying the position of a judge lacks the morality and probity required of one occupying
such a high office.

Respondent, in his comment, dated December 25, 1992, declared that his cohabitation with Priscilla
Baybayan is not and was neither bigamous nor immoral because he started living with Priscilla Baybayan
only after his first wife had already left and abandoned the family home in 1966 and, since then, and
until the present her whereabouts is not known and respondent has had no news of her being alive. He
further avers that 25 years had already elapsed since the disappearance of his first wife when he
married Priscilla Baybayan in 1986.

Respondent cited Sec. 3(w), Rule 131 of the Rules of Court and Art. 390 of the Civil Code in order to
show the legality of his acts:

After the absence of seven years, it being unknown whether or not the absentee still
lives, he is considered dead for all purposes except for those of succession. (Rule 131,
Sec. 3(w), Rules of Court.)

After an absence of seven years, it being unknown whether or not the absentee still lives,
he shall be presumed dead for all purposes, except for those of succession. (Art. 390, Civil
Code.)

The case of Jones vs. Hortiguela, 64 Phil. 179, where this Court held that for the purpose of the civil
marriage law, it is not necessary to have the former spouse judicially declared an absentee is to
respondent's mind, a case in point.

He admits that he indicated in his marriage contract that he was then "single", but he denied the charge
that he acted with deceit or false misrepresentation, claiming that, since there were only three words to
choose from, namely: Single, Widow or Divorced, he preferred to choose the word "single", it being the
most appropriate. Besides, both he and Priscilla executed a joint affidavit wherein his former marriage
to Banzuela was honestly divulged.

On the charge of corruption, respondent submitted certifications (Annexes "4" & "5") from the Mayor of
Manukan, Zamboanga del Norte, attesting to the fact that there was no Notary Public in Manukan and,
as such, respondent may be allowed to notarize documents. He denied having charged exorbitant fees.
He claims that all the amounts received by him were used to subsidize office expenses, since the funds
he had been receiving from the municipal government were not enough to cover expenses in
maintaining his office. Respondent submitted a certification (Annex "6") from the Accounting
Department of the Municipal Government of Manukan to the effect that his yearly expenditures were
more than the yearly appropriations.

Respondent finds support in Canon 4, Rule 4.01 of the Code of Judicial Conduct which states:

A Judge may, with due regard to official duties, engage in activities to improve . . . the
administration of justice.

Respondent vehemently denies the charge of bribery claiming that it was inconceivable for him to
receive a bag full of fish and squid since his residence was 42 kilometers from Jose Dalman where his
courtroom or office was located. It takes one an hour and a half by bus to reach Katipunan and so, by
the time he reaches his house, the fish and the squid should have become rotten. In support of his
denials, respondent submitted as Annex "8", an affidavit of Ely D. Inot, their court Interpreter who
declared:

xxx xxx xxx

3. That last June 6, 1991, I was with the Municipal Judge, Jose C. Tabiliran, Jr., from the
morning until we went home in the afternoon and we in fact dined together in the local
Carenderia of Jose Dalman as it is the usual ways of the Judge to eat lunch together with
the court personnel;

4. That when we went home in the afternoon of that day we were also together riding in
a bus, the Lillian Express and until I drop in Roxas and he proceeded to Katipunan where
his residence is;

5. That all the time during that day I did not noticed him bringing anything except his
"Hand Bag" which he used to carry in going to the office; (Annex "8", Affidavit of Ely O.
Inot, December 17, 1992.)

xxx xxx xxx

Finally, respondent tags as a fabricated lie the charge that he prepared an Affidavit of Desistance in a
case pending in his sala and thereafter charged the accused, Antonio Oriola, the sum of P500.00 for legal
services. The complainant, he said, was the one who induced Arcelita Salvador (the complainant in the
rape case) to execute an affidavit (Annex "I") in support of the charge of corruption against respondent.
Complainant's filing of the present case was motivated by revenge and resentment because, earlier,
respondent filed an administrative case (A.M. No. P-91-597) against her for "Insubordination and
Serious Misconduct". The Supreme Court decided to reprimand her with a warning that a repetition of
her acts will be severely dealt with. Respondent claims that the complainant had nevertheless
repeatedly continued to do acts of insubordination in the following manner:

1) She continues to keep court records and has kept refusing to hand them over to
respondent inspite of verbal and written orders;

2) She refused to receive a memorandum from the Vice-Mayor requiring the Clerk of
Court to submit an Annual report;

3) She refused to prepare the said annual report required of her as Clerk of Court;

4) She continue to refuse to obey just and lawful orders of the Court.

On April 12, 1993, by resolution of this Court En Banc, the herein administrative case was referred to
Executive Judge Jesus O. Angeles of the Regional Trial Court, Dipolog City, for investigation, report and
recommendation. Judge Angeles found respondent guilty only on two (2) counts of corruption: (1) for
acting as notary public and collecting fees for his services; and (2) for preparing an affidavit of desistance
in a case pending in his Court and receiving payment for it.

In his report and recommendation dated August 3, 1993, Executive Judge Angeles found that:

ON GROSS IMMORALITY:

In contracting marriage with Priscilla Q. Baybayan on May 23, 1986, (p. 13 of the
records), respondent did not hide the fact that he was married to Teresita T. Banzuela,
having disclosed it in his affidavit jointly executed with Priscilla Q. Baybayan on May 23,
1986 (p. 115 of the records), particularly paragraph 4 thereof which reads:

4. That affiant Jose C. Tabiliran, Jr., was formerly married to Teresita T. Banzuela but
who left and abandoned their family home sometime in 1965 in Katipunan, Zamboanga
del Norte, and until now at present her whereabouts is not known.

It was therefore a marriage contracted under Article 83 (2) of the Civil Code which,
although bigamous, remains valid until automatically terminated by the recording of the
affidavit of reappearance of the absent spouse (Art. 42, Family Code). Respondent's
assertion that since 1965 to the present, his first wife Teresita T. Banzuela had left their
conjugal dwelling and did not return, her whereabouts being unknown, was not
controverted. Living as husband and wife pursuant to an authorized bigamous marriage,
respondent cannot be said to be acting in an immoral and scandalous manner, and the
immoral stigma of extra-marital union since 1969 duly declared in their aforesaid joint
affidavit, may be considered cleansed by their marriage in 1986, if Art. 1395 of the Civil
Code on ratification on contracts in general is allowed to be applied, it being ratification
of marital cohabitation. Article 76 of Civil Code, now Art. 34 of the Family Colde was
intended to facilitate and encourage the marriage of persons who have been living in a
state of concubinage for more than five years (Tolentino, Civil Code, Book I, 1974 Ed., p.
245, cited in Ernesto L. Pineda, Family Code, 1992 Ed., p. 38). Indicating his civil status in
the marriage contract as "single" is hardly considered a misrepresentation of fact,
specially to the solemnizing officer, Municipal Mayor Jacinto C. Ruedas, Jr. to whom the
aforesaid joint affidavit was submitted.

ON DECEITFUL CONDUCT:

Respondent's children begotten with Priscilla Q. Baybayan, namely: Buenasol B.


Tabiliran, Venus B. Tabiliran and Saturn B. Tabiliran, all of whom were born before their
marriage, were disclosed and made known to the solemnizing officer and the latter
himself, in his affidavit dated May 23, 1986 (p. 116 of the records) which supports the
marriage contract of respondent with Priscilla Q. Baybayan, having shown such fact.

Exhibit P which purports to be an affidavit of Lydia T. Zanoria dated May 27, 1993,
consisting of three pages, was submitted by the complainant for the purpose of proving
her charge that the respondent falsely executed his three separate affidavits, namely:
Exhibit K dated May 24, 1983 regarding the late registration of birth of his daughter
Buenasol B. Tabiliran; Exhibit M dated May 28, 1988 regarding the late registration of
birth of his third child Saturn B. Tabiliran; and his affidavit dated May 27, 1988, Exhibit
O, in reference to the late registration of birth of his second child Venus B. Tabiliran,
stating inadvertence, excusable negligence or oversight as the reasons for the delayed
registration of their births, without however presenting said affiant Mrs. Zanoria,
consequently denying respondent the opportunity to cross examine her. Her affidavit is
not among those brought out in the pre-hearing conference, and was not discussed
during the hearing itself, submitting it only after the investigation proper was
terminated. The supposed affiant claimed she was the government midwife who
attended to the births of respondent's three children, denying, as the affidavit shows,
negligence, inadvertence or oversight on her part to register their birth on time. Not
having been presented for respondent to confront her, or an opportunity to do so,
Exhibit P cannot be considered evidence of the charge. An affidavit is hearsay unless the
affiant is presented (People vs. Villeza, 127 SCRA 349), or admitted by the party against
whom it is presented.

ON CORRUPTION:

1. Acting as Notary Public during office hours, and collecting fees:

Respondent has admitted having prepared the documents and collected fees, in the
instances specified in par. 10 of the complaint, namely: (1) affidavit of Ponciana
Geromo; (2) Joint Affidavit of Carlo Manzano, Lodmila Cinco, Kadapi Amad, Jul Samud
and Amman Eddai; (3) Joint Affidavit of Agata Luna, Rosie Miranda and Jose Juneser
Adrias; (4) Joint Affidavit on the correct age of Luzviminda Jacoba; and (5) Joint Affidavit
on the correct age of Flores Jalampangan, but not necessarily on the accuracy of the
amounts therein stated as having been collected by him from them (please see Pre-
Hearing Order of May 20, 1993 of the Investigating Judge). Seeking justification of his
acts, respondent submitted Annexes 4 & 5 of his comments (pp. 118 and 119, records)
which are certifications of Manukan Mayor Eugene U. Caballero attesting that in the
absence of a Notary Public in Manukan town, respondent who is a Judge thereat was
allowed "to prepare and ligalize (sic) documents".

He declared "the fees derived from the preparation and notarization of documents were
mostly used by respondent to buy supplies and materials of his Office", explaining that
his office needs cannot be sustained by the appropriations of the local government
which are inadequate. On page 120 of the records, his Annex 6 shows a shortage in his
appropriations for supplies. And supplies from the Supreme Court can only be obtained
if secured personally but has to assume the expenses for transportation, freight and
handling.

Respondent Judge maintains that the Code of Judicial conduct does not prohibit him
from acting as Notary Public, and the fees he has received were much lower than the
rates prescribed by the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, Zamboanga del Norte Chapter,
submitting Annex 3, p. 117 of the records, to prove it.

Further justifying his act under Canon 4, Rule 4.01 of the Code of Judicial Conduct which
provides that a judge may, with due regard to official duties, engaged in activities to
improve the administration of justice, respondent claims that due to his efforts, he was
able to secure an extension room of his office covering a floor area of 24 square meters,
from the Sangguniang Pampook of Region IX based in Zamboanga City, costing
P19,000.00 per certification shown in his Annex 7 (page 121 of the records).

In the light of 1989 Code of Judicial Conduct vis-a-vis the power of Municipal Trial Court
Judges and Municipal Circuit Trial Court Judges to act in the capacity of Notary Public Ex-
Officio, the Honorable Supreme Court in A.M. No. 89-11-1303, MTC, Dec. 19, 1989, has
ruled:

MTC and MCTC Judges assigned to municipalities or circuits with no lawyers or notaries
public may, in their capacity as notary public ex-officio perform any act within the
competency of a regular Notary Public, provided that: (1) all notarial fees charged be for
the account of the Government and turned-over to the municipal treasurer (Lapeña, Jr.
vs. Marcos, Adm. Matter No. 1969-MJ, June 29, 1982, 114 SCRA 572); and (2)
certification be made in the notarized documents attesting to the lack of any lawyer or
notary public in such municipality or circuit.

Although absence of a notary public commissioned for, and residing in Manukan town,
even in Jose Dalman which is within his circuit is confirmed, respondent Judge while he
may be justified in so acting as notary public, did not, however, comply with
requirement No. 1 which obliged him to charge for the account of the Government and
turn-over to the municipal treasurer all notarial fees. And there is no way of determining
the truth of his assertion that the notarial fees he collected were "mostly used" to buy
supplies and materials for his office, absent any accounting.

2. Accepting Bribe from Parties-litigants:


Admitting the existence of Annex H found on page 21 in the records, respondent,
however, denied the imputation therein contained by affiant Calixto Calunod that he
received a sando bag full of fish and squid from a certain Edna Siton who had a case
with respondent's court as complainant in a certain criminal case. Instead of calling the
affiant himself, complainant presented the Court Interpreter Ely O. Inot, who
"confirmed that there was squid and fish contained in a plastic bag which was left in
Aseniero Carenderia by a person unknown to her and some members of the Court staff.
When informed by the carenderia owner that the stuff was intended for Judge Tabiliran,
the latter told them to cook it, and they afterwards partook of it without the Judge who
already boarded the passenger bus". (Record of Proceedings, p. 1, par. No. 1, dated June
11, 1993). Being her witness, complainant is bound by her testimony. This particular
charge is, therefore, not proved.

3. Preparing Affidavit of Desistance and Collecting Fee for his Services:

Under this count, two affidavits both sworn before 2nd Asst. Provincial Fiscal Valeriano
B. Lagula were submitted: one by Arcelita Salvador, complainant in an attempted rape
case who was categorical in her declaration that respondent Judge asked and received
from Pitoy Oriola, brother of accused Antonio Oriola the amount of P500.00 after the
Judge prepared the affidavit of desistance and motion to dismiss which he made her
sign (Annex I, p. 40 records). Benito Sagario who was present executed another separate
affidavit, Annex J found on page 41 in the records, confirming it. In admitting the
affidavit, respondent, however, denied the imputation, asserting that it is false, but
without confronting them or presenting witnesses to dispute their accusation. He could
have demanded that the affiants, including the persons they mentioned were present in
the transaction, namely: accused Antonio Oriola, his brother Pitoy Oriola, Ignacio
Salvador, and INC Minister Antonio Caluña be required to appear for his confrontation,
but respondent chose not, contented himself only with the explanation that it was just
the handiwork of complainant Abadilla and her husband, a major in the military who is
an active member of the Iglesia Ni Cristo of which affiant Arcelita Salvador also
belonged, which is bare and unsubstantiated. No other conclusion can be drawn other
than holding, as the Investigating Judge does, that this particular charge is true.
Evidently, Judge Tabiliran wants to avoid meeting them by way of confrontation. If he is
innocent, and is certain the charge is fabricated, he will surely raise hell to insist that he
confronts them face to face. Clearly, his deportment betrays his insistence of innocence.

On Respondent's Counterclaim:

It was not proven. On the contrary, the controverting evidence shows that the records
of Criminal Case No. 2279 referred to in his Annex 9, p. 123 of the records, were not in
the possession of complainant. Quite obviously, Ely O. Inot, respondent's Court
Interpreter tried to cover up the fact that the same were already being kept by Judge
Tabiliran before he issued the memorandum, Annex 9. Complainant, who is
respondent's Clerk of Court was not, therefore, in a position to comply with his Order.

Also, Mrs. Abadilla's failure to prepare the annual report of the Court in 1992 as called
for in Annexes 10 and 10-A was, contrary to respondent's claim, not by reason of her
obstinate refusal to obey her superior but, by sheer impossibility to comply, considering
that monthly reports upon which the annual report shall be based, were not prepared
by her, not because of her refusal to do so which is among those included in her job
description, but because the Judge himself took the work from her for no other reason
than to establish the false impression that the complainant is disobedient to the Judge,
and does not attend to her duties.

By and large, there is no harmony in their office. Complainant and respondent are not in
talking terms. They are hostile to each other. Respondent's complaint that Mrs. Abadilla
spat saliva in front of him whenever they meet each other; destroying the Court dry seal
by throwing it at him one time she was mad; showing face; and sticking out her tongue
to him, are all puerile acts which the undersigned cannot conclude as sufficiently
established even with the testimony of Mrs. Ely O. Inot which is far from being definite
and categorical, whose actuation is understandable because Judge Tabiliran, being her
superior, has moral ascendancy over her (Record of Proceedings, June 11, 1993).

The undersigned believes that the problem is on Judge Tabiliran, and not on Mrs.
Abadilla, who has been in the service as Clerk of Court under a previous Judge of the
same Court for quite long without any complaint having been filed. The evidence
disputing his counterclaim tends to show that respondent tried to build up a situation of
undesirability against his Clerk of Court whom he wanted pulled out from her position in
his Court.

Other Matters Not Covered By The Complaint And Comments:

The authority to investigate being confined only to matters alleged in the complaint on
the basis of which respondent filed his comments, other matters not therein covered
which complainant brought out by way of presenting documentary exhibits, (from
Exhibit AAA to HHH), are not subject of this report and recommendation.

RECOMMENDATION:

The charge of GROSS IMMORALITY and DECEITFUL CONDUCT have not been proven, but
the undersigned believes evidence is sufficient to sustain pronouncement of guilt on
two counts of CORRUPTION, namely: acting as notary public and collecting fees for his
services in preparing affidavit of desistance of a case in his Court. Likewise, acts of
oppression, deceit and false imputation against his Clerk of Court are found duly
established.

WHEREFORE, suspension of the respondent Judge from the service for a period of three
months is recommended.

THE FOREGOING CONSIDERED, We hold the respondent culpable for gross immorality, he having
scandalously and openly cohabited with the said Priscilla Baybayan during the existence of his marriage
with Teresita B. Tabiliran.

Contrary to his protestations that he started to cohabit with Priscilla Baybayan only after his first wife,
Teresita Tabiliran, had long abandoned him and the conjugal home in 1966, it appears from the record
that he had been scandalously and openly living with said Priscilla Baybayan as early as 1970 as shown
by the fact that he begot three children by her, namely Buenasol, Venus and Saturn, all surnamed
Tabiliran. Buenasol was born on July 14, 1970; Venus was born on September 7, 1971; while Saturn was
born on September 20, 1975. Evidently, therefore, respondent and Priscilla Baybayan had openly lived
together even while respondent's marriage to his first wife was still valid and subsisting. The provisions
of Sec. 3(w) of the Rules of Court and Art. 390 of the Civil Code which provide that, after an absence of
seven years, it being unknown whether or not the absentee still lives, the absent spouse shall be
considered dead for all purposes, except for those of succession, cannot be invoked by respondent. By
respondent's own allegation, Teresita B. Tabiliran left the conjugal home in 1966. From that time on up
to the time that respondent started to cohabit with Priscilla Baybayan in 1970, only four years had
elapsed. Respondent had no right to presume therefore that Teresita B. Tabiliran was already dead for
all purposes. Thus, respondent's actuation of cohabiting with Priscilla Baybayan in 1970 when his
marriage to Teresita B. Tabiliran was still valid and subsisting constitutes gross immoral conduct. It
makes mockery of the inviolability and sanctity of marriage as a basic social institution. According to
Justice Malcolm: "The basis of human society throughout the civilized world is that of marriage. It is not
only a civil contract, but is a new relation, an institution on the maintenance of which the public is
deeply interested. Consequently, every intendment of the law leans toward legalizing matrimony." (Civil
Code 1993 Ed., Volume 1, p. 122, Ramon C. Aquino).

By committing the immorality in question, respondent violated the trust reposed on his high office and
utterly failed to live up to the noble ideals and strict standards of morality required of the law
profession. (Imbing v. Tiongson, 229 SCRA 690).

As to respondent's act of eventually marrying Priscilla Baybayan in 1986, We are not in a position to
determine the legality thereof, absent all the facts for a proper determination. Sufficient for Our
consideration is the finding of the Investigating Judge, that the said marriage is authorized under Art. 83
(2) of the Civil Code.

With respect to the charge of deceitful conduct, We hold that the charge has likewise been duly
established. An examination of the birth certificates (Exhs. "J", "L", & "M") of respondent's three
illegitimate children with Priscilla Baybayan clearly indicate that these children are his legitimate issues.
It was respondent who caused the entry therein. It is important to note that these children, namely,
Buenasol, Venus and Saturn, all surnamed Tabiliran, were born in the year 1970, 1971, and 1975,
respectively, and prior to the marriage of respondent to Priscilla, which was in 1986. As a lawyer and a
judge, respondent ought to know that, despite his subsequent marriage to Priscilla, these three children
cannot be legitimated nor in any way be considered legitimate since at the time they were born, there
was an existing valid marriage between respondent and his first wife, Teresita B. Tabiliran. The
applicable legal provision in the case at bar is Article 269 of the Civil Code of the Philippines (R.A. 386 as
amended) which provides:

Art. 269. Only natural children can be legitimated. Children born outside of wedlock of
parents who, at the time of the conception of the former, were not disqualified by any
impediment to marry each other, are natural.

Legitimation is limited to natural children and cannot include those born of adulterous relations
(Ramirez vs. Gmur, 42 Phil. 855). The Family Code: (Executive Order, No. 209), which took effect on
August 3, 1988, reiterated the above-mentioned provision thus:
Art. 177. Only children conceived and born outside of wedlock of parents who, at the
time of the conception of the former, were not disqualified by any impediment to marry
each other may be legitimated.

The reasons for this limitation are given as follows:

1) The rationale of legitimation would be destroyed;

2) It would be unfair to the legitimate children in terms of successional rights;

3) There will be the problem of public scandal, unless social mores change;

4) It is too violent to grant the privilege of legitimation to adulterous children as it will


destroy the sanctity of marriage;

5) It will be very scandalous, especially if the parents marry many years after the birth of
the child. (The Family Code, p. 252, Alicia v. Sempio Diy).

It is clear, therefore, that no legal provision, whether old or new, can give refuge to the deceitful
actuations of the respondent.

It is also erroneous for respondent to state that his first wife Teresita disappeared in 1966 and has not
been heard from since then. It appears that on December 8, 1969, Teresita filed a complaint against
respondent entitled, Tabiliran vs. Tabiliran (G.R. No. 1155451) which was decided by this Court in 1982.
In the said case, respondent was sued for abandonment of his family home and for living with another
woman with whom he allegedly begot a child. Respondent was, however, exonerated because of the
failure of his wife to substantiate the charges. However, respondent was reprimanded for having
executed a "Deed of Settlement of Spouses To Live Separately from Bed", with a stipulation that they
allow each of the other spouse to live with another man or woman as the case may be, without the
objection and intervention of the other. It was also in the same case where respondent declared that he
has only two children, namely, Reynald Antonio and Jose III, both surnamed Tabiliran, who are his
legitimate issues. Thus, his statements in his affidavits marked as Exhs. "M-4" and "O-4" that Saturn and
Venus are his third and second children respectively, are erroneous, deceitful, misleading and
detrimental to his legitimate children.

With respect to the charge of corruption, We agree with the findings of the Investigating Judge that
respondent should be found culpable for two counts of corruption: (1) acting as Notary Public; and (2)
collecting legal fees in preparing an Affidavit of Desistance of a case in his court.

Respondent himself admitted that he prepared and notarized the documents (Annexes "C", "D", "E", "F"
and "G") wherein he charged notarial fees. Though he was legally allowed to notarize documents and
charge fees therefor due to the fact that there has been no Notary Public in the town of Manukan, this
defense is not sufficient to justify his otherwise corrupt and illegal acts.

Section 252 of the Notarial Law expressly provides thus:


Sec. 252. Compensation of Notaries Public — No fee, compensation, or reward of any
sort, except such as is expressly prescribed and allowed by law, shall be collected or
received for any service rendered by a notary public. Such money collected by notaries
public proper shall belong to them personally. Officers acting as notaries public ex-
officio shall charge for their services the fees prescribed by law and account therefor as
for Government funds. (Notarial Law, Revised Administrative Code of the Philippines, p.
202.)

Respondent's failure to properly account and turn over the fees collected by him as Ex-
Officio notary to the municipal government as required by law raises the presumption that he
had put such fund to his personal use.

With respect to the charge that respondent prepared an Affidavit of Desistance in a rape case filed
before his sala for which he collected the amount of P500.00 from the complainant therein, respondent
merely denied the said imputation but failed to offer any evidence to support such denial. Denial, if
unsubstantiated by clear and convincing evidence, is a negative and self-serving evidence which
deserves no weight in law and cannot be given greater evidentiary value over the testimony of credible
witnesses who testify on affirmative matters (People v. Amaguin, 229 SCRA 166). It is unfortunate that
respondent had failed to adhere to, and let this remind him once again of Canon 2 of the Code of
Judicial Conduct, to wit:

Canon 2

A judge should avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all activities.

WHEREFORE, the Court finds respondent Judge Jose C. Tabiliran, Jr. guilty of gross immorality, deceitful
conduct and corruption and, consequently, orders his dismissal from the service. Such dismissal shall
carry with it cancellation of eligibility, forfeiture of leave credits and retirement benefits, and
disqualification from re-employment in the government-service, all without prejudice to criminal or civil
liability.

SO ORDERED.