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G.R.No.138493.June15,2000.

TEOFISTABABIERA,petitioner,vs.PRESENTACIONB.
CATOTAL,respondent.
Actions; Filiation; Parties; Real Parties in Interest; A legitimate
child has the requisite standing to initiate an action to cancel the
birth certificate of one claiming to be a child of the formers
mother.
_______________
* THIRDDIVISION.

488

488

SUPREMECOURTREPORTSANNOTATED
Babiera vs. Catotal

Petitionercontendsthatrespondenthasnostandingtosue,because
Article171oftheFamilyCodestatesthatthechildsfiliationcanbe
impugnedonlybythefatheror,inspecialcircumstances,hisheirs.
Sheaddsthatthelegitimacyofachildisnotsubjecttoacollateral
attack. This argument is incorrect. Respondent has the requisite
standingtoinitiatethepresentaction.Section2,Rule3oftheRules
ofCourt,providesthatarealpartyininterestisonewhostandsto
be benefited or injured by the judgment in the suit, or the party
entitled to the avails of the suit. The interest of respondent in the
civilstatusofpetitionerstemsfromanactionforpartitionwhichthe
latter filed against the former. The case concerned the properties
inheritedbyrespondentfromherparents.
Same; Same; Family Code; Article 171 of the Family Code
applies to instances in which the father impugns the legitimacy of
his wifes child, i.e., to declare that such child is an illegitimate
child, but not to an action to establish that such child is not the
wifes child at all.Article171oftheFamilyCodeisnotapplicable
to the present case. A close reading of this provision shows that it
applies to instances in which the father impugns the legitimacy of
his wifes child. The provision, however, presupposes that the child
was the undisputed offspring of the mother. The present case
alleges and shows that Hermogena did not give birth to petitioner.
Inotherwords,theprayerhereinisnottodeclarethatpetitioneris
anillegitimatechildofHermogena,buttoestablishthattheformer
is not the latters child at all. Verily, the present action does not
impugn petitioners filiation to Spouses Eugenio and Hermogena
Babiera, because there is no blood relation to impugn in the first
place.
Same; Same; Birth Certificates; Prescription; An action to

cancel a persons Birth Certificate for being allegedly void ab initio


does not prescribe, and the prescriptive period set forth in Article
170 of the Family Code does not apply.Thisargumentisbereftof
merit. The present action involves the cancellation of petitioners
Birth Certificate; it does not impugn her legitimacy. Thus, the
prescriptive period set forth in Article 170 of the Family Code does
notapply.Verily,theactiontonullifytheBirthCertificatedoesnot
prescribe,becauseitwasallegedlyvoidab initio.
Same; Same; Same; While it is true that an official document
such as a Birth Certificate enjoys the presumption of regularity, the
specific facts that there were already irregularities regarding the
489

VOL.333,JUNE15,2000

489

Babiera vs. Catotal


Birth Certificate itself, such as it was not signed by the local civil
registrar, and that the alleged mothers signature therein was
different from her other signatures, as well as such other
circumstance showing that the latter is not the real mother,
sufficiently negate such presumption.While it is true that an
official document such as petitioners Birth Certificate enjoys the
presumptionofregularity,thespecificfactsattendantinthecaseat
bar, as well as the totality of the evidence presented during trial,
sufficiently negate such presumption. First, there were already
irregularitiesregardingtheBirthCertificateitself.Itwasnotsigned
by the local civil registrar. More important, the Court of Appeals
observedthatthemotherssignaturethereinwasdifferentfromher
signatures in other documents presented during the trial. Second,
the circumstances surrounding the birth of petitioner show that
Hermogena is not the formers real mother. For one, there is no
evidence of Hermogenas pregnancy, such as medical records and
doctorsprescriptions,otherthantheBirthCertificateitself.Infact,
nowitnesswaspresentedtoattesttothepregnancyofHermogena
during that time. Moreover, at the time of her supposed birth,
Hermogena was already 54 years old. Even if it were possible for
hertohavegivenbirthatsuchalateage,itwashighlysuspicious
that she did so in her own home, when her advanced age
necessitated proper medical care normally available only in a
hospital.

PETITIONforreviewoncertiorariofadecisionoftheCourt
ofAppeals.
ThefactsarestatedintheopinionoftheCourt.
Pablito C. Pielago, Sr.forpetitioner.
Dulcesimo Tampusforrespondent.
PANGANIBAN,J.:
Abirthcertificatemaybeorderedcancelleduponadequate
proof that it is fictitious. Thus, void is a certificate which
showsthatthemotherwasalreadyfiftyfouryearsoldatthe
timeofthechildsbirthandwhichwassignedneitherbythe
civil registrar nor by the supposed mother. Because her

inheritance rights are adversely affected, the legitimate


childof
490

490

SUPREMECOURTREPORTSANNOTATED
Babiera vs. Catotal

such mother is a proper party in the proceedings for the


cancellationofthesaidcertificate.
Statement of the Case
Submitted for this Courts
consideration is a Petition for
1
ReviewonCertiorari underRule45oftheRulesofCourt,
2
seeking reversal3 of the March 18, 1999 Decision of the
CourtofAppeals (CA)inCAGRCVNo.56031.Affirming
the Regional Trial Court of Lanao del Norte in Special
ProceedingsNo.3046,theCAruledasfollows:
IN VIEW HEREOF, the appealed decision is hereby AFFIRMED.
Accordingly, the instant appeal is DISMISSED for lack of merit.
Costsagainstthedefendantappellant,TEOFISTABABIERA,a.k.a.
4
TeofistaGuinto.

ThedispositiveportionoftheaffirmedRTCDecisionreads:
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing findings and
pronouncementsoftheCourt,judgmentisherebyrendered,towit:
1) Declaring the Certificate of Birth of respondent Teofista
Guintoasnullandvoidabinitio;
2) Ordering the respondent Local Civil Registrar of Iligan to
cancel from the registry of live birth of Iligan City BIRTH
CERTIFICATErecordedasRegistryNo.16035;
Furnish copies of this decision to the Local Civil Registrar of
IliganCity,theCityProsecutor,counselforprivaterespondentAtty.
TomasCabiliandtocounselforpetitioner.
SOORDERED.
_______________
1Rollo,pp.916.
2Rollo,pp.2229.
3FifteenthDivision.
4

CA Decision, p. 10; rollo, p. 29. The Decision was written by J.

Demetrio G. Demetria, with the concurrence of JJ. Ramon A.


Bercelona(Divisionchairman)andPresbiterioJ.Velasco,Jr.(member).
491

VOL.333,JUNE15,2000
Babiera vs. Catotal

The Facts

491

The undisputed facts are summarized by the Court of


Appealsinthiswise:
PresentationB.Catotal(hereafterreferredtoasPRESENTACION)
filed with the Regional Trial Court of Lanao del Norte, Branch II,
Iligan City, a petition for the cancellation of the entry of birth of
Teofista Babiera (herafter referred to as TEOFISTA) in the Civil
Registry of Iligan City. The case was docketed as Special
ProceedingsNo.3046.
From the petition filed, PRESENTACION asserted that she is
the only surviving child of the late spouses Eugenio Babiera and
HermogenaCariosa,whodiedonMay26,1996andJuly6,1990
respectively;thatonSeptember20,1996ababygirlwasdelivered
byhilotinthehouseofspousesEugenioandHermogenaBabiera
and without the knowledge of said spouses, Flora Guinto, the
mother of the child and a housemaid of spouses Eugenio and
Hermogena Babiera, caused the registration/recording of the facts
of birth of her child, by simulating that she was the child of the
spousesEugenio,then65yearsoldandHermogena,then54years
old,andmadeHermogenaBabieraappearasthemotherbyforging
hersignaturexxx;thatpetitioner,then15yearsold,sawwithher
own eyes and personally witnessed Flora Guinto give birth to
Teofista Guinto, in their house, assisted by hilot; that the birth
certificatexxxofTeofistaGuintoisvoidabinitio,asitwastotallya
simulated birth, signature of informant forged, and it contained
falseentries,towit:a)Thechildismadetoappearasthelegitimate
childofthelatespousesEugenioBabieraandHermogenaCariosa,
when she is not; b) The signature of Hermogena Cariosa, the
mother,isfalsified/forged.Shewasnottheinformant;c)Thefamily
nameBABIERAisfalseandunlawfulandhercorrectfamilyname
isGUINTO,hermotherbeingsingle;d)HerrealmotherwasFlora
Guintoandherstatus,anillegitimatechild;Thenaturalfather,the
carpenter, did not sign it; that the respondent Teofista Barbieras
birth certificate is void ab initio, and it is patently a simulation of
birth,sinceitisclinicallyandmedicallyimpossibleforthesupposed
parents to bear a child in 1956 because: a) Hermogena Cariosa
Babiera, was already 54 years old; b) Hermogenas last child birth
wasintheyear1941,theyearpetitionerwasborn;c)Eugeniowas
already65yearsold,thatthevoidandsimulatedbirthcertificateof
TeofistaGuintowouldaffectthehereditaryrightsofpetitionerwho
492

492

SUPREMECOURTREPORTSANNOTATED
Babiera vs. Catotal

inherited the estate of cancelled and declared void and theretofore


shepraysthatafterpublication,noticeandhearing,judgment[be]
render[ed] declaring x x x the certificate of birth of respondent
Teofista Guinto as declared void, invalid and ineffective and
orderingtherespondentlocalcivilregistrarofIligantocancelfrom
the registry of live birth of Iligan City BIRTH CERTIFICATE
recordedasRegistryNo.16035.
Finding the petition to be sufficient in form and substance, the
trial court issued an order directing the publication of the petition
and the date of hearing thereof in a newspaper, the Local Civil
Registrar of Iligan City, the office of the City Prosecutor of Iligan
CityandTEOFISTA.
TEOFISTA filed a motion to dismiss on the grounds that the

petition states no cause of action, it being an attack on the


legitimacy of the respondent as the child of the spouses Eugenio
Babiera and Hermogena Cariosa Babiera; that plaintiff has no
legal capacity to file the instant petition pursuant to Article 171 of
the Family Code; and finally that the instant petition is barred by
prescriptioninaccordancewithArticle170oftheFamilyCode.The
trialcourtdeniedthemotiontodismiss.
Subsequently, Attys. Padilla, Ulindang and Padilla appeared
and filed an answer/opposition in behalf of private respondent
Teofista Babiera, [who] was later on substituted by Atty. Cabili as
counselforprivaterespondent.
In the answer filed, TEOFISTA averred that she was always
knownasTeofistaBabieraandnotTeofistaGuinto;thatplaintiffis
not the only surviving child of the late spouses Eugenio Babiera
and Hermogena C. Babiera, for the truth of the matter [is that]
plaintiff Presentation B. V. Catotal and [defendant] Teofista
Babieraaresistersofthefullblood.HerCertificateofBirth,signed
byhermotherHermogenaBabiera,xxxCertificateofBaptism,xx
x Students Report Card x x x all incorporated in her answer, are
eloquent testimonies of her filiation. By way of special and
affirmative defenses, defendant/respondent contended that the
petition states no cause of action, it being an attack on the
legitimacy of the respondent as the child of the spouses Eugenio
Babiera and Hermogena Carioza Babiera; that plaintiff has no
legal capacity to file the instant petition pursuant to Article 171 of
theFamilyCode;and
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VOL.333,JUNE15,2000

493

Babiera vs. Catotal


finally that the instant petition is barred by prescription in
5
accordancewithArticle170oftheFamilyCode.

Ruling of the Court of Appeals


TheCourtofAppealsheldthattheevidenceadducedduring
trial proved that petitioner was not the biological child of
Hermogena Babiera. It also ruled that no evidence was
presented to show that Hermogena became pregnant in
1959.Itfurtherobservedthatshewasalready54yearsold
atthetime,andthatherlastpregnancyhadoccurredway
back in 1941. The CA noted that the supposed birth took
place at home, notwithstanding the advanced age of
Hermogena and its concomitant medical complications.
Moreover, petitioners Birth Certificate was not signed by
the local civil registrar, and the signature therein, which
waspurportedtobethatofHermogena,wasdifferentfrom
herothersignatures.
TheCAalsodeemedinapplicableArticles170and171of
the Family Code, which stated that only the father could
impugn the childs legitimacy, and that the same was not
subject to a collateral attack. It held that said provisions
contemplatedasituationwhereinthehusbandorhisheirs
assertedthatthechildofthewifewasnothis.Inthiscase,
the action involved the cancellation of the childs Birth

Certificate for being void ab initio on the ground that the


childdidnotbelongtoeitherthefatherorthemother.
6
Hence,thisappeal.
Issues
Petitionerpresentsthefollowingassignmentoferrors:
_______________
5CADecision,pp.24;rollo,pp,2224.
6

The case was deemed submitted for resolution on December 24,

1999, upon receipt by this Court of Petitioners Memorandum, which


wassignedbyAtty.PablitoC.Pielago,Sr.RespondentsMemorandum,
signedbyAtty.DulcesimoTampos,hadbeenreceivedearlier.
494

494

SUPREMECOURTREPORTSANNOTATED
Babiera vs. Catotal
1) Respondent(plaintiffinthelowercourtaquo)does
not have the legal capacity to file the special
proceeding of appeal under CA GR No. CV56031
subjectmatterofthisreviewoncertiorari;
2) ThespecialproceedingonappealunderCAGRNo.
CV56031isimproperandisbarredby[the]statute
oflimitation(prescription);[and]
3) The Honorable Court of Appeals, the fifteenth
division utterly failed to hold, that the ancient
public record of petitioners birth is superior
to the
7
selfservingoraltestimonyofrespondent.

The Courts Ruling


ThePetitionisnotmeritorious.
First Issue: Subject of the Present Action
Petitionercontendsthatrespondenthasnostandingtosue,
8
because Article 171 of the Family Code states that the
childs filiation can be impugned only by the father or, in
special circumstances, his heirs. She adds that the
legitimacyofachildisnotsubjecttoacollateralattack.
Thisargumentisincorrect.Respondenthastherequisite
standingtoinitiatethepresentaction.Section2,Rule3of
theRulesofCourt,providesthatarealpartyininterestis
onewhostandstobebenefitedorinjuredbythejudgment9
in the suit, or the party entitled to the avails of the suit.
Theinter
_______________
7Petition,p.3;rollo,p.11.
8 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

followingcases:
(1) If the husband should die before the expiration of the period
fixedforbringinghisaction;
(2) If he should die after the filing of the complaint without having
desistedtherefrom;or
(3) Ifthechildwasbornafterthedeathofthehusband.
9ItappearsthatrespondentinvokedRule108inthepresentaction.

AlthoughthesaidRuleallowsonlythecorrectionoftypo
495

VOL.333,JUNE15,2000

495

Babiera vs. Catotal


estofrespondentinthecivilstatusofpetitionerstemsfrom
an action
for partition which the latter filed against the
10
former. The case concerned the properties inherited by
respondentfromherparents.
Moreover, Article 171 of the Family Code is not
applicable to the present case. A close reading of this
provision shows that it applies to instances in which the
father impugns the legitimacy of his wifes child. The
provision, however, presupposes that the child was the
undisputedoffspringofthemother.Thepresentcasealleges
andshowsthatHermogenadidnotgivebirthtopetitioner.
In other words, the prayer herein is not to declare that
petitioner is an illegitimate child of Hermogena, but to
establish that the former is not the latters child at all.
Verily, the present action does not impugn petitioners
filiation to Spouses Eugenio and Hermogena Babiera,
because there is no blood relation to impugn in the first
place.
11
InBenitezBadua v. Court of Appeals, the Court ruled
thus:
PetitionersinsistenceontheapplicabilityofArticles164,166,170
and 171 of the Family Code to the case at bench cannot be
sustained.Thesearticlesprovide:
xxxxxxxxx
Acarefulreadingoftheabovearticleswillshowthattheydonot
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,thesearticlesgovernasituationwhereahusband
_______________
graphicalorclericalerrorsandnotmaterialorsubstantialones(seeLeonor
v. CA,256SCRA69,April2,1996),theproprietyofthepresentremedywasnot
raisedasanissue.Hence,theCourtfindsnoreasontopassuponit.Itshould
beobserved,however,thatthetrialcourtorderedthepublicationofthePetition
andthedateofhearinginanewspaperofgeneralpublicationandcausedthe
service of copies thereof to the Office of the Solicitor General, the Iligan City
localcivilregistrarandtheOfficeoftheIliganCityProsecutor.
10CivilCaseNo.2389.
11229SCRA468,January24,1994.

496

496

SUPREMECOURTREPORTSANNOTATED
Babiera vs. Catotal

(or his heirs) denies as his own a child of his wife. Thus, under
Article166,itisthehusbandwhocanimpugnthelegitimacyofsaid
child by proving: (1) it was physically impossible for him to have
sexualintercourse,withhiswifewithinthefirst120daysofthe300
dayswhichimmediatelyprecededthebirthofthechild;(2)thatfor
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
parentwasobtainedthroughmistake,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 CabatbatLim vs. Intermediate Appellate Court, 166
SCRA451,457citedintheimpugneddecisionisapropos,viz.:
PetitionersrecoursetoArticle263oftheNewCivilCode[nowArt.170
of the Family Code] is not welltaken. This legal provision refers to an
action to impugn legitimacy. It is inapplicable to this case because this
isnotanactiontoimpugnthelegitimacyofachild,butanactionofthe
private respondents to claim their inheritance as legal heirs of their
childless deceased aunt. They do not claim that petitioner Violeta
CabatbatLimisanillegitimatechildofthedeceased,butthatsheisnot
thedecedentschildatall.Beingneither[a]legallyadoptedchild,noran
acknowledged natural child, nor a child by legal fiction of Esperanza
12

Cabatbat, Violeta is not a legal heir of the deceased. (Emphasis


supplied.)

Second Issue: Prescription


Petitioner next contends that the action to contest her
statusasachildofthelateHermogenaBabierahasalready
prescribed.ShecitesArticle170oftheFamilyCodewhich
providestheprescriptiveperiodforsuchaction:
_______________
12Ibid.,pp.472474,perPuno,J.

497

VOL.333,JUNE15,2000

497

Babiera vs. Catotal


Art.170.Theactiontoimpugnthelegitimacyofthechildshallbe
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,
anyofhisheirs,shouldresideinthecityormunicipalitywherethe
birthtookplaceorwasrecorded.

Ifthehusbandor,inhisdefault,allofhisheirsdonotresideat
theplaceofbirthasdefinedinthefirstparagraphorwhereitwas
recorded, the period shall be two years if they should reside in the
Philippines;andthreeyearsifabroad.Ifthebirthofthechildhas
been concealed from or was unknown to the husband or his heirs,
theperiodshallbecountedfromthediscoveryorknowledgeofthe
birth of the child or of the fact of registration of said birth,
whicheverisearlier.

This argument is bereft of merit. The present action


involvesthecancellationofpetitionersBirthCertificate;it
does not impugn her legitimacy. Thus, the prescriptive
periodsetforthinArticle170oftheFamilyCodedoesnot
apply.Verily,theactiontonullifytheBirthCertificatedoes
13
notprescribe,becauseitwasallegedlyvoidab initio.
Third Issue: Presumption in Favor of the Birth
Certificate
Lastly, petitioner argues that the evidence presented,
especially Hermogenas testimony that petitioner was not
her real child, cannot overcome the presumption of
regularityintheissuanceoftheBirthCertificate.
While it is true that an official document such as
petitioners Birth Certificate enjoys the presumption of
regularity,thespecificfactsattendantinthecaseatbar,as
well as the totality of the evidence presented during trial,
sufficiently negate such presumption. First, there were
alreadyirregularitiesregardingtheBirthCertificateitself.
14
It was not signed by the local civil registrar. More
important,theCourtofAppealsobservedthatthemothers
signaturethereinwas
_______________
13SeeSantos

v. Aranzanso,116SCRA1,August21,1982.

14ThecivilregistrarwasG.L.Caluen.

498

498

SUPREMECOURTREPORTSANNOTATED
Babiera vs. Catotal

differentfromhersignaturesinotherdocumentspresented
duringthetrial.
Second, the circumstances surrounding the birth of
petitioner show that Hermogena is not the formers real
mother. For one, there is no evidence of Hermogenas
pregnancy, such as medical records and doctors
prescriptions,otherthantheBirthCertificateitself.Infact,
no witness was presented to attest to the pregnancy of
Hermogenaduringthattime.Moreover,atthetimeofher
supposedbirth,Hermogenawasalready54yearsold.Even
ifitwerepossibleforhertohavegivenbirthatsuchalate
age, it was highly suspicious that she did so in her own
home,whenheradvancedagenecessitatedpropermedical
carenormallyavailableonlyinahospital.
The most significant piece of evidence, however, is the

depositionofHermogenaBabierawhichstatesthatshedid
notgivebirthtopetitioner,andthatthelatterwasnothers
norherhusbandEugenios.Thedepositionreadsinpart:
q Whoareyourchildren?
a

PresentacionandFlorentinoBabiera.

Now,thisTeofistaBabieraclaimsthatsheisyour
legitimatechildwithyourhusbandEugenioBabiera,
whatcanyousayaboutthat?

Sheisnotourchild.

xxxxxxxxx

Doyourecallwhereshewasborn?

Inourhousebecausehermotherwasourhousehelper.

CouldyourecallforhowlongifeverthisTeofista
Babieralivedwithyouinyourresidence?

Maybein1978butshe[would]alwaysgoou[t]from
timetotime.

Now,duringthistime,doyourecallifyouever
assert[ed]herasyourdaughterwithyourhusband?

No,sir.

15

_______________
15 CA Decision, pp. 910; rollo, pp. 2829. The same was taken from

SpecialProceedingsNo.1794,entitledInthematterofthe
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VOL.333,JUNE15,2000

499

Babiera vs. Catotal


Relying merely on the assumption of validity of the Birth
Certificate,petitionerhaspresentednootherevidenceother
than the said document to show that she is really
Hermogenas child. Neither has she provided any reason
whyhersupposedmotherwouldmakeadepositionstating
thattheformerwasnotthelatterschildatall.
All in all, we find no reason to reverse or modify the
factual finding of the trial and the appellate courts that
petitionerwasnotthechildofrespondentsparents.
WHEREFORE,thePetitionisherebyDENIEDandthe
assailedDecisionAFFIRMED.Costsagainstpetitioner.
SOORDERED.
Melo (Chairman), PurisimaandGonzagaReyes, JJ.,
concur.
Vitug, J.,Abroadonofficialbusiness.
Petition denied, judgment affirmed.
Notes.Documentary evidence rejected as insufficient
toprovefiliation;Photographsofapersonatbaptismandin
thehousedonotprovethatheisthefather.(Fernandez vs.
Court of Appeals,230SCRA130[1994])
An unrecognized spurious child has no rights from his

parents or to their estate. (llano vs. Court of Appeals, 230


SCRA242[1994])
Anactionforcompulsoryrecognitionandenforcementof
successionalrightswhichwasfiledpriortotheadventofthe
Family Code must be governed by Article 285 of the Civil
Code and not by Article 175, paragraph 2 of the Family
Code. (Aruego, Jr. vs. Court of Appeals, 254 SCRA 711
[1996])
A blood test could eliminate all possibility that the
accused is the father of the child, if none of the putative
fathersphenotype(s)arepresentinthechildsbloodtype
whilethe
_______________
Perpetuation of the Testimony of Hermogena C. Babiera,
PresentacionB.Catotal,Petitioner.
500

500

SUPREMECOURTREPORTSANNOTATED

Re: Pilferage of Supplies in the Stockroom of the Property


Division, OCA Committed by Teodoro L. Saquin, Clerk II
converse does not hold true (i.e., that the presence of
identical phenotypes in both individuals establishes
paternity), the absence of the formers phenotype in the
childs would make his paternity biologically untenable.
(People vs. Cartuano, Jr.,255SCRA403[1996])
o0o

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