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THIRD DIVISION[G.R. No. 138493.

June 15, 2000]


TEOFISTA BABIERA, petitioner, vs. PRESENTACION B.
CATOTAL, respondent.

Furnish copies of this decision to the Local Civil Registrar of


Iligan City, the City Prosecutor, counsel for private respondent
Atty. Tomas Cabili and to counsel for petitioner.
SO ORDERED."

DECISION
The Facts
PANGANIBAN, J.:
The undisputed facts are summarized by the Court of Appeals in this wise:
A birth certificate may be ordered cancelled upon adequate proof that it is
fictitious. Thus, void is a certificate which shows that the mother was already
fifty-four years old at the time of the child's birth and which was signed
neither by the civil registrar nor by the supposed mother. Because her
inheritance rights are adversely affected, the legitimate child of such mother
is a proper party in the proceedings for the cancellation of the said certificate.
Statement of the Case
Submitted for this Courts consideration is a Petition for Review
on Certiorari[1] under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, seeking reversal of the
March 18, 1999 Decision[2] of the Court of Appeals[3] (CA) in CA-GR CV No.
56031. Affirming the Regional Trial Court of Lanao del Norte in Special
Proceedings No. 3046, the CA ruled as follows:
"IN VIEW HEREOF, the appealed decision is hereby AFFIRMED.
Accordingly, the instant appeal is DISMISSED for lack of merit.
Costs against the defendant-appellant, TEOFISTA BABIERA,
a.k.a. Teofista Guinto."[4]
The dispositive portion of the affirmed RTC Decision reads:
"WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing findings and
pronouncements of the Court, judgment is hereby rendered, to
wit[:]
1) Declaring the Certificate of Birth of respondent Teofista
Guinto as null and void 'ab initio';
2) Ordering the respondent Local Civil Registrar of Iligan to
cancel from the registry of live birth of Iligan City BIRTH
CERTIFICATE recorded as Registry No. 16035;

"Presentacion B. Catotal (hereafter referred to as PRESENTACION) 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
Proceedings No. 3046.
"From the petition filed, PRESENTACION asserted 'that she is the only surviving
child of the late spouses Eugenio Babiera and Hermogena Cariosa, who died
on May 26, 1996 and July 6, 1990 respectively; that on September 20, 1996 a
baby girl was delivered by 'hilot' in the house of spouses Eugenio and
Hermogena Babiera 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 spouses Eugenio, then 65 years old
and Hermogena, then 54 years old, and made Hermogena Babiera appear as
the mother by forging her signature x x x; that petitioner, then 15 years old,
saw with her own eyes and personally witnessed Flora Guinto give birth to
Teofista Guinto, in their house, assisted by 'hilot'; that the birth certificate x x
x of Teofista Guinto is void ab initio, as it was totally a simulated birth,
signature of informant forged, and it contained false entries, to wit: a) The
child is made to appear as the legitimate child of the late spouses Eugenio
Babiera and Hermogena Cariosa, when she is not; b) The signature of
Hermogena Cariosa, the mother, is falsified/forged. She was not the
informant; c) The family name BABIERA is false and unlawful and her correct
family name is GUINTO, her mother being single; d) Her real mother was Flora
Guinto and her status, an illegitimate child; The natural father, the carpenter,
did not sign it; that the respondent Teofista Barbiera's birth certificate is void
ab initio, and it is patently a simulation of birth, since it is clinically and
medically impossible for the supposed parents to bear a child in 1956
because: a) Hermogena Cariosa Babiera, was already 54 years old; b)
Hermogena's last child birth was in the year 1941, the year petitioner was
born; c) Eugenio was already 65 years old, that the void and simulated birth
certificate of Teofista Guinto would affect the hereditary rights of petitioner

who inherited the estate of cancelled and declared void and theretofore she
prays that after publication, notice and hearing, judgment [be] render[ed]
declaring x x x the certificate of birth of respondent Teofista Guinto as
declared void, invalid and ineffective and ordering the respondent local civil
registrar of Iligan to cancel from the registry of live birth of Iligan City BIRTH
CERTIFICATE recorded as Registry No. 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 City and TEOFISTA.
"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
prescription in accordance with Article 170 of the Family Code.' The trial court
denied the motion to dismiss.
"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 counsel for private respondent.'
"In the answer filed, TEOFISTA averred 'that she was always known as Teofista
Babiera and not Teofista Guinto; that plaintiff is not the only surviving child of
the late spouses Eugenio Babiera and Hermogena C. Babiera, for the truth of
the matter [is that] plantiff Presentacion B. V. Catotal and [defendant] Teofista
Babiera are sisters of the full-blood. Her Certificate of Birth, signed by her
mother Hermogena Babiera, x x x Certificate of Baptism, x x x Student's
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 the Family Code; and finally that the
instant petition is barred by prescription in accordance with Article 170 of the
Family Code." [5]

1959. It further observed that she was already 54 years old at the time, and
that her last pregnancy had occurred way 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, petitioner's
Birth Certificate was not signed by the local civil registrar, and the signature
therein, which was purported to be that of Hermogena, was different from her
other signatures.
The CA also deemed inapplicable Articles 170 and 171 of the Family Code,
which stated that only the father could impugn the child's legitimacy, and that
the same was not subject to a collateral attack. It held that said provisions
contemplated a situation wherein the husband or his heirs asserted that the
child of the wife was not his. In this case, the action involved the cancellation
of the childs Birth Certificate for being void ab initio on the ground that the
child did not belong to either the father or the mother.
Hence, this appeal.[6]
Issues
Petitioner presents the following assignment of errors:
"1) Respondent (plaintiff in the lower court a quo) does not have the legal
capacity to file the special proceeding of appeal under CA GR No. CV-56031
subject matter of this review on certiorari;
2) The special proceeding on appeal under CA GR No. CV-56031 is improper
and is barred by [the] statute of limitation (prescription); [and]
3) The Honorable Court of Appeals, the fifteenth division utterly failed to hold,
that the ancient public record of petitioner's birth is superior to the selfserving oral testimony of respondent."[7]
The Courts Ruling
The Petition is not meritorious.
First Issue: Subject of the Present Action

Ruling of the Court of Appeals


The Court of Appeals held that the evidence adduced during 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

Petitioner contends that respondent has no standing to sue, because Article


171[8] of the Family Code states that the child's filiation can be impugned only
by the father or, in special circumstances, his heirs. She adds that the
legitimacy of a child is not subject to a collateral attack.

This argument is incorrect. Respondent has the requisite standing to initiate


the present action. Section 2, Rule 3 of the Rules of Court, provides that a real
party in interest is one "who stands to be benefited or injured by the judgment
in the suit, or the party entitled to the avails of the suit."[9] The interest of
respondent in the civil status of petitioner stems from an action for partition
which the latter filed against the former.[10] The case concerned the properties
inherited by respondent from her parents.
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 undisputed offspring of the mother. The
present case alleges and shows that Hermogena did not give birth to
petitioner. 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
latter's 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.
In Benitez-Badua v. Court of Appeals,[11] the Court ruled thus:
"Petitioners 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:

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 Art. 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 decedents child at all. Being neither [a]
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."[12] (Emphasis supplied.)
Second Issue: Prescription
Petitioner next contends that the action to contest her status as a child of the
late Hermogena Babiera has already prescribed. She cites Article 170 of the
Family Code which provides the prescriptive period for such action:
"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.

x x x.....x x x.....x x x
"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

"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."
This argument is bereft of 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 not apply.
Verily, the action to nullify the Birth Certificate does not prescribe, because it
was allegedly void ab initio.[13]
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 regularity in the issuance of the Birth Certificate.
While it is true that an official document such as petitioners Birth Certificate
enjoys the presumption of regularity, the specific facts attendant in the case
at bar, as well as the totality of the evidence presented during trial,
sufficiently negate such presumption. First, there were already irregularities
regarding the Birth Certificate itself. It was not signed by the local civil
registrar.[14] More important, the Court of Appeals observed that the mothers
signature therein was different from her signatures in other documents
presented during the trial.
Second, the circumstances surrounding the birth of petitioner show that
Hermogena is not the former's real mother. For one, there is no evidence of
Hermogenas pregnancy, such as medical records and doctors prescriptions,
other than the Birth Certificate itself. In fact, no witness was presented to
attest to the pregnancy of Hermogena during that time. Moreover, at the time
of her supposed birth, Hermogena was already 54 years old. Even if it were
possible for her to have given birth at such a late age, it was highly suspicious
that she did so in her own home, when her advanced age necessitated proper
medical care normally available only in a hospital.
The most significant piece of evidence, however, is the deposition of
Hermogena Babiera which states that she did not give birth to petitioner, and
that the latter was not hers nor her husband Eugenios. The deposition reads in
part:
"q.....Who are your children?

q.....Could you recall for how long if ever this Teofista Babiera
lived with you in your residence?
a.....Maybe in 1978 but she [would] always go ou[t] from time
to time.
q.....Now, during this time, do you recall if you ever assert[ed]
her as your daughter with your husband?
a.....No, sir."[15]
Relying merely on the assumption of validity of the Birth Certificate, petitioner
has presented no other evidence other than the said document to show that
she is really Hermogenas child. Neither has she provided any reason why her
supposed mother would make a deposition stating that the former was not the
latter's child at all.
All in all, we find no reason to reverse or modify the factual finding of the trial
and the appellate courts that petitioner was not the child of respondents
parents.
WHEREFORE, the Petition is hereby DENIED and the assailed
Decision AFFIRMED. Costs against petitioner.
SO ORDERED.
Melo, (Chairman), Purisima, and Gonzaga-Reyes, JJ., concur.
Vitug, J., abroad on official business.

a.....Presentation and Florentino Babiera.


q.....Now, this Teofista Babiera claims that she is your
legitimate child with your husband Eugenio Babiera, what can
you say about that?
a.....She is not our child.
x x x.....x x x.....x x x
q.....Do you recall where she was born?
a.....In our house because her mother was our house helper.

THIRD DIVISION
BELEN SAGAD ANGELES, G.R. No. 153798 Petitioner,
Present: PANGANIBAN, J., Chairman SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ,
CORONA, - versus - CARPIO-MORALES, and GARCIA, JJ.
Promulgated: ALELI CORAZON ANGELES MAGLAYA,
Respondent. September 2, 2005
x----------------------------------------------------------------------------------x
DECISION
GARCIA, J.:
In this petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court,
petitioner Belen Sagad Angeles seeks to set aside the Decision dated May 29,
2002[1]of the Court of Appeals in CA G.R. CV No. 66037, reversing an earlier
Order of the Regional Trial Court at Caloocan City which dismissed the petition
for the settlement of the intestate estate of Francisco Angeles, thereat
commenced by the herein respondent Aleli Corazon Angeles-Maglaya.
The legal dispute between the parties started when, on March 25, 1998, in the
Regional Trial Court (RTC) at Caloocan City, respondent filed a petition [2] for
letters of administration and her appointment as administratrix of the
intestate estate of Francisco M. Angeles (Francisco, hereinafter). In the
petition, docketed as Special Proceedings No. C-2140 and raffled to Branch
120 of the court, respondent alleged, among other things, the following:
1. That Francisco, a resident of 71 B. Serrano St., Grace Park,
Caloocan, died intestate on January 21, 1998 in the City of Manila, leaving
behind four (4) parcels of land and a building, among other valuable
properties;
2. That there is a need to appoint an administrator of Franciscos
estate;
3. That she (respondent) is the sole legitimate child of the deceased
and Genoveva Mercado, and, together with petitioner, Belen S. Angeles,
decedents wife by his second marriage, are the surviving heirs of the
decedent; and
4. That she has all the qualifications and none of the disqualifications
required of an administrator.
Petitioner opposed the basic petition and prayed that she, instead of
respondent, be made the administratrix of Franciscos estate. [3] In support of
her opposition and plea, petitioner alleged having married Francisco on
August 7, 1948 before Judge Lucio M. Tianco of the Municipal Court of Rizal, a
union which was ratified two (2) months later in religious rites at the Our Lady
of Grace Parish in Caloocan City, and that Francisco represented in their
marriage contract that he was single at that time. Petitioner also averred that
respondent could not be the daughter of Francisco for, although she was
recorded as Franciscos legitimate daughter, the corresponding birth certificate

was not signed by him. Pressing on, petitioner further alleged that
respondent, despite her claim of being the legitimate child of Francisco and
Genoveva Mercado, has not presented the marriage contract between her
supposed parents or produced any acceptable document to prove such union.
And evidently to debunk respondents claim of being the only child of
Francisco, petitioner likewise averred that she and Francisco had, during their
marriage, legally adopted Concesa A. Yamat, et al. Petitioner thus urged that
she, being the surviving spouse of Francisco, be declared as possessed of the
superior right to the administration of his estate.
In her reply to opposition, respondent alleged, inter alia, that per certification
of the appropriate offices, the January to December 1938 records of marriages
of the Civil Registrar of Bacolor, Pampanga where the alleged 1938 FranciscoGenoveva wedding took place, were destroyed. In the same reply, respondent
dismissed as of little consequence the adoption adverted to owing to her
having interposed with the Court of Appeals a petition to nullify the decree of
adoption entered by the RTC at Caloocan.[4]
Issues having been joined, trial ensued. Respondent, as petitioner a quo,
commenced the presentation of her evidence by taking the witness stand. She
testified having been born on November 20, 1939 as the legitimate child of
Francisco M. Angeles and Genoveva Mercado, who died in January 1988. [5] She
also testified having been in open and continuous possession of the status of
a legitimate child. Four (4) other witnesses testified on her behalf, namely:
Tomas Angeles,[6]Francisco Yaya,[7] Jose O. Carreon[8] and Paulita Angeles de la
Cruz.[9] Respondent also offered in evidence her birth certificate which
contained an entry stating that she was born at the Mary Johnston Hospital,
Tondo, Manila, to Francisco Angeles and Genoveva Mercado and whereon the
handwritten word Yesappears on the space below the question Legitimate?
(Legitimo?); pictures taken during respondents wedding as bride to Atty.
Guillermo T. Maglaya; and a copy of her marriage contract. Likewise offered
were her scholastic and government service records.
After respondent rested her case following her formal offer of exhibits,
petitioner filed a Motion to Dismiss under Section 1(g), Rule 16 of the Rules of
Court. In it, she prayed for the dismissal of the petition for letters of
administration on the ground that the petition failed to state or prove a cause
of action, it being her stated position that [P]etitioner [Corzaon], by her
evidence, failed to establish her filiation vis--vis the decedent, i.e., that she is
in fact a legitimate child of Francisco M. Angeles.[10]
To the motion to dismiss, respondent interposed an opposition, followed by
petitioners reply, to which respondent countered with a rejoinder.
Eventually, in an Order dated July 12, 1999, [11] the trial court, on its
finding that respondent failed to prove her filiation as legitimate child of
Francisco, dismissed the petition, thus:

WHEREFORE, the instant petition is hereby


ordered DISMISSED for failure of the [respondent] to state a
cause of action in accordance with Section 1(g) of Rule 16 of
the 1997 Rules of Civil of Procedure. (Word in bracket added]
Respondent then moved for reconsideration, which motion was denied by the
trial court in its Order of December 17, 1999.[12] Therefrom, respondent went
on appeal to the Court of Appeals where her recourse was docketed as CAG.R. CV No. 66037.
As stated at the threshold hereof, the Court of Appeals, in its assailed Decision
dated May 29, 2002,[13] reversed and set aside the trial courts order of
dismissal and directed it to appoint respondent as administratrix of the estate
of Francisco, to wit:
WHEREFORE, the appealed order of dismissal is REVERSED.
The Trial Court is hereby ordered to appoint petitionerappellant Aleli Corazon Angeles as administratrix of the
intestate estate of Francisco Angeles.
SO ORDERED.
The appellate court predicated its ruling on the interplay of the following main
premises:
1. Petitioners Motion to Dismiss filed with the trial court, albeit premised on
the alleged failure of the underlying petition for letter of administration to
state or prove a cause of action, actually partakes of a demurrer to evidence
under Section 1 of Rule 33;[14]
2. Petitioners motion being a demurer, it follows that she thereby waived her
right to present opposing evidence to rebut respondents testimonial and
documentary evidence; and
3. Respondent has sufficiently established her legitimate filiation with the
deceased Francisco.
Hence, petitioners instant petition for review on certiorari, on the submission
that the Court of Appeals erred: (1) in reversing the trial courts order of
dismissal;[15] (2) in treating her motion to dismiss as a demurrer to evidence;
(3) in holding that respondent is a legitimate daughter of Francisco; and (4) in
decreeing respondents appointment as administratrix of Franciscos intestate
estate.
We resolve to grant the petition.
The principal issue tendered in this case boils down to the question of
whether or not respondent is the legitimate child of decedent Francisco M.
Angeles and Genoveva Mercado. The Court of Appeals resolved the issue in

the affirmative and, on the basis of such determination, ordered the trial court
to appoint respondent as administratrix of Franciscos estate.
We are unable to lend concurrence to the appellate courts conclusion
on the legitimate status of respondent, or, to be precise, on her legitimate
filiation to the decedent. A legitimate child is a product of, and, therefore,
implies a valid and lawful marriage. Remove the element of lawful union and
there is strictly no legitimate filiation between parents and child. Article 164 of
the Family Code cannot be more emphatic on the matter: Children conceived
or born during the marriage of the parents are legitimate.
In finding for respondent, the Court of Appeals, citing and extensibly
quoting from Tison vs. Court of Appeals,[16] stated that since petitioner opted
not to present any contrary evidence, the presumption on respondents
legitimacy stands unrebutted.[17]
Following is an excerpt from Tison:
It seems that both the court a quo and respondent
appellate court have regrettably overlooked the universally
recognized presumption on legitimacy. There is no
presumption of the law more firmly established and founded
on
sounder
morality
and
more
convincing
than
the presumption that children born in wedlock are
legitimate. And well-settled is the rule that the issue of
legitimacy cannot be attacked collaterally.
The rationale for this rule has been explained in this wise:
The presumption of legitimacy in the Family Code . . .
actually fixes a status for the child born in
wedlock, and that civil status cannot be
attacked collaterally. xxx
xxx xxx xxx
Upon the expiration of the periods provided in Article 170 [of the
Family Code], the action to impugn the legitimacy of a child can
no longer be bought. The status conferred by the presumption,
therefore, becomes fixed, and can no longer be questioned. The
obvious intention of the law is to prevent the status of a child
born in wedlock from being in a state of uncertainty. It also
aims to force early action to settle any doubt as to the paternity
of such child so that the evidence material to the matter . . .
may still be easily available.
xxxxxxxxx

Only the husband can contest the


legitimacy of a child born to his wife . . . .
(Words in bracket added; Emphasis ours)
Contextually, the correct lesson of Tison, which the appellate court
evidently misapplied, is that: (a) a child is presumed legitimate only if
conceived or born in wedlock; and (b) the presumptive legitimacy of such
child cannot be attacked collaterally.
A party in whose favor the legal presumption exists may rely on and
invoke such legal presumption to establish a fact in issue. He need not
introduce evidence to prove that fact.[18] For, a presumption is prima
facie proof of the fact presumed. However, it cannot be over-emphasized, that
while a fact thusprima facie established by legal presumption shall, unless
overthrown, stand as proved,[19] the presumption of legitimacy under Article
164 of the Family Code [20] may be availed only upon convincing proof of the
factual basis therefor, i.e., that the childs parents were legally married and
that his/her conception or birth occurred during the subsistence of that
marriage. Else, the presumption of law that a child is legitimate does not
arise.
In the case at bench, the Court of Appeals, in its decision under
review, did not categorically state from what facts established during the trial
was the presumption of respondents supposed legitimacy arose. But even if
perhaps it wanted to, it could not have possibly done so. For, save for
respondents gratuitous assertion and an entry in her certificate of birth, there
is absolutely no proof of the decedents marriage to respondents mother,
Genoveva Mercado. To stress, no marriage certificate or marriage contract
doubtless the best evidence of Franciscos and Genovevas marriage, if one had
been solemnized[21] was offered in evidence. No priest, judge, mayor, or other
solemnizing authority was called to the witness box to declare that he
solemnized the marriage between the two. None of the four (4) witnesses
respondent presented could say anything about, let alone affirm, that
supposed marriage. At best, their testimonies proved that respondent was
Franciscos daughter. For example, Tomas Angeles and Paulita Angeles de la
Cruz testified that they know respondent to be their cousin because his
(Tomas) father and her (Paulitas) mother, who are both Franciscos siblings,
told them so.[22] And one Jose Carreon would testify seeing respondent in 1948
in Franciscos house in Caloocan, the same Francisco who used to court
Genoveva before the war.[23] In all, no evidence whatsoever was presented of
the execution of the Francisco Angeles-Genoveva Mercado marriage contract;
when and where their marriage was solemnized; the identity of the
solemnizing officer; the persons present, and like significant details.

While perhaps not determinative of the issue of the existence of


marriage between Francisco and Genoveva, we can even go to the extent of
saying that respondent has not even presented a witness to testify that her
putative parents really held themselves out to the public as man-and-wife.
Clearly, therefore, the Court of Appeals erred in crediting respondent with the
legal presumption of legitimacy which, as above explained, should flow from a
lawful marriage between Francisco and Genevova. To reiterate, absent such a
marriage, as here, there is no presumption of legitimacy and, therefore, there
was really nothing for petitioner to rebut.
Parenthetically, for all her unyielding stance that her mother and
Francisco Angeles were married in 1938, respondent never, thru the years,
even question what would necessarily be a bigamous Francisco-Belen Sagad
marriage. Ironical as it may seem, respondent herself undermined her very
own case. As it were, she made certain judicial admission negating her own
assertion as well as the appellate courts conclusion - that Francisco was
legally married to Genoveva. As may be recalled, respondent had declared
that her mother Genoveva died in 1988, implying, quite clearly, that when
Francisco contracted marriage with petitioner Belen S. Angeles in 1948,
Genoveva and Francisco were already spouses. Now, then, if, as respondent
maintained despite utter lack of evidence, that Genoveva Mercado and
Francisco were married in 1938, it follows that the marriage of Francisco to
petitioner Belen Angeles in 1948, or prior to Genovevas death, would
necessarily have to be bigamous, hence void, [24] in which case petitioner could
not be, as respondent alleged in her petition for letters of administration,
a surviving spouse of the decedent. We quote the pertinent allegation:
4. The surviving heirs of decedent are the petitioner
[Corazon] herself who is 58 years old, and BELEN S.
Angeles, the surviving spouse of deceased Francisco M.
Angeles by his second marriage, who is about 77 years old . . .
.YEARS OLD . . . (Emphasis and word in bracket added)
We can concede, because Article 172 of the Family Code appears to
say so, that the legitimate filiation of a child can be established by any of the
modes therein defined even without direct evidence of the marriage of his/her
supposed parents. Said article 172 reads:
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 judgments; 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,
legitimate filiation shall be proved by:

the

inferring from it that Francisco and Genoveva are legally married. In the apt
words of petitioner, the appellate court, out of a Birth Certificate signed by a
physician who merely certified having attended the birth of a child who was
born alive at 3:50 P.M. , created a marriage that of Francisco and Genoveva,
and filiation (that said child)is the daughter of Francisco[28]

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.
Here, respondent presented, in support of her claim of legitimacy, a copy of
her Birth Certificate dated November 23, 1939 issued by the Civil Registrar of
the City of Manila (Exh. E). In it, her birth was recorded as the legitimate child
of Francisco Angeles and Genoveva Mercado. And the word married is written
in the certificate to indicate the union of Francisco and Genoveva.

It cannot be over-emphasized that the legitimate filiation of a child is a matter


fixed by law itself.[29] It cannot, as the decision under review seems to suggest,
be made dependent on the declaration of the attending physician or midwife,
or that of the mother of the newborn child. For then, an unwed mother, with or
without the participation of a doctor or midwife, could veritably invest
legitimate status to her offspring through the simple expedient of writing the
putative fathers name in the appropriate space in the birth certificate. A long
time past, this Court cautioned against according a similar unsigned birth
certificate prima facie evidentiary value of filiation:

Petitioner, however, contends, citing jurisprudence, that [I]t was error for the
Court of Appeals to have ruled . . . that [respondents] Birth
Certificateindubitably establishes that she is the legitimate daughter of
Francisco and Genoveva who are legally married.

Give this certificate evidential relevancy, and we


thereby pave the way for any scheming unmarried mother to
extort money for her child (and herself) from any eligible
bachelor or affluent pater familias. How? She simply causes
the midwife to state in the birth certificate that the newborn
babe is her legitimate offspring with that individual and the
certificate will be accepted for registration . . . . And any
lawyer with sufficient imagination will realize the exciting
possibilities from such mischief of such prima facie evidence
when and if the father dies in ignorance of the fraudulent
design xxx[30]

The contention commends itself for concurrence. The reason is as simple as it


is elementary: the Birth Certificate presented was not signed by Francisco
against whom legitimate filiation is asserted. Not even by Genoveva. It was
signed by the attending physician, one Rebecca De Guzman, who certified to
having attended the birth of a child. Such certificate, albeit considered a
public record of a private document is, under Section 23, Rule 132 of the Rules
of Court, evidence only of the fact which gave rise to its execution: the fact of
birth of a child.[25] Jurisprudence teaches that a birth certificate, to be
considered as validating proof of paternity and as an instrument of
recognition, must be signed by the father and mother jointly, or by the mother
alone if the father refuses.[26] Dr. Arturo Tolentino, commenting on the
probative value of the entries in a certificate of birth, wrote:
xxx if the alleged father did not intervene in the making of the
birth certificate, the putting of his name by the mother or
doctor or registrar is void; the signature of the alleged father
is necessary.[27]
The conclusion reached by the Court of Appeals that the Birth Certificate of
respondent, unsigned as it were by Francisco and Genoveva, establishes
andindubitably at that - not only respondents filiation to Francisco but even
her being a legitimate daughter of Francisco and Genoveva, taxes credulity to
the limit. In a very real sense, the appellate court regarded such certificate as
defining proof of filiation, and not just filiation but of legitimate filiation, by

Just like her Birth Certificate, respondent can hardly derive comfort
from her marriage contract to Atty. Maglaya and from her student and
government records which indicated or purported to show that Francisco
Angeles is her father. The same holds true for her wedding pictures which
showed Francisco giving respondents hands in marriage. These papers or
documents, unsigned as they are by Francisco or the execution of which he
had no part, are not sufficient evidence of filiation or recognition. [31] And
needless to stress, they cannot support a finding of the legitimate union of
Francisco and Genoveva.

The argument may be advanced that the aforesaid wedding pictures,


the school and service records and the testimony of respondents witnesses
lend support to her claim of enjoying open and continuous possession of the
status of a child of Francisco. The Court can even concede that respondent
may have been the natural child of Francisco with Genoveva. Unfortunately,
however, that angle is not an, or at issue in the case before us. For,

respondent peremptorily predicated her petition for letters of administration


on her being a legitimate child of Francisco who was legally married to her
mother, Genoveva, propositions which we have earlier refuted herein.
If on the foregoing score alone, this Court could very well end this
disposition were it not for another compelling consideration which petitioner
has raised and which we presently take judicially notice of.
As may be recalled, respondent, during the pendency of the
proceedings at the trial court, filed with the Court of Appeals a petition for the
annulment of the decision of the RTC Caloocan granting the petition of
spouses Francisco Angeles and petitioner Belen S. Angeles for the adoption of
Concesa A. Yamat and two others. In that petition, docketed with the appellate
court as CA-G.R. SP No. 47832 and captioned Aleli Corazon Angeles Maglaya
vs. Hon Jaime T. Hamoy, Consesa A. Yamat, Teodora A. Santos, Franco Angeles
and Belen S. Angeles, respondent alleged that as legitimate daughter of
Francisco, she should have been notified of the adoption proceedings.
Following a legal skirmish, the Court of Appeals referred the
aforementioned annulment case to RTC, Caloocan for reception of evidence.
Eventually, in a Decision[32] dated December 17, 2003, the Court of Appeals
dismissed CA-G.R. SP No. 47832 on the ground, inter alia, that herein
respondent is not, contrary to her claim, a legitimate daughter of Francisco,
nor a child of a lawful wedlock between Francisco M. Angeles and Genoveva Y.
Mercado. Wrote the appellate court in that case:
Petitioner [Aleli Corazon Maglaya] belabors with
repetitious persistence the argument that she is a legitimate
child or the only daughter of Francisco M. Angeles and
Genoveva Y. Mercado . . . .
In the case at bench, other than the self-serving
declaration of the petitioner, there is nothing in the record to
support petitioners claim that she is indeed a legitimate child
of the late Francisco M. Angeles and Genoveva Y. Mercado. xxx
In other words, Francisco M. Angeles was never married
before or at anytime prior to his marriage to Belen Sagad,
contrary to the claim of petitioner that Francisco M. Angeles
and Genoveva Y. Mercado were married in 1938
While petitioner may have submitted certifications to
the effect that the records of marriages during the war
years . . . were totally destroyed, no secondary evidence was
presented by petitioner to prove the existence of the marriage
between Francisco M. Angeles and Genoveva Y. Mercado, even

as no witness was presented to confirm the celebration of


such marriage . . . .
Petitioner presented pictures. x x x However, it is
already settled law that photographs are not sufficient
evidence of filiation or acknowledgment.
To be sure, very little comfort is provided by
petitioners birth certificate and even her marriage contract.. . .
Reason: These documents were not signed by Francisco . . . .
Equally inconsequential are petitioners school records . . . . all
these lacked the signatures of both Francisco and Genoveva . .
..
xxx xxx xxx
Having failed to prove that she is the legitimate
daughter or acknowledged natural child of the late Francisco
M. Angeles, petitioner cannot be a real party in interest in the
adoption proceedings, as her consent thereto is not essential
or required. (Emphasis in the original; words in bracket added)

Significantly, the aforesaid December 17, 2003 Decision of the


appellate court in CA-G.R. SP No.47832 was effectively affirmed by this
Court via its Resolution dated August 9, 2004 in G.R. No. 163124, denying
Aleli Corazon Maglayas petition for Review on Certiorari, [33] and Resolution
dated October 20, 2004,[34] denying with FINALITY her motion for
reconsideration. Another Resolution dated January 24, 2005 resolved to NOTE
WITHOUT ACTION Maglayas second motion for reconsideration.
In the light of the ruling of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No.
47832, as affirmed with finality by this Court in G.R. No. 163124, there can
be no serious objection to applying in this case the rule on conclusiveness of
judgment,[35] one of two (2) concepts embraced in the res judicata principle.
Following the rule on conclusiveness of judgment, herein respondent is
precluded from claiming that she is the legitimate daughter of Francisco and
Genoveva Mercado. In fine, the issue of herein respondents legitimate filiation
to Francisco and the latters marriage to Genoveva, having been judicially
determined in a final judgment by a court of competent jurisdiction, has
thereby become res judicata and may not again be resurrected or litigated
between herein petitioner and respondent or their privies in a subsequent
action, regardless of the form of the latter.[36]

Lest it be overlooked, the same ruling of the appellate court in CAG.R. SP No. 47832, as sustained by this Court in G.R. No. 163124, virtually
confirms the ratio of the trial courts order of dismissal in Special Proceedings
(SP) No. C-2140, i.e, that respondent failed to establish that she is in fact a
legitimate child of Francisco. Accordingly, the question of whether or not
the Motion to Dismiss[37] interposed by herein petitioner, as respondent in SP
No. C-2140, is in the nature of a demurer to evidence has become moot and
academic. It need not detain us any minute further.
Finally, it should be noted that on the matter of appointment of
administrator of the estate of the deceased, the surviving spouse is preferred
over the next of kin of the decedent. [38] When the law speaks of next of kin,
the reference is to those who are entitled, under the statute of distribution, to
the decedents property;[39] one whose relationship is such that he is entitled to
share in the estate as distributed,[40] or, in short, an heir. In resolving,
therefore, the issue of whether an applicant for letters of administration is a
next of kin or an heir of the decedent, the probate court perforce has to
determine and pass upon the issue of filiation. A separate action will only
result in a multiplicity of suits. Upon this consideration, the trial court acted
within bounds when it looked into and pass upon the claimed relationship of
respondent to the late Francisco Angeles.
WHEREFORE, the herein assailed decision of the Court of Appeals is
hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE, and the order of the trial court dismissing
Special Proceedings No. C-2140 REINSTATED.
No costs.
SO ORDERED.

10

SECOND DIVISION
[G.R. No. 132305. December 4, 2001]
IDA C. LABAGALA, petitioner, vs. NICOLASA T. SANTIAGO, AMANDA T.
SANTIAGO and HON. COURT OF APPEALS, respondents.
DECISION
QUISUMBING, J.:
This petition for review on certiorari seeks to annul the decision dated
March 4, 1997,[1] of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 32817, which
reversed and set aside the judgment dated October 17, 1990, [2] of the
Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 54, in Civil Case No. 87-41515, finding
herein petitioner to be the owner of 1/3 pro indiviso share in a parcel of land.
The pertinent facts of the case, as borne by the records, are as follows:
Jose T. Santiago owned a parcel of land covered by TCT No. 64729,
located in Rizal Avenue Extension, Sta. Cruz, Manila. Alleging that Jose had
fraudulently registered it in his name alone, his sisters Nicolasa and Amanda
(now respondents herein), sued Jose for recovery of 2/3 share of the property.
[3]
On April 20, 1981, the trial court in that case decided in favor of the sisters,
recognizing their right of ownership over portions of the property covered by
TCT No. 64729. The Register of Deeds of Manila was required to include the
names of Nicolasa and Amanda in the certificate of title to said property. [4]
Jose died intestate on February 6, 1984. On August 5, 1987, respondents
filed a complaint for recovery of title, ownership, and possession against
herein petitioner, Ida C. Labagala, before the Regional Trial Court of Manila, to
recover from her the 1/3 portion of said property pertaining to Jose but which
came into petitioners sole possession upon Joses death.
Respondents alleged that Joses share in the property belongs to them by
operation of law, because they are the only legal heirs of their brother, who
died intestate and without issue. They claimed that the purported sale of the
property made by their brother to petitioner sometime in March 1979 [5] was
executed through petitioners machinations and with malicious intent, to
enable her to secure the corresponding transfer certificate of title (TCT No.
172334[6]) in petitioners name alone.[7]

Respondents insisted that the deed of sale was a forgery. The deed
showed that Jose affixed his thumbmark thereon but respondents averred
that, having been able to graduate from college, Jose never put his
thumbmark on documents he executed but always signed his name in
full. They claimed that Jose could not have sold the property belonging to his
poor and unschooled sisters who sacrificed for his studies and personal
welfare.[8] Respondents also pointed out that it is highly improbable for
petitioner to have paid the supposed consideration of P150,000 for the sale of
the subject property because petitioner was unemployed and without any
visible means of livelihood at the time of the alleged sale. They also stressed
that it was quite unusual and questionable that petitioner registered the deed
of sale only on January 26, 1987, or almost eight years after the execution of
the sale.[9]
On the other hand, petitioner claimed that her true name is not Ida C.
Labagala as claimed by respondent but Ida C. Santiago. She claimed not to
know any person by the name of Ida C. Labagala. She claimed to be the
daughter of Jose and thus entitled to his share in the subject property. She
maintained that she had always stayed on the property, ever since she was a
child. She argued that the purported sale of the property was in fact a
donation to her, and that nothing could have precluded Jose from putting his
thumbmark on the deed of sale instead of his signature. She pointed out that
during his lifetime, Jose never acknowledged respondents claim over the
property such that respondents had to sue to claim portions thereof. She
lamented that respondents had to disclaim her in their desire to obtain
ownership of the whole property.
Petitioner revealed that respondents had in 1985 filed two ejectment
cases against her and other occupants of the property. The first was decided
in her and the other defendants favor, while the second was dismissed. Yet
respondents persisted and resorted to the present action.
Petitioner recognized respondents ownership of 2/3 of the property as
decreed by the RTC. But she averred that she caused the issuance of a title in
her name alone, allegedly after respondents refused to take steps that would
prevent the property from being sold by public auction for their failure to pay
realty taxes thereon. She added that with a title issued in her name she could
avail of a realty tax amnesty.
On October 17, 1990, the trial court ruled in favor of petitioner, decreeing
thus:

11

WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered recognizing the plaintiffs [herein


respondents] as being entitled to the ownership and possession each of onethird (1/3) pro indiviso share of the property originally covered by Transfer
Certificate of Title No. 64729, in the name of Jose T. Santiago and presently
covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. 172334, in the name of herein
defendant [herein petitioner] and which is located at No. 3075-A Rizal Avenue
Extension, Sta. Cruz, Manila, as per complaint, and the adjudication to
plaintiffs per decision in Civil Case No. 56226 of this Court, Branch VI, and the
remaining one-third (1/3) pro indiviso share adjudicated in said decision to
defendant Jose T. Santiago in said case, is hereby adjudged and adjudicated to
herein defendant as owner and entitled to possession of said share. The Court
does not see fit to adjudge damages, attorneys fees and costs. Upon finality of
this judgment, Transfer Certificate of Title No. 172334 is ordered cancelled and
a new title issued in the names of the two (2) plaintiffs and the defendant as
owners in equal shares, and the Register of Deeds of Manila is so directed to
effect the same upon payment of the proper fees by the parties herein.
SO ORDERED.[10]
According to the trial court, while there was indeed no consideration for
the deed of sale executed by Jose in favor of petitioner, said deed constitutes
a valid donation. Even if it were not, petitioner would still be entitled to Joses
1/3 portion of the property as Joses daughter. The trial court ruled that the
following evidence shows petitioner to be the daughter of Jose: (1) the
decisions in the two ejectment cases filed by respondents which stated that
petitioner is Joses daughter, and (2) Joses income tax return which listed
petitioner as his daughter. It further said that respondents knew of petitioners
existence and her being the daughter of Jose, per records of the earlier
ejectment cases they filed against petitioner. According to the court,
respondents were not candid with the court in refusing to recognize petitioner
as Ida C. Santiago and insisting that she was Ida C. Labagala, thus affecting
their credibility.
Respondents appealed to the Court of Appeals, which reversed the
decision of the trial court.
WHEREFORE, the appealed decision is REVERSED and one is entered declaring
the appellants Nicolasa and Amanda Santiago the co-owners in equal shares
of the one-third (1/3) pro indiviso share of the late Jose Santiago in the land
and building covered by TCT No. 172334. Accordingly, the Register of Deeds of
Manila is directed to cancel said title and issue in its place a new one
reflecting this decision.
SO ORDERED.

Apart from respondents testimonies, the appellate court noted that the
birth certificate of Ida Labagala presented by respondents showed that Ida
was born of different parents, not Jose and his wife. It also took into account
the statement made by Jose in Civil Case No. 56226 that he did not have any
child.
Hence, the present petition wherein the following issues are raised for
consideration:
1. Whether or not petitioner has adduced preponderant evidence to
prove that she is the daughter of the late Jose T. Santiago, and
2. Whether or not respondents could still impugn the filiation of the
petitioner as the daughter of the late Jose T. Santiago.
Petitioner contends that the trial court was correct in ruling that she had
adduced sufficient evidence to prove her filiation by Jose Santiago, making her
his sole heir and thus entitled to inherit his 1/3 portion. She points out that
respondents had, before the filing of the instant case, previously
considered[11] her as the daughter of Jose who, during his lifetime, openly
regarded her as his legitimate daughter.She asserts that her identification as
Joses daughter in his ITR outweighs the strange answers he gave when he
testified in Civil Case No. 56226.
Petitioner asserts further that respondents cannot impugn her filiation
collaterally, citing the case of Sayson v. Court of Appeals[12] in which we held
that (t)he legitimacy of (a) child can be impugned only in a direct action
brought for that purpose, by the proper parties and within the period limited
by law.[13] Petitioner also cites Article 263 of the Civil Code in support of this
contention.[14]
For their part, respondents contend that petitioner is not the daughter of
Jose, per her birth certificate that indicate her parents as Leo Labagala and
Cornelia Cabrigas, instead of Jose Santiago and Esperanza Cabrigas. [15] They
argue that the provisions of Article 263 of the Civil Code do not apply to the
present case since this is not an action impugning a childs legitimacy but one
for recovery of title, ownership, and possession of property.
The issues for resolution in this case, to our mind, are (1) whether or not
respondents may impugn petitioners filiation in this action for recovery of title
and possession; and (2) whether or not petitioner is entitled to Joses 1/3
portion of the property he co-owned with respondents, through succession,
sale, or donation.

12

On the first issue, we find petitioners reliance on Article 263 of the Civil
Code to be misplaced. Said article provides:
Art. 263. The action to impugn the legitimacy of the child shall be brought
within one year from the recording of the birth in the Civil Register, if the
husband should be in the same place, or in a proper case, any of his heirs.
If he or his heirs are absent, the period shall be eighteen months if they
should reside in the Philippines; and two years if abroad. If the birth of the
child has been concealed, the term shall be counted from the discovery of the
fraud.
This article should be read in conjunction with the other articles in the
same chapter on paternity and filiation in the Civil Code. A careful reading of
said chapter would reveal that it contemplates situations where a doubt exists
that a child is indeed a mans child by his wife, and the husband (or, in proper
cases, his heirs) denies the childs filiation. It does not refer to situations where
a child is alleged not to be the child at all of a particular couple. [16]
Article 263 refers to an action to impugn the legitimacy of a child, to
assert and prove that a person is not a mans child by his wife. However, the
present case is not one impugning petitioners legitimacy. Respondents are
asserting not merely that petitioner is not a legitimate child of Jose, but that
she is not a child of Jose at all. [17] Moreover, the present action is one for
recovery of title and possession, and thus outside the scope of Article 263 on
prescriptive periods.
Petitioners reliance on Sayson is likewise improper. The factual milieu
present in Sayson does not obtain in the instant case. What was being
challenged by petitioners in Sayson was (1) the validity of the adoption of
Delia and Edmundo by the deceased Teodoro and Isabel Sayson, and (2) the
legitimate status of Doribel Sayson. While asserting that Delia and Edmundo
could not have been validly adopted since Doribel had already been born to
the Sayson couple at the time, petitioners at the same time made the
conflicting claim that Doribel was not the child of the couple. The Court ruled
in that case that it was too late to question the decree of adoption that
became final years before. Besides, such a challenge to the validity of the
adoption cannot be made collaterally but in a direct proceeding. [18]
In this case, respondents are not assailing petitioners legitimate status
but are, instead, asserting that she is not at all their brothers child. The birth
certificate presented by respondents support this allegation.
We agree with the Court of Appeals that::

The Certificate of Record of Birth (Exhibit H)[19] plainly states that Ida was the
child of the spouses Leon Labagala and [Cornelia] Cabrigas. This document
states that it was Leon Labagala who made the report to the Local Civil
Registrar and therefore the supplier of the entries in said
Certificate. Therefore, this certificate is proof of the filiation of Ida. Appellee
however denies that Exhibit H is her Birth Certificate. She insists that she is
not Ida Labagala but Ida Santiago. If Exhibit H is not her birth certificate, then
where is hers? She did not present any though it would have been the easiest
thing to do considering that according to her baptismal certificate she was
born in Manila in 1969. This court rejects such denials and holds that Exhibit H
is the certificate of the record of birth of appellee Ida
Against such evidence, the appellee Ida could only present her testimony and
a baptismal certificate (Exhibit 12) stating that appellees parents were Jose
Santiago and Esperanza Cabrigas. But then, a decisional rule in evidence
states that a baptismal certificate is not a proof of the parentage of the
baptized person. This document can only prove the identity of the baptized,
the date and place of her baptism, the identities of the baptismal sponsors
and the priest who administered the sacrament -- nothing more. [20] (Citations
omitted.)
At the pre-trial conducted on August 11, 1988, petitioners counsel
admitted that petitioner did not have a birth certificate indicating that she is
Ida Santiago, though she had been using this name all her life. [21]
Petitioner opted not to present her birth certificate to prove her
relationship with Jose and instead offered in evidence her baptismal
certificate.[22] However, as we held in Heirs of Pedro Cabais v. Court of
Appeals:
a baptismal certificate is evidence only to prove the administration of the
sacrament on the dates therein specified, but not the veracity of the
declarations therein stated with respect to [a persons] kinsfolk.The same
is conclusive only of the baptism administered, according to the rites of
the Catholic Church, by the priest who baptized subject child, but it does
not prove the veracity of the declarations and statements contained in
the certificate concerning the relationship of the person baptized. [23]
A baptismal certificate, a private document, is not conclusive proof of
filiation.[24] More so are the entries made in an income tax return, which only
shows that income tax has been paid and the amount thereof. [25]
We note that the trial court had asked petitioner to secure a copy of her
birth certificate but petitioner, without advancing any reason therefor, failed

13

to do so. Neither did petitioner obtain a certification that no record of her birth
could be found in the civil registry, if such were the case. We find petitioners
silence concerning the absence of her birth certificate telling. It raises doubt
as to the existence of a birth certificate that would show petitioner to be the
daughter of Jose Santiago and Esperanza Cabrigas. Her failure to show her
birth certificate would raise the presumption that if such evidence were
presented, it would be adverse to her claim. Petitioners counsel argued that
petitioner had been using Santiago all her life. However, use of a family name
certainly does not establish pedigree.
Further, we note that petitioner, who claims to be Ida Santiago, has the
same birthdate as Ida Labagala. [26] The similarity is too uncanny to be a mere
coincidence.
During her testimony before the trial court, petitioner denied knowing
Cornelia Cabrigas, who was listed as the mother in the birth certificate of Ida
Labagala. In her petition before this Court, however, she stated that Cornelia
is the sister of her mother, Esperanza. It appears that petitioner made
conflicting statements that affect her credibility and could cast a long shadow
of doubt on her claims of filiation.
Thus, we are constrained to agree with the factual finding of the Court of
Appeals that petitioner is in reality the child of Leon Labagala and Cornelia
Cabrigas, and contrary to her averment, not of Jose Santiago and Esperanza
Cabrigas. Not being a child of Jose, it follows that petitioner can not inherit
from him through intestate succession. It now remains to be seen whether the
property in dispute was validly transferred to petitioner through sale or
donation.
On the validity of the purported deed of sale, however, we agree with the
Court of Appeals that:
This deed is shot through and through with so many intrinsic defects that
a reasonable mind is inevitably led to the conclusion that it is fake. The
intrinsic defects are extractable from the following questions: a) If Jose
Santiago intended to donate the properties in question to Ida, what was
the big idea of hiding the nature of the contract in the faade of the sale?
b) If the deed is a genuine document, how could it have happened that
Jose Santiago who was of course fully aware that he owned only 1/3 pro
indiviso of the properties covered by his title sold or donated the whole
properties to Ida? c) Why in heavens name did Jose Santiago, a college
graduate, who always signed his name in documents requiring his
signature (citation omitted) [affix] his thumbmark on this deed of sale? d)
If Ida was [the] child of Jose Santiago, what was the sense of the latter

donating his properties to her when she would inherit them anyway upon
his death? e) Why did Jose Santiago affix his thumbmark to a deed which
falsely stated that: he was single (for he was earlier married to Esperanza
Cabrigas); Ida was of legal age (for [s]he was then just 15 years old); and
the subject properties were free from liens and encumbrances (for Entry
No. 27261, Notice of Adverse Claim and Entry No. 6388, Notice of Lis
Pendens were already annotated in the title of said properties). If the
deed was executed in 1979, how come it surfaced only in 1984 after the
death of Jose Santiago and of all people, the one in possession was the
baptismal sponsor of Ida?[27]
Clearly, there is no valid sale in this case. Jose did not have the right to
transfer ownership of the entire property to petitioner since 2/3 thereof
belonged to his sisters.[28] Petitioner could not have given her consent to the
contract, being a minor at the time. [29] Consent of the contracting parties is
among the essential requisites of a contract,[30] including one of sale, absent
which there can be no valid contract.Moreover, petitioner admittedly did not
pay any centavo for the property,[31] which makes the sale void. Article 1471
of the Civil Code provides:
Art. 1471. If the price is simulated, the sale is void, but the act may be shown
to have been in reality a donation, or some other act or contract.
Neither may the purported deed of sale be
donation. Again, as explained by the Court of Appeals:

valid

deed

of

Even assuming that the deed is genuine, it cannot be a valid donation. It lacks
the acceptance of the donee required by Art. 725 of the Civil Code. Being a
minor in 1979, the acceptance of the donation should have been made by her
father, Leon Labagala or [her] mother Cornelia Cabrigas or her legal
representative pursuant to Art. 741 of the same Code. No one of those
mentioned in the law - in fact no one at all - accepted the donation for Ida. [32]
In sum, we find no reversible error attributable to the assailed decision of
the Court of Appeals, hence it must be upheld.
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED, and the decision of the Court of
Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 32817 is AFFIRMED.
Costs against petitioner.
SO ORDERED.

14

Bellosillo, (Chairman), Mendoza, and De Leon, Jr., JJ., concur.


Buena J., on official leave.

15

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 obstetriciangynecologist, 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

16

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.

17

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

18

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 Paraaque, 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

19

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,

20

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.

21

G.R. No. 108366 February 16, 1994


JOHN PAUL E. FERNANDEZ, ET AL., petitioners,
vs.
THE COURT OF APPEALS and CARLITO S. FERNANDEZ, respondents.
Erlinda B. Espejo for petitioners.
C.B. Carbon & Associates for private respondent.

PUNO, J.:
The legal dispute between the parties began when the petitioners filed Civil
Case No. Q-45567 for support against the private respondent before the RTC
of Quezon City. The complaint was dismissed on December 9, 1986 by Judge
Antonio P. Solano, 1 who found that "(t)here is nothing in the material
allegations in the complaint that seeks to compel (private respondent) to
recognize or acknowledge (petitioners) as his illegitimate children," and that
there was no sufficient and competent evidence to prove the petitioners
filiation. 2
Petitioners plodded on. On February 19, 1987, they file the case at bench,
another action for recognition and support against the private respondent
before another branch of the RTC of Quezon City, Branch 87. The case was
docketed as Civil Case No. Q-50111.
The evidence shows that VIOLETA P. ESGUERRA, single, is the mother and
guardian ad litem of the two petitioners, CLARO ANTONIO FERNANDEZ and
JOHN PAUL FERNANDEZ, met sometime in 1983, at the Meralco Compound
tennis courts. A Meralco employee and a tennis enthusiast, Carlito used to
spend his week-ends regularly at said courts, where Violeta's father served as
tennis instructor.
Violeta pointed to Carlito as the father of her two sons. She claimed that they
started their illicit sexual relationship six (6) months after their first meeting.
The tryst resulted in the birth of petitioner Claro Antonio on March 1, 1984,
and of petitioner John Paul on not know that Carlito was married until the birth
of her two children. She averred they were married in civil rites in October,
1983. In March, 1985, however, she discovered that the marriage license
which they used was spurious.

To bolster their case, petitioners presented the following documentary


evidence: their certificates of live birth, identifying respondent Carlito as their
father; the baptismal certificate of petitioner Claro which also states that his
father is respondent Carlito; photographs of Carlito taken during the baptism
of petitioner Claro; and pictures of respondent Carlito and Claro taken at the
home of Violeta Esguerra.
Petitioners likewise presented as witnesses, Rosario Cantoria, 3 Dr. Milagros
Villanueva, 4 Ruby Chua Cu, 5 and Fr. Liberato Fernandez. 6 The first three
witnesses told the trial court that Violeta Esguerra had, at different
times, 7 introduced the private respondent to them as her "husband". Fr.
Fernandez, on the other hand, testified that Carlito was the one who
presented himself as the father of petitioner Claro during the latter's baptism.
In defense, respondent Carlito denied Violeta's allegations that he sired the
two petitioners. He averred he only served as one of the sponsors in the
baptism of petitioner Claro. This claim was corroborated by the testimony of
Rodante Pagtakhan, an officemate of respondent Carlito who also stood as a
sponsor of petitioner Claro during his baptism. The Private respondent also
presented as witness, Fidel Arcagua, a waiter of the Lighthouse Restaurant. He
disputed Violeta's allegation that she and respondent Carlito frequented the
said restaurant during their affair. Arcagua stated he never saw Violeta
Esguerra and respondent Carlito together at the said restaurant. Private
respondent also declared he only learned he was named in the birth
certificates of both petitioners as their father after he was sued for support in
Civil Case No.
Q-45567.
Based on the evidence adduced by the parties, the trial court ruled in favor of
petitioners, viz.:
In view of the above, the Court concludes and so holds that the plaintiffs
minors (petitioners herein) are entitled to the relief's prayed for in the
complaint. The defendant (herein private respondent) is hereby ordered to
recognize Claro Antonio Carlito Fernandez, now aged 6, and John Paul
Fernandez, now aged 41/2 as his sons. As the defendant has admitted that he
has a supervisory job at the Meralco, he shall give the plaintiffs support in the
amount of P2,000 each a month, payment to be delivered to Violeta Esguerra,
the children's mother and natural guardian, with arrears reckoned as of the
filing of the complaint on February 19, 1987.
SO ORDERED.

22

On appeal, the decision was set aside and petitioners complaint dismissed by
the respondent Court of Appeals 8in its impugned decision, dated October 20,
1992. It found that the "proof relied upon by the (trial) court (is) inadequate to
prove the (private respondent's) paternity and filiation of (petitioners)." It
further held that the doctrine of res judicata applied because of the dismissal
of the petitioners complaint in Civil Case No. Q-45567. Petitioners' motion for
reconsideration was denied on December 22, 1992.
Petitioners now contend that the respondent appellate court erred in: (1) not
giving full faith and credit to the testimony in of Violeta Esguerra; (2) not
giving weight and value to the testimony of Father Liberato Fernandez; (3) not
giving probative value to the numerous pictures of respondent Carlito
Fernandez taken during the baptismal ceremony and inside the bedroom of
Violeta Esguerra; (4) not giving probative value to the birth certificates of
petitioners; (5) giving so much credence to the self-serving and incredible
testimony of respondent Carlito Fernandez; and (6) holding that the principle
of res judicata is applicable in the case at bar.
We find no merit in the petition.
The rule is well-settled that findings of facts of the Court of Appeals may be
reviewed by this court only under exceptional circumstances. One such
situation is when the findings of the appellate court clash with those of the
trial court as in the case at bench. It behooves us therefore to exercise our
extraordinary power, and settle the issue of whether the ruling of the
appellate court that private respondent is not the father of the petitioners is
substantiated by the evidence on record.
We shall first examine the documentary evidence offered by the petitioners
which the respondent court rejected as insufficient to prove their filiation.
Firstly, we hold that petitioners cannot rely on the photographs showing the
presence of the private respondent in the baptism of petitioner Claro (Exh. "B8", Exh. "B-12", Exh. "H" and Exh. "I"). These photographs are far from proofs
that private respondent is the father of petitioner Claro. As explained by the
private respondent, he was in the baptism as one of the sponsors of petitioner
Claro. His testimony was corroborated by Rodante Pagtakhan.
Secondly, the pictures taken in the house of Violeta showing private
respondent showering affection to Claro fall short of the evidence required to
prove paternity (Exhibits "B", "B-1", "B-2", "B-7", "B-14" and "B-15"). As we
held in Tan vs. Trocio, 192 SCRA 764, viz:
. . . The testimonies of complainant and witness Marilou
Pangandaman, another maid, to show unusual closeness

between Respondent and Jewel, like playing with him and


giving him paternity. The same must be said of . . . (the)
pictures of Jewels and Respondent showing allegedly their
physical likeness to each other. Said evidence is inconclusive
to prove paternity and much less would prove violation of
complaint's person and honor. (Emphasis supplied)
Thirdly, the baptismal certificates (Exh. "D") of petitioner Claro naming private
respondent as his father has scant evidentiary value. There is no showing that
private respondent participated in its preparation. On this score, we held
in Berciles vs. Systems, et al. 128 SCRA 53 (1984):
As to the baptismal certificates, Exh. "7-A", the rule is that although the
baptismal record of a natural child describes her as a child of the record the
decedent had no intervening, the baptismal record cannot be held to be a
voluntary recognition of parentage. . . . The reason for this rule that canonical
records do not constitute the authentic document prescribed by Arts. 115 and
117 to prove the legitimate filiation of a child is that such canonical record is
simply proof of the only act to which the priest may certify by reason of his
personal knowledge, an act done by himself or in his presence, like the
administration of the sacrament upon a day stated; it is no proof of the
declarations in the record with respect to the parentage of the child baptized,
or of prior and distinct facts which require separate and concrete evidence.
In Macandang vs. Court of Appeals, 100 SCRA 73 (1980), we also ruled that
while baptismal certificates may be considered public documents, they can
only serve as evidence of the administration of the sacraments on the dates
so specified. They are not necessarily competent evidence of the veracity of
entries therein with respect to the child's paternity.
Fourth, the certificates of live birth (Exh. "A"; Exh. "B") of the petitioners
identifying private respondent as their father are not also competent evidence
on the issue of their paternity. Again, the records do no show that private
respondent had a hand in the preparation of said certificates. In rejecting
these certificates, the ruling of the respondent court is in accord with our
pronouncement in Roces vs. Local Civil Registrar, 102 Phil. 1050 (1958),viz:
. . . Section 5 of Act No. 3793 and Article 280 of the Civil Code of the
Philippines explicity prohibited, not only the naming of the father or the child
born outside wedlock, when the birth certificates, or the recognition, is not
filed or made by him, but, also, the statement of any information or
circumstances by which he could be identified. Accordingly, the Local Civil
Registrar had no authority to make or record the paternity of an illegitimate
child upon the information of a third person and the certificate of birth of an

23

illegitimate child, when signed only by the mother of the latter, is incompetent
evidence of fathership of said child. (Emphasis supplied)
We reiterated this rule in Berciles, op. cit., when we held that "a birth
certificate no signed by the alleged father therein indicated is not competent
evidence of paternity."

However, on cross examination, Father Fernandez admitted that he has to be


shown a picture of the private respondent by Violeta Esguerra to recognize the
private respondent, viz:
Q When was the, approximately, when you were first shown this picture by
Violeta Esguerra?

We have also reviewed the relevant testimonies of the witnesses for the
petitioners and we are satisfied that the respondent appellate court properly
calibrated their weight. Petitioners capitalize on the testimony of Father
Liberato Fernandez who solemnized the baptismal ceremony of petitioner
Claro. He declared on the witness stand:

A I cannot recall.

Q Do you recall Father, whether on that occasion when you called for the
father and the mother of the child, that both father and mother were present?

Q What month in 1986.

Q At least the month and the year?


A It must be in 1986.

A It is difficult. . .

A Yes.
Q Would you able to recognized the father and the mother who were present
at that time?
A Yes.
Q Please point to the court?
A There (witness pointing to the defendant, Carlito Fernandez).
Q For instance, just give us more specifically what question do you remember
having asked him?
A Yes, like for example, do you renounce Satan and his works?
Q What was the answer of Fernandez?

Q When was the first time you know you are going to testify here?
A Let us see, you came there two times and first one was you want to get a
baptismal certificate and then the second time was I asked you for what is
this? And you said it is for the court.
Q On the second time that Ms. Violeta Esguerra went to your place, you were
already informed that you will testify here before this Honorable Court?
A Yes.
Q And you were informed by this Ms. Violeta Esguerra that this man wearing
the blue T-shirt is the father?
A Yes, sir.
Q So, it was Violeta Esguerra who. . .

A Yes, I do.
Q I just want to be sure, Father, will you please look at the defendant again. I
want to be sure if he is the person who appeared before you on that occasion?
A I am sure.
(TSN, May 23, 1986, pp. 14-16)

A Yes.
(TSN, May 23, 1986, pp. 18 to 22)
Indeed, there is no proof that Father Fernandez is a close friend of Violeta
Esguerra and the private respondent which should render unquestionable his
identification of the private respondent during petitioner Claro's baptism. In

24

the absence of this proof, we are not prepared to concede that Father
Fernandez who officiates numerous baptismal ceremonies day in and day out
can remember the parents of the children he has baptized.
We cannot also disturb the findings of the respondent court on the credibility
of Violeta Esguerra. Her testimony is highly suspect as it is self-serving and by
itself, is insufficient to prove the paternity of the petitioners.
We shall not pass upon the correctness of the ruling of the respondent
appellate court applying the doctrine of res judicata as additional reason in
dismissing petitioners action for recognition and support. It is unnecessary
considering our findings that petitioners evidence failed to substantiate their
cause of action.
IN VIEW WHEREOF, the petition is DISMISSED and the Decision of the
respondent court in CA-G.R. CV No. 29182 is AFFIRMED. Costs against
petitioners.
SO ORDERED.
Narvasa, C.J., Padilla, Regalado, and Nocon, JJ., concur.

25

G.R. No. 109144 August 19, 1994


PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,
vs.
MORENO L. TUMIMPAD, accused-appellant.
The Solicitor General for plaintiff-appellee.

The Salcedo family, composed of Col. Salcedo, his wife Pastora, his son
Alexander and wife and daughter Sandra, lived in a two-storey officers'
quarters inside Camp Lucas Naranjo, Provincial Headquarters, in Oroquieta
City. The upper storey of the house was occupied by Col. Salcedo, his wife and
Sandra while the lower storey had two (2) rooms, one of which was occupied
by the four security men and the other by Alexander Salcedo and his wife.

Miguel M. Lingating for accused-appellant.

It was on August 7, 1989, when Sandra complained of constipation. Mrs.


Salcedo then brought her to a doctor in Oroquieta City for a checkup.
Medication was given to Sandra but her condition did not improve. Sandra
became irritable and moody. She felt sick and unhappy.

KAPUNAN, J.:

The following day, August 8, 1989, Sandra saw Moreno Tumimpad coming out
from the kitchen and told her mother, "Mama, patayin mo 'yan, bastos." 2

Accused-appellant Constable Moreno L. Tumimpad and co-accused Constable


Ruel C. Prieto were charged with the crime of rape committed against a 15year old Mongoloid child in a complaint dated on May 24, 1991, signed by her
mother, Mrs. Pastora L. Salcedo, which reads:
That during the period between the last week of March 1989
and the first week of April 1989, in Barangay Lower Lamac,
Oroquieta City, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this
Honorable Court, the said accused did then and there, wilfully,
unlawfully and feloniously, have (sic) carnal knowledge with
Sandra Salcedo, complainant's daughter, a woman who is a
mongoloid and so weak of mind and in intellect as to be
capable of giving rational and legal consent. 1
Upon arraignment, accused-appellant pleaded not guilty to the crime charged
and due trial ensued.
The facts as established by evidence are as follows:
Sandra Salcedo at the time of the incident was a 15-year old Mongoloid and
daughter of Lt. Col. Teofisto Salcedo and Pastora Salcedo. She had a mind of a
five-year old child, who still needed to be fed and dressed up. Her vocabulary
was limited and most of the time she expressed herself by motions.
Col. Teofisto Salcedo was then Provincial Commander of Misamis Occidental.
Four security men were assigned to him, two of whom were accused
Constable Ruel Prieto and accused-appellant Moreno Tumimpad.

Mrs. Pastora Salcedo, worried of her daughter's condition, brought her to


Regina Hospital. Sandra was able to relieve herself the following day but still
remained moody and irritable. She refused to take a bath in spite of scoldings
from her mother. She did not want to eat and whenever she did, she would
vomit.
Sandra was brought to a doctor in Oroquieta City for a second checkup. Dr.
Conol, the examining physician, ordered a urinalysis. Jose C. Lim, a Medical
Technologist, conducted the urinalysis. The result revealed that Sandra was
pregnant. 3 Mrs. Pastora Salcedo could not believe that her daughter was
pregnant and so she brought Sandra to Madonna and Child Hospital in
Cagayan de Oro City. Dr. Kho, and OB-GYNE Specialist, examined Sandra and
subjected her to a pelvic ultra-sound examination. The results were positive.
The fetus' gestational age was equivalent to 17.1 weeks. 4 Another ultrasound examination at the United Doctors Medical Center (UDMC) at Quezon
City on September 11, 1989 confirmed that she was indeed pregnant. 5
On January 11, 1990, Sandra gave birth to a baby boy who was named Jacob
Salcedo. Hence, the filing of the complaint 6 by Mrs. Pastora Salcedo.
During the investigation conducted by the CIS, about thirty (30) pictures of
different persons were laid on the table and Sandra was asked to pick up the
pictures of her assailants. Sandra singled out the pictures of Moreno
Tumimpad and Ruel Prieto. 7 Later, Sandra was brought out of the
investigation room to a police line-up of ten people, including Moreno
Tumimpad and Ruel Prieto. She was again asked to point to her assailants.
Without hesitation, Sandra fingered Moreno Tumimpad and Ruel Prieto. 8

26

Mrs. Pastora Salcedo testified that she requested her two daughters-in-law,
Joy Salcedo and Celsa Salcedo, to ask Sandra the identity of the persons who
sexually molested her. 9
Joy confirmed in her testimony that she asked Sandra who sexually molested
her. Sandra revealed that Moreno Tumimpad and Ruel Prieto were the ones
who raped her. Sandra demonstrated how she was raped. First, her thighs
were touched, then she was hugged and her panty was taken off. A push and
pull movement followed. 10Celsa testified that she was present when the
victim demonstrated how she was sexually abused by the two accused,
including the way her nipples were touched saying "dito hawak," and holding
her breasts to emphasize. She likewise went through the motion of removing
her panty, uttering at the same time "hubad panty."
Sandra identified in open court accused Moreno Tumimpad and Ruel Prieto as
the persons who raped her and said she wished them dead, as they did
something bad to her. 11 She once again demonstrated how she was sexually
abused. She held her two thighs with her two hands next to her sexual organ
saying, "panty" and then placed her hand on her breast and gestured as if she
were sucking. She also touched her private organ and made a push and pull
movement.12
During the trial, the accused moved that a blood test, both "Major Blood
Grouping Test" and "Pheno Blood Typing" be conducted on the offended party,
her child Jacob and the two accused. The result of the test conducted by the
Makati Medical Center showed that Jacob Salcedo has a type "O" blood,
Sandra Salcedo type "B", accused Ruel Prieto type "A" and accused-appellant
type "O".
Both accused anchored their defense on mere denial contending that it was
impossible for them to have committed the crime of rape.
After trial on the merits, the trial court convicted Moreno Tumimpad of the
crime charged but acquitted the other accused, Ruel Prieto, on reasonable
doubt, stating that he "has a different type of blood with (sic) the child Jacob
Salcedo as his type of blood is "A", while that of child Jacob Salcedo is
type "O".
The dispositive portion of the decision reads:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Court finds the accused, PO1 Moreno
Tumimpad, guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Rape, as charged
in the information, and pursuant to the provisions of Article 335 of the Revised
Penal Code, as amended, there being no aggravating nor mitigating

circumstance attendant in the commission of the crime, said accused Moreno


Tumimpad is hereby sentenced to suffer the penalty of RECLUSION PERPETUA;
to indemnify the offended girl, Sandra Salcedo, in the amount of P20,000.00;
and to suffer the other accessory penalties provided for by laws; and to pay
the costs of the proceedings.
On reasonable doubt, accused Ruel Prieto is hereby declared
ACQUITTED from the charge.
SO ORDERED.

13

Accused-appellant assigns the following as errors of the lower court:


1. The lower court erred in not appreciating the impossibility of
committing the offense charged without detection.
2. The lower court erred in convicting the accused-appellant base on
major blood grouping test known as ABO and RHS test, not a paternal test
known as chromosomes or HLA test.
The appeal is devoid of merit.
Accused-appellant argues that it was impossible for him to have committed
the crime of rape because most of the time he and his co-accused Ruel Prieto
were together with Col. Salcedo on inspection tours while the victim was
always in the company of her mother. He further contends that it was likewise
impossible for Sandra, if she had really been molested, not to have shouted
out of pain, she being a virgin. As if adding insult to injury, accused-appellant
suggests that it was Sandra's brother, Cristopher Salcedo, allegedly a drug
user, who could have raped her.
We are not convinced.
It is true that the accused usually went with Col. Salcedo during inspection
tours but sometimes they were left behind and would play pingpong or card
games with Sandra at the ground floor of the house. While Sandra was always
with her mother, there were times when she was left alone in the house with
the accused. 14
Mrs. Pastora Salcedo testified:
Q How many security men remain if you can recall when your husband
reported for work?

27

A Two (2).
Q Who were these security men who remained?
A Moreno Tumimpad and Ruel Prieto.
Q How about the 2 other security men Tanggan and Colaljo?
A My husband sent (sic) them for an errand and sometime they used to go
with my husband to the office.
Q Every time when your husband is out what they do while they were (sic) at
the headquarter?
A I saw them sleeping and sometime they were playing at the porch with my
daughter Sandra playing pingpong and sometime they were listening music.
Q Where did they play usually take place?
A Living room.

15

xxx xxx xxx


Q By the say, (sic) Mrs. Salcedo, you said a while ago when you were at the
headquarters you were able to do your choirs, (sic) doing laundry jobs in the
second storey of your house. Do you know where is your daughter Sandra at
that time?
A Yes, she spent her time at the second floor.
Q What part of the ground floor she used (sic) to stay?
A Because she is found (sic) of music she stay in the living room.

The following is the victim's own testimony:


PROS. RAMOS:
Will you please demonstrate before this Honorable Court what Moreno and
Ruel did to you?
RECORD:
The witness when she stood up held both her thighs (sic) with her two hand
(sic) down to her sexual organ saying a word "panty" and she placed her hand
on her breast and did something as if sucking and held her private part (sic)
and did a push and pull movement and she cried.
Q When you said that there was a push and pull movement of the body and
when this was being done did you feel pain?
A Yes pain.
Q What part of your body is painful?
RECORD:
The witness touching her private parts.
Q Did you also see blood on your sexual organ?

Q Did she has (sic) any playmates?

A Yes.

A Moreno and Prieto.


Q Have you seen actually the 2 accused playing with your daughter?
A Yes, playing pingpong and playing cards.

The victim more than once positively identified accused-appellant Moreno


Tumimpad as one of the perpetrators of the crime. First, during the
investigation conducted by the CIS, Sandra singled out accused-appellant and
his co-accused from among the thirty (30) pictures of different persons shown
to her. Second, at the police lineup of several persons, likewise conducted by
the CIS, Sandra once again unerringly pointed accused-appellant and his coaccused as the ones who raped her. Third, in open court, Sandra without
hesitation, pointed to accused- appellant as the perpetrator of the crime.

16

Q Where did you see these blood?


RECORD:

28

The witness touching her private parts.

A Yes.

Q When this push and pull movement was being made, did you see a man's
organ?

Q What part of your house did Moreno and Ruel remove your panty?
A Downstairs Moreno and Ruel remove panty.

A Yes sir.
Q What part of the ground floor, was it outside or inside the room?
Q Where did you see this male organ?
A In the room.
A Witness touching her private part.
Q Who did this to you, who removed your panty?

Q When (sic) Moreno and Ruel are inside the courtroom now, can you point to
them?

A Moreno and Ruel.

A Yes.

Q Did you see Moreno taking off his pants?

Q Will you please point to them?

A Yes.

PROS. RAMOS:

Q Did you see his sex organ?

May we request the accused to stand up your honor?

A The witness touching her private parts.

RECORD:

Q How about this Ruel, did you see if he taken (sic) off his pants?

Both accused stood up from where they were sitting inside the courtroom.

A Yes.

PROS. RAMOS:

Q Did you see his sex organ?

Who is that person (prosecutor Ramos point to accused Moreno Tumimpad)?

A Yes, witness again touching her private part.

A Moreno.

Q Both of them?

RECORD:

A Yes.

The witness pointing to a certain person who is standing and when asked what
is his name, he readily answered that he is Moreno Tumimpad.

Q Where did Moreno and Ruel removed (sic) your panty?


PROS. RAMOS:
A Moreno.
Who is that person standing besides Moreno?
Q In your house?
A Joel.

29

PROS. RAMOS:

Q And what was the question being asked by Celsa to Sandra Salcedo?

If your honor please, she could not pronounced (sic) well the word Ruel but
the way she called this name is Joel which refers to the same person who is
one of the accused in this case. 17

A Celsa asked Sandra Salcedo as to what other things that these two had
done to her?
Q And what if any did Sandra Salcedo tell you as to what was done to her?

Melinda Joy Salcedo, the victim's sister-in-law, testified that Sandra


demonstrated to her how she was ravished by the two accused, thus:
Q Now, will you please tell us what did Sandra Salcedo told (sic) you as to how
she was abused?
A By what she had stated there were also actions that she made.
Q Will you please demonstrate to this Honorable Court how did Sandra
Salcedo was abused as narrated or demonstrated to you by Sandra Salcedo?
A According to her she was held in her thigh and then she was hugged and
then the panty was taken off and making a push and pull movement (witness
demonstration by holding her thigh)?
Q Now, after Sandra Salcedo told you and demonstrated to you how she was
abused. What else did Sandra Salcedo tell you if she had told you any more
matter?
A She did not say anything more.
Q Now, when Sandra Salcedo refused to talk or say anything else. What
happened next?
A Then it was Celsa who asked her.
Q Where were you when Celsa asked Sandra Salcedo?
A I was just beside her.
Q You said that after Sandra Salcedo refused to talk, Celsa did the
questioning, did you hear the question being asked by Celsa to Sandra
Salcedo?
A Yes.

A By way of talking and action.


Q And what was the answer of Sandra Salcedo?
A He (sic) answered it by action and talking.
Q And what was the answer of Sandra Salcedo as related by her to Celsa
through words and action?
RECORD:
The witness demonstrated by holding his (sic) nipple going down to her thigh.
Q What else had transpired next?
A No more.
Q Now, whenever Sandra Salcedo mentioned the names of accused Moreno
Tumimpad and Ruel Prieto, have you observed whose names was usually
mentioned first by Sandra Salcedo?
A She mentioned first the name of Moreno Tumimpad and Ruel.
Q And what happened after that?
A I informed my mother-in-law of what Sandra Salcedo had told us.
Q When did you tell your mother-in- law about what Sandra Salcedo told you
and Celsa?
A That very evening sir.

18

Accused-appellant simplistically and quite erroneously argues that his


conviction was based on the medical finding that he and the victim have the
same blood type "O".

30

Accused-appellants' culpability was established mainly by testimonial


evidence given by the victim herself and her relatives. The blood test was
adduced as evidence only to show that the alleged father or any one of many
others of the same blood type may have been the father of the child. As held
by this Court in Janice Marie Jao vs. Court of Appeals 19:
Paternity Science has demonstrated that by the analysis of
blood samples of the mother, the child, and the alleged father,
it can be established conclusively that the man is not the
father of a particular child. But group blood testing cannot
show only a possibility that he is. Statutes in many states, and
courts in others, have recognized the value and the limitations
of such tests. Some of the decisions have recognized the
conclusive presumption of non-paternity where the results of
the test, made in the prescribed manner, show the
impossibility of the alleged paternity. This is one of the few
cases in which the judgment of the Court may scientifically be
completely accurate, and intolerable results avoided, such as
have occurred where the finding is allowed to turn on oral
testimony conflicting with the results of the test. The findings
of such blood tests are not admissible to prove the fact of
paternity as they show only a possibility that the alleged
father or any one of many others with the same blood type
may have been the father of the child.
WHEREFORE, accused-appellant's guilt of the crime of rape having been
proven beyond reasonable doubt, the decision appealed from is hereby
AFFIRMED.
SO ORDERED.
Davide, Jr., Bellosillo and Quiason, JJ., concur.
Cruz, J., is on leave.

31

G.R. No. 104376 February 23, 1994


ARTEMIO G. ILANO, petitioner,
vs.
THE COURT OF APPEALS and MERCEDITAS (sic) S. ILANO, represented
by her mother, LEONCIA DE LOS SANTOS, respondent.
Ernesto P. Pangalangan for petitioner.
Eduardo S. Rodriguez for private respondent.

NOCON, J.:
After the great flood, man was commanded to go forth, be fertile, multiply and
fill the earth. Others did not heed the sequence of this command because
they multiply first and then go. Corollarily, it is now commonplace for an
abandoned illegitimate offspring to sue his father for recognition and support.
The antecedent facts are narrated in the trial court's decision, as follows:
Leoncia first met petitioner Artemio G. Ilano while she was working as
secretary to Atty. Mariano C. Virata. Petitioner was one of the clients of
Atty. Virata. On several occasions, she and petitioner took lunch together. In
less that a year's time, she resigned from her work.
Sometime in 1957, Leoncia, then managing a business of her own as Namarco
distributor, met petitioner again who was engaged in the same business and
they renewed acquaintances. Since then, he would give her his unsold
allocation of goods. Later, he courted her more than four years. Their
relationship became intimate and with his promise of marriage, they eloped to
Guagua, Pampanga in April, 1962. They stayed at La Mesa Apartment, located
behind the Filipinas Telephone Company branch office, of which he is the
president and general manager. He came home to her three or four times a
week.
The apartment was procured by Melencio Reyes, Officer-in-Charge of the
Filipinas Telephone Company branch office. He also took care of the marketing
and paid rentals, lights and water bills. 1 Unable to speak the local dialect,
Leoncia was provided also by Melencio with a maid by the name of Nena.
Petitioner used to give her P700.00 a month for their expenses at home.

In June, 1962, Leoncia, who was conceiving at that time, was fetched by
petitioner and they transferred to San Juan St., Pasay City. In October, 1962,
she delivered a still-born female child at the Manila Sanitarium. The death
certificate was signed by petitioner. 2 Thereafter, while they were living at
Highway 54, Makati, private respondent Merceditas S. Ilano was born on
December 30, 1963 also at the Manila Sanitarium. Her birth was recorded as
Merceditas de los Santos Ilano, child of Leoncia Aguinaldo de los Santos and
Artemio Geluz Ilano. 3 Leoncia submitted receipts issued by the Manila
Sanitarium to show that she was confined there from December 30, 1963 until
January 2, 1964 under the name of Mrs. Leoncia Ilano. 4
The support by petitioner for Leoncia and Merceditas was sometimes in the
form of cash personally delivered by him, thru Melencio, thru Elynia (niece of
Leoncia) 5 or thru Merceditas herself; 6 and sometimes in the form of a check
like Manila Banking Corporation Check No. 81532, 7 the signature appearing
thereon having been identified by Leoncia as that of petitioner because he
often gives her checks which he issues at home and saw him sign the
checks. 8 Both petitioner and his daughter admitted that the check and the
signature are those of the former. 9
During the time that petitioner and Leoncia were living as husband and wife,
he showed concern as the father of Merceditas. When Merceditas was in
Grade I at the St. Joseph Parochial School, he signed her Report Card for the
fourth and fifth grading periods 10 as her parent. Those signatures were both
identified by Leoncia and Merceditas because he signed them in their
residence in their presence and of Elynia. 11 Since Merceditas started to have
discernment, he was already the one whom she recognized as her
Daddy. 12 He treated her as a father would to his child. He would bring home
candies, toys, and anything a child enjoys. He would take her for a drive, eat
at restaurants, and even cuddle her to sleep. 13
When petitioner ran as a candidate in the Provincial Board of Cavite, he gave
Leoncia his picture with the following dedication: "To Nene, with best regards,
Temiong." 14
In May, 1963, Ruth Elynia Mabanglo, niece of Leoncia, lived with Leoncia and
petitioner. She accompanied her aunt when she started having labor pains in
the morning of December 30, 1963. Petitioner arrived after five o'clock in the
afternoon. When the nurse came to inquire about the child, Leoncia was still
unconscious so it was from petitioner that the nurse sought the information.
Inasmuch as it was already past seven o'clock in the evening, the nurse
promised to return the following morning for his signature. However, he left an

32

instruction to give birth certificate to Leoncia for her signature, as he was


leaving early the following morning.

working and reporting to the office everyday and when he goes to Guagua or
Manila on business, her mother or brother goes with him.

Prior to the birth of Merceditas, Elynia used to accompany her aunt and
sometimes with petitioner in his car to the Manila Sanitarium for prenatal
check-up. At times, she used to go to his office at 615 Sales St., Sta. Cruz,
Manila, upon his instructions to get money as support and sometimes he
would send notes of explanation if he cannot come which she in turn gave to
her aunt. 15 They stayed at 112 Arellano St., then Sta. Cruz, Manila in 1966
before they finally transferred to Gagalangin in 1967. Petitioner lived with
them up to June, 1971 when he stopped coming home.

Victoria J. Ilano, petitioner's wife, further corroborated the previous


testimonies about petitioner's sickness on December 30, 1963 and
hospitalization on January 7, 1964. It could not be true that her husband,
during the years 1963 to 1968, lived three (3) times a week with a certain
Leoncia de los Santos because her husband never slept out of their house and
that in his capacity as President and Chairman of the Board of the Filipinas
Telephone Company he does not go to Guagua even once a year because they
have a branch manager, Melencio Reyes.

Petitioner's defense was a total and complete denial of any relationship with
Leoncia and Merceditas. He disowned the handwritten answers and signatures
opposite column 16 of the death certificate of a female child surnamed Ilano,
although in column 13 thereof opposite father's name the typewritten name,
Artemio G. Ilano, appears. He also denied the following: all the notes alleged
to have been received from him by Elynia for delivery to Leoncia; the
signatures appearing in Merceditas' Report Card; and being the source of a
photo of himself with a handwritten dedication. He admitted that Manila
Banking Corporation Check No. 81532 including the signature is his. He was
sick on December 30, 1963 and was hospitalized on January 7, 1964. 16 He
does not understand why this case was filed against him. 17

After weighing the contradictory testimonies and evidence of the parties, the
trial court was not fully satisfied that petitioner is the father of Merceditas, on
the basis of the following:

Melencio admitted that he was the one who procured the apartment for
Leoncia, leased it in his name, paid the rentals and bought the necessities
therefor. He and Leoncia lived together and shared the same bed. They later
transferred to San Juan St., Pasay City and to Highway 54, Makati. He stopped
visiting her in March or April, 1963 because he planned to get married with
another which he eventually did in September, 1963.
Diosdado Datu, fish vendor, usually delivered to the apartment fishes ordered
by Melencio which were received by Leoncia.
Nilda Ilano Ramos, daughter of petitioner, does not know Leoncia; neither has
she been brought to their family home in Imus, Cavite. On December 30,
1963, her father was at their home because he got sick on December 25,
1963 and was advised to have a complete bed rest. Her father was
hospitalized on January 7, 1964. She denied that her father was at the Manila
Sanitarium on December 30, 1963; that he fetched a certain woman on
January 2, 1964, at the Manila Sanitarium because he was at their home at
that time; and that her father lived with a certain woman in 1963 up to June,
1971 because all this time he was living with them in Imus, Cavite. He was

1) petitioner and Leoncia were not in cohabitation during the period of


Merceditas' conception;
2) testimony of Melencio that he frequented the apartment where Leoncia was
living, took care of all the bills and shared the same bed with her;
3) the birth certificate of Merceditas was not signed by petitioner;
4) petitioner denied his signature in the monthly report card of Merceditas;
and
5) there is no clear and sufficient showing that support was given by petitioner
to Merceditas.
Thus it rendered judgment on April 24, 1981 dismissing the complaint. 18
Fortunately for private respondent, respondent Court of Appeals did not share
the same view as the trial court. A review of the testimonial and documentary
evidenced adduced by private respondent led respondent court to the firm
conclusion that petitioner is her father, entitling her to support. The
dispositive portion of its decision dated December 17, 1991 reads:
WHEREFORE, the Decision appealed from is REVERSED and
judgment is hereby rendered declaring plaintiff MERCEDITAS
S. ILANO as the duly acknowledged and recognized
illegitimate child of defendant ARTEMIO G. ILANO with all the
right appurtenant to such status.

33

Defendant is directed to pay the plaintiff support in arrears at


the rate of EIGHT HUNDRED (P800.00) PESOS a month from
the date of the filing of the complaint on August 16, 1972 up
to August 15, 1975; ONE THOUSAND (P1,000.00) PESOS a
month from August 16, 1975 to August 15, 1978; ONE
THOUSAND THREE HUNDRED (P1,300.00) PESOS a month
from August 16, 1978 to August 15, 1981; and ONE
THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED (P1,500.00) a month from August
16, 1981 up to the time she reached the age of majority on
December 30, 1984.
Defendant is further ordered to pay the plaintiff the sum of
P10,000.00 as attorney's fees plus the costs.
SO ORDERED. 19
The motion for reconsideration was denied in the resolution dated February
26, 1992. 20
Hence, the present petition.
We shall resolve the following pertinent errors allegedly committed by
respondent court:
1) in awarding "back support" even in the absence of recognition or of a
judgment declaring petitioner father of Merceditas with finality;
2) in not ruling that an adulterous child cannot file an action for recognition;
and
3) in deciding matters of substance manifestly against established decisions
of this Court.
Petitioner argues that since the complaint against him has been dismissed by
the trial court, therefore was absolutely no obligation on his part to give
support to Merceditas. It would have been only from the date of the judgment
of the trial court that support should have commenced, if so granted. Under
the law in force when the complaint was filed, an adulterous child cannot
maintain an action for compulsory recognition. In order that the birth
certificate may constitute a voluntary recognition, it must be signed by the
father. Equivocal act, such as signing under the caption "parent" in the report
card, is not sufficient. Merceditas has never been to the family home of
petitioner at Imus, Cavite; nor introduced to his family; nor brought around

town by him, treated as his child, introduced to other people as his child, led
people to believe that she was part of his family.
The petition utterly lacks merit.
Under the then prevailing provisions of the Civil Code, illegitimate children or
those who are conceived and born out of wedlock were generally classified
into two groups: (1) Natural, whether actual or by fiction, were those born
outside of lawful wedlock of parents who, at the time of conception of the
child, were not disqualified by any impediment to marry each other (Article
119, old Civil Code; Article 269, new Civil Code) and (2) Spurious, whether
incestuous, were disqualified to marry each other on account of certain legal
impediments. 21 Since petitioner had a subsisting marriage to another at the
time Merceditas was conceived, 22 she is a spurious child. In this regard,
Article 287 of the Civil Code provides that illegitimate children other than
natural in accordance with Article 269 23and other than natural children by
legal fiction are entitled to support and such successional rights as are
granted in the Civil Code. The Civil Code has given these rights to them
because the transgressions of social conventions committed by the parents
should not be visited upon them. They were born with a social handicap and
the law should help them to surmount the disadvantages facing them through
the misdeeds of their parents. 24 However, before Article 287 can be availed
of, there must first be a recognition of paternity 25 either voluntarily or by
court action. This arises from the legal principle that an unrecognized spurious
child like a natural child has no rights from his parents or to their estate
because his rights spring not from the filiation or blood relationship but from
his acknowledgment by the parent. In other words, the rights of an illegitimate
child arose not because he was the true or real child of his parents but
because under the law, he had been recognized or acknowledged as such a
child. 26 The relevant law on the matter is Article 283 of the Civil Code, which
provides:
Art. 283. In any of the following cases, the father is obliged to
recognize the child as his natural child:
(1) In cases of rape, abduction or seduction, when the period
of the offense coincides more or less with that of the
conception;
(2) When the child is in continuos possession of status of a
child of the alleged father by the direct acts of the latter or of
his family;

34

(3) When the child was conceived during the time when the
mother cohabited with the supposed father;

in the absence of Artemio whose residence and main office


was in Cavite. There, for the first time, Leoncia met Melencio
(TSN, pp. 3-4, 1/25/74). The apartment in Guagua was rented
in the name of Melencio. As Leoncia does not speak the
Pampango dialect (TSN, p. 50, 8/18/73), Artemio gave Leoncia
the instruction to call upon Melencio for whatever Leoncia
needs (TSN, pp. 11-12, 1/25/74). Thus, it was Melencio who
procured all the supplies and services needed in the
apartment for which procurement Melencio gives to Leoncia
the corresponding receipts of payment for liquidation of cash
advances Artemio or the Guagua Telephone System or Leoncia
herself, gives to Melencio (Exhs. A, A-1 to 14; TSN, p. 32,
8/13/73; TSN, pp. 7, 12 and 14, 1/25/74).

(4) When the child has in his favor any evidence or proof that
the defendant is his father.
While the aforementioned provision speaks of the obligation of the father to
recognize the child as his naturalchild, for the purpose of the present case,
petitioner is obliged to recognize Merceditas as his spurious child. This
provision should be read in conjunction with Article 289 of the Civil Code
which provides:
Art. 289. Investigation of the paternity or maternity of (other
illegitimate) children . . . under the circumstances specified in
articles 283 and 284.

At the Guagua apartment, Artemio would visit Leoncia three of


four times a week and sleeps there (TSN, p. 47, 8/13/73).
Artemio was giving Leoncia an allowance of P700.00 a month
(TSN, p. 38, 7/18/73).

In reversing the decision of the trial court, respondent court found, as it is


likewise our finding, that private respondent's evidence to establish her
filiation with and the paternity of petitioner is too overwhelming to be ignored
or brushed aside by the highly improbable and fatally flawed testimony of
Melencio and the inherently weak denials of petitioner:
Significantly, the Court a quo believed that plaintiff's mother
and defendant carried an intimate relations. It nonetheless
was not satisfied that defendant is the father of the plaintiff
because it is not convinced that her mother and defendant
were in cohabitation during the period of her conception, and
took into account the testimony of Melencio S. Reyes who
frequented the apartment where Leoncia de los Santos was
living and who positively testified that he took care of all the
bills and that he shared the same bed with plaintiffs mother.
The court a quo completely ignored the fact that the
apartment at Guagua was rented by the defendant, and that
Melencio Reyes, who was a mere employee and godson of the
defendant with a monthly salary of P560.00 was a mere
subaltern of the latter, and only frequented the place upon
instruction of the defendant to take care of the needs of the
plaintiff.
As pointed out by appellant, Leoncia and Artemio stayed in an
apartment at the back of the Guagua Telephone System
owned by and of which Artemio was the General Manager
(TSN, p. 46, 8/18/73) and Melencio was the Officer-in-Charge

Leoncia got pregnant and Artemio found it difficult to


commute between Cavite and Guagua so that in June 1962,
Artemio transferred Leoncia to Calle San Juan, Pasay City
(TSN, pp. 19-20, 7/18/73) where they were known as husband
and wife (id. p. 41). In leaving Guagua for San Juan, Pasay
City, Leoncia was fetched by Artemio in a car driven by
Artemio himself. (pp. 9-11, Appellant's Brief)
Even as Artemio and Leoncia lived and transferred to several places
heretofore mentioned, Melencio continued to be a trusted man Friday of
Artemio who would deliver notes (Exhs. "F", "F-1" and "F-3") and money from
Artemio to Leoncia. For reference, among the notes identified by Leoncia as
having come from defendant were the following:
Exh. "F-1"
"Dear Ne,
Magsimula akong makausap ni Gracing ay nagkaroon ako ng diferencia sa paa
at ngayon ay masakit pa.
Si Miling ay ngayon lamang nakarating dito kung hindi ka aalis diyan ay si
Miling na lamang ang utusan mo sa Makati kung may kailangan ka
dian.Sgn.""Mayroon akong nakitang bahay na mayayari malapit sa municipio
ng Makati. Ipakikita ko sa iyo kung papayag ka.

35

Sabihin mo kay Miling kung hindi ka aalis diyan bukas ay pupunta ako.

Having discredited the testimonies of petitioner and Melencio, respondent


court then applied paragraph (2) of Article 283:

Walang makitang bahay sa San Juan.Sgn."Exh. "F-2"


"Ne, sa Viernes ay pupunta ako dian marami akong ginagawa.
Sgn."Exh. "F-3""Ne, si Miling ay bukas pupunta dito ay sa tanghali ay pupunta
ako diyan (11:30 am). Wala akong pera ngayon kaya bukas na, sigurado
yon.Sgn."Exh. "F-4""Dear Ne, Pacencia ka na at hindi ako nakapaglalakad
gawa ng mataas ang dugo, kaya minsan-minsan lamang ako makapunta sa
oficena.Ibigay mo ang bayad sa bahay sa Sabado ng umaga, pipilitin kong
makarating dian sa Jueves.Sgn."The address "Ne" in the beginning of these
notes refer to Leoncia whose nickname is "Nene" but which Artemio shortens
to "Ne". Miling is the nickname of Melencio. The "Gracing" mentioned in Exh.
"F-1" refers to Gracia delos Santos, a sister-in-law of Leoncia who was with
Artemio when Leoncia was removed from the hospital during the birth of
Merceditas. (pp. 17-19, Appellant's Brief). These tiny bits of evidence when
pieced together ineluctably gives lie to defendants' diversionary defense that
it was with Melencio S. Reyes with whom the mother lived with during her
period of conception.
The attempt of Melencio S. Reyes to show that he was the lover of Leoncia
being in the apartment and sharing the same bedroom and the same bed
hardly inspires belief.
xxx xxx xxx
Undoubtedly, the role played by Melencio S. Reyes in the relationship between
Leoncia and appellant (sic) was that of a man Friday although appellant (sic)
would not trust him to the hilt and unwittingly required him to submit to
Leoncia an accounting of his expenditures
(Exhs. A, A-1 to A-14) for cash advances given to him by Leoncia, Artemio or
Guagua Telephone System which would not have been the case, if it were true
that there was an intimate relationship between him and plaintiff's mother.
Evidently, following the instruction of his employer and
Godfather, Melencio foisted on the court a quo the impression
that he was the lover and paramour of Leoncia but since there
was really no such relationship, he could not state the place in
San Juan or Highway 54 where he took Leoncia, nor how long
they stayed there belying his pretense (sic) of an intimate
relationship with plaintiffs mother. 27

The court a quo did not likewise consider the evidences as sufficient to
establish that plaintiff was in continuous possession of status of a child in view
of the denial by appellee of his paternity, and there is no clear and sufficient
evidence that the support was really given to plaintiff's mother. The belated
denial of paternity after the action has been filed against the putative father is
not the denial that would destroy the paternity of the child which had already
been recognized by defendant by various positive acts clearly evidencing that
he is plaintiff's father. A recognition once validly made is irrevocable. It cannot
be withdrawn. A mere change of mind would be incompatible with the stability
of the civil status of person, the permanence of which affects public interest.
Even when the act in which it is made should be revocable, the revocation of
such act will not revoke the recognition itself (1 Tolentino, pp. 579-580, 1983
Ed.).
To be sure, to establish "the open and continuous possession of the status of
an illegitimate child," it is necessary to comply with certain jurisprudential
requirements. "Continuous" does not, however, mean that the concession of
status shall continue forever but only that it shall not be of an intermittent
character while it continues (De Jesus v. Syquia, 58 Phil. 866). The possession
of such status means that the father has treated the child as his own, directly
and not through other, spontaneously and without concealment though
without publicity (since the relation is illegitimate) (J.B.L. Reyes and R.C. Puno,
Outline of Philippine Civil Law, Vol. 1, 1964 ed., pp. 269-270 citing Coquia vs.
Coquia, CA 50, O.G. 3701) There must be a showing of the permanent
intention of the supposed father to consider the child as his own, by
continuous and clear manifestation of paternal affection and care. (Tolentino,
Civil Code of the Philippines, Vol. 1, 1983 ed., p. 602). (Mendoza vs. Court of
Appeals, G.R. No. 86302, September 24, 1991.)
It was Artemio who made arrangement for the delivery of Merceditas (sic) at
the Manila Sanitarium and Hospital. Prior to the delivery, Leoncia underwent
prenatal examination by Artemio (TSN, p. 33, 5/17/74). After delivery, they
went home to their residence at EDSA in a car owned and driven by Artemio
himself (id. p. 36).
Merceditas (sic) bore the surname of "Ilano" since birth without any objection
on the part of Artemio, the fact that since Merceditas (sic) had her
discernment she had always known and called Artemio as her "Daddy" (TSN,
pp. 28-29, 10/18/74); the fact that each time Artemio was at home, he would
play with Merceditas (sic), take her for a ride or restaurants to eat, and
sometimes sleeping with Merceditas (sic) (id. p. 34) and does all what a father

36

should do for his child bringing home goodies, candies, toys and whatever
he can bring her which a child enjoys which Artemio gives Merceditas (sic)
(TSN, pp. 38-39, 5/17/74) are positive evidence that Merceditas (sic) is the
child of Artemio and recognized by Artemio as such. Special attention is called
to Exh. "E-7" where Artemio was telling Leoncia the need for a "frog test" to
know the status of Leoncia.
Plaintiff pointed out that the support by Artemio for Leoncia and Merceditas
(sic) was sometimes in the form of cash personally delivered to her by
Artemio, thru Melencio, thru Elynia (Exhs. "E-2" and "E-3",
and "D-6"), or thru Merceditas (sic) herself (TSN, p. 40, 5/17/74) and
sometimes in the form of a check as the Manila Banking Corporation Check
No. 81532 (Exh. "G") and the signature appearing therein which was identified
by Leoncia as that of Artemio because Artemio often gives her checks and
Artemio would write the check at home and saw Artemio sign the check (TSN,
p. 49, 7/18/73). Both Artemio and Nilda admitted that the check and signature
were those of Artemio (TSN, p. 53, 10/17/77; TSN, p. 19, 10/9/78).During the
time that Artemio and Leoncia were living as husband and wife, Artemio has
shown concern as the father of Merceditas (sic). When Merceditas (sic) was in
Grade 1 at the St. Joseph Parochial School, Artemio signed the Report Card of
Merceditas (sic) (Exh. "H") for the fourth and fifth grading period(s) (Exh. "H-1"
and "H-2") as the parent of Merceditas (sic). Those signatures of Artemio were
both identified by Leoncia and Merceditas (sic) because Artemio signed Exh.
"H-1" and
"H-2" at their residence in the presence of Leoncia, Merceditas (sic) and of
Elynia (TSN, p. 57, 7/18/73; TSN, p. 28, 10/1/73). . . .
xxx xxx xxx
When Artemio run as a candidate in the Provincial Board of
Cavite, Artemio gave Leoncia his picture with the following
dedication: "To Nene, with best regards, Temiong". (Exh. "I").
(pp. 19-20, Appellant's Brief)
The mere denial by defendant of his signature is not sufficient
to offset the totality of the evidence indubitably showing that
the signature thereon belongs to him. The entry in the
Certificate of Live Birth that Leoncia and Artemio was falsely
stated therein as married does not mean that Leoncia is not
appellee's daughter. This particular entry was caused to be
made by Artemio himself in order to avoid embarrassment.
It is difficult to believe that plaintiffs mother, who is a mere
dressmaker, had long beforehand diabolically conceived of a

plan to make it appear that defendant, who claims to be a


total stranger to be a total stranger, was the father of her
child, and in the process falsified the latter's signatures and
handwriting. 28
Granting ex gratia argument that private respondent's evidence is not
sufficient proof of continuos possession of status of a spurious child,
respondent court applied next paragraph (4) of Article 283:
. . . plaintiffs testimonial and documentary evidence . . . (is)
too replete with details that are coherent, logical and natural
which cannot be categorized as mere fabrications of an
inventive and malicious mind of which Leoncia de los Santos
was not shown to possess.
The natural, logical and coherent evidence of plaintiff from the
genesis of the relationship between Leoncia and appellee,
their living together as circumstances of plaintiff's birth, the
acts of appellee in recognizing and supporting plaintiff, find
ample support from the testimonial and documentary
evidence which leaves no room to reasonably doubt his
paternity which may not be infirmed by his belated denials.
Notably, the court a quo did not consider plaintiff's evidence
as lacking in credibility but did not deem as convincing proof
that defendant is the father since the Certificate of Live Birth
was not signed by appellee and since the monthly report card
is not sufficient to establish recognition, considering the denial
of the defendant of his signature appearing thereon.
While defendant's signature does not appear in the Certificate
of Live Birth, the evidence indubitably disclose(s) that Leoncia
gave birth on December 30, 1963 to Merceditas (sic) at 4:27
p.m. at the Manila Sanitarium. Artemio arrived at about 5:00
(TSN, p. 25, 5/17/74). At about 7:00 p.m., a nurse came (id. p.
26) who made inquiries about the biodata of the born child.
The inquiries were directed to Artemio in the presence of
Elynia who heard the answers of Artemio which the nurse took
down in a sheet of paper (id. p. 28). The inquiries were about
the name of the father, mother and child. After the interview
the nurse told them that the information has to be recorded in
the formal form and has to be signed by Artemio (id. p. 30)
but because there is no office, as it was past 7:00 p.m., the
nurse would just return in the morning for Artemio's signature.

37

Artemio gave the instruction to the nurse to give the biodata


to Leoncia for her signature as he was leaving very early the
following morning as in fact Artemio left at 5:00 a.m. of
December 31, 1963 (id. p. 33). Artemio stayed in the hospital
in the evening of December 30, 1963 (id. p. 26). As pointed
out in Castro vs. Court of Appeals, 173 SCRA 656:
The ruling in Roces vs. Local Civil Registrar of Manila (102 Phil. 1050 [1958]
andBerciles v. Government Service Insurance System (128 SCRA 53 [1984]
that if the father did not sign in the birth certificate, the placing of his name
by the mother, doctor, register, or other person is incompetent evidence of
paternity does not apply to this case because it was Eustaquio himself who
went to the municipal building and gave all the data about his daughter's
birth. . . .
. . . the totality of the evidence, as pointed to above, is more
than sufficient to establish beyond reasonable doubt that
appellee is the father of the plaintiff Merceditas (sic) Ilano.
As elucidated in Mendoza vs. Court of Appeals, Supra:
xxx xxx xxx
. . . although Teopista has failed to show that she was in open
and continuous possession of the status of an illegitimate
child of Casimiro, we find that she has nevertheless
established that status by another method.
What both the trial court and the respondent did not take into
account is that an illegitimate child is allowed to establish his
claimed affiliation by "any other means allowed by the Rules
of Court and special laws," according to the Civil Code, . . .
Such evidence may consist of his 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. 29
The last paragraph of Article 283 contains a blanket provision that practically
covers all the other cases in the preceding paragraphs. "Any other evidence or
proof" that the defendant is the father is broad enough to render unnecessary
the other paragraphs of this article. When the evidence submitted in the
action for compulsory recognition is not sufficient to meet requirements of the

first three paragraphs, it may still be enough under the last paragraph. 30 This
paragraph permits hearsay and reputation evidence, as provided in the Rules
of Court, with respect to illegitimate filiation. 31
As a necessary consequence of the finding that private respondent is the
spurious child of petitioner, she is entitled to support. In awarding support to
her, respondent court took into account the following:
The obligation to give support shall be demandable from the
time the person who has a right to recover the same needs it
for maintenance, but it shall not be paid except from the date
of judicial or extrajudicial demand. (Article 203, Family Code of
the Philippines.)
The complaint in this case was filed on August 14, 1972.
Plaintiff, having been born on December 30, 1963, was about
nine (9) years old at the time and was already of school age
spending about P400.00 to P500.00 a month for her school
expenses alone, while defendant was earning about
P10,000.00 a month. She attained the age of majority on
December 30, 1984 (Article 234, Supra). She is therefore
entitled to support in arrears for a period of twelve (12) years,
four (4) months and fourteen (14) days, which is hereby fixed
at P800.00 a month for the first three (3) years; and
considering the declining value of the peso as well as her
needs as she grows older, at a graduated increase of
P1,000.00 a month for the next three (3) years; P1,300.00 a
month for the succeeding three (3) years; and P1,500.00 a
month for the last three (3) years, four (4) months and
fourteen (14) days until she attained the age of majority.
This being an action for legal support, the award of attorney's
fees is appropriate under Article 2208 (6) of the Civil Code.
Moreover, the court deems it just and equitable under the
given facts and circumstances that attorney's fees and
expenses of litigation should be recovered. 32
We concur with the foregoing disposition, in the absence of proof that it was
arrived at arbitrarily.
The other allegation of petitioner that the appeal was prosecuted almost ten
years after the decision of the trial court was rendered does not deserve any
consideration because it appears that it is being raised for the first time in this
petition. 33

38

WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DENIED. The decision of


the Court of Appeals dated December 17, 1991 and its resolution dated
February 26, 1992 are AFFIRMED.
SO ORDERED.
Narvasa, C.J., Padilla, Regalado and Puno, JJ., concur.

39

G.R. No. 86639 June 2, 1994


MA. THERESA R. ALBERTO, petitioner,
vs.
COURT OF APPEALS, INTESTATE ESTATE OF JUAN M. ALBERTO, and
YOLANDA R. ALBERTO,respondents.
Martiniano P. Vivo for petitioner.
M.M. Lazaro & Associates for respondents.

ROMERO, J.:
When a putative father manifests openly through words and deeds his
recognition of a child, the courts can do no less than confirm said
acknowledgment. As the immortal bard Shakespeare perspicaciously said:
"Let your own discretion be your tutor; suit the action to the word, the word to
the action." Herein deceased father cannot possibly be charged with
indecisiveness or vacillation for he suited his action to his word and his word
to his action.
In the instant case, we have, therefore, affirmed the decision of the probate
court declaring petitioner as having acquired the status of a natural child of
the deceased Juan M. Alberto and, as such, entitled to participate in the
latter's estate.
On September 18, 1953, a child named Ma. Theresa Alberto was born out of
wedlock to one Aurora Reniva with Juan M. Alberto as the alleged father.
Accordingly, she used "Alberto" as her surname in all her school records and
correspondences.
On September 18, 1967, Juan M. Alberto, felled by a bullet from an assassins
gun, died intestate.
His widow, Yolanda R. Alberto, filed a petition for the administration of his
estate on January 10, 1968. After the publication of notices, she was
appointed as the administratrix of the estate. After the Inventory and
Appraisal and the Administratrix' Accounting were approved on August 1,
1970 and on April 29, 1971 respectively, the proceedings were ordered closed
and terminated.

On September 15, 1978, Ma. Theresa Alberto filed a motion for leave to
intervene as oppositor and to re-open the proceedings praying that she be
declared to have acquired the status of a natural child and as such, entitled to
share in the estate of the deceased. The motion was granted by the probate
court.
Upon the presentation by the parties of their respective evidence during the
trial, the probate court was convinced that indeed, Ma. Theresa Alberto had
been in continuous possession of the status of a natural child. Thereupon, it
rendered a decision compelling the decedents heirs and estate to recognize
her as a natural daughter and to allow her to participate in the estate
proceedings. The dispositive portion of the decision reads as follows:
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered in favor of
oppositor and against the estate of the deceased Juan M.
Alberto
(a) Declaring oppositor Ma. Theresa R. Alberto as having
acquired the status of a natural child of the late Gov. Juan M.
Alberto;
(b) Ordering the administratrix and widow of the deceased
and their children, namely, Mary Joy, Maria Rebecca, Juan, Jr.,
Juan III, Maria Yolanda and Juan IV, all surnamed Alberto, to
recognize and acknowledge oppositor as an acknowledged
natural child of the late Gov. Alberto;
(c) Declaring oppositor as one of the heirs of the late Gov. Juan
M. Alberto;
(d) Ordering the administratrix to partition the deceaseds
estate and turn over to oppositor her participation therein
equivalent to one-half (1/2) of the share of each legitimate
child; and
(e) Ordering the administratrix to pay oppositor the sum of
P10,000.00 as attorneys fees and expenses of litigation.
Costs against the administratrix.
SO ORDERED.

40

The probate courts findings are quoted hereunder, to wit:


1) In the case at bar, the Court believes, and so holds, that the
oppositor has been in continuous possession of the status of a
child of Juan Alberto by his direct acts as well as the acts of his
family, as follows:

testimony was corroborated by Cristeta Andaya, former maid


of Mrs. Solidum, and by the oppositor) and
(c) that Juan Alberto had been sending her money from time
to time.
2) Oppositor also testified that:

(a) The deceased gave the oppositor sums of money for her
schooling;
(b) The deceased made known to his friends and relatives that
she was his daughter; and
(c) He made known to the personnel of the International
School where oppositor was enrolled that she was his
daughter.
2) The following incidents would show the direct acts of the
family of the deceased.
(a) When the deceaseds younger sister, Mrs. Aurita Alberto
Solidum asked that the oppositor be sent to her house in her
Sunday best to meet her father for the first time;
(b) When Fr. Arcilla brought the oppositor to the bedside of the
deceased in the hospital and Fr. Arcilla asked the guard to give
way to her as she was a member of the family;
(c) When the step-mother of the deceased, during the wake,
introduced the oppositor to her youngest sister as an elder
sister.
3) Prescinding from the foregoing, there is sufficient evidence
to prove that the oppositor is the child of the deceased.
1. Oppositors mother, Aurora Reniva, testified:
(a) of an indiscretion that led to the conception of and giving
birth to the oppositor;
(b) that Mrs. Aurita Solidum arranged the meeting between
the oppositor and the deceased at the MOPC; (This particular

(a) She had her first meeting with her father at the MOPC
where he gave her P500.00 personally and two telephone
numbers where he could be contacted and where they talked
about her name, age and other matters.
(b) She had other meetings with her father at the MOPC on
which occasions her father also gave her money.
(c) The deceased visited her two times at the International
School whose rules on visitors were strict and when her father
visited her, the secretary of the principal told her that her
father was waiting for her. This showed that the deceased had
identified himself to the personnel of the school that he was
the father of the oppositor.
(d) He promised to see her in her school during her birthday
on September 18, 1968 but was not able to do so because of
his untimely death.
(e) The deceased promised to bring the oppositor to
Catanduanes but failed likewise because of his death.
(f) When oppositor and her mother went to the PGH on the
occasion of her fathers death, Fr. Arcilla held her by the hand
and asked the guard to make way for her because she was a
child of Juan Alberto.
(g) After the wake for her deceased father, the deceaseds
step-mother, Saturnina Alberto, introduced her as a sister to
Joy Alberto her half-sister.
(h) Congressman Jose Alberto allowed her associates, upon
her representations, to use the ballroom of the Regent of
Manila for practice purposes. Congressman Alberto was the
owner of the Regent of Manila.

41

(i) Her uncles and aunts, i.e., brothers and sisters of her
father, regarded her as their niece and introduced her to
others as the eldest daughter of Juan Alberto.
(j) The children of the brothers and sisters of Juan Alberto
recognized her as their cousin.
3) Jose Tablizo testified that:
(a) There was a strong physical resemblance between the
deceased and the oppositor.
(b) The deceased and the oppositor wrote similarly.
(c) It was known among the friends of the deceased,
particularly the Breeze Gang, composed of the witness, Jose
Tablizo, the deceased and 4 others.
(d) Sometime in 1967, the deceased showed him the report
card of the Oppositor and boasted of her high grades.
(e) The friends of the deceased had a party in Virac,
Catanduanes for the oppositor whom they considered as the
deceaseds daughter. (This was corroborated by Silverio
Taberara.)
4) Atty. Martiniano Vivo testified that Commissioner of
Immigration Edmundo Reyes, as lawyer for the deceased,
made an appointment with him (Atty. Vivo) for a conference,
at which they discussed the latters letter to the deceased
regarding the oppositor. In said conference, Com. Reyes said
that the deceased was not denying that he was the father of
the oppositor. And because of his marital status and the fact
that he was a public official, he wanted to avoid public scandal
with the promise to support the oppositor quietly through a
cousin, Fr. Arcilla. 2
The Court of Appeals reversed the above decision of the probate court on the
strength of the following observations:
Assuming the foregoing to be true, we do not believe they
satisfy the degree of proof to establish that oppositor was in

continuous possession of the status of a natural child of the


deceased.
In one case, the following facts were proved; that two nurses took care of the
children at the expense of the defendant; that said defendant kissed the
children, called them sons, and ordered that they be taken care of very well;
that he gave the money for the necessities of the mother and the six children,
the oldest of whom called the father; that he visited the mother, complained
of his big family, and was publicly regarded as the father of the children. It
was held that these were not sufficient to be a basis for a declaration of
paternity. They may show that the defendant was convinced of his paternity in
relation to the children; but they do not show any intent on his part to place
such children in the possession of status of natural children. The continued
possession of such
status cannot be founded on conjectures and presumption. So, also, the mere
fact that defendants mother used to visit the child, cannot be considered as
conduct of his family sufficient to confer
the uninterrupted possession of the status of a natural child.
(1 Tolentino, Civil Code of the Philippines, 1983 ed., pp. 604-605, citing,
Sentencia, 12 October 1907; Gustilo vs. Gustilo, et al., 14 SCRA 149;
Sentencia, 9 May 1921; Potot vs. Ycong, No. 6651, 22 March 1941, 40 O.G. No.
4, 26 July 1941, p. 748)
We find the evidence of oppositor-appellee even weaker than
that proven in the aforequoted citation. As a matter of fact,
oppositor's Exhibit W-1, a letter written by oppositor to Jose
Tablizo after the death of the deceased, betrays a lack of
association between the deceased and oppositor such as
normally characterizes the relationship between father and
child. It gives the impression that the deceased studiously
distanced himself from the oppositor and had no intention
whatsoever of recognizing oppositor as his child. The pertinent
portion of the letter reads:
I have always been proud to be JMAs eldest daughter, and I feel even prouder
after I heard from people like you. You were the ones that knew him most,
shared his dreams as a young man, and witnessed his struggle from Palmeras
slums to Forbes Park. You saw him rise from cargador to lawyer and, finally, to
governor; I only heard about them through Mama. His life was a novel, and if I
were to help write it, I would be able to contribute but a few pages, for I knew
him only as a Big Man. It is YOU who had a part in the first adventures of that
same novel, and I envy you. (p. 35, Folder of Exhibits) 3
Hence this petition.

42

May the estate and heirs of deceased Juan M. Alberto be ordered to recognize
petitioner as the deceaseds natural daughter on the basis of the evidence
presented by petitioner to establish her claim that she has been in continuous
possession of the status of a natural child?

11) that petitioner was known by Juan M. Albertos friends as his daughter;

We rule in the affirmative.

Private respondent, Yolanda Alberto, the sole witness for private respondents,
denied that Juan M. Alberto ever recognized Ma. Theresa Alberto as his
daughter. She presented in evidence Aurora Renivas letters to Juan M. Alberto
dated December 23, 1955, September 27, 1954 and March 15, 1960; Aurora
Renivas letter to Fr. Arcilla dated December 23, 1955; letter of Zenaida
Reniva to Juan M. Alberto dated September 16, 1953, to prove that Juan M.
Alberto refused to recognize Ma. Theresa Alberto as his own. 4

In the probate court, the following have been established:


1) that prior to Juan M. Alberto's marriage to Yolanda Reyes, herein private
respondent, Juan M. Alberto and Aurora Reniva, mother of herein petitioner,
were sweethearts;
2) that as a consequence of an indiscretion, Aurora Reniva conceived and
gave birth to herein petitioner Ma. Theresa Alberto on September 18, 1953;
3) that petitioner used 'Alberto' as her surname in all her school records and
Juan M. Alberto was known to be her father;
4) that through Fr. Arcilla, a first cousin of Juan M. Alberto, money was given to
Aurora Reniva;
5) that when petitioner was about nine (9) years old, Mrs. Aurita Solidum, the
youngest sister of Juan M. Alberto, arranged the first meeting between
petitioner and Juan M. Alberto at the MOPC and during said meeting, they
talked about petitioner, the deceased gave petitioner P500.00 and two
telephone numbers;
6) that Juan M. Alberto would have visited petitioner on her birthday in her
school, International School, if not for his untimely death on September 18,
1967;
7) that when petitioner and her mother went to the PGH on the occasion of
Juan M. Albertos death, Fr. Arcilla held her by the hand and asked the guard to
make way for her as she was a daughter of Juan M. Alberto;
8) that after the wake for deceased Juan M. Alberto, his step mother,
Saturnina Alberto introduced petitioner to Joy Alberto as the latters sister;
9) that the siblings of Juan M. Alberto regarded petitioner as their niece and
introduced her to their children as the eldest daughter of Juan M. Alberto;
10) that the children of Juan M. Albertos siblings regarded her as their cousin;

12) that Juan M. Alberto showed Jose Tablizo the grades of petitioner and
remarked that those were the grades of his daughter.

However, these letters do not prove that Juan M. Alberto refused to recognize
Ma. Theresa Alberto. All that the letters stated was that Aurora Reniva was
having a difficult time raising a child by her own self and therefore, she was
seeking the assistance of Juan M. Alberto. Private respondent quoted as
Exhibit "3-B" the portion of Aurora Renivas letter dated March 15, 1960 which
says:
. . . I am just wondering why after all those years of patient
waiting, you still do not give a damn to her. 5
The full text of the paragraph, however, reads as follows:
On the 23rd of this month, Maria Theresa P. Alberto will
graduate from the Prep School of Holy Ghost College. I am just
wondering why after all those years of patient waiting, you
still do not give a damn to her. I thought, as I was told before
by Fr. Arcilla, that I just pray and wait because he said pretty
soon you will be sending her money for support. So far, only
the 300 pesos was received by us last October, 1959. For it, I
am very grateful because it helped me a lot in our wants. 6
The letter itself shows that Juan M. Alberto was not completely indifferent
towards Ma. Theresa Alberto. He did provide her support whenever he could.
The latest letter that was presented in evidence was dated March 15, 1960. At
the time, petitioner and Juan M. Alberto had not yet met. About two years
later, when petitioner was nine years old, Mrs. Aurita Solidum arranged the
first meeting between petitioner and the deceased. This initial meeting was
followed by many more. Moreover, it is noteworthy that Juan M. Alberto never
took any step to stop petitioner from using his surname. The testimony of Jose

43

Tablizo established his recognition of Ma. Theresa Alberto as his daughter. He


testified that Juan M. Alberto showed him two report cards of Ma. Theresa
which showed straight "A's." He said "Boy! Great!" and Juan M. Alberto said
that those were the grades of his daughter. 7 This testimony is now being
discredited for being hearsay. This Court holds that the same falls within the
exceptions to the hearsay rule. Sec. 38, Rule 130 of the Rules of Court
provides as follows:
Sec. 38. Declaration Against Interest. The declaration made
by a person deceased, or unable to testify, against the interest
of the declarant, if the fact asserted at the declaration was at
the time it was made so far contrary to declarant's own
interest that a reasonable man in his position would not have
made his declaration unless he believed it to be true, may be
received in evidence against himself or his successors in
interest and against third persons.
As found by the trial court, recognition of petitioner's status as a natural
daughter of Juan M. Alberto was made, not only by the latter, but by his
relatives as well Fr. Cipriano Arcilla, Jose Alberto, Aurita Solidum and
Saturnina Alberto, among others. Private respondent only had to present any
one of those relatives to negate petitioner's testimony that she had been
acknowledged by them as the eldest daughter of the deceased. Her failure to
do so baffles this Court. If indeed Ma. Theresa Alberto were fabricating her
testimony, the family of the deceased would have been more than willing to
destroy the claims of an intruder. Under the circumstances, it is safe for us to
assume that had any of the relatives mentioned by petitioner been presented
as witness for private respondent, their testimonies would be detrimental to
the latter's cause.
In view of the foregoing, we hold that petitioner has been in continuous
possession of the status of a natural child of the deceased in accordance with
Article 283 of the Civil Code which provides, inter alia:
Art. 283. In any of the following cases, the father is obliged to
recognize the child as his natural child:
xxx xxx xxx
(2) when the child is in continuous possession of status of a
child of the alleged father by the direct acts of the latter or his
family.

The Court of Appeals, in reversing the decision of the probate court, stated as
follows:
We find the evidence of oppositor-appellee even weaker than
that proven in the aforequoted citation. As a matter of fact,
oppositor's Exhibit W-1, a letter written by oppositor to Jose
Tablizo after the death of the deceased, betrays a lack of
association between the deceased and oppositor such as
normally characterizes the relationship between father and
child. It gives the impression that the deceased studiously
distanced himself from the oppositor and had not intention
whatsoever of recognizing oppositor as his child. The pertinent
portion of the letter reads:
I have always been proud to be JMAs eldest daughter, and I
feel even prouder after I heard from people like you. You were
the ones that knew him most, shared his dreams as a young
man, and witnessed his struggle from, palmeras slums to
Forbes Park. You saw him rise from cargador to lawyer and,
finally, to governor; I only heard about them through Mama.
His life was a novel, and if I were to help write it, I would be
able to contribute but a few pages, for I knew him only as a
Big Man. It is YOU who had a part in the first adventures of
that same novel, and I envy you. 8
What a poignant novel this daughter could well author as she now seeks to
establish indubitable parental links with a father who sired her some forty-one
years ago. Why he desisted from marrying the mother of this girl at a time
when no impediment blocked the way is a matter one can merely conjecture
at.
While he did contract marriage subsequently with another woman, it was only
too clear that he had no intentions of closing definitively that chapter in his
life when he begat his first-born. Of the different categories of illegitimate
children under the old Civil Code, the natural child occupies the highest
position, she being the child of parents who, at the time of her conception,
were not disqualified by any impediment to marry each other and could,
therefore, have contracted a valid marriage. Often the fruit of first love, she is
ensconced firmly in her parent's hearts. No subsequent liaisons, though
blessed with legitimate offspring, can completely obliterate those early
memories.
A shared past intimacy between the putative parents and the clear marks of
heredity stamped on the brow of their offspring are not to be denied. Thus,

44

whether openly or furtively, a father in the situation of Juan M. Alberto could


not have resisted manifesting signs of concern and care insofar as his
firstborn is concerned. If, at an early age, the child shows much talent and
great promise as petitioner in this case apparently did, it is understandable,
and even to be expected, that the father would proudly step forward to claim
paternity either through his direct acts or those of his family, or both, as in
instant case.
In the case at bench, evidence is not wanting from which it may logically be
concluded that the deceased Juan M. Alberto took no pains to conceal his
paternity. No less than his younger sister, his stepmother, his priest-cousin,
several relatives and close friends were categorically informed of the
relationship and they accepted the same as fact.
Understandably, considering the strait-laced mores of the times and the social
and political stature of Juan M. Alberto and his family, those who were privy to
the relationship observed discreetness. But he himself openly visited his
daughter in school, had meetings with her at the MOPC on which occasions he
gave her money and introduced her proudly to his gangmates.
Where the daughter admits to envy in a letter to her fathers friend because
the latter played a greater role in her fathers life, this is but the natural
expression of a wistful longing of a child to reach out to her biological father.
Far be it for us to interpret such sentiment as a betrayal of "a lack of
association between the deceased and oppositor such as normally
characterizes the relationship between father and child." In this instance, the
lack of association cannot be helped for the relationship was far from normal.
Much less do we take it as giving the impression that the deceased "studiously
distanced himself from the oppositor and had no intention whatsoever of
recognizing oppositor as his child." On the contrary, during his lifetime, Juan
M. Alberto acted in such a manner as to evince his intent to recognize Ma.
Theresa Alberto, herein oppositor, as his flesh and blood, first, by allowing her
from birth to use his family name; second, by giving her and her mother sums
of money by way of support and lastly, by openly introducing her to members
of his family, relatives and friends as his daughter. Supplementing such
unmistakable acts of recognition were those of his kin and gangmates
manifesting open acceptance of such relationship. Taken altogether, the
claimed filiation would be hard to disprove.

Art. 285. The action for the recognition of natural children may
be brought only during the lifetime of the presumed parents,
except in the following cases:
(1) If the father or mother died during the minority of the
child, in which case the latter may file the action before the
expiration of four years from the attainment of his majority.
xxx xxx xxx
The oppositor's case falls clearly under the above exception.
Juan M. Alberto died during the minority of petitioner, that is, on September
18, 1967 the day petitioner turned fourteen. As such, petitioner had four
years from the time she reached twenty-one on September 18, 1974, which
was then the age of majority, within which to bring the aforesaid action. Thus,
petitioner had until September 18, 1978 within which to file the action for
recognition. Petitioner filed her motion for leave to intervene as oppositor and
to re-open the proceedings with the prayer that she be declared to have
acquired the status of a natural child and as such, entitled to share in the
estate of the deceased, on September 15, 1978. Said motion was, therefore,
seasonably filed three days before the expiration of the four-year period.
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, this petition is hereby GRANTED, the
decision of the Court of Appeals is REVERSED and that of the probate court
AFFIRMED.
SO ORDERED.
Feliciano, Bidin, Melo and Vitug, JJ., concur.

Since the oppositor seeks a judicial declaration that she be recognized as a


natural child to enable her to participate in the estate of the deceased, Article
285 of the Civil Code prescribing the period when such action should be
brought governs. It provides:

45

G.R. No. 111994 December 29, 1994


SOTENIA GONO-JAVIER, TEBURCIO GONO, ANUNCIACION G. JAVIER,
GERMANA G. GULAY, LUCIO GONO, RAMON GONO, ALFREDO GONO and
MANUEL GONO, petitioners,
vs.
THE HON. COURT OF APPEALS, RESTITUTA CASOCOT, FERMIN
CASOCOT, ALICIA YONSON, ADRIANO CASOCOT, CARLOS MONTE DE
RAMOS, REGINA DUGLAS and NONITO MARAVE, respondents.
Estanislao G. Ebarle , Jr for petitioners.
Roberto T. Tejano for private respondents.

VITUG, J.:
Juan Casocot, the alleged natural grandfather of petitioners, was said to have
owned during his lifetime five (5) parcels of land in Nasipit, Agusan, covered
by Tax Declaration ("T.D.") No. 2667, 3227, 1209, 738 and 2666.
On 13 February 1978, petitioners filed a case with the Regional Trial Court
("RTC") of Butuan City for the recovery of ownership and possession of the
above five (5) parcels which they claimed were merely held in trust for them
by private respondents. Petitioners averred that they were the children of
deceased Catalino Gono, an acknowledged natural child of Juan Casocot, who,
by intestate succession, should thus be held to be the owners of the property.
Additionally, they asserted that petitioner Anunciacion Gono-Javier purchased
the parcels of land on 20 June 1956 from the Provincial Government of Agusan
following the levy thereof (on 28 May 1956) for tax delinquency.
In their answer, private respondents, all nephews and nieces of Juan Casocot
except for Carlos Monte de Ramos, a grandnephew, and Nonito Marave, a
stranger, to whom a portion of one of the parcels of land had been sold,
contended that since the complaint had failed to state that Catalino Gono had
been recognized by Juan Casocot either in a record of birth or in a will, an
independent action for voluntary recognition should have first been instituted
to permit any intestate successional right to legally pass to petitioners. Also
alleged in the answer was that, with the exception of the parcel covered by
T.D. No. 738, the questioned property had been sold by Juan Casocot to
private respondents Restituta and Fermin Casocot on 19 April 1960 and a

portion to private respondent Marave. Private respondents belied the claim


that petitioner Gono-Javier purchased the property from the Provincial
Government of Agusan. Finally, the defense of prescription was raised on the
ground that private respondents had been in possession of the disputed
property in good faith and for value for more than 17 years before petitioners'
action was instituted.
After trial, the Butuan RTC rendered judgment for petitioners declaring them
to be the lawful owners of the property. The court, in rejecting the claim of
ownership made by private respondents, opined that the deed of sale
executed by Juan Casocot on 19 April 1960, when he was already 80 years
old, in favor of respondents Restituta and Fermin Casocot was absolutely
simulated and void. It ruled that petitioners' father, Catalino Gono, had been
duly recognized by Juan Casocot since 1954 to be his natural child that
thereby entitled petitioners to inherit the parcels of land in question. The trial
court likewise held that the property had been sold to petitioner Anunciacion
Gono-Javier on 05 and 20 June 1956 after it had been levied by the Provincial
Government for
non-payment of taxes.
The trial court thus nullified Transfer Certificate of Title ("TCT") No. RT-349,
issued in the names of Restituta and Fermin Casocot, with respect to the
parcel of land covered by T.D. No. 1209, and all certificates of title issued in
the names of transferees, Felipe Yonson, Alicia Yonson, Adriano Casocot,
Carlos Monte de Ramos, Regina Duglas, Restituta, Fermin Casocot and Nonito
Marave.
On appeal by private respondents, the Court of Appeals reversed the trial
court's decision, and ordered the dismissal of the complaint by petitioners for
the recovery of title and possession of the disputed parcels. The appellate
court ratiocinated and concluded:
First. The trial court declared Catalino Gono to be the
acknowledged natural child of Juan Casocot on the basis of a
statement in a deed of donation which he made in favor of
Eugenia Gonzales, widow of Catalino Gono, to the effect that
among the reasons for making the donation was the fact that
the donee "is the surviving spouse of my son had with my
common law wife." (Exh. G).
The deed of donation conveyed to Eugenia Gonzales the
parcel of land covered by TD 738 (Exh. E). It was made on
March 29, 1954, about 11 years after the death of Catalino

46

Gono in 1942 or 1943. In the first place, the statement therein


describing Eugenia Gonzales "the surviving spouse of my son
had with my common law wife" is only, if at all, an indirect
acknowledgement of Catalino Gono as the son of Juan
Casocot. This falls short of the requirement that the voluntary
recognition of a natural child must be expressly made either in
the record of birth, or in a will, or in a statement before the
court of record or in any authentic writing. (Civil Code, Art.
278).
In the second place, according to the testimony of plaintiffappellee Sotenia Gono herself, Catalino Gono died in 1942 or
1943. (TSN, p. 24, Dec. 10, 1980). On the other hand, his
supposed acknowledgment was made only in 1954. Now, Art.
281 requires that if the child is of age, his recognition must be
with his consent. Obviously, therefore, it was not possible for
Catalino Gono to have given his consent, even if the indirect
reference to him in the deed of donation as the son of Juan
Casocot were considered a sufficient acknowledgment.
For these reasons, it was error for the trial court to declare the
plaintiff-appellees, the children of Catalino Gono, to be the
owners of the four parcels of land covered by TD No. 2667
(Exh. B), TD No. 3227 (Exh. C), TD No. 1209 (Exh. D), and TD
No. 2666 (Exh. F) by right of inheritance.
Second. Nor may the plaintiff-appellees base their claim of
ownership on the fact that one of them (Anunciacion GonoJavier) allegedly repurchased the lands in question after they
had been forfeited to the Province of Agusan for nonpayment
of taxes. The records show that while it is true that
Anunciacion Gono-Javier was issued a certificate of
Repurchase of Real Property after Sale (Exh. N) on June 20,
1956, it is equally true that on February 3, 1959, she was
refunded the amount she had paid. This is evidenced by a
municipal voucher issued on February 3, 1959 (Exh. P) by
which she acknowledged receipt of P850.00 from Eduardo V.
Amber, Treasurer of Nasipit, Agusan, from the partial payment
previously made by Juan Casocot for taxes covering the period
May 29, 1956 to February 2, 1959. Indeed, the Final Bill of Sale
(Exh. M) to her, dated February 3, 1959, which had been
prepared, was never executed as the Provincial Treasurer of
Agusan never signed it, apparently because the day (February
2, 1959), Juan Casocot had repurchased the properties. That is

the reason why on February 3, 1959 a municipal voucher (Exh.


P) for the payment of P850.00 to Anunciacion G. Javier was
made and Anunciacion G. Javier was actually refunded what
she had paid. The trial court, therefore, erred in holding that,
in the alternative, plaintiff-appellees are owners of the lands in
question by virtue of a right of repurchase from the Provincial
Government of Agusan.
Third. The four parcels of land covered by TD No. 2667 (Exh.
B), TD No. 3227 (Exh. C), TD No. 1209 (Exh. D), and TD No.
2666 (Exh. F) were sold to Restituta and Fermin Casocot by
virtue of a deed of sale made by Juan Casocot on April 19,
1960. However, the trial court declared the sale to be
simulated and therefore void based on its finding that Juan
Casocot was already in his 80's when he signed the contract in
1960. There is, however, no proof that he did not know the
contents of the documents or that he did not intend the deed
of sale at all. The trial court unwarrantedly theorized that
because the properties were valuable properties, Juan Casocot
could not have intended to sell them.
Indeed, the fact is that the deed of sale was duly notarized
and the notary public, Atty. Noli G. Cortel, testified that from
his observation, there was nothing either in the mental or
physical condition of Juan Casocot to indicate that he was not
in the full possession of his mental faculties when he executed
the deed of sale in favor of Restituta and Fermin Casocot.
Moreover, Atty. Cortel testified that he interpreted the
contents of the document in the Visayan dialect to Juan
Casocot and that afterward Juan Casocot voluntarily affixed his
signature to the document. (TSN, pp. 9,
11-12, Sept. 6, 1991). Needless to say, a public document,
which is executed with all the solemnities of the law, should
not be set aside on such slender grounds as those cited by the
trial court.
Fourth. The trial court also erred in not ruling that the present
action is barred by the order of Court of First Instance of
Agusan in Civil Case No. 896 (Juan Casocot v. Restituta
Casocot and Fermin Casocot), dismissing a complaint for the
nullification of the deed of sale. (Exh. U) That order, issued on
August 10, 1965, became final and it constitutes res
judicata in this case, as no appeal appears to have been taken
from it. The trial court found the dismissal erroneous allegedly

47

because Juan Casocot had not been notified of the hearing on


July 24, 1965 in Civil Case No. 896. But the trial court did not
have the power to reopen that case. It was improper for it to
do so, since the order of dismissal was final.
WHEREFORE, the decision appealed from is REVERSED and
the complaint in this case is DISMISSED in so far as it seeks
the recovery of the title and possession of four parcels of land
covered by TD No. 2667 (Exh. B), TD No. 3227 (Exh. C), TD No.
1209 (Exh. D), TD No. 2666 (Exh. F). In other respects, the
decision appealed from is AFFIRMED. 1
In this petition for review, petitioners raise the following assignment of errors:
1. The appellate court gravely erred in reversing the trial
court's decision holding that Catalino Gono was the
acknowledged natural child of Juan Casocot by his common
law wife, and that the deceased Juan Casocot's declaration in
his deed of donation to Eugenia Gonzales, wife of Catalino
Gono, that the deceased was giving the land in donation to
the surviving wife of my son is sufficient recognition.
2. The appellate court gravely erred in reversing the trial
court's decision holding that when the land in question was
sold at public auction or failure to pay taxes the same was
brought by Anunciacion
Gono-Javier who is one of the petitioners' herein, hence the
questioned land belongs to the petitioners.
3. The appellate court gravely erred in reversing the trial
court's decision holding that the alleged sale between the late
Juan Casocot and the private respondents herein were
simulated hence null and void.
4. The appellate court gravely erred in ruling that the action
for recovery of possession and ownership filed by the herein
petitioners with the trial court is barred by the dismissal of the
complaint for nullification of the Deed of Sale filed by the
deceased Juan Casocot himself during his lifetime, which was
dismissed, for his failure to attend the hearing wherein he was
not notified. 2
Petitioners' first assignment of error would have been impressed with merit
had the acknowledgment in the deed of donation in 1954 been extended to

Catalino prior to his death sometime in 1942 or 1943. Juan Casocot himself
died in 1964. Article 278 of the New Civil Code, the law applicable in
1954, 3 provided:
Art. 278. Recognition shall be made in the record of birth, a
will, a statement before a court of record, or in any authentic
writing. (Emphasis ours.)
The statement made in the deed of donation, a public document, executed by
Juan Casocot in favor of Eugenia Gonzales, widow of Catalino, i.e., that among
the reasons for the donation was that the donee was "the surviving spouse of
my son had with my common law wife," would have well been explicit enough
or, at the very least, sufficient to make it fall within the purview of
the doctrine of incidental recognition. Unfortunately for petitioners, however,
the recognition came too late. The donation, whereon the questioned
statement appeared, was made on 29 March 1954, or about 11 years after the
death of Catalino in 1942 or 1943.
The provisions of the Civil Code 4 on acknowledgment would readily indicate
that voluntary acknowledgment can legally be effected only during the
lifetime of both the acknowledging parent and the acknowledged illegitimate
child. When that voluntary recognition is so timely made, as above, an action
for its judicial declaration can survive the death of either or both parties (see
Gaspay, Jr. vs. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 102372, 15 November 1994). The
reason for this latter rule is that 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 (Art. 278, Civil Code) is, in itself, a consummated act of
acknowledgment of the child, and no further court action is required (see
Divinagracia vs. Bellosillo, 143 SCRA 356), albeit not prohibited, to yet have it
declared as such. When a party is so minded as to still bring an action on the
basis of such voluntary acknowledgment, no time frame for initiating it would
obviously be a constraint.
Parenthetically, where, 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 applicate statute of limitations 5 is essential in order to establish the
child's acknowledgment. Thus, the mere possession of status of a child,
contrary to the assertion in passing of petitioners, does not itself constitute an
acknowledgment; it is only a ground for the child to compel, by judicial action,
recognition by his assumed parent. 6
Petitioners, in their second and third assignment of errors, would want us to
reverse the Court of Appeals in finding: (a) that while petitioner Anunciacion

48

Gono-Javier was issued a Certificate of Repurchase (Exh. "N") on 20 June


1956, she was, however, fully refunded for the price paid and actual
redemption was, in truth, made by Juan Casocot and (b) that the deed of sale
executed by Juan Casocot, duly notarized, was validly executed. These factual
findings by the appellate court, having been amply explained and
substantiated by it, should not further be disturbed.
Petitioners take issue, finally, with the Court of Appeals in holding that
petitioners' action to nullify the deed of sale to private respondents is, in any
event, barred by the order of dismissal thereof by the then Court of First
Instance of Agusan in Civil Case No. 896, entitled "Juan Casocot vs. Restituta
Casocot and Fermin Casocot." Suffice it to say that an unconditional dismissal
of an action for failure to prosecute under Section 3, Rule 17, of the Rules of
Court is with prejudice and has the effect of an adjudication on the merits
(Guanzon vs. Mapa, 7 SCRA 457; Insular Veneer, Inc. vs. Plan, 73 SCRA 1).
All told, we find no valid justification for sustaining the petition.
WHEREFORE, the decision of the Court of Appeals is AFFIRMED. Costs against
petitioners.
SO ORDERED.
Bidin, Romero and Melo, JJ., concur.
Feliciano, J., is on leave.

49

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

50

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.

Q You are familiar with the signature of Flaviano Gaspay, are you familiar with
his penmanship?

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:Tomalisties Caibiran Leyte March 10, 1980 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
an 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.)
Flaviano Gaspay

A Yes, sir.

On the other hand, Exhibit "L" also written in "waray" was translated as
follows: Tomalisties, Caibiran, Leyte August 14, 1983 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.) Flaviano 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):

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?

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?

51

A That is Flaviano Gaspay's penmanship and signature.

A I see it.

We request your Honor that the signature below be marked as our EXHIBIT "L1".

Q Take a look at Exhibit "5"?


A I see that already.

Court:
Q Take a look at Exhibit "6"?
What date is that?
A I have seen it.
Atty. Bacolod:
Q Exhibit "7"?
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 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.

52

Q Not the one written by whom?

A Yes, sir.

A That are not letters of Gaspay.

Q As a result of this illicit relationship of the two, what happened?

Q Who is that Gaspay you are referring to?

A They bore a child.

A Flaviano Gaspay.

Q What do you mean when you said bore one child?

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 Claudia Pason gave birth to a child.

A Mistress of Flaviano Gaspay.

A Yes, sir.

Q Why did you say that Claudia Pason is the paramour or kerida of Flaviano
Gaspay?

Q Who?

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?

Q Do you know who this child is?

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.

53

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.

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

54

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.

55

G.R. No. L-28248 March 12, 1975


LEONORA PERIDO, joined by husband MANUEL PIROTE, INOCENCIA
PERIDO, ALBENIO PERIDO, PAULINO PERIDO, LETIA PERIDO, joined by
husband BIENVENIDO BALYAO, LETICIA PERIDO, joined by husband
FELIX VILLARUZ, EUFEMIA PERIDO, CONSOLACION PERIDO, ALFREDO
PERIDO, GEORGE PERIDO, AMPARO PERIDO, WILFREDO PERIDO,
MARGARITA PERIDO, ROLANDO SALDE and EDUARDO
SALDE, petitioners,
vs.
MARIA PERIDO, SOFRONIO PERIDO, JUAN A. PERIDO, GONZALO
PERIDO, PACITA PERIDO, MAGDALENA PERIDO, ALICIA PERIDO,
JOSEFINA PERIDO, FE PERIDO, TERESA PERIDO and LUZ
PERIDO, respondents.
Januario L. Jison, Jr. for petitioners.
Antonio T. de Jesus for respondents.

MAKALINTAL, C.J.:+.wph!1
This is an appeal by certiorari from the decision of the Court of Appeals in its
CA-G.R. No. 37034-R, affirming the decision of the Court of First Instance of
Negros Occidental in Civil Case No. 6529.
Lucio Perido of Himamaylan, Negros Occidental, married twice during his
lifetime. His first wife was Benita Talorong, with whom he begot three (3)
children: Felix, Ismael, and Margarita. After Benita died Lucio married
Marcelina Baliguat, with whom he had five (5) children: Eusebio, Juan, Maria,
Sofronia and Gonzalo. Lucio himself died in 1942, while his second wife died in
1943.
Of the three (3) children belonging to the first marriage only Margarita Perido
is still living. Her deceased brother, Felix Perido, is survived by his children
Inocencia, Leonora, Albinio, Paulino, Letia, Leticia, and Eufemia, all surnamed
Perido. Nicanora Perido, another daughter of Felix, is also deceased, but is
survived by two (2) sons, Rolando and Eduardo Salde.

Margarita's other deceased brother, Ismael Perido, is survived by his children,


namely: Consolacion, Alfredo, Wilfredo, and Amparo. Susano Perido, another
son of Ismael, is dead, but survived by his own son George Perido.
Of Lucio Perido's five (5) children by his second wife, two are already dead,
namely: Eusebio and Juan. Eusebio is survived by his children Magdalena
Perido, Pacita Perido, Alicia Perido, Josefina Perido, Fe Perido, Teresa Perido,
and Luz Perido, while Juan is survived by his only child, Juan A. Perido.
On August 15, 1960 the children and grandchildren of the first and second
marriages of Lucio Perido executed a document denominated as "Declaration
of Heirship and Extra-judicial Partition," whereby they partitioned among
themselves Lots Nos. 458, 471, 506, 511, 509, 513-B, 807, and 808, all of the
Cadastral Survey of Himamaylan, Occidental Negros.
Evidently the children belonging to the first marriage of Lucio Perido had
second thoughts about the partition. On March 8, 1962 they filed a complaint
in the Court of First Instance of Negros Occidental, which complaint was later
amended on February 22, 1963, against the children of the second marriage,
praying for the annulment of the so-called "Declaration of Heirship and ExtraJudicial Partition" and for another partition of the lots mentioned therein
among the plaintiffs alone. They alleged, among other things, that they had
been induced by the defendants to execute the document in question through
misrepresentation, false promises and fraudulent means; that the lots which
were partitioned in said document belonged to the conjugal partnership of the
spouses Lucio Perido and Benita Talorong, and that the five children of Lucio
Perido with Marcelina Baliguat were all illegitimate and therefore had no
successional rights to the estate of Lucio Perido, who died in 1942. The
defendants denied the foregoing allegations.
After trial the lower court rendered its decision dated July 31, 1965, annulling
the "Declaration of Heirship and Extra-Judicial Partition." However, it did not
order the partition of the lots involved among the plaintiffs exclusively in view
of its findings that the five children of Lucio Perido with his second wife,
Marcelina Baliguat, were legitimate; that all the lots, except Lot No. 458, were
the exclusive properties of Lucio Perido; and that 11/12 of Lot No. 458
belonged to the conjugal partnership of Lucio Perido and his second wife,
Marcelina Baliguat. The dispositive portion of the decision reads as
follows:t.hqw
IN VIEW OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the Court renders judgment
as follows: declaring the following as the legitimate children
and grandchildren and heirs of Lucio Perido and Benita

56

Talorong: Felix Perido, deceased; grandchildren: Inocencia


Perido, Leonora Perido, Albinio Perido, Paulino Perido, Letia
Perido, Leticia Perido, Eufemia Perido; Nicanora Perido,
deceased; great grandchildren: Rolando Salde and Eduardo
Salde; Ismael Perido, deceased; grandchildren: Consolacion
Perido, Alfredo Perido, Susano Perido, deceased; great
grandson: George Perido; Amparo Perido and Wilfredo Perido;
and, Margarita Perido; (2) declaring the following as the
legitimate children and grandchildren and heirs of Lucio Perido
and Marcelina Baliguat: Eusebio Perido, deceased;
grandchildren: Pacita Perido, Magdalena Perido, Alicia Perido,
Josefina Perido, Fe Perido, Teresa Perido, and Luz Perido; Juan
B. Perido, deceased; grandson, Juan A. Perido; Maria Perido;
Sofronia Perido; and Gonzalo Perido; (3) declaring all lots (471,
506, 511, 509, 513-part, 807, and 808) except Lot No. 458 as
exclusive properties of Lucio Perido so that each of them
should be divided into eight (8) equal parts: 1/8 belongs to
Felix Perido, but because of his death leaving eight (8)
children, the same should be divided and alloted as follows:
1/64 to Inocencia Perido of age, widow; 1/64 to Leonora
Perido, of age, married to Manuel Pirote; 1/64 to Albinio
Perido, of age, married to Honorata Villasana; 1/64 to Paulino
Perido, of age, married to Norma Villalba 1/64 to Letia Perido,
of age, married to Bienvenido Balyac; 1/64 to Leticia Perido, of
age, married to Felix Villaruz; 1/64 to Eufemia Perido, of age,
single; 1/64 to Nicanora Perido, but because she is now dead
the same should be divided and alloted as follows: 1/128 to
Rolando Salde, of age, single; and 1/128 to Eduardo Salde, of
age, single; 1/8 belongs to Ismael Perido, but because he is
already dead leaving five children, the same should be divided
and alloted as follows: 1/40 to Consolacion Perido, of age,
widow; 1/40 to Alfredo Perido, of age married to Trinidad
Tamargo; 1/40 to Susano Perido, but he is already dead with
one son, the same goes to George Perido, of age, single; 1/40
to Wilfredo Perido, of age, single; 1/8 belongs to Margarita
Perido, of age, widow; 1/8 belongs to Eusebio Perido, but
because he is already dead with seven children, the same
should be divided and alloted as follows: 1/56 goes to Pacita
Perido, of age, single; 1/56 goes to Magdalena Perido, of age,
single; 1/56 goes to Alicia Perido, of age, married to Isaias
Ruiz; 1/56 goes to Josefina Perido, of age, married to Leopoldo
Doloroso; 1/56 goes to Fe Perido, of age, single; 1/56 goes to
Teresa Perido, of are single; 1/56 goes to Luz Perido, of age,
married to Fidel de la Cruz; 1/8 belongs to Juan B. Perido, but
because he is already dead with one child, the same 1/8 goes

to Juan A. Perido, of age, married to Salud Salgado 1/8 goes to


Maria Perido. of age, married to Julio Pirote; 1/8 goes to
Sofronia Perido, of age, widow; and, 1/8 goes to Gonzalo
Perido, of age, married to Lacomemoracion Estiller; (4)
declaring the 11/12 shares in Lot No. 458 as conjugal
partnership property of Lucio Perido and Marcelina Baliguat,
which should be divided and alloted as follows: 11/24 goes to
Lucio Perido to be divided into eight (8) equal shares and
11/24 goes to Marcelina Baliguat to be divided into five (5)
equal shares or 11/120 for each of the children and again to
be divided by the children of each child now deceased; (6)
declaring Fidel Perido owner of 1/12 share in Lot 458 to be
divided among his heirs to be determined accordingly later;
and (6) declaring null and void Exhibit "J" of the plaintiffs
which is Exhibit "10" for the defendants, without costs and
without adjudication with respect to the counterclaim and
damages, they being members of the same family, for equity
and justice.
The plaintiffs appealed to the Court of Appeals, alleging that the trial court
erred: (1) in declaring that Eusebio Perido, Juan Perido, Maria Perido, Sofronia
Perido and Gonzalo Perido, were the legitimate children of Lucio Perido and his
second wife, Marcelina Baliguat; (2) in declaring that Lucio Perido was the
exclusive owner of Lots Nos. 471, 506, 511, 509, 513-Part, 807, and 808 of
Cadastral Survey of Himamaylan, Negros Occidental, and in not declaring that
said lots were the conjugal partnership property of Lucio Perido and his first
wife, Benita Talorong; and (3) in holding that 11/12 of Lot 458 was the
conjugal partnership property of Lucio Perido and Marcelina Baliguat.
Finding no reversible error in the decision of the lower court, the Court of
Appeals affirmed it in toto. The appellants moved to reconsider but were
turned down. Thereupon they instituted he instant petition for review
reiterating in effect the assignments of error and the arguments in the brief
they submitted to the appellate court.
The first issue pertains to the legitimacy of the five children of Lucio Perido
with Marcelina Baliguat. The petitioners insist that said children were
illegitimate on the theory that the first three were born out of wedlock even
before the death of Lucio Perido's first wife, while the last two were also born
out of wedlock and were not recognized by their parents before or after their
marriage. In support of their contention they allege that Benita Talorong died
in 1905, after the first three children were born, as testified to by petitioner
Margarita Perido and corroborated by petitioner Leonora Perido; that as late as
1923 Lucio Perido was still a widower, as shown on the face of the certificates

57

of title issued to him in said year; and Lucio Perido married his second wife,
Marcelina Baliguat, only in 1925, as allegedly established through the
testimony of petitioner Leonora Perido.

In view of the foregoing the Court of Appeals did not err in concluding that the
five children of Lucio Perido and Marcelina Baliguat were born during their
marriage and, therefore, legitimate.

The petition cannot be sustained. The Court of Appeals found that there was
evidence to show that Lucio Perido's wife, Benita Talorong, died during the
Spanish regime. This finding conclusive upon us and beyond our power of
review. Under the circumstance, Lucio Perido had no legal impediment to
marry Marcelina Baliguat before the birth of their first child in 1900.

The second assignment of error refers to the determination of whether or not


Lots Nos. 471, 506, 511, 509-513-Part, 807 and 808 were the exclusive
properties of Lucio Perido. In disposing of the contention of the petitioners that
said lots belong to the conjugal partnership of spouses Lucio Perido and Benita
Talorong, the Court of Appeals said:t.hqw

With respect to the civil status of Lucio Perido as stated in the certificates of
title issued to him in 1923, the Court of Appeals correctly held that the
statement was not conclusive to show that he was not actually married to
Marcelina Baliguat. Furthermore, it is weak and insufficient to rebut the
presumption that persons living together husband and wife are married to
each other. This presumption, especially where legitimacy of the issue is
involved, as in this case, may be overcome only by cogent proof on the part of
those who allege the illegitimacy. In the case of Adong vs. Cheong Seng
Gee 1 this Court explained the rationale behind this presumption, thus: "The
basis of human society throughout the civilized world is that of marriage.
Marriage in this jurisdiction is not only a civil contract, but it is a new relation,
an institution in the maintenance of which the public is deeply interested.
Consequently, every intendment of the law leans toward legalizing matrimony.
Persons dwelling together in apparent matrimony are presumed, in the
absence of any counter-presumption or evidence special to the case, to be in
fact married. The reason is that such is the common order of society, and if
the parties were not what they thus hold themselves out as being, they would
he living in the constant violation of decency and of law. A presumption
established by our Code of Civil Procedure is "that a man and woman
deporting themselves as husband and wife have entered into a lawful contract
of marriage." (Sec. 334, No. 28) Semper praesumitur pro matrimonio
Always presume marriage."
While the alleged marriage ceremony in 1925, if true, might tend to rebut the
presumption of marriage arising from previous cohabitation, it is to be noted
that both the trial court and the appellate court did not even pass upon the
uncorroborated testimony of petitioner Leonora Perido on the matter. The
reason is obvious. Said witness, when asked why she knew that Marcelina
Baliguat was married to Lucio Perido only in 1925, merely replied that she
knew it because "during the celebration of the marriage by the Aglipayan
priest (they) got flowers from (their) garden and placed in the altar." Evidently
she was not even an eyewitness to the ceremony.

... We cannot agree again with them on this point. It is to be


noted that the lands covered by the certificates of title (Exhs.
B to G) were all declared in the name of Lucio Perido. Then
there is evidence showing that the lands were inherited by
Lucio Perido from his grandmother (t.s.n., p. 21, Feb. 20,
1964). In other words, they were the exclusive properties of
the late Lucio Perido which he brought into the first and
second marriages. By fiat of law said Properties should be
divided accordingly among his legal heirs.
The petitioners take exception to the finding of the appellate court that the
aforementioned lots were inherited by Lucio Perido from his grandmother and
contend that they were able to establish through the testimonies of their
witnesses that the spouses Lucio Perido and Benita Talorong acquired them
during their lifetime. Again, the petitioners cannot be sustained. The question
involves appreciation of the evidence, which is within the domain of the Court
of Appeals, the factual findings of which are not reviewable by this Court.
The third assignment of error is with regard to the ruling of the Court of
Appeals sustaining the finding of the trial court that 11/12 of Lot 458 was the
conjugal partnership property of Lucio Perido and his second wife, Marcelina
Baliguat. Said the appellate court:t.hqw
With respect to Lot No. 458 which is now covered by Original
Certificate of Title No. 21769 issued in 1925 the same should
be considered conjugally owned by Lucio Perido and his
second wife, Marcelina Baliguat. The finding of the lower court
on this point need not be disturbed. It is expressly stated in
the certificate of title (Exh. L) that Lucio Perido, the registered
owner, was married to Marcelina Baliguat unlike in the
previous land titles. If the law presumes a property registered
in the name of only one of the spouses to be conjugal
(Guinguing vs. Abutin, 48 Phil. 144; Flores vs. Flores, 48 Phil.
288, Escutin vs. Escutin, 60 Phil. 922), the presumption

58

becomes stronger when the document recites that the spouse


in whose name the land is registered is married to somebody
else, like in the case at bar. It appearing that the legal
presumption that the No. 458 belonged to the conjugal
partnership had not been overcome by clear proofs to the
contrary, we are constrained to rule, that the same is the
conjugal property of the deceased spouses Lucio Perido and
Marcelina Baliguat.
In impugning the foregoing ruling, the petitioners maintain that they were
able to prove that 6/12 of said Lot 458 was the conjugal property of spouses
Lucio Perido and his first wife, Benita Talorong, and that the purchase price of
the additional 5/12 of said lot came from the proceeds of sale of a lot allegedly
belonging to Lucio Perido and his three children of the first marriage. As in the
second assignment of error, the issue raised here also involves appreciation of
the evidence and, consequently, the finding of the appellate court on the
matter is binding on this Court. Indeed, a review of that finding would require
an examination of all the evidence introduced before the trial court, a
consideration of the credibility of witnesses and of the circumstances
surrounding the case, their relevancy or relation to one another and to the
whole, as well as an appraisal of the probabilities of the entire situation. It
would thus abolish the distinction between an ordinary appeal on the one
hand and review on certiorari on the other, and thus defeat the purpose for
which the latter procedure has been established. 2
WHEREFORE, the decision of the Court of Appeals is hereby affirmed, with
costs against the petitioners.
Castro, Teehankee, Makasiar and Esguerra, JJ., concur.1wph1.t
Muoz Palma, J., is on leave

59

G.R. No. 77867 February 6, 1990

hearing on her motion, Carmelita presented evidence to prove her claimed


status to which Isabel was allowed to submit counter-evidence.

ISABEL DE LA PUERTA, petitioner,


vs.
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS and CARMELITA DE LA
PUERTA, respondents.

On November 12,1982, the probate court granted the motion, declaring that it
was satisfied from the evidence at hand that Carmelita was a natural child of
Vicente de la Puerta and was entitled to the amounts claimed for her support.
The court added that "the evidence presented by the petitioner against it
(was) too weak to discredit the same. 8

Isabel de la Puerta for and in her own behalf.


Gilbert D. Camaligan for private respondent.

On appeal, the order of the lower court was affirmed by the respondent
court, 9 which is now in turn being challenged in this petition before us.

CRUZ, J.:

The petitioner's main argument is that Carmelita was not the natural child of
Vicente de la Puerta, who was married to Genoveva de la Puerta in 1938 and
remained his wife until his death in 1978. Carmelita's real parents are Juanita
Austrial and Gloria Jordan.

The basic issue involved in this case is the filiation of private respondent
Carmelita de la Puerta, who claims successional lights to the estate of her
alleged grandmother.
Dominga Revuelta died on July 3, 1966, at the age of 92, with a will leaving
her properties to her three surviving children, namely, Alfredo, Vicente and
Isabel, all surnamed de la Puerta. Isabel was given the free portion in addition
to her legitime and was appointed executrix of the will. 1
The petition for the probate of the will filed by Isabel was opposed by her
brothers, who averred that their mother was already senile at the time of the
execution of the will and did not fully comprehend its meaning. Moreover,
some of the properties listed in the inventory of her estate belonged to them
exclusively. 2
Meantime, Isabel was appointed special administratrix by the probate
court. 3 Alfredo subsequently died, leaving Vicente the lone oppositor.

On August 1, 1974, Vicente de la Puerta filed with the Court of First Instance of
Quezon a petition to adopt Carmelita de la Puerta. After hearing, the petition
was granted. 5 However, the decision was appealed by Isabel to the Court of
Appeals. During the pendency of the appeal, Vicente died, prompting her to
move for the dismissal of the case 6
On November 20, 1981, Carmelita, having been allowed to intervene in the
probate proceedings, filed a motion for the payment to her of a monthly
allowance as the acknowledged natural child of Vicente de la Puerta. 7 At the

Invoking the presumption of legitimacy, she argues that Carmelita was the
legitimate child of Juanita Austrial and Gloria Jordan, who were legally or
presumably married. Moreover, Carmelita could not have been a natural child
of Vicente de la Puerta because he was already married at the time of her
birth in 1962.
To prove her point, Isabel presented Amado Magpantay, who testified that he
was a neighbor of Austrial and Jordan. According to him, the two were living as
husband and wife and had three children, including a girl named "Puti,"
presumably Carmelita. He said though that he was not sure if the couple was
legally married. 10
Another witness, Genoveva de la Puerta, Identified herself as Vicente de la
Puerta's wife but said they separated two years after their marriage in 1938
and were never reconciled. In 1962, Gloria Jordan started living with Vicente
de la Puerta in his house, which was only five or six houses away from where
she herself was staying. Genoveva said that the relationship between her
husband and Gloria was well known in the community. 11
In finding for Carmelita, the lower court declared that:
. . . By her evidence, it was shown to the satisfaction of the
Court that she was born on December 18, 1962 per her birth
certificate (Exh. A); that her father was Vicente de la Puerta
and her mother is Gloria Jordan who were living as common

60

law husband and wife until his death on June 14, 1978; that
Vicente de la Puerta was married to, but was separated from,
his legal wife Genoveva de la Puerta; that upon the death of
Vicente de la Puerta on June 14, 1978 without leaving a last
will and testament, she was the only child who survived him
together with his spouse Genoveva de la Puerta with whom he
did not beget any child; that she was treated by Vicente de la
Puerta as a true child from the time of her birth until his father
died; that the fact that she was treated as a child of Vicente
de la Puerta is shown by the family pictures showing movant
with Vicente de la Puerta (Exhs. D, D-1 and D-2) and school
records wherein he signed the report cards as her parent (Exh.
E and E-1); that during the hearing of her adoption case in
Special Proceeding No. 0041 in Branch V of this Court at
Mauban, Quezon, Vicente de la Puerta categorically stated in
court that Carmelita de la Puerta is his daughter with Gloria
Jordan (Exhs. B and B-1); that it was Vicente de la Puerta
during his lifetime who spent for her subsistence, support and
education; . . . 12

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 is a factual finding that we do not see fit to disturb, absent any of those
circumstances we have laid down in a long line of decisions that will justify
reversal. 13 Among these circumstances are: (1) the conclusion is a finding
grounded entirely on speculation, surmise and conjecture; (2) the inference
made is manifestly mistaken; (3) there is grave abuse of discretion; (4) the
judgment is based on a misapprehension of facts; (5) the findings of fact are
conflicting; (6) the Court of Appeals went beyond the issues of the case and
its findings are contrary to the admissions of both appellant and appellees; (7)
the findings of fact of the Court of Appeals are contrary to those of the trial
court; (8) said findings of facts are conclusions without citation of specific
evidence on which they are based; (9) the facts set forth in the petition as well
as in the petitioner's main and reply briefs are not disputed by the
respondents; and (10) the findings of fact of the Court of Appeals are
premised on the supposed absence of evidence and contradicted by the
evidence on record.

These rules are in turn based on the presumption that Juanito and Gloria were
married at the time of Carmelita's birth in 1962, pursuant to Rule 131, Sec.
5(bb) of the Rules of Court, providing that:

The petitioner insists on the application of the following provisions of the Civil
Code to support her thesis that Carmelita is not the natural child of Vicente de
la Puerta but the legitimate child of Juanito Austrial and Gloria Jordan:
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.

This physical impossibility may be caused:


(1) By the impotence of the husband;
(2) By the fact that the husband and wife were living
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.

Sec. 5. Disputable presumptions.The following presumptions


are satisfactory if uncontradicted, but may be contradicted
and overcome by other evidence:
xxx xxx xxx
(bb) That a man and woman deporting themselves as husband
and wife have entered into a lawful contract of marriage;
But this last-quoted presumption is merely disputable and may be refuted with
evidence to the contrary. As the Court sees it, such evidence has been
sufficiently established in the case at bar.
The cases 14 cited by the petitioner are not exactly in point because they
involve situations where the couples lived continuously as husband and wife
and so could be reasonably presumed to be married. In the case before us,
there was testimony from Vicente's own wife that her husband and Gloria
lived together as a married couple, thereby rebutting the presumption that
Gloria was herself the lawful wife of Juanita Austrial.

61

Such testimony would for one thing show that Juanito and Gloria did not
continuously live together as a married couple. Moreover, it is not explained
why, if he was really married to her, Juanito did not object when Gloria left the
conjugal home and started openly consorting with Vicente, and in the same
neighborhood at that. That was unnatural, to say the least. It was different
with Genoveva for she herself swore that she had separated from Vicente two
years after their marriage and had long lost interest in her husband. In fact,
she even renounced in open court any claim to Vicente's estate. 15
The presumption of marriage between Juanito and Gloria having been
destroyed, it became necessary for the petitioner to submit additional proof to
show that the two were legally married. She did not.
Turning now to the evidence required to prove the private respondent's
filiation, we reject the petitioner's contention that Article 278 of the Civil Code
is not available to Carmelita. It is error to contend that as she is not a natural
child but a spurious child (if at all) she cannot prove her status by the record
of birth, a will, a statement before a court of record, or any authentic writing.
On the contrary, it has long been settled that:
The so-called spurious children or illegitimate children other
than natural children, commonly known as bastards, include
adulterous children or those born out of wedlock to a married
woman cohabiting with a man other than her husband or to a
married man cohabiting with a woman other than his wife.
They are entitled to support and successional rights (Art. 287,
CC). But their filiation must be duly proven.(Ibid, Art. 887)
How should their filiation be proven? Article 289 of the Civil
Code allows the investigation of the paternity or maternity of
spurious children under the circumstances specified in Articles
283 and 284 of the Civil Code. The implication is that the rules
on compulsory recognition of natural children are applicable to
spurious children.
Spurious children should not be in a better position than
natural children. The rules on proof of filiation of natural
children or the rule on voluntary and compulsory
acknowledgment for natural children may be applied to
spurious children. 16
This being so, we need not rule now on the admissibility of the private
respondent's certificate of birth as proof of her filiation. That status was
sufficiently established by the sworn testimony of Vicente de la Puerta at the

hearing of the petition for adoption on September 6, 1976, where he


categorically declared as follows:
Q What relation if any do you have with
Carmelita de la Puerta?
A She is my daughter.

17

Finally, we move to the most crucial question, to wit: May Carmelita de la


Puerta claim support and successional rights to the estate of Dominga
Revuelta?
According to Article 970 of the Civil Code:
Art. 970. Representation is a right created by fiction of law, by
virtue of which the representative is raised to the place and
the degree of the person represented, and acquires the rights
which the latter would have if he were living or if he could
have inherited.
The answer to the question posed must be in the negative. The first reason is
that Vicente de la Puerta did not predecease his mother; and the second is
that Carmelita is a spurious child.
It is settled that
In testamentary succession, the right of representation can
take place only in the following cases: first, when the person
represented dies before the testator; second, when the person
represented is incapable of succeeding the testator; and third,
when the person represented is disinherited by the testator. In
all of these cases, since there is a vacancy in the inheritance,
the law calls the children or descendants of the person
represented to succeed by right of representation. 18
xxx xxx xxx
The law is clear that there is representation only when
relatives of a deceased person try to succeed him in his rights
which he would have had if still living. In the present case,
however, said deceased had already succeeded his aunt, the
testatrix herein. . . . It is a fact that at the time of the death of
the testatrix, Reynaldo Cuison was still alive. He died two

62

months after her (testatrix's) death. And upon his death, he


transmitted to his heirs, the petitioners herein Elisa Cuison et
al., the legacy or the right to succeed to the legacy. . . . In
other words, the herein petitioners-appellants are not trying to
succeed to the right to the property of the testatrix, but rather
to the right of the legatee Reynaldo Cuison in said property. 19
Not having predeceased Dominga Revuelta, her son Vicente had the right to
inherit from her directly or in his own right. No right of representation was
involved, nor could it be invoked by Carmelita upon her father's death, which
came after his own mother's death. It would have been different if Vicente was
already dead when Dominga Revuelta died. Carmelita could then have
inherited from her in representation of her father Vicente, assuming the
private respondent was a lawful heir.
But herein lies the crux, for she is not. As a spurious child of Vicente,
Carmelita is barred from inheriting from Dominga because of Article 992 of the
Civil Code, which lays down the barrier between the legitimate and
illegitimate families. This article provides quite clearly:
Art. 992. An illegitimate child has no right to inherit ab
intestato from the legitimate children and relatives of his
father or mother; nor shall such children or relatives inherit in
the same manner from the illegitimate child.
Applying this rule in Leonardo v. Court of Appeals,

20

this Court declared:

. . . even if it is true that petitioner is the child of Sotero


Leonardo, still he cannot, by right of representation, claim a
share of the estate left by the deceased Francisca Reyes
considering that, as found again by the Court of Appeals, he
was born outside wedlock as shown by the fact that when he
was born, his alleged putative father and mother were not yet
married, and what is more, his alleged father's first marriage
was still subsisting. At most, petitioner would be an
illegitimate child who has no right to inherit ab intestato from
the legitimate children and relatives of his father, like the
deceased Francisca Reyes.
The reason for this rule was explained in the recent case of Diaz v.
Intermediate Appellate Court, 21 thus:

intestato between the illegitimate child and the legitimate


children and relatives of the father or mother of said
legitimate child. They may have a natural tie of blood, but this
is not recognized by law for the purpose of Article 992.
Between the legitimate family and the illegitimate family there
is presumed to be an intervening antagonism and
incompatibility. The illegitimate child is disgracefully looked
down upon by the legitimate family; the family is in turn,
hated by the illegitimate child the latter considers the
privileged condition of the former, and the resources of which
it is thereby deprived; the former in turn sees in the
illegitimate child nothing but the product of sin, palpable
evidence of a blemish broken in life; the law does no more
than recognize this truth, by avoiding further ground of
resentment. 22
Indeed, even as an adopted child, Carmelita would still be barred from
inheriting from Dominga Revuelta for there would be no natural kindred ties
between them and consequently, no legal ties to bind them either. As aptly
pointed out by Dr. Arturo M. Tolentino:
If the adopting parent should die before the adopted child, the
latter cannot represent the former in the inheritance from the
parents or ascendants of the adopter. The adopted child is not
related to the deceased in that case, because the filiation
created by fiction of law is exclusively between the adopter
and the adopted. "By adoption, the adopters can make for
themselves an heir, but they cannot thus make one for their
kindred. 23
The result is that Carmelita, as the spurious daughter of Vicente de la Puerta,
has successional rights to the intestate estate of her father but not to the
estate of Dominga Revuelta. Her claims for support and inheritance should
therefore be filed in the proceedings for the settlement of her own father's
estate 24 and cannot be considered in the probate of Dominga Revuelta's Will.
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED and the appealed decision is hereby
REVERSED and SET ASIDE, with costs against the private respondent. It is so
ordered.
Narvasa, Gancayco, Grio-Aquino and Medialdea, JJ., concur.

Article 992 of the New Civil Code provides a barrier or iron


curtain in that it prohibits absolutely a succession ab

63

SECOND DIVISION
[A.C. No. 2115. November 27, 1990.]
FELICIDAD BARIAN TAN, Complainant, v. ATTY. GALILEO J.
TROCIO, Respondent.
Jose A. Tolentino, Jr., for complainant.
SYLLABUS

1. LEGAL ETHICS; DISBARMENT OF LAWYERS; CHARGE OF IMMORALITY, NOT


ESTABLISHED IN THE CASE AT BAR. The issue for determination is whether
or not Respondent should be disbarred for immoral conduct. This, in turn,
hinges on the question of whether he had, in fact, sexually assault the
Complainant, as a consequence of which the latter begot a child by him. We
find insufficient basis to sustain Complainants charge. The outrage allegedly
took place during the last week of April, 1971. Yet, no criminal charge was
filed, and it was only about eight years later, on 5 November 1979, that an
administrative complaint was presented before this Court. Complainants
explanation that Respondents threat to cause the deportation of her alien
husband should she report to anyone made her desist from filing a charge is
not credible as she had admitted having lost contact with her husband when
he learned of respondents transgression that very same evening (p. 3, TSN,
16 October 1980, p. 46, Rollo). The fear that she speaks of, therefore, had
become inexistent. Another factor that engenders doubt in the mind of the
Court is the fact that after the alleged incident, she continued having dealings
with the Respondent as if nothing had happened. Thus, by Respondents own
account, which was left uncontroverted by the Complainant, the former
assisted her mother and sisters prosecute a robbery case. Then in March,
1976, she secured respondents services in claiming indemnity from three
insurance companies when a fire burned the school down. Finally, respondent
was retained as a collaborating attorney by complainants family in an
inheritance case. These subsequent dealings are far from being the normal
reaction of a woman who has been wronged. Complainants contention that
Respondent continued supporting the child for several years for which reason
she desisted from charging him criminally, has not been substantiated. Truth
to tell, the fact that she kept her peace for so many years can even be
construed as a condonation of his alleged "immoral conduct." It is likewise
strange that an unwanted son, as the child would normally have been, should,
of all names, be called "Jewel."cralaw virtua1aw library
2. CIVIL LAW; PATERNITY AND FILIATION; PROOF OF FILIATION; UNUSUAL
CLOSENESS AND PHYSICAL LIKENESS, CONSIDERED INCONCLUSIVE EVIDENCE.
The testimonies of Complainant and witness Marilou Pangandaman,
another maid, to show unusual closeness between Respondent and Jewel, like
playing with him and giving him toys, are not convincing enough to prove

64

paternity, as Complainant would want us to believe. The same must be said of


Exhibits A, A1, B and B1, which are pictures of Jewel and the Respondent
showing allegedly their physical likeness to each other. Such evidence is
inconclusive to prove paternity, and much less would it prove violation of
Complainants person and honor.
3. ID.; ID.; LEGITIMATE CHILDREN; PRESUMPTION OF LEGITIMACY, NOT
OVERCOME BY ADEQUATE AND CONVINCING PROOF IN THE CASE AT BAR.
More importantly, Jewel Tan was born in 1972, during wedlock of Complainant
and her husband and the presumption should be in favor of legitimacy unless
physical access between the couple was impossible. From the evidence on
hand, the presumption has not been overcome by adequate and convincing
proof. In fact, Jewel was registered in his birth certificate the legitimate child of
the Complainant and her husband, Tan Le Pok.
DECISION
MELENCIO-HERRERA, J.:
In a verified complaint, filed on 9 November 1979, complainant Felicidad
Barian Tan seeks the disbarment of respondent Atty. Galileo J. Trocio for
immorality and conduct unbecoming of a lawyer.
Complainant, owner and directress of Harlyn Vocational School in Baroy,
Lanao del Norte, declares that sometime in April, 1971, at about 8:30 PM,
after classes were dismissed, respondent, who is the legal counsel of the
school, overpowered her inside the office and, against her will, succeeded in
having carnal knowledge of her. As a result, she begot a son on 5 February
1972 whom she named and registered as Jewel Tan. She avers that
respondent used to support Jewel but subsequently lost interest in doing so
thereby neglecting to defray the needed expenses for Jewels well-being.
Complainant also alleges that the respondent threatened her with the
deportation of her alien husband if she complained to the authorities since
she was violating the Anti-Dummy Law in operating the vocational school. This
threat, aside from the fact that Complainant is a married woman with eight
children and a school directress at the time of the sexual assault, made her
desist from filing a charge against the Respondent. However, after eight years
and thorough soul-searching, she decided to file this administrative
complaint.chanrobles virtual lawlibrary
Respondent, in his Answer, admits having acted as a lawyer of the vocational
school. In fact, he contends that he had also served as the lawyer of the
Complainant, her family and her parents-in-law. Thus, in 1971, he helped
prosecute a case for robbery committed against Complainants mother and
sisters. Also, in March of 1976, when a fire of unknown origin gutted the
school, he assisted the complainant in collecting P10,000.00 from FGU
Insurance Group, and P40,000.00 from Fortune Insurance Corporation as

indemnities. With regard to the same case, he also represented complainant


in a suit involving a P130,000.00 claim against the Workmens Insurance
Corporation before the then Court of First Instance of Lanao del Norte. Then in
1978, he was retained as a collaborating attorney by Complainants family in
an inheritance case. Further, her father-in-law had always consulted him in
matters affecting the formers store.
But respondent vehemently denies that he had sexually assaulted the
Complainant. He argues that her motivation in filing this charge was to get
even with him after having been humiliated when he declined her request to
commit a "breach of trust." He states that in the inheritance case he handled
for her family, Complainant insisted that he report to her mother and sisters
that he had charged a fee of P15,000.00 instead of the P2,500.00 he actually
received so that she could pocket the difference. He refused and told the
Complainant to look for another lawyer. She tried twice to make peace with
him but was unsuccessful. Rebuffed, she promised to get even with him. Thus,
this complaint.chanrobles.com:cralaw:red
Another reason why Complainant filed the present case, respondent claims, is
to escape her indebtedness to him representing his services as legal counsel
of the school which were unpaid since 1974 and the accumulated honoraria
from her fire insurance claims. These obligations were left unpaid despite
demand made when respondent learned that Complainant had sold a piece of
land in Agusan.
On 2 June 1980, the Court, acting upon the Complaint and the Answer already
filed, referred the case to the Office of the Solicitor General for investigation,
report and recommendation.
On 19 August 1980, said Office, upon the request of the Complainant that the
investigation be held in Lanao del Norte as she and her witnesses could not
afford to come to Manila, referred the case to the Provincial Fiscal of said
province for the necessary proceedings.
Between September and October of 1980, hearings were conducted on the
case. In a Report and Recommendation, dated 16 January 1981, the Provincial
Fiscal stated that respondent failed to attend the hearing despite the issuance
of subpoena; that there was prima facie evidence showing that respondent
had committed acts violative of his professional decorum; and, that he was
recommending disciplinary action against him. The records of the case were
then forwarded to the Office of the Solicitor General.
On 1 September 1982, the Office of the Solicitor General returned the records
to the Provincial Fiscal of Lanao del Norte for re-investigation on the ground
that the investigation was conducted in the absence of respondent, who did

65

not appear despite subpoenas sent to him. Thus, further proceedings were
conducted by the Provincial Fiscal wherein Respondent was allowed to submit
a sworn letter, dated 13 December 1985, amplifying on the defenses
contained in his Answer.

when a fire burned the school down. Finally, respondent was retained as a
collaborating attorney by complainants family in an inheritance case. These
subsequent dealings are far from being the normal reaction of a woman who
has been wronged.

On 13 February 1986, the Provincial Fiscal of Lanao del Norte issued a


Resolution adopting his previous Report and Recommendation of 16 January
1981, which found prima facie evidence to hold Respondent administratively
liable. On the same day, the records of the case were referred back to the
Office the Solicitor General.

Complainants contention that Respondent continued supporting the child for


several years for which reason she desisted from charging him criminally, has
not been substantiated. Truth to tell, the fact that she kept her peace for so
many years can even be construed as a condonation of his alleged "immoral
conduct." It is likewise strange that an unwanted son, as the child would
normally have been, should, of all names, be called "Jewel."cralaw virtua1aw
library

On 16 May 1986, the Office of the Solicitor General came up with its own
Report recommending that Respondent be disbarred for gross immoral
conduct. On 17 July 1986, as directed by the Court, the Solicitor General filed
a formal Complaint for disbarment against Respondent. On 29 May 1990, the
case was raffled to this Second Division and was included in the latters
agenda on 13 June 1990.
Respondent has filed an Answer, Complainant her Reply, while Respondents
Rejoinder, as required by the Court, was received on 3 October 1990. The
required pleadings being complete, this case is now ripe for resolution.
The issue for determination is whether or not Respondent should be disbarred
for immoral conduct. This, in turn, hinges on the question of whether he had,
in fact, sexually assault the Complainant, as a consequence of which the latter
begot a child by him.
We find insufficient basis to sustain Complainants charge.
The outrage allegedly took place during the last week of April, 1971. Yet, no
criminal charge was filed, and it was only about eight years later, on 5
November 1979, that an administrative complaint was presented before this
Court. Complainants explanation that Respondents threat to cause the
deportation of her alien husband should she report to anyone made her desist
from filing a charge is not credible as she had admitted having lost contact
with her husband when he learned of respondents transgression that very
same evening (p. 3, TSN, 16 October 1980, p. 46, Rollo). The fear that she
speaks of, therefore, had become inexistent.chanrobles.com:cralaw:red
Another factor that engenders doubt in the mind of the Court is the fact that
after the alleged incident, she continued having dealings with the Respondent
as if nothing had happened. Thus, by Respondents own account, which was
left uncontroverted by the Complainant, the former assisted her mother and
sisters prosecute a robbery case. Then in March, 1976, she secured
respondents services in claiming indemnity from three insurance companies

During the investigation before the Provincial Fiscal, the complainant, aside
from herself, presented two other witnesses, Eleuteria Garcia and Marilou
Pangandaman, both her domestic help, to testify. Among the three, it was
Eleuteria who tried to establish the manner in which the sexual assault took
place. Thus:chanrobles virtual lawlibrary
"x
x
x
"Q You stated in your affidavit marked Annex A that you heard Felicidad
Barian Tan shouted (sic) for help on the evening of last week of April, 1971,
can you tell me or do you know why Mrs. Tan shouted for help?
"A Yes sir. When I responded to the shout for help of Tan I noticed that Atty.
Galileo Trocio, hurriedly left the office leaving behind Mrs. Felicidad Barian
Tan.
"Q Did you ask Mrs. Felicidad Barian Tan why she was shouting for help?
"A Before I could ask her the reason why she shouted for help, she told me
and Marilou Pangandaman that she was sexually abused by Atty. Galileo J.
Trocio.
"Q What did you notice of Mrs. Felicidad Barian Tan when you responded to
her shout for help?
"A She was crying and trying to fix her dress.." . . (p. 52-53, Rollo)."cralaw
virtua1aw library
However, how near to the crime scene said witness was, considering that it
allegedly happened in school premises, has not been shown. Her credibility is
thus also put in issue.
The testimonies of Complainant and witness Marilou Pangandaman, another
maid, to show unusual closeness between Respondent and Jewel, like playing
with him and giving him toys, are not convincing enough to prove paternity,
as Complainant would want us to believe. The same must be said of Exhibits
A, A1, B and B1, which are pictures of Jewel and the Respondent showing
allegedly their physical likeness to each other. Such evidence is inconclusive
to prove paternity, and much less would it prove violation of Complainants

66

person and honor.chanrobles.com : virtual law library


More importantly, Jewel Tan was born in 1972, during wedlock of Complainant
and her husband and the presumption should be in favor of legitimacy unless
physical access between the couple was impossible. From the evidence on
hand, the presumption has not been overcome by adequate and convincing
proof. In fact, Jewel was registered in his birth certificate the legitimate child of
the Complainant and her husband, Tan Le Pok.
WHEREFORE, this Complaint for disbarment must be, and is hereby
DISMISSED, for lack of convincing substantiation.
SO ORDERED.

67

G.R. No. 71994 May 31, 1990


EDNA PADILLA MANGULABNAN as guardian ad litem for minor ALFIE
ANGELO ACERO, petitioner,
vs.
THE HONORABLE INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE COURT AND AMBROCIO
TAN CHEW ACERO, respondents.

II
THE APPELLATE COURT REFUSED TO ACCEPT THAT THE BIRTH CERTIFICATE IN
THIS CASE CONSTITUTED VOLUNTARY RECOGNITION;
III
THE APPELLATE COURT IN ONE STROKE PUT TO NAUGHT THE REMEDY OR
RELIEF PROVIDED BY SUPPORT PENDENTE LITE. 2

GANCAYCO, J.:

The petition is impressed with merit.

This is a case of an illegitimate child who was denied support pendente lite by
the appellate court. The child is confused as to what he is supposed to do.
Petitioner pictured a big man eating a small child which will not fail to repel
and horrify all decent men. She contends that this very image readily forms
itself in the mind when we consider this case.

In the questioned decision of the appellate court, the following disquisitions


were made:

Petitioner filed in the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City an action for actual,
compensatory and moral damages and support for her child Alfie Angelo.
Pending the litigation an application for support pendente lite was filed to
which an opposition was filed by private respondent. On November 2, 1984
the trial court ordered private respondent to pay monthly support in the
amount of P1,500.00 to the minor child, Alfie. Private respondent moved for a
reconsideration but his motion was denied on December 5, 1984.
Hence, a petition for certiorari was filed in the Court of Appeals questioning
the said order of the trial court.
In a decision dated March 29, 1984 1 the petition was granted and the orders
of the trial court dated November 2, 1984 were annulled without
pronouncement as to costs. A motion for reconsideration thereof filed by
petitioner was denied on September 12, 1985.
Hence, the herein appeal by way of certiorari wherein petitioner raises the
following issues:
I
THE QUESTIONED JUDGMENT INSISTED IN IGNORING THE STATUTORY
DISTINCTION BETWEEN A NATURAL CHILD AND OTHER ILLEGITIMATE
CHILDREN;

The petitioner's contention is well taken. While the child's


paternity appears to have been established by the affidavits of
the respondent Edna Padilla Mangulabnan as well as by the
affidavits of her two witnesses, this fact alone would not be
sufficient to order the petitioner to pay support to the child. In
addition, it is necessary to prove that the petitioner has
recognized the child. For these are two distinct questions.
(Crisolo v. Macadaeg, 94 Phil. 862 [1954]; Cruz v. Castillo, 28
SCRA 719 [1969]).
As the civil status of the child is the source from which the right to support is
derived, there must be a declaration to that effect before support can be
ordered. Such a declaration may be provisional, it being sufficient that
affidavits are considered. (Crisolo v. Macadaeg, supra; Mangoma v. Macadaeg,
90 Phil. 508 [1951]; Sanchez v. Francisco, 68 Phil. 110 [1939]). But the
question must nevertheless be squarely resolved. It may be that the birth
certificate is prima facie evidence of acknowledgment of the child, so that
until it is finally shown to be spurious it must be upheld. (Civil Code, Art. 410;
Art. No. 3753, sec. 13). On the other hand, it may be that its probative value is
impaired by the verified opposition of the petitioner. These are, however
questions for the trial court to resolve in passing on the application for
support pendente lite
In the subsequent resolution dated September 12, 1985, the appellate court
also made the following observations:

68

The contention has no merit. Although Art. 291, in enumerating those entitled
to support, refers in paragraph 3 to 'acknowledged natural children,' and in
paragraph 5 simply to 'illegitimate children who are not natural' nonetheless
there is a need for the latter class of children (spurious) to be recognized
either voluntarily or by judicial decree, otherwise they cannot demand
support. The private respondent contends that the cases cited in the decision
(Crisolo v. Macadaeg, 94 Phil. 862 [1954]; Cruz v. Castillo, 28 SCRA 719 [l969])
refer to the right of natural children to support. The principle, however, is the
same. Thus in Paulino v. Paulino, 113 Phil. 697 [1961], which involves a claim
to inheritance by a spurious child, it was held:
An illegitimate (spurious) child to be entitled to support and
successional rights from his putative or presumed parents
must prove his filiation to them. Filiation may be established
by the voluntary or compulsory recognition of the illegitimate
(spurious) child. Recognition is voluntary when made in the
record of birth, a will, a statement before a court of record, or
in any authentic writing.' It is compulsory when by court
action the child brings about his recognition.
Article 291 of the Civil Code provides as follows:
ART 291. The following are obliged to support each other to
the whole extent set forth in the preceding article:
(1) The spouses;
(2) Legitimate ascendants and descendants;
(3) Parents and acknowledged natural children and the legitimate
descendants of the latter;
(4) Parents and natural children by legal fiction and the legitimate and
illegitimate descendants of the latter;
(5) Parents and illegitimate children who are not natural.

Brothers and sisters owe their legitimate and natural brothers and sisters,
although they are only of the half blood, the necessaries of life when by a
physical or mental defect, or any other cause not imputable to the recipients,
the latter cannot secure their subsistence. This assistance includes, in a

proper case, expenses necessary for elementary education and for


professional or vocational training.
From the foregoing provision it is clear that parents and illegitimate children
who are not natural children are also obliged to support each other as
specified in paragraph No. 5 abovecited. It is to be distinguished from the
obligation to support each other as between the parents and acknowledged
natural children and the legitimate or illegitimate children of the latter; and
that between parents and natural children by legal fiction and the legitimate
and illegitimate descendants of the latter under paragraphs (3) and (4)
abovecited.
Under Article 287 of the Civil Code it is provided:
ART. 287. Illegitimate children other than natural in accordance with Article
269 and other than natural children by legal fiction are entitled to support and
such successional rights as are granted in this Code.
In this case petitioner established the paternity of the child, Alfie not only by
her own affidavit but also by the affidavits of two (2) witnesses. In addition
thereto petitioner submitted a birth certificate of the child. The private
respondent claims that the same is spurious as it was sworn before a notary
public in Manila when the child was born in Cavite Maternity Clinic in Las Pinas
Rizal.
There must be a declaration of the status of the child from which the right to
support is derived and before support can be ordered. Such a declaration may
be provisional, that is, by affidavits. 3
While the appellate court claims that the birth certificate is prima facie
evidence of acknowledgment of the child, and that until it is finally proved to
be spurious it must be upheld, 4 it nevertheless observed that its probative
value is impaired by the verified opposition of the private respondent.
Petitioner contends, however, that the child is entitled to support upon proof
of filiation to private respondent without need of acknowledgment.
The appellate court disagrees and holds that even as to illegitimate children
who are not natural children, there is a need for the latter class of children
(spurious children) to be recognized either voluntarily or by judicial decree,
otherwise they cannot demand support, as in the case of an acknowledged
natural child.

69

The Court disagrees. The requirement for recognition by the father or mother
jointly or by only one of them as provided by law refers in particular to a
natural child under Article 276 of the Civil Code. Such a child is presumed to
be the natural child of the parents recognizing it who had the legal capacity to
contract marriage at the time of conception. 5 Thus, an illegitimate child like
the minor Alfie in this case whose father, the private respondent herein, is
married and had no legal capacity to contract marriage at the time of his
conception is not a natural child but an illegitimate child or spurious child in
which case recognition is not required before support may be granted. 6
However, under Article 887 of the Civil Code, in all cases of illegitimate
children, their filiation must be proved. Such filiation may be proved by the
voluntary or compulsory recognition of the illegitimate (spurious child).
Recognition is voluntary when made in the record of birth, a will, a statement
before a court of record or in any authentic writing. 7 It is compulsory when by
court action the child brings out his recognition. 8
As above related the affidavits of petitioner and the two (2) witnesses were
presented to prove the paternity of the child, and a birth certificate was also
presented to corroborate the same. The Court agrees with the court a quothat
the status of the minor child had been provisionally established.
Indeed, in response to the resolution of this Court dated February 14, 1989, if
the parties are still interested in prosecuting this case, petitioner in a
manifestation filed on March 22, 1990, asserted that she is still interested and
that in fact the Regional Trial Court in Civil Case No. A-39985 has rendered a
decision dated April 9, 1987 granting to petitioner-appellant minor a monthly
support of P5,000.00 to be paid on or before the fifth day of every month. 9
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The questioned decision of the
appellate court dated March 29, 1985 and its resolution dated September 12,
1985 are hereby REVERSED AND SET ASIDE and the order of the trial court
dated November 2, 1984 granting a monthly support pendente lite in favor of
the minor child, Alfie in the amount of P1,500.00 is reinstated and AFFIRMED
with costs against private respondent.
SO ORDERED.Narvasa (Chairman), Cruz and Medialdea, JJ., concur.Grioquino, J., is on leave.
G.R. No. L-48362 February 28, 1990
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, appellee,
vs.
FERNANDO RAFANAN, appellant.

The Office of the Solicitor General for plaintiff-appellee.


Ildefonso Jose J. Cruz for appellant.

FELICIANO, J.:
Fernando Rafanan appeals from a decision of the then Court of First Instance
of Nueva Ecija dated 27 February 1978 which found him guilty beyond
reasonable doubt of the crime of rape.
On 31 July 1974, a sworn complaint for rape was filed by Filomena Angala
before the Court of First Instance which read as follows:
The undersigned accuses Fernando Rafanan of the crime of
Rape, committed as follows:
That on or about the 9th day of February, 1974 in Cabanatuan City,
Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the abovenamed accused, by means of force and intimidation, did then and there,
willfully, unlawfully and feloniously, have sexual intercourse with the
undersigned against the latter's will.
CONTRARY TO LAW.

Upon arraignment, the accused pleaded not guilty.


After trial, the trial court rendered, on 27 February 1978, a decision the
dispositive part of which read as follows:
WHEREFORE, the accused Fernando Rafanan is hereby
declared guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Rape
defined and punished by Article 335 of the Revised Penal Code
without any mitigating or aggravating circumstance; and in
the exercise of the Court's leniency, he is hereby sentenced to
suffer the penalty of RECLUSION PERPETUA, with the
accessories of the law, to indemnify the offended party in the
amount of P5,000.00 as moral damages, to acknowledge and
support her off-spring, and to pay the costs.
SO ORDERED.

70

In his Appellant's Brief, the accused claims that the trial court committed the
following errors:
I
The Court a quo gravely erred in not considering properly certain facts and
circumstances that militate against finding the appellant guilty of the crime of
rape.
II
The Court a quo gravely erred in considering and admitting unreliable
evidence to prove that appellant left the premises of the school thus, allegedly
destroying his defense of alibi.
III
The Court a quo gravely erred in finding that appellant is the father of the cold
allegedly born of complainant in the absence of any valid and proper proof of
the circumstances of said birth.
IV
The Court a quo gravely erred in denying to the appellant the right to present
vital witnesses who if presented would have thrown more light on the search
of truth in this case.
V
The Court a quo gravely erred when it convicted the herein appellant of the
crime charged in the light of the facts and circumstances brought out during
the trial of this case.
VI
The Court a quo erred in imposing upon the herein appellant the penalty of
reclusion perpetua and to acknowledge and support the offspring allegedly
born of the complainant.
The facts found by the trial court were summarized by the court itself in the
following terms:

Filomena Angala was orphaned of her father in a far-flung and remote


barrio in Mabini, province of Isabela. Being poor with a brother and seven
sisters, but in her earnest desire and ambition to pursue her studies further,
she decided to leave her place of residence and try her luck in Cabanatuan
City Having been introduced by an elderly woman to the spouses Fernando
and Emma Rafanan, she consented to be a household help for the latter, her
principal chore being to take care of the three children of the said spouses. It
was on January 7, 1974 when Filomena started to work as a household help
for the spouses Rafanan.
The accused Fernando Rafanan was then the principal of the High
School Department at the Philippine Wesleyan College in Cabanatuan City. His
wife Emma was likewise employed as an accountant therein. In their absence
during school days, Filmena was the only caretaker of the house. While the
spouses Rafanan slept in the second floor of their house with their 2 younger
children, Filomena slept in the first floor beside the stairs with Emalyn, an
eight-year old daughter of the Rafanans.
In the evening of February 9, 1974, as it was already time to retire, and with
Mrs. Rafanan and her two children already upstairs, Filomena prepared her
mat and mosquito net in her usual place of retirement on the ground floor.
Both Filomena and Emalyn then lied [sic] down to sleep.
As Filomena and Emalyn were both soundly asleep, Filomena was
awakened by a man who was already inside the mosquito net and whom she
recognized to be the accused Fernando Rafanan. Holding a short firearm and
pointing the same at her, the accused Fernando Rafanan warned her not to
shout or move. Sensing that the accused was bent on forcing his evil
intentions upon her, Filomena slapped the accused, fought back and struggled
with the latter. The accused in turn gave her fist blows in the stomach and
bumped her head against the cemented floor where she was then lying,
rendering her unconscious. When she regained consciousness, Filomena
noticed that the accused was already on top of her, the latter's penis already
penetrating her organ. She felt that Fernando was already making a downward
and upward movement with his penis. Filomena wanted to fight back and
resist but being of the weaker sex and stricken with fear because of
Fernando's threats, Filomena could no longer do so. Filomena suddenly felt
pain in her organ which made her cry aloud, causing Mrs. Rafanan who was
then upstairs to inquire what the matter was. Losing no time, Fernando walked
toward the stairs half naked and without his pants. Alone in her grief and
sorrow, Filomena could only cry and shed tears until daybreak.
Filomena continued to do her usual chores that morning. At 11:00
o'clock [a.m.] of the same day, she told Mrs. Rafanan that she was leaving.

71

When asked by Mrs. Rafanan the reason why, Filomena could only say that the
accused had entered her mosquito net the previous night. In the light of
Filomena's revelation, Mrs. Rafanan begged her not to tell anyone as it would
be a great shame for her husband. Leaving the house that same morning,
Filomena went to the house of a relative in Mabini Extension, this city She
stayed there for two weeks, then proceeded to her hometown in Mabini,
Isabela. Sometime in the month of April, 1974, Filomena decided to stay with
a first cousin, Artemio Domingo, in Bacoor, Cavite. By this time she was
already in the family way, having had no menstruation due as early as the
middle of March, as Filomena could no longer hide her pregnancy, she wrote
the president of the Philippine Wesleyan College in Cabanatuan City on May
10, 1974, denouncing the accused who was still the principal of the High
School Department and related her harrowing experience with the accused.
Being a member of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Artemio Domingo
accompanied Filomena to Camp Crame on May 14, 1974 where she executed
a sworn statement concerning the incident that happened on February 10,
1974. On that same day a PC medico legal officer in the person of 1st Lt.
Desiderio A. Moraleda examined her, the result of which as well as his findings
are as follows:
GENERAL AND EXTRAGENITAL
Fairly developed, nourished and coherent female subject. Breasts are
hemispherical with dark brown aroela and nipples from which no secretion
could be pressed out. The superficial veins are slightly engorged. Abdomen is
flat and tight. There are no external signs of recent application of any form of
trauma.
GENITAL
There is moderate growth of pubic hair. Labia majora are full, convex and
coaptated with the pinkish-brown labia minora presenting in between. On
separating the same are disclosed a slightly congested-vulvar mucosa and an
elastic, fleshy-type hymen with deep, healed lacerations at 5 and 9 and
shallow healed lacerations at 6 and 11:00 o'clock positions. External vaginal
orifice offers moderate resistance [to] the introduction of the examining index
finger and the virgin sized vaginal speculum. Vaginal canal is narrow with
slightly shallowed rugosities. Cervix is soft and congested.
Vaginal and per-urethral smears are negative for gram-negative diplococci and
for spermatozoa.

REMARK
Findings are compatible with 2 to 3 months pregnant state.

The appellant presented a two-fold defense: (1) his first and principal defense
was alibi; and (2) his second defense, cast in alternative form, was that
assuming for purposes of argument only that he had lain with the offended
party Filomena Angala, he had done so with her consent.
Turning first to the defense of alibi, Fernando Rafanan testified that he was the
principal of the High School Department of the Philippine Wesleyan College
and that he was a licensed holder of a caliber .38 handgun. He claimed that
he last saw Filomena Angala in their house at about 2:00 o'clock in the
afternoon of 8 February 1974, upon leaving his house after having there taken
his lunch. The appellant insists that he had not been in their house through
the whole night of 9 February 1972 up to 5:00 o'clock in the afternoon of the
succeeding day, 10 February 1974, as he had been busy at the school making
streamers in the library of the Philippine Wesleyan College for the then
forthcoming national seminar on social studies, scheduled from 11 to 15
February 1974 and sponsored by the Department of Education.
Emma Rafanan, wife of the appellant, corroborated her husband's defense of
alibi by declaring that Filomena bad left their house for reasons unknown to
them at about 5:00 o'clock in the afternoon of 8 February 1974 and that she
came back in the evening of the same day but only to pick up her belongings
and to leave thereafter. Apparently suggesting that nothing untoward had
happened to Filomena, Emma Rafanan further testified that Filomena came
back briefly on 27 February 1974 to collect the amount of P25.00 representing
her half-month's salary.
This Court has many times in the past held that alibi is inherently a weak
defense, easy of fabrication especially between parents and children, husband
and wife, and other relatives and even among those not related to each other,
and that for such defense to prosper, the accused must prove that it was not
possible for him to have been at the scene of the crime at the time of the
commission of that came. 4 Thus, in People v. Detuya, 5 the Court gave little
weight to the testimony of the wife of the accused on the facts constituting his
alibi, stating that:
The first witness is his wife; naturally, human nature being
what it is, she is expected to come to her husband's aid;
hence, her testimony, if at all, carries very little weight. 6

Garvindex test is positive.

72

In the present case, accused Rafanan's sole corroborating witness was his
wife, Emma.
To counter the defense of alibi, the prosecution presented Bonifacio Mangahas
and Rolando Wycoco, two of the security guards of the Philippine Wesleyan
College who had been on guard-duty on 9 to 10 February 1974. The two (2)
security guards testified with the aid of their logbook on which were recorded
the time of arrival and time of departure of the various people working in the
college compound. Bonifacio Mangahas stated that he had been on guardduty from 3:00 to 11:00 p.m. of 9 February 1974 and that the accused had left
the college campus at about 10:30 o'clock in the evening of 9 February 1974;
and that he (Bonifacio) had as a matter of course entered the departure time
of the accused on their logbook. 7 Rolando Wycoco in turn said that he had
been on guard-duty from 11:00 o'clock p.m. of 9 February 1974 until past 7:00
o'clock a.m. on 10 February 1974, and that he had personally noted down the
arrival of Mr. Rafanan at the college compound on 7:00 o'clock a.m of 10
February 1974. 8 Moreover, the house where the Rafanans lived was only 600
meters away from the Philippine Wesleyan College compound. Under these
circumstances, we cannot fault the trial court for refusing to consider the
accused's defense of alibi.
The appellant claims that the trial court denied him the opportunity to present
additional witnesses, viz., Mr. and Mrs. Naagas, faculty members of the
Philippine Wesleyan College. We find this claim a very strange one indeed
considering that it was defense counsel who filed before the trial court a
Motion Waiving Further Evidence and Resting Case dated 15 September
1977, 9 being apparently content with the denials and the proferred alibi of the
accused as corroborated by his wife.
We turn to the alternative defense of the accused that if he had lain with
Filomena Angala, it was with her consent. The accused sought to throw doubt
upon testimony of Filomena Angala that the accused forced himself upon her
by pointing a caliber.38 pistol at her mouth and threatening to kill her if she
did not give in to his desires. The accused pointed to the circumstance that his
eight-year old daughter Emalyn was sleeping beside Filomena in the same
mat and under the same mosquito net and that Emalyn was not awakened
during Filomena's alleged struggle with the accused. The accused also
suggested that it would be highly improbable for a man to seek to force
himself upon a woman in his own house, with his wife sleeping on the floor
above him. 10 In the first place, neither of the circumstances pointed out by
the accused can overcome the explicit and straightforward testimony of
Filomena that the accused had not only threatened her with his handgun but
also punched her in the stomach and banged her head against the cemented
floor on which their sleeping mat had been laid out, causing her to lose

consciousness for some time. The trial court gave full credence to Filomena's
testimony, while observing, upon the other hand, that the accused appeared
to be unsure of what he was to say. We must note once again that this Court
accords high deference to the factual conclusions of the trial court since the
judge had the inestimable advantage of watching and listening to the
witnesses as they have gave their testimony and as they were subjected to
cross-examination. 11 Moreover, as the Court has noted before, rape has been
committed in many different places including places which to many would
appear to be unlikely and high-risk venues for sexual embraces. 12 There
appeal's to us nothing inherently improbable in the account given by Filomena
Angala before the trial court of the copulation she was coerced into by the
accused.
Accused also underscored that Filomena Angala had taken about three (3)
months before she told of the outrage allegedly inflicted upon her by the
accused to the police authorities. There may be situations where the fact that
the complainant had failed to report promptly to the police her being raped,
would generate substantial doubt as to the truthfulness of her accusation. In
the case at bar, however, as the trial court pointed out, the accused had not
only threatened to kill Filomena if she disclosed to anyone what she had been
subjected to, but had also exercised strong moral influence upon the offended
party, by reason of his position as an important official in a recognized
Protestant Methodist educational institution like the Philippine Wesleyan
College. The trial court said:
The first thrust of the attack set up by the defense is the fact that it
was only three months after the alleged incident when Filomena became
emboldened to disclose her alleged horrifying experience. It is conceded that
Filomena refrained from disclosing her experience, first, to Mrs. Rafanan, then
to Marion delos Reyes, a relative of Filomena with whom she stayed for two
weeks in Mabini Extension, and finally, to her mother in Mabini, Isabela where
she stayed for a considerable length of time prior to her departure for Bacoor,
Cavite. This is understandable, for during all these time, Filomena was still
stricken both with fear and with hope that she would not become pregnant.
Fear, because she was but a lowly barrio lass, simple and innocent, and would
easily and naturally succumb to threats and intimidation employed upon her
by the accused in the evening of February 9, 1974. The central figure in the
life of Filomena inevitably was the accused, being a man of position in a
prestigious institution. While she worked as a lowly housemaid for the
Rafanans, she had hoped to pursue further her studies. The accused was the
barrier against hunger and want, and could be her only hope to finish her
nursing course and be able to support her family. Because of this, the accused
who had threatened her during that fateful night as well as Mrs. Rafanan who
had requested her not to disclose what happened, must have had a towering

73

moral influence over Filomena. With this dominance over Filomena and
notwithstanding the fact that his eight-year old daughter was beside Filomena
on the night in question, it was easy and safe for the accused to rape
Filomena as it was difficult for the latter to frustrate him, nay, for Filomena to
denounce him. All these explain the inexorable fact that although Filomena
fought for her honor when the accused deflowered her, she kept to herself her
disgrace until her pregnancy gave her away. Thus on cross examination, she
declared:
ATTY. GARCIA
Q: If you did not like to give your parents a problem or you were afraid that
they might hurt you, why did you in fact make the same in public on May 14,
1974? Is it because you were pregnant?

Accused finally complains that the trial court had held him to be the father of
the child allegedly born of Filomena, notwithstanding the "absence of any
valid and proper proof of the circumstance of said birth."
After careful examination of the record of this case, we find no basis at all for
overturning the conclusion of the trial court that the accused had been shown
beyond reasonable doubt to have by force and intimidation penetrated
Filomena Angala. We also note that Filomena expressly testified to the fact
that she had become pregnant as a result of the outrage inflicted upon her
person and that she gave birth to a child:
Q: Miss Witness, according to you, you were sexually abused by the accused
in the early morning of February 10, 1974, what happened to you after that?
A: I became pregnant, sir.

A: I made a report already because I could not keep the thing that happened
to me a secret anymore because I was already pregnant. And if it only
happened that I did not become pregnant I would not have reported the
matter anymore. 13
In People v. Silfavan,

14

the Court observed that:

The delay in prosecuting the rape is not an indication of


fabricated charges. If the complainant did not become
pregnant, she probably would never have revealed that she
was raped by her uncle. Many victims of rape never complain
or file criminal charges against the rapists. They prefer to bear
the ignominy and pain rather than reveal their shame to the
world or risk the rapists making good their threats to kill or
hurt their victims. 15
In the instant case, Filomena had herself stated that had she not become
pregnant or been unable to conceal any further the pregnancy that had
ensued from Mr. Rafanan's unwanted attentions, she would not have instituted
her criminal complaint at all.

Q: You stated that you became pregnant, why is it that you are not pregnant
now?
ATTY. BELTRAN:
We would like to place on record that the witness before she answers the
question, cries on the witness stand.
A: Because I have given birth already, sir.
ATTY. BELTRAN:
Q: You stated that you have given birth, where is the child now?
A: The child is in Bacoor, sir.
COURT:
Do you want to exclude the audience?

The suggestion of the accused that Filomena had freely consented to his
sexual embrace can scarcely be taken seriously. Filomena had spoken
explicitly and convincingly of the threats and physical violence exercised upon
her by the accused. Moreover, the accused neither alleged nor proved that he
had had prior sexual intercourse with Filomena or that Filomena was a girl of
loose morals given to sexual promiscuity.

ATTY. BELTRAN:
No more, your Honor.

16

xxx xxx xxx

74

Q: Now, when did you first realize that you are on the family way?
A: Because I did not menstruate. sir. I did not menstruate anymore, sir.

Q: You were telling the court a while ago that one of the reasons in fact in your
testimony, the main reason why you made this in public, it is because you can
not hide your pregnancy anymore?

Q: When was that?

A: Yes, sir.

A: May be in the middle portion of March, 1974, sir. From the time that
happened to me in February I did not menstruate anymore, sir.

It is, of course, also true that the record does not show the identity and
personal circumstances of the child born out of the rape of Filomena. Even so,
the Court correctly sentenced the accused "to acknowledge and support her
off-spring" considering the provisions of Article 345 of the Revised Penal Code:

Q: Where did you first realize that you have symptoms (sic) of pregnancy?
A: Because I did not menstruate anymore, sir.

18

Article 345. Civil Liability of Persons Guilty of Crimes against Chastity.


Persons guilty of rape, seduction, or abduction shall also be sentenced:

Q: My question now is when you went to the PC on May 1974 were you then
pregnant?

(1) to indemnify the offended woman;

A: Yes, sir.

(2) to acknowledge the off-spring, unless the law should prevent him from so
doing;

Q: When you executed your statement before the CIS on 14 May 1974 you
realized before that date, that you were in the family way?

(3) in every case to support the off-spring.

A: Yes, sir.
xxx xxx xxx

17

xxx xxx xxx


and Article 283 (1) of the Civil Code of the Philippines:

Q: On the day you wrote this letter, were you aware that you were on the
family way?

Article 283. In any of the following cases, the father is obliged


to recognize the child as his natural child:

A: Yes, sir.

(1) in cases of rape, abduction or seduction, when the period


of the offense coincides more or less with that of the
conception;

Q: Since when or how many days prior to May 10 that you are aware that you
were on the family way.
A: I was already three months on the family way at that time, sir.
Q: So you felt on the family way sometime in March?
A: Yes, sir, because I did not menstruate anymore.
Q: In March?

xxx xxx xxx


In the case at bar, the record shows that conception had occurred at or about
the time that rape been inflicted upon Filomena by the accused, or more
particularly, within 120 days from the commission of the offense. 19 The
acknowledgment required of the accused by the trial court should be
understood to be acknowledgment merely of thefiliation of the child; the
accused being a married man could not sire an illegitimate natural child, 20 a
status which in any event is no longer recognized under the Family Code of
the Philippines.

A: Yes, sir.

75

It should also be noted that since the accused was a High School Principal and
as such entrusted with the education and guidance of youth, the accessory
penalties imposed upon him by the law include the penalty of temporary
special disqualification in its maximum period to perpetual special
disqualification. 21
The trial court required the appellant to pay, by way of moral damages, the
sum of P5,000.00 to Filomena. In accordance with our more recent case
law, 22 that amount should now be increased to P25,000.00 so that Filomena
might be somewhat more fully compensated for the suffering, bitterness and
humiliation to which she had been subjected by reason of appellant's acts.
WHEREFORE, except for the amount of moral damages granted to the
offended party which is hereby INCREASED to P25,000.00, the decision of the
trial court dated 27 February 1978 is hereby AFFIRMED, with costs against
appellant.
SO ORDERED.
Fernan, C.J., Gutierrez, Jr., Bidin and Cortes, JJ., concur.

76

G.R. No. L-18407


June 26, 1963
ELAINE A.
MOORE, petitioner-appellant, vs. REPUBLIC OF THE
PHILIPPINES, oppositor-appellee.Fidel A. Sandoval for petitioner-appellant.
Office of the Solicitor General for oppositor-appellee.
BAUTISTA ANGELO, J.:
Elaine A. Moore filed a petition before the Court of First Instance of Rizal
praying that her child by a former marriage, William Michael Velarde, be
permitted to change his name so as to read William Michael Velarde Moore.
After publishing the petition as required by law, trial was held during which
the parties submitted a stipulation of facts. Thereafter, the trial court issued
an order denying the petition whereupon petitioner interposed the present
appeal.
Petitioner is an American citizen formerly married to Joseph P. Velarde, also an
American citizen, out of whose wedlock a child by the name of William Michael
Velarde was born. This child, now 14 years old, was born on January 19, 1947
at Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.
The marriage of petitioner to Velarde was subsequently dissolved by a decree
of divorce issued by the Superior Court of the State of California on May 31,
1949. After said decree became final, petitioner contracted a second marriage
with Don C. Moore on September 29, 1956 at Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.,
and thereafter the minor lived continuously with the spouses up to the present
time. He was supported by Moore who has always treated him with love and
affection as if he were his true father. In view of this harmonious relation it is
petitioner's desire that the minor be able to use the name Moore after his
family name Velarde.
The government opposes the petition and now poses the following issues: (1)
whether under our laws a minor may be permitted to adopt and use the
surname of the second husband of his mother; (2) whether justifiable reasons
exist to allow such change of name; and whether petitioner, as mother of the
minor, has the authority or personality to ask for such a change.
Anent the first issue, the government sustains a negative stand for the reason
that our laws do not authorize a legitimate child to use the surname of a
person who is not his father, for, as a matter of fact, Article 364 of Civil Code
specifically provides that legitimate children shall principally use the surname
of their father. Mention is also made of Article 369 of the same Code which

provides that in case of annulment of avoidable marriage the children


conceived before the annulment she principally use the surname of the father,
and considering by analogy the effect of a decree of divorce, it concluded that
the children who are conceived before such a decree should also be
understood as carrying the surname of the real father, which, in this case, is
Velarde.
We find tenable this observation of government's counsel. Indeed, if a child
born out of a lawful wedlock be allowed to bear the surname of the second
husband of the mother, should the first husband die or be separated by a
decree of divorce, there may result a confusion to his real paternity. In the
long run the change may redound to the prejudice of the child in the
community.
While the purpose which may have animated petitioner is plausible and may
run along the feeling of cordiality and spiritual relationship that pervades
among the members of the Moore family, our hand is deferred by a legal
barrier which we cannot at present overlook or brush aside.1wph1.t
Another factor to be reckoned with is the fact that the child concerned is still a
minor who for the present cannot fathom what would be his feeling when he
comes to mature age. Any way, if the time comes, he may decide the matter
for himself and take such action as our law may permit. For the present we
deem the action taken by petitioner premature.
WHEREFORE, the order appealed from is affirmed. No costs.
G.R. No. L-55538 March 15, 1982
In the Matter of the Change of Names of DIONESIO DIVINAGRACIA,
JR., and BOMBI ROBERTO DIVINAGRACIA to DIONESIO NALDOZA and
BOMBI ROBERTO NALDOZA, respectively. ZOSIMA NALDOZA, as
natural guardian and guardian ad litem of said minors, petitionerappellant,
vs.
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES and JUDGE FERNANDO S. RUIZ of the
Court of First Instance of Bohol, Branch IV, respondents-appellees.

AQUINO, J.:

77

The issue in this case is whether two minors should be allowed to discontinue
using their father's surname and should use only their mother's surname.
Zosima Naldoza was married to Dionesio Divinagracia on May 30, 1970. They
begot two children named Dionesio, Jr. and Bombi Roberto who were born on
October 23, 1970 and July 22, 1973, respectively.

To allow them, at their mother's behest, to bear only their mother's surname
(which they are entitled to use together with their father's surname) and to
discard altogether their father's surname thus removing the primafacie evidence of their paternal provenance or ancestry, is a serious matter in
which, ordinarily, the minors and their father should be consulted. The
mother's desire should not be the sole consideration.

Zosima's husband left her after she confronted him with his previous marriage
with another woman. He never returned to the conjugal abode. He allegedly
swindled Congressman Maglana in the sum of P50,000.00, one Galagar in the
sum of P10,000.00 also Eloy Gallentes and other persons.

The change of name is allowed only when there are proper and reasonable
causes for such change (Sec. 5, Rule 103, Rules of Court). Where, as in this
case, the petitioners are minors, the courts should take into account whether
the change of name would redound their welfare or would prejudice them.

The classmates of Dionesio, Jr. and Bombi Roberto allegedly teased them
about their father being a swindler. Two criminal cases for estafa were filed in
court against the father.

Where the petitioner, a legitimate daughter of a Filipino mother and a


Japanese, elected Philippine citizenship, and her older brother and sister were
using their mother's surname, and the petitioner felt embarrassed in using her
Japanese father's surname (Oshita) because of the ill-feeling harbored by
some Filipinos against the Japanese, and there was no showing that her desire
to use the maternal surname (Bartolome) was motivated by any fraudulent
purpose or that the change of surname would prejudice public interest, her
petition to change her surname from Oshita to Bartolome was granted (Oshita
vs. Republic, L-21180, March 31, 1967, 19 SCRA 700).

Desirous of obliterating any connection between her two minor children and
their scapegrace father, Zosima, on August 10, 1978, filed in the Court of First
Instance of Bohol a petition wherein she prayed that the surname of her two
children be changed from Divinagracia to Naldoza, her surname (Special
Proceeding No. 768). After due publication and hearing, the trial court
dismissed the petition.
The trial court did not consider as sufficient grounds for change of surname
the circumstances that the children's father was a swindler, that he had
abandoned them and that his marriage to Zosima was a second marriage
which, however, had not been annulled nor declared bigamous. It reasoned
that the children's adoption of their mother's surname would give a false
impression of family relationship.
From that decision, Zosima Naldoza appealed to this Court under Republic Act
No. 5440. Appellant's seven assignments of error may be reduced to the
question of whether there is a justification for the two children to drop their
father's surname and use their mother's surname only.
The minors Dionesio, Jr. and Bombi Roberto, who are presumably legitimate,
are supposed to bear principally the surname Divinagracia, their father's
surname (Art. 364, Civil Code).

Where the petitioner's name in the civil registry is Maria Estrella Veronica
Primitiva Duterte, Duterte being the surname of her father Filomeno, who was
married to her mother, Estrella Alfon, but the petitioner since infancy has used
the name Estrella S. Alfon, particularly in the school and voting records, there
is reasonable ground for allowing her to change her surname from Duterte to
Alfon. Such a change would avoid confusion (Alfon vs. Republic, G.R. No.
51201, May 29, 1980,97 SCRA 858).
The instant case is easily distinguishable from the Oshita and AIfon cases
where the petitioners were already of age.
We hold that the trial court did not err in denying the petition for change of
name. The reasons adduced for eliminating the father's surname are not
substantial enough to justify the petition. To allow the change of surname
would cause confusion as to the minors' parentage and might create the
impression that the minors are illegitimate since they would carry the
maternal surname only. That would be inconsistent with their legitimate status
as indicated in their birth records (Exh. C and D).
As was said in that In re Epstein 200 N.Y.S. 897, "the child should, and in the
course of time must, know of his parentage. " If, when he fully appreciates the
circumstances and is capable of selecting a name for himself, he wants to use

78

his mother's surname only and to avoid using his father's surname, then he
should be the one to apply for a change of surname. See Anno., 53 ALR2d
914.
WHEREFORE, the lower court's decision is affirmed. No costs.
SO ORDERED.

Separate Opinions
BARREDO, J., concurring:
At the worst, Dionesio Jr. and Bombito should be considered as natural
children by legal fiction having the same status, rights and obligations of
acknowledged natural children, (Art. 29, Civil Code). among which is the right
to bear the surname of their father. (Art. 28 (1), Civil Code).

Concepcion, Jr., Abad Santos, De Castro, Ericta and Escolin JJ., concur.

79