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Republic of the Philippines the Gospel of the CDCC BR Chapel.

[4]They got marriedon the same

SUPREME COURT day, 8 December 1982.Petitioner and respondent went through
Manila another marriage ceremony at the San Jose
de Manuguit Church in Tondo, Manila, on 26 March
1983.The marriagewas likewise celebrated without the parties securing
a marriage license.The alleged marriage license, procured
THIRD DIVISION in Carmona, Cavite, appearing on the marriage contract, is a sham, as
neither party was a resident of Carmona, and they never went
to Carmona to apply for a license with the local civil registrar of the said
RESTITUTO M. ALCANTARA, G.R. No. 167746 place.On 14 October 1985, respondent gave birth to their child Rose
Petitioner, Ann Alcantara.In 1988, they parted ways and lived separate
-versus- Present: lives.Petitioner prayed that after due hearing, judgment be issued
ROSITA A. ALCANTARA and declaring their marriage void and ordering the Civil Registrar to cancel
HON. COURT OF APPEALS, YNARES-SANTIAGO, J., the corresponding marriage contract[5] and its entry on file.[6]
cralawRespondents. Chairperson,
AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, Answering petitioners petition for annulment of marriage,
CHICO-NAZARIO, respondent asserts the validity of their marriage and maintains that
NACHURA, and there was a marriage license issued as evidenced by a certificationfrom
REYES, JJ. the Office of the Civil Registry of Carmona, Cavite. Contrary to
Promulgated: petitioners representation, respondent gave birth to their
August 28, 2007 first child named Rose Ann Alcantara on 14 October 1985 and to
x- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x another daughter named Rachel Ann Alcantara on 27 October 1992.
[7] Petitioner has a mistress with whom he has three children.
[8]Petitioner only filed the annulment of their marriage to evade
prosecution for concubinage.[9]Respondent, in fact, has filed a case
DECISION for concubinage against petitioner before
CHICO-NAZARIO, J.: the MetropolitanTrialCourtofMandaluyongCity, Branch 60.
Before this Court is a Petition for Review on Certiorari filed by [10]Respondent prays that the petition for annulment of marriage be
petitioner Restituto Alcantaraassailing the Decision[1] of the Court of denied for lack of merit.
Appeals dated 30 September 2004 in CA-G.R. CV No. 66724 denying
petitioners appeal and affirming the decision[2] of the Regional Trial On 14 February 2000, the RTC of Makati City, Branch 143,
Court (RTC) ofMakati City, Branch 143, in Civil Case No. 97-1325 dated rendered its Decision disposing as follows:
14 February 2000, dismissing his petition for annulment of marriage.
The foregoing considered, judgment is rendered as
The antecedent facts are: follows:

A petition for annulment of marriage[3] was filed by petitioner against The Petition is dismissed for lack of merit;
respondent Rosita A.Alcantara alleging that on 8 December 1982 he
and respondent, without securing the requiredmarriage license, went to Petitioner is ordered to pay respondent the sum of
the ManilaCity Hall for the purpose of looking for a person who could twenty thousand pesos (P20,000.00) per month as
arrange a marriage for them.They met a person who, for a fee, arranged support for their two (2) children on the first five (5) days
their wedding before a certain Rev. Aquilino Navarro, a Minister of of each month; and
To pay the costs.[11] promote the substantial rights of the party

As earlier stated, the Court of Appeals rendered its Decision dismissing

the petitioners appeal.His Motion for Reconsideration was likewise cralawWe deny the petition.
denied in a resolution of the Court of Appeals dated 6 April 2005.
[12]chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary cralawPetitioner submits that at the precise time that his marriage with
the respondent was celebrated, there was no marriage license because
The Court of Appeals held that the marriage license of the parties is he and respondent just went to the ManilaCity Hall and dealt with a fixer
presumed to be regularly issued and petitioner had not presented any who arranged everything for them.[15]The wedding took place at the
evidence to overcome the presumption.Moreover, the parties marriage stairs inManilaCity Hall and not in CDCC BR Chapel where
contract being a public document is a prima facie proof of the Rev. Aquilino Navarro who solemnized the marriage belongs.[16] He
questioned marriage under Section 44, Rule 130 of the Rules of Court. and respondent did not go to Carmona, Cavite, to apply for a marriage
[13] license.Assuming a marriage license from Carmona, Cavite, was issued
to them, neither he nor the respondent was a resident of the place.
In his Petition before this Court, petitioner raises the following issues for The certification of the Municipal Civil Registrar ofCarmona, Cavite,
resolution: cannot be given weight because the certification states that Marriage
License number 7054133 was issued in favor of
a. The Honorable Court of Appeals committed Mr. Restituto Alcantara and Miss Rosita Almario[17] but their marriage
a reversible error when it ruled that the Petition contract bears the number 7054033 for their marriage license number.
for Annulment has no legal and factual basis
despite the evidence on record that there was cralawThe marriage involved herein having been solemnized on 8
no marriage license at the precise moment of December 1982, or prior to theeffectivity of the Family Code, the
the solemnization of the marriage. applicable law to determine its validity is the Civil Code which was the
law in effect at the time of its celebration.
b. The Honorable Court of Appeals committed a
reversible error when it gave weightto the cralawA valid marriage license is a requisite of marriage under Article 53
Marriage License No. 7054133 despite the fact of the Civil Code, the absence of which renders the
that the same was not identified and offered as marriage void ab initio pursuant to Article 80(3)[18] in relation to Article
evidence during the trial, and was not the 58 of the same Code.[19]chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
Marriage license number appearing on the face
of the marriage contract. cralawArticle 53 of the Civil Code[20] which was the law applicable at
the time of the marriage of the parties states:
c. The Honorable Court of Appeals committed a
reversible error when it failed to apply the ruling cralawArt. 53.No marriage shall be solemnized unless
laid down by this Honorable Court in the case all these requisites are complied with:
of Sy vs. Court of Appeals.(G.R. No.
127263, 12 April 2000 [330 SCRA 550]). cralaw(1)cralawLegal capacity of the contracting
d. The Honorable Court of Appeals committed a
reversible error when it failed to relax the cralaw(2)cralawTheir consent, freely given;
observance of procedural rules to protect and
cralaw(3)cralawAuthority of the person performing the on 15 November 1973.The Court held that the ineluctable conclusion is
marriage; and that the marriage was indeed contracted without a marriage license.

cralaw(4)cralawA marriage license, except in a cralawIn all these cases, there was clearly an absence of a marriage
marriage of exceptional character. license which rendered the marriage void.

cralawClearly, from these cases, it can be deduced that to be

cralawThe requirement and issuance of a marriage license is the States considered void on the ground of absence of a marriage license, the law
demonstration of its involvement and participation in every marriage, in requires that the absence of such marriage license must be apparent on
the maintenance of which the general public is interested. the marriage contract, or at the very least, supported by a certification
[21]chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary from the local civil registrar that no such marriage license was issued to
the parties.In this case, the marriage contract between the petitioner
cralawPetitioner cannot insist on the absence of a marriage license to and respondent reflects a marriage license number.A certification to this
impugn the validity of his marriage.The cases where the court effect was also issued by the local civil registrar of Carmona, Cavite.
considered the absence of a marriage license as a ground for [25] The certification moreover is precise in that it specifically identified
considering the marriage void are clear-cut. the parties to whom the marriage license was issued,
namely Restituto Alcantara and Rosita Almario, further validating the
cralawIn Republic of the Philippines v. Court of Appeals,[22] the Local fact that a license was in fact issued to the parties herein.
Civil Registrar issued a certification of due search and inability to find a
record or entry to the effect that Marriage License No. 3196182 was cralawThe certification of Municipal Civil Registrar Macrino L. Diaz
issued to the parties.The Court held that the certification of due search of Carmona, Cavite, reads:
and inability to find a record or entry as to the purported marriage
license, issued by the Civil Registrar of Pasig, enjoys probative value, cralawThis is to certify that as per the registry Records
he being the officer charged under the law to keep a record of all data of Marriage filed in this office, Marriage License No.
relative to the issuance of a marriage license.Based on said certification, 7054133 was issued in favor of
the Court held that there is absence of a marriage license that Mr. Restituto Alcantara and Miss
would render the marriage void ab initio. Rosita Almario on December 8, 1982.

cralawIn Cario v. Cario,[23] the Court considered the marriage of therein cralawThis Certification is being issued upon the
petitioner Susan Nicdao and the deceased Santiago S. Carino as request of Mrs. Rosita A. Alcantara for whatever legal
void ab initio.The records reveal that the marriage contract of petitioner purpose or intents it may serve.[26]
and the deceased bears no marriage license number and, as certified
by the Local Civil Registrar of San Juan, Metro Manila, their office has
no record of such marriage license. The court held that the certification cralawThis certification enjoys the presumption that official duty has
issued by the local civil registrar is adequate to prove the non-issuance been regularly performed and the issuance of the marriage license was
of the marriage license. Their marriage having been solemnized without done in the regular conduct of official business.[27]The presumption of
the necessary marriage license and not being one of the regularity of official acts may be rebutted by affirmative evidence of
marriages exempt from the marriage license requirement, the marriage irregularity or failure to perform a duty.However, the presumption
of the petitioner and the deceased is undoubtedly void ab initio. prevails until it is overcome by no less than clear and convincing
evidence to the contrary.Thus, unless the presumption is rebutted, it
cralawIn Sy v. Court of Appeals,[24] the marriage license was issued becomes conclusive.Every reasonable intendment will be made in
on 17 September 1974, almost one year after the ceremony took place support of the presumption and, in case of doubt as to an officers act
being lawful or unlawful, construction should be in favor of its
lawfulness.[28]Significantly, apart from these, petitioner, by counsel, cralawPetitioner and respondent went through a marriage ceremony
admitted that a marriage license was, indeed, issued twice in a span of less than one year utilizing the same marriage
in Carmona, Cavite.[29] license.There is no claim that he went through the second wedding
ceremony in church under duress or with a gun to his head.Everything
cralawPetitioner, in a faint attempt to demolish the probative value of the was executed without nary a whimper on the part of the petitioner.
marriage license, claims that neither he nor respondent is a resident
of Carmona, Cavite.Even then, we still hold that there is no sufficient cralawIn fact, for the second wedding of petitioner and respondent, they
basis to annul petitioner and respondents marriage.Issuance of a presented to the San Jose deManuguit Church the marriage contract
marriage license in a city or municipality, not the residence of either of executed during the previous wedding ceremony before the ManilaCity
the contracting parties, and issuance of a marriage license despite the Hall.This is confirmed in petitioners testimony as follows
absence of publication or prior to the completion of the 10-day period for
publication are considered mere irregularities that do not affect the WITNESS
validity of the marriage.[30]An irregularity in any of the formal requisites
of marriage does not affect its validity but the party or parties cralawAs I remember your honor, they asked us to get
responsible for the irregularity are civilly, criminally and administratively the necessary document prior to the wedding.
cralawAgain, petitioner harps on the discrepancy between the marriage
license number in the certification of the Municipal Civil Registrar, which cralawWhat particular document did the church asked
states that the marriage license issued to the parties is No. 7054133, you to produce?I am referring to the San Jose
while the marriage contract states that the marriage license number of de Manuguit church.
the parties is number 7054033.Once more, this argument fails to sway
us.It is not impossible to assume that the same is a mere a WITNESS
typographical error, as a closer scrutiny of the marriage contract reveals
the overlapping of the numbers 0 and 1, such that the marriage license cralawI dont remember your honor.
may read either as 7054133 or 7054033. It therefore does not detract
from our conclusion regarding the existence and issuance of said COURT
marriage license to the parties.
cralawUnder the principle that he who comes to court must come with cralawWere you asked by the church to present a
clean hands,[32] petitioner cannot pretend that he was not responsible Marriage License?
or a party to the marriage celebration which he now insists took place
without the requisite marriage license.Petitioner admitted that the civil WITNESS
marriage took place because he initiated it.[33] Petitioner is an educated
person.He is a mechanical engineer by profession.He knowingly and cralawI think they asked us for documents and I said we
voluntarily went to the ManilaCity Hall and likewise, knowingly and have already a Marriage Contract and I dont
voluntarily, went through a marriage ceremony.He cannot benefit from know if it is good enough for the marriage and
his action and be allowed to extricate himself from the marriage bond at they accepted it your honor.
his mere say-so when the situation is no longer palatable to his taste or
suited to his lifestyle.We cannot countenance such effrontery. His COURT
attempt to make a mockery of the institution of marriage betrays his bad
faith.[34]chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary cralawIn other words, you represented to the San Jose
de Manuguit church that you have with you
already a Marriage Contract?
WITNESS CRALAWWHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant Petition
is DENIED for lack of merit.The decision of the Court of Appeals
cralawYes your honor. dated 30 September 2004 affirming the decision of the Regional Trial
Court, Branch 143 of Makati City, dated 14 February 2000,
COURT are AFFIRMED.Costs against petitioner.

cralawThat is why the San Jose de Manuguit church

copied the same marriage License in the
Marriage Contract issued which Marriage
License is Number 7054033.


cralawYes your honor.[35]

cralawThe logical conclusion is that petitioner was amenable and a

willing participant to all that took place at that time.Obviously, the church
ceremony was confirmatory of their civil marriage, thereby cleansing
whatever irregularity or defect attended the civil wedding.

cralawLikewise, the issue raised by petitioner -- that they appeared

before a fixer who arranged everything for them and who facilitated the
ceremony before a certain Rev. Aquilino Navarro, a Minister of the
Gospel of the CDCC Br Chapel -- will not strengthen his posture.The
authority of the officer or clergyman shown to have performed a
marriage ceremony will be presumed in the absence of any showing to
the contrary.[37]Moreover, the solemnizing officer is not duty-bound to
investigate whether or not a marriage license has been duly and
regularly issued by the local civil registrar.All the solemnizing officer
needs to know is that the license has been issued by the competent
official, and it may be presumed from the issuance of the license that
said official has fulfilled the duty to ascertain whether the contracting
parties had fulfilled the requirements of law.

cralawSemper praesumitur pro matrimonio.The presumption is always

in favor of the validity of the marriage.[39]Every intendment of the law or
fact leans toward the validity of the marriage bonds.The Courts look
upon this presumption with great favor.It is not to be lightly repelled; on
the contrary, the presumption is of great weight.
Republic of the Philippines Five years later, on May 1, 1968, Felicisimo married Merry Lee Corwin,
SUPREME COURT with whom he had a son, Tobias. However, on October 15, 1971, Merry
Manila Lee, an American citizen, filed a Complaint for Divorce 5 before the
Family Court of the First Circuit, State of Hawaii, United States of
THIRD DIVISION America (U.S.A.), which issued a Decree Granting Absolute Divorce and
Awarding Child Custody on December 14, 1973. 6
G.R. No. 133743 February 6, 2007
On June 20, 1974, Felicisimo married respondent Felicidad San Luis,
then surnamed Sagalongos, before Rev. Fr. William Meyer, Minister of
EDGAR SAN LUIS, Petitioner,
the United Presbyterian at Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, California,
U.S.A. 7 He had no children with respondent but lived with her for 18
years from the time of their marriage up to his death on December 18,
x ---------------------------------------------------- x
Thereafter, respondent sought the dissolution of their conjugal
G.R. No. 134029 February 6, 2007 partnership assets and the settlement of Felicisimo’s estate. On
December 17, 1993, she filed a petition for letters of
RODOLFO SAN LUIS, Petitioner, administration 8 before the Regional Trial Court of Makati City, docketed
vs. as SP. Proc. No. M-3708 which was raffled to Branch 146 thereof.
LUIS, Respondent. Respondent alleged that she is the widow of Felicisimo; that, at the time
of his death, the decedent was residing at 100 San Juanico Street, New
DECISION Alabang Village, Alabang, Metro Manila; that the decedent’s surviving
heirs are respondent as legal spouse, his six children by his first
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.: marriage, and son by his second marriage; that the decedent left real
properties, both conjugal and exclusive, valued at P30,304,178.00 more
Before us are consolidated petitions for review assailing the February 4, or less; that the decedent does not have any unpaid debts. Respondent
1998 Decision 1 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 52647, prayed that the conjugal partnership assets be liquidated and that letters
which reversed and set aside the September 12, 1995 2 and January 31, of administration be issued to her.
1996 3 Resolutions of the Regional Trial Court of Makati City, Branch
134 in SP. Proc. No. M-3708; and its May 15, 1998 Resolution 4 denying On February 4, 1994, petitioner Rodolfo San Luis, one of the children of
petitioners’ motion for reconsideration. Felicisimo by his first marriage, filed a motion to dismiss 9 on the
grounds of improper venue and failure to state a cause of action.
The instant case involves the settlement of the estate of Felicisimo T. Rodolfo claimed that the petition for letters of administration should have
San Luis (Felicisimo), who was the former governor of the Province of been filed in the Province of Laguna because this was Felicisimo’s place
Laguna. During his lifetime, Felicisimo contracted three marriages. His of residence prior to his death. He further claimed that respondent has
first marriage was with Virginia Sulit on March 17, 1942 out of which no legal personality to file the petition because she was only a mistress
were born six children, namely: Rodolfo, Mila, Edgar, Linda, Emilita and of Felicisimo since the latter, at the time of his death, was still legally
Manuel. On August 11, 1963, Virginia predeceased Felicisimo. married to Merry Lee.

On February 15, 1994, Linda invoked the same grounds and joined her
brother Rodolfo in seeking the dismissal 10 of the petition. On February
28, 1994, the trial court issued an Order 11 denying the two motions to On November 25, 1994, Judge Tensuan issued an Order 21 granting the
dismiss. motion for inhibition. The case was re-raffled to Branch 134 presided by
Judge Paul T. Arcangel.
Unaware of the denial of the motions to dismiss, respondent filed on
March 5, 1994 her opposition 12 thereto. She submitted documentary On April 24, 1995, 22 the trial court required the parties to submit their
evidence showing that while Felicisimo exercised the powers of his respective position papers on the twin issues of venue and legal
public office in Laguna, he regularly went home to their house in New capacity of respondent to file the petition. On May 5, 1995, Edgar
Alabang Village, Alabang, Metro Manila which they bought sometime in manifested 23 that he is adopting the arguments and evidence set forth
1982. Further, she presented the decree of absolute divorce issued by in his previous motion for reconsideration as his position paper.
the Family Court of the First Circuit, State of Hawaii to prove that the Respondent and Rodolfo filed their position papers on June 14, 24 and
marriage of Felicisimo to Merry Lee had already been dissolved. Thus, June 20, 25 1995, respectively.
she claimed that Felicisimo had the legal capacity to marry her by virtue
of paragraph 2, 13 Article 26 of the Family Code and the doctrine laid On September 12, 1995, the trial court dismissed the petition for letters
down in Van Dorn v. Romillo, Jr. 14 of administration. It held that, at the time of his death, Felicisimo was the
duly elected governor and a resident of the Province of Laguna. Hence,
Thereafter, Linda, Rodolfo and herein petitioner Edgar San Luis, the petition should have been filed in Sta. Cruz, Laguna and not in
separately filed motions for reconsideration from the Order denying their Makati City. It also ruled that respondent was without legal capacity to
motions to dismiss. 15 They asserted that paragraph 2, Article 26 of the file the petition for letters of administration because her marriage with
Family Code cannot be given retroactive effect to validate respondent’s Felicisimo was bigamous, thus, void ab initio. It found that the decree of
bigamous marriage with Felicisimo because this would impair vested absolute divorce dissolving Felicisimo’s marriage to Merry Lee was not
rights in derogation of Article 256 16 of the Family Code. valid in the Philippines and did not bind Felicisimo who was a Filipino
citizen. It also ruled that paragraph 2, Article 26 of the Family Code
On April 21, 1994, Mila, another daughter of Felicisimo from his first cannot be retroactively applied because it would impair the vested rights
marriage, filed a motion to disqualify Acting Presiding Judge Anthony E. of Felicisimo’s legitimate children.
Santos from hearing the case.
Respondent moved for reconsideration 26 and for the
On October 24, 1994, the trial court issued an Order 17 denying the disqualification 27 of Judge Arcangel but said motions were denied. 28
motions for reconsideration. It ruled that respondent, as widow of the
decedent, possessed the legal standing to file the petition and that Respondent appealed to the Court of Appeals which reversed and set
venue was properly laid. Meanwhile, the motion for disqualification was aside the orders of the trial court in its assailed Decision dated February
deemed moot and academic 18 because then Acting Presiding Judge 4, 1998, the dispositive portion of which states:
Santos was substituted by Judge Salvador S. Tensuan pending the
resolution of said motion. WHEREFORE, the Orders dated September 12, 1995 and January 31,
1996 are hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE; the Orders dated
Mila filed a motion for inhibition 19 against Judge Tensuan on November February 28 and October 24, 1994 are REINSTATED; and the records
16, 1994. On even date, Edgar also filed a motion for of the case is REMANDED to the trial court for further proceedings.29
reconsideration 20 from the Order denying their motion for
reconsideration arguing that it does not state the facts and law on which The appellante court ruled that under Section 1, Rule 73 of the Rules of
it was based. Court, the term "place of residence" of the decedent, for purposes of
fixing the venue of the settlement of his estate, refers to the personal,
actual or physical habitation, or actual residence or place of abode of a
person as distinguished from legal residence or domicile. It noted that laid because at the time of his death, Felicisimo was a resident of Sta.
although Felicisimo discharged his functions as governor in Laguna, he Cruz, Laguna. They contend that pursuant to our rulings in Nuval v.
actually resided in Alabang, Muntinlupa. Thus, the petition for letters of Guray 37 and Romualdez v. RTC, Br. 7, Tacloban City, 38 "residence" is
administration was properly filed in Makati City. synonymous with "domicile" which denotes a fixed permanent residence
to which when absent, one intends to return. They claim that a person
The Court of Appeals also held that Felicisimo had legal capacity to can only have one domicile at any given time. Since Felicisimo never
marry respondent by virtue of paragraph 2, Article 26 of the Family changed his domicile, the petition for letters of administration should
Code and the rulings in Van Dorn v. Romillo, Jr. 30 and Pilapil v. Ibay- have been filed in Sta. Cruz, Laguna.
Somera. 31 It found that the marriage between Felicisimo and Merry Lee
was validly dissolved by virtue of the decree of absolute divorce issued Petitioners also contend that respondent’s marriage to Felicisimo was
by the Family Court of the First Circuit, State of Hawaii. As a result, void and bigamous because it was performed during the subsistence of
under paragraph 2, Article 26, Felicisimo was capacitated to contract a the latter’s marriage to Merry Lee. They argue that paragraph 2, Article
subsequent marriage with respondent. Thus – 26 cannot be retroactively applied because it would impair vested rights
and ratify the void bigamous marriage. As such, respondent cannot be
With the well-known rule – express mandate of paragraph 2, Article 26, considered the surviving wife of Felicisimo; hence, she has no legal
of the Family Code of the Philippines, the doctrines in Van Dorn, Pilapil, capacity to file the petition for letters of administration.
and the reason and philosophy behind the enactment of E.O. No. 227,
— there is no justiciable reason to sustain the individual view — The issues for resolution: (1) whether venue was properly laid, and (2)
sweeping statement — of Judge Arc[h]angel, that "Article 26, par. 2 of whether respondent has legal capacity to file the subject petition for
the Family Code, contravenes the basic policy of our state against letters of administration.
divorce in any form whatsoever." Indeed, courts cannot deny what the
law grants. All that the courts should do is to give force and effect to the The petition lacks merit.
express mandate of the law. The foreign divorce having been obtained
by the Foreigner on December 14, 1992, 32 the Filipino divorcee, "shall x Under Section 1, 39 Rule 73 of the Rules of Court, the petition for letters
x x have capacity to remarry under Philippine laws". For this reason, the of administration of the estate of Felicisimo should be filed in the
marriage between the deceased and petitioner should not be Regional Trial Court of the province "in which he resides at the time of
denominated as "a bigamous marriage. his death." In the case of Garcia Fule v. Court of Appeals, 40 we laid
down the doctrinal rule for determining the residence – as
Therefore, under Article 130 of the Family Code, the petitioner as the contradistinguished from domicile – of the decedent for purposes of
surviving spouse can institute the judicial proceeding for the settlement fixing the venue of the settlement of his estate:
of the estate of the deceased. x x x 33
[T]he term "resides" connotes ex vi termini "actual residence" as
Edgar, Linda, and Rodolfo filed separate motions for distinguished from "legal residence or domicile." This term "resides," like
reconsideration 34 which were denied by the Court of Appeals. the terms "residing" and "residence," is elastic and should be interpreted
in the light of the object or purpose of the statute or rule in which it is
On July 2, 1998, Edgar appealed to this Court via the instant petition for employed. In the application of venue statutes and rules – Section 1,
review on certiorari. 35 Rodolfo later filed a manifestation and motion to Rule 73 of the Revised Rules of Court is of such nature – residence
adopt the said petition which was granted. 36 rather than domicile is the significant factor. Even where the statute
uses the word "domicile" still it is construed as meaning residence and
In the instant consolidated petitions, Edgar and Rodolfo insist that the not domicile in the technical sense. Some cases make a distinction
venue of the subject petition for letters of administration was improperly between the terms "residence" and "domicile" but as generally used in
statutes fixing venue, the terms are synonymous, and convey the same
meaning as the term "inhabitant." In other words, "resides" should be while his office/provincial address is in "Provincial Capitol, Sta. Cruz,
viewed or understood in its popular sense, meaning, the personal, Laguna."
actual or physical habitation of a person, actual residence or place of
abode. It signifies physical presence in a place and actual stay thereat. From the foregoing, we find that Felicisimo was a resident of Alabang,
In this popular sense, the term means merely residence, that is, Muntinlupa for purposes of fixing the venue of the settlement of his
personal residence, not legal residence or domicile. Residence simply estate. Consequently, the subject petition for letters of administration
requires bodily presence as an inhabitant in a given place, while was validly filed in the Regional Trial Court 50 which has territorial
domicile requires bodily presence in that place and also an intention to jurisdiction over Alabang, Muntinlupa. The subject petition was filed on
make it one’s domicile. No particular length of time of residence is December 17, 1993. At that time, Muntinlupa was still a municipality and
required though; however, the residence must be more than the branches of the Regional Trial Court of the National Capital Judicial
temporary. 41 (Emphasis supplied) Region which had territorial jurisdiction over Muntinlupa were then
seated in Makati City as per Supreme Court Administrative Order No.
It is incorrect for petitioners to argue that "residence," for purposes of 3. 51 Thus, the subject petition was validly filed before the Regional Trial
fixing the venue of the settlement of the estate of Felicisimo, is Court of Makati City.
synonymous with "domicile." The rulings in Nuval and Romualdez are
inapplicable to the instant case because they involve election cases. Anent the issue of respondent Felicidad’s legal personality to file the
Needless to say, there is a distinction between "residence" for purposes petition for letters of administration, we must first resolve the issue of
of election laws and "residence" for purposes of fixing the venue of whether a Filipino who is divorced by his alien spouse abroad may
actions. In election cases, "residence" and "domicile" are treated as validly remarry under the Civil Code, considering that Felicidad’s
synonymous terms, that is, the fixed permanent residence to which marriage to Felicisimo was solemnized on June 20, 1974, or before the
when absent, one has the intention of returning. 42 However, for Family Code took effect on August 3, 1988. In resolving this issue, we
purposes of fixing venue under the Rules of Court, the "residence" of a need not retroactively apply the provisions of the Family Code,
person is his personal, actual or physical habitation, or actual residence particularly Art. 26, par. (2) considering that there is sufficient
or place of abode, which may not necessarily be his legal residence or jurisprudential basis allowing us to rule in the affirmative.
domicile provided he resides therein with continuity and
consistency. 43 Hence, it is possible that a person may have his The case of Van Dorn v. Romillo, Jr. 52 involved a marriage between a
residence in one place and domicile in another. foreigner and his Filipino wife, which marriage was subsequently
dissolved through a divorce obtained abroad by the latter. Claiming that
In the instant case, while petitioners established that Felicisimo was the divorce was not valid under Philippine law, the alien spouse alleged
domiciled in Sta. Cruz, Laguna, respondent proved that he also that his interest in the properties from their conjugal partnership should
maintained a residence in Alabang, Muntinlupa from 1982 up to the time be protected. The Court, however, recognized the validity of the divorce
of his death. Respondent submitted in evidence the Deed of Absolute and held that the alien spouse had no interest in the properties acquired
Sale 44 dated January 5, 1983 showing that the deceased purchased the by the Filipino wife after the divorce. Thus:
aforesaid property. She also presented billing statements45 from the
Philippine Heart Center and Chinese General Hospital for the period In this case, the divorce in Nevada released private respondent from the
August to December 1992 indicating the address of Felicisimo at "100 marriage from the standards of American law, under which divorce
San Juanico, Ayala Alabang, Muntinlupa." Respondent also presented dissolves the marriage. As stated by the Federal Supreme Court of the
proof of membership of the deceased in the Ayala Alabang Village United States in Atherton vs. Atherton, 45 L. Ed. 794, 799:
Association 46 and Ayala Country Club, Inc., 47 letter-envelopes 48 from
1988 to 1990 sent by the deceased’s children to him at his Alabang
address, and the deceased’s calling cards 49 stating that his home/city "The purpose and effect of a decree of divorce from the bond of
address is at "100 San Juanico, Ayala Alabang Village, Muntinlupa" matrimony by a competent jurisdiction are to change the existing status
or domestic relation of husband and wife, and to free them both from the
bond. The marriage tie, when thus severed as to one party, ceases to The significance of the Van Dorn case to the development of limited
bind either. A husband without a wife, or a wife without a husband, is recognition of divorce in the Philippines cannot be denied. The ruling
unknown to the law. When the law provides, in the nature of a penalty, has long been interpreted as severing marital ties between parties in a
that the guilty party shall not marry again, that party, as well as the mixed marriage and capacitating the Filipino spouse to remarry as a
other, is still absolutely freed from the bond of the former marriage." necessary consequence of upholding the validity of a divorce obtained
abroad by the alien spouse. In his treatise, Dr. Arturo M. Tolentino
Thus, pursuant to his national law, private respondent is no longer the cited Van Dorn stating that "if the foreigner obtains a valid foreign
husband of petitioner. He would have no standing to sue in the case divorce, the Filipino spouse shall have capacity to remarry under
below as petitioner’s husband entitled to exercise control over conjugal Philippine law." 59 In Garcia v. Recio, 60 the Court likewise cited the
assets. As he is bound by the Decision of his own country’s Court, aforementioned case in relation to Article 26. 61
which validly exercised jurisdiction over him, and whose decision he
does not repudiate, he is estopped by his own representation before In the recent case of Republic v. Orbecido III, 62 the historical
said Court from asserting his right over the alleged conjugal property. 53 background and legislative intent behind paragraph 2, Article 26 of the
Family Code were discussed, to wit:
As to the effect of the divorce on the Filipino wife, the Court ruled that
she should no longer be considered married to the alien spouse. Brief Historical Background
Further, she should not be required to perform her marital duties and
obligations. It held: On July 6, 1987, then President Corazon Aquino signed into law
Executive Order No. 209, otherwise known as the "Family Code," which
To maintain, as private respondent does, that, under our laws, took effect on August 3, 1988. Article 26 thereof states:
petitioner has to be considered still married to private
respondent and still subject to a wife's obligations under Article All marriages solemnized outside the Philippines in accordance with the
109, et. seq. of the Civil Code cannot be just. Petitioner should not be laws in force in the country where they were solemnized, and valid there
obliged to live together with, observe respect and fidelity, and render as such, shall also be valid in this country, except those prohibited
support to private respondent. The latter should not continue to be one under Articles 35, 37, and 38.
of her heirs with possible rights to conjugal property. She should not be
discriminated against in her own country if the ends of justice are On July 17, 1987, shortly after the signing of the original Family Code,
to be served. 54 (Emphasis added) Executive Order No. 227 was likewise signed into law, amending
Articles 26, 36, and 39 of the Family Code. A second paragraph was
This principle was thereafter applied in Pilapil v. Ibay-Somera 55 where added to Article 26. As so amended, it now provides:
the Court recognized the validity of a divorce obtained abroad. In the
said case, it was held that the alien spouse is not a proper party in filing ART. 26. All marriages solemnized outside the Philippines in
the adultery suit against his Filipino wife. The Court stated that "the accordance with the laws in force in the country where they were
severance of the marital bond had the effect of dissociating the former solemnized, and valid there as such, shall also be valid in this country,
spouses from each other, hence the actuations of one would not affect except those prohibited under Articles 35(1), (4), (5) and (6), 36, 37 and
or cast obloquy on the other." 56 38.

Likewise, in Quita v. Court of Appeals, 57 the Court stated that where a Where a marriage between a Filipino citizen and a foreigner is validly
Filipino is divorced by his naturalized foreign spouse, the ruling inVan celebrated and a divorce is thereafter validly obtained abroad by the
Dorn applies. 58 Although decided on December 22, 1998, the divorce in alien spouse capacitating him or her to remarry, the Filipino spouse
the said case was obtained in 1954 when the Civil Code provisions were
still in effect.
shall have capacity to remarry under Philippine law. (Emphasis against in his own country if the ends of justice are to be served. 67 In
supplied) Alonzo v. Intermediate Appellate Court, 68 the Court stated:

xxxx But as has also been aptly observed, we test a law by its results; and
Legislative Intent likewise, we may add, by its purposes. It is a cardinal rule that, in
seeking the meaning of the law, the first concern of the judge should be
Records of the proceedings of the Family Code deliberations showed to discover in its provisions the intent of the lawmaker. Unquestionably,
that the intent of Paragraph 2 of Article 26, according to Judge Alicia the law should never be interpreted in such a way as to cause injustice
Sempio-Diy, a member of the Civil Code Revision Committee, is to as this is never within the legislative intent. An indispensable part of that
avoid the absurd situation where the Filipino spouse remains married to intent, in fact, for we presume the good motives of the legislature, is
the alien spouse who, after obtaining a divorce, is no longer married to to render justice.
the Filipino spouse.
Thus, we interpret and apply the law not independently of but in
Interestingly, Paragraph 2 of Article 26 traces its origin to the 1985 consonance with justice. Law and justice are inseparable, and we must
case of Van Dorn v. Romillo, Jr. The Van Dorn case involved a keep them so. To be sure, there are some laws that, while generally
marriage between a Filipino citizen and a foreigner. The Court held valid, may seem arbitrary when applied in a particular case because of
therein that a divorce decree validly obtained by the alien spouse its peculiar circumstances. In such a situation, we are not bound,
is valid in the Philippines, and consequently, the Filipino spouse is because only of our nature and functions, to apply them just the same,
capacitated to remarry under Philippine law.63 (Emphasis added) in slavish obedience to their language. What we do instead is find a
balance between the word and the will, that justice may be done even
as the law is obeyed.
As such, the Van Dorn case is sufficient basis in resolving a situation
where a divorce is validly obtained abroad by the alien spouse. With the
enactment of the Family Code and paragraph 2, Article 26 thereof, our As judges, we are not automatons. We do not and must not unfeelingly
lawmakers codified the law already established through judicial apply the law as it is worded, yielding like robots to the literal command
precedent.1awphi1.net without regard to its cause and consequence. "Courts are apt to err by
sticking too closely to the words of a law," so we are warned, by Justice
Holmes again, "where these words import a policy that goes beyond
Indeed, when the object of a marriage is defeated by rendering its
continuance intolerable to one of the parties and productive of no
possible good to the community, relief in some way should be
obtainable. 64 Marriage, being a mutual and shared commitment xxxx
between two parties, cannot possibly be productive of any good to the
society where one is considered released from the marital bond while More than twenty centuries ago, Justinian defined justice "as the
the other remains bound to it. Such is the state of affairs where the alien constant and perpetual wish to render every one his due." That wish
spouse obtains a valid divorce abroad against the Filipino spouse, as in continues to motivate this Court when it assesses the facts and the law
this case. in every case brought to it for decision. Justice is always an essential
ingredient of its decisions. Thus when the facts warrants, we interpret
Petitioners cite Articles 15 65 and 17 66 of the Civil Code in stating that the law in a way that will render justice, presuming that it was the
the divorce is void under Philippine law insofar as Filipinos are intention of the lawmaker, to begin with, that the law be dispensed with
concerned. However, in light of this Court’s rulings in the cases justice. 69
discussed above, the Filipino spouse should not be discriminated
Applying the above doctrine in the instant case, the divorce decree SEC. 2. Contents of petition for letters of administration. – A petition for
allegedly obtained by Merry Lee which absolutely allowed Felicisimo to letters of administration must be filed by an interested person and must
remarry, would have vested Felicidad with the legal personality to file show, as far as known to the petitioner: x x x.
the present petition as Felicisimo’s surviving spouse. However, the
records show that there is insufficient evidence to prove the validity of An "interested person" has been defined as one who would be benefited
the divorce obtained by Merry Lee as well as the marriage of by the estate, such as an heir, or one who has a claim against the
respondent and Felicisimo under the laws of the U.S.A. In Garcia v. estate, such as a creditor. The interest must be material and direct, and
Recio, 70 the Court laid down the specific guidelines for pleading and not merely indirect or contingent. 75
proving foreign law and divorce judgments. It held that presentation
solely of the divorce decree is insufficient and that proof of its In the instant case, respondent would qualify as an interested person
authenticity and due execution must be presented. Under Sections 24 who has a direct interest in the estate of Felicisimo by virtue of their
and 25 of Rule 132, a writing or document may be proven as a public or cohabitation, the existence of which was not denied by petitioners. If she
official record of a foreign country by either (1) an official publication or proves the validity of the divorce and Felicisimo’s capacity to remarry,
(2) a copy thereof attested by the officer having legal custody of the but fails to prove that her marriage with him was validly performed under
document. If the record is not kept in the Philippines, such copy must be the laws of the U.S.A., then she may be considered as a co-owner
(a) accompanied by a certificate issued by the proper diplomatic or under Article 144 76 of the Civil Code. This provision governs the
consular officer in the Philippine foreign service stationed in the foreign property relations between parties who live together as husband and
country in which the record is kept and (b) authenticated by the seal of wife without the benefit of marriage, or their marriage is void from the
his office. 71 beginning. It provides that the property acquired by either or both of
them through their work or industry or their wages and salaries shall be
With regard to respondent’s marriage to Felicisimo allegedly solemnized governed by the rules on co-ownership. In a co-ownership, it is not
in California, U.S.A., she submitted photocopies of the Marriage necessary that the property be acquired through their joint labor, efforts
Certificate and the annotated text 72 of the Family Law Act of California and industry. Any property acquired during the union is prima
which purportedly show that their marriage was done in accordance with faciepresumed to have been obtained through their joint efforts. Hence,
the said law. As stated in Garcia, however, the Court cannot take the portions belonging to the co-owners shall be presumed equal,
judicial notice of foreign laws as they must be alleged and proved. 73 unless the contrary is proven. 77

Therefore, this case should be remanded to the trial court for further Meanwhile, if respondent fails to prove the validity of both the divorce
reception of evidence on the divorce decree obtained by Merry Lee and and the marriage, the applicable provision would be Article 148 of the
the marriage of respondent and Felicisimo. Family Code which has filled the hiatus in Article 144 of the Civil Code
by expressly regulating the property relations of couples living together
Even assuming that Felicisimo was not capacitated to marry respondent as husband and wife but are incapacitated to marry. 78 In Saguid v.
in 1974, nevertheless, we find that the latter has the legal personality to Court of Appeals, 79 we held that even if the cohabitation or the
file the subject petition for letters of administration, as she may be acquisition of property occurred before the Family Code took effect,
considered the co-owner of Felicisimo as regards the properties that Article 148 governs. 80 The Court described the property regime under
were acquired through their joint efforts during their cohabitation. this provision as follows:

Section 6, 74 Rule 78 of the Rules of Court states that letters of The regime of limited co-ownership of property governing the union of
administration may be granted to the surviving spouse of the decedent. parties who are not legally capacitated to marry each other, but who
However, Section 2, Rule 79 thereof also provides in part: nonetheless live together as husband and wife, applies to properties
acquired during said cohabitation in proportion to their respective
contributions. Co-ownership will only be up to the extent of the proven
actual contribution of money, property or industry. Absent proof of the ROMMEL JACINTO DANTES cralawcralawG.R. No. 174689
extent thereof, their contributions and corresponding shares shall be SILVERIO,
presumed to be equal. Petitioner,Present:

xxxx PUNO, C.J., C

In the cases of Agapay v. Palang, and Tumlos v. Fernandez, which
-v e r s u s-cralawcralawCORONA,
involved the issue of co-ownership of properties acquired by the parties
cralawAZCUNA and
to a bigamous marriage and an adulterous relationship, respectively, we
ruled that proof of actual contribution in the acquisition of the property is
essential. x x x
As in other civil cases, the burden of proof rests upon the party who, as Respondent. cralawPromulgated:
determined by the pleadings or the nature of the case, asserts an October 22,
affirmative issue. Contentions must be proved by competent evidence 2007
and reliance must be had on the strength of the party’s own evidence x---------------------------------------------------x
and not upon the weakness of the opponent’s defense. x x x 81

In view of the foregoing, we find that respondent’s legal capacity to file DECISION
the subject petition for letters of administration may arise from her status CORONA, J.:
as the surviving wife of Felicisimo or as his co-owner under Article 144
of the Civil Code or Article 148 of the Family Code. When God created man, He
made him in the likeness of
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The Decision of the Court of God; He created them male
Appeals reinstating and affirming the February 28, 1994 Order of the and female. (Genesis 5:1-2)
Regional Trial Court which denied petitioners’ motion to dismiss and its
October 24, 1994 Order which dismissed petitioners’ motion for Amihan gazed upon the
reconsideration is AFFIRMED. Let this case be REMANDED to the trial bamboo reed planted by
court for further proceedings. Bathala and she heard voices
coming from inside the
SO ORDERED. bamboo. Oh North Wind! North
Wind! Please let us out!, the
voices said. She pecked the
reed once, then twice. All of a
sudden, the bamboo cracked
Republic of the Philippines and slit open. Out came two
SUPREME COURT human beings; one was a male
Manila and the other was a female.
Amihan named the man
FIRST DIVISION Malakas (Strong) and the
woman Maganda (Beautiful).
(The Legend of Malakas and
Maganda) underwent psychological examination, hormone treatment and breast

augmentation. His attempts to transform himself to a woman culminated

cralawWhen is a man a man and when is a woman a woman? In
on January 27, 2001 when he underwent sex reassignment surgery[2] in
particular, does the law recognize thechanges made by a physician
Bangkok, Thailand. He was thereafter examined by Dr. Marcelino
using scalpel, drugs and counseling with regard to a persons sex?May a
Reysio-Cruz, Jr., a plastic and reconstruction surgeon in the Philippines,
person successfully petition for a change of name and sex appearing in
who issued a medical certificate attesting that he (petitioner) had in fact
the birth certificate to reflect the result of a sex reassignment surgery?
undergone the procedure.

cralawOn November 26, 2002, petitioner Rommel Jacinto Dantes

cralawFrom then on, petitioner lived as a female and was in fact
Silverio filed a petition for the change of his first name and sex in his
engaged to be married. He then sought to have his name in his birth
birth certificate in the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 8. The
certificate changed from Rommel Jacinto to Mely, and his sex from male
petition, docketed as SP Case No. 02-105207, impleaded the civil
to female.
registrar of Manila as respondent.

cralawAn order setting the case for initial hearing was published in the
cralawPetitioner alleged in his petition that he was born in the City of
Peoples Journal Tonight, a newspaper of general circulation in Metro
Manila to the spouses Melecio Petines Silverio and Anita Aquino Dantes
Manila, for three consecutive weeks.[3] Copies of the order were sent to
on April 4, 1962. His name was registered as Rommel Jacinto Dantes
the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) and the civil registrar of Manila.
Silverio in his certificate of live birth (birth certificate). His sex was

registered as male. cralawOn the scheduled initial hearing, jurisdictional requirements were

established. No opposition to the petition was made.

cralawHe further alleged that he is a male transsexual, that is,

anatomically male but feels, thinks and acts as a female and that he had cralawDuring trial, petitioner testified for himself. He also presented Dr.

always identified himself with girls since childhood.[1] Feeling trapped in Reysio-Cruz, Jr. and his American fianc, Richard P. Edel, as witnesses.

a mans body, he consulted several doctors in the United States. He

cralawOn June 4, 2003, the trial court rendered a decision[4] in favor of cralaw

petitioner. Its relevant portions read: On August 18, 2003, the Republic of the Philippines (Republic), thru the

Petitioner filed the present petition not to evade any law OSG, filed a petition for certiorari in the Court of Appeals.[6] It alleged
or judgment or any infraction thereof or for any unlawful
motive but solely for the purpose of making his birth that there is no law allowing the change of entries in the birth certificate
records compatible with his present sex.
by reason of sex alteration.
The sole issue here is whether or not petitioner is
entitled to the relief asked for.
On February 23, 2006, the Court of Appeals[7] rendered a decision[8] in
The [c]ourt rules in the affirmative.
favor of the Republic. It ruled that the trial courts decision lacked legal
Firstly, the [c]ourt is of the opinion that granting the
petition would be more in consonance with the basis. There is no law allowing the change of either name or sex in the
principles of justice and equity. With his sexual [re-
assignment], petitioner, who has always felt, thought certificate of birth on the ground of sex reassignment through surgery.
and acted like a woman, now possesses the physique
of a female. Petitioners misfortune to be trapped in a Thus, the Court of Appeals granted the Republics petition, set aside the
mans body is not his own doing and should not be in
any way taken against him. decision of the trial court and ordered the dismissal of SP Case No. 02-

Likewise, the [c]ourt believes that no harm, injury [or] 105207. Petitioner moved for reconsideration but it was denied.
prejudice will be caused to anybody or the community in
[9] Hence, this petition.
granting the petition. On the contrary, granting the
petition would bring the much-awaited happiness on the
part of the petitioner and her [fianc] and the realization
Petitioner essentially claims that the change of his name and sex in his
of their dreams.
birth certificate is allowed under Articles 407 to 413 of the Civil Code,
Finally, no evidence was presented to show any cause
or ground to deny the present petition despite due Rules 103 and 108 of the Rules of Court and RA 9048.
notice and publication thereof. Even the State, through
the [OSG] has not seen fit to interpose any [o]pposition. [10]chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered
GRANTING the petition and ordering the Civil Registrar The petition lacks merit.
of Manila to change the entries appearing in the
Certificate of Birth of [p]etitioner, specifically for
petitioners first name from Rommel Jacinto
to MELY and petitioners gender from Male
to FEMALE. [5]
FIRST NAME This Civil Code provision was amended by RA 9048 (Clerical Error
CHANGED Law). In particular, Section 1 of RA 9048 provides:
GROUND OF SECTION 1. Authority to Correct Clerical or
SEX Typographical Error and Change of First Name or
REASSIGNM Nickname. No entry in a civil register shall be changed
ENT or corrected without a judicial order, except for clerical
or typographical errors and change of first name or
nickname which can be corrected or changed by the
concerned city or municipal civil registrar or consul
cralawPetitioner invoked his sex reassignment as the ground for his general in accordance with the provisions of this Act
and its implementing rules and regulations.
petition for change of name and sex. As found by the trial court:
Petitioner filed the present petition not to evade any law
or judgment or any infraction thereof or for any unlawful
motive but solely for the purpose of making his birth RA 9048 now governs the change of first name.[14] It vests the power
records compatible with his present sex. (emphasis
supplied) and authority to entertain petitions for change of first name to the city or
municipal civil registrar or consul generalconcerned. Under the law,

Petitioner believes that after having acquired the physical features of a therefore, jurisdiction over applications for change of first name is now

female, he became entitled to the civil registry changes sought. We primarily lodged with the aforementioned administrative officers. The

disagree. intent and effect of the law is to exclude the change of first name from

the coverage of Rules 103 (Change of Name) and 108 (Cancellation or

The State has an interest in the names borne by individuals and entities
Correction of Entries in the Civil Registry) of the Rules of Court, until
for purposes of identification.[11] A change of name is a privilege, not a
and unless an administrative petition for change of name is first filed and
right.[12] Petitions for change of name are controlled by statutes.[13] In
subsequently denied.[15] It likewise lays down the corresponding venue,
this connection, Article 376 of the Civil Code provides:
[16] form[17] and procedure. In sum, the remedy and the proceedings
ART. 376. No person can change his name or surname
without judicial authority. regulating change of first name are primarily administrative in nature,

not judicial.
RA 9048 likewise provides the grounds for which change of first name Before a person can legally change his given name, he must present

may be allowed: proper or reasonable cause or any compelling reason justifying such

SECTION 4. Grounds for Change of First Name or change.[19] In addition, he must show that he will be prejudiced by the
Nickname. The petition for change of first name or
nickname may be allowed in any of the following cases: use of his true and official name.[20] In this case, he failed to show, or

(1) The petitioner finds the first name or even allege, any prejudice that he might suffer as a result of using his
nickname to be ridiculous, tainted with
dishonor or extremely difficult to write or true and official name.

(2) The new first name or nickname has In sum, the petition in the trial court in so far as it prayed for the change
been habitually and continuously used
by the petitioner and he has been of petitioners first name was not within that courts primary jurisdiction as
publicly known by that first name or
nickname in the community; or the petition should have been filed with the local civil registrar

(3) The change will avoid confusion. concerned, assuming it could be legally done. It was an improper

remedy because the proper remedy was administrative, that is, that

Petitioners basis in praying for the change of his first name was his sex provided under RA 9048. It was also filed in the wrong venue as the

reassignment. He intended to make his first name compatible with the proper venue was in the Office of the Civil Registrar of Manila where his

sex he thought he transformed himself into through surgery. However, a birth certificate is kept. More importantly, it had no merit since the use of

change of name does not alter ones legal capacity or civil status.[18] RA his true and official name does not prejudice him at all. For all these

9048 does not sanction a change of first name on the ground of sex reasons, the Court of Appeals correctly dismissed petitioners petition in

reassignment. Rather than avoiding confusion, changing petitioners first so far as the change of his first name was concerned.

name for his declared purpose may only create grave complications in
the civil registry and the public interest. ALLOWS
THE SECTION 2. Definition of Terms. As used in this Act,
BIRTH the following terms shall mean:
ATE AS xxxxxxxxx
ON THE (3) Clerical or typographical error refers to a
GROUND mistake committed in the performance of
OF SEX clerical work in writing, copying,
REASSIG transcribing or typing an entry in the civil
NMENT register that is harmless and innocuous,
such as misspelled name or misspelled
place of birth or the like, which is visible
to the eyes or obvious to the
The determination of a persons sex appearing in his birth certificate is a understanding, and can be corrected or
changed only by reference to other
legal issue and the court must look to the statutes.[21] In this existing record or records: Provided,
however, That no correction must
connection, Article 412 of the Civil Code provides: involve the change of nationality, age,
status or sex of the petitioner. (emphasis
ART. 412. No entry in the civil register shall be changed supplied)
or corrected without a judicial order.

Under RA 9048, a correction in the civil registry involving the change of

Together with Article 376 of the Civil Code, this provision was amended
sex is not a mere clerical or typographical error. It is a substantial
by RA 9048 in so far asclerical or typographical errors are involved. The
change for which the applicable procedure is Rule 108 of the Rules of
correction or change of such matters can now be made through
administrative proceedings and without the need for a judicial order. In

effect, RA 9048 removed from the ambit of Rule 108 of the Rules of
The entries envisaged in Article 412 of the Civil Code and correctable
Court the correction of such errors.[22]Rule 108 now applies only to
under Rule 108 of the Rules of Court are those provided in Articles 407
substantial changes and corrections in entries in the civil register.
and 408 of the Civil Code:[24]
ART. 407. Acts, events and judicial decrees concerning
the civil status of persons shall be recorded in the civil
Section 2(c) of RA 9048 defines what a clerical or typographical error is: register.
ART. 408. The following shall be entered in the civil
register: separations, annulments of marriage, declarations of nullity of

(1) Births; (2) marriages; (3) deaths; (4) legal marriages, adoptions, naturalization, loss or recovery of citizenship, civil
separations; (5) annulments of marriage; (6) judgments
declaring marriages void from the beginning; (7) interdiction, judicial determination of filiation and changes of name).
legitimations; (8) adoptions; (9) acknowledgments of
natural children; (10) naturalization; (11) loss, or (12) These acts, events and judicial decrees produce legal consequences
recovery of citizenship; (13) civil interdiction; (14)
judicial determination of filiation; (15) voluntary that touch upon the legal capacity, status and nationality of a person.
emancipation of a minor; and(16) changes of name.
Their effects are expressly sanctioned by the laws. In contrast, sex

reassignment is not among those acts or events mentioned in Article

The acts, events or factual errors contemplated under Article 407 of the
407. Neither is it recognized nor even mentioned by any law, expressly
Civil Code include even those that occur after birth.[25] However, no
or impliedly.
reasonable interpretation of the provision can justify the conclusion that

it covers the correction on the ground of sex reassignment. Status refers to the circumstances affecting the legal situation (that is,

To correct simply means to make or set aright; to remove the faults or the sum total of capacities and incapacities) of a person in view of his

error from while to change means to replace something with something age, nationality and his family membership.[27]

else of the same kind or with something that serves as a substitute. The status of a person in law includes all his personal
qualities and relations, more or less permanent in
[26] The birth certificate of petitioner contained no error. All entries nature, not ordinarily terminable at his own will,
such as his being legitimate or illegitimate, or his being
therein, including those corresponding to his first name and sex, were all married or not. The comprehensive termstatus include
such matters as the beginning and end of legal
correct. No correction is necessary. personality, capacity to have rights in general, family
relations, and its various aspects, such as birth,
legitimation, adoption, emancipation, marriage, divorce,
Article 407 of the Civil Code authorizes the entry in the civil registry of and sometimes even succession.[28] (emphasis
certain acts (such as legitimations, acknowledgments of illegitimate

children and naturalization), events (such as births, marriages,

naturalization and deaths) and judicial decrees (such as legal

A persons sex is an essential factor in marriage and family relations. It is Under the Civil Register Law, a birth certificate is a historical record of

a part of a persons legal capacity and civil status. In this the facts as they existed at the time of birth.[29] Thus, the sex of a

connection, Article 413 of the Civil Code provides: person is determined at birth, visually done by the birth attendant (the

ART. 413. All other matters pertaining to the registration physician or midwife) by examining the genitals of the infant.
of civil status shall be governed by special laws.
Considering that there is no law legally recognizing sex reassignment,

the determination of a persons sex made at the time of his or her birth, if
But there is no such special law in the Philippines governing sex
not attended by error,[30] is immutable.[31]
reassignment and its effects. This is fatal to petitioners cause.

When words are not defined in a statute they are to be given their
Moreover, Section 5 of Act 3753 (the Civil Register Law) provides:
common and ordinary meaning in the absence of a contrary legislative
SEC. 5. Registration and certification of births. The
declaration of the physician or midwife in attendance at intent. The words sex, male and female as used in the Civil Register
the birth or, in default thereof, the declaration of either
parent of the newborn child, shall be sufficient for the Law and laws concerning the civil registry (and even all other laws)
registration of a birth in the civil register. Such
declaration shall be exempt from documentary stamp should therefore be understood in their common and ordinary usage,
tax and shall be sent to the local civil registrar not later
than thirty days after the birth, by the physician or there being no legislative intent to the contrary. In this connection, sex is
midwife in attendance at the birth or by either parent of
the newborn child. defined as the sum of peculiarities of structure and function that

cralawIn such declaration, the person above mentioned distinguish a male from a female[32] or the distinction between male
shall certify to the following facts: (a) date and hour of
birth; (b) sex and nationality of infant; (c) names, and female.[33] Female is the sex that produces ova or bears
citizenship and religion of parents or, in case the father
young[34] and male is the sex that has organs to produce spermatozoa
is not known, of the mother alone; (d) civil status of
parents; (e) place where the infant was born; and (f)
for fertilizing ova.[35] Thus, the words male and female in everyday
such other data as may be required in the regulations to
be issued.
understanding do not include persons who have undergone sex
xxx xxxxxx (emphasis supplied) reassignment. Furthermore, words that are employed in a statute which

had at the time a well-known meaning are presumed to have been used
in that sense unless the context compels to the contrary.[36] Since the
cralawThe changes sought by petitioner will have serious and wide-
statutory language of the Civil Register Law was enacted in the early
ranging legal and public policy consequences. First, even the trial court
1900s and remains unchanged, it cannot be argued that the term sex as
itself found that the petition was but petitioners first step towards his
used then is something alterable through surgery or something that
eventual marriage to his male fianc. However, marriage, one of the most
allows a post-operative male-to-female transsexual to be included in the
sacred socialinstitutions, is a special contract of permanent
category female.
union between a man and a woman.[37] One of its essential requisites

For these reasons, while petitioner may have succeeded in altering his is the legal capacity of the contracting parties who must be a male and

body and appearance through the intervention of modern surgery, no a female.[38] To grant the changes sought by petitioner will substantially

law authorizes the change of entry as to sex in the civil registry for that reconfigure and greatly alter the laws on marriage and family relations. It

reason. Thus, there is no legal basis for his petition for the correction or will allow the union of a man with another man who has undergone sex

change of the entries in his birth certificate. reassignment (a male-to-female post-operative transsexual). Second,

there are various laws which apply particularly to women such as the

NEITHER MAY provisions of the Labor Code on employment of women,[39] certain

BIRTH CERTIFICATE felonies under the Revised Penal Code[40] and the presumption of
OR SEX BE survivorship in case of calamities under Rule 131 of the Rules of Court,
GROUND OF EQUITY [41] among others. These laws underscore the public policy in relation

to women which could be substantially affected if petitioners petition

cralawThe trial court opined that its grant of the petition was in were to be granted.

consonance with the principles of justice and equity. It believed that It is true that Article 9 of the Civil Code mandates that [n]o judge or court

allowing the petition would cause no harm, injury or prejudice to anyone. shall decline to render judgment by reason of the silence, obscurity or

This is wrong. insufficiency of the law. However, it is not a license for courts to engage
in judicial legislation. The duty of the courts is to apply or interpret the exists. It can only apply or interpret the written word of its co-equal

law, not to make or amend it. branch of government, Congress.


In our system of government, it is for the legislature, should it choose to Petitioner pleads that [t]he unfortunates are also entitled to a life of

do so, to determine what guidelines should govern the recognition of the happiness, contentment and [the] realization of their dreams. No

effects of sex reassignment. The need for legislative guidelines argument about that. The Court recognizes that there are people whose

becomes particularly important in this case where the claims asserted preferences and orientation do not fit neatly into the commonly

are statute-based. recognized parameters of social convention and that, at least for them,

life is indeed an ordeal. However, the remedies petitioner seeks involve

To reiterate, the statutes define who may file petitions for change of first
questions of public policy to be addressed solely by the legislature, not
name and for correction or change of entries in the civil registry, where
by the courts.
they may be filed, what grounds may be invoked, what proof must be cralaw

presented and what procedures shall be observed. If the legislature WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DENIED.

intends to confer on a person who has undergone sex reassignment the

cralawCosts against petitioner.
privilege to change his name and sex to conform with his reassigned

sex, it has to enact legislation laying down the guidelines in turn SO ORDERED.

governing the conferment of that privilege.

It might be theoretically possible for this Court to write a protocol on

when a person may be recognized as having successfully changed his

sex. However, this Court has no authority to fashion a law on that

Republic of the Philippines
matter, or on anything else. The Court cannot enact a law where no law SUPREME COURT
FIRST DIVISION xxx xxx xxx

II. That Juan Cumayao died intestate many years ago, without
any payable obligation, leaving three legitimate children,
G.R. No. 118230 October 16, 1997 namely, Victoriano, Agustin, and Prudencio, all surnamed
Bingcoy, as his heirs. He also left three parcels of land in the
municipality of Valencia, province of Negros Oriental, more
particularly described as follows:
LUMHOD, JOSE BINGCOY, PELAGIA BINGCOY, FELISA BINGCOY, 1. Bounded on the North by Potenciana Tavandera — 32.00 m;
CESAR BINGCOY, DELFIN SAYRE, JESUS SAYRE, MARIA SAYRE, on the East by Narciso Lumhod — 30.00 m; on the South by
ANASTACIO SAYRE, FLORENTINO BEATE, and ISABELO Pangas — 28.00 m; and on the West by Valentin Igsi — 40.00
LUMHOD, petitioners, m; declared in the name of Juan Cumayao under Tax
vs. Declaration No. 2621, assessed at P20.00 for taxation.
and AGUSTIN BINGCOY, respondents. 2. Bounded on the North by Juan Cumayao (now Victoriano
Bingcoy) — 59.00; on the East by Agapito Morano — 33.00 m;
on the South by Gaspar Lumhod — 59.00 m; on the West by
Bartolome Dagooc — 33.00 m; declared in the name of Agustin
Bingcoy under Tax 3840, assessed at P60.00 for taxation.

3. Bounded on the North by Vicente N. Antes Damiano Linguis

On May 31, 1952, private respondents Victoriano and Agustin Bingcoy
— 48.00 m; on the East by Lucio Dagoy, Vicente N. and Aniceta
filed a Complaint for Recovery of Property in the Court of First Instance
Lingcong — 72.00 m; on the South by Marcelina Cumayao
(now Regional Trial Court) of Negros Oriental. Docketed as Civil Case
antes Magdalino Sayre — 48 m; and on the West by Joaquin
No. 2728 and raffled to Branch 37, the complaint alleged that
Cumayao, Victoriano y Eustaquio Jaro y Gabriel Abequibil —
petitioners, some time in July, 1948, attacked private respondents at
110.00 m. Declared in the name of Juan Cumayao under Tax
their residence in Barrio Bongbong, Municipality of Valencia, Province of
Decl. No. 8635, assessed at P30.00 for taxation.
Negros Oriental, shot at their hogs and chickens and seriously
threatened to shoot private respondents if they did not leave their house
and their lands. Fearing for their lives, private respondents instinctively III. That Prudencio Bingcoy, brother of the [private respondents],
jumped out of their house and ran away. Thereupon, petitioners usurped also died single, without issue, nor adopted child, intestate and
private respondents' house and lands, occupied the same to the without any payable obligation, leaving the [private respondents]
deprivation of private respondents and refused, after repeated requests as his only heirs and a parcel of land located at Bongbong,
and demands, to vacate the same and restore private respondents in Valencia, Negros Oriental, more particularly described as
the possession of their properties. follows:

In their complaint before the court a quo, private respondents detailed Bounded on the North by Agapito Morano
their claims in this manner: Antes Valentino Lumhod — 106.00 m.; on the
East by Donato Lumhod — 32.00 m; on the
South by Maria Asuncion antes Paulino
Lumhod — 106.00 m; and on the West by
Moises Cumayao 0 32.00 m; Declared under II. That [private respondent] Victoriano Bingcoy is the absolute
Tax Decl. No. 10043, assessed at P30.00 for owner of three parcels of land located at barrio Bongbong
taxation. Valencia, Negros Oriental, more particularly described as
IV. That upon the death of Juan Cumayao and Prudencio
Bingcoy, by right of inheritance the [private respondents] 1. Bounded on the North by Magdalina Sayre
automatically became the absolute owners of the property they — 52.00m; on the East by Pedro Sayre —
left described in paragraphs II and III hereof, respectively and 91.00 m; on the South by Placida Dagooc 27.00
have since then been in the actual, open, public, peaceful and m; and on the West by Francisco Morales and
continuous possession thereof under claim of title, exclusive of Sotero Dagooc — 87.00 m; Declared under Tax
any other rights, adverse to the whole world. No. 10623, assessed at P120.00 for taxation.

V. That on or about the middle of July 1948, the [petitioners], 2. Bounded on the North by Mauro Tinagan —
taking advantage of the weakness and ignorance of the 20.00 m; on the East by Felipe Nuay — 23.00
plaintiffs who are illiterates, confederating together and helping m; on the South by Narciso Lumhod — 21.00
one another, armed with a ride and bolos, went to the house of m; and on the West by Gaspar Lumhod —
the [private respondents] at Bongbong, Valencia, and 21.00 m; declared under Tax Decl. No. 4024,
demanded from them the surrender of the above-described assessed at P50.00 for taxation.
parcels of land, claiming that the plaintiffs are without any right
to inherit from Juan Cumayao and Prudencio Bingcoy and that 3. Bounded on the North by Rufino Buling —
they, the [petitioners] are the true heirs of said deceased; and in 5.00 m; on the East by Agapito Morano 20.00
order to scare the [private respondents] the [petitioners] shot the m; on the South by Gaspar Lunhod — 5.00 m;
hogs and chickens under the house of the former and and on the West by the provincial Road 20.00
threatened to shoot them if they refused to vacate the said land. m; declared under Tax 3762, assessed at
P10.00 for taxation.
VI. That being ignorant, harmless and incapable of protecting
themselves, the [private respondents] ran away and thus the III. That Victoriano Bingcoy acquired the first parcel of land by
[petitioners] got into the possession and control of the above- donation from Francisca Morilis, the second and third by
described land, and since then have retained possession purchase from Nicolas Abong and Pascuala Bingcoy,
thereof to the exclusion of the [private respondents], and respectively, many years ago as evidenced by documents . . .
refused to surrender the same despite repeated amicable and [Victoriano Bingcoy's] predecessors-in-interest have been
request made upon them by the [private respondents] in order in the actual, open, public, peaceful and continuous possession
to avoid judicial litigation. of said land which [private respondent] Victoriano Bingcoy
continued up to recent years under claim of title, exclusive of
xxx xxx xxx any other right, adverse to the whole world.

SECOND CAUSE OF ACTION IV. That on or about the middle of July 1948, the [petitioners],
taking advantage of the weakness and ignorance of the [private
xxx xxx xxx respondents] at Bongbong, Valencia, and first demanded the
surrender of the properties left by the deceased Juan Cumayao
and Prudencio Bingcoy described in paragraphs II and III of the
First Cause of Action, and having succeeded in dispossessing
the [private respondents] thereof in the manner specified in house of the plaintiffs at Bongbong, Valencia, and first
paragraphs V and VI of the First Cause of Action and demanded the surrender of the properties left by the deceased
encouraged by the inability of [Victoriano Bingcoy] to protect Juan Cumayao and Prudencio Bingcoy described in Paragraphs
himself, the [petitioners] usurped and occupied the private II and III of the First Cause of Action, and having succeeding in
property of the [private respondent] Victoriano Bingcoy despossessing [sic] the [private respondents] thereof in the
described in Paragraph II, subparagraphs 1, 2 and 3 of the manner specififed [sic] in paragraphs V and VI of the First
Second Cause of Action, retained possession thereof up to the Cause of Action and encouraged by the inability of the [private
present time and refused to surrender the same despite the respondent] to protect himself, the [petitioners] usurped and
repeated amicable requests made upon them by the [private occupied the private property of the [private respondent] Agustin
respondent] Victoriano Bingcoy in order to avoid judicial Bingcoy described in paragraph II of the Third Cause of Action,
litigation. retained possession thereof up to the present time and refused
to surrender the same despite repeated amicable requests
xxx xxx xxx made upon them by the [private respondent] Agustin Bingcoy in
order to avoid judicial litigation.
xxx xxx xxx 1
xxx xxx xxx
Petitioners countered private respondents' allegations by presenting a
true copy of the Death Certificate of Juan Cumayao which indicated that
II. That the [private respondent] Agustin Bingcoy is the absolute
the latter had died single on July 17, 1926 at the age of fifty (50) years.
owner of a parcel of land located in Barrio Bongbong
They thus established the defense that, since Juan Cumayao died
municipality of Valencia, province of Negros Oriental described
single and without any known children, he could not have passed on, by
as follows:
inheritance, the subject properties to private respondents. To establish
their claim of ownership on the subject properties, petitioners claim that
Bounded on the North by Agustin Bingcoy — the same originally belonged to spouses Marcos Cumayao and
48.00 m; on the East by Agapito Morano — Francisca Morales, parents of Juan Cumayao and grandparents of
74.00 m; on the South by Leon Sayre — 62.00 petitioners. They aver, thus, in their Answer dated August 30, 1952 that:
m; and on the West by Victoriano Bingcoy —
44.00 m; declared under Tax Decl. No. 6350,
. . . upon the death of their grandparents and their aforesaid
assessed at P90.00 for taxation.
uncle, the [petitioners], together with their other cousins,
nephews and nieces, succeeded to all the properties in question
III. That the [private respondent] Agustin Bingcoy acquired the as the only heirs of the deceased and to the exclusion of
said parcel of land by purchase from Simplicia Lumhod many [private respondents] herein, since Juan Cumayao died single,
years ago and since then the said [private respondent] has and have, since 1927, been in the actual, open, public, peaceful
been in the actual, open, public, peaceful and continuous and continuous possession and enjoyment of same properties,
possession thereof under claim of title, exclusive of any other under a claim of ownership exclusive of any other right and
right adverse to the whole world. adverse to the whole world. 2

IV. That on or about the middle of July, 1948, the [petitioners], On September 1, 1964, trial commenced. Private respondent Victoriano
taking advantage of the weakness and ignorance of the Bingcoy took the stand. He testified on the contents of the following
plaintiffs who are illeterates [sic], confederating together and documents:
helping one another, armed with a rifle and bolos, went to the
1. A certificate issued by the Local Civil Registrar of Zamboanguita 4. Tax Declaration No. 2621 in the name of Juan Cumayao marked as
marked by the court a quo as Exhibit "A". 3 Exhibit "C-2". 10

The first paragraph thereof which reads that "this is to certify that Juan On July 25, 1966, the direct examination of private respondent
Cumayao and Claudia Bingcoy, both residents of the municipality of Victoriano Bingcoy was resumed. He continued testifying on
Valencia, Negros Oriental, which [sic] was [sic] married in this several other documents that established private respondents'
municipality according to the informant", was marked as Exhibit "1-a" for claim of ownership over the subject properties. The documents
the defendants. 4 presented to the court and duly testified on by Victoriano
Bingcoy, on this particular trial day were the following:
The second paragraph thereof which states that, "this Office could not
issue the necessary certificate in view of the fact that all records of 1. A document of sale in favor of Juan Cumayao marked as Exhibit
Births, Deaths and marriages were burned during the Japanese "D". 11 Said document was signed by Felicia Longhod and Bonifacio
Occupation or have been eaten by the white ants", was marked by the Quitoy and covered the parcel of land subject of subparagraph 2,
trial court as Exhibit "A-1". 5 paragraph II, under the First Cause of Action. Indicating the purchase
price to be P25.00, said document of sale was signed before and
2. The marriage certificate of Agustin Bingcoy and Luisa Dacoyan prepared and ratified by, Justice of the Peace-Notary Public Pablo
secured from the priest of the town of Luzuriaga marked as Exhibit B. 6 Teves who had once been the Municipal Judge of Valencia; it was dated
January 10, 1920 and bore a worn out documentary stamp. 12
The paragraph thereof which reads that ". . . Que en el libro de
Casamientos de esta Parroquia pagina cientocuarenta y tres . . . en el 2. Tax Declaration No. 14141 in the name of Juan Cumayao marked as
dia vientieseis del mes de Noveiembre de mil novencientos cuarenta; Exhibit "D-1". 13
Yo, el Presbitero Fr. Amado Lope Cora Parroco de esta Parrocquia de
Luzuriaga, Provincia de Negros Oriental, precedidas las 3. Tax Declaration No. 3840 in the name of Juan Cumayao marked as
amonestaciones y demas diligencias que proviene el Sta. Concilio de Exhibit "D-2". 14
Trento y las leyes civiles y no habiendo resultado imedimento alguno
que a mi noticia haya ilegado, case por palabra de presente y vele en The statement, "Transferido segun documento retificado por Notario
esta Iglesia de mi cargo, segun rito de Ntra. Santa Madre la Iglesia Publico Pablo Teves el dia 19 de Enero, 1920", appearing thereon, was
Catolica a Agustin Bingcoy de vienteseis anos de edad soltero natural marked as Exhibit "D-3". 15
de Luzuriaga y residente en este pueblo hijo de Juan Cumayao y de
Claudia Vincoy, con Luisa Dacoyan y de diesinueve anos de edad 4. An official tax receipt with no. 892811 covering taxes paid for the
soltera, natural de Luzuriaga y residente en este pueblo, hija de Marcelo period from 1946 to 1951 marked as Exhibit "D-4". 16
Daoyan y de Hilaria Abong" was marked as Exhibit "B-1". 7
5. An official tax receipt with no. 1847878 covering taxes paid for the
3. A Deed of Sale executed on December, 1915 in favor of Juan period from 1952 to 1957 marked as Exhibit "D-5". 17
Cumayao marked as Exhibit "C". 8 Said deed of sale was in a private
instrument and covered the parcel of land described in subparagraph
no. 1, paragraph II, under the First Cause of Action. It was signed by 6. Tax Declaration No. 8635 in the name of Juan Cumayao marked as
Calixto Tavandera, Dionisio Tavandera, Teodora Tavandera, Filomena Exhibit "E". 18 Said Tax Declaration covers the parcel of land subject of
Tavandera and witnesses Herillas Civil and Antonio Enoy in favor of subparagraph 3, paragraph II, First Cause of Action. Juan Cumayo
Juan Cumayao who purchased the said parcel of land from the acquired this parcel of land by clearing the same. 19
Tavandera siblings for P20.00. The said deed of sale was about 49
years old at the time Victoriano Bingcoy testified thereon. 9
7. A document of sale in favor of Prudencio Bingcoy marked as Exhibit 12. Official Tax Receipt No. 474402 marked as Exhibit "G-6". 31 The
"F". 20 The document was executed by Gaspar Lumhod and covered the same showed that Victoriano Bingcoy paid real property taxes on the
parcel of land subject of paragraph III, First Cause of Action. It was property donated to him by Francisca Meriles.
ratified by Judge Pablo Teves and visibly affixed thereon was a partly
destroyed documentary stamp. 21 Said document was executed on 13. Official Tax Receipt No. 1847883 marked as Exhibit
October 16, 1932. 22 "G-7". 32 The same showed that Victoriano Bingcoy paid real property
taxes on the property donated to him by Francisca Meriles.
The last part thereof from the words in Spanish, "por la presenta" down
to the end of the description ending in the spanish words "32 metros", 14. Document of sale in favor of Victoriano Bingcoy marked as Exhibit
was marked as Exhibit "F-2". 23 "H". 33 Said document was executed by Nicolas Abong as vendor and in
favor of Victoriano Bingcoy as vendee, covering the parcel of land
8. Tax Declaration No. 10043 in the name of Gaspar Lumhod marked as subject of subparagraph 2, paragraph II, Second Cause of Action. The
Exhibit "F-1". 24 document bears
the thumbmarks of witnesses Segundo Ubag, Roberto Tinoy and
9. A deed of donation in favor of Victoriano Bingcoy Bingcoy marked as Filomeno Noway. 34
Exhibit "G" 25. The document was executed by Francisca Meriles and
covered the parcel of land subject of subparagraph 1, paragraph II, 15. Tax Declaration No. 4024 in the name of Victoriano Bingcoy marked
Second Cause of Action. It was executed and signed before Judge as Exhibit "H-2". 35 This tax declaration covered the parcel of land
Pablo Teves. purchased by Victoriano Bingcoy from Nicolas Abong.

The thumbmarks of Francisca Meriles and Victoriano Bingcoy were 16. Official Tax Receipt No. 872707 marked as Exhibit
marked as Exhibit "G-1". 26 "H-3". 36 The same showed that Victoriano Bingcoy paid real property
taxes on the property that he purchased from Nicolas Abong. The said
The second paragraph in the said deed of donation which states that the receipt covered the years from 1946 to 1951.
property was given in consideration of the past services of Victoriano
Bingcoy, was bracketed and marked as Exhibit "G-2". 27 17. Official Tax Receipt No. 892810 marked as Exhibit
"H-4". 37 The same showed that Victoriano Bingcoy paid real property
The third paragraph which contained the acceptance by Victoriano taxes on the property that he purchased from Nicolas Abong. The said
Bingcoy of the property subject of the deed of donation, was bracketed receipt also covered the years from 1946 to 1951.
and marked as Exhibit "G-3". 28
18. Official Tax Receipt No. 1847884 marked as Exhibit "H-5". 38 The
10. The official receipt for payment of ratification fees marked as Exhibit same showed that Victoriano Bingcoy paid real property taxes on the
"G-4". 29 The same was issued by Judge Pablo Teves in favor of property that he purchased from Nicolas Abong. The said receipt
Francisca Meriles in the amount of P3.00 which she paid for the covered the years from 1952 to 1961.
ratification fees.
19. Tax Declaration No. 3762 in the name of Victoriano Bingcoy marked
11. Tax Declaration No. 10623 in the name of Victoriano Bingcoy as Exhibit "I". 39 Said tax declaration covered the parcel of land subject
marked as Exhibit "G-5". 30 This tax declaration covers the of subparagraph 3, paragraph II, Second Cause of Action. Said parcel of
aforementioned land donated by Francisca Meriles to Victoriano land was purchased by Victoriano Bingcoy from Pascuala Bingcoy, and
Bingcoy. the transaction was covered by a document of sale which had, however,
been destroyed during the war.
The statement appearing on said tax declaration to the effect that land described under the First Cause of
Victoriano Bingcoy paid real property tax in the amount of P10.00, was Action in the complaint as follows:
marked as Exhibit "I-1". 40
1. Bounded on the
On May 11, 1967, counsel for petitioners cross-examined North by Potenciana
Victoriano Bingcoy who was expectedly queried on the various Tavandera — 32.00 m;
documents that he had testified to during the direct examination. on the East by Narciso
Lumhod — 30.00 m;
On December 6, 1983, private respondents' counsel submitted on the South by
a Memorandum of Exhibits and Formal Offer of Evidence for the Pangas — 28.00 m;
Plaintiffs 41. The same included all the aforementioned and on the West by
documents testified to by Victoriano Bingcoy during his direct Valentin Igsi — 40.00
and cross examinations. m; declared in the
name of Juan
Cumayao under Tax
On May 16, 1987, the entire records of this case, including all
Declaration No. 2621,
the above-enumerated documents marked and testified to by
assessed at P20.00 for
Victoriano Bingcoy during his direct and cross examination,
were lost when a fire destroyed the Perdices Coliseum which
then housed the court a quo. 42 Accordingly, the trial court
ordered the reconstruction of the records based on the 2. Bounded on the
pleadings to be furnished by the contending parties or their North by Juan
respective lawyers. Cumayao (now
Victoriano Bingcoy) —
59.00; on the East by
On April 19, 1989, trial resumed. Subsequent hearings were
Agapito Morano —
also held on June 5, and 19, 1989 and on July 14, 1989.
33.00 m; on the South
by Gaspar Lumhod —
On July 25, 1991, the trial court rendered judgment 43 in favor of 59.00 m; on the West
private respondents. Finding sufficient evidence on record by Bartolome Dagooc
proving that ownership over the subject parcels of land was — 33.00 m; declared in
vested in private respondents as prior possessors in good faith the name of Agustin
in the concept of owner and as illegitimate heirs of Juan Bingcoy under Tax
Cumayao, the trial court ordered the following in the dispositive 3840, assessed at
portion of its decision: P60.00 for taxation.

WHEREFORE, all the foregoing considered, judgment 3. Bounded on the

is hereby rendered in favor of the plaintiffs and against North by Vicente N.
the defendants: Antes Damiano Linguis
— 48.00 m; on the
(a) Declaring plaintiffs Victoriano East by Lucio Dagoy,
Bingcoy and Agustin Bingcoy the real Vicente N. and Aniceta
and absolute owners of the parcels of Lingcong — 72.00 m;
on the South by Sayre — 91.00 m; on
Marcelina Cumayao the South by Placida
antes Magdalino Sayre Dagooc 27.00 m; and
— 48 m; and on the on the West by
West by Joaquin Francisco Morales and
Cumayao, Victoriano y Sotero Dagooc —
Eustaquio Jaro y 87.00 m; Declared
Gabriel Abequibil — under Tax No. 10623,
110.00 m. Declared in assessed at P120.00
the name of Juan for taxation.
Cumayao under Tax
Decl. No. 8635, 2. Bounded on the
assessed at P30.00 for North by Mauro
taxation. Tinagan — 20.00 m;
on the East by Felipe
4. Bounded on the Nuay — 23.00 m; on
North by Agapito the South by Narciso
Morano Antes Lumhod — 21.00 m;
Valentino Lumhod — and on the West by
106.00 m.; on the East Gaspar Lumhod —
by Donato Lumhod — 21.00 m; declared
32.00 m; on the South under Tax Decl. No.
by Maria Asuncion 4024, assessed at
antes Paulino Lumhod P50.00 for taxation.
— 106.00 m; and on
the West by Moises 3. Bounded on the
Cumayao 0 32.00 m; North by Rufino Buling
Declared under Tax — 5.00 m; on the East
Decl. No. 10043, by Agapito Morano
assessed at P30.00 for 20.00 m; on the South
taxation. by Gaspar Lumhod —
5.00 m; and on the
(b) Declaring Victoriano Bingcoy the West by the Provincial
true and absolute owner of the Road 20.00 m;
following three parcels of land as declared under Tax
described in the Complaint under the 3762, assessed at
Second Cause of Action; as P10.00 for taxation.

1. Bounded on the (c) Declaring Agustin Bingcoy the true

North by Magdalina and absolute owner of the parcel of
Sayre — 52.00m; on land described in the Third Cause of
the East by Pedro Action of the Complaint as follows:
Bounded on the North 2. If illegitimate, to what class do they belong? Are they
by Agustin Bingcoy — natural children proper, or spurious children of Juan
48.00 m; on the East Cumayao and Claudia Bingcoy?
by Agapito Morano —
74.00 m; on the South 3. If plaintiffs-appellees are the natural children of Juan
by Leon Sayre — Cumayao, are they as such acknowledged natural
62.00 m; and on the children?
West by Victoriano
Bingcoy — 44.00 m; 4. Are unrecognized natural children entitled to
declared under Tax successional rights both under the Old, and in the New,
Decl. No. 6350, Civil Code?
assessed at P90.00 for
5. Is it correct for the trial court to consider documentary
exhibits which are not formally offered in evidence? 45
(d) Ordering the defendants to deliver
and restore possession of all the
parcels of land described in paragraphs and insisted that the trial court erred:
(a), (b) and (c) of the dispositive part of
this Decision to the plaintiffs; 1. In declaring that plaintiffs-appellees are the
illegitimate children of Juan Cumayao and Claudia
(e) Condemning the defendants to pay Bingcoy;
the plaintiffs jointly and severally the
amount P410.00 (under the First Cause 2. Assuming arguendo that plaintiffs-appellees are
of Action), the amount of P44.00 illegitimate children of Juan Cumayao and Claudia
(Second Cause of Action) and the Bingcoy, in granting successional rights to plaintiffs-
amount of P180.00 (under the Third appellees;
Cause of Action) a year starting from
1952 under possession of all the 3. In considering documentary exhibits which are not
aforesaid parcels of land have been formally offered in evidence as evidence;
delivered and restored to the plaintiffs.
4. In concluding that appellants failed to rebut
Costs against the defendants. 44 appellees' allegation of use of force and intimidation in
July, 1948 to oust appellees from the lands in question;
Unable to agree with the decision of the trial court, petitioners and,
appealed therefrom to the Court of Appeals. They raised the
following issues: 5. In not dismissing the complaint and adjudicating the
properties in question to appellants. 46
1. What is the status of plaintiffs-appellees? Are they
legitimate, or illegitimate, children of Juan Cumayao and On June 10, 1994, the respondent Court of Appeals rendered
Claudia Bingcoy? its Decision affirming the ownership of private respondents over
the parcels of land subject of the first and second causes of
action in their Complaint before the trial court, while basing such
affirmance not on private respondents' right as heirs of Juan knew Juan Cumayao and Claudia Bingcoy to be the
Cumayao but on their right as prior possessors in good faith parents of herein appellees . . .; that he knew appellees
under the law on acquisitive prescription. since they were born as he was their neighbor at
Bongkong, Valencia . . . While it has been established
The respondent appellate court, however, reversed the court a that Juan Cumayao beget herein appellees, the fact that
quo respecting the parcel of land subject of the third cause of he died single proves that he had children without
action. The same was adjudged the property of petitioners as having been married. In the absence of clear evidence
surviving heirs of Juan Cumayao. to show that appellees' parents were married the
conclusion is inevitable that appellees were born out of
The disquisition of respondent Court of Appeals on its own
findings in answer to the issues raised on appeal by the
petitioners and in refutation of the assigned errors in petitioners' Appellees' explanation . . . that it was their grandmother
Brief on appeal, is as follows: who opted for them to use the surname Bingcoy . . . is
totally incongruent with public customs and morals and
human experience. No natural mother and for matter, a
. . . [A]fter a painstaking examination of the evidence
grandmother, under Filipino tradition, would allow a
presented by the parties, We find:
child not to use the surname of his father if he were
really legitimate, considering the stigma that would
As to the 1st and 2nd assigned errors — The first necessarily attach to a child who is not allowed to use
question is: Did the trial court commit a reversible error the surname of his own father. . . .
in ruling that appellees are illegitimate children of Juan
There are no other evidence to sustain appellants' claim
that their parents were in fact married to controvert the
The presumption that a child was born is legitimate as statement in the death certificate that Juan Cumayao
provided for in Article 220 of the New Civil Code is died single. Appellees have not established by sufficient
overcome by the death certificate issued by the OIC evidence the fact of marriage between their parents.
Local Civil Registrar of the Municipality of Valencia, Neither is there any evidence showing that both parents
Province of Negros Oriental where it appears that Juan of appellees have no legal impediment to marry.
Cumayao died single on July 17, 1926 . . . . It is a well-
settled rule that a death certificate, if duly registered
Thus . . . [w]e agree with the ruling of the trial court that
with the Civil Registrar, is considered a public document
appellees are illegitimate children of Juan Cumayao.
and the entries found therein are presumed correct
(Stronghold Insurance Co., Inc. vs. Court of Appeals,
May 29, 1989; 173 SCRA 620); Said presumption is Such being the case, the next question to be resolved
merely disputable and will have to yield to more positive is: Not being legitimate, are appellees entitled to inherit
evidence establishing their inaccuracy . . . . from their father, Juan Cumayao?

Appellee's evidence on this matter is neither positive The Supreme Court sheds light on this matter in Castro
nor convincing. Aside from the testimony of appellee vs. Court of Appeals (173 SCRA 656, 662 to 663):
Victoriano Bingcoy, they presented a witness by the
name of Pedro Milan who was 76 years old at the time Under the Civil Code, whether new or
he testified. He averred on the witness stand that he old, illegitimate children . . . were
generally classified into two groups: (1) Article 136 of the same Code provide
Natural, whether actual or by fiction, for the compulsory acknowledgment by
were those born outside of lawful the father and mother respectively.
wedlock of parents who, at the time of
conception of the child, were not Article 131 of the old Civil Code states
disqualified by any impediment to marry that the acknowledgment of a natural
each other . . . and (2) Spurious, child must be made in the record of
whether incestuous, adulterous or illicit, birth, in a will or in some other public
were those born of parents who, at the document.
time of conception, were disqualified to
marry each other on account of certain Naturally, and understandably so, plaintiffs-appellees
legal impediments. did not present any evidence that they have been
acknowledged by Juan Cumayao by reason of their
xxx xxx xxx original stand that they are legitimate children of Juan
Cumayao. There being no proof that appellees were
Under the Civil Code, for an illegitimate acknowledged by Juan Cumayao as his illegitimate
child other than natural to inherit, she children, appellees could not therefore legally inherit
must first be recognized voluntarily or from the estate of the deceased Juan Cumayao.
by court action. . . . This arises from the
legal principle that an unrecognized If appellees are not entitled to inherit from Juan
spurious child like a natural child has Cumayao, have they acquired ownership over the
no rights from her parents or to their parcels of land in question? As to the four (4) parcels of
estate because her rights spring not land under the First Cause of Action, Pedro Milan (TSN,
from the filiation or blood relationship September 1, 1964) and Victoriano Bingcoy (TSN,
but from the child's acknowledgment by Hearings of September 1, 1964 and July 25, 1966)
the parent . . . . In other words, the testified that appellees took possession of the parcels of
rights of an illegitimate child arose not land left by Juan Cumayao after his death on July 26,
because she was the true and real 1926, peacefully, continuously, adversely, openly and in
child of her parents but because under the concept of owners up to 1948, or for a period
the law, she has been recognized or of twenty two years, by introducing improvements
acknowledged as such a child. thereon like abaca plants and coconut trees, harvesting
fruits thereof, declaring the same for taxation purposes .
xxx xxx xxx . . and paying the corresponding realty taxes therefor.
We find no evidence on the part of defendants-
Under the Civil Code, there are two appellants controverting the same.
kinds of acknowledgment — voluntary
or compulsory.The provisions on Under Section 41 of the Code of Civil Procedure, Act
acknowledgment are applied to natural No. 190, to wit:
as well as spurious children . . . . Article
131 of the old Civil Code provides for Sec. 41. Title to land by prescription. —
voluntary acknowledgment by the Ten years actual adverse possession
father or mother, while Article 135 and by any person claiming to be the owner
for that time of any land or interest in testimony sustains the findings of the trial court in favor
land, uninterruptedly continued for ten of appellees. It cannot be over-emphasized that
years by occupancy, descent, grants, appellants did not present any evidence to controvert
or otherwise, in whatever way such the testimony of appellee Victoriano on this matter.
occupancy may have commenced or
continued, shall vest in every actual The possession of the three (3) parcels of land by
occupant or possessor of such land a appellee Victoriano under the Second Cause of Action
full and complete title . . . . was acquired not through inheritance from Juan
Cumayao but by donation in case of the first parcel of
It is not disputed that appellants have been in land covered by a document duly executed and
possession, as stated above, for 22 years in the thumbmarked by both donor Francisca Meriles and
concept of owners. Consequently, appellants' claim donee Victoriano . . . that had been lost in the fire; by
over the parcels of land in question have already purchase from Nicolas Abong in the case of the second
prescribed. The trial court did not commit any error in parcel of land and covered by a document . . . and by
awarding said parcels of land (under the First Cause of purchase from Pascuala Bingcoy in case of the third
Action) to herein appellees. parcel of land, the document evidencing the same
having been destroyed during the war but with tax
As to the third assigned error . . . [c]onsidering that declaration in the name of appellee Victoriano . . . and
appellants' counsel had cross-examined appellees' payment of taxes therefor . . . together with the tax
witnesses despite the failure of counsel for appellees to declaration . . . and payments of realty taxes . . . which
offer their testimonies when they were called to testify, were gutted by fire except Exh. "G-4" which is an official
appellants are deemed to have waived their right to receipt for ratification fee. As already stated, there is no
object to the admissibility of the testimonies. . . . evidence presented by appellants controverting the
above testimony of appellee Victoriano Bingcoy.
Appellants failed to establish that they have better rights
There is merit to appellants' claim that only Exhibits "E",
to the parcels of land subject matter of the Second
"F-1", "G-4", and "I" should be considered by the court
Cause of Action.
in rendering the decision, as the rest of the exhibits for
appellees were withdrawn by their counsel (Order dated
April 9, 1989). With respect to the parcel of land under the Third Cause
Action . . . We find no evidence to sustain the finding of
However, in the interest of substantial justice and for
the trial court that said land was given to appellee Juan
equitable reasons considering that it is not disputed that
Cumayao. No document was ever presented in court to
the Perdicas Coliseum housing the court was burned
prove the donation; and the realty taxes paid by
last May 14, 1987 and the entire records of the case
appellee Agustin on said land started only in 1951,
were lost including the documents marked as Exhibits
three years after appellees were ousted from the land in
"G", "G-1" to "G-7", "H", "H-1" to "H-5" and "I",
1948. Considering that said parcel of land undisputedly
described in the reconstituted "Memorandum of Exhibits
belonged to Juan Cumayao, its ownership passed by
and Formal Offer of Evidence for the Plaintiffs" . . . said
inheritance to his heirs upon his death. And appellees
descriptions of the burned documents may be
not being entitled to inheritance as earlier discussed,
considered and taken together as part of the positive
the parcel of land properly pertains to herein appellants
and convincing testimony of appellee Victoriano
who are the surviving heirs of said decedent. We find no
Bingcoy (TSN, Hearing of July 25, 1977) which
evidence that entitles appellee Agustin to acquisitive of land described in the Third Cause of
prescription under the Old Civil Code or Code of Civil Action of the Complaint as follows:
Bounded on the North
As to the fourth assigned error: The testimonies of Milan by Agustin Bingcoy —
and Victoriano Bingcoy establish the fact that appellees 48.00 m; on the East
forcibly entered the parcels of land in question and by Agapito Morano —
ousted appellees therefrom by threatening Victoriano's 74.00 m; on the South
life with a gun . . . . They were not controverted by the by Leon Sayre —
evidence of appellants. Neither Ricardo Genel nor 62.00 m; and on the
Felisa Lumhod, witnesses for appellants, denied the west by Victoriano
aforesaid testimonies . . . . The trial court did not commit Bingcoy — 44.00 m;
any error in finding that appellees were forcibly declared under Tax
dispossessed by appellants in 1948. We have Decl. No. 6350,
meticulously read the testimonies of appellants' assessed at P90.00 for
witnesses . . . and not one of them disclaimed the acts taxation.
of dispossession committed by appellant against
appellees ousting the latter from the parcels of land in (d) Ordering, plaintiff Agustin Bingcoy
question. to deliver and restore possession of the
parcel of land described in paragraph
xxx xxx xxx (c) of herein dispositive part of the
Decision to defendants;
As to the fifth assigned error, the Fourth Amended
Complaint of appellees should be dismissed with (e) Ordering defendants to deliver and
respect only to the Third Cause of Action, for reasons restore possession of all the parcels of
already discussed above. 47 land described in paragraphs (a) and
(b) of the dispositive part of this
Pursuant to the above postulations, the respondent appellate Decision to the plaintiffs;
court modified the decretal portion of the court a quo's decision
insofar as the parcel of land subject of the Third Cause of Action (f) Condemning the defendants to pay
is concerned. The modification runs in this wise: the plaintiffs, jointly and severally the
amount of P410.00 (under the First
WHEREFORE, the appealed judgment is hereby Cause of Action); and the amount of
MODIFIED to the effect that the dispositive portion P44.00 (under the Second Cause of
should read as follows: Action) a year starting from 1952 until
possession of all the aforesaid parcels
of land have been delivered and
xxx xxx xxx
restored to the plaintiffs.
(c) Declaring Pedro Bingcoy, et al. the
true and absolute owners of the parcel
Still not contented with the ruling of the respondent Court of (2) May the trial court and the respondent Court of Appeals
Appeals which partly found their claims of ownership as heirs of consider as basis for their decisions, documents that had been
Juan Cumayao, to be meritorious, although only insofar as the formally offered but were lost by fire and are thus no longer
parcel of land under the Third Cause of Action is concerned, available for physical scrutiny but are adequately described in
petitioners submit that the respondent appellate court the direct testimony of the premiere witness in the case who
committed grave abuse of discretion when it affirmed the trial was also cross-examined by the opposing party as regards the
court's award to private respondents of the parcels of land same documents?
covered under the First and Second Causes of Action. They
have assigned the following errors: Petitioners furiously take the negative side of both these issues,
but they utterly fail to persuade us, as we instead believe that
(1) On its own, the Honorable Court of Appeals shifted, the trial court and the respondent Court of Appeals were correct
or changed, the theory of the case and the issues in their findings and conclusions.
litigated by the parties in Civil Case No. 2728;
First. Petitioners insist that in order for private respondents to be
(2) Assuming arguendo that only the emphasis in the qualified to become owners of the parcels of land under the first
aspect of the case is changed, or altered, private and second causes of action in accordance with our laws on
respondents' claim over the parcels of land (described acquisitive prescription, they should first have been entitled to
in their First Cause of Action) is based on "TITULO the same parcels of land through succession because absent
PUTATIVO" and, as such, said claim ought to have "successional rights from their deceased parents, private
been rejected; respondents have NO MODE of acquiring ownership over said
properties and their possession, if any, over said
(3) The Honorable Court of Appeals considered properties . . . could not ripen into ownership by
documentary evidence which were not formally re- prescription" 50 (emphasis theirs).
offered in evidence below, or were withdraw, by private
respondents; and, Petitioners' theory is absolutely erroneous. It only takes a
cursory glance at Book III of the Civil Code of the Philippines to
(4) There is no harmony in the findings of fact in the expose the ridiculousness of this contention. Book III is entitled,
Decision "Different Modes of Acquiring Ownership" and notably, Title V
of the Court of Appeals such that it committed grave thereunder is denominated, "Prescription". Needless to say,
misapprehension of facts. 49 acquisitive prescription is in itself a mode of acquiring ownership
over a parcel of land and does not require, as petitioners
asseverate, successional or inheritance rights, in order to
There is no merit to the instant petition.
"ripen" into ownership.
There are two primary issues that need to be definitively
Significantly, there is nothing on the record that discloses even
resolved in this case:
an attempt by petitioners to rebut the evidence of private
respondents as to their peaceful, continuous, adverse, and
(1) May private respondents obtain ownership by acquisitive open possession in the concept of owner over the parcels of
prescription over the parcels of land described under the first land in question from July 26, 1926 until 1948 or for twenty two
and second causes of action although they, as unrecognized (22) years. Under the applicable law at that time, which was
illegitimate children, have no inheritance rights thereto? Section 41 of the Code of Civil Procedure, Act No. 190, "ten
years of actual adverse possession by any person claiming to
be the owner for that time of any land or interest in land, We have carefully reviewed the records of the case and are
uninterruptedly continued for ten years by . . . whatever way convinced that the technical withdrawal of the documents in
such occupancy may have commenced or continued, shall vest question, upon the insistent clamor of petitioners, does not
in every actual occupant or possessor of such land a full and operate to render nugatory the testimonial evidence attesting to
complete title". Clearly, therefore, private respondents have the tenor and contents of the said documents. Neither does
become owners, by acquisitive prescription, of the parcels of such a technicality work to justify the erosion, denial or
land described in the first and second causes of action. annihilation of the truths undisputedly established by the
questioned documents. The trial court and respondent Court of
Petitioners' resort to a baseless legal argument, however, is Appeals are courts of law and justice. It would be a gross
understandable. They had never been armed with the evidence subversion of their nature as such were they, in full awareness
needed to prove their ownership of the subject parcels of land, of the questioned documentary evidence proffered and marked
and they even enhanced and confirmed private respondents' during the hearings, affirmatively identified and unhamperedly
prior possession of the subject properties when their witnesses, testified to by the main witness in the case and undoubtedly
namely, Ricardo Genel, Feliciano Cumayao, and Corazon formally offered by private respondents before the trial court, to
Dagoy, failed to deny the acts of dispossession committed by consciously choose to sacrifice legalism for substantial justice.
petitioners against private respondents in that fateful year of
1948. WHEREFORE, the instant petition is HEREBY DISMISSED for
lack of merit.
Second. It must have been stakingly obvious that the narration
of the documents testified upon by private respondent Costs against petitioners.
Victoriano Bingcoy during the trial in September, 1964 and its
continuation in July, 1966, in the first part of this ponencia, but SO ORDERED.
which documents were lost to a courthouse fire in 1987, was not
without a pre-determined purpose. That earlier narration Republic of the Philippines
deliberately enumerated and meticulously described each SUPREME COURT
document in order to show that although said documents have Manila
no physical existence now, they were exhaustively testified
upon, in the course of both direct and cross-examinations, and
were properly offered in evidence by private respondents in SECOND DIVISION
open court, such that the trial court and the respondent
appellate court could not, without committing procedural error G.R. No. 155733 January 27, 2006
and grave injustice, ignore their contents and their over-all
import in rendering judgment. IN THE MATTER OF THE INTESTATE ESTATES OF THE
Petitioners especially attack the inclusion of said documents by CARLOTA DELGADO VDA. DE DE LA ROSA and other HEIRS OF
the trial court and the respondent Court of Appeals in their LUIS DELGADO, namely, HEIRS OF CONCHA VDA. DE AREVALO,
appreciation of the evidence in the instant controversy, because HEIRS OF LUISA DELGADO VDA. DE DANAO, ANGELA DELGADO
said documents have allegedly been withdrawn by private ARESPACOCHAGA, TERESA DELGADO PERLAS, CAROLINA
respondents at the behest of the petitioners. We can only DELGADO-ARESPACOCHAGA, RODOLFO DELGADO, BENJAMIN
surmise, however, that petitioners, by so contending with DELGADO, GLICERIA DELGADO and CLEOFAS DELGADO; and
apparent desperation, are simply running out of tenable HEIRS OF GORGONIO DELGADO, namely, RAMON DELGADO
CAMPO-REIZA, YOLANDA DELGADO ENCINAS, FELISA DELGADO The deceased Josefa Delgado was the daughter of Felisa11 Delgado by
CAMPO-ENCINAS and MELINDA DELGADO CAMPO- one Lucio Campo. Aside from Josefa, five other children were born to
MADARANG, Petitioners, the couple, namely, Nazario, Edilberta, Jose, Jacoba, and Gorgonio, all
vs. surnamed Delgado. Felisa Delgado was never married to Lucio Campo,
HEIRS OF MARCIANA RUSTIA VDA. DE DAMIAN, namely, hence, Josefa and her full-blood siblings were all natural children of
HORACIO R. CRUZ, JOSEFINA CRUZ-RODIL, AMELIA CRUZ- However, Lucio Campo was not the first and only man in Felisa
ENRIQUEZ and FIDEL R. CRUZ, JR.; HEIRS OF ROMAN RUSTIA, Delgado’s life. Before him was Ramon Osorio12 with whom Felisa had a
SR., namely, JOSEFINA RUSTIA ALBANO, VIRGINIA RUSTIA son, Luis Delgado. But, unlike her relationship with Lucio Campo which
PARAISO, ROMAN RUSTIA, JR., SERGIO RUSTIA, FRANCISCO was admittedly one without the benefit of marriage, the legal status of
RUSTIA, LETICIA RUSTIA-MIRANDA; and GUILLERMINA RUSTIA, Ramon Osorio’s and Felisa Delgado’s union is in dispute.
as Oppositors; 1 and GUILLERMA RUSTIA, as
Intervenor, 2 Respondents.3 The question of whether Felisa Delgado and Ramon Osorio ever got
married is crucial to the claimants because the answer will determine
DECISION whether their successional rights fall within the ambit of the rule against
reciprocal intestate succession between legitimate and illegitimate
CORONA, J.: relatives.13 If Ramon Osorio and Felisa Delgado had been validly
married, then their only child Luis Delgado was a legitimate half-blood
In this petition for review on certiorari, petitioners seek to reinstate the brother of Josefa Delgado and therefore excluded from the latter’s
May 11, 1990 decision of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Manila, intestate estate. He and his heirs would be barred by the principle of
Branch 55,4 in SP Case No. 97668, which was reversed and set aside absolute separation between the legitimate and illegitimate families.
by the Court of Appeals in its decision5 dated October 24, 2002. Conversely, if the couple were never married, Luis Delgado and his
heirs would be entitled to inherit from Josefa Delgado’s intestate estate,
as they would all be within the illegitimate line.

Petitioners allege that Ramon Osorio and Felisa Delgado were never
This case concerns the settlement of the intestate estates of Guillermo
married. In support thereof, they assert that no evidence was ever
Rustia and Josefa Delgado.6 The main issue in this case is relatively
presented to establish it, not even so much as an allegation of the date
simple: who, between petitioners and respondents, are the lawful heirs
or place of the alleged marriage. What is clear, however, is that Felisa
of the decedents. However, it is attended by several collateral issues
retained the surname Delgado. So did Luis, her son with Ramon Osorio.
that complicate its resolution.
Later on, when Luis got married, his Partida de Casamiento14 stated that
he was "hijo natural de Felisa Delgado" (the natural child of Felisa
The claimants to the estates of Guillermo Rustia and Josefa Delgado Delgado),15 significantly omitting any mention of the name and other
may be divided into two groups: (1) the alleged heirs of Josefa Delgado, circumstances of his father.16 Nevertheless, oppositors (now
consisting of her half- and full-blood siblings, nephews and nieces, and respondents) insist that the absence of a record of the alleged marriage
grandnephews and grandnieces, and (2) the alleged heirs of Guillermo did not necessarily mean that no marriage ever took place.
Rustia, particularly, his sisters,7 his nephews and nieces,8 his illegitimate
child,9 and the de facto adopted child10 (ampun-ampunan) of the
Josefa Delgado died on September 8, 1972 without a will. She was
survived by Guillermo Rustia and some collateral relatives, the
petitioners herein. Several months later, on June 15, 1973, Guillermo
The alleged heirs of Josefa Delgado Rustia executed an affidavit of self-
adjudication of the remaining properties comprising her estate. The alleged heirs of Guillermo Rustia

The marriage of Guillermo Rustia and Josefa Delgado Guillermo Rustia and Josefa Delgado never had any children. With no
children of their own, they took into their home the youngsters
Sometime in 1917, Guillermo Rustia proposed marriage to Josefa Guillermina Rustia Rustia and Nanie Rustia. These children, never
Delgado17 but whether a marriage in fact took place is disputed. legally adopted by the couple, were what was known in the local dialect
According to petitioners, the two eventually lived together as husband asampun-ampunan.
and wife but were never married. To prove their assertion, petitioners
point out that no record of the contested marriage existed in the civil During his life with Josefa, however, Guillermo Rustia did manage to
registry. Moreover, a baptismal certificate naming Josefa Delgado as father an illegitimate child,19 the intervenor-respondent Guillerma Rustia,
one of the sponsors referred to her as "Señorita" or unmarried woman. with one Amparo Sagarbarria. According to Guillerma, Guillermo Rustia
treated her as his daughter, his own flesh and blood, and she enjoyed
The oppositors (respondents here), on the other hand, insist that the open and continuous possession of that status from her birth in 1920
absence of a marriage certificate did not of necessity mean that no until her father’s demise. In fact, Josefa Delgado’s obituary which was
marriage transpired. They maintain that Guillermo Rustia and Josefa prepared by Guillermo Rustia, named the intervenor-respondent as one
Delgado were married on June 3, 1919 and from then on lived together of their children. Also, her report card from the University of Santo
as husband and wife until the death of Josefa on September 8, 1972. Tomas identified Guillermo Rustia as her parent/guardian.20
During this period spanning more than half a century, they were known
among their relatives and friends to have in fact been married. To Oppositors (respondents here) nonetheless posit that Guillerma Rustia
support their proposition, oppositors presented the following pieces of has no interest in the intestate estate of Guillermo Rustia as she was
evidence: never duly acknowledged as an illegitimate child. They contend that her
right to compulsory acknowledgement prescribed when Guillermo died
1. Certificate of Identity No. 9592 dated [December 1, 1944] in 1974 and that she cannot claim voluntary acknowledgement since the
issued to Mrs. Guillermo J. Rustia by Carlos P. Romulo, then documents she presented were not the authentic writings prescribed by
Resident Commissioner to the United States of the the new Civil Code.21
Commonwealth of the Philippines;
On January 7, 1974, more than a year after the death of Josefa
2. Philippine Passport No. 4767 issued to Josefa D. Rustia on Delgado, Guillermo Rustia filed a petition for the adoption22 of
June 25, 1947; their ampun-ampunan Guillermina Rustia. He stated under oath "[t]hat
he ha[d] no legitimate, legitimated, acknowledged natural children or
natural children by legal fiction."23 The petition was overtaken by his
3. Veterans Application for Pension or Compensation for
death on February 28, 1974.
Disability Resulting from Service in the Active Military or Naval
Forces of the United States- Claim No. C-4, 004, 503 (VA Form
526) filed with the Veterans Administration of the United States Like Josefa Delgado, Guillermo Rustia died without a will. He was
of America by Dr. Guillermo J. Rustia wherein Dr. Guillermo J. survived by his sisters Marciana Rustia vda. de Damian and Hortencia
Rustia himself [swore] to his marriage to Josefa Delgado in Rustia-Cruz, and by the children of his predeceased brother Roman
Manila on 3 June 1919;18 Rustia Sr., namely, Josefina Rustia Albano, Virginia Rustia Paraiso,
Roman Rustia, Jr., Sergio Rustia, Francisco Rustia and Leticia Rustia
4. Titles to real properties in the name of Guillermo Rustia
indicated that he was married to Josefa Delgado.
On May 8, 1975, Luisa Delgado vda. de Danao, the daughter of Luis among themselves in accordance with the proportions referred to in this
Delgado, filed the original petition for letters of administration of the Decision.
intestate estates of the "spouses Josefa Delgado and Guillermo Rustia"
with the RTC of Manila, Branch 55.25 This petition was opposed by the Similarly, the intervenor Guillerma S. Rustia is hereby declared as the
following: (1) the sisters of Guillermo Rustia, namely, Marciana sole and only surviving heir of the late Dr. Guillermo Rustia, and thus,
Rustia vda. de Damian and Hortencia Rustia-Cruz;26 (2) the heirs of entitled to the entire estate of the said decedent, to the exclusion of the
Guillermo Rustia’s late brother, Roman Rustia, Sr., and (3) the ampun- oppositors and the other parties hereto.
ampunan Guillermina Rustia Rustia. The opposition was grounded on
the theory that Luisa Delgado vda. de Danao and the other claimants The Affidavit of Self-Adjudication of the estate of Josefa Delgado
were barred under the law from inheriting from their illegitimate half- executed by the late Guillermo J. Rustia on June 15, 1973 is hereby
blood relative Josefa Delgado. SET ASIDE and declared of no force and effect.

In November of 1975, Guillerma Rustia filed a motion to intervene in the As the estates of both dece[d]ents have not as yet been settled, and
proceedings, claiming she was the only surviving descendant in the their settlement [is] considered consolidated in this proceeding in
direct line of Guillermo Rustia. Despite the objections of the oppositors accordance with law, a single administrator therefor is both proper and
(respondents herein), the motion was granted. necessary, and, as the petitioner Carlota Delgado Vda. de dela Rosa
has established her right to the appointment as administratrix of the
On April 3, 1978, the original petition for letters of administration was estates, the Court hereby APPOINTS her as the ADMINISTRATRIX of
amended to state that Josefa Delgado and Guillermo Rustia the intestate estate of the decedent JOSEFA DELGADO in relation to
were nevermarried but had merely lived together as husband and wife. the estate of DR. GUILLERMO J. RUSTIA.

On January 24, 1980, oppositors (respondents herein) filed a motion to Accordingly, let the corresponding LETTERS OF ADMINISTRATION
dismiss the petition in the RTC insofar as the estate of Guillermo Rustia issue to the petitioner CARLOTA DELGADO VDA. DE DE LA ROSA
was concerned. The motion was denied on the ground that the interests upon her filing of the requisite bond in the sum of FIVE HUNDRED
of the petitioners and the other claimants remained in issue and should THOUSAND PESOS (P500,000.00).
be properly threshed out upon submission of evidence.
Finally, oppositor GUILLERMINA RUSTIA RUSTIA is hereby ordered to
On March 14, 1988, Carlota Delgado vda. de de la Rosa substituted for cease and desist from her acts of administration of the subject estates,
her sister, Luisa Delgado vda. de Danao, who had died on May 18, and is likewise ordered to turn over to the appointed administratix all her
1987. collections of the rentals and income due on the assets of the estates in
question, including all documents, papers, records and titles pertaining
On May 11, 1990, the RTC appointed Carlota Delgado vda. de de la to such estates to the petitioner and appointed administratix CARLOTA
Rosa as administratrix of both estates.27 The dispositive portion of the DELGADO VDA. DE DE LA ROSA, immediately upon receipt of this
decision read: Decision. The same oppositor is hereby required to render an
accounting of her actual administration of the estates in controversy
WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing, petitioner and her co- within a period of sixty (60) days from receipt hereof.
claimants to the estate of the late Josefa Delgado listed in the Petitions,
and enumerated elsewhere in this Decision, are hereby declared as the SO ORDERED.28
only legal heirs of the said Josefa Delgado who died intestate in the City
of Manila on September 8, 1972, and entitled to partition the same On May 20, 1990, oppositors filed an appeal which was denied on the
ground that the record on appeal was not filed on time. 29 They then filed
a petition for certiorari and mandamus30 which was dismissed by the respondents’ Record on Appeal and the CONTINUANCE of the appeal
Court of Appeals.31 However, on motion for reconsideration and after from the Manila, Branch LV Regional Trial Court’s May 11, 1990
hearing the parties’ oral arguments, the Court of Appeals reversed itself decision.
and gave due course to oppositors’ appeal in the interest of substantial
justice.32 SO ORDERED.

In a petition for review to this Court, petitioners assailed the resolution of Acting on the appeal, the Court of Appeals34 partially set aside the trial
the Court of Appeals, on the ground that oppositors’ failure to file the court’s decision. Upon motion for reconsideration,35 the Court of Appeals
record on appeal within the reglementary period was a jurisdictional amended its earlier decision.36 The dispositive portion of the amended
defect which nullified the appeal. On October 10, 1997, this Court decision read:
allowed the continuance of the appeal. The pertinent portion of our
decision33 read: With the further modification, our assailed decision
is RECONSIDERED and VACATED. Consequently, the decision of the
As a rule, periods prescribed to do certain acts must be followed. trial court isREVERSED and SET ASIDE. A new one is
However, under exceptional circumstances, a delay in the filing of an hereby RENDERED declaring: 1.) Dr. Guillermo Rustia and Josefa
appeal may be excused on grounds of substantial justice. Delgado Rustia to have been legally married; 2.) the intestate estate of
Dr. Guillermo Rustia, Jacoba Delgado-Encinas and the children of
xxx xxx xxx Gorgonio Delgado (Campo) entitled to partition among themselves the
intestate estate of Josefa D. Rustia in accordance with the proportion
The respondent court likewise pointed out the trial court’s referred to in this decision; 3.) the oppositors-appellants as the legal
pronouncements as to certain matters of substance, relating to the heirs of the late Dr. Guillermo Rustia and thereby entitled to partition his
determination of the heirs of the decedents and the party entitled to the estate in accordance with the proportion referred to herein; and 4.) the
administration of their estate, which were to be raised in the appeal, but intervenor-appellee Guillerma S. Rustia as ineligible to inherit from the
were barred absolutely by the denial of the record on appeal upon too late Dr. Guillermo Rustia; thus revoking her appointment as
technical ground of late filing. administratrix of his estate.

xxx xxx xxx The letters of administration of the intestate estate of Dr. Guillermo
Rustia in relation to the intestate estate of Josefa Delgado shall issue to
the nominee of the oppositors-appellants upon his or her qualification
In this instance, private respondents’ intention to raise valid issues in the
and filing of the requisite bond in the sum of FIVE HUNDRED
appeal is apparent and should not have been construed as an attempt
THOUSAND PESOS (P500,000.00).
to delay or prolong the administration proceedings.

Oppositor-appellant Guillermina Rustia Rustia is hereby ordered to

xxx xxx xxx
cease and desist from her acts of administration of the subject estates
and to turn over to the appointed administrator all her collections of the
A review of the trial court’s decision is needed. rentals and incomes due on the assets of the estates in question,
including all documents, papers, records and titles pertaining to such
xxx xxx xxx estates to the appointed administrator, immediately upon notice of his
qualification and posting of the requisite bond, and to render an
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing considerations, the Court accounting of her (Guillermina Rustia Rustia) actual administration of
hereby AFFIRMS the Resolution dated November 27, 1991 of the Court the estates in controversy within a period of sixty (60) days from notice
of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 23415, for the APPROVAL of the private of the administrator’s qualification and posting of the bond.
The issue of the validity of the affidavit of self-adjudication executed by In this case, several circumstances give rise to the presumption that a
Dr. Guillermo Rustia on June 15, 1973 is REMANDED to the trial court valid marriage existed between Guillermo Rustia and Josefa Delgado.
for further proceedings to determine the extent of the shares of Jacoba Their cohabitation of more than 50 years cannot be doubted. Their
Delgado-Encinas and the children of Gorgonio Delgado (Campo) family and friends knew them to be married. Their reputed status as
affected by the said adjudication. husband and wife was such that even the original petition for letters of
administration filed by Luisa Delgado vda. de Danao in 1975 referred to
Hence, this recourse. them as "spouses."

The issues for our resolution are: Yet, petitioners maintain that Josefa Delgado and Guillermo Rustia had
simply lived together as husband and wife without the benefit of
marriage. They make much of the absence of a record of the contested
1. whether there was a valid marriage between Guillermo Rustia
marriage, the testimony of a witness38 attesting that they were not
and Josefa Delgado;
married, and a baptismal certificate which referred to Josefa Delgado as
"Señorita" or unmarried woman.39
2. who the legal heirs of the decedents Guillermo Rustia and
Josefa Delgado are;
We are not persuaded.
3. who should be issued letters of administration.
First, although a marriage contract is considered a primary evidence of
marriage, its absence is not always proof that no marriage in fact took
The marriage of Guillermo Rustia and Josefa Delgado place.40 Once the presumption of marriage arises, other evidence may
be presented in support thereof. The evidence need not necessarily or
A presumption is an inference of the existence or non-existence of a fact directly establish the marriage but must at least be enough to strengthen
which courts are permitted to draw from proof of other facts. the presumption of marriage. Here, the certificate of identity issued to
Presumptions are classified into presumptions of law and presumptions Josefa Delgado as Mrs. Guillermo Rustia,41 the passport issued to her
of fact. Presumptions of law are, in turn, either conclusive or as Josefa D. Rustia,42 the declaration under oath of no less than
disputable.37 Guillermo Rustia that he was married to Josefa Delgado43 and the titles
to the properties in the name of "Guillermo Rustia married to Josefa
Rule 131, Section 3 of the Rules of Court provides: Delgado," more than adequately support the presumption of marriage.
These are public documents which are prima facieevidence of the facts
Sec. 3. Disputable presumptions. — The following presumptions are stated therein.44 No clear and convincing evidence sufficient to
satisfactory if uncontradicted, but may be contradicted and overcome by overcome the presumption of the truth of the recitals therein was
other evidence: presented by petitioners.

xxx xxx xxx Second, Elisa vda. de Anson, petitioners’ own witness whose testimony
they primarily relied upon to support their position, confirmed that
Guillermo Rustia had proposed marriage to Josefa Delgado and that
(aa) That a man and a woman deporting themselves as husband and
eventually, the two had "lived together as husband and wife." This again
wife have entered into a lawful contract of marriage;
could not but strengthen the presumption of marriage.

xxx xxx xxx

Third, the baptismal certificate45 was conclusive proof only of the
baptism administered by the priest who baptized the child. It was no
proof of the veracity of the declarations and statements contained
therein,46 such as the alleged single or unmarried ("Señorita") civil status Pertinent to this matter is the following observation:
of Josefa Delgado who had no hand in its preparation.
Suppose, however, that A begets X with B, and Y with another woman,
Petitioners failed to rebut the presumption of marriage of Guillermo C; then X and Y would be natural brothers and sisters, but of half-blood
Rustia and Josefa Delgado. In this jurisdiction, every intendment of the relationship. Can they succeed each other reciprocally?
law leans toward legitimizing matrimony. Persons dwelling together
apparently in marriage are presumed to be in fact married. This is the The law prohibits reciprocal succession between illegitimate children
usual order of things in society and, if the parties are not what they hold and legitimate children of the same parent, even though there is
themselves out to be, they would be living in constant violation of the unquestionably a tie of blood between them. It seems that to allow an
common rules of law and propriety. Semper praesumitur pro illegitimate child to succeed ab intestato (from) another illegitimate child
matrimonio. Always presume marriage.47 begotten with a parent different from that of the former, would be
allowing the illegitimate child greater rights than a legitimate child.
The Lawful Heirs Of Josefa Delgado Notwithstanding this, however, we submit that

To determine who the lawful heirs of Josefa Delgado are, the succession should be allowed, even when the illegitimate brothers and
questioned status of the cohabitation of her mother Felisa Delgado with sisters are only of the half-blood. The reason impelling the prohibition on
Ramon Osorio must first be addressed. reciprocal successions between legitimate and illegitimate families does
not apply to the case under consideration. That prohibition has for its
As mentioned earlier, presumptions of law are either conclusive or basis the difference in category between illegitimate and legitimate
disputable. Conclusive presumptions are inferences which the law relatives. There is no such difference when all the children are
makes so peremptory that no contrary proof, no matter how strong, may illegitimate children of the same parent, even if begotten with different
overturn them.48 On the other hand, disputable presumptions, one of persons. They all stand on the same footing before the law, just like
which is the presumption of marriage, can be relied on only in the legitimate children of half-blood relation. We submit, therefore, that the
absence of sufficient evidence to the contrary. rules regarding succession of legitimate brothers and sisters should be
applicable to them. Full blood illegitimate brothers and sisters should
receive double the portion of half-blood brothers and sisters; and if all
Little was said of the cohabitation or alleged marriage of Felisa Delgado
are either of the full blood or of the half-blood, they shall share equally.53
and Ramon Osorio. The oppositors (now respondents) chose merely to
rely on the disputable presumption of marriage even in the face of such
countervailing evidence as (1) the continued use by Felisa and Luis (her Here, the above-named siblings of Josefa Delgado were related to her
son with Ramon Osorio) of the surname Delgado and (2) Luis Delgado’s by full-blood, except Luis Delgado, her half-brother. Nonetheless, since
and Caridad Concepcion’s Partida de Casamiento49identifying Luis as they were all illegitimate, they may inherit from each other. Accordingly,
"hijo natural de Felisa Delgado" (the natural child of Felisa Delgado).50 all of them are entitled to inherit from Josefa Delgado.

All things considered, we rule that these factors sufficiently overcame We note, however, that the petitioners before us are already the
the rebuttable presumption of marriage. Felisa Delgado and Ramon nephews, nieces, grandnephews and grandnieces of Josefa Delgado.
Osorio were never married. Hence, all the children born to Felisa Under Article 972 of the new Civil Code, the right of representation in
Delgado out of her relations with Ramon Osorio and Lucio Campo, the collateral line takes place only in favor of the children of brothers
namely, Luis and his half-blood siblings Nazario, Edilberta, Jose, and sisters (nephews and nieces). Consequently, it cannot be exercised
Jacoba, Gorgonio and the decedent Josefa, all surnamed by grandnephews and grandnieces.54 Therefore, the only collateral
Delgado,51 were her natural children.52 relatives of Josefa Delgado who are entitled to partake of her intestate
estate are her brothers and sisters, or their children who were still alive
at the time of her death on September 8, 1972. They have a vested right
to participate in the inheritance.55 The records not being clear on this certain successional rights to illegitimate children but only on condition
matter, it is now for the trial court to determine who were the surviving that they were first recognized or acknowledged by the parent.
brothers and sisters (or their children) of Josefa Delgado at the time of
her death. Together with Guillermo Rustia,56 they are entitled to inherit Under the new law, recognition may be compulsory or
from Josefa Delgado in accordance with Article 1001 of the new Civil voluntary.60 Recognition is compulsory in any of the following cases:
(1) in cases of rape, abduction or seduction, when the period of
Art. 1001. Should brothers and sisters or their children survive with the the offense coincides more or less with that of the conception;
widow or widower, the latter shall be entitled to one-half of the
inheritance and the brothers and sisters or their children to the other (2) when the child is in continuous possession of status of a
one-half. child of the alleged father (or mother)61 by the direct acts of the
latter or of his family;
Since Josefa Delgado had heirs other than Guillermo Rustia, Guillermo
could not have validly adjudicated Josefa’s estate all to himself. Rule 74, (3) when the child was conceived during the time when the
Section 1 of the Rules of Court is clear. Adjudication by an heir of the mother cohabited with the supposed father;
decedent’s entire estate to himself by means of an affidavit is allowed
only if he is the sole heir to the estate:
(4) when the child has in his favor any evidence or proof that the
defendant is his father. 62
SECTION 1. Extrajudicial settlement by agreement between heirs. – If
the decedent left no will and no debts and the heirs are all of age, or the
minors are represented by their judicial or legal representatives duly On the other hand, voluntary recognition may be made in the record of
authorized for the purpose, the parties may, without securing letters of birth, a will, a statement before a court of record or in any authentic
administration, divide the estate among themselves as they see fit by writing.63
means of a public instrument filed in the office of the register of deeds,
and should they disagree, they may do so in an ordinary action of Intervenor Guillerma sought recognition on two grounds: first,
partition. If there is only one heir, he may adjudicate to himself the compulsory recognition through the open and continuous possession of
estate by means of an affidavit filed in the office of the register of the status of an illegitimate child and second, voluntary recognition
deeds. x x x (emphasis supplied) through authentic writing.

The Lawful Heirs Of Guillermo Rustia There was apparently no doubt that she possessed the status of an
illegitimate child from her birth until the death of her putative father
Intervenor (now co-respondent) Guillerma Rustia is an illegitimate Guillermo Rustia. However, this did not constitute acknowledgment but
child58 of Guillermo Rustia. As such, she may be entitled to successional a mere ground by which she could have compelled acknowledgment
rights only upon proof of an admission or recognition of paternity. 59 She, through the courts.64 Furthermore, any (judicial) action for compulsory
however, claimed the status of an acknowledged illegitimate child of acknowledgment has a dual limitation: the lifetime of the child and the
Guillermo Rustia only after the death of the latter on February 28, 1974 lifetime of the putative parent.65 On the death of either, the action for
at which time it was already the new Civil Code that was in effect. compulsory recognition can no longer be filed.66 In this case, intervenor
Guillerma’s right to claim compulsory acknowledgment prescribed upon
the death of Guillermo Rustia on February 28, 1974.
Under the old Civil Code (which was in force till August 29, 1950),
illegitimate children absolutely had no hereditary rights. This draconian
edict was, however, later relaxed in the new Civil Code which granted The claim of voluntary recognition (Guillerma’s second ground) must
likewise fail. An authentic writing, for purposes of voluntary recognition,
is understood as a genuine or indubitable writing of the parent (in this Therefore, the lawful heirs of Guillermo Rustia are the remaining
case, Guillermo Rustia). This includes a public instrument or a private claimants, consisting of his sisters,69 nieces and nephews.70
writing admitted by the father to be his.67 Did intervenor’s report card
from the University of Santo Tomas and Josefa Delgado’s obituary Entitlement To Letters Of Administration
prepared by Guillermo Rustia qualify as authentic writings under the
new Civil Code? Unfortunately not. The report card of intervenor An administrator is a person appointed by the court to administer the
Guillerma did not bear the signature of Guillermo Rustia. The fact that intestate estate of the decedent. Rule 78, Section 6 of the Rules of
his name appears there as intervenor’s parent/guardian holds no weight Court prescribes an order of preference in the appointment of an
since he had no participation in its preparation. Similarly, while administrator:
witnesses testified that it was Guillermo Rustia himself who drafted the
notice of death of Josefa Delgado which was published in the Sunday
Times on September 10, 1972, that published obituary was not the Sec. 6. When and to whom letters of administration granted. – If no
authentic writing contemplated by the law. What could have been executor is named in the will, or the executor or executors are
admitted as an authentic writing was the original manuscript of the incompetent, refuse the trust, or fail to give a bond, or a person dies
notice, in the handwriting of Guillermo Rustia himself and signed by him, intestate, administration shall be granted:
not the newspaper clipping of the obituary. The failure to present the
original signed manuscript was fatal to intervenor’s claim. (a) To the surviving husband or wife, as the case may be, or
next of kin, or both, in the discretion of the court, or to such
The same misfortune befalls the ampun-ampunan, Guillermina Rustia person as such surviving husband or wife, or next of kin,
Rustia, who was never adopted in accordance with law. Although a requests to have appointed, if competent and willing to serve;
petition for her adoption was filed by Guillermo Rustia, it never came to
fruition and was dismissed upon the latter’s death. We affirm the ruling (b) If such surviving husband or wife, as the case may be, or
of both the trial court and the Court of Appeals holding her a legal next of kin, or the person selected by them, be incompetent or
stranger to the deceased spouses and therefore not entitled to inherit unwilling, or if the husband or widow or next of kin, neglects for
from them ab intestato. We quote: thirty (30) days after the death of the person to apply for
administration or to request that the administration be granted to
Adoption is a juridical act, a proceeding in rem, which [created] between some other person, it may be granted to one or more of the
two persons a relationship similar to that which results from legitimate principal creditors, if competent and willing to serve;
paternity and filiation. Only an adoption made through the court, or in
pursuance with the procedure laid down under Rule 99 of the Rules of (c) If there is no such creditor competent and willing to serve, it
Court is valid in this jurisdiction. It is not of natural law at all, but is may be granted to such other person as the court may select.
wholly and entirely artificial. To establish the relation, the statutory
requirements must be strictly carried out, otherwise, the adoption is an In the appointment of an administrator, the principal consideration is the
absolute nullity. The fact of adoption is never presumed, but must be interest in the estate of the one to be appointed. 71 The order of
affirmatively [proven] by the person claiming its existence.68 preference does not rule out the appointment of co-administrators,
specially in cases where
Premises considered, we rule that two of the claimants to the estate of
Guillermo Rustia, namely, intervenor Guillerma Rustia and the ampun- justice and equity demand that opposing parties or factions be
ampunan Guillermina Rustia Rustia, are not lawful heirs of the represented in the management of the estates,72 a situation which
decedent. Under Article 1002 of the new Civil Code, if there are no obtains here.
descendants, ascendants, illegitimate children, or surviving spouse, the
collateral relatives shall succeed to the entire estate of the deceased.
It is in this light that we see fit to appoint joint administrators, in the No pronouncement as to costs.
persons of Carlota Delgado vda. de de la Rosa and a nominee of the
nephews and nieces of Guillermo Rustia. They are the next of kin of the
deceased spouses Josefa Delgado and Guillermo Rustia, respectively. SO ORDERED.

WHEREFORE, the petition (which seeks to reinstate the May 11, 1990
decision of the RTC Manila, Branch 55) is hereby DENIED. The
assailed October 24, 2002 decision of the Court of Appeals
is AFFIRMED with the following modifications: Republic of the Philippines
1. Guillermo Rustia’s June 15, 1973 affidavit of self-adjudication Baguio City
is hereby ANNULLED.
2. the intestate estate of Guillermo Rustia shall inherit half of the
intestate estate of Josefa Delgado. The remaining half shall
pertain to (a) the full and half-siblings of Josefa Delgado who
survived her and (b) the children of any of Josefa Delgado’s full- G.R. No. 118904 April 20, 1998
or half-siblings who may have predeceased her, also surviving
at the time of her death. Josefa Delgado’s grandnephews and
grandnieces are excluded from her estate. In this connection, ARTURIO TRINIDAD, petitioner,
the trial court is hereby ordered to determine the identities of the vs.
relatives of Josefa Delgado who are entitled to share in her COURT OF APPEALS, FELIX TRINIDAD (deceased) and LOURDES
estate. TRINIDAD, respondents.

3. Guillermo Rustia’s estate (including its one-half share of

Josefa Delgado’s estate) shall be inherited by Marciana
Rustia vda. deDamian and Hortencia Rustia Cruz (whose PANGANIBAN, J.:
respective shares shall be per capita) and the children of the
late Roman Rustia, Sr. (who survived Guillermo Rustia and In the absence of a marriage contract and a birth certificate, how may
whose respective shares shall be per stirpes). Considering that marriage and filiation be proven?
Marciana Rustia vda. de Damian and Hortencia Rustia Cruz are
now deceased, their respective shares shall pertain to their The Case
This is the main question raised in this petition for review
4. Letters of administration over the still unsettled intestate on certiorari challenging the Court of Appeals 1 Decision promulgated
estates of Guillermo Rustia and Josefa Delgado shall issue to December 1, 1994 2 and Resolution promulgated on February 8,
Carlota Delgado vda. de de la Rosa and to a nominee from 1995 3 in CA-GR CV No. 23275, which reversed the decision of the trial
among the heirs of Guillermo Rustia, as joint administrators, court and dismissed petitioner's action for partition and damages.
upon their qualification and filing of the requisite bond in such
amount as may be determined by the trial court.
On August 10, 1975, Petitioner Arturio Trinidad filed a complaint 4 for
partition and damages against Private Respondents Felix and Lourdes,
both surnamed Trinidad, before the Court of First Instance of Aklan, The Facts
Branch I. 5 On October 25, 1982, Felix died without issue, so he was not
substituted as a party. 6 The assailed Decision recites the factual background of this case, as
follows: 12
On July 4, 1989, the trial court rendered a twenty-page decision 7 in
favor of the petitioner, in which it ruled: 8 On August 10, 1978, plaintiff [herein petitioner] filed with
the Court of First Instance of Aklan, Kalibo, Aklan, an
Considering therefore that this court is of the opinion action for partition of four (4) parcels of land, described
that plaintiff is the legitimate son of Inocentes Trinidad, therein, claiming that he was the son of the late
plaintiff is entitled to inherit the property left by his Inocentes Trinidad, one of three (3) children of Patricio
deceased father which is 1/3 of the 4 parcels of land Trinidad, who was the original owner of the parcels of
subject matter of this case. Although the plaintiff had land. Patricio Trinidad died in 1940, leaving the four (4)
testified that he had been receiving [his] share from said parcels of land to his three (3) children, Inocentes,
land before and the same was stopped, there was no Lourdes and Felix. In 1970, plaintiff demanded from the
evidence introduced as to what year he stopped defendants to partition the land into three (3) equal
receiving his share and for how much. This court shares and to give him the one-third (1/3) individual
therefore cannot rule on that. share of his late father, but the defendants refused.

In its four-page Decision, Respondent Court reversed the trial court on In their answer, filed on September 07, 1978,
the ground that petitioner failed to adduce sufficient evidence to prove defendants denied that plaintiff was the son of the late
that his parents were legally married to each other and that acquisitive Inocentes Trinidad. Defendants contended that
prescription against him had set in. The assailed Decision disposed: 9 Inocentes was single when he died in 1941 , before
plaintiff's birth. Defendants also denied that plaintiff had
WHEREFORE, the Court REVERSES the appealed lived with them, and claimed that the parcels of land
decision. described in the complaint had been in their possession
since the death of their father in 1940 and that they had
not given plaintiff a share in the produce of the land.
In lieu thereof, the Court hereby DISMISSES the
[petitioner's] complaint and the counterclaim thereto.
Patricio Trinidad and Anastacia Briones were the
parents of three (3) children, namely, Inocentes,
Without costs.
Lourdes and Felix. When Patricio died in 1940, survived
by the above named children, he left four (4) parcels of
Respondent Court denied reconsideration in its impugned Resolution land, all situated at Barrio Tigayon, Kalibo Aklan.
which reads: 10
Arturio Trinidad, born on July 21, 1943, claimed to be
The Court DENIES defendants-appellants' motion for the legitimate son of the late Inocentes Trinidad.
reconsideration, dated December 15, 1994, for lack of
merit. There are no new or substantial matters raised in
Arturio got married in 1966 to Candelaria Gaspar, at the
the motion that merit the modification of the decision.
age of twenty three (23). Sometime after the marriage,
Arturio demanded from the defendants that the above-
Hence, this petition. 11 mentioned parcels of land be partitioned into three (3)
equal shares and that he be given the one-third (1/3) mentioned the respective adjoining owners. That she
individual shares of his late father, but defendants knew these 4 parcels belonged to Patricio Trinidad
refused. because said Patricio Trinidad was a native also of
Barrio Tigayon. Said Patricio died before the [war] and
In order to appreciate more clearly the evidence adduced by both after his death the land went to his 3 children, namely:
parties, this Court hereby reproduces pertinent portions of the trial Inocentes, Felix and Lourdes. Since then the land was
court's decision: 13 never partitioned or divided among the 3 children of
A picture, Exhibit A, was shown to the witness for
identification and she identified a woman in the picture
Plaintiff presented as his first witness, Jovita Gerardo,
as the defendant, Lourdes Trinidad. A man with a hat
77 years old, (at the time she testified in 1981) who is
holding a baby was identified by her as Felix Trinidad,
the barangay captain of barrio Tigayon, Kalibo, Aklan,
the defendant. The other woman in the picture was
since 1972. She testified that before being elected as
pointed by the witness as the wife of the plaintiff, Arturio
barrio captain she held the position of barrio council-
Trinidad. When asked if Arturio Trinidad and Lourdes
woman for 4 years. Also she was [a member of the]
Trinidad and Felix Trinidad pointed to by her in the
board of director[s] of the Parent-Teachers Association
picture are the same Arturio, Felix and Lourdes, who
of Tigayon, Kalibo, Aklan. That she knows the plaintiff
are the plaintiff and the defendants in this case, witness
because they are neighbors and she knows him from
answered yes.
the time of his birth. She knows the father of the plaintiff
as Inocentes Trinidad and his mother Felicidad Molato;
both were already dead, Inocentes having died in 1944 Another picture marked as Exhibit B was presented to
and his wife died very much later. Witness recalls the witness for identification. She testified the woman in
plaintiff was born in 1943 in Barrio Tigayon, Kalibo, this picture as Lourdes Trinidad. In said picture,
Aklan, on July 21, 1943. At the time of the birth of the Lourdes Trinidad was holding a child which witness
plaintiff, the house of the witness was about 30 meters identified as the child Arturio Trinidad. When asked by
away from plaintiff's parents['] house and she used to the court when . . . the picture [was] taken, counsel for
go there 2 or 3 times a week. That she knows both the the plaintiff answered, in 1966. When asked if Arturio
defendants as they are also neighbors. That both Felix Trinidad was baptized, witness answered yes, as she
and Lourdes Trinidad are the uncle and aunt of Arturio had gone to the house of his parents. Witness then
because Inocentes Trinidad who is the father of the identified the certificate of baptism marked as Exhibit C.
plaintiff is the brother of the defendants, Felix and The name Arturio Trinidad was marked as Exhibit C-1
Lourdes Trinidad. She testified she also knows that the and the name of Inocentes Trinidad and Felicidad
father of Inocentes, Felix and Lourdes[,] all surnamed Molato as father and mother respectively, were marked
Trinidad[,] was Patricio Trinidad who is already dead but as Exhibit C-2. The date of birth being July 21, 1943
left several parcels of land which are the 4 parcels was also marked. The signature of Monsignor Iturralde
subject of this litigation. That she knows all these was also identified.
[parcels of] land because they are located in Barrio
Tigayon. On cross-examination, witness testified that she [knew]
the land in question very well as she used to pass by it
When asked about the adjoining owners or boundaries always. It was located just near her house but she
of the 4 parcels of land, witness answered and cannot exactly tell the area as she merely passes by it.
When asked if she [knew] the photographer who took Plaintiff, ARTURIO TRINIDAD, himself, was presented
the pictures presented as Exhibit A and B, witness as witness. He testified that defendants, Lourdes and
answered she does not know as she was not present Felix Trinidad, are his aunt and uncle, they being the
during the picture taking. However, she can identify brother and sister of his father. That the parents of his
everybody in the picture as she knows all of them. father and the defendants were Patricio Trinidad and
Anastacia Briones. That both his father, Inocentes
At this stage of the trial, Felix Trinidad [died] without Trinidad, and mother, Felicidad Molato, were already
issue and he was survived by his only sister, Lourdes dead having died in Tigayon, his father having died in
Trinidad, who is his co-defendant in this case. 1944 and his mother about 25 years ago.

Next witness for the plaintiff was ISABEL MEREN who As proof that he is the son of Inocentes Trinidad and
was 72 years old and a widow. She testified having Felicidad Molato, he showed a certificate of baptism
known Inocentes Trinidad as the father of Arturio which had been previously marked as Exhibit C. That
Trinidad and that Inocentes, Felix and Lourdes are his birth certificate was burned during World War 2 hut
brothers and sister and that their father was Patricio he has a certificate of loss issued by the Civil Registrar
Trinidad who left them 4 parcels of land. That she knew of Kalibo, Aklan.
Inocentes Trinidad and Felicidad Molato who are the
parents of Arturio, the plaintiff, were married in New When he was 14 years old, the defendants invited him
Washington, Aklan, by a protestant pastor by the name to live with them being their nephew as his mother was
of Lauriano Lajaylajay. That she knows Felicidad Molato already dead. Plaintiff's mother died when he was 13
and Lourdes Trinidad very well because as a farmer years old. They treated him well and provided for all his
she also owns a parcel of land [and] she used to invite needs. He lived with defendants for 5 years. At the age
Felicidad and Lourdes to help her during planting and of 19, he left the house of the defendants and lived on
harvesting season. That she knows that during the his own. He got married at 23 to Candelaria Gaspar and
lifetime of Inocentes the three of them, Inocentes, Felix then they were invited by the defendants to live with
and Lourdes possessed and usufructed the 4 parcels them. So he and his wife and children lived with the
they inherited from their father, Patricio. That upon the defendants. As proof that he and his family lived with
death of Inocentes, Lourdes Trinidad was in possession the defendants when the latter invited him to live with
of the property without giving the widow of Inocentes them, he presented a picture previously marked as
any share of the produce. As Lourdes outlived her two Exhibit B where there appears his aunt, Lourdes
brothers, namely: Felix and Inocentes, she was the one Trinidad, carrying plaintiff's daughter, his uncle and his
possessing and usufructing the 4 parcels of land up to wife. In short, it is a family picture according to him.
the present. The witness testified that upon the death of Another family picture previously marked Exhibit A
Inocentes, Lourdes took Arturio and cared for him when shows his uncle, defendant Felix Trinidad, carrying
he was still small, about 3 years old, until Arturio grew plaintiff's son. According to him, these 2 pictures were
up and got married. That while Arturio was growing up, taken when he and his wife and children were living
he had also enjoyed the produce of the land while he with the defendants. That a few years after having lived
was being taken care of by Lourdes Trinidad. That a with them, the defendants made them vacate the house
misunderstanding later on arose when Arturio Trinidad for he requested for partition of the land to get his
wanted to get his father's share but Lourdes Trinidad share. He moved out and looked for [a] lawyer to handle
will not give it to him. his case. He testified there are 4 parcels of land in
controversy of which parcel 1 is an upland.
Parcel 1 is 1,000 square meters, [has] 10 coconut trees Parcel 1 is covered by Tax Decl. No. 11609 in the name
and fruit bearing. The harvest is 100 coconuts every 4 of Patricio Trinidad while parcel 2 is covered by Tax
months and the cost of coconuts is P2.00 each. The Decl. No. 10626 in the name of Anastacia Briones and
boundaries are: East-Federico Inocencio; West-Teodulo another Tax Declaration No. 11637 for Parcel 3 in the
Dionesio; North-Teodulo Dionesio; and South-Bulalio name of Ambrosio Trinidad while Parcel 4 is covered by
Briones; located at Tigayon. Tax Decl. No. 16378 in the name of Patricio Trinidad.

Parcel 2 is an upland with an area of 500 square On cross-examination, plaintiff testified that during the
meters; it has only 1 coconut tree and 1 bamboo lifetime of his mother they were getting the share in the
groove; also located in Tigayon, Kalibo, Aklan. produce of the land like coconuts, palay and corn.
Adjoining owners are: East-Ambrosio Trinidad; North- Plaintiff further testified that his father is Inocentes
Federico Inocencio, West-Patricio Trinidad and South- Trinidad and his mother was Felicidad Molato. They
Gregorio Briones. were married in New Washington, Aklan, by a certain
Atty. Lajaylajay. When asked if this Atty. Lajaylajay is a
Parcel 3 is about 12,000 square meters and 1/4 of that municipal judge of New Washington, Aklan, plaintiff
belongs to Patricio Trinidad, the deceased father of the answered he does not know because he was not yet
defendants and Inocentes, the father of the plaintiff. born at that time. That he does not have the death
certificate of his father who died in 1944 because it was
wartime. That after the death of his father, he lived with
Parcel 4 is a riceland with an area of 5,000 square
his mother and when his mother died[,] he lived with his
meters. The harvest is 40 cavans two times a years
aunt and uncle, the defendants in this case. That during
[sic]. Adjoining owners are: East-Gregorio Briones;
the lifetime of his mother, it was his mother receiving
West-Bulalio Briones; South-Federico Inocencio and
the share of the produce of the land. That both
North-Digna Carpio.
defendants, namely Lourdes and Felix Trinidad, are
single and they have no other nephews and nieces.
Parcel 1 is Lot No. 903. That [petitioner's] highest educational attainment is
Grade 3.
Parcel 2 is Lot No. 864 of the cadastral survey of Kalibo
and only Lot 864-A with an area of 540 square meters is EVIDENCE FOR THE DEFENDANTS:
the subject of litigation.
First witness for the defendants was PEDRO BRIONES,
Parcel 3 is Lot No. 979 of the cadastral survey of Kalibo 68 years old, unemployed and a resident of Nalook,
covered by Tax Decl. No. 703310 with reference to one Kalibo, Aklan. He testified having known the
of the owners of the land, Patricio Trinidad married to defendants, Felix and Lourdes Trinidad. They being his
Anastacia Briones, one-half share. first cousins because the mother of Lourdes and Felix
by the name of Anastacia Briones and his father are
Parcel 4 is covered by Original Certificate of Title No. sister and brother. That he also knew Inocentes
22502 RO-174 covering Lot No. 863 of the cadastral Trinidad being the brother of Felix and Lourdes and he
survey of Kalibo. The title is in the name of Patricio is already dead. According to the witness, Inocentes
Trinidad married to Anastacia Briones. Trinidad [died] in 1940 and at the time of his death
Inocentes Trinidad was not married. That he knew this
fact because at the time of the death of Inocentes
Trinidad he was then residing with his aunt, "Nanay picture of the plaintiff and the defendants, witness was
Taya", referring to Anastacia Briones who is mother of able to identify the lady in the picture, which had been
the defendants, Felix and Lourdes Trinidad, as well as marked as Exhibit A-1, as Lourdes Trinidad, and the
Inocentes Trinidad. That at the time of the death of man wearing a hat on the said picture marked as
Inocentes Trinidad, according to this witness he stayed Exhibit 2-A is Felix Trinidad. However, when asked if he
with his aunt, Anastacia Trinidad, and with his children knew the plaintiff, Arturio Trinidad, he said he does not
before 1940 for only 3 months. When asked if he knew know him.
Inocentes Trinidad cohabited with anybody before his
death, he answered, "That I do not know", neither does Next witness for the defendants was the defendant
he kn[o]w a person by the name of Felicidad Molato. herself, LOURDES TRINIDAD. She stated that she is
Furthermore, when asked if he can recall if during the 75 years old, single and jobless. She testified that
lifetime of Inocentes Trinidad witness knew of anybody Inocentes Trinidad was her brother and he is already
with whom said Inocentes Trinidad had lived as dead and he died in 1941 in Tigayon, Kalibo, Aklan.
husband and wife, witness, Pedro Briones, answered That before the death of her brother, Inocentes
that he could not recall because he was then in Manila Trinidad, he had gone to Manila where he stayed for a
working. That after the war, he had gone back to the long time and returned to Tigayon in 1941. According to
house of his aunt, Anastacia, at Tigayon, Kalibo, as he her, upon arrival from Manila in 1941 his brother,
always visit[s] her every Sunday, however, he does not Inocentes Trinidad, lived only for 15 days before he
know the plaintiff, Arturio Trinidad. When asked if after died. While his brother was in Manila, witness testified
the death of Inocentes Trinidad, he knew anybody who she was not aware that he had married anybody.
has stayed with the defendants who claimed to be a son Likewise, when he arrived in Tigayon in 1941, he also
of Inocentes Trinidad, witness, Pedro Briones, did [not] get married. When asked if she knew one by
answered: "I do not know about that." the name of Felicidad Molato, witness answered she
knew her because Felicidad Molato was staying in
On cross examination, witness testified that although he Tigayon. However, according to her[,] she does not
was born in Tigayon, Kalibo, Aklan, he stated to reside kn[o]w if her brother, Inocentes Trinidad, had lived with
in Nalook, Kalibo, as the hereditary property of their Felicidad Molato as husband and wife. When asked if
father was located there. When asked if he was aware she knew the plaintiff, Arturio Trinidad, she said, "Yes,"
of the 4 parcels of land which is the subject matter of but she denied that Arturio Trinidad had lived with them.
this case before the court, witness answered that he According to the witness, Arturio Trinidad did not live
does not know. What he knew is that among the 3 with the defendants but he stayed with his grandmother
children of Patricio Trinidad, Inocentes is the eldest. by the name of Maria Concepcion, his mother, Felicidad
And that at the time of the death of Inocentes in 1940, Molato, having died already. When asked by the court if
according to the witness when cross examined, there had been an instance when the plaintiff had lived
Inocentes Trinidad was around 65 years old. That with her even for days, witness answered, he did not.
according to him, his aunt, Anastacia Briones, was When further asked if Arturio Trinidad went to visit her
already dead before the war. When asked on cross in her house, witness also said, "He did not."
examination if he knew where Inocentes Trinidad was
buried when he died in 1940, witness answered that he Upon cross examination by counsel for the plaintiff,
was buried in their own land because the Japanese Lourdes Trinidad testified that her parents, Anastacia
forces were roaming around the place. When Briones and Patricio Trinidad, had 3 children, namely:
confronted with Exhibit A which is the alleged family Inocentes Trinidad, Felix Trinidad and herself. But
inasmuch as Felix and Inocentes are already dead, she identify plaintiff, Arturio Trinidad, holding another child in
is the only remaining daughter of the spouses Patricio the picture for the same reason. When asked by
Trinidad and Anastacia Briones. Defendant, Lourdes counsel for the plaintiff if she knows that the one who
Trinidad, testified that her brother, Felix Trinidad, died took this picture was the son of Ambrosio Trinidad by
without a wife and children, in the same manner that her the name of Julito Trinidad who was also their cousin,
brother, Inocentes Trinidad, died without a wife and witness testified that she does not know.
children. She herself testified that she does not have
any family of her own for she has [no] husband or Third witness for the defendants was BEATRIZ
children. According to her[,] when Inocentes Trinidad TRINIDAD SAYON who testified that she knew Arturio
[died] in 1941, they buried him in their private lot in Trinidad because he was her neighbor in Tigayon. In
Tigayon because nobody will carry his coffin as it was the same manner that she also knew the defendants,
wartime and the municipality of Kalibo was occupied by Felix and Lourdes, and Inocentes all surnamed Trinidad
the Japanese forces. When further cross-examined that because they were her cousins. She testified that a few
I[t] could not be true that Inocentes Trinidad died in months after the war broke out Inocentes Trinidad died
March 1941 because the war broke out in December in their lola's house whose names was Eugenia Rufo
1941 and March 1941 was still peace time, the witness Trinidad. She further testified that Inocentes Trinidad
could not answer the question. When she was had lived almost in his lifetime in Manila and he went
presented with Exhibit A which is the alleged family home only when his father fetched him in Manila
picture wherein she was holding was [sic] the child of because he was already sick. That according to her,
Arturio Trinidad, she answered; "Yes." and the child that about 1 1/2 months after his arrival from Manila,
she is holding is Clarita Trinidad, child of Arturio Inocentes Trinidad died. She also testified that she
Trinidad. According to her, she was only requested to knew Felicidad Molato and that Felicidad Molato had
hold this child to be brought to the church because she never been married to Inocentes Trinidad. According to
will be baptized and that the baptism took place in the her, it was in 1941 when Inocentes Trinidad died.
parish church of Kalibo. When asked if there was a According to her she was horn in 1928, therefore, she
party, she answered; "Maybe there was." When was 13 or 14 years old when the war broke out. When
confronted with Exhibit A-1 which is herself in the asked if she can remember that it was only in the early
picture carrying the child, witness identified herself and months of the year 1943 when the Japanese occupied
explained that she was requested to bring the child to Kalibo, she said she [was] not sure. She further testified
the church and that the picture taken together with her that Inocentes Trinidad was buried in their private lot
brother and Arturio Trinidad and the latter's child was because Kalibo was then occupied by the Japanese
taken during the time when she and Arturio Trinidad did forces and nobody would carry his body to be buried in
not have a case in court yet. She likewise identified the the Poblacion.
man with a hat holding a child marked as Exhibit A-2 as
her brother, Felix. When asked if the child being carried For rebuttal evidence, [petitioner] presented ISABEL
by her brother, Felix Trinidad, is another child of the MEREN, who was 76 years old and a resident of
plaintiff, witness answered she does not know because Tigayon. Rebuttal witness testified that . . . she knew
her eyes are already blurred. Furthermore, when asked both the [petitioner] and the [private respondents] in this
to identify the woman in the picture who was at the right case very well as her house is only around 200 meters
of the child held by her brother, Felix, and who was from them. When asked if it is true that according to
previously identified by plaintiff, Arturio Trinidad, as his Lourdes Trinidad, [Inocentes Trinidad] arrived from
wife, witness answered that she cannot identify Manila in 1941 and he lived only for 15 days and died,
because she had a poor eyesight neither can she
witness testified that he did not die in that year because Plaintiff has not established that he was recognized, as
he died in the year 1944, and that Inocentes Trinidad a legitimate son of the late Inocentes Trinidad, in the
lived with his sister, Lourdes Trinidad, in a house which record of birth or a final judgment, in a public document
is only across the street from her house. According to or a private handwritten instrument, or that he was in
the said rebuttal witness, it is not true that Inocentes continuous possession of the status of a legitimate
Trinidad died single because he had a wife by the name child.
of Felicidad Molato whom he married on May 5, 1942 in
New Washington, Aklan. That she knew this fact Two witnesses, Pedro Briones and Beatriz Trinidad
because she was personally present when couple was Sayon, testified for the defendants that Inocentes
married by Lauriano Lajaylajay, a protestant pastor. Trinidad never married. He died single in 1941. One
witness, Isabel Maren, testified in rebuttal for the
On cross examination, rebuttal witness testified that plaintiff, that Inocentes Trinidad married Felicidad
when Inocentes Trinidad arrived from Manila he was in Molato in New Washington, Aklan, on May 5, 1942,
good physical condition. That she knew both Inocentes solemnized by a pastor of the protestant church and
Trinidad and Felicidad Molato to be Catholics but that that she attended the wedding ceremony (t.s.n. Sept. 6,
according to her, their marriage was solemnized by a 1988, p. 4). Hence, there was no preponderant
Protestant minister and she was one of the sponsors. evidence of the marriage, nor of Inocentes'
That during the marriage of Inocentes Trinidad and acknowledgment of plaintiff as his son, who was born
Felicidad Molato, Lourdes Trinidad and Felix Trinidad on July 21, 1943.
were also present.
The right to demand partition does not prescribe (de
When plaintiff, ARTURIO TRINIDAD, was presented as Castro vs. Echarri, 20 Phil. 23). Where one of the
rebuttal witness, he was not able to present a marriage interested parties openly and adversely occupies the
contract of his parents but instead a certification dated property without recognizing the co-ownership (Cordova
September 5, 1978 issued by one Remedios Eleserio of vs. Cordova, L-9936, January 14, 1958) acquisitive
the Local Civil Registrar of the Municipality of New prescription may set in (Florenz D. Regalado, Remedial
Washington, Aklan, attesting to the fact that records of Law Compendium, Vol. I, Fifth Revised Edition, 1988, p.
births, deaths, and marriages in the municipality of New 497). Admittedly, the defendants have been in
Washington were destroyed during the Japanese time. possession of the parcels of land involved in the
concept of owners since their father died in 1940. Even
Respondent Court's Ruling if possession be counted from 1964, when plaintiff
attained the age of majority, still, defendants possessed
the land for more than ten (10) years, thus acquiring
In finding that petitioner was not a child, legitimate or otherwise, of the
ownership of the same by acquisitive prescription
late Inocentes Trinidad, Respondent Court ruled: 14
(Article 1134, Civil Code of the Philippines).
We sustain the appeal on the ground that plaintiff has
The Issues
not adduced sufficient evidence to prove that he is the
son of the late Inocentes Trinidad. But the action to
claim legitimacy has not prescribed. Petitioner submits the following issues for resolution: 15
1. Whether or not petitioner (plaintiff-appellee) has discharged by petitioner and, thus, the reversal of the assailed Decision
proven by preponderant evidence the marriage of his and Resolution is inevitable.
First and Second Issues: Evidence of and Collateral Attack on
2. Whether or not petitioner (plaintiff-appellee) has Filiation
adduced sufficient evidence to prove that he is the son
of the late Inocentes Trinidad, brother of private At the outset, we stress that an appellate court's assessment of the
respondents (defendants-appellants) Felix and Lourdes evidence presented by the parties will not, as a rule, be disturbed
Trinidad. because the Supreme Court is not a trier of facts. But in the face of the
contradictory conclusions of the appellate and the trial courts, such rule
3. Whether or not the Family Code is applicable to the does not apply here. So, we had to meticulously pore over the records
case at bar[,] the decision of the Regional Trial Court and the evidence adduced in this case. 17
having been promulgated on July 4, 1989, after the
Family Code became effective on August 3, 1988. Petitioner's first burden is to prove that Inocentes and his mother
(Felicidad) were validly married, and that he was born during the
4. Whether or not petitioner's status as a legitimate child subsistence of their marriage. This, according to Respondent Court, he
can be attached collaterally by the private respondents. failed to accomplish.

5. Whether or not of private respondent (defendants- This Court disagrees. Pugeda vs. Trias 18 ruled that when the question
appellants) have acquired ownership of the properties of whether a marriage has been contracted arises in litigation, said
in question by acquisitive prescription. marriage may be proven by relevant evidence. To prove the fact of
marriage, the following would constitute competent evidence: the
Simply stated, the main issues raised in this petition are: testimony of a witness to the matrimony, the couple's public and open
cohabitation as husband and wife after the alleged wedlock, the birth
and the baptismal certificates of children born during such union, and
1. Did petitioner present sufficient evidence of his parents' marriage and
the mention of such nuptial in subsequent documents. 19
of his filiation?

In the case at bar, petitioner secured a certification 20 from the Office of

2. Was petitioner's status as a legitimate child subject to collateral attack
the Civil Registrar of Aklan that all records of births, deaths and
in the action for partition?
marriages were either lost, burned or destroyed during the Japanese
occupation of said municipality. This fact, however, is not fatal to
3. Was his claim time-barred under the rules on acquisitive prescription? petitioner's case. Although the marriage contract is considered the
primary evidence of the marital union, petitioner's failure to present it is
The Court's Ruling not proof that no marriage took place, as other forms of relevant
evidence may take its place. 21
The merits of this petition are patent. The partition of the late Patricio's
real properties requires preponderant proof that petitioner is a co-owner In place of a marriage contract, two witnesses were presented by
or co-heir of the decedent's estate. 16 His right as a co-owner would, in petitioner: Isabel Meren, who testified that she was present during the
turn, depend on whether he was born during the existence of a valid and nuptial of Felicidad and Inocentes on May 5, 1942 in New Washington,
subsisting marriage between his mother (Felicidad) and his putative Aklan; and Jovita Gerardo, who testified that the couple deported
father (Inocentes). This Court holds that such burden was successfully themselves as husband and wife after the marriage. Gerardo, the 77-
year old barangay captain of Tigayon and former board member of the that petitioner was accepted by the private respondents as Inocentes'
local parent-teachers' association, used to visit Inocentes and legitimate son ante litem motam.
Felicidad's house twice or thrice a week, as she lived only thirty meters
away. 22 On July 21, 1943, Gerardo dropped by Inocentes' house when Lourdes' denials of these pictures are hollow and evasive. While she
Felicidad gave birth to petitioner. She also attended petitioner's admitted that Exhibit B shows her holding Clarita Trinidad, the
baptismal party held at the same house. 23 Her testimony constitutes petitioner's daughter, she demurred that she did so only because she
evidence of common reputation respecting marriage. 24 It further gives was requested to carry the child before she was baptized. 29 When
rise to the disputable presumption that a man and a woman deporting shown Exhibit A, she recognized her late brother — but not petitioner,
themselves as husband and wife have entered into a lawful contract of his wife and the couple's children — slyly explaining that she could not
marriage. 25 Petitioner also presented his baptismal certificate (Exhibit clearly see because of an alleged eye defect. 30
C) in which Inocentes and Felicidad were named as the child's father
and mother. 26 Although a baptismal certificate is indeed not a conclusive proof of
filiation, it is one of "the other means allowed under the Rules of Court
On the other hand, filiation may be proven by the following: and special laws" to show pedigree, as this Court ruled in Mendoza
vs. Court of Appeals: 31
Art. 265. The filiation of legitimate children is proved by
the record of birth appearing in the Civil Register, or by What both the trial court and the respondent court did
an authentic document or a final judgment. not take into account is that an illegitimate child is
allowed to establish his claimed filiation by "any other
Art. 266. In the absence of the titles indicated in the means allowed by the Rules of Court and special laws,"
preceding article, the filiation shall be proved by the according to the Civil Code, or "by evidence of proof in
continuous possession of status of a legitimate child. his favor that the defendant is her father," according to
the Family Code. Such evidence may consist of his
Art. 267. In the absence of a record of birth, authentic baptismal certificate, a judicial admission, a family Bible
document, final judgment or possession of status, in which his name has been entered, common
legitimate filiation may be proved by any other means reputation respecting his pedigree, admission by
allowed by the Rules of Court and special laws. 27 silence, the testimony of witnesses, and other kinds of
proof admissible under Rule 130 of the Rules of Court.
[Justice Alicia Sempio-Diy, Handbook on the Family
Petitioner submitted in evidence a certification 28 that records relative to
Code of the Phil. 1988 ed., p. 246]
his birth were either destroyed during the last world war or burned when
the old town hall was razed to the ground on June 17, 1956. To prove
his filiation, he presented in evidence two family pictures, his baptismal Concededly, because Gerardo was not shown to be a member of the
certificate and Gerardo's testimony. Trinidad family by either consanguinity or affinity, 32her testimony does
not constitute family reputation regarding pedigree. Hence, it cannot, by
itself, be used to establish petitioner's legitimacy.
The first family picture (Exhibit A) shows petitioner (Exhibit A-5) carrying
his second daughter and his wife (Exhibit A-4) together with the late
Felix Trinidad (Exhibit A-2) carrying petitioner's first daughter, and Be that as it may, the totality of petitioner's positive evidence clearly
Lourdes Trinidad (Exhibit A-1). Exhibit B is another picture showing preponderates over private respondents' self-serving negations. In sum,
Lourdes Trinidad (Exhibit B-1) carrying petitioner's first child (Exhibit B- private respondents' thesis is that Inocentes died unwed and without
2). These pictures were taken before the case was instituted. Although issue in March 1941. Private respondents' witness, Pedro Briones,
they do not directly prove petitioner's filiation to Inocentes, they show testified that Inocentes died in 1940 and was buried in the estate of the
Trinidads, because nobody was willing to carry the coffin to the
cemetery in Kalibo, which was then occupied by the Japanese forces. A: No, sir.
His testimony, however, is far from credible because he stayed with the
Trinidads for only three months, and his answers on direct examination Q: Can you recall if during the lifetime
were noncommittal and evasive: 33 of Inocentes Trinidad if you have known
of anybody with whom he has lived as
Q: At the time of his death, can you tell husband and wife?
the Court if this Inocentes Trinidad was
married or not? A: I could not recall because I was then
in Manila working.
A: Not married.
Q: After the war, do you remember
Q: In 1940 at the time of death of having gone back to the house of your
Inocentes Trinidad, where were you aunt Anastacia at Tigayon, Kalibo,
residing? Aklan?

A: I was staying with them. A: Yes, sir.

Q: When you said "them", to whom are Q: How often did you go to the house of
you referring to [sic]? your aunt?

A: My aunt Nanay Taya, Anastacia. A: Every Sunday.

xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx

Q: Will you please tell the Court for how Q: You know the plaintiff Arturio
long did you stay with your aunt Trinidad?
Anastacia Trinidad and his children
before 1940? A: I do not know him.

A: For only three months. Q: After the death of Inocentes

Trinidad, do you know if there was
Q: Now, you said at the time of his anybody who has stayed with the
death, Inocentes Trinidad was single. defendants who claimed to be a son of
Do you know if he had cohabited with Inocentes Trinidad?
anybody before his death?
A: I do not know about that.
A: [T]hat I do not know.
Beatriz Sayon, the other witness of private respondent, testified, that
Q: You know a person by the name of when the Japanese occupied Kalibo in 1941, her father brought
Felicidad Molato? Inocentes from Manila to Tigayon because he was sick. Inocentes
stayed with their grandmother, Eugenia Roco Trinidad, and died single him as their nephew. . . . In this case, the plaintiff
and without issue in March 1941, one and a half months after his return enjoyed the continuous possession of a status of the
to Tigayon. She knew Felicidad Molato, who was also a resident of child of the alleged father by the direct acts of the
Tigayon, but denied that Felicidad was ever married to Inocentes. 34 defendants themselves, which status was only broken
when plaintiff demanded for the partition . . . as he was
Taking judicial notice that World War II did not start until December 7, already having a family of his own. . . . .
1941 with the bombing of Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, the trial court was not
convinced that Inocentes dies in March 1941. 35 The Japanese forces However, the disowning by the defendant [private
occupied Manila only on January 2, 1942; 36 thus, it stands to reason respondent herein], Lourdes Trinidad, of the plaintiff
that Aklan was not occupied until then. It was only then that local [petitioner herein] being her nephew is offset by the
residents were unwilling to bury their dead in the cemetery In Kalibo, preponderance of evidence, among them the testimony
because of the Japanese soldiers who were roaming around the area. 37 of witness, Jovita Gerardo, who is the barrio captain.
This witness was already 77 years old at the time she
Furthermore, petitioner consistently used Inocentes' surname (Trinidad) testified. Said witness had no reason to favor the
without objection from private respondents — a presumptive proof of his plaintiff. She had been a PTA officer and the court sized
status as Inocentes' legitimate child. 38 her up as a civic minded person. She has nothing to
gain in this case as compared to the witness for the
defendants who are either cousin or nephew of Lourdes
Preponderant evidence means that, as a whole, the evidence adduced
Trinidad who stands to gain in the case for defendant,
by one side outweighs that of the adverse party. 39Compared to the
Lourdes Trinidad, being already 75 years old, has no
detailed (even if awkwardly written) ruling of the trial court, Respondent
husband nor children. 41
Court's holding that petitioner failed to prove his legitimate filiation to
Inocentes is unconvincing. In determining where the preponderance of
evidence lies, a trial court may consider all the facts and circumstances Doctrinally, a collateral attack on filiation is not permitted. 42 Rather than
of the case, including the witnesses' manner of testifying, their rely on this axiom, petitioner chose to present evidence of his filiation
intelligence, their means and opportunity of knowing the facts to which and of his parents' marriage. Hence, there is no more need to rule on
they are testifying, the nature of the facts, the probability or improbability the application of this doctrine to petitioner's cause.
of their testimony, their interest or want thereof, and their personal
credibility. 40 Applying this rule, the trial court significantly and Third Issue: No Acquisitive Prescription
convincingly held that the weight of evidence was in petitioner's favor. It
declared: Respondent Court ruled that, because acquisitive prescription sets in
when one of the interested parties openly and adversely occupies the
. . . [O]ne thing sure is the fact that plaintiff had lived property without recognizing the co-ownership, and because private
with defendants enjoying the status of being their respondents had been in possession — in the concept of owners — of
nephew . . . before plaintiff [had] gotten married and had the parcels of land in issue since Patricio died in 1940, they acquired
a family of his own where later on he started demanding ownership of these parcels.
for the partition of the share of his father, Inocentes.
The fact that plaintiff had so lived with the defendants . . The Court disagrees. Private respondents have not acquired ownership
. is shown by the alleged family pictures, Exhibits A & B. of the property in question by acquisitive prescription. In a co-ownership,
These family pictures were taken at a time when plaintiff the act of one benefits all the other co-owners, unless the former
had not broached the idea of getting his father's share. . repudiates the co-ownership. 43 Thus, no prescription runs in favor of a
. . His demand for the partition of the share of his father co-owner or co-heir against his or her co-owners or co-heirs, so long as
provoked the ire of the defendants, thus, they disowned he or she expressly or impliedly recognizes the co-ownership.
In this particular case, it is undisputed that, prior to the action for WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED and the assailed Decision and
partition, petitioner, in the concept of a co-owner, was receiving from Resolution are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The trial court's decision
private respondents his share of the produce of the land in dispute. Until dated July 4, 1989 is REINSTATED. No costs.
such time, recognition of the co-ownership by private respondents was
beyond question. There is no evidence, either, of their repudiation, if SO ORDERED.
any, of the co-ownership of petitioner's father Inocentes over the land.
Further, the titles of these pieces of land were still in their father's name.
Although private respondents had possessed these parcels openly
since 1940 and had not shared with petitioner the produce of the land
during the pendency of this case, still, they manifested no repudiation of
the co-ownership. In Mariategui vs. Court of Appeals, the Court held: 44

. . . Corollarily, prescription does not run again private

respondents with respect to the filing of the action for
partition so long as the heirs for whose benefit
prescription is invoked, have not expressly or impliedly
repudiated the co-ownership. In the other words,
prescription of an action for partition does not lie except
when the co-ownership is properly repudiated by the co-
owner (Del Banco vs. Intermediate Appellate Court, 156
SCRA 55 [1987] citing Jardin vs. Hollasco, 117 SCRA
532 [1982]).

Otherwise stated, a co-owner cannot acquire by

prescription the share of the other co-owners absent a
clear repudiation of co-ownership duly communicated to
the other co-owners (Mariano vs. De Vega, 148 SCRA
342 [1987]). Furthermore, an action to demand partition
is imprescriptible and cannot be barred by laches (Del
Banco vs. IAC, 156 SCRA 55 (1987). On the other
hand, an action for partition may be seen to be at once
an action for declaration of co-ownership and for
segregation and conveyance of a determinate portion of
the property involved (Rogue vs. IAC, 165 SCRA 118

Considering the foregoing, Respondent Court committed reversible error

in holding that petitioner's claim over the land in dispute was time-