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WILLIAM LIYAO, JR., represented by his mother Corazon Garcia, petitioner, vs. JUANITA TANHOTI-LIYAO, PEARL MARGARET L.

TAN, TITA ROSE L. TAN AND LINDA CHRISTINA LIYAO, respondents. March 7, 2002 Who may impugn (legitimacy) FACTS On November 29, 1976, William Jr (represented by mother Corazon Garcia) filed for an action for compulsory recognition as the illegitimate (spurious) of William Liyao against respondents. The complaint alleged that petitioner was in continuous possession of the status of the child of the deceased, and that he was recognized as such child by decedent during his lifetime. The petitioner alleged that Corazon had been legally married but was de facto separated with husband Ramon Yulo for 10 years at the time of the filing of the civil action. She cohabited with deceased from 1965 up to his death in 1975. She has 2 other daughters by 1st marriage and it was claimed that petitioner was born during said cohabitation of Corazon with the deceased. This was supposedly with the knowledge of the deceaseds legitimate children (respondents) with legal wife Juanita Tanhoti-Liyao. Petitioner was born on June 9, 1975. Allegedly, William Liyao visited and stayed with her and the new born baby, William, Jr. (Billy). All the medical and hospital expenses, food and clothing were paid under the account of William Liyao. William Liyao even asked his confidential secretary, Mrs. Virginia Rodriguez, to secure a copy of Billys birth certificate. Petitioner tried to prove his claims through testimonial evidence from other people, as well as pictures of the deceased and Corazon in various social gatherings. He also claimed that the deceased expressly acknowledged him as his son in the presence of other people, supported petitioner and paid for his food, clothing, and other material needs, even opening a bank account for him and making weekly deposits. In short, petitioner was recognized by the deceased by the latters direct and overt acts. Respondents as well as their witnesses tell a different story. Among others, Linda claims that her father suffered two strokes before the fatal attack which led to his death on December 2, 1975. He suffered a stroke at his office sometime in April-May 1974 and was attended by Dr. Santiago Co. He then stayed in the house for two (2) to three (3) months for his therapy and

acupuncture treatment. He could not talk, move, walk, write or sign his name. William Liyao was bedridden and had personally changed. He was not active in business and had dietary restrictions. Linda also testified that she knew Corazon Garcia is still married to Ramon Yulo, and that once, in 1973, Linda chanced upon Ramon Yulo picking up Corazon Garcia at the company garage. Allegedly, immediately after the death of Lindas father, Corazon went to Lindas office for the return of the Corazons alleged investments with the Far East Realty Investment, Inc. Linda added that Corazon, while still a Vice-President of the company, was able to take out documents, clothes and several laminated pictures of William Liyao from the office. Rose (other respondent) testified, among others, that during the first heart attack sometime between April and May 1974, her fathers speech and hands were affected and he had to stay home for two (2) to three (3) months under strict medication. Deceaseds driver testified, among others, that he does not remember driving for Corazon Garcia on a trip to Baguio or for activities like shopping; also in 1974, he saw Mr. Pineda saw Ramon Yulo at the office garage as if to fetch Corazon Garcia.

RTC ruled in favor of William Jr., declaring William Jr as the illegitimate (spurious) son of deceased and ordered respondents to recognize him as a compulsory heir of the deceased , entitled to all successional rights. RTC was convinced of the preponderance of evidence that the deceased sired the petitioner as the latter was conceived during said cohabitation of William and Corazon. Also, petitioner has been in continuous possession and enjoyment of status of a child of the deceased through the latters overt acts of: Securing birth certificate of petitioner through confidential secretary Mrs. Rodriguez Openly and publicly acknowledging petitioner as his son Providing sustenance and introducing him even to his legitimate children CA reversed RTC, saying that: Law favors legitimacy over illegitimacy Gave credence to the testimonies of some witnesses for respondents that Corazon and Ramon Yulo (who are still legally married with no legal separation) were seen in each others company during the time that Corazon and William were supposed to be cohabiting

Birth certificate and baptismal certificate not enough proof of paternity in the absence of evidence that the deceased had a hand in the preparation of said certificates, and considering that his signature does not appear thereon. Family pictures do not constitute competent proof of filiation Passbook presented did not show that the same was opened for Billy and Corazon by the deceased, because it does not bear the deceaseds signature and name

The child himself cannot choose his own filiation. If the husband, presumed to be the father does not impugn the legitimacy of the child, then the status of the child is fixed, and the latter cannot choose to be the child of his mothers alleged paramour. On the other hand, if the presumption of legitimacy is overthrown, the child cannot elect the paternity of the husband who successfully defeated the presumption. The acts of the legitimate children of Corazon and Ramon Yulo (husband of Corazon), in testifying for the petitioner do not amount to impugnation of the legitimacy of the latter. As earlier stated, it is only in exceptional cases that the heirs of the husband are allowed to contest the legitimacy of the child. There is nothing on the records to indicate that Ramon Yulo has already passed away at the time of the birth of the petitioner nor at the time of the initiation of this proceedings. Notably, the case at bar was initiated by petitioner himself through his mother, Corazon Garcia, and not through Enrique and Bernadette Yulo. It is settled that the legitimacy of the child can be impugned only in a direct action brought for that purpose, by the proper parties and within the period limited by law. In any event, there is no clear, competent and positive evidence presented by the petitioner that his alleged father had admitted or recognized his paternity.

ISSUE Whether the petitioner can impugn is own legitimacy to be able to claim from the estate of his supposed father, William Sr. NO.

RULING NO. Under the New Civil Code, a child born and conceived during a valid marriage is presumed to be legitimate.The presumption in favor of legitimacy is grounded in a policy to protect the innocent offspring from the odium of illegitimacy. This presumption may be overthrown by evidence to the contrary (Art. 255 NCC). In this case, the fact that Corazon had been living separately from her husband Ramon at the time petitioner was conceived and born is of no moment. While physical impossibility for the husband to have sexual intercourse with his wife is one of the grounds for impugning the legitimacy of the child, it bears emphasis that the grounds for impugning the legitimacy of the child mentioned in Article 255 of the Civil Code may only be invoked by the husband, or in proper cases, his heirs under the conditions set forth under Article 262 of the Civil Code. Impugning the legitimacy of the child is a strictly personal right of the husband, or in exceptional cases, his heirs for the simple reason that he is the one directly confronted with the scandal and ridicule which the infidelity of his wife produces and he should be the one to decide whether to conceal that infidelity or expose it in view of the moral and economic interest involved. It is only in exceptional cases that his heirs are allowed to contest such legitimacy. Outside of these cases, none - even his heirs - can impugn legitimacy; that would amount o an insult to his memory. t is settled that a child born within a valid marriage is presumed legitimate even though the mother may have declared against its legitimacy or may have been sentenced as an adulteress.

PETITION DENIED.