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VOL.

254,MARCH13,1996

711

Aruego, Jr. vs. Court of Appeals


*

G.R.No.112193.March13,1996.

JOSEE.ARUEGO,JR.,SIMEONASANJUANARUEGO,
MA.IMMACULADAT.ALANON,ROBERTOA.TORRES,
CRISTINA A. TORRES, JUSTO JOSE TORRES and
AGUSTINTORRES,petitioners,vs.THEHON.COURTOF
APPEALS, THIRTEENTH DIVISION and ANTONIA
ARUEGO,respondents.
Parent and Child; Filiation; Recognition; Family Code; Words
and Phrases; The phrase vested or acquired rights under Article
256 is not defined by the Family Code, leaving it to the courts to
determine what it means as each particular issue is submitted to
them.ThephrasevestedoracquiredrightsunderArticle256,is
not defined by the Family Code. The Committee did not define
whatismeantbyavestedoracquiredright,thusleavingittothe
courts to determine what it means as each particular issue is
submittedtothem.Itis
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* FIRSTDIVISION.

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SUPREMECOURTREPORTSANNOTATED
Aruego, Jr. vs. Court of Appeals

difficulttoprovidetheanswerforeachandeveryquestionthatmay
ariseinthefuture.
Same; Same; Same; Same; Actions; An action for compulsory
recognition and enforcement of successional rights which was filed
prior to the advent of the Family Code must be governed by Article
285 of the Civil Code and not by Article 175, paragraph 2 of the
Family Code.Tayag applies foursquare with the case at bench.
The action brought by private respondent Antonia Aruego for
compulsory recognition and enforcement of successional rights
which was filed prior to the advent of the Family Code, must be
governed by Article 285 of the Civil Code and not by Article 175,
paragraph 2 of the Family Code. The present law cannot be given
retroactive effect insofar as the instant case is concerned, as its
application will prejudice the vested right of private respondent to
havehercasedecidedunderArticle285oftheCivilCode.Theright
was vested to her by the fact that she filed her action under the

regimeoftheCivilCode.
Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; Jurisdiction; The jurisdiction
of a court, whether in criminal or civil cases, once attached, cannot
be ousted by subsequent happenings or events, although of a
character which would have prevented jurisdiction from attaching
in the first instance, and the Court retains jurisdiction until it
finally disposes of the case.Prescinding from this, the conclusion
then ought to be that the action was not yet barred,
notwithstanding the fact that it was brought when the putative
fatherwasalreadydeceased,sinceprivaterespondentwasthenstill
aminorwhenitwasfiled,anexceptiontothegeneralruleprovided
under Article 285 of the Civil Code. Hence, the trial court, which
acquired jurisdiction over the case by the filing of the complaint,
neverlostjurisdictionoverthesamedespitethepassageofE.O.No.
209,alsoknownastheFamilyCodeofthePhilippines.Ourruling
herein reinforces the principle that the jurisdiction of a court,
whetherincriminalorcivilcases,onceattachedcannotbeoustedby
subsequent happenings or events, although of a character which
would have prevented jurisdiction from attaching in the first
instance, and it retains jurisdiction until it finally disposes of the
case.

PETITIONforreviewoncertiorariofadecisionoftheCourt
ofAppeals.
ThefactsarestatedintheopinionoftheCourt.
713

VOL.254,MARCH13,1996

713

Aruego, Jr. vs. Court of Appeals


Delia L. Hermosoforpetitioners.
R.O. Acebedo & Associates Law Office for private
respondent.
HERMOSISIMA,JR.,J.:
1

On March 7, 1983, a Complaint for Compulsory


Recognition and Enforcement of Successional Rights was
filedbeforeBranch30oftheRegionalTrialCourtofManila
by the minors, private respondent Antonia F. Aruego and
her alleged sister Evelyn F. Aruego, represented by their
mother and natural guardian, Luz M. Fabian. Named
defendantsthereinwereJoseE.Aruego,Jr.andthefive(5)
minorchildrenofthedeceasedGloriaA.Torres,represented
by their father and natural guardian, Justo P. Torres, Jr.,
nowthepetitionersherein.
In essence, the complaint avers that the late Jose M.
Aruego, Sr., a married man, had an amorous relationship
with Luz M. Fabian sometime in 1959 until his death on
March30,1982.OutofthisrelationshipwerebornAntonia
F. Aruego and Evelyn F. Aruego on October 5, 1962 and
September 3, 1963, respectively. The complaint prayed for
an Order praying that herein private respondent and
Evelynbedeclaredtheillegitimatechildrenofthedeceased
JoseM.Aruego,Sr.;thathereinpetitionersbecompelledto
recognizeandacknowledgethemasthecompulsoryheirsof

the deceased Jose M. Aruego; that their share and


participation in the estate of their deceased father be
determinedandordereddeliveredtothem.
Themainbasisoftheactionforcompulsoryrecognitionis
theirallegedopenandcontinuouspossessionofthestatus
ofillegitimatechildrenasstatedinparagraphs6and7of
theComplaint,towit:
6. Theplaintiffsfather,JoseM.Aruego,acknowledged
andrecognizedthehereinplaintiffsashischildren
verballyamong
_______________
1DocketedasCivilCaseNo.8316093.

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SUPREMECOURTREPORTSANNOTATED
Aruego, Jr. vs. Court of Appeals
plaintiffsandtheirmothersfamilyfriends,aswell
asbymyriaddifferentpaternalways,includingbut
notlimitedtothefollowing:
(a) Regularsupportandeducationalexpenses;
(b) Allowancetousehissurname;
(c) Paymentofmaternalbills;
(d) Payment of baptismal expenses and attendance
therein;
(e) Taking them to restaurants and department stores
onoccasionsoffamilyrejoicing;
(f) Attendancetoschoolproblemsofplaintiffs;
(g) Calling and allowing plaintiffs to his office every
nowandthen;
(h) Introducingthemassuchchildrentofamilyfriends.
7. The plaintiffs are thus, in continuous possession of
the status of (illegitimate) children of the deceased
Jose M. Aruego who showered them, with the
continuousandclearmanifestationsofpaternalcare
2
andaffectionasaboveoutlined.

Petitionersdeniedalltheseallegations.
After trial, the lower court rendered judgment, dated
June15,1992,thedispositiveportionofwhichreads:
WHEREFORE,judgmentisrendered
1. Declaring Antonia Aruego as illegitimate daughter of Jose
AruegoandLuzFabian;
2. Evelyn Fabian is not an illegitimate daughter of Jose
AruegowithLuzFabian;
3. Declaring that the estate of deceased Jose Aruego are the
following:
xxxxxxxxx

4. AntoniaAruegoisentitledtoashareequalto1/2portionof
shareofthelegitimatechildrenofJoseAruego;
5. DefendantsareherebyorderedtorecognizeAntoniaAruego
as the illegitimate daughter of Jose Aruego with Luz
Fabian;
6. DefendantsareherebyorderedtodelivertoAntoniaAruego
(her)shareintheestateofJoseAruego,Sr.;
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2Rollo,p.45.

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Aruego, Jr. vs. Court of Appeals


7. Defendantstoplay(sic)plaintiffs(AntoniaAruego)
counselthesumofP10,000.00asatty.sfee;
3

8. Costagainstthedefendants.

HereinpetitionersfiledaMotionforPartialReconsideration
ofthedecisionalleginglossofjurisdictiononthepartofthe
trial court over the complaint by virtue of the passage of
Executive Order No. 209 (as amended by Executive Order
No. 227), otherwise known as the Family Code of the
Philippines which took effect on August 3, 1988. This
motion was denied by the lower court in the Order, dated
January14,1993.
Petitioners interposed an appeal but the lower court
refusedtogiveitduecourseonthegroundthatitwasfiled
outoftime.
APetitionforProhibitionandCertiorariwithprayerfor
a Writ of Preliminary Injunction was filed by herein
petitionersbeforerespondentCourtofAppeals,thepetition
wasdismissedforlackofmeritinadecisionpromulgatedon
August 31, 1993. A Motion for Reconsideration when filed
wasdeniedbytherespondentcourtinaminuteresolution,
datedOctober13,1993.
Hence,thisPetitionforReviewonCertiorariunderRule
45allegingthefollowinggrounds:
A
RESPONDENT COURT HAD DECIDED A QUESTION OF
SUBSTANCEINAWAYNOTINACCORDWITHTHELAWAND
IS DIRECTLY CONTRADICTORY TO THE APPLICABLE
DECISIONALREADYISSUEDBYTHISHONORABLECOURT.
B
RESPONDENT COURT ERRED IN HOLDING THAT THE
PETITION FILED BY PETITIONERS BEFORE IT DOES NOT
INVOLVEAQUESTIONOFJURISDICTION.
_______________
3Rollo,pp.1011.

716

716

SUPREMECOURTREPORTSANNOTATED
Aruego, Jr. vs. Court of Appeals
C

RESPONDENT COURT HAD CLEARLY ERRED IN RULING


THAT THERE IS NO PERCEPTIBLE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN
THE CIVIL CODE PROVISION AND THOSE OF THE FAMILY
CODE ANENT THE TIME AN ACTION FOR COMPULSORY
RECOGNITION MAY BE MADE AND THAT THERE IS NO
DIFFERENCE UNDER THE CIVIL CODE FROM THAT OF THE
FAMILY CODE CONCERNING THE REQUIREMENT THAT AN
ACTIONFORCOMPULSORYRECOGNITIONONTHEGROUND
OF CONTINUOUS POSSESSION OF THE STATUS OF AN
ILLEGITIMATE CHILD SHOULD BE FILED DURING THE
LIFETIMEOFTHEPUTATIVEPARENT,INUTTERDISREGARD
OF THE RULING OF THIS HONORABLE COURT IN THE
UYGUANGCOCASETHATTHECIVILCODEPROVISIONHAD
BEEN SUPERSEDED, OR AT LEAST MODIFIED BY THE
CORRESPONDINGARTICLESINTHEFAMILYCODE.
D
RESPONDENT
COURT
ERRED
IN
DISMISSING
PETITIONERS PETITION FOR PROHIBITION AND IN
HOLDING THAT PETITIONERS REMEDY IS THAT OF AN
4
APPEALWHICHALLEGEDLYHADALREADYBEENLOST.

Privaterespondentsactionforcompulsoryrecognitionasan
illegitimate child was brought under Book I, Title VIII of
the Civil Code on PERSONS, specifically Article 285
thereof, which state the manner by which illegitimate
childrenmayprovetheirfiliation,towit:
Art.285.Theactionfortherecognitionofnaturalchildrenmaybe
broughtonlyduringthelifetimeofthepresumedparents,exceptin
thefollowingcases:
(1) Ifthefatherormotherdiedduringtheminorityofthechild,
in which case the latter may file the action before the
expirationoffouryearsfromtheattainmentofhismajority;
xxxxxx.

Petitioners,ontheotherhand,submitthatwiththeadvent
oftheNewFamilyCodeonAugust3,1988,thetrialcourt
lost
_______________
4Rollo,p.55.

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VOL.254,MARCH13,1996

717

Aruego, Jr. vs. Court of Appeals


jurisdictionoverthecomplaintofprivaterespondentonthe

ground of prescription, considering that under Article 175,


paragraph 2, in relation to Article 172 of the New Family
Code, it is provided that an action for compulsory
recognitionofillegitimatefiliation,ifbasedontheopenand
continuouspossessionofthestatusofanillegitimatechild,
must be brought during the lifetime of the alleged parent
without any exception, otherwise the action will be barred
byprescription.Thelawcitedreads:
Article172.Thefiliationoflegitimatechildrenisestablishedbyany
ofthefollowing:
(1) Therecordofbirthappearinginthecivilregisterorafinal
judgment;or
(2) Anadmissionoflegitimatefiliationinapublicdocumentor
aprivatehandwritteninstrumentandsignedbytheparent
concerned.
Intheabsenceoftheforegoingevidence,thelegitimatefiliation
shallbeprovedby:
(1) The open and continuous possession of the status of a
legitimate child;or
(2) AnyothermeansallowedbytheRulesofCourtandspecial
laws.
Article175.Illegitimatechildrenmayestablishtheirillegitimate
filiation in the same way and on the same evidence as legitimate
children.
The action must be brought within the same period specified in
Article173[duringthelifetimeofthechild],except when the action
is based on the second paragraph of Article 172, in which case the
action may be brought during the lifetime of the alleged parent.

In the case at bench, petitioners point out that, since the


complaintofprivaterespondentandherallegedsisterwas
filedonMarch7,1983,oralmostone(1)yearafterthedeath
oftheirpresumedfatheronMarch30,1982,theactionhas
clearly prescribed under the new rule as provided in the
FamilyCode.Petitioners,further,maintainthatevenifthe
actionwasfiledpriortotheeffectivityoftheFamilyCode,
this
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SUPREMECOURTREPORTSANNOTATED
Aruego, Jr. vs. Court of Appeals

new law must be applied to the instant case pursuant to


Article256oftheFamilyCodewhichprovides:
This Code shall have retroactive effect insofar as it does not
prejudiceorimpairvestedoracquiredrightsinaccordancewiththe
CivilCodeorotherlaws.

The basic question that must be resolved in this case,


therefore,appearstobe:ShouldtheprovisionsoftheFamily
Codebeappliedintheinstantcase?AsacorollaryWillthe
application of the Family Code in this case prejudice or

impairanyvestedrightoftheprivaterespondentsuchthat
it should not be given retroactive effect in this particular
case?
ThephrasevestedoracquiredrightsunderArticle256,
isnotdefinedbytheFamilyCode.TheCommitteedidnot
define what is meant by a vested or acquired right, thus
leavingittothecourtstodeterminewhatitmeansaseach
particular issue is submitted to them. It is difficult to
provide the answer5 for each and every question that may
ariseinthefuture.
6
InTayagvs.CourtofAppeals, acasewhichinvolvesa
similar complaint denominated as Claim for Inheritance
buttreatedbythiscourtasonetocompelrecognitionasan
illegitimate child brought prior to the effectivity of the
Family Code by the mother of the minor child, and based
alsoontheopenandcontinuouspossessionofthestatusof
anillegitimatechild,wehadoccasiontorulethat:
Underthecircumstancesobtaininginthecaseatbar,weholdthat
therightofactionoftheminorchildhasbeenvestedbythefilingof
thecomplaintincourtundertheregimeoftheCivilCodeandprior
totheeffectivityoftheFamilyCode.Wehereinadoptourrulingin
therecentcaseofRepublicofthePhilippines vs. Court of Appeals,
7
etal., whereweheldthatthe fact of filing of the petition already
vested in the petitioner her right to file it and to have the
_______________
5 SempioDiy, Alicia V., Handbook on the Family Code of the Philippines,

1988ed.,p.325.
6209SCRA665[1992].
7205SCRA356[1992].

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VOL.254,MARCH13,1996

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Aruego, Jr. vs. Court of Appeals


same proceed to final adjudication in accordance with the law in
force at the time, and such right can no longer be prejudiced or
impaired by the enactment of a new law.
xxxxxx
Accordingly, Article 175 of the Family Code finds no proper
application to the instant case since it will ineluctably affect
adversely a right of private respondent and, consequentially, of the
minor child she represents, both of which have been vested with the
filing of the complaint in court.Thetrialcourtis,therefore,correct
in applying the provisions of Article 285 of the Civil Code and in
holding that private respondents cause of action has not yet
prescribed.

Tayag applies foursquare with the case at bench. The


action brought by private respondent Antonia Aruego for
compulsory recognition and enforcement of successional
rights which was filed prior to the advent of the Family
Code,mustbegovernedbyArticle285oftheCivilCodeand
not by Article 175, paragraph 2 of the Family Code. The
presentlawcannotbegivenretroactiveeffectinsofarasthe
instant case is concerned, as its application will prejudice

the vested right of private respondent to have her case


decidedunderArticle285oftheCivilCode.Therightwas
vestedtoherbythefactthatshefiledheractionunderthe
regime of the Civil Code. Prescinding from this, the
conclusion then ought to be that the action was not yet
barred,notwithstandingthefactthatitwasbroughtwhen
the putative father was already deceased, since private
respondent was then still a minor when it was filed, an
exceptiontothegeneralruleprovidedunderArticle285of
the Civil Code. Hence, the trial court, which acquired
jurisdiction over the case by the filing of the complaint,
neverlostjurisdictionoverthesamedespitethepassageof
E.O. No. 209, also known as the Family Code of the
Philippines.
Our ruling herein reinforces the principle that the
jurisdiction of a court, whether in criminal or civil cases,
onceattachedcannotbeoustedbysubsequenthappenings
or events, although of a character which would have
prevented jurisdiction from attaching in the first instance,
anditretainsjuris
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SUPREMECOURTREPORTSANNOTATED
Aruego, Jr. vs. Court of Appeals
8

dictionuntilitfinallydisposesofthecase.
WHEREFORE,thepetitionisDENIEDandthedecision
of the Court of Appeals dated August 31, 1993 and its
ResolutiondatedOctober13,1993areherebyAFFIRMED.
SOORDERED.
Padilla (Chairman), Bellosillo and Kapunan, JJ.,
concur.
Vitug, J.,IalsobelievethattheCourtofAppealsdid
noterrinholdingthatthepetitionbeforeitdidnotinvolve
aquestionofjurisdictionandcannotthusbeasubstitutefor
alostappeal.
Petition denied, judgment affirmed.
Notes.The Family Code cannot be given retroactive
effectbecauseitwillprejudicethevestedrightsoftheheirs
transmittedtothematthetimeofthedeathoftheirfather.
(Marquino vs. Intermediate Appellate Court,233SCRA348
[1994])
Article 992 of the Civil Code enunciates what is so
commonly referred to in the rules on succession as the
principle of absolute separation between the legitimate
familyandtheillegitimatefamily.(Manuel vs. Ferrer,247
SCRA476[1995])
o0o
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8

Regalado, Florenz D., Remedial Law Compendium, Volume One,

FifthRevisedEdition,p.9citingRamos,etal.v.CentralBank,L29352,
October 4, 1971; Dioquino v. Cruz, et al., L38579, September 9, 1982;

Republicv.Pielago,etal.,G.R.No.72218,July21,1986.
721

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