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RepublicofthePhilippines
SUPREMECOURT
Manila
SECONDDIVISION
G.R.No.159785April27,2007
TEOFISTOI.VERCELES,Petitioner,
vs.
MARIACLARISSAPOSADA,inherownbehalf,andasmotherofminorVERNAAIZAPOSADA,
CONSTANTINOPOSADAandFRANCISCAPOSADA,Respondents.
DECISION
QUISUMBING,J.:
ThispetitionforreviewseeksthereversaloftheDecision1datedMay30,2003andtheResolution2datedAugust
27,2003oftheCourtofAppealsinCAG.R.CVNo.50557.Theappellatecourthadaffirmedwithmodificationthe
Judgment3 dated January 4, 1995 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Virac, Catanduanes, Branch 42, in Civil
CaseNo.1401.TheRTCheldpetitionerliabletopaymonthlysupporttoVernaAizaPosadasinceherbirthon
September23,1987aswellasmoralandexemplarydamages,attorneysfeesandcostsofsuit.
Thefactsinthiscaseasfoundbythelowercourtsareasfollows:
RespondentMariaClarissaPosada(Clarissa),ayounglassfromthebarrioofPandan,Catanduanes,sometime
in1986metaclosefamilyfriend,petitionerTeofistoI.Verceles,mayorofPandan.HethencalledonthePosadas
andattheendofthevisit,offeredClarissaajob.
ClarissaacceptedpetitionersofferandworkedasacasualemployeeinthemayorsofficestartingonSeptember
1,1986.FromNovember10to15in1986,withcompanionsAsterdeQuiros,PatdelValle,JaimeandJocelyn
Vargas, she accompanied petitioner to Legaspi City to attend a seminar on town planning. They stayed at the
MayonHotel.
On November 11, 1986, at around 11:00 a.m., petitioner fetched Clarissa from "My Brothers Place" where the
seminar was being held. Clarissa avers that he told her that they would have lunch at Mayon Hotel with their
companionswhohadgoneahead.Whentheyreachedtheplacehercompanionswerenowhere.Afterpetitioner
ordered food, he started making amorous advances on her. She panicked, ran and closeted herself inside a
comfortroomwhereshestayeduntilsomeoneknocked.Shesaidshehurriedlyexitedandleftthehotel.Afraidof
themayor,shekepttheincidenttoherself.Shewentonascasualemployee.Oneofhertaskswasfollowingup
barangayroadandmaintenanceprojects.
OnDecember22,1986,onordersofpetitioner,shewenttoVirac,Catanduanes,tofollowupfundsforbarangay
projects. At around 11:00 a.m. the same day, she went to Catanduanes Hotel on instructions of petitioner who
askedtobebriefedontheprogressofhermission.Theymetatthelobbyandheledherupstairsbecausehe
saidhewantedthebriefingdoneattherestaurantattheupperfloor.
Instead, however, petitioner opened a hotel room door, led her in, and suddenly embraced her, as he told her
that he was unhappy with his wife and would "divorce" her anytime. He also claimed he could appoint her as a
municipaldevelopmentcoordinator.Shesuccumbedtohisadvances.Butagainshekepttheincidenttoherself.
SometimeinJanuary1987,whenshemissedhermenstruation,shesaidshewrotepetitionerthatshefearedshe
was pregnant. In another letter in February 1987, she told him she was pregnant. In a handwritten letter dated
February4,1987,hereplied:
MydarlingChris,
Should you become pregnant even unexpectedly, I should have no regret, because I love you and
youloveme.
LetusrejoiceacommonresponsibilityyouandIshalltakecareofitandlethim/herseethelightof
thisbeautifulworld.
Weknowwhattodotoprotectourhonorandintegrity.
Justrelaxandbehappy,iftrue.

Withallmylove,
Ninoy
2/4/874
Clarissa explained petitioner used an alias "Ninoy" and addressed her as "Chris," probably because of their
twentyfive(25)yearagegap.Incourt,sheidentifiedpetitionerspenmanshipwhichsheclaimsshewasfamiliar
withasanemployeeinhisoffice.
Clarissapresentedthreeotherhandwrittenletters5senttoherbypetitioner,twoofwhichwereinhisletterheadas
mayorofPandan.Shealsopresentedthepictures6petitionergaveherofhisyouthandasapublicservant,all
bearinghishandwrittennotationsattheback.
ClarissaaversthatonMarch3,1987,petitioner,awareofherpregnancy,handedheraletterandP2,000pocket
moneytogotoManilaandtotellherparentsthatshewouldenrollinaCPAreviewcourseorlookforajob.In
June1987,petitionerwenttoseeherinManilaandgaveheranotherP2,000forherdelivery.Whenherparents
learned of her pregnancy, sometime in July, her father fetched her and brought her back to Pandan. On
September23,1987,7shegavebirthtoababygirl,VernaAizaPosada.
Clarissasmother,Francisca,corroboratedClarissasstory.Shesaidtheylearnedoftheirdaughterspregnancy
through her husbands cousin. She added that she felt betrayed by petitioner and shamed by her daughters
pregnancy.
The Posadas filed a Complaint for Damages coupled with Support Pendente Lite before the RTC, Virac,
CatanduanesagainstpetitioneronOctober23,1987.8
On January 4, 1995, the trial court issued a judgment in their favor, the dispositive portion of which reads as
follows:
WHEREFORE,inviewoftheforegoing,judgmentisherebyrenderedinfavorofthe[respondents]andagainstthe
[petitioner]andorderingthelatter:
1.topayamonthlysupportofP2,000.00toVernaAizaPosadasinceherbirthonSeptember23,1987as
hewasprovedtobethenaturalfatheroftheabovenamedminorasshownbytheexhibitsandtestimonies
ofthe[respondents]
2.topaytheamountofP30,000.00asmoraldamages
3.topaytheamountofP30,000.00asexemplarydamages
4.topaythesumofP10,000.00asattorneysfeesand
5.topaythecostsofthesuit.
SOORDERED.9
VercelesappealedtotheCourtofAppealswhichaffirmedthejudgmentwithmodification,specifyingthepartyto
whomthedamageswasawarded.ThedispositiveportionoftheCourtofAppealsdecisionreads:
WHEREFORE, the appealed judgment is AFFIRMED with modification by ordering [petitioner] Teofisto I.
Verceles:
1.TopayamonthlysupportofP2,000.00toVernaAizaPosadafromherbirthonSeptember23,1987.
2.Topay[respondent]MariaClarissaPosadathesumofP15,000.00asmoraldamagesand[P]15,000.00
asexemplarydamages.
3. To pay [respondents] spouses Constantino and Francisca Posada the sum of P15,000.00 as moral
damagesandP15,000.00asexemplarydamages.
4.Topayeachofthesaidthree[respondents]P10,000.00asattorneysfeesand
5.Topaythecostsofsuit.
SOORDERED.10
Hence,thispetition.
Petitionernowpresentsthefollowingissuesforresolution:
I.
WAS THERE ANY EVIDENCE ON RECORD TO PROVE THAT APPELLANT VERCELES WAS THE

FATHEROFTHECHILD?
II.
WOULDTHISACTIONFORDAMAGESPROSPER?
III.
WOULDTHERTCCOURTHAVEACQUIREDJURISDICTIONOVERTHISISSUEOFAPPELLANTS
PATERNITYOFTHECHILD,WHICHISMADECOLLATERALTOTHISACTIONFORDAMAGES?11
Insum,thepertinentissuesinthiscaseare:(1)whetherornotpaternityandfiliationcanberesolvedinanaction
fordamageswithsupportpendentelite (2) whether or not the filiation of Verna Aiza Posada as the illegitimate
childofpetitionerwasprovenand(3)whetherornotrespondentsareentitledtodamages.
InhisMemorandum,petitionerassertsthatthefactofpaternityandfiliationofVernaAizaPosadahasnotbeen
dulyestablishedorprovedintheproceedingsthattheawardfordamagesandattorneysfeeshasnobasisand
thattheissueoffiliationshouldberesolvedinadirectandnotacollateralaction.
PetitionerarguesheneversignedthebirthcertificateofVernaAizaPosadaasfatherandthatitwasrespondent
Clarissa who placed his name on the birth certificate as father without his consent. He further contends the
alleged love letters he sent to Clarissa are not admissions of paternity but mere expressions of concern and
advice.12 As to the award for damages, petitioner argues Clarissa could not have suffered moral damages
because she was in pari delicto, being a willing participant in the "consensual carnal act" between them.13 In
supportofhisargumentthattheissueonfiliationshouldhavebeenresolvedinaseparateaction,petitionercited
thecaseofRosalesv.CastilloRosales14whereweheldthatthelegitimacyofachildwhichiscontroversialcan
onlyberesolvedinadirectaction.15
Ontheotherhand,respondentsintheirMemorandummaintainthattheCourtofAppealscommittednoerrorin
itsdecision.TheyreiteratethatClarissasclearnarrationofthecircumstanceson"howshewasdeflowered"by
petitioner, the love letters and pictures given by petitioner to Clarissa, the corroborating testimony of Clarissas
mother, the fact that petitioner proffered no countervailing evidence, are preponderant evidence of paternity.
TheycitedthecaseofDeJesusv.Syquia16whereweheldthataconceivedchildcanbeacknowledgedbecause
this is an act favorable to the child.17 They also argue that damages should be awarded because petitioner
inveigledClarissatosuccumbtohissexualadvances.18
Could paternity and filiation be resolved in an action for damages? On this score, we find petitioners stance
unmeritorious. The caption is not determinative of the nature of a pleading. In a string of cases we made the
following rulings. It is not the caption but the facts alleged which give meaning to a pleading. Courts are called
upontopiercetheformandgointothesubstancethereof.19Indeterminingthenatureofanaction,itisnotthe
caption,buttheavermentsinthepetitionandthecharacterofthereliefsought,thatarecontrolling.20
AperusaloftheComplaintbeforetheRTCshowsthatalthoughitscaptionstates"DamagescoupledwithSupport
Pendente Lite," Clarissas averments therein, her meeting with petitioner, his offer of a job, his amorous
advances,herseduction,theirtrysts,herpregnancy,birthofherchild,hisletters,herdemandforsupportforher
child, all clearly establish a case for recognition of paternity. We have held that the due recognition of an
illegitimatechildinarecordofbirth,awill,astatementbeforeacourtofrecord,orinanyauthenticwritingis,in
itself, a consummated act of acknowledgement of the child, and no further court action is required. In fact, any
authenticwritingistreatednotjustagroundforcompulsoryrecognitionitisinitselfavoluntaryrecognitionthat
doesnotrequireaseparateactionforjudicialapproval.21
The letters of petitioner marked as Exhibits "A" to "D" are declarations that lead nowhere but to the conclusion
that he sired Verna Aiza. Although petitioner used an alias in these letters, the similarity of the penmanship in
theselettersvistheannotationatthebackofpetitionersfadingphotographasayouthisunmistakable.Evenan
inexperiencedeyewillcometotheconclusionthattheywereallwrittenbyoneandthesameperson,petitioner,
asfoundbythecourtsaquo.
We also note that in his Memorandum, petitioner admitted his affair with Clarissa, the exchange of love letters
betweenthem,andhisgivinghermoneyduringherpregnancy.22
Articles172and175oftheFamilyCodearetherulesforestablishingfiliation.Theyareasfollows:
Art.172.Thefiliationoflegitimatechildrenisestablishedbyanyofthefollowing:
(1)Therecordofbirthappearinginthecivilregisterorafinaljudgmentor
(2)Anadmissionoflegitimatefiliationinapublicdocumentoraprivatehandwritteninstrumentandsigned
bytheparentconcerned.
Intheabsenceoftheforegoingevidence,thelegitimatefiliationshallbeprovedby:
(1)Theopenandcontinuouspossessionofthestatusofalegitimatechildor

(2)AnyothermeansallowedbytheRulesofCourtandspeciallaws.
Art.175.Illegitimatechildrenmayestablishtheirillegitimatefiliationinthesamewayandonthesameevidence
aslegitimatechildren.
TheactionmustbebroughtwithinthesameperiodspecifiedinArticle173,exceptwhentheactionisbasedon
thesecondparagraphofArticle172,inwhichcasetheactionmaybebroughtduringthelifetimeofthealleged
parent.
Theletters,oneofwhichisquotedabove,areprivatehandwritteninstrumentsofpetitionerwhichestablishVerna
Aizas filiation under Article 172 (2) of the Family Code. In addition, the array of evidence presented by
respondents, the dates, letters, pictures and testimonies, to us, are convincing, and irrefutable evidence that
VernaAizais,indeed,petitionersillegitimatechild.
Petitionernotonlyfailedtorebuttheevidencepresented,hehimselfpresentednoevidenceofhisown.Hisbare
denials are telling. Wellsettled is the rule that denials, if unsubstantiated by clear and convincing evidence, are
negative and selfserving which merit no weight in law and cannot be given greater evidentiary value over the
testimonyofcrediblewitnesseswhotestifyonaffirmativematters.23
We,however,cannotrulethatrespondentsareentitledtodamages.Article221924oftheCivilCodewhichstates
moraldamagesmayberecoveredincasesofseductionisinapplicableinthiscasebecauseClarissawasalready
anadultatthetimeshehadanaffairwithpetitioner.
Neithercanherparentsbeentitledtodamages.Besides,thereisnothinginlaworjurisprudencethatentitlesthe
parents of a consenting adult who begets a love child to damages. Respondents Constantino and Francisca
Posadahavenotcitedanylaworjurisprudencetojustifyawardingdamagestothem.
We,however,affirmthegrantofattorneysfeesinconsonancewithArticle2208(2)25and(11)26oftheNewCivil
Code.
WHEREFORE,theassailedDecisiondatedMay30,2003andtheResolutiondatedAugust27,2003oftheCourt
ofAppealsinCAG.R.CVNo.50557areAFFIRMED,withtheMODIFICATIONthattheawardofmoraldamages
andexemplarydamagesbeDELETED.
SOORDERED.
LEONARDOA.QUISUMBING
AssociateJustice
WECONCUR:
ANTONIOT.CARPIO
AssociateJustice
CONCHITACARPIOMORALES
AssociateJustice

DANTEO.TINGA
AsscociateJustice

PRESBITEROJ.VELASCO,JR.
AssociateJustice
ATTESTATION
I attest that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was
assignedtothewriteroftheopinionoftheCourtsDivision.
LEONARDOA.QUISUMBING
AssociateJustice
Chairperson
CERTIFICATION
PursuanttoSection13,ArticleVIIIoftheConstitutionandtheDivisionChairpersonsAttestation,Icertifythatthe
conclusionsintheaboveDecisionhadbeenreachedinconsultationbeforethecasewasassignedtothewriterof
theopinionoftheCourtsDivision.
REYNATOS.PUNO
ChiefJustice

Footnotes
1Rollo,pp.2238.

2Id.at41.
3CArollo,pp.2731.
4Exhibit"A,"records,p.75.
5Exhibits"B,""C,"and"D,"records,pp.7678.
6Exhibits"E"to"R,"records,pp.7992.
7Exhibit"U,"records,p.95.
8Records,pp.17.
9CArollo,p.31.
10Rollo,pp.3738.
11Id.at179.
12Id.at181183.
13Id.at189190.
14No.L31712,September28,1984,132SCRA132.
15Id.at141.
1658Phil.866(1933).
17Id.at868.
18Rollo,p.169.
19IO.Herrera,remediallaw495(2000Edition).
20Floresv.OfficeoftheOmbudsman,G.R.No.136769,September17,2000,389SCRA127,132.
21 Eceta v. Eceta, G.R. No. 157037, May 20, 2004, 428 SCRA 782, 786, citing De Jesus v. Estate of

DecedentJuanGamboaDizon,G.R.No.142877,October2,2001,366SCRA499,503.
22Rollo,p.178.
23Carpiov.Valmonte,G.R.No.151866,September9,2004,438SCRA38,4344.
24Art.2219.Moraldamagesmayberecoveredinthefollowingandanalogouscases:

(1)Acriminaloffenseresultinginphysicalinjuries
(2)Quasidelictscausingphysicalinjuries
(3)Seduction,abduction,rape,orotherlasciviousacts
(4)Adulteryorconcubinage
(5)Illegalorarbitrarydetentionorarrest
(6)Illegalsearch
(7)Libel,slanderoranyotherformofdefamation
(8)Maliciousprosecution
(9)ActsmentionedinArticle309
(10)ActsandactionsreferredtoinArticles21,26,27,28,29,30,32,34,and35.
Theparentsofthefemaleseduced,abducted,raped,orabused,referredtoinNo.3ofthisarticle,
mayalsorecovermoraldamages.
The spouse, descendants, ascendants, and brother and sisters may bring the action mentioned in
No.9ofthisarticle,intheordernamed.

25 Art. 2208. In the absence of stipulation, attorneys fees and expenses of litigation, other than judicial

costs,cannotberecovered,except:
xxxx
(2)Whenthedefendantsactoromissionhascompelledtheplaintifftolitigatewiththirdpersonsorto
incurexpensestoprotecthisinterest
xxxx
26xxxx

(11)Inanyothercasewherethecourtdeemsitjustandequitablethatattorneysfeesandexpenses
oflitigationshouldberecovered.
Inallcases,theattorneysfeesandexpensesoflitigationmustbereasonable.
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