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THIRD DIVISION

Because of her condition, she was again told to go home and they did not see each other
anymore.

[G.R. No. 124814. October 21, 2004]


CAMELO

CABATANIA, petitioner,
REGODOS, respondents.

vs. COURT

OF

APPEALS

and

CAMELO

Petitioner was therefore surprised when summons was served on him by Florencias counsel.
She was demanding support for private respondent Camelo Regodos. Petitioner refused, denying
the alleged paternity. He insisted she was already pregnant when they had sex. He denied going to
Bacolod City with her and checking in at the Visayan Motel. He vehemently denied having sex with
her on January 2, 1982 and renting a house for her in Singcang, Bacolod City.

DECISION
CORONA, J.:

After trial, the court a quo gave more probative weight to the testimony of Florencia despite
its discovery that she misrepresented herself as a widow when, in reality, her husband was alive.
Deciding in favor of private respondent, the trial court declared:

Before us is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court assailing
the March 15, 1996 decision[1] of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. 36708 which in turn affirmed the
decision of the Regional Trial Court of Cadiz City, Branch 60 in Spec. Proc. No. 88-C which
compelled petitioner Camelo Cabatania to acknowledge private respondent Camelo Regodos as
his illegitimate son and to give support to the latter in the amount of P 500 per month.

The child was presented before the Court, and if the Court is to decide this case, based on the
personal appearance of the child then there can never be a doubt that the plaintiff-minor is the
child of the defendant with plaintiff-minors mother, Florencia Regodos.
xxx xxx xxx

This controversy stemmed from a petition for recognition and support filed by Florencia
Regodos in behalf of her minor son, private respondent Camelo Regodos.
During the trial, Florencia testified that she was the mother of private respondent who was
born on September 9, 1982 and that she was the one supporting the child. She recounted that
after her husband left her in the early part of 1981, she went to Escalante, Negros Occidental to
look for work and was eventually hired as petitioners household help. It was while working there as
a maid that, on January 2, 1982, petitioner brought her to Bacolod City where they checked in at
the Visayan Motel and had sexual intercourse. Petitioner promised to support her if she got
pregnant.
Florencia claimed she discovered she was carrying petitioners child 27 days after their
sexual encounter. The sexual intercourse was repeated in March 1982 in San Carlos City. Later, on
suspicion that Florencia was pregnant, petitioners wife sent her home. But petitioner instead
brought her to Singcang, Bacolod City where he rented a house for her. On September 9, 1982,
assisted by a hilot in her aunts house in Tiglawigan, Cadiz City, she gave birth to her child, private
respondent Camelo Regodos.
Petitioner Camelo Cabatanias version was different. He testified that he was a sugar planter
and a businessman. Sometime in December, 1981, he hired Florencia as a servant at home.
During the course of her employment, she would often go home to her husband in the afternoon
and return to work the following morning. This displeased petitioners wife, hence she was told to
look for another job.
In the meantime, Florencia asked permission from petitioner to go home and spend New
Years Eve in Cadiz City. Petitioner met her on board the Ceres bus bound for San Carlos City and
invited her to dinner. While they were eating, she confided that she was hard up and petitioner
offered to lend her save money. Later, they spent the night in San Carlos City and had sexual
intercourse. While doing it, he felt something jerking and when he asked her about it, she told him
she was pregnant with the child of her husband. They went home the following day.
In March 1982, Florencia, then already working in another household, went to petitioners
house hoping to be re-employed as a servant there. Since petitioners wife was in need of one, she
was re-hired. However petitioners wife noticed that her stomach was bulging and inquired about
the father of the unborn child. She told petitioners wife that the baby was by her husband.

In view of the evidence presented by the plaintiff, the Court finds the evidence of the plaintiff in
support of the claim to be meritorious; defendant admitted having a sexual intercourse with the
plaintiffs mother, Florencia Regodos, but denied paternity to the child. The child was presented
before the Court, and if the Court is to decide this case, based on the personal appearance of the
child, then there can never be a doubt that the plaintiff-minor is the child of the defendant with
plaintiff-minors mother, Florencia Regodos. [2]
On appeal, the Court of Appeals affirmed the RTC:
The misrepresentation made by Florencia in the petition that she was a widow should not prejudice
the right of petitioner-appellee. As held by the Supreme Court, even where a witness has been
found to have deliberately falsified the truth in some particulars, it is not required that the whole
of her testimony be rejected (People vs. Bohol, 170 SCRA 585). It is perfectly reasonable to believe
the testimony of a witness with respect to some facts and disbelieve it with respect to other facts
(People vs. Delas, 199 SCRA 574, 575). There is therefore no reason to disbelieve Florencia that
her first intercourse with appellant occurred on January 2, 1982 and nine (9) months later or on
September 9, 1982, she gave birth to appellee (TSN, Hearing of June 10, 1991 and Exhibit A).
In the absence of arbitrariness in the evaluation of the evidence adduced before the trial court and
there being no evidence that the latter had overlooked or misappreciated, we find no cogent
reason to disturb the trial courts findings.
WHEREFORE, the appealed decision is AFFIRMED.[3]
Hence this petition which assigns the following errors:
A. THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN ITS APPLICATION OF ARTICLE 283 OF THE CIVIL
CODE ON THE COMPULSORY RECOGNITION AND AWARD OF SUPPORT IN FAVOR OF
RESPONDENT-APPELLEE CAMELO REGODOS;
B. THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN ITS DECISION BASED ON THE EVIDENCE
ADDUCED BY RESPONDENT CAMELO REGODOS BEFORE THE TRIAL COURT.[4]

Clearly, this petition calls for a review of the factual findings of the two lower courts. As a
general rule, factual issues are not within the province of this Court. Factual findings of the trial
court, when adopted and confirmed by the Court of Appeals, become final and conclusive and may
not be reviewed on appeal except (1) when the inference made is manifestly mistaken, absurd or
impossible; (2) when there is a grave abuse of discretion; (3) when the finding is grounded entirely
on speculation, surmises or conjectures; (4) when the judgment of the Court of Appeals is based
on misapprehension of facts; (5) when the findings of fact are conflicting; (6) when the Court of
Appeals, in making its findings, goes beyond the issues of the case and the same is contrary to the
admissions of both appellant and appellee; (7) when the findings of the Court of Appeals are
contrary to those of the trial court; (8) when the findings of fact are conclusions without citation of
specific evidence on which they are based; (9) when the Court of Appeals manifestly overlooks
certain relevant facts not disputed by the parties and which, if properly considered, justifies a
different conclusion, and (10) when the findings of fact of the Court of Appeals are premised on
the absence of evidence and are contradicted by the evidence on record. The Court is convinced
that this case falls within one of the exceptions.[5]
The trial courts finding of a paternal relationship between petitioner and private respondent
was based on the testimony of the childs mother and the personal appearance of the child.
Time and again, this Court has ruled that a high standard of proof is required to establish
paternity and filiation.[6] An order for recognition and support may create an unwholesome
situation or may be an irritant to the family or the lives of the parties so that it must be issued only
if paternity or filiation is established by clear and convincing evidence. [7]
The applicable provisions of the law are Articles 172 and 175 of the Civil Code:
Art. 172. The filiation of legitimate children is established by any of the following:
(1) The record of birth appearing in the civil register or a final judgment; or
(2) An admission of legitimate filiation in a public document or a private handwritten
instrument and signed by the parent concerned.
In the absence of the foregoing evidence, the legitimate filiation shall be proved by:

In the same vein, we have ruled that, while a baptismal certificate may be considered a
public document, it can only serve as evidence of the administration of the sacrament on the date
specified but not the veracity of the entries with respect to the childs paternity. [9] Thus, certificates
issued by the local civil registrar and baptismal certificates are per seinadmissible in evidence as
proof of filiation and they cannot be admitted indirectly as circumstantial evidence to prove the
same.[10]
Aside from Florencias self-serving testimony that petitioner rented a house for her in
Singcang, Bacolod City, private respondent failed to present sufficient proof of voluntary
recognition.
We now proceed to the credibility of Florencias testimony. Both the trial court and the
appellate court brushed aside the misrepresentation of Florencia in the petition for recognition that
she was a widow. Both courts dismissed the lie as minor which did not affect the rest of her
testimony. We disagree. The fact that Florencias husband is living and there is a valid subsisting
marriage between them gives rise to the presumption that a child born within that marriage is
legitimate even though the mother may have declared against its legitimacy or may have been
sentenced as an adulteress.[11] The presumption of legitimacy does not only flow out of a
declaration in the statute but is based on the broad principles of natural justice and the supposed
virtue of the mother. The presumption is grounded on the policy to protect innocent offspring from
the odium of illegitimacy.[12]
In this age of genetic profiling and deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) analysis, the extremely
subjective test of physical resemblance or similarity of features will not suffice as evidence to
prove paternity and filiation before the courts of law.
WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby GRANTED. The assailed decision of the Court of
Appeals in CA-G.R. 36708 dated March 15, 1996, affirming the decision of the Regional Trial Court
of Cadiz City, Branch 60, in Spec. Proc. No. 88-C is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Private respondents
petition for recognition and support is dismissed.
SO ORDERED.
Panganiban, (Chairman), Sandoval-Gutierrez, Carpio-Morales and Garcia, JJ., concur.

(1) The open and continuous possession of the status of a legitimate child; or
SECOND DIVISION
(2) Any other means allowed by the Rules of Court and special laws.

TEOFISTO I. VERCELES,
Petitioner,

G.R. No. 159785


Present:

Art. 175. Illegitimate children may establish their illegitimate filiation in the same way and on the
same evidence as legitimate children.
- versus xxx xxx xxx
Private respondent presented a copy of his birth and baptismal certificates, the preparation
of which was without the knowledge or consent of petitioner. A certificate of live birth purportedly
identifying the putative father is not competent evidence of paternity when there is no showing
that the putative father had a hand in the preparation of said certificate. The local civil registrar
has no authority to record the paternity of an illegitimate child on the information of a third
person.[8]

MARIA CLARISSA POSADA, in her own behalf, and as


mother of minor VERNA AIZA POSADA, CONSTANTINO
POSADA and FRANCISCA POSADA,
Respondents.

QUISUMBING, J., Chairperson,


CARPIO,
CARPIO MORALES,
TINGA, and
VELASCO, JR., JJ.

Promulgated:
April 27, 2007

x--------------------------------------------------x

DECISION
QUISUMBING, J.:
This petition for review seeks the reversal of the Decision [1] dated May 30, 2003 and the
Resolution[2] dated August 27, 2003 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 50557. The
appellate court had affirmed with modification the Judgment [3] dated January 4, 1995 of the
Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Virac, Catanduanes, Branch 42, in Civil Case No. 1401. The RTC held
petitioner liable to pay monthly support to Verna Aiza Posada since her birth on September 23,
1987 as well as moral and exemplary damages, attorneys fees and costs of suit.
The facts in this case as found by the lower courts are as follows:
Respondent Maria Clarissa Posada (Clarissa), a young lass from the barrio of Pandan,
Catanduanes, sometime in 1986 met a close family friend, petitioner Teofisto I. Verceles, mayor of
Pandan. He then called on the Posadas and at the end of the visit, offered Clarissa a job.
Clarissa accepted petitioners offer and worked as a casual employee in the mayors
office starting on September 1, 1986. From November 10 to 15 in 1986, with companions Aster de
Quiros, Pat del Valle, Jaime and Jocelyn Vargas, she accompanied petitioner to Legaspi City to
attend a seminar on town planning. They stayed at the Mayon Hotel.
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 companions who had gone ahead. When they reached the
place her companions were nowhere. After petitioner ordered food, he started making amorous
advances on her. She panicked, ran and closeted herself inside a comfort room where she stayed
until someone knocked. She said she hurriedly exited and left the hotel. Afraid of the mayor, she
kept the incident to herself. She went on as casual employee. One of her tasks was followingup barangay road and maintenance projects.
On December 22, 1986, on orders of petitioner, she went to Virac, Catanduanes, to
follow up funds for barangay projects. At around 11:00 a.m. the same day, she went to
Catanduanes Hotel on instructions of petitioner who asked to be briefed on the progress of her
mission. They met at the lobby and he led her upstairs because he said he wanted the briefing
done at the restaurant at the upper floor.
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 municipal development coordinator. She
succumbed to his advances. But again she kept the incident to herself.
Sometime in January 1987, when she missed her menstruation, she said she wrote
petitioner that she feared she was pregnant. In another letter in February 1987, she told him she
was pregnant. In a handwritten letter dated February 4, 1987, he replied:
My darling Chris,
Should you become pregnant even unexpectedly, I should have no
regret, because I love you and you love me.
Let us rejoice a common responsibility you and I shall take care of it
and let him/her see the light of this beautiful world.
We know what to do to protect our honor and integrity.
Just relax and be happy, if true.
With all my love,
Ninoy
2/4/87[4]
Clarissa explained petitioner used an alias Ninoy and addressed her as Chris, probably
because of their twenty-five (25)-year age gap. In court, she identified petitioners penmanship
which she claims she was familiar with as an employee in his office.
Clarissa presented three other handwritten letters[5] sent to her by petitioner, two of
which were in his letterhead as mayor of Pandan. She also presented the pictures[6]petitioner gave
her of his youth and as a public servant, all bearing his handwritten notations at the back.

Clarissa avers that on March 3, 1987, petitioner, aware of her pregnancy, handed her a
letter and P2,000 pocket money to go to Manila and to tell her parents that she would enroll in a
CPA review course or look for a job. In June 1987, petitioner went to see her in Manila and gave her
another P2,000 for her delivery. When her parents learned of her pregnancy, sometime in July, her
father fetched her and brought her back to Pandan. On September 23, 1987,[7] she gave birth to a
baby girl, Verna Aiza Posada.
Clarissas mother, Francisca, corroborated Clarissas story. She said they learned of their
daughters pregnancy 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, Catanduanes against petitioner on October 23, 1987.[8]
On January 4, 1995, the trial court issued a judgment in their favor, the dispositive
portion of which reads as follows:
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, judgment is hereby rendered
in favor of the [respondents] and against the [petitioner] and ordering the
latter:
1. to pay a monthly support of P2,000.00 to Verna Aiza Posada since her
birth on September 23, 1987 as he was proved to be the natural
father of the above-named minor as shown by the exhibits and
testimonies of the [respondents];
2. to pay the amount of P30,000.00 as moral damages;
3. to pay the amount of P30,000.00 as exemplary damages;
4. to pay the sum of P10,000.00 as attorneys fees; and
5. to pay the costs of the suit.
SO ORDERED.[9]
Verceles appealed to the Court of Appeals which affirmed the judgment with
modification, specifying the party to whom the damages was awarded. The dispositive portion of
the Court of Appeals decision reads:
WHEREFORE,
the
appealed
judgment
is AFFIRMED with
modification by ordering [petitioner] Teofisto I. Verceles:
1. To pay a monthly support of P2,000.00 to Verna Aiza Posada from her
birth on September 23, 1987.
2. To pay [respondent] Maria Clarissa Posada the sum of P15,000.00 as
moral damages and [P]15,000.00 as exemplary damages.
3. To pay [respondents] spouses Constantino and Francisca Posada the
sum of P15,000.00 as moral damages and P15,000.00 as exemplary
damages.
4. To pay each of the said three [respondents] P10,000.00 as attorneys
fees; and
5. To pay the costs of suit.
SO ORDERED.[10]
Hence, this petition.
Petitioner now presents the following issues for resolution:
I.
WAS THERE ANY EVIDENCE ON RECORD TO PROVE THAT APPELLANT
VERCELES WAS THE FATHER OF THE CHILD?
II.
WOULD THIS ACTION FOR DAMAGES PROSPER?
III.
WOULD THE RTC COURT HAVE ACQUIRED JURISDICTION OVER THIS ISSUE OF
APPELLANTS PATERNITY OF THE CHILD, WHICH IS MADE COLLATERAL TO THIS
ACTION FOR DAMAGES?[11]
In sum, the pertinent issues in this case are: (1) whether or not paternity and filiation
can be resolved in an action for damages with support pendente lite; (2) whether or not the
filiation of Verna Aiza Posada as the illegitimate child of petitioner was proven; and (3) whether or
not respondents are entitled to damages.
In his Memorandum, petitioner asserts that the fact of paternity and filiation of Verna
Aiza Posada has not been duly established or proved in the proceedings; that the award for

damages and attorneys fees has no basis; and that the issue of filiation should be resolved in a
direct and not a collateral action.
Petitioner argues he never signed the birth certificate of Verna Aiza Posada as father and
that it was respondent 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 support of his argument that
the issue on filiation should have been resolved in a separate action, petitioner cited the case
of Rosales v. Castillo Rosales[14] where we held that the legitimacy of a child which is controversial
can only be resolved in a direct action.[15]
On the other hand, respondents in their Memorandum maintain that the Court of
Appeals committed no error in its decision. They reiterate that Clarissas clear narration of the
circumstances on how she was deflowered 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. They cited the case
of De Jesus v. Syquia[16] where we held that a conceived child can be acknowledged because this is
an act favorable to the child. [17] They also argue that damages should be awarded because
petitioner inveigled Clarissa to succumb to his sexual advances.[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 upon to pierce the form and go into the substance
thereof.[19] In determining the nature of an action, it is not the caption, but the averments in the
petition and the character of the relief sought, that are controlling. [20]

Art. 175. Illegitimate children may establish their illegitimate


filiation in the same way and on the same evidence as legitimate children.
The action must be brought within the same period specified in
Article 173, 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.
The letters, one of which is quoted above, are private handwritten instruments of
petitioner which establish Verna 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 Verna Aiza is, indeed, petitioners illegitimate child.
Petitioner not only failed to rebut the evidence presented, he himself presented no
evidence of his own. His bare denials are telling. Well-settled is the rule that denials, if
unsubstantiated by clear and convincing evidence, are negative and self-serving which merit no
weight in law and cannot be given greater evidentiary value over the testimony of credible
witnesses who testify on affirmative matters.[23]
We, however, cannot rule that respondents are entitled to damages. Article 2219[24]of
the Civil Code which states moral damages may be recovered in cases of seduction is inapplicable
in this case because Clarissa was already an adult at the time she had an affair with petitioner.
Neither can her parents be entitled to damages. Besides, there is nothing in law or
jurisprudence that entitles the parents of a consenting adult who begets a love child to
damages. Respondents Constantino and Francisca Posada have not cited any law or jurisprudence
to justify awarding damages to them.
[25]

A perusal of the Complaint before the RTC shows that although its caption states
Damages coupled with Support Pendente Lite, Clarissas averments therein, her meeting with
petitioner, his offer of a job, his amorous advances, her seduction, their trysts, her pregnancy,
birth of her child, his letters, her demand for support for her child, all clearly establish a case for
recognition of paternity. We have held that the due recognition of an illegitimate child in a record
of birth, a will, a statement before a court of record, or in any authentic writing is, in itself, a
consummated act of acknowledgement of the child, and no further court action is required. In fact,
any authentic writing is treated not just a ground for compulsory recognition; it is in itself a
voluntary recognition that does not require a separate action for judicial approval. [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 these letters vis the annotation at the back of petitioners
fading photograph as a youth is unmistakable. Even an inexperienced eye will come to the
conclusion that they were all written by one and the same person, petitioner, as found by the
courts a quo.

We, however, affirm the grant of attorneys fees in consonance with Article 2208 (2)
and (11)[26] of the New Civil Code.

WHEREFORE, the assailed Decision dated May 30, 2003 and the Resolution
dated August 27, 2003 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 50557 are AFFIRMED, with the
MODIFICATION that the award of moral damages and exemplary damages be DELETED.
SO ORDERED.

WE CONCUR:
ANTONIO T. CARPIO
Associate Justice
CONCHITA CARPIO MORALES
Associate Justice

DANTE O. TINGA
Associate Justice

PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR.


Associate Justice

We also note that in his Memorandum, petitioner admitted his affair with Clarissa, the
exchange of love letters between them, and his giving her money during her pregnancy. [22]
Articles 172 and 175 of the Family Code are the rules for establishing filiation. They are
as follows:
Art. 172. The filiation of legitimate children is established by any of
the following:
(1) The record of birth appearing in the civil register or a final
judgment; or
(2) An admission of legitimate filiation in a public document or
a private handwritten instrument and signed by the parent
concerned.
In the absence of the foregoing evidence, the legitimate filiation
shall be proved by:
(1) The open and continuous possession of the
status of a legitimate child; or
(2) Any other means allowed by the Rules of Court
and special laws.

LEONARDO A

Associate Justice

ATTESTATION
I attest that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the
case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Courts Division.
LEONARDO A. QUISUMBING
Associate Justice
Chairperson
C E R T I F IC A T I O N

Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution and the Division Chairpersons Attestation, I
certify that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the
case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Courts Division.
REYNATO S. PUNO
Chief Justice

The generative facts leading to the filing of the present petition are as follows:
On 17 March 1994, petitioner Ma. Belen B. Mangonon filed, in behalf of her then minor children
Rica and Rina, a Petition for Declaration of Legitimacy and Support, with application for
support pendente lite with the RTC Makati.[3] In said petition, it was alleged that on 16 February
1975, petitioner and respondent Federico Delgado were civilly married by then City Court
Judge Eleuterio Agudo in Legaspi City, Albay. At that time, petitioner was only 21 years old while
respondent Federico was only 19 years old. As the marriage was solemnized without the required
consent per Article 85 of the New Civil Code, [4] it was annulled on 11 August 1975 by
the Quezon City Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court.[5]

FIRST DIVISION

MA. BELEN B. MANGONON, for and in behalf of


her minor children REBECCA ANGELA DELGADO
and REGINA ISABEL DELGADO.
Petitioner,

G.R. No. 125041

- versus -

HON. COURT OF APPEALS, HON. JUDGE JOSEFINA


GUEVARA-SALONGA, Presiding Judge, RTC-Makati,
Branch
149,
FEDERICO
C.
DELGADO
and
FRANCISCO C. DELGADO,

Present:

Tuition Fees US$13,000.00


Room & Board 5,000.00
Books 1,000.00
Yearly Transportation &
Meal Allowance 3,000.00
Total US$ 22,000.00
or a total of US$44,000.00, more or less, for both Rica and Rina

PANGANIBAN, C.J.*

ii) Additionally, Rica and Rina need general maintenance support each in the
amount of US$3,000.00 per year or a total of US$6,000 per year.

Chairperson,

iii) Unfortunately, petitioners monthly income from her 2 jobs is merely


US$1,200 after taxes which she can hardly give general support to Rica
and Rina, much less their required college educational support.

YNARES-SANTIAGO,**
AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ,
CALLEJO, SR., and
CHICO-NAZARIO, JJ.

Promulgated:

x- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x
DECISION

On 25 March 1976, or within seven months after the annulment of their marriage, petitioner gave
birth to twins Rica and Rina. According to petitioner, she, with the assistance of her second
husband Danny Mangonon, raised her twin daughters as private respondents had totally
abandoned them. At the time of the institution of the petition, Rica and Rina were about to enter
college in the United States of America (USA) where petitioner, together with her daughters and
second husband, had moved to and finally settled in. Rica was admitted to
the University of Massachusetts (Amherst)
while Rina was
accepted
by
the Long
Island University and Western New England College.Despite their admissions to said universities,
Rica and Rina were, however, financially incapable of pursuing collegiate education because of the
following:
i) The average annual cost for college education in the US is about
US$22,000/year, broken down as follows:

Respondents.

CHICO-NAZARIO, J.:

Before Us is a Petition for Review on Certiorari assailing the Decision[1] of the Court of Appeals
dated 20 March 1996, affirming the Order, dated 12 September 1995 [2] of the Regional Trial Court
(RTC), Branch 149, Makati, granting support pendente lite to Rebecca Angela (Rica) and Regina
Isabel (Rina), both surnamed Delgado.

June 30, 2006

iv) Neither can petitioners present husband be compelled to share in the


general support and college education of Rica and Rina since he has his own
son with petitioner and own daughter (also in college) to attend to.
v)

Worse, Rica and Rinas petitions for Federal Student


Aid have been rejected by the U.S. Department of
Education.[6]

Petitioner likewise averred that demands[7] were made upon Federico and the latters
father, Francisco,[8] for general support and for the payment of the required college education of
Rica and Rina. The twin sisters even exerted efforts to work out a settlement concerning these
matters with respondent Federico and respondent Francisco, the latter being generally known to
be financially well-off.[9] These demands, however, remained unheeded. Considering the
impending deadline for admission to college and the opening of classes, petitioner and her then
minor children had no choice but to file the petition before the trial court.
Petitioner also alleged that Rica and Rina are her legitimate daughters by respondent
Federico since the twin sisters were born within seven months from the date of the annulment of

her marriage to respondent Federico. However, as respondent Federico failed to sign the birth
certificates of Rica and Rina, it was imperative that their status as legitimate children of
respondent Federico, and as granddaughters of respondent Francisco, be judicially declared
pursuant to Article 173 of the Family Code.[10]

WHEREFORE, the petition for certiorari is hereby DISMISSED and the Order of
the lower court dated September 12, 1995 is hereby AFFIRMED.[25]
Petitioners Motion for Reconsideration was denied through the Resolution of the Court of Appeals
dated 16 May 1996.[26]

As legitimate children and grandchildren, Rica and Rina are entitled to general and
educational support under Articles 174[11] and 195(b)[12] in relation to Articles 194(1 and 2)[13] and
199(c)[14] of the Family Code. Petitioner alleged that under these provisions, in case of default on
the part of the parents, the obligation to provide support falls upon the grandparents of the
children; thus, respondent Federico, or in his default, respondent Francisco should be ordered to
provide general and educational support for Rica and Rina in the amount of US$50,000.00, more
or less, per year.

Petitioner is now before this Court claiming that the Decision of the Court of Appeals was tainted
with the following errors:
RESPONDENT COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN CONCLUDING THAT RESPONDENT
JUDGE DID NOT COMMIT GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION IN FIXING THE
AMOUNT OF MONTHLY SUPPORT PENDENTE LITE GRANTED TO PETITIONERS
CHILDREN AT A MEASLEY P5,000.00 PER CHILD.

Petitioner also claimed that she was constrained to seek support pendente lite from
private respondents - who are millionaires with extensive assets both here and abroad - in view of
the imminent opening of classes, the possibility of a protracted litigation, and Rica and Rinas lack
of financial means to pursue their college education in the USA.
In his Answer,[15] respondent Francisco stated that as the birth certificates of Rica
and Rina do not bear the signature of respondent Federico, it is essential that their legitimacy be
first established as there is no basis to claim support until a final and executory judicial declaration
has been made as to the civil status of the children. [16]Whatever good deeds he may have done to
Rica and Rina, according to respondent Francisco, was founded on pure acts of Christian
charity. He, likewise, averred that the order of liability for support under Article 199 of the Family
Code is not concurrent such that the obligation must be borne by those more closely related to the
recipient. In this case, he maintained that responsibility should rest on the shoulders of petitioner
and her second husband, the latter having voluntarily assumed the duties and responsibilities of a
natural father. Even assuming that he is responsible for support, respondent Francisco contends
that he could not be made to answer beyond what petitioner and the father could afford.
On 24 May 1994, petitioner filed a Motion to Declare Defendant (respondent herein)
Federico in Default.[17] This was favorably acted upon by the trial court in the Order dated 16 June
1994.[18]
On 5 August 1994, respondent Federico filed a Motion to Lift Order of Default alleging
that the summons and a copy of the petition were not served in his correct address. [19] Attached
thereto was his Answer[20] where he claimed that petitioner had no cause of action against
him. According to him, he left for abroad and stayed there for a long time [w]ithin the first one
hundred twenty (120) days of the three hundred days immediately preceding March 25, 1976 and
that he only came to know about the birth of Rica and Rina when the twins introduced themselves
to him seventeen years later. In order not to antagonize the two, respondent Federico claimed he
did not tell them that he could not be their father. Even assuming that Rica and Rina are, indeed,
his daughters, he alleged that he could not give them the support they were demanding as he was
only making P40,000.00 a month.
Finding sufficient ground in the motion filed by respondent Federico, the trial court lifted
its Order dated 16 June 1994 and admitted his Answer.[21]
In the meantime, on 25 April 1994, petitioner filed an Urgent Motion to Set Application
for Support Pendente Lite for Hearing because Rica and Rina both badly needed immediate
financial resources for their education. [22] This Motion was opposed by respondent Francisco.
[23]
After both parties submitted supplemental pleadings to bolster their respective positions, the
trial court resolved the motion in an Order dated 12 September 1995 in this wise:
WHEREFORE, in the light of the foregoing considerations, respondents are
hereby directed to provide a monthly support (pendente lite) of P5,000.00
each or a total of P10,000.00 for the education of Rebecca Angela and Regina
Isabel Delgado to be delivered within the first five days of each month without
need of demand.[24]
Unsatisfied with the Order of the trial court, petitioner brought the case to the Court of
Appeals via Petition for Certiorari. The Court of Appeals affirmed the holding of the trial court and
disposed the petition in the following manner:

I.
RESPONDENT COURT IGNORED EVIDENCE ON RECORD OF THE FINANCIAL
INCAPACITY OF RICA AND RINAS PARENTS IN DEFAULT OF WHOM THE
OBLIGATION TO GIVE SUPPORT DEVOLVES ON THE GRANDFATHER.
II.
IT BEING ESTABLISHED THAT THE PERSON OBLIGED TO GIVE SUPPORT
GRANDFATHER DON PACO IS UNDOUBTEDLY CAPABLE OF GIVING THE AMOUNT
DEMANDED, RESPONDENT COURT ERRED IN NOT HOLDING THAT
RESPONDENT JUDGE ACTED WITH GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION IN FIXING AN
AMOUNT OF SUPPORT PENDENTE LITE THAT IS OBVIOUSLY INADEQUATE TO
SUPPORT THE EDUCATIONAL REQUIREMENTS OF THE RECIPIENTS.[27]

At the time of the filing of the present Petition, it is alleged that Rica had already
entered Rutgers University in New Jersey with a budget of US$12,500.00 for academic year 19941995. She was able to obtain a tuition fee grant of US$1,190.00 and a Federal Stafford loan from
the US government in the amount of US$2,615.00.[28] In order to defray the remaining balance of
Ricas education for said school year, petitioner claims that she had to secure a loan under the
Federal Direct Student Loan Program.

Meanwhile, Rina entered CW Post, Long Island University, where she was expected to
spend US$20,000.00 for the school year 1994-1995. She was given a financial grant of
US$6,000.00, federal work study assistance of US$2,000.00, and a Federal Stafford loan of
US$2,625.00.[29] Again, petitioner obtained a loan to cover the remainder of Rinas school budget
for the year.
Petitioner concedes that under the law, the obligation to furnish support to Rica and Rina should
be first imposed upon their parents. She contends, however, that the records of this case
demonstrate her as well as respondent Federicos inability to give the support needed for Rica
and Rinas college education. Consequently, the obligation to provide support devolves upon
respondent Francisco being the grandfather of Rica and Rina.
Petitioner also maintains that as respondent Francisco has the financial resources to help defray
the cost of Rica and Rinas schooling, the Court of Appeals then erred in sustaining the trial courts
Order directing respondent Federico to pay Rica and Rina the amount of award P5,000.00 each as
monthly support pendente lite.
On the other hand, respondent Francisco argues that the trial court correctly declared that
petitioner and respondent Federico should be the ones to provide the support needed by their twin
daughters pursuant to Article 199 of the Family Code. He also maintains that aside from the
financial package availed of by Rica and Rina in the form of state tuition aid grant, work study
program and federal student loan program, petitioner herself was eligible for, and had availed
herself of, the federal parent loan program based on her income and properties in the USA. He,
likewise, insists that assuming he could be held liable for support, he has the option to fulfill the
obligation either by paying the support or receiving and maintaining in the dwelling here in the

Philippines the person claiming support. [30] As an additional point to be considered by this Court,
he posits the argument that because petitioner and her twin daughters are now US citizens, they
cannot invoke the Family Code provisions on support as [l]aws relating to family rights and duties,
or to the status, condition and legal capacity of persons are binding upon citizens of the
Philippines, even though living abroad.[31]
Respondent Federico, for his part, continues to deny having sired Rica and Rina by reiterating the
grounds he had previously raised before the trial court. Like his father, respondent Federico argues
that assuming he is indeed the father of the twin sisters, he has the option under the law as to
how he would provide support. Lastly, he assents with the declaration of the trial court and the
Court of Appeals that the parents of a child should primarily bear the burden of providing support
to their offspring.
The petition is meritorious.
As a preliminary matter, we deem it necessary to briefly discuss the essence of
support pendente lite. The pertinent portion of the Rules of Court on the matter provides:
Rule 61
SUPPORT PENDENTE LITE
SECTION 1. Application.- At the commencement of the proper action or
proceeding, or at any time prior to the judgment or final order, a verified
application for support pendente lite may be filed by any party stating the
grounds for the claim and the financial conditions of both parties, and
accompanied by affidavits, depositions or other authentic documents in
support thereof.
xxxx
SEC. 4. Order.- The court shall determine provisionally the pertinent facts, and
shall render such orders as justice and equity may require, having due regard
to the probable outcome of the case and such other circumstances as may aid
in the proper resolution of the question involved. If the application is granted,
the court shall fix the amount of money to be provisionally paid or such other
forms of support as should be provided, taking into account the necessities of
the applicant and the resources or means of the adverse party, and the terms
of payment or mode for providing the support. If the application is denied, the
principal case shall be tried and decided as early as possible.
Under this provision, a court may temporarily grant support pendente lite prior to the rendition of
judgment or final order. Because of its provisional nature, a court does not need to delve fully into
the merits of the case before it can settle an application for this relief. All that a court is tasked to
do is determine the kind and amount of evidence which may suffice to enable it to justly resolve
the application. It is enough that the facts be established by affidavits or other documentary
evidence appearing in the record.[32]
After the hearings conducted on this matter as well as the evidence presented, we find that
petitioner was able to establish, by prima facie proof, the filiation of her twin daughters to private
respondents and the twins entitlement to support pendente lite. In the words of the trial court
By and large, the status of the twins as children of Federico cannot be
denied. They had maintained constant communication with their
grandfather Francisco. As a matter of fact, respondent Francisco admitted
having wrote several letters to Rica and Rina (Exhs. A, B, C, D, E, F, G, G-1 to
G-30). In the
said
letters,
particularly
at the bottom
thereof,
respondentFrancisco wrote the names of Rica and Rina Delgado. He therefore
was very well aware that they bear the surname Delgado. Likewise, he
referred to himself in his letters as either Lolo Paco or Daddy Paco. In his letter
of October 13, 1989 (Exh. G-21), he said as the grandfather, am extending a
financial help of US$1,000.00. On top of this, respondent Federico even gave
the twins a treat to Hongkong during their visit to the Philippines. Indeed,
respondents, by their actuations, have shown beyond doubt that the twins are
the children of Federico.[33]
Having addressed the issue of the propriety of the trial courts grant of support pendente lite in
favor of Rica and Rina, the next question is who should be made liable for said award.

The pertinent provision of the Family Code on this subject states:


ART. 199. Whenever two or more persons are obliged to give
support, the liability shall devolve upon the following persons in the order
herein provided:
(1)
(2)
(3)
(4)

The
The
The
The

spouse;
descendants in the nearest degree;
ascendants in the nearest degree; and
brothers and sisters.

An eminent author on the subject explains that the obligation to give support rests
principally on those more closely related to the recipient. However, the more remote relatives
may be held to shoulder the responsibility should the claimant prove that those who are
called upon to provide support do not have the means to do so.[34]
In this case, both the trial court and the Court of Appeals held respondent Federico
liable to provide monthly support pendente lite in the total amount of P10,000.00 by taking
into consideration his supposed income of P30,000.00 to P40,000.00 per month. We are,
however, unconvinced as to the veracity of this ground relied upon by the trial court and the
Court of Appeals.
It is a basic procedural edict that questions of fact cannot be the proper subject of a
petition for review under Rule 45 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure. The rule finds a more
stringent application where the Court of Appeals upholds the findings of fact of the trial court; in
such a situation, this Court, as the final arbiter, is generally bound to adopt the facts as
determined by the appellate and the lower courts. This rule, however, is not ironclad as it admits
of the following recognized exceptions: (1) when the findings are grounded entirely on speculation,
surmises or conjectures; (2) when the inference made is manifestly mistaken, absurd or
impossible; (3) when there is grave abuse of discretion; (4) when the judgment is based on a
misapprehension of facts; (5) when the findings of facts are conflicting; (6) when in making its
findings the Court of Appeals went beyond the issues of the case, or its findings are contrary to the
admissions of both the appellant and the appellee; (7) when the findings are contrary to that of
the trial court; (8) when the findings are conclusions without citation of specific evidence on which
they are based; (9) when the facts set forth in the petition as well as in the petitioners main and
reply briefs are not disputed by the respondent; (10) when the findings of fact are premised on the
supposed absence of evidence and contradicted by the evidence on record; and (11) when the
Court of Appeals manifestly overlooked certain relevant facts not disputed by the parties, which, if
properly considered, would justify a different conclusion. [35] The case at bar falls within the seventh
and eleventh exceptions.
The trial court gave full credence to respondent Federicos allegation in his Answer [36] and his
testimony[37] as to the amount of his income. We have, however, reviewed the records of this case
and found them bereft of evidence to support his assertions regarding his employment and his
earning. Notably, he was even required by petitioners counsel to present to the court his income
tax return and yet the records of this case do not bear a copy of said document. [38] This, to our
mind, severely undermines the truthfulness of respondent Federicos assertion with respect to his
financial status and capacity to provide support to Rica and Rina.
In addition, respondent Francisco himself stated in the witness stand that as far as he knew, his
son, respondent Federico did not own anything
Atty. Lopez:
I have here another letter under the letter head of Mr. & Mrs. Dany Mangonon,
dated October 19, 1991 addressed to Mr. Francisco Delgado signed by
sincerely, Danny Mangonon, can you remember.
xxxx
WITNESS:
A: I do remember this letter because it really irritated me so much that I threw
it away in a waste basket. It is a very demanding letter, that is what
I do not like at all.
ATTY. LOPEZ:

Q: It is stated in this letter that I am making this request to you and not to
your son, Rico, for reasons we both are aware of. Do you know what
reason that is?
A: Yes. The reason is that my son do not have fix employment and do
not have fix salary and income and they want to depend on
the lolo.
xxxx

his granddaughters in default of their parents. It bears stressing that respondent Francisco is the
majority stockholder and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Citadel Commercial, Incorporated,
which owns and manages twelve gasoline stations, substantial real estate, and is engaged in
shipping, brokerage and freight forwarding. He is also the majority stockholder and Chairman of
the Board of Directors of Citadel Shipping which does business with Hyundai of Korea. Apart from
these, he also owns the Citadel Corporation which, in turn, owns real properties in different parts
of the country. He is likewise the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Isla Communication Co. and
he owns shares of stocks of Citadel Holdings. In addition, he owns real properties here and abroad.
[41]
It having been established that respondent Francisco has the financial means to support his
granddaughters education, he, in lieu of petitioner and respondent Federico, should be held liable
for support pendente lite.

Q: Would you have any knowledge if Federico owns a house and lot?
A: Not that I know. I do not think he has anything.
Q: How about a car?
A: Well, his car is owned by my company.[39]
Respondent Federico himself admitted in court that he had no property of his own, thus:
Q: You also mentioned that you are staying at Mayflower Building and you
further earlier testified that this building belongs to Citadel Corporation. Do
you confirm that?
A: Yes, sir.

Anent respondent Francisco and Federicos claim that they have the option under the law as to how
they could perform their obligation to support Rica and Rina, respondent Francisco insists that Rica
and Rina should move here to the Philippines to study in any of the local universities. After all, the
quality of education here, according to him, is at par with that offered in the USA. The applicable
provision of the Family Code on this subject provides:

Art. 204. The person obliged to give support shall have the option to fulfill the
obligation either by paying the allowance fixed, or by receiving and
maintaining in the family dwelling the person who has a right to receive
support. The latter alternative cannot be availed of in case there is a moral or
legal obstacle thereto.

Q: What car are you driving, Mr. Witness?


A: I am driving a lancer, sir.
Q: What car, that registered in the name of the corporation?
A: In the corporation, sir.

Under the abovecited provision, the obligor is given the choice as to how he could dispense his
obligation to give support. Thus, he may give the determined amount of support to the claimant or
he may allow the latter to stay in the family dwelling. The second option cannot be availed of in
case there are circumstances, legal or moral, which should be considered.

Q: What corporation is that?


A: Citadel Commercial, Inc., sir.
Q: What properties, if any, are registered in your name, do you have any
properties, Mr. Witness?
A: None, sir.[40] (Emphasis supplied.)
Meanwhile, respondent Francisco asserts that petitioner possessed the capacity to give support to
her twin daughters as she has gainful employment in the USA. He even went as far as to state that
petitioners income abroad, when converted to Philippine peso, was much higher than that
received by a trial court judge here in the Philippines. In addition, he claims that as she qualified
for the federal parent loan program, she could very well support the college studies of her
daughters.
We are unconvinced. Respondent Franciscos assertion that petitioner had the means to support
her daughters education is belied by the fact that petitioner was even forced by her financial
status in the USA to secure the loan from the federal government. If petitioner were really making
enough money abroad, she certainly would not have felt the need to apply for said loan. The fact
that petitioner was compelled to take out a loan is enough indication that she did not have enough
money to enable her to send her daughters to college by herself. Moreover, even Rica
and Rina themselves were forced by the circumstances they found themselves in to secure loans
under their names so as not to delay their entrance to college.
There being prima facie evidence showing that petitioner and respondent Federico are the parents
of Rica and Rina, petitioner and respondent Federico are primarily charged to support their
childrens college education. In view however of their incapacities, the obligation to furnish said
support should be borne by respondent Francisco. Under Article 199 of the Family Code,
respondent Francisco, as the next immediate relative of Rica and Rina, is tasked to give support to

In this case, this Court believes that respondent Francisco could not avail himself of the
second option. From the records, we gleaned that prior to the commencement of this action, the
relationship between respondent Francisco, on one hand, and petitioner and her twin daughters,
on the other, was indeed quite pleasant. The correspondences exchanged among them expressed
profound feelings of thoughtfulness and concern for one anothers well-being. The photographs
presented by petitioner as part of her exhibits presented a seemingly typical family celebrating
kinship. All of these, however, are now things of the past. With the filing of this case, and the
allegations hurled at one another by the parties, the relationships among the parties had certainly
been affected. Particularly difficult for Rica and Rina must be the fact that those who they had
considered and claimed as family denied having any familial relationship with them. Given all
these, we could not see Rica and Rina moving back here in the Philippines in the company of those
who have disowned them.

Finally, as to the amount of support pendente lite, we take our bearings from the provision of the
law mandating the amount of support to be proportionate to the resources or means of the giver
and to the necessities of the recipient. [42] Guided by this principle, we hold respondent Francisco
liable for half of the amount of school expenses incurred by Rica and Rina as
support pendente lite. As established by petitioner, respondent Francisco has the financial
resources to pay this amount given his various business endeavors.
Considering, however, that the twin sisters may have already been done with their education by
the time of the promulgation of this decision, we deem it proper to award support pendente lite in
arrears[43] to be computed from the time they entered college until they had finished their
respective studies.

The issue of the applicability of Article 15 of the Civil Code on petitioner and her twin daughters
raised by respondent Francisco is best left for the resolution of the trial court. After all, in case it
would be resolved that Rica and Rina are not entitled to support pendente lite, the court shall then
order the return of the amounts already paid with legal interest from the dates of actual payment.

I attest that the conclusions in the above Decision were reached in consultation before the case
was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Courts Division.
CONSUELO YNARES-SANTIAGO
Associate Justice
Acting Chairman, First Division

[44]

WHEREFORE, premises considered, this Petition is PARTIALLY GRANTED. The Decision of the
Court of Appeals dated 20 March 1996 and Resolution dated 16 May 1996 affirming the Order
dated 12 September 1995 of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 149, Makati, fixing the amount of
support pendente lite to P5,000.00
for
Rebecca
Angela
and
Regina
Isabel,
are
hereby MODIFIED in that respondent Francisco Delgado is hereby held liable for
support pendente lite in the amount to be determined by the trial court pursuant to this
Decision. Let the records of this case be remanded to the trial court for the determination of the
proper amount of support pendente lite for Rebecca Angela and Regina Isabel as well as the
arrearages due them in accordance with this Decision within ten (10) days from receipt
hereof. Concomitantly, the trial court is directed to proceed with the trial of the main case and the
immediate resolution of the same with deliberate dispatch. The RTC Judge, Branch 149, Makati, is
further directed to submit a report of his compliance with the directive regarding the
support pendente lite within ten (10) days from compliance thereof.

CERTIFICATION

Pursuant to Article VIII, Section 13 of the Constitution, and the Division Chairmans Attestation, it is
hereby certified that the conclusions in the above Decision were reached in consultation before
the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Courts Division.
REYNATO S. PUNO
Acting Chief Justice

SO ORDERED.

FIRST DIVISION
[G.R. No. 139789. May 12, 2000]
MINITA V. CHICO-NAZARIO
Associate Justice

WE CONCUR:

ERLINDA K. ILUSORIO, petitioner, vs. ERLINDA I. BILDNER and SYLVIA K. ILUSORIO, JOHN
DOE and JANE DOE, respondents. Mesm
[G.R. No. 139808. May 12, 2000]

On Official Leave
ARTEMIO V. PANGANIBAN

POTENCIANO ILUSORIO, MA. ERLINDA I. BILDNER, and SYLVIA ILUSORIO, petitioners,


vs. COURT OF APPEALS and ERLINDA K. ILUSORIO, respondents.

Chief Justice
Chairperson

DECISION
PARDO, J.:

CONSUELO YNARES-SANTIAGO MA. ALICIA AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ


May a wife secure a writ of habeas corpus to compel her husband to live with her in conjugal bliss?
The answer is no. Marital rights including coverture and living in conjugal dwelling may not be
enforced by the extra-ordinary writ of habeas corpus.

Associate Justice Associate Justice


Acting Chairman

A writ of habeas corpus extends to all cases of illegal confinement or detention,[1] or by which the
rightful custody of a person is withheld from the one entitled thereto.[2] Slx
ROMEO J. CALLEJO, SR.
Associate Justice

ATTESTATION

"Habeas corpus is a writ directed to the person detaining another, commanding him to produce
the body of the prisoner at a designated time and place, with the day and cause of his capture and
detention, to do, submit to, and receive whatsoever the court or judge awarding the writ shall
consider in that behalf."[3]

It is a high prerogative, common-law writ, of ancient origin, the great object of which is the
liberation of those who may be imprisoned without sufficient cause. [4] It is issued when one is
deprived of liberty or is wrongfully prevented from exercising legal custody over another person.[5]
The petition of Erlinda K. Ilusorio[6] is to reverse the decision[7] of the Court of Appeals and its
resolution[8] dismissing the application for habeas corpus to have the custody of her husband,
lawyer Potenciano Ilusorio and enforce consortium as the wife.
On the other hand, the petition of Potenciano Ilusorio[9] is to annul that portion of the decision of
the Court of Appeals giving Erlinda K. Ilusorio visitation rights to her husband and to enjoin Erlinda
and the Court of Appeals from enforcing the visitation rights.
The undisputed facts are as follows: Scslx
Erlinda Kalaw Ilusorio is the wife of lawyer Potenciano Ilusorio.
Potenciano Ilusorio is about 86 years of age possessed of extensive property valued at millions of
pesos. For many years, lawyer Potenciano Ilusorio was Chairman of the Board and President of
Baguio Country Club.
On July 11, 1942, Erlinda Kalaw and Potenciano Ilusorio contracted matrimony and lived together
for a period of thirty (30) years. In 1972, they separated from bed and board for undisclosed
reasons. Potenciano lived at Urdaneta Condominium, Ayala Ave., Makati City when he was in
Manila and at Ilusorio Penthouse, Baguio Country Club when he was in Baguio City. On the other
hand, Erlinda lived in Antipolo City.
Out of their marriage, the spouses had six (6) children, namely: Ramon Ilusorio (age 55); Erlinda
Ilusorio Bildner (age 52); Maximo (age 50); Sylvia (age 49); Marietta (age 48); and Shereen (age
39).
On December 30, 1997, upon Potencianos arrival from the United States, he stayed with Erlinda
for about five (5) months in Antipolo City. The children, Sylvia and Erlinda (Lin), alleged that during
this time, their mother gave Potenciano an overdose of 200 mg instead of 100 mg Zoloft, an
antidepressant drug prescribed by his doctor in New York, U.S.A. As a consequence, Potencianos
health deteriorated.
On February 25, 1998, Erlinda filed with the Regional Trial Court, Antipolo City a petition [10] for
guardianship over the person and property of Potenciano Ilusorio due to the latters advanced age,
frail health, poor eyesight and impaired judgment.
On May 31, 1998, after attending a corporate meeting in Baguio City, Potenciano Ilusorio did not
return to Antipolo City and instead lived at Cleveland Condominium, Makati. Slxsc
On March 11, 1999, Erlinda filed with the Court of Appeals a petition for habeas corpus to have the
custody of lawyer Potenciano Ilusorio. She alleged that respondents [11] refused petitioners
demands to see and visit her husband and prohibited Potenciano from returning to Antipolo City.
After due hearing, on April 5, 1999, the Court of Appeals rendered decision the dispositive portion
of which reads:
"WHEREFORE, in the light of the foregoing disquisitions, judgment is hereby
rendered:

"(1) Ordering, for humanitarian consideration and upon petitioners


manifestation, respondents Erlinda K. Ilusorio Bildner and Sylvia Ilusorio-Yap,
the administrator of Cleveland Condominium or anywhere in its place, his
guards and Potenciano Ilusorios staff especially Ms. Aurora Montemayor to
allow visitation rights to Potenciano Ilusorios wife, Erlinda Ilusorio and all her
children, notwithstanding any list limiting visitors thereof, under penalty of
contempt in case of violation of refusal thereof; xxx
"(2) ORDERING that the writ of habeas corpus previously issued be recalled
and the herein petition for habeas corpus be DENIED DUE COURSE, as it is
hereby DISMISSED for lack of unlawful restraint or detention of the subject of
the petition.
"SO ORDERED."[12]
Hence, the two petitions, which were consolidated and are herein jointly decided.
As heretofore stated, a writ of habeas corpus extends to all cases of illegal confinement or
detention,[13] or by which the rightful custody of a person is withheld from the one entitled thereto.
It is available where a person continues to be unlawfully denied of one or more of his constitutional
freedoms, where there is denial of due process, where the restraints are not merely involuntary
but are unnecessary, and where a deprivation of freedom originally valid has later become
arbitrary.[14] It is devised as a speedy and effectual remedy to relieve persons from unlawful
restraint, as the best and only sufficient defense of personal freedom. [15] Jksm
The essential object and purpose of the writ of habeas corpus is to inquire into all manner of
involuntary restraint, and to relieve a person therefrom if such restraint is illegal. [16]
To justify the grant of the petition, the restraint of liberty must be an illegal and involuntary
deprivation of freedom of action.[17] The illegal restraint of liberty must be actual and effective, not
merely nominal or moral.[18]
The evidence shows that there was no actual and effective detention or deprivation of lawyer
Potenciano Ilusorios liberty that would justify the issuance of the writ. The fact that lawyer
Potenciano Ilusorio is about 86 years of age, or under medication does not necessarily render him
mentally incapacitated. Soundness of mind does not hinge on age or medical condition but on the
capacity of the individual to discern his actions.
After due hearing, the Court of Appeals concluded that there was no unlawful restraint on his
liberty.
The Court of Appeals also observed that lawyer Potenciano Ilusorio did not request the
administrator of the Cleveland Condominium not to allow his wife and other children from seeing
or visiting him. He made it clear that he did not object to seeing them.
As to lawyer Potenciano Ilusorios mental state, the Court of Appeals observed that he was of
sound and alert mind, having answered all the relevant questions to the satisfaction of the court.
Being of sound mind, he is thus possessed with the capacity to make choices. In this case, the
crucial choices revolve on his residence and the people he opts to see or live with. The choices he
made may not appeal to some of his family members but these are choices which exclusively
belong to Potenciano. He made it clear before the Court of Appeals that he was not prevented

from leaving his house or seeing people. With that declaration, and absent any true restraint on
his liberty, we have no reason to reverse the findings of the Court of Appeals.
With his full mental capacity coupled with the right of choice, Potenciano Ilusorio may not be the
subject of visitation rights against his free choice. Otherwise, we will deprive him of his right to
privacy. Needless to say, this will run against his fundamental constitutional right. Es m
The Court of Appeals exceeded its authority when it awarded visitation rights in a petition
for habeas corpus where Erlinda never even prayed for such right. The ruling is not consistent with
the finding of subjects sanity.
When the court ordered the grant of visitation rights, it also emphasized that the same shall be
enforced under penalty of contempt in case of violation or refusal to comply. Such assertion of raw,
naked power is unnecessary.
The Court of Appeals missed the fact that the case did not involve the right of a parent to visit a
minor child but the right of a wife to visit a husband. In case the husband refuses to see his wife
for private reasons, he is at liberty to do so without threat of any penalty attached to the exercise
of his right.
No court is empowered as a judicial authority to compel a husband to live with his wife. Coverture
cannot be enforced by compulsion of a writ of habeas corpus carried out by sheriffs or by any
other mesne process. That is a matter beyond judicial authority and is best left to the man and
womans free choice.
WHEREFORE, in G. R. No. 139789, the Court DISMISSES the petition for lack of merit. No costs.
In G. R. No. 139808, the Court GRANTS the petition and nullifies the decision of the Court of
Appeals insofar as it gives visitation rights to respondent Erlinda K. Ilusorio. No costs.
SO ORDERED.
Davide, Jr., C.J., (Chairman), Puno, Kapunan, and Ynares-Santiago, JJ., concur. 5/31/00 10:02 AM
THIRD DIVISION
PHILIP MATTHEWS,
Petitioner,

G.R. No. 164584

DECISION
NACHURA, J.:
Assailed in this petition for review on certiorari are the
2003 Decision[1] and July 14, 2004 Resolution[2] in CA-G.R.
affirmed and upheld the June 30, 1997 Decision [3] of the
Kalibo, Aklan in Civil Case No. 4632 for Declaration of
Damages.

Court of Appeals (CA) December 19,


CV No. 59573.The assailed decision
Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 8,
Nullity of Agreement of Lease with

On June 30, 1988, respondent Benjamin A. Taylor (Benjamin), a British subject, married Joselyn C.
Taylor (Joselyn), a 17-year old Filipina. [4] On June 9, 1989, while their marriage was subsisting,
Joselyn bought from Diosa M. Martin a 1,294 square-meter lot (Boracay property) situated at
Manoc-Manoc, Boracay Island, Malay, Aklan, for and in consideration of P129,000.00.[5] The sale
was allegedly financed by Benjamin.[6] Joselyn and Benjamin, also using the latters funds,
constructed improvements thereon and eventually converted the property to a vacation and
tourist resort known as the Admiral Ben Bow Inn. [7] All required permits and licenses for the
operation of the resort were obtained in the name of Ginna Celestino, Joselyns sister. [8]
However, Benjamin and Joselyn had a falling out, and Joselyn ran away with Kim Philippsen.
On June 8, 1992, Joselyn executed a Special Power of Attorney (SPA) in favor of Benjamin,
authorizing the latter to maintain, sell, lease, and sub-lease and otherwise enter into contract with
third parties with respect to their Boracay property.[9]
On July 20, 1992, Joselyn as lessor and petitioner Philip Matthews as lessee, entered into an
Agreement of Lease[10] (Agreement) involving the Boracay property for a period of 25 years, with
an annual rental of P12,000.00. The agreement was signed by the parties and executed before a
Notary Public. Petitioner thereafter took possession of the property and renamed the resort as
Music Garden Resort.
Claiming that the Agreement was null and void since it was entered into by Joselyn without his
(Benjamins) consent, Benjamin instituted an action for Declaration of Nullity of Agreement of
Lease with Damages[11] against Joselyn and the petitioner. Benjamin claimed that his funds were
used in the acquisition and improvement of the Boracay property, and coupled with the fact that
he was Joselyns husband, any transaction involving said property required his consent.
No Answer was filed, hence, the RTC declared Joselyn and the petitioner in defeault. On March 14,
1994, the RTC rendered judgment by default declaring the Agreement null and void. [12] The
decision was, however, set aside by the CA in CA-G.R. SP No. 34054. [13] The CA also ordered the
RTC to allow the petitioner to file his Answer, and to conduct further proceedings.
In his Answer,[14] petitioner claimed good faith in transacting with Joselyn. Since Joselyn appeared
to be the owner of the Boracay property, he found it unnecessary to obtain the consent of
Benjamin. Moreover, as appearing in the Agreement, Benjamin signed as a witness to the contract,
indicating his knowledge of the transaction and, impliedly, his conformity to the agreement
entered into by his wife. Benjamin was, therefore, estopped from questioning the validity of the
Agreement.
There being no amicable settlement during the pre-trial, trial on the merits ensued.
On June 30, 1997, the RTC disposed of the case in this manner:

- versus -

BENJAMIN A. TAYLOR and JOSELYN C. TAYLOR,


Respondents.

Present:
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.,
Chairperson,
CHICO-NAZARIO,
VELASCO, JR.
NACHURA, and
PERALTA, JJ.

1.

The Agreement of Lease dated July 20, 1992 consisting of


eight (8) pages (Exhibits T, T-1, T-2, T-3, T-4, T-5, T-6 and T-7)
entered into by and between Joselyn C. Taylor and Philip
Matthews before Notary Public Lenito T. Serrano under Doc.
No. 390, Page 79, Book I, Series of 1992 is hereby declared
NULL and VOID;

Promulgated:

2.

Defendants are hereby ordered, jointly and severally, to pay


plaintiff the sum of SIXTEEN THOUSAND (P16,000.00) PESOS
as damages representing unrealized income for the residential
building and cottages computed monthly from July 1992 up to
the time the property in question is restored to plaintiff; and

June 22, 2009


x------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x

WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered in favor of


the plaintiff and against the defendants as follows:

3.

Defendants are hereby ordered, jointly and severally, to pay


plaintiff the sum of TWENTY THOUSAND (P20,000.00) PESOS,
Philippine Currency, for attorneys fees and other incidental
expenses.

SO ORDERED.[15]
The RTC considered the Boracay property as community property of Benjamin and Joselyn; thus,
the consent of the spouses was necessary to validate any contract involving the
property. Benjamins right over the Boracay property was bolstered by the courts findings that the
property was purchased and improved through funds provided by Benjamin. Although the
Agreement was evidenced by a public document, the trial court refused to consider the alleged
participation of Benjamin in the questioned transaction primarily because his signature appeared
only on the last page of the document and not on every page thereof.
On appeal to the CA, petitioner still failed to obtain a favorable decision. In its December 19,
2003 Decision,[16] the CA affirmed the conclusions made by the RTC. The appellate court was of the
view that if, indeed, Benjamin was a willing participant in the questioned transaction, the parties
to the Agreement should have used the phrase with my consent instead of signed in the presence
of. The CA noted that Joselyn already prepared an SPA in favor of Benjamin involving the Boracay
property; it was therefore unnecessary for Joselyn to participate in the execution of the
Agreement. Taken together, these circumstances yielded the inevitable conclusion that the
contract was null and void having been entered into by Joselyn without the consent of Benjamin.
Aggrieved, petitioner now comes before this Court in this petition for review on certiorari based on
the following grounds:
4.1. THE MARITAL CONSENT OF RESPONDENT BENJAMIN TAYLOR IS NOT
REQUIRED
IN
THE
AGREEMENT
OF
LEASE
DATED 20
JULY
1992. GRANTING ARGUENDO THAT HIS CONSENT IS REQUIRED, BENJAMIN
TAYLOR IS DEEMED TO HAVE GIVEN HIS CONSENT WHEN HE AFFIXED HIS
SIGNATURE IN THE AGREEMENT OF LEASE AS WITNESS IN THE LIGHT OF THE
RULING OF THE SUPREME COURT IN THE CASE OF SPOUSES PELAYO VS. MELKI
PEREZ, G.R. NO. 141323, JUNE 8, 2005.
4.2. THE PARCEL OF LAND SUBJECT OF THE AGREEMENT OF LEASE IS THE
EXCLUSIVE PROPERTY OF JOCELYN C. TAYLOR, A FILIPINO CITIZEN, IN THE
LIGHT OF CHEESMAN VS. IAC, G.R. NO. 74833, JANUARY 21, 1991.
4.3. THE COURTS A QUO ERRONEOUSLY APPLIED ARTICLE 96 OF THE FAMILY
CODE OF THE PHILIPPINES WHICH IS A PROVISION REFERRING TO THE
ABSOLUTE COMMUNITY OF PROPERTY. THE PROPERTY REGIME GOVERNING
THE PROPERTY RELATIONS OF BENJAMIN TAYLOR AND JOSELYN TAYLOR IS THE
CONJUGAL PARTNERSHIP OF GAINS BECAUSE THEY WERE MARRIED ON 30
JUNE 1988 WHICH IS PRIOR TO THE EFFECTIVITY OF THE FAMILY
CODE. ARTICLE 96 OF THE FAMILY CODE OF THE PHILIPPINES FINDS NO
APPLICATION IN THIS CASE.
4.4. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS IGNORED THE PRESUMPTION OF
REGULARITY IN THE EXECUTION OF NOTARIAL DOCUMENTS.
4.5. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS FAILED TO PASS UPON THE
COUNTERCLAIM OF PETITIONER DESPITE THE FACT THAT IT WAS NOT
CONTESTED AND DESPITE THE PRESENTATION OF EVIDENCE ESTABLISHING
SAID CLAIM.[17]
The petition is impressed with merit.
In fine, we are called upon to determine the validity of an Agreement of Lease of a parcel of land
entered into by a Filipino wife without the consent of her British husband. In addressing the matter
before us, we are confronted not only with civil law or conflicts of law issues, but more importantly,
with a constitutional question.

It is undisputed that Joselyn acquired the Boracay property in 1989. Said acquisition was
evidenced by a Deed of Sale with Joselyn as the vendee. The property was also declared for
taxation purposes under her name. When Joselyn leased the property to petitioner, Benjamin
sought the nullification of the contract on two grounds: first, that he was the actual owner of the
property since he provided the funds used in purchasing the same; and second, that Joselyn could
not enter into a valid contract involving the subject property without his consent.
The trial and appellate courts both focused on the property relations of petitioner and respondent
in light of the Civil Code and Family Code provisions. They, however, failed to observe the
applicable constitutional principles, which, in fact, are the more decisive.
Section 7, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution states:[18]
Section 7. Save in cases of hereditary succession, no private lands shall be
transferred or conveyed except to individuals, corporations, or associations
qualified to acquire or hold lands of the public domain.
Aliens, whether individuals or corporations, have been disqualified from acquiring lands of the
public domain. Hence, by virtue of the aforecited constitutional provision, they are also disqualified
from acquiring private lands.[19] The primary purpose of this constitutional provision is the
conservation of the national patrimony. [20] Our fundamental law cannot be any clearer. The right to
acquire lands of the public domain is reserved only to Filipino citizens or corporations at least sixty
percent of the capital of which is owned by Filipinos.[21]
In Krivenko v. Register of Deeds,[22] cited in Muller v. Muller,[23] we had the occasion to explain the
constitutional prohibition:
Under Section 1 of Article XIII of the Constitution, natural resources,
with the exception of public agricultural land, shall not be alienated, and with
respect to public agricultural lands, their alienation is limited to Filipino
citizens. But this constitutional purpose conserving agricultural resources in
the hands of Filipino citizens may easily be defeated by the Filipino citizens
themselves who may alienate their agricultural lands in favor of aliens. It is
partly to prevent this result that Section 5 is included in Article XIII, and it
reads as follows:
Section 5. Save in cases of hereditary succession, no private
agricultural land will be transferred or assigned except to individuals,
corporations, or associations qualified to acquire or hold lands of the public
domain in the Philippines.
This constitutional provision closes the only remaining avenue
through which agricultural resources may leak into aliens hands. It would
certainly be futile to prohibit the alienation of public agricultural lands to
aliens if, after all, they may be freely so alienated upon their becoming private
agricultural lands in the hands of Filipino citizens. x x x
xxxx
If the term private agricultural lands is to be construed as not
including residential lots or lands not strictly agricultural, the result would be
that aliens may freely acquire and possess not only residential lots and
houses for themselves but entire subdivisions, and whole towns and cities,
and that they may validly buy and hold in their names lands of any area for
building homes, factories, industrial plants, fisheries, hatcheries, schools,
health and vacation resorts, markets, golf courses, playgrounds, airfields, and
a host of other uses and purposes that are not, in appellants words, strictly
agricultural. (Solicitor Generals Brief, p. 6) That this is obnoxious to the
conservative spirit of the Constitution is beyond question. [24]
The rule is clear and inflexible: aliens are absolutely not allowed to acquire public or private lands
in the Philippines, save only in constitutionally recognized exceptions. [25]There is no rule more
settled than this constitutional prohibition, as more and more aliens attempt to circumvent the
provision by trying to own lands through another. In a long line of cases, we have settled issues
that directly or indirectly involve the above constitutional provision. We had cases where aliens
wanted that a particular property be declared as part of their fathers estate; [26] that they be
reimbursed the funds used in purchasing a property titled in the name of another; [27] that an

implied trust be declared in their (aliens) favor; [28] and that a contract of sale be nullified for their
lack of consent.[29]
In Ting Ho, Jr. v. Teng Gui,[30] Felix Ting Ho, a Chinese citizen, acquired a parcel of land, together
with the improvements thereon. Upon his death, his heirs (the petitioners therein) claimed the
properties as part of the estate of their deceased father, and sought the partition of said
properties among themselves. We, however, excluded the land and improvements thereon from
the estate of Felix Ting Ho, precisely because he never became the owner thereof in light of the
above-mentioned constitutional prohibition.
In Muller v. Muller,[31] petitioner Elena Buenaventura Muller and respondent Helmut Muller were
married in Germany. During the subsistence of their marriage, respondent purchased a parcel of
land in Antipolo City and constructed a house thereon. The Antipolo property was registered in the
name of the petitioner. They eventually separated, prompting the respondent to file a petition for
separation of property. Specifically, respondent prayed for reimbursement of the funds he paid for
the acquisition of said property. In deciding the case in favor of the petitioner, the Court held that
respondent was aware that as an alien, he was prohibited from owning a parcel of land situated in
the Philippines. He had, in fact, declared that when the spouses acquired the Antipolo property, he
had it titled in the name of the petitioner because of said prohibition.Hence, we denied his attempt
at subsequently asserting a right to the said property in the form of a claim for reimbursement.
Neither did the Court declare that an implied trust was created by operation of law in view of
petitioners marriage to respondent. We said that to rule otherwise would permit circumvention of
the constitutional prohibition.
In Frenzel v. Catito,[32] petitioner, an Australian citizen, was married to Teresita Santos; while
respondent, a Filipina, was married to Klaus Muller. Petitioner and respondent met and later
cohabited in a common-law relationship, during which petitioner acquired real properties; and
since he was disqualified from owning lands in the Philippines, respondents name appeared as the
vendee in the deeds of sale. When their relationship turned sour, petitioner filed an action for the
recovery of the real properties registered in the name of respondent, claiming that he was the real
owner. Again, as in the other cases, the Court refused to declare petitioner as the owner mainly
because of the constitutional prohibition. The Court added that being a party to an illegal contract,
he could not come to court and ask to have his illegal objective carried out. One who loses his
money or property by knowingly engaging in an illegal contract may not maintain an action for his
losses.
Finally, in Cheesman v. Intermediate Appellate Court, [33] petitioner (an American citizen) and
Criselda Cheesman acquired a parcel of land that was later registered in the latters name. Criselda
subsequently sold the land to a third person without the knowledge of the petitioner. The
petitioner then sought the nullification of the sale as he did not give his consent thereto. The Court
held that assuming that it was his (petitioners) intention that the lot in question be purchased by
him and his wife, he acquired no right whatever over the property by virtue of that purchase; and
in attempting to acquire a right or interest in land, vicariously and clandestinely, he knowingly
violated the Constitution; thus, the sale as to him was null and void.
In light of the foregoing jurisprudence, we find and so hold that Benjamin has no right to
nullify the Agreement of Lease between Joselyn and petitioner. Benjamin, being an alien, is
absolutely prohibited from acquiring private and public lands in the Philippines. Considering that
Joselyn appeared to be the designated vendee in the Deed of Sale of said property, she acquired
sole ownership thereto. This is true even if we sustain Benjamins claim that he provided the funds
for such acquisition. By entering into such contract knowing that it was illegal, no implied trust was
created in his favor; no reimbursement for his expenses can be allowed; and no declaration can be
made that the subject property was part of the conjugal/community property of the spouses. In
any event, he had and has no capacity or personality to question the subsequent lease of the
Boracay property by his wife on the theory that in so doing, he was merely exercising the
prerogative of a husband in respect of conjugal property. To sustain such a theory would
countenance indirect controversion of the constitutional prohibition. If the property were to be
declared conjugal, this would accord the alien husband a substantial interest and right over the
land, as he would then have a decisive vote as to its transfer or disposition. This is a right that the
Constitution does not permit him to have.[34]
In fine, the Agreement of Lease entered into between Joselyn and petitioner cannot be nullified on
the grounds advanced by Benjamin. Thus, we uphold its validity.
With the foregoing disquisition, we find it unnecessary to address the other issues raised
by the petitioner.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the December 19, 2003 Decision and July 14, 2004
Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 59573, are REVERSED and SET ASIDE and a
new one is entered DISMISSING the complaint against petitioner Philip Matthews.
SO ORDERED.
ANTONIO EDUARDO B. NACHURA
Associate Justice
WE CONCUR:
CONSUELO YNARES-SANTIAGO
Associate Justice
Chairperson
MINITA V. CHICO-NAZARIO
Associate Justice

PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR.


Associate Justice

DIOSDADO M. PERALTA
Associate Justice
ATTESTATION
I attest that the conclusions in the above Decision were reached in consultation before the case
was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Courts Division.
CONSUELO YNARES-SANTIAGO
Associate Justice
Chairperson, Third Division
CERTIFICATION
Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution and the Division Chairperson's Attestation, I
certify that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the
case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Courts Division.
REYNATO S. PUNO
Chief Justice

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
FIRST DIVISION
G.R. No. 73733 December 16, 1986
EPIFANIA MAGALLON, petitioner,
vs.
HON. ROSALINA L. MONTEJO, in her Official Capacity as Presiding Judge of Regional Trial
Court of Davao del Sur, Branch XXI, CONCEPCION LACERNA, ELECERIA LACERNA and
PURITA LACERNA,respondents.
Latasa, Cagas and Aranune Law & Surveying Office for petitioner.
Alberto Lumakang for private respondents.

NARVASA, J.:
The petition before this Court sinks the annulment of a writ of execution issued by the respondent
Judge in Civil Case No. 727 of her court (RTC Davao del Sur). Said case was instituted by the
plaintiffs (private respondents herein) against Martin Lacerna to compel partition of parcel of land
located in Barrio Kasuga Municipality of Magsaysay, Davao del Sur, to which said defendant had
perfected a claim by homestead. The plaintiffs, claiming to be the common children of Martin
Lacerna and his wife, Eustaquia Pichan, who died in 1953, asserted a right to one-half of the land
as their mother's share in her conjugal partnership with Martin. While said defendant denied
having contracted marriage with Eustaquia Pichan although he admitted living with her without
benefit of marriage until she allegedly abandoned him as well as paternity of two of the
plaintiffs who, he claimed, were fathered by other men, the Trial Court gave his denials no
credence. Said Court, on the basis of the evidence presented to it, found that Martin had in fact
been married to Eustaquia, and that the plaintiffs were his children with her. The Trial Court further
found that Martin had begun working the homestead, and his right to a patent to the land accrued,
during his coverture with Eustaquia. On the basis of these findings, the plaintiffs were declared
entitled to the half of the land claimed by them. 1
Martin Lacerna appealed to the Intermediate Appellate Court AC-G.R. No. 59900-R). That Court
affirmed, in a Decision promulgated on August 31, 1984 which has since become final. 2
It appears that at the time the case was brought, and while it was being heard in the Trial Court,
no certificate of title to the land had yet been issued to Martin Lacerna, although he had already
complied with all the conditions necessary to a grant thereof. Original Certificate of Title No. P-11
568 (issued on the basis of Homestead Patent No. 148869) was issued only on November 22,
1978, while Lacerna's appeal was pending in the Intermediate Appellate Court. While it is not
disputed that said certificate of title refers to the same land homesteaded by Lacerna during his
coverture with Eustaquia Pichan, for reasons to which the record before the Court offers no clear
clue, it states on its face that it is issued in the name of " ... MARTIN LACERNA, Filipino, of legal
age, married to Epifania Magallon ... ," the latter being the present petitioner. 3
It appears further that on November 26, 1985, after the confirmative Decision of the Intermediate
Appellate Court had become final and executory, the respondent Judge, on motion of the plaintiffs
issued an alias writ of execution commanding the Provincial Sheriff::
... to order the defendant Martin Lacerna to divide and partition the property
located at Casuga, Magsaysay, Davao del Sur, consisting of 10 hectares
designated as Lot No. 5098 Cad. No. 275 covered by H.A. No. 20-13378 (E-2012748), of which is the share of Eustaquia Pichan in the conjugal property,
and plaintiffs being Pichan's children are also entitled thereto; and deliver
portion of 5 hectares of the aforedescribed lot to the plaintiffs as their share to
satisfy the said judgment and your fees thereon. 4
Apparently, said writ was served on both Martin Lacerna and petitioner herein, for on December
17, 1985, the latter filed with the Trial Court a "Motion for Intervention and to Stay Execution"
alleging that the land subject of the writ was conjugal property of herself and Martin Lacerna
under a certificate of title (OCT No. P-11568) ... issued way back 1978 (sic) without legal
impediments, and ... now incontestable," as well as ... valid, binding and legal unless declared
otherwise in an independent proceedings, ... and praying that ... the property of herein intervenor
be excluded from the enforcement of the writ of execution." 5 Said motion was denied, as also was
a motion for reconsideration of the order of denial. Hence, the present petition.
The facts found by the lower courts which, in view of the finality of the latter's decisions, are
binding upon this Court and can no longer be controverted, as wen as the pertinent allegations of
the petition, leave no doubt that the land in question, which rightfully pertained to the conjugal
partnership of Martin Lacerna and Eustaquia Pichan, the plaintiff's mother, and should have been

titled in the names of said spouses, was, through fraud or mistaken, registered in the names of
Martin Lacerna and petitioner herein, Epifania Magallon In such a situation, the property should be
regarded as impressed with an implied, or a constructive, trust for the party rightfully entitled
thereto. The Civil Code provides that:
If property is acquired through mistake or fraud, the person obtaining it is, by
force of law, considered a trustee of an implied trust for the benefit of the
person from whom the property comes. 6
The provision restates one of the principles upon which the general law of trust is founded,
expressed in equity jurisprudence thus:
A constructive trust is a creature of equity, defined supra (sec. 15) as a
remedial device by which the holder of legal title is held to be a trustee for the
benefit of another who in good conscience is entitled to the beneficial interest.
So. the doctrine of constructive trust is an instrument of equity for the
maintenance of justice, good faith, and good conscience, resting on a sound
public policy requiring that the law should not become the instrument of
designing persons to be used for the purpose of fraud. In this respect
constructive trusts have been said to arise through the application of the
doctrine of equitable estoppel or under the broad doctrine that equity regards
and treats as done what in good conscience ought to be done.
Where, through a mistake of fact, title to, and apparent ownership of, property
rightfully belonging to one person is obtained by another, a constructive trust
ordinarily arises in favor of the rightful owner of such property
It is a general principle that one who acquires land or other property by fraud,
misrepresentation, imposition, or concealment, or under any such other
circumstances as to render it inequitable for him to retain the property, is in
equity to be regarded as a trustee ex maleficio thereof for a person who
suffers by reason of the fraud or other wrong, and is equitably entitled to the
property, even though such beneficiary may never have any legal estate
therein. It is to be observed, however, that in the absence of equitable
considerations or a fiduciary relationship, fraud alone, either actual or
constructive, will not give rise to a trust, since, as has been pointed out, if it
were otherwise all persons claiming property under defective titles would be
trustee for the 'true' owners. 7
Under proper circumstances, mistake, although unconnected with fraud, will
warrant relief under the Code providing that one who gains a thing by fraud,
accident, mistake, undue influence, the violation of a trust, or other wrongful
act is, unless he has come better title thereto, an involuntary trustee of the
thing gained for the benefit of the person who would otherwise have had it. 8
As stated by Justice Cardozo, a constructive trust is the formula through which
the conscience of equity finds expression and when property has been
acquired in such circumstances that the holder of the legal title may not in
good conscience retain the beneficial interest; equity converts him into a
trustee. 9
In an early case in this jurisdiction, land of the plaintiff had, by mistake, been included in the title
of an adjoining owner who was afterwards sued by his creditors, the latter obtaining writs of
execution and procuring their annotation on said title. In an action by the plaintiff to enjoin the
sale of his property, annul the levies thereon and secure a new title without those encumbrances,

this Court affirmed judgment of the lower court in the plaintiff's favor, despite the fact that he had
done nothing to protect his interests in the land during a period of almost six years following the
issuance of the decree of registration in favor of the adjoining owner. The Court, noting that the
titular (ostensible) owner had never laid claim to the property mistakenly registered in his name
and that he had in fact acquiesced to judgment in a separate action declaring the plaintiff the real
owner of the property, refused to apply the one-year limitation period for disputing the title and
held that in the circumstances, the former merely held title to the property in trust for the
plaintiff. 10
In Bueno vs. Reyes, 11 where property belonging to an ancestor of whom plaintiffs' parents were
the intestate heirs was, though mistake or in bad faith, registered in cadastral proceedings in the
name of other parties who had no right thereto, this Court reaffirmed the principles already cited,
holding that:
If any trust can be deduced at all from the foregoing facts it was an implied
one, arising by operation of law not from any presumed intention of the
parties but to satisfy the demands of justice and equity and as a protection
against unfair dealing or downright fraud. Indeed, in this kind of implied trust,
commonly denominated constructive, as distinguished from resulting, trust,
there exists a certain antagonism between the cestui que trust and the
trustee. Thus, for instance, under Article 1456 of the Civil Code, 'if property is
acquired through mistake or fraud, the person obtaining it is, by force of law,
considered a trustee of an implied trust for the benefit of the person from
whom the property comes.' In a number of cases this Court has held that
registration of property by one person in his name, whether by mistake or
fraud, the real owner being another per- son, impresses upon the title so
acquired the character of a constructive trust for the real owner, which would
justify an action for reconveyance. 12
Clearly, therefore, the petitioner herein, as the trustee of a constructive trust, has an obligation to
convey to the private respondents that part of the land in question to which she now claims an
ostensible title, said portion rightfully pertaining to the respondents' deceased mother as her
share in the conjugal partnership with Martin Lacerna.
The question is whether that obligation may be enforced by execution in the action at bar, which
was brought and prosecuted to judgment against Martin Lacerna only, without impleading the
petitioner. 13 Stated otherwise, is petitioner bound by final judgment rendered in an action to which
she was not made a party?
There are no clear precedents on the matter in our law. Reference to American law for any
persuasive ruling shows that even there the question seems to be an open one.
"The authorities are in conflict as to whether a wife, not a party to an action is bound by a
judgment therein for or against her husband with respect to community or homestead property or
property held as an estate in entirety.
Community property. It has been held that a judgment against the husband in an action involving
community property, is conclusive on the wife even if she is not a party, but it has also been held
that a judgment against either husband or wife with respect to community property in an action to
which the other spouse is not a party does not prevent the other spouse from subsequently having
his or her day in court, although, of course, a judgment against both husband and wife is binding
on both.

Estate by entirety. It has been both affirmed and denied that a wife is in such privity with her
husband in respect of property held by them as an estate in entirety that a judgment for or against
him respecting such property in a suit to which she is not a party is binding on her.
Homestead. A judgment affecting a homestead is, according to some authorities, not binding on a
spouse who is not a party to the action in which it is rendered, unless the homestead is community
property or the homestead claim or interest would not defeat the action; but, according to other
authorities, where the husband sets up and litigates a claim for the homestead, an adjudication for
or against him is binding on the wife. 14
As to her community interest in real property, a wife is in privity with her
husband and is represented by him in an action as fully as though she had
expressly been made a party thereto. Cutting vs. Bryan, 274 P. 326, 206 Cal.
254, certiorari denied 50 S. Ct. 16, 280 U.S. 556,74 L.Ed 611. 15
In the particular circumstances obtaining here, the Court can as it does in good conscience and
without doing violence to doctrine, adopt the affirmative view and hold the petitioner bound by the
judgment against Martin Lacerna, despite her not having in fact been impleaded in the action
against the latter. This ruling presumes that petitioner is, as she claims, the legal wife of Lacerna
though, as observed by the Intermediate Appellate Court, no marriage contract was presented by
Lacerna to prove his marriage to the petitioner either before or after the death of Eustaquia
Pichan. Indeed, it is clear that the petitioner cannot assert any claim to the land other than by
virtue of her supposed marriage to Lacerna. As a mere mistress, she cannot pretend to any right
thereto.
But whether the petitioner is a lawful wife or a mere "live-in" partner, the Court simply cannot
believe that she never became aware of the litigation concerning the land until presented with the
writ of execution. What is far more probable and credible is that she has known of the lawsuit
since 1956 when Martin Lacerna "married" her. 16 Her silence and inaction since then and until
barely a year ago bespeak more than anything else, a confession that she had and has no right to
the land and no defense to offer to the action, either on her part or on the part of Martin Lacerna.
Had she even the semblance of a right, there is no doubt she would have lost no time asserting it.
From the averments of the petition, it is evident that the petitioner relies mainly, if not solely, on
the fact that the certificate of title to the land carries her name as the "wife" of the owner named
therein, Martin Lacerna. As already observed, such entry on the certificate of title has been
established by evidence no longer disputable as resulting from a mistake if, indeed, it was not
procured through fraud. Moreover, on the authority of Litam vs. Rivera 17 and Stuart vs.
Yatco, 18 the phrase "married to Epifania Magallon written after the name of Martin Lacerna in said
certificate of title is merely descriptive of the civil status of Martin Lacerna, the registered owner,
and does not necessarily prove that the land is "conjugal" property of Lacerna and petitioner
hereyn. Neither can petitioner invoke the presumption established in Article 160 of the Civil Code
that property acquired during the marriage belongs to the conjugal partnership, there being no
proof of her alleged marriage to Martin Lacerna except that which arises by implication from the
aforestated entry in the certificate of title and for the far more compelling reason that the
homestead claim on the land was shown to have been perfected during Martin Lacerna's marriage
to Eustaquia Pichan, mother of the private respondents. The ruling in Maramba vs. Lozano 19 that
the presumption does not operate where there is no showing as to when property alleged to be
conjugal was acquired applies with even greater force here.
The writ of execution, however, must be set aside, though not for the reasons urged in the
petition. The judgment of the respondent Trial Court which was affirmed by the Intermediate
Appellate Court merely declared the private respondents entitled to one-half of the land in
question, without specifically ordering partition and delivery to them of said half portion. A writ of
execution cannot vary the terms of the judgment it is issued to satisfy, or afford relief different
from, or not clearly included in, what is awarded by said judgment. Even if the judgment in

question is construable as authorizing or directing a partition of the land, the mechanics of an


actual partition should follow the procedure laid down in Rule 69 of the Rules of Court which does
not contemplate or provide for the intervention of the sheriff in the manner prescribed in the writ
complained of.
Both the Trial Court, in rendering the judgment in question, and the Intermediate Appellate Court,
in affirming the same, appear to have overlooked the fact that the surviving spouse is the legal
and compulsory heir of the deceased husband or wife; otherwise, consistent with the finding that
the half portion of the land sued for pertained to the late Eustaquia Pichan as her share in the
conjugal partnership with Martin Lacerna, they should have ruled that Martin Lacerna concurred
with the three private respondents in the succession to said portion, each of them taking an equal
share. 20 Unfortunately, said error is beyond review because Martin Lacerna allowed the judgment
to become final and executory without raising that point of law, even on appeal.

was acquitted and exempted from criminal liability on the ground that he bad acted without
discernment.
Prior to the incident, or on 10 December 1981, the spouses Sabas and Felisa Rapisura had filed a
petition to adopt the minor Adelberto Bundoc in Special Proceedings No. 0373-T before the then
Court of First Instance of Ilocos Sur. This petition for adoption was grunted on, 18 November 1982,
that is, after Adelberto had shot and killed Jennifer.
In their Answer, respondent spouses Bundoc, Adelberto's natural parents, reciting the result of the
foregoing petition for adoption, claimed that not they, but rather the adopting parents, namely the
spouses Sabas and Felisa Rapisura, were indispensable parties to the action since parental
authority had shifted to the adopting parents from the moment the successful petition for adoption
was filed.

WHEREFORE, the writ of execution complained of is set aside and annulled. Instead of enforcing
said writ, the respondent Trial Court is ordered to effect the partition of the land in question in
accordance with the terms of its now final and executory decision and the provisions of Rule 69 of
the Rules of Court. No pronouncement as to costs in this instance.

Petitioners in their Reply contended that since Adelberto Bundoc was then actually living with his
natural parents, parental authority had not ceased nor been relinquished by the mere filing and
granting of a petition for adoption.

SO ORDERED.

The trial court on 3 December 1987 dismissed petitioners' complaint, ruling that respondent
natural parents of Adelberto indeed were not indispensable parties to the action.

Yap (Chairman), Melencio-Herrera, Cruz and Feliciano, JJ., concur.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
THIRD DIVISION

G.R. No. 85044 June 3, 1992


MACARIO TAMARGO, CELSO TAMARGO and AURELIA TAMARGO, petitioners,
vs.
HON. COURT OF APPEALS, THE HON. ARISTON L. RUBIO, RTC Judge, Branch 20, Vigan,
Ilocos Sur; VICTOR BUNDOC; and CLARA BUNDOC, respondents.

Petitioners received a copy of the trial court's Decision on 7 December 1987. Within the 15-day
reglementary period, or on 14 December 1987, petitioners filed a motion for reconsideration
followed by a supplemental motion for reconsideration on 15 January 1988. It appearing, however,
that the motions failed to comply with Sections 4 and 5 of Rule 15 of the Revised Rules of Court
that notice of the motion shall be given to all parties concerned at least three (3) days before the
hearing of said motion; and that said notice shall state the time and place of hearing both
motions were denied by the trial court in an Order dated 18 April 1988. On 28 April 1988,
petitioners filed a notice of appeal. In its Order dated 6 June 1988, the trial court dismissed the
notice at appeal, this time ruling that the notice had been filed beyond the 15-day reglementary
period ending 22 December 1987.
Petitioners went to the Court of Appeals on a petition for mandamus and certiorari questioning the
trial court's Decision dated 3 December 1987 and the Orders dated 18 April 1988 and 6 June 1988,
The Court of Appeals dismissed the petition, ruling that petitioners had lost their right to appeal.
In the present Petition for Review, petitioners once again contend that respondent spouses Bundoc
are the indispensable parties to the action for damages caused by the acts of their minor child,
Adelberto Bundoc. Resolution of this Petition hinges on the following issues: (1) whether or not
petitioners, notwithstanding loss of their right to appeal, may still file the instant Petition;
conversely, whether the Court may still take cognizance of the case even through petitioners'
appeal had been filed out of time; and (2) whether or not the effects of adoption, insofar as
parental authority is concerned may be given retroactive effect so as to make the adopting
parents the indispensable parties in a damage case filed against their adopted child, for acts
committed by the latter, when actual custody was yet lodged with the biological parents.

FELICIANO, J.:
On 20 October 1982, Adelberto Bundoc, then a minor of 10 years of age, shot Jennifer Tamargo
with an air rifle causing injuries which resulted in her death. Accordingly, a civil complaint for
damages was filed with the Regional Trial Court, Branch 20, Vigan, Ilocos Sur, docketed as Civil
Case No. 3457-V, by petitioner Macario Tamargo, Jennifer's adopting parent, and petitioner
spouses Celso and Aurelia Tamargo, Jennifer's natural parents against respondent spouses Victor
and Clara Bundoc, Adelberto's natural parents with whom he was living at the time of the tragic
incident. In addition to this case for damages, a criminal information or Homicide through Reckless
Imprudence was filed [Criminal Case No. 1722-V] against Adelberto Bundoc. Adelberto, however,

1. It will be recalled that, petitioners' motion (and supplemental motion) for reconsideration filed
before the trial court, not having complied with the requirements of Section 13, Rule 41, and
Section 4, Rule 15, of the Revised Rules of Court, were considered pro forma and hence did not
interrupt and suspend the reglementary period to appeal: the trial court held that the motions, not
having contained a notice of time and place of hearing, had become useless pieces of paper which
did not interrupt the reglementary period. 1 As in fact repeatedly held by this Court, what is
mandatory is the service of the motion on the opposing counsel indicating the time and place of
hearing. 2

In view, however, of the nature of the issue raised in the instant. Petition, and in order that
substantial justice may be served, the Court, invoking its right to suspend the application of
technical rules to prevent manifest injustice, elects to treat the notice of appeal as having been
seasonably filed before the trial court, and the motion (and supplemental motion) for
reconsideration filed by petitioner in the trial court as having interrupted the reglementary period
for appeal. As the Court held in Gregorio v. Court of Appeals: 3
Dismissal of appeal; purely on technical grounds is frowned upon where the
policy of the courts is to encourage hearings of appeal on their merits. The
rules of procedure ought not be applied in a very rigid technical sense, rules
of procedure are used only to help secure not override, substantial justice. if d
technical and rigid enforcement of the rules is made their aim would be
defeated. 4
2. It is not disputed that Adelberto Bundoc's voluntary act of shooting Jennifer Tamargo with an air
rifle gave rise to a cause of action on quasi-delict against him. As Article 2176 of the Civil Code
provides:
Whoever by act or omission causes damage to another, there being fault or
negligence, is obliged to pay for the damage done. Such fault or negligence, if
there is no pre-existing contractual relation between the parties, is called
a quasi-delict . . .
Upon the other hand, the law imposes civil liability upon the father and, in case of his death or
incapacity, the mother, for any damages that may be caused by a minor child who lives with
them. Article 2180 of the Civil Code reads:
The obligation imposed by article 2176 is demandable not only for one's own
acts or omissions, but also for those of persons for whom one is responsible.
The father and, in case of his death or incapacity, the mother, are responsible
for the damages caused by the minor children who live in their company.
xxx xxx xxx
The responsibility treated of in this Article shall cease when the person herein
mentioned prove that they observed all the diligence of a good father of a
family to prevent damage. (Emphasis supplied)
This principle of parental liability is a species of what is frequently designated as vicarious liability,
or the doctrine of "imputed negligence" under Anglo-American tort law, where a person is not only
liable for torts committed by himself, but also for torts committed by others with whom he has a
certain relationship and for whom he is responsible. Thus, parental liability is made a natural or
logical consequence of the duties and responsibilities of parents their parental authority
which includes the instructing, controlling and disciplining of the child. 5 The basis for the doctrine
of vicarious liability was explained by the Court in Cangco v. Manila Railroad Co. 6 in the following
terms:
With respect to extra-contractual obligation arising from negligence, whether
of act or omission, it is competent for the legislature to elect and our
Legislature has so elected to limit such liability to cases in which the person
upon whom such an obligation is imposed is morally culpable or, on the
contrary, for reasons of public policy. to extend that liability, without regard to
the lack of moral culpability, so as to include responsibility for the negligence

of those persons whose acts or omissions are imputable, by a legal fiction, to


others who are in a position to exercise an absolute or limited control over
them. The legislature which adopted our Civil Code has elected to limit extracontractual liability with certain well-defined exceptions to cases in
which moral culpability can be directly imputed to the persons to be
charged. This moral responsibility may consist in having failed to exercise due
care in one's own acts, or in having failed to exercise due care in the selection
and control of one's agent or servants, or in the control of persons who, by
reasons of their status, occupy a position of dependency with respect to the
person made liable for their conduct. 7(Emphasis Supplied)
The civil liability imposed upon parents for the torts of their minor children living with
them, may be seen to be based upon the parental authority vested by the Civil Code
upon such parents. The civil law assumes that when an unemancipated child living with
its parents commits a tortious acts, the parents were negligent in the performance of
their legal and natural duty closely to supervise the child who is in their custody and
control. Parental liability is, in other words, anchored upon parental authority coupled
with presumed parental dereliction in the discharge of the duties accompanying such
authority. The parental dereliction is, of course, only presumed and the presumption can
be overtuned under Article 2180 of the Civil Code by proof that the parents had
exercised all the diligence of a good father of a family to prevent the damage.
In the instant case, the shooting of Jennifer by Adelberto with an air rifle occured when parental
authority was still lodged in respondent Bundoc spouses, the natural parents of the minor
Adelberto. It would thus follow that the natural parents who had then actual custody of the minor
Adelberto, are the indispensable parties to the suit for damages.
The natural parents of Adelberto, however, stoutly maintain that because a decree of adoption
was issued by the adoption court in favor of the Rapisura spouses, parental authority was vested
in the latter as adopting parents as of the time of the filing of the petition for adoption that
is, before Adelberto had shot Jennifer which an air rifle. The Bundoc spouses contend that they
were therefore free of any parental responsibility for Adelberto's allegedly tortious conduct.
Respondent Bundoc spouses rely on Article 36 of the Child and Youth Welfare Code 8 which reads
as follows:
Art. 36. Decree of Adoption. If, after considering the report of the
Department of Social Welfare or duly licensed child placement agency and the
evidence submitted before it, the court is satisfied that the petitioner is
qualified to maintain, care for, and educate the child, that the trial custody
period has been completed, and that the best interests of the child will be
promoted by the adoption, a decree of adoption shall be entered, which shall
be effective he date the original petition was filed. The decree shall state the
name by which the child is thenceforth to be known. (Emphasis supplied)
The Bundoc spouses further argue that the above Article 36 should be read in relation to
Article 39 of the same Code:
Art. 39. Effect of Adoption. The adoption shall:
xxx xxx xxx
(2) Dissolve the authority vested in the natural parents, except where the
adopter is the spouse of the surviving natural parent;

xxx xxx xxx


(Emphasis supplied)
and urge that their Parental authority must be deemed to have been dissolved as of the time the
Petition for adoption was filed.
The Court is not persuaded. As earlier noted, under the Civil Code, the basis of parental liability for
the torts of a minor child is the relationship existing between the parents and the minor child living
with them and over whom, the law presumes, the parents exercise supervision and control. Article
58 of the Child and Youth Welfare Code, re-enacted this rule:
Article 58 Torts Parents and guardians are responsible for the damage
caused by the child under their parental authority in accordance with the civil
Code. (Emphasis supplied)

because the adopting parents are given actual custody of the child during such trial period. In the
instant case, the trial custody period either had not yet begun or bad already been completed at
the time of the air rifle shooting; in any case, actual custody of Adelberto was then with his natural
parents, not the adopting parents.
Accordingly, we conclude that respondent Bundoc spouses, Adelberto's natural parents, were
indispensable parties to the suit for damages brought by petitioners, and that the dismissal by the
trial court of petitioners' complaint, the indispensable parties being already before the court,
constituted grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Petition for Review is hereby GRANTED DUE COURSE and
the Decision of the Court of Appeals dated 6 September 1988, in C.A.-G.R. No. SP-15016 is hereby
REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Petitioners' complaint filed before the trial court is hereby REINSTATED
and this case is REMANDED to that court for further proceedings consistent with this Decision.
Costs against respondent Bundoc spouses. This Decision is immediately executory.
SO ORDERED.

Article 221 of the Family Code of the Philippines 9 has similarly insisted upon the requisite that the
child, doer of the tortious act, shall have beer in the actual custody of the parents sought to be
held liable for the ensuing damage:

Gutierrez, Jr., Bidin, Davide, Jr. and Romero, concur.


Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

Art. 221. Parents and other persons exercising parental authority shall be
civilly liable for the injuries and damages caused by the acts or omissions of
their unemancipated children living in their company and under their parental
authority subject to the appropriate defenses provided by law. (Emphasis
supplied)

EN BANC

We do not believe that parental authority is properly regarded as having been retroactively
transferred to and vested in the adopting parents, the Rapisura spouses, at the time the air rifle
shooting happened. We do not consider that retroactive effect may be giver to the decree of
adoption so as to impose a liability upon the adopting parents accruing at a time when adopting
parents had no actual or physically custody over the adopted child. Retroactive affect may
perhaps be given to the granting of the petition for adoption where such is essential to permit the
accrual of some benefit or advantage in favor of the adopted child. In the instant case, however, to
hold that parental authority had been retroactively lodged in the Rapisura spouses so as to burden
them with liability for a tortious act that they could not have foreseen and which they could not
have prevented (since they were at the time in the United States and had no physical custody over
the child Adelberto) would be unfair and unconscionable. Such a result, moreover, would be
inconsistent with the philosophical and policy basis underlying the doctrine of vicarious liability.
Put a little differently, no presumption of parental dereliction on the part of the adopting parents,
the Rapisura spouses, could have arisen since Adelberto was not in fact subject to their control at
the time the tort was committed.

G.R. No. L-22523

Article 35 of the Child and Youth Welfare Code fortifies the conclusion reached above. Article 35
provides as follows:

An appeal from the decision of the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court, in Special Proceeding
No. 0001, dismissing the petition instituted by the spouses Luis R. Santos, Jr. and Edipola V. Santos
for the adoption of the minor Edwin Villa y Mendoza.

Art. 35. Trial Custody. No petition for adoption shall be finally granted
unless and until the adopting parents are given by the courts a supervised
trial custody period of at least six months to assess their adjustment and
emotional readiness for the legal union. During the period of trial custody,
parental authority shall be vested in the adopting parents. (Emphasis
supplied)
Under the above Article 35, parental authority is provisionally vested in the adopting parents
during the period of trial custody, i.e., before the issuance of a decree of adoption, precisely

September 29, 1967

IN THE MATTER OF THE ADOPTION OF THE MINOR, EDWIN VILLA Y MENDOZA. LUIS E.
SANTOS, JR. and EDIPOLA V. SANTOS, petitioners-appellants,
vs.
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, oppositor-appellee.
A. E. Dacanay for petitioners-appellants.
Office of the Solicitor General for oppositor-appellee.

ANGELES, J.:

The issue before Us is, whether or not an elder sister may adopt a younger brother.
The trial court dismissed the petition reasoning thus:
A critical consideration in this case is the fact that the parents of the minor to be
adopted are also the parents of the petitioner-wife. The minor, therefore, is the latter's
legitimate brother.

In this proceeding, the adoption will result in an incongruous situation where the minor
Edwin Villa, a legitimate brother of the petitioner-wife, will also be her son. In the opinion
of the court, that incongruity not neutralized by other circumstances absent herein,
should prevent the adoption.
The petitioners moved to reconsider the decision but the same was denied. Hence, this appeal.
The facts are not disputed.
The above-named spouses filed the petition before the court a quo on January 8, 1963, praying
that the minor Edwin Villa y Mendoza, 4 years old, be declared their (petitioner's) son by adoption.
Evidence was presented that the order setting the case for hearing has been duly published,
Exhibit A. There having been no opposition registered to the petition, the petitioners were
permitted to adduce their evidence.
It was established that the petitioners are both 32 years of age, Filipinos, residing in the City of
Manila. They were married in 1957 and have maintained a conjugal home of their own. They do
not have a child of their own blood. Neither spouse has any legitimate, legitimated, illegitimate,
acknowledged natural child, or natural child by legal fiction, nor has any one of them been
convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude. Edwin Villa y Mendoza, 4 years old, is a child of
Francisco Villa and Florencia Mendoza who are the common parents of the petitioner-wife Edipola
Villa Santos and the minor. Luis E. Santos, Jr., is a lawyer, with business interests in a textile
development enterprise and the IBA electric plant, and is the general manager of Medry Inc. and
the secretary-treasurer of Bearen Enterprises. His income is approximately P600.00 a month. His
co-petitioner-wife, is a nurse by profession, with an average monthly earning of about P300.00.
It was also shown that Edwin Villa y Mendoza was born on May 22, 1958, Exhibit C. He was a sickly
child since birth. Due to the child's impairing health his parents entrusted him to the petitioners
who reared and brought him up for the years thereafter, and as a result, there developed between
the petitioners and the child, a deep and profound love for each other. The natural parents of the
minor testified that they have voluntarily given their consent to the adoption of their son by the
petitioners, and submitted their written consent and conformity to the adoption, and that they
fully understand the legal consequences of the adoption of their child by the petitioners.
We are not aware of any provision in the law, and none has been pointed to Us by the Office of the
Solicitor General who argues for the State in this case, that relatives, by blood or by affinity, are
prohibited from adopting one another. The only objection raised is the alleged "incongruity" that
will result in the relation of the petitioner-wife and the adopted, in the circumstance that the
adopted who is the legitimate brother of the adopter, will also be her son by adoption. The theory
is, therefore, advanced that adoption among people who are related by nature should not be
allowed, in order that dual relationship should not result, reliance being made upon the views
expressed by this Court in McGee vs. Republic. L-5387, April 29, 1954, 94 Phil. 820.1awphl.nt
In that case, an American citizen, Clyde E. McGee married to a Filipina by whom he had one child,
instituted a proceeding for the adoption of two minor children of the wife had by her first husband.
The lower court granted the petition of McGee to adopt his two minor step-children. On appeal by
the State. We reversed the decision. We said:
The purpose of adoption is to establish a relationship of paternity and filiation where
none existed before. Where therefore the relationship of parent and child already exists
whether by blood or by affinity as in the case of illegitimate and step-children, it would
be unnecessary and superfluous to establish and super impose another relationship of
parent and child through adoption. Consequently, an express authorization of law like
article 338 is necessary, if not to render it proper and legal, at least, to remove any and
all doubt on the subject matter. Under this view, article 338 may not be regarded as a

surplusage. That may have been the reason why in the old Code of Civil Procedure,
particularly its provisions regarding adoption, authority to adopt a step-child by a stepfather was provided in section 766 notwithstanding the general authorization in section
765 extended to any inhabitant of the Philippines to adopt a minor child. The same
argument of surplusage could plausibly have been advanced as regards section 766,
that is to say, section 766 was unnecessary and superfluous because without it a stepfather could adopt a minor step-child anyway. However, the inserting of section 766 was
not entirely without reason. It seems to be an established principle in American
jurisprudence that a person may not adopt his own relative, the reason being that it is
unnecessary to establish a relationship where such already exists (the same philosophy
underlying our codal provisions on adoption). So some states have special laws
authorizing the adoption of relatives such as a grandfather adopting a grandchild and a
father adopting his illegitimate or natural-child.
Notwithstanding the views thus expressed, a study of American precedents would reveal that
there is a variance in the decisions of the courts in different jurisdictions regarding, the matter of
adoption of relatives. It cannot be stated as a general proposition that the adoption of a blood
relative is contrary to the policy of the law, for in many states of the Union, no restriction of that
sort is contained in the statutes authorizing adoption, although laws of other jurisdiction expressly
provide that adoption may not take place within persons within a certain degree of relationship (1
Am. Jur. 628-629). Courts in some states hold that in the absence of express statutory restriction, a
blood relationship between the parties is not a legal impediment to the adoption of one by the
other, and there may be a valid adoption where the relation of parent and child already exists by
nature (2 Am. Jur. 2d 869). Principles vary according to the particular adoption statute of a state
under which any given case is considered. It would seem that in those states originally influenced
by the civil law countries where adoption originated, the rules are liberally construed, while in
other states where common law principles predominate, adoption laws are more strictly applied
because they are regarded to be in derogation of the common law.
Article 335 of the Civil Code enumerates those persons who may not adopt, and it has been shown
that petitioners-appellants herein are not among those prohibited from adopting. Article 339 of the
same code names those who cannot be adopted, and the minor child whose adoption is under
consideration, is not one of those excluded by the law. Article 338, on the other hand, allows the
adoption of a natural child by the natural father or mother, of other illegitimate children by their
father or mother, and of a step-child by the step-father or stepmother. This last article is, of
course, necessary to remove all doubts that adoption is not prohibited even in these cases where
there already exist a relationship of parent and child between them by nature. To say that adoption
should not be allowed when the adopter and the adopted are related to each other, except in
these cases enumerated in Article 338, is to preclude adoption among relatives no matter how far
removed or in whatever degree that relationship might be, which in our opinion is not the policy of
the law. The interest and welfare of the child to be adopted should be of paramount consideration.
Adoption statutes, being humane and salutary, and designed to provide homes, care and
education for unfortunate children, should be construed so as to encourage the adoption of such
children by person who can properly rear and educate them (In re Havsgord's Estate, 34 S.D. 131,
147 N.W. 378).
With respect to the objection that the adoption in this particular case will result in a dual
relationship between the parties, that the adopted brother will also be the son of the adopting
elder sister, that fact alone should not prevent the adoption. One is by nature, while the other is by
fiction of law. The relationship established by the adoption is limited to the adopting parents and
does not extend to their other relatives, except as expressly provided by law. Thus, the adopted
child cannot be considered as a relative of the ascendants and collaterals of the adopting parents,
nor of the legitimate children which they may have after the adoption except that the law imposes
certain impediments to marriage by reason of adoption. Neither are the children of the adopted
considered as descendants of the adopter (Tolentino, Civil Code, Vol. I, 1960 Ed., p. 652, citing 1
Oyuelos 284; Perez, Gonzales and Castan; 4-11 Enneccerus, Kipp & Wolff 177; Muoz P. 104). So
even considered in relation to the rules on succession which are in pari materia, the adoption
under consideration would not be objectionable on the ground alone of the resulting relationship

between the adopter and the adopted. Similar dual relationships also result under our law on
marriage when persons who are already related, by blood or by affinity, marry each other. But as
long as the relationship is not within the degrees prohibited by law, such marriages are allowed
notwithstanding the resulting dual relationship. And as We do not find any provision in the law that
expressly prohibits adoption among relatives, they ought not to be prevented.
For all the foregoing considerations, the decision appealed from is set aside, and the petition for
the adoption of the subject minor, granted. No pronouncement as to costs.
Concepcion, C.J., Reyes, J.B.L., Dizon, Makalintal, Bengzon, J.P., Zaldivar, Sanchez, Castro and
Fernando, JJ., concur.

FIRST DIVISION

CAMILO F. BORROMEO, G.R. No. 159310


Petitioner,
Present:
PUNO, C.J., Chairperson,
- versus - CARPIO,
CORONA,
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, and
BRION, JJ.
ANTONIETTA O. DESCALLAR, Promulgated:
Respondent. February 24, 2009
x--------------------------------------------------x
DECISION

PUNO, C.J.:
What are the rights of an alien (and his successor-in-interest) who acquired real properties in the
country as against his former Filipina girlfriend in whose sole name the properties were registered
under the Torrens system?
The facts are as follows:
Wilhelm Jambrich, an Austrian, arrived in the Philippines in 1983 after he was
assigned by his employer, Simmering-Graz Panker A.G., an Austrian company, to work at a
project in Mindoro. In 1984, he transferred to Cebu and worked at the Naga II Project of the
National Power Corporation. There, he met respondent Antonietta Opalla-Descallar, a
separated mother of two boys who was working as a waitress at St. Moritz Hotel. Jambrich
befriended respondent and asked her to tutor him in English. In dire need of additional
income to support her children, respondent agreed. The tutorials were held in Antoniettas
residence at a squatters area in Gorordo Avenue.
Jambrich and respondent fell in love and decided to live together in a rented house
in Hernan Cortes, Mandaue City. Later, they transferred to their own house and lots at AgroMacro Subdivision, Cabancalan, Mandaue City. In the Contracts to Sell dated November 18,
1985[1] and March 10, 1986[2] covering the properties, Jambrich and respondent were referred

to as the buyers. A Deed of Absolute Sale dated November 16, 1987 [3] was likewise issued in
their favor. However, when the Deed of Absolute Sale was presented for registration before
the Register of Deeds, registration was refused on the ground that Jambrich was an alien and
could not acquire alienable lands of the public domain. Consequently, Jambrichs name was
erased from the document. But it could be noted that his signature remained on the left hand
margin of page 1, beside respondents signature as buyer on page 3, and at the bottom of
page 4 which is the last page. Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) Nos. 24790, 24791 and
24792 over the properties were issued in respondents name alone.
Jambrich also formally adopted respondents two sons in Sp. Proc. No. 39-MAN,
[4]
and per Decision of the Regional Trial Court of Mandaue City dated May 5, 1988.[5]
However, the idyll lasted only until April 1991. By then, respondent found a new
boyfriend while Jambrich began to live with another woman in Danao City. Jambrich
supported respondents sons for only two months after the break up.
Jambrich met petitioner Camilo F. Borromeo sometime in 1986. Petitioner was
engaged in the real estate business. He also built and repaired speedboats as a hobby. In
1989, Jambrich purchased an engine and some accessories for his boat from petitioner, for
which he became indebted to the latter for about P150,000.00. To pay for his debt, he sold
his rights and interests in the Agro-Macro properties to petitioner for P250,000, as evidenced
by a Deed of Absolute Sale/Assignment. [6] On July 26, 1991, when petitioner sought to
register the deed of assignment, he discovered that titles to the three lots have been
transferred in the name of respondent, and that the subject property has already been
mortgaged.
On August 2, 1991, petitioner filed a complaint against respondent for recovery of
real property before the Regional Trial Court of Mandaue City. Petitioner alleged that the
Contracts to Sell dated November 18, 1985 and March 10, 1986 and the Deed of Absolute
Sale dated November 16, 1987 over the properties which identified both Jambrich and
respondent as buyers do not reflect the true agreement of the parties since respondent did
not pay a single centavo of the purchase price and was not in fact a buyer; that it was
Jambrich alone who paid for the properties using his exclusive funds; that Jambrich was the
real and absolute owner of the properties; and, that petitioner acquired absolute ownership
by virtue of the Deed of Absolute Sale/Assignment dated July 11, 1991 which Jambrich
executed in his favor.
In her Answer, respondent belied the allegation that she did not pay a single
centavo of the purchase price. On the contrary, she claimed that she solely and exclusively
used her own personal funds to defray and pay for the purchase price of the subject lots in
question, and that Jambrich, being an alien, was prohibited to acquire or own real property in
the Philippines.
At the trial, respondent presented evidence showing her alleged financial capacity
to buy the disputed property with money from a supposed copra business. Petitioner, in turn,
presented Jambrich as his witness and documentary evidence showing the substantial
salaries which Jambrich received while still employed by the Austrian company, SimmeringGraz Panker A.G.
In its decision, the court a quo found
Evidence on hand clearly show that at the time of the purchase and
acquisition of [the] properties under litigation that Wilhelm Jambrich was still
working and earning much. This fact of Jambrich earning much is not only
supported by documentary evidence but also by the admission made by the
defendant Antoniet[t]a Opalla. So that, Jambrichs financial capacity to
acquire and purchase the properties . . . is not disputed.[7]
xxx
On the other hand, evidence . . . clearly show that before defendant
met Jambrich sometime in the latter part of 1984, she was only working as a
waitress at the St. Moritz Hotel with an income of P1,000.00 a month and
was . . . renting and living only in . . . [a] room at . . . [a] squatter area at
Gorordo Ave., Cebu City; that Jambrich took pity of her and the situation of her
children that he offered her a better life which she readily accepted. In fact,
this miserable financial situation of hers and her two children . . . are all stated
and reflected in the Child Study Report dated April 20, 1983 (Exhs. G and G-1)
which facts she supplied to the Social Worker who prepared the same when
she was personally interviewed by her in connection with the adoption of her
two children by Wilhelm Jambrich. So that, if such facts were not true because
these are now denied by her . . . and if it was also true that during this time
she was already earning as much as P8,000.00 to P9,000.00 as profit per

month from her copra business, it would be highly unbelievable and


impossible for her to be living only in such a miserable condition since it is the
observation of this Court that she is not only an extravagant but also an
expensive person and not thrifty as she wanted to impress this Court in order
to have a big saving as clearly shown by her actuation when she was already
cohabiting and living with Jambrich that according to her . . . the allowance
given . . . by him in the amount of $500.00 a month is not enough to maintain
the education and maintenance of her children.[8]
This being the case, it is highly improbable and impossible
that she could acquire the properties under litigation or could
contribute any amount for their acquisition which according to her is
worth more than P700,000.00 when while she was working as [a]
waitress at St. Moritz Hotel earning P1,000.00 a month as salary and
tips of more or less P2,000.00 she could not even provide [for] the
daily needs of her family so much so that it is safe to conclude that
she was really in financial distress when she met and accepted the
offer of Jambrich to come and live with him because that was a big
financial opportunity for her and her children who were already
abandoned by her husband.[9]
xxx
The only probable and possible reason why her name appeared and
was included in [the contracts to sell dated November 18, 1985 and March 10,
1986 and finally, the deed of absolute sale dated November 16, 1987] as
buyer is because as observed by the Court, she being a scheming and
exploitive woman, she has taken advantage of the goodness of Jambrich who
at that time was still bewitched by her beauty, sweetness, and good attitude
shown by her to him since he could still very well provide for everything she
needs, he being earning (sic)much yet at that time. In fact, as observed by
this Court, the acquisition of these properties under litigation was at the time
when their relationship was still going smoothly and harmoniously.
[10]
[Emphasis supplied.]
The dispositive portion of the Decision states:
WHEREFORE, . . . Decision is hereby rendered in favor of the
plaintiff and against the defendant Antoniet[t]a Opalla by:
1) Declaring plaintiff as the owner in fee simple over the residential
house of strong materials and three parcels of land designated as Lot Nos. 1,
3 and 5 which are covered by TCT Nos. 24790, 24791 and 24792 issued by
the Register of Deeds of Mandaue City;
2) Declaring as null and void TCT Nos. 24790, 24791 and 24792
issued in the name of defendant Antoniet[t]a Descallar by the Register of
Deeds of Mandaue City;
3) Ordering the Register of Deeds of Mandaue City to cancel TCT
Nos. 24790, 24791 and 24792 in the name of defendant Antoniet[t]a
Descallar and to issue new ones in the name of plaintiff Camilo F. Borromeo;
4) Declaring the contracts now marked as Exhibits I, K and L as
avoided insofar as they appear to convey rights and interests over the
properties in question to the defendant Antoniet[t]a Descallar;
5) Ordering the defendant to pay plaintiff attorneys fees in the
amount of P25,000.00 and litigation expenses in the amount of P10,000.00;
and,
6) To pay the costs.[11]
Respondent appealed to the Court of Appeals. In a Decision dated April 10, 2002,
[12]
the appellate court reversed the decision of the trial court. In ruling for the respondent,
the Court of Appeals held:
We disagree with the lower courts conclusion. The circumstances
involved in the case cited by the lower court and similar cases decided on by
the Supreme Court which upheld the validity of the title of the subsequent

Filipino purchasers are absent in the case at bar. It should be noted that in
said cases, the title to the subject property has been issued in the name of
the alien transferee (Godinez et al., vs. Fong Pak Luen et al., 120 SCRA 223
citing Krivenko vs. Register of Deeds of Manila, 79 Phils. 461; United Church
Board for World Ministries vs. Sebastian, 159 SCRA 446, citing the case of
Sarsosa Vda. De Barsobia vs. Cuenco, 113 SCRA 547; Tejido vs. Zamacoma,
138 SCRA 78). In the case at bar, the title of the subject property is not in the
name of Jambrich but in the name of defendant-appellant. Thus, Jambrich
could not have transferred a property he has no title thereto. [13]
Petitioners motion for reconsideration was denied.
Hence, this petition for review.
Petitioner assigns the following errors:
I.
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS SERIOUSLY ERRED IN
DISREGARDING RESPONDENTS JUDICIAL ADMISSION AND OTHER
OVERWHELMING
EVIDENCE
ESTABLISHING
JAMBRICHS
PARTICIPATION, INTEREST AND OWNERSHIP OF THE PROPERTIES IN
QUESTION AS FOUND BY THE HONORABLE TRIAL COURT.
II.

THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS SERIOUSLY ERRED IN


HOLDING THAT JAMBRICH HAS NO TITLE TO THE PROPERTIES IN
QUESTION AND MAY NOT THEREFORE TRANSFER AND ASSIGN ANY
RIGHTS AND INTERESTS IN FAVOR OF PETITIONER.

III.

THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS SERIOUSLY ERRED IN


REVERSING THE WELL-REASONED DECISION OF THE TRIAL COURT
AND IN IMPOSING DOUBLE COSTS AGAINST HEREIN PETITIONER
(THEN, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE).[14]
First, who purchased the subject properties?
The evidence clearly shows, as pointed out by the trial court, who between
respondent and Jambrich possesses the financial capacity to acquire the properties in
dispute. At the time of the acquisition of the properties in 1985 to 1986, Jambrich was
gainfully employed at Simmering-Graz Panker A.G., an Austrian company. He was earning an
estimated monthly salary of P50,000.00. Then, Jambrich was assigned to Syria for almost one
year where his monthly salary was approximately P90,000.00.
On the other hand, respondent was employed as a waitress from 1984 to 1985 with
a monthly salary of not more than P1,000.00. In 1986, when the parcels of land were
acquired, she was unemployed, as admitted by her during the pre-trial conference. Her
allegations of income from a copra business were unsubstantiated. The supposed copra
business was actually the business of her mother and their family, with ten siblings. She has
no license to sell copra, and had not filed any income tax return. All the motorized bancas of
her mother were lost to fire, and the last one left standing was already scrap. Further, the
Child Study Report[15] submitted by the Department of Social Welfare and Development
(DSWD) in the adoption proceedings of respondents two sons by Jambrich disclosed that:
Antonietta tried all types of job to support the children until she was
accepted as a waitress at St. Moritz Restaurant in 1984. At first she had no
problem with money because most of the customers of St. Moritz are (sic)
foreigners and they gave good tips but towards the end of 1984 there were no
more foreigners coming because of the situation in the Philippines at that
time. Her financial problem started then. She was even renting a small room
in a squatters area in Gorordo Ave., Cebu City. It was during her time of great
financial distress that she met Wilhelm Jambrich who later offered her a
decent place for herself and her children.[16]
The DSWD Home Study Report[17] further disclosed that:
[Jambrich] was then at the Restaurant of St. Moritz when he saw
Antonietta Descallar, one of the waitresses of the said Restaurants. He made
friends with the girl and asked her to tutor him in [the] English language.
Antonietta accepted the offer because she was in need of additional income
to support [her] 2 young children who were abandoned by their father. Their
session was agreed to be scheduled every afternoon at the residence of
Antonietta in the squatters area in Gorordo Avenue, Cebu City. The Austrian
was observing the situation of the family particularly the children who were
malnourished. After a few months sessions, Mr. Jambrich offered to transfer
the family into a decent place. He told Antonietta that the place is not good

for the children. Antonietta who was miserable and financially distressed at
that time accepted the offer for the sake of the children. [18]
Further, the following additional pieces of evidence point to Jambrich as the source
of fund used to purchase the three parcels of land, and to construct the house thereon:
(1) Respondent Descallar herself affirmed under oath, during her re-direct
examination and during the proceedings for the adoption of her minor children, that Jambrich
was the owner of the properties in question, but that his name was deleted in the Deed of
Absolute Sale because of legal constraints. Nonetheless, his signature remained in the deed
of sale, where he signed as buyer.
(2) The money used to pay the subject parcels of land in installments was in
postdated checks issued by Jambrich. Respondent has never opened any account with any
bank. Receipts of the installment payments were also in the name of Jambrich and
respondent.
(3) In 1986-1987, respondent lived in Syria with Jambrich and her two children for
ten months, where she was completely under the support of Jambrich.
(4) Jambrich executed a Last Will and Testament, where he, as owner, bequeathed
the subject properties to respondent.
Thus, Jambrich has all authority to transfer all his rights, interests and participation
over the subject properties to petitioner by virtue of the Deed of Assignment he executed on
July 11, 1991.
Well-settled is the rule that this Court is not a trier of facts. The findings of fact of
the trial court are accorded great weight and respect, if not finality by this Court, subject to a
number of exceptions. In the instant case, we find no reason to disturb the factual findings of
the trial court. Even the appellate court did not controvert the factual findings of the trial
court. They differed only in their conclusions of law.
Further, the fact that the disputed properties were acquired during the couples
cohabitation also does not help respondent. The rule that co-ownership applies to a man and
a woman living exclusively with each other as husband and wife without the benefit of
marriage, but are otherwise capacitated to marry each other, does not apply. [19] In the instant
case, respondent was still legally married to another when she and Jambrich lived together. In
such an adulterous relationship, no co-ownership exists between the parties. It is necessary
for each of the partners to prove his or her actual contribution to the acquisition of property
in order to be able to lay claim to any portion of it.Presumptions of co-ownership and equal
contribution do not apply.[20]
Second, we dispose of the issue of registration of the properties in the name of
respondent alone. Having found that the true buyer of the disputed house and lots was the
Austrian Wilhelm Jambrich, what now is the effect of registration of the properties in the
name of respondent?
It is settled that registration is not a mode of acquiring ownership. [21] It is only a
means of confirming the fact of its existence with notice to the world at large. [22]Certificates
of title are not a source of right. The mere possession of a title does not make one the true
owner of the property. Thus, the mere fact that respondent has the titles of the disputed
properties in her name does not necessarily, conclusively and absolutely make her the
owner. The rule on indefeasibility of title likewise does not apply to respondent. A certificate
of title implies that the title is quiet, [23] and that it is perfect, absolute and indefeasible.
[24]
However, there are well-defined exceptions to this rule, as when the transferee is not a
holder in good faith and did not acquire the subject properties for a valuable consideration.
[25]
This is the situation in the instant case.Respondent did not contribute a single centavo in
the acquisition of the properties. She had no income of her own at that time, nor did she have
any savings. She and her two sons were then fully supported by Jambrich.
Respondent argued that aliens are prohibited from acquiring private land. This is
embodied in Section 7, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution, [26] which is basically a
reproduction of Section 5, Article XIII of the 1935 Constitution, [27] and Section 14, Article XIV
of the 1973 Constitution.[28] The capacity to acquire private land is dependent on the capacity
to acquire or hold lands of the public domain. Private land may be transferred only to
individuals or entities qualified to acquire or hold lands of the public domain. Only Filipino
citizens or corporations at least 60% of the capital of which is owned by Filipinos are qualified
to acquire or hold lands of the public domain.Thus, as the rule now stands, the fundamental
law explicitly prohibits non-Filipinos from acquiring or holding title to private lands, except
only by way of legal succession or if the acquisition was made by a former natural-born
citizen.[29]
Therefore, in the instant case, the transfer of land from Agro-Macro Development
Corporation to Jambrich, who is an Austrian, would have been declared invalid if challenged,
had not Jambrich conveyed the properties to petitioner who is a Filipino citizen. In United
Church Board for World Ministries v. Sebastian,[30] the Court reiterated the consistent

ruling in a number of cases [31] that if land is invalidly transferred to an alien who
subsequently becomes a Filipino citizen or transfers it to a Filipino, the flaw in the original
transaction is considered cured and the title of the transferee is rendered
valid. Applying United Church Board for World Ministries, the trial court ruled in favor of
petitioner, viz.:
[W]hile the acquisition and the purchase of (sic) Wilhelm Jambrich
of the properties under litigation [were] void ab initio since [they were]
contrary to the Constitution of the Philippines, he being a foreigner, yet, the
acquisition of these properties by plaintiff who is a Filipino citizen from him,
has cured the flaw in the original transaction and the title of the transferee is
valid.
The trial court upheld the sale by Jambrich in favor of petitioner and ordered the cancellation
of the TCTs in the name of respondent. It declared petitioner as owner in fee simple of the
residential house of strong materials and three parcels of land designated as Lot Nos. 1, 3
and 5, and ordered the Register of Deeds of Mandaue City to issue new certificates of title in
his name. The trial court likewise ordered respondent to pay petitioner P25,000 as attorneys
fees and P10,000 as litigation expenses, as well as the costs of suit.
We affirm the Regional Trial Court.
The rationale behind the Courts ruling in United Church Board for World
Ministries, as reiterated in subsequent cases,[32] is this since the ban on aliens is intended to
preserve the nations land for future generations of Filipinos, that aim is achieved by making
lawful the acquisition of real estate by aliens who became Filipino citizens by naturalization or
those transfers made by aliens to Filipino citizens. As the property in dispute is already in the
hands of a qualified person, a Filipino citizen, there would be no more public policy to be
protected. The objective of the constitutional provision to keep our lands in Filipino hands has
been achieved.
IN VIEW WHEREOF, the petition is GRANTED. The Decision of the Court of
Appeals in C.A. G.R. CV No. 42929 dated April 10, 2002 and its Resolution dated July 8, 2003
are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The Decision of the Regional Trial Court of Mandaue City in
Civil Case No. MAN-1148 is REINSTATED.
SO ORDERED.
REYNATO S. PUNO
Chief Justice
WE CONCUR:

ANTONIO T. CARPIO
Associate Justice
RENATO C. CORONA TERESITA J. LEONARDO-DE CASTRO
Associate Justice Associate Justice
ARTURO D. BRION
Associate Justice
CERTIFICATION
Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, I certify that the conclusions in the above
decision had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the
opinion of the Courts Division.
REYNATO S. PUNO
Chief Justice

FIRST DIVISION

[G.R. No. 143989. July 14, 2003]


ISABELITA S. LAHOM, petitioner, vs. JOSE MELVIN SIBULO (previously referred to as DR.
MELVIN S. LAHOM), respondent.
DECISION
VITUG, J.:
The bliss of marriage and family would be to most less than complete without children. The
realization could have likely prodded the spouses Dr. Diosdado Lahom and Isabelita Lahom to take
into their care Isabelitas nephew Jose Melvin Sibulo and to bring him up as their own. At the tender
age of two, Jose Melvin enjoyed the warmth, love and support of the couple who treated the child
like their own. Indeed, for years, Dr. and Mrs. Lahom fancied on legally adopting Jose
Melvin. Finally, in 1971, the couple decided to file a petition for adoption. On 05 May 1972, an
order granting the petition was issued that made all the more intense than before the feeling of
affection of the spouses for Melvin. In keeping with the court order, the Civil Registrar of Naga City
changed the name Jose Melvin Sibulo to Jose Melvin Lahom.
A sad turn of events came many years later. Eventually, in December of 1999, Mrs. Lahom
commenced a petition to rescind the decree of adoption before the Regional Trial Court (RTC),
Branch 22, of Naga City. In her petition, she averred 7. That x x x despite the proddings and pleadings of said spouses, respondent refused to change
his surname from Sibulo to Lahom, to the frustrations of petitioner particularly her husband until
the latter died, and even before his death he had made known his desire to revoke respondents
adoption, but was prevented by petitioners supplication, however with his further request upon
petitioner to give to charity whatever properties or interest may pertain to respondent in the
future.
xxxxxxxxx
10. That respondent continued using his surname Sibulo to the utter disregard of the feelings of
herein petitioner, and his records with the Professional Regulation Commission showed his name
as Jose Melvin M. Sibulo originally issued in 1978 until the present, and in all his dealings and
activities in connection with his practice of his profession, he is Jose Melvin M. Sibulo.
xxxxxxxxx
13. That herein petitioner being a widow, and living alone in this city with only her household helps
to attend to her, has yearned for the care and show of concern from a son, but respondent
remained indifferent and would only come to Naga to see her once a year.
14. That for the last three or four years, the medical check-up of petitioner in Manila became more
frequent in view of a leg ailment, and those were the times when petitioner would need most the
care and support from a love one, but respondent all the more remained callous and utterly
indifferent towards petitioner which is not expected of a son.
15. That herein respondent has recently been jealous of petitioners nephews and nieces whenever
they would find time to visit her, respondent alleging that they were only motivated by their desire
for some material benefits from petitioner.

16. That in view of respondents insensible attitude resulting in a strained and uncomfortable
relationship between him and petitioner, the latter has suffered wounded feelings, knowing that
after all respondents only motive to his adoption is his expectancy of his alleged rights over the
properties of herein petitioner and her late husband, clearly shown by his recent filing of Civil Case
No. 99-4463 for partition against petitioner, thereby totally eroding her love and affection towards
respondent, rendering the decree of adoption, considering respondent to be the child of petitioner,
for all legal purposes, has been negated for which reason there is no more basis for its existence,
hence this petition for revocation.[1]
Prior to the institution of the case, specifically on 22 March 1998, Republic Act (R.A.) No.
8552, also known as the Domestic Adoption Act, went into effect. The new statute deleted from
the law the right of adopters to rescind a decree of adoption.
Section 19 of Article VI of R.A. No. 8552 now reads:
SEC. 19. Grounds for Rescission of Adoption. Upon petition of the adoptee, with the assistance of
the Department if a minor or if over eighteen (18) years of age but is incapacitated, as
guardian/counsel, the adoption may be rescinded on any of the following grounds committed by
the adopter(s): (a) repeated physical and verbal maltreatment by the adopter(s) despite having
undergone counseling; (b) attempt on the life of the adoptee; (c) sexual assault or violence; or (d)
abandonment and failure to comply with parental obligations.
Adoption, being in the best interest of the child, shall not be subject to rescission by
the adopter(s). However, the adopter(s) may disinherit the adoptee for causes provided
in Article 919 of the Civil Code. (emphasis supplied)
Jose Melvin moved for the dismissal of the petition, contending principally (a) that the trial
court had no jurisdiction over the case and (b) that the petitioner had no cause of action in view of
the aforequoted provisions of R.A. No. 8552. Petitioner asseverated, by way of opposition, that the
proscription in R.A. No. 8552 should not retroactively apply, i.e., to cases where the ground for
rescission of the adoption vested under the regime of then Article 348 [2] of the Civil Code and
Article 192[3] of the Family Code.
In an order, dated 28 April 2000, the trial court held thusly:
On the issue of jurisdiction over the subject matter of the suit, Section 5(c) of R.A. No. 8369
confers jurisdiction to this Court, having been designated Family Court in A.M. No. 99-11-07 SC.
On the matter of no cause of action, the test on the sufficiency of the facts alleged in the
complaint, is whether or not, admitting the facts alleged, the Court could render a valid judgment
in accordance with the prayer of said complaint (De Jesus, et al. vs. Belarmino, et al., 95 Phil. 365).
Admittedly, Section 19, Article VI of R.A. No. 8552 deleted the right of an adopter to rescind an
adoption earlier granted under the Family Code. Conformably, on the face of the petition, indeed
there is lack of cause of action.
Petitioner however, insists that her right to rescind long acquired under the provisions of the
Family Code should be respected. Assuming for the sake of argument, that petitioner is entitled to
rescind the adoption of respondent granted on May 5, 1972, said right should have been exercised
within the period allowed by the Rules. From the averments in the petition, it appears clear that
the legal grounds for the petition have been discovered and known to petitioner for more than five
(5) years, prior to the filing of the instant petition on December 1, 1999, hence, the action if any,
had already prescribed. (Sec. 5, Rule 100 Revised Rules of Court)

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing consideration, the petition is ordered dismissed.[4]


Via a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the 1997 Rules of Court, petitioner
raises the following questions; viz:
1. May the subject adoption, decreed on 05 May 1972, still be revoked or rescinded by
an adopter after the effectivity of R.A. No. 8552?
2. In the affirmative, has the adopters action prescribed?
A brief background on the law and its origins could provide some insights on the subject. In
ancient times, the Romans undertook adoption to assure male heirs in the family. [5] The continuity
of the adopters family was the primary purpose of adoption and all matters relating to it basically
focused on the rights of the adopter. There was hardly any mention about the rights of the
adopted.[6] Countries, like Greece, France, Spain and England, in an effort to preserve inheritance
within the family, neither allowed nor recognized adoption. [7] It was only much later when adoption
was given an impetus in law and still later when the welfare of the child became a paramount
concern.[8] Spain itself which previously disfavored adoption ultimately relented and accepted the
Roman law concept of adoption which, subsequently, was to find its way to the archipelago. The
Americans came and introduced their own ideas on adoption which, unlike most countries in
Europe, made the interests of the child an overriding consideration. [9] In the early part of the
century just passed, the rights of children invited universal attention; the Geneva Declaration of
Rights of the Child of 1924 and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948, [10] followed by
the United Nations Declarations of the Rights of the Child, [11] were written instruments that would
also protect and safeguard the rights of adopted children. The Civil Code of the Philippines [12] of
1950 on adoption, later modified by the Child and Youth Welfare Code [13] and then by the Family
Code of the Philippines,[14] gave immediate statutory acknowledgment to the rights of the
adopted. In 1989, the United Nations initiated the Convention of the Rights of the Child. The
Philippines, a State Party to the Convention, accepted the principle that adoption was impressed
with social and moral responsibility, and that its underlying intent was geared to favor the adopted
child. R.A. No. 8552 secured these rights and privileges for the adopted. Most importantly, it
affirmed the legitimate status of the adopted child, not only in his new family but also in the
society as well. The new law withdrew the right of an adopter to rescind the adoption decree and
gave to the adopted child the sole right to sever the legal ties created by adoption.
Petitioner, however, would insist that R.A. No. 8552 should not adversely affect her right to
annul the adoption decree, nor deprive the trial court of its jurisdiction to hear the case, both
being vested under the Civil Code and the Family Code, the laws then in force.
The concept of vested right is a consequence of the constitutional guaranty of due
process[15] that expresses a present fixed interest which in right reason and natural justice is
protected against arbitrary state action; [16] it includes not only legal or equitable title to the
enforcement of a demand but also exemptions from new obligations created after the right has
become vested.[17] Rights are considered vested when the right to enjoyment is a present interest,
[18]
absolute, unconditional, and perfect[19] or fixed and irrefutable.
In Republic vs. Court of Appeals, [20] a petition to adopt Jason Condat was filed by Zenaida C.
Bobiles on 02 February 1988 when the Child and Youth Welfare Code (Presidential Decree No. 603)
allowed an adoption to be sought by either spouse or both of them. After the trial court had
rendered its decision and while the case was still pending on appeal, the Family Code of the
Philippines (Executive Order No. 209), mandating joint adoption by the husband and
wife, took effect. Petitioner Republic argued that the case should be dismissed for having been
filed by Mrs. Bobiles alone and without being joined by the husband. The Court concluded that
the jurisdiction of the court is determined by the statute in force at the time of the
commencement of the action. The petition to adopt Jason, having been filed with the
court at the time when P.D. No. 603 was still in effect, the right of Mrs. Bobiles to file the

petition, without being joined by her husband, according to the Court had become
vested. In Republic vs. Miller,[21] spouses Claude and Jumrus Miller, both aliens, sought to adopt
Michael Madayag. On 29 July 1988, the couple filed a petition to formalize Michaels adoption
having theretofore been taken into their care. At the time the action was commenced, P.D. No. 603
allowed aliens to adopt. After the decree of adoption and while on appeal before the Court of
Appeals, the Family Code was enacted into law on 08 August 1988 disqualifying aliens from
adopting Filipino children. The Republic then prayed for the withdrawal of the adoption decree. In
discarding the argument posed by the Republic, the Supreme Court ruled that the controversy
should be resolved in the light of the law governing at the time the petition was filed.
It was months after the effectivity of R.A. No. 8552 that herein petitioner filed an action to
revoke the decree of adoption granted in 1975. By then, the new law, [22] had already abrogated
and repealed the right of an adopter under the Civil Code and the Family Code to rescind a decree
of adoption. Consistently with its earlier pronouncements, the Court should now hold that the
action for rescission of the adoption decree, having been initiated by petitioner after R.A. No. 8552
had come into force, no longer could be pursued.
Interestingly, even before the passage of the statute, an action to set aside the adoption is
subject to the fiveyear bar rule under Rule 100 [23] of the Rules of Court and that the adopter would
lose the right to revoke the adoption decree after the lapse of that period. The exercise of the right
within a prescriptive period is a condition that could not fulfill the requirements of a vested right
entitled to protection. It must also be acknowledged that a person has no vested right in statutory
privileges.[24] While adoption has often been referred to in the context of a right, the privilege to
adopt is itself not naturally innate or fundamental but rather a right merely created by statute. [25] It
is a privilege that is governed by the states determination on what it may deem to be for the best
interest and welfare of the child. [26] Matters relating to adoption, including the withdrawal of the
right of an adopter to nullify the adoption decree, are subject to regulation by the State.
[27]
Concomitantly, a right of action given by statute may be taken away at anytime before it has
been exercised.[28]
While R.A. No. 8552 has unqualifiedly withdrawn from an adopter a consequential right to
rescind the adoption decree even in cases where the adoption might clearly turn out to be
undesirable, it remains, nevertheless, the bounden duty of the Court to apply the law. Dura lex sed
lex would be the hackneyed truism that those caught in the law have to live with. It is still
noteworthy, however, that an adopter, while barred from severing the legal ties of adoption, can
always for valid reasons cause the forfeiture of certain benefits otherwise accruing to an
undeserving child. For instance, upon the grounds recognized by law, an adopter may deny to an
adopted child his legitime and, by a will and testament, may freely exclude him from having a
share in the disposable portion of his estate.
WHEREFORE, the assailed judgment of the court a quo is AFFIRMED. No costs.
SO ORDERED.
Davide, Jr., C.J., (Chairman), Ynares-Santiago, Carpio, and Azcuna, JJ., concur.

FIRST DIVISION
[G.R. No. 150611. June 10, 2003]

JACINTO

SAGUID, petitioner, vs. HON. COURT OF APPEALS, THE REGIONAL


COURT, BRANCH 94, BOAC, MARINDUQUE and GINA S. REY,respondents.

TRIAL

DECISION
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:
The regime of limited co-ownership of property governing the union of parties who are not
legally capacitated to marry each other, but who 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 extent thereof, their contributions and
corresponding shares shall be presumed to be equal.[1]
Seventeen-year old Gina S. Rey was married, [2] but separated de facto from her husband,
when she met petitioner Jacinto Saguid in Marinduque, sometime in July 1987. [3] After a brief
courtship, the two decided to cohabit as husband and wife in a house built on a lot owned by
Jacintos father.[4] Their cohabitation was not blessed with any children. Jacinto made a living as the
patron of their fishing vessel Saguid Brothers. [5] Gina, on the other hand, worked as a fish dealer,
but decided to work as an entertainer in Japan from 1992 to 1994 when her relationship with
Jacintos relatives turned sour. Her periodic absence, however, did not ebb away the conflict with
petitioners relatives. In 1996, the couple decided to separate and end up their 9-year cohabitation.
[6]

On January 9, 1997, private respondent filed a complaint for Partition and Recovery of
Personal Property with Receivership against the petitioner with the Regional Trial Court of Boac,
Marinduque. She alleged that from her salary of $1,500.00 a month as entertainer in Japan, she
was able to contribute P70,000.00 in the completion of their unfinished house.Also, from her own
earnings as an entertainer and fish dealer, she was able to acquire and accumulate appliances,
pieces of furniture and household effects, with a total value of P111,375.00. She prayed that she
be declared the sole owner of these personal properties and that the amount of P70,000.00,
representing her contribution to the construction of their house, be reimbursed to her.
Private respondent testified that she deposited part of her earnings in her savings account
with First Allied Development Bank. [7] Her Pass Book shows that as of May 23, 1995, she had a
balance of P21,046.08.[8] She further stated that she had a total of P35,465.00 [9] share in the joint
account deposit which she and the petitioner maintained with the same bank.[10]Gina declared that
said deposits were spent for the purchase of construction materials, appliances and other personal
properties.[11]
In his answer[12] to the complaint, petitioner claimed that the expenses for the construction
of their house were defrayed solely from his income as a captain of their fishing vessel.He averred
that private respondents meager income as fish dealer rendered her unable to contribute in the
construction of said house. Besides, selling fish was a mere pastime to her; as such, she was
contented with the small quantity of fish allotted to her from his fishing trips. Petitioner further
contended that Gina did not work continuously in Japan from 1992 to 1994, but only for a 6-month
duration each year. When their house was repaired and improved sometime in 1995-1996, private
respondent did not share in the expenses because her earnings as entertainer were spent on the
daily needs and business of her parents. From his income in the fishing business, he claimed to
have saved a total of P130,000.00, P75,000.00 of which was placed in a joint account deposit with
private respondent. This savings, according to petitioner was spent in purchasing the disputed
personal properties.
On May 21, 1997, the trial court declared the petitioner as in default for failure to file a pretrial brief as required by Supreme Court Circular No. 1-89.[13]

On May 26, 1997, petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration [14] of the May 21, 1997 order,
which was denied on June 2, 1997, and private respondent was allowed to present evidence ex
parte.[15] Petitioner filed another motion for reconsideration but the same was also denied on
October 8, 1997.
On July 15, 1998, a decision[16] was rendered in favor of private respondent, the dispositive
portion of which reads:
WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing, judgment is hereby rendered in favor of the plaintiff Gina
S. Rey against defendant Jacinto Saguid:
a) Ordering the partition of the house identified as plaintiffs Exhibit C and D and directing the
defendant to return and/or reimburse to the plaintiff the amount of seventy thousand pesos
(P70,000,00) which the latter actually contributed to its construction and completion;
b) Declaring the plaintiff as the exclusive owner of the personal properties listed on Exhibit M;
c) Ordering the defendant, and/or anyone in possession of the aforesaid personal properties, to
return and/or deliver the same to the plaintiff; and
d) Ordering the defendant to pay the plaintiff moral damages in the sum of fifty thousand pesos
(P50,000.00) plus the costs of suit.
SO ORDERED.[17]
On appeal, said decision was affirmed by the Court of Appeals; however, the award of
P50,000.00 as moral damages was deleted for lack of basis. [18] The appellate court ruled that the
propriety of the order which declared the petitioner as in default became moot and academic in
view of the effectivity of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure. It explained that the new rules now
require the filing of a pre-trial brief and the defendants non-compliance therewith entitles the
plaintiff to present evidence ex parte.
Both parties filed motions for reconsideration which were denied; hence, petitioner filed the
instant petition based on the following assigned errors:
A.
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS COMMIT[TED] A REVERSIBLE ERROR IN APPLYING
RETROACTIVELY THE 1997 RULES OF CIVIL PROCEDURE IN THE PRESENT CASE AND HOLDING THE
FIRST ASSIGNED ERROR THEREIN MOOT AND ACADEMIC THUS, FAILED TO RULE ON THE
PROPRIETY OF THE TRIAL COURTS REFUSAL TO SET ASIDE THE ORDER OF DEFAULT DUE TO
MISTAKE AND/OR EXCUSABLE NEGLIGENCE COMMITTED BY PETITIONER.
B.
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS COMMIT[TED] A REVERSIBLE ERROR IN RELYING ON THE
FACTUAL FINDINGS OF THE TRIAL COURT WHICH RECEIVED THE EVIDENCE OF HEREIN
RESPONDENT ONLY EX PARTE.[19]
The issues for resolution are: (1) whether or not the trial court erred in allowing private
respondent to present evidence ex parte; and (2) whether or not the trial courts decision is
supported by evidence.

Under Section 6, Rule 18 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, the failure of the defendant to
file a pre-trial brief shall have the same effect as failure to appear at the pre-trial, i.e., the plaintiff
may present his evidence ex parte and the court shall render judgment on the basis thereof. [20] The
remedy of the defendant is to file a motion for reconsideration [21] showing that his failure to file a
pre-trial brief was due to fraud, accident, mistake or excusable neglect. [22] The motion need not
really stress the fact that the defendant has a valid and meritorious defense because his answer
which contains his defenses is already on record.[23]
In the case at bar, petitioner insists that his failure to file a pre-trial brief is justified because
he was not represented by counsel. This justification is not, however, sufficient to set aside the
order directing private respondent to present evidence ex parte, inasmuch as the petitioner chose
at his own risk not to be represented by counsel. Even without the assistance of a lawyer,
petitioner was able to file a motion for extension to file answer, [24] the required answer stating
therein the special and affirmative defenses,[25] and several other motions.[26] If it were true that
petitioner did not understand the import of the April 23, 1997 order directing him to file a pre-trial
brief, he could have inquired from the court or filed a motion for extension of time to file the
brief. Instead, he waited until May 26, 1997, or 14 days from his alleged receipt of the April 23,
1997 order before he filed a motion asking the court to excuse his failure to file a brief. Pre-trial
rules are not to be belittled or dismissed because their non-observance may result in prejudice to
a partys substantive rights. Like all rules, they should be followed except only for the most
persuasive of reasons when they may be relaxed to relieve a litigant of an injustice not
commensurate with the degree of his thoughtlessness in not complying with the procedure
prescribed.[27]
In the instant case, the fact that petitioner was not assisted by a lawyer is not a persuasive
reason to relax the application of the rules. There is nothing in the Constitution which mandates
that a party in a non-criminal proceeding be represented by counsel and that the absence of such
representation amounts to a denial of due process. The assistance of lawyers, while desirable, is
not indispensable. The legal profession is not engrafted in the due process clause such that
without the participation of its members the safeguard is deemed ignored or violated.[28]
However, the Court of Appeals erred in ruling that the effectivity of the 1997 Rules of Civil
Procedure, specifically, Section 6, Rule 18 thereof, rendered moot and academic the issue of
whether or not the plaintiff may be allowed to present evidence ex parte for failure of the
defendant to file a pre-trial brief. While the rules may indeed be applied retroactively, the same is
not called for in the case at bar. Even before the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure took effect on July 1,
1997, the filing of a pre-trial brief was required under Circular No. 1-89 which became effective on
February 1, 1989. Pursuant to the said circular, [f]ailure to file pre-trial briefs may be given the
same effect as the failure to appear at the pre-trial, that is, the party may be declared non-suited
or considered as in default.[29]
Coming now to the substantive issue, it is not disputed that Gina and Jacinto were not
capacitated to marry each other because the former was validly married to another man at the
time of her cohabitation with the latter. Their property regime therefore is governed by Article
148[30] of the Family Code, which applies to bigamous marriages, adulterous relationships,
relationships in a state of concubinage, relationships where both man and woman are married to
other persons, and multiple alliances of the same married man. Under this regime, only the
properties acquired by both of the parties through their actual joint contribution of money,
property, or industry shall be owned by them in common in proportion to their respective
contributions ...[31] Proof of actual contribution is required.[32]
In the case at bar, although the adulterous cohabitation of the parties commenced in 1987,
which is before the date of the effectivity of the Family Code on August 3, 1998, Article 148 thereof
applies because this provision was intended precisely to fill up the hiatus in Article 144 of the Civil
Code.[33] Before Article 148 of the Family Code was enacted, there was no provision governing
property relations of couples living in a state of adultery or concubinage. Hence, even if the

cohabitation or the acquisition of the property occurred before the Family Code took effect, Article
148 governs.[34]
In the cases of Agapay v. Palang,[35] and Tumlos v. Fernandez,[36] which involved the issue of
co-ownership of properties acquired by the parties to a bigamous marriage and an adulterous
relationship, respectively, we ruled that proof of actual contribution in the acquisition of the
property is essential. The claim of co-ownership of the petitioners therein who were parties to the
bigamous and adulterous union is without basis because they failed to substantiate their
allegation that they contributed money in the purchase of the disputed properties. Also in Adriano
v. Court of Appeals,[37] we ruled that the fact that the controverted property was titled in the name
of the parties to an adulterous relationship is not sufficient proof of co-ownership absent evidence
of actual contribution in the acquisition of the property.
As in other civil cases, the burden of proof rests upon the party who, as determined by the
pleadings or the nature of the case, asserts an affirmative issue. Contentions must be proved by
competent evidence and reliance must be had on the strength of the partys own evidence and not
upon the weakness of the opponents defense. [38] This applies with more vigor where, as in the
instant case, the plaintiff was allowed to present evidence ex parte. The plaintiff is not
automatically entitled to the relief prayed for. The law gives the defendant some measure of
protection as the plaintiff must still prove the allegations in the complaint. Favorable relief can be
granted only after the court is convinced that the facts proven by the plaintiff warrant such relief.
[39]
Indeed, the party alleging a fact has the burden of proving it and a mere allegation is not
evidence.[40]
In the case at bar, the controversy centers on the house and personal properties of the
parties. Private respondent alleged in her complaint that she contributed P70,000.00 for the
completion of their house. However, nowhere in her testimony did she specify the extent of her
contribution. What appears in the record are receipts [41] in her name for the purchase of
construction materials on November 17, 1995 and December 23, 1995, in the total amount of
P11,413.00.
On the other hand, both parties claim that the money used to purchase the disputed
personal properties came partly from their joint account with First Allied Development Bank. While
there is no question that both parties contributed in their joint account deposit, there is, however,
no sufficient proof of the exact amount of their respective shares therein.Pursuant to Article 148 of
the Family Code, in the absence of proof of extent of the parties respective contribution, their
share shall be presumed to be equal. Here, the disputed personal properties were valued at
P111,375.00, the existence and value of which were not questioned by the petitioner. Hence, their
share therein is equivalent to one-half, i.e., P55,687.50 each.
The Court of Appeals thus erred in affirming the decision of the trial court which granted the
reliefs prayed for by private respondent. On the basis of the evidence established, the extent of
private respondents co-ownership over the disputed house is only up to the amount of P11,413.00,
her proven contribution in the construction thereof. Anent the personal properties, her
participation therein should be limited only to the amount of P55,687.50.
As regards the trial courts award of P50,000.00 as moral damages, the Court of Appeals
correctly deleted the same for lack of basis.
WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing, the Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R.
CV No. 64166 is AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION. Private respondent Gina S. Rey is declared coowner of petitioner Jacinto Saguid in the controverted house to the extent of P11,413.00 and
personal properties to the extent of P55,687.50. Petitioner is ordered to reimburse the amount of
P67,100.50 to private respondent, failing which the house shall be sold at public auction to satisfy
private respondents claim.

SO ORDERED.
Davide, Jr., C.J., (Chairman), Vitug, Carpio, and Azcuna, JJ., concur.

SECOND DIVISION
[G.R. No. 118305. February 12, 1998]
AYALA INVESTMENT & DEVELOPMENT CORP. and ABELARDO MAGSAJO, petitioners,
vs. COURT
OF
APPEALS
and
SPOUSES
ALFREDO
&
ENCARNACION
CHING, respondents.
DECISION
MARTINEZ, J.:
Under Article 161 of the Civil Code, what debts and obligations contracted by the husband
alone are considered for the benefit of the conjugal partnership which are chargeable against the
conjugal partnership? Is a surety agreement or an accommodation contract entered into by the
husband in favor of his employer within the contemplation of the said provision?
These are the issues which we will resolve in this petition for review.
The petitioner assails the decision dated April 14, 1994 of the respondent Court of Appeals
in Spouses Alfredo and Encarnacion Ching vs. Ayala Investment and Development Corporation, et.
al., docketed as CA-G.R. CV No. 29632,[1] upholding the decision of the Regional Trial Court of
Pasig, Branch 168, which ruled that the conjugal partnership of gains of respondents-spouses
Alfredo and Encarnacion Ching is not liable for the payment of the debts secured by respondenthusband Alfredo Ching.
A chronology of the essential antecedent facts is necessary for a clear understanding of the
case at bar.
Philippine Blooming Mills (hereinafter referred to as PBM) obtained a P50,300,000.00 loan
from petitioner Ayala Investment and Development Corporation (hereinafter referred to as
AIDC). As added security for the credit line extended to PBM, respondent Alfredo Ching, Executive
Vice President of PBM, executed security agreements on December 10, 1980 and on March 20,
1981 making himself jointly and severally answerable with PBMs indebtedness to AIDC.
PBM failed to pay the loan. Thus, on July 30, 1981, AIDC filed a case for sum of money
against PBM and respondent-husband Alfredo Ching with the then Court of First Instance of Rizal
(Pasig), Branch VIII, entitled Ayala Investment and Development Corporation vs. Philippine
Blooming Mills and Alfredo Ching, docketed as Civil Case No. 42228.
After trial, the court rendered judgment ordering PBM and respondent-husband Alfredo
Ching to jointly and severally pay AIDC the principal amount of P50,300,000.00 with interests.
Pending appeal of the judgment in Civil Case No. 42228, upon motion of AIDC, the lower
court issued a writ of execution pending appeal. Upon AIDCs putting up of an P8,000,000.00 bond,
a writ of execution dated May 12, 1982 was issued. Thereafter, petitioner Abelardo Magsajo, Sr.,
Deputy Sheriff of Rizal and appointed sheriff in Civil Case No. 42228, caused the issuance and
service upon respondents-spouses of a notice of sheriff sale dated May 20, 1982 on three (3) of
their conjugal properties. Petitioner Magsajo then scheduled the auction sale of the properties
levied.
On June 9, 1982, private respondents filed a case of injunction against petitioners with the
then Court of First Instance of Rizal (Pasig), Branch XIII, to enjoin the auction sale alleging that
petitioners cannot enforce the judgment against the conjugal partnership levied on the ground
that, among others, the subject loan did not redound to the benefit of the said conjugal
partnership.[2] Upon application of private respondents, the lower court issued a temporary
restraining order to prevent petitioner Magsajo from proceeding with the enforcement of the writ
of execution and with the sale of the said properties at public auction.
AIDC filed a petition for certiorari before the Court of Appeals, [3] questioning the order of the
lower court enjoining the sale. Respondent Court of Appeals issued a Temporary Restraining Order
on June 25, 1982, enjoining the lower court [4] from enforcing its Order of June 14, 1982, thus
paving the way for the scheduled auction sale of respondents-spouses conjugal properties.
On June 25, 1982, the auction sale took place. AIDC being the only bidder, was issued a
Certificate of Sale by petitioner Magsajo, which was registered on July 2, 1982. Upon expiration of
the redemption period, petitioner sheriff issued the final deed of sale on August 4, 1982 which was
registered on August 9, 1983.
In the meantime, the respondent court, on August 4, 1982, decided CA-G.R. SP No. 14404, in
this manner:
WHEREFORE, the petition for certiorari in this case is granted and the challenged
order of the respondent Judge dated June 14, 1982 in Civil Case No. 46309 is hereby
set aside and nullified. The same petition insofar as it seeks to enjoin the

respondent Judge from proceeding with Civil Case No. 46309 is, however,
denied. No pronouncement is here made as to costs. x x x x.[5]
On September 3, 1983, AIDC filed a motion to dismiss the petition for injunction filed before
Branch XIII of the CFI of Rizal (Pasig) on the ground that the same had become moot and academic
with the consummation of the sale. Respondents filed their opposition to the motion arguing,
among others, that where a third party who claims ownership of the property attached or levied
upon, a different legal situation is presented; and that in this case, two (2) of the real properties
are actually in the name of Encarnacion Ching, a non-party to Civil Case No. 42228.
The lower court denied the motion to dismiss. Hence, trial on the merits proceeded. Private
respondents presented several witnesses. On the other hand, petitioners did not present any
evidence.
On September 18, 1991, the trial court promulgated its decision declaring the sale on
execution null and void. Petitioners appealed to the respondent court, which was docketed as CAG.R. CV No. 29632.
On April 14, 1994, the respondent court promulgated the assailed decision, affirming the
decision of the regional trial court. It held that:
The loan procured from respondent-appellant AIDC was for the advancement and
benefit of Philippine Blooming Mills and not for the benefit of the conjugal
partnership of petitioners-appellees.
xxxxxxxxx
As to the applicable law, whether it is Article 161 of the New Civil Code or Article
1211 of the Family Code-suffice it to say that the two provisions are substantially
the same.Nevertheless, We agree with the trial court that the Family Code is the
applicable law on the matter x x x x x x.
Article 121 of the Family Code provides that The conjugal partnership shall be liable
for: x x x (2) All debts and obligations contracted during the marriage by the
designated Administrator-Spouse for the benefit of the conjugal partnership of gains
x x x. The burden of proof that the debt was contracted for the benefit of the
conjugal partnership of gains, lies with the creditor-party litigant claiming as
such. In the case at bar, respondent-appellant AIDC failed to prove that the debt
was contracted by appellee-husband, for the benefit of the conjugal partnership of
gains.
The dispositive portion of the decision reads:
WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing, judgment is hereby rendered DISMISSING
the appeal. The decision of the Regional Trial Court is AFFIRMED in toto.[6]
Petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration which was denied by the respondent court in a
Resolution dated November 28, 1994.[7]
Hence, this petition for review. Petitioner contends that the respondent court erred in ruling
that the conjugal partnership of private respondents is not liable for the obligation by the
respondent-husband.
Specifically, the errors allegedly committed by the respondent court are as follows:
I. RESPONDENT COURT ERRED IN RULING THAT THE OBLIGATION INCURRED BY
RESPONDENT HUSBAND DID NOT REDOUND TO THE BENEFIT OF THE CONJUGAL
PARTNERSHIP OF THE PRIVATE RESPONDENT.
II RESPONDENT COURT ERRED IN RULING THAT THE ACT OF RESPONDENT HUSBAND
IN SECURING THE SUBJECT LOAN IS NOT PART OF HIS INDUSTRY, BUSINESS OR
CAREER FROM WHICH HE SUPPORTS HIS FAMILY.
Petitioners in their appeal point out that there is no need to prove that actual benefit
redounded to the benefit of the partnership; all that is necessary, they say, is that the transaction
was entered into for the benefit of the conjugal partnership. Thus, petitioners aver that:
The wordings of Article 161 of the Civil Code is very clear: for the partnership to be
held liable, the husband must have contracted the debt for the benefit of the
partnership, thus:
Art. 161. The conjugal partnership shall be liable for:
1) all debts and obligations contracted by the husband
for the benefit of the conjugal partnership x x x.
There is a difference between the phrases: redounded to the benefit of or benefited
from (on the one hand) and for the benefit of (on the other). The former require that
actual benefit must have been realized; the latter requires only that the transaction
should be one which normally would produce benefit to the partnership, regardless
of whether or not actual benefit accrued.[8]
We do not agree with petitioners that there is a difference between the terms redounded to
the benefit of or benefited from on the one hand; and for the benefit of on the other. They mean
one and the same thing. Article 161 (1) of the Civil Code and Article 121 (2) of the Family Code are
similarly worded, i.e., both use the term for the benefit of. On the other hand, Article 122 of the

Family Code provides that The payment of personal debts by the husband or the wife before or
during the marriage shall not be charged to the conjugal partnership except insofar as they
redounded to the benefit of the family. As can be seen, the terms are used interchangeably.
Petitioners further contend that the ruling of the respondent court runs counter to the
pronouncement of this Court in the case of Cobb-Perez vs. Lantin,[9] that the husband as head of
the family and as administrator of the conjugal partnership is presumed to have contracted
obligations for the benefit of the family or the conjugal partnership.
Contrary to the contention of the petitioners, the case of Cobb-Perez is not applicable in the
case at bar. This Court has, on several instances, interpreted the term for the benefit of the
conjugal partnership.
In the cases of Javier vs. Osmea,[10] Abella de Diaz vs. Erlanger & Galinger, Inc.,[11] CobbPerez vs. Lantin[12] and G-Tractors, Inc. vs. Court of Appeals,[13] cited by the petitioners, we held
that:
The debts contracted by the husband during the marriage relation, for and in the
exercise of the industry or profession by which he contributes toward the support of
his family, are not his personal and private debts, and the products or income from
the wifes own property, which, like those of her husbands, are liable for the
payment of the marriage expenses, cannot be excepted from the payment of such
debts. (Javier)
The husband, as the manager of the partnership (Article 1412, Civil Code), has a
right to embark the partnership in an ordinary commercial enterprise for gain, and
the fact that the wife may not approve of a venture does not make it a private and
personal one of the husband. (Abella de Diaz)
Debts contracted by the husband for and in the exercise of the industry or
profession by which he contributes to the support of the family, cannot be deemed
to be his exclusive and private debts. (Cobb-Perez)
x x x if he incurs an indebtedness in the legitimate pursuit of his career or
profession or suffers losses in a legitimate business, the conjugal partnership must
equally bear the indebtedness and the losses, unless he deliberately acted to the
prejudice of his family. (G-Tractors)
However, in the cases of Ansaldo vs. Sheriff of Manila, Fidelity Insurance & Luzon Insurance
Co.,[14] Liberty Insurance Corporation vs. Banuelos,[15] and Luzon Surety Inc. vs. De Garcia,[16] cited
by the respondents, we ruled that:
The fruits of the paraphernal property which form part of the assets of the conjugal
partnership, are subject to the payment of the debts and expenses of the spouses,
but not to the payment of the personal obligations (guaranty agreements) of the
husband, unless it be proved that such obligations were productive of some benefit
to the family. (Ansaldo; parenthetical phrase ours.)
When there is no showing that the execution of an indemnity agreement by the
husband redounded to the benefit of his family, the undertaking is not a conjugal
debt but an obligation personal to him. (Liberty Insurance)
In the most categorical language, a conjugal partnership under Article 161 of the
new Civil Code is liable only for such debts and obligations contracted by the
husband for the benefit of the conjugal partnership. There must be the requisite
showing then of some advantage which clearly accrued to the welfare of the
spouses. Certainly, to make a conjugal partnership respond for a liability that should
appertain to the husband alone is to defeat and frustrate the avowed objective of
the new Civil Code to show the utmost concern for the solidarity and well-being of
the family as a unit. The husband, therefore, is denied the power to assume
unnecessary and unwarranted risks to the financial stability of the conjugal
partnership. (Luzon Surety, Inc.)
From the foregoing jurisprudential rulings of this Court, we can derive the following
conclusions:
(A) If the husband himself is the principal obligor in the contract, i.e., he directly received the
money and services to be used in or for his own business or his own profession, that contract falls
within the term x x x x obligations for the benefit of the conjugal partnership. Here, no actual
benefit may be proved. It is enough that the benefit to the family is apparent at the time of the
signing of the contract. From the very nature of the contract of loan or services, the family stands
to benefit from the loan facility or services to be rendered to the business or profession of the
husband. It is immaterial, if in the end, his business or profession fails or does not succeed. Simply
stated, where the husband contracts obligations on behalf of the family business, the law
presumes, and rightly so, that such obligation will redound to the benefit of the conjugal
partnership.
(B) On the other hand, if the money or services are given to another person or entity, and the
husband acted only as a surety or guarantor, that contract cannot, by itself, alone be categorized

as falling within the context of obligations for the benefit of the conjugal partnership. The contract
of loan or services is clearly for the benefit of the principal debtor and not for the surety or his
family. No presumption can be inferred that, when a husband enters into a contract of surety or
accommodation agreement, it is for the benefit of the conjugal partnership. Proof must be
presented to establish benefit redounding to the conjugal partnership.
Thus, the distinction between the Cobb-Perez case, and we add, that of the three other
companion cases, on the one hand, and that of Ansaldo, Liberty Insurance and Luzon Surety, is
that in the former, the husband contracted the obligation for his own business; while in the latter,
the husband merely acted as a surety for the loan contracted by another for the latters business.
The evidence of petitioner indubitably show that co-respondent Alfredo Ching signed as
surety for the P50M loan contracted on behalf of PBM. Petitioner should have adduced evidence to
prove that Alfredo Chings acting as surety redounded to the benefit of the conjugal
partnership. The reason for this is as lucidly explained by the respondent court:
The loan procured from respondent-appellant AIDC was for the advancement and
benefit of Philippine Blooming Mills and not for the benefit of the conjugal
partnership of petitioners-appellees. Philippine Blooming Mills has a personality
distinct and separate from the family of petitioners-appellees - this despite the fact
that the members of the said family happened to be stockholders of said corporate
entity.
xxxxxxxxx
x x x. The burden of proof that the debt was contracted for the benefit of the
conjugal partnership of gains, lies with the creditor-party litigant claiming as
such. In the case at bar, respondent-appellant AIDC failed to prove that the debt
was contracted by appellee-husband, for the benefit of the conjugal partnership of
gains. What is apparent from the facts of the case is that the judgment debt was
contracted by or in the name of the Corporation Philippine Blooming Mills and
appellee-husband only signed as surety thereof. The debt is clearly a corporate debt
and respondent-appellants right of recourse against appellee-husband as surety is
only to the extent of his corporate stockholdings. It does not extend to the conjugal
partnership of gains of the family of petitioners-appellees. x x x x x x. [17]
Petitioners contend that no actual benefit need accrue to the conjugal partnership. To
support this contention, they cite Justice J.B.L. Reyes authoritative opinion in the Luzon Surety
Company case:
I concur in the result, but would like to make of record that, in my opinion, the
words all debts and obligations contracted by the husband for the benefit of the
conjugal partnership used in Article 161 of the Civil Code of the Philippines in
describing the charges and obligations for which the conjugal partnership is liable
do not require that actual profit or benefit must accrue to the conjugal partnership
from the husbands transaction; but it suffices that the transaction should be one
that normally would produce such benefit for the partnership. This is the ratio
behind our ruling in Javier vs. Osmea, 34 Phil. 336, that obligations incurred by the
husband in the practice of his profession are collectible from the conjugal
partnership.
The aforequoted concurring opinion agreed with the majority decision that the conjugal
partnership should not be made liable for the surety agreement which was clearly for the benefit
of a third party. Such opinion merely registered an exception to what may be construed as a
sweeping statement that in all cases actual profit or benefit must accrue to the conjugal
partnership. The opinion merely made it clear that no actual benefits to the family need be proved
in some cases such as in the Javier case. There, the husband was the principal obligor
himself. Thus, said transaction was found to be one that would normally produce x x x benefit for
the partnership. In the later case of G-Tractors, Inc., the husband was also the principal obligor not merely the surety. This latter case, therefore, did not create any precedent. It did not also
supersede the Luzon Surety Company case, nor any of the previous accommodation contract
cases, where this Court ruled that they were for the benefit of third parties.
But it could be argued, as the petitioner suggests, that even in such kind of contract of
accommodation, a benefit for the family may also result, when the guarantee is in favor of the
husbands employer.
In the case at bar, petitioner claims that the benefits the respondent family would
reasonably anticipate were the following:
(a) The employment of co-respondent Alfredo Ching would be prolonged and he
would be entitled to his monthly salary of P20,000.00 for an extended length of
time because of the loan he guaranteed;
(b) The shares of stock of the members of his family would appreciate if the PBM
could be rehabilitated through the loan obtained;

(c) His prestige in the corporation would be enhanced and his career would be
boosted should PBM survive because of the loan.
However, these are not the benefits contemplated by Article 161 of the Civil Code. The
benefits must be one directly resulting from the loan. It cannot merely be a by-product or a spinoff of the loan itself.
In all our decisions involving accommodation contracts of the husband, [18] we underscored
the requirement that: there must be the requisite showing x x x of some advantage which clearly
accrued to the welfare of the spouses or benefits to his family or that such obligations are
productive of some benefit to the family. Unfortunately, the petition did not present any proof to
show: (a) Whether or not the corporate existence of PBM was prolonged and for how many months
or years; and/or (b) Whether or not the PBM was saved by the loan and its shares of stock
appreciated, if so, how much and how substantial was the holdings of the Ching family.
Such benefits (prospects of longer employment and probable increase in the value of stocks)
might have been already apparent or could be anticipated at the time the accommodation
agreement was entered into. But would those benefits qualify the transaction as one of the
obligations x x x for the benefit of the conjugal partnership? Are indirect and remote probable
benefits, the ones referred to in Article 161 of the Civil Code? The Court of Appeals in denying the
motion for reconsideration, disposed of these questions in the following manner:
No matter how one looks at it, the debt/credit extended by respondents-appellants
is purely a corporate debt granted to PBM, with petitioner-appellee-husband merely
signing as surety. While such petitioner-appellee-husband, as such surety, is
solidarily liable with the principal debtor AIDC, such liability under the Civil Code
provisions is specifically restricted by Article 122 (par. 1) of the Family Code, so that
debts for which the husband is liable may not be charged against conjugal
partnership properties. Article 122 of the Family Code is explicit The payment of
personal debts contracted by the husband or the wife before or during the marriage
shall not be charged to the conjugal partnership except insofar as they redounded
to the benefit of the family.
Respondents-appellants insist that the corporate debt in question falls under the
exception laid down in said Article 122 (par. one). We do not agree. The loan
procured from respondent-appellant AIDC was for the sole advancement and benefit
of Philippine Blooming Mills and not for the benefit of the conjugal partnership of
petitioners-appellees.
x x x appellee-husband derives salaries, dividends benefits from Philippine
Blooming Mills (the debtor corporation), only because said husband is an employee
of said PBM.These salaries and benefits, are not the benefits contemplated by
Articles 121 and 122 of the Family Code. The benefits contemplated by the
exception in Article 122 (Family Code) is that benefit derived directly from the use
of the loan. In the case at bar, the loan is a corporate loan extended to PBM and
used by PBM itself, not by petitioner-appellee-husband or his family. The alleged
benefit, if any, continuously harped by respondents-appellants, are not only
incidental but also speculative.[19]
We agree with the respondent court. Indeed, considering the odds involved in guaranteeing
a large amount (P50,000,000.00) of loan, the probable prolongation of employment in PBM and
increase in value of its stocks, would be too small to qualify the transaction as one for the benefit
of the suretys family. Verily, no one could say, with a degree of certainty, that the said contract is
even productive of some benefits to the conjugal partnership.
We likewise agree with the respondent court (and this view is not contested by the
petitioners) that the provisions of the Family Code is applicable in this case. These provisions
highlight the underlying concern of the law for the conservation of the conjugal partnership; for
the husbands duty to protect and safeguard, if not augment, not to dissipate it.
This is the underlying reason why the Family Code clarifies that the obligations entered into
by one of the spouses must be those that redounded to the benefit of the family and that the
measure of the partnerships liability is to the extent that the family is benefited. [20]
These are all in keeping with the spirit and intent of the other provisions of the Civil Code
which prohibits any of the spouses to donate or convey gratuitously any part of the conjugal
property.[21] Thus, when co-respondent Alfredo Ching entered into a surety agreement he, from
then on, definitely put in peril the conjugal property (in this case, including the family home) and
placed it in danger of being taken gratuitously as in cases of donation.
In the second assignment of error, the petitioner advances the view that acting as surety is
part of the business or profession of the respondent-husband.
This theory is new as it is novel.
The respondent court correctly observed that:
Signing as a surety is certainly not an exercise of an industry or profession, hence
the cited cases of Cobb-Perez vs. Lantin; Abella de Diaz vs. Erlanger & Galinger; G-

Tractors, Inc. vs. CA do not apply in the instant case. Signing as a surety is not
embarking in a business.[22]
We are likewise of the view that no matter how often an executive acted or was persuaded to act,
as a surety for his own employer, this should not be taken to mean that he had thereby embarked
in the business of suretyship or guaranty.
This is not to say, however, that we are unaware that executives are often asked to stand as
surety for their companys loan obligations. This is especially true if the corporate officials have
sufficient property of their own; otherwise, their spouses signatures are required in order to bind
the conjugal partnerships.
The fact that on several occasions the lending institutions did not require the signature of
the wife and the husband signed alone does not mean that being a surety became part of his
profession. Neither could he be presumed to have acted for the conjugal partnership.
Article 121, paragraph 3, of the Family Code is emphatic that the payment of personal debts
contracted by the husband or the wife before or during the marriage shall not be charged to the
conjugal partnership except to the extent that they redounded to the benefit of the family.
Here, the property in dispute also involves the family home. The loan is a corporate loan not
a personal one. Signing as a surety is certainly not an exercise of an industry or profession nor an
act of administration for the benefit of the family.
On the basis of the facts, the rules, the law and equity, the assailed decision should be
upheld as we now uphold it. This is, of course, without prejudice to petitioners right to enforce the
obligation in its favor against the PBM receiver in accordance with the rehabilitation program and
payment schedule approved or to be approved by the Securities & Exchange Commission.
WHEREFORE, the petition for review should be, as it is hereby, DENIED for lack of merit.
SO ORDERED.
Regalado, (Chairman), Melo, Puno, and Mendoza, JJ., concur.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
THIRD DIVISION
G.R. No. 193707
December 10, 2014
NORMA A. DEL SOCORRO, for and in behalf of her minor child RODERIGO NORJO VAN
WILSEM,Petitioner,
vs.
ERNST JOHAN BRINKMAN VAN WILSEM, Respondent.
DECISION
PERALTA, J.:
Before the Court is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court seeking to
reverse and set aside the Orders1 dated February 19, 2010 and September 1, 2010, respectively,
of the Regional Trial Court of Cebu City (RTC-Cebu), which dismissed the criminal case entitled
People of the Philippines v. Ernst Johan Brinkman Van Wilsem, docketed as Criminal Case No. CBU85503, for violation of Republic Act (R.A.) No. 9262, otherwise known as the Anti-Violence Against
Women and Their Children Act of 2004.
The following facts are culled from the records:
Petitioner Norma A. Del Socorro and respondent Ernst Johan Brinkman Van Wilsem contracted
marriage in Holland on September 25, 1990.2 On January 19, 1994, they were blessed with a son
named Roderigo Norjo Van Wilsem, who at the time of the filing of the instant petition was sixteen
(16) years of age.3
Unfortunately, their marriage bond ended on July 19, 1995 by virtue of a Divorce Decree issued by
the appropriate Court of Holland.4 At that time, their son was only eighteen (18) months
old.5 Thereafter, petitioner and her son came home to the Philippines. 6
According to petitioner, respondentmade a promise to provide monthly support to their son in the
amount of Two Hundred Fifty (250) Guildene (which is equivalent to Php17,500.00 more or
less).7 However, since the arrival of petitioner and her son in the Philippines, respondent never
gave support to the son, Roderigo.8
Not long thereafter, respondent cameto the Philippines and remarried in Pinamungahan, Cebu, and
since then, have been residing thereat.9 Respondent and his new wife established a business
known as Paree Catering, located at Barangay Tajao, Municipality of Pinamungahan, Cebu City. 10 To
date, all the parties, including their son, Roderigo, are presently living in Cebu City. 11
On August 28, 2009, petitioner, through her counsel, sent a letter demanding for support from
respondent. However, respondent refused to receive the letter.12
Because of the foregoing circumstances, petitioner filed a complaint affidavit with the Provincial
Prosecutor of Cebu City against respondent for violation of Section 5, paragraph E(2) of R.A. No.
9262 for the latters unjust refusal to support his minor child with petitioner.13 Respondent
submitted his counter-affidavit thereto, to which petitioner also submitted her reply-

affidavit.14 Thereafter, the Provincial Prosecutor of Cebu City issued a Resolution recommending
the filing of an information for the crime charged against herein respondent.
The information, which was filed with the RTC-Cebu and raffled to Branch 20 thereof, states that:
That sometime in the year 1995 and up to the present, more or less, in the Municipality of
Minglanilla, Province of Cebu, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the
above-named accused, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and deliberately deprive, refuse and
still continue to deprive his son RODERIGO NORJO VAN WILSEM, a fourteen (14) year old minor, of
financial support legally due him, resulting in economic abuse to the victim. CONTRARY TO LAW.15
Upon motion and after notice and hearing, the RTC-Cebu issued a Hold Departure Order against
respondent.16Consequently, respondent was arrested and, subsequently, posted bail. 17 Petitioner
also filed a Motion/Application of Permanent Protection Order to which respondent filed his
Opposition.18 Pending the resolution thereof, respondent was arraigned. 19 Subsequently, without
the RTC-Cebu having resolved the application of the protection order, respondent filed a Motion to
Dismiss on the ground of: (1) lack of jurisdiction over the offense charged; and (2) prescription of
the crime charged.20
On February 19, 2010, the RTC-Cebu issued the herein assailed Order,21 dismissing the instant
criminal case against respondent on the ground that the facts charged in the information do not
constitute an offense with respect to the respondent who is analien, the dispositive part of which
states:
WHEREFORE, the Court finds that the facts charged in the information do not constitute an offense
with respect to the accused, he being an alien, and accordingly, orders this case DISMISSED.
The bail bond posted by accused Ernst Johan Brinkman Van Wilsem for his provisional liberty
ishereby cancelled (sic) and ordered released.
SO ORDERED.
Cebu City, Philippines, February 19, 2010.22
Thereafter, petitioner filed her Motion for Reconsideration thereto reiterating respondents
obligation to support their child under Article 19523 of the Family Code, thus, failure todo so makes
him liable under R.A. No. 9262 which "equally applies to all persons in the Philippines who are
obliged to support their minor children regardless of the obligors nationality." 24
On September 1, 2010, the lower court issued an Order25 denying petitioners Motion for
Reconsideration and reiterating its previous ruling. Thus:
x x x The arguments therein presented are basically a rehash of those advanced earlier in the
memorandum of the prosecution. Thus, the court hereby reiterates its ruling that since the
accused is a foreign national he is not subject to our national law (The Family Code) in regard to a
parents duty and obligation to givesupport to his child. Consequently, he cannot be charged of
violating R.A. 9262 for his alleged failure to support his child. Unless it is conclusively established
that R.A. 9262 applies to a foreigner who fails to give support tohis child, notwithstanding that he
is not bound by our domestic law which mandates a parent to give such support, it is the
considered opinion of the court that no prima faciecase exists against the accused herein, hence,
the case should be dismissed.
WHEREFORE, the motion for reconsideration is hereby DENIED for lack of merit.
SO ORDERED.
Cebu City, Philippines, September 1, 2010.26
Hence, the present Petition for Review on Certiorari raising the following issues:
1. Whether or not a foreign national has an obligation to support his minor child under
Philippine law; and
2. Whether or not a foreign national can be held criminally liable under R.A. No. 9262 for
his unjustified failure to support his minor child.27
At the outset, let it be emphasized that We are taking cognizance of the instant petition despite
the fact that the same was directly lodged with the Supreme Court, consistent with the ruling in
Republic v. Sunvar Realty Development Corporation, 28 which lays down the instances when a ruling
of the trial court may be brought on appeal directly to the Supreme Court without violating the
doctrine of hierarchy of courts, to wit:
x x x Nevertheless, the Rules do not prohibit any of the parties from filing a Rule 45 Petition with
this Court, in case only questions of law are raised or involved. This latter situation was one that
petitioners found themselves in when they filed the instant Petition to raise only questions of law.
In Republic v. Malabanan, the Court clarified the three modes of appeal from decisions of the RTC,
to wit: (1) by ordinary appeal or appeal by writ of error under Rule 41, whereby judgment was
rendered in a civil or criminal action by the RTC in the exercise of its original jurisdiction; (2) by a
petition for review under Rule 42, whereby judgment was rendered by the RTC in the exercise of its
appellate jurisdiction; and (3) by a petition for review on certiorari before the Supreme Court under
Rule 45. "The first mode of appeal is taken to the [Court of Appeals] on questions of fact or mixed
questions of fact and law. The second mode of appeal is brought to the CA on questions of fact, of
law, or mixed questions of fact and law. The third mode of appealis elevated to the Supreme Court
only on questions of law." (Emphasis supplied)

There is a question of law when the issue does not call for an examination of the probative value
of the evidence presented or of the truth or falsehood of the facts being admitted, and the doubt
concerns the correct application of law and jurisprudence on the matter. The resolution of the
issue must rest solely on what the law provides on the given set of circumstances. 29
Indeed, the issues submitted to us for resolution involve questions of law the response thereto
concerns the correct application of law and jurisprudence on a given set of facts, i.e.,whether or
not a foreign national has an obligation to support his minor child under Philippine law; and
whether or not he can be held criminally liable under R.A. No. 9262 for his unjustified failure to do
so.
It cannot be negated, moreover, that the instant petition highlights a novel question of law
concerning the liability of a foreign national who allegedly commits acts and omissions punishable
under special criminal laws, specifically in relation to family rights and duties. The inimitability of
the factual milieu of the present case, therefore, deserves a definitive ruling by this Court, which
will eventually serve as a guidepost for future cases. Furthermore, dismissing the instant petition
and remanding the same to the CA would only waste the time, effort and resources of the courts.
Thus, in the present case, considerations of efficiency and economy in the administration of justice
should prevail over the observance of the hierarchy of courts.
Now, on the matter of the substantive issues, We find the petition meritorious. Nonetheless, we do
not fully agree with petitioners contentions.
To determine whether or not a person is criminally liable under R.A. No. 9262, it is imperative that
the legal obligation to support exists.
Petitioner invokes Article 19530 of the Family Code, which provides the parents obligation to
support his child. Petitioner contends that notwithstanding the existence of a divorce decree
issued in relation to Article 26 of the Family Code,31 respondent is not excused from complying with
his obligation to support his minor child with petitioner.
On the other hand, respondent contends that there is no sufficient and clear basis presented by
petitioner that she, as well as her minor son, are entitled to financial support. 32 Respondent also
added that by reason of the Divorce Decree, he is not obligated topetitioner for any financial
support.33
On this point, we agree with respondent that petitioner cannot rely on Article 195 34 of the New Civil
Code in demanding support from respondent, who is a foreign citizen, since Article 15 35 of the New
Civil Code stresses the principle of nationality. In other words, insofar as Philippine laws are
concerned, specifically the provisions of the Family Code on support, the same only applies to
Filipino citizens. By analogy, the same principle applies to foreigners such that they are governed
by their national law with respect to family rights and duties.36
The obligation to give support to a child is a matter that falls under family rights and duties. Since
the respondent is a citizen of Holland or the Netherlands, we agree with the RTC-Cebu that he is
subject to the laws of his country, not to Philippinelaw, as to whether he is obliged to give support
to his child, as well as the consequences of his failure to do so. 37
In the case of Vivo v. Cloribel,38 the Court held that
Furthermore, being still aliens, they are not in position to invoke the provisions of the Civil Code of
the Philippines, for that Code cleaves to the principle that family rights and duties are governed by
their personal law, i.e.,the laws of the nation to which they belong even when staying in a foreign
country (cf. Civil Code, Article 15).39
It cannot be gainsaid, therefore, that the respondent is not obliged to support petitioners son
under Article195 of the Family Code as a consequence of the Divorce Covenant obtained in
Holland. This does not, however, mean that respondent is not obliged to support petitioners son
altogether.
In international law, the party who wants to have a foreign law applied to a dispute or case has the
burden of proving the foreign law.40 In the present case, respondent hastily concludes that being a
national of the Netherlands, he is governed by such laws on the matter of provision of and
capacity to support.41 While respondent pleaded the laws of the Netherlands in advancing his
position that he is not obliged to support his son, he never proved the same.
It is incumbent upon respondent to plead and prove that the national law of the Netherlands does
not impose upon the parents the obligation to support their child (either before, during or after the
issuance of a divorce decree), because Llorente v. Court of Appeals,42 has already enunciated that:
True, foreign laws do not prove themselves in our jurisdiction and our courts are not authorized to
takejudicial notice of them. Like any other fact, they must be alleged and proved.43
In view of respondents failure to prove the national law of the Netherlands in his favor, the
doctrine of processual presumption shall govern. Under this doctrine, if the foreign law involved is
not properly pleaded and proved, our courts will presume that the foreign law is the same as our
local or domestic or internal law.44 Thus, since the law of the Netherlands as regards the obligation
to support has not been properly pleaded and proved in the instant case, it is presumed to be the
same with Philippine law, which enforces the obligation of parents to support their children and
penalizing the non-compliance therewith.

Moreover, while in Pilapil v. Ibay-Somera,45 the Court held that a divorce obtained in a foreign land
as well as its legal effects may be recognized in the Philippines in view of the nationality principle
on the matter of status of persons, the Divorce Covenant presented by respondent does not
completely show that he is notliable to give support to his son after the divorce decree was issued.
Emphasis is placed on petitioners allegation that under the second page of the aforesaid
covenant, respondents obligation to support his child is specifically stated,46which was not
disputed by respondent.
We likewise agree with petitioner that notwithstanding that the national law of respondent states
that parents have no obligation to support their children or that such obligation is not punishable
by law, said law would still not find applicability,in light of the ruling in Bank of America, NT and SA
v. American Realty Corporation,47 to wit:
In the instant case, assuming arguendo that the English Law on the matter were properly pleaded
and proved in accordance with Section 24, Rule 132 of the Rules of Court and the jurisprudence
laid down in Yao Kee, et al. vs. Sy-Gonzales, said foreign law would still not find applicability.
Thus, when the foreign law, judgment or contract is contrary to a sound and established public
policy of the forum, the said foreign law, judgment or order shall not be applied.
Additionally, prohibitive laws concerning persons, their acts or property, and those which have for
their object public order, public policy and good customs shall not be rendered ineffective by laws
or judgments promulgated, or by determinations or conventions agreed upon in a foreign country.
The public policy sought to be protected in the instant case is the principle imbedded in our
jurisdiction proscribing the splitting up of a single cause of action.
Section 4, Rule 2 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure is pertinent

If two or more suits are instituted on the basis of the same cause of action, the filing of one or a
judgment upon the merits in any one is available as a ground for the dismissal of the others.
Moreover, foreign law should not be applied when its application would work undeniable injustice
to the citizens or residents of the forum. To give justice is the most important function of law;
hence, a law, or judgment or contract that is obviously unjust negates the fundamental principles
of Conflict of Laws.48
Applying the foregoing, even if the laws of the Netherlands neither enforce a parents obligation to
support his child nor penalize the noncompliance therewith, such obligation is still duly
enforceable in the Philippines because it would be of great injustice to the child to be denied of
financial support when the latter is entitled thereto.
We emphasize, however, that as to petitioner herself, respondent is no longer liable to support his
former wife, in consonance with the ruling in San Luis v. San Luis,49 to wit:
As to the effect of the divorce on the Filipino wife, the Court ruled that she should no longerbe
considered marriedto the alien spouse. Further, she should not be required to perform her marital
duties and obligations. It held:
To maintain, as private respondent does, that, under our laws, petitioner has to be considered still
married to private respondent and still subject to a wife's obligations under Article 109, et. seq. of
the Civil Code cannot be just. Petitioner should not be obliged to live together with, observe
respect and fidelity, and render support to private respondent. The latter should not continue to be
one 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 to be served. (Emphasis added) 50
Based on the foregoing legal precepts, we find that respondent may be made liable under Section
5(e) and (i) of R.A. No. 9262 for unjustly refusing or failing to give support topetitioners son, to
wit:
SECTION 5. Acts of Violence Against Women and Their Children.- The crime of violence against
women and their children is committed through any of the following acts:
xxxx
(e) Attempting to compel or compelling the woman or her child to engage in conduct which the
woman or her child has the right to desist from or desist from conduct which the woman or her

child has the right to engage in, or attempting to restrict or restricting the woman's or her child's
freedom of movement or conduct by force or threat of force, physical or other harm or threat of
physical or other harm, or intimidation directed against the woman or child. This shall include,
butnot limited to, the following acts committed with the purpose or effect of controlling or
restricting the woman's or her child's movement or conduct:
xxxx
(2) Depriving or threatening to deprive the woman or her children of financial support legally due
her or her family, or deliberately providing the woman's children insufficient financial support; x x
xx
(i) Causing mental or emotional anguish, public ridicule or humiliation to the woman or her child,
including, but not limited to, repeated verbal and emotional abuse, and denial of financial support
or custody of minor childrenof access to the woman's child/children.51
Under the aforesaid special law, the deprivation or denial of financial support to the child is
considered anact of violence against women and children.
In addition, considering that respondent is currently living in the Philippines, we find strength in
petitioners claim that the Territoriality Principle in criminal law, in relation to Article 14 of the New
Civil Code, applies to the instant case, which provides that: "[p]enal laws and those of public
security and safety shall be obligatory upon all who live and sojourn in Philippine territory, subject
to the principle of public international law and to treaty stipulations." On this score, it is
indisputable that the alleged continuing acts of respondent in refusing to support his child with
petitioner is committed here in the Philippines as all of the parties herein are residents of the
Province of Cebu City. As such, our courts have territorial jurisdiction over the offense charged
against respondent. It is likewise irrefutable that jurisdiction over the respondent was acquired
upon his arrest.
Finally, we do not agree with respondents argument that granting, but not admitting, that there is
a legal basis for charging violation of R.A. No. 9262 in the instant case, the criminal liability has
been extinguished on the ground of prescription of crime52 under Section 24 of R.A. No. 9262,
which provides that:
SECTION 24. Prescriptive Period. Acts falling under Sections 5(a) to 5(f) shall prescribe in twenty
(20) years. Acts falling under Sections 5(g) to 5(I) shall prescribe in ten (10) years.
The act of denying support to a child under Section 5(e)(2) and (i) of R.A. No. 9262 is a continuing
offense,53which started in 1995 but is still ongoing at present. Accordingly, the crime charged in
the instant case has clearly not prescribed.
Given, however, that the issue on whether respondent has provided support to petitioners child
calls for an examination of the probative value of the evidence presented, and the truth and
falsehood of facts being admitted, we hereby remand the determination of this issue to the RTCCebu which has jurisdiction over the case.
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The Orders dated February 19, 2010 and September 1,
2010, respectively, of the Regional Trial Court of the City of Cebu are hereby REVERSED and SET
ASIDE. The case is REMANDED to the same court to conduct further proceedings based on the
merits of the case.
SO ORDERED.
DIOSDADO M. PERALTA
Associate Justice
WE CONCUR:
CERTIFICATION
Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution and the Division Chairperson's Attestation, I
certify that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the
case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court's Division.
MARIA LOURDES P.A. SERENO
Chief Justice