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G.R. No. 148311.

March 31, 2005

It stated that the use of surname is fixed by law, as provided


for under the Family Code, however, the law is silent as to
what middle name a child may use.

IN THE MATTER OF THE ADOPTION OF STEPHANIE


NATHY ASTORGA GARCIA
HONORATO B. CATINDIG, petitioner.

Notably, the law is likewise silent as to what middle


name an adoptee may use. Article 365 of the Civil Code
merely provides that "an adopted child shall bear the
surname of the adopter." Also, Article 189 of the Family Code,
enumerating the legal effects of adoption, is likewise silent on
the matter, thus:

SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ, J.:

FACTS:

Honorato B. Catindig, herein petitioner, filed a petition to


adopt his minor illegitimate child Stephanie Nathy Astorga
Garcia. He alleged therein, among others, that Stephanie was
born on June 26, 1994; that her mother is Gemma Astorga
Garcia; that Stephanie has been using her mothers middle
name and surname; and that he is now a widower and
qualified to be her adopting parent. He prayed that
Stephanies middle name Astorga be changed to "Garcia,"
her mothers surname, and that her surname "Garcia" be
changed to "Catindig," his surname.

The trial court granted the petition, in the absence of any


opposition to the same. It also found out that the petitioner is
qualified to maintain, care for and educate the child to be
adopted and that the grant of the petition would redound to
the best interest and welfare of the minor. Pursuant to Article
189 of the Family Code of the Philippines, the minor,
according to the Court, shall be known as STEPHANIE NATHY
CATINDIG.

The petitioner then filed a motion for clarification and/or


reconsideration praying that Stephanie be allowed to use the
surname of her natural mother (GARCIA) as her middle name,
however, the trial court denied the same holding that there is
no law or jurisprudence allowing an adopted child to use the
surname of his biological mother as his middle name.

"(1) For civil purposes, the adopted shall be deemed to be


a legitimate child of the adopters and both shall acquire
the reciprocal rights and obligations arising from the
relationship of parent and child, including the right of the
adopted to use the surname of the adopters;
x x x"

As correctly pointed out by the Office of the Solicitor General,


the members of the Civil Code and Family Law Committees
that drafted the Family Code recognized the Filipino
custom of adding the surname of the childs mother as
his middle name. In the Minutes of the Joint Meeting of the
Civil Code and Family Law Committees, the members
approved the suggestion that the initial or surname of the
mother should immediately precede the surname of
the father.

In said minutes, Justice Caguioa stated that it should be


mandatory for the child to use the surname of the
father and permissive in the case of the surname of
the mother. He likewise suggested that it shall be
mandatory on the child to use the surname of the
father but he may use the surname of the mother by
way of an initial or a middle name.

In the case of an adopted child, the law provides that "the


adopted shall bear the surname of the adopters." Again, it is
silent whether he can use a middle name. What it only
expressly allows, as a matter of right and obligation, is for the
adoptee to bear the surname of the adopter, upon issuance of
the decree of adoption.

ISSUE:

Whether or not an illegitimate child may use the surname of


her mother as her middle name when she is subsequently
adopted by her natural father?

RULING:

The Supreme Court found merit in the petition.

The Court added that Adoption is defined as the process of


making a child, whether related or not to the adopter, possess
in general, the rights accorded to a legitimate child. It is a
juridical act, a proceeding in rem which creates between two
persons a relationship similar to that which results from
legitimate paternity and filiation. The modern trend is to
consider adoption not merely as an act to establish a
relationship of paternity and filiation, but also as an act which
endows the child with a legitimate status. The same is
confirmed in 1989, when the Philippines, as a State Party
to the Convention of the Rights of the Child initiated by
the United Nations, accepted the principle that
adoption is impressed with social and moral
responsibility, and that its underlying intent is geared
to favor the adopted child. Republic Act No. 8552,
otherwise known as the "Domestic Adoption Act of
1998," secures these rights and privileges for the adopted.

One of the effects of adoption is that the adopted is deemed


to be a legitimate child of the adopter for all intents and
purposes pursuant to Article 189 of the Family Code and
Section 17 Article V of RA 8552.

Being a legitimate child by virtue of her adoption, it


follows that Stephanie is entitled to all the rights
provided by law to a legitimate child without
discrimination of any kind, including the right to bear
the surname of her father and her mother, as discussed
above.

Additionally, as aptly stated by both parties, Stephanies


continued use of her mothers surname (Garcia) as her middle
name will maintain her maternal lineage. Article 189(3) of the
Family Code and Section 18, Article V of RA 8552 (law on
adoption) provide that the adoptee remains an intestate heir
of his/her biological parent. Hence, Stephanie can well assert
or claim her hereditary rights from her natural mother in the
future.

Lastly, the Court held that adoption statutes should be


liberally construed to carry out the beneficent purposes of
adoption. The interests and welfare of the adopted child are of
primary and paramount consideration, hence, every
reasonable intendment should be sustained to promote the
noble and compassionate objectives of the law.

Art. 10 of the New Civil Code provides that:

"In case of doubt in the interpretation or application of laws, it


is presumed that the lawmaking body intended right and
justice to prevail."

This provision, according to the Code Commission, "is


necessary so that it may tip the scales in favor of right and
justice when the law is doubtful or obscure. It will strengthen
the determination of the courts to avoid an injustice which
may apparently be authorized by some way of interpreting
the law."

Hence, since there is no law prohibiting an illegitimate


child adopted by her natural father, like Stephanie, to use, as
middle name her mothers surname, the Court found no
reason why she should not be allowed to do so. WHEREFORE,
the petition was GRANTED.

G.R. No. 164948

June 27, 2006

DIWATA
RAMOS
LANDINGIN Petitioner,
vs.
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent.

CALLEJO, SR., J.:

consent of Amelia Ramos to the adoption. Petitioner, likewise,


failed to present any documentary evidence to prove that
Amelia assented to the adoption.

FACTS:

Nonetheless, the trial court granted the petition.

Diwata Ramos Landingin, a citizen of the United States of


America (USA), of Filipino parentage and a resident of Guam,
USA, filed a petition for the adoption of minors Elaine Dizon
Ramos, Elma Dizon Ramos, and Eugene Dizon Ramos, all of
whom are the natural children of Manuel Ramos, petitioners
brother, and Amelia Ramos.

The OSG appealed the decision to the Court of Appeals and


the latter reversed the ruling of the RTC. It held that petitioner
failed to adduce in evidence the voluntary consent of Amelia
Ramos, the childrens natural mother. Moreover, the affidavit
of consent of the petitioners children could not also be
admitted in evidence as the same was executed in Guam, USA
and was not authenticated or acknowledged before a
Philippine consular office, and although petitioner has a job,
she was not stable enough to support the children.

Landingin, as petitioner, alleged in her petition that when


Manuel died, the children were left to their paternal
grandmother, Maria Taruc Ramos. Their biological mother,
Amelia, went to Italy, re-married there, and now has two
children by her second marriage. She no longer
communicated with her children by Manuel Ramos nor with
her in-laws from the time did she left up to the institution of
the adoption.

Petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration but the CA denied


the same.

ISSUE:

The minors are being financially supported by the petitioner,


her children, and relatives abroad. As Maria, the grandmother
passed away, petitioner wanted to adopt the children.
Petitioner avers that the minors have given their written
consent to the adoption and that she is qualified to adopt as
shown by the fact that she is a 57-year-old widow, has
children of her own who are already married, gainfully
employed and have their respective families. Her children
likewise gave their written consent to the adoption of the
minors.

Petitioners brother, Mariano Ramos, who earns substantial


income, likewise signified his willingness and commitment to
support the minors while in petitioners custody.

The court ordered the Department of Social Welfare and


Development (DSWD) to conduct a case study and to submit a
report thereon.

Elizabeth Pagbilao, the Social Welfare Officer of the DSWD in


Tarlac, submitted a Child Study Report with a recommendation
that the minors are eligible for adoption. In the report, the
mother of the children allegedly voluntarily consented to the
said adoption in view of her inability to provide the parental
care, guidance and support they need. An Affidavit of Consent
was likewise executed by the mother which was attached in
the report.

A joint affidavit was also attached wherein the three minors


expressed their willingness to be adopted and be joined with
the petitioner in the USA.

Whether or not the petitioner is entitled to adopt the minors?

RULING:

The petition was denied by the Supreme Court for lack of


merit.

Section 9 of the Domestic Adoption Act of 1998, provides:

Whose Consent is Necessary to the Adoption. - After being


properly counseled and informed of his/her right to give or
withhold his/her approval of the adoption, the written consent
of the following to the adoption is hereby required:

(a) The adoptee, if ten (10) years of age or over;


(b) The biological parent(s) of the child, if known, or
the legal guardian, or the proper government
instrumentality which has legal custody of the child;
(c) The legitimate and adopted sons/daughters, ten
(10) years of age or over, of the adopter(s) and
adoptee, if any;
(d) The illegitimate sons/daughters, ten (10) years of
age or over, of the adopter, if living with said adopter
and the latters souse, if any;
(e) The spouse, if any, of the person adopting or to
be adopted.

During trial, petitioner failed to present Pagbilao (the social


worker) as witness and offer in evidence the voluntary

The general requirement of consent and notice to the natural


parents is intended to protect the natural parental relationship
from unwarranted interference by interlopers, and to insure
the opportunity to safeguard the best interests of the child in
the manner of the proposed adoption.

Clearly, the written consent of the biological parents is


indispensable for the validity of a decree of adoption.
Indeed, the natural right of a parent to his child
requires that his consent must be obtained before his
parental rights and duties may be terminated and reestablished in adoptive parents. In this case, petitioner
failed to submit the written consent of Amelia Ramos
to the adoption.

Petitioner argued that the written consent of the biological


mother is no longer necessary because the latter had
effectively abandoned the children, however, the SC declared
that petitioners contention must be rejected. When she filed
her petition with the trial court, Rep. Act No. 8552 was already
in effect. Section 9 thereof provides that if the written
consent of the biological parents cannot be obtained,
the written consent of the legal guardian of the minors
will suffice. If, as claimed by petitioner, that the
biological mother of the minors had indeed abandoned
them, she should, thus have adduced the written
consent of their legal guardian.

Ordinarily, abandonment by a parent to justify the adoption of


his child without his consent is a conduct which evinces a
settled purpose to forego all parental duties. The term means
neglect and refusal to perform the filial and legal obligations
of love and support. If a parent withholds presence, love, care,
the opportunity to display filial affection, and neglects to lend
support and maintenance, the parent, in effect, abandons the
child. Merely permitting the child to remain for a time
undisturbed in the care of others is not such an
abandonment. To dispense with the requirement of consent,
the abandonment must be shown to have existed at the time
of adoption.

In this case, petitioner relied solely on her testimony and that


of Elaine Ramos to prove her claim that Amelia Ramos had
abandoned her children. However, the Home Study Report of
the DSWD Social Worker stated that the childrens mother

sends financial support but very minimal. It was also shown in


the report that the eldest child consults her mother and
petitioner-aunt during serious problems, as such, Amelia had
not intended to abandon her children, or to permanently sever
their mother-child relationship. She did not surrender or
relinquish entirely her motherly obligations of rearing the
children to her now deceased mother-in-law.

The Court emphasized that the adoption of the minors will


have the effect of severing all legal ties between the
biological mother, Amelia, and the adoptees, and that the
same shall then be vested on the adopter. It would thus be
against the spirit of the law if financial consideration
were to be the paramount consideration in deciding
whether to deprive a person of parental authority over
his/her children. More proof has to be adduced that
Amelia has emotionally abandoned the children, and
that the latter will not miss her guidance and counsel if
they are given to an adopting parent. It is the best
interest of the child that takes precedence in adoption.

Petitioner likewise failed to offer in evidence Pagbilaos Report


and of the Joint Affidavit of Consent purportedly executed by
her children. She also failed to prove the affidavit of consent
by her children since the same was not authenticated not
acknowledged before a Philippine Consular Office.

The CA ruled that petitioner was not stable enough to support


the children and is only relying on the financial backing,
support and commitment of her children and her siblings. The
law, however, states that it is the adopter who should
be in a position to provide support in keeping with the
means of the family. The ability to support the
adoptees is personal to the adopter, as adoption only
creates a legal relation between the former and the
latter. Moreover, the records do not prove nor support
petitioners allegation that her siblings and her children are
financially able and that they are willing to support the minors
herein.

While the Court recognizes that petitioner has only the best of
intentions for her nieces and nephew, there are legal
infirmities that militate against reversing the ruling of the CA.
In any case, petitioner is not prevented from filing a new
petition for adoption of the herein minors.