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Republic of the Philippines On May 12, 2000, we dismissed the petition for habeas corpus4 for lack of merit,

e dismissed the petition for habeas corpus4 for lack of merit, and
SUPREME COURT granted the petition5 to nullify the Court of Appeals' ruling6 giving visitation rights to
Manila Erlinda K. Ilusorio.7

FIRST DIVISION What is now before the Court is Erlinda's motion to reconsider the decision.8

G.R. No. 139789 July 19, 2001 On September 20, 2000, we set the case for preliminary conference on October 11,
2000, at 10:00 a. m., without requiring the mandatory presence of the parties.
IN THE MATTER OF THE PETITION FOR HABEAS CORPUS OF POTENCIANO
ILUSORIO, ERLINDA K. ILUSORIO, petitioner, In that conference, the Court laid down the issues to be resolved, to wit:
vs.
ERLINDA K. ILUSORIO-BILDNER, SYLVIA K. ILUSORIO-YAP, JOHN DOES and
(a) To determine the propriety of a physical and medical examination of
JANE DOES, respondents.
petitioner Potenciano Ilusorio;

x---------------------------------------------------------x
(b) Whether the same is relevant; and

G.R. No. 139808 July 19, 2001


(c) If relevant, how the Court will conduct the same.9

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


The parties extensively discussed the issues. The Court, in its resolution, enjoined the
ILUSORIO, petitioners,
parties and their lawyers to initiate steps towards an amicable settlement of the case
vs.
through mediation and other means.
HON. COURT OF APPEALS and ERLINDA K. ILUSORIO, respondents.

On November 29, 2000, the Court noted the manifestation and compliance of the
RESOLUTION
parties with the resolution of October 11, 2000.10

PARDO, J.:
On January 31, 2001, the Court denied Erlinda Ilusorio's manifestation and motion
praying that Potenciano Ilusorio be produced before the Court and be medically
Once again we see the sad tale of a prominent family shattered by conflicts on examined by a team of medical experts appointed by the Court.11
expectancy in fabled fortune.
On March 27, 2001, we denied with finality Erlinda's motion to reconsider the Court's
On March 11, 1999, Erlinda K. Ilusorio, the matriarch who was so lovingly inseparable order of January 31 , 2001.12
from her husband some years ago, filed a petition with the Court of
Appeals1 for habeas corpus to have custody of her husband in consortium.
The issues raised by Erlinda K. Ilusorio in her motion for reconsideration are mere
reiterations of her arguments that have been resolved in the decision.
On April 5, 1999, the Court of Appeals promulgated its decision dismissing the petition
for lack of unlawful restraint or detention of the subject, Potenciano Ilusorio.
Nevertheless, for emphasis, we shall discuss the issues thus:

Thus, on October 11, 1999, Erlinda K. Ilusorio filed with the Supreme Court an
First. Erlinda K. Ilusorio claimed that she was not compelling Potenciano to live with
appeal via certiorari pursuing her desire to have custody of her husband Potenciano
her in consortium and that Potenciano's mental state was not an issue. However, the
Ilusorio.2 This case was consolidated with another case3 filed by Potenciano Ilusorio
very root cause of the entire petition is her desire to have her
and his children, Erlinda I. Bildner and Sylvia K. Ilusorio appealing from the order
husband's custody.13 Clearly, Erlinda cannot now deny that she wanted Potenciano
giving visitation rights to his wife, asserting that he never refused to see her.
Ilusorio to live with her.
Second. One reason why Erlinda K. Ilusorio sought custody of her husband was that feeling between husband and wife experienced not only by having spontaneous
respondents Lin and Sylvia were illegally restraining Potenciano Ilusorio to sexual intimacy but a deep sense of spiritual communion. Marital union is a two-way
fraudulently deprive her of property rights out of pure greed.14 She claimed that her process.
two children were using their sick and frail father to sign away Potenciano and
Erlinda's property to companies controlled by Lin and Sylvia. She also argued that
Marriage is definitely for two loving adults who view the relationship with "amor gignit
since Potenciano retired as director and officer of Baguio Country Club and Philippine
amorem" respect, sacrifice and a continuing commitment to togetherness, conscious
Oversees Telecommunications, she would logically assume his position and control.
of its value as a sublime social institution.22
Yet, Lin and Sylvia were the ones controlling the corporations.15

On June 28, 2001, Potenciano Ilusorio gave his soul to the Almighty, his Creator and
The fact of illegal restraint has not been proved during the hearing at the Court of
Supreme Judge. Let his soul rest in peace and his survivors continue the much
Appeals on March 23, 1999.16 Potenciano himself declared that he was not prevented
prolonged fracas ex aequo et bono.
by his children from seeing anybody and that he had no objection to seeing his wife
and other children whom he loved.
IN VIEW WHEREOF, we DENY Erlinda's motion for reconsideration. At any rate, the
case has been rendered moot by the death of subject.
Erlinda highlighted that her husband suffered from various ailments. Thus, Potenciano
Ilusorio did not have the mental capacity to decide for himself. Hence, Erlinda argued
that Potenciano be brought before the Supreme Court so that we could determine his SO ORDERED.
mental state.
Davide, Jr., C .J ., Puno, Kapunan and Ynares-Santiago, JJ ., concur.
We were not convinced that Potenciano Ilusorio was mentally incapacitated to choose
whether to see his wife or not. Again, this is a question of fact that has been decided
in the Court of Appeals.

Republic of the Philippines


As to whether the children were in fact taking control of the corporation, these are SUPREME COURT
matters that may be threshed out in a separate proceeding, irrelevant in habeas Manila
corpus.

SECOND DIVISION
Third. Petitioner failed to sufficiently convince the Court why we should not rely on the
facts found by the Court of Appeals. Erlinda claimed that the facts mentioned in the
decision were erroneous and incomplete. We see no reason why the High Court of the G.R. No. 146683 November 22, 2001
land need go to such length. The hornbook doctrine states that findings of fact of the
lower courts are conclusive on the Supreme Court.17 We emphasize, it is not for the
CIRILA ARCABA, petitioner,
Court to weigh evidence all over again.18 Although there are exceptions to the
vs.
rule,19 Erlinda failed to show that this is an exceptional instance.
ERLINDA TABANCURA VDA. DE BATOCAEL, SEIGFREDO C. TABANCURA,
DORIS C. TABANCURA, LUZELLI C. TABANCURA, BELEN C. TABANCURA,
Fourth. Erlinda states that Article XII of the 1987 Constitution and Articles 68 and 69 of RAUL A. COMILLE, BERNADETTE A. COMILLE, and ABNER A.
the Family Code support her position that as spouses, they (Potenciano and Erlinda) COMILLE, respondents.
are duty bound to live together and care for each other. We agree.
MENDOZA, J.:
The law provides that the husband and the wife are obliged to live together, observe
mutual love, respect and fidelity.20 The sanction therefor is the "spontaneous, mutual
Petitioner Cirila Arcaba seeks review on certiorari of the decision1 of the Court of
affection between husband and wife and not any legal mandate or court order" to
Appeals, which affirmed with modification the decision2 of the Regional Trial Court,
enforce consortium.21
Branch 10, Dipolog City, Zamboanga del Norte in Civil Case No. 4593, declaring as
void a deed of donation inter vivos executed by the late Francisco T. Comille in her
Obviously, there was absence of empathy between spouses Erlinda and Potenciano, favor and its subsequent resolution3 denying reconsideration.
having separated from bed and board since 1972. We defined empathy as a shared
The facts are as follows: Respondents, who are the decedent's nephews and nieces and his heirs by intestate
succession, alleged that Cirila was the common-law wife of Francisco and the
donation inter vivos made by Francisco in her favor is void under Article 87 of the
On January 16, 1956, Francisco Comille and his wife Zosima Montallana became the
Family Code, which provides:
registered owners of Lot No. 437-A located at the corner of Calle Santa Rosa (now
Balintawak Street) and Calle Rosario (now Rizal Avenue) in Dipolog City, Zamboanga
del Norte. The total area of the lot was 418 square meters.4 After the death of Zosima Every donation or grant of gratuitous advantage, direct or indirect, between
on October 3, 1980, Francisco and his mother-in-law, Juliana Bustalino Montallana, the spouses during the marriage shall be void, except moderate gifts which
executed a deed of extrajudicial partition with waiver of rights, in which the latter the spouses may give each other on the occasion of any family rejoicing.
waived her share consisting of one-fourth (1/4) of the property to Francisco.5 On June The prohibition shall also apply to persons living together as husband and
27, 1916, Francisco registered the lot in his name with the Registry of Deeds.6 wife without a valid marriage.

Having no children to take care of him after his retirement, Francisco asked his niece On February 25, 1999, the trial court rendered judgment in favor of respondents,
Leticia Bellosillo,7 the latter's cousin, Luzviminda Paghacian,8 and petitioner Cirila holding the donation void under this provision of the Family Code. The trial court
Arcaba, then a widow, to take care of his house, as well as the store inside.9 reached this conclusion based on the testimony of Erlinda Tabancura and certain
documents bearing the signature of one "Cirila Comille." The documents were (1) an
application for a business permit to operate as real estate lessor, dated January 8,
Conflicting testimonies were offered as to the nature of the relationship between Cirila
1991, with a carbon copy of the signature "Cirila Comille";22 (2) a sanitary permit to
and Francisco. Leticia Bellosillo said Francisco and Cirila were lovers since they slept
operate as real estate lessor with a health certificate showing the signature "Cirila
in the same room,10 while Erlinda Tabancura,11 another niece of Francisco, claimed
Comille" in black ink;23 and (3) the death certificate of the decedent with the signature
that the latter had told her that Cirila was his mistress.12 On the other hand, Cirila said
"Cirila A. Comille" written in black ink.24 The dispositive portion of the trial court's
she was a mere helper who could enter the master's bedroom only when the old man
decision states:
asked her to and that Francisco in any case was too old for her. She denied they ever
had sexual intercourse.13
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, judgment is rendered:
It appears that when Leticia and Luzviminda were married, only Cirila was left to take
care of Francisco.14 Cirila testified that she was a 34-year old widow while Francisco 1. Declaring the Deed of Donation Inter Vivos executed by the late
was a 75-year old widower when she began working for the latter; that he could still Francisco Comille recorded as Doc. No. 7; Page No. 3; Book No. V; Series
walk with her assistance at that time;15 and that his health eventually deteriorated and of 1991 in the Notarial Register of Notary Public Vic T. Lacaya (Annex " A "
he became bedridden.16 Erlinda Tabancura testified that Francisco's sole source of to the Complaint) null and void;
income consisted of rentals from his lot near the public streets.17 He did not pay Cirila
a regular cash wage as a househelper , though he provided her family with food and
2. Ordering the defendant to deliver possession of the house and lot subject
lodging.18
of the deed unto the plaintiffs within thirty (30) days after finality of this
decision; and finally
On January 24, 1991, a few months before his death, Francisco executed an
instrument denominated "Deed of Donation Inter Vivos," in which he ceded a portion
3. Ordering the defendant to pay attorney's fees in the sum of P10,000.00.
of Lot 437-A, consisting of 150 square meters, together with his house, to Cirila, who
accepted the donation in the same instrument. Francisco left the larger portion of 268
square meters in his name. The deed stated that the donation was being made in SO ORDERED.25
consideration of "the faithful services [Cirila Arcaba] had rendered over the past ten
(10) years." The deed was notarized by Atty. Vic T. Lacaya, Sr.19 and later registered
Petitioner appealed to the Court of Appeals, which rendered on June 19, 2000 the
by Cirila as its absolute owner .20
decision subject of this appeal. As already stated, the appeals court denied
reconsideration. Its conclusion was based on (1) the testimonies of Leticia, Erlinda,
On October 4, 1991, Francisco died without any children. In 1993, the lot which Cirila and Cirila; (2) the copies of documents purportedly showing Cirila's use of Francisco's
received from Francisco had a market value of P57,105.00 and an assessed value of surname; (3) a pleading in another civil case mentioning payment of rentals to Cirila
P28,550.00.21 as Francisco's common-law wife; and (4) the fact that Cirila did not receive a regular
cash wage.
On February 18, 1993, respondents filed a complaint against petitioner 'for declaration
of nullity of a deed of donation inter vivos, recovery of possession, and damages.
Petitioner assigns the following errors as having been committed by the Court of if often repeated, do not constitute such kind of cohabitation; they are merely
Appeals: meretricious.29 In this jurisdiction, this Court has considered as sufficient proof of
common-law relationship the stipulations between the parties,30 a conviction of
concubinage,31 or the existence of legitimate children.32
(a) The judgment of the Court of Appeals that petitioner was the common-
law wife of the late Francisco Comille is not correct and is a reversible error
because it is based on a misapprehension of facts, and unduly breaks the Was Cirila Francisco's employee or his common-law wife? Cirila admitted that she and
chain of circumstances detailed by the totality of the evidence, its findings Francisco resided under one roof for a long time, It is very possible that the two
being predicated on totally incompetent or hearsay evidence, and grounded consummated their relationship, since Cirila gave Francisco therapeutic massage and
on mere speculation, conjecture or possibility. (Salazar v. Gutierrez, 33 Leticia said they slept in the same bedroom. At the very least, their public conduct
SCRA 243 and other cases; cited in Quiason, Philippine Courts and their J indicated that theirs was not just a relationship of caregiver and patient, but that of
urisdictions, 1993 ed., p. 604) exclusive partners akin to husband and wife.

(b) The Court of Appeals erred in shifting the burden of evidence from the Aside from Erlinda Tabancura's testimony that her uncle told her that Cirila was his
plaintiff to defendant. (Bunyi v. Reyes, 39 SCRA 504; Quiason, id.) mistress, there are other indications that Cirila and Francisco were common-law
spouses. Seigfredo Tabancura presented documents apparently signed by Cirila
using the surname "Comille." As previously stated, these are an application for a
(c) The Court of Appeals decided the case in away probably not in accord
business permit to operate as a real estate lessor,33 a sanitary permit to operate as
with law or with the applicable jurisprudence in Rodriguez v. Rodriguez, 20
real estate lessor with a health certificate,34 and the death certificate of
SCRA 908, and Liguez v. CA, 102 Phil. 577, 584.26
Francisco.35 These documents show that Cirila saw herself as Francisco's common-
law wife, otherwise, she would not have used his last name. Similarly, in the answer
The issue in this case is whether the Court of Appeals correctly applied Art. 87 of the filed by Francisco's lessees in "Erlinda Tabancura, et al. vs. Gracia Adriatico Sy and
Family Code to the circumstances of this case. After a review of the records, we rule Antonio Sy," RTC Civil Case No.4719 (for collection of rentals), these lessees referred
in the affirmative. to Cirila as "the common-law spouse of Francisco." Finally, the fact that Cirila did not
demand from Francisco a regular cash wage is an indication that she was not simply a
caregiver-employee, but Francisco's common law spouse. She was, after all, entitled
The general rule is that only questions of law may be raised in a petition for review to a regular cash wage under the law.36 It is difficult to believe that she stayed with
under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, subject only to certain exceptions: (a) when the Francisco and served him out of pure beneficence. Human reason would thus lead to
conclusion is a finding grounded entirely on speculations, surmises, or conjectures; (b) the conclusion that she was Francisco's common-law spouse.
when the inference made is manifestly mistaken, absurd, or impossible; (c) where
there is grave abuse of discretion; (d) when the judgment is based on a
misapprehension of facts; (e) when the findings of fact are conflicting; (f) when the Respondents having proven by a preponderance of evidence that Cirila and Francisco
Court of Appeals, in making its findings, went beyond the issues of the case and the lived together as husband and wife without a valid marriage, the inescapable
same are contrary to the admissions of both appellant and appellee; (g) when the conclusion is that the donation made by Francisco in favor of Cirila is void under Art.
findings of the Court of Appeals are contrary to those of the trial court; (h) when the 87 of the Family Code.1âwphi1.nêt
findings of fact are conclusions without citation of specific evidence on which they are
based; (i) when the finding of fact of the Court of Appeals is premised on the
WHEREFORE, the decision of the Court of Appeals affirming the decision of the trial
supposed absence of evidence but is contradicted by the evidence on record; and G)
court is hereby AFFIRMED.
when the Court of Appeals manifestly overlooked certain relevant facts not disputed
by the parties and which, if properly considered, would justify a different
conclusion.27 It appearing that the Court of Appeals based its findings on evidence SO ORDERED.
presented by both parties, the general rule should apply.
Bellosillo, Quisumbing, Buena, De Leon, Jr., JJ., concur.
In Bitangcor v. Tan,28 we held that the term "cohabitation" or "living together as
husband and wife" means not only residing under one roof, but also having repeated
sexual intercourse. Cohabitation, of course, means more than sexual intercourse,
especially when one of the parties is already old and may no longer be interested in
sex. At the very least, cohabitation is public assumption by a man and a woman of the
marital relation, and dwelling together as man and wife, thereby holding themselves
out to the public as such. Secret meetings or nights clandestinely spent together, even
Republic of the Philippines profit of P75,655.78. The net gain of the Philippine Texboard Factory, the principal
SUPREME COURT business of the spouses, was P90,454.48 for the year 1957. As of December 31,
Manila 1959, the total assets of the various enterprises of the conjugal partnership were
valued at P1,021,407.68, not including those of the Top Service Inc., of which firm the
defendant has been the president since its organization in 1959 in Manila with a paid-
EN BANC
up capital of P50,000, P10,000 of which was contributed by him. This corporation was
the Beverly Hills Subdivision in Antipolo, Rizal, the Golden Acres Subdivision and the
G.R. No. L-19565 January 30, 1968 Green Valley Subdivision in Las Piñas, Rizal, and a lot and building located at M. H.
del Pilar, Manila purchased for P285,000, an amount borrowed from the
Manufacturer's Bank and Trust Company.
ESTRELLA DE LA CRUZ, plaintiff-appellee,
vs.
SEVERINO DE LA CRUZ, defendant-appellant. The spouses are indebted to the Philippine National Bank and the Development
Bank of the Philippines for loans obtained, to secure which they mortgaged the
Philippine Texboard Factory, the Silay hacienda, their conjugal house, and all their
Estacion and Paltriguera for plaintiff-appellee. parcels of land located in Bacolod City.
Manuel O. Soriano and Pio G. Villoso for defendant-appellant.

The essential issues of fact may be gleaned from the nine errors the defendant
CASTRO, J.: imputes to the court a quo, namely,

The plaintiff Estrella de la Cruz filed a complaint on July 22, 1958 with the Court 1. In finding that the only visit, from May 15, 1955 to the rendition of the
of First Instance of Negros Occidental, alleging in essence that her husband, the decision, made by the defendant to the conjugal abode to see his wife was
defendant Severino de la Cruz, had not only abandoned her but as well was on June 15, 1955;
mismanaging their conjugal partnership properties, and praying for (1) separation of
property, (2) monthly support of P2,500 during the pendency of the action, and (3)
payment of P20,000 as attorney's fees, and costs. 2. In finding that the letter exh. 3 was written by one Nenita Hernandez and
that she and the defendant are living as husband and wife;
The court a quo forthwith issued an order allowing the plaintiff the amount
prayed for as alimony pendente lite, which however, upon defendant's motion, was 3. In finding that since 1951 the relations between the plaintiff and the
reduced to P2,000. defendant were far from cordial, and that it was from 1948 that the former
has been receiving an allowance from the latter;
On June 1, 1961 the trial court rendered judgment ordering separation and
division of the conjugal assets, and directing the defendant to pay to the plaintiff the 4. In finding that the defendant has abandoned the plaintiff;
sum of P20,000 as attorney's fees, with legal interest from the date of the original
complaint, that is, from July 22, 1958, until fully paid, plus costs. From this judgment
5. In finding that the defendant since 1956 has not discussed with his wife
the defendant appealed to the Court of Appeals, which certified the case to us, "it
the business activities of the partnership, and that this silence constituted
appearing that the total value of the conjugal assets is over P500,000".
"abuse of administration of the conjugal partnerships";

The basic facts are not controverted. The plaintiff and the defendant were
6. In declaring that the defendant mortgaged the conjugal assets without the
married in Bacolod City on February 1, 1938. Six children were born to them, namely,
knowledge of the plaintiff and thru false pretences to which the latter was
Zenia (1939), Ronnie (1942), Victoria (1944), Jessie 1945), Bella (1946), and Felipe
prey;
(1948). During their coverture they acquired seven parcels of land of the Bacolod
Cadastre, all assessed at P45,429, and three parcels of the Silay Cadastre, all
assessed at P43,580. All these parcels are registered in their names. The hacienda in 7. In allowing the plaintiff, on the one hand, to testify on facts not actually
Silay yielded for the year 1957 a net profit of P3,390.49. known by her, and, on the other hand, in not allowing the defendant to
establish his special defenses;
They are also engaged in varied business ventures with fixed assets valued as
of December 31, 1956 at P496,006.92, from which they obtained for that year a net 8. In ordering separation of the conjugal partnership properties; and
9. In sentencing the defendant to pay to the plaintiff attorney's fees in the because at home he could not concentrate on his work as she always quarreled with
amount of P20,000, with interest at the legal rate.1äwphï1.ñët him, while in Mandalagan he could pass the nights in peace. Since 1953 he stayed in
Manila for some duration of time to manage their expanding business and look for
market outlets for their texboard products. Even the plaintiff admitted in both her
Two issues of law as well emerge, requiring resolution petition: (1) Did the
original and amended complaints that "sometime in 1953, because of the expanding
separation of the defendant from the plaintiff constitute abandonment in law that would
business of the herein parties, the defendant established an office in the City of
justify a separation of the conjugal partnership properties? (2) Was the defendant's
Manila, wherein some of the goods, effects and merchandise manufactured or
failure and/or refusal to inform the plaintiff of the state of their business enterprises
produced in the business enterprises of the parties were sold or disposed of". From
such an abuse of his powers of administration of the conjugal partnership as to
the time he started living separately in Mandalagan up to the filing of the complaint,
warrant a division of the matrimonial assets?
the plaintiff herself furnished him food and took care of his laundry. This latter
declaration was not rebutted by the plaintiff.
The plaintiff's evidence may be summarized briefly. The defendant started living
in Manila in 1955, although he occasionally returned to Bacolod City, sleeping in his
The defendant, with vehemence, denied that he has abandoned his wife and
office at the Philippine Texboard Factory in Mandalagan, instead of in the conjugal
family, averring that he has never failed, even for a single month, to give them
home at 2nd Street, Bacolod City. Since 1955 the defendant had not slept in the
financial support, as witnessed by the plaintiff's admission in her original and amended
conjugal dwelling, although in the said year he paid short visits during which they
complaints as well as in open court that during the entire period of their estrangement,
engaged in brief conversations. After 1955 up to the time of the trial, the defendant
he was giving her around P500 a month for support. In point of fact, his wife and
had never visited the conjugal abode, and when he was in Bacolod, she was denied
children continued to draw allowances from his office of a total ranging from P1,200 to
communication with him. He has abandoned her and their children, to live in Manila
P1,500 a month. He financed the education of their children, two of whom were
with his concubine, Nenita Hernandez. In 1949 she began to suspect the existence of
studying in Manila at the time of the trial and were not living with the plaintiff. While in
illicit relations between her husband and Nenita. This suspicion was confirmed in 1951
Bacolod City, he never failed to visit his family, particularly the children. His wife was
when she found an unsigned note in a pocket of one of her husband's polo shirt which
always in bad need of money because she played mahjong, an accusation which she
was written by Nenita and in which she asked "Bering" to meet her near the church.
did not traverse, explaining that she played mahjong to entertain herself and forget the
She confronted her husband who forthwith tore the note even as he admitted his
infidelities of her husband.
amorous liaison with Nenita. He then allayed her fears by vowing to forsake his
mistress. Subsequently, in November 1951, she found in the iron safe of her husband
a letter, exh. C, also written by Nenita. In this letter the sender (who signed as "D") Marcos V. Ganaban, the manager of the Philippine Texboard Factory,
apologized for her conduct, and expressed the hope that the addressee ("Darling") corroborated the testimony of the defendant on the matter of the support the latter
could join her in Baguio as she was alone in the Patria Inn and lonely in "a place for gave to his family, by declaring in court that since the start of his employment in 1950
honeymooners". Immediately after her husband departed for Manila the following as assistant general manager, the plaintiff has been drawing an allowance of P1,000
morning, the plaintiff enplaned for Baguio, where she learned that Nenita had actually to P1,500 monthly, which amount was given personally by the defendant or, in his
stayed at the Patria Inn, but had already left for Manila before her arrival. Later she absence, by the witness himself.
met her husband in the house of a relative in Manila from whence they proceeded to
the Avenue Hotel where she again confronted him about Nenita. He denied having
The defendant denied that he ever maintained a mistress in Manila. He came to
further relations with this woman.
know Nenita Hernandez when she was barely 12 years old, but had lost track of her
thereafter. His constant presence in Manila was required by the pressing demands of
Celia Bañez, testifying for the plaintiff, declared that she was employed as a an expanding business. He denied having destroyed the alleged note which the
cook in the home of the spouses from May 15, 1955 to August 15, 1958, and that plaintiff claimed to have come from Nenita, nor having seen, previous to the trial, the
during the entire period of her employment she saw the defendant in the place only letter exh. C. The allegation of his wife that he had a concubine is based on mere
once. This declaration is contradicted, however, by the plaintiff herself who testified suspicion. He had always been faithful to his wife, and not for a single instance had he
that in 1955 the defendant "used to have a short visit there," which statement implies been caught or surprised by her with another woman.
more than one visit.
On the matter of the alleged abuse by the defendant of his powers of
The defendant, for his part, denied having abandoned his wife and children, but administration of the conjugal partnership, the plaintiff declared that the defendant
admitted that in 1957, or a year before the filing of the action, he started to live refused and failed to inform her of the progress of their various business concerns.
separately from his wife. When he transferred his living quarters to his office in Although she did not allege, much less prove, that her husband had dissipated the
Mandalagan, Bacolod City, his intention was not, as it never has been, to abandon his conjugal properties, she averred nevertheless that her husband might squander and
wife and children, but only to teach her a lesson as she was quarrelsome and dispose of the conjugal assets in favor of his concubine. Hence, the urgency of
extremely jealous of every woman. He decided to live apart from his wife temporarily separation of property.
The defendant's answer to the charge of mismanagement is that he has applied Although an all-embracing definition of the term "abandonment " is yet to be
his industry, channeled his ingenuity, and devoted his time, to the management, spelled out in explicit words, we nevertheless can determine its meaning from the
maintenance and expansion of their business concerns, even as his wife threw money context of the Law as well as from its ordinary usage. The concept of abandonment in
away at the mahjong tables. Tangible proof of his endeavors is that from a single article 178 may be established in relation to the alternative remedies granted to the
cargo truck which he himself drove at the time of their marriage, he had built up one wife when she has been abandoned by the husband, namely, receivership,
business after another, the Speedway Trucking Service, the Negros Shipping Service, administration by her, or separation of property, all of which are designed to protect
the Bacolod Press, the Philippine Texboard Factory, and miscellaneous other the conjugal assets from waste and dissipation rendered imminent by the husband's
business enterprises worth over a million pesos; that all that the spouses now own continued absence from the conjugal abode, and to assure the wife of a ready and
have been acquired through his diligence, intelligence and industry; that he has steady source of support. Therefore, physical separation alone is not the full meaning
steadily expanded the income and assets of said business enterprises from year to of the term "abandonment", if the husband, despite his voluntary departure from the
year, contrary to the allegations of the complainant, as proved by his balance sheet society of his spouse, neither neglects the management of the conjugal partnership
and profit and loss statements for the year 1958 and 1959 (exhibits 1 and 2); and that nor ceases to give support to his wife.
out of the income of their enterprises he had purchased additional equipment and
machineries and has partially paid their indebtedness to the Philippine National Bank
The word "abandon", in its ordinary sense, means to forsake entirely; to forsake
and the Development Bank of the Philippines.
or renounce utterly. 2 The dictionaries trace this word to the root idea of "putting under
a bar". The emphasis is on the finality and the publicity with which some thing or body
It will be noted that the plaintiff does not ask for legal separation. The evidence is thus put in the control of another, and hence the meaning of giving up absolutely,
presented by her to prove concubinage on the part of the defendant, while pertinent with intent never again to resume or claim one's rights or interests. 3 When referring to
and material in the determination of the merits of a petition for legal separation, must desertion of a wife by a husband, the word has been defined as "the act of a husband
in this case be regarded merely as an attempt to bolster her claim that the defendant in voluntarily leaving his wife with intention to forsake her entirely, never to return to
had abandoned her, which abandonment, if it constitutes abandonment in law, would her, and never to resume his marital duties towards her, or to claim his marital rights;
justify separation of the conjugal assets under the applicable provisions of article 178 such neglect as either leaves the wife destitute of the common necessaries of life, or
of the new Civil Code which read: "The separation in fact between husband and wife would leave her destitute but for the charity of others." 4 The word "abandonment",
without judicial approval, shall not affect the conjugal partnership, except that . . . if the when referring to the act of one consort of leaving the other, is "the act of the husband
husband has abandoned the wife without just cause for at least one year, she may or the wife who leaves his or her consort wilfully, and with an intention of causing per
petition the court for a receivership, or administration by her of the conjugal perpetual separation." 5 Giving to the word "abandoned", as used in article 178, the
partnership property, or separation of property". In addition to abandonment as a meaning drawn from the definitions above reproduced, it seems rather clear that to
ground, the plaintiff also invokes article 167 of the new Civil Code in support of her constitute abandonment of the wife by the husband, there must be absolute cessation
prayer for division of the matrimonial assets. This article provides that "In case of of marital relations and duties and rights, with the intention of perpetual separation.
abuse of powers of administration of the conjugal partnership property by the
husband, the courts, on the petition of the wife, may provide for a receivership, or
Coming back to the case at bar, we believe that the defendant did not intend to
administration by the wife, or separation of property". It behooves us, therefore, to
leave his wife and children permanently. The record conclusively shows that he
inquire, in the case at bar, whether there has been abandonment, in the legal sense,
continued to give support to his family despite his absence from the conjugal home.
by the defendant of the plaintiff, and/or whether the defendant has abused his powers
This fact is admitted by the complainant, although she minimized the amount of
of administration of the conjugal partnership property, so as to justify the plaintiff's plea
support given, saying that it was only P500 monthly. There is good reason to believe,
for separation of property.
however, that she and the children received more than this amount, as the
defendant's claim that his wife and children continued to draw from his office more
We have made a searching scrutiny of the record, and it is our considered view than P500 monthly was substantially corroborated by Marcos Ganaban, whose
that the defendant is not guilty of abandonment of his wife, nor of such abuse of his declarations were not rebutted by the plaintiff. And then there is at all no showing that
powers of administration of the conjugal partnership, as to warrant division of the the plaintiff and the children were living in want. On the contrary, the plaintiff admitted,
conjugal assets. albeit reluctantly, that she frequently played mahjong, from which we can infer that
she had money; to spare.
The extraordinary remedies afforded to the wife by article 178 when she has
been abandoned by the husband for at least one year are the same as those granted The fact that the defendant never ceased to give support to his wife and
to her by article 167 in case of abuse of the powers of administration by the husband. children negatives any intent on his part not to return to the conjugal abode and
To entitle her to any of these remedies, under article 178, there must be real resume his marital duties and rights. In People v. Schelske, 6 it was held that where a
abandonment, and not mere separation. 1 The abandonment must not only be physical husband, after leaving his wife, continued to make small contributions at intervals to
estrangement but also amount to financial and moral desertion. her support and that of their minor child, he was not guilty of their "abandonment",
which is an act of separation with intent that it shall be perpetual, since contributing to
their support negatived such intent. In re Hoss' Estate, supra, it was ruled that a father A. Yes.
did not abandon his family where the evidence disclosed that he almost always did
give his wife part of his earnings during the period of their separation and that he
Anent the allegation that the defendant had mismanaged the conjugal
gradually paid some old rental and grocery bills.
partnership property, the record presents a different picture. There is absolutely no
evidence to show that he has squandered the conjugal assets. Upon the contrary, he
With respect to the allegation that the defendant maintained a concubine, we proved that through his industry and zeal, the conjugal assets at the time of the trial
believe, contrary to the findings of the court a quo, that the evidence on record fails to had increased to a value of over a million pesos.
preponderate in favor of the plaintiff's thesis. The proof that Nenita Hernandez was the
concubine of the defendant and that they were living as husband and wife in Manila, is
The lower court likewise erred in holding that mere refusal or failure of the
altogether too indefinite. Aside from the uncorroborated statement of the plaintiff that
husband as administrator of the conjugal partnership to inform the wife of the progress
she knew that Nenita Hernandez was her husband's concubine, without
of the family businesses constitutes abuse of administration. For "abuse" to exist, it is
demonstrating by credible evidence the existence of illicit relations between Nenita
not enough that the husband perform an act or acts prejudicial to the wife. Nor is it
and the defendant, the only evidence on record offered to link the defendant to his
sufficient that he commits acts injurious to the partnership, for these may be the result
alleged mistress is exh. C. The plaintiff however failed to connect authorship of the
of mere inefficient or negligent administration. Abuse connotes willful and utter
said letter with Nenita, on the face whereof the sender merely signed as "D" and the
disregard of the interests of the partnership, evidenced by a repetition of deliberate
addressee was one unidentified "Darling". The plaintiff's testimony on cross-
acts and/or omissions prejudicial to the latter. 7
examination, hereunder quoted, underscores such failure:

If there is only physical separation between the spouses (and nothing more),
Q. You personally never received any letter from Nenita?
engendered by the husband's leaving the conjugal abode, but the husband continues
to manage the conjugal properties with the same zeal, industry, and efficiency as he
A. No. did prior to the separation, and religiously gives support to his wife and children, as in
the case at bar, we are not disposed to grant the wife's petition for separation of
property. This decision may appear to condone the husband's separation from his
Q. Neither have you received on any time until today from 1949 from
wife; however, the remedies granted to the wife by articles 167 and 178 are not to be
Nenita?
construed as condonation of the husband's act but are designed to protect the
conjugal partnership from waste and shield the wife from want. Therefore, a denial of
A. No. the wife's prayer does not imply a condonation of the husband's act but merely points
up the insufficiency or absence of a cause of action.1äwphï1.ñët
Q. Neither have you written to her any letter yourself until now?
Courts must need exercise judicial restraint and reasoned hesitance in ordering
a separation of conjugal properties because the basic policy of the law is homiletic, to
A. Why should I write a letter to her. promote healthy family life and to preserve the union of the spouses, in person, in
spirit and in property.
Q. In that case, Mrs. De la Cruz, you are not familiar with the handwriting of
Nenita. Is that right? Consistent with its policy of discouraging a regime of separation as
not in harmony with the unity of the family and the mutual affection and help
A. I can say that Nenita writes very well. expected of the spouses, the Civil Code (both old and new) requires that
separation of property shall not prevail unless expressly stipulated in
marriage settlements before the union is solemnized or by formal judicial
Q. I am not asking you whether she writes very well or not but, my question decree during the existence of the marriage (Article 190, new Civil Code,
is this: In view of the fact that you have never received a letter from Nenita, Article 1432, old Civil Code): and in the latter case, it may only be ordered
you have ot sent any letter to her, you are not familiar with her handwriting? by the court for causes specified in Article 191 of the new Civil Code. 8

A. Yes. Furthermore, a judgment ordering the division of conjugal assets where there
has been no real abandonment, the separation not being wanton and absolute, may
Q. You have not seen her writing anybody? altogether slam shut the door for possible reconciliation. The estranged spouses may
drift irreversibly further apart; the already broken family solidarity may be irretrievably
shattered; and any flickering hope for a new life together may be completely and PRIMA PARTOSA-JO, petitioner,
finally extinguished. vs.
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS and HO HANG (with aliases JOSE JO
and CONSING), respondents.
The monthly alimony in the sum of P2,000 which was allowed to the wife in
1958, long before the devaluation of the Philippine peso in 1962, should be increased
to P3,000.

On the matter of attorney's fees, it is our view that because the defendant, by CRUZ, J.:
leaving the conjugal abode, has given cause for the plaintiff to seek redress in the
courts, and ask for adequate support, an award of attorney's fees to the plaintiff must
The herein private respondent, Jose Jo, admits to having cohabited with three women
be made. Ample authority for such award is found in paragraphs 6 and 11 of article
and fathered fifteen children. The first of these women, the herein petitioner, claims to
2208 of the new Civil Code which empower courts to grant counsel's fees "in actions
be his legal wife whom he begot a daughter, Monina Jo. The other women and their
for legal support" and in cases "where the court deems it just and equitable that
respective offspring are not parties of these case.
attorney's fees . . . should be recovered." However, an award of P10,000, in our
opinion, is, under the environmental circumstances, sufficient.
In 1980, the petitioner filed a complaint against Jo for judicial separation of conjugal
property, docketed as Civil Case No. 51, in addition to an earlier action for support,
This Court would be remiss if it did not, firstly, remind the plaintiff and the
also against him and docketed as Civil Case No. 36, in the Regional Trial Court of
defendant that the law enjoins husband and wife to live together, and, secondly,
Negros Oriental, Branch 35.
exhort them to avail of — mutually, earnestly and steadfastly — all opportunities for
reconciliation to the end that their marital differences may be happily resolved, and
conjugal harmony may return and, on the basis of mutual respect and understanding, The two cases were consolidated and tried jointly. On November 29, 1983, Judge
endure. German G. Lee, Jr. rendered an extensive decision, the dispositive portion of which
read:
ACCORDINGLY, the judgment a quo, insofar as it decrees separation of the
conjugal properties, is reversed and set aside. Conformably to our observations, WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing arguments and
however, the defendant is ordered to pay to the plaintiff, in the concept of support, the considerations, this court hereby holds that the plaintiff Prima
amount of P3,000 per month, until he shall have rejoined her in the conjugal home, Partosa was legally married to Jose Jo alias Ho Hang, alias
which amount may, in the meantime, be reduced or increased in the discretion of the Consing, and, therefore, is entitled to support as the lawfully
court a quo as circumstances warrant. The award of attorney's fees to the plaintiff is wedded wife and the defendant is hereby ordered to give a
reduced to P10,000, without interest. No pronouncement as to costs. monthly support of P500.00 to the plaintiff Prima Partosa, to be
paid on or before the 5th day of every month, and to give to the
plaintiff the amount of P40,000.00 for the construction of the
house in Zamboanguita, Negros Oriental where she may live
separately from the defendant being entitled under the law to
separate maintenance being the innocent spouse and to pay the
amount of P19,200.00 to the plaintiff by way of support in arrears
and to pay the plaintiff the amount of P3,000.00 in the concept of
attorney's fees.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT As will be noticed, there was a definite disposition of the complaint for support but
Manila none of the complaint for judicial separation of conjugal property.

FIRST DIVISION Jo elevated the decision to the Court of Appeals, which affirmed the ruling of the trial
court in the complaint for support. 1 The complaint for judicial separation of conjugal
property was dismissed for lack of a cause of action and on the ground that separation
G.R. No. 82606 December 18, 1992 by agreement was not covered by Article 178 of the Civil Code.
When their motions for reconsideration were denied, both parties came to this Court immediate steps for the rectification for the omission so that the ruling expressed in
for relief. The private respondent's petition for review on certiorari was dismissed for the text of the decision could have been embodied in the decretal portion. Such
tardiness in our resolution dated February 17, 1988, where we also affirmed the alertness could have avoided this litigation on a purely technical issue.
legality of the marriage between Jose and Prima and the obligation of the former to
support her and her daughter.
Nevertheless, the technicality invoked in this case should not be allowed to prevail
over considerations of substantive justive. After all, the technical defect is not
This petition deals only with the complaint for judicial separation of conjugal property. insuperable. We have said time and again that where there is an ambiguity caused by
an omission or a mistake in the dispositive portion of the decision, this Court may
clarify such an ambiguity by an amendment even after the judgment have become
It is here submitted that the Court of Appeals erred in holding that: a) the judicial
final. 2 In doing so, the Court may resort to the pleading filed by the parties and the
separation of conjugal property sought was not allowed under Articles 175, 178 and
findings of fact and the conclusions of law expressed in the text or body of the
191 of the Civil Code; and b) no such separation was decreed by the trial court in the
decision. 3
dispositive portion of its decision.

The trial court made definite findings on the complaint for judicial separation of
The private respondent contends that the decision of the trial court can longer be
conjugal property, holding that the petitioner and the private respondent were legally
reviewed at this time because it has a long since become final and executory. As the
married and that the properties mentioned by the petitioner were acquired by Jo
decretal portion clearly made no disposition of Civil Case No. 51, that case should be
during their marriage although they were registered in the name of the apparent
considered impliedly dismissed. The petitioner should have called the attention of the
dummy.
trial court to the omission so that the proper rectification could be made on time. Not
having done so, she is now concluded by the said decision, which can no longer be
corrected at this late hour. There is no question therefore that the penultimate paragraph of the decision of the
trial court was a ruling based upon such findings and so should have been embodied
in the dispositive portion. The respondent court should have made the necessary
We deal first with the second ground.
modification instead of dismissing Civil Case No. 51 and thus upholding mere form
over substance.
While admitting that no mention was made of Civil Case No. 51 in the dispositive
portion of the decision of the trial court, the petitioner argues that a disposition of the
In the interest of substantive justice, and to expedite these proceedings, we hereby
case was nonetheless made in the penultimate paragraph of the decision reading as
make such modification.
follows:

And now to the merits of Civil Case No. 51.


It is, therefore, hereby ordered that all properties in question are
considered properties of Jose Jo, the defendant in this case,
subject to separation of property under Article 178, third The Court of Appeals dismissed the complaint on the ground that the separation of the
paragraph of the Civil Code, which is subject of separate parties was due to their agreement and not because of abondonment. The respondent
proceedings as enunciated herein. court relied mainly on the testimony of the petitioner, who declared under oath that
she left Dumaguete City, where she and Jo were living together "because that was our
agreement." It held that a agreement to live separately without just cause was void
The petitioner says she believed this to be disposition enough and so did not feel it
under Article 221 of the Civil Code and could not sustain any claim of abandonment
was necessary for her to appeal, particularly since the order embodied in that
by the aggrieved spouse. Its conclusion was that the only remedy availabe to the
paragraph was in her favor. It was only when the respondent court observed that there
petitioner was legal separation under Article 175 of the Civil Code, 4 by virtue of which
was no dispositive portion regarding that case and so ordered its dismissal that she
the conjugal partnership of property would be terminated.
found it necessary to come to this Court for relief.

The petitioner contends that the respondent court has misinterpreted Articles 175, 178
The petitioner has a point.
and 191 of the Civil Code. She submits that the agreement between her and the
private respondent was for her to temporarily live with her parents during the initial
The dispositive portion of the decision in question was incomplete insofar as it carried period of her pregnancy and for him to visit and support her. They never agreed to
no ruling on the complaint for judicial separation of conjugal property although it was separate permanently. And even if they did, this arrangement was repudiated and
extensively discussed in the body of the decision. The drafting of the decision was ended in 1942, when she returned to him at Dumaguete City and he refused to accept
indeed not exactly careful. The petitioner's counsel, noting this, should have taken her.
The petitioner invokes Article 178 (3) of the Civil Code, which reads: meantime providing in the least for one's family although able to do so. 5 There must
be absolute cessation of marital relations, duties and rights, with the intention of
perpetual separation. 6 This idea is clearly expressed in the above-quoted provision,
Art. 178. The separation in fact between husband and wife
which states that "a spouse is deemed to have abandoned the other when he or she
without judicial approval, shall not affect the conjugal partnership,
has left the conjugal dwelling without any intention of returning."
except that:

The record shows that as early as 1942, the private respondent had already rejected
xxx xxx xxx
the petitioner, whom he denied admission to their conjugal home in Dumaguete City
when she returned from Zamboanguita. The fact that she was not accepted by Jo
(3) If the husband has abandoned the wife without just cause for demonstrates all too clearly that he had no intention of resuming their conjugal
at least one year, she may petition the court for a receivership, or relationship. Moreover, beginning 1968 until the determination by this Court of the
administration by her of the conjugal partnership property or action for support in 1988, the private respondent refused to give financial support to
separation of property. the petitioner. The physical separation of the parties, coupled with the refusal by the
private respondent to give support to the petitioner, sufficed to constitute
abandonment as a ground for the judicial separation of their conjugal property.
The above-quoted provision has been superseded by Article 128 of the Family Code,
which states:
In addition, the petitioner may also invoke the second ground allowed by Article 128,
for the fact is that he has failed without just cause to comply with his obligations to the
Art. 128. If a spouse without just cause abandons the other or family as husband or parent. Apart form refusing to admit his lawful wife to their
fails to comply with his or her obligations to the family, the conjugal home in Dumaguete City, Jo has freely admitted to cohabiting with other
aggrieved spouse may petition the court for receivership, for women and siring many children by them. It was his refusal to provide for the
judicial separation of property, of for authority to be the sole petitioner and their daughter that prompted her to file the actions against him for
administrator of the conjugal partnership property, subject to such support and later for separation of the conjugal property, in which actions,
precautionary conditions as the court may impose. significantly, he even denied being married to her. The private respondent has not
established any just cause for his refusal to comply with his obligations to his wife as
The obligations to the family mentioned in the preceding dutiful husband.
paragraph refer to martial, parental or property relations.
Their separation thus falls also squarely under Article 135 of the Family Code,
A spouse is deemed to have abondoned the other when he or providing as follows:
she has left the conjugal dwelling without any intention of
returning. The spouse who has left the conjugal dwelling for a Art. 135. Any of the following shall be considered sufficient cause
period of three months or has failed within the same period to give for judicial separation of property:
any information as to his or her whereabouts shall be prima
facie presumed to have no intention of returning to the conjugal
dwelling. xxx xxx xxx

Under the this provision, the aggrieved spouse may petition for judicial separation on (6) That at the time of the petition, the spouse have been
either of these grounds: separated in fact for at least one year and reconciliation is highly
improbable.
1. Abondonment by a spouse of the other without just cause; and
The amendments introduced in the Family Code are applicable to the case before us
although they became effective only on August 3, 1988. As we held in Ramirez v.
2. Failure of one spouse to comply with his or her obligations to Court of Appeals: 7
the family without just cause, even if she said spouse does not
leave the other spouse.
The greater weight of authority is inclined to the view that an
appellate court, in reviewing a judgment on appeal, will dispose of
Abandonment implies a departure by one spouse with the avowed intent never to a question according to the law prevailing at the term of such
return, followed by prolonged absence without just cause, and without in the
disposition, and not according to the law prevailing at the time of G.R. No. 102998 July 5, 1996
rendition of the appealed judgement. The court will therefore
reverse a judgement which was correct at the time it was
BA FINANCE CORPORATION, petitioner,
originally rendered where, by statute, there has been an
vs.
intermediate change in the law which renders such judgement
HON. COURT OF APPEALS and ROBERTO M. REYES, respondents.
erroneous at the time the case was finally disposed of on appeal.

The order of judicial separation of the properties in question is based on the finding of
both the trial and respondent courts that the private respondent is indeed their real
owner. It is these properties that should now be divided between him and the VITUG, J.:p
petitioner, on the assumption that they were acquired during coverture and so belong
to the spouses half and half. As the private respondent is a Chinese citizen, the
The case at bar is a suit for replevin and damages. The petition for review
division must include such properties properly belonging to the conjugal partnership
on certiorari assails the decision of the Court of Appeals 1 in CA-G.R. CV No. 23605
as may have been registered in the name of other persons in violation of the Anti-
affirming that of the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch
Dummy Law.
XX, 2 which has disposed of its Civil Case No. 87-42270 in this wise:

The past has caught up with the private respondent. After his extramarital flings and a
WHEREFORE, the case against defendant-spouses (sic)
succession of illegitimate children, he must now make an accounting to his lawful wife
Reynaldo Manahan is hereby dismissed without prejudice, for
of the properties he denied her despite his promise to their of his eternal love and
failure to prosecute. Plaintiff having failed to show the liability of
care.
defendant John Doe in the person of Roberto M. Reyes, the case
against the latter should likewise be dismissed. Moreover, plaintiff
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED and the assailed decision of the respondent is hereby directed to return the vehicle seized by virtue of the
court is MODIFIED. Civil Case No. 51 is hereby decided in favor the plaintiff, the order of seizure issued by this Court with all its accessories to the
petitioner herein, and the conjugal property of the petitioner and the private said Roberto M. Reyes. 3
respondent is hereby ordered divided between them, share and share alike. This
division shall be implemented by the trial court after determination of all the properties
The decisions of both the appellate court and the court a quo are based on a like
pertaining to the said conjugal partnership, including those that may have been
finding of the facts hereinafter briefly narrated.
illegally registered in the name of the persons.

The spouses Reynaldo and Florencia Manahan executed, on 15 May 1980, a


SO ORDERED.
promissory note 4 binding themselves to pay Carmasters, Inc., the amount of
P83,080.00 in thirty-six monthly installments commencing 01 July 1980. To secure
payment, the Manahan spouses executed a deed of chattel mortgage 5 over a motor
vehicle, a Ford Cortina 1.6 GL, with motor and serial number CUBFWE-801010.
Carmasters later assigned 6 the promissory note and the chattel mortgage to petitioner
BA Finance Corporation with the conformity of the Manahans. When the latter failed to
pay the due installments, petitioner sent demand letters. The demands not having
been heeded, petitioner, on 02 October 1987, filed a complaint for replevin with
damages against the spouses, as well as against a John Doe, praying for the recovery
Republic of the Philippines of the vehicle with an alternative prayer for the payment of a sum of money should the
SUPREME COURT vehicle not be returned. Upon petitioner's motion and the filing of a bond in the amount
Manila of P169,161.00 the lower court issued a writ of replevin. The court, however,
cautioned petitioner that should summons be not served on the defendants within
thirty (30) days from the writ's issuance, the case would be dismissed to failure to
FIRST DIVISION prosecute. 7 The warning was based on what the court perceived to be the deplorable
practice of some mortgagees of "freezing (the) foreclosure or replevin cases" which
they would so "conveniently utilize as a leverage for the collection of unpaid
installments on mortgaged chattels." 8
The service of summons upon the spouses Manahan was caused to be served by the case was tantamount to adjudication on the merits that thereby deprived it with the
petitioner at No. 35 Lantana St., Cubao, Quezon City. The original of the summons remedy to enforce the promissory note, the chattel mortgage and the deed of
had the name and the signature of private respondent Roberto M. Reyes indicating assignment, under Section 3, Rule 117, of the Rules of Court; (b) the order to return
that he received, on 14 October 1987, a copy of the summons and the the vehicle to private respondent was a departure from jurisprudence recognizing the
complaint. 9 Forthwith, petitioner, through its Legal Assistant, Danilo E. Solano, issued right of the mortgagor to foreclose the property to respond to the unpaid obligation
a certification to the effect that it had received from Orson R. Santiago, the deputy secured by the chattel mortgage, and (c) there were no legal and factual bases for the
sheriff of the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 20, the Ford Cortina seized from court's view that the filing of the replevin case was "characterized (by) evil
private respondent Roberto M. Reyes, the John Doe referred to in the complaint, 10 in practices." 15
Sorsogon, Sorsogon.11 On 20 October 1987, the lower court came out with an order of
seizure.
On 20 April 1988, the court granted petitioner's motion for reconsideration and
accordingly recalled the order directing the return of the vehicle to private respondent,
Alleging possession in good faith, private respondent filed, on 26 October 1987, a set aside the order dismissing the case, directed petitioner "to cause the service of
motion for an extension of time within which to file his answer and/or a motion for summons together with a copy of the complaint on the principal defendants within five
intervention. The court granted the motion. (5) days from receipt" 16 thereof at petitioner's expense, and ordered private
respondent to answer the complaint.
A few months later, or on 18 February 1988, the court issued an order which, in part,
stated: A few months later, or on 02 August 1988, petitioner filed a motion to declare private
respondent in default. The court granted the motion on that same day and declared
private respondent "in default for his failure to file the . . . answer within the
Perusal of the record shows that an order for the seizure of
reglementary period." 17 The court likewise granted petitioner's motion to set the case
personal property was issued on October 20, 1987 in pursuance
for the presentation, ex parte, of evidence. Petitioner, thereupon, submitted the
to a previous order of the Court dated October 13, 1987.
promissory note, the deed of chattel mortgage, the deed of assignment, a statement
However, to date, there is no showing that the principal
of account in the name of Florencia Manahan and two demand letters.
defendants were served with summons inspite of the lapse of four
(4) months.
On 27 February 1989, the trial court rendered a decision dismissing the complaint
against the Manahans for failure of petitioner to prosecute the case against them. It
Considering, this is a replevin case and to forestall the evils that
also dismissed the case against private respondent for failure of petitioner to show
arise from this practice, plaintiff failing to heed the Order dated
any legal basis for said respondent's liability. The court ratiocinated:
October 13, 1987, particularly second paragraph thereof, the
above-entitled case is hereby ordered DISMISSED for failure to
prosecute and further ordering the plaintiff to return the property . . . . Roberto M. Reyes is merely ancillary debtor in this case. The
seized with all its accessories to defendant John Doe in the defendant spouses Manahan being the principal debtor(s) and as
person of Roberto M. Reyes. there is no showing that the latter has been brought before the
jurisdiction of this court, it must necessarily follow that the plaintiff
has no cause of action against said Roberto M. Reyes herein
SO ORDERED. 12
before referred to as defendant John Doe. Under the
circumstances, it is incumbent upon the plaintiff to return the
On 26 February 1988, petitioner filed a notice of dismissal of the case "without seized vehicle unto the said Roberto M. Reyes. 18
prejudice and without pronouncement as to costs, before service of Summons and
Answer, under Section 1, Rule 17, of the Rules of Court." 13 It also sought in another
In its appeal to the Court of Appeals, petitioner has asserted that a suit for replevin
motion the withdrawal of the replevin bond. In view of the earlier dismissal of the case
aimed at the foreclosure of the chattel is an action quasi in rem which does not
(for petitioner's failure to prosecute), the court, on 02 March 1988, merely noted the
necessitate the presence of the principal obligors as long as the court does not render
notice of dismissal and denied the motion to withdraw the replevin bond considering
any personal judgment against them. This argument did not persuade the appellate
that the writ of replevin had meanwhile been implemented. 14
court, the latter holding that —

On 09 March 1988, private respondent filed a motion praying that petitioner be


. . . . In action quasi in rem an individual is named as defendant
directed to comply with the court order requiring petitioner to return the vehicle to him.
and the purpose of the proceeding is to subject his interest therein
In turn, petitioner filed, on 14 March 1988, a motion for the reconsideration of the
to the obligation or lien burdening the property, such as
orders of 18 February 1988 and 02 March 1988 contending that: (a) the dismissal of
proceedings having for their sole object the sale or disposition of In the instant appeal, petitioner insists that a mortgagee can maintain an action for
the property of the defendant, whether by attachment, replevin against any possessor of the object of a chattel mortgage even if the latter
foreclosure, or other form of remedy (Sandejas vs. Robles, 81 were not a party to the mortgage.
Phil. 421). In the case at bar, the court cannot render any
judgment binding on the defendants spouses for having allegedly
Replevin, broadly understood, is both a form of principal remedy and of a provisional
violated the terms and conditions of the promissory note and the
relief. It may refer either to the action itself, i.e., to regain the possession of personal
contract of chattel mortgage on the ground that the court has no
chattels being wrongfully detained from the plaintiff by another, or to the provisional
jurisdiction over their persons no summons having been served
remedy that would allow the plaintiff to retain the thing during the pendency of the
on them. That judgment, it rendered, is void for having denied the
action and hold it pendente lite. 20 The action is primarily possessory in nature and
defendants spouses due process of law which contemplates
generally determines nothing more than the right of possession. Replevin is so usually
notice and opportunity to be heard before judgment is rendered,
described as a mixed action, being partly in rem and partly in personam — in
affecting one's person or property (Macabingkil vs. Yatco, 26
rem insofar as the recovery of specific property is concerned, and in personam as
SCRA 150, 157).
regards to damages involved. As an "action in rem," the gist of the replevin action is
the right of the plaintiff to obtain possession of specific personal property by reason of
It is next contended by appellant that as between appellant, as his being the owner or of his having a special interest therein. 21 Consequently, the
mortgagee, and John Doe, whose right to possession is dubious if person in possession of the property sought to be replevied is ordinary the proper and
not totally non-existent, it is the former which has the superior only necessary party defendant, and the plaintiff is not required to so join as
right of possession. defendants other persons claiming a right on the property but not in possession
thereof. Rule 60 of the Rules of Court allows an application for the immediate
possession of the property but the plaintiff must show that he has a good legal
We cannot agree.
basis, i.e., a clear title thereto, for seeking such interim possession.

It is an undisputed fact that the subject motor vehicle was taken


Where the right of the plaintiff to the possession of the specific property is so
from the possession of said Roberto M. Reyes, a third person with
conceded or evident, the action need only be maintained against him who so
respect to the contract of chattel mortgage between the appellant
possesses the property. In rem actio est per quam rem nostram quae ab alio
and the defendants spouses Manahan.
possidetur petimus, et semper adversus eum est qui rem possidet. In Northern
Motors, Inc. vs. Herrera, 22the Court has said:
The Civil Code expressly provides that every possessor has a
right to be respected in his possession (Art. 539, New Civil Code);
There can be no question that persons having a special right of
that good faith is always presumed, and upon him who alleges
property in the goods the recovery of which is sought; such as a
bad faith on the part of a possessor rests the burden of proof (Art.
chattel mortgagee, may maintain an action for replevin therefor.
527, ibid.); and that the possession of movable property acquired
Where the mortgage authorizes the mortgagee to take
in good faith is equivalent to a title; nevertheless, one who has
possession of the property on default, he may maintain an action
lost any movable or has been unlawfully deprived thereof, may
to recover possession of the mortgaged chattels from the
recover it from the person in possession of the same (Art.
mortgagor or from any person in whose hands he may find
559, ibid.). Thus, it has been held that a possessor in good faith is
them. 23
entitled to be respected and protected in his possession as if he
were the true owner thereof until a competent court rules
otherwise (Chus Hai vs. Kapunan, 104 Phil. 110; Yu, et al. vs. In effect then, the mortgagee, upon the mortgagor's default, is constituted
Hon. Honrado, etc., et al., 99 SCRA 237). In the case at bar, the an attorney-in-fact of the mortgagor enabling such mortgagee to act for and
trial court did not err in holding that the complaint does not state in behalf of the owner. Accordingly, that the defendant is not privy to the
any cause of action against Roberto M. Reyes, and in ordering chattel mortgage should be inconsequential. By the fact that the object of
the return of the subject chattel to him. 19 replevin is traced to his possession, one properly can be a defendant in an
action for replevin. It is here assumed that the plaintiffs right to possess the
thing is not or cannot be disputed.
The appellate court, subsequently, denied petitioner's motion for
reconsideration.
In case the right of possession on the part of the plaintiff, or his authority to claim such
possession or that of his principal, is put to great doubt (a contending party might
contest the legal bases for plaintiffs cause of action or an adverse and independent
claim of ownership or right of possession is raised by that party), it could become in the litigation, and without whom no final
essential to have other persons involved and accordingly impleaded for a complete determination of the case can be had. The
determination and resolution of the controversy. For instance, in Servicewide party's interest in the subject matter of the
Specialists, Inc., vs. Court of Appeals, et al., G.R. No. 103301, 08 December 1995, suit and in the relief sought are so
this Court ruled. inextricably intertwined with the other parties'
that his legal presence as a party to the
proceeding is an absolute necessity. In his
While, in its present petition for review on certiorari, Servicewide
absence there cannot be a resolution of the
has raised a number of points, the crucial issue still remains,
dispute of the parties before the court which
however, to be whether or not an action filed by the mortgagee for
is effective, complete, or equitable.
replevin to effect a foreclosure of the property covered by the
chattel mortgage would require that the mortgagor be so
impleaded as an indispensable party thereto. Conversely, a party is not indispensable to
the suit if his interest in the controversy or
subject matter is distinct and divisible from
Rule 60 of the Rules of Court allows a plaintiff, in an action for the
the interest of the other parties and will not
recovery of possession of personal property, to apply for a writ of
necessarily be prejudiced by a judgment
replevin if it can be shown that he is the owner of the property
which does complete justice to the parties in
claimed . . . or is entitled to the possession thereof.' The plaintiff
court. He is not indispensable if his presence
need not be the owner so long as he is able to specify his right to
would merely permit complete relief between
the possession of the property and his legal basis therefor. The
him and those already parties to the action or
question then, insofar as the matter finds relation to the instant
will simply avoid multiple litigation.
case, is whether or not the plaintiff (herein petitioner) who has
predicated his right on being the mortgagee of a chattel mortgage
should implead the mortgagor in his complaint that seeks to Without the presence of indispensable parties to a suit or
recover possession of the encumbered property in order to effect proceeding, a judgment of a court cannot attain real finality.
its foreclosure. (Footnotes omitted.)

The answer has to be in the affirmative. In a suit for replevin, a A chattel mortgagee, unlike a pledgee, need not be in, nor entitled to the possession
clear right of possession must be established. A foreclosure under of the property unless and until the mortgagor defaults and the mortgagee thereupon
a chattel mortgage may properly be commenced only once there seeks to foreclose thereon. Since the mortgagee's right of possession is conditioned
is default on the part of the mortgagor of his obligation secured by upon the actual fact of default which itself may be controverted, the inclusion of other
the mortgage. The replevin in the instant case has been sought to parties like the debtor or the mortgagor himself, may be required in order to allow a full
pave the way for the foreclosure of the object covered by the and conclusive determination of the case. When the mortgagee seeks a replevin in
chattel mortgage. The conditions essential for that foreclosure order to effect the eventual foreclosure of the mortgage, it is not only the existence of,
would be to show, firstly, the existence of the chattel mortgage but also the mortgagor's default on, the chattel mortgage that, among other things,
and, secondly, the default of the mortgagor. These requirements can properly uphold the right to replevy the property. The burden to establish a valid
must be established since the validity of the plaintiffs exercise of justification for that action lies with the plaintiff. An adverse possessor, who is not the
the right of foreclosure are inevitably dependent thereon. It would mortgagor, cannot just be deprived of his possession, let alone be bound by the terms
thus seem, considering particularly an adverse and of the chattel mortgage contract, simply because the mortgagee brings up an action
independent claim of ownership by private respondent that the for replevin.
lower court acted improvidently when it granted the dismissal of
the complaint against Dollente, albeit on petitioner's (then plaintiff)
The appellate court, accordingly, acted well in arriving at its now questioned judgment.
plea, on the ground that the "non-service of summons upon
Ernesto Dollente (would) only delay the determination of the
merits of the case, to the prejudice of the parties." In Imson WHEREFORE, the decision of the Court of Appeals is AFFIRMED No costs.
v. Court of Appeals, we have explained:
SO ORDERED.
. . . . An indispensable party is one whose
interest will be affected by the court's action
137. 4 The respondent appellate Court found the antecedent facts, to be as
follows: 5
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT The plaintiff-respondent Johnson & Johnson (Phils.), Incorporated
Manila (hereinafter referred to as the corporation) is engaged in the
manufacturing and selling of various cosmetics, health, and body
care products, as well as medical drugs. On several occasions in
THIRD DIVISION the year 1982, the defendant, Delilah Vinluan, purchased
products of the plaintiff-respondent corporation, as she was also
engaged in the business of retailing Johnson products, among
others. The defendants, under the name and style of "Vinluan
Enterprises," thus incurred an obligation of Two Hundred Thirty-
G.R. No. 102692 September 23, 1996 Five Thousand Eight Hundred Eighty Pesos and Eighty-Nine
(P235,880.89) Centavos, for which she issued seven (7)
JOHNSON & JOHNSON (PHILS.), INC., petitioner, Philippine Banking Corporation checks of varying amounts and
vs. due dates. When presented on their respective due dates,
COURT OF APPEALS and ALEJO M. VINLUAN, respondents. however, the checks given in payment of the obligation bounced
and were dishonored for having been drawn against insufficient
funds.

Several demands thereafter for payment were to no avail, despite


PANGANIBAN, J.: the accommodations given by the plaintiff-respondent corporation
by granting several extensions to the defendant spouses to settle
May a husband be held liable for the debts of his wife which were incurred the obligation. It was only on January 5, 1983 that the defendants
without his consent and which did not benefit the conjugal partnership? May made a partial payment of Five Thousand (P5,000.00) Pesos,
a judgment declaring a wife solely liable, be executed thereby reducing their principal obligation to P230,880.89. When
uponconjugal property, over the objection of the husband? no further payments were made to settle the obligation despite
repeated demands, the plaintiff-respondent corporation was
constrained to file a complaint (Annex "A") on June 8, 1983
These are the main questions raised in the instant petition for review against defendant spouses Vinluan, for collection of the principal
on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court which seeks nullification of obligation plus interest, with damages. Filed before the
the Decision 1 in CA-G.R. SP No. 19178 of the Court of Appeals,2 the respondent Regional Trial Court of Makati, Branch 137, it was
dispositive portion of which reads: docketed as Civil Case No. 4186.

WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing, the instant petition is After trial on the merits, on February 5, 1985, the respondent
hereby GRANTED, and the orders dated July 24, 1989 and court rendered its Decision (Annex "C"), the dispositive portion of
October 4, 1989 of the Regional Trial Court of Makati, Branch which reads:
137, in Civil Case No. 4186, as well as the notices of levy issued
by the Provincial Sheriff of Rizal dated February 8, 1989, are
hereby declared null and void and set aside. No costs. WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby
rendered sentencing the defendant
DELILAH A. VINLUAN to pay
The Facts plaintiff Johnson & Johnson
(Phils.), Inc, the sum of
This case was initiated in the trial court by a complaint 3 filed by petitioner P242,482.40 with interest and
against spouses Delilah A. Vinluan, owner of Vinluan Enterprises, and her penalty charges at the rate of 2%
husband Capt. Alejo M. Vinluan (the private respondent before us), for per month from 30 January 1983
collection of a sum of money with damages, which was docketed as Civil until fully paid, and the sum of
Case No. 4186 and tried in the Regional Trial Court of Makati, Branch
P30,000.00 as attorney's fees, and to the third-party claims of private respondent, a comment and/or opposition
to pay the costs. dated March 6, 1989 was filed by petitioner.

Defendants' counterclaim is hereby Private respondent moved on July 1, 1989 to quash the levy on execution
dismissed for lack of sufficient on the ground that the notices of levy on execution did not conform to the
merit. final decision of the court and to the writ of execution. As expected,
petitioner opposed the motion. On July 24, 1989, the trial court issued the
first assailed Order fixing the value of the levied personal properties at
In arriving at the sole liability of defendant Delilah A. Vinluan, the trial court
P300,000.00, and denying the third-party claim and the motion to quash the
found after "meticulous scrutiny and careful evaluation of the evidence on
levy on execution. Citing the last sentence of Article 117 11 of the Civil Code,
record" that there was "no privity of contract, whether direct or indirect,
the court a quoruled that: 12
between plaintiff and defendant-husband regarding the obligations incurred
by defendant-wife." According to the trial court, "(i)n fact, the acts
performed, and the statements made, by defendant-husband, and from Since Alejo Vinluan did not seek the intervention of the Court to
which plaintiff derived the notion that said defendant is a co-owner of air his objections in his wife's engaging in business, coupled by
VINLUAN ENTERPRISES, took place after the obligation involved in this the fact that he made several representations for the settlement of
action had been incurred or contracted by the defendant-wife, albeit without his wife's account, Alejo Vinluan's consent thereto became
the husband's knowledge or consent, as there was no allegation in the evident. As such, even his own capital may be liable, together
complaint that said obligations were incurred by defendant-wife with her with the conjugal and paraphernal property (I Paras 363, 1987
husband's consent, or that it was incurred for the benefit of the family. . . ." 6 ed., p. 6; Art. 6-10, Code of Commerce). Withal, Article 172 of the
New Civil Code categorically declares that —
The trial court also found that private respondent never intimated in his
conversations or meetings with, or in any of his letters to, petitioner that "he The wife cannot bind the conjugal
was a co-owner of VINLUAN ENTERPRISES, much less did he represent partnership without the husband's
himself as such co-owner, to the plaintiff and to plaintiff's counsel . . . ." consent, except in the cases
When private respondent personally negotiated with petitioner and provided by law.
proposed a settlement of the subject obligations, these actuations were not
to be considered as admission of co-ownership of VINLUAN
Granting arguendo that Alejo Vinluan did not give his consent,
ENTERPRISES for "(a)fter all, common sense and our inborn mores of
expressly or impliedly, the paraphernal and conjugal property may
conduct dictate that a husband must give aid and comfort to his distressed
still be held liable but not his capital (I Paras 363, 1978 ed.).
wife." 7 The trial court further held that the defendant spouses had
sufficiently established that the defendant wife was sole owner of the
business venture, that the conjugal partnership never derived any benefit Petitioner's motion for reconsideration of the abovequoted first order (on the
therefrom, and that the same closed due to continued losses. In sum, the ground that it directly contravened the decision itself which had already
court a quo held that private respondent could not legally be held liable for become final and executory) was denied via the second contested Order
the obligations contracted by the wife. dated October 4, 1989, where the trial court ruled: 13

Thus, the court below issued a writ of execution 8 on February 3, 1989, The Court finds untenable movant-defendant's assertion that Art.
directing the Provincial Sheriff of Rizal to execute the judgment on 172 of the New Civil Code is not in point. The consent of the
the properties of the defendant-wife. However, the two notices of levy on husband is indeed vital in determining what properties shall be
execution 9 issued on February 8, 1989 covered not only her exclusive or subsidiarily liable in the event the paraphernal properties of
paraphernal properties, but also the real and personal properties of the Delilah Vinluan should turn out to be insufficient to cover the
conjugal partnership of the spouses Vinluan. The next day, her husband judgment debt, as fully explained in the Order dated 24 July 1989.
(herein private respondent) filed a third-party claim 10 seeking the lifting of
the levy on the conjugal properties, followed by another third-party claim
Art. 122 of the Family Code which party provides that —
reiterating the same demand with threat of possible lawsuit. Subsequently,
petitioner corporation filed a motion dated February 14, 1989 asking the
court to fix the value of the properties levied upon by the sheriff. In response Art. 122. The payment of personal debts
contracted by the husband or the wife before
or during the marriage shall not be charged to Petitioner raised the following "issues of law" for consideration of this Court,
the conjugal partnership except insofar as to wit: 14
they redounded to the benefit of the family.
1. Whether or not the decision of the honorable trial court dated
xxx xxx xxx February 5, 1985 exonerating (sic) defendant husband, private
respondent herein, from the obligation contracted by the wife in
the pursuit of her business also absolves the conjugal partnership
is not applicable in that —
from liability.

This Code (Family Code) shall


2. Whether or not the subsequent order of the honorable trial
have retroactive effect insofar as it
court dated July 24, 1989 and October 4, 1989 is a reversal of its
does not prejudice or impair vested
own original decision as found out by the honorable public
or acquired rights in accordance
respondent.
with the Civil Code or other laws
(Art. 255, Family Code; emphasis
supplied). The pivotal issues in this case may be re-stated thus: whether or not the
order of the trial court denying private respondent's third-party claim and
motion to quash levy on execution in effect amended the dispositive portion
Plaintiff (petitioner herein), having acquired a vested right prior to
of the trial court's decision which had long become final and executory, and
the effectivity of the Family Code, said code is not a propos (sic).
if so, whether same is proper or not. These issues shall be ruled upon
Even granting arguendo that the same is befitting, movant
together.
defendant failed to realize that although Delilah Vinluan suffered
losses in her legitimate business, the experience she has gained
redounded to the benefit of the family, and as such, the conjugal The Court's Ruling
partnership must bear the indebtedness and losses (I Paras 464,
1981 ed.). Moreover, had the business Delilah Vinluan engaged
Petitioner contends 15 that the purpose of impleading private respondent as
in been a success, all profits would have been considered
co-defendant in petitioner's complaint was to bind not only the defendant-
conjugal; it is therefore but fair that the risks of the business
spouses' conjugal partnership but also private respondent's capital. The trial
should be borne by the conjugal partnership (Miravite, Bar Review
court resolved that it was not necessary that private respondent (as
Materials in Commercial Law, 1986 ed., p. 89; J.N. Nolledo,
husband) be joined as party-defendant in the suit below. Inasmuch as it
Commercial Law Reviewer, 1986 ed., pp. 6, 7; U.P. Law
appeared from the allegations in the complaint that private respondent may
Complex, Answers to Bar Questions In Commercial Law, 1986
be a co-owner of Vinluan Enterprises, the trial court nonetheless did not
ed., pp. 174, 175; Vitug, Commercial Law Reviewer, 1984, ed., p.
exclude private respondent but passed upon the issue of such co-ownership
5).
to determine whether he may be held liable in the same manner as his wife.
Petitioner insists that the trial court in its decision merely made a finding that
There is a wide-embracing oversight when movant-defendant the private respondent husband was not a co-owner of the business venture
asserted that to hold the conjugal partnership property liable for of his wife, which conclusion ("exoneration") only exempted his capital from
the indebtedness incurred solely by his wife would in effect modify the adjudged liability, but not the conjugal properties of the spouses.
the Decision dated 5 Feb 1985 which is now final and executory. Petitioner further argues that nowhere in the trial court's decision can there
As afore-discussed, the conjugal property is subsidiarily liable. be found any pronouncement absolving the conjugal property from liability,
contrary to the findings of the respondent Court.
As indicated above, the private respondent elevated the matter to the
respondent appellate Court, charging the trial court with grave abuse of Also, petitioner reasons that the enforcement of the decision against the
discretion for effectively reversing its own final judgment. The respondent conjugal property is merely compliance with law, and that this Court in a
Court upheld the private respondent in its now-assailed Decision, and long line of cases 16 held that a judgment is not confined to what appears
denied herein petitioner's subsequent motion for reconsideration. Thus, upon the face of the decision but also those necessarily included therein or
petitioner is now before us seeking review under Rule 45. necessary thereto. 17 Additionally, petitioner pleads that the trial court's
order did not modify its final and executory decision but only clarified an
The Issues
ambiguity in the decision as to what properties are liable. As authority, it As We stated earlier, this cannot be done because the decision,
citesRepublic vs. De los Angeles. 18 along with the respondent Court's original findings, had already
become final and indisputable. The respondent Court already
found that the defendant husband did not give his consent;
Petitioner's contentions are devoid of merit.
neither did the obligation incurred by the defendant wife redound
to the benefit of the family. Hence, the conjugal partnership, as
Respondent Court correctly ruled that the trial court cannot, in the guise of well as the defendant husband, cannot be held liable. As originally
deciding the third-party claim, reverse its final decision. Commenting on the decreed by the Court, only the defendant wife and her
trial court's very patent "about-face" on the issues of consent of the paraphernal property can be held liable. Since the power of the
husband, benefit to the family, and the husband's liability for obligations court in execution of judgments extends only to properties
contracted by his wife, the appellate Court held, and we quote: 19 unquestionably belonging to the judgment debtor alone (Republic
vs. Enriquez, 166 SCRA 608), the conjugal properties and the
capital of the defendant husband cannot be levied upon.
We see in these stark contradictions an attempt by the
respondent Court to reverse itself, even when the decision sought
to be executed had already become final. The respondent Court The settled rule is that a judgment which has acquired finality becomes
has no authority to modify or vary the terms and conditions of a immutable and unalterable, and hence may no longer be modified in any
final and executory judgment (Vda. de Nabong vs. Sadang, 167 respect except only to correct clerical errors or mistakes — all the issues
SCRA 232) and this attempt to thwart the rules cannot be allowed between the parties being deemed resolved and laid to rest. 20 This is meant
to pass. Even if the respondent Court feels that it needed to to preserve the stability of decisions rendered by the courts, and to
reverse its findings to correct itself, the decision, whether dissuade parties from trifling with court processes. One who has submitted
erroneous or not, has become the law of the case between the his case to a regular court necessarily commits himself to abide by whatever
parties upon attaining finality (Balais vs. Balais, 159 SCRA 37). decision the court may render. Any error in the decision which has not been
the respondent Court has no choice but to order the execution of considered in a timely motion for reconsideration or appeal cannot be
the final decision according to what is ordained and decreed in impugned when such error becomes apparent only during execution. This
the dispositive portion of the decision (National Steel Corp. vs. rule applies with more force in the case of to decision judge who has limited
NLRC, 165 SCRA 452). prerogative during execution of the judgment. For as correctly held by
herein public respondent, aside from ordering the enforcement of the
dispositive portion of the decision, the trial judge can do nothing about the
The dispositive portion of the decision charges the defendant errors in the ratiocination of the decision or even alter the dispositive portion
Delilah Vinluan alone to pay the plaintiff corporation, having by mere order issued subsequent to the finality of the decision. The issue
already declared that the defendant-husband cannot be held having been laid to rest, the court cannot on the pretext of determining the
legally liable for his wife's obligations. Perhaps, when it was later validity of the third-party claim and the motion to quash levy on execution
discovered that the defendant Delilah Vinluan did not have alter the scope of the dispositive portion of the decision sought to be
sufficient property of her own to settle the obligation, the conjugal implemented.
properties of the defendant-spouses became the object of the
levy. But in order to bind the conjugal partnership and its
properties, the New Civil Code provides that the debts and Petitioner's arguments notwithstanding, the trial court's order cannot be said
obligations contracted by the husband (or the wife) must be for to be merely clarificatory in nature. There is no ambiguity at all in the
the benefit of the conjugal partnership (Article 161, par. 1); and decision, for it categorically declared defendant Delilah A. Vinluan solely
that the husband must consent to his wife's engaging in business liable, without any recourse provided against her husband. Thus, the case
(Article 117). of Republic vs. Delos Angeles, 21 holding that doubtful or
ambiguous judgments are to have a reasonable intendment to do justice
and avoid wrong, does not apply here. as was later held in Filinvest Credit
Thus, we see a belated effort on the part of the respondent Court Corporation vs. Court of Appeals, 22 "(w)here there is an ambiguity, a
to reverse itself by declaring that the obligations incurred by the judgment shall be read in connection with the entire record and construed
defendant wife redounded to the benefit of the family and that the accordingly. In such a case, it is proper to consider the pleadings and the
defendant husband had given his consent, in order to bind the evidence." (Emphasis supplied). But the text of the trial court's decision
conjugal partnership. points to no other person liable but Delilah Vinluan, and in fact made a
rather lengthy discussion on the exemption from liability of the conjugal
partnership; hence, there can be no ambiguity to speak of in the decision.
And even more clearly, the body of the decision of the trial court expressly reviewed, or in any way modified directly or indirectly, by a higher court, not
exempted private respondent from liability by categorically ruling that "the even by the Supreme Court, much less by any other official, branch or
defendant-husband cannot, together, with co-defendant, legally be held department of Government." 26
liable for the obligations contracted by the wife." 23 Further, the trial court
expounded: 24
. . . (N)othing is more settled in the law than that when a final
judgment becomes executory, it thereby becomes immutable and
. . . . What is more, it is an admitted fact that the subject unalterable. The judgment may no longer be modified in any
obligations had partially been paid by the defendant-wife herself. respect, even if the modification is meant to correct what is
Thus, plaintiff implicitly averred that "defendant Delilah Vinluan, perceived to be an erroneous conclusion of fact or law, and
ding business under the name and style of VINLUAN regardless of whether the modification is attempted to be made by
ENTERPRISES is one of the various customers of the plaintiff's the Court rendering it or by the highest Court of land. They only
products' (Cf. p. 1, Plaintiff's Pre-Trial Brief); that "Delilah recognized exceptions are the correction of clerical errors or the
Vinluan . . . purchased different Johnson products . . . , thus making of so-called nunc pro tunc entries which cause no
incurring an obligation of P235,880.89" (Cf. par. III, Complaint); prejudice to any party, and, of course, where the judgment is void.
that "defendant Delilah Vinluan tried to pay (her) obligations . . .
when she issued Philippine Banking Checks . . . , but which
Furthermore, "(a)ny amendment or alteration which substantially
checks upon presentment to the Bank were dishonored for the
affects a final and executory judgment is null and void for lack of
reason "Drawn Against Insufficient Funds" (Cf. par. V, id.); that
jurisdiction, including the entire proceedings held for that
" . . . , defendant Delilah A. Vinluan appealed to the company and
purpose." 27
also represented that she be given an opportunity to settle the
accountability" (Cf. par. VI, id.); that "defendant sent a letter to the
company where she alleged that payment cannot be made The respondent Court also commented on the sheriff's actuations as
because they are "victims of some bad practices in the trade and follows: 28
that they are working on some means to settle their accounts and
all that they ask is time to settle." (Cf. par. VI, id.).
Furthermore, it is the duty of the sheriff to ensure that only that
portion of the decision ordained and decreed in the dispositive
We take this occasion to reiterate the ruling of this Court in an early part should be the subject of the execution (Cunanan vs. Cruz,
case 25 that litigations must end and terminate sometime and somewhere, it 167 SCRA 674). The writ of execution itself states that only the
being essential to the effective and efficient administration of justice that properties of the defendant wife were to be levied upon. There
once a judgment has become final, the winning party be not, through a was no mention even of conjugal properties. Hence, in levying on
mere subterfuge, deprived of the fruits of the verdict. Hence, courts must the properties that did not exclusively belong to the judgment
guard against any scheme calculated to bring about that result, for, debtor, the notices of levy failed to conform to the decree of the
constituted as they are to put an end to controversies, courts should frown decision, and are, therefore, irregular and contrary to the Rules
upon any attempt to prolong them. Furthermore, public policy and sound (Canlas vs. CA, 164 SCRA 160).
practice demand that at the risk of occasional errors, judgments of courts
should become final and irrevocable at some definite date fixed by law. And
It is a rule firmly established in our jurisprudence that a sheriff is not
this is better observed if the court executing the judgment would refrain from
authorized to attach or levy on property not belonging to the judgment
creating further controversy by effectively modifying and altering the
debtor. 29 A sheriff even incurs liability if he wrongfully levies upon the
dispositive portion of the decision, thus further delaying the satisfaction of
property of a third person. 30 A sheriff has no authority to attach the property
the judgment. No matter how just the intention of the trial court, it cannot
of any person under execution except that of the judgment debtor. The
legally reverse what has already been settled. Holding the conjugal
sheriff maybe liable for enforcing execution on property belonging to a third
partnership liable in the order after the finality of the decision is evidently not
party. 31 If he does so, the writ of execution affords him no justification, for
just correcting a mere clerical error; it goes into the merits of the case. And
the action is not in obedience to the mandate of the writ.
this is prohibited by the rules and jurisprudence.

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing considerations, the herein petition is


We have elsewhere ruled that "should judgment of lower courts — which
hereby DENIED, and the Decision of the respondent Court is AFFIRMED.
may normally be subject to review by higher tribunals — become final and
Costs against petitioner.
executory before, or without, exhaustion of all recourse of appeal, they, too,
become inviolable, impervious to modification. They may, then, no longer be
SO ORDERED. 3. The lower court erred in not holding that one-half (½) of the proceeds of
the policy in question is community property and that therefore no
inheritance tax can be levied, at least on one-half (½) of the said proceeds.

4. The lower court erred in not declaring that it would be unconstitutional to


impose an inheritance tax upon the insurance policy here in question as it
would be a taking of property without due process of law.

Republic of the Philippines The present complaint seeks to recover from the defendant Juan Posadas, Jr.,
SUPREME COURT Collector of Internal Revenue, the amount of P1,209 paid by the plaintiff under protest,
Manila in its capacity of administrator of the estate of the late Adolphe Oscar Schuetze, as
inheritance tax upon the sum of P20,150, which is the amount of an insurance policy
EN BANC on the deceased's life, wherein his own estate was named the beneficiary.

G.R. No. L-34583 October 22, 1931 At the hearing, in addition to documentary and parol evidence, both parties
submitted the following agreed statement of facts of the court for consideration:
THE BANK OF THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS, administrator of the estate of the late
Adolphe Oscar Schuetze,plaintiff-appellant, It is hereby stipulated and agreed by and between the parties in the above-
vs. entitled action through their respective undersigned attorneys:
JUAN POSADAS, JR., Collector of Internal Revenue, defendant-appellee.
1. That the plaintiff, Rosario Gelano Vda. de Schuetze, window of the late
Araneta, De Joya, Zaragoza and Araneta for appellant. Adolphe Oscar Schuetze, is of legal age, a native of Manila, Philippine
Attorney-General Jaranilla for appellee. Islands, and is and was at all times hereinafter mentioned a resident of
Germany, and at the time of the death of her husband, the late Adolphe
Oscar Schuetze, she was actually residing and living in Germany;

2. That the Bank of the Philippine Islands, is and was at all times hereinafter
VILLA-REAL, J.: mentioned a banking institution duly organized and existing under and by
virtue of the laws of the Philippine Islands;
The Bank of the Philippine Islands, as administrator of the estate of the
deceased Adolphe Oscar Schuetze, has appealed to this court from the judgment of 3. That on or about August 23, 1928, the herein plaintiff before notary public
the Court of First Instance of Manila absolving the defendant Juan Posadas, Jr., Salvador Zaragoza, drew a general power appointing the above-mentioned
Collector of Internal Revenue, from the complaint filed against him by said plaintiff Bank of the Philippine Islands as her attorney-in-fact, and among the
bank, and dismissing the complaint with costs. powers conferred to said attorney-in-fact was the power to represent her in
all legal actions instituted by or against her;
The appellant has assigned the following alleged errors as committed by the
trial court in its judgment, to wit: 4. That the defendant, of legal age, is and at all times hereinafter mentioned
the duly appointed Collector of Internal Revenue with offices at Manila,
1. The lower court erred in holding that the testimony of Mrs. Schuetze was Philippine Islands;
inefficient to established the domicile of her husband.
5. That the deceased Adolphe Oscar Schuetze came to the Philippine
2. The lower court erred in holding that under section 1536 of the Islands for the first time of March 31, 1890, and worked in the several
Administrative Code the tax imposed by the defendant is lawful and valid. German firms as a mere employee and that from the year 1903 until the
year 1918 he was partner in the business of Alfredo Roensch;
6. That from 1903 to 1922 the said Adolphe Oscar Schuetze was in the 16. That on or about the year 1918, the Sun Life Assurance Company of
habit of making various trips to Europe; Canada, Manila branch, transferred said policy to the Sun Life Assurance
Company of Canada, London branch;
7. That on December 3, 1927, the late Adolphe Oscar Schuetze coming
from Java, and with the intention of going to Bremen, landed in the 17. That due to said transfer the said Adolphe Oscar Schuetze from 1918 to
Philippine Islands where he met his death on February 2, 1928; the time of his death paid the premiums of said policy to the Sun Life
Assurance Company of Canada, London Branch;
8. That on March 31, 1926, the said Adolphe Oscar Schuetze, while in
Germany, executed a will, in accordance with its law, wherein plaintiff was 18. That the sole and only heir of the deceased Adolphe Oscar Schuetze is
named his universal heir; his widow, the plaintiff herein;

9. That the Bank of the Philippine Islands by order of the Court of First 19. That at the time of the death of the deceased and at all times thereafter
Instance of Manila under date of May 24, 1928, was appointed administrator including the date when the said insurance policy was paid, the insurance
of the estate of the deceased Adolphe Oscar Schuetze; policy was not in the hands or possession of the Manila office of the Sun
Life Assurance Company of Canada, nor in the possession of the herein
plaintiff, nor in the possession of her attorney-in-fact the Bank of the
10. That, according to the testamentary proceedings instituted in the Court
Philippine Islands, but the same was in the hands of the Head Office of the
of First Instance of Manila, civil case No. 33089, the deceased at the time of
Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada, at Montreal, Canada;
his death was possessed of not only real property situated in the Philippine
Islands, but also personal property consisting of shares of stock in nineteen
(19) domestic corporations; 20. That on July 13, 1928, the Bank of the Philippine Islands as
administrator of the decedent's estate received from the Sun Life Assurance
Company of Canada, Manila branch, the sum of P20,150 representing the
11. That the fair market value of all the property in the Philippine Islands left
proceeds of the insurance policy, as shown in the statement of income and
by the deceased at the time of his death in accordance with the inventory
expenses of the estate of the deceased submitted on June 18, 1929, by the
submitted to the Court of First Instance of Manila, civil case No. 33089, was
administrator to the Court of First Instance of Manila, civil case No. 33089;
P217,560.38;

21. That the Bank of the Philippine Islands delivered to the plaintiff herein
12. That the Bank of the Philippine Islands, as administrator of the estate of
the said sum of P20,150;
the deceased rendered its final account on June 19, 1929, and that said
estate was closed on July 16, 1929;
22. That the herein defendant on or about July 5, 1929, imposed an
inheritance tax upon the transmission of the proceeds of the policy in
13. That among the personal property of the deceased was found life-
question in the sum of P20,150 from the estate of the late Adolphe Oscar
insurance policy No. 194538 issued at Manila, Philippine Islands, on
Schuetze to the sole heir of the deceased, or the plaintiff herein, which
January 14, 1913, for the sum of $10,000 by the Sun Life Assurance
inheritance tax amounted to the sum of P1,209;
Company of Canada, Manila branch, a foreign corporation duly organized
and existing under and by virtue of the laws of Canada, and duly authorized
to transact business in the Philippine Islands; 23. That the Bank of the Philippine Islands as administrator of the
decedent's estate and as attorney-in-fact of the herein plaintiff, having been
demanded by the herein defendant to pay inheritance tax amounting to the
14. That in the insurance policy the estate of the said Adolphe Oscar
sum of P1,209, paid to the defendant under protest the above-mentioned
Schuetze was named the beneficiary without any qualification whatsoever;
sum;

15. That for five consecutive years, the deceased Adolphe Oscar Schuetze
24. That notwithstanding the various demands made by plaintiff to the
paid the premiums of said policy to the Sun Life Assurance Company of
defendant, said defendant has refused and refuses to refund to plaintiff the
Canada, Manila branch;
above mentioned sum of P1,209;
25. That plaintiff reserves the right to adduce evidence as regards the property, or if the money cannot be proved as coming from one or the other
domicile of the deceased, and so the defendant, the right to present rebuttal of the spouses, the policy is community property.
evidence;
The Supreme Court of Texas, United States, in the case of Martin vs. Moran (11
26. That both plaintiff and defendant submit this stipulation of facts without Tex. Civ. A., 509) laid down the following doctrine:
prejudice to their right to introduce such evidence, on points not covered by
the agreement, which they may deem proper and necessary to support their
COMMUNITY PROPERTY — LIFE INSURANCE POLICY. — A
respective contentions.
husband took out an endowment life insurance policy on his life, payable
"as directed by will." He paid the premiums thereon out of community funds,
In as much as one of the question raised in the appeal is whether an insurance and by his will made the proceeds of the policy payable to his own estate.
policy on said Adolphe Oscar Schuetze's life was, by reason of its ownership, subject Held, that the proceeds were community estate, one-half of which belonged
to the inheritance tax, it would be well to decide first whether the amount thereof is to the wife.
paraphernal or community property.
In In re Stan's Estate, Myr. Prob. (Cal.), 5, the Supreme Court of California laid
According to the foregoing agreed statement of facts, the estate of Adolphe down the following doctrine:
Oscar Schuetze is the sole beneficiary named in the life-insurance policy for $10,000,
issued by the Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada on January 14, 1913. During
A testator, after marriage, took out an insurance policy, on which he
the following five years the insured paid the premiums at the Manila branch of the
paid the premiums from his salary. Held that the insurance money was
company, and in 1918 the policy was transferred to the London branch.
community property, to one-half of which, the wife was entitled as survivor.

The record shows that the deceased Adolphe Oscar Schuetze married the
In In re Webb's Estate, Myr. Prob. (Cal.), 93, the same court laid down the
plaintiff-appellant Rosario Gelano on January 16, 1914.
following doctrine:

With the exception of the premium for the first year covering the period from
A decedent paid the first third of the amount of the premiums on his
January 14, 1913 to January 14, 1914, all the money used for paying the premiums, i.
life-insurance policy out of his earnings before marriage, and the remainder
e., from the second year, or January 16, 1914, or when the deceased Adolphe Oscar
from his earnings received after marriage. Held, that one-third of the policy
Schuetze married the plaintiff-appellant Rosario Gelano, until his death on February 2,
belonged to his separate estate, and the remainder to the community
1929, is conjugal property inasmuch as it does not appear to have exclusively
property.
belonged to him or to his wife (art. 1407, Civil Code). As the sum of P20,150 here in
controversy is a product of such premium it must also be deemed community
property, because it was acquired for a valuable consideration, during said Adolphe Thus both according to our Civil Code and to the ruling of those North American
Oscar Schuetze's marriage with Rosario Gelano at the expense of the common fund States where the Spanish Civil Code once governed, the proceeds of a life-insurance
(art. 1401, No. 1, Civil Code), except for the small part corresponding to the first policy whereon the premiums were paid with conjugal money, belong to the conjugal
premium paid with the deceased's own money. partnership.

In his Commentaries on the Civil Code, volume 9, page 589, second edition, The appellee alleges that it is a fundamental principle that a life-insurance policy
Manresa treats of life insurance in the following terms, to wit: belongs exclusively to the beneficiary upon the death of the person insured, and that
in the present case, as the late Adolphe Oscar Schuetze named his own estate as the
sole beneficiary of the insurance on his life, upon his death the latter became the sole
The amount of the policy represents the premiums to be paid, and the
owner of the proceeds, which therefore became subject to the inheritance tax,
right to it arises the moment the contract is perfected, for at the moment the
citing Del Val vs. Del Val (29 Phil., 534), where the doctrine was laid down that an heir
power of disposing of it may be exercised, and if death occurs payment may
appointed beneficiary to a life-insurance policy taken out by the deceased, becomes
be demanded. It is therefore something acquired for a valuable
the absolute owner of the proceeds of such policy upon the death of the insured.
consideration during the marriage, though the period of its fulfillment,
depend upon the death of one of the spouses, which terminates the
partnership. So considered, the question may be said to be decided by The estate of a deceased person cannot be placed on the same footing as an
articles 1396 and 1401: if the premiums are paid with the exclusive property individual heir. The proceeds of a life-insurance policy payable to the estate of the
of husband or wife, the policy belongs to the owner; if with conjugal insured passed to the executor or administrator of such estate, and forms part of its
assets (37 Corpus Juris, 565, sec. 322); whereas the proceeds of a life-insurance Rosario Gelano Vda. de Schuetze upon her arrival at Manila, the sum of P20,150,
policy payable to an heir of the insured as beneficiary belongs exclusively to said heir which was the amount of the insurance policy on the life of said deceased, payable to
and does not form part of the deceased's estate subject to administrator. (Del Val vs. the latter's estate. On the same date Rosario Gelano Vda. de Schuetze delivered the
Del Val, supra; 37 Corpus Juris, 566, sec. 323, and articles 419 and 428 of the Code money to said Bank of the Philippine Islands, as administrator of the deceased's
of Commerce.) estate, which entered it in the inventory of the testamentary estate, and then returned
the money to said widow.
Just as an individual beneficiary of a life-insurance policy taken out by a married
person becomes the exclusive owner of the proceeds upon the death of the insured Section 1536 of the Administrative Code, as amended by section 10 of Act No.
even if the premiums were paid by the conjugal partnership, so, it is argued, where the 2835 and section 1 of Act No. 3031, contains the following relevant provision:
beneficiary named is the estate of the deceased whose life is insured, the proceeds of
the policy become a part of said estate upon the death of the insured even if the
SEC. 1536. Conditions and rate of taxation. — Every transmission by
premiums have been paid with conjugal funds.
virtue of inheritance, devise, bequest, gift mortis causa or advance in
anticipation of inheritance, devise, or bequest of real property located in the
In a conjugal partnership the husband is the manager, empowered to alienate Philippine Islands and real rights in such property; of any franchise which
the partnership property without the wife's consent (art. 1413, Civil Code), a third must be exercised in the Philippine Islands; of any shares, obligations, or
person, therefore, named beneficiary in a life-insurance policy becomes the absolute bonds issued by any corporation or sociedad anonimaorganized or
owner of its proceeds upon the death of the insured even if the premiums should have constituted in the Philippine Islands in accordance with its laws; of any
been paid with money belonging to the community property. When a married man has shares or rights in any partnership, business or industry established in the
his life insured and names his own estate after death, beneficiary, he makes no Philippine Islands or of any personal property located in the Philippine
alienation of the proceeds of conjugal funds to a third person, but appropriates them Islands shall be subject to the following tax:
himself, adding them to the assets of his estate, in contravention of the provisions of
article 1401, paragraph 1, of the Civil Code cited above, which provides that "To the
xxx xxx xxx
conjugal partnership belongs" (1) Property acquired for a valuable consideration
during the marriage at the expense of the common fund, whether the acquisition is
made for the partnership or for one of the spouses only." Furthermore, such In as much as the proceeds of the insurance policy on the life of the late
appropriation is a fraud practised upon the wife, which cannot be allowed to prejudice Adolphe Oscar Schuetze were paid to the Bank of the Philippine Islands, as
her, according to article 1413, paragraph 2, of said Code. Although the husband is the administrator of the deceased's estate, for management and partition, and as such
manager of the conjugal partnership, he cannot of his own free will convert the proceeds were turned over to the sole and universal testamentary heiress Rosario
partnership property into his own exclusive property. Gelano Vda. de Schuetze, the plaintiff-appellant, here in Manila, the situs of said
proceeds is the Philippine Islands.
As all the premiums on the life-insurance policy taken out by the late Adolphe
Oscar Schuetze, were paid out of the conjugal funds, with the exceptions of the first, In his work "The Law of Taxation," Cooley enunciates the general rule
the proceeds of the policy, excluding the proportional part corresponding to the first governing the levying of taxes upon tangible personal property, in the following words:
premium, constitute community property, notwithstanding the fact that the policy was
made payable to the deceased's estate, so that one-half of said proceeds belongs to
GENERAL RULE. — The suits of tangible personal property, for
the estate, and the other half to the deceased's widow, the plaintiff-appellant Rosario
purposes of taxation may be where the owner is domiciled but is not
Gelano Vda. de Schuetze.
necessarily so. Unlike intangible personal property, it may acquire a taxation
situs in a state other than the one where the owner is domiciled, merely
The second point to decide in this appeal is whether the Collector of Internal because it is located there. Its taxable situs is where it is more or less
Revenue has authority, under the law, to collect the inheritance tax upon one-half of permanently located, regardless of the domicile of the owner. It is well
the life-insurance policy taken out by the late Adolphe Oscar Schuetze, which belongs settled that the state where it is more or less permanently located has the
to him and is made payable to his estate. power to tax it although the owner resides out of the state, regardless of
whether it has been taxed for the same period at the domicile of the owner,
provided there is statutory authority for taxing such property. It is equally
According to the agreed statement of facts mentioned above, the plaintiff-
well settled that the state where the owner is domiciled has no power to tax
appellant, the Bank of the Philippine Islands, was appointed administrator of the late
it where the property has acquired an actual situs in another state by reason
Adolphe Oscar Schuetze's testamentary estate by an order dated March 24, 1928,
of its more or less permanent location in that state. ... (2 Cooley, The Law of
entered by the Court of First Instance of Manila. On July 13, 1928, the Sun Life
Taxation, 4th ed., p. 975, par. 451.)
Assurance Company of Canada, whose main office is in Montreal, Canada, paid
With reference to the meaning of the words "permanent" and "in transit," he has like proportion paraphernal in part and conjugal in part; and (3) that the proceeds of a
the following to say: life-insurance policy payable to the insured's estate as the beneficiary, if delivered to
the testamentary administrator of the former as part of the assets of said estate under
probate administration, are subject to the inheritance tax according to the law on the
PERMANENCY OF LOCATION; PROPERTY IN TRANSIT. — In
matter, if they belong to the assured exclusively, and it is immaterial that the insured
order to acquire a situs in a state or taxing district so as to be taxable in the
was domiciled in these Islands or outside.1awphil.net
state or district regardless of the domicile of the owner and not taxable in
another state or district at the domicile of the owner, tangible personal
property must be more or less permanently located in the state or district. In Wherefore, the judgment appealed from is reversed, and the defendant is
other words, the situs of tangible personal property is where it is more or ordered to return to the plaintiff the one-half of the tax collected upon the amount of
less permanently located rather than where it is merely in transit or P20,150, being the proceeds of the insurance policy on the life of the late Adolphe
temporarily and for no considerable length of time. If tangible personal Oscar Schuetze, after deducting the proportional part corresponding to the first
property is more or less permanently located in a state other than the one premium, without special pronouncement of costs. So ordered.
where the owner is domiciled, it is not taxable in the latter state but is
taxable in the state where it is located. If tangible personal property
Avanceña, C.J., Johnson, Street, Malcolm, Villamor, and Ostrand, JJ., concur.
belonging to one domiciled in one state is in another state merely in transitu
or for a short time, it is taxable in the former state, and is not taxable in the
state where it is for the time being. . . . .

Property merely in transit through a state ordinarily is not taxable


there. Transit begins when an article is committed to a carrier for
transportation to the state of its destination, or started on its ultimate
passage. Transit ends when the goods arrive at their destination. But Republic of the Philippines
intermediate these points questions may arise as to when a temporary stop SUPREME COURT
in transit is such as to make the property taxable at the place of stoppage. Manila
Whether the property is taxable in such a case usually depends on the
length of time and the purpose of the interruption of transit. . . . . FIRST DIVISION

. . . It has been held that property of a construction company, used in G.R. No. 146504 April 9, 2002
construction of a railroad, acquires a situs at the place where used for an
indefinite period. So tangible personal property in the state for the purpose
of undergoing a partial finishing process is not to be regarded as in the HONORIO L. CARLOS, petitioner,
course of transit nor as in the state for a mere temporary purpose. (2 vs.
Cooley, The Law of Taxation, 4th ed., pp. 982, 983 and 988, par. 452.) MANUEL T. ABELARDO, respondent.

If the proceeds of the life-insurance policy taken out by the late Adolphe Oscar KAPUNAN, J.:
Schuetze and made payable to his estate, were delivered to the Bank of the Philippine
Islands for administration and distribution, they were not in transit but were more or Assailed in this petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court is
less permanently located in the Philippine Islands, according to the foregoing rules. If the decision of the Court of Appeals dated November 10, 2000 in CA-G.R. CV No.
this be so, half of the proceeds which is community property, belongs to the estate of 54464 which reversed and set aside the decision of the Regional Trial Court of
the deceased and is subject to the inheritance tax, in accordance with the legal Valenzuela, Branch 172, and dismissed for insufficiency of evidence the complaint for
provision quoted above, irrespective of whether or not the late Adolphe Oscar a sum of money and damages filed by herein petitioner Honorio Carlos against
Schuetze was domiciled in the Philippine Islands at the time of his death. respondent Manuel Abelardo, his son-in-law, and the latter’s wife, Maria Theresa
Carlos-Abelardo.
By virtue of the foregoing, we are of opinion and so hold: (1) That the proceeds
of a life-insurance policy payable to the insured's estate, on which the premiums were Petitioner averred in his complaint filed on October 13, 1994 that in October 1989,
paid by the conjugal partnership, constitute community property, and belong one-half respondent and his wife Maria Theresa Carlos-Abelardo approached him and
to the husband and the other half to the wife, exclusively; (2) that if the premiums were requested him to advance the amount of US$25,000.00 for the purchase of a house
paid partly with paraphernal and partly conjugal funds, the proceeds are likewise in
and lot located at #19952 Chestnut Street, Executive Heights Village, Paranaque, d. Defendant xxx was made to believe that the earnings derived from such
Metro Manila. To enable and assist the spouses conduct their married life construction will be for him and his family since he was the one working to
independently and on their own, petitioner, in October 31, 1989, issued a check in the secure the contract and its completion, he was allowed to use the facilities
name of a certain Pura Vallejo, seller of the property, who acknowledged receipt of the plaintiff;
thereof.1 The amount was in full payment of the property.
e. The plaintiff seeing the progress brought about by defendant xxx to his
When petitioner inquired from the spouses in July 1991 as to the status of the amount company proposed a profit sharing scheme to the effect that all projects
he loaned to them, the latter acknowledged their obligation but pleaded that they were amounting to more than P10 million shall be for the account of plaintiff;
not yet in a position to make a definite settlement of the same.2 Thereafter, respondent lower amount shall be for defendant’s account but still using H.L. CARLOS
expressed violent resistance to petitioner’s inquiries on the amount to the extent of CONSTRUCTION.
making various death threats against petitioner.3
f. But, to clear account on previous construction contracts that brought
On August 24, 1994, petitioner made a formal demand for the payment of the amount income to H.L.CARLOS CONSTRUCTION, out of which defendant derived
of US$25,000.00 but the spouses failed to comply with their obligation.4 Thus, on his income, plaintiff gave the amount of US$25,000.00 to defendant to
October 13, 1994, petitioner filed a complaint for collection of a sum of money and square off account and to start the arrangement in paragraph (e) supra;
damages against respondent and his wife before the Regional Trial Court of
Valenzuela, Branch 172, docketed as Civil Case No. 4490-V-94. In the complaint,
g. That, the said US$25,000.00 was never intended as loan of defendant. It
petitioner asked for the payment of the US$25,000.00 or P625,000.00, its equivalent
was his share of income on contracts obtained by defendant;
in Philippine currency plus legal interest from date of extra-judicial demand.5 Petitioner
likewise claimed moral and exemplary damages, attorney’s fees and costs of suit from
respondent.6 xxx 9

As they were separated in fact for more than a year prior to the filing of the complaint, Respondent denied having made death threats to petitioner and by way of compulsory
respondent and his wife filed separate answers. Maria Theresa Carlos-Abelardo counterclaim, he asked for moral damages from petitioner for causing the alienation of
admitted securing a loan together with her husband, from petitioner.7 She claimed, his wife’s love and affection, attorney’s fees and costs of suit.10
however, that said loan was payable on a staggered basis so she was surprised when
petitioner demanded immediate payment of the full amount.8
On June 26, 1996, the Regional Trial Court rendered a decision in favor of petitioner,
the dispositive portion of which reads:
In his separate Answer, respondent admitted receiving the amount of US$25,000.00
but claimed that:
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered as follows:

xxx
1. Ordering the defendants to pay plaintiff the amount of US$25,000.00 or
its equivalent in Philippine Currency at the time of its payment, plus legal
a. Defendant (respondent) xxx revived that otherwise dormant construction interest thereon from August 24, 1994 until fully paid;
firm H.L. CARLOS CONSTRUCTION of herein plaintiff which suffered
tremendous setback after the assassination of Senator Benigno Aquino;
2. Ordering the defendant Manuel T. Abelardo to pay the plaintiff the
amount of P500,000.00 representing moral damages and the further
b. Working day and night and almost beyond human endurance, defendant amount of P50,000.00 as exemplary damages; and
devoted all his efforts and skill, used all his business and personal
connection to be able to revive the construction business of plaintiff;
3. Ordering the defendants to pay the plaintiff the amount of P100,000.00 as
attorney’s fees, plus the costs of suit.
c. Little-by-little, starting with small construction business, defendant was
able to obtain various construction jobs using the name H.L. CARLOS
SO ORDERED.11
CONSTRUCTION and the income derived therefrom were deposited in the
name of such firm of plaintiff,
Respondent appealed the decision of the trial court to the Court of Appeals. On respondent and his wife; and (4) respondent’s wife executed an instrument
November 10, 2000, the Court of Appeals reversed and set aside the trial court’s acknowledging the loan but which respondent did not sign.
decision and dismissed the complaint for insufficiency of evidence to show that the
subject amount was indeed loaned by petitioner to respondent and his wife. The Court
To prove his claim that the amount was in the nature of a loan or an advance he
of Appeals found that the amount of US$25,000.00 was respondent’s share in the
extended to respondent and his wife, petitioner presented Banker’s Trust Check No.
profits of H.L. Carlos Construction. The dispositive portion of the Court of Appeals’
337 in the amount of US$25,000.00 he issued on October 31, 1989 to Pura
decision states:
Vallejo.13 He also introduced in evidence an instrument executed by respondent’s wife
on July 31, 1991 acknowledging her and her husband’s accountability to petitioner for
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Decision of the Regional Trial the said amount which was advanced in payment of a house and lot located at
Court of Valenzuela, Branch 172 in Civil Case No. 4490-V-94 is hereby #19952 Chestnut Street, Executive Heights Subdivision, Paranaque.14 A formal
REVERSED and SET ASIDE and a new one entered DISMISSING the demand letter by counsel for petitioner dated August 24, 1994 sent to and received by
Complaint for insufficiency of evidence. respondent was also on record.15

The claim for damages by defendant-appellant is likewise DISMISSED, also All these pieces of evidence, taken together with respondent’s admission that he and
for insufficiency of evidence, because of his failure to present substantial his wife received the subject amount and used the same to purchase their house and
evidence to prove that plaintiff-appellee caused the defendant-spouses’ lot, sufficiently prove by a preponderance of evidence petitioner’s claim that the
separation. amount of US$25,000.00 was really in the nature of a loan.

Costs against the plaintiff-appellee. Respondent tried to rebut petitioner’s evidence by claiming that the US$25,000.00
was not a loan but his share in the profits of H.L. Carlos Construction. He alleged that
he received money from petitioner amounting to almost P3 million as his share in the
SO ORDERED.12
profits of the corporation. To prove this, he presented ten (10) Bank of the Philippine
Islands (BPI) checks allegedly given to him by petitioner.16 He argued that if indeed, he
A motion for reconsideration of the above decision having been denied on, petitioner and his wife were indebted to petitioner, the latter could have easily deducted the
brought this appeal assigning the following errors: amount of the said loan from his share of the profits.

THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN FINDING INSUFFICIENT Respondent fails to convince this Court.
EVIDENCE TO PROVE THAT THE AMOUNT OF US$25,000.00 WAS A
LOAN OBTAINED BY PRIVATE RESPONDENT AND HIS WIFE FROM
All the checks presented by respondent, which he claims to be his share in the profits
PETITIONER.
of petitioner’s company, were all in the account of H.L. Carlos Construction.17 On the
other hand, the Banker’s Trust Check in the amount of US$25,000.00 was drawn from
THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN HOLDING THAT THE the personal account of petitioner.18 Assuming to be true that the checks presented by
US$25,000.00 WAS GIVEN AS PRIVATE RESPONDENT’S SHARE IN respondent were his profits from the corporation, then all the more does this prove
THE PROFITS OF H.L. CARLOS CONSTRUCTION, INC. AND THAT THE that the amount of US$25,000.00 was not part of such profits because it was issued
FILING OF THE COMPLAINT IS A HOAX. by petitioner from his own account. Indeed, if such amount was respondent’s share of
the profits, then the same should have been issued under the account of H.L. Carlos
Construction.
THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN NULLIFYING THE AWARD OF
DAMAGES FOR LACK OF PROOF THEREOF.
Moreover, respondent failed to substantiate his claim that he is entitled to the profits
and income of the corporation. There was no showing that respondent was a
We find merit in the petition. stockholder of H.L. Carlos Construction. His name does not appear in the Articles of
Incorporation as well as the Organizational Profile of said company either as
As gleaned from the records, the following facts are undisputed: (1) there was a check stockholder or officer.19 Not being a stockholder, he cannot be entitled to the profits or
in the amount of US$25,000.00 issued by petitioner; (2) this amount was received by income of said corporation. Neither did respondent prove that he was an employee or
respondent and his wife and given to a certain Pura Vallejo for the full payment of a an agent so as to be entitled to salaries or commissions from the corporation.
house and lot located at #19952 Chestnut Street, Executive Heights Village,
Paranaque, Metro Manila; (3) this house and lot became the conjugal dwelling of We quote with favor the disquisition of the trial court on this point:
Early in time, it must be noted that payment of personal debts contracted by The loan is the liability of the conjugal partnership pursuant to Article 121 of the Family
the husband or the wife before or during the marriage shall not be charged Code:
to the conjugal partnership except insofar as they redounded to the benefit
of the family. The defendants never denied that the check of US$25,000.00
Article 121. The conjugal partnership shall be liable for:
was used to purchase the subject house and lot. They do not deny that the
same served as their conjugal home, thus benefiting the family. On the
same principle, acknowledgment of the loan made by the defendant-wife xxx
binds the conjugal partnership since its proceeds redounded to the benefit
of the family. Hence, defendant-husband and defendant-wife are jointly and
(2) All debts and obligations contracted during the marriage by the
severally liable in the payment of the loan.
designated administrator-spouse for the benefit of the conjugal partnership
of gains, or by both spouses or by one of them with the consent of the other;
Defendant-husband cannot allege as a defense that the amount of US
$25,000.00 was received as his share in the income or profits of the
(3) Debts and obligations contracted by either spouse without the consent of
corporation and not as a loan. Firstly, defendant-husband does not appear
the other to the extent that the family may have been benefited;
to be a stockholder nor an employee nor an agent of the corporation, H. L.
Carlos Construction, Inc. Since he is not a stockholder, he has no right to
participate in the income or profits thereof. In the same manner that as he is If the conjugal partnership is insufficient to cover the foregoing liabilities, the
not an employee nor an agent of H. L. Carlos Construction, Inc., he has no spouses shall be solidarily liable for the unpaid balance with their separate
right to receive any salary or commission therefrom. Secondly, the amount properties.
advanced for the purchase of the house and lot came from the personal
account of the plaintiff. If, indeed, it was to be construed as defendant-
husband’s share in the profits of the corporation, the checks should come xxx
from the corporation’s account and not from the plaintiff’s personal account,
considering that the corporation has a personality separate and distinct from While respondent did not and refused to sign the acknowledgment executed and
that of its stockholders and officers.1âwphi1.nêt signed by his wife, undoubtedly, the loan redounded to the benefit of the family
because it was used to purchase the house and lot which became the conjugal home
Even granting that the checks amount to US $3,000.000.00 given by the of respondent and his family. Hence, notwithstanding the alleged lack of consent of
plaintiff to the defendant-spouses was their share in the profits of the respondent, under Art. 21 of the Family Code, he shall be solidarily liable for such loan
corporation, still there is no sufficient evidence to establish that the US together with his wife.
$25,000.00 is to be treated similarly. Defendant-husband in invoking the
defense of compensation argued that if indeed they were indebted to the We also find sufficient basis for the award of damages to petitioner, contrary to the
plaintiff, the latter could have applied their share in the proceeds or income findings of the Court of Appeals that petitioner is not entitled thereto.
of the corporation to the concurrent amount of the alleged loan, instead of
giving the amount of P3,000,000.00 to them. This argument is untenable.
Article 1278 of the Civil Code provides that compensation shall take place Petitioner’s allegations of verbal and written threats directed against him by
when two persons, in their own right, are debtors and creditors of each respondent is duly supported by evidence on record. He presented two witnesses,
other. As its indicates, compensation is a sort of balancing between two Irineo Pajarin and Randy Rosal, who testified on separate incidents where threats
obligations. In the instant case, the plaintiff and the defendant-husband are were made by respondent against petitioner.
not debtors and creditors of each other. Even granting that the defendant-
husband’s claim to the profits of the corporation is justified, still Randy Rosal, driver of petitioner, declared that around three o’ clock in the afternoon
compensation cannot extinguish his loan obligation to the plaintiff because of September 15, 1991, he was sent by respondent’s wife on an errand to deliver the
under such assumption, the defendant is dealing with the corporation and acknowledgment letter to respondent for him to sign. Respondent did not sign the
not with the plaintiff in his personal capacity. Hence, compensation cannot acknowledgment and instead, wrote a letter addressed to petitioner threatening him.
take place. He narrated what took place thereafter:

The Court of Appeals, thus, erred in finding that respondent’s liability was not proved xxx
by preponderance of evidence. On the contrary, the evidence adduced by petitioner
sufficiently established his claim that the US$25,000.00 he advanced to respondent
and his wife was a loan.
Q When you were requested by Ma. Theresa C. Abelardo to bring a xxx
letter to herein defendant Manuel Abelardo for him to sign the same, do you
know whether that letter was actually signed by Manuel Abelardo?
Q After preparing this letter on a Manila envelope and then getting
another envelope and writing on it the address of herein plaintiff, what did
A No, sir. the defendant Manuel Abelardo do, if any?

xxx A He instructed me to mail the letter which he prepared, sir.

Q And what happened when Manuel Abelardo refused to sign that letter xxx
coming from the other defendant?
Q And did you actually accede to the request of herein defendant
A He made me wait and he prepared a letter to Mr. Honorio Carlos, sir. Manuel Abelardo for you to mail that letter to Engr. Carlos?

xxx A I got the envelope but I did not mail it, sir.

Q Where were you at the time when this defendant Manuel Abelardo xxx
prepared this letter?
Q May we know from you the reason why you did not mail said letter?
A In his house, sir.
A Because Engr. Carlos might become frightened, sir.
Q And where did he actually prepare that letter?
Q What did you do with that letter, although you did not mail it?
A At the dining table, sir.
A I kept it, sir.
Q How far were you from Manuel Abelardo from the dining table at the
time when he was preparing a letter.
xxx

A Around 1 meter, sir.


Q And what did you do next after keeping the letter for several days?

Q And do you know where in, what particular paper did Mr. Abelardo
A I gave the letter personally to Engr. Carlos, sir.
prepare or write this letter?

Q What prompted you to give that letter to Engr. Carlos instead of


A He wrote it in a Manila envelope, sir.
mailing it?

xxx
A So that Engr. Carlos can prepare, sir.

Q What happened after Manuel Abelardo prepared this letter in a Manila


x x x20
envelope?

This incident was duly entered and recorded in the Police Blotter on October 7, 1991
A He got a small envelope and placed there the name of Mr. Carlos as
by a certain Sgt. Casile of the Valenzuela Police Station.21 A photocopy of this written
the addressee, sir.
threat was also attached to the Police Report and presented in evidence.22
Another witness, Irineo Pajarin, recounted an incident which occurred in the afternoon A He said I may be fooling him because he said I once fooled him when
of May 25, 1994, to wit: I ran away with his children which he is going to take back, sir.

xxx Q And what was your reply to that?

Q Now Mr. Witness, on May 25, 1994 at around 2:30 in the afternoon do A I answered I did not do that and he said that once he discovered that I
you recall where you were on that particular date and time? did it he would box me, sir.

A I was at B.F. Homes, Paranaque, sir. Q What else if any did he tell you at that time?

Q What were you doing at that time? A He asked me who instructed me, sir.

A I was waiting for Sargie Cornista, sir. Q Instructed you about what?

xxx A To run away with the children, sir.

Q Will you please narrate to this Honorable Court that unusual incident? Q And what was your reply?

A Manuel Abelardo passed by and when he saw me he called me. I A None, he was the one who said "was it your Ate Puppet?" But I did
approached him while he was then on board his car and asked me who was not answer, sir.
my companion, sir.
Q What happened next when you failed to answer?
Q And what was your answer to him?
A "Or my father in law?"
A I told him it was Sargie, sir.
Q And when he said his father in law to whom was he referring at that
Q And what was his reply if any? time?

A He again asked me if I have in my company one of his children, sir. A Mr. Honorio Carlos, sir.

Q What was your reply? Q After mentioning the name of his father-in-law Mr. Honorio Carlos
what happened next?
A I answered none, sir.
A He told me "Sabihin mo sa biyenan ko babarilin ko siya pag nakita ko
siya."
Q Incidentally Mr. Witness, where or in what particular place did this
conversation between you and Manuel T. Abelardo take place?
Q Where was Manuel Abelardo at that particular time when he told this
threatening remark against Honorio Carlos?
A Parking Area of Academy I, Gov. Santos corner Aguirre St., sir.

A He was inside his car in Aguirre St., sir.


Q Now, what else happened after you talk[ed] with this Manuel T.
Abelardo?
Q How about you where were you approximately at that particular time
when he narrated that message to you threatening the herein plaintiff?

A I was outside looking in his vehicle at Aguirre St., sir.

xxx

Q And what was your reply or reaction when he made this threatening
remarks? Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
A None, because he left. I was left behind, sir.23

SECOND DIVISION
This testimony was in part corroborated by an entry dated May 28, 1994 in the Police
Blotter of the Paranaque Police Station narrating the aforementioned incident.24

The testimonies of these witnesses on the two separate incidents of threat are
positive, direct and straightforward. Petitioner also declared on the witness stand that G.R. No. 136803 June 16, 2000
on several occasions, he received telephone calls from respondent cursing and
threatening him.25 These incidents of threat were also evidenced by a letter written by EUSTAQUIO MALLILIN, JR., petitioner,
respondent’s wife and addressed to her father-in-law (father of respondent).26 The vs.
letter recounted the instances when threats were made by her husband against MA. ELVIRA CASTILLO, respondent.
petitioner, particularly, the incident reported by Pajarin and the threats made by
respondent through the telephone.27

All these circumstances sufficiently establish that threats were directed by respondent
against petitioner justifying the award of moral damages in favor of petitioner. MENDOZA, J.:
However, the Court finds the amount of P500,000.00 as moral damages too exorbitant
under the circumstances and the same is reduced to P50,000.00. The exemplary This is a petition for review of the amended decision 1 of the Court of Appeals dated
damages and attorney’s fees are likewise reduced to P20,000.00 andP50,000.00, May 7, 1998 in CA G.R. CV No. 48443 granting respondent's motion for
respectively. reconsideration of its decision dated November 7, 1996, and of the resolution dated
December 21, 1998 denying petitioner's motion for reconsideration.
WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby GRANTED and the decision of the Court of
Appeals in CA GR-CV No. 54464 is MODIFIED in that respondent is ordered to pay The factual and procedural antecedents are as follows:
petitioner the amounts of (1) US$25,000 or its equivalent in Philippine currency at the
time of payment, plus legal interest from August 4, 1994, until fully paid;
(2) P50,000.00 as moral damages; (3) P20,000.00 as exemplary damages; and On February 24, 1993, petitioner Eustaquio Mallilin, Jr. filed a
(4)P50,000.00 as attorney’s fees.1âwphi1.nêt complaint 2 for "Partition and/or Payment of Co-Ownership Share, Accounting and
Damages" against respondent Ma. Elvira Castillo. The complaint, docketed as Civil
Case No. 93-656 at the Regional Trial Court in Makati City, alleged that petitioner and
SO ORDERED. respondent, both married and with children, but separated from their respective
spouses, cohabited after a brief courtship sometime in 1979 while their respective
marriages still subsisted. During their union, they set up the Superfreight Customs
Brokerage Corporation, with petitioner as president and chairman of the board of
directors, and respondent as vice-president and treasurer. The business flourished
and petitioner and respondent acquired real and personal properties which were
registered solely in respondent's name. In 1992, due to irreconcilable differences, the
couple separated. Petitioner demanded from respondent his share in the subject marriage. Thus, the question of fact being raised by petitioner, i.e., whether they lived
properties, but respondent refused alleging that said properties had been registered together as husband and wife, was irrelevant as no co-ownership could exist between
solely in her name.1âwphi1.nêt them.

In her Amended Answer, 3 respondent admitted that she engaged in the customs As to the second issue, respondent maintained that petitioner cannot be considered
brokerage business with petitioner but alleged that the Superfreight Customs an unregistered co-owner of the subject properties on the ground that, since titles to
Brokerage Corporation was organized with other individuals and duly registered with the land are solely in her name, to grant petitioner's prayer would be to allow a
the Securities and Exchange Commission in 1987. She denied that she and petitioner collateral attack on the validity of such titles.
lived as husband and wife because the fact was that they were still legally married to
their respective spouses. She claimed to be the exclusive owner of all real personal
Petitioner opposed respondent's Motion for Summary Judgment. 8 He contended that
properties involved in petitioner's action for partition on the ground that they were
the case presented genuine factual issues and that Art. 144 of the Civil Code had
acquired entirely out of her own money and registered solely in her name.
been repealed by the Family Code which now allows, under Art. 148, a limited co-
ownership even though a man and a woman living together are not capacitated to
On November 25, 1994, respondent filed a Motion for Summary marry each other. Petitioner also asserted that an implied trust was constituted when
Judgment, 4 in accordance with Rule 34 of the Rules of Court. 5 She contended that he and respondent agreed to register the properties solely in the latter's name
summary judgment was proper, because the issues raised in the pleadings were although the same were acquired out of the profits made from their brokerage
sham and not genuine, to wit: business. Petitioner invoked the following provisions of the Civil Code:

A. Art. 1452. If two or more persons agree to purchase property and


by common consent the legal title is taken in the name of one of
them for the benefit of all, a trust is created by force of law in favor
The main issue is — Can plaintiff validly claim the partition and/or
of the others in proportion to the interest of each.
payment of co-ownership share, accounting and damages,
considering that plaintiff and defendant are admittedly both
married to their respective spouses under still valid and subsisting Art. 1453. When the property is conveyed to a person in reliance
marriages, even assuming as claimed by plaintiff, that they lived upon his declared intention to hold it for, or transfer it to another
together as husband and wife without benefit of marriage? In grantor, there is an implied trust in favor of the person whose
other words, can the parties be considered as co-owners of the benefit is contemplated.
properties, under the law, considering the present status of the
parties as both married and incapable of marrying each other,
On January 30, 1995, the trial court rendered its decision 9 granting respondent's
even assuming that they lived together as husband and wife (?)
motion for summary judgment. It ruled that an examination of the pleadings shows
that the issues involved were purely legal. The trial court also sustained respondent's
B. contention that petitioner's action for partition amounted to a collateral attack on the
validity of the certificates of title covering the subject properties. It held that even if the
parties really had cohabited, the action for partition could not be allowed because an
As a collateral issue, can the plaintiff be considered as an
action for partition among co-owners ceases to be so and becomes one for title if the
unregistered co-owner of the real properties under the Transfer
defendant, as in the present case, alleges exclusive ownership of the properties in
Certificates of Title duly registered solely in the name of
question. For these reasons, the trial court dismissed Civil Case No. 93-656.
defendant Ma. Elvira Castillo? This issue is also true as far as the
motor vehicles in question are concerned which are also
registered in the name of defendant. 6 On appeals, the Court of Appeals on November 7, 1996, ordered the case remanded
to the court of origin for trial on the merits. It cited the decision in Roque
v. Intermediate Appellate Court 10 to the effect that an action for partition is at once an
On the first point, respondent contended that even if she and petitioner actually
action for declaration of co-ownership and for segregation and conveyance of a
cohabited, petitioner could not validly claim a part of the subject real and personal
determinate portion of the properties involved. If the defendant asserts exclusive title
properties because Art. 144 of the Civil Code, which provides that the rules on co-
over the property, the action for partition should not be dismissed. Rather, the court
ownership shall govern the properties acquired by a man and a woman living together
should resolve the case and if the plaintiff is unable to sustain his claimed status as a
as husband and wife but not married, or under a marriage which is void ab initio,
co-owner, the court should dismiss the action, not because the wrong remedy was
applies only if the parties are not in any way incapacitated to contract marriage. 7 In
availed of, but because no basis exists for requiring the defendant to submit to
the parties' case, their union suffered the legal impediment of a prior subsisting
partition. Resolving the issue whether petitioner's action for partition was a collateral declaration, it is unavoidable that the individual titles involved be
attack on the validity of the certificates of title, the Court of Appeals held that since altered, changed, cancelled or modified to include therein the
petitioner sought to compel respondent to execute documents necessary to effect name of the appellee as a registered 1/2 co-owner. Yet, no cause
transfer of what he claimed was his share, petitioner was not actually attacking the of action or even a prayer is contained filed. Manifestly,absent
validity of the titles but in fact, recognized their validity. Finally, the appellate court any cause or prayer for the alteration, cancellation, modification
upheld petitioner's position that Art. 144 of the Civil Code had been repealed by Art. or changing of the titles involved, the desired declaration of co-
148 of the Family Code. ownership and eventual partition will utterly be an indirect or
collateral attack on the subject titled in this suit.
Respondent moved for reconsideration of the decision of Court of Appeals. On May 7,
1998, nearly two years after its first decision, the Court of Appeals granted It is here that We fell into error, such that, if not rectified will surely
respondent's motion and reconsidered its prior decision. In its decision now lead to a procedural lapse and a possible injustice. Well settled is
challenged in the present petition, it held — the rules that a certificate of title cannot be altered, modified or
cancelled except in a direct proceeding in accordance with law.
Prefatorily, and to better clarify the controversy on whether this
suit is a collateral attack on the titles in issue, it must be In this jurisdiction, the remedy of the landowner whose property
underscored that plaintiff-appellant alleged in his complaint that all has been wrongfully or erroneously registered in another name is,
the nine (9) titles are registered in the name of defendant- after one year from the date of the decree, not to set aside the
appellee, Ma. Elvira T. Castillo, except one which appears in the decree, but respecting it as incontrovertible and no longer open to
name of Eloisa Castillo (see par. 9, Complaint). However, a review, to bring an action for reconveyance or, if the property had
verification of the annexes of such initiatory pleading shows some passed into the hands of an innocent purchaser for value, for
discrepancies, to wit: damages. Verily, plaintiff-appellant should have first pursued such
remedy or any other relief directly attacking the subject titles
before instituting the present partition suit. Apropos, the case at
1. TCT No. 149046 (Annex A) = Elvira T. Castillo, single
bench appears to have been prematurely filed.

2. TCT No. 168208 (Annex B) = — do —


Lastly, to grant the partition prayed for by the appellant will in
effect rule and decide against the properties registered in the
3. TCT No. 37046 (Annex C) = — do — names of Steelhouse Realty and Development Corporation and
Eloisa Castillo, who are not parties in the case. To allow this to
happen will surely result to injustice and denial of due process of
4. TCT No. 37047 (Annex D) = — do — law. . . .11

5. TCT No. 37048 (Annex E) = — do — Petitioner moved for reconsideration but his motion was denied by the Court of
Appeals in its resolution dated December 21, 1998. Hence this petition.
6. TCT No. 30368 (Annex F) = Steelhaus Realty & Dev. Corp.
Petitioner contends that: (1) the Court of Appeals, in its first decision of November 7,
7. TCT No. 30369 (Annex G) = — do — 1996, was correct in applying the Roque ruling and in rejecting respondent's claim that
she was the sole owner of the subject properties and that the partition suit was a
collateral attack on the titles; (2) the Court of Appeals correctly rules in its first decision
8. TCT No. 30371 (Annex F) = — do — that Art. 148 of the Family Code governs the co-ownership between the parties,
hence, the complaint for partition is proper; (3) with respect to the properties
9. TCT No. (92323) 67881 (Annex I) = Eloisa Castillo registered in the name of Steelhouse Realty, respondent admitted ownership thereof
and, at the very least, these properties could simply be excluded and the partition
limited to the remaining real and personal properties; and (4) the Court of Appeals
In this action, plaintiff-appellant seeks to be declared as 1/2 co- erred in not holding that under the Civil Code, there is an implied trust in his favor. 12
owner of the real properties covered by the above listed titles and
eventually for their partition [par. (a), Prayer; p. 4 Records].
Notably, in order to achieve such prayer for a joint co-ownership
The issue in this case is really whether summary judgment, in accordance with Rule In cases of cohabitation not falling under the preceding
35 of the Rules of Court, is proper. We rule in the negative. article, 16 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
First. Rule 35, §3 of the Rules of Court provides that summary judgment is proper only
respective contributions. In the absence of proof to the contrary,
when, based on the pleadings, depositions, and admissions on file, and after
their contributions and corresponding shares are presumed to be
summary hearing, it is shown that except as to the amount of damages, there is no
equal. The same rule and presumption shall apply to joint
veritable issue regarding any material fact in the action and the movant is entitled to
deposits of money and evidences of credits.
judgment as a matter of law. 1 Conversely, where the pleadings tender a genuine
issue, i.e., an issue of fact the resolution of which calls for the presentation of
evidence, as distinguished from an issue which is sham, fictitious, contrived, set-up in If one of the parties is validly married to another, his or her share
bad faith, or patently unsubstantial, summary judgment is not proper. 14 in the co-ownership shall accrue to the absolute community or
conjugal partnership existing in such valid marriage. If the party
who acted in bad faith is not validly married to another, his or her
In the present case, we are convinced that genuine issues exist. Petitioner anchors
share shall be forfeited in the manner provided in the last
his claim of co-ownership on two factual grounds: first, that said properties were
paragraph of the preceding article.
acquired by him and respondent during their union from 1979 to 1992 from profits
derived from their brokerage business; and second, that said properties were
registered solely in respondent's name only because they agreed to that arrangement, The foregoing rules on forfeiture shall likewise apply even if both
thereby giving rise to an implied trust in accordance with Art. 1452 and Art. 1453 of parties are in bad faith.
the Civil Code. These allegations are denied by respondent. She denies that she and
petitioner lived together as husband and wife. She also claims that the properties in
It was error for the trial court to rule that, because the parties in this case were not
question were acquired solely by her with her own money and resources. With such
capacitated to marry each other at the time that they were alleged to have been living
conflicting positions, the only way to ascertain the truth is obviously through the
together, they could not have owned properties in common. The Family Code, in
presentation of evidence by the parties.
addition to providing that a co-ownership exists between a man and a woman who live
together as husband and wife without the benefit of marriage, likewise provides that, if
The trial court ruled that it is immaterial whether the parties actually lived together as the parties are incapacitated to marry each other, properties acquired by them through
husband and wife because Art. 144 of the Civil Code can not be made to apply to their joint contribution of money, property or industry shall be owned by them in
them as they were both incapacitated to marry each other. Hence, it was impossible common in proportion to their contributions which, in the absence of proof to the
for a co-ownership to exist between them. contrary, is presumed to be equal. There is thus co-ownership eventhough the couple
are not capacitated to marry each other.
We disagree.
In this case, there may be a co-ownership between the parties herein. Consequently,
whether petitioner and respondent cohabited and whether the properties involved in
Art. 144 of the Civil Code provides:
the case are part of the alleged co-ownership are genuine and material. All but one of
the properties involved were alleged to have been acquired after the Family Code took
When a man and a woman live together as husband and wife, but effect on August 3, 1988. With respect to the property acquired before the Family
they are not married, or their marriage is void from the beginning, Code took effect if it is shown that it was really acquired under the regime of the Civil
the property acquired by either or both of them through their work Code, then it should be excluded.
or industry or their wages and salaries shall be governed by the
rules on co-ownership.
Petitioner also alleged in paragraph 7 of his complaint that:

This provision of the Civil Code, applies only to cases in which a man and a
Due to the effective management, hardwork and enterprise of
woman live together as husband and wife without the benefit of marriage
plaintiff assisted by defendant, their customs brokerage business
provided they are not incapacitated or are without impediment to marry
grew and out of the profits therefrom, the parties acquired real
each other, 15 or in which the marriage is void ab initio, provided it is not
and personal properties which were, upon agreement of the
bigamous. Art. 144, therefore, does not cover parties living in an adulterous
parties, listed and registered in defendant's name with plaintiff as
relationship. However, Art. 148 of the Family Code now provides for a
the unregistered co-owner of all said properties. 17
limited co-ownership in cases where the parties in union are incapacitated
to marry each other. It states:
On the basis of this, he contends that an implied trust existed pursuant to Art. 1452 of Third. The Court of Appeals also reversed its first decision on the ground that to order
the Civil Code which provides that "(I)f two or more persons agree to purchase partition will, in effect, rule and decide against Steelhouse Realty Development
property and by common consent the legal title is taken in the name of one of them for Corporation and Eloisa Castillo, both strangers to the present case, as to the
the benefit of all, a trust is created by force of law in favor of the others in proportion to properties registered in their names. This reasoning, however, ignores the fact that the
the interest of each." We do not think this is correct. The legal relation of the parties is majority of the properties involved in the present case are registered in respondent's
already specifically covered by Art. 148 of the Family Code under which all the name, over which petitioner claims rights as a co-owner. Besides, other than the real
properties acquired by the parties out of their actual joint contributions of money, properties, petitioner also seeks partition of a substantial amount of personal
property or industry shall constitute a co-ownership. Co-ownership is a form of trust properties consisting of motor vehicles and several pieces of jewelry. By dismissing
and every co-owner is a trustee for the other. 18 The provisions of Art. 1452 and Art. petitioner's complaint for partition on grounds of due process and equity, the appellate
1453 of the Civil Code, then are no longer material since a trust relation already court unwittingly denied petitioner his right to prove ownership over the claimed real
inheres in a co-ownership which is governed under Title III, Book II of the Civil Code. and personal properties. The dismissal of petitioner's complaint is unjustified since
both ends may be amply served by simply excluding from the action for partition the
properties registered in the name of Steelhouse Realty and Eloisa Castillo.
Second. The trial court likewise dismissed petitioner's action on the ground that the
same amounted to a collateral attack on the certificates of title involved. As already
noted, at first, the Court of Appeals ruled that petitioner's action does not challenge WHEREFORE, the amended decision of the Court of Appeals, dated May 7, 1998, is
the validity of respondent's titles. However, on reconsideration, it reversed itself and REVERSED and the case is REMANDED to the Regional Trial Court, Branch 59,
affirmed the trial court. It noted that petitioner's complaint failed to include a prayer for Makati City for further proceedings on the merits.
the alteration, cancellation, modification, or changing of the titles involved. Absent
such prayer, the appellate court ruled that a declaration of co-ownership and eventual
SO ORDERED.1âwphi1.nêt
partition would involve an indirect or collateral attack on the titles. We disagree.

A torrens title, as a rule, is conclusive and indefeasible. Proceeding from this, P.D. No.
1529, 19 §48 provides that a certificate of title shall not be subject to collateral attack
and can not be altered, modified, or canceled except in a direct proceeding. When is Republic of the Philippines
an action an attack on a title? It is when the object of the action or proceeding is to SUPREME COURT
nullify the title, and thus challenge the judgment pursuant to which the title was Manila
decreed. The attack is direct when the object of an action or proceeding is to annul or
set aside such judgment, or enjoin its enforcement. On the other hand, the attack is
indirect or collateral when, in an action to obtain a different relief, an attack on the FIRST DIVISION
judgment is nevertheless made as an incident thereof. 20

In his complaint for partition, consistent with our ruling in Roque regarding the nature
of an action for partition, petitioner seeks first, a declaration that he is a co-owner of G.R. No. 122749 July 31, 1996
the subject properties; and second, the conveyance of his lawful shares. He does not
attack respondent's titles. Petitioner alleges no fraud, mistake, or any other irregularity
that would justify a review of the registration decree in respondent's favor. His theory ANTONIO A. S. VALDEZ, petitioner,
is that although the subject properties were registered solely in respondent's name, vs.
but since by agreement between them as well as under the Family Code, he is co- REGIONAL TRIAL COURT, BRANCH 102, QUEZON CITY, and CONSUELO M.
owner of these properties and as such is entitled to the conveyance of his shares. On GOMEZ-VALDEZ, respondents.
the premise that he is a co-owner, he can validly seek the partition of the properties in
co-ownership and the conveyance to him of his share.

Thus, in Guevara v. Guevara, 21 in which a parcel of land bequeathed in a last will and VITUG, J.:p
testament was registered in the name of only one of the heirs, with the understanding
that he would deliver to the others their shares after the debts of the original owner
had been paid, this Court ruled that notwithstanding the registration of the land in the The petition for new bewails, purely on the question of law, an alleged error committed
name of only one of the heirs, the other heirs can claim their shares in "such action, by the Regional Trial Court in Civil Case No. Q-92-12539. Petitioner avers that the
judicial or extrajudicial, as may be necessary to partition the estate of the testator." 22 court a quo has failed to apply the correct law that should govern the disposition of a
family dwelling in a situation where a marriage is declared void ab initio because of Consequently, considering that Article 147 of the Family Code explicitly
psychological incapacity on the part of either or both parties in the contract. provides that the property acquired by both parties during their union, in the
absence of proof to the contrary, are presumed to have been obtained
through the joint efforts of the parties and will be owned by them in equal
The pertinent facts giving rise to this incident are, by large, not in dispute.
shares, plaintiff and defendant will own their "family home" and all their
properties for that matter in equal shares.
Antonio Valdez and Consuelo Gomez were married on 05 January 1971. Begotten
during the marriage were five children. In a petition, dated 22 June 1992, Valdez
In the liquidation and partition of properties owned in common by the
sought the declaration of nullity of the marriage pursuant to Article 36 of the Family
plaintiff and defendant, the provisions on ownership found in the Civil Code
code (docketed Civil Case No. Q-92-12539, Regional Trial Court of Quezon City,
shall apply. 3 (Emphasis supplied.)
Branch 102). After the hearing the parties following the joinder of issues, the trial
court, 1 in its decision of 29 July 1994, granted the petition, viz:
In addressing specifically the issue regarding the disposition of the family dwelling, the
trial court said:
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered as follows:

Considering that this Court has already declared the marriage between
(1) The marriage of petitioner Antonio Valdez and respondent Consuelo
petitioner and respondent as null and void ab initio, pursuant to Art. 147, the
Gomez-Valdez is hereby declared null and void under Article 36 of the
property regime of petitioner and respondent shall be governed by the rules
Family Code on the ground of their mutual psychological incapacity to
on ownership.
comply with their essential marital obligations;

The provisions of Articles 102 and 129 of the Family Code finds no
(2) The three older children, Carlos Enrique III, Antonio Quintin and Angela
application since Article 102 refers to the procedure for the liquidation of
Rosario shall choose which parent they would want to stay with.
the conjugal partnership property and Article 129 refers to the procedure for
the liquidation of the absolute community of property. 4
Stella Eloisa and Joaquin Pedro shall be placed in the custody of their
mother, herein respondent Consuelo Gomez-Valdes.
Petitioner moved for a reconsideration of the order. The motion was denied on 30
October 1995.
The petitioner and respondent shall have visitation rights over the children
who are in the custody of the other.
In his recourse to this Court, petitioner submits that Articles 50, 51 and 52 of the
Family Code should be held controlling: he argues that:
(3) The petitioner and the respondent are directed to start proceedings on
the liquidation of their common properties as defined by Article 147 of the
I
Family Code, and to comply with the provisions of Articles 50, 51, and 52 of
the same code, within thirty (30) days from notice of this decision.
Article 147 of the Family Code does not apply to cases where the parties
are psychologically incapacitated.
Let a copy of this decision be furnished the Local Civil Registrar of
Mandaluyong, Metro Manila, for proper recording in the registry of
marriages. 2 (Emphasis ours.) II

Consuelo Gomez sought a clarification of that portion of the decision directing Articles 50, 51 and 52 in relation to Articles 102 and 129 of the Family Code
compliance with Articles 50, 51 and 52 of the Family Code. She asserted that the govern the disposition of the family dwelling in cases where a marriage is
Family Code contained no provisions on the procedure for the liquidation of common declared void ab initio, including a marriage declared void by reason of the
property in "unions without marriage." Parenthetically, during the hearing of the psychological incapacity of the spouses.
motion, the children filed a joint affidavit expressing their desire to remain with their
father, Antonio Valdez, herein petitioner.
III

In an order, dated 05 May 1995, the trial court made the following clarification:
Assuming arguendo that Article 147 applies to marriages declared void ab to contract marriage, i.e., any "male or female of the age of eighteen years or upwards
initio on the ground of the psychological incapacity of a spouse, the same not under any of the impediments mentioned in Articles 37 and 38" 7 of the Code.
may be read consistently with Article 129.
Under this property regime, property acquired by both spouses through their work and
IV industry shall be governed by the rules on equal co-ownership. Any property acquired
during the union is prima facie presumed to have been obtained through their joint
efforts. A party who did not participate in the acquisition of the property shall be
It is necessary to determine the parent with whom majority of the children
considered as having contributed thereto jointly if said party's "efforts consisted in the
wish to stay. 5
care and maintenance of the family household." 8 Unlike the conjugal partnership of
gains, the fruits of the couple's separate property are not included in the co-ownership.
The trial court correctly applied the law. In a void marriage, regardless of the cause
thereof, the property relations of the parties during the period of cohabitation is
Article 147 of the Family Code, in the substance and to the above extent, has clarified
governed by the provisions of Article 147 or Article 148, such as the case may be, of
Article 144 of the Civil Code; in addition, the law now expressly provides that —
the Family Code. Article 147 is a remake of Article 144 of the Civil Code as interpreted
and so applied in previous cases; 6 it provides:
(a) Neither party can dispose or encumber by act intervivos his or her share in co-
ownership property, without consent of the other, during the period of cohabitation;
Art. 147. When a man and a woman who are capacitated to marry each
and
other, live exclusively with each other as husband and wife without the
benefit of marriage or under a void marriage, their wages and salaries shall
be owned by them in equal shares and the property acquired by both of (b) In the case of a void marriage, any party in bad faith shall forfeit his or her share in
them through their work or industry shall be governed by the rules on co- the co-ownership in favor of their common children; in default thereof or waiver by any
ownership. or all of the common children, each vacant share shall belong to the respective
surviving descendants, or still in default thereof, to the innocent party. The forfeiture
shall take place upon the termination of the cohabitation 9 or declaration of nullity of
In the absence of proof to the contrary, properties acquired while they lived
the marriage. 10
together shall be presumed to have been obtained by their joint efforts, work
or industry, and shall be owned by them in equal shares. For purposes of
this Article, a party who did not participate in the acquisition by the other When the common-law spouses suffer from a legal impediment to marry or when they
party of any property shall be deemed to have contributed jointly in the do not live exclusively with each other (as husband and wife), only the property
acquisition thereof in the former's efforts consisted in the care and acquired by both of them through their actual joint contribution of money, property or
maintenance of the family and of the household. industry shall be owned in common and in proportion to their respective contributions.
Such contributions and corresponding shares, however, are prima facie presumed to
be equal. The share of any party who is married to another shall accrue to the
Neither party can encumber or dispose by acts inter vivos of his or her
absolute community or conjugal partnership, as the case may be, if so existing under
share in the property acquired during cohabitation and owned in common,
a valid marriage. If the party who has acted in bad faith is not validly married to
without the consent of the other, until after the termination of their
another, his or her share shall be forfeited in the manner already heretofore
cohabitation.
expressed. 11

When only one of the parties to a void marriage is in good faith, the share of
In deciding to take further cognizance of the issue on the settlement of the parties'
the party in bad faith in the ownership shall be forfeited in favor of their
common property, the trial court acted neither imprudently nor precipitately; a court
common children. In case of default of or waiver by any or all of the
which has jurisdiction to declare the marriage a nullity must be deemed likewise
common children or their descendants, each vacant share shall belong to
clothed in authority to resolve incidental and consequential matters. Nor did it commit
the innocent party. In all cases, the forfeiture shall take place upon the
a reversible error in ruling that petitioner and private respondent own the "family
termination of the cohabitation.
home" and all their common property in equal shares, as well as in concluding that, in
the liquidation and partition of the property owned in common by them, the provisions
This particular kind of co-ownership applies when a man and a woman, suffering no on co-ownership under the Civil Code, not Articles 50, 51 and 52, in relation to Articles
illegal impediment to marry each other, so exclusively live together as husband and 102 and 129, 12 of the Family Code, should aptly prevail. The rules set up to govern
wife under a void marriage or without the benefit of marriage. The term "capacitated" the liquidation of either the absolute community or the conjugal partnership of gains,
in the provision (in the first paragraph of the law) refers to the legal capacity of a party the property regimes recognized for valid and voidable marriages (in the latter case
until the contract is annulled), are irrelevant to the liquidation of the co-ownership that CALLEJO, SR., J.:
exists between common-law spouses. The first paragraph of Articles 50 of the Family
Code, applying paragraphs (2), (3), (4) and 95) of Article 43, 13 relates only, by its
Before us is a petition for review on certiorari of the Decision1 of the Court of Appeals
explicit terms, to voidable marriages and, exceptionally, to void marriages under
(CA) in CA-G.R. No. CV No. 59045, which reversed and set aside the Decision2 of the
Article 40 14 of the Code, i.e., the declaration of nullity of a subsequent marriage
Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Parañaque, Metro Manila, Branch 260, in Civil Case No.
contracted by a spouse of a prior void marriage before the latter is judicially declared
94-2260 and the Resolution of the CA denying the petitioner’s motion for
void. The latter is a special rule that somehow recognizes the philosophy and an old
reconsideration of the said decision.
doctrine that void marriages are inexistent from the very beginning and no judicial
decree is necessary to establish their nullity. In now requiring for purposes of
remarriage, the declaration of nullity by final judgment of the previously contracted Josefina Castillo was only 24 years old when she and Eduardo G. Francisco were
void marriage, the present law aims to do away with any continuing uncertainty on the married on January 15, 1983.3 Eduardo was then employed as the vice president in a
status of the second marriage. It is not then illogical for the provisions of Article 43, in private corporation. A little more than a year and seven months thereafter, or on
relation to Articles 41 15 and 42, 16 of the Family Code, on the effects of the termination August 31, 1984, the Imus Rural Bank, Inc. (Imus Bank) executed a deed of absolute
of a subsequent marriage contracted during the subsistence of a previous marriage to sale for P320,000.00 in favor of Josefina Castillo Francisco, married to Eduardo
be made applicable pro hac vice. In all other cases, it is not to be assumed that the Francisco, covering two parcels of residential land with a house thereon located at St.
law has also meant to have coincident property relations, on the one hand, between Martin de Porres Street, San Antonio Valley I, Sucat, Parañaque, Metro Manila. One
spouses in valid and voidable marriages (before annulment) and, on the other, of the lots was covered by Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. 36519, with an area
between common-law spouses or spouses of void marriages, leaving to ordain, on the of 342 square meters, while the other lot, with an area of 360 square meters, was
latter case, the ordinary rules on co-ownership subject to the provisions of the Family covered by TCT No. 36518.4 The purchase price of the property was paid to the Bank
Code on the "family home," i.e., the provisions found in Title V, Chapter 2, of the via Check No. 002334 in the amount of P320,000.00 drawn and issued by the
Family Code, remain in force and effect regardless of the property regime of the Commercial Bank of Manila, for which the Imus Bank issued Official Receipt No.
spouses. 121408 on August 31, 1984.5 On the basis of the said deed of sale, TCT Nos. 36518
and 36519 were cancelled and, on September 4, 1984, the Register of Deeds issued
TCT Nos. 87976 (60550) and 87977 (60551) in the name of "Josefina Castillo
WHEREFORE, the questioned orders, dated 05 May 1995 and 30 October 1995, of
Francisco married to Eduardo G. Francisco."6
the trial court are AFFIRMED. No costs.

On February 15, 1985, the Register of Deeds made of record Entry No. 85-18003 at
the dorsal portion of the said titles. This referred to an Affidavit of Waiver executed by
Eduardo where he declared that before his marriage to Josefina, the latter purchased
two parcels of land, including the house constructed thereon, with her own savings,
and that he was waiving whatever claims he had over the property.7 On January 13,
1986, Josefina mortgaged the said property to Leonila Cando for a loan
of P157,000.00.8 It appears that Eduardo affixed his marital conformity to the deed.9
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT On June 11, 1990, Eduardo, who was then the General Manager and President of
Manila Reach Out Trading International, bought 7,500 bags of cement worth P768,750.00
from Master Iron Works & Construction Corporation (MIWCC) but failed to pay for the
same. On November 27, 1990, MIWCC filed a complaint against him in the RTC of
SECOND DIVISION Makati City for the return of the said commodities, or the value thereof in the amount
of P768,750.00. The case was docketed as Civil Case No. 90-3251. On January 8,
G.R. No. 151967 February 16, 2005 1992, the trial court rendered judgment in favor of MIWCC and against Eduardo. The
fallo of the decision reads:
JOSEFINA C. FRANCISCO, petitioner,
vs. Accordingly, the Court renders judgment in favor of the plaintiff Master Iron Works And
MASTER IRON WORKS & CONSTRUCTION CORPORATION and ROBERTO V. Construction Corporation against the defendant [Eduardo] Francisco ordering the
ALEJO, Sheriff IV, Regional Trial Court of Makati City, Branch 142, respondents. latter as follows:

DECISION
1. To replace to plaintiff 7,500 bags at 50 kilos/bag of Portland cement or, in property at public auction to MIWCC forP1,350,000.00 on August 5, 1994.18 However,
the alternative, to pay the plaintiff the amount ofP768,750.00; upon the failure of MIWCC to remit the sheriff’s commission on the sale, the latter did
not execute a sheriff’s certificate of sale over the property. The RTC of Parañaque,
thereafter, issued a temporary restraining order19 on August 16, 1994.
2. In either case, to pay liquidated damages by way of interest at 12% per
annum from June 21, 1990 until fully paid;
When Josefina learned of the said sale at public auction, she filed an amended
complaint impleading MIWCC, with the following prayer:
3. To pay P50,000.00 as actual damages; and

WHEREFORE, premises considered, it is most respectfully prayed to this Honorable


4. To pay attorney’s fees of P153,750.00 and litigation expenses
Court that, after hearing, judgment be rendered in favor of the plaintiff and against the
of P20,000.00.
defendants and the same be in the following tenor:

SO ORDERED.10
1. Ordering the defendants, jointly and severally, to pay the plaintiff the
following amounts:
The decision in Civil Case No. 90-3251 became final and executory and, on June 7,
1994, the court issued a writ of execution.11 On June 14, 1994, Sheriff Roberto Alejo
A. The sum of P50,000.00 representing as actual damages;
sold at a public auction one stainless, owner-type jeep for P10,000.00 to
MIWCC.12 Sheriff Alejo issued a Notice of Levy on Execution/Attachment over the lots
covered by TCT No. 87976 (60550) and 87977 (60551) for the recovery of the B. The sum of P200,000.00 representing as moral damages;
balance of the amount due under the decision of the trial court in Civil Case No. 90-
3251.13 On June 24, 1994, the sale of the property at a public auction was set to
C. The sum of P50,000.00 or such amount which this Honorable
August 5, 1994.14
Court deems just as exemplary damages;

On July 3, 1994, Josefina executed an Affidavit of Third Party Claim15 over the two
D. The sum of P60,000.00 as and for attorney’s fees.
parcels of land in which she claimed that they were her paraphernal property, and that
her husband Eduardo had no proprietary right or interest over them as evidenced by
his affidavit of waiver, a copy of which she attached to her affidavit. She, likewise, 2. Declaring the levying and sale at public auction of the plaintiff’s properties
requested Sheriff Alejo to cause the cancellation of the notice of levy on null and void;
execution/attachment earlier issued by him.
3. To issue writ of preliminary injunction and makes it permanent;
On July 7, 1994, Josefina filed the said Affidavit of Third Party Claim in the trial court
and served a copy thereof to the sheriff. MIWCC then submitted an indemnity
4. Order the cancellation of whatever entries appearing at the titles as a
bond16 in the amount of P1,361,500.00 issued by the Prudential Guarantee and
result of the enforcement of the writ of execution issued in Civil Case No.
Assurance, Inc. The sale at public auction proceeded. MIWCC made a bid for the
90-3251.
property for the price of P1,350,000.00.17

Plaintiff further prays for such other reliefs as may be just under the premises.20
On July 28, 1994, Josefina filed a Complaint against MIWCC and Sheriff Alejo in the
RTC of Parañaque for damages with a prayer for a writ of preliminary injunction or
temporary restraining order, docketed as Civil Case No. 94-2260. She alleged then In its answer to the complaint, MIWCC cited Article 116 of the Family Code of the
that she was the sole owner of the property levied on execution by Sheriff Alejo in Civil Philippines and averred that the property was the conjugal property of Josefina and
Case No. 90-3251; hence, the levy on execution of the property was null and void. her husband Eduardo, who purchased the same on August 31, 1984 after their
She reiterated that her husband, the defendant in Civil Case No. 90-3251, had no right marriage on January 14, 1983. MIWCC asserted that Eduardo executed the affidavit
or proprietary interest over the said property as evidenced by his affidavit of waiver of waiver to evade the satisfaction of the decision in Civil Case No. 90-3251 and to
annotated at the dorsal portion of the said title. Josefina prayed that the court issue a place the property beyond the reach of creditors; hence, the said affidavit was null and
temporary restraining order/writ of preliminary injunction to enjoin MIWCC from void.
causing the sale of the said property at public auction. Considering that no temporary
restraining order had as yet been issued by the trial court, the sheriff sold the subject
Before she could commence presenting her evidence, Josefina filed a petition to annul a. The sum of P50,000.00 as actual damages;
her marriage to Eduardo in the RTC of Parañaque, Metro Manila, on the ground that
when they were married on January 15, 1983, Eduardo was already married to one
b. The sum of P50,000.00 representing as moral damages;
Carmelita Carpio. The case was docketed as Civil Case No. 95-0169.

c. The sum of P50,000.00 as exemplary damages;


Josefina and Carmelita testified in Civil Case No. 95-0169. Josefina declared that
during her marriage to Eduardo, she acquired the property covered by TCT Nos.
87976 (60550) and 87977 (60551), through the help of her sisters and brother, and d. The sum of P60,000.00 as and for attorney’s fees.
that Eduardo had no participation whatsoever in the said acquisition. She added that
Eduardo had five children, namely, Mary Jane, Dianne, Mary Grace Jo, Mark Joseph
The court orders the cancellation of whatever entries appearing at the Titles as a
and Mary Cecille, all surnamed Francisco.
result of the enforcement of the writ of execution issued in Civil Case No. 90-3251.

On September 9, 1996, the RTC of Parañaque rendered judgment21 in Civil Case No.
SO ORDERED.28
95-0169, declaring the marriage between Josefina and Eduardo as null and void for
being bigamous.
The trial court held that the property levied by Sheriff Alejo was the sole and exclusive
property of Josefina, applying Articles 144, 160, 175 and 485 of the New Civil Code.
In the meantime, Josefina testified in Civil Case No. 94-2260, declaring, inter alia, that
The trial court also held that MIWCC failed to prove that Eduardo Francisco
she was able to purchase the property from the Bank when she was still single with
contributed to the acquisition of the property.
her mother’s financial assistance; she was then engaged in recruitment when Eduardo
executed an affidavit of waiver; she learned that he was previously married when they
already had two children; nevertheless, she continued cohabiting with him and had MIWCC appealed the decision to the CA in which it alleged that:
three more children by him; and because of Eduardo’s first marriage, she decided to
have him execute the affidavit of waiver.
I. THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN RULING THAT THE REAL ESTATE PROPERTIES
SUBJECT OF THE AUCTION SALE ARE PARAPHERNAL PROPERTIES OWNED
Eduardo testified that when his wife bought the property in 1984, he was in Davao City BY PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE JOSEFINA FRANCISCO;
and had no knowledge of the said purchases; he came to know of the purchase only
when Josefina informed him a week after his arrival from Davao;22 Josefina’s sister,
Lolita Castillo, told him that she would collect from him the money his wife borrowed II. THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN ALLOWING THE RECEPTION OF REBUTTAL
from her and their mother to buy the property;23 when he told Lolita that he had no EVIDENCE WITH REGARD TO THE ANNULMENT OF PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE’S
money, she said that she would no longer collect from him, on the condition that he MARRIAGE WITH EDUARDO FRANCISCO;
would have no participation over the property,24which angered Eduardo;25 when
Josefina purchased the property, he had a gross monthly income of P10,000.00 and III. THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN RULING THAT THE LEVY ON EXECUTION OF
gave P5,000.00 to Josefina for the support of his family;26 Josefina decided that he PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE’S PROPERTIES SUBJECT OF THE PRESENT
execute the affidavit of waiver because her mother and sister gave the property to CONTROVERSY IS NULL AND VOID;
her.27
IV. THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN ORDERING DEFENDANT-APPELLANT TO PAY
On December 20, 1997, the trial court rendered judgment finding the levy on the DAMAGES TO PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE FOR ALLEGED IMPROPER LEVY ON
subject property and the sale thereof at public auction to be null and void. The fallo of EXECUTION.29
the decision reads:
The CA rendered judgment setting aside and reversing the decision of the RTC on
WHEREFORE, PREMISES CONSIDERED, THIS COURT finds the Levying and sale September 20, 2001. The fallo of the decision reads:
at public auction of the plaintiff’s properties null and void.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Decision, dated 20 December 1997, of the
The court orders the defendants to, jointly and severally, pay plaintiff the following Regional Trial Court of Parañaque, Branch 260, is
amounts: hereby REVERSED and SETASIDE and a new one entered dismissing Civil Case No.
94-0126.
SO ORDERED.30 The respondents, on the other hand, contend that the appellate court was correct in
ruling that the properties are conjugal in nature because there is nothing in the records
to support the petitioner’s uncorroborated claim that the funds she used to purchase
The CA ruled that the property was presumed to be the conjugal property of Eduardo
the subject properties were her personal funds or came from her mother and sister.
and Josefina, and that the latter failed to rebut such presumption. It also held that the
The respondents point out that if, as claimed by the petitioner, the subject properties
affidavit of waiver executed by Eduardo was contrary to Article 146 of the New Civil
were, indeed, not conjugal in nature, then, there was no need for her to obtain marital
Code and, as such, had no force and effect. Josefina filed a motion for reconsideration
(Eduardo’s) consent when she mortgaged the properties to two different parties
of the decision, which was, likewise, denied by the CA.
sometime in the first quarter of 1986, or after Eduardo executed the affidavit of waiver.

Josefina, now the petitioner, filed the present petition for review, alleging that:
We note that the only questions raised in this case are questions of facts. Under Rule
45 of the Rules of Court, only questions of law may be raised in and resolved by the
A. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN FINDING THAT THERE Court. The Court may, however, determine and resolve questions of facts in cases
EXISTS A CONJUGAL PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN PETITIONER AND EDUARDO where the findings of facts of the trial court and those of the CA are inconsistent,
FRANCISCO; where highly meritorious circumstances are present, and where it is necessary to give
substantial justice to the parties. In the present action, the findings of facts and the
conclusions of the trial court and those of the CA are opposite. There is thus an
B. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN DECLARING THAT THE imperative need for the Court to delve into and resolve the factual issues, in tandem
SUBJECT PROPERTIES WERE NOT PARAPHERNAL PROPERTIES OF with the questions of law raised by the parties.
PETITIONER;

The petition has no merit.


C. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN DISTURBING THE
FINDINGS OF FACTS AND CONCLUSION BY THE TRIAL COURT IN ITS
DECISION OF DECEMBER 20, 1997, THE SAME BEING IN ACCORDANCE WITH The petitioner failed to prove that she acquired the property with her personal funds
LAW AND JURISPRUDENCE.31 before her cohabitation with Eduardo and that she is the sole owner of the property.
The evidence on record shows that the Imus Bank executed a deed of absolute sale
over the property to the petitioner on August 31, 1984 and titles over the property
The threshold issues for resolution are as follows: (a) whether or not the subject were, thereafter, issued to the latter as vendee on September 4, 1984 after her
property is the conjugal property of Josefina Castillo and Eduardo Francisco; and (b) marriage to Eduardo on January 15, 1983.1ªvvphi1.nét
whether or not the subject properties may be held to answer for the personal
obligations of Eduardo.
We agree with the petitioner that Article 144 of the New Civil Code does not apply in
the present case. This Court in Tumlos v. Fernandez32held that Article 144 of the New
We shall deal with the issues simultaneously as they are closely related. Civil Code applies only to a relationship between a man and a woman who are not
incapacitated to marry each other, or to one in which the marriage of the parties is
The petitioner asserts that inasmuch as her marriage to Eduardo is void ab initio, void from the very beginning. It does not apply to a cohabitation that is adulterous or
there is no occasion that would give rise to a regime of conjugal partnership of gains. amounts to concubinage, for it would be absurd to create a co-ownership where there
The petitioner adds that to rule otherwise would render moot and irrelevant the exists a prior conjugal partnership or absolute community between the man and his
provisions on the regime of special co-ownership under Articles 147 and 148 of the lawful wife. In this case, the petitioner admitted that when she and Eduardo cohabited,
Family Code of the Philippines, in relation to Article 144 of the New Civil Code. the latter was incapacitated to marry her.

The petitioner avers that since Article 148 of the Family Code governs their property Article 148 of the Family Code of the Philippines, on which the petitioner anchors her
relationship, the respondents must adduce evidence to show that Eduardo actually claims, provides as follows:
contributed to the acquisition of the subject properties. The petitioner asserts that she
purchased the property before her marriage to Eduardo with her own money without Art. 148. In cases of cohabitation not falling under the preceding Article, only the
any contribution from him; hence, the subject property is her paraphernal properties acquired by both of the parties through their actual joint contribution of
property.l^vvphi1.net Consequently, such property is not liable for the debts of money, property, or industry shall be owned by them in common in proportion to their
Eduardo to private respondent MIWCC. respective contributions. In the absence of proof to the contrary, their contributions
and corresponding shares are presumed to be equal. The same rule and presumption
shall apply to joint deposits of money and evidences of credit.
If one of the parties is validly married to another, his or her share in the co-ownership It is to be noted that plaintiff-appellee got married at the age of 23. At that age, it is
shall accrue to the absolute community or conjugal partnership existing in such valid doubtful if she had enough funds of her own to purchase the subject properties as she
marriage. If the party who acted in bad faith is not validly married to another, his or her claimed in her Affidavit of Third Party Claim. Confronted with this reality, she later
share shall be forfeited in the manner provided in the last paragraph of the preceding claimed that the funds were provided by her mother and sister, clearly an afterthought
Article. in a desperate effort to shield the subject properties from appellant Master Iron as
judgment creditor.38
The foregoing rules on forfeiture shall, likewise, apply even if both parties are in bad
faith. Aside from her bare claims, the petitioner offered nothing to prove her allegation that
she borrowed the amount of P320,000.00 from her mother and her sister, which she
paid to the Imus Bank on August 31, 1984 to purchase the subject property. The
Indeed, the Family Code has filled the hiatus in Article 144 of the New Civil Code by
petitioner even failed to divulge the name of her mother and the sources of her
expressly regulating in Article 148 the property relations of couples living in a state of
income, if any, and that of her sister. When she testified in Civil Case No. 95-0169, the
adultery or concubinage. Under Article 256 of the Family Code, the law can be applied
petitioner declared that she borrowed part of the purchase price of the property from
retroactively if it does not prejudice vested or acquired rights. The petitioner failed to
her brother,39 but failed to divulge the latter’s name, let alone reveal how much money
prove that she had any vested right over the property in question.33
she borrowed and when. The petitioner even failed to adduce any evidence to prove
that her mother and sister had P320,000.00 in 1984, which, considering the times,
Since the subject property was acquired during the subsistence of the marriage of was then quite a substantial amount. Moreover, the petitioner’s third-party-claim
Eduardo and Carmelita, under normal circumstances, the same should be presumed affidavit stating that the properties "are the fruits of my own exclusive effort before I
to be conjugal property.34 Article 105 of the Family Code of the Philippines provides married Eduardo Francisco" belies her testimony in the trial court and in Civil Case
that the Code shall apply to conjugal partnership established before the code took No. 95-0169.1awphi1.nét
effect, without prejudice to vested rights already acquired under the New Civil Code or
other laws.35 Thus, even if Eduardo and Carmelita were married before the effectivity
We note that, as gleaned from the receipt issued by the Imus Bank, the payment for
of the Family Code of the Philippines, the property still cannot be considered conjugal
the subject property was drawn via Check No. 002334 and issued by the Commercial
property because there can only be but one valid existing marriage at any given
Bank of Manila in the amount of P320,000.00.40 The petitioner failed to testify against
time.36 Article 148 of the Family Code also debilitates against the petitioner’s claim
whose account the check was drawn and issued, and whether the said account was
since, according to the said article, a co-ownership may ensue in case of cohabitation
owned by her and/or Eduardo Francisco or her mother, sister or brother. She even
where, for instance, one party has a pre-existing valid marriage provided that the
failed to testify whether the check was a manager’s check and, if so, whose money
parents prove their actual joint contribution of money, property or industry and only to
was used to purchase the same.
the extent of their proportionate interest thereon.37

We also agree with the findings of the CA that the affidavit of waiver executed by
We agree with the findings of the appellate court that the petitioner failed to adduce
Eduardo on February 15, 1985, stating that the property is owned by the petitioner, is
preponderance of evidence that she contributed money, property or industry in the
barren of probative weight. We are convinced that he executed the said affidavit in
acquisition of the subject property and, hence, is not a co-owner of the property:
anticipation of claims by third parties against him and hold the property liable for the
said claims. First, the petitioner failed to prove that she had any savings before her
First of all, other than plaintiff-appellee’s bare testimony, there is nothing in the record cohabitation with Eduardo. Second, despite Eduardo’s affidavit of waiver, he
to support her claim that the funds she used to purchase the subject properties came nevertheless affixed his marital conformity to the real estate mortgage executed by the
from her mother and sister. She did not, for instance, present the testimonies of her petitioner over the property in favor of Leonila on January 13, 1986.41 Third, the
mother and sister who could have corroborated her claim. Furthermore, in her Affidavit petitioner testified that she borrowed the funds for the purchase of the property from
of Third-Party Claim (Exh. "C"), she stated that the subject properties "are my own her mother and sister.42 Fourth, the petitioner testified that Eduardo executed the
paraphernal properties, including the improvements thereon, as such are the fruits of affidavit of waiver because she discovered that he had a first marriage.43 Lastly,
my own exclusive efforts …," clearly implying that she used her own money and Eduardo belied the petitioner’s testimony when he testified that he executed the
contradicting her later claim that the funds were provided by her mother and sister. affidavit of waiver because his mother-in-law and sister-in-law had given the property
She also stated in her affidavit that she acquired the subject properties before her to the petitioner.44
marriage to Eduardo Francisco on 15 January 1983, a claim later belied by the
presentation of the Deed of Absolute Sale clearly indicating that she bought the
IN LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the petition is DENIED for lack of merit. The
properties from Imus Rural Bank on 31 August 1984, or one year and seven months
Decision of the Court of Appeals reversing the decision of the Regional Trial Court is
after her marriage (Exh. "D"). In the face of all these contradictions, plaintiff-appellee’s
AFFIRMED. No pronouncement as to costs.
uncorroborated testimony that she acquired the subject properties with funds provided
by her mother and sister should not have been given any weight by the lower court.
SO ORDERED. (4) In Civil Case No. SP-867 ordering defendants Eugenio Jose
and Rosalia Arroyo jointly and severally to pay plaintiff Victor
Juaniza the sum of P1,600.00 plus legal interest from date of
complaint until fully paid and costs of suit;

(5) In Civil Case No. SP-872, ordering defendants Eugenio Jose


and Rosalia Arroyo jointly and severally to pay the respective
heirs of the deceased Josefa P. Leus, Fausto Retrita, Nestor del
Rosario Añonuevo and Arceli de la Cueva in the sum of
Republic of the Philippines P12,000.00 for the life of each of said deceased, with legal
SUPREME COURT interest from date of complaint, and costs of suit. (pp. 47-48,
Manila Rello).

FIRST DIVISION Motion for reconsideration was filed by Rosalia Arroyo praying that the decision be
reconsidered insofar as it condemns her to pay damages jointly and severally with her
G.R. No. L-50127-28 March 30, 1979 co-defendant, but was denied. The lower court based her liability on the provision of
Article 144 of the Civil Code which reads:

VICTOR JUANIZA, Heirs of Josefa P. Leus etc., et al., plaintiffs and appellees,
vs. When a man and woman driving together as husband and wife,
EUGENIO JOSE, THE ECONOMIC INSURANCE COMPANY, INC., and ROSALIA but they are not married, or their marriage is void from the
ARROYO, defendants and appellants. beginning, the property acquired by either or both of them through
their work or industry or their wages and salaries shall be
governed by the rules on co-ownership.
Victoriano O. Javier and Ricardo A. Fabros, Jr. for appellees.
Rosalia Arroyo then filed her appeal with the Court of Appeals which, as previously
Luis Viscocho and Francisco E. Rodrigo, Jr. for appellants. stated, certified the same to Us, the question raised being purely legal as may be
seen from the lone assigned error as follows:

The lower court erred in holding defendant-appellant Rosalia


DE CASTRO, J.: Arroyo liable 'for damages resulting from the death and physical
injuries suffered by the passengers' of the jeepney registered in
the name of Eugenio Jose, on the erroneous theory that Eugenio
This case was certified by the Court of Appeals to this Court on the ground that the Jose and Rosalia Arroyo, having lived together as husband and
questions raised in the appeal of the decision of the Court of First Instance of Laguna wife, without the benefit of marriage, are co- owners of said
are purely questions of law. jeepney. (p. 2, Appellant's Brief).

Eugenio Jose was the registered owner and operator of the passenger jeepney The issues thus to be resolved are as follows: (1) whether or not Article 144 of the
involved in an accident of collision with a freight train of the Philippine National Civil Code is applicable in a case where one of the parties in a common-law
Railways that took place on November 23, 1969 which resulted in the death to seven relationship is incapacitated to marry, and (2) whether or not Rosalia who is not a
(7) and physical injuries to five (5) of its passengers. At the time of the accident, registered owner of the jeepney can be held jointly and severally liable for damages
Eugenio Jose was legally married to Socorro Ramos but had been cohabiting with with the registered owner of the same.
defendant-appellant, Rosalia Arroyo, for sixteen (16) years in a relationship akin to
that of husband and wife.
It has been consistently ruled by this Court that the co-ownership contemplated in
Article 144 of the Civil Code requires that the man and the woman living together must
In the resulting cages for damages filed in the Court of First Instance of Laguna, not in any way be incapacitated to contract marriage. (Camporedondo vs. Aznar, L-
decision was rendered, the dispositive part of which reads as follows: 11483, February 4, 1958, 102 Phil. 1055, 1068; Osmeña vs. Rodriguez, 54 OG 5526;
Malajacan vs. Rubi, 42 OG 5576). Since Eugenio Jose is legally married to Socorro
Ramos, there is an impediment for him to contract marriage with Rosalia Arroyo. deemed co-owners of a property acquired during the cohabitation only upon proof that
Under the aforecited provision of the Civil Code, Arroyo cannot be a co-owner of the each made an actual contribution to its acquisition. Hence, mere cohabitation without
jeepney. The jeepney belongs to the conjugal partnership of Jose and his legal wife. proof of contribution will not result in a co-ownership.
There is therefore no basis for the liability of Arroyo for damages arising from the
death of, and physical injuries suffered by, the passengers of the jeepney which
The Case
figured in the collision.

Before us is a Petition for Review under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, assailing the
Rosalia Arroyo, who is not the registered owner of the jeepney can neither be liable
November 19, 1998 Decision of the Court of Appeals 1 (CA), which reversed the
for damages caused by its operation. It is settled in our jurisprudence that only the
October 7, 1997 Order of the Regional Trial Court (RTC). 2The dispositive part of the
registered owner of a public service vehicle is responsible for damages that may arise
CA Decision reads:
from consequences incident to its operation, or maybe caused to any of the
passengers therein. (De Peralta vs. Mangusang, L-18110, July 31, 1964, 11 SCRA
598; Tamayo vs. Aquino, L-12634 and L-12720, May 29, 1959; Roque vs. Malibay WHEREFORE, the instant petition is GRANTED, and the
Transit, L-8561, November 18,1955; Montoya vs. Ignacio, L-5868, December 29, questioned orders of the court a quo dated October 7, 1997 and
1953). November 11, 1997, are hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE.
The judgment of the court a quodated June 5, 1997 is hereby
REINSTATED. Costs against the private respondents. 3
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, Rosalia Arroyo is hereby declared free from
any liability for damages and the appealed decision is hereby modified accordingly.
No costs. The assailed Order of the RTC disposed as follows:

Wherefore, the decision of this Court rendered on June 5, 1997


affirming in toto the appealed judgment of the [MTC] is hereby
reconsidered and a new one is entered reversing said decision of
the [MTC] and dismissing the complaint in the above-entitled
case. 4
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila Petitioner also assails the February 14, 1999 CA Resolution denying the Motion for
Reconsideration.

THIRD DIVISION
The Facts

The Court of Appeals narrates the facts as follows:

G.R. No. 137650 April 12, 2000


[Herein respondents] were the plaintiffs in Civil Case No. 6756, an
action for ejectment filed before Branch 82 of the MTC of
GUILLERMA TUMLOS, petitioner, Valenzuela, Metro Manila against [herein Petitioner] Guillerma
vs. Tumlos, Toto Tumlos, and Gina Tumlos. In their complaint dated
SPOUSES MARIO FERNANDEZ and LOURDES FERNANDEZ, respondents. July 5, 1996, the said spouses alleged that they are the absolute
owners of an apartment building located at ARTE SUBDIVISION
III, Lawang Bato, Valenzuela, Metro Manila; that through
tolerance they had allowed the defendants-private respondents to
occupy the apartment building for the last seven (7) years, since
PANGANIBAN, J.: 1989, without the payment of any rent; that it was agreed upon
that after a few months, defendant Guillerma Tumlos will pay
P1,600.00 a month while the other defendants promised to pay
Under Article 148 of the Family Code, a man and a woman who are not legally
P1,000.00 a month, both as rental, which agreement was not
capacitated to marry each other, but who nonetheless live together conjugally, may be
complied with by the said defendants; that they have demanded
several times [that] the defendants . . . vacate the premises, as Tumlos was temporarily accommodated in one of the rooms of
they are in need of the property for the construction of a new the subject premises while Gina Tumlos acted as a nanny for the
building; and that they have also demanded payment of children. In short, their presence there [was] only transient and
P84,000.00 from Toto and Gina Tumlos representing rentals for they [were] not tenants of the Fernandez spouses.
seven (7) years and payment of P143,600.00 from Guillerma
Tumlos as unpaid rentals for seven (7) years, but the said
On June 5, 1997, the [RTC] rendered a decision affirming in
demands went unheeded. They then prayed that the defendants
toto the judgment of the MTC.
be ordered to vacate the property in question and to pay the
stated unpaid rentals, as well as to jointly pay P30,000.00 in
attorney’s fees. The [petitioner and the two other defendants] seasonably filed a
motion for reconsideration on July 3, 1997, alleging that the
decision of affirmance by the RTC was constitutionally flawed for
[Petitioner] Guillerma Tumlos was the only one who filed an
failing to point out distinctly and clearly the findings of facts and
answer to the complaint. She averred therein that the Fernandez
law on which it was based vis-à-vis the statements of issues they
spouses had no cause of action against her, since she is a co-
have raised in their memorandum on appeal. They also averred
owner of the subject premises as evidenced by a Contract to Sell
that the Contract to Sell presented by the plaintiffs which named
wherein it was stated that she is a co-vendee of the property in
the buyer as "Mario P. Fernandez, of legal age, married to
question together with [Respondent] Mario Fernandez. She then
Lourdes P. Fernandez," should not be given credence as it was
asked for the dismissal of the complaint.
falsified to appear that way. According to them, the Contract to
Sell originally named "Guillerma Fernandez" as the spouse of
After an unfruitful preliminary conference on November 15, 1996, [Respondent Mario]. As found by the [RTC] in its judgment, a new
the MTC required the parties to submit their affidavits and other Contract to Sell was issued by the sellers naming the
evidence on the factual issues defined in their pleadings within [respondents] as the buyers after the latter presented their
ten (10) days from receipt of such order, pursuant to section 9 of marriage contract and requested a change in the name of the
the Revised Rule on Summary Procedure. [Petitioner] Guillerma vendee-wife. Such facts necessitate the conclusion that Guillerma
Tumlos submitted her affidavit/position paper on November 29, was really a co-owner thereof, and that the [respondents]
1996, while the [respondents] filed their position paper on manipulated the evidence in order to deprive her of her rights to
December 5, 1996, attaching thereto their marriage contract, enjoy and use the property as recognized by law.
letters of demand to the defendants, and the Contract to Sell over
the disputed property. The MTC thereafter promulgated its
xxx xxx xxx
judgment on January 22, 1997[.]

The [RTC], in determining the question of ownership in order to


xxx xxx xxx
resolve the issue of possession, ruled therein that the Contract to
Sell submitted by the Fernandez spouses appeared not to be
Upon appeal to the [RTC], [petitioner and the two other] authentic, as there was an alteration in the name of the wife of
defendants alleged in their memorandum on appeal that [Respondent] Mario Fernandez. Hence, the contract presented by
[Respondent] Mario Fernandez and [Petitioner] Guillerma had an the [respondents] cannot be given any weight. The court further
amorous relationship, and that they acquired the property in ruled that Guillerma and [Respondent Mario] acquired the
question as their "love nest." It was further alleged that they lived property during their cohabitation as husband and wife, although
together in the said apartment building with their two (2) children without the benefit of marriage. From such findings, the court
for around ten (10) years, and that Guillerma administered the concluded that [Petitioner] Guillerma Tumlos was a co-owner of
property by collecting rentals from the lessees of the other the subject property and could not be ejected therefrom.
apartments, until she discovered that [Respondent Mario]
deceived her as to the annulment of his marriage. It was also
The [respondents] then filed a motion for reconsideration of the
during the early part of 1996 when [Respondent Mario] accused
order of reversal, but the same was denied by the [RTC]. 5
her of being unfaithful and demonstrated his baseless [jealousy].

As earlier stated, the CA reversed the RTC. Hence, this Petition filed by Guillerma
In the same memorandum, [petitioner and the two other]
Tumlos only. 6
defendants further averred that it was only recently that Toto
Ruling of the Court of Appeals ed., p. 209). Hence, if actual contribution of the party is not
proved, there will be no co-ownership and no presumption of
equal shares (Agapay, supra at p. 348, citing Commentaries and
The CA rejected petitioner's claim that she and Respondent Mario Fernandez were
Jurisprudence on the Civil Code of the Philippines Volume I by
co-owners of the disputed property. The CA ruled:
Arturo M. Tolentino, 1990 ed., p. 500).

From the inception of the instant case, the only defense


In the instant case, no proof of actual contribution by Guillerma
presented by private respondent Guillerma is her right as a co-
Tumlos in the purchase of the subject property was presented.
owner of the subject property[.]
Her only evidence was her being named in the Contract to Sell as
the wife of [Respondent] Mario Fernandez. Since she failed to
xxx xxx xxx prove that she contributed money to the purchase price of the
subject apartment building, We find no basis to justify her co-
ownership with [Respondent Mario]. The said property is thus
This claim of co-ownership was not satisfactorily proven by presumed to belong to the conjugal partnership property of Mario
Guillerma, as correctly held by the trial court. No other evidence and Lourdes Fernandez, it being acquired during the subsistence
was presented to validate such claim, except for the said of their marriage and there being no other proof to the contrary
affidavit/position paper. As previously stated, it was only on (please see Article 116 of the Family Code).
appeal that Guillerma alleged that she cohabited with the
petitioner-husband without the benefit of marriage, and that she
bore him two (2) children. Attached to her memorandum on The court a quo (RTC) also found that [Respondent Mario] has
appeal are the birth certificates of the said children. Such two (2) children with Guillerma who are in her custody, and that to
contentions and documents should not have been considered by eject them from the apartment building would be to run counter
the . . . (RTC), as they were not presented in her affidavit/position with the obligation of the former to give support to his minor
paper before the trial court (MTC). illegitimate children, which indispensably includes dwelling. As
previously discussed, such finding has no leg to stand on, it being
based on evidence presented for the first time on appeal.
xxx xxx xxx

xxx xxx xxx


However, even if the said allegations and documents could be
considered, the claim of co-ownership must still fail. As [herein
Respondent] Mario Fernandez is validly married to [Respondent] Even assuming arguendo that the said evidence was validly
Lourdes Fernandez (as per Marriage Contract dated April 27, presented, the RTC failed to consider that the need for support
1968, p. 45, Original Record), Guillerma and Mario are not cannot be presumed. Article 203 of the Family Code expressly
capacitated to marry each other. Thus, the property relations provides that the obligation to give support shall be demandable
governing their supposed cohabitation is that found in Article 148 from the time the person who has a right to receive the same
of Executive Order No. 209, as amended, otherwise known as the needs it for maintenance, but it shall not be paid except from the
Family Code of the Philippines[.] date of judicial or extrajudicial demand. . . .1âwphi1.nêt

xxx xxx xxx In contrast to the clear pronouncement of the Supreme Court, the
RTC instead presumed that Guillerma and her children needed
support from [Respondent Mario]. Worse, it relied on evidence not
It is clear that actual contribution is required by this provision, in properly presented before the trial court (MTC).
contrast to Article 147 of the Family Code which states that efforts
in the care and maintenance of the family and household are
regarded as contributions to the acquisition of common property With regard to the other [defendants], Gina and Toto Tumlos, a
by one who has no salary or income or work or industry (Agapay close perusal of the records shows that they did not file any
v. Palang, 276 SCRA 340). The care given by one party [to] the responsive pleading. Hence, judgment may be rendered against
home, children, and household, or spiritual or moral inspiration them as may be warranted by the facts alleged in the complaint
provided to the other, is not included in Article 148 (Handbook on and limited to what is prayed for therein, as provided for in
the Family Code of the Philippines by Alicia V. Sempio-Diy, 1988 Section 6 of the Revised Rules on Summary Procedure. There
was no basis for the public respondent to dismiss the complaint 2. It allowed respondents to submit the pleadings that were not
against them. 7 (emphasis in the original) attached.

The Issues 3. It considered respondents' Reply dated May 20, 1998, which
had allegedly been filed out of time.
In her Memorandum, petitioner submits the following issues for the consideration of
the Court: 4. It declared that the case was submitted for decision without first
determining whether to give due course to the Petition, pursuant
to Section 6, Rule 42 of the Rules of Court. 12
I. The Court of Appeals gravely erred and abused its discretion in
not outrightly dismissing the petition for review filed by
respondents. The CA, for its part, succinctly dismissed these arguments in this wise:

II. The Court of Appeals erred in finding that petitioner is not the It is too late in the day now to question the alleged procedural
co-owner of the property in litis. error after we have rendered the decision. More importantly, when
the private respondent filed their comment to the petition on April
26, 1998, they failed to question such alleged procedural error.
III. Corollary thereto, the Court of Appeals erred in applying Art.
Neither have they questioned all the resolutions issued by the
148 of the Family Code in the case at bar.
Court after their filing of such comment. They should, therefore,
be now considered in estoppel to question the same.13
IV. The Court of Appeals erred in disregarding the substantive
right of support vis-à-vis the remedy of ejectment resorted to by
We agree with the appellate court. Petitioner never raised these matters before the
respondents. 8
CA. She cannot be allowed now to challenge its Decision on grounds of alleged
technicalities being belatedly raised as an afterthought. In this light, she cannot
In resolving this case, we shall answer two questions: (a) Is the petitioner a co-owner invoke Solar 14 because she never raised this issue before the CA.
of the property? (b) Can the claim for support bar this ejectment suit? We shall also
discuss these preliminary matters: (a) whether the CA was biased in favor of
More important, we find it quite sanctimonious indeed on petitioner’s part to rely, on
respondents and (b) whether the MTC had jurisdiction over the ejectment suit.
the one hand, on these procedural technicalities to overcome the appealed Decision
and, on the other hand, assert that the RTC may consider the new evidence she
The Court’s Ruling presented for the first time on appeal. Such posturing only betrays the futility of
petitioner's assertion, if not its absence of merit.
The Petition has no merit.
One other preliminary matter. Petitioner implies that the court of origin, the Municipal
Trial Court (MTC), did not have jurisdiction over the "nature of the case," alleging that
Preliminary Matters the real question involved is one of ownership. Since the issue of possession cannot
be settled without passing upon that of ownership, she maintains that the MTC should
Petitioner submits that the CA exhibited partiality in favor of herein respondents. This have dismissed the case.
bias, she argues, is manifest in the following:
This contention is erroneous. The issue of ownership may be passed upon by the
1. The CA considered the respondents’ Petition for MTC to settle the issue of possession. 15 Such disposition, however, is not final insofar
Review 9 despite their failure to attach several pleadings as well as the issue of ownership is concerned, 16 which may be the subject of another
as the explanation for the proof of service, despite the clear proceeding brought specifically to settle that question.
mandate of Section 11 10 of Rule 13 of the Revised Rules of Court
and despite the ruling in Solar Team Entertainment, Having resolved these preliminary matters, we now move on to petitioner’s
Inc. v. Ricafort. 11 substantive contentions.
First Issue: Even considering the evidence presented before the MTC and the RTC, we cannot
accept petitioner's submission that she is a co-owner of the disputed property
pursuant to Article 144 of the Civil Code. 20 As correctly held by the CA, the applicable
Petitioner as Co-owner
law is not Article 144 of the Civil Code, but Article 148 of the Family Code which
provides:
Petitioner’s central theory and main defense against respondents' action for ejectment
is her claim of co-ownership over the property with Respondent Mario Fernandez. At
Art. 148. In cases of cohabitation not falling under the preceding
the first instance before the MTC, she presented a Contract to Sell indicating that she
Article, 21 only the properties acquired by both of the parties
was his spouse. The MTC found this document insufficient to support her claim. The
through their actual joint contribution of money, property, or
RTC, however, after considering her allegation that she had been cohabiting with
industry shall be owned by them in common in proportion to their
Mario Fernandez as shown by evidence presented before it, 17 ruled in her favor.
respective contributions. In the absence of proof to the contrary,
their contributions and corresponding shares are presumed to be
On the other hand, the CA held that the pieces of evidence adduced before the RTC equal. The same rule and presumption shall apply to joint
could no longer be considered because they had not been submitted before the MTC. deposits of money and evidences of credit.
Hence, the appellate court concluded that "[t]he claim of co-ownership was not
satisfactorily proven . . ." 18
If one of the parties is validly married to another, his or her share
in the co-ownership shall accrue to the absolute community or
We agree with the petitioner that the RTC did not err in considering the evidence conjugal partnership existing in such valid marriage. If the party
presented before it. Nonetheless, we reject her claim that she was a co-owner of the who acted in bad faith is not validly married to another, his or her
disputed property. share shall be forfeited in the manner provided in the last
paragraph of the preceding Article.
Evidence Presented on
The foregoing rules on forfeiture shall likewise apply even if both
parties are in bad faith.
Appeal Before the RTC

Art. 144 of the Civil Code applies only to a relationship between a man and a woman
In ruling that the RTC erred in considering on appeal the evidence presented by who are not incapacitated to marry each other, 22 or to one in which the marriage of
petitioner, the CA relied on the doctrine that issues not raised during trial could not be the parties is void 23 from the beginning. 24 It does not apply to a cohabitation that
considered for the first time during appeal. 19 amounts to adultery or concubinage, for it would be absurd to create a co-ownership
where there exists a prior conjugal partnership or absolute community between the
We disagree. In the first place, there were no new matters or issues belatedly raised man and his lawful wife. 25
during the appeal before the RTC. The defense invoked by petitioner at the very start
was that she was a co-owner. To support her claim, she presented a Contract to Sell Based on evidence presented by respondents, as well as those submitted by
dated November 14, 1986, which stated that Mario Fernandez was legally married to petitioner herself before the RTC, it is clear that Mario Fernandez was incapacitated to
her. The allegation that she was cohabiting with him was a mere elaboration of her marry petitioner because he was legally married to Lourdes Fernandez. It is also clear
initial theory. that, as readily admitted by petitioner, she cohabited with Mario in a state of
concubinage. Therefore, Article 144 of the Civil Code is inapplicable.
In the second place, procedural rules are generally premised on considerations of fair
play. Respondents never objected when the assailed evidence was presented before As stated above, the relationship between petitioner and Respondent Mario
the RTC. Thus, they cannot claim unfair surprise or prejudice. Fernandez is governed by Article 148 of the Family Code. Justice Alicia V. Sempio-Diy
points out 26 that "[t]he Family Code has filled the hiatus in Article 144 of the Civil Code
Petitioner Not a Co-Owner Under by expressly regulating in its Article 148 the property relations of couples living in a
state of adultery or concubinage.
Article 144 of the Civil Code
Hence, petitioner’s argument — that the Family Code is inapplicable because the
cohabitation and the acquisition of the property occurred before its effectivity —
deserves scant consideration. Suffice it to say that the law itself states that it can be
applied retroactively if it does not prejudice vested or acquired rights. 27 In this case, We disagree. It should be emphasized that this is an ejectment suit whereby
petitioner failed to show any vested right over the property in question. Moreover, to respondents seek to exercise their possessory right over their property. It is summary
resolve similar issues, we have applied Article 148 of the Family Code retroactively. 28 in character and deals solely with the issue of possession of the property in dispute.
Here, it has been shown that they have a better right to possess it than does the
petitioner, whose right to possess is based merely on their tolerance.1âwphi1.nêt
No Evidence of Actual Joint

Moreover, Respondent Mario Fernandez' alleged failure to repudiate petitioner's claim


Contribution
of filiation is not relevant to the present case. Indeed, it would be highly improper for
us to rule on such issue. Besides, it was not properly taken up below. 30 In any event,
Another consideration militates against petitioner’s claim that she is a co-owner of the Article 298 31 of the Civil Code requires that there should be an extrajudicial
property. In Agapay, 29 the Court ruled: demand. 32 None was made here. The CA was correct when it said:

Under Article 148, only the properties acquired by both of the Even assuming arguendo that the said evidence was validly
parties through their actual joint contribution of money, property presented, the RTC failed to consider that the need for support
or industry shall be owned by them in common in proportion to cannot be presumed. Article [298] of the [New Civil Code]
their respective contributions. It must be stressed that the actual expressly provides that the obligation to give support shall be
contribution is required by this provision, in contrast to Article 147 demandable from the time the person who has a right to receive
which states that efforts in the care and maintenance of the family the same need it for maintenance, but it shall not be paid except
and household, are regarded as contributions to the acquisition of from the date of judicial and extrajudicial demand. 33
common property by one who has no salary or income or work or
industry. If the actual contribution of the party is not proved, there
WHEREFORE, the Petition is DENIED and the appealed Decision AFFIRMED. Costs
will be no co-ownership and no presumption of equal shares.
against petitioner.
(emphasis ours)

SO ORDERED.
In this case, petitioner fails to present any evidence that she had made an actual
contribution to purchase the subject property. Indeed, she anchors her claim of co-
ownership merely on her cohabitation with Respondent Mario Fernandez.

Likewise, her claim of having administered the property during the cohabitation is Republic of the Philippines
unsubstantiated. In any event, this fact by itself does not justify her claim, for nothing SUPREME COURT
in Article 148 of the Family Code provides that the administration of the property Baguio City
amounts to a contribution in its acquisition.
THIRD DIVISION
Clearly, there is no basis for petitioner’s claim of co-ownership. The property in
question belongs to the conjugal partnership of respondents. Hence, the MTC and the
CA were correct in ordering the ejectment of petitioner from the premises. G.R. No. 140153 March 28, 2001

Second Issue: ANTONIO DOCENA and ALFREDA DOCENA, petitioners,


vs.
HON. RICARDO P. LAPESURA, in his capacity as Presiding Judge of the RTC,
Support versus Ejectment Branch III, Guian, Eastern Samar; RUFINO M. GARADO, Sheriff IV; and
CASIANO HOMBRIA,respondents.
Petitioner contends that since Respondent Mario Fernandez failed to repudiate her
claim regarding the filiation of his alleged sons, Mark Gil and Michael Fernandez, his GONZAGA-REYES, J.:
silence on the matter amounts to an admission. Arguing that Mario is liable for
support, she advances the theory that the children’s right to support, which
necessarily includes shelter, prevails over the right of respondents to eject her.
This is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court seeking issuing the alias Writ of Demolition. In a Resolution dated 4 June 18, 1999, the Court
the nullification of the Court of Appeals1 Resolutions dated June 18, 1999 and of Appeals dismissed the petition on the grounds that the petition was filed beyond the
September 9, 1999 which dismissed the Petition for Certiorari and Prohibition2 under 60-day period provided under Section 4 of Rule 65 of the 1997 Revised Rules of Civil
Rule 65 and denied the corresponding motion for reconsideration, respectively. Procedure as amended by Bar Matter No. 803 effective September 1, 1998, and that
the certification of non-forum shopping attached thereto was signed by only one of the
petitioners.16 The Motion for Reconsideration filed by the petitioners was denied by the
The antecedent facts are as follows:
Court of Appeals in a Resolution dated September 9, 1999.17

On June 1, 1977, private respondent Casiano Hombria filed a Complaint .for the
Hence this petition. 1âwphi1.nêt
recovery of a parcel of land against his lessees, petitioner-spouses Antonio and
Alfreda Docena.3The petitioners claimed ownership of the land based on occupation
since time immemorial.4 A certain Guillermo Abuda intervened in the case. In a The sole issue in this case is whether or not the Court of Appeals erred in dismissing
Decision dated November 24, 1989, the trial court ruled in favor of the petitioners and the Petition for Certiorari and Prohibition.
the intervenor Abuda.5 On appeal, the Court of Appeals reversed the judgment of the
trial court and ordered the petitioners "to vacate the land they have leased from the
The petition is meritorious.
plaintiff-appellant [private respondent Casiano Hombria], excluding the portion which
the petitioners reclaimed from the sea and forms part of the shore, as shown in the
Commissioner's Report, and to pay the plaintiff-appellant the agreed rental of P1.00 The Court of Appeals dismissed the Petition for Certiorari upon the following
per year from the date of the filing of the Complaint until they shall have actually grounds, viz: (1) the petition was filed beyond the 60-day period provided under Sec.
vacated the premises."6 The Complaint in Intervention of Abuda was dismissed.7 4, Rule 65 of the 1997 Revised Rules of Civil Procedure as amended by Bar Matter
No. 803 effective September l, 1998; and (2) the certification of non-forum shopping
was signed by only one of the petitioners.
On May 22, 1995, private respondent Hombria filed a Motion for Execution of the
above decision which has already become final and executory.8 The motion was
granted by the public respondent judge, and a Writ of Execution was issued therefor. Upon the first ground, the Court of Appeals stated in its Resolution dated June 18,
However, the public respondent sheriff subsequently filed a Manifestation requesting 1999 that:
that he "be clarified in the determination of that particular portion which is sought to be
excluded prior to the delivery of the land adjudged in favor of plaintiff Casiano
xxx the 60-day period is counted not from the receipt of the Order denying
Hombria" in view of the defects in the Commissioner's Report and the Sketches
their Motion for Reconsideration but from the date of receipt of the Order of
attached thereto.9 After requiring the parties to file their Comment on the sheriff's
November 18, 1998 which was on December 29, 1998, interrupted by the
Manifestation, the public respondent judge, in a Resolution dated August 30, 1996,
filing of the Motion for Reconsideration on January 27, 1999. The Motion for
held that "xxx no attempt should be made to alter or modify the decision of the Court
"Reconsideration was denied in an Order dated March 17, 1999 received by
of Appeals. What should be delivered therefore to the plaintiff xxx is that portion
the petitioners on May 4, 1999. Counting the remaining period, this petition
leased by the defendant-appellees from the plaintiff-appellant excluding the portion
should have been filed on June 4, 1999 but it was filed only on June 14,
that the defendant-appellee have reclaimed from the sea and forms part of the shore
1999 or ten (10) days beyond the 60-day period computed in accordance
as shown in the commissioner's report xxx."10 Pursuant to the Resolution, the public
with Bar Matter No. 803.
respondent sheriff issued an alias Writ of Demolition. The petitioners filed a Motion to
Set Aside or Defer the Implementation of Writ of Demolition. This motion was denied
by the public respondent judge in an Order dated November 18, 1998, a copy of which xxx xxx xxx18
was received by the petitioners on December 29, 1998.11 Also on December 29, 1998,
the public respondent judge, in open court, granted the petitioners until January 13,
1999 to file a Motion for Reconsideration.12 On January 13, 1999, petitioners moved The petitioners agree that the counting of the 60-day period should commence on
for an extension of the period to file a motion for reconsideration until January 28, December 29, 1998, the date of the receipt by the petitioners of the assailed trial court
1999.13 The motion was finally filed by the petitioners on January 27, 1999, but was order, interrupted by the filing of a motion for reconsideration on January 27, 1999,
denied by the trial court in an Order dated March 17, 1999.14 A copy of the Order was and resume upon receipt by the petitioners of the denial of the motion by the trial court
received by the petitioners on May 4, 1999.15 on May 4, 1999; however, the petitioners contend that from December 29, 1998 up to
January 27, 1999, only the 15-day period allowed for the filing of a motion for
reconsideration19 should be deemed to have elapsed considering the grant by the
A Petition for Certiorari and Prohibition was filed by the petitioners with the Court of trial court of an extension of the period to file the motion until January 13, 1999.
Appeals, alleging grave abuse of discretion on the part of the trial court judge in Hence, on May 4, 1999, .the petitioners still had 45 days to file a petition for
issuing the Orders dated November 18, 1998 and March 17, 1999, and of the sheriff in certiorari and/or prohibition, and the filing made on June 14, 1999 was timely.
We hold that the Petition for Certiorari and Prohibition has been timely filed. the certification was signed by the husband who is the statutory administrator of the
conjugal property.25
A.M. No. 00-2-03-SC, which took effect on September 1, 2000, amended Section 4 of
Rule 65 of the 1997 Revised Rules of Civil Procedure20 to provide thus: It has been our previous ruling that the certificate of non-forum shopping should be
signed by all the petitioners or plaintiffs in a case, and that the signing by only one of
them is insufficient. In the case of Efren Loquias, et. al. vs. Office of the Ombudsman,
SEC. 4. When and where petition filed. -- The petition shall be filed not later
et. al.,26 we held that the signing of the Verification and the Certification on Non-Forum
than sixty (60) days from notice of the judgment, order or resolution. In case
Shopping by only one of the petitioners constitutes a defect in the petition.27 The
a motion for reconsideration or new trial is timely filed, whether such motion
attestation contained in the certification on non- forum shopping requires personal
is required or not, the sixty (60) day period shall be counted from notice of
knowledge by the party executing the same,28 and the lone signing petitioner cannot
the denial of said motion.
be presumed to have personal knowledge of the filing or non-filing by his co-
petitioners of any action or claim the same as or similar to the current petition. To
The petition shall be filed in the Supreme Court or, if it relates to the acts or merit the Court's consideration, petitioners must show reasonable cause for failure to
omissions of a lower court or of a corporation, board, officer or person, in personally sign the certification.
the Regional Trial Court exercising jurisdiction over the territorial area as
defined by the Supreme Court. It may also be filed in the Court of Appeals
In the case at bar, however, we hold that the subject Certificate of Non-Forum
whether or not the same is in aid of its appellate jurisdiction, or in the
Shopping signed by the petitioner Antonio Docena alone should be deemed to
Sandiganbayan if it is in aid of its appellate jurisdiction. If it involves the acts
constitute substantial compliance with the rules.29 There are only two petitioners in this
or omissions of a quasi-judicial agency, unless otherwise provided by law or
case and they are husband and wife. Their residence is the subject property alleged to
these rules, the petition shall be filed in and cognizable only by the Court of
be conjugal in the instant verified petition. The Verification/Certification on Non-Forum
Appeals.
Shopping30 attached to the Petition for Certiorari and Prohibition was signed only by
the husband who certified, inter alia,that he and his wife have not commenced any
No extension of time to file the petition shall be granted except for other action or proceeding involving the same issues raised in the petition in any
compelling reason and in no case exceeding fifteen (15) days. [Emphasis court, tribunal or quasi- judicial agency; that to the best of their knowledge no such
ours] action is pending therein; and that he and his wife undertake to inform the Court within
five (5) days from notice of any similar action or proceeding which may have been
filed.
In the case of Systems Factors Corporation versus NLRC,21 we held that the
abovequoted Resolution, being procedural in nature, is applicable to actions pending
and undetermined at the time of their passage. The retroactive application of The property subject of the original action for recovery is conjugal. Whether it is
procedural laws such as this Resolution is not violative of any right of a person who conjugal under the New Civil Code or the Family Code, a fact that cannot be
may feel adversely affected thereby, as no vested right may attach to nor arise from determined from the records before us, it is believed that the certificate on non-forum
procedural laws.22 The ruling in the Systems Factors case was reiterated in the recent shopping filed in the Court of Appeals constitutes sufficient compliance with the rules
case of Unity Fishing Development Corporation, et. al. vs. Court of Appeals, et. on forum-shopping.
al.23 Applying the Resolution to the case at bar, the 60-day period for the filing of a
petition for certiorari and prohibition should be reckoned from the date of receipt of the
Under the New Civil Code, the husband is the administrator of the conjugal
order denying the motion for reconsideration, i.e., May 4, 1999, and thus, the filing
partnership.31 In fact, he is the sole administrator, and the wife is not entitled as a
made on June 14, 1999 was well within the 60-day reglementary period.
matter of right to join him in this endeavor.32 The husband may defend the conjugal
partnership in a suit or action without being joined by the wife. 33 Corollarily, the
Anent the ground that the certification of non-forum shopping was signed by only one husband alone may execute the necessary certificate of non-forum shopping to
of the petitioners, it is the contention of the petitioners that the same is sufficient accompany the pleading. The husband as the statutory administrator of the conjugal
compliance with the requirements of Sections 1 and 2 of Rule 65 (Petition for property could have filed the petition for certiorari and prohibition34 alone, without the
Certiorari and Prohibition) in relation to Section 3 of Rule 46 (Original Cases Filed in concurrence of the wife. If suits to defend an interest in the conjugal properties may be
the Court of Appeals). The petitioners argue that since they are spouses with joint or filed by the husband alone, with more reason, he may sign the certificate of non-forum
indivisible interest over the alleged conjugal property subject of the original action shopping to be attached to the petition.
which gave rise to the petition for certiorari and prohibition, the signing of the
certificate of non-forum shopping by only one of them would suffice, especially
Under the Family Code, the administration of the conjugal property belongs to the
considering the long distance they had to travel just to sign the said
husband and the wife jointly.35 However, unlike an act of alienation or encumbrance
certificate.24 Moreover, there is substantial compliance with the Rules of Court where
where the consent of both spouses is required, joint management or administration
does not require that the husband and wife always act together. Each spouse may
validly exercise full power of management alone, subject to the intervention of the
court in proper cases as provided under Article 124 of the Family Code.36 It is believed
that even under the provisions of the Family Code, the husband alone could have filed
the petition for certiorari and prohibition to contest the writs of demolition issued
against the conjugal property with the Court of Appeals without being joined by his
wife. The signing of the attached certificate of non-forum shopping only by the
husband is not a fatal defect.

More important, the signing petitioner here made the certification in his behalf and that Republic of the Philippines
of his wife. The husband may reasonably be presumed to have personal knowledge of SUPREME COURT
the filing or non-filing by his wife of any action or claim similar to the petition for Manila
certiorari and prohibition given the notices and legal processes involved in a legal
proceeding involving real property. We also see no justifiable reason why he may not SECOND DIVISION
lawfully undertake together with his wife to inform the court of any similar action or
proceeding which may be filed. If anybody may repudiate the certification or
undertaking for having been incorrectly made, it is the wife who may conceivably do G.R. No. 162084 June 28, 2005
so.
APRIL MARTINEZ, FRITZ DANIEL MARTINEZ and MARIA OLIVIA
In view of the circumstances of this case, namely, the property involved is a conjugal MARTINEZ, petitioners,
property, the petition questioning the writ of demolition thereof originated from an vs.
action for recovery brought against the spouses, and is clearly intended for the benefit RODOLFO G. MARTINEZ, respondent.
of the conjugal partnership, and the wife, as pointed out in the Motion for
Reconsideration in respondent court, was in the province of Guian, Samar, whereas
DECISION
the petition was prepared in Metro Manila, a rigid application of the rules on forum
shopping that would disauthorize a husband's signing the certification in his behalf and
that of his wife is too harsh and is clearly uncalled for. CALLEJO, SR., J.:

It bears stressing that the rules on forum shopping, which were designed to promote This is a petition for review on certiorari of the Decision1 of the Court of Appeals (CA)
and facilitate the orderly administration of justice, should not be interpreted with such in CA-G.R. SP No. 59420 setting aside and reversing the decision of the Regional
absolute literalness as to subvert its own ultimate and legitimate objective.37 Trial Court (RTC) of Manila, Branch 30, in Civil Case No. 00-96962 affirming, on
appeal, the decision of the Metropolitan Trial Court (MTC) of Manila in Civil Case No.
164761 (CV) for ejectment.
The petitioner's motion for the issuance of a temporary restraining order to put on hold
the demolition of the subject property is principally anchored on their alleged right to
the nullification of the assailed orders and writs issued by the public respondents.38 As The Antecedents
the existence of the right being asserted by the petitioners is a factual issue proper for
determination by the Court of Appeals, the motion based thereon should likewise be
The spouses Daniel P. Martinez, Sr. and Natividad de Guzman-Martinez were the
addressed to the latter court.
owners of a parcel of land identified as Lot 18-B-2 covered by Transfer Certificate of
Title (TCT) No. 54334, as well as the house constructed thereon.2 On March 6, 1993,
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is hereby GRANTED. The Court of Daniel, Sr. executed a Last Will and Testament3 directing the subdivision of the
Appeals Resolutions dated June 18, 1999 and September 9, 1999 are hereby SET property into three lots, namely, Lots 18-B-2-A, 18-B-2-B and 18-B-2-C. He then
ASIDE and the case is REMANDED to the Court of Appeals for further proceedings. bequeathed the three lots to each of his sons, namely, Rodolfo, Manolo and Daniel,
Jr.; Manolo was designated as the administrator of the estate.
SO ORDERED.
In May 1995, Daniel, Sr. suffered a stroke which resulted in the paralysis of the right
side of his body. Natividad died on October 26, 1996.4 Daniel, Sr. passed away on
October 6, 1997.5
On September 16, 1998, Rodolfo found a deed of sale purportedly signed by his On February 21, 2000, the trial court rendered judgment in favor of the spouses
father on September 15, 1996, where the latter appears to have sold Lot 18-B-2 to Martinez. The fallo of the decision reads:
Manolo and his wife Lucila.6 He also discovered that TCT No. 237936 was issued to
the vendees based on the said deed of sale.7
WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is rendered in favor of plaintiff. The
defendant, including any person claiming right under him, is ordered:
Rodolfo filed a complaint8 for annulment of deed of sale and cancellation of TCT No.
237936 against his brother Manolo and his sister-in-law Lucila before the RTC. He
1) To vacate the subject premises;
also filed a criminal complaint for estafa through falsification of a public document in
the Office of the City Prosecutor against Manolo, which was elevated to the
Department of Justice.9 2) To pay plaintiff the sum of P10,000.00 a month starting July 17, 1999, the
date of last demand until he vacates the same;
On motion of the defendants, the RTC issued an Order10 on March 29, 1999,
dismissing the complaint for annulment of deed of sale on the ground that the trial 3) To pay the sum of P10,000.00 as and for attorney’s fees; and
court had no jurisdiction over the action since there was no allegation in the complaint
that the last will of Daniel Martinez, Sr. had been admitted to probate. Rodolfo
4) Costs of suit.
appealed the order to the CA.11

SO ORDERED.16
On October 4, 1999, Rodolfo filed a Petition with the RTC of Manila for the probate of
the last will of the deceased Daniel Martinez, Sr.12
The trial court declared that the spouses Martinez had substantially complied with
Article 151 of the Family Code of the Philippines17 based on the allegations of the
In the meantime, the spouses Manolo and Lucila Martinez wrote Rodolfo, demanding
complaint and the appended certification to file action issued by the barangay captain.
that he vacate the property. Rodolfo ignored the letter and refused to do so. This
prompted the said spouses to file a complaint for unlawful detainer against Rodolfo in
the MTC of Manila. They alleged that they were the owners of the property covered by Rodolfo appealed the decision to the RTC. On May 31, 2000, the RTC rendered
TCT No. 237936, and that pursuant to Presidential Decree (P.D.) No. 1508, the matter judgment affirming the appealed decision. He then filed a petition for review of the
was referred to thebarangay for conciliation and settlement, but none was reached. decision with the CA, alleging that:
They appended the certification to file action executed by the barangay chairman to
the complaint.
1. THE RTC ERRED IN AFFIRMING THE DECISION OF THE MTC WHICH FOUND
WITHOUT MERIT THE DEFENSE OF PETITIONER THAT THERE IS NO
13
In his Answer to the complaint filed on October 11, 1999, Rodolfo alleged, inter alia, ALLEGATION IN THE COMPLAINT THAT PETITIONER HAS UNLAWFULLY
that the complaint failed to state a condition precedent, namely, that earnest efforts for WITHHELD POSSESSION OF THE PROPERTY FROM RESPONDENTS – A
an amicable settlement of the matter between the parties had been exerted, but that REQUIREMENT IN [AN] UNLAWFUL DETAINER SUIT.
none was reached. He also pointed out that the dispute had not been referred to
the barangay before the complaint was filed.
2. THE RTC ERRED IN AFFIRMING THE DECISION OF THE MTC WHICH FOUND
THAT PETITIONER’S POSSESSION OF THE PROPERTY IS BY MERE
On October 20, 1999, the spouses Martinez filed an Amended Complaint in which TOLERANCE OF RESPONDENTS.
they alleged that earnest efforts toward a settlement had been made, but that the
same proved futile. Rodolfo filed his opposition thereto, on the ground that there was
no motion for the admission of the amended complaint. The trial court failed to act on 3. THE RTC ERRED IN AFFIRMING THE DECISION OF THE MTC WHICH FOUND
the matter. THAT THE RESPONDENTS HAVE A CAUSE OF ACTION.

The spouses Martinez alleged in their position paper that earnest efforts toward a 4. THE RTC ERRED IN AFFIRMING THE DECISION OF THE MTC WHICH DID NOT
compromise had been made and/or exerted by them, but that the same proved RESOLVE THE SIXTH ISSUE, TO WIT, "Whether or not this Court has jurisdiction
futile.14 No amicable settlement was, likewise, reached by the parties during the over this case considering that the allegations in the complaint makes out a case
preliminary conference because of irreconcilable differences. The MTC was, thus, of accion publiciana."
impelled to terminate the conference.15
5. THE RTC ERRED IN AFFIRMING THE DECISION OF THE MTC WHICH HAS NO REQUIREMENT PROVIDED FOR UNDER ARTICLE 151 OF THE FAMILY CODE,
JURISDICTION OVER THE CASE. CONSIDERING THAT ONE OF THE PARTIES TO A SUIT IN THIS CASE IS NOT A
MEMBER OF THE SAME FAMILY.19
6. THE RTC ERRED IN AFFIRMING THE DECISION OF THE MTC WHICH FOUND
THAT THE MANDATORY REQUIREMENT OF CONCILIATION HAS BEEN The petitioners alleged that they substantially complied with Article 151 of the Family
COMPLIED WITH. Code, since they alleged the following in their original complaint:

7. THE RTC ERRED IN AFFIRMING THE DECISION OF THE MTC WHICH FOUND 2. In compliance with P.D. 1508, otherwise known as the "Katarungang
THAT THERE WAS SUBSTANTIAL COMPLIANCE WITH THE KATARUNGANG Pambarangay," this case passed [through] the Barangay and no settlement was
PAMBARANGAY LAW. forged between plaintiffs and defendant as a result of which Certification to File Action
was issued by Barangay 97, Zone 8, District I, Tondo, Manila. xxx" (Underscoring
supplied)20
8. THE RTC ERRED IN AFFIRMING THE DECISION OF THE MTC WHICH FOUND
THAT THE PENDENCY OF CIVIL CASE NO. 98-91147 AND SPECIAL
PROCEEDINGS NO. 99-95281, INVOLVING THE PETITIONER AND Further, the petitioners averred, they alleged in their position paper that they had
RESPONDENTS AND INVOLVING THE SAME PROPERTY DID NOT DIVEST THE exerted earnest efforts towards a compromise which proved futile. They also point out
MTC OF AUTHORITY TO DECIDE THE CASE. that the MTC resolved to terminate the preliminary conference due to irreconcilable
difference between the parties. Besides, even before they filed their original complaint,
animosity already existed between them and the respondent due to the latter’s filing of
9. THE RTC ERRED IN AFFIRMING THE DECISION OF THE MTC WHICH
civil and criminal cases against them; hence, the objective of an amicable settlement
GRANTED THE RELIEF PRAYED FOR BY THE RESPONDENTS.
could not have been attained. Moreover, under Article 150 of the Family Code,
petitioner Lucila Martinez had no familial relations with the respondent, being a mere
10. THE RTC ERRED IN AFFIRMING THE DECISION OF THE MTC.18 sister-in-law. She was a stranger to the respondent; hence, there was no need for the
petitioners21 to comply with Article 151 of the Family Code.
On November 27, 2003, the CA rendered judgment granting the petition and reversing
the decision of the RTC. The appellate court ruled that the spouses Martinez had The petition is meritorious.
failed to comply with Article 151 of the Family code. The CA also held that the defect
in their complaint before the MTC was not cured by the filing of an amended complaint
Article 151 of the Family Code provides:
because the latter pleading was not admitted by the trial court.

Art. 151. No suit between members of the same family shall prosper unless it should
Upon the denial of their motion for reconsideration of the said decision, the spouses
appear from the verified complaint or petition that earnest efforts toward a
Martinez filed the present petition for review on certiorari, in which they raise the
compromise have been made, but that the same have failed. If it is shown that no
following issues:
such efforts were, in fact, made, the case must be dismissed.

I.
This rule shall not apply to cases which may not be the subject of compromise under
the Civil Code.
WHETHER OR NOT THE CERTIFICATION TO FILE ACTION AND THE
ALLEGATIONS IN THE COMPLAINT THAT THE CASE PASSED [THROUGH] THE
The phrase "members of the family" must be construed in relation to Article 150 of the
BARANGAY BUT NO SETTLEMENT WAS REACHED, ARE SUFFICIENT
Family Code, to wit:
COMPLIANCE TO PROVE THAT, INDEED, EARNEST EFFORTS WERE, IN FACT,
MADE BUT THE SAME HAVE FAILED PRIOR TO THE FILING OF THE
COMPLAINT. Art. 150. Family relations include those:

II. (1) Between husband and wife;

WHETHER OR NOT THE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY AND SERIOUSLY (2) Between parents and children;
ERRED IN FINDING THAT THERE WAS NON-COMPLIANCE WITH THE
(3) Among other ascendants and descendants; and (4) Among brothers and sisters."

(4) Among brothers and sisters, whether of the full or half-blood. Mrs. Gayon is plaintiff’s sister-in-law, whereas her children are his nephews and/or
nieces. Inasmuch as none of them is included in the enumeration contained in said
Art. 217 – which should be construed strictly, it being an exception to the general rule
Article 151 of the Family code must be construed strictly, it being an exception to the
– and Silvestre Gayon must necessarily be excluded as party in the case at bar, it
general rule. Hence, a sister-in-law or brother-in-law is not included in the
follows that the same does not come within the purview of Art. 222, and plaintiff’s
enumeration.22
failure to seek a compromise before filing the complaint does not bar the same.24

As pointed out by the Code Commission, it is difficult to imagine a sadder and more
Second. The petitioners were able to comply with the requirements of Article 151 of
tragic spectacle than a litigation between members of the same family. It is necessary
the Family Code because they alleged in their complaint that they had initiated a
that every effort should be made toward a compromise before a litigation is allowed to
proceeding against the respondent for unlawful detainer in theKatarungang
breed hate and passion in the family and it is known that a lawsuit between close
Pambarangay, in compliance with P.D. No. 1508; and that, after due proceedings, no
relatives generates deeper bitterness than between strangers.23
amicable settlement was arrived at, resulting in the barangay chairman’s issuance of a
certificate to file action.25 The Court rules that such allegation in the complaint, as well
Thus, a party’s failure to comply with Article 151 of the Family Code before filing a as the certification to file action by the barangay chairman, is sufficient compliance
complaint against a family member would render such complaint premature. with article 151 of the Family Code. It bears stressing that under Section 412(a) of
Republic Act No. 7160, no complaint involving any matter within the authority of
the Lupon shall be instituted or filed directly in court for adjudication unless there has
In this case, the decision of the CA that the petitioners were mandated to comply with been a confrontation between the parties and no settlement was reached.26
Article 151 of the Family code and that they failed to do so is erroneous.

IN LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the petition is GRANTED. The Decision of the
First. Petitioner Lucila Martinez, the respondent’s sister-in-law, was one of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 59420 is REVERSED AND SET ASIDE. The
plaintiffs in the MTC. The petitioner is not a member of the same family as that of her Decision of the Metropolitan Trial Court of Manila, as affirmed on appeal by the
deceased husband and the respondent: Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 30, in Civil Case No. 164761(CV) is
REINSTATED. No costs.
As regards plaintiff’s failure to seek a compromise, as an alleged obstacle to the
present case, Art. 222 of our Civil Code provides: SO ORDERED.

"No suit shall be filed or maintained between members of the same family unless it
should appear that earnest efforts toward a compromise have been made, but that the
same have failed, subject to the limitations in Article 2035."

It is noteworthy that the impediment arising from this provision applies to suits "filed or
maintained betweenmembers of the same family." This phrase, "members of the same
family," should, however, be construed in the light of Art. 217 of the same Code,
pursuant to which:

"Family relations shall include those:

(1) Between husband and wife;

(2) Between parent and child;

(3) Among other ascendants and their descendants;


brothers; that the decision of the Intermediate Appellate Court in Land Registration
Case No. N-581-25 was null and void since it was based upon a ground which was
not passed upon by the trial court; that petitioners' claim for damages was barred by
Republic of the Philippines prescription with respect to claims before 1984; that there were no rentals due since
SUPREME COURT private respondent Hontiveros was a possessor in good faith and for value; and that
Manila private respondent Ayson had nothing to do with the case as she was not married to
private respondent Gregorio Hontiveros and did not have any proprietary interest in
SECOND DIVISION the subject property. Private respondents prayed for the dismissal of the complaint
and for an order against petitioners to pay damages to private respondents by way of
counterclaim, as well as reconveyance of the subject land to private respondents. 3

On May 16, 1991, petitioners filed an Amended Complaint to insert therein an


G.R. No. 125465 June 29, 1999 allegation that "earnest efforts towards a compromise have been made between the
parties but the same were unsuccessful."
SPOUSES AUGUSTO HONTIVEROS and MARIA HONTIVEROS, petitioners,
vs. In due time, private respondents filed an Answer to Amended Complaint with
REGIONAL TRIAL COURT, Branch 25, Iloilo City and SPOUSES GREGORIO Counterclaim, in which they denied, among other things, that earnest efforts had been
HONTIVEROS and TEODORA AYSON, respondents. made to reach a compromise but the parties was unsuccessful.

On July 19, 1995, petitioners moved for a judgment on the pleadings on the ground
that private respondents' answer did not tender an issue or that it otherwise admitted
MENDOZA, J.: the material allegations of the complaint. 4 Private respondents opposed the motion
alleging that they had denied petitioners' claims and thus tendered certain issues of
fact which could only be resolved after
On December 3, 1990, petitioners, the spouses Augusto and Maria Hontiveros, filed a trial. 5
complaint for damages against private respondents Gregorio Hontiveros and Teodora
Ayson before the Regional Trial Court of Iloilo City, Branch 25, where it was docketed
as Civil Case No. 19504. In said complaint, petitioners alleged that they are the On November 23, 1995, the trial court denied petitioners' motion. At the same time,
owners of a parcel of land, in the town of Jamindan, Province of Capiz, as shown by however, it dismissed the case on the ground that the complaint was not verified as
OCT No. 0-2124, issued pursuant to the decision of the Intermediate. Appellate Court, required by Art. 151 of the Family Code and, therefore, it did not believe that earnest
dated April 12, 1984, which modified the decision of the Court of First Instance of efforts had been made to arrive at a compromise. The order of the trial court reads: 6
Capiz, dated January 23, 1975, in a land registration case 1 filed by private respondent
Gregorio Hontiveros; that petitioners were deprived of income from the land as a The Court, after an assessment of the diverging views and
result of the filing of the land registration case; that such income consisted of rentals arguments presented by both parties, is of the opinion and so
from tenants of the land in the amount of P66,000.00 per year from 1968 to 1987, and holds that judgment on the pleadings is inappropriate not only for
P595,000.00 per year thereafter; and that private respondents filed the land the fact that the defendants in their answer, particularly in its
registration case and withheld possession of the land from petitioners in bad faith. 2 paragraph 3 to the amended complaint, specifically denied the
claim of damages against them, but also because of the ruling in
In their answer, private respondents denied that they were married and alleged that De Cruz vs. Cruz, G.R. No. 27759, April 17, 1970 (32 SCRA
private respondent Hontiveros was a widower while private respondent Ayson was 307), citing Rili vs. Chunaco, 98 Phil. 505, which ruled that the
single. They denied that they had deprived petitioners of possession of and income party claiming damages must satisfactorily prove the amount
from the land. On the contrary, they alleged that possession of the property in thereof and that though the rule is that failure to specifically deny
question had already been transferred to petitioners on August 7, 1985, by virtue of a the allegations in the complaint or counter-claim is deemed an
writ of possession, dated July 18, 1985, issued by the clerk of court of the Regional admission of said allegations, there is however an exception to it,
Trial Court of Capiz, Mambusao, the return thereof having been received by that is, that when the allegations refer to the amount of damages,
petitioners' counsel; that since then, petitioners have been directly receiving rentals the allegations must still be proved. This ruling is in accord with
from the tenants of the land, that the complaint failed to state a cause of action since it the provision of Section 1, Rule 9 of the Rules of Court.
did not allege that earnest efforts towards a compromise had been made, considering
that petitioner Augusto Hontiveros and private respondent Gregorio Hontiveros are
That while the plaintiffs in their amended complaint alleged that I. THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT
earnest efforts towards a compromise with the defendants were PALPABLY ERRED IN DISMISSING THE
made, the fact is that their complaint was not verified as provided COMPLAINT ON THE GROUND THAT IT
in Article 151 of the Family Code. Besides, it is not believed that DOES NOT ALLEGE UNDER OATH THAT
there were indeed earnest efforts made to patch up and/or EARNEST EFFORTS TOWARD A
reconcile the two feuding brothers, Gregorio and Augusto, both COMPROMISE WERE MADE PRIOR TO
surnamed Hontiveros. THE FILING THEREOF AS REQUIRED BY
ARTICLE 151 OF THE FAMILY CODE.
The submission of the plaintiffs that, assuming no such earnest
efforts were made, the same is not necessary or jurisdictional in II. THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT
the light of the ruling in Rufino Magbaleta, et al., PALPABLY ERRED IN NOT DENYING THE
petitioner, vs. Hon. Arsenio M. Ganong, et al., respondents, No. MOTION FOR JUDGMENT ON THE
L-44903, April 22, 1977, is, to the mind of this Court, not PLEADINGS AND ORDERING A TRIAL ON
applicable to the case at bar for the fact is the rationale in that THE MERITS.
case is not present in the instant case considering these salient
points:
Private respondents raise a preliminary question. They argue that petitioners should
have brought this case on appeal to the Court of Appeals since the order of the trial
a) Teodora Ayson, the alleged wife of defendant Gregorio court judge was actually a decision on the merits. On the other hand, even if petition
Hontiveros and allegedly not a member of the Hontiveros Family, for certiorari were the proper remedy, they contend that the petition is defective
is not shown to be really the wife of Gregorio also denied in their because the judge of the trial court has not been impleaded as a respondent. 8
verified answer to the amended complaint.
Private respondents' contention is without merit. The petition in this case was filed
b) Teodora Ayson has not been shown to have acquired any pursuant to Rule 45 of the Rules of Court. As explained in Atlas Consolidated Mining
proprietary right or interest in the land that was litigated by Development Corporation v. Court of Appeals: 9
Gregorio and Augusto, unlike the cited case of Magbaleta where it
was shown that a stranger to the family acquired certain right;
Under Section 5, subparagraph (2)(e), Article VIII of the 1987
Constitution, the Supreme Court is vested with the power to
c) In the decision rendered by the appellate court no mention was review, revise, reverse, modify, or affirm on appeal or certiorari as
made at all of the name of Teodora Ayson as part-awardee of Lot the law or the Rules of Court may provide, final judgments and
37 that was adjudged to Gregorio other than himself who was orders of lower courts in all cases in which only an error or
therein described as a widower. Moreover, Teodora was never question of law is involved. A similar provision is contained in
mentioned in said decision, nor in the amended complaint and in Section 17, fourth paragraph, subparagraph (4) of the Judiciary
the amended motion for judgment on the pleadings that she ever Act of 1948, as amended by Republic Act No. 5440. And, in such
took any part in the act of transaction that gave rise to the cases where only questions of law are involved, Section 25 of the
damages allegedly suffered by the plaintiffs for which they now Interim Rules and Guidelines implementing Batas Pambansa Blg.
claim some compensation. 129, in conjunction with Section 3 of Republic Act No. 5440,
provides that the appeal to the Supreme Court shall be taken by
petition for certiorari which shall be governed by Rule 45 of the
WHEREFORE, in the light of all the foregoing premises, the Court
Rules of Court.
orders, as it hereby orders, the dismissal of this case with cost
against the plaintiffs.
The rule, therefore, is that direct appeals to this Court from the
trial court on questions of law have to be through the filing of a
SO ORDERED.
petition for review on certiorari. It has been held that:

Petitioners moved for a reconsideration of the order of dismissal, but their motion was
. . . when a CFI (RTC) adjudicates a case in
denied. 7 Hence, this petition for review on certiorari. Petitioner contend:
the exercise of its original jurisdiction, the
correct mode of elevating the judgment to the
Court of Appeals is by ordinary appeal, or of and left nothing more to be done by the trial court except the
appeal by writ of error, involving merely the execution of the order. It is a firmly settled rule that the remedy
filing of a notice of appeal — except only if against such order is the remedy of appeal and not certiorari.
the appeal is taken in special proceedings That appeal may be solely on questions of law, in which case it
and other cases wherein multiple appeals are may be taken only to this Court; or on questions of fact and law, in
allowed under the law, in which even the which case the appeal should be brought to the Court of Appeals.
filing of a record on appeal is additionally Pursuant to Murillo v. Consul, the appeal to this Court should be
required. Of course, when the appeal would by petition for review on certiorari in accordance with Rule 45 of
involve purely questions of law or any of the the Rules of Court.
other cases (except criminal cases as stated
hereunder) specified in Section 5(2), Article X
As private respondents themselves admit, the order of November 23, 1995 is a final
of the Constitution, it should be taken to the
order from which an appeal can be taken. It is final in the sense that it disposes of the
Supreme Court by petition for review
pending action before the court and puts an end to the litigation so that nothing more
oncertiorari in accordance with Rules 42 and
was left for the trial court to do. 11 Furthermore, as the questions raised as the
45 of the Rules of Court.
questions of law, petition for review on certiorari is the proper mode of appeal. These
questions are: (1) whether after denying petitioners' motion for judgment on the
By way of implementation of the aforestated provisions of law, this pleadings, the trial court could dismiss their complaint motu proprio for failure to
Court issued on March 9, 1930 Circular No. 2-90, paragraph 2 of comply with Art. 151 of the Family Code which provides that no suit between members
which provides: of the same family shall prosper unless it appears from the complaint, which must be
verified, that earnest efforts towards a compromise have been made but the same
have failed; and (2) whether Art. 151 applies to this case. These questions do not
2. Appeals from Regional Courts to the
require an examination of the probative value of evidence presented and the truth or
Supreme Court. — Except in criminal cases
falsehood of facts asserted which questions of fact would entail. 12
where the penalty imposed is life
imprisonment or reclusion perpetua,
judgments of regional trial courts may be On the other hand, petitioners contend that the trial court erred in dismissing the
appealed to the Supreme Court only by complaint when no motion to that effect was made by any of the parties. They point
petition for review oncertiorari in accordance out that, in opposing the motion for judgment on the pleadings, private respondents
with Rule 45 of the Rules of Court in relation did not seek the dismissal of the case but only the denial of petitioners' motion.
to Section 17 of the Judiciary Act of 1948, as Indeed, what private respondents asked was that trial be held on the merits.
amended, this being the clear intendment of
the provision of the Interim Rules that
Of course, there are instances when the trial court may order the dismissal of the case
(a)ppeals to the Supreme Court shall be
even without a motion to that effect filed by any of the parties. In Baja v.
taken by petition for certiorariwhich shall be
Macandog, 13 this Court mentioned these cases, to wit:
governed by Rule 45 of the Rules of Court.

The court cannot dismiss a case motu proprio without violating


Under the foregoing considerations, therefore, the inescapable
the plaintiff's right to be heard, except in the following instances: if
conclusion is that herein petitioner adopted the correct mode of
the plaintiff fails to appear at the time of the trial; if he fails to
appeal in G.R. No. 88354 by filing with this Court petition to
prosecute his action for unreasonable length of time; or if he fails
review oncertiorari the decision of the Regional Trail Court of
to comply with the rules or any order of the court; or if the court
Pasig in Civil Case No. 25528 and raising therein purely
finds that it has no jurisdiction over the subject matter of the suit.
questions of law.

However, none of these exceptions appears in this case.


In Meneses v. Court of Appeals, it was held: 10

Moreover, the trial court itself found that "judgment on the pleadings is inappropriate
It must also be stressed that the trial court's order of 5 June 1992
not only for the fact that [private respondents] in their answer . . . specifically denied
dismissing the petitioner's complaint was, whether it was right or
the claim of damages against them, but also because of the [rule] . . . that the party
wrong, a final order because it had put an end to the particular
matter resolved, or settled definitely the matter therein disposed
claiming damages must satisfactorily prove the amount thereof. . . . " Necessarily, a the same have failed. It if is shown that no such efforts were in
trial must be held. fact made, the case must be dismissed.

Rule 19 of the Rules of Court provides: 14 This rule shall not apply to cases which may not be the subject of
compromise under the Civil Code.
Sec. 1. Judgment on the pleadings. — Where an answer fails to
tender an issue, or otherwise admits the material allegation of the Moreover, as petitioners contend, Art. 151 of the Family Code does not apply in this
adverse party's pleadings, the court may, on motion of the party, case since the suit is not exclusively among the family members. Citing several
direct judgment on such pleading. But in actions for annulment of cases 18 decided by this Court, petitioners claim that whenever a stranger is a party in
marriage or for legal separation the material facts alleged in the the case involving the family members, the requisite showing the earnest efforts to
complaint shall always be proved. compromise is no longer mandatory. They argue that since private respondent Ayson
is admittedly a stranger to the Hontiveros family, the case is not covered by the
requirements of Art. 151 of the Family Code.
Under the rules, if there is no controverted matter in the case after the
answer is filed, the trial court has the discretion to grant a motion for
judgment on the pleadings filed by a party. 15 When there are actual issues We agree with petitioners. The inclusion of private respondent Ayson as defendant
raised in the answer, such as one involving damages, which require the and petitioner Maria Hontiveros as plaintiff takes the case out of the ambit of Art. 151
presentation of evidence and assessment thereof by the trial court, it is of the Family Code. Under this provision, the phrase "members of the same family"
improper for the judge to render judgment based on the pleadings refers to the husband and wife, parents and children, ascendants and descendants,
alone. 16 In this case, aside from the amount of damages, the following and brothers and sisters, whether full or half-blood. 19 As this Court held in Guerrero v.
factual issues have to be resolved, namely, (1) private respondent Teodora RTC, Ilocos Norte, Br. XVI: 20
Ayson's participation and/or liability, if any to petitioners and (2) the nature,
extent, and duration of private respondents' possession of the subject
As early as two decades ago, we already ruled in Gayon v.
property. The trial court, therefore, correctly denied petitioners' motion for
Gayon that the enumeration of "brothers and sisters" as member
judgment on the pleadings.
of the same family does not comprehend "sisters-in-law." In that
case, then Chief Justice Concepcion emphasized that "sisters-in-
However, the trial court erred in dismissing petitioners' complaint on the ground that, law" (hence, also "brother-in-law") are not listed under Art. 217 of
although it alleged that earnest efforts had been made toward the settlement of the the New Civil Code as members of the same family. Since Art.
case but they proved futile, the complaint was not verified for which reason the trial 150 of the Family Code repeats essentially the same enumeration
court could not believe the veracity of the allegation. of "members of the family," we find no reason to alter existing
jurisprudence on the mater. Consequently, the court a quo erred
in ruling that petitioner Guerrero, being a brother-in-law of private
The absence of the verification required in Art. 151 does not affect the jurisdiction of
respondent Hernando, was required to exert earnest efforts
the court over the subject matter of the complaint. The verification is merely a formal
towards a compromise before filing the present suit.
requirement intended to secure an assurance that matters which are alleged are true
and correct. If the court doubted the veracity of the allegations regarding efforts made
to settle the case among members of the same family, it could simply have ordered Religious relationship and relationship by affinity are not given any legal
petitioners to verify them. As this Court has already ruled, the court may simply order effect in this jurisdiction. 21 Consequently, private respondent Ayson, who is
the correction of unverified pleadings or act on it and waive strict compliance with the described in the complaint as the spouse of respondent Hontiveros, and
rules in order that the ends of justice may be served. 17 Otherwise, mere suspicion or petitioner Maria Hontiveros, who is admittedly the spouse of petitioner
doubt on the part of the trial court as to the truth of the allegation that earnest efforts Augusto Hontiveros, are considered strangers to the Hontiveros family, for
had been made toward a compromise but the parties' efforts proved unsuccessful is purposes of Art. 151.
not a ground for the dismissal of an action. Only if it is later shown that such efforts
had not really been exerted would the court be justified in dismissing the action. Thus,
Petitioners finally question the constitutionality of Art. 151 of the Family Code on the
Art. 151 provides:
ground that it in effect amends the Rules of Court. This, according to them, cannot be
done since the Constitution reserves in favor of the Supreme Court the power to
No suit between members of the same family shall prosper unless promulgate rules of pleadings and procedure. Considering the conclusion we have
it should appear from the verified complaint or petition that reached in this case, however, it is unnecessary for present purposes to pass upon
earnest efforts toward a compromise have been made, but that
this question. Courts do not pass upon constitutional questions unless they are the Troadio Manalo, a resident of 1996 Maria Clara Street, Sampaloc, Manila died
very lis mota of the case. intestate on February 14, 1992. He was survived by his wife, Pilar S. Manalo, and his
eleven (11) children, namely: Purita M. Jayme, Antonio Manalo, Milagros M. Terre,
Belen M. Orillano, Isabelita Manalo, Rosalina M. Acuin, Romeo Manalo, Roberto
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED and the Order, dated November 23, 1995 of
Manalo, Amalia Manalo, Orlando Manalo and Imelda Manalo, who are all of legal
the Regional Trial Court of Iloilo City, Branch 25 is SET ASIDE and the case is
age.1âwphi1.nêt
remanded to the trial court for further proceedings not inconsistent with this
decision.1âwphi1.nêt
At the time of his death on February 14, 1992, Troadio Manalo left several real
properties located in Manila and in the province of Tarlac including a business under
SO ORDERED.
the name and style Manalo's Machine Shop with offices at No. 19 Calavite Street, La
Loma, Quezon City and at NO. 45 General Tinio Street, Arty Subdivision, Valenzuela,
Metro Manila.

On November 26, 1992, herein respondents, who are eight (8) of the surviving
children of the late Troadio Manalo, namely; Purita, Milagros, Belen Rocalina, Romeo,
Roberto, Amalia, and Imelda filed a petition 6 with the respondent Regional Trial Court
of Manila 7 of the judicial settlement of the estate of their late father, Troadio Manalo,
and for the appointment of their brother, Romeo Manalo, as administrator thereof.

Republic of the Philippines On December 15, 1992, the trial court issued an order setting the said petition for
SUPREME COURT hearing on February 11, 1993 and directing the publication of the order for three (3)
Manila consecutive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation in Metro Manila, and further
directing service by registered mail of the said order upon the heirs named in the
petition at their respective addresses mentioned therein.
SECOND DIVISION
On February 11, 1993, the date set for hearing of the petition, the trial court issued an
G.R. NO. 129242 January 16, 2001 order 'declaring the whole world in default, except the government," and set the
reception of evidence of the petitioners therein on March 16, 1993. However, the trial
court upon motion of set this order of general default aside herein petitioners
PILAR S. VDA. DE MANALO, ANTONIO S. MANALO, ORLANDO S. MANALO, and
(oppositors therein) namely: Pilar S. Vda. De Manalo, Antonio, Isabelita and Orlando
ISABELITA MANALO ,petitioners,
who were granted then (10) days within which to file their opposition to the petition.
vs.
HON. COURT OF APPEALS, HON. REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF MANILA
(BRANCH 35), PURITA S. JAYME, MILAGROS M. TERRE, BELEN M. ORILLANO, Several pleadings were subsequently filed by herein petitioners, through counsel,
ROSALINA M. ACUIN, ROMEO S. MANALO, ROBERTO S. MANALO, AMALIA culminating in the filling of an Omnibus Motion8 on July 23, 1993 seeking; (1) to seat
MANALO and IMELDA MANALO, respondents. aside and reconsider the Order of the trial court dated July 9, 1993 which denied the
motion for additional extension of time file opposition; (2) to set for preliminary hearing
their affirmative defenses as grounds for dismissal of the case; (3) to declare that the
DE LEON, JR., J.:
trial court did not acquire jurisdiction over the persons of the oppositors; and (4) for the
immediate inhibition of the presiding judge.
This is a petition for review on certiorari filed by petitioners Pilar S. Vda De Manalo, et.
Al., seeking to annul the Resolution 1 of the Court of Appeals 2 affirming the Orders 3 of
On July 30, 1993, the trial court issued an order9 which resolved, thus:
the Regional Trial Court and the Resolution 4 which denied petitioner' motion for
reconsideration.
A. To admit the so-called Opposition filed by counsel for the oppositors on
5 July 20, 1993, only for the purpose of considering the merits thereof;
The antecedent facts are as follows:
B. To deny the prayer of the oppositors for a preliminary hearing of their Par. 8. xxx the said surviving son continued to manage and control the
affirmative defenses as ground for the dismissal of this proceeding, said properties aforementioned, without proper accounting, to his own benefit
affirmative defenses being irrelevant and immaterial to the purpose and and advantage xxx.
issue of the present proceeding;
X X X
C. To declare that this court has acquired jurisdiction over the persons of
the oppositors;
Par. 12. That said ANTONIO MANALO is managing and controlling the
estate of the deceased TROADIO MANALO to his own advantage and to
D. To deny the motion of the oppositors for the inhibition of this Presiding the damage and prejudice of the herein petitioners and their co-heirs xxx.
Judge;
X X X
E. To set the application of Romeo Manalo for appointment as regular
administrator in the intestate estate of the deceased Troadio Manalo for
Par. 14. For the protection of their rights and interests, petitioners were
hearing on September 9, 1993 at 2:00 o'clock in the afternoon.
compelled to bring this suit and were forced to litigate and incur expenses
and will continue to incur expenses of not less than, P250,000.00 and
Herein petitioners filed a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court with engaged the services of herein counsel committing to pay P200,000.00 as
the Court of Appeals, docketed as CA-G.R. SP. No. 39851, after the trial court in its and attorney's fees plus honorarium of P2,500.00 per appearance in court
Order 10dated September 15, 1993. In their petition for improperly laid in SP. PROC. xxx.13
No. 92-63626; (2) the trial court did not acquire jurisdiction over their persons; (3) the
share of the surviving spouse was included in the intestate proceedings; (4) there was
Consequently, according to herein petitioners, the same should be dismissed under
absence of earnest efforts toward compromise among members of the same family;
Rule 16, Section 1(j) of the Revised Rules of Court which provides that a motion to
and (5) no certification of non-forum shopping was attached to the petition.
dismiss a complaint may be filed on the ground that a condition precedent for filling
the claim has not been complied with, that is, that the petitioners therein failed to aver
Finding the contentions untenable, the Court of Appeals dismissed the petition for in the petition in SP. PROC. No. 92-63626, that earnest efforts toward a compromise
certiorari in its Resolution11 promulgated on September 30, 1996. On May 6, 1997 the have been made involving members of the same family prior to the filling of the
motion for reconsideration of the said resolution was likewise dismissed.12 petition pursuant to Article 222 14 of the Civil Code of the Philippines.

The only issue raised by herein petitioners in the instant petition for review is whether The instant petition is not impressed with merit.
or not the respondent Court of Appeals erred in upholding the questioned orders of
the respondent trial court which denied their motion for the outright dismissal of the
It is a fundamental rule that in the determination of the nature of an action or
petition for judicial settlement of estate despite the failure of the petitioners therein to
proceeding, the averments15 and the character of the relief sought 16 in the complaint,
aver that earnest efforts toward a compromise involving members of the same family
or petition, as in the case at bar, shall be controlling. A careful srutiny of the Petition
have been made prior to the filling of the petition but that the same have failed.
for Issuance of Letters of Administration, Settlement and Distribution of Estatein SP.
PROC. No. 92-63626 belies herein petitioners' claim that the same is in the nature of
Herein petitioners claim that the petition in SP. PROC. No. 92-63626 is actually an an ordinary civil action. The said petition contains sufficient jurisdictional facts required
ordinary civil action involving members of the same family. They point out that it in a petition for the settlement of estate of a deceased person such as the fat of death
contains certain averments, which, according to them, are indicative of its adversarial of the late Troadio Manalo on February 14, 1992, as well as his residence in the City
nature, to wit: of Manila at the time of his said death. The fact of death of the decedent and of his
residence within he country are foundation facts upon which all the subsequent
proceedings in the administration of the estate rest.17 The petition is SP.PROC No. 92-
X X X
63626 also contains an enumeration of the names of his legal heirs including a
tentative list of the properties left by the deceased which are sought to be settled in
Par. 7. One of the surviving sons, ANTONIO MANALO, since the death of the probate proceedings. In addition, the relief's prayed for in the said petition leave no
his father, TROADIO MANALO, had not made any settlement, judicial or room for doubt as regard the intention of the petitioners therein (private respondents
extra-judicial of the properties of the deceased father TROADIO MANALO. herein) to seek judicial settlement of the estate of their deceased father, Troadio
Manalo, to wit;
PRAYER same by virtue of ule 1, Section 2 of the Rules of Court which provides that the 'rules
shall be liberally construed in order to promote their object and to assist the parties in
obtaining just, speedy and inexpensive determination of every action and
WHEREFORE, premises considered, it is respectfully prayed for of this Honorable
proceedings.' Petitioners contend that the term "proceeding" is so broad that it must
Court:
necessarily include special proceedings.

a. That after due hearing, letters of administration be issued to petitioner


The argument is misplaced. Herein petitioners may not validly take refuge under the
ROMEO MANALO for the administration of the estate of the deceased
provisions of Rule 1, Section 2, of the Rules of Court to justify the invocation of Article
TROADIO MANALO upon the giving of a bond in such reasonable sum that
222 of the Civil Code of the Philippines for the dismissal of the petition for settlement
this Honorable Court may fix.
of the estate of the deceased Troadio Manalo inasmuch as the latter provision is clear
enough. To wit:
b. That after all the properties of the deceased TROADIO MANALO have
been inventoried and expenses and just debts, if any, have been paid and
Art. 222. No suit shall be filed or maintained between members of the same family
the legal heirs of the deceased fully determined, that the said estate of
unless it should appear that earnest efforts toward a compromise have been made,
TROADIO MANALO be settled and distributed among the legal heirs all in
but that the same have failed, subject to the limitations in Article 2035(underscoring
accordance with law.
supplied).22

c. That the litigation expenses of these proceedings in the amount of


The above-quoted provision of the law is applicable only to ordinary civil actions. This
P250,000.00 and attorney's fees in the amount of P300,000.00 plus
is clear from the term 'suit' that it refers to an action by one person or persons against
honorarium of P2,500.00 per appearance in court in the hearing and trial of
another or other in a court of justice in which the plaintiff pursues the remedy which
this case and costs of suit be taxed solely against ANTONIO MANALO.18
the law affords him for the redress of an injury or the enforcement of a right, whether
at law or in equity. 23 A civil action is thus an action filed in a court of justice, whereby a
Concededly, the petition in SP. PROC. No. 92-63626 contains certain averments party sues another for the enforcement of a right, or the prevention or redress of a
which may be typical of an ordinary civil action. Herein petitioners, as oppositors wrong.24 Besides, an excerpt form the Report of the Code Commission unmistakably
therein, took advantage of the said defect in the petition and filed their so-called reveals the intention of the Code Commission to make that legal provision applicable
Opposition thereto which, as observed by the trial court, is actually an Answer only to civil actions which are essentially adversarial and involve members of the
containing admissions and denials, special and affirmative defenses and compulsory same family, thus:
counterclaims for actual, moral and exemplary damages, plus attorney's fees and
costs 19 in an apparent effort to make out a case of an ordinary civil action and
It is difficult to imagine a sadder and more tragic spectacle than a litigation
ultimately seek its dismissal under Rule 16, Section 1(j) of the Rules of Court vis-à-
between members of the same family. It is necessary that every effort
vis, Article 222 of civil of the Civil Code.
should be made toward a compromise before litigation is allowed to breed
hate and passion in the family. It is know that lawsuit between close
It is our view that herein petitioners may not be allowed to defeat the purpose of the relatives generates deeper bitterness than stranger.25
essentially valid petition for the settlement of the estate of the late Troadio Manalo by
raising matters that as irrelevant and immaterial to the said petition. It must be
It must be emphasized that the oppositors (herein petitioners) are not being sued in
emphasized that the trial court, siting as a probate court, has limited and special
SP. PROC. No. 92-63626 for any cause of action as in fact no defendant was
jurisdiction 20 and cannot hear and dispose of collateral matters and issues which may
imploded therein. The Petition for issuance of letters of Administration, Settlement and
be properly threshed out only in an ordinary civil action. In addition, the rule has
Distribution of Estate in SP. PROC. No. 92-63626 is a special proceeding and, as
always been to the effect that the jurisdiction of a court, as well as the concomitant
such, it is a remedy whereby the petitioners therein seek to establish a status, a right,
nature of an action, is determined by the averments in the complaint and not by the
or a particular fact. 26 the petitioners therein (private respondents herein) merely seek
defenses contained in the answer. If it were otherwise, it would not be too difficult to
to establish the fat of death of their father and subsequently to be duly recognized as
have a case either thrown out of court or its proceedings unduly delayed by simple
among the heirs of the said deceased so that they can validly exercise their right to
strategem.21 So it should be in the instant petition for settlement of estate.
participate in the settlement and liquidation of the estate of the decedent consistent
with the limited and special jurisdiction of the probate court.1âwphi1.nêt
Herein petitioners argue that even if the petition in SP. PROC. No. 92-63626 were to
be considered as a special proceeding for the settlement of estate of a deceased
WHEREFORE, the petition in the above-entitled case, is DENIED for lack of merit,
person, Rule 16, Section 1(j) of the Rules of Court vis-à-vis Article 222 of the Civil
Costs against petitioners.
Code of the Philippines would nevertheless apply as a ground for the dismissal of the
SO ORDERED. Albano in filing the malpractice charge is in effect asking this Court to take belated
disciplinary action against Judge Gapusan as a member of the bar or as a notary. (He
was admitted to the bar in 1937).

There is no question that the covenents contained in the said separation agreement
Republic of the Philippines are contrary to law, morals and good customs (Biton vs. Momongan, 62 Phil. 7).
SUPREME COURT Those stipulations undermine the institutions of marriage and the family, "Marriage is
Manila not a mere contract but an inviolable social institution". "The family is a basic social
institution which public policy cherishes and protects." (Arts. 52 and 216, Civil Code).
SECOND DIVISION Marriage and the family are the bases of human society throughout the civilized world
(Adong vs. Cheong Seng Gee, 43 Phil. 43; Ramirez vs. Gmur, 42 Phil. 855, 864;
Goitia vs. Campos Rueda, 35 Phil. 252, 254; Brown vs. Yambao, 102 Phil. 168).
A.M. No. 1022-MJ May 7, 1976

To preserve the institutions of marriage and the family, the law considers as void "any
REDENTOR ALBANO, complainant, contract for personal separation between husband and wife" and "every extrajudicial
vs. agreement, during the marriage, for the dissolution of the conjugal partnership" (Art.
MUNICIPAL JUDGE PATROCINIO C. GAPUSAN of Dumalneg, Ilocos 221, Civil Code). Before the new Civil Code, it was held that the extrajudicial
Norte, respondent. dissolution of the conjugal partnership without judicial sanction was void (Quintana vs.
Lerma, 24 Phil. 285; De Luna vs. Linatoc, 74 Phil. 15).
RESOLUTION
A notary should not facilitate the disintegration of a marriage and the family by
AQUINO, J.: encouraging the separation of the spouses and extrajudically dissolving the conjugal
partnership. Notaries were severely censured by this Court for notarizing documents
which subvert the institutions of marriage and the family (Selanova vs. Mendoza,
Redentor Albano in a verified complaint dated August 18, 1975 charged Municipal Adm. Matter No. 804-CJ, May 19, 1975, 64 SCRA 69; Miranda vs. Fuentes, Adm.
Judge Patrocinio C. Gapusan of Dumalneg and Adams, Ilocos Norte (1) with Case No. 241, April 30, 1966, 16 SCRA 802; Biton vs. Momongan, supra,,
incompetence and Ignorance of the law for having prepared and notarized a Panganiban vs. Borromeo, 58 Phil. 367; In re Santiago, 70 Phil. 66; Balinon vs. De
document providing for tile personal separation of husband and wife and the Leon, 94 Phil. 277).
extrajudicial liquidation of their conjugal partnership and (2) with having allegedly
influenced Judge Zacarias A. Crispin of the Court of First Instance of Ilocos Norte in
deciding two criminal cases. Respondent Gapusan as a member of the bar should be censured for having
notarized the void separation agreement already mentioned.

Malpractice as a notary. — In 1941 or five years before his appointment to the bench,
respondent Gapusan notarized a document for the personal separation of the spouses However, his notarization of that document does not warrant any disciplinary action
Valentina Andres and Guillermo Maligta of Barrio 6, Vintar, Ilocos Norte and for the against him as a municipal judge (he was appointed in 1946 as justice of the peace)
extrajudicial liquidation of their conjugal partnership. especially considering that his appointment to the judiciary was screened by the
Commission on Appointments (See Ty vs. San Diego, Adm. Matter No. 169-J, June
29, 1972).
It was stipulated in that document that if either spouse should commit adultery or
concubinage, as the case may be, then the other should refrain from filing an action
against the other. Alleged misconduct in influencing CFI Judge. — Albano complains that Judge
Gapusan took advantage of his intimacy with Judge Crispin. He implies that by reason
of that intimacy Judge Crispin acquitted of frustrated murder the defendants in
Judge Gapusan denied that he drafted the agreement. He explained that the spouses Criminal Case No. 102-III, People vs. Freddie Gapusan Gamboa, et al. and convicted
had been separated for a long time when they signed the separation agreement and Albano (complainant herein) of double frustrated murder with triple attempted murder
that the wife had begotten children with her paramour. He said that there was a in Criminal Case No. 70-III.
stipulation in the agreement that the spouses would live together in case of
reconciliation. His belief was that the separation agreement forestalled the occurrence
of violent incidents between the spouses. Albano said that Freddie Gapusan, an accused in the first criminal case above-
mentioned and a complaining witness in the other case against Albano, is a relative of
Judge Gapusan. He revealed that after the acquittal decision was rendered by Judge
Crispin in Criminal Case No. 102 III, the relatives of the accused in that case were
saying that their relationship to Judge Gapusan, a friend of Judge Crispin, proved to
be "worthwhile and useful".

Judge Gapusan admitted in his answer that he is close to Judge Crispin because they
used to be members of the Municipal Judges League (when it was headed by Judge
Crispin) and because the latter used to be an Executive Judge (with supervision over Republic of the Philippines
municipal judges). Respondent said that his association with Judge Crispin "was SUPREME COURT
purely official". Manila

Judge Gapusan also admitted that Freddie Gapusan is his distant relative. He denied FIRST DIVISION
that he influenced Judge Crispin in rendering his decisions in the two criminal cases.
G.R. No. 86355 May 31, 1990
It is manifest that Alliano's imputation that Judge Gapusan influenced Judge Crispin is
anchored on mere suspicion. If he has any evidence that Judge Crispin committed JOSE MODEQUILLO, petitioner,
any irregularity due to the alleged influence exerted by Judge Gapusan, then Albano vs.
should have complained against Judge Crispin's actuations. He should riot vent his ire HON. AUGUSTO V. BREVA FRANCISCO SALINAS, FLORIPER ABELLAN-
on Judge Gapusan alone. SALINAS, JUANITO CULAN-CULAN and DEPUTY SHERIFF FERNANDO
PLATA respondents.
When an officer or court allows itself to enter upon the sea of suspicion, it permits
itself to enter upon a sea which has no shore, and the embarkation is without a rudder Josefina Brandares-Almazan for petitioner.
or compass to control the direction or to ascertain its bearing." (Dy Keng vs. Collector
of Customs, 40 Phil, 118, 123).
ABC Law Offices for private respondents.

A person has freedom to choose his friends and to hobnob with them. It is not a crime
nor unethical per se for a municipal judge to fraternize with a Judge of the Court of
First Instance. Whether the fraternization resulted in an unjust verdict rendered by the
Judge of the Court of First Instance due to the sinister or corruptive influence of the GANCAYCO, J.:
municipal judge cannot be shown by mere inference, or conjecture. It should be
Substantiated by solid evidence. The unjustness of the decision should be indubitably
established. The issue in this petition is whether or not a final judgment of the Court of Appeals in
an action for damages may be satisfied by way of execution of a family home
constituted under the Family Code.
The second charge should be dismissed for being speculative and unfair to Judge
Crispin. (He retired in September, 1975).
The facts are undisputed.

WHEREFORE, the respondent, as a member of the bar, is for having notarized the
above-mentioned void agreement. The second charge is dismissed. On January 29, 1988, a judgment was rendered by the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R.
CV No. 09218 entitled"Francisco Salinas, et al. vs. Jose Modequillo, et al.," the
dispositive part of which read as follows:
SO ORDERED.

WHEREFORE, the decision under appeal should be, as it is


hereby, reversed and set aside. Judgment is hereby rendered
finding the defendants-appellees Jose Modequillo and Benito
Malubay jointly and severally liable to plaintiffs-appellants as
hereinbelow set forth. Accordingly, defendants-appellees are where the family home is built since 1969 prior to the commencement of this case and
ordered to pay jointly and severally to: as such is exempt from execution, forced sale or attachment under Articles 152 and
153 of the Family Code except for liabilities mentioned in Article 155 thereof, and that
the judgment debt sought to be enforced against the family home of defendant is not
1. Plaintiffs-appellants, the Salinas spouses:
one of those enumerated under Article 155 of the Family Code. As to the agricultural
land although it is declared in the name of defendant it is alleged to be still part of the
a. the amount of P30,000.00 by way of compensation for the public land and the transfer in his favor by the original possessor and applicant who
death of their son Audie Salinas; was a member of a cultural minority was not approved by the proper government
agency. An opposition thereto was filed by the plaintiffs.
b. P10,000.00 for the loss of earnings by reason of the death of
said Audie Salinas; In an order dated August 26, 1988, the trial court denied the motion. A motion for
reconsideration thereof was filed by defendant and this was denied for lack of merit on
September 2, 1988.
c. the sum of P5,000.00 as burial expenses of Audie Salinas; and

Hence, the herein petition for review on certiorari wherein it is alleged that the trial
d. the sum of P5,000.00 by way of moral damages. court erred and acted in excess of its jurisdiction in denying petitioner's motion to
quash and/or to set aside levy on the properties and in denying petitioner' motion for
2. Plaintiffs-appellants Culan-Culan: reconsideration of the order dated August 26, 1988. Petitioner contends that only a
question of law is involved in this petition. He asserts that the residential house and lot
was first occupied as his family residence in 1969 and was duly constituted as a family
a. the sum of P5,000.00 for hospitalization expenses of Renato home under the Family Code which took effect on August 4, 1988. Thus, petitioner
Culan- Culan; and argues that the said residential house and lot is exempt from payment of the obligation
enumerated in Article 155 of the Family Code; and that the decision in this case
b. P5,000.00 for moral damages. pertaining to damages arising from a vehicular accident took place on March 16, 1976
and which became final in 1988 is not one of those instances enumerated under
Article 155 of the Family Code when the family home may be levied upon and sold on
3. Both plaintiff-appellants Salinas and Culan-Culan, P7,000.00 execution. It is further alleged that the trial court erred in holding that the said house
for attorney's fees and litigation expenses. and lot became a family home only on August 4, 1988 when the Family Code became
effective, and that the Family Code cannot be interpreted in such a way that all family
All counterclaims and other claims are hereby dismissed. 1 residences are deemed to have been constituted as family homes at the time of their
occupancy prior to the effectivity of the said Code and that they are exempt from
execution for the payment of obligations incurred before the effectivity of said Code;
The said judgment having become final and executory, a writ of execution was issued and that it also erred when it declared that Article 162 of the Family Code does not
by the Regional Trial Court of Davao City to satisfy the said judgment on the goods state that the provisions of Chapter 2, Title V have a retroactive effect.
and chattels of the defendants Jose Modequillo and Benito Malubay at Malalag,
Davao del Sur.
Articles 152 and 153 of the Family Code provide as follows:
On July 7, 1988, the sheriff levied on a parcel of residential land located at Poblacion
Malalag, Davao del Sur containing an area of 600 square meters with a market value Art. 152. The family home, constituted jointly by the husband and
of P34,550.00 and assessed value of P7,570.00 per Tax Declaration No. 87008- the wife or by an unmarried head of a family, is the dwelling
01359, registered in the name of Jose Modequillo in the office of the Provincial house where they and their family reside, and the land on which it
Assessor of Davao del Sur; and a parcel of agricultural land located at Dalagbong is situated.
Bulacan, Malalag, Davao del Sur containing an area of 3 hectares with a market value
of P24,130.00 and assessed value of P9,650.00 per Tax Declaration No. 87-08-01848 Art. 153. The family home is deemed constituted on a house and
registered in the name of Jose Modequillo in the office of the Provincial Assessor of lot from the time it is occupied as a family residence. From the
Davao del Sur. 2 time of its constitution and so long as any of its beneficiaries
actually resides therein, the family home continues to be such and
A motion to quash and/or to set aside levy of execution was filed by defendant Jose is exempt from execution, forced sale or attachment except as
Modequillo alleging therein that the residential land located at Poblacion Malalag is hereinafter provided and to the extent of the value allowed by law.
Under the Family Code, a family home is deemed constituted on a house and lot from Is the family home of petitioner exempt from execution of the money judgment
the time it is occupied as a family residence. There is no need to constitute the same aforecited No. The debt or liability which was the basis of the judgment arose or was
judicially or extrajudicially as required in the Civil Code. If the family actually resides in incurred at the time of the vehicular accident on March 16, 1976 and the money
the premises, it is, therefore, a family home as contemplated by law. Thus, the judgment arising therefrom was rendered by the appellate court on January 29, 1988.
creditors should take the necessary precautions to protect their interest before Both preceded the effectivity of the Family Code on August 3, 1988. This case does
extending credit to the spouses or head of the family who owns the home. not fall under the exemptions from execution provided in the Family Code.

Article 155 of the Family Code also provides as follows: As to the agricultural land subject of the execution, the trial court correctly ruled that
the levy to be made by the sheriff shall be on whatever rights the petitioner may have
on the land.
Art. 155. The family home shall be exempt from execution, forced
sale or attachment except:
WHEREFORE, the petition is DISMISSED for lack of merit. No pronouncement as to
costs.
(1) For non-payment of taxes;

SO ORDERED.
(2) For debts incurred prior to the constitution of the family home;

Republic of the Philippines


(3) For debts secured by mortgages on the premises before or
SUPREME COURT
after such constitution; and
Manila

(4) For debts due to laborers, mechanics, architects, builders,


EN BANC
material men and others who have rendered service or furnished
material for the construction of the building.
G.R. No. L-2474 May 30, 1951
The exemption provided as aforestated is effective from the time of the constitution of
the family home as such, and lasts so long as any of its beneficiaries actually resides MARIANO ANDAL, assisted by mother Maria Dueñas as guardian ad litem, and
therein. MARIA DUEÑAS, plaintiffs,
vs.
EDUVIGIS MACARAIG, defendant.
In the present case, the residential house and lot of petitioner was not constituted as a
family home whether judicially or extrajudicially under the Civil Code. It became a
family home by operation of law only under Article 153 of the Family Code. It is Reyes and Dy-Liaco for appellants.
deemed constituted as a family home upon the effectivity of the Family Code on Tible, Tena and Borja for appellees.
August 3, 1988 not August 4, one year after its publication in the Manila Chronicle on
August 4, 1987 (1988 being a leap year).
BAUTISTA ANGELO, J.:

The contention of petitioner that it should be considered a family home from the time it
Mariano Andal, a minor, assisted by his mother Maria Dueñas, as guardian ad
was occupied by petitioner and his family in 1969 is not well- taken. Under Article 162
litem, brought an action in the Court of First Instance of Camarines Sur for the
of the Family Code, it is provided that "the provisions of this Chapter shall also govern
recovery of the ownership and possession of a parcel of land situated in the barrio of
existing family residences insofar as said provisions are applicable." It does not mean
Talacop, Calabanga, Camarines Sur.
that Articles 152 and 153 of said Code have a retroactive effect such that all existing
family residences are deemed to have been constituted as family homes at the time of
their occupation prior to the effectivity of the Family Code and are exempt from The complaint alleges that Mariano Andal is the surviving son of Emiliano Andal and
execution for the payment of obligations incurred before the effectivity of the Family Maria Dueñas; that Emiliano Andal died on September 24, 1942; that Emiliano Andal
Code. Article 162 simply means that all existing family residences at the time of the was the owner of the parcel of land in question having acquired it from his mother
effectivity of the Family Code, are considered family homes and are prospectively Eduvigis Macaraig by virtue of a donation propter nuptias executed by the latter in
entitled to the benefits accorded to a family home under the Family Code. Article 162 favor of the former; that Emiliano Andal had been in possession of the land from 1938
does not state that the provisions of Chapter 2, Title V have a retroactive effect.
up to 1942, when Eduvigis Macaraig, taking advantage of the abnormal situation then marriage. This presumption can only be rebutted by proof that it was physically
prevailing, entered the land in question. impossible for the husband to have had access to his wife during the first 120 days of
the 300 next preceding the birth of the child. Is there any evidence to prove that it was
physically impossible for Emiliano to have such access? Is the fact that Emiliano was
The lower court rendered judgment in favor of the plaintiffs (a) declaring Mariano
sick of tuberculosis and was so weak that he could hardly move and get up from his
Andal the legitimate son of Emiliano Andal and such entitled to inherit the land in
bed sufficient to overcome this presumption?
question; (b) declaring Mariano Andal owner of said land; and (c) ordering the
defendant to pay the costs of suit. Defendant took the case to this Court upon the plea
that only question of law are involved. Manresa on this point says:

It appears undisputed that the land in question was given by Eduvigis Macaraig to her Impossibility of access by husband to wife would include (1) absence during
son Emiliano Andal by virtue of a donation propter nuptias she has executed in his the initial period of conception, (2) impotence which is patent, continuing
favor on the occasion of his marriage to Maria Dueñas. If the son born to the couple is and incurable, and (3) imprisonment, unless it can be shown that
deemed legitimate, then he is entitled to inherit the land in question. If otherwise, then cohabitation took place through corrupt violation of prison regulations.
the land should revert back to Eduvigis Macaraig as the next of kin entitled to succeed Manresa, 492-500, Vol. I, cited by Dr. Arturo Tolentino in his book
him under the law. The main issue, therefore, to be determined hinges on the "Commentaries and Jurisprudence on the Civil Code, Vol. 1, p.90)."
legitimacy of Mariano Andal in so far as his relation to Emiliano Andal is concerned.
The determination of this issue much depends upon the relationship that had existed
There was no evidence presented that Emiliano Andal was absent during the initial
between Emiliano Andal and his wife during the period of conception of the child up to
period of conception, specially during the period comprised between August 21, 1942
the date of his birth in connection with the death of the alleged father Emiliano Andal.
and September 10, 1942, which is included in the 120 days of the 300 next preceding
the birth of the child Mariano Andal. On the contrary, there is enough evidence to
The following facts appear to have been proven: Emiliano Andal became sick of show that during that initial period, Emiliano Andal and his wife were still living under
tuberculosis in January 1941. Sometime thereafter, his brother, Felix, went to live in the marital roof. Even if Felix, the brother, was living in the same house, and he and
his house to help him work his house to help him work his farm. His sickness became the wife were indulging in illicit intercourse since May, 1942, that does not preclude
worse that on or about September 10, 1942, he became so weak that he could hardly cohabitation between Emiliano and his wife. We admit that Emiliano was already
move and get up from his bed. On September 10, 1942, Maria Duenas, his wife, suffering from tuberculosis and his condition then was so serious that he could hardly
eloped with Felix, and both went to live in the house of Maria's father, until the middle move and get up from bed, his feet were swollen and his voice hoarse. But experience
of 1943. Since May, 1942, Felix and Maria had sexual intercourse and treated each shows that this does not prevent carnal intercourse. There are cases where persons
other as husband and wife. On January 1, 1943, Emiliano died without the presence suffering from this sickness can do the carnal act even in the most crucial stage
of his wife, who did not even attend his funeral. On June 17, 1943, Maria Dueñas because they are more inclined to sexual intercourse. As an author has said, "the
gave birth to a boy, who was given the name of Mariano Andal. Under these facts, can reputation of the tuberculosis towards eroticism (sexual propensity) is probably
the child be considered as the legitimate son of Emiliano? dependent more upon confinement to bed than the consequences of the disease." (An
Integrated Practice of Medicine, by Hyman, Vol. 3, p.2202). There is neither evidence
to show that Emiliano was suffering from impotency, patent, continuous and incurable,
Article 108 of the Civil Code provides:
nor was there evidence that he was imprisoned. The presumption of legitimacy under
the Civil Code in favor of the child has not, therefore, been overcome.
Children born after the one hundred and eighty days next following that of
the celebration of marriage or within the three hundred days next following
We can obtain the same result viewing this case under section 68, par. (c) of Rule
its dissolution or the separation of the spouses shall be presumed to be
123, of the Rules of Court, which is practically based upon the same rai'son
legitimate.
d'etre underlying the Civil Code. Said section provides:

This presumption may be rebutted only by proof that it was physically


The issue of a wife cohabiting with the husband who is not impotent, is
impossible for the husband to have had access to his wife during the first
indisputably presumed to be legitimate, if not born within one hundred
one hundred and twenty days of the three hundred next preceding the birth
eighty days immediately succeeding the marriage, or after the expiration of
of the child.
three hundred days following its dissolution.

Since the boy was born on June 17, 1943, and Emiliano Andal died on January 1,
We have already seen that Emiliano and his wife were living together, or at least had
1943, that boy is presumed to be the legitimate son of Emiliano and his wife, he
access one to the other, and Emiliano was not impotent, and the child was born within
having been born within three hundred (300) days following the dissolution of the
three (300) days following the dissolution of the marriage. Under these facts no other The facts show that the spouses Vicente Benitez and Isabel Chipongian owned
presumption can be drawn than that the issue is legitimate. We have also seen that various properties especially in Laguna. Isabel died on April 25, 1982. Vicente
this presumption can only be rebutted by clear proof that it was physically or naturally followed her in the grave on November 13, 1989. He died intestate.
impossible for them to indulge in carnal intercourse. And here there is no such proof.
The fact that Maria Dueñas has committed adultery can not also overcome this
The fight for administration of Vicente's estate ensued. On September 24, 1990,
presumption (Tolentino's Commentaries on the Civil Code, Vol. I, p. 92).
private respondents Victoria Benitez-Lirio and Feodor Benitez Aguilar (Vicente's sister
and nephew, respectively) instituted Sp. Proc. No. 797 (90) before the RTC of San
In view of all the foregoing, we are constrained to hold that the lower court did not err Pablo City, 4th Judicial Region, Br. 30. They prayed for the issuance of letters of
in declaring Mariano Andal as the legitimate son of the spouses Emiliano Andal and administration of Vicente's estate in favor of private respondent Aguilar. They
Maria Dueñas. alleged, inter alia, viz.:

Wherefore, the decision appealed from is affirmed, without pronouncement as to xxx xxx xxx
costs.
4. The decedent is survived by no other heirs or relatives be they
ascendants or descendants, whether legitimate, illegitimate or
legally adopted; despite claims or representation to the contrary,
petitioners can well and truly establish, given the chance to do so,
that said decedent and his spouse Isabel Chipongian who pre-
deceased him, and whose estate had earlier been settled extra-
Republic of the Philippines judicial, were without issue and/or without descendants
SUPREME COURT whatsoever, and that one Marissa Benitez-Badua who was raised
Manila and cared by them since childhood is, in fact, not related to them
by blood, nor legally adopted, and is therefore not a legal heir; . . .
SECOND DIVISION
On November 2, 1990, petitioner opposed the petition. She alleged that she is the
sole heir of the deceased Vicente Benitez and capable of administering his estate.
The parties further exchanged reply and rejoinder to buttress their legal postures.

G.R. No. 105625 January 24, 1994


The trial court then received evidence on the issue of petitioner's heirship to the estate
of the deceased. Petitioner tried to prove that she is the only legitimate child of the
MARISSA BENITEZ-BADUA, petitioner, spouses Vicente Benitez and Isabel Chipongian. She submitted documentary
vs. evidence, among others: (1) her Certificate of Live Birth (Exh. 3); (2) Baptismal
COURT OF APPEALS, VICTORIA BENITEZ LIRIO AND FEODOR BENITEZ Certificate (Exh. 4); (3) Income Tax Returns and Information Sheet for Membership
AGUILAR, respondents. with the GSIS of the late Vicente naming her as his daughter (Exhs. 10 to 21); and (4)
School Records (Exhs. 5 & 6). She also testified that the said spouses reared an
continuously treated her as their legitimate daughter. On the other hand, private
Reynaldo M. Alcantara for petitioner.
respondents tried to prove, mostly thru testimonial evidence, that the said spouses
failed to beget a child during their marriage; that the late Isabel, then thirty six (36)
Augustus Cesar E. Azura for private respondents. years of age, was even referred to Dr. Constantino Manahan, a noted obstetrician-
gynecologist, for treatment. Their primary witness, Victoria Benitez-Lirio, elder sister of
the late Vicente, then 77 years of age, 2 categorically declared that petitioner was not
the biological child of the said spouses who were unable to physically procreate.

PUNO, J.:
On December 17, 1990, the trial court decided in favor of the petitioner. It dismissed
the private respondents petition for letters and administration and declared petitioner
This is a petition for review of the Decision of the 12th Division of the Court of Appeals as the legitimate daughter and sole heir of the spouses Vicente O. Benitez and Isabel
in CA-G.R. No. CV No. 30862 dated May 29, 1992. 1 Chipongian. The trial court relied on Articles 166 and 170 of the Family Code.
On appeal, however, the Decision of the trial court was reversed on May 29, 1992 by Petitioner's insistence on the applicability of Articles 164, 166, 170 and 171 of the
the 17th Division of the Court of Appeals. The dispositive portion of the Decision of the Family Code to the case at bench cannot be sustained. These articles provide:
appellate court states:
Art. 164. Children conceived or born during the marriage of the
WHEREFORE, the decision appealed from herein is REVERSED parents are legitimate.
and another one entered declaring that appellee Marissa Benitez
is not the biological daughter or child by nature of the spouse
Children conceived as a result of artificial insemination of the wife
Vicente O. Benitez and Isabel Chipongian and, therefore, not a
with sperm of the husband or that of a donor or both are likewise
legal heir of the deceased Vicente O. Benitez. Her opposition to
legitimate children of the husband and his wife, provided, that
the petition for the appointment of an administrator of the intestate
both of them authorized or ratified such insemination in a written
of the deceased Vicente O. Benitez is, consequently, DENIED;
instrument executed and signed by them before the birth of the
said petition and the proceedings already conducted therein
child. The instrument shall be recorded in the civil registry
reinstated; and the lower court is directed to proceed with the
together with the birth certificate of the child.
hearing of Special proceeding No. SP-797 (90) in accordance
with law and the Rules.
Art. 166. Legitimacy of child may be impugned only on the
following grounds:
Costs against appellee.

1) That it was physically impossible for the husband to have


SO ORDERED.
sexual intercourse with his wife within the first 120 days of the 300
days which immediately preceded the birth of the child because
In juxtaposition, the appellate court held that the trial court erred in applying Articles of:
166 and 170 of the Family Code.
a) the physical incapacity of the husband to
In this petition for review, petitioner contends: have sexual intercourse with his wife;

1. The Honorable Court of Appeals committed error of law and b) the fact that the husband and wife were
misapprehension of facts when it failed to apply the provisions, living separately in such a way that sexual
more particularly, Arts. 164, 166, 170 and 171 of the Family Code intercourse was not possible; or
in this case and in adopting and upholding private respondent's
theory that the instant case does not involve an action to impugn
c) serious illness of the husband, which
the legitimacy of a child;
absolutely prevented sexual intercourse.

2. Assuming arguendo that private respondents can question or


2) That it is proved that for biological or other scientific reasons,
impugn directly or indirectly, the legitimacy of Marissa's birth, still
the child could not have been that of the husband except in the
the respondent appellate Court committed grave abuse of
instance provided in the second paragraph of Article 164; or
discretion when it gave more weight to the testimonial evidence of
witnesses of private respondents whose credibility and demeanor
have not convinced the trial court of the truth and sincerity 3) That in case of children conceived through artificial
thereof, than the documentary and testimonial evidence of the insemination, the written authorization or ratification of either
now petitioner Marissa Benitez-Badua; parent was obtained through mistake, fraud, violence,
intimidation, or undue influence.
3. The Honorable Court of Appeals has decided the case in a way
not in accord with law or with applicable decisions of the supreme Art. 170. The action to impugn the legitimacy of the child shall be
Court, more particularly, on prescription or laches. brought within one year from the knowledge of the birth or its
recording in the civil register, if the husband or, in a proper case,
We find no merit to the petition.
any of his heirs, should reside in the city or municipality where the the legitimacy of a child, but an action of the private respondents
birth took place or was recorded. to claim their inheritance as legal heirs of their childless deceased
aunt. They do not claim that petitioner Violeta Cabatbat Lim is an
illegitimate child of the deceased, but that she is not the
If the husband or, in his default, all of his heirs do not reside at the
decedent's child at all. Being neither legally adopted child, nor an
place of birth as defined in the first paragraph or where it was
acknowledged natural child, nor a child by legal fiction of
recorded, the period shall be two years if they should reside in the
Esperanza Cabatbat, Violeta is not a legal heir of the deceased.
Philippines; and three years if abroad. If the birth of the child has
been concealed from or was unknown to the husband or his heirs,
the period shall be counted from the discovery or knowledge of We now come to the factual finding of the appellate court that petitioner was not the
the birth of the child or of the fact of registration of said birth, biological child or child of nature of the spouses Vicente Benitez and Isabel
which ever is earlier. Chipongian. The appellate court exhaustively dissected the evidence of the parties as
follows:
Art. 171. The heirs of the husband may impugn the filiation of the
child within the period prescribed in the preceding Article only in . . . And on this issue, we are constrained to say that appellee's
the following case: evidence is utterly insufficient to establish her biological and blood
kinship with the aforesaid spouses, while the evidence on record
is strong and convincing that she is not, but that said couple being
1) If the husband should die before the expiration of the period
childless and desirous as they were of having a child, the late
fixed for bringing his action;
Vicente O. Benitez took Marissa from somewhere while still a
baby, and without he and his wife's legally adopting her treated,
2) If he should die after the filing of the complaint, without having cared for, reared, considered, and loved her as their own true
desisted therefrom; or child, giving her the status as not so, such that she herself had
believed that she was really their daughter and entitled to inherit
from them as such.
3) If the child was born after the death of the husband.

The strong and convincing evidence referred to us are the following:


A careful reading of the above articles will show that they do not contemplate a
situation, like in the instant case, where a child is alleged not to be the child of nature
or biological child of a certain couple. Rather, these articles govern a situation where a First, the evidence is very cogent and clear that Isabel Chipongian
husband (or his heirs) denies as his own a child of his wife. Thus, under Article 166, it never became pregnant and, therefore, never delivered a child.
is the husband who can impugn the legitimacy of said child by proving: (1) it was Isabel's own only brother and sibling, Dr. Lino Chipongian,
physically impossible for him to have sexual intercourse, with his wife within the first admitted that his sister had already been married for ten years
120 days of the 300 days which immediately preceded the birth of the child; (2) that and was already about 36 years old and still she has not begotten
for biological or other scientific reasons, the child could not have been his child; (3) or still could not bear a child, so that he even had to refer her to
that in case of children conceived through artificial insemination, the written the late Dr. Constantino Manahan, a well-known and eminent
authorization or ratification by either parent was obtained through mistake, fraud, obstetrician-gynecologist and the OB of his mother and wife, who
violence, intimidation or undue influence. Articles 170 and 171 reinforce this reading treated his sister for a number of years. There is likewise the
as they speak of the prescriptive period within which the husband or any of his testimony of the elder sister of the deceased Vicente O. Benitez,
heirs should file the action impugning the legitimacy of said child. Doubtless then, the Victoria Benitez Lirio, who then, being a teacher, helped him (he
appellate court did not err when it refused to apply these articles to the case at bench. being the only boy and the youngest of the children of their
For the case at bench is not one where the heirs of the late Vicente are contending widowed mother) through law school, and whom Vicente and his
that petitioner is not his child by Isabel. Rather, their clear submission is that petitioner wife highly respected and consulted on family matters, that her
was not born to Vicente and Isabel. Our ruling in Cabatbat-Lim vs. Intermediate brother Vicente and his wife Isabel being childless, they wanted to
Appellate Court, 166 SCRA 451, 457 cited in the impugned decision is apropos, viz.: adopt her youngest daughter and when she refused, they looked
for a baby to adopt elsewhere, that Vicente found two baby boys
but Isabel wanted a baby girl as she feared a boy might grow up
Petitioners' recourse to Article 263 of the New Civil Code [now
unruly and uncontrollable, and that Vicente finally brought home a
Article 170 of the Family Code] is not well-taken. This legal baby girl and told his elder sister Victoria he would register the
provision refers to an action to impugn legitimacy. It is baby as his and his wife's child. Victoria Benitez Lirio was already
inapplicable to this case because this is not an action to impugn
77 years old and too weak to travel and come to court in San Benitez home in Avenida Rizal, Nagcarlan, Laguna, with no
Pablo City, so that the taking of her testimony by the presiding physician or even a midwife attending?
judge of the lower court had to be held at her residence in
Parañaque, MM. Considering, her advanced age and weak
At this juncture, it might be meet to mention that it has become a
physical condition at the time she testified in this case, Victoria
practice in recent times for people who want to avoid the expense
Benitez Lirio's testimony is highly trustworthy and credible, for as
and trouble of a judicial adoption to simply register the child as
one who may be called by her Creator at any time, she would
their supposed child in the civil registry. Perhaps Atty. Benitez,
hardly be interested in material things anymore and can be
though a lawyer himself, thought that he could avoid the trouble if
expected not to lie, especially under her oath as a witness. There
not the expense of adopting the child Marissa through court
were also several disinterested neighbors of the couple Vicente
proceedings by merely putting himself and his wife as the parents
O. Benitez and Isabel Chipongian in Nagcarlan, Laguna (Sergio
of the child in her birth certificate. Or perhaps he had intended to
Fule, Cecilia Coronado, and Benjamin C. Asendido) who testified
legally adopt the child when she grew a little older but did not
in this case and declared that they used to see Isabel almost
come around doing so either because he was too busy or for
everyday especially as she had drugstore in the ground floor of
some other reason. But definitely, the mere registration of a child
her house, but they never saw her to have been pregnant, in
in his or her birth certificate as the child of the supposed parents
1954 (the year appellee Marissa Benitez was allegedly born,
is not a valid adoption, does not confer upon the child the status
according to her birth certificate Exh. "3") or at any time at all, and
of an adopted child and the legal rights of such child, and even
that it is also true with the rest of their townmates. Ressureccion
amounts of simulation of the child's birth or falsification of his or
A. Tuico, Isabel Chipongian's personal beautician who used to set
her birth certificate, which is a public document.
her hair once a week at her (Isabel's) residence, likewise declared
that she did not see Isabel ever become pregnant, that she knows
that Isabel never delivered a baby, and that when she saw the Third, if appellee Marissa Benitez is truly the real, biological
baby Marissa in her crib one day she went to Isabel's house to set daughter of the late Vicente O. Benitez and his wife Isabel
the latter's hair, she was surprised and asked the latter where the Chipongian, why did he and Isabel's only brother and sibling Dr.
baby came from, and "she told me that the child was brought by Nilo Chipongian, after Isabel's death on April 25, 1982, state in
Atty. Benitez and told me not to tell about it" (p. 10, tsn, Nov. 29, the extrajudicial settlement
1990). Exh. "E" that they executed her estate, "that we are the sole heirs
of the deceased ISABEL CHIPONGIAN because she died without
descendants or ascendants?" Dr. Chipongian, placed on a
The facts of a woman's becoming pregnant and growing big with
witness stand by appellants, testified that it was his brother-in-law
child, as well as her delivering a baby, are matters that cannot be
Atty. Vicente O. Benitez who prepared said document and that he
hidden from the public eye, and so is the fact that a woman never
signed the same only because the latter told him to do so (p. 24,
became pregnant and could not have, therefore, delivered a baby
tsn, Nov. 22, 1990). But why would Atty. Benitez make such a
at all. Hence, if she is suddenly seen mothering and caring for a
statement in said document, unless appellee Marissa Benitez is
baby as if it were her own, especially at the rather late age of 36
not really his and his wife's daughter and descendant and,
(the age of Isabel Chipongian when appellee Marissa Benitez was
therefore, not his deceased wife's legal heir? As for Dr.
allegedly born), we can be sure that she is not the true mother of
Chipongian, he lamely explained that he signed said document
that baby.
without understanding completely the meaning of the words
"descendant and ascendant" (p. 21, tsn, Nov. 22, 1990). This we
Second, appellee's birth certificate Exh. "3" with the late Vicente cannot believe, Dr. Chipongian being a practicing pediatrician
O. Benitez appearing as the informant, is highly questionable and who has even gone to the United States (p. 52, tsn, Dec. 13,
suspicious. For if Vicente's wife Isabel, who wads already 36 1990). Obviously,
years old at the time of the child's supposed birth, was truly the Dr. Chipongian was just trying to protect the interests of appellee,
mother of that child, as reported by Vicente in her birth certificate, the foster-daughter of his deceased sister and brother-in-law, as
should the child not have been born in a hospital under the against those of the latter's collateral blood relatives.
experienced, skillful and caring hands of Isabel's obstetrician-
gynecologist Dr. Constantino Manahan, since delivery of a child at
Fourth, it is likewise odd and strange, if appellee Marissa Benitez
that late age by Isabel would have been difficult and quite risky to
is really the daughter and only legal heir of the spouses Vicente
her health and even life? How come, then, that as appearing in
O. Benitez and Isabel Chipongian, that the latter, before her
appellee's birth certificate, Marissa was supposedly born at the
death, would write a note to her husband and Marissa stating that:
even without any legal papers, I wish that my evidence, presented by the private respondents sufficiently rebutted the truth of the
husband and my child or only daughter will content of petitioner's Certificate of Live Birth. of said rebutting evidence, the most
inherit what is legally my own property, in telling was the Deed of Extra-Judicial Settlement of the Estate of the Deceased Isabel
case I die without a will, Chipongian (Exh. "E") executed on July 20, 1982 by Vicente Benitez, and
Dr. Nilo Chipongian, a brother of Isabel. In their notarized document, they stated that
"(they) are the sole heirs of the deceased Isabel Chipongian because she died without
and in the same handwritten note, she even implored her husband —
descendants or ascendants". In executing this Deed, Vicente Benitez effectively
repudiated the Certificate of Live Birth of petitioner where it appeared that he was
that any inheritance due him from my petitioner's father. The repudiation was made twenty-eight years after he signed
property — when he die — to make our own petitioner's Certificate of Live Birth.
daughter his sole heir. This do [sic] not mean
what he legally owns or his inherited
IN VIEW WHEREOF, the petition for review is dismissed for lack of merit. Costs
property. I leave him to decide for himself
against petitioner.
regarding those.

SO ORDERED.
(Exhs. "F-1", "F-1-A" and "F-1-B")

We say odd and strange, for if Marissa Benitez is really the


daughter of the spouses Vicente O. Benitez and Isabel
Chipongian, it would not have been necessary for Isabel to write
and plead for the foregoing requests to her husband, since
Marissa would be their legal heir by operation of law. Obviously,
Isabel Chipongian had to implore and supplicate her husband to
give appellee although without any legal papers her properties
when she dies, and likewise for her husband to give Marissa the Republic of the Philippines
properties that he would inherit from her (Isabel), since she well SUPREME COURT
knew that Marissa is not truly their daughter and could not be their Manila
legal heir unless her (Isabel's) husband makes her so.
FIRST DIVISION
Finally, the deceased Vicente O. Benitez' elder sister Victoria
Benitez Lirio even testified that her brother Vicente gave the date G.R. No. 157037 May 20, 2004
December 8 as Marissa's birthday in her birth certificate because
that date is the birthday of their (Victoria and Vicente's) mother. It
is indeed too much of a coincidence for the child Marissa and the ROSALINA P. ECETA, petitioner,
mother of Vicente and Victoria to have the same birthday unless it vs.
is true, as Victoria testified, that Marissa was only registered by MA. THERESA VELL LAGURA ECETA, respondent.
Vicente as his and his wife's child and that they gave her the birth
date of Vicente's mother. DECISION

We sustain these findings as they are not unsupported by the evidence on record. The YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:
weight of these findings was not negated by documentary evidence presented by the
petitioner, the most notable of which is her Certificate of Live Birth (Exh. "3")
purportedly showing that her parents were the late This petition for review on certiorari assails the Decision1 of the Court of Appeals in
Vicente Benitez and Isabel Chipongian. This Certificate registered on December 28, CA-G.R. CV No. 50449 which affirmed with modification the trial court’s ruling that
1954 appears to have been signed by the deceased Vicente Benitez. Under Article respondent Maria Theresa Vell Lagura Eceta is entitled to one-eight (1/8) portion of
410 of the New Civil Code, however, "the books making up the Civil Registry and all the disputed property.
documents relating thereto shall be considered public documents and shall be prima
facieevidence of the facts therein stated." As related above, the totality of contrary The antecedent facts are as follows:
Petitioner Rosalina P. Vda. De Eceta was married to Isaac Eceta sometime e) The counterclaim by defendant Rosalina is hereby dismissed.4
in 1926. During the subsistence of their marriage, they begot a son, Vicente.
The couple acquired several properties, among which is the disputed
Rosalina appealed the decision to the Court of Appeals, which affirmed with
property located at Stanford, Cubao, Quezon City covered by Transfer
modification the trial court’s ruling, thus:
Certificate of Title No. 61036. Isaac died in 1967 leaving behind Rosalina
and Vicente as his compulsory heirs.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the appealed Decision is hereby
AFFIRMED subject to the MODIFICATION that the one-fourth (1/4) share
In 1977, Vicente died. During his lifetime, however, he sired Maria Theresa,
erroneously decreed to Appellee is hereby REDUCED to one-eight (1/8)
an illegitimate daughter. Thus at the time of his death, his compulsory heirs
undivided share of the entire disputed property, covered by TCT No. 61036,
were his mother, Rosalina, and illegitimate child, Maria Theresa.
in accordance with law.

In 1991, Maria Theresa filed a case before the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City,
Her motion for reconsideration having been denied, Rosalina is now before us by way
Branch 218, for "Partition and Accounting with Damages"2 against Rosalina alleging
of petition for review wherein she submits the following issues:
that by virtue of her father’s death, she became Rosalina’s co-heir and co-owner of
the Cubao property. The case was docketed as Civil Case No. Q-91-8922.
a. Whether the certified xerox copy from a xerox copy of the certificate of
live birth (Exhibit A) is competent evidence to prove the alleged filiation of
In her answer, Rosalina alleged that the property is paraphernal in nature and thus
the respondent as an "illegitimate daughter" of her alleged father Vicente
belonged to her exclusively.
Eceta.

During the pre-trial conference, the parties entered into a stipulation of facts wherein
b. Whether the admission made by petitioner that respondent is her
they both admitted their relationship to one another,i.e., that Rosalina is Maria
granddaughter is enough to prove respondent’s filiation with Vicente Eceta,
Theresa’s grandmother.3
the only son of petitioner.

After trial on the merits, the court a quo rendered judgment, the dispositive portion of
c. Whether the action for recognition has already prescribed.
which reads:

The petition has no merit.


WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered as
follows:
We note Rosalina’s attempt to mislead the Court by representing that this case is one
for compulsory recognition, partition and accounting with damages.5 Notably, what
a) Theresa Eceta and Rosalina Eceta are the only surviving co-
was filed and tried before the trial court and the Court of Appeals is one for partition
heirs and co-owners over the parcel of land and improvements
and accounting with damages only. The filiation, or compulsory recognition by Vicente
thereon subject of this case;
Eceta of Maria Theresa, was never put in issue. In fact, both parties have already
agreed and admitted, as duly noted in the trial court’s pre-trial order,6 that Maria
b) Maria Theresa Eceta is entitled to one fourth share of said Theresa is Rosalina’s granddaughter.
property;
Notwithstanding, Maria Theresa successfully established her filiation with Vicente by
c) Rosalina Eceta is ordered to account for the value presenting a duly authenticated birth certificate.7Vicente himself signed Maria
corresponding to the one-fourth undivided share of Theresa Eceta Theresa’s birth certificate thereby acknowledging that she is his daughter. By this act
in the monthly rentals of the property with interest and must alone, Vicente is deemed to have acknowledged his paternity over Maria Theresa,
commence from the filing of this case; thus:

d) Parties are ordered within fifteen days from receipt of this The filiation of illegitimate children, like legitimate children, is established by
decision to amicably agree upon a written partition and to submit (1) the record of birth appearing in the civil register or a final judgment; or
the same for approval, parties shall appoint a commissioner to (2) an admission of legitimate filiation in a public document or a private
effect said partition of the property between the parties; handwritten instrument and signed by the parent concerned. In the absence
thereof, filiation shall be proved by (1) the open and continuous possession Bienvinido D. Cariaga for private respondent.
of the status of a legitimate child; or (2) any other means allowed by the
Rules of Court and special laws. 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 BIDIN, J.:
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.8
This is a petition for review on certiorari questioning the decision 1 dated April
30, 1981 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. No. 61552-R which dismissed
In view of the foregoing, we find no necessity to discuss the other issues submitted. petitioner's complaint and set aside the resolution 2 dated October 21, 1976 of
the then Court of First Instance of Davao, 16th Judicial District, amending the
dispositive portion of its decision dated June 21, 1976 and ordering private
WHEREFORE, the petition for review on certiorari is DENIED. The decision of the
respondent Ivan Mendez: (1) to acknowledge the minor Michael Constantino as
Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 50449, which affirmed with modification the
his illegitimate child; (2) to give a monthly support of P300.00 to the minor child;
decision of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 218 in Civil Case No. Q-
(3) to pay complainant Amelita Constantino the sum of P8,200.00 as actual and
91-8922, is AFFIRMED in toto.
moral damages; and (4) to pay attorney's fees in the sum of P5,000 plus costs.

SO ORDERED.
It appears on record that on June 5, 1975, petitioner Amelita Constantino filed
an action for acknowledgment, support and damages against private
respondent Ivan Mendez. The case was filed with the then CFI of Davao, 10th
Judicial District and docketed as Civil Case No. 8881. In her complaint, Amelita
Constantino alleges, among others, that sometime in the month of August,
1974, she met Ivan Mendez at Tony's Restaurant located at Sta. Cruz, Manila,
where she worked as a waitress; that the day following their first meeting, Ivan
invited Amelita to dine with him at Hotel Enrico where he was billeted; that while
dining, Ivan professed his love and courted Amelita; that Amelita asked for time
to think about Ivan's proposal; that at about 11:00 o'clock in the evening,
Amelita asked Ivan to bring her home to which the latter agreed, that on the
pretext of getting something, Ivan brought Amelita inside his hotel room and
through a promise of marriage succeeded in having sexual intercourse with the
Republic of the Philippines latter; that after the sexual contact, Ivan confessed to Amelita that he is a
SUPREME COURT married man; that they repeated their sexual contact in the months of
Manila September and November, 1974, whenever Ivan is in Manila, as a result of which
Amelita got pregnant; that her pleas for help and support fell on deaf ears; that
Amelita had no sexual relations with any other man except Ivan who is the
THIRD DIVISION father of the child yet to be born at the time of the filing of the complaint; that
because of her pregnancy, Amelita was forced to leave her work as a waitress;
that Ivan is a prosperous businessman of Davao City with a monthly income of
P5,000 to P8,000. As relief, Amelita prayed for the recognition of the unborn
child, the payment of actual, moral and exemplary damages, attorney's fees
G.R. No. 57227 May 14, 1992 plus costs.

AMELITA CONSTANTINO and MICHAEL CONSTANTINO, the latter represented In his answer dated August 5, 1975, Ivan admitted that he met Amelita at Tony's
herein by the former, his mother and natural guardian, petitioners, Cocktail Lounge but denied having sexual knowledge or illicit relations with her.
vs. He prayed for the dismissal of the complaint for lack of cause of action. By way
IVAN MENDEZ and the HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, respondents. of counterclaim, he further prayed for the payment of exemplary damages and
litigation expense including attorney's fees for the filing of the malicious
Roberto M. Sarenas for petitioners. complaint.
On September 1, 1975, Amelita Constantino filed a motion for leave to amend Let this Order form part of the decision dated June 21, 1976.
the complaint impleading as co-plaintiff her son Michael Constantino who was
born on August 3, 1975. In its order dated September 4, 1975, the trial court
SO ORDERED.
admitted the amended complaint.

On appeal to the Court of Appeals, the above amended decision was set aside
On September 11, 1975, Ivan Mendez filed his answer to the amended complaint
and the complaint was dismissed. Hence, this petition for review.
reiterating his previous answer denying that Michael Constantino is his
illegitimate son.
Basically, the issue to be resolved in the case at bar is whether or not the Court
of Appeals committed a reversible error in setting aside the decision of the trial
After hearing, the trial court rendered a decision dated June 21, 1976, the
court and in dismissing the complaint.
dispositive portion of which reads, viz:

Petitioners contend that the Court of Appeals erred in reversing the factual
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, judgment is hereby
findings of the trial and in not affirming the decision of the trial court. They also
rendered in favor of plaintiff Amelita Constantino and against
pointed out that the appellate court committed a misapprehension of facts when
defendant Ivan Mendez, ordering the latter to pay Amelita
it concluded that Ivan did not have sexual access with Amelita during the first or
Constantino the sum of P8,000.00 by way of actual and moral
second week of November, 1976 (should be 1974), the time of the conception of
damages; and, the sum of P3,000.00, as and by way of
the child.
attorney's fees. The defendant shall pay the costs of this suit.

It must be stressed at the outset that factual findings of the trial court have only
SO ORDERED.
a persuasive and not a conclusive effect on the Court of Appeals. In the
exercise of its appellate jurisdiction, it is the duty of the Court of Appeals to
From the above decision, both parties filed their separate motion for review the factual findings of the trial court and rectify the errors it committed
reconsideration. Ivan Mendez anchored his motion on the ground that the award as may have been properly assigned and as could be established by a re-
of damages was not supported by evidence. Amelita Constantino, on the other examination of the evidence on record. It is the factual findings of the Court of
hand, sought the recognition and support of her son Michael Constantino as the Appeals, not those of the trial court, that as a rule are considered final and
illegitimate son of Ivan Mendez. conclusive even on this Court (Hermo v. Hon. Court of Appeals, et al., 155 SCRA
24 [1987]). This being a petition for certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of
Court, this Court will review only errors of law committed by the Court of
In its resolution dated October 21, 1976, the trial court granted Amelita
Appeals. It is not the function of this Court to re-examine all over again the oral
Constantino's motion for reconsideration, and amended the dispositive portion
and documentary evidence submitted by the parties unless the findings of facts
of its decision dated June 21, 1976 to read as follows, viz:
of the Court of Appeals is not supported by the evidence on record or the
judgment is based on misapprehension of facts (Remalante v. Tibe, et al., 158
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, judgment is hereby SCRA 138 [1988]; Hernandez v. Court of Appeals, et al., 149 SCRA 97 [1987]).
rendered in favor of plaintiff Amelita Constantino and
plaintiff-minor Michael Constantino, and against defendant
It is the conclusion of the Court of Appeals, based on the evidence on record,
Ivan Mendez ordering the latter to pay Amelita Constantino
that Amelita Constantino has not proved by clear and convincing evidence her
the sum of P8,000.00 by way of actual and moral damages
claim that Ivan Mendez is the father of her son Michael Constantino. Such
and the sum of P200.00 as and by way of payment of the
conclusion based on the evaluation of the evidence on record is controlling on
hospital and medical bills incurred during the delivery of
this Court as the same is supported by the evidence on record. Even the trial
plaintiff-minor Michael Constantino; to recognize as his own
court initially entertained such posture. It ordered the recognition of Michael as
illegitimate child the plaintiff-minor Michael Constantino who
the illegitimate son of Ivan only when acting on the motions for reconsideration,
shall be entitled to all the rights, privileges and benefits
it reconsidered, on October 21, 1976, its earlier decision dated June 21, 1976.
appertaining to a child of such status; to give a permanent
Amelita's testimony on cross-examination that she had sexual contact with Ivan
monthly support in favor of plaintiff Michael Constantino the
in Manila in the first or second week of November, 1974 (TSN, December 8, 1975,
amount of P300.00; and the sum of P5,000.00 as and by way
p. 108) is inconsistent with her response that she could not remember the date
of attorney's fees. The defendant shall pay the costs of this
of their last sexual intercourse in November, 1974 (Ibid, p. 106). Sexual contact
suit.
of Ivan and Amelita in the first or second week of November, 1974 is the crucial
point that was not even established on direct examination as she merely SO ORDERED.
testified that she had sexual intercourse with Ivan in the months of September,
October and November, 1974.

Michael Constantino is a full-term baby born on August 3, 1975 (Exhibit 6) so


that as correctly pointed out by private respondent's counsel, citing medical Republic of the Philippines
science (Williams Obstetrics, Tenth Ed., p. 198) to the effect that "the mean SUPREME COURT
duration of actual pregnancy, counting from the day of conception must be Manila
close to 267 days", the conception of the child (Michael) must have taken place
about 267 days before August 3, 1975 or sometime in the second week of FIRST DIVISION
November, 1974. While Amelita testified that she had sexual contact with Ivan in
November, 1974, nevertheless said testimony is contradicted by her own
evidence (Exh. F), the letter dated February 11, 1975, addressed to Ivan Mendez
requesting for a conference, prepared by her own counsel Atty. Roberto
Sarenas to whom she must have confided the attendant circumstances of her G.R. No. 124853 February 24, 1998
pregnancy while still fresh in her memory, informing Ivan that Amelita is four (4)
months pregnant so that applying the period of the duration of actual
pregnancy, the child was conceived on or about October 11, 1974. FRANCISCO L. JISON, petitioner,
vs.
COURT OF APPEALS and MONINA JISON, respondents.
Petitioner's assertion that Ivan is her first and only boyfriend (TSN, December 8,
1975, p. 65) is belied by Exhibit 2, her own letter addressed to Mrs. Mendez
where she revealed the reason for her attachment to Ivan who possessed
certain traits not possessed by her boyfriend. She also confided that she had a
quarrel with her boyfriend because of gossips so she left her work. An order for DAVIDE, JR., J.:
recognition and support may create an unwholesome atmosphere or may be an
irritant in the family or lives of the parties so that it must be issued only if
paternity or filiation is established by clear and convincing evidence. The This is a petition for review under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court of the 27 April 1995
burden of proof is on Amelita to establish her affirmative allegations that Ivan is decision of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CV No. 32860 1 which reversed the
the father of her son. Consequently, in the absence of clear and convincing decision of Branch 24 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Iloilo City in Civil Case No.
evidence establishing paternity or filiation, the complaint must be dismissed. 16373. 2 The latter dismissed the complaint of private respondent Monina Jison
(hereafter MONINA) for recognition as an illegitimate child of petitioner Francisco
Jison (hereafter FRANCISCO).
As regards Amelita's claim for damages which is based on Articles 19 3 & 21 4 of
the Civil Code on the theory that through Ivan's promise of marriage, she
surrendered her virginity, we cannot but agree with the Court of Appeals that In issue is whether or not public respondent Court of Appeals committed reversible
more sexual intercourse is not by itself a basis for recovery. Damages could error, which, in this instance, necessitates an inquiry into the facts. While as a general
only be awarded if sexual intercourse is not a product of voluntariness and rule, factual issues are not within the province of this Court, nevertheless, in light of
mutual desire. At the time she met Ivan at Tony's Restaurant, Amelita was the conflicting findings of facts of the trial court and the Court of Appeals, this case
already 28 years old and she admitted that she was attracted to Ivan (TSN, falls under an exception to this rule? 3
December 3, 1975, p. 83). Her attraction to Ivan is the reason why she
surrendered her womanhood. Had she been induced or deceived because of a In her complaint 4 filed with the RTC on 13 March 1985, MONINA alleged that
promise of marriage, she could have immediately severed her relation with Ivan FRANCISCO had been married to a certain Lilia Lopez Jison since 1940. At the end
when she was informed after their first sexual contact sometime in August, of 1945 or the start of 1946, however, FRANCISCO impregnated Esperanza F.
1974, that he was a married man. Her declaration that in the months of Amolar (who was then employed as the nanny of FRANCISCO's daughter, Lourdes).
September, October and November, 1974, they repeated their sexual intercourse As a result, MONINA was born on 6 August 1946, in Dingle, Iloilo, and since
only indicates that passion and not the alleged promise of marriage was the childhood, had enjoyed the continuous, implied recognition as an illegitimate child of
moving force that made her submit herself to Ivan. FRANCISCO by his acts and that of his family. MONINA further alleged that
FRANCISCO gave her support and spent for her education, such that she obtained a
WHEREFORE, the instant petition is Dismissed for lack of merit. Master's degree, became a certified public accountant (CPA) and eventually, a
Central Bank examiner. In view of FRANCISCO's refusal to expressly recognize her, FRANCISCO's wife, quarreled in the living room, and in the course thereof, Pansay
MONINA prayed for a judicial declaration of her illegitimate status and that claimed that FRANCISCO was the father of her baby. To which, Lilia replied: "I did not
FRANCISCO support and treat her as such. tell you to make that baby so it is your fault." During the quarrel which lasted from
10:30 till 11:00 a.m., FRANCISCO was supposedly inside the house listening.
In his answer, 5 FRANCISCO alleged that he could not have had sexual relations with
Esperanza Amolar during the period specified in the complaint as she had ceased to Arsenio Duatin, a 77-year old retired laborer, testified that from 1947 until 1977, he
be in his employ as early as 1944, and did not know of her whereabouts since then; worked as FRANCISCO's houseboy at the latter's house on 12th Street, Capitol
further, he never recognized MONINA, expressly or impliedly, as his illegitimate child. Subdivision, Bacolod City. Arsenio met MONINA in 1967, when Felipe Lagarto, the
As affirmative and special defenses, FRANCISCO contended that MONINA had no bookkeeper at Nelly Garden, informed Arsenio that MONINA, FRANCISCO's
right or cause of action against him and that her action was barred by estoppel, laches daughter, would arrive at Bacolod City with a letter of introduction from Lagarto.
and/or prescription. He thus prayed for dismissal of the complaint and an award of
damages due to the malicious filing of the complaint.
Initially, Arsenio identified seven (7) black-and-white photographs (Exhs. X-5 to X-11)
of MONINA, 8 and as he paid for the telephone bills, he likewise identified six (6)
After MONINA filed her reply, 6 pre-trial was conducted where the parties stipulated on telephone cards (Exhs. G to L). Arsenio then declared that when MONINA arrived in
the following issues: Bacolod City, she introduced herself to him as FRANCISCO's daughter. She stayed at
FRANCISCO's house, but when the latter and his wife would come over, Arsenio
would "conceal the presence of MONINA because Mrs. Jison did not like to see her
1. Did Francisco Jison have any sexual relation[s] with Esperanza Am[o]lar
face." Once, Arsenio hid MONINA in the house of FRANCISCO's sister, Mrs. Luisa
about the end of 1945 or the start of 1946?
Jison Alano, in Silay City; another time, at the residence of FRANCISCO's cousin,
Mrs. Concha Lopez Cuaycong. Finally, Arsenio declared that the last time he saw
2. Is Monina Jison the recognized illegitimate daughter of Francisco Jison MONINA was when she left for Manila, after having finished her schooling at La Salle
by the latter's own acts and those of his family? College in Bacolod City.

3. Is Monina Jison barred from instituting or prosecuting the present action On re-direct and upon questions by the court, Arsenio disclosed that it was
by estoppel, laches and/or prescription? FRANCISCO who instructed that MONINA be hidden whenever FRANCISCO and his
wife were around; that although FRANCISCO and MONINA saw each other at the
Bacolod house only once, they called each other "through long distance;" and that
4. Damages. 7 MONINA addressed FRANCISCO as "Daddy" during their lone meeting at the
Bacolod house and were "affectionate" to each other. Arsenio likewise declared that
At trial on the merits, MONINA presented a total of eleven (11) witnesses, namely: MONINA stayed at FRANCISCO's Bacolod house twice: first for a month, then for
herself, Ruben Castellanes, Sr., Adela Casabuena, Arsenio Duatin, Zafiro Ledesma, about a week the second time. On both occasions, however, FRANCISCO and his
Danthea Lopez, Romeo Bilbao, Rudy Tiangson, Alfredo Baylosis, Dominador Zavariz wife were abroad. Finally, Arsenio recalled that FRANCISCO likewise bade Arsenio to
and Lope Amolar. treat MONINA like his (FRANCISCO's) other daughters.

Ruben Castellanes, Sr., a 63-year old resident of Iloilo City, testified that he had The testimony of Zafiro Ledesma, a 74-year old banker and former mayor of Iloilo
worked for FRANCISCO for a total of six (6) years at Nelly Garden, FRANCISCO's City, initially touched on how he and his wife were related to FRANCISCO,
Iloilo residence. Towards the end of the Japanese occupation, FRANCISCO's wife FRANCISCO's wife and MONINA. Zafiro first identified Exhibit R, a diagram of the
suffered a miscarriage or abortion, thereby depriving FRANCISCO of consortium; family trees of the Jison and Lopez families, which showed that former Vice-President
thereafter, FRANCISCO's wife managed a nightclub on the ground floor of Nelly Fernando Lopez was the first cousin of FRANCISCO's wife, then told the court that
Garden which operated daily from 6:00 p.m. till 3:00 a.m. of the following day, thereby the family of Vice-President Lopez treated MONINA "very well because she is
allowing FRANCISCO free access to MONINA's mother, Esperanza Amolar, who was considered a relative . . . by reputation, by actual perception." Zafiro likewise identified
nicknamed Pansay. Exhibits X-13 to X-18, photographs taken at the 14 April 1985 birthday celebration of
Mrs. Fernando Lopez, which showed MONINA with the former Vice-President and
other members of the Lopez family.
Adela Casabuena, a 61-year old farmer, testified that she served as the yaya
("nanny") of Lourdes from July 1946 up to February 1947. Although Pansay had left
Nelly Garden two (2) weeks before Adela started working for the Jisons, Pansay Zafiro further testified that while MONINA lived with Mrs. Cuaycong, the latter paid for
returned sometime in September 1946, or about one month after she gave birth to some of MONINA's school needs and even asked MONINA to work in a hospital
MONINA, to ask FRANCISCO for support. As a result, Pansay and Lilia Jison, owned by Mrs. Cuaycong; and that another first cousin of FRANCISCO's wife, a
certain Remedios Lopez Franco, likewise helped MONINA with her studies and Rudy gave MONINA her allowance from FRANCISCO four (4) times, upon instructions
problems, and even attended MONINA's graduation in 1978 when she obtained a of a certain Mr. Lagarto to give MONINA P15.00 a month. Rudy likewise recalled that
masteral degree in Business Administration, as evidenced by another photograph he first met MONINA in 1965, and that she would go to Nelly Garden whenever
(Exh. X-12). Moreover, upon Remedios' recommendation, MONINA was employed as FRANCISCO's wife was not around. On some of these occasions, MONINA would
a secretary at Merchant Financing Company, which was managed by a certain speak with and address FRANCISCO as "Daddy," without objection from
Danthea Lopez, the wife of another first cousin of FRANCISCO's wife, and among FRANCISCO. In fact, in 1965, Rudy saw FRANCISCO give MONINA money thrice.
whose directors were Zafiro himself, his wife and Danthea's husband. In closing, Rudy further declared that in April 1965, FRANCISCO's office paid P250.00 to
Zafiro identified MONINA's Social Security Record (Exh. W), which was signed by Funeraria Bernal for the funeral expenses of MONINA's mother. Finally, as to Rudy's
Danthea as employer and where MONINA designated Remedios as the beneficiary. motives for testifying, he told the court that he simply wanted to held bring out the truth
"and nothing but the truth," and that MONINA's filiation was common knowledge
among the people in the office at Nelly Garden.
Danthea Lopez, a 58-year old housekeeper, declared that FRANCISCO was the first
cousin of her husband, Eusebio D. Lopez; and that she came to know MONINA in the
latter part of 1965 when Remedios Franco recommended MONINA for employment at On re-direct, Rudy declared that the moneys given by FRANCISCO's office to
Merchant Financing Co., which Danthea managed at that time. Remedios introduced MONINA were not reflected in the books of the office, but were kept in a separate
MONINA to Danthea "as being reputedly the daughter of Mr. Frank Jison;" and on book, as Mr. Lagarto explained that FRANCISCO's wife and children "should not know
several occasions thereafter, Remedios made Danthea and the latter's husband [of] this." Rudy further revealed that as to the garden "meetings" between
understand that MONINA was "reputedly the daughter of [FRANCISCO]" While FRANCISCO and MONINA, Rudy saw MONINA kiss FRANCISCO on the cheek both
MONINA worked at Merchant Financing, Danthea knew that MONINA lived with upon arriving and before leaving, and FRANCISCO's reaction upon seeing her was to
Remedios; however, in the latter part of 1966, as Remedios left for Manila and smile and say in the Visayan dialect: "Kamusta ka iha?" ("How are you, daughter?");
MONINA was still studying at San Agustin University, Danthea and her husband and that MONINA was free to go inside the house as the household staff knew of her
invited MONINA to live with them. During MONINA's 6-month stay with them, she was filiation, and that, sometimes, MONINA would join them for lunch.
not charged for board and lodging and was treated as a relative, not a mere
employee, all owing to what Remedios had said regarding MONINA's filiation. As
Alfredo Baylosis, a 62-year old retired accountant, testified that he worked for
Danthea understood, MONINA resigned from Merchant Financing as she was called
FRANCISCO at Central Santos-Lopez in Iloilo from 1951 up to 1961, then at Nelly
by Mrs. Cuaycong, a first cousin of Danthea's husband who lived in Bacolod City.
Garden from 1961 until 1972. Alfredo first served FRANCISCO as a bookkeeper, then
when Mr. Lagarto died in 1967 or 1969, Alfredo replaced Mr. Lagarto as office
Romeo Bilbao, a 43-year old seaman, testified that he had worked for FRANCISCO manager.
from 1969 up to 1980 at Nelly Garden in various capacities: as a procurement officer,
hacienda overseer and, later, as hacienda administrator. Sometime in May, 1971,
Alfredo knew MONINA since 1961 as she used to go to Nelly Garden to claim her
Romeo saw and heard MONINA ask "her Daddy" (meaning FRANCISCO) for the
P15.00 monthly allowance given upon FRANCISCO's standing order. Alfredo further
money he promised to give her, but FRANCISCO answered that he did not have the
declared that MONINA's filiation was pretty well-known in the office, that he had seen
money to give, then told MONINA to go see Mr. Jose Cruz in Bacolod City. Then in
MONINA and FRANCISCO go from the main building to the office, with
the middle of September that year, FRANCISCO told Romeo to pick up Mr. Cruz at
FRANCISCO's arm on MONINA's shoulder; and that the office paid for the burial
the Iloilo pier and bring him to the office of Atty. Benjamin Tirol. At said office, Atty.
expenses of Pansay, but this was not recorded in the books in order to hide it from
Tirol, Mr. Cruz and MONINA entered a room while Romeo waited outside. When they
FRANCISCO's wife. Alfredo also disclosed that the disbursements for MONINA's
came out, Atty. Tirol had papers for MONINA to sign, but she refused. Atty. Tirol said
allowance started in 1961 and were recorded in a separate cash book. In 1967, the
that a check would be released to MONINA if she signed the papers, so MONINA
allowances ceased when MONINA stopped schooling and was employed in Bacolod
acceded, although Atty. Tirol intended not to give MONINA a copy of the document
City with Miller, Cruz & Co., which served as FRANCISCO's accountant-auditor.
she signed. Thereafter, Mr. Cruz gave MONINA a check (Exh. Q), then MONINA
Once, when Alfredo went to the offices of Miller, Cruz & Co. to see the manager, Mr.
grabbed a copy of the document she signed and ran outside. Romeo then brought Mr.
Atienza, and arrange for the preparation of FRANCISCO's income tax return, Alfredo
Cruz to Nelly Garden. As to his motive for testifying, Romeo stated that he wanted to
chanced upon MONINA. When Alfredo asked her how she came to work there, she
help MONINA be recognized as FRANCISCO'S daughter.
answered that "her Daddy," FRANCISCO, recommended her, a fact confirmed by Mr.
Atienza Alfredo then claimed that Mr. Jose Cruz, a partner at Miller, Cruz & Co., was
Rudy Tingson, a 45-year old antique dealer, testified that in 1963-1964, he was the most trusted man of FRANCISCO.
employed by FRANCISCO's wife at the Baguio Military Institute in Baguio City; then in
1965, Rudy worked at FRANCISCO's office at Nelly Garden recording hacienda
Dominador Savariz, a 55-year old caretaker, testified that he worked as
expenses, typing vouchers and office papers, and, at times, acting as paymaster for
FRANCISCO's houseboy at Nelly Garden from November 1953 up to 1965. One
the haciendas. From the nature of his work, Rudy knew the persons receiving money
morning in April 1954, MONINA and her mother Pansay went to Nelly Garden and
from FRANCISCO's office, and clearly remembered that in 1965, as part of his job,
spoke with FRANCISCO for about an hour, during which time, Dominador was Mr. Lagarto would pay Sagrado directly. After Sagrado, MONINA studied in different
vacuuming the carpet about six (6) to seven (7) meters away. Due to the noise of the schools, 10 but FRANCISCO continuously answered for her schooling.
vacuum cleaner, FRANCISCO and MONINA spoke in loud voices, thus Dominador
overheard their conversation. As FRANCISCO asked Pansay why they came, Pansay
For her college education, MONINA enrolled at the University of Iloilo, but she later
answered that they came to ask for the "sustenance" of his child MONINA.
dropped due to an accident which required a week's hospitalization. Although
FRANCISCO then touched MONINA's head and asked: "How are you Hija?," to which
FRANCISCO paid for part of the hospitalization expenses, her mother shouldered
MONINA answered: "Good morning, Daddy." After FRANCISCO told Pansay and
most of them. In 1963, she enrolled at the University of San Agustin, where she
MONINA to wait, he pulled something from his wallet and said to Pansay. "I am giving
stayed with Mrs. Franco who paid for MONINA's tuition fees. However, expenses for
this for a child."
books, school supplies, uniforms and the like were shouldered by FRANCISCO. At the
start of each semester, MONINA would show FRANCISCO that she was enrolled,
In May 1954, Dominador saw MONINA at Mr. Lagarto's office where Dominador was then he would ask her to canvass prices, then give her the money she needed. After
to get "the day's expenses," while MONINA was claiming her allowance from Mr. finishing two (2) semesters at University of San Agustin, as evidenced by her
Diasnes. The next month, Dominador saw MONINA at Nelly Garden and heard in the transcript of records (Exh. Z showing the FRANCISCO was listed as Parent/Guardian
office that MONINA was there to get her allowance "from her Daddy." In December [Exh. Z-1], she transferred to "De Paul College," just in front of Mrs. Franco's house,
1960, Dominador saw MONINA at Nelly Garden, in the room of Don Vicente (father of and studied there for a year. Thereafter, MONINA enrolled at Western Institute of
FRANCISCO's wife), where she asked for a Christmas gift "and she was calling Don Technology (WIT), where she obtained a bachelor's degree in Commerce in April
Vicente, Lolo (grandfather)." At that time, FRANCISCO and his wife were not around. 1967. During her senior year, she stayed with Eusebio and Danthea Lopez at Hotel
Then sometime in 1961, when Dominador went to Mr. Legarto's office to get the Kahirup, owned by said couple. She passed the CPA board exams in 1974, and took
marketing expenses, Dominador saw MONINA once more claiming her allowance. up an M.B.A. at De La Salle University as evidenced by her transcript (Exh. AA),
wherein FRANCISCO was likewise listed as "Guardian" (Exhs. AA-1 and AA-2).
Dominador further testified that in February 1966, after he had stopped working for
FRANCISCO, Dominador was at Mrs. Franco's residence as she recommended him MONINA enumerated the different members of the household staff at Nelly Garden, to
for employment with her sister, Mrs. Concha Cuaycong. There, he saw MONINA, who wit: Luz, the household cook; the houseboys Silvestre and Doming; the housemaid
was then about 15 years old, together with Mrs. Franco's daughter and son. Mrs. Natang; the yaya of the adopted triplets, Deling; the yaya of Lolo Vicente, Adelina; and
Franco pointed at MONINA and asked Dominador if he knew who MONINA was. others. MONINA likewise enumerated the members of the office staff (Messrs.
Dominador answered that MONINA was FRANCISCO's daughter with Pansay, and Baylosis, Lagarto, Tingson, Diasnes, Jalandoni, Supertisioso, Doroy, and other), and
then Mrs. Franco remarked that MONINA was staying with her (Mrs. Franco) and that identified them from a photograph marked as Exhibit X-2. She then corroborated the
she was sending MONINA to school at the University of San Agustin. prior testimony regarding her employment at Merchant Financing Co., and her having
lived at Hotel Kahirup and at Mrs. Cuaycong's residence in Bacolod City, while
working at the hospital owned by Mrs. Cuaycong.
Lope Amolar, a 50-year old resident of Dingle, Iloilo, and the younger brother of
Esperanza Amolar (Pansay), testified that he worked for FRANCISCO as a houseboy
from March to November 1945 at Nelly Garden. Thereafter, FRANCISCO sent Lope to MONINA further testified that in March 1968, she went to Manila and met
work at Elena Apartments in Manila. By November 1945, Pansay was also working at FRANCISCO at Elena Apartments at the corner of Romero and Salas Streets, Ermita.
Elena Apartments, where she revealed to Lope that FRANCISCO impregnated her. She told FRANCISCO that she was going for a vacation in Baguio City with Mrs.
Lope then confronted FRANCISCO, who told Lope "don't get hurt and don't cause any Franco's mother, with whom she stayed up to June 1968. Upon her return from
trouble, because I am willing to support your Inday Pansay and my child." Three (3) Baguio City, MONINA told FRANCISCO that she wanted to work, so the latter
days after this confrontation, Lope asked for and received permission from arranged for her employment at Miller & Cruz in Bacolod City. MONINA went to
FRANCISCO to resign because he (Lope) was hurt. Bacolod City, was interviewed by Mr. Jose Cruz, a partner at Miller & Cruz, who told
her she would start working first week of September, sans examination. She resigned
from Miller & Cruz in 1971 and lived with Mrs. Cuaycong at her Forbes Park residence
On 21 October 1986, MONINA herself took the witness stand. At that time, she was
in Makati. MONINA went to see FRANCISCO, told him that she resigned and asked
40 years old and a Central Bank Examiner. She affirmed that as evidenced by
him for money to go to Spain, but FRANCISCO refused as she could not speak
certifications from the Office of the Local Civil Registrar (Exhs. E and F) and baptismal
Spanish and would not be able find a job. The two quarreled and FRANCISCO
certificates (Exhs. C and D), she was born on 6 August 1946 in Barangay Tabugon,
ordered a helper to send MONINA out of the house. In the process, MONINA broke
Dingle, Iloilo, to Esperanza Amolar (who passed away on 20 April 1965) and
many glasses at the pantry and cut her hand, after which, FRANCISCO hugged her,
FRANCISCO. 9 MONINA first studied at Sagrado where she stayed as a boarder.
gave her medicine, calmed her down, asked her to return to Bacolod City and
While at Sagrado from 1952 until 1955 (up to Grade 4), her father, FRANCISCO, paid
promised that he would giver her the money.
for her tuition fees and other school expenses. She either received the money from
FRANCISCO or from Mr. Lagarto, or saw FRANCISCO give money to her mother, or
MONINA returned to Bacolod City by plane, using a Filipinas Orient Airways plane As to other acts tending to show her filiation, MONINA related that on one occasion,
ticket (Exh. M) which FRANCISCO gave. She called Mr. Cruz, then Atty. Tirol, as as FRANCISCO's wife was going to arrive at the latter's Bacolod City residence,
instructed by Mr. Cruz. These calls were evidenced by PLDT long distance toll card FRANCISCO called Arsenio Duatin and instructed Arsenio to hide MONINA. Thus,
(Exhs. G to L), with annotations at the back reading; "charged and paid under the MONINA stayed with Mrs. Luisa Jison for the duration of the stay of FRANCISCO's
name of Frank L. Jison" and were signed by Arsenio Duatin (Exhs. G-1 to L-1). PLDT wife. MONINA also claimed that she knew Vice President Fernando Lopez and his
issued a certification as to the veracity of the contents of the toll cards (Exh. BB). wife, Mariquit, even before starting to go to school. Thus, MONINA asked for a
Likewise introduced in evidence was a letter of introduction prepared by Mr. Cruz recommendation letter (Exh. U) from Mrs. Mariquit Lopez for possible employment
addressed to Atty. Tirol, on MONINA's behalf (Exh. N). with Mrs. Rosario Lopez Cooper, another second cousin of FRANCISCO. In Exhibit U,
Mrs. Lopez expressly recognized MONINA as FRANCISCO's daughter. As additional
proof of her close relationship with the family of Vice President Lopez, MONINA
MONINA also declared that Atty. Tirol then told her that she would have to go to Iloilo
identified photographs taken at a birthday celebration on 14 April 1985.
and sign a certain affidavit, before Mr. Cruz would turn over the money promised by
FRANCISCO. She went to Atty. Tirol's office in Iloilo, but after going over the draft of
the affidavit, refused to sign it as it stated that she was not FRANCISCO's daughter. MONINA finally claimed that she knew the three (3) children of FRANCISCO by wife,
She explained that all she had agreed with FRANCISCO was that he would pay for namely, Lourdes, Francisco, Jr., (Junior) and Elena, but MONINA had met only
her fare to go abroad, and that since she was a little girl, she knew about her Lourdes and Junior. MONINA's testimony dealt lengthily on her dealings with Junior
illegitimacy. She started crying, begged Atty. Tirol to change the affidavit, to which and the two (2) occasions when she met with Lourdes. The last time MONINA saw
Atty. Tirol responded that he was also a father and did not want this to happen to his FRANCISCO was in March 1979, when she sought his blessings to get married.
children as they could not be blamed for being brought into the world. She then wrote
a letter (Exh. O) to FRANCISCO and sent it to the latter's Forbes Park residence
In his defense, FRANCISCO offered his deposition taken before then Judge Romeo
(Bauhinia Place) by JRS courier service (Exhs. O-5 to O-7). MONINA subsequently
Callejo of the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 48. As additional witnesses,
met FRANCISCO in Bacolod City where they discussed the affidavit which she
FRANCISCO presented Nonito Jalandoni, Teodoro Zulla, Iñigo Supertisioso, Lourdes
refused to sign. FRANCISCO told her that the affidavit was for his wife, that in case
Ledesma, Jose Cruz and Dolores Argenal.
she heard about MONINA going abroad, the affidavit would "keep her peace."

FRANCISCO declared that Pansay's employment ceased as of October, 1 1944, and


MONINA then narrated that the first time she went to Atty. Tirol's office, she was
that while employed by him, Pansay would sleep with the other female helpers on the
accompanied by one Atty. Fernando Divinagracia, who advised her that the affidavit
first floor of his residence, while he, his wife and daughter slept in a room on the
(Exh. P) 11 would "boomerang" against FRANCISCO "as it is contrary to law." MONINA
second floor. At that time, his household staff was composed of three (3) female
returned to Bacolod City, then met with Atty. Tirol once more to reiterate her plea, but
workers and two (2) male workers. After Pansay left in October 1944, she never
Atty. Tirol did not relent. Thus, on the morning of 20 or 21 September 1971, she
communicated with him again, neither did he know of her whereabouts. FRANCISCO
signed the affidavit as she was jobless and needed the money to support herself and
staunchly denied having had sexual relations with Pansay and disavowed any
finish her studies. In exchange for signing the document, MONINA received a Bank of
knowledge about MONINA's birth. In the same vein, he denied having paid for
Asia check for P15,000.00 (Exh. Q), which was less than the P25,000.00 which
MONINA's tuition fees, in person or otherwise, and asserted that he never knew that
FRANCISCO allegedly promised to give. As Atty. Tirol seemed hesitant to give her a
Mr. Lagarto paid for these fees. Moreover, FRANCISCO could not believe that
copy of the affidavit after notarizing it, MONINA merely grabbed a copy and
Lagarto would pay for these fees despite absence of instructions or approval from
immediately left.
FRANCISCO. He likewise categorically denied that he told anyone, be it Danthea
Lopez, Zafiro Ledesma, Concha Cuaycong or Remedios Franco, that MONINA was
MONINA then prepared to travel abroad, for which purpose, she procured letters of his daughter.
introduction (Exhs. S and T) from a cousin, Mike Alano (son of FRANCISCO's elder
sister Luisa); and an uncle, Emilio Jison (FRANCISCO's elder brother), addressed to
FRANCISCO also disclosed that upon his return from the United States in 1971, he
another cousin, Beth Jison (Emilio's daughter), for Beth to assist MONINA. Exhibit S
fired Alfredo Baylosis upon discovering that Alfredo had taken advantage of his
contained a statement (Exh. S-1) expressly recognizing that MONINA was
position during the former's absence. FRANCISCO likewise fired Rudy Tingson and
FRANCISCO's daughter. Ultimately though, MONINA decided not to go abroad,
Romeo Bilbao, but did not give the reasons therefor.
opting instead to spend the proceeds of the P15,000.00 check for her CPA review,
board exam and graduate studies. After finishing her graduate studies, she again
planned to travel abroad, for which reason, she obtained a letter of introduction from Finally, FRANCISCO denied knowledge of MONINA's long distance calls from his
former Vice President Fernando Lopez addressed to then United States Consul Bacolod residence; nevertheless, when he subsequently discovered this, he fired
Vernon McAnnich (Exh. V). certain people in his office for their failure to report this anomaly. As regards the
caretaker of his Bacolod residence, FRANCISCO explained that since MONINA lived
at Mrs. Cuaycong's residence, the caretaker thought that he could allow people who relayed Atty. Tirol's message to MONINA through Mr. Atienza, then later, Atty. Tirol
lived at the Cuaycong residence to use the facilities at his (FRANCISCO's) house. told Jose to go to Iloilo with a clerk for P15,000.00 Jose complied, and at Atty. Tirol's
office, Jose saw MONINA, Atty. Tirol and his secretary reading some documents.
MONINA then expressed her willingness to sign the document, sans revisions. Jose
Nonito Jalandoni, bookkeeper and paymaster at Nelly's Garden from 1963 up to 1974,
alleged that he drew the P15,000.00 from his personal funds, subject to
then from 1980 up to 1986, the assistant overseer of Hacienda Lopez, testified that he
reimbursement from and due to an understanding with FRANCISCO.
did not know MONINA; that he learned of her only in June 1988, when he was
informed by FRANCISCO that MONINA had sued him; and that he never saw
MONINA at Nelly's Garden, neither did he know of any instructions for anyone at Dolores Argenal, a househelper at Nelly Garden from May 1944 up to May 1946,
Nelly's Garden to give money to MONINA. testified that she knew that Pansay was Lourdes' nanny; that Lourdes slept in her
parents' room; that she had not seen FRANCISCO give special treatment to Pansay;
that there was no "unusual relationship" between FRANCISCO and Pansay, and if
Teodoro Zulla, FRANCISCO's bookkeeper and paymaster from 1951 up to 1986,
there was any, Dolores would have easily detected it since she slept in the same room
testified that FRANCISCO dismissed Alfredo Baylosis due to certain unspecified
as Pansay. Dolores further declared that whenever FRANCISCO's wife was out of
discrepancies; and that he never saw MONINA receive funds from either Mr. Lagarto
town, Pansay would bring Lourdes downstairs at nighttime, and that Pansay would not
or Mr. Baylosis. Upon questions from the trial court, however, Teodoro admitted that
sleep in the room where FRANCISCO slept. Finally, Dolores declared that Pansay
he prepared vouchers for only one of FRANCISCO's haciendas, and not vouchers
stopped working for FRANCISCO and his wife in October, 1944.
pertaining to the latter's personal expenses.

The reception of evidence having been concluded, the parties filed their respective
Iñigo Supertisioso testified that he worked for FRANCISCO at Nelly's Garden from
memoranda.
1964 up to 1984 as a field inspector, paymaster, cashier and, eventually, officer-in-
charge (OIC). He confirmed Alfredo Baylosis' dismissal due to these unspecified
irregularities, then denied that FRANCISCO ever ordered that MONINA be given her It need be recalled that Judge Catalino Castañeda, Jr. presided over trial up to 21
allowance. Likewise, Iñigo never heard FRANCISCO mention that MONINA was his October 1986, thereby hearing only the testimonies of MONINA's witnesses and about
(FRANCISCO's) daughter. half of MONINA's testimony on direct examination. Judge Norberto E. Devera, Jr.
heard the rest of MONINA's testimony and those of FRANCISCO's witnesses.
Lourdes Ledesma, FRANCISCO's daughter, testified that she saw (but did not know)
MONINA at the Our Lady of Mercy Hospital, on the occasion of the birth of Lourdes' In its decision of 12 November 1990 12 the trial court, through Judge Devera,
first son, Mark. Over lunch one day, Lourdes' aunt casually introduced Lourdes and dismissed the complaint with costs against MONINA. In the opening paragraph
MONINA to each other, but they were referred to only by their first names. Then thereof, it observed:
sometime in 1983 or 1984, MONINA allegedly went to Lourdes' house in Sta. Clara
Subdivision requesting for a letter of introduction or referral as MONINA was then job-
This is a complaint for recognition of an illegitimate child instituted by
hunting. However, Lourdes did not comply with the request.
plaintiff Monina Jison against defendant Francisco Jison. This complaint
was filed on March 13, 1985 at the time when plaintiff, reckoned from her
Jose Cruz, a partner at Miller, Cruz & Co., testified that MONINA worked at Miller & death of birth, was already thirty-nine years old. Noteworthy also is the fact
Cruz from 1968 up to 1971, however, he did not personally interview her before she that it was instituted twenty years after the death of plaintiff's mother,
was accepted for employment. Moreover, MONINA underwent the usual screening Esperanza Amolar. For the years between plaintiff's birth and Esperanza's
procedure before being hired. Jose recalled that one of the accountants, a certain Mr. death, no action of any kind was instituted against defendant either by
Atienza, reported that MONINA claimed to be FRANCISCO's daughter. Jose then told plaintiff, her mother Esperanza or the latter's parents. Neither had plaintiff
Mr. Atienza to speak with MONINA and see if he (Mr. Atienza) could stop her from brought such an action against defendant immediately upon her mother's
spreading this rumor. Mr. Atienza reported that he spoke with MONINA, who told him death on April 20, 1965, considering that she was then already nineteen
that she planned to leave for the United States and needed P20,000.00 for that years old or, within a reasonable time thereafter. Twenty years more had to
purpose, and in exchange, she would sign a document disclaiming filiation with supervene before this complaint was eventually instituted.
FRANCISCO. Thus, Jose instructed Mr. Atienza to request that MONINA meet with
Jose, and at that meeting, MONINA confirmed Mr. Atienza's report. Jose then
The trial court then proceeded to discuss the four issues stipulated at pre-trial, without,
informed Atty. Tirol, FRANCISCO's personal lawyer, about the matter.
however, summarizing the testimonies of the witnesses nor referring to the
testimonies of the witnesses other than those mentioned in the discussion of the
Atty. Tirol told Jose to send MONINA and her lawyer to his (Atty. Tirol's) office in Iloilo. issues.
Jose then wrote out a letter of introduction for MONINA addressed to Atty. Tirol Jose
The trial court resolved the first issue in the negative, holding that it was improbable Finally, the RTC denied FRANCISCO's claim for damages, finding that MONINA did
for witness Lope Amolar to have noticed that Pansay was pregnant upon seeing her at not file the complaint with malice, she having been "propelled by an honest belief,
the Elena Apartments in November 1945, since Pansay was then only in her first founded on probable cause."
month of pregnancy; that there was no positive assertion that "copulation did indeed
take place between Francisco and Esperanza;" and that MONINA's attempt to show
MONINA seasonably appealed to the Court of Appeals (CA-G.R. CV No. 32860) and
opportunity on the part of FRANCISCO failed to consider "that there was also the
sought reversal of the trial court's decision on the grounds that:
opportunity for copulation between Esperanza and one of the several domestic
helpers admittedly also residing at Nelly's Garden at that time." The RTC also ruled
that the probative value of the birth and baptismal certificates of MONINA paled in I
light of jurisprudence, especially when the misspellings therein were considered.
THE TRIAL COURT WAS ERRONEOUSLY PREDISPOSED TO ADJUDGE
The trial court likewise resolved the second issue in the negative, finding that THIS CASE AGAINST APPELLANT DUE TO ITS MISPERCEPTION THAT
MONINA's evidence thereon "may either be one of three categories, namely: hearsay APPELLANT'S DELAY IN FILING HER COMPLAINT WAS FATAL TO HER
evidence, incredulous evidence, or self-serving evidence." To the first category CASE.
belonged the testimonies of Adela Casabuena and Alfredo Baylosis, whose
knowledge of MONINA's filiation was based, as to the former, on "utterances of
II
defendant's wife Lilia and Esperanza allegedly during the heat of their quarrel," while
as to the latter, Alfredo's conclusion was based "from the rumors going [around] that
plaintiff is defendant's daughter, front his personal observation of plaintiff's facial THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN ITS REJECTION OF THE TESTIMONIES
appearance which he compared with that of defendant's and from the way the two OF APPELLANT'S WITNESSES AS TAILOR-MADE, INADEQUATE AND
(plaintiff and defendant) acted and treated each other on one occasion that he had INCREDIBLE.
then opportunity to closely observe them together." To the second category belonged
that of Dominador Savariz, as:
III

At each precise time that Esperanza allegedly visited Nelly's Garden and
allegedly on those occasions when defendant's wife, Lilia was in Manila, this THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN ITS REJECTION OF THE ADMISSIBILITY
witness was there and allegedly heard pieces of conversation between OF THE CERTIFIED COPIES OF PUBLIC DOCUMENTS PRESENTED BY
defendant and Esperanza related to the paternity of the latter's child. . . APPELLANT AS PART OF HER EVIDENCE.

The RTC then placed MONINA's testimony regarding the acts of recognition accorded IV
her by FRANCISCO's relatives under the third category, since the latter were never
presented as witnesses, for which reason the trial court excluded the letters from THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN ITS REQUIREMENT THAT A WITNESS
FRANCISCO's relatives (Exhs. S to V). TO THE ACTUAL ACT O COPULATION BETWEEN THE APPELLEE AND
APPELLANT'S MOTHER SHOULD HAVE POSITIVELY TESTIFIED TO
As to the third issue, the trial court held that MONINA was not barred by prescription SAID EFFECT.
for it was of "the perception . . . that the benefits of Article 268 accorded to legitimate
children may be availed of or extended to illegitimate children in the same manner as V
the Family Code has so provided;" or by laches, "which is [a] creation of equity applied
only to bring equitable results, and . . . addressed to the sound discretion of the court
[and] the circumstances [here] would show that whether plaintiff filed this case THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN REJECTING THE ADMISSIBILITY OF THE
immediately upon the death of her mother Esperanza in 1965 or twenty years DULY IDENTIFIED NOTES AND LETTER OF THE RELATIVES OF THE
thereafter in 1985, . . . there seems to be no inequitable result to defendant as related APPELLEE AS HEARSAY.
to the situation of plaintiff."
VI
The RTC ruled, however, that MONINA was barred by estoppel by deed because of
the affidavit (Exh. P/Exh. 2) which she signed "when she was already twenty-five THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN CONCLUDING THAT APPELLANT'S
years, a professional and . . . under the able guidance of counsel." AFFIDAVIT (EXH. P) SERVED AS A BAR AGAINST HER CLAIM FOR
RECOGNITION INSTEAD OF REINFORCING SAID CLAIM. 13
Expectedly, FRANCISCO refuted these alleged errors in his Appellee's Brief. 14 Taking into account all the foregoing uncontroverted testimonies
. . . let alone such circumstantial evidence as [MONINA's] Birth Certificates .
. . and Baptismal Certificates which invariably bear the name of
In its decision of 27 April 1995, 15 the Court of Appeals initially declared that as no
[FRANCISCO] as her father, We cannot go along with the trial court's theory
vested or acquired rights were affected, the instant case was governed by Article 175,
that [MONINA's] illegitimate filiation has not been satisfactorily established.
in relation to Articles 172 and 173, of the Family Code. 16While the Court of Appeals
rejected the certifications issued by the Local Civil Registrar of Dingle, Iloilo (Exhs. E
and F) as FRANCISCO did not sign them, said court focused its discussion on the xxx xxx xxx
other means by which illegitimate filiation could be proved, i.e., the open and
continuous possession of the status of an illegitimate child or, by any other means
Significantly, [MONINA's] testimony finds ample corroboration from
allowed by the Rules of Court and special laws, such as "the baptismal certificate of
[FRANCISCO's] former employees, Arsenio Duatin, Rudy Tingson and
the child, a judicial admission, a family bible wherein the name of the child is entered,
Alfredo Baylosis. . . .
common reputation respecting pedigree, admission by silence, testimonies of
witnesses . . ." 17 To the Court of Appeals, the "bottom line issue" was whether or not
MONINA established her filiation as FRANCISCO's illegitimate daughter by xxx xxx xxx
preponderance of evidence, as to which issue said court found:
Carefully evaluating appellant's evidence on her enjoyment of the status of
[N]ot just preponderant but overwhelming evidence on record to prove that an illegitimate daughter of [FRANCISCO] vis-a-vis [FRANCISCO's]
[MONINA] is the illegitimate daughter of [FRANCISCO] and that she had controversion thereof, We find more weight in the former. The positive
continuously enjoyed such status by direct acts of [FRANCISCO] and/or his testimonies of [MONINA] and [her] witnesses . . . all bearing on
relatives. [FRANCISCO's] acts and/or conduct indubitably showing that he had
continuously acknowledged [MONINA] as his illegitimate daughter have not
been succeessfully [sic] refuted. In fact, [FRANCISCO] himself, in his
In so ruling, the Court of Appeals observed that the testimonies of Lope Amolar, Adela
deposition, only casually dismissed [MONINA's] exhaustive and detailed
Casabuena and Dominador Savariz were already sufficient to establish MONINA's
testimony as untrue, and with respect to those given by [MONINA's]
filiation:
witnesses, he merely explained that he had fired [them] from their
employment. Needless to state, [FRANCISCO's] vague denial is grossly
As adverted to earlier, the trial court discredited Lope Amolar's testimony by inadequate to overcome the probative weight of [MONINA's] testimonial
saying that Lope could not have detected Esperanza's pregnant state in evidence.
November, 1945 since at that point in time [sic] she was still in the initial
stage of pregnancy. Apparently, the trial court paid more emphasis on the
Even the affidavit (Exh 2) which [FRANCISCO] had foisted on the trial
date mentioned by Lope Amolar than on the tenor and import his testimony.
court . . . does not hold sway in the face of [MONINA's] logical explanation
As . . . Lope . . . was asked about an incident that transpired more than 41
that she at first did agree to sign the affidavit which contained untruthful
years back, [u]nder the circumstances, it is unreasonable to expect that
statements. In fact, she promptly complained to [FRANCISCO] who,
Lope could still be dead right on the specific month in 1945 that [he] met
however explained to her that the affidavit was only for the consumption of
and confronted his sister. At any rate, what is important is not the month
his spouse . . . Further, the testimony of Jose Cruz concerning the events
that they met but the essence of his testimony that his sister pointed to their
that led to the execution of the affidavit . . . could not have been true, for as
employer [FRANCISCO] as the one responsible for her pregnancy, and that
pointed out by [MONINA] she signed the affidavit . . . almost five months
upon being confronted, [FRANCISCO] assured him of support for
after she had resigned from the Miller, Cruz & Co. . . .
Esperanza and their child. It would appear then that in an attempt to find
fault with Lope's testimony, the trial court has fallen oblivious to the fact that
even [FRANCISCO], in his deposition, did not deny that he was confronted At any rate, if [MONINA] were not his illegitimate daughter, it would have
by Lope about what he had done to Esperanza during which he been uncalled for, if not absurd, for [FRANCISCO] or his lawyer to have
unequivocally acknowledged paternity by assuring Lope of support for both secured [MONINA's] sworn statement . . . On the contrary, in asking
Esperanza and their child. [MONINA] to sign the said affidavit at the cost of P15,000. [FRANCISCO]
clearly betrayed his intention to conceal or suppress his paternity of
[MONINA] . . .
The Court of Appeals further noted that Casabuena and Savariz "testified on
something that they personally observed or witnessed," which matters FRANCISCO
"did not deny or refute." Finally, said court aptly held: In fine, We hold that [MONINA's] filiation as [FRANCISCO's] illegitimate
daughter has been conclusively, established by the uncontroverted
testimonies of Lope Amolar, Adela Casabuena and Dominador Savariz to The Court of Appeals then decreed:
the effect that appellee himself had admitted his paternity of the appellee,
and also by the testimonies of appellant; Arsenio Duatin, Romeo Bilbao,
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the judgment of the trial court is SET
Rudy Tingson and Alfredo Baylosis unerringly demonstrating that by his
ASIDE and another one is hereby entered for appellant Monina Jison,
own conduct or overt acts like sending appellant to school, paying for her
declaring her as the illegitimate daughter of appellee Francisco Jison, and
tuition fees, school uniforms, books, board and lodging at the Colegio del
entitled to all rights and privileges granted by law.
Sagrado Corazon de Jesus, defraying appellant's hospitalization expenses,
providing her with [a] monthly allowance, paying for the funeral expenses of
appellant's mother, acknowledging appellant's paternal greetings and calling Costs against appellee.
appellant his "Hija" or child, instructing his office personnel to give
appellant's monthly allowance, recommending appellant for employment at
SO ORDERED.
the Miller, Cruz & Co., allowing appellant to use his house in Bacolod and
paying for her long distance telephone calls, having appellant spend her
vacation in his apartment in Manila and also at his Forbes residence, His motion for reconsideration having been denied by the Court of Appeals in its
allowing appellant to use his surname in her scholastic and other records resolution of 29 March 1996, 18FRANCISCO filed the instant petition. He urges us to
(Exhs. Z, AA, AA-1, to AA-5, W & W-5), appellee had continuously reverse the judgment of the Court of Appeals, alleging that said court committed
recognized appellant as his illegitimate daughter. Added to these are the errors of law:
acts of [FRANCISCO's] relatives acknowledging or treating [MONINA] as
[FRANCISCO's] daughter (Exh. U) or as their relative (Exhs. T & V). On this
point, witness Zafiro Ledesma, former Mayor of Iloilo City, whose spouse I.
belongs to the Lopez clan just like [FRANCISCO], testified that [MONINA)
has been considered by the Lopezes as a relative. He identified pictures of . . . IN REVERSING THE DECISION OF THE TRIAL COURT AND
the appellee in the company of the Lopezes (Exhs X-16 & X-17). Another DECLARING PRIVATE RESPONDENT AS THE ILLEGITIMATE CHILD OF
witness, Danthea H. Lopez, whose husband Eusebio Lopez is appellee's PETITIONER, CONSIDERING [THE] IMPOSSIBILITY OF SEXUAL
first cousin, testified that appellant was introduced to her by appellee's CONTACT BETWEEN THE PETITIONER AND THE PRIVATE
cousin, Remedios Lopez Franco, as the daughter of appellee Francisco RESPONDENTS MOTHER AT THE TIME CONCEPTION WAS
Jison, for which reason, she took her in as [a] secretary in the Merchant's SUPPOSED TO HAVE OCCURRED.
Financing Corporation of which she was the manager, and further allowed
her to stay with her family free of board and lodging. Still on this aspect,
Dominador Savariz declared that sometime in February, 1966 appellee's II.
relative, Ms. Remedios Lopez Franco pointed to appellant as the daughter
of appellee Francisco Jison. . . . IN REVERSING THE TRIAL COURT'S FINDING CONSIDERING THAT
PRIVATE RESPONDENTS TESTIMONIAL EVIDENCE OF PATERNITY
Finally, the Certifications of the Local Civil Registrar of Dingle (Exhs E and AND FILIATION IS NOT CLEAR AND CONVINCING.
F) as well as [MONINA's] Baptismal Certificates (Exhs C & D) which the trial
court admitted in evidence as part of [MONINA's] testimony, may serve as III.
circumstantial evidence to further reinforce [MONINA's] claim that she is
[FRANCISCO's] illegitimate daughter by Esperanza Amolar.
. . . IN GIVING CREDENCE TO DOCUMENTARY EVIDENCE
PRESENTED BY THE PRIVATE RESPONDENT AS EVIDENCE OF
True it is that a trial judge's assessment of the credibility of witnesses is FILIATION CONSIDERING THAT THE SAME ARE HEARSAY, SELF-
accorded great respect on appeal. But the rule admits of certain exceptions. SERVING AND CANNOT BIND THE PETITIONER UNDER THE BASIC
One such exception is where the judge who rendered the judgment was not RULES OF EVIDENCE.
the one who heard the witnesses testify. [citations omitted] The other is
where the trial court had overlooked, misunderstood or misappreciated
some facts or circumstances of weight and substance which, if properly IV.
considered, might affect the result of the case. [citations omitted] In the
present case, both exceptions obtain. All of [MONINA's] witnesses . . . . . . IN INTERPRETING THE PRIVATE RESPONDENTS SWORN
whose testimonies were not given credence did not testify before the judge STATEMENT (EXH. "P" /EXH. "2") IN A MANNER NOT IN CONSONANCE
who rendered the disputed judgment . . . WITH THE RULINGS OF THE HONORABLE SUPREME COURT.
V. resided with the families of Eusebio Lopez and Concha Cuaycong because she was in
their employ at Kahirup Hotel and Our Lady of Mercy Hospital, respectively; MONINA
failed to present Mrs. Franco, Eusebio Lopez and Mrs. Cuaycong; and MONINA's
. . . IN NOT CONSIDERING THE LONG AND UNEXPLAINED DELAY IN
employment at the accounting firm of Miller, Cruz & Co. was attributable to her
THE FILING OF THE PRESENT PATERNITY SUIT AS EQUIVALENT TO
educational attainment, there being absolutely no evidence to prove that FRANCISCO
LACHES.
ever facilitated her employment thereat. Hence, in light of Baluyot v. Baluyot,21 the
quantum of evidence to prove paternity by clear and convincing evidence, not merely
As regards the first error, FRANCISCO insists that taking into account the second a preponderance thereof, was not met.
paragraph of MONINA's complaint wherein she claimed that he and Pansay had
sexual relations "by about the end of 1945 or the start of 1946," it was physically
With respect to the third assigned error, FRANCISCO argues that the Court of
impossable for him and Pansay to have had sexual contact which resulted in
Appeals' reliance on the certifications of the Local Civil Registrar (Exhs. E and F) and
MONINA's birth, considering that:
Baptismal Certificates (Exhs. C and D) as circumstantial evidence is misplaced. First,
their genuineness could not be ascertained as the persons who issued them did not
The normal period of human pregnancy is nine (9) months. If as claimed by testify. Second, in light of Reyes v. Court of Appeals, 22 the contents of the baptismal
private respondent in her complaint that her mother was impregnated by certificates were hearsay, as the data was based only on what was told to the priest
FRANCISCO "at the end of 1945 or the start of 1946", she would have been who solemnized the baptism, who likewise was not presented as a witness.
born sometime in late September or early October and not August 6, Additionally, the name of the father appearing therein was "Franque Jison," which was
1946 . . . The instant case finds factual and legal parallels in Constantino not FRANCISCO's name. Third, in both Exhibits E and F, the names of the child's
vs. Mendez, 19 thus: . . . parents were listed as "Frank Heson" and "Esperanza Amador" (not Amolar).
FRANCISCO further points out that in Exhibit F, the status of the child is listen as
"legitimate," while the father's occupation as "laborer." Most importantly, there was no
FRANCISCO further claims that his testimony that Pansay was no longer employed by showing that FRANCISCO signed Exhibits E and F or that he was the one who
him at the time in question was unrebutted, moreover, other men had access to reported the child's birth to the Office of the Local Civil Registrar. As to MONINA's
Pansay during the time of or even after her employment by him. educational records, FRANCISCO invokes Bañas v. Bañas 23which recognized that
school records are prepared by school authorities, not by putative parents, thus
As to the second error, FRANCISCO submits that MONINA's testimonial evidence is incompetent to prove paternity. And, as to the photographs presented by MONINA,
"shaky, contradictory and unreliable," and proceeds to attack the credibility of her FRANCISCO cites Colorado v.Court of Appeals, 24 and further asserts that MONINA
witnesses by claiming, in the main, that: (a) Lope Amolar could not have did not present any of the persons with whom she is seen in the pictures to testify
detected Pansay pregnancy in November 1945 when they met since she would have thereon; besides these persons were, at best, mere second cousins of FRANCISCO.
been only one (1) month pregnant then; (b) Dominador Savariz did not in fact witness He likewise assails the various notes and letters written by his relatives (Exhs. S to V)
the meeting between FRANCISCO, Pansay and MONINA; (c) Zafiro Ledesma had an as they were not identified by the authors. Finally, he stresses that MONINA did not
ulterior motive in testifying for MONINA as he owned a bank in Iloilo which was then testify as to the telephone cards (Exhs. G to L) nor did these reveal the circumstances
under Central Bank supervision and MONINA was the Bank Examiner assigned to surrounding the calls she made from his residence.
Iloilo; and (d) Danthea Lopez was not related to him by blood and whatever favorable
treatment MONINA received from Danthea was due to the former's employment at Anent the fourth assigned error, FRANCISCO contends that the Court of Appeals'
Merchants' Financing Company and additional services rendered at Kahirup Hotel; interpretation of MONINA's affidavit of 21 September 1971 ran counter to Dequito
besides Danthea admitted that she had no personal knowledge as to the issue of v. Llamas, 25 and overlooked that at the time of execution, MONINA was more than 25
paternity and filiation of the contending parties, hence Sections 39 and 40 20 of Rule years old and assisted by counsel.
130 of the Rules of Court did not come into play. FRANCISCO likewise re-echoes the
view of the trial court as regards the testimonies of Adela Casabuena and Alfredo
Baylosis. As to the last assigned error, FRANCISCO bewails the Court of Appeals' failure to
consider the long and unexplained delay in the filing of the case.
FRANCISCO further asserts that MONINA's testimony that he answered for her
schooling was self-serving and uncorroborated by any receipt or other documentary In her comment, MONINA forcefully refuted FRANCISCO's arguments, leading
evidence; and assuming he did, such should be interpreted as a manifestation of FRANCISCO to file his reply thereto.
kindness shown towards the family of a former household helper.
On 20 November 1996, we gave due course to this petition and required the parties to
Anent the treatment given by his relatives to MONINA as his daughter, FRANCISCO submit their respective memoranda, which they subsequently did.
points to the fact that Pansay was the former laundrywoman of Mrs. Franco; MONINA
A painstaking review of the evidence and arguments fails to support petitioner. apparent desire to have and treat the child as such in all relations in society and in life,
not accidentally, but continuously. 29
Before addressing the merits of the controversy, we first dispose of preliminary
matters relating to the applicable law and the guiding principles in paternity suits. As to By "continuous" is meant uninterrupted and consistent, but does not require any
the former, plainly, the Family Code of the Philippines (Executive Order No. 209) particular length of time. 30
governs the present controversy. As correctly cited by the Court of Appeals,
Uyguangco 26 served as a judicial confirmation of Article 256 of the Family
The foregoing standard of proof required to establish one's filiation is founded on the
Code 27 regarding its retroactive effect unless there be impairment of vested rights,
principle that an order for recognition and support may create an unwholesome
which does not hold true here, it appearing that neither the putative parent nor the
atmosphere or may be an irritant in the family or lives of the parties, so that it must be
child has passed away and the former having actually resisted the latter's claim below.
issued only if paternity or filiation is established by clear and convincing evidence. 31

Under Article 175 of the Family Code, illegitimate filiation, such as MONINA's, may be
The foregoing discussion, however, must be situated within the general rules on
established in the same way and on the same evidence as that of legitimate children.
evidence, in light of the burden of proof in civil cases, i.e., preponderance of evidence,
Article 172 thereof provides the various forms of evidence by which legitimate filiation
and the shifting of the burden of evidence in such cases. Simply put, he who alleges
is established, thus:
the affirmative of the issue has the burden of proof, and upon the plaintiff in a civil
case, the burden of proof never parts. However, in the course of trial in a civil case,
Art. 172. The filiation of legitimate children is established by any of the once plaintiff makes out aprima facie case in his favor, the duty or the burden of
following: evidence shifts to defendant to controvert plaintiff's prima facie case, otherwise, a
verdict must be returned in favor of plaintiff. Moreover, in civil cases, the party having
the burden of proof must produce a preponderance of evidence thereon, with plaintiff
(1) The record of birth appearing in the civil register or a
having to rely on the strength of his own evidence and not upon the weakness of the
final judgment; or
defendant's. The concept of "preponderance of evidence" refers to evidence which is
of greater weight, or more convincing, that which is offered in opposition to it; at
(2) An admission of legitimate filiation in a public bottom, it means probability of truth. 32
document or a private handwritten instrument signed by
the parent concerned.
With these in mind, we now proceed to resolve the merits of the instant controversy.

In the absence of the foregoing evidence, the legitimate


FRANCISCO's arguments in support of his first assigned error deserve scant
filiation shall be proved by:
consideration. While it has been observed that unlawful intercourse will not be
presumed merely from proof of an opportunity for such indulgence,33 this does not
(1) The open and continuous possession of the status favor FRANCISCO. Akin to the crime of rape where, in most instances, the only
of a legitimate child; or witnesses to the felony are the participants in the sexual act themselves, in deciding
paternity suits, the issue of whether sexual intercourse actually occurred inevitably
redounds to the victim's or mother's word, as against the accused's or putative father's
(2) Any other means allowed by the Rules of Court and special laws. protestations. In the instant case, MONINA's mother could no longer testify as to the
fact of intercourse, as she had, unfortunately, passed away long before the institution
This Article reproduces, with amendments, Articles 265, 266 and 267 of the Civil of the complaint for recognition. But this did not mean that MONINA could no longer
Code. prove her filiation. The fact of her birth and her parentage may be established by
evidence other than the testimony of her mother. The paramount question then is
whether MONINA's evidence is coherent, logical and natural. 34
For the success of an action to establish illegitimate filiation under the second
paragraph. which MONINA relies upon given that she has none of the evidence
mentioned in the first paragraph, a "high standard of proof" 28 is required. Specifically, The complaint stated that FRANCISCO had carnal knowledge of Pansay "by about
to prove open and continuous possession of the status of an illegitimate child, there the end of 1945." We agree with MONINA that this was broad enough to cover the
must be evidence of the manifestation of the permanent intention of the supposed fourth quarter of said year, hence her birth on 6 August 1946 could still be attributed to
father to consider the child as his, by continuous and clear manifestations of parental sexual relations between FRANCISCO and MONINA's mother. In any event, since it
affection and care, which cannot be attributed to pure charity. Such acts must be of was established that her mother was still in the employ of FRANCISCO at the time
such a nature that they reveal not only the conviction of paternity, but also the MONINA was conceived as determined by the date of her birth, sexual contact
between FRANCISCO and MONINA's mother was not at all impossible, especially in purportedly identifying the putative father is not competent evidence as to the issue of
light of the overwhelming evidence, as hereafter shown, that FRANCISCO fathered paternity, when there is no showing that the putative father had a hand in the
MONINA, has recognized her as his daughter and that MONINA has been enjoying preparation of said certificates, and the Local Civil Registrar is devoid of authority to
the open and continuous possession of the status as FRANCISCO's illegitimate record the paternity of an illegitimate child upon the information of a third
daughter. person. 37 Simply put, if the alleged father did not intervene in the birth certificate, e.g.,
supplying the information himself, the inscription of his name by the mother or doctor
or registrar is null and void; the mere certificate by the registrar without the signature
We readily conclude that the testimonial evidence offered by MONINA, woven by her
of the father is not proof of voluntary acknowledgment on the latter's part. 38 In like
narration of circumstances and events that occurred through the years, concerning
manner, FRANCISCO's lack of participation in the preparation of the baptismal
her relationship with FRANCISCO, coupled with the testimonies of her witnesses,
certificates (Exhs. C and D) and school records (Exhs. Z and AA) renders these
overwhelmingly established the following facts:
documents incompetent to prove paternity, the former being competent merely to
prove the administration of the sacrament of baptism on the date so
1) FRANCISCO is MONINA's father and she was conceived at the time specified. 39 However, despite the inadmissibility of the school records per seto prove
when her mother was in the employ of the former; the paternity, they may be admitted as part of MONINA's testimony to corroborate her
claim that FRANCISCO spent for her education.
2) FRANCISCO recognized MONINA as his child through his overt acts and
conduct which the Court of Appeals took pains to enumerate, thus: We likewise disagree with the ruling of the Court of Appeals that the certificates issued
by the Local Civil Registrar and the baptismal certificates may be taken as
circumstantial evidence to prove MONINA's filiation. Since they areper se inadmissible
[L]ike sending appellant to school, paying for her tuition in evidence as proof of such filiation, they cannot be admitted indirectly as
fees, school uniforms, books, board and lodging at the circumstantial evidence to prove the same.
Colegio del Sagrado de Jesus, defraying appellant's
hospitalization expenses, providing her with [a] monthly
allowance, paying for the funeral expenses of As to Exhibits "S," "T," "U" and "V," the various notes and letters written by
appellant's mother, acknowledging appellant's paternal FRANCISCO's relatives, namely Mike Alano, Emilio Jison, Mariquit Lopez and
greetings and calling appellant his "Hija" or child, Fernando Lopez, respectively, allegedly attesting to MONINA's filiation, while their due
instructing his office personnel to give appellant's execution and authenticity are not in issue, 40 as MONINA witnessed the authors
monthly allowance, recommending appellant to use his signing the documents, nevertheless, under Rule 130, Section 39, the contents of
house in Bacolod and paying for her long distance these documents may not be admitted, there being no showing that the declarants-
telephone calls, having appellant spend her long authors were dead or unable to testify, neither was the relationship between the
distance telephone calls, having appellant spend her declarants and MONINA shown by evidence other than the documents in
vacation in his apartment in Manila and also at his question. 41 As to the admissibility of these documents under Rule 130, Section 40,
Forbes residence, allowing appellant to use his however, this requires further elaboration.
surname in her scholastic and other records (Exhs Z,
AA, AA-1 to AA-5, W & W-5) . . .
Rule 130, Section 40, provides:

3) Such recognition has been consistently shown and manifested


Sec. 40. Family reputation or tradition regarding pedigree. — The reputation
throughout the years publicly, 35 spontaneously, continuously and in an
or tradition existing in a family previous to the controversy, in respect to the
uninterrupted manner. 36
pedigree of any one of its members, may be received in evidence if the
witness testifying thereon be also a member of the family, either by
Accordingly, in light of the totality of the evidence on record, the second assigned consanguinity or affinity.Entries in family bibles or other family books or
error must fail. charts, engravings on rings, family portraits and the like may be received as
evidence of pedigree. (emphasis supplied)
There is some merit, however, in the third assigned error against the probative value
of some of MONINA's documentary evidence. It is evident that this provision may be divided into two (2) parts: the portion containing
the first underscored clause which pertains to testimonial evidence, under which the
documents in question may not be admitted as the authors thereof did not take the
MONINA's reliance on the certification issued by the Local Civil Registrar concerning witness stand; and the section containing the second underscored phrase. What must
her birth (Exhs. E and F) is clearly misplaced. It is settled that a certificate of live birth then be ascertained is whether Exhibits S to V, as private documents, fall within the
scope of the clause "and the like" as qualified by the preceding phrase "[e]ntries in On this issue, we find for MONINA and agree with the following observations of the
family bibles or other family books or charts, engravings on rights [and] family Court of Appeals:
portraits,"
Even the affidavit (Exh 2) which [FRANCISCO] had foisted on the trial
We hold that the scope of the enumeration contained in the second portion of this court . . . does not hold sway in the face of [MONINA's] logical explanation
provision, in light of the rule ofejusdem generis, is limited to objects which are that she at first did agree to sign the affidavit which contained untruthful
commonly known as "family possessions," or those articles which represent, in effect, statements. In fact, she promptly complained to [FRANCISCO] who,
a family's joint statement of its belief as to the pedigree of a person. 42 These have however explained to her that the affidavit was only for the consumption of
been described as objects "openly exhibited and well known to the family," 43 or those his spouse . . .
"which, if preserved in a family, may be regarded as giving a family tradition." 44 Other
examples of these objects which are regarded as reflective of a family's reputation or
At any rate, if [MONINA] were not his illegitimate daughter, it would have
tradition regarding pedigree are inscriptions on tombstones, 45 monuments or coffin
been uncalled for, if not absurd, for [FRANCISCO] of his lawyer to have
plates. 46
secured [MONINA's] sworn statement . . . On the contrary, in asking
[MONINA] to sign the said affidavit at the cost of P15,000. [FRANCISCO]
Plainly then, Exhibits S to V, as private documents not constituting "family clearly betrayed his intention to conceal or suppress his paternity of
possessions" as discussed above, may not be admitted on the basis of Rule 130, [MONINA] . . .
Section 40. Neither may these exhibits be admitted on the basis of Rule 130, Section
41 regarding common reputation, 47 it having been observed that:
Indeed, if MONINA were truly not FRANCISCO's illegitimate daughter, it would have
been unnecessary for him to have gone to such great lengths in order that MONINA
[T]he weight of authority appears to be in favor of the theory that it is the denounce her filiation. For as clearly established before the trial court and properly
general repute, the common reputation in the family, and not the common appreciated by the Court of Appeals, MONINA had resigned from Miller & Cruz five (5)
reputation in community, that is a material element of evidence going to months prior to the execution of the sworn statement in question, hence negating
establish pedigree. . . . [Thus] matters of pedigree may be proved by FRANCISCO's theory of the need to quash rumors circulating within Miller & Cruz
reputation in the family, and not by reputation in the neighborhood or regarding the identity of MONINA's father. Hence, coupled with the assessment of the
vicinity, except where the pedigree in question is marriage which may be credibility of the testimonial evidence of the parties discussed above, it is evident that
proved by common reputation in the community. 48 the standard to contradict a notarial document, i.e. clear and convincing evidence and
more than merely preponderant, 49 has been met by MONINA
Their inadmissibility notwithstanding, Exhibits "S" to "V," inclusive, may, in like manner
as MONINA's school records, properly be admitted as part of her testimony to Plainly then, the burden of evidence fully shifted to FRANCISCO.
strengthen her claim that, indeed, relatives of FRANCISCO recognized her as his
daughter.
Two (2) glaring points in FRANCISCO's defense beg to be addressed: First, that his
testimony was comprised of mere denials, rife with bare, unsubstantiated responses
We now direct our attention to MONINA's 21 September 1971 affidavit (Exh. P/Exh. such as "That is not true," "I do not believe that," or "None that I know." In declining
2), subject of the fourth assigned error, where she attests that FRANCISCO is not her then to lend credence to FRANCISCO's testimony, we resort to a guiding principle in
father. MONINA contends that she signed it under duress, i.e., she was jobless, had adjudging the credibility of a witness and the truthfulness of his statements, laid down
no savings and needed the money to support herself and finish her studies. Moreover, as early as 1921:
she signed Exhibit P upon the advice of Atty. Divinagracia that filiation could not be
waived and that FRANCISCO's ploy would "boomerang" upon him. On the other hand,
The experience of courts and the general observation of humanity teach us
FRANCISCO asserts that full credence should be afforded Exhibit P as MONINA was
that the natural limitations of our inventive faculties are such that if a witness
already 25 years old at the time of its execution and was advised by counsel; further,
undertakes to fabricate and deliver in court a false narrative containing
being a notarized document, its genuineness and due execution could not be
numerous details, he is almost certain to fall into fatal inconsistencies, to
questioned. He relies on the testimony of Jose Cruz, a partner at the accounting firm
make statements which can be readily refuted, or to expose in his
of Miller & Cruz, who declared that he intervened in the matter as MONINA was
demeanor the falsity of his message.
spreading rumors about her filiation within the firm, which might have had deleterious
effects upon the relationship between the firm and FRANCISCO.
For this reason it will be found that perjurers usually confine themselves to
the incidents immediately related to the principal fact about which they
testify, and when asked about collateral facts by which their truthfulness
could be tested, their answers not infrequently take the stereotyped form of The last assigned error concerning laches likewise fails to convince. The essential
such expressions as "I don't know" or "I don't remember." . . . 50 elements of laches are: (1) conduct on the part of the defendant, or of one under
whom he claims, giving rise to the situation of which the complaint seeks a remedy;
(2) delay in asserting the complainant's rights, the complainant having had knowledge
Second, the reasons for the dismissals of Tingson, Baylosis and Savariz were
or notice of the defendant's conduct as having been afforded an opportunity to
unspecified or likewise unsubstantiated, hence FRANCISCO's attempt to prove ill-
institute a suit; (3) lack of knowledge or notice on the part of the defendant that the
motive on their part to falsely testify in MONINA's favor may not succeed. As may be
complaint would assert the right in which he bases his suit; and (4) injury or prejudice
gleaned, the only detail which FRANCISCO could furnish as to the circumstances
to the defendant in the event relief is accorded to the complaint, or the suit is not held
surrounding the dismissals of his former employees was that Baylosis allegedly "took
barred. 58 The last element is the origin of the doctrine that sale demands apply only
advantage of his position" while FRANCISCO was in the United States. But aside from
where by reason of the lapse of time it would be inequitable to allow a party to enforce
this bare claim, FRANCISCO's account is barren, hence unable to provide the basis
his legal rights. 59
for a finding of bias against FRANCISCO on the part of his former employees.

As FRANCISCO set up, laches as an affirmative defense, it was incumbent upon him
As to FRANCISCO's other witnesses, nothing substantial could be obtained either.
to prove the existence of its elements. However, he only succeeded in showing
Nonito Jalandoni avowed that he only came to know of MONINA in June 1988; 51 that
MONINA's delay in asserting her claim, but miserably failed to prove the last element.
during his employment at Nelly Garden from 1963 up to 1974, he did not recall ever
In any event, it must be stressed that laches is based upon grounds of public policy
having seen MONINA there, neither did he know of any instructions from FRANCISCO
which requires, for the peace of society, the discouragement of state claims, and is
nor Mr. Lagarto (FRANCISCO's office manager before passing away) regarding the
principally a question of the inequity or unfairness of permitting a right or claim to be
disbursement of MONINA's allowance. 52 Teodoro Zulla corroborated Jalandoni's
enforced or asserted. There is no absolute rule as to what constitutes laches; each
testimony regarding not having seen MONINA at Nelly Garden and MONINA's
case is to be determined according to its particular circumstances. The question of
allowance; declared that Alfredo Baylosis was dismissed due to discrepancies
laches is addressed to the sound discretion of the court, and since it is an equitable
discovered after an audit, without any further elaboration, however; but admitted that
doctrine, its application is controlled by equitable considerations. It cannot be worked
he never prepared the vouchers pertaining to FRANCISCO's personal expenses,
to defeat justice or to perpetuate fraud and injustice. 60 Since the instant case involves
merely those intended for one of FRANCISCO's haciendas. 53Then, Iñigo Superticioso
paternity and filiation, even if illegitimate, MONINA filed her action well within the
confirmed that according to the report of a certain Mr. Atienza, Baylosis "was
period granted her by a positive provision of law. A denial then of her action on ground
dismissed by Mr. Jison for irregularities," while Superticioso was informed by
of laches would clearly be inequitable and unjust.
FRANCISCO that Tingson was dismissed for loss of confidence. Superticioso likewise
denied that MONINA received money from FRANCISCO's office, neither was there a
standing order from FRANCISCO to release funds to her. 54 WHEREFORE, IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the petition is hereby DENIED and
the challenged decision of the Court of Appeals of 27 April 1995 in CA-G.R. CV No.
32860 is AFFIRMED.
It is at once obvious that the testimonies of these witnesses for FRANCISCO are
likewise insufficient to overcome MONINA's evidence. The former merely consist of
denials as regards the latter's having gone to Nelly Garden or having received her Costs against petitioner.
allowance from FRANCISCO's office, which, being in the form of negative testimony,
necessarily stand infirm as against positive testimony; 55 bare assertions as regards
SO ORDERED.
the dismissal of Baylosis; ignorance of FRANCISCO's personal expenses incapable of
evincing that FRANCISCO did not provide MONINA with an allowance; or hearsay
evidence as regards the cause for the dismissals of Baylosis and Tingson. But what
then serves as the coup de grace is that despite Superticioso's claim that he did not
know MONINA, 56 when confronted with Exhibit H, a telephone toll ticket indicating that
on 18 May 1971, MONINA called a certain "Eñing" at FRANCISCO's office,
Superticioso admitted that his nickname was "Iñing" and that there was no other
person named "Iñing" in FRANCISCO's office. 57

All told, MONINA's evidence hurdled "the high standard of proof" required for the
success of an action to establish one's illegitimate filiation when relying upon the
provisions regarding "open and continuous possession'' or "any other means allowed
by the Rules of Court and special laws;" moreover, MONINA proved her filiation by
more than mere preponderance of evidence.