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Liyao, Jr. vs.

Tanhoti-Liyao 378 SCRA 563

March 7, 2002

Fact of the Case:

Corazon G. Garcia is legally married but has been living separately from Ramon
Yulo for more than 10 years. She cohabited with William Liyao from 1965 upto his
death. Some witnesses, however, testified that Corazon and her husband were seen in
each other’s company during the supposed time Corazon cohabited with William Liyao.
On June 9, 1975, Corazon gave birth to William Liyao Jr. Since birth, William Jr,
also known as Billy, had been in continuous possession and enjoyment of the status of a
recognized and/ or acknowledge child of William Liyao by the latter’s direct and overt
act. During William Liyao birthday he was carrying Billy and told everybody present,
including his daughters, “Look, this is my son, very guapo and healty”. He talked about
engrande plans for the baptism of Billy. Unfortunately, it did not happen due to his
untimely death on December 2, 1975.
On November 29, 1976, William Liyao, Jr, represented by his mother Corazon G.
Garcia filed a civil action for compulsory recognition as “the illegitimate son the late
William Liyao. The Regional Trial Court granted his petition, however the Court of
Appeals reversed the decision saying that the law favors the legitimacy rather than the
illegitimacy of the child. The petition was filed for review on certiorari.

Whether or not the petitioner may impugn his own legitimacy to be able to claim
from the estate of his supposed father William Liyao.

No. Under the New Civil Code, a child born and conceived during a valid
marriage is presumed to be legitimate. Impugning the legitimacy of the child, is a strictly
personal right of the husband, or in exceptional cases, his heirs for the simple reason that
he is the one directly confronted with the scandal. Only in exceptional cases may his heirs
allowed to contest such legitimacy. There is nothing on the records to indicate that
Ramon Yulo has already passed away at the time of the birth of the petitioner nor at the
time of the initiation of proceedings. The Court held that it is settle that a child born
within a valid marriage is presumed legitimate even though the mother may have
declared against its legitimacy or may have been sentenced as an adulteress; the child
himself cannot choose his own affiliation – if the husband, presumed to be the father does
not impugn the legitimacy of the child, then the status of the child if fixed, and the latter
cannot choose to be the child of his mother’s paramour.