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Republic of the Philippines

SUPREME COURT
Manila
SECOND DIVISION
G.R. No. 188289

August 20, 2014

DAVID A. NOVERAS, Petitioner,


vs.
LETICIA T. NOVERAS, Respondent.
DECISION
PEREZ, J.:
Before the Court is a petition for review assailing the 9 May 2008 Decision 1 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R .. CV No. 88686, which
affirmed in part the 8 December 2006 Decision2 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Baler, Aurora, Branch 96.
The factual antecedents are as follow:
David A. Noveras (David) and Leticia T. Noveras (Leticia) were married on 3 December 1988 in Quezon City, Philippines. They resided
in California, United States of America (USA) where they eventually acquired American citizenship. They then begot two children,
namely: Jerome T.
Noveras, who was born on 4 November 1990 and JenaT. Noveras, born on 2 May 1993. David was engaged in courier service business
while Leticia worked as a nurse in San Francisco, California.
During the marriage, they acquired the following properties in the Philippines and in the USA:
PHILIPPINES
PROPERTY

FAIR MARKET VALUE


P1,693,125.00

House and Lot with an area of 150 sq. m. located at


1085 Norma Street, Sampaloc, Manila (Sampaloc
property)

P400,000.00
Agricultural land with an area of 20,742 sq. m.
located at Laboy, Dipaculao, Aurora

P490,000.00
A parcel of land with an area of 2.5 hectares located
at Maria Aurora, Aurora

P175,000.00
A parcel of land with an area of 175 sq.m. located at
Sabang Baler, Aurora

P750,000.00
3-has. coconut plantation in San Joaquin Maria
Aurora, Aurora

USA
PROPERTY

FAIR MARKET VALUE

House and Lot at 1155 Hanover Street, Daly City,


California

$550,000.00
(unpaid debt of $285,000.00)
$3,000
Furniture and furnishings

$9,000
Jewelries (ring and watch)

$13,770.00
2000 Nissan Frontier 4x4 pickup truck

$8,000
Bank of America Checking Account

Bank of America Cash Deposit

$100,000.00
Life Insurance (Cash Value)

$56,228.00

Retirement, pension, profit-sharing, annuities

The Sampaloc property used to beowned by Davids parents. The parties herein secured a loan from a bank and mortgaged the
property. When said property was about to be foreclosed, the couple paid a total of P1.5 Million for the redemption of the same.
Due to business reverses, David left the USA and returned to the Philippines in 2001. In December 2002,Leticia executed a Special
Power of Attorney (SPA) authorizing David to sell the Sampaloc property for P2.2 Million. According to Leticia, sometime in September
2003, David abandoned his family and lived with Estrellita Martinez in Aurora province. Leticia claimed that David agreed toand
executed a Joint Affidavit with Leticia in the presence of Davids father, Atty. Isaias Noveras, on 3 December 2003 stating that: 1)
the P1.1Million proceeds from the sale of the Sampaloc property shall be paid to and collected by Leticia; 2) that David shall return
and pay to Leticia P750,000.00, which is equivalent to half of the amount of the redemption price of the Sampaloc property; and 3)
that David shall renounce and forfeit all his rights and interest in the conjugal and real properties situated in the Philippines. 5 David
was able to collect P1,790,000.00 from the sale of the Sampaloc property, leaving an unpaid balance of P410,000.00.
Upon learning that David had an extra-marital affair, Leticia filed a petition for divorce with the Superior Court of California, County of
San Mateo, USA. The California court granted the divorce on 24 June 2005 and judgment was duly entered on 29 June 2005. 6 The
California court granted to Leticia the custody of her two children, as well as all the couples properties in the USA. 7
On 8 August 2005, Leticia filed a petition for Judicial Separation of Conjugal Property before the RTC of Baler, Aurora. She relied on the
3 December 2003 Joint Affidavit and Davids failure to comply with his obligation under the same. She prayed for: 1) the power to
administer all conjugal properties in the Philippines; 2) David and his partner to cease and desist from selling the subject conjugal
properties; 3) the declaration that all conjugal properties be forfeited in favor of her children; 4) David to remit half of the purchase
price as share of Leticia from the sale of the Sampaloc property; and 5) the payment ofP50,000.00 and P100,000.00 litigation
expenses.8
In his Answer, David stated that a judgment for the dissolution of their marriage was entered on 29 June 2005 by the Superior Court
of California, County of San Mateo. He demanded that the conjugal partnership properties, which also include the USA properties, be
liquidated and that all expenses of liquidation, including attorneys fees of both parties be charged against the conjugal partnership. 9
The RTC of Baler, Aurora simplified the issues as follow:

1. Whether or not respondent David A. Noveras committed acts of abandonment and marital infidelity which can result
intothe forfeiture of the parties properties in favor of the petitioner and their two (2) children.
2. Whether or not the Court has jurisdiction over the properties in California, U.S.A. and the same can be included in the
judicial separation prayed for.
3. Whether or not the "Joint Affidavit" x x x executed by petitioner Leticia T. Noveras and respondent David A. Noveras will
amount to a waiver or forfeiture of the latters property rights over their conjugal properties.
4. Whether or not Leticia T. Noveras isentitled to reimbursement of onehalf of the P2.2 [M]illion sales proceeds of their
property in Sampaloc, Manila and one-half of the P1.5 [M]illion used to redeem the property of Atty. Isaias Noveras, including
interests and charges.
5. How the absolute community properties should be distributed.
6. Whether or not the attorneys feesand litigation expenses of the parties were chargeable against their conjugal properties.
Corollary to the aboveis the issue of:
Whether or not the two common children of the parties are entitled to support and presumptive legitimes. 10
On 8 December 2006, the RTC rendered judgment as follows:
1. The absolute community of property of the parties is hereby declared DISSOLVED;
2. The net assets of the absolute community of property ofthe parties in the Philippines are hereby ordered to be awarded to
respondent David A. Noveras only, with the properties in the United States of America remaining in the sole ownership of
petitioner Leticia Noveras a.k.a. Leticia Tacbiana pursuant to the divorce decree issuedby the Superior Court of California,
County of San Mateo, United States of America, dissolving the marriage of the parties as of June 24, 2005. The titles
presently covering said properties shall be cancelled and new titles be issued in the name of the party to whom said
properties are awarded;
3. One-half of the properties awarded to respondent David A. Noveras in the preceding paragraph are hereby given to
Jerome and Jena, his two minor children with petitioner LeticiaNoveras a.k.a. Leticia Tacbiana as their presumptive legitimes
and said legitimes must be annotated on the titles covering the said properties.Their share in the income from these
properties shall be remitted to them annually by the respondent within the first half of January of each year, starting January
2008;
4. One-half of the properties in the United States of America awarded to petitioner Leticia Noveras a.k.a. Leticia Tacbiana in
paragraph 2 are hereby given to Jerome and Jena, her two minor children with respondent David A. Noveras as their
presumptive legitimes and said legitimes must be annotated on the titles/documents covering the said properties. Their
share in the income from these properties, if any, shall be remitted to them annually by the petitioner within the first half of
January of each year, starting January 2008;
5. For the support of their two (2) minor children, Jerome and Jena, respondent David A. Noveras shall give them US$100.00
as monthly allowance in addition to their income from their presumptive legitimes, while petitioner Leticia Tacbiana shall
take care of their food, clothing, education and other needs while they are in her custody in the USA. The monthly allowance
due from the respondent shall be increased in the future as the needs of the children require and his financial capacity can
afford;
6. Of the unpaid amount of P410,000.00 on the purchase price of the Sampaloc property, the Paringit Spouses are hereby
ordered to pay P5,000.00 to respondent David A. Noveras and P405,000.00 to the two children. The share of the respondent
may be paid to him directly but the share of the two children shall be deposited with a local bank in Baler, Aurora, in a joint
account tobe taken out in their names, withdrawal from which shall only be made by them or by their representative duly
authorized with a Special Power of Attorney. Such payment/deposit shall be made withinthe period of thirty (30) days after
receipt of a copy of this Decision, with the passbook of the joint account to be submitted to the custody of the Clerk of Court
of this Court within the same period. Said passbook can be withdrawn from the Clerk of Court only by the children or their
attorney-in-fact; and
7. The litigation expenses and attorneys fees incurred by the parties shall be shouldered by them individually. 11
The trial court recognized that since the parties are US citizens, the laws that cover their legal and personalstatus are those of the
USA. With respect to their marriage, the parties are divorced by virtue of the decree of dissolution of their marriage issued by the
Superior Court of California, County of San Mateo on 24June 2005. Under their law, the parties marriage had already been dissolved.
Thus, the trial court considered the petition filed by Leticia as one for liquidation of the absolute community of property regime with
the determination of the legitimes, support and custody of the children, instead of an action for judicial separation of conjugal
property.

With respect to their property relations, the trial court first classified their property regime as absolute community of property
because they did not execute any marriage settlement before the solemnization of their marriage pursuant to Article 75 of the Family
Code. Then, the trial court ruled that in accordance with the doctrine of processual presumption, Philippine law should apply because
the court cannot take judicial notice of the US law since the parties did not submit any proof of their national law. The trial court held
that as the instant petition does not fall under the provisions of the law for the grant of judicial separation of properties, the absolute
community properties cannot beforfeited in favor of Leticia and her children. Moreover, the trial court observed that Leticia failed to
prove abandonment and infidelity with preponderant evidence.
The trial court however ruled that Leticia is not entitled to the reimbursements she is praying for considering that she already
acquired all of the properties in the USA. Relying still on the principle of equity, the Court also adjudicated the Philippine properties to
David, subject to the payment of the childrens presumptive legitimes. The trial court held that under Article 89 of the Family Code,
the waiver or renunciation made by David of his property rights in the Joint Affidavit is void.
On appeal, the Court of Appeals modified the trial courts Decision by directing the equal division of the Philippine properties between
the spouses. Moreover with respect to the common childrens presumptive legitime, the appellate court ordered both spouses to each
pay their children the amount of P520,000.00, thus:
WHEREFORE, the instant appeal is PARTLY GRANTED. Numbers 2, 4 and 6 of the assailedDecision dated December 8, 2006 of Branch
96, RTC of Baler, Aurora Province, in Civil Case No. 828 are hereby MODIFIED to read as follows:
2. The net assets of the absolute community of property of the parties in the Philippines are hereby divided equally between
petitioner Leticia Noveras a.k.a. Leticia Tacbiana (sic) and respondent David A. Noveras;
xxx
4. One-half of the properties awarded to petitioner Leticia Tacbiana (sic) in paragraph 2 shall pertain to her minor children,
Jerome and Jena, as their presumptive legitimes which shall be annotated on the titles/documents covering the said
properties. Their share in the income therefrom, if any, shall be remitted to them by petitioner annually within the first half
of January, starting 2008;
xxx
6. Respondent David A. Noveras and petitioner Leticia Tacbiana (sic) are each ordered to pay the amount ofP520,000.00 to
their two children, Jerome and Jena, as their presumptive legitimes from the sale of the Sampaloc property inclusive of the
receivables therefrom, which shall be deposited to a local bank of Baler, Aurora, under a joint account in the latters names.
The payment/deposit shall be made within a period of thirty (30) days from receipt ofa copy of this Decision and the
corresponding passbook entrusted to the custody ofthe Clerk of Court a quowithin the same period, withdrawable only by the
children or their attorney-in-fact.
A number 8 is hereby added, which shall read as follows:
8. Respondent David A. Noveras is hereby ordered to pay petitioner Leticia Tacbiana (sic) the amount ofP1,040,000.00
representing her share in the proceeds from the sale of the Sampaloc property.
The last paragraph shall read as follows:
Send a copy of this Decision to the local civil registry of Baler, Aurora; the local civil registry of Quezon City; the Civil
RegistrarGeneral, National Statistics Office, Vibal Building, Times Street corner EDSA, Quezon City; the Office of the Registry of Deeds
for the Province of Aurora; and to the children, Jerome Noveras and Jena Noveras.
The rest of the Decision is AFFIRMED.12
In the present petition, David insists that the Court of Appeals should have recognized the California Judgment which awarded the
Philippine properties to him because said judgment was part of the pleading presented and offered in evidence before the trial court.
David argues that allowing Leticia to share in the Philippine properties is tantamount to unjust enrichment in favor of Leticia
considering that the latter was already granted all US properties by the California court.
In summary and review, the basic facts are: David and Leticia are US citizens who own properties in the USA and in the Philippines.
Leticia obtained a decree of divorce from the Superior Court of California in June 2005 wherein the court awarded all the properties in
the USA to Leticia. With respect to their properties in the Philippines, Leticiafiled a petition for judicial separation ofconjugal
properties.
At the outset, the trial court erred in recognizing the divorce decree which severed the bond of marriage between the parties. In
Corpuz v. Sto. Tomas,13 we stated that:
The starting point in any recognition of a foreign divorce judgment is the acknowledgment that our courts do not take judicial notice
of foreign judgments and laws. Justice Herrera explained that, as a rule, "no sovereign is bound to give effect within its dominion to a
judgment rendered by a tribunal of another country." This means that the foreign judgment and its authenticity must beproven as

facts under our rules on evidence, together with the aliens applicable national law to show the effect of the judgment on the alien
himself or herself. The recognition may be made in an action instituted specifically for the purpose or in another action where a party
invokes the foreign decree as an integral aspect of his claim or defense. 14
The requirements of presenting the foreign divorce decree and the national law of the foreigner must comply with our Rules of
Evidence. Specifically, for Philippine courts to recognize a foreign judgment relating to the status of a marriage, a copy of the foreign
judgment may be admitted in evidence and proven as a fact under Rule 132, Sections 24 and 25, in relation to Rule 39, Section 48(b)
of the Rules of Court.15
Under Section 24 of Rule 132, the record of public documents of a sovereign authority or tribunal may be proved by: (1) an official
publication thereof or (2) a copy attested by the officer having the legal custody thereof. Such official publication or copy must
beaccompanied, if the record is not kept in the Philippines, with a certificate that the attesting officer has the legal custody thereof.
The certificate may be issued by any of the authorized Philippine embassy or consular officials stationed in the foreign country in
which the record is kept, and authenticated by the seal of his office. The attestation must state, in substance, that the copy is a
correct copy of the original, or a specific part thereof, asthe case may be, and must be under the official seal of the attesting officer.
Section 25 of the same Rule states that whenever a copy of a document or record is attested for the purpose of evidence, the
attestation must state, in substance, that the copy is a correct copy of the original, or a specific part thereof, as the case may be. The
attestation must be under the official seal of the attesting officer, if there be any, or if hebe the clerk of a court having a seal, under
the seal of such court.
Based on the records, only the divorce decree was presented in evidence. The required certificates to prove its authenticity, as well as
the pertinent California law on divorce were not presented.
It may be noted that in Bayot v. Court of Appeals,16 we relaxed the requirement on certification where we held that "[petitioner
therein] was clearly an American citizenwhen she secured the divorce and that divorce is recognized and allowed in any of the States
of the Union, the presentation of a copy of foreign divorce decree duly authenticatedby the foreign court issuing said decree is, as
here, sufficient." In this case however, it appears that there is no seal from the office where the divorce decree was obtained.
Even if we apply the doctrine of processual presumption 17 as the lower courts did with respect to the property regime of the parties,
the recognition of divorce is entirely a different matter because, to begin with, divorce is not recognized between Filipino citizens in
the Philippines. Absent a valid recognition of the divorce decree, it follows that the parties are still legally married in the Philippines.
The trial court thus erred in proceeding directly to liquidation.
As a general rule, any modification in the marriage settlements must be made before the celebration of marriage. An exception to
this rule is allowed provided that the modification isjudicially approved and refers only to the instances provided in Articles 66,67,
128, 135 and 136 of the Family Code.18
Leticia anchored the filing of the instant petition for judicial separation of property on paragraphs 4 and 6 of Article 135 of the Family
Code, to wit:
Art. 135. Any of the following shall be considered sufficient cause for judicial separation of property:
(1) That the spouse of the petitioner has been sentenced to a penalty which carries with it civil interdiction;
(2) That the spouse of the petitioner has been judicially declared an absentee;
(3) That loss of parental authority ofthe spouse of petitioner has been decreed by the court;
(4) That the spouse of the petitioner has abandoned the latter or failed to comply with his or her obligations to the family as
provided for in Article 101;
(5) That the spouse granted the power of administration in the marriage settlements has abused that power; and
(6) That at the time of the petition, the spouses have been separated in fact for at least one year and reconciliation is highly
improbable.
In the cases provided for in Numbers (1), (2), and (3), the presentation of the final judgment against the guiltyor absent spouse shall
be enough basis for the grant of the decree ofjudicial separation of property. (Emphasis supplied).
The trial court had categorically ruled that there was no abandonment in this case to necessitate judicial separation of properties
under paragraph 4 of Article 135 of the Family Code. The trial court ratiocinated:
Moreover, abandonment, under Article 101 of the Family Code quoted above, must be for a valid cause and the spouse is deemed to
have abandoned the other when he/she has left the conjugal dwelling without intention of returning. The intention of not returning is
prima facie presumed if the allegedly [sic] abandoning spouse failed to give any information as to his or her whereabouts within the
period of three months from such abandonment.

In the instant case, the petitioner knows that the respondent has returned to and stayed at his hometown in Maria Aurora, Philippines,
as she even went several times to visit him there after the alleged abandonment. Also, the respondent has been going back to the
USA to visit her and their children until the relations between them worsened. The last visit of said respondent was in October 2004
when he and the petitioner discussed the filing by the latter of a petition for dissolution of marriage with the California court. Such
turn for the worse of their relationship and the filing of the saidpetition can also be considered as valid causes for the respondent to
stay in the Philippines.19
Separation in fact for one year as a ground to grant a judicial separation of property was not tackled in the trial courts decision
because, the trial court erroneously treated the petition as liquidation of the absolute community of properties.
The records of this case are replete with evidence that Leticia and David had indeed separated for more than a year and that
reconciliation is highly improbable. First, while actual abandonment had not been proven, it is undisputed that the spouses had been
living separately since 2003 when David decided to go back to the Philippines to set up his own business. Second, Leticia heard from
her friends that David has been cohabiting with Estrellita Martinez, who represented herself as Estrellita Noveras. Editha Apolonio,
who worked in the hospital where David was once confined, testified that she saw the name of Estrellita listed as the wife of David in
the Consent for Operation form.20 Third and more significantly, they had filed for divorce and it was granted by the California court in
June 2005.
Having established that Leticia and David had actually separated for at least one year, the petition for judicial separation of absolute
community of property should be granted.
The grant of the judicial separation of the absolute community property automatically dissolves the absolute community regime, as
stated in the 4th paragraph of Article 99 ofthe Family Code, thus:
Art. 99. The absolute community terminates:
(1) Upon the death of either spouse;
(2) When there is a decree of legal separation;
(3) When the marriage is annulled or declared void; or
(4) In case of judicial separation of property during the marriage under Articles 134 to 138. (Emphasis supplied).
Under Article 102 of the same Code, liquidation follows the dissolution of the absolute community regime and the following procedure
should apply:
Art. 102. Upon dissolution of the absolute community regime, the following procedure shall apply:
(1) An inventory shall be prepared, listing separately all the properties of the absolute community and the exclusive
properties of each spouse.
(2) The debts and obligations of the absolute community shall be paid out of its assets. In case of insufficiency of said assets,
the spouses shall be solidarily liable for the unpaid balance with their separate properties in accordance with the provisions
of the second paragraph of Article 94.
(3) Whatever remains of the exclusive properties of the spouses shall thereafter be delivered to each of them.
(4) The net remainder of the properties of the absolute community shall constitute its net assets, which shall be divided
equally between husband and wife, unless a different proportion or division was agreed upon in the marriage settlements, or
unless there has been a voluntary waiver of such share provided in this Code. For purposes of computing the net profits
subject to forfeiture in accordance with Articles 43, No. (2) and 63, No. (2),the said profits shall be the increase in value
between the market value of the community property at the time of the celebration of the marriage and the market value at
the time of its dissolution.
(5) The presumptive legitimes of the common children shall be delivered upon partition, in accordance with Article 51.
(6) Unless otherwise agreed upon by the parties, in the partition of the properties, the conjugal dwelling and the lot on which
it is situated shall be adjudicated tothe spouse with whom the majority of the common children choose to remain. Children
below the age of seven years are deemed to have chosen the mother, unless the court has decided otherwise. In case there
is no such majority, the court shall decide, taking into consideration the best interests of said children. At the risk of being
repetitious, we will not remand the case to the trial court. Instead, we shall adopt the modifications made by the Court of
Appeals on the trial courts Decision with respect to liquidation.
We agree with the appellate court that the Philippine courts did not acquire jurisdiction over the California properties of David and
Leticia. Indeed, Article 16 of the Civil Code clearly states that real property as well as personal property is subject to the law of the
country where it is situated. Thus, liquidation shall only be limited to the Philippine properties.

We affirm the modification madeby the Court of Appeals with respect to the share of the spouses in the absolutecommunity
properties in the Philippines, as well as the payment of their childrens presumptive legitimes, which the appellate court explained in
this wise:
Leticia and David shall likewise have an equal share in the proceeds of the Sampaloc property.1wphi1 While both claimed to have
contributed to the redemption of the Noveras property, absent a clear showing where their contributions came from, the same is
presumed to have come from the community property. Thus, Leticia is not entitled to reimbursement of half of the redemption money.
David's allegation that he used part of the proceeds from the sale of the Sampaloc property for the benefit of the absolute community
cannot be given full credence. Only the amount of P120,000.00 incurred in going to and from the U.S.A. may be charged thereto.
Election expenses in the amount of P300,000.00 when he ran as municipal councilor cannot be allowed in the absence of receipts or
at least the Statement of Contributions and Expenditures required under Section 14 of Republic Act No. 7166 duly received by the
Commission on Elections. Likewise, expenses incurred to settle the criminal case of his personal driver is not deductible as the same
had not benefited the family. In sum, Leticia and David shall share equally in the proceeds of the sale net of the amount
of P120,000.00 or in the respective amounts of P1,040,000.00.
xxxx
Under the first paragraph of Article 888 of the Civil Code, "(t)he legitime of legitimate children and descendants consists of one-half
or the hereditary estate of the father and of the mother." The children arc therefore entitled to half of the share of each spouse in the
net assets of the absolute community, which shall be annotated on the titles/documents covering the same, as well as to their
respective shares in the net proceeds from the sale of the Sampaloc property including the receivables from Sps. Paringit in the
amount of P410,000.00. Consequently, David and Leticia should each pay them the amount of P520,000.00 as their presumptive
legitimes therefrom.21
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The assailed Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA G.R. CV No. 88686 is AFFIRMED.
SO ORDERED.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
FIRST DIVISION
G.R. No. 171914

July 23, 2014

SOLEDAD L. LAVADIA, Petitioner,


vs.
HEIRS OF JUAN LUCES LUNA, represented by GREGORIO Z. LUNA and EUGENIA ZABALLERO-LUNA,Respondents.
DECISION
BERSAMIN, J.:
Divorce between Filipinos is void and ineffectual under the nationality rule adopted by Philippine law. Hence, any settlement of
property between the parties of the first marriage involving Filipinos submitted as an incident of a divorce obtained in a foreign
country lacks competent judicial approval, and cannot be enforceable against the assets of the husband who contracts a subsequent
marriage.
The Case
The petitioner, the second wife of the late Atty. Juan Luces Luna, appeals the adverse decision promulgated on November 11,
2005,1 whereby the Court of Appeals (CA) affirmed with modification the decision rendered on August 27, 2001 by the Regional Trial
Court (RTC), Branch 138, in Makati City.2 The CA thereby denied her right in the 25/100 pro indiviso share of the husband in a
condominium unit, and in the law books of the husband acquired during the second marriage.
Antecedents
The antecedent facts were summarized by the CA as follows:
ATTY. LUNA, a practicing lawyer, was at first a name partner in the prestigious law firm Sycip, Salazar, Luna, Manalo, Hernandez &
Feliciano Law Offices at that time when he was living with his first wife, herein intervenor-appellant Eugenia Zaballero-Luna
(EUGENIA), whom he initially married ina civil ceremony conducted by the Justice of the Peace of Paraaque, Rizal on September 10,
1947 and later solemnized in a church ceremony at the Pro-Cathedral in San Miguel, Bulacan on September 12, 1948. In ATTY. LUNAs
marriage to EUGENIA, they begot seven (7) children, namely: Regina Maria L. Nadal, Juan Luis Luna, Araceli Victoria L. Arellano, Ana
Maria L. Tabunda, Gregorio Macario Luna, Carolina Linda L. Tapia, and Cesar Antonio Luna. After almost two (2) decades of marriage,
ATTY. LUNA and EUGENIA eventually agreed to live apart from each other in February 1966 and agreed to separation of property, to
which end, they entered into a written agreement entitled "AGREEMENT FOR SEPARATION AND PROPERTY SETTLEMENT" dated
November 12, 1975, whereby they agreed to live separately and to dissolve and liquidate their conjugal partnership of property.
On January 12, 1976, ATTY. LUNA obtained a divorce decree of his marriage with EUGENIA from the Civil and Commercial Chamber of
the First Circumscription of the Court of First Instance of Sto. Domingo, Dominican Republic. Also in Sto.Domingo, Dominican Republic,
on the same date, ATTY. LUNA contracted another marriage, this time with SOLEDAD. Thereafter, ATTY. LUNA and SOLEDAD returned
to the Philippines and lived together as husband and wife until 1987.
Sometime in 1977, ATTY. LUNA organized a new law firm named: Luna, Puruganan, Sison and Ongkiko (LUPSICON) where ATTY. LUNA
was the managing partner.
On February 14, 1978, LUPSICON through ATTY. LUNA purchased from Tandang Sora Development Corporation the 6th Floor of KalawLedesma Condominium Project(condominium unit) at Gamboa St., Makati City, consisting of 517.52 square meters, for P1,449,056.00,
to be paid on installment basis for 36months starting on April 15, 1978. Said condominium unit was to be usedas law office of
LUPSICON. After full payment, the Deed of Absolute Sale over the condominium unit was executed on July 15, 1983, and CCT No.
4779 was issued on August 10, 1983, which was registered bearing the following names:
"JUAN LUCES LUNA, married to Soledad L. Luna (46/100); MARIO E. ONGKIKO, married to Sonia P.G. Ongkiko (25/100); GREGORIO R.
PURUGANAN, married to Paz A. Puruganan (17/100); and TERESITA CRUZ SISON, married to Antonio J.M. Sison (12/100) x x x"
Subsequently, 8/100 share of ATTY. LUNA and 17/100 share of Atty. Gregorio R. Puruganan in the condominium unit was sold to Atty.
Mario E. Ongkiko, for which a new CCT No. 21761 was issued on February 7, 1992 in the following names:

"JUAN LUCES LUNA, married to Soledad L. Luna (38/100); MARIO E. ONGKIKO, married to Sonia P.G. Ongkiko (50/100); TERESITA CRUZ
SISON, married to Antonio J.M. Sison (12/100) x x x"
Sometime in 1992, LUPSICON was dissolved and the condominium unit was partitioned by the partners but the same was still
registered in common under CCT No. 21716. The parties stipulated that the interest of ATTY. LUNA over the condominium unit would
be 25/100 share. ATTY. LUNA thereafter established and headed another law firm with Atty. Renato G. Dela Cruzand used a portion of
the office condominium unit as their office. The said law firm lasted until the death of ATTY. JUAN on July 12, 1997.
After the death of ATTY. JUAN, his share in the condominium unit including the lawbooks, office furniture and equipment found therein
were taken over by Gregorio Z. Luna, ATTY. LUNAs son of the first marriage. Gregorio Z. Luna thenleased out the 25/100 portion of
the condominium unit belonging to his father to Atty. Renato G. De la Cruz who established his own law firm named Renato G. De la
Cruz & Associates.
The 25/100 pro-indiviso share of ATTY. Luna in the condominium unit as well as the law books, office furniture and equipment became
the subject of the complaint filed by SOLEDAD against the heirs of ATTY. JUAN with the RTC of Makati City, Branch 138, on September
10, 1999, docketed as Civil Case No. 99-1644. The complaint alleged that the subject properties were acquired during the existence
of the marriage between ATTY. LUNA and SOLEDAD through their joint efforts that since they had no children, SOLEDAD became coowner of the said properties upon the death of ATTY. LUNA to the extent of pro-indiviso share consisting of her share in the said
properties plus her share in the net estate of ATTY. LUNA which was bequeathed to her in the latters last will and testament; and
thatthe heirs of ATTY. LUNA through Gregorio Z. Luna excluded SOLEDAD from her share in the subject properties. The complaint
prayed that SOLEDAD be declared the owner of the portion of the subject properties;that the same be partitioned; that an
accounting of the rentals on the condominium unit pertaining to the share of SOLEDAD be conducted; that a receiver be appointed to
preserve ad administer the subject properties;and that the heirs of ATTY. LUNA be ordered to pay attorneys feesand costs of the suit
to SOLEDAD.3
Ruling of the RTC
On August 27, 2001, the RTC rendered its decision after trial upon the aforementioned facts, 4 disposing thusly:
WHEREFORE, judgment is rendered as follows:
(a) The 24/100 pro-indiviso share in the condominium unit located at the SIXTH FLOOR of the KALAW LEDESMA
CONDOMINIUM PROJECT covered by Condominium Certificate of Title No. 21761 consisting of FIVE HUNDRED SEVENTEEN
(517/100) SQUARE METERS is adjudged to have been acquired by Juan Lucas Luna through his sole industry;
(b) Plaintiff has no right as owner or under any other concept over the condominium unit, hence the entry in Condominium
Certificate of Title No. 21761 of the Registry of Deeds of Makati with respect to the civil status of Juan Luces Luna should be
changed from "JUAN LUCES LUNA married to Soledad L. Luna" to "JUAN LUCES LUNA married to Eugenia Zaballero Luna";
(c) Plaintiff is declared to be the owner of the books Corpus Juris, Fletcher on Corporation, American Jurisprudence and
Federal Supreme Court Reports found in the condominium unit and defendants are ordered to deliver them to the plaintiff as
soon as appropriate arrangements have been madefor transport and storage.
No pronouncement as to costs.
SO ORDERED.5
Decision of the CA
Both parties appealed to the CA.6
On her part, the petitioner assigned the following errors to the RTC, namely:
I. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN RULING THAT THE CONDOMINIUM UNIT WAS ACQUIRED THRU THE SOLE INDUSTRY OF ATTY.
JUAN LUCES LUNA;
II. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN RULING THAT PLAINTIFFAPPELLANT DID NOT CONTRIBUTE MONEY FOR THE ACQUISITION OF
THE CONDOMINIUM UNIT;

III. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN GIVING CREDENCE TO PORTIONS OF THE TESTIMONY OF GREGORIO LUNA, WHO HAS NO
ACTUAL KNOWLEDGE OF THE ACQUISITION OF THE UNIT, BUT IGNORED OTHER PORTIONS OF HIS TESTIMONY FAVORABLE TO
THE PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT;
IV. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN NOT GIVING SIGNIFICANCE TO THE FACT THAT THE CONJUGAL PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN
LUNA AND INTERVENOR-APPELLANT WAS ALREADY DISSOLVED AND LIQUIDATED PRIOR TO THE UNION OF PLAINTIFFAPPELLANT AND LUNA;
V. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN GIVING UNDUE SIGNIFICANCE TO THE ABSENCE OF THE DISPOSITION OF THE CONDOMINIUM
UNIT IN THE HOLOGRAPHIC WILL OF THE PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT;
VI. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN GIVING UNDUE SIGNIFICANCE TO THE FACTTHAT THE NAME OF PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT DID
NOT APPEAR IN THE DEED OF ABSOLUTE SALE EXECUTED BY TANDANG SORA DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION OVER THE
CONDOMINIUM UNIT;
VII. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN RULING THAT NEITHER ARTICLE 148 OF THE FAMILYCODE NOR ARTICLE 144 OF THE CIVIL
CODE OF THE PHILIPPINES ARE APPLICABLE;
VIII. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN NOT RULING THAT THE CAUSE OF ACTION OF THE INTERVENOR-APPELLANT HAS BEEN
BARRED BY PESCRIPTION AND LACHES; and
IX. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN NOT EXPUNGING/DISMISSING THE INTERVENTION FOR FAILURE OF INTERVENOR-APPELLANT
TO PAY FILING FEE.7
In contrast, the respondents attributedthe following errors to the trial court, to wit:
I. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN HOLDING THAT CERTAIN FOREIGN LAW BOOKS IN THE LAW OFFICE OF ATTY. LUNA WERE
BOUGHT WITH THE USE OF PLAINTIFFS MONEY;
II. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN HOLDING THAT PLAINTIFF PROVED BY PREPONDERANCE OF EVIDENCE (HER CLAIM OVER)
THE SPECIFIED FOREIGN LAW BOOKS FOUND IN ATTY. LUNAS LAW OFFICE; and
III. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN NOT HOLDING THAT, ASSUMING PLAINTIFF PAID FOR THE SAID FOREIGN LAW BOOKS, THE
RIGHT TO RECOVER THEM HAD PRESCRIBED AND BARRED BY LACHES AND ESTOPPEL. 8
On November 11, 2005, the CA promulgated its assailed modified decision, 9 holding and ruling:
EUGENIA, the first wife, was the legitimate wife of ATTY. LUNA until the latters death on July 12, 1997. The absolute divorce decree
obtained by ATTY. LUNA inthe Dominican Republic did not terminate his prior marriage with EUGENIA because foreign divorce between
Filipino citizens is not recognized in our jurisdiction. x x x10
xxxx
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the assailed August 27, 2001 Decision of the RTC of MakatiCity, Branch 138, is hereby
MODIFIEDas follows:
(a) The 25/100 pro-indiviso share in the condominium unit at the SIXTH FLOOR of the KALAW LEDESMA CONDOMINIUM
PROJECT covered by Condominium Certificate of Title No. 21761 consisting of FIVE HUNDRED SEVENTEEN (517/100) (sic)
SQUARE METERS is hereby adjudged to defendants-appellants, the heirs of Juan Luces Luna and Eugenia Zaballero-Luna
(first marriage), having been acquired from the sole funds and sole industry of Juan Luces Luna while marriage of Juan Luces
Luna and Eugenia Zaballero-Luna (first marriage) was still subsisting and valid;
(b) Plaintiff-appellant Soledad Lavadia has no right as owner or under any other concept over the condominium unit, hence
the entry in Condominium Certificate of Title No. 21761 of the Registry of Deeds ofMakati with respect to the civil status of
Juan Luces Luna should be changed from "JUAN LUCES LUNA married to Soledad L. Luna" to "JUAN LUCES LUNA married to
Eugenia Zaballero Luna";
(c) Defendants-appellants, the heirs of Juan Luces Luna and Eugenia Zaballero-Luna(first marriage) are hereby declared to be
the owner of the books Corpus Juris, Fletcher on Corporation, American Jurisprudence and Federal Supreme Court Reports
found in the condominium unit.

No pronouncement as to costs.
SO ORDERED.11
On March 13, 2006,12 the CA denied the petitioners motion for reconsideration. 13
Issues
In this appeal, the petitioner avers in her petition for review on certiorarithat:
A. The Honorable Court of Appeals erred in ruling that the Agreement for Separation and Property Settlement executed by
Luna and Respondent Eugenia was unenforceable; hence, their conjugal partnership was not dissolved and liquidated;
B. The Honorable Court of Appeals erred in not recognizing the Dominican Republic courts approval of the Agreement;
C. The Honorable Court of Appeals erred in ruling that Petitioner failed to adduce sufficient proof of actual contribution to the
acquisition of purchase of the subjectcondominium unit; and
D. The Honorable Court of Appeals erred in ruling that Petitioner was not entitled to the subject law books. 14
The decisive question to be resolved is who among the contending parties should be entitled to the 25/100 pro indivisoshare in the
condominium unit; and to the law books (i.e., Corpus Juris, Fletcher on Corporation, American Jurisprudence and Federal Supreme
Court Reports).
The resolution of the decisive question requires the Court to ascertain the law that should determine, firstly, whether the divorce
between Atty. Luna and Eugenia Zaballero-Luna (Eugenia) had validly dissolved the first marriage; and, secondly, whether the second
marriage entered into by the late Atty. Luna and the petitioner entitled the latter to any rights in property. Ruling of the Court
We affirm the modified decision of the CA.
1. Atty. Lunas first marriage with Eugenia
subsisted up to the time of his death
The first marriage between Atty. Luna and Eugenia, both Filipinos, was solemnized in the Philippines on September 10, 1947. The law
in force at the time of the solemnization was the Spanish Civil Code, which adopted the nationality rule. The Civil Codecontinued to
follow the nationality rule, to the effect that Philippine laws relating to family rights and duties, or to the status, condition and legal
capacity of persons were binding upon citizens of the Philippines, although living abroad. 15 Pursuant to the nationality rule, Philippine
laws governed thiscase by virtue of bothAtty. Luna and Eugenio having remained Filipinos until the death of Atty. Luna on July 12,
1997 terminated their marriage.
From the time of the celebration ofthe first marriage on September 10, 1947 until the present, absolute divorce between Filipino
spouses has not been recognized in the Philippines. The non-recognition of absolute divorce between Filipinos has remained even
under the Family Code,16 even if either or both of the spouses are residing abroad. 17 Indeed, the only two types of defective marital
unions under our laws have beenthe void and the voidable marriages. As such, the remedies against such defective marriages have
been limited to the declaration of nullity ofthe marriage and the annulment of the marriage.
It is true that on January 12, 1976, the Court of First Instance (CFI) of Sto. Domingo in the Dominican Republic issued the Divorce
Decree dissolving the first marriage of Atty. Luna and Eugenia.18 Conformably with the nationality rule, however, the divorce, even if
voluntarily obtained abroad, did not dissolve the marriage between Atty. Luna and Eugenia, which subsisted up to the time of his
death on July 12, 1997. This finding conforms to the Constitution, which characterizes marriage as an inviolable social
institution,19 and regards it as a special contract of permanent union between a man and a woman for the establishment of a conjugal
and family life.20 The non-recognition of absolute divorce in the Philippines is a manifestation of the respect for the sanctity of the
marital union especially among Filipino citizens. It affirms that the extinguishment of a valid marriage must be grounded only upon
the death of either spouse, or upon a ground expressly provided bylaw. For as long as this public policy on marriage between Filipinos
exists, no divorce decree dissolving the marriage between them can ever be given legal or judicial recognition and enforcement in
this jurisdiction.
2. The Agreement for Separation and Property Settlement
was void for lack of court approval

The petitioner insists that the Agreement for Separation and Property Settlement (Agreement) that the late Atty. Luna and Eugenia
had entered into and executed in connection with the divorce proceedings before the CFI of Sto. Domingo in the Dominican Republic
to dissolve and liquidate their conjugal partnership was enforceable against Eugenia. Hence, the CA committed reversible error in
decreeing otherwise.
The insistence of the petitioner was unwarranted.
Considering that Atty. Luna and Eugenia had not entered into any marriage settlement prior to their marriage on September 10, 1947,
the system of relative community or conjugal partnership of gains governed their property relations. This is because the Spanish Civil
Code, the law then in force at the time of their marriage, did not specify the property regime of the spouses in the event that they
had not entered into any marriage settlement before or at the time of the marriage. Article 119 of the Civil Codeclearly so provides,
to wit:
Article 119. The future spouses may in the marriage settlements agree upon absolute or relative community of property, or upon
complete separation of property, or upon any other regime. In the absence of marriage settlements, or when the same are void, the
system of relative community or conjugal partnership of gains as established in this Code, shall govern the property relations
between husband and wife.
Article 142 of the Civil Codehas defined a conjugal partnership of gains thusly:
Article 142. By means of the conjugal partnership of gains the husband and wife place in a common fund the fruits of their separate
property and the income from their work or industry, and divide equally, upon the dissolution of the marriage or of the partnership,
the net gains or benefits obtained indiscriminately by either spouse during the marriage.
The conjugal partnership of gains subsists until terminated for any of various causes of termination enumerated in Article 175 of the
Civil Code, viz:
Article 175. The conjugal partnership of gains terminates:
(1) Upon the death of either spouse;
(2) When there is a decree of legal separation;
(3) When the marriage is annulled;
(4) In case of judicial separation of property under Article 191.
The mere execution of the Agreement by Atty. Luna and Eugenia did not per sedissolve and liquidate their conjugal partnership of
gains. The approval of the Agreement by a competent court was still required under Article 190 and Article 191 of the Civil Code, as
follows:
Article 190. In the absence of an express declaration in the marriage settlements, the separation of property between spouses during
the marriage shall not take place save in virtue of a judicial order. (1432a)
Article 191. The husband or the wife may ask for the separation of property, and it shall be decreed when the spouse of the petitioner
has been sentenced to a penalty which carries with it civil interdiction, or has been declared absent, or when legal separation has
been granted.
xxxx
The husband and the wife may agree upon the dissolution of the conjugal partnership during the marriage, subject to judicial
approval. All the creditors of the husband and of the wife, as well as of the conjugal partnership shall be notified of any petition for
judicialapproval or the voluntary dissolution of the conjugal partnership, so that any such creditors may appear atthe hearing to
safeguard his interests. Upon approval of the petition for dissolution of the conjugal partnership, the court shall take such measures
as may protect the creditors and other third persons.
After dissolution of the conjugal partnership, the provisions of articles 214 and 215 shall apply. The provisions of this Code concerning
the effect of partition stated in articles 498 to 501 shall be applicable. (1433a)
But was not the approval of the Agreement by the CFI of Sto. Domingo in the Dominican Republic sufficient in dissolving and
liquidating the conjugal partnership of gains between the late Atty. Luna and Eugenia?

The query is answered in the negative. There is no question that the approval took place only as an incident ofthe action for divorce
instituted by Atty. Luna and Eugenia, for, indeed, the justifications for their execution of the Agreement were identical to the grounds
raised in the action for divorce.21 With the divorce not being itself valid and enforceable under Philippine law for being contrary to
Philippine public policy and public law, the approval of the Agreement was not also legally valid and enforceable under Philippine law.
Consequently, the conjugal partnership of gains of Atty. Luna and Eugenia subsisted in the lifetime of their marriage.
3. Atty. Lunas marriage with Soledad, being bigamous,
was void; properties acquired during their marriage
were governed by the rules on co-ownership
What law governed the property relations of the second marriage between Atty. Luna and Soledad?
The CA expressly declared that Atty. Lunas subsequent marriage to Soledad on January 12, 1976 was void for being bigamous, 22 on
the ground that the marriage between Atty. Luna and Eugenia had not been dissolved by the Divorce Decree rendered by the CFI of
Sto. Domingo in the Dominican Republic but had subsisted until the death of Atty. Luna on July 12, 1997.
The Court concurs with the CA.
In the Philippines, marriages that are bigamous, polygamous, or incestuous are void. Article 71 of the Civil Codeclearly states:
Article 71. All marriages performed outside the Philippines in accordance with the laws in force in the country where they were
performed, and valid there as such, shall also be valid in this country, except bigamous, polygamous, or incestuous marriages as
determined by Philippine law.
Bigamy is an illegal marriage committed by contracting a second or subsequent marriage before the first marriage has been legally
dissolved, or before the absent spouse has been declared presumptively dead by means of a judgment rendered in the proper
proceedings.23 A bigamous marriage is considered void ab initio. 24
Due to the second marriage between Atty. Luna and the petitioner being void ab initioby virtue of its being bigamous, the properties
acquired during the bigamous marriage were governed by the rules on co-ownership, conformably with Article 144 of the Civil Code,
viz:
Article 144. When a man and a woman live together as husband and wife, but they are not married, ortheir marriage is void from the
beginning, the property acquired by eitheror both of them through their work or industry or their wages and salaries shall be
governed by the rules on co-ownership.(n)
In such a situation, whoever alleges co-ownership carried the burden of proof to confirm such fact.1wphi1 To establish co-ownership,
therefore, it became imperative for the petitioner to offer proof of her actual contributions in the acquisition of property. Her mere
allegation of co-ownership, without sufficient and competent evidence, would warrant no relief in her favor. As the Court explained in
Saguid v. Court of Appeals:25
In the cases of Agapay v. Palang, and Tumlos v. Fernandez, which involved the issue of co-ownership ofproperties acquired by the
parties to a bigamous marriage and an adulterous relationship, respectively, we ruled that proof of actual contribution in the
acquisition of the property is essential. The claim of co-ownership of the petitioners therein who were parties to the bigamous and
adulterousunion is without basis because they failed to substantiate their allegation that they contributed money in the purchase of
the disputed properties. Also in Adriano v. Court of Appeals, we ruled that the fact that the controverted property was titled in the
name of the parties to an adulterous relationship is not sufficient proof of coownership absent evidence of actual contribution in the
acquisition of the property.
As in other civil cases, the burden of proof rests upon the party who, as determined by the pleadings or the nature of the case,
asserts an affirmative issue. Contentions must be proved by competent evidence and reliance must be had on the strength of the
partys own evidence and not upon the weakness of the opponents defense. This applies with more vigor where, as in the instant
case, the plaintiff was allowed to present evidence ex parte.1wphi1 The plaintiff is not automatically entitled to the relief prayed for.
The law gives the defendantsome measure of protection as the plaintiff must still prove the allegations in the complaint. Favorable
relief can be granted only after the court isconvinced that the facts proven by the plaintiff warrant such relief. Indeed, the party
alleging a fact has the burden of proving it and a mereallegation is not evidence. 26
The petitioner asserts herein that she sufficiently proved her actual contributions in the purchase of the condominium unit in the
aggregate amount of at least P306,572.00, consisting in direct contributions ofP159,072.00, and in repaying the loans Atty. Luna had
obtained from Premex Financing and Banco Filipino totaling P146,825.30;27 and that such aggregate contributions of P306,572.00
corresponded to almost the entire share of Atty. Luna in the purchase of the condominium unit amounting to P362,264.00 of the units
purchase price of P1,449,056.00.28 The petitioner further asserts that the lawbooks were paid for solely out of her personal funds,
proof of which Atty. Luna had even sent her a "thank you" note; 29 that she had the financial capacity to make the contributions and

purchases; and that Atty. Luna could not acquire the properties on his own due to the meagerness of the income derived from his law
practice.
Did the petitioner discharge her burden of proof on the co-ownership?
In resolving the question, the CA entirely debunked the petitioners assertions on her actual contributions through the following
findings and conclusions, namely:
SOLEDAD was not able to prove by preponderance of evidence that her own independent funds were used to buy the law office
condominium and the law books subject matter in contentionin this case proof that was required for Article 144 of the New Civil
Code and Article 148 of the Family Code to apply as to cases where properties were acquired by a man and a woman living together
as husband and wife but not married, or under a marriage which was void ab initio. Under Article 144 of the New Civil Code, the rules
on co-ownership would govern. But this was not readily applicable to many situations and thus it created a void at first because it
applied only if the parties were not in any way incapacitated or were without impediment to marry each other (for it would be absurd
to create a co-ownership where there still exists a prior conjugal partnership or absolute community between the man and his lawful
wife). This void was filled upon adoption of the Family Code. Article 148 provided that: only the property acquired by both of the
parties through their actual joint contribution of money, property or industry shall be owned in common and in proportion to their
respective contributions. Such contributions and corresponding shares were prima faciepresumed to be equal. However, for this
presumption to arise, proof of actual contribution was required. The same rule and presumption was to apply to joint deposits of
money and evidence of credit. If one of the parties was validly married to another, his or her share in the co-ownership accrued to the
absolute community or conjugal partnership existing in such valid marriage. If the party who acted in bad faith was not validly
married to another, his or her share shall be forfeited in the manner provided in the last paragraph of the Article 147. The rules on
forfeiture applied even if both parties were in bad faith. Co-ownership was the exception while conjugal partnership of gains was the
strict rule whereby marriage was an inviolable social institution and divorce decrees are not recognized in the Philippines, as was held
by the Supreme Court in the case of Tenchavez vs. Escao, G.R. No. L-19671, November 29, 1965, 15 SCRA 355, thus:
xxxx
As to the 25/100pro-indivisoshare of ATTY. LUNA in the condominium unit, SOLEDAD failed to prove that she made an actual
contribution to purchase the said property. She failed to establish that the four (4) checks that she presented were indeed used for
the acquisition of the share of ATTY. LUNA in the condominium unit. This was aptly explained in the Decision of the trial court, viz.:
"x x x The first check, Exhibit "M" for P55,000.00 payable to Atty. Teresita Cruz Sison was issued on January 27, 1977, which was
thirteen (13) months before the Memorandum of Agreement, Exhibit "7" was signed. Another check issued on April 29, 1978 in the
amount of P97,588.89, Exhibit "P" was payable to Banco Filipino. According to the plaintiff, thiswas in payment of the loan of Atty.
Luna. The third check which was for P49,236.00 payable to PREMEX was dated May 19, 1979, also for payment of the loan of Atty.
Luna. The fourth check, Exhibit "M", forP4,072.00 was dated December 17, 1980. None of the foregoing prove that the amounts
delivered by plaintiff to the payees were for the acquisition of the subject condominium unit. The connection was simply not
established. x x x"
SOLEDADs claim that she made a cash contribution of P100,000.00 is unsubstantiated. Clearly, there is no basis for SOLEDADs claim
of co-ownership over the 25/100 portion of the condominium unit and the trial court correctly found that the same was acquired
through the sole industry of ATTY. LUNA, thus:
"The Deed of Absolute Sale, Exhibit "9", covering the condominium unit was in the name of Atty. Luna, together with his partners in
the law firm. The name of the plaintiff does not appear as vendee or as the spouse of Atty. Luna. The same was acquired for the use
of the Law firm of Atty. Luna. The loans from Allied Banking Corporation and Far East Bank and Trust Company were loans of Atty.
Luna and his partners and plaintiff does not have evidence to show that she paid for them fully or partially. x x x"
The fact that CCT No. 4779 and subsequently, CCT No. 21761 were in the name of "JUAN LUCES LUNA, married to Soledad L. Luna"
was no proof that SOLEDAD was a co-owner of the condominium unit. Acquisition of title and registration thereof are two different
acts. It is well settled that registration does not confer title but merely confirms one already existing. The phrase "married to"
preceding "Soledad L. Luna" is merely descriptive of the civil status of ATTY. LUNA.
SOLEDAD, the second wife, was not even a lawyer. So it is but logical that SOLEDAD had no participation in the law firm or in the
purchase of books for the law firm. SOLEDAD failed to prove that she had anything to contribute and that she actually purchased or
paid for the law office amortization and for the law books. It is more logical to presume that it was ATTY. LUNA who bought the law
office space and the law books from his earnings from his practice of law rather than embarrassingly beg or ask from SOLEDAD
money for use of the law firm that he headed. 30
The Court upholds the foregoing findings and conclusions by the CA both because they were substantiated by the records and
because we have not been shown any reason to revisit and undo them. Indeed, the petitioner, as the party claiming the coownership, did not discharge her burden of proof. Her mere allegations on her contributions, not being evidence, 31 did not serve the

purpose. In contrast, given the subsistence of the first marriage between Atty. Luna and Eugenia, the presumption that Atty. Luna
acquired the properties out of his own personal funds and effort remained. It should then be justly concluded that the properties in
litislegally pertained to their conjugal partnership of gains as of the time of his death. Consequently, the sole ownership of the 25/100
pro indivisoshare of Atty. Luna in the condominium unit, and of the lawbooks pertained to the respondents as the lawful heirs of Atty.
Luna.
WHEREFORE, the Court AFFIRMS the decision promulgated on November 11, 2005; and ORDERS the petitioner to pay the costs of
suit.
SO ORDERED.

EN BANC
[ G.R. No. L-57257, March 05, 1984 ]
ILUMINADA PONCE BERCILES, ILONA BERCILES ALVAREZ, ELLERY P. BERCILES, ENGLAND P. BERCILES AND IONE P.
BERCILES, PETITIONERS, VS. GOVERNMENT SERVICE INSURANCE SYSTEM, PASCUAL VOLTAIRE BERCILES, MARIA LUISA
BERCILES VILLAREAL, MERCY BERCILES PATACSIL AND RHODA BERCILES, RESPONDENTS.

[ADMINISTRATIVE MATTER NO. 1337-RET., MARCH 5, 1984]

RE: CLAIM OF THE HEIRS OF THE LATE PASCUAL G. BERCILES, FORMER DISTRICT JUDGE OF THE COURT OF FIRST
INSTANCE OF CEBU, CEBU CITY, FOR THE UNPAID SALARY, MONEY VALUE OF TERMINAL LEAVE AND REPRESENTATION
AND TRANSPORTATION ALLOWANCES OF THE DECEASED JUDGE.

[ADMINISTRATIVE MATTER NO. 10468-CFI, MARCH 5, 1984]

RE: TERMINAL LEAVE PAY, UNPAID SALARY AND ALLOWANCE OF THE LATE CFI JUDGE PASCUAL G. BERCILES: FLOR
FUENTEBELLA AND HER FOUR CHILDREN, ALL SURNAMED BERCILES, PETITIONERS, VS. ILUMINADA PONCE AND HER
FOUR CHILDREN, ALL SURNAMED BERCILES, RESPONDENTS.

DECISION
GUERRERO, J.:
The disposition made by respondent GSIS of the retirement benefits under Republic Act 910, as amended, due the heirs of the late
Judge of Court of First Instance Pascual G. Berciles whereby the GSIS considered said retirement benefits in the total amount of
P311,460.00 as partly conjugal and partly exclusive in nature and thus divided the same in the following proportion:
77/ 134
10/ 134
5/ 134
4/ 134

for the surviving spouse, Iluminada Ponce Berciles;


each for the legitimate children, Ilona Berciles Alvarez, Ellery P. Berciles, England P. Berciles and Ione
P. Berciles;
for the acknowledged natural child Pascual Voltaire Berciles;
each for the illegitimate children, namely, Maria Luisa Berciles, Mercy Berciles and Rhoda Berciles

is erroneous in view of the rule We laid down in Re: Claims for Benefits of the Heirs of the Late Mario V. Chanliongco, et al., 79 SCRA
364; Vda. de Consuegra, et al. vs. GSIS, 37 SCRA 315 that retirement benefits shall accrue to his estate and will be distributed among
his legal heirs in accordance with the law on intestate succession, as in the case of a life insurance if no beneficiary is named in the
insurance policy, and that the money value of the unused vacation and sick leave, and unpaid salary form part of the conjugal estate
of the married employee.
Moreover, We find grave abuse of discretion on the part of respondent GSIS, acting through its Board of Trustees, in resolving under
its Resolution No. 431 to approve the recommendation of the Committee on Claims Settlement that private respondent Pascual
Voltaire Berciles is an acknowledged natural child and that the other private respondents Maria Luisa Berciles Villareal, Mercy Berciles
Patacsil and Rhoda Berciles are illegitimate children of the late Judge Pascual G. Berciles in the absence of substantial evidence
through competent and admissible proof of acknowledgment by and filiation with said deceased parent as required under the law.
Judge Pascual G. Berciles of the Court of First Instance of Cebu died in office on August 21, 1979 at the age of sixty-six years, death
caused by "cardiac arrest due to cerebral vascular accident." Having served the government for more than thirty-four (34) years,
twenty-six (26) years in the judiciary, the late Judge Berciles was eligible for retirement under Republic Act No. 910, as amended by

Republic Act No. 5095 so that his heirs were entitled to survivors benefits amounting to P311,460.00 under Section 2 of said Act.
Other benefits accruing to the heirs of the deceased consist of the unpaid salary, the money value of his terminal leave and
representation and transportation allowances, computed at P60,817.52, all of which are to be paid by this Court as the deceased's
last employer, and the return of retirement premiums paid by the retiree in the amount of P9,700.00 to be paid by the GSIS. Such
benefits are now being claimed by two families, both of whom claim to be the deceased's lawful heirs.
Iluminada Ponce of Tagudin, Ilocos Sur, and her four children, Ilona, Ellery, England and Ione, filed with Us an application for survivors
benefits under Republic Act 910, as amended by R.A. No. 5095 effective August 21, 1979 as the legal spouse and legitimate children
of the late Judge Pascual G. Berciles, duly supported by the required documents.
The other set of claimants are Flor Fuentebella, and her four children, namely Pascual Voltaire, Maria Luisa, Mercy and Rhoda, all
surnamed Berciles, the latter filing her family's claim by means of a letter dated November 10, 1979 and supporting documents were
also submitted with their claim. The matter of these two (2) conflicting claims was first docketed before this Court as Administrative
Matter No. 1337-Ret, and in a Resolution of the Court En Banc dated April 10, 1980, We resolved to APPROVE the application of Ms.
Iluminada P. Berciles for survivor's benefits under the above-cited law, effective August 21, 1979, subject to (a) the proper
determination of the rightful beneficiaries and their corresponding shares in accordance with law, it appearing that there are two
claimant families thereto, and (b) the usual clearance requirements.
In pursuance to the foregoing resolution, the Office of the Court Administrator recommended in a memorandum report dated
November 11, 1980 that (a) the transmittal to the GSIS of the retirement papers of the late Judge Pascual Berciles be held in
abeyance until the payment to the rightful heirs of the unpaid salary, money value of terminal leave and representation and
transportation allowances of the deceased Judge, and (b) that an investigator be designated to determine the respective claims of the
supposed heirs of the late Judge. The aforesaid recommendation was approved by the Chief Justice on November 27, 1980 and Atty.
Reinato G. Quilala of the Office of the Court Administrator was designated on December 15, 1980 as Court Investigator to help
determine the rightful beneficiaries of the subject benefits.
Thereupon, Atty. Quilala sent on December 22, 1980 to all the alleged heirs a notice of hearing set for January 26, 1981 and the
following days thereafter for the reception of evidence in support of their respective claims. None of the parties, however, appeared.
Records from the Retirement Section, Administrative Services Office of this Court show that the claim of Iluminada Ponce and her children was already approved by the GSIS as of October 9, 1980 and that in fact, the five years lump sum equivalent to P301,760.00
(gratuity less the retirement premiums paid under R.A. 910, as amended, which was to be returned to the retiree by the GSIS) under
Check No. 04824308 as retirement gratuity of the deceased had been remitted by the Budget and Finance Office of this Court to the
GSIS for payment to the heir-beneficiaries on October 15, 1980.
On February 4, 1981, Atty. Cecilia T. Berciles, daughter-in-law of the deceased Judge, and Mrs. Iluminada Ponce Berciles submitted to
the Court Investigator additional documents in support of the claim of Mrs. Iluminada P. Berciles and her children, consisting of (A)
Evaluation Report, as approved by the GSIS, under P.D. No. 626 with the following recommendations, to wit:
"1. It is recommended that the death benefits under PD 626 due to the death of the deceased of a compensable contingency, be
awarded to Iluminada Ponce having established her marriage to the deceased and had been living with the deceased up to the time
of the latter's death.
"2. In the same light, the claim of Flor Fuentebella be denied for two reasons: (a) She has not clearly established her legitimate
relationship with the deceased and, (b) She was not living with the deceased at the time of his death as required by the rules and
regulation of P.D. 626, as amended. (Rule XIV, Section 1(b), No. 1 the legitimate spouse living with the employee at the time of
employee's death x x x)."

and (B) Certified Xerox copies of the late Judge Berciles' Income Tax Returns for 1975, 1976 and 1979 where he listed Mrs. Iluminada
P. Berciles as his wife or spouse; also submitted in addition to the foregoing documents, is a certified xerox copy of the application for
optional insurance filed with the GSIS by the late Judge Berciles, dated November 19, 1956, wherein the deceased listed as his beneficiaries therein the following persons:
ILONA BERCILES - 11 years old - daughter;
ELLERY BERCILES - 10 years old - son;
ENGLAND BERCILES - 8 years old - son;
IONE BERCILES - 1 year old - daughter; and
ILUMINADA P. BERCILES - 33 years old - wife.
The above documents were noted in the Memorandum to the Chief Justice dated March 11, 1981 by the Deputy Court Administrator.
And notwithstanding the telegram sent to them on February 5, 1981 requiring them to submit their evidence of filiation with the
deceased Judge Berciles, no such evidence was submitted by the Fuentebellas. Accordingly, it was recommended in said
Memorandum that "the alleged marital relationship between the late Judge Berciles and Ms. Flor Fuentebella Berciles has no leg to
stand on. It should be stated in this connection that there was no marriage contract submitted by Miss Rhoda F. Berciles in her claimletter, dated October 29, 1979, nor was there any certification from the Local Civil Registrar certifying to the fact that the deceased
Judge was actually married to Miss Flor Fuentebella. It can, therefore, be assumed that Miss Flor Fuentebella was not legally married
to the late Judge Pascual Berciles. Necessarily, it follows that the innocent children that came into being out of the alleged marital
union of the deceased Judge and Ms. Flor Fuentebella Berciles are spurious and have no established family filiation with the said
Judge. We can, therefore, rule that the attached papers/documents in the letter of Miss Rhoda F. Berciles, dated October 29, 1979
relative to their claim as the surviving heirs of the late CFI Judge Pascual Berciles are mere scrap of papers unworthy of credence,
there being no substantiating evidence to corroborate the same, especially so in the face of the adverse claim of Mrs. Iluminada
Ponce Berciles as the rightful surviving spouse and with whom the deceased Judge was living with at the time of his untimely
demise."
The same memorandum, therefore, recommended that since "(a)ll the documents presented amply corroborate and fully substantiate
what were previously submitted to the office by Mrs. Iluminada Ponce Berciles and her children. We find, therefore, the evidence
presented and submitted in favor of Mrs. Iluminada Ponce Berciles as sufficient to establish the fact that she is the lawfully wedded
wife of the deceased Judge Berciles. This finding is fully supported by the certification issued by the Local Civil Registrar of Bocaue,
Bulacan, dated August 24, 1977, attesting to the marriage between the deceased Judge and Iluminada Ponce which took place on
January 20, 1941 before the then Justice of the Peace of the place. This being the case, the four (4) children (ILONA, ELLERY,
ENGLAND and IONE) begotten by the said spouses during their marital union are all legitimate, x x x that the unpaid salary, money
value of terminal leave and representation and transportation allowances of the late District Judge Pascual G. Bercils be awarded and
correspondingly distributed to his lawful heirs, namely, MRS. ILUMINADA PONCE BERCILES (surviving spouse); MRS. ILONA BERCILES
ALVAREZ, (daughter); ELLERY BERCILES (son); ENGLAND P. BERCILES (son); and IOM E P. BERCILES, (daughter)."
As recommended in the said memorandum, We approved the following Resolution dated March 17, 1981:
"Re: Claim of the heirs of the late Pascual G. Berciles, former District Judge of the Court of First Instance of Cebu, Cebu City, for the
unpaid salary, money value of terminal leave and representation and transportation allowances of the deceased Judge. - Considering
the memorandum of Deputy Court Administrator Leo D. Medialdea, recommending that the unpaid salary, money value of terminal
leave and representation and transportation allowances of the late District Judge Pascual G. Berciles be awarded and correspondingly
distributed to his lawful heirs, the Court Resolved to AWARD and CORRESPONDINGLY DISTRIBUTE aforesaid benefits to his lawful

heirs, namely: Mrs. Iluminada Ponce Berciles, surviving spouse; Mrs. Ilona Berciles Alvarez, daughter; Ellery Berciles, son; England P.
Berciles, son; and Ione P. Berciles, daughter."
Pursuant to the above Resolution, the amount of P60,817.52 was paid to Iluminada Ponce and her four children on April 2, 1981.
On April 23, 1981, Flor Fuentebella and her four children, Pascual Voltaire, Ma. Luisa, Mercy, and Rhoda, through counsel, filed a
Motion for Reconsideration praying that the resolution of March 17, 1981 be set aside; that they be allowed to present their evidence;
and that, after due hearing, the benefits be awarded and distributed to them as lawful heirs. In support of their motion, the movants
alleged that they did not receive the Resolution of March 17, 1981 nor the letter or notice of hearing sent by Atty. Quilala on
December 22, 1980, the same having been sent to their old address at 6069-B, Palma St., Makati; that all of the movants have left
the Philippines to reside in the United States of America and that the aunts and cousins residing at the old address moved to a new
address at GSIS Village, Project 8, Quezon City; that before they moved to the new address, these relatives left a forwarding address
at the Makati Post Office; and, that they did not receive the aforementioned mail. The fact of non-receipt was confirmed by one
Domingo P. Raiz, letter carrier of the Post Office of Makati, who executed an affidavit to that effect, which affidavit We admitted in Our
resolution of July 9, 1981. The matter of the Fuentebella Motion for Reconsideration is docketed before Us as Administrative Matter
No. 10468-CFI.
Acting on the aforesaid motion for reconsideration, We adopted the following resolution dated July 2, 1981, to wit:
"Administrative Matter No. 10468-CFI - Re Terminal Leave Pay, Unpaid Salary and Allowance of the late CFI judge Pascual G. Berciles:
Flor Fuentebella and her four children, all surnamed Berciles vs. Iluminada Ponce and her four children, all surnamed Berciles. - Judge
Pascual G. Berciles of the Court of First Instance of Cebu died in office on August 21, 1979 at the age of sixty-six years. He was a
native of Lapuz Norte, La Paz, Iloilo City.
Iluminada Ponce of Tagudin, Ilocos Sur, who claimed to be the decedent's widow, and her four children, Ilona, Ellery, England and
Ione, filed a claim dated May 2, 1980 for survivors' benefits. Iluminada executed an affidavit of heirship dated September 19, 1979.
On the other hand, Rhoda F. Berciles, 6069-B Palma Street, Makati, Rizal in a verified statement dated November 19, 1979, claimed
that the deceased judge was survived by Flor Fuentebella, as widow, and their four children named Voltaire, Luisa, Mercy and Rhoda.
Judge Berciles allegedly married Flor Fuentebella on March 28, 1937 in Iloilo City before City Judge Vicente Mapa.
Rhoda, in a letter to the Judicial Administrator dated October 29, 1979, requested the Judicial Administrator to hold the processing of
the claim filed by Iluminada Pence and her four children pending the of Rhoda's formal complaint.
Iluminada Ponce claimed that she was married to Judge Berciles at Bocaue, Bulacan on January 20, 1941.
This Court in its resolution of April 10, 1980 approved the grant of survivors' benefits subject to the proper determination of the
rightful beneficiaries and their corresponding shares in accordance with law, it appearing that there are two claimant families. (Adm.
Matter No. 1337-Ret. re Gratuity of Judge Berciles).
Pursuant to that resolution, the five-year lump sum gratuity amounting to P301,760 due to the heirs of Judge Berciles was remitted to
the GSIS on October 15, 1980. The said amount up to this time has not yet been distributed in view of the controversy between the
families of Flor Fuentebella and Iluminada Ponce as to who are the legal heirs of Judge Berciles.
In a letter dated October 9, 1980, Ellery P. Berciles requested the Chief Justice for the payment to Iluminada Ponce of the terminal
leave pay of Judge Berciles, which, together with his unpaid salary and allowance, amounted to P74,884.52, or to P60,817.52 after
deducting the withholding tax of P14,067.

Upon the recommendation of Court Administrator Lorenzo Relova and Deputy Court Administrator Leo D. Medialdea, the said amount
of P60,817.52 was paid to Iluminada Ponce and her four children on April 2, 1981 pursuant to this Court's resolution of March 17,
1981. Payment was made to them on the assumption that they are the only legal heirs of Judge Berciles.
Atty. Luzel D. Demasu-ay, counsel for Flor Fuentebella and her four children, in his motion for reconsideration dated April 21, 1981,
alleged that his clients were not heard before that payment was made. He said that the payment was being capitalized upon by
Iluminada Ponce and her children in the GSIS as the basis for the payment to them of the retirement gratuity of Judge Berciles.
Considering that the issue as to who are the legal heirs of Judge Berciles is still being litigated in the Social Security Services of the
GSIS (according to Atty. Felicisimo Fernandez of that unit), and the survivors' benefits have not yet been paid to Iluminada Ponce and
her children, and considering that the children of Flor Fuentebella, even as illegitimate children of Judge Berciles, would be entitled to
a share in his terminal leave pay, allowance and unpaid salary (In re Chanliongco, Adm. Matter No. 190-Ret., October 18, 1977, 79
SCRA 364), the Court Resolved (1) to require Iluminada Ponce and her children, c/o Ione P. Berciles, 9 Jersey Street, Toro Hills, Project
8, Quezon City, to COMMENT on the said motion for reconsideration within ten (10) days from notice and (2) to direct Atty. Juan P.
Enriquez, Jr., Deputy Clerk of Court and Chief of the GSIS administrative Division, to advise the GSIS that, should Flor Fuentebella and
her children be ultimately adjudged as legal heirs of Judge Berciles, their share in the sum of P60,817.50 (terminal leave pay, etc.)
would be taken from the survivors' benefits amounting to P301,760, already remitted to the GSIS and, consequently, the shares of
Iluminada Ponce and her children in the said, gratuity would answer for the portions due to Flor Fuentebella, et al. in the terminal
leave pay, etc., if adjudged entitled thereto.
A copy of this resolution should be furnished the GSIS."
In a subsequent Resolution dated July 21, 1981, We noted the Comment filed by Iluminada Ponce and in the same resolution, clarified
Our resolution of April 10, 1980 in Administrative Matter No. 1337-Ret., to wit:
"As may be seen from this Court's resolution of April 10, 1980 in Administrative Matter No. 1337-Ret. regarding the gratuity of Judge
Berciles, this Court has not finally and conclusively decided that the children of Flor Fuentebella are not the heirs of the late Judge
Berciles.
The question of whether the four children of Flor Fuentebella should share in the gratuity amounting to P301,760.00 is still being
litigated in the GSIS. Should it be finally decided by the GSIS that the children of Flor Fuentebella are entitled to share in that gratuity
or survivors' benefits, then they are also entitled to share in the terminal leave pay, unpaid salary and allowances and their share
should be deducted from the shares in the said gratuity of Iluminada Ponce and her four children.
This incident should, therefore, await the outcome of a final decision of competent authority on who are the heirs of Judge Berciles, as
contemplated in this Court's resolution of April 10, 1980 in Administrative Matter. No. 1337-Ret."
In the meantime, pursuant to Our Resolution of April 10, 1980, the papers were transmitted to the GSIS under the advisement that
the approval of the application of Iluminada Ponce was subject to the proper determination of the rightful beneficiaries.
The records of this Court, as adverted to earlier, disclose that on October 9, 1980, the GSIS approved the claim of Iluminada Ponce
and so, the five (5) years lump sum retirement gratuity of the deceased Judge, in the net amount of P301,760.00, was remitted by our
Budget and Finance Office to the GSIS on October 15, 1980 under Check No. 04824308 for payment to Iluminada and her four
children. The GSIS, however, in its Memorandum dated June 25, 1982 in G.R. No. 57257 denied having approved the claim of
Iluminada Ponce Berciles and her children saying that no such approval was made. The records in G.R No. 57257 disclose Annex "A"
attached to the petition on pp. 14-15 of the Rollo the following evaluation report evaluated by Carmelo C. Garcia, Legal Evaluator;
reviewed by Lorenzo Sanchez, Legal Evaluator; approved by Felicisimo A. Fernandez, Manager, Survivorship Benefits Dept.; and
confirmed by Juanito S. Santamaria, Vice President, SSS-II, to wit:

ANNEX "A"
"PASCUAL G. BERCILES
Judge, CFI, Branch XV, Cebu City
Died - August 21, 1979, Cause: CVA
Evaluation on compensability under PD 626, as amended.
I - Medical Evaluation Medically compensable for payment of death benefits as per Medical evaluation dated December 24, 1979.
II - Legal Evaluation A. Documents Submitted:
It appears that there are two claimants - both surviving spouse namely FLOR FUENTEBELLA and ILUMINADA PONCE, who alleged to
have been married to the deceased.
(1.) Documents submitted by Flor Fuentebella:
(a) Cert. from Census and Statistics of no record of marriage of Flor Fuentebella and Pascual Berciles alleged to have been solemnized
on March 28, 1937.
(b) Affidavit of Pascual Berciles dated May 22, 1972 that he and Flor were married by the late Judge J. Vicente Mapa.
(c) Affidavit of Coronacion Berciles, sister-in-law of Pascual Berciles as to the marriage of Flor and Pascual.
(d) Affidavit of Judge Rafael Lavente as to his being invited in the wedding of Flor and Pascual.
(e) Birth certificate of Pascual Voltaire Berciles - Aug. 30, 1938; Maria Luisa, June 27; 1943; Mercy, July 23, 1947; Rhoda, Feb. 7, 1949.
(f) Xerox copy of Income Tax Return for 1972 of Pascual showing Flor as the wife.
(2.) Documents submitted by Iluminada Ponce (a) Marriage certificate from Bocaue, Bulacan, showing marriage of Iluminada and Paquito Berciles on January 20, 1941.
(b) Birth certificate of Ilona - May 15, 1945; Ellery - Sept. 21, 1946; England - Nov. 14, 1948; Ione Ainee - Aug. 25, 1955.
(c) GSIS IMI on C-20297 dated Dec. 1, 1956 of Pascual Berciles.
(d) IMI on 0-26030 dated Jan. 1, 1957
(e) Affidavit of Pascual Berciles dated April 21, 1978 mentioning Ione and Iluminada as his daughter and wife respectively.
(f) Affidavit of four (4) relatives of Pascual as to their personal knowledge of the marriage of Iluminada and Pascual.
(g) Affidavit of Santiago Medina (former Fiscal), denying of having notarized an affidavit of Pascual the latter's marriage to Flor.

(3.) Clarifying documents (a) Affidavit dated Feb. 14, 1980, of City Judge Rafael Lavente rectifying his previous affidavit that he was not present in the wedding
of Flor and Pascual.
(b) Certification dated Feb. 4, 1980, from Ministry of Justice that there is no record of one J. Mapa as Municipal Judge of Iloilo from
1935 to 1945.
B. Findings After a careful study and appraisal of the documents above enumerated we cannot find merit on the claim of Flor Fuentebella
because
1. Flor has been living abroad since 1972.
2. Iluminada and the deceased were living together at the time of the latter's death (August 21, 1979).
Recommendation 1. It is recommended that the death benefits under PD 626 due to the death of the deceased of a compensable contingency, be
awarded to Iluminada Ponce for having established her marriage to the deceased and had been living with the deceased up to the
time of the latter's death.
2. In the same light, the claim of Flor Fuentebella be denied for two reasons:
(a) She has not clearly established her legitimate relationship with the deceased and,
(b) She was not living with the deceased at the time of his death as required by the rules and regulation of PD 626, as amended. (Rule
XIV, Section 1(b), No. 1 the legitimate spouse living with the employee at the time of employee's death x x x).
EVALUATED BY:
S/T CARMELO C. GARCIA
Legal Evaluator

REVIEWED BY:
S/T LORENZO SANCHEZ
Legal Evaluator

APPROVED:
S/T FELICISIMO A. FERNANDEZ
Manager, Survivorship Benefits Dept.
CONFIRMED:
S/T JUANITO A. SANTAMARIA
Vice President, SSS - II"

In denying the above approval, the GSIS in its Memorandum claims that the matter was elevated sometime in October 1980 to the
Committee on Claims Settlement for the proper determination of the legal heirs of the late Judge Berciles. The two sets of claimants
having failed to reach an amicable settlement, the GSIS advised the parties to submit the necessary documents to prove their
relationship or filiation to the deceased.
Thereafter, based on their respective documents and proofs of filiation, the Board of Trustees approved the findings and
recommendations of the Committee on Claims Settlement under its Resolution No. 431 adopted on June 3, 1981, the dispositive
portion of which states:

"After due deliberation, considering the foregoing, the Board RESOLVED TO APPROVE the recommendation of the Committee on
Claims Settlement that the retirement benefits under R.A, 910, as amended, due the late Judge Pascual G. Berciles in the total
amount of P311,460.00 which is partly conjugal and partly exclusive in nature, be divided in the following proportion:
77/ 134
10/ 134
5/ 134
4/134

for the surviving spouse, Iluminada Ponce Berciles;


each for the legitimate children, Ilona Berciles Alvarez, Ellery P. Berciles, England P. Berciles and Ione P. Berciles;
for the acknowledged natural child Pascual Voltaire Berciles;
each for the illegitimate children, namely, Maria Luisa Berciles, Mercy Berciles and Rhoda Berciles.
(Arts. 148 (2), 153 (2), 895, 983, 999, New Civil Code)
xxx
xxx
x x x."

Only the above dispositive portion of the aforementioned Resolution was communicated to Iluminada Ponce Berciles by the GSIS in
the letter signed by Felicisimo A. Fernandez, Manager, Survivorship Benefits Department, in his letter dated June 18, 1981 (Annex "D",
Petition in G.R. No. 57257, Rollo, p. 22). Not satisfied with the disposition of their claim, Iluminada Ponce Berciles and her four children
now come to this Court on appeal by certiorari, citing Section 25 of Presidential Decree No. 1146, otherwise known as the "Revised
Government Service Insurance Act of 1977" which took effect on May 31, 1977, which appeal is docketed as G.R. No. 57257.
As prayed for in the petition, We issued a temporary restraining order on July 13, 1981 enjoining the respondents from enforcing or
executing the GSIS Board of Trustee Resolution No. 431 dated June 3, 1981 and also required the respondents to file their respective
Comments to the Petition. Only the private respondents filed their Comment. Thereupon, acting on the merits of the pleadings filed,
We resolved to give due course to the petition in Our Resolution of April 14, 1982. Considering Our Resolution of July 21, 1981, the
disposition of Administrative Matter No. 1337-Ret. and Administrative Matter No. 10468-CFI rests on Our decision in the present
petition.
The primary issue raised in the herein petition for certiorari is the validity of the GSIS decision contained in its Resolution No. 431
finding private respondent Pascual Voltaire Berciles as an acknowledged natural child of the late Judge Pascual G. Berciles and the
other private respondents namely Maria Luisa Berciles Villareal, Mercy Berciles Patacsil and Rhoda Berciles as illegitimate children of
the deceased, and thus, upon this finding, disposed the retirement benefits in the manner and proportion set forth in said resolution
after considering said benefits as partly conjugal and partly exclusive. Petitioners contend that on the basis of the documents and
testimony submitted by private respondents, the conclusion of respondent GSIS is erroneous and unfounded and that respondent
GSIS erred grossly in its resolution. The correctness of the legal conclusion drawn by the respondent GSIS or its appreciation of the
undisputed state of facts obtaining in the present controversy is thus squarely raised by petitioners.
We note that private respondents in their Comment dated July 27, 1981 to the petition herein, while pointing out that the Supreme
Court is not the proper forum for the original determination of the legal heirs of a deceased judge who is covered by R.A. 910 as
amended and that the determination of the question of heirship can be appropriately considered only in our regular courts of justice
where private respondents actually did file a Special Civil Action No. 13966 for "Mandamus with Prayer for a Restraining Order" in the
Court of First Instance of Iloilo, Branch III, a copy of which is attached to the Comment as Annex "A", raised the same issue of illegality
as may be seen clearly in par. 8 of the petition as follows:
"8. That clearly from the foregoing adjudication rendered by the respondent Board of Trustees, petitioner Flor Fuentebella Berciles and
her children were unlawfully excluded from their lawful right to the death benefit of the late Judge Pascual G. Berciles as his only
lawful heirs;"
And like the petitioners herein, private respondents contend that the GSIS patently and gravely abused its discretion in denying the
latter's claim to the death benefits of the late Judge Pascual Berciles as the legal and lawful heirs as may also be clearly seen in par.
10 of the Mandamus Petition in the aforementioned Civil Case No. 13966, which reads thus:

"10. That in denying petitioners claim on the death benefit of the late Judge Pascual Berciles of whom petitioners are the legal and
lawful heirs and in neglecting and refusing to issue forthwith a resolution adjudicating the death benefit amounting to P311,460.00 in
favor of the petitioners as legal heirs, the respondent Board of Trustees of the GSIS patently and gravely abused its discretion and
unlawfully neglected the performance of an act which is specifically enjoined upon it by Sec. 5 of R.A. 910, as amended by R.A. 1057,
R.A. 1797, R.A. 2614, R.A. 4627 and R.A. 5095;"
In other words both families, raising grave abuse of discretion, question the legality of the GSIS Resolution based on the same
undisputed facts, the petitioners herein claiming they are the legal heirs, whereas, according to private respondents, they are the
ones legally entitled to the retirement benefits. The issue here then is one of law which the contending parties concede in their
respective pleadings and thus correctible by certiorari.
But to set the records straight, We quote hereunder the findings of the Committee on Claims Settlement which the GSIS Board of
Trustees adopted and approved under its Resolution No. 431.
"A brief summary of the evidence submitted by the contending parties appears necessary for the proper disposition of this case. As
proof of her marriage to Judge Pascual Berciles, claimant Iluminada Ponce Berciles submitted a certificate of marriage (Exh. "A")
indicating that she was married to one Paquito Berciles in Bocaue, Bulacan on January 20, 1941 before Judge Bonifacio Enriquez,
Justice of the Peace of the said municipality. The Committee noted that the husband's name appearing in the certificate is 'Paquito
Berciles' and not 'Pascual Berciles'.
"The discrepancy was explained in the sworn statement of Atty. Fortunato A. Padilla (Exh. "R") and in his deposition dated February
27, 1981 taken by Atty. Hilarion Palma, Branch Attorney of our GSIS Iloilo City Branch Office. In both documents, Atty. Padilla, a high
school classmate and college companion of the late Judge Berciles, stated that Pascual Gayta Berciles, Paquito Berciles or Paking
Berciles all refer to one and the same person who was the deceased Judge Pascual G. Berciles. In the deposition of Concepcion M.
Gonzales (Exh. "31-A") who was a witness for Flor Fuentebella, she also declared that Pascual Berciles was called Paking or Paquito
and that a brother Francisco was called Pako.
"Submitted also to the Committee by Iluminada Ponce are the birth certificates of her children: Ilona Berciles (Exh. "E"); Ellery Berciles
(Exh. "C"); England Joseph Berciles (Exh. "D-1"); Aiene Berciles (Exh. "B"). The other documents submitted such as the Information for
Membership Insurance (Exh. "F" and Exh. "G"), Income Tax Returns for the years 1975 (Exh. "U") and 1976 (Exh. "V"), individual
sworn statements of persons who knew or were related to the deceased corroborate the filial affinity of Iluminada Ponce and her
children to the late Judge Berciles.
"Based on these documents, there is no question that Iluminada Ponce was married to Pascual Berciles, alias Paquito, on January 20,
1941 at Bocaue, Bulacan. From this union, they begot the following children, namely: Ilona, Ellery, England and Ione.
"The evidence for claimant Flor Fuentebella Berciles and her children may also be briefly described as follows: She claims to have
been married to the late Judge Pascual Berciles on March 28, 1937 in Iloilo City before Justice of the Peace Jose Vicente Mapa. In other
words, she professes to be the first wife of the deceased Judge. Flor Fuentebella, was, however, not able to present her marriage
contract or certificate of marriage. Instead she submitted a certification of the Local Civil Registrar of Iloilo City (Exh. "1") attesting to
the loss or destruction of the records of marriage for the year 1944 and previous years and another certification issued by the Office
of Civil Registrar General of the National Census and Statistics Office (Exh. "2") stating the non-availability of the record of marriage
between Pascual Berciles and Flor Fuentebella.
"In concrete support of her claim of marriage to the late Judge Berciles, Flor Fuentebella presented to the Committee sworn
statements of several persons. Of the several sworn statements, at least two or three deserve serious consideration. The first is the
one executed by Concepcion M. Gonzales (Exh. "31") of 46 South Mapa, Philam Homes, Quezon City, who stated that she knew for a
fact that Flor Fuentebella was married to Pascual Berciles in 1937 at Iloilo City. It was represented to the Committee that she was

present as a guest in the marriage ceremony. Due to importance of her testimony, the Committee requested her actual presence in
the hearing. However, due to her advanced age of 89 years and her other physical infirmity, her attendance at the hearing was
dispensed with. Instead, the Committee directed the Manager, Survivorship Department to secure her deposition oh questions
prepared in advance by the Committee. In his report to the Committee, the Manager stated that the old lady is already blind, quite
hard of hearing and her memory already weak. In the Answers (Exh. "31-A") to the questions written by the Manager, Survivorship
Department, Concepcion Gonzales declared that she was present during the marriage ceremony of Pascual Berciles and Flor
Fuentebella which was held in the Municipal Hall of Iloilo City. She described the wedding as attended by only the members of the
family and that after the ceremony they went to the house of Pascual's parents where a small party was held.
"The Committee finds the testimony of Concepcion Gonzales quite deficient in important detail. Flor Fuentebella had not been
presented in person for the proper identification of the witness. Was the Flor Fuentebella who allegedly married Pascual Berciles on
March 28, 1937 the same Flor Fuentebella who is cited by Concepcion Gonzales? At any rate, assuming that a confrontation did occur,
Concepcion Gonzales would not be able to properly identify Flor Fuentebella, by reason of her blindness.
"The other sworn statements which merit particular discussion are those executed by Coronacion Berciles (Exhs. "10 and 31") a sisterin-law of the late Judge Berciles. Coronacion was presented before the Committee as a witness for Flor Fuentebella. In her testimony,
she stated facts and circumstances about the marital relations between Pascual Berciles and Flor Fuentebella. She declared that her
husband was the younger brother of the late Judge Berciles; that even before Pascual Barciles became a lawyer in 1938, he and Flor
Fuentebella were introduced to her by her husband; that after she was married to her husband they lived together with the family of
Pascual Berciles and his wife Flor Fuentebella; that their two families had lived closely enough during the Japanese Occupation and
even after. She further stated that the immediate members of the family with whom the spouses Pascual Berciles and Flor
Fuentebella had lived before and during the war were his mother Evarista, his two aunts Luisa Berciles and Eusebia Gayta and a sister
Susana Berciles. These testimonial and other declarations were later transcribed into a sworn statement which Coronacion executed
on December 5, 1980 and submitted to the Committee. (Exh. "32")
"At its best, Coronacion Berciles testified on the cohabitation as husband and wife of Pascual Berciles and Flor Fuentebella. But
cohabitation is not solid proof that a marriage had in fact taken place, especially in this case when such marriage is contested.
Coronacion could not state positively since she was not present in the alleged marriage ceremony.
"The third sworn statement which deserves the Committee's attention is the one executed by Judge Rafael Lavente, Presiding Judge
of Branch III, City Court of Iloilo, on February 14, 1080 (Exh. "N" for Iluminada Ponce, Exh. "35" for Flor Fuentebella). In this document,
Judge Lavente denied having been present in the wedding of Pascual Berciles and Flor Fuentebella; although he declared that the
'late Judge Berciles was married here in Iloilo City and that after his marriage he left Iloilo City. x x x.' (Exh. "35-A"), he did not state
with whom Pascual Berciles was married.
"Of course the affidavit of Flor F. Berciles herself (Exh. "5") was submitted wherein she stated that she was the legal wife of the late
Pascual G. Berciles and that she was married to him in Iloilo City on March 28, 1937. The affidavit is nothing more than a self-serving
statement. Flor Fuentebella was not presented to the Committee as a material witness. On the other hand, the sworn statement of
Pascual Berciles (Exh. "4") commands no evidentiary value at all. Mr. Santiago Medina, former Provincial Fiscal of Cebu, who appears
to have administered the oath, in a subsequent sworn statement (Exh. "M") denied his signature on the document (Exh. "4").
"The letters written by Judge Berciles to her daughters with Flor Fuentebella especially the one sent to daughter Mercy Berciles (Exh.
"22") wherein he vigorously affirmed that it's only her mother, Flor Fuentebella, and no other woman who was recognized as his wife
and loved by her parents deserve scant consideration. Pascual Barciles could not be expected to admit the existence of his other
family. This would be disastrous to his efforts at preventing one family from knowing the other.
"Flor Fuentebella likewise submitted to the Committee the birth or baptismal certificates of her children begotten with the late Judge
Berciles; the birth certificates of Pascual Voltaire Berciles (Exh. "6"); baptismal certificate of Maria Luisa Berciles (Exh. "7-A"); birth

certificate of Mercy Berciles (Exh. "8"); birth certificates of Rhoda Berciles (Exh. "9"). The other evidence consist of family pictures
(Exhs. "30 to 30-M") which have been identified by witness Coronacion Berciles both in her oral testimony before the Committee and
in her affidavit. (Exh. "32", par. 15). The pictures, however, do not indicate that the marriage took place. If at all, the said pictures
show the presence of a family with or without the sanction of marriage.
"After a careful evaluation of these documents, the Committee believes that there is no sufficient evidence that Pascual Berciles and
Flor Fuentebella were married to each other on March 28, 1937 in Iloilo City; however, certain relationship did exist and from such
relationship were begotten the following children, namely: Pascual Voltaire Berciles, Maria Luisa Berciles, Mercy Berciles and Rhoda
Berciles.
"Furthermore, the Committee entertains doubt on the authority of the officer who solemnized the marriage between Pascual Berciles
and Flor Fuentebella. It is true that the Official Roster of Officers and Employees in the Civil Service (Exhs. "3" and "3-A") include the
name Jose Vicente Mapa, Justice of the Peace for Iloilo. The listings however, do not indicate the exact date of employment of any
particular employee. The year 1935 indicated in the cover of the Roster may not be interpreted to mean that all those listed were
already in the service in 1935. It is possible that the Roster included those appointed as early as 1935 and those appointed at much
later date. This assumption deserves some degree of validity when considered in relation with the record of service furnished by the
Civil Service Commission (Exh. "T.") indicating that Jose Vicente Mapa was Acting Municipal Judge of Iloilo City effective July 16, 1937.
It further appears in the service record that he was Acting Municipal Judge pursuant to a Designation by letter of the Secretary to
President, dated June 30, 1937. If Jose Vicente Mapa was already a Municipal Judge prior to July 16, 1937, he could have been
assigned to a different municipality other than Iloilo, in which case he did not have the authority to solemnize marriage in Iloilo on
March 28, 1937. At any event, a serious uncertainty did exist as to whether Jose Vicente Mapa was already the Justice of the Peace of
Iloilo on the date the alleged marriage was contracted.
"The Committee therefore concludes that Judge Pascual Berciles was legally married to Iluminada Ponce. His alleged marriage to Flor
Fuentebella was not sufficiently proved and therefore the children begotten with her are either natural or illegitimate children
depending on whether they have been born before or after the marriage of Iluminada Ponce. Consequently, the legal heirs of the late
Judge Berciles entitled to share in the distribution of his retirement benefits are the following: Iluminada Ponce, surviving spouse;
Ilona Berciles Alvarez, Ellery Berciles, England P. Berciles and Ione P. Berciles, legitimate children; Pascual Voltaire Berciles, natural
child; Maria Luisa Berciles, Mercy Berciles, and Rhoda Berciles, illegitimate children."
From the above recital, We can readily summarize the following three (3) conclusions therein made and arrived at by the Committee
which were approved and adopted in toto by respondent GSIS through Board of Trustees Resolution No. 431, to wit:
1. "(T)hat Iluminada Ponce was married to Pascual Berciles, alias Paquito, on January 20, 1941 at Bocaue, Bulacan. From this union,
they begot the following children namely: Ilona, Ellery, England and Ione."
2. "(T)hat there is no sufficient evidence that Pascual Berciles and Flor Fuentebella were married to each other on March 28, 1937 in
Iloilo City."
3. "(H)owever, certain relationship did exist and from such relationship were begotten the following children, namely: Pascual Voltaire
Berciles, Maria Luisa Berciles, Mercy Berciles and Rhoda Berciles." x x x "The children begotten with her are either natural or
illegitimate children depending on whether they have been born before or after the marriage of Iluminada Ponce."
As pointed out earlier, petitioners assail the validity of the third conclusion or finding that Pascual Voltaire Berciles is an
acknowledged natural child and that Maria Luisa Berciles, Mercy Berciles and Rhoda Berciles are illegitimate children of the late Judge
Pascual Berciles, petitioners being in complete accord and conformity with the first two conclusions summarized above.

Petitioners contend that the evidence submitted by private respondents with respect to the status of respondent Pascual Voltaire
Berciles show that he was not acknowledged by the late Judge Pascual Berciles in a birth certificate, in a will, in a statement before a
court of record, or in any authentic writing, as required under Art. 278, New Civil Code, or much less, in a final judgment as provided
in Art. 283, New Civil Code.
The evidence considered by the Committee on Claims Settlement as basis of its finding that Pascual Voltaire Berciles is an
acknowledged natural child of the late Judge Pascual Berciles is the birth certificate of said Pascual Voltaire Berciles marked Exh. "6".
We have examined carefully this birth certificate and We find that the same is not signed by either the father or the mother; We find
no participation or intervention whatsoever therein by the alleged father, Judge Pascual Berciles. Under our jurisprudence, if the
alleged father did not intervene in the birth certificate, the putting of his name by the mother or doctor or registrar is null and void.
Such registration would no be evidence of paternity. (Joaquin P. Roces et. al, vs. Local Civil Registrar of Manila, 102 Phil. 1050). The
mere certificate by the registrar without the signature of the father is not proof of voluntary acknowledgment on his part (Dayrit vs.
Piccio, 92 Phil. 729). A birth certificate does not constitute recognition in a public instrument. (Pareja vs. Pareja, et al., 95 Phil. 167). A
birth certificate, to evidence acknowledgment, must, under Section 5 of Act 3753, bear the signature under oath of the acknowledging parent or parents. (Vidaurrazaga vs. Court of Appeals and Francisco Ruiz, 91 Phil. 492). In the case of Mendoza, et al. vs.
Mella, 17 SCRA 788, the Supreme Court speaking through Justice Makalintal who later became Chief Justice, said:
"It should be noted, however, that a Civil Registry Law was passed in 1930 (Act No. 3753) containing provisions for the registration of
births, including those of illegitimate parentage; and the record of birth under such law, if sufficient in contents for the purpose, would
meet the requisites for voluntary recognition even under Article 131. Since Rodolfo was born in 1935, after the registry law was
enacted, the question here really is whether or not his birth certificate (Exhibit 1), which is merely a certified copy of the registry
record, may be relied upon as sufficient proof of his having been voluntarily recognized. No such reliance, in our judgment, may be
placed upon it. While it contains the names of both parents, there is no showing that they signed the original, let alone swore to its
contents as required in Section 5 of Act No. 3753 (Vidaurrazaga vs. Court of Appeals, 91 Phil. 493; In re Adoption of Lydia Duran, 92
Phil. 729). For all that might have happened, it was not even they or either of them who furnished the data to be entered in the civil
register. Petitioners say that in any event the birth certificate is in the nature of a public document wherein voluntary recognition of a
natural child may also be made, according to the same Article 131. True enough, but in such a case there must be a clear statement
in the document that the parent recognizes the child as his or her own (Madridejo vs. De Leon, 55 Phil. 1); and in Exhibit 1 no such
statement appears. The claim of voluntary recognition is without basis."
With respect to the Committee's finding that the other private respondents are illegitimate children of the deceased Judge Berciles,
We find that the evidentiary basis of such finding are the baptismal certificate of Maria Luisa Berciles, Exh. "7-A"; birth certificate of
Mercy Berciles, Exh. "8"; and birth certificate of Rhoda Berciles, Exh. "9". We have also examined the above exhibits and We find that
Exh. "7" is a mere certification that all the Civil Registry records of birth filed in the Office of the Local Civil Registrar for the year 1944
and previous years were either burned, destroyed or lost during the last war and hence, the office could not furnish the birth
certificate of Maria Luisa Berciles who claim to have been born to the spouses Pascual Berciles and Flor Fuentebella on June 27, 1943
at Iloilo City. The same is true with Exh. "7-B" attesting to the non-availability of the Register of Births for Iloilo, Iloilo in the year 1943
in the files of the National Archives. Exh. "7-A and 7-B" are, therefore, of no value.
As to the baptismal certificate, Exh. "7-A", the rule is that although the baptismal record of a natural child describes her as a child of
the decedent, yet, if in the preparation of the record the decedent had no intervention, the baptismal record cannot be held to be a
voluntary recognition of parentage. (Canales vs. Arrogante, et al., 91 Phil. 6; Adriano vs. De Jesus, 23 Phil. 350; Samson vs. Corrales
Tan, 48 Phil. 401; Madridejo vs. De Leon, 55 Phil. 1; Malonda vs. Infante Vda. de Malonda, 81 Phil. 149). The reason for this rule that
canonical records do not constitute the authentic document prescribed by Arts.115 and 117 to prove the legitimate filiation of a child
is that such canonical record is simply proof of the only act to which the priest may certify by reason of his personal knowledge, an
act done by himself or in his presence, like the administration of the sacrament upon a day stated; it is no proof of the declarations in
the record with respect to the parentage of the child baptized, or of prior and distinct facts which require separate and concrete
evidence. (Adriano vs. De Jesus, 23 Phil. 350).

In the recent case of Republic vs. Workmen's Compensation Commission, 13 SCRA 272, the Supreme Court speaking again through
Justice Makalintal, held:
"This Court, construing the various pertinent provisions of the Civil Code concerning illegitimate children, has held that an illegitimate
(spurious) child, to be entitled to support and successional rights from his parents, must prove his filiation and that this may be done
by means of voluntary or compulsory recognition of the relationship. For this purpose, the provisions concerning natural children are
held applicable, thus, recognition is voluntary when made in the record of birth, a will, a statement before a court of record, or in any
authentic writing (Article 278); and compulsory when made by means of a court action in the cases enumerated in Articles 283 and
284 (Paulino vs. Paulino, L-15091, Dec. 28, 1961).
Discrediting the above certificates (birth and baptismal) of the illegitimate spurious children which do not constitute proof of filiation
with the deceased Judge Berciles, what remains are the sworn statements of Coronacion Berciles, Exh. 10 and 31, sister-in-law of the
late Judge Berciles wherein she stated that after she was married to her husband, they lived together with the family of Pascual
Berciles and his wife, Flor Fuentebella; that their two families had lived closely enough during the Japanese Occupation and even
after. These statements, however, does not prove the filiation of the children to the late Judge Pascual Berciles.
Neither are the family pictures, Exhs. 30 to 30-M, which, according to the Committee, do not indicate that the marriage (between
Judge Berciles and Flor Fuentebella) took place and that if at all, the said pictures show the presence of a family with or without the
sanction of marriage. We agree and We add that said pictures do not constitute proof of filiation.
We also agree with the finding of the Committee that "(t)he letters written by Judge Berciles to her daughters with Flor Fuentebella
especially the one sent to daughter Mercy Berciles (Exh. "22") wherein he vigorously affirmed that it's only her mother, Flor
Fuentebella, and no other woman who was recognized as his wife and loved by her parents deserve scant consideration. Pascual
Berciles could not be expected to admit the existence of his other family. This would be disastrous to his efforts at preventing one
family from knowing the other." Not only do they deserve scant consideration but also, there is jurisprudence that a typewritten letter
signed by the father is not an authentic writing. (Decision of the Supreme Court of Spain of Feb. 27, 1923 and Dc. 7, 1927 cited in 3
Castan, 6th ed., 25; see Caguioa, Comments and Cases on Civil Law, Vol. I, p. 379).
As to the other exhibits of private respondents, We affirm the Committee's finding that the Flor Fuentebella Affidavit (Exh. "5") is selfserving; that the testimony of Concepcion Gonzales (Exh. "31-A"), being blind, is deficient; and that the affidavit of Judge Rafael
Lavente (Exh. "35") has been repudiated. Indeed, the above evidence are, to Our view, very insignificant, insufficient, and
unsubstantial to prove the filiation of private respondents to the alleged father, Judge Pascual Berciles.
The records disclose that all the private respondents have left the Philippines and are now residing in the United States. They have
not appeared at the hearing before the Committee on Claims Settlement to testify in support of their claim of filiation and
acknowledgment. And We find no clear and competent proof, no positive and substantial evidence presented by private respondents
that their alleged father had admitted or recognized his paternity of the private respondents Maria Luisa Berciles, Mercy Berciles and
Rhoda Berciles.
Under the law, Article 287, New Civil Code, illegitimate children other than natural in accordance with Art. 269 are entitled to support
and such successional rights as are granted in the Code, but for this Article to be applicable, there must be admission or recognition
of the paternity of the illegitimate child. (Paterno, et al. vs. Paterno, 20 SCRA 585, citing Noble vs. Noble, G.R. No. L-17742, Dec. 17,
1966, 18 SCRA 1104; Paulino vs. Paulino, G.R. No. L-15091, Dec. 28, 1961, 113 Phil. 697). Article 887, N.C.C., defining who are
compulsory heirs, is clear and specific that "(i)n all cases of illegitimate children, their filiation must be duly proved." And in the Noble
case, supra, the Supreme Court laid down this ruling:
"The filiation of illegitimate children, other than natural, must not only be proven, but it must be shown that such filiation was
acknowledged by the presumed parent. If the mere fact of paternity is all that needs to be proven, that interpretation would pave the

way to unscrupulous individuals to take advantage of the death of the presumed parent, who would no longer be in a position to deny
the allegation, to present even fictitious claims and expose the life of the deceased to inquiries affecting his character." (Italics
supplied).
In fine, We hold and rule that the respondent GSIS committed grave abuse of discretion in approving Resolution No. 431 which
adopted the erroneous recommendation of the Committee on Claims Settlement, a recommendation which has no legal or factual
basis to stand on. Accordingly, the disposition made by respondent GSIS of the retirement benefits due the heirs of the late Judge
Pascual G. Berciles is consequently erroneous and not in accordance with law. Petitioners are the lawful heirs entitled to the
distribution of the benefits which shall accrue to the estate of the deceased Judge Berciles and will be distributed among the
petitioners as his legal heirs in accordance with the law on intestate succession. (Re: Mario vs. Chanliongco, 79 SCRA 364; Vda. de
Consuegra vs. GSIS, 37 SCRA 325).
According to Article 996 of the New Civil Code which provides that "If a widow or Widower and legitimate children or descendants are
left, the surviving spouse has in the succession the same share as that of each of the children," and Article 980 which provides that
"The children of the deceased shall always inherit from him in their own right, dividing the inheritance in equal shares," the
retirement benefits shall be distributed equally to the five (5) heirs: Iluminada Ponce Berciles, Ilona Berciles Alvarez, Ellery P. Berciles,
England P. Berciles and Ione P. Berciles.
As to the retirement premiums totalling P9,700.00, the same is presumed conjugal property, there being no proof that the premiums
were paid from the exclusive funds of the deceased Judge (Article 160, New Civil Code). Such being the case, one-half of the amount
belongs to the wife as her property in the conjugal partnership and the other half shall go to the estate of the deceased Judge which
shall in turn be distributed to his legal heirs.
With respect to the terminal leave pay, unpaid salary and allowances accruing to the deceased, since petitioners are the only lawful
heirs of the deceased Judge, only they are entitled to share thereto. There is no need to disturb Our Resolution of March 17, 1981.
One final point, the issue raised by respondents that Section 25 of P.D. 1146, otherwise known as "The Revised Government Service
Insurance Act of 1977", cannot be invoked by petitioners in taking the present appeal for the reason that the dispute between the
parties have arisen under the Judiciary Retirement Law, Republic Act No. 910, as amended and not under P.D. 1146, and that the
determination of the legal heirs of a deceased judge covered by Republic Act 910 as amended, is vested in the regular courts of
justice.
Section 25 of P.D. 1146 provides:
"Sec. 25. Appeals - Within fifteen days from receipt of notice of decision or award, the aggrieved party may appeal the same to the
Court of Appeals on questions of law and facts following the procedures for appeals from the Court of First Instance to the Court of
Appeals as far as practicable and consistent with the purposes of this Act. If the appeal is only on questions of law, the same shall be
brought directly to the Supreme Court on certiorari. No appeal bond shall be required. The appeal shall take precedence over all other
cases except criminal cases wherein the penalty of life imprisonment or death has been imposed by the trial court. Appeal shall not
stay the decision of the Board unless so ordered by the Board, by the Court of Appeals, or by the Supreme Court."
Respondents' position is untenable. We hold that Sec. 25 of P.D. 1146 quoted above may be availed of by petitioners.
Republic Act 910, as amended, is a special statute governing and granting retirement benefits to members of the judiciary. While
Section 5 of the Act provides that the GSIS shall take charge of the enforcement and operation of the Act, there is no provision therein
setting forth the procedure or remedy for the final determination of the legal heirs of the deceased Judge in case a dispute arises
between the opposing claimants. Even under the old GSIS Act. Commonwealth Act No. 186 as amended, there is no express provision
on appeal from the award or decisions of the GSIS. In both cases, the decision or the award made by the GSIS which affects property

rights as well as the legitimate or illegitimate status of the claimants is brought to and assailed in the regular courts of justice under
the general power and jurisdiction of the courts to review decisions of administrative bodies and this is where the litigation becomes
not only delayed or protracted but also expensive and cumbersome, to the great prejudice and detriment of the parties.
As may be gleaned from the "whereas clauses" of P.D. 1146 which, among others, recognize that "provisions of existing laws x x x
have prejudiced, rather than benefited, the government employee; restricted rather than broadened, his benefits, prolonged, rather
than facilitated the payment of benefits, must now yield to his paramount welfare," P.D. 1146 is a remedial legislation, which are
"those which afford a remedy, or improve or facilitate remedies already existing for the enforcement of rights and the redress of
injuries, and statutes intended for the correction of defects, mistakes and omissions in the civil institutions and the administration of
the state." (Sutherland, Statutory Construction, Vol. III, 31). And being remedial statutes relating to procedure as distinguished from
those relating to substantive rights, they are given a liberal interpretation (SutherIand, supra, p. 39).
Accordingly, We hold and rule that Section 25 of P.D. 1146 specifically Laying down the procedure whereby the party aggrieved by the
decision of the GSIS may appeal the same to the Court of Appeals, now the Intermediate Appellate Court, on questions of law and
facts following the procedures for appeals from the Court of First Instance (now Regional Trial Court) to the I.A.C. and if the appeal
only on questions of law, the same shall be brought directly to the Supreme Court on certiorari, which abbreviated procedure was
designed to facilitate, and not to prolong, the payment of benefits, may be invoked by the petitioners.
That P.D. 1146, Sec, 35 is applicable to disputes arising under the Judiciary Retirement Act and all other acts administered by the GSIS
may also be construed from Sec. 23 of the Decree which provides that the "System shall prescribe such ruIes and regulations to
facilitate payment of benefits, proceeds and claims under the Act and any other laws administered by the System."
WHEREFORE, IN VIEW OF ALL THE FOREGOING, We AFFIRM the finding in Resolution No. 431 that petitioner Iluminada Ponce Berciles
is the surviving spouse of the late Judge Pascual G. Berciles and that petitioners Ilona Berciles Alvarez, Ellery P. Berciles, England P.
Berciles, and Ione P. Berciles are the legitimate children of the said deceased Judge. We REVERSE and SET ASIDE its finding that
Pascual Voltaire Berciles is an acknowledged natural child and that Maria Luisa Berciles, Mercy Berciles, and Rhoda Berciles are
illegitimate children of the deceased CFI Judge Pascual G. Berciles. The claims of the petitioners as legal heirs are hereby APPROVED
and the GSIS is hereby ordered to pay immediately to each and every petitioner the various sums hereunder indicated opposite their
names, as follows:
1. ILUMINADA PONCE BERCILES
A. Her 1/5 share of retirement gratuity
B. Her share from the return of the retirement premiums
(1) as her conjugal share
(2) as a legal heir
Total Amount Due Her

P60,352.00
4,850.00
970.00
P66,172.00

2. ILONA BERCILES ALVAREZ


A. Her 1/5 share of retirement gratuity
B. Her share from the return of the retirement premiums
Total Amount Due Her

P60,352.00
970.00
P61,322.00

3. ELLERY P. BERCILES
A. His 1/5 share of retirement gratuity
B. His share from return of retirement premiums
Total Amount Due Him

P60,352.00
970.00
P61,322.00

4. ENGLAND P. BERCILES
A. His 1/5 share of retirement gratuity
B. His share from return of retirement premiums
Total Amount Due Him

P60,352.00
970.00
P61,322.00

5. IONE P. BERCILES
A. Her 1/5 share of retirement gratuity
B. Her share from return of retirement premiums

P60,352.00
970.00

Total Amount Due Her

P61,322.00

The temporary restraining order issued herein per Our Resolution dated July 13, 1981 is hereby made permanent.
SO ORDERED.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
SECOND DIVISION
G.R. No. 160708

October 16, 2009

PATROCINIA RAVINA AND WILFREDO RAVINA, Petitioners,


vs.
MARY ANN P. VILLA ABRILLE, for herself and in behalf of INGRID D'LYN P. VILLA ABRILLE, INGREMARK D'WIGHT VILLA
ABRILLE, INGRESOLL DIELS VILLA ABRILLE AND INGRELYN DYAN VILLA ABRILLE,Respondents.
DECISION
QUISUMBING, Acting C.J.:
For review are the Decision1 dated February 21, 2002 and the Resolution2 dated October 7, 2003 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV
No. 54560. The appellate court modified the Decision 3 dated September 26, 1995 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Davao City,
Branch 15.
Simply stated, the facts as found by the Court of Appeals 4 are as follows:
Respondent Mary Ann Pasaol Villa Abrille and Pedro Villa Abrille are husband and wife. They have four children, who are also parties to
the instant case and are represented by their mother, Mary Ann.
In 1982, the spouses acquired a 555-square meter parcel of land denominated as Lot 7, located at Kamuning Street, Juna Subdivision,
Matina, Davao City, and covered by Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. T-88674 in their names. Said lot is adjacent to a parcel of
land which Pedro acquired when he was still single and which is registered solely in his name under TCT No. T-26471.
Through their joint efforts and the proceeds of a loan from the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP), the spouses built a house
on Lot 7 and Pedros lot. The house was finished in the early 1980s but the spouses continuously made improvements, including a
poultry house and an annex.
In 1991, Pedro got a mistress and began to neglect his family. Mary Ann was forced to sell or mortgage their movables to support the
family and the studies of her children. By himself, Pedro offered to sell the house and the two lots to herein petitioners, Patrocinia and
Wilfredo Ravina. Mary Ann objected and notified the petitioners of her objections, but Pedro nonetheless sold the house and the two
lots without Mary Anns consent, as evidenced by a Deed of Sale 5 dated June 21, 1991. It appears on the said deed that Mary Ann did
not sign on top of her name.
On July 5, 1991 while Mary Ann was outside the house and the four children were in school, Pedro together with armed members of
the Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) and acting in connivance with petitioners 6 began transferring all their
belongings from the house to an apartment.
When Mary Ann and her daughter Ingrid Villa Abrille came home, they were stopped from entering it. They waited outside the gate
until evening under the rain. They sought help from the Talomo Police Station, but police authorities refused to intervene, saying that
it was a family matter. Mary Ann alleged that the incident caused stress, tension and anxiety to her children, so much so that one
flunked at school. Thus, respondents Mary Ann and her children filed a complaint for Annulment of Sale, Specific Performance,
Damages and Attorneys Fees with Preliminary Mandatory Injunction 7 against Pedro and herein petitioners (the Ravinas) in the RTC of
Davao City.
During the trial, Pedro declared that the house was built with his own money. Petitioner Patrocinia Ravina testified that they bought
the house and lot from Pedro, and that her husband, petitioner Wilfredo Ravina, examined the titles when they bought the property.
On September 26, 1995, the trial court ruled in favor of herein respondent Mary Ann P. Villa Abrille as follows:
WHEREFORE, judgment is rendered as follows:
1. The sale of lot 8 covered by TCT No. 26471 by defendant Pedro Abrille appearing in the Deed of Sale marked as Exh. "E" is
void as to one half or 277.5 square meters representing the share of plaintiff Mary Villa Abrille.

2. That sale of Lot 7 covered by TCT No. [88674] by defendant Pedro Villa Abrille in the Deed of Sale (Exh. "A") is valid as to
one half or 277.5 square meters of the 555 square meters as one half belongs to defendant Pedro Abrille but it is void as to
the other half or 277.5 square meters as it belongs to plaintiff Mary Abrille who did not sell her share nor give her consent to
the sale.
3. That sale of the house mentioned in the Deed of Sale (Exh. "A") is valid as far as the one half of the house representing
the share of defendant Pedro Abrille is concerned but void as to the other half which is the share of plaintiff Mary Abrille
because she did not give her consent/sign the said sale.
4. The defendants shall jointly pay the plaintiffs.
4. A. Seventeen Thousand Pesos (P17,000.00) representing the value of the movables and belonging[s] that were
lost when unknown men unceremoniously and without their knowledge and consent removed their movables from
their house and brought them to an apartment.
4. B. One Hundred Thousand Pesos (P 100,000.00) to plaintiff Mary Abrille as moral damages.
4. C. Fifty Thousand Pesos (P50,000.00) to each of the four children as moral damages, namely:
a) Ingrid Villa Abrille Fifty Thousand Pesos (P50,000.00), b) Ingremark Villa Abrille Fifty Thousand Pesos
(P50,000.00), c) Ingresoll Villa Abrille Fifty Thousand Pesos (P50,000.00) and d) Ingrelyn Villa Abrille Fifty
Thousand Pesos (P50,000.00).
5. Ten Thousand Pesos (P10,000.00) as exemplary damages by way of example and correction for the public good.
6. The costs of suit.8
On appeal, the Court of Appeals modified the decision, thus:
WHEREFORE, the appealed judgment is hereby MODIFIED as follows:
1. The sale of lot covered by TCT No. 26471 in favor of defendants spouses Wilfredo and Patrocinia Ravina is declared valid.
2. The sale of lot covered by TCT No. 88674 in favor of said defendants spouses Ravina, together with the house thereon, is
declared null and void.
3. Defendant Pedro Abrille is ordered to return the value of the consideration for the lot covered by TCT No. 88674 and the
house thereon to co-defendants spouses Ravina.
4. Defendants spouses Ravina [a]re ordered to reconvey the lot and house covered by TCT No. 88674 in favor of spouses
Pedro and Mary Villa Abrille and to deliver possession to them.
5. Plaintiffs are given the option to exercise their rights under Article [450] of the New Civil Code with respect to the
improvements introduced by defendant spouses Ravina.
6. Defendants Pedro Villa Abrille and spouses Ravina are ordered to pay jointly and severally the plaintiffs as follows:
a) One Hundred Thousand Pesos (P100,000.00) to plaintiff Mary Villa Abrille as moral damages.
b) Fifty Thousand Pesos (P50,000.00) as moral damages to each of the four children, namely: Ingrid Villa Abrille,
Ingremark Villa Abrille, Ingresoll Villa Abrille and Ingrelyn Villa Abrille.
c) Ten Thousand (P10,000.00) as exemplary damages by way of example and correction for the public good.
SO ORDERED.9
Their Motion for Reconsideration having been denied, petitioners filed this petition. Petitioners argue that:
I.

THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED WHEN IT DECLARED x x x THE SALE OF LOT COVERED BY TCT NO. 88674 IN FAVOR OF SPOUSES
RAVINA, TOGETHER WITH THE HOUSE THEREON, AS NULL AND VOID SINCE IT IS CLEARLY CONTRARY TO LAW AND EVIDENCE.
II.
THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED WHEN IT RULED THAT PETITIONERS PATROCIN[I]A RAVINA AND WILFREDO RAVINA ARE NOT
INNOCENT PURCHASERS FOR VALUE, THE SAME BEING CONTRARY TO LAW AND EVIDENCE.
III.
THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED WHEN IT RULED THAT PETITIONERS PATROCIN[I]A RAVINA AND WILFREDO RAVINA ARE LIABLE FOR
DAMAGES, THE SAME BEING CONTRARY TO LAW AND EVIDENCE.10
In essence, petitioners assail the appellate courts declaration that the sale to them by Pedro of the lot covered by TCT No. T-88674 is
null and void. However, in addressing this issue, it is imperative to determine: (1) whether the subject property covered by TCT No. T88674 is an exclusive property of Pedro or conjugal property, and (2) whether its sale by Pedro was valid considering the absence of
Mary Anns consent.
Petitioners assert that the subject lot covered by TCT No. T-88674 was the exclusive property of Pedro having been acquired by him
through barter or exchange.11 They allege that the subject lot was acquired by Pedro with the proceeds of the sale of one of his
exclusive properties. Allegedly, Pedro and his sister Carmelita initially agreed to exchange their exclusive lots covered by TCT No. T26479 and TCT No. T-26472, respectively. Later, however, Pedro sold the lot covered by TCT No. T-26472 to one Francisca Teh Ting
and purchased the property of Carmelita using the proceeds of the sale. A new title, TCT No. T-88674, was issued thereafter. Thus,
petitioners insist that the subject lot remains to be an exclusive property of Pedro as it was acquired or purchased through the
exclusive funds or money of the latter.
We are not persuaded. Article 160 of the New Civil Code provides, "All property of the marriage is presumed to belong to the conjugal
partnership, unless it be proved that it pertains exclusively to the husband or to the wife."
There is no issue with regard to the lot covered by TCT No. T-26471, which was an exclusive property of Pedro, having been acquired
by him before his marriage to Mary Ann. However, the lot covered by TCT No. T-88674 was acquired in 1982 during the marriage of
Pedro and Mary Ann. No evidence was adduced to show that the subject property was acquired through exchange or barter. The
presumption of the conjugal nature of the property subsists in the absence of clear, satisfactory and convincing evidence to overcome
said presumption or to prove that the subject property is exclusively owned by Pedro. 12 Petitioners bare assertion would not suffice to
overcome the presumption that TCT No. T-88674, acquired during the marriage of Pedro and Mary Ann, is conjugal. Likewise, the
house built thereon is conjugal property, having been constructed through the joint efforts of the spouses, who had even obtained a
loan from DBP to construct the house.1avvphi1
Significantly, a sale or encumbrance of conjugal property concluded after the effectivity of the Family Code on August 3, 1988, is
governed by Article 124 of the same Code that now treats such a disposition to be void if done (a) without the consent of both the
husband and the wife, or (b) in case of one spouses inability, the authority of the court. Article 124 of the Family Code, the governing
law at the time the assailed sale was contracted, is explicit:
ART. 124. The administration and enjoyment of the conjugal partnership property shall belong to both spouses jointly. In case of
disagreement, the husbands decision shall prevail, subject to recourse to the court by the wife for proper remedy which must be
availed of within five years from the date of the contract implementing such decision.
In the event that one spouse is incapacitated or otherwise unable to participate in the administration of the conjugal properties, the
other spouse may assume sole powers of administration. These powers do not include the powers of disposition or encumbrance
which must have the authority of the court or the written consent of the other spouse. In the absence of such authority or consent,
the disposition or encumbrance shall be void. However, the transaction shall be construed as a continuing offer on the part of the
consenting spouse and the third person, and may be perfected as a binding contract upon the acceptance by the other spouse or
authorization by the court before the offer is withdrawn by either or both offerors. (Emphasis supplied.)
The particular provision in the New Civil Code giving the wife ten (10) years to annul the alienation or encumbrance was not carried
over to the Family Code. It is thus clear that alienation or encumbrance of the conjugal partnership property by the husband without
the consent of the wife is null and void.
Hence, just like the rule in absolute community of property, if the husband, without knowledge and consent of the wife, sells conjugal
property, such sale is void. If the sale was with the knowledge but without the approval of the wife, thereby resulting in a
disagreement, such sale is annullable at the instance of the wife who is given five (5) years from the date the contract implementing
the decision of the husband to institute the case. 13

Here, respondent Mary Ann timely filed the action for annulment of sale within five (5) years from the date of sale and execution of
the deed. However, her action to annul the sale pertains only to the conjugal house and lot and does not include the lot covered by
TCT No. T-26471, a property exclusively belonging to Pedro and which he can dispose of freely without Mary Anns consent.
On the second assignment of error, petitioners contend that they are buyers in good faith. 14 Accordingly, they need not inquire
whether the lot was purchased by money exclusively belonging to Pedro or of the common fund of the spouses and may rely on the
certificates of title.
The contention is bereft of merit. As correctly held by the Court of Appeals, a purchaser in good faith is one who buys the property of
another without notice that some other person has a right to, or interest in, such property and pays a full and fair price for the same
at the time of such purchase, or before he has notice of the claim or interest of some other person in the property. 15 To establish his
status as a buyer for value in good faith, a person dealing with land registered in the name of and occupied by the seller need only
show that he relied on the face of the sellers certificate of title. But for a person dealing with land registered in the name of and
occupied by the seller whose capacity to sell is restricted, such as by Articles 166 and 173 of the Civil Code or Article 124 of the
Family Code, he must show that he inquired into the latters capacity to sell in order to establish himself as a buyer for value in good
faith.161avvphi1
In the present case, the property is registered in the name of Pedro and his wife, Mary Ann. Petitioners cannot deny knowledge that
during the time of the sale in 1991, Pedro was married to Mary Ann. However, Mary Anns conformity did not appear in the deed.
Even assuming that petitioners believed in good faith that the subject property is the exclusive property of Pedro, they were apprised
by Mary Anns lawyer of her objection to the sale and yet they still proceeded to purchase the property without Mary Anns written
consent. Moreover, the respondents were the ones in actual, visible and public possession of the property at the time the transaction
was being made. Thus, at the time of sale, petitioners knew that Mary Ann has a right to or interest in the subject properties and yet
they failed to obtain her conformity to the deed of sale. Hence, petitioners cannot now invoke the protection accorded to purchasers
in good faith.
Now, if a voidable contract is annulled, the restoration of what has been given is proper. The relationship between the parties in any
contract even if subsequently annulled must always be characterized and punctuated by good faith and fair dealing. 17 Hence, in
consonance with justice and equity and the salutary principle of non-enrichment at anothers expense, we sustain the appellate
courts order directing Pedro to return to petitioner spouses the value of the consideration for the lot covered by TCT No. T-88674 and
the house thereon.
However, this court rules that petitioners cannot claim reimbursements for improvements they introduced after their good faith had
ceased. As correctly found by the Court of Appeals, petitioner Patrocinia Ravina made improvements and renovations on the house
and lot at the time when the complaint against them was filed. Ravina continued introducing improvements during the pendency of
the action.18
Thus, Article 449 of the New Civil Code is applicable. It provides that, "(h)e who builds, plants or sows in bad faith on the land of
another, loses what is built, planted or sown without right to indemnity." 19
On the last issue, petitioners claim that the decision awarding damages to respondents is not supported by the evidence on record. 20
The claim is erroneous to say the least. The manner by which respondent and her children were removed from the family home
deserves our condemnation. On July 5, 1991, while respondent was out and her children were in school, Pedro Villa Abrille acting in
connivance with the petitioners21 surreptitiously transferred all their personal belongings to another place. The respondents then were
not allowed to enter their rightful home or family abode despite their impassioned pleas.
Firmly established in our civil law is the doctrine that: "Every person must, in the exercise of his rights and in the performance of his
duties, act with justice, give everyone his due, and observe honesty and good faith." 22 When a right is exercised in a manner that
does not conform with such norms and results in damages to another, a legal wrong is thereby committed for which the wrong doer
must be held responsible. Similarly, any person who willfully causes loss or injury to another in a manner that is contrary to morals,
good customs or public policy shall compensate the latter for the damages caused. 23 It is patent in this case that petitioners alleged
acts fall short of these established civil law standards.
WHEREFORE, we deny the instant petition for lack of merit. The Decision dated February 21, 2002 and the Resolution dated October
7, 2003 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 54560 are AFFIRMED.
Costs against petitioners.
SO ORDERED.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
SECOND DIVISION
G.R. No. 188289

August 20, 2014

DAVID A. NOVERAS, Petitioner,


vs.
LETICIA T. NOVERAS, Respondent.
DECISION
PEREZ, J.:
Before the Court is a petition for review assailing the 9 May 2008 Decision 1 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R .. CV No. 88686, which
affirmed in part the 8 December 2006 Decision2 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Baler, Aurora, Branch 96.
The factual antecedents are as follow:
David A. Noveras (David) and Leticia T. Noveras (Leticia) were married on 3 December 1988 in Quezon City, Philippines. They resided
in California, United States of America (USA) where they eventually acquired American citizenship. They then begot two children,
namely: Jerome T.
Noveras, who was born on 4 November 1990 and JenaT. Noveras, born on 2 May 1993. David was engaged in courier service business
while Leticia worked as a nurse in San Francisco, California.
During the marriage, they acquired the following properties in the Philippines and in the USA:
PHILIPPINES
PROPERTY

FAIR MARKET VALUE


P1,693,125.00

House and Lot with an area of 150 sq. m. located at


1085 Norma Street, Sampaloc, Manila (Sampaloc
property)

P400,000.00
Agricultural land with an area of 20,742 sq. m.
located at Laboy, Dipaculao, Aurora

P490,000.00
A parcel of land with an area of 2.5 hectares located
at Maria Aurora, Aurora

P175,000.00
A parcel of land with an area of 175 sq.m. located at
Sabang Baler, Aurora

P750,000.00
3-has. coconut plantation in San Joaquin Maria
Aurora, Aurora

USA
PROPERTY

FAIR MARKET VALUE

House and Lot at 1155 Hanover Street, Daly City,


California

$550,000.00
(unpaid debt of $285,000.00)
$3,000
Furniture and furnishings

$9,000
Jewelries (ring and watch)

$13,770.00
2000 Nissan Frontier 4x4 pickup truck

$8,000
Bank of America Checking Account

Bank of America Cash Deposit

$100,000.00
Life Insurance (Cash Value)

$56,228.00

Retirement, pension, profit-sharing, annuities

The Sampaloc property used to beowned by Davids parents. The parties herein secured a loan from a bank and mortgaged the
property. When said property was about to be foreclosed, the couple paid a total of P1.5 Million for the redemption of the same.
Due to business reverses, David left the USA and returned to the Philippines in 2001. In December 2002,Leticia executed a Special
Power of Attorney (SPA) authorizing David to sell the Sampaloc property for P2.2 Million. According to Leticia, sometime in September
2003, David abandoned his family and lived with Estrellita Martinez in Aurora province. Leticia claimed that David agreed toand
executed a Joint Affidavit with Leticia in the presence of Davids father, Atty. Isaias Noveras, on 3 December 2003 stating that: 1)
the P1.1Million proceeds from the sale of the Sampaloc property shall be paid to and collected by Leticia; 2) that David shall return
and pay to Leticia P750,000.00, which is equivalent to half of the amount of the redemption price of the Sampaloc property; and 3)
that David shall renounce and forfeit all his rights and interest in the conjugal and real properties situated in the Philippines. 5 David
was able to collect P1,790,000.00 from the sale of the Sampaloc property, leaving an unpaid balance of P410,000.00.
Upon learning that David had an extra-marital affair, Leticia filed a petition for divorce with the Superior Court of California, County of
San Mateo, USA. The California court granted the divorce on 24 June 2005 and judgment was duly entered on 29 June 2005. 6 The
California court granted to Leticia the custody of her two children, as well as all the couples properties in the USA. 7
On 8 August 2005, Leticia filed a petition for Judicial Separation of Conjugal Property before the RTC of Baler, Aurora. She relied on the
3 December 2003 Joint Affidavit and Davids failure to comply with his obligation under the same. She prayed for: 1) the power to
administer all conjugal properties in the Philippines; 2) David and his partner to cease and desist from selling the subject conjugal
properties; 3) the declaration that all conjugal properties be forfeited in favor of her children; 4) David to remit half of the purchase
price as share of Leticia from the sale of the Sampaloc property; and 5) the payment ofP50,000.00 and P100,000.00 litigation
expenses.8
In his Answer, David stated that a judgment for the dissolution of their marriage was entered on 29 June 2005 by the Superior Court
of California, County of San Mateo. He demanded that the conjugal partnership properties, which also include the USA properties, be
liquidated and that all expenses of liquidation, including attorneys fees of both parties be charged against the conjugal partnership. 9
The RTC of Baler, Aurora simplified the issues as follow:

1. Whether or not respondent David A. Noveras committed acts of abandonment and marital infidelity which can result
intothe forfeiture of the parties properties in favor of the petitioner and their two (2) children.
2. Whether or not the Court has jurisdiction over the properties in California, U.S.A. and the same can be included in the
judicial separation prayed for.
3. Whether or not the "Joint Affidavit" x x x executed by petitioner Leticia T. Noveras and respondent David A. Noveras will
amount to a waiver or forfeiture of the latters property rights over their conjugal properties.
4. Whether or not Leticia T. Noveras isentitled to reimbursement of onehalf of the P2.2 [M]illion sales proceeds of their
property in Sampaloc, Manila and one-half of the P1.5 [M]illion used to redeem the property of Atty. Isaias Noveras, including
interests and charges.
5. How the absolute community properties should be distributed.
6. Whether or not the attorneys feesand litigation expenses of the parties were chargeable against their conjugal properties.
Corollary to the aboveis the issue of:
Whether or not the two common children of the parties are entitled to support and presumptive legitimes. 10
On 8 December 2006, the RTC rendered judgment as follows:
1. The absolute community of property of the parties is hereby declared DISSOLVED;
2. The net assets of the absolute community of property ofthe parties in the Philippines are hereby ordered to be awarded to
respondent David A. Noveras only, with the properties in the United States of America remaining in the sole ownership of
petitioner Leticia Noveras a.k.a. Leticia Tacbiana pursuant to the divorce decree issuedby the Superior Court of California,
County of San Mateo, United States of America, dissolving the marriage of the parties as of June 24, 2005. The titles
presently covering said properties shall be cancelled and new titles be issued in the name of the party to whom said
properties are awarded;
3. One-half of the properties awarded to respondent David A. Noveras in the preceding paragraph are hereby given to
Jerome and Jena, his two minor children with petitioner LeticiaNoveras a.k.a. Leticia Tacbiana as their presumptive legitimes
and said legitimes must be annotated on the titles covering the said properties.Their share in the income from these
properties shall be remitted to them annually by the respondent within the first half of January of each year, starting January
2008;
4. One-half of the properties in the United States of America awarded to petitioner Leticia Noveras a.k.a. Leticia Tacbiana in
paragraph 2 are hereby given to Jerome and Jena, her two minor children with respondent David A. Noveras as their
presumptive legitimes and said legitimes must be annotated on the titles/documents covering the said properties. Their
share in the income from these properties, if any, shall be remitted to them annually by the petitioner within the first half of
January of each year, starting January 2008;
5. For the support of their two (2) minor children, Jerome and Jena, respondent David A. Noveras shall give them US$100.00
as monthly allowance in addition to their income from their presumptive legitimes, while petitioner Leticia Tacbiana shall
take care of their food, clothing, education and other needs while they are in her custody in the USA. The monthly allowance
due from the respondent shall be increased in the future as the needs of the children require and his financial capacity can
afford;
6. Of the unpaid amount of P410,000.00 on the purchase price of the Sampaloc property, the Paringit Spouses are hereby
ordered to pay P5,000.00 to respondent David A. Noveras and P405,000.00 to the two children. The share of the respondent
may be paid to him directly but the share of the two children shall be deposited with a local bank in Baler, Aurora, in a joint
account tobe taken out in their names, withdrawal from which shall only be made by them or by their representative duly
authorized with a Special Power of Attorney. Such payment/deposit shall be made withinthe period of thirty (30) days after
receipt of a copy of this Decision, with the passbook of the joint account to be submitted to the custody of the Clerk of Court
of this Court within the same period. Said passbook can be withdrawn from the Clerk of Court only by the children or their
attorney-in-fact; and
7. The litigation expenses and attorneys fees incurred by the parties shall be shouldered by them individually. 11
The trial court recognized that since the parties are US citizens, the laws that cover their legal and personalstatus are those of the
USA. With respect to their marriage, the parties are divorced by virtue of the decree of dissolution of their marriage issued by the
Superior Court of California, County of San Mateo on 24June 2005. Under their law, the parties marriage had already been dissolved.
Thus, the trial court considered the petition filed by Leticia as one for liquidation of the absolute community of property regime with
the determination of the legitimes, support and custody of the children, instead of an action for judicial separation of conjugal
property.

With respect to their property relations, the trial court first classified their property regime as absolute community of property
because they did not execute any marriage settlement before the solemnization of their marriage pursuant to Article 75 of the Family
Code. Then, the trial court ruled that in accordance with the doctrine of processual presumption, Philippine law should apply because
the court cannot take judicial notice of the US law since the parties did not submit any proof of their national law. The trial court held
that as the instant petition does not fall under the provisions of the law for the grant of judicial separation of properties, the absolute
community properties cannot beforfeited in favor of Leticia and her children. Moreover, the trial court observed that Leticia failed to
prove abandonment and infidelity with preponderant evidence.
The trial court however ruled that Leticia is not entitled to the reimbursements she is praying for considering that she already
acquired all of the properties in the USA. Relying still on the principle of equity, the Court also adjudicated the Philippine properties to
David, subject to the payment of the childrens presumptive legitimes. The trial court held that under Article 89 of the Family Code,
the waiver or renunciation made by David of his property rights in the Joint Affidavit is void.
On appeal, the Court of Appeals modified the trial courts Decision by directing the equal division of the Philippine properties between
the spouses. Moreover with respect to the common childrens presumptive legitime, the appellate court ordered both spouses to each
pay their children the amount of P520,000.00, thus:
WHEREFORE, the instant appeal is PARTLY GRANTED. Numbers 2, 4 and 6 of the assailedDecision dated December 8, 2006 of Branch
96, RTC of Baler, Aurora Province, in Civil Case No. 828 are hereby MODIFIED to read as follows:
2. The net assets of the absolute community of property of the parties in the Philippines are hereby divided equally between
petitioner Leticia Noveras a.k.a. Leticia Tacbiana (sic) and respondent David A. Noveras;
xxx
4. One-half of the properties awarded to petitioner Leticia Tacbiana (sic) in paragraph 2 shall pertain to her minor children,
Jerome and Jena, as their presumptive legitimes which shall be annotated on the titles/documents covering the said
properties. Their share in the income therefrom, if any, shall be remitted to them by petitioner annually within the first half
of January, starting 2008;
xxx
6. Respondent David A. Noveras and petitioner Leticia Tacbiana (sic) are each ordered to pay the amount ofP520,000.00 to
their two children, Jerome and Jena, as their presumptive legitimes from the sale of the Sampaloc property inclusive of the
receivables therefrom, which shall be deposited to a local bank of Baler, Aurora, under a joint account in the latters names.
The payment/deposit shall be made within a period of thirty (30) days from receipt ofa copy of this Decision and the
corresponding passbook entrusted to the custody ofthe Clerk of Court a quowithin the same period, withdrawable only by the
children or their attorney-in-fact.
A number 8 is hereby added, which shall read as follows:
8. Respondent David A. Noveras is hereby ordered to pay petitioner Leticia Tacbiana (sic) the amount ofP1,040,000.00
representing her share in the proceeds from the sale of the Sampaloc property.
The last paragraph shall read as follows:
Send a copy of this Decision to the local civil registry of Baler, Aurora; the local civil registry of Quezon City; the Civil
RegistrarGeneral, National Statistics Office, Vibal Building, Times Street corner EDSA, Quezon City; the Office of the Registry of Deeds
for the Province of Aurora; and to the children, Jerome Noveras and Jena Noveras.
The rest of the Decision is AFFIRMED.12
In the present petition, David insists that the Court of Appeals should have recognized the California Judgment which awarded the
Philippine properties to him because said judgment was part of the pleading presented and offered in evidence before the trial court.
David argues that allowing Leticia to share in the Philippine properties is tantamount to unjust enrichment in favor of Leticia
considering that the latter was already granted all US properties by the California court.
In summary and review, the basic facts are: David and Leticia are US citizens who own properties in the USA and in the Philippines.
Leticia obtained a decree of divorce from the Superior Court of California in June 2005 wherein the court awarded all the properties in
the USA to Leticia. With respect to their properties in the Philippines, Leticiafiled a petition for judicial separation ofconjugal
properties.
At the outset, the trial court erred in recognizing the divorce decree which severed the bond of marriage between the parties. In
Corpuz v. Sto. Tomas,13 we stated that:
The starting point in any recognition of a foreign divorce judgment is the acknowledgment that our courts do not take judicial notice
of foreign judgments and laws. Justice Herrera explained that, as a rule, "no sovereign is bound to give effect within its dominion to a
judgment rendered by a tribunal of another country." This means that the foreign judgment and its authenticity must beproven as

facts under our rules on evidence, together with the aliens applicable national law to show the effect of the judgment on the alien
himself or herself. The recognition may be made in an action instituted specifically for the purpose or in another action where a party
invokes the foreign decree as an integral aspect of his claim or defense. 14
The requirements of presenting the foreign divorce decree and the national law of the foreigner must comply with our Rules of
Evidence. Specifically, for Philippine courts to recognize a foreign judgment relating to the status of a marriage, a copy of the foreign
judgment may be admitted in evidence and proven as a fact under Rule 132, Sections 24 and 25, in relation to Rule 39, Section 48(b)
of the Rules of Court.15
Under Section 24 of Rule 132, the record of public documents of a sovereign authority or tribunal may be proved by: (1) an official
publication thereof or (2) a copy attested by the officer having the legal custody thereof. Such official publication or copy must
beaccompanied, if the record is not kept in the Philippines, with a certificate that the attesting officer has the legal custody thereof.
The certificate may be issued by any of the authorized Philippine embassy or consular officials stationed in the foreign country in
which the record is kept, and authenticated by the seal of his office. The attestation must state, in substance, that the copy is a
correct copy of the original, or a specific part thereof, asthe case may be, and must be under the official seal of the attesting officer.
Section 25 of the same Rule states that whenever a copy of a document or record is attested for the purpose of evidence, the
attestation must state, in substance, that the copy is a correct copy of the original, or a specific part thereof, as the case may be. The
attestation must be under the official seal of the attesting officer, if there be any, or if hebe the clerk of a court having a seal, under
the seal of such court.
Based on the records, only the divorce decree was presented in evidence. The required certificates to prove its authenticity, as well as
the pertinent California law on divorce were not presented.
It may be noted that in Bayot v. Court of Appeals,16 we relaxed the requirement on certification where we held that "[petitioner
therein] was clearly an American citizenwhen she secured the divorce and that divorce is recognized and allowed in any of the States
of the Union, the presentation of a copy of foreign divorce decree duly authenticatedby the foreign court issuing said decree is, as
here, sufficient." In this case however, it appears that there is no seal from the office where the divorce decree was obtained.
Even if we apply the doctrine of processual presumption 17 as the lower courts did with respect to the property regime of the parties,
the recognition of divorce is entirely a different matter because, to begin with, divorce is not recognized between Filipino citizens in
the Philippines. Absent a valid recognition of the divorce decree, it follows that the parties are still legally married in the Philippines.
The trial court thus erred in proceeding directly to liquidation.
As a general rule, any modification in the marriage settlements must be made before the celebration of marriage. An exception to
this rule is allowed provided that the modification isjudicially approved and refers only to the instances provided in Articles 66,67,
128, 135 and 136 of the Family Code.18
Leticia anchored the filing of the instant petition for judicial separation of property on paragraphs 4 and 6 of Article 135 of the Family
Code, to wit:
Art. 135. Any of the following shall be considered sufficient cause for judicial separation of property:
(1) That the spouse of the petitioner has been sentenced to a penalty which carries with it civil interdiction;
(2) That the spouse of the petitioner has been judicially declared an absentee;
(3) That loss of parental authority ofthe spouse of petitioner has been decreed by the court;
(4) That the spouse of the petitioner has abandoned the latter or failed to comply with his or her obligations to the family as
provided for in Article 101;
(5) That the spouse granted the power of administration in the marriage settlements has abused that power; and
(6) That at the time of the petition, the spouses have been separated in fact for at least one year and reconciliation is highly
improbable.
In the cases provided for in Numbers (1), (2), and (3), the presentation of the final judgment against the guiltyor absent spouse shall
be enough basis for the grant of the decree ofjudicial separation of property. (Emphasis supplied).
The trial court had categorically ruled that there was no abandonment in this case to necessitate judicial separation of properties
under paragraph 4 of Article 135 of the Family Code. The trial court ratiocinated:
Moreover, abandonment, under Article 101 of the Family Code quoted above, must be for a valid cause and the spouse is deemed to
have abandoned the other when he/she has left the conjugal dwelling without intention of returning. The intention of not returning is
prima facie presumed if the allegedly [sic] abandoning spouse failed to give any information as to his or her whereabouts within the
period of three months from such abandonment.

In the instant case, the petitioner knows that the respondent has returned to and stayed at his hometown in Maria Aurora, Philippines,
as she even went several times to visit him there after the alleged abandonment. Also, the respondent has been going back to the
USA to visit her and their children until the relations between them worsened. The last visit of said respondent was in October 2004
when he and the petitioner discussed the filing by the latter of a petition for dissolution of marriage with the California court. Such
turn for the worse of their relationship and the filing of the saidpetition can also be considered as valid causes for the respondent to
stay in the Philippines.19
Separation in fact for one year as a ground to grant a judicial separation of property was not tackled in the trial courts decision
because, the trial court erroneously treated the petition as liquidation of the absolute community of properties.
The records of this case are replete with evidence that Leticia and David had indeed separated for more than a year and that
reconciliation is highly improbable. First, while actual abandonment had not been proven, it is undisputed that the spouses had been
living separately since 2003 when David decided to go back to the Philippines to set up his own business. Second, Leticia heard from
her friends that David has been cohabiting with Estrellita Martinez, who represented herself as Estrellita Noveras. Editha Apolonio,
who worked in the hospital where David was once confined, testified that she saw the name of Estrellita listed as the wife of David in
the Consent for Operation form.20 Third and more significantly, they had filed for divorce and it was granted by the California court in
June 2005.
Having established that Leticia and David had actually separated for at least one year, the petition for judicial separation of absolute
community of property should be granted.
The grant of the judicial separation of the absolute community property automatically dissolves the absolute community regime, as
stated in the 4th paragraph of Article 99 ofthe Family Code, thus:
Art. 99. The absolute community terminates:
(1) Upon the death of either spouse;
(2) When there is a decree of legal separation;
(3) When the marriage is annulled or declared void; or
(4) In case of judicial separation of property during the marriage under Articles 134 to 138. (Emphasis supplied).
Under Article 102 of the same Code, liquidation follows the dissolution of the absolute community regime and the following procedure
should apply:
Art. 102. Upon dissolution of the absolute community regime, the following procedure shall apply:
(1) An inventory shall be prepared, listing separately all the properties of the absolute community and the exclusive
properties of each spouse.
(2) The debts and obligations of the absolute community shall be paid out of its assets. In case of insufficiency of said assets,
the spouses shall be solidarily liable for the unpaid balance with their separate properties in accordance with the provisions
of the second paragraph of Article 94.
(3) Whatever remains of the exclusive properties of the spouses shall thereafter be delivered to each of them.
(4) The net remainder of the properties of the absolute community shall constitute its net assets, which shall be divided
equally between husband and wife, unless a different proportion or division was agreed upon in the marriage settlements, or
unless there has been a voluntary waiver of such share provided in this Code. For purposes of computing the net profits
subject to forfeiture in accordance with Articles 43, No. (2) and 63, No. (2),the said profits shall be the increase in value
between the market value of the community property at the time of the celebration of the marriage and the market value at
the time of its dissolution.
(5) The presumptive legitimes of the common children shall be delivered upon partition, in accordance with Article 51.
(6) Unless otherwise agreed upon by the parties, in the partition of the properties, the conjugal dwelling and the lot on which
it is situated shall be adjudicated tothe spouse with whom the majority of the common children choose to remain. Children
below the age of seven years are deemed to have chosen the mother, unless the court has decided otherwise. In case there
is no such majority, the court shall decide, taking into consideration the best interests of said children. At the risk of being
repetitious, we will not remand the case to the trial court. Instead, we shall adopt the modifications made by the Court of
Appeals on the trial courts Decision with respect to liquidation.
We agree with the appellate court that the Philippine courts did not acquire jurisdiction over the California properties of David and
Leticia. Indeed, Article 16 of the Civil Code clearly states that real property as well as personal property is subject to the law of the
country where it is situated. Thus, liquidation shall only be limited to the Philippine properties.

We affirm the modification madeby the Court of Appeals with respect to the share of the spouses in the absolutecommunity
properties in the Philippines, as well as the payment of their childrens presumptive legitimes, which the appellate court explained in
this wise:
Leticia and David shall likewise have an equal share in the proceeds of the Sampaloc property.1wphi1 While both claimed to have
contributed to the redemption of the Noveras property, absent a clear showing where their contributions came from, the same is
presumed to have come from the community property. Thus, Leticia is not entitled to reimbursement of half of the redemption money.
David's allegation that he used part of the proceeds from the sale of the Sampaloc property for the benefit of the absolute community
cannot be given full credence. Only the amount of P120,000.00 incurred in going to and from the U.S.A. may be charged thereto.
Election expenses in the amount of P300,000.00 when he ran as municipal councilor cannot be allowed in the absence of receipts or
at least the Statement of Contributions and Expenditures required under Section 14 of Republic Act No. 7166 duly received by the
Commission on Elections. Likewise, expenses incurred to settle the criminal case of his personal driver is not deductible as the same
had not benefited the family. In sum, Leticia and David shall share equally in the proceeds of the sale net of the amount
of P120,000.00 or in the respective amounts of P1,040,000.00.
xxxx
Under the first paragraph of Article 888 of the Civil Code, "(t)he legitime of legitimate children and descendants consists of one-half
or the hereditary estate of the father and of the mother." The children arc therefore entitled to half of the share of each spouse in the
net assets of the absolute community, which shall be annotated on the titles/documents covering the same, as well as to their
respective shares in the net proceeds from the sale of the Sampaloc property including the receivables from Sps. Paringit in the
amount of P410,000.00. Consequently, David and Leticia should each pay them the amount of P520,000.00 as their presumptive
legitimes therefrom.21
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The assailed Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA G.R. CV No. 88686 is AFFIRMED.
SO ORDERED.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
SECOND DIVISION

G.R. No. 116668 July 28, 1997


ERLINDA A. AGAPAY, petitioner,
vs.
CARLINA (CORNELIA) V. PALANG and HERMINIA P. DELA CRUZ, respondents.

ROMERO, J.:
Before us is a petition for review of the decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 24199 entitled "Erlinda Agapay v. Carlina
(Cornelia) Palang and Herminia P. Dela Cruz" dated June 22, 1994 involving the ownership of two parcels of land acquired during the
cohabitation of petitioner and private respondent's legitimate spouse.
Miguel Palang contracted his first marriage on July 16, 1949 when he took private respondent Carlina (or Cornelia) Vallesterol as a
wife at the Pozorrubio Roman Catholic Church in Pangasinan. A few months after the wedding, in October 1949, he left to work in
Hawaii. Miguel and Carlina's only child, Herminia Palang, was born on May 12, 1950.
Miguel returned in 1954 for a year. His next visit to the Philippines was in 1964 and during the entire duration of his year-long sojourn
he stayed in Zambales with his brother, not in Pangasinan with his wife and child. The trial court found evidence that as early as
1957, Miguel had attempted to divorce Carlina in Hawaii. 1 When he returned for good in 1972, he refused to live with private
respondents, but stayed alone in a house in Pozorrubio, Pangasinan.
On July 15, 1973, the then sixty-three-year-old Miguel contracted his second marriage with nineteen-year-old Erlinda Agapay, herein
petitioner. 2 Two months earlier, on May 17, 1973, Miguel and Erlinda, as evidenced by the Deed of Sale, jointly purchased a parcel of
agricultural land located at San Felipe, Binalonan, Pangasinan with an area of 10,080 square meters. Consequently, Transfer
Certificate of Title No. 101736 covering said rice land was issued in their names.
A house and lot in Binalonan, Pangasinan was likewise purchased on September 23, 1975, allegedly by Erlinda as the sole vendee.
TCT No. 143120 covering said property was later issued in her name.
On October 30, 1975, Miguel and Cornelia Palang executed a Deed of Donation as a form of compromise agreement to settle and end
a case filed by the latter. 3 The parties therein agreed to donate their conjugal property consisting of six parcels of land to their only
child, Herminia Palang. 4
Miguel and Erlinda's cohabitation produced a son, Kristopher A. Palang, born on December 6, 1977. In 1979, Miguel and Erlinda were
convicted of Concubinage upon Carlina's complaint. 5 Two years later, on February 15, 1981, Miguel died.
On July 11, 1981, Carlina Palang and her daughter Herminia Palang de la Cruz, herein private respondents, instituted the case at bar,
an action for recovery of ownership and possession with damages against petitioner before the Regional Trial Court in Urdaneta,
Pangasinan (Civil Case No. U-4265). Private respondents sought to get back the riceland and the house and lot both located at
Binalonan, Pangasinan allegedly purchased by Miguel during his cohabitation with petitioner.
Petitioner, as defendant below, contended that while the riceland covered by TCT No. 101736 is registered in their names (Miguel and
Erlinda), she had already given her half of the property to their son Kristopher Palang. She added that the house and lot covered by
TCT No. 143120 is her sole property, having bought the same with her own money. Erlinda added that Carlina is precluded from
claiming aforesaid properties since the latter had already donated their conjugal estate to Herminia.
After trial on the merits, the lower court rendered its decision on June 30, 1989 dismissing the complaint after declaring that there
was little evidence to prove that the subject properties pertained to the conjugal property of Carlina and Miguel Palang. The lower
court went on to provide for the intestate shares of the parties, particularly of Kristopher Palang, Miguel's illegitimate son. The
dispositive portion of the decision reads.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby


rendered
1) Dismissing the complaint, with costs against plaintiffs;
2) Confirming the ownership of defendant Erlinda Agapay of the residential lot located at Poblacion, Binalonan, Pangasinan,
as evidenced by TCT No. 143120, Lot 290-B including the old house standing therein;
3) Confirming the ownership of one-half (1/2) portion of that piece of agricultural land situated at Balisa, San Felipe,
Binalonan, Pangasinan, consisting of 10,080 square meters and as evidenced by TCT No. 101736, Lot 1123-A to Erlinda
Agapay;
4. Adjudicating to Kristopher Palang as his inheritance from his deceased father, Miguel Palang, the one-half (1/2) of the
agricultural land situated at Balisa, San Felipe, Binalonan, Pangasinan, under TCT No. 101736 in the name of Miguel Palang,
provided that the former (Kristopher) executes, within 15 days after this decision becomes final and executory, a quit-claim
forever renouncing any claims to annul/reduce the donation to Herminia Palang de la Cruz of all conjugal properties of her
parents, Miguel Palang and Carlina Vallesterol Palang, dated October 30, 1975, otherwise, the estate of deceased Miguel
Palang will have to be settled in another separate action;
5) No pronouncement as to damages and attorney's fees.
SO ORDERED. 6
On appeal, respondent court reversed the trial court's decision. The Court of Appeals rendered its decision on July 22, 1994 with the
following dispositive portion;
WHEREFORE, PREMISES CONSIDERED, the appealed decision in hereby REVERSED and another one entered:
1. Declaring plaintiffs-appellants the owners of the properties in question;
2. Ordering defendant-appellee to vacate and deliver the properties in question to herein plaintiffs-appellants;
3. Ordering the Register of Deeds of Pangasinan to cancel Transfer Certificate of Title Nos. 143120 and 101736 and to issue
in lieu thereof another certificate of title in the name of plaintiffs-appellants.
No pronouncement as to costs. 7
Hence, this petition.
Petitioner claims that the Court of Appeals erred in not sustaining the validity of two deeds of absolute sale covering the riceland and
the house and lot, the first in favor of Miguel Palang and Erlinda Agapay and the second, in favor of Erlinda Agapay alone. Second,
petitioner contends that respondent appellate court erred in not declaring Kristopher A. Palang as Miguel Palang's illegitimate son and
thus entitled to inherit from Miguel's estate. Third, respondent court erred, according to petitioner, "in not finding that there is
sufficient pleading and evidence that Kristopher A. Palang or Christopher A. Palang should be considered as party-defendant in Civil
Case No. U-4625 before the trial court and in CA-G.R. No. 24199. 8
After studying the merits of the instant case, as well as the pertinent provisions of law and jurisprudence, the Court denies the
petition and affirms the questioned decision of the Court of Appeals.
The first and principal issue is the ownership of the two pieces of property subject of this action. Petitioner assails the validity of the
deeds of conveyance over the same parcels of land. There is no dispute that the transfer of ownership from the original owners of the
riceland and the house and lot, Corazon Ilomin and the spouses Cespedes, respectively, were valid.
The sale of the riceland on May 17, 1973, was made in favor of Miguel and Erlinda. The provision of law applicable here is Article 148
of the Family Code providing for cases of cohabitation when a man and a woman who are not capacitated to marry each other live
exclusively with each other as husband and wife without the benefit of marriage or under a void marriage. While Miguel and Erlinda
contracted marriage on July 15, 1973, said union was patently void because the earlier marriage of Miguel and Carlina was still
subsisting and unaffected by the latter's de facto separation.
Under Article 148, only the properties acquired by both of the parties through their actual joint contribution of money, property or
industry shall be owned by them in common in proportion to their respective contributions. It must be stressed that actual

contribution is required by this provision, in contrast to Article 147 which states that efforts in the care and maintenance of the family
and household, are regarded as contributions to the acquisition of 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 will be no co-ownership and no presumption of equal shares. 9
In the case at bar, Erlinda tried to establish by her testimony that she is engaged in the business of buy and sell and had a sarisari store 10 but failed to persuade us that she actually contributed money to buy the subject riceland. Worth noting is the fact that on
the date of conveyance, May 17, 1973, petitioner was only around twenty years of age and Miguel Palang was already sixty-four and
a pensioner of the U.S. Government. Considering her youthfulness, it is unrealistic to conclude that in 1973 she contributed P3,750.00
as her share in the purchase price of subject property, 11 there being no proof of the same.
Petitioner now claims that the riceland was bought two months before Miguel and Erlinda actually cohabited. In the nature of an
afterthought, said added assertion was intended to exclude their case from the operation of Article 148 of the Family Code. Proof of
the precise date when they commenced their adulterous cohabitation not having been adduced, we cannot state definitively that the
riceland was purchased even before they started living together. In any case, even assuming that the subject property was bought
before cohabitation, the rules of co-ownership would still apply and proof of actual contribution would still be essential.
Since petitioner failed to prove that she contributed money to the purchase price of the riceland in Binalonan, Pangasinan, we find no
basis to justify her co-ownership with Miguel over the same. Consequently, the riceland should, as correctly held by the Court of
Appeals, revert to the conjugal partnership property of the deceased Miguel and private respondent Carlina Palang.
Furthermore, it is immaterial that Miguel and Carlina previously agreed to donate their conjugal property in favor of their daughter
Herminia in 1975. The trial court erred in holding that the decision adopting their compromise agreement "in effect partakes the
nature of judicial confirmation of the separation of property between spouses and the termination of the conjugal
partnership." 12 Separation of property between spouses during the marriage shall not take place except by judicial order or without
judicial conferment when there is an express stipulation in the marriage settlements. 13 The judgment which resulted from the parties'
compromise was not specifically and expressly for separation of property and should not be so inferred.
With respect to the house and lot, Erlinda allegedly bought the same for P20,000.00 on September 23, 1975 when she was only 22
years old. The testimony of the notary public who prepared the deed of conveyance for the property reveals the falsehood of this
claim. Atty. Constantino Sagun testified that Miguel Palang provided the money for the purchase price and directed that Erlinda's
name alone be placed as the vendee. 14
The transaction was properly a donation made by Miguel to Erlinda, but one which was clearly void and inexistent by express
provision of law because it was made between persons guilty of adultery or concubinage at the time of the donation, under Article
739 of the Civil Code. Moreover, Article 87 of the Family Code expressly provides that the prohibition against donations between
spouses now applies to donations between persons living together as husband and wife without a valid marriage, 15 for otherwise, the
condition of those who incurred guilt would turn out to be better than those in legal union. 16
The second issue concerning Kristopher Palang's status and claim as an illegitimate son and heir to Miguel's estate is here resolved in
favor of respondent court's correct assessment that the trial court erred in making pronouncements regarding Kristopher's heirship
and filiation "inasmuch as questions as to who are the heirs of the decedent, proof of filiation of illegitimate children and the
determination of the estate of the latter and claims thereto should be ventilated in the proper probate court or in a special proceeding
instituted for the purpose and cannot be adjudicated in the instant ordinary civil action which is for recovery of ownership and
possession." 17
As regards the third issue, petitioner contends that Kristopher Palang should be considered as party-defendant in the case at bar
following the trial court's decision which expressly found that Kristopher had not been impleaded as party defendant but theorized
that he had submitted to the court's jurisdiction through his mother/guardian ad litem. 18 The trial court erred gravely. Kristopher, not
having been impleaded, was, therefore, not a party to the case at bar. His mother, Erlinda cannot be called his guardian ad litem for
he was not involved in the case at bar. Petitioner adds that there is no need for Kristopher to file another action to prove that he is
illegitimate son of Miguel, in order to avoid multiplicity of suits. 19 Petitioner's grave error has been discussed in the preceding
paragraph where the need for probate proceedings to resolve the settlement of Miguel's estate and Kristopher's successional rights
has been pointed out.
WHEREFORE, the instant petition is hereby DENIED. The questioned decision of the Court of Appeals is AFFIRMED. Costs against
petitioner.
SO ORDERED.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
SECOND DIVISION
G.R. No. 185064

January 16, 2012

SPOUSES ARACELI OLIVA-DE MESA and ERNESTO S. DE MESA, Petitioner,


vs.
SPOUSES CLAUDIO D. ACERO, JR. and MA. RUFINA D. ACERO, SHERIFF FELIXBERTO L. SAMONTE and REGISTRAR
ALFREDO SANTOS, Respondents.
DECISION
REYES, J.:
Nature of the Petition
This is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court filed by the Spouses Araceli Oliva-De Mesa (Araceli) and
Ernesto S. De Mesa (Ernesto), assailing the Court of Appeals (CA) Decision 1 dated June 6, 2008 and Resolution2 dated October 23,
2008 in CA-G.R. CV No. 79391 entitled "Spouses Araceli Oliva-De Mesa and Ernesto De Mesa v. Spouses Claudio Acero, Jr., et al."
The Antecedent Facts
This involves a parcel of land situated at No. 3 Forbes Street, Mount Carmel Homes Subdivision, Iba, Meycauayan, Bulacan, which was
formerly covered by Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. T-76.725 (M) issued by the Register of Deeds of Meycauayan, Bulacan and
registered under Aracelis name. The petitioners jointly purchased the subject property on April 17, 1984 while they were still merely
cohabiting before their marriage. A house was later constructed on the subject property, which the petitioners thereafter occupied as
their family home after they got married sometime in January 1987.
Sometime in September 1988, Araceli obtained a loan from Claudio D. Acero, Jr. (Claudio) in the amount ofP100,000.00, which was
secured by a mortgage over the subject property. As payment, Araceli issued a check drawn against China Banking Corporation
payable to Claudio.
When the check was presented for payment, it was dishonored as the account from which it was drawn had already been closed. The
petitioners failed to heed Claudios subsequent demand for payment.
Thus, on April 26, 1990, Claudio filed with the Prosecutor's Office of Malolos, Bulacan a complaint for violation of Batas Pambansa Blg.
22 (B.P. 22) against the petitioners. After preliminary investigation, an information for violation of B.P. 22 was filed against the
petitioners with the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Malolos, Bulacan.
On October 21, 1992, the RTC rendered a Decision 3 acquitting the petitioners but ordering them to pay Claudio the amount
of P100,000.00 with legal interest from date of demand until fully paid.
On March 15, 1993, a writ of execution was issued and Sheriff Felixberto L. Samonte (Sheriff Samonte) levied upon the subject
property. On March 9, 1994, the subject property was sold on public auction; Claudio was the highest bidder and the corresponding
certificate of sale was issued to him.
Sometime in February 1995, Claudio leased the subject property to the petitioners and a certain Juanito Oliva (Juanito) for a monthly
rent of P5,500.00. However, the petitioners and Juanito defaulted in the payment of the rent and as of October 3, 1998, their total
accountabilities to Claudio amounted to P170,500.00.
Meanwhile, on March 24, 1995, a Final Deed of Sale4 over the subject property was issued to Claudio and on April 4, 1995, the
Register of Deeds of Meycauayan, Bulacan cancelled TCT No. T-76.725 (M) and issued TCT No. T-221755 (M) 5 in his favor.
Unable to collect the aforementioned rentals due, Claudio and his wife Ma. Rufina Acero (Rufina) (collectively referred to as Spouses
Acero) filed a complaint for ejectment with the Municipal Trial Court (MTC) of Meycauayan, Bulacan against the petitioners and
Juanito. In their defense, the petitioners claimed that Spouses Acero have no right over the subject property. The petitioners deny that
they are mere lessors; on the contrary, they are the lawful owners of the subject property and, thus cannot be evicted therefrom.

On July 22, 1999, the MTC rendered a Decision, 6 giving due course to Spouses Aceros complaint and ordering the petitioners and
Juanito to vacate the subject property. Finding merit in Spouses Aceros claims, the MTC dismissed the petitioners' claim of ownership
over the subject property. According to the MTC, title to the subject property belongs to Claudio as shown by TCT No. T-221755 (M).
The MTC also stated that from the time a Torrens title over the subject property was issued in Claudios name up to the time the
complaint for ejectment was filed, the petitioners never assailed the validity of the levy made by Sheriff Samonte, the regularity of
the public sale that was conducted thereafter and the legitimacy of Claudios Torrens title that was resultantly issued.
The petitioners appealed the MTCs July 22, 1999 Decision to the RTC. This appeal was, however, dismissed in a Decision dated
November 22, 1999 due to the petitioners failure to submit their Memorandum. The petitioners sought reconsideration of the said
decision but the same was denied in an Order dated January 31, 2000.
Consequently, the petitioners filed a petition for review7 with the CA assailing the RTCs November 22, 1999 Decision and January 31,
2000 Order. In a December 21, 2006 Decision,8 the CA denied the petitioners petition for review. This became final on July 25, 2007. 9
In the interregnum, on October 29, 1999, the petitioners filed against the respondents a complaint 10 to nullify TCT No. T-221755 (M)
and other documents with damages with the RTC of Malolos, Bulacan. Therein, the petitioners asserted that the subject property is a
family home, which is exempt from execution under the Family Code and, thus, could not have been validly levied upon for purposes
of satisfying the March 15, 1993 writ of execution.
On September 3, 2002, the RTC rendered a Decision, 11 which dismissed the petitioners complaint. Citing Article 155(3) of the Family
Code, the RTC ruled that even assuming that the subject property is a family home, the exemption from execution does not apply. A
mortgage was constituted over the subject property to secure the loan Araceli obtained from Claudio and it was levied upon as
payment therefor.
The petitioners sought reconsideration of the RTCs September 3, 2002 Decision but this was denied in a Resolution 12 dated January
14, 2003.
On appeal, the CA affirmed the RTCs disposition in its Decision 13 dated June 6, 2008. The CA ratiocinated that the exemption of a
family home from execution, attachment or forced sale under Article 153 of the Family Code is not automatic and should accordingly
be raised and proved to the Sheriff prior to the execution, forced sale or attachment. The appellate court noted that at no time did the
petitioners raise the supposed exemption of the subject property from execution on account of the same being a family home.
The petitioners then sought reconsideration of the said June 6, 2008 Decision but the same was denied by the CA in its
Resolution14 dated October 23, 2008.
Aggrieved, the petitioners filed the instant petition for review, praying for the cancellation of TCT No. T-221755 (M). They insist that
the execution sale that was conducted is a nullity considering that the subject property is a family home. The petitioners assert that,
contrary to the disposition of the CA, a prior demonstration that the subject property is a family home is not required before it can be
exempted from execution.
In their Comment,15 Spouses Acero claimed that this petition ought to be denied on the ground of forum-shopping as the issues raised
had already been determined by the MTC in its July 22, 1999 Decision on the complaint for ejectment filed by them, which had
already become final and executory following the petitioners failure to appeal the CAs December 21, 2006 Decision affirming it.
Issues
The threshold issues for resolution are the following: (a) whether the petitioners are guilty of forum-shopping; and (b) whether the
lower courts erred in refusing to cancel Claudios Torrens title TCT No. T-221755 (M) over the subject property.
The Courts Ruling
First Issue: Forum-Shopping
On the first issue, we find that the petitioners are not guilty of forum-shopping.
There is forum-shopping when as a result of an adverse decision in one forum, or in anticipation thereof, a party seeks a favorable
opinion in another forum through means other than an appeal or certiorari. Forum-shopping exists when two or more actions involve
the same transactions, essential facts, and circumstances; and raise identical causes of action, subject matter, and issues. 16
Forum-shopping exists where the elements of litis pendentia are present, and where a final judgment in one case will amount to res
judicata in the other. The elements of forum-shopping are: (a) identity of parties, or at least such parties as would represent the same
interest in both actions; (b) identity of rights asserted and relief prayed for, the relief being founded on the same facts; and (c)

identity of the two preceding particulars such that any judgment rendered in the other action will, regardless of which party is
successful, amount to res judicata in the action under consideration.17
There is no identity of issues and reliefs prayed for in the ejectment case and in the action to cancel TCT No. T-221755 (M). Verily, the
primordial issue in the ejectment case is who among the contending parties has a better right of possession over the subject property
while ownership is the core issue in an action to cancel a Torrens title.
It is true that the petitioners raised the issue of ownership over the subject property in the ejectment case. However, the resolution
thereof is only provisional as the same is solely for the purpose of determining who among the parties therein has a better right of
possession over the subject property.
Accordingly, a judgment rendered in an ejectment case is not a bar to action between the same parties respecting title to the land or
building. Neither shall it be conclusive as to the facts therein. This issue is far from being novel and there is no reason to depart from
this Courts previous pronouncements. In Malabanan v. Rural Bank of Cabuyao, Inc.,18 this Court had previously clarified that a
decision in an ejectment case is not res judicata in an annulment of title case and vice-versa given the provisional and inconclusive
nature of the determination of the issue of ownership in the former.
Forum-shopping exists where the elements of litis pendentia are present, namely: (a) identity of parties or at least such as
representing the same interests in both actions; (b) identity of rights asserted and reliefs prayed for, the relief being founded on the
same facts; and (c) the identity in the two cases should be such that the judgment that may be rendered in one would, regardless of
which party is successful, amounts to res judicata in the other.
Petitioner and respondent are the same parties in the annulment and ejectment cases. The issue of ownership was likewise being
contended, with same set of evidence being presented in both cases. However, it cannot be inferred that a judgment in the ejectment
case would amount to res judicata in the annulment case, and vice-versa.
This issue is hardly a novel one. It has been laid to rest by heaps of cases iterating the principle that a judgment rendered in an
ejectment case shall not bar an action between the same parties respecting title to the land or building nor shall it be conclusive as to
the facts therein found in a case between the same parties upon a different cause of action involving possession.
It bears emphasizing that in ejectment suits, the only issue for resolution is the physical or material possession of the property
involved, independent of any claim of ownership by any of the party litigants. However, the issue of ownership may be provisionally
ruled upon for the sole purpose of determining who is entitled to possession de facto. Therefore, the provisional determination of
ownership in the ejectment case cannot be clothed with finality.
Corollarily, the incidental issue of whether a pending action for annulment would abate an ejectment suit must be resolved in the
negative.
A pending action involving ownership of the same property does not bar the filing or consideration of an ejectment suit, nor suspend
the proceedings. This is so because an ejectment case is simply designed to summarily restore physical possession of a piece of land
or building to one who has been illegally or forcibly deprived thereof, without prejudice to the settlement of the parties' opposing
claims of juridical possession in appropriate proceedings.19 (citations omitted)
Second Issue: Nullification of TCT No. T-221755 (M)
Anent the second issue, this Court finds that the CA did not err in dismissing the petitioners complaint for nullification of TCT No. T221755 (M).
The subject property is a family home.
The petitioners maintain that the subject property is a family home and, accordingly, the sale thereof on execution was a nullity.
In Ramos v. Pangilinan,20 this Court laid down the rules relative to exemption of family homes from execution:
For the family home to be exempt from execution, distinction must be made as to what law applies based onwhen it was constituted
and what requirements must be complied with by the judgment debtor or his successors claiming such privilege. Hence, two sets of
rules are applicable.
If the family home was constructed before the effectivity of the Family Code or before August 3, 1988, then it must have been
constituted either judicially or extra-judicially as provided under Articles 225, 229-231 and 233 of the Civil Code.
Judicial constitution of the family home requires the filing of a verified petition before the courts and the registration of the courts
order with the Registry of Deeds of the area where the property is located. Meanwhile, extrajudicial constitution is governed by
Articles 240 to 242 of the Civil Code and involves the execution of a public instrument which must also be registered with the Registry

of Property. Failure to comply with either one of these two modes of constitution will bar a judgment debtor from availing of the
privilege.
On the other hand, for family homes constructed after the effectivity of the Family Code on August 3, 1988, there is no need to
constitute extrajudicially or judicially, and the exemption is effective from the time it was constituted and lasts as long as any of
its beneficiaries under Art. 154 actually resides therein. Moreover, the family home should belong to the absolute community or
conjugal partnership, or if exclusively by one spouse, its constitution must have been with consent of the other, and its value must
not exceed certain amounts depending upon the area where it is located. Further, the debts incurred for which the exemption does
not apply as provided under Art. 155 for which the family home is made answerable must have been incurred after August 3,
1988.21(citations omitted)
In the earlier case of Kelley, Jr. v. Planters Products, Inc.,22 we stressed that:
Under the Family Code, there is no need to constitute the family home judicially or extrajudicially. All family homes constructed after
the effectivity of the Family Code (August 3, 1988) are constituted as such by operation of law.All existing family residences as of
August 3, 1988 are considered family homes and are prospectively entitled to the benefits accorded to a family home
under the Family Code.23 (emphasis supplied and citation omitted)
The foregoing rules on constitution of family homes, for purposes of exemption from execution, could be summarized as follows:
First, family residences constructed before the effectivity of the Family Code or before August 3, 1988 must be constituted
as a family home either judicially or extrajudicially in accordance with the provisions of the Civil Code in order to be exempt
from execution;
Second, family residences constructed after the effectivity of the Family Code on August 3, 1988 are automatically deemed
to be family homes and thus exempt from execution from the time it was constituted and lasts as long as any of its
beneficiaries actually resides therein;
Third, family residences which were not judicially or extrajudicially constituted as a family home prior to the effectivity of
the Family Code, but were existing thereafter, are considered as family homes by operation of law and are prospectively
entitled to the benefits accorded to a family home under the Family Code.
Here, the subject property became a family residence sometime in January 1987. There was no showing, however, that the same was
judicially or extrajudicially constituted as a family home in accordance with the provisions of the Civil Code. Still, when the Family
Code took effect on August 3, 1988, the subject property became a family home by operation of law and was thus prospectively
exempt from execution. The petitioners were thus correct in asserting that the subject property was a family home.
The family homes exemption from execution must be set up and proved to the Sheriff before the sale of the property
at public auction.
Despite the fact that the subject property is a family home and, thus, should have been exempt from execution, we nevertheless rule
that the CA did not err in dismissing the petitioners complaint for nullification of TCT No. T-221755 (M). We agree with the CA that the
petitioners should have asserted the subject property being a family home and its being exempted from execution at the time it was
levied or within a reasonable time thereafter. As the CA aptly pointed out:
In the light of the facts above summarized, it is evident that appellants did not assert their claim of exemption within a reasonable
time. Certainly, reasonable time, for purposes of the law on exemption, does not mean a time after the expiration of the one-year
period provided for in Section 30 of Rule 39 of the Rules of Court for judgment debtors to redeem the property sold on execution,
otherwise it would render nugatory final bills of sale on execution and defeat the very purpose of execution to put an end to
litigation. x x x.24
The foregoing disposition is in accord with the Courts November 25, 2005 Decision in Honrado v. Court of Appeals,25 where it was
categorically stated that at no other time can the status of a residential house as a family home can be set up and proved and its
exemption from execution be claimed but before the sale thereof at public auction:
While it is true that the family home is constituted on a house and lot from the time it is occupied as a family residence and is exempt
from execution or forced sale under Article 153 of the Family Code, such claim for exemption should be set up and proved to the
Sheriff before the sale of the property at public auction. Failure to do so would estop the party from later claiming the exemption. As
this Court ruled in Gomez v. Gealone:

Although the Rules of Court does not prescribe the period within which to claim the exemption, the rule is, nevertheless, well-settled
that the right of exemption is a personal privilege granted to the judgment debtor and as such, it must be claimed not by the sheriff,
but by the debtor himself at the time of the levy or within a reasonable period thereafter;
"In the absence of express provision it has variously held that claim (for exemption) must be made at the time of the levy if the
debtor is present, that it must be made within a reasonable time, or promptly, or before the creditor has taken any step involving
further costs, or before advertisement of sale, or at any time before sale, or within a reasonable time before the sale, or before the
sale has commenced, but as to the last there is contrary authority."
In the light of the facts above summarized, it is self-evident that appellants did not assert their claim of exemption within a
reasonable time. Certainly, reasonable time, for purposes of the law on exemption, does not mean a time after the expiration of the
one-year period provided for in Section 30 of Rule 39 of the Rules of Court for judgment debtors to redeem the property sold on
execution, otherwise it would render nugatory final bills of sale on execution and defeat the very purpose of executionto put an end
to litigation.1awphil We said before, and We repeat it now, that litigation must end and terminate sometime and somewhere, and it is
essential to an effective administration of justice that, once a judgment has become final, the winning party be not, through a mere
subterfuge, deprived of the fruits of the verdict. We now rule that claims for exemption from execution of properties under Section 12
of Rule 39 of the Rules of Court must be presented before its sale on execution by the sherif.26 (citations omitted)
Reiterating the foregoing in Spouses Versola v. Court of Appeals,27 this Court stated that:
Under the cited provision, a family home is deemed constituted on a house and lot from the time it is occupied as a family residence;
there is no need to constitute the same judicially or extrajudicially.
The settled rule is that the right to exemption or forced sale under Article 153 of the Family Code is a personal
privilege granted to the judgment debtor and as such, it must be claimed not by the sheriff, but by the debtor himself
before the sale of the property at public auction. It is not sufficient that the person claiming exemption merely alleges that
such property is a family home. This claim for exemption must be set up and proved to the Sheriff. x x x.28 (emphasis
supplied and citations omitted)
Having failed to set up and prove to the sheriff the supposed exemption of the subject property before the sale thereof at public
auction, the petitioners now are barred from raising the same. Failure to do so estop them from later claiming the said exemption.
Indeed, the family home is a sacred symbol of family love and is the repository of cherished memories that last during ones
lifetime.29 It is likewise without dispute that the family home, from the time of its constitution and so long as any of its beneficiaries
actually resides therein, is generally exempt from execution, forced sale or attachment. 30
The family home is a real right, which is gratuitous, inalienable and free from attachment. It cannot be seized by creditors except in
certain special cases.31 However, this right can be waived or be barred by laches by the failure to set up and prove the status of the
property as a family home at the time of the levy or a reasonable time thereafter.
In this case, it is undisputed that the petitioners allowed a considerable time to lapse before claiming that the subject property is a
family home and its exemption from execution and forced sale under the Family Code. The petitioners allowed the subject property to
be levied upon and the public sale to proceed. One (1) year lapsed from the time the subject property was sold until a Final Deed of
Sale was issued to Claudio and, later, Aracelis Torrens title was cancelled and a new one issued under Claudios name, still, the
petitioner remained silent. In fact, it was only after the respondents filed a complaint for unlawful detainer, or approximately four (4)
years from the time of the auction sale, that the petitioners claimed that the subject property is a family home, thus, exempt from
execution.
For all intents and purposes, the petitioners negligence or omission to assert their right within a reasonable time gives rise to the
presumption that they have abandoned, waived or declined to assert it. Since the exemption under Article 153 of the Family Code is a
personal right, it is incumbent upon the petitioners to invoke and prove the same within the prescribed period and it is not the
sheriffs duty to presume or raise the status of the subject property as a family home.
The petitioners negligence or omission renders their present assertion doubtful; it appears that it is a mere afterthought and artifice
that cannot be countenanced without doing the respondents injustice and depriving the fruits of the judgment award in their favor.
Simple justice and fairness and equitable considerations demand that Claudios title to the property be respected. Equity dictates that
the petitioners are made to suffer the consequences of their unexplained negligence.
WHEREFORE, in consideration of the foregoing disquisitions, the petition is DENIED. The assailed Decision dated June 6, 2008 of the
Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 79391, which affirmed the Decision of the Regional Trial Court of Malolos, Bulacan, Branch 22, in
Civil Case No. 1058-M-99 and dismissed the complaint for declaration of nullity of TCT No. 221755 (M) and other documents, and the
October 23, 2008 Resolution denying reconsideration, are AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
THIRD DIVISION
G.R. No. 183965

September 18, 2009

JOANIE SURPOSA UY, Petitioner,


vs.
JOSE NGO CHUA, Respondent.
DECISION
CHICO-NAZARIO, J.:
This is a Petition for Review under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court assailing the Resolution dated 25 June 2008 of the Regional Trial Court
(RTC) of Cebu City, Branch 24, which granted the demurrer to evidence of respondent Jose Ngo Chua, resulting in the dismissal of
Special Proceeding No. 12562-CEB.
Petitioner Joanie Surposa Uy filed on 27 October 2003 before the RTC a Petition 1 for the issuance of a decree of illegitimate filiation
against respondent. The Complaint was docketed as Special Proceeding No. 12562-CEB, assigned to RTC-Branch 24.
Petitioner alleged in her Complaint that respondent, who was then married, had an illicit relationship with Irene Surposa (Irene).
Respondent and Irene had two children, namely, petitioner and her brother, Allan. Respondent attended to Irene when the latter was
giving birth to petitioner on 27 April 1959, and instructed that petitioners birth certificate be filled out with the following names:
"ALFREDO F. SURPOSA" as father and "IRENE DUCAY" as mother. Actually, Alfredo F. Surposa was the name of Irenes father, and
Ducay was the maiden surname of Irenes mother. Respondent financially supported petitioner and Allan. Respondent had
consistently and regularly given petitioner allowances before she got married. He also provided her with employment. When
petitioner was still in high school, respondent required her to work at the Cebu Liberty Lumber, a firm owned by his family. She was
later on able to work at the Gaisano- Borromeo Branch through respondents efforts. Petitioner and Allan were introduced to each
other and became known in the Chinese community as respondents illegitimate children. During petitioners wedding, respondent
sent his brother Catalino Chua (Catalino) as his representative, and it was the latter who acted as father of the bride. Respondents
relatives even attended the baptism of petitioners daughter. 2
In his Answer3 to the Complaint, filed on 9 December 2003, respondent denied that he had an illicit relationship with Irene, and that
petitioner was his daughter.4 Hearings then ensued during which petitioner testified that respondent was the only father she knew;
that he took care of all her needs until she finished her college education; and that he came to visit her on special family occasions.
She also presented documentary evidence to prove her claim of illegitimate filiation. Subsequently, on 27 March 2008, respondent
filed a Demurrer to Evidence5 on the ground that the Decision dated 21 February 2000 of RTC-Branch 9 in Special Proceeding No.
8830-CEB had already been barred by res judicata in Special Proceeding No. 12562-CEB before RTC-Branch 24.
It turned out that prior to instituting Special Proceeding No. 12562-CEB on 27 October 2003, petitioner had already filed a similar
Petition for the issuance of a decree of illegitimate affiliation against respondent. It was docketed as Special Proceeding No. 8830CEB, assigned to RTC-Branch 9. Petitioner and respondent eventually entered into a Compromise Agreement in Special Proceeding No.
8830-CEB, which was approved by RTC-Branch 9 in a Decision 6 dated 21 February 2000. The full contents of said Decision reads:
Under consideration is a Compromise Agreement filed by the parties on February 18, 2000, praying that judgment be rendered in
accordance therewith, the terms and conditions of which follows:
"1. Petitioner JOANIE SURPOSA UY declares, admits and acknowledges that there is no blood relationship or filiation between
petitioner and her brother Allan on one hand and [herein respondent] JOSE NGO CHUA on the other. This declaration,
admission or acknowledgement is concurred with petitioners brother Allan, who although not a party to the case, hereby
affixes his signature to this pleading and also abides by the declaration herein.
2. As a gesture of goodwill and by way of settling petitioner and her brothers (Allan) civil, monetary and similar claims but
without admitting any liability, [respondent] JOSE NGO CHUA hereby binds himself to pay the petitioner the sum of TWO
MILLION PESOS (P2,000,000.00) and another TWO MILLION PESOS (P2,000,000.00) to her brother, ALLAN SURPOSA.
Petitioner and her brother hereby acknowledge to have received in full the said compromise amount.
3. Petitioner and her brother (Allan) hereby declare that they have absolutely no more claims, causes of action or demands
against [respondent] JOSE NGO CHUA, his heirs, successors and assigns and/or against the estate of Catalino Chua, his heirs,

successors and assigns and/or against all corporations, companies or business enterprises including Cebu Liberty Lumber
and Joe Lino Realty Investment and Development Corporation where defendant JOSE NGO CHUA or CATALINO NGO CHUA
may have interest or participation.
4. [Respondent] JOSE NGO CHUA hereby waives all counterclaim or counter-demand with respect to the subject matter of the
present petition.
5. Pursuant to the foregoing, petitioner hereby asks for a judgment for the permanent dismissal with prejudice of the
captioned petition. [Respondent] also asks for a judgment permanently dismissing with prejudice his counterclaim."
Finding the said compromise agreement to be in order, the Court hereby approves the same. Judgment is rendered in accordance
with the provisions of the compromise agreement. The parties are enjoined to comply with their respective undertakings embodied in
the agreement.7
With no appeal having been filed therefrom, the 21 February 2000 Decision of RTC-Branch 9 in Special Proceeding 8830-CEB was
declared final and executory.
Petitioner filed on 15 April 2008 her Opposition8 to respondents Demurrer to Evidence in Special Proceeding No. 12562-CEB.
Thereafter, RTC-Branch 24 issued its now assailed Resolution dated 25 June 2008 in Special Proceeding No. 12562-CEB, granting
respondents Demurrer.
RTC-Branch 24 summarized the arguments of respondent and petitioner in the Demurrer and Opposition, respectively, as follows:
This is to resolve the issues put across in the Demurrer to the Evidence submitted to this Court; the Opposition thereto; the Comment
on the Opposition and the Rejoinder to the Comment.
xxxx
1. The instant case is barred by the principle of res judicata because there was a judgment entered based on the
Compromise Agreement approved by this multiple-sala Court, branch 09, on the same issues and between the same parties.
2. That such decision of Branch 09, having attained finality, is beyond review, reversal or alteration by another Regional Trial
Court and not even the Supreme Court, no matter how erroneous.
3. Judicial Admissions or admission in petitioners pleadings to the effect that there is no blood relationship between
petitioner and respondent, which is a declaration against interest, are conclusive on her and she should not be permitted to
falsify.
4. That the Certificate of Live Birth showing that petitioners father is Alfredo Surposa is a public document which is the
evidence of the facts therein stated, unless corrected by judicial order.
5. After receiving the benefits and concessions pursuant to their compromise agreement, she is estopped from refuting on
the effects thereof to the prejudice of the [herein respondent].
The summary of the Opposition is in this wise:
1. That the illegitimate filiation of petitioner to respondent is established by the open, and continuous possession of the
status of an illegitimate child.
2. The Demurrer to the evidence cannot set up the affirmative grounds for a Motion to Dismiss.
3. The question on the civil status, future support and future legitime can not be subject to compromise.
4. The decision in the first case does not bar the filing of another action asking for the same relief against the same
defendant.9
Taking into consideration the aforementioned positions of the parties, RTC-Branch 24 held that:
Looking at the issues from the viewpoint of a judge, this Court believes that its hands are tied. Unless the Court of Appeals strikes
down the Compromise Judgment rendered by Branch 09 of the Regional Trial Court of Cebu City, this Court will not attempt to vacate,
much more annul, that Judgment issued by a co-equal court, which had long become final and executory, and in fact executed.

This court upholds the Policy of Judicial Stability since to do otherwise would result in patent abuse of judicial discretion amounting to
lack of jurisdiction. The defense of lack of jurisdiction cannot be waived. At any rate, such is brought forth in the Affirmative Defenses
of the Answer.
This Court, saddled with many cases, suffers the brunt of allowing herein case involving same parties to re-litigate on the same issues
already closed.10
In the end, RTC-Branch 24 decreed:
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Demurrer to the Evidence is hereby given due course, as the herein case is hereby ordered
DISMISSED.11
RTC-Branch 24 denied petitioners Motion for Reconsideration 12 in a Resolution13 dated 29 July 2008.
Petitioner then filed the instant Petition raising the following issues for resolution of this Court:
I
Whether or not the principle of res judicata is applicable to judgments predicated upon a compromise agreement on cases
enumerated in Article 2035 of the Civil Code of the Philippines;
II
Whether or not the compromise agreement entered into by the parties herein before the Regional Trial Court, Branch 09 of Cebu City
effectively bars the filing of the present case.14
At the outset, the Court notes that from the RTC Resolution granting respondents Demurrer to Evidence, petitioner went directly to
this Court for relief. This is only proper, given that petitioner is raising pure questions of law in her instant Petition.a1f
Section 1, Rule 45 of the Rules of Court provides:
SECTION 1. Filing of petition with Supreme Court. A party desiring to appeal by certiorari from a judgment or final order or resolution
of the Court of Appeals, the Sandiganbayan, the Regional Trial Court or other courts whenever authorized by law, may file with the
Supreme Court a verified petition for review on certiorari. The petition shall raise only questions of law which must be distinctly set
forth.
Clearly, a party may directly appeal to this Court from a decision or final order or resolution of the trial court on pure questions of law.
A question of law lies, on one hand, when the doubt or difference arises as to what the law is on a certain set of facts; a question of
fact exists, on the other hand, when the doubt or difference arises as to the truth or falsehood of the alleged facts. Here, the facts are
not disputed; the controversy merely relates to the correct application of the law or jurisprudence to the undisputed facts. 15
The central issue in this case is whether the Compromise Agreement entered into between petitioner and respondent, duly approved
by RTC-Branch 9 in its Decision dated 21 February 2000 in Special Proceeding No. 8830-CEB, constitutes res judicata in Special
Proceeding No. 12562-CEB still pending before RTC-Branch 24.1avvphi1
The doctrine of res judicata is a rule that pervades every well- regulated system of jurisprudence and is founded upon two grounds
embodied in various maxims of the common law, namely: (1) public policy and necessity, which makes it in the interest of the State
that there should be an end to litigation, interest reipublicae ut sit finis litium, and (2) the hardship of the individual that he should be
vexed twice for the same cause, nemo debet bis vexari pro eadem causa. 16
For res judicata, to serve as an absolute bar to a subsequent action, the following requisites must concur: (1) there must be a final
judgment or order; (2) the court rendering it must have jurisdiction over the subject matter and the parties; (3) it must be a judgment
or order on the merits; and (4) there must be, between the two cases, identity of parties, subject matter, and causes of action. 17
It is undeniable that Special Proceeding No. 8830-CEB, previously before RTC-Branch 9, and Special Proceeding No. 12562-CEB,
presently before RTC-Branch 24, were both actions for the issuance of a decree of illegitimate filiation filed by petitioner against
respondent. Hence, there is apparent identity of parties, subject matter, and causes of action between the two cases. However, the
question arises as to whether the other elements of res judicata exist in this case.
The court rules in the negative.

A compromise is a contract whereby the parties, by making reciprocal concessions, avoid a litigation or put an end to one already
commenced.18 In Estate of the late Jesus S. Yujuico v. Republic, 19 the Court pronounced that a judicial compromise has the effect of res
judicata. A judgment based on a compromise agreement is a judgment on the merits.
It must be emphasized, though, that like any other contract, a compromise agreement must comply with the requisites in Article 1318
of the Civil Code, to wit: (a) consent of the contracting parties; (b) object certain that is the subject matter of the contract; and (c)
cause of the obligation that is established. And, like any other contract, the terms and conditions of a compromise agreement must
not be contrary to law, morals, good customs, public policy and public order. Any compromise agreement that is contrary to law or
public policy is null and void, and vests no rights in and holds no obligation for any party. It produces no legal effect at all. 20
In connection with the foregoing, the Court calls attention to Article 2035 of the Civil Code, which states:
ART. 2035. No compromise upon the following questions shall be valid:
(1) The civil status of persons;
(2) The validity of a marriage or a legal separation;
(3) Any ground for legal separation;
(4) Future support;
(5) The jurisdiction of courts;
(6) Future legitime. (Emphases ours.)
The Compromise Agreement between petitioner and respondent, executed on 18 February 2000 and approved by RTC-Branch 9 in its
Decision dated 21 February 2000 in Special Proceeding No. 8830-CEB, obviously intended to settle the question of petitioners status
and filiation, i.e., whether she is an illegitimate child of respondent. In exchange for petitioner and her brother Allan acknowledging
that they are not the children of respondent, respondent would pay petitioner and Allan P2,000,000.00 each. Although unmentioned,
it was a necessary consequence of said Compromise Agreement that petitioner also waived away her rights to future support and
future legitime as an illegitimate child of respondent. Evidently, the Compromise Agreement dated 18 February 2000 between
petitioner and respondent is covered by the prohibition under Article 2035 of the Civil Code.
Advincula v. Advincula21 has a factual background closely similar to the one at bar. Manuela Advincula (Manuela) filed, before the
Court of First Instance (CFI) of Iloilo, Civil Case No. 3553 for acknowledgment and support, against Manuel Advincula (Manuel). On
motion of both parties, said case was dismissed. Not very long after, Manuela again instituted, before the same court, Civil Case No.
5659 for acknowledgment and support, against Manuel. This Court declared that although Civil Case No. 3553 ended in a
compromise, it did not bar the subsequent filing by Manuela of Civil Case No. 5659, asking for the same relief from Manuel. Civil Case
No. 3553 was an action for acknowledgement, affecting a persons civil status, which cannot be the subject of compromise.
It is settled, then, in law and jurisprudence, that the status and filiation of a child cannot be compromised. Public policy demands that
there be no compromise on the status and filiation of a child.22 Paternity and filiation or the lack of the same, is a relationship that
must be judicially established, and it is for the Court to declare its existence or absence. It cannot be left to the will or agreement of
the parties.23
Being contrary to law and public policy, the Compromise Agreement dated 18 February 2000 between petitioner and respondent is
void ab initio and vests no rights and creates no obligations. It produces no legal effect at all. The void agreement cannot be rendered
operative even by the parties' alleged performance (partial or full) of their respective prestations. 24
Neither can it be said that RTC-Branch 9, by approving the Compromise Agreement, in its Decision dated 21 February 2000 in Special
Proceeding No. 8830-CEB, already made said contract valid and legal. Obviously, it would already be beyond the jurisdiction of RTCBranch 9 to legalize what is illegal. RTC-Branch 9 had no authority to approve and give effect to a Compromise Agreement that was
contrary to law and public policy, even if said contract was executed and submitted for approval by both parties. RTC-Branch 9 would
not be competent, under any circumstances, to grant the approval of the said Compromise Agreement. No court can allow itself to be
used as a tool to circumvent the explicit prohibition under Article 2035 of the Civil Code. The following quote in Francisco v.
Zandueta25 is relevant herein:
It is a universal rule of law that parties cannot, by consent, give a court, as such, jurisdiction in a matter which is excluded by the laws
of the land. In such a case the question is not whether a competent court has obtained jurisdiction of a party triable before it, but
whether the court itself is competent under any circumstances to adjudicate a claim against the defendant. And where there is want
of jurisdiction of the subject-matter, a judgment is void as to all persons, and consent of parties can never impart to it the vitality

which a valid judgment derives from the sovereign state, the court being constituted, by express provision of law, as its agent to
pronounce its decrees in controversies between its people. (7 R. C. L., 1039.)
A judgment void for want of jurisdiction is no judgment at all. It cannot be the source of any right or the creator of any obligation. All
acts performed pursuant to it and all claims emanating from it have no legal effect. Hence, it can never become final, and any writ of
execution based on it is void. It may be said to be a lawless thing that can be treated as an outlaw and slain on sight, or ignored
wherever and whenever it exhibits its head.26
In sum, Special Proceeding No. 12562-CEB before RTC-Branch 24 is not barred by res judicata, since RTC-Branch 9 had no jurisdiction
to approve, in its Decision dated 21 February 2000 in Special Proceeding No. 8830-CEB, petitioner and respondents Compromise
Agreement, which was contrary to law and public policy; and, consequently, the Decision dated 21 February 2000 in Special
Proceeding No. 8830-CEB, being null and void for having been rendered by RTC-Branch 9 without jurisdiction, could not have attained
finality or been considered a judgment on the merits.
Nevertheless, the Court must clarify that even though the Compromise Agreement between petitioner and respondent is void for
being contrary to law and public policy, the admission petitioner made therein may still be appreciated against her in Special
Proceeding No. 12562-CEB. RTC-Branch 24 is only reminded that while petitioners admission may have evidentiary value, it does not,
by itself, conclusively establish the lack of filiation.27
Proceeding from its foregoing findings, the Court is remanding this case to the RTC-Branch 24 for the continuation of hearing on
Special Proceedings No. 12562-CEB, more particularly, for respondents presentation of evidence.
Although respondents pleading was captioned a Demurrer to Evidence, it was more appropriately a Motion to Dismiss on the ground
of res judicata.
Demurrer to Evidence is governed by Rule 33 of the Rules of Court, Section 1 of which is reproduced in full below:
SECTION 1. Demurrer to evidence. After the plaintiff has completed the presentation of his evidence, the defendant may move for
dismissal on the ground that upon the facts and the law the plaintiff has shown no right to relief. If his motion is denied, he shall have
the right to present evidence. If the motion is granted but on appeal the order of dismissal is reversed he shall be deemed to have
waived the right to present evidence.
Demurrer to evidence authorizes a judgment on the merits of the case without the defendant having to submit evidence on his part,
as he would ordinarily have to do, if plaintiff's evidence shows that he is not entitled to the relief sought. Demurrer, therefore, is an
aid or instrument for the expeditious termination of an action, similar to a motion to dismiss, which the court or tribunal may either
grant or deny.28
The Court has recently established some guidelines on when a demurrer to evidence should be granted, thus:
A demurrer to evidence may be issued when, upon the facts and the law, the plaintiff has shown no right to relief. Where the
plaintiff's evidence together with such inferences and conclusions as may reasonably be drawn therefrom does not warrant recovery
against the defendant, a demurrer to evidence should be sustained. A demurrer to evidence is likewise sustainable when, admitting
every proven fact favorable to the plaintiff and indulging in his favor all conclusions fairly and reasonably inferable therefrom, the
plaintiff has failed to make out one or more of the material elements of his case, or when there is no evidence to support an
allegation necessary to his claim. It should be sustained where the plaintiff's evidence is prima facie insufficient for a recovery. 29
The essential question to be resolved in a demurrer to evidence is whether petitioner has been able to show that she is entitled to her
claim, and it is incumbent upon RTC-Branch 24 to make such a determination. A perusal of the Resolution dated 25 June 2008 of RTCBranch 24 in Special Proceeding No. 12562-CEB shows that it is barren of any discussion on this matter. It did not take into
consideration any of the evidence presented by petitioner. RTC-Branch 24 dismissed Special Proceedings No. 12562-CEB on the sole
basis of res judicata, given the Decision dated 21 February 2000 of RTC-Branch 9 in Special Proceeding No. 8830-CEB, approving the
Compromise Agreement between petitioner and respondent. Hence, the Resolution dated 25 June 2008 of RTC-Branch 24 should be
deemed as having dismissed Special Proceeding No. 12562-CEB on the ground of res judicata rather than an adjudication on the
merits of respondents demurrer to evidence. Necessarily, the last line of Section 1, Rule 33 of the Rules of Court should not apply
herein and respondent should still be allowed to present evidence before RTC-Branch 24 in Special Proceedings No. 12562-CEB.
It must be kept in mind that substantial justice must prevail. When there is a strong showing that grave miscarriage of justice would
result from the strict application of the Rules, this Court will not hesitate to relax the same in the interest of substantial justice. The
Rules of Court were conceived and promulgated to set forth guidelines in the dispensation of justice but not to bind and chain the
hand that dispenses it, for otherwise, courts will be mere slaves to or robots of technical rules, shorn of judicial discretion. That is
precisely why courts in rendering real justice have always been, as they in fact ought to be, conscientiously guided by the norm that
when on the balance, technicalities take backseat against substantive rights, and not the other way around. 30

WhereforE, premises considered, the Resolution dated 25 June 2008 of the Regional Trial Court of Cebu City, Branch 24, in Special
Proceeding No. 12562-CEB is REVERSED and set aside. This case is ordered REMANDED to the said trial court for further proceedings
in accordance with the ruling of the Court herein. No costs.
SO ORDERED.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
FIRST DIVISION
G.R. Nos. 168992-93

May 21, 2009

IN RE: PETITION FOR ADOPTION OF MICHELLE P. LIM,


MONINA P. LIM, Petitioner.
x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x
IN RE: PETITION FOR ADOPTION OF MICHAEL JUDE P. LIM,
MONINA P. LIM, Petitioner.
DECISION
CARPIO, J.:
The Case
This is a petition for review on certiorari filed by Monina P. Lim (petitioner) seeking to set aside the Decision 1dated 15 September
2004 of the Regional Trial Court, General Santos City, Branch 22 (trial court), in SPL. PROC. Case Nos. 1258 and 1259, which
dismissed without prejudice the consolidated petitions for adoption of Michelle P. Lim and Michael Jude P. Lim.
The Facts
The following facts are undisputed. Petitioner is an optometrist by profession. On 23 June 1974, she married Primo Lim (Lim). They
were childless. Minor children, whose parents were unknown, were entrusted to them by a certain Lucia Ayuban (Ayuban). Being so
eager to have a child of their own, petitioner and Lim registered the children to make it appear that they were the childrens parents.
The children2 were named Michelle P. Lim (Michelle) and Michael Jude P. Lim (Michael). Michelle was barely eleven days old when
brought to the clinic of petitioner. She was born on 15 March 1977.3 Michael was 11 days old when Ayuban brought him to petitioners
clinic. His date of birth is 1 August 1983.4
The spouses reared and cared for the children as if they were their own. They sent the children to exclusive schools. They used the
surname "Lim" in all their school records and documents. Unfortunately, on 28 November 1998, Lim died. On 27 December 2000,
petitioner married Angel Olario (Olario), an American citizen.
Thereafter, petitioner decided to adopt the children by availing of the amnesty 5 given under Republic Act No. 85526 (RA 8552) to
those individuals who simulated the birth of a child. Thus, on 24 April 2002, petitioner filed separate petitions for the adoption of
Michelle and Michael before the trial court docketed as SPL PROC. Case Nos. 1258 and 1259, respectively. At the time of the filing of
the petitions for adoption, Michelle was 25 years old and already married, while Michael was 18 years and seven months old.
Michelle and her husband gave their consent to the adoption as evidenced by their Affidavits of Consent. 7Michael also gave his
consent to his adoption as shown in his Affidavit of Consent.8 Petitioners husband Olario likewise executed an Affidavit of Consent9 for
the adoption of Michelle and Michael.
In the Certification issued by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Michelle was considered as an abandoned
child and the whereabouts of her natural parents were unknown. 10 The DSWD issued a similar Certification for Michael. 11
The Ruling of the Trial Court
On 15 September 2004, the trial court rendered judgment dismissing the petitions. The trial court ruled that since petitioner had
remarried, petitioner should have filed the petition jointly with her new husband. The trial court ruled that joint adoption by the
husband and the wife is mandatory citing Section 7(c), Article III of RA 8552 and Article 185 of the Family Code.
Petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration of the decision but the motion was denied in the Order dated 16 June 2005. In denying
the motion, the trial court ruled that petitioner did not fall under any of the exceptions under Section 7(c), Article III of RA 8552.

Petitioners argument that mere consent of her husband would suffice was untenable because, under the law, there are additional
requirements, such as residency and certification of his qualification, which the husband, who was not even made a party in this case,
must comply.
As to the argument that the adoptees are already emancipated and joint adoption is merely for the joint exercise of parental
authority, the trial court ruled that joint adoption is not only for the purpose of exercising parental authority because an emancipated
child acquires certain rights from his parents and assumes certain obligations and responsibilities.
Hence, the present petition.
Issue
Petitioner appealed directly to this Court raising the sole issue of whether or not petitioner, who has remarried, can singly adopt.
The Courts Ruling
Petitioner contends that the rule on joint adoption must be relaxed because it is the duty of the court and the State to protect the
paramount interest and welfare of the child to be adopted. Petitioner argues that the legal maxim "dura lex sed lex" is not applicable
to adoption cases. She argues that joint parental authority is not necessary in this case since, at the time the petitions were filed,
Michelle was 25 years old and already married, while Michael was already 18 years of age. Parental authority is not anymore
necessary since they have been emancipated having attained the age of majority.
We deny the petition.
Joint Adoption by Husband and Wife
It is undisputed that, at the time the petitions for adoption were filed, petitioner had already remarried. She filed the petitions by
herself, without being joined by her husband Olario. We have no other recourse but to affirm the trial courts decision denying the
petitions for adoption. Dura lex sed lex. The law is explicit. Section 7, Article III of RA 8552 reads:
SEC. 7. Who May Adopt. - The following may adopt:
(a) Any Filipino citizen of legal age, in possession of full civil capacity and legal rights, of good moral character, has not been
convicted of any crime involving moral turpitude, emotionally and psychologically capable of caring for children, at least
sixteen (16) years older than the adoptee, and who is in a position to support and care for his/her children in keeping with
the means of the family. The requirement of sixteen (16) year difference between the age of the adopter and adoptee may
be waived when the adopter is the biological parent of the adoptee, or is the spouse of the adoptees parent;
(b) Any alien possessing the same qualifications as above stated for Filipino nationals: Provided, That his/her country has
diplomatic relations with the Republic of the Philippines, that he/she has been living in the Philippines for at least three (3)
continuous years prior to the filing of the application for adoption and maintains such residence until the adoption decree is
entered, that he/she has been certified by his/her diplomatic or consular office or any appropriate government agency that
he/she has the legal capacity to adopt in his/her country, and that his/her government allows the adoptee to enter his/her
country as his/her adopted son/daughter: Provided, further, That the requirements on residency and certification of the
aliens qualification to adopt in his/her country may be waived for the following:
(i) a former Filipino citizen who seeks to adopt a relative within the fourth (4th) degree of consanguinity or affinity;
or
(ii) one who seeks to adopt the legitimate son/daughter of his/her Filipino spouse; or
(iii) one who is married to a Filipino citizen and seeks to adopt jointly with his/her spouse a relative within the fourth
(4th) degree of consanguinity or affinity of the Filipino spouses; or
(c) The guardian with respect to the ward after the termination of the guardianship and clearance of his/her financial
accountabilities.
Husband and wife shall jointly adopt, except in the following cases:
(i) if one spouse seeks to adopt the legitimate son/daughter of the other; or

(ii) if one spouse seeks to adopt his/her own illegitimate son/daughter: Provided, however, That the other spouse
has signified his/her consent thereto; or
(iii) if the spouses are legally separated from each other.
In case husband and wife jointly adopt, or one spouse adopts the illegitimate son/daughter of the other, joint parental authority shall
be exercised by the spouses. (Emphasis supplied)
The use of the word "shall" in the above-quoted provision means that joint adoption by the husband and the wife is mandatory. This is
in consonance with the concept of joint parental authority over the child which is the ideal situation. As the child to be adopted is
elevated to the level of a legitimate child, it is but natural to require the spouses to adopt jointly. The rule also insures harmony
between the spouses.12
The law is clear. There is no room for ambiguity. Petitioner, having remarried at the time the petitions for adoption were filed, must
jointly adopt. Since the petitions for adoption were filed only by petitioner herself, without joining her husband, Olario, the trial court
was correct in denying the petitions for adoption on this ground.
Neither does petitioner fall under any of the three exceptions enumerated in Section 7. First, the children to be adopted are not the
legitimate children of petitioner or of her husband Olario. Second, the children are not the illegitimate children of petitioner. And third,
petitioner and Olario are not legally separated from each other.
The fact that Olario gave his consent to the adoption as shown in his Affidavit of Consent does not suffice. There are certain
requirements that Olario must comply being an American citizen. He must meet the qualifications set forth in Section 7 of RA 8552
such as: (1) he must prove that his country has diplomatic relations with the Republic of the Philippines; (2) he must have been living
in the Philippines for at least three continuous years prior to the filing of the application for adoption; (3) he must maintain such
residency until the adoption decree is entered; (4) he has legal capacity to adopt in his own country; and (5) the adoptee is allowed to
enter the adopters country as the latters adopted child. None of these qualifications were shown and proved during the trial.
These requirements on residency and certification of the aliens qualification to adopt cannot likewise be waived pursuant to Section
7. The children or adoptees are not relatives within the fourth degree of consanguinity or affinity of petitioner or of Olario. Neither are
the adoptees the legitimate children of petitioner.
Effects of Adoption
Petitioner contends that joint parental authority is not anymore necessary since the children have been emancipated having reached
the age of majority. This is untenable.
Parental authority includes caring for and rearing the children for civic consciousness and efficiency and the development of their
moral, mental and physical character and well-being. 13 The father and the mother shall jointly exercise parental authority over the
persons of their common children.14 Even the remarriage of the surviving parent shall not affect the parental authority over the
children, unless the court appoints another person to be the guardian of the person or property of the children. 15
It is true that when the child reaches the age of emancipation that is, when he attains the age of majority or 18 years of age 16
emancipation terminates parental authority over the person and property of the child, who shall then be qualified and responsible for
all acts of civil life.17 However, parental authority is merely just one of the effects of legal adoption. Article V of RA 8552 enumerates
the effects of adoption, thus:
ARTICLE V
EFFECTS OF ADOPTION
SEC. 16. Parental Authority. - Except in cases where the biological parent is the spouse of the adopter, all legal ties between the
biological parent(s) and the adoptee shall be severed and the same shall then be vested on the adopter(s).
SEC. 17. Legitimacy. - The adoptee shall be considered the legitimate son/daughter of the adopter(s) for all intents and purposes and
as such is entitled to all the rights and obligations provided by law to legitimate sons/daughters born to them without discrimination
of any kind. To this end, the adoptee is entitled to love, guidance, and support in keeping with the means of the family.
SEC. 18. Succession. - In legal and intestate succession, the adopter(s) and the adoptee shall have reciprocal rights of succession
without distinction from legitimate filiation. However, if the adoptee and his/her biological parent(s) had left a will, the law on
testamentary succession shall govern.

Adoption has, thus, the following effects: (1) sever all legal ties between the biological parent(s) and the adoptee, except when the
biological parent is the spouse of the adopter; (2) deem the adoptee as a legitimate child of the adopter; and (3) give adopter and
adoptee reciprocal rights and obligations arising from the relationship of parent and child, including but not limited to: (i) the right of
the adopter to choose the name the child is to be known; and (ii) the right of the adopter and adoptee to be legal and compulsory
heirs of each other.18 Therefore, even if emancipation terminates parental authority, the adoptee is still considered a legitimate child
of the adopter with all the rights19 of a legitimate child such as: (1) to bear the surname of the father and the mother; (2) to receive
support from their parents; and (3) to be entitled to the legitime and other successional rights. Conversely, the adoptive parents shall,
with respect to the adopted child, enjoy all the benefits to which biological parents are entitled 20 such as support21 and successional
rights.22
We are mindful of the fact that adoption statutes, being humane and salutary, hold the interests and welfare of the child to be of
paramount consideration. They are designed to provide homes, parental care and education for unfortunate, needy or orphaned
children and give them the protection of society and family, as well as to allow childless couples or persons to experience the joys of
parenthood and give them legally a child in the person of the adopted for the manifestation of their natural parental instincts. Every
reasonable intendment should be sustained to promote and fulfill these noble and compassionate objectives of the law. 23 But, as we
have ruled inRepublic v. Vergara:24
We are not unmindful of the main purpose of adoption statutes, which is the promotion of the welfare of the children. Accordingly, the
law should be construed liberally, in a manner that will sustain rather than defeat said purpose. The law must also be applied with
compassion, understanding and less severity in view of the fact that it is intended to provide homes, love, care and education for less
fortunate children. Regrettably, the Court is not in a position to affirm the trial courts decision favoring adoption in the case at
bar, for the law is clear and it cannot be modified without violating the proscription against judicial legislation. Until
such time however, that the law on the matter is amended, we cannot sustain the respondent-spouses petition for adoption.
(Emphasis supplied)1avvphi1.zw+
Petitioner, being married at the time the petitions for adoption were filed, should have jointly filed the petitions with her husband. We
cannot make our own legislation to suit petitioner.
Petitioner, in her Memorandum, insists that subsequent events would show that joint adoption could no longer be possible because
Olario has filed a case for dissolution of his marriage to petitioner in the Los Angeles Superior Court.
We disagree. The filing of a case for dissolution of the marriage between petitioner and Olario is of no moment. It is not equivalent to
a decree of dissolution of marriage. Until and unless there is a judicial decree for the dissolution of the marriage between petitioner
and Olario, the marriage still subsists. That being the case, joint adoption by the husband and the wife is required. We reiterate our
ruling above that since, at the time the petitions for adoption were filed, petitioner was married to Olario, joint adoption is mandatory.
WHEREFORE, we DENY the petition. We AFFIRM the Decision dated 15 September 2004 of the Regional Trial Court, General Santos
City, Branch 22 in SPL. PROC. Case Nos. 1258 and 1259. Costs against petitioner.
SO ORDERED.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
FIRST DIVISION
G.R. No. 125041

June 30, 2006

MA. BELEN B. MANGONON, for and in behalf of her minor children REBECCA ANGELA DELGADO and REGINA ISABEL
DELGADO. Petitioner,
vs.
HON. COURT OF APPEALS, HON. JUDGE JOSEFINA GUEVARA-SALONGA, Presiding Judge, RTC-Makati, Branch 149,
FEDERICO C. DELGADO and FRANCISCO C. DELGADO, Respondents.
DECISION
CHICO-NAZARIO, J.:
Before Us is a Petition for Review on Certiorari assailing the Decision 1 of the Court of Appeals dated 20 March 1996, affirming the
Order, dated 12 September 19952 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 149, Makati, granting support pendente lite to Rebecca
Angela (Rica) and Regina Isabel (Rina), both surnamed Delgado.
The generative facts leading to the filing of the present petition are as follows:
On 17 March 1994, petitioner Ma. Belen B. Mangonon filed, in behalf of her then minor children Rica and Rina, a Petition for
Declaration of Legitimacy and Support, with application for support pendente lite with the RTC Makati. 3 In said petition, it was alleged
that on 16 February 1975, petitioner and respondent Federico Delgado were civilly married by then City Court Judge Eleuterio Agudo
in Legaspi City, Albay. At that time, petitioner was only 21 years old while respondent Federico was only 19 years old. As the marriage
was solemnized without the required consent per Article 85 of the New Civil Code, 4 it was annulled on 11 August 1975 by the Quezon
City Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court.5
On 25 March 1976, or within seven months after the annulment of their marriage, petitioner gave birth to twins Rica and Rina.
According to petitioner, she, with the assistance of her second husband Danny Mangonon, raised her twin daughters as private
respondents had totally abandoned them. At the time of the institution of the petition, Rica and Rina were about to enter college in
the United States of America (USA) where petitioner, together with her daughters and second husband, had moved to and finally
settled in. Rica was admitted to the University of Massachusetts (Amherst) while Rina was accepted by the Long Island University and
Western New England College. Despite their admissions to said universities, Rica and Rina were, however, financially incapable of
pursuing collegiate education because of the following:
i) The average annual cost for college education in the US is about US$22,000/year, broken down as follows:
Tuition Fees US$13,000.00
Room & Board 5,000.00
Books 1,000.00
Yearly Transportation &
Meal Allowance 3,000.00
Total US$ 22,000.00
or a total of US$44,000.00, more or less, for both Rica and Rina
ii) Additionally, Rica and Rina need general maintenance support each in the amount of US$3,000.00 per year or a total of
US$6,000 per year.
iii) Unfortunately, petitioners monthly income from her 2 jobs is merely US$1,200 after taxes which she can hardly give
general support to Rica and Rina, much less their required college educational support.

iv) Neither can petitioners present husband be compelled to share in the general support and college education of Rica and
Rina since he has his own son with petitioner and own daughter (also in college) to attend to.
v) Worse, Rica and Rinas petitions for Federal Student Aid have been rejected by the U.S. Department of Education. 6
Petitioner likewise averred that demands7 were made upon Federico and the latters father, Francisco, 8 for general support and for the
payment of the required college education of Rica and Rina. The twin sisters even exerted efforts to work out a settlement concerning
these matters with respondent Federico and respondent Francisco, the latter being generally known to be financially well-off. 9 These
demands, however, remained unheeded. Considering the impending deadline for admission to college and the opening of classes,
petitioner and her then minor children had no choice but to file the petition before the trial court.
Petitioner also alleged that Rica and Rina are her legitimate daughters by respondent Federico since the twin sisters were born within
seven months from the date of the annulment of her marriage to respondent Federico. However, as respondent Federico failed to sign
the birth certificates of Rica and Rina, it was imperative that their status as legitimate children of respondent Federico, and as
granddaughters of respondent Francisco, be judicially declared pursuant to Article 173 of the Family Code. 10
As legitimate children and grandchildren, Rica and Rina are entitled to general and educational support under Articles 174 11 and
195(b)12 in relation to Articles 194(1 and 2)13 and 199(c)14 of the Family Code. Petitioner alleged that under these provisions, in case of
default on the part of the parents, the obligation to provide support falls upon the grandparents of the children; thus, respondent
Federico, or in his default, respondent Francisco should be ordered to provide general and educational support for Rica and Rina in
the amount of US$50,000.00, more or less, per year.
Petitioner also claimed that she was constrained to seek support pendente lite from private respondents - who are millionaires with
extensive assets both here and abroad - in view of the imminent opening of classes, the possibility of a protracted litigation, and Rica
and Rinas lack of financial means to pursue their college education in the USA.
In his Answer,15 respondent Francisco stated that as the birth certificates of Rica and Rina do not bear the signature of respondent
Federico, it is essential that their legitimacy be first established as "there is no basis to claim support until a final and executory
judicial declaration has been made as to the civil status of the children." 16Whatever good deeds he may have done to Rica and Rina,
according to respondent Francisco, was founded on pure acts of Christian charity. He, likewise, averred that the order of liability for
support under Article 199 of the Family Code is not concurrent such that the obligation must be borne by those more closely related
to the recipient. In this case, he maintained that responsibility should rest on the shoulders of petitioner and her second husband, the
latter having voluntarily assumed the duties and responsibilities of a natural father. Even assuming that he is responsible for support,
respondent Francisco contends that he could not be made to answer beyond what petitioner and the father could afford.
On 24 May 1994, petitioner filed a Motion to Declare Defendant (respondent herein) Federico in Default. 17 This was favorably acted
upon by the trial court in the Order dated 16 June 1994. 18
On 5 August 1994, respondent Federico filed a Motion to Lift Order of Default alleging that the summons and a copy of the petition
were not served in his correct address.19 Attached thereto was his Answer 20 where he claimed that petitioner had no cause of action
against him. According to him, he left for abroad and stayed there for a long time "[w]ithin the first one hundred twenty (120) days of
the three hundred days immediately preceding March 25, 1976" and that he only came to know about the birth of Rica and Rina when
the twins introduced themselves to him seventeen years later. In order not to antagonize the two, respondent Federico claimed he did
not tell them that he could not be their father. Even assuming that Rica and Rina are, indeed, his daughters, he alleged that he could
not give them the support they were demanding as he was only making P40,000.00 a month.
Finding sufficient ground in the motion filed by respondent Federico, the trial court lifted its Order dated 16 June 1994 and admitted
his Answer.21
In the meantime, on 25 April 1994, petitioner filed an Urgent Motion to Set Application for Support Pendente Lite for Hearing because
Rica and Rina both badly needed immediate financial resources for their education. 22 This Motion was opposed by respondent
Francisco.23 After both parties submitted supplemental pleadings to bolster their respective positions, the trial court resolved the
motion in an Order dated 12 September 1995 in this wise:
WHEREFORE, in the light of the foregoing considerations, respondents are hereby directed to provide a monthly support (pendente
lite) of P5,000.00 each or a total of P10,000.00 for the education of Rebecca Angela and Regina Isabel Delgado to be delivered within
the first five days of each month without need of demand. 24
Unsatisfied with the Order of the trial court, petitioner brought the case to the Court of Appeals via Petition for Certiorari. The Court of
Appeals affirmed the holding of the trial court and disposed the petition in the following manner:
WHEREFORE, the petition for certiorari is hereby DISMISSED and the Order of the lower court dated September 12, 1995 is hereby
AFFIRMED.25

Petitioners Motion for Reconsideration was denied through the Resolution of the Court of Appeals dated 16 May 1996. 26
Petitioner is now before this Court claiming that the Decision of the Court of Appeals was tainted with the following errors:
RESPONDENT COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN CONCLUDING THAT RESPONDENT JUDGE DID NOT COMMIT GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION
IN FIXING THE AMOUNT OF MONTHLY SUPPORT PENDENTE LITE GRANTED TO PETITIONERS CHILDREN AT A MEASLEY P5,000.00 PER
CHILD.
I.
RESPONDENT COURT IGNORED EVIDENCE ON RECORD OF THE FINANCIAL INCAPACITY OF RICA AND RINAS PARENTS IN DEFAULT OF
WHOM THE OBLIGATION TO GIVE SUPPORT DEVOLVES ON THE GRANDFATHER.
II.
IT BEING ESTABLISHED THAT THE PERSON OBLIGED TO GIVE SUPPORT GRANDFATHER DON PACO IS UNDOUBTEDLY CAPABLE OF
GIVING THE AMOUNT DEMANDED, RESPONDENT COURT ERRED IN NOT HOLDING THAT RESPONDENT JUDGE ACTED WITH GRAVE
ABUSE OF DISCRETION IN FIXING AN AMOUNT OF SUPPORT PENDENTE LITE THAT IS OBVIOUSLY INADEQUATE TO SUPPORT THE
EDUCATIONAL REQUIREMENTS OF THE RECIPIENTS. 27
At the time of the filing of the present Petition, it is alleged that Rica had already entered Rutgers University in New Jersey with a
budget of US$12,500.00 for academic year 1994-1995. She was able to obtain a tuition fee grant of US$1,190.00 and a Federal
Stafford loan from the US government in the amount of US$2,615.00. 28 In order to defray the remaining balance of Ricas education
for said school year, petitioner claims that she had to secure a loan under the Federal Direct Student Loan Program.
Meanwhile, Rina entered CW Post, Long Island University, where she was expected to spend US$20,000.00 for the school year 19941995. She was given a financial grant of US$6,000.00, federal work study assistance of US$2,000.00, and a Federal Stafford loan of
US$2,625.00.29 Again, petitioner obtained a loan to cover the remainder of Rinas school budget for the year.
Petitioner concedes that under the law, the obligation to furnish support to Rica and Rina should be first imposed upon their parents.
She contends, however, that the records of this case demonstrate her as well as respondent Federicos inability to give the support
needed for Rica and Rinas college education. Consequently, the obligation to provide support devolves upon respondent Francisco
being the grandfather of Rica and Rina.
Petitioner also maintains that as respondent Francisco has the financial resources to help defray the cost of Rica and Rinas schooling,
the Court of Appeals then erred in sustaining the trial courts Order directing respondent Federico to pay Rica and Rina the amount of
award P5,000.00 each as monthly support pendente lite.
On the other hand, respondent Francisco argues that the trial court correctly declared that petitioner and respondent Federico should
be the ones to provide the support needed by their twin daughters pursuant to Article 199 of the Family Code. He also maintains that
aside from the financial package availed of by Rica and Rina in the form of state tuition aid grant, work study program and federal
student loan program, petitioner herself was eligible for, and had availed herself of, the federal parent loan program based on her
income and properties in the USA. He, likewise, insists that assuming he could be held liable for support, he has the option to fulfill
the obligation either by paying the support or receiving and maintaining in the dwelling here in the Philippines the person claiming
support.30 As an additional point to be considered by this Court, he posits the argument that because petitioner and her twin
daughters are now US citizens, they cannot invoke the Family Code provisions on support as "[l]aws relating to family rights and
duties, or to the status, condition and legal capacity of persons are binding upon citizens of the Philippines, even though living
abroad."31
Respondent Federico, for his part, continues to deny having sired Rica and Rina by reiterating the grounds he had previously raised
before the trial court. Like his father, respondent Federico argues that assuming he is indeed the father of the twin sisters, he has the
option under the law as to how he would provide support. Lastly, he assents with the declaration of the trial court and the Court of
Appeals that the parents of a child should primarily bear the burden of providing support to their offspring.
The petition is meritorious.
As a preliminary matter, we deem it necessary to briefly discuss the essence of support pendente lite. The pertinent portion of the
Rules of Court on the matter provides:
Rule 61
SUPPORT PENDENTE LITE

SECTION 1. Application.- At the commencement of the proper action or proceeding, or at any time prior to the judgment or final order,
a verified application for support pendente lite may be filed by any party stating the grounds for the claim and the financial conditions
of both parties, and accompanied by affidavits, depositions or other authentic documents in support thereof.
xxxx
SEC. 4. Order.- The court shall determine provisionally the pertinent facts, and shall render such orders as justice and equity may
require, having due regard to the probable outcome of the case and such other circumstances as may aid in the proper resolution of
the question involved. If the application is granted, the court shall fix the amount of money to be provisionally paid or such other
forms of support as should be provided, taking into account the necessities of the applicant and the resources or means of the
adverse party, and the terms of payment or mode for providing the support. If the application is denied, the principal case shall be
tried and decided as early as possible.
Under this provision, a court may temporarily grant support pendente lite prior to the rendition of judgment or final order. Because of
its provisional nature, a court does not need to delve fully into the merits of the case before it can settle an application for this relief.
All that a court is tasked to do is determine the kind and amount of evidence which may suffice to enable it to justly resolve the
application. It is enough that the facts be established by affidavits or other documentary evidence appearing in the
record.32lavvphi1.net
After the hearings conducted on this matter as well as the evidence presented, we find that petitioner was able to establish, by prima
facie proof, the filiation of her twin daughters to private respondents and the twins entitlement to support pendente lite. In the words
of the trial court
By and large, the status of the twins as children of Federico cannot be denied. They had maintained constant communication with
their grandfather Francisco. As a matter of fact, respondent Francisco admitted having wrote several letters to Rica and Rina (Exhs. A,
B, C, D, E, F, G, G-1 to G-30). In the said letters, particularly at the bottom thereof, respondent Francisco wrote the names of Rica and
Rina Delgado. He therefore was very well aware that they bear the surname Delgado. Likewise, he referred to himself in his letters as
either "Lolo Paco" or "Daddy Paco." In his letter of October 13, 1989 (Exh. G-21), he said "as the grandfather, am extending a financial
help of US$1,000.00." On top of this, respondent Federico even gave the twins a treat to Hongkong during their visit to the
Philippines. Indeed, respondents, by their actuations, have shown beyond doubt that the twins are the children of Federico. 33
Having addressed the issue of the propriety of the trial courts grant of support pendente lite in favor of Rica and Rina, the next
question is who should be made liable for said award.
The pertinent provision of the Family Code on this subject states:
ART. 199. Whenever two or more persons are obliged to give support, the liability shall devolve upon the following persons in the
order herein provided:
(1) The spouse;
(2) The descendants in the nearest degree;
(3) The ascendants in the nearest degree; and
(4) The brothers and sisters.
An eminent author on the subject explains that the obligation to give support rests principally on those more closely related to the
recipient. However, the more remote relatives may be held to shoulder the responsibility should the claimant prove that those who
are called upon to provide support do not have the means to do so. 34
In this case, both the trial court and the Court of Appeals held respondent Federico liable to provide monthly support pendente lite in
the total amount of P10,000.00 by taking into consideration his supposed income ofP30,000.00 to P40,000.00 per month. We are,
however, unconvinced as to the veracity of this ground relied upon by the trial court and the Court of Appeals.
It is a basic procedural edict that questions of fact cannot be the proper subject of a petition for review under Rule 45 of the 1997
Rules of Civil Procedure. The rule finds a more stringent application where the Court of Appeals upholds the findings of fact of the trial
court; in such a situation, this Court, as the final arbiter, is generally bound to adopt the facts as determined by the appellate and the
lower courts. This rule, however, is not ironclad as it admits of the following recognized exceptions: "(1) when the findings are
grounded entirely on speculation, surmises or conjectures; (2) when the inference made is manifestly mistaken, absurd or impossible;
(3) when there is grave abuse of discretion; (4) when the judgment is based on a misapprehension of facts; (5) when the findings of
facts are conflicting; (6) when in making its findings the Court of Appeals went beyond the issues of the case, or its findings are

contrary to the admissions of both the appellant and the appellee; (7) when the findings are contrary to that of the trial court; (8)
when the findings are conclusions without citation of specific evidence on which they are based; (9) when the facts set forth in the
petition as well as in the petitioners main and reply briefs are not disputed by the respondent; (10) when the findings of fact are
premised on the supposed absence of evidence and contradicted by the evidence on record; and (11) when the Court of Appeals
manifestly overlooked certain relevant facts not disputed by the parties, which, if properly considered, would justify a different
conclusion."35 The case at bar falls within the seventh and eleventh exceptions.
The trial court gave full credence to respondent Federicos allegation in his Answer 36 and his testimony37 as to the amount of his
income. We have, however, reviewed the records of this case and found them bereft of evidence to support his assertions regarding
his employment and his earning. Notably, he was even required by petitioners counsel to present to the court his income tax return
and yet the records of this case do not bear a copy of said document. 38 This, to our mind, severely undermines the truthfulness of
respondent Federicos assertion with respect to his financial status and capacity to provide support to Rica and Rina.
In addition, respondent Francisco himself stated in the witness stand that as far as he knew, his son, respondent Federico did not own
anything
"Atty. Lopez:
I have here another letter under the letter head of Mr. & Mrs. Dany Mangonon, dated October 19, 1991 addressed to Mr. Francisco
Delgado signed by "sincerely, Danny Mangonon, can you remember."
xxxx
WITNESS:
A: I do remember this letter because it really irritated me so much that I threw it away in a waste basket. It is a very demanding
letter, that is what I do not like at all.
ATTY. LOPEZ:
Q: It is stated in this letter that "I am making this request to you and not to your son, Rico, for reasons we both are aware of." Do you
know what reason that is?
A: Yes. The reason is that my son do not have fix employment and do not have fix salary and income and they want to depend on the
lolo.
x x x xlavvphi1.net
Q: Would you have any knowledge if Federico owns a house and lot?
A: Not that I know. I do not think he has anything.
Q: How about a car?
A: Well, his car is owned by my company. 39
Respondent Federico himself admitted in court that he had no property of his own, thus:
Q: You also mentioned that you are staying at Mayflower Building and you further earlier testified that this building belongs to Citadel
Corporation. Do you confirm that?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: What car are you driving, Mr. Witness?
A: I am driving a lancer, sir.
Q: What car, that registered in the name of the corporation?
A: In the corporation, sir.

Q: What corporation is that?


A: Citadel Commercial, Inc., sir.
Q: What properties, if any, are registered in your name, do you have any properties, Mr. Witness?
A: None, sir."40 (Emphasis supplied.)
Meanwhile, respondent Francisco asserts that petitioner possessed the capacity to give support to her twin daughters as she has
gainful employment in the USA. He even went as far as to state that petitioners income abroad, when converted to Philippine peso,
was much higher than that received by a trial court judge here in the Philippines. In addition, he claims that as she qualified for the
federal parent loan program, she could very well support the college studies of her daughters.
We are unconvinced. Respondent Franciscos assertion that petitioner had the means to support her daughters education is belied by
the fact that petitioner was even forced by her financial status in the USA to secure the loan from the federal government. If
petitioner were really making enough money abroad, she certainly would not have felt the need to apply for said loan. The fact that
petitioner was compelled to take out a loan is enough indication that she did not have enough money to enable her to send her
daughters to college by herself. Moreover, even Rica and Rina themselves were forced by the circumstances they found themselves
in to secure loans under their names so as not to delay their entrance to college.
There being prima facie evidence showing that petitioner and respondent Federico are the parents of Rica and Rina, petitioner and
respondent Federico are primarily charged to support their childrens college education. In view however of their incapacities, the
obligation to furnish said support should be borne by respondent Francisco. Under Article 199 of the Family Code, respondent
Francisco, as the next immediate relative of Rica and Rina, is tasked to give support to his granddaughters in default of their parents.
It bears stressing that respondent Francisco is the majority stockholder and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Citadel Commercial,
Incorporated, which owns and manages twelve gasoline stations, substantial real estate, and is engaged in shipping, brokerage and
freight forwarding. He is also the majority stockholder and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Citadel Shipping which does business
with Hyundai of Korea. Apart from these, he also owns the Citadel Corporation which, in turn, owns real properties in different parts of
the country. He is likewise the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Isla Communication Co. and he owns shares of stocks of Citadel
Holdings. In addition, he owns real properties here and abroad.41 It having been established that respondent Francisco has the
financial means to support his granddaughters education, he, in lieu of petitioner and respondent Federico, should be held liable for
support pendente lite.
Anent respondent Francisco and Federicos claim that they have the option under the law as to how they could perform their
obligation to support Rica and Rina, respondent Francisco insists that Rica and Rina should move here to the Philippines to study in
any of the local universities. After all, the quality of education here, according to him, is at par with that offered in the USA. The
applicable provision of the Family Code on this subject provides:
Art. 204. The person obliged to give support shall have the option to fulfill the obligation either by paying the allowance fixed, or by
receiving and maintaining in the family dwelling the person who has a right to receive support. The latter alternative cannot be
availed of in case there is a moral or legal obstacle thereto.
Under the abovecited provision, the obligor is given the choice as to how he could dispense his obligation to give support. Thus, he
may give the determined amount of support to the claimant or he may allow the latter to stay in the family dwelling. The second
option cannot be availed of in case there are circumstances, legal or moral, which should be considered.
In this case, this Court believes that respondent Francisco could not avail himself of the second option. From the records, we gleaned
that prior to the commencement of this action, the relationship between respondent Francisco, on one hand, and petitioner and her
twin daughters, on the other, was indeed quite pleasant. The correspondences exchanged among them expressed profound feelings
of thoughtfulness and concern for one anothers well-being. The photographs presented by petitioner as part of her exhibits
presented a seemingly typical family celebrating kinship. All of these, however, are now things of the past. With the filing of this case,
and the allegations hurled at one another by the parties, the relationships among the parties had certainly been affected. Particularly
difficult for Rica and Rina must be the fact that those who they had considered and claimed as family denied having any familial
relationship with them. Given all these, we could not see Rica and Rina moving back here in the Philippines in the company of those
who have disowned them.
Finally, as to the amount of support pendente lite, we take our bearings from the provision of the law mandating the amount of
support to be proportionate to the resources or means of the giver and to the necessities of the recipient. 42 Guided by this principle,
we hold respondent Francisco liable for half of the amount of school expenses incurred by Rica and Rina as support pendente lite. As
established by petitioner, respondent Francisco has the financial resources to pay this amount given his various business endeavors.

Considering, however, that the twin sisters may have already been done with their education by the time of the promulgation of this
decision, we deem it proper to award support pendente lite in arrears43 to be computed from the time they entered college until they
had finished their respective studies.
The issue of the applicability of Article 15 of the Civil Code on petitioner and her twin daughters raised by respondent Francisco is
best left for the resolution of the trial court. After all, in case it would be resolved that Rica and Rina are not entitled to support
pendente lite, the court shall then order the return of the amounts already paid with legal interest from the dates of actual payment. 44
WHEREFORE, premises considered, this Petition is PARTIALLY GRANTED. The Decision of the Court of Appeals dated 20 March 1996
and Resolution dated 16 May 1996 affirming the Order dated 12 September 1995 of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 149, Makati,
fixing the amount of support pendente lite to P5,000.00 for Rebecca Angela and Regina Isabel, are hereby MODIFIED in that
respondent Francisco Delgado is hereby held liable for support pendente lite in the amount to be determined by the trial court
pursuant to this Decision. Let the records of this case be remanded to the trial court for the determination of the proper amount of
support pendente lite for Rebecca Angela and Regina Isabel as well as the arrearages due them in accordance with this Decision
within ten (10) days from receipt hereof. Concomitantly, the trial court is directed to proceed with the trial of the main case and the
immediate resolution of the same with deliberate dispatch. The RTC Judge, Branch 149, Makati, is further directed to submit a report
of his compliance with the directive regarding the support pendente lite within ten (10) days from compliance thereof.
SO ORDERED.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
FIRST DIVISION
G.R. No. 150920 November 25, 2005
CHILD LEARNING CENTER, INC. and SPOUSES EDGARDO L. LIMON and SYLVIA S. LIMON, Petitioners,
vs.
TIMOTHY TAGARIO, assisted by his parents BASILIO TAGORIO and HERMINIA TAGORIO, Respondents.
DECISION
AZCUNA, J.:
This petition started with a tort case filed with the Regional Trial Court of Makati by Timothy Tagorio and his parents, Basilio R. Tagorio
and Herminia Tagorio, docketed as Civil Case No. 91-1389. The complaint 1 alleged that during the school year 1990-1991, Timothy
was a Grade IV student at Marymount School, an academic institution operated and maintained by Child Learning Center, Inc. (CLC).
In the afternoon of March 5, 1991, between 1 and 2 p.m., Timothy entered the boys comfort room at the third floor of the Marymount
building to answer the call of nature. He, however, found himself locked inside and unable to get out. Timothy started to panic and so
he banged and kicked the door and yelled several times for help. When no help arrived he decided to open the window to call for
help. In the process of opening the window, Timothy went right through and fell down three stories. Timothy was hospitalized and
given medical treatment for serious multiple physical injuries.
An action under Article 2176 of the Civil Code was filed by respondents against the CLC, the members of its Board of Directors,
namely Spouses Edgardo and Sylvia Limon, Alfonso Cruz, Carmelo Narciso and Luningning Salvador, and the Administrative Officer of
Marymount School, Ricardo Pilao. In its defense,2 CLC maintained that there was nothing defective about the locking mechanism of
the door and that the fall of Timothy was not due to its fault or negligence. CLC further maintained that it had exercised the due care
and diligence of a good father of a family to ensure the safety, well-being and convenience of its students.
After trial, the court a quo found in favor of respondents and ordered petitioners CLC and Spouses Limon to pay respondents, jointly
and severally, P200,253.12 as actual and compensatory damages, P200,000 as moral damages, P50,000 as exemplary
damages, P100,000 as attorneys fees and the costs of the suit. The trial court disregarded the corporate fiction of CLC and held the
Spouses Limon personally liable because they were the ones who actually managed the affairs of the CLC.
Petitioners CLC and the Spouses Limon appealed the decision to the Court of Appeals.
On September 28, 2001, the Court of Appeals3 affirmed the decision in toto. Petitioners elevated the case to this Court under Rule 45
of the Rules of Court, after their motion for reconsideration was denied by Resolution of November 23, 2001. 4

Petitioners question several factual findings of the trial court, which were affirmed by the Court of Appeals, namely: 5
1. That respondent was allegedly trapped inside the boys comfort room located at the third floor of the school building on March 5,
1991;
2. That respondent allegedly banged and kicked the door of said comfort room several times to attract attention and that he allegedly
yelled thereat for help which never came;
3. That respondent was allegedly forced to open the window of said comfort room to seek help;
4. That the lock set installed at the boys comfort room located in the third floor of the school building on March 5, 1991 was allegedly
defective and that the same lock set was involved in previous incidents of alleged malfunctioning;
5. That petitioner Child Learning Center, Inc. allegedly failed to install iron grills in the window of the boys comfort room at the third
floor of the school building;
6. That petitioner Child Learning Center, Inc. allegedly failed to exercise the due care of a good father of a family in the selection and
supervision of its employees;
7. That the proximate cause of respondents accident was allegedly not due to his own contributory negligence;

8. That there was an alleged basis to apply the legal principle of "piercing the veil of corporate entity" in resolving the issue of alleged
liability of petitioners Edgardo L. Limon and Sylvia S. Limon;
9. That there was alleged basis for petitioners to pay respondent actual, moral and exemplary damages, plus attorneys fees;
10. That there was an alleged basis in not awarding petitioners prayer for moral and exemplary damages, including attorneys fees.
Generally, factual findings of the trial court, affirmed by the Court of Appeals, are final and conclusive and may not be reviewed on
appeal. The established exceptions are: (1) when the inference made is manifestly mistaken, absurd or impossible; (2) when there is
grave abuse of discretion; (3) when the findings are grounded entirely on speculations, surmises or conjectures; (4) when the
judgment of the Court of Appeals is based on misapprehension of facts; (5) when the findings of fact are conflicting; (6) when the
Court of Appeals, in making its findings, went beyond the issues of the case and the same is contrary to the admissions of both
appellant and appellee; (7) when the findings of fact are conclusions without citation of specific evidence on which they are based; (8)
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; and (9) when the findings of fact of the Court of Appeals are premised on the absence of evidence
and are contradicted by the evidence on record. 6
On the basis of the records of this case, this Court finds no justification to reverse the factual findings and consider this case as an
exception to the general rule.
In every tort case filed under Article 2176 of the Civil Code, plaintiff has to prove by a preponderance of evidence: (1) the damages
suffered by the plaintiff; (2) the fault or negligence of the defendant or some other person for whose act he must respond; and (3) the
connection of cause and effect between the fault or negligence and the damages incurred. 7
Fault, in general, signifies a voluntary act or omission which causes damage to the right of another giving rise to an obligation on the
part of the actor to repair such damage. Negligence is the failure to observe for the protection of the interest of another person that
degree of care, precaution and vigilance which the circumstances justly demand. Fault requires the execution of a positive act which
causes damage to another while negligence consists of the omission to do acts which result in damage to another. 8
In this tort case, respondents contend that CLC failed to provide precautionary measures to avoid harm and injury to its students in
two instances: (1) failure to fix a defective door knob despite having been notified of the problem; and (2) failure to install safety grills
on the window where Timothy fell from.
The trial court found that the lock was defective on March 5, 1991: 9
The door knob was defective. After the incident of March 5, 1991, said door knob was taken off the door of the toilet where Timothy
was in. The architect who testified during the trial declared that although there were standard specifications for door knobs for
comfort room[s], and he designed them according to that requirement, he did not investigate whether the door knob specified in his
plans during the construction [was] actually put in place. This is so because he did not verify whether the door knob he specified
w[as] actually put in place at the particular comfort room where Timothy was barred from getting outside. (TSN, pp. 19-20, December
8, 1994).
The Court of Appeals held that there was no reason to disturb the factual assessment: 10
After having perused the records, We fail to see any indication of whim or arbitrariness on the part of the trial magistrate in his
assessment of the facts of the case. That said, We deem it not to be within Our business to recast the factual conclusions reached by
the court below.
Petitioners would make much of the point that no direct evidence was presented to prove that the door knob was indeed defective on
the date in question.
The fact, however, that Timothy fell out through the window shows that the door could not be opened from the inside. That
sufficiently points to the fact that something was wrong with the door, if not the door knob, under the principle of res ipsa loquitor.
The doctrine of res ipsa loquitor applies where (1) the accident was of such character as to warrant an inference that it would not
have happened except for the defendants negligence; (2) the accident must have been caused by an agency or instrumentality
within the exclusive management or control of the person charged with the negligence complained of; and (3) the accident must not
have been due to any voluntary action or contribution on the part of the person injured. 11 Petitioners are clearly answerable for failure
to see to it that the doors of their school toilets are at all times in working condition. The fact that a student had to go through the
window, instead of the door, shows that something was wrong with the door.
As to the absence of grills on the window, petitioners contend that there was no such requirement under the Building Code.
Nevertheless, the fact is that such window, as petitioners themselves point out, was approximately 1.5 meters from the floor, so that

it was within reach of a student who finds the regular exit, the door, not functioning. Petitioners, with the due diligence of a good
father of the family, should have anticipated that a student, locked in the toilet by a non-working door, would attempt to use the
window to call for help or even to get out. Considering all the circumstances, therefore, there is sufficient basis to sustain a finding of
liability on petitioners part.
Petitioners argument that CLC exercised the due diligence of a good father of a family in the selection and supervision of its
employees is not decisive. Due diligence in the selection and supervision of employees is applicable where the employer is being held
responsible for the acts or omissions of others under Article 2180 of the Civil Code. 12 In this case, CLCs liability is under Article 2176
of the Civil Code, premised on the fact of its own negligence in not ensuring that all its doors are properly maintained.
Our pronouncement that Timothy climbed out of the window because he could not get out using the door, negates petitioners other
contention that the proximate cause of the accident was Timothys own negligence. The injuries he sustained from the fall were the
product of a natural and continuous sequence, unbroken by any intervening cause, that originated from CLCs own negligence.
We, however, agree with petitioners that there was no basis to pierce CLCs separate corporate personality. To disregard the corporate
existence, the plaintiff must prove: (1) Control by the individual owners, not mere majority or complete stock ownership, resulting in
complete domination not only of finances but of policy and business practice in respect to a transaction so that the corporate entity
as to this transaction had at the time no separate mind, will or existence of its own; (2) such control must have been used by the
defendant to commit fraud or wrong, to perpetuate the violation of a statutory or other positive legal duty, or a dishonest and unjust
act in contravention of the plaintiffs legal right; and (3) the control and breach of duty must proximately cause the injury or unjust
loss complained of. The absence of these elements prevents piercing the corporate veil. 13 The evidence on record fails to show that
these elements are present, especially given the fact that plaintiffs complaint had pleaded that CLC is a corporation duly organized
and existing under the laws of the Philippines.
On 9th and 10th points raised concerning the award of damages, the resolution would rest on factual determinations by the trial
court, affirmed by the Court of Appeals, and no legal issue warrants our intervention.
WHEREFORE, the petition is partly granted and the Decision and Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 50961 dated
September 28, 2001 and November 23, 2001, respectively, are MODIFIED in that petitioners Spouses Edgardo and Sylvia Limon are
absolved from personal liability. The Decision and Resolution areAFFIRMED in all other respects. No pronouncement as to costs.
SO ORDERED.