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CORPUS v.

CORPUS
October 23, 1978 | Aquino, J. | Illegitimate children | Conejero

PETITIONER: Tomas Corpus


RESPONDENT: Administrator and/or Executor of the Estate of Teodoro R. Yangco, Rafael Corpus, Amalia Corpus, Jose
A.V. Corpus, Ramon L. Corpus, Enrique J. Corpus, S. W. Stagg, Soledad Asprer and Cipriano Navarro

SUMMARY: Tomas Corpus, son of legitimate child Juanita, filed an action to recover his mothers share in the intestate
estate of Teodoro Yangco. Teodoro was Juanitas illegitimate half-uncle and the recognized natural half-brother of
Juanitas father Jose, born from the valid second marriage of Juanitas grandmother Ramona Arguelles with Luis Rafael
Yangco. The probate of Teodoros will and the project of partition was approved despite opposition, since the legatees
settled the oppositors claims for P35,000, including the P2,000 that Tomas got as Juanitas heir. It was at this point that
Tomas filed the said action to recover, alleging the invalidity of Teodoros will which contained a prohibited provision
absolutely barring alienation. The TC ruled that the wills validity had been passed upon with finality and dismissed his
case, leading to this appeal referred by the CA. The Court herein ruled that Juanita could not recover from Teodoros
estate, the two being legitimate and illegitimate relatives respectively [See Ratio 1 for the facts proving their relationship].

DOCTRINE: Article 992 of the Civil Code provides that "an illegitimate child has no right to inherit ab intestato from the
legitimate children and relatives of his father or mother; nor shall such children or relatives inherit in the same manner
from the illegitimate child". [See Ratio 2 for the historical background of doctrine, Ratio 3 for jurisprudence]

FACTS:
1. This case concerns the second family of Ramona Arguelles. Ramonas first marriage was to Tomas Corpus, wherein
she had 5 children (Pablo, Jose and 3 others). Upon Tomass death, Ramona wed Luis Rafael Yangco and had 4
recognized acknowledged natural children with him (one of the four children being decedent Teodoro Yangco).
2. When Teodoro Yangco died on April 20, 1939, he had no forced heirs. His remaining relatives were
a. His half-siblings Luis Yangco and Paz Yangco-Osorio
b. His niece and nephews via maternal half-brother Pablo Corpus, namely Amalia, Jose and Ramon Corpus
c. His niece via maternal half-brother Jose Corpus, namely Juana/Juanita Corpus, who died October 1944
3. CFI Manila probated Teodoros will, the decree of which was affirmed in Corpus v. Yangco (1941). Pursuant to order of
probate court, a project of partition was submitted by the administrator and the legatees named in the will.
4. The said project was contested by two groups of oppositors, on the following grounds:
a. Estate of Luis Yangco: intestacy should be declared as the will does not contain an institution of heir
b. Juanita Corpus, and her children Pedro Martinez and Juliana de Castro: the partition was not in conformity
with the will as the testator intended conservation of the estate, not its physical partition
5. The project of partition of Teodoros estate was approved by the probate court, in essence holding that the testator did
not really intend to a perpetual prohibition against alienation when he stated that some of his estate be conserved.
6. The SC appeal by the oppositors was dismissed when they and the legatees entered into a compromise agreement.
The October 7, 1947 agreement was that the legatees would pay P35,000 to Pedro Martinez, the heirs of Pio V.
Corpus, the heirs of Isabel Corpus and the sole heir of Juanita Corpus (petitioner Tomas signed the agreement as
such, as well as a receipt for P2,000 as settlement). The estate of Luis R. Yangco entered into a similar agreement.
7. On September 20, 1949, the legatees executed an agreement for the settlement and physical partition of the Yangco
estate. The probate court approved that agreement which modified the 1945 project of partition pro tanto. That did not
set at rest the controvery over the Yangco's estate.
8. Petitioner Tomas filed an action in CFI Manila to recover his mother Juanitas supposed share in the Yangco intestate
estate. He alleged that the perpetual prohibition on alienation rendered Teodoros will void under article 785, old Civil
Code, making the 1949 partition invalid and, the rules on intestacy controlling in distribution of the decedent's estate.
9. The TC dismissed the action on the grounds of res judicata and laches, saying that the intrinsic validity of Yangco's
will was passed upon when the CFI Manila previously approved the project of partition for the testator's estate.
10. Tomas appealed to the CA which certified the appeal to this Court because it involves real property valued at more
than fifty thousand pesos (Sec. 17151 Judiciary Law before RA 2613 amended it).
11. Tomas now contends in this appeal that the TC erred in holding (1) that Teodoro was a natural child, (2) that his will
had been duly legalized and (3) that his action is barred by res judicata and laches.

ISSUE/HELD: Whether Tomass mom Juanita was a legal heir of Teodoro so that Tomas could recover Juanitas
supposed intestate share in the estate NO, Juanita was not a legal heir since she was a legitimate child as the
daughter of legitimate child Jose Corpus, while Teodoro is an illegitimate and recognized natural child. There is no
reciprocal succession between legitimate and illegitimate relatives, meaning Tomas had no cause of action in this case.
[Note: on the other assigned errors, the Court deemed it unnecessary to determine if the will was duly legalized and
whether Tomass action was barred by laches]

RATIO:
1. Tomas has no cause of action for the recovery of the supposed share of his mother, Juanita, since there is no
reciprocal succession between legitimate and illegitimate relatives such as Juanita and Teodoro respectively.
a. Teodoro was an acknowledged natural child and not a legitimate child based on the statement in the will of his
father, Luis Rafael, dated June 14, 1907, that Teodoro and his three other children were his acknowledged
natural children.
i. Tomas assails the probative value of Luiss will which is a mere copy of an exhibit in the record on appeal.
However, the authenticity of the will is incontestable as part of a public or official judicial record.
ii. Tomas argued that the will should not prevail over the presumption of legitimacy found in section 69, Rule 123 of
the old Rules of Court and over the statement of Samuel W. Stagg in his biography of Teodoro, that Luis Rafaels
second marriage was with Victoria Obin implying that the first was with Teodoros mother Ramona Arguelles. The
Court did not squarely deal with this but said that the will was incontestable.
b. The children of Ramona Arguelles from her first marriage to Tomas Corpus, including Juanita, are presumed
to be legitimate. A marriage is presumed to have taken place between Ramona and Tomas. Semper
praesumitur pro matrimonio. It is disputably presumed "That a man and a woman deporting themselves as
husband and wife have entered into a lawful contract of marriage"; "that a child born in lawful wedlock, there
being no divorce, absolute or from bed and board, is legitimate", and "that things have happened according to
the ordinary course of nature and the ordinary habits of life" (Sec. 5[z], [bb] and cc Rule 131, Rules of Court).
2. Article 992 provides that an illegitimate child has no right to inherit ab intestato from the legitimate children and
relatives of his parents; nor shall such children or relatives inherit in the same manner from the illegitimate child".
a. That rule is based on the theory that the illegitimate child is disgracefully looked upon by the legitimate family
while the legitimate family is, in turn, hated by the illegitimate child.The law does not recognize the blood tie
and seeks to avoid further grounds of resentment (7 Manresa, Codigo Civil, 7th Ed., pp. 185- 6).
b. The same rule was found in Article 943 which "prohibits all successory reciprocity mortis causa between
legitimate and illegitimate relatives" (Sanchez Roman, in Director of Lands v. Aguas)
c. Teodoro R. Yangco's half-brothers on the Corpus side, who were legitimate, had no right to succeed to his
estate under the rules of intestacy. Under articles 944 and 945 of the Spanish Civil Code, if an acknowledged
natural or legitimated child should die without issue, the father or mother shall succeed to its entire estate, or
both parents share and share alike. In default of natural ascendants, they shall be succeeded by
their natural brothers and sisters in accordance with the rules established for legitimate brothers and sisters."
3. Legitimate relatives cannot succeed illegitimate ones and vice versa. Petitioner Tomas concedes in his appellants
brief that if Teodoro was a natural child, Tomas would have no legal personality to intervene in the estate.
a. The legitimate relatives of the mother cannot succeed her illegitimate child (Cacho v. Udan).
b. Acknowledged natural paternal cousins are not legal heirs of a legitimate daughter (Grey v. Table).
c. The natural child cannot represent his natural father in the succession to the estate of the legitimate
grandparent (Llorente vs. Rodriguez; Centeno vs. Centen; Allarde vs. Abaya).
d. The natural daughter cannot succeed her deceased legitimate maternal uncle (Anuran vs. Aquino and Ortiz).

DISPOSITIVE: The lower court's judgment is affirmed. No costs.