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ARTICLE 2 f] Letters of Implementation Nos.: 7, 8, 9, 10, 11-22, 25-


27, 39, 50, 51, 59, 76, 80-81, 92, 94, 95, 107, 120, 122,
G.R. No. L-63915 April 24, 1985 123.

LORENZO M. TAÑADA, vs.HON. JUAN C. TUVERA g] Administrative Orders Nos.: 347, 348, 352-354, 360-
378, 380-433, 436-439.
Invoking the people's right to be informed on matters of public
concern, a right recognized in Section 6, Article IV of the 1973 The respondents, through the Solicitor General, would have this
Philippine Constitution, 1 as well as the principle that laws to be case dismissed outright on the ground that petitioners have no
valid and enforceable must be published in the Official Gazette legal personality or standing to bring the instant petition. The
or otherwise effectively promulgated, petitioners seek a writ of view is submitted that in the absence of any showing that
mandamus to compel respondent public officials to publish, petitioners are personally and directly affected or prejudiced by
and/or cause the publication in the Official Gazette of various the alleged non-publication of the presidential issuances in
presidential decrees, letters of instructions, general orders, question 2 said petitioners are without the requisite legal
proclamations, executive orders, letter of implementation and personality to institute this mandamus proceeding, they are not
administrative orders. being "aggrieved parties" within the meaning of Section 3, Rule
65 of the Rules of Court, which we quote:
Specifically, the publication of the following presidential
issuances is sought: SEC. 3. Petition for Mandamus.—When any tribunal,
corporation, board or person unlawfully neglects the
performance of an act which the law specifically enjoins
a] Presidential Decrees Nos. 12, 22, 37, 38, 59, 64, 103, as a duty resulting from an office, trust, or station, or
171, 179, 184, 197, 200, 234, 265, 286, 298, 303, 312, unlawfully excludes another from the use a rd enjoyment
324, 325, 326, 337, 355, 358, 359, 360, 361, 368, 404, of a right or office to which such other is entitled, and
406, 415, 427, 429, 445, 447, 473, 486, 491, 503, 504, there is no other plain, speedy and adequate remedy in
521, 528, 551, 566, 573, 574, 594, 599, 644, 658, 661, the ordinary course of law, the person aggrieved thereby
718, 731, 733, 793, 800, 802, 835, 836, 923, 935, 961, may file a verified petition in the proper court alleging the
1017-1030, 1050, 1060-1061, 1085, 1143, 1165, 1166, facts with certainty and praying that judgment be rendered
1242, 1246, 1250, 1278, 1279, 1300, 1644, 1772, 1808, commanding the defendant, immediately or at some other
1810, 1813-1817, 1819-1826, 1829-1840, 1842-1847. specified time, to do the act required to be done to Protect
the rights of the petitioner, and to pay the damages
b] Letter of Instructions Nos.: 10, 39, 49, 72, 107, 108, sustained by the petitioner by reason of the wrongful acts
116, 130, 136, 141, 150, 153, 155, 161, 173, 180, 187, of the defendant.
188, 192, 193, 199, 202, 204, 205, 209, 211-213, 215-
224, 226-228, 231-239, 241-245, 248, 251, 253-261, 263- Upon the other hand, petitioners maintain that since the subject
269, 271-273, 275-283, 285-289, 291, 293, 297-299, 301- of the petition concerns a public right and its object is to compel
303, 309, 312-315, 325, 327, 343, 346, 349, 357, 358, the performance of a public duty, they need not show any
362, 367, 370, 382, 385, 386, 396-397, 405, 438-440, specific interest for their petition to be given due course.
444- 445, 473, 486, 488, 498, 501, 399, 527, 561, 576,
587, 594, 599, 600, 602, 609, 610, 611, 612, 615, 641,
642, 665, 702, 712-713, 726, 837-839, 878-879, 881, 882, The issue posed is not one of first impression. As early as the
939-940, 964,997,1149-1178,1180-1278. 1910 case of Severino vs. Governor General, 3 this Court held
that while the general rule is that "a writ of mandamus would be
granted to a private individual only in those cases where he has
c] General Orders Nos.: 14, 52, 58, 59, 60, 62, 63, 64 & some private or particular interest to be subserved, or some
65. particular right to be protected, independent of that which he
holds with the public at large," and "it is for the public officers
d] Proclamation Nos.: 1126, 1144, 1147, 1151, 1196, exclusively to apply for the writ when public rights are to be
1270, 1281, 1319-1526, 1529, 1532, 1535, 1538, 1540- subserved [Mithchell vs. Boardmen, 79 M.e., 469],"
1547, 1550-1558, 1561-1588, 1590-1595, 1594-1600, nevertheless, "when the question is one of public right and the
1606-1609, 1612-1628, 1630-1649, 1694-1695, 1697- object of the mandamus is to procure the enforcement of a
1701, 1705-1723, 1731-1734, 1737-1742, 1744, 1746- public duty, the people are regarded as the real party in interest
1751, 1752, 1754, 1762, 1764-1787, 1789-1795, 1797, and the relator at whose instigation the proceedings are
1800, 1802-1804, 1806-1807, 1812-1814, 1816, 1825- instituted need not show that he has any legal or special interest
1826, 1829, 1831-1832, 1835-1836, 1839-1840, 1843- in the result, it being sufficient to show that he is a citizen and as
1844, 1846-1847, 1849, 1853-1858, 1860, 1866, 1868, such interested in the execution of the laws [High, Extraordinary
1870, 1876-1889, 1892, 1900, 1918, 1923, 1933, 1952, Legal Remedies, 3rd ed., sec. 431].
1963, 1965-1966, 1968-1984, 1986-2028, 2030-2044,
2046-2145, 2147-2161, 2163-2244. Thus, in said case, this Court recognized the relator Lope
Severino, a private individual, as a proper party to the
e] Executive Orders Nos.: 411, 413, 414, 427, 429-454, mandamus proceedings brought to compel the Governor
457- 471, 474-492, 494-507, 509-510, 522, 524-528, 531- General to call a special election for the position of municipal
532, 536, 538, 543-544, 549, 551-553, 560, 563, 567-568, president in the town of Silay, Negros Occidental. Speaking for
570, 574, 593, 594, 598-604, 609, 611- 647, 649-677, this Court, Mr. Justice Grant T. Trent said:
679-703, 705-707, 712-786, 788-852, 854-857.
2

We are therefore of the opinion that the weight of Section 1. There shall be published in the Official Gazette
authority supports the proposition that the relator is a [1] all important legisiative acts and resolutions of a public
proper party to proceedings of this character when a nature of the, Congress of the Philippines; [2] all
public right is sought to be enforced. If the general rule in executive and administrative orders and proclamations,
America were otherwise, we think that it would not be except such as have no general applicability; [3] decisions
applicable to the case at bar for the reason 'that it is or abstracts of decisions of the Supreme Court and the
always dangerous to apply a general rule to a particular Court of Appeals as may be deemed by said courts of
case without keeping in mind the reason for the rule, sufficient importance to be so published; [4] such
because, if under the particular circumstances the documents or classes of documents as may be required
reason for the rule does not exist, the rule itself is not so to be published by law; and [5] such documents or
applicable and reliance upon the rule may well lead to classes of documents as the President of the Philippines
error' shall determine from time to time to have general
applicability and legal effect, or which he may authorize
No reason exists in the case at bar for applying the so to be published. ...
general rule insisted upon by counsel for the respondent.
The circumstances which surround this case are The clear object of the above-quoted provision is to give the
different from those in the United States, inasmuch as if general public adequate notice of the various laws which are to
the relator is not a proper party to these proceedings no regulate their actions and conduct as citizens. Without such
other person could be, as we have seen that it is not the notice and publication, there would be no basis for the
duty of the law officer of the Government to appear and application of the maxim "ignorantia legis non excusat." It would
represent the people in cases of this character. be the height of injustice to punish or otherwise burden a citizen
for the transgression of a law of which he had no notice
The reasons given by the Court in recognizing a private citizen's whatsoever, not even a constructive one.
legal personality in the aforementioned case apply squarely to
the present petition. Clearly, the right sought to be enforced by Perhaps at no time since the establishment of the Philippine
petitioners herein is a public right recognized by no less than the Republic has the publication of laws taken so vital significance
fundamental law of the land. If petitioners were not allowed to that at this time when the people have bestowed upon the
institute this proceeding, it would indeed be difficult to conceive President a power heretofore enjoyed solely by the legislature.
of any other person to initiate the same, considering that the While the people are kept abreast by the mass media of the
Solicitor General, the government officer generally empowered debates and deliberations in the Batasan Pambansa—and for
to represent the people, has entered his appearance for the diligent ones, ready access to the legislative records—no
respondents in this case. such publicity accompanies the law-making process of the
President. Thus, without publication, the people have no means
Respondents further contend that publication in the Official of knowing what presidential decrees have actually been
Gazette is not a sine qua non requirement for the effectivity of promulgated, much less a definite way of informing themselves
laws where the laws themselves provide for their own effectivity of the specific contents and texts of such decrees. As the
dates. It is thus submitted that since the presidential issuances in Supreme Court of Spain ruled: "Bajo la denominacion generica
question contain special provisions as to the date they are to de leyes, se comprenden tambien los reglamentos, Reales
take effect, publication in the Official Gazette is not decretos, Instrucciones, Circulares y Reales ordines dictadas de
indispensable for their effectivity. The point stressed is anchored conformidad con las mismas por el Gobierno en uso de su
on Article 2 of the Civil Code: potestad. 5

Art. 2. Laws shall take effect after fifteen days following The very first clause of Section I of Commonwealth Act 638
the completion of their publication in the Official Gazette, reads: "There shall be published in the Official Gazette ... ." The
unless it is otherwise provided, ... word "shall" used therein imposes upon respondent officials an
imperative duty. That duty must be enforced if the Constitutional
right of the people to be informed on matters of public concern is
The interpretation given by respondent is in accord with this to be given substance and reality. The law itself makes a list of
Court's construction of said article. In a long line of what should be published in the Official Gazette. Such listing, to
decisions, 4 this Court has ruled that publication in the Official our mind, leaves respondents with no discretion whatsoever as
Gazette is necessary in those cases where the legislation itself to what must be included or excluded from such publication.
does not provide for its effectivity date-for then the date of
publication is material for determining its date of effectivity, which
is the fifteenth day following its publication-but not when the law The publication of all presidential issuances "of a public nature"
itself provides for the date when it goes into effect. or "of general applicability" is mandated by law. Obviously,
presidential decrees that provide for fines, forfeitures or penalties
for their violation or otherwise impose a burden for the people,
Respondents' argument, however, is logically correct only such as tax and revenue measures, fall within this category.
insofar as it equates the effectivity of laws with the fact of Other presidential issuances which apply only to particular
publication. Considered in the light of other statutes applicable to persons or class of persons such as administrative and
the issue at hand, the conclusion is easily reached that said executive orders need not be published on the assumption that
Article 2 does not preclude the requirement of publication in the they have been circularized to all concerned. 6
Official Gazette, even if the law itself provides for the date of its
effectivity. Thus, Section 1 of Commonwealth Act 638 provides
as follows: It is needless to add that the publication of presidential
issuances "of a public nature" or "of general applicability" is a
3

requirement of due process. It is a rule of law that before a From the report submitted to the Court by the Clerk of Court, it
person may be bound by law, he must first be officially and appears that of the presidential decrees sought by petitioners to
specifically informed of its contents. As Justice Claudio be published in the Official Gazette, only Presidential Decrees
Teehankee said in Peralta vs. COMELEC 7: Nos. 1019 to 1030, inclusive, 1278, and 1937 to 1939, inclusive,
have not been so published. 10 Neither the subject matters nor
In a time of proliferating decrees, orders and letters of the texts of these PDs can be ascertained since no copies
instructions which all form part of the law of the land, the thereof are available. But whatever their subject matter may be,
requirement of due process and the Rule of Law demand it is undisputed that none of these unpublished PDs has ever
that the Official Gazette as the official government been implemented or enforced by the government. In Pesigan
repository promulgate and publish the texts of all such vs. Angeles, 11 the Court, through Justice Ramon Aquino, ruled
decrees, orders and instructions so that the people may that "publication is necessary to apprise the public of the
know where to obtain their official and specific contents. contents of [penal] regulations and make the said penalties
binding on the persons affected thereby. " The cogency of this
holding is apparently recognized by respondent officials
The Court therefore declares that presidential issuances of considering the manifestation in their comment that "the
general application, which have not been published, shall have government, as a matter of policy, refrains from prosecuting
no force and effect. Some members of the Court, quite violations of criminal laws until the same shall have been
apprehensive about the possible unsettling effect this decision published in the Official Gazette or in some other publication,
might have on acts done in reliance of the validity of those even though some criminal laws provide that they shall take
presidential decrees which were published only during the effect immediately.
pendency of this petition, have put the question as to whether
the Court's declaration of invalidity apply to P.D.s which had
been enforced or implemented prior to their publication. The WHEREFORE, the Court hereby orders respondents to publish
answer is all too familiar. In similar situations in the past this in the Official Gazette all unpublished presidential issuances
Court had taken the pragmatic and realistic course set forth which are of general application, and unless so published, they
in Chicot County Drainage District vs. Baxter Bank 8 to wit: shall have no binding force and effect.

The courts below have proceeded on the theory that the SO ORDERED.
Act of Congress, having been found to be
unconstitutional, was not a law; that it was inoperative, G.R. No. 80718 January 29, 1988
conferring no rights and imposing no duties, and hence
affording no basis for the challenged decree. Norton v. FELIZA P. DE ROY, vs. COURT OF APPEALS
Shelby County, 118 U.S. 425, 442; Chicago, 1. & L. Ry.
Co. v. Hackett, 228 U.S. 559, 566. It is quite clear,
however, that such broad statements as to the effect of a CORTES, J.:
determination of unconstitutionality must be taken with
qualifications. The actual existence of a statute, prior to This special civil action for certiorari seeks to declare null and
such a determination, is an operative fact and may have void two (2) resolutions of the Special First Division of the Court
consequences which cannot justly be ignored. The past of Appeals in the case of Luis Bernal, Sr., et al. v. Felisa
cannot always be erased by a new judicial declaration. Perdosa De Roy, et al., CA-G.R. CV No. 07286. The first
The effect of the subsequent ruling as to invalidity may resolution promulgated on 30 September 1987 denied
have to be considered in various aspects-with respect to petitioners' motion for extension of time to file a motion for
particular conduct, private and official. Questions of rights reconsideration and directed entry of judgment since the
claimed to have become vested, of status, of prior decision in said case had become final; and the second
determinations deemed to have finality and acted upon Resolution dated 27 October 1987 denied petitioners' motion for
accordingly, of public policy in the light of the nature both reconsideration for having been filed out of time.
of the statute and of its previous application, demand
examination. These questions are among the most At the outset, this Court could have denied the petition outright
difficult of those which have engaged the attention of for not being verified as required by Rule 65 section 1 of the
courts, state and federal and it is manifest from numerous Rules of Court. However, even if the instant petition did not
decisions that an all-inclusive statement of a principle of suffer from this defect, this Court, on procedural and substantive
absolute retroactive invalidity cannot be justified. grounds, would still resolve to deny it.

Consistently with the above principle, this Court in Rutter vs. The facts of the case are undisputed. The firewall of a burned-
Esteban 9 sustained the right of a party under the Moratorium out building owned by petitioners collapsed and destroyed the
Law, albeit said right had accrued in his favor before said law tailoring shop occupied by the family of private respondents,
was declared unconstitutional by this Court. resulting in injuries to private respondents and the death of
Marissa Bernal, a daughter. Private respondents had been
Similarly, the implementation/enforcement of presidential warned by petitioners to vacate their shop in view of its proximity
decrees prior to their publication in the Official Gazette is "an to the weakened wall but the former failed to do so. On the basis
operative fact which may have consequences which cannot be of the foregoing facts, the Regional Trial Court. First Judicial
justly ignored. The past cannot always be erased by a new Region, Branch XXXVIII, presided by the Hon. Antonio M. Belen,
judicial declaration ... that an all-inclusive statement of a principle rendered judgment finding petitioners guilty of gross negligence
of absolute retroactive invalidity cannot be justified." and awarding damages to private respondents. On appeal, the
decision of the trial court was affirmed in toto by the Court of
4

Appeals in a decision promulgated on August 17, 1987, a copy counsel regarding said rule for their failure to file a motion for
of which was received by petitioners on August 25, 1987. On reconsideration within the reglementary period.
September 9, 1987, the last day of the fifteen-day period to file
an appeal, petitioners filed a motion for extension of time to file a Petitioners contend that the rule enunciated in
motion for reconsideration, which was eventually denied by the the Habaluyas case should not be made to apply to the case at
appellate court in the Resolution of September 30, 1987. bar owing to the non-publication of the Habaluyas decision in the
Petitioners filed their motion for reconsideration on September Official Gazette as of the time the subject decision of the Court
24, 1987 but this was denied in the Resolution of October 27, of Appeals was promulgated. Contrary to petitioners' view, there
1987. is no law requiring the publication of Supreme Court decisions in
the Official Gazette before they can be binding and as a
This Court finds that the Court of Appeals did not commit a grave condition to their becoming effective. It is the bounden duty of
abuse of discretion when it denied petitioners' motion for counsel as lawyer in active law practice to keep abreast of
extension of time to file a motion for reconsideration, directed decisions of the Supreme Court particularly where issues have
entry of judgment and denied their motion for reconsideration. It been clarified, consistently reiterated, and published in the
correctly applied the rule laid down in Habaluyas Enterprises, advance reports of Supreme Court decisions (G. R. s) and in
Inc. v. Japzon, [G.R. No. 70895, August 5, 1985,138 SCRA 461, such publications as the Supreme Court Reports Annotated
that the fifteen-day period for appealing or for filing a motion for (SCRA) and law journals.
reconsideration cannot be extended. In its Resolution denying
the motion for reconsideration, promulgated on July 30, 1986 This Court likewise finds that the Court of Appeals committed no
(142 SCRA 208), this Court en banc restated and clarified the grave abuse of discretion in affirming the trial court's decision
rule, to wit: holding petitioner liable under Article 2190 of the Civil Code,
which provides that "the proprietor of a building or structure is
Beginning one month after the promulgation of this Resolution, responsible for the damage resulting from its total or partial
the rule shall be strictly enforced that no motion for extension of collapse, if it should be due to the lack of necessary repairs.
time to file a motion for reconsideration may be filed with the
Metropolitan or Municipal Trial Courts, the Regional Trial Courts, Nor was there error in rejecting petitioners argument that private
and the Intermediate Appellate Court. Such a motion may be respondents had the "last clear chance" to avoid the accident if
filed only in cases pending with the Supreme Court as the court only they heeded the. warning to vacate the tailoring shop and ,
of last resort, which may in its sound discretion either grant or therefore, petitioners prior negligence should be disregarded,
deny the extension requested. (at p. 212) since the doctrine of "last clear chance," which has been applied
to vehicular accidents, is inapplicable to this case.
Lacsamana v. Second Special Cases Division of the
intermediate Appellate Court, [G.R. No. 73146-53, August 26, WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Court Resolved to
1986, 143 SCRA 643], reiterated the rule and went further to DENY the instant petition for lack of merit.
restate and clarify the modes and periods of appeal.
ARTICLE 4
Bacaya v. Intermediate Appellate Court, [G.R. No. 74824, Sept.
15, 1986,144 SCRA 161],stressed the prospective application of
said rule, and explained the operation of the grace period, to wit: A.M. No. MTJ-92-706 March 29, 1995

In other words, there is a one-month grace period from LUPO ALMODIEL ATIENZA, complainant,
the promulgation on May 30, 1986 of the Court's vs.
Resolution in the clarificatory Habaluyas case, or up to JUDGE FRANCISCO F. BRILLANTES, JR.,
June 30, 1986, within which the rule barring extensions of
time to file motions for new trial or reconsideration is, as This is a complaint by Lupo A. Atienza for Gross Immorality and
yet, not strictly enforceable. Appearance of Impropriety against Judge Francisco Brillantes,
Jr., Presiding Judge of the Metropolitan Trial Court, Branch 20,
Since petitioners herein filed their motion for extension on Manila.
February 27, 1986, it is still within the grace period, which
expired on June 30, 1986, and may still be allowed. Complainant alleges that he has two children with Yolanda De
Castro, who are living together at No. 34 Galaxy Street, Bel-Air
This grace period was also applied in Mission v. Intermediate Subdivision, Makati, Metro Manila. He stays in said house, which
Appellate Court [G.R. No. 73669, October 28, 1986, 145 SCRA he purchased in 1987, whenever he is in Manila.
306].]
In December 1991, upon opening the door to his bedroom, he
In the instant case, however, petitioners' motion for extension of saw respondent sleeping on his (complainant's) bed. Upon
time was filed on September 9, 1987, more than a year after the inquiry, he was told by the houseboy that respondent had been
expiration of the grace period on June 30, 1986. Hence, it is no cohabiting with De Castro. Complainant did not bother to wake
longer within the coverage of the grace period. Considering the up respondent and instead left the house after giving instructions
length of time from the expiration of the grace period to the to his houseboy to take care of his children.
promulgation of the decision of the Court of Appeals on August
25, 1987, petitioners cannot seek refuge in the ignorance of their Thereafter, respondent prevented him from visiting his children
and even alienated the affection of his children for him.
5

Complainant claims that respondent is married to one Zenaida not violative of any right of a person who may feel that he is
Ongkiko with whom he has five children, as appearing in his adversely affected (Gregorio v. Court of Appeals, 26 SCRA 229
1986 and 1991 sworn statements of assets and liabilities. [1968]). The reason is that as a general rule no vested right may
Furthermore, he alleges that respondent caused his arrest on attach to, nor arise from, procedural laws (Billones v. Court of
January 13, 1992, after he had a heated argument with De Industrial Relations, 14 SCRA 674 [1965]).
Castro inside the latter's office.
Respondent is the last person allowed to invoke good faith. He
For his part, respondent alleges that complainant was not made a mockery of the institution of marriage and employed
married to De Castro and that the filing of the administrative deceit to be able to cohabit with a woman, who beget him five
action was related to complainant's claim on the Bel-Air children.
residence, which was disputed by De Castro.
Respondent passed the Bar examinations in 1962 and was
Respondent denies that he caused complainant's arrest and admitted to the practice of law in 1963. At the time he went
claims that he was even a witness to the withdrawal of the through the two marriage ceremonies with Ongkiko, he was
complaint for Grave Slander filed by De Castro against already a lawyer. Yet, he never secured any marriage license.
complainant. According to him, it was the sister of De Castro Any law student would know that a marriage license is
who called the police to arrest complainant. necessary before one can get married. Respondent was given
an opportunity to correct the flaw in his first marriage when he
Respondent also denies having been married to Ongkiko, and Ongkiko were married for the second time. His failure to
although he admits having five children with her. He alleges that secure a marriage license on these two occasions betrays his
while he and Ongkiko went through a marriage ceremony before sinister motives and bad faith.
a Nueva Ecija town mayor on April 25, 1965, the same was not a
valid marriage for lack of a marriage license. Upon the request of It is evident that respondent failed to meet the standard of moral
the parents of Ongkiko, respondent went through another fitness for membership in the legal profession.
marriage ceremony with her in Manila on June 5, 1965. Again,
neither party applied for a marriage license. Ongkiko abandoned While the deceit employed by respondent existed prior to his
respondent 17 years ago, leaving their children to his care and appointment as a Metropolitan Trial Judge, his immoral and
custody as a single parent. illegal act of cohabiting with De Castro began and continued
when he was already in the judiciary.
Respondent claims that when he married De Castro in civil rites
in Los Angeles, California on December 4, 1991, he believed, in The Code of Judicial Ethics mandates that the conduct of a
all good faith and for all legal intents and purposes, that he was judge must be free of a whiff of impropriety, not only with respect
single because his first marriage was solemnized without a to his performance of his judicial duties but also as to his
license. behavior as a private individual. There is no duality of morality. A
public figure is also judged by his private life. A judge, in order to
Under the Family Code, there must be a judicial declaration of promote public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the
the nullity of a previous marriage before a party thereto can enter judiciary, must behave with propriety at all times, in the
into a second marriage. Article 40 of said Code provides: performance of his judicial duties and in his everyday life. These
are judicial guideposts too self-evident to be overlooked. No
The absolute nullity of a previous marriage position exacts a greater demand on moral righteousness and
may be invoked for the purposes of remarriage uprightness of an individual than a seat in the judiciary (Imbing v.
on the basis solely of a final judgment Tiongzon, 229 SCRA 690 [1994]).
declaring such previous marriage void.
WHEREFORE, respondent is DISMISSED from the service with
Respondent argues that the provision of Article 40 of the Family forfeiture of all leave and retirement benefits and with prejudice
Code does not apply to him considering that his first marriage to reappointment in any branch, instrumentality, or agency of the
took place in 1965 and was governed by the Civil Code of the government, including government-owned and controlled
Philippines; while the second marriage took place in 1991 and corporations. This decision is immediately executory.
governed by the Family Code.
SO ORDERED.
Article 40 is applicable to remarriages entered into after the
effectivity of the Family Code on August 3, 1988 regardless of G.R. No. 179922 December 16, 2008
the date of the first marriage. Besides, under Article 256 of the
Family Code, said Article is given "retroactive effect insofar as it JUAN DE DIOS CARLOS, petitioner,
does not prejudice or impair vested or acquired rights in vs.
accordance with the Civil Code or other laws." This is particularly FELICIDAD SANDOVAL,
true with Article 40, which is a rule of procedure. Respondent
has not shown any vested right that was impaired by the
application of Article 40 to his case. ONLY a spouse can initiate an action to sever the marital bond
for marriages solemnized during the effectivity of the Family
Code, except cases commenced prior to March 15, 2003. The
The fact that procedural statutes may somehow affect the nullity and annulment of a marriage cannot be declared in a
litigants' rights may not preclude their retroactive application to
pending actions. The retroactive application of procedural laws is
6

judgment on the pleadings, summary judgment, or confession of plan x x x containing an area of ONE THUSAND AND
judgment. SEVENTY-SIX (1,076) SQUARE METERS.

We pronounce these principles as We review on certiorari the PARCEL No. 5


Decision1 of the Court of Appeals (CA) which reversed and set
aside the summary judgment2 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) PARCELA DE TERRENO No. 50, Manzana No. 18, de
in an action for declaration of nullity of marriage, status of a la subd. de Solocan. Linda por el NW, con la parcela
child, recovery of property, reconveyance, sum of money, and 49; por el NE, con la parcela 36; por el SE, con la
damages. parcela 51; y por el SW, con la calle Dos Castillas.
Partiendo de un punto marcado 1 en el plano, el cual
The Facts se halla a S. gds. 01'W, 72.50 mts. Desde el punto 1 de
esta manzana, que es un mojon de concreto de la
The events that led to the institution of the instant suitare Ciudad de Manila, situado on el esquina E. que forman
unveiled as follows: las Calles Laong Laan y Dos. Castillas, continiendo un
extension superficial de CIENTO CINCUENTA (150)
METROS CUADRADOS.
Spouses Felix B. Carlos and Felipa Elemia died intestate. They
left six parcels of land to their compulsory heirs, Teofilo Carlos
and petitioner Juan De Dios Carlos. The lots are particularly PARCEL No. 6
described as follows:
PARCELA DE TERRENO No. 51, Manzana No. 18, de
Parcel No. 1 la subd. De Solocon. Linda por el NW, con la parcela
50; por el NE, con la parcela 37; por el SE, con la
parcela 52; por el SW, con la Calle Dos Castillas.
Lot No. 162 of the MUNTINLUPA ESTATE Partiendo de un punto Marcado 1 en el plano, el cual
SUBDIVISION, Case No. 6137 of the Court of Land se halla at S. 43 gds. 01'E, 82.50 mts. Desde el punto 1
Registration. de esta manzana, que es un mojon de concreto de la
Ciudad de Manila, situado on el esquina E. que forman
Exemption from the provisions of Article 567 of the Civil las Calles Laong Laan y Dos. Castillas, continiendo una
Code is specifically reserved. extension superficial de CIENTO CINCUENTA (150)
METROS CUADRADOS.3
Area: 1 hectare, 06 ares, 07 centares.
During the lifetime of Felix Carlos, he agreed to transfer his
Parcel No. 2 estate to Teofilo. The agreement was made in order to avoid the
payment of inheritance taxes. Teofilo, in turn, undertook to
deliver and turn over the share of the other legal heir, petitioner
A parcel of land (Lot No. 159-B), being a portion of Lot Juan De Dios Carlos.
159, situated in the Bo. of Alabang, Municipality of
Muntinlupa, Province of Rizal, x x x containing an area
of Thirteen Thousand Four Hundred Forty One (13,441) Eventually, the first three (3) parcels of land were transferred
square meters. and registered in the name of Teofilo. These three (3) lots are
now covered by Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. 234824
issued by the Registry of Deeds of Makati City; TCT No. 139061
Parcel No. 3 issued by the Registry of Deeds of Makati City; and TCT No.
139058 issued by the Registry of Deeds of Makati City.
A parcel of land (Lot 159-B-2 of the subd. plan [LRC]
Psd-325903, approved as a non-subd. project), being a Parcel No. 4 was registered in the name of petitioner. The lot is
portion of Lot 159-B [LRC] Psd- Alabang, Mun. of now covered by TCT No. 160401 issued by the Registry of
Muntinlupa, Metro Manila, Island of Luzon. Bounded on Deeds of Makati City.
the NE, points 2 to 4 by Lot 155, Muntinlupa Estate; on
the SE, point 4 to 5 by Lot 159-B-5; on the S, points 5
to 1 by Lot 159-B-3; on the W, points 1 to 2 by Lot 159- On May 13, 1992, Teofilo died intestate. He was survived by
B-1 (Road widening) all of the subd. plan, containing an respondents Felicidad and their son, Teofilo Carlos II (Teofilo II).
area of ONE HUNDRED THIRTY (130) SQ. METERS, Upon Teofilo's death, Parcel Nos. 5 & 6 were registered in the
more or less. name of respondent Felicidad and co-respondent, Teofilo II. The
said two (2) parcels of land are covered by TCT Nos. 219877
and 210878, respectively, issued by the Registry of Deeds of
PARCEL No. 4 Manila.

A parcel of land (Lot 28-C of the subd. plan Psd-13- In 1994, petitioner instituted a suit against respondents before
007090, being a portion of Lot 28, Muntinlupa Estate, the RTC in Muntinlupa City, docketed as Civil Case No. 94-1964.
L.R.C. Rec. No. 6137), situated in the Bo. of Alabang, In the said case, the parties submitted and caused the approval
Mun. of Muntinlupa, Metro Manila. Bounded on the NE, of a partial compromise agreement. Under the compromise, the
along lines 1-2 by Lot 27, Muntinlupa Estate; on the parties acknowledged their respective shares in the proceeds
East & SE, along lines 2 to 6 by Mangangata River; and from the sale of a portion of the first parcel of land. This includes
on the West., along line 6-1, by Lot 28-B of the subd. the remaining 6,691-square-meter portion of said land.
7

On September 17, 1994, the parties executed a deed of the late Teofilo Carlos and respondent Felicidad were
extrajudicial partition, dividing the remaining land of the first designated as parents.
parcel between them.
On January 5, 1996, petitioner opposed the motion for summary
Meanwhile, in a separate case entitled Rillo v. Carlos,4 2,331 judgment on the ground of irregularity of the contract evidencing
square meters of the second parcel of land were adjudicated in the marriage. In the same breath, petitioner lodged his own
favor of plaintiffs Rillo. The remaining 10,000-square meter motion for summary judgment. Petitioner presented a
portion was later divided between petitioner and respondents. certification from the Local Civil Registrar of Calumpit, Bulacan,
certifying that there is no record of birth of respondent Teofilo II.
The division was incorporated in a supplemental compromise
agreement executed on August 17, 1994, with respect to Civil Petitioner also incorporated in the counter-motion for summary
Case No. 94-1964. The parties submitted the supplemental judgment the testimony of respondent Felicidad in another case.
compromise agreement, which was approved accordingly. Said testimony was made in Civil Case No. 89-2384,
entitled Carlos v. Gorospe, before the RTC Branch 255, Las
Petitioner and respondents entered into two more contracts in Piñas. In her testimony, respondent Felicidad narrated that co-
August 1994. Under the contracts, the parties equally divided respondent Teofilo II is her child with Teofilo. 5
between them the third and fourth parcels of land.
Subsequently, the Office of the City Prosecutor of Muntinlupa
In August 1995, petitioner commenced an action, docketed as submitted to the trial court its report and manifestation,
Civil Case No. 95-135, against respondents before the court a discounting the possibility of collusion between the parties.
quo with the following causes of action: (a) declaration of nullity
of marriage; (b) status of a child; (c) recovery of property; (d) RTC and CA Dispositions
reconveyance; and (e) sum of money and damages. The
complaint was raffled to Branch 256 of the RTC in Muntinlupa. On April 8, 1996, the RTC rendered judgment, disposing as
follows:
In his complaint, petitioner asserted that the marriage between
his late brother Teofilo and respondent Felicidad was a nullity in WHEREFORE, premises considered, defendant's
view of the absence of the required marriage license. He (respondent's) Motion for Summary Judgment is hereby
likewise maintained that his deceased brother was neither the denied. Plaintiff's (petitioner's) Counter-Motion for
natural nor the adoptive father of respondent Teofilo Carlos II. Summary Judgment is hereby granted and summary
judgment is hereby rendered in favor of plaintiff as
Petitioner likewise sought the avoidance of the contracts he follows:
entered into with respondent Felicidad with respect to the subject
real properties. He also prayed for the cancellation of the 1. Declaring the marriage between defendant Felicidad
certificates of title issued in the name of respondents. He argued Sandoval and Teofilo Carlos solemnized at Silang,
that the properties covered by such certificates of title, including Cavite on May 14, 1962, evidenced by the Marriage
the sums received by respondents as proceeds, should be Certificate submitted in this case, null and void ab initio
reconveyed to him. for lack of the requisite marriage license;

Finally, petitioner claimed indemnification as and by way of 2. Declaring that the defendant minor, Teofilo S. Carlos
moral and exemplary damages, attorney's fees, litigation II, is not the natural, illegitimate, or legally adopted child
expenses, and costs of suit. of the late Teofilo E. Carlos;

On October 16, 1995, respondents submitted their answer. They 3. Ordering defendant Sandoval to pay and restitute to
denied the material averments of petitioner's complaint. plaintiff the sum of P18,924,800.00 together with the
Respondents contended that the dearth of details regarding the interest thereon at the legal rate from date of filing of
requisite marriage license did not invalidate Felicidad's marriage the instant complaint until fully paid;
to Teofilo. Respondents declared that Teofilo II was the
illegitimate child of the deceased Teofilo Carlos with another
woman. 4. Declaring plaintiff as the sole and exclusive owner of
the parcel of land, less the portion adjudicated to
plaintiffs in Civil Case No. 11975, covered by TCT No.
On the grounds of lack of cause of action and lack of jurisdiction 139061 of the Register of Deeds of Makati City, and
over the subject matter, respondents prayed for the dismissal of ordering said Register of Deeds to cancel said title and
the case before the trial court. They also asked that their to issue another title in the sole name of plaintiff herein;
counterclaims for moral and exemplary damages, as well as
attorney's fees, be granted.
5. Declaring the Contract, Annex "K" of complaint,
between plaintiff and defendant Sandoval null and void,
But before the parties could even proceed to pre-trial, and ordering the Register of Deeds of Makati City to
respondents moved for summary judgment. Attached to the cancel TCT No. 139058 in the name of Teofilo Carlos,
motion was the affidavit of the justice of the peace who and to issue another title in the sole name of plaintiff
solemnized the marriage. Respondents also submitted the herein;
Certificate of Live Birth of respondent Teofilo II. In the certificate,
8

6. Declaring the Contract, Annex M of the complaint, of marriages and that the death of Teofilo Carlos on
between plaintiff and defendant Sandoval null and void; May 13, 1992 had effectively dissolved the marriage
herein impugned. The fact, however, that appellee's
7. Ordering the cancellation of TCT No. 210877 in the own brother and appellant Felicidad Sandoval lived
names of defendant Sandoval and defendant minor together as husband and wife for thirty years and that
Teofilo S. Carlos II and ordering the Register of Deeds the annulment of their marriage is the very means by
of Manila to issue another title in the exclusive name of which the latter is sought to be deprived of her
plaintiff herein; participation in the estate left by the former call for a
closer and more thorough inquiry into the
circumstances surrounding the case. Rather that the
8. Ordering the cancellation of TCT No. 210878 in the summary nature by which the court a quo resolved the
name of defendant Sandoval and defendant Minor issues in the case, the rule is to the effect that the
Teofilo S. Carlos II and ordering the Register of Deeds material facts alleged in the complaint for annulment of
of Manila to issue another title in the sole name of marriage should always be proved. Section 1, Rule 19
plaintiff herein. of the Revised Rules of Court provides:

Let this case be set for hearing for the reception of "Section 1. Judgment on the pleadings. -
plaintiff's evidence on his claim for moral damages, Where an answer fails to tender an issue, or
exemplary damages, attorney's fees, appearance fees, otherwise admits the material allegations of
and litigation expenses on June 7, 1996 at 1:30 o'clock the adverse party's pleading, the court may,
in the afternoon. on motion of that party, direct judgment on
such pleading. But in actions for annulment of
SO ORDERED.6 marriage or for legal separation, the material
facts alleged in the complaint shall always be
Dissatisfied, respondents appealed to the CA. In the appeal, proved." (Underscoring supplied)
respondents argued, inter alia, that the trial court acted without
or in excess of jurisdiction in rendering summary judgment Moreover, even if We were to sustain the applicability of
annulling the marriage of Teofilo, Sr. and Felicidad and in the rules on summary judgment to the case at bench,
declaring Teofilo II as not an illegitimate child of Teofilo, Sr. Our perusal of the record shows that the finding of the
court a quo for appellee would still not be warranted.
On October 15, 2002, the CA reversed and set aside the RTC While it may be readily conceded that a valid marriage
ruling, disposing as follows: license is among the formal requisites of marriage, the
absence of which renders the marriage void ab
initio pursuant to Article 80(3) in relation to Article 58 of
WHEREFORE, the summary judgment appealed from the Civil Code the failure to reflect the serial number of
is REVERSED and SET ASIDE and in lieu thereof, a the marriage license on the marriage contract
new one is entered REMANDING the case to the court evidencing the marriage between Teofilo Carlos and
of origin for further proceedings. appellant Felicidad Sandoval, although irregular, is not
as fatal as appellee represents it to be. Aside from the
SO ORDERED.7 dearth of evidence to the contrary, appellant Felicidad
Sandoval's affirmation of the existence of said marriage
license is corroborated by the following statement in the
The CA opined:
affidavit executed by Godofredo Fojas, then Justice of
the Peace who officiated the impugned marriage, to wit:
We find the rendition of the herein appealed summary
judgment by the court a quo contrary to law and public
"That as far as I could remember, there was a
policy as ensconced in the aforesaid safeguards. The
marriage license issued at Silang, Cavite on
fact that it was appellants who first sought summary
May 14, 1962 as basis of the said marriage
judgment from the trial court, did not justify the grant
contract executed by Teofilo Carlos and
thereof in favor of appellee. Not being an action "to
Felicidad Sandoval, but the number of said
recover upon a claim" or "to obtain a declaratory relief,"
marriage license was inadvertently not placed
the rule on summary judgment apply (sic) to an action
in the marriage contract for the reason that it
to annul a marriage. The mere fact that no genuine
was the Office Clerk who filled up the blanks in
issue was presented and the desire to expedite the
the Marriage Contract who in turn, may have
disposition of the case cannot justify a misinterpretation
overlooked the same."
of the rule. The first paragraph of Article 88 and 101 of
the Civil Code expressly prohibit the rendition of decree
of annulment of a marriage upon a stipulation of facts or Rather than the inferences merely drawn by the trial
a confession of judgment. Yet, the affidavits annexed to court, We are of the considered view that the veracity
the petition for summary judgment practically amount to and credibility of the foregoing statement as well as the
these methods explicitly proscribed by the law. motivations underlying the same should be properly
threshed out in a trial of the case on the merits.
We are not unmindful of appellee's argument that the
foregoing safeguards have traditionally been applied to If the non-presentation of the marriage contract - the
prevent collusion of spouses in the matter of dissolution primary evidence of marriage - is not proof that a
9

marriage did not take place, neither should appellants' 2. That in setting aside and reversing the Summary
non-presentation of the subject marriage license be Judgment and, in lieu thereof, entering another
taken as proof that the same was not procured. The remanding the case to the court of origin for further
burden of proof to show the nullity of the marriage, it proceedings, petitioner most respectfully submits that
must be emphasized, rests upon the plaintiff and any the Court of Appeals committed a serious
doubt should be resolved in favor of the validity of the reversible error in applying Section 1, Rule 19 (now
marriage. Section 1, Rule 34) of the Rules of Court providing for
judgment on the pleadings, instead of Rule 35
Considering that the burden of proof also rests on the governing Summary Judgments;
party who disputes the legitimacy of a particular party,
the same may be said of the trial court's rejection of the 3. That in reversing and setting aside the Summary
relationship between appellant Teofilo Carlos II and his Judgment and, in lieu thereof, entering another
putative father on the basis of the inconsistencies in remanding the case to the court of origin for further
appellant Felicidad Sandoval's statements. Although it proceedings, petitioner most respectfully submits that
had effectively disavowed appellant's prior claims the Court of Appeals committed grave abuse of
regarding the legitimacy of appellant Teofilo Carlos II, discretion, disregarded judicial admissions, made
the averment in the answer that he is the illegitimate findings on ground of speculations, surmises, and
son of appellee's brother, to Our mind, did not conjectures, or otherwise committed misapplications of
altogether foreclose the possibility of the said the laws and misapprehension of the
appellant's illegitimate filiation, his right to prove the facts.9 (Underscoring supplied)
same or, for that matter, his entitlement to inheritance
rights as such. Essentially, the Court is tasked to resolve whether a marriage
may be declared void ab initio through a judgment on the
Without trial on the merits having been conducted in the pleadings or a summary judgment and without the benefit of a
case, We find appellee's bare allegation that appellant trial. But there are other procedural issues, including the capacity
Teofilo Carlos II was merely purchased from an indigent of one who is not a spouse in bringing the action for nullity of
couple by appellant Felicidad Sandoval, on the whole, marriage.
insufficient to support what could well be a minor's total
forfeiture of the rights arising from his putative filiation. Our Ruling
Inconsistent though it may be to her previous
statements, appellant Felicidad Sandoval's declaration
regarding the illegitimate filiation of Teofilo Carlos II is I. The grounds for declaration of absolute nullity of marriage
more credible when considered in the light of the fact must be proved. Neither judgment on the pleadings nor
that, during the last eight years of his life, Teofilo Carlos summary judgment is allowed. So is confession of
allowed said appellant the use of his name and the judgment disallowed.
shelter of his household. The least that the trial court
could have done in the premises was to conduct a trial Petitioner faults the CA in applying Section 1, Rule 1910 of the
on the merits in order to be able to thoroughly resolve Revised Rules of Court, which provides:
the issues pertaining to the filiation of appellant Teofilo
Carlos II.8 SECTION 1. Judgment on the pleadings. - Where an
answer fails to tender an issue, or otherwise admits the
On November 22, 2006, petitioner moved for reconsideration material allegations of the adverse party's pleading, the
and for the inhibition of the ponente, Justice Rebecca De Guia- court may, on motion of that party, direct judgment on
Salvador. The CA denied the twin motions. such pleading. But in actions for annulment of marriage
or for legal separation, the material facts alleged in the
Issues complaint shall always be proved.

In this petition under Rule 45, petitioner hoists the following He argues that the CA should have applied Rule 35 of the Rules
issues: of Court governing summary judgment, instead of the rule on
judgment on the pleadings.
1. That, in reversing and setting aside the Summary
Judgment under the Decision, Annex A hereof, and in Petitioner is misguided. The CA did not limit its finding solely
denying petitioner's Motion for reconsideration under within the provisions of the Rule on judgment on the pleadings.
the Resolution, Annex F hereof, with respect to the In disagreeing with the trial court, the CA likewise considered the
nullity of the impugned marriage, petitioner respectfully provisions on summary judgments, to wit:
submits that the Court of Appeals committed a grave
reversible error in applying Articles 88 and 101 of the Moreover, even if We are to sustain the applicability of
Civil Code, despite the fact that the circumstances of the rules on summary judgment to the case at bench,
this case are different from that contemplated and Our perusal of the record shows that the finding of the
intended by law, or has otherwise decided a question of court a quo for appellee would still not be warranted. x x
substance not theretofore decided by the Supreme x11
Court, or has decided it in a manner probably not in
accord with law or with the applicable decisions of this
Honorable Court;
10

But whether it is based on judgment on the pleadings or the trial on the merits to prevent suppression or
summary judgment, the CA was correct in reversing the fabrication of evidence. (Underscoring supplied)
summary judgment rendered by the trial court. Both the rules on
judgment on the pleadings and summary judgments have no Truly, only the active participation of the public prosecutor or the
place in cases of declaration of absolute nullity of marriage and Solicitor General will ensure that the interest of the State is
even in annulment of marriage. represented and protected in proceedings for declaration of
nullity of marriages by preventing the fabrication or suppression
With the advent of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC, known as "Rule on of evidence.16
Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages and Annulment
of Voidable Marriages," the question on the application of II. A petition for declaration of absolute nullity of void
summary judgments or even judgment on the pleadings in cases marriage may be filed solely by the husband or wife.
of nullity or annulment of marriage has been stamped with Exceptions: (1) Nullity of marriage cases commenced before
clarity. The significant principle laid down by the said Rule, which the effectivity of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC; and (2) Marriages
took effect on March 15, 200312 is found in Section 17, viz.: celebrated during the effectivity of the Civil Code.

SEC. 17. Trial. - (1) The presiding judge shall Under the Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void
personally conduct the trial of the case. No delegation Marriages and Annulment of Voidable Marriages, the petition for
of evidence to a commissioner shall be allowed except declaration of absolute nullity of marriage may not be filed by
as to matters involving property relations of the any party outside of the marriage. The Rule made it exclusively a
spouses. right of the spouses by stating:

(2) The grounds for declaration of absolute nullity or SEC. 2. Petition for declaration of absolute nullity of
annulment of marriage must be proved. No judgment void marriages. -
on the pleadings, summary judgment, or confession of
judgment shall be allowed. (Underscoring supplied)
(a) Who may file. - A petition for declaration of absolute
nullity of void marriage may be filed solely by the
Likewise instructive is the Court's pronouncement in Republic v. husband or the wife. (Underscoring supplied)
Sandiganbayan.13 In that case, We excluded actions for nullity or
annulment of marriage from the application of summary
judgments. Section 2(a) of the Rule makes it the sole right of the husband or
the wife to file a petition for declaration of absolute nullity of void
marriage. The rationale of the Rule is enlightening, viz.:
Prescinding from the foregoing discussion, save for
annulment of marriage or declaration of its nullity or for
legal separation, summary judgment is applicable to all Only an aggrieved or injured spouse may file a petition
kinds of actions.14 (Underscoring supplied) for annulment of voidable marriages or declaration of
absolute nullity of void marriages. Such petition cannot
be filed by compulsory or intestate heirs of the spouses
By issuing said summary judgment, the trial court has divested or by the State. The Committee is of the belief that they
the State of its lawful right and duty to intervene in the case. The do not have a legal right to file the petition. Compulsory
participation of the State is not terminated by the declaration of or intestate heirs have only inchoate rights prior to the
the public prosecutor that no collusion exists between the death of their predecessor, and, hence, can only
parties. The State should have been given the opportunity to question the validity of the marriage of the spouses
present controverting evidence before the judgment was upon the death of a spouse in a proceeding for the
rendered.15 settlement of the estate of the deceased spouse filed in
the regular courts. On the other hand, the concern of
Both the Civil Code and the Family Code ordain that the court the State is to preserve marriage and not to seek its
should order the prosecuting attorney to appear and intervene dissolution.17 (Underscoring supplied)
for the State. It is at this stage when the public prosecutor sees
to it that there is no suppression of evidence. Concomitantly, The new Rule recognizes that the husband and the wife are the
even if there is no suppression of evidence, the public sole architects of a healthy, loving, peaceful marriage. They are
prosecutor has to make sure that the evidence to be presented the only ones who can decide when and how to build the
or laid down before the court is not fabricated. foundations of marriage. The spouses alone are the engineers of
their marital life. They are simultaneously the directors and
To further bolster its role towards the preservation of marriage, actors of their matrimonial true-to-life play. Hence, they alone
the Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages can and should decide when to take a cut, but only in
reiterates the duty of the public prosecutor, viz.: accordance with the grounds allowed by law.

SEC. 13. Effect of failure to appear at the pre-trial. - (a) The innovation incorporated in A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC sets forth
xxx a demarcation line between marriages covered by the Family
Code and those solemnized under the Civil Code. The Rule
(b) x x x If there is no collusion, the court shall require extends only to marriages entered into during the effectivity of
the public prosecutor to intervene for the State during the Family Code which took effect on August 3, 1988.18
11

The advent of the Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Illuminating on this point is Amor-Catalan v. Court of
Marriages marks the beginning of the end of the right of the heirs Appeals,28 where the Court held:
of the deceased spouse to bring a nullity of marriage case
against the surviving spouse. But the Rule never intended to True, under the New Civil Code which is the law in
deprive the compulsory or intestate heirs of their successional force at the time the respondents were married, or even
rights. in the Family Code, there is no specific provision as to
who can file a petition to declare the nullity of marriage;
While A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC declares that a petition for however, only a party who can demonstrate "proper
declaration of absolute nullity of marriage may be filed solely by interest" can file the same. A petition to declare the
the husband or the wife, it does not mean that the compulsory or nullity of marriage, like any other actions, must be
intestate heirs are without any recourse under the law. They can prosecuted or defended in the name of the real party-in-
still protect their successional right, for, as stated in the interest and must be based on a cause of action. Thus,
Rationale of the Rules on Annulment of Voidable Marriages and in Niñal v. Badayog, the Court held that the children
Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages, compulsory or have the personality to file the petition to declare the
intestate heirs can still question the validity of the marriage of the nullity of marriage of their deceased father to their
spouses, not in a proceeding for declaration of nullity but upon stepmother as it affects their successional rights.
the death of a spouse in a proceeding for the settlement of the
estate of the deceased spouse filed in the regular courts. 19 xxxx

It is emphasized, however, that the Rule does not apply to cases In fine, petitioner's personality to file the petition to
already commenced before March 15, 2003 although the declare the nullity of marriage cannot be ascertained
marriage involved is within the coverage of the Family Code. because of the absence of the divorce decree and the
This is so, as the new Rule which became effective on March 15, foreign law allowing it. Hence, a remand of the case to
200320 is prospective in its application. Thus, the Court held the trial court for reception of additional evidence is
in Enrico v. Heirs of Sps. Medinaceli,21 viz.: necessary to determine whether respondent Orlando
was granted a divorce decree and whether the foreign
As has been emphasized, A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC law which granted the same allows or restricts
covers marriages under the Family Code of the remarriage. If it is proved that a valid divorce decree
Philippines, and is prospective in its was obtained and the same did not allow respondent
application.22 (Underscoring supplied) Orlando's remarriage, then the trial court should declare
respondent's marriage as bigamous and void ab
Petitioner commenced the nullity of marriage case against initio but reduced the amount of moral damages
respondent Felicidad in 1995. The marriage in controversy was from P300,000.00 to P50,000.00 and exemplary
celebrated on May 14, 1962. Which law would govern depends damages from P200,000.00 to P25,000.00. On the
upon when the marriage took place.23 contrary, if it is proved that a valid divorce decree was
obtained which allowed Orlando to remarry, then the
trial court must dismiss the instant petition to declare
The marriage having been solemnized prior to the effectivity of nullity of marriage on the ground that petitioner Felicitas
the Family Code, the applicable law is the Civil Code which was Amor-Catalan lacks legal personality to file the
the law in effect at the time of its celebration. 24 But the Civil same.29(Underscoring supplied)
Code is silent as to who may bring an action to declare the
marriage void. Does this mean that any person can bring an
action for the declaration of nullity of marriage? III. The case must be remanded to determine whether or not
petitioner is a real-party-in-interest to seek the declaration
of nullity of the marriage in controversy.
We respond in the negative. The absence of a provision in the
Civil Code cannot be construed as a license for any person to
institute a nullity of marriage case. Such person must appear to In the case at bench, the records reveal that when Teofilo died
be the party who stands to be benefited or injured by the intestate in 1992, his only surviving compulsory heirs are
judgment in the suit, or the party entitled to the avails of the respondent Felicidad and their son, Teofilo II. Under the law on
suit.25 Elsewise stated, plaintiff must be the real party-in-interest. succession, successional rights are transmitted from the moment
For it is basic in procedural law that every action must be of death of the decedent and the compulsory heirs are called to
prosecuted and defended in the name of the real party-in- succeed by operation of law.30
interest.26
Upon Teofilo's death in 1992, all his property, rights and
Interest within the meaning of the rule means material interest or obligations to the extent of the value of the inheritance are
an interest in issue to be affected by the decree or judgment of transmitted to his compulsory heirs. These heirs were
the case, as distinguished from mere curiosity about the respondents Felicidad and Teofilo II, as the surviving spouse
question involved or a mere incidental interest. One having no and child, respectively.
material interest to protect cannot invoke the jurisdiction of the
court as plaintiff in an action. When plaintiff is not the real party- Article 887 of the Civil Code outlined who are compulsory heirs,
in-interest, the case is dismissible on the ground of lack of cause to wit:
of action.27
(1) Legitimate children and descendants, with respect
to their legitimate parents and ascendants;
12

(2) In default of the foregoing, legitimate parents and If Teofilo II is proven to be a legitimate, illegitimate, or legally
ascendants, with respect to their legitimate children and adopted son of Teofilo, then petitioner has no legal personality to
descendants; ask for the nullity of marriage of his deceased brother and
respondent Felicidad. This is based on the ground that he has
(3) The widow or widower; no successional right to be protected, hence, does not have
proper interest. For although the marriage in controversy may be
found to be void from the beginning, still, petitioner would not
(4) Acknowledged natural children, and natural children inherit. This is because the presence of descendant,
by legal fiction; illegitimate,34 or even an adopted child35 excludes the collateral
relatives from inheriting from the decedent.
(5) Other illegitimate children referred to in Article 287
of the Civil Code.31 Thus, the Court finds that a remand of the case for trial on the
merits to determine the validity or nullity of the subject marriage
Clearly, a brother is not among those considered as compulsory is called for. But the RTC is strictly instructed to dismiss the
heirs. But although a collateral relative, such as a brother, does nullity of marriage case for lack of cause of action if it is
not fall within the ambit of a compulsory heir, he still has a right proven by evidence that Teofilo II is a legitimate,
to succeed to the estate. Articles 1001 and 1003 of the New Civil illegitimate, or legally adopted son of Teofilo Carlos, the
Code provide: deceased brother of petitioner.

ART. 1001. Should brothers and sisters or their IV. Remand of the case regarding the question of filiation of
children survive with the widow or widower, the latter respondent Teofilo II is proper and in order. There is a need
shall be entitled to one-half of the inheritance and the to vacate the disposition of the trial court as to the other causes
brothers and sisters or their children to the other half. of action before it.

ART. 1003. If there are no descendants, ascendants, Petitioner did not assign as error or interpose as issue the ruling
illegitimate children, or a surviving spouse, the collateral of the CA on the remand of the case concerning the filiation of
relatives shall succeed to the entire estate of the respondent Teofilo II. This notwithstanding, We should not leave
deceased in accordance with the following articles. the matter hanging in limbo.
(Underscoring supplied)
This Court has the authority to review matters not specifically
Indeed, only the presence of descendants, ascendants or raised or assigned as error by the parties, if their consideration is
illegitimate children excludes collateral relatives from succeeding necessary in arriving at a just resolution of the case.36
to the estate of the decedent. The presence of legitimate,
illegitimate, or adopted child or children of the deceased We agree with the CA that without trial on the merits having
precludes succession by collateral relatives. 32 Conversely, if been conducted in the case, petitioner's bare allegation that
there are no descendants, ascendants, illegitimate children, or a respondent Teofilo II was adopted from an indigent couple is
surviving spouse, the collateral relatives shall succeed to the insufficient to support a total forfeiture of rights arising from his
entire estate of the decedent.33 putative filiation. However, We are not inclined to support its
pronouncement that the declaration of respondent Felicidad as
If respondent Teofilo II is declared and finally proven not to be to the illegitimate filiation of respondent Teofilo II is more
the legitimate, illegitimate, or adopted son of Teofilo, petitioner credible. For the guidance of the appellate court, such
would then have a personality to seek the nullity of marriage of declaration of respondent Felicidad should not be afforded
his deceased brother with respondent Felicidad. This is so, credence. We remind the CA of the guaranty provided by Article
considering that collateral relatives, like a brother and sister, 167 of the Family Code to protect the status of legitimacy of a
acquire successional right over the estate if the decedent dies child, to wit:
without issue and without ascendants in the direct line.
ARTICLE 167. The child shall be considered legitimate
The records reveal that Teofilo was predeceased by his parents. although the mother may have declared against its
He had no other siblings but petitioner. Thus, if Teofilo II is finally legitimacy or may have been sentenced as an
found and proven to be not a legitimate, illegitimate, or adopted adulteress. (Underscoring supplied)
son of Teofilo, petitioner succeeds to the other half of the estate
of his brother, the first half being allotted to the widow pursuant It is stressed that Felicidad's declaration against the legitimate
to Article 1001 of the New Civil Code. This makes petitioner a status of Teofilo II is the very act that is proscribed by Article 167
real-party-interest to seek the declaration of absolute nullity of of the Family Code. The language of the law is unmistakable. An
marriage of his deceased brother with respondent Felicidad. If assertion by the mother against the legitimacy of her child
the subject marriage is found to be void ab initio, petitioner cannot affect the legitimacy of a child born or conceived within a
succeeds to the entire estate. valid marriage.37

It bears stressing, however, that the legal personality of Finally, the disposition of the trial court in favor of petitioner for
petitioner to bring the nullity of marriage case is contingent upon causes of action concerning reconveyance, recovery of property,
the final declaration that Teofilo II is not a legitimate, adopted, or and sum of money must be vacated. This has to be so, as said
illegitimate son of Teofilo. disposition was made on the basis of its finding that the marriage
in controversy was null and void ab initio.
13

WHEREFORE, the appealed Decision is MODIFIED as follows: Later, the MeTC, Branch 25, Manila, dismissed, on demurrer,
the BP Blg. 22 cases in its Order5 dated February 7, 2005 on
1. The case is REMANDED to the Regional Trial Court account of the failure of petitioner to identify the accused
in regard to the action on the status and filiation of respondents in open court. The Order also did not make any
respondent Teofilo Carlos II and the validity or nullity of pronouncement as to the civil liability of accused
marriage between respondent Felicidad Sandoval and respondents.1avvphi1
the late Teofilo Carlos;
On April 26, 2005, petitioner lodged against respondents before
2. If Teofilo Carlos II is proven to be the legitimate, or the RTC, Branch 18, Manila, a complaint6 for collection of a sum
illegitimate, or legally adopted son of the late Teofilo of money with damages (Civil Case No. 05-112452) based on
Carlos, the RTC is the same loaned amount of P600,000.00 covered by the two
strictly INSTRUCTED to DISMISS the action for nullity PBC checks previously subject of the estafa and BP Blg. 22
of marriage for lack of cause of action; cases.

3. The disposition of the RTC in Nos. 1 to 8 of In the assailed Order7 dated January 2, 2006, the RTC, Branch
the fallo of its decision is VACATED AND SET ASIDE. 18, Manila, dismissed the complaint for lack of jurisdiction,
ratiocinating that the civil action to collect the amount
of P600,000.00 with damages was already impliedly instituted in
The Regional Trial Court is ORDERED to conduct trial on the the BP Blg. 22 cases in light of Section 1, paragraph (b) of Rule
merits with dispatch and to give this case priority in its calendar. 111 of the Revised Rules of Court.

No costs. Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration 8 which the court


denied in its Order9 dated June 5, 2006. Hence, this petition,
SO ORDERED. raising the sole legal issue –

G.R. No. 174238 July 7, 2009 Whether or not Section 1 of Rule 111 of the 2000 Rules of
Criminal Procedure and Supreme Court Circular No. 57-97 on
ANITA CHENG, Petitioner, the Rules and Guidelines in the filing and prosecution of criminal
vs. cases under BP Blg. 22 are applicable to the present case where
SPOUSES WILLIAM SY and TESSIE SY, Respondents. the nature of the order dismissing the cases for bouncing checks
against the respondents was [based] on the failure of the
prosecution to identify both the accused (respondents herein)? 10
This is a petition1 for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the
Rules of Court of the Order dated January 2, 20062of the
Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 18, Manila in Civil Case No. Essentially, petitioner argues that since the BP Blg. 22 cases
05-112452 entitled Anita Cheng v. Spouses William Sy and were filed on January 20, 1999, the 2000 Revised Rules on
Tessie Sy. Criminal Procedure promulgated on December 1, 2000 should
not apply, as it must be given only prospective application. She
further contends that that her case falls within the following
The antecedents are as follows— exceptions to the rule that the civil action correspondent to the
criminal action is deemed instituted with the latter—
Petitioner Anita Cheng filed two (2) estafa cases before the RTC,
Branch 7, Manila against respondent spouses William and (1) additional evidence as to the identities of the
Tessie Sy (Criminal Case No. 98-969952 against Tessie Sy and accused is necessary for the resolution of the civil
Criminal Case No. 98-969953 against William Sy) for issuing to aspect of the case;
her Philippine Bank of Commerce (PBC) Check Nos. 171762
and 71860 for P300,000.00 each, in payment of their loan, both
of which were dishonored upon presentment for having been (2) a separate complaint would be just as efficacious as
drawn against a closed account. or even more expedient than a timely remand to the
trial court where the criminal action was decided for
further hearings on the civil aspect of the case;
Meanwhile, based on the same facts, petitioner, on January 20,
1999, filed against respondents two (2) cases for violation of
Batas Pambansa Bilang (BP Blg.) 22 before the Metropolitan (3) the trial court failed to make any pronouncement as
Trial Court (MeTC), Branch 25, Manila (Criminal Case Nos. to the civil liability of the accused amounting to a
341458-59). reservation of the right to have the civil liability litigated
in a separate action;

On March 16, 2004, the RTC, Branch 7, Manila dismissed the


estafa cases for failure of the prosecution to prove the elements (4) the trial court did not declare that the facts from
of the crime. The Order dismissing Criminal Case No. 98-969952 which the civil liability might arise did not exist;
contained no declaration as to the civil liability of Tessie Sy.3 On
the other hand, the Order in Criminal Case No. 98-969953 (5) the civil complaint is based on an obligation ex-
contained a statement, "Hence, if there is any liability of the contractu and not ex-delicto pursuant to Article 3111 of
accused, the same is purely ‘civil,’ not criminal in nature."4 the Civil Code; and
14

(6) the claim for civil liability for damages may be had Upon filing of the joint criminal and civil actions, the offended
under Article 2912 of the Civil Code. party shall pay in full the filing fees based on the amount of the
check involved, which shall be considered as the actual
Petitioner also points out that she was not assisted by any damages claimed. Where the complaint or information also
private prosecutor in the BP Blg. 22 proceedings. seeks to recover liquidated, moral, nominal, temperate or
exemplary damages, the offended party shall pay the filing fees
based on the amounts alleged therein. If the amounts are not so
The rule is that upon the filing of the estafa and BP Blg. 22 cases alleged but any of these damages [is] subsequently awarded by
against respondents, where the petitioner has not made any the court, the filing fees based on the amount awarded shall
waiver, express reservation to litigate separately, or has not constitute a first lien on the judgment.
instituted the corresponding civil action to collect the amount
of P600,000.00 and damages prior to the criminal action, the civil
action is deemed instituted with the criminal cases.13 Where the civil action has been filed separately and trial thereof
has not yet commenced, it may be consolidated with the criminal
action upon application with the court trying the latter case. If the
This rule applies especially with the advent of the 2000 Revised application is granted, the trial of both actions shall proceed in
Rules on Criminal Procedure. Thus, during the pendency of both accordance with section 2 of this Rule governing consolidation of
the estafa and the BP Blg. 22 cases, the action to recover the the civil and criminal actions.
civil liability was impliedly instituted and remained pending
before the respective trial courts. This is consonant with our
ruling in Rodriguez v. Ponferrada14 that the possible single civil Petitioner is in error when she insists that the 2000 Rules on
liability arising from the act of issuing a bouncing check can be Criminal Procedure should not apply because she filed her BP
the subject of both civil actions deemed instituted with the estafa Blg. 22 complaints in 1999. It is now settled that rules of
case and the prosecution for violation of BP Blg. 22, procedure apply even to cases already pending at the time of
simultaneously available to the complaining party, without their promulgation. The fact that procedural statutes may
traversing the prohibition against forum shopping.15Prior to the somehow affect the litigants’ rights does not preclude their
judgment in either the estafa case or the BP Blg. 22 case, retroactive application to pending actions. It is axiomatic that the
petitioner, as the complainant, cannot be deemed to have retroactive application of procedural laws does not violate any
elected either of the civil actions both impliedly instituted in the right of a person who may feel that he is adversely affected, nor
said criminal proceedings to the exclusion of the other. 16 is it constitutionally objectionable. The reason for this is that, as
a general rule, no vested right may attach to, nor arise from,
procedural laws.18
The dismissal of the estafa cases for failure of the prosecution to
prove the elements of the crime beyond reasonable doubt—
where in Criminal Case No. 98-969952 there was no Indeed, under the present revised Rules, the criminal action for
pronouncement as regards the civil liability of the accused and in violation of BP Blg. 22 includes the corresponding civil action to
Criminal Case No. 98-969953 where the trial court declared that recover the amount of the checks. It should be stressed, this
the liability of the accused was only civil in nature—produced the policy is intended to discourage the separate filing of the civil
legal effect of a reservation by the petitioner of her right to litigate action. In fact, the Rules even prohibits the reservation of a
separately the civil action impliedly instituted with the estafa separate civil action, i.e., one can no longer file a separate civil
cases, following Article 29 of the Civil Code.17 case after the criminal complaint is filed in court. The only
instance when separate proceedings are allowed is when the
civil action is filed ahead of the criminal case. Even then, the
However, although this civil action could have been litigated Rules encourages the consolidation of the civil and criminal
separately on account of the dismissal of the estafa cases on cases. Thus, where petitioner’s rights may be fully adjudicated in
reasonable doubt, the petitioner was deemed to have also the proceedings before the court trying the BP Blg. 22 cases,
elected that such civil action be prosecuted together with the BP resort to a separate action to recover civil liability is clearly
Blg. 22 cases in light of the Rodriguez v. Ponferrada ruling. unwarranted on account of res judicata, for failure of petitioner to
appeal the civil aspect of the cases. In view of this special rule
With the dismissal of the BP Blg. 22 cases for failure to establish governing actions for violation of BP Blg. 22, Article 31 of the
the identity of the accused, the question that arises is whether Civil Code is not applicable.19
such dismissal would have the same legal effect as the
dismissed estafa cases. Put differently, may petitioner’s action to Be it remembered that rules governing procedure before the
recover respondents’ civil liability be also allowed to prosper courts, while not cast in stone, are for the speedy, efficient, and
separately after the BP Blg. 22 cases were dismissed? orderly dispensation of justice and should therefore be adhered
to in order to attain this objective.20
Section 1 (b), Rule 111 of the 2000 Revised Rules on Criminal
Procedure states – However, in applying the procedure discussed above, it appears
that petitioner would be left without a remedy to recover from
Section 1. Institution of criminal and civil actions. – respondents the P600,000.00 allegedly loaned from her. This
could prejudice even the petitioner’s Notice of Claim involving
xxx the same amount filed in Special Proceedings No. 98-88390
(Petition for Voluntary Insolvency by Kolin Enterprises, William
Sy and Tessie Sy), which case was reportedly archived for
(b) The criminal action for violation of Batas Pambansa Blg. 22 failure to prosecute the petition for an unreasonable length of
shall be deemed to include the corresponding civil action. No time.21 Expectedly, respondents would raise the same defense
reservation to file such civil action separately shall be allowed. that petitioner had already elected to litigate the civil action to
15

recover the amount of the checks along with the BP Blg. 22 with damages to another. This doctrine simply means that a
cases. person shall not be allowed to profit or enrich himself inequitably
at another’s expense. One condition for invoking this principle of
It is in this light that we find petitioner’s contention that she was unjust enrichment is that the aggrieved party has no other
not assisted by a private prosecutor during the BP Blg. 22 recourse based on contract, quasi-contract, crime, quasi-delict or
proceedings critical. Petitioner indirectly protests that the public any other provision of law.26
prosecutor failed to protect and prosecute her cause when he
failed to have her establish the identities of the accused during Court litigations are primarily designed to search for the truth,
the trial and when he failed to appeal the civil action deemed and a liberal interpretation and application of the rules which will
impliedly instituted with the BP Blg. 22 cases. On this ground, we give the parties the fullest opportunity to adduce proof is the best
agree with petitioner. way to ferret out the truth. The dispensation of justice and
vindication of legitimate grievances should not be barred by
Faced with the dismissal of the BP Blg. 22 cases, petitioner’s technicalities.27 For reasons of substantial justice and equity, as
recourse pursuant to the prevailing rules of procedure would the complement of the legal jurisdiction that seeks to dispense
have been to appeal the civil action to recover the amount justice where courts of law, through the inflexibility of their rules
loaned to respondents corresponding to the bounced checks. and want of power to adapt their judgments to the special
Hence, the said civil action may proceed requiring only a circumstances of cases, are incompetent to do so, 28 we thus
preponderance of evidence on the part of petitioner. Her failure rule, pro hac vice, in favor of petitioner.
to appeal within the reglementary period was tantamount to a
waiver altogether of the remedy to recover the civil liability of WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. Civil Case No. 05-
respondents. However, due to the gross mistake of the 112452 entitled Anita Cheng v. Spouses William Sy and Tessie
prosecutor in the BP Blg. 22 cases, we are constrained to Sy is hereby ordered REINSTATED. No pronouncement as to
digress from this rule. costs.

It is true that clients are bound by the mistakes, negligence and SO ORDERED.
omission of their counsel.22 But this rule admits of exceptions –
(1) where the counsel’s mistake is so great and serious that the G.R. No. 189649 April 20, 2015
client is prejudiced and denied his day in court, or (2) where the
counsel is guilty of gross negligence resulting in the client’s
deprivation of liberty or property without due process of ADORACION CAROLINO vs. GEN. GENEROSO SENGA,
law.23 Tested against these guidelines, we hold that petitioner’s
lot falls within the exceptions. Before us is a petition for review under Rule 45 seeking to
reverse and set aside the Decision1 dated May 25, 2009 of the
It is an oft-repeated exhortation to counsels to be well-informed Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No. 103502 and the
of existing laws and rules and to keep abreast with legal Resolution2 dated September 10, 2009 denying reconsideration
developments, recent enactments and jurisprudence. Unless thereof.
they faithfully comply with such duty, they may not be able to
discharge competently and diligently their obligations as The factual and legal antecedents are as follows:
members of the Bar.24 Further, lawyers in the government
service are expected to be more conscientious in the On December 1, 1976, Jeremias A. Carolino, petitioner's
performance of their duties as they are subject to public scrutiny. husband, Retired3 from the Armed Forces of the Philippines
They are not only members of the Bar but are also public (AFP) with the rank of Colonel under General Order No. 1208
servants who owe utmost fidelity to public service. 25 Apparently, dated November 29, 1976, pursuant to the provisions of
the public prosecutor neglected to equip himself with the Sections 1(A) and 10 of Republic Act (RA) No. 340, 4 as
knowledge of the proper procedure for BP Blg. 22 cases under amended. He started receiving his monthly retirement pay in the
the 2000 Rules on Criminal Procedure such that he failed to amount of P18,315.00 in December 1976 until the same was
appeal the civil action impliedly instituted with the BP Blg. 22 withheld by respondents in March 2005. On June 3, 2005,
cases, the only remaining remedy available to petitioner to be Jeremias wrote a letter5 addressed to the AFP Chief of Staff
able to recover the money she loaned to respondents, upon the asking for the reasons of the withholding of his retirement pay. In
dismissal of the criminal cases on demurrer. By this failure, a letter reply,6 Myrna F. Villaruz, LTC (FS) PA, Pension and
petitioner was denied her day in court to prosecute the Gratuity Officer of the AFP Finance Center, informed Jeremias
respondents for their obligation to pay their loan. that his loss of Filipino citizenship caused the deletion of his
name in the alpha list of the AFP Pensioners’ Payroll effective
Moreover, we take into consideration the trial court’s observation March 5, 2005; and that he could avail of re-entitlement to his
when it dismissed the estafa charge in Criminal Case No. 98- retirement benefits and the restoration of his name in the AFP
969953 that if there was any liability on the part of respondents, Pensioners' Master list Payroll by complying with the
it was civil in nature. Hence, if the loan be proven true, the requirements prescribed under RA No. 9225, or the Dual
inability of petitioner to recover the loaned amount would be Citizenship Act.
tantamount to unjust enrichment of respondents, as they may
now conveniently evade payment of their obligation merely on It appeared that the termination of Jeremias' pension was done
account of a technicality applied against petitioner. pursuant to Disposition Form7 dated October 29, 2004,which
was approved by the Chief of Staff and made effective in
There is unjust enrichment when (1) a person is unjustly January 2005. In the said Disposition Form, the AFP Judge
benefited, and (2) such benefit is derived at the expense of or Advocate General opined that under the provisions of Sections
16

4, 5, and 6 of RA No. 340, retired military personnel are terminate one's retirement benefits; and that PD No. 1638 does
disqualified from receiving pension benefits once incapable to not reduce whatever benefits that any person has already been
render military service as a result of his having sworn allegiance receiving under existing law.
to a foreign country. It was also mentioned that termination of
retirement benefits of pensioner of the AFP could be done Respondents sought reconsideration,12 but the RTC denied the
pursuant to the provisions of Presidential Decree (PD) No. same in an Order13 dated May 25, 2007, the decretal portion of
16388which provides that the name of a retiree who loses his which reads:
Filipino citizenship shall be removed from the retired list and his
retirement benefits terminated upon such loss. It being in
consonance with the policy consideration that all retirement laws WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant Motion for
inconsistent with the provisions of PD No. 1638 are repealed and Reconsideration is hereby DENIED, considering that the
modified accordingly. questioned decision has not yet attained its finality. The Motion
for Execution in the meantime is hereby DENIED.14
On August 24, 2006, Jeremias filed with the Regional Trial Court
(RTC) of Quezon City, a Petition for Mandamus 9against Gen. Aggrieved, respondents elevated the case to the CA. After the
Generoso Senga, as Chief of Staff of the AFP, Brig. Gen. submission of the parties' respective memoranda, the case was
Fernando Zabat, as Chief of the AFP Finance Center, Comm. submitted for decision.
Reynaldo Basilio, as Chief of the AFP- GHQ Management and
Fiscal Office, and Comm. Emilio Marayag, Pension and Gratuity Jeremias died on September 30, 200715 and was substituted by
Management Officer, Pension and Gratuity Management Center, his wife, herein petitioner. On May 25, 2009, the CA granted
AFP Finance Center, seeking reinstatement of his name in the respondents' appeal. The dispositive portion of the CA decision
list of the AFP retired officers, resumption of payment of his reads:
retirement benefits under RA No. 340, and the reimbursement of
all his retirement pay and benefits which accrued from March 5, WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant appeal is
2005 up to the time his name is reinstated and, thereafter, with GRANTED. The appealed decision is REVOKED and SET
claim for damages and attorney's fees. The case was docketed ASIDE.16
as Civil Case No. Q-06-58686, and raffled off to Branch 220.

In so ruling, the CA found that while it is true that Jeremias


On February 26, 2007, the RTC rendered its Decision 10 granting retired in 1976 under the provisions of RA No. 340, as amended,
the petition for mandamus, the dispositive portion of which which does not contain any provision anent cessation or loss of
reads: retirement benefits upon acquiring another citizenship, PD No.
1638, which was signed in 1979, effectively repealed RA No.
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered ordering General 340, as amended. Section 27 of PD No. 1638, which provides
Hermogenes Esperon, Jr., as Chief of Staff of the AFP, Brigadier that the name of a retiree who loses his Filipino citizenship shall
General Fernando Zabat, as the Commanding Officer of the AFP be removed from the retired list and his retirement benefits
Finance Center, Commodore Reynaldo Basilio, as Chief of the terminated upon such loss, was correctly made applicable to
AFP-GHQ Management and Fiscal Office, and Captain Theresa Jeremias' retirement benefits. Logic dictates that since Jeremias
M. Nicdao, as Pension and Gratuity Officer of the Pension and had already renounced his allegiance to the Philippines, he
Gratuity Management Center, or any of their respective cannot now be compelled by the State to render active service
successors and those taking instructions from them as agents or and to render compulsory military service when the need arises.
subordinates, to: The CA found that for the writ of mandamus to lie, it is essential
that Jeremias should have a clear legal right to the thing
a. immediately reinstate the name of petitioner in the list demanded and it must be the imperative duty of respondents to
of retired AFP Officers, and to resume payment of his perform the act required which petitioner failed to show; thus,
retirement benefits under RA 340; and mandamus will not lie.

b. release to [petitioner] all retirement benefits due him Petitioner's motion for reconsideration was denied in a
under RA 340 which accrued to him from March 2005 Resolution dated September 10, 2009.
continuously up to the time his name is reinstated in the
list of AFP retired officers.11 Hence, this petition raising the following:

The RTC found that the issue for resolution is the applicability of RESPONDENT COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED GRAVE
RA No. 340 and PD No. 1638 upon Jeremias' retirement REVERSIBLE ERROR IN RENDERING THE ASSAILED
benefits. It found that he retired as a commissioned officer of the DECISION AND RESOLUTION WHICH SET ASIDE AND
AFP in 1976; thus, RA No. 340 is the law applicable in REVERSED THE 26 FEBRUARY 2007 DECISION OF THE QC
determining his entitlement to his retirement benefits and not PD RTC BECAUSE:
No. 1638 which was issued only in 1979. Article 4 of the Civil
Code provides that "laws shall have no retroactive effect unless PD 1638 should not have been applied and cannot be used
the contrary is provided." PD No. 1638 does not provide for such against petitioner as her husband's retirement and pension were
retroactive application. Also, it could not have been the granted to him by the AFP under RA 340 which was not
intendment of PD No. 1638 to deprive its loyal soldiers of a superseded by PD 1638, a later statute.
monthly pension during their old age especially where, as here,
the right had been vested to them through time. RA No. 340
does not provide that the loss of Filipino citizenship would
17

Petitioner correctly availed of the remedy of mandamus to The afore-quoted provision clearly shows how a retiree's
compel the reinstatement of his pension and benefits from the retirement benefits may be terminated, i.e., when the retiree
AFP under RA 340 as PD 1638 was not applicable to him. refuses to perform active service when called to do so provided
Petitioner contends that her husband's retirement from the active that (1) the retiree resides in the Philippines and (2) is physically
service in 1976 was pursuant to the provisions of RA No. No. fit for service. There is no other requirement found in the law
340 as PD No. 1638 was not yet in existence then, and there which would be the reason for the termination of a retiree's
was nothing in RA No. 340 that disqualifies a retired military retirement benefits. Petitioner's husband was never called to
personnel from receiving retirement benefits after acquiring perform active service and refused to do so, however, his
foreign citizenship. The concept of retirement benefits is such retirement benefit was terminated. The reason for such
that one is entitled to them for services already rendered and not termination was his loss of Filipino citizenship based on Section
for those to be made at a future time. Retirement benefits due 27 of PD No. 1638, to wit:
petitioner's husband under RA No. 340, is an acquired right
which cannot be taken away by a subsequent law. PD No. 1638 Section 27. Military personnel retired under Sections 4, 5, 10, 11
does not expressly provide for its retroactive application. and 12 shall be carried in the retired list of the Armed Forces of
Respondents, being officers of the AFP tasked to implement the the Philippines. The name of a retiree who loses his Filipino
provisions of RA No. 340 have neglected their function citizenship shall be removed from the retired list and his
thereunder by delisting petitioner's husband as a retiree, thus, retirement benefits terminated upon such loss.
mandamus is proper.
We find that the CA erred in applying PD No. 1638 to the
In his Comment, the Solicitor General argues that PD No. 1638 retirement benefits of petitioner's husband.
applies to all military personnel in the service of the AFP whether
active or retired; hence, it applies retroactively to petitioner's
husband. Even when a retiree is no longer in the active service, Firstly, PD No. 1638 was signed by then President Ferdinand
his being a Filipino still makes him a part of the Citizen Armed Marcos on September 10, 1979. Under Article 4 of the Civil
Forces; that whether a military personnel retires under the Code, it is provided that laws shall have no retroactive effect,
provisions of RA No. 340 or under PD No. 1638, he is still in the unless the contrary is provided. It is said that the law looks to the
service of the military and/or the State only that he is retired, future only and has no retroactive effect unless the legislator
thus, they should not be treated differently upon the loss of may have formally given that effect to some legal
Filipino citizenship. He argues when there is an irreconcilable provisions;17 that all statutes are to be construed as having only
conflict between the two laws of different vintages, i.e., RA No. prospective operation, unless the purpose and intention of the
340 and PD No. 1638, the latter enactment prevails. legislature to give them a retrospective effect is expressly
declared or is necessarily implied from the language used; and
that every case of doubt must be resolved against retrospective
The Solicitor General argues that mandamus will not issue to effect.18 These principles also apply to amendments of statutes.
enforce a right to compel compliance with a duty which is
questionable or over which a substantial doubt exists. In this
case, petitioner's husband does not have a well-defined, clear PD No. 1638 does not contain any provision regarding its
and certain legal right to continuously receive retirement benefits retroactive application, nor the same may be implied from its
after becoming an American citizen. Likewise, the AFP does not language. In fact, Section 36 of PD No. 1638 clearly provides
have a clear and imperative duty to grant the said benefits that the decree shall take effect upon its approval. As held in
considering that Section 27 of PD No. 1638 provides that the Parreño v. COA,19 there is no question that PD No. 1638, as
name of a retiree who loses his Filipino citizenship shall be amended, applies prospectively. Since PD No. 1638, as
removed from the retired list and his retirement benefits amended, is about the new system of retirement and separation
terminated upon such loss. from service of military personnel, it should apply to those who
were in the service at the time of its approval.20 Conversely, PD
No. 1638 is not applicable to those who retired before its
Petitioner filed her reply thereto. effectivity in 1979. The rule is familiar that after an act is
amended, the original act continues to be in force with regard to
We find merit in the petition. all rights that had accrued prior to such amendment. 21

Petitioner's husband retired in1976 under RA No. 340. He was Moreover, Section 27 of PD No. 1638 specifically provides for
already receiving his monthly retirement benefit in the amount the retirees to whom the law shall be applied, to wit:
of P18,315.00 since December 1976 until it was terminated in
March 2005. Section 5, RA No. 340 provides: Section 27. Military personnel retired under Sections 4, 5, 10, 11
and 12 shall be carried in the retired list of the Armed Forces of
Sec. 5. Officers and enlisted men placed in the retired list shall the Philippines. The name of a retiree who loses his Filipino
be subject to the rules and articles of war and to trial by court- citizenship shall be removed from the retired list and his
martial for any breach thereof. At any time said officers and retirement benefits terminated upon such loss. (emphasis
enlisted men may be called to active service by the President. supplied)
Refusal on the part of any officer or enlisted man to perform
such services shall terminate his right to further participation in Notably, petitioner's husband did not retire under those above-
the benefits of this Act provided he resides in the Philippines and enumerated Sections of PD No. 1638 as he retired under RA No.
is physically fit for service. Such fitness for service shall be 340.
determined by applicable regulations.
18

Secondly, it has been held that before a right to retirement Section. 35. Except those necessary to give effect to the
benefits or pension vests in an employee, he must have met the provisions of this Decree and to preserve the rights granted to
stated conditions of eligibility with respect to the nature of retired or separated military personnel, all laws, rules and
employment, age, and length of service.22Undeniably, regulations inconsistent with the provisions of this Decree are
petitioner's husband had complied with the conditions of hereby repealed or modified accordingly.
eligibility to retirement benefits as he was then receiving his
retirement benefits on a monthly basis until it was terminated. Section 33 of PD No. 1638 is clear that the law has no intention
Where the employee retires and meets the eligibility to reduce or to revoke whatever retirement benefits being
requirements, he acquires a vested right to the benefits that is enjoyed by a retiree at the time of its passage. Hence, Section
protected by the due process clause.23 It is only upon retirement 35 provides for an exception to what the decree repealed or
that military personnel acquire a vested right to retirement modified, i.e., except those necessary to preserve the rights
benefits.24 Retirees enjoy a protected property interest whenever granted to retired or separated military personnel.
they acquire a right to immediate payment under pre-existing
law.25
We also find that the CA erred in finding that mandamus will not
lie.
In Ayog v. Cusi,26 we expounded the nature of a vested right,
thus:
Section 3, Rule 65 of the Rules of Court lay down under what
circumstances petition for mandamus may be filed, to wit:
"A right is vested when the right to enjoyment has become the
property of some particular person or persons as a present
interest" (16 C.J.S. 1173).1âwphi1 It is "the privilege to enjoy SEC. 3. Petition for mandamus. – When any tribunal,
property legally vested, to enforce contracts, and enjoy the rights corporation, board, officer or person unlawfully neglects the
of property conferred by the existing law" (12 C.J.S. 955, Note performance of an act which the law specifically enjoins as a
46, No. 6) or "some right or interest in property which has duty resulting from an office, trust, or station, or unlawfully
become fixed and established and is no longer open to doubt or excludes another from the use and enjoyment of a right or office
controversy" (Downs vs. Blount 170 Fed. 15, 20, cited in Balboa to which such other is entitled, and there is no other plain,
vs. Farrales, 51 Phil. 498, 502). speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law, the
person aggrieved thereby may file a verified petition in the
proper court, alleging the facts with certainty and praying that
The due process clause prohibits the annihilation of vested judgment be rendered commanding the respondent, immediately
rights. "A state may not impair vested rights by legislative or at some other time to be specified by the court, to do the act
enactment, by the enactment or by the subsequent repeal of a required to be done to protect the rights of the petitioner, and to
municipal ordinance, or by a change in the constitution of the pay the damages sustained by the petitioner by reason of the
State, except in a legitimate exercise of the police power" (16 wrongful acts of the respondent.
C.J.S. 1177-78).
A writ of mandamus can be issued only when petitioner’s legal
It has been observed that, generally, the term "vested right" right to the performance of a particular act which is sought to be
expresses the concept of present fixed interest, which in right compelled is clear and complete. A clear legal right is a right
reason and natural justice should be protected against arbitrary which is indubitably granted by law or is inferable as a matter of
State action, or an innately just and imperative right which an law.29 A doctrine well-embedded in our jurisprudence is that
enlightened free society, sensitive to inherent and irrefragable mandamus will issue only when the petitioner has a clear legal
individual rights, cannot deny (16 C.J.S. 1174, Note 71, No. 5, right to the performance of the act sought to be compelled and
citing Pennsylvania Greyhound Lines, Inc. vs. Rosenthal, 192 the respondent has an imperative duty to perform the
Atl. 2nd 587). 27 same.30 The remedy of mandamus lies to compel the
performance of a ministerial duty.31 A purely ministerial act or
Petitioner's husband acquired vested right to the payment of his duty is one that an officer or tribunal performs in a given state of
retirement benefits which must be respected and cannot be facts, in a prescribed manner, in obedience to the mandate of a
affected by the subsequent enactment of PD No. 1638 which legal authority, without regard to or the exercise of its own
provides that loss of Filipino citizenship terminates retirement judgment upon the propriety or impropriety of the act done. 32 If
benefits. Vested rights include not only legal or equitable title to the law imposes a duty upon a public officer, and gives him the
the enforcement of a demand, but also an exemption from new right to decide how or when the duty shall be performed, such
obligations after the right has vested.28 duty is discretionary and not ministerial.33

In fact, Sections 33 and 35 of PD No.1638 recognize such The petition for mandamus filed by petitioner's husband with the
vested right, to wit: RTC was for the payment of his terminated retirement benefits,
which has become vested, and being a ministerial duty on the
Section 33. Nothing in this Decree shall be construed in any part of the respondents to pay such claim, mandamus is the
manner to reduce whatever retirement and separation pay or proper remedy to compel such payment.
gratuity or other monetary benefits which any person is
heretofore receiving or is entitled to receive under the provisions The doctrine of exhaustion of administrative remedies calls for
of existing law. resort first to the appropriate administrative authorities in the
resolution of a controversy falling under their jurisdiction before
xxxx the same may be elevated to the courts of justice for
review.34 However, the principle of exhaustion of administrative
19

remedies need not be adhered to when the question is purely On June 11, 1997, petitioner filed a complaint 9 with the NLRC
legal.35 This is because issues of law cannot be resolved with which was docketed as NLRC OCW Case No. 6-838-97-L
finality by the administrative officer. 36 Appeal to the praying for an award of disability benefits, share in the insurance
administrative officer would only be an exercise in futility. 37 Here, proceeds, moral damages and attorney’s fees. On September
the question raised is purely legal, i.e., what law should be 29, 1997, Acting Executive Labor Arbiter Voltaire A. Balitaan
applied in the payment of retirement benefits of petitioner's dismissed the complaint on the ground of prescription. Petitioner
husband. Thus, there was no need to exhaust all administrative appealed the decision with the NLRC. On March 31, 1998, the
remedies before a judicial relief can be sought. NLRC promulgated its decision 10 finding the appeal to be
without merit and ordered its dismissal. When the motion for
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The Decision dated reconsideration 11 was denied by the NLRC in its resolution
May 25, 2009 and the Resolution dated September 10, 2009 of dated June 29, 1998, 12 petitioner filed a petition for certiorari
the Court of Appeals are hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. with this Court. On December 2, 1998, we resolved to refer the
The Decision dated February 26, 2007 of the Regional Trial case to the Court of Appeals pursuant to our ruling in St. Martin
Court of Quezon City, Branch 220, is AFFIRMED. Funeral Home v. National Labor Relations Commission. 13

SO ORDERED. On March 30, 2001, the Court of Appeals promulgated the


assailed decision which dismissed the petition for lack of merit.
Petitioner’s motion for reconsideration was denied, hence, the
ARTICLE 6 present petition for review raising the following issues:

G.R. No. 150429 August 29, 2006 I. THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF
DISCRETION AMOUNTING TO LACK OR EXCESS OF
ROBERTO G. FAMANILA, vs. THE COURT OF APPEALS JURISDICTION IN UPHOLDING THE VALIDITY OF THE
RECEIPT AND RELEASE SINCE PETITIONER’S CONSENT
Before us is a petition for review on certiorari assailing the THERETO WAS VITIATED THEREBY MAKING THE SAME
Decision 1 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 50615 VOID AND UNENFORCEABLE.
dated March 30, 2001 which affirmed the Decision 2 of the
National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) dated March 31, II. THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE
1998 dismissing petitioner’s complaint for payment of disability OF DISCRETION AMOUNTING TO LACK OR EXCESS OF
and other benefits for lack of merit and the Resolution 3 dated JURISDICTION IN HOLDING THAT THE PRESCRIPTION
October 5, 2001 of the Court of Appeals denying petitioner’s PERIOD APPLICABLE TO THE CLAIM OF THE PETITIONER
motion for reconsideration. IS THE 3-YEAR PERIOD PROVIDED FOR UNDER THE
LABOR CODE OF THE PHILIPPINES AND NOT THE 10-YEAR
The antecedent facts are as follows: PERIOD PROVIDED FOR UNDER THE CIVIL CODE.

In 1989, respondent NFD International Manning Agents, Inc. Petitioner claims that he did not sign the Receipt and Release
hired the services of petitioner Roberto G. Famanila as voluntarily or freely because he was permanently disabled and in
Messman 4 for Hansa Riga, a vessel registered and owned by its financial constraints. These factors allegedly vitiated his consent
principal and co-respondent, Barbership Management Limited. which makes the Receipt and Release void and unenforceable.

On June 21, 1990, while Hansa Riga was docked at the port of The petition lacks merit.
Eureka, California, U.S.A. and while petitioner was assisting in
the loading operations, the latter complained of a headache. It is fundamental that the scope of the Supreme Court’s judicial
Petitioner experienced dizziness and he subsequently collapsed. review under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court is confined only to
Upon examination, it was determined that he had a sudden errors of law. It does not extend to questions of fact. More so in
attack of left cerebral hemorrhage from a ruptured cerebral labor cases where the doctrine applies with greater force. 14 The
aneurysm. 5 Petitioner underwent a brain operation and he was Labor Arbiter and the NLRC have already determined the factual
confined at the Emmanuel Hospital in Portland, Oregon, U.S.A. issues, and these were affirmed by the Court of Appeals. Thus,
On July 19, 1990, he underwent a second brain operation. they are accorded not only great respect but also finality and are
deemed binding upon this Court so long as they are supported
Owing to petitioner’s physical and mental condition, he was by substantial evidence. 15 We reviewed the records of the case
repatriated to the Philippines. On August 21, 1990, he was and we find no reason to deviate from the findings of the labor
examined at the American Hospital in Intramuros, Manila where arbiter, NLRC and the Court of Appeals.
the examining physician, Dr. Patricia Abesamis declared that he
"cannot go back to sea duty and has been observed for 120 A vitiated consent does not make a contract void and
days, he is being declared permanently, totally disabled." 6 unenforceable. A vitiated consent only gives rise to a voidable
agreement. Under the Civil Code, the vices of consent are
Thereafter, authorized representatives of the respondents mistake, violence, intimidation, undue influence or fraud. 16 If
convinced him to settle his claim amicably by accepting the consent is given through any of the aforementioned vices of
amount of US$13,200. 7 Petitioner accepted the offer as consent, the contract is voidable. 17 A voidable contract is
evidenced by his signature in the Receipt and Release dated binding unless annulled by a proper action in court. 18
February 28, 1991. 8 His wife, Gloria Famanila and one Richard
Famanila, acted as witnesses in the signing of the release.
20

Petitioner contends that his permanent and total disability not named, including but not limited to BARBER SHIP
vitiated his consent to the Receipt and Release thereby MANAGEMENT LIMITED, NFD INTERNATIONAL MANNING
rendering it void and unenforceable. However, disability is not AGENTS, INC. and ASSURANCEFORENIGEN GARD from any
among the factors that may vitiate consent. Besides, save for and all claims, demands, debts, dues, liens, actions or causes of
petitioner’s self-serving allegations, there is no proof on record action, at law or in equity, in common law or in admiralty,
that his consent was vitiated on account of his disability. In the statutory or contractual, arising from and under the laws of the
absence of such proof of vitiated consent, the validity of the United States of America, Norway, Hongkong or the Republic of
Receipt and Release must be upheld. We agree with the findings the Philippines and/or any other foreign country now held, owned
of the Court of Appeals that: or possessed by me or by any person or persons, arising from or
related to or concerning whether directly or indirectly,
In the case at bar, there is nothing in the records to show that proximately or remotely, without being limited to but including the
petitioner’s consent was vitiated when he signed the agreement. said illness suffered by me on board the vessel "HANSA RIGA"
Granting that petitioner has not fully recovered his health at the on or about 21st June 1990 at Portland, Oregon and disability
time he signed the subject document, the same cannot still lead compensation in connection therewith.
to the conclusion that he did not voluntar[il]y accept the
agreement, for his wife and another relative witnessed his This instrument is a GENERAL RELEASE intended to release all
signing. liabilities of any character and/or claims or damages and/or
losses and/or any other liabilities whatsoever, whether
Moreover, the document entitled receipt and release which was contractual or statutory, at common law or in equity, tortious or in
attached by petitioner in his appeal does not show on its face admiralty, now or henceforth in any way related to or occurring
any violation of law or public policy. In fact, petitioner did not as a consequence of the illness suffered by me as Messman of
present any proof to show that the consideration for the same is the vessel "HANSA RIGA", including but not limited to all
not reasonable and acceptable. Absent any evidence to support damages and/or losses consisting of loss of support, loss of
the same, the Court cannot, on its own accord, decide against earning capacity, loss of all benefits of whatsoever nature and
the unreasonableness of the consideration. 19 extent incurred, physical pain and suffering and/or all damages
and/or indemnities claimable in law, tort, contract, common law,
equity and/or admiralty by me or by any person or persons
It is true that quitclaims and waivers are oftentimes frowned pursuant to the laws of the United States of America, Norway,
upon and are considered as ineffective in barring recovery for Hongkong or the Republic of the Philippines and of all other
the full measure of the worker’s right and that acceptance of the countries whatsoever.
benefits therefrom does not amount to estoppel. 20 The reason is
plain. Employer and employee, obviously do not stand on the
same footing. 21However, not all waivers and quitclaims are I hereby certify that I am of legal age and that I fully understand
invalid as against public policy. If the agreement was voluntarily this instrument which was read to me in the local dialect and I
entered into and represents a reasonable settlement, it is binding agree that this is a FULL AND FINAL RELEASE AND
on the parties and may not later be disowned simply because of DISCHARGE of all parties and things referred to herein, and I
change of mind. It is only where there is clear proof that the further agree that this release may be pleaded as an absolute
waiver was wangled from an unsuspecting or gullible person, or and final bar to any suit or suits or legal proceedings that may
the terms of the settlement are unconscionable on its face, that hereafter be prosecuted by me or by any one claiming by,
the law will step in to annul the questionable transaction. But through, or under me, against any of the persons or things
where it is shown that the person making the waiver did so
voluntarily, with full understanding of what he was doing, and the referred to or related herein, for any matter or thing referred to or
consideration for the quitclaim is credible and reasonable, the related herein. 24
transaction must be recognized as a valid and binding
undertaking, 22 as in this case. It is elementary that a contract is perfected by mere consent and
from that moment the parties are bound not only to the fulfillment
To be valid and effective, waivers must be couched in clear and of what has been expressly stipulated but also to all the
unequivocal terms, leaving no doubt as to the intention of those consequences which, according to their nature, may be in
giving up a right or a benefit that legally pertains to them. 23 We keeping with good faith, usage and law. 25 Further, dire necessity
have reviewed the terms and conditions contained in the Receipt is not an acceptable ground for annulling the Receipt and
and Release and we find the same to be clear and Release since it has not been shown that petitioner was forced
unambiguous. The signing was even witnessed by petitioner’s to sign it. 26
wife, Gloria T. Famanila and one Richard T. Famanila. The
Receipt and Release provides in part: Regarding prescription, the applicable prescriptive period for the
money claims against the respondents is the three year period
That for and in consideration of the sum of THIRTEEN pursuant to Article 291 of the Labor Code which provides that:
THOUSAND TWO HUNDRED DOLLARS (US$13,200.00) or its
equivalent in Philippine currency THREE HUNDRED SIXTY ART. 291. Money Claims. – All money claims arising from
FIVE THOUSAND NINE HUNDRED FOUR PESOS employer-employee relations accruing during the effectivity of
(365,904.00), the receipt of which is hereby acknowledged to my this Code shall be filed within three (3) years from the time the
full and complete satisfaction x x x I, ROBERTO G. FAMANILA, cause of action accrued; otherwise they shall be forever barred.
x x x hereby remise, release and forever discharge said vessel
"HANSA RIGA", her Owners, operators, managers, charterers,
agents, underwriters, P and I Club, master, officers, and crew xxxx
and all parties at interest therein or thereon, whether named or
21

Since petitioner’s demand for an award of disability benefits is a The other heirs of Sima Wei filed a Joint Motion to Dismiss 8 on
money claim arising from his employment, Article 291 of the the ground that the certification against forum shopping should
Labor Code applies. From the time petitioner was declared have been signed by private respondents and not their counsel.
permanently and totally disabled on August 21, 1990 which gave They contended that Remedios should have executed the
rise to his entitlement to disability benefits up to the time that he certification on behalf of her minor daughters as mandated by
filed the complaint on June 11, 1997, more than three years Section 5, Rule 7 of the Rules of Court.
have elapsed thereby effectively barring his claim.
In a Manifestation/Motion as Supplement to the Joint Motion to
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The Decision of the Dismiss,9 petitioner and his co-heirs alleged that private
Court of Appeals dated March 30, 2001 in CA-G.R. SP No. respondents' claim had been paid, waived, abandoned or
50615 which affirmed the Decision of the National Labor otherwise extinguished by reason of Remedios' June 7, 1993
Relations Commission dismissing petitioner’s complaint for Release and Waiver of Claim stating that in exchange for the
disability and other benefits for lack of merit, and financial and educational assistance received from petitioner,
Remedios and her minor children discharge the estate of Sima
the Resolution dated October 5, 2001 denying the motion for Wei from any and all liabilities.
reconsideration, are AFFIRMED.
The Regional Trial Court denied the Joint Motion to Dismiss as
SO ORDERED. well as the Supplemental Motion to Dismiss. It ruled that while
the Release and Waiver of Claim was signed by Remedios, it
had not been established that she was the duly constituted
G.R. No. 163707 September 15, 2006 guardian of her minor daughters. Thus, no renunciation of right
occurred. Applying a liberal application of the rules, the trial court
MICHAEL C. GUY, petitioner, vs. HON. COURT OF APPEALS, also rejected petitioner's objections on the certification against
forum shopping.
This petition for review on certiorari assails the January 22, 2004
Decision1 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 79742, Petitioner moved for reconsideration but was denied. He filed a
which affirmed the Orders dated July 21, 2000 2 and July 17, petition for certiorari before the Court of Appeals which affirmed
20033 of the Regional Trial Court of Makati City, Branch 138 in the orders of the Regional Trial Court in its assailed Decision
SP Proc. Case No. 4549 denying petitioner's motion to dismiss; dated January 22, 2004, the dispositive portion of which states:
and its May 25, 2004 Resolution4 denying petitioner's motion for
reconsideration. WHEREFORE, premises considered, the present
petition is hereby DENIED DUE COURSE and
The facts are as follows: accordingly DISMISSED, for lack of merit.
Consequently, the assailed Orders dated July 21, 2000
On June 13, 1997, private respondent-minors Karen Oanes Wei and July 17, 2003 are hereby both AFFIRMED.
and Kamille Oanes Wei, represented by their mother Remedios Respondent Judge is hereby DIRECTED to resolve the
Oanes (Remedios), filed a petition for letters of controversy over the illegitimate filiation of the private
administration5 before the Regional Trial Court of Makati City, respondents (sic) minors [-] Karen Oanes Wei and
Branch 138. The case was docketed as Sp. Proc. No. 4549 and Kamille Oanes Wei who are claiming successional
entitled Intestate Estate of Sima Wei (a.k.a. Rufino Guy Susim). rights in the intestate estate of the deceased Sima Wei,
a.k.a. Rufino Guy Susim.

Private respondents alleged that they are the duly acknowledged


illegitimate children of Sima Wei, who died intestate in Makati SO ORDERED.10
City on October 29, 1992, leaving an estate valued at
P10,000,000.00 consisting of real and personal properties. His The Court of Appeals denied petitioner's motion for
known heirs are his surviving spouse Shirley Guy and children, reconsideration, hence, this petition.
Emy, Jeanne, Cristina, George and Michael, all surnamed Guy.
Private respondents prayed for the appointment of a regular Petitioner argues that the Court of Appeals disregarded existing
administrator for the orderly settlement of Sima Wei's estate. rules on certification against forum shopping; that the Release
They likewise prayed that, in the meantime, petitioner Michael C. and Waiver of Claim executed by Remedios released and
Guy, son of the decedent, be appointed as Special Administrator discharged the Guy family and the estate of Sima Wei from any
of the estate. Attached to private respondents' petition was a claims or liabilities; and that private respondents do not have the
Certification Against Forum Shopping6 signed by their counsel, legal personality to institute the petition for letters of
Atty. Sedfrey A. Ordoñez. administration as they failed to prove their filiation during the
lifetime of Sima Wei in accordance with Article 175 of the Family
In his Comment/Opposition,7 petitioner prayed for the dismissal Code.
of the petition. He asserted that his deceased father left no debts
and that his estate can be settled without securing letters of Private respondents contend that their counsel's certification can
administration pursuant to Section 1, Rule 74 of the Rules of be considered substantial compliance with the rules on
Court. He further argued that private respondents should have certification of non-forum shopping, and that the petition raises
established their status as illegitimate children during the lifetime no new issues to warrant the reversal of the decisions of the
of Sima Wei pursuant to Article 175 of the Family Code. Regional Trial Court and the Court of Appeals.
22

The issues for resolution are: 1) whether private respondents' Parents and guardians may not therefore repudiate the
petition should be dismissed for failure to comply with the rules inheritance of their wards without judicial approval. This is
on certification of non-forum shopping; 2) whether the Release because repudiation amounts to an alienation of
and Waiver of Claim precludes private respondents from property16 which must pass the court's scrutiny in order to
claiming their successional rights; and 3) whether private protect the interest of the ward. Not having been judicially
respondents are barred by prescription from proving their authorized, the Release and Waiver of Claim in the instant case
filiation. is void and will not bar private respondents from asserting their
rights as heirs of the deceased.
The petition lacks merit.
Furthermore, it must be emphasized that waiver is the intentional
Rule 7, Section 5 of the Rules of Court provides that the relinquishment of a known right. Where one lacks knowledge of
certification of non-forum shopping should be executed by the a right, there is no basis upon which waiver of it can rest.
plaintiff or the principal party. Failure to comply with the Ignorance of a material fact negates waiver, and waiver cannot
requirement shall be cause for dismissal of the case. However, a be established by a consent given under a mistake or
liberal application of the rules is proper where the higher interest misapprehension of fact.17
of justice would be served. In Sy Chin v. Court of Appeals,11 we
ruled that while a petition may have been flawed where the In the present case, private respondents could not have possibly
certificate of non-forum shopping was signed only by counsel waived their successional rights because they are yet to prove
and not by the party, this procedural lapse may be overlooked in their status as acknowledged illegitimate children of the
the interest of substantial justice.12 So it is in the present deceased. Petitioner himself has consistently denied that private
controversy where the merits13 of the case and the absence of respondents are his co-heirs. It would thus be inconsistent to
an intention to violate the rules with impunity should be rule that they waived their hereditary rights when petitioner
considered as compelling reasons to temper the strict application claims that they do not have such right. Hence, petitioner's
of the rules. invocation of waiver on the part of private respondents must fail.

As regards Remedios' Release and Waiver of Claim, the same Anent the issue on private respondents' filiation, we agree with
does not bar private respondents from claiming successional the Court of Appeals that a ruling on the same would be
rights. To be valid and effective, a waiver must be couched in premature considering that private respondents have yet to
clear and unequivocal terms which leave no doubt as to the present evidence. Before the Family Code took effect, the
intention of a party to give up a right or benefit which legally governing law on actions for recognition of illegitimate children
pertains to him. A waiver may not be attributed to a person when was Article 285 of the Civil Code, to wit:
its terms do not explicitly and clearly evince an intent to abandon
a right.14 ART. 285. The action for the recognition of natural
children may be brought only during the lifetime of the
In this case, we find that there was no waiver of hereditary rights. presumed parents, except in the following cases:
The Release and Waiver of Claim does not state with clarity the
purpose of its execution. It merely states that Remedios received (1) If the father or mother died during the minority
P300,000.00 and an educational plan for her minor daughters of the child, in which case the latter may file the
"by way of financial assistance and in full settlement of any and action before the expiration of four years from the
all claims of whatsoever nature and kind x x x against the estate attainment of his majority;
of the late Rufino Guy Susim."15 Considering that the document
did not specifically mention private respondents' hereditary share
in the estate of Sima Wei, it cannot be construed as a waiver of (2) If after the death of the father or of the mother a
successional rights. document should appear of which nothing had been
heard and in which either or both parents recognize the
child.
Moreover, even assuming that Remedios truly waived the
hereditary rights of private respondents, such waiver will not bar
the latter's claim. Article 1044 of the Civil Code, provides: In this case, the action must be commenced within four
years from the finding of the document. (Emphasis
supplied)
ART. 1044. Any person having the free disposal of his
property may accept or repudiate an inheritance.
We ruled in Bernabe v. Alejo18 that illegitimate children who were
still minors at the time the Family Code took effect and whose
Any inheritance left to minors or incapacitated putative parent died during their minority are given the right to
persons may be accepted by their parents or seek recognition for a period of up to four years from attaining
guardians. Parents or guardians may repudiate the majority age. This vested right was not impaired or taken away
inheritance left to their wards only by judicial by the passage of the Family Code.19
authorization.

On the other hand, Articles 172, 173 and 175 of the Family
The right to accept an inheritance left to the poor shall Code, which superseded Article 285 of the Civil Code, provide:
belong to the persons designated by the testator to
determine the beneficiaries and distribute the property,
or in their default, to those mentioned in Article 1030. ART. 172. The filiation of legitimate children is
(Emphasis supplied) established by any of the following:
23

(1) The record of birth appearing in the civil register or a recognition and the other to claim inheritance, may be joined in
final judgment; or one complaint is not new in our jurisprudence. 21 As held in Briz
v. Briz:22
(2) An admission of legitimate filiation in a public
document or a private handwritten instrument and The question whether a person in the position of the
signed by the parent concerned. present plaintiff can in any event maintain a complex
action to compel recognition as a natural child and at
In the absence of the foregoing evidence, the legitimate the same time to obtain ulterior relief in the character of
filiation shall be proved by: heir, is one which in the opinion of this court must be
answered in the affirmative, provided always that the
conditions justifying the joinder of the two distinct
(1) The open and continuous possession of the status causes of action are present in the particular case. In
of a legitimate child; or other words, there is no absolute necessity requiring
that the action to compel acknowledgment should have
(2) Any other means allowed by the Rules of Court and been instituted and prosecuted to a successful
special laws. conclusion prior to the action in which that same plaintiff
seeks additional relief in the character of heir. Certainly,
ART. 173. The action to claim legitimacy may be there is nothing so peculiar to the action to compel
brought by the child during his or her lifetime and shall acknowledgment as to require that a rule should be
be transmitted to the heirs should the child die during here applied different from that generally applicable in
minority or in a state of insanity. In these cases, the other cases. x x x
heirs shall have a period of five years within which to
institute the action. The conclusion above stated, though not heretofore
explicitly formulated by this court, is undoubtedly to
The action already commenced by the child shall some extent supported by our prior decisions. Thus, we
survive notwithstanding the death of either or both of have held in numerous cases, and the doctrine must be
the parties. considered well settled, that a natural child having a
right to compel acknowledgment, but who has not been
in fact acknowledged, may maintain partition
ART. 175. Illegitimate children may establish their proceedings for the division of the inheritance against
illegitimate filiation in the same way and on the same, his coheirs (Siguiong vs. Siguiong, 8 Phil., 5; Tiamson
evidence as legitimate children. vs. Tiamson, 32 Phil., 62); and the same person may
intervene in proceedings for the distribution of the
The action must be brought within the same period estate of his deceased natural father, or mother
specified in Article 173, except when the action is (Capistrano vs. Fabella, 8 Phil., 135; Conde vs. Abaya,
based on the second paragraph of Article 172, in which 13 Phil., 249; Ramirez vs. Gmur, 42 Phil., 855). In
case the action may be brought during the lifetime of neither of these situations has it been thought
the alleged parent. necessary for the plaintiff to show a prior decree
compelling acknowledgment. The obvious reason is
that in partition suits and distribution proceedings the
Under the Family Code, when filiation of an illegitimate child is
other persons who might take by inheritance are before
established by a record of birth appearing in the civil register or a
the court; and the declaration of heirship is appropriate
final judgment, or an admission of filiation in a public document
to such proceedings.
or a private handwritten instrument signed by the parent
concerned, the action for recognition may be brought by the child
during his or her lifetime. However, if the action is based upon WHEREFORE, the instant petition is DENIED. The Decision
open and continuous possession of the status of an illegitimate dated January 22, 2004 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP
child, or any other means allowed by the rules or special laws, it No. 79742 affirming the denial of petitioner's motion to dismiss;
may only be brought during the lifetime of the alleged parent. and its Resolution dated May 25, 2004 denying petitioner's
motion for reconsideration, are AFFIRMED. Let the records
be REMANDED to the Regional Trial Court of Makati City,
It is clear therefore that the resolution of the issue of prescription
Branch 138 for further proceedings.
depends on the type of evidence to be adduced by private
respondents in proving their filiation. However, it would be
impossible to determine the same in this case as there has been SO ORDERED.
no reception of evidence yet. This Court is not a trier of facts.
Such matters may be resolved only by the Regional Trial Court ARTICLE 9
after a full-blown trial.
G.R. No. 174689 October 22, 2007
While the original action filed by private respondents was a
petition for letters of administration, the trial court is not
ROMMEL JACINTO DANTES SILVERIO, petitioner,
precluded from receiving evidence on private respondents'
filiation. Its jurisdiction extends to matters incidental and vs.
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondent.
collateral to the exercise of its recognized powers in handling the
settlement of the estate, including the determination of the status
of each heir.20 That the two causes of action, one to compel
24

When God created man, He made him in the likeness During trial, petitioner testified for himself. He also presented Dr.
of God; He created them male and female. (Genesis Reysio-Cruz, Jr. and his American fiancé, Richard P. Edel, as
5:1-2) witnesses.

Amihan gazed upon the bamboo reed planted by On June 4, 2003, the trial court rendered a decision 4 in favor of
Bathala and she heard voices coming from inside the petitioner. Its relevant portions read:
bamboo. "Oh North Wind! North Wind! Please let us
out!," the voices said. She pecked the reed once, then Petitioner filed the present petition not to evade any law
twice. All of a sudden, the bamboo cracked and slit or judgment or any infraction thereof or for any unlawful
open. Out came two human beings; one was a male motive but solely for the purpose of making his birth
and the other was a female. Amihan named the man records compatible with his present sex.
"Malakas" (Strong) and the woman "Maganda"
(Beautiful). (The Legend of Malakas and Maganda)
The sole issue here is whether or not petitioner is
entitled to the relief asked for.
When is a man a man and when is a woman a woman? In
particular, does the law recognize the changes made by a
physician using scalpel, drugs and counseling with regard to a The [c]ourt rules in the affirmative.
person’s sex? May a person successfully petition for a change of
name and sex appearing in the birth certificate to reflect the Firstly, the [c]ourt is of the opinion that granting the
result of a sex reassignment surgery? petition would be more in consonance with the
principles of justice and equity. With his sexual [re-
On November 26, 2002, petitioner Rommel Jacinto Dantes assignment], petitioner, who has always felt, thought
Silverio filed a petition for the change of his first name and sex in and acted like a woman, now possesses the physique
his birth certificate in the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch of a female. Petitioner’s misfortune to be trapped in a
8. The petition, docketed as SP Case No. 02-105207, impleaded man’s body is not his own doing and should not be in
the civil registrar of Manila as respondent. any way taken against him.

Petitioner alleged in his petition that he was born in the City of Likewise, the [c]ourt believes that no harm, injury [or]
Manila to the spouses Melecio Petines Silverio and Anita Aquino prejudice will be caused to anybody or the community
Dantes on April 4, 1962. His name was registered as "Rommel in granting the petition. On the contrary, granting the
Jacinto Dantes Silverio" in his certificate of live birth (birth petition would bring the much-awaited happiness on the
certificate). His sex was registered as "male." part of the petitioner and her [fiancé] and the realization
of their dreams.
He further alleged that he is a male transsexual, that is,
"anatomically male but feels, thinks and acts as a female" and Finally, no evidence was presented to show any cause
that he had always identified himself with girls since or ground to deny the present petition despite due
childhood.1 Feeling trapped in a man’s body, he consulted notice and publication thereof. Even the State, through
several doctors in the United States. He underwent the [OSG] has not seen fit to interpose any [o]pposition.
psychological examination, hormone treatment and breast
augmentation. His attempts to transform himself to a "woman" WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered
culminated on January 27, 2001 when he underwent sex GRANTING the petition and ordering the Civil Registrar
reassignment surgery2 in Bangkok, Thailand. He was thereafter of Manila to change the entries appearing in the
examined by Dr. Marcelino Reysio-Cruz, Jr., a plastic and Certificate of Birth of [p]etitioner, specifically for
reconstruction surgeon in the Philippines, who issued a medical petitioner’s first name from "Rommel Jacinto"
certificate attesting that he (petitioner) had in fact undergone the to MELY and petitioner’s gender from "Male"
procedure. to FEMALE. 5

From then on, petitioner lived as a female and was in fact On August 18, 2003, the Republic of the Philippines (Republic),
engaged to be married. He then sought to have his name in his thru the OSG, filed a petition for certiorari in the Court of
birth certificate changed from "Rommel Jacinto" to "Mely," and Appeals.6 It alleged that there is no law allowing the change of
his sex from "male" to "female." entries in the birth certificate by reason of sex alteration.

An order setting the case for initial hearing was published in the On February 23, 2006, the Court of Appeals7 rendered a
People’s Journal Tonight, a newspaper of general circulation in decision8 in favor of the Republic. It ruled that the trial court’s
Metro Manila, for three consecutive weeks.3 Copies of the order decision lacked legal basis. There is no law allowing the change
were sent to the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) and the of either name or sex in the certificate of birth on the ground of
civil registrar of Manila. sex reassignment through surgery. Thus, the Court of Appeals
granted the Republic’s petition, set aside the decision of the trial
On the scheduled initial hearing, jurisdictional requirements were court and ordered the dismissal of SP Case No. 02-105207.
established. No opposition to the petition was made. Petitioner moved for reconsideration but it was denied.9 Hence,
this petition.
25

Petitioner essentially claims that the change of his name and sex SECTION 4. Grounds for Change of First Name or
in his birth certificate is allowed under Articles 407 to 413 of the Nickname. – The petition for change of first name or
Civil Code, Rules 103 and 108 of the Rules of Court and RA nickname may be allowed in any of the following cases:
9048.10
(1) The petitioner finds the first name or nickname to be
The petition lacks merit. ridiculous, tainted with dishonor or extremely difficult to
write or pronounce;
A Person’s First Name Cannot Be Changed On the Ground
of Sex Reassignment (2) The new first name or nickname has been habitually
and continuously used by the petitioner and he has
Petitioner invoked his sex reassignment as the ground for his been publicly known by that first name or nickname in
petition for change of name and sex. As found by the trial court: the community; or

Petitioner filed the present petition not to evade any law (3) The change will avoid confusion.
or judgment or any infraction thereof or for any unlawful
motive but solely for the purpose of making his birth Petitioner’s basis in praying for the change of his first name was
records compatible with his present sex. (emphasis his sex reassignment. He intended to make his first name
supplied) compatible with the sex he thought he transformed himself into
through surgery. However, a change of name does not alter
Petitioner believes that after having acquired the physical one’s legal capacity or civil status.18 RA 9048 does not sanction
features of a female, he became entitled to the civil registry a change of first name on the ground of sex reassignment.
changes sought. We disagree. Rather than avoiding confusion, changing petitioner’s first name
for his declared purpose may only create grave complications in
the civil registry and the public interest.
The State has an interest in the names borne by individuals and
entities for purposes of identification.11 A change of name is a
privilege, not a right.12 Petitions for change of name are Before a person can legally change his given name, he must
controlled by statutes.13 In this connection, Article 376 of the present proper or reasonable cause or any compelling reason
Civil Code provides: justifying such change.19 In addition, he must show that he will
be prejudiced by the use of his true and official name.20 In this
case, he failed to show, or even allege, any prejudice that he
ART. 376. No person can change his name or surname might suffer as a result of using his true and official name.
without judicial authority.
In sum, the petition in the trial court in so far as it prayed for the
This Civil Code provision was amended by RA 9048 (Clerical change of petitioner’s first name was not within that court’s
Error Law). In particular, Section 1 of RA 9048 provides: primary jurisdiction as the petition should have been filed with
the local civil registrar concerned, assuming it could be legally
SECTION 1. Authority to Correct Clerical or done. It was an improper remedy because the proper remedy
Typographical Error and Change of First Name or was administrative, that is, that provided under RA 9048. It was
Nickname. – No entry in a civil register shall be also filed in the wrong venue as the proper venue was in the
changed or corrected without a judicial order, except for Office of the Civil Registrar of Manila where his birth certificate is
clerical or typographical errors and change of first name kept. More importantly, it had no merit since the use of his true
or nickname which can be corrected or changed by the and official name does not prejudice him at all. For all these
concerned city or municipal civil registrar or consul reasons, the Court of Appeals correctly dismissed petitioner’s
general in accordance with the provisions of this Act petition in so far as the change of his first name was concerned.
and its implementing rules and regulations.
No Law Allows The Change of Entry In The Birth Certificate
RA 9048 now governs the change of first name.14 It vests the As To Sex On the Ground of Sex Reassignment
power and authority to entertain petitions for change of first
name to the city or municipal civil registrar or consul general The determination of a person’s sex appearing in his birth
concerned. Under the law, therefore, jurisdiction over certificate is a legal issue and the court must look to the
applications for change of first name is now primarily lodged with statutes.21 In this connection, Article 412 of the Civil Code
the aforementioned administrative officers. The intent and effect provides:
of the law is to exclude the change of first name from the
coverage of Rules 103 (Change of Name) and 108 (Cancellation
or Correction of Entries in the Civil Registry) of the Rules of ART. 412. No entry in the civil register shall be changed
Court, until and unless an administrative petition for change of or corrected without a judicial order.
name is first filed and subsequently denied. 15 It likewise lays
down the corresponding venue,16 form17 and procedure. In sum, Together with Article 376 of the Civil Code, this provision was
the remedy and the proceedings regulating change of first name amended by RA 9048 in so far as clerical or typographical errors
are primarily administrative in nature, not judicial. are involved. The correction or change of such matters can now
be made through administrative proceedings and without the
RA 9048 likewise provides the grounds for which change of first need for a judicial order. In effect, RA 9048 removed from the
name may be allowed: ambit of Rule 108 of the Rules of Court the correction of such
26

errors.22 Rule 108 now applies only to substantial changes and corresponding to his first name and sex, were all correct. No
corrections in entries in the civil register.23 correction is necessary.

Section 2(c) of RA 9048 defines what a "clerical or typographical Article 407 of the Civil Code authorizes the entry in the civil
error" is: registry of certain acts (such as legitimations, acknowledgments
of illegitimate children and naturalization), events (such as births,
SECTION 2. Definition of Terms. – As used in this Act, marriages, naturalization and deaths) and judicial decrees (such
the following terms shall mean: as legal separations, annulments of marriage, declarations of
nullity of marriages, adoptions, naturalization, loss or recovery of
citizenship, civil interdiction, judicial determination of filiation and
xxx xxx xxx changes of name). These acts, events and judicial decrees
produce legal consequences that touch upon the legal capacity,
(3) "Clerical or typographical error" refers to a status and nationality of a person. Their effects are expressly
mistake committed in the performance of sanctioned by the laws. In contrast, sex reassignment is not
clerical work in writing, copying, transcribing or among those acts or events mentioned in Article 407. Neither is
typing an entry in the civil register that is it recognized nor even mentioned by any law, expressly or
harmless and innocuous, such as misspelled impliedly.
name or misspelled place of birth or the like,
which is visible to the eyes or obvious to the "Status" refers to the circumstances affecting the legal situation
understanding, and can be corrected or (that is, the sum total of capacities and incapacities) of a person
changed only by reference to other existing in view of his age, nationality and his family membership. 27
record or records: Provided, however, That
no correction must involve the change
of nationality, age, status or sex of the The status of a person in law includes all his personal
petitioner. (emphasis supplied) qualities and relations, more or less permanent in
nature, not ordinarily terminable at his own will,
such as his being legitimate or illegitimate, or his being
Under RA 9048, a correction in the civil registry involving the married or not. The comprehensive term status…
change of sex is not a mere clerical or typographical error. It is a include such matters as the beginning and end of legal
substantial change for which the applicable procedure is Rule personality, capacity to have rights in general, family
108 of the Rules of Court. relations, and its various aspects, such as birth,
legitimation, adoption, emancipation, marriage, divorce,
The entries envisaged in Article 412 of the Civil Code and and sometimes even succession.28 (emphasis supplied)
correctable under Rule 108 of the Rules of Court are those
provided in Articles 407 and 408 of the Civil Code: 24 A person’s sex is an essential factor in marriage and family
relations. It is a part of a person’s legal capacity and civil status.
ART. 407. Acts, events and judicial decrees concerning In this connection, Article 413 of the Civil Code provides:
the civil status of persons shall be recorded in the civil
register. ART. 413. All other matters pertaining to the registration
of civil status shall be governed by special laws.
ART. 408. The following shall be entered in the civil
register: But there is no such special law in the Philippines governing sex
reassignment and its effects. This is fatal to petitioner’s cause.
(1) Births; (2) marriages; (3) deaths; (4) legal
separations; (5) annulments of marriage; (6) judgments Moreover, Section 5 of Act 3753 (the Civil Register Law)
declaring marriages void from the beginning; (7) provides:
legitimations; (8) adoptions; (9) acknowledgments of
natural children; (10) naturalization; (11) loss, or (12)
recovery of citizenship; (13) civil interdiction; (14) SEC. 5. Registration and certification of births. – The
judicial determination of filiation; (15) voluntary declaration of the physician or midwife in attendance at
emancipation of a minor; and (16) changes of name. the birth or, in default thereof, the declaration of either
parent of the newborn child, shall be sufficient for the
registration of a birth in the civil register. Such
The acts, events or factual errors contemplated under Article 407 declaration shall be exempt from documentary stamp
of the Civil Code include even those that occur after tax and shall be sent to the local civil registrar not later
birth.25 However, no reasonable interpretation of the provision than thirty days after the birth, by the physician or
can justify the conclusion that it covers the correction on the midwife in attendance at the birth or by either parent of
ground of sex reassignment. the newborn child.

To correct simply means "to make or set aright; to remove the In such declaration, the person above mentioned shall
faults or error from" while to change means "to replace certify to the following facts: (a) date and hour of birth;
something with something else of the same kind or with (b) sex and nationality of infant; (c) names, citizenship
something that serves as a substitute." 26 The birth certificate of and religion of parents or, in case the father is not
petitioner contained no error. All entries therein, including those known, of the mother alone; (d) civil status of parents;
27

(e) place where the infant was born; and (f) such other has undergone sex reassignment (a male-to-female post-
data as may be required in the regulations to be issued. operative transsexual). Second, there are various laws which
apply particularly to women such as the provisions of the Labor
xxx xxx xxx (emphasis supplied) Code on employment of women,39 certain felonies under the
Revised Penal Code40 and the presumption of survivorship in
case of calamities under Rule 131 of the Rules of
Under the Civil Register Law, a birth certificate is a historical Court,41 among others. These laws underscore the public policy
record of the facts as they existed at the time of birth. 29 Thus, the in relation to women which could be substantially affected if
sex of a person is determined at birth, visually done by the birth petitioner’s petition were to be granted.
attendant (the physician or midwife) by examining the genitals of
the infant. Considering that there is no law legally recognizing
sex reassignment, the determination of a person’s sex made at It is true that Article 9 of the Civil Code mandates that "[n]o judge
the time of his or her birth, if not attended by error, 30is or court shall decline to render judgment by reason of the
immutable.31 silence, obscurity or insufficiency of the law." However, it is not a
license for courts to engage in judicial legislation. The duty of the
courts is to apply or interpret the law, not to make or amend it.
When words are not defined in a statute they are to be given
their common and ordinary meaning in the absence of a contrary
legislative intent. The words "sex," "male" and "female" as used In our system of government, it is for the legislature, should it
in the Civil Register Law and laws concerning the civil registry choose to do so, to determine what guidelines should govern the
(and even all other laws) should therefore be understood in their recognition of the effects of sex reassignment. The need for
common and ordinary usage, there being no legislative intent to legislative guidelines becomes particularly important in this case
the contrary. In this connection, sex is defined as "the sum of where the claims asserted are statute-based.
peculiarities of structure and function that distinguish a male
from a female"32 or "the distinction between male and To reiterate, the statutes define who may file petitions for change
female."33 Female is "the sex that produces ova or bears of first name and for correction or change of entries in the civil
young"34 and male is "the sex that has organs to produce registry, where they may be filed, what grounds may be invoked,
spermatozoa for fertilizing ova."35 Thus, the words "male" and what proof must be presented and what procedures shall be
"female" in everyday understanding do not include persons who observed. If the legislature intends to confer on a person who
have undergone sex reassignment. Furthermore, "words that are has undergone sex reassignment the privilege to change his
employed in a statute which had at the time a well-known name and sex to conform with his reassigned sex, it has to enact
meaning are presumed to have been used in that sense unless legislation laying down the guidelines in turn governing the
the context compels to the contrary."36 Since the statutory conferment of that privilege.
language of the Civil Register Law was enacted in the early
1900s and remains unchanged, it cannot be argued that the term It might be theoretically possible for this Court to write a protocol
"sex" as used then is something alterable through surgery or on when a person may be recognized as having successfully
something that allows a post-operative male-to-female changed his sex. However, this Court has no authority to fashion
transsexual to be included in the category "female." a law on that matter, or on anything else. The Court cannot
enact a law where no law exists. It can only apply or interpret the
For these reasons, while petitioner may have succeeded in written word of its co-equal branch of government, Congress.
altering his body and appearance through the intervention of
modern surgery, no law authorizes the change of entry as to sex Petitioner pleads that "[t]he unfortunates are also entitled to a life
in the civil registry for that reason. Thus, there is no legal basis of happiness, contentment and [the] realization of their dreams."
for his petition for the correction or change of the entries in his No argument about that. The Court recognizes that there are
birth certificate. people whose preferences and orientation do not fit neatly into
the commonly recognized parameters of social convention and
Neither May Entries in the Birth Certificate As to First Name that, at least for them, life is indeed an ordeal. However, the
or Sex Be Changed on the Ground of Equity remedies petitioner seeks involve questions of public policy to be
addressed solely by the legislature, not by the courts.
The trial court opined that its grant of the petition was in
consonance with the principles of justice and equity. It believed WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DENIED.
that allowing the petition would cause no harm, injury or
prejudice to anyone. This is wrong. Costs against petitioner.

The changes sought by petitioner will have serious and wide- SO ORDERED.
ranging legal and public policy consequences. First, even the
trial court itself found that the petition was but petitioner’s first
step towards his eventual marriage to his male fiancé. However,
marriage, one of the most sacred social institutions, is a special
contract of permanent union between a man and a
woman.37 One of its essential requisites is the legal capacity of
the contracting parties who must be a male and a female.38 To
grant the changes sought by petitioner will substantially
reconfigure and greatly alter the laws on marriage and family
relations. It will allow the union of a man with another man who