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FIRST DIVISION

[G.R. No. 157037. May 20, 2004.]


ROSALINA P. ECETA, petitioner, vs. MA. THERESA
VELL LAGURA ECETA, respondent.
DECISION
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J p:
This petition for review on certiorari assails the
Decision 1 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV
No. 50449 which affirmed with modification the
trial court's ruling that respondent Maria Theresa
Vell Lagura Eceta is entitled to one-eight (1/8)
portion of the disputed property.
The antecedent facts are as follows:
Petitioner Rosalina P. Vda. De Eceta was married
to Isaac Eceta sometime in 1926. During the
subsistence of their marriage, they begot a son,
Vicente. The couple acquired several properties,
among which is the disputed property located at
Stanford, Cubao, Quezon City covered by Transfer
Certificate of Title No. 61036. Isaac died in 1967
leaving behind Rosalina and Vicente as his
compulsory heirs.
In 1977, Vicente died. During his lifetime,
however, he sired Maria Theresa, an illegitimate
daughter. Thus at the time of his death, his
compulsory heirs were his mother, Rosalina, and
illegitimate child, Maria Theresa.
In 1991, Maria Theresa filed a case before the
Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 218,
for "Partition and Accounting with Damages" 2
against Rosalina alleging that by virtue of her
father's death, she became Rosalina's co-heir and
co-owner of the Cubao property. The case was
docketed as Civil Case No. Q-91-8922.
In her answer, Rosalina alleged that the property
is paraphernal in nature and thus belonged to her
exclusively.
During the pre-trial conference,
entered into a stipulation of facts
both admitted their relationship to
i.e., that Rosalina is Maria Theresa's
3

the parties
wherein they
one another,
grandmother.

After trial on the merits, the court a quo rendered


judgment, the dispositive portion of which reads:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is
hereby rendered as follows:
a) Theresa Eceta and Rosalina Eceta are the only
surviving co-heirs and co-owners over the parcel
of land and improvements thereon subject of this
case;
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b) Maria Theresa Eceta is entitled to one fourth


share of said property;
c) Rosalina Eceta is ordered to account for the
value corresponding to the one-fourth undivided
share of Theresa Eceta in the monthly rentals of
the property with interest and must commence
from the filing of this case;
d) Parties are ordered within fifteen days from
receipt of this decision to amicably agree upon a
written partition and to submit the same for
approval, parties shall appoint a commissioner to
effect said partition of the property between the
parties;
e) The counterclaim by defendant Rosalina is
hereby dismissed. 4
Rosalina appealed the decision to the Court of
Appeals, which affirmed with modification the
trial court's ruling, thus:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the appealed
Decision is hereby AFFIRMED subject to the
MODIFICATION that the one-fourth (1/4) share
erroneously decreed to Appellee is hereby
REDUCED to one-eight (1/8) undivided share of
the entire disputed property, covered by TCT No.
61036, in accordance with law.
Her motion for reconsideration having been
denied, Rosalina is now before us by way of
petition for review wherein she submits the
following issues:
a. Whether the certified xerox copy from a xerox
copy of the certificate of live birth (Exhibit A) is
competent evidence to prove the alleged filiation
of the respondent as an "illegitimate daughter" of
her alleged father Vicente Eceta.
b. Whether the admission made by petitioner that
respondent is her granddaughter is enough to
prove respondent's filiation with Vicente Eceta,
the only son of petitioner.
c. Whether the action for recognition has already
prescribed.
The petition has no merit.
We note Rosalina's attempt to mislead the Court
by representing that this case is one for
compulsory recognition, partition and accounting
with damages. 5 Notably, what was filed and tried
before the trial court and the Court of Appeals is
one for partition and accounting with damages
only. The filiation, or compulsory recognition by

Vicente Eceta of Maria Theresa, was never put in


issue. In fact, both parties have already agreed
and admitted, as duly noted in the trial court's
pre-trial order, 6 that Maria Theresa is Rosalina's
granddaughter.

the former, his mother and natural guardian,


petitioners, vs. IVAN MENDEZ and the
HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, respondents.

Notwithstanding, Maria Theresa successfully


established her filiation with Vicente by
presenting a duly authenticated birth certificate.
7 Vicente himself signed Maria Theresa's birth
certificate thereby acknowledging that she is his
daughter. By this act alone, Vicente is deemed to
have acknowledged his paternity over Maria
Theresa, thus:

Bienvenido D. Carriaga for private respondent.

The filiation of illegitimate children, like legitimate


children, is established by (1) the record of birth
appearing in the civil register or a final judgment;
or (2) an admission of legitimate filiation in a
public document or a private handwritten
instrument and signed by the parent concerned.
In the absence thereof, filiation shall be proved
by (1) the open and continuous possession of the
status of a legitimate child; or (2) any other
means allowed by the Rules of Court and special
laws. The due recognition of an illegitimate child
in a record of birth, a will, a statement before a
court of record, or in any authentic writing is, in
itself, a consummated act of acknowledgment of
the child, and no further court action is required.
In fact, any authentic writing is treated not just a
ground for compulsory recognition; it is in itself a
voluntary recognition that does not require a
separate action for judicial approval. 8
In view of the foregoing, we find no necessity to
discuss the other issues submitted.
WHEREFORE, the petition for review on certiorari
is DENIED. The decision of the Court of Appeals in
CA-G.R. CV No. 50449, which affirmed with
modification the decision of the Regional Trial
Court of Quezon City, Branch 218 in Civil Case
No. Q-91-8922, is AFFIRMED in toto.
SO ORDERED.
Panganiban, Carpio and Azcuna, JJ ., concur.
Davide, Jr., C .J ., is on official leave.
||| (Eceta v. Eceta, G.R. No. 157037, May 20,
2004)
THIRD DIVISION
[G.R. No. 57227. May 14, 1992.]
AMELITA CONSTANTINO and MICHAEL
CONSTANTINO, the latter represented herein by
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Roberto M. Sarenas for petitioners.

SYLLABUS
1. REMEDIAL LAW; COURT OF APPEALS;
DUTY THEREOF IN THE EXERCISE OF ITS
APPELLATE JURISDICTION. It must be
stressed at the outset that factual findings of the
trial court have only a persuasive and not a
conclusive effect on the Court of Appeals. In the
exercise of its appellate jurisdiction, it is the duty
of the Court of Appeals to review the factual
findings of the trial court and rectify the errors it
committed as may have been properly assigned
and as could be established by a re-examination
of the evidence on record. It is the factual
findings of the Court of Appeals, not those of the
trial court, that as a rule are considered final and
conclusive even on this Court (Hermon v. Hon.
Court of Appeals, et al., 155 SCRA 24 [1987]).
2. ID.; ID.; AS A GENERAL RULE, ONLY
ERRORS OF LAWS COMMITTED THEREOF
ARE REVIEWABLE BY THE SUPREME COURT.
This being a petition for certiorari under Rule
45 of the Rules of Court, this Court will review
only errors of law committed by the Court of
Appeals. It is not the function of this Court to reexamine all over again the oral and documentary
evidence submitted by the parties unless the
findings of facts of the Court of Appeals is not
supported by the evidence on record or the
judgment is based on misapprehension of facts
(Remalante v. Tibe, et al., 158 SCRA 138 [1988];
Hernandez v. Court of Appeals, et al., 149 SCRA
97 [1987]).
3. CIVIL LAW; DAMAGES; AS A GENERAL
RULE, MERE SEXUAL INTERCOURSE IS NOT
BY ITSELF A BASIS FOR RECOVERY;
EXCEPTION; CASE AT BAR. As regards
Amelita's claim for damages which is based on
Article 19 & 21 of the Civil Code on the theory
that through Ivan's promise of marriage, she
surrendered her virginity, we cannot but agree
with the Court of Appeals that mere sexual
intercourse is not by itself a basis for recovery.
Damages could only be awarded if sexual
intercourse is not a product of voluntariness and
mutual desire. At the time she met Ivan at Tony's
Restaurant, Amelita was already 28 years old and
she admitted that she was attracted to Ivan (TSN,
December 8, 1975, p. 83). Her attraction to Ivan
is the reason why she surrendered her
womanhood. Had she been induced or deceived

because of a promise of marriage, she could have


immediately severed her relation with Ivan when
she was informed after their first sexual contact
sometime in August, 1974, that he was a married
man. Her declaration that in the months of
September, October and November, 1974, they
repeated their sexual intercourse only indicates
that passion and not the alleged promise of
marriage was the moving force that made her
submit herself to Ivan.
DECISION

BIDIN, J p:
This is a petition for review on certiorari
questioning the decision 1 dated April 30, 1981 of
the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. No. 61552-R
which dismissed petitioner's complaint and set
aside the resolution 2 dated October 21, 1976 of
the then Court of First Instance of Davao, 16th
Judicial District, amending the dispositive portion
of its decision dated June 21, 1976 and ordering
private respondent Ivan Mendez: (1) to
acknowledge the minor Michael Constantino as
his illegitimate child; (2) to give a monthly
support of P300.00 to the minor child, (3) to pay
complainant Amelita Constantino the sum of
P8,200.00 as actual and moral damages; and (4)
to pay attorney's fees in the sum of P5,000 plus
costs.
It appears on record that on June 5, 1975,
petitioner Amelita Constantino filed an action for
acknowledgment, support and damages against
private respondent Ivan Mendez. The case was
filed with the then CFI of Davao, 10th Judicial
District and docketed as Civil Case No. 8881. In
her complaint, Amelita Constantino alleges,
among others, that sometime in the month of
August, 1974, she met Ivan Mendez at Tony's
Restaurant located at Sta. Cruz, Manila, where
she worked as a waitress; that the day following
their first meeting, Ivan invited Amelita to dine
with him at Hotel Enrico where he was billeted;
that while dining, Ivan professed his love and
courted Amelita; that Amelita asked for time to
think about Ivan's proposal; that at about 11:00
o'clock in the evening, Amelita asked Ivan to
bring her home to which the latter agreed, that
on the pretext of getting something, Ivan brought
Amelita inside his hotel room and through a
promise of marriage succeeded in having sexual
intercourse with the latter; that after the sexual
contact, Ivan confessed to Amelita that he is a
married man; that they repeated their sexual
contact in the months of September and
November, 1974, whenever Ivan is in Manila, as a
result of which Amelita got pregnant; that her
pleas for help and support fell on deaf ears; that
Amelita had no sexual relations with any other
man except Ivan who is the father of the child yet
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to be born at the time of the filing of the


complaint; that because of her pregnancy,
Amelita was forced to leave her work as a
waitress; that Ivan is a prosperous businessman
of Davao City with a monthly income of P5,000 to
P8,000.00. As relief, Amelita prayed for the
recognition of the unborn child, the payment of
actual, moral and exemplary damages, attorney's
fees plus costs. LLjur
In his answer dated August 5, 1975, Ivan
admitted that he met Amelita at Tony's Cocktail
Lounge but denied having sexual knowledge or
illicit relations with her. He prayed for the
dismissal of the complaint for lack of cause of
action. By way of counterclaim, he further prayed
for the payment of exemplary damages and
litigation expense including attorney's fees for
the filing of the malicious complaint.
On September 1, 1975, Amelita Constantino filed
a motion for leave to amend the complaint
impleading as co-plaintiff her son Michael
Constantino who was born on August 3, 1975. In
its order dated September 4, 1975, the trial court
admitted the amended complaint.
On September 11, 1975, Ivan Mendez filed his
answer to the amended complaint reiterating his
previous
answer
denying
that
Michael
Constantino is his illegitimate son.
After hearing, the trial court rendered a decision
dated June 21, 1976, the dispositive portion of
which reads, viz:
"WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, judgment
is hereby rendered in favor of plaintiff Amelita
Constantino and against defendant Ivan Mendez,
ordering the latter to pay Amelita Constantino the
sum of P8,000.00 by way of actual and moral
damages; and, the sum of P3,000.00, as and by
way of attorney's fees. The defendant shall pay
the costs of this suit.
SO ORDERED."
From the above decision, both parties filed their
separate motion for reconsideration. Ivan Mendez
anchored his motion on the ground that the
award of damages was not supported by
evidence. Amelita Constantino, on the other
hand, sought the recognition and support of her
son Michael Constantino as the illegitimate son of
Ivan Mendez.
In its resolution dated October 21, 1976, the trial
court granted Amelita Constantino's motion for
reconsideration, and amended the dispositive
portion of its decision dated June 21, 1976 to read
as follows, viz:
"WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, judgment
is hereby rendered in favor of plaintiff Amelita

Constantino
and
plaintiff-minor
Michael
Constantino, and against defendant Ivan Mendez
ordering the latter to pay Amelita Constantino the
sum of P8,000.00 by way of actual and moral
damages and the sum of P200.00 as and by way
of payment of the hospital and medical bills
incurred during the delivery of plaintiff-minor
Michael Constantino; to recognize as his own
illegitimate child the plaintiff-minor Michael
Constantino who shall be entitled to all the rights,
privileges and benefits appertaining to a child of
such status; to give a permanent monthly support
in favor of plaintiff Michael Constantino the
amount of P300.00; and the sum of P5,000.00, as
and by way of attorney's fees. The defendant
shall pay the costs of this suit. LibLex
Let this Order form part of the decision dated
June 21, 1976.
SO ORDERED."
On appeal to the Court of Appeals, the above
amended decision was set aside and the
complaint was dismissed. Hence, this petition for
review.
Basically, the issue to be resolved in the case at
bar is whether or not the Court of Appeals
committed a reversible error in setting aside the
decision of the trial court and in dismissing the
complaint.
Petitioners contend that the Court of Appeals
erred in reversing the factual findings of the trial
court and in not affirming the decision of the trial
court. They also pointed out that the appellate
court committed a misapprehension of facts
when it concluded that Ivan did not have sexual
access with Amelita during the first or second
week of November, 1976 (should be 1974), the
time of the conception of the child.
It must be stressed at the outset that factual
findings of the trial court have only a persuasive
and not a conclusive effect on the Court of
Appeals. In the exercise of its appellate
jurisdiction, it is the duty of the Court of Appeals
to review the factual findings of the trial court
and rectify the errors it committed as may have
been properly assigned and as could be
established by a re-examination of the evidence
on record. It is the factual findings of the Court of
Appeals, not those of the trial court, that as a rule
are considered final and conclusive even on this
Court (Hermo v. Hon. Court of Appeals, et al., 155
SCRA 24 [1987]). This being a petition for
certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, this
Court will review only errors of law committed by
the Court of Appeals. It is not the function of this
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Court to re-examine all over again the oral and


documentary evidence submitted by the parties
unless the findings of facts of the Court of
Appeals is not supported by the evidence on
record
or
the
judgment
is
based
on
misapprehension of facts (Remalante v. Tibe, et
al., 158 SCRA 138 [1988]; Hernandez v. Court of
Appeals, et al., 149 SCRA 97 [1987]).
It is the conclusion of the Court of Appeals, based
on the evidence on record, that Amelita
Constantino has not proved by clear and
convincing evidence her claim that Ivan Mendez
is the father of her son Michael Constantino. Such
conclusion based on the evaluation of the
evidence on record is controlling on this Court as
the same is supported by the evidence on record.
Even the trial court initially entertained such
posture. It ordered the recognition of Michael as
the illegitimate son of Ivan only when acting on
the motions for reconsideration, it reconsidered,
on October 21, 1976, its earlier decision dated
June 21, 1976. Amelita's testimony on crossexamination that she had sexual contact with
Ivan in Manila in the first or second week of
November, 1974 (TSN, December 8, 1975, p.
108) is inconsistent with her response that she
could not remember the date of their last sexual
intercourse in November, 1974 (Ibid, p. 106).
Sexual contact of Ivan and Amelita in the first or
second week of November, 1974 is the crucial
point that was not even established on direct
examination as she merely testified that she had
sexual intercourse with Ivan in the months of
September, October and November, 1974. llcd
Michael Constantino is a full-term baby born on
August 3, 1975 (Exhibit 6) so that as correctly
pointed out by private respondent's counsel,
citing medical science (Williams Obstetrics, Tenth
Ed., p. 198) to the effect that "the mean duration
of actual pregnancy, counting from the day of
conception must be close to 267 days", the
conception of the child (Michael) must have taken
place about 267 days before August 3, 1375 or
sometime in the second week of November,
1974. While Amelita testified that she had sexual
contact
with
Ivan
in
November,
1974,
nevertheless said testimony is contradicted by
her own evidence (Exh. F), the letter dated
February 11, 1975, addressed to Ivan Mendez
requesting for a conference, prepared by her own
counsel Atty. Roberto Sarenas to whom she must
have confided the attendant circumstances of her
pregnancy while still fresh in her memory,
informing Ivan that Amelita is four (4) months
pregnant so that applying the period of the
duration of actual pregnancy, the child was
conceived on or about October 11, 1974.

Petitioner's assertion that Ivan is her first and


only boyfriend (TSN, December 8, 1975, p. 65) is
belied by Exhibit 2, her own letter addressed to
Mrs. Mendez where she revealed the reason for
her attachment to Ivan who possessed certain
traits not possessed by her boyfriend. She also
confided that she had a quarrel with her
boyfriend because of gossips so she left her work.
An order for recognition and support may create
an unwholesome atmosphere or may be an
irritant in the family or lives of the parties so that
it must be issued only if paternity or filiation is
established by clear and convincing evidence.
The burden of proof is on Amelita to establish her
affirmative allegations that Ivan is the father of
her son. Consequently, in the absence of clear
and convincing evidence establishing paternity or
filiation, the complaint must be dismissed.
As regards Amelita's claim for damages which is
based on Articles 19 3 & 21 4 of the Civil Code on
the theory that through Ivan's promise of
marriage, she surrendered her virginity, we
cannot but agree with the Court of Appeals that
mere sexual intercourse is not by itself a basis for
recovery. Damages could only be awarded if
sexual intercourse is not a product of
voluntariness and mutual desire. At the time she
met Ivan at Tony's Restaurant, Amelita was
already 28 years old and she admitted that she
was attracted to Ivan (TSN, December 8, 1975, p.
83). Her attraction to Ivan is the reason why she
surrendered her womanhood. Had she been
induced or deceived because of a promise of
marriage, she could have immediately severed
her relation with Ivan when she was informed
after their first sexual contact sometime in
August, 1974, that he was a married man. Her
declaration that in the months of September,
October and November, 1974, they repeated
their sexual intercourse only indicates that
passion and not the alleged promise of marriage
was the moving force that made her submit
herself to Ivan.
WHEREFORE, the instant petition is Dismissed for
lack of merit.
SO ORDERED.
Gutierrez, Jr., Feliciano, Bidin, Davide, Jr. and
Romero, JJ., concur.
THIRD DIVISION
[G.R. No. 140500. January 21, 2002.]
ERNESTINA BERNABE, petitioner, vs. CAROLINA
ALEJO as guardian ad litem for the minor ADRIAN
BERNABE, respondent.
Trinidad Reverente Makalintal and Bernabe Law
Offices for petitioner.
Felix D. Carao, Jr. and R.A.V. Saguisag for private
respondent.
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SYNOPSIS
The late Fiscal Ernesto Bernabe allegedly fathered
a son with Carolina Alejo, his secretary for 23
years. The son was born on September 18, 1981
and was named Adrian Bernabe. Fiscal Bernabe
died on August 13, 1993, while his wife Rosalina
died on December 3 of the same year, leaving
Ernestina as the sole surviving heir. Carolina, in
behalf of Adrian, filed a complaint praying that
Adrian be declared an acknowledged illegitimate
son of Fiscal Bernabe and as such he (Adrian) be
given his share in Fiscal Bernabe's estate, which
was being held by Ernestina as the sole surviving
heir. The Regional Trial Court dismissed the
complaint, ruling that under the provisions of the
Family Code, the complaint was already barred.
On appeal to the Court of Appeals, the latter
ruled that the subsequent enactment of the
Family Code did not take away the right of Adrian
to file a petition for recognition within four years
from attaining majority age.
In affirming the decision of the Court of Appeals,
the Supreme Court ruled that Adrian's right to an
action for recognition, which was granted by
Article 285 of the Civil Code, had already vested
prior to the enactment of the Family Code. This
vested right was not impaired or taken away by
the passage of the Family Code. He has up to four
years from attaining majority age within which to
file an action for recognition. The Court's overriding consideration is to protect the vested rights
of minors who could not have filed suit, on their
own, during the lifetime of their putative parents.
Adrian was only seven years old when the Family
Code took effect and only twelve when his
alleged father died in 1993. The minor must be
given his day in court.
SYLLABUS
1. CIVIL LAW; FAMILY CODE; PATERNITY AND
FILIATION; ACTION FOR RECOGNITION OF
ILLEGITIMATE CHILD; MUST BE BROUGHT
WITHIN THE LIFETIME OF THE ALLEGED
PARENTS. Under the new law, an action for
the recognition of an illegitimate child must be
brought within the lifetime of the alleged parent.
The Family Code makes no distinction on whether
the former was still a minor when the latter died.
Thus, the putative parent is given by the new
Code a chance to dispute the claim, considering
that "illegitimate children are usually begotten
and raised in secrecy and without the legitimate
family being aware of their existence. . . . The
putative parent should thus be given the
opportunity to affirm or deny the child's filiation,
and this, he or she cannot do if he or she is
already dead."

2. ID.; ID.; SHOULD NOT IMPAIR VESTED OR


ACQUIRED RIGHTS; CASE AT BAR. [T]he
Family Code provides the caveat that rights that
have already vested prior to its enactment should
not be prejudiced or impaired as follows: "ART.
255. This Code shall have retroactive effect
insofar as it does not prejudice or impair vested
or acquired rights in accordance with the Civil
Code or other laws." . . . Article 285 of the Civil
Code is a substantive law, as it gives Adrian the
right to file his petition for recognition within four
years from attaining majority age. Therefore, the
Family Code cannot impair or take Adrian's right
to file an action for recognition, because that
right had already vested prior to its enactment.
3. ID.; CIVIL CODE; PERSONS AND FAMILY
RELATIONS; PATERNITY AND FILIATION;
ACTION FOR RECOGNITION OF NATURAL
CHILDREN; NATURAL CHILD, DEFINED. A
"natural child" is one whose parents, at the time
of conception, were not disqualified by any legal
impediment from marrying each other. Thus, in
De Santos v. Angeles, the Court explained: "A
child's parents should not have been disqualified
to marry each other at the time of conception for
him to qualify as a 'natural child.'"
4. ID.; ID.; ID:, ID.; ID.; RULES THEREON MAY
BE APPLIED TO SPURIOUS CHILDREN. A
strict and literal interpretation of Article 285 has
already been frowned upon by this Court in the
aforesaid case of Aruego, which allowed minors
to file a case for recognition even if their parents
were disqualified from marrying each other.
There, the Complaint averred that the late Jose
Aruego Sr., a married man, had an extramarital
liaison with Luz Fabian. Out of this relationship
were born two illegitimate children who in 1983
filed an action for recognition. The two children
were born in 1962 and 1963, while the alleged
putative father died in 1982. In short, at the time
of their conception, the two children's parents
were legally disqualified from marrying each
other. The Court allowed the Complaint to
prosper, even though it had been filed almost a
year after the death of the presumed father. At
the time of his death, both children were still
minors. Moreover, in the earlier case Divinagracia
v. Rovira, the Court said that the rules on
voluntary an compulsory acknowledgment of
natural children, as well as the prescriptive period
for filing such action, may likewise be applied to
spurious children.
5. REMEDIAL LAW; ACTIONS; APPEALS;
APPEAL BY CERTIORARI TO THE SUPREME
COURT;
FAILURE
OF
PETITIONER
TO
IMPLEAD THE COURT OF APPEALS AS PARTY,
NOT A REVERSIBLE ERROR. Under Section
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4(a) of Rule 45 of the current Rules of Court, it is


no longer required to implead "the lower courts or
judges . . . either as petitioners or respondents."
Under Section 3, however, the lower tribunal
should still be furnished a copy of the petition.
Hence, the failure of petitioner to implead the
Court of Appeals as a party is not a reversible
error; it is in fact the correct procedure.
DECISION
PANGANIBAN, J p:
The right to seek recognition granted by the Civil
Code to illegitimate children who were still minors
at the time the Family Code took effect cannot be
impaired or taken away. The minors have up to
four years from attaining majority age within
which to file an action for recognition.
Statement of the Case
Before us is a Petition 1 for Review on Certiorari
under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, praying for
(1) the nullification of the July 7, 1999 Court of
Appeals 2 (CA) Decision 3 in CA-G.R. CV No.
51919 and the October 14, 1999 CA Resolution 4
denying petitioner's Motion for Reconsideration,
as well as (2) the reinstatement of the two Orders
issued by the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Pasay
City (Branch 109) concerning the same case. The
dispositive portion of the assailed Decision reads
as follows:
"WHEREFORE, premises considered, the order of
the lower court dismissing Civil Case No. 94-0562
is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Let the records of
this case be remanded to the lower court for trial
on the merits." 5
The Facts
The undisputed facts are summarized by the
Court of Appeals in this wise:
"The late Fiscal Ernesto A. Bernabe allegedly
fathered a son with his secretary of twenty-three
(23) years, herein plaintiff-appellant Carolina
Alejo. The son was born on September 18, 1981
and was named Adrian Bernabe. Fiscal Bernabe
died on August 13, 1993, while his wife Rosalina
died on December 3 of the same year, leaving
Ernestina as the sole surviving heir.
"On May 16, 1994, Carolina, in behalf of Adrian,
filed the aforesaid complaint praying that Adrian
be declared an acknowledged illegitimate son of
Fiscal Bernabe and as such he (Adrian) be given
his share in Fiscal Bernabe's estate, which is now
being held by Ernestina as the sole surviving heir.
"On July 16, 1995, the Regional Trial Court
dismissed the complaint, ruling that under the
provisions of the Family Code as well as the case

of Uyguangco vs. Court of Appeals, the complaint


is now barred . . .." 6
Orders of the Trial Court
In an Order dated July 26, 1995, the trial court
granted
Ernestina
Bernabe's
Motion
for
Reconsideration of the trial court's Decision and
ordered the dismissal of the Complaint for
recognition. Citing Article 175 of the Family Code,
the RTC held that the death of the putative father
had barred the action.
In its Order dated October 6, 1995, the trial court
added that since the putative father had not
acknowledged or recognized Adrian Bernabe in
writing, the action for recognition should have
been filed during the lifetime of the alleged father
to give him the opportunity to either affirm or
deny the child's filiation.
Ruling of the Court of Appeals
On the other hand, the Court of Appeals ruled
that in the interest of justice, Adrian should be
allowed to prove that he was the illegitimate son
of Fiscal Bernabe. Because the boy was born in
1981, his rights are governed by Article 285 of
the Civil Code, which allows an action for
recognition to be filed within four years after the
child has attained the age of majority. The
subsequent enactment of the Family Code did not
take away that right.
Hence, this appeal. 7
Issues
In her Memorandum, 8 petitioner raises the
following issues for our consideration:
I
"Whether or not respondent has a cause of action
to file a case against petitioner, the legitimate
daughter of the putative father, for recognition
and partition with accounting after the putative
father's death in the absence of any written
acknowledgment of paternity by the latter.
II
"Whether or not the Honorable Court of Appeals
erred in ruling that respondents had four years
from the attainment of minority to file an action
for recognition as provided in Art. 285 of the Civil
Code, in complete disregard of its repeal by the
[express] provisions of the Family Code and the
applicable jurisprudence as held by the
Honorable Court of Appeals.
III
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"Whether or not the petition for certiorari filed by


the petition[er] is fatally defective for failure to
implead the Court of Appeals as one of the
respondents." 9
The Court's Ruling
The Petition has no merit.
First and Second Issues:
Period to File Action for Recognition
Because the first and the second issues are
interrelated, we shall discuss them jointly.
Petitioner contends that respondent is barred
from filing an action for recognition, because
Article 285 of the Civil Code has been supplanted
by the provisions of the Family Code. She argues
that the latter Code should be given retroactive
effect, since no vested right would be impaired.
We do not agree. CaDATc
Article 285 of the Civil Code provides the period
for filing an action for recognition as follows:
"ART. 285. The action for the recognition of
natural children may be brought only during the
lifetime of the presumed parents, except in the
following cases:
(1) If the father or mother died during the
minority of the child, in which case the latter may
file the action before the expiration of four years
from the attainment of his majority;
(2) If after the death of the father or of the
mother a document should appear of which
nothing had been heard and in which either or
both parents recognize the child.
"In this case, the action must be commenced
within four years from the finding of the
document."
The two exceptions provided under the foregoing
provision, have however been omitted by Articles
172, 173 and 175 of the Family Code, which we
quote:
"ART. 172. The filiation of legitimate children is
established by any of the following:
(1) The record of birth appearing in the civil
register or a final judgment; or
(2) An admission of legitimate filiation in a public
document or a private handwritten instrument
and signed by the parent concerned.

"In the absence of the foregoing evidence, the


legitimate filiation shall be proved by:

enactment of the Family Code. Our answer is


affirmative.

(1) The open and continuous possession of the


status of a legitimate child; or

A vested right is defined as "one which is


absolute, complete and unconditional, to the
exercise of which no obstacle exists, and which is
immediate and perfect in itself and not
dependent upon a contingency . . .." 11
Respondent however contends that the filing of
an action for recognition is procedural in nature
and that "as a general rule, no vested right may
attach to [or] arise from procedural laws." 12

(2) Any other means allowed by the Rules of


Court and special laws."
"ART. 173. The action to claim legitimacy may be
brought by the child during his or her lifetime and
shall be transmitted to the heirs should the child
die during minority or in a state of insanity. In
these cases, the heirs shall have a period of five
years within which to institute the action.
"The action already commenced by the child shall
survive notwithstanding the death of either or
both of the parties."
"ART. 175. Illegitimate children may establish
their illegitimate filiation in the same way and on
the same, evidence as legitimate children.
"The action must be brought within the same
period specified in Article 173, except when the
action is based on the second paragraph of
Article 172, in which case the action may be
brought during the lifetime of the alleged parent."
Under the new law, an action for the recognition
of an illegitimate child must be brought within the
lifetime of the alleged parent. The Family Code
makes no distinction on whether the former was
still a minor when the latter died. Thus, the
putative parent is given by the new Code a
chance to dispute the claim, considering that
"illegitimate children are usually begotten and
raised in secrecy and without the legitimate
family being aware of their existence. . . . The
putative parent should thus be given the
opportunity to affirm or deny the child's filiation,
and this, he or she cannot do if he or she is
already dead." 10
Nonetheless, the Family Code provides the caveat
that rights that have already vested prior to its
enactment should not be prejudiced or impaired
as follows:
"ART. 255. This Code shall have retroactive effect
insofar as it does not prejudice or impair vested
or acquired rights in accordance with the Civil
Code or other laws."
The crucial issue to be resolved therefore is
whether Adrian's right to an action for
recognition, which was granted by Article 285 of
the Civil Code, had already vested prior to the
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Bustos v. Lucero 13 distinguished substantive


from procedural law in these words:
". . .. Substantive law creates substantive rights
and the two terms in this respect may be said to
be synonymous. Substantive rights is a term
which includes those rights which one enjoys
under the legal system prior to the disturbance of
normal relations. Substantive law is that part of
the law which creates, defines and regulates
rights, or which regulates the rights and duties
which give rise to a cause of action; that part of
the law which courts are established to
administer; as opposed to adjective or remedial
law, which prescribes the method of enforcing
rights or obtains redress for their invasion." 14
(Citations omitted)
Recently, in Fabian v. Desierto, 15 the Court laid
down the test for determining whether a rule is
procedural or substantive:
"[I]n determining whether a rule prescribed by
the Supreme Court, for the practice and
procedure of the lower courts, abridges, enlarges,
or modifies any substantive right, the test is
whether the rule really regulates procedure, that
is, the judicial process for enforcing rights and
duties recognized by substantive law and for
justly administering remedy and redress for a
disregard or infraction of them. If the rule takes
away a vested right, it is not procedural. If the
rule creates a right such as the right to appeal, it
may be classified as a substantive matter; but if it
operates as a means of implementing an existing
right then the rule deals merely with procedure."
16
Applying the foregoing jurisprudence, we hold
that Article 285 of the Civil Code is a substantive
law, as it gives Adrian the right to file his petition
for recognition within four years from attaining
majority age. Therefore, the Family Code cannot
impair or take Adrian's right to file an action for
recognition, because that right had already
vested prior to its enactment.

Uyguangco v. Court of Appeals 17 is not


applicable to the case at bar, because the
plaintiff therein sought recognition as an
illegitimate child when he was no longer a minor.
On the other hand, in Aruego Jr. v. Court of
Appeals 18 the Court ruled that an action for
recognition filed while the Civil Code was in effect
should not be affected by the subsequent
enactment of the Family Code, because the right
had already vested.
Not Limited to Natural Children
To be sure, Article 285 of the Civil Code refers to
the action for recognition of "natural" children.
Thus, petitioner contends that the provision
cannot be availed of by respondent, because at
the time of his conception, his parents were
impeded from marrying each other. In other
words, he is not a natural child.
A "natural child" is one whose parents, at the
time of conception, were not disqualified by any
legal impediment from marrying each other.
Thus, in De Santos v. Angeles, 19 the Court
explained:
"A child's parents should not have been
disqualified to marry each other at the time of
conception for him to qualify as a 'natural child.'"
20
A strict and literal interpretation of Article 285
has already been frowned upon by this Court in
the aforesaid case of Aruego, which allowed
minors to file a case for recognition even if their
parents were disqualified from marrying each
other. There, the Complaint averred that the late
Jose Aruego Sr., a married man, had an
extramarital liaison with Luz Fabian. Out of this
relationship were born two illegitimate children
who in 1983 filed an action for recognition. The
two children were born in 1962 and 1963, while
the alleged putative father died in 1982. In short,
at the time of their conception, the two children's
parents were legally disqualified from marrying
each other. The Court allowed the Complaint to
prosper, even though it had been filed almost a
year after the death of the presumed father. At
the time of his death, both children were still
minors.
Moreover, in the earlier case of Divinagracia v.
Rovira, 21 the Court said that the rules on
voluntary and compulsory acknowledgment of
natural children, as well as the prescriptive period
for filing such action, may likewise be applied to
spurious children. Pertinent portions of the case
are quoted hereunder:

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"The so-called spurious children, or illegitimate


children other than natural children, commonly
known as bastards, include those adulterous
children or those born out of wedlock to a married
woman cohabiting with a man other than her
husband or to a married man cohabiting with a
woman other than his wife. They are entitled to
support and successional rights. But their filiation
must be duly proven.
"How should their filiation be proven? Article 289
of the Civil Code allows the investigation of the
paternity or maternity or spurious children under
the circumstances specified in Articles 283 and
284 of the Civil Code. The implication is that the
rules on compulsory recognition of natural
children are applicable to spurious children.
"Spurious children should not be in a better
position than natural children. The rules on proof
of filiation of natural children or the rules on
voluntary and compulsory acknowledgment for
natural children may be applied to spurious
children.
"That does not mean that spurious children
should be acknowledged, as that term is used
with respect to natural children. What is simply
meant is that the grounds or instances for the
acknowledgment of natural children are utilized
to establish the filiation of spurious children.
"A spurious child may prove his filiation by means
of a record of birth, a will, a statement before a
court of record, or in any authentic writing. These
are the modes of voluntary recognition of natural
children.
"In case there is no evidence on the voluntary
recognition of the spurious child, then his filiation
may be established by means of the
circumstances or grounds for compulsory
recognition prescribed in the aforementioned
Articles 283 and 284.

"The prescriptive period for filing the action for


compulsory recognition in the case of natural
children, as provided for in Article 285 of the Civil
Code, applies to spurious children." 22 (Citations
omitted, italics supplied)
Thus, under the Civil Code, natural children have
superior successional rights over spurious ones.
23 However, Rovira treats them as equals with
respect to other rights, including the right to
recognition granted by Article 285.

To emphasize, illegitimate children who were still


minors at the time the Family Code took effect
and whose putative parent died during their
minority are thus given the right to seek
recognition (under Article 285 of the Civil Code)
for a period of up to four years from attaining
majority age. This vested right was not impaired
or taken away by the passage of the Family Code.
Indeed, our overriding consideration is to protect
the vested rights of minors who could not have
filed suit, on their own, during the lifetime of their
putative parents. As respondent aptly points out
in his Memorandum, 24 the State as parens
patriae should protect a minor's right. Born in
1981, Adrian was only seven years old when the
Family Code took effect and only twelve when his
alleged father died in 1993. The minor must be
given his day in court.
Third Issue:
Failure to Implead the CA
Under Section 4(a) of Rule 45 of the current Rules
of Court, it is no longer required to implead "the
lower courts or judges . . . either as petitioners or
respondents." Under Section 3, however, the
lower tribunal should still be furnished a copy of
the petition. Hence, the failure of petitioner to
implead the Court of Appeals as a party is not a
reversible error; it is in fact the correct procedure.
WHEREFORE, the Petition is hereby DENIED and
the assailed Decision and Resolution AFFIRMED.
Costs against petitioner.
SO ORDERED.
Melo, Sandoval-Gutierrez and Carpio, JJ., concur.
Vitug, J., took no part; Relationship with family.

FIRST DIVISION
[G.R. No. 124853. February 24, 1998.]
FRANCISCO L. JISON, petitioner, vs. COURT OF
APPEALS and MONINA JISON, respondents.
SYLLABUS
1. CIVIL LAW; FAMILY CODE; PATERNITY AND
FILIATION; PROVISIONS THEREOF CAN BE
GIVEN RETROACTIVE EFFECT SINCE NO
VESTED RIGHTS WERE IMPAIRED; CASE AT
BAR. The Family Code of the Philippines
(Executive Order No. 209) governs the present
controversy. As correctly cited by the Court of
Appeals, Uyguangco served as a judicial
confirmation of Article 256 of the Family Code
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regarding its retroactive effect unless there be


impairment of vested rights, which does not hold
true here, it appearing that neither the putative
parent nor the child has passed away and the
former having actually resisted the latter's claim
below.
2. ID.; ID.; ID.; AN ACTION TO ESTABLISH
ILLEGITIMATE FILIATION UNDER ARTICLE 172
REQUIRES HIGH STANDARD OF PROOF;
RATIONALE THEREOF. Under Article 175 of
the Family Code, illegitimate filiation, such as
MONINA's, may be established in the same way
and on the same evidence as that of legitimate
children. . . . For the success of an action to
establish illegitimate filiation under the second
paragraph, which MONINA relies upon given that
she has none of the evidence mentioned in the
first paragraph, a "high standard of proof" is
required. Specifically, to prove open and
continuous possession of the status of an
illegitimate child, there must be evidence of the
manifestation of the permanent intention of the
supposed father to consider the child as his, by
continuous and clear manifestations of parental
affection and care, which cannot be attributed to
pure charity. Such acts must be of such a nature
that they reveal not only the conviction of
paternity, but also the apparent desire to have
and treat the child as such in all relations in
society and in life, not accidentally, but
continuously.
By
"continuous"
is
meant
uninterrupted and consistent, but does not
require any particular length of time. The
foregoing standard of proof required to establish
one's filiation is founded on the principle that an
order for recognition and support may create an
unwholesome atmosphere or may be an irritant in
the family or lives of the parties, so that it must
be issued only if paternity or filiation is
established by clear and convincing evidence.
3. ID.; OBLIGATIONS AND CONTRACTS;
LACHES; ELEMENTS THEREOF. The essential
elements of laches are: (1) conduct on the part of
the defendant, or of one under whom he claims,
giving rise to the situation of which the complaint
seeks a remedy; (2) delay in asserting the
complainant's rights, the complainant having had
knowledge or notice of the defendant's conduct
as having been afforded an opportunity to
institute a suit; (3) lack of knowledge or notice on
the part of the defendant that the complaint
would assert the right in which he bases his suit;
and (4) injury or prejudice to the defendant in the
event relief is accorded to the complainant, or the
suit is not held barred. The last element is the
origin of the doctrine that stale demands apply
only where by reason of the lapse of time it would

be inequitable to allow a party to enforce his legal


rights.
4. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; PETITIONER MISERABLY
FAILED TO PROVE THAT LACHES SETS IN
INSPITE THE SUCCESSFUL SHOWING OF
RESPONDENTS, DELAY IN ASSERTING HER
CLAIM; CASE AT BAR. As FRANCISCO set up
laches as an affirmative defense, it was
incumbent upon him to prove the existence of its
elements. However, he only succeeded in
showing MONINA's delay in asserting her claim,
but miserably failed to prove the last element. In
any event, it must be stressed that laches is
based upon grounds of public policy which
requires, for the peace of society, the
discouragement of stale claims, and is principally
a question of the inequity or unfairness of
permitting a right or claim to be enforced or
asserted. There is no absolute rule as to what
constitutes laches; each case is to be determined
according to its particular circumstances. The
question of laches is addressed to the sound
discretion of the court, and since it is an equitable
doctrine, its application is controlled by equitable
considerations. It cannot be worked to defeat
justice or to perpetuate fraud and injustice. Since
the instant case involves paternity and filiation,
even if illegitimate, MONINA filed her action well
within the period granted her by a positive
provision of law. A denial then of her action on
ground of laches would clearly be inequitable and
unjust.
5.
REMEDIAL
LAW;
EVIDENCE;
ADMISSIBILITY; SCHOOL RECORDS, BIRTH
AND
BAPTISMAL
CERTIFICATES
NOT
COMPETENT EVIDENCE AS TO THE ISSUE OF
PATERNITY, WHEN THERE IS NO SHOWING
THAT
THE
PUTATIVE
FATHER
HAS
PARTICIPATED IN THE PREPARATION OF SAID
DOCUMENTS; CASE AT BAR. MONINA's
reliance on the certification issued by the Local
Civil Registrar concerning her birth is clearly
misplaced. It is settled that a certificate of live
birth purportedly identifying the putative father is
not competent evidence as to the issue of
paternity, when there is no showing that the
putative father had a hand in the preparation of
said certificates, and the Local Civil Registrar is
devoid of authority to record the paternity of an
illegitimate child upon the information of a third
person. Simply put, if the alleged father did not
intervene in the birth certificate, e.g., supplying
the information himself, the inscription of his
name by the mother or doctor or registrar is null
and void; the mere certificate by the registrar
without the signature of the father is not proof of
voluntary acknowledgment on the latter's part. In
like manner, FRANCISCO's lack of participation in
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the preparation of the baptismal certificates and


school
records
renders
these
documents
incompetent to prove paternity, the former being
competent merely to prove the administration of
the sacrament of baptism on the date so
specified.
6. ID.; ID.; CIRCUMSTANTIAL EVIDENCE;
INADMISSIBLE
EVIDENCE
CANNOT
BE
ADMITTED INDIRECTLY AS CIRCUMSTANTIAL
EVIDENCE. We likewise disagree with the
ruling of the Court of Appeals that the certificates
issued by the Local Civil Registrar and the
baptismal certificates may be taken as
circumstantial evidence to prove MONINA's
filiation. Since they are per se inadmissible in
evidence as proof of such filiation, they cannot be
admitted indirectly as circumstantial evidence to
prove the same.
7. ID.; ID.; EXCEPTIONS TO THE HEARSAY
RULE; FAMILY REPUTATION OR TRADITION
REGARDING PEDIGREE; VARIOUS NOTES
AND LETTERS WRITTEN BY PUTATIVE
FATHER'S RELATIVES ATTESTING FILIATION,
INADMISSIBLE
FOR
BEING
PRIVATE
DOCUMENTS NOT CONSTITUTING "FAMILY
POSSESSIONS"; CASE AT BAR. We hold that
the scope of the enumeration contained in the
second portion of this provision, in light of the
rule of ejusdem generis, is limited to objects
which are
commonly known as "family
possessions," or those articles which represent, in
effect, a family's joint statement of its belief as to
the pedigree of a person. These have been
described as objects "openly exhibited and well
known to the family," or those "which, if
preserved in a family, may be regarded as giving
a family tradition." Other examples of these
objects which are regarded as reflective of a
family's reputation or tradition regarding pedigree
are inscriptions on tombstones, monuments or
coffin plates. Plainly then, Exhibits S to V, as
private documents not constituting "family
possessions" as discussed above, may not be
admitted on the basis of Rule 130, Section 40.
Neither may these exhibits be admitted on the
basis of Rule 130, Section 41 regarding common
reputation, it having been observed that: [T]he
weight of authority appears to be in favor of the
theory that it is the general repute, the common
reputation in the family, and not the common
reputation in community, that is a material
element of evidence going to establish pedigree. .
. . [Thus] matters of pedigree may be proved by
reputation in the family, and not by reputation in
the neighborhood or vicinity, except where the
pedigree in question is marriage which may be
proved by common reputation in the community.

8. ID.; ID.; CREDIBILITY OF WITNESSES;


GUIDING PRINCIPLES IN ADJUDGING THE
CREDIBILITY OF A WITNESS; PETITIONER'S
TESTIMONY WHICH WAS COMPRISED OF
MERE
DENIALS,
RIFE
WITH
BARE,
UNSUBSTANTIATED
RESPONSES,
LACKS
CREDENCE; CASE AT BAR. Two (2) glaring
points in FRANCISCO's defense beg to be
addressed: First, that his testimony was
comprised of mere denials, rife with bare,
unsubstantiated responses such as "That is not
true," "I do not believe that," or "None that I
know." In declining then to lend credence to
FRANCISCO's testimony, we resort to a guiding
principle in adjudging the credibility of a witness
and the truthfulness of his statements, laid down
as early as 1921: The experience of courts and
the general observation of humanity teach us
that the natural limitations of our inventive
faculties are such that if a witness undertakes to
fabricate and deliver in court a false narrative
containing numerous details, he is almost certain
to fall into fatal inconsistencies, to make
statements which can be readily refuted, or to
expose in his demeanor the falsity of his
message. For this reason it will be found that
perjurers usually confine themselves to the
incidents immediately related to the principal fact
about which they testify, and when asked about
collateral facts by which their truthfulness could
be tested, their answers not infrequently take the
stereotyped form of such expressions as "I don't
know" or "I don't remember." . . .

married to a certain Lilia Lopez Jison since 1940.


At the end of 1945 or the start of 1946, however,
FRANCISCO impregnated Esperanza F. Amolar
(who was then employed as the nanny of
FRANCISCO's daughter, Lourdes). As a result,
MONINA was born on 6 August 1946, in Dingle,
Iloilo, and since childhood, had enjoyed the
continuous, implied recognition as an illegitimate
child of FRANCISCO by his acts and that of his
family. MONINA further alleged that FRANCISCO
gave her support and spent for her education,
such that she obtained a Master's degree,
became a certified public accountant (CPA) and
eventually, a Central Bank examiner. In view of
FRANCISCO's refusal to expressly recognize her,
MONINA prayed for a judicial declaration of her
illegitimate status and that FRANCISCO support
and treat her as such.

DECISION
DAVIDE, JR., J p:
This is a petition for review under Rule 45 of the
Rules of Court of the 27 April 1995 decision of the
Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CV No. 32860 1
which reversed the decision of Branch 24 of the
Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Iloilo City in Civil
Case No. 16373. 2 The latter dismissed the
complaint of private respondent Monina Jison
(hereafter MONINA) for recognition as an
illegitimate child of petitioner Francisco Jison
(hereafter FRANCISCO). cda

After MONINA filed her reply, 6 pre-trial was


conducted where the parties stipulated on the
following issues:

In issue is whether or not public respondent Court


of Appeals committed reversible error, which, in
this instance, necessitates an inquiry into the
facts. While as a general rule, factual issues are
not within the province of this Court,
nevertheless, in light of the conflicting findings of
facts of the trial court and the Court of Appeals,
this case falls under an exception to this rule. 3
In her complaint 4 filed with the RTC on 13 March
1985, MONINA alleged that FRANCISCO had been
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In his answer, 5 FRANCISCO alleged that he could


not have had sexual relations with Esperanza
Amolar during the period specified in the
complaint as she had ceased to be in his employ
as early as 1944, and did not know of her
whereabouts since then; further, he never
recognized MONINA, expressly or impliedly, as his
illegitimate child. As affirmative and special
defenses, FRANCISCO contended that MONINA
had no right or cause of action against him and
that her action was barred by estoppel, laches
and/or prescription. He thus prayed for dismissal
of the complaint and an award of damages due to
the malicious filing of the complaint.

1. Did Francisco Jison have any sexual relation[s]


with Esperanza Am[o]lar about the end of 1945 or
the start of 1946?
2. Is Monina Jison the recognized illegitimate
daughter of Francisco Jison by the latter's own
acts and those of his family?
3. Is Monina Jison barred from instituting or
prosecuting the present action by estoppel,
laches and/or prescription?
4. Damages. 7
At trial on the merits, MONINA presented a total
of eleven (11) witnesses, namely: herself, Ruben
Castellanes, Sr., Adela Casabuena, Arsenio
Duatin, Zafiro Ledesma, Danthea Lopez, Romeo
Bilbao,
Rudy
Tingson,
Alfredo
Baylosis,
Dominador Zavariz and Lope Amolar.

Ruben Castellanes, Sr., a 63-year old resident of


Iloilo City, testified that he had worked for
FRANCISCO for a total of six (6) years at Nelly
Garden, FRANCISCO's Iloilo residence. Towards
the end of the Japanese occupation, FRANCISCO's
wife suffered a miscarriage or abortion, thereby
depriving FRANCISCO of consortium; thereafter,
FRANCISCO's wife managed a nightclub on the
ground floor of Nelly Garden which operated daily
from 6:00 p.m. till 3:00 a.m. of the following day,
thereby allowing FRANCISCO free access to
MONINA's mother, Esperanza Amolar, who was
nicknamed Pansay.
Adela Casabuena, a 61-year old farmer, testified
that she served as the yaya (nanny) of Lourdes
from July 1946 up to February 1947. Although
Pansay had left Nelly Garden two (2) weeks
before Adela started working for the Jisons,
Pansay returned sometime in September 1946, or
about one month after she gave birth to MONINA,
to ask FRANCISCO for support. As a result, Pansay
and Lilia Jison, FRANCISCO's wife, quarreled in the
living room, and in the course thereof, Pansay
claimed that FRANCISCO was the father of her
baby. To which, Lilia replied: "I did not tell you to
make that baby so it is your fault." During the
quarrel which lasted from 10:30 till 11:00 a.m.,
FRANCISCO was supposedly inside the house
listening.
Arsenio Duatin, a 77-year old retired laborer,
testified that from 1947 until 1977, he worked as
FRANCISCO's houseboy at the latter's house on
12th Street, Capitol Subdivision, Bacolod City.
Arsenio met MONINA in 1967, when Felipe
Lagarto, the bookkeeper at Nelly Garden,
informed Arsenio that MONINA, FRANCISCO's
daughter, would arrive at Bacolod City with a
letter of introduction from Lagarto.
Initially, Arsenio identified seven (7) black-andwhite photographs (Exhs. X-5 to X-11) of MONINA,
8 and as he paid for the telephone bills, he
likewise identified six (6) telephone cards (Exhs.
G to L). Arsenio then declared that when MONINA
arrived in Bacolod City, she introduced herself to
him as FRANCISCO's daughter. She stayed at
FRANCISCO's house, but when the latter and his
wife would come over, Arsenio would "conceal
the presence of MONINA because Mrs. Jison did
not like to see her face." Once, Arsenio hid
MONINA in the house of FRANCISCO's sister, Mrs.
Luisa Jison Alano, in Silay City; another time, at
the residence of FRANCISCO's cousin, Mrs.
Concha Lopez Cuaycong. Finally, Arsenio declared
that the last time he saw MONINA was when she
left for Manila, after having finished her schooling
at La Salle College in Bacolod City.
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On re-direct and upon questions by the court,


Arsenio disclosed that it was FRANCISCO who
instructed that MONINA be hidden whenever
FRANCISCO and his wife were around; that
although FRANCISCO and MONINA saw each other
at the Bacolod house only once, they called each
other "through long distance;" and that MONINA
addressed FRANCISCO as "Daddy" during their
lone meeting at the Bacolod house and were
"affectionate" to each other. Arsenio likewise
declared that MONINA stayed at FRANCISCO's
Bacolod house twice: first for a month, then for
about a week the second time. On both
occasions, however, FRANCISCO and his wife
were abroad. Finally, Arsenio recalled that
FRANCISCO likewise bade Arsenio to treat
MONINA like his (FRANCISCO's) other daughters.
The testimony of Zafiro Ledesma, a 74-year old
banker and former mayor of Iloilo City, initially
touched on how he and his wife were related to
FRANCISCO, FRANCISCO's wife and MONINA.
Zafiro first identified Exhibit R, a diagram of the
family trees of the Jison and Lopez families, which
showed that former Vice-President Fernando
Lopez was the first cousin of FRANCISCO's wife,
then told the court that the family of VicePresident Lopez treated MONINA "very well
because she is considered a relative . . . by
reputation, by actual perception." Zafiro likewise
identified Exhibits X-13 to X-18, photographs
taken at the 14 April 1985 birthday celebration of
Mrs. Fernando Lopez, which showed MONINA with
the former Vice-President and other members of
the Lopez family.
Zafiro further testified that while MONINA lived
with Mrs. Cuaycong, the latter paid for some of
MONINA's school needs and even asked MONINA
to work in a hospital owned by Mrs. Cuaycong;
and that another first cousin of FRANCISCO's wife,
a certain Remedios Lopez Franco, likewise helped
MONINA with her studies and problems, and even
attended MONINA's graduation in 1978 when she
obtained a masteral degree in Business
Administration,
as
evidenced
by
another
photograph
(Exh.
X-12).
Moreover,
upon
Remedios'
recommendation,
MONINA
was
employed as a secretary at Merchant Financing
Company, which was managed by a certain
Danthea Lopez, the wife of another first cousin of
FRANCISCO's wife and among whose directors
were Zafiro himself, his wife and Danthea's
husband. In closing, Zafiro identified MONINA's
Social Security Record (Exh. W), which was signed
by Danthea as employer and where MONINA
designated Remedios as the beneficiary.
Danthea Lopez, a 58-year old housekeeper,
declared that FRANCISCO was the first cousin of

her husband, Eusebio D. Lopez; and that she


came to know MONINA in the latter part of 1965
when Remedios Franco recommended MONINA
for employment at Merchant Financing Co., which
Danthea managed at that time. Remedios
introduced MONINA to Danthea "as being
reputedly the daughter of Mr. Frank Jison;" and on
several occasions thereafter, Remedios made
Danthea and the latter's husband understand
that MONINA was "reputedly the daughter of
[FRANCISCO]." While MONINA worked at Merchant
Financing, Danthea knew that MONINA lived with
Remedios; however, in the latter part of 1966, as
Remedios left for Manila and MONINA was still
studying at San Agustin University, Danthea and
her husband invited MONINA to live with them.
During MONINA's 6-month stay with them, she
was not charged for board and lodging and was
treated as a relative, not a mere employee, all
owing to what Remedios had said regarding
MONINA's filiation. As Danthea understood,
MONINA resigned from Merchant Financing as she
was called by Mrs. Cuaycong, a first cousin of
Danthea's husband who lived in Bacolod City.
Romeo Bilbao, a 43-year old seaman, testified
that he had worked for FRANCISCO from 1969 up
to 1980 at Nelly Garden in various capacities: as
a procurement officer, hacienda overseer and,
later, as hacienda administrator. Sometime in
May, 1971, Romeo saw and heard MONINA ask
"her daddy" (meaning FRANCISCO) for the money
he promised to give her, but FRANCISCO
answered that he did not have the money to give,
then told MONINA to go see Mr. Jose Cruz in
Bacolod City. Then in the middle of September
that year, FRANCISCO told Romeo to pick up Mr.
Cruz at the Iloilo pier and bring him to the office
of Atty. Benjamin Tirol. At said office, Atty. Tirol,
Mr. Cruz and MONINA entered a room while
Romeo waited outside. When they came out, Atty.
Tirol had papers for MONINA to sign, but she
refused. Atty. Tirol said that a check would be
released to MONINA if she signed the papers, so
MONINA acceded, although Atty. Tirol intended
not to give MONINA a copy of the document she
signed. Thereafter, Mr. Cruz gave MONINA a
check (Exh. Q), then MONINA grabbed a copy of
the document she signed and ran outside. Romeo
then brought Mr. Cruz to Nelly Garden. As to his
motive for testifying, Romeo stated that he
wanted to help MONINA be recognized as
FRANCISCO's daughter.

Rudy Tingson, a 45-year old antique dealer,


testified that in 1963-1964, he was employed by
FRANCISCO's wife at the Baguio Military Institute
in Baguio City; then in 1965, Rudy worked at
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FRANCISCO's office at Nelly Garden recording


hacienda expenses, typing vouchers and office
papers, and, at times, acting as paymaster for
the haciendas. From the nature of his work, Rudy
knew the persons receiving money from
FRANCISCO's office, and clearly remembered that
in 1965, as part of his job, Rudy gave MONINA her
allowance from FRANCISCO four (4) times, upon
instructions of a certain Mr. Lagarto to give
MONINA P15.00 a month. Rudy likewise recalled
that he first met MONINA in 1965, and that she
would go to Nelly Garden whenever FRANCISCO's
wife was not around. On some of these occasions,
MONINA would speak with and address
FRANCISCO as "Daddy," without objection from
FRANCISCO. In fact, in 1965, Rudy saw
FRANCISCO give MONINA money thrice. Rudy
further declared that in April 1965, FRANCISCO's
office paid P250.00 to Funeraria Bernal for the
funeral expenses of MONINA's mother. Finally, as
to Rudy's motives for testifying, he told the court
that he simply wanted to help bring out the truth
"and nothing but the truth," and that MONINA's
filiation was common knowledge among the
people in the office at Nelly Garden.
On re-direct, Rudy declared that the moneys
given by FRANCISCO's office to MONINA were not
reflected in the books of the office, but were kept
in a separate book, as Mr. Lagarto explained that
FRANCISCO's wife and children "should not know
[of] this." Rudy further revealed that as to the
garden "meetings" between FRANCISCO and
MONINA, Rudy saw MONINA kiss FRANCISCO on
the cheek both upon arriving and before leaving,
and FRANCISCO's reaction upon seeing her was to
smile and say in the Visayan dialect: "Kamusta ka
iha?" ("How are you, daughter?"); and that
MONINA was free to go inside the house as the
household staff knew of her filiation, and that,
sometimes, MONINA would join them for lunch.
Alfredo Baylosis, a 62-year old retired accountant,
testified that he worked for FRANCISCO at Central
Santos-Lopez in Iloilo from 1951 up to 1961, then
at Nelly Garden from 1961 until 1972. Alfredo first
served FRANCISCO as a bookkeeper, then when
Mr. Lagarto died in 1967 or 1969, Alfredo
replaced Mr. Lagarto as office manager.
Alfredo knew MONINA since 1961 as she used to
go to Nelly Garden to claim her P15.00 monthly
allowance given upon FRANCISCO's standing
order. Alfredo further declared that MONINA's
filiation was pretty well-known in the office; that
he had seen MONINA and FRANCISCO go from the
main building to the office, with FRANCISCO's arm
on MONINA's shoulder; and that the office paid
for the burial expenses of Pansay, but this was
not recorded in the books in order to hide it from

FRANCISCO's wife. Alfredo also disclosed that the


disbursements for MONINA's allowance started in
1961 and were recorded in a separate cash book.
In 1967, the allowances ceased when MONINA
stopped schooling and was employed in Bacolod
City with Miller, Cruz & Co., which served as
FRANCISCO's accountant-auditor. Once when
Alfredo went to the offices of Miller, Cruz & Co. to
see the manager, Mr. Atienza, and arrange for the
preparation of FRANCISCO's income tax return,
Alfredo chanced upon MONINA. When Alfredo
asked her how she came to work there, she
answered
that
"her
Daddy,"
FRANCISCO,
recommended her, a fact confirmed by Mr.
Atienza. Alfredo then claimed that Mr. Jose Cruz, a
partner at Miller, Cruz & Co., was the most
trusted man of FRANCISCO.
Dominador Savariz, a 55-year old caretaker,
testified that he worked as FRANCISCO's
houseboy at Nelly Garden from November 1953
up to 1965. One morning in April 1954, MONINA
and her mother Pansay went to Nelly Garden and
spoke with FRANCISCO for about an hour, during
which time, Dominador was vacuuming the
carpet about six (6) to seven (7) meters away.
Due to the noise of the vacuum cleaner,
FRANCISCO and MONINA spoke in loud voices,
thus Dominador overheard their conversation. As
FRANCISCO asked Pansay why they came, Pansay
answered that they came to ask for the
"sustenance" of his child MONINA. FRANCISCO
then touched MONINA's head and asked: "How
are you Hija?," to which MONINA answered:
"Good morning, Daddy." After FRANCISCO told
Pansay and MONINA to wait, he pulled something
from his wallet and said to Pansay. "I am giving
this for the child."
In May 1954, Dominador saw MONINA at Mr.
Lagarto's office where Dominador was to get "the
day's expenses," while MONINA was claiming her
allowance from Mr. Diasnes. The next month,
Dominador saw MONINA at Nelly Garden and
heard in the office that MONINA was there to get
her allowance "from her Daddy." In December
1960, Dominador saw MONINA at Nelly Garden, in
the room of Don Vicente (father of FRANCISCO's
wife), where she asked for a Christmas gift "and
she was calling Don Vicente, Lolo (grandfather)."
At that time, FRANCISCO and his wife were not
around. Then sometime in 1961, when
Dominador went to Mr. Lagarto's office to get the
marketing expenses, Dominador saw MONINA
once more claiming her allowance.
Dominador further testified that in February
1966, after he had stopped working for
FRANCISCO, Dominador was at Mrs. Franco's
residence as she recommended him for
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employment with her sister, Mrs. Concha


Cuaycong. There, he saw MONINA, who was then
about 15 years old, together with Mrs. Franco's
daughter and son. Mrs. Franco pointed at MONINA
and asked Dominador if he knew who MONINA
was. Dominador answered that MONINA was
FRANCISCO's daughter with Pansay, and then
Mrs. Franco remarked that MONINA was staying
with her (Mrs. Franco) and that she was sending
MONINA to school at the University of San
Agustin.
Lope Amolar, a 50-year old resident of Dingle,
Iloilo, and the younger brother of Esperanza
Amolar (Pansay), testified that he worked for
FRANCISCO as a houseboy from March to
November 1945 at Nelly Garden. Thereafter,
FRANCISCO sent Lope to work at Elena
Apartments in Manila. By November 1945, Pansay
was also working at Elena Apartments, where she
revealed to Lope that FRANCISCO impregnated
her. Lope then confronted FRANCISCO, who told
Lope "don't get hurt and don't cause any trouble,
because I am willing to support your Inday Pansay
and my child." Three (3) days after this
confrontation, Lope asked for and received
permission from FRANCISCO to resign because he
(Lope) was hurt.
On 21 October 1986, MONINA herself took the
witness stand. At that time, she was 40 years old
and a Central Bank Examiner. She affirmed that
as evidenced by certifications from the Office of
the Local Civil Registrar (Exhs. E and F) and
baptismal certificates (Exhs. C and D), she was
born on 6 August 1946 in Barangay Tabugon,
Dingle, Iloilo, to Esperanza Amolar (who passed
away on 20 April 1965) and FRANCISCO. 9
MONINA first studied at Sagrado where she
stayed as a boarder. While at Sagrado from 1952
until 1955 (up to Grade 4), her father,
FRANCISCO, paid for her tuition fees and other
school expenses. She either received the money
from FRANCISCO or from Mr. Lagarto, or saw
FRANCISCO give money to her mother, or Mr.
Lagarto would pay Sagrado directly. After
Sagrado, MONINA studied in different schools, 10
but FRANCISCO continuously answered for her
schooling. prLL
For her college education, MONINA enrolled at the
University of Iloilo, but she later dropped due to
an
accident
which
required
a
week's
hospitalization. Although FRANCISCO paid for part
of the hospitalization expenses, her mother
shouldered most of them. In 1963, she enrolled at
the University of San Agustin, where she stayed
with Mrs. Franco who paid for MONINA's tuition
fees. However, expenses for books, school
supplies, uniforms and the like were shouldered

by FRANCISCO. At the start of each semester,


MONINA would show FRANCISCO that she was
enrolled, then he would ask her to canvass prices,
then give her the money she needed. After
finishing two (2) semesters at University of San
Agustin, as evidenced by her transcript of records
(Exh. Z showing that FRANCISCO was listed as
Parent/Guardian [Exh. Z-1]), she transferred to
"De Paul College," just in front of Mrs. Franco's
house, and studied there for a year. Thereafter,
MONINA enrolled at Western Institute of
Technology (WIT), where she obtained a
bachelor's degree in Commerce in April 1967.
During her senior year, she stayed with Eusebio
and Danthea Lopez at Hotel Kahirup, owned by
said couple. She passed the CPA board exams in
1974, and took up an M.B.A. at De La Salle
University as evidenced by her transcript (Exh.
AA), wherein FRANCISCO was likewise listed as
"Guardian" (Exhs. AA-1 and AA-2).
MONINA enumerated the different members of
the household staff at Nelly Garden, to wit: Luz,
the household cook; the houseboys Silvestre and
Doming; the housemaid Natang; the yaya of the
adopted triplets, Deling; the yaya of Lolo Vicente,
Adelina;
and
others.
MONINA
likewise
enumerated the members of the office staff
(Messrs. Baylosis, Lagarto, Tingson, Diasnes,
Jalandoni, Supertisioso, Doroy, and others), and
identified them from a photograph marked as
Exhibit X-2. She then corroborated the prior
testimony regarding her employment at Merchant
Financing Co., and her having lived at Hotel
Kahirup and at Mrs. Cuaycong's residence in
Bacolod City, while working at the hospital owned
by Mrs. Cuaycong.
MONINA further testified that in March 1968, she
went to Manila and met FRANCISCO at Elena
Apartments at the corner of Romero and Salas
Streets, Ermita. She told FRANCISCO that she was
going for a vacation in Baguio City with Mrs.
Franco's mother, with whom she stayed up to
June 1968. Upon her return from Baguio City,
MONINA told FRANCISCO that she wanted to
work, so the latter arranged for her employment
at Miller & Cruz in Bacolod City. MONINA went to
Bacolod City, was interviewed by Mr. Jose Cruz, a
partner at Miller & Cruz, who told her she would
start working first week of September, sans
examination. She resigned from Miller & Cruz in
1971 and lived with Mrs. Cuaycong at her Forbes
Park residence in Makati. MONINA went to see
FRANCISCO, told him that she resigned and asked
him for money to go to Spain, but FRANCISCO
refused as she could not speak Spanish and
would not be able find a job. The two quarreled
and FRANCISCO ordered a helper to send MONINA
out of the house. In the process, MONINA broke
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many glasses at the pantry and cut her hand,


after which, FRANCISCO hugged her, gave her
medicine, calmed her down, asked her to return
to Bacolod City and promised that he would give
her the money.

MONINA returned to Bacolod City by plane, using


a Filipinas Orient Airways plane ticket (Exh. M)
which FRANCISCO gave. She called Mr. Cruz, then
Atty. Tirol, as instructed by Mr. Cruz. These calls
were evidenced by PLDT long distance toll cards
(Exhs. G to L), with annotations at the back
reading: "charged and paid under the name of
Frank L. Jison" and were signed by Arsenio Duatin
(Exhs. G-1 to L-1). PLDT issued a certification as
to the veracity of the contents of the toll cards
(Exh. BB). Likewise introduced in evidence was a
letter of introduction prepared by Mr. Cruz
addressed to Atty. Tirol, on MONINA's behalf (Exh.
N).
MONINA also declared that Atty. Tirol then told
her that she would have to go to Iloilo and sign a
certain affidavit, before Mr. Cruz would turn over
the money promised by FRANCISCO. She went to
Atty. Tirol's office in Iloilo, but after going over the
draft of the affidavit, refused to sign it as it stated
that she was not FRANCISCO's daughter. She
explained that all she had agreed with
FRANCISCO was that he would pay for her fare to
go abroad, and that since she was a little girl, she
knew about her illegitimacy. She started crying,
begged Atty. Tirol to change the affidavit, to
which Atty. Tirol responded that he was also a
father and did not want this to happen to his
children as they could not be blamed for being
brought into the world. She then wrote a letter
(Exh. O) to FRANCISCO and sent it to the latter's
Forbes Park residence (Bauhinia Place) by JRS
courier service (Exhs. O-5 to O-7). MONINA
subsequently met FRANCISCO in Bacolod City
where they discussed the affidavit which she
refused to sign. FRANCISCO told her that the
affidavit was for his wife, that in case she heard
about MONINA going abroad, the affidavit would
"keep her peace."
MONINA then narrated that the first time she
went to Atty. Tirol's office, she was accompanied
by one Atty. Fernando Divinagracia, who advised
her that the affidavit (Exh. P) 11 would
"boomerang" against FRANCISCO "as it is
contrary to law." MONINA returned to Bacolod
City, then met with Atty. Tirol once more to
reiterate her plea, but Atty. Tirol did not relent.
Thus, on the morning of 20 or 21 September
1971, she signed the affidavit as she was jobless
and needed the money to support herself and

finish her studies. In exchange for signing the


document, MONINA received a Bank of Asia check
for P15,000.00 (Exh. Q), which was less than the
P25,000.00 which FRANCISCO allegedly promised
to give. As Atty. Tirol seemed hesitant to give her
a copy of the affidavit after notarizing it, MONINA
merely grabbed a copy and immediately left.
MONINA then prepared to travel abroad, for which
purpose, she procured letters of introduction
(Exhs. S and T) from a cousin, Mike Alano (son of
FRANCISCO's elder sister Luisa); and an uncle,
Emilio Jison (FRANCISCO's elder brother),
addressed to another cousin, Beth Jison (Emilio's
daughter), for Beth to assist MONINA. Exhibit S
contained a statement (Exh. S-1) expressly
recognizing that MONINA was FRANCISCO's
daughter. Ultimately though, MONINA decided not
to go abroad, opting instead to spend the
proceeds of the P15,000.00 check for her CPA
review, board exam and graduate studies. After
finishing her graduate studies, she again planned
to travel abroad, for which reason, she obtained a
letter of introduction from former Vice President
Fernando Lopez addressed to then United States
Consul Vernon McAnnich (Exh. V).
As to other acts tending to show her filiation,
MONINA related that on one occasion, as
FRANCISCO's wife was going to arrive at the
latter's Bacolod City residence, FRANCISCO called
Arsenio Duatin and instructed Arsenio to hide
MONINA. Thus, MONINA stayed with Mrs. Luisa
Jison for the duration of the stay of FRANCISCO's
wife. MONINA also claimed that she knew Vice
President Fernando Lopez and his wife, Mariquit,
even before starting to go to school. Thus,
MONINA asked for a recommendation letter (Exh.
U) from Mrs. Mariquit Lopez for possible
employment with Mrs. Rosario Lopez Cooper,
another second cousin of FRANCISCO. In Exhibit
U, Mrs. Lopez expressly recognized MONINA as
FRANCISCO's daughter. As additional proof of her
close relationship with the family of Vice
President Lopez, MONINA identified photographs
taken at a birthday celebration on 14 April 1985.
MONINA finally claimed that she knew the three
(3) children of FRANCISCO by wife, namely,
Lourdes, Francisco, Jr. (Junior) and Elena, but
MONINA had met only Lourdes and Junior.
MONINA's testimony dealt lengthily on her
dealings with Junior and the two (2) occasions
when she met with Lourdes. The last time
MONINA saw FRANCISCO was in March 1979,
when she sought his blessings to get married.
In his defense, FRANCISCO offered his deposition
taken before then Judge Romeo Callejo of the
Regional Trial Court of Manila Branch 48. As
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additional witnesses, FRANCISCO presented


Nonito
Jalandoni,
Teodoro
Zulla,
Iigo
Supertisioso, Lourdes Ledesma, Jose Cruz and
Dolores Argenal.
FRANCISCO declared that Pansay's employment
ceased as of October, 1944, and that while
employed by him, Pansay would sleep with the
other female helpers on the first floor of his
residence, while he, his wife and daughter slept in
a room on the second floor. At that time, his
household staff was composed of three (3) female
workers and two (2) male workers. After Pansay
left in October 1944, she never communicated
with him again, neither did he know of her
whereabouts. FRANCISCO staunchly denied
having had sexual relations with Pansay and
disavowed any knowledge about MONINA's birth.
In the same vein, he denied having paid for
MONINA's tuition fees, in person or otherwise,
and asserted that he never knew that Mr. Lagarto
paid for these fees. Moreover, FRANCISCO could
not believe that Lagarto would pay for these fees
despite absence of instructions or approval from
FRANCISCO. He likewise categorically denied that
he told anyone, be it Danthea Lopez, Zafiro
Ledesma, Concha Cuaycong or Remedios Franco,
that MONINA was his daughter.
FRANCISCO also disclosed that upon his return
from the United States in 1971, he fired Alfredo
Baylosis upon discovering that Alfredo had taken
advantage of his position during the former's
absence. FRANCISCO likewise fired Rudy Tingson
and Romeo Bilbao, but did not give the reasons
therefor.
Finally,
FRANCISCO
denied
knowledge
of
MONINA's long distance calls from his Bacolod
residence; nevertheless, when he subsequently
discovered this, he fired certain people in his
office for their failure to report this anomaly. As
regards the caretaker of his Bacolod residence,
FRANCISCO explained that since MONINA lived at
Mrs. Cuaycong's residence, the caretaker thought
that he could allow people who lived at the
Cuaycong residence to use the facilities at his
(FRANCISCO's) house.
Nonito Jalandoni, bookkeeper and paymaster at
Nelly's Garden from 1963 up to 1974, then from
1980 up to 1986, the assistant overseer of
Hacienda Lopez, testified that he did not know
MONINA; that he learned of her only in June 1988,
when he was informed by FRANCISCO that
MONINA had sued him; and that he never saw
MONINA at Nelly's Garden, neither did he know of
any instructions for anyone at Nelly's Garden to
give money to MONINA.

Teodoro Zulla, FRANCISCO's bookkeeper and


paymaster from 1951 up to 1986, testified that
FRANCISCO dismissed Alfredo Baylosis due to
certain unspecified discrepancies; and that he
never saw MONINA receive funds from either Mr.
Lagarto or Mr. Baylosis; Upon questions from the
trial court, however, Teodoro admitted that he
prepared vouchers for only one of FRANCISCO's
haciendas, and not vouchers pertaining to the
latter's personal expenses.
Iigo Supertisioso testified that he worked for
FRANCISCO at Nelly's Garden from 1964 up to
1984 as a field inspector, paymaster, cashier and,
eventually, officer-in-charge (OIC). He confirmed
Alfredo Baylosis' dismissal due to these
unspecified irregularities, then denied that
FRANCISCO ever ordered that MONINA be given
her allowance. Likewise, Iigo never heard
FRANCISCO mention that MONINA was his
(FRANCISCO's) daughter.
Lourdes
Ledesma,
FRANCISCO's
daughter,
testified that she saw (but did not know) MONINA
at the Our Lady of Mercy Hospital, on the
occasion of the birth of Lourdes' first son, Mark.
Over lunch one day, Lourdes' aunt casually
introduced Lourdes and MONINA to each other,
but they were referred to only by their first
names. Then sometime in 1983 or 1984, MONINA
allegedly went to Lourdes' house in Sta. Clara
Subdivision requesting for a letter of introduction
or referral as MONINA was then job-hunting.
However, Lourdes did not comply with the
request.
Jose Cruz, a partner at Miller, Cruz & Co., testified
that MONINA worked at Miller & Cruz from 1968
up to 1971, however, he did not personally
interview her before she was accepted for
employment. Moreover, MONINA underwent the
usual screening procedure before being hired.
Jose recalled that one of the accountants, a
certain Mr. Atienza, reported that MONINA
claimed to be FRANCISCO's daughter. Jose then
told Mr. Atienza to speak with MONINA and see if
he (Mr. Atienza) could stop her from spreading
this rumor. Mr. Atienza reported that he spoke
with MONINA, who told him that she planned to
leave for the United States and needed
P20,000.00 for that purpose, and in exchange,
she would sign a document disclaiming filiation
with FRANCISCO. Thus, Jose instructed Mr. Atienza
to request that MONINA meet with Jose, and at
that meeting, MONINA confirmed Mr. Atienza's
report.
Jose
then
informed
Atty.
Tirol,
FRANCISCO's personal lawyer, about the matter.
Atty. Tirol told Jose to send MONINA and her
lawyer to his (Atty. Tirol's) office in Iloilo. Jose then
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wrote out a letter of introduction for MONINA


addressed to Atty. Tirol. Jose relayed Atty. Tirol's
message to MONINA through Mr. Atienza, then
later, Atty. Tirol told Jose to go to Iloilo with a
check for P15,000.00. Jose complied, and at Atty.
Tirol's office, Jose saw MONINA, Atty. Tirol and his
secretary reading some documents. MONINA then
expressed her willingness to sign the document,
sans revisions. Jose alleged that he drew the
P15,000.00 from his personal funds, subject to
reimbursement
from
and
due
to
an
understanding with FRANCISCO.

Dolores Argenal, a househelper at Nelly Garden


from May 1944 up to May 1946, testified that she
knew that Pansay was Lourdes' nanny; that
Lourdes slept in her parents' room; that she had
not seen FRANCISCO give special treatment to
Pansay, that there was no "unusual relationship"
between FRANCISCO and Pansay, and if there was
any, Dolores would have easily detected it since
she slept in the same room as Pansay. Dolores
further declared that whenever FRANCISCO's wife
was out of town, Pansay would bring Lourdes
downstairs at nighttime, and that Pansay would
not sleep in the room where FRANCISCO slept.
Finally, Dolores declared that Pansay stopped
working for FRANCISCO and his wife in October,
1944.
The reception of evidence having been
concluded, the parties filed their respective
memoranda.
It need be recalled that Judge Catalino
Castaeda, Jr. presided over trial up to 21 October
1986, thereby hearing only the testimonies of
MONINA's witnesses and about half of MONINA's
testimony on direct examination. Judge Norberto
E. Devera, Jr. heard the rest of MONINA's
testimony and those of FRANCISCO's witnesses.
In its decision of 12 November 1990 12 the trial
court, through Judge Devera, dismissed the
complaint with costs against MONINA. In the
opening paragraph thereof, it observed:
This is a complaint for recognition of an
illegitimate child instituted by plaintiff Monina
Jison against defendant Francisco Jison. This
complaint was filed on March 13, 1985 at the
time when plaintiff, reckoned from her date of
birth, was already thirty-nine years old.
Noteworthy also is the fact that it was instituted
twenty years after the death of plaintiff's mother,
Esperanza Amolar. For the years between
plaintiffs birth and Esperanza's death, no action
of any kind was instituted against defendant

either by plaintiff, her mother Esperanza or the


latter's parents. Neither had plaintiff brought such
an action against defendant immediately upon
her mother's death on April 20, 1965, considering
that she was then already nineteen years old or,
within a reasonable time thereafter. Twenty years
more had to supervene before this complaint was
eventually instituted.
The trial court then proceeded to discuss the four
issues stipulated at pre-trial, without, however,
summarizing the testimonies of the witnesses nor
referring to the testimonies of the witnesses
other than those mentioned in the discussion of
the issues.
The trial court resolved the first issue in the
negative, holding that it was improbable for
witness Lope Amolar to have noticed that Pansay
was pregnant upon seeing her at the Elena
Apartments in November 1945, since Pansay was
then only in her first month of pregnancy; that
there was no positive assertion that "copulation
did indeed take place between Francisco and
Esperanza;" and that MONINA's attempt to show
opportunity on the part of FRANCISCO failed to
consider "that there was also the opportunity for
copulation between Esperanza and one of the
several domestic helpers admittedly also residing
at Nelly's Garden at that time." The RTC also
ruled that the probative value of the birth and
baptismal certificates of MONINA paled in light of
jurisprudence, especially when the misspellings
therein were considered.
The trial court likewise resolved the second issue
in the negative, finding that MONINA's evidence
thereon "may either be one of three categories,
namely: hearsay evidence, incredulous evidence,
or self-serving evidence." To the first category
belonged the testimonies of Adela Casabuena
and Alfredo Baylosis, whose knowledge of
MONINA's filiation was based, as to the former, on
"utterances of defendant's wife Lilia and
Esperanza allegedly during the heat of their
quarrel," while as to the latter, Alfredo's
conclusion was based "from the rumors going
[around] that plaintiff is defendant's daughter,
from his personal observation of plaintiff's facial
appearance which he compared with that of
defendant's and from the way the two (plaintiff
and defendant) acted and treated each other on
one occasion that he had then opportunity to
closely observe them together." To the second
category belonged that of Dominador Savariz, as:
At each precise time that Esperanza allegedly
visited Nelly's Garden and allegedly on those
occasions when defendant's wife, Lilia was in
Manila, this witness was there and allegedly
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heard pieces of conversation between defendant


and Esperanza related to the paternity of the
latter's child. . .
The RTC then placed MONINA's testimony
regarding the acts of recognition accorded her by
FRANCISCO's relatives under the third category,
since the latter were never presented as
witnesses, for which reason the trial court
excluded the letters from FRANCISCO's relatives
(Exhs. S to V).
As to the third issue, the trial court held that
MONINA was not barred by prescription for it was
of "the perception . . . that the benefits of Article
268 accorded to legitimate children may be
availed of or extended to illegitimate children in
the same manner as the Family Code has so
provided;" or by laches, "which is [a] creation of
equity applied only to bring equitable results, and
. . . addressed to the sound discretion of the court
[and] the circumstances [here] would show that
whether plaintiff filed this case immediately upon
the death of her mother Esperanza in 1965 or
twenty years thereafter in 1985, . . . there seems
to be no inequitable result to defendant as
related to the situation of plaintiff."
The RTC ruled however, that MONINA was barred
by estoppel by deed because of the affidavit
(Exh. P/Exh. 2) which she signed "when she was
already twenty-five years, a professional and . . .
under the able guidance of counsel."
Finally. the RTC denied FRANCISCO's claim for
damages, finding that MONINA did not file the
complaint with malice, she having been
"propelled by an honest belief, founded on
probable cause."
MONINA seasonably appealed to the Court of
Appeals (CA-G.R. CV No. 32860) and sought
reversal of the trial court's decision on the
grounds that:
I
THE
TRIAL
COURT
WAS
ERRONEOUSLY
PREDISPOSED TO ADJUDGE THIS CASE AGAINST
APPELLANT DUE TO ITS MISPERCEPTION THAT
APPELLANT'S DELAY IN FILING HER COMPLAINT
WAS FATAL TO HER CASE.
II
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN ITS REJECTION OF
THE TESTIMONIES OF APPELLANT'S WITNESSES
AS TAILOR-MADE, INADEQUATE AND INCREDIBLE.
III

THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN ITS REJECTION OF


THE ADMISSIBILITY OF THE CERTIFIED COPIES OF
PUBLIC DOCUMENTS PRESENTED BY APPELLANT
AS PART OF HER EVIDENCE.

In so ruling, the Court of Appeals observed that


the testimonies of Lope Amolar, Adela Casabuena
and Dominador Savariz were already sufficient to
establish MONINA's filiation:

IV

As adverted to earlier, the trial court discredited


Lope Amolar's testimony by saying that Lope
could not have detected Esperanza's pregnant
state in November, 1945 since at that point in
time [sic] she was still in the initial stage of
pregnancy. Apparently, the trial court paid more
emphasis on the date mentioned by Lope Amolar
than on the tenor and import of his testimony.
As . . . Lope . . . was asked about an incident that
transpired more than 41 years back; [u]nder the
circumstances, it is unreasonable to expect that
Lope could still be dead right on the specific
month in 1945 that [he] met and confronted his
sister. At any rate, what is important is not the
month that they met but the essence of his
testimony that his sister pointed to their
employer [FRANCISCO] as the one responsible for
her pregnancy, and that upon being confronted,
[FRANCISCO] assured him of support for
Esperanza and their child. It would appear then
that in an attempt to find fault with Lope's
testimony, the trial court has fallen oblivious to
the fact that even [FRANCISCO], in his deposition,
did not deny that he was confronted by Lope
about what he had done to Esperanza, during
which he unequivocally acknowledged paternity
by assuring Lope of support for both Esperanza
and their child.

THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN ITS REQUIREMENT


THAT A WITNESS TO THE ACTUAL ACT OF
COPULATION BETWEEN THE APPELLEE AND
APPELLANT'S MOTHER SHOULD HAVE POSITIVELY
TESTIFIED TO SAID EFFECT.
V
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN REJECTING THE
ADMISSIBILITY OF THE DULY IDENTIFIED NOTES
AND LETTER OF THE RELATIVES OF THE APPELLEE
AS HEARSAY.
VI
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN CONCLUDING THAT
APPELLANT'S AFFIDAVIT (EXH. P) SERVED AS A
BAR AGAINST HER CLAIM FOR RECOGNITION
INSTEAD OF REINFORCING SAID CLAIM. 13
Expectedly, FRANCISCO refuted these alleged
errors in his Appellee's Brief. 14
In its decision of 27 April 1995, 15 the Court of
Appeals initially declared that as no vested or
acquired rights were affected, the instant case
was governed by Article 175, in relation to
Articles 172 and 173, of the Family Code. 16
While the Court of Appeals rejected the
certifications issued by the Local Civil Registrar of
Dingle, Iloilo (Exhs. E and F) as FRANCISCO did
not sign them, said court focused its discussion
on the other means by which illegitimate filiation
could be proved, i.e., the open and continuous
possession of the status of an illegitimate child
or, by any other means allowed by the Rules of
Court and special laws, such as "the baptismal
certificate of the child, a judicial admission, a
family bible wherein the name of the child is
entered, common reputation respecting pedigree,
admission
by
silence,
testimonies
of
witnesses . . ." 17 To the Court of Appeals, the
"bottom line issue" was whether or not MONINA
established
her
filiation
as
FRANCISCO's
illegitimate daughter by preponderance of
evidence, as to which issue said court found:
[N]ot just preponderant but overwhelming
evidence on record to prove that [MONINA] is the
illegitimate daughter of [FRANCISCO] and that
she had continuously enjoyed such status by
direct acts of [FRANCISCO] and/or his relatives.
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The Court of Appeals further noted that


Casabuena and Savariz "testified on something
that they personally observed or witnessed,"
which matters FRANCISCO "did not deny or
refute." Finally, said court aptly held:

Taking
into
account
all
the
foregoing
uncontroverted testimonies . . . let alone such
circumstantial evidence as [MONINA's] Birth
Certificates . . . and Baptismal Certificates which
invariably bear the name of [FRANCISCO] as her
father, We cannot go along with the trial court's
theory that [MONINA's] illegitimate filiation has
not been satisfactorily established.
xxx xxx xxx
Significantly, [MONINA's] testimony finds ample
corroboration
from
[FRANCISCO's]
former
employees, Arsenio Duatin, Rudy Tingson and
Alfredo Baylosis. . .
xxx xxx xxx

Carefully evaluating appellant's evidence on her


enjoyment of the status of an illegitimate
daughter of [FRANCISCO] vis-a-vis [FRANCISCO's]
controversion thereof, We find more weight in the
former. The positive testimonies of [MONINA] and
[her] witnesses . . . all bearing on [FRANCISCO's]
acts and/or conduct indubitably showing that he
had continuously acknowledged [MONINA] as his
illegitimate daughter have not been succeessfully
[sic] refuted. In fact [FRANCISCO] himself, in his
deposition, only casually dismissed [MONINA's]
exhaustive and detailed testimony as untrue, and
with respect to those given by [MONINA's]
witnesses, he merely explained that he had fired
[them] from their employment. Needless to state
[FRANCISCO's] vague denial is grossly inadequate
to overcome the probative weight of [MONINA's]
testimonial evidence.
Even the affidavit (Exh 2) which [FRANCISCO] had
foisted on the trial court . . . does not hold sway
in the face of [MONINA's] logical explanation that
she at first did agree to sign the affidavit which
contained untruthful statements. In fact, she
promptly complained to [FRANCISCO] who,
however explained to her that the affidavit was
only for the consumption of his spouse . . .
Further the testimony of Jose Cruz concerning the
events that led to the execution of the affidavit . .
. could not have been true, for as pointed out by
[MONINA], she signed the affidavit . . . almost five
months after she had resigned from the Miller,
Cruz & Co. . .
At any rate if [MONINA] were not his illegitimate
daughter, it would have been uncalled for, if not
absurd, for [FRANCISCO] or his lawyer to have
secured [MONINA's] sworn statement . . . On the
contrary, in asking [MONINA] to sign the said
affidavit at the cost of P15,000, [FRANCISCO]
clearly betrayed his intention to conceal or
suppress his paternity of [MONINA] . . .
In fine, We hold that [MONINA's] filiation as
[FRANCISCO's] illegitimate daughter has been
conclusively established by the uncontroverted
testimonies of Lope Amolar, Adela Casabuena
and Dominador Savariz to the effect that appellee
himself had admitted his paternity of the
appellee, and also by the testimonies of
appellant; Arsenio Duatin, Romeo Bilbao, Rudy
Tingson
and
Alfredo
Baylosis
unerringly
demonstrating that by his own conduct or overt
acts like sending appellant to school, paying for
her tuition fees, school uniforms, books, board
and lodging at the Colegio del Sagrado Corazon
de Jesus, defraying appellant's hospitalization
expenses providing her with [a] monthly
allowance, paying for the funeral expenses of
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appellant's mother, acknowledging appellant's


paternal greetings and calling appellant his "Hija"
or child, instructing his office personnel to give
appellant's monthly allowance recommending
appellant for employment at the Miller Cruz &
Co., allowing appellant to use his house in
Bacolod and paying for her long distance
telephone calls, having appellant spend her
vacation in his apartment in Manila and also at
his Forbes residence, allowing appellant to use his
surname in her scholastic and other records (Exhs
Z, AA, AA-1 to AA-5, W & W-5), appellee had
continuously
recognized
appellant
as
his
illegitimate daughter. Added to these are the acts
of [FRANCISCO's] relatives acknowledging or
treating [MONINA] as [FRANCISCO's] daughter
(Exh U) or as their relative (Exhs T & V). On this
point, witness Zafiro Ledesma, former Mayor of
Iloilo city, whose spouse belongs to the Lopez
clan just like [FRANCISCO], testified that
[MONINA] has been considered by the Lopezes as
a relative. He identified pictures of the appellee in
the company of the Lopezes (Exhs X-16 & X-17).
Another witness, Danthea H. Lopez, whose
husband Eusebio Lopez is appellee's first cousin,
testified that appellant was introduced to her by
appellee's cousin, Remedios Lopez Franco, as the
daughter of appellee Francisco Jison, for which
reason, she took her in as [a] secretary in the
Merchant's Financing Corporation of which she
was the manager, and further allowed her to stay
with her family free of board and lodging. Still on
this aspect, Dominador Savariz declared that
sometime in February, 1966 appellee's relative,
Ms. Remedios Lopez Franco pointed to appellant
as the daughter of appellee Francisco Jison.
Finally, the Certifications of the Local Civil
Registrar of Dingle (Exhs E and F) as well as
[MONINA's] Baptismal Certificates (Exhs C & D)
which the trial court admitted in evidence as part
of [MONINA's] testimony, may serve as
circumstantial evidence to further reinforce
[MONINA's] claim that she is [FRANCISCO's]
illegitimate daughter by Esperanza Amolar.
True it is that a trial judge's assessment of the
credibility of witnesses is accorded great respect
on appeal. But the rule admits of certain
exceptions. One such exception is where the
judge who rendered the judgment was not the
one who heard the witnesses testify. [citations
omitted]. The other is where the trial court had
overlooked, misunderstood or misappreciated
some facts or circumstances of weight and
substance which, if properly considered, might
affect the result of the case. [citations omitted] In
the presence case, both exceptions obtain. All of
[MONINA's] witnesses . . . whose testimonies

were not given credence did not testify before the


judge who rendered the disputed judgment . . .
The Court of Appeals then decreed:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the judgment
of the trial court is SET ASIDE and another one is
hereby entered for appellant Monina Jison,
declaring her as the illegitimate daughter of
appellee Francisco Jison, and entitled to all rights
and privileges granted by law.
Costs against appellee.
SO ORDERED.
His motion for reconsideration having been
denied by the Court of Appeals in its resolution of
29 March 1996, 18 FRANCISCO filed the instant
petition. He urges us to reverse the judgment of
the Court of Appeals, alleging that said court
committed errors of law:
I.
. . . IN REVERSING THE DECISION OF THE TRIAL
COURT AND DECLARING PRIVATE RESPONDENT
AS THE ILLEGITIMATE CHILD OF PETITIONER,
CONSIDERING [THE] IMPOSSIBILITY OF SEXUAL
CONTACT BETWEEN THE PETITIONER AND THE
PRIVATE RESPONDENTS MOTHER AT THE TIME
CONCEPTION
WAS
SUPPOSED
TO
HAVE
OCCURRED.
II.
. . . IN REVERSING THE TRIAL COURT'S FINDING
CONSIDERING THAT PRIVATE RESPONDENTS
TESTIMONIAL EVIDENCE OF PATERNITY AND
FILIATION IS NOT CLEAR AND CONVINCING.
III.
. . . IN GIVING CREDENCE TO DOCUMENTARY
EVIDENCE
PRESENTED
BY
THE
PRIVATE
RESPONDENT AS EVIDENCE OF FILIATION
CONSIDERING THAT THE SAME ARE HEARSAY,
SELF-SERVING
AND
CANNOT
BIND
THE
PETITIONER UNDER THE BASIC RULES OF
EVIDENCE.
IV.
.
.
.
IN
INTERPRETING
THE
PRIVATE
RESPONDENT'S
SWORN
STATEMENT
(EXH.
"P"/EXH. "2") IN A MANNER NOT IN CONSONANCE
WITH THE RULINGS OF THE HONORABLE
SUPREME COURT.
V.
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. . . IN NOT CONSIDERING THE LONG AND


UNEXPLAINED DELAY IN THE FILING OF THE
PRESENT PATERNITY SUIT AS EQUIVALENT TO
LACHES.
As regards the first error, FRANCISCO insists that
taking into account the second paragraph of
MONINA's complaint wherein she claimed that he
and Pansay had sexual relations "by about the
end of 1945 or the start of 1946," it was
physically impossible for him and Pansay to have
had sexual contact which resulted in MONINA's
birth, considering that:
The normal period of human pregnancy is nine
(9) months. If as claimed by private respondent in
her complaint that her mother was impregnated
by FRANCISCO "at the end of 1945 or the start of
1946", she would have been born sometime in
late September or early October and not August
6, 1946 . . . The instant case finds factual and
legal parallels in Constantino vs. Mendez, 19
thus: . . .
FRANCISCO further claims that his testimony that
Pansay was no longer employed by him at the
time in question was unrebutted, moreover, other
men had access to Pansay during the time of or
even after her employment by him.
As to the second error, FRANCISCO submits that
MONINA's testimonial evidence is "shaky,
contradictory and unreliable," and proceeds to
attack the credibility of her witnesses by
claiming, in the main, that: (a) Lope Amolar could
not have detected Pansay's pregnancy in
November 1945 when they met since she would
have been only one (1) month pregnant then; (b)
Dominador Savariz did not in fact witness the
meeting between FRANCISCO, Pansay and
MONINA; (c) Zafiro Ledesma had an ulterior
motive in testifying for MONINA as he owned a
bank in Iloilo which was then under Central Bank
supervision and MONINA was the Bank Examiner
assigned to Iloilo; and (d) Danthea Lopez was not
related to him by blood and whatever favorable
treatment MONINA received from Danthea was
due to the former's employment at Merchants'
Financing Company and additional services
rendered at Kahirup Hotel; besides, Danthea
admitted that she had no personal knowledge as
to the issue of paternity and filiation of the
contending parties, hence Sections 39 and 40 20
of Rule 130 of the Rules of Court did not come
into play. FRANCISCO likewise re-echoes the view
of the trial court as regards the testimonies of
Adela Casabuena and Alfredo Baylosis.
FRANCISCO further asserts that MONINA's
testimony that he answered for her schooling was

self-serving and uncorroborated by any receipt or


other documentary evidence; and assuming he
did,
such
should
be
interpreted
as
a
manifestation of kindness shown towards the
family of a former household helper.

Anent the treatment given by his relatives to


MONINA as his daughter, FRANCISCO points to
the
fact
that
Pansay
was
the
former
laundrywoman of Mrs. Franco; MONINA resided
with the families of Eusebio Lopez and Concha
Cuaycong because she was in their employ at
Kahirup Hotel and Our Lady of Mercy Hospital,
respectively; MONINA failed to present Mrs.
Franco, Eusebio Lopez and Mrs. Cuaycong; and
MONINA's employment at the accounting firm of
Miller, Cruz & Co. was attributable to her
educational attainment, there being absolutely no
evidence to prove that FRANCISCO ever
facilitated her employment thereat. Hence, in
light of Baluyot v. Baluyot, 21 the quantum of
evidence to prove paternity by clear and
convincing evidence, not merely a preponderance
thereof, was not met.
With respect to the third assigned error,
FRANCISCO argues that the Court of Appeals'
reliance on the certifications of the Local Civil
Registrar (Exhs. E and F) and Baptismal
Certificates (Exhs. C and D) as circumstantial
evidence is misplaced. First, their genuineness
could not be ascertained as the persons who
issued them did not testify. Second, in light of
Reyes v. Court of Appeals, 22 the contents of the
baptismal certificates were hearsay, as the data
was based only on what was told to the priest
who solemnized the baptism, who likewise was
not presented as a witness. Additionally, the
name of the father appearing therein was
"Franque Jison," which was not FRANCISCO's
name. Third, in both Exhibits E and F, the names
of the child's parents were listed as "Frank Heson"
and
"Esperanza
Amador"
(not
Amolar).
FRANCISCO further points out that in Exhibit F,
the status of the child is listed as "legitimate,"
while the father's occupation as "laborer." Most
importantly, there was no showing that
FRANCISCO signed Exhibits E and F or that he
was the one who reported the child's birth to the
Office of the Local Civil Registrar. As to MONINA's
educational records, FRANCISCO invokes Baas v.
Baas 23 which recognized that school records
are prepared by school authorities, not by
putative parents, thus incompetent to prove
paternity. And, as to the photographs presented
by MONINA, FRANCISCO cites Colorado v. Court of
Appeals, 24 and further asserts that MONINA did
not present any of the persons with whom she is
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seen in the pictures to testify thereon; besides


these persons were, at best, mere second cousins
of FRANCISCO. He likewise assails the various
notes and letters written by his relatives (Exhs. S
to V) as they were not identified by the authors.
Finally, he stresses that MONINA did not testify as
to the telephone cards (Exhs. G to L) nor did
these reveal the circumstances surrounding the
calls she made from his residence.
Anent the fourth assigned error, FRANCISCO
contends that the Court of Appeals' interpretation
of MONINA's affidavit of 21 September 1971 ran
counter to Dequito v. Llamas, 25 and overlooked
that at the time of execution, MONINA was more
than 25 years old and assisted by counsel.
As to the last assigned error, FRANCISCO bewails
the Court of Appeals' failure to consider the long
and unexplained delay in the filing of the case.
In her comment, MONINA forcefully refuted
FRANCISCO's arguments, leading FRANCISCO to
file his reply thereto.
On 20 November 1996, we gave due course to
this petition and required the parties to submit
their
respective
memoranda,
which
they
subsequently did.
A painstaking review of the evidence
arguments fails to support petitioner.

and

Before addressing the merits of the controversy,


we first dispose of preliminary matters relating to
the applicable law and the guiding principles in
paternity suits. As to the former, plainly, the
Family Code of the Philippines (Executive Order
No. 209) governs the present controversy. As
correctly cited by the Court of Appeals,
Uyguangco 26 served as a judicial confirmation of
Article 256 of the Family Code 27 regarding its
retroactive effect unless there be impairment of
vested rights, which does not hold true here, it
appearing that neither the putative parent nor
the child has passed away and the former having
actually resisted the latter's claim below.
Under Article 175 of the Family Code, illegitimate
filiation, such as MONINA's, may be established in
the same way and on the same evidence as that
of legitimate children. Article 172 thereof
provides the various forms of evidence by which
legitimate filiation is established, thus:
Art. 172. The filiation of legitimate children is
established by any of the following:
(1) The record of birth appearing in the civil
register or a final judgment; or

(2) An admission of legitimate filiation in a public


document or a private handwritten instrument
signed by the parent concerned.
In the absence of the foregoing evidence, the
legitimate filiation shall be proved by:
(1) The open and continuous possession of the
status of a legitimate child; or
(2) Any other means allowed by the Rules of
Court and special laws.
This Article reproduces, with amendments,
Articles 265, 266 and 267 of the Civil Code.
For the success of an action to establish
illegitimate filiation under the second paragraph,
which MONINA relies upon given that she has
none of the evidence mentioned in the first
paragraph, a "high standard of proof" 28 is
required. Specifically, to prove open and
continuous possession of the status of an
illegitimate child, there must be evidence of the
manifestation of the permanent intention of the
supposed father to consider the child as his, by
continuous and clear manifestations of parental
affection and care, which cannot be attributed to
pure charity. Such acts must be of such a nature
that they reveal not only the conviction of
paternity, but also the apparent desire to have
and treat the child as such in all relations in
society and in life, not accidentally, but
continuously. 29
By "continuous" is meant uninterrupted and
consistent, but does not require any particular
length of time. 30
The foregoing standard of proof required to
establish one's filiation is founded on the principle
that an order for recognition and support may
create an unwholesome atmosphere or may be
an irritant in the family or lives of the parties, so
that it must be issued only if paternity or filiation
is established by clear and convincing evidence.
31
The foregoing discussion, however, must be
situated within the general rules on evidence, in
light of the burden of proof in civil cases, i.e.,
preponderance of evidence, and the shifting of
the burden of evidence in such cases. Simply put,
he who alleges the affirmative of the issue has
the burden of proof, and upon the plaintiff in a
civil case, the burden of proof never parts.
However, in the course of trial in a civil case,
once plaintiff makes out a prima facie case in his
favor, the duty or the burden of evidence shifts to
defendant to controvert plaintiff's prima facie
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case, otherwise, a verdict must be returned in


favor of plaintiff. Moreover, in civil cases, the
party having the burden of proof must produce a
preponderance of evidence thereon, with plaintiff
having to rely on the strength of his own
evidence and not upon the weakness of the
defendant's. The concept of "preponderance of
evidence" refers to evidence which is of greater
weight, or more convincing, that which is offered
in opposition to it; at bottom, it means probability
of truth. 32
With these in mind, we now proceed to resolve
the merits of the instant controversy.
FRANCISCO's arguments in support of his first
assigned error deserve scant consideration. While
it has been observed that unlawful intercourse
will not be presumed merely from proof of an
opportunity for such indulgence, 33 this does not
favor FRANCISCO. Akin to the crime of rape
where, in most instances, the only witnesses to
the felony are the participants in the sexual act
themselves, in deciding paternity suits, the issue
of whether sexual intercourse actually occurred
inevitably redounds to the victim's or mother's
word, as against the accused's or putative
father's protestations. In the instant case,
MONINA's mother could no longer testify as to the
fact of intercourse, as she had, unfortunately,
passed away long before the institution of the
complaint for recognition. But this did not mean
that MONINA could no longer prove her filiation.
The fact of her birth and her parentage may be
established by evidence other than the testimony
of her mother. The paramount question then is
whether MONINA's evidence is coherent, logical
and natural. 34
The complaint stated that FRANCISCO had carnal
knowledge of Pansay "by about the end of 1945."
We agree with MONINA that this was broad
enough to cover the fourth quarter of said year,
hence her birth on 6 August 1946 could still be
attributed
to
sexual
relations
between
FRANCISCO and MONINA's mother. In any event,
since it was established that her mother was still
in the employ of FRANCISCO at the time MONINA
was conceived as determined by the date of her
birth, sexual contact between FRANCISCO and
MONINA's mother was not at all impossible,
especially in light of the overwhelming evidence,
as hereafter shown, that FRANCISCO fathered
MONINA, has recognized her as his daughter and
that MONINA has been enjoying the open and
continuous possession of the status as
FRANCISCO's illegitimate daughter.
We readily conclude that the testimonial evidence
offered by MONINA, woven by her narration of

circumstances and events that occurred through


the years, concerning her relationship with
FRANCISCO, coupled with the testimonies of her
witnesses,
overwhelmingly
established
the
following facts:
1) FRANCISCO is MONINA's father and she was
conceived at the time when her mother was in
the employ of the former;
2) FRANCISCO recognized MONINA as his child
through his overt acts and conduct which the
Court of Appeals took pains to enumerate, thus:

[L]ike sending appellant to school, paying for her


tuition fees, school uniforms, books, board and
lodging at the Colegio del Sagrado de Jesus,
defraying appellant's hospitalization expenses,
providing her with [a] monthly allowance, paying
for the funeral expenses of appellant's mother,
acknowledging appellant's paternal greetings and
calling appellant his "Hija" or Child, instructing his
office personnel to give appellant's monthly
allowance,
recommending
appellant
for
employment at the Miller, Cruz & Co., allowing
appellant to use his house in Bacolod and paying
for her long distance telephone calls, having
appellant spend her vacation in his apartment in
Manila and also at his Forbes residence, allowing
appellant to use his surname in her scholastic
and other records (Exhs Z, AA, AA-1 to AA-5, W &
W-5) . . .
3) Such recognition has been consistently shown
and manifested throughout the years publicly, 35
spontaneously,
continuously
and
in
an
uninterrupted manner. 36
Accordingly, in light of the totality of the evidence
on record, the second assigned error must fail.
There is some merit, however, in the third
assigned error against the probative value of
some of MONINA's documentary evidence.
MONINA's reliance on the certification issued by
the Local Civil Registrar concerning her birth
(Exhs. E and F) is clearly misplaced. It is settled
that a certificate of live birth purportedly
identifying the putative father is not competent
evidence as to the issue of paternity, when there
is no showing that the putative father had a hand
in the preparation of said certificates, and the
Local Civil Registrar is devoid of authority to
record the paternity of an illegitimate child upon
the information of a third person. 37 Simply put, if
the alleged father did not intervene in the birth
certificate, e. g., supplying the information
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himself, the inscription of his name by the mother


or doctor or registrar is null and void; the mere
certificate by the registrar without the signature
of the father is not proof of voluntary
acknowledgment on the latter's part. 38 In like
manner, FRANCISCO's lack of participation in the
preparation of the baptismal certificates (Exhs. C
and D) and school records (Exhs. Z and AA)
renders these documents incompetent to prove
paternity, the former being competent merely to
prove the administration of the sacrament of
baptism on the date so specified. 39 However,
despite the inadmissibility of the school records
per se to prove paternity, they may be admitted
as part of MONINA's testimony to corroborate her
claim that FRANCISCO spent for her education.
We likewise disagree with the ruling of the Court
of Appeals that the certificates issued by the
Local Civil Registrar and the baptismal certificates
may be taken as circumstantial evidence to prove
MONINA's filiation. Since they are per se
inadmissible in evidence as proof of such filiation,
they
cannot
be
admitted
indirectly
as
circumstantial evidence to prove the same.
As to Exhibits "S," "T," "U" and "V," the various
notes and letters written by FRANCISCO's
relatives, namely Mike Alano, Emilio Jison,
Mariquit Lopez and Fernando Lopez, respectively,
allegedly attesting to MONINA's filiation, while
their due execution and authenticity are not in
issue, 40 as MONINA witnessed the authors
signing the documents, nevertheless, under Rule
130, Section 39, the contents of these documents
may not be admitted, there being no showing
that the declarants-authors were dead or unable
to testify, neither was the relationship between
the declarants and MONINA shown by evidence
other than the documents in question. 41 As to
the admissibility of these documents under Rule
130, Section 40, however, this requires further
elaboration.
Rule 130, Section 40, provides:
Section 40. Family reputation or tradition
regarding pedigree. The reputation or tradition
existing in a family previous to the controversy, in
respect to the pedigree of any one of its
members, may be received in evidence if the
witness testifying thereon be also a member of
the family, either by consanguinity or affinity.
Entries in family bibles or other family books or
charts, engravings on rings, family portraits and
the like, may be received as evidence of
pedigree. (emphasis supplied)
It is evident that this provision may be divided
into two (2) parts: the portion containing the first

underscored clause which pertains to testimonial


evidence, under which the documents in question
may not be admitted as the authors thereof did
not take the witness stand; and the section
containing the second underscored phrase. What
must then be ascertained is whether Exhibits S to
V, as private documents, fall within the scope of
the clause "and the like" as qualified by the
preceding phrase "[e]ntries in family bibles or
other family books or charts, engravings on rights
[and] family portraits."
We hold that the scope of the enumeration
contained in the second portion of this provision,
in light of the rule of ejusdem generis, is limited
to objects which are commonly known as "family
possessions," or those articles which represent, in
effect, a family's joint statement of its belief as to
the pedigree of a person. 42 These have been
described as objects "openly exhibited and well
known to the family," 43 or those "which, if
preserved in a family, may be regarded as giving
a family tradition." 44 Other examples of these
objects which are regarded as reflective of a
family's reputation or tradition regarding pedigree
are inscriptions on tombstones, 45 monuments or
coffin plates. 46
Plainly then, Exhibits S to V, as private
documents not constituting "family possessions"
as discussed above, may not be admitted on the
basis of Rule 130, Section 40. Neither may these
exhibits be admitted on the basis of Rule 130,
Section 41 regarding common reputation, 47 it
having been observed that:
[T]he weight of authority appears to be in favor of
the theory that it is the general repute, the
common reputation in the family, and not the
common reputation in community, that is a
material element of evidence going to establish
pedigree. . . [Thus] matters of pedigree may be
proved by reputation in the family, and not by
reputation in the neighborhood or vicinity, except
where the pedigree in question is marriage which
may be proved by common reputation in the
community. 48
Their inadmissibility not withstanding, Exhibits
"S" to "V," inclusive, may, in like manner as
MONINA's school records, properly be admitted as
part of her testimony to strengthen her claim
that, indeed, relatives of FRANCISCO recognized
her as his daughter.
We now direct our attention to MONINA's 21
September 1971 affidavit (Exh. P/Exh. 2), subject
of the fourth assigned error, where she attests
that FRANCISCO is not her father. MONINA
contends that she signed it under duress, i.e., she
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was jobless, had no savings and needed the


money to support herself and finish her studies.
Moreover, she signed Exhibit P upon the advice of
Atty. Divinagracia that filiation could not be
waived and that FRANCISCO's ploy would
"boomerang" upon him. On the other hand,
FRANCISCO asserts that full credence should be
afforded Exhibit P. as MONINA was already 25
years old at the time of its execution and was
advised by counsel; further, being a notarized
document, its genuineness and due execution
could not be questioned. He relies on the
testimony of Jose Cruz, a partner at the
accounting firm of Miller & Cruz, who declared
that he intervened in the matter as MONINA was
spreading rumors about her filiation within the
firm, which might have had deleterious effects
upon the relationship between the firm and
FRANCISCO. cdphil
On this issue, we find for MONINA and agree with
the following observations of the Court of
Appeals:
Even the affidavit (Exh 2) which [FRANCISCO] had
foisted on the trial court . . . does not hold sway
in the face of [MONINA's] logical explanation that
she at first did agree to sign the affidavit which
contained untruthful statements. In fact, she
promptly complained to [FRANCISCO] who,
however explained to her that the affidavit was
only for the consumption of his spouse . . .
At any rate, if [MONINA] were not his illegitimate
daughter, it would have been uncalled for, if not
absurd, for [FRANCISCO] or his lawyer to have
secured [MONINA's] sworn statement . . . On the
contrary, in asking [MONINA] to sign the said
affidavit at the cost of P15,000, [FRANCISCO]
clearly betrayed his intention to conceal or
suppress his paternity of [MONINA]. . .
Indeed, if MONINA were truly not FRANCISCO's
illegitimate daughter, it would have been
unnecessary for him to have gone to such great
lengths in order that MONINA denounce her
filiation. For as clearly established before the trial
court and properly appreciated by the Court of
Appeals, MONINA had resigned from Miller & Cruz
five (5) months prior to the execution of the
sworn statement in question, hence negating
FRANCISCO's theory of the need to quash rumors
circulating within Miller & Cruz regarding the
identity of MONINA's father. Hence, coupled with
the assessment of the credibility of the
testimonial evidence of the parties discussed
above, it is evident that the standard to
contradict a notarial document, i.e., clear and
convincing evidence and more than merely
preponderant, 49 has been met by MONINA.

Plainly then, the burden of evidence fully shifted


to FRANCISCO.
Two (2) glaring points in FRANCISCO's defense
beg to be addressed: First, that his testimony was
comprised of mere denials, rife with bare,
unsubstantiated responses such as "That is not
true," "I do not believe that," or "None that I
know." In declining then to lend credence to
FRANCISCO's testimony, we resort to a guiding
principle in adjudging the credibility of a witness
and the truthfulness of his statements, laid down
as early as 1921:
The experience of courts and the general
observation of humanity teach us that the natural
limitations of our inventive faculties are such that
if a witness undertakes to fabricate and deliver in
court a false narrative containing numerous
details, he is almost certain to fall into fatal
inconsistencies, to make statements which can
be readily refuted, or to expose in his demeanor
the falsity of his message.

For this reason it will be found that perjurers


usually confine themselves to the incidents
immediately related to the principal fact about
which they testify, and when asked about
collateral facts by which their truthfulness could
be tested, their answers not infrequently take the
stereotyped form of such expressions as "I don't
know" or "I don't remember." . . . 50
Second, the reasons for the dismissals of Tingson,
Baylosis and Savariz were unspecified or likewise
unsubstantiated, hence FRANCISCO's attempt to
prove ill-motive on their part to falsely testify in
MONINA's favor may not succeed. As may be
gleaned, the only detail which FRANCISCO could
furnish as to the circumstances surrounding the
dismissals of his former employees was that
Baylosis allegedly "took advantage of his
position" while FRANCISCO was in the United
States. But aside from this bare claim,
FRANCISCO's account is barren, hence unable to
provide the basis for a finding of bias against
FRANCISCO on the part of his former employees.
As to FRANCISCO's other witnesses, nothing
substantial could be obtained either. Nonito
Jalandoni avowed that he only came to know of
MONINA in June 1988; 51 that during his
employment at Nelly Garden from 1963 up to
1974, he did not recall ever having seen MONINA
there, neither did he know of any instructions
from FRANCISCO nor Mr. Lagarto FRANCISCO's
office manager before passing away) regarding
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the disbursement of MONINA's allowance. 52


Teodoro Xulla corroborated Jalandoni's testimony
regarding not having seen MONINA at Nelly
Garden and MONINA's allowance; declared that
Alfredo
Baylosis
was
dismissed
due
to
discrepancies discovered after an audit, without
any further elaboration, however; but admitted
that he never prepared the vouchers pertaining
to FRANCISCO's personal expenses, merely those
intended for one of FRANCISCO's haciendas. 53
Then, Iigo Superticioso confirmed that according
to the report of a certain Mr. Atienza, Baylosis
"was dismissed by Mr. Jison for irregularities,"
while Superticioso was informed by FRANCISCO
that Tingson was dismissed for loss of confidence.
Superticioso likewise denied that MONINA
received money from FRANCISCO's office, neither
was there a standing order from FRANCISCO to
release funds to her. 54
It is at once obvious that the testimonies of these
witnesses for FRANCISCO are likewise insufficient
to overcome MONINA's evidence. The former
merely consist of denials as regards the latter's
having gone to Nelly Garden or having received
her allowance from FRANCISCO's office, which,
being in the form of negative testimony,
necessarily stand infirm as against positive
testimony; 55 bare assertions as regards the
dismissal of Baylosis; ignorance of FRANCISCO's
personal expenses incapable of evincing that
FRANCISCO did not provide MONINA with an
allowance; or hearsay evidence as regards the
cause for the dismissals of Baylosis and Tingson.
But what then serves as the coup de grace is that
despite Superticioso's claim that he did not know
MONINA, 56 when confronted with Exhibit H, a
telephone toll ticket indicating that on 18 May
1971, MONINA called a certain "Eing" at
FRANCISCO's office, Superticioso admitted that
his nickname was "Iing" and that there was no
other person named "Iing" in FRANCISCO's
office. 57
All told, MONINA's evidence hurdled "the high
standard of proof" required for the success of an
action to establish one's illegitimate filiation when
relying upon the provisions regarding "open and
continuous possession" or "any other means
allowed by the Rules of Court and special laws;"
moreover, MONINA proved her filiation by more
than mere preponderance of evidence.
The last assigned error concerning laches likewise
fails to convince. The essential elements of laches
are: (1) conduct on the part of the defendant, or
of one under whom he claims, giving rise to the
situation of which the complaint seeks a remedy;
(2) delay in asserting the complainant's rights,
the complainant having had knowledge or notice

of the defendant's conduct as having been


afforded an opportunity to institute a suit; (3) lack
of knowledge or notice on the part of the
defendant that the complaint would assert the
right in which he bases his suit; and (4) injury or
prejudice to the defendant in the event relief is
accorded to the complainant, or the suit is not
held barred. 58 The last element is the origin of
the doctrine that stale demands apply only where
by reason of the lapse of time it would be
inequitable to allow a party to enforce his legal
rights. 59
As FRANCISCO set up laches as an affirmative
defense, it was incumbent upon him to prove the
existence of its elements. However, he only
succeeded in showing MONINA's delay in
asserting her claim, but miserably failed to prove
the last element. In any event, it must be
stressed that laches is based upon grounds of
public policy which requires, for the peace of
society, the discouragement of stale claims, and
is principally a question of the inequity or
unfairness of permitting a right or claim to be
enforced or asserted. There is no absolute rule as

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to what constitutes laches; each case is to be


determined
according
to
its
particular
circumstances. The question of laches is
addressed to the sound discretion of the court,
and since it is an equitable doctrine, its
application
is
controlled
by
equitable
considerations. It cannot be worked to defeat
justice or to perpetuate fraud and injustice. 60
Since the instant case involves paternity and
filiation, even if illegitimate, MONINA filed her
action well within the period granted her by a
positive provision of law. A denial then of her
action on ground of laches would clearly be
inequitable and unjust.
WHEREFORE, IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the
petition is hereby DENIED and the challenged
decision of the Court of Appeals of 27 April 1990
in CA-G.R. CV No. 32860 is Affirmed.
Costs against petitioner.
Bellosillo, Vitug, Panganiban and Quisumbing, JJ .,
concur.