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Subject Civil Procedure Bernabe vs Alejo (2002) Doctrine: Procedural laws do not create vested rights.

. Test for determining whether rule is substantive/procedural: If the rule merely regulates procedure, that is the judicial process for enforcing rights and duties, and for justly administering remedy and redress for disregard or infraction of them, it is merely PROCEDURAL. But if the rule creates a right, such as the right to appeal, it is SUBSTANTIVE. However, if it operates merely as a means to implementing an existing right, then the rule merely deals with PROCEDURE. Facts: Fiscal Bernabe (married to Rosalina) fathered a son with his secretary Alejo. In 1993, Fiscal Bernabe and his legitimate wife Rosalinda died, leaving their only daughter Ernestina as heir. In 1994, Secretary Alejo filed a complaint praying that Adrian be declared and acknowledged as Fiscal Bernabes son and thus be given a share in his estate. Relevant CC and FC provisions: CC 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. FC 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: (1) The open and continuous possession of the status of a legitimate child; (2) Any other means allowed by the Rules of Court and special laws. FC 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 ofthe parties. FC 174: 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. Procedure: RTC: Dismissed the complaint. Death of putative father barred the action because under the FC, if the putative father had not acknowledged the child in writing, the action should have been filed during the lifetime of the alleged father. In this case, father is already dead.

CA: Allowed the complaint to proceed. Since Adrian was born in 1981, his rights are governed by CC, not FC, which allows an action for recognition to be filed within 4 years after the child has attained age of majority. The enactment of the FC did not take away that right. Issue/s: 1. (TOPICAL) When is the period to file an action for recognition? CC must be applied, hence, 4 years after child attains age of Majority. 2. (IRRELEVANT) Whether CC 285 is limited to natural children? NO. 3. (IRRELEVANT) Whether the complaint must fail for failure to implead CA. NO.

Held/Ratio: 1. CC provision at bar is a substantive law (not merely procedural) which gives rise to a vested right which cannot be imparied by the retroactive applicaton of the FC. The FC provides the caveat that rights that have already vested prior to its enactment should not be prejudiced or impaired (FC 255). Adrians right to an action for recognition under the CC is a VESTED RIGHT (definition of vested right: that which is absolute and unconditional, to the exercise of which no obstacle exists and is immediate and perfect in itself and not dependent upon a contingency.) IMPORTANT IN THIS CASE: Respondent argues that the filing of an action for recognition is procedural in nature and as a general rule, no vested right may attach or arise from procedural laws. The SC in this case held that the provision at bar is SUBSTANTIVE LAW, and not merely procedural. Hence, vested right may attach. Bustos vs Lucero: the SC distinguished between substantive and procedural law. SUBSTANTIVE LAW creates substantive rights, it is part of the law which created, defines and regulates rights, or which regulated suties which give rise to a cause of action. PROCEDURAL LAW (aka adjective or remedial law) prescribes method for enforcing rights or obtains redress for their invasion. Fabian vs Desierto: the SC laid down the test for determining whether a rule is substantive/procedural: If the rule merely regulates procedure, that is the judicial process for enforcing rights and duties, and for justly administering remedy and redress for disregard or infraction of them, it is merely PROCEDURAL. But if the rule creates a right, such as the right to appeal, it is SUBSTANTIVE. However, if it operates merely as a means to implementing an existing right, then the rule merely deals with PROCEDURE. 2. CC 285 is not limited to natural children. Definition of natural children: one whose parents, at the time of conception, were not disqualified by any legal impediment from marrying each other. While CC 285 explicitly refers to natural children, it has been applied by the SC liberally. 3. The new Rules of Court no longer requires the lower judges/courts to be impleaded as petitioner/respondent. Hence, failure to implead CA is not an error, it is in fact the correct procedure.

Digested by: Cari Mangalindan. (A2015)