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SUPPORT

MANUEL DE ASIS, petitioner,


vs.
COURT OF APPEALS, HON. JAIME T. HAMOY, Branch 130, RTC, Kalookan City and GLEN CAMIL ANDRES
DE ASIS represented by her mother/guardian VIRCEL D. ANDRES, respondents.
PURISIMA, J.:
Petition for certiorari under Rule 65 oft he Revised Rules of Court seeking to nullify the decision of the Court of
Appeals which affirmed the trial court's Orders, dated November 25, 1993 and February 4, 1994, respectively,
denying petitioner's Motion to Dismiss the Complaint in Civil Case No. C-16107, entitled "Glen Camil Andres de
Asis, etc. vs. Manuel de Asis", and the motion for reconsideration.
The pertinent facts leading to the filing of the petition at bar are as follows:
On October 14, 1988, Vircel D. Andres, (the herein private respondent) in her capacity as the legal guardian of the
minor, Glen Camil Andres de Asis, brought an action for maintenance and support against Manuel de Asis,
docketed as Civil Case No. Q-88-935 before the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 94, alleging that the
defendant Manuel de Asis (the petitioner here) is the father of subject minor Glen Camil Andres de Asis, and the
former refused and/or failed to provide for the maintenance of the latter, despite repeated demands.
In his Answer, petitioner denied his paternity of the said minor and theorized that he cannot therefore be required
to provide support for him.
On July 4, 1989, private respondent Vircel D. Andres, through counsel, sent in a manifestation the pertinent
portion of which, reads;
1. That this proposed Amended Answer, defendant (herein petitioner) has made a judicial
admission/declaration that "1). defendant denies that the said minor child (Glen Camil) is his
child 2) he (petitioner) has no obligation to the plaintiff Glen Camil . . .
2. That with the aforesaid judicial admission/declarations by the defendant, it seems futile and a
useless exercise to claim support from said defendant.
3. That under the foregoing circumstances it would be more practical that plaintiff withdraws
the complains against the defendant subject to the condition that the defendant should not
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pursue his counterclaim in the above-entitled case, . . .
By virtue of the said manifestation, both the plaintiff and the defendant agreed to move for the dismissal of the
case. Acting thereupon, the Regional Trial Court a quo issued the following Order of August 8, 1989, dismissing
Civil Case No. Q-88-935 with prejudice, to wit:
Acting on the manifestation of Atty. Romualdo C. delos Santos, counsel for the defendant, that
counsel for the plaintiff Atty. Ismael J. Andres has no objection that this case be withdrawn
provided that the defendant will withdraw the counterclaim, as prayed for, let the case be
dismissed with prejudice.
SO ORDERED.

On September 7, 1995, another Complaint for maintenance and support was brought against Manuel A. de Asis,
this time in the name of Glen Camil Andres de Asis, represented by her legal guardian/mother, Vircel D. Andres.
Docketed as Civil Case No. C-16107 before Branch 130 of the Regional Trial Court of Kalookan, the said Complaint
prayed, thus:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, it is respectfully prayed that judgment be rendered ordering
defendant:
1. To pay plaintiff the sum of not less than P2,000.00 per month for every month since June 1,
1987 as support in arrears which defendant failed to provide plaintiff shortly after her birth in
June 1987 up to present;
2. To give plaintiff a monthly allowance of P5,000.00 to be paid in advance on or before the 5th
of each and every month.
3. To give plaintiff by way of support pendente lite a monthly allowance of P5,000.00 per month,
the first monthly allowance to start retroactively from the first day of this month and the
subsequent ones to be paid in advance on or before the 5th of each succeeding month.
4. To pay the costs of suit.
Plaintiff prays for such other relief just and equitable under the premises.

On October 8, 1993, petitioner moved to dismiss the Complaint on the ground of res judicata, alleging that Civil
Case C-16107 is barred by the prior judgment which dismissed with prejudice Civil Case Q -88-935.
In the Order dated November 25, 1993 denying subject motion to dismiss, the trial court ruled that res judicata is
inapplicable in an action for support for the reason that renunciation or waiver of future support is prohibited by
law. Petitioner's motion for reconsideration of the said Order met the same fate. It was likewise denied.
Petitioner filed with the Court of Appeals a Petition for Certiorari. But on June 7, 1996, the Court of Appeals found
that the said Petition devoid of merit and dismissed the same.
Undaunted, petitioner found his way to this court via the present petition, posing the question whether or not the
public respondent acted with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction in upholding
the denial of the motion to dismiss by the trial court, and holding that an action for support cannot be barred
by res judicata.
To buttress his submission, petitioner invokes the previous dismissal of the Complaint for maintenance and
support, Civil Case Q-88-935, filed by the mother and guardian of the minor, Glen Camil Andres de Asis, (the
herein private respondent). In said case, the complainant manifested that because of the defendant's judicial
declaration denying that he is the father of subject minor child, it was "futile and a useless exercise to claim
support from defendant". Because of such manifestation, and defendant's assurance that he would not pursue his
counterclaim anymore, the parties mutually agreed to move for the dismissal of the complaint. The motion was
granted by the Quezon City Regional Trial Court, which then dismissed the case with prejudice.
Petitioner contends that the aforecited manifestation, in effect admitted the lack of filiation between him and the
minor child, which admission binds the complainant, and since the obligation to give support is based on the
existence of paternity and filiation between the child and the putative parent, the lack thereof negates the right to
claim for support. Thus, petitioner maintains that the dismissal of the Complaint by the lower court on the basis of

the said manifestation bars the present action for support, especially so because the order of the trial court
explicitly stated that the dismissal of the case was with prejudice.
The petition is not impressed with merit.
The right to receive support can neither be renounced nor transmitted to a third person. Article 301 of the Civil
Code, the law in point, reads:
Art. 301. The right to receive support cannot be renounced, nor can it be transmitted to a third
person. Neither can it be compensated with what the recipient owes the obligor. . . .
Furthermore, future support cannot be the subject of a compromise.
Art. 2035, ibid, provides, that:
No compromise upon the following questions shall be valid:
(1) The civil status of persons;
(2) The validity of a marriage or legal separation;
(3) Any ground for legal separation
(4) Future support;
(5) The jurisdiction of courts;
(6) Future legitime.
The raison d' etre behind the proscription against renunciation, transmission and/or compromise of the right to
support is stated, thus:
The right to support being founded upon the need of the recipient to maintain his existence, he
is not entitled to renounce or transfer the right for this would mean sanctioning the voluntary
giving up of life itself. The right to life cannot be renounce; hence, support which is the means to
attain the former, cannot be renounced.
xxx xxx xxx
To allow renunciation or transmission or compensation of the family right of a person to support
is virtually to allow either suicide or the conversion of the recipient to a public burden. This is
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contrary to public policy.
In the case at bar, respondent minor's mother, who was the plaintiff in the first case, manifested that she was
withdrawing the case as it seemed futile to claim support from petitioner who denied his paternity over the child.
Since the right to claim for support is predicated on the existence of filiation between the minor child and the
putative parent, petitioner would like us to believe that such manifestation admitting the futility of claiming
support from him puts the issue to rest and bars any and all future complaint for support.

The manifestation sent in by respondent's mother in the first case, which acknowledged that it would be useless
to pursue its complaint for support, amounted to renunciation as it severed the vinculum that gives the minor,
Glen Camil, the right to claim support from his putative parent, the petitioner. Furthermore, the agreement
entered into between the petitioner and respondent's mother for the dismissal of the complaint for maintenance
and support conditioned upon the dismissal of the counterclaim is in the nature of a compromise which cannot be
countenanced. It violates the prohibition against any compromise of the right to support.
Thus, the admission made by counsel for the wife of the facts alleged in a motion of the
husband, in which the latter prayed that his obligation to support be extinguished cannot be
considered as an assent to the prayer, and much less, as a waiver of the right to claim for
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support.
It is true that in order to claim support, filiation and/or paternity must first be shown between the claimant and
the parent. However, paternity and filiation or the lack of the same is a relationship that must be judicially
established and it is for the court to declare its existence or absence. It cannot be left to the will or agreement of
the parties.
The civil status of a son having been denied, and this civil status, from which the right to support
is derived being in issue, it is apparent that no effect can be .given to such a claim until an
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authoritative declaration has been made as to the existence of the cause.
Although in the case under scrutiny, the admission may be binding upon the respondent, such an admission is at
most evidentiary and does not conclusively establish the lack of filiation.
Neither are we persuaded by petitioner's theory that the dismissal with prejudice of Civil Case Q-88-935 has the
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effect of res judicata on the subsequent case for support. The case of Advincula vs. Advincula comes to the fore.
In Advincula, the minor, Manuela Advincula, instituted a case for acknowledgment and support against her
putative father, Manuel Advincula. On motion of both parties and for the reason that the "plaintiff has lost
interest and is no longer interested in continuing the case against the defendant and has no further evidence to
introduce in support of the complaint", the case was dismissed. Thereafter, a similar case was instituted by
Manuela, which the defendant moved to dismiss, theorizing that the dismissal of the first case precluded the filing
of the second case.
In disposing such case, this Court ruled, thus:
The new Civil Code provides that the allowance for support is provisional because the amount
may be increased or decreased depending upon the means of the giver and the needs of the
recipient (Art. 297); and that the right to receive support cannot be renounced nor can it be
transmitted to a third person neither can it be compensated with what the recipient owes the
obligator (Art .301). Furthermore, the right to support can not be waived or transferred to third
parties and future support cannot be the subject of compromise (Art. 2035; Coral v. Gallego, 38
O.G. 3135, cited in IV Civil Code by Padilla, p. 648; 1956 Ed.). This being true, it is indisputable
that the present action for support can be brought, notwithstanding the fact the previous case
filed against the same defendant was dismissed. And it also appearing that the dismissal of Civil
Case No. 3553, was not an adjudication upon the merits, as heretofore shown, the right of herein
plaintiff-appellant to reiterate her suit for support and acknowledgment is available, as her
needs arise. Once the needs of plaintiff arise, she has the right to bring an action for support, for
it is only then that her cause for action is accrues.. . .
xxx xxx xxx

It appears that the former dismissal was predicated upon compromise. Acknowledgment,
affecting as it does the civil status of a persons and future support, cannot be the subject of
compromise (pars. 1 & 4, Art. 2035, Civil Code). Hence, the first dismissal cannot have force and
effect and can not bar the filing of another action, asking for the same relief against the same
defendant. (emphasis supplied).
Conformably, notwithstanding the dismissal of Civil Case Q-88-935 and the lower court's pronouncement that
such dismissal was with prejudice, the second action for support may still prosper.
WHEREFORE, the petition under consideration is hereby DISMISSED and the decision of the Court of Appeals
AFFIRMED. No pronouncement as to costs.
SO ORDERED.

AUGUSTUS CAEZAR R. GAN, petitioner,


vs.
HON. ANTONIO C. REYES, in his capacity as Presiding Judge of RTC-Br. 61, Baguio City, ALBERT G.
TOLENTINO, in his capacity as RTC Sheriff of Baguio City, and FRANCHESKA JOY C. PONDEVIDA, assisted
by BERNADETTE C. PONDEVIDA, respondents.
BELLOSILLO, J.:
Quite apprehensive that she would not be able to send to school her three (3)-year old daughter Francheska Joy S.
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Pondevida, Bernadette S. Pondevida wrote petitioner Augustus Caezar R. Gan demanding support for their "love
child." Petitioner, in his reply, denied paternity of the child. An exasperated Bernadette thereafter instituted in
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behalf of her daughter a complaint against petitioner for support with prayer for support pendente lite.
Petitioner moved to dismiss on the ground that the complaint failed to state a cause of action. He argued that
since Francheska's certificate of birth indicated her father as "UNKNOWN," there was no legal or factual basis for
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the claim of support. His motion, however, was denied by the trial court.
Despite denial of his motion, petitioner failed to file his answer within the reglementary period. Thus, on 19
January 2000 private respondent moved that petitioner be declared in default, which motion was granted. In
its Orderdeclaring petitioner in default the trial court noted that petitioner's Motion to Admit Answer was filed
more than ninety (90) days after the expiration of the reglementary period, and only after private respondent
moved that petitioner be declared in default. Petitioner's motion for reconsideration was also denied. Hence, the
court received the evidence of private respondent ex parte.
After finding that the claim of filiation and support was adequately proved, the trial court rendered its Decision on
12 May 2000 ordering petitioner to recognize private respondent Francheska Joy S. Pondevida as his illegitimate
child and support her with P20,000.00 every month to be paid on or before the 15th of each month starting 15
April 2000. Likewise petitioner was ordered to pay Francheska Joy S. Pondevida the accumulated arrears
of P20,000.00 per month from the day she was born, P50,000.00 as attorney's fees and P25,000.00 for expenses
of litigation, plusP20,000.00 on or before the 15th of every month from 15 May 2000 as alimony pendente
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lite should he desire to pursue further remedies against private respondent.
Forthwith, private respondent moved for execution of the judgment of support, which the trial court granted by
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issuing a writ of execution, citing as reason therefor private respondent's immediate need for schooling. Pursuant
to the writ, the sheriff levied upon a motor vehicle, a Honda City, with Plate No. UMT 884, registered in the name

of "A.B. Leasing & Fin. Corp., Leased to: G & G Trading," and found within the premises of petitioner's warehouse
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in Caloocan City.
Meanwhile, petitioner appealed the Judgment to the Court of Appeals.

On 9 June 2000 petitioner filed a petition for certiorari and prohibition with the Court of Appeals imputing grave
abuse of discretion to the trial court for ordering the immediate execution of the judgment. Petitioner averred
that the writ of execution was issued despite the absence of a good reason for immediate enforcement. Petitioner
insisted that as the judgment sought to be executed did not yet attain finality there should be an exceptional
reason to warrant its execution. He further alleged that the writ proceeded from an order of default and a
judgment rendered by the trial court in complete disregard of his "highly meritorious defense." Finally, petitioner
impugned the validity of the writ as he argued that it was issued without notice to him. Petitioner stressed the
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fact that he received copy of the motion for immediate execution two (2) weeks after its scheduled hearing.
On 31 August 2000 the Court of Appeals dismissed the petition on the ratiocination that under Sec. 4, Rule 39 of
the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure judgments for support are immediately executory and cannot be stayed by an
appeal. Thus, it did not help petitioner any to argue that there were no good reasons to support its immediate
execution. The second challenge hurled against the validity of the writ concerning the lack of notice and hearing
was likewise dismissed with the appeals court favoring substantial justice over technicalities. Lastly, petitioner's
justification for belatedly filing his answer, i.e., miscommunication with his lawyer, was disregarded since it fell
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short of the statutory requirements of "fraud, accident, mistake or excusable negligence."
His motion for reconsideration having been denied, petitioner came to us impugning the dismissal of his petition
for certiorari. Petitioner argues that under the rules a judgment for support which is subject of an appeal cannot
be executed absent any good reason for its immediate execution. Petitioner likewise attacks the validity of the
writ asserting that it was issued in violation of his right to notice and hearing. Petitioner also seeks the setting
aside of the default order and the judgment rendered thereafter for the reason that should he be allowed to prove
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his defense of adultery, the claim of support would be most likely denied. Petitioner claims that in an action by a
child against his putative father, adultery of the child's mother would be a valid defense to show that the child is a
fruit of adulterous relations for, in such case, it would not be the child of the defendant and therefore not entitled
to support. Parenthetically, how could he be allowed to prove the defense of adultery when it was not even hinted
that he was married to the mother of Francheska Joy. Petitioner consents to submit to Dioxyribonucleic Acid
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(DNA) Testing to resolve the issue of paternity, which test he claims has a reputation for accuracy.
A careful review of the facts and circumstances of this case fails to persuade this Court to brand the issuance of
the writ of execution by the trial court and affirmed by the Court of Appeals with the vice of grave abuse of
discretion. There is no evidence indeed to justify the setting aside of the writ on the ground that it was issued
beyond the legitimate bounds of judicial discretion.
Section 4, Rule 39, of the Rules of Court clearly states that, unless ordered by the trial court, judgments in actions
for support are immediately executory and cannot be stayed by an appeal. This is an exception to the general rule
which provides that the taking of an appeal stays the execution of the judgment and that advance executions will
only be allowed if there are urgent reasons therefor. The aforesaid provision peremptorily calls for immediate
execution of all judgments for support and makes no distinction between those which are the subject of an appeal
and those which are not. To consider then petitioner's argument that there should be good reasons for the
advance execution of a judgment would violate the clear and explicit language of the rule mandating immediate
execution.
Petitioner is reminded that to the plain words of a legal provision we should make no further
explanation. Absoluta sententia expositore non indiget. Indeed, the interpretation which petitioner attempts to
foist upon us would only lead to absurdity, its acceptance negating the plain meaning of the provision subject of
the petition.

Petitioner would also have us annul the writ of execution on the ground that he was not notified of its issuance.
We are unable to accept such a plea for enough has been done by petitioner to delay the execution of the writ. As
the records show, in partial fulfillment of the writ of execution petitioner surrendered a sedan which apparently
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was not his as it was later ordered released to a third party who laid claim over the levied vehicle. Also, petitioner
filed before the Court of Appeals a Motion for Leave to Deposit in Court Support Pendente Lite promising to deposit
the amount due as support every 15th of the month, but to date has not deposited any amount in complete
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disavowal of his undertaking. He was not even deterred from appealing before us and needlessly taking up our
time and energy by posing legal questions that can be characterized, at best, as flimsy and trivial. We are thus not
prepared to abrogate the writ of execution issued in favor of private respondent for substantial justice would be
better served if petitioner be precluded from interposing another barrier to the immediate execution of the
support judgment.
We are not intimating that in every case the right to notice of hearing can be disregarded. That is not so. It
appears in this case that there has been too much temporizing in the execution of the writ which must not be
allowed to thwart the constitutional mandate for speedy disposition of cases. As has been said, a technicality
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should be an aid to justice and not its great hindrance and chief enemy. Truly, if the writ of execution would be
voided on this ground alone, then procedural rules which were primarily drafted to protect parties in the realm of
constitutional guarantees would acquire a new sanctity at the expense of equity and justice.
Lastly, we note that no useful purpose would be served if we dwell on petitioner's arguments concerning the
validity of the judgment by default and his insistence that he be subjected, together with private respondent
Bernadette C. Pondevida to DNA testing to settle the issue of paternity. The futility of his arguments is very
apparent. It is not for us at this instance to review or revise the Decision rendered by the trial court for to do so
would pre-empt the decision which may be rendered by the Court of Appeals in the main case for support.
In all cases involving a child, his interest and welfare are always the paramount concerns. There may be instances
where, in view of the poverty of the child, it would be a travesty of justice to refuse him support until the decision
of the trial court attains finality while time continues to slip away. An excerpt from the early case of De Leon v.
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Soriano is relevant, thus:
The money and property adjudged for support and education should and must be given presently and
without delay because if it had to wait the final judgment, the children may in the meantime have
suffered because of lack of food or have missed and lost years in school because of lack of funds. One
cannot delay the payment of such funds for support and education for the reason that if paid long
afterwards, however much the accumulated amount, its payment cannot cure the evil and repair the
damage caused. The children with such belated payment for support and education cannot act as
gluttons and eat voraciously and unwisely, afterwards, to make up for the years of hunger and starvation.
Neither may they enrol in several classes and schools and take up numerous subjects all at once to make
up for the years they missed in school, due to non-payment of the funds when needed.
WHEREFORE, finding no reversible error in the Decision sought to be reviewed, the instant petition is DENIED.
The 31 August 2000 Decision of the Court of Appeals dismissing the Petition for Certiorari instituted by petitioner
Augustus Caezar C. Gan and upholding the validity of the 2 June 2000 Writ of Execution issued by the Regional
Trial Court Br. 61, Baguio City, in Civil Case No. 4234-R, is AFFIRMED. Costs against petitioner.
SO ORDERED.

MA. BELEN B. MANGONON, for and in behalf of her minor children REBECCA ANGELA DELGADO and
REGINA ISABEL DELGADO. Petitioner,

vs.
HON. COURT OF APPEALS, HON. JUDGE JOSEFINA GUEVARA-SALONGA, Presiding Judge, RTC-Makati,
Branch 149, FEDERICO C. DELGADO and FRANCISCO C. DELGADO, Respondents.
DECISION
CHICO-NAZARIO, J.:
1

Before Us is a Petition for Review on Certiorari assailing the Decision of the Court of Appeals dated 20 March
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1996, affirming the Order, dated 12 September 1995 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 149, Makati,
granting support pendente lite to Rebecca Angela (Rica) and Regina Isabel (Rina), both surnamed Delgado.
The generative facts leading to the filing of the present petition are as follows:
On 17 March 1994, petitioner Ma. Belen B. Mangonon filed, in behalf of her then minor children Rica and Rina, a
Petition for Declaration of Legitimacy and Support, with application for support pendente lite with the RTC
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Makati. In said petition, it was alleged that on 16 February 1975, petitioner and respondent Federico Delgado
were civilly married by then City Court Judge Eleuterio Agudo in Legaspi City, Albay. At that time, petitioner was
only 21 years old while respondent Federico was only 19 years old. As the marriage was solemnized without the
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required consent per Article 85 of the New Civil Code, it was annulled on 11 August 1975 by the Quezon City
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Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court.
On 25 March 1976, or within seven months after the annulment of their marriage, petitioner gave birth to twins
Rica and Rina. According to petitioner, she, with the assistance of her second husband Danny Mangonon, raised
her twin daughters as private respondents had totally abandoned them. At the time of the institution of the
petition, Rica and Rina were about to enter college in the United States of America (USA) where petitioner,
together with her daughters and second husband, had moved to and finally settled in. Rica was admitted to the
University of Massachusetts (Amherst) while Rina was accepted by the Long Island University and Western New
England College. Despite their admissions to said universities, Rica and Rina were, however, financially incapable
of pursuing collegiate education because of the following:
i) The average annual cost for college education in the US is about US$22,000/year, broken down as
follows:
Tuition Fees US$13,000.00
Room & Board 5,000.00
Books 1,000.00
Yearly Transportation &
Meal Allowance 3,000.00
Total US$ 22,000.00
or a total of US$44,000.00, more or less, for both Rica and Rina
ii) Additionally, Rica and Rina need general maintenance support each in the amount of US$3,000.00 per
year or a total of US$6,000 per year.

iii) Unfortunately, petitioners monthly income from her 2 jobs is merely US$1,200 after taxes which she
can hardly give general support to Rica and Rina, much less their required college educational support.
iv) Neither can petitioners present husband be compelled to share in the general support and college
education of Rica and Rina since he has his own son with petitioner and own daughter (also in college) to
attend to.
v) Worse, Rica and Rinas petitions for Federal Student Aid have been rejected by the U.S. Department of
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Education.
7

Petitioner likewise averred that demands were made upon Federico and the latters father, Francisco, for
general support and for the payment of the required college education of Rica and Rina. The twin sisters even
exerted efforts to work out a settlement concerning these matters with respondent Federico and respondent
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Francisco, the latter being generally known to be financially well-off. These demands, however, remained
unheeded. Considering the impending deadline for admission to college and the opening of classes, petitioner
and her then minor children had no choice but to file the petition before the trial court.
Petitioner also alleged that Rica and Rina are her legitimate daughters by respondent Federico since the twin
sisters were born within seven months from the date of the annulment of her marriage to respondent Federico.
However, as respondent Federico failed to sign the birth certificates of Rica and Rina, it was imperative that their
status as legitimate children of respondent Federico, and as granddaughters of respondent Francisco, be judicially
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declared pursuant to Article 173 of the Family Code.
As legitimate children and grandchildren, Rica and Rina are entitled to general and educational support under
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Articles 174 and 195(b) in relation to Articles 194(1 and 2) and 199(c) of the Family Code. Petitioner alleged
that under these provisions, in case of default on the part of the parents, the obligation to provide support falls
upon the grandparents of the children; thus, respondent Federico, or in his default, respondent Francisco should
be ordered to provide general and educational support for Rica and Rina in the amount of US$50,000.00, more or
less, per year.
Petitioner also claimed that she was constrained to seek support pendente lite from private respondents - who are
millionaires with extensive assets both here and abroad - in view of the imminent opening of classes, the
possibility of a protracted litigation, and Rica and Rinas lack of financial means to pursue their college education
in the USA.
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In his Answer, respondent Francisco stated that as the birth certificates of Rica and Rina do not bear the
signature of respondent Federico, it is essential that their legitimacy be first established as "there is no basis to
claim support until a final and executory judicial declaration has been made as to the civil status of the
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children." Whatever good deeds he may have done to Rica and Rina, according to respondent Francisco, was
founded on pure acts of Christian charity. He, likewise, averred that the order of liability for support under Article
199 of the Family Code is not concurrent such that the obligation must be borne by those more closely related to
the recipient. In this case, he maintained that responsibility should rest on the shoulders of petitioner and her
second husband, the latter having voluntarily assumed the duties and responsibilities of a natural father. Even
assuming that he is responsible for support, respondent Francisco contends that he could not be made to answer
beyond what petitioner and the father could afford.
17

On 24 May 1994, petitioner filed a Motion to Declare Defendant (respondent herein) Federico in Default. This
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was favorably acted upon by the trial court in the Order dated 16 June 1994.
On 5 August 1994, respondent Federico filed a Motion to Lift Order of Default alleging that the summons and a
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copy of the petition were not served in his correct address. Attached thereto was his Answer where he claimed

that petitioner had no cause of action against him. According to him, he left for abroad and stayed there for a long
time "[w]ithin the first one hundred twenty (120) days of the three hundred days immediately preceding March
25, 1976" and that he only came to know about the birth of Rica and Rina when the twins introduced themselves
to him seventeen years later. In order not to antagonize the two, respondent Federico claimed he did not tell
them that he could not be their father. Even assuming that Rica and Rina are, indeed, his daughters, he alleged
that he could not give them the support they were demanding as he was only making P40,000.00 a month.
Finding sufficient ground in the motion filed by respondent Federico, the trial court lifted its Order dated 16 June
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1994 and admitted his Answer.
In the meantime, on 25 April 1994, petitioner filed an Urgent Motion to Set Application for Support Pendente Lite
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for Hearing because Rica and Rina both badly needed immediate financial resources for their education. This
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Motion was opposed by respondent Francisco. After both parties submitted supplemental pleadings to bolster
their respective positions, the trial court resolved the motion in an Order dated 12 September 1995 in this wise:
WHEREFORE, in the light of the foregoing considerations, respondents are hereby directed to provide a monthly
support (pendente lite) of P5,000.00 each or a total of P10,000.00 for the education of Rebecca Angela and Regina
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Isabel Delgado to be delivered within the first five days of each month without need of demand.
Unsatisfied with the Order of the trial court, petitioner brought the case to the Court of Appeals via Petition for
Certiorari. The Court of Appeals affirmed the holding of the trial court and disposed the petition in the following
manner:
WHEREFORE, the petition for certiorari is hereby DISMISSED and the Order of the lower court dated September
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12, 1995 is hereby AFFIRMED.
Petitioners Motion for Reconsideration was denied through the Resolution of the Court of Appeals dated 16 May
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1996.
Petitioner is now before this Court claiming that the Decision of the Court of Appeals was tainted with the
following errors:
RESPONDENT COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN CONCLUDING THAT RESPONDENT JUDGE DID NOT COMMIT
GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION IN FIXING THE AMOUNT OF MONTHLY SUPPORT PENDENTE LITE GRANTED
TO PETITIONERS CHILDREN AT A MEASLEY P5,000.00 PER CHILD.
I.
RESPONDENT COURT IGNORED EVIDENCE ON RECORD OF THE FINANCIAL INCAPACITY OF RICA AND
RINAS PARENTS IN DEFAULT OF WHOM THE OBLIGATION TO GIVE SUPPORT DEVOLVES ON THE
GRANDFATHER.
II.
IT BEING ESTABLISHED THAT THE PERSON OBLIGED TO GIVE SUPPORT GRANDFATHER DON PACO IS
UNDOUBTEDLY CAPABLE OF GIVING THE AMOUNT DEMANDED, RESPONDENT COURT ERRED IN NOT
HOLDING THAT RESPONDENT JUDGE ACTED WITH GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION IN FIXING AN AMOUNT
OF SUPPORT PENDENTE LITE THAT IS OBVIOUSLY INADEQUATE TO SUPPORT THE EDUCATIONAL
27
REQUIREMENTS OF THE RECIPIENTS.

At the time of the filing of the present Petition, it is alleged that Rica had already entered Rutgers University in
New Jersey with a budget of US$12,500.00 for academic year 1994-1995. She was able to obtain a tuition fee
28
grant of US$1,190.00 and a Federal Stafford loan from the US government in the amount of US$2,615.00. In
order to defray the remaining balance of Ricas education for said school year, petitioner claims that she had to
secure a loan under the Federal Direct Student Loan Program.
Meanwhile, Rina entered CW Post, Long Island University, where she was expected to spend US$20,000.00 for
the school year 1994-1995. She was given a financial grant of US$6,000.00, federal work study assistance of
29
US$2,000.00, and a Federal Stafford loan of US$2,625.00. Again, petitioner obtained a loan to cover the
remainder of Rinas school budget for the year.
Petitioner concedes that under the law, the obligation to furnish support to Rica and Rina should be first imposed
upon their parents. She contends, however, that the records of this case demonstrate her as well as respondent
Federicos inability to give the support needed for Rica and Rinas college education. Consequently, the obligation
to provide support devolves upon respondent Francisco being the grandfather of Rica and Rina.
Petitioner also maintains that as respondent Francisco has the financial resources to help defray the cost of Rica
and Rinas schooling, the Court of Appeals then erred in sustaining the trial courts Order directing respondent
Federico to pay Rica and Rina the amount of award P5,000.00 each as monthly support pendente lite.
On the other hand, respondent Francisco argues that the trial court correctly declared that petitioner and
respondent Federico should be the ones to provide the support needed by their twin daughters pursuant to Article
199 of the Family Code. He also maintains that aside from the financial package availed of by Rica and Rina in the
form of state tuition aid grant, work study program and federal student loan program, petitioner herself was
eligible for, and had availed herself of, the federal parent loan program based on her income and properties in the
USA. He, likewise, insists that assuming he could be held liable for support, he has the option to fulfill the
obligation either by paying the support or receiving and maintaining in the dwelling here in the Philippines the
30
person claiming support. As an additional point to be considered by this Court, he posits the argument that
because petitioner and her twin daughters are now US citizens, they cannot invoke the Family Code provisions on
support as "[l]aws relating to family rights and duties, or to the status, condition and legal capacity of persons are
31
binding upon citizens of the Philippines, even though living abroad."
Respondent Federico, for his part, continues to deny having sired Rica and Rina by reiterating the grounds he had
previously raised before the trial court. Like his father, respondent Federico argues that assuming he is indeed the
father of the twin sisters, he has the option under the law as to how he would provide support. Lastly, he assents
with the declaration of the trial court and the Court of Appeals that the parents of a child should primarily bear the
burden of providing support to their offspring.
The petition is meritorious.
As a preliminary matter, we deem it necessary to briefly discuss the essence of support pendente lite. The
pertinent portion of the Rules of Court on the matter provides:
Rule 61
SUPPORT PENDENTE LITE
SECTION 1. Application.- At the commencement of the proper action or proceeding, or at any time prior to the
judgment or final order, a verified application for support pendente lite may be filed by any party stating the
grounds for the claim and the financial conditions of both parties, and accompanied by affidavits, depositions or
other authentic documents in support thereof.

xxxx
SEC. 4. Order.- The court shall determine provisionally the pertinent facts, and shall render such orders as justice
and equity may require, having due regard to the probable outcome of the case and such other circumstances as
may aid in the proper resolution of the question involved. If the application is granted, the court shall fix the
amount of money to be provisionally paid or such other forms of support as should be provided, taking into
account the necessities of the applicant and the resources or means of the adverse party, and the terms of
payment or mode for providing the support. If the application is denied, the principal case shall be tried and
decided as early as possible.
Under this provision, a court may temporarily grant support pendente lite prior to the rendition of judgment or
final order. Because of its provisional nature, a court does not need to delve fully into the merits of the case before
it can settle an application for this relief. All that a court is tasked to do is determine the kind and amount of
evidence which may suffice to enable it to justly resolve the application. It is enough that the facts be established
32
by affidavits or other documentary evidence appearing in the record. lavvphi1.net
After the hearings conducted on this matter as well as the evidence presented, we find that petitioner was able to
establish, by prima facie proof, the filiation of her twin daughters to private respondents and the twins
entitlement to support pendente lite. In the words of the trial court
By and large, the status of the twins as children of Federico cannot be denied. They had maintained constant
communication with their grandfather Francisco. As a matter of fact, respondent Francisco admitted having
wrote several letters to Rica and Rina (Exhs. A, B, C, D, E, F, G, G-1 to G-30). In the said letters, particularly at the
bottom thereof, respondent Francisco wrote the names of Rica and Rina Delgado. He therefore was very well
aware that they bear the surname Delgado. Likewise, he referred to himself in his letters as either "Lolo Paco" or
"Daddy Paco." In his letter of October 13, 1989 (Exh. G-21), he said "as the grandfather, am extending a financial
help of US$1,000.00." On top of this, respondent Federico even gave the twins a treat to Hongkong during their
visit to the Philippines. Indeed, respondents, by their actuations, have shown beyond doubt that the twins are the
33
children of Federico.
Having addressed the issue of the propriety of the trial courts grant of support pendente lite in favor of Rica and
Rina, the next question is who should be made liable for said award.
The pertinent provision of the Family Code on this subject states:
ART. 199. Whenever two or more persons are obliged to give support, the liability shall devolve upon the
following persons in the order herein provided:
(1) The spouse;
(2) The descendants in the nearest degree;
(3) The ascendants in the nearest degree; and
(4) The brothers and sisters.
An eminent author on the subject explains that the obligation to give support rests principally on those more
closely related to the recipient. However, the more remote relatives may be held to shoulder the responsibility
34
should the claimant prove that those who are called upon to provide support do not have the means to do so.

In this case, both the trial court and the Court of Appeals held respondent Federico liable to provide monthly
supportpendente lite in the total amount of P10,000.00 by taking into consideration his supposed income
of P30,000.00 toP40,000.00 per month. We are, however, unconvinced as to the veracity of this ground relied
upon by the trial court and the Court of Appeals.
It is a basic procedural edict that questions of fact cannot be the proper subject of a petition for review under Rule
45 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure. The rule finds a more stringent application where the Court of Appeals
upholds the findings of fact of the trial court; in such a situation, this Court, as the final arbiter, is generally bound
to adopt the facts as determined by the appellate and the lower courts. This rule, however, is not ironclad as it
admits of the following recognized exceptions: "(1) when the findings are grounded entirely on speculation,
surmises or conjectures; (2) when the inference made is manifestly mistaken, absurd or impossible; (3) when there
is grave abuse of discretion; (4) when the judgment is based on a misapprehension of facts; (5) when the findings
of facts are conflicting; (6) when in making its findings the Court of Appeals went beyond the issues of the case, or
its findings are contrary to the admissions of both the appellant and the appellee; (7) when the findings are
contrary to that of the trial court; (8) when the findings are conclusions without citation of specific evidence on
which they are based; (9) when the facts set forth in the petition as well as in the petitioners main and reply briefs
are not disputed by the respondent; (10) when the findings of fact are premised on the supposed absence of
evidence and contradicted by the evidence on record; and (11) when the Court of Appeals manifestly overlooked
certain relevant facts not disputed by the parties, which, if properly considered, would justify a different
35
conclusion." The case at bar falls within the seventh and eleventh exceptions.
36

37

The trial court gave full credence to respondent Federicos allegation in his Answer and his testimony as to the
amount of his income. We have, however, reviewed the records of this case and found them bereft of evidence to
support his assertions regarding his employment and his earning. Notably, he was even required by petitioners
counsel to present to the court his income tax return and yet the records of this case do not bear a copy of said
38
document. This, to our mind, severely undermines the truthfulness of respondent Federicos assertion with
respect to his financial status and capacity to provide support to Rica and Rina.
In addition, respondent Francisco himself stated in the witness stand that as far as he knew, his son, respondent
Federico did not own anything
"Atty. Lopez:
I have here another letter under the letter head of Mr. & Mrs. Dany Mangonon, dated October 19, 1991 addressed
to Mr. Francisco Delgado signed by "sincerely, Danny Mangonon, can you remember."
xxxx
WITNESS:
A: I do remember this letter because it really irritated me so much that I threw it away in a waste basket. It is a
very demanding letter, that is what I do not like at all.
ATTY. LOPEZ:
Q: It is stated in this letter that "I am making this request to you and not to your son, Rico, for reasons we both are
aware of." Do you know what reason that is?
A: Yes. The reason is that my son do not have fix employment and do not have fix salary and income and they
want to depend on the lolo.

x x x xlavvphi1.net
Q: Would you have any knowledge if Federico owns a house and lot?
A: Not that I know. I do not think he has anything.
Q: How about a car?
A: Well, his car is owned by my company.

39

Respondent Federico himself admitted in court that he had no property of his own, thus:
Q: You also mentioned that you are staying at Mayflower Building and you further earlier testified that this
building belongs to Citadel Corporation. Do you confirm that?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: What car are you driving, Mr. Witness?
A: I am driving a lancer, sir.
Q: What car, that registered in the name of the corporation?
A: In the corporation, sir.
Q: What corporation is that?
A: Citadel Commercial, Inc., sir.
Q: What properties, if any, are registered in your name, do you have any properties, Mr. Witness?
40

A: None, sir." (Emphasis supplied.)


Meanwhile, respondent Francisco asserts that petitioner possessed the capacity to give support to her twin
daughters as she has gainful employment in the USA. He even went as far as to state that petitioners income
abroad, when converted to Philippine peso, was much higher than that received by a trial court judge here in the
Philippines. In addition, he claims that as she qualified for the federal parent loan program, she could very well
support the college studies of her daughters.
We are unconvinced. Respondent Franciscos assertion that petitioner had the means to support her daughters
education is belied by the fact that petitioner was even forced by her financial status in the USA to secure the loan
from the federal government. If petitioner were really making enough money abroad, she certainly would not
have felt the need to apply for said loan. The fact that petitioner was compelled to take out a loan is enough
indication that she did not have enough money to enable her to send her daughters to college by herself.
Moreover, even Rica and Rina themselves were forced by the circumstances they found themselves in to secure
loans under their names so as not to delay their entrance to college.
There being prima facie evidence showing that petitioner and respondent Federico are the parents of Rica and
Rina, petitioner and respondent Federico are primarily charged to support their childrens college education. In
view however of their incapacities, the obligation to furnish said support should be borne by respondent

Francisco. Under Article 199 of the Family Code, respondent Francisco, as the next immediate relative of Rica and
Rina, is tasked to give support to his granddaughters in default of their parents. It bears stressing that respondent
Francisco is the majority stockholder and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Citadel Commercial,
Incorporated, which owns and manages twelve gasoline stations, substantial real estate, and is engaged in
shipping, brokerage and freight forwarding. He is also the majority stockholder and Chairman of the Board of
Directors of Citadel Shipping which does business with Hyundai of Korea. Apart from these, he also owns the
Citadel Corporation which, in turn, owns real properties in different parts of the country. He is likewise the
Chairman of the Board of Directors of Isla Communication Co. and he owns shares of stocks of Citadel Holdings. In
41
addition, he owns real properties here and abroad. It having been established that respondent Francisco has the
financial means to support his granddaughters education, he, in lieu of petitioner and respondent Federico,
should be held liable for supportpendente lite.
Anent respondent Francisco and Federicos claim that they have the option under the law as to how they could
perform their obligation to support Rica and Rina, respondent Francisco insists that Rica and Rina should move
here to the Philippines to study in any of the local universities. After all, the quality of education here, according to
him, is at par with that offered in the USA. The applicable provision of the Family Code on this subject provides:
Art. 204. The person obliged to give support shall have the option to fulfill the obligation either by paying the
allowance fixed, or by receiving and maintaining in the family dwelling the person who has a right to receive
support. The latter alternative cannot be availed of in case there is a moral or legal obstacle thereto.
Under the abovecited provision, the obligor is given the choice as to how he could dispense his obligation to give
support. Thus, he may give the determined amount of support to the claimant or he may allow the latter to stay in
the family dwelling. The second option cannot be availed of in case there are circumstances, legal or moral, which
should be considered.
In this case, this Court believes that respondent Francisco could not avail himself of the second option. From the
records, we gleaned that prior to the commencement of this action, the relationship between respondent
Francisco, on one hand, and petitioner and her twin daughters, on the other, was indeed quite pleasant. The
correspondences exchanged among them expressed profound feelings of thoughtfulness and concern for one
anothers well-being. The photographs presented by petitioner as part of her exhibits presented a seemingly
typical family celebrating kinship. All of these, however, are now things of the past. With the filing of this case,
and the allegations hurled at one another by the parties, the relationships among the parties had certainly been
affected. Particularly difficult for Rica and Rina must be the fact that those who they had considered and claimed
as family denied having any familial relationship with them. Given all these, we could not see Rica and Rina
moving back here in the Philippines in the company of those who have disowned them.
Finally, as to the amount of support pendente lite, we take our bearings from the provision of the law mandating
the amount of support to be proportionate to the resources or means of the giver and to the necessities of the
42
recipient. Guided by this principle, we hold respondent Francisco liable for half of the amount of school expenses
incurred by Rica and Rina as support pendente lite. As established by petitioner, respondent Francisco has the
financial resources to pay this amount given his various business endeavors.
Considering, however, that the twin sisters may have already been done with their education by the time of the
43
promulgation of this decision, we deem it proper to award support pendente lite in arrears to be computed from
the time they entered college until they had finished their respective studies.
The issue of the applicability of Article 15 of the Civil Code on petitioner and her twin daughters raised by
respondent Francisco is best left for the resolution of the trial court. After all, in case it would be resolved that Rica
and Rina are not entitled to support pendente lite, the court shall then order the return of the amounts already
44
paid with legal interest from the dates of actual payment.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, this Petition is PARTIALLY GRANTED. The Decision of the Court of Appeals
dated 20 March 1996 and Resolution dated 16 May 1996 affirming the Order dated 12 September 1995 of the
Regional Trial Court, Branch 149, Makati, fixing the amount of support pendente lite to P5,000.00 for Rebecca
Angela and Regina Isabel, are hereby MODIFIED in that respondent Francisco Delgado is hereby held liable for
support pendente lite in the amount to be determined by the trial court pursuant to this Decision. Let the records
of this case be remanded to the trial court for the determination of the proper amount of support pendente lite for
Rebecca Angela and Regina Isabel as well as the arrearages due them in accordance with this Decision within ten
(10) days from receipt hereof. Concomitantly, the trial court is directed to proceed with the trial of the main case
and the immediate resolution of the same with deliberate dispatch. The RTC Judge, Branch 149, Makati, is further
directed to submit a report of his compliance with the directive regarding the support pendente lite within ten (10)
days from compliance thereof.
SO ORDERED.

SPOUSES PRUDENCIO and FILOMENA LIM, Petitioners,


vs.
MA. CHERYL S. LIM, for herself and on behalf of her minor children LESTER EDWARD S. LIM, CANDICE
GRACE S. LIM, and MARIANO S. LIM, III, Respondents.
DECISION
CARPIO, J.:
The Case
1

For review is the Decision of the Court of Appeals, dated 28 April 2003, ordering petitioners Prudencio and
Filomena Lim (petitioners) to provide legal support to respondents Cheryl, Lester Edward, Candice Grace and
Mariano III, all surnamed Lim (respondents).
The Facts
In 1979, respondent Cheryl S. Lim (Cheryl) married Edward Lim (Edward), son of petitioners. Cheryl bore Edward
three children, respondents Lester Edward, Candice Grace and Mariano III. Cheryl, Edward and their children
resided at the house of petitioners in Forbes Park, Makati City, together with Edwards ailing grandmother, Chua
Giak and her husband Mariano Lim (Mariano). Edwards family business, which provided him with a monthly
salary of P6,000, shouldered the family expenses. Cheryl had no steady source of income.
On 14 October 1990, Cheryl abandoned the Forbes Park residence, bringing the children with her (then all
minors), after a violent confrontation with Edward whom she caught with the in-house midwife of Chua Giak in
3
what the trial court described "a very compromising situation."

Cheryl, for herself and her children, sued petitioners, Edward, Chua Giak and Mariano (defendants) in the
Regional Trial Court of Makati City, Branch 140 (trial court) for support. The trial court ordered Edward to provide
4
monthly support of P6,000 pendente lite.
The Ruling of the Trial Court
On 31 January 1996, the trial court rendered judgment ordering Edward and petitioners to "jointly"
provide P40,000 monthly support to respondents, with Edward shouldering P6,000 and petitioners the balance
5
of P34,000 subject to Chua Giaks subsidiary liability.
The defendants sought reconsideration, questioning their liability. The trial court, while denying reconsideration,
clarified that petitioners and Chua Giak were held jointly liable with Edward because of the latters "inability x x x
6
to give sufficient support x x x."
Petitioners appealed to the Court of Appeals assailing, among others, their liability to support respondents.
Petitioners argued that while Edwards income is insufficient, the law itself sanctions its effects by providing that
legal support should be "in keeping with the financial capacity of the family" under Article 194 of the Civil Code, as
7
amended by Executive Order No. 209 (The Family Code of the Philippines).
The Ruling of the Court of Appeals
In its Decision dated 28 April 2003, the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court. On the issue material to this
appeal, that is, whether there is basis to hold petitioners, as Edwards parents, liable with him to support
respondents, the Court of Appeals held:
The law on support under Article 195 of the Family Code is clear on this matter. Parents and their legitimate
children are obliged to mutually support one another and this obligation extends down to the legitimate
grandchildren and great grandchildren.
In connection with this provision, Article 200 paragraph (3) of the Family Code clearly provides that should the
person obliged to give support does not have sufficient means to satisfy all claims, the other persons enumerated
in Article 199 in its order shall provide the necessary support. This is because the closer the relationship of the
relatives, the stronger the tie that binds them. Thus, the obligation to support is imposed first upon the shoulders
8
of the closer relatives and only in their default is the obligation moved to the next nearer relatives and so on.
Petitioners sought reconsideration but the Court of Appeals denied their motion in the Resolution dated 12 April
2004.
Hence, this petition.
The Issue
The issue is whether petitioners are concurrently liable with Edward to provide support to respondents.
The Ruling of the Court
We rule in the affirmative. However, we modify the appealed judgment by limiting petitioners liability to the
amount of monthly support needed by respondents Lester Edward, Candice Grace and Mariano III only.
Petitioners Liable to Provide Support but only to their Grandchildren

10

By statutory and jurisprudential mandate, the liability of ascendants to provide legal support to their
descendants is beyond cavil. Petitioners themselves admit as much they limit their petition to the narrow
11
question of when their liability is triggered, not if they are liable. Relying on provisions found in Title IX of the
Civil Code, as amended, on Parental Authority, petitioners theorize that their liability is activated only
12
13
upon default of parental authority, conceivably either by its termination or suspension during the childrens
minority. Because at the time respondents sued for support, Cheryl and Edward exercised parental authority over
14
their children, petitioners submit that the obligation to support the latters offspring ends with them.
Neither the text of the law nor the teaching of jurisprudence supports this severe constriction of the scope of
familial obligation to give support. In the first place, the governing text are the relevant provisions in Title VIII of
the Civil Code, as amended, on Support, not the provisions in Title IX on Parental Authority. While both areas
15
share a common ground in that parental authority encompasses the obligation to provide legal support, they
differ in other concerns including the duration of the obligation and its concurrence among relatives of differing
16
degrees. Thus, although the obligation to provide support arising from parental authority ends upon the
17
emancipation of the child, the same obligation arising from spousal and general familial ties ideally lasts during
the obligee's lifetime.. Also, while parental authority under Title IX (and the correlative parental rights) pertains to
parents, passing to ascendants only upon its termination or suspension, the obligation to provide legal support
passes on to ascendants not only upon default of the parents but also for the latters inability to provide sufficient
support. As we observed in another case raising the ancillary issue of an ascendants obligation to give support in
light of the fathers sufficient means:
Professor Pineda is of the view that grandchildren cannot demand support directly from their grandparents if they
have parents (ascendants of nearest degree) who are capable of supporting them. This is so because we have to
follow the order of support under Art. 199. We agree with this view.
xxxx
There is no showing that private respondent is without means to support his son; neither is there any evidence
to prove that petitioner, as the paternal grandmother, was willing to voluntarily provide for her grandson's legal
18
support. x x x (Emphasis supplied; internal citations omitted)
Here, there is no question that Cheryl is unable to discharge her obligation to provide sufficient legal support to
her children, then all school-bound. It is also undisputed that the amount of support Edward is able to give to
respondents, P6,000 a month, is insufficient to meet respondents basic needs. This inability of Edward and Cheryl
to sufficiently provide for their children shifts a portion of their obligation to the ascendants in the nearest degree,
19
both in the paternal (petitioners) and maternal lines, following the ordering in Article 199. To hold otherwise,
and thus subscribe to petitioners theory, is to sanction the anomalous scenario of tolerating extreme material
deprivation of children because of parental inability to give adequate support even if ascendants one degree
removed are more than able to fill the void.1avvphi1
However, petitioners partial concurrent obligation extends only to their descendants as this word is commonly
understood to refer to relatives, by blood of lower degree. As petitioners grandchildren by blood, only
respondents Lester Edward, Candice Grace and Mariano III belong to this category. Indeed, Cheryls right to
receive support from the Lim family extends only to her husband Edward, arising from their marital
20
bond. Unfortunately, Cheryls share from the amount of monthly support the trial court awarded cannot be
determined from the records. Thus, we are constrained to remand the case to the trial court for this limited
21
purpose.
Petitioners Precluded from Availing of the Alternative Option Under
Article 204 of the Civil Code, as Amended

As an alternative proposition, petitioners wish to avail of the option in Article 204 of the Civil Code, as amended,
and pray that they be allowed to fulfill their obligation by maintaining respondents at petitioners Makati
residence. The option is unavailable to petitioners.
The application of Article 204 which provides that
The person obliged to give support shall have the option to fulfill the obligation either by paying the allowance
fixed, or by receiving and maintaining in the family dwelling the person who has a right to receive support. The
latter alternative cannot be availed of in case there is a moral or legal obstacle thereto. (Emphasis supplied)
is subject to its exception clause. Here, the persons entitled to receive support are petitioners grandchildren and
daughter-in-law. Granting petitioners the option in Article 204 will secure to the grandchildren a well-provided
future; however, it will also force Cheryl to return to the house which, for her, is the scene of her husbands
infidelity. While not rising to the level of a legal obstacle, as indeed, Cheryls charge against Edward for
concubinage did not prosper for insufficient evidence, her steadfast insistence on its occurrence amounts to
a moral impediment bringing the case within the ambit of the exception clause of Article 204, precluding its
application.
WHEREFORE, we DENY the petition. We AFFIRM the Decision of the Court of Appeals, dated 28 April 2003, and
its Resolution dated 12 April 2004 with the MODIFICATION that petitioners Prudencio and Filomena Lim are
liable to provide support only to respondents Lester Edward, Candice Grace and Mariano III, all surnamed Lim.
WeREMAND the case to the Regional Trial Court of Makati City, Branch 140, for further proceedings consistent
with this ruling.
SO ORDERED.

CHERRYL B. DOLINA, Petitioner,


vs.
GLENN D. VALLECERA, Respondent.
DECISION
ABAD, J.:
This case is about a mothers claim for temporary support of an unacknowledged child, which she sought in an
action for the issuance of a temporary protection order that she brought against the supposed father.
The Facts and the Case
In February 2008 petitioner Cherryl B. Dolina filed a petition with prayer for the issuance of a temporary
protection order against respondent Glenn D. Vallecera before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Tacloban City in
1
2
P.O. 2008-02-07 for alleged woman and child abuse under Republic Act (R.A.) 9262. In filling out the blanks in
3
the pro-formacomplaint, Dolina added a handwritten prayer for financial support from Vallecera for their
supposed child. She based her prayer on the latters Certificate of Live Birth which listed Vallecera as the childs
father. The petition also asked the RTC to order Philippine Airlines, Valleceras employer, to withhold from his pay
such amount of support as the RTC may deem appropriate.
Vallecera opposed the petition. He claimed that Dolinas petition was essentially one for financial support rather
than for protection against woman and child abuses; that he was not the childs father; that the signature

appearing on the childs Certificate of Live Birth is not his; that the petition is a harassment suit intended to force
him to acknowledge the child as his and give it financial support; and that Vallecera has never lived nor has been
living with Dolina, rendering unnecessary the issuance of a protection order against him.
4

On March 13, 2008 the RTC dismissed the petition after hearing since no prior judgment exists establishing the
filiation of Dolinas son and granting him the right to support as basis for an order to compel the giving of such
5
support. Dolina filed a motion for reconsideration but the RTC denied it in its April 4, 2008 Order, with an
admonition that she first file a petition for compulsory recognition of her child as a prerequisite for support.
Unsatisfied, Dolina filed the present petition for review directly with this Court.
The Issue Presented
The sole issue presented in this case is whether or not the RTC correctly dismissed Dolinas action for temporary
protection and denied her application for temporary support for her child.
The Courts Ruling
Dolina evidently filed the wrong action to obtain support for her child. The object of R.A. 9262 under which she
6
filed the case is the protection and safety of women and children who are victims of abuse or violence. Although
the issuance of a protection order against the respondent in the case can include the grant of legal support for the
wife and the child, this assumes that both are entitled to a protection order and to legal support.
Dolina of course alleged that Vallecera had been abusing her and her child.1avvphil But it became apparent to the
RTC upon hearing that this was not the case since, contrary to her claim, neither she nor her child ever lived with
Vallecera. As it turned out, the true object of her action was to get financial support from Vallecera for her child,
her claim being that he is the father. He of course vigorously denied this.
To be entitled to legal support, petitioner must, in proper action, first establish the filiation of the child, if the
same is not admitted or acknowledged. Since Dolinas demand for support for her son is based on her claim that
he is Valleceras illegitimate child, the latter is not entitled to such support if he had not acknowledged him, until
7
Dolina shall have proved his relation to him. The childs remedy is to file through her mother a judicial action
8
against Vallecera for compulsory recognition. If filiation is beyond question, support follows as matter of
9
obligation. In short, illegitimate children are entitled to support and successional rights but their filiation must be
10
duly proved.
Dolinas remedy is to file for the benefit of her child an action against Vallecera for compulsory recognition in
order to establish filiation and then demand support. Alternatively, she may directly file an action for support,
11
where the issue of compulsory recognition may be integrated and resolved.
It must be observed, however, that the RTC should not have dismissed the entire case based solely on the lack of
any judicial declaration of filiation between Vallecera and Dolinas child since the main issue remains to be the
alleged violence committed by Vallecera against Dolina and her child and whether they are entitled to protection.
But of course, this matter is already water under the bridge since Dolina failed to raise this error on review. This
omission lends credence to the conclusion of the RTC that the real purpose of the petition is to obtain support
from Vallecera.
While the Court is mindful of the best interests of the child in cases involving paternity and filiation, it is just as
aware of the disturbance that unfounded paternity suits cause to the privacy and peace of the putative fathers
12
legitimate family. Vallecera disowns Dolinas child and denies having a hand in the preparation and signing of its
certificate of birth. This issue has to be resolved in an appropriate case.

ACCORDINGLY, the Court DENIES the petition and AFFIRMS the Regional Trial Court of Tacloban Citys Order
dated March 13, 2008 that dismissed petitioner Cherryl B. Dolinas action in P.O. 2008-02-07, and Order dated
April 4, 2008, denying her motion for reconsideration dated March 28, 2008.
SO ORDERED.

SUSAN LIM-LUA, Petitioner,


vs.
DANILO Y. LUA, Respondent.
DECISION
VILLARAMA, JR., J.:
1

In this petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45, petitioner seeks to set aside the Decision dated April 20,
2
2006 and Resolution dated October 26, 2006 of the Court of Appeals (CA) dismissing her petition for contempt
(CA-G.R. SP No. 01154) and granting respondent's petition for certiorari (CA-G.R. SP No. 01315).
The factual background is as follows:
3

On September 3, 2003, petitioner Susan Lim-Lua filed an action for the declaration of nullity of her marriage with
respondent Danilo Y. Lua, docketed as Civil Case No. CEB-29346 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Cebu City,
Branch 14.
In her prayer for support pendente lite for herself and her two children, petitioner sought the amount
of P500,000.00 as monthly support, citing respondents huge earnings from salaries and dividends in several
4
companies and businesses here and abroad.
5

After due hearing, Judge Raphael B. Yrastorza, Sr. issued an Order dated March 31, 2004 granting support
pendente lite, as follows:
From the evidence already adduced by the parties, the amount of Two Hundred Fifty (P250,000.00) Thousand
Pesos would be sufficient to take care of the needs of the plaintiff. This amount excludes the One hundred thirtyfive (P135,000.00) Thousand Pesos for medical attendance expenses needed by plaintiff for the operation of both
her eyes which is demandable upon the conduct of such operation. The amounts already extended to the two (2)
children, being a commendable act of defendant, should be continued by him considering the vast financial
resources at his disposal.
According to Art. 203 of the Family Code, support is demandable from the time plaintiff needed the said support
but is payable only from the date of judicial demand. Since the instant complaint was filed on 03 September 2003,
the amount of Two Hundred Fifty (P250,000.00) Thousand should be paid by defendant to plaintiff retroactively
to such date until the hearing of the support pendente lite. P250,000.00 x 7 corresponding to the seven (7) months
that lapsed from September, 2003 to March 2004 would tantamount to a total of One Million Seven Hundred Fifty
(P1,750,000.00) Thousand Pesos. Thereafter, starting the month of April 2004, until otherwise ordered by this
Court, defendant is ordered to pay a monthly support of Two Hundred Fifty Thousand (P250,000.00) Pesos
payable within the first five (5) days of each corresponding month pursuant to the third paragraph of Art. 203 of
the Family Code of the Philippines. The monthly support of P250,000.00 is without prejudice to any increase or
decrease thereof that this Court may grant plaintiff as the circumstances may warrant i.e. depending on the proof
6
submitted by the parties during the proceedings for the main action for support.

Respondent filed a motion for reconsideration, asserting that petitioner is not entitled to spousal support
considering that she does not maintain for herself a separate dwelling from their children and respondent has
continued to support the family for their sustenance and well-being in accordance with familys social and
financial standing. As to the P250,000.00 granted by the trial court as monthly support pendente lite, as well as
theP1,750,000.00 retroactive support, respondent found it unconscionable and beyond the intendment of the law
for not having considered the needs of the respondent.
In its May 13, 2004 Order, the trial court stated that the March 31, 2004 Order had become final and executory
since respondents motion for reconsideration is treated as a mere scrap of paper for violation of the threeday
notice period under Section 4, Rule 15 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, as amended, and therefore did not
interrupt the running of the period to appeal. Respondent was given ten (10) days to show cause why he should
8
not be held in contempt of the court for disregarding the March 31, 2004 order granting support pendente lite.
His second motion for reconsideration having been denied, respondent filed a petition for certiorari in the CA.
9

On April 12, 2005, the CA rendered its Decision, finding merit in respondents contention that the trial court
gravely abused its discretion in granting P250,000.00 monthly support to petitioner without evidence to prove his
actual income. The said court thus decreed:
WHEREFORE, foregoing premises considered, this petition is given due course. The assailed Orders dated March
31, 2004, May 13, 2004, June 4, 2004 and June 18, 2004 of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 14, Cebu City issued in
Civil Case No. CEB No. 29346 entitled "Susan Lim Lua versus Danilo Y. Lua" are hereby nullified and set aside and
instead a new one is entered ordering herein petitioner:
a) to pay private respondent a monthly support pendente lite of P115,000.00 beginning the month of
April 2005 and every month thereafter within the first five (5) days thereof;
b) to pay the private respondent the amount of P115,000.00 a month multiplied by the number of
months starting from September 2003 until March 2005 less than the amount supposedly given by
petitioner to the private respondent as her and their two (2) children monthly support; and
c) to pay the costs.
SO ORDERED.

10

11

Neither of the parties appealed this decision of the CA. In a Compliance dated June 28, 2005, respondent
attached a copy of a check he issued in the amount of P162,651.90 payable to petitioner. Respondent explained
that, as decreed in the CA decision, he deducted from the amount of support in arrears (September 3, 2003 to
March 2005) ordered by the CA -- P2,185,000.00 -- plus P460,000.00 (April, May, June and July 2005),
totalingP2,645,000.00, the advances given by him to his children and petitioner in the sum of P2,482,348.16 (with
attached photocopies of receipts/billings).
12

In her Comment to Compliance with Motion for Issuance of a Writ of Execution, petitioner asserted that none of
the expenses deducted by respondent may be chargeable as part of the monthly support contemplated by the CA
in CA-G.R. SP No. 84740.
13

On September 27, 2005, the trial court issued an Order granting petitioners motion for issuance of a writ of
execution as it rejected respondents interpretation of the CA decision. Respondent filed a motion for
reconsideration and subsequently also filed a motion for inhibition of Judge Raphael B. Yrastorza, Sr. On
14
November 25, 2005, Judge Yrastorza, Sr. issued an Order denying both motions.

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing premises, both motions are DENIED. Since a second motion for
reconsideration is prohibited under the Rules, this denial has attained finality; let, therefore, a writ of execution be
issued in favor of plaintiff as against defendant for the accumulated support in arrears pendente lite.
Notify both parties of this Order.
SO ORDERED.

15

Since respondent still failed and refused to pay the support in arrears pendente lite, petitioner filed in the CA a
Petition for Contempt of Court with Damages, docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 01154 ("Susan Lim Lua versus Danilo
Y. Lua"). Respondent, on the other hand, filed CA-G.R. SP No. 01315, a Petition for Certiorari under Rule 65 of the
Rules of Court ("Danilo Y. Lua versus Hon. Raphael B. Yrastorza, Sr., in his capacity as Presiding Judge of Regional
Trial Court of Cebu, Branch 14, and Susan Lim Lua"). The two cases were consolidated.
By Decision dated April 20, 2006, the CA set aside the assailed orders of the trial court, as follows:
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered:
a) DISMISSING, for lack of merit, the case of Petition for Contempt of Court with Damages filed by Susan
Lim Lua against Danilo Y. Lua with docket no. SP. CA-GR No. 01154;
b) GRANTING Danilo Y. Luas Petition for Certiorari docketed as SP. CA-GR No. 01315. Consequently, the
assailed Orders dated 27 September 2005 and 25 November 2005 of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 14,
Cebu City issued in Civil Case No. CEB-29346 entitled "Susan Lim Lua versus Danilo Y. Lua, are hereby
NULLIFIED and SET ASIDE, and instead a new one is entered:
i. ORDERING the deduction of the amount of PhP2,482,348.16 plus 946,465.64, or a total of
PhP3,428,813.80 from the current total support in arrears of Danilo Y. Lua to his wife, Susan Lim
Lua and their two (2) children;
ii. ORDERING Danilo Y. Lua to resume payment of his monthly support of PhP115,000.00 pesos
starting from the time payment of this amount was deferred by him subject to the deductions
aforementioned.
iii. DIRECTING the issuance of a permanent writ of preliminary injunction.
SO ORDERED.

16

The appellate court said that the trial court should not have completely disregarded the expenses incurred by
respondent consisting of the purchase and maintenance of the two cars, payment of tuition fees, travel expenses,
and the credit card purchases involving groceries, dry goods and books, which certainly inured to the benefit not
only of the two children, but their mother (petitioner) as well. It held that respondents act of deferring the
monthly support adjudged in CA-G.R. SP No. 84740 was not contumacious as it was anchored on valid and
justifiable reasons. Respondent said he just wanted the issue of whether to deduct his advances be settled first in
view of the different interpretation by the trial court of the appellate courts decision in CA-G.R. SP No. 84740. It
also noted the lack of contribution from the petitioner in the joint obligation of spouses to support their children.
Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration but it was denied by the CA.
Hence, this petition raising the following errors allegedly committed by the CA:

I.
THE HONORABLE COURT ERRED IN NOT FINDING RESPONDENT GUILTY OF INDIRECT CONTEMPT.
II.
THE HONORABLE COURT ERRED IN ORDERING THE DEDUCTION OF THE AMOUNT OF
PHP2,482,348.16 PLUS 946,465.64, OR A TOTAL OF PHP3,428,813.80 FROM THE CURRENT TOTAL
17
SUPPORT IN ARREARS OF THE RESPONDENT TO THE PETITIONER AND THEIR CHILDREN.
The main issue is whether certain expenses already incurred by the respondent may be deducted from the total
support in arrears owing to petitioner and her children pursuant to the Decision dated April 12, 2005 in CA-G.R. SP
No. 84740.
The pertinent provision of the Family Code of the Philippines provides:
Article 194. Support comprises everything indispensable for sustenance, dwelling, clothing, medical attendance,
education and transportation, in keeping with the financial capacity of the family.
The education of the person entitled to be supported referred to in the preceding paragraph shall include his
schooling or training for some profession, trade or vocation, even beyond the age of majority. Transportation
shall include expenses in going to and from school, or to and from place of work. (Emphasis supplied.)
Petitioner argues that it was patently erroneous for the CA to have allowed the deduction of the value of the two
cars and their maintenance costs from the support in arrears, as these items are not indispensable to the
sustenance of the family or in keeping them alive. She points out that in the Decision in CA-G.R. SP No. 84740, the
CA already considered the said items which it deemed chargeable to respondent, while the monthly support
pendente lite (P115,000.00) was fixed on the basis of the documentary evidence of respondents alleged income
from various businesses and petitioners testimony that she needed P113,000.00 for the maintenance of the
household and other miscellaneous expenses excluding the P135,000.00 medical attendance expenses of
petitioner.
Respondent, on the other hand, contends that disallowing the subject deductions would result in unjust
enrichment, thus making him pay for the same obligation twice. Since petitioner and the children resided in one
residence, the groceries and dry goods purchased by the children using respondents credit card,
totalling P594,151.58 for the period September 2003 to June 2005 were not consumed by the children alone but
shared with their mother. As to the Volkswagen Beetle and BMW 316i respondent bought for his daughter Angelli
Suzanne Lua and Daniel Ryan Lua, respectively, these, too, are to be considered advances for support, in keeping
with the financial capacity of the family. Respondent stressed that being children of parents belonging to the
upper-class society, Angelli and Daniel Ryan had never in their entire life commuted from one place to another,
nor do they eat their meals at "carinderias". Hence, the cars and their maintenance are indispensable to the
childrens day-to-day living, the value of which were properly deducted from the arrearages in support pendente
lite ordered by the trial and appellate courts.
As a matter of law, the amount of support which those related by marriage and family relationship is generally
obliged to give each other shall be in proportion to the resources or means of the giver and to the needs of the
18
recipient. Such support comprises everything indispensable for sustenance, dwelling, clothing, medical
attendance, education and transportation, in keeping with the financial capacity of the family.
Upon receipt of a verified petition for declaration of absolute nullity of void marriage or for annulment of voidable
marriage, or for legal separation, and at any time during the proceeding, the court, motu proprio or upon verified

application of any of the parties, guardian or designated custodian, may temporarily grant support pendente lite
19
prior to the rendition of judgment or final order. Because of its provisional nature, a court does not need to delve
fully into the merits of the case before it can settle an application for this relief. All that a court is tasked to do is
determine the kind and amount of evidence which may suffice to enable it to justly resolve the application. It is
20
enough that the facts be established by affidavits or other documentary evidence appearing in the record.
In this case, the amount of monthly support pendente lite for petitioner and her two children was determined
after due hearing and submission of documentary evidence by the parties. Although the amount fixed by the trial
court was reduced on appeal, it is clear that the monthly support pendente lite of P115,000.00 ordered by the CA
was intended primarily for the sustenance of petitioner and her children, e.g., food, clothing, salaries of drivers
and house helpers, and other household expenses. Petitioners testimony also mentioned the cost of regular
therapy for her scoliosis and vitamins/medicines.
ATTY. ZOSA:
xxxx
Q How much do you spend for your food and your two (2) children every month?
A Presently, Sir?
ATTY. ZOSA:
Yes.
A For the food alone, I spend not over P40,000.00 to P50,000.00 a month for the food alone.
xxxx
ATTY. ZOSA:
Q What other expenses do you incur in living in that place?
A The normal household and the normal expenses for a family to have a decent living, Sir.
Q How much other expenses do you incur?
WITNESS:
A For other expenses, is around over a P100,000.00, Sir.
Q Why do you incur that much amount?
A For the clothing for the three (3) of us, for the vitamins and medicines. And also I am having a special therapy to
straighten my back because I am scoliotic. I am advised by the Doctor to hire a driver, but I cannot still afford it
now. Because my eyesight is not reliable for driving. And I still need another househelp to accompany me
whenever I go marketing because for my age, I cannot carry anymore heavy loads.
xxxx

ATTY. FLORES:
xxxx
Q On the issue of the food for you and the two (2) children, you mentioned P40,000.00 to P50,000.00?
A Yes, for the food alone.
Q Okay, what other possible expenses that you would like to include in those two (2) items? You mentioned of a
driver, am I correct?
A Yes, I might need two (2) drivers, Sir for me and my children.
Q Okay. How much would you like possibly to pay for those two (2) drivers?
A I think P10,000.00 a month for one (1) driver. So I need two (2) drivers. And I need another househelp.
Q You need another househelp. The househelp nowadays would charge you something between P3,000.00
toP4,000.00. Thats quite
A Right now, my househelp is receiving P8,000.00. I need another which I will give a compensation of P5,000.00.
Q Other than that, do you still have other expenses?
A My clothing.
COURT:
How about the schooling for your children?
WITNESS:
A The schooling is shouldered by my husband, Your Honor.
COURT:
Everything?
A Yes, Your Honor.
xxxx
ATTY. FLORES:
Q Madam witness, let us talk of the present needs. x x x. What else, what specific need that you would like to add
so I can tell my client, the defendant.
WITNESS:

A I need to have an operation both of my eyes. I also need a special therapy for my back because I am scoliotic,
three (3) times a week.
Q That is very reasonable. [W]ould you care to please repeat that?
A Therapy for my scoliotic back and then also for the operation both of my eyes. And I am also taking some
vitamins from excel that will cost P20,000.00 a month.
Q Okay. Lets have piece by piece. Have you asked the Doctor how much would it cost you for the operation of
that scoliotic?
A Yes before because I was already due last year. Before, this eye will cost P60,000.00 and the other
eyesP75,000.00.
Q So for both eyes, you are talking of P60,000.00 plus P75,000.00 is P135,000.00?
A Yes.
xxxx
Q You talk of therapy?
A Yes.
Q So how much is that?
A Around P5,000.00 a week.

21

As to the financial capacity of the respondent, it is beyond doubt that he can solely provide for the subsistence,
education, transportation, health/medical needs and recreational activities of his children, as well as those of
petitioner who was then unemployed and a full-time housewife. Despite this, respondents counsel manifested
during the same hearing that respondent was willing to grant the amount of only P75,000.00 as monthly support
pendente lite both for the children and petitioner as spousal support. Though the receipts of expenses submitted
in court unmistakably show how much respondent lavished on his children, it appears that the matter of spousal
support was a different matter altogether. Rejecting petitioners prayer for P500,000.00 monthly support and
finding the P75,000.00 monthly support offered by respondent as insufficient, the trial court fixed the monthly
support pendente lite at P250,000.00. However, since the supposed income in millions of respondent was based
merely on the allegations of petitioner in her complaint and registration documents of various corporations which
respondent insisted are owned not by him but his parents and siblings, the CA reduced the amount of support
pendente lite toP115,000.00, which ruling was no longer questioned by both parties.
Controversy between the parties resurfaced when respondents compliance with the final CA decision indicated
that he deducted from the total amount in arrears (P2,645,000.00) the sum of P2,482,348.16, representing the
value of the two cars for the children, their cost of maintenance and advances given to petitioner and his children.
Respondent explained that the deductions were made consistent with the fallo of the CA Decision in CA-G.R. SP
No. 84740 ordering him to pay support pendente lite in arrears less the amount supposedly given by him to
petitioner as her and their two childrens monthly support.
The following is a summary of the subject deductions under Compliance dated June 28, 2005, duly supported by
22
receipts :

Car purchases for Angelli Suzanne -

Php1,350,000.00

and Daniel Ryan -

613,472.86

Car Maintenance fees of Angelli Suzanne

51,232.50

Credit card statements of Daniel Ryan -

348,682.28

Car Maintenance fees of Daniel Ryan -

118,960.52
Php2,482,348.16

After the trial court disallowed the foregoing deductions, respondent filed a motion for reconsideration further
asserting that the following amounts, likewise with supporting receipts, be considered as additional advances
23
given to petitioner and the children :
Medical expenses of Susan Lim-Lua

Php 42,450.71

Dental Expenses of Daniel Ryan

11,500.00

Travel expenses of Susan Lim-Lua

14,611.15

Credit card purchases of Angelli


Suzanne

408,891.08

Salon and travel expenses of Angelli


Suzanne

87,112.70

School expenses of Daniel Ryan Lua

260,900.00

Cash given to Daniel and Angelli

121,000.00

TOTAL GRAND TOTAL -

Php 946,465.64
Php 3,428,813.80

The CA, in ruling for the respondent said that all the foregoing expenses already incurred by the respondent
should, in equity, be considered advances which may be properly deducted from the support in arrears due to the
petitioner and the two children. Said court also noted the absence of petitioners contribution to the joint
obligation of support for their children.
We reverse in part the decision of the CA.
Judicial determination of support pendente lite in cases of legal separation and petitions for declaration of nullity
24
or annulment of marriage are guided by the following provisions of the Rule on Provisional Orders
Sec. 2. Spousal Support.In determining support for the spouses, the court may be guided by the following rules:

(a) In the absence of adequate provisions in a written agreement between the spouses, the spouses may
be supported from the properties of the absolute community or the conjugal partnership.
(b) The court may award support to either spouse in such amount and for such period of time as the court
may deem just and reasonable based on their standard of living during the marriage.
(c) The court may likewise consider the following factors: (1) whether the spouse seeking support is the
custodian of a child whose circumstances make it appropriate for that spouse not to seek outside
employment; (2) the time necessary to acquire sufficient education and training to enable the spouse
seeking support to find appropriate employment, and that spouses future earning capacity; (3) the
duration of the marriage; (4) the comparative financial resources of the spouses, including their
comparative earning abilities in the labor market; (5) the needs and obligations of each spouse; (6) the
contribution of each spouse to the marriage, including services rendered in home-making, child care,
education, and career building of the other spouse; (7) the age and health of the spouses; (8) the physical
and emotional conditions of the spouses; (9) the ability of the supporting spouse to give support, taking
into account that spouses earning capacity, earned and unearned income, assets, and standard of living;
and (10) any other factor the court may deem just and equitable.
(d) The Family Court may direct the deduction of the provisional support from the salary of the spouse.
Sec. 3. Child Support.The common children of the spouses shall be supported from the properties of the absolute
community or the conjugal partnership.
Subject to the sound discretion of the court, either parent or both may be ordered to give an amount necessary
for the support, maintenance, and education of the child. It shall be in proportion to the resources or means of the
giver and to the necessities of the recipient.
In determining the amount of provisional support, the court may likewise consider the following factors: (1) the
financial resources of the custodial and non-custodial parent and those of the child; (2) the physical and emotional
health of the child and his or her special needs and aptitudes; (3) the standard of living the child has been
accustomed to; (4) the non-monetary contributions that the parents will make toward the care and well-being of
the child.
The Family Court may direct the deduction of the provisional support from the salary of the parent.
Since the amount of monthly support pendente lite as fixed by the CA was not appealed by either party, there is
no controversy as to its sufficiency and reasonableness. The dispute concerns the deductions made by respondent
in settling the support in arrears.
On the issue of crediting of money payments or expenses against accrued support, we find as relevant the
following rulings by US courts.
25

In Bradford v. Futrell, appellant sought review of the decision of the Circuit Court which found him in arrears
with his child support payments and entered a decree in favor of appellee wife. He complained that in
determining the arrearage figure, he should have been allowed full credit for all money and items of personal
property given by him to the children themselves, even though he referred to them as gifts. The Court of Appeals
of Maryland ruled that in the suit to determine amount of arrears due the divorced wife under decree for support
of minor children, the husband (appellant) was not entitled to credit for checks which he had clearly designated as
gifts, nor was he entitled to credit for an automobile given to the oldest son or a television set given to the
children. Thus, if the children remain in the custody of the mother, the father is not entitled to credit for money
paid directly to the children if such was paid without any relation to the decree.

In the absence of some finding of consent by the mother, most courts refuse to allow a husband to dictate how he
will meet the requirements for support payments when the mode of payment is fixed by a decree of court. Thus
he will not be credited for payments made when he unnecessarily interposed himself as a volunteer and made
payments direct to the children of his own accord. Wills v. Baker, 214 S. W. 2d 748 (Mo. 1948); Openshaw v.
Openshaw, 42 P. 2d 191 (Utah 1935). In the latter case the court said in part: "The payments to the children
themselves do not appear to have been made as payments upon alimony, but were rather the result of his fatherly
interest in the welfare of those children. We do not believe he should be permitted to charge them to plaintiff. By
so doing he would be determining for Mrs. Openshaw the manner in which she should expend her allowances. It is
a very easy thing for children to say their mother will not give them money, especially as they may realize that
such a plea is effective in attaining their ends. If she is not treating them right the courts are open to the father for
26
redress."
27

In Martin, Jr. v. Martin, the Supreme Court of Washington held that a father, who is required by a divorce decree
to make child support payments directly to the mother, cannot claim credit for payments voluntarily made
directly to the children. However, special considerations of an equitable nature may justify a court in crediting
such payments on his indebtedness to the mother, when such can be done without injustice to her.
The general rule is to the effect that when a father is required by a divorce decree to pay to the mother money for
the support of their dependent children and the unpaid and accrued installments become judgments in her favor,
he cannot, as a matter of law, claim credit on account of payments voluntarily made directly to the children. Koon
v. Koon, supra; Briggs v. Briggs, supra. However, special considerations of an equitable nature may justify a court
in crediting such payments on his indebtedness to the mother, when that can be done without injustice to her.
Briggs v. Briggs, supra. The courts are justifiably reluctant to lay down any general rules as to when such credits
28
may be allowed. (Emphasis supplied.)
Here, the CA should not have allowed all the expenses incurred by respondent to be credited against the accrued
support pendente lite. As earlier mentioned, the monthly support pendente lite granted by the trial court was
intended primarily for food, household expenses such as salaries of drivers and house helpers, and also
petitioners scoliosis therapy sessions. Hence, the value of two expensive cars bought by respondent for his
children plus their maintenance cost, travel expenses of petitioner and Angelli, purchases through credit card of
items other than groceries and dry goods (clothing) should have been disallowed, as these bear no relation to the
judgment awarding support pendente lite. While it is true that the dispositive portion of the executory decision in
CA-G.R. SP No. 84740 ordered herein respondent to pay the support in arrears "less than the amount supposedly
given by petitioner to the private respondent as her and their two (2) children monthly support," the deductions
should be limited to those basic needs and expenses considered by the trial and appellate courts. The assailed
ruling of the CA allowing huge deductions from the accrued monthly support of petitioner and her children, while
correct insofar as it commends the generosity of the respondent to his children, is clearly inconsistent with the
executory decision in CA-G.R. SP No. 84740. More important, it completely ignores the unfair consequences to
petitioner whose sustenance and well-being, was given due regard by the trial and appellate courts. This is
evident from the March 31, 2004 Order granting support pendente lite to petitioner and her children, when the
trial court observed:
While there is evidence to the effect that defendant is giving some forms of financial assistance to his two (2)
children via their credit cards and paying for their school expenses, the same is, however, devoid of any form of
spousal support to the plaintiff, for, at this point in time, while the action for nullity of marriage is still to be heard,
it is incumbent upon the defendant, considering the physical and financial condition of the plaintiff and the
29
overwhelming capacity of defendant, to extend support unto the latter. x x x
On appeal, while the Decision in CA-G.R. SP No. 84740 reduced the amount of monthly support fixed by the trial
court, it nevertheless held that considering respondents financial resources, it is but fair and just that he give a
monthly support for the sustenance and basic necessities of petitioner and his children. This would imply that any

amount respondent seeks to be credited as monthly support should only cover those incurred for sustenance and
household expenses.1avvphi1
In the case at bar, records clearly show and in fact has been admitted by petitioner that aside from paying the
expenses of their two (2) childrens schooling, he gave his two (2) children two (2) cars and credit cards of which
the expenses for various items namely: clothes, grocery items and repairs of their cars were chargeable to him
which totaled an amount of more than One Hundred Thousand (P100,000.00) for each of them and considering
that as testified by the private respondent that she needs the total amount of P113,000.00 for the maintenance of
the household and other miscellaneous expenses and considering further that petitioner can afford to buy cars for
his two (2) children, and to pay the expenses incurred by them which are chargeable to him through the credit
cards he provided them in the amount of P100,000.00 each, it is but fair and just that the monthly support
pendente lite for his wife, herein private respondent, be fixed as of the present in the amount of P115,000.00
which would be sufficient enough to take care of the household and other needs. This monthly support pendente
lite to private respondent in the amount of P115,000.00 excludes the amount of One Hundred ThirtyFive
(P135,000.00) Thousand Pesos for medical attendance expenses needed by private respondent for the operation
of both her eyes which is demandable upon the conduct of such operation. Likewise, this monthly support
of P115,000.00 is without prejudice to any increase or decrease thereof that the trial court may grant private
respondent as the circumstances may warrant i.e. depending on the proof submitted by the parties during the
proceedings for the main action for support.
The amounts already extended to the two (2) children, being a commendable act of petitioner, should be
30
continued by him considering the vast financial resources at his disposal. (Emphasis supplied.)
Accordingly, only the following expenses of respondent may be allowed as deductions from the accrued support
pendente lite for petitioner and her children:
1wphi1
Medical expenses of Susan Lim-Lua

Php 42,450.71

Dental Expenses of Daniel Ryan

11,500.00

Credit card purchases of Angelli

365,282.20

(Groceries and Dry Goods)


Credit Card purchases of Daniel Ryan

228,869.38

TOTAL

Php 648,102.29

As to the contempt charge, we sustain the CA in holding that respondent is not guilty of indirect contempt.
Contempt of court is defined as a disobedience to the court by acting in opposition to its authority, justice, and
dignity. It signifies not only a willful disregard or disobedience of the courts order, but such conduct which tends
to bring the authority of the court and the administration of law into disrepute or, in some manner, to impede the
31
due administration of justice. To constitute contempt, the act must be done willfully and for an illegitimate or
32
33
improper purpose. The good faith, or lack of it, of the alleged contemnor should be considered.
Respondent admittedly ceased or suspended the giving of monthly support pendente lite granted by the trial
court, which is immediately executory. However, we agree with the CA that respondents act was not
contumacious considering that he had not been remiss in actually providing for the needs of his children. It is a
matter of record that respondent continued shouldering the full cost of their education and even beyond their
basic necessities in keeping with the familys social status. Moreover, respondent believed in good faith that the

trial and appellate courts, upon equitable grounds, would allow him to offset the substantial amounts he had
spent or paid directly to his children.
Respondent complains that petitioner is very much capacitated to generate income on her own because she
presently maintains a boutique at the Ayala Center Mall in Cebu City and at the same time engages in the
business of lending money. He also claims that the two children have finished their education and are now
employed in the family business earning their own salaries.
Suffice it to state that the matter of increase or reduction of support should be submitted to the trial court in
which the action for declaration for nullity of marriage was filed, as this Court is not a trier of facts. The amount of
support may be reduced or increased proportionately according to the reduction or increase of the necessities of
34
35
the recipient and the resources or means of the person obliged to support. As we held in Advincula v. Advincula
Judgment for support does not become final. The right to support is of such nature that its allowance is
essentially provisional; for during the entire period that a needy party is entitled to support, his or her alimony
may be modified or altered, in accordance with his increased or decreased needs, and with the means of the giver.
36
It cannot be regarded as subject to final determination.
WHEREFORE, the petition is PARTLY GRANTED. The Decision dated April 20, 2006 of the Court of Appeals in CAG.R. SP Nos. 01154 and 01315 is hereby MODIFIED to read as follows:
"WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered:
a) DISMISSING, for lack of merit, the case of Petition for Contempt of Court with Damages filed by Susan
Lim Lua against Danilo Y. Lua with docket no. SP. CA-G.R. No. 01154;
b) GRANTING IN PART Danilo Y. Lua's Petition for Certiorari docketed as SP. CA-G.R. No. 01315.
Consequently, the assailed Orders dated 27 September 2005 and 25 November 2005 of the Regional Trial
Court, Branch 14, Cebu City issued in Civil Case No. CEB-29346 entitled "Susan Lim Lua versus Danilo Y.
Lua, are hereby NULLIFIED and SET ASIDE, and instead a new one is entered:
i. ORDERING the deduction of the amount of Php 648,102.29 from the support pendente lite in
arrears of Danilo Y. Lua to his wife, Susan Lim Lua and their two (2) children;
ii. ORDERING Danilo Y. Lua to resume payment of his monthly support of PhP115,000.00 pesos
starting from the time payment of this amount was deferred by him subject to the deduction
aforementioned.
iii. DIRECTING the immediate execution of this judgment.
SO ORDERED.

PARENTAL AUTHORITY
REYNALDO ESPIRITU and GUILLERMA LAYUG, petitioners,
vs.
COURT OF APPEALS and TERESITA MASAUDING, respondents.

MELO, J.:
This case concerns a seemingly void marriage and a relationship which went sour. The innocent victims are two
children horn out of the same union. Upon this Court now falls the not too welcome task of deciding the issue of
who, between the father and mother, is more suitable and better qualified in helping the children to grow into
responsible, well-adjusted, and happy young adulthood.
Petitioner Reynaldo Espiritu and respondent Teresita Masauding first met sometime in 1976 in Iligan City where
Reynaldo was employed by the National Steel Corporation and Teresita was employed as a nurse in a local
hospital. In 1977, Teresita left for Los Angeles, California to work as a nurse. She was able to acquire immigrant
status sometime later. In 1984, Reynaldo was sent by his employer, the National Steel Corporation, to Pittsburgh,
Pennsylvania as its liaison officer and Reynaldo and Teresita then began to maintain a common law relationship of
husband and wife. On August 16, 1986, their daughter, Rosalind Therese, was born. On October 7, 1987, while
they were on a brief vacation in the Philippines, Reynaldo and Teresita got married, and upon their return to the
United States, their second child, a son, this time, and given the name Reginald Vince, was born on January 12,
1988.
The relationship of the couple deteriorated until they decided to separate sometime in 1990. Teresita blamed
Reynaldo for the break-up, stating he was always nagging her about money matters. Reynaldo, on the other
hand, contended that Teresita was a spendthrift, buying expensive jewelry and antique furniture instead of
attending to household expenses.
Instead of giving their marriage a second chance as allegedly pleaded by Reynaldo, Teresita left Reynaldo and the
children and went back to California. She claims, however, that she spent a lot of money on long distance
telephone calls to keep in constant touch with her children.
Reynaldo brought his children home to the Philippines, but because his assignment in Pittsburgh was not yet
completed, he was sent back by his company to Pittsburgh. He had to leave his children with his sister, copetitioner Guillerma Layug and her family.
Teresita claims that she did not immediately follow her children because Reynaldo filed a criminal case for bigamy
against her and she was afraid of being arrested. The judgment of conviction in the bigamy case was actually
rendered only on September 29, 1994. (Per Judge Harriet O. Demetriou, Branch 70, RTC, Pasig, pp. 210222,Rollo). Teresita, meanwhile, decided to return to the Philippines and on December 8, 1992 and filed the
petition for a writ of habeas corpus against herein two petitioners to gain custody over the children, thus starting
the whole proceedings now reaching this Court.
On June 30, 1993, the trial court dismissed the petition for habeas corpus. It suspended Teresita's parental
authority over Rosalind and Reginald and declared Reynaldo to have sole parental authority over them but with
rights of visitation to be agreed upon by the parties and to be approved by the Court.
On February 16, 1994, the Court of Appeals per Justice Isnani, with Justices de Pano and Ibay-Somera concurring,
reversed the trial court's decision. It gave custody to Teresita and visitation rights on weekends to Reynaldo.
Petitioners now come to this Court on a petition for review, in the main contending that the Court of Appeals
disregarded the factual findings of the trial court; that the Court of Appeals further engaged in speculations and
conjectures, resulting in its erroneous conclusion that custody of the children should be given to respondent
Teresita.

We believe that respondent court resolved the question of custody over the children through an automatic and
blind application of the age proviso of Article 363 of the Civil Code which reads:
Art. 363. In all questions on the care, custody, education and property of the children, the latter's
welfare shall be paramount. No mother shall be separated from her child under seven years of
age, unless the court finds compelling reasons for such measure.
and of Article 213 of the Family Code which in turn provides:
Art. 213. In case of separation of the parents parental authority shall be exercised by the parent
designated by the Court. The Court shall take into account all relevant considerations, especially
the choice of the child over seven years of age unless the parent chosen is unfit.
The decision under review is based on the report of the Code Commission which drafted Article 213 that a child
below seven years still needs the loving, tender care that only a mother can give and which, presumably, a father
cannot give in equal measure. The commentaries of a member of the Code Commission, former Court of Appeals
Justice Alicia Sempio-Diy, in a textbook on the Family Code, were also taken into account. Justice Diy believes
that a child below seven years should still be awarded to her mother even if the latter is a prostitute or is unfaithful
to her husband. This is on the theory that moral dereliction has no effect on a baby unable to understand such
action. (Handbook on the Family Code of the Philippines, 1988 Ed., p. 297.)
The Court of Appeals was unduly swayed by an abstract presumption of law rather than an appreciation of
relevant facts and the law which should apply to those facts. The task of choosing the parent to whom custody
shall be awarded is not a ministerial function to be determined by a simple determination of the age of a minor
child. Whether a child is under or over seven years of age, the paramount criterion must always be the child's
interests. Discretion is given to the court to decide who can best assure the welfare of the child, and award the
custody on the basis of that consideration. In Unson III vs. Navarro (101 SCRA 183 [1980]), we laid down the rule
that "in all controversies regarding the custody of minors, the sole and foremost consideration is the physical,
education, social and moral welfare of the child concerned, taking into account the respective resources and social
and moral situations of the contending parents", and in Medina vs. Makabali (27 SCRA 502 [1969]), where custody
of the minor was given to a non-relative as against the mother, then the country's leading civilist, Justice J.B.L.
Reyes, explained its basis in this manner:
. . . While our law recognizes the right of a parent to the custody of her child, Courts must not
lose sight of the basic principle that "in all questions on the care, custody, education and
property of children, the latter's welfare shall be paramount" (Civil Code of the Philippines. Art.
363), and that for compelling reasons, even a child under seven may be ordered separated from
the mother (do). This is as it should be, for in the continual evolution of legal institutions,
the patria potestas has been transformed from thejus vitae ac necis (right of life and death) of the
Roman law, under which the offspring was virtually a chattel of his parents into a radically
different institution, due to the influence of Christian faith and doctrines. The obligational
aspect is now supreme. As pointed out by Puig Pena, now "there is no power, but a task; no
complex of rights (of parents) but a sum of duties; no sovereignty, but a sacred trust for the
welfare of the minor."
As a result, the right of parents to the company and custody of their children is but ancillary to
the proper discharge of parental duties to provide the children with adequate support,
education, moral, intellectual and civic training and development (Civil Code, Art. 356).
(pp. 504-505.)

In ascertaining the welfare and best interests of the child, courts are mandated by the Family Code to take into
account all relevant considerations. If a child is under seven years of age, the law presumes that the mother is the
best custodian. The presumption is strong but it is not conclusive. It can be overcome by "compelling reasons". If a
child is over seven, his choice is paramount but, again, the court is not bound by that choice. In its discretion, the
court may find the chosen parent unfit and award custody to the other parent, or even to a third party as it deems
fit under the circumstances.
In the present case, both Rosalind and Reginald are now over seven years of age. Rosalind celebrated her seventh
birthday on August 16, 1993 while Reginald reached the same age on January 12, 1995. Both are studying in
reputable schools and appear to be fairly intelligent children, quite capable of thoughtfully determining the parent
with whom they would want to live. Once the choice has been made, the burden returns to the court to
investigate if the parent thus chosen is unfit to assume parental authority and custodial responsibility.
Herein lies the error of the Court of Appeals. Instead of scrutinizing the records to discover the choice of the
children and rather than verifying whether that parent is fit or unfit, respondent court simply followed statutory
presumptions and general propositions applicable to ordinary or common situations. The seven-year age limit
was mechanically treated as an arbitrary cut off period and not a guide based on a strong presumption.
A scrutiny of the pleadings in this case indicates that Teresita, or at least, her counsel are more intent on
emphasizing the "torture and agony" of a mother separated from her children and the humiliation she suffered as
a result of her character being made a key issue in court rather than the feelings and future, the best interests and
welfare of her children. While the bonds between a mother and her small child are special in nature, either parent,
whether father or mother, is bound to suffer agony and pain if deprived of custody. One cannot say that his or her
suffering is greater than that of the other parent. It is not so much the suffering, pride, and other feelings of either
parent but the welfare of the child which is the paramount consideration.
We are inclined to sustain the findings and conclusions of the regional trial court because it gave greater attention
to the choice of Rosalind and considered in detail all the relevant factors bearing on the issue of custody.
When she was a little over 5 years old, Rosalind was referred to a child psychologist, Rita Flores Macabulos, to
determine the effects of uprooting her from the Assumption College where she was studying. Four different tests
were administered. The results of the tests are quite revealing. The responses of Rosalind about her mother were
very negative causing the psychologist to delve deeper into the child's anxiety. Among the things revealed by
Rosalind was an incident where she saw her mother hugging and kissing a "bad" man who lived in their house and
worked for her father. Rosalind refused to talk to her mother even on the telephone. She tended to be
emotionally emblazed because of constant fears that she may have to leave school and her aunt's family to go
back to the United States to live with her mother. The 5-1/2 page report deals at length with feelings of insecurity
and anxiety arising from strong conflict with the mother. The child tried to compensate by having fantasy
activities. All of the 8 recommendations of the child psychologist show that Rosalind chooses petitioners over the
private respondent and that her welfare will be best served by staying with them (pp. 199-205, Rollo).
At about the same time, a social welfare case study was conducted for the purpose of securing the travel
clearance required before minors may go abroad. Social Welfare Officer Emma D. Estrada Lopez, stated that the
child Rosalind refused to go back to the United States and be reunited with her mother. She felt unloved and
uncared for. Rosalind was more attached to her Yaya who did everything for her and Reginald. The child was
found suffering from emotional shock caused by her mother's infidelity. The application for travel clearance was
recommended for denial (pp. 206-209, Rollo).
Respondent Teresita, for her part, argues that the 7-year age reference in the law applies to the date when the
petition for a writ of habeas corpus is filed, not to the date when a decision is rendered. This argument is flawed.
Considerations involving the choice made by a child must be ascertained at the time that either parent is given
custody over the child. The matter of custody is not permanent and unalterable. If the parent who was given

custody suffers a future character change and becomes unfit, the matter of custody can always be re-examined
and adjusted (Unson III v. Navarro, supra, at p. 189). To be sure, the welfare, the best interests, the benefit, and
the good of the child must be determined as of the time that either parent is chosen to be the custodian. At the
present time, both children are over 7 years of age and are thus perfectly capable of making a fairly intelligent
choice.
According to respondent Teresita, she and her children had tearful reunion in the trial court, with the children
crying, grabbing, and embracing her to prevent the father from taking them away from her. We are more inclined
to believe the father's contention that the children ignored Teresita in court because such an emotional display as
described by Teresita in her pleadings could not have been missed by the trial court. Unlike the Justices of the
Court of Appeals Fourth Division, Judge Lucas P. Bersamin personally observed the children and their mother in
the courtroom. What the Judge found is diametrically opposed to the contentions of respondent Teresita. The
Judge had this to say on the matter.
And, lastly, the Court cannot look at petitioner [Teresita] in similar light, or with more
understanding, especially as her conduct and demeanor in the courtroom (during most of the
proceedings) or elsewhere (but in the presence of the undersigned presiding judge)
demonstrated her ebulent temper that tended to corroborate the alleged violence of her
physical punishment of the children (even if only for ordinary disciplinary purposes) and
emotional instability, typified by her failure (or refusal?) to show deference and respect to the
Court and the other parties (pp. 12-13, RTC Decision)
Respondent Teresita also questions the competence and impartiality of the expert witnesses. Respondent court,
in turn, states that the trial court should have considered the fact that Reynaldo and his sister, herein petitioner
Guillerma Layug, hired the two expert witnesses. Actually, this was taken into account by the trial court which
stated that the allegations of bias and unfairness made by Teresita against the psychologist and social worker
were not substantiated.
The trial court stated that the professional integrity and competence of the expert witnesses and the objectivity
of the interviews were unshaken and unimpeached. We might add that their testimony remain uncontroverted.
We also note that the examinations made by the experts were conducted in late 1991, well over a year before the
filing by Teresita of the habeas corpus petition in December, 1992. Thus, the examinations were at that time not
intended to support petitioners' position in litigation, because there was then not even an impending possibility of
one. That they were subsequently utilized in the case a quo when it did materialize does not change the tenor in
which they were first obtained.
Furthermore, such examinations, when presented to the court must be construed to have been presented not to
sway the court in favor of any of the parties, but to assist the court in the determination of the issue before it. The
persons who effected such examinations were presented in the capacity of expert witnesses testifying on matters
within their respective knowledge and expertise. On this matter, this Court had occasion to rule in the case of Sali
vs. Abukakar, et al. (17 SCRA 988 [1966]).
The fact that, in a particular litigation, an NBI expert examines certain contested documents, at
the request, not of a public officer or agency of the Government, but of a private litigant, does
not necessarily nullify the examination thus made. Its purpose, presumably, to assist the court
having jurisdiction over said litigation, in the performance of its duty to settle correctly the
issues relative to said documents. Even a non-expert private individual may examine the same, if
there are facts within his knowledge which may help, the court in the determination of said
issue. Such examination, which may properly be undertaken by a non-expert private individual,
does not, certainly become null and void when the examiner is an expert and/or an officer of the
NBI.

(pp. 991-992.)
In regard to testimony of expert witnesses it was held in Salomon, et al. vs. Intermediate Appellate Court, et al. (185
SCRA 352 [1990]):
. . . Although courts are not ordinarily bound by expert testimonies, they may place whatever
weight they choose upon such testimonies in accordance with the facts of the case. The relative
weight and sufficiency of expert testimony is peculiarly within the province of the trial court to
decide, considering the ability and character of the witness, his actions upon the witness stand,
the weight and process of the reasoning by which he has supported his opinion, his possible bias
in favor of the side for whom he testifies, the fact that he is a paid witness, the relative
opportunities for study and observation of the matters about which he testifies, and any other
matters which reserve to illuminate his statements. The opinion of the expert may not be
arbitrarily rejected; it is to be considered by the court in view of all the facts and circumstances in
the case and when common knowledge utterly fails, the expert opinion may be given controlling
effect (20 Am. Jur., 1056-1058). The problem of the credibility of the expert witness and the
evaluation of his testimony is left to the discretion of the trial court whose ruling thereupon is
not reviewable in the absence of an abuse of that discretion.
(p. 359)
It was in the exercise of this discretion, coupled with the opportunity to assess the witnesses' character and to
observe their respective demeanor that the trial court opted to rely on their testimony, and we believe that the
trial court was correct in its action.
Under direct examination an February 4, 1993, Social Worker Lopez stated that Rosalind and her aunt were about
to board a plane when they were off-loaded because there was no required clearance. They were referred to her
office, at which time Reginald was also brought along and interviewed. One of the regular duties of Social Worker
Lopez in her job appears to be the interview of minors who leave for abroad with their parents or other persons.
The interview was for purposes of foreign travel by a 5-year old child and had nothing to do with any pending
litigation. On cross-examination, Social Worker Lopez stated that her assessment of the minor's hatred for her
mother was based on the disclosures of the minor. It is inconceivable, much less presumable that Ms. Lopez would
compromise her position, ethics, and the public trust reposed on a person of her position in the course of doing
her job by falsely testifying just to support the position of any litigant.
The psychologist, Ms. Macabulos, is a B.S. magna cum laude graduate in Psychology and an M.A. degree holder
also in Psychology with her thesis graded "Excellent". She was a candidate for a doctoral degree at the time of the
interview. Petitioner Reynaldo may have shouldered the cost of the interview but Ms. Macabulos services were
secured because Assumption College wanted an examination of the child for school purposes and not because of
any litigation. She may have been paid to examine the child and to render a finding based on her examination, but
she was not paid to fabricate such findings in favor of the party who retained her services. In this instance it was
not even petitioner Reynaldo but the school authorities who initiated the same. It cannot be presumed that a
professional of her potential and stature would compromise her professional standing.
Teresita questions the findings of the trial court that:
1. Her morality is questionable as shown by her marrying Reynaldo at the time she had a
subsisting marriage with another man.
2. She is guilty of grave indiscretion in carrying on a love affair with one of the Reynaldo's fellow
NSC employees.

3. She is incapable of providing the children with necessities and conveniences commensurate to
their social standing because she does not even own any home in the Philippines.
4. She is emotionally unstable with ebullient temper.
It is contended that the above findings do not constitute the compelling reasons under the law which would justify
depriving her of custody over the children; worse, she claims, these findings are non-existent and have not been
proved by clear and convincing evidence.
Public and private respondents give undue weight to the matter of a child under 7 years of age not to be separated
from the mother, without considering what the law itself denominates as compelling reasons or relevant
considerations to otherwise decree. In the Unson III case, earlier mentioned, this Court stated that it found no
difficulty in not awarding custody to the mother, it being in the best interest of the child "to be freed from the
obviously unwholesome, not
to say immoral influence, that the situation where [the mother] had placed herself . . . might create in the moral
and social outlook of [the child] who was in her formative and most impressionable stage . . ."
Then too, it must be noted that both Rosalind and Reginald are now over 7 years of age. They understand the
difference between right and wrong, ethical behavior and deviant immorality. Their best interests would be better
served in an environment characterized by emotional stability and a certain degree of material sufficiency. There
is nothing in the records to show that Reynaldo is an "unfit" person under Article 213 of the Family Code. In fact,
he has been trying his best to give the children the kind of attention and care which the mother is not in a position
to extend.
The argument that the charges against the mother are false is not supported by the records. The findings of the
trial court are based on evidence.
Teresita does not deny that she was legally married to Roberto Lustado on December 17, 1984 in California (p. 13,
Respondent's Memorandum; p. 238, Rollo; pp. 11, RTC Decision). Less than a year later, she had already driven
across the continental United States to commence living with another man, petitioner Reynaldo, in Pittsburgh.
The two were married on October 7, 1987. Of course, to dilute this disadvantage on her part, this matter of her
having contracted a bigamous marriage later with Reynaldo, Teresita tried to picture Reynaldo as a rapist,
alleging further that she told Reynaldo about her marriage to Lustado on the occasion when she was raped by
Reynaldo. Expectedly, Judge Harriet Demetriou of the Pasig RTC lent no weight to such tale. And even if this story
were given credence, it adds to and not subtracts from the conviction of this Court about Teresita's values. Rape is
an insidious crime against privacy. Confiding to one's potential rapist about a prior marriage is not a very
convincing indication that the potential victim is averse to the act. The implication created is that the act would be
acceptable if not for the prior marriage.
More likely is Reynaldo's story that he learned of the prior marriage only much later. In fact, the rape incident
itself is unlikely against a woman who had driven three days and three nights from California, who went straight
to the house of Reynaldo in Pittsburgh and upon arriving went to bed and, who immediately thereafter started to
live with him in a relationship which is marital in nature if not in fact.
Judge Bersamin of the court a quo believed the testimony of the various witnesses that while married to
Reynaldo, Teresita entered into an illicit relationship with Perdencio Gonzales right there in the house of
petitioner Reynaldo and respondent Teresita. Perdencio had been assigned by the National Steel Corporation to
assist in the project in Pittsburgh and was staying with Reynaldo, his co-employee, in the latter's house. The
record shows that the daughter Rosalind suffered emotional disturbance caused by the traumatic effect of seeing
her mother hugging and kissing a boarder in their house. The record also shows that it was Teresita who left the
conjugal home and the children, bound for California. When Perdencio Gonzales was reassigned to the

Philippines, Teresita followed him and was seen in his company in a Cebu hotel, staying in one room and taking
breakfast together. More significant is that letters and written messages from Teresita to Perdencio were
submitted in evidence (p.12, RTC Decision).
The argument that moral laxity or the habit of flirting from one man to another does not fall under "compelling
reasons" is neither meritorious nor applicable in this case. Not only are the children over seven years old and their
clear choice is the father, but the illicit or immoral activities of the mother had already caused emotional
disturbances, personality conflicts, and exposure to conflicting moral values, at least in Rosalind. This is not to
mention her conviction for the crime of bigamy, which from the records appears to have become final (pp. 210222,Rollo).
Respondent court's finding that the father could not very well perform the role of a sole parent and substitute
mother because his job is in the United States while the children will be left behind with their aunt in the
Philippines is misplaced. The assignment of Reynaldo in Pittsburgh is or was a temporary one. He was sent there
to oversee the purchase of a steel mill component and various equipment needed by the National Steel
Corporation in the Philippines. Once the purchases are completed, there is nothing to keep him there anymore. In
fact, in a letter dated January 30, 1995, Reynaldo informs this Court of the completion of his assignment abroad
and of his permanent return to the Philippines (ff.
p. 263, Rollo).
The law is more than satisfied by the judgment of the trial court. The children are now both over seven years old.
Their choice of the parent with whom they prefer to stay is clear from the record. From all indications, Reynaldo is
a fit person, thus meeting the two requirements found in the first paragraph of Article 213 of the Family Code. The
presumption under the second paragraph of said article no longer applies as the children are over seven years.
Assuming that the presumption should have persuasive value for children only one or two years beyond the age of
seven years mentioned in the statute, there are compelling reasons and relevant considerations not to grant
custody to the mother. The children understand the unfortunate shortcomings of their mother and have been
affected in their emotional growth by her behavior.
WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby GRANTED. The decision of the Court of Appeals is reversed and set aside,
and the decision of Branch 96 of the Regional Trial Court of the National Capital Judicial Region stationed in
Quezon City and presided over by the Honorable Lucas P. Bersamin in its Civil Case No. Q-92-14206 awarding
custody of the minors Rosalind and Reginald Espiritu to their father, Reynaldo Espiritu, is reinstated. No special
pronouncement is made as to costs.
SO ORDERED.

LEOUEL SANTOS, SR., petitioner-appellant,


vs.
COURT OF APPEALS, and SPOUSES LEOPOLDO and OFELIA BEDIA, respondents-appellees.

ROMERO, J.:
1

In this petition for review, we are asked to overturn the decision of the Court of Appeals granting custody of sixyear old Leouel Santos, Jr. to his maternal grandparents and not to his father, Santos, Sr. What is sought is a
decision which should definitively settle the matter of the care, custody and control of the boy.

Happily, unlike King Solomon, we need not merely rely on a "wise and understanding heart," for there is man's law
to guide us and that is, the Family Code.
The antecedent facts giving rise to the case at bench are as follows:
Petitioner Leouel Santos, Sr., an army lieutenant, and Julia Bedia a nurse by profession, were married in Iloilo City
in 1986. Their union beget only one child, Leouel Santos, Jr. who was born July 18, 1987.
From the time the boy was released from the hospital until sometime thereafter, he had been in the care and
custody of his maternal grandparents, private respondents herein, Leopoldo and Ofelia Bedia.
Petitioner and wife Julia agreed to place Leouel Jr. in the temporary custody of the latter's parents, the
respondent spouses Bedia. The latter alleged that they paid for all the hospital bills, as well as the subsequent
support of the boy because petitioner could not afford to do so.
The boy's mother, Julia Bedia-Santos, left for the United States in May 1988 to work. Petitioner alleged that he is
not aware of her whereabouts and his efforts to locate her in the United States proved futile. Private respondents
claim that although abroad, their daughter Julia had been sending financial support to them for her son.
On September 2, 1990, petitioner along with his two brothers, visited the Bedia household, where three-year old
Leouel Jr. was staying. Private respondents contend that through deceit and false pretensions, petitioner
abducted the boy and clandestinely spirited him away to his hometown in Bacong, Negros Oriental.
The spouses Bedia then filed a "Petition for Care, Custody and Control of Minor Ward Leouel Santos Jr.," before
2
the Regional Trial Court of Iloilo City, with Santos, Sr. as respondent.
After an ex-parte hearing on October 8, 1990, the trial court issued an order on the same day awarding custody of
3
the child Leouel Santos, Jr. to his grandparents, Leopoldo and Ofelia Bedia.
4

Petitioner appealed this Order to the Court of Appeals. In its decision dated April 30, 1992, respondent appellate
court affirmed the trial court's
5
6
order. His motion for reconsideration having been denied, petitioner now brings the instant petition for review
for a reversal of the appellate court's decision.
The Court of Appeals erred, according to petitioner, in awarding custody of the boy to his grandparents and not to
himself. He contends that since private respondents have failed to show that petitioner is an unfit and unsuitable
father, substitute parental authority granted to the boy's grandparents under Art. 214 of the Family Code is
inappropriate.
Petitioner adds that the reasons relied upon by the private respondents in having custody over the boy, are flimsy
and insufficient to deprive him of his natural and legal right to have custody.
On the other hand, private respondents aver that they can provide an air-conditioned room for the boy and that
petitioner would not be in a position to take care of his son since he has to be assigned to different places. They
also allege that the petitioner did not give a single centavo for the boy's support and maintenance. When the boy
was about to be released from the hospital, they were the ones who paid the fees because their daughter and
petitioner had no money. Besides, Julia Bedia Santos, their daughter, had entrusted the boy to them before she
left for the United States. Furthermore, petitioner's use of trickery and deceit in abducting the child in 1990, after
being hospitably treated by private respondents, does not speak well of his fitness and suitability as a parent.

The Bedias argue that although the law recognizes the right of a parent to his child's custody, ultimately the
primary consideration is what is best for the happiness and welfare of the latter. As maternal grandparents who
have amply demonstrated their love and affection for the boy since his infancy, they claim to be in the best
position to promote the child's welfare.
The issue to be resolved here boils down to who should properly be awarded custody of the minor Leouel Santos,
Jr.
The right of custody accorded to parents springs from the exercise of parental authority. Parental authority
or patria potestas in Roman Law is the juridical institution whereby parents rightfully assume control and
7
protection of their unemancipated children to the extent required by the latter' s needs. It is a mass of rights and
obligations which the law grants to parents for the purpose of the children's physical preservation and
8
development, as well as the cultivation of their intellect and the education of their heart and senses. As regards
parental authority, "there is no power, but a task; no complex of rights, but a sum of duties; no sovereignty but a
9
sacred trust for the welfare of the minor."
Parental authority and responsibility are inalienable and may not be transferred or renounced except in cases
10
authorized by law. The right attached to parental authority, being purely personal, the law allows a waiver of
parental authority only in cases of adoption, guardianship and surrender to a children's home or an orphan
11
institution. When a parent entrusts the custody of a minor to another, such as a friend or godfather, even in a
document, what is given is merely temporary custody and it does not constitute a renunciation of parental
12
13
authority. Even if a definite renunciation is manifest, the law still disallows the same.
The father and mother, being the natural guardians of unemancipated children, are duty-bound and entitled to
keep them in their custody and
14
company. The child's welfare is always the paramount consideration in all questions concerning his care and
15
custody.
16

The law vests on the father and mother joint parental authority over the persons of their common children. In
17
case of absence or death of either parent, the parent present shall continue exercising parental authority. Only in
case of the parents' death, absence or unsuitability may substitute parental authority be exercised by the
18
surviving grandparent. The situation obtaining in the case at bench is one where the mother of the minor
Santos, Jr., is working in the United States while the father, petitioner Santos, Sr., is present. Not only are they
physically apart but are also emotionally separated. There has been no decree of legal separation and petitioner's
19
attempt to obtain an annulment of the marriage on the ground of psychological incapacity of his wife has failed.
Petitioner assails the decisions of both the trial court and the appellate court to award custody of his minor son to
his parents-in-law, the Bedia spouses on the ground that under Art. 214 of the Family Code, substitute parental
authority of the grandparents is proper only when both parents are dead, absent or unsuitable. Petitioner's
unfitness, according to him, has not been successfully shown by private respondents.
The Court of Appeals held that although there is no evidence to show that petitioner (Santos Sr.) is "depraved, a
habitual drunkard or poor, he may nevertheless be considered, as he is in fact so considered, to be unsuitable to
20
be allowed to have custody of minor Leouel Santos Jr."
The respondent appellate court, in affirming the trial court's order of October 8, 1990, adopted as its own the
latter's observations, to wit:
From the evidence adduced, this Court is of the opinion that it is to be (sic) best interest of the
minor Leouel Santos, Jr. that he be placed under the care, custody, and control of his maternal
grandparents the petitioners herein. The petitioners have amply demonstrated their love and

devotion to their grandson while the natural father, respondent herein, has shown little interest
in his welfare as reflected by his conduct in the past. Moreover the fact that petitioners are welloff financially, should be carefully considered in awarding to them the custody of the minor
herein, lest the breaking of such ties with his maternal grandparents might deprive the boy of an
eventual college education and other material advantages (Consaul vs. Consaul, 63 N.Y.S. 688).
Respondent had never given any previous financial support to his son, while, upon the other
hand, the latter receives so much bounty from his maternal grandparents and his mother as
well, who is now gainfully employed in the United States. Moreover, the fact that respondent, as
a military personnel who has to shuttle from one assignment to another, and, in these troubled
times, may have pressing and compelling military duties which may prevent him from attending
to his son at times when the latter needs him most, militates strongly against said respondent.
Additionally, the child is sickly and asthmatic and needs the loving and tender care of those who
21
can provide for it.
We find the aforementioned considerations insufficient to defeat petitioner's parental authority and the
concomitant right to have custody over the minor Leouel Santos, Jr., particularly since he has not been shown to
be an unsuitable and unfit parent. Private respondents' demonstrated love and affection for the boy,
22
notwithstanding, the legitimate father is still preferred over the grandparents. The latter's wealth is not a
deciding factor, particularly because there is no proof that at the present time, petitioner is in no position to
support the boy. The fact that he was unable to provide financial support for his minor son from birth up to over
three years when he took the boy from his in-laws without permission, should not be sufficient reason to strip him
of his permanent right to the child's custody. While petitioner's previous inattention is inexcusable and merits only
the severest criticism, it cannot be construed as abandonment. His appeal of the unfavorable decision against him
and his efforts to keep his only child in his custody may be regarded as serious efforts to rectify his past misdeeds.
To award him custody would help enhance the bond between parent and son. It would also give the father a
chance to prove his love for his son and for the son to experience the warmth and support which a father can give.
His being a soldier is likewise no bar to allowing him custody over the boy. So many men in uniform who are
assigned to different parts of the country in the service of the nation, are still the natural guardians of their
children. It is not just to deprive our soldiers of authority, care and custody over their children merely because of
the normal consequences of their duties and assignments, such as temporary separation from their families.
Petitioner's employment of trickery in spiriting away his boy from his in-laws, though unjustifiable, is likewise not
a ground to wrest custody from him.
Private respondents' attachment to the young boy whom they have reared for the past three years is
understandable. Still and all, the law considers the natural love of a parent to outweigh that of the grandparents,
such that only when the parent present is shown to be unfit or unsuitable may the grandparents exercise
substitute parental authority, a fact which has not been proven here.
The strong bonds of love and affection possessed by private respondents as grandparents should not be seen as
incompatible with petitioner' right to custody over the child as a father. Moreover, who is to say whether the
petitioner's financial standing may improve in the future?
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The decision of the respondent Court of Appeals dated April 30, 1992 as
well as its Resolution dated November 13, 1992 are hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Custody over the minor
Leouel Santos Jr. is awarded to his legitimate father, herein petitioner Leouel Santos, Sr.
SO ORDERED.

TERESITA SAGALA-ESLAO, petitioner,


vs.
COURT OF APPEALS and MARIA PAZ CORDERO-OUYE, respondents.

TORRES, JR., J.:


Children begin by loving their parents. After a time they judge them. Rarely, if ever, do they forgive
1
them. Indeed, parenthood is a riddle of no mean proportions except for its mission. Thus, a mother's concern for
her child's custody is undying such is a mother's love.
The right of the mother to the custody of her daughter is the issue in the case at bar.
2

In this petition for review, Teresita Sagala-Eslao seeks the reversal of the Court of Appeals decision dated March
25, 1994, which affirmed the trial court's judgment granting the petition of Maria Paz Cordero-Ouye to recover
the custody of her minor daughter from her mother-in-law, Teresita Sagala-Eslao.
As found by the Court of Appeals, the facts of the case are as follows:
From the evidence, it appears that on June 22, 1984, petitioner Maria Paz Cordero-Ouye and Reynaldo
3
Eslao were married; after their marriage, the couple stayed with respondent Teresita Eslao, mother of
the husband, at 1825, Road 14, Fabie Estate, Paco, Manila; that out of their marriage, two children were
begotten, namely, Leslie Eslao who was born on February 23, 1986 and Angelica Eslao who was born on
April 20,
4
1987; in the meantime, Leslie was entrusted to the care and custody of petitioner's mother in Sta. Ana,
Pampanga, while Angelica stayed with her parents at respondent's house; on August 6, 1990, petitioner's
5
husband Reynaldo Eslao died; petitioner intended to bring Angelica with her to Pampanga but the
respondent prevailed upon her to entrust the custody of Angelica to her, respondent reasoning out that
her son just died and to assuage her grief therefor, she needed the company of the child to at least
compensate for the loss of her late son. In the meantime, the petitioner returned to her mother's house
in Pampanga where she stayed with Leslie.
Subsequently, petitioner was introduced by her auntie to Dr. James Manabu-Ouye, a JapaneseAmerican, who is an orthodontist practicing in the United States; their acquaintance blossomed into a
meaningful relationship where on March 18, 1992, the petitioner and Dr. James Ouye decided to get
married; less than ten months thereafter, or on January 15, 1993, the petitioner migrated to San
Francisco, California, USA, to join her new husband. At present, the petitioner is a trainee at the Union
Bank in San Francisco, while her husband is a progressive practitioner of his profession who owns three
cars, a dental clinic and earns US$5,000 a month. On June 24, 1993, the petitioner returned to the
Philippines to be reunited with her children and bring them to the United States; the petitioner then
informed the respondent about her desire to take informed the respondent about her desire to take
custody of Angelica and explained that her present husband, Dr. James Ouye, expressed his willingness
to adopt Leslie and Angelica and to provide for their support and education; however, respondent
resisted the idea by way of explaining that the child was entrusted to her when she was ten days old and
accused the petitioner of having abandoned Angelica. Because of the adamant attitude of the
respondent, the petitioner then sought the assistance of a lawyer, Atty. Mariano de Joya, Jr., who wrote a
6
letter to the respondent demanding for the return of the custody of Angelica to her natural mother and
7
when the demand remain[ed] unheeded, the petitioner instituted the present action.
After the trial on the merits, the lower court rendered its decision, the dispositive portion of which reads:

WHEREFORE, finding the petition to be meritorious, the Court grants the same and let the
corresponding writ issue. As a corollary, respondent Teresita Sagala-Eslao or anyone acting under her
behalf is hereby directed to cause the immediate transfer of the custody of the minor Angelica Cordero
Eslao, to her natural mother, petitioner Maria Paz Cordero-Ouye.
No pronouncement as to costs.
SO ORDERED.
On appeal, the respondent court affirmed in full the decision of the trial court.
Hence, the instant petition by the minor's paternal grandmother, contending that the Court of Appeals erred:
I
IN RULING THAT PRIVATE RESPONDENT MARIA PAZ CORDERO-OUYE, DID NOT ABANDON MINOR,
ANGELICA ESLAO, TO THE CARE AND CUSTODY OF THE PETITIONER TERESITA SAGALA-ESLAO.
II
IN RULING THAT THERE WAS NO COMPELLING REASON TO SEPARATE MINOR, ANGELICA ESLAO,
FROM PRIVATE RESPONDENT MARIA PAZ CORDERO-OUYE, IN FAVOR OF PETITIONER TERESITA
SAGALA-ESLAO.
III
IN NOT FINDING THAT PETITIONER TERESITA SAGALA-ESLAO, IS FIT TO BE GIVEN THE CUSTODY
OF MINOR, ANGELICA ESLAO.
The petition is without merit.
Being interrelated, the issues shall be discussed jointly.
Petitioner argues that she would be deserving to take care of Angelica; that she had managed to raise 12 children
of her own herself; that she has the financial means to carry out her plans for Angelica; that she maintains a store
which earns a net income of about P500 a day, she gets P900 a month as pension for the death of her husband,
she rents out rooms in her house which she owns, for which she earns a total of P6,000 a month, and that from her
gross income of roughly P21,000, she spends about P10,000 for the maintenance of her house.
Despite the foregoing, however, and petitioner's "genuine desire to remain with said child, that would qualify her
to have custody of Angelica," the trial court's disquisition, in consonance with the provision that the child's welfare
8
is always the paramount consideration in all questions concerning his care and custody convinced this Court to
decide in favor of private respondent, thus:
On the other hand, the side of the petitioner must also be presented here. In this case, we see a picture of
a real and natural mother who is
. . . legitimately, anxiously, and desperately trying to get back her child in order to fill
the void in her heart and existence. She wants to make up for what she has failed to do
for her boy during the period when she was financially unable to help him and when she

could not have him in her house because of the objection of the father. Now that she
has her own home and is in a better financial condition, she wants her child back, and
we repeat that she has not and has never given him up definitely or with any idea of
9
permanence.
The petitioner herein is married to an Orthodontist who has lucrative practice of his profession in San
Francisco, California, USA. The petitioner and her present husband have a home of their own and they
have three cars. The petitioner's husband is willing to adopt the petitioner's children. If the children will
be with their mother, the probability is that they will be afforded a bright future. Contrast this situation
with the one prevailing in the respondent's [grandmother's] house. As admitted by the respondent, four
of the rooms in her house are being rented to other persons with each room occupied by 4 and 5 persons.
Added to these persons are the respondent's 2 sons, Samuel and Alfredo, and their respective families
(ibid., p. 54) and one can just visualize the kind of atmosphere pervading thereat. And to aggravate the
situation, the house has only 2 toilets and 3 faucets. Finally, considering that in all controversies involving
the custody of minors, the foremost criterion is the physical and moral well being of the child taking into
account the respective resources and social and moral situations of the contending parties (Union III vs.
10
Mariano, 101 SCRA 183), the Court is left with no other recourse but to grant the writ prayed for.
Petitioner further contends that the respondent court erred in finding that there was no abandonment committed
by the private respondent; that while judicial declaration of abandonment of the child in a case filed for the
purpose is not her obtaining as mandated in Art. 229 of the Family Code because petitioner failed to resort to such
judicial action, it does not ipso facto follow that there was in fact no abandonment committed by the private
respondent.
Petitioner also argues that it has been amply demonstrated during the trial that private respondent had indeed
abandoned Angelica to the care and custody of the petitioner; that during all the time that Angelica stayed with
petitioner, there were only three instances or occasions wherein the private respondent saw Angelica; that private
respondent never visited Angelica on important occasions, such as her birthday, and neither did the former give
11
her cards or gifts, "not even a single candy;" that while private respondent claims otherwise and that she visited
Angelica "many times" and insists that she visited Angelica as often as four times a month and gave her
remembrances such as candies and clothes, she would not even remember when the fourth birthday of Angelica
was.
We are not persuaded by such averments.
12

In Santos, Sr. vs. Court of Appeals, 242 SCRA 407, we stated, viz:
. . . [Parental authority] is a mass of rights and obligations which the law grants to parents for the purpose
of the children's physical preservation and development, as well as the cultivation of their intellect and
13
the education of their heart and senses. As regards parental authority, "there is no power, but a task;
no complex of rights, but a sum of duties; no sovereignty but a sacred trust for the welfare of the
14
minor."
Parental authority and responsibility are inalienable and may not be transferred or renounced except in
15
cases authorized by law. The right attached to parental authority, being purely personal, the law allows
a waiver of parental authority only in cases of adoption, guardianship and surrender to a children's home
16
or an orphan institution. When a parent entrusts the custody of a minor to another, such as a friend or
godfather, even in a document, what is given is merely temporary custody and it does not constitute a
17
renunciation of parental authority. Even if a definite renunciation is manifest, the law still disallows the
18
same.

The father and mother, being the natural guardians of unemancipated children, are duty-bound and
19
entitled to keep them in their custody and company.
Thus, in the instant petition, when private respondent entrusted the custody of her minor child to the petitioner,
what she gave to the latter was merely temporary custody and it did not constitute abandonment or renunciation
of parental authority. For the right attached to parental authority, being purely personal, the law allows a waiver
of parental authority only in cases of adoption, guardianship and surrender to a children's home or an orphan
institution which do not appear in the case at bar.
Of considerable importance is the rule long accepted by the courts that "the right of parents to the custody of
their minor children is one of the natural rights incident to parenthood, a right supported by law and sound public
policy. The right is an inherent one, which is not created by the state or decisions of the courts, but derives from
20
the nature of the parental relationship.
IN VIEW WHEREOF, the decision appealed from dated March 25, 1994 being in accordance with law and the
evidence, the same is hereby AFFIRMED and the petition DISMISSED for lack of merit.
SO ORDERED.
*

REYMOND B. LAXAMANA, petitioner, vs. MA. LOURDES D. LAXAMANA, respondent.


DECISION
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:
This is another sad tale of an estranged couples tug-of-war over the custody of their minor
children. Petitioner Reymond B. Laxamana and respondent Ma. Lourdes D. Laxamana met sometime in
1983. Petitioner, who came from a well-to-do family, was a graduate of Bachelor of Laws, while respondent, a
holder of a degree in banking and finance, worked in a bank. After a whirlwind courtship, petitioner, 31 years old
[1]
and respondent, 33, got married on June 6, 1984. Respondent quit her job and became a full-time
housewife. Petitioner, on the other hand, operated buy and sell, fishpond, and restaurant businesses for a
living. The union was blessed with three children twin brothers Joseph and Vincent, born on March 15, 1985, and
[2]
Michael, born on June 19, 1986.
All went well until petitioner became a drug dependent. In October 1991, he was confined at the Estrellas
Home Care Clinic in Quezon City. He underwent psychotherapy and psychopharmacological treatment and was
[3]
discharged on November 16, 1991. Upon petition of respondent, the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City,
[4]
Branch 101, ordered petitioners confinement at the NARCOM-DRC for treatment and rehabilitation. Again, on
October 30, 1996, the trial court granted petitioners voluntary confinement for treatment and rehabilitation at
[5]
the National Bureau of Investigation-TRC.
On April 25, 1997, the court issued an order declaring petitioner already drug-free and directing him to
[6]
report to a certain Dr. Casimiro for out-patient counseling for 6 months to one (1) year.
Despite several confinements, respondent claimed petitioner was not fully rehabilitated. His drug
dependence worsened and it became difficult for respondent and her children to live with him. Petitioner
allegedly became violent and irritable. On some occasions, he even physically assaulted respondent. Thus, on
June 17, 1999, respondent and her 3 children abandoned petitioner and transferred to the house of her relatives.
On August 31, 1999, petitioner filed with the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 107, the instant
[7]
petition for habeas corpus praying for custody of his three children. Respondent opposed the petition, citing the
[8]
drug dependence of petitioner.

Meanwhile, on September 24, 1999, respondent filed a petition for annulment of marriage with Branch 102
[9]
of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City.
On September 27, 1999, petitioner filed in the habeas corpus case, a motion seeking visitation rights over his
[10]
children. On December 7, 1999, after the parties reached an agreement, the court issued an order granting
visitation rights to petitioner and directing the parties to undergo psychiatric and psychological examination by a
psychiatrist of their common choice. The parties further agreed to submit the case for resolution after the trial
courts receipt of the results of their psychiatric examination. The full text of said order reads:
The parties appeared with their respective lawyers. A conference was held in open Court and the parties agreed
on the following:
Effective this Saturday and every Saturday thereafter until further order the petitioner shall fetch the children
every Saturday and Sunday at 9:00 oclock in the morning from the house of the sister of respondent, Mrs.
Corazon Soriano and to be returned at 5:00 oclock in the afternoon of the same days.
That the parties agreed to submit themselves to Dr. Teresito Ocampo for psychiatric/psychological
examination. Dr. Ocampo is hereby advised to go over the records of this case to enable him to have a thorough
background of the problem. He is hereby ordered to submit his findings directly to this Court without furnishing
the parties copies of his report. And after the receipt of that report, thereafter, the case shall be deemed
[11]
submitted for decision.
On January 6, 2000, Dr. Ocampo submitted the results of his psychiatric evaluation on the parties and their
children. Pertinent portions thereof state:
SINGLY and COLLECTIVELY, the following information was obtained in the interview of the 3 children:
(1)

THEY were affected psychologically by the drug-related behavior of their father:

a.

they have a difficult time concentrating on their studies.

b.

they are envious of their classmates whose families live in peace and harmony.

c.

once, MICHAEL had to quit school temporarily.

(2)

THEY witnessed their father when he was under the influence of shabu.

(3) THEY think their father had been angry at their paternal grandmother and this anger was displaced to their
mother.
(4) THEY hope their father will completely and permanently recover from his drug habit; and their criteria of his
full recovery include:
a.

he will regain his easy-going attitude.

b.

he wont be hot-headed anymore and would not drive their van recklessly.

c.

he would not tell unverifiable stories anymore.


d.

he would not poke a gun on his own head and ask the children who they love better, mom or dad.

(5) At one point one of the sons, became very emotional while he was narrating his story and he cried. I had to
stop the interview.
(6)

THEIR mother was fearful and terrified when their father quarreled with her.

(7)

THEY hope their visits to their father will not interfere with their school and academic schedules.
xxx

xxx

xxx

(3) MARILOU is one of 4 siblings. She graduated from college with a degree in banking and finance. SHE was a
carreer (sic) woman; worked for a bank for ten years; subsequently quit her job to devote more time to her family.
(4) REYMOND is one of 5 siblings in a well-to-do family. His father was a physician. During his developmental
years, he recalled how his mother complained incessantly about how bad the father was; only to find later that the
truth was opposite to the complaints of his mother; that his father was nice, logical and understanding. He
recalled how he unselfishly served his father --- he opened the door when he arrived home; he got his portfolio; he
brought the days newspaper; he removed his shoes; he brought his glass of beer or his shot of whisky. In short,
he served him like a servant. His father died of stroke in 1990.
REYMOND graduated from college with a degree in LAW in 1984; he did not pass the bar.
His work history is as follows:
a.

1985 to 1989 he operated fishponds.

b.

1976 to 1991 simultaneously, he operated restaurant.

c.

1991 he engaged in the trading of vegetable, cooking oil, and mangos.

d.

HE handled the leasing of a family property to a fast food company.

The findings on the examination of the MENTAL STATUS and MENTAL PROCESSES OF MARILOU showed a
woman who showed the psychological effects of the trauma she had in the past. She is slightly edgy and fidgety
with any external noise. SHE answered all my questions coherently. Her emotional state was stable throughout
the interview. She is of average intelligence. She was oriented to person, place and date. Her memory for recent
and remote events was intact. She could process sets of figures and sets of similarities and differences. Her
content of thought was negative for delusions, hallucinations, paranoia, suicidal and homicidal ideation. She
could process abstract ideas and general information. Her attention span was adequate. There was no evidence
of impaired judgment.
The Rorschach ink blot test gave responses such as man touching a woman, 2 people on a hi-five , 2 women
chatting, beast, stuffed animal, etc. Her past reflected on her psyche. There is no creative process. There
were no bizarre ideas.
The ZUNG anxiety/depression test highlighted I get tired for no reason; I feel that I am useful and needed (re,
son). There is moderate depression. However, she could still make competent decisions.
The Social Adaptation Scale scored well in her capacity to adapt to her situation. There is no evidence of losing
control.

The findings on the examination of the MENTAL STATUS and MENTAL PROCESSES of REYMOND showed an
individual who presented himself in the best situation he could possibly be. He is cool, calm and collected. He
answered all my questions coherently. He is of average intelligence. He was oriented to person, place and
date. His memory for recent and remote events was intace (sic). His content of thought was negative for
delusions, hallucinations, paranoia, suicidal and homicidal ideation. His attention span was adequate. He could
process abstract ideas, sets of figures, and general information.
The Rorschach ink blot test gave responses such as distorted chest , butterfly with scattered color, cat ran
over by a car, nothing 2 people, monster etc. There is no central theme in his responses. There were no
bizarre ideas.
The Zung anxiety/depression test: My mind is as clear as it used to be (most of the time). There was no evidence
of brain damage. There is no significant affective response that would affect his rationality.
The Social Adaptive Scale scored well in his capacity to adapt to his situation. He reached out well to others. He is
in very good control of his emotions.
BASED ON MY FINDINGS I MADE THE FOLLOWING COMMENTS AND CONCLUSIONS:
I. The CRITERIA for cure in drug addiction consist of:
1.

5-years and 10-years intervals of drug-free periods.

2.

change for the better of the maladaptive behaviors of the addict consisting of telling lies,
manipulative behavior, melodramatic and hysterical actions.

3.

constructive and reproductive outlets for the mental and physical energies of the addict.

4.

behavior oriented towards spiritual values and other things.

II BASED on such scientific and observable criteria, I do not yet consider REYMOND LAXAMANA completely
cured even though his drug urine test at Medical City for shabu was negative. (Emphasis supplied)
III I DO NOT DETECT any evidence that the paternal visits of the sons would be harmful or they would be in any
danger. The academic schedules of the sons has be taken into account in determining the length and frequency
of their visits.
xxx

xxx

x x x.

[12]

On January 14, 2000, the trial court rendered the assailed decision awarding the custody of the three
children to respondent and giving visitation rights to petitioner. The dispositive portion thereof states:
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, judgment is hereby rendered:
1. The children, Joseph, Michael and Vincent all surnamed Laxamana are hereby ordered to remain under the
custody of the respondent.
2. The visitation arrangement as per Order of December 7, 1999 is hereby incorporated and forms part of this
Decision. The parties are enjoined to comply with the terms stated therein.

3. The petitioner is hereby ordered to undergo urine drug screen for shabu for three times (3x) per month
every ten (10) days, with the Dangerous Drugs Board. The said Board is hereby ordered to submit the results of all
tests immediately as directed to this Court.
4. The petitioner is hereby referred to undergo regular counseling at the Free-Clinic at the East Avenue Medical
Center, Department of Health Out Patient Psychiatry Department until further order. For this purpose, it is
suggested that he should see Dr. Teresito P. Ocampo to make arrangements for said counseling.
Let copies of this Decision be furnished the Dangerous Drugs Board and the Free-Clinic, Out Patient Psychiatry
Department, East Avenue Medical Center, Department of Health for their information and guidance.
SO ORDERED.

[13]

Aggrieved, petitioner filed the instant petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court,
based on the following:
I
THE COURT A QUO HAS DEPARTED FROM THE ACCEPTED AND USUAL COURSE OF JUDICIAL PROCEEDINGS
WHEN IT RESOLVED THE ISSUE OF CUSTODY WITHOUT CONDUCTING A TRIAL TO DETERMINE FACTUAL
ISSUES.
II
THE COURT A QUO HAS RESOLVED THE ISSUE OF CUSTODY IN A MANNER NOT IN ACCORD WITH LAW AND
WITH THE APPLICABLE DECISIONS OF THIS HONORABLE SUPREME COURT WHEN IT RESOLVED THE ISSUE
OF CUSTODY WITHOUT CONSIDERING THE PARAMOUNT INTEREST AND WELFARE OF HEREIN PARTIES
THREE (3) MINOR CHILDREN.
III
THE ASSAILED DECISION IS NULL AND VOID AS IT DOES NOT COMPLY WITH SECTION 14 ARTICLE VIII OF
[14]
THE CONSTITUTION OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES.
The core issue for resolution in the instant petition is whether or not the trial court considered the
paramount interest and welfare of the children in awarding their custody to respondent.
In controversies involving the care, custody and control of their minor children, the contending parents stand
on equal footing before the court who shall make the selection according to the best interest of the child. The
child if over seven years of age may be permitted to choose which parent he/she prefers to live with, but the court
is not bound by such choice if the parent so chosen is unfit. In all cases, the sole and foremost consideration is the
physical, educational, social and moral welfare of the child concerned, taking into account the respective
[15]
resources as well as social and moral situations of the opposing parents.
[16]

In Medina v. Makabali, we stressed that this is as it should be, for in the continual evolution of legal
institutions, the patria potestas has been transformed from the jus vitae ac necis (right of life and death) of the
Roman law, under which the offspring was virtually a chattel of his parents, into a radically different institution,
due to the influence of Christian faith and doctrines. The obligational aspect is now supreme. There is no power,
but a task; no complex rights of parents but a sum of duties; no sovereignty, but a sacred trust for the welfare of
the minor.
Mindful of the nature of the case at bar, the court a quo should have conducted a trial notwithstanding the
agreement of the parties to submit the case for resolution on the basis, inter alia, of the psychiatric report of Dr.

Teresito. Thus, petitioner is not estopped from questioning the absence of a trial considering that said psychiatric
report, which was the courts primary basis in awarding custody to respondent, is insufficient to justify the
decision. The fundamental policy of the State to promote and protect the welfare of children shall not be
[17]
disregarded by mere technicality in resolving disputes which involve the family and the youth. While petitioner
may have a history of drug dependence, the records are inadequate as to his moral, financial and social wellbeing. The results of the psychiatric evaluation showing that he is not yet completely cured may render him
unfit to take custody of the children, but there is no evidence to show that respondent is unfit to provide the
children with adequate support, education, as well as moral and intellectual training and development. Moreover,
the children in this case were 14 and 15 years old at the time of the promulgation of the decision, yet the court did
not ascertain their choice as to which parent they want to live with. In its September 8, 1999 order, the trial court
merely stated that: The children were asked as to whether they would like to be with petitioner but there are
indications that they entertain fears in their hearts and want to be sure that their father is no longer a drug
[18]
dependent. There is no showing that the court ascertained the categorical choice of the children. These
inadequacies could have been remedied by an exhaustive trial probing into the accuracy of Dr. Ocampos report
and the capacity of both parties to raise their children. The trial court was remiss in the fulfillment of its duties
when it approved the agreement of the parties to submit the case for decision on the basis of sketchy findings of
facts.
[19]

In Lacson v. Lacson, the case was remanded to the trial court with respect to the issue of custody. In the
said case, the court a quo resolved the question of the childrens custody based on the amicable settlement of the
spouses. Stressing the need for presentation of evidence and a thorough proceedings, we explained
It is clear that every child [has] rights which are not and should not be dependent solely on the wishes, much
less the whims and caprices, of his parents. His welfare should not be subject to the parents' say-so or mutual
agreement alone. Where, as in this case, the parents are already separated in fact, the courts must step in to
determine in whose custody the child can better be assured the rights granted to him by law. The need, therefore,
to present evidence regarding this matter, becomes imperative. A careful scrutiny of the records reveals that no
such evidence was introduced in the CFI. This latter court relied merely on the mutual agreement of the spousesparents. To be sure, this was not sufficient basis to determine the fitness of each parent to be the custodian of the
children.
Besides, at least one of the children Enrique, the eldest is now eleven years of age and should be given the
choice of the parent he wishes to live with. x x x.
In the instant case, the proceedings before the trial court leave much to be desired. While a remand of this
case would mean further delay, the childrens paramount interest demand that further proceedings be conducted
to determine the fitness of both petitioner and respondent to assume custody of their minor children.
WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing, the instant case is REMANDED to the Regional Trial Court of
Quezon City, Branch 107, for the purpose of receiving evidence to determine the fitness of petitioner and
respondent to take custody of their children. Pending the final disposition of this case, custody shall remain with
respondent but subject to petitioners visitation rights in accordance with the December 7, 1999 order of the trial
court.
SO ORDERED.

CRISANTO RAFAELITO G. GUALBERTO V, petitioner, vs. COURT OF APPEALS; Hon. HELEN B.


RICAFORT, Presiding Judge, Regional Trial Court Paraaque City, Branch 260; and JOYCELYN D.
PABLO-GUALBERTO, respondents.

DECISION
PANGANIBAN, J.:
When love is lost between spouses and the marriage inevitably results in separation, the bitterest tussle is
often over the custody of their children. The Court is now tasked to settle the opposing claims of the parents for
custody pendente lite of their child who is less than seven years of age. There being no sufficient proof of any
compelling reason to separate the minor from his mother, custody should remain with her.

The Case
[1]

Before us are two consolidated petitions. The first is a Petition for Review filed by Joycelyn Pablo[2]
Gualberto under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, assailing the August 30, 2002 Decision of the Court of Appeals
(CA) in CA-GR SP No. 70878. The assailed Decision disposed as follows:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Petition for Certiorari is hereby GRANTED. The assailed Order of May
17, 2002 is hereby SET ASIDE andANNULLED. The custody of the child is hereby ordered returned to [Crisanto
Rafaelito G. Gualberto V].
The [respondent] court/Judge is hereby directed to consider, hear and resolve [petitioners] motion to lift the
[3]
award of custody pendente lite of the child to [respondent].
[4]

The second is a Petition for Certiorari filed by Crisanto Rafaelito Gualberto V under Rule 65 of the Rules of
Court, charging the appellate court with grave abuse of discretion for denying his Motion for Partial
Reconsideration of the August 30, 2002 Decision. The denial was contained in the CAs November 27, 2002
Resolution, which we quote:
We could not find any cogent reason why the [last part of the dispositive portion of our Decision of August 30,
[5]
2002] should be deleted, hence, subject motion is hereby DENIED.

The Facts
The CA narrated the antecedents as follows:
x x x [O]n March 12, 2002, [Crisanto Rafaelito G. Gualberto V] filed before [the Regional Trial Court of Paraaque
City] a petition for declaration of nullity of his marriage to x x x Joycelyn D. Pablo Gualberto, with an ancillary
prayer for custody pendente lite of their almost 4-year-old son, minor Rafaello (the child, for brevity), whom
[Joycelyn] allegedly took away with her from the conjugal home and his school (Infant Toddlers Discovery Center
in Paraaque City) when [she] decided to abandon [Crisanto] sometime in early February 2002[.] x x x [O]n April 2,
2002, [RTC Judge Helen B. Ricafort] heard the ancillary prayer of [Crisanto] for custody pendente lite. x x x
[B]ecause [Joycelyn] allegedly failed to appear despite notice, [Crisanto], a certain Col. Renato Santos, and Ms.
Cherry Batistel, testified before the x x x Judge; x x x documentary evidence [was] also presented[.] x x x [O]n April
3, 2002, x x x [the] Judge awarded custody pendente lite of the child to [Crisanto.] [T]he Order partly read x x x:
x x x Crisanto Rafaelito Gualberto V testified. He stated that [Joycelyn] took their minor child with her to
Caminawit, San Jose, Occidental Mindoro. At that time, the minor was enrolled at B.F. Homes, Paraaque
City. Despite effort[s] exerted by him, he has failed to see his child. [Joycelyn] and the child are at present staying
with the formers step-father at the latters [residence] at Caminawit, San Jose, Occidental Mindoro.

Renato Santos, President of United Security Logistic testified that he was commissioned by [Crisanto] to conduct
surveillance on [Joycelyn] and came up with the conclusion that [she] is having lesbian relations with one Noreen
Gay Cuidadano in Cebu City.
The findings of Renato Santos [were] corroborated by Cherry Batistel, a house helper of the spouses who stated
that [the mother] does not care for the child as she very often goes out of the house and on one occasion, she saw
[Joycelyn] slapping the child.
Art. 211 of the Family Code provides as follows:
The father and the mother shall jointly exercise parental authority over the persons of their children. In the case
of disagreement, the fathers decision shall prevail, unless there is a judicial order to the contrary.
The authority of the father and mother over their children is exercised jointly. This recognition, however, does
not place her in exactly the same place as the father; her authority is subordinated to that of the father.
In all controversies regarding the custody of minors, the sole and foremost consideration is the physical,
educational, social and moral welfare of the child, taking into account the respective resources and social and
moral situations of the contending parties.
The Court believes that [Joycelyn] had no reason to take the child with her. Moreover, per Sheriff returns, she is
not with him at Caminawit, San Jose, Occidental Mindoro.
WHEREFORE, pendente lite, the Court hereby awards custody of the minor, Crisanto Rafaello P. Gualberto X to
his father, Crisanto Rafaelito G. Gualberto V.
x x x [O]n April 16, 2002, the hearing of [Joycelyns] motion to lift the award of custody pendente lite of the child
to [Crisanto] was set but the former did not allegedly present any evidence to support her motion. However, on
May 17, 2002, [the] Judge allegedly issued the assailed Order reversing her Order of April 3, 2002 and this time
awarding custody of the child to [Joycelyn]. [T]he entire text of the Order [is] herein reproduced, to wit:
Submitted is [Crisantos] Motion to Resolve Prayer for Custody Pendente Lite and [Joycelyns] Motion to Dismiss
and the respective Oppositions thereto.
[Joycelyn], in her Motion to Dismiss, makes issue of the fact that the person referred to in the caption of the
Petition is one JOCELYN Pablo Gualberto and not Joycelyn Pablo Gualberto. [Joycelyn] knows she is the person
referred to in the Complaint. As a matter of fact, the body of the Complaint states her name correct[ly]. The law
is intended to facilitate and promote the administration of justice, not to hinder or delay it. Litigation should be
practicable and convenient. The error in the name of Joycelyn does not involve public policy and has not
prejudiced [her].
This case was filed on March 12, 2002. Several attempts were made to serve summons on [Joycelyn] as shown by
th
the Sheriffs returns. It appears that on the 4 attempt on March 21, 2002, both Ma. Daisy and x x x Ronnie
Nolasco, [Joycelyns mother and stepfather, respectively,] read the contents of the documents presented after
which they returned the same.
The Court believes that on that day, summons was duly served and this Court acquired jurisdiction over
[Joycelyn].
The filing of [Joycelyns annulment] case on March 26, 2002 was an after thought, perforce the Motion to
[D]ismiss should be denied.

The child subject of this Petition, Crisanto Rafaello P. Gualberto is barely four years old. Under Article 213 of the
Family Code, he shall not be separated from his mother unless the Court finds compelling reasons to order
otherwise. The Court finds the reason stated by [Crisanto] not [to] be compelling reasons. The father should
however be entitled to spend time with the minor. These do not appear compelling reasons to deprive him of the
company of his child.
When [Joycelyn] appeared before this Court, she stated that she has no objection to the father visiting the child
even everyday provided it is in Mindoro.
The Court hereby grants the mother, [Joycelyn], the custody of Crisanto Rafaello P. Gualberto, with [the] right of
[Crisanto] to have the child with him every other weekend.
WHEREFORE:
1.

The [M]otion to Dismiss is hereby DENIED;

2.

Custody pendente lite is hereby given to the mother Joycelyn Pablo Gualberto with
the right of the father, x x x [Crisanto], to have him every other week-end.

3.

Parties are admonished not to use any other agencies of the government like the
[6]
CIDG to interfere in this case and to harass the parties.
[7]

In a Petition for Certiorari before the CA, Crisanto charged the Regional Trial Court (Branch 260) of
Paraaque City with grave abuse of discretion for issuing its aforequoted May 17, 2002 Order. He alleged that this
Order superseded, without any factual or legal basis, the still valid and subsisting April 3, 2002 Order awarding
him custody pendente lite of his minor son; and that it violated Section 14 of Article VII of the 1987 Constitution.

Ruling of the Court of Appeals


Partly in Crisantos favor, the CA ruled that grave abuse of discretion had been committed by the trial court
in reversing the latter courts previous Order dated April 3, 2002, by issuing the assailed May 17, 2002 Order. The
appellate court explained that the only incident to resolve was Joycelyns Motion to Dismiss, not the issuance of
the earlier Order. According to the CA, the prior Order awarding provisional custody to the father should prevail,
not only because it was issued after a hearing, but also because the trial court did not resolve the correct incident
in the later Order.
Nonetheless, the CA stressed that the trial court judge was not precluded from considering and resolving
Joycelyns Motion to lift the award of custody pendente lite to Crisanto, as that Motion had yet to be properly
considered and ruled upon. However, it directed that the child be turned over to him until the issue was resolved.
Hence, these Petitions.

[8]

Issues
In GR No. 154994, Petitioner Joycelyn submits these issues for our consideration:
1. Whether or not the Respondent Court of Appeals, when it awarded the custody of the child to the father,
violated Art. 213 of the Family Code, which mandates that no child under seven years of age shall be separated
from the mother, unless the court finds compelling reasons to order otherwise.

2.

Is it Article 213 or Article 211 which applies in this case involving four-year old Rafaello?

[9]

On the other hand, Crisanto raises the following issues:


A. Did Respondent Court commit grave abuse of discretion amounting to or in excess of jurisdiction when, in
its August 30, 2002 Decision, it ordered respondent court/Judge to consider, hear and resolve the motion to lift
award of custody pendente lite of the child to petitioner and x x x denied the motion for reconsideration thereof in
its November 27, 2002 Resolution, considering that: (1) there is no such motion ever, then or now pending, with
the court a quo; (2) the November 27, 2002 Resolution is unconstitutional; and (3) the April 3, 2002 Order of
respondent Judge, the validity of which has been upheld in the August 30, 2002 Decision of the respondent Court,
has become final and executory; and
B. Ought not the ancillary remedies [o]f habeas corpus, because the whereabouts, physical and mental
condition of the illegally detained Minor Rafaello is now unknown to petitioner and preliminary mandatory
injunction with urgent prayer for immediate issuance of preliminary [injunction], petitioner having a clear and
settled right to custody of Minor Rafaello which has been violated and still is being continuously violated by
[10]
[petitioner Joycelyn], be granted by this Honorable Court?
Being interrelated, the procedural challenges and the substantive issues in the two Petitions will be
addressed jointly.

The Courts Ruling


There is merit in the Petition in GR No. 154994, but not in GR No. 156254.

Preliminary Issue:
The Alleged Prematurity
of the Petition in GR No. 154994
Before going into the merits of the present controversy, the Court shall first dispose of a threshold issue. In
GR No. 154994, therein Respondent Crisanto contends that the Petition for Review was filed beyond the deadline
(October 24, 2002) allowed by the Rules of Court and by this Court. He claims that Registry Bill No. 88 shows that
the Petition was sent by speed mail, only on November 4, 2002. Furthermore, he assails the Petition for its
prematurity, since his Motion for Partial Reconsideration of the August 30, 2002 CA Decision was still pending
before the appellate court. Thus, he argues that the Supreme Court has no jurisdiction over Joycelyns Petition.

Timeliness of the Petition


The manner of filing and service Joycelyns Petition by mail is governed by Sections 3 and 7 of Rule 13 of the
Rules of Court, which we quote:
SEC. 3. Manner of filing. The filing of pleadings, appearances, motions, notices, orders, judgments and all other
papers shall be made by presenting the original copies thereof, plainly indicated as such personally to the clerk of
court or by sending them by registered mail. xxx In the second case, the date of mailing of motions, pleadings and
other papers or payments or deposits, as shown by the post office stamp on the envelope or the registry receipt, shall

be considered as the date of their filing, payment, or deposit in court. The envelope shall be attached to the records
of the case.
x x x

xxx

xxx

SEC. 7. Service by mail. Service by registered mail shall be made by depositing the copy in the office, in a sealed
envelope, plainly addressed to the party or his counsel at his office, if known, otherwise at his residence, if known,
with postage fully pre-paid, and with instructions to the postmaster to return the mail to the sender after ten (10)
days if undelivered. If no registry service is available in the locality of either the sender of the addressee, service
may be done by ordinary mail. (Italics supplied)
The records disclose that Joycelyn received the CAs August 30, 2002 Decision on September 9, 2002. On
September 17, she filed before this Court a Motion for a 30-day extension of time to file a petition for review on
[11]
certiorari. This Motion was granted, and the deadline was thus extended until October 24, 2002.
A further perusal of the records reveals that copies of the Petition were sent to this Court and to the parties
[12]
by registered mail at the Bian, Laguna Post Office on October 24, 2002. This is the date clearly stamped on
[13]
[14]
the face of the envelope and attested to in the Affidavit of Service accompanying the Petition. Petitioner
Joycelyn explained that the filing and the service had been made by registered mail due to the volume of delivery
[15]
assignments and the lack of a regular messenger.
The Petition is, therefore, considered to have been filed on October 24, 2002, its mailing date as shown by
the post office stamp on the envelope. The last sentence of Section 3 of Rule 13 of the Rules provides that the
date of filing may be shown either by the post office stamp on the envelope orby the registry receipt. Proof of its
filing, on the other hand, is shown by the existence of the petition in the record, pursuant to Section 12 of Rule
[16]
13.
The postmaster satisfactorily clarifies that Registry Bill No. 88, which shows the date November 2, 2002,
merely discloses when the mail matters received by the Bian Post Office on October 24, 2002, were dispatched
[17]
or sent to the Central Mail Exchange for distribution to their final destinations. The Registry Bill does not reflect
[18]
the actual mailing date. Instead, it is the postal Registration Book that shows the list of mail matters that have
been registered for mailing on a particular day, along with the names of the senders and the addressees. That
book shows that Registry Receipt Nos. 2832-A and 2832-B, pertaining to the mailed matters for the Supreme
Court, were issued on October 24, 2002.

Prematurity of the Petition


As to the alleged prematurity of the Petition of Joycelyn, Crisanto points out that his Urgent Motion for
[19]
Partial Reconsideration was still awaiting resolution by the CA when she filed her Petition before this Court on
October 24, 2002. The CA ruled on the Motion only on November 27, 2002.
The records show, however, that the Motion of Crisanto was mailed only on September 12, 2002. Thus, on
September 17, 2002, when Joycelyn filed her Motion for Extension of Time to file her Petition for Review, she
might have still been unaware that he had moved for a partial reconsideration of the August 20, 2002 CA
Decision. Nevertheless, upon being notified of the filing of his Motion, she should have manifested that fact to
this Court.
With the CAs final denial of Crisantos Motion for Reconsideration, Joycelyns lapse may be excused in the
interest of resolving the substantive issues raised by the parties.

First Issue:

Grave Abuse of Discretion


In GR No. 156254, Crisanto submits that the CA gravely abused its discretion when it ordered the trial court
judge to consider, hear and resolve the motion to lift the award of custody pendente lite without any proper
motion by Joycelyn and after the April 3, 2002 Order of the trial court had become final and executory. The CA is
also charged with grave abuse of discretion for denying his Motion for Partial Reconsideration without stating the
reasons for the denial, allegedly in contravention of Section 1 of Rule 36 of the Rules of Court.

The Order to Hear the Motion


to Lift the Award of Custody
Pendente Lite Proper
To begin with, grave abuse of discretion is committed when an act is 1) done contrary to the Constitution,
[20]
the law or jurisprudence; or 2) executed whimsically or arbitrarily in a manner so patent and so gross as to
[21]
amount to an evasion of a positive duty, or to a virtual refusal to perform the duty enjoined. What constitutes
grave abuse of discretion is such capricious and arbitrary exercise of judgment as that which is equivalent, in the
[22]
eyes of the law, to lack of jurisdiction.
On the basis of these criteria, we hold that the CA did not commit grave abuse of discretion.
First, there can be no question that a court of competent jurisdiction is vested with the authority to resolve
even unassigned issues. It can do so when such a step is indispensable or necessary to a just resolution of issues
raised in a particular pleading or when the unassigned issues are inextricably linked or germane to those that have
[23]
been pleaded. This truism applies with more force when the relief granted has been specifically prayed for, as in
this case.
[24]

Explicit in the Motion to Dismiss filed by Joycelyn before the RTC is her ancillary prayer for the court to lift
and set aside its April 3, 2002 Order awarding to Crisanto custody pendente lite of their minor son. Indeed, the
necessary consequence of granting her Motion to Dismiss would have been the setting aside of the Order
awarding Crisanto provisional custody of the child. Besides, even if the Motion to Dismiss was denied -- as indeed
it was -- the trial court, in its discretion and if warranted, could still have granted the ancillary prayer as an
alternative relief.
Parenthetically, Joycelyns Motion need not have been verified because of the provisional nature of the April
[25]
3, 2002 Order. Under Rule 38 of the Rules of Court, verification is required only when relief is sought from a final
and executory Order. Accordingly, the court may set aside its own orders even without a proper motion,
[26]
whenever such action is warranted by the Rules and to prevent a miscarriage of justice.

Denial of the Motion for


Reconsideration Proper
Second, the requirement in Section 1 of Rule 36 (for judges to state clearly and distinctly the reasons for their
dispositions) refers only to decisions and final orders on the merits, not to those resolving incidental
[27]
matters. The provision reads:
SECTION 1. Rendition of judgments and final orders. A judgment or final order determining the merits of the
case shall be in writing personally and directly prepared by the judge, stating clearly and distinctly the facts and
the law on which it is based, signed by him, and filed with the clerk of court. (Italics supplied)

Here, the declaration of the nullity of marriage is the subject of the main case, in which the issue of
custody pendente lite is an incident. That custody and support of common children may be ruled upon by the
court while the action is pending is provided in Article 49 of the Family Code, which we quote :
[28]

Art. 49. During the pendency of the action and in the absence of adequate provisions in a written agreement
between the spouses, the Court shall provide for the support of the spouses and the custody and support of their
common children. x x x.
Clearly then, the requirement cited by Crisanto is inapplicable. In any event, in its questioned Resolution, the
CA clearly stated that it could not find any cogent reason to reconsider and set aside the assailed portion of its
August 30, 2002 Decision.

The April 3, 2002 Order Not


Final and Executory
Third, the award of temporary custody, as the term implies, is provisional and subject to change as
circumstances may warrant. In this connection, there is no need for a lengthy discussion of the alleged finality of
the April 3, 2002 RTC Order granting Crisanto temporary custody of his son. For that matter, even the award of
child custody after a judgment on a marriage annulment is not permanent; it may be reexamined and adjusted if
[29]
and when the parent who was given custody becomes unfit.

Second Issue:
Custody of a Minor Child
When love is lost between spouses and the marriage inevitably results in separation, the bitterest tussle is
often over the custody of their children. The Court is now tasked to settle the opposing claims of the parents for
[30]
custody pendente lite of their child who is less than seven years old. On the one hand, the mother insists that,
based on Article 213 of the Family Code, her minor child cannot be separated from her. On the other hand, the
father argues that she is unfit to take care of their son; hence, for compelling reasons, he must be awarded
custody of the child.
Article 213 of the Family Code

[31]

provides:

ART. 213. In case of separation of the parents, parental authority shall be exercised by the parent designated by
the court. The court shall take into account all relevant considerations, especially the choice of the child over
seven years of age, unless the parent chosen is unfit.
No child under seven years of age shall be separated from the mother, unless the court finds compelling reasons
to order otherwise.
This Court has held that when the parents are separated, legally or otherwise, the foregoing provision
[32]
governs the custody of their child. Article 213 takes its bearing from Article 363 of the Civil Code, which reads:
Art. 363. In all questions on the care, custody, education and property of children, the latters welfare shall be
paramount. No mother shall be separated from her child under seven years of age, unless the court finds compelling
reasons for such measure.(Italics supplied)

The general rule that children under seven years of age shall not be separated from their mother finds
[33]
its raison detre in the basic need of minor children for their mothers loving care. In explaining the rationale for
Article 363 of the Civil Code, the Code Commission stressed thus:
The general rule is recommended in order to avoid a tragedy where a mother has seen her baby torn away from
her. No man can sound the deep sorrows of a mother who is deprived of her child of tender age. The exception
allowed by the rule has to be for compelling reasons for the good of the child: those cases must indeed be rare, if
the mothers heart is not to be unduly hurt. If she has erred, as in cases of adultery, the penalty of imprisonment
and the (relative) divorce decree will ordinarily be sufficient punishment for her. Moreover, her moral dereliction
will not have any effect upon the baby who is as yet unable to understand the situation. (Report of the Code
Commission, p. 12)
A similar provision is embodied in Article 8 of the Child and Youth Welfare Code (Presidential Decree No.
[34]
603). Article 17 of the same Code is even more explicit in providing for the childs custody under various
circumstances, specifically in case the parents are separated. It clearly mandates that no child under five years of
age shall be separated from his mother, unless the court finds compelling reasons to do so. The provision is
reproduced in its entirety as follows:
Art. 17. Joint Parental Authority. The father and the mother shall exercise jointly just and reasonable parental
authority and responsibility over their legitimate or adopted children. In case of disagreement, the fathers
decision shall prevail unless there is a judicial order to the contrary.
In case of the absence or death of either parent, the present or surviving parent shall continue to exercise
parental authority over such children, unless in case of the surviving parents remarriage, the court for justifiable
reasons, appoints another person as guardian.
In case of separation of his parents, no child under five years of age shall be separated from his mother, unless the
court finds compelling reasons to do so. (Italics supplied)
The above mandates reverberate in Articles 211, 212 and 213 of the Family Code. It is unmistakable from the
[35]
language of these provisions that Article 211 was derived from the first sentence of the aforequoted Article 17;
[36]
[37]
Article 212, from the second sentence; and Article 213, save for a few additions, from the third sentence. It
should be noted that the Family Code has reverted to the Civil Code provision mandating that a child
[38]
below seven years should not be separated from the mother.

Mandatory Character
of Article 213 of the Family Code
[39]

In Lacson v. San Jose-Lacson, the Court held that the use of shall in Article 363 of the Civil Code and the
[40]
observations made by the Code Commission underscore the mandatory character of the word. Holding in that
case that it was a mistake to deprive the mother of custody of her two children, both then below the age of seven,
the Court stressed:
[Article 363] prohibits in no uncertain terms the separation of a mother and her child below seven years, unless
[41]
such a separation is grounded upon compelling reasons as determined by a court.
[42]

In like manner, the word shall in Article 213 of the Family Code and Section 6 of Rule 99 of the Rules of
[43]
Court has been held to connote a mandatory character. Article 213 and Rule 99 similarly contemplate a
situation in which the parents of the minor are married to each other, but are separated by virtue of either a

decree of legal separation or a de facto separation.


matter of fact.

[44]

In the present case, the parents are living separately as a

The Best Interest of the Child


a Primary Consideration
The Convention on the Rights of the Child provides that [i]n all actions concerning children, whether
undertaken by public or private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities or legislative
[45]
bodies, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration.
The principle of best interest of the child pervades Philippine cases involving adoption, guardianship,
support, personal status, minors in conflict with the law, and child custody. In these cases, it has long been
recognized that in choosing the parent to whom custody is given, the welfare of the minors should always be the
[46]
paramount consideration. Courts are mandated to take into account all relevant circumstances that would have
a bearing on the childrens well-being and development. Aside from the material resources and the moral and
social situations of each parent, other factors may also be considered to ascertain which one has the capability to
[47]
attend to the physical, educational, social and moral welfare of the children. Among these factors are the
previous care and devotion shown by each of the parents; their religious background, moral uprightness, home
environment and time availability; as well as the childrens emotional and educational needs

Tender-Age
Presumption
As pointed out earlier, there is express statutory recognition that, as a general rule, a mother is to be
preferred in awarding custody of children under the age of seven. The caveat in Article 213 of the Family Code
[48]
cannot be ignored, except when the court finds cause to order otherwise.
The so-called tender-age presumption under Article 213 of the Family Code may be overcome only
by compelling evidence of the mothers unfitness. The mother has been declared unsuitable to have custody of
her children in one or more of the following instances: neglect, abandonment, unemployment, immorality,
habitual drunkenness, drug addiction, maltreatment of the child, insanity or affliction with a communicable
[49]
disease.
Here, Crisanto cites immorality due to alleged lesbian relations as the compelling reason to deprive Joycelyn
of custody. It has indeed been held that under certain circumstances, the mothers immoral conduct may
[50]
constitute a compelling reason to deprive her of custody.
But sexual preference or moral laxity alone does not prove parental neglect or incompetence. Not even the
fact that a mother is a prostitute or has been unfaithful to her husband would render her unfit to have custody of
[51]
her minor child. To deprive the wife of custody, the husband must clearly establish that her moral lapses have
had an adverse effect on the welfare of the child or have distracted the offending spouse from exercising proper
[52]
parental care.
[53]

To this effect did the Court rule in Unson III v. Navarro, wherein the mother was openly living with her
brother-in-law, the childs uncle. Under that circumstance, the Court deemed it in the nine-year-old childs best
interest to free her from the obviously unwholesome, not to say immoral influence, that the situation in which
[54]
the mother ha[d] placed herself might create in [the childs] moral and social outlook.
[55]

In Espiritu v. CA, the Court took into account psychological and case study reports on the child, whose
feelings of insecurity and anxiety had been traced to strong conflicts with the mother. To the psychologist the
child revealed, among other things, that the latter was disturbed upon seeing her mother hugging and kissing a

bad man who lived in their house and worked for her father. The Court held that the illicit or immoral activities
of the mother had already caused the child emotional disturbances, personality conflicts, and exposure to
conflicting moral values x x x.
Based on the above jurisprudence, it is therefore not enough for Crisanto to show merely that Joycelyn was a
lesbian. He must also demonstrate that she carried on her purported relationship with a person of the same sex in
the presence of their son or under circumstances not conducive to the childs proper moral development. Such a
fact has not been shown here. There is no evidence that the son was exposed to the mothers alleged sexual
proclivities or that his proper moral and psychological development suffered as a result.
Moreover, it is worthy to note that the trial court judge, Helen Bautista-Ricafort, ruled in her May 17, 2002
[56]
Order that she had found the reason stated by [Crisanto] not to be compelling as to suffice as a ground for
separating the child from his mother. The judge made this conclusion after personally observing the two of them,
both in the courtroom and in her chambers on April 16, 2002, and after a chance to talk to the boy and to observe
him firsthand. This assessment, based on her unique opportunity to witness the childs behavior in the presence
of each parent, should carry more weight than a mere reliance on the records. All told, no compelling reason has
been adduced to wrench the child from the mothers custody.

No Grant of Habeas Corpus


and Preliminary Injunction
As we have ruled that Joycelyn has the right to keep her minor son in her custody, the writ of habeas corpus
and the preliminary mandatory injunction prayed for by Crisanto have no leg to stand on. A writ of habeas corpus
[57]
may be issued only when the rightful custody of any person is withheld from the person entitled thereto, a
situation that does not apply here.
On the other hand, the ancillary remedy of preliminary mandatory injunction cannot be granted, because
[58]
Crisantos right to custody has not been proven to be clear and unmistakable. Unlike an ordinary preliminary
injunction, the writ of preliminary mandatory injunction is more cautiously regarded, since the latter requires the
[59]
performance of a particular act that tends to go beyond the maintenance of the status quo. Besides, such an
[60]
injunction would serve no purpose, now that the case has been decided on its merits.
WHEREFORE, the Petition in GR No. 154994 is GRANTED. The assailed Decision of the Court of Appeals is
hereby REVERSED and the May 17, 2002 Regional Trial Court Order REINSTATED. The Petition in GR No. 156254
is DISMISSED. Costs against Petitioner Crisanto Rafaelito Gualberto V.
SO ORDERED.

MARIE ANTONETTE ABIGAIL C. SALIENTES, ORLANDO B. SALIENTES, and ROSARIO C.


SALIENTES,Petitioners,
vs.
LORAN S.D. ABANILLA, HONORABLE JUDGE PEDRO SABUNDAYO, JR., REGIONAL TRIAL COURT,
BRANCH 203, MUNTINLUPA CITY, Respondents
DECISION
QUISUMBING, J.:
1

The instant petition assails the Decision dated November 10, 2003 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No.
75680, which dismissed the petition for certiorari against the orders of the Regional Trial Court in Special

Proceedings No. 03-004. Likewise assailed is the Court of Appeals Resolution dated March 19, 2004 denying
reconsideration.
The facts of the case are as follows:
Private respondent Loran S.D. Abanilla and petitioner Marie Antonette Abigail C. Salientes are the parents of the
minor Lorenzo Emmanuel S. Abanilla. They lived with Marie Antonettes parents, petitioners Orlando B. Salientes
and Rosario C. Salientes. Due to in-laws problems, private respondent suggested to his wife that they transfer to
their own house, but Marie Antonette refused. So, he alone left the house of the Salientes. Thereafter, he was
prevented from seeing his son.
Later, Loran S.D. Abanilla in his personal capacity and as the representative of his son, filed a Petition for Habeas
3
Corpus and Custody, docketed as Special Proceedings No. 03-004 before the Regional Trial Court of Muntinlupa
City. On January 23, 2003, the trial court issued the following order:
Upon verified Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus by Petitioners, the Respondents Marie Antonette Abigail C.
Salientes, Orlando B. Salientes and Rosario C. Salientes are hereby directed to produce and bring before this
Court the body of minor Lorenzo Emmanuel Salientes Abanilla on January 31, 2003 at 1:00 oclock in the
afternoon and to show cause why the said child should not be discharged from restraint.
Let this Writ be served by the Sheriff or any authorized representative of this Court, who is directed to
immediately make a return.
SO ORDERED.

Petitioners moved for reconsideration which the court denied.


Consequently, petitioners filed a petition for certiorari with the Court of Appeals, but the same was dismissed on
November 10, 2003. The appellate court affirmed the February 24, 2003 Order of the trial court holding that its
January 23, 2003 Order did not award the custody of the 2-year-old child to any one but was simply the standard
order issued for the production of restrained persons. The appellate court held that the trial court was still about
to conduct a full inquiry, in a summary proceeding, on the cause of the minors detention and the matter of his
custody. The Court of Appeals ruled thus:
WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DISMISSED for lack of merit.
SO ORDERED.

Petitioners moved for reconsideration, which was denied on March 19, 2004.
Hence, petitioners interposed this appeal by certiorari anchored on the following grounds:
1. The Court of Appeals erred in not pronouncing the respondent judge gravely abused his discretion, amounting
to lack or in excess of jurisdiction in issuing an order for the petitioner-mother to first show cause why her own
three-year old child in her custody should not be discharged from a so-called "restraint" despite no evidence at all
of restraint and no evidence of compelling reasons of maternal unfitness to deprive the petitioner-mother of her
minor son of tender years. The assailed orders, resolutions and decisions of the lower court and the Court of
Appeals are clearly void;
2. The Court of Appeals erred in not pronouncing that the respondent judge gravely abused his discretion in
issuing a writ of habeas corpus which clearly is not warranted considering that there is no unlawful restraint by the

mother and considering further that the law presumes the fitness of the mother, thereby negating any notion of
such mother illegally restraining or confining her very own son of tender years. The petition is not even sufficient
in substance to warrant the writ. The assailed orders are clearly void.
3. Contrary to the Court of Appeals decision, the "Sombong vs. CA" case supports rather than negates the position
of the petitioners.
4. Contrary to the Court of Appeals decision, summary proceeding does violence to the tender-years-rule
5. The Court of Appeals failed to consider that the private respondent failed to present prima facie proof of any
compelling reason of the unfitness of the petitioner-mother;
6. The Court of Appeals failed to see that the New Rules on Custody SUFFICES AS REMEDY.

Plainly put, the issue is: Did the Court of Appeals err when it dismissed the petition for certiorari against the trial
courts orders dated January 23, 2003 and February 24, 2003?
7

Petitioners contend that the order is contrary to Article 213 of the Family Code, which provides that no child
under seven years of age shall be separated from the mother unless the court finds compelling reasons to order
otherwise. They maintain that herein respondent Loran had the burden of showing any compelling reason but
failed to present even a prima facie proof thereof.
Petitioners posit that even assuming that there were compelling reasons, the proper remedy for private
respondent was simply an action for custody, but not habeas corpus. Petitioners assert that habeas corpus is
unavailable against the mother who, under the law, has the right of custody of the minor. They insist there was no
illegal or involuntary restraint of the minor by his own mother. There was no need for the mother to show cause
and explain the custody of her very own child.
Private respondent counters that petitioners argument based on Article 213 of the Family Code applies only to
the second part of his petition regarding the custody of his son. It does not address the first part, which pertains to
his right as the father to see his son. He asserts that the writ of habeas corpus is available against any person who
restrains the minors right to see his father and vice versa. He avers that the instant petition is merely filed for
delay, for had petitioners really intended to bring the child before the court in accordance with the new rules on
custody of minors, they would have done so on the dates specified in the January 23, 2003 and the February 24,
2003 orders of the trial court.
Private respondent maintains that, under the law, he and petitioner Marie Antonette have shared custody and
parental authority over their son. He alleges that at times when petitioner Marie Antonette is out of the country as
required of her job as an international flight stewardess, he, the father, should have custody of their son and not
the maternal grandparents.
As correctly pointed out by the Court of Appeals, the assailed January 23, 2003 Order of the trial court did not
grant custody of the minor to any of the parties but merely directed petitioners to produce the minor in court and
explain why they are restraining his liberty. The assailed order was an interlocutory order precedent to the trial
courts full inquiry into the issue of custody, which was still pending before it.
8

Under Rule 41, Section 1 of the Rules of Court, an interlocutory order is not appealable but the aggrieved party
may file an appropriate special action under Rule 65. The aggrieved party must show that the court gravely
abused its discretion in issuing the interlocutory order. In the present case, it is incumbent upon petitioners to
show that the trial court gravely abused its discretion in issuing the order.

Habeas corpus may be resorted to in cases where rightful custody is withheld from a person entitled
9
10
thereto. Under Article 211 of the Family Code, respondent Loran and petitioner Marie Antonette have joint
parental authority over their son and consequently joint custody. Further, although the couple is separated de
facto, the issue of custody has yet to be adjudicated by the court. In the absence of a judicial grant of custody to
one parent, both parents are still entitled to the custody of their child. In the present case, private respondents
11
cause of action is the deprivation of his right to see his child as alleged in his petition. Hence, the remedy
of habeas corpus is available to him.
In a petition for habeas corpus, the childs welfare is the supreme consideration. The Child and Youth Welfare
12
Code unequivocally provides that in all questions regarding the care and custody, among others, of the child, his
13
welfare shall be the paramount consideration.
Again, it bears stressing that the order did not grant custody of the minor to any of the parties but merely directed
petitioners to produce the minor in court and explain why private respondent is prevented from seeing his child.
14
15
This is in line with the directive in Section 9 of A.M. 03-04-04-SC that within fifteen days after the filing of the
answer or the expiration of the period to file answer, the court shall issue an order requiring the respondent
(herein petitioners) to present the minor before the court. This was exactly what the court did.
Moreover, Article 213 of the Family Code deals with the judicial adjudication of custody and serves as a guideline
for the proper award of custody by the court. Petitioners can raise it as a counter argument for private
respondents petition for custody. But it is not a basis for preventing the father to see his own child. Nothing in the
said provision disallows a father from seeing or visiting his child under seven years of age.
In sum, the trial court did not err in issuing the orders dated January 23, 2003 and February 24, 2003. Hence, the
Court of Appeals properly dismissed the petition for certiorari against the said orders of the trial court.
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The Decisiondated November 10, 2003 and the Resolutiondated March 19,
2004 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 75680 are AFFIRMED. Costs against petitioners.
SO ORDERED.

GAMBOA-HIRSCH VS COURT OF APPEALS


VELASCO, JR., J.:
[1]

[2]

This is a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 which seeks to set aside the June 8, 2006 Decision of the
Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No. 94329, which granted private respondent Franklin Harvey Hirsch
(Franklin) joint custody with petitioner Agnes Gamboa-Hirsch (Agnes) of their minor daughter Simone Noelle
[3]

Hirsch (Simone); and the August 3, 2006 CA Resolution denying petitioners Motion for Reconsideration for lack
of merit. Petitioner also prays for the issuance of a temporary restraining order/injunction preventing the
execution and implementation of the assailed June 8, 2006 CA Decision.

Franklin and Agnes were married on December 23, 2000 in the City of Bacolod, and established their conjugal
dwelling in Diniwid,Boracay Island, Malay, Aklan. On December 21, 2002, a child was born to them and was

named Simone. In 2005, the couple started to have marital problems as Agnes wanted to stay in Makati City,
while Franklin insisted that they stay in Boracay Island. On March 23, 2006, Agnes came to their conjugal home in
Boracay, and asked for money and for Franklins permission for her to bring their daughter to Makati City for a
brief vacation. Franklin readily agreed, but soon thereafter discovered that neither Agnes nor their daughter
Simone would be coming back to Boracay.

Franklin then filed a petition for habeas corpus before the CA for Agnes to produce Simone in court. On May
19, 2006, the CA issued a Resolution which ordered that a writ of habeas corpus be issued ordering that Simone
be brought before said court on May 26, 2006. After a series of hearings and presentation of evidence, the CA,
on June 8, 2006, promulgated the assailed Decision granting Franklin joint custody with Agnes of their minor
child. Agnes filed a Motion for Reconsideration of this Decision, which was denied in the CAs August 3,
2006Resolution for lack of merit.

Petitioner now comes before this Court praying that we set aside the June 8, 2006 Decision and August 3,
2006 Resolution of the CA, and that we issue a temporary restraining order/injunction on the execution and
implementation of the assailed rulings of the CA based on the following grounds:
(A)
The Court of Appeals seriously erred and acted with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack
or excess of jurisdiction when it ruled upon, granted, and decided the matter of custody x x x
during the May 26, 2006 hearing conducted on the petition for writ of habeas corpus in relation
to and with custody of a minor under A.M. No. 03-03-04-SC, C.A.-GR SP. No. 94329, as no
reception of evidence to support said decision was had thereon, and the honorable court merely
based its decision on mere conjectures and presumptions.

(B)
The Court of Appeals seriously erred and acted with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack
or excess of jurisdiction when it denied the motion for reconsideration filed by [petitioner
Agnes] and only made addendums thereon appertaining to the custody aspect in its Decision
that the same is deemed necessary for the protection of the interest of the child and a mere
temporary arrangement while the case involving the herein parties are pending before the
Regional Trial Court x x x quite contrary to its pronouncements during the May 26, 2006 hearing
when the matter of custody was insisted upon by [respondent Franklin].
(C)
The Court of Appeals seriously erred and acted with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack
or excess of jurisdiction when it granted joint custody in utter disregard of the provisions of the
Family Code, as to minors seven (7) years of age and below, in relation to the jurisprudence and
pronouncements laid down by the Honorable Supreme Court on the matter of the said
[4]
provision.

Acting on the petition, this Court issued its October 2, 2006 Resolution denying petitioners prayer for
the issuance of a temporary restraining order. Petitioner then filed a Motion for Reconsideration of this
Resolution, and on April 11, 2007, this Court granted petitioners Motion for Reconsideration, issued a temporary
restraining order, and awarded the sole custody of the minor, Simone, to petitioner.

This petition has merit.

The CA committed grave abuse of discretion when it granted joint custody of the minor child to both
parents.
The Convention on the Rights of the Child provides that in all actions concerning children, whether
undertaken by public or private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities or
[5]

legislative bodies, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration (emphasis supplied). The
Child and Youth Welfare Code, in the same way, unequivocally provides that in all questions regarding the care
and custody, among others, of the child, his/her welfare shall be the paramount consideration.

[6]

The so-called tender-age presumption under Article 213 of the Family Code may be overcome only
by compelling evidence of the mothers unfitness. The mother is declared unsuitable to have custody of her
children in one or more of the following instances: neglect, abandonment, unemployment, immorality, habitual
drunkenness, drug addiction, maltreatment of the child, insanity, or affliction with a communicable
disease.

[7]

Here, the mother was not shown to be unsuitable or grossly incapable of caring for her minor child. All

told, no compelling reason has been adduced to wrench the child from the mothers custody.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is GIVEN DUE COURSE. The June 8, 2006 Decision
and August 3, 2006Resolution of the CA are hereby SET ASIDE. Sole custody over Simone Noelle Hirsch
is hereby AWARDED to the mother, petitioner Agnes Gamboa-Hirsch.

SO ORDERED.

HERALD BLACK DACASIN, Petitioner,


vs.
SHARON DEL MUNDO DACASIN, Respondent.
DECISION
CARPIO, J.:
The Case

For review is a dismissal of a suit to enforce a post-foreign divorce child custody agreement for lack of
jurisdiction.
The Facts
Petitioner Herald Dacasin (petitioner), American, and respondent Sharon Del Mundo Dacasin (respondent),
Filipino, were married in Manila in April 1994. They have one daughter, Stephanie, born on 21 September 1995. In
June 1999, respondent sought and obtained from the Circuit Court, 19th Judicial Circuit, Lake County, Illinois
3
(Illinois court) a divorce decree against petitioner. In its ruling, the Illinois court dissolved the marriage of
petitioner and respondent, awarded to respondent sole custody of Stephanie and retained jurisdiction over the
case for enforcement purposes.
4

On 28 January 2002, petitioner and respondent executed in Manila a contract (Agreement ) for the joint custody
of Stephanie. The parties chose Philippine courts as exclusive forum to adjudicate disputes arising from the
Agreement. Respondent undertook to obtain from the Illinois court an order "relinquishing" jurisdiction to
Philippine courts.
In 2004, petitioner sued respondent in the Regional Trial Court of Makati City, Branch 60 (trial court) to enforce
the Agreement. Petitioner alleged that in violation of the Agreement, respondent exercised sole custody over
Stephanie.
Respondent sought the dismissal of the complaint for, among others, lack of jurisdiction because of the Illinois
courts retention of jurisdiction to enforce the divorce decree.
The Ruling of the Trial Court
In its Order dated 1 March 2005, the trial court sustained respondents motion and dismissed the case for lack of
jurisdiction. The trial court held that: (1) it is precluded from taking cognizance over the suit considering the Illinois
courts retention of jurisdiction to enforce its divorce decree, including its order awarding sole custody of
Stephanie to respondent; (2) the divorce decree is binding on petitioner following the "nationality rule" prevailing
5
in this jurisdiction; and (3) the Agreement is void for contravening Article 2035, paragraph 5 of the Civil
6
7
Code prohibiting compromise agreements on jurisdiction.
Petitioner sought reconsideration, raising the new argument that the divorce decree obtained by respondent is
void. Thus, the divorce decree is no bar to the trial courts exercise of jurisdiction over the case.
In its Order dated 23 June 2005, the trial court denied reconsideration, holding that unlike in the case of
respondent, the divorce decree is binding on petitioner under the laws of his nationality.
Hence, this petition.
Petitioner submits the following alternative theories for the validity of the Agreement to justify its enforcement
by the trial court: (1) the Agreement novated the valid divorce decree, modifying the terms of child custody from
8
sole (maternal) to joint; or (2) the Agreement is independent of the divorce decree obtained by respondent.
The Issue
The question is whether the trial court has jurisdiction to take cognizance of petitioners suit and enforce the
Agreement on the joint custody of the parties child.
The Ruling of the Court

The trial court has jurisdiction to entertain petitioners suit but not to enforce the Agreement which is void.
However, factual and equity considerations militate against the dismissal of petitioners suit and call for the
remand of the case to settle the question of Stephanies custody.
Regional Trial Courts Vested With Jurisdiction
to Enforce Contracts
Subject matter jurisdiction is conferred by law. At the time petitioner filed his suit in the trial court, statutory law
vests on Regional Trial Courts exclusive original jurisdiction over civil actions incapable of pecuniary
9
estimation. An action for specific performance, such as petitioners suit to enforce the Agreement on joint child
10
custody, belongs to this species of actions. Thus, jurisdiction-wise, petitioner went to the right court.
Indeed, the trial courts refusal to entertain petitioners suit was grounded not on its lack of power to do so but on
its thinking that the Illinois courts divorce decree stripped it of jurisdiction. This conclusion is unfounded. What
the Illinois court retained was "jurisdiction x x x for the purpose of enforcing all and sundry the various provisions
11
of [its] Judgment for Dissolution." Petitioners suit seeks the enforcement not of the "various provisions" of the
divorce decree but of the post-divorce Agreement on joint child custody. Thus, the action lies beyond the zone of
the Illinois courts so-called "retained jurisdiction."
Petitioners Suit Lacks Cause of Action
The foregoing notwithstanding, the trial court cannot enforce the Agreement which is contrary to law.
In this jurisdiction, parties to a contract are free to stipulate the terms of agreement subject to the minimum ban
12
on stipulations contrary to law, morals, good customs, public order, or public policy. Otherwise, the contract is
13
denied legal existence, deemed "inexistent and void from the beginning." For lack of relevant stipulation in the
Agreement, these and other ancillary Philippine substantive law serve as default parameters to test the validity of
14
the Agreements joint child custody stipulations.
At the time the parties executed the Agreement on 28 January 2002, two facts are undisputed: (1) Stephanie was
under seven years old (having been born on 21 September 1995); and (2) petitioner and respondent were no
longer married under the laws of the United States because of the divorce decree. The relevant Philippine law on
15
child custody for spouses separated in fact or in law (under the second paragraph of Article 213 of the Family
16
Code) is also undisputed: "no child under seven years of age shall be separated from the mother x x x." (This
17
18
statutory awarding of sole parental custody to the mother is mandatory, grounded on sound policy
19
20
consideration, subject only to a narrow exception not alleged to obtain here. ) Clearly then, the Agreements
object to establish a post-divorce joint custody regime between respondent and petitioner over their child under
seven years old contravenes Philippine law.
The Agreement is not only void ab initio for being contrary to law, it has also been repudiated by the mother when
she refused to allow joint custody by the father. The Agreement would be valid if the spouses have not divorced or
21
separated because the law provides for joint parental authority when spouses live together. However, upon
separation of the spouses, the mother takes sole custody under the law if the child is below seven years old and
any agreement to the contrary is void. Thus, the law suspends the joint custody regime for (1) children under
seven of (2) separated or divorced spouses. Simply put, for a child within this age bracket (and for
commonsensical reasons), the law decides for the separated or divorced parents how best to take care of the child
and that is to give custody to the separated mother. Indeed, the separated parents cannot contract away the
provision in the Family Code on the maternal custody of children below seven years anymore than they can
privately agree that a mother who is unemployed, immoral, habitually drunk, drug addict, insane or afflicted with
a communicable disease will have sole custody of a child under seven as these are reasons deemed compelling to
22
preclude the application of the exclusive maternal custody regime under the second paragraph of Article 213.

It will not do to argue that the second paragraph of Article 213 of the Family Code applies only to judicial custodial
agreements based on its text that "No child under seven years of age shall be separated from the mother, unless
the court finds compelling reasons to order otherwise." To limit this provisions enforceability to court sanctioned
agreements while placing private agreements beyond its reach is to sanction a double standard in custody
regulation of children under seven years old of separated parents. This effectively empowers separated parents,
by the simple expedient of avoiding the courts, to subvert a legislative policy vesting to the separated mother sole
custody of her children under seven years of age "to avoid a tragedy where a mother has seen her baby torn away
23
from her." This ignores the legislative basis that "[n]o man can sound the deep sorrows of a mother who is
24
deprived of her child of tender age."
It could very well be that Article 213s bias favoring one separated parent (mother) over the other (father)
encourages paternal neglect, presumes incapacity for joint parental custody, robs the parents of custodial
25
options, or hijacks decision-making between the separated parents. However, these are objections which
question the laws wisdom not its validity or uniform enforceability. The forum to air and remedy these grievances
is the legislature, not this Court. At any rate, the rules seeming harshness or undesirability is tempered by
ancillary agreements the separated parents may wish to enter such as granting the father visitation and other
privileges. These arrangements are not inconsistent with the regime of sole maternal custody under the second
paragraph of Article 213 which merely grants to the mother final authority on the care and custody of the minor
under seven years of age, in case of disagreements.1avvphi1
Further, the imposed custodial regime under the second paragraph of Article 213 is limited in duration, lasting
only until the childs seventh year. From the eighth year until the childs emancipation, the law gives the separated
parents freedom, subject to the usual contractual limitations, to agree on custody regimes they see fit to adopt.
Lastly, even supposing that petitioner and respondent are not barred from entering into the Agreement for the
joint custody of Stephanie, respondent repudiated the Agreement by asserting sole custody over Stephanie.
Respondents act effectively brought the parties back to ambit of the default custodial regime in the second
paragraph of Article 213 of the Family Code vesting on respondent sole custody of Stephanie.
Nor can petitioner rely on the divorce decrees alleged invalidity - not because the Illinois court lacked jurisdiction
26
or that the divorce decree violated Illinois law, but because the divorce was obtained by his Filipino spouse - to
support the Agreements enforceability. The argument that foreigners in this jurisdiction are not bound by foreign
27
divorce decrees is hardly novel. Van Dorn v. Romillo settled the matter by holding that an alien spouse of a
28
Filipino is bound by a divorce decree obtained abroad. There, we dismissed the alien divorcees Philippine suit
for accounting of alleged post-divorce conjugal property and rejected his submission that the foreign divorce
(obtained by the Filipino spouse) is not valid in this jurisdiction in this wise:
There can be no question as to the validity of that Nevada divorce in any of the States of the United States. The
decree is binding on private respondent as an American citizen. For instance, private respondent cannot sue
petitioner, as her husband, in any State of the Union. What he is contending in this case is that the divorce is not
valid and binding in this jurisdiction, the same being contrary to local law and public policy.
It is true that owing to the nationality principle embodied in Article 15 of the Civil Code, only Philippine nationals
are covered by the policy against absolute divorces the same being considered contrary to our concept of public
policy and morality. However, aliens may obtain divorces abroad, which may be recognized in the Philippines,
provided they are valid according to their national law. In this case, the divorce in Nevada released private
respondent from the marriage from the standards of American law, under which divorce dissolves the marriage.
xxxx
Thus, pursuant to his national law, private respondent is no longer the husband of petitioner. He would have no
standing to sue in the case below as petitioners husband entitled to exercise control over conjugal assets. As he is
bound by the Decision of his own countrys Court, which validly exercised jurisdiction over him, and whose

decision he does not repudiate, he is estopped by his own representation before said Court from asserting his
right over the alleged conjugal property. (Emphasis supplied)
29

We reiterated Van Dorn in Pilapil v. Ibay-Somera to dismiss criminal complaints for adultery filed by the alien
divorcee (who obtained the foreign divorce decree) against his former Filipino spouse because he no longer
qualified as "offended spouse" entitled to file the complaints under Philippine procedural rules. Thus, it should be
clear by now that a foreign divorce decree carries as much validity against the alien divorcee in this jurisdiction as
it does in the jurisdiction of the aliens nationality, irrespective of who obtained the divorce.
The Facts of the Case and Nature of Proceeding
Justify Remand
Instead of ordering the dismissal of petitioners suit, the logical end to its lack of cause of action, we remand the
case for the trial court to settle the question of Stephanies custody. Stephanie is now nearly 15 years old, thus
removing the case outside of the ambit of the mandatory maternal custody regime under Article 213 and bringing
30
it within coverage of the default standard on child custody proceedings the best interest of the child. As the
question of custody is already before the trial court and the childs parents, by executing the Agreement, initially
showed inclination to share custody, it is in the interest of swift and efficient rendition of justice to allow the
parties to take advantage of the courts jurisdiction, submit evidence on the custodial arrangement best serving
Stephanies interest, and let the trial court render judgment. This disposition is consistent with the settled
31
doctrine that in child custody proceedings, equity may be invoked to serve the childs best interest.
WHEREFORE, we REVERSE the Orders dated 1 March 2005 and 23 June 2005 of the Regional Trial Court of Makati
City, Branch 60. The case is REMANDED for further proceedings consistent with this ruling.
SO ORDERED.

NAPOLEON D. NERI, ALICIA D. NERI-MONDEJAR, VISMINDA D. NERI-CHAMBERS, ROSA D. NERI-MILLAN,


DOUGLAS D. NERI, EUTROPIA D. ILLUT-COCKINOS AND VICTORIA D. ILLUT-PIALA, Petitioners,
vs.
*
HEIRS OF HADJI YUSOP UY AND JULPHA IBRAHIM UY, Respondents.
DECISION
PERLAS-BERNABE, J.:
1

In this Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, petitioners Napoleon D. Neri
(Napoleon), Alicia D. Neri-Mondejar (Alicia), Visminda D. Neri-Chambers (Visminda), Rosa D. Neri-Millan (Rosa),

Douglas D. Neri (Douglas), Eutropia D. Illut-Cockinos (Eutropia), and Victoria D. Illut-Piala (Victoria) seek to
2
3
reverse and set aside the April 27, 2010 Decision and October 18, 2010 Resolution of the Court of Appeals (CA) in
4
CA-G.R. CV No. 01031-MIN which annulled the October 25, 2004 Decision of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of
Panabo City, Davao del Norte and instead, entered a new one dismissing petitioners complaint for annulment of
sale, damages and attorneys feesagainst herein respondents heirs of spouses Hadji Yusop Uy and Julpha Ibrahim
Uy (heirs of Uy).
The Facts
During her lifetime, Anunciacion Neri (Anunciacion) had seven children, two (2) from her first marriage with
Gonzalo Illut (Gonzalo), namely: Eutropia and Victoria, and five (5) from her second marriage with Enrique Neri
(Enrique), namely: Napoleon, Alicia, Visminda, Douglas and Rosa. Throughout the marriage of spouses Enrique
and Anunciacion, they acquired several homestead properties with a total area of 296,555 square meters located
5
in Samal, Davao del Norte, embraced by Original Certificate of Title (OCT) Nos. (P-7998) P-2128 , (P-14608) P6
7
5153 and P-20551 (P-8348) issued on February 15, 1957, August 27, 1962 and July 7, 1967, respectively.
On September 21, 1977, Anunciacion died intestate. Her husband, Enrique, in his personal capacity and as natural
guardian of his minor children Rosa and Douglas, together with Napoleon, Alicia, and Vismindaexecuted an Extra8
Judicial Settlement of the Estate with Absolute Deed of Sale on July 7, 1979, adjudicating among themselves the
said homestead properties, and thereafter, conveying themto the late spouses Hadji Yusop Uy and Julpha Ibrahim
Uy (spouses Uy)for a consideration of P 80,000.00.
On June 11, 1996, the children of Enrique filed a complaint for annulment of saleof the said homestead properties
against spouses Uy (later substituted by their heirs)before the RTC, docketed as Civil Case No.96-28, assailing the
validity of the sale for having been sold within the prohibited period. Thecomplaint was later amended to include
Eutropia and Victoriaas additional plaintiffs for having been excluded and deprived of their legitimes as childrenof
Anunciacion from her first marriage.
In their amended answer with counterclaim, the heirs of Uy countered that the sale took place beyond the 5-year
prohibitory period from the issuance of the homestead patents. They also denied knowledge of Eutropia and
Victorias exclusionfrom the extrajudicial settlement and sale of the subject properties, and interposed further the
defenses of prescription and laches.
The RTC Ruling
On October 25, 2004, the RTC rendered a decision ordering, among others, the annulment of the Extra-Judicial
Settlement of the Estate with Absolute Deed of Sale. It ruled that while the sale occurred beyond the 5-year
prohibitory period, the sale is still void because Eutropia and Victoria were deprived of their hereditary rights and
that Enrique had no judicial authority to sell the shares of his minor children, Rosa and Douglas.
Consequently, it rejected the defenses of laches and prescription raised by spouses Uy, who claimed possession of
the subject properties for 17 years, holding that co-ownership rights are imprescriptible.
The CA Ruling
On appeal, the CAreversed and set aside the ruling of the RTC in its April 27, 2010 Decision and dismissed the
complaint of the petitioners. It held that, while Eutropia and Victoria had no knowledge of the extrajudicial
settlement and sale of the subject properties and as such, were not bound by it, the CA found it unconscionable to
permit the annulment of the sale considering spouses Uys possession thereof for 17 years, and thatEutropia and
Victoriabelatedlyfiled their actionin 1997, ormore than two years fromknowledge of their exclusion as heirs in

1994 when their stepfather died. It, however, did not preclude the excluded heirs from recovering their legitimes
from their co-heirs.
Similarly, the CA declared the extrajudicial settlement and the subsequent saleas valid and binding with respect to
Enrique and hischildren, holding that as co-owners, they have the right to dispose of their respective shares as
they consider necessary or fit.While recognizing Rosa and Douglas to be minors at that time, they were deemed
to have ratified the sale whenthey failed to question it upon reaching the age of majority.Italso found laches to
have set in because of their inaction for a long period of time.
The Issues
In this petition, petitioners imputeto the CA the following errors:
I. WHEN IT UPHELDTHE VALIDITY OF THE "EXTRA JUDICIAL SETTLEMENT OF THE ESTATE WITH ABSOLUTE
DEED OF SALE" AS FAR AS THE SHARES OF EUTROPIA AND VICTORIA WERE CONCERNED, THEREBY
DEPRIVING THEM OF THEIR INHERITANCE;
II. WHEN IT DID NOT NULLIFY OR ANNUL THE "EXTRA JUDICIAL SETTLEMENT OF THE ESTATE WITH
ABSOLUTE DEED OF SALE" WITH RESPECT TO THE SHARESOF ROSA AND DOUGLAS, THEREBY DEPRIVING
THEM OF THEIR INHERITANCE; and
III. WHEN IT FOUND THAT LACHES OR PRESCRIPTION HAS SET IN.
The Ruling of the Court
The petitionis meritorious.
It bears to stress that all the petitioners herein are indisputably legitimate children of Anunciacion from her first
and second marriages with Gonzalo and Enrique, respectively, and consequently, are entitled to inherit from her
in equal shares, pursuant to Articles 979 and 980 of the Civil Code which read:
ART. 979. Legitimate children and their descendants succeed the parents and other ascendants, without
distinction as to sex or age, and even if they should come from different marriages.
xxx
ART. 980. The children of the deceased shall always inherit from him in their own right, dividing the inheritance in
equal shares.
As such, upon the death of Anunciacion on September 21, 1977, her children and Enrique acquired their respective
9
inheritances, entitling them to their pro indiviso shares in her whole estate, as follows:
Enrique

9/16 (1/2 of the conjugal assets + 1/16)

Eutropia

1/16

Victoria

1/16

Napoleon 1/16
Alicia

1/16

Visminda 1/16
Rosa

1/16

Douglas

1/16

Hence, in the execution of the Extra-Judicial Settlement of the Estate with Absolute Deed of Sale in favor of
spouses Uy, all the heirs of Anunciacionshould have participated. Considering that Eutropia and Victoria were
admittedly excluded and that then minors Rosa and Douglas were not properly represented therein, the
settlement was not valid and binding uponthem and consequently, a total nullity.
Section 1, Rule 74 of the Rules of Court provides:
SECTION 1. Extrajudicial settlement by agreement between heirs. x x x
The fact of the extrajudicial settlement or administration shall be published in a newspaper of general circulation
in the manner provided in the next succeeding section; but no extrajudicial settlement shall be binding upon any
person who has not participated therein or had no notice thereof. (Underscoring added)
10

The effect of excluding the heirs in the settlement of estate was further elucidated in Segura v. Segura, thus:
It is clear that Section 1 of Rule 74 does not apply to the partition in question which was null and void as far as the
plaintiffs were concerned. The rule covers only valid partitions. The partition in the present case was invalid
because it excluded six of the nine heirs who were entitled to equal shares in the partitioned property. Under the
rule "no extrajudicial settlement shall be binding upon any person who has not participated therein or had no
notice thereof." As the partition was a total nullity and did not affect the excluded heirs, it was not correct for the
trial court to hold that their right to challenge the partition had prescribed after two years from its execution
However, while the settlement of the estate is null and void, the subsequent sale of the subject propertiesmade
by Enrique and his children, Napoleon, Alicia and Visminda, in favor of the respondents isvalid but only with
respect to their proportionate shares therein.It cannot be denied that these heirs have acquired their respective
11
shares in the properties of Anunciacion from the moment of her death and that, as owners thereof, they can very
12
well sell their undivided share in the estate.
With respect to Rosa and Douglas who were minors at the time of the execution of the settlement and sale, their
natural guardian and father, Enrique, represented them in the transaction. However, on the basis of the laws
prevailing at that time, Enrique was merely clothed with powers of administration and bereft of any authority to
dispose of their 2/16 shares in the estate of their mother, Anunciacion.
Articles 320 and 326 of the Civil Code, the laws in force at the time of the execution of the settlement and sale,
provide:
ART. 320. The father, or in his absence the mother, is the legal administrator of the property pertaining to the
child under parental authority. If the property is worth more than two thousand pesos, the father or mother shall
give a bond subject to the approval of the Court of First Instance.
ART. 326. When the property of the child is worth more than two thousand pesos, the father or mother shall be
considered a guardian of the childs property, subject to the duties and obligations of guardians under the Rules of
Court.
Corollarily, Section 7, Rule 93 of the Rules of Court also provides:

SEC. 7. Parents as Guardians. When the property of the child under parental authority is worth two thousand
pesos or less, the father or the mother, without the necessity of court appointment, shall be his legal guardian.
When the property of the child is worth more than two thousand pesos, the father or the mother shall be
considered guardian of the childs property, with the duties and obligations of guardians under these Rules, and
shall file the petition required by Section 2 hereof. For good reasons, the court may, however, appoint another
suitable persons.
Administration includes all acts for the preservation of the property and the receipt of fruits according to the
natural purpose of the thing. Any act of disposition or alienation, or any reduction in the substance of the
13
patrimony of child, exceeds the limits of administration. Thus, a father or mother, as the natural guardian of the
minor under parental authority, does not have the power to dispose or encumber the property of the latter. Such
power is granted by law only to a judicial guardian of the wards property and even then only with courts prior
14
approval secured in accordance with the proceedings set forth by the Rules of Court.
Consequently, the disputed sale entered into by Enrique in behalf of his minor children without the proper judicial
15
authority, unless ratified by them upon reaching the age of majority, is unenforceable in accordance with
Articles 1317 and 1403(1) of the Civil Code which provide:
ART. 1317. No one may contract in the name of another without being authorized by the latter or unless he has by
law a right to represent him.
A contract entered into in the name of another by one who has no authority or legal representation, or who has
acted beyond his powers, shall be unenforceable, unless it is ratified, expressly or impliedly, by the person on
whose behalf it has been executed, before it is revoked by the other contracting party.
ART. 1403. The following contracts are unenforceable, unless they are ratified:
(1) Those entered into the name of another person by one who has been given no authority or legal
representation, or who has acted beyond his powers;
xxx
Ratification means that one under no disability voluntarily adopts and gives sanction to some unauthorized act or
defective proceeding, which without his sanction would not be binding on him. It is this voluntary choice,
knowingly made, which amounts to a ratification of what was theretofore unauthorized, and becomes the
16
authorized act of the party so making the ratification. Once ratified, expressly or impliedly such as when the
person knowingly received benefits from it, the contract is cleansed from all its defects from the moment it was
17
constituted, as it has a retroactive effect.
Records, however, show that Rosa had ratified the extrajudicial settlement of the estate with absolute deed of
18
sale. In Napoleon and Rosas Manifestation before the RTC dated July 11, 1997,they stated:
"Concerning the sale of our parcel of land executed by our father, Enrique Neri concurred in and conformed to by
us and our other two sisters and brother (the other plaintiffs), in favor of Hadji Yusop Uy and his spouse Hadja
Julpa Uy on July 7, 1979, we both confirmed that the same was voluntary and freely made by all of us and
therefore the sale was absolutely valid and enforceable as far as we all plaintiffs in this case are concerned;"
(Underscoring supplied)
19

In their June 30, 1997 Joint-Affidavit, Napoleon and Rosa also alleged:

"That we are surprised that our names are included in this case since we do not have any intention to file a case
against Hadji Yusop Uy and Julpha Ibrahim Uy and their family and we respect and acknowledge the validity of
the Extra-Judicial Settlement of the Estate with Absolute Deed of Sale dated July 7, 1979;" (Underscoring
supplied)
Clearly, the foregoing statements constitutedratification of the settlement of the estate and the subsequent sale,
thus, purging all the defects existing at the time of its execution and legitimizing the conveyance of Rosas 1/16
share in the estate of Anunciacion to spouses Uy. The same, however, is not true with respect to Douglas for lack
of evidence showing ratification.
Considering, thus, that the extrajudicial settlement with sale is invalid and therefore, not binding on Eutropia,
Victoria and Douglas, only the shares ofEnrique, Napoleon, Alicia, Visminda and Rosa in the homestead
properties have effectivelybeen disposed in favor of spouses Uy. "A person can only sell what he owns, or is
authorized to sell and the buyer can as a consequence acquire no more than what the sellercan legally
20
transfer." On this score, Article 493 of the Civil Codeis relevant, which provides:
Each co-owner shall have the full ownership of his part and of the fruits and benefits pertaining thereto, and he
may therefore alienate, assign or mortgage it, and even substitute another person in its enjoyment, except when
personal rights are involved. But the effect of the alienation or the mortgage, with respect to the co-owners, shall
be limited to the portion which may be allotted to him in the division upon the termination of the co-ownership.
Consequently, spouses Uy or their substituted heirs became pro indiviso co-owners of the homestead properties
with Eutropia, Victoria and Douglas, who retained title to their respective 1/16 shares. They were deemed to be
holding the 3/16 shares of Eutropia, Victoria and Douglas under an implied constructive trust for the latters
benefit, conformably with Article 1456 of the Civil Code which states:"if property is acquired through mistake or
fraud, the person obtaining it is, by force of law, considered a trustee of an implied trust for the benefit of the
person from whom the property comes." As such, it is only fair, just and equitable that the amount paid for their
21
shares equivalent to P 5,000.00 each or a total of P 15,000.00 be returned to spouses Uy with legal interest.
On the issue of prescription, the Court agrees with petitioners that the present action has not prescribed in so far
as it seeks to annul the extrajudicial settlement of the estate. Contrary to the ruling of the CA, the prescriptive
period of 2 years provided in Section 1 Rule 74 of the Rules of
Court reckoned from the execution of the extrajudicial settlement finds no application to petitioners Eutropia,
Victoria and Douglas, who were deprived of their lawful participation in the subject estate. Besides, an "action or
defense for the declaration of the inexistence of a contract does not prescribe" in accordance with Article 1410 of
the Civil Code.
However, the action to recover property held in trust prescribes after 10 years from the time the cause of action
22
23
accrues, which is from the time of actual notice in case of unregistered deed. In this case, Eutropia, Victoria and
Douglas claimed to have knowledge of the extrajudicial settlement with sale after the death of their father,
Enrique, in 1994 which spouses Uy failed to refute. Hence, the complaint filed in 1997 was well within the
prescriptive period of 10 years.
WHEREFORE, the instant petition is GRANTED. The April 27, 2010 Decision and October 18, 2010 Resolution of
the Court of Appeals are REVERSED and SET ASIDE and a new judgment is entered:
1. Declaring the Extra-Judicial Settlement of the Estate of Anunciacion Neri NULL and VOID;

2. Declaring the Absolute Deed of Sale in favor of the late spouses Hadji Yusop Uy and Julpha Ibrahim Uy
as regards the 13/16 total shares of the late Enrique Neri, Napoleon Neri, Alicia D. Neri-Mondejar,
Visminda D. Neri-Chambers and Rosa D. Neri-Millan VALID;
3. Declaring Eutropia D. Illut-Cockinos, Victoria D. Illut-Piala and Douglas D. Neri as the LAWFUL
OWNERSof the 3/16 portions of the subject homestead properties, covered by Original Certificate of
Title Nos. (P-7998) P-2128, (P-14608) P-5153 and P-20551 (P-8348); and
4. Ordering the estate of the late Enrique Neri, as well as Napoleon Neri, Alicia D. Neri-Mondejar,
Visminda D. Neri-Chambers and Rosa D. Neri-Millan to return to the respondents jointly and solidarily
the amount paid corresponding to the 3/16 shares of Eutropia, Victoria and Douglas in the total amount
of P 15,000.00, with legal interest at 6% per annum computed from the time of payment until finality of
this decision and 12% per annum thereafter until fully paid.
No pronouncement as to costs.
SO ORDERED.

SCHOOL OF THE HOLY SPIRIT OF QUEZON CITY and/or SR. CRISPINA A. TOLENTINO, S.Sp.S., Petitioners,
vs.
CORAZON P. TAGUIAM, Respondent.
DECISION
QUISUMBING, J.:
1

This petition assails the Decision dated June 7, 2004 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 81480, which
2
reversed the Resolution dated September 20, 2002 of the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) in NLRC
3
NCR CA No. 031627-02. The NLRC had affirmed the Decision dated March 26, 2002 of the Labor Arbiter
4
dismissing respondents complaint for illegal dismissal. This petition likewise assails the Resolution dated
September 30, 2004 of the Court of Appeals denying petitioners motion for reconsideration.
The antecedent facts are as follows:
Respondent Corazon P. Taguiam was the Class Adviser of Grade 5-Esmeralda of the petitioner, School of the Holy
5
Spirit of Quezon City. On March 10, 2000, the class president, wrote a letter to the grade school principal
requesting permission to hold a year-end celebration at the school grounds. The principal authorized the activity
and allowed the pupils to use the swimming pool. In this connection, respondent distributed the
parents/guardians permit forms to the pupils.
6

Respondent admitted that Chiara Mae Federicos permit form was unsigned. Nevertheless, she concluded that
Chiara Mae was allowed by her mother to join the activity since her mother personally brought her to the school
with her packed lunch and swimsuit.
Before the activity started, respondent warned the pupils who did not know how to swim to avoid the deeper
area. However, while the pupils were swimming, two of them sneaked out. Respondent went after them to verify
where they were going.

Unfortunately, while respondent was away, Chiara Mae drowned. When respondent returned, the maintenance
man was already administering cardiopulmonary resuscitation on Chiara Mae. She was still alive when respondent
rushed her to the General Malvar Hospital where she was pronounced dead on arrival.
7

On May 23, 2000, petitioners issued a Notice of Administrative Charge to respondent for alleged gross
negligence and required her to submit her written explanation. Thereafter, petitioners conducted a clarificatory
8
hearing which respondent attended. Respondent also submitted her Affidavit of Explanation.
On July 31, 2000, petitioners dismissed respondent on the ground of gross negligence resulting to loss of trust and
9
confidence. Meanwhile, Chiara Maes parents filed a P7 Million damage suit against petitioners and respondent,
among others. They also filed against respondent a criminal complaint for reckless imprudence resulting in
homicide.
10

On July 25, 2001, respondent in turn filed a complaint against the school and/or Sr. Crispina Tolentino for illegal
dismissal, with a prayer for reinstatement with full backwages and other money claims, damages and attorneys
fees.
In dismissing the complaint, the Labor Arbiter declared that respondent was validly terminated for gross neglect
of duty. He opined that Chiara Mae drowned because respondent had left the pupils without any adult
supervision. He also noted that the absence of adequate facilities should have alerted respondent before allowing
the pupils to use the swimming pool. The Labor Arbiter further concluded that although respondents negligence
was not habitual, the same warranted her dismissal since death resulted therefrom.
Respondent appealed to the NLRC which, however, affirmed the dismissal of the complaint.
Aggrieved, respondent instituted a petition for certiorari before the Court of Appeals, which ruled in her favor.
The appellate court observed that there was insufficient proof that respondents negligence was both gross and
habitual. The Court of Appeals disposed, thus:
WHEREFORE, the Court hereby GRANTS the petition. The assailed September 20, 2002 Resolution of the
National Labor Relations Commission entitled Corazon Taguiam vs. School of the Holy Spirit and/or Sister
Crispina Tolentino[,] NLRC NCR Case No. 00-07-03877-01[,] NLRC NCR CA No. 031627-02 is
hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE, and a new one is hereby ENTERED directing the private respondent the
School of the Holy Spirit to:
(1) Pay the petitioner full backwages, plus all other benefits, bonuses and general increases to which she
would have been normally entitled, had she not been dismissed and had she not been forced to stop
working computed up to the finality of this decision;
(2) Pay the petitioner separation pay equivalent to one (1) month for every year of service in addition to
full backwages;
(3) Pay the petitioner an amount equivalent to 10% of the judgment award as attorneys fees;
(4) Pay the cost of this suit.
SO ORDERED.

11

In this petition, petitioners contend that the Court of Appeals erred in:

REVERSING AND SETTING ASIDE THE DECISION AND RESOLUTION OF THE NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS
COMMISSION AFFIRMING THE DECISION OF THE LABOR ARBITER DISMISSING THE COMPLAINT FOR LACK
12
OF MERIT.
Simply stated, the sole issue presented for our resolution is whether respondents dismissal on the ground of
gross negligence resulting to loss of trust and confidence was valid.
The issue of whether a party is negligent is a question of fact. As a rule, the Supreme Court is not a trier of facts
13
and this applies with greater force in labor cases. However, where the issue is shrouded by a conflict of factual
perception, we are constrained to review the factual findings of the Court of Appeals. In this case, the findings of
14
facts of the appellate court contradict those of the Labor Arbiter and the NLRC.
15

Under Article 282 of the Labor Code, gross and habitual neglect of duties is a valid ground for an employer to
terminate an employee. Gross negligence implies a want or absence of or a failure to exercise slight care or
diligence, or the entire absence of care. It evinces a thoughtless disregard of consequences without exerting any
16
effort to avoid them. Habitual neglect implies repeated failure to perform ones duties for a period of time,
17
depending upon the circumstances.
Our perusal of the records leads us to conclude that respondent had been grossly negligent. First, it is undisputed
that Chiara Maes permit form was unsigned. Yet, respondent allowed her to join the activity because she
assumed that Chiara Maes mother has allowed her to join it by personally bringing her to the school with her
packed lunch and swimsuit.
The purpose of a permit form is precisely to ensure that the parents have allowed their child to join the school
activity involved. Respondent cannot simply ignore this by resorting to assumptions. Respondent admitted that
she was around when Chiara Mae and her mother arrived. She could have requested the mother to sign the
permit form before she left the school or at least called her up to obtain her conformity.
Second, it was respondents responsibility as Class Adviser to supervise her class in all activities sanctioned by the
18
school. Thus, she should have coordinated with the school to ensure that proper safeguards, such as adequate
first aid and sufficient adult personnel, were present during their activity. She should have been mindful of the
fact that with the number of pupils involved, it would be impossible for her by herself alone to keep an eye on
each one of them.
As it turned out, since respondent was the only adult present, majority of the pupils were left unsupervised when
she followed the two pupils who sneaked out. In the light of the odds involved, respondent should have
considered that those who sneaked out could not have left the school premises since there were guards manning
the gates. The guards would not have allowed them to go out in their swimsuits and without any adult
accompanying them. But those who stayed at the pool were put at greater risk, when she left them unattended
by an adult.1avvphi1
Notably, respondents negligence, although gross, was not habitual. In view of the considerable resultant
damage, however, we are in agreement that the cause is sufficient to dismiss respondent. This is not the first time
that we have departed from the requirements laid down by the law that neglect of duties must be both gross and
19
habitual. In Philippine Airlines, Inc. v. NLRC, we ruled that Philippine Airlines (PAL) cannot be legally compelled
to continue with the employment of a person admittedly guilty of gross negligence in the performance of his
duties although it was his first offense. In that case, we noted that a mere delay on PALs flight schedule due to
aircraft damage entails problems like hotel accommodations for its passengers, re-booking, the possibility of law
20
suits, and payment of special landing fees not to mention the soaring costs of replacing aircraft parts. In another
21
case, Fuentes v. National Labor Relations Commission, we held that it would be unfair to compel Philippine
Banking Corporation to continue employing its bank teller. In that case, we observed that although the tellers

infraction was not habitual, a substantial amount of money was lost. The deposit slip had already been validated
prior to its loss and the amount reflected thereon is already considered as current liabilities in the banks balance
22
sheet. Indeed, the sufficiency of the evidence as well as the resultant damage to the employer should be
considered in the dismissal of the employee. In this case, the damage went as far as claiming the life of a child.
As a result of gross negligence in the present case, petitioners lost its trust and confidence in respondent. Loss of
trust and confidence to be a valid ground for dismissal must be based on a willful breach of trust and founded on
clearly established facts. A breach is willful if it is done intentionally, knowingly and purposely, without justifiable
23
excuse, as distinguished from an act done carelessly, thoughtlessly, heedlessly or inadvertently. Otherwise
stated, it must rest on substantial grounds and not on the employers arbitrariness, whims, caprices or suspicion;
otherwise, the employee would eternally remain at the mercy of the employer. It should be genuine and not
simulated; nor should it appear as a mere afterthought to justify earlier action taken in bad faith or a subterfuge
for causes which are improper, illegal or unjustified. It has never been intended to afford an occasion for abuse
because of its subjective nature. There must, therefore, be an actual breach of duty committed by the employee
24
which must be established by substantial evidence.
As a teacher who stands in loco parentis to her pupils, respondent should have made sure that the children were
25
protected from all harm while in her company. Respondent should have known that leaving the pupils in the
swimming pool area all by themselves may result in an accident. A simple reminder "not to go to the deepest part
26
of the pool" was insufficient to cast away all the serious dangers that the situation presented to the children,
27
especially when respondent knew that Chiara Mae cannot swim. Dismally, respondent created an unsafe
situation which exposed the lives of all the pupils concerned to real danger. This is a clear violation not only of the
trust and confidence reposed on her by the parents of the pupils but of the school itself.
Finally, we note that based on the criminal complaint filed by Chiara Maes parents, the Assistant City Prosecutor
found probable cause to indict respondent for the crime of reckless imprudence resulting in homicide. The
Assistant City Prosecutor held that respondent "should have foreseen the danger lurking in the waters." By
leaving her pupils in the swimming pool, respondent displayed an "inexcusable lack of foresight and
28
precaution." While this finding is not controlling for purposes of the instant case, this only supports our
conclusion that respondent has indeed been grossly negligent.
All told, there being a clear showing that respondent was culpable for gross negligence resulting to loss of trust
and confidence, her dismissal was valid and legal. It was error for the Court of Appeals to reverse and set aside the
resolution of the NLRC.
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The assailed Decision dated June 7, 2004 of the Court of Appeals in CAG.R. SP No. 81480 is SET ASIDE. The Resolution dated September 20, 2002 of the National Labor Relations
Commission in NLRC NCR CA No. 031627-02 is REINSTATED. No pronouncement as to costs.
SO ORDERED.