[G.R. No. 112193.
JOSE E. ARUEGO, JR., SIMEONA
D E C I S I O N
HERMOSISIMA, JR., J.:
In essence, the complaint avers that the late Jose M. Aruego,
Sr., a married man, had an amorous relationship with Luz M. Fabian sometime in
1959 until his death on
The main basis of the action for compulsory recognition is their alleged “open and continuous possession of the status of illegitimate children” as stated in paragraphs 6 and 7 of the Complaint, to wit:
“6. The plaintiffs’ father, Jose M. Aruego, acknowledged and recognized the herein plaintiffs as his children verbally among plaintiffs’ and their mother’s family friends, as well as by myriad different paternal ways, including but not limited to the following:
(a) Regular support and educational expenses;
(b) Allowance to use his surname;
(c) Payment of maternal bills;
(d) Payment of baptismal expenses and attendance therein;
(e) Taking them to restaurants and department stores on occasions of family rejoicing;
(f) Attendance to school problems of plaintiffs;
(g) Calling and allowing plaintiffs to his office every now and then;
(h) Introducing them as such children to family friends.
7. The plaintiffs are thus, in continuous possession of the status of (illegitimate) children of the deceased Jose M. Aruego who showered them, with the continuous and clear manifestations of paternal care and affection as above outlined.”
Petitioners denied all these allegations.
After trial, the lower court rendered judgment, dated
“WHEREFORE, judgment is rendered -
1. Declaring Antonia Aruego as illegitimate daughter of Jose Aruego and Luz Fabian;
2. Evelyn Fabian is not an illegitimate daughter of Jose Aruego with Luz Fabian;
3. Declaring that the estate of deceased Jose Aruego are the following:
x x x x x x x x x
4. Antonia Aruego is entitled to a share equal to ½ portion of share of the legitimate children of Jose Aruego;
5. Defendants are hereby ordered to recognize Antonia Aruego as the illegitimate daughter of Jose Aruego with Luz Fabian;
6. Defendants are hereby ordered to deliver to Antonia Aruego (her) share in the estate of Jose Aruego, Sr.;
7. Defendants to play (sic) plaintiff’s (Antonia Aruego) counsel the sum of P10,000.00 as atty.’s fee;
8. Cost against the defendants.”
Herein petitioners filed a Motion for Partial Reconsideration of
the decision alleging loss of jurisdiction on the part of the trial court over
the complaint by virtue of the passage of Executive Order No. 209 (as amended
by Executive Order No. 227), otherwise known as the Family Code of the
Philippines which took effect on August 3, 1988. This motion was denied by the
lower court in the Order, dated
Petitioners interposed an appeal but the lower court refused to give it due course on the ground that it was filed out of time.
A Petition for Prohibition and Certiorari with prayer for a Writ
of Preliminary Injunction was filed by herein petitioners before respondent
Court of Appeals, the petition was dismissed for lack of merit in a decision promulgated
on August 31, 1993. A Motion for Reconsideration when filed was denied by the
respondent court in a minute resolution, dated
Hence, this Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 alleging the following grounds:
RESPONDENT COURT HAD DECIDED A QUESTION OF
RESPONDENT COURT ERRED IN HOLDING THAT THE PETITION FILED BY PETITIONERS BEFORE IT DOES NOT INVOLVE A QUESTION OF JURISDICTION.
RESPONDENT COURT HAD CLEARLY ERRED IN RULING THAT THERE IS NO PERCEPTIBLE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE CIVIL CODE PROVISION AND THOSE OF THE FAMILY CODE ANENT THE TIME AN ACTION FOR COMPULSORY RECOGNITION MAY BE MADE AND THAT THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE UNDER THE CIVIL CODE FROM THAT OF THE FAMILY CODE CONCERNING THE REQUIREMENT THAT AN ACTION FOR COMPULSORY RECOGNITION ON THE GROUND OF CONTINUOUS POSSESSION OF THE STATUS OF AN ILLEGITIMATE CHILD SHOULD BE FILED DURING THE LIFETIME OF THE PUTATIVE PARENT, IN UTTER DISREGARD OF THE RULING OF THIS HONORABLE COURT IN THE UYGUANGCO CASE THAT THE CIVIL CODE PROVISION HAD BEEN SUPERSEDED, OR AT LEAST MODIFIED BY THE CORRESPONDING ARTICLES IN THE FAMILY CODE.
RESPONDENT COURT ERRED IN DISMISSING PETITIONERS’ PETITION FOR PROHIBITION AND IN HOLDING THAT PETITIONERS REMEDY IS THAT OF AN APPEAL WHICH ALLEGEDLY HAD ALREADY BEEN LOST.
Private respondent’s action for compulsory recognition as an illegitimate child was brought under Book I, Title VIII of the Civil Code on PERSONS, specifically Article 285 thereof, which states the manner by which illegitimate children may prove their filiation, to wit:
“Art. 285. The action for the recognition of natural children may be brought only during the lifetime of the presumed parents, except in the following cases:
(1) If the father or mother died during the minority of the child, in which case the latter may file the action before the expiration of four years from the attainment of his majority; x x x.”
Petitioners, on the other hand, submit that with the advent of the New Family Code on August 3, 1988, the trial court lost jurisdiction over the complaint of private respondent on the ground of prescription, considering that under Article 175, paragraph 2, in relation to Article 172 of the New Family Code, it is provided that an action for compulsory recognition of illegitimate filiation, if based on the “open and continuous possession of the status of an illegitimate child,” must be brought during the lifetime of the alleged parent without any exception, otherwise the action will be barred by prescription. The law cited reads:
“Article 172. The filiation of legitimate children is established by any of the following:
(1) The record of birth appearing in the civil register or a final judgment; or
(2) An admission of legitimate filiation in a public document or a private handwritten instrument and signed by the parent concerned.
In the absence of the foregoing evidence, the legitimate filiation shall be proved by:
(1) The open and continuous possession of the status of a legitimate child; or
(2) Any other means allowed by the Rules of Court and special laws.”
“Article 175. Illegitimate children may establish their illegitimate filiation in the same way and on the same evidence as legitimate children.
The action must be brought within the same period specified in Article 173 [during the lifetime of the child], except when the action is based on the second paragraph of Article 172, in which case the action may be brought during the lifetime of the alleged parent.”
In the case at bench, petitioners point
out that, since the complaint of private respondent and her alleged sister was
“This Code shall have retroactive effect insofar as it does not prejudice or impair vested or acquired rights in accordance with the Civil Code or other laws.”
The basic question that must be resolved in this case, therefore, appears to be: Should the provisions of the Family Code be applied in the instant case? As a corollary Will the application of the Family Code in this case prejudice or impair any vested right of the private respondent such that it should not be given retroactive effect in this particular case?
The phrase “vested or acquired rights” under Article 256, is not defined by the Family Code. “The Committee did not define what is meant by a ‘vested or acquired right,’ thus leaving it to the courts to determine what it means as each particular issue is submitted to them. It is difficult to provide the answer for each and every question that may arise in the future.”
In Tayag vs. Court of Appeals, a case which involves a similar complaint denominated as “Claim for Inheritance” but treated by this court as one to compel recognition as an illegitimate child brought prior to the effectivity of the Family Code by the mother of the minor child, and based also on the “open and continuous possession of the status of an illegitimate child,” we had occasion to rule that:
“Under the circumstances obtaining in the case at bar, we hold that
the right of action of the minor child has been vested by the filing of the
complaint in court under the regime of the Civil Code and prior to the
effectivity of the Family Code. We herein adopt our ruling in the recent case
of Republic of the
xxx xxx xxx
Accordingly, Article 175 of the Family Code finds no proper application to the instant case since it will ineluctably affect adversely a right of private respondent and, consequentially, of the minor child she represents, both of which have been vested with the filing of the complaint in court. The trial court is, therefore, correct in applying the provisions of Article 285 of the Civil Code and in holding that private respondent’s cause of action has not yet prescribed.”
Tayag applies four-square with the case at bench. The
action brought by private respondent Antonia Aruego for compulsory recognition
and enforcement of successional rights which was filed prior to the advent of
the Family Code, must be governed by Article 285 of the Civil Code and not by
Article 175, paragraph 2 of the Family Code. The present law cannot be given
retroactive effect insofar as the instant case is concerned, as its application
will prejudice the vested right of private respondent to have her case decided
under Article 285 of the Civil Code. The right was vested to her by the fact
that she filed her action under the regime of the Civil Code. Prescinding from
this, the conclusion then ought to be that the action was not yet barred,
notwithstanding the fact that it was brought when the putative father was
already deceased, since private respondent was then still a minor when it was
filed, an exception to the general rule provided under Article 285 of the Civil
Code. Hence, the trial court, which acquired jurisdiction over the case by the
filing of the complaint, never lost jurisdiction over the same despite the
passage of E.O. No. 209, also known as the Family Code of the
Our ruling herein reinforces the principle that the jurisdiction of a court, whether in criminal or civil cases, once attached cannot be ousted by subsequent happenings or events, although of a character which would have prevented jurisdiction from attaching in the first instance, and it retains jurisdiction until it finally disposes of the case.
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED and the decision of the
Court of Appeals dated
Padilla, Bellosillo, and Kapunan, JJ., concur.
Vitug, J., also believes that the Court of Appeals did not err in holding that the petition before it did not involve a question of jurisdiction and cannot thus be a substitute for a lost appeal.
 Docketed as Civil Case No. 83-16093.
 Rollo, p. 45.
 Rollo, pp. 10-11.
 Rollo, p. 55.
 Sempio-Diy, Alicia V., Handbook on the Family Code of the Philippines, 1988 ed., p. 325.
 209 SCRA 665 .
 205 SCRA 356 .
 Regalado, Florenz D., Remedial Law Compendium, Volume One, Fifth Revised Edition, p.9, citing Ramos, et al. v. Central Bank, L-29352, October 4, 1971; Dioquino v. Cruz, et al., L-38579, September 9, 1982; Republic v. Pielago, et al., G.R. No. 72218, July 21, 1986.