G.R. No. 116773, 16 January 1997
When Reynaldo Eslao died,Maria Paz’s husband, she entrusted care and custody of her youngest child Angelica to her grieving mother-in-law stating that she needed the company of the child to at least compensate for the loss of her late son. She then returned to her mother’s house with her another daughter, Leslie. Years later, Maria Paz got married to a Japanese-American and lives with him in the US. She then returned to the Philippines to be reunited with her children and bring them to the US. She then informed Teresita about her desire to take custody of Angelica her new husband’s willingness to adopt her children. Teresita refused, and accused Maria of having abandoned Angelica when she was 10 days old. Teresita added 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.
Maria instituted an action against Teresita over the return of the custody of Angelica to her. After the trial on the merits, the trial court granted the petition. CA affirmed in the full decision of the trial court.
Whether or not Teresita Sagala-Eslao should be given the custody of the child.
No, Sagala-Eslao cannot be given the custody of the child. Article 210 of the Family Code states that “Parental authority and responsibility may not be renounced or transferred except in the cases authorized by law.”
In Santos, Sr. v Court of Appeals, 242 SCRA 407we stated, viz:
[Parental authority] is a mass of rights and obligations which the law grants to parents for the purpose of the childrens physical preservation and 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 sacred trust for the welfare of the minor.
Parental authority and responsibility are inalienable and may not be transferred or renounced except in cases authorized by law [Article 210]. 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 childrens home or an orphan institution.[Art.222-224] 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 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 company [Article 209 and 211].
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.
* Case digest by Daisy Mae O. Tambolero, LLB-1, Andres Bonifacio Law School, SY 2017-2018