G.R. No. 138961, 7 March 2002
William Liyao Jr., the illegitimate son of the deceased, as represented by her mother (Corazon), filed a petition ordering Juanita Tanhoti-Liyao, Pearl L. Tan, Tita L. Tan and Linda Liyao to recognize and acknowledge the former as a compulsory heir of the deceased and to be entitled to all successional rights. Liyao Jr. was in continuous possession and enjoyment of the status as the child of the deceased having been recognized and acknowledged as such child by the decedent during his lifetime. There were two sides of the story. Corazon G. Garcia is legally married to but living separately from Ramon M. Yulo for more than ten (10) years at the time of the institution of the said civil case. Corazon cohabited with the late William Liyao from 1965 up to the time of William’s untimely demise on December 2, 1975. They lived together in the company of Corazon’s two (2) children from her subsisting marriage. On the other hand, one of the children of the deceased stated that her mom and the deceased were legally married and that her parents were not separated legally or in fact.
WON the petitioner can impugn his own legitimacy to be able to claim from the estate of the deceased.
Under the New Civil Code, a child born and conceived during a valid marriage is presumed to be legitimate. The presumption of legitimacy of children does not only flow out from a declaration contained in the statute but is based on the broad principles of natural justice and the supposed virtue of the mother. The presumption is grounded in a policy to protect innocent offspring from the odium of illegitimacy.The presumption of legitimacy of the child, however, is not conclusive and consequently, may be overthrown by evidence to the contrary. Hence, Article 255 of the New Civil Code provides:
Article 255. Children born after one hundred and eighty days following the celebration of the marriage, and before three hundred days following its dissolution or the separation of the spouses shall be presumed to be legitimate.
Against this presumption no evidence shall be admitted other than that of the physical impossibility of the husband having access to his wife within the first one hundred and twenty days of the three hundred which preceded the birth of the child.
This physical impossibility may be caused:
1)By the impotence of the husband;
2) By the fact that husband and wife were living separately in such a way that access was not possible;
3) By the serious illness of the husband.
The fact that Corazon Garcia had been living separately from her husband, Ramon Yulo, at the time petitioner was conceived and born is of no moment. While physical impossibility for the husband to have sexual intercourse with his wife is one of the grounds for impugning the legitimacy of the child, it bears emphasis that the grounds for impugning the legitimacy of the child mentioned in Article 255 of the Civil Code may only be invoked by the husband, or in proper cases, his heirs under the conditions set forth under Article 262 of the Civil Code. Impugning the legitimacy of the child is a strictly personal right of the husband, or in exceptional cases, his heirs for the simple reason that he is the one directly confronted with the scandal and ridicule which the infidelity of his wife produces and he should be the one to decide whether to conceal that infidelity or expose it in view of the moral and economic interest involved. It is only in exceptional cases that his heirs are allowed to contest such legitimacy. Outside of these cases, none – even his heirs – can impugn legitimacy; that would amount of an insult to his memory.
Furthermore, the court held that there was no clear, competent and positive evidence presented by the petitioner that his alleged father had admitted or recognized his paternity.
* Case digest by Aisha Mie Faith M. Fernandez, LLB-1, Andres Bonifacio Law School, SY 2017-2018