GR. No. 85044, 3 June 1992
In October 1982, AdelbertoBundoc, minor, 10 years of age, shot Jennifer Tamargo with an air rifle causing injuries that resulted in her death. The petitioners, natural parents of Tamargo, filed a complaint for damages against the natural parents of Adelberto with whom he was living the time of the tragic incident.In December 1981, the spouses Rapisura filed a petition to adopt AdelbertoBundoc. Such petition was granted on November 1982 after the tragic incident.
WON parental authority concerned may be given retroactive effect so as to make adopting parents the indispensable parties in a damage case filed against the adopted child where actual custody was lodged with the biological parents.
No.Article 58 Torts of the Child and Youth Welfare Code provides that “Parents and guardians are responsible for the damage caused by the child under their parental authority in accordance with the Civil Code.” Accordingly, Article 221 of the Family Code (replacing the provisions of the New Civil Code) provides that: “Parents and other persons exercising parental authority shall be civilly liable for the injuries and damages caused by the acts or omissions of their unemancipated children living in their company and under their parental authority subject to the appropriate defenses provided by law”. The court also reiterates that the benefit of the child is of paramount consideration. Retroactivity may be essential if it permits accrual of some benefit or advantage in favor of the adopted child.
Parental liability is a natural or logical consequence of duties and responsibilities of parents, their parental authority which includes instructing, controlling and disciplining the child. In the case at bar, during the shooting incident, parental authority over Adelberto was still lodged with the natural parents. It follows that they are the indispensable parties to the suit for damages.
SC did not consider that retroactive effect may be given to the decree of adoption so as to impose a liability upon the adopting parents accruing at the time when they had no actual or physical custody over the adopted child. Under Article 35 of the Child and Youth Welfare Code, parental authority is provisionally vested in the adopting parents during the period of trial custody however in this case, trial custody period had not yet begin nor had been completed at the time of the shooting incident. Hence, actual custody was then with the natural parents of Adelberto.
* Case digest by Ariel M. Acopiado, LLB-1, Andres Bonifacio Law School, SY 2017-2018