Friday, March 30, 2012

Babiera vs. Catotal

Facts: Presentacion B. Catotal filed with the Regional Trial Court of Lanao del Norte, Branch II, Iligan City, a petition for the cancellation of the entry of birth of Teofista Babiera in the Civil Registry of Iligan City. Presentacion asserted that she is the only surviving child of the late spouses Eugenio Babiera and Hermogena Cariñosa, who died on May 26, 1996 and July 6, 1990 respectively.

Presentacion alleged that a baby girl was delivered by a ‘hilot’ on September 20, 1996 on , in the house of the spouses, by their housemaid Flora Guinto,who without the knowledge of the parents of the petitioner, caused the registration/recording of the facts of birth of her child, by simulating that she was the child of the spouses Eugenio, then 65 years old and Hermogena, then 54 years old, and made Hermogena Babiera appear as the mother by forging her signature. Presentacion, who was then fifteen, said that she witnessed the livebirth.

The Regional Trial Court found the petition to be sufficient in form and substance, Teofista Guinto filed a motion to dismiss on the grounds that 'the petition states no cause of action, it being an attack on the legitimacy of the respondent as the child of the spouses Eugenio Babiera and Hermogena Cariñosa Babiera; that plaintiff has no legal capacity to file the instant petition pursuant to Article 171 of the Family Code; and finally that the instant petition is barred by prescription in accordance with Article 170 of the Family Code.' The trial court denied the motion to dismiss. The CA upheld the ruling of the RTC and held that Teofista is not the biological child of Hermogena Babiera. Hence this appeal.

Issues:

(1) Whether or not the plaintiff has no legal capacity to file instant petition pursuant to article 171 of the Family code

(2) Whether or not it is barred by prescription in accordance with Article 170?

Held:

(1) The court held that respondent has the requisite standing to initiate the present action. Section 2, Rule 3 of the Rules of Court, provides that a real party in interest is one "who stands to be benefited or injured by the judgment in the suit, or the party entitled to the avails of the suit. Article 171 of the Family Code is not applicable to the present case. A close reading of this provision shows that it applies to instances in which the father impugns the legitimacy of his wife’s child. The provision, however, presupposes that the child was the undisputed offspring of the mother. The present case alleges and shows that Hermogena did not give birth to petitioner. In other words, the prayer herein is not to declare that petitioner is an illegitimate child of Hermogena, but to establish that the former is not the latter's child at all. Verily, the present action does not impugn petitioner’s filiation to Spouses Eugenio and Hermogena Babiera, because there is no blood relation to impugn in the first place.

(2) . The present action involves the cancellation of petitioner’s Birth Certificate; it does not impugn her legitimacy. Thus, the prescriptive period set forth in Article 170 of the Family Code does not apply. Verily, the action to nullify the Birth Certificate does not prescribe, because it was allegedly void ab initio

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