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PHILIPPINE SUPREME COURT DECISIONS

EN BANC

[G.R. No. L-12894. January 28, 1961. ]

LILIA JUANA BARLES, MARIA ESTRELLA BARLES and REMEDIOS BARLES, Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. DON ALFONSO PONCE ENRILE, Defendant-Appellee.

Villaruel, Manansala & Manansala, for Plaintiffs-Appellants.

Juan Ponce Enrile, for Defendant-Appellee.


R E S O L U T I O N


GUTIERREZ DAVID, J.:


This is a motion filed by defendant-appellee for reconsideration of this Court’s decision promulgated September 30, 1960, reversing the judgment of the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court which dismissed plaintiffs’ complaint for declaration or investigation of paternity on the ground of prescription.

We declared in the decision sought to be reconsidered that plaintiffs’ action, authorized under Article 289 of the new Civil Code which permits the investigation of the paternity of illegitimate (spurious) children under the circumstances therein mentioned, is similar to the action for the recognition of natural children under Article 285 of the same Code, which provides that such action may be brought during the lifetime of the presumed parents unless the case falls within the exceptions therein specified allowing the filing of the action even after the death of the alleged parent. Owing to this similarity, we ruled that the same time limitation should apply to both actions, in the absence of express legal provision to the contrary. Movant now contends that the action to investigate spurious paternity must be brought within five years from the time the right of action accrues as provided in Article 1149 of the new Civil Code and not during the periods mentioned in Article 285 thereof. It is argued that said Article 285 is merely a "prerequisite or a condition precedent to the existence of a valid cause of action", which applies exclusively to natural children. We find the contention and the argument untenable. That Article 285 of the new Civil Code limits the action for recognition of natural children cannot seriously be doubted. It clearly and explicitly provides so, and what is more, this Court has, in no uncertain terms, already ruled that, under said Article 285, the action of the natural child prescribes if not taken during the lifetime of the parent, unless the case falls within the exceptions which allow the filing of such action even after the death of the alleged parents. (Gabrinao Et. Al. v. Latorre, G.R. No. L-5825, February 26, 1953; Narag v. Cecilio, G.R. No. L-13353, August 31, 1960).

Movant also argues that if the provisions contained in Article 285 were really intended as a period of prescription, it should have been included in Chapter 3, Book 3, Title V of the Code. The argument loses sight of the fact that public policy is involved in actions for acknowledgment of natural children. Thus the Supreme Court of Spain, in its decision of May 24, 1956, declared:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"Considerando que igual criterio informa la sentencia de este Tribunal Supremo de 6 de mayo de 1926 al reconocer que las acciones que establece dicho articulo 137 para el reconocimiento de hijos naturales solo podran promoverse en vide de los padres, salvo los casos en que si al ocurrir el fallecimiento de estos fueran menores, quedaran facultados para deducirlas antes de que transcurrieran los cuatro años de haber llegado a la mayor edad, o cuando se basa en la aparicion de un documento de reconocimiento expreso de paternidad dentro del termino de los seis meses siguientes al de su hallazgo, y que las restriciones impuestas en dicho texto legal condicionando su viabilidad y ejercicio a la inexcusable concurrencia de las expresadas circunstancias, son de caracter publico y ajenas en absoluto a la regla general y comun de la prescripcion extintiva sometida a la voluntad de las partes, que en distinto Libro y Titulo regula el articulo 1.964, con el que guardan ninguna conexion."cralaw virtua1aw library

It is apparently for this reason that a special period of prescription has been provided therefor. At any rate, Article 1148 in the same chapter, book and title of the Civil Code expressly provides that the limitations of actions mentioned in articles under said title are without prejudice to those specified in other parts of the Code.

Neither may it validly be maintained that the time limitation established by Article 285 for actions by natural children to compel their acknowledgment or recognition cannot apply to spurious children. We have considered this question in the decision sought to be reconsidered, and we find no reason either in law or in the arguments of movant appellee to modify our conclusions therein. Needless to say, the view we have taken of the case does not confer upon spurious children better rights than natural children contrary to the codal classification of children into legitimate, natural and spurious and the gradation of their rights in that order.

In support of his stand, movant also invokes the opinion of Mr. Justice J.B.L. Reyes in the case of Zuzuarregui v. Zuzuarregui (G.R. No. L-10010, October 31, 1957). Far from supporting his case, the opinion cited rather serves to refute his contention that Article 285 does not apply to spurious children. Thus after expounding on the real meaning of the action for voluntary acknowledgment or recognition of a natural child and explaining why there is no substantial difference between such action and the action for declaration or investigation of paternity or maternity of illegitimate children not natural, the opinion cited concluded that "Art. 285 limits not only the so-called actions for recognition by natural children but also actions for investigation of paternity by illegitimate children.

WHEREFORE, the motion for reconsideration must be, as it is hereby, denied.

Bengzon, Labrador, Concepcion, Reyes, J.B.L., Barera, Paredes and Dizon, JJ., concur.

Padilla and Bautista Angelo, JJ., took no part.

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