My cousin was born in 1989, a year after his parents were married. He is an only child because his parents were already in their 40s when they got married. About two years ago, both of his parents passed away. He has been trying to transfer under his name the title of the house and lot that were left by his parents. But, his uncle (on his father’s side) is claiming that he has no right to such property, because he is not really the child of his parents. On the other hand, my cousin could not present his birth certificate, because when he verified in the local civil registry in their province, he was told that some of the records were ruined by floods, including his record. He only has some personal documents of his parents and his parents’ original SSS E-1 forms where they respectively declared him as their dependent-son.
The documents have the signatures of his parents, and were filled out by their own handwriting. Can these be used as proofs that he is really the son of his parents?
As a rule, a child who is conceived or born during the marriage of his or her parents is considered as a legitimate child (Article 164 (1), Family Code of the Philippines). To establish paternity and filiation, the law requires for the presentation of any of the following: (1) the record of birth appearing in the civil register or a final judgment; or (2) an admission of legitimate filiation in a public document or a private handwritten instrument and signed by the parent concerned. In the absence thereof, legitimate filiation shall be proved by: (1) The open and continuous possession of the status of a legitimate child; or (2) Any other means allowed by the Rules of Court and special laws (Article 172, Ibid.).
Applying the foregoing, it is safe to submit that your cousin is the legitimate child of his parents for he was born during the subsistence of their marriage. Considering, however, that his filiation with his parents is being questioned by his uncle, he may prove the same by presenting the documents of his parents that he has in his possession.
The fact that he was unable to secure a certified copy of his birth certificate from the local civil registry in the province where he was born or registered should not be an obstacle in establishing filiation. It bears stressing that, based on the above-mentioned legal provision, one’s birth certificate is not the sole proof of filiation. Other documents, whether public or private handwritten instrument, may be utilized as long they clearly demonstrate the admission of such filiation.
Even assuming that the other personal documents left by his parents will not suffice to establish his filiation, your cousin may make use of the original SSS E-1 forms of his parents to prove the questioned filiation because, as you have mentioned, the forms were filled out by them in their own handwriting and bore the signatures of his parents. In one case, our Supreme Court ruled:
“x x x SSS Form E-1 (Exhibit “G”) satisfies the requirement for proof of filiation and relationship x x x under Article 172 of the Family Code; by itself, said document constitutes an “admission of legitimate filiation in a public document or a private handwritten instrument and signed by the parent concerned. “
x x x
To repeat what was stated in de Jesus, filiation may be proved by an admission of legitimate filiation in a public document or a private handwritten instrument and signed by the parent concerned, and such due recognition in any authentic writing is, in itself, a consummated act of acknowledgment of the child, and no further court action is required. x x x” (Aguilar vs. Siasat, G.R. No. 200169, January 28, 2015).
We hope that we were able to answer your queries. Please be reminded that this advice is based solely on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. Our opinion may vary when other facts are changed or elaborated.
Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org