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ISABELITA S. LAHOM vs.

JOSE MELVIN SIBULO (previously referred to as "DR. MELVIN S. LAHOM")


G.R. No. 143989 July 14, 2003

FACTS:

ISABELITA S. LAHOM, hereinafter referred as petitioner, is the adopter of JOSE


MELVIN SIBULO (previously referred to as "DR. MELVIN S. LAHOM"), hereinafter
referred as respondent. In1971, the couple decided to file a petition for adoption. On 05
May 1972, an order granting the petition was issued that made all the more intense
than before the feeling of affection of the spouses for Melvin. In keeping with the court
order, the Civil Registrar of Naga City changed the name "Jose Melvin Sibulo" to "Jose
Melvin Lahom."

A sad turn of events came many years later. Eventually, in December of 1999,
Mrs. Lahom commenced a petition to rescind the decree of adoption before the Regional
Trial Court (RTC), Branch 22, of Naga City.

Prior to the institution of the case, specifically on 22 March 1998, Republic Act
(R.A.) No. 8552, also known as the Domestic Adoption Act, went into effect. The new
statute deleted from the law the right of adopters to rescind a decree of adoption.

Section 19 of Article VI of R.A. No. 8552 now reads:

"SEC. 19. Grounds for Rescission of Adoption. — Upon petition of the


adoptee, with the assistance of the Department if a minor or if over eighteen (18)
years of age but is incapacitated, as guardian/counsel, the adoption may be
rescinded on any of the following grounds committed by the adopter(s): (a) repeated
physical and verbal maltreatment by the adopter(s) despite having undergone
counseling; (b) attempt on the life of the adoptee; (c) sexual assault or violence; or
(d) abandonment and failure to comply with parental obligations.

"Adoption, being in the best interest of the child, shall not be subject to
rescission by the adopter(s). However, the adopter(s) may disinherit the adoptee
for causes provided in Article 919 of the Civil Code." (emphasis supplied)

Respondent moved for the dismissal of the petition, contending principally (a)
that the trial court had no jurisdiction over the case and (b) that the petitioner had no
cause of action in view of the aforequoted provisions of R.A. No. 8552.

Petitioner asseverated, by way of opposition, that the proscription in R.A. No.


8552 should not retroactively apply, i.e., to cases where the ground for rescission of the
adoption vested under the regime of then Article 3482 of the Civil Code and Article 1923
of the Family Code.

In an order, dated 28 April 2000, the trial court ordered for the dismissal of the
petition. Hence the current petition for review on Certiorari.

ISSUE:

May the subject adoption, decreed on 05 May 1972, still be revoked or rescinded
by an adopter after the effectivity of R.A. No. 8552?

HELD:

NO.

The court discusses the concept of “vested right”. The concept of "vested right" is
a consequence of the constitutional guaranty of due process that expresses a present
fixed interest which in right reason and natural justice is protected against arbitrary
state action; it includes not only legal or equitable title to the enforcement of a demand
but also exemptions from new obligations created after the right has become vested.
Rights are considered vested when the right to enjoyment is a present interest, absolute,
unconditional, and perfect or fixed and irrefutable.

In Republic vs. Court of Appeals, a petition to adopt Jason Condat was filed by
Zenaida C. Bobiles on 02 February 1988 when the Child and Youth Welfare Code
(Presidential Decree No. 603) allowed an adoption to be sought by either spouse or both
of them. After the trial court had rendered its decision and while the case was still
pending on appeal, the Family Code of the Philippines (Executive Order No. 209),
mandating joint adoption by the husband and wife, took effect. Petitioner Republic
argued that the case should be dismissed for having been filed by Mrs. Bobiles alone
and without being joined by the husband. The Court concluded that the jurisdiction
of the court is determined by the statute in force at the time of the
commencement of the action. The petition to adopt Jason, having been filed with the
court at the time when P.D. No. 603 was still in effect, the right of Mrs. Bobiles to file
the petition, without being joined by her husband, according to the Court had become
vested. In Republic vs. Miller, spouses Claude and Jumrus Miller, both aliens, sought
to adopt Michael Madayag. On 29 July 1988, the couple filed a petition to formalize
Michael's adoption having theretofore been taken into their care. At the time the action
was commenced, P.D. No. 603 allowed aliens to adopt. After the decree of adoption and
while on appeal before the Court of Appeals, the Family Code was enacted into law on
08 August 1988 disqualifying aliens from adopting Filipino children. The Republic then
prayed for the withdrawal of the adoption decree. In discarding the argument posed by
the Republic, the Supreme Court ruled that the controversy should be resolved in the
light of the law governing at the time the petition was filed.

In the present case, it was months after the effectivity of R.A. No. 8552 that herein
petitioner filed an action to revoke the decree of adoption granted in 1975. By then, the
new law, had already abrogated and repealed the right of an adopter under the Civil
Code and the Family Code to rescind a decree of adoption. Consistently with its earlier
pronouncements, the Court should now hold that the action for rescission of the
adoption decree, having been initiated by petitioner after R.A. No. 8552 had come into
force, no longer could be pursued.

Hence, adoption decree cannot be revoked anymore.

Dela Cruz vs Dela Cruz

Facts:

Manuel dea Cruz, the minor to be adopted, was declared by the Court of First Instance
of Ilocos Sur, legally adopted child of Sps. Cecilio and Eustaquia dela Cruz. Seven years
later, the adoptive parents filed with the Court of First Instance Pangasinan a petition to
have the adopotion revoked on the ground that adopted minor had definitely
repudiated the adoption by open display of defiance animosity, revulsion and
disobedience to petitioners and had for more than 3 years abandoned home by living
with his natural mother in Ilocos Sur.

The counsel for the minor filed a motion to dismiss, one of the grounds was the lack of
jurisdiction over the subject matter and over the person of the adopted minor. The
motion was granted by the said Court.

Issue: WON the Court correctly granted the motion?

Ruling:

No.
The Civil Code do not specify the Court where the proceedings should be filed. The Rules
of Court designates the venue of the proceeding for adoption, which is the place where
the petitioner resides, but is silent with respect to the venue of proceedings for rescission
and revocation of adoption, which proceedings are distinct from each other.

In the proceeding for adoption, the determination is the propriety of establishing the
relationship of parent and child between two persons not so related by nature. For that
purpose, the Court inquires into the qualifications and disqualifications of adopter; the
personal circumstances of the person to be adopted; probable value and character of
his estate. Likewise, once the proper Court has granted a petition for adoption and the
decree has become final, the proceeding is terminated and closed.

On the other hand, the proceeding for the revocation of adoption, either the adopting
parent or the adopted seeks to sever the relationship previously established and the
inquiry refers to the truth of the grounds upon which the revocation is brought. Also, the
petition for revocation is entirely new proceeding, depending on the facts which have
happened since the decree of adoption. Applying Rule 99 in a suppletory character, it
is also in the place of residence of petition, which in this case, in Pangasinan.

In the present petition, petitioners reside in Pangasinan, having moved there from their
former residence in Ilocos Sur. The Court held that there is no interference of courts in this
case. The validity or effectiveness of the decree of adoption issued by the CFI Ilocos Sur
is not in question. What is sought is the revocation because of the circumstances
subsequently supervening which, under the law, render the construction of the adoptive
relationship justified and impractical.

The venue therefore was properly held, and the Court had acquired jurisdiction over the
person of the minor, who was represented by his natural mother as guardian ad litem.

IN RE: PETITION FOR ADOPTION OF MICHELLE P. LIM


IN RE: PETITION FOR ADOPTION OF MICHAEL JUDE P. LIM

FACTS: Petitioner and her husband, Lim, registered the minor children, whose parents were unknown, to
make it appear that they were the children’s parents. The children were named Michelle P. Lim and
Michael Jude P. Lim. The spouses reared and cared for the children as if they were their own.
Unfortunately, Lim died. Petitioner then married Angel Olario, an American citizen.
Thereafter, petitioner decided to adopt the children by availing of the amnesty given under Republic Act
No. 8552 to those individuals who simulated the birth of a child. Thus, petitioner filed separate petitions
for the adoption of Michelle and Michael before the trial court. At the time of the filing of the petitions
for adoption, Michelle was 25 years old and already married, while Michael was 18 years and seven
months old.

Michelle and her husband gave their consent to the adoption as evidenced by their Affidavits of
Consent. Michael also gave his consent to his adoption as shown in his Affidavit of Consent. Petitioners
husband Olario likewise executed an Affidavit of Consent for the adoption of Michelle and Michael.

The trial court ruled that since petitioner had remarried, petitioner should have filed the petition jointly
with her new husband. The trial court ruled that joint adoption by the husband and the wife is mandatory
citing Section 7(c), Article III of RA 8552 and Article 185 of the Family Code. Petitioner’s argument that
mere consent of her husband would suffice was untenable because, under the law, there are additional
requirements, such as residency and certification of his qualification, which the husband, who was not
even made a party in this case, must comply.

ISSUE: Whether or not petitioner, who has remarried, can singly adopt.

RULING:

NO.

It is undisputed that, at the time the petitions for adoption were filed, petitioner had already remarried.
She filed the petitions by herself, without being joined by her husband Olario. We have no other recourse
but to affirm the trial court’s decision denying the petitions for adoption. Dura lex sed lex. The law is
explicit. Section 7, Article III of RA 8552 reads:

SEC. 7. Who May Adopt. - The following may adopt:

(a) Any Filipino citizen of legal age, in possession of full civil capacity and legal rights, of
good moral character, has not been convicted of any crime involving moral turpitude,
emotionally and psychologically capable of caring for children, at least sixteen (16)
years older than the adoptee, and who is in a position to support and care for his/her
children in keeping with the means of the family. The requirement of sixteen (16) year
difference between the age of the adopter and adoptee may be waived when the
adopter is the biological parent of the adoptee, or is the spouse of the adoptees
parent;

(b) Any alien possessing the same qualifications as above stated for Filipino
nationals: Provided, That his/her country has diplomatic relations with the Republic of the
Philippines, that he/she has been living in the Philippines for at least three (3) continuous
years prior to the filing of the application for adoption and maintains such residence until
the adoption decree is entered, that he/she has been certified by his/her diplomatic or
consular office or any appropriate government agency that he/she has the legal capacity
to adopt in his/her country, and that his/her government allows the adoptee to enter
his/her country as his/her adopted son/daughter: Provided, further, That the
requirements on residency and certification of the aliens qualification to adopt in his/her
country may be waived for the following:

(i) a former Filipino citizen who seeks to adopt a relative within the fourth (4 th)
degree of consanguinity or affinity; or

(ii) one who seeks to adopt the legitimate son/daughter of his/her Filipino spouse;
or

(iii) one who is married to a Filipino citizen and seeks to adopt jointly with his/her
spouse a relative within the fourth (4th) degree of consanguinity or affinity of the
Filipino spouses; or

(c) The guardian with respect to the ward after the termination of the guardianship and
clearance of his/her financial accountabilities.

Husband and wife shall jointly adopt, except in the following cases:

(i) if one spouse seeks to adopt the legitimate son/daughter of the other; or

(ii) if one spouse seeks to adopt his/her own illegitimate son/daughter: Provided,
however, That the other spouse has signified his/her consent thereto; or

(iii) if the spouses are legally separated from each other.

In case husband and wife jointly adopt, or one spouse adopts the illegitimate
son/daughter of the other, joint parental authority shall be exercised by the spouses

The use of the word shall in the above-quoted provision means that joint adoption by the husband
and the wife is mandatory. This is in consonance with the concept of joint parental authority over
the child which is the ideal situation. As the child to be adopted is elevated to the level of a
legitimate child, it is but natural to require the spouses to adopt jointly. The rule also insures
harmony between the spouses.