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Amadea Angela K. Aquino v. Rodolfo C. Aquino and Abbulah C. Aquino

Miguel Aquino had three sons: Arturo, Rodolfo, and Abbulah. Arturo and a woman named Maria Angela Kuan Ho had relations, resulting in the birth of Angela Aquino, their illegitimate child. Maria and Arturo also had plans to get married. Sadly, Arturo passed away on January 10, 1999,  before Angela was born and before he and Maria could officially marry.

Though Maria and Arturo never got married, Miguel treated his granddaughter very fondly. In fact, he paid for all of Maria’s expenses during her pregnancy and had Angela live with the Aquinos in their ancestral home. Angela’s uncles, Rodolfo and Abbulah, were also quite fond of her, and Rodolfo was made to be one of Angela’s godfathers.

Things changed drastically after Miguel’s death. Upon settlement of his estate, it was found that Angela was included among the heirs who would receive portions of the estate. Her uncles, Rodoldo and Abbulah, opposed this. This is because according to them: 1.) Angela was never legally recognized as a natural child, 2.) there was no proof of filiation, and 3.) under the Iron curtain rule in the Civil Code, Angela is barred from inheriting from the legitimate family of her putative father.

May an illegitimate child inherit from his/her direct ascendants?

YES. Children, regardless of their circumstances at birth, are QUALIFIED to inherit from their direct ascendants. This construction will harmonize two Civil Code provisions in Succession:

  • Art. 992. An illegitimate child has no right to inherit ab intestato (by intestacy) from the legitimate children and relatives of his father or mother; nor shall such children or relatives inherit in the same manner from the illegitimate child.
  • Art. 982. The grandchildren and other descendants shall inherit by right of representation, and if any one of them should have died, leaving several heirs, the portion pertaining to him shall be divided among the latter in equal portions. 

There was no specification in the term “grandchildren” whether only legitimate children are allowed to inherit from their grandparents, so there was no need to qualify, much less restrict, the application to only legitimate grandchildren. 

It is unfair for an illegitimate child to be placed in an unfair situation wherein he/she is only inheriting half as much as his/her legitimate counterparts. 

The ponencia did away with the terms ”illegitimate” and “legitimate” when referring to children based on their parent’s status. Instead, Justice Leonen used the terms “marital” and “”nonmarital” children.

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