Expert says more children born out of wedlock in PH
MANILA, Philippines — Legal and societal disadvantages of illegitimate children have not discouraged unmarried couples from creating them, a family law expert told members of the Supreme Court (SC).
UP Law Professor and author Elizabeth Aguiling-Pangalangan on Tuesday presented data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showing that the country now has more illegitimate or non-marital children.
Aguiling-Pangalangan made the presentation as a “friend of the court” when SC tackled the rights of illegitimate children to claim an inheritance.
Friends of the court gave their views on the issues raised in a petition asking if someone born out of wedlock may claim an inheritance from the paternal grandfather’s estate considering that the child grew up as part of a father’s clan.
In her memorandum, Aguiling-Pangalangan cited PSA’s 2017 data, which showed that illegitimate or non-marital children in the Philippines is now at 53 percent with the most number of non-marital children in Eastern Visayas at 65 percent and the National Capital Region (NCR) at 64.9 percent.
“The bigger number of non-marital children as shown by statistics would also be reflective of a change in societal attitudes with respect to marital children and non-marital children, meaning is it safe to assume based on these statistics that now … society is more than willing to accept non-marital children as human beings equal in the eyes of the law and of God and of everything else that stands in our universe?” Associate Justice Ramon Paul Hernando asked.
Aguiling-Pangalanan, however, said that while society’s mind has become more open, illegitimate children still suffer some stigma.
She said that Article 992 of the New Civil Code and Article 175 of the Family Code on proving filiation are legal setbacks against illegitimate children.
Article 992 of the New Civil Code was the subject of Tuesday’s oral argument. Under Article 992, an illegitimate child has no right to inherit from the inheritance of the legitimate relatives of his or her parents.
The case was about a child born out of wedlock because her father died before she was born and not being able to marry her mother. Her paternal grandfather took care of her, helped raise her and supported her education from kindergarten to college.
However, she was excluded from the inheritance by her uncles when her paternal grandfather died in 1999.
In giving equal rights to children, Hernando asked: “(S)hall it be by way of judicial rulings or legislative measures?”
Former Ateneo Law Dean Cynthia Del Castillo said the issue of unfairness “is the one that strikes the heart most.”
“If you strike it down as unconstitutional on the basis of the fact that there is no substantial distinction, it really is going to be something that favors not only the illegitimate children but the legitimate children as well,” she said.
“The distinction between the illegitimate and the legitimate is several decades long overdue. Today, in the year 2019, this is really so much that it is irrelevant to make that distinction,” she added.
Hernando said there are other complications that needed to be considered if Article 992 will be declared unconstitutional.
The oral argument was suspended and will resume on September 17.
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