03/31/2022, 16.01
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Philippine Supreme Court rules that children born out of wedlock can also inherit

This is a historic ruling for the Philippines. The court reinterpreted article 992 of the civil code in favour of all blood relatives and criticised the terms “legitimate” and “illegitimate”.

Manila (AsiaNews) – The Supreme Court of the Philippines unanimously ruled that children born out of wedlock have the right to inherit.

In a statement, the Supreme Court Public Information Office says that the court “reinterpreted article 992 of the civil code, which prohibits nonmarital children from inheriting from their siblings who are marital children, as well as relatives of [their] father or mother.”

In doing so, the court set aside the so-called iron curtain rule between legitimate and illegitimate children.

The ruling brought to a close the Aquino vs Aquino case in which Amadea Angela “Maggie” Ho Aquino claimed the right to inherit from her grandfather Miguel, even though her father, Arturo, had died before she was born and could marry her mother.

Article 992 of the civil code states that “illegitimate child has no right to inherit ab intestato 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.”

But the latest decision, written by Associate Justice Marvic Leonen, says that, “the Court ruled that grandparents and other direct ascendants are outside the scope of ‘relatives’ under Article 992” since “Both marital and nonmarital children, whether born from a marital or nonmarital child, are blood relatives of their parents and other ascendants.”

Article 982 says, “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.”

Last but not least, the court criticised the use of the terms “legitimate” and “illegitimate”, defining them pejorative, and preferring the words “marital” and “non-marital” to refer to the offspring born in or outside marriage.

“Departing from regressive conjectures about family life in favor of the best interests of the child, the Court abandoned the presumption that nonmarital children are products of illicit relationships or that they are automatically placed in a hostile environment perpetrated by the marital family,” said the Supreme Court Public Information Office.

The ruling is bound to be especially important in the Philippines since the country has no divorce law.

Maggie Aquino’s petition was backed by legal experts. In another case, Associate Justice Ramon Paul Hernando said that the old clause in the civil code was “backward”.

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