Mother’s love

A LAW EACH DAY (KEEPS TROUBLE AWAY) - Jose C. Sison - The Philippine Star

This is another case of custody and care of a child. The general rule is that the parents, especially the mother, have the parental authority and the right to the custody and care of their children. But as previously ruled in several other cases, such authority may be waived. In deciding this issue, the best interest of the child should prevail. Supposing, however, that the mother herself entrusted the care and custody of the child to another person mainly because she cannot afford to take care of the child, can she get back the custody later on? What may be the reasons for giving back to her the custody of her child? These are the issues raised and answered in this case of Mila.

Mila, who was then still single in her late teens, gave birth to a baby boy, Lito. The boy’s father was an American soldier, Randy, a member of the American Liberation Forces. Nine days after delivery, Mila was constrained to give custody of Lito to her friend Ana because her father, Willy, objected to having Lito in the paternal home where Mila was still living. Willy did not want the child to stay in their home because he was so angry and displeased at Mila for maintaining illicit relations with Randy, which he considered a disgrace to their family.

Thus, Mila entrusted custody of Lito to Ana, married to Joe but without any child. Mila even executed a document entrusting Lito to Ana because she has “no means to bring up the child.” So Ana took Lito direct from the hospital to her house and ministered to his needs, even hiring a nurse to take care of him.

Mila also spent several days in Ana’s house while recuperating and later on returned to her own home, leaving Lito to the care of Ana, although she visited the child every Saturday, bringing milk, food and some money. Three months later, Mila signed another document designating Ana as “the real guardian of my son, Lito.”

Eventually Mila was able to get a job where she met Jerry, whom she married two years later. Thereafter, Mila and Jerry decided to get Lito back from Ana. But Ana and her husband refused. So the couple filed a petition for habeas corpus.

In their response, Ana cited and marked as exhibits 1 and 4 the documents signed by Mila entrusting custody of Lito to her and designating her as “the real guardian” of the child and that “no one has the right to claim him for adoption except Ana.”

Despite said documents however, the lower court granted the petition for habeas corpus of Mila and Jerry and ordered the sheriff to “deliver the custody of Lito to his mother” Mila. The lower court said that the two exhibits cannot sustain a finding that Mila had renounced parental authority, care and custody of her child Lito in favor of Ana.

The Supreme Court sustained the ruling of the lower court, except that it should be Ana and not the sheriff who should deliver custody of Lito to Mila, considering she is the one in custody of the boy. The SC ruled that the said documents (Exhibit 1 and 4) cannot be reasonably interpreted as contemplating that Mila had definitely renounced custody of Lito.

In the first document, she merely entrusted her son to Ana as the “real guardian of the child.” Such designation cannot and does not mean that said guardian will always assume and discharge the duties of a guardian. Guardianship is always understood to be temporary, in the sense that Ana will be the guardian while Mila was still unable to care for and support Lito because she could not bring him to live with her in the home of her father. This is why she entrusted his custody and care to Ana. Now that she has become of legal age, emancipated from the parental authority of her father and has already gotten married, she is in a position to care for and support her own child with the consent and desire of her husband Jerry, who joins her in the petition. So there is no more reason for depriving her custody of the boy.

Furthermore, the last paragraph of this document stating that “no one has the right to claim for adoption except Ana” envisages a future act. It does not mean that she has already adopted the child. She may or may not adopt him. And she has not yet done it.

The SC said that the tragedy of depriving mother and son the beautiful associations and tender, imperishable memories engendered by the relationship of parent and child should always be averted. The mother’s opportunity of bringing up her own child, even at the cost of extreme sacrifice due to poverty and lack of means, should not be taken away from her so that afterwards, she may be able to look back with pride and sense of satisfaction at her sacrifices and efforts to make her dreams for her little boy come true (Celis et.al vs Cafuir et.al.; G.R. L-3352, June 12, 1950).

vuukle comment



  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

Get Updated:

Signup for the News Round now

or sign in with