Introduction: Illegitimate Children in the Philippines
In this discussion, we shall concern ourselves with the topic: Illegitimate Children in the Philippines.
The Philippines has continued to be a poor country. In the first semester of 2021, the poverty rate of the population living below the poverty line is more than 23.7%. About 26.14 million Filipinos are having hard times to afford even basic necessities of life and are living below poverty threshold.1
A new norm of illegitimacy has been welcomed in the Philippines owing to poverty. In the poor areas, many Filipinos are not able to afford the expenses of weddings, may it be civil or church solemnizations. Consequently, this leads to the situation that most children are born illegitimate in those segments of society.
In the recent survey, the teenage pregnancy rate is high in the Philippines. One of the factors that has contributed to its rise is the lack of sex education. Some girls do not have any idea that they can get pregnant in having unprotected sex.
Perforce, teenage pregnancy may be one of the attributable reasons to the rise in numbers of those born illegitimate. Based on the 2018 data released by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), a total of 1,668,120 live of births have been registered; yet, half of such or almost 54.3% of the total number are born to unwed mothers.
Customs an Traditions
Customs and traditions have contributed, as well, to the high number of children born without the benefit of a valid marriage in the country.
In the 2018 survey of PSA, the illegitimate babies in region 11 were more than half of the total number of births. Thus, poverty, lack of sex education, customs, and traditions are the contributors in having high number of illegitimate children in the Philippines.
The Family Code of the Philippines: Elevated Status of Illegitimate Children
Citing some of the provision of the family code regarding illegitimate and legitimated children, these may have been the provisions that elevated the status of the illegitimate children from where they were in the New Civil Code of the Philippines. Hence:
Art. 175. Illegitimate children may establish their illegitimate filiation in the same way and on the same evidence as legitimate children.2
The action must be brought within the same period specified in Article 173, except when the action is based on the second paragraph of Article 172, in which case the action may be brought during the lifetime of the alleged parent.3
Art. 176. Illegitimate children shall use the surname and shall be under the parental authority of their mother, and shall be entitled to support in conformity with this Code. The legitime 4 of each illegitimate child shall consist of one-half of the legitime of a legitimate child. Except for this modification, all other provisions in the Civil Code governing successional rights shall remain in force.5
Art. 177. Only children conceived and born outside of wedlock of parents who, at the time of the conception of the former, were not disqualified by any impediment to marry each other may be legitimated.6
Art. 178. Legitimation shall take place by a subsequent valid marriage between parents. The annulment of a voidable marriage shall not affect the legitimation.7
Art. 179. Legitimated children shall enjoy the same rights as legitimate children.8
Art. 180. The effects of legitimation shall retroact to the time of the child’s birth.9
Art. 181. The legitimation of children who died before the celebration of the marriage shall benefit their descendants.10
Art. 182. Legitimation may be impugned only by those who are prejudiced in their rights, within five years from the time their cause of action accrues.11
The Family Code is one of the important laws that was enacted in the country. Philippines is known for having a strong and close family ties. We have long accepted the fact that people have illegitimate children. Despite that, there is still discrimination against those who are born illegitimate.
Illegitimate children do not have the same rights as those who are legitimate. It may be time for both of them to have the same rights or fair privileges under the law. Being born an illegitimate is not the child’s fault.
It is better be born illegitimate rather than being engaged in a toxic family that doesn’t value the children’s feelings. Filipinos believe that family is their wealth. It is a great achievement for us who value our family.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we will accept the existence of illegitimate family or illegitimacy without making any society standards?
What is the difference between legitimate and illegitimate child?
Children conceived or born during the marriage of the parents are legitimate. Children conceived as a result of artificial insemination of the wife with the sperm of the husband or that of a donor or both are likewise legitimate children of the husband and his wife, provided, that both of them authorized or ratified such insemination in a written instrument executed and signed by them before the birth of the child. The instrument shall be recorded in the civil registry together with the birth certificate of the child [Article 164, Family Code].13
Conversely, children conceived and born outside a valid marriage are illegitimate [Article 165, Family Code].14 The Family Code of the Philippines has eradicated the different classification of illegitimate children as natural or spurious.
The only real difference is whether or not child’s parents are married according to the law. Technically speaking, all children have a father and a mother and that they should be entitled to the same support, emotional, and personal rights from their parents whether or not they are legitimate.
Can an illegitimate child use the surname of the father?
Under the present state of the Philippine Family Law, the illegitimate child is granted under Republic Act [RA] 9225 the right to use the surname of his father, subject to the conditions set forth therein. Thus, an act amending the Article 176 of the Family Code of the Philippines states that:
Illegitimate children shall use the surname and shall be under the parental authority of their mother, and shall be entitled to support in conformity with this Code. However, illegitimate children may use the surname of their father if their filiation has been expressly recognized by the father through the record of birth appearing in the civil register, or when an admission in a public document or private handwritten instrument is made by the father. Provided, the father has the right to institute an action before the regular courts to prove non-filiation during his lifetime. The legitime of each illegitimate child shall consist of one-half of the legitime of a legitimate child.15
As a precursor to the above positive law, the Supreme Court, in the case of Grande vs Antonio,16, has decided that the clear, unambiguous, and unequivocal use of “may” in this article rendering the use of an illegitimate father’s surname discretionary controls, and illegitimate children are given the choice on the surnames by which they will be known.17
Thus, an illegitimate child can use his father’s surname, provided that the latter has recognized him or her through an admission in a public document or a private handwritten document. This document, along with the declaration of parent-child relationship signed by the father, an affidavit using the father’s surname, and the birth certificate of the living child, must be submitted to the local registry.
Is it illegal to have a child without marriage?
Having a child born out of wedlock is not contemplated by law or principles of law, as far as the legal system of the Philippines is concerned, to be illegal, unlawful, or other similar perception, except the acts of the parents themselves which may be criminal in character such as adultery or concubinage, as the case may be.
The country has already accepted the norm of one having an illegitimate child or several illegitimate children.
Even under the Family Code of the Philippines, illegitimate children are already being recognized in the country.
Many are likewise fighting that legitimate and illegitimate children must have equal or near level rights.
It goes without saying, therefore, that those illegitimate children have nothing to do with the circumstances that their parents have been through before they are born.
The following are considered as illegitimate children:18
- Children born to couples who are not legally married or of common-law marriages;19
- Children born of incestuous marriages;20
- Children born of bigamous marriages;21
- Children born of adulterous relations between parents;22
- Children born of marriages void for reason of public policy under Art. 38 of the Family Code;23
- Children born of couples below 18, whether they are married (which married is void) or not; and,24
- Children born of other void marriages under Art. 15 unless otherwise provided. (OCRG Cir. No. 89-13 dated July 17, 1989).25
Children may be conceived by their parents while violating the law, as stated above, like those of bigamous marriages and those of adulterous relations their parents were having prior to the children’s birth.
However, there are no provisions saying that it is illegal or unlawful to have a child without the benefit of marriage. Thus, having a child without a marriage is not illegal.
As stated in Article 176 of the Family code Illegitimate children shall use the surname and shall be under the parental authority of their mother, and shall be entitled to support in conformity with this Code.
The legitime of every illegitimate infant shall be one-1/2 of the legitime of a legitimate child. As a preferred rule, the married father and mother shall, at the same time, exercise parental authority over the person of their child.
However, insofar as illegitimate kids are concerned, Article 176 of the Family Code states that illegitimate children shall be under the parental authority in their mother. This is the case even though the father of the kid has identified the latter.
In the case of Masbate vs Relucio,26 the Supreme Court has determined that mothers, under the law, are entitled to parental authority over her illegitimate child or children, notwithstanding the father’s recognition of them.
In the exercise of that authority, mothers are therefore entitled to the custody their illegitimate children, and the Court will not deprive them of such custody, absent any vital reason displaying the mother’s unfitness to exercise such authority and care.
It is apparent that the regulation in parental authority over an illegitimate infant belongs to their mother. On the other hand, the child’s choice of a parent where he or she desires to stay effectively applies if the parents are married; because under the law, both have parental authority.
Does marriage legitimize a child?
According to the Family Code, legitimation shall take place by a subsequent valid marriage between parents and that legitimated child shall enjoy the same rights as legitimate children. Foremost provisions on legitimation are as follows, to wit:
Art. 177. Only children conceived and born outside of wedlock of parents who, at the time of the conception of the former, were not disqualified by any impediment to marry each other may be legitimated.27
Art. 178. Legitimation shall take place by a subsequent valid marriage between parents. The annulment of a voidable marriage shall not affect the legitimation. 28
Art. 179. Legitimated children shall enjoy the same rights as legitimate children.29
Art. 180. The effects of legitimation shall retroact to the time of the child’s birth.30
Art. 181. The legitimation of children who died before the celebration of the marriage shall benefit their descendants.31
Art. 182. Legitimation may be impugned only by those who are prejudiced in their rights, within five years from the time their cause of action accrues.32
Legitimation is a remedy by means of which those who in fact were not born in wedlock and should, therefore, be considered illegitimate, are, by fiction, considered legitimate, it being necessary, however, that those children were conceived and born when their parents have no legal impediment to marry each each other and subsequently took their vows as husband and wife, through a valid marriage.
While a child may be legitimated by a subsequent marriage of his or her biological parents, still, it is a strict requirement that at the time of the child’s conception and birth, his or her parents are not prohibited by law to marry each other. Prohibition of this sort is considered as legal impediments.
Examples of these are:
- Either of the mother or father is married to another person at the time of their child’s conception or birth, even though one’s or both former marriages have been validly annulled after the birth of the their own child.
- Prohibited marriage under Article 35 of the Family Code
With the amendment of Article 177 of the Family Code by Republic Act [RA] No. 9858, minority of the parents, when the child has been conceived or born during the parent’s minority or either of them, shall not hinder the legitimation by operation of law in the event the when they reach the age of majority, they subsequently marry each other.
Section 1. Article 177 of Executive Order No. 209, otherwise known as the “Family Code of the Philippines”, as amended, is hereby further amended to read as follows:33
“Art. 177. Children conceived and born outside of wedlock of parents who, at the time of conception of the former, were not disqualified by any impediment to marry each other, or were so disqualified only because either or both of them were below eighteen (18) years of age, may be legitimated.”34
“Art. 178. Legitimation shall take place by a subsequent valid marriage between parents. The annulment of a voidable marriage shall not affect the legitimation.”35
Requirements for registration
Below is the list of requirements for registration of legitimation of illegitimate children are:
- Certificate of Marriage;
- Certificate of live Birth of the Child;
- Acknowledgement, but this is not required if born on or after August 3, 1988; and
- Affidavit of legitimation executed by both parents.
Thus, marriage legitimizes a child, who is conceived or born outside of marriage.
“She is an illegitimate child, this was not her mistake to be born that way, every child is born with his or her destiny. They are not supposed to be blamed for her birth; they are innocent. Blaming them the whole life is a sin”
Yes, the country has long accepted the norm of illegitimacy but there are still discrimination, even by legal standards. Being an illegitimate child is not the fault of those who have been born as such. There are many circumstances why they are born illegitimate, and they are not within the child’s control.
In this modern year, millennials may be choosing of just living together before marriage. They don’t want to enter in such legal situation that will be only toxic in the future or not yet ready for. Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean that it’s the child’s fault.
This set up, maybe for some people, is more practicable than being engaged in a difficult matrimonial bond. Marriage is just a piece of paper but the relationship is what really matters.
Don’t we want to raise children with love and not with toxic relationship of their parents that can affect their mindset, attitude, and character in the future?
Let us put in our mind that being illegitimate is no child’s fault. It is better to be born out of marriage that to be tied in a marriage that is not worth it. Hence, illegitimate children should have an equal protection of rights with those who are legitimate.
- Proportion of Poor Filipinos Registered at 23.7 Percent in the First Semester of 2021
- Article 175, Family Code
- Legal Right Share
- Article 176, Id.
- Article 177, Id.
- Article 178, Id.
- Article 178, Id.
- Article 180, Id.
- Article 181, Id.
- Article 182, Id.
- Article 163, Family Code
- Article 164, Family Code
- Article 165, Family Code
- Section 1, RA 9225
- G.R. No. 206248, February 18, 2014
- Who are considered illegitimate children?
- G.R. No. 235498, July 30, 2018
- Article 177, Family Code
- Article 178, Id.
- Article 179, Id.
- Article 180, Id.
- Article 181, Id.
- Article 182, Id.
- RA 9858