Published 26 June 2023, The Daily Tribune

A birth certificate is a concrete reflection of one’s personal information. However, such is not always the case when it involves an allegation of the identity of the putative father.

In the recent case of Vizcarra v. Vizcarra-Nocillado (G.R. No. 205241, 11 January 2023), the Supreme Court ruled that a reconstructed NSO birth certificate is not sufficient proof to establish illegitimate filiation, absent any showing that the alleged putative father had a hand in its preparation.

This case stemmed from a dispute over a parcel of land owned by Ireneo Vizcarra who died in 1993. Ireneo had two heirs, Purificacion and Constancio. Following all their deaths, Constancio’s children (collectively, heirs of Constancio) executed an Extrajudicial Settlement or EJS and after due partition, they successfully caused the issuance of new certificates of title in their favor.

Asserting their rights as heirs of Ireneo, the heirs of one Silvestre Vizcarra sought to nullify the EJS. Allegedly, their late father Silvestre is the son of Ireneo with another woman. They presented the reconstructed NSO birth certificate of Silvestre as proof that the latter is Ireneo’s son.

The trial court upheld the validity of the said birth certificate which stated that the father of Silvestre was Ireneo. Consequently, the EJS was nullified. The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s decision.

The heirs of Constancio questioned this decision before the Supreme Court. They argued that the reconstructed birth certificate was dubious since its reconstruction was irregular and more importantly, the heirs of Silvestre did not prove that Ireneo intervened in its preparation.

The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the lower court. Initially, the Court pointed out that in the reconstructed birth certificate, the name of Silvestre’s father was “Irineo Vizcarra” which is different from “Ireneo Vizcarra.” Such discrepancy alone casts doubt if they refer to one and the same person.

Even assuming they are the same, the Supreme Court held that the reconstructed NSO birth certificate is not conclusive as to Silvestre’s filiation. The established rule is a birth certificate purportedly identifying the putative father is not competent evidence of paternity when there is no showing that the putative father had a hand in its preparation. Here, there is no proof that Ireneo intervened in its preparation, i.e., Ireneo’s signature was not found therein. Too, the Supreme Court expounded that one form of intervention is when the father himself voluntarily supplies the information. If a third person inscribes the father’s name, then it cannot be considered as voluntary acknowledgment on the latter’s part.

Hence, in using a birth certificate to establish illegitimate filiation, one must go beyond what is inscribed therein and endeavor to establish the putative father’s participation in its preparation. Otherwise, said certificate has no value in the eyes of the court.

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