Jose Melvin filed a motion to dismiss on the ground that under the new laws on adoption, Republic Act 8552, the adopter cannot rescind anymore the decree of adoption.
The trial court dismissed the petition for lack of cause of action, citing the provisions of Section 19 of Republic Act 8552 which reads:
“SEC. 19. Grounds for Rescission of Adoption. — Upon petition of the adoptee, with the assistance of the Department if a minor or if over eighteen (18) years of age but is incapacitated, as guardian/counsel, the adoption may be rescinded on any of the following grounds committed by the adopter(s): (a) repeated physical and verbal maltreatment by the adopter(s) despite having undergone counseling; (b) attempt on the life of the adoptee; (c) sexual assault or violence; or (d) abandonment and failure to comply with parental obligations.
“Adoption, being in the best interest of the child, shall not be subject to rescission by the adopter(s). However, the adopter(s) may disinherit the adoptee for causes provided in Article 919 of the Civil Code.” (emphasis supplied)
The Supreme Court, in denying the appeal filed by Isabelita, ruled that;
“It was months after the effectivity of R.A. No. 8552 that herein petitioner filed an action to revoke the decree of adoption granted in 1975. By then, the new law,22 had already abrogated and repealed the right of an adopter under the Civil Code and the Family Code to rescind a decree of adoption. Consistently with its earlier pronouncements, the Court should now hold that the action for rescission of the adoption decree, having been initiated by petitioner after R.A. No. 8552 had come into force, no longer could be pursued.
Interestingly, even before the passage of the statute, an action to set aside the adoption is subject to the five-year bar rule under Rule 100 of the Rules of Court and that the adopter would lose the right to revoke the adoption decree after the lapse of that period. The exercise of the right within a prescriptive period is a condition that could not fulfill the requirements of a vested right entitled to protection. It must also be acknowledged that a person has no vested right in statutory privileges.24 While adoption has often been referred to in the context of a “right,” the privilege to adopt is itself not naturally innate or fundamental but rather a right merely created by statute.25 It is a privilege that is governed by the state’s determination on what it may deem to be for the best interest and welfare of the child.26 Matters relating to adoption, including the withdrawal of the right of an adopter to nullify the adoption decree, are subject to regulation by the State.27 Concomitantly, a right of action given by statute may be taken away at anytime before it has been exercised.28
While R.A. No. 8552 has unqualifiedly withdrawn from an adopter a consequential right to rescind the adoption decree even in cases where the adoption might clearly turn out to be undesirable, it remains, nevertheless, the bounden duty of the Court to apply the law. Dura lex sed lex would be the hackneyed truism that those caught in the law have to live with. It is still noteworthy, however, that an adopter, while barred from severing the legal ties of adoption, can always for valid reasons cause the forfeiture of certain benefits otherwise accruing to an undeserving child. For instance, upon the grounds recognized by law, an adopter may deny to an adopted child his legitime and, by a will and testament, may freely exclude him from having a share in the disposable portion of his estate.