Wednesday, March 24, 2021
Parental and filial privilege.- No person may be compelled to testify against his parents, other direct ascendants, children or other direct descendants.
See - https://lawphil.net/judjuris/juri2010/jul2010/gr_177861_2010.html#rnt3
"x x x.
The Question Presented
The only question presented in this case is whether or not the CA erred in ruling that the trial court may compel Tiu to testify in the correction of entry case that respondent Lee-Keh children filed for the correction of the certificate of birth of petitioner Emma Lee to show that she is not Keh’s daughter.
The Ruling of the Court
Petitioner Emma Lee claims that the RTC correctly quashed the subpoena ad testificandum it issued against Tiu on the ground that it was unreasonable and oppressive, given the likelihood that the latter would be badgered on oral examination concerning the Lee-Keh children’s theory that she had illicit relation with Lee and gave birth to the other Lee children.
But, as the CA correctly ruled, the grounds cited—unreasonable and oppressive—are proper for subpoena ad duces tecum or for the production of documents and things in the possession of the witness, a command that has a tendency to infringe on the right against invasion of privacy. Section 4, Rule 21 of the Rules of Civil Procedure, thus provides:
SECTION 4. Quashing a subpoena. — The court may quash a subpoena duces tecum upon motion promptly made and, in any event, at or before the time specified therein if it is unreasonable and oppressive, or the relevancy of the books, documents or things does not appear, or if the person in whose behalf the subpoena is issued fails to advance the reasonable cost of the production thereof.
Notably, the Court previously decided in the related case of Lee v. Court of Appeals6 that the Lee-Keh children have the right to file the action for correction of entries in the certificates of birth of Lee’s other children, Emma Lee included. The Court recognized that the ultimate object of the suit was to establish the fact that Lee’s other children were not children of Keh. Thus:
It is precisely the province of a special proceeding such as the one outlined under Rule 108 of the Revised Rules of Court to establish the status or right of a party, or a particular fact. The petitions filed by private respondents for the correction of entries in the petitioners' records of birth were intended to establish that for physical and/or biological reasons it was impossible for Keh Shiok Cheng to have conceived and given birth to the petitioners as shown in their birth records. Contrary to petitioners' contention that the petitions before the lower courts were actually actions to impugn legitimacy, the prayer therein is not to declare that petitioners are illegitimate children of Keh Shiok Cheng, but to establish that the former are not the latter's children. There is nothing to impugn as there is no blood relation at all between Keh Shiok Cheng and petitioners.7 (Underscoring supplied)
Taking in mind the ultimate purpose of the Lee-Keh children’s action, obviously, they would want Tiu to testify or admit that she is the mother of Lee’s other children, including petitioner Emma Lee. Keh had died and so could not give testimony that Lee’s other children were not hers. The Lee-Keh children have, therefore, a legitimate reason for seeking Tiu’s testimony and, normally, the RTC cannot deprive them of their right to compel the attendance of such a material witness.
But petitioner Emma Lee raises two other objections to requiring Tiu to come to court and testify: a) considering her advance age, testifying in court would subject her to harsh physical and emotional stresses; and b) it would violate her parental right not to be compelled to testify against her stepdaughter.
1. Regarding the physical and emotional punishment that would be inflicted on Tiu if she were compelled at her age and condition to come to court to testify, petitioner Emma Lee must establish this claim to the satisfaction of the trial court. About five years have passed from the time the Lee-Keh children sought the issuance of a subpoena for Tiu to appear before the trial court. The RTC would have to update itself and determine if Tiu’s current physical condition makes her fit to undergo the ordeal of coming to court and being questioned. If she is fit, she must obey the subpoena issued to her.
Tiu has no need to worry that the oral examination might subject her to badgering by adverse counsel. The trial court’s duty is to protect every witness against oppressive behavior of an examiner and this is especially true where the witness is of advanced age.8
2. Tiu claimed before the trial court the right not to testify against her stepdaughter, petitioner Emma Lee, invoking Section 25, Rule 130 of the Rules of Evidence, which reads:
SECTION 25. Parental and filial privilege.- No person may be compelled to testify against his parents, other direct ascendants, children or other direct descendants.
The above is an adaptation from a similar provision in Article 315 of the Civil Code that applies only in criminal cases. But those who revised the Rules of Civil Procedure chose to extend the prohibition to all kinds of actions, whether civil, criminal, or administrative, filed against parents and other direct ascendants or descendants.
But here Tiu, who invokes the filial privilege, claims that she is the stepmother of petitioner Emma Lee. The privilege cannot apply to them because the rule applies only to "direct" ascendants and descendants, a family tie connected by a common ancestry.1avvphi1 A stepdaughter has no common ancestry by her stepmother. Article 965 thus provides:
Art. 965. The direct line is either descending or ascending. The former unites the head of the family with those who descend from him. The latter binds a person with those from whom he descends.
Consequently, Tiu can be compelled to testify against petitioner Emma Lee.
x x x."
G.R. No. 177861 July 13, 2010
IN RE: PETITION FOR CANCELLATION AND CORRECTION OF ENTRIES IN THE RECORD OF BIRTH,
EMMA K. LEE, Petitioner,
COURT OF APPEALS, RITA K. LEE, LEONCIO K. LEE, LUCIA K. LEE-ONG, JULIAN K. LEE, MARTIN K. LEE, ROSA LEE-VANDERLEK, MELODY LEE-CHIN, HENRY K. LEE, NATIVIDAD LEE-MIGUEL, VICTORIANO K. LEE, and THOMAS K. LEE, represented by RITA K. LEE, as Attorney-in-Fact, Respondents.