Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Legal lessons from GMA 7’s “First Time” (presumption of legitimacy and simulation of birth)

Last night, while waiting for the 6:30 PM television news programs, I caught several scenes of the “First Time” teledrama that has reportedly captured the hearts of millions of Filipino teenagers. From what little I saw and heard last night, it seems that Cyndi, the main character played by Barbie Forteza, is not the real daughter of her parents played by Ian Veneracion and I don’t know who. It seems that Cyndi’s mother cruelly told her (and as Ian’s character later on verified) that she wasn’t their real child. I’m not sure if this is what the story is all about and how events will unfold. But there are several legal lessons we can learn:

1. If Cyndi’s parents simply got a birth certificate and made it appear that they were her biological parents, then they have committed “simulation of birth”. This is a criminal offense under the Revised Penal Code and RA 8552 Domestic Adoption Act of 1998. Please read my post “Procedures in RA 8552 domestic adoption and RA 8043 inter-country adoption; misinterpretation of RA 9523”. The penalty for simulation of birth under RA 8552 is imprisonment of six years and one day minimum to eight years maximum. There is also a fine not exceeding fifty thousand pesos (P50,000.00).

It is estimated that there have been more than 100,000 cases of simulation of birth in the Philippines. Why do people resort to simulation of birth? For several reasons: either

  • they don’t know that this is illegal, all the while they think that they are legally adopting the child; or
  • they do not want to go through the legal process of adoption which takes time and money.
2. If “simulation of birth” isn’t what the writers of “First Time” want to develop in the story, then they would have to consider Article 167 of the Family Code. The article states: “The child shall be considered legitimate although the mother may have declared against its legitimacy or may have been sentenced as an adulteress.”

Please take time to read my posts “If a wife gets pregnant by a man not her husband, will the child be legitimate or illegitimate?” and “DNA testing to prove legitimacy or illegitimacy of children”.

Let me see, what excuse besides waiting for the 6:30 news programs can I use to watch how the story in “First Time” will develop tonight?