Petition For A Writ Of Amparo Is Not A Proper Remedy To Obtain Parental Authority And Custody Of A Minor Child

Petitioner Ma. Christina Yusay Caram (Christina) had an amorous relationship with Marcelino Gicano Constantino III (Marcelino) and eventu...

Petitioner Ma. Christina Yusay Caram (Christina) had an amorous relationship with Marcelino Gicano Constantino III (Marcelino) and eventually became pregnant with the latter’s child without the benefit of marriage. After getting pregnant, Christina mislead Marcelino into believing that she had an abortion when in fact she proceeded to complete the term of her pregnancy. Christina gave birth to Baby Julian and later voluntarily surrendered the child by way of a Deed of Voluntary Commitment to the DSWD. Marcelino suffered a heart attack and died without knowing about the birth of his son.

The DSWD, through Secretary Esperanza I. Cabral issued a certificate declaring Baby Julian as "Legally Available for Adoption." Baby Julian was "matched" with the spouses Vergel and Filomina Medina (Medina Spouses) of the Kaisahang Bahay Foundation.

Christina who had changed her mind about the adoption, wrote a letter to the DSWD asking for the suspension of Baby Julian’s adoption proceedings. However, DSWD Assistant Secretary Cabrera stated that should Christina wish to reacquire her parental authority over Baby Julian or halt the adoption process, she may bring the matter to the regular courts as the reglementary period for her to regain her parental rights had already lapsed under Section 7 of Republic Act (R.A.) No. 9523.

Christina filed a petition for the issuance of a writ of amparo before the RTC of Quezon City seeking to obtain custody of Baby Julian. In her petition, Christina accused respondents of "blackmailing" her into surrendering custody of her childto the DSWD utilizing what she claims to be an invalid certificate of availability for adoption which respondents allegedly used as basis to misrepresent that all legal requisites for adoption of the minor child had been complied with. She argued that by making these misrepresentations, the respondents had acted beyond the scope of their legal authority thereby causing the enforced disappearance of the said child and depriving her of her custodial rights and parental authority over him.

However, RTC dismissed her petition. Hence, petitioner Christina directly elevated the case to the supreme court via petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court.

Is the petition for a writ of amparo the proper remedy for petitioner Christina to regain the custody of her minor child?

The petition for a writ of amparo is NOT the proper remedy for petitioner Christina to regain the custody of the child. Section 1 of the Rule on the Writ of Amparo provides that: The petition for a writ of amparo is a remedy available to any person whose right to life, liberty and security is violated or threatened with violation by an unlawful actor omission of a public official or employee, or of a private individual or entity. The writ shall cover extralegal killings and enforced disappearances or threats thereof.

The AmparoRule was intended to address the intractable problem of "extralegal killings" and "enforced disappearances," its coverage, in its present form, is confined to these two instances or to threats thereof. "Extralegal killings" are "killings committed without due process of law, i.e., without legal safeguards or judicial proceedings." On the other hand, "enforced disappearances" are "attended by the following characteristics: an arrest, detention or abduction of a person by a government official or organized groupsor private individuals acting with the direct or indirect acquiescence of the government; the refusal of the State to disclose the fate or whereabouts of the person concerned or a refusal to acknowledge the deprivation of liberty which places such persons outside the protection of law.

In this case, Christina alleged that the respondent DSWD officers caused her "enforced separation" from Baby Julian and that their action amounted to an "enforced disappearance" within the context of the Amparo rule. Contrary to her position, however, the respondent DSWD officers never concealed Baby Julian's whereabouts. Christina's directly accusing the respondents of forcibly separating her from her child and placing the latter up for adoption, supposedly without complying with the necessary legal requisites to qualify the child for adoption, clearly indicates that she is not searching for a lost child but asserting her parental authority over the child and contesting custody over him.

Since it is extant from the pleadings filed that what is involved is the issue of child custody and the exercise of parental rights over a child, who, for all intents and purposes, has been legally considered a ward of the State, the Amparo rule cannot be properly applied.

To reiterate, the privilege of the writ of amparo is a remedy available to victims of extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearances or threats of a similar nature, regardless of whether the perpetrator of the unlawful act or omission is a public official or employee or a private individual. It is envisioned basically to protect and guarantee the right to life, liberty and security of persons, free from fears and threats that vitiate the quality of life.

G.R. No. 193652 , August 5, 2014
Infant JULIAN YUSA Y CARAM, represented by his mother, MA. CHRISTINA YUSAY CARAM, Petitioner, vs. Atty. MARIJOY D. SEGUI, Atty. SALLY D. ESCUTIN, VILMA B. CABRERA, and CELIA C. YANGCO, Respondents.


The author takes no responsibility for the validity, correctness and result of this work. The information provided is not a legal advice and it should not be used  as a substitute for a competent legal advice from a licensed lawyer. See the disclaimer

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