Friday, November 28, 2008

Lawyer: Patrick can’t force Jennylyn

By Gerry Plaza
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 18:38:00 11/27/2008


MANILA, Philippines—While Patrick Garcia remains unable to see his son with actress Jennylyn Mercado, the actor’s mother has indicated they were not discounting an option to pursue legal action in order to assert visitation rights.

Bing Garcia said in an interview with GMA 7’s “Showbiz Central” last Sunday that she was urging her son to choose the “legal way” in order to see his child Alex Jazz or “AJ”.

“My advice naman kay Pat eh na kung ganyan, mahirap mag-plano pag gagawin mo sa pilit. Mamimilit ka ng tao. Kung gusto niya talaga, meron namang mga legal means na parang hindi naman ikaw masasama na parang tatanggapin naman nung kabilang party [My advice for Pat is not to force the issue without seeking legal means, which the other party should accept],” she said in the televised interview.

But is legal redress an option in Garcia’s case?

Granting of visitation rights to illegitimate parents is a gray area in law, lawyer Gaby Concepcion told INQUIRER.net. “The general rule in the case of illegitimate children is that parental authority and custody is given to the mother,” Concepcion said. “There is nothing in the Family Code that specifically gives an illegitimate father visitation rights.”

But Concepcion stressed that Garcia can cite “Silva vs Court of Appeals, wherein the Supreme Court granted visitation rights to an illegitimate father on the ground that parents have the natural right to care for their children.”

However, Concepcion clarified that in this particular case, “There was no problem with the acknowledgment or recognition of the illegitimate child of the parties.” In Garcia and Mercado’s case, the mother refuses the acknowledgment and Concepcion said, “I don’t think the mother can be forced to accept the acknowledgment without her consent. Having sole parental authority while the child is a minor will be her call.”

In addition, she said that the Family Code of the Philippines only provides a way for “illegitimate children can ask for recognition” from the illegitimate father “and not the other way around.”

Mercado had repeatedly refused to allow Garcia to visit their child. In several media interviews, Mercado mentioned that she was the only parent of AJ and that she intends to raise him alone.

AJ carries the family name “Mercado” in his birth certificate.

Garcia and Mercado parted ways a few months after the actress announced her pregnancy in January. Reports said the separation was due to endless bickering over several matters, including rumors that Mercado’s ex-boyfriend and screen partner Mark Herras, not Garcia, was the father of the child. Mercado had stated Garcia was the father.

With Bayani San Diego, Jr.

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