Parental and Filial Privilege Meaning:
A person cannot be compelled to testify against his parents, other direct ascendants, children or other direct descendants.
This section is an expanded amendment of the former provision found in Section 20 (e), a disqualification by reason of relationship which, in turn, was reproduced from Art. 315 of the Civil Code.
It was not correctly a rule of disqualification, as the descendant was not incompetent or disqualified to testify against his ascendants, but was actually a privilege to testify, hence it was referred to as “filial privilege”.
However, under the Family Code, the descendant may be compelled to testify against his parents and grandparents, if such testimony is indispensable in prosecuting a crime against the descendant by one parent against the other (Art. 215).
Under the present formulation, both parental and filial privileges are granted to any person, which privileges against compulsory testimony he can invoke in any case against any of his parents, direct ascendants, children or direct descendants.
Reason for the Rule
The reason for the rule is to preserve “family cohesion” deploring the lack of this provision under former laws as doing violence to the most sacred sentiments between members of the same family.”
NOTE: The privilege may now be invoked in both civil and criminal cases.
Bar Examination 1998
C is the child of the spouses H and W. H sued his wife W for judicial declaration of nullity of marriage under Article 36 of the Family Code. In the trial, the following testified over the objection of W: C, H and D, a doctor of medicine who used to treat W. Rule on W's objections which are the following:
1. H cannot testify against her because of the rule on marital privilege; (1%)
2. C cannot testify against her because of the doctrine on parental privilege; and (2%)
3. D cannot testify against her because of the doctrine of privileged communication between patient and physician. (2%)
1. The rule of marital privilege cannot be invoked in the annulment case under Rule 36 of the Family Code because it is a civil case filed by one against the other. (Sec. 22 Rule 130 Rules of Court)
2. The doctrine of parental privilege cannot likewise be invoked by W as against the testimony of C, their child. C may not be compelled to testify but is free to testify against her. (Sec. 25 Rule 130 Rules of Court / Art. 215 Family Code)
3. D, as a doctor who used to treat W, is disqualified to testify against W over her objection as to any advice or treatment given by him or any information which he may have acquired in his professional capacity. (Sec. 24 (c) Rule 130 Rules of Court)
If the doctor's testimony is pursuant to the requirement of establishing the psychological incapacity of W, and he is the expert called upon to testify for the purpose, then it should be allowed. (Republic vs. Court of Appeals and Molina, 26S SCRA 198.)
People v. Zheng Bai Hi
The failure of a witness to take an oath prior to his testimony is a defect that may be waived by the parties.
Cavili v. Fernando
The specific enumeration of disqualified witnesses in the ROC is understood to exclude the operation of causes of disability other than those mentioned therein.