Facts: Maria Paz Cordero-Ouye and Reynaldo Eslao were married of whom two children were begotten, namely, Leslie and Angelica Eslao. Leslie was entrusted to the care and custody of Maria, while Angelica stayed with the husband’s mother, Teresita. When Reynaldo died, Maria intended to bring Angelica with her to Pampanga but Teresita prevailed upon her to entrust the custody of Angelica to her, she reasoned out that her son just died and to assuage her grief therefor, she needed the company of the child to at least compensate for the loss of her late son. Maria got married to certain Dr. James Ouye and migrated to San Francisco, California, USA, joining her new husband. Maria then returned to the Philippines to be reunited with her children and bring them to the United States; she then informed Teresita about her desire to take custody of Angelica and explained that her present husband expressed his willingness to adopt Leslie and Angelica and to provide for their support and education. However, Teresita resisted the idea by way of explaining that the child was entrusted to her when she was ten days old and accused Maria of having abandoned Angelica.
Issue: Whether or not the mother have the right to the custody of her daughter.
Ruling: The court reiterated its ruling in Santos, Sr. vs. Court of Appeals, that parental authority is a mass of rights and obligations which the law grants to parents for the purpose of the children’s physical preservation and development, as well as the cultivation of their intellect and the education of their heart and senses. As regards parental authority, ‘there is no power, but a task; no complex of rights, but a sum of duties; no sovereignty but a sacred trust for the welfare of the minor. Parental authority and responsibility are inalienable and may not be transferred or renounced except in cases authorized by law. The right attached to parental authority, being purely personal, the law allows a waiver of parental authority only in cases of adoption, guardianship and surrender to a children’s home or an orphan institution. When a parent entrusts the custody of a minor to another, such as a friend or godfather, even in a document, what is given is merely temporary custody and it does not constitute a renunciation of parental authority. Even if a definite renunciation is manifest, the law still disallows the same.
Thus, in the instant petition, when private respondent entrusted the custody of her minor child to the petitioner, what she gave to the latter was merely temporary custody and it did not constitute abandonment or renunciation of parental authority. For the right attached to parental authority, being purely personal, the law allows a waiver of parental authority only in cases of adoption, guardianship and surrender to a children’s home or an orphan institution which do not appear in the case at bar.
Of considerable importance is the rule long accepted by the courts that the right of parents to the custody of their minor children is one of the natural rights incident to parenthood, a right supported by law and sound public policy. The right is an inherent one, which is not created by the state or decisions of the courts, but derives from the nature of the parental relationship.