Respondent Rita C. Quiao filed a complaint for legal separation against petitioner Brigido B. Quiao. Subsequently, the RTC rendered a Decision granting the same and custody of the minor children were awarded to Rita. Their property as enumerated was to be divided among the spouses equally subject to the respective legitimes of the children and the payment of the unpaid conjugal liabilities. Brigido’s share of the net profits earned by the conjugal partnership is forfeited in favor of the common children.He was further ordered to reimburse the sum of [P]19,000.00 as attorney’s fees and litigation expenses of P 5,000.00.
Petitioner posits that he has a vested right over his shares of the property in the conjugal partnership which was violated by the Court’s order of the forfeiture of the same to his children.
What is “vested right” from the perspective of the due process clause? Was petitioner’s “vested right” over half of the common properties of the conjugal partnership violated when the trial court forfeited them in favor of his children pursuant to Article 63 (2) and 129 of the Family Code?
In the en banc Resolution dated October 18, 2005 for ABAKADA Guro Party List Officer Samson S. Alcantara, et al. v. The Hon. Executive Secretary Eduardo R. Ermita,it was held that:
The concept of “vested right” is a consequence of the constitutional guaranty of due process that expresses a present fixed interest which in right reason and natural justice is protected against arbitrary state action; it includes not only legal or equitable title to the enforcement of a demand but also exemptions from new obligations created after the right has become vested.
Rights are considered vested when the right to enjoyment is a present interest, absolute, unconditional, and perfect or fixed and irrefutable. From the foregoing, it is clear that while one may not be deprived of his “vested right,” he may lose the same if there is due process and such deprivation is founded in law and jurisprudence.
In the present case, the petitioner was accorded his right to due process.
First, he was well-aware that the respondent prayed in her complaint that all of the conjugal properties be awarded to her.
Second, when the Decision was promulgated, the petitioner never questioned the trial court’s ruling forfeiting what the trial court termed as “net profits,” pursuant to Article 129(7) of the Family Code. Thus, the petitioner cannot claim being deprived of his right to due process.