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FIRST DIVISIONTHIRD DIVISION

[G.R. No. 149498. May 20, 2004]


REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioner, vs. LOLITA QUINTERO-HAMANO, respondent.
D E C I S I O N
CORONA, J.:
Before us is a petition for review of the decision1[1] dated August 20, 2001 of the Court of Appeals2[2] affirming the decision3[3] dated August
28, 1997 of the Regional Trial Court of Rizal, Branch 72, declaring as null and void the marriage contracted between herein respondent Lolita M.
Quintero-Hamano and her husband Toshio Hamano.
On June 17, 1996, respondent Lolita Quintero-Hamano filed a complaint for declaration of nullity of her marriage to her husband Toshio
Hamano, a Japanese national, on the ground of psychological incapacity.
Respondent alleged that in October 1986, she and Toshio started a common-law relationship in Japan. They later lived in the Philippines for a
month. Thereafter, Toshio went back to Japan and stayed there for half of 1987. On November 16, 1987, she gave birth to their child.
On January 14, 1988, she and Toshio were married by Judge Isauro M. Balderia of the Municipal Trial Court of Bacoor, Cavite. Unknown to
respondent, Toshio was psychologically incapacitated to assume his marital responsibilities, which incapacity became manifest only after the
marriage. One month after their marriage, Toshio returned to Japan and promised to return by Christmas to celebrate the holidays with his
family. After sending money to respondent for two months, Toshio stopped giving financial support. She wrote him several times but he never
responded. Sometime in 1991, respondent learned from her friends that Toshio visited the Philippines but he did not bother to see her and their
child.
The summons issued to Toshio remained unserved because he was no longer residing at his given address. Consequently, on July 8, 1996,
respondent filed an ex parte motion for leave to effect service of summons by publication. The trial court granted the motion on July 12, 1996. In
August 1996, the summons, accompanied by a copy of the petition, was published in a newspaper of general circulation giving Toshio 15 days to
file his answer. Because Toshio failed to file a responsive pleading after the lapse of 60 days from publication, respondent filed a motion dated
November 5, 1996 to refer the case to the prosecutor for investigation. The trial court granted the motion on November 7, 1996.
On November 20, 1996, prosecutor Rolando I. Gonzales filed a report finding that no collusion existed between the parties. He prayed that the
Office of the Provincial Prosecutor be allowed to intervene to ensure that the evidence submitted was not fabricated. On February 13, 1997, the
trial court granted respondents motion to present her evidence ex parte. She then testified on how Toshio abandoned his family. She thereafter
offered documentary evidence to support her testimony.
On August 28, 1997, the trial court rendered a decision, the dispositive portion of which read:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the marriage between petitioner Lolita M. Quintero-Hamano and Toshio Hamano, is hereby declared
NULL and VOID.
The Civil Register of Bacoor, Cavite and the National Statistics Office are ordered to make proper entries into the records of the afore-named
parties pursuant to this judgment of the Court.
SO ORDERED.4[4]
In declaring the nullity of the marriage on the ground of Toshios psychological incapacity, the trial court held that:

1[1] Penned by Associate Justice Jose L. Sabio, and concurred in by Associate Justices Cancio C. Garcia and Hilarion Aquino; Rollo, pp. 24-31.
2[2] Second Division.
3[3] Penned by Judge Rogelio Angeles; Rollo, pp. 32-33.
4[4] Rollo, p. 33.
It is clear from the records of the case that respondent spouses failed to fulfill his obligations as husband of the petitioner and father to his
daughter. Respondent remained irresponsible and unconcerned over the needs and welfare of his family. Such indifference, to the mind of the
Court, is a clear manifestation of insensitivity and lack of respect for his wife and child which characterizes a very immature person. Certainly,
such behavior could be traced to respondents mental incapacity and disability of entering into marital life.5[5]
The Office of the Solicitor General, representing herein petitioner Republic of the Philippines, appealed to the Court of Appeals but the same was
denied in a decision dated August 28, 1997, the dispositive portion of which read:
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, and pursuant to applicable law and jurisprudence on the matter and evidence on hand, judgment is
hereby rendered denying the instant appeal. The decision of the court a quo is AFFIRMED. No costs.
SO ORDERED.6[6]
The appellate court found that Toshio left respondent and their daughter a month after the celebration of the marriage, and returned to Japan with
the promise to support his family and take steps to make them Japanese citizens. But except for two months, he never sent any support to nor
communicated with them despite the letters respondent sent. He even visited the Philippines but he did not bother to see them. Respondent, on
the other hand, exerted all efforts to contact Toshio, to no avail.
The appellate court thus concluded that respondent was psychologically incapacitated to perform his marital obligations to his family, and to
observe mutual love, respect and fidelity, and render mutual help and support pursuant to Article 68 of the Family Code of the Philippines. The
appellate court rhetorically asked:
But what is there to preserve when the other spouse is an unwilling party to the cohesion and creation of a family as a social inviolable
institution? Why should petitioner be made to suffer in a marriage where the other spouse is not around and worse, left them without even helping
them cope up with family life and assist in the upbringing of their daughter as required under Articles 68 to 71 of the Family Code?7[7]
The appellate court emphasized that this case could not be equated with Republic vs. Court of Appeals and Molina8[8] and Santos vs. Court of
Appeals.9[9] In those cases, the spouses were Filipinos while this case involved a mixed marriage, the husband being a Japanese national.
Hence, this appeal by petitioner Republic based on this lone assignment of error:
I
The Court of Appeals erred in holding that respondent was able to prove the psychological incapacity of Toshio Hamano to perform his marital
obligations, despite respondents failure to comply with the guidelines laid down in the Molina case.10[10]
According to petitioner, mere abandonment by Toshio of his family and his insensitivity to them did not automatically constitute psychological
incapacity. His behavior merely indicated simple inadequacy in the personality of a spouse falling short of reasonable expectations. Respondent
failed to prove any severe and incurable personality disorder on the part of Toshio, in accordance with the guidelines set in Molina.
The Office of the Public Attorney, representing respondent, reiterated the ruling of the courts a quo and sought the denial of the instant petition.
We rule in favor of petitioner.
The Court is mindful of the policy of the 1987 Constitution to protect and strengthen the family as the basic autonomous social institution and
marriage as the foundation of the family.11[11] Thus, any doubt should be resolved in favor of the validity of the marriage.12[12]

5[5] Rollo, p. 52.
6[6] Rollo, p. 30.
7[7] Rollo, p. 29.
8[8] 268 SCRA 198 [1997].
9[9] 240 SCRA 20 [1995].
10[10] Rollo, p. 14.
Respondent seeks to annul her marriage with Toshio on the ground of psychological incapacity. Article 36 of the Family Code of the Philippines
provides that:
Art. 36. A marriage contracted by any party who, at the time of the celebration, was psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential
marital obligations of marriage, shall likewise be void even if such incapacity becomes manifest only after its solemnization.
In Molina, we came up with the following guidelines in the interpretation and application of Article 36 for the guidance of the bench and the bar:
(1) The burden of proof to show the nullity of the marriage belongs to the plaintiff. Any doubt should be resolved in favor of the existence and
continuation of the marriage and against its dissolution and nullity. This is rooted in the fact that both our Constitution and our laws cherish the
validity of marriage and unity of the family. x x x
(2) The root cause of the psychological incapacity must be: (a) medically or clinically identified, (b) alleged in the complaint, (c)
sufficiently proven by experts and (d) clearly explained in the decision. Article 36 of the Family Code requires that the incapacity must be
psychological - not physical, although its manifestations and/or symptoms may be physical. The evidence must convince the court that the
parties, or one of them, was mentally or psychically ill to such an extent that the person could not have known the obligations he was assuming,
or knowing them, could not have given valid assumption thereof. Although no example of such incapacity need be given here so as not to limit
the application of the provision under the principle of ejusdem generis (Salita vs. Magtolis, 233 SCRA 100, June 13, 1994), nevertheless such
root cause must be identified as a psychological illness and its incapacitating nature fully explained. Expert evidence may be given by qualified
psychiatrists and clinical psychologists.
(3) The incapacity must be proven to be existing at the time of the celebration of the marriage. The evidence must show that the illness was
existing when the parties exchanged their I dos. The manifestation of the illness need not be perceivable at such time, but the illness itself must
have attached at such moment, or prior thereto.
(4) Such incapacity must also be shown to be medically or clinically permanent or incurable. Such incurability may be absolute or even relative
only in regard to the other spouse, not necessarily absolutely against everyone of the same sex. Furthermore, such incapacity must be relevant to
the assumption of marriage obligations, not necessarily to those not related to marriage, like the exercise of a profession or employment in a job.
Hence, a pediatrician may be effective in diagnosing illnesses of children and prescribing medicine to cure them but may not be psychologically
capacitated to procreate, bear and raise his/her own children as an essential obligation of marriage.
(5) Such illness must be grave enough to bring about the disability of the party to assume the essential obligations of marriage. Thus, mild
characteriological peculiarities, mood changes, occasional emotional outbursts cannot be accepted as root causes. The illness must be shown as
downright incapacity or inability, not a refusal, neglect or difficulty, much less ill will. In other words, there is a natal or supervening disabling
factor in the person, an adverse integral element in the personality structure that effectively incapacitates the person from really accepting and
thereby complying with the obligations essential to marriage.
(6) The essential marital obligations must be those embraced by Articles 68 up to 71 of the Family Code as regards the husband and wife as well
as Articles 220, 221 and 225 of the same Code in regard to parents and their children. Such non-complied marital obligation(s) must also be
stated in the petition, proven by evidence and included in the text of the decision.
(7) Interpretations given by the National Appellate Matrimonial Tribunal of the Catholic Church in the Philippines, while not controlling or
decisive, should be given great respect by our courts. x x x
(8) The trial court must order the prosecuting attorney or fiscal and the Solicitor General to appear as counsel for the state. No decision shall be
handed down unless the Solicitor General issues a certification, which will be quoted in the decision, briefly stating therein his reasons for his
agreement or opposition, as the case may be, to the petition. The Solicitor-General, along with the prosecuting attorney, shall submit to the court
such certification within fifteen (15) days from the date the case is deemed submitted for resolution of the court. The Solicitor-General shall
discharge the equivalent function of the defensor vinculi contemplated under Canon 1095.13[13] (emphasis supplied)
The guidelines incorporate the three basic requirements earlier mandated by the Court in Santos: psychological incapacity must be characterized
by (a) gravity (b) juridical antecedence and (c) incurability.14[14] The foregoing guidelines do not require that a physician examine the person
to be declared psychologically incapacitated. In fact, the root cause may be medically or clinically identified. What is important is the presence

11[11] Article II, Section 12; and, Article XV, Sections 1 & 2 of the 1987 Philippine Constitution.
12[12] Republic of the Philippines vs. Dagdag, 351 SCRA 425 [2001] citing Republic of the Philippines vs. Hernandez, 320 SCRA 76 [1999].
13[13] Supra, Note 8, pp. 209-212.
14[14] Supra, Note 9, p. 33.
of evidence that can adequately establish the partys psychological condition. For indeed, if the totality of evidence presented is enough to
sustain a finding of psychological incapacity, then actual medical examination of the person concerned need not be resorted to.15[15]
We now proceed to determine whether respondent successfully proved Toshios psychological incapacity to fulfill his marital responsibilities.
Petitioner showed that Toshio failed to meet his duty to live with, care for and support his family. He abandoned them a month after his marriage
to respondent. Respondent sent him several letters but he never replied. He made a trip to the Philippines but did not care at all to see his family.
We find that the totality of evidence presented fell short of proving that Toshio was psychologically incapacitated to assume his marital
responsibilities. Toshios act of abandonment was doubtlessly irresponsible but it was never alleged nor proven to be due to some kind of
psychological illness. After respondent testified on how Toshio abandoned his family, no other evidence was presented showing that his behavior
was caused by a psychological disorder. Although, as a rule, there was no need for an actual medical examination, it would have greatly helped
respondents case had she presented evidence that medically or clinically identified his illness. This could have been done through an expert
witness. This respondent did not do.
We must remember that abandonment is also a ground for legal separation.16[16] There was no showing that the case at bar was not just an
instance of abandonment in the context of legal separation. We cannot presume psychological defect from the mere fact that Toshio abandoned
his family immediately after the celebration of the marriage. As we ruled in Molina, it is not enough to prove that a spouse failed to meet his
responsibility and duty as a married person; it is essential that he must be shown to be incapable of doing so due to some psychological, not
physical, illness.17[17] There was no proof of a natal or supervening disabling factor in the person, an adverse integral element in the personality
structure that effectively incapacitates a person from accepting and complying with the obligations essential to marriage.18[18]
According to the appellate court, the requirements in Molina and Santos do not apply here because the present case involves a mixed marriage,
the husband being a Japanese national. We disagree. In proving psychological incapacity, we find no distinction between an alien spouse and a
Filipino spouse. We cannot be lenient in the application of the rules merely because the spouse alleged to be psychologically incapacitated
happens to be a foreign national. The medical and clinical rules to determine psychological incapacity were formulated on the basis of studies of
human behavior in general. Hence, the norms used for determining psychological incapacity should apply to any person regardless of nationality.
In Pesca vs. Pesca,19[19] this Court declared that marriage is an inviolable social institution that the State cherishes and protects. While we
commiserate with respondent, terminating her marriage to her husband may not necessarily be the fitting denouement.
WHEREFORE, the petition for review is hereby GRANTED. The decision dated August 28, 1997 of the Court of Appeals is hereby
REVERSED and SET ASIDE.
SO ORDERED.
Vitug, (Chairman and Acting Chief Justice), Sandoval-Gutierrez, and Carpio-Morales, JJ., concur.





15[15] Marcos vs. Marcos, 343 SCRA 755, 764 [2000].
16[16] Article 55 (10) of the Family Code of the Philippines provides that:
Art. 55. A petition for legal separation may be filed on any of the following grounds:
xxx xxx xxx
(10) Abandonment of petitioner by respondent without justifiable cause for more than one year.
17[17] Supra, Note 8, p. 210.
18[18] Ibid., pp. 211-212.
19[19] 356 SCRA 588, 594 [2001].
[G.R. No. 151867. January 29, 2004]
DAVID B. DEDEL, petitioner, vs. COURT OF APPEALS and SHARON L. CORPUZ-DEDEL a.k.a. JANE IBRAHIM, respondents.
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, oppositor-respondent.
D E C I S I O N
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:
Petitioner David B. Dedel met respondent Sharon L. Corpuz Dedel while he was working in the advertising business of his father. The
acquaintance led to courtship and romantic relations, culminating in the exchange of marital vows before the City Court of Pasay on September
28, 1966.20[1] The civil marriage was ratified in a church wedding on May 20, 1967.21[2]
The union produced four children, namely: Beverly Jane, born on September 18, 1968;22[3] Stephanie Janice born on September 9, 1969;23[4]
Kenneth David born on April 24, 1971;24[5] and Ingrid born on October 20, 1976.25[6] The conjugal partnership, nonetheless, acquired neither
property nor debt.
Petitioner avers that during the marriage, Sharon turned out to be an irresponsible and immature wife and mother. She had extra-marital affairs
with several men: a dentist in the Armed Forces of the Philippines; a Lieutenant in the Presidential Security Command and later a Jordanian
national.
Sharon was once confirmed in the Manila Medical City for treatment by Dr. Lourdes Lapuz, a clinical psychiatrist. Petitioner alleged that despite
the treatment, Sharon did not stop her illicit relationship with the Jordanian national named Mustafa Ibrahim, whom she married and with whom
she had two children. However, when Mustafa Ibrahim left the country, Sharon returned to petitioner bringing along her two children by
Ibrahim. Petitioner accepted her back and even considered the two illegitimate children as his own. Thereafter, on December 9, 1995, Sharon
abandoned petitioner to join Ibrahim in Jordan with their two children. Since then, Sharon would only return to the country on special occasions.
Finally, giving up all hope of a reconciliation with Sharon, petitioner filed on April 1, 1997 a petition seeking the declaration of nullity of his
marriage on the ground of psychological incapacity, as defined in Article 36 of the Family Code, before the Regional Trial Court of Makati City,
Branch 149. Summons was effected by publication in the Pilipino Star Ngayon, a newspaper of general circulation in the country considering
that Sharon did not reside and could not be found in the Philippines.26[7]
Petitioner presented Dr. Natividad A. Dayan, who testified that she conducted a psychological evaluation of petitioner and found him to be
conscientious, hardworking, diligent, a perfectionist who wants all tasks and projects completed up to the final detail and who exerts his best in
whatever he does.
On the other hand, Dr. Dayan declared that Sharon was suffering from Anti-Social Personality Disorder exhibited by her blatant display of
infidelity; that she committed several indiscretions and had no capacity for remorse, even bringing with her the two children of Mustafa Ibrahim
to live with petitioner. Such immaturity and irresponsibility in handling the marriage like her repeated acts of infidelity and abandonment of her
family are indications of Anti-Social Personality Disorder amounting to psychological incapacity to perform the essential obligations of
marriage.27[8]

20[1] Exhibits F and F-3.
21[2] Exhibit F.
22[3] Exhibit H.
23[4] Exhibit I.
24[5] Exhibit J.
25[6] Exhibit K.
26[7] Exhibits D to D-3.
27[8] Exhibit L; Records pp. 57-78.
After trial, judgment was rendered, the dispositive portion of which reads:
WHEREFORE, in the light of the foregoing, the civil and church marriages between DAVID B. DEDEL and SHARON L. CORPUZ celebrated
on September 28, 1966 and May 20, 1967 are hereby declared null and void on the ground of psychological incapacity on the part of the
respondent to perform the essential obligations of marriage under Article 36 of the Family Code.
Accordingly, the conjugal partnership of gains existing between the parties is dissolved and in lieu thereof a regime of complete separation of
property between the said spouses is established in accordance with the pertinent provisions of the Family Code, without prejudice to rights
previously acquired by creditors.
Let a copy of this Decision be duly recorded in the proper civil and property registries in accordance with Article 52 of the Family Code.
SO ORDERED.28[9]
Respondent Republic of the Philippines, through the Solicitor General, appealed alleging that
I
THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN GRANTING THE PETITION DESPITE THE ABSENCE OF A VALID GROUND FOR DECLARATION
OF NULLITY OF MARRIAGE.
II
THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN DECLARING THAT THE CHURCH MARRIAGE BETWEEN PETITIONER IS NULL AND VOID.
III
THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN RENDERING A DECISION WITHOUT A CERTIFICATION HAVING BEEN ISSUED BY THE
SOLICITOR GENERAL AS REQUIRED IN THE MOLINA CASE.
The Court of Appeals recalled and set aside the judgment of the trial court and ordered dismissal of the petition for declaration of nullity of
marriage.29[10]
Petitioners motion for reconsideration was denied in a Resolution dated January 8, 2002.30[11] Hence, the instant petition.
Petitioner contends that the appellate court gravely abused its discretion and manifestly erred in its conclusion that the: (1) respondent was not
suffering from psychological incapacity to perform her marital obligations; (2) psychological incapacity of respondent is not attended by gravity,
juridical antecedence and permanence or incurability; and (3) totality of evidence submitted by the petitioner falls short to prove psychological
incapacity suffered by respondent.
The main question for resolution is whether or not the totality of the evidence presented is enough to sustain a finding that respondent is
psychologically incapacitated. More specifically, does the aberrant sexual behavior of respondent adverted to by petitioner fall within the term
psychological incapacity?
In Santos v. Court of Appeals,31[12] it was ruled:
x x x psychological incapacity should refer to no less than a mental (not physical) incapacity that causes a party to be truly incognitive of the
basic marital covenants that concomitantly must be assumed and discharged by the parties to the marriage which, as so expressed in Article 68 of
the Family Code, include their mutual obligations to live together, observe love, respect and fidelity and render help and support. There is hardly

28[9] Rollo, p. 49; penned by Presiding Judge Josefina Guevarra-Salonga (now an Associate Justice of the Court of Appeals).
29[10] Rollo, pp. 33-44; per Associate Justice Conrado M. Vasquez, Jr., with Associate Justices Martin S. Villarama, Jr. and Eliezer R. Delos
Santos, concurring.
30[11] Rollo, p. 45.
31[12] 310 Phil. 21 (1995).
any doubt that the intendment of the law has been to confine the meaning of psychological incapacity to the most serious cases of personality
disorders clearly demonstrative of an utter insensitivity of inability to give meaning and significance to the marriage. This psychological
condition must exist at the time the marriage is celebrated. The law does not evidently envision, upon the other hand, an inability of the spouse to
have sexual relations with the other. This conclusion is implicit under Article 54 of the Family Code which considers children conceived prior to
the judicial declaration of nullity of the void marriage to be legitimate.
The other forms of psychoses, if existing at the inception of marriage, like the state of a party being of unsound mind or concealment of drug
addiction, habitual alcoholism, homosexuality or lesbianism, merely renders the marriage contract voidable pursuant to Article 46, Family Code.
If drug addiction, habitual alcoholism, lesbianism or homosexuality should occur only during the marriage, they become mere grounds for legal
separation under Article 55 of the Family Code. These provisions, however, do not necessarily preclude the possibility of these various
circumstances being themselves, depending on the degree and severity of the disorder, indicia of psychological incapacity.
Until further statutory and jurisprudential parameters are established, every circumstance that may have some bearing on the degree, extent and
other conditions of that incapacity must, in every case, be carefully examined and evaluated so that no precipitate and indiscriminate nullity is
peremptorily decreed. The well-considered opinion of psychiatrists, psychologists and persons with expertise in psychological disciplines might
be helpful or even desirable.32[13]
The difficulty in resolving the problem lies in the fact that a personality disorder is a very complex and elusive phenomenon which defies easy
analysis and definition. In this case, respondents sexual infidelity can hardly qualify as being mentally or psychically ill to such an extent that
she could not have known the obligations she was assuming, or knowing them, could not have given a valid assumption thereof.33[14] It appears
that respondents promiscuity did not exist prior to or at the inception of the marriage. What is, in fact, disclosed by the records is a blissful
marital union at its celebration, later affirmed in church rites, and which produced four children.
Respondents sexual infidelity or perversion and abandonment do not by themselves constitute psychological incapacity within the contemplation
of the Family Code. Neither could her emotional immaturity and irresponsibility be equated with psychological incapacity.34[15] It must be
shown that these acts are manifestations of a disordered personality which make respondent completely unable to discharge the essential
obligations of the marital state, not merely due to her youth, immaturity35[16] or sexual promiscuity.
At best, the circumstances relied upon by petitioner are grounds for legal separation under Article 5536[17] of the Family Code. However, we
pointed out in Marcos v. Marcos37[18] that Article 36 is not to be equated with legal separation in which the grounds need not be rooted in

32[13] Id., at 40-41.
33[14] Republic v. Dagdag, G.R. No. 109975, 9 February 2001, 351 SCRA 425.
34[15] Pesca v. Pesca, G.R. No. 136921, 17 April 2001, 356 SCRA 588, 594.
35[16] Hernandez v. Court of Appeals, supra, pp. 87-88.
36[17] ART. 55. A petition for legal separation may be filed on any of the following grounds:
(1) Repeated physical violence or grossly abusive conduct directed against the petitioner, a common child or a child of the
petitioner;
(2) Physical violence or moral pressure to compel the petitioner to change religious or political affiliation;
(3) Attempt of respondent to corrupt or induce the petitioner, a common child, or a child of the petitioner, to engage in
prostitution, or connivance in such corruption or inducement;
(4) Final judgment sentencing the respondent to imprisonment of more than six years even if pardoned;
(5) Drug addiction or habitual alcoholism of the respondent;
(6) Lesbianism or homosexuality of the respondent;
(7) Contracting by the respondent of a subsequent bigamous marriage in the Philippines, whether in the Philippines or abroad;
(8) Sexual infidelity or perversion.
(9) Attempt by the respondent against the life of the petitioner; or
psychological incapacity but on physical violence, moral pressure, civil interdiction, drug addiction, habitual alcoholism, sexual infidelity,
abandonment and the like. In short, the evidence presented by petitioner refers only to grounds for legal separation, not for declaring a marriage
void.
We likewise agree with the Court of Appeals that the trial court has no jurisdiction to dissolve the church marriage of petitioner and respondent.
The authority to do so is exclusively lodged with the Ecclesiastical Court of the Roman Catholic Church.
All told, we find no cogent reason to disturb the ruling of the appellate court. We cannot deny the grief, frustration and even desperation of
petitioner in his present situation. Regrettably, there are circumstances, like in this case, where neither law nor society can provide the specific
answers to every individual problem.38[19] While we sympathize with petitioners marital predicament, our first and foremost duty is to apply
the law no matter how harsh it may be.39[20]
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the petition is DENIED. The decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 60406, which
ordered the dismissal of Civil Case No. 97-467 before the Regional Trial Court of Makati, Branch 149, is AFFIRMED. No costs.
SO ORDERED.
Davide, Jr., C.J., (Chairman), Panganiban, and Carpio, JJ., concur.
Azcuna, J., on official leave.




(10) Abandonment of petitioner by respondent without justifiable cause for more than one year.
For purposes of this Article, the term child shall include a child by nature or by adoption.
37[18] G.R. No. 136490, 19 October 2000, 343 SCRA 755, 765.
38[19] Santos v. Court of Appeals, supra, p. 36.
39[20] Pesca v. Pesca, supra.



















lawphil

Today is Monday, September 03, 2012




Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
THIRD DIVISION
G.R. No. 155800 March 10, 2006
LEONILO ANTONIO Petitioner,
vs.
MARIE IVONNE F. REYES, Respondent.
D E C I S I O N
TINGA, J .:
Statistics never lie, but lovers often do, quipped a sage. This sad truth has unsettled many a love transformed into
matrimony. Any sort of deception between spouses, no matter the gravity, is always disquieting. Deceit to the depth and
breadth unveiled in the following pages, dark and irrational as in the modern noir tale, dims any trace of certitude on the
guilty spouses capability to fulfill the marital obligations even more.
The Petition for Review on Certiorari assails the Decision
1
and Resolution
2
of the Court of Appeals dated 29 November
2001 and 24 October 2002. The Court of Appeals had reversed the judgment
3
of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Makati
declaring the marriage of Leonilo N. Antonio (petitioner) and Marie Ivonne F. Reyes (respondent), null and void. After
careful consideration, we reverse and affirm instead the trial court.
Antecedent Facts
Petitioner and respondent met in August 1989 when petitioner was 26 years old and respondent was 36 years of age. Barely
a year after their first meeting, they got married before a minister of the Gospel
4
at the Manila City Hall, and through a
subsequent church wedding
5
at the Sta. Rosa de Lima Parish, Bagong Ilog, Pasig, Metro Manila on 6 December 1990.
6
Out
of their union, a child was born on 19 April 1991, who sadly died five (5) months later.
On 8 March 1993,
7
petitioner filed a petition to have his marriage to respondent declared null and void. He anchored his
petition for nullity on Article 36 of the Family Code alleging that respondent was psychologically incapacitated to comply
with the essential obligations of marriage. He asserted that respondents incapacity existed at the time their marriage was
celebrated and still subsists up to the present.
8

As manifestations of respondents alleged psychological incapacity, petitioner claimed that respondent persistently lied
about herself, the people around her, her occupation, income, educational attainment and other events or things,
9
to wit:
(1) She concealed the fact that she previously gave birth to an illegitimate son,
10
and instead introduced the boy to petitioner
as the adopted child of her family. She only confessed the truth about the boys parentage when petitioner learned about it
from other sources after their marriage.
11

(2) She fabricated a story that her brother-in-law, Edwin David, attempted to rape and kill her when in fact, no such incident
occurred.
12

(3) She misrepresented herself as a psychiatrist to her obstetrician, Dr. Consuelo Gardiner, and told some of her friends that
she graduated with a degree in psychology, when she was neither.
13

(4) She claimed to be a singer or a free-lance voice talent affiliated with Blackgold Recording Company (Blackgold); yet,
not a single member of her family ever witnessed her alleged singing activities with the group. In the same vein, she
postulated that a luncheon show was held at the Philippine Village Hotel in her honor and even presented an invitation to
that effect
14
but petitioner discovered per certification by the Director of Sales of said hotel that no such occasion had taken
place.
15

(5) She invented friends named Babes Santos and Via Marquez, and under those names, sent lengthy letters to petitioner
claiming to be from Blackgold and touting her as the "number one moneymaker" in the commercial industry worth P2
million.
16
Petitioner later found out that respondent herself was the one who wrote and sent the letters to him when she
admitted the truth in one of their quarrels.
17
He likewise realized that Babes Santos and Via Marquez were only figments of
her imagination when he discovered they were not known in or connected with Blackgold.
18

(6) She represented herself as a person of greater means, thus, she altered her payslip to make it appear that she earned a
higher income. She bought a sala set from a public market but told petitioner that she acquired it from a famous furniture
dealer.
19
She spent lavishly on unnecessary items and ended up borrowing money from other people on false pretexts.
20

(7) She exhibited insecurities and jealousies over him to the extent of calling up his officemates to monitor his whereabouts.
When he could no longer take her unusual behavior, he separated from her in August 1991. He tried to attempt a
reconciliation but since her behavior did not change, he finally left her for good in November 1991.
21

In support of his petition, petitioner presented Dr. Dante Herrera Abcede (Dr. Abcede), a psychiatrist, and Dr. Arnulfo V.
Lopez (Dr. Lopez), a clinical psychologist, who stated, based on the tests they conducted, that petitioner was essentially a
normal, introspective, shy and conservative type of person. On the other hand, they observed that respondents persistent
and constant lying
to petitioner was abnormal or pathological. It undermined the basic relationship that should be based on love, trust and
respect.
22
They further asserted that respondents extreme jealousy was also pathological. It reached the point of paranoia
since there was no actual basis for her to suspect that petitioner was having an affair with another woman. They concluded
based on the foregoing that respondent was psychologically incapacitated to perform her essential marital obligations.
23

In opposing the petition, respondent claimed that she performed her marital obligations by attending to all the needs of her
husband. She asserted that there was no truth to the allegation that she fabricated stories, told lies and invented
personalities.
24
She presented her version, thus:
(1) She concealed her child by another man from petitioner because she was afraid of losing her husband.
25

(2) She told petitioner about Davids attempt to rape and kill her because she surmised such intent from Davids act of
touching her back and ogling her from head to foot.
26

(3) She was actually a BS Banking and Finance graduate and had been teaching psychology at the Pasig Catholic School for
two (2) years.
27

(4) She was a free-lance voice talent of Aris de las Alas, an executive producer of Channel 9 and she had done three (3)
commercials with McCann Erickson for the advertisement of Coca-cola, Johnson & Johnson, and Traders Royal Bank. She
told petitioner she was a Blackgold recording artist although she was not under contract with the company, yet she reported
to the Blackgold office after office hours. She claimed that a luncheon show was indeed held in her honor at the Philippine
Village Hotel on 8 December 1979.
28

(5) She vowed that the letters sent to petitioner were not written by her and the writers thereof were not fictitious. Bea
Marquez Recto of the Recto political clan was a resident of the United States while Babes Santos was employed with
Saniwares.
29

(6) She admitted that she called up an officemate of her husband but averred that she merely asked the latter in a diplomatic
matter if she was the one asking for chocolates from petitioner, and not to monitor her husbands whereabouts.
30

(7) She belied the allegation that she spent lavishly as she supported almost ten people from her monthly budget of
P7,000.00.
31

In fine, respondent argued that apart from her non-disclosure of a child prior to their marriage, the other lies attributed to her
by petitioner were mostly hearsay and unconvincing. Her stance was that the totality of the evidence presented is not
sufficient for a finding of psychological incapacity on her part.
32

In addition, respondent presented Dr. Antonio Efren Reyes (Dr. Reyes), a psychiatrist, to refute the allegations anent her
psychological condition. Dr. Reyes testified that the series of tests conducted by his assistant,
33
together with the screening
procedures and the Comprehensive Psycho-Pathological Rating Scale (CPRS) he himself conducted, led him to conclude
that respondent was not psychologically incapacitated to perform the essential marital obligations. He postulated that
regressive behavior, gross neuroticism, psychotic tendencies, and poor control of impulses, which are signs that might point
to the presence of disabling trends, were not elicited from respondent.
34

In rebuttal, Dr. Lopez asseverated that there were flaws in the evaluation conducted by Dr. Reyes as (i) he was not the one
who administered and interpreted respondents psychological evaluation, and (ii) he made use of only one instrument called
CPRS which was not reliable because a good liar can fake the results of such test.
35

After trial, the lower court gave credence to petitioners evidence and held that respondents propensity to lying about
almost anythingher occupation, state of health, singing abilities and her income, among othershad been duly established.
According to the trial court, respondents fantastic ability to invent and fabricate stories and personalities enabled her to live
in a world of make-believe. This made her psychologically incapacitated as it rendered her incapable of giving meaning and
significance to her marriage.
36
The trial court thus declared the marriage between petitioner and respondent null and void.
Shortly before the trial court rendered its decision, the Metropolitan Tribunal of the Archdiocese of Manila annulled the
Catholic marriage of the parties, on the ground of lack of due discretion on the part of the parties.
37
During the pendency of
the appeal before the Court of Appeals, the Metropolitan Tribunals ruling was affirmed with modification by both the
National Appellate Matrimonial Tribunal, which held instead that only respondent was impaired by a lack of due
discretion.
38
Subsequently, the decision of the National Appellate Matrimonial Tribunal was upheld by the Roman Rota of
the Vatican.
39

Petitioner duly alerted the Court of Appeals of these rulings by the Catholic tribunals. Still, the appellate court reversed the
RTCs judgment. While conceding that respondent may not have been completely honest with petitioner, the Court of
Appeals nevertheless held that the totality of the evidence presented was insufficient to establish respondents psychological
incapacity. It declared that the requirements in the case of Republic v. Court of Appeals
40
governing the application and
interpretation of psychological incapacity had not been satisfied.
Taking exception to the appellate courts pronouncement, petitioner elevated the case to this Court. He contends herein that
the evidence conclusively establish respondents psychological incapacity.
In considering the merit of this petition, the Court is heavily influenced by the credence accorded by the RTC to the factual
allegations of petitioner.
41
It is a settled principle of civil procedure that the conclusions of the trial court regarding the
credibility of witnesses are entitled to great respect from the appellate courts because the trial court had an opportunity to
observe the demeanor of witnesses while giving testimony which may indicate their candor or lack thereof.
42
The Court is
likewise guided by the fact that the Court of Appeals did not dispute the veracity of the evidence presented by petitioner.
Instead, the appellate court concluded that such evidence was not sufficient to establish the psychological incapacity of
respondent.
43

Thus, the Court is impelled to accept the factual version of petitioner as the operative facts. Still, the crucial question
remains as to whether the state of facts as presented by petitioner sufficiently meets the standards set for the declaration of
nullity of a marriage under Article 36 of the Family Code. These standards were definitively laid down in the Courts 1997
ruling in Republic v. Court of Appeals
44
(also known as the Molina case
45
), and indeed the Court of Appeals cited the
Molina guidelines in reversing the RTC in the case at bar.
46
Since Molina was decided in 1997, the Supreme Court has yet to
squarely affirm the declaration of nullity of marriage under Article 36 of the Family Code.
47
In fact, even before Molina was
handed down, there was only one case, Chi Ming Tsoi v. Court of Appeals,
48
wherein the Court definitively concluded that a
spouse was psychologically incapacitated under Article 36.
This state of jurisprudential affairs may have led to the misperception that the remedy afforded by Article 36 of the Family
Code is hollow, insofar as the Supreme Court is concerned.
49
Yet what Molina and the succeeding cases did ordain was a set
of guidelines which, while undoubtedly onerous on the petitioner seeking the declaration of nullity, still leave room for a
decree of nullity under the proper circumstances. Molina did not foreclose the grant of a decree of nullity under Article 36,
even as it raised the bar for its allowance.
Legal Guides to Understanding Article 36
Article 36 of the Family Code states that "[a] marriage contracted by any party who, at the time of the celebration, was
psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential marital obligations of marriage, shall likewise be void even if
such incapacity becomes manifest only after its solemnization."
50
The concept of psychological incapacity as a ground for
nullity of marriage is novel in our body of laws, although mental incapacity has long been recognized as a ground for the
dissolution of a marriage.
The Spanish Civil Code of 1889 prohibited from contracting marriage persons "who are not in the full enjoyment of their
reason at the time of contracting marriage."
51
Marriages with such persons were ordained as void,
52
in the same class as
marriages with underage parties and persons already married, among others. A partys mental capacity was not a ground for
divorce under the Divorce Law of 1917,
53
but a marriage where "either party was of unsound mind" at the time of its
celebration was cited as an "annullable marriage" under the Marriage Law of 1929.
54
Divorce on the ground of a spouses
incurable insanity was permitted under the divorce law enacted during the Japanese occupation.
55
Upon the enactment of the
Civil Code in 1950, a marriage contracted by a party of "unsound mind" was classified under Article 85 of the Civil Code as
a voidable marriage.
56
The mental capacity, or lack thereof, of the marrying spouse was not among the grounds for declaring
a marriage void ab initio.
57
Similarly, among the marriages classified as voidable under Article 45 (2) of the Family Code is
one contracted by a party of unsound mind.
58

Such cause for the annulment of marriage is recognized as a vice of consent, just like insanity impinges on consent freely
given which is one of the essential requisites of a contract.
59
The initial common consensus on psychological incapacity
under Article 36 of the Family Code was that it did not constitute a specie of vice of consent. Justices Sempio-Diy and
Caguioa, both members of the Family Code revision committee that drafted the Code, have opined that psychological
incapacity is not a vice of consent, and conceded that the spouse may have given free and voluntary consent to a marriage
but was nonetheless incapable of fulfilling such rights and obligations.
60
Dr. Tolentino likewise stated in the 1990 edition of
his commentaries on the Family Code that this "psychological incapacity to comply with the essential marital obligations
does not affect the consent to the marriage."
61

There were initial criticisms of this original understanding of Article 36 as phrased by the Family Code committee.
Tolentino opined that "psychologically incapacity to comply would not be
juridically different from physical incapacity of consummating the marriage, which makes the marriage only voidable under
Article 45 (5) of the Civil Code x x x [and thus] should have been a cause for annulment of the marriage only."
62
At the
same time, Tolentino noted "[it] would be different if it were psychological incapacity to understand the essential marital
obligations, because then this would amount to lack of consent to the marriage."
63
These concerns though were answered,
beginning with Santos v. Court of Appeals,
64
wherein the Court, through Justice Vitug, acknowledged that "psychological
incapacity should refer to no less than a mental (not physical) incapacity that causes a party to be truly incognitive of the
basic marital covenants that concomitantly must be assumed and discharged by the parties to the marriage."
65

The notion that psychological incapacity pertains to the inability to understand the obligations of marriage, as opposed to a
mere inability to comply with them, was further affirmed in the Molina
66
case. Therein, the Court, through then Justice (now
Chief Justice) Panganiban observed that "[t]he evidence [to establish psychological incapacity] must convince the court that
the parties, or one of them, was mentally or psychically ill to such extent that the person could not have known the
obligations he was assuming, or knowing them, could not have given valid assumption thereto."
67
Jurisprudence since then
has recognized that psychological incapacity "is a malady so grave and permanent as to deprive one of awareness of the
duties and responsibilities of the matrimonial bond one is about to assume."
68

It might seem that this present understanding of psychological incapacity deviates from the literal wording of Article 36,
with its central phase reading "psychologically incapacitated to comply
with the essential marital obligations of marriage."
69
At the same time, it has been consistently recognized by this Court that
the intent of the Family Code committee was to design the law as to allow some resiliency in its application, by avoiding
specific examples that would limit the applicability of the provision under the principle of ejusdem generis. Rather, the
preference of the revision committee was for "the judge to interpret the provision on a case-to-case basis, guided by
experience, in the findings of experts and researchers in psychological disciplines, and by decisions of church
tribunals which, although not binding on
the civil courts, may be given persuasive effect since the provision was taken from Canon Law."
70

We likewise observed in Republic v. Dagdag:
71

Whether or not psychological incapacity exists in a given case calling for annulment of a marriage, depends crucially, more
than in any field of the law, on the facts of the case. Each case must be judged, not on the basis of a priori assumptions,
predilections or generalizations but according to its own facts. In regard to psychological incapacity as a ground for
annulment of marriage, it is trite to say that no case is on "all fours" with another case. The trial judge must take pains in
examining the factual milieu and the appellate court must, as much as possible, avoid substituting its own judgment for that
of the trial court.
72

The Court thus acknowledges that the definition of psychological incapacity, as intended by the revision committee, was not
cast in intractable specifics. Judicial understanding of psychological incapacity may be informed by evolving standards,
taking into account the particulars of each case, current trends in psychological and even canonical thought, and experience.
It is under the auspices of the deliberate ambiguity of the framers that the Court has developed the Molina rules, which have
been consistently applied since 1997. Molina has proven indubitably useful in providing a unitary framework that guides
courts in adjudicating petitions for declaration of nullity under Article 36. At the same time, the Molina guidelines are not
set in stone, the clear legislative intent mandating a case-to-case perception of each situation, and Molina itself arising from
this evolutionary understanding of Article 36. There is no cause to disavow Molina at present, and indeed the disposition of
this case shall rely primarily on that precedent. There is need though to emphasize other perspectives as well which should
govern the disposition of petitions for declaration of nullity under Article 36.
Of particular notice has been the citation of the Court, first in Santos then in Molina, of the considered opinion of canon law
experts in the interpretation of psychological incapacity. This is but unavoidable, considering that the Family Code
committee had bluntly acknowledged that the concept of psychological incapacity was derived from canon law,
73
and as one
member admitted, enacted as a solution to the problem of marriages already annulled by the Catholic Church but still
existent under civil law.
74
It would be disingenuous to disregard the influence of Catholic Church doctrine in the formulation
and subsequent understanding of Article 36, and the Court has expressly acknowledged that interpretations given by the
National Appellate Matrimonial Tribunal of the local Church, while not controlling or decisive, should be given great
respect by our courts.
75
Still, it must be emphasized that the Catholic Church is hardly the sole source of influence in the
interpretation of Article 36. Even though the concept may have been derived from canon law, its incorporation into the
Family Code and subsequent judicial interpretation occurred in wholly secular progression. Indeed, while Church thought on
psychological incapacity is merely persuasive on the trial courts, judicial decisions of this Court interpreting psychological
incapacity are binding on lower courts.
76

Now is also opportune time to comment on another common legal guide utilized in the adjudication of petitions for
declaration of nullity under Article 36. All too frequently, this Court and lower courts, in denying petitions of the kind, have
favorably cited Sections 1 and 2, Article XV of the Constitution, which respectively state that "[t]he State recognizes the
Filipino family as the foundation of the nation. Accordingly, it shall strengthen its solidarity and actively promote its total
developmen[t]," and that "[m]arriage, as an inviolable social institution, is the foundation of the family and shall be
protected by the State." These provisions highlight the importance of the family and the constitutional protection accorded to
the institution of marriage.
But the Constitution itself does not establish the parameters of state protection to marriage as a social institution and the
foundation of the family. It remains the province of the legislature to define all legal aspects of marriage and prescribe the
strategy and the modalities to protect it, based on whatever socio-political influences it deems proper, and subject of course
to the qualification that such legislative enactment itself adheres to the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. This being the
case, it also falls on the legislature to put into operation the constitutional provisions that protect marriage and the family.
This has been accomplished at present through the enactment of the Family Code, which defines marriage and the family,
spells out the corresponding legal effects, imposes the limitations that affect married and family life, as well as prescribes
the grounds for declaration of nullity and those for legal separation. While it may appear that the judicial denial of a petition
for declaration of nullity is reflective of the constitutional mandate to protect marriage, such action in fact merely enforces a
statutory definition of marriage, not a constitutionally ordained decree of what marriage is. Indeed, if circumstances warrant,
Sections 1 and 2 of Article XV need not be the only constitutional considerations to be taken into account in resolving a
petition for declaration of nullity.
Indeed, Article 36 of the Family Code, in classifying marriages contracted by a psychologically incapacitated person as a
nullity, should be deemed as an implement of this constitutional protection of marriage. Given the avowed State interest in
promoting marriage as the foundation of the family, which in turn serves as the foundation of the nation, there is a
corresponding interest for the State to defend against marriages ill-equipped to promote family life. Void ab initio marriages
under Article 36 do not further the initiatives of the State concerning marriage and family, as they promote wedlock among
persons who, for reasons independent of their will, are not capacitated to understand or comply with the essential obligations
of marriage.
These are the legal premises that inform us as we decide the present petition.
Molina Guidelines As Applied in This Case
As stated earlier, Molina established the guidelines presently recognized in the judicial disposition of petitions for nullity
under Article 36. The Court has consistently applied Molina since its promulgation in 1997, and the guidelines therein
operate as the general rules. They warrant citation in full:
1) The burden of proof to show the nullity of the marriage belongs to the plaintiff. Any doubt should be
resolved in favor of the existence and continuation of the marriage and against its dissolution and nullity.
This is rooted in the fact that both our Constitution and our laws cherish the validity of marriage and unity of
the family. Thus, our Constitution devotes an entire Article on the Family, recognizing it "as the foundation
of the nation." It decrees marriage as legally "inviolable," thereby protecting it from dissolution at the whim
of the parties. Both the family and marriage are to be "protected" by the state.
The Family Code echoes this constitutional edict on marriage and the family and emphasizes their
permanence, inviolability and solidarity.
2) The root cause of the psychological incapacity must be: (a) medically or clinically identified, (b) alleged in
the complaint, (c) sufficiently proven by experts and (d) clearly explained in the decision. Article 36 of the
Family Code requires that the incapacity must be psychologicalnot physical, although its manifestations
and/or symptoms may be physical. The evidence must convince the court that the parties, or one of them, was
mentally or psychically ill to such an extent that the person could not have known the obligations he was
assuming, or knowing them, could not have given valid assumption thereof. Although no example of such
incapacity need be given here so as not to limit the application of the provision under the principle of ejusdem
generis, nevertheless such root cause must be identified as a psychological illness and its incapacitating
nature fully explained. Expert evidence may be given by qualified psychiatrists and clinical psychologists.
3) The incapacity must be proven to be existing at "the time of the celebration" of the marriage. The evidence
must show that the illness was existing when the parties exchanged their "I dos." The manifestation of the
illness need not be perceivable at such time, but the illness itself must have attached at such moment, or prior
thereto.
4) Such incapacity must also be shown to be medically or clinically permanent or incurable. Such incurability
may be absolute or even relative only in regard to the other spouse, not necessarily absolutely against
everyone of the same sex. Furthermore, such incapacity must be relevant to the assumption of marriage
obligations, not necessarily to those not related to marriage, like the exercise of a profession or employment
in a job. Hence, a pediatrician may be effective in diagnosing illnesses of children and prescribing medicine
to cure them but not be psychologically capacitated to procreate, bear and raise his/her own children as an
essential obligation of marriage.
5) Such illness must be grave enough to bring about the disability of the party to assume the essential
obligations of marriage. Thus, "mild characteriological peculiarities, mood changes, occasional emotional
outbursts" cannot be accepted as root causes. The illness must be shown as downright incapacity or inability,
not a refusal, neglect or difficulty, much less ill will. In other words, there is a natal or supervening disabling
factor in the person, an adverse integral element in the personality structure that effectively incapacitates the
person from really accepting and thereby complying with the obligations essential to marriage.
6) The essential marital obligations must be those embraced by Articles 68 up to 71 of the Family Code as
regards the husband and wife as well as Articles 220, 221 and 225 of the same Code in regard to parents and
their children. Such non-complied marital obligation(s) must also be stated in the petition, proven by
evidence and included in the text of the decision.
7) Interpretations given by the National Appellate Matrimonial Tribunal of the Catholic Church in the
Philippines, while not controlling or decisive, should be given great respect by our courts. It is clear that
Article 36 was taken by the Family Code Revision Committee from Canon 1095 of the New Code of Canon
Law, which became effective in 1983 and which provides:
"The following are incapable of contracting marriage: Those who are unable to assume the essential obligations of marriage
due to causes of psychological nature."
Since the purpose of including such provision in our Family Code is to harmonize our civil laws with the religious faith of
our people, it stands to reason that to achieve such harmonization, great persuasive weight should be given to decisions of
such appellate tribunal. Ideallysubject to our law on evidencewhat is decreed as canonically invalid should also be
decreed civilly void.
77

Molina had provided for an additional requirement that the Solicitor General issue a certification stating his reasons for his
agreement or opposition to the petition.
78
This requirement however was dispensed with following the implementation of
A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC, or the Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages and Annulment of Voidable
Marriages.
79
Still, Article 48 of the Family Code mandates that the appearance of the prosecuting attorney or fiscal assigned
be on behalf of the State to take steps to prevent collusion between the parties and to take care that evidence is not fabricated
or suppressed. Obviously, collusion is not an issue in this case, considering the consistent vigorous opposition of respondent
to the petition for declaration of nullity. In any event, the fiscals participation in the hearings before the trial court is extant
from the records of this case.
As earlier noted, the factual findings of the RTC are now deemed binding on this Court, owing to the great weight accorded
to the opinion of the primary trier of facts, and the refusal of the Court of Appeals to dispute the veracity of these facts. As
such, it must be considered that respondent had consistently lied about many material aspects as to her character and
personality. The question remains whether her pattern of fabrication sufficiently establishes her psychological incapacity,
consistent with Article 36 and generally, the Molina guidelines.
We find that the present case sufficiently satisfies the guidelines in Molina.
First. Petitioner had sufficiently overcome his burden in proving the psychological incapacity of his spouse. Apart from his
own testimony, he presented witnesses who corroborated his allegations on his wifes behavior, and certifications from
Blackgold Records and the Philippine Village Hotel Pavillon which disputed respondents claims pertinent to her alleged
singing career. He also presented two (2) expert witnesses from the field of psychology who testified that the aberrant
behavior of respondent was tantamount to psychological incapacity. In any event, both courts below considered petitioners
evidence as credible enough. Even the appellate court acknowledged that respondent was not totally honest with petitioner.
80

As in all civil matters, the petitioner in an action for declaration of nullity under Article 36 must be able to establish the
cause of action with a preponderance of evidence. However, since the action cannot be considered as a non-public matter
between private parties, but is impressed with State interest, the Family Code likewise requires the participation of the State,
through the prosecuting attorney, fiscal, or Solicitor General, to take steps to prevent collusion between the parties and to
take care that evidence is not fabricated or suppressed. Thus, even if the petitioner is able establish the psychological
incapacity of respondent with preponderant evidence, any finding of collusion among the parties would necessarily negate
such proofs.
Second. The root cause of respondents psychological incapacity has been medically or clinically identified, alleged in the
complaint, sufficiently proven by experts, and clearly explained in the trial courts decision. The initiatory complaint alleged
that respondent, from the start, had exhibited unusual and abnormal behavior "of peren[n]ially telling lies, fabricating
ridiculous stories, and inventing personalities and situations," of writing letters to petitioner using fictitious names, and of
lying about her actual occupation, income, educational attainment, and family background, among others.
81

These allegations, initially characterized in generalities, were further linked to medical or clinical causes by expert witnesses
from the field of psychology. Petitioner presented two (2) such witnesses in particular. Dr. Abcede, a psychiatrist who had
headed the department of psychiatry of at least two (2) major hospitals,
82
testified as follows:
WITNESS:
Given that as a fact, which is only based on the affidavit provided to me, I can say that there are a couple of things that [are]
terribly wrong with the standards. There are a couple of things that seems (sic) to be repeated over and over again in the
affidavit. One of which is the persistent, constant and repeated lying of the "respondent"; which, I think, based on
assessment of normal behavior of an individual, is abnormal or pathological. x x x
ATTY. RAZ: (Back to the witness)
Q- Would you say then, Mr. witness, that because of these actuations of the respondent she is then incapable of performing
the basic obligations of her marriage?
A- Well, persistent lying violates the respect that one owes towards another. The lack of concern, the lack of love towards
the person, and it is also something that endangers human relationship. You see, relationship is based on communication
between individuals and what we generally communicate are our thoughts and feelings. But then when one talks and
expresse[s] their feelings, [you] are expected to tell the truth. And therefore, if you constantly lie, what do you think is going
to happen as far as this relationship is concerned. Therefore, it undermines that basic relationship that should be based on
love, trust and respect.
Q- Would you say then, Mr. witness, that due to the behavior of the respondent in constantly lying and fabricating stories,
she is then incapable of performing the basic obligations of the marriage?
x x x
ATTY. RAZ: (Back to the witness)
Q- Mr. witness, based on the testimony of Mr. Levy Mendoza, who is the third witness for the petitioner, testified that the
respondent has been calling up the petitioners officemates and ask him (sic) on the activities of the petitioner and ask him
on the behavior of the petitioner. And this is specifically stated on page six (6) of the transcript of stenographic notes, what
can you say about this, Mr. witness?
A- If an individual is jealous enough to the point that he is paranoid, which means that there is no actual basis on her suspect
(sic) that her husband is having an affair with a woman, if carried on to the extreme, then that is pathological. That is not
abnormal. We all feel jealous, in the same way as we also lie every now and then; but everything that is carried out in
extreme is abnormal or pathological. If there is no basis in reality to the fact that the husband is having an affair with another
woman and if she persistently believes that the husband is having an affair with different women, then that is pathological
and we call that paranoid jealousy.
Q- Now, if a person is in paranoid jealousy, would she be considered psychologically incapacitated to perform the basic
obligations of the marriage?
A- Yes, Maam.
83

The other witness, Dr. Lopez, was presented to establish not only the psychological incapacity of respondent, but also the
psychological capacity of petitioner. He concluded that respondent "is [a] pathological liar, that [she continues] to lie [and]
she loves to fabricate about herself."
84

These two witnesses based their conclusions of psychological incapacity on the case record, particularly the trial transcripts
of respondents testimony, as well as the supporting affidavits of petitioner. While these witnesses did not personally
examine respondent, the Court had already held in Marcos v. Marcos
85
that personal examination of the subject by the
physician is not required for the spouse to be declared psychologically incapacitated.
86
We deem the methodology utilized
by petitioners witnesses as sufficient basis for their medical conclusions. Admittedly, Drs. Abcede and Lopezs common
conclusion of respondents psychological incapacity hinged heavily on their own acceptance of petitioners version as the
true set of facts. However, since the trial court itself accepted the veracity of petitioners factual premises, there is no cause
to dispute the conclusion of psychological incapacity drawn therefrom by petitioners expert witnesses.
Also, with the totality of the evidence presented as basis, the trial court explicated its finding of psychological incapacity in
its decision in this wise:
To the mind of the Court, all of the above are indications that respondent is psychologically incapacitated to perform the
essential obligations of marriage. It has been shown clearly from her actuations that respondent has that propensity for
telling lies about almost anything, be it her occupation, her state of health, her singing abilities, her income, etc. She has this
fantastic ability to invent and fabricate stories and personalities. She practically lived in a world of make believe making her
therefore not in a position to give meaning and significance to her marriage to petitioner. In persistently and constantly lying
to petitioner, respondent undermined the basic tenets of relationship between spouses that is based on love, trust and respect.
As concluded by the psychiatrist presented by petitioner, such repeated lying is abnormal and pathological and amounts to
psychological incapacity.
87

Third. Respondents psychological incapacity was established to have clearly existed at the time of and even before the
celebration of marriage. She fabricated friends and made up letters from fictitious characters well before she married
petitioner. Likewise, she kept petitioner in the dark about her natural childs real parentage as she only confessed when the
latter had found out the truth after their marriage.
Fourth. The gravity of respondents psychological incapacity is sufficient to prove her disability to assume the essential
obligations of marriage. It is immediately discernible that the parties had shared only a little over a year of cohabitation
before the exasperated petitioner left his wife. Whatever such circumstance speaks of the degree of tolerance of petitioner, it
likewise supports the belief that respondents psychological incapacity, as borne by the record, was so grave in extent that
any prolonged marital life was dubitable.
It should be noted that the lies attributed to respondent were not adopted as false pretenses in order to induce petitioner into
marriage. More disturbingly, they indicate a failure on the part of respondent to distinguish truth from fiction, or at least
abide by the truth. Petitioners witnesses and the trial court were emphatic on respondents inveterate proclivity to telling
lies and the pathologic nature of her mistruths, which according to them, were revelatory of respondents inability to
understand and perform the essential obligations of marriage. Indeed, a person unable to distinguish between fantasy and
reality would similarly be unable to comprehend the legal nature of the marital bond, much less its psychic meaning, and the
corresponding obligations attached to marriage, including parenting. One unable to adhere to reality cannot be expected to
adhere as well to any legal or emotional commitments.
The Court of Appeals somehow concluded that since respondent allegedly tried her best to effect a reconciliation, she had
amply exhibited her ability to perform her marital obligations. We are not convinced. Given the nature of her psychological
condition, her willingness to remain in the marriage hardly banishes nay extenuates her lack of capacity to fulfill the
essential marital obligations. Respondents ability to even comprehend what the essential marital obligations are is impaired
at best. Considering that the evidence convincingly disputes respondents ability to adhere to the truth, her avowals as to her
commitment to the marriage cannot be accorded much credence.
At this point, it is worth considering Article 45(3) of the Family Code which states that a marriage may be annulled if the
consent of either party was obtained by fraud, and Article 46 which enumerates the circumstances constituting fraud under
the previous article, clarifies that "no other misrepresentation or deceit as to character, health, rank, fortune or chastity shall
constitute such fraud as will give grounds for action for the annulment of marriage." It would be improper to draw linkages
between misrepresentations made by respondent and the misrepresentations under Articles 45 (3) and 46. The fraud under
Article 45(3) vitiates the consent of the spouse who is lied to, and does not allude to vitiated consent of the lying spouse. In
this case, the misrepresentations of respondent point to her own inadequacy to cope with her marital obligations, kindred to
psychological incapacity under Article 36.
Fifth. Respondent is evidently unable to comply with the essential marital obligations as embraced by Articles 68 to 71 of
the Family Code. Article 68, in particular, enjoins the spouses to live together, observe mutual love, respect and fidelity, and
render mutual help and support. As noted by the trial court, it is difficult to see how an inveterate pathological liar would be
able to commit to the basic tenets of relationship between spouses based on love, trust and respect.
Sixth. The Court of Appeals clearly erred when it failed to take into consideration the fact that the marriage of the parties
was annulled by the Catholic Church. The appellate court apparently deemed this detail totally inconsequential as no
reference was made to it anywhere in the assailed decision despite petitioners efforts to bring the matter to its attention.
88

Such deliberate ignorance is in contravention of Molina, which held that interpretations given by the National Appellate
Matrimonial Tribunal of the Catholic Church in the Philippines, while not controlling or decisive, should be given great
respect by our courts.
As noted earlier, the Metropolitan Tribunal of the Archdiocese of Manila decreed the invalidity of the marriage in question
in a Conclusion
89
dated 30 March 1995, citing the "lack of due discretion" on the part of respondent.
90
Such decree of nullity
was affirmed by both the National Appellate Matrimonial Tribunal,
91
and the Roman Rota of the Vatican.
92
In fact,
respondents psychological incapacity was considered so grave that a restrictive clause
93
was appended to the sentence of
nullity prohibiting respondent from contracting another marriage without the Tribunals consent.
In its Decision dated 4 June 1995, the National Appellate Matrimonial Tribunal pronounced:
The JURISRPRUDENCE in the Case maintains that matrimonial consent is considered ontologically defective and
wherefore judicially ineffective when elicited by a Part Contractant in possession and employ of a discretionary judgment
faculty with a perceptive vigor markedly inadequate for the practical understanding of the conjugal Covenant or serious
impaired from the correct appreciation of the integral significance and implications of the marriage vows.
The FACTS in the Case sufficiently prove with the certitude required by law that based on the depositions of the Partes in
Causa and premised on the testimonies of the Common and Expert Witnesse[s], the Respondent made the marriage
option in tenure of adverse personality constracts that were markedly antithetical to the substantive content and
implications of the Marriage Covenant, and that seriously undermined the integrality of her matrimonial consent in
terms of its deliberative component. In other words, afflicted with a discretionary faculty impaired in its practico-
concrete judgment formation on account of an adverse action and reaction pattern, the Respondent was impaired
from eliciting a judicially binding matrimonial consent. There is no sufficient evidence in the Case however to prove as
well the fact of grave lack of due discretion on the part of the Petitioner.
94

Evidently, the conclusion of psychological incapacity was arrived at not only by the trial court, but also by canonical bodies.
Yet, we must clarify the proper import of the Church rulings annulling the marriage in this case. They hold sway since they
are drawn from a similar recognition, as the trial court, of the veracity of petitioners allegations. Had the trial court instead
appreciated respondents version as correct, and the appellate court affirmed such conclusion, the rulings of the Catholic
Church on this matter would have diminished persuasive value. After all, it is the factual findings of the judicial trier of
facts, and not that of the canonical courts, that are accorded significant recognition by this Court.
Seventh. The final point of contention is the requirement in Molina that such psychological incapacity be shown to be
medically or clinically permanent or incurable. It was on this score that the Court of Appeals reversed the judgment of the
trial court, the appellate court noting that it did not appear certain that respondents condition was incurable and that Dr.
Abcede did not testify to such effect.
95

Petitioner points out that one month after he and his wife initially separated, he returned to her, desiring to make their
marriage work. However, respondents aberrant behavior remained unchanged, as she continued to lie, fabricate stories, and
maintained her excessive jealousy. From this fact, he draws the conclusion that respondents condition is incurable.
From the totality of the evidence, can it be definitively concluded that respondents condition is incurable? It would seem, at
least, that respondents psychosis is quite grave, and a cure thereof a remarkable feat. Certainly, it would have been easier
had petitioners expert witnesses characterized respondents condition as incurable. Instead, they remained silent on whether
the psychological incapacity was curable or incurable.
But on careful examination, there was good reason for the experts taciturnity on this point.
The petitioners expert witnesses testified in 1994 and 1995, and the trial court rendered its decision on 10 August 1995.
These events transpired well before Molina was promulgated in 1997 and made explicit the requirement that the
psychological incapacity must be shown to be medically or clinically permanent or incurable. Such requirement was not
expressly stated in Article 36 or any other provision of the Family Code.
On the other hand, the Court in Santos, which was decided in January 1995, began its discussion by first citing the
deliberations of the Family Code committee,
96
then the opinion of canonical scholars,
97
before arriving at its formulation of
the doctrinal definition of psychological incapacity.
98
Santos did refer to Justice Caguioas opinion expressed during the
deliberations that "psychological incapacity is incurable,"
99
and the view of a former presiding judge of the Metropolitan
Marriage Tribunal of the Archdiocese of Manila that psychological incapacity must be characterized "by (a) gravity, (b)
juridical antecedence, and (c) incurability."
100
However, in formulating the doctrinal rule on psychological incapacity, the
Court in Santos omitted any reference to incurability as a characteristic of psychological incapacity.
101

This disquisition is material as Santos was decided months before the trial court came out with its own ruling that remained
silent on whether respondents psychological incapacity was incurable. Certainly, Santos did not clearly mandate that the
incurability of the psychological incapacity be established in an action for declaration of nullity. At least, there was no
jurisprudential clarity at the time of the trial of this case and the subsequent promulgation of the trial courts decision that
required a medical finding of incurability. Such requisite arose only with Molina in 1997, at a time when this case was on
appellate review, or after the reception of evidence.
We are aware that in Pesca v. Pesca,
102
the Court countered an argument that Molina and Santos should not apply
retroactively
with the observation that the interpretation or construction placed by the courts of a law constitutes a part of that law as of
the date the statute in enacted.
103
Yet we approach this present case from utterly practical considerations. The requirement
that psychological incapacity must be shown to be medically or clinically permanent or incurable is one that necessarily
cannot be divined without expert opinion. Clearly in this case, there was no categorical averment from the expert witnesses
that respondents psychological incapacity was curable or incurable simply because there was no legal necessity yet to elicit
such a declaration and the appropriate question was not accordingly propounded to him. If we apply Pesca without deep
reflection, there would be undue prejudice to those cases tried before Molina or Santos, especially those presently on
appellate review, where presumably the respective petitioners and their expert witnesses would not have seen the need to
adduce a diagnosis of incurability. It may hold in those cases, as in this case, that the psychological incapacity of a spouse is
actually incurable, even if not pronounced as such at the trial court level.
We stated earlier that Molina is not set in stone, and that the interpretation of Article 36 relies heavily on a case-to-case
perception. It would be insensate to reason to mandate in this case an expert medical or clinical diagnosis of incurability,
since the parties would have had no impelling cause to present evidence to that effect at the time this case was tried by the
RTC more than ten (10) years ago. From the totality of the evidence, we are sufficiently convinced that the incurability of
respondents psychological incapacity has been established by the petitioner. Any lingering doubts are further dispelled by
the fact that the Catholic Church tribunals, which indubitably consider incurability as an integral requisite of psychological
incapacity, were sufficiently convinced that respondent was so incapacitated to contract marriage to the degree that
annulment was warranted.
All told, we conclude that petitioner has established his cause of action for declaration of nullity under Article 36 of the
Family Code. The RTC correctly ruled, and the Court of Appeals erred in reversing the trial court.
There is little relish in deciding this present petition, pronouncing as it does the marital bond as having been inexistent in the
first place. It is possible that respondent, despite her psychological state, remains in love with petitioner, as exhibited by her
persistent challenge to the petition for nullity. In fact, the appellate court placed undue emphasis on respondents avowed
commitment to remain in the marriage. Yet the Court decides these cases on legal reasons and not vapid sentimentality.
Marriage, in legal contemplation, is more than the legitimatization of a desire of people in love to live together.
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The decision of the RTC dated 10 August 1995, declaring the marriage between
petitioner and respondent NULL and VOID under Article 36 of the Family Code, is REINSTATED. No costs.
SO ORDERED.
DANTE O. TINGA
Associate Justice
WE CONCUR:
LEONARDO A. QUISUMBING
Associate Justice
Chairman
ANTONIO T. CARPIO
Associate Justice
CONCHITA CARPIO MORALES
Asscociate Justice
A T T E S T A T I O N
I attest that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the
writer of the opinion of the Courts Division.
LEONARDO A. QUISUMBING
Associate Justice
Chairman, Third Division
C E R T I F I C A T I O N
Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, and the Attestation by the Divisions Chairman, it is hereby certified
that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the
opinion of the Courts Division.
ARTEMIO V. PANGANIBAN
Chief Justice

Footnotes
1
Penned by Associate Justice Ruben T. Reyes, concurred in by Associate Justices Renato C. Dacudao and
Mariano C. Del Castillo; See rollo, pp. 67-84.
2
Rollo, p. 86.
3
Penned by Judge (now Associate Justice of the Court of Appeals) Josefina Guevara-Salonga.
4
Solemnized by Rev. Victor M. Navarro, Minister of the PCCC, Las Pias, Metro Manila.
5
Solemnized by the Parish Priest, Rev. Fr. Rodolfo Aguirre Gallardo.
6
Rollo, pp. 69, 91.
7
Records, pp. 1-5.
8
Id. at 1-2.
9
Id. at 2-3. See also rollo, pp. 69, 91.
10
Named Tito F. Reyes II, born on 21 January 1982.
11
Supra note 8.
12
Rollo, pp. 69, 92.
13
Id. at 70, 92.
14
Id. at 95.
15
Supra note 13.
16
Id. at 70, 92.
17
TSN, 8 September 1993, p. 12.
18
Id. at 12-13. See also records, p. 91.
19
Rollo, pp. 71, 92.
20
Id.; records, p. 3.
21
Rollo, pp. 71, 92.
22
Id. at 71-72, 92-93.
23
Id.
24
Id. at 93.
25
Id. at 74, 94.
26
Id.
27
Id. at 73, 93.
28
Id.
29
Id.
30
Id. at 74, 94.
31
Id. at 73, 94.
32
Id. at 77-78.
33
Miss Francianina Sanches.
34
Rollo, p. 94.
35
Id. at 72, 93; TSN, 23 March 1995, pp. 15-17.
36
Rollo, pp. 95-96.
37
Id. at 97-98.
38
Id. at pp. 99-100.
39
Id. at 101-103.
40
335 Phil. 664 (1997).
41
Rollo, p. 95.
42
Limketkai Sons Milling, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, 321 Phil. 105, 126 (1995), citing Serrano v. Court of
Appeals, 196 SCRA 107 (1991).
43
Rollo, p. 82.
44
Supra note 40.
45
The petitioning spouse and co-respondent in the case being Roridel O. Molina. Id.
46
Rollo, p. 78.
47
There were two cases since 1997 wherein the Court did let stand a lower court order declaring as a nullity a
marriage on the basis of Article 36. These cases are Sy v. Court of Appeals, 386 Phil. 760 (2000), and
Buenaventura v. Court of Appeals, G.R. Nos. 127358 & 127449, 31 March 2005, 454 SCRA 261. However,
in Sy, the Court found that the marriage was void ab initio due to the lack of a marriage license at the time the
marriage was solemnized, and thus declined to pass upon the question of psychological incapacity. In
Buenaventura, since the parties chose not to challenge the trial courts conclusion of psychological incapacity
and instead raised questions on the award of damages and support, the Court did not review the finding of
psychological incapacity.
48
334 Phil. 294 (1997).
49
It does not escape this Courts attention that many lower courts do grant petitions for declaration of nullity
under Article 36, and that these decisions are not elevated for review to the Supreme Court.
50
See Family Code, Art. 36.
51
Translated from the original Spanish by Justice F.C. Fisher. See F.C. Fisher, The Civil Code of Spain with
Philippine Notes and References 45 (Fifth Ed., 1947). The original text of Article 83 (2) of the Spanish Civil
Code reads: "No pueden contraer matrimonio: x x x (2) Los que no estuvieren en el pleno ejercicio du su
razon al tiempo de contraer matrimonio."
52
See Spanish Civil Code. (1889) Art. 101.
53
Act No. 2710 (1917).
54
See Act No. 3613 (1929), Sec. 30 (c)
55
See Executive Order No. 141 (1943), Sec. 2 (5).
56
Unless the party of unsound mind, after coming to reason, freely cohabited with the other as husband or
wife. See Civil Code, Art. 85 (3).
57
See Civil Code, Art. 80.
58
Subject to the same qualifications under Article 85 (3) of the Civil Code. See note 56.
59
See Civil Code, Art. 1327 (2) in relation to Art. 1318 (1).
60
See Santos v. Court of Appeals, 310 Phil. 21, 32-33 (1995). See also A. Sempio Diy, Handbook on the
Family Code of the Philippines 37 (1988). A contrary view though was expressed by Justice Ricardo Puno,
also a member of the Family Code commission. See Santos v. Court of Appeals, ibid.
61
I A. Tolentino, Civil Code of the Philippines: Commentaries and Jurisprudence 274-275 (1990 ed.).
62
Id.
63
Id. at 274.
64
Supra note 60.
65
Id. at 40, emphasis supplied. The Court further added, "[t]here is hardly any doubt that the intendment of
the law has been to confine the meaning of psychological incapacity to the most serious cases of personality
disorders clearly demonstrative of an utter insensitivity or inability to give meaning and significance to
marriage." Id.
66
Supra note 40.
67
Id. at 677.
68
Marcos v. Marcos, 397 Phil. 840, 851 (2000).
69
It may be noted that a previous incarnation of Article 36, subsequently rejected by the Family Code
Commission, stated that among those void ab initio marriages are those "contracted by any party who, at the
time of the celebration, was wanting in the sufficient use of reason or judgment to understand the essential
nature of marriage or was psychologically or mentally incapacitated to discharge the essential marital
obligations, even if such lack of incapacity is made manifest after the celebration." See Santos v. Court of
Appeals, supra note 60, at 30.
70
Salita v. Magtolis, G.R. No. 106429, 13 June 1994, 233 SCRA 100, 107-108; citing A. Sempio-Diy, supra
note 60, at 37, emphasis supplied. See also Santos v. Court of Appeals, supra note 60, at 36; Republic v.
Court of Appeals, supra note 40, at 677.
71
G.R. No. 109975, 9 February 2001, 351 SCRA 425.
72
Id. at 431; citing Republic v. Court of Appeals, 268 SCRA 198, 214 (1997), Padilla, J., Separate Statement.
73
See Santos v. Court of Appeals, supra note 60, at 32-39.
74
See Sempio-Diy, supra note 60, at 36.
75
Republic v. Court of Appeals, supra note 40, at 678.
76
Thus, Chi Ming Tsoi v. Court of Appeals, supra note 48, wherein the psychological incapacity of the
petitioner was recognized by the Court from the fact that he did not engage in sexual relations with his wife
during their ten (10) month marital cohabitation, remains a binding precedent, even though it was decided
shortly before the Molina case.
77
Republic v. Court of Appeals, supra note 40, at 676-680.
78
Id. at 680.
79
See Carating-Siayngco v. Siayngco, G.R. No. 158896, 27 October 2004, 441 SCRA 422, 435.
80
Rollo, p. 82.
81
Records, pp. 2-3.
82
University of Santo Tomas Hospital and UERM Memorial Medical Center. Dr. Abcede likewise was the
past president of the Philippine Psychiatrist Association. TSN, February 23, 1994, p. 6.
83
TSN, 23 February 1994, pp. 7-9, 11-12.
84
TSN, 23 March 1995, p. 12.
85
397 Phil. 840 (2000).
86
Id. at 850.
87
Rollo, pp. 95-96.
88
As shown by the Motion(s) for Early Resolution of the Case filed by petitioner with the canonical
declarations attached as annexes.
89
Id. at 97-98.
90
The Metropolitan Tribunal of the Archdiocese of Manila based the decree of invalidity on the ground of
lack of due discretion on the part of both parties. On appeal, however, the National Appellate Matrimonial
Tribunal modified the judgment by holding that lack of due discretion applied to respondent but there was no
sufficient evidence to prove lack of due discretion on the part of petitioner. See also note 38.
91
Rollo, pp. 99-100.
92
Id. at 101-103.
93
"A restrictive clause is herewith attached to this sentence of nullity to the effect that the respondent may
not enter into another marriage without the express consent of this Tribunal, in deference to the sanctity and
dignity of the sacrament of matrimony, as well as for the protection of the intended spouse."; rollo, p. 97.
94
Rollo, p. 99. Emphasis supplied, citations omitted.
95
Rollo, p. 82.
96
Santos v. Court of Appeals, supra note 60, at 30-36.
97
Id. at 37-39.
98
Id. at 39-40.
99
Id. at 33.
100
Id. at 39.
101
"It should be obvious, looking at all the foregoing disquisitions, including, and most importantly, the
deliberations of the Family Code Revision Committee itself, that the use of the phrase "psychological
incapacity" under Article 36 of the Code has not been meant to comprehend all such possible cases of
psychoses as, likewise mentioned by some ecclesiastical authorities, extremely low intelligence, immaturity,
and like circumstances (cited in Fr. Artemio Baluma's "Void and Voidable Marriages in the Family Code and
their Parallels in Canon Law," quoting from the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder by the
American Psychiatric Association; Edward Hudson's "Handbook II for Marriage Nullity Cases"). Article 36
of the Family Code cannot be taken and construed independently of but must stand in conjunction with,
existing precepts in our law on marriage. Thus correlated, "psychological incapacity" should refer to no less
than a mental (not physical) incapacity that causes a party to be truly incognitive of the basic marital
covenants that concomitantly must be assumed and discharged by the parties to the marriage which, as so
expressed by Article 68 of the Family Code, include their mutual obligations to live together, observe love,
respect and fidelity and render help and support. There is hardly any doubt that the intendment of the law has
been to confine the meaning of "psychological incapacity" to the most serious cases of personality disorders
clearly demonstrative of an utter intensitivity or inability to give meaning and significance to the marriage.
This psychologic condition must exist at the time the marriage is celebrated. The law does not evidently
envision, upon the other hand, an inability of the spouse to have sexual relations with the other. This
conclusion is implicit under Article 54 of the Family Code which considers children conceived prior to the
judicial declaration of nullity of the void marriage to be "legitimate."
"The other forms of psychoses, if existing at the inception of marriage, like the state of a party being
of unsound mind or concealment of drug addiction, habitual alcoholism, homosexuality or lesbianism,
merely renders the marriage contract voidable pursuant to Article 46, Family Code. If drug addiction,
habitual alcoholism, lesbianism or homosexuality should occur only during the marriage, they become
mere grounds for legal separation under Article 55 of the Family Code. These provisions of the Code,
however, do not necessarily preclude the possibility of these various circumstances being themselves,
depending on the degree and severity of the disorder, indicia of psychological incapacity.
"Until further statutory and jurisprudential parameters are established, every circumstance that may
have some bearing on the degree, extent, and other conditions of that incapacity must, in every case,
be carefully examined and evaluated so that no precipitate and indiscriminate nullity is peremptorily
decreed. The well-considered opinions of psychiatrists, psychologists, and persons with expertise in
psychological disciplines might be helpful or even desirable." Santos v. Court of Appeals, id. at 39-
41.
102
G.R. No. 136921, 17 April 2001, 356 SCRA 588.
103
Id. at 593.

The Lawphil Project - Arellano Law Foundation











FIRST DIVISION
[G.R. No. 127358. March 31, 2005]
NOEL BUENAVENTURA, petitioner, vs. COURT OF APPEALS and ISABEL LUCIA
SINGH BUENAVENTURA, respondents.
[G.R. No. 127449. March 31, 2005]
NOEL BUENAVENTURA, petitioner, vs. COURT OF APPEALS and ISABEL LUCIA
SINGH BUENAVENTURA, respondents.
D E C I S I O N
AZCUNA, J.:
These cases involve a petition for the declaration of nullity of marriage, which was filed by
petitioner Noel Buenaventura on July 12, 1992, on the ground of the alleged psychological
incapacity of his wife, Isabel Singh Buenaventura, herein respondent. After respondent filed her
answer, petitioner, with leave of court, amended his petition by stating that both he and his wife
were psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential obligations of marriage. In
response, respondent filed an amended answer denying the allegation that she was
psychologically incapacitated.[1]
On July 31, 1995, the Regional Trial Court promulgated a Decision, the dispositive portion of
which reads:
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered as follows:
1) Declaring and decreeing the marriage entered into between plaintiff Noel A.
Buenaventura and defendant Isabel Lucia Singh Buenaventura on July 4, 1979, null and
void ab initio;
2) Ordering the plaintiff to pay defendant moral damages in the amount of 2.5 million
pesos and exemplary damages of 1 million pesos with 6% interest from the date of this
decision plus attorneys fees of P100,000.00;
3) Ordering the plaintiff to pay the defendant expenses of litigation of P50,000.00, plus
costs;
4) Ordering the liquidation of the assets of the conjugal partnership property[,] particularly
the plaintiffs separation/retirement benefits received from the Far East Bank [and]
Trust Company[,] by ceding, giving and paying to her fifty percent (50%) of the net
amount of P3,675,335.79 or P1,837,667.89 together with 12% interest per annum from
the date of this decision and one-half (1/2) of his outstanding shares of stock with
Manila Memorial Park and Provident Group of Companies;
5) Ordering him to give a regular support in favor of his son Javy Singh Buenaventura in
the amount of P15,000.00 monthly, subject to modification as the necessity arises;
6) Awarding the care and custody of the minor Javy Singh Buenaventura to his mother, the
herein defendant; and
7) Hereby authorizing the defendant to revert back to the use of her maiden family name
Singh.
Let copies of this decision be furnished the appropriate civil registry and registries of properties.
SO ORDERED.[2]
Petitioner appealed the above decision to the Court of Appeals. While the case was pending in
the appellate court, respondent filed a motion to increase the P15,000 monthly support pendente
lite of their son Javy Singh Buenaventura. Petitioner filed an opposition thereto, praying that it
be denied or that such incident be set for oral argument.[3]
On September 2, 1996, the Court of Appeals issued a Resolution increasing the support pendente
lite to P20,000.[4] Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration questioning the said Resolution.[5]
On October 8, 1996, the appellate court promulgated a Decision dismissing petitioners appeal
for lack of merit and affirming in toto the trial courts decision.[6] Petitioner filed a motion for
reconsideration which was denied. From the abovementioned Decision, petitioner filed the
instant Petition for Review on Certiorari.
On November 13, 1996, through another Resolution, the Court of Appeals denied petitioners
motion for reconsideration of the September 2, 1996 Resolution, which increased the monthly
support for the son.[7] Petitioner filed a Petition for Certiorari to question these two Resolutions.
On July 9, 1997, the Petition for Review on Certiorari[8] and the Petition for Certiorari[9] were
ordered consolidated by this Court.[10]
In the Petition for Review on Certiorari petitioner claims that the Court of Appeals decided the
case not in accord with law and jurisprudence, thus:
1. WHEN IT AWARDED DEFENDANT-APPELLEE MORAL DAMAGES IN THE
AMOUNT OF P2.5 MILLION AND EXEMPLARY DAMAGES OF P1 MILLION, WITH 6%
INTEREST FROM THE DATE OF ITS DECISION, WITHOUT ANY LEGAL AND MORAL
BASIS;
2. WHEN IT AWARDED P100,000.00 ATTORNEYS FEES AND P50,000.00 EXPENSES
OF LITIGATION, PLUS COSTS, TO DEFENDANT-APPELLEE, WITHOUT FACTUAL
AND LEGAL BASIS;
3. WHEN IT ORDERED PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT NOEL TO PAY DEFENDANT-
APPELLEE ONE-HALF OR P1,837,667.89 OUT OF HIS RETIREMENT BENEFITS
RECEIVED FROM THE FAR EAST BANK AND TRUST CO., WITH 12% INTEREST
THEREON FROM THE DATE OF ITS DECISION, NOTWITHSTANDING THAT SAID
RETIREMENT BENEFITS ARE GRATUITOUS AND EXCLUSIVE PROPERTY OF NOEL,
AND ALSO TO DELIVER TO DEFENDANT-APPELLEE ONE-HALF OF HIS SHARES OF
STOCK WITH THE MANILA MEMORIAL PARK AND THE PROVIDENT GROUP OF
COMPANIES, ALTHOUGH SAID SHARES OF STOCK WERE ACQUIRED BY NOEL
BEFORE HIS MARRIAGE TO RESPONDENT ISABEL AND ARE, THEREFORE, AGAIN
HIS EXCLUSIVE PROPERTIES; AND
4. WHEN IT AWARDED EXCLUSIVE CARE AND CUSTODY OVER THE PARTIES
MINOR CHILD TO DEFENDANT-APPELLEE WITHOUT ASKING THE CHILD (WHO
WAS ALREADY 13 YEARS OLD AT THAT TIME) HIS CHOICE AS TO WHOM,
BETWEEN HIS TWO PARENTS, HE WOULD LIKE TO HAVE CUSTODY OVER HIS
PERSON.[11]
In the Petition for Certiorari, petitioner advances the following contentions:
THE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ABUSED ITS DISCRETION WHEN IT REFUSED
TO SET RESPONDENTS MOTION FOR INCREASED SUPPORT FOR THE PARTIES
SON FOR HEARING.[12]
THERE WAS NO NEED FOR THE COURT OF APPEALS TO INCREASE JAVYS
MONTHLY SUPPORT OF P15,000.00 BEING GIVEN BY PETITIONER EVEN AT
PRESENT PRICES.[13]
IN RESOLVING RESPONDENTS MOTION FOR THE INCREASE OF JAVYS SUPPORT,
THE COURT OF APPEALS SHOULD HAVE EXAMINED THE LIST OF EXPENSES
SUBMITTED BY RESPONDENT IN THE LIGHT OF PETITIONERS OBJECTIONS
THERETO, INSTEAD OF MERELY ASSUMING THAT JAVY IS ENTITLED TO A P5,000
INCREASE IN SUPPORT AS SAID AMOUNT IS TOO MINIMAL.[14]
LIKEWISE, THE COURT OF APPEALS SHOULD HAVE GIVEN PETITIONER AN
OPPORTUNITY TO PROVE HIS PRESENT INCOME TO SHOW THAT HE CANNOT
AFFORD TO INCREASE JAVYS SUPPORT.[15]
With regard to the first issue in the main case, the Court of Appeals articulated:
On Assignment of Error C, the trial court, after findings of fact ascertained from the testimonies
not only of the parties particularly the defendant-appellee but likewise, those of the two
psychologists, awarded damages on the basis of Articles 21, 2217 and 2229 of the Civil Code of
the Philippines.
Thus, the lower court found that plaintiff-appellant deceived the defendant-appellee into
marrying him by professing true love instead of revealing to her that he was under heavy
parental pressure to marry and that because of pride he married defendant-appellee; that he was
not ready to enter into marriage as in fact his career was and always would be his first priority;
that he was unable to relate not only to defendant-appellee as a husband but also to his son, Javy,
as a father; that he had no inclination to make the marriage work such that in times of trouble, he
chose the easiest way out, that of leaving defendantappellee and their son; that he had no desire
to keep defendant-appellee and their son as proved by his reluctance and later, refusal to
reconcile after their separation; that the aforementioned caused defendant-appellee to suffer
mental anguish, anxiety, besmirched reputation, sleepless nights not only in those years the
parties were together but also after and throughout their separation.
Plaintiff-appellant assails the trial courts decision on the ground that unlike those arising from a
breach in ordinary contracts, damages arising as a consequence of marriage may not be
awarded. While it is correct that there is, as yet, no decided case by the Supreme Court where
damages by reason of the performance or non-performance of marital obligations were awarded,
it does not follow that no such award for damages may be made.
Defendant-appellee, in her amended answer, specifically prayed for moral and exemplary
damages in the total amount of 7 million pesos. The lower court, in the exercise of its discretion,
found full justification of awarding at least half of what was originally prayed for. We find no
reason to disturb the ruling of the trial court.[16]
The award by the trial court of moral damages is based on Articles 2217 and 21 of the Civil
Code, which read as follows:
ART. 2217. Moral damages include physical suffering, mental anguish, fright, serious anxiety,
besmirched reputation, wounded feelings, moral shock, social humiliation, and similar injury.
Though incapable of pecuniary computation, moral damages may be recovered if they are the
proximate result of the defendants wrongful act or omission.
ART. 21. Any person who wilfully causes loss or injury to another in a manner that is contrary
to morals, good customs or public policy shall compensate the latter for the damage.
The trial court referred to Article 21 because Article 2219[17] of the Civil Code enumerates the
cases in which moral damages may be recovered and it mentions Article 21 as one of the
instances. It must be noted that Article 21 states that the individual must willfully cause loss or
injury to another. There is a need that the act is willful and hence done in complete freedom. In
granting moral damages, therefore, the trial court and the Court of Appeals could not but have
assumed that the acts on which the moral damages were based were done willfully and freely,
otherwise the grant of moral damages would have no leg to stand on.
On the other hand, the trial court declared the marriage of the parties null and void based on
Article 36 of the Family Code, due to psychological incapacity of the petitioner, Noel
Buenaventura. Article 36 of the Family Code states:
A marriage contracted by any party who, at the time of the celebration, was psychologically
incapacitated to comply with the essential marital obligations of marriage, shall likewise be void
even if such incapacity becomes manifest only after its solemnization.
Psychological incapacity has been defined, thus:
. . . no less than a mental (not physical) incapacity that causes a party to be truly incognitive of
the basic marital covenants that concomitantly must be assumed and discharged by the
parties to the marriage which, as so expressed by Article 68 of the Family Code, include their
mutual obligations to live together, observe love, respect and fidelity and render help and
support. There is hardly any doubt that the intendment of the law has been to confine the
meaning of "psychological incapacity" to the most serious cases of personality disorders clearly
demonstrative of an utter insensitivity or inability to give meaning and significance to the
marriage. . . .[18]
The Court of Appeals and the trial court considered the acts of the petitioner after the marriage as
proof of his psychological incapacity, and therefore a product of his incapacity or inability to
comply with the essential obligations of marriage. Nevertheless, said courts considered these
acts as willful and hence as grounds for granting moral damages. It is contradictory to
characterize acts as a product of psychological incapacity, and hence beyond the control of the
party because of an innate inability, while at the same time considering the same set of acts as
willful. By declaring the petitioner as psychologically incapacitated, the possibility of awarding
moral damages on the same set of facts was negated. The award of moral damages should be
predicated, not on the mere act of entering into the marriage, but on specific evidence that it was
done deliberately and with malice by a party who had knowledge of his or her disability and yet
willfully concealed the same. No such evidence appears to have been adduced in this case.
For the same reason, since psychological incapacity means that one is truly incognitive of the
basic marital covenants that one must assume and discharge as a consequence of marriage, it
removes the basis for the contention that the petitioner purposely deceived the private
respondent. If the private respondent was deceived, it was not due to a willful act on the part of
the petitioner. Therefore, the award of moral damages was without basis in law and in fact.
Since the grant of moral damages was not proper, it follows that the grant of exemplary damages
cannot stand since the Civil Code provides that exemplary damages are imposed in addition to
moral, temperate, liquidated or compensatory damages.[19]
With respect to the grant of attorneys fees and expenses of litigation the trial court explained,
thus:
Regarding Attorneys fees, Art. 2208 of the Civil Code authorizes an award of attorneys fees
and expenses of litigation, other than judicial costs, when as in this case the plaintiffs act or
omission has compelled the defendant to litigate and to incur expenses of litigation to protect her
interest (par. 2), and where the Court deems it just and equitable that attorneys fees and
expenses of litigation should be recovered. (par. 11)[20]
The Court of Appeals reasoned as follows:
On Assignment of Error D, as the award of moral and exemplary damages is fully justified, the
award of attorneys fees and costs of litigation by the trial court is likewise fully justified.[21]
The acts or omissions of petitioner which led the lower court to deduce his psychological
incapacity, and his act in filing the complaint for the annulment of his marriage cannot be
considered as unduly compelling the private respondent to litigate, since both are grounded on
petitioners psychological incapacity, which as explained above is a mental incapacity causing an
utter inability to comply with the obligations of marriage. Hence, neither can be a ground for
attorneys fees and litigation expenses. Furthermore, since the award of moral and exemplary
damages is no longer justified, the award of attorneys fees and expenses of litigation is left
without basis.
Anent the retirement benefits received from the Far East Bank and Trust Co. and the shares of
stock in the Manila Memorial Park and the Provident Group of Companies, the trial court said:
The third issue that must be resolved by the Court is what to do with the assets of the conjugal
partnership in the event of declaration of annulment of the marriage. The Honorable Supreme
Court has held that the declaration of nullity of marriage carries ipso facto a judgment for the
liquidation of property (Domingo v. Court of Appeals, et al., G.R. No. 104818, Sept. 17, 1993,
226 SCRA, pp. 572 573, 586). Thus, speaking through Justice Flerida Ruth P. Romero, it was
ruled in this case:
When a marriage is declared void ab initio, the law states that the final judgment therein shall
provide for the liquidation, partition and distribution of the properties of the spouses, the custody
and support of the common children and the delivery of their presumptive legitimes, unless such
matters had been adjudicated in the previous proceedings.
The parties here were legally married on July 4, 1979, and therefore, all property acquired during
the marriage, whether the acquisition appears to have been made, contracted or registered in the
name of one or both spouses, is presumed to be conjugal unless the contrary is proved (Art. 116,
New Family Code; Art. 160, Civil Code). Art. 117 of the Family Code enumerates what are
conjugal partnership properties. Among others they are the following:
1) Those acquired by onerous title during the marriage at the expense of the common fund,
whether the acquisition be for the partnership, or for only one of the spouses;
2) Those obtained from the labor, industry, work or profession of either or both of the spouses;
3) The fruits, natural, industrial, or civil, due or received during the marriage from the common
property, as well as the net fruits from the exclusive property of each spouse. . . .
Applying the foregoing legal provisions, and without prejudice to requiring an inventory of what
are the parties conjugal properties and what are the exclusive properties of each spouse, it was
disclosed during the proceedings in this case that the plaintiff who worked first as Branch
Manager and later as Vice-President of Far East Bank & Trust Co. received separation/retirement
package from the said bank in the amount of P3,701,500.00 which after certain deductions
amounting to P26,164.21 gave him a net amount of P3,675,335.79 and actually paid to him on
January 9, 1995 (Exhs. 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11). Not having shown debts or obligations other than
those deducted from the said retirement/separation pay, under Art. 129 of the Family Code The
net remainder of the conjugal partnership properties shall constitute the profits, which shall be
divided equally between husband and wife, unless a different proportion or division was agreed
upon in the marriage settlement or unless there has been a voluntary waiver or forfeiture of such
share as provided in this Code. In this particular case, however, there had been no marriage
settlement between the parties, nor had there been any voluntary waiver or valid forfeiture of the
defendant wifes share in the conjugal partnership properties. The previous cession and transfer
by the plaintiff of his one-half (1/2) share in their residential house and lot covered by T.C.T. No.
S-35680 of the Registry of Deeds of Paraaque, Metro Manila, in favor of the defendant as
stipulated in their Compromise Agreement dated July 12, 1993, and approved by the Court in its
Partial Decision dated August 6, 1993, was actually intended to be in full settlement of any and
all demands for past support. In reality, the defendant wife had allowed some concession in
favor of the plaintiff husband, for were the law strictly to be followed, in the process of
liquidation of the conjugal assets, the conjugal dwelling and the lot on which it is situated shall,
unless otherwise agreed upon by the parties, be adjudicated to the spouse with whom their only
child has chosen to remain (Art. 129, par. 9). Here, what was done was one-half (1/2) portion of
the house was ceded to defendant so that she will not claim anymore for past unpaid support,
while the other half was transferred to their only child as his presumptive legitime.
Consequently, nothing yet has been given to the defendant wife by way of her share in the
conjugal properties, and it is but just, lawful and fair, that she be given one-half (1/2) share of the
separation/retirement benefits received by the plaintiff the same being part of their conjugal
partnership properties having been obtained or derived from the labor, industry, work or
profession of said defendant husband in accordance with Art. 117, par. 2 of the Family Code.
For the same reason, she is entitled to one-half (1/2) of the outstanding shares of stock of the
plaintiff husband with the Manila Memorial Park and the Provident Group of Companies.[22]
The Court of Appeals articulated on this matter as follows:
On Assignment of Error E, plaintiff-appellant assails the order of the trial court for him to give
one-half of his separation/retirement benefits from Far East Bank & Trust Company and half of
his outstanding shares in Manila Memorial Park and Provident Group of Companies to the
defendant-appellee as the latters share in the conjugal partnership.
On August 6, 1993, the trial court rendered a Partial Decision approving the Compromise
Agreement entered into by the parties. In the same Compromise Agreement, the parties had
agreed that henceforth, their conjugal partnership is dissolved. Thereafter, no steps were taken
for the liquidation of the conjugal partnership.
Finding that defendant-appellee is entitled to at least half of the separation/retirement benefits
which plaintiff-appellant received from Far East Bank & Trust Company upon his retirement as
Vice-President of said company for the reason that the benefits accrued from plaintiff
appellants service for the bank for a number of years, most of which while he was married to
defendant-appellee, the trial court adjudicated the same. The same is true with the outstanding
shares of plaintiff-appellant in Manila Memorial Park and Provident Group of Companies. As
these were acquired by the plaintiff-appellant at the time he was married to defendant-appellee,
the latter is entitled to one-half thereof as her share in the conjugal partnership. We find no
reason to disturb the ruling of the trial court.[23]
Since the present case does not involve the annulment of a bigamous marriage, the provisions of
Article 50 in relation to Articles 41, 42 and 43 of the Family Code, providing for the dissolution
of the absolute community or conjugal partnership of gains, as the case may be, do not apply.
Rather, the general rule applies, which is that in case a marriage is declared void ab initio, the
property regime applicable and to be liquidated, partitioned and distributed is that of equal co-
ownership.
In Valdes v. Regional Trial Court, Branch 102, Quezon City,[24] this Court expounded on the
consequences of a void marriage on the property relations of the spouses and specified the
applicable provisions of law:
The trial court correctly applied the law. In a void marriage, regardless of the cause thereof, the
property relations of the parties during the period of cohabitation is governed by the provisions
of Article 147 or Article 148, such as the case may be, of the Family Code. Article 147 is a
remake of Article 144 of the Civil Code as interpreted and so applied in previous cases; it
provides:
ART. 147. When a man and a woman who are capacitated to marry each other, live
exclusively with each other as husband and wife without the benefit of marriage or under a void
marriage, their wages and salaries shall be owned by them in equal shares and the property
acquired by both of them through their work or industry shall be governed by the rules on co-
ownership.
In the absence of proof to the contrary, properties acquired while they lived together shall be
presumed to have been obtained by their joint efforts, work or industry, and shall be owned by
them in equal shares. For purposes of this Article, a party who did not participate in the
acquisition by the other party of any property shall be deemed to have contributed jointly in the
acquisition thereof if the former's efforts consisted in the care and maintenance of the family and
of the household.
Neither party can encumber or dispose by acts inter vivos of his or her share in the property
acquired during cohabitation and owned in common, without the consent of the other, until after
the termination of their cohabitation.
When only one of the parties to a void marriage is in good faith, the share of the party in bad
faith in the co-ownership shall be forfeited in favor of their common children. In case of default
of or waiver by any or all of the common children or their descendants, each vacant share shall
belong to the respective surviving descendants. In the absence of descendants, such share shall
belong to the innocent party. In all cases, the forfeiture shall take place upon termination of the
cohabitation.
This peculiar kind of co-ownership applies when a man and a woman, suffering no legal
impediment to marry each other, so exclusively live together as husband and wife under a void
marriage or without the benefit of marriage. The term "capacitated" in the provision (in the first
paragraph of the law) refers to the legal capacity of a party to contract marriage, i.e., any "male
or female of the age of eighteen years or upwards not under any of the impediments mentioned
in Articles 37 and 38" of the Code.
Under this property regime, property acquired by both spouses through their work and industry
shall be governed by the rules on equal co-ownership. Any property acquired during the union is
prima facie presumed to have been obtained through their joint efforts. A party who did not
participate in the acquisition of the property shall still be considered as having contributed
thereto jointly if said party's "efforts consisted in the care and maintenance of the family
household." Unlike the conjugal partnership of gains, the fruits of the couple's separate property
are not included in the co-ownership.
Article 147 of the Family Code, in substance and to the above extent, has clarified Article 144 of
the Civil Code; in addition, the law now expressly provides that
(a) Neither party can dispose or encumber by act[s] inter vivos [of] his or her share in co-
ownership property, without the consent of the other, during the period of cohabitation; and
(b) In the case of a void marriage, any party in bad faith shall forfeit his or her share in the co-
ownership in favor of their common children; in default thereof or waiver by any or all of the
common children, each vacant share shall belong to the respective surviving descendants, or still
in default thereof, to the innocent party. The forfeiture shall take place upon the termination of
the cohabitation or declaration of nullity of the marriage.

In deciding to take further cognizance of the issue on the settlement of the parties' common
property, the trial court acted neither imprudently nor precipitately; a court which had
jurisdiction to declare the marriage a nullity must be deemed likewise clothed with authority to
resolve incidental and consequential matters. Nor did it commit a reversible error in ruling that
petitioner and private respondent own the "family home" and all their common property in equal
shares, as well as in concluding that, in the liquidation and partition of the property owned in
common by them, the provisions on co-ownership under the Civil Code, not Articles 50, 51 and
52, in relation to Articles 102 and 129, of the Family Code, should aptly prevail. The rules set up
to govern the liquidation of either the absolute community or the conjugal partnership of gains,
the property regimes recognized for valid and voidable marriages (in the latter case until the
contract is annulled), are irrelevant to the liquidation of the co-ownership that exists between
common-law spouses. The first paragraph of Article 50 of the Family Code, applying paragraphs
(2), (3), (4) and (5) of Article 43, relates only, by its explicit terms, to voidable marriages and,
exceptionally, to void marriages under Article 40 of the Code, i.e., the declaration of nullity of a
subsequent marriage contracted by a spouse of a prior void marriage before the latter is judicially
declared void. The latter is a special rule that somehow recognizes the philosophy and an old
doctrine that void marriages are inexistent from the very beginning and no judicial decree is
necessary to establish their nullity. In now requiring for purposes of remarriage, the declaration
of nullity by final judgment of the previously contracted void marriage, the present law aims to
do away with any continuing uncertainty on the status of the second marriage. It is not then
illogical for the provisions of Article 43, in relation to Articles 41 and 42, of the Family Code, on
the effects of the termination of a subsequent marriage contracted during the subsistence of a
previous marriage to be made applicable pro hac vice. In all other cases, it is not to be assumed
that the law has also meant to have coincident property relations, on the one hand, between
spouses in valid and voidable marriages (before annulment) and, on the other, between common-
law spouses or spouses of void marriages, leaving to ordain, in the latter case, the ordinary rules
on co-ownership subject to the provision of Article 147 and Article 148 of the Family Code. It
must be stressed, nevertheless, even as it may merely state the obvious, that the provisions of the
Family Code on the "family home," i.e., the provisions found in Title V, Chapter 2, of the Family
Code, remain in force and effect regardless of the property regime of the spouses.[25]
Since the properties ordered to be distributed by the court a quo were found, both by the trial
court and the Court of Appeals, to have been acquired during the union of the parties, the same
would be covered by the co-ownership. No fruits of a separate property of one of the parties
appear to have been included or involved in said distribution. The liquidation, partition and
distribution of the properties owned in common by the parties herein as ordered by the court a
quo should, therefore, be sustained, but on the basis of co-ownership and not of the regime of
conjugal partnership of gains.
As to the issue on custody of the parties over their only child, Javy Singh Buenaventura, it is now
moot since he is about to turn twenty-five years of age on May 27, 2005[26] and has, therefore,
attained the age of majority.
With regard to the issues on support raised in the Petition for Certiorari, these would also now
be moot, owing to the fact that the son, Javy Singh Buenaventura, as previously stated, has
attained the age of majority.
WHEREFORE, the Decision of the Court of Appeals dated October 8, 1996 and its Resolution
dated December 10, 1996 which are contested in the Petition for Review (G.R. No. 127449), are
hereby MODIFIED, in that the award of moral and exemplary damages, attorneys fees,
expenses of litigation and costs are deleted. The order giving respondent one-half of the
retirement benefits of petitioner from Far East Bank and Trust Co. and one-half of petitioners
shares of stock in Manila Memorial Park and in the Provident Group of Companies is sustained
but on the basis of the liquidation, partition and distribution of the co-ownership and not of
the regime of conjugal partnership of gains. The rest of said Decision and Resolution are
AFFIRMED.
The Petition for Review on Certiorari (G.R. No. 127358) contesting the Court of Appeals
Resolutions of September 2, 1996 and November 13, 1996 which increased the support pendente
lite in favor of the parties son, Javy Singh Buenaventura, is now MOOT and ACADEMIC and
is, accordingly, DISMISSED.
No costs.
SO ORDERED.
Davide, Jr., C.J., (Chairman), Quisumbing, Ynares-Santiago, and Carpio, JJ., concur.



[1] Rollo (G.R. No.127449), p. 54.
[2] Rollo (G.R. No. 127449), p. 76.
[3] Rollo (G.R. No. 127358), pp. 7-8.
[4] Id. at 136.
[5] Id. at 138.
[6] Id. at 144.
[7] Id. at 153.
[8] G.R. No. 127449.
[9] G.R. No. 127358.
[10] Rollo (G.R. No. 127449), p. 100.
[11] Id. at 32.
[12] Rollo (G. R. No.127358) p. 11.
[13] Id. at 15.
[14] Id. at 17.
[15] Id. at 20.
[16] Rollo (G.R. No. 127449), pp. 81-82.
[17] ART. 2219. Moral damages may be recovered in the following and analogous cases:
(1) A criminal offense resulting in physical injuries;
(2) Quasi-delicts causing physical injuries;
(3) Seduction, abduction, rape, or other lascivious acts;
(4) Adultery or concubinage;
(5) Illegal or arbitrary detention or arrest;
(6) Illegal search;
(7) Libel, slander or any other form of defamation;
(8) Malicious prosecution;
(9) Acts mentioned in article 309;
(10) Acts and actions referred to in articles 21, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 32, 34, and 35.
. . .
[18] Santos v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 112019, 4 January 1995, 240 SCRA 20, 34. Emphasis
supplied.
[19] Article 2229. Exemplary or corrective damages are imposed by way of example or correction
for the public good, in addition to the moral, temperate, liquidated or compensatory damages.
[20] Rollo (G.R. No. 127449), p. 67.
[21] Id. at 82.
[22] Rollo (G.R. No. 127449), pp. 69 -71.
[23] Id. at 82-83.
[24] G.R. No. 122749, 31 July 1996, 260 SCRA 221.
[25] Id. at 226-234. (Emphasis in the original.)
[26] Javy Singh Buenaventura was born on May 27, 1980; Rollo (G.R. No. 127449), p. 56.