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Republic of the Philippines

SUPREME COURT
Manila
THIRD DIVISION

G.R. No. 104818 September 17, 1993


ROBERTO DOMINGO, petitioner,
vs.
COURT OF APPEALS and DELIA SOLEDAD AVERA represented by her Attorneyin-Fact MOISES R. AVERA, respondents.
Jose P.O. Aliling IV for petitioner.
De Guzman, Meneses & Associates for private respondent.

ROMERO, J.:
The instant petition seeks the reversal of respondent court's ruling finding no grave
abuse of discretion in the lower court's order denying petitioner's motion to dismiss the
petition for declaration of nullity of marriage and separation of property.
On May 29, 1991, private respondent Delia Soledad A. Domingo filed a petition before
the Regional Trial Court of Pasig entitled "Declaration of Nullity of Marriage and
Separation of Property" against petitioner Roberto Domingo. The petition which was
docketed as Special Proceedings No. 1989-J alleged among others that: they were
married on November 29, 1976 at the YMCA Youth Center Bldg., as evidenced by a
Marriage Contract Registry No. 1277K-76 with Marriage License No. 4999036 issued at

Carmona, Cavite; unknown to her, he had a previous marriage with one Emerlina dela
Paz on April 25, 1969 which marriage is valid and still existing; she came to know of the
prior marriage only sometime in 1983 when Emerlina dela Paz sued them for bigamy;
from January 23 1979 up to the present, she has been working in Saudi Arabia and she
used to come to the Philippines only when she would avail of the one-month annual
vacation leave granted by her foreign employer since 1983 up to the present, he has
been unemployed and completely dependent upon her for support and subsistence; out
of her personal earnings, she purchased real and personal properties with a total amount
of approximately P350,000.00, which are under the possession and administration of
Roberto; sometime in June 1989, while on her one-month vacation, she discovered that
he was cohabiting with another woman; she further discovered that he had been
disposing of some of her properties without her knowledge or consent; she confronted
him about this and thereafter appointed her brother Moises R. Avera as her attorney-infact to take care of her properties; he failed and refused to turn over the possession and
administration of said properties to her brother/attorney-in-fact; and he is not authorized
to administer and possess the same on account of the nullity of their marriage. The
petition prayed that a temporary restraining order or a writ of preliminary injunction be
issued enjoining Roberto from exercising any act of administration and ownership over
said properties; their marriage be declared null and void and of no force and effect; and
Delia Soledad be declared the sole and exclusive owner of all properties acquired at the
time of their void marriage and such properties be placed under the proper management
and administration of the attorney-in-fact.
Petitioner filed a Motion to Dismiss on the ground that the petition stated no cause of
action. The marriage being void ab initio, the petition for the declaration of its nullity is,
therefore, superfluous and unnecessary. It added that private respondent has no
property which is in his possession.
On August 20, 1991, Judge Maria Alicia M. Austria issued an Order denying the motion
to dismiss for lack of merit. She explained:
Movant argues that a second marriage contracted after a first marriage
by a man with another woman is illegal and void (citing the case of Yap v.

Court of Appeals, 145 SCRA 229) and no judicial decree is necessary to


establish the invalidity of a void marriage (citing the cases of People v.
Aragon, 100 Phil. 1033; People v. Mendoza, 95 Phil. 845). Indeed, under
the Yap case there is no dispute that the second marriage contracted by
respondent with herein petitioner after a first marriage with another
woman is illegal and void. However, as to whether or not the second
marriage should first be judicially declared a nullity is not an issue in said
case. In the case of Vda. de Consuegra v. GSIS, the Supreme Court
ruled in explicit terms, thus:
And with respect to the right of the second wife, this Court
observed that although the second marriage can be
presumed to be void ab initio as it was celebrated while
the first marriage was still subsisting, still there is need for
judicial declaration of its nullity. (37 SCRA 316, 326)
The above ruling which is of later vintage deviated from
the previous rulings of the Supreme Court in the
aforecited cases of Aragon and Mendoza.
Finally, the contention of respondent movant that
petitioner has no property in his possession is an issue
that may be determined only after trial on the merits. 1
A motion for reconsideration was filed stressing the erroneous application of Vda. de
Consuegra v. GSIS 2 and the absence of justiciable controversy as to the nullity of the
marriage. On September 11, 1991, Judge Austria denied the motion for reconsideration and
gave petitioner fifteen (15) days from receipt within which to file his answer.
Instead of filing the required answer, petitioner filed a special civil action
of certiorari and mandamus on the ground that the lower court acted with grave abuse of
discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction in denying the motion to dismiss.

On February 7, 1992, the Court of Appeals 3 dismissed the petition. It explained that the
case of Yap v. CA 4 cited by petitioner and that of Consuegra v. GSIS relied upon by the lower
court do not have relevance in the case at bar, there being no identity of facts because these
cases dealt with the successional rights of the second wife while the instant case prays for
separation of property corollary with the declaration of nullity of marriage. It observed that the
separation and subsequent distribution of the properties acquired during the union can be
had only upon proper determination of the status of the marital relationship between said
parties, whether or not the validity of the first marriage is denied by petitioner. Furthermore, in
order to avoid duplication and multiplicity of suits, the declaration of nullity of marriage may be
invoked in this proceeding together with the partition and distribution of the properties
involved. Citing Articles 48, 50 and 52 of the Family Code, it held that private respondent's
prayer for declaration of absolute nullity of their marriage may be raised together with other
incidents of their marriage such as the separation of their properties. Lastly, it noted that since
the Court has jurisdiction, the alleged error in refusing to grant the motion to dismiss is merely
one of law for which the remedy ordinarily would have been to file an answer, proceed with
the trial and in case of an adverse decision, reiterate the issue on appeal. The motion for
reconsideration was subsequently denied for lack of merit. 5
Hence, this petition.
The two basic issues confronting the Court in the instant case are the following.
First, whether or not a petition for judicial declaration of a void marriage is necessary. If in
the affirmative, whether the same should be filed only for purposes of remarriage.
Second, whether or not SP No. 1989-J is the proper remedy of private respondent to
recover certain real and personal properties allegedly belonging to her exclusively.
Petitioner, invoking the ruling in People v. Aragon 6 and People v. Mendoza, 7 contends that
SP. No. 1989-J for Declaration of Nullity of Marriage and Separation of Property filed by
private respondent must be dismissed for being unnecessary and superfluous. Furthermore,
under his own interpretation of Article 40 of the Family Code, he submits that a petition for
declaration of absolute nullity of marriage is required only for purposes of remarriage. Since

the petition in SP No. 1989-J contains no allegation of private respondent's intention to


remarry, said petition should therefore, be dismissed.

On the other hand, private respondent insists on the necessity of a judicial declaration of
the nullity of their marriage, not for purposes of remarriage, but in order to provide a
basis for the separation and distribution of the properties acquired during coverture.
There is no question that the marriage of petitioner and private respondent celebrated
while the former's previous marriage with one Emerlina de la Paz was still subsisting, is
bigamous. As such, it is from the beginning. 8Petitioner himself does not dispute the
absolute nullity of their marriage. 9
The cases of People v. Aragon and People v. Mendoza relied upon by petitioner are
cases where the Court had earlier ruled that no judicial decree is necessary to establish
the invalidity of a void, bigamous marriage. It is noteworthy to observe that Justice Alex
Reyes, however, dissented on these occasions stating that:
Though the logician may say that where the former marriage was void
there would be nothing to dissolve, still it is not for the spouses to judge
whether that marriage was void or not. That judgment is reserved to the
courts. . . . 10
This dissenting opinion was adopted as the majority position in subsequent cases
involving the same issue. Thus, in Gomez v. Lipana, 11 the Court abandoned its earlier
ruling in the Aragon and Mendoza cases. In reversing the lower court's order forfeiting the
husband's share of the disputed property acquired during the second marriage, the Court
stated that "if the nullity, or annulment of the marriage is the basis for the application of Article
1417, there is need for a judicial declaration thereof, which of course contemplates an action
for that purpose."
Citing Gomez v. Lipana, the Court subsequently held in Vda. de Consuegra
v. Government Service Insurance System, that "although the second marriage can be
presumed to be void ab initio as it was celebrated while the first marriage was still
subsisting, still there is need for judicial declaration of such nullity."

In Tolentino v. Paras, 12 however, the Court turned around and applied


the Aragon and Mendoza ruling once again. In granting the prayer of the first wife asking for a
declaration as the lawful surviving spouse and the correction of the death certificate of her
deceased husband, it explained that "(t)he second marriage that he contracted with private
respondent during the lifetime of his first spouse is null and void from the beginning and of no
force and effect. No judicial decree is necessary to establish the invalidity of a void marriage."
However, in the more recent case of Wiegel v. Sempio-Diy 13 the Court reverted to
the Consuegra case and held that there was "no need of introducing evidence about the
existing prior marriage of her first husband at the time they married each other, for then such
a marriage though void still needs according to this Court a judicial declaration of such fact
and for all legal intents and purposes she would still be regarded as a married woman at the
time she contracted her marriage with respondent Karl Heinz Wiegel."
Came the Family Code which settled once and for all the conflicting jurisprudence on the
matter. A declaration of the absolute nullity of a marriage is now explicitly required either
as a cause of action or a ground for defense. 14Where the absolute nullity of a previous
marriage is sought to be invoked for purposes of contracting a second marriage, the sole
basis acceptable in law for said projected marriage be free from legal infirmity is a final
judgment declaring the previous marriage void. 15
The Family Law Revision Committee and the Civil Code Revision Committee 16 which
drafted what is now the Family Code of the Philippines took the position that parties to a
marriage should not be allowed to assume that their marriage is void even if such be the fact
but must first secure a judicial declaration of the nullity of their marriage before they can be
allowed to marry again. This is borne out by the following minutes of the 152nd Joint Meeting
of the Civil Code and Family Law Committees where the present Article 40, then Art. 39, was
discussed.
B. Article 39.
The absolute nullity of a marriage may be invoked only on
the basis of a final judgment declaring the marriage void,
except as provided in Article 41.

Justice Caguioa remarked that the above provision should include not
only void but also voidable marriages. He then suggested that the above
provision be modified as follows:
The validity of a marriage may be invoked only . . .
Justice Reyes (J.B.L. Reyes), however, proposed that they say:
The validity or invalidity of a marriage may be invoked
only . . .
On the other hand, Justice Puno suggested that they say:
The invalidity of a marriage may be invoked only . . .
Justice Caguioa explained that his idea is that one cannot determine for
himself whether or not his marriage is valid and that a court action is
needed. Justice Puno accordingly proposed that the provision be
modified to read:
The invalidity of a marriage may be invoked only on the
basis of a final judgment annulling the marriage or
declaring the marriage void, except as provided in Article
41.
Justice Caguioa remarked that in annulment, there is no question. Justice
Puno, however, pointed out that, even if it is a judgment of annulment,
they still have to produce the judgment.
Justice Caguioa suggested that they say:

The invalidity of a marriage may be invoked only on the


basis of a final judgment declaring the marriage invalid,
except as provided in Article 41.
Justice Puno raised the question: When a marriage is declared invalid,
does it include the annulment of a marriage and the declaration that the
marriage is void? Justice Caguioa replied in the affirmative. Dean Gupit
added that in some judgments, even if the marriage is annulled, it is
declared void. Justice Puno suggested that this matter be made clear in
the provision.
Prof. Baviera remarked that the original idea in the provision is to require
first a judicial declaration of a void marriage and not annullable
marriages, with which the other members concurred. Judge Diy added
that annullable marriages are presumed valid until a direct action is filed
to annul it, which the other members affirmed. Justice Puno remarked
that if this is so, then the phrase "absolute nullity" can stand since it might
result in confusion if they change the phrase to "invalidity" if what they are
referring to in the provision is the declaration that the marriage is void.
Prof. Bautista commented that they will be doing away with collateral
defense as well as collateral attack. Justice Caguioa explained that the
idea in the provision is that there should be a final judgment declaring the
marriage void and a party should not declare for himself whether or not
the marriage is void, while the other members affirmed. Justice Caguioa
added that they are, therefore, trying to avoid a collateral attack on that
point. Prof. Bautista stated that there are actions which are brought on
the assumption that the marriage is valid. He then asked: Are they
depriving one of the right to raise the defense that he has no liability
because the basis of the liability is void? Prof. Bautista added that they
cannot say that there will be no judgment on the validity or invalidity of
the marriage because it will be taken up in the same proceeding. It will
not be a unilateral declaration that, it is a void marriage. Justice Caguioa

saw the point of Prof. Bautista and suggested that they limit the provision
to remarriage. He then proposed that Article 39 be reworded as follows:
The absolute nullity of a marriage for purposes of
remarriage may be invoked only on the basis of final
judgment . . .
Justice Puno suggested that the above be modified as follows:
The absolute nullity of a previous marriage may be
invoked for purposes of establishing the validity of a
subsequent marriage only on the basis of a final judgment
declaring such previous marriage void, except as
provided in Article 41.

declaring the nullity of a previous marriage, said subsequent marriage is


void ab initio.
After further deliberation, Justice Puno suggested that they go back to
the original wording of the provision as follows:
The absolute nullity of a previous marriage may be
invoked for purposes of remarriage only on the basis of a
final judgment declaring such previous marriage void,
except as provided in Article 41. 17
In fact, the requirement for a declaration of absolute nullity of a marriage is also for the
protection of the spouse who, believing that his or her marriage is illegal and void,
marries again. With the judicial declaration of the nullity of his or her first marriage, the
person who marries again cannot be charged with bigamy. 18

Justice Puno later modified the above as follows:


For the purpose of establishing the validity of a
subsequent marriage, the absolute nullity of a previous
marriage may only be invoked on the basis of a final
judgment declaring such nullity, except as provided in
Article 41.
Justice Caguioa commented that the above provision is too broad and
will not solve the objection of Prof. Bautista. He proposed that they say:
For the purpose of entering into a subsequent marriage,
the absolute nullity of a previous marriage may only be
invoked on the basis of a final judgment declaring such
nullity, except as provided in Article 41.
Justice Caguioa explained that the idea in the above provision is that if
one enters into a subsequent marriage without obtaining a final judgment

Just over a year ago, the Court made the pronouncement that there is a necessity for a
declaration of absolute nullity of a prior subsisting marriage before contracting another in
the recent case of Terre v. Terre. 19 The Court, in turning down the defense of respondent
Terre who was charged with grossly immoral conduct consisting of contracting a second
marriage and living with another woman other than complainant while his prior marriage with
the latter remained subsisting, said that "for purposes of determining whether a person is
legally free to contract a second marriage, a judicial declaration that the first marriage was
null and void ab initio is essential."
As regards the necessity for a judicial declaration of absolute nullity of marriage,
petitioner submits that the same can be maintained only if it is for the purpose of
remarriage. Failure to allege this purpose, according to petitioner's theory, will warrant
dismissal of the same.
Article 40 of the Family Code provides:

Art. 40. The absolute nullity of a previous marriage may be invoked for
purposes of remarriage on the basis solely of a final judgment declaring
such previous marriage void. (n)
Crucial to the proper interpretation of Article 40 is the position in the provision of the word
"solely." As it is placed, the same shows that it is meant to qualify "final judgment
declaring such previous marriage void." Realizing the need for careful craftsmanship in
conveying the precise intent of the Committee members, the provision in question, as it
finally emerged, did not state "The absolute nullity of a previous marriage may be
invoked solely for purposes of remarriage . . .," in which case "solely" would clearly
qualify the phrase "for purposes of remarriage." Had the phraseology been such, the
interpretation of petitioner would have been correct and, that is, that the absolute nullity
of a previous marriage may be invoked solely for purposes of remarriage, thus rendering
irrelevant the clause "on the basis solely of a final judgment declaring such previous
marriage void."
That Article 40 as finally formulated included the significant clause denotes that such final
judgment declaring the previous marriage void need not be obtained only for purposes of
remarriage. Undoubtedly, one can conceive of other instances where a party might well
invoke the absolute nullity of a previous marriage for purposes other than remarriage,
such as in case of an action for liquidation, partition, distribution and separation of
property between the erstwhile spouses, as well as an action for the custody and support
of their common children and the delivery of the latters' presumptive legitimes. In such
cases, evidence needs must be adduced, testimonial or documentary, to prove the
existence of grounds rendering such a previous marriage an absolute nullity. These need
not be limited solely to an earlier final judgment of a court declaring such previous
marriage void. Hence, in the instance where a party who has previously contracted a
marriage which remains subsisting desires to enter into another marriage which is legally
unassailable, he is required by law to prove that the previous one was an absolute nullity.
But this he may do on the basis solely of a final judgment declaring such previous
marriage void.

This leads us to the question: Why the distinction? In other words, for purposes of
remarriage, why should the only legally acceptable basis for declaring a previous
marriage an absolute nullity be a final judgment declaring such previous marriage void?
Whereas, for purposes other than remarriage, other evidence is acceptable?
Marriage, a sacrosanct institution, declared by the Constitution as an "inviolable social
institution, is the foundation of the family;" as such, it "shall be protected by the
State." 20 In more explicit terms, the Family Code characterizes it as "a special contract of
permanent union between a man and a woman entered into in accordance with law for the
establishment of conjugal, and family life." 21 So crucial are marriage and the family to the
stability and peace of the nation that their "nature, consequences, and incidents are governed
by law and not subject to stipulation . . ." 22 As a matter of policy, therefore, the nullification of
a marriage for the purpose of contracting another cannot be accomplished merely on the
basis of the perception of both parties or of one that their union is so defective with respect to
the essential requisites of a contract of marriage as to render it void ipso jure and with no
legal effect and nothing more. Were this so, this inviolable social institution would be
reduced to a mockery and would rest on very shaky foundations indeed. And the grounds for
nullifying marriage would be as diverse and far-ranging as human ingenuity and fancy could
conceive. For such a social significant institution, an official state pronouncement through the
courts, and nothing less, will satisfy the exacting norms of society. Not only would such an
open and public declaration by the courts definitively confirm the nullity of the contract of
marriage, but the same would be easily verifiable through records accessible to everyone.
That the law seeks to ensure that a prior marriage is no impediment to a second sought
to be contracted by one of the parties may be gleaned from new information required in
the Family Code to be included in the application for a marriage license, viz, "If
previously married, how, when and where the previous marriage was dissolved and
annulled." 23
Reverting to the case before us, petitioner's interpretation of Art. 40 of the Family Code
is, undoubtedly, quite restrictive. Thus, his position that private respondent's failure to
state in the petition that the same is filed to enable her to remarry will result in the
dismissal of SP No. 1989-J is untenable. His misconstruction of Art. 40 resulting from the

misplaced emphasis on the term "solely" was in fact anticipated by the members of the
Committee.
Dean Gupit commented the word "only" may be misconstrued to refer to
"for purposes of remarriage." Judge Diy stated that "only" refers to "final
judgment." Justice Puno suggested that they say "on the basis only of a
final judgment." Prof. Baviera suggested that they use the legal term
"solely" instead of "only," which the Committee approved. 24 (Emphasis
supplied)
Pursuing his previous argument that the declaration for absolute nullity of marriage is
unnecessary, petitioner suggests that private respondent should have filed an ordinary
civil action for the recovery of the properties alleged to have been acquired during their
union. In such an eventuality, the lower court would not be acting as a mere special court
but would be clothed with jurisdiction to rule on the issues of possession and ownership.
In addition, he pointed out that there is actually nothing to separate or partition as the
petition admits that all the properties were acquired with private respondent's money.
The Court of Appeals disregarded this argument and concluded that "the prayer for
declaration of absolute nullity of marriage may be raised together with the other incident
of their marriage such as the separation of their properties."
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 previous judicial
proceedings." 25 Other specific effects flowing therefrom, in proper cases, are the following:
Art. 43. xxx xxx xxx
(2) The absolute community of property or the conjugal partnership, as
the case may be, shall be dissolved and liquidated, but if either spouse
contracted said marriage in bad faith, his or her share of the net profits of

the community property or conjugal partnership property shall be forfeited


in favor of the common children or, if there are none, the children of the
guilty spouse by a previous marriage or, in default of children, the
innocent spouse;
(3) Donations by reason of marriage shall remain valid, except that if the
donee contracted the marriage in bad faith, such donations made to said
donee are revoked by operation of law;
(4) The innocent spouse may revoke the designation of the other spouse
who acted in bad faith as a beneficiary in any insurance policy, even if
such designation be stipulated as irrevocable; and
(5) The spouse who contracted the subsequent marriage in bad faith
shall be disqualified to inherit from the innocent spouse by testate and
intestate succession. (n)
Art. 44. If both spouses of the subsequent marriage acted in bad faith,
said marriage shall be void ab initio and all donations by reason of
marriage and testamentary disposition made by one in favor of the other
are revoked by operation of law. (n) 26
Based on the foregoing provisions, private respondent's ultimate prayer for separation of
property will simply be one of the necessary consequences of the judicial declaration of
absolute nullity of their marriage. Thus, petitioner's suggestion that in order for their
properties to be separated, an ordinary civil action has to be instituted for that purpose is
baseless. The Family Code has clearly provided the effects of the declaration of nullity of
marriage, one of which is the separation of property according to the regime of property
relations governing them. It stands to reason that the lower court before whom the issue
of nullity of a first marriage is brought is likewise clothed with jurisdiction to decide the
incidental questions regarding the couple's properties. Accordingly, the respondent court
committed no reversible error in finding that the lower court committed no grave abuse of
discretion in denying petitioner's motion to dismiss SP No. 1989-J.

WHEREFORE, the instant petition is hereby DENIED. The decision of respondent Court
dated February 7, 1992 and the Resolution dated March 20, 1992 are AFFIRMED.
SO ORDERED.
Bidin and Melo, JJ., concur.
Feliciano, J., is on leave.

Separate Opinions
VITUG, J., concurring:
I concur with the opinion so well expressed by Mme. Justice Flerida Ruth P. Romero. I
should like, however, to put in a modest observation.
Void marriages are inexistent from the very beginning and, I believe, no judicial decree
is required to establish their nullity, except in the following instances:
(a) For purposes of remarriage pursuant to the provision of Article 40 of the Family
Code; viz.:

A void marriage, even without its being judicially declared a nullity, albeit the preferability
for, and justiciability (fully discussed in the majority opinion) of, such a declaration, will
not give it the status or the consequences of a valid marriage, saving only specific
instances where certain effects of a valid marriage can still flow from the void marriage.
Examples of these cases are children of void marriages under Article 36 (due to
psychological incapacity) and Article 53, in relation to Article 52 (due to failure of partition,
delivery of presumptive legitimes of children and recording thereof following the
annulment or declaration of nullity a prior marriage), conceived or born before the judicial
declaration of nullity of such void marriages, who the law deems as legitimate (Article 54,
Family Code).
In most, if not in all, other cases, a void marriage is to be considered extant per se.
Neither the conjugal, partnership of gain under the old regime nor the absolute
community of property under the new Code (absent a marriage settlement), will apply;
instead, their property relations shall be governed by the co-ownership rules under either
Article 147 or Article 148 of the Family Code. I must hasten to add as a personal view,
however, that the exceptional effects on children of a void marriage because of the
psychological incapacity of a party thereto should have been extended to cover even the
personal and property relations of the spouses. Unlike the other cases of void marriages
where the grounds therefor may be established by hard facts and with little uncertainty,
the term "psychological incapacity" is so relative and unsettling that until a judicial
declaration of nullity is made its interim effects can long and literally hang on the balance
not only insofar as the spouses themselves are concerned but also as regards third
persons with whom the spouses deal.

The absolute nullity of a previous marriage may be invoked for purposes


of remarriage on the basis solely of a final judgment declaring such
previous marriage void. (n)
(b) A marriage celebrated prior to the effectivity of the Family Code in case a party
thereto was psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential marital obligations
of marriage (Article 36, Family Code), where an action or defense for the declaration of
nullity prescribes ten (10) years after the Family Code took effect (Article 39, Family
Code); otherwise, the marriage is deemed unaffected by the Family Code.

# Separate Opinions
VITUG, J., concurring:

I concur with the opinion so well expressed by Mme. Justice Flerida Ruth P. Romero. I
should like, however, to put in a modest observation.
Void marriages are inexistent from the very beginning and, I believe, no judicial decree
is required to establish their nullity, except in the following instances:
(a) For purposes of remarriage pursuant to the provision of Article 40 of the Family
Code; viz.:
The absolute nullity of a previous marriage may be invoked for purposes
of remarriage on the basis solely of a final judgment declaring such
previous marriage void. (n)
(b) A marriage celebrated prior to the effectivity of the Family Code in case a party
thereto was psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential marital obligations
of marriage (Article 36, Family Code), where an action or defense for the declaration of
nullity prescribes ten (10) years after the Family Code took effect (Article 39, Family
Code); otherwise, the marriage is deemed unaffected by the Family Code.
A void marriage, even without its being judicially declared a nullity, albeit the preferability
for, and justiciability (fully discussed in the majority opinion) of, such a declaration, will
not give it the status or the consequences of a valid marriage, saving only specific
instances where certain effects of a valid marriage can still flow from the void marriage.
Examples of these cases are children of void marriages under Article 36 (due to
psychological incapacity) and Article 53, in relation to Article 52 (due to failure of partition,
delivery of presumptive legitimes of children and recording thereof following the
annulment or declaration of nullity a prior marriage), conceived or born before the judicial
declaration of nullity of such void marriages, who the law deems as legitimate (Article 54,
Family Code).
In most, if not in all, other cases, a void marriage is to be considered extant per se.
Neither the conjugal, partnership of gain under the old regime nor the absolute
community of property under the new Code (absent a marriage settlement), will apply;

instead, their property relations shall be governed by the co-ownership rules under either
Article 147 or Article 148 of the Family Code. I must hasten to add as a personal view,
however, that the exceptional effects on children of a void marriage because of the
psychological incapacity of a party thereto should have been extended to cover even the
personal and property relations of the spouses. Unlike the other cases of void marriages
where the grounds therefor may be established by hard facts and with little uncertainty,
the term "psychological incapacity" is so relative and unsettling that until a judicial
declaration of nullity is made its interim effects can long and literally hang on the balance
not only insofar as the spouses themselves are concerned but also as regards third
persons with whom the spouses deal.
# Footnotes
1 Annex "C", Rollo, pp. 28-29.
2 L-28093, January 30, 1971, 37 SCRA 315.
3 Annex "J", Rollo, pp. 62-67, Justice Jorge S. Imperial, ponente and
Justices Luis A. Javellana and Serafin V.C. Guingona, concurring.
4 L-40003, October 28, 1986, 145 SCRA 229.
5 Annex "M", Rollo, p. 80.
6 100 Phil. 1033 (1957).
7 95 Phil. 845 (1954).
8 CIVIL CODE, art. 80, par. 4; FAMILY CODE, arts. 35, par. 4 and 41.
9 Rollo, pp. 102 and 106.
10 See: Note 6 at p. 1036; Note 7 at p. 848.

11 L-23214, June 30, 1970, 33 SCRA 615, 620-621.

25 Art. 50 (2).

12 L-43905, May 30, 1983, 122 SCRA 525.

26 In relation to Art. 50 (1) The effects provided for in paragraphs (2),


(3), (4) and (5) of Article 43 and in Article 44 shall also apply in proper
cases to marriages which are declared void ab initio or annulled by final
judgment under Articles 40 and 45.

13 G.R. No. 53703, August 19, 1986, 143 SCRA 499.


14 FAMILY CODE, art. 39.
15 Id., art. 40. See also: arts. 11, 13, 42, 44, 48, 50, 52, 54, 86, 99, 147,
148.
16 The Family Law Revision Committee of the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines (IBP) prepared the draft of the revision of Book I of the Civil
Code of the Philippines. After more than four years, the draft was turned
over to the Civil Code Revision Committee of the UP Law Center which
reviewed and revised the same for more than three years.
17 August 23, 1986, pp. 4-7.
18 J. A.V. SEMPIO-DIY, HANDBOOK OF THE FAMILY CODE OF THE
PHILIPPINES, 46 (1988).
19 Adm. Case No. 2349, July 3, 1992, 211 SCRA 6, 11.
20 CONST., art. XV, sec. 2.
21 FAMILY CODE, art. 1.
22 Id.
23 Id., art. 11.
24 See: Note 17, at p. 7.

The issue before us however is not the scope nor even the interpretation of Art. 36 of the
Family Code. 1 Rather, the issue is the sufficiency of the allegations in the petition for
annulment of marriage and the subsequent bill of particulars filed in amplification of the
petition.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
FIRST DIVISION

G.R. No. 106429 June 13, 1994


JOSELITA SALITA, petitioner,
vs.
HON. DELILAH MAGTOLIS, in her capacity as Judge of the RTC, Quezon City, Br.
107, and ERWIN ESPINOSA, respondents.
Alfredo F. Tadiar for petitioner.
Yolanda, Quisumbing-Javellana & Associates for private respondent.

BELLOSILLO, J.:
Erwin Espinosa, 32, and Joselita Salita, 22, were married at the Roman Catholic Church
in Ermita, Manila, on 25 January 1986. A year later, their union turned sour. They
separated in fact in 1988. Subsequently, Erwin sued for annulment on the ground of
Joselitas psychological incapacity.

The petition for annulment was filed before the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City on 7
January 1992. Therein it is alleged that "[s]ometime in 1987, petitioner came to realize
that respondent was psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential marital
obligations of their marriage, which incapacity existed at the time of the marriage
although the same became manifest only thereafter." 2 Dissatisfied with the allegation in
the petition, Joselita moved for a bill of particulars which the trial court
granted. 3 Subsequently, in his Bill of Particulars, Edwin specified that
. . . at the time of their marriage, respondent (Joselita Salita) was
psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential marital
obligations of their marriage in that she was unable to understand and
accept the demands made by his profession that of a newly qualified
Doctor of Medicine upon petitioners time and efforts so that she
frequently complained of his lack of attention to her even to her mother,
whose intervention caused petitioner to lose his job.
Still Joselita was not contented with the Bill of Particulars. She argued that the "assertion
(in the Bill of Particulars) is a statement of legal conclusion made by petitioners counsel
and not an averment of ultimate facts, as required by the Rules of Court, from which
such a conclusion may properly be inferred . . . ." 4 But finding the questioned Bill of
Particulars adequate, the trial court issued an order upholding its sufficiency and directing
Joselita to file her responsive pleading.
Joselita was not convinced. She filed a petition for certiorari with us. However, we
referred her petition to the Court of Appeals for resolution.
On 21 July 1992, the Court of Appeals denied due course to her petition thus

In the case under consideration, Espinosa has amplified Salitas alleged


psychological incapacity in his bill of particulars . . .
In our view, the aforesaid specification more than satisfies the Rules
requirement that a complaint must allege the ultimate facts constituting a
plaintiffs cause of action. To require more details thereof, to insist on a
specification of Salitas particular conduct or behavior with the
corresponding circumstances of time, place and person indicating her
alleged psychological incapacity would be to ask for information on
evidentiary matters. To obtain evidentiary details, Salita may avail herself
of the different modes of discovery provided by the Rules of Court
(Rules 24 to 28).
Whether Espinosas averments in his bill of particulars constitute
psychological incapacity in the contemplation of the Family Code is a
question that may be resolved in a motion to dismiss or after trial on the
merits of the case, not in a motion for bill of particulars. And certainly, that
matter cannot be resolved in the present petition. 5
Hence, the instant petition for review on certiorari filed by Joselita Salita questioning the
Resolution of the Court of Appeals denying due course to her petition.
Petitioner insists that the allegations in the Bill of Particulars constitute a legal
conclusion, not an averment of facts, and fail to point out the specific essential marital
obligations she allegedly was not able to perform, and thus render the Bill of Particulars
insufficient if not irrelevant to her husbands cause of action. She rationalizes that her
insistence on the specification of her particular conduct or behavior with the
corresponding circumstances of time, place and person does not call for information on
evidentiary matters because without these details she cannot adequately and intelligently
prepare her answer to the petition.

Private respondent on the other hand believes that his allegations in the Bill of
Particulars constitute the ultimate facts which the Rules of Court requires at this point. He
defines ultimate facts as
. . . important and substantial facts which either directly form the basis of
the primary right and duty, or which directly make upon the wrongful acts
or omissions of the defendant. The term does not refer to the details of
probative matter or particulars of evidence by which these material
elements are to be established. It refers to principal, determinate facts
upon the existence of which the entire cause of action rests. 6
Ultimate facts are conclusions drawn from intermediate and evidentiary facts,
or allegations of mixed law and fact; they are conclusions from reflection and
natural reasoning on evidentiary fact. The ultimate facts which are to be
pleaded are the issuable, constitutive, or traversible facts essential to the
statement of the cause of action; the facts which the evidence on the trial will
prove, and not the evidence which will be required to prove the existence of
those facts . . . 7

Private respondent further argues that "[c]onclusions of law and evidentiary matters need
not be stated in the complaint. The rules of pleading limit the statement of the cause of
action only to such operative facts as would give rise to the right of action of the plaintiff
to obtain relief against the wrongdoer. The details of probative matter or particulars of
evidence, statements of law, inferences and arguments need not be stated." 8
In a nutshell, the ultimate question is whether the Bill of Particulars submitted by herein
respondent is of sufficient definiteness or particularity as to enable herein petitioner to
properly prepare her responsive pleading or for trial.
A complaint only needs to state the "ultimate facts constituting the plaintiffs cause or
causes of action." 9 Ultimate facts has been defined as "those facts which the expected
evidence will support." 10 As stated by private respondent, "[t]he term does not refer to the
details of probative matter or particulars of evidence by which these material elements are to
be established." It refers to "the facts which the evidence on the trial will prove, and not the

evidence which will be required to prove the existence of those facts." And a motion for bill of
particulars will not be granted if the complaint, while not very definite, nonetheless already
states a sufficient cause of action. 11 A motion for bill of particulars may not call for matters
which should form part of the proof of the complaint upon trial. Such information may be
obtained by other means. 12

We sustain the view of respondent Court of Appeals that the Bill of Particulars filed by
private respondent is sufficient to state a cause of action, and to require more details
from private respondent would be to ask for information on evidentiary matters. Indeed,
petitioner has already been adequately apprised of private respondents cause of action
against her thus
. . . . (she) was psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential
marital obligations of their marriage in that she was unable to understand
and accept the demands made by his profession that of a newly
qualified Doctor of Medicine upon petitioners time and efforts so that
she frequently complained of his lack of attention to her even to her
mother, whose intervention caused petitioner to lose his job.
On the basis of the aforequoted allegations, it is evident that petitioner can already
prepare her responsive pleading or for trial. Private respondent has already alleged that
"she (petitioner) was unable to understand and accept the demands made by his
profession . . . upon his time and efforts . . . " Certainly, she can respond to this. To
demand for more details would indeed be asking for information on evidentiary facts
facts necessary to prove essential or ultimate facts. 13 For sure, the additional facts called
for by petitioner regarding her particular acts or omissions would be evidentiary, and to obtain
evidentiary matters is not the function of a motion for bill of particulars. 14
We distinguish the instant case from Tantuico, Jr. v. Republic 15 where we said
Furthermore, the particulars prayed for such as names of persons,
names of corporations, dates, amounts involved, a specification of
property for identification purposes, the particular transactions involving
withdrawals and disbursements, and a statement of other material facts

as would support the conclusions and inferences in the complaint, are not
evidentiary in nature. On the contrary, those particulars are material facts
that should be clearly and definitely averred in the complaint in order that
the defendant may, in fairness, be informed of the claims made against
him to the end that he may be prepared to meet the issues at the trial.
The aforementioned pronouncement cannot apply to the instant case. That ruling
involves alleged "misappropriation and theft of public funds, plunder of the nations
wealth, extortion, blackmail, bribery, embezzlement, and other acts of corruption,
betrayal of public trust and brazen abuse of power." The respondents therein pray for
reconveyance, reversion, accounting, restitution and damages. There, the alleged illicit
acts should be fully documented. The instant case, on the other hand, concerns marital
relationship. It would be unreasonable, if not unfeeling, to document each and every
circumstance of marital disagreement. True, the complaining spouse will have to prove
his case, but that will not come until trial begins.
Consequently, we have no other recourse but to order the immediate resumption of the
annulment proceeding which have already been delayed for more than two years now,
even before it could reach its trial stage. Whether petitioner is psychologically
incapacitated should be immediately determined. There is no point in unreasonably
delaying the resolution of the petition and prolonging the agony of the wedded couple
who after coming out from a storm still have the right to a renewed blissful life either
alone or in the company of each other.
A word on Art. 36 of the Family Code. 16 We do not see the need to define or limit the scope
of the provision. Not in this case, at least. For, we are not called upon to do so, the actual
controversy being the sufficiency of the bill of particulars. To interpret the provision at this
juncture would be to give an obiter dictum which is ill-timed. Besides, it appears that petitioner
in her memorandum has demonstrated a good grasp of what Art. 36 actually covers. Suffice it
to say that Mme. Justice Sempio-Diy, formerly of the Court of Appeals and a member of the
Civil Code Revision Committee that drafted the Family code, explains
The Committee did not give any examples of psychological incapacity for
fear that the giving of examples would limit the applicability of the

provision under the principle of ejusdem generis. Rather, the Committee


would like the judge to interpret the provision on a case-to-case basis,
guided by experience, 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. 17

5 Resolution penned by Associate Justice Alfredo L. Benipayo, concurred


in by Associate Justices Fidel P. Purisima and Quirino D. Abad Santos,
Jr., of the Ninth Division.
6 Francisco, The Revised Rules of Court in the Philippines, Vol. I, p. 435.
7 Id., citing 71 C.J.S. 34.

WHEREFORE, there being no reversible error, the instant petition is DENIED and the
questioned Resolution of respondent Court of Appeals dated 21 July 1992 is AFFIRMED.

8 Memorandum for Private Respondent, p. 10; Rollo, p. 197.

SO ORDERED.

9 Sec. 3, Rule 6, Rules of Court.

Cruz, Davide, Jr., Quiason and Kapunan, JJ., concur.

10 Blacks Law Dictionary, Fourth Ed., citing McDuffie v. California


Tehama Land Corporation, 138 Cal. App. 245, 32 P.2d 385, 386.

# Footnotes

11 Paras, Rules of Court Annotated, Vol. I, Second Ed., 1989, p. 320.


1 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 (As
amended by E.O. 227).
2 Petition for Annulment of Marriage filed by Erwin Espinosa, par.
3; Rollo, p. 20.
3 Order issued by Judge Delilah Magtolis, Regional Trial Court, Br. 107,
Quezon City; Rollo, p. 26.
4 Opposition to the Supposed Bill of Particulars Submitted by Petitioner,
p. 2, par. 6; Rollo, p. 30.

12 Moran, Comments on the Rules of Court, 1979 Ed., Vol. 1, p.


397, citing
W.J. Dillmer Transfer Co. v. International Brotherhood of Teamsters,
Chauffeurs, Warehousemen and Helpers of America, 8 Fed, Rules
Service,
p. 163, US Dist. Ct., W.D. Pa., 6 October 1944.
13 Blacks Law Dictionary, Fourth Ed., citing People ex rel. Hudson &
M.R. Co. v. Sexton, Supp., 44 N.Y. S.2d 884, 885.
14 Paras, See Note 11, citing Graffius v. Weather-Seal Inc., 9 Fed. Rules
Service 12e, 231, Case No. 13.
15 G.R. No. 89114, 2 December 1991, 204 SCRA 428.
16 See Note. 1.

17 Sempio-Diy, Handbook on the Family Code of the Philippines, 1988,


p. 37.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC

G.R. No. 112019 January 4, 1995


LEOUEL SANTOS, petitioner,
vs.
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS AND JULIA ROSARIO BEDIASANTOS, respondents.

VITUG, J.:
Concededly a highly, if not indeed the most likely, controversial provision introduced by
the Family Code is Article 36 (as amended by E.O. No. 227 dated 17 July 1987), which
declares:
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.

The present petition for review on certiorari, at the instance of Leouel Santos
("Leouel"), brings into fore the above provision which is now invoked by him.
Undaunted by the decisions of the court a quo 1 and the Court of Appeal, 2 Leouel
persists in beseeching its application in his attempt to have his marriage with herein
private respondent, Julia Rosario Bedia-Santos ("Julia"), declared a nullity.
It was in Iloilo City where Leouel, who then held the rank of First Lieutenant in the
Philippine Army, first met Julia. The meeting later proved to be an eventful day for Leouel
and Julia. On 20 September 1986, the two exchanged vows before Municipal Trial Court
Judge Cornelio G. Lazaro of Iloilo City, followed, shortly thereafter, by a church wedding.
Leouel and Julia lived with the latter's parents at the J. Bedia Compound, La Paz, Iloilo
City. On 18 July 1987, Julia gave birth to a baby boy, and he was christened Leouel
Santos, Jr. The ecstasy, however, did not last long. It was bound to happen, Leouel
averred, because of the frequent interference by Julia's parents into the young spouses
family affairs. Occasionally, the couple would also start a "quarrel" over a number of
other things, like when and where the couple should start living independently from
Julia's parents or whenever Julia would express resentment on Leouel's spending a few
days with his own parents.
On 18 May 1988, Julia finally left for the United Sates of America to work as a nurse
despite Leouel's pleas to so dissuade her. Seven months after her departure, or on 01
January 1989, Julia called up Leouel for the first time by long distance telephone. She
promised to return home upon the expiration of her contract in July 1989. She never did.
When Leouel got a chance to visit the United States, where he underwent a training
program under the auspices of the Armed Forces of the Philippines from 01 April up to 25
August 1990, he desperately tried to locate, or to somehow get in touch with, Julia but all
his efforts were of no avail.
Having failed to get Julia to somehow come home, Leouel filed with the regional trial
Court of Negros Oriental, Branch 30, a complaint for "Voiding of marriage Under Article
36 of the Family Code" (docketed, Civil Case No. 9814). Summons was served by
publication in a newspaper of general circulation in Negros Oriental.

On 31 May 1991, respondent Julia, in her answer (through counsel), opposed the
complaint and denied its allegations, claiming, in main, that it was the petitioner who had,
in fact, been irresponsible and incompetent.
A possible collusion between the parties to obtain a decree of nullity of their marriage
was ruled out by the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor (in its report to the court).
On 25 October 1991, after pre-trial conferences had repeatedly been
set, albeit unsuccessfully, by the court, Julia ultimately filed a manifestation, stating that
she would neither appear nor submit evidence.
On 06 November 1991, the court a quo finally dismissed the complaint for lack of merit. 3
Leouel appealed to the Court of Appeal. The latter affirmed the decision of the trial
court. 4
The petition should be denied not only because of its non-compliance with Circular 2891, which requires a certification of non-shopping, but also for its lack of merit.
Leouel argues that the failure of Julia to return home, or at the very least to communicate
with him, for more than five years are circumstances that clearly show her being
psychologically incapacitated to enter into married life. In his own words, Leouel asserts:
. . . (T)here is no leave, there is no affection for (him) because
respondent Julia Rosario Bedia-Santos failed all these years to
communicate with the petitioner. A wife who does not care to inform her
husband about her whereabouts for a period of five years, more or less,
is psychologically incapacitated.
The family Code did not define the term "psychological incapacity." The deliberations
during the sessions of the Family Code Revision Committee, which has drafted the
Code, can, however, provide an insight on the import of the provision.

Art. 35. The following marriages shall be void from the beginning:

idea in subparagraph (7), but lack of appreciation of one's marital


obligations.

xxx xxx xxx


Art. 36. . . .
(7) Those marriages 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.
On subparagraph (7), which as lifted from the Canon Law, Justice (Jose
B.L.) Reyes suggested that they say "wanting in sufficient use," but
Justice (Eduardo) Caguioa preferred to say "wanting in the sufficient
use." On the other hand, Justice Reyes proposed that they say "wanting
in sufficient reason." Justice Caguioa, however, pointed out that the idea
is that one is not lacking in judgment but that he is lacking in the exercise
of judgment. He added that lack of judgment would make the marriage
voidable. Judge (Alicia Sempio-) Diy remarked that lack of judgment is
more serious than insufficient use of judgment and yet the latter would
make the marriage null and void and the former only voidable. Justice
Caguioa suggested that subparagraph (7) be modified to read:
"That contracted by any party who, at the time of the
celebration, was psychologically incapacitated to
discharge the essential marital obligations, even if such
lack of incapacity is made manifest after the celebration."
Justice Caguioa explained that the phrase "was wanting in sufficient use
of reason of judgment to understand the essential nature of marriage"
refers to defects in the mental faculties vitiating consent, which is not the

Judge Diy raised the question: Since "insanity" is also a psychological or


mental incapacity, why is "insanity" only a ground for annulment and not
for declaration or nullity? In reply, Justice Caguioa explained that in
insanity, there is the appearance of consent, which is the reason why it is
a ground for voidable marriages, while subparagraph (7) does not refer to
consent but to the very essence of marital obligations.
Prof. (Araceli) Baviera suggested that, in subparagraph (7), the word
"mentally" be deleted, with which Justice Caguioa concurred. Judge Diy,
however, prefers to retain the word "mentally."
Justice Caguioa remarked that subparagraph (7) refers to psychological
impotence. Justice (Ricardo) Puno stated that sometimes a person may
be psychologically impotent with one but not with another. Justice
(Leonor Ines-) Luciano said that it is called selective impotency.
Dean (Fortunato) Gupit stated that the confusion lies in the fact that in
inserting the Canon Law annulment in the Family Code, the Committee
used a language which describes a ground for voidable marriages under
the Civil Code. Justice Caguioa added that in Canon Law, there are
voidable marriages under the Canon Law, there are no voidable
marriages Dean Gupit said that this is precisely the reason why they
should make a distinction.
Justice Puno remarked that in Canon Law, the defects in marriage cannot
be cured.
Justice Reyes pointed out that the problem is: Why is "insanity" a ground
for void ab initio marriages? In reply, Justice Caguioa explained that

insanity is curable and there are lucid intervals, while psychological


incapacity is not.
On another point, Justice Puno suggested that the phrase "even if such
lack or incapacity is made manifest" be modified to read "even if such
lack or incapacity becomes manifest."
Justice Reyes remarked that in insanity, at the time of the marriage, it is
not apparent.
Justice Caguioa stated that there are two interpretations of the phrase
"psychological or mentally incapacitated" in the first one, there is
vitiation of consent because one does not know all the consequences of
the marriages, and if he had known these completely, he might not have
consented to the marriage.
xxx xxx xxx
Prof. Bautista stated that he is in favor of making psychological incapacity
a ground for voidable marriages since otherwise it will encourage one
who really understood the consequences of marriage to claim that he did
not and to make excuses for invalidating the marriage by acting as if he
did not understand the obligations of marriage. Dean Gupit added that it
is a loose way of providing for divorce.
xxx xxx xxx
Justice Caguioa explained that his point is that in the case of incapacity
by reason of defects in the mental faculties, which is less than insanity,
there is a defect in consent and, therefore, it is clear that it should be a
ground for voidable marriage because there is the appearance of consent
and it is capable of convalidation for the simple reason that there are
lucid intervals and there are cases when the insanity is curable. He

emphasized that psychological incapacity does not refer to mental


faculties and has nothing to do with consent; it refers to obligations
attendant to marriage.
xxx xxx xxx
On psychological incapacity, Prof. (Flerida Ruth P.) Romero inquired if
they do not consider it as going to the very essence of consent. She
asked if they are really removing it from consent. In reply, Justice
Caguioa explained that, ultimately, consent in general is effected but he
stressed that his point is that it is not principally a vitiation of consent
since there is a valid consent. He objected to the lumping together of the
validity of the marriage celebration and the obligations attendant to
marriage, which are completely different from each other, because they
require a different capacity, which is eighteen years of age, for marriage
but in contract, it is different. Justice Puno, however, felt that
psychological incapacity is still a kind of vice of consent and that it should
not be classified as a voidable marriage which is incapable of
convalidation; it should be convalidated but there should be no
prescription. In other words, as long as the defect has not been cured,
there is always a right to annul the marriage and if the defect has been
really cured, it should be a defense in the action for annulment so that
when the action for annulment is instituted, the issue can be raised that
actually, although one might have been psychologically incapacitated, at
the time the action is brought, it is no longer true that he has no concept
of the consequence of marriage.
Prof. (Esteban) Bautista raised the question: Will not cohabitation be a
defense? In response, Justice Puno stated that even the bearing of
children and cohabitation should not be a sign that psychological
incapacity has been cured.

Prof. Romero opined that psychological incapacity is still insanity of a


lesser degree. Justice Luciano suggested that they invite a psychiatrist,
who is the expert on this matter. Justice Caguioa, however, reiterated that
psychological incapacity is not a defect in the mind but in the
understanding of the consequences of marriage, and therefore, a
psychiatrist will not be a help.
Prof. Bautista stated that, in the same manner that there is a lucid interval
in insanity, there are also momentary periods when there is an
understanding of the consequences of marriage. Justice Reyes and
Dean Gupit remarked that the ground of psychological incapacity will not
apply if the marriage was contracted at the time when there is
understanding of the consequences of marriage. 5
xxx xxx xxx

Judge Diy proposed that they include physical incapacity to copulate


among the grounds for void marriages. Justice Reyes commented that in
some instances the impotence that in some instances the impotence is
only temporary and only with respect to a particular person. Judge Diy
stated that they can specify that it is incurable. Justice Caguioa remarked
that the term "incurable" has a different meaning in law and in medicine.
Judge Diy stated that "psychological incapacity" can also be cured.
Justice Caguioa, however, pointed out that "psychological incapacity" is
incurable.
Justice Puno observed that under the present draft provision, it is enough
to show that at the time of the celebration of the marriage, one was
psychologically incapacitated so that later on if already he can comply
with the essential marital obligations, the marriage is still void ab initio.
Justice Caguioa explained that since in divorce, the psychological
incapacity may occur after the marriage, in void marriages, it has to be at
the time of the celebration of marriage. He, however, stressed that the

idea in the provision is that at the time of the celebration of the marriage,
one is psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential marital
obligations, which incapacity continues and later becomes manifest.
Justice Puno and Judge Diy, however, pointed out that it is possible that
after the marriage, one's psychological incapacity become manifest but
later on he is cured. Justice Reyes and Justice Caguioa opined that the
remedy in this case is to allow him to remarry. 6
xxx xxx xxx

Justice Puno formulated the next Article as follows:


Art. 37. A marriage contracted by any party who, at the
time of the celebration, was psychologically incapacitated,
to comply with the essential obligations of marriage shall
likewise be void from the beginning even if such
incapacity becomes manifest after its solemnization.
Justice Caguioa suggested that "even if" be substituted with "although."
On the other hand, Prof. Bautista proposed that the clause "although
such incapacity becomes manifest after its solemnization" be deleted
since it may encourage one to create the manifestation of psychological
incapacity. Justice Caguioa pointed out that, as in other provisions, they
cannot argue on the basis of abuse.
Judge Diy suggested that they also include mental and physical
incapacities, which are lesser in degree than psychological incapacity.
Justice Caguioa explained that mental and physical incapacities are vices
of consent while psychological incapacity is not a species of vice or
consent.

Dean Gupit read what Bishop Cruz said on the matter in the minutes of
their February 9, 1984 meeting:
"On the third ground, Bishop Cruz indicated that the
phrase "psychological or mental impotence" is an
invention of some churchmen who are moralists but not
canonists, that is why it is considered a weak phrase. He
said that the Code of Canon Law would rather express it
as "psychological or mental incapacity to discharge . . ."

Justice Diy opined that she was for its retroactivity because it is their
answer to the problem of church annulments of marriages, which are still
valid under the Civil Law. On the other hand, Justice Reyes and Justice
Puno were concerned about the avalanche of cases.
Dean Gupit suggested that they put the issue to a vote, which the
Committee approved.
The members voted as follows:

Justice Caguioa remarked that they deleted the word "mental" precisely
to distinguish it from vice of consent. He explained that "psychological
incapacity" refers to lack of understanding of the essential obligations of
marriage.

(1) Justice Reyes, Justice Puno and Prof. Romero were for prospectivity.

Justice Puno reminded the members that, at the last meeting, they have
decided not to go into the classification of "psychological incapacity"
because there was a lot of debate on it and that this is precisely the
reason why they classified it as a special case.

(3) Prof. Baviera abstained.

At this point, Justice Puno, remarked that, since there having been
annulments of marriages arising from psychological incapacity, Civil Law
should not reconcile with Canon Law because it is a new ground even
under Canon Law.
Prof. Romero raised the question: With this common provision in Civil
Law and in Canon Law, are they going to have a provision in the Family
Code to the effect that marriages annulled or declared void by the church
on the ground of psychological incapacity is automatically annulled in
Civil Law? The other members replied negatively.
Justice Puno and Prof. Romero inquired if Article 37 should be retroactive
or prospective in application.

(2) Justice Caguioa, Judge Diy, Dean Gupit, Prof. Bautista and Director
Eufemio were for retroactivity.

Justice Caguioa suggested that they put in the prescriptive period of ten
years within which the action for declaration of nullity of the marriage
should be filed in court. The Committee approved the suggestion. 7
It could well be that, in sum, the Family Code Revision Committee in ultimately deciding
to adopt the provision with less specificity than expected, has in fact, so designed the law
as to allow some resiliency in its application. Mme. Justice Alicia V. Sempio-Diy, a
member of the Code Committee, has been quoted by Mr. Justice Josue N. Bellosillo
in Salita vs. Hon. Magtolis (G.R. No. 106429, 13 June 1994); thus: 8
The Committee did not give any examples of psychological incapacity for
fear that the giving of examples would limit the applicability of the
provision under the principle of ejusdem generis. Rather, the Committee
would like the judge to interpret the provision on a case-to-case basis,
guided by experience, 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.
A part of the provision is similar to Canon 1095 of the New Code of Canon Law, 9 which
reads:
Canon 1095. They are incapable of contracting marriage:
1. who lack sufficient use of reason;
2. who suffer from a grave defect of discretion of judgment concerning
essentila matrimonial rights and duties, to be given and accepted
mutually;
3. who for causes of psychological nature are unable to assume the
essential obligations of marriage. (Emphasis supplied.)
Accordingly, although neither decisive nor even perhaps all that persuasive for having no
juridical or secular effect, the jurisprudence under Canon Law prevailing at the time of
the code's enactment, nevertheless, cannot be dismissed as impertinent for its value as
an aid, at least, to the interpretation or construction of the codal provision.
One author, Ladislas Orsy, S.J., in his treaties, 10 giving an account on how the third
paragraph of Canon 1095 has been framed, states:
The history of the drafting of this canon does not leave any doubt that the
legislator intended, indeed, to broaden the rule. A strict and narrow norm
was proposed first:
Those who cannot assume the essential obligations of
marriage because of a grave psycho-sexual anomaly (ob
gravem anomaliam psychosexualem) are unable to

contract marriage (cf. SCH/1975, canon 297, a new


canon, novus);
then a broader one followed:
. . . because of a grave psychological anomaly (ob gravem anomaliam
psychicam) . . . (cf.SCH/1980, canon 1049);
then the same wording was retained in the text submitted to the pope
(cf. SCH/1982, canon 1095, 3);
finally, a new version was promulgated:
because of causes of a psychological nature (ob causas naturae
psychiae).
So the progress was from psycho-sexual to psychological anomaly, then
the term anomaly was altogether eliminated. it would be, however,
incorrect to draw the conclusion that the cause of the incapacity need not
be some kind of psychological disorder; after all, normal and healthy
person should be able to assume the ordinary obligations of marriage.
Fr. Orsy concedes that the term "psychological incapacity" defies any precise definition
since psychological causes can be of an infinite variety.
In a book, entitled "Canons and Commentaries on Marriage," written by Ignatius
Gramunt, Javier Hervada and LeRoy Wauck, the following explanation appears:
This incapacity consists of the following: (a) a true inability to
commit oneself to the essentials of marriage. Some psychosexual
disorders and other disorders of personality can be the psychic cause of
this defect, which is here described in legal terms. This particular type of
incapacity consists of a real inability to render what is due by the

contract. This could be compared to the incapacity of a farmer to enter a


binding contract to deliver the crops which he cannot possibly reap; (b)
this inability to commit oneself must refer to the essential obligations of
marriage: the conjugal act, the community of life and love, the rendering
of mutual help, the procreation and education of offspring; (c) the inability
must be tantamount to a psychological abnormality. The mere difficulty of
assuming these obligations, which could be overcome by normal effort,
obviously does not constitute incapacity. The canon contemplates a true
psychological disorder which incapacitates a person from giving what is
due (cf. John Paul II, Address to R. Rota, Feb. 5, 1987). However, if the
marriage is to be declared invalid under this incapacity, it must be proved
not only that the person is afflicted by a psychological defect, but that the
defect did in fact deprive the person, at the moment of giving consent, of
the ability to assume the essential duties of marriage and consequently of
the possibility of being bound by these duties.
Justice Sempio-Diy cites with approval the work of Dr. Gerardo Veloso, a former Presiding
Judge of the Metropolitan Marriage Tribunal of the Catholic Archdiocese of Manila (Branch 1),
who opines that psychological incapacity must be characterized by (a) gravity, (b) juridical
antecedence, and (c) incurability. The incapacity must be grave or serious such that the party
would be incapable of carrying out the ordinary duties required in marriage; it must be rooted
in the history of the party antedating the marriage, although the overt manifestations may
emerge only after the marriage; and it must be incurable or, even if it were otherwise, the cure
would be beyond the means of the party involved.
11

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 pschologic 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 alcholism, 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.

Marriage is not an adventure but a lifetime commitment. We should continue to be


reminded that innate in our society, then enshrined in our Civil Code, and even now still
indelible in Article 1 of the Family Code, is that
Art. 1. Marriage is a special contract of permanent union between a man
a woman entered into in accordance with law for the establishment of
conjugal and family life. It is the foundation of the family and an inviolable
social institution whose nature, consequences, and incidents are
governed by law and not subject to stipulation, except that marriage
settlements may fix the property relations during the marriage within the
limits provided by this Code. (Emphasis supplied.)

SO ORDERED.
Narvasa, C.J., Bidin, Regalado, Davide, Jr., Romero, Bellosillo, Melo, Quiason, Puno
Kapunan and Mendoza, JJ., concur.
Feliciano, J., is on leave.
Separate Opinions

PADILLA, J., dissenting:


Our Constitution is no less emphatic:
Sec. 1. The State recognizes the Filipino family as the foundation of the
nation. Accordingly, it shall strengthen its solidarity and actively promote
its total development.
Sec. 2. Marriage, as an inviolable social institution, is the foundation of
the family and shall be protected by the State. (Article XV, 1987
Constitution).
The above provisions express so well and so distinctly the basic nucleus of our laws on
marriage and the family, and they are doubt the tenets we still hold on to.
The factual settings in the case at bench, in no measure at all, can come close to the
standards required to decree a nullity of marriage. Undeniably and understandably,
Leouel stands aggrieved, even desperate, in his present situation. Regrettably, neither
law nor society itself can always provide all the specific answers to every individual
problem.
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED.

It is difficult to dissent from a well-written and studied opinion as Mr. Justice


Vitug's ponencia. But, after an extended reflection on the facts of this case, I cannot see
my way clear into holding, as the majority do, that there is no ground for the declaration
of nullity of the marriage between petitioner and private respondent.
To my mind, it is clear that private respondent has been shown to be psychologically
incapacitated to comply with at least one essential marital obligation, i.e. that of living
and cohabiting with her husband, herein petitioner. On the other hand, it has not been
shown that petitioner does not deserve to live and cohabit with his wife, herein private
respondent.
There appears to be no disagreement that the term "psychological incapacity" defies
precision in definition. But, as used in Article 36 of the Family Code as a ground for the
declaration of nullity of a marriage, the intent of the framers of the Code is evidently to
expand and liberalize the grounds for nullifying a marriage, as well pointed out by
Madam Justice Flerida Ruth P. Romero in her separate opinion in this case.
While it is true that the board term "psychological incapacity" can open the doors to
abuse by couples who may wish to have an easy way out of their marriage, there are,
however, enough safeguards against this contingency, among which, is the intervention

by the State, through the public prosecutor, to guard against collusion between the
parties and/or fabrication of evidence.
In their case at bench, it has been abundantly established that private respondent Julia
Rosario Bedia-Santos exhibits specific behavior which, to my mind, shows that she is
psychologically incapacitated to fulfill her essential marital obligations, to writ:
a. It took her seven (7) months after she left for the United States to call
up her husband.
b. Julia promised to return home after her job contract expired in July
1989, but she never did and neither is there any showing that she
informed her husband (herein petitioner) of her whereabouts in the
U.S.A.
c. When petitioner went to the United States on a mission for the
Philippine Army, he exerted efforts to "touch base" with Julia; there were
no similar efforts on the part of Julia; there were no similar efforts on the
part of Julia to do the same.
d. When petitioner filed this suit, more than five (5) years had elapsed,
without Julia indicating her plans to rejoin the petitioner or her
whereabouts.
e. When petitioner filed this case in the trial court, Julia, in her answer,
claimed that it is the former who has been irresponsible and incompetent.
f. During the trial, Julia waived her right to appear and submit evidence.
A spouse's obligation to live and cohabit with his/her partner in marriage is a basic
ground rule in marriage, unless there are overpowering compelling reasons such as, for
instance, an incurable contagious disease on the part of a spouse or cruelty of one
partner, bordering on insanity. There may also be instances when, for economic and

practical reasons, husband and wife have to live separately, but the marital bond
between the spouses always remains. Mutual love and respect for each other would, in
such cases, compel the absent spouse to at least have regular contracts with the other to
inform the latter of his/her condition and whereabouts.
In the present case, it is apparent that private respondent Julia Rosario Bedia-Santos
has no intention of cohabiting with petitioner, her husband, or maintaining contact with
him. In fact, her acts eloquently show that she does not want her husband to know of her
whereabouts and neither has she any intention of living and cohabiting with him.
To me there appears to be, on the part of private respondent, an unmistakeable
indication of psychological incapacity to comply with her essential marital obligations,
although these indications were made manifest after the celebration of the marriage.
It would be a great injustice, I believe, to petitioner for this Court to give a much too
restrictive interpretation of the law and compel the petitioner to continue to be married to
a wife who for purposes of fulfilling her marital duties has, for all practical purposes,
ceased to exist.
Besides, there are public policy considerations involved in the ruling the Court makes
today. Is it not, in effect directly or indirectly, facilitating the transformation of petitioner
into a "habitual tryster" or one forced to maintain illicit relations with another woman or
women with emerging problems of illegitimate children, simply because he is denied by
private respondent, his wife, the companionship and conjugal love which he has sought
from her and to which he is legally entitled?
I do not go as far as to suggest that Art. 36 of the Family Code is a sanction for absolute
divorce but I submit that we should not constrict it to non-recognition of its evident
purpose and thus deny to one like petitioner, an opportunity to turn a new leaf in his life
by declaring his marriage a nullity by reason of his wife's psychological incapacity to
perform an essential marital obligation.

I therefore vote to GRANT the petition and to DECLARE the marriage between petitioner
Leouel Santos and private respondent Julia Rosario Bedia-Santos VOID on the basis of
Article 36 of the Family Code.

Subsequently, however, when the Civil Code Revision Committee and


Family Law Committee started holding joint meetings on the preparation
of the draft of the New Family Code, they agreed and formulated the
definition of marriage as

ROMERO, J., concurring:


I agree under the circumstances of the case, petitioner is not entitled to have his
marriage declared a nullity on the ground of psychological incapacity of private
respondent.
However, as a member of both the Family Law Revision Committee of the Integrated Bar
of the Philippines and the Civil Code Revision Committee of the UP Law Center, I wish to
add some observations. The letter 1 dated April 15, 1985 of then Judge Alicia V. Sempio-Diy
written in behalf of the Family Law and Civil Code Revision Committee to then
Assemblywoman Mercedes Cojuangco-Teodoro traced the background of the inclusion of the
present Article 36 in the Family Code.
During its early meetings, the Family Law Committee had thought of
including a chapter on absolute divorce in the draft of a new Family Code
(Book I of the Civil Code) that it had been tasked by the IBP and the UP
Law Center to prepare. In fact, some members of the Committee were in
favor of a no-fault divorce between the spouses after a number of years
of separation, legal or de-facto. Justice J.B.L. Reyes was then requested
to prepare a proposal for an action for dissolution of marriage and the
effects thereof based on two grounds: (a) five continuous years of
separation between the spouses, with or without a judicial decree of legal
separation, and (b) whenever a married person would have obtained a
decree of absolute divorce in another country. Actually, such a proposal is
one for absolute divorce but called by another name. Later, even the Civil
Code Revision Committee took time to discuss the proposal of Justice
Reyes on this matter.

"a special contract of permanent partnership between a


man and a woman entered into in accordance with law for
the establishment of conjugal and family life. It is an
inviolable social institution whose nature, consequences,
and incidents are governed by law and not subject to
stipulation, except that marriage settlements may fix the
property relations during the marriage within the limits
provided by law."
With the above definition, and considering the Christian traditional
concept of marriage of the Filipino people as a permanent, inviolable,
indissoluble social institution upon which the family and society are
founded, and also realizing the strong opposition that any provision on
absolute divorce would encounter from the Catholic Church and the
Catholic sector of our citizenry to whom the great majority of our people
belong, the two Committees in their joint meetings did not pursue the
idea of absolute divorce and instead opted for an action for judicial
declaration of invalidity of marriage based on grounds available in the
Canon Law. It was thought that such an action would not only be an
acceptable alternative to divorce but would also solve the nagging
problem of church annulments of marriages on grounds not recognized
by the civil law of the State. Justice Reyes was thus requested to again
prepare a draft of provisions on such action for celebration of invalidity of
marriage. Still later, to avoid the overlapping of provisions on void
marriages as found in the present Civil Code and those proposed by
Justice Reyes on judicial declaration of invalidity of marriage on grounds
similar to the Canon Law, the two Committees now working as a Joint
Committee in the preparation of a New Family Code decided to

consolidate the present provisions on void marriages with the proposals


of Justice Reyes. The result was the inclusion of an additional kind of
void marriage in the enumeration of void marriages in the present Civil
Code, to wit:
"(7) Those marriages 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."
as well as the following implementing provisions:
"Art. 32. The absolute nullity of a marriage may be
invoked or pleaded only on the basis of a final judgment
declaring the marriage void, without prejudice to the
provision of Article 34."
"Art. 33. The action or defense for the declaration of the
absolute nullity of a marriage shall not prescribe."
xxx xxx xxx
It is believed that many hopelessly broken marriages in our country today
may already dissolved or annulled on the grounds proposed by the Joint
Committee on declaration of nullity as well as annulment of marriages,
thus rendering an absolute divorce law unnecessary. In fact, during a
conference with Father Gerald Healy of the Ateneo University as well as
another meeting with Archbishop Oscar Cruz of the Archdiocese of
Pampanga, the Joint Committee was informed that since Vatican II, the
Catholic Church has been declaring marriages null and void on the

ground of "lack of due discretion" for causes that, in other jurisdictions,


would be clear grounds for divorce, like teen-age or premature
marriages; marriage to a man who, because of some personality disorder
or disturbance, cannot support a family; the foolish or ridiculous choice of
a spouse by an otherwise perfectly normal person; marriage to a woman
who refuses to cohabit with her husband or who refuses to have children.
Bishop Cruz also informed the Committee that they have found out in
tribunal work that a lot of machismo among husbands are manifestations
of their sociopathic personality anomaly, like inflicting physical violence
upon their wives, constitutional indolence or laziness, drug dependence
or addiction, and psychological anomaly. . . . (Emphasis supplied)
Clearly, by incorporating what is now Article 36 into the Family Code, the Revision
Committee referred to above intended to add another ground to those already listed in
the Civil Code as grounds for nullifying a marriage, thus expanding or liberalizing the
same. Inherent in the inclusion of the provision on psychological incapacity was the
understanding that every petition for declaration of nullity based on it should be treated
on a case-to-case basis; hence, the absence of a definition and an enumeration of what
constitutes psychological incapacity. Moreover, the Committee feared that the giving of
examples would limit the applicability of the provision under the principle ofejusdem
generis. But the law requires that the same be existing at the time of marriage although it
be manifested later.
Admittedly, the provision on psychological incapacity, just like any other provision of law,
is open to abuse. To prevent this, "the court shall take order the prosecuting attorney or
fiscal assigned to it to appear 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." 2 Moreover, the judge, in interpreting the provision on a case-to-case basis,
must be guided by "experience, 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 provisions was taken from Canon Law." 3

The constitutional and statutory provisions on the family 4 will remain the lodestar which our
society will hope to achieve ultimately. Therefore, the inclusion of Article 36 is not to be taken
as an abandonment of the ideal which we all cherish. If at all, it is a recognition of the reality
that some marriages, by reason of the incapacity of one of the contracting parties, fall short of
this ideal; thus, the parties are constrained to find a way of putting an end to their union
through some legally-accepted means.
Any criticism directed at the way that judges have interpreted the provision since its
enactment as to render it easier for unhappily-married couples to separate is addressed,
not to the wisdom of the lawmakers but to the manner by which some members of the
Bench have implemented the provision. These are not interchangeable, each being
separate and distinct from the other.

Separate Opinions
PADILLA, J., dissenting:
It is difficult to dissent from a well-written and studied opinion as Mr. Justice
Vitug's ponencia. But, after an extended reflection on the facts of this case, I cannot see
my way clear into holding, as the majority do, that there is no ground for the declaration
of nullity of the marriage between petitioner and private respondent.
To my mind, it is clear that private respondent has been shown to be psychologically
incapacitated to comply with at least one essential marital obligation, i.e. that of living
and cohabiting with her husband, herein petitioner. On the other hand, it has not been
shown that petitioner does not deserve to live and cohabit with his wife, herein private
respondent.
There appears to be no disagreement that the term "psychological incapacity" defies
precision in definition. But, as used in Article 36 of the Family Code as a ground for the
declaration of nullity of a marriage, the intent of the framers of the Code is evidently to

expand and liberalize the grounds for nullifying a marriage, as well pointed out by
Madam Justice Flerida Ruth P. Romero in her separate opinion in this case.
While it is true that the board term "psychological incapacity" can open the doors to
abuse by couples who may wish to have an easy way out of their marriage, there are,
however, enough safeguards against this contingency, among which, is the intervention
by the State, through the public prosecutor, to guard against collusion between the
parties and/or fabrication of evidence.
In their case at bench, it has been abundantly established that private respondent Julia
Rosario Bedia-Santos exhibits specific behavior which, to my mind, shows that she is
psychologically incapacitated to fulfill her essential marital obligations, to writ:
a. It took her seven (7) months after she left for the United States to call
up her husband.
b. Julia promised to return home after her job contract expired in July
1989, but she never did and neither is there any showing that she
informed her husband (herein petitioner) of her whereabouts in the
U.S.A.
c. When petitioner went to the United States on a mission for the
Philippine Army, he exerted efforts to "touch base" with Julia; there were
no similar efforts on the part of Julia; there were no similar efforts on the
part of Julia to do the same.
d. When petitioner filed this suit, more than five (5) years had elapsed,
without Julia indicating her plans to rejoin the petitioner or her
whereabouts.
e. When petitioner filed this case in the trial court, Julia, in her answer,
claimed that it is the former who has been irresponsible and incompetent.

f. During the trial, Julia waived her right to appear and submit evidence.
A spouse's obligation to live and cohabit with his/her partner in marriage is a basic
ground rule in marriage, unless there are overpowering compelling reasons such as, for
instance, an incurable contagious disease on the part of a spouse or cruelty of one
partner, bordering on insanity. There may also be instances when, for economic and
practical reasons, husband and wife have to live separately, but the marital bond
between the spouses always remains. Mutual love and respect for each other would, in
such cases, compel the absent spouse to at least have regular contracts with the other to
inform the latter of his/her condition and whereabouts.

I do not go as far as to suggest that Art. 36 of the Family Code is a sanction for absolute
divorce but I submit that we should not constrict it to non-recognition of its evident
purpose and thus deny to one like petitioner, an opportunity to turn a new leaf in his life
by declaring his marriage a nullity by reason of his wife's psychological incapacity to
perform an essential marital obligation.
I therefore vote to GRANT the petition and to DECLARE the marriage between petitioner
Leouel Santos and private respondent Julia Rosario Bedia-Santos VOID on the basis of
Article 36 of the Family Code.
ROMERO, J., concurring:

In the present case, it is apparent that private respondent Julia Rosario Bedia-Santos
has no intention of cohabiting with petitioner, her husband, or maintaining contact with
him. In fact, her acts eloquently show that she does not want her husband to know of her
whereabouts and neither has she any intention of living and cohabiting with him.
To me there appears to be, on the part of private respondent, an unmistakeable
indication of psychological incapacity to comply with her essential marital obligations,
although these indications were made manifest after the celebration of the marriage.
It would be a great injustice, I believe, to petitioner for this Court to give a much too
restrictive interpretation of the law and compel the petitioner to continue to be married to
a wife who for purposes of fulfilling her marital duties has, for all practical purposes,
ceased to exist.
Besides, there are public policy considerations involved in the ruling the Court makes
today. Is it not, in effect directly or indirectly, facilitating the transformation of petitioner
into a "habitual tryster" or one forced to maintain illicit relations with another woman or
women with emerging problems of illegitimate children, simply because he is denied by
private respondent, his wife, the companionship and conjugal love which he has sought
from her and to which he is legally entitled?

I agree under the circumstances of the case, petitioner is not entitled to have his
marriage declared a nullity on the ground of psychological incapacity of private
respondent.
However, as a member of both the Family Law Revision Committee of the Integrated Bar
of the Philippines and the Civil Code Revision Committee of the UP Law Center, I wish to
add some observations. The letter 1 dated April 15, 1985 of then Judge Alicia V. Sempio-Diy
written in behalf of the Family Law and Civil Code Revision Committee to then
Assemblywoman Mercedes Cojuangco-Teodoro traced the background of the inclusion of the
present Article 36 in the Family Code.
During its early meetings, the Family Law Committee had thought of
including a chapter on absolute divorce in the draft of a new Family Code
(Book I of the Civil Code) that it had been tasked by the IBP and the UP
Law Center to prepare. In fact, some members of the Committee were in
favor of a no-fault divorce between the spouses after a number of years
of separation, legal or de-facto. Justice J.B.L. Reyes was then requested
to prepare a proposal for an action for dissolution of marriage and the
effects thereof based on two grounds: (a) five continuous years of
separation between the spouses, with or without a judicial decree of legal
separation, and (b) whenever a married person would have obtained a

decree of absolute divorce in another country. Actually, such a proposal is


one for absolute divorce but called by another name. Later, even the Civil
Code Revision Committee took time to discuss the proposal of Justice
Reyes on this matter.
Subsequently, however, when the Civil Code Revision Committee and
Family Law Committee started holding joint meetings on the preparation
of the draft of the New Family Code, they agreed and formulated the
definition of marriage as
"a special contract of permanent partnership between a
man and a woman entered into in accordance with law for
the establishment of conjugal and family life. It is an
inviolable social institution whose nature, consequences,
and incidents are governed by law and not subject to
stipulation, except that marriage settlements may fix the
property relations during the marriage within the limits
provided by law."

marriage. Still later, to avoid the overlapping of provisions on void


marriages as found in the present Civil Code and those proposed by
Justice Reyes on judicial declaration of invalidity of marriage on grounds
similar to the Canon Law, the two Committees now working as a Joint
Committee in the preparation of a New Family Code decided to
consolidate the present provisions on void marriages with the proposals
of Justice Reyes. The result was the inclusion of an additional kind of
void marriage in the enumeration of void marriages in the present Civil
Code, to wit:
"(7) Those marriages 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."
as well as the following implementing provisions:

With the above definition, and considering the Christian traditional


concept of marriage of the Filipino people as a permanent, inviolable,
indissoluble social institution upon which the family and society are
founded, and also realizing the strong opposition that any provision on
absolute divorce would encounter from the Catholic Church and the
Catholic sector of our citizenry to whom the great majority of our people
belong, the two Committees in their joint meetings did not pursue the
idea of absolute divorce and instead opted for an action for judicial
declaration of invalidity of marriage based on grounds available in the
Canon Law. It was thought that such an action would not only be an
acceptable alternative to divorce but would also solve the nagging
problem of church annulments of marriages on grounds not recognized
by the civil law of the State. Justice Reyes was thus requested to again
prepare a draft of provisions on such action for celebration of invalidity of

"Art. 32. The absolute nullity of a marriage may be


invoked or pleaded only on the basis of a final judgment
declaring the marriage void, without prejudice to the
provision of Article 34."
"Art. 33. The action or defense for the declaration of the
absolute nullity of a marriage shall not prescribe."
xxx xxx xxx
It is believed that many hopelessly broken marriages in our country today
may already dissolved or annulled on the grounds proposed by the Joint
Committee on declaration of nullity as well as annulment of marriages,

thus rendering an absolute divorce law unnecessary. In fact, during a


conference with Father Gerald Healy of the Ateneo University as well as
another meeting with Archbishop Oscar Cruz of the Archdiocese of
Pampanga, the Joint Committee was informed that since Vatican II, the
Catholic Church has been declaring marriages null and void on the
ground of "lack of due discretion" for causes that, in other jurisdictions,
would be clear grounds for divorce, like teen-age or premature
marriages; marriage to a man who, because of some personality disorder
or disturbance, cannot support a family; the foolish or ridiculous choice of
a spouse by an otherwise perfectly normal person; marriage to a woman
who refuses to cohabit with her husband or who refuses to have children.
Bishop Cruz also informed the Committee that they have found out in
tribunal work that a lot of machismo among husbands are manifestations
of their sociopathic personality anomaly, like inflicting physical violence
upon their wives, constitutional indolence or laziness, drug dependence
or addiction, and psychological anomaly. . . . (Emphasis supplied)
Clearly, by incorporating what is now Article 36 into the Family Code, the Revision
Committee referred to above intended to add another ground to those already listed in
the Civil Code as grounds for nullifying a marriage, thus expanding or liberalizing the
same. Inherent in the inclusion of the provision on psychological incapacity was the
understanding that every petition for declaration of nullity based on it should be treated
on a case-to-case basis; hence, the absence of a definition and an enumeration of what
constitutes psychological incapacity. Moreover, the Committee feared that the giving of
examples would limit the applicability of the provision under the principle ofejusdem
generis. But the law requires that the same be existing at the time of marriage although it
be manifested later.
Admittedly, the provision on psychological incapacity, just like any other provision of law,
is open to abuse. To prevent this, "the court shall take order the prosecuting attorney or
fiscal assigned to it to appear 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." 2 Moreover, the judge, in interpreting the provision on a case-to-case basis,

must be guided by "experience, 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 provisions was taken from Canon Law." 3

The constitutional and statutory provisions on the family 4 will remain the lodestar which our
society will hope to achieve ultimately. Therefore, the inclusion of Article 36 is not to be taken
as an abandonment of the ideal which we all cherish. If at all, it is a recognition of the reality
that some marriages, by reason of the incapacity of one of the contracting parties, fall short of
this ideal; thus, the parties are constrained to find a way of putting an end to their union
through some legally-accepted means.
Any criticism directed at the way that judges have interpreted the provision since its
enactment as to render it easier for unhappily-married couples to separate is addressed,
not to the wisdom of the lawmakers but to the manner by which some members of the
Bench have implemented the provision. These are not interchangeable, each being
separate and distinct from the other.
Footnotes
1 Per Judge Enrique Garovillo.
2 Penned by Justice Jainal Rasul, concurred in by Justice Pedro Ramirez
and Ramon Mabutas, Jr.
3 Rollo, 37-42.
4 Rollo, 13-18.
5 Deliberations of the Family Code Revision Committee, July 26, 1986.
6 Deliberations of the Family Code Revision Committee, August 2, 1986.
7 Deliberations of the Family Code Revision Committee, August 9, 1986.

8 In her "Handbook on the Family Code."

4 As quoted in the majority opinion.

9 Marriage in Canon Law, Delaware: Michael Glazier, Inc., 1986, 129-130.

EN BANC

C 1095 Sunt incapaces matrimonii contrahendi:


1. qui sufficiente rationis usu carent;

[G.R. No. 108763. February 13, 1997]

2. qui laborant gravi defectu discretionis iudicii circa iura et official


matrimonialia essentialia mutuo tradenda et acceptanda;
3. qui ob causas naturae psychicae obligationes matrimonii essentiales
assumere non valent.
10 Ibid., 131-132.

REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioner, vs. COURT OF


APPEALS
and
RORIDEL
OLAVIANO
MOLINA, respondents.
DECISION

11 Handbook on the Family Code, First Edition, 1988.


ROMERO, J., concurring:
1 Written pursuant to the request of Assemblywoman Mercedes CojuangcoTeodoro during the March 23, 1985 joint meeting of the Family Law and Civil
Code Revision Committee at the UP Law Center for comments on P.B. 3149
(Pacificador Bill) on Divorce, P.B. No. 1986 (Monfort and Collantes Bill) on
Recognition of Church Annulments of Marriages, P.B. No. 2347 (Sitoy Bill) on
Additional Grounds for Annulment of Marriage and Legal Separation and P.B.
1350 (Kalaw Bill) on Equal Rights of Filipino Women which were pending
before her Sub-Committee.
2 FAMILY CODE, Art. 48.
3 J.A. v. SEMPIO-DIY, HANDBOOK OF THE FAMILY CODE OF THE
PHILIPPINES, 37 (1988).

PANGANIBAN, J.:

The Family Code of the Philippines provides an entirely new ground (in
addition to those enumerated in the Civil Code) to assail the validity of a
marriage, namely, psychological incapacity. Since the Codes effectivity, our
courts have been swamped with various petitions to declare marriages void
based on this ground. Although this Court had interpreted the meaning of
psychological incapacity in the recent case of Santos vs. Court of
Appeals, still many judges and lawyers find difficulty in applying said novel
provision in specific cases. In the present case and in the context of the
herein assailed Decision of the Court of Appeals, the Solicitor General has
labelled -- exaggerated to be sure but nonetheless expressive of his
frustration -- Article 36 as the most liberal divorce procedure in the
world. Hence, this Court in addition to resolving the present case, finds the
need to lay down specific guidelines in the interpretation and application of
Article 36 of the Family Code.

Before us is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 challenging


the January 25, 1993 Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No.
34858 affirming in toto the May 14, 1991 decision of the Regional Trial Court
of La Trinidad, Benguet, which declared the marriage of respondent Roridel
Olaviano Molina to Reynaldo Molina void ab initio, on the ground of
psychological incapacity under Article 36 of the Family Code.
[1]

[2]

[3]

In his Answer filed on August 28, 1989, Reynaldo admitted that he and
Roridel could no longer live together as husband and wife, but contended that
their misunderstandings and frequent quarrels were due to (1) Roridels
strange behavior of insisting on maintaining her group of friends even after
their marriage; (2) Roridels refusal to perform some of her marital duties such
as cooking meals; and (3) Roridels failure to run the household and handle
their finances.
During the pre-trial on October 17, 1990, the following were stipulated:

The Facts
This case was commenced on August 16, 1990 with the filing by
respondent Roridel O. Molina of a verified petition for declaration of nullity of
her marriage to Reynaldo Molina.Essentially, the petition alleged that Roridel
and Reynaldo were married on April 14, 1985 at the San Agustin Church in
Manila; that a son, Andre O. Molina was born; that after a year of marriage,
Reynaldo showed signs of immaturity and irresponsibility as a husband and a
father since he preferred to spend more time with his peers and friends on
whom he squandered his money; that he depended on his parents for aid and
assistance, and was never honest with his wife in regard to their finances,
resulting in frequent quarrels between them; that sometime in February 1986,
Reynaldo was relieved of his job in Manila, and since then Roridel had been
the sole breadwinner of the family; that in October 1986 the couple had a very
intense quarrel, as a result of which their relationship was estranged; that in
March 1987, Roridel resigned from her job in Manila and went to live with her
parents in Baguio City; that a few weeks later, Reynaldo left Roridel and their
child, and had since then abandoned them; that Reynaldo had thus shown
that he was psychologically incapable of complying with essential marital
obligations and was a highly immature and habitually quarrelsome individual
who thought of himself as a king to be served; and that it would be to the
couples best interest to have their marriage declared null and void in order to
free them from what appeared to be an incompatible marriage from the start.
[4]

1. That the parties herein were legally married on April 14, 1985 at the
Church of St. Augustine, Manila;
2. That out of their marriage, a child named Albert Andre Olaviano Molina
was born on July 29, 1986;
3.That the parties are separated-in-fact for more than three years;
4. That petitioner is not asking support for her and her child;
5. That the respondent is not asking for damages;
6. That the common child of the parties is in the custody of the petitioner
wife.
Evidence for herein respondent wife consisted of her own testimony and
that of her friends Rosemarie Ventura and Maria Leonora Padilla as well as of
Ruth G. Lalas, a social worker, and of Dr. Teresita Hidalgo-Sison, a
psychiatrist of the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center. She also
submitted documents marked as Exhibits A to E-1. Reynaldo did not present
any evidence as he appeared only during the pre-trial conference.

On May 14, 1991, the trial court rendered judgment declaring the
marriage void. The appeal of petitioner was denied by the Court of Appeals
which affirmed in toto the RTCs decision.Hence, the present recourse.
The Issue
In his petition, the Solicitor General insists that the Court of Appeals made
an erroneous and incorrect interpretation of the phrase psychological
incapacity (as provided under Art. 36 of the Family Code) and made an
incorrect application thereof to the facts of the case, adding that the appealed
Decision tended to establish in effect the most liberal divorce procedure in the
world which is anathema to our culture.
In denying the Solicitor Generals appeal, the respondent Court
relied heavily on the trial courts findings that the marriage between the
parties broke up because of their opposing and conflicting personalities.
Then, it added its own opinion that the Civil Code Revision Committee
(hereinafter referred to as the Committee) intended to liberalize the
application of our civil laws on personal and family rights x x x. It concluded
that:

In the case at bar, We find that the trial judge committed no indiscretion in
analyzing and deciding the instant case, as it did, hence, We find no cogent
reason to disturb the findings and conclusions thus made.
Respondent, in her Memorandum, adopts these discussions of the Court
of Appeals.
The petitioner, on the other hand, argues that opposing and conflicting
personalities is not equivalent to psychological incapacity, explaining that
such ground is not simply the neglectby the parties to the marriage of their
responsibilities and duties, but a defect in their psychological nature which
renders them incapable of performing such marital responsibilities and duties.
The Courts Ruling

[5]

As a ground for annulment of marriage, We view psychological incapacity


as a broad range of mental and behavioral conduct on the part of one spouse
indicative of how he or she regards the marital union, his or her personal
relationship with the other spouse, as well as his or her conduct in the long
haul for the attainment of the principal objectives of marriage. If said
conduct, observed and considered as a whole, tends to cause the union to
self-destruct because it defeats the very objectives of marriage, then there is
enough reason to leave the spouses to their individual fates.

The petition is meritorious.


In Leouel Santos vs. Court of Appeals, this Court, speaking thru Mr.
Justice Jose C. Vitug, ruled that psychological incapacity should refer to no
less than a mental (not physical) incapacity x x x and that (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 the marriage. This psychologic condition must exist at the time
the marriage is celebrated. Citing Dr. Gerardo Veloso, a former presiding
judge of the Metropolitan Marriage Tribunal of the Catholic Archdiocese of
Manila, Justice Vitug wrote that the psychological incapacity must be
characterized by (a) gravity, (b) juridical antecedence, and (c) incurability.
[6]

[7]

On the other hand, in the present case, there is no clear showing to us


that the psychological defect spoken of is an incapacity. It appears to us to be
more of a difficulty, if not outright refusal or neglect in the performance of
some marital obligations. Mere showing of irreconciliable differences and

conflicting personalities in no wise constitutes psychological incapacity. It is


not enough to prove that the parties failed to meet their responsibilities and
duties as married persons; it is essential that they must be shown to
be incapable of doing so, due to some psychological (not physical) illness.
The evidence adduced by respondent merely showed that she and her
husband could not get along with each other. There had been no showing of
the gravity of the problem; neither its juridical antecedence nor its
incurability. The expert testimony of Dr. Sison showed no incurable psychiatric
disorder but only incompatibility, not psychological incapacity. Dr. Sison
testified:
[8]

COURT
Q It is therefore the recommendation of the psychiatrist based on your
findings that it is better for the Court to annul (sic) the marriage?
A Yes, Your Honor.
Q There is no hope for the marriage?
A There is no hope, the man is also living with another woman.
Q Is it also the stand of the psychiatrist that the parties are psychologically
unfit for each other but they are psychologically fit with other parties?
A Yes, Your Honor.
Q Neither are they psychologically unfit for their professions?
A Yes, Your Honor.
The Court has no more questions.

In the case of Reynaldo, there is no showing that his alleged personality


traits were constitutive of psychological incapacity existing at the time of
marriage celebration. While some effort was made to prove that there was a
failure to fulfill pre-nuptial impressions of thoughtfulness and gentleness on
Reynaldos part and of being conservative, homely and intelligent on the part
of Roridel, such failure of expectation is not indicative of antecedent

psychological incapacity. If at all, it merely shows loves temporary blindness


to the faults and blemishes of the beloved.
During its deliberations, the Court decided to go beyond merely ruling on
the facts of this case vis-a-vis existing law and jurisprudence. In view of the
novelty of Art. 36 of the Family Code and the difficulty experienced by many
trial courts in interpreting and applying it, the Court decided to invite two amici
curiae, namely, the Most Reverend Oscar V. Cruz, VicarJudicial (Presiding
Judge) of the National Appellate Matrimonial Tribunal of the Catholic Church
in the Philippines, and Justice Ricardo C. Puno, a member of the Family
Code Revision Committee. The Court takes this occasion to thank these
friends of the Court for their informative and interesting discussions during the
oral argument on December 3, 1996, which they followed up with written
memoranda.
[9]

[10]

From their submissions and the Courts own deliberations, the following
guidelines in the interpretation and application of Art. 36 of the Family Code
are hereby handed down 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. 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.
[11]

The Family Code echoes this constitutional edict on marriage and the
family and emphasizes their permanence, inviolability and solidarity.
[12]

(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, 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.
[13]

(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. 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.
[14]

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. Ideally -- subject to our law

on evidence -- what is decreed as canonically invalid should also be decreed


civilly void.
This is one instance where, in view of the evident source and purpose of
the Family Code provision, contemporaneous religious interpretation is to be
given persuasive effect. Here, the State and the Church -- while remaining
independent, separate and apart from each other -- shall walk together in
synodal cadence towards the same goal of protecting and cherishing
marriage and the family as the inviolable base of the nation.

(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.
In the instant case and applying Leouel Santos, we have already ruled to
grant the petition. Such ruling becomes even more cogent with the use of the
foregoing guidelines.
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The assailed Decision is
REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The marriage of Roridel Olaviano to Reynaldo
Molina subsists and remains valid.
SO ORDERED.
Narvasa, C.J., Regalado, Davide, Jr., Bellosillo, Melo, Puno, Kapunan,
Mendoza, Francisco, Hermosisima, Jr., and Torres, Jr., JJ., concur
Padilla, J., See Separate Statement.

Romero, J., See Separate Statement.


Vitug, J., Please see Concurring opinion.

[1]

Rollo pp. 25-33.

Sixteenth Division composed of J. Segundino G. Chua, ponente and chairman; JJ. Serafin
V.C. Guingona and Ricardo P. Galvez, concurring.
[2]

[3]

Presided by Judge Heilia S. Mallare-Phillipps.

[4]

Solemnized by Fr. Jesus G. Encinas.

The Court of Appeals reproduced in its Decision a substantial portion of the RTC Decision
as follows:
[5]

To sustain her claim that respondent is psychologically incapacitated to comply with his
marital obligations, petitioner testified that he is immature, irresponsible, dependent,
disrespectful, arrogant, a chronic liar, and an infidel.These characteristics of respondent are
based on petitioners testimony that the former failed to be gainfully employed after he was
relieved from the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel sometime in February, 1986,
leaving petitioner as the sole breadwinner of the family. Also when they were separated in
fact, respondent practically abandoned both petitioner-mother and son except during the first
few months of separation when respondent regularly visited his son and gave him a monthly
allowance of P1,000.00 for about two to four months. Respondent is likewise dependent on
his parents for financial aid and support as he has no savings, preferring to spend his money
with his friends and peers. A year after their marriage, respondent informed petitioner that he
bought a house and lot at BF Homes, Paraaque for about a million pesos. They then
transferred there only for the petitioner to discover a few months later that they were actually
renting the house with the respondents parents responsible for the payment of the
rentals. Aside from this, respondent would also lie about his salary and ability. And that at
present, respondent is living with his mistress and their child, which fact he does not deny.
It is unfortunate that the marriage between petitioner and respondent turned sour if we look at
the background of their relationship. During their college days, when they were still going
steady, respondent observed petitioner to be conservative, homely, and intelligent causing
him to believe then that she would make an ideal wife and mother. Likewise, petitioner fell in
love with respondent because of his thoughtfulness and gentleness. After a year, however,
they decided to break their relationship because of some differences in their personalities.
Almost five (5) years later, while they were working in Manila, petitioner and respondent

rekindled their love affair. They became very close and petitioner was glad to observe a more
mature respondent. Believing that they knew each other much better after two years of going
steady, they decided to settle down and get married. It would seem, therefore, that petitioner
and respondent knew each other well and were then prepared for married life.
During their marriage, however, the true personalities of the parties cropped-up and
dominated their life together. Unexpectedly on both their parts, petitioner and respondent
failed to respond properly to the situation. This failure resulted in their frequent arguments
and fightings. In fact, even with the intervention and help of their parents who arranged for
their possible reconciliation, the parties could not come to terms.
It seems clear at this stage that the marriage between the parties broke-up because of their
opposing and conflicting personalities (sic). Neither of them can accept and understand the
weakness of each other. No one gives in and instead, blame each other for whatever problem
or misunderstanding/s they encounter. In fine, respondent cannot solely responsible for the
failure of other (sic) marriage. Rather, this resulted because both parties cannot relate to each
other as husband and wife which is unique and requisite in marriage.
Marriage is a special contract of permanent union between a man and woman with the basic
objective of establishing a conjugal and family life. (Article 1, Family Code). The unique
element of permanency of union signifies a continuing, developing, and lifelong relationship
between the parties. Towards this end, the parties must fully understand and accept the
(implications and consequences of being permanently) united in marriage. And the
maintenance of this relationship demands from the parties, among others, determination to
succeed in their marriage as well as heartfelt understanding, acceptance, cooperation, and
support for each other. Thus, the Family Code requires them to live together, to observe
mutual (love, respect and fidelity, and render mutual help and support. Failure to observe)
and perform these fundamental roles of a husband and a wife will most likely lead to the
break-up of the marriage. Such is the unfortunate situation in this case." (Decision, pp. 5-8;
Original Records, pp. 70-73)
[6]

240 SCRA 20, 34, January 4, 1995.

[7]

Quoted from Justice Alicia Sempio-Diy, Handbook on the Family Code, First Edition, 1988.

[8]

TSN, April 6, 1991, p. 5.

The National Appellate Matrimonial Tribunal reviews all decisions of the marriage tribunals
of each archdiocese or diocese in the country. Aside from heading the Appellate Tribunal,
Most. Rev. Cruz is also incumbent president of the Catholic Bishop's Conferrence of the
Philippines, Archbishop of Dagupan Lingayen, and holds the degrees of Doctor of Canon Law
and Doctor of Divinity. Archbishop Cruz was also Secretaary General of the Second Plenary
Council of the Philippines -PCP II- held from January 20, 1991 to February 17, 1991, which is
the rough equivalent of a parliament or constitutional convention in the Philippine Church, and
[9]

where the ponente, who was a council member, had the privilege of being overwhelmed by
his keen mind and prayerful discernments.
Justice Puno was a former member of the Court of Appeals, retired Minister of Justice,
author, noted civil law professor and law practitioner.
[10]

[11]

ARTICLE XV
THE FAMILY
Section 1. The State recognizes the Filipino Family as the foundation of the
nation. Accordingly, it shall strengthen its solidarity and actively promote its total
development.
Section 2. Marriage, as an inviolable social institution, is the foundation of the family and shall
be protected by the state.
Section 3. The state shall defend;
(1) The right of spouses to found a family in accordance with their religious convictions and
the demands of responsible parenthood;
(2) The right of children to assistance, including proper care and nutrition, and
specialprotection from all forms of neglect, abuse, cruelty, exploitation , and other conditions
prejudicial to their development;
(3) The right of the family to a family living wage and income;
(4) The right of families or family associations to participate in the planning and
implementation of policies and programs that affect them.
Section 4. The family has the duty to care for its elderly members but the state may also do
so through just programs of social security."
"Art. 1. Marriage is a special contract of permanent union between a man and a woman
entered into in accordance with law for the establishment of conjugal and family life. It is the
foundation of the family and an inviolable social institution whose nature, consequences, and
incidents are governed by law and not subject to stipulation, except that marriage settlements
may fix the property relations during the marriage within the limits provided by this code."
[12]

[13]

Salita vs. Magtolis 233 SCRA 100, June 13, 1994.

This text is taken from the Memorandum of Archbishop Cruz. On the other hand, the text used un
Santos vs. CA reads:
[14]

xxx xxx xxx

3. Who for causes of psychological nature are unable to assume the essential obligations of
marriage.
The differrence in wording between this and that in Arch. Cruzs Memorandum is due to the
fact that the original Canon is written in Latin and both versions are differently-worded English
translations.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
SECOND DIVISION

G.R. No. 119190 January 16, 1997


CHI MING TSOI, petitioner,
vs.
COURT OF APPEALS and GINA LAO-TSOI, respondents.

TORRES, JR., J.:


Man has not invented a reliable compass by which to steer a marriage in its journey over
troubled waters. Laws are seemingly inadequate. Over time, much reliance has been
placed in the works of the unseen hand of Him who created all things.
Who is to blame when a marriage fails?
This case was originally commenced by a distraught wife against her uncaring husband
in the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City (Branch 89) which decreed the annulment of
the marriage on the ground of psychological incapacity. Petitioner appealed the decision
of the trial court to respondent Court of Appeals (CA-G.R. CV No. 42758) which affirmed

the Trial Court's decision November 29, 1994 and correspondingly denied the motion for
reconsideration in a resolution dated February 14, 1995.
The statement of the case and of the facts made by the trial court and reproduced by the
Court of Appeals 1 its decision are as follows:
From the evidence adduced, the following acts were preponderantly established:
Sometime on May 22, 1988, the plaintiff married the defendant at the Manila
Cathedral, . . . Intramuros Manila, as evidenced by their Marriage Contract. (Exh.
"A")
After the celebration of their marriage and wedding reception at the South Villa,
Makati, they went and proceeded to the house of defendant's mother.
There, they slept together on the same bed in the same room for the first night of
their married life.
It is the version of the plaintiff, that contrary to her expectations, that as
newlyweds they were supposed to enjoy making love, or having sexual
intercourse, with each other, the defendant just went to bed, slept on one side
thereof, then turned his back and went to sleep . There was no sexual
intercourse between them during the first night. The same thing happened on the
second, third and fourth nights.
In an effort to have their honeymoon in a private place where they can enjoy
together during their first week as husband and wife, they went to Baguio City.
But, they did so together with her mother, an uncle, his mother and his nephew.
They were all invited by the defendant to join them. [T]hey stayed in Baguio City
for four (4) days. But, during this period, there was no sexual intercourse
between them, since the defendant avoided her by taking a long walk during
siesta time or by just sleeping on a rocking chair located at the living room. They
slept together in the same room and on the same bed since May 22, 1988 until

March 15, 1989. But during this period, there was no attempt of sexual
intercourse between them. [S]he claims, that she did not: even see her
husband's private parts nor did he see hers.
Because of this, they submitted themselves for medical examinations to Dr.
Eufemio Macalalag, a urologist at the Chinese General Hospital, on January 20,
1989.
The results of their physical examinations were that she is healthy, normal and
still a virgin, while that of her husband's examination was kept confidential up to
this time. While no medicine was prescribed for her, the doctor prescribed
medications for her husband which was also kept confidential. No treatment was
given to her. For her husband, he was asked by the doctor to return but he never
did.
The plaintiff claims, that the defendant is impotent, a closet homosexual as he
did not show his penis. She said, that she had observed the defendant using an
eyebrow pencil and sometimes the cleansing cream of his mother. And that,
according to her, the defendant married her, a Filipino citizen, to acquire or
maintain his residency status here in the country and to publicly maintain the
appearance of a normal man.
The plaintiff is not willing to reconcile with her husband.
On the other hand, it is the claim of the defendant that if their marriage shall be
annulled by reason of psychological incapacity, the fault lies with his wife.
But, he said that he does not want his marriage with his wife annulled for several
reasons, viz: (1) that he loves her very much; (2) that he has no defect on his
part and he is physically and psychologically capable; and, (3) since the
relationship is still very young and if there is any differences between the two of
them, it can still be reconciled and that, according to him, if either one of them
has some incapabilities, there is no certainty that this will not be cured. He further

claims, that if there is any defect, it can be cured by the intervention of medical
technology or science.
The defendant admitted that since their marriage on May 22, 1988, until their
separation on March 15, 1989, there was no sexual contact between them. But,
the reason for this, according to the defendant, was that everytime he wants to
have sexual intercourse with his wife, she always avoided him and whenever he
caresses her private parts, she always removed his hands. The defendant
claims, that he forced his wife to have sex with him only once but he did not
continue because she was shaking and she did not like it. So he stopped.
There are two (2) reasons, according to the defendant , why the plaintiff filed this
case against him, and these are: (1) that she is afraid that she will be forced to
return the pieces of jewelry of his mother, and, (2) that her husband, the
defendant, will consummate their marriage.
The defendant insisted that their marriage will remain valid because they are still
very young and there is still a chance to overcome their differences.

In open Court, the Trial Prosecutor manifested that there is no collusion between
the parties and that the evidence is not fabricated." 2
After trial, the court rendered judgment, the dispositive portion of which reads:
ACCORDINGLY, judgment is hereby rendered declaring as VOID the marriage
entered into by the plaintiff with the defendant on May 22, 1988 at the Manila
Cathedral, Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, Intramuros, Manila, before the
Rt. Rev. Msgr. Melencio de Vera. Without costs. Let a copy of this decision be
furnished the Local Civil Registrar of Quezon City. Let another copy be furnished
the Local Civil Registrar of Manila.
SO ORDERED.
On appeal, the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court's decision.
Hence, the instant petition.
Petitioner alleges that the respondent Court of Appeals erred:

The defendant submitted himself to a physical examination. His penis was


examined by Dr. Sergio Alteza, Jr., for the purpose of finding out whether he is
impotent . As a result thereof, Dr. Alteza submitted his Doctor's Medical Report.
(Exh. "2"). It is stated there, that there is no evidence of impotency (Exh. "2-B"),
and he is capable of erection. (Exh. "2-C")
The doctor said, that he asked the defendant to masturbate to find out whether or
not he has an erection and he found out that from the original size of two (2)
inches, or five (5) centimeters, the penis of the defendant lengthened by one (1)
inch and one centimeter. Dr. Alteza said, that the defendant had only a soft
erection which is why his penis is not in its full length. But, still is capable of
further erection, in that with his soft erection, the defendant is capable of having
sexual intercourse with a woman.

I
in affirming the conclusions of the lower court that there was no sexual
intercourse between the parties without making any findings of fact.
II
in holding that the refusal of private respondent to have sexual communion with
petitioner is a psychological incapacity inasmuch as proof thereof is totally
absent.
III

in holding that the alleged refusal of both the petitioner and the private
respondent to have sex with each other constitutes psychological incapacity of
both.
IV
in affirming the annulment of the marriage between the parties decreed by the
lower court without fully satisfying itself that there was no collusion between
them.
We find the petition to be bereft of merit.
Petitioner contends that being the plaintiff in Civil Case No. Q-89-3141, private
respondent has the burden of proving the allegations in her complaint; that since there
was no independent evidence to prove the alleged non-coitus between the parties, there
remains no other basis for the court's conclusion except the admission of petitioner; that
public policy should aid acts intended to validate marriage and should retard acts
intended to invalidate them; that the conclusion drawn by the trial court on the
admissions and confessions of the parties in their pleadings and in the course of the trial
is misplaced since it could have been a product of collusion; and that in actions for
annulment of marriage, the material facts alleged in the complaint shall always be
proved. 3
Section 1, Rule 19 of the Rules of Court reads:
Section 1. Judgment on the pleadings. Where an answer fails to tender an
issue, or otherwise admits the material allegations of the adverse party's
pleading, the court may, on motion of that party, direct judgment on such
pleading. But in actions for annulment of marriage or for legal separation the
material facts alleged in the complaint shall always be proved.
The foregoing provision pertains to a judgment on the pleadings. What said provision
seeks to prevent is annulment of marriage without trial. The assailed decision was not

based on such a judgment on the pleadings. When private respondent testified under
oath before the trial court and was cross-examined by oath before the trial court and was
cross-examined by the adverse party, she thereby presented evidence in form of a
testimony. After such evidence was presented, it be came incumbent upon petitioner to
present his side. He admitted that since their marriage on May 22, 1988, until their
separation on March 15, 1989, there was no sexual intercourse between them.
To prevent collusion between the parties is the reason why, as stated by the petitioner,
the Civil Code provides that no judgment annulling a marriage shall be promulgated upon
a stipulation of facts or by confession of judgment (Arts. 88 and 101[par. 2]) and the
Rules of Court prohibit such annulment without trial (Sec. 1, Rule 19).
The case has reached this Court because petitioner does not want their marriage to be
annulled. This only shows that there is no collusion between the parties. When petitioner
admitted that he and his wife (private respondent) have never had sexual contact with
each other, he must have been only telling the truth. We are reproducing the relevant
portion of the challenged resolution denying petitioner's Motion for Reconsideration,
penned with magisterial lucidity by Associate Justice Minerva Gonzaga-Reyes, viz:
The judgment of the trial court which was affirmed by this Court is not based on a
stipulation of facts. The issue of whether or not the appellant is psychologically
incapacitated to discharge a basic marital obligation was resolved upon a review
of both the documentary and testimonial evidence on record. Appellant admitted
that he did not have sexual relations with his wife after almost ten months of
cohabitation, and it appears that he is not suffering from any physical disability.
Such abnormal reluctance or unwillingness to consummate his marriage is
strongly indicative of a serious personality disorder which to the mind of this
Court clearly demonstrates an 'utter insensitivity or inability to give meaning and
significance to the marriage' within the meaning of Article 36 of the Family Code
(See Santos vs. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 112019, January 4, 1995). 4
Petitioner further contends that respondent court erred in holding that the alleged refusal
of both the petitioner and the private respondent to have sex with each other constitutes

psychological incapacity of both. He points out as error the failure of the trial court to
make "a categorical finding about the alleged psychological incapacity and an in-depth
analysis of the reasons for such refusal which may not be necessarily due to
physchological disorders" because there might have been other reasons, i.e., physical
disorders, such as aches, pains or other discomforts, why private respondent would
not want to have sexual intercourse from May 22, 1988 to March 15, 1989, in a short
span of 10 months.
First, it must be stated that neither the trial court nor the respondent court made a finding
on who between petitioner and private respondent refuses to have sexual contact with
the other. The fact remains, however, that there has never been coitus between them. At
any rate, since the action to declare the marriage void may be filed by either party, i.e.,
even the psychologically incapacitated, the question of who refuses to have sex with the
other becomes immaterial.
Petitioner claims that there is no independent evidence on record to show that any of the
parties is suffering from phychological incapacity. Petitioner also claims that he wanted to
have sex with private respondent; that the reason for private respondent's refusal may
not be psychological but physical disorder as stated above.
We do not agree. Assuming it to be so, petitioner could have discussed with private
respondent or asked her what is ailing her, and why she balks and avoids him everytime
he wanted to have sexual intercourse with her. He never did. At least, there is nothing in
the record to show that he had tried to find out or discover what the problem with his wife
could be. What he presented in evidence is his doctor's Medical Report that there is no
evidence of his impotency and he is capable of erection. 5 Since it is petitioner's claim that
the reason is not psychological but perhaps physical disorder on the part of private
respondent, it became incumbent upon him to prove such a claim.
If a spouse, although physically capable but simply refuses to perform his or her
essential marriage obligations, and the refusal is senseless and constant,
Catholic marriage tribunals attribute the causes to psychological incapacity than
to stubborn refusal. Senseless and protracted refusal is equivalent to

psychological incapacity. Thus, the prolonged refusal of a spouse to have sexual


intercourse with his or her spouse is considered a sign of psychological
incapacity. 6
Evidently, one of the essential marital obligations under the Family Code is "To procreate
children based on the universal principle that procreation of children through sexual
cooperation is the basic end of marriage." Constant non- fulfillment of this obligation will
finally destroy the integrity or wholeness of the marriage. In the case at bar, the
senseless and protracted refusal of one of the parties to fulfill the above marital
obligation is equivalent to psychological incapacity.
As aptly stated by the respondent court,
An examination of the evidence convinces Us that the husband's plea that the
wife did not want carnal intercourse with him does not inspire belief. Since he
was not physically impotent, but he refrained from sexual intercourse during the
entire time (from May 22, 1988 to March 15, 1989) that he occupied the same
bed with his wife, purely out of symphaty for her feelings, he deserves to be
doubted for not having asserted his right seven though she balked (Tompkins vs.
Tompkins, 111 Atl. 599, cited in I Paras, Civil Code, at p. 330). Besides, if it were
true that it is the wife was suffering from incapacity, the fact that defendant did
not go to court and seek the declaration of nullity weakens his claim. This case
was instituted by the wife whose normal expectations of her marriage were
frustrated by her husband's inadequacy. Considering the innate modesty of the
Filipino woman, it is hard to believe that she would expose her private life to
public scrutiny and fabricate testimony against her husband if it were not
necessary to put her life in order and put to rest her marital status.
We are not impressed by defendant's claim that what the evidence proved is the
unwillingness or lack of intention to perform the sexual act, which is not
phychological incapacity, and which can be achieved "through proper
motivation." After almost ten months of cohabitation, the admission that the
husband is reluctant or unwilling to perform the sexual act with his wife whom he

professes to love very dearly, and who has not posed any insurmountable
resistance to his alleged approaches, is indicative of a hopeless situation, and of
a serious personality disorder that constitutes psychological incapacity to
discharge the basic marital covenants within the contemplation of the Family
Code. 7
While the law provides that the husband and the wife are obliged to live together,
observe mutual love, respect and fidelity (Art. 68, Family Code), the sanction therefor is
actually the "spontaneous, mutual affection between husband and wife and not any legal
mandate or court order" (Cuaderno vs. Cuaderno 120 Phil. 1298). Love is useless unless
it is shared with another. Indeed, no man is an island, the cruelest act of a partner in
marriage is to say "I could not have cared less." This is so because an ungiven self is an
unfulfilled self. The egoist has nothing but himself. In the natural order, it is sexual
intimacy which brings spouses wholeness and oneness. Sexual intimacy is a gift and a
participation in the mystery of creation. It is a function which enlivens the hope of
procreation and ensures the continuation of family relations.
It appears that there is absence of empathy between petitioner and private respondent.
That is a shared feeling which between husband and wife must be experienced not
only by having spontaneous sexual intimacy but a deep sense of spiritual communion.
Marital union is a two-way process. An expressive interest in each other's feelings at a
time it is needed by the other can go a long way in deepening the marital relationship.
Marriage is definitely not for children but for two consenting adults who view the
relationship with love amor gignit amorem, respect, sacrifice and a continuing
commitment to compromise, conscious of its value as a sublime social institution.
This Court, finding the gravity of the failed relationship in which the parties found
themselves trapped in its mire of unfulfilled vows and unconsummated marital
obligations, can do no less but sustain the studied judgment of respondent appellate
court.

IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING PREMISES , the assailed decision of the Court of


Appeals dated November 29, 1994 is hereby AFFIRMED in all respects and the petition
is hereby DENIED for lack of merit.
SO ORDERED.
Regalado, Romero, Puno and Mendoza, JJ., concur.
Footnotes
1 Thirteenth Division: Minerva Gonzaga-Reyes, J., ponente, Eduardo G.
Montenegro and Antonio P. Solano, JJ., concurring.
2 Rollo, pp. 20-24.
3 Ibid.
4 Rollo, p. 34.
5 Exhs. "2", "2-B" and "2-C".
6 Psychological Incapacity, G.T. Veloso, p. 20, cited in The Family Code
of the Philippines Annotated, Pineda, 1989 ed., p. 51.
7 Decision, pp. 11-12; Rollo, pp. 30-31.

Petitioner Lucita Estrella Hernandez and private respondent Mario C. Hernandez


were married at the Silang Catholic Parish Church in Silang, Cavite on January 1,
1981 (Exh. A).[2] Three children were born to them, namely, Maie, who was born on
May 3, 1982 (Exh. B),[3] Lyra, born on May 22, 1985 (Exh. C),[4] and Marian, born on
June 15, 1989 (Exh. D).[5]

SECOND DIVISION

[G.R. No. 126010. December 8, 1999]

LUCITA ESTRELLA HERNANDEZ, petitioner vs. COURT OF


APPEALS and MARIO C. HERNANDEZ, respondents.
DECISION
MENDOZA, J.:

This is a petition for review on certiorari of the decision[1] of the Court of


Appeals, dated January 30, 1996, affirming the decision of the Regional Trial Court,
Branch 18, Tagaytay City, dated April 10, 1993, which dismissed the petition for
annulment of marriage filed by petitioner.

On July 10, 1992, petitioner filed before the Regional Trial Court, Branch 18,
Tagaytay City, a petition seeking the annulment of her marriage to private respondent
on the ground of psychological incapacity of the latter. She alleged that from the time
of their marriage up to the time of the filing of the suit, private respondent failed to
perform his obligation to support the family and contribute to the management of the
household, devoting most of his time engaging in drinking sprees with his
friends. She further claimed that private respondent, after they were married,
cohabited with another woman with whom he had an illegitimate child, while having
affairs with different women, and that, because of his promiscuity, private respondent
endangered her health by infecting her with a sexually transmissible disease
(STD). She averred that private respondent was irresponsible, immature and
unprepared for the duties of a married life. Petitioner prayed that for having
abandoned the family, private respondent be ordered to give support to their three
children in the total amount of P9,000.00 every month; that she be awarded the
custody of their children; and that she be adjudged as the sole owner of a parcel of
land located at Don Gregorio Subdivision I in Bo. Bucal, Dasmarias, Cavite,
purchased during the marriage, as well as the jeep which private respondent took with
him when he left the conjugal home on June 12, 1992.[6]
On October 8, 1992, because of private respondents failure to file his answer, the
trial court issued an order directing the assistant provincial prosecutor to conduct an
investigation to determine if there was collusion between the parties. [7] Only petitioner
appeared at the investigation on November 5, 1992. Nevertheless, the prosecutor
found no evidence of collusion and recommended that the case be set for trial.[8]
Based on the evidence presented by the petitioner, the facts are as follows:[9]
Petitioner and private respondent met in 1977 at the Philippine Christian
University in Dasmarias, Cavite. Petitioner, who is five years older than private

respondent, was then in her first year of teaching zoology and botany. Private
respondent, a college freshman, was her student for two consecutive semesters. They
became sweethearts in February 1979 when she was no longer private respondents
teacher.On January 1, 1981, they were married.
Private respondent continued his studies for two more years. His parents paid for
his tuition fees, while petitioner provided his allowances and other financial
needs. The family income came from petitioners salary as a faculty member of the
Philippine Christian University. Petitioner augmented her earnings by selling
Tupperware products, as well as engaging in the buy-and-sell of coffee, rice
andpolvoron.
From 1983 up to 1986, as private respondent could not find a stable job, it was
agreed that he would help petitioner in her businesses by delivering orders to
customers. However, because her husband was a spendthrift and had other women,
petitioners business suffered. Private respondent often had smoking and drinking
sprees with his friends and betted on fighting cocks. In 1982, after the birth of their
first child, petitioner discovered two love letters written by a certain Realita Villena to
private respondent. She knew Villena as a married student whose husband was
working in Saudi Arabia. When petitioner confronted private respondent, he admitted
having an extra-marital affair with Villena. Petitioner then pleaded with Villena to end
her relationship with private respondent. For his part, private respondent said he
would end the affairs, but he did not keep his promise. Instead, he left the conjugal
home and abandoned petitioner and their child. When private respondent came back,
however, petitioner accepted him, despite private respondents infidelity in the hope of
saving their marriage.
Upon the recommendation of a family friend, private respondent was able to get
a job at Reynolds Philippines, Inc. in San Agustin, Dasmarias, Cavite in
1986. However, private respondent was employed only until March 31, 1991, because
he availed himself of the early retirement plan offered by the company. He
received P53,000.00 in retirement pay, but instead of spending the amount for the
needs of the family, private respondent spent the money on himself and consumed the
entire amount within four months of his retirement.

While private respondent worked at Reynolds Philippines, Inc., his smoking,


drinking, gambling and womanizing became worse. Petitioner discovered that private
respondent carried on relationships with different women. He had relations with a
certain Edna who worked at Yazaki; Angie, who was an operator of a billiard hall;
Tess, a Japayuki; Myrna Macatangay, a secretary at the Road Master Drivers School
in Bayan, Dasmarias, Cavite, with whom he cohabited for quite a while; and, Ruth
Oliva, by whom he had a daughter named Margie P. Oliva, born on September 15,
1989 (Exh. E).[10] When petitioner confronted private respondent about his
relationship with Tess, he beat her up, as a result of which she was confined at the De
la Salle University Medical Center in Dasmarias, Cavite on July 4-5, 1990 because of
cerebral concussion (Exh. F).[11]
According to petitioner, private respondent engaged in extreme promiscuous
conduct during the latter part of 1986. As a result, private respondent contracted
gonorrhea and infected petitioner. They both received treatment at the Zapote Medical
Specialists Center in Zapote, Bacoor, Cavite from October 22, 1986 until March 13,
1987 (Exhs. G & H).[12]
Petitioner averred that on one occasion of a heated argument, private respondent
hit their eldest child who was then barely a year old. Private respondent is not close to
any of their children as he was never affectionate and hardly spent time with them.
On July 17, 1979, petitioner entered into a contract to sell (Exh. J) [13] with F & C
Realty Corporation whereby she agreed to buy from the latter a parcel of land at the
Don Gregorio Heights Subdivision I in Bo. Bucal, Dasmarias, Cavite and placed a
partial payment of P31,330.00. On May 26, 1987, after full payment of the amount
of P51,067.10, inclusive of interests from monthly installments, a deed of absolute
sale (Exh. K)[14] was executed in her favor and TCT No. T-221529 (Exh. M) [15] was
duly issued.
According to petitioner, on August 1, 1992, she sent a handwritten letter [16] to
private respondent expressing her frustration over the fact that her efforts to save their
marriage proved futile. In her letter, petitioner also stated that she was allowing him
to sell their owner-type jeepney[17] and to divide the proceeds of the sale between the

two of them. Petitioner also told private respondent of her intention to file a petition
for the annulment of their marriage.
It does not appear that private respondent ever replied to petitioners letter. By this
time, he had already abandoned petitioner and their children. In October 1992,
petitioner learned that private respondent left for the Middle East. Since then, private
respondents whereabouts had been unknown.
Ester Alfaro, petitioners childhood friend and co-teacher at the Philippine
Christian University, testified during the hearing on the petition for annulment. She
said that sometime in June 1979, petitioner introduced private respondent to her
(Alfaro) as the formers sweetheart. Alfaro said she was not impressed with private
respondent who was her student in accounting. She observed private respondent to be
fun-loving, spending most of his time with campus friends. In November 1980, when
petitioner asked Alfaro to be one of the secondary sponsors at her forthcoming
wedding, Alfaro wanted to dissuade petitioner from going through with the wedding
because she thought private respondent was not ready for married life as he was then
unemployed. True enough, although the couple appeared happy during the early part
of their marriage, it was not long thereafter that private respondent started drinking
with his friends and going home late at night. Alfaro corroborated petitioners claim
that private respondent was a habitual drunkard who carried on relationships with
different women and continued hanging out with his friends. She also confirmed that
petitioner was once hospitalized because she was beaten up by private
respondent. After the first year of petitioners marriage, Alfaro tried to talk to private
respondent, but the latter accused her of meddling with their marital life. Alfaro said
that private respondent was not close to his children and that he had abandoned
petitioner.[18]
On April 10, 1993, the trial court rendered a decision [19] dismissing the petition
for annulment of marriage filed by petitioner. The pertinent portion of the decision
reads:[20]

The Court can underscore the fact that the circumstances mentioned by the
petitioner in support of her claim that respondent was psychologically

incapacitated to marry her are among the grounds cited by the law as valid
reasons for the grant of legal separation (Article 55 of the Family Code) not as grounds for a declaration of nullity of marriages or annulment
thereof. Thus, Article 55 of the same code reads as follows:
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;
....
(5) Drug addiction or habitual alcoholism of the respondent;
....
(8) Sexual infidelity or perversion;
....
(10) Abandonment of petitioner by respondent without justifiable cause for
more than one year.
....
If indeed Article 36 of the Family Code of the Philippines, which mentions
psychological incapacity as a ground for the declaration of the nullity of a
marriage, has intended to include the above-stated circumstances as
constitutive of such incapacity, then the same would not have been
enumerated as grounds for legal separation.

In the same manner, this Court is not disposed to grant relief in favor of the
petitioner under Article 46, paragraph (3) of the Family Code of the
Philippines, as there is no dispute that the gonorrhea transmitted to the
petitioner by respondent occurred sometime in 1986, or five (5) years after
petitioners marriage with respondent was celebrated in 1981. The provisions
of Article 46, paragraph (3) of the same law should be taken in conjunction
with Article 45, paragraph (3) of the same code, and a careful reading of the
two (2) provisions of the law would require the existence of this ground
(fraud) at the time of the celebration of the marriage. Hence, the annulment
of petitioners marriage with the respondent on this ground, as alleged and
proved in the instant case, cannot be legally accepted by the Court.
Petitioner appealed to the Court of Appeals which, on January 30, 1996, rendered
its decision affirming the decision of the trial court. Citing the ruling in Santos v.
Court of Appeals,[21] the Court of Appeals held:[22]

It is clear in the above law and jurisprudence that the psychological


incapacity of a spouse, as a ground for declaration of nullity of marriage,
must exist at the time of the celebration of marriage. More so, chronic
sexual infidelity, abandonment, gambling and use of prohibited drugs are
not grounds per se, of psychological incapacity of a spouse.
We agree with the Solicitor General that petitioner-appellant failed to prove
that her respondent-husband was psychologically incapacitated at the time
of the celebration of the marriage. Certainly, petitioner-appellants
declaration that at the time of their marriage her respondent-husbands
character was on the borderline between a responsible person and the
happy-go-lucky, could not constitute the psychological incapacity in
contemplation of Article 36 of the Family Code. In fact, petitioner-appellant
herself ascribed said attitude to her respondent-husbands youth and very

good looks, who was admittedly several years younger than petitionerappellant who, herself, happened to be the college professor of her
respondent-husband. Petitioner-appellant even described her respondenthusband not as a problem student but a normal one (p. 24, tsn, Dec. 8,
1992).
The acts and attitudes complained of by petitioner-appellant happened after
the marriage and there is no proof that the same have already existed at the
time of the celebration of the marriage to constitute the psychological
incapacity under Article 36 of the Family Code.
Hence, this petition. Petitioner contends that the respondent Court of Appeals
erred
I. IN FINDING THAT THE PSYCHOLOGICAL INCAPACITY OF THE
PRIVATE RESPONDENT TO COMPLY WITH HIS ESSENTIAL MARITAL
OBLIGATIONS DID NOT EXIST FROM THE TIME OF THE
CELEBRATION OF THE MARRIAGE.
II. IN
RULING
THAT
PRIVATE
RESPONDENT
WAS
NOT
PSYCHOLOGICALLY INCAPACITATED TO COMPLY WITH HIS
ESSENTIAL MARITAL OBLIGATIONS.
III. IN AFFIRMING THE DECISION OF THE TRIAL COURT DENYING THE
AWARD OF PERMANENT CUSTODY OF THE CHILDREN TO
PETITIONER.
IV. IN AFFIRMING THE DECISION OF THE TRIAL COURT DENYING THE
PRAYER FOR ISSUANCE OF AN ORDER REQUIRING PRIVATE
RESPONDENT TO GIVE SUPPORT TO THE THREE CHILDREN IN THE
AMOUNT OF P3,000.00 PER CHILD.
V. IN NOT DECLARING THE REAL PROPERTY ACQUIRED BY PETITIONER
AS HER EXCLUSIVE PROPERTY.

The issue in this case is whether or not the marriage of petitioner and private
respondent should be annulled on the ground of private respondents psychological
incapacity.

considers children conceived prior to the judicial declaration of nullity of


the void marriage to be legitimate.

Petitioner alleges that the Court of Appeals erred in holding that petitioner failed
to show that private respondents psychological incapacity existed at the time of the
celebration of the marriage. She argues that the fact that the acts of incapacity of
private respondent became manifest only after the celebration of their marriage
should not be a bar to the annulment of their marriage.

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.

Art. 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.[23]
In Santos v. Court of Appeals,[24] we held:

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 insensitivity or 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

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.
In the instant case, other than her self-serving declarations, petitioner failed to
establish the fact that at the time they were married, private respondent was suffering
from a psychological defect which in fact deprived him of the ability to assume the
essential duties of marriage and its concomitant responsibilities. As the Court of
Appeals pointed out, no evidence was presented to show that private respondent was
not cognizant of the basic marital obligations. It was not sufficiently proved that
private respondent was really incapable of fulfilling his duties due to some incapacity
of a psychological nature, and not merely physical. Petitioner says that at the outset of
their marriage, private respondent showed lack of drive to work for his family. Private

respondents parents and petitioner supported him through college.After his schooling,
although he eventually found a job, he availed himself of the early retirement plan
offered by his employer and spent the entire amount he received on himself. For a
greater part of their marital life, private respondent was out of job and did not have
the initiative to look for another. He indulged in vices and engaged in philandering,
and later abandoned his family. Petitioner concludes that private respondents
condition is incurable, causing the disintegration of their union and defeating the very
objectives of marriage.
However, private respondents alleged habitual alcoholism, sexual infidelity or
perversion, and abandonment do not by themselves constitute grounds for finding that
he is suffering from a psychological incapacity within the contemplation of the
Family Code. It must be shown that these acts are manifestations of a disordered
personality which make private respondent completely unable to discharge the
essential obligations of the marital state, and not merely due to private respondents
youth and self-conscious feeling of being handsome, as the appellate court held. As
pointed out in Republic of the Philippines v. Court of Appeals:[25]

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
physically 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 (citing Salita v. Magtolis, supra) 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.

Moreover, expert testimony should have been presented to establish the precise
cause of private respondents psychological incapacity, if any, in order to show that it
existed at the inception of the marriage. The burden of proof to show the nullity of the
marriage rests upon 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.[26] Thus, any doubt should be
resolved in favor of the validity of the marriage.[27]
We, therefore, find no reason to reverse the ruling of respondent Court of
Appeals whose conclusions, affirming the trial courts finding with regard to the nonexistence of private respondents psychological incapacity at the time of the marriage,
are entitled to great weight and even finality.[28] Only where it is shown that such
findings are whimsical, capricious, and arbitrary can these be overturned.
The conclusion we have reached makes it unnecessary for us to pass upon
petitioners contentions on the issue of permanent custody of children, the amount for
their respective support, and the declaration of exclusive ownership of petitioner over
the real property. These matters may more appropriately be litigated in a separate
proceeding for legal separation, dissolution of property regime, and/or custody of
children which petitioner may bring.
WHEREFORE, the decision of the Court of Appeals is AFFIRMED.
SO ORDERED.
Bellosillo (Chairman), Quisumbing, Buena, and De Leon, Jr., JJ., concur.

[1]
Per Justice Lourdes K. Tayao-Jaguros and concurred in by Justices Jorge S. Imperial (Chairman) and B.A. Adefuin-De la
Cruz.
[2]

RTC Records, p. 7.

[3]

Id., p. 8.

[4]

Id., p. 9.

[5]

Id., p. 10.

[6]

Petition, RTC Records, pp. 1-4.

[7]

RTC Records, p. 24.

[8]

Id., p. 25.

[9]

TSN, pp. 6-56, Nov. 13, 1992; pp. 3-31, Dec. 8, 1992.

[10]

RTC Records, p. 37.

[11]

Id., p. 38.

[12]

Id., pp. 39-40a.

[13]

Id., pp. 41-43.

[14]

Id., pp. 44-45.

[15]

Id., p. 47.

[16]

Id., pp. 49-51.

[17]

Id., p. 48.

17

[18]

TSN, pp. 32-68, Dec. 8, 1992.

[19]

Per Acting Presiding Judge Eleuterio F. Guerrero.

[20]

RTC Records, pp. 58-59.

[21]

310 Phil. 22 (1995).

[22]

Rollo, pp. 44-46.

[23]

As amended by E.O. No. 227 dated July 17, 1987.

[24]

Supra, at 40-41.

[25]

335 Phil. 664, 676-680 (1997).

[26]

See Art. II, 12; Art. XV, 1-2.

[27]

Republic of the Philippines v. Court of Appeals, supra.

[28]

Tuason v. Court of Appeals, 326 Phil. 169 (1996).

Before us is a Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules


of Court, assailing the July 24, 1998 Decision [1] of the Court of Appeals (CA) in
CA-GR CV No. 55588, which disposed as follows:

"WHEREFORE, the contested decision is set aside and the marriage


between the parties is hereby declared valid." [2]
Also challenged by petitioner is the December 3, 1998 CA Resolution
denying her Motion for Reconsideration.
Earlier, the Regional Trial Court (RTC) had ruled thus:

THIRD DIVISION

[G.R. No. 136490. October 19, 2000]

BRENDA
B.
MARCOS, petitioner,
MARCOS, respondent.

vs. WILSON

G.

DECISION
PANGANIBAN, J.:

Psychological incapacity, as a ground for declaring the nullity of a


marriage, may be established by the totality of evidence presented. There is
no requirement, however, that the respondent should be examined by a
physician or a psychologist as a conditio sine qua non for such declaration.
The Case

"WHEREFORE, the marriage between petitioner Brenda B. Marcos and


respondent Wilson G. Marcos, solemnized on September 6, 1982 in Pasig
City is declared null and void ab initio pursuant to Art. 36 of the Family
Code. The conjugal properties, if any, is dissolved [sic] in accordance with
Articles 126 and 129 of the same Code in relation to Articles 50, 51 and 52
relative to the delivery of the legitime of [the] parties' children. In the best
interest and welfare of the minor children, their custody is granted to
petitioner subject to the visitation rights of respondent.
"Upon finality of this Decision, furnish copy each to the Office of the Civil
Registrar of Pasig City where the marriage was solemnized, the National
Census and Statistics Office, Manila and the Register of Deeds of
Mandaluyong City for their appropriate action consistent with this Decision.
"SO ORDERED."
The Facts

The facts as found by the Court of Appeals are as follows:

"It was established during the trial that the parties were married twice: (1)
on September 6, 1982 which was solemnized by Judge Eriberto H. Espiritu
at the Municipal Court of Pasig (Exh. A); and (2) on May 8, 1983 which
was solemnized by Rev. Eduardo L. Eleazar, Command Chaplain, at the
Presidential Security Command Chapel in Malacaang Park, Manila (Exh. A1). Out of their marriage, five (5) children were born (Exhs. B, C, D, E and
F).
"Appellant Wilson G. Marcos joined the Armed Forces of the Philippines in
1973. Later on, he was transferred to the Presidential Security Command in
Malacaang during the Marcos Regime. Appellee Brenda B. Marcos, on the
other hand, joined the Women's Auxilliary Corps under the Philippine Air
Force in 1978. After the Edsa Revolution, both of them sought a discharge
from the military service.
"They first met sometime in 1980 when both of them were assigned at the
Malacaang Palace, she as an escort of Imee Marcos and he as a Presidential
Guard of President Ferdinand Marcos. Through telephone conversations,
they became acquainted and eventually became sweethearts.
"After their marriage on September 6, 1982, they resided at No. 1702 Daisy
Street, Hulo Bliss, Mandaluyong, a housing unit which she acquired from
the Bliss Development Corporation when she was still single.
"After the downfall of President Marcos, he left the military service in 1987
and then engaged in different business ventures that did not however
prosper. As a wife, she always urged him to look for work so that their
children would see him, instead of her, as the head of the family and a good

provider. Due to his failure to engage in any gainful employment, they


would often quarrel and as a consequence, he would hit and beat her. He
would even force her to have sex with him despite her weariness. He would
also inflict physical harm on their children for a slight mistake and was so
severe in the way he chastised them. Thus, for several times during their
cohabitation, he would leave their house. In 1992, they were already living
separately.
"All the while, she was engrossed in the business of selling "magic uling"
and chickens. While she was still in the military, she would first make
deliveries early in the morning before going to Malacaang.When she was
discharged from the military service, she concentrated on her
business. Then, she became a supplier in the Armed Forces of the
Philippines until she was able to put up a trading and construction company,
NS Ness Trading and Construction Development Corporation.
"The 'straw that broke the camel's back' took place on October 16, 1994,
when they had a bitter quarrel. As they were already living separately, she
did not want him to stay in their house anymore. On that day, when she saw
him in their house, she was so angry that she lambasted him. He then turned
violent, inflicting physical harm on her and even on her mother who came to
her aid. The following day, October 17, 1994, she and their children left the
house and sought refuge in her sister's house.
"On October 19, 1994, she submitted herself [to] medical examination at the
Mandaluyong Medical Center where her injuries were diagnosed as
contusions (Exh. G, Records, 153).
"Sometime in August 1995, she together with her two sisters and driver,
went to him at the Bliss unit in Mandaluyong to look for their missing child,

Niko. Upon seeing them, he got mad. After knowing the reason for their
unexpected presence, he ran after them with a samurai and even [beat] her
driver.
"At the time of the filing of this case, she and their children were renting a
house in Camella, Paraaque, while the appellant was residing at the Bliss
unit in Mandaluyong.
"In the case study conducted by Social Worker Sonia C. Millan, the children
described their father as cruel and physically abusive to them (Exh. UU,
Records, pp. 85-100).
"The appellee submitted herself to psychologist Natividad A. Dayan, Ph.D.,
for psychological evaluation (Exh. YY, Records, pp. 207-216), while the
appellant on the other hand, did not.
"The court a quo found the appellant to be psychologically incapacitated to
perform his marital obligations mainly because of his failure to find work to
support his family and his violent attitude towardsappellee and their
children, x x x."[3]
Ruling of the Court of Appeals

Reversing the RTC, the CA held that psychological incapacity had not
been established by the totality of the evidence presented. It ratiocinated in
this wise:

"Essential in a petition for annulment is the allegation of the root cause of


the spouse's psychological incapacity which should also be medically or

clinically identified, sufficiently proven by experts and clearly explained in


the decision. The incapacity must be proven to be existing at the time of the
celebration of the marriage and shown to be medically or clinically
permanent or incurable. It must also be grave enough to bring about the
disability of the parties to assume the essential obligations of marriage as set
forth in Articles 68 to 71 and Articles 220 to 225 of the Family Code and
such non-complied marital obligations must similarly be alleged in the
petition, established by evidence and explained in the decision.
"In the case before us, the appellant was not subjected to any psychological
or psychiatric evaluation. The psychological findings about the appellant by
psychiatrist Natividad Dayan were based only on the interviews conducted
with the appellee. Expert evidence by qualified psychiatrists and clinical
psychologists is essential if only to prove that the parties were or any one of
them was mentally or psychically ill to be truly incognitive of the marital
obligations he or she was assuming, or as would make him or her x x x
unable to assume them. In fact, he offered testimonial evidence to show that
he [was] not psychologically incapacitated. The root cause of his supposed
incapacity was not alleged in the petition, nor medically or clinically
identified as a psychological illness or sufficiently proven by an
expert.Similarly, there is no evidence at all that would show that the
appellant was suffering from an incapacity which [was] psychological or
mental - not physical to the extent that he could not have known the
obligations he was assuming: that the incapacity [was] grave, ha[d]
preceded the marriage and [was] incurable." [4]
Hence, this Petition.[5]
Issues

In her Memorandum,[6] petitioner presents for this Court's consideration the following
issues:

"I. Whether or not the Honorable Court of Appeals could set aside the
findings by the Regional Trial Court of psychological incapacity of a
respondent in a Petition for declaration of nullity of marriage simply
because the respondent did not subject himself to psychological
evaluation.
II. Whether or not the totality of evidence presented and the demeanor of all
the witnesses should be the basis of the determination of the merits of
the Petition."[7]

The Court's Ruling

We agree with petitioner that the personal medical or psychological


examination of respondent is not a requirement for a declaration
of psychological incapacity. Nevertheless, the totality of the evidence she
presented does not show such incapacity.
Preliminary Issue: Need for Personal Medical Examination

Petitioner contends that the testimonies and the results of various tests
that were submitted to determine respondent's psychological incapacity to
perform the obligations of marriage should not have been brushed aside by
the Court of Appeals, simply because respondent had not taken those tests
himself. Petitioner adds that the CA should have realized that under the
circumstances, she had no choice but to rely on other sources of information
in order to determine the psychological capacity of respondent, who had
refused to submit himself to such tests.

In Republic v. CA and Molina,[8] the guidelines governing the application and the
interpretation of psychological incapacity referred to in Article 36 of the Family Code [9] were
laid down by this Court as follows:
"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.

xxxxxxxxx
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, 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 do's.' 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.

xxxxxxxxx
(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."[10]

The guidelines incorporate the three basic requirements earlier mandated


by the Court in Santos v. Court of Appeals:[11] "psychological incapacity must
be characterized by (a) gravity(b) juridical antecedence, and (c) incurability."
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 of
evidence
that
can
adequately
establish
the
party's 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.
Main Issue: Totality of Evidence Presented

The main question, then, is whether the totality of the evidence presented
in the present case -- including the testimonies of petitioner, the common
children, petitioner's sister and the social worker -- was enough to sustain a
finding that respondent was psychologically incapacitated.
We rule in the negative. Although this Court is sufficiently convinced that
respondent failed to provide material support to the family and may have
resorted to physical abuse and abandonment, the totality of his acts does not
lead to a conclusion of psychological incapacity on his part. There is
absolutely no showing that his "defects" were already present at the inception
of the marriage or that they are incurable.
Verily, the behavior of respondent can be attributed to the fact that he had
lost his job and was not gainfully employed for a period of more than six

years. It was during this period that he became intermittently drunk, failed to
give material and moral support, and even left the family home.
Thus, his alleged psychological illness was traced only to said period and
not to the inception of the marriage. Equally important, there is no evidence
showing that his condition is incurable, especially now that he is gainfully
employed as a taxi driver.
Article 36 of the Family Code, we stress, is not to be confused with a
divorce law that cuts the marital bond at the time the causes therefor manifest
themselves. It refers to a serious psychological illness afflicting a party even
before the celebration of the marriage. It is a malady so grave and so
permanent as to deprive one of awareness of the duties and responsibilities
of the matrimonial bond one is about to assume. These marital obligations are
those provided under Articles 68 to 71, 220, 221 and 225 of the Family Code.

SO ORDERED.
Melo, (Chairman), Vitug, Purisima, and Gonzaga-Reyes, JJ., concur.

[1]

Penned by Justice Bernardo LL Salas with the concurrence of Justices Fermin A. Martin Jr. (Division
chairman) and Candido V. Rivera (member).
[2]

CA Decision, pp. 12-13; rollo, pp. 38-39.

[3]

CA Decision, pp. 5-7; rollo, pp. 31-33.

[4]

CA Decision, pp. 10-11; rollo, pp. 36-37.

[5]

This case was deemed submitted for resolution on February 24, 2000, upon receipt by this Court of
respondent's Memorandum, which was signed by Atty. Virgilio V. Macaraig. Petitioner's Memorandum,
signed by Atty. Rita Linda V. Jimeno, had been filed earlier on November 5, 1999.

Neither is Article 36 to be equated with legal separation, in which the


grounds need not be rooted in psychological incapacity but on physical
violence, moral pressure, moral corruption, civil interdiction, drug addiction,
habitual alcoholism, sexual infidelity, abandonment and the like. [12] At best, the
evidence presented by petitioner refers only to grounds for legal separation,
not for declaring a marriage void.

[6]

Rollo, p. 70; original in upper case.

[7]

Memorandum for petitioner, p. 6; rollo, p. 70.

[8]

268 SCRA 198, February 13, 1997, per Panganiban, J.

Because Article 36 has been abused as a convenient divorce law, this


Court laid down the procedural requirements for its invocation
in Molina. Petitioner, however, has not faithfully observed them.

"The action for declaration of nullity of the marriage under this Article shall prescribe in ten years after
its celebration."
[10]

Supra, pp. 209-213.

In sum, this Court cannot declare the dissolution of the marriage for
failure of petitioner to show that the alleged psychological incapacity is
characterized by gravity, juridical antecedence and incurability; and for her
failure to observe the guidelines outlined in Molina.

[11]

240 SCRA 20, 34, January 4, 1995, per Vitug, J.

WHEREFORE,
the
Petition
is DENIED and
assailed
Decision AFFIRMED, except that portion requiring personal medical
examination as a conditio sine qua non to a finding of psychological
incapacity. No costs.

(2) Physical violence or moral pressure to compel the petitioner to change religious or political affiliation;

[9]

"Article 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.

[12]

"Article 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;

(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, whether in the Philippines or
abroad;
(8) Sexual infidelity or perversion;
(9) Attempt by the respondent against the life of the petitioner; or
(10) Abandonment of petitioner by respondent without justifiable cause for more than one year.

It started in 1988, petitioner said, when she noticed that respondent surprisingly
showed signs of psychological incapacity to perform his marital covenant. His "true
color" of being an emotionally immature and irresponsible husband became
apparent. He was cruel and violent. He was a habitual drinker, staying with friends
daily from 4:00 o'clock in the afternoon until 1:00 o'clock in the morning.When
cautioned to stop or, to at least, minimize his drinking, respondent would beat, slap
and kick her. At one time, he chased petitioner with a loaded shotgun and threatened
to kill her in the presence of the children. The children themselves were not spared
from physical violence.

For purposes of this Article, the term 'child' shall include a child by nature or by adoption."

THIRD DIVISION

[G.R. No. 136921. April 17, 2001]

LORNA
GUILLEN
PESCA, petitioner,
PESCA, respondent.

vs. ZOSIMO

leave the country on board an ocean-going vessel barely a month after the
marriage. Six months later, the young couple established their residence in Quezon
City until they were able to build their own house in Caloocan City where they finally
resided. It was blissful marriage for the couple during the two months of the year that
they could stay together when respondent was on vacation. The union begot four
children, 19-year old Ruhem, 17-year old Rez, 11-year old Ryan, and 9-year old
Richie.

A.

DECISION
VITUG, J.:

Submitted for review is the decision of the Court of Appeals, promulgated on 27


May 1998, in C.A. G.R. CV. No. 52374, reversing the decision of the Regional Trial
Court (RTC) of Caloocan City, Branch 130, which has declared the marriage between
petitioner and respondent to be null and void ab initio on the ground of psychological
incapacity on the part of respondent.
Petitioner Lorna G. Pesca and respondent Zosimo A. Pesca first met sometime in
1975 while on board an inter-island vessel bound for Bacolod City. After a whirlwind
courtship, they got married on 03 March 1975. Initially, the young couple did not live
together as petitioner was still a student in college and respondent, a seaman, had to

Finally, on 19 November 1992, petitioner and her children left the conjugal
abode to live in the house of her sister in Quezon City as they could no longer bear
his violent ways. Two months later, petitioner decided to forgive respondent, and she
returned home to give him a chance to change. But, to her dismay, things did not so
turn out as expected. Indeed, matters became worse.
On the morning of 22 March 1994, about eight oclock, respondent assaulted
petitioner for about half an hour in the presence of the children. She was battered
black and blue. She submitted herself to medical examination at the Quezon City
General Hospital, which diagnosed her injuries as contusions and abrasions.
Petitioner filed a complaint with the barangay authorities, and a case was filed against
respondent for slight physical injuries. He was convicted by the Metropolitan Trial
Court of Caloocan City and sentenced to eleven days of imprisonment.
This time, petitioner and her children left the conjugal home for good and stayed
with her sister. Eventually, they decided to rent an apartment. Petitioner sued
respondent before the Regional Trial Court for the declaration of nullity of their

marriage invoking psychological incapacity. Petitioner likewise sought the custody of


her minor children and prayed for support pendente lite.
Summons, together with a copy of the complaint, was served on respondent on
25 April 1994 by personal service by the sheriff. As respondent failed to file an
answer or to enter his appearance within the reglementary period, the trial court
ordered the city prosecutor to look into a possible collusion between the parties.
Prosecutor Rosa C. Reyes, on 03 August 1994, submitted her report to the effect that
she found no evidence to establish that there was collusion between the parties.
On 11 January 1995, respondent belatedly filed, without leave of court, an
answer, and the same, although filed late, was admitted by the court. In his answer,
respondent admitted the fact of his marriage with petitioner and the birth of their
children. He also confirmed the veracity of Annex "A" of the complaint which listed
the conjugal property. Respondent vehemently denied, however, the allegation that he
was psychologically incapacitated.
On 15 November 1995, following hearings conducted by it, the trial court
rendered its decision declaring the marriage between petitioner and respondent to be
null and void ab initio on the basis of psychological incapacity on the part of
respondent and ordered the liquidation of the conjugal partnership.
Respondent appealed the above decision to the Court of Appeals, contending that
the trial court erred, particularly, in holding that there was legal basis to declare the
marriage null and void and in denying his motion to reopen the case.

of a psychological, not physical illness; that the root cause of the incapacity
has been identified medically or clinically, and has been proven by an
expert; and that the incapacity is permanent and incurable in nature.
The burden of proof to show the nullity of marriage lies in the plaintiff and
any doubt should be resolved in favor of the existence and continuation of
the marriage and against its dissolution and nullity." [1]
Petitioner, in her plea to this Court, would have the decision of the Court of
Appeals reversed on the thesis that the doctrine enunciated in Santos vs. Court of
Appeals,[2] promulgated on 14 January 1995, as well as the guidelines set out in
Republic vs. Court of Appeals and Molina, [3] promulgated on 13 February 1997,
should have no retroactive application and, on the assumption that the Molina ruling
could be applied retroactively, the guidelines therein outlined should be taken to be
merely advisory and not mandatory in nature. In any case, petitioner argues, the
application of the Santos and Molina dictashould warrant only a remand of the case
to the trial court for further proceedings and not its dismissal.
Be that as it may, respondent submits, the appellate court did not err in its
assailed decision for there is absolutely no evidence that has been shown to prove
psychological incapacity on his part as the term has been so defined in Santos.
Indeed, there is no merit in the petition.

The Court of Appeals reversed the decision of the trial court and declared the
marriage between petitioner and respondent valid and subsisting. The appellate court
said:

The term psychological incapacity, as a ground for the declaration of nullity of a


marriage under Article 36 of the Family Code, has been explained by the Court
in Santos and reiterated in Molina. The Court, in Santos, concluded:

"Definitely the appellee has not established the following: That the
appellant showed signs of mental incapacity as would cause him to be truly
incognitive of the basic marital covenant, as so provided for in Article 68 of
the Family Code; that the incapacity is grave, has preceded the marriage and
is incurable; that his incapacity to meet his marital responsibility is because

"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 Balumad's `Void and Voidable Marriages in the Family
Code and their Parallels in Canon Law, quoting form the Diagnostic
Statistical Manuel 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 insensitivity
or inability to give meaning and significance to the marriage. This
psychologic condition must exist at the time the marriage is celebrated."
The "doctrine of stare decisis," ordained in Article 8 of the Civil Code, expresses
that judicial decisions applying or interpreting the law shall form part of the legal
system of the Philippines. The rule follows the settled legal maxim legis interpretado
legis vim obtinet that the interpretation placed upon the written law by a competent
court has the force of law.[4] The interpretation or construction placed by the courts establishes the
contemporaneous legislative intent of the law. The latter as so interpreted and construed would thus
constitute a part of that law as of the date the statute is enacted. It is only when a prior ruling of this
Court finds itself later overruled, and a different view is adopted, that the new doctrine may have to be
applied prospectively in favor of parties who have relied on the old doctrine and have acted in good
faith in accordance therewith[5] under the familiar rule of lex prospicit, non respicit.

The phrase psychological incapacity, borrowed from Canon law, is an entirely


novel provision in our statute books, and, until the relatively recent enactment of the

Family Code, the concept has escaped jurisprudential attention. It is in Santos when,
for the first time, the Court has given life to the term. Molina, that followed, has
additionally provided procedural guidelines to assist the courts and the parties in
trying cases for annulment of marriages grounded on psychological
incapacity. Molina has strengthened, not overturned, Santos.
At all events, petitioner has utterly failed, both in her allegations in the complaint
and in her evidence, to make out a case of psychological incapacity on the part of
respondent, let alone at the time of solemnization of the contract, so as to warrant a
declaration of nullity of the marriage. Emotional immaturity and irresponsibility,
invoked by her, cannot be equated with psychological incapacity.
The Court reiterates its reminder that marriage is an inviolable social institution
and the foundation of the family[6] that the State cherishes and protects. While the
Court commisserates with petitioner in her unhappy marital relationship with
respondent, totally terminating that relationship, however, may not necessarily be the
fitting denouement to it. In these cases, the law has not quite given up, neither should
we.
WHEREFORE, the herein petition is DENIED. No costs.
SO ORDERED.
Melo, (Chairman),
JJ., concur.

Panganiban,

[1]

Rollo, pp. 42-43.

[2]

240 SCRA 20

[3]

268 SCRA 198.

[4]

People vs. Jabinal, 55 SCRA 607.

[5]

Gonzaga-Reyes, and Sandoval-Gutierrez,

Unciano Paramedical College, Inc. vs. Court of Appeals, 221 SCRA 285; Tanada vs. Guingona, 235
SCRA 507; Columbia Pictures, Inc., vs. Court of Appeals, 261 SCRA 144.

[6]

See Section 2, Article XV, 1987 Constitution.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
SECOND DIVISION
G.R. NO. 158896

October 27, 2004

JUANITA CARATING-SIAYNGCO, petitioner,


vs.
MANUEL SIAYNGCO, respondent.
DECISION
CHICO-NAZARIO, J.:
This is a petition for review on certiorari of the decision1 of the Court of Appeals
promulgated on 01 July 2003, reversing the decision2 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC),
Branch 102, Quezon City, dated 31 January 2001, which dismissed the petition for
declaration of nullity of marriage filed by respondent herein Judge Manuel Siayngco
("respondent Manuel").
Petitioner Juanita Carating-Siayngco ("Petitioner Juanita") and respondent Manuel were
married at civil rites on 27 June 1973 and before the Catholic Church on 11 August 1973.
After discovering that they could not have a child of their own, the couple decided to
adopt a baby boy in 1977, who they named Jeremy.

On 25 September 1997, or after twenty-four (24) years of married life together,


respondent Manuel filed for the declaration of its nullity on the ground of psychological
incapacity of petitioner Juanita. He alleged that all throughout their marriage, his wife
exhibited an over domineering and selfish attitude towards him which was exacerbated
by her extremely volatile and bellicose nature; that she incessantly complained about
almost everything and anyone connected with him like his elderly parents, the staff in his
office and anything not of her liking like the physical arrangement, tables, chairs,
wastebaskets in his office and with other trivial matters; that she showed no respect or
regard at all for the prestige and high position of his office as judge of the Municipal Trial
Court; that she would yell and scream at him and throw objects around the house within
the hearing of their neighbors; that she cared even less about his professional
advancement as she did not even give him moral support and encouragement; that her
psychological incapacity arose before marriage, rooted in her deep-seated resentment
and vindictiveness for what she perceived as lack of love and appreciation from her own
parents since childhood and that such incapacity is permanent and incurable and, even if
treatment could be attempted, it will involve time and expense beyond the emotional and
physical capacity of the parties; and that he endured and suffered through his turbulent
and loveless marriage to her for twenty-two (22) years.
In her Answer, petitioner Juanita alleged that respondent Manuel is still living with her at
their conjugal home in Malolos, Bulacan; that he invented malicious stories against her
so that he could be free to marry his paramour; that she is a loving wife and mother; that
it was respondent Manuel who was remiss in his marital and family obligations; that she
supported respondent Manuel in all his endeavors despite his philandering; that she was
raised in a real happy family and had a happy childhood contrary to what was stated in
the complaint.
In the pre-trial order,3 the parties only stipulated on the following:
1. That they were married on 27 June 1973;
2. That they have one son who is already 20 years old.

Trial on the merits ensued thereafter. Respondent Manuel first took the witness stand
and elaborated on the allegations in his petition. He testified that his parents never
approved of his marriage as they still harbored hope that he would return to the
seminary.4 The early years of their marriage were difficult years as they had a hard time
being accepted as husband and wife by his parents and it was at this period that his wife
started exhibiting signs of being irritable and temperamental5 to him and his
parents.6 She was also obsessive about cleanliness which became the common source
of their quarrels.7 He, however, characterized their union as happy during that period of
time in 1979 when they moved to Malolos as they were engrossed in furnishing their new
house.8 In 1981, when he became busy with law school and with various community
organizations, it was then that he felt that he and his wife started to drift apart. 9 He then
narrated incidents during their marriage that were greatly embarrassing and/or
distressing to him, e.g., when his wife quarreled with an elderly neighbor; 10 when she
would visit him in his office and remark that the curtains were already dirty or when she
kicked a trash can across the room or when she threw a ballpen from his table; 11 when
she caused his office drawer to be forcibly opened while he was away; 12 when she
confronted a female tenant of theirs and accused the tenant of having an affair with
him;13 and other incidents reported to him which would show her jealous nature. Money
matters continued to be a source of bitter quarrels.14 Respondent Manuel could not forget
that he was not able to celebrate his appointment as judge in 1995 as his wife did not
approve it, ostensibly for lack of money, but she was very generous when it came to
celebrations of their parish priest.15 Respondent Manuel then denied that he was a
womanizer16 or that he had a mistress.17 Lastly, respondent Manuel testified as to their
conjugal properties and obligations.18
Next, LUCENA TAN, respondent Manuels Clerk of Court, testified that petitioner Juanita
seldom went to respondent Manuels office.19 But when she was there, she would call
witness to complain about the curtains and the cleanliness of the office. 20 One time,
witness remembered petitioner Juanita rummaging through respondent Manuels drawer
looking for his address book while the latter was in Subic attending a conference. 21 When
petitioner Juanita could not open a locked drawer she called witness, telling the latter
that she was looking for the telephone number of respondents hotel room in Subic. A
process server was requested by petitioner Juanita to call for a locksmith in the town

proper. When the locksmith arrived, petitioner Juanita ordered him to open the locked
drawer. On another occasion, particularly in August of 1998, witness testified that she
heard petitioner Juanita remark to respondent Manuel "sino bang batang bibinyagan na
yan? Baka anak mo yan sa labas?"22
As his third witness, respondent Manuel presented DR. VALENTINA GARCIA whose
professional qualifications as a psychiatrist were admitted by petitioner Juanita. 23 From
her psychiatric evaluation,24 Dr. Garcia concluded:
To sum up, Manuel de Jesus Siayngco and Juanita Victoria Carating-Siayngco
contributed to the marital collapse. There is a partner relational problem which
affected their capacity to sustain the marital bond with love, support and
understanding.
The partner relational problem (coded V61/10 in the Fourth Edition of the
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders or DSM IV) is secondary to
the psychopathology of both spouses. Manuel and Juanita had engaged
themselves in a defective communication pattern which is characteristically
negative and deformed. This affected their competence to maintain the love and
respect that they should give to each other.
Marriage requires a sustained level of adaptation from both partners who are
expected to use healthy strategies to solve their disputes and differences.
Whereas Juanita would be derogatory, critical, argumentative, depressive and
obsessive-compulsive, Manuel makes use of avoidance and suppression. In his
effort to satisfy the self and to boost his masculine ego to cover up for his felt or
imagined inadequacies, he became callused to the detrimental effects of his
unfaithfulness and his failure to prioritize the marriage. Both spouses, who
display narcissistic psychological repertoire (along with their other maladaptive
traits), failed to adequately empathize (or to be responsive and sensitive) to each
others needs and feelings. The matrimonial plot is not conducive to a healthy
and a progressive marriage. Manuel and Juanita have shown their
psychologically [sic] incapacity to satisfactorily comply with the fundamental

duties of marriage. The clashing of their patterns of maladaptive traits, which


warrant the diagnosis of personality disorder not otherwise specified (PDNOS,
with code 301.9 as per DSM IV criteria) will bring about more emotional mishaps
and psychopathology. These rigid sets of traits which were in existence before
the marriage will tend to be pervasive and impervious to recovery.25
In her defense, petitioner Juanita denied respondent Manuels allegations. She insisted
that they were a normal couple who had their own share of fights; that they were happily
married until respondent Manuel started having extra-marital affairs 26 which he had
admitted to her.27 Petitioner Juanita professed that she would wish to preserve her
marriage and that she truly loved her husband.28 She stated further that she has
continuously supported respondent Manuel, waiting up for him while he was in law
school to serve him food and drinks. Even when he already filed the present case, she
would still attend to his needs.29 She remembered that after the pre-trial, while they were
in the hallway, respondent Manuel implored her to give him a chance to have a new
family.30
DR. EDUARDO MAABA, whose expertise as a psychiatrist was admitted by respondent
Manuel,31 testified that he conducted a psychiatric evaluation on petitioner Juanita, the
results of which were embodied in his report. Said report stated in part:
Based on the clinical interviews and the results of the psychological tests,
respondent Juanita Victoria Carating-Siayngco, was found to be a mature,
conservative, religious and highly intelligent woman who possess [sic] more than
enough psychological potentials for a mutually satisfying long term heterosexual
relationship. Superego is strong and she is respectful of traditional institutions of
society like the institution of marriage. She was also found to be a loving,
nurturing and self-sacrificing woman who is capable of enduring severe
environmental stress in her social milieu. Finally, she is reality-oriented and
therefore capable of rendering fair and sound decision.

In summary, the psychiatric evaluation found the respondent to be


psychologically capacitated to comply with the basic and essential obligations of
marriage.32
CRISPINA SEVILLA, a friend of the spouses Siayngco since 1992 described the
Siayngcos as the ideal couple, sweet to each other.33 The couple would religiously attend
prayer meetings in the community.34 Both were likewise leaders in their
community.35 Witness then stated that she would often go to the house of the couple and,
as late as March 2000, she still saw respondent Manuel there.36
On 31 January 2001, the trial court denied respondent Manuels petition for declaration
of nullity of his marriage to petitioner Juanita holding in part that:
The asserted psychological incapacity of the defendant is not preponderantly
supported in evidence. The couple [was] happily married and after four years of
marital bliss [was] blest with a son. Their life together continued years thereafter
in peace and prosperity.
The psychiatric finding that defendant has been critical, depressed and
obsessive doubtless arose later in the parties relationship sometime in the early
90s when the defendant-wife started receiving letters that the plaintiff is playing
footsy.
xxx

xxx

xxx

The present state of our laws on marriage does not favor knee-jerk responses to
slight stabs of the Pavlovian hammer on marital relations. A wife, as in the instant
case, may have succumbed, due to her jealousy, to the constant delivery of
irritating curtain lectures to her husband. But, as our laws now stand, the
dissolution of the marriage is not the remedy in such cases. In contrast to some
countries, our laws do not look at a marital partner as a mere refrigerator in the
Kitchen even if he or she sometimes may sound like a firetruck. 37

A motion for reconsideration was filed but was denied in an order dated 04 May 2001. 38
On 01 July 2003, the Court of Appeals reversed the RTC decision, relying mainly on the
psychiatric evaluation of Dr. Garcia finding both Manuel and Juanita psychologically
incapacitated and on the case of Chi Ming Tsoi v. Court of Appeals.39 Thus:
The report clearly explained the root cause of the alleged psychological
incapacity of plaintiff Manuel and defendant Juanita. It appears that there is
empathy between plaintiff and defendant. That is a shared feeling which
between husband and wife must be experienced not only by having spontaneous
sexual intimacy but a deep sense of spiritual communion. Marital union is a twoway process. An expressive interest in each others feelings at a time it is needed
by the other can go a long way in deepening the marital relationship. Marriage is
definitely not for children but for two consenting adults who view the relationship
with love "amore gignit amorem", sacrifice and a continuing commitment to
compromise conscious of its value as a sublime social institution (Chi Ming Tsoi
vs. Court of Appeals, 266 SCRA 324).
This court, finding the gravity of the failed relationship in which the parties found
themselves trapped in its mire of unfulfilled vows and unconsummated marital
obligations, can do no less, but reverse and set aside the decision of the lower
court. Plaintiff Manuel is entitled to have his marriage declared a nullity on the
ground of psychological incapacity, not only of defendant but also of himself. 40

III. WHEN IT DID NOT FOLLOW THE GUIDELINES LAID DOWN BY THE
SUPREME COURT IN THE CASE OF REPUBLIC V. MOLINA
IV. IN DECLARING THE MARRIAGE OF HEREIN PETITIONER AND
RESPONDENT NULL AND VOID ON GROUND OF PSYCHOLOGICAL
INCAPACITY UNDER ARTICLE 36 OF THE FAMILY CODE
The Courts Ruling
Our pronouncement in Republic v. Dagdag41 is apropos. There, we held that whether or
not psychological incapacity exists in a given case calling for the declaration of the nullity
of the marriage depends crucially on the facts of the case. Each case must be closely
scrutinized and judged according to its own facts as there can be no case that is on "all
fours" with another. This, the Court of Appeals did not heed.
The Court of Appeals perfunctorily applied our ruling in Chi Ming Tsoi despite a clear
divergence in its factual milieu with the case at bar. In Chi Ming Tsoi, the couple involved
therein, despite sharing the same bed from the time of their wedding night on 22 May
1988 until their separation on 15 March 1989, never had coitus. The perplexed wife filed
the petition for the declaration of the nullity of her marriage on the ground of
psychological incapacity of her husband. We sustained the wife for the reason that an
essential marital obligation under the Family Code is procreation such that "the
senseless and protracted refusal of one of the parties to fulfill the above marital
obligation is equivalent to psychological incapacity."

Petitioner contends that the Court of Appeals erred


I. IN ITS FINDINGS THAT PETITIONER JUANITA IS PSYCHOLOGICALLY
INCAPACITATED
II. IN ITS FINDINGS OF FACT THAT PETITIONER AND RESPONDENT
SEPARATED ON MARCH 1997, THE TRUTH IS THAT THEY ARE STILL LIVING
TOGETHER AS HUSBAND AND WIFE AT THE TIME OF THE FILING OF THE
PETITION UP TO THE PRESENT

On the other hand, sexual intimacy for procreation is a non-issue herein. Rather, we
have here a case of a husband who is constantly embarrassed by his wifes outbursts
and overbearing ways, who finds his wifes obsession with cleanliness and the tight reign
on his wallet "irritants" and who is wounded by her lack of support and respect for his
person and his position as a Judge. In our book, however, these inadequacies of
petitioner Juanita which led respondent Manuel to file a case against her do not amount
to psychological incapacity to comply with the essential marital obligations.

It was in Santos v. Court of Appeals42 where we declared that "psychological incapacity"


under Article 36 of the Family Code is not meant to comprehend all possible cases of
psychoses. It should refer, rather, 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. Psychological
incapacity must be characterized by (a) gravity, (b) juridical antecedence, and (c)
incurability.43 In Republic v. Court of Appeals44 we expounded:
(1) The burden of proof to show the nullity of 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 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 physically 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 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 noncomplied 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.45
With the foregoing pronouncements as compass, we now resolve the issue of whether or
not the totality of evidence presented is enough to sustain a finding of psychological
incapacity against petitioner Juanita and/or respondent Manuel.
A. RE: PSYCHOLOGICAL INCAPACITY OF RESPONDENT MANUEL
We reiterate that the state has a high stake in the preservation of marriage rooted in its
recognition of the sanctity of married life and its mission to protect and strengthen the
family as a basic autonomous social institution.46 With this cardinal state policy in mind,
we held in Republic v. Court of Appeals47 that the burden of proof to show the nullity of
marriage belongs to the plaintiff (respondent Manuel herein). Any doubt should be
resolved in favor of the existence and continuation of the marriage and against its
dissolution and nullity.
In herein case, the Court of Appeals committed reversible error in holding that
respondent Manuel is psychologically incapacitated. The psychological report of Dr.
Garcia, which is respondent Manuels own evidence, contains candid admissions of
petitioner Juanita, the person in the best position to gauge whether or not her husband
fulfilled the essential marital obligations of marriage:
She talked about her spouse, "My husband is kind, a good provider, cool,
intelligent but a liar, masamang magalit at gastador. In spite of what he has done
to me, I take care of him whenever he is sick. He is having extra marital affairs
because he wants to have a child. I believe that our biggest problem is not
having a child. It is his obsession to have a child with his girl now. He started his
relationship with this girl in 1994. I even saw them together in the car. I think that
it was the girl who encouraged him to file the petition." She feels that the
problems in the relationship is [sic] "paulit-ulit," but, that she still is willing to
pursue it.

x x x. Overall, she feels that he is a good spouse and that he is not really
psychologically incapacitated. He apparently told her, "You and Jeremy should
give me a chance to have a new family." She answered and said, "Ikaw tinuruan
mo akong to fight for my right. Ipaglalaban ko ang marriage natin." 48
What emerges from the psychological report of Dr. Garcia as well as from the
testimonies of the parties and their witnesses is that the only essential marital obligation
which respondent Manuel was not able to fulfill, if any, is the obligation of fidelity.49 Sexual
infidelity, per se, however, does not constitute psychological incapacity within the
contemplation of the Family Code.50 It must be shown that respondent Manuels
unfaithfulness is a manifestation of a disordered personality which makes him completely
unable to discharge the essential obligations of the marital state51 and not merely due to
his ardent wish to have a child of his own flesh and blood. In herein case, respondent
Manuel has admitted that: "I had [extra-marital] affairs because I wanted to have a child
at that particular point."52
B. RE: PSYCHOLOGICAL INCAPACITY OF PETITIONER JUANITA
As aforementioned, the presumption is always in favor of the validity of marriage.
Semper praesumitur pro matrimonio. In the case at bar, respondent Manuel failed to
prove that his wifes lack of respect for him, her jealousies and obsession with
cleanliness, her outbursts and her controlling nature (especially with respect to his
salary), and her inability to endear herself to his parents are grave psychological
maladies that paralyze her from complying with the essential obligations of marriage.
Neither is there any showing that these "defects" were already present at the inception of
the marriage or that they are incurable.53 In fact, Dr. Maaba, whose expertise as a
psychiatrist was admitted by respondent Manuel, reported that petitioner was
psychologically capacitated to comply with the basic and essential obligations of
marriage.54
The psychological report of respondent Manuels witness, Dr. Garcia, on the other hand,
does not help his case any. Nothing in there supports the doctors conclusion that
petitioner Juanita is psychologically incapacitated. On the contrary, the report clearly

shows that the root cause of petitioner Juanitas behavior is traceable not from the
inception of their marriage as required by law but from her experiences during the
marriage, e.g., her in-laws disapproval of her as they wanted their son to enter the
priesthood,55 her husbands philandering, admitted no less by him,56 and her inability to
conceive.57 Dr. Garcias report paints a story of a husband and wife who grew
professionally during the marriage, who pursued their individual dreams to the hilt,
becoming busier and busier, ultimately sacrificing intimacy and togetherness as a couple.
This was confirmed by respondent Manuel himself during his direct examination. 58

31 January 2001 of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 102 is reinstated
and given full force and effect. No costs.
SO ORDERED.
Puno, Austria-Martinez, Callejo, Sr., and Tinga, JJ., concur.
Footnotes

Thus, from the totality of the evidence adduced by both parties, we have been allowed a
window into the Siayngcoss life and have perceived therefrom a simple case of a
married couple drifting apart, becoming strangers to each other, with the husband
consequently falling out of love and wanting a way out.

Penned by Judge Jaime N. Salazar, Jr.

An unsatisfactory marriage, however, is not a null and void marriage. Mere showing of
"irreconcilable differences" and "conflicting personalities" in no wise constitutes
psychological incapacity.59 As we stated in Marcos v. Marcos:60

RTC Record, p. 36.

TSN, 07 October 1998, p. 10.

Id. at 13.

Id. at 13-14.

Id. at 16-17.

Id. at 19.

Id. at 20-22.

Article 36 of the Family Code, we stress, is not to be confused with a divorce law
that cuts the marital bond at the time the causes therefore manifests themselves.
It refers to a serious psychological illness afflicting a party even before the
celebration of the marriage. It is a malady so grave and so permanent as to
deprive one of awareness of the duties and responsibilities of the matrimonial
bond one is about to assume.
We are not downplaying the frustration and misery respondent Manuel might be
experiencing in being shackled, so to speak, to a marriage that is no longer
working. Regrettably, there are situations like this one, where neither law nor
society can provide the specific answers to every individual problem. 61
WHEREFORE, the petition for review is hereby GRANTED. The Decision dated 01 July
2003 of the Court of Appeals is hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The Decision dated

Per Justice Eugenio S. Labitoria (Chairman) and concurred in by Justices


Andres B. Reyes, Jr. and Regalado E. Maambong.

10

Id. at 23.

11

Id. at 28-29.

12

Id. at 34.

13

Id. at 30.

30

Id. at 22.

14

Id. at 27-28.

31

TSN, 21 June 2000, p. 5.

15

Id. at 33.

32

Records, p. 169.

16

Id. at 30.

33

TSN, 14 July 2000, p. 4.

17

Id. at 37.

34

Ibid.

18

Id. at 43-44.

35

Ibid.

19

TSN, 27 January 1999, p. 3.

36

Id. at 6.

20

TSN, 25 November 1998, p. 15.

37

RTC Records, pp. 205-206.

21

Id. at 9-13.

38

Id. at 209.

22

Id. at 14.

39

G.R. No. 119190, 16 January 1997, 266 SCRA 324.

23

TSN, 10 May 1999, p. 5.

40

Rollo, p. 43.

24

Exh. "M" for petitioner Manuel, respondent herein.

41

G.R. No. 109975, 09 February 2001, 351 SCRA 425.

25

Records, pp. 114-115.

42

G.R. No. 112019, 04 January 1995, 240 SCRA 20.

26

TSN, 29 March 2000, pp. 5-6.

43

Id.; Marcos v. Marcos, G.R. No. 136490, 19 October 2000, 343 SCRA 755.

27

Id. at 7.

44

G.R. No. 108763, 13 February 1997, 268 SCRA 198.

28

Id. at 11.

45

29

Id. at 12.

At pp. 209-212. The above pronouncements have been modified by the


provisions of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of

Void Marriages and Annulment of Voidable Marriages which took effect on 15


March 2003, particularly Section 2(d) thereof which provides:
(d) What to allege. A petition under Article 36 of the Family Code shall
specifically allege the complete facts showing that either or both parties
were psychologically incapacitated from complying with the essential
marital obligations of marriage at the time of the celebration of marriage
even if such incapacity becomes manifest only after its celebration.
The complete facts should allege the physical manifestations, if
any, as are indicative of psychological incapacity at the time of
the celebration of the marriage but expert opinion need not be
alleged.
Previously, the Committee on Revision of the Rules of Court
submitted the "Rules on Annulment of Voidable Marriages and
Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages, Legal
Separation and Provisional Orders and its Rationale" enunciated
among other things, that:
3. Attachment of expert opinion to petitions for declaration of absolute
nullity of marriage under Article 36 is dispensed with. Instead, the court
shall determine the advisability of expert testimony during the pre-trial
conference.
xxx

xxx

48

Dr. Garcias psychological report, Exh. "M" (RTC Record at 110).

49

See Art. 68, Family Code.

Santos v. Court of Appeals, supra, note 42; Hernandez v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 126010,
08 December 1999, 320 SCRA 76; Dedel v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 151867, 29 January
2004.
50

51

Ibid.

52

Supra, note 46 at 111.

53

Marcos v. Marcos, supra, note 43 at 764.

54

RTC Record at 169.

55

Supra, note 46 at 102-103.

56

Id. at 111.

57

Id. at 110.

58

Q: Did your wife agree to your going to law school?


A: I did not encounter any objection from her.
Q: And what was the marriage like during this time when you were attending law
school?

xxx

A: I started feeling that we somehow begun (sic) drifting apart because I was
developing a new field of interest in the legal profession. I was occupied with leading
various community organization (sic) including homeowners association. Maybe that
was when we started drifting apart. (TSN, 07 October 1998, at 22)

12. The certification of the Solicitor General required in the Molina case is
dispensed with to avoid delay.
46

Sec. 12, Art. II, Constitution.


59

47

Supra, note 43.

Republic v. Court of Appeals, supra, note 44 at 207.

60

Supra, note 43 at 765.

Dedel v. Court of Appeals, supra, note 50, citing Santos v. Court of Appeals, supra, note 42,
at 36.
61

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
THIRD DIVISION
G.R. No. 149498

May 20, 2004

REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioner,


vs.
LOLITA QUINTERO-HAMANO, respondent.
DECISION
CORONA, J.:
Before us is a petition for review of the decision1 dated August 20, 2001 of the Court of
Appeals2 affirming the decision3 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.

In declaring the nullity of the marriage on the ground of Toshios psychological incapacity,
the trial court held that:
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
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:

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
The appellate court emphasized that this case could not be equated with Republic vs.
Court of Appeals and Molina8 and Santos vs. Court of Appeals.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:

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
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

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
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 Thus, any doubt should be resolved in favor of the validity of the marriage. 12
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.

We now proceed to determine whether respondent successfully proved Toshios


psychological incapacity to fulfill his marital responsibilities.

(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 noncomplied marital obligation(s) must also be stated in the petition, proven by
evidence and included in the text of the decision.

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.

(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
vinculicontemplated under Canon 1095.13 (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 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 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

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 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 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
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.

Rollo, p. 29.

268 SCRA 198 [1997].

240 SCRA 20 [1995].

In Pesca vs. Pesca,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.

10

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.

Rollo, p. 14.

Article II, Section 12; and, Article XV, Sections 1 & 2 of the 1987 Philippine
Constitution.
11

Republic of the Philippines vs. Dagdag, 351 SCRA 425 [2001] citing Republic
of the Philippines vs. Hernandez, 320 SCRA 76 [1999].
12

SO ORDERED.
13

Supra, Note 8, pp. 209-212.

14

Supra, Note 9, p. 33.

15

Marcos vs. Marcos, 343 SCRA 755, 764 [2000].

16

Article 55 (10) of the Family Code of the Philippines provides that:

Vitug, Sandoval-Gutierrez, and Carpio-Morales, JJ., concur.


Footnotes
*

Acting Chief Justice

Penned by Associate Justice Jose L. Sabio, and concurred in by Associate


Justices Cancio C. Garcia and Hilarion Aquino; Rollo, pp. 24-31.
1

Art. 55. A petition for legal separation may be filed on any of the following
grounds:

Second Division.
xxx

xxx

xxx

Penned by Judge Rogelio Angeles; Rollo, pp. 32-33.


(10) Abandonment of petitioner by respondent without justifiable
cause for more than one year.

Rollo, p. 33.

Rollo, p. 52.

17

Supra Note 8, p. 210.

Rollo, p. 30.

18

Ibid., pp. 211-212.

19

356 SCRA 588, 594 [2001].

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.
DECISION
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 Decision1 and Resolution2 of the Court of
Appeals dated 29 November 2001 and 24 October 2002. The Court of Appeals had
reversed the judgment3 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 Gospel4 at the Manila City Hall, and through a subsequent church
wedding5 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 effect14 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,33together 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.37During 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 Appeals40 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 Appeals44 (also known as the Molina case45),
and indeed the Court of Appeals cited the Molina guidelines in reversing the RTC in the
case at bar.46 Since Molinawas 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

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

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 Molina66 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 ofejusdem
generis. Rather, the preference of the revision committee was for "the judge to interpret
the provision ona 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

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

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 illequipped 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.

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

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 ofejusdem 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 noncomplied 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. 0211-10-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

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
xx

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.

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.

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

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?

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?
xxx
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. Marcos85 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.

In its Decision dated 4 June 1995, the National Appellate Matrimonial Tribunal
pronounced:

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.

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.

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 Conclusion89 dated 30 March 1995, citing the
"lack of due discretion" on the part of respondent.90Such 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 clause93was appended to the sentence of nullity prohibiting respondent from
contracting another marriage without the Tribunals consent.

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.

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

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.
Footnotes

SO ORDERED.

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.
1

DANTE O. TINGA
Associate Justice

WE CONCUR:

Rollo, p. 86.

Penned by Judge (now Associate Justice of the Court of Appeals) Josefina


Guevara-Salonga.
3

LEONARDO A. QUISUMBING
Associate Justice
Chairman
ANTONIO T. CARPIO
Associate Justice

CONCHITA CARPIO MORALES


Asscociate Justice
ATTESTATION

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

Solemnized by Rev. Victor M. Navarro, Minister of the PCCC, Las Pias, Metro
Manila.
4

Solemnized by the Parish Priest, Rev. Fr. Rodolfo Aguirre Gallardo.

Rollo, pp. 69, 91.

Records, pp. 1-5.

Id. at 1-2.

Id. at 2-3. See also rollo, pp. 69, 91.

10

C E R TI F I C ATI O N

Named Tito F. Reyes II, born on 21 January 1982.

11

Supra note 8.

29

Id.

12

Rollo, pp. 69, 92.

30

Id. at 74, 94.

13

Id. at 70, 92.

31

Id. at 73, 94.

14

Id. at 95.

32

Id. at 77-78.

15

Supra note 13.

33

Miss Francianina Sanches.

16

Id. at 70, 92.

34

Rollo, p. 94.

17

TSN, 8 September 1993, p. 12.

35

Id. at 72, 93; TSN, 23 March 1995, pp. 15-17.

18

Id. at 12-13. See also records, p. 91.

36

Rollo, pp. 95-96.

19

Rollo, pp. 71, 92.

37

Id. at 97-98.

20

Id.; records, p. 3.

38

Id. at pp. 99-100.

21

Rollo, pp. 71, 92.

39

Id. at 101-103.

22

Id. at 71-72, 92-93.

40

335 Phil. 664 (1997).

23

Id.

41

Rollo, p. 95.

24

Id. at 93.

42

25

Id. at 74, 94.

26

27

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.

Id.
Id. at 73, 93.
The petitioning spouse and co-respondent in the case being Roridel O. Molina.
Id.
45

28

Id.

46

Rollo, p. 78.

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.
47

57

See Civil Code, Art. 80.

Subject to the same qualifications under Article 85 (3) of the Civil Code. See
note 56.
58

59

See Civil Code, Art. 1327 (2) in relation to Art. 1318 (1).

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.
60

I A. Tolentino, Civil Code of the Philippines: Commentaries and Jurisprudence


274-275 (1990 ed.).
61

48

334 Phil. 294 (1997).

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.
49

50

See Family Code, Art. 36.

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."
51

62

Id.

63

Id. at 274.

64

Supra note 60.

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.
65

52

See Spanish Civil Code. (1889) Art. 101.

66

53

Act No. 2710 (1917).

67

Id. at 677.

54

See Act No. 3613 (1929), Sec. 30 (c)

68

Marcos v. Marcos, 397 Phil. 840, 851 (2000).

55

See Executive Order No. 141 (1943), Sec. 2 (5).

69

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).
56

Supra note 40.

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.
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.
70

81

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.
82

83

TSN, 23 February 1994, pp. 7-9, 11-12.

84

TSN, 23 March 1995, p. 12.

85
71

G.R. No. 109975, 9 February 2001, 351 SCRA 425.

Id. at 431; citing Republic v. Court of Appeals, 268 SCRA 198, 214 (1997),
Padilla, J., Separate Statement.
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.

397 Phil. 840 (2000).

86

Id. at 850.

87

Rollo, pp. 95-96.

72

73

Records, pp. 2-3.

As shown by the Motion(s) for Early Resolution of the Case filed by petitioner
with the canonical declarations attached as annexes.
88

89

Id. at 97-98.

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.
90

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.
76

77

Republic v. Court of Appeals, supra note 40, at 676-680.

91

Rollo, pp. 99-100.

78

Id. at 680.

92

Id. at 101-103.

See Carating-Siayngco v. Siayngco, G.R. No. 158896, 27 October 2004, 441


SCRA 422, 435.
79

80

Rollo, p. 82.

"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.
93

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

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.

Id. at 39.

"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

"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 3941.

101

102

G.R. No. 136921, 17 April 2001, 356 SCRA 588.

103

Id. at 593.

SECOND DIVISION
REPUBLIC OF THE
PHILIPPINES,
Petitioner,

G.R. No. 168328


Present:
QUISUMBING, J., Chairperson,
CARPIO,
CARPIO MORALES,
TINGA, and
VELASCO, JR., JJ.

- versus -

LAILA TANYAG-SAN JOSE


and MANOLITO SAN JOSE,
Respondents.

Promulgated:
February 28, 2007

x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x

DECISION
CARPIO MORALES, J.:

Respondents Laila Tanyag-San Jose (Laila) and Manolito San Jose


(Manolito) were married on June 12, 1988. Laila was 19 years and 4
months old, while Manolito was 20 years and 10 months old.[1]
The couple begot two children: Joana Marie who was born on
January 3, 1989,[2] and Norman who was born on March 14, 1997.[3]
For nine years, the couple stayed with Manolitos parents. Manolito
was jobless and was hooked to gambling and drugs. As for Laila, she sold
fish at the wet market of Taguig.[4]
On August 20, 1998, Laila left Manolito and transferred to her
parents house.[5]
On March 9, 1999, Laila filed a Petition for Declaration of Nullity
of Marriage,[6] under Article 36[7] of the Family Code on the ground of
psychological incapacity, before the Regional Trial Court (RTC)
of Pasig where it was docketed as JDRC Case No. 4862.
Testifying for Laila, Dr. Nedy Tayag, a clinical psychologist at
the National Center for Mental Health, declared that from the
psychological test and clinical interview she conducted on Laila, she
found Manolito, whom she did not personally examine, to be
psychologically incapacitated to perform the duties of a husband.

Dr. Tayags May 28, 1999 Report on the Psychological Condition


of LAILA T. SAN JOSE[8] was submitted in evidence. The pertinent
portions of the Report read:

BACKGROUND DATA & BRIEF MARITAL HISTORY:


xxxx
. . . [Lailas] association with [Manolito] started with the
game of basketball. As a youngster, petitioner often spent her free
time seeking fun in the outdoors. She was then beginning to cast her
interests on basketball games and eventually became one of the
avid spectators when a minor league was staged at their place.
Respondent happened to be one of the cagers who, with his
hardcourt skills, greatly impressed petitioner. The latter then
became a fan of respondent. Eventually acquiring the upper hand,
respondent introduced himself personally to his admirers and their
initial encounter with petitioner proved to be a milestone for both of
their fates. Courtship followed and after a short period, they were
already steadies.
Savoring the momentum, petitioner and respondent decided
to formally seal their union. They entered marriage on June 12,
1989 under religious ceremonies held in Taguig. After the occasion,
the newlyweds then went on to lead a life of their own making.
However, contrary to what was expected, their marriage turned out
to be rocky right from the very start.

Claimed, respondent refused to get himself a job. Instead, he


spent most of his available time with his friends drinking
intoxicating substances and gambling activities. Petitioner was left
without much choice but to flex her muscles and venture on several
areas which could be a source of income. She tried to endure the
situation with the hope that respondent would change for the better
in no time. Their first child, Joana Marie, was born of January 3,
1989. Petitioner was apparently happy with the birth of their first
born, thinking that her presence would make a difference in the
family, particularly on the part of respondent.
Years had passed but no improvement was seen on
respondents behavior. He turned out to be worse instead and it was
only later that petitioner discovered that he was into drugs. Said, he
prefers to be with his friends rather than his own family. He seemed
oblivious to the efforts rendered by petitioner just to make ends
meet. She was the breadwinner of the family and whenever an
argument occurred between her and respondent, she often received
the brunt of her husbands irrationality. On one of such incidents,
she decided to separate from respondent. The latter however
pursued her and pleaded for another chance. He promised that he
would change his behavior if only petitioner would give him a son.
Seeing his sincerity and unwilling to give up the marriage,
petitioner agreed to the compromise.
They reconciled and she did gave birth to a son, Norman, on
March of 1997. Respondent was happy but his show of good nature
was superficial. Briefly after the birth of their second child,
respondent resumed his old ways and made them even worse.
Still, petitioner remained hopeful that something will turn
out right in their union. However, with respondents continuing
irresponsibility, she realized that all her efforts proved nonsense to

him. On August 20, 1998, respondent went out of their dwelling for
his usual late night stints but he never came back the following
morning. They never lived together since.
Respondent is MANOLITO SAN JOSE, 31 years old with
last known address at 14-D Ibayo, Tipas, Taguig, Metro Manila. He
is unemployed and stayed in school only to finish his secondary
education. He was described to be a happy-go-lucky individual
spending most of his time hanging out with friends. Considered to
be a bad influence, he was into gambling, drinking sprees and
prohibited drugs as well.
xxxx
REMARKS:
Through the evaluation of test data, correlated with clinical
interviews and description of their marital plight, it is the opinion of
the undersigned that the disintegration of the marriage between
petitioner and respondent was caused primarily by the latters
psychological incapacity to perform the essential roles and
obligations of a married man and a father.
His behavioral pattern characterized mainly by constant
irresponsibility, lack of concern for the welfare of others, selfcentered orientation, absence of remorse, violent tendencies and his
involvement in activities defying social and moral ethics; suits
under the classification of Anti-Social Personality Disorder.
Such disorder is considered to be grave and is deeply
[immersed] within the system. It continues to influence the
individual until the later stage of life.[9] (Emphasis and underscoring
supplied)

Branch 70 of the RTC of Pasig, by Decision of July 17, 2001,


citing Republic
of
the
Philippines
v.
Court
of
[10]
[11]
Appeals and Leouel Santos v. CA, et al. denied Lailaspetition in this
wise:
In the recent case of Republic of the Philippines vs. Court of
Appeals and Roridel Olaviano Molina (268 SCRA 198), the
Supreme Court, reiterated its ruling [in] the earlier case of [Leouel]
Santos vs. Court of Appeals (240 SCRA 20), to the effect that
psychological incapacity should refer to no less than a mental (not
physical incapacity x x x) and that 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
disorder clearly demonstrative of an utter insensitivity or inability
to give meaning and significance to the marriage and that such
incapacity must be characterized by (a) gravity, (b) juridical
antecedence, and (c) incurability.
Viewed in the light of the above guidelines, the present
petition must necessarily be denied.
Petitioners portrayal of respondent as jobless and
irresponsible is not enough. As the Supreme Court said in the
Molina case (supra), (I)t is not enough to prove that the parties
failed to meet their responsibilities and duties as married persons; it
is essential that they must be shown to be incapable of doing so,
due to some psychological (not physical) illness.
Petitioners case is not in any way enhanced by the
psychological evaluation and assessment done by psychologist

Nedy Tayag as per her Psychological Report (Exhs. C to C-1).


Although the body of the report mentions that the respondent is
affected with Anti-Social Personality Disorder, the same cannot
sway this Court from its above disposition. There is no showing
that
[Dr.]
Tayag was able to interview the respondent or any of his
relatives in order to arrive at the above conclusion. Obviously,
the data upon which the finding or conclusion was based is
inadequate.[12] (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)

Lailas motion for reconsideration of the trial courts decision was,


by Order of November 13, 2001,[13] denied. Laila thus appealed to the
Court of Appeals which docketed it as CA G.R. CV No. 73286, faulting
the trial court in holding that she failed to comply with the guidelines
enumerated in Molina.
By Decision dated February 15, 2005,[14] the appellate court,
finding Manolito psychologically incapacitated after considering the
totality of the evidence, reversed the decision of the trial court and
declared the marriage between him and Laila void ab initio. Thus the
appellate court held:
. . . We perused the records of the present case and
unearthed that the totality of the evidence presented in the present
case including the testimony of the petitioner, were enough to
sustain a finding that Manolito San Jose is psychologically
incapacitated within the contemplation of the Family Code. We
believe that his (respondents) defects were already present at the

inception of the marriage or that they are incurable. If being jobless


(since the commencement of the marriage up to the filing of the
present petition) and worse, a gambler, can hardly qualify as
being mentally or physically ill what then can We describe such
acts? Are these normal manners of a married man? We are not
at all swayed that a union affirmed in church rites and subsequently
having children, are proofs that either of the spouses is mature and
responsible enough to assume marital responsibilities.
Accordingly, We can safely conclude that said deficiency is
so grave and so permanent as to deprive one of awareness of the
duties and responsibilities of the matrimonial bond one is about to
assume. This Court, finding the gravity of the failed relationship in
which the parties found themselves trapped in its mire of unfulfilled
vows and unconsummated marital obligations, can do no less but to
declare the marriage between the herein petitioner and the
respondent herein dissolved. While the law provides that the
husband and the wife are obliged to live together, observe mutual
love, respect and fidelity ([A]rticle 68 of the Family Code),
however, what is there to preserve when the other spouse is an
unwilling party to the cohesion and creation of a family as an
inviolable social institution. In fine, Laila Tanyag-San Jose must
be allowed to rise from the ashes and begin a new lifefreed from a
marriage which, to Us, was hopeless from the beginning and where
the bonding could not have been possible.
xxxx
While We may not have strictly adhered to the ruling in the
Molina case in arriving at Our present conclusion We have reason
to deviate from the same. In view of the peculiar circumstances
attendant in this case, We were constrained to take exception from
the Molina case. Note that the (c) ommittee did not give any

example of psychological incapacity for the fear that the giving of


examples would limit the applicability of the provision under the
principle of ejusdem generis. Rather, the Committee would like the
judge to apply the provision on a case-to-case basis, guided by
experience, the findings of experts and researchers in psychological
disciplines, and by decision of Church tribunals which although not
binding on the civil courts, may be given persuasive effect since the
provision was taken from Canon Law. (page 37, Handbook of the
Family Code of the Philippines, Sempio-Diy, 1991 reprinted).
Hence, whether or not psychological incapacity exists is for Us to
establish, as there is no hard and fast rule in the determination of
what maybe considered indicia of psychological incapacity. To Our
mind there are sufficient grounds for Us to conclude that indeed
psychological incapacity exists so as to warrant declaration of the
marriage void ab initio.[15] (Italics and underscoring in the original;
emphasis supplied)

Petitioner, Republic of the Philippines, filed a Motion for


Reconsideration[16] of the appellate courts decision which was denied, by
Resolution dated June 2, 2005,[17]hence, its present Petition for Review,
[18]
positing that:
I
IT WAS NOT PROVEN THAT MANOLITOS ALLEGED
DEFECTS ARE CONSTITUTIVE OF PSYCHOLOGICAL
INCAPACITY AS CONTEMPLATED UNDER ARTICLE 36 OF
THE FAMILY CODE AND THAT THE SAME HAS JURIDICAL
ANTECEDENCE, IS GRAVE AND INCURABLE[, AND]
II

THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED


IN NOT ADHERING TO THE RULING OF THE MOLINA CASE
AND THE DOCTRINE OF STARE DECISIS.[19]

Petitioner contends that Laila failed to prove that Manolito is


psychologically incapacitated to perform his marital obligations as she
merely relied on the report of Dr. Tayag; and granted that the
psychological examination of Manolito is not a requirement for a
declaration of his psychological incapacity, the totality of the evidence
presented does not show Manolitos psychological incapacity.
Petitioner further contends that the appellate court erred in
believing that the defects of Manolito already existed at the inception of
the marriage or are incurable; and in any event, belief cannot substitute
for proof which the law and jurisprudence require.
Petitioner finally contends that a deviation from the Molina ruling
is not proper in the present case.
Laila, as petitioner, had the burden of proof to show the nullity of
the marriage.
Psychological incapacity, as a ground for nullity of marriage, has
been succinctly expounded in the recent case of Ma. Armida PerezFerraris v. Brix Ferraris (Ferraris),[20] thus:

The term psychological incapacity to be a ground for the


nullity of marriage under Article 36 of the Family Code, refers to
a serious psychological illness afflicting a party even before the
celebration of the marriage. It is a malady so grave and so
permanent as to deprive one of the awareness of the duties and
responsibilities of the matrimonial bond one is about to assume. As
all people may have certain quirks and idiosyncrasies, or isolated
characteristics associated with certain personality disorders, 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. It is
for this reason that the Court relies heavily on psychological experts
for its understanding of the human personality. However, the root
cause must be identified as a psychological illness and its
incapacitating nature must be fully explained[.] (Italics in the
original; emphasis supplied)

As the earlier-quoted Report of Dr. Tayag shows, her conclusion


about Manolitos psychological incapacity was based on the information
supplied by Laila which she found to be factual. That Laila supplied the
basis of her conclusion, Dr. Tayag confirmed at the witness stand:
Q [Atty. Revilla, Jr.]: What was your conclusion, what w[ere] your
findings with respect to the respondent?
A [Dr. Tayag]: Base[d] on the narration made by [Laila], which I
found the narration to be factual, regarding her marital
relationship with the petitioner (should have been
respondent), I came up with a conclusion that respondent

is psychologically incapacitated. The one which I found in


him is his anti-social personality disorder because of the
following overt manipulations: the presence of drug, the
absence of remourse [sic], the constant incapacity in terms
of maintaining the marital relationship, the lack of concern
to his family, his self-centeredness, lack of remourse, in
addition to the womanizing, respondent which clearly
connotes the defiant of moral and personality disorder, he
is tantamount to a person under the level, under our
diagnostic criteria labeled as anti-social personality
disorder, sir.
Q: So you would like to impress this Court that your findings with
respect to this case were only base[d] on the information
given to you by [Laila], is that correct?
A: Yes, wherein I found the narration made by [Laila] to be
factual, sir.[21] (Emphasis supplied)

Undoubtedly, the doctors conclusion is hearsay. It is unscientific


and unreliable, so this Court declared in Choa v. Choa[22] where the
assessment of the therein party sought to be declared psychologically
incapacitated was based merely on the information communicated to the
doctor by the therein respondent-spouse:
. . . [T]he assessment of petitioner by Dr. Gauzon was based
merely on descriptions communicated to him by respondent. The
doctor never conducted any psychological examination of her.
Neither did he ever claim to have done so. In fact, his Professional
Opinion began with the statement [I]f what Alfonso Choa said
about his wife Leni is true, . . .

xxxx
Obviously, Dr. Gauzon had no personal knowledge of the
facts he testified to, as these had merely been relayed to him by
respondent. The former was working on pure suppositions and
secondhand information fed to him by one side.
Consequently, his testimony can be dismissed as unscientific
and unreliable.[23] (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)

Parenthetically, Dr. Tayags Psychological Report does not even


show that the alleged anti-social personality disorder of Manolito was
already present at the inception of the marriage or that it is
incurable. Neither does it explain the incapacitating nature of the alleged
disorder nor identify its root cause. It merely states that [s]uch disorder is
considered to be grave and is deeply [immersed] within the system [and]
continues to influence the individual until the later stage of life.
There is of course no requirement that the person sought to be
declared psychologically incapacitated should be personally examined by
a physician or psychologist as a condition sine qua non to arrive at such
declaration.[24] If it can be proven by independent means that one is
psychologically incapacitated, there is no reason why the same should
not be credited.
In the present case, the only proof which bears on the claim that
Manolito is psychologically incapacitated is the following testimony of

Laila, in answer to the clarificatory questions propounded by the trial


court:
Q [Court]: Now, so aside from what you said that your
husband is a drug user and that he is jobless and was not able to
support your family, what other reasons do you have for saying that
your husband is psychologically incapacitated from performing his
marital obligations?
A [Laila]: He cannot give us a brighter future because he is
jobless, your honor.
Q: Apart from these two reasons which is for alleged use or
possession of drugs and his inability to get a job and support his
family you have no other basis to show for the declaration of nullity
of your marriage?
A: Yes, your honor.[25] (Underscoring supplied)

Manolitos alleged psychological incapacity is thus premised on his


being jobless and a drug user, as well as his inability to support his family
and his refusal or unwillingness to assume the essential obligations of
marriage. Manolitos state or condition or attitude has not been shown,
however, to be a malady or disorder rooted on some incapacitating or
debilitating psychological condition.
In Molina, where the therein respondent preferred to spend more
time with his friends than with his family, this Court found the same to be
more of a difficulty if not outright refusal or neglect in the performance
of some marital obligations.

In Ferraris,[26] this Court held:


We find respondents alleged mixed personality disorder, the
leaving-the- house attitude whenever they quarreled, the violent
tendencies during epileptic attacks, the sexual infidelity, the
abandonment and lack of support, and his preference to spend more
time with his band mates than his family, are not rooted on some
debilitating psychological condition but a mere refusal or unwillingness
to assume the essential obligations of marriage. (Underscoring
supplied)

Also in Ferraris, this Court held that habitual alcoholism, just like
sexual infidelity or perversion and abandonment, does not by itself
constitute ground for declaring a marriage void based on psychological
incapacity.[27] Neither is emotional immaturity and irresponsibility.[28] Or
failure or refusal to meet duties and responsibilities of a married man if it
is not shown to be due to some psychological (not physical) illness.[29]
While Molina then is not set in stone,[30] the facts and circumstances
attendant to this case do not warrant a deviation from it.

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The February 15,


2005 Decision and June 2, 2005 Resolution of the Court of Appeals in
CA- G.R. CV No. 73286 areREVERSED AND SET ASIDE. The July
17, 2001 Decision of the Regional Trial Court of Pasig City in JDRC
Case No. 4862 is REINSTATED.

Associate Justice
SO ORDERED.

CONCHITA CARPIO MORALES


Associate Justice

ATTESTATION

WE CONCUR:

I attest that the conclusions in the above Decision were reached in


consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of
the Courts Division.
LEONARDO A. QUISUMBING
Associate Justice
Chairperson

ANTONIO T. CARPIO
Associate Justice

DANTE O. TINGA
Associate Justice

PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR.

LEONARDO A. QUISUMBING
Associate Justice
Chairperson

CERTIFICATION
Pursuant to Article VIII, Section 13 of the Constitution, and the Division
Chairpersons Attestation, it is hereby certified that the conclusions in the

above Decision were reached in consultation before the case was


assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court.

REYNATO S. PUNO
Chief Justice

[1]

Marriage Contract, Exhibit A, records, p. 51. In her testimony, however, Laila stated that she was
only 18 years old while Manolito was 19 years old (TSN, January 14, 2000, p. 11).
[2]
Exhibit B, id. at 6.
[3]
Exhibit B-1, id. at 7.
[4]
TSN, January 14, 2000, pp. 4-10.
[5]
Id. at 6-7, 13.
[6]
Records, pp. 1-4.
[7]
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. (As amended by E.O. 227)
[8]
Records, pp. 52-57.
[9]
Ibid.
[10]
335 Phil. 664 (1997).
[11]
310 Phil. 21 (1995).
[12]
RTC records, pp. 62-63.
[13]
Id. at 109.
[14]
CA rollo, pp. 73-86. Penned by Justice Jose L. Sabio, Jr. with the concurrence of Justices Noel G.
Tijam and Mariflor P. Punzalan Castillo.
[15]
Id. at 82-85.
[16]
Id. at 87-93.
[17]
Id. at 108-109. Penned by Justice Jose L. Sabio, Jr. with the concurrence of Justices Noel G. Tijam
and Mariflor P. Punzalan Castillo.
[18]
Rollo, pp. 7-41.
[19]
Id. at 15-16.
[20]
G.R. No. 162368, July 17, 2006.
[21]
TSN, April 13, 2000, pp. 6-7.

[22]

441 Phil. 175 (2002).


Id. at 190-191.
[24]
Marcos v. Marcos, 397 Phil. 840 (2000); Vide Antonio v. Reyes, G.R. No. 155800, March 10, 2006,
484 SCRA 353; Republic v. Iyoy, G.R. No. 152577, September 21, 2005, 470 SCRA 508.
[25]
TSN, January 14, 2000, p. 17.
[26]
Supra note 20.
[27]
Vide Hernandez v. Court of Appeals, 377 Phil. 919, 931 (1999).
[28]
Dedel v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 151867, January 29, 2004, 421 SCRA 461; Pesca v. Pesca,
G.R. No. 136921, April 17, 2001, 356 SCRA 588.
[29]
Vide Republic of the Philippines v. Court of Appeals, supra note 10 at 674.
[30]
In Antonio v. Reyes, supra note 24 at 370, this Court said:
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 petitioners for declaration of
nullity under Article 36. At the same time, the Molinaguidelines 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
presentThere is need though to emphasize other perspectives as well which should govern the
disposition of petitions for declaration of nullity under Article 36. (Italics in the original)
[23]

THIRD DIVISION
EDWARD KENNETH NGO TE,
Petitioner,

G.R. No. 161793


Present:

- versus ROWENA ONG GUTIERREZ


YU-TE,
Respondent,
REPUBLIC OF
THEPHILIPPINES,
Oppositor.

YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.,
Chairperson,
AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ,
CHICO-NAZARIO,
NACHURA, and
PERALTA, JJ.
Promulgated:
February 13, 2009

x-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------x

DECISION
NACHURA, J.:

Far from novel is the issue involved in this petition. Psychological


incapacity, since its incorporation in our laws, has become a clichd
subject of discussion in our jurisprudence.The Court treats this case,
however, with much ado, it having realized that current jurisprudential
doctrine has unnecessarily imposed a perspective by which psychological
incapacity should be viewed, totally inconsistent with the way the
concept was formulatedfree in form and devoid of any definition.
For the resolution of the Court is a petition for review on certiorari under
Rule 45 of the Rules of Court assailing the August 5, 2003 Decision [1] of
the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CV No. 71867. The petition
further assails the January 19, 2004 Resolution [2] denying the motion for
the reconsideration of the challenged decision.
The relevant facts and proceedings follow.
Petitioner Edward Kenneth Ngo Te first got a glimpse of
respondent Rowena Ong Gutierrez Yu-Te in a gathering organized by the
Filipino-Chinese association in their college. Edward was then initially
attracted to Rowenas close friend; but, as the latter already had a
boyfriend, the young man decided to court Rowena. That was in January
1996, when petitioner was a sophomore student and respondent, a
freshman.[3]
Sharing similar angst towards their families, the two understood
one another and developed a certain degree of closeness towards each

other. In March 1996, or around three months after their first meeting,
Rowena asked Edward that they elope. At first, he refused, bickering that
he was young and jobless. Her persistence, however, made him relent.
Thus, they left Manila and sailed to Cebu that month; he, providing their
travel money and she, purchasing the boat ticket.[4]
However, Edwards P80,000.00 lasted for only a month. Their
pension house accommodation and daily sustenance fast depleted it. And
they could not find a job. In April 1996, they decided to go back
to Manila. Rowena proceeded to her uncles house and Edward to his
parents home. As his family was abroad, and Rowena kept on
telephoning him, threatening him that she would commit suicide, Edward
agreed to stay with Rowena at her uncles place.[5]
On April 23, 1996, Rowenas uncle brought the two to a court to get
married. He was then 25 years old, and she, 20.[6] The two then continued
to stay at her uncles place where Edward was treated like a prisonerhe
was not allowed to go out unaccompanied. Her uncle also showed
Edward his guns and warned the latter not to leave Rowena.[7] At one
point, Edward was able to call home and talk to his brother who
suggested that they should stay at their parents home and live with
them. Edward relayed this to Rowena who, however, suggested that he
should get his inheritance so that they could live on their own. Edward
talked to his father about this, but the patriarch got mad, told Edward that
he would be disinherited, and insisted that Edward must go home.[8]

After a month, Edward escaped from the house of Rowenas uncle,


and stayed with his parents. His family then hid him from Rowena and
her family whenever they telephoned to ask for him.[9]
In June 1996, Edward was able to talk to Rowena. Unmoved by his
persistence that they should live with his parents, she said that it was
better for them to live separate lives. They then parted ways.[10]
After almost four years, or on January 18, 2000, Edward filed a
petition before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Quezon City, Branch
106, for the annulment of his marriage to Rowena on the basis of the
latters psychological incapacity. This was docketed as Civil Case No. Q00-39720.[11]
As Rowena did not file an answer, the trial court, on July 11, 2000,
ordered the Office of the City Prosecutor (OCP) of Quezon City to
investigate whether there was collusion between the parties.[12] In the
meantime, on July 27, 2000, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG)
entered its appearance and deputized the OCP to appear on its behalf and
assist it in the scheduled hearings.[13]
On August 23, 2000, the OCP submitted an investigation report
stating that it could not determine if there was collusion between the
parties; thus, it recommended trial on the merits.[14]

The clinical psychologist who examined petitioner found both


parties psychologically incapacitated, and made the following findings
and conclusions:
BACKGROUND DATA & BRIEF MARITAL HISTORY:
EDWARD KENNETH NGO TE is a [29-year-old] Filipino male adult
born and baptized Born Again Christian at Manila. He finished two
years in college at AMA Computer College last 1994 and is currently
unemployed. He is married to and separated from ROWENA
GUTIERREZ YU-TE. He presented himself at my office for a
psychological evaluation in relation to his petition for Nullification of
Marriage against the latter by the grounds of psychological
incapacity. He is now residing at 181 P. Tuazon Street, Quezon City.
Petitioner got himself three siblings who are now in business and one
deceased sister. Both his parents are also in the business world by
whom he [considers] as generous, hospitable, and patient. This said
virtues are said to be handed to each of the family member. He
generally considers himself to be quiet and simple. He clearly
remembers himself to be afraid of meeting people. After 1994, he tried
his luck in being a Sales Executive of Mansfield International
Incorporated. And because of job incompetence, as well as being quiet
and loner, he did not stay long in the job until 1996. His interest lie[s]
on becoming a full servant of God by being a priest or a pastor. He [is]
said to isolate himself from his friends even during his childhood days
as he only loves to read the Bible and hear its message.
Respondent is said to come from a fine family despite having a lazy
father and a disobedient wife. She is said to have not finish[ed] her
collegiate degree and shared intimate sexual moments with her
boyfriend prior to that with petitioner.

In January of 1996, respondent showed her kindness to petitioner and


this became the foundation of their intimate relationship. After a
month of dating, petitioner mentioned to respondent that he is having
problems with his family. Respondent surprisingly retorted that she
also hates her family and that she actually wanted to get out of their
lives. From that [time on], respondent had insisted to petitioner that
they should elope and live together. Petitioner hesitated because he is
not prepared as they are both young and inexperienced, but she
insisted that they would somehow manage because petitioner is
rich. In the last week of March 1996, respondent seriously brought the
idea of eloping and she already bought tickets for the boat going
to Cebu. Petitioner reluctantly agreed to the idea and so they eloped
to Cebu. The parties are supposed to stay at the house of a friend of
respondent, but they were not able to locate her, so petitioner was
compelled to rent an apartment. The parties tried to look for a job but
could not find any so it was suggested by respondent that they should
go back and seek help from petitioners parents.When the parties
arrived at the house of petitioner, all of his whole family was all out of
the country so respondent decided to go back to her home for the
meantime while petitioner stayed behind at their home. After a few
days of separation, respondent called petitioner by phone and said she
wanted to talk to him. Petitioner responded immediately and when he
arrived at their house, respondent confronted petitioner as to why he
appeared to be cold, respondent acted irrationally and even threatened
to commit suicide. Petitioner got scared so he went home
again.Respondent would call by phone every now and then and
became angry as petitioner does not know what to do. Respondent
went to the extent of threatening to file a case against petitioner and
scandalize his family in the newspaper. Petitioner asked her how he
would be able to make amends and at this point in time[,] respondent
brought the idea of marriage. Petitioner[,] out of frustration in life[,]
agreed to her to pacify her. And so on April 23, 1996, respondents

uncle brought the parties to Valenzuela[,] and on that very same day[,]
petitioner was made to sign the Marriage Contract before the
Judge. Petitioner actually never applied for any Marriage License.
Respondent decided that they should stay first at their house until after
arrival of the parents of petitioner. But when the parents of petitioner
arrived, respondent refused to allow petitioner to go home. Petitioner
was threatened in so many ways with her uncle showing to him many
guns. Respondent even threatened that if he should persist in going
home, they will commission their military friends to harm his
family. Respondent even made petitioner sign a declaration that if he
should perish, the authorities should look for him at his parents[ ]and
relatives[ ]houses.Sometime in June of 1996, petitioner was able to
escape and he went home. He told his parents about his predicament
and they forgave him and supported him by giving him military
escort.Petitioner, however, did not inform them that he signed a
marriage contract with respondent. When they knew about it[,]
petitioner was referred for counseling. Petitioner[,] after the
counseling[,] tried to contact respondent. Petitioner offered her to live
instead to[sic] the home of petitioners parents while they are still
studying. Respondent refused the idea and claimed that she would only
live with him if they will have a separate home of their own and be
away from his parents. She also intimated to petitioner that he should
already get his share of whatever he would inherit from his parents so
they can start a new life. Respondent demanded these not knowing
[that] the petitioner already settled his differences with his own
family. When respondent refused to live with petitioner where he
chose for them to stay, petitioner decided to tell her to stop harassing
the home of his parents. He told her already that he was disinherited
and since he also does not have a job, he would not be able to support
her. After knowing that petitioner does not have any money anymore,
respondent stopped tormenting petitioner and informed petitioner that
they should live separate lives.

The said relationship between Edward and Rowena is said to be


undoubtedly in the wreck and weakly-founded. The break-up was
caused by both parties[] unreadiness to commitment and their young
age. He was still in the state of finding his fate and fighting boredom,
while she was still egocentrically involved with herself.
TESTS ADMINISTERED:
Revised Beta Examination
Bender Visual Motor Gestalt Test
Draw A Person Test
Rorschach Psychodiagnostic Test
Sachs Sentence Completion Test
MMPI
TEST RESULTS & EVALUATION:
Both petitioner and respondent are dubbed to be emotionally immature
and recklessly impulsive upon swearing to their marital vows as each
of them was motivated by different notions on marriage.
Edward Kenneth Ngo Te, the petitioner in this case[,] is said to be still
unsure and unready so as to commit himself to marriage. He is still
founded to be on the search of what he wants in life.He is absconded
as an introvert as he is not really sociable and displays a lack of
interest in social interactions and mingling with other individuals. He
is seen too akin to this kind of lifestyle that he finds it boring and
uninteresting to commit himself to a relationship especially to that of
respondent, as aggravated by her dangerously aggressive moves. As he
is more of the reserved and timid type of person, as he prefer to be
religiously attached and spend a solemn time alone.

ROWENA GUTIERREZ YU-TE, the respondent, is said to be


of the aggressive-rebellious type of woman. She is seen to be
somewhat exploitative in her [plight] for a life of wealth and
glamour. She is seen to take move on marriage as she thought that her
marriage with petitioner will bring her good fortune because he is part
of a rich family. In order to have her dreams realized, she used force
and threats knowing that [her] husband is somehow weakwilled. Upon the realization that there is really no chance for wealth,
she gladly finds her way out of the relationship.
REMARKS:
Before going to marriage, one should really get to know
himself and marry himself before submitting to marital vows.
Marriage should not be taken out of intuition as it is profoundly a
serious institution solemnized by religious and law. In the case
presented by petitioner and respondent[,] (sic) it is evidently clear that
both parties have impulsively taken marriage for granted as they are
still unaware of their own selves. He is extremely introvert to the point
of weakening their relationship by his weak behavioral disposition.
She, on the other hand[,] is extremely exploitative and aggressive so as
to be unlawful, insincere and undoubtedly uncaring in her strides
toward convenience. It is apparent that she is suffering the grave,
severe, and incurable presence of Narcissistic and Antisocial
Personality Disorder that started since childhood and only manifested
during marriage. Both parties display psychological incapacities that
made marriage a big mistake for them to take.[15]

The trial court, on July 30, 2001, rendered its Decision [16] declaring
the marriage of the parties null and void on the ground that both parties
were psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential marital

obligations.[17] The Republic, represented by the OSG, timely filed its


notice of appeal.[18]
On review, the appellate court, in the assailed August 5, 2003
Decision[19] in CA-G.R. CV No. 71867, reversed and set aside the trial
courts ruling.[20] It ruled that petitioner failed to prove the psychological
incapacity of respondent. The clinical psychologist did not personally
examine respondent, and relied only on the information provided
by petitioner. Further, the psychological incapacity was not shown to be
attended by gravity, juridical antecedence and incurability. In sum, the
evidence adduced fell short of the requirements stated in Republic v.
Court of Appeals and Molina[21] needed for the declaration of nullity of
the marriage under Article 36 of the Family Code. [22] The CA faulted the
lower court for rendering the decision without the required certification
of the OSG briefly stating therein the OSGs reasons for its agreement
with or opposition to, as the case may be, the petition. [23] The CA later
denied petitioners motion for reconsideration in the likewise assailed
January 19, 2004 Resolution.[24]
Dissatisfied, petitioner filed before this Court the instant petition
for review on certiorari. On June 15, 2005, the Court gave due course to
the petition and required the parties to submit their respective
memoranda.[25]
In his memorandum,[26] petitioner argues that the CA erred in
substituting its own judgment for that of the trial court. He posits that the

RTC declared the marriage void, not only because of respondents


psychological incapacity, but rather due to both parties psychological
incapacity. Petitioner also points out that there is no requirement for the
psychologist to personally examine respondent. Further, he avers that the
OSG is bound by the actions of the OCP because the latter represented it
during the trial; and it had been furnished copies of all the pleadings, the
trial court orders and notices.[27]
For its part, the OSG contends in its memorandum, [28] that the
annulment petition filed before the RTC contains no statement of the
essential marital obligations that the parties failed to comply with. The
root cause of the psychological incapacity was likewise not alleged in the
petition; neither was it medically or clinically identified. The purported
incapacity of both parties was not shown to be medically or clinically
permanent or incurable. And the clinical psychologist did not personally
examine the respondent.Thus, the OSG concludes that the requirements
in Molina[29] were not satisfied.[30]
The Court now resolves the singular issue of whether, based on
Article 36 of the Family Code, the marriage between the parties is null
and void.[31]
I.
We begin by examining the provision, tracing its origin and
charting the development of jurisprudence interpreting it.

Article 36 of the Family Code[32] provides:


Article 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.

As borne out by the deliberations of the Civil Code Revision


Committee that drafted the Family Code, Article 36 was based on
grounds available in the Canon Law. Thus, Justice Flerida Ruth P.
Romero elucidated in her separate opinion in Santos v. Court of Appeals:
[33]

However, as a member of both the Family Law Revision


Committee of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and the Civil Code
Revision Commission of the UP Law Center, I wish to add some
observations. The letter dated April 15, 1985 of then Judge Alicia V.
Sempio-Diy written in behalf of the Family Law and Civil Code
Revision Committee to then Assemblywoman Mercedes CojuangcoTeodoro traced the background of the inclusion of the present Article
36 in the Family Code.
During its early meetings, the Family Law
Committee had thought of including a chapter on
absolute divorce in the draft of a new Family Code
(Book I of the Civil Code) that it had been tasked by the
IBP and the UP Law Center to prepare. In fact, some
members of the Committee were in favor of a no-fault
divorce between the spouses after a number of years of
separation, legal or de facto. Justice J.B.L. Reyes was

then requested to prepare a proposal for an action for


dissolution of marriage and the effects thereof based on
two grounds: (a) five continuous years of separation
between the spouses, with or without a judicial decree
of legal separation, and (b) whenever a married person
would have obtained a decree of absolute divorce in
another country. Actually, such a proposal is one for
absolute divorce but called by another name. Later,
even the Civil Code Revision Committee took time to
discuss the proposal of Justice Reyes on this matter.
Subsequently, however, when the Civil Code
Revision Committee and Family Law Committee
started holding joint meetings on the preparation of the
draft of the New Family Code, they agreed and
formulated the definition of marriage as
a special contract of permanent
partnership between a man and a woman
entered into in accordance with law for
the establishment of conjugal and family
life. It is an inviolable social institution
whose nature, consequences, and
incidents are governed by law and not
subject to stipulation, except that
marriage settlements may fix the
property relations during the marriage
within the limits provided by law.
With the above definition, and considering the
Christian traditional concept of marriage of the Filipino
people as a permanent, inviolable, indissoluble social
institution upon which the family and society are

founded, and also realizing the strong opposition that


any provision on absolute divorce would encounter
from the Catholic Church and the Catholic sector of our
citizenry to whom the great majority of our people
belong, the two Committees in their joint meetings did
not pursue the idea of absolute divorce and, instead,
opted for an action for judicial declaration of invalidity
of marriage based on grounds available in the Canon
Law. It was thought that such an action would not only
be an acceptable alternative to divorce but would also
solve the nagging problem of church annulments of
marriages on grounds not recognized by the civil law of
the State. Justice Reyes was, thus, requested to again
prepare a draft of provisions on such action for
celebration of invalidity of marriage. Still later, to avoid
the overlapping of provisions on void marriages as
found in the present Civil Code and those proposed by
Justice Reyes on judicial declaration of invalidity of
marriage on grounds similar to the Canon Law, the two
Committees now working as a Joint Committee in the
preparation of a New Family Code decided to
consolidate the present provisions on void marriages
with the proposals of Justice Reyes. The result was the
inclusion of an additional kind of void marriage in the
enumeration of void marriages in the present Civil
Code, to wit:
(7) those marriages 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 or
incapacity is made manifest after the
celebration.
as well as the following implementing provisions:
Art. 32. The absolute nullity of a
marriage may be invoked or pleaded
only on the basis of a final judgment
declaring the marriage void, without
prejudice to the provision of Article 34.
Art. 33. The action or defense for
the declaration of the absolute nullity of
a marriage shall not prescribe.
xxxxxxxxx
It is believed that many hopelessly broken marriages in our country
today may already be dissolved or annulled on the grounds proposed
by the Joint Committee on declaration of nullity as well as annulment
of marriages, thus rendering an absolute divorce law unnecessary. In
fact, during a conference with Father Gerald Healy of the Ateneo
University, as well as another meeting with Archbishop Oscar Cruz of
the Archdiocese of Pampanga, the Joint Committee was informed that
since Vatican II, the Catholic Church has been declaring marriages null
and void on the ground of lack of due discretion for causes that, in
other jurisdictions, would be clear grounds for divorce, like teen-age or
premature marriages; marriage to a man who, because of some
personality disorder or disturbance, cannot support a family; the
foolish or ridiculous choice of a spouse by an otherwise perfectly
normal person; marriage to a woman who refuses to cohabit with her

husband or who refuses to have children. Bishop Cruz also informed


the Committee that they have found out in tribunal work that a lot of
machismo among husbands are manifestations of their sociopathic
personality anomaly, like inflicting physical violence upon their wives,
constitutional indolence or laziness, drug dependence or addiction, and
psychosexual anomaly.[34]

In her separate opinion in Molina,[35] she expounded:

defects in the mental faculties vitiating consent, which is not the


idea . . . but lack of appreciation of one's marital obligation. There
being a defect in consent, it is clear that it should be a ground for
voidable marriage because there is the appearance of consent and it is
capable of convalidation for the simple reason that there are lucid
intervals and there are cases when the insanity is curable . . .
Psychological incapacity does not refer to mental faculties and has
nothing to do with consent; it refers to obligations attendant to
marriage.

At the Committee meeting of July 26, 1986, the draft provision

My own position as a member of the Committee then was that


psychological incapacity is, in a sense, insanity of a lesser degree.

(7) Those marriages 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.

As to the proposal of Justice Caguioa to use the term


psychological or mental impotence, Archbishop Oscar Cruz opined in
the earlier February 9, 1984 session that this term is an invention of
some churchmen who are moralists but not canonists, that is why it is
considered a weak phrase. He said that the Code of Canon Law would
rather express it as psychological or mental incapacity to discharge . . .
Justice Ricardo C. Puno opined that sometimes a person may be
psychologically impotent with one but not with another.

read:

The twists and turns which the ensuing discussion took finally
produced the following revised provision even before the session was
over:
(7) That contracted by any party who, at the time of the
celebration, was psychologically incapacitated to discharge the
essential marital obligations, even if such lack or incapacity becomes
manifest after the celebration.
Noticeably, the immediately preceding formulation above has
dropped any reference to wanting in the sufficient use of reason or
judgment to understand the essential nature of marriage and to
mentally incapacitated. It was explained that these phrases refer to

One of the guidelines enumerated in the majority opinion for


the interpretation and application of Art. 36 is: 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.
The Committee, through Prof. Araceli T. Barrera, considered
the inclusion of the phrase and is incurable but Prof. Esteban B.
Bautista commented that this would give rise to the question of how
they will determine curability and Justice Caguioa agreed that it would

be more problematic. Yet, the possibility that one may be cured after
the psychological incapacity becomes manifest after the marriage was
not ruled out by Justice Puno and Justice Alice Sempio-Diy. Justice
Caguioa suggested that the remedy was to allow the afflicted spouse to
remarry.
For clarity, the Committee classified the bases for determining
void marriages, viz.:
1. lack of one or more of the essential requisites of marriage as
contract;
2. reasons of public policy;
3. special cases and special situations.
The ground of psychological incapacity was subsumed under special
cases and special situations, hence, its special treatment in Art. 36 in
the Family Code as finally enacted.
Nowhere in the Civil Code provisions on Marriage is there a
ground for avoiding or annulling marriages that even comes close to
being psychological in nature.
Where consent is vitiated due to circumstances existing at the
time of the marriage, such marriage which stands valid until annulled
is capable of ratification or convalidation.
On the other hand, for reasons of public policy or lack of
essential requisites, some marriages are void from the beginning.
With the revision of Book I of the Civil Code, particularly the
provisions on Marriage, the drafters, now open to fresh winds of
change in keeping with the more permissive mores and practices of the
time, took a leaf from the relatively liberal provisions of Canon Law.

Canon 1095 which states, inter alia, that the following persons
are incapable of contracting marriage: 3. (those) who, because of
causes of a psychological nature, are unable to assume the essential
obligations of marriage provided the model for what is now Art. 36 of
the Family Code: 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.
It bears stressing that unlike in Civil Law, Canon Law
recognizes only two types of marriages with respect to their validity:
valid and void. Civil Law, however, recognizes an intermediate state,
the voidable or annullable marriages. When the Ecclesiastical Tribunal
annuls a marriage, it actually declares the marriage null and void, i.e.,
it never really existed in the first place, for a valid sacramental
marriage can never be dissolved. Hence, a properly performed and
consummated marriage between two living Roman Catholics can only
be nullified by the formal annulment process which entails a full
tribunal procedure with a Court selection and a formal hearing.
Such so-called church annulments are not recognized by Civil
Law as severing the marriage ties as to capacitate the parties to enter
lawfully into another marriage. The grounds for nullifying civil
marriage, not being congruent with those laid down by Canon Law, the
former being more strict, quite a number of married couples have
found themselves in limbofreed from the marriage bonds in the eyes of
the Catholic Church but yet unable to contract a valid civil marriage
under state laws. Heedless of civil law sanctions, some persons
contract new marriages or enter into live-in relationships.
It was precisely to provide a satisfactory solution to such
anomalous situations that the Civil Law Revision Committee decided

to engraft the Canon Law concept of psychological incapacity into the


Family Codeand classified the same as a ground for declaring
marriages void ab initio or totally inexistent from the beginning.

ceremony as proof of an inability to give valid consent at the time of


the ceremony.[36]

A brief historical note on the Old Canon Law (1917). This Old
Code, while it did not provide directly for psychological incapacity, in
effect, recognized the same indirectly from a combination of three old
canons: Canon #1081 required persons to be capable according to law
in order to give valid consent; Canon #1082 required that persons be at
least not ignorant of the major elements required in marriage; and
Canon #1087 (the force and fear category) required that internal and
external freedom be present in order for consent to be valid. This line
of interpretation produced two distinct but related grounds for
annulment called lack of due discretion and lack of due competence.
Lack of due discretion means that the person did not have the ability
to give valid consent at the time of the wedding and, therefore, the
union is invalid. Lack of due competence means that the person
was incapable of carrying out the obligations of the promise he or she
made during the wedding ceremony.

Interestingly, the Committee did not give any examples of


psychological incapacity for fear that by so doing, it might limit the
applicability of the provision under the principle of ejusdem generis. The
Committee desired that the courts should interpret the provision on a
case-to-case basis; guided by experience, 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 itself was taken from the Canon
Law.[37] The law is then so designed as to allow some resiliency in its
application.[38]

Favorable annulment decisions by the Roman Rota in the


1950s and 1960s involving sexual disorders such as homosexuality
and nymphomania laid the foundation for a broader approach to the
kind of proof necessary for psychological grounds for annulment.
The Rota had reasoned for the first time in several cases that the
capacity to give valid consent at the time of marriage was probably not
present in persons who had displayed such problems shortly after the
marriage. The nature of this change was nothing short of revolutionary.
Once the Rota itself had demonstrated a cautious willingness to use
this kind of hindsight, the way was paved for what came after
1970. Diocesan Tribunals began to accept proof of serious
psychological problems that manifested themselves shortly after the

Yet, as held in Santos,[39] the phrase psychological incapacity is not


meant to comprehend all possible cases of psychoses. It refers to no less
than a mental (not physical) incapacity that causes a party to be truly
noncognitive of the basic marital covenants that concomitantly must be
assumed and discharged by the parties to the marriage which, as
expressed by Article 68[40] of the Family Code, include their mutual
obligations to live together, observe love, respect and fidelity; and render
help and support. The intendment of the law has been to confine it to the
most serious of cases of personality disorders clearly demonstrative of an
utter insensitivity or inability to give meaning and significance to the

marriage.[41] This interpretation is, in fact, consistent with that in Canon


Law, thus:

assume the essential obligations of marriage, especially the incapacity


which arises from sexual anomalies.Nymphomania is a sample which
ecclesiastical jurisprudence has studied under this rubric.

3.5.3.1. The Meaning of Incapacity to Assume. A sharp conceptual


distinction must be made between the second and third paragraphs of
C.1095, namely between the grave lack of discretionary judgment and
the incapacity to assume the essential obligation. Mario Pompedda, a
rotal judge, explains the difference by an ordinary, if somewhat banal,
example. Jose wishes to sell a house to Carmela, and on the
assumption that they are capable according to positive law to enter
such contract, there remains the object of the contract, viz, the
house. The house is located in a different locality, and prior to the
conclusion of the contract, the house was gutted down by fire
unbeknown to both of them. This is the hypothesis contemplated by
the third paragraph of the canon. The third paragraph does not deal
with the psychological process of giving consent because it has been
established a priori that both have such a capacity to give consent, and
they both know well the object of their consent [the house and its
particulars]. Rather, C.1095.3 deals with the object of the
consent/contract which does not exist. The contract is invalid because
it lacks its formal object. The consent as a psychological act is both
valid and sufficient. The psychological act, however, is directed
towards an object which is not available. Urbano Navarrete
summarizes this distinction: the third paragraph deals not with the
positing of consent but with positing the object of consent. The person
may be capable of positing a free act of consent, but he is not capable
of fulfilling the responsibilities he assumes as a result of the consent he
elicits.

The problem as treated can be summarized, thus: do sexual anomalies


always and in every case imply a grave psychopathological condition
which affects the higher faculties of intellect, discernment, and
freedom; or are there sexual anomalies that are purely so that is to say,
they arise from certain physiological dysfunction of the hormonal
system, and they affect the sexual condition, leaving intact the higher
faculties however, so that these persons are still capable of free human
acts. The evidence from the empirical sciences is abundant that there
are certain anomalies of a sexual nature which may impel a person
towards sexual activities which are not normal, either with respect to
its frequency [nymphomania, satyriasis] or to the nature of the activity
itself [sadism, masochism, homosexuality]. However, these anomalies
notwithstanding, it is altogether possible that the higher faculties
remain intact such that a person so afflicted continues to have an
adequate understanding of what marriage is and of the gravity of its
responsibilities. In fact, he can choose marriage freely. The question
though is whether such a person can assume those responsibilities
which he cannot fulfill, although he may be able to understand
them. In this latter hypothesis, the incapacity to assume the essential
obligations of marriage issues from the incapacity to posit the object of
consent, rather than the incapacity to posit consent itself.

Since the address of Pius XII to the auditors of the Roman Rota in
1941 regarding psychic incapacity with respect to marriage arising
from pathological conditions, there has been an increasing trend to
understand as ground of nullity different from others, the incapacity to

Ecclesiastical jurisprudence has been hesitant, if not actually confused,


in this regard. The initial steps taken by church courts were not too
clear whether this incapacity is incapacity to posit consent or
incapacity to posit the object of consent. A case c. Pinna, for example,
arrives at the conclusion that the intellect, under such an irresistible
impulse, is prevented from properly deliberating and its judgment
lacks freedom. This line of reasoning supposes that the intellect, at the

moment of consent, is under the influence of this irresistible


compulsion, with the inevitable conclusion that such a decision, made
as it was under these circumstances, lacks the necessary freedom. It
would be incontrovertible that a decision made under duress, such as
this irresistible impulse, would not be a free act. But this is precisely
the question: is it, as a matter of fact, true that the intellect is always
and continuously under such an irresistible compulsion? It would seem
entirely possible, and certainly more reasonable, to think that there are
certain cases in which one who is sexually hyperaesthetic can
understand perfectly and evaluate quite maturely what marriage is and
what it implies; his consent would be juridically ineffective for this
one reason that he cannot posit the object of consent, the exclusive jus
in corpus to be exercised in a normal way and with usually
regularity. It would seem more correct to say that the consent may
indeed be free, but is juridically ineffective because the party is
consenting to an object that he cannot deliver. The house he is selling
was gutted down by fire.

understanding and evaluating intact. What it affects is the object of


consent: the delivering of the goods.

3.5.3.2. Incapacity as an Autonomous Ground. Sabattani seems to


have seen his way more clearly through this tangled mess, proposing
as he did a clear conceptual distinction between the inability to give
consent on the one hand, and the inability to fulfill the object of
consent, on the other. It is his opinion that nymphomaniacs usually
understand the meaning of marriage, and they are usually able to
evaluate its implications. They would have no difficulty with positing
a free and intelligent consent. However, such persons, capable as they
are of eliciting an intelligent and free consent, experience difficulty in
another sphere: delivering the object of the consent. Anne, another
rotal judge, had likewise treated the difference between the act of
consenting and the act of positing the object of consent from the point
of view of a person afflicted with nymphomania. According to him,
such an affliction usually leaves the process of knowing and

Prior to the promulgation of the Code of Canon Law in 1983, it was


not unusual to refer to this ground as moral impotence or psychic
impotence, or similar expressions to express a specific incapacity
rooted in some anomalies and disorders in the personality. These
anomalies leave intact the faculties of the will and the intellect. It is
qualified as moral or psychic, obviously to distinguish it from the
impotence that constitutes the impediment dealt with by
C.1084. Nonetheless, the anomalies render the subject incapable of
binding himself in a valid matrimonial pact, to the extent that the
anomaly renders that person incapable of fulfilling the essential
obligations. According to the principle affirmed by the long tradition
of moral theology: nemo ad impossibile tenetur.

3.5.3.3 Incapacity as Incapacity to Posit the Object of


Consent. From the selected rotal jurisprudence cited, supra, it is
possible to see a certain progress towards a consensus doctrine that the
incapacity to assume the essential obligations of marriage (that is to
say, the formal object of consent) can coexist in the same person with
the ability to make a free decision, an intelligent judgment, and a
mature evaluation and weighing of things. The decision coram
Sabattani concerning a nymphomaniac affirmed that such a spouse can
have difficulty not only with regard to the moment of consent but also,
and especially, with regard to the matrimonium in facto esse. The
decision concludes that a person in such a condition is incapable of
assuming the conjugal obligation of fidelity, although she may have no
difficulty in understanding what the obligations of marriage are, nor in
the weighing and evaluating of those same obligations.

xxxx

3.5.3.5 Indications of Incapacity. There is incapacity when either or


both of the contractants are not capable of initiating or maintaining this
consortium. One immediately thinks of those cases where one of the
parties is so self-centered [e.g., a narcissistic personality] that he does
not even know how to begin a union with the other, let alone how to
maintain and sustain such a relationship. A second incapacity could be
due to the fact that the spouses are incapable of beginning or
maintaining a heterosexual consortium, which goes to the very
substance of matrimony.Another incapacity could arise when a spouse
is unable to concretize the good of himself or of the other party. The
canon speaks, not of the bonum partium, but of the bonum
conjugum. A spouse who is capable only of realizing or contributing to
the good of the other party qua persona rather than qua conjunx would
be deemed incapable of contracting marriage. Such would be the case
of a person who may be quite capable of procuring the economic good
and the financial security of the other, but not capable of realizing
the bonum conjugale of the other. These are general strokes and this is
not the place for detained and individual description.

assume the obligations of marriage in the first place. When one speaks
of the inability of the party to assume and fulfill the obligations, one is
not looking at matrimonium in fieri, but also and especially
at matrimonium in facto esse. In [the] decision of 19 Dec. 1985,
Stankiewicz collocated the incapacity of the respondent to assume the
essential obligations of marriage in the psychic constitution of the
person, precisely on the basis of his irresponsibility as regards money
and his apathy as regards the rights of others that he had
violated. Interpersonal relationships are invariably disturbed in the
presence of this personality disorder. A lack of empathy (inability to
recognize and experience how others feel) is common. A sense of
entitlement, unreasonable expectation, especially favorable treatment,
is usually present. Likewise common is interpersonal exploitativeness,
in which others are taken advantage of in order to achieve ones ends.

A rotal decision c. Pinto resolved a petition where the concrete


circumstances of the case concerns a person diagnosed to be suffering
from serious sociopathy. He concluded that while the respondent may
have understood, on the level of the intellect, the essential obligations
of marriage, he was not capable of assuming them because of his
constitutional immorality.

Authors have made listings of obligations considered as essential


matrimonial obligations. One of them is the right to the communio
vitae. This and their corresponding obligations are basically centered
around the good of the spouses and of the children. Serious psychic
anomalies, which do not have to be necessarily incurable, may give
rise to the incapacity to assume any, or several, or even all of these
rights. There are some cases in which interpersonal relationship is
impossible. Some characteristic features of inability for interpersonal
relationships in marriage include affective immaturity, narcissism, and
antisocial traits.

Stankiewicz clarifies that the maturity and capacity of the person as


regards the fulfillment of responsibilities is determined not only at the
moment of decision but also and especially during the moment of
execution of decision. And when this is applied to constitution of the
marital consent, it means that the actual fulfillment of the essential
obligations of marriage is a pertinent consideration that must be
factored into the question of whether a person was in a position to

Marriage and Homosexuality. Until 1967, it was not very clear under
what rubric homosexuality was understood to be invalidating of
marriage that is to say, is homosexuality invalidating because of the
inability to evaluate the responsibilities of marriage, or because of the
inability to fulfill its obligations. Progressively, however, rotal
jurisprudence began to understand it as incapacity to assume the
obligations of marriage so that by 1978, Parisella was able to consider,

with charity, homosexuality as an autonomous ground of nullity. This


is to say that a person so afflicted is said to be unable to assume the
essential obligations of marriage. In this same rotal decision, the object
of matrimonial consent is understood to refer not only to the jus in
corpus but also the consortium totius vitae. The third paragraph of
C.1095 [incapacity to assume the essential obligations of marriage]
certainly seems to be the more adequate juridical structure to account
for the complex phenomenon that homosexuality is. The homosexual
is not necessarily impotent because, except in very few exceptional
cases, such a person is usually capable of full sexual relations with the
spouse. Neither is it a mental infirmity, and a person so afflicted does
not necessarily suffer from a grave lack of due discretion because this
sexual anomaly does not by itself affect the critical, volitive, and
intellectual faculties. Rather, the homosexual person is unable to
assume the responsibilities of marriage because he is unable to fulfill
this object of the matrimonial contract. In other words, the invalidity
lies, not so much in the defect of consent, as in the defect of the object
of consent.
3.5.3.6 Causes of Incapacity. A last point that needs to be addressed
is the source of incapacity specified by the canon: causes of a
psychological nature. Pompedda proffers the opinion that the clause is
a reference to the personality of the contractant. In other words, there
must be a reference to the psychic part of the person. It is only when
there is something in the psyche or in the psychic constitution of the
person which impedes his capacity that one can then affirm that the
person is incapable according to the hypothesis contemplated by
C.1095.3. A person is judged incapable in this juridical sense only to
the extent that he is found to have something rooted in his psychic
constitution which impedes the assumption of these obligations. A bad
habit deeply engrained in ones consciousness would not seem to
qualify to be a source of this invalidating incapacity. The difference
being that there seems to be some freedom, however remote, in the

development of the habit, while one accepts as given ones psychic


constitution. It would seem then that the law insists that the source of
the incapacity must be one which is not the fruit of some degree of
freedom.[42]

Conscious of the laws intention that it is the courts, on a case-tocase basis, that should determine whether a party to a marriage is
psychologically incapacitated, the Court, in sustaining the lower courts
judgment of annulment in Tuason v. Court of Appeals,[43] ruled that the
findings of the trial court are final and binding on the appellate courts.[44]
Again, upholding the trial courts findings and declaring that its
decision was not a judgment on the pleadings, the Court, in Tsoi v. Court
of Appeals,[45] explained that when private respondent testified under oath
before the lower court and was cross-examined by the adverse party, she
thereby presented evidence in the form of testimony.Importantly, the
Court, aware of parallel decisions of Catholic marriage tribunals, ruled
that the senseless and protracted refusal of one of the parties to fulfill the
marital obligation of procreating children is equivalent to psychological
incapacity.
The resiliency with which the concept should be applied and the
case-to-case basis by which the provision should be interpreted, as so
intended by its framers, had, somehow, been rendered ineffectual by the
imposition of a set of strict standards in Molina,[46] thus:

From their submissions and the Court's own deliberations, the


following guidelines in the interpretation and application of Art. 36 of
the Family Code are hereby handed down 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. 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 do's. 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 characterological 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. Ideally subject to our law on evidencewhat is decreed as
canonically invalid should also be decreed civilly void.
This is one instance where, in view of the evident source and
purpose of the Family Code provision, contemporaneous religious
interpretation is to be given persuasive effect. Here, the State and the
Churchwhile remaining independent, separate and apart from each
othershall walk together in synodal cadence towards the same goal of
protecting and cherishing marriage and the family as the inviolable
base of the nation.

(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.[47]

Noteworthy is that in Molina, while the majority of the Courts


membership concurred in the ponencia of then Associate Justice
(later Chief Justice) Artemio V. Panganiban, three justices concurred in
the result and another threeincluding, as aforesaid, Justice Romerotook
pains to compose their individual separate opinions. Then Justice
Teodoro R. Padilla even emphasized that each case must be judged, not
on the basis of a priori assumptions, predelictions or generalizations, but
according to its own facts. In the field of 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.[48]
Predictably, however, in resolving subsequent cases,[49] the Court
has applied the aforesaid standards, without too much regard for the laws
clear intention that each case is to be treated differently, as courts

should interpret the provision on a case-to-case basis; guided by


experience, the findings of experts and researchers in psychological
disciplines, and by decisions of church tribunals.

fabrication of evidence.[52] The Court should rather be alarmed by the


rising number of cases involving marital abuse, child abuse, domestic
violence and incestuous rape.

In hindsight, it may have been inappropriate for the Court to


impose a rigid set of rules, as the one in Molina, in resolving all cases of
psychological incapacity.Understandably, the Court was then alarmed by
the deluge of petitions for the dissolution of marital bonds, and was
sensitive to the OSGs exaggeration of Article 36 as the most liberal
divorce procedure in the world.[50] The unintended consequences
of Molina, however, has taken its toll on people who have to live with
deviant behavior, moral insanity and sociopathic personality anomaly,
which, like termites, consume little by little the very foundation of their
families, our basic social institutions. Far from what was intended by the
Court, Molina has become a strait-jacket, forcing all sizes to fit into and
be bound by it. Wittingly or unwittingly, the Court, in conveniently
applying Molina, has allowed diagnosed sociopaths, schizophrenics,
nymphomaniacs, narcissists and the like, to continuously debase and
pervert the sanctity of marriage. Ironically, the Roman Rota has annulled
marriages on account of the personality disorders of the said individuals.

In dissolving marital bonds on account of either partys


psychological incapacity, the Court is not demolishing the foundation of
families, but it is actually protecting the sanctity of marriage, because it
refuses to allow a person afflicted with a psychological disorder, who
cannot comply with or assume the essential marital obligations, from
remaining in that sacred bond. It may be stressed that the infliction of
physical violence, constitutional indolence or laziness, drug dependence
or addiction, and psychosexual anomaly are manifestations of a
sociopathic personality anomaly.[53] Let it be noted that in Article 36,
there is no marriage to speak of in the first place, as the same is void
from the very beginning.[54] To indulge in imagery, the declaration of
nullity under Article 36 will simply provide a decent burial to a stillborn
marriage.

[51]

The Court need not worry about the possible abuse of the remedy
provided by Article 36, for there are ample safeguards against this
contingency, among which is the intervention by the State, through the
public prosecutor, to guard against collusion between the parties and/or

The prospect of a possible remarriage by the freed spouses should


not pose too much of a concern for the Court. First and foremost, because
it is none of its business. And second, because the judicial declaration of
psychological incapacity operates as a warning or a lesson learned. On
one hand, the normal spouse would have become vigilant, and never
again marry a person with a personality disorder. On the other hand, a
would-be spouse of the psychologically incapacitated runs the risk of the
latters disorder recurring in their marriage.

Lest it be misunderstood, we are not suggesting the abandonment


of Molina in this case. We simply declare that, as aptly stated by Justice
Dante O. Tinga in Antonio v. Reyes,[55] there is need to emphasize other
perspectives as well which should govern the disposition of petitions for
declaration of nullity under Article 36. At the risk of being redundant, we
reiterate once more the principle that each case must be judged, not on
the basis of a priori assumptions, predilections or generalizations but
according to its own facts. And, to repeat for emphasis, courts should
interpret the provision on a case-to-case basis; guided by experience, the
findings of experts and researchers in psychological disciplines, and by
decisions of church tribunals.
II.
We now examine the instant case.
The parties whirlwind relationship lasted more or less six (6)
months. They met in January 1996, eloped in March, exchanged marital
vows in May, and parted ways in June. The psychologist who provided
expert testimony found both parties psychologically incapacitated.
Petitioners behavioral pattern falls under the classification of dependent
personality disorder, and respondents, that of the narcissistic and
antisocial personality disorder.[56]

By the very nature of Article 36, courts, despite having the primary
task and burden of decision-making, must not discount but, instead,
must consider as decisive evidence the expert opinion on the
psychological and mental temperaments of the parties.[57]
Justice Romero explained this in Molina, as follows:
Furthermore, and equally significant, the professional opinion
of a psychological expert became increasingly important in such
cases. Data about the person's entire life, both before and after the
ceremony, were presented to these experts and they were asked to give
professional opinions about a party's mental capacity at the time of
the wedding. These opinions were rarely challenged and tended to be
accepted as decisive evidence of lack of valid consent.
The Church took pains to point out that its new openness in this
area did not amount to the addition of new grounds for annulment, but
rather was an accommodation by the Church to the advances made in
psychology during the past decades. There was now the expertise to
provide the all-important connecting link between a marriage
breakdown and premarital causes.
During the 1970s, the Church broadened its whole idea of
marriage from that of a legal contract to that of a covenant. The result
of this was that it could no longer be assumed in annulment cases that
a person who could intellectually understand the concept of marriage
could necessarily give valid consent to marry. The ability to both
grasp and assume the real obligations of a mature, lifelong
commitment are now considered a necessary prerequisite to valid
matrimonial consent.

Rotal decisions continued applying the concept of incipient


psychological incapacity, not only to sexual anomalies but to all kinds
of personality disorders that incapacitate a spouse or both spouses
from assuming or carrying out the essential obligations of marriage.
For marriage . . . is not merely cohabitation or the right of the spouses
to each other's body for heterosexual acts, but is, in its totality the
right to the community of the whole of life; i.e., the right to a
developing lifelong relationship. Rotal decisions since 1973 have
refined the meaning of psychological or psychic capacity for
marriage as presupposing the development of an adult personality;
as meaning the capacity of the spouses to give themselves to each
other and to accept the other as a distinct person; that the spouses
must be other oriented since the obligations of marriage are rooted in
a self-giving love; and that the spouses must have the capacity for
interpersonal relationship because marriage is more than just a
physical reality but involves a true intertwining of personalities. The
fulfillment of the obligations of marriage depends, according to
Church decisions, on the strength of this interpersonal relationship. A
serious incapacity for interpersonal sharing and support is held to
impair the relationship and consequently, the ability to fulfill the
essential marital obligations. The marital capacity of one spouse is not
considered in isolation but in reference to the fundamental
relationship to the other spouse.
Fr. Green, in an article in Catholic Mind, lists six elements
necessary to the mature marital relationship:
The courts consider the following elements
crucial to the marital commitment: (1) a permanent and
faithful commitment to the marriage partner; (2)
openness to children and partner; (3) stability; (4)
emotional maturity; (5) financial responsibility; (6) an
ability to cope with the ordinary stresses and strains of
marriage, etc.

Fr. Green goes on to speak about some of the psychological conditions


that might lead to the failure of a marriage:
At stake is a type of constitutional impairment
precluding conjugal communion even with the best
intentions of the parties. Among the psychic factors
possibly giving rise to his or her inability to fulfill
marital obligations are the following: (1) antisocial
personality with its fundamental lack of loyalty to
persons or sense of moral values; (2) hyperesthesia,
where the individual has no real freedom of sexual
choice; (3) the inadequate personality where personal
responses consistently fall short of reasonable
expectations.
xxxx
The psychological grounds are the best
approach for anyone who doubts whether he or she has
a case for an annulment on any other terms. A situation
that does not fit into any of the more traditional
categories often fits very easily into the psychological
category.
As new as the psychological grounds are,
experts are already detecting a shift in their use.
Whereas originally the emphasis was on the parties'
inability to exercise proper judgment at the time of the
marriage (lack of due discretion), recent cases seem to
be concentrating on the parties' incapacity to assume or
carry out their responsibilities and obligations as
promised (lack of due competence). An advantage to

using the ground of lack of due competence is that at


the time the marriage was entered into civil divorce and
breakup of the family almost always is proof of
someone's failure to carry out marital responsibilities
as promised at the time the marriage was entered into.
[58]

Hernandez v. Court of Appeals[59] emphasizes the importance of


presenting expert testimony to establish the precise cause of a partys
psychological incapacity, and to show that it existed at the inception of
the marriage. And as Marcos v. Marcos[60] asserts, there is no requirement
that the person to be declared psychologically incapacitated be personally
examined by a physician, if the totality of evidence presented is enough
to sustain a finding of psychological incapacity.[61] Verily, the evidence
must show a link, medical or the like, between the acts that manifest
psychological incapacity and the psychological disorder itself.
This is not to mention, but we mention nevertheless for emphasis,
that the presentation of expert proof presupposes a thorough and in-depth
assessment of the parties by the psychologist or expert, for a conclusive
diagnosis of a grave, severe and incurable presence of psychological
incapacity.[62] Parenthetically, the Court, at this point, finds it fitting to
suggest the inclusion in the Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of
Void Marriages and Annulment of Voidable Marriages,[63] an option for
the trial judge to refer the case to a court-appointed psychologist/expert
for an independent assessment and evaluation of the psychological state

of the parties. This will assist the courts, who are no experts in the field
of psychology, to arrive at an intelligent and judicious determination of
the case. The rule, however, does not dispense with the parties
prerogative to present their own expert witnesses.
Going back, in the case at bench, the psychological assessment,
which we consider as adequate, produced the findings that both parties
are afflicted with personality disordersto repeat, dependent personality
disorder for petitioner, and narcissistic and antisocial personality disorder
for respondent. We note that The Encyclopedia of Mental
Health discusses personality disorders as follows
A group of disorders involving behaviors or traits that are
characteristic of a persons recent and long-term functioning. Patterns
of perceiving and thinking are not usually limited to isolated episodes
but are deeply ingrained, inflexible, maladaptive and severe enough to
cause the individual mental stress or anxieties or to interfere with
interpersonal relationships and normal functioning. Personality
disorders are often recognizable by adolescence or earlier, continue
through adulthood and become less obvious in middle or old age. An
individual may have more than one personality disorder at a time.
The common factor among individuals who have personality
disorders, despite a variety of character traits, is the way in which the
disorder leads to pervasive problems in social and occupational
adjustment. Some individuals with personality disorders are perceived
by others as overdramatic, paranoid, obnoxious or even criminal,
without an awareness of their behaviors.Such qualities may lead to
trouble getting along with other people, as well as difficulties in other
areas of life and often a tendency to blame others for their

problems. Other individuals with personality disorders are not


unpleasant or difficult to work with but tend to be lonely, isolated or
dependent. Such traits can lead to interpersonal difficulties, reduced
self-esteem and dissatisfaction with life.
Causes of Personality Disorders Different mental health
viewpoints propose a variety of causes of personality disorders. These
include Freudian, genetic factors, neurobiologic theories and brain
wave activity.
Freudian Sigmund Freud believed that fixation at certain
stages of development led to certain personality types. Thus, some
disorders as described in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of
Mental Disorders (3d ed., rev.) are derived from his oral, anal and
phallic character types. Demanding and dependent behavior
(dependent and passive-aggressive) was thought to derive from
fixation at the oral stage. Characteristics of obsessionality, rigidity and
emotional aloofness were thought to derive from fixation at the anal
stage; fixation at the phallic stage was thought to lead to shallowness
and an inability to engage in intimate relationships. However, later
researchers have found little evidence that early childhood events or
fixation at certain stages of development lead to specific personality
patterns.
Genetic Factors Researchers have found that there may be a
genetic factor involved in the etiology of antisocial and borderline
personality disorders; there is less evidence of inheritance of other
personality disorders. Some family, adoption and twin studies suggest
that schizotypal personality may be related to genetic factors.
Neurobiologic Theories In individuals who have borderline
personality, researchers have found that low cerebrospinal fluid 5hydroxyindoleacetic acid (5-HIAA) negatively correlated with
measures of aggression and a past history of suicide
attempts. Schizotypal personality has been associated with low platelet
monoamine oxidase (MAO) activity and impaired smooth pursuit eye
movement.

Brain Wave Activity Abnormalities in electroencephalograph (EEG)


have been reported in antisocial personality for many years; slow wave
is the most widely reported abnormality. A study of borderline patients
reported that 38 percent had at least marginal EEG abnormalities,
compared with 19 percent in a control group.
Types of Disorders According to the American Psychiatric
Associations Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental
Disorders (3d ed., rev., 1987), or DSM-III-R, personality disorders are
categorized into three major clusters:
Cluster A: Paranoid, schizoid and schizotypal personality disorders.
Individuals who have these disorders often appear to have odd or
eccentric habits and traits.
Cluster B: Antisocial, borderline, histrionic and narcissistic personality
disorders. Individuals who have these disorders often appear overly
emotional, erratic and dramatic.
Cluster C: Avoidant, dependent, obsessive-compulsive and passiveaggressive personality disorders. Individuals who have these disorders
often appear anxious or fearful.
The DSM-III-R also lists another category, personality disorder not
otherwise specified, that can be used for other specific personality
disorders or for mixed conditions that do not qualify as any of the
specific personality disorders.
Individuals with diagnosable personality disorders usually have
long-term concerns, and thus therapy may be long-term.[64]

Dependent personality disorder is characterized in the following manner


A personality disorder characterized by a pattern of dependent and
submissive behavior. Such individuals usually lack self-esteem and
frequently belittle their capabilities; they fear criticism and are easily
hurt by others comments. At times they actually bring about
dominance by others through a quest for overprotection.
Dependent personality disorder usually begins in early
adulthood. Individuals who have this disorder may be unable to make
everyday decisions without advice or reassurance from others, may
allow others to make most of their important decisions (such as where
to live), tend to agree with people even when they believe they are
wrong, have difficulty starting projects or doing things on their own,
volunteer to do things that are demeaning in order to get approval from
other people, feel uncomfortable or helpless when alone and are often
preoccupied with fears of being abandoned.[65]

and antisocial personality disorder described, as follows


Characteristics include a consistent pattern of behavior that is
intolerant of the conventional behavioral limitations imposed by a
society, an inability to sustain a job over a period of years, disregard
for the rights of others (either through exploitiveness or criminal
behavior), frequent physical fights and, quite commonly, child or
spouse abuse without remorse and a tendency to blame others. There is
often a faade of charm and even sophistication that masks disregard,
lack of remorse for mistreatment of others and the need to control
others.

Although characteristics of this disorder describe criminals, they also


may befit some individuals who are prominent in business or politics
whose habits of self-centeredness and disregard for the rights of others
may be hidden prior to a public scandal.
During the 19th century, this type of personality disorder was referred
to as moral insanity. The term described immoral, guiltless behavior
that was not accompanied by impairments in reasoning.
According to the classification system used in the Diagnostic and
Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (3d ed., rev. 1987), anti-social
personality disorder is one of the four dramatic personality disorders,
the others being borderline, histrionic and narcissistic.[66]

The seriousness of the diagnosis and the gravity of the disorders


considered, the Court, in this case, finds as decisive the psychological
evaluation made by the expert witness; and, thus, rules that the marriage
of the parties is null and void on ground of both parties psychological
incapacity. We further consider that the trial court, which had a first-hand
view of the witnesses deportment, arrived at the same conclusion.
Indeed, petitioner, who is afflicted with dependent personality disorder,
cannot assume the essential marital obligations of living together,
observing love, respect and fidelity and rendering help and support, for
he is unable to make everyday decisions without advice from others,
allows others to make most of his important decisions (such as where to
live), tends to agree with people even when he believes they are wrong,
has difficulty doing things on his own, volunteers to do things that are

demeaning in order to get approval from other people, feels


uncomfortable or helpless when alone and is often preoccupied with fears
of being abandoned.[67] As clearly shown in this case, petitioner followed
everything dictated to him by the persons around him. He is insecure,
weak and gullible, has no sense of his identity as a person, has no
cohesive self to speak of, and has no goals and clear direction in life.
Although on a different plane, the same may also be said of the
respondent. Her being afflicted with antisocial personality disorder makes
her unable to assume the essential marital obligations. This finding takes
into account her disregard for the rights of others, her abuse,
mistreatment and control of others without remorse, her tendency to
blame others, and her intolerance of the conventional behavioral
limitations imposed by society.[68] Moreover, as shown in this case,
respondent is impulsive and domineering; she had no qualms in
manipulating petitioner with her threats of blackmail and of committing
suicide.

71867 are REVERSED and SET ASIDE, and the Decision, dated July
30, 2001, REINSTATED.
SO ORDERED.
ANTONIO EDUARDO B. NACHURA
Associate Justice

WE CONCUR:

CONSUELO YNARES-SANTIAGO
Associate Justice
Chairperson

Both parties being afflicted with grave, severe and incurable


psychological incapacity, the precipitous marriage which they contracted
on April 23, 1996 is thus, declared null and void.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition for review
on certiorari is GRANTED. The August 5, 2003 Decision and the
January 19, 2004 Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No.

MA. ALICIA AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ


Associate Justice

MINITA V. CHICO-NAZARIO
Associate Justice

DIOSDADO M. PERALTA
Associate Justice
AT T E S TAT I O N
I attest that the conclusions in the above Decision were reached in
consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of
the Courts Division.

CONSUELO YNARES-SANTIAGO
Associate Justice
Chairperson, Third Division
C E R T I F I C AT I O N
Pursuant to Article VIII, Section 13 of the Constitution, and the Division
Chairperson's Attestation, it is hereby certified that the conclusions in the
above Decision were reached in consultation before the case was
assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court.

REYNATO S. PUNO
Chief Justice

[1]

Penned by Associate Justice Remedios Salazar-Fernando, with Associate Justices Delilah VidallonMagtolis and Edgardo F. Sundiam, concurring; rollo, pp. 23-36.
[2]
Id. at 38-39.
[3]
TSN, September 12, 2000, p. 2.
[4]
Id.
[5]

Id. at 2-3.
Records, p. 8.
[7]
TSN, September 12, 2000, pp. 3-4.
[8]
Id.
[9]
Id.
[10]
Id. at 4.
[11]
Records, p. 1.
[12]
Id. at 24.
[13]
Id. at 36-37.
[14]
Id. at 39.
[15]
Id. at 48-55.
[16]
Id. at 61-66.
[17]
The dispositive portion of the RTCs July 30, 2001 Decision reads:
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered declaring the marriage between plaintiff EDWARD
KENNETH NGO TE and defendant ROWENA ONG GUTIERREZ UY-TE, officiated by Honorable
Judge Evelyn Corpus-Cabochan, of the Metropolitan Trial Court, Branch 82, Valenzuela, Metro
Manila, on April 23, 1996, NULL AND VOID, ab initio, on the ground of the couples psychological
incapacity under Article 36 of the Family Code; and dissolving their property regime in accordance
with law, if there is any.
Let copy of this Decision be furnished the City Civil Registry of Valenzuela City where the marriage
took place and City Civil Registry of Quezon City where this decision originated for proper recording.
SO ORDERED. (Id. at 66.)
[18]
Records, pp. 67-68.
[19]
Supra note 1.
[20]
The dispositive portion of the CAs August 5, 2003 Decision reads:
WHEREFORE, foregoing premises considered, the assailed decision dated July 30, 2001 of the
Regional Trial Court, National Capital Judicial Region, Branch 106, Quezon City in Civil Case No. Q00-39720, is hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE and a new one is entered declaring the marriage
between petitioner-appellee Edward Kenneth Ngo Te and respondent Rowena Ong Gutierrez Yu-Te
VALID and SUBSISTING. The petition is ordered DISMISSED.
SO ORDERED. (Rollo, p. 35.)
[6]

[21]

335 Phil. 664 (1997).


Executive Order No. 209, entitled The Family Code of the Philippines, enacted on July 6, 1987.
[23]
Rollo, pp. 28-35.
[24]
Supra note 2.
[25]
Rollo, p. 79.
[26]
Id. at 95-104.
[27]
Id. at 100-102.
[28]
Id. at 82-93.
[29]
Supra note 21.
[30]
Rollo, pp. 86-92.
[31]
Supra note 22.
[32]
Id.
[33]
G.R. No. 112019, January 4, 1995, 240 SCRA 20.
[34]
Id. at 38-41. (Italics supplied.)
[35]
Supra note 21.
[36]
Republic v. Court of Appeals and Molina, supra note 21, at 681-685.
[37]
Salita v. Magtolis, G.R. No. 106429, June 13, 1994, 233 SCRA 100, 107-108, quoting Sempio-Dy,
Handbook on the Family Code of the Philippines, 1998, p. 37.
[38]
Santos v. Court of Appeals, supra note 33, at 31.
[39]
Id.
[40]
Article 68 of the Family Code provides in full:
Art. 68. The husband and wife are obliged to live together, observe mutual love, respect and fidelity,
and render mutual help and support.
[41]
Santos v. Court of Appeals, supra note 33, at 34.
[22]

[42]

Dacanay, Canon Law on Marriage: Introductory Notes and Comments, 2000 ed., pp. 110-119.
326 Phil. 169 (1996).
[44]
Id. at 182.
[45]
334 Phil. 294, 300-304 (1997).
[43]

[46]

Supra note 21.


Republic v. Court of Appeals and Molina, supra note 21, at 676-680.
[48]
Id. at 680.
[49]
See Republic of the Philippines v. Lynnette Cabantug-Baguio, G.R. No. 171042, June 30,
2008; Nilda V. Navales v. Reynaldo Navales, G.R. No. 167523, June 27, 2008; Lester Benjamin S.
Halili v. Chona M. Santos-Halili, et al., G.R. No. 165424, April 16, 2008; Bier v. Bier, G.R. No.
173294, February 27, 2008, 547 SCRA 123; Paras v. Paras, G.R. No. 147824, August 2, 2007, 529
SCRA 81; Navarro, Jr. v. Cecilio-Navarro, G.R. No. 162049, April 13, 2007, 521 SCRA 121;Republic
v. Tanyag-San Jose, G.R. No. 168328, February 28, 2007, 517 SCRA 123; Zamora v. Court of Appeals,
G.R. No. 141917, February 7, 2007, 515 SCRA 19; Perez-Ferraris v. Ferraris, G.R. No. 162368, July
[47]

17, 2006, 495 SCRA 396;Republic v. Cuison-Melgar, G.R. No. 139676, March 31, 2006, 486 SCRA
177; Antonio v. Reyes, G.R. No. 155800, March 10, 2006, 484 SCRA 353; Villalon v. Villalon, G.R.
No. 167206, November 18, 2005, 475 SCRA 572; Republic v. Iyoy, G.R. No. 152577, September 21,
2005, 470 SCRA 508; Carating-Siayngco, G.R. No. 158896, October 27, 2004, 441 SCRA
422; Republic v. Quintero-Hamano, G.R. No. 149498, May 20, 2004, 428 SCRA 735; Ancheta v.
Ancheta, 468 Phil. 900 (2004); Barcelona v. Court of Appeals, 458 Phil. 626 (2003); Choa v. Choa, 441
Phil. 175 (2002); Pesca v. Pesca, 408 Phil. 713 (2001); Republic v. Dagdag, G.R. No. 109975,
February 9, 2001, 351 SCRA 425; Marcos v. Marcos, 397 Phil. 840 (2000); Hernandez v. Court of
Appeals, G.R. No. 126010, December 8, 1999, 320 SCRA 76.
[50]
See Republic v. Court of Appeals and Molina, supra note 21, at 668.
[51]
Ng, Apruebo & Lepiten, Legal and Clinical Bases of Psychological Incapacity, 2006 ed., pp. 14-16,
cites the following:
Canon 1095, 3 concerning psychological incapacity pointed out cases of various
psychological disorders from the Roman Rota as enumerated below (Fr. Bacareza, 1999).
6.1. From the 1917 Code of the Second Vatican Council
1. Coram Teodori in Italy on January 19, 1940 on Nymphomania.
2. Coram Heard on June 5, 1941 on Nymphomania.
3. Coram Heard in Quebec on January 30, 1954 on Lethargic Encephalitis.
4. Coram Mattioli in Quebec, Canada on November 6, 1956 on General
Paralysis.
5. Coram Sabbatani in Naples, Italy on June 21, 1957 on Nymphomania.
6. Coram Mattioli in Rome on November 28, 1957 on Schizophrenia.
7. Coram Lefebvre on December 19, 1959 on Nymphomania.
8. Coram De Jorio on December 19, 1961 on Schizophrenia.
6.2 From the Second Vatican Council to the Promulgation of the 1983 Code
9. Coram Monsigneur Charles Lefebre on the following:
a. Homosexuality,
b. Hypersexuality-Nymphomania,
c. Hypersexuality-Satyriasis, and
d. Affective Immaturity and Passive Dependent Personality.
10. Coram Monsigneur Lucien Anne on February 25, 1969 on Lesbianism.
11. Coram De Jorio on April 30, 1969 on Maturity of Judgment.
12. Coram Jose Maria Pinto Gomez on the following:
a. Serious Paranoid Schizophrenia (November 26, 1969),
b. Anti-Social Personality Disorder (March 18, 1971),
c. Vaginismus or Psychic impotence; Frigidity (July 15, 1977)
d. Neurasthenic Psychopath (April 20, 1979)
e. Sexual Disorder (December 3, 1982)
13. Coram Bruno on the following:
a. Hypersexuality-Nymphomania (December 15, 1972)

b. Sexual Neurosis (March 27, 1981)


c. Psychoneurosis (December 17, 1982)
14. Coram Jose Maria Serrano Ruiz on the following:
a. Hypersexuality-Satyriasis (April 5, 1973)
b. Lack of Interpersonal Integration (April 15, 1973)
c. Immature Personality (July 9, 1976)
d. Psychic Immaturity (November 18, 1977)
e. Depressive Neurosis (July 12, 1978)
f. Obsessive-Compulsive Personality (May 23, 1980)
g. Frigidity (July 28, 1981)
h. Affective Immaturity (January 15, 1977)
15. Coram Ewers on the following:
a. Affective Immaturity (January 15, 1977)
b. Sexual Neurosis (April 4, 1981)
16. Coram Pariscella on the following:
a. Obsessive-Compulsive Neurosis (February 23, 1978)
b. Homosexuality (June 11, 1978)
17. Coram Fiore (May 27, 1981)
18. Coram Agustoni (March 23, 1982)
6.3. After the Promulgation of the 1983 Code of Canon Law
19. Rotal Case No. 41:c. Colagiovanni on March 3, 1983 on Homosexuality
20. Rotal Case No. 42 c. Huot on July 18, 1983 on Alcoholism and Immature
Personality.
21. Rotal Case No. 43: c. Giannechini on July 19, 1983 on Homosexuality.
22. Rotal Case No. 45: c. Colagiovanni on November 22, 1983 about an ex-priest
who was a liar, cheat and swindler (Anti-Social Personality)
23. Rotal Case No. 46: c. Stankiewiez on November 24, 1983 on Homosexuality.
24. Rotal Case No. 47: c. Egan on March 29, 1984 on Hysterical Personality.
25. Rotal Case No. 48: c. Di Felice on June 9, 1984 on Psychic Immaturity.
26. Rotal Case No. 49: c. Pinto on May 30, 1986 on Alcoholism and Gambling.
27. Rotal Case No. 50: c. Giannecchini on December 20, 1988 on HypersexualityNymphomania.
[52]
Justice Padillas Dissenting Opinion, Santos v. Court of Appeals, supra note 33, at 36-37; Ancheta v.
Ancheta, supra note 49, at 917.
[53]
Supra note 34.
[54]
See Article 36 of the Family Code; see also Justice Carpios Dissenting Opinion, Tenebro v. Court of
Appeals, G.R. No. 150758, February 18, 2004, 423 SCRA 272, 299.
[55]
[56]

Supra note 49, at 370.


Records, pp. 54-55; TSN, November 7, 2000, pp. 5-6.

[57]

Archbishop Oscar V. Cruz, D.D., of the Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan, explains in Marriage


Tribunal Ministry, 1992 ed., that [s]tandard practice shows the marked advisability of Expert
intervention in Marriage Cases accused of nullity on the ground of defective matrimonial consent on
account of natural incapacity by reason of any factor causative of lack of sufficient use of reason, grave
lack of due discretion and inability to assume essential obligationsalthough the law categorically
mandates said intervention only in the case of impotence and downright mental disorder x x x. (p.
106).
[58]
Republic v. Court of Appeals and Molina, supra note 21, at 685-688.
[59]
Supra note 49, at 88; see also Republic v. Quintero-Hemano, supra note 49, at 743.
[60]
Supra note 49, at 850; see also Republic v. Quintero-Hemano, supra note 49, at 742; Republic v.
Iyoy, supra note 49, at 526; Zamora v. Court of Appeals, supra note 49, at 27; Paras v. Paras, supra
note 49, at 96-97.
[61]
The Court, however, by saying
[T]he assessment of petitioner by Dr. Gauzon was based merely on descriptions communicated to him
by respondent. The doctor never conducted any psychological examination of her. Neither did he ever
claim to have done so. In fact, his Professional Opinion began with the statement [I]f what Alfonso
Choa said about his wife Leni is true, x x x
xxxx
Obviously, Dr. Guanzon had no personal knowledge of the facts he testified to, as these had merely
been relayed to him by respondent. The former was working on pure suppositions and secondhand
information fed to him by one side. Consequently, his testimony can be dismissed as unscientific and
unreliable.
Dr. Guanzon tried to save his credibility by asserting that he was able to assess petitioners character,
not only through the descriptions given by respondent, but also through the formers at least fifteen
hours of study of the voluminous transcript of records of this case. Even if it took the good doctor a
whole day or a whole week to examine the records of this case, we still find his assessment of
petitioners psychological state sorely insufficient and methodologically flawed.
in Choa v. Choa (Supra note 49, at 190-191), in effect, required the personal examination of the person
to be declared psychologically incapacitated.
[62]
Psychologists of the Psychological Extension Evaluation Research Services (PEERS) enumerate the
segments of the psychological evaluation report for psychological incapacity as follows:
Identifying Data: Personal Information

Referral Question: Data coming from informants and significant others (psychologists,
psychiatrists, physicians, parents, brothers, sisters, relatives, friends, etc.).
Test Administered (Dates): List by name
Background Information:
Current Life Situation: Presenting complaint (personal and marital conflict), history of
problem, and consequences in clients life.

Life History Information: Childhood development, educational history, vocational history,


medical history, sexual and marital history, personal goals.
Behavior Observations: Description of client, relationship with examiner, and test related
behaviors.
Interpretation of Test Results:
Intellectual Functioning: Wechsler tests, Stanford-Binet, etc. Obtained IQ scores and specific
strengths and deficits.
Cognitive Functioning: Rorschach, TAT, MMPI, etc. Perception of reality or perceptual
efficiency, conceptual organization, psychological needs, conflicts, preoccupations,
suspiciousness, hallucinations, or delusions.
Emotional Functioning (MMPI, Rorschach, etc .): Liability of emotions, impulse control,
predominant concerns like aggression, anxiety, depression, guilt, dependency, and hostility.
Relationship Patterns (MMPI, Rorschach, TAT, etc.): Problem areas in work or school,
friendships, intimate relationships, difficulties such as immaturity, irresponsibility,
cooperativeness, sociability, introversion, impulsivity, aggression, dangerousness to self or
others.
Defenses and compensations: Evidence of any strength, any coping mechanisms, or any
useful compensation that might be helping the client maintain himself/herself.
Integration of Test Results with Life History: Presenting a clinical picture of the client as a
total person against the background of his marital discords and life circumstances. Hypotheses
posed through the referral question and generated and integrated via test results and other
reliable information.
Summary, Conclusion, Diagnosis, Prognosis:
Summary: Emphasis should be on conciseness and accuracy so that the reader can quickly
find the essential information and overall impression.
Conclusion: Integrating the material (data) into a more smoothly stated conceptualization of
the clients personality and problem areas as regards root causes and characteristics as ground
for nullity of marriage.
Diagnosis: Diagnostic impression is evolved form the data obtained, formed impression of
personality disorders, and classified mental disorders based on the criteria and multi axial
system of the DSM IV.
Prognosis: Predicting the behavior based on the data obtained that are relevant to the current
functioning of the client, albeit under ideal conditions.
Recommendation: Providing a careful specific recommendation is based on the referral
sources and obtained data in dealing with a particular client that may be ameliorative,
remedial, or unique treatment/intervention approaches. As to psychological incapacity,
specific recommendation on the nullity of marriage based on Article 36 of the Family Code
and expertise and clinical judgment of the Clinical Psychologist should be given

emphasis. (Ng, Apruebo & Lepiten, Legal and Clinical Bases of Psychological Incapacity,
supra note 51, at 179-181.)
[63]
A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC, effective March 15, 2003.
[64]
Kahn and Fawcett, The Encyclopedia of Mental Health, 1993 ed., pp. 291-292. See Bernstein,
Penner, Clarke-Stewart, Roy, Psychology, 7th ed., 2006, pp. 613-614, defining personality disorders as
long-standing, inflexible ways of behaving that are not so much severe mental disorders as
dysfunctional styles of living. These disorders affect all areas of functioning and, beginning in
childhood or adolescence, create problems for those who display them and for others. Some
psychologists view personality disorders as interpersonal strategies or as extreme, rigid, and
maladaptive expressions of personality traits. (Citations omitted.)
[65]
Id. at 131.
[66]
Id. at 50-51.
[67]
Supra note 65.
[68]

Supra note 66.

THIRD DIVISION
BENJAMIN G. TING,
Petitioner,

G.R. No. 166562


Present:
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.,
Chairperson,
CARPIO MORALES,*
CHICO-NAZARIO,
NACHURA, and
PERALTA, JJ.

- versus -

Promulgated:
CARMEN M. VELEZ-TING,
March 31, 2009
Respondent.
x-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------x
DECISION
NACHURA, J.:

preceptorship program for the said field[9] and, in 1980, he began working
for Velez Hospital, owned by Carmens family, as member of its active
staff,[10] while Carmen worked as the hospitals Treasurer.[11]
Before us is a petition for review on certiorari seeking to set aside
the November 17, 2003 Amended Decision[1] of the Court of Appeals
(CA), and its December 13, 2004 Resolution [2] in CA-G.R. CV No.
59903. The appellate court, in its assailed decision and resolution,
affirmed the January 9, 1998 Decision[3] of the Regional Trial Court
(RTC), Branch 23, Cebu City, declaring the marriage between petitioner
and respondent null and void ab initio pursuant to Article 36 of the
Family Code.[4]
The facts follow.
Petitioner Benjamin Ting (Benjamin) and respondent Carmen
Velez-Ting (Carmen) first met in 1972 while they were classmates in
medical school.[5] They fell in love, and they were wed on July 26, 1975
in Cebu City when respondent was already pregnant with their first child.
At first, they resided at Benjamins family home in
Maguikay, Mandaue City.[6] When their second child was born, the couple
decided to move to Carmens family home inCebu City.[7] In September
1975, Benjamin passed the medical board examinations [8] and thereafter
proceeded to take a residency program to become a surgeon but shifted to
anesthesiology after two years. By 1979, Benjamin completed the

The couple begot six (6) children, namely Dennis, born on


December 9, 1975; James Louis, born on August 25, 1977; Agnes Irene,
born on April 5, 1981; Charles Laurence, born on July 21, 1986; Myles
Vincent, born on July 19, 1988; and Marie Corinne, born on June 16,
1991.[12]
On October 21, 1993, after being married for more than 18 years to
petitioner and while their youngest child was only two years old, Carmen
filed a verified petition before the RTC of Cebu City praying for the
declaration of nullity of their marriage based on Article 36 of the Family
Code. She claimed that Benjamin suffered from psychological incapacity
even at the time of the celebration of their marriage, which, however,
only became manifest thereafter. [13]
In her complaint, Carmen stated that prior to their marriage, she
was already aware that Benjamin used to drink and gamble occasionally
with his friends.[14] But after they were married, petitioner continued to
drink regularly and would go home at about midnight or sometimes in the
wee hours of the morning drunk and violent. He would confront and
insult respondent, physically assault her and force her to have sex with
him. There were also instances when Benjamin used his gun and shot the
gate of their house.[15]Because of his drinking habit, Benjamins job as

anesthesiologist was affected to the point that he often had to refuse to


answer the call of his fellow doctors and to pass the task to other
anesthesiologists. Some surgeons even stopped calling him for his
services because they perceived petitioner to be unreliable. Respondent
tried to talk to her husband about the latters drinking problem, but
Benjamin refused to acknowledge the same.[16]
Carmen also complained that petitioner deliberately refused to give
financial support to their family and would even get angry at her
whenever she asked for money for their children. Instead of providing
support, Benjamin would spend his money on drinking and gambling and
would even buy expensive equipment for his hobby.[17] He rarely stayed
home[18] and even neglected his obligation to his children.[19]
Aside from this, Benjamin also engaged in compulsive gambling.
He would gamble two or three times a week and would borrow from
his friends, brothers, or from loan sharks whenever he had no money.
Sometimes, Benjamin would pawn his wifes own jewelry to finance his
gambling.[21] There was also an instance when the spouses had to sell
their family car and even a portion of the lot Benjamin inherited from his
father just to be able to pay off his gambling debts. [22] Benjamin only
stopped going to the casinos in 1986 after he was banned therefrom for
having caused trouble, an act which he said he purposely committed so
that he would be banned from the gambling establishments.[23]
In sum, Carmens allegations of Benjamins psychological incapacity
consisted of the following manifestations:
[20]

1.
2.
3.

4.

Benjamins alcoholism, which adversely affected his family


relationship and his profession;
Benjamins violent nature brought about by his excessive
and regular drinking;
His compulsive gambling habit, as a result of which
Benjamin found it necessary to sell the family car twice and
the property he inherited from his father in order to pay off
his debts, because he no longer had money to pay the same;
and
Benjamins irresponsibility and immaturity as shown by his
failure and refusal to give regular financial support to his
family.[24]

In his answer, Benjamin denied being psychologically


incapacitated. He maintained that he is a respectable person, as his peers
would confirm. He said that he is an active member of social and athletic
clubs and would drink and gamble only for social reasons and for leisure.
He also denied being a violent person, except when provoked by
circumstances.[25] As for his alleged failure to support his family
financially, Benjamin claimed that it was Carmen herself who would
collect his professional fees from VelezHospital when he was still serving
there as practicing anesthesiologist.[26] In his testimony, Benjamin also
insisted that he gave his family financial support within his means
whenever he could and would only get angry at respondent for lavishly
spending his hard-earned money on unnecessary things. [27] He also

pointed out that it was he who often comforted and took care of their
children, while Carmen played mahjong with her friends twice a week.[28]
During the trial, Carmens testimony regarding Benjamins drinking
and gambling habits and violent behavior was corroborated by Susana
Wasawas, who served as nanny to the spouses children from 1987 to
1992.[29] Wasawas stated that she personally witnessed instances when
Benjamin maltreated Carmen even in front of their children.[30]

Carmen also presented as witness Dr. Pureza Trinidad-Oate, a


psychiatrist.[31] Instead of the usual personal interview, however, Dr.
Oates evaluation of Benjamin was limited to the transcript of
stenographic notes taken during Benjamins deposition because the latter
had already gone to work as an anesthesiologist in a hospital in South
Africa. After reading the transcript of stenographic notes, Dr. Oate
concluded that Benjamins compulsive drinking, compulsive gambling
and physical abuse of respondent are clear indications that petitioner
suffers from a personality disorder.[32]
To refute Dr. Oates opinion, petitioner presented Dr. Renato D.
Obra, a psychiatrist and a consultant at the Department of Psychiatry
in Don Vicente Sotto MemorialMedical Center, as his expert witness.
[33]
Dr. Obra evaluated Benjamins psychological behavior based on the
transcript of stenographic notes, as well as the psychiatric evaluation
report prepared by Dr. A.J.L. Pentz, a psychiatrist from

the University of Pretoria in South Africa, and his (Dr. Obras) interview
with Benjamins brothers.[34] Contrary to Dr. Oates findings, Dr. Obra
observed that there is nothing wrong with petitioners personality,
considering the latters good relationship with his fellow doctors and his
good track record as anesthesiologist.[35]
On January 9, 1998, the lower court rendered its
Decision[36] declaring the marriage between petitioner and respondent null
and void. The RTC gave credence to Dr. Oates findings and the
admissions made by Benjamin in the course of his deposition, and found
him to be psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential
obligations of marriage. Specifically, the trial court found Benjamin an
excessive drinker, a compulsive gambler, someone who prefers his extracurricular activities to his family, and a person with violent tendencies,
which character traits find root in a personality defect existing even
before his marriage to Carmen. The decretal portion of the decision
reads:
WHEREFORE, all the foregoing considered, judgment is
hereby rendered declaring the marriage between plaintiff and
defendant null and void ab initio pursuant to Art. 36 of the Family
Code. x x x
xxxx
SO ORDERED.[37]

Aggrieved, petitioner appealed to the CA. On October 19, 2000, the CA


rendered a Decision[38] reversing the trial courts ruling. It faulted the trial
courts finding, stating that no proof was adduced to support the
conclusion that Benjamin was psychologically incapacitated at the time
he married Carmen since Dr. Oates conclusion was based only on
theories and not on established fact,[39] contrary to the guidelines set forth
in Santos v. Court of Appeals[40] and in Rep. of the Phils. v. Court of
Appeals and Molina.[41]
Because of this, Carmen filed a motion for reconsideration,
arguing that the Molina guidelines should not be applied to this case
since the Molina decision was promulgated only on February 13, 1997,
or more than five years after she had filed her petition with the RTC.
[42]
She claimed that the Molina ruling could not be made to apply
retroactively, as it would run counter to the principle of stare
decisis. Initially, the CA denied the motion for reconsideration for having
been filed beyond the prescribed period. Respondent thereafter filed a
manifestation explaining compliance with the prescriptive period but the
same was likewise denied for lack of merit. Undaunted, respondent filed
a petition forcertiorari[43] with this Court. In a Resolution[44] dated March
5, 2003, this Court granted the petition and directed the CA to resolve
Carmens motion for reconsideration.[45]On review, the CA decided to
reconsider its previous ruling. Thus, on November 17, 2003, it issued an
Amended Decision[46] reversing its first ruling and sustaining the trial
courts decision.[47]

A motion for reconsideration was filed, this time by Benjamin, but the
same was denied by the CA in its December 13, 2004 Resolution.[48]
Hence, this petition.

For our resolution are the following issues:


I.

Whether the CA violated the rule on stare decisis when it


refused to follow the guidelines set forth under
the Santos and Molina cases;

II.

Whether the CA correctly ruled that the requirement of proof


of psychological incapacity for the declaration of absolute
nullity of marriage based on Article 36 of the Family Code has
been liberalized; and

III.

Whether the CAs decision declaring the marriage between


petitioner and respondent null and void [is] in accordance with
law and jurisprudence.

We find merit in the petition.


I. On the issue of stare decisis.
The principle of stare decisis enjoins adherence by lower courts to
doctrinal rules established by this Court in its final decisions. It is based
on the principle that once a question of law has been examined and

decided, it should be deemed settled and closed to further argument.


[49]
Basically, it is a bar to any attempt to relitigate the same issues,
[50]
necessary for two simple reasons: economy and stability. In our
jurisdiction, the principle is entrenched in Article 8 of the Civil Code.[51]
This doctrine of adherence to precedents or stare decisis was
applied by the English courts and was later adopted by the United States.
Associate Justice (now Chief Justice) Reynato S. Punos discussion on the
historical development of this legal principle in his dissenting opinion
in Lambino v. Commission on Elections[52] is enlightening:
The latin phrase stare decisis et non quieta movere means stand
by the thing and do not disturb the calm. The doctrine started with the
English Courts. Blackstone observed that at the beginning of the 18th
century, it is an established rule to abide by former precedents where
the same points come again in litigation. As the rule evolved, early
limits to its application were recognized: (1) it would not be followed
if it were plainly unreasonable; (2) where courts of equal authority
developed conflicting decisions; and, (3) the binding force of the
decision was the actual principle or principles necessary for the
decision; not the words or reasoning used to reach the decision.
The doctrine migrated to the United States. It was recognized
by the framers of the U.S. Constitution. According to Hamilton, strict
rules and precedents are necessary to prevent arbitrary discretion in the
courts. Madison agreed but stressed that x x x once the precedent
ventures into the realm of altering or repealing the law, it should be
rejected. Prof. Consovoy well noted that Hamilton and Madison
disagree about the countervailing policy considerations that would
allow a judge to abandon a precedent. He added that their ideas reveal

a deep internal conflict between the concreteness required by the rule


of law and the flexibility demanded in error correction. It is this
internal conflict that the Supreme Court has attempted to deal with for
over two centuries.
Indeed, two centuries of American case law will confirm Prof.
Consovoy's observation although stare decisis developed its own life
in the United States. Two strains of stare decisishave been isolated by
legal scholars. The first, known as vertical stare decisis deals with the
duty of lower courts to apply the decisions of the higher courts to cases
involving the same facts. The second, known as horizontal stare
decisis requires that high courts must follow its own precedents. Prof.
Consovoy correctly observes that vertical stare decisis has been
viewed as an obligation, while horizontal stare decisis, has been
viewed as a policy, imposing choice but not a command. Indeed, stare
decisis is not one of the precepts set in stone in our Constitution.
It is also instructive to distinguish the two kinds of
horizontal stare decisis constitutional stare decisis and statutory stare
decisis. Constitutional stare decisis involves judicial interpretations
of
the
Constitution
while statutory stare
decisis involves
interpretations of statutes. The distinction is important for courts enjoy
more flexibility in refusing to apply stare decisisin constitutional
litigations. Justice Brandeis' view on the binding effect of the doctrine
in constitutional litigations still holds sway today. In soothing prose,
Brandeis stated: Stare decisis is not . . . a universal and inexorable
command. The rule of stare decisis is not inflexible. Whether it shall
be followed or departed from, is a question entirely within the
discretion of the court, which is again called upon to consider a
question once decided. In the same vein, the venerable Justice
Frankfurter opined: the ultimate touchstone of constitutionality is the
Constitution itself and not what we have said about it. In contrast, the
application of stare decisis on judicial interpretation of statutes is more

inflexible. As Justice Stevens explains: after a statute has been


construed, either by this Court or by a consistent course of decision by
other federal judges and agencies, it acquires a meaning that should be
as clear as if the judicial gloss had been drafted by the Congress itself.
This stance reflects both respect for Congress' role and the need to
preserve the courts' limited resources.
In general, courts follow the stare decisis rule for an ensemble
of reasons, viz.: (1) it legitimizes judicial institutions; (2) it promotes
judicial economy; and, (3) it allows for predictability. Contrariwise,
courts refuse to be bound by the stare decisis rule where (1) its
application perpetuates illegitimate and unconstitutional holdings; (2)
it cannot accommodate changing social and political understandings;
(3) it leaves the power to overturn bad constitutional law solely in the
hands of Congress; and, (4) activist judges can dictate the policy for
future courts while judges that respect stare decisis are stuck agreeing
with them.
In its 200-year history, the U.S. Supreme Court has refused to
follow the stare decisis rule and reversed its decisions in 192 cases.
The most famous of these reversals is Brown v. Board of
Education which junked Plessy v. Ferguson's separate but equal
doctrine. Plessy upheld as constitutional a state law requirement that
races be segregated on public transportation. In Brown, the U.S.
Supreme Court, unanimously held that separate . . . is inherently
unequal. Thus, by freeing itself from the shackles of stare decisis, the
U.S. Supreme Court freed the colored Americans from the chains of
inequality. In the Philippine setting, this Court has likewise refused to
be straitjacketed by the stare decisis rule in order to promote public
welfare. In La Bugal-B'laan Tribal Association, Inc. v. Ramos, we
reversed our original ruling that certain provisions of the Mining Law
are unconstitutional. Similarly, in Secretary of Justice v. Lantion, we
overturned our first ruling and held, on motion for reconsideration, that

a private respondent is bereft of the right to notice and hearing during


the evaluation stage of the extradition process.
An examination of decisions on stare decisis in major countries
will show that courts are agreed on the factors that should be
considered before overturning prior rulings. These are workability,
reliance, intervening developments in the law and changes in fact. In
addition, courts put in the balance the following determinants:
closeness of the voting, age of the prior decision and its merits.
The leading case in deciding whether a court should follow
the stare decisis rule in constitutional litigations is Planned
Parenthood v. Casey. It established a 4-pronged test. The court should
(1) determine whether the rule has proved to be intolerable simply in
defying practical workability; (2) consider whether the rule is subject
to a kind of reliance that would lend a special hardship to the
consequences of overruling and add inequity to the cost of repudiation;
(3) determine whether related principles of law have so far developed
as to have the old rule no more than a remnant of an abandoned
doctrine; and, (4) find out whether facts have so changed or come to be
seen differently, as to have robbed the old rule of significant
application or justification.[53]

To be forthright, respondents argument that the doctrinal guidelines


prescribed in Santos and Molina should not be applied retroactively for
being contrary to the principle of stare decisis is no longer new. The same
argument was also raised but was struck down in Pesca v. Pesca,[54] and
again in Antonio v. Reyes.[55] In these cases, we explained that the
interpretation or construction of a law by courts constitutes a part of the
law as of the date the statute is enacted. It is only when a prior ruling of

this Court is overruled, and a different view is adopted, that the new
doctrine may have to be applied prospectively in favor of parties who
have relied on the old doctrine and have acted in good faith, in
accordance therewith under the familiar rule of lex prospicit, non respicit.
II. On liberalizing the required proof for the declaration of nullity of
marriage under Article 36.
Now, petitioner wants
the Molina doctrine.

to

know

if

we

have

abandoned

and incurability of the psychological incapacity. However, such opinions,


while highly advisable, are not conditions sine qua non in granting
petitions for declaration of nullity of marriage. [58] At best, courts must
treat such opinions as decisive but not indispensable evidence in
determining the merits of a given case. In fact, if the totality of evidence
presented is enough to sustain a finding of psychological incapacity, then
actual medical or psychological examination of the person concerned
need not be resorted to.[59] The trial court, as in any other given case
presented before it, must always base its decision not solely on the expert
opinions furnished by the parties but also on the totality of evidence
adduced in the course of the proceedings.

We have not.
[56]

In Edward Kenneth Ngo Te v. Rowena Ong Gutierrez Yu-Te, we


declared that, in hindsight, it may have been inappropriate for the Court
to impose a rigid set of rules, as the one in Molina, in resolving all cases
of psychological incapacity. We said that instead of serving as a
guideline, Molina unintentionally became a straightjacket, forcing all
cases involving psychological incapacity to fit into and be bound by it,
which is not only contrary to the intention of the law but unrealistic as
well because, with respect to psychological incapacity, no case can be
considered as on all fours with another.[57]
By the very nature of cases involving the application of Article 36, it is
logical and understandable to give weight to the expert opinions
furnished by psychologists regarding the psychological temperament of
parties in order to determine the root cause, juridical antecedence, gravity

It was for this reason that we found it necessary to emphasize


in Ngo Te that each case involving the application of Article 36 must be
treated distinctly and judged not on the basis of a priori assumptions,
predilections or generalizations but according to its own attendant facts.
Courts should interpret the provision on a case-to-case basis, guided by
experience, the findings of experts and researchers in psychological
disciplines, and by decisions of church tribunals.
Far from abandoning Molina, we simply suggested the relaxation
of the stringent requirements set forth therein, cognizant of the
explanation given by the Committee on the Revision of the Rules on the
rationale of the Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void
Marriages and Annulment of Voidable Marriages (A.M. No. 02-11-10SC), viz.:

To require the petitioner to allege in the petition the particular


root cause of the psychological incapacity and to attach thereto the
verified written report of an accredited psychologist or psychiatrist
have proved to be too expensive for the parties. They adversely affect
access to justice o poor litigants. It is also a fact that there are
provinces where these experts are not available. Thus, the Committee
deemed it necessary to relax this stringent requirement enunciated in
the Molina Case. The need for the examination of a party or parties by
a psychiatrist or clinical psychologist and the presentation of
psychiatric experts shall now be determined by the court during the
pre-trial conference.[60]

Accordingly, we reverse the trial courts and the appellate courts rulings
declaring the marriage between petitioner and respondent null and
void ab initio.
The intendment of the law has been to confine the application of
Article 36 to the most serious cases of personality disorders clearly
demonstrative of an utter insensitivity or inability to give meaning and
significance to the marriage.[61] The psychological illness that must have
afflicted a party at the inception of the marriage should be a malady so
grave and permanent as to deprive one of awareness of the duties and
responsibilities of the matrimonial bond he or she is about to assume.[62]

But where, as in this case, the parties had the full opportunity to present
professional and expert opinions of psychiatrists tracing the root cause,
gravity and incurability of a partys alleged psychological incapacity, then
such expert opinion should be presented and, accordingly, be weighed by
the court in deciding whether to grant a petition for nullity of marriage.

In this case, respondent failed to prove that petitioners defects were


present at the time of the celebration of their marriage. She merely cited
that prior to their marriage, she already knew that petitioner would
occasionally drink and gamble with his friends; but such statement, by
itself, is insufficient to prove any pre-existing psychological defect on the
part of her husband. Neither did the evidence adduced prove such defects
to be incurable.

III. On petitioners psychological incapacity.

The evaluation of the two psychiatrists should have been the


decisive evidence in determining whether to declare the marriage
between the parties null and void. Sadly, however, we are not convinced
that the opinions provided by these experts strengthened respondents
allegation of psychological incapacity. The two experts provided
diametrically contradicting psychological evaluations: Dr. Oate testified
that petitioners behavior is a positive indication of a personality disorder,

Coming now to the main issue, we find the totality of evidence


adduced by respondent insufficient to prove that petitioner is
psychologically unfit to discharge the duties expected of him as a
husband, and more particularly, that he suffered from such psychological
incapacity as of the date of the marriage eighteen (18) years ago.

[63]

while Dr. Obra maintained that there is nothing wrong with petitioners
personality. Moreover, there appears to be greater weight in Dr. Obras
opinion because, aside from analyzing the transcript of Benjamins
deposition similar to what Dr. Oate did, Dr. Obra also took into
consideration the psychological evaluation report furnished by another
psychiatrist in South Africawho personally examined Benjamin, as well
as his (Dr. Obras) personal interview with Benjamins brothers.
[64]
Logically, therefore, the balance tilts in favor of Dr. Obras findings.

and the December 13, 2004 Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CAG.R. CV No. 59903 are accordingly REVERSED and SET ASIDE.

Lest it be misunderstood, we are not condoning petitioners


drinking and gambling problems, or his violent outbursts against his wife.
There is no valid excuse to justify such a behavior. Petitioner must
remember that he owes love, respect, and fidelity to his spouse as much
as the latter owes the same to him. Unfortunately, this court finds
respondents testimony, as well as the totality of evidence presented by the
respondent, to be too inadequate to declare him psychologically unfit
pursuant to Article 36.

WE CONCUR:

It should be remembered that the presumption is always in favor of


the validity of marriage. Semper praesumitur pro matrimonio.[65] In this
case, the presumption has not been amply rebutted and must, perforce,
prevail.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition for review
on certiorari is GRANTED. The November 17, 2003 Amended Decision

SO ORDERED.
ANTONIO EDUARDO B. NACHURA
Associate Justice

CONSUELO YNARES-SANTIAGO
Associate Justice
Chairperson

CONCHITA CARPIO MORALES


Associate Justice

MINITA V. CHICO-NAZARIO
Associate Justice

DIOSDADO M. PERALTA
Associate Justice

AT T E S TAT I O N
I attest that the conclusions in the above Decision were reached in
consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of
the Courts Division.

CONSUELO YNARES-SANTIAGO
Associate Justice
Chairperson, Third Division

C E R T I F I C AT I O N
Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution and the Division
Chairperson's Attestation, I certify 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.

REYNATO S. PUNO
Chief Justice

Additional member in lieu of Associate Justice Ma. Alicia Austria-Martinez per Special Order No.
602 dated March 20, 2009.
[1]
Penned by Associate Justice Bienvenido L. Reyes, with Associate Justices Rodrigo V. Cosico and
Sergio L. Pestao, concurring; rollo, pp. 78-89.
[2]
Rollo, pp. 110-111.
[3]
Id. at 35-45.
[4]
Art. 36 of the Family Code provides in full:
Article 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. [as amended by Executive Order No.
227 dated July 17, 1987]
[5]
TSN, December 7, 1994, morning, p. 4.
[6]
Id. at 12.
[7]
Id. at 17.
[8]
Id. at 14; Exhibit 3.
[9]
Id. at 13, 15.
[10]
Id. at 21-23.
[11]
Id. at 10.
[12]
Rollo, p. 48.
[13]
Id. at 35.
[14]
TSN, January 6, 1995, pp. 3, 8-9.
[15]
Rollo, p. 36.
[16]
Id. at 37.
[17]
Id.
[18]
Id. at 40.
[19]
Id. at 44.
[20]
Id. at 40.
[21]
Id.
[22]
Id. at 36.
[23]
Id. at 40.
[24]
Id. at 48-49.
[25]
Id. at 42, 49.
[26]
Id. at 49.
[27]
TSN, December 7, 1994, morning, pp. 23-25.
[28]
Id. at 26.
[29]
TSN, August 31, 1995, pp. 5-26.
[30]
Id. at 7-9.
[31]
[32]

Rollo, p. 38.
Id. at 39.

[33]

[55]

[34]

[56]

Id. at 41.
Id. at 54-55.
[35]
Id. at 42.
[36]
Id. at 35-45.
[37]
Id. at 45.
[38]
Id. at 47-65.
[39]
Id. at 64.
[40]
G.R. No. 112019, January 4, 1995, 240 SCRA 20.
[41]
335 Phil. 664 (1997).
[42]
Rollo, pp. 80-81.
[43]
Docketed as G.R. No. 150479.
[44]
CA rollo, pp. 199-202.
[45]
Rollo, pp. 78-79.
[46]
Supra note 1.
[47]
Pertinent portion of the CAs Amended Decision dated November 17, 2003 reads:
The foregoing considered and taking a cue on the adoption x x x of the Honorable Justices of the
Supreme Court of the new Rule On Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages and Annulment
of Voidable Marriages (A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC) which took effect on March 15, 2003, this Court
hereby RECONSIDERS itself and GRANTS the motion for reconsideration filed by the herein
petitioner-appellee on November 29, 2000. Consequently, respondent-appellants appeal is hereby
DISMISSED and the DECISION of the court below declaring the marriage between CARMEN M.
VELEZ-TING and BENJAMIN G. TING null and void ab initio under Article 36 of the Family Code
of the Philippines is hereby AFFIRMED.
WHEREFORE, in view thereof, we can not do any less but sustain the decision dated 29 August 2002
of the court below in Civil Case No. CEB-14826 declaring the marriage between petitioner-appellee
Carmen Velez-Ting and respondent-appellant Benjamin G. Ting void from the beginning under Article
36, Family Code (as amended by E.O. No. 227 dated 17 July 1987).
Consequently, the Decision of this Court promulgated on October 19, 2000 is hereby SET ASIDE and
a new one rendered AFFIRMING the appealed Decision of the Court a quo.
SO ORDERED. (Id. at 88-89.)
[48]
Rollo, pp. 110-111.
[49]
De Mesa v. Pepsi Cola Products Phils., Inc., G.R. Nos. 153063-70, August 19, 2005, 467 SCRA
433, 440.
[50]
Id. at 438.
[51]
Art. 8 of the Civil Code provides in full:
Article 8. Judicial decisions applying or interpreting the laws or the Constitution shall form part of the
legal system of the Philippines.
[52]
G.R. Nos. 174153 and 174299, October 25, 2006, 505 SCRA 160.
[53]
Id. at 308-312. (Citations and emphasis omitted.)
[54]
408 Phil. 713 (2001).

G.R. No. 155800, March 10, 2006, 484 SCRA 353.


G.R. No. 161793, February 13, 2009.
[57]
Supra note 41, at 680.
[58]
Marcos v. Marcos, 397 Phil. 840 (2000).
[59]
Id. at 850.
[60]

Rationale for the New Rules as submitted by the Committee on the Revision of Rules to the
Supreme Court, November 11, 2002, p. 3, as cited in Sta. Maria, Jr., Court Procedures in Family Law
Cases, 2007 ed., pp. 10-11.
[61]

Supra note 40, at 34.


Marcos v. Marcos, supra note 58, at 850-851.
[63]
Rollo, p. 39.
[64]
Id. at 54-55.
[65]
Carating-Siayngco v. Siayngco, G.R. No. 158896, October 27, 2004, 441 SCRA 422, 437.
[62]

FIRST DIVISION
G.R. No. 180668

May 26, 2009

MARIETA C. AZCUETA Petitioner,


vs.
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES AND THE COURT OF APPEALS, Respondents.
DECISION
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, J.:
Before us is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court
assailing the Decision of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CV No. 86162 dated
August 31, 2007,1 and its Resolution dated November 20, 2007.2
Petitioner Marietta C. Azcueta and Rodolfo Azcueta met in 1993. Less than two months
after their first meeting, they got married on July 24, 1993 at St. Anthony of Padua
Church, Antipolo City. At the time of their marriage, petitioner was 23 years old while
respondent was 28. They separated in 1997 after four years of marriage. They have no
children.
On March 2, 2002, petitioner filed with the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Antipolo City,
Branch 72, a petition for declaration of absolute nullity of marriage under Article 36 of the
Family Code, docketed as Civil Case No. 02-6428.
Meanwhile, respondent failed to appear and file an answer despite service of summons
upon him. Because of this, the trial court directed the City Prosecutor to conduct an
investigation whether there was collusion between the parties. In a report dated August
16, 2002, Prosecutor Wilfredo G. Oca found that there was no collusion between the
parties.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

On August 21, 2002, the Office of the Solicitor General entered its appearance for the
Republic of the Philippines and submitted a written authority for the City Prosecutor to
appear in the case on the States behalf under the supervision and control of the Solicitor
General.

In her petition and during her testimony, petitioner claimed that her husband Rodolfo was
psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential obligations of marriage.
According to petitioner, Rodolfo was emotionally immature, irresponsible and continually
failed to adapt himself to married life and perform the essential responsibilities and duties
of a husband.
Petitioner complained that Rodolfo never bothered to look for a job and instead always
asked his mother for financial assistance. When they were married it was Rodolfos
mother who found them a room near the Azcueta home and it was also his mother who
paid the monthly rental.
Petitioner also testified that she constantly encouraged her husband to find employment.
She even bought him a newspaper every Sunday but Rodolfo told her that he was too
old and most jobs have an age limit and that he had no clothes to wear to job interviews.
To inspire him, petitioner bought him new clothes and a pair of shoes and even gave him
money. Sometime later, her husband told petitioner that he already found a job and
petitioner was overjoyed. However, some weeks after, petitioner was informed that her
husband had been seen at the house of his parents when he was supposed to be at
work. Petitioner discovered that her husband didnt actually get a job and the money he
gave her (which was supposedly his salary) came from his mother. When she confronted
him about the matter, Rodolfo allegedly cried like a child and told her that he pretended
to have a job so that petitioner would stop nagging him about applying for a job. He also
told her that his parents can support their needs. Petitioner claimed that Rodolfo was so
dependent on his mother and that all his decisions and attitudes in life should be in
conformity with those of his mother.
Apart from the foregoing, petitioner complained that every time Rodolfo would get drunk
he became physically violent towards her. Their sexual relationship was also
unsatisfactory. They only had sex once a month and petitioner never enjoyed it. When
they discussed this problem, Rodolfo would always say that sex was sacred and it
should not be enjoyed nor abused. He did not even want to have a child yet because he
claimed he was not ready. Additionally, when petitioner requested that they move to
another place and rent a small room rather than live near his parents, Rodolfo did not
agree. Because of this, she was forced to leave their residence and see if he will follow
her. But he did not.
During the trial of the case, petitioner presented Rodolfos first cousin, Florida de Ramos,
as a witness. In 1993, Ramos, the niece of Rodolfos father, was living with Rodolfos

family. She corroborated petitioners testimony that Rodolfo was indeed not gainfully
employed when he married petitioner and he merely relied on the allowance given by his
mother. This witness also confirmed that it was respondents mother who was paying the
rentals for the room where the couple lived. She also testified that at one time, she saw
respondent going to his mothers house in business attire. She learned later that Rodolfo
told petitioner that he has a job but in truth he had none. She also stated that respondent
was still residing at the house of his mother and not living together with petitioner.
Petitioner likewise presented Dr. Cecilia Villegas, a psychiatrist. Dr. Villegas testified that
after examining petitioner for her psychological evaluation, she found petitioner to be
mature, independent, very responsible, focused and has direction and ambition in life.
She also observed that petitioner works hard for what she wanted and therefore, she
was not psychologically incapacitated to perform the duties and responsibilities of
marriage. Dr. Villegas added that based on the information gathered from petitioner, she
found that Rodolfo showed that he was psychologically incapacitated to perform his
marital duties and responsibilities. Dr. Villegas concluded that he was suffering from
Dependent Personality Disorder associated with severe inadequacy related to masculine
strivings.
She explained that persons suffering from Dependent Personality Disorder were those
whose response to ordinary way of life was ineffectual and inept, characterized by loss of
self-confidence, constant self-doubt, inability to make his own decisions and dependency
on other people. She added that the root cause of this psychological problem was a
cross-identification with the mother who was the dominant figure in the family considering
that respondents father was a seaman and always out of the house. She stated that this
problem began during the early stages in his life but manifested only after the celebration
of his marriage. According to Dr. Villegas, this kind of problem was also severe because
he will not be able to make and to carry on the responsibilities expected of a married
person. It was incurable because it started in early development and therefore deeply
ingrained into his personality.
Based on petitioners evidence, the RTC rendered a Decision dated October 25, 2004,
declaring the marriage between petitioner and Rodolfo as null and void ab initio, thus:
With the preponderant evidence presented by the petitioner, the court finds that
respondent totally failed in his commitments and obligations as a husband. Respondents
emotional immaturity and irresponsibility is grave and he has no showing of
improvement. He failed likewise to have sexual intercourse with the wife because it is a

result of the unconscious guilt felling of having sexual relationship since he could not
distinguish between the mother and the wife and therefore sex relationship will not be
satisfactory as expected.
The respondent is suffering from dependent personality disorder and therefore cannot
make his own decision and cannot carry on his responsibilities as a husband. The marital
obligations to live together, observe mutual love, respect, support was not fulfilled by the
respondent.
Considering the totality of evidence of the petitioner clearly show that respondent failed
to comply with his marital obligations.
Thus the marriage between petitioner and respondent should be declared null and void
on the account of respondents severe and incurable psychological incapacity.
xxx xxx xxx
Wherefore premises considered, the marriage between Marietta Azcueta and Rodolfo B.
Azcuata is hereby declared null and void abinitio pursuant to Article 36 fo the Family
Code.
The National Statistics Office and the Local Civil Registrar of Antipolo City are ordered to
make proper entries into the records of the parties pursuant to judgment of the court.
Let copies of this decision be furnished the Public Prosecutor and the Solicitor General.
SO ORDERED.3
On July 19, 2005, the RTC rendered an Amended Decision4 to correct the first name of
Rodolfo which was erroneously typewritten as "Gerardo" in the caption of the original
Decision.
The Solicitor General appealed the RTC Decision objecting that (a) the psychiatric report
of Dr. Villegas was based solely on the information provided by petitioner and was not
based on an examination of Rodolfo; and (b) there was no showing that the alleged
psychological defects were present at the inception of marriage or that such defects were
grave, permanent and incurable.

Resolving the appeal, the CA reversed the RTC and essentially ruled that petitioner
failed to sufficiently prove the psychological incapacity of Rodolfo or that his alleged
psychological disorder existed prior to the marriage and was grave and incurable. In
setting aside the factual findings of the RTC, the CA reasoned that:
The evidence on record failed to demonstrate that respondents alleged irresponsibility
and over-dependence on his mother is symptomatic of psychological incapacity as above
explained.
xxx xxx xxx
Also worthy of note is petitioner-appellees failure to prove that respondents supposed
psychological malady existed even before the marriage. Records however show that the
parties were living in harmony in the first few years of their marriage and were living on
their own in a rented apartment. That respondent often times asks his mother for
financial support may be brought about by his feeling of embarrassment that he cannot
contribute at all to the family coffers, considering that it was his wife who is working for
the family. Petitioner-appellee likewise stated that respondent does not like to have a
child on the pretense that respondent is not yet ready to have one. However this is not at
all a manifestation of irresponsibility. On the contrary, respondent has shown that he has
a full grasp of reality and completely understands the implication of having a child
especially that he is unemployed. The only problem besetting the union is respondents
alleged irresponsibility and unwillingness to leave her (sic) mother, which was not proven
in this case to be psychological-rooted.
The behavior displayed by respondent was caused only by his youth and emotional
immaturity which by themselves, do not constitute psychological incapacity (Deldel vs.
Court of Appeals, 421 SCRA 461, 466 [2004]). At all events, petitioner-appellee has
utterly failed, both in her allegations in the complaint and in her evidence, to make out a
case of psychological incapacity on the part of respondent, let alone at the time of
solemnization of the contract, so immaturity and irresponsibility, invoked by her, cannot
be equated with psychological incapacity (Pesca vs. Pesca, 356 SCRA 588, 594 [2001]).
As held by the Supreme Court:
Psychological incapacity must be more than just a difficulty, refusal or neglect in the
performance of some marital obligations, it is essential that they must be shown to be
incapable of doing so, due to some psychological illness existing at the time of the

celebration of the marriage. (Navarro, Jr. vs. Cecilio-Navarro, G.R. No. 162049, April 13,
2007).
xxx xxx xxx
WHEREFORE, in the light of the foregoing, the appealed decision dated July 19, 2005 fo
the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Antipolo City, Branch 72 in Civil Case No. 02-6428 is
REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The marriage berween petitioner-appellee Marietta C.
Azcueta and respondent Rodolfo B. Azcueta remains VALID. 5 (emphasis ours)
The basic issue to be resolved in the instant case is whether or not the totality of the
evidence presented is adequate to sustain a finding that Rodolfo is psychologically
incapacitated to comply with his essential marital obligations.
The Office of the Solicitor General, in its Comment, submits that the appellate court
correctly ruled that the "totality of evidence presented by petitioner" failed to prove her
spouses psychological incapacity pursuant to Article 36 of the Family Code and settled
jurisprudence.
We grant the petition.
Prefatorily, it bears stressing that it is the policy of our Constitution to protect and
strengthen the family as the basic autonomous social institution and marriage as the
foundation of the family.6 Our family law is based on the policy that marriage is not a
mere contract, but a social institution in which the state is vitally interested. The State
can find no stronger anchor than on good, solid and happy families. The break up of
families weakens our social and moral fabric and, hence, their preservation is not the
concern alone of the family members.7
Thus, the Court laid down in Republic of the Philippines v. Court of Appeals and
Molina8 stringent guidelines in the interpretation and application of Article 36 of the
Family Code, to wit:
(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 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 v.
Magtolis, 233 SCRA 100, 108), 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 noncomplied 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.9 (Emphasis supplied)
In Santos v. Court of Appeals,10 the Court declared that psychological incapacity must be
characterized by (a) gravity, (b) juridical antecedence, and (c) incurability.11 It 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."12 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.13

However, in more recent jurisprudence, we have observed that notwithstanding the


guidelines laid down in Molina, there is a need to emphasize other perspectives as well
which should govern the disposition of petitions for declaration of nullity under Article
36.14 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.15 With the advent of Te v. Te,16 the Court encourages a reexamination of
jurisprudential trends on the interpretation of Article 36 although there has been no major
deviation or paradigm shift from the Molina doctrine.
After a thorough review of the records of the case, we find that there was sufficient
compliance with Molina to warrant the annulment of the parties marriage under Article
36.
First, petitioner successfully discharged her burden to prove the psychological incapacity
of her husband.
The Solicitor General, in discrediting Dr. Villegas psychiatric report, highlights the lack of
personal examination of Rodolfo by said doctor and the doctors reliance on petitioners
version of events. In Marcos v. Marcos,17 it was held that there is no requirement that the
defendant/respondent spouse should be personally examined by a physician or
psychologist as a condition sine qua non for the declaration of nullity of marriage based
on psychological incapacity. What matters is whether the totality of evidence presented is
adequate to sustain a finding of psychological incapacity.
It should be noted that, apart from her interview with the psychologist, petitioner testified
in court on the facts upon which the psychiatric report was based. When a witness
testified under oath before the lower court and was cross-examined, she thereby
presented evidence in the form of testimony.18 Significantly, petitioners narration of facts
was corroborated in material points by the testimony of a close relative of Rodolfo. Dr.
Villegas likewise testified in court to elaborate on her report and fully explain the link
between the manifestations of Rodolfos psychological incapacity and the psychological
disorder itself. 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. 19 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
witness.20
Second, the root cause of Rodolfos psychological incapacity has been medically or
clinically identified, alleged in the petition, sufficiently proven by expert testimony, and
clearly explained in the trial courts decision.
The petition alleged that from the beginning of their marriage, Rodolfo was not gainfully
employed and, despite pleas from petitioner, he could not be persuaded to even attempt
to find employment; that from the choice of the family abode to the couples daily
sustenance, Rodolfo relied on his mother; and that the couples inadequate sexual
relations and Rodolfos refusal to have a child stemmed from a psychological condition
linked to his relationship to his mother.
1avvphi1

These manifestations of incapacity to comply or assume his marital obligations were


linked to medical or clinical causes by an expert witness with more than forty years
experience from the field of psychology in general and psychological incapacity, in
particular. In a portion of her psychiatric evaluation, Dr. Villegas elucidated the
psychodynamics of the case of petitioner and Rodolfo, thus:
Marietta is the eldest of 5 siblings, whose parents has very limited education. Being the
eldest, she is expected to be the role model of younger siblings. In so doing, she has
been restricted and physically punished, in order to tow the line. But on the other hand,
she developed growing resentments towards her father and promised herself that with
the first opportunity, shell get out of the family. When Rodolfo came along, they were
married 1 months after they met, without really knowing anything about him. Her
obsession to leave her family was her primary reason at that time and she did not
exercise good judgment in her decision making in marriage. During their 4 years marital
relationship, she came to realize that Rodolfo cannot be responsible in his duties and
responsibilities, in terms of loving, caring, protection, financial support and sex.

convenient role model, but the reversal of roles became confusing that led to
ambivalence of his identity and grave dependency. Apparently, all the boys were hooked
up to his complexities, producing so much doubts in their capabilities in a heterosexual
setting. Specifically, Rodolfo tried, but failed. His inhibitions in a sexual relationship, is
referable to an unconscious guilt feelings of defying the mothers love. At this point, he
has difficulty in delineating between the wife and the mother, so that his continuous
relationship with his wife produces considerable anxiety, which he is unable to handle,
and crippled him psychologically.
Based on the above clinical data, family background and outcome of their marriage, it is
the opinion of the examiner, that Mrs. Marietta Cruz-Azcueta is mature, independent and
responsible and is psychologically capacitated to perform the duties and obligations of
marriage. Due to her numerous personal problems she has difficulty in handling her
considerable anxiety, at present. There are strong clinical evidences that Mr. Rodolfo
Azcueta is suffering from a Dependent Personality Disorder associated with severe
inadequacy that renders him psychologically incapacitated to perform the duties and
responsibilities of marriage.
The root cause of the above clinical condition is due to a strong and prolonged
dependence with a parent of the opposite sex, to a period when it becomes no longer
appropriate. This situation crippled his psychological functioning related to sex, self
confidence, independence, responsibility and maturity. It existed prior to marriage, but
became manifest only after the celebration due to marital stresses and demands. It is
considered as permanent and incurable in nature, because it started early in his life and
therefore became so deeply ingrained into his personality structure. It is severe or grave
in degree, because it hampered and interfered with his normal functioning related to
heterosexual adjustment.21
These findings were reiterated and further explained by Dr. Villegas during her testimony,
the relevant portion of which we quote below:
xxx xxx xxx

On the other hand, Rodolfo is the 3rd among 5 boys. The father, who was perceived to
be weak, and his two elder brothers were all working as seaman. Rodolfo who was
always available to his mothers needs, became an easy prey, easily engulfed into her
system. The relationship became symbiotic, that led to a prolonged and abnormal
dependence to his mother. The mother, being the stronger and dominant parent, is a

Q: Now, Madame Witness, after examining the petitioner, what was your
psychological evaluation?

A: Ive found the petitioner in this case, Mrs. Marietta Azcueta as matured,
independent, very responsible, focused, she has direction and ambition in life
and she work hard for what she wanted, maam, and therefore, I concluded that
she is psychologically capacitated to perform the duties and responsibilities of
the marriage, maam.

A: The root cause of this psychological problem is a cross identification with the
mother who is the dominant figure in the family, the mother has the last say and
the authority in the family while the father was a seaman and always out of the
house, and if present is very shy, quiet and he himself has been very submissive
and passive to the authority of the wife, maam.

Q: How about the respondent, Madame Witness, what was your psychological
evaluation with regards to the respondent?

Q: And can you please tell us, Madame Witness, under what circumstance this
kind of psychological problem manifested?

A: Based on my interview, Ive found out that the husband Mr. Rodolfo Azcueta is
psychologically incapacitated to perform the duties and responsibilities of
marriage suffering from a psychiatric classification as Dependent Personality
Disorder associated with severe inadequacy related to masculine strivings,
maam.

A: This manifested starting his personality development and therefore, during his
early stages in life, maam.

Q: In laymans language, Madame Witness, can you please explain to us what


do you mean by Dependent Personality Disorder?
A: Dependent Personality Disorder are (sic) those persons in which their
response to ordinary way of life are ineffectual and inept characterized by loss of
self confidence, always in doubt with himself and inability to make his own
decision, quite dependent on other people, and in this case, on his mother,
maam.
Q: And do you consider this, Madame Witness, as a psychological problem of
respondent, Rodolfo Azcueta?
A: Very much, maam.
Q: Why?
A: Because it will always interfered, hampered and disrupt his duties and
responsibilities as a husband and as a father, maam.
Q: And can you please tell us, Madame Witness, what is the root cause of this
psychological problem?

Q: So, you mean to say, Madame Witness, this kind of problem existed to
Rodolfo Azcueta, the respondent in this case, before the celebration of the
marriage?
A: Yes, maam.
Q: And it became manifested only after the celebration of the marriage?
A: Yes, maam.
Q: And can you please tell us the reason why it became manifested with the
that the manifestation came too late?
A: The manifestation came too late because the history of Mr. Rodolfo Azcueta
was very mild, no stresses, no demand on his life, at 24 years old despite the fact
that he already finished college degree of Computer Science, there is no demand
on himself at least to establish his own, and the mother always would make the
decision for him, maam.
Q: Okay, Madame Witness, is this kind of psychological problem severe?
A: Yes maam.
Q: Why do you consider this psychological problem severe, Madame Witness?

A: Because he will not be able to make and to carry on the responsibility that is
expected of a married person, maam.
Q: Is it incurable, Madame Witness?
A: It is incurable because it started early in development and therefore it became
so deeply ingrained into his personality, and therefore, it cannot be changed nor
cured at this stage, maam.
Q: So, you mean to say, Madame Witness, that it is Permanent?
A: It is permanent in nature, sir.
Q: And last question as an expert witness, what is the effect of the psychological
problem as far as the marriage relationship of Rodolfo Azcueta is concerned?
A: The effect of this will really be a turbulent marriage relationship because
standard expectation is, the husband has to work, to feed, to protect, to love, and
of course, to function on (sic) the sexual duties of a husband to the wife, but in
this case, early in their marriage, they had only according to the wife,
experienced once sexual relationship every month and this is due to the fact that
because husband was so closely attached to the mother, it is a result of the
unconscious guilt feeling of the husband in defying the mothers love when they
will be having heterosexual relationship and therefore, at that point, he will not be
able to distinguish between the mother and the wife and therefore, sex
relationship will not be satisfactory according to expectation, maam.22
In Te v. Te, we held that "[b]y the very nature of Article 36, courts, despite having the
primary task and burden of decision-making, must not discount but, instead, must
consider as decisive evidence the expert opinion on the psychological and mental
temperaments of the parties."23
Based on the totality of the evidence, the trial court clearly explained the basis for its
decision, which we reproduce here for emphasis:
With the preponderant evidence presented by the petitioner, the court finds that
respondent totally failed in his commitments and obligations as a husband. Respondents

emotional immaturity and irresponsibility is grave and he has no showing of


improvement. He failed likewise to have sexual intercourse with the wife because it is a
result of the unconscious guilt felling of having sexual relationship since he could not
distinguish between the mother and the wife and therefore sex relationship will not be
satisfactory as expected.
The respondent is suffering from dependent personality disorder and therefore cannot
make his own decision and cannot carry on his responsibilities as a husband. The marital
obligations to live together, observe mutual love, respect, support was not fulfilled by the
respondent.
Considering the totality of evidence of the petitioner clearly show that respondent failed
to comply with his marital obligations.
Thus the marriage between petitioner and respondent should be declared null and void
on the account of respondents severe and incurable psychological incapacity.
Third, Rodolfos psychological incapacity was established to have clearly existed at the
time of and even before the celebration of marriage. Contrary to the CAs finding that the
parties lived harmoniously and independently in the first few years of marriage,
witnesses were united in testifying that from inception of the marriage, Rodolfos
irresponsibility, overdependence on his mother and abnormal sexual reticence were
already evident. To be sure, these manifestations of Rodolfos dependent personality
disorder must have existed even prior to the marriage being rooted in his early
development and a by product of his upbringing and family life.
Fourth, Rodolfos psychological incapacity has been shown to be sufficiently grave, so as
to render him unable to assume the essential obligations of marriage.
The Court is wary of the CAs bases for overturning factual findings of the trial court on
this point. The CAs reasoning that Rodolfos requests for financial assistance from his
mother might have been due to his embarrassment for failing to contribute to the family
coffers and that his motive for not wanting a child was his "responsible" realization that
he should not have a child since he is unemployed are all purely speculative. There is no
evidence on record to support these views. Again, we must point out that appellate
courts should not substitute their discretion with that of the trial court or the expert

witnesses, save only in instance where the findings of the trial court or the experts are
contradicted by evidence.
We likewise cannot agree with the CA that Rodolfos irresponsibility and overdependence
on his mother can be attributed to his immaturity or youth. We cannot overlook the fact
that at the time of his marriage to petitioner, he was nearly 29 years old or the fact that
the expert testimony has identified a grave clinical or medical cause for his abnormal
behavior.
In Te, the Court has had the occasion to expound on the nature of a dependent
personality disorder and how one afflicted with such a disorder would be incapacitated
from complying with marital obligations, to wit:
Indeed, petitioner, who is afflicted with dependent personality disorder, cannot assume
the essential marital obligations of living together, observing love, respect and fidelity and
rendering help and support, for he is unable to make everyday decisions without advice
from others, allows others to make most of his important decisions (such as where to
live), tends to agree with people even when he believes they are wrong, has difficulty
doing things on his own, volunteers to do things that are demeaning in order to get
approval from other people, feels uncomfortable or helpless when alone and is often
preoccupied with fears of being abandoned. As clearly shown in this case, petitioner
followed everything dictated to him by the persons around him. He is insecure, weak and
gullible, has no sense of his identity as a person, has no cohesive self to speak of, and
has no goals and clear direction in life.24
Of course, this is not to say that anyone diagnosed with dependent personality disorder
is automatically deemed psychologically incapacitated to comply with the obligations of
marriage. We realize that psychology is by no means an exact science and the medical
cases of patients, even though suffering from the same disorder, may be different in their
symptoms or manifestations and in the degree of severity. It is the duty of the court in its
evaluation of the facts, as guided by expert opinion, to carefully scrutinize the type of
disorder and the gravity of the same before declaring the nullity of a marriage under
Article 36.
Fifth, Rodolfo is evidently unable to comply with the essential marital obligations
embodied in Articles 68 to 71 of the Family Code.25 As noted by the trial court, as a result
of Rodolfos dependent personality disorder, he cannot make his own decisions and

cannot fulfill his responsibilities as a husband. Rodolfo plainly failed to fulfill the marital
obligations to live together, observe mutual love, respect, support under Article 68.
Indeed, one who is unable to support himself, much less a wife; one who cannot
independently make decisions regarding even the most basic and ordinary matters that
spouses face everyday; one who cannot contribute to the material, physical and
emotional well-being of his spouse is psychologically incapacitated to comply with the
marital obligations within the meaning of Article 36.
Sixth, the incurability of Rodolfos condition which has been deeply ingrained in his
system since his early years was supported by evidence and duly explained by the
expert witness.
At this point, the Court is not unmindful of the sometimes peculiar predicament it finds
itself in those instances when it is tasked to interpret static statutes formulated in a
particular point in time and apply them to situations and people in a society in flux. With
respect to the concept of psychological incapacity, courts must take into account not only
developments in science and medicine but also changing social and cultural mores,
including the blurring of traditional gender roles. In this day and age, women have taken
on increasingly important roles in the financial and material support of their families. This,
however, does not change the ideal that the family should be an "autonomous" social
institution, wherein the spouses cooperate and are equally responsible for the support
and well-being of the family. In the case at bar, the spouses from the outset failed to form
themselves into a family, a cohesive unit based on mutual love, respect and support, due
to the failure of one to perform the essential duties of marriage.
This brings to mind the following pronouncement in Te:
In dissolving marital bonds on account of either partys psychological incapacity, the
Court is not demolishing the foundation of families, but it is actually protecting the
sanctity of marriage, because it refuses to allow a person afflicted with a psychological
disorder, who cannot comply with or assume the essential marital obligations, from
remaining in that sacred bond. It may be stressed that the infliction of physical violence,
constitutional indolence or laziness, drug dependence or addiction, and psychosexual
anomaly are manifestations of a sociopathic personality anomaly. Let it be noted that in
Article 36, there is no marriage to speak of in the first place, as the same is void from the
very beginning. To indulge in imagery, the declaration of nullity under Article 36 will
simply provide a decent burial to a stillborn marriage.26 (emphasis ours)

In all, we agree with the trial court that the declaration of nullity of the parties marriage
pursuant to Article 36 of the Family Code is proper under the premises.

Footnotes
Penned by Associate Justice Jose C. Reyes, Jr. and concurred in by Associate
Justices Jose L. Sabio, Jr. and Myrna Dimaranan Vidal; rollo, pp. 37-50.
1

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The Amended Decision dated July 19, 2005 of
the Regional Trial Court, Branch 72, Antipolo City in Civil Case No. 02-6428
is REINSTATED.
SO ORDERED.
TERESITA J. LEONARDO-DE CASTRO
Associate Justice

Id. at 36.

CA Records pp. 36-37.

Id. at p. 41.

Rollo, pp. 45-49.

Section 12 of Article II of the 1987 Constitution provides:

WE CONCUR:
REYNATO S. PUNO
Chief Justice
Chairperson
ANTONIO T. CARPIO
Associate Justice

SEC. 12. The State recognizes the sanctity of family life and shall protect
and strengthen the family as a basic autonomous social institution. x x x

RENATO C. CORONA
Associate Justice

Sections 1 and 2 of Article XV of the 1987 Constitution state:


SECTION 1. The State recognizes the Filipino family as the foundation of
the nation. Accordingly, it shall strengthen its solidarity and actively
promote its total development.

LUCAS P. BERASMIN
Associate Justice
C E R TI F I C ATI O N
Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, it is hereby certified that the
conclusions in the above Decision were reached in consultation before the case was
assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Courts Division.
REYNATO S. PUNO
Chief Justice

SEC. 2. Marriage, as an inviolable social institution, is the foundation of


the family and shall be protected by the State.
Ancheta v. Ancheta, G.R. No. 145370, March 4, 2004, 424 SCRA 725, 740;
Tuason v. Court of Appeals, 326 Phil. 169, 180-181 (1996).
7

G.R. No. 108763, February 13, 1997, 268 SCRA 198.

Id. at 209-213.

10

310 Phil. 21 (1995).

11

Id. at 39.

12

Id. at 40.

13

Id.

14

Antonio v. Reyes, G.R. No. 155800, March 10, 2006, 484 SCRA 353, 370.

ART. 69. The husband and wife shall fix the family domicile. In case of
disagreement, the court shall decide.
The court may exempt one spouse from living with the other if the latter
should live abroad or there are other valid and compelling reasons for the
exemption. However, such exemption shall not apply if the same is not
compatible with the solidarity of the family.
ART. 70. The spouses are jointly responsible for the support of the family.
The expenses for such support and other conjugal obligations shall be
paid from the community property and, in the absence thereof, from the
income or fruits of their separate properties. In case [of] insufficiency or
absence of said income or fruits, such obligations shall be satisfied from
their separate properties.

Republic of the Philippines v. Dagdag, G.R. No. 109975, February 9, 2001, 351
SCRA 425, 431.
15

16

G.R. No. 161793, February 13, 2009.

17

397 Phil. 840 (2000).

ART. 71. The management of the household shall be the right and duty of
both spouses. The expenses for such management shall be paid in
accordance with the provisions of Article 70.

Tsoi v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 119190, January 16, 1997, 266 SCRA 324,
330.
18

Limketkai Sons Milling, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, 321 Phil. 105, 126 (1995),
citing Serrano v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 45125, April 22, 1991,196 SCRA
107, 110.
19

20

Supra note 14.

21

Rollo, pp. 63-64.

22

TSN dated February 26, 2004, at pp. 13-20.

23

Supra note 16.

24

Id.

ART. 68. The husband and wife are obliged to live together, observe mutual
love, respect and fidelity, and render mutual help and support.
25

26

Supra note 16.

RODOLFO A. ASPILLAGA,
Petitioner,

G.R. No. 170925


Present:
QUISUMBING, J., Chairperson,
CARPIO,
CARPIO MORALES,
BRION, and
ABAD, JJ.

- versus -

Promulgated:
AURORA A. ASPILLAGA,
Respondent.

October 26, 2009

x- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x

DECISION
QUISUMBING, J.:
This petition for review on certiorari assails the
Decision[1] dated September
9,
2005 and
the
[2]
Resolution dated December 20, 2005 of the Court of Appeals in CAG.R. CV No. 68179, entitled Rodolfo A. Aspillaga v. Aurora A. Aspillaga.

SECOND DIVISION

The facts culled from the records are as follows:

Rodolfo Aspillaga met Aurora Apon sometime in 1977 while they


were students at the Philippine Merchant Marine Academy and Lyceum
of the Philippines, respectively.Rodolfo courted her and five months later,
they became sweethearts. Thereafter, Aurora left for Japan to study
Japanese culture, literature and language. Despite the distance, Rodolfo
and Aurora maintained communication.
In 1980, after Aurora returned to the Philippines, she and Rodolfo
got married. They begot two children, but Rodolfo claimed their marriage
was tumultuous. He described Aurora as domineering and frequently
humiliated him even in front of his friends. He complained
that Aurora was a spendthrift as she overspent the family budget and
made crucial family decisions without consulting him. Rodolfo added
that Aurora was tactless, suspicious, given to nagging and jealousy as
evidenced by the latters filing against him a criminal case (concubinage)
and an administrative case. He left the conjugal home, and filed
on March 7, 1995, a petition for annulment of marriage on the ground of
psychological incapacity on the part of Aurora. He averred
that Aurora failed to comply with the essential obligations of marriage.
Aurora, for her part, alleged that sometime in 1991, Rodolfo gave
her a plane ticket to Japan to enable her to assume her teaching position
in a university for a period of three months. In August 1991, upon her
return to Manila, she discovered that while she was in Japan, Rodolfo
brought into their conjugal home her cousin, Lecita Rose A. Besina, as
his concubine. Aurora alleged that Rodolfos cohabitation with her cousin

led to the disintegration of their marriage and their eventual separation. In


May 1992, Rodolfo abandoned their conjugal home to live with
Besina. Aurora claimed custody of the children.
During trial, expert witness Dr. Eduardo Maaba explained his
psychiatric evaluation of the parties as well as his recommendation that
the petition be granted. In this report, he stated,
xxxx
Psychiatric evaluation of petitioner, Rodolfo Aspillaga, showed that he
is an intelligent adult male, who is egoistic and harbors an inner sense
of inadequacy, helplessness and anxiety in losing agility. He, however,
projects himself as dominant person, to cover his deep-seated
insecurity and inadequacy. He tends to be suspicious and blames
others for his mistakes. He claims for adulation, reassurance and
attention from other people. These can be traced from an unhealthy
familial relationship during the early maturational development
specifically in the form of a domineering and protective maternal
image.
Self-esteem was fragile.
Psychiatric evaluation of respondent, Aurora Apon Aspillaga, showed
history of traumatic childhood experiences. Her parents separated
when she was about one month old and was made to believe that she
was the youngest daughter of her disciplinarian grandfather. Her
surrogate sister maltreated her and imposed harsh corporal punishment
for her slightest mistakes. She felt devastated when she accidentally
discovered that shed been an orphan adopted by her
grandfather. Attempted incestuous desire by an uncle was reported.

Psychological test results collaborated the clinical findings of sensitivity


to criticism. Tendency for self dramatization and attention getting
behavior. Lapses in judgment and shallow heterosexual relationship was
projected. Sign of immaturity and desire to regress to a lower level of
development were likewise projected. Self-esteem was also low. Deepseated sense of dejection, loneliness and emptiness hamper her
objectivity.

Hence, this petition raising the sole issue:


[WHETHER THE APPELLATE COURT] CORRECTLY APPLIED
THE DEFINITION OF PSYCHOLOGICAL INCAPACITY TO THE
PSYCHOLOGICAL CONDITIONS OF THE PARTIES DURING
THE CELEBRATION OF THEIR MARRIAGE.[5]

In summary, both petitioner and respondent harbor psychological


handicaps which could be traced from unhealthy maturational
development. Both had strict, domineering, disciplinarian role
models. However, respondents mistrust, shallow heterosexual
relationships resulted in incapacitation in her ability to comply with
the obligation of marriage.

Simply stated, the issue before us is whether the marriage is void


on the ground of the parties psychological incapacity.

It is recommended that the petition to annul their marriage be granted,


on the grounds existing psychological incapacitation of both petitioner
and respondent, which will hamper their capacity to comply with their
marital obligations. Dissolution of the marital bond will offer both of
them, peace of mind. [3]

As early as 1995, in Santos v. Court of Appeals,[6] we categorically


said that:

On May 31, 2000,[4] the Regional Trial Court (RTC) found the
parties psychologically incapacitated to enter into marriage.
On appeal, the Court of Appeals, in its Decision dated September
9, 2005, reversed and set aside the RTC decision and declared the
marriage of Rodolfo and Aurora Aspillaga valid. Petitioner filed a motion
for reconsideration, but the motion was also denied in a Resolution
dated December 20, 2005.

The petition must fail.

Psychological incapacity required by Art. 36 must be


characterized by (a) gravity, (b) juridical antecedence, and (c)
incurability. The incapacity must be grave or serious such that the
party would be incapable of carrying out the ordinary duties required
in marriage; it must be rooted in the history of the party antedating the
marriage, although the overt manifestations may emerge only after the
marriage; and it must be incurable or, even if it were otherwise, the
cure would be beyond the means of the party involved. [7] (Emphasis
supplied.)

In the instant case, while the psychological examination conducted


on respondent found her to be mistrustful, to possess low self-esteem,
given to having shallow heterosexual relationships and immature, Dr.
Maaba failed to reveal that these personality traits or psychological

conditions were grave or serious enough to bring about an incapacity to


assume the essential obligations of marriage. Indeed, Dr. Maaba was able
to establish the parties personality disorder; however, he failed to link the
parties psychological disorders to his conclusion that they are
psychologically incapacitated to perform their obligations as husband and
wife. We cannot see how their personality disorder would render them
unaware of the essential marital obligations or to be incognitive of the
basic marital covenants that concomitantly must be assumed and
discharged by the parties to a marriage. The fact that these psychological
conditions will hamper (as Dr. Maaba puts it) their performance of their
marital obligations does not mean that they suffer from psychological
incapacity as contemplated under Article 36 of the Family Code. Mere
difficulty is not synonymous to incapacity. Moreover, there is no
evidence to prove that each partys condition is so grave or is of such
nature as to render said party incapable of carrying out the ordinary
duties required in marriage. There is likewise no evidence that the
claimed incapacity is incurable and permanent.
Petitioner had the burden of proving the nullity of his marriage
with respondent,[8] but failed to discharge it.
It must be stressed that psychological incapacity must be more than
just a difficulty, refusal or neglect in the performance of some marital
obligations.[9] The intention of the law is 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.[10]
Noteworthy, as aptly pointed out by the appellate court, Rodolfo
and Aurora initially had a blissful marital union for several years. They
married in 1982, and later affirmed the ceremony in church rites in 1983,
showing love and contentment with one another after a year of
marriage. The letter of petitioner dated April 1, 1990 addressed to
respondent revealed the harmonious relationship of the couple continued
during their marriage for about eight years from the time they married
each other. From this, it can be inferred that they were able to faithfully
comply with their obligations to each other and to their
children. Aurora was shown to have taken care of her children and
remained faithful to her husband while he was away. She even joined
sales activities to augment the family income. She appeared to be a very
capable woman who traveled a lot and pursued studies here and
abroad. It was only when Rodolfos acts of infidelity were discovered that
the marriage started to fail.
As to Rodolfos allegation that Aurora was a spendthrift, the same
likewise fails to convince. While disagreements on money matters would,
no doubt, affect the other aspects of ones marriage as to make the
wedlock unsatisfactory, this is not a ground to declare a marriage null and
void.[11] In the present case, petitioners disagreement with his wifes
handling of the familys finances can hardly be considered as a
manifestation of the kind of psychological incapacity contemplated under

Article 36 of the Family Code. In fact, the Court takes judicial notice of
the fact that disagreements regarding money matters is a common, and
even normal, occurrence between husbands and wives.[12]
At this juncture while this Court is convinced that indeed both
parties were both found to have psychological disorders, nevertheless,
there is nothing in the records showing that these disorders are sufficient
to declare the marriage void due to psychological incapacity. We must
emphasize that said disorders do not manifest that both parties are truly
incapacitated to perform the basic marital covenants. Moreover, there is
nothing that shows incurability of these disorders. Even assuming their
acts violate the covenants of marriage, such acts do not show an
irreparably hopeless state of psychological incapacity which will prevent
them from undertaking the basic obligations of marriage in the future. At
the most, the psychiatric evaluation of the parties proved only
incompatibility and irreconcilable differences, which cannot be equated
with psychological incapacity as understood juristically.
As this Court has repeatedly declared, Article 36 of the Family
Code is not to be confused with a divorce law that cuts the marital bond
at the time the causes thereof manifest themselves. Article 36 refers to a
serious psychological illness afflicting a party even before the celebration
of the marriage. The malady must be so grave and so permanent as to
deprive one of awareness of the duties and responsibilities of the
matrimonial bond one is about to assume.[13]

As regards respondents claim for support, we find no basis to


award the same as it was not passed upon by the trial court in view of the
agreement of the parties on the issue presented for resolution, which
agreement, however, was not put into writing.
WHEREFORE, the instant petition is DENIED for lack of
merit. The assailed Decision dated September 9, 2005 and Resolution
dated December 20, 2005 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No.
68179 are AFFIRMED.
SO ORDERED.
LEONARDO A. QUISUMBING
Associate Justice
WE CONCUR:

ANTONIO T. CARPIO
Associate Justice

C E R T I F I C AT I O N
CONCHITA CARPIO
MORALES
Associate Justice

ARTURO D. BRION
Associate Justice

Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution and the Division
Chairpersons Attestation, I certify 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.

ROBERTO A. ABAD
Associate Justice

REYNATO S. PUNO
Chief Justice

AT T E S TAT 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
Chairperson

Additional member per Special Order No. 757.


Rollo, pp. 17-25. Penned by Associate Justice Estela M. Perlas-Bernabe, with Associate Justices Elvi
John S. Asuncion and Lucas P. Bersamin (now a member of this Court) concurring.
[2]
Id. at 27.
[3]
Id. at 19-20.
[4]
Id. at 6-7.
[5]
Id. at 7.
[6]
G.R. No. 112019, January 4, 1995, 240 SCRA 20.
[7]
Id. at 33-34. Bier v. Bier, G.R. No. 173294, February 27, 2008, 547 SCRA 123, 130.
[8]
Antonio v. Reyes, G.R. No. 155800, March 10, 2006, 484 SCRA 353, 376, citing Republic v. Court
of Appeals, G.R. No. 108763, February 13, 1997, 268 SCRA 198, 209.
[9]
Republic v. Court of Appeals, supra at 207.
[10]
Tongol v. Tongol, G.R. No. 157610, October 19, 2007, 537 SCRA 135, 142.
[11]
Id. at 151.
[12]
Id.
[13]
Paras v. Paras, G.R. No. 147824, August 2, 2007, 529 SCRA 81, 106-107.
[1]

SECOND DIVISION
JORDAN CHAN PAZ,
Petitioner,

G.R. No. 166579


Present:

- versus -

JEANICE PAVON PAZ,


Respondent.

CARPIO, J., Chairperson,


BRION,
DEL CASTILLO,
ABAD, and
PEREZ, JJ.

Promulgated:
February 18, 2010
x-------------------------------------------------x
DECISION
CARPIO, J.:
The Case
This is a petition for review[1] of the 9 August 2004[2] and 26 November
2004[3] Resolutions of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 80473. In

its 9 August 2004 Resolution, the Court of Appeals dismissed petitioner


Jordan Chan Pazs (Jordan) appeal of the 13 May 2003 Decision[4] of the
Regional Trial Court of Pasig City, Branch 69 (trial court), which granted
respondent Jeanice Pavon Pazs (Jeanice) petition for declaration of
nullity of marriage. In its 26 November 2004 Resolution, the Court of
Appeals denied Jordans motion for reconsideration.
The Facts
Jordan and Jeanice met sometime in November 1996. Jeanice was only
19 years old while Jordan was 27 years old. In January 1997, they
became a couple and, on 10 May 1997, they were formally
engaged. They had their civil wedding on 3 July 1997, and their church
wedding on 21 September 1997. They have one son, Evan Gaubert, who
was born on 12 February 1998. After a big fight, Jeanice left their
conjugal home on 23 February 1999.
On 15 September 1999, Jeanice filed a petition for declaration of nullity
of marriage against Jordan. Jeanice alleged that Jordan was
psychologically incapable of assuming the essential obligations of
marriage. According to Jeanice, Jordans psychological incapacity was
manifested by his uncontrollable tendency to be self-preoccupied and
self-indulgent, as well as his predisposition to become violent and
abusive whenever his whims and caprices were not satisfied.
Jeanice alleged that Jordan had a tendency to lie about his whereabouts
and had the habit of hanging out and spending a great deal of time with
his friends. Since Jordan worked in their family business, Jordan would
allegedly just stay home, tinker with the Play Station, and ask Jeanice to

lie to his brothers about his whereabouts. Jeanice further alleged that
Jordan was heavily dependent on and attached to his mother. After giving
birth to their son, Jeanice noticed that Jordan resented their son and spent
more time with his friends rather than help her take care of their
son. Jordan also demanded from his mother a steady supply of milk and
diapers for their son.
At the early stage of their marriage, Jeanice said they had petty fights but
that the quarrels turned for the worse and Jordan became increasingly
violent toward her. At one point, Jordan threatened to hurt her with a pair
of scissors. Jeanice also alleged that on 22 February 1999, Jordan
subjected her to verbal lashing and insults and threatened to hit her with a
golf club. Jeanice added that Jordan has not provided any financial
support or visited their son since she left their conjugal home.
Psychologist Cristina R. Gates (Gates) testified that Jordan was afflicted
with Borderline Personality Disorder as manifested in his impulsive
behavior, delinquency and instability.[5] Gates concluded that
Jordans psychological maladies antedate their marriage and are rooted in
his family background. Gates added that with no indication of
reformation, Jordans personality disorder appears to be grave and
incorrigible.
JORDAN DENIED JEANICES ALLEGATIONS. JORDAN ASSERTED
THAT JEANICE EXAGGERATED HER STATEMENTS AGAINST
HIM. JORDAN SAID THAT JEANICE HAS HER OWN PERSONAL
INSECURITIES AND THAT HER ACTIONS SHOWED HER LACK
OF MATURITY, CHILDISHNESS AND EMOTIONAL INABILITY TO
COPE WITH THE STRUGGLES AND CHALLENGES OF
MAINTAINING A MARRIED LIFE.

JORDAN ALSO OBJECTED TO THE PSYCHOLOGICAL REPORT


OFFERED BY JEANICE. JORDAN POINTED OUT THAT HE WAS
NOT SUBJECTED TO ANY INTERVIEW OR PSYCHOLOGICAL
TESTS BY GATES. JORDAN ARGUED THAT GATES
CONCLUSIONS WERE MERE SPECULATIONS, CONJECTURES
AND SUPPOSITIONS FROM THE INFORMATION SUPPLIED BY
JEANICE. JORDAN ALLEGED THAT IT WAS PATENTLY ONESIDED AND IS NOT ADMISSIBLE IN EVIDENCE AS IT WAS
BASED ON HEARSAY STATEMENTS OF JEANICE WHICH WERE
OBVIOUSLY SELF-SERVING. JORDAN SAID HE WANTS JEANICE
BACK AND PRAYED FOR THE DISMISSAL OF THE PETITION.
THE RULING OF THE TRIAL COURT
ON 13 MAY 2003, THE TRIAL COURT GRANTED JEANICES
PETITION. THE TRIAL COURT DECLARED THAT JORDANS
PSYCHOLOGICAL INCAPACITY, WHICH WAS SPECIFICALLY
IDENTIFIED AS BORDERLINE PERSONALITY DISORDER,
DEPRIVED HIM OF THE CAPACITY TO FULLY UNDERSTAND
HIS RESPONSIBILITIES UNDER THE MARITAL BOND. THE
TRIAL COURT FOUND THAT JORDAN WAS PSYCHOLOGICALLY
INCAPACITATED TO COMPLY WITH THE ESSENTIAL
OBLIGATIONS OF MARRIAGE, PARTICULARLY ARTICLES
68[6] AND 70[7] OF THE FAMILY CODE. THE TRIAL COURT ALSO
DECLARED THAT JORDANS PSYCHOLOGICAL INCAPACITY,
BEING ROOTED IN HIS FAMILY BACKGROUND, ANTEDATES
THE MARRIAGE AND THAT WITHOUT ANY SIGN OF

REFORMATION, FOUND THE SAME TO BE GRAVE AND


INCURABLE.
THE DISPOSITVE PORTION OF THE TRIAL COURTS 13 MAY 2003
DECISION READS:
IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, JUDGMENT IS
HEREBY RENDERED DECLARING THE MARRIAGE
BETWEEN PETITIONER JEANICE PAVON PAZ AND
RESPONDENT JORDAN CHAN PAZ CELEBRATED ON
JULY 3, 1997 AND SEPTEMBER 21, 1997 AS NULL AND
VOID AB INITIO ON THE GROUND OF
PSYCHOLOGICAL INCAPACITY ON THE PART OF
RESPONDENT PURSUANT TO ARTICLE 36 OF THE
FAMILY CODE WITH ALL THE EFFECTS PROVIDED
BY LAW. THE COUPLES ABSOLUTE COMMUNITY OF
PROPERTIES [SIC] SHALL BE DISSOLVED IN THE
MANNER HEREIN PROVIDED. AND THE CUSTODY
OVER EVAN SHALL REMAIN WITH THE
PETITIONER, WITHOUT REGARD TO VISITATION
RIGHTS OF THE RESPONDENT AS THE FATHER OF
THE CHILD. FURTHERMORE, THE PARTIES ARE
JOINTLY RESPONSIBLE FOR THE SUPPORT OF THEIR
MINOR CHILD EVAN GUABERT PAVON PAZ.
LET COPIES OF THIS DECISION BE FURNISHED THE LOCAL CIVIL
REGISTRARS OF QUEZON CITY AND PASIG CITY RESPECTIVELY AS WELL
AS THE NATIONAL STATISTICS OFFICE (NSO, CRP, LEGAL DEPARTMENT)
EDSA, QUEZON CITY.
SO ORDERED.[8]

On 6 June 2003, Jordan filed a Notice of Appeal. [9] The trial court
promptly approved Jordans appeal.
ON 10 FEBRUARY 2004, JEANICE FILED A MOTION TO DISMISS
APPEAL WITH THE COURT OF APPEALS.[10] IN HER MOTION,
JEANICE SOUGHT THE IMMEDIATE DISMISSAL OF JORDANS
APPEAL ON THE GROUND THAT JORDAN FAILED TO COMPLY
WITH SECTION 20 OF A.M. NO. 02-11-10-SC[11] WHICH PROVIDES:
SEC. 20. APPEAL.
(1) Pre-condition. No appeal from the decision shall be
allowed unless the appellant has filed a motion for
reconsideration or new trial within fifteen days from notice
of judgment.
ON 9 AUGUST 2004, THE COURT OF APPEALS DISMISSED
JORDANS APPEAL. ACCORDING TO THE COURT OF APPEALS,
THE RULES STATE IN MANDATORY AND CATEGORICAL TERMS
THAT THE FILING OF A MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION OR
NEW TRIAL IS A PRE-CONDITION BEFORE AN APPEAL FROM
THE DECISION IS ALLOWED. THE COURT OF APPEALS ADDED
THAT WHEN THE LAW IS CLEAR AND UNAMBIGUOUS, IT
ADMITS NO ROOM FOR INTERPRETATION BUT MERELY FOR
APPLICATION.
JORDAN FILED A MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION. IN ITS 26
NOVEMBER 2004 RESOLUTION, THE COURT OF APPEALS
DISMISSED THE MOTION.

HENCE, THIS PETITION.


IN A MINUTE RESOLUTION DATED 22 JUNE 2005, WE DENIED
JORDANS PETITION FOR FAILURE TO SUFFICIENTLY SHOW
THAT THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED ANY REVERSIBLE
ERROR IN THE CHALLENGED RESOLUTIONS AS TO WARRANT
THE EXERCISE BY THIS COURT OF ITS DISCRETIONARY
APPELLATE JURISDICTION.[12]
On 18 August 2005, Jordan filed a motion for reconsideration. While
Jordan admits that he failed to file a motion for reconsideration of the
trial courts 13 May 2003 Decision, Jordan submits that Section 20 of
A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC should not have been strictly applied against him
because it took effect only on 15 March 2003, or less than two months
prior to the rendition of the trial courts 13 May 2003 Decision. Moreover,
Jordan enjoins the Court to decide the case on the merits so as to preserve
the sanctity of marriage as enshrined in the Constitution.
JEANICE ALSO FILED AN OPPOSITION TO THE MOTION FOR
RECONSIDERATION ON 1 SEPTEMBER 2005.[13]
IN A MINUTE RESOLUTION DATED 19 SEPTEMBER 2005, WE
GRANTED JORDANS MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION AND
REINSTATED THE PETITION.[14]
JEANICE FILED A MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION. IN A
MINUTE RESOLUTION DATED 5 JUNE 2006, WE DENIED
JEANICES MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION FOR LACK OF
MERIT.[15]

ON 7 AUGUST 2006, JEANICE FILED A SECOND MOTION FOR


RECONSIDERATION.
IN A MINUTE RESOLUTION DATED 20 SEPTEMBER 2006, WE
DENIED JEANICES SECOND MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION
FOR LACK OF MERIT AND REMINDED JEANICE THAT A
SECOND MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION IS A PROHIBITED
PLEADING.[16]

JEANICES PETITION FOR DECLARATION OF NULLITY OF


MARRIAGE IS ANCHORED ON ARTICLE 36 OF THE FAMILY
CODE WHICH PROVIDES:
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.

THE ISSUE
THE ONLY ISSUE LEFT TO BE RESOLVED IS WHETHER JORDAN
IS PSYCHOLOGICALLY INCAPACITATED TO COMPLY WITH THE
ESSENTIAL MARITAL OBLIGATIONS.

THE RULING OF THIS COURT


THE PETITION HAS MERIT.
JEANICE FAILED TO PROVE JORDANS
PSYCHOLOGICAL INCAPACITY

IN SANTOS V. COURT OF APPEALS,[17] THE COURT FIRST


DECLARED THAT PSYCHOLOGICAL INCAPACITY MUST BE
CHARACTERIZED
BY
(A)
GRAVITY;
(B)
JUDICIAL
ANTECEDENCE; AND (C) INCURABILITY. IT MUST BE
CONFINED 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]
IN DIMAYUGA-LAURENA V. COURT OF APPEALS,[19] THE COURT
EXPLAINED:
(A) GRAVITY IT MUST BE GRAVE AND SERIOUS
SUCH THAT THE PARTY WOULD BE INCAPABLE OF

CARRYING OUT THE ORDINARY DUTIES REQUIRED


IN A MARRIAGE;
(B) JUDICIAL ANTECEDENCE IT MUST BE ROOTED IN THE HISTORY OF
THE PARTY ANTEDATING THE MARRIAGE, ALTHOUGH THE OVERT
MANIFESTATIONS MAY EMERGE ONLY AFTER THE MARRIAGE; AND

(C) INCURABILITY IT MUST BE INCURABLE, OR


EVEN IF IT WERE OTHERWISE, THE CURE WOULD
BE BEYOND THE MEANS OF THE PARTY INVOLVED.
[20]

IN GRANTING JEANICES PETITION, THE TRIAL COURT GAVE


CREDENCE TO THE TESTIMONY OF GATES TO SUPPORT ITS
CONCLUSION
THAT
JORDAN
WAS
PSYCHOLOGICALLY
INCAPACITATED TO COMPLY WITH THE ESSENTIAL MARITAL
OBLIGATIONS. GATES DECLARED THAT JORDAN WAS
SUFFERING FROM BORDERLINE PERSONALITY DISORDER AS
MANIFESTED BY HIS BEING A MAMAS BOY AND THAT SUCH WAS
GRAVE AND INCURABLE, ROOTED IN HIS FAMILY BACKGROUND,
[AND] ANTEDATES THE MARRIAGE.
ALTHOUGH THERE IS NO REQUIREMENT THAT A PARTY TO BE
DECLARED PSYCHOLOGICALLY INCAPACITATED SHOULD BE
PERSONALLY EXAMINED BY A PHYSICIAN OR A PSYCHOLOGIST,
THERE IS NEVERTHELESS A NEED TO PROVE THE
PSYCHOLOGICAL INCAPACITY
THROUGH
INDEPENDENT

EVIDENCE ADDUCED BY THE PERSON ALLEGING SAID


DISORDER.[21]
CORRESPONDINGLY, THE PRESENTATION OF EXPERT PROOF
PRESUPPOSES A THOROUGH AND IN-DEPTH ASSESSMENT OF
THE PARTIES BY THE PSYCHOLOGIST OR EXPERT, FOR A
CONCLUSIVE DIAGNOSIS OF A GRAVE, SEVERE AND INCURABLE
PRESENCE OF PSYCHOLOGICAL INCAPACITY.[22]
IN THIS CASE, THE COURT NOTES THAT THE REPORT AND
TESTIMONY OF GATES ON JORDANS PSYCHOLOGICAL
INCAPACITY WERE BASED EXCLUSIVELY ON HER INTERVIEWS
WITH JEANICE AND THE TRANSCRIPT OF STENOGRAPHIC NOTES
OF JEANICES TESTIMONY BEFORE THE TRIAL COURT.[23] GATES
ONLY DIAGNOSED JORDAN FROM THE STATEMENTS OF
JEANICE, WHOSE BIAS IN FAVOR OF HER CAUSE CANNOT BE
DOUBTED. GATES DID NOT ACTUALLY HEAR, SEE AND
EVALUATE JORDAN. GATES TESTIFIED:
Q- AS A LAST QUESTION MADAM WITNESS. SO ALL IN ALL
YOUR CONCLUSIONS HERE ON PAGE 1 TO PAGE 5 OF YOUR
REPORT ARE ALL BASED ON THESTATEMENT AND
PERCEPTION OF THE PETITIONER (JEANICE) ON
THE RESPONDENT (JORDAN)?
A- YES MAM.[24]

Consequently, Gates report and testimony were hearsay evidence since


she had no personal knowledge of the alleged facts she was testifying on.

Gates testimony should have thus been dismissed for being


unscientific and unreliable.[26]
[25]

MOREOVER, CONTRARY TO THE RULING OF THE TRIAL


COURT, JORDANS ALLEGED PSYCHOLOGICAL INCAPACITY
WAS NOT SHOWN TO BE SO GRAVE AND SO PERMANENT AS
TO DEPRIVE HIM OF THE AWARENESS OF THE DUTIES AND
RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE MATRIMONIAL BOND. AT BEST,
JEANICES ALLEGATIONS SHOWED THAT JORDAN WAS
IRRESPONSIBLE, INSENSITIVE, OR EMOTIONALLY
IMMATURE. THE INCIDENTS CITED BY JEANICE DO NOT
SHOW THAT JORDAN SUFFERED FROM GRAVE
PSYCHOLOGICAL MALADIES THAT PARALYZED JORDAN
FROM COMPLYING WITH THE ESSENTIAL OBLIGATIONS OF
MARRIAGE.
WHAT THE LAW REQUIRES TO RENDER A MARRIAGE VOID ON
THE GROUND OF PSYCHOLOGICAL INCAPACITY IS
DOWNRIGHT INCAPACITY, NOT REFUSAL OR NEGLECT OR
DIFFICULTY, MUCH LESS ILL WILL.[27] THE MERE SHOWING OF
IRRECONCILABLE DIFFERENCES AND CONFLICTING
PERSONALITIES DOES NOT CONSTITUTE PSYCHOLOGICAL
INCAPACITY.[28]
IN PEREZ-FERRARIS V. FERRARIS,

[29]

WE SAID:

AS ALL PEOPLE MAY HAVE CERTAIN QUIRKS AND


IDIOSYNCRASIES,
OR
ISOLATED

CHARACTERISTICS ASSOCIATED WITH CERTAIN


PERSONALITY DISORDERS, THERE IS HARDLY A
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.[30]
Furthermore, Gates did not particularly describe the pattern of
behavior which showed that Jordan indeed suffers from Borderline
Personality Disorder. Gates also failed to explain how such a
personality disorder made Jordan psychologically incapacitated to
perform his obligations as a husband.
LIKEWISE, JEANICE WAS NOT ABLE TO ESTABLISH WITH
CERTAINTY THAT JORDANS ALLEGED PSYCHOLOGICAL
INCAPACITY WAS MEDICALLY OR CLINICALLY PERMANENT
OR INCURABLE. GATES TESTIMONY ON THE MATTER WAS
VAGUE AND INCONCLUSIVE. GATES TESTIFIED:
Q - NOW IS THIS DISORDER CURABLE?
A - IF ITS CONTINUING TO THE PRESENT THEREFORE ITS
PERSEVERERATIVE BEHAVIOR. THEN THE POSSIBILITY OF COUNTERING
THE SAME MIGHT BE NIL.[31]

GATES DID NOT ADEQUATELY EXPLAIN HOW SHE CAME TO


THE CONCLUSION THAT JORDANS CONDITION WAS
INCURABLE.

PASIG, BRANCH 69. THE MARRIAGE OF JEANICE PAVON PAZ


TO JORDAN CHAN PAZ SUBSISTS AND REMAINS VALID.

IN SUM, THE TOTALITY OF THE EVIDENCE PRESENTED BY


JEANICE FAILED TO SHOW THAT JORDAN WAS
PSYCHOLOGICALLY INCAPACITATED TO COMPLY WITH THE
ESSENTIAL MARITAL OBLIGATIONS AND THAT SUCH
INCAPACITY WAS GRAVE, INCURABLE, AND EXISTING AT THE
TIME OF THE SOLEMNIZATION OF THEIR MARRIAGE.
IN REPUBLIC V. CABANTUG-BAGUIO,[32] WE SAID:

SO ORDERED.

THE CONSTITUTION SETS OUT A POLICY OF PROTECTING


AND STRENGTHENING THE FAMILY AS THE BASIC SOCIAL
INSTITUTION AND MARRIAGE AS THE FOUNDATION OF THE
FAMILY. MARRIAGE, AS AN INVIOLABLE INSTITUTION
PROTECTED BY THE STATE, CANNOT BE DISSOLVED AT THE
WHIM OF THE PARTIES. IN PETITIONS FOR THE
DECLARATION OF NULLITY OF MARRIAGE, THE BURDEN OF
PROOF TO SHOW THE NULLITY OF MARRIAGE LIES ON THE
PLAINTIFF. ANY DOUBT SHOULD BE RESOLVED IN FAVOR
OF THE EXISTENCE AND CONTINUATION OF THE
MARRIAGE AND AGAINST ITS DISSOLUTION AND NULLITY.

ANTONIO T. CARPIO
Associate Justice

WE CONCUR:

D. BRION
ASSOCIATE JUSTICE

[33]

WHEREFORE,
WE GRANT THE
PETITION. WE SET
ASIDE THE 9 AUGUST 2004 AND 26 NOVEMBER 2004
RESOLUTIONS OF THE COURT OF APPEALS. WEREVERSE THE
13 MAY 2003 DECISION OF THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF

MARIANO C. DEL CASTILLO ROBERTO A. ABAD

ASSOCIATE JUSTICE ASSOCIATE JUSTICE

the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the


case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Courts
Division.

JOSE P. PEREZ
ASSOCIATE JUSTICE

REYNATO S. PUNO
Chief Justice

ATTESTATION
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.

ANTONIO T. CARPIO
Associate Justice
Chairperson

CERTIFICATION
Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, and the
Division Chairpersons Attestation, I certify that the conclusions in

[1]

Under Rule 45 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure.


Rollo, pp. 35-38. Penned by Associate Justice Danilo B. Pine, with Associate Justices Jose L. Sabio,
Jr. and Noel G. Tijam, concurring.
[3]
Id. at 40-41.
[4]
Id. at 103-114. Penned by Judge Lorifel Lacap Pahimna.
[5]
Records, p. 123.
[6]
Article 68 of the Family Code provides:
ART. 68. THE HUSBAND AND WIFE ARE OBLIGATED TO LIVE TOGETHER, OBSERVE
MUTUAL LOVE, RESPECT AND FIDELITY, AND RENDER MUTUAL HELP AND SUPPORT.
[7]
ARTICLE 70 OF THE FAMILY CODE PROVIDES:
ART. 70. THE SPOUSES ARE JOINTLY RESPONSIBLE FOR THE SUPPORT OF THE
FAMILY. THE EXPENSES FOR SUCH SUPPORT AND OTHER CONJUGAL OBLIGATIONS
SHALL BE PAID FROM THE COMMUNITY PROPERTY AND, IN THE ABSENCE THEREOF,
FROM THE INCOME OR FRUITS OF THEIR SEPARATE PROPERTIES. IN CASE OF
INSUFFICIENCY OR ABSENCE OF SAID INCOME OR FRUITS, SUCH OBLIGATION SHALL
BE SATISFIED FROM THEIR SEPARATE PROPERTIES.
[8]
Rollo, pp. 103-114.
[9]
Id. at 115.
[10]
Id. at 117-121.
[11]
RULE ON DECLARATION OF ABSOLUTE NULLITY OF VOID MARRIAGES AND
ANNULMENT OF VOIDABLE MARRIAGES WHICH TOOK EFFECT ON 15 MARCH 2003.
[12]
Rollo, p. 171.
[13]
In a minute Resolution dated 9 November 2005, the Court resolved to note without action Jeanices
Opposition to the Motion for Reconsideration.
[2]

[14]

Rollo, p. 182.
Id. at 317.
[16]
Id. at 330. See Section 2, Rule 52 in relation to Section 4, Rule 56 of the 1997 Rules of
Civil Procedure, as amended.
[17]
310 Phil. 21 (1995).
[18]
ID. AT 40.
[19]
G.R. No. 159220, 22 September 2008, 566 SCRA 154.
[20]
Id. at 162.
[21]
Bier v. Bier, G.R. No. 173294, 27 February 2008, 547 SCRA 123; Republic v. Tanyag-San Jose,
G.R. No. 168328, 28 February 2007, 517 SCRA 123.
[22]
Ngo Te v. Yu-Te, G.R. No. 161793, 13 February 2009, 579 SCRA 193.
[23]
TSN, 15 November 2000, pp. 9-11, 21-24.
[24]
Id. at 52.
[25]
Padilla-Rumbaua v. Rumbaua, G.R. No. 166738, 14 August 2009; Bier v. Bier, supra note 21.
[26]
NAJERA V. NAJERA, G.R. NO. 164817, 3 JULY 2009, 591 SCRA 541; BIER V. BIER, SUPRA
NOTE 21.
[27]
Republic v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 108763, 13 February 1997, 268 SCRA 198.
[28]
Id.
[29]
G.R. No. 162368, 17 July 2006, 495 SCRA 396.
[30]
Id. at 401.
[31]
TSN, 15 November 2000, p. 18.
[32]
G.R. No. 171042, 30 June 2008, 556 SCRA 711.
[33]
Id. at 727.

SECOND DIVISION

[15]

JOCELYN M. SUAZO,
Petitioner,

G.R. No. 164493


Present:
CARPIO, J., Chairperson,
BRION,
DEL CASTILLO,
ABAD, and
PEREZ, JJ.

versus -

Promulgated:
ANGELITO SUAZO and
REPUBLIC OF
THEPHILIPPINES,
Respondents.

March 10, 2010

x---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x

DECISION
BRION, J.:
Republic of the Philippines
Supreme Court
Manila

We resolve the appeal filed by petitioner Jocelyn Suazo (Jocelyn)


from the July 14, 2004 Decision of the Court of Appeals (CA)[1] in CAG.R. CV No. 62443, which reversed the January 29, 1999 judgment of

the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 119, Pasay City in Civil Case
No. 97-1282.[2] The reversed RTC decision nullified Jocelyns marriage
with respondent Angelito Suazo (Angelito) on the ground of
psychological incapacity.
THE FACTS
Jocelyn and Angelito were 16 years old when they first met in June 1985;
they were residents of Laguna at that time. After months of courtship,
Jocelyn went to Manila with Angelito and some friends. Having been
gone for three days, their parents sought Jocelyn and Angelito and after
finding them, brought them back to Bian, Laguna. Soon thereafter,
Jocelyn and Angelitos marriage was arranged and they were married
on March 3, 1986 in a ceremony officiated by the Mayor of Bian.
Without any means to support themselves, Jocelyn and Angelito lived
with Angelitos parents after their marriage. They had by this time stopped
schooling. Jocelyn took odd jobs and worked for Angelitos relatives as
household help. Angelito, on the other hand, refused to work and was
most of the time drunk. Jocelyn urged Angelito to find work and violent
quarrels often resulted because of Jocelyns efforts.
Jocelyn left Angelito sometime in July 1987. Angelito thereafter
found another woman with whom he has since lived. They now have
children.

Ten years after their separation, or on October 8, 1997, Jocelyn filed with
the RTC a petition for declaration of nullity of marriage under Article 36
of the Family Code, as amended. She claimed that Angelito was
psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential obligations of
marriage. In addition to the above historical narrative of their
relationship, she alleged in her complaint:
xxxx
8. That from the time of their marriage up to their separation in July
1987, their relationship had been marred with bitter quarrels which
caused unbearable physical and emotional pains on the part of the
plaintiff because defendant inflicted physical injuries upon her every
time they had a troublesome encounter;
9. That the main reason for their quarrel was always the refusal of the
defendant to work or his indolence and his excessive drinking which
makes him psychologically incapacitated to perform his marital
obligations making life unbearably bitter and intolerable to the
plaintiff causing their separation in fact in July 1987;
10. That such psychological incapacity of the defendant started from
the time of their marriage and became very apparent as time went and
proves to be continuous, permanent and incurable;
xxxx

Angelito did not answer the petition/complaint. Neither did he submit


himself to a psychological examination with psychologist Nedy Tayag
(who was presumably hired by Jocelyn).

The case proceeded to trial on the merits after the trial court found that no
collusion existed between the parties. Jocelyn, her aunt Maryjane
Serrano, and the psychologist testified at the trial.
In her testimony, Jocelyn essentially repeated the allegations in her
petition, including the alleged incidents of physical beating she received
from Angelito. On cross-examination, she remained firm on these
declarations but significantly declared that Angelito had not treated her
violently before they were married.
Asst. Sol. Gen. Kim Briguera:
Q. Can you describe your relationship with the respondent
before you got married?
A. He always go (sic) to our house to court me.
Q. Since you cited violence, after celebration of marriage, will
you describe his behavioural (sic) pattern before you got married?
A. He show (sic) kindness, he always come (sic) to the house.
Q. So you cannot say his behavioral pattern composing of
violent nature before you got married (sic), is there any signs (sic) of
violence?
A. None maam (sic), because we were not sweethearts.
Q. Even to other people?
A. He also quarrel (sic).[3]

Maryjane Serrano corroborated parts of Jocelyns testimony.


When the psychologist took the witness stand, she declared:
Q. What about the respondent, did you also make clinical
interpretation of his behavior?
A. Apparently, the behavior and actuation of the respondent
during the time of the marriage the respondent is suffering from antisocial personality Disorder this is a serious and severe apparently
incurable (sic). This disorder is chronic and long-standing before the
marriage.
Q. And you based your interpretation on the report given by the
petitioner?
A. Based on the psychological examination wherein there is no
pattern of lying when I examined her, the petitioner was found to be
very responsive, coherent, relevant to marital relationship with
respondent.
Q. And the last page of Exhibit E which is your report there is a
statement rather on the last page, last paragraph which state: It is the
clinical opinion of the undersigned that marriage between the two, had
already hit bottom rock (sic) even before the actual celebration of
marriage. Respondent(s) immature, irresponsible and callous
emotionality practically harbors (sic) the possibility of having blissful
relationship. His general behavior fulfill(s) the diagnostic criteria for a
person suffering from Anti Social Personality Disorder. Such disorder
is serious and severe and it interferred (sic) in his capacity to provide
love, caring, concern and responsibility to his family. The disorder is
chronic and long-standing in proportion and appear(s) incurable. The
disorder was present at the time of the wedding and became manifest

thereafter due to stresses and pressure of married life. He apparently


grew up in a dysfunctional family. Could you explain what does
chronic mean?
A. Chronic is a clinical language which means incurable it has
been there long before he entered marriage apparently, it came during
early developmental (sic) Basic trust was not develop (sic).
Q. And this long standing proportion (sic).
A. That no amount of psychological behavioral help to cure
such because psychological disorder are not detrimental to men but to
others particularly and this (sic) because the person who have this kind
of disorder do not know that they have this kind of disorder.
Q. So in other words, permanent?
A. Permanent and incurable.
Q. You also said that this psychological disorder is present
during the wedding or at the time of the wedding or became manifest
thereafter?
A. Yes, maam.

A. The physical abuses on the petitioner also correlated without


any employment exploitative and silent (sic) on the part of the
respondent is clearly Anti-Social Disorder.
Q. Do the respondent know that he has that kind of
psychological disorder (sic)?
A. Usually a person suffering that psychological disorder will
not admit that they are suffering that kind of disorder (sic).
Court:
Q. So because of this Anti-Social Disorder the petitioner suffers
a lot (sic)?
A. Yes, because the petitioner is a victim of hardships of
marital relation to the respondent (sic).
Court:
Q. Was the Anti-Social Personality Disorder also shown to the
parents (sic)?

xxxx
A. Yes, according to the petitioner, respondent never give due
respect more often than not he even shouted at them for no apparent
reason (sic).

Court:
Q. Is there a clinical findings (sic)?

Court:
A. That is the clinical findings. Personality Disorder labeled on
Anti-Social Personality Disorder (sic).
Q. How was shown during the marriage (sic)?

Q. Did you say Anti-Social Disorder incurable (sic)?


A. Yes, sir.

harmonious relationship during the less than one year and one thing
what is significant, respondent allowed wife to work as housemaid
instead of he who should provide and the petitioner never receive and
enjoy her earning for the five months that she work and it is also the
petitioner who took sustainance of the vices. (sic)

Court:
Q. Is there a physical violence (sic)?
A. Actually, I could see the petitioner is tortured mentally of
the respondent (sic).

Q. And because of that Anti-Social disorder he had not shown


love to the petitioner?

Court:
A. From the very start the respondent has no emotion to sustain
the marital relationship but what he need is to sustain his vices thru the
petitioner (sic).

Q. How was the petitioner tortured?


A. She was able to counter-act by the time she was separated
by the respondent (sic).

Court:

Court:

Q. What are the vices?

Q. Do you mean to tell us that Anti-Social disorder is incurable?


A. Yes, sir.

A. Alcohol and gambling.


Court:

Court:
Q. Why did you know?
A. Anti-Social disorder is incurable again because the person
itself, the respondent is not aware that this kind of personality affect
the other party (sic).
Court:
Q. This Anti-Social behavior is naturally affected the petitioner (sic)?
A. They do not have children because more often than not the
respondent is under the influence of alcohol, they do not have peaceful

Q. And this affected psychological incapacity to perform


marital obligation?
A. Not only that up to this time from my clinical analysis of
Anti-Social Personality Disorder, he is good for nothing person.[4]

The psychologist also identified the Psychological Report she


prepared. The Report pertinently states:[5]
Report on the psychological condition of JOCELYN M.
SUAZO, a petitioner for Nullity of Marriage versus ANGELITO D.
SUAZO

GENERAL DATA

direct her energy toward specific goals.Her tolerance for frustration


appears to be at par with her coping mechanism that she is able to
discharge negative trends appropriately.

[This pertains to Jocelyns]


REMARKS :
BRIEF MARITAL HISTORY
[Already cited in full in the psychologists testimony quoted above][6]
xxxx
Husband is Angelito D. Suazo, 28 years old reached 3 rd year
high school, a part time tricycle driver, eldest among 4 siblings. Father
is a machine operator, described to be an alcoholic, womanizer and a
heavy gambler. While mother is a sales agent. It was a common
knowledge within their vicinity that she was also involved in an illicit
relationship. Familial relationship was described to be stormy, chaotic
whose bickering and squabbles were part and parcel of their day to day
living.
TEST RESULTS AND EVALUATION
Projective data reveal an introvert person whose impulse life is
adequately suppressed so much so that it does not create inner tension
and anxiety. She is fully equipped in terms of drives and motivation
particularly in uplifting not, only her socio-emotional image but was as
her morale. She may be sensitive yet capable of containing the effect
of such sensitiveness; in order to remain in goodstead (sic) with her
immediate environment.
She is pictured as a hard-working man (sic) who looks forward
for a better future in spite of difficulties she had gone through in the
past. She is fully aware of external realities of life that she set simple
life goals which is (sic) commensurate with her capabilities and
limitations. However, she needs to prioritize her interest in order to

The Office of the Solicitor General representing the Republic of


the Philippines strongly opposed the petition for declaration of nullity of
the marriage. Through a Certification filed with the RTC, it argued that
the psychologist failed to examine and test Angelito; thus, what she said
about him was purely hearsay.
THE RTC RULING
The RTC annulled the marriage under the following reasoning:
While there is no particular instance setforth (sic) in the law
that a person may be considered as psychologically incapacitated,
there as (sic) some admitted grounds that would render a person to be
unfit to comply with his marital obligation, such as immaturity, i.e.,
lack of an effective sense of rational judgment and responsibility,
otherwise peculiar to infants (like refusal of the husband to support the
family or excessive dependence on parents or peer group approval)
and habitual alcoholism, or the condition by which a person lives for
the next drink and the next drinks (The Family Code of the Phils,
Alicia Sempio-Diy, p.39, 1988 ed.)
The evidence presented by the petitioner and the testimony of
the petitioner and Dr. Tayag, points (sic) to one thing that the petitioner

failed to establish a harmonious family life with the respondent. On the


contrary, the respondent has not shown love and respect to the
petitioner manifested by the formers being irresponsible, immature,
jobless, gambler, drunkard and worst of all a wife beater. The
petitioner, unable to bear any longer the misbehavior and attitude of
the respondent, decided, after one year and four months of messy days,
to leave the respondent.
In this regard, the petitioner was able to prove that right from
the start of her married life with the respondent, she already suffered
from maltreatment, due to physical injuries inflicted upon her and that
she was the one who worked as a housemaid of a relative of her
husband to sustain the latters niece (sic) and because they were living
with her husbands family, she was obliged to do the household chores
an indication that she is a battered wife coupled with the fact that she
served as a servant in his (sic) husbands family.
This situation that the petitioner had underwent may
attributed to the fact that at the time of their marriage, she and
husband are still young and was forced only to said marriage by
relatives. The petitioner and the respondent had never developed
feeling of love and respect, instead, the respondent blamed
petitioners family for said early marriage and not to his own liking.

be
her
her
the
the

Applying the principles and the requisites of psychological incapacity


enunciated by this Court in Santos v. Court of Appeals,[7] the RTC
concluded:
The above findings of the psychologist [referring to the
psychologist testimony quoted above] would only tend to show that
the respondent was, indeed, suffering from psychological incapacity
which is not only grave but also incurable.

Likewise, applying the principles set forth in the case of


Republic vs. Court of Appeals and Molina, 268 SCRA 198, wherein
the Supreme Court held that:
x x x x [At
pertinent Molina ruling]

this

point,

the

RTC

cited

the

The Court is satisfied that the evidence presented and the


testimony of the petitioner and Dr. Familiar (sic) [the psychologist
who testified in this case was Nedy Tayag, not a Dr.
Familiar] attesting that there is psychological incapacity on the part of
the respondent to comply with the essential marital obligations has
been sufficiently and clearly proven and, therefore, petitioner is
entitled to the relief prayed for.
A claim that the marriage is valid as there is no psychological
incapacity of the respondent is a speculation and conjecture and
without moral certainty. This will enhanced (sic) a greater tragedy as
the battered wife/petitioner will still be using the surname of the
respondent, although they are now separated, and a grim and sad
reminder of her husband who made here a slave and a punching bag
during the short span of her marriage with him. The law on annulment
should be liberally construed in favor of an innocent suffering
petitioner otherwise said law will be an instrument to protect persons
with mental illness like the serious anti-social behavior of herein
respondent.[8]

THE CA RULING
The Republic appealed the RTC decision to the CA. The CA reversed the
RTC decision, ruling that:

True, as stated in Marcos vs Marcos 343 SCRA 755, the


guidelines set in Santos vs Court of Appeals and Republic vs Court of
Appeals do not require that a physician personally examine the person
to be declared psychologically incapacitated. The Supreme Court
adopted the totality of evidence approach which allows the fact of
psychological incapacity to be drawn from evidence that medically or
clinically identify the root causes of the illness. If the totality of the
evidence is enough to sustain a finding of psychological incapacity,
then actual medical examination of the person concerned need not be
resorted to. Applied in Marcos, however, the aggregate testimony of
the aggrieved spouse, children, relatives and the social worker were
not found to be sufficient to prove psychological incapacity, in the
absence of any evaluation of the respondent himself, the person whose
mental and psychological capacity was in question.
In the case at bench, there is much scarcer evidence to hold that
the respondent was psychologically incapable of entering into the
marriage state, that is, to assume the essential duties of marriage due to
an underlying psychological illness. Only the wife gave first-hand
testimony on the behavior of the husband, and it is inconclusive. As
observed by the Court in Marcos, the respondent may have failed to
provide material support to the family and has resorted to physical
abuse, but it is still necessary to show that they were manifestations of
a deeper psychological malaise that was clinically or medically
identified. The theory of the psychologist that the respondent was
suffering from an anti-social personality syndrome at the time of the
marriage was not the product of any adequate medical or clinical
investigation. The evidence that she got from the petitioner, anecdotal
at best, could equally show that the behavior of the respondent was
due simply to causes like immaturity or irresponsibility which are not
equivalent to psychological incapacity, Pesca vs Pesca 356 SCRA 588,
or the failure or refusal to work could have been the result of

rebelliousness on the part of one who felt that he had been forced into
a loveless marriage. In any event, the respondent was not under a
permanent compulsion because he had later on shown his ability to
engage in productive work and more stable relationships with
another. The element of permanence or incurability that is one of the
defining characteristic of psychological incapacity is not present.
There is no doubt that for the short period that they were under
the same roof, the married life of the petitioner with the respondent
was an unhappy one. But the marriage cannot for this reason be
extinguished. As the Supreme Court intimates in Pesca, our strict
handling of Article 36 will be a reminder of the inviolability of the
marriage institution in our country and the foundation of the family
that the law seeks to protect. The concept of psychological incapacity
is not to be a mantra to legalize what in reality are convenient excuses
of parties to separate and divorce.

THE PETITION
Jocelyn now comes to us via the present petition to challenge and seek
the reversal of the CA ruling based on the following arguments:
1. The Court of Appeals went beyond what the law says, as it
totally disregarded the legal basis of the RTC in declaring the marriage
null and void Tuason v. Tuason (256 SCRA 158; to be accurate, should
be Tuason v. Court of Appeals) holds that the finding of the Trial Court
as to the existence or non-existence of petitioners psychological
incapacity at the time of the marriage is final and binding on us (the
Supreme Court); petitioner has not sufficiently shown that the trial
courts factual findings and evaluation of the testimonies of private
respondents witnesses vis--vis petitioners defenses are clearly and
manifestly erroneous;

2. Article 36 of the Family Code did not define psychological


incapacity; this omission was intentional to give the courts a wider
discretion to interpret the term without being shackled by statutory
parameters. Article 36 though was taken from Canon 1095 of the New
Code of Canon Law, which gives three conditions that would make a
person unable to contract marriage from mental incapacity as follows:
1095. They are incapable of contracting marriage:
(1) who lack the sufficient use of reason;
(2) who suffer from grave lack of discretion of judgment
concerning essential matrimonial rights and duties which are to
be mutually given and accepted;
(3) who are not capable of assuming the essential
obligations of matrimony due to causes of a psychic nature.

The decision of the RTC, Jocelyn claims, intelligently conforms to


these criteria. The RTC, being clothed with discretionary functions,
applied its finding of psychological incapacity based on existing
jurisprudence and the law itself which gave lower court magistrates
enough latitude to define what constitutes psychological incapacity. On
the contrary, she further claims, the OSG relied on generalities without
being specific on why it is opposed to the dissolution of a marriage that
actually exists only in name.
Simply stated, we face the issue of whether there is basis to nullify
Jocelyns marriage with Angelito under Article 36 of the Family Code.
THE COURTS RULING

We find the petition devoid of merit. The CA committed no


reversible error of law in setting aside the RTC decision, as no basis
exists to declare Jocelyns marriage with Angelito a nullity under Article
36 of the Family Code and its related jurisprudence.
The Law, Molina and Te
Article 36 of the Family Code provides 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.
A unique feature of this law is its intended open-ended application,
as it merely introduced an abstract concept psychological incapacity that
disables compliance with the contractual obligations of marriage without
any concrete definition or, at the very least, an illustrative example. We
must therefore apply the law based on how the concept of psychological
incapacity was shaped and developed in jurisprudence.
Santos v. Court of Appeals[9] declared that psychological
incapacity must be characterized by (a) gravity; (b) juridical
antecedence; and (c) incurability. It 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. It must be


confined to the most serious cases of personality disorders clearly
demonstrative of an utter insensitivity or inability to give meaning and
significance to the marriage.[10]

thereof. Although no example of such incapacity need be given here


so as not to limit the application of the provision under the principle
ofejusdem 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.

The Court laid down more definitive guidelines in the


interpretation and application of the law in Republic v. Court of
Appeals[11] (Molina) as follows:

(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 do's. 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.

(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 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

(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. x x x
(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.[12]

Molina, subsequent jurisprudence holds, merely expounded on the basic


requirements of Santos.[13]
[14]

A later case, Marcos v. Marcos, further clarified that there is no


requirement that the defendant/respondent spouse should be personally
examined by a physician or psychologist as a condition sine qua non for
the declaration of nullity of marriage based on psychological incapacity.
Accordingly, it is no longer necessary to introduce expert opinion in a
petition under Article 36 of the Family Code if the totality of evidence

shows that psychological incapacity exists and its gravity, juridical


antecedence, andincurability can be duly established.[15]
Pesca v. Pesca[16] clarifies that the Molina guidelines apply even to
cases then already pending, under the reasoning that the courts
interpretation or construction establishes the contemporaneous
legislative intent of the law; the latter as so interpreted and construed
would thus constitute a part of that law as of the date the statute is
enacted. It is only when a prior ruling of this Court finds itself later
overruled, and a different view is adopted, that the new doctrine may
have to be applied prospectively in favor of parties who have relied on
the old doctrine and have acted in good faith in accordance therewith
under the familiar rule of lex prospicit, non respicit.
On March 15, 2003, the Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of
Void Marriages and Annulment of Voidable Marriages (A.M. No. 08-1110 SC, Rules) promulgated by the Court took effect. Section 2(d) of the
Rules pertinently provides:
(d) What to allege. A petition under Article 36 of the Family
Code shall specifically allege the complete facts showing that either or
both parties were psychologically incapacitated from complying with
the essential marital obligations of marriage at the time of the
celebration of marriage even if such incapacity becomes manifest only
after its celebration.
The complete facts should allege the physical manifestations, if
any, as are indicative of psychological incapacity at the time of the
celebration of the marriage but expert opinion need not be alleged.

Section 12(d) of the Rules requires a pre-trial brief containing all the
evidence presented, including expert opinion, if any, briefly stating or
describing the nature and purpose of these pieces of evidence. Section
14(b) requires the court to consider during the pre-trial conference the
advisability of receiving expert testimony and such other matters as may
aid in the prompt disposition of the petition. Under Section 17 of the
Rules, the grounds for the declaration of the absolute nullity or
annulment of marriage must be proved.
All cases involving the application of Article 36 of the Family
Code that came to us were invariably decided based on the principles in
the cited cases. This was the state of law and jurisprudence on Article 36
when the Court decided Te v. Yu-Te[17] (Te) which revisited
the Molina guidelines.
Te begins with the observation that the Committee that drafted the
Family Code did not give any examples of psychological incapacity for
fear that by so doing, it would limit the applicability of the provision
under the principle of ejusdem generis; that the Committee desired that
the courts should interpret the provision on a case-to-case basis, guided
by experience, by the findings of experts and researchers in
psychological disciplines, and by decisions of church tribunals that,
although not binding on the civil courts, may be given persuasive effect
since the provision itself was taken from the Canon Law.[18] Te thus

assumes it a basic premise that the law is so designed to allow some


resiliency in its application.[19]
Te then sustained Santos doctrinal value, saying
interpretation is consistent with that of the Canon Law.

that

its

Going back to its basic premise, Te said:


Conscious of the laws intention that it is the courts, on a caseto-case basis, that should determine whether a party to a marriage is
psychologically incapacitated, the Court, in sustaining the lower courts
judgment of annulment in Tuason v. Court of Appeals, ruled that the
findings of the trial court are final and binding on the appellate courts.
Again, upholding the trial courts findings and declaring that its
decision was not a judgment on the pleadings, the Court, in Tsoi v.
Court of Appeals, explained that when private respondent testified
under oath before the lower court and was cross-examined by the
adverse party, she thereby presented evidence in the form of
testimony. Importantly, the Court, aware of parallel decisions of
Catholic marriage tribunals, ruled that the senseless and protracted
refusal of one of the parties to fulfill the marital obligation of
procreating children is equivalent to psychological incapacity.

With this as backdrop, Te launched an attack on Molina. It said that the


resiliency with which the concept should be applied and the case-to-case
basis by which the provision should be interpreted, as so intended by its
framers, had, somehow, been rendered ineffectual by the imposition of a
set of strict standards in Molina. Molina, to Te, has become a strait-

jacket, forcing all sizes to fit into and be bound by it; wittingly or
unwittingly, the Court, in conveniently applying Molina, has allowed
diagnosed sociopaths, schizophrenics, nymphomaniacs, narcissists and
the like, to continuously debase and pervert the sanctity of marriage.
Te then enunciated the principle that each case must be judged, not on the
basis of a priori assumptions, predilections or generalizations, but
according to its own facts. Courts should interpret the provision on a
case-to-case basis, guided by experience, the findings of experts and
researchers in psychological disciplines, and by decisions of church
tribunals.
As a final note though, Te expressly stated that it is not suggesting
the abandonment of Molina, but that, following Antonio v. Reyes, it
merely looked at other perspectives that should also govern the
disposition of petitions for declaration of nullity under Article 36. The
subsequent Ting v. Velez-Ting[20] follows Tes lead when it reiterated
that Te did not abandon Molina; far from abandoning Molina, it simply
suggested the relaxation of its stringent requirements, cognizant of the
explanation given by the Committee on the Revision of the Rules on the
rationale of the Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void
Marriages and Annulment of Voidable Marriages:[21]
To require the petitioner to allege in the petition the particular
root cause of the psychological incapacity and to attach thereto the
verified written report of an accredited psychologist or psychiatrist
have proved to be too expensive for the parties. They adversely affect

access to justice of poor litigants. It is also a fact that there are


provinces where these experts are not available. Thus, the Committee
deemed it necessary to relax this stringent requirement enunciated in
the Molina Case. The need for the examination of a party or parties by
a psychiatrist or clinical psychologist and the presentation of
psychiatric experts shall now be determined by the court during the
pre-trial conference.

Te, therefore, instead of substantially departing from Molina,


[22]
merely stands for a more flexible approach in considering petitions for
declaration of nullity of marriages based on psychological incapacity. It is
also noteworthy for its evidentiary approach in these cases, which it
expounded on as follows:
By the very nature of Article 36, courts, despite having the
primary task and burden of decision-making, must not discount but,
instead, must consider as decisive evidence the expert opinion on
the psychological and mental temperaments of the parties.
xxxx
Hernandez v. Court of Appeals emphasizes the importance of
presenting expert testimony to establish the precise cause of a partys
psychological incapacity, and to show that it existed at the inception of
the marriage. And as Marcos v. Marcos asserts, there is no requirement
that the person to be declared psychologically incapacitated be
personally examined by a physician, if the totality of evidence
presented is enough to sustain a finding of psychological
incapacity. Verily, the evidence must show a link, medical or the
like, between the acts that manifest psychological incapacity and
the psychological disorder itself.

This is not to mention, but we mention nevertheless for


emphasis, that the presentation of expert proof presupposes a
thorough and in-depth assessment of the parties by the
psychologist or expert, for a conclusive diagnosis of a grave, severe
and
incurable
presence
of
psychological
incapacity.
[23]
[Underscoring supplied]

This evidentiary approach is repeated in Ting v. Velez-Ting.[24]


Under this evolutionary development, as shown by the current
string of cases on Article 36 of the Family Code, what should not be
lost on us is the intention of the law to confine the application of
Article 36 to the most serious cases of personality disorders, clearly
demonstrative of an utter insensitivity or inability to give meaning
and significance to the marriage; that the psychological illness that
must have afflicted a party at the inception of the marriage should be
a malady so grave and permanent as to deprive one of awareness of
the duties and responsibilities of the matrimonial bond he or she is
about to assume.[25] It is not enough that the respondent, alleged to be
psychologically incapacitated, had difficulty in complying with his
marital obligations, or was unwilling to perform these obligations. Proof
of a natal or supervening disabling factor an adverse integral element in
the respondents personality structure that effectively incapacitated him
from complying with his essential marital obligations must be shown.
[26]
Mere difficulty, refusal or neglect in the performance of marital
obligations or ill will on the part of the spouse is different from

incapacity rooted in some debilitating psychological condition or illness;


irreconcilable differences, sexual infidelity or perversion, emotional
immaturity and irresponsibility and the like, do not by themselves
warrant a finding of psychological incapacity under Article 36, as the
same may only be due to a persons refusal or unwillingness to assume the
essential obligations of marriage.[27]
If all these sound familiar, they do, for they are but iterations
of Santos juridical
antecedence,
gravity
and
incurability
requisites. This is proof of Santoscontinuing doctrinal validity.
The Present Case
As the CA did, we find Jocelyns evidence insufficient to establish
Angelitos psychological incapacity to perform essential marital
obligations. We so conclude based on our own examination of the
evidence on record, which we were compelled to undertake because of
the differences in the trial court and the appellate courts appreciation and
evaluation of Jocelyns presented evidence.
a. The Expert Opinion Evidence
Both the psychologists testimony and the psychological report did
not conclusively show the root cause, gravity and incurability of
Angelitos alleged psychological condition.

We first note a critical factor in appreciating or evaluating the


expert opinion evidence the psychologists testimony and the
psychological evaluation report that Jocelyn presented. Based on her
declarations in open court, the psychologist evaluated Angelitos
psychological condition only in an indirect manner she derived all her
conclusions from information coming from Jocelyn whose bias for her
cause cannot of course be doubted. Given the source of the information
upon which the psychologist heavily relied upon, the court must evaluate
the evidentiary worth of the opinion with due care and with the
application of the more rigid and stringent set of standards outlined
above, i.e., that there must be a thorough and in-depth assessment of the
parties by the psychologist or expert, for a conclusive diagnosis of a
psychological incapacity that is grave, severe and incurable.
In saying this, we do not suggest that a personal examination of the
party alleged to be psychologically incapacitated is mandatory;
jurisprudence holds that this type of examination is not a mandatory
requirement. While such examination is desirable, we recognize that it
may not be practical in all instances given the oftentimes estranged
relations between the parties. For a determination though of a partys
complete personality profile, information coming from persons intimately
related to him (such as the partys close relatives and friends) may be
helpful. This is an approach in the application of Article 36 that allows
flexibility, at the same time that it avoids, if not totally obliterate, the
credibility gaps spawned by supposedly expert opinion based entirely on
doubtful sources of information.

From these perspectives, we conclude that the psych`ologist, using


meager information coming from a directly interested party, could not
have secured a complete personality profile and could not have
conclusively formed an objective opinion or diagnosis of Angelitos
psychological condition. While the report or evaluation may be
conclusive with respect to Jocelyns psychological condition, this is not
true for Angelitos. The methodology employed simply cannot satisfy the
required depth and comprehensiveness of examination required to
evaluate a party alleged to be suffering from a psychological disorder. In
short, this is not the psychological report that the Court can rely on as
basis for the conclusion that psychological incapacity exists.
Other than this credibility or reliability gap, both the psychologists
report and testimony simply provided a general description of
Angelitos purported anti-social personality disorder, supported by the
characterization of this disorder as chronic, grave and incurable. The
psychologist was conspicuously silent, however, on the bases for her
conclusion or the particulars that gave rise to the characterization she
gave. These particulars are simply not in the Report, and neither can they
be found in her testimony.
For instance, the psychologist testified that Angelitos personality disorder
is chronic or incurable; Angelito has long been afflicted with the disorder
prior to his marriage with Jocelyn or even during his early developmental
stage, as basic trust was not developed. However, she did not support this

declaration with any factual basis. In her Report, she based her
conclusion on the presumption that Angelito apparently grew up in a
dysfunctional family. Quite noticeable, though, is the psychologists own
equivocation on this point she was not firm in her conclusion for she
herself may have realized that it was simply conjectural. The veracity,
too, of this finding is highly suspect, for it was based entirely on Jocelyns
assumed knowledge of Angelitos family background and upbringing.
Additionally, the psychologist merely generalized on the questions
of why and to what extent was Angelitos personality disorder grave and
incurable, and on the effects of the disorder on Angelitos awareness of
and his capability to undertake the duties and responsibilities of marriage.
The psychologist therefore failed to provide the answers to the
more important concerns or requisites of psychological incapacity, all of
which are critical to the success of Jocelyns cause.
b. Jocelyns Testimony
The inadequacy and/or lack of probative value of the psychological
report and the psychologists testimony impel us to proceed to the
evaluation of Jocelyns testimony, to find out whether she provided the
court with sufficient facts to support a finding of Angelitos psychological
incapacity.

Unfortunately,
we
find
Jocelyns
testimony
to
be
insufficient. Jocelyn merely testified on Angelitos habitual drunkenness,
gambling, refusal to seek employment and the physical beatings she
received from him all of which occurred after the marriage. Significantly,
she declared in her testimony that Angelito showed no signs of violent
behavior,assuming this to be indicative of a personality disorder, during
the courtship stage or at the earliest stages of her relationship with
him. She testified on the alleged physical beatings after the marriage, not
before or at the time of the celebration of the marriage. She did not
clarify when these beatings exactly took place whether it was near or at
the time of celebration of the marriage or months or years after. This is a
clear evidentiary gap that materially affects her cause, as the law and its
related jurisprudence require that the psychological incapacity must exist
at the time of the celebration of the marriage.
Habitual drunkenness, gambling and refusal to find a job, while
indicative of psychological incapacity, do not, by themselves, show
psychological incapacity. All these simply indicate difficulty, neglect or
mere refusal to perform marital obligations that, as the cited
jurisprudence holds, cannot be considered to be constitutive of
psychological incapacity in the absence of proof that these are
manifestations of an incapacity rooted in some debilitating psychological
condition or illness.
The physical violence allegedly inflicted on Jocelyn deserves a
different treatment. While we may concede that physical violence on

women indicates abnormal behavioral or personality patterns, such


violence, standing alone, does not constitute psychological
incapacity. Jurisprudence holds that there must be evidence showing a
link, medical or the like, between the acts that manifest psychological
incapacity and the psychological disorder itself. The evidence of this
nexus is irretrievably lost in the present case under our finding that the
opinion of the psychologist cannot be relied upon. Even assuming,
therefore, that Jocelyns account of the physical beatings she received
from Angelito were true, this evidence does not satisfy the requirement of
Article 36 and its related jurisprudence, specifically the Santos requisites.
On the whole, the CA correctly reversed the RTC judgment, whose
factual bases we now find to be clearly and manifestly erroneous. Our
ruling in Tuason recognizing the finality of the factual findings of the
trial court in Article 36 cases (which is Jocelyns main anchor in her
present appeal with us) does not therefore apply in this case. We find that,
on the contrary, the CA correctly applied Article 36 and its related
jurisprudence to the facts and the evidence of the present case.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, we DENY the petition for
lack of merit. We AFFIRM the appealed Decision of the Court of
Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 62443.Costs against the petitioner.

Associate Justice
WE CONCUR:
ANTONIO T. CARPIO
Associate Justice
Chairperson

MARIANO C. DEL CASTILLO


Associate Justice

ROBERTO A. ABAD
Associate Justice

JOSE PORTUGAL PEREZ


Associate Justice
ATTESTATION
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.

-SO ORDERED.
ARTURO D. BRION

ANTONIO T. CARPIO

Associate Justice
Chairperson
CERTIFICATION
Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, and the
Division Chairpersons Attestation, 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.

REYNATO S. PUNO
Chief Justice

[1]

Penned by Associate Justice Mario L. Guaria III, and concurred in by Associate Justice Marina L.
Buzon and Associate Justice Santiago Javier Raada (both retired).
[2]
Penned by Judge Pedro de Leon Gutierrez.
[3]
TSN, March 31, 1998, pp. 16-17.
[4]
TSN, July 16, 1998, pp. 15-22.
[5]
Record, pp. 36-39.
[6]
Parenthetical notes supplied.
[7]
The RTC enumerated the requisites as follows: (1) that psychological incapacity refers to no less
than a mental not physical incapacity; (2) that the law intended psychological incapacity to be
confined to the most serious cases of personality disorders clearly demonstrative of an utter
insensitivity or inability to give meaning and significance to marriage; and (3) that the psychological
condition must exist at the time of the marriage and must be characterized by gravity, juridical
antecedence and incurability. See citation at note 9.

[8]

Parenthetical notes supplied.


310 Phil 21 (1995).
[10]
Id. at 39-40.
[11]
335 Phil. 664 (1997).
[12]
Id. at 676-680.
[13]
See Marcos v. Marcos, 397 Phil. 840, 850 (2000).
[14]
Id.
[15]
Id. at 850.
[16]
408 Phil. 713, 720 (2001).
[17]
G.R. No. 161793, February 13, 2009, 579 SCRA 193.
[18]
Id. at 213.
[19]
Id.
[20]
G.R. No. 166562, March 31, 2009.
[21]
A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC.
[22]
A step that Te, a Third Division case, could not have legally undertaken because the Molina ruling is
an En Banc ruling, in light of Article VIII, Section 4(3) of the Constitution.
[23]
Supra note 16, pp. 231-232.
[24]
Supra note 19.
[25]
See So v. Valera, G.R. No. 150677, June 5, 2009, and Padilla-Rumbaua v. Rumbaua, G.R. No.
166738, August 14, 2009.
[26]
Id., Padilla-Rumbaua v. Rumbaua.
[27]
Navales v. Navales, G.R. No. 167523, June 27, 2008, 556 SCRA 272, 288-289.
[9]

JOSE REYNALDO B. OCHOSA,


Petitioner,

G.R. No. 167459


Present:
CORONA, C.J.,
Chairperson,
VELASCO, JR.,
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO,
DEL CASTILLO, and
PEREZ, JJ.

- versus -

BONA J. ALANO and REPUBLIC


OF THE PHILIPPINES,
Respondents.

Promulgated:

January 26, 2011


x- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x
DECISION

Republic of the Philippines


Supreme Court
Manila
FIRST DIVISION

LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, J.:


This is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the
Rules of Court seeking to set aside the Decision [1] dated October 11, 2004
as well as the Resolution[2]dated March 10, 2005 of the Court of Appeals

in CA-G.R. CV No. 65120, which reversed and set aside the


Decision[3] dated January 11, 1999 of the Regional Trial Court of Makati
City, Branch 140 in Civil Case No. 97-2903. In the said January 11, 1999
Decision, the trial court granted petitioner Jose Reynaldo Ochosas (Jose)
petition for the declaration of nullity of marriage between him and
private respondent Bona J. Alano (Bona).
The relevant facts of this case, as outlined by the Court of Appeals,
are as follows:
It appears that Jose met Bona in August 1973 when he was a
young lieutenant in the AFP while the latter was a seventeen-year-old
first year college drop-out. They had a whirlwind romance that
culminated into sexual intimacy and eventual marriage on 27 October
1973 before the Honorable Judge Cesar S. Principe in Basilan. The
couple did not acquire any property. Neither did they incur any debts.
Their union produced no offspring. In 1976, however, they found an
abandoned and neglected one-year-old baby girl whom they later
registered as their daughter, naming her Ramona Celeste Alano
Ochosa.

In 1987, Jose was charged with rebellion for his alleged


participation in the failed coup detat. He was incarcerated in Camp
Crame.
It appears that Bona was an unfaithful spouse. Even at the
onset of their marriage when Jose was assigned in various parts of the
country, she had illicit relations with other men. Bona apparently did
not change her ways when they lived together at Fort Bonifacio; she
entertained male visitors in her bedroom whenever Jose was out of
their living quarters. On one occasion, Bona was caught by Demetrio
Bajet y Lita, a security aide, having sex with Joses driver, Corporal
Gagarin. Rumors of Bonas sexual infidelity circulated in the military
community. When Jose could no longer bear these rumors, he got a
military pass from his jail warden and confronted Bona.
During their confrontation, Bona admitted her relationship with
Corporal Gagarin who also made a similar admission to Jose. Jose
drove Bona away from their living quarters. Bona left with Ramona
and went to Basilan.
In 1994, Ramona left Bona and came to live with Jose. It is
Jose who is currently supporting the needs of Ramona.

During their marriage, Jose was often assigned to various parts


of the Philippine archipelago as an officer in the AFP. Bona did not
cohabit with him in his posts, preferring to stay in her hometown of
Basilan. Neither did Bona visit him in his areas of assignment, except
in one (1) occasion when Bona stayed with him for four (4) days.

Jose filed a Petition for Declaration of Nullity of Marriage,


docketed as Civil Case No. 97-2903 with the RTC of Makati City,
Branch 140, seeking to nullify his marriage to Bona on the ground of
the latters psychological incapacity to fulfill the essential obligations
of marriage.

Sometime in 1985, Jose was appointed as the Battalion


Commander of the Security Escort Group. He and Bona, along with
Ramona, were given living quarters at Fort Bonifacio, Makati City
where they resided with their military aides.

Summons with a copy of the petition and its annexes were duly
served upon Bona who failed to file any responsive pleading during
the reglementary period.

Pursuant to the order of the trial court, the Public Prosecutor


conducted an investigation to determine whether there was collusion
between the parties. Said prosecutor submitted a report that she issued
a subpoena to both parties but only Jose appeared; hence, it can not be
reasonably determined whether or not there was collusion between
them.
Trial on the merits of the case ensued. Petitioner along with his
two military aides, Gertrudes Himpayan Padernal and Demetrio Bajet
y Lita, testified about respondents marital infidelity during the
marriage.
The fourth and final witness was Elizabeth E. Rondain, a
psychiatrist, who testified that after conducting several tests, she
reached the conclusion that respondent was suffering from histrionic
personality disorder which she described as follows:
Her personality is that she has an excessive
emotion and attention seeking behavior. So therefore
they dont develop sympathy in feelings and they have
difficulty in maintaining emotional intimacy. In the case
of Mr. Ochosa he has been a military man. It is his duty
to be transferred in different areas in the Philippines.
And while he is being transferred from one place to
another because of his assignments as a military man,
Mrs. Bona Alano refused to follow him in all his
assignments. There were only few occasions in which
she followed him. And during those times that they
were not living together, because of the assignments of
Mr. Ochosa she developed extra marital affair with
other man of which she denied in the beginning but in
the latter part of their relationship she admitted it to Mr.
Ochosa that she had relationship with respondents

driver. I believe with this extra marital affair that is her


way of seeking attention and seeking emotions from
other person and not from the husband. And of course,
this is not fulfilling the basic responsibility in a
marriage.
According to Rondain, respondents psychological disorder was
traceable to her family history, having for a father a gambler and a
womanizer and a mother who was a battered wife. There was no
possibility of a cure since respondent does not have an insight of what
is happening to her and refused to acknowledge the reality.
With the conclusion of the witnesses testimonies, petitioner
formally offered his evidence and rested his case.
The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) submitted its
opposition to the petition on the ground that the factual settings in the
case at bench, in no measure at all, can come close to the standards
required to decree a nullity of marriage (Santos v. CA, 240 SCRA 20
[1995]).
In a Decision dated 11 January 1999, the trial court granted
the petition and nullified the parties marriage on the following
findings, viz:
xxxx
Article 36 of the Family Code, as amended,
provides as follows:
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.
Such a ground to be invalidative (sic) of
marriage, the degree of incapacity must exhibit
GRAVITY, ANTECEDENCE and INCURABILITY.
From the evidence presented, the Court finds
that the psychological incapacity of the respondent
exhibited
GRAVITY,
ANTECEDENCE
and
INCURABILITY.
It is grave because the respondent did not carry
out the normal and ordinary duties of marriage and
family shouldered by any average couple existing under
everyday circumstances of life and work. The gravity
was manifested in respondents infidelity as testified to
by the petitioner and his witnesses.
The psychological incapacity of the respondent
could be traced back to respondents history as testified
to by the expert witness when she said that respondents
bad experience during her childhood resulted in her
difficulty in achieving emotional intimacy, hence, her
continuous illicit relations with several men before and
during the marriage.
Considering that persons suffering from this
kind of personality disorder have no insight of their
condition, they will not submit to treatment at all. As in
the case at bar, respondents psychological incapacity

clinically identified as Histrionic Personality Disorder


will remain incurable.[4] (Emphasis supplied.)

Thus, the dispositive portion of the trial court Decision dated


January 11, 1999 read:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby
rendered DECLARING the marriage of JOSE REYNALDO B.
OCHOSA and BONA J. ALANO on October 27, 1973 at Basilan City
VOID AB INITIO on ground of psychological incapacity of the
respondent under Article 36 of the Family Code as amended with all
the effects and consequences provided for by all applicable provisions
of existing pertinent laws.
After this Decision becomes final, let copies thereof be sent to
the Local Civil Registrar of Basilan City who is directed to cancel the
said marriage from its Civil Registry, and the Local Civil Registrar of
Makati City for its information and guidance.[5]

The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) appealed the said ruling
to the Court of Appeals which sided with the OSGs contention that the
trial court erred in granting the petition despite Joses abject failure to
discharge the burden of proving the alleged psychological incapacity of
his wife, Bona, to comply with the essential marital obligations.
Thus, the Court of Appeals reversed and set aside the trial court
Decision in its assailed Decision dated October 11, 2004, the dispositive
portion of which states:

WHEREFORE, the appeal is GRANTED, the appealed


Decision dated 11 January 1999 in Civil Case No. 97-2903 of the
Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Makati City, Branch 140, is accordingly
REVERSED and SET ASIDE, and another is entered DISMISSING
the petition for declaration of nullity of marriage.[6]

Jose filed a Motion for Reconsideration but this was denied by the
Court of Appeals for lack of merit in its assailed Resolution dated March
10, 2005.
Hence, this Petition.
The only issue before this Court is whether or not Bona should be
deemed psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential
marital obligations.
The petition is without merit.
The petition for declaration of nullity of marriage which Jose filed in the
trial court hinges on Article 36 of the Family Code, to wit:
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 the landmark case of Santos v. Court of Appeals,[7] we observed


that psychological incapacity must be characterized by (a) gravity, (b)

juridical antecedence, and (c) incurability. The incapacity must be grave


or serious such that the party would be incapable of carrying out the
ordinary duties required in marriage; it must be rooted in the history of
the party antedating the marriage, although the overt manifestations may
emerge only after marriage; and it must be incurable or, even if it were
otherwise, the cure would be beyond the means of the party involved.
Soon after, incorporating the three basic requirements of
psychological incapacity as mandated in Santos, we laid down
in Republic v. Court of Appeals and Molina[8] the following guidelines in
the interpretation and application of Article 36 of the Family Code:
(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

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 physically 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 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 outburst 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 Article 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.
Ideally subject to our law on evidence what is decreed

as canonically invalid should also be decreed civilly


void.
This is one instance where, in view of the
evident source and purpose of the Family Code
provision, contemporaneous religious interpretation is
to be given persuasive effect. Here, the State and the
Church while remaining independent, separate and
apart from each other shall walk together in synodal
cadence towards the same goal of protecting and
cherishing marriage and the family as the inviolable
base of the nation.
(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.[9] (Citations
omitted.)

In Marcos v. Marcos,[10] we previously held that 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 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.
It is also established in jurisprudence that from these requirements
arise the concept that Article 36 of the Family Code does not really
dissolve a marriage; it simply recognizes that there never was any
marriage in the first place because the affliction already then existing was
so grave and permanent as to deprive the afflicted party of awareness of
the duties and responsibilities of the matrimonial bond he or she was to
assume or had assumed.[11]
A little over a decade since the promulgation of
the Molina guidelines, we made a critical assessment of the same in Ngo
Te v. Yu-Te,[12] to wit:
In hindsight, it may have been inappropriate for the Court to
impose a rigid set of rules, as the one in Molina, in resolving all cases
of psychological incapacity. Understandably, the Court was then
alarmed by the deluge of petitions for the dissolution of marital bonds,
and was sensitive to the OSGs exaggeration of Article 36 as the most
liberal divorce procedure in the world. The unintended consequences
of Molina, however, has taken its toll on people who have to live with
deviant behavior, moral insanity and sociopathic personality anomaly,
which, like termites, consume little by little the very foundation of
their families, our basic social institutions. Far from what was intended
by the Court, Molina has become a strait-jacket, forcing all sizes to fit
into and be bound by it. Wittingly or unwittingly, the Court, in
conveniently applying Molina, has allowed diagnosed sociopaths,
schizophrenics, nymphomaniacs, narcissists and the like, to
continuously debase and pervert the sanctity of marriage. Ironically,

the Roman Rota has annulled marriages on account of the personality


disorders of the said individuals.[13]

However, our critique did not mean that we had declared an


abandonment of the Molina doctrine. On the contrary, we simply
declared and, thus, clarified in the same Tecase that there is a need to
emphasize other perspectives as well which should govern the disposition
of petitions for declaration of nullity under Article 36. Furthermore, we
reiterated in the same case the principle that each case must be judged,
not on the basis of a priori assumptions, predilections or generalizations
but according to its own facts.And, to repeat for emphasis, courts should
interpret the provision on a case-to-case basis; guided by experience, the
findings of experts and researchers in psychological disciplines, and by
decisions of church tribunals.[14]
In the case at bar, the trial court granted the petition for the
declaration of nullity of marriage on the basis of Dr. Elizabeth Rondains
testimony[15] and her psychiatric evaluation report[16] as well as the
individual testimonies of Jose[17] and his military aides - Mrs. Gertrudes
Himpayan Padernal[18] and Corporal Demetrio Bajet.[19]
We are sufficiently convinced, after a careful perusal of the
evidence presented in this case, that Bona had been, on several occasions
with several other men, sexually disloyal to her spouse, Jose. Likewise,
we are persuaded that Bona had indeed abandoned Jose. However, we
cannot apply the same conviction to Joses thesis that the totality of Bonas
acts constituted psychological incapacity as determined by Article 36 of
the Family Code. There is inadequate credible evidence that her defects
were already present at the inception of, or prior to, the marriage. In other

words, her alleged psychological incapacity did not satisfy the


jurisprudential requisite of juridical antecedence.
With regard to Bonas sexual promiscuity prior to her marriage to
Jose, we have only the uncorroborated testimony of Jose made in open
court to support this allegation. To quote the pertinent portion of the
transcript:
Q: So, what was the reason why you have broken with your wife after
several years A: Well, I finally broke up with my wife because I can no longer bear
the torture because of the gossips that she had an affair with
other men, and finally, when I have a chance to confront her
she admitted that she had an affair with other men.
Q: With other men. And, of course this her life with other men of
course before the marriage you have already known
A: Yes, your honor.
Q: So, that this gossips because you said that you thought that this
affair would go to end after your marriage?
A: Yes, I was thinking about that.
Q: So, that after several years she will not change so thats why you
cant bear it anymore?
A: Yes, maam.[20]

Dr. Rondains testimony and psychiatric evaluation report do not


provide evidentiary support to cure the doubtful veracity of Joses onesided assertion. Even if we take into account the psychiatrists conclusion
that Bona harbors a Histrionic Personality Disorder that existed prior to
her marriage with Jose and this mental condition purportedly made her
helplessly prone to promiscuity and sexual infidelity, the same cannot be
taken as credible proof of antecedence since the method by which such
an inference was reached leaves much to be desired in terms of meeting
the standard of evidence required in determining psychological
incapacity.

As a consequence thereof, Dr. Rondain merely relied on her


interview with Jose and his witness, Mrs. Padernal, as well as the court
record of the testimonies of other witnesses, to wit:
Q: And you said you did interviews. Who did the interview?
A: I interviewed Mr. Ochosa and their witness Padernal, maam.
Q: When you say Padernal are you referring to Gertrudes Himpayan
Padernal who testified in this court?
A: Yes, maam.

The psychiatrists findings on Bonas personality profile did not


emanate from a personal interview with the subject herself as admitted by
Dr. Rondain in court, as follows:
Q: How about, you mentioned that the petitioner came for
psychological test, how about the respondent, did she come for
interview and test?

xxxx
Q: Other than the interviews what else did you do in order to evaluate
members of the parties?
A: I also interviewed (sic) the transcript of stenographic notes of the
testimonies of other witnesses, maam.

A: No, maam.

xxxx

Q: Did you try to take her for such?

Q: Was there also a psychological test conducted on the respondent?

A: Yes, maam.

A: Yes, your honor.

Q: And what did she tell you, did she come for an interview?

Q: It was on the basis of the psychological test in which you based


your evaluation report?

A: There was no response, maam.[21]

A: It was based on the psychological test conducted and clinical


interview with the other witnesses, your Honor.[22]

Verily, Dr. Rondain evaluated Bonas psychological condition


indirectly from the information gathered solely from Jose and his
witnesses. This factual circumstance evokes the possibility that the
information fed to the psychiatrist is tainted with bias for Joses cause, in
the absence of sufficient corroboration.
Even if we give the benefit of the doubt to the testimonies at issue
since the trial court judge had found them to be credible enough after
personally witnessing Jose and the witnesses testify in court, we cannot
lower the evidentiary benchmark with regard to information on Bonas
pre-marital history which is crucial to the issue of antecedence in this
case because we have only the word of Jose to rely on. In fact, Bonas
dysfunctional family portrait which brought about her Histrionic
Personality Disorder as painted by Dr. Rondain was based solely on the
assumed truthful knowledge of Jose, the spouse who has the most to gain
if his wife is found to be indeed psychologically incapacitated. No other
witness testified to Bonas family history or her behavior prior to or at the
beginning of the marriage. Both Mrs. Padernal and Corporal Bajet came
to know Bona only during their employment in petitioners
household during the marriage. It is undisputed that Jose and Bona were
married in 1973 while Mrs. Padernal and Corporal Bajet started to live
with petitioners family only in 1980 and 1986, respectively.
We have previously held that, in employing a rigid and stringent
level of evidentiary scrutiny to cases like this, we do not suggest that a
personal examination of the party alleged to be psychologically
incapacitated is mandatory; jurisprudence holds that this type of
examination is not a mandatory requirement. While such examination is

desirable, we recognize that it may not be practical in all instances given


the oftentimes estranged relations between the parties. For a
determination though of a partys complete personality profile,
information coming from persons with personal knowledge of the
juridical antecedents may be helpful. This is an approach in the
application of Article 36 that allows flexibility, at the same time that it
avoids, if not totally obliterate, the credibility gaps spawned by
supposedly expert opinion based entirely on doubtful sources of
information.[23]
However, we have also ruled in past decisions that to make
conclusions and generalizations on a spouses psychological condition
based on the information fed by only one side, similar to what we have
pointed out in the case at bar, is, to the Courts mind, not different from
admitting hearsay evidence as proof of the truthfulness of the content of
such evidence.[24]
Anent the accusation that, even at the inception of their marriage,
Bona did not wish to be with Jose as a further manifestation of her
psychological incapacity, we need only to look at the testimonial records
of Jose and his witnesses to be convinced otherwise, to wit:
JOSE OCHOSAS TESTIMONY:
Q: How long did you stay with your wife?

A: We were married in 1973 and we separated in 1988 but in all those


years there were only few occasions that we were staying
together because most of the time Im in the field.
Q: Now, you said most of the time you were in the field, did you not
your wife come with you in any of your assignments?
A: Never, but sometimes she really visited me and stayed for one (1)
day and then
Q: And, where did your wife stayed when she leaves you?
A: She was staying with her mother in Basilan.
Q: Where were you assigned most of the time?
A: I was assigned in Davao, Zamboanga, Cotabato, Basilan.
Q: And, of course she would come to your place every now and then
because it is not very far
A: No, maam, once in a while only.
Q: Did you not go home to your conjugal home?
A: I have a chanced also to go home because we were allowed to at
least three (3) days every other month.
Q: So, if you start from the marriage up to 1988 so that is 16 years you
were supposed to have been living together?
A: No, actually in 19 middle of 1987 because in 1987 I was in x x x.[25]

GERTRUDES PADERNALS TESTIMONY:


Q: Now, do you know when they lived together as husband and wife?
A: 1979.
Q: And you said that you have known the petitioner and the
respondent in this case because in fact, you lived with them
together in the same quarters. Does the quarters have different
rooms?
A: Yes, maam.
Q: But very near each other?
A: Yes, maam.
Q: You know them because of the proximity of the quarters?
A: Yes, maam.
Q: It was only during this 1980 to 1983, three (3) years that you lived
together that you have a chance to be with the spouses?
xxxx
A: Since 1980 to 1983 we lived together in the same house.
xxxx

Q: Now, Madam Witness, after 1983, where did you reside together
with your husband?
A: In Cagayan de Oro and in 1986 we came back to Manila, in Fort
Bonifacio.
Q: You mean, in the same house where petitioner and the respondent
lived together?
A: Yes. Maam.
Q: How long did you live in the house where the petitioner and the
respondent stay?
A: Twelve years now since 1983 to 1995.
Q: Where was the petitioner working at that time, from 1982 to 1995?
A: He is a soldier, a Colonel.
Q: Do you know where he was assigned during this time?
A: Yes, maam, G-3.
Q: May we know where this G-3 is?
A: Fort Bonifacio, maam.
Q: What about the wife, where does she stay?
A: At Fort Bonifacio, in their house.[26]

DR. ELIZABETH E. RONDAINS TESTIMONY:


Q: Now, they got married in 1973, am I correct?
A: Yes, maam.
Q: But the matter of the work or assignment of the petitioner, he was
assigned in different Provinces or Barangays in the
Philippines?
A: Yes, maam.
Q: Now, when the wife or the respondent in this case did not go with
the husband in different places of his assignment did you ask
her why what was the reason why she did not like to go those
places?
A: She just did not want to. The wife did not go with him because by
transferring from one place to another, she just dont want to go,
she just wanted to stay in Basilan where her hometown is,
maam.
Q: Did the petitioner herein tell you why the respondent dont want to
go with him?
A: Yes, I asked, the answer of the petitioner was she simply did not
want to go with him because she did not want him to be
appointed to far away places.
Q: And would it be that since she did not like to go with the husband
in some far away different assignments she also assumed that
the assignments were in this war regions they were always

fighting considering the place in Basilan they were in fighting


atmosphere?
A: It is possible but he was transferred to Manila and she also refused
to stay in Manila, maam.
Q: When was that that she refused to come to Manila?
A: I think, sometime in 1983, maam. She did not follow immediately.
She stayed with him only for four (4) months, maam.
Q: Now, do you know if the petitioner and the respondent were living
together as husband and wife for this period of time during the
relationship?
A: Yes, maam. After their marriage I believe their relationship was
good for a few months until he was transferred to Julu. I
believe during that time when they were together the husband
was giving an attention to her. The husband was always there
and when the husband transferred to Basilan, the attention was
not there anymore, maam.[27]

It is apparent from the above-cited testimonies that Bona, contrary to


Joses assertion, had no manifest desire to abandon Jose at the beginning
of their marriage and was, in fact, living with him for the most part of
their relationship from 1973 up to the time when Jose drove her away
from their conjugal home in 1988. On the contrary, the record shows that
it was Jose who was constantly away from Bona by reason of his military
duties and his later incarceration. A reasonable explanation for Bonas
refusal to accompany Jose in his military assignments in other parts of
Mindanao may be simply that those locations were known conflict areas

in the seventies. Any doubt as to Bonas desire to live with Jose would
later be erased by the fact that Bona lived with Jose in their conjugal
home in Fort Bonifacio during the following decade.
In view of the foregoing, the badges of Bonas alleged
psychological incapacity, i.e., her sexual infidelity and abandonment, can
only be convincingly traced to the period of time after her marriage to
Jose and not to the inception of the said marriage.
We have stressed time and again that Article 36 of the Family Code is not
to be confused with a divorce law that cuts the marital bond at the time
the causes therefore manifest themselves. It refers to a serious
psychological illness afflicting a party even before the celebration of the
marriage. It is a malady so grave and so permanent as to deprive one of
awareness of the duties and responsibilities of the matrimonial bond one
is about to assume. These marital obligations are those provided under
Articles 68 to 71, 220, 221 and 225 of the Family Code.[28]
While we are not insensitive to petitioners suffering in view of the truly
appalling and shocking behavior of his wife, still, we are bound by
judicial precedents regarding the evidentiary requirements in
psychological incapacity cases that must be applied to the present case.
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED and the assailed
Decision of the Court of Appeals is hereby AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED.

JOSE PORTUGAL PEREZ


Associate Justice

TERESITA J. LEONARDO-DE CASTRO


Associate Justice

WE CONCUR:

RENATO C. CORONA
Chief Justice
Chairperson

PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR.


Associate Justice

CERTIFICATION
Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, I certify
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.

MARIANO C. DEL CASTILLO


Associate Justice

RENATO C. CORONA
Chief Justice

[1]

Rollo, pp. 28-39; penned by Associate Justice Rebecca de Guia-Salvador with Associate Justices
Portia Alio-Hormachuelos and Aurora Santiago-Lagman, concurring.
[2]
Id. at 41.
[3]
Id. at 42-46.
[4]
Id. at 28-33.
[5]
Id. at 46.
[6]
Id. at 39.
[7]
310 Phil. 21, 39 (1995).
[8]
335 Phil. 664 (1997).
[9]
Id. at 676-680.
[10]
397 Phil. 840, 850 (2000).
[11]
Toring v. Toring, G.R. No. 165321, August 3, 2010.
[12]
G.R. No. 161793, February 13, 2009, 579 SCRA 193.
[13]
Id. at 224-225.
[14]
Id. at 228.
[15]
TSN, September 14, 1998.
[16]
Records, pp. 70-74.
[17]
TSN, March 3, 1998.
[18]
TSN, July 1, 1998.
[19]
TSN, August 21, 1998.
[20]
TSN, March 3, 1998, p. 8.
[21]
TSN, September 14, 1998, p. 8.
[22]

Id. at 6-17.

[23]

Suazo v. Suazo, G.R. No. 164493, March 12, 2010.


Padilla-Rumbaua v. Rumbaua, G.R. No. 166738, August 14, 2009, 596 SCRA 157, 181.
TSN, March 3, 1998, pp. 9-10.
TSN, July 1, 1998, pp. 7-10.
TSN, September 14, 1998, pp. 13-15.
Marcos v. Marcos, supra note 10 at 857.

[24]
[25]
[26]
[27]
[28]

CARPIO, J., Chairperson,


- versus - NACHURA,
PERALTA,
ABAD, and
MENDOZA, JJ.
MA. CARIDAD L. DIO, Promulgated:
Respondent. January 19, 2011
x- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - x
SECOND DIVISION
DECISION
ALAIN M. DIO , G.R. No. 178044
CARPIO, J.:

Petitioner,
Present:

The Case

Before the Court is a petition for review assailing the 18 October 2006
Decision and the 12 March 2007 Order of the Regional Trial Court of
Las Pias City, Branch 254 (trial court) in Civil Case No. LP-01-0149.
1

On 30 May 2001, petitioner filed an action for Declaration of Nullity of


Marriage against respondent, citing psychological incapacity under Article
36 of the Family Code. Petitioner alleged that respondent failed in her
marital obligation to give love and support to him, and had abandoned her
responsibility to the family, choosing instead to go on shopping sprees and
gallivanting with her friends that depleted the family assets. Petitioner
further alleged that respondent was not faithful, and would at times become
violent and hurt him.

The Antecedent Facts

Alain M. Dio (petitioner) and


Ma. Caridad L. Dio (respondent) were childhood friends and sweethearts.
They started living together in 1984 until they decided to separate in 1994.
In 1996, petitioner and respondent decided to live together again. On 14
January 1998, they were married before Mayor Vergel Aguilar of
Las Pias City.

Extrajudicial service of summons was effected upon respondent who, at the


time of the filing of the petition, was already living in the United States of
America. Despite receipt of the summons, respondent did not file an answer
to the petition within the reglementary period. Petitioner later learned that
respondent filed a petition for divorce/dissolution of her marriage with
petitioner, which was granted by the Superior Court of California on 25
May 2001. Petitioner also learned that on 5 October 2001, respondent
married a certain Manuel V.Alcantara.

On 30 April 2002, the Office of the Las Pias prosecutor found that there
were no indicative facts of collusion between the parties and the case was
set for trial on the merits.

Dr. Nedy L. Tayag (Dr. Tayag), a clinical psychologist, submitted a


psychological report establishing that respondent was suffering from

Narcissistic Personality Disorder which was deeply ingrained in her system


since her early formative years. Dr. Tayag found that respondents disorder
was long-lasting and by nature, incurable.
In its 18 October 2006 Decision, the trial court granted the petition on the
ground that respondent was psychologically incapacited to comply with the
essential marital obligations at the time of the celebration of the marriage.

The Decision of the Trial Court

The trial court ruled that based on the evidence presented, petitioner was
able to establish respondents psychological incapacity. The trial court ruled
that even without Dr. Tayagspsychological report, the allegations in the
complaint, substantiated in the witness stand, clearly made out a case of
psychological incapacity against respondent. The trial court found that
respondent committed acts which hurt and embarrassed petitioner and the
rest of the family, and that respondent failed to observe mutual love, respect
and fidelity required of her under Article 68 of the Family Code. The trial
court also ruled that respondent abandoned petitioner when she obtained a
divorce abroad and married another man.

The dispositive portion of the trial courts decision reads:

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, judgment is hereby


rendered:

1. Declaring the marriage between plaintiff ALAIN M.


DIO and defendant MA. CARIDAD L. DIO on January
14, 1998, and all its effects under the law, as NULL and
VOID from the beginning; and
2. Dissolving the regime of absolute community of
property.

A DECREE OF ABSOLUTE NULLITY OF MARRIAGE shall only


be issued upon compliance with Article[s] 50 and 51 of the Family
Code.

Let copies of this Decision be furnished the parties, the Office of the
Solicitor General, Office of the City Prosecutor, Las Pias City and the
Office of the Local Civil Registrar of Las Pias City, for their
information and guidance.

SO ORDERED.

Petitioner filed a motion for partial reconsideration questioning the


dissolution of the absolute community of property and the ruling that the
decree of annulment shall only be issued upon compliance with Articles 50
and 51 of the Family Code.

Let copies of this Order be furnished the parties, the Office of the
Solicitor General, the Office of the City Prosecutor of Las Pias City
and the Local Civil Registrar of Las Pias City, for their information
and guidance.
5

In its 12 March 2007 Order, the trial court partially granted the motion and
modified its 18 October 2006 Decision as follows:

Hence, the petition before this Court.


The Issue

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, judgment is hereby


rendered:

1) Declaring the marriage between plaintiff ALAIN M. DIO and


defendant MA. CARIDAD L. DIO on January 14, 1998, and all its
effects under the law, as NULL and VOID from the beginning; and

2) Dissolving the regime of absolute community of property.

A DECREE OF ABSOLUTE NULLITY OF MARRIAGE shall be


issued after liquidation, partition and distribution of the parties
properties under Article 147 of the Family Code.

The sole issue in this case is whether the trial court erred when it ordered
that a decree of absolute nullity of marriage shall only be issued after
liquidation, partition, and distribution of the parties properties under Article
147 of the Family Code.
The Ruling of this Court

The petition has merit.


Petitioner assails the ruling of the trial court ordering that a decree of
absolute nullity of marriage shall only be issued after liquidation, partition,
and distribution of the parties properties under Article 147 of the Family
Code. Petitioner argues that Section 19(1) of the Rule on Declaration of
Absolute Nullity of Null Marriages and Annulment of Voidable
Marriages (the Rule) does not apply to Article 147 of the Family Code.
6

We agree with petitioner.

The Court has ruled in Valdes v. RTC, Branch 102, Quezon City that in a
void marriage, regardless of its cause, the property relations of the parties
during the period of cohabitation is governed either by Article 147 or Article
148 of the Family Code. Article 147 of the Family Code applies to union of
parties who are legally capacitated and not barred by any impediment to
contract marriage, but whose marriage is nonetheless void, such as
petitioner and respondent in the case before the Court.
7

Article 147 of the Family Code provides:

Article 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 formers 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.

For Article 147 of the Family Code to apply, the following elements must be
present:

1. The man and the woman must be capacitated to marry each other;

implemented under the Rule on Liquidation, Partition and


Distribution of Properties.

2. They live exclusively with each other as husband and wife; and
3. Their union is without the benefit of marriage, or their marriage is
void.
9

All these elements are present in this case and there is no question that
Article 147 of the Family Code applies to the property relations between
petitioner and respondent.

The pertinent provisions of the Family Code cited in Section 19(1) of the
Rule are:

Article 50. The effects provided for in paragraphs (2), (3), (4) and (5)
of Article 43 and in Article 44 shall also apply in proper cases to
marriages which are declared void ab initio or annulled by final
judgment under Articles 40 and 45.
10

We agree with petitioner that the trial court erred in ordering that a decree of
absolute nullity of marriage shall be issued only after liquidation, partition
and distribution of the parties properties under Article 147 of the Family
Code. The ruling has no basis because Section 19(1) of the Rule does not
apply to cases governed under Articles 147 and 148 of the Family Code.
Section 19(1) of the Rule provides:

Sec. 19. Decision. - (1) If the court renders a decision granting the
petition, it shall declare therein that the decree of absolute nullity or
decree of annulment shall be issued by the court only after
compliance with Articles 50 and 51 of the Family Code as

The final judgment in such cases 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
previous judicial proceedings.

All creditors of the spouses as well as of the absolute community of


the conjugal partnership shall be notified of the proceedings for
liquidation.

In the partition, the conjugal dwelling and the lot on which it


is situated, shall be adjudicated in accordance with the provisions of
Articles 102 and 129.

Article 51. In said partition, the value of the presumptive legitimes of


all common children, computed as of the date of the final judgment
of the trial court, shall be delivered in cash, property or sound
securities, unless the parties, by mutual agreement judicially
approved, had already provided for such matters.

The children of their guardian, or the trustee of their property, may


ask for the enforcement of the judgment.
The delivery of the presumptive legitimes herein prescribed shall in
no way prejudice the ultimate successional rights of the children
accruing upon the death of either or both of the parents; but the value
of the properties already received under the decree of annulment or
absolute nullity shall be considered as advances on their legitime.

It is clear from Article 50 of the Family Code that Section 19(1) of the Rule
applies only to marriages which are declared void ab initio or annulled by
final judgment under Articles 40 and 45 of the Family Code. In short,
Article 50 of the Family Code does not apply to marriages which are
declared void ab initio under Article 36 of the Family Code, which should
be declared void without waiting for the liquidation of the properties of the
parties.

Article 40 of the Family Code contemplates a situation where a second or


bigamous marriage was contracted. Under Article 40, [t]he absolute nullity
of a previous marriage may be invoked for purposes of remarriage on the
basis solely of a final judgment declaring such previous marriage void. Thus
we ruled:

x x x where the absolute nullity of a previous marriage is sought to be


invoked for purposes of contracting a second marriage, the sole basis
acceptable in law, for said projected marriage to be free from legal
infirmity, is a final judgment declaring a previous marriage void.
11

Article 45 of the Family Code, on the other hand, refers to voidable


marriages, meaning, marriages which are valid until they are set aside by
final judgment of a competent court in an action for annulment. In both
instances under Articles 40 and 45, the marriages are governed either by
absolute community of property or conjugal partnership of gains unless
the parties agree to a complete separation of property in a marriage
settlement entered into before the marriage. Since the property relations of
12

13

14

the parties is governed by absolute community of property or conjugal


partnership of gains, there is a need to liquidate, partition and distribute the
properties before a decree of annulment could be issued. That is not the case
for annulment of marriage under Article 36 of the Family Code because the
marriage is governed by the ordinary rules on co-ownership.

In this case, petitioners marriage to respondent was declared void under


Article 36 of the Family Code and not under Article 40 or 45. Thus, what
governs the liquidation of properties owned in common by petitioner and
respondent are the rules on co-ownership. In Valdes, the Court ruled that the
property relations of parties in a void marriage during the period of
cohabitation is governed either by Article 147 or Article 148 of the Family
Code. The rules on co-ownership apply and the properties of the spouses
should be liquidated in accordance with the Civil Code provisions on coownership. Under Article 496 of the Civil Code, [p]artition may be made by
agreement between the parties or by judicial proceedings. x x x. It is not
necessary to liquidate the properties of the spouses in the same proceeding
for declaration of nullity of marriage.
15

SO ORDERED.

ANTONIO T. CARPIO
Associate Justice
WE CONCUR:

16

ANTONIO EDUARDO B. NACHURA


WHEREFORE, we AFFIRM the Decision of the trial court with
the MODIFICATION that the decree of absolute nullity of the marriage
shall be issued upon finality of the trial courts decision without waiting for
the liquidation, partition, and distribution of the parties properties under
Article 147 of the Family Code.

Associate Justice

ATTESTATION
DIOSDADO M. PERALTA ROBERTO A. ABAD
Associate Justice Associate Justice

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.

ANTONIO T. CARPIO
Associate Justice
JOSE C. MENDOZA

Chairperson

Associate Justice
CERTIFICATION
Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, and the Division
Chairpersons Attestation, I certify 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.

7328 Phil. 1289 (1996).


8Mercado-Fehr v. Bruno Fehr, 460 Phil. 445 (2003).
9Id.

RENATO C. CORONA

10Article 43. The termination of the subsequent marriage referred to in the preceding Article shall
produce the following effects:

Chief Justice
(1) The children of the subsequent marriage conceived prior to its termination shall be
considered legitimate and their custody and support in case of dispute shall be decided by the
court in a proper proceeding;
(2) The absolute community of property or the conjugal partnership, as the case may be, shall
be dissolved and liquidated, but if either spouse contracted said marriage in bad faith, his or
her share of the net profits of the community property or conjugal partnership property shall
be forfeited in favor of the common children or, if there are none, the children of the guilty
spouse by a previous marriage or in default of children, the innocent spouse;
(3) Donations by reason of marriage shall remain valid, except that if the donee contracted the
marriage in bad faith, such donations made to said donee are revoked by operation of law;

1Under Rule 45 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure.


2Rollo, pp. 28-34. Penned by Presiding Judge Gloria Butay Aglugub.

(4) The innocent spouse may revoke the designation of the other spouse who acted in bad
faith as a beneficiary in any insurance policy, even if such designation be stipulated as
irrevocable; and
(5) The spouse who contracted the subsequent marriage in bad faith shall be disqualified to
inherit from the innocent spouse by testate and intestate succession.

3Id. at 45-46.
4Id. at 34.
5Id. at 46.
6A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC, effective 15 March 2003.

Article 40. The absolute nullity of a previous marriage may be invoked for purposes of
remarriage on the basis solely of a final judgment declaring such previous marriage void.

Article 45. A marriage may be annulled for any of the following causes, existing at the time of
the marriage:

15Article 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.
16Supra note 7.

(1) That the party in whose behalf it is sought to have the marriage annulled was eighteen years of age
or over but below twenty-one, and the marriage was solemnized without the consent of the parents,
guardian or person having substitute parental authority over the party, in that order, unless after
attaining the age of twenty-one, such party freely cohabited with the other and both lived together as
husband and wife;
(2) That either party was of unsound mind, unless such party after coming to reason, freely cohabited
with the other as husband and wife;
(3) That the consent of either party was obtained by fraud, unless such party afterwards, with full
knowledge of the facts constituting the fraud, freely cohabited with the other as husband and wife;
(4) That the consent of either party was obtained by force, intimidation or undue influence, unless the
same having disappeared or ceased, such party thereafter freely cohabited with the other as husband
and wife;
(5) That either party was physically incapable of consummating the marriage with the other
and such incapacity continues and appears to be incurable; or
(6) That either party was afflicted with a sexually transmissible disease found to be serious and appears
to be incurable.
11Nicdao Cario v. Yee Cario, 403 Phil. 861 (2001).
12Suntay v. Cojuangco-Suntay, 360 Phil. 932 (1998).
13Article 88 of the Family Code.
14Article 105 of the Family Code.

REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, Petitioner,


vs.
RODOLFO O. DE GRACIA, Respondent.
DECISION
PERLAS-BERNABE, J.:
Assailed in this petition for review on certiorari are the Decision dated June 2, 2005 and
Resolution dated February 3, 2006 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CV No.
69103 which affirmed the Decision dated October 17, 2000 of the Regional Trial Court of
Zamboanga del Norte, Branch 11 (RTC) in Civil Case No. S-665 declaring the marriage
of respondent Rodolfo O. De Gracia (Rodolfo) and Natividad N. Rosalem (Natividad)
void on the ground of psychological incapacity pursuant to Article 36 of the Family Code
of the Philippines (Family Code).
1

The Facts
Rodolfo and Natividad were married on February 15, 1969 at the Parish of St. Vincent
Ferrer in Salug, Zamboanga del Norte. They lived in Dapaon, Sindangan, Zamboanga
del Norte and have two (2) children, namely, Ma. Reynilda R. De Gracia (Ma. Reynilda)
and Ma. Rizza R. De Gracia (Ma. Rizza), who were born on August 20, 1969 and
January 15, 1972, respectively.
6

On December 28, 1998, Rodolfo filed a verified complaint for declaration of nullity of
marriage (complaint) before the RTC, docketed as Civil Case No. S-665, alleging that
Natividad was psychologically incapacitated to comply with her essential marital
obligations. In compliance with the Order dated January 5, 1999 of the RTC, the public
prosecutor conducted an investigation to determine if collusion exists between Rodolfo
and Natividad and found that there was none. Trial on the merits then ensued.
8

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
SECOND DIVISION
G.R. No. 171557

February 12, 2014

In support of his complaint, Rodolfo testified, among others, that he first met Natividad
when they were students at the Barangay High School of Sindangan, and he was forced
to marry her barely three (3) months into their courtship in light of her accidental
pregnancy. At the time of their marriage, he was 21 years old, while Natividad was 18
years of age. He had no stable job and merely worked in the gambling cockpits as
"kristo" and "bangkero sa hantak." When he decided to join and train with the
10

11

army, Natividad left their conjugal home and sold their house without his
consent. Thereafter, Natividad moved to Dipolog City where she lived with a certain
Engineer Terez (Terez), and bore him a child named Julie Ann Terez. After cohabiting
with Terez, Natividad contracted a second marriage on January 11, 1991 with another
man named Antonio Mondarez and has lived since then with the latter in Cagayan de
Oro City. From the time Natividad abandoned them in 1972, Rodolfo was left to take
care of Ma. Reynilda and Ma. Rizza and he exerted earnest efforts to save their
marriage which, however, proved futile because of Natividads psychological incapacity
that appeared to be incurable.

behavioral pattern which in psychiatry constitutes a form of personality disorder that


existed at the time of the parties marriage but manifested only thereafter. It likewise
concurred with Dr. Zalsoss observation that Natividads condition is incurable since it is
deeply rooted within the make-up of her personality. Accordingly, it concluded that
Natividad could not have known, much more comprehend the marital obligations she
was assuming, or, knowing them, could not have given a valid assumption thereof.

12

13

14

15

27

16

17

For her part, Natividad failed to file her answer, as well as appear during trial, despite
service of summons. Nonetheless, she informed the court that she submitted herself for
psychiatric examination to Dr. Cheryl T. Zalsos (Dr. Zalsos) in response to Rodolfos
claims. Rodolfo also underwent the same examination.

The Republic appealed to the CA, averring that there was no showing that Natividads
personality traits constituted psychological incapacity as envisaged under Article 36 of
the Family Code, and that the testimony of the expert witness was not conclusive upon
the court.
28

18

19

The CA Ruling

20

In a Decision dated June 2, 2005, the CA affirmed the ruling of the RTC, finding that
while Natividads emotional immaturity, irresponsibility and promiscuity by themselves do
not necessarily equate to psychological incapacity, "their degree or severity, as duly
testified to by Dr. Zalsos, has sufficiently established a case of psychological disorder so
profound as to render [Natividad] incapacitated to perform her essential marital
obligations."
29

In her two-page psychiatric evaluation report, Dr. Zalsos stated that both Rodolfo and
Natividad were psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential marital
obligations, finding that both parties suffered from "utter emotional immaturity [which] is
unusual and unacceptable behavior considered [as] deviant from persons who abide by
established norms of conduct." As for Natividad, Dr. Zalsos also observed that she
lacked the willful cooperation of being a wife and a mother to her two daughters.
Similarly, Rodolfo failed to perform his obligations as a husband, adding too that he sired
a son with another woman. Further, Dr. Zalsos noted that the mental condition of both
parties already existed at the time of the celebration of marriage, although it only
manifested after. Based on the foregoing, Dr. Zalsos concluded that the "couples union
was bereft of the mind, will and heart for the obligations of marriage."
21

22

30

The Republic moved for reconsideration which was, however, denied in a


Resolution dated February 3, 2006, hence, the instant petition.
31

The Issue Before the Court

23

On February 10, 1999, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), representing petitioner
Republic of the Philippines (Republic), filed an opposition to the complaint, contending
that the acts committed by Natividad did not demonstrate psychological incapacity as
contemplated by law, but are mere grounds for legal separation under the Family Code.
24

25

The RTC Ruling


In a Decision dated October 17, 2000, the RTC declared the marriage between Rodolfo
and Natividad void on the ground of psychological incapacity. It relied on the findings and
testimony of Dr. Zalsos, holding that Natividads emotional immaturity exhibited a
26

The primordial issue in this case is whether or not the CA erred in sustaining the RTCs
finding of psychological incapacity.
The Ruling of the Court
The petition is meritorious.
"Psychological incapacity," as a ground to nullify a marriage under Article 36 of the
Family Code, should refer to no less than a mental not merely 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
32

so expressed in Article 68 of the Family Code, among others, 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. In Santos v. CA (Santos), the Court first declared that psychological
incapacity must be characterized by: (a) gravity (i.e., it must be grave and serious such
that the party would be incapable of carrying out the ordinary duties required in a
marriage); (b) juridical antecedence (i.e., it must be rooted in the history of the party
antedating the marriage, although the overt manifestations may emerge only after the
marriage); and (c) incurability (i.e., it must be incurable, or even if it were otherwise, the
cure would be beyond the means of the party involved). The Court laid down more
definitive guidelines in the interpretation and application of Article 36 of the Family Code
in Republic of the Phils. v. CA, whose salient points are footnoted hereunder. These
guidelines incorporate the basic requirements that the Court established in Santos.
33

34

35

36

37

38

39

40

Keeping with these principles, the Court, in Dedel v. CA, held that therein respondents
emotional immaturity and irresponsibility could not be equated with psychological
incapacity as it was not shown that these acts are manifestations of a disordered
personality which make her completely unable to discharge the essential marital
obligations of the marital state, not merely due to her youth, immaturity or sexual
promiscuity. In the same light, the Court, in the case of Pesca v. Pesca (Pesca), ruled
against a declaration of nullity, as petitioner therein "utterly failed, both in her allegations
in the complaint and in her evidence, to make out a case of psychological incapacity on
the part of respondent, let alone at the time of solemnization of the contract, so as to
warrant a declaration of nullity of the marriage," significantly noting that the "[e]motional
immaturity and irresponsibility, invoked by her, cannot be equated with psychological
incapacity." In Pesca, the Court upheld the appellate courts finding that the petitioner
therein had not established that her husband "showed signs of mental incapacity as
would cause him to be truly incognitive of the basic marital covenant, as so provided for
in Article 68 of the Family Code; that the incapacity is grave, has preceded the marriage
and is incurable; that his incapacity to meet his marital responsibility is because of a
psychological, not physical illness; that the root cause of the incapacity has been
identified medically or clinically, and has been proven by an expert; and that the
incapacity is permanent and incurable in nature."
41

42

43

44

The Court maintains a similar view in this case. Based on the evidence presented, there
exists insufficient factual or legal basis to conclude that Natividads emotional immaturity,
irresponsibility, or even sexual promiscuity, can be equated with psychological incapacity.
1wphi1

The RTC, as affirmed by the CA, heavily relied on the psychiatric evaluation report of Dr.
Zalsos which does not, however, explain in reasonable detail how Natividads condition
could be characterized as grave, deeply-rooted, and incurable within the parameters of
psychological incapacity jurisprudence. Aside from failing to disclose the types of
psychological tests which she administered on Natividad, Dr. Zalsos failed to identify in
her report the root cause of Natividad's condition and to show that it existed at the time of
the parties' marriage. Neither was the gravity or seriousness of Natividad's behavior in
relation to her failure to perform the essential marital obligations sufficiently described in
Dr. Zalsos's report. Further, the finding contained therein on the incurability of Natividad's
condition remains unsupported by any factual or scientific basis and, hence, appears to
be drawn out as a bare conclusion and even self-serving. In the same vein, Dr. Zalsos's
testimony during trial, which is essentially a reiteration of her report, also fails to convince
the Court of her conclusion that Natividad was psychologically incapacitated. Verily,
although expert opm10ns furnished by psychologists regarding the psychological
temperament of parties are usually given considerable weight by the courts, the
existence of psychological incapacity must still be proven by independent
evidence. After poring over the records, the Court, however, does not find any such
evidence sufficient enough to uphold the court a quo's nullity declaration. To the Court's
mind, Natividad's refusal to live with Rodolfo and to assume her duties as wife and
mother as well as her emotional immaturity, irresponsibility and infidelity do not rise to the
level of psychological incapacity that would justify the nullification of the parties'
marriage. Indeed, to be declared clinically or medically incurable is one thing; to refuse or
be reluctant to perform one's duties is another. To hark back to what has been earlier
discussed, psychological incapacity refers only to the most serious cases of personality
disorders clearly demonstrative of an utter insensitivity or inability to give meaning and
significance to the marriage. In the final analysis, the Court does not perceive a disorder
of this nature to exist in the present case. Thus, for these reasons, coupled too with the
recognition that marriage is an inviolable social institution and the foundation of the
family, the instant petition is hereby granted.
45

46

47

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The Decision dated June 2, 2005 and
Resolution dated February 3, 2006 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 69103 are
REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Accordingly, the complaint for declaration of nullity of
marriage filed under Article 36 of the Family Code is DISMISSED.

SO ORDERED.
ESTELA M. PERLAS-BERNABE
Associate Justice

Footnotes

WE CONCUR:

ANTONIO T. CARPIO
Associate Justice
Chairperson
ARTURO D. BRION
Associate Justice

MARIANO C. DEL CASTILLO


Associate Justice

JOSE PORTUGAL PEREZ


Associate Justice
ATT E S TATI 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 Court's Division.
ANTONIO T. CARPIO
Associate Justice
Chairperson, Second Division

Rollo, pp. 28-52.

Id. at 55-68. Penned by Associate Justice Romulo V. Borja, with Associate


Justices Rodrigo F. Lim, Jr. and Normandie B. Pizarro concurring.
2

Id. at 70-72.

Id. at 87-100. Penned by Judge Wilfredo G. Ochotorena.

Executive Order No. 209, as amended, entitled "THE FAMILY CODE OF THE
PHILIPPINES."
5

Records, p. 4.

See rollo, p. 56.

Records, p. 7.

Id. at 8-A.

10

Id. at 83.

C E R TI F I C ATI O N
11

Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, and the Division Chairperson's
Attestation, I certify 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 Court's
Division.

Id. at 83-84.

12

Id. at 84.

13

Id. at 85.

MARIA LOURDES P. A. SERENO


Chief Justice

14

Id. at 89.

15

Id. at 45.

16

Id.

17

Id. at 89-90.

Art. 68. The husband and wife are obliged to live together, observe mutual love,
respect and fidelity, and render mutual help and support.
33

Also includes those provided under Articles 68 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. (See Guideline 6 in Rep. of the
Phils. v. CA, 335 Phil. 664, 678 [1997].)
34

18

Id. at 19-20.

19

Id. at 28.

20

See rollo, p. 94.

35

Santos v. CA, G.R. No. 112019, January 4, 1995, 240 SCRA 20, 40 (1995).

21

Records, pp. 37-38.

36

Id. at 39.

22

Id. at 38.

37

Dimayuga-Laurena v. CA, 587 Phil. 597, 607-608 (2008).

23

Id.

38

Supra note 34.

24

Id. at 9-14.

39

25

See Article 55 of the Family Code.

26

Rollo, pp. 87-100.

27

Id. at 96.

28

CA Rollo, p. 27.

29

Rollo, pp. 55-68.

30

Id. at 67.

31

Id. at 70-72.

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.
32

(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 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, 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.

(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

(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.

xxxx
(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. (Id. at 276-280.)

(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. x x x
(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.

40

Republic v. Galang, G.R. No. 168335, June 6, 2011, 650 SCRA 524, 535-537.

41

466 Phil. 226 (2004).

42

Id. at 233.

43

408 Phil. 713 (2001).

44

Id. at 718.

See Mendoza v. Republic, G.R. No. 157649, November 12, 2012, 685 SCRA
16, 25-32.

FIRST DIVISION

45

46

Republic v. Galang, supra note 40, at 535.

47

See Section 2, Article XV of the 1987 Philippine Constitution.

VALERIO E. KALAW,
Petitioner,

G.R. No. 166357


Present:
CORONA, C.J., Chairperson,
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO,
BERSAMIN,
DEL CASTILLO, and
PEREZ, JJ.

- versus -

MA. ELENA FERNANDEZ,


Respondent.

Promulgated:
September 19, 2011

x------------------------------------------------------------------x

DECISION
DEL CASTILLO, J.:

Republic of the Philippines


Supreme Court
Manila

A finding of psychological incapacity must be supported by well-established


facts. It is the plaintiffs burden to convince the court of the existence of these
facts.
Before the Court is a Petition for Review[1] of the Court of Appeals (CA) May
27, 2004 Decision[2] and December 15, 2004 Resolution[3] in CA-G.R. CV No.

64240, which reversed the trial courts declaration of nullity of the herein
parties marriage. The fallo of the assailed Decision reads:
WHEREFOREthe appeal is GRANTED, and the assailed Decision
is SET ASIDE and VACATED while the petition for declaration of nullity
of marriage is hereby DISMISSED.
SO ORDERED.[4]

Factual Antecedents
Petitioner Valerio E. Kalaw (Tyrone) and respondent Ma. Elena Fernandez
(Malyn) met in 1973. They maintained a relationship and eventually married
in Hong Kong on November 4, 1976.They had four children, Valerio (Rio),
Maria Eva (Ria), Ramon Miguel (Miggy or Mickey), and Jaime Teodoro (Jay).
Shortly after the birth of their youngest son, Tyrone had an extramarital affair
with Jocelyn Quejano (Jocelyn), who gave birth to a son in March 1983.[5]
In May 1985, Malyn left the conjugal home (the house of her Kalaw in-laws)
and her four children with Tyrone.[6] Meanwhile, Tyrone started living with
Jocelyn, who bore him three more children.[7]
In 1990, Tyrone went to the United States (US) with Jocelyn and their
children. He left his four children from his marriage with Malyn in a rented
house in Valle Verde with only a househelp and a driver. [8] The househelp

would just call Malyn to take care of the children whenever any of them got
sick. Also, in accordance with their custody agreement, the children stayed
with Malyn on weekends.[9]
In 1994, the two elder children, Rio and Ria, asked for Malyns permission to
go to Japan for a one-week vacation. Malyn acceded only to learn later that
Tyrone brought the children to the US.[10] After just one year, Ria returned to
the Philippines and chose to live with Malyn.
Meanwhile, Tyrone and Jocelyns family returned to the Philippines and
resumed physical custody of the two younger children, Miggy and
Jay. According to Malyn, from that time on, the children refused to go to her
house on weekends because of alleged weekend plans with their father.[11]
Complaint for declaration of nullity of marriage
On July 6, 1994, nine years since the de facto separation from his wife, Tyrone
filed a petition for declaration of nullity of marriage based on Article 36 of the
Family Code.[12] He alleged that Malyn was psychologically incapacitated to
perform and comply with the essential marital obligations at the time of the
celebration of their marriage. He further claimed that her psychological
incapacity was manifested by her immaturity and irresponsibility towards
Tyrone and their children during their co-habitation, as shown by Malyns
following acts:
1. she left the children without proper care and attention as she
played mahjong all day and all night;

2. she left the house to party with male friends and returned in the
early hours of the following day; and
3. she committed adultery on June 9, 1985, which act Tyrone
discovered in flagrante delicto.[13]

During trial,[14] Tyrone narrated the circumstances of Malyns alleged


infidelity. According to him, on June 9, 1985, he and his brother-in-law,
Ronald Fernandez (Malyns brother), proceeded to Hyatt Hotel and learned that
Malyn was occupying a room with a certain Benjie Guevarra (Benjie). When
he proceeded to the said room, he saw Benjie and Malyn inside.[15] At rebuttal,
Tyrone elaborated that Benjie was wearing only a towel around his waist,
while Malyn was lying in bed in her underwear. After an exchange of words,
he agreed not to charge Malyn with adultery when the latter agreed to
relinquish all her marital and parental rights. [16] They put their agreement in
writing before Atty. Jose Palarca.
Tyrone presented a psychologist, Dr. Cristina Gates (Dr. Gates), and a Catholic
canon law expert, Fr. Gerard Healy, S.J. (Fr. Healy), to testify on Malyns
psychological incapacity.
Dr. Gates explained on the stand that the factual allegations regarding Malyns
behavior her sexual infidelity, habitual mahjong playing, and her frequent
nights-out with friends may reflect a narcissistic personality disorder (NPD).
[17]
NPD is present when a person is obsessed to meet her wants and needs in

utter disregard of her significant others.[18] Malyns NPD is manifest in


her utter neglect of her duties as a mother.[19]
Dr. Gates reported that Malyns personality disorder may have been evident
even prior to her marriage because it is rooted in her family background and
upbringing, which the psychologist gathered to be materially deprived and
without a proper maternal role model.[20]
Dr. Gates based her diagnosis on the facts revealed by her interviews with
Tyrone, Trinidad Kalaw (Tyrones sister-in-law), and the son Miggy. She also
read the transcript of Tyrones court testimony.[21]
Fr. Healy corroborated Dr. Gates assessment. He concluded that Malyn was
psychologically incapacitated to perform her marital duties. [22] He explained
that her psychological incapacity is rooted in her role as the breadwinner of her
family. This role allegedly inflated Malyns ego to the point that her needs
became priority, while her kids and husbands needs became secondary.Malyn
is so self-absorbed that she is incapable of prioritizing her familys needs.
Fr. Healy clarified that playing mahjong and spending time with friends are not
disorders by themselves. They only constitute psychological incapacity
whenever inordinate amounts of time are spent on these activities to the
detriment of ones familial duties.[23] Fr. Healy characterized Malyns
psychological incapacity as grave and incurable.[24]

He based his opinion on his interview with Tyrone, the trial transcripts, as well
as the report of Dr. Natividad Dayan (Dr. Dayan), Malyns expert witness.
[25]
He clarified that he did not verify the truthfulness of the factual allegations
regarding Malyns habits because he believed it is the courts duty to do so.
[26]
Instead, he formed his opinion on the assumption that the factual allegations
are indeed true.
Malyns version
Malyn denied being psychologically incapacitated.[27] While she admitted
playing mahjong, she denied playing as frequently as Tyrone alleged. She
maintained that she did so only two to three times a week and always between
1 p.m. to 6 p.m. only.[28] And in those instances, she always had Tyrones
permission and would often bring the children and their respective yayaswith
her.[29] She maintained that she did not neglect her duties as mother and wife.
Malyn admitted leaving the conjugal home in May 1985. She, however,
explained that she did so only to escape her physically abusive husband.[30] On
the day she left, Tyrone, who preferred to keep Malyn a housewife, was upset
that Malyn was preparing to go to work. He called up the security guards and
instructed them not to let Malyn out of the house. Tyrone then placed cigarette
ashes on Malyns head and proceeded to lock the bedroom doors. Fearing
another beating, Malyn rushed out of their bedroom and into her mother-inlaws room. She blurted that Tyrone would beat her up again so her mother-inlaw gave her P300 to leave the house.[31] She never returned to their conjugal
home.

Malyn explained that she applied for work, against Tyrones wishes, because
she wanted to be self-sufficient. Her resolve came from her discovery that
Tyrone had a son by Jocelyn and had secretly gone to the US with Jocelyn.[32]
Malyn denied the allegation of adultery. She maintained that Benjie only
booked a room at the Hyatt Hotel for her because she was so drunk after
partying with friends. She admitted finding her brother Ronald and Tyrone at
the door of the Hyatt Hotel room, but maintained being fully clothed at that
time.[33] Malyn insisted that she wrote the letter relinquishing all her spousal
and parental rights under duress.[34]
After the Hyatt Hotel incident, Malyn only saw her children by surreptitiously
visiting them in school. She later obtained partial custody of the children as an
incident to the legal separation action filed by Tyrone against her (which action
was subsequently dismissed for lack of interest).
As an affirmative defense, Malyn maintained that it was Tyrone who was
suffering from psychological incapacity, as manifested by his drug
dependence, habitual drinking, womanizing, and physical violence.[35] Malyn
presented Dr. Dayan a clinical psychologist, as her expert witness.
Dr. Dayan interviewed Tyrone, Malyn, Miggy/Mickey, Jay, and Ria for her
psychological evaluation of the spouses. The factual narrations culled from
these interviews reveal that Tyrone found Malyn a lousy mother because of her
mahjong habit,[36] while Malyn was fed up with Tyrones sexual infidelity, drug

habit, and physical abuse.[37] Dr. Dayan determined that both Tyrone and
Malyn were behaviorally immature. They encountered problems because of
their personality differences, which ultimately led to the demise of their
marriage. Her diagnostic impressions are summarized below:
The marriage of Tyrone and Malyn was a mistake from the very
beginning. Both of them were not truly ready for marriage even after two
years of living together and having a child. When Malyn first met Tyrone
who showered her with gifts, flowers, and affection she resisted his
overtures. She made it clear that she could take him or leave him. But the
minute she started to care, she became a different person clingy and
immature, doubting his love, constantly demanding reassurance that she was
the most important person in his life. She became relationship-dependent. It
appears that her style then was when she begins to care for a man, she puts
all her energy into him and loses focus on herself. This imbalance between
thinking and feeling was overwhelming to Tyrone who admitted that the
thought of commitment scared him. Tyrone admitted that when he was in his
younger years, he was often out seeking other women. His interest in them
was not necessarily for sex, just for fun dancing, drinking, or simply flirting.
Both of them seem behaviorally immature. For some time, Malyn adapted to
her husband who was a moody man with short temper and unresolved issues
with parents and siblings. He was a distancer, concerned more about his
work and friends tha[n] he was about spending time with his family. Because
of Malyns and Tyrones backgrounds (both came from families with high
conflicts) they experienced turmoil and chaos in their marriage. The conflicts
they had struggled to avoid suddenly galloped out of control Their individual
personalities broke through, precipitating the demise of their marriage.[38]

Dr. Dayan likewise wrote in her psychological evaluation report that Malyn
exhibited significant, but not severe, dependency, narcissism, and
compulsiveness.[39]
On the stand, the psychologist elaborated that while Malyn had relationship
problems with Tyrone, she appeared to have a good relationship with her kids.
[40]
As for Tyrone, he has commitment issues which prevent him from
committing himself to his duties as a husband. He is unable to remain faithful
to Malyn and is psychologically incapacitated to perform this duty.[41]
Childrens version
The children all stated that both their parents took care of them, provided for
their needs, and loved them. Rio testified that they would accompany their
mother to White Plains on days that she played mahjong with her
friends. None of them reported being neglected or feeling abandoned.
The two elder kids remembered the fights between their parents but it was only
Ria who admitted actually witnessing physical abuse inflicted on her mother.
[42]
The two elder kids also recalled that, after the separation, their mother
would visit them only in school.[43]
The children recalled living in Valle Verde with only the househelp and driver
during the time that their dad was abroad.[44] While they did not live with their
mother while they were housed in Valle Verde, the kids were in agreement that
their mother took care of them on weekends and would see to their

needs. They had a common recollection that the househelp would call their
mother to come and take care of them in Valle Verde whenever any of them
was sick.[45]
Other witnesses
Dr. Cornelio Banaag, Tyrones attending psychiatrist at the Manila Sanitarium,
testified that, for the duration of Tyrones confinement, the couple appeared
happy and the wife was commendable for the support she gave to her spouse.
[46]
He likewise testified that Tyrone tested negative for drugs and was not a
drug dependent.[47]
Malyns brother, Ronald Fernandez, confirmed Tyrones allegation that they
found Malyn with Benjie in the Hyatt hotel room. Contrary to Tyrones version,
he testified that neither he nor Tyrone entered the room, but stayed in the
hallway. He likewise did not recall seeing Benjie or Malyn half-naked.[48]
Tyrone then presented Mario Calma (Mario), who was allegedly part of
Malyns group of friends. He stated on the stand that they would go on nightsout as a group and Malyn would meet with a male musician-friend afterwards.

and Jay; Tyrones live-in partner, Jocelyn;[50] and Tyrone and Malyns only
daughter, Ria. While both parents are financially stable and have positive
relationships with their children, she recommended that the custody of the
minor children be awarded to Malyn. Based on the interviews of family
members themselves, Malyn was shown to be more available to the children
and to exercise better supervision and care. The social worker commended the
fact that even after Malyn left the conjugal home in 1985, she made efforts to
visit her children clandestinely in their respective schools. And while she was
only granted weekend custody of the children, it appeared that she made efforts
to personally attend to their needs and to devote time with them.[51]
On the contrary, Tyrone, who had custody of the children since the couples de
facto separation, simply left the children for several years with only a maid and
a driver to care for them while he lived with his second family abroad. [52] The
social worker found that Tyrone tended to prioritize his second family to the
detriment of his children with Malyn. Given this history during the formative
years of the children, the social worker did not find Tyrone a reliable parent to
whom custody of adolescents may be awarded.
Ruling of the Regional Trial Court[53]

[49]

Social worker
The trial court ordered the court social worker, Jocelyn V. Arre (Arre), to
conduct a social case study on the parties as well as the minor children. Arre
interviewed the parties Tyrone and Malyn; the minor children Miggy/Mickey

After summarizing the evidence presented by both parties, the trial court
concluded that both parties are psychologically incapacitated to perform the
essential marital obligations under the Family Code. The courts Decision is
encapsulated in this paragraph:

From the evidence, it appears that parties are both suffering from
psychological incapacity to perform their essential marital obligations under
Article 36 of the Family Code. The parties entered into a marriage without as
much as understanding what it entails. They failed to commit themselves to
its essential obligations: the conjugal act, the community of life and love, the
rendering of mutual help, the procreation and education of their children to
become responsible individuals. Parties psychological incapacity is grave,
and serious such that both are incapable of carrying out the ordinary duties
required in marriage. The incapacity has been clinically established and was
found to be pervasive, grave and incurable.[54]

The trial court then declared the parties marriage void ab initio pursuant to
Article 36 of the Family Code.[55]
Ruling of the Court of Appeals[56]
Malyn appealed the trial courts Decision to the CA. The CA reversed the trial
courts ruling because it is not supported by the facts on record. Both parties
allegations and incriminations against each other do not support a finding of
psychological incapacity. The parties faults tend only to picture their
immaturity and irresponsibility in performing their marital and familial
obligations.At most, there may be sufficient grounds for a legal separation.
[57]
Moreover, the psychological report submitted by petitioners expert witness,
Dr. Gates, does not explain how the diagnosis of NPD came to be drawn from
the sources. It failed to satisfy the legal and jurisprudential requirements for the
declaration of nullity of marriage.[58]
Tyrone filed a motion for reconsideration[59] but the same was denied
on December 15, 2004.[60]

Petitioners arguments
Petitioner Tyrone argues that the CA erred in disregarding the factual findings
of the trial court, which is the court that is in the best position to appreciate the
evidence. He opines that he has presented preponderant evidence to prove that
respondent is psychologically incapacitated to perform her essential marital
obligations, to wit:
a) the expert witnesses, Dr. Gates and Fr. Healy, proved on the
stand that respondents egocentric attitude, immaturity, self-obsession
and self-centeredness were manifestations of respondents NPD;[61]
b) these expert witnesses proved that respondents NPD is grave
and incurable and prevents her from performing her essential martial
obligations;[62] and
c) that respondents NPD existed at the time of the celebration of
the marriage because it is rooted in her upbringing, family background,
and socialite lifestyle prior to her marriage.[63]
Petitioner stresses that even respondent insisted that their marriage is void
because of psychological incapacity, albeit on petitioners part.[64]
Respondents arguments

Respondent maintains that Tyrone failed to discharge his burden of proving her
alleged psychological incapacity.[65] She argues that the testimonies of her
children and the findings of the court social worker to the effect that she was a
good, loving, and attentive mother are sufficient to rebut Tyrones allegation
that she was negligent and irresponsible.[66]
She assails Dr. Gatess report as one-sided and lacking in depth. Dr. Gates did
not interview her, their common children, or even Jocelyn. Moreover, her
report failed to state that Malyns alleged psychological incapacity was grave
and incurable.[67] Fr. Healys testimony, on the other hand, was based only on
Tyrones version of the facts.[68]
Malyn reiterates the appellate courts ruling that the trial court Decision is
intrinsically defective for failing to support its conclusion of psychological
incapacity with factual findings.
Almost four years after filing her memorandum, respondent apparently had a
change of heart and filed a Manifestation with Motion for Leave to Withdraw
Comment and Memorandum.[69]She manifested that she was no longer
disputing the possibility that their marriage may really be void on the basis of
Tyrones psychological incapacity. She then asked the Court to dispose of the
case with justice.[70] Her manifestation and motion were noted by the Court in
its January 20, 2010 Resolution.[71]
Issue

Whether petitioner has sufficiently proved that respondent suffers from


psychological incapacity
Our Ruling
The petition has no merit. The CA committed no reversible error in setting
aside the trial courts Decision for lack of legal and factual basis.
A petition for declaration of nullity of marriage is governed by Article 36 of the
Family Code which provides:
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.

Psychological incapacity is the downright incapacity or inability to take


cognizance of and to assume the basic marital obligations. [72] The burden of
proving psychological incapacity is on the plaintiff.[73] The plaintiff must prove
that the incapacitated party, based on his or her actions or behavior, suffers a
serious psychological disorder that completely disables him or her from
understanding and discharging the essential obligations of the marital state.
The psychological problem must be grave, must have existed at the time of
marriage, and must be incurable.[74]
In the case at bar, petitioner failed to prove that his wife (respondent) suffers
from psychological incapacity. He presented the testimonies of two supposed

expert witnesses who concluded that respondent is psychologically


incapacitated, but the conclusions of these witnesses were premised on the
alleged acts or behavior of respondent which had not been sufficiently
proven.Petitioners experts heavily relied on petitioners allegations of
respondents constant mahjong sessions, visits to the beauty parlor, going out
with friends, adultery, and neglect of their children. Petitioners experts opined
that respondents alleged habits, when performed constantly to the detriment of
quality and quantity of time devoted to her duties as mother and wife,
constitute a psychological incapacity in the form of NPD.
But petitioners allegations, which served as the bases or underlying
premises of the conclusions of his experts, were not actually proven. In fact,
respondent presented contrary evidence refuting these allegations of the
petitioner.
For instance, petitioner alleged that respondent constantly played mahjong and
neglected their children as a result. Respondent admittedly played mahjong,
but it was not proven that she engaged in mahjong so frequently that
she neglected her duties as a mother and a wife. Respondent refuted
petitioners allegations that she played four to five times a week. She
maintained it was only two to three times a week and always with the
permission of her husband and without abandoning her children at home. The
children corroborated this, saying that they were with their mother when she
played mahjong in their relatives home. Petitioner did not present any proof,
other than his own testimony, that the mahjong sessions were so frequent that
respondent neglected her family. While he intimated that two of his sons

repeated the second grade, he was not able to link this episode to respondents
mahjong-playing. The least that could have been done was to prove the
frequency of respondents mahjong-playing during the years when these two
children were in second grade. This was not done. Thus, while there is no
dispute that respondent played mahjong, its alleged debilitating frequency and
adverse effect on the children were not proven.
Also unproven was petitioners claim about respondents alleged constant visits
to the beauty parlor, going out with friends, and obsessive need for attention
from other men. No proof whatsoever was presented to prove her visits to
beauty salons or her frequent partying with friends. Petitioner presented Mario
(an alleged companion of respondent during these nights-out) in order to prove
that respondent had affairs with other men, but Mario only testified that
respondent appeared to be dating other men. Even assuming arguendo that
petitioner was able to prove that respondent had an extramarital affair with
another man, that one instance of sexual infidelity cannot, by itself, be equated
with obsessive need for attention from other men. Sexual infidelity per se is a
ground for legal separation, but it does not necessarily constitute psychological
incapacity.
Given the insufficiency of evidence that respondent actually engaged in the
behaviors described as constitutive of NPD, there is no basis for concluding
that she was indeed psychologically incapacitated. Indeed, the totality of the
evidence points to the opposite conclusion. A fair assessment of the facts
would show that respondent was not totally remiss and incapable of
appreciating and performing her marital and parental duties. Not once did the
children state that they were neglected by their mother. On the contrary, they
narrated that she took care of them, was around when they were sick, and

cooked the food they like. It appears that respondent made real efforts to see
and take care of her children despite her estrangement from their father.There
was no testimony whatsoever that shows abandonment and neglect of familial
duties. While petitioner cites the fact that his two sons, Rio and Miggy, both
failed the second elementary level despite having tutors, there is nothing to link
their academic shortcomings to Malyns actions.
After poring over the records of the case, the Court finds no factual basis for
the conclusion of psychological incapacity. There is no error in the CAs
reversal of the trial courts ruling that there was psychological incapacity. The
trial courts Decision merely summarized the allegations, testimonies, and
evidence of the respective parties, but it did not actually assess the veracity of
these allegations, the credibility of the witnesses, and the weight of the
evidence. The trial court did not make factual findings which can serve as
bases for its legal conclusion of psychological incapacity.
What transpired between the parties is acrimony and, perhaps, infidelity,
which may have constrained them from dedicating the best of themselves to
each other and to their children. There may be grounds for legal separation, but
certainly not psychological incapacity that voids a marriage.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is DENIED. The Court of
Appeals May 27, 2004 Decision and its December 15, 2004 Resolution in CAG.R. CV No. 64240 areAFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED.

MARIANO C. DEL CASTILLO


Associate Justice
WE CONCUR:

RENATO C. CORONA
Chief Justice
Chairperson

TERESITA J. LEONARDO-DE CASTRO


Associate Justice

LUCAS P. BERSAMIN
Associate Justice

JOSE PORTUGAL PEREZ


Associate Justice

[10]

Id. at 10-11; id. at 259.


TSN dated March 15, 1995, pp. 23-24; Dr. Dayans Psychological Evaluation Report, pp. 7-8;
Records, Vol. I, p. 259.
[12]
Id. at 1-4.
[13]
Id. at 2; Petitioners Memorandum in JDRC Case No. 3100, records, Vol. II, pp. 306-307.
[14]
The case proceeded to trial after the fiscal manifested to the court that there was no collusion between the
parties (Records, Vol. I, p. 45).
[15]
TSN dated January 5, 1995, pp. 16-17.
[16]
Id. at 17-18.
[17]
Psychological Report, Records, Vol. I, pp. 173-175.
[18]
TSN dated February 15, 1995, pp. 6-7.
[19]
Id. at 7.
[20]
Psychological Report, Records, Vol. I, pp. 174-175.
[21]
TSN dated February 15, 1995, p. 4.
[22]
TSN dated June 17, 1998, p. 24.
[23]
Id. at 30-31.
[24]
Id. at 26-27.
[25]
Id. at 22-23.
[26]
Id. at 23.
[27]
Records, Vol. I, pp. 20-21.
[28]
TSN dated July 8, 1998, pp. 5-7.
[29]
Id. at 6-7.
[30]
TSN dated March 15, 1995, pp. 12-13.
[31]
Id. at 11-12.
[32]
Id. at 9-11.
[33]
Id. at 15-17.
[34]
Id. at 17-18.
[35]
Records, Vol. I, p. 21.
[36]
Dr. Dayans Psychological Evaluation Report, p. 13; id. at 259.
[37]
Id. at 4-6; id.
[38]
Id. at 17-18; id.; TSN dated March 14, 1996, p. 10.
[39]
TSN dated January 30, 1996, p. 13.
[40]
Id. at 15.
[41]
TSN dated March 14, 1996, p. 12.
[42]
Social Case Study Report, p. 13 (Records, Vol. I, p. 215); Dr. Dayans Psychological Evaluation
Report, p. 9 (Records, Vol. I, p. 259).
[43]
TSN dated June 8, 1995, p. 6; Dr. Dayans Psychological Evaluation Report, p. 9 (Id.); Rios
deposition, p. 3 (Id. at 356).
[44]
Social Case Study Report, pp. 11 and 13; Records, Vol. I, pp. 213 and 215.
[45]
TSN dated June 8, 1995, p. 9; Social Case Study Report, pp. 11 and 19 (Id. at 213 and 221).
[11]

C E R T I F I C AT I O N
Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, 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.

RENATO C. CORONA
Chief Justice

In lieu of Associate Justice Martin S. Villarama, Jr., per Special Order No. 1080 dated September 13,
2011.
[1]
Rollo, pp. 26-56.
[2]
Id. at 9-20; penned by Associate Justice Roberto A. Barrios and concurred in by Associate Justices
Regalado E. Maambong and Vicente Q. Roxas.
[3]
Id. at 22-23.
[4]
CA Decision, p. 11; rollo, p. 19.
[5]
Social Case Study Report, p. 14; Records, Vol. I, p. 216.
[6]
TSN dated March 15, 1995, pp. 11-12.
[7]
Social Case Study Report, p. 14; Records, Vol. I, p. 216.
[8]
Social Case Study Report, pp. 11 and 13; id. at 213 and 215.
[9]
Dr. Dayans Psychological Evaluation Report, p. 7; id. at 259.

[46]

[56]

[47]

[57]

TSN dated November 20, 1995, pp. 15 and 21.


Id. at 8-10.
[48]
TSN dated January 4, 1996, pp. 4-6.
[49]
TSN dated April 2, 1998, pp. 18-20.
[50]
Tyrone alleges that he married Jocelyn Quejano in 1990 in California, United States of
America after divorcing with Malyn also in California sometime in 1987. There is, however, no
documentary evidence of the divorce and remarriage. There is no allegation that Tyrone had
obtained American citizenship and is indicated in the Social Case Study Report as a Filipino
citizen (Records, Vol. I, p. 219).
[51]
Social Case Study Report, pp. 19-20; id. at 221-222.
[52]
Id.; id.
[53]
Records, Vol. II, pp. 382-389; penned by Judge Jose R. Hernandez of Branch 158 of
the Regional Trial Court of Pasig City.
[54]
RTC Decision, pp. 7-8; id. at 388-389.
[55]
The fallo reads:
WHEREFORE, the marriage between petitioner Valerio Kalaw and respondent Ma. Elena Fernandez celebrated on
November 4, 1976 is declared void ab initio pursuant to the provisions of Article 36 of the Family Code, and of no
further effect.
The provisions of Article[s] 50, 51, and 52 of the Family Code of the Philippines relative to the delivery of their childrens
presumptive legitime shall not apply because parties were not able to prove the existence of any conjugal partnership
of gains.
Upon finality of this Decision, furnish a copy each to the Office of the Local Civil Registrar of Pasig City and the National
Statistics Office, Quezon City for their appropriate action consistent with this Decision.
SO ORDERED. (Id.; id.)

CA rollo, pp. 262-273.


CA Decision, p. 7; CA rollo, p. 268.
[58]
Id. at 11; id. at 272.
[59]
CA rollo, pp. 281-298.
[60]
Id. at 310-311.
[61]
Petitioners Memorandum, pp. 23-26; rollo, pp. 606-609.
[62]
Id. at 13-20; id. at 596-603.
[63]
Id. at 20-22; id. at 603-605.
[64]
Id. at 26-27; id. at 609-610.
[65]
Respondents Memorandum, p. 2; id. at 551.
[66]
Id. at 17-18; id. at 566-567.
[67]
Id. at 19; id. at 568.
[68]
Id. at 20; id. at 569.
[69]
Rollo, pp. 650-654.
[70]
Respondents Manifestation, p. 2; id. at 651.
[71]
Rollo, p. 662.
[72]
Republic v. Iyoy, 507 Phil. 485, 502 (2005), citing Republic v. Court of Appeals, 335 Phil. 664, 678
(1997).
[73]
Republic v. Court of Appeals, 335 Phil. 664, 676 (1997).
[74]
Santos v. Court of Appeals, 310 Phil. 21, 39 (1995).