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G.R. No.

118978 May 23, 1997

PHILIPPINE TELEGRAPH AND TELEPHONE COMPANY, * petitioner,


vs.
NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION and GRACE DE GUZMAN, respondents.

REGALADO, J.:

Seeking relief through the extraordinary writ of certiorari, petitioner Philippine Telegraph and
Telephone Company (hereafter, PT & T) invokes the alleged concealment of civil status and
defalcation of company funds as grounds to terminate the services of an employee. That employee,
herein private respondent Grace de Guzman, contrarily argues that what really motivated PT & T to
terminate her services was her having contracted marriage during her employment, which is
prohibited by petitioner in its company policies. She thus claims that she was discriminated against
in gross violation of law, such a proscription by an employer being outlawed by Article 136 of the
Labor Code.

Grace de Guzman was initially hired by petitioner as a reliever, specifically as a "Supernumerary


Project Worker," for a fixed period from November 21, 1990 until April 20, 1991 vice one C.F.
Tenorio who went on maternity leave.1Under the Reliever Agreement which she signed with
petitioner company, her employment was to be immediately terminated upon expiration of the
agreed period. Thereafter, from June 10, 1991 to July 1, 1991, and from July 19, 1991 to August 8,
1991, private respondent's services as reliever were again engaged by petitioner, this time in
replacement of one Erlinda F. Dizon who went on leave during both periods.2 After August 8, 1991,
and pursuant to their Reliever Agreement, her services were terminated.

On September 2, 1991, private respondent was once more asked to join petitioner company as a
probationary employee, the probationary period to cover 150 days. In the job application form that
was furnished her to be filled up for the purpose, she indicated in the portion for civil status therein
that she was single although she had contracted marriage a few months earlier, that is, on May 26,
1991.3

It now appears that private respondent had made the same representation in the two successive
reliever agreements which she signed on June 10, 1991 and July 8, 1991. When petitioner
supposedly learned about the same later, its branch supervisor in Baguio City, Delia M. Oficial, sent
to private respondent a memorandum dated January 15, 1992 requiring her to explain the
discrepancy. In that memorandum, she was reminded about the company's policy of not accepting
married women for employment.4

In her reply letter dated January 17, 1992, private respondent stated that she was not aware of
PT&T's policy regarding married women at the time, and that all along she had not deliberately
hidden her true civil status.5Petitioner nonetheless remained unconvinced by her explanations.
Private respondent was dismissed from the company effective January 29, 1992,6 which she readily
contested by initiating a complaint for illegal dismissal, coupled with a claim for non-payment of cost
of living allowances (COLA), before the Regional Arbitration Branch of the National Labor Relations
Commission in Baguio City.

At the preliminary conference conducted in connection therewith, private respondent volunteered the
information, and this was incorporated in the stipulation of facts between the parties, that she had
failed to remit the amount of P2,380.75 of her collections. She then executed a promissory note for
that amount in favor of petitioner7. All of these took place in a formal proceeding and with the
agreement of the parties and/or their counsel.

On November 23, 1993, Labor Arbiter Irenarco R. Rimando handed down a decision declaring that
private respondent, who had already gained the status of a regular employee, was illegally
dismissed by petitioner. Her reinstatement, plus payment of the corresponding back wages and
COLA, was correspondingly ordered, the labor arbiter being of the firmly expressed view that the
ground relied upon by petitioner in dismissing private respondent was clearly insufficient, and that it
was apparent that she had been discriminated against on account of her having contracted marriage
in violation of company rules.
On appeal to the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC), said public respondent upheld the
labor arbiter and, in its decision dated April 29, 1994, it ruled that private respondent had indeed
been the subject of an unjust and unlawful discrimination by her employer, PT & T. However, the
decision of the labor arbiter was modified with the qualification that Grace de Guzman deserved to
be suspended for three months in view of the dishonest nature of her acts which should not be
condoned. In all other respects, the NLRC affirmed the decision of the labor arbiter, including the
order for the reinstatement of private respondent in her employment with PT & T.

The subsequent motion for reconsideration filed by petitioner was rebuffed by respondent NLRC in
its resolution of November 9, 1994, hence this special civil action assailing the aforestated decisions
of the labor arbiter and respondent NLRC, as well as the denial resolution of the latter.

1. Decreed in the Bible itself is the universal norm that women should be regarded with love and
respect but, through the ages, men have responded to that injunction with indifference, on the
hubristic conceit that women constitute the inferior sex. Nowhere has that prejudice against
womankind been so pervasive as in the field of labor, especially on the matter of equal employment
opportunities and standards. In the Philippine setting, women have traditionally been considered as
falling within the vulnerable groups or types of workers who must be safeguarded with preventive
and remedial social legislation against discriminatory and exploitative practices in hiring, training,
benefits, promotion and retention.

The Constitution, cognizant of the disparity in rights between men and women in almost all phases of
social and political life, provides a gamut of protective provisions. To cite a few of the primordial
ones, Section 14, Article II8 on the Declaration of Principles and State Policies, expressly recognizes
the role of women in nation-building and commands the State to ensure, at all times, the
fundamental equality before the law of women and men. Corollary thereto, Section 3 of Article
XIII9 (the progenitor whereof dates back to both the 1935 and 1973 Constitution) pointedly requires
the State to afford full protection to labor and to promote full employment and equality of
employment opportunities for all, including an assurance of entitlement to tenurial security of all
workers. Similarly, Section 14 of Article XIII 10 mandates that the State shall protect working women
through provisions for opportunities that would enable them to reach their full potential.

2. Corrective labor and social laws on gender inequality have emerged with more frequency in the
years since the Labor Code was enacted on May 1, 1974 as Presidential Decree No. 442, largely
due to our country's commitment as a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Elimination
of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). 11

Principal among these laws are Republic Act No. 6727 12 which explicitly prohibits discrimination
against women with respect to terms and conditions of employment, promotion, and training
opportunities; Republic Act No. 6955 13which bans the "mail-order-bride" practice for a fee and the
export of female labor to countries that cannot guarantee protection to the rights of women workers;
Republic Act No. 7192 14 also known as the "Women in Development and Nation Building Act," which
affords women equal opportunities with men to act and to enter into contracts, and for appointment,
admission, training, graduation, and commissioning in all military or similar schools of the Armed
Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police; Republic Act No. 7322 15 increasing the
maternity benefits granted to women in the private sector; Republic Act No. 7877 16 which outlaws
and punishes sexual harassment in the workplace and in the education and training environment;
and Republic Act No. 8042, 17 or the "Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995," which
prescribes as a matter of policy, inter alia, the deployment of migrant workers, with emphasis on
women, only in countries where their rights are secure. Likewise, it would not be amiss to point out
that in the Family Code, 18 women's rights in the field of civil law have been greatly enhanced and
expanded.

In the Labor Code, provisions governing the rights of women workers are found in Articles 130 to
138 thereof. Article 130 involves the right against particular kinds of night work while Article 132
ensures the right of women to be provided with facilities and standards which the Secretary of Labor
may establish to ensure their health and safety. For purposes of labor and social legislation, a
woman working in a nightclub, cocktail lounge, massage clinic, bar or other similar establishments
shall be considered as an employee under Article 138. Article 135, on the other hand, recognizes a
woman's right against discrimination with respect to terms and conditions of employment on account
simply of sex. Finally, and this brings us to the issue at hand, Article 136 explicitly prohibits
discrimination merely by reason of the marriage of a female employee.
3. Acknowledged as paramount in the due process scheme is the constitutional guarantee of
protection to labor and security of tenure. Thus, an employer is required, as a condition sine qua
non prior to severance of the employment ties of an individual under his employ, to convincingly
establish, through substantial evidence, the existence of a valid and just cause in dispensing with the
services of such employee, one's labor being regarded as constitutionally protected property.

On the other hand, it is recognized that regulation of manpower by the company falls within the so-
called management prerogatives, which prescriptions encompass the matter of hiring, supervision of
workers, work assignments, working methods and assignments, as well as regulations on the
transfer of employees, lay-off of workers, and the discipline, dismissal, and recall of employees. 19 As
put in a case, an employer is free to regulate, according to his discretion and best business
judgment, all aspects of employment, "from hiring to firing," except in cases of unlawful
discrimination or those which may be provided by law. 20

In the case at bar, petitioner's policy of not accepting or considering as disqualified from work any
woman worker who contracts marriage runs afoul of the test of, and the right against, discrimination,
afforded all women workers by our labor laws and by no less than the Constitution. Contrary to
petitioner's assertion that it dismissed private respondent from employment on account of her
dishonesty, the record discloses clearly that her ties with the company were dissolved principally
because of the company's policy that married women are not qualified for employment in PT & T,
and not merely because of her supposed acts of dishonesty.

That it was so can easily be seen from the memorandum sent to private respondent by Delia M.
Oficial, the branch supervisor of the company, with the reminder, in the words of the latter, that
"you're fully aware that the company is not accepting married women employee (sic), as it was
verbally instructed to you." 21 Again, in the termination notice sent to her by the same branch
supervisor, private respondent was made to understand that her severance from the service was not
only by reason of her concealment of her married status but, over and on top of that, was her
violation of the company's policy against marriage ("and even told you that married women
employees are not applicable [sic] or accepted in our company.") 22 Parenthetically, this seems to be
the curious reason why it was made to appear in the initiatory pleadings that petitioner was
represented in this case only by its said supervisor and not by its highest ranking officers who would
otherwise be solidarily liable with the corporation. 23

Verily, private respondent's act of concealing the true nature of her status from PT & T could not be
properly characterized as willful or in bad faith as she was moved to act the way she did mainly
because she wanted to retain a permanent job in a stable company. In other words, she was
practically forced by that very same illegal company policy into misrepresenting her civil status for
fear of being disqualified from work. While loss of confidence is a just cause for termination of
employment, it should not be simulated. 24 It must rest on an actual breach of duty committed by the
employee and not on the employer's caprices. 25 Furthermore, it should never be used as a
subterfuge for causes which are improper, illegal, or unjustified. 26

In the present controversy, petitioner's expostulations that it dismissed private respondent, not
because the latter got married but because she concealed that fact, does have a hollow ring. Her
concealment, so it is claimed, bespeaks dishonesty hence the consequent loss of confidence in her
which justified her dismissal.

Petitioner would asseverate, therefore, that while it has nothing against marriage, it nonetheless
takes umbrage over the concealment of that fact. This improbable reasoning, with interstitial
distinctions, perturbs the Court since private respondent may well be minded to claim that the
imputation of dishonesty should be the other way around.

Petitioner would have the Court believe that although private respondent defied its policy against its
female employees contracting marriage, what could be an act of insubordination was
inconsequential. What it submits as unforgivable is her concealment of that marriage yet, at the
same time, declaring that marriage as a trivial matter to which it supposedly has no objection. In
other words, PT & T says it gives its blessings to its female employees contracting marriage, despite
the maternity leaves and other benefits it would consequently respond for and which obviously it
would have wanted to avoid. If that employee confesses such fact of marriage, there will be no
sanction; but if such employee conceals the same instead of proceeding to the confessional, she will
be dismissed. This line of reasoning does not impress us as reflecting its true management policy or
that we are being regaled with responsible advocacy.
This Court should be spared the ennui of strained reasoning and the tedium of propositions which
confuse through less than candid arguments. Indeed, petitioner glosses over the fact that it was its
unlawful policy against married women, both on the aspects of qualification and retention, which
compelled private respondent to conceal her supervenient marriage. It was, however, that very
policy alone which was the cause of private respondent's secretive conduct now complained of. It is
then apropos to recall the familiar saying that he who is the cause of the cause is the cause of the
evil caused.

Finally, petitioner's collateral insistence on the admission of private respondent that she supposedly
misappropriated company funds, as an additional ground to dismiss her from employment, is
somewhat insincere and self-serving. Concededly, private respondent admitted in the course of the
proceedings that she failed to remit some of her collections, but that is an altogether different story.
The fact is that she was dismissed solely because of her concealment of her marital status, and not
on the basis of that supposed defalcation of company funds. That the labor arbiter would thus
consider petitioner's submissions on this supposed dishonesty as a mere afterthought, just to bolster
its case for dismissal, is a perceptive conclusion born of experience in labor cases. For, there was no
showing that private respondent deliberately misappropriated the amount or whether her failure to
remit the same was through negligence and, if so, whether the negligence was in nature simple or
grave. In fact, it was merely agreed that private respondent execute a promissory note to refund the
same, which she did, and the matter was deemed settled as a peripheral issue in the labor case.

Private respondent, it must be observed, had gained regular status at the time of her dismissal.
When she was served her walking papers on January 29, 1992, she was about to complete the
probationary period of 150 days as she was contracted as a probationary employee on September
2, 1991. That her dismissal would be effected just when her probationary period was winding down
clearly raises the plausible conclusion that it was done in order to prevent her from earning security
of tenure. 27 On the other hand, her earlier stints with the company as reliever were undoubtedly
those of a regular employee, even if the same were for fixed periods, as she performed activities
which were essential or necessary in the usual trade and business of PT & T. 28 The primary
standard of determining regular employment is the reasonable connection between the activity
performed by the employee in relation to the business or trade of the employer. 29

As an employee who had therefore gained regular status, and as she had been dismissed without
just cause, she is entitled to reinstatement without loss of seniority rights and other privileges and to
full back wages, inclusive of allowances and other benefits or their monetary equivalent. 30 However,
as she had undeniably committed an act of dishonesty in concealing her status, albeit under the
compulsion of an unlawful imposition of petitioner, the three-month suspension imposed by
respondent NLRC must be upheld to obviate the impression or inference that such act should be
condoned. It would be unfair to the employer if she were to return to its fold without any sanction
whatsoever for her act which was not totally justified. Thus, her entitlement to back wages, which
shall be computed from the time her compensation was withheld up to the time of her actual
reinstatement, shall be reduced by deducting therefrom the amount corresponding to her three
months suspension.

4. The government, to repeat, abhors any stipulation or policy in the nature of that adopted by
petitioner PT & T. The Labor Code state, in no uncertain terms, as follows:

Art. 136. Stipulation against marriage. — It shall be unlawful for an employer to


require as a condition of employment or continuation of employment that a woman
shall not get married, or to stipulate expressly or tacitly that upon getting married, a
woman employee shall be deemed resigned or separated, or to actually dismiss,
discharge, discriminate or otherwise prejudice a woman employee merely by reason
of marriage.

This provision had a studied history for its origin can be traced to Section 8 of Presidential Decree
No. 148, 31 better known as the "Women and
Child Labor Law," which amended paragraph (c), Section 12 of Republic Act No. 679, 32 entitled "An
Act to Regulate the Employment of Women and Children, to Provide Penalties for Violations
Thereof, and for Other Purposes." The forerunner to Republic Act No. 679, on the other hand, was
Act No. 3071 which became law on March 16, 1923 and which regulated the employment of women
and children in shops, factories, industrial, agricultural, and mercantile establishments and other
places of labor in the then Philippine Islands.
It would be worthwhile to reflect upon and adopt here the rationalization in Zialcita, et
al. vs. Philippine Air Lines, 33 a decision that emanated from the Office of the President. There, a
policy of Philippine Air Lines requiring that prospective flight attendants must be single and that they
will be automatically separated from the service once they marry was declared void, it being violative
of the clear mandate in Article 136 of the Labor Code with regard to discrimination against married
women. Thus:

Of first impression is the incompatibility of the respondent's policy or regulation with


the codal provision of law. Respondent is resolute in its contention that Article 136 of
the Labor Code applies only to women employed in ordinary occupations and that
the prohibition against marriage of women engaged in extraordinary occupations, like
flight attendants, is fair and reasonable, considering the pecularities of their chosen
profession.

We cannot subscribe to the line of reasoning pursued by respondent. All along, it


knew that the controverted policy has already met its doom as early as March 13,
1973 when Presidential Decree No. 148, otherwise known as the Women and Child
Labor Law, was promulgated. But for the timidity of those affected or their labor
unions in challenging the validity of the policy, the same was able to obtain a
momentary reprieve. A close look at Section 8 of said decree, which amended
paragraph (c) of Section 12 of Republic Act No. 679, reveals that it is exactly the
same provision reproduced verbatim in Article 136 of the Labor Code, which was
promulgated on May 1, 1974 to take effect six (6) months later, or on November 1,
1974.

It cannot be gainsaid that, with the reiteration of the same provision in the new Labor
Code, all policies and acts against it are deemed illegal and therefore abrogated.
True, Article 132 enjoins the Secretary of Labor to establish standards that will
ensure the safety and health of women employees and in appropriate cases shall by
regulation require employers to determine appropriate minimum standards for
termination in special occupations, such as those of flight attendants, but that is
precisely the factor that militates against the policy of respondent. The standards
have not yet been established as set forth in the first paragraph, nor has the
Secretary of Labor issued any regulation affecting flight attendants.

It is logical to presume that, in the absence of said standards or regulations which


are as yet to be established, the policy of respondent against marriage is patently
illegal. This finds support in Section 9 of the New Constitution, which provides:

Sec. 9. The State shall afford protection to labor, promote full employment and
equality in employment, ensure equal work opportunities regardless of sex, race, or
creed, and regulate the relations between workers and employees. The State shall
assure the rights of workers to self-organization, collective bargaining, security of
tenure, and just and humane conditions of work . . . .

Moreover, we cannot agree to the respondent's proposition that termination from


employment of flight attendants on account of marriage is a fair and reasonable
standard designed for their own health, safety, protection and welfare, as no basis
has been laid therefor. Actually, respondent claims that its concern is not so much
against the continued employment of the flight attendant merely by reason of
marriage as observed by the Secretary of Labor, but rather on the consequence of
marriage-pregnancy. Respondent discussed at length in the instant appeal the
supposed ill effects of pregnancy on flight attendants in the course of their
employment. We feel that this needs no further discussion as it had been adequately
explained by the Secretary of Labor in his decision of May 2, 1976.

In a vain attempt to give meaning to its position, respondent went as far as invoking
the provisions of Articles 52 and 216 of the New Civil Code on the preservation of
marriage as an inviolable social institution and the family as a basic social institution,
respectively, as bases for its policy of non-marriage. In both instances, respondent
predicates absence of a flight attendant from her home for long periods of time as
contributory to an unhappy married life. This is pure conjecture not based on actual
conditions, considering that, in this modern world, sophisticated technology has
narrowed the distance from one place to another. Moreover, respondent overlooked
the fact that married flight attendants can program their lives to adapt to prevailing
circumstances and events.

Article 136 is not intended to apply only to women employed in ordinary occupations,
or it should have categorically expressed so. The sweeping intendment of the law, be
it on special or ordinary occupations, is reflected in the whole text and supported by
Article 135 that speaks of non-discrimination on the employment of women.

The judgment of the Court of Appeals in Gualberto, et al. vs. Marinduque Mining & Industrial
Corporation 34considered as void a policy of the same nature. In said case, respondent, in dismissing
from the service the complainant, invoked a policy of the firm to consider female employees in the
project it was undertaking as separated the moment they get married due to lack of facilities for
married women. Respondent further claimed that complainant was employed in the project with an
oral understanding that her services would be terminated when she gets married. Branding the
policy of the employer as an example of "discriminatory chauvinism" tantamount to denying equal
employment opportunities to women simply on account of their sex, the appellate court struck down
said employer policy as unlawful in view of its repugnance to the Civil Code, Presidential Decree No.
148 and the Constitution.

Under American jurisprudence, job requirements which establish employer preference or conditions
relating to the marital status of an employee are categorized as a "sex-plus" discrimination where it
is imposed on one sex and not on the other. Further, the same should be evenly applied and must
not inflict adverse effects on a racial or sexual group which is protected by federal job discrimination
laws. Employment rules that forbid or restrict the employment of married women, but do not apply to
married men, have been held to violate Title VII of the United States Civil Rights Act of 1964, the
main federal statute prohibiting job discrimination against employees and applicants on the basis of,
among other things, sex. 35

Further, it is not relevant that the rule is not directed against all women but just against married
women. And, where the employer discriminates against married women, but not against married
men, the variable is sex and the discrimination is unlawful. 36 Upon the other hand, a requirement that
a woman employee must remain unmarried could be justified as a "bona fide occupational
qualification," or BFOQ, where the particular requirements of the job would justify the same, but not
on the ground of a general principle, such as the desirability of spreading work in the workplace. A
requirement of that nature would be valid provided it reflects an inherent quality reasonably
necessary for satisfactory job performance. Thus, in one case, a no-marriage rule applicable to both
male and female flight attendants, was regarded as unlawful since the restriction was not related to
the job performance of the flight attendants. 37

5. Petitioner's policy is not only in derogation of the provisions of Article 136 of the Labor Code on
the right of a woman to be free from any kind of stipulation against marriage in connection with her
employment, but it likewise assaults good morals and public policy, tending as it does to deprive a
woman of the freedom to choose her status, a privilege that by all accounts inheres in the individual
as an intangible and inalienable right. 38 Hence, while it is true that the parties to a contract may
establish any agreements, terms, and conditions that they may deem convenient, the same should
not be contrary to law, morals, good customs, public order, or public policy. 39 Carried to its logical
consequences, it may even be said that petitioner's policy against legitimate marital bonds would
encourage illicit or common-law relations and subvert the sacrament of marriage.

Parenthetically, the Civil Code provisions on the contract of labor state that the relations between the
parties, that is, of capital and labor, are not merely contractual, impressed as they are with so much
public interest that the same should yield to the common good. 40 It goes on to intone that neither
capital nor labor should visit acts of oppression against the other, nor impair the interest or
convenience of the public. 41 In the final reckoning, the danger of just such a policy against marriage
followed by petitioner PT & T is that it strikes at the very essence, ideals and purpose of marriage as
an inviolable social institution and, ultimately, of the family as the foundation of the nation. 42 That it
must be effectively interdicted here in all its indirect, disguised or dissembled forms as discriminatory
conduct derogatory of the laws of the land is not only in order but imperatively required.

ON THE FOREGOING PREMISES, the petition of Philippine Telegraph and Telephone Company is
hereby DISMISSED for lack of merit, with double costs against petitioner.

SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. L-18176 October 26, 1966

LAZARO B. RAYRAY, plaintiff-appellant,


vs.
CHAE KYUNG LEE, defendant-appellee.

Jaime R. Nuevas for plaintiff and appellee.


Rafael Jose for defendant and appellant.

CONCEPCION, C.J.:

Appeal from a decision of the Court of Juvenile and Domestic Relations.

Plaintiff Lazaro Rayray seeks the annulment of his marriage to defendant Chae Kyung Lee.
Inasmuch as, the latter's whereabouts is unknown, and she was formerly a resident of Pusan, Korea,
summons was served by publication, as provided in the Rules of Court. Thereafter, plaintiff moved
that defendant be declared in default, she not having filed an answer, and that a date be set for the
reception of his evidence. Before acting on this motion, the lower court referred the case to the City
Fiscal of Manila pursuant to Articles 88 and 101 of the Civil Code of the Philippines, for the purpose
of determining whether or not a collusion between the parties exists. Said officer having found no
such collusion, the case was heard on the merits. In due course, thereafter, decision was rendered
dismissing plaintiff's complaint, without costs, upon the ground: (1) that the court could not nullify a
marriage contracted abroad; and (2) that the facts proven do not warrant the relief prayed for. A
reconsideration of this decision having been denied, plaintiff appealed to the Court of Appeals, which
certified the case to the Supreme Court, the jurisdiction of the lower court being in issue in the
appeal.

In relation thereto, the court a quo found that it had no jurisdiction to pass upon the validity of
plaintiff's marriage to the defendant, it having been solemnized in Seoul, Korea. Said conclusion is
erroneous. In order that a given case could be validly decided by a court of justice, it must have
jurisdiction over (1) the subject-matter of the litigation; (2) the person of the parties therein; and (3) in
actions in rem or quasi-in-rem, the res.1

The subject-matter of the present case is the annulment of plaintiff's marriage to the defendant,
which is within the jurisdiction of our courts of first instance,2 and, in Manila, of its Court of Juvenile
and Domestic Relations.3

The same acquired jurisdiction over plaintiff herein by his submission thereto in consequence of the
filing of the complaint herein.4 Defendant was placed under the jurisdiction of said court, upon the
service of summons by publication.5

This is an action in rem, for it concerns the status of the parties herein, and status affects or binds
the whole word. The res in the present case is the relation between said parties, or their marriage
tie.6 Jurisdiction over the same depends upon the nationality or domicile of the parties, not the place
of celebration of marriage, or the locus celebrationis.7 Plaintiff here is a citizen of the Philippines,
domiciled therein. His status is, therefore, subject to our jurisdiction, on both counts. True that
defendant was and — under plaintiff's — theory still is a non-resident alien. But, this fact does not
deprive the lower court of its jurisdiction to pass upon the validity of her marriage to plaintiff herein.

Indeed, marriage is one of the cases of double status, in that the status therein involves and affects
two persons. One is married, never in abstract or a vacuum, but, always to somebody else. Hence, a
judicial decree on the marriage status of a person necessarily reflects upon the status of another and
the relation between them. The prevailing rule is, accordingly, that a court has jurisdiction over
the res, in an action for annulment of marriage, provided, at least, one of the parties is domiciled in,
or a national of, the forum.8 Since plaintiff is a Filipino, domiciled in the Philippines, it follows that the
lower court had jurisdiction over the res, in addition to its jurisdiction over the subject-matter and the
parties. In other words, it could validly inquire into the legality of the marriage between the parties
herein.

As regards the substantial validity of said marriage, plaintiff testified that he met the defendant in
Pusan Korea, sometime in 1952, where she was operating a nightclub; that they lived together from
November 1952 to April 1955; that they were married in Pusan Korea, on March 15, 1953, as
attested to by their marriage certificate Exhibit D; that before the wedding she obtained the "police
clearance" Exhibit A, written in Korean language, and dated February 16, 1953, which was
necessary in order that she could contract marriage; that on June 30, 1953, he proceeded to India
and left the defendant, then in advanced stage of pregnancy, in Korea; that in October, 1953, she
joined him in India, bringing with her said Exhibit A, and its translation into English, Exhibit B; that he
then noticed that, on February 16, 1958, defendant was already married, according to said Exhibit B;
that as he confronted the defendant with the contents of this document, her reply was that it is not
unusual for a Korean girl to marry twice in Korea; that when he inquired about her status on March
15, 1953, defendant confided to him that she had lived with about two (2) Americans and a Korean,
adding, however, that there was no impediment to her contracting marriage with him; and that, later
on, they were separated and her whereabouts are now unknown to him.

The lower court considered plaintiffs evidence insufficient to establish that defendant was married to
another person prior to March 15, 1953, and we agree with this conclusion. To begin with, Exhibit A
is not signed. It merely purports to bear the seal of the Chief of Pusan National Police. Secondly, the
record does not show who prepared it, much less that he had personal knowledge of the truth of the
entry therein concerning defendant's status on February 15, 1953. It should be noted, that defendant
was a native, not of Pusan but of Seoul, Korea. Hence, Exhibit A could, at best, be no more than
hearsay evidence. Again, when plaintiff allegedly confronted the defendant with the contents of
Exhibit B, defendant did not say that she had been married before. Plaintiff declared that she
admitted having previously lived with several other men, adding, however, that she had no
impediment, thus, in effect, negating the alleged previous marriage.

Thirdly, if Exhibit A was obtained on February 16, 1953, in order to establish defendant's qualification
to contract marriage, why is it that the wedding took place, despite the entry in said document to the
effect that defendant was married already? There is no competent evidence to the effect that Korean
laws permit bigamy or polygamy. Moreover, the presumption is that the foreign law is identical to
the lex fori, or, in the case at bar, the Philippine Law.9 In fact, the statement, imputed by plaintiff to
the defendant, to the effect that, although she had cohabited before with other men, there was no
impediment to her marrying him, clearly suggests that a previous marriage on her part would have
been, in her opinion, a legal obstacle to her marriage with the plaintiffs. Then too, the marriage
certificate Exhibit D contains spaces for the entry of data on whether any of the contracting parties
had been previously married; whether the prior marriage had been dissolved by a decree of divorce;
and, if there had been such decree, the date thereof. Surely, these data would be absolutely
irrelevant if polygamy were sanctioned in Korea. And, again, why is it that Exhibit D states that
defendant had had no previous marriage?

Last, but not least, plaintiff cannot possibly secure the relief prayed for unless full faith and credence
are given to his testimony, but we cannot believe him for the records show that he would not hesitate
to lie when it suits his purpose. Thus, for instance, when plaintiff contracted marriage with the
defendant, he said that he was single, although, he admitted, this was a lie, because, sometime in
1940, he married in Baguio, one Adelaida Melecio or Valdez.10 But, then he would, also, have us
believe that his marriage with the latter was illegal or fictitious, because Adelaida and he did no more
than sign, on a small window in the City Hall of Baguio, certain documents the contents of which he
did not read.

WHEREFORE, the decision appealed from should be, as it is hereby, affirmed, with the costs of this
instance against plaintiff-appellant. It is so ordered.

G.R. No. 107383 February 20, 1996

CECILIA ZULUETA, petitioner,


vs.
COURT OF APPEALS and ALFREDO MARTIN, respondents.

DECISION

MENDOZA, J.:

This is a petition to review the decision of the Court of Appeals, affirming the decision of the
Regional Trial Court of Manila (Branch X) which ordered petitioner to return documents and papers
taken by her from private respondent's clinic without the latter's knowledge and consent.

The facts are as follows:


Petitioner Cecilia Zulueta is the wife of private respondent Alfredo Martin. On March 26, 1982,
petitioner entered the clinic of her husband, a doctor of medicine, and in the presence of her mother,
a driver and private respondent's secretary, forcibly opened the drawers and cabinet in her
husband's clinic and took 157 documents consisting of private correspondence between Dr. Martin
and his alleged paramours, greetings cards, cancelled checks, diaries, Dr. Martin's passport, and
photographs. The documents and papers were seized for use in evidence in a case for legal
separation and for disqualification from the practice of medicine which petitioner had filed against her
husband.

Dr. Martin brought this action below for recovery of the documents and papers and for damages
against petitioner. The case was filed with the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch X, which, after
trial, rendered judgment for private respondent, Dr. Alfredo Martin, declaring him "the
capital/exclusive owner of the properties described in paragraph 3 of plaintiff's Complaint or those
further described in the Motion to Return and Suppress" and ordering Cecilia Zulueta and any
person acting in her behalf to a immediately return the properties to Dr. Martin and to pay him
P5,000.00, as nominal damages; P5,000.00, as moral damages and attorney's fees; and to pay the
costs of the suit. The writ of preliminary injunction earlier issued was made final and petitioner
Cecilia Zulueta and her attorneys and representatives were enjoined from "using or
submitting/admitting as evidence" the documents and papers in question. On appeal, the Court of
Appeals affirmed the decision of the Regional Trial Court. Hence this petition.

There is no question that the documents and papers in question belong to private respondent, Dr.
Alfredo Martin, and that they were taken by his wife, the herein petitioner, without his knowledge and
consent. For that reason, the trial court declared the documents and papers to be properties of
private respondent, ordered petitioner to return them to private respondent and enjoined her from
using them in evidence. In appealing from the decision of the Court of Appeals affirming the trial
court's decision, petitioner's only ground is that in Alfredo Martin v. Alfonso Felix, Jr.,1 this Court ruled
that the documents and papers (marked as Annexes A-1 to J-7 of respondent's comment in that
case) were admissible in evidence and, therefore, their use by petitioner's attorney, Alfonso Felix did
not constitute malpractice or gross misconduct, For this reason it is contended that the Court of
Appeals erred in affirming the decision of the trial court instead of dismissing private respondent's
complaint.

Petitioner's contention has no merit. The case against Atty. Felix, Jr. was for disbarment. Among
other things, private respondent, Dr. Alfredo Martin, as complainant in that case, charged that in
using the documents in evidence, Atty. Felix, Jr. committed malpractice or gross misconduct
because of the injunctive order of the trial court. In dismissing the complaint against Atty. Felix, Jr.,
this Court took note of the following defense of Atty. Felix; Jr. which it found to be "impressed with
merit:"2

On the alleged malpractice or gross misconduct of respondent [Alfonso Felix, Jr.], he


maintains that:

....

4. When respondent refiled Cecilia's case for legal separation before the Pasig Regional
Trial Court, there was admittedly an order of the Manila Regional Trial Court prohibiting
Cecilia from using the documents Annex "A-1 to J-7." On September 6, 1983, however
having appealed the said order to this Court on a petition for certiorari, this Court issued a
restraining order on aforesaid date which order temporarily set aside the order of the trial
court. Hence, during the enforceability of this Court's order, respondent's request for
petitioner to admit the genuineness and authenticity of the subject annexes cannot be looked
upon as malpractice. Notably, petitioner Dr. Martin finally admitted the truth and authenticity
of the questioned annexes, At that point in time, would it have been malpractice for
respondent to use petitioner's admission as evidence against him in the legal separation
case pending in the Regional Trial Court of Makati? Respondent submits it is not
malpractice.

Significantly, petitioner's admission was done not thru his counsel but by Dr. Martin himself
under oath, Such verified admission constitutes an affidavit, and, therefore, receivable in
evidence against him. Petitioner became bound by his admission. For Cecilia to avail herself
of her husband's admission and use the same in her action for legal separation cannot be
treated as malpractice.

Thus, the acquittal of Atty. Felix, Jr. in the administrative case amounts to no more than a declaration
that his use of the documents and papers for the purpose of securing Dr. Martin's admission as to
their genuiness and authenticity did not constitute a violation of the injunctive order of the trial court.
By no means does the decision in that case establish the admissibility of the documents and papers
in question.

It cannot be overemphasized that if Atty. Felix, Jr. was acquitted of the charge of violating the writ of
preliminary injunction issued by the trial court, it was only because, at the time he used the
documents and papers, enforcement of the order of the trial court was temporarily restrained by this
Court. The TRO issued by this Court was eventually lifted as the petition for certiorari filed by
petitioner against the trial court's order was dismissed and, therefore, the prohibition against the
further use of the documents and papers became effective again.

Indeed the documents and papers in question are inadmissible in evidence. The constitutional
injunction declaring "the privacy of communication and correspondence [to be] inviolable"3 is no less
applicable simply because it is the wife (who thinks herself aggrieved by her husband's infidelity)
who is the party against whom the constitutional provision is to be enforced. The only exception to
the prohibition in the Constitution is if there is a "lawful order [from a] court or when public safety or
order requires otherwise, as prescribed by law."4 Any violation of this provision renders the evidence
obtained inadmissible "for any purpose in any proceeding." 5

The intimacies between husband and wife do not justify any one of them in breaking the drawers
and cabinets of the other and in ransacking them for any telltale evidence of marital infidelity. A
person, by contracting marriage, does not shed his/her integrity or his right to privacy as an
individual and the constitutional protection is ever available to him or to her.

The law insures absolute freedom of communication between the spouses by making it privileged.
Neither husband nor wife may testify for or against the other without the consent of the affected
spouse while the marriage subsists.6Neither may be examined without the consent of the other as to
any communication received in confidence by one from the other during the marriage, save for
specified exceptions.7 But one thing is freedom of communication; quite another is a compulsion for
each one to share what one knows with the other. And this has nothing to do with the duty of fidelity
that each owes to the other.

WHEREFORE, the petition for review is DENIED for lack of merit.

SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 162994 September 17, 2004

DUNCAN ASSOCIATION OF DETAILMAN-PTGWO and PEDRO A. TECSON, petitioners,


vs.
GLAXO WELLCOME PHILIPPINES, INC., Respondent.

RESOLUTION

TINGA, J.:

Confronting the Court in this petition is a novel question, with constitutional overtones, involving the
validity of the policy of a pharmaceutical company prohibiting its employees from marrying
employees of any competitor company.

This is a Petition for Review on Certiorari assailing the Decision1 dated May 19, 2003 and
the Resolution dated March 26, 2004 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 62434.2

Petitioner Pedro A. Tecson (Tecson) was hired by respondent Glaxo Wellcome Philippines, Inc.
(Glaxo) as medical representative on October 24, 1995, after Tecson had undergone training and
orientation.
Thereafter, Tecson signed a contract of employment which stipulates, among others, that he agrees
to study and abide by existing company rules; to disclose to management any existing or future
relationship by consanguinity or affinity with co-employees or employees of competing drug
companies and should management find that such relationship poses a possible conflict of interest,
to resign from the company.

The Employee Code of Conduct of Glaxo similarly provides that an employee is expected to inform
management of any existing or future relationship by consanguinity or affinity with co-employees or
employees of competing drug companies. If management perceives a conflict of interest or a
potential conflict between such relationship and the employee’s employment with the company, the
management and the employee will explore the possibility of a "transfer to another department in a
non-counterchecking position" or preparation for employment outside the company after six months.

Tecson was initially assigned to market Glaxo’s products in the Camarines Sur-Camarines Norte
sales area.

Subsequently, Tecson entered into a romantic relationship with Bettsy, an employee of Astra
Pharmaceuticals3(Astra), a competitor of Glaxo. Bettsy was Astra’s Branch Coordinator in Albay.
She supervised the district managers and medical representatives of her company and prepared
marketing strategies for Astra in that area.

Even before they got married, Tecson received several reminders from his District Manager
regarding the conflict of interest which his relationship with Bettsy might engender. Still, love
prevailed, and Tecson married Bettsy in September 1998.

In January 1999, Tecson’s superiors informed him that his marriage to Bettsy gave rise to a conflict
of interest. Tecson’s superiors reminded him that he and Bettsy should decide which one of them
would resign from their jobs, although they told him that they wanted to retain him as much as
possible because he was performing his job well.

Tecson requested for time to comply with the company policy against entering into a relationship
with an employee of a competitor company. He explained that Astra, Bettsy’s employer, was
planning to merge with Zeneca, another drug company; and Bettsy was planning to avail of the
redundancy package to be offered by Astra. With Bettsy’s separation from her company, the
potential conflict of interest would be eliminated. At the same time, they would be able to avail of the
attractive redundancy package from Astra.

In August 1999, Tecson again requested for more time resolve the problem. In September 1999,
Tecson applied for a transfer in Glaxo’s milk division, thinking that since Astra did not have a milk
division, the potential conflict of interest would be eliminated. His application was denied in view of
Glaxo’s "least-movement-possible" policy.

In November 1999, Glaxo transferred Tecson to the Butuan City-Surigao City-Agusan del Sur sales
area. Tecson asked Glaxo to reconsider its decision, but his request was denied.

Tecson sought Glaxo’s reconsideration regarding his transfer and brought the matter to Glaxo’s
Grievance Committee. Glaxo, however, remained firm in its decision and gave Tescon until February
7, 2000 to comply with the transfer order. Tecson defied the transfer order and continued acting as
medical representative in the Camarines Sur-Camarines Norte sales area.

During the pendency of the grievance proceedings, Tecson was paid his salary, but was not issued
samples of products which were competing with similar products manufactured by Astra. He was
also not included in product conferences regarding such products.

Because the parties failed to resolve the issue at the grievance machinery level, they submitted the
matter for voluntary arbitration. Glaxo offered Tecson a separation pay of one-half (½) month pay for
every year of service, or a total of ₱50,000.00 but he declined the offer. On November 15, 2000, the
National Conciliation and Mediation Board (NCMB) rendered its Decision declaring as valid Glaxo’s
policy on relationships between its employees and persons employed with competitor companies,
and affirming Glaxo’s right to transfer Tecson to another sales territory.

Aggrieved, Tecson filed a Petition for Review with the Court of Appeals assailing the
NCMB Decision.
On May 19, 2003, the Court of Appeals promulgated its Decision denying the Petition for Review on
the ground that the NCMB did not err in rendering its Decision. The appellate court held that Glaxo’s
policy prohibiting its employees from having personal relationships with employees of competitor
companies is a valid exercise of its management prerogatives.4

Tecson filed a Motion for Reconsideration of the appellate court’s Decision, but the motion was
denied by the appellate court in its Resolution dated March 26, 2004.5

Petitioners filed the instant petition, arguing therein that (i) the Court of Appeals erred in affirming the
NCMB’s finding that the Glaxo’s policy prohibiting its employees from marrying an employee of a
competitor company is valid; and (ii) the Court of Appeals also erred in not finding that Tecson was
constructively dismissed when he was transferred to a new sales territory, and deprived of the
opportunity to attend products seminars and training sessions.6

Petitioners contend that Glaxo’s policy against employees marrying employees of competitor
companies violates the equal protection clause of the Constitution because it creates invalid
distinctions among employees on account only of marriage. They claim that the policy restricts the
employees’ right to marry.7

They also argue that Tecson was constructively dismissed as shown by the following circumstances:
(1) he was transferred from the Camarines Sur-Camarines Norte sales area to the Butuan-Surigao-
Agusan sales area, (2) he suffered a diminution in pay, (3) he was excluded from attending seminars
and training sessions for medical representatives, and (4) he was prohibited from promoting
respondent’s products which were competing with Astra’s products.8

In its Comment on the petition, Glaxo argues that the company policy prohibiting its employees from
having a relationship with and/or marrying an employee of a competitor company is a valid exercise
of its management prerogatives and does not violate the equal protection clause; and that Tecson’s
reassignment from the Camarines Norte-Camarines Sur sales area to the Butuan City-Surigao City
and Agusan del Sur sales area does not amount to constructive dismissal.9

Glaxo insists that as a company engaged in the promotion and sale of pharmaceutical products, it
has a genuine interest in ensuring that its employees avoid any activity, relationship or interest that
may conflict with their responsibilities to the company. Thus, it expects its employees to avoid having
personal or family interests in any competitor company which may influence their actions and
decisions and consequently deprive Glaxo of legitimate profits. The policy is also aimed at
preventing a competitor company from gaining access to its secrets, procedures and policies.10

It likewise asserts that the policy does not prohibit marriage per se but only proscribes existing or
future relationships with employees of competitor companies, and is therefore not violative of the
equal protection clause. It maintains that considering the nature of its business, the prohibition is
based on valid grounds.11

According to Glaxo, Tecson’s marriage to Bettsy, an employee of Astra, posed a real and potential
conflict of interest. Astra’s products were in direct competition with 67% of the products sold by
Glaxo. Hence, Glaxo’s enforcement of the foregoing policy in Tecson’s case was a valid exercise of
its management prerogatives.12 In any case, Tecson was given several months to remedy the
situation, and was even encouraged not to resign but to ask his wife to resign form Astra instead.13

Glaxo also points out that Tecson can no longer question the assailed company policy because
when he signed his contract of employment, he was aware that such policy was stipulated therein. In
said contract, he also agreed to resign from respondent if the management finds that his relationship
with an employee of a competitor company would be detrimental to the interests of Glaxo.14

Glaxo likewise insists that Tecson’s reassignment to another sales area and his exclusion from
seminars regarding respondent’s new products did not amount to constructive dismissal.

It claims that in view of Tecson’s refusal to resign, he was relocated from the Camarines Sur-
Camarines Norte sales area to the Butuan City-Surigao City and Agusan del Sur sales area. Glaxo
asserts that in effecting the reassignment, it also considered the welfare of Tecson’s family. Since
Tecson’s hometown was in Agusan del Sur and his wife traces her roots to Butuan City, Glaxo
assumed that his transfer from the Bicol region to the Butuan City sales area would be favorable to
him and his family as he would be relocating to a familiar territory and minimizing his travel
expenses.15

In addition, Glaxo avers that Tecson’s exclusion from the seminar concerning the new anti-asthma
drug was due to the fact that said product was in direct competition with a drug which was soon to be
sold by Astra, and hence, would pose a potential conflict of interest for him. Lastly, the delay in
Tecson’s receipt of his sales paraphernalia was due to the mix-up created by his refusal to transfer
to the Butuan City sales area (his paraphernalia was delivered to his new sales area instead of Naga
City because the supplier thought he already transferred to Butuan).16

The Court is tasked to resolve the following issues: (1) Whether the Court of Appeals erred in ruling
that Glaxo’s policy against its employees marrying employees from competitor companies is valid,
and in not holding that said policy violates the equal protection clause of the Constitution; (2)
Whether Tecson was constructively dismissed.

The Court finds no merit in the petition.

The stipulation in Tecson’s contract of employment with Glaxo being questioned by petitioners
provides:

10. You agree to disclose to management any existing or future relationship you may have,
either by consanguinity or affinity with co-employees or employees of competing drug
companies. Should it pose a possible conflict of interest in management discretion, you
agree to resign voluntarily from the Company as a matter of Company policy.

…17

The same contract also stipulates that Tescon agrees to abide by the existing company rules of
Glaxo, and to study and become acquainted with such policies.18 In this regard, the Employee
Handbook of Glaxo expressly informs its employees of its rules regarding conflict of interest:

1. Conflict of Interest

Employees should avoid any activity, investment relationship, or interest that may run
counter to the responsibilities which they owe Glaxo Wellcome.

Specifically, this means that employees are expected:

a. To avoid having personal or family interest, financial or otherwise, in any


competitor supplier or other businesses which may consciously or unconsciously
influence their actions or decisions and thus deprive Glaxo Wellcome of legitimate
profit.

b. To refrain from using their position in Glaxo Wellcome or knowledge of Company


plans to advance their outside personal interests, that of their relatives, friends and
other businesses.

c. To avoid outside employment or other interests for income which would impair
their effective job performance.

d. To consult with Management on such activities or relationships that may lead to


conflict of interest.

1.1. Employee Relationships

Employees with existing or future relationships either by consanguinity or affinity with co-
employees of competing drug companies are expected to disclose such relationship to the
Management. If management perceives a conflict or potential conflict of interest, every effort
shall be made, together by management and the employee, to arrive at a solution within six
(6) months, either by transfer to another department in a non-counter checking position, or
by career preparation toward outside employment after Glaxo Wellcome. Employees must
be prepared for possible resignation within six (6) months, if no other solution is feasible.19

No reversible error can be ascribed to the Court of Appeals when it ruled that Glaxo’s policy
prohibiting an employee from having a relationship with an employee of a competitor company is a
valid exercise of management prerogative.

Glaxo has a right to guard its trade secrets, manufacturing formulas, marketing strategies and other
confidential programs and information from competitors, especially so that it and Astra are rival
companies in the highly competitive pharmaceutical industry.

The prohibition against personal or marital relationships with employees of competitor companies
upon Glaxo’s employees is reasonable under the circumstances because relationships of that nature
might compromise the interests of the company. In laying down the assailed company policy, Glaxo
only aims to protect its interests against the possibility that a competitor company will gain access to
its secrets and procedures.

That Glaxo possesses the right to protect its economic interests cannot be denied. No less than the
Constitution recognizes the right of enterprises to adopt and enforce such a policy to protect its right
to reasonable returns on investments and to expansion and growth.20 Indeed, while our laws
endeavor to give life to the constitutional policy on social justice and the protection of labor, it does
not mean that every labor dispute will be decided in favor of the workers. The law also recognizes
that management has rights which are also entitled to respect and enforcement in the interest of fair
play.21

As held in a Georgia, U.S.A case,22 it is a legitimate business practice to guard business


confidentiality and protect a competitive position by even-handedly disqualifying from jobs male and
female applicants or employees who are married to a competitor. Consequently, the court ruled than
an employer that discharged an employee who was married to an employee of an active competitor
did not violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.23 The Court pointed out that the policy was
applied to men and women equally, and noted that the employer’s business was highly competitive
and that gaining inside information would constitute a competitive advantage.

The challenged company policy does not violate the equal protection clause of the Constitution as
petitioners erroneously suggest. It is a settled principle that the commands of the equal protection
clause are addressed only to the state or those acting under color of its authority.24 Corollarily, it has
been held in a long array of U.S. Supreme Court decisions that the equal protection clause erects no
shield against merely private conduct, however, discriminatory or wrongful.25 The only exception
occurs when the state29 in any of its manifestations or actions has been found to have become
entwined or involved in the wrongful private conduct.27 Obviously, however, the exception is not
present in this case. Significantly, the company actually enforced the policy after repeated requests
to the employee to comply with the policy. Indeed, the application of the policy was made in an
impartial and even-handed manner, with due regard for the lot of the employee.

In any event, from the wordings of the contractual provision and the policy in its employee handbook,
it is clear that Glaxo does not impose an absolute prohibition against relationships between its
employees and those of competitor companies. Its employees are free to cultivate relationships with
and marry persons of their own choosing. What the company merely seeks to avoid is a conflict of
interest between the employee and the company that may arise out of such relationships. As
succinctly explained by the appellate court, thus:

The policy being questioned is not a policy against marriage. An employee of the company
remains free to marry anyone of his or her choosing. The policy is not aimed at restricting a
personal prerogative that belongs only to the individual. However, an employee’s personal
decision does not detract the employer from exercising management prerogatives to ensure
maximum profit and business success. . .28

The Court of Appeals also correctly noted that the assailed company policy which forms part of
respondent’s Employee Code of Conduct and of its contracts with its employees, such as that signed
by Tescon, was made known to him prior to his employment. Tecson, therefore, was aware of that
restriction when he signed his employment contract and when he entered into a relationship with
Bettsy. Since Tecson knowingly and voluntarily entered into a contract of employment with Glaxo,
the stipulations therein have the force of law between them and, thus, should be complied with in
good faith."29 He is therefore estopped from questioning said policy.
The Court finds no merit in petitioners’ contention that Tescon was constructively dismissed when he
was transferred from the Camarines Norte-Camarines Sur sales area to the Butuan City-Surigao
City-Agusan del Sur sales area, and when he was excluded from attending the company’s seminar
on new products which were directly competing with similar products manufactured by Astra.
Constructive dismissal is defined as a quitting, an involuntary resignation resorted to when continued
employment becomes impossible, unreasonable, or unlikely; when there is a demotion in rank or
diminution in pay; or when a clear discrimination, insensibility or disdain by an employer becomes
unbearable to the employee.30 None of these conditions are present in the instant case. The record
does not show that Tescon was demoted or unduly discriminated upon by reason of such transfer.
As found by the appellate court, Glaxo properly exercised its management prerogative in reassigning
Tecson to the Butuan City sales area:

. . . In this case, petitioner’s transfer to another place of assignment was merely in keeping
with the policy of the company in avoidance of conflict of interest, and thus valid…Note that
[Tecson’s] wife holds a sensitive supervisory position as Branch Coordinator in her
employer-company which requires her to work in close coordination with District Managers
and Medical Representatives. Her duties include monitoring sales of Astra products,
conducting sales drives, establishing and furthering relationship with customers, collection,
monitoring and managing Astra’s inventory…she therefore takes an active participation in
the market war characterized as it is by stiff competition among pharmaceutical companies.
Moreover, and this is significant, petitioner’s sales territory covers Camarines Sur and
Camarines Norte while his wife is supervising a branch of her employer in Albay. The
proximity of their areas of responsibility, all in the same Bicol Region, renders the conflict of
interest not only possible, but actual, as learning by one spouse of the other’s market
strategies in the region would be inevitable. [Management’s] appreciation of a conflict of
interest is therefore not merely illusory and wanting in factual basis…31

In Abbott Laboratories (Phils.), Inc. v. National Labor Relations Commission,32 which involved a
complaint filed by a medical representative against his employer drug company for illegal dismissal
for allegedly terminating his employment when he refused to accept his reassignment to a new area,
the Court upheld the right of the drug company to transfer or reassign its employee in accordance
with its operational demands and requirements. The ruling of the Court therein, quoted hereunder,
also finds application in the instant case:

By the very nature of his employment, a drug salesman or medical representative is


expected to travel. He should anticipate reassignment according to the demands of their
business. It would be a poor drug corporation which cannot even assign its representatives
or detail men to new markets calling for opening or expansion or to areas where the need for
pushing its products is great. More so if such reassignments are part of the employment
contract.33

As noted earlier, the challenged policy has been implemented by Glaxo impartially and
disinterestedly for a long period of time. In the case at bar, the record shows that Glaxo gave Tecson
several chances to eliminate the conflict of interest brought about by his relationship with Bettsy.
When their relationship was still in its initial stage, Tecson’s supervisors at Glaxo constantly
reminded him about its effects on his employment with the company and on the company’s interests.
After Tecson married Bettsy, Glaxo gave him time to resolve the conflict by either resigning from the
company or asking his wife to resign from Astra. Glaxo even expressed its desire to retain Tecson in
its employ because of his satisfactory performance and suggested that he ask Bettsy to resign from
her company instead. Glaxo likewise acceded to his repeated requests for more time to resolve the
conflict of interest. When the problem could not be resolved after several years of waiting, Glaxo was
constrained to reassign Tecson to a sales area different from that handled by his wife for Astra.
Notably, the Court did not terminate Tecson from employment but only reassigned him to another
area where his home province, Agusan del Sur, was included. In effecting Tecson’s transfer, Glaxo
even considered the welfare of Tecson’s family. Clearly, the foregoing dispels any suspicion of
unfairness and bad faith on the part of Glaxo.34

WHEREFORE, the Petition is DENIED for lack of merit. Costs against petitioners.

SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 164774 April 12, 2006


STAR PAPER CORPORATION, JOSEPHINE ONGSITCO & SEBASTIAN CHUA, Petitioners,
vs.
RONALDO D. SIMBOL, WILFREDA N. COMIA & LORNA E. ESTRELLA, Respondents.

DECISION

PUNO, J.:

We are called to decide an issue of first impression: whether the policy of the employer banning
spouses from working in the same company violates the rights of the employee under the
Constitution and the Labor Code or is a valid exercise of management prerogative.

At bar is a Petition for Review on Certiorari of the Decision of the Court of Appeals dated August 3,
2004 in CA-G.R. SP No. 73477 reversing the decision of the National Labor Relations Commission
(NLRC) which affirmed the ruling of the Labor Arbiter.

Petitioner Star Paper Corporation (the company) is a corporation engaged in trading – principally of
paper products. Josephine Ongsitco is its Manager of the Personnel and Administration Department
while Sebastian Chua is its Managing Director.

The evidence for the petitioners show that respondents Ronaldo D. Simbol (Simbol), Wilfreda N.
Comia (Comia) and Lorna E. Estrella (Estrella) were all regular employees of the company.1

Simbol was employed by the company on October 27, 1993. He met Alma Dayrit, also an employee
of the company, whom he married on June 27, 1998. Prior to the marriage, Ongsitco advised the
couple that should they decide to get married, one of them should resign pursuant to a company
policy promulgated in 1995,2 viz.:

1. New applicants will not be allowed to be hired if in case he/she has [a] relative, up to [the]
3rd degree of relationship, already employed by the company.

2. In case of two of our employees (both singles [sic], one male and another female)
developed a friendly relationship during the course of their employment and then decided to
get married, one of them should resign to preserve the policy stated above.3

Simbol resigned on June 20, 1998 pursuant to the company policy.4

Comia was hired by the company on February 5, 1997. She met Howard Comia, a co-employee,
whom she married on June 1, 2000. Ongsitco likewise reminded them that pursuant to company
policy, one must resign should they decide to get married. Comia resigned on June 30, 2000.5

Estrella was hired on July 29, 1994. She met Luisito Zuñiga (Zuñiga), also a co-worker. Petitioners
stated that Zuñiga, a married man, got Estrella pregnant. The company allegedly could have
terminated her services due to immorality but she opted to resign on December 21, 1999.6

The respondents each signed a Release and Confirmation Agreement. They stated therein that they
have no money and property accountabilities in the company and that they release the latter of any
claim or demand of whatever nature.7

Respondents offer a different version of their dismissal. Simbol and Comia allege that they did not
resign voluntarily; they were compelled to resign in view of an illegal company policy. As to
respondent Estrella, she alleges that she had a relationship with co-worker Zuñiga who
misrepresented himself as a married but separated man. After he got her pregnant, she discovered
that he was not separated. Thus, she severed her relationship with him to avoid dismissal due to the
company policy. On November 30, 1999, she met an accident and was advised by the doctor at the
Orthopedic Hospital to recuperate for twenty-one (21) days. She returned to work on December 21,
1999 but she found out that her name was on-hold at the gate. She was denied entry. She was
directed to proceed to the personnel office where one of the staff handed her a memorandum. The
memorandum stated that she was being dismissed for immoral conduct. She refused to sign the
memorandum because she was on leave for twenty-one (21) days and has not been given a chance
to explain. The management asked her to write an explanation. However, after submission of the
explanation, she was nonetheless dismissed by the company. Due to her urgent need for money,
she later submitted a letter of resignation in exchange for her thirteenth month pay.8
Respondents later filed a complaint for unfair labor practice, constructive dismissal, separation pay
and attorney’s fees. They averred that the aforementioned company policy is illegal and contravenes
Article 136 of the Labor Code. They also contended that they were dismissed due to their union
membership.

On May 31, 2001, Labor Arbiter Melquiades Sol del Rosario dismissed the complaint for lack of
merit, viz.:

[T]his company policy was decreed pursuant to what the respondent corporation perceived as
management prerogative. This management prerogative is quite broad and encompassing for it
covers hiring, work assignment, working method, time, place and manner of work, tools to be used,
processes to be followed, supervision of workers, working regulations, transfer of employees, work
supervision, lay-off of workers and the discipline, dismissal and recall of workers. Except as provided
for or limited by special law, an employer is free to regulate, according to his own discretion and
judgment all the aspects of employment.9 (Citations omitted.)

On appeal to the NLRC, the Commission affirmed the decision of the Labor Arbiter on January 11,
2002. 10

Respondents filed a Motion for Reconsideration but was denied by the NLRC in a Resolution11 dated
August 8, 2002. They appealed to respondent court via Petition for Certiorari.

In its assailed Decision dated August 3, 2004, the Court of Appeals reversed the NLRC
decision, viz.:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the May 31, 2002 (sic)12 Decision of the National Labor
Relations Commission is hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE and a new one is entered as follows:

(1) Declaring illegal, the petitioners’ dismissal from employment and ordering private
respondents to reinstate petitioners to their former positions without loss of seniority rights
with full backwages from the time of their dismissal until actual reinstatement; and

(2) Ordering private respondents to pay petitioners attorney’s fees amounting to 10% of the
award and the cost of this suit.13

On appeal to this Court, petitioners contend that the Court of Appeals erred in holding that:

1. x x x the subject 1995 policy/regulation is violative of the constitutional rights towards


marriage and the family of employees and of Article 136 of the Labor Code; and

2. x x x respondents’ resignations were far from voluntary.14

We affirm.

The 1987 Constitution15 states our policy towards the protection of labor under the following
provisions, viz.:

Article II, Section 18. The State affirms labor as a primary social economic force. It shall protect the
rights of workers and promote their welfare.

xxx

Article XIII, Sec. 3. The State shall afford full protection to labor, local and overseas, organized and
unorganized, and promote full employment and equality of employment opportunities for all.

It shall guarantee the rights of all workers to self-organization, collective bargaining and negotiations,
and peaceful concerted activities, including the right to strike in accordance with law. They shall be
entitled to security of tenure, humane conditions of work, and a living wage. They shall also
participate in policy and decision-making processes affecting their rights and benefits as may be
provided by law.
The State shall promote the principle of shared responsibility between workers and employers,
recognizing the right of labor to its just share in the fruits of production and the right of enterprises to
reasonable returns on investments, and to expansion and growth.

The Civil Code likewise protects labor with the following provisions:

Art. 1700. The relation between capital and labor are not merely contractual. They are so impressed
with public interest that labor contracts must yield to the common good. Therefore, such contracts
are subject to the special laws on labor unions, collective bargaining, strikes and lockouts, closed
shop, wages, working conditions, hours of labor and similar subjects.

Art. 1702. In case of doubt, all labor legislation and all labor contracts shall be construed in favor of
the safety and decent living for the laborer.

The Labor Code is the most comprehensive piece of legislation protecting labor. The case at bar
involves Article 136 of the Labor Code which provides:

Art. 136. It shall be unlawful for an employer to require as a condition of employment or continuation
of employment that a woman employee shall not get married, or to stipulate expressly or tacitly that
upon getting married a woman employee shall be deemed resigned or separated, or to actually
dismiss, discharge, discriminate or otherwise prejudice a woman employee merely by reason of her
marriage.

Respondents submit that their dismissal violates the above provision. Petitioners allege that its policy
"may appear to be contrary to Article 136 of the Labor Code" but it assumes a new meaning if read
together with the first paragraph of the rule. The rule does not require the woman employee to
resign. The employee spouses have the right to choose who between them should resign. Further,
they are free to marry persons other than co-employees. Hence, it is not the marital status of the
employee, per se, that is being discriminated. It is only intended to carry out its no-employment-for-
relatives-within-the-third-degree-policy which is within the ambit of the prerogatives of
management.16

It is true that the policy of petitioners prohibiting close relatives from working in the same company
takes the nature of an anti-nepotism employment policy. Companies adopt these policies to prevent
the hiring of unqualified persons based on their status as a relative, rather than upon their
ability.17 These policies focus upon the potential employment problems arising from the perception of
favoritism exhibited towards relatives.

With more women entering the workforce, employers are also enacting employment policies
specifically prohibiting spouses from working for the same company. We note that two types of
employment policies involve spouses: policies banning only spouses from working in the same
company (no-spouse employment policies), and those banning all immediate family members,
including spouses, from working in the same company (anti-nepotism employment policies).18

Unlike in our jurisdiction where there is no express prohibition on marital discrimination,19 there are
twenty state statutes20 in the United States prohibiting marital discrimination. Some state
courts21 have been confronted with the issue of whether no-spouse policies violate their laws
prohibiting both marital status and sex discrimination.

In challenging the anti-nepotism employment policies in the United States, complainants utilize two
theories of employment discrimination: the disparate treatment and the disparate impact. Under
the disparate treatment analysis, the plaintiff must prove that an employment policy is
discriminatory on its face. No-spouse employment policies requiring an employee of a particular
sex to either quit, transfer, or be fired are facially discriminatory. For example, an employment policy
prohibiting the employer from hiring wives of male employees, but not husbands of female
employees, is discriminatory on its face.22

On the other hand, to establish disparate impact, the complainants must prove that a facially
neutral policy has a disproportionate effect on a particular class. For example, although most
employment policies do not expressly indicate which spouse will be required to transfer or leave the
company, the policy often disproportionately affects one sex.23
The state courts’ rulings on the issue depend on their interpretation of the scope of marital status
discrimination within the meaning of their respective civil rights acts. Though they agree that the term
"marital status" encompasses discrimination based on a person's status as either married, single,
divorced, or widowed, they are divided on whether the term has a broader meaning. Thus, their
decisions vary.24

The courts narrowly25 interpreting marital status to refer only to a person's status as married, single,
divorced, or widowed reason that if the legislature intended a broader definition it would have either
chosen different language or specified its intent. They hold that the relevant inquiry is if one is
married rather than to whom one is married. They construe marital status discrimination to include
only whether a person is single, married, divorced, or widowed and not the "identity, occupation, and
place of employment of one's spouse." These courts have upheld the questioned policies and ruled
that they did not violate the marital status discrimination provision of their respective state statutes.

The courts that have broadly26 construed the term "marital status" rule that it encompassed the
identity, occupation and employment of one's spouse. They strike down the no-spouse employment
policies based on the broad legislative intent of the state statute. They reason that the no-spouse
employment policy violate the marital status provision because it arbitrarily discriminates against all
spouses of present employees without regard to the actual effect on the individual's qualifications or
work performance.27 These courts also find the no-spouse employment policy invalid for failure of the
employer to present any evidence of business necessity other than the general perception that
spouses in the same workplace might adversely affect the business.28 They hold that the absence of
such a bona fide occupational qualification29 invalidates a rule denying employment to one
spouse due to the current employment of the other spouse in the same office.30 Thus, they rule that
unless the employer can prove that the reasonable demands of the business require a distinction
based on marital status and there is no better available or acceptable policy which would better
accomplish the business purpose, an employer may not discriminate against an employee based on
the identity of the employee’s spouse.31 This is known as the bona fide occupational qualification
exception.

We note that since the finding of a bona fide occupational qualification justifies an employer’s no-
spouse rule, the exception is interpreted strictly and narrowly by these state courts. There must be a
compelling business necessity for which no alternative exists other than the discriminatory
practice.32 To justify a bona fide occupational qualification, the employer must prove two factors: (1)
that the employment qualification is reasonably related to the essential operation of the job involved;
and, (2) that there is a factual basis for believing that all or substantially all persons meeting the
qualification would be unable to properly perform the duties of the job.33

The concept of a bona fide occupational qualification is not foreign in our jurisdiction. We employ the
standard of reasonableness of the company policy which is parallel to the bona fide occupational
qualification requirement. In the recent case of Duncan Association of Detailman-PTGWO and
Pedro Tecson v. Glaxo Wellcome Philippines, Inc.,34 we passed on the validity of the policy of a
pharmaceutical company prohibiting its employees from marrying employees of any competitor company. We
held that Glaxo has a right to guard its trade secrets, manufacturing formulas, marketing strategies and other
confidential programs and information from competitors. We considered the prohibition against personal or
marital relationships with employees of competitor companies upon Glaxo’s employees reasonable under the
circumstances because relationships of that nature might compromise the interests of Glaxo. In laying down
the assailed company policy, we recognized that Glaxo only aims to protect its interests against the possibility
that a competitor company will gain access to its secrets and procedures.35

The requirement that a company policy must be reasonable under the circumstances to qualify as a
valid exercise of management prerogative was also at issue in the 1997 case of Philippine
Telegraph and Telephone Company v. NLRC.36 In said case, the employee was dismissed in
violation of petitioner’s policy of disqualifying from work any woman worker who contracts marriage.
We held that the company policy violates the right against discrimination afforded all women workers
under Article 136 of the Labor Code, but established a permissible exception, viz.:

[A] requirement that a woman employee must remain unmarried could be justified as a "bona fide
occupational qualification," or BFOQ, where the particular requirements of the job would justify the
same, but not on the ground of a general principle, such as the desirability of spreading work in the
workplace. A requirement of that nature would be valid provided it reflects an inherent
quality reasonably necessary for satisfactory job performance.37(Emphases supplied.)
The cases of Duncan and PT&T instruct us that the requirement of reasonableness must
be clearly established to uphold the questioned employment policy. The employer has the burden to
prove the existence of a reasonable business necessity. The burden was successfully discharged in
Duncan but not in PT&T.

We do not find a reasonable business necessity in the case at bar.

Petitioners’ sole contention that "the company did not just want to have two (2) or more of its
employees related between the third degree by affinity and/or consanguinity"38 is lame. That the
second paragraph was meant to give teeth to the first paragraph of the questioned rule39 is evidently
not the valid reasonable business necessity required by the law.

It is significant to note that in the case at bar, respondents were hired after they were found fit for the
job, but were asked to resign when they married a co-employee. Petitioners failed to show how the
marriage of Simbol, then a Sheeting Machine Operator, to Alma Dayrit, then an employee of the
Repacking Section, could be detrimental to its business operations. Neither did petitioners explain
how this detriment will happen in the case of Wilfreda Comia, then a Production Helper in the
Selecting Department, who married Howard Comia, then a helper in the cutter-machine. The policy
is premised on the mere fear that employees married to each other will be less efficient. If we uphold
the questioned rule without valid justification, the employer can create policies based on an
unproven presumption of a perceived danger at the expense of an employee’s right to security of
tenure.

Petitioners contend that their policy will apply only when one employee marries a co-employee, but
they are free to marry persons other than co-employees. The questioned policy may not facially
violate Article 136 of the Labor Code but it creates a disproportionate effect and under the disparate
impact theory, the only way it could pass judicial scrutiny is a showing that it is reasonable despite
the discriminatory, albeit disproportionate, effect. The failure of petitioners to prove a legitimate
business concern in imposing the questioned policy cannot prejudice the employee’s right to be free
from arbitrary discrimination based upon stereotypes of married persons working together in one
company.40

Lastly, the absence of a statute expressly prohibiting marital discrimination in our jurisdiction cannot
benefit the petitioners. The protection given to labor in our jurisdiction is vast and extensive that we
cannot prudently draw inferences from the legislature’s silence41 that married persons are not
protected under our Constitution and declare valid a policy based on a prejudice or stereotype. Thus,
for failure of petitioners to present undisputed proof of a reasonable business necessity, we rule that
the questioned policy is an invalid exercise of management prerogative. Corollarily, the issue as to
whether respondents Simbol and Comia resigned voluntarily has become moot and academic.

As to respondent Estrella, the Labor Arbiter and the NLRC based their ruling on the singular fact that
her resignation letter was written in her own handwriting. Both ruled that her resignation was
voluntary and thus valid. The respondent court failed to categorically rule whether Estrella voluntarily
resigned but ordered that she be reinstated along with Simbol and Comia.

Estrella claims that she was pressured to submit a resignation letter because she was in dire need of
money. We examined the records of the case and find Estrella’s contention to be more in accord
with the evidence. While findings of fact by administrative tribunals like the NLRC are generally given
not only respect but, at times, finality, this rule admits of exceptions,42 as in the case at bar.

Estrella avers that she went back to work on December 21, 1999 but was dismissed due to her
alleged immoral conduct. At first, she did not want to sign the termination papers but she was forced
to tender her resignation letter in exchange for her thirteenth month pay.

The contention of petitioners that Estrella was pressured to resign because she got impregnated by
a married man and she could not stand being looked upon or talked about as immoral43 is
incredulous. If she really wanted to avoid embarrassment and humiliation, she would not have gone
back to work at all. Nor would she have filed a suit for illegal dismissal and pleaded for
reinstatement. We have held that in voluntary resignation, the employee is compelled by personal
reason(s) to dissociate himself from employment. It is done with the intention of relinquishing an
office, accompanied by the act of abandonment. 44 Thus, it is illogical for Estrella to resign and then
file a complaint for illegal dismissal. Given the lack of sufficient evidence on the part of petitioners
that the resignation was voluntary, Estrella’s dismissal is declared illegal.
IN VIEW WHEREOF, the Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 73477 dated August
3, 2004 is AFFIRMED. 1avvphil.n et

SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 165842 November 29, 2005

EDUARDO P. MANUEL, Petitioner,


vs.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent.

DECISION

CALLEJO, SR., J.:

Before us is a petition for review on certiorari of the Decision1 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-
G.R. CR No. 26877, affirming the Decision2 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Baguio City, Branch
3, convicting Eduardo P. Manuel of bigamy in Criminal Case No. 19562-R.

Eduardo was charged with bigamy in an Information filed on November 7, 2001, the accusatory
portion of which reads:

That on or about the 22nd day of April, 1996, in the City of Baguio, Philippines, and within the
jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused EDUARDO P. MANUEL, being then
previously and legally married to RUBYLUS [GAÑA] and without the said marriage having been
legally dissolved, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously contract a second marriage
with TINA GANDALERA-MANUEL, herein complainant, who does not know the existence of the first
marriage of said EDUARDO P. MANUEL to Rubylus [Gaña].

CONTRARY TO LAW. 3

The prosecution adduced evidence that on July 28, 1975, Eduardo was married to Rubylus Gaña
before Msgr. Feliciano Santos in Makati, which was then still a municipality of the Province of
Rizal.4 He met the private complainant Tina B. Gandalera in Dagupan City sometime in January
1996. She stayed in Bonuan, Dagupan City for two days looking for a friend. Tina was then 21 years
old, a Computer Secretarial student, while Eduardo was 39. Afterwards, Eduardo went to Baguio
City to visit her. Eventually, as one thing led to another, they went to a motel where, despite Tina’s
resistance, Eduardo succeeded in having his way with her. Eduardo proposed marriage on several
occasions, assuring her that he was single. Eduardo even brought his parents to Baguio City to meet
Tina’s parents, and was assured by them that their son was still single.

Tina finally agreed to marry Eduardo sometime in the first week of March 1996. They were married
on April 22, 1996 before Judge Antonio C. Reyes, the Presiding Judge of the RTC of Baguio City,
Branch 61.5 It appeared in their marriage contract that Eduardo was "single."

The couple was happy during the first three years of their married life. Through their joint efforts, they
were able to build their home in Cypress Point, Irisan, Baguio City. However, starting 1999, Manuel
started making himself scarce and went to their house only twice or thrice a year. Tina was jobless,
and whenever she asked money from Eduardo, he would slap her.6 Sometime in January 2001,
Eduardo took all his clothes, left, and did not return. Worse, he stopped giving financial support.

Sometime in August 2001, Tina became curious and made inquiries from the National Statistics
Office (NSO) in Manila where she learned that Eduardo had been previously married. She secured
an NSO-certified copy of the marriage contract.7 She was so embarrassed and humiliated when she
learned that Eduardo was in fact already married when they exchanged their own vows.8

For his part, Eduardo testified that he met Tina sometime in 1995 in a bar where she worked as a
Guest Relations Officer (GRO). He fell in love with her and married her. He informed Tina of his
previous marriage to Rubylus Gaña, but she nevertheless agreed to marry him. Their marital
relationship was in order until this one time when he noticed that she had a "love-bite" on her neck.
He then abandoned her. Eduardo further testified that he declared he was "single" in his marriage
contract with Tina because he believed in good faith that his first marriage was invalid. He did not
know that he had to go to court to seek for the nullification of his first marriage before marrying Tina.

Eduardo further claimed that he was only forced to marry his first wife because she threatened to
commit suicide unless he did so. Rubylus was charged with estafa in 1975 and thereafter
imprisoned. He visited her in jail after three months and never saw her again. He insisted that he
married Tina believing that his first marriage was no longer valid because he had not heard from
Rubylus for more than 20 years.

After trial, the court rendered judgment on July 2, 2002 finding Eduardo guilty beyond reasonable
doubt of bigamy. He was sentenced to an indeterminate penalty of from six (6) years and ten (10)
months, as minimum, to ten (10) years, as maximum, and directed to indemnify the private
complainant Tina Gandalera the amount of ₱200,000.00 by way of moral damages, plus costs of
suit.9

The trial court ruled that the prosecution was able to prove beyond reasonable doubt all the
elements of bigamy under Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code. It declared that Eduardo’s belief,
that his first marriage had been dissolved because of his first wife’s 20-year absence, even if true,
did not exculpate him from liability for bigamy. Citing the ruling of this Court in People v. Bitdu,10 the
trial court further ruled that even if the private complainant had known that Eduardo had been
previously married, the latter would still be criminally liable for bigamy.

Eduardo appealed the decision to the CA. He alleged that he was not criminally liable for bigamy
because when he married the private complainant, he did so in good faith and without any malicious
intent. He maintained that at the time that he married the private complainant, he was of the honest
belief that his first marriage no longer subsisted. He insisted that conformably to Article 3 of the
Revised Penal Code, there must be malice for one to be criminally liable for a felony. He was not
motivated by malice in marrying the private complainant because he did so only out of his
overwhelming desire to have a fruitful marriage. He posited that the trial court should have taken into
account Article 390 of the New Civil Code. To support his view, the appellant cited the rulings of this
Court in United States v. Peñalosa11 and Manahan, Jr. v. Court of Appeals.12

The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) averred that Eduardo’s defense of good faith and reliance
on the Court’s ruling in United States v. Enriquez13 were misplaced; what is applicable is Article 41 of
the Family Code, which amended Article 390 of the Civil Code. Citing the ruling of this Court
in Republic v. Nolasco,14 the OSG further posited that as provided in Article 41 of the Family Code,
there is a need for a judicial declaration of presumptive death of the absent spouse to enable the
present spouse to marry. Even assuming that the first marriage was void, the parties thereto should
not be permitted to judge for themselves the nullity of the marriage;
the matter should be submitted to the proper court for resolution. Moreover, the OSG maintained, the
private complainant’s knowledge of the first marriage would not afford any relief since bigamy is an
offense against the State and not just against the private complainant.

However, the OSG agreed with the appellant that the penalty imposed by the trial court was
erroneous and sought the affirmance of the decision appealed from with modification.

On June 18, 2004, the CA rendered judgment affirming the decision of the RTC with modification as
to the penalty of the accused. It ruled that the prosecution was able to prove all the elements of
bigamy. Contrary to the contention of the appellant, Article 41 of the Family Code should apply.
Before Manuel could lawfully marry the private complainant, there should have been a judicial
declaration of Gaña’s presumptive death as the absent spouse. The appellate court cited the rulings
of this Court in Mercado v. Tan15 and Domingo v. Court of Appeals16 to support its ruling. The
dispositive portion of the decision reads:

WHEREFORE, in the light of the foregoing, the Decision promulgated on July 31, 2002 is
hereby MODIFIED to reflect, as it hereby reflects, that accused-appellant is sentenced to an
indeterminate penalty of two (2) years, four (4) months and one (1) day of prision correccional, as
minimum, to ten (10) years of prision mayor as maximum. Said Decision is AFFIRMED in all other
respects.

SO ORDERED.17

Eduardo, now the petitioner, filed the instant petition for review on certiorari, insisting that:
I

THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED REVERSIBLE ERROR OF LAW WHEN IT RULED THAT
PETITIONER’S FIRST WIFE CANNOT BE LEGALLY PRESUMED DEAD UNDER ARTICLE 390
OF THE CIVIL CODE AS THERE WAS NO JUDICIAL DECLARATION OF PRESUMPTIVE DEATH
AS PROVIDED FOR UNDER ARTICLE 41 OF THE FAMILY CODE.

II

THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED REVERSIBLE ERROR OF LAW WHEN IT AFFIRMED


THE AWARD OF PHP200,000.00 AS MORAL DAMAGES AS IT HAS NO BASIS IN FACT AND IN
LAW.18

The petitioner maintains that the prosecution failed to prove the second element of the felony, i.e.,
that the marriage has not been legally dissolved or, in case his/her spouse is absent, the absent
spouse could not yet be presumed dead under the Civil Code. He avers that when he married
Gandalera in 1996, Gaña had been "absent" for 21 years since 1975; under Article 390 of the Civil
Code, she was presumed dead as a matter of law. He points out that, under the first paragraph of
Article 390 of the Civil Code, one who has been absent for seven years, whether or not he/she is still
alive, shall be presumed dead for all purposes except for succession, while the second paragraph
refers to the rule on legal presumption of death with respect to succession.

The petitioner asserts that the presumptive death of the absent spouse arises by operation of law
upon the satisfaction of two requirements: the
specified period and the present spouse’s reasonable belief that the absentee is dead. He insists
that he was able to prove that he had not heard from his first wife since 1975 and that he had no
knowledge of her whereabouts or whether she was still alive; hence, under Article 41 of the Family
Code, the presumptive death of Gaña had arisen by operation of law, as the two requirements of
Article 390 of the Civil Code are present. The petitioner concludes that he should thus be acquitted
of the crime of bigamy.

The petitioner insists that except for the period of absences provided for in Article 390 of the Civil
Code, the rule therein on legal presumptions remains valid and effective. Nowhere under Article 390
of the Civil Code does it require that there must first be a judicial declaration of death before the rule
on presumptive death would apply. He further asserts that contrary to the rulings of the trial and
appellate courts, the requirement of a judicial declaration of presumptive death under Article 41 of
the Family Code is only a requirement for the validity of the subsequent or second marriage.

The petitioner, likewise, avers that the trial court and the CA erred in awarding moral damages in
favor of the private complainant. The private complainant was a "GRO" before he married her, and
even knew that he was already married. He genuinely loved and took care of her and gave her
financial support. He also pointed out that she had an illicit relationship with a lover whom she
brought to their house.

In its comment on the petition, the OSG maintains that the decision of the CA affirming the
petitioner’s conviction is in accord with the law, jurisprudence and the evidence on record. To bolster
its claim, the OSG cited the ruling of this Court in Republic v. Nolasco.19

The petition is denied for lack of merit.

Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code, which defines and penalizes bigamy, reads:

Art. 349. Bigamy. – The penalty of prision mayor shall be imposed upon any person who shall
contract a second or subsequent marriage before the former marriage has been legally dissolved, or
before the absent spouse has been declared presumptively dead by means of a judgment rendered
in the proper proceedings.

The provision was taken from Article 486 of the Spanish Penal Code, to wit:

El que contrajere Segundo o ulterior matrimonio sin hallarse legítimamente disuelto el anterior, será
castigado con la pena de prision mayor. xxx
The reason why bigamy is considered a felony is to preserve and ensure the juridical tie of marriage
established by law.20 The phrase "or before the absent spouse had been declared presumptively
dead by means of a judgment rendered in the proper proceedings" was incorporated in the Revised
Penal Code because the drafters of the law were of the impression that "in consonance with the civil
law which provides for the presumption of death after an absence of a number of years, the judicial
declaration of presumed death like annulment of marriage should be a justification for bigamy."21

For the accused to be held guilty of bigamy, the prosecution is burdened to prove the felony: (a)
he/she has been legally married; and (b) he/she contracts a subsequent marriage without the former
marriage having been lawfully dissolved. The felony is consummated on the celebration of the
second marriage or subsequent marriage.22 It is essential in the prosecution for bigamy that the
alleged second marriage, having all the essential requirements, would be valid were it not for the
subsistence of the first marriage.23 Viada avers that a third element of the crime is that the second
marriage must be entered into with fraudulent intent (intencion fraudulente) which is an essential
element of a felony by dolo.24 On the other hand, Cuello Calon is of the view that there are only two
elements of bigamy: (1) the existence of a marriage that has not been lawfully dissolved; and (2) the
celebration of a second marriage. It does not matter whether the first marriage is void or voidable
because such marriages have juridical effects until lawfully dissolved by a court of competent
jurisdiction.25 As the Court ruled in Domingo v. Court of Appeals26 and Mercado v. Tan,27 under the
Family Code of the Philippines, the judicial declaration of nullity of a previous marriage is a defense.

In his commentary on the Revised Penal Code, Albert is of the same view as Viada and declared
that there are three (3) elements of bigamy: (1) an undissolved marriage; (2) a new marriage; and (3)
fraudulent intention constituting the felony of the act.28 He explained that:

… This last element is not stated in Article 349, because it is undoubtedly incorporated in the
principle antedating all codes, and, constituting one of the landmarks of our Penal Code, that, where
there is no willfulness there is no crime. There is no willfulness if the subject
believes that the former marriage has been dissolved; and this must be supported by very strong
evidence, and if this be produced, the act shall be deemed not to constitute a crime. Thus, a person
who contracts a second marriage in the reasonable and well-founded belief that his first wife is dead,
because of the many years that have elapsed since he has had any news of her whereabouts, in
spite of his endeavors to find her, cannot be deemed guilty of the crime of bigamy, because there is
no fraudulent intent which is one of the essential elements of the crime.29

As gleaned from the Information in the RTC, the petitioner is charged with bigamy, a felony
by dolo (deceit). Article 3, paragraph 2 of the Revised Penal Code provides that there is deceit when
the act is performed with deliberate intent. Indeed, a felony cannot exist without intent. Since a
felony by dolo is classified as an intentional felony, it is deemed voluntary.30 Although the words "with
malice" do not appear in Article 3 of the Revised Penal Code, such phrase is included in the word
"voluntary."31

Malice is a mental state or condition prompting the doing of an overt act without legal excuse or
justification from which another suffers injury.32 When the act or omission defined by law as a felony
is proved to have been done or committed by the accused, the law presumes it to have been
intentional.33 Indeed, it is a legal presumption of law that every man intends the natural or probable
consequence of his voluntary act in the absence of proof to the contrary, and such presumption must
prevail unless a reasonable doubt exists from a consideration of the whole evidence.34

For one to be criminally liable for a felony by dolo, there must be a confluence of both an evil act and
an evil intent. Actus non facit reum, nisi mens sit rea.35

In the present case, the prosecution proved that the petitioner was married to Gaña in 1975, and
such marriage was not judicially declared a nullity; hence, the marriage is presumed to subsist.36 The
prosecution also proved that the petitioner married the private complainant in 1996, long after the
effectivity of the Family Code.

The petitioner is presumed to have acted with malice or evil intent when he married the private
complainant. As a general rule, mistake of fact or good faith of the accused is a valid defense in a
prosecution for a felony by dolo; such defense negates malice or criminal intent. However, ignorance
of the law is not an excuse because everyone is presumed to know the law. Ignorantia legis
neminem excusat.
It was the burden of the petitioner to prove his defense that when he married the private complainant
in 1996, he was of the well-grounded belief
that his first wife was already dead, as he had not heard from her for more than 20 years since 1975.
He should have adduced in evidence a decision of a competent court declaring the presumptive
death of his first wife as required by Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code, in relation to Article 41 of
the Family Code. Such judicial declaration also constitutes proof that the petitioner acted in good
faith, and would negate criminal intent on his part when he married the private complainant and, as a
consequence, he could not be held guilty of bigamy in such case. The petitioner, however, failed to
discharge his burden.

The phrase "or before the absent spouse has been declared presumptively dead by means of a
judgment rendered on the proceedings" in Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code was not an
aggroupment of empty or useless words. The requirement for a judgment of the presumptive death
of the absent spouse is for the benefit of the spouse present, as protection from the pains and the
consequences of a second marriage, precisely because he/she could be charged and convicted of
bigamy if the defense of good faith based on mere testimony is found incredible.

The requirement of judicial declaration is also for the benefit of the State. Under Article II, Section 12
of the Constitution, the "State shall protect and strengthen the family as a basic autonomous social
institution." Marriage is a social institution of the highest importance. Public policy, good morals and
the interest of society require that the marital relation should be surrounded with every safeguard
and its severance only in the manner prescribed and the causes specified by law.37 The laws
regulating civil marriages are necessary to serve the interest, safety, good order, comfort or general
welfare of the community and the parties can waive nothing essential to the validity of the
proceedings. A civil marriage anchors an ordered society by encouraging stable relationships over
transient ones; it enhances the welfare of the community.

In a real sense, there are three parties to every civil marriage; two willing spouses and an approving
State. On marriage, the parties assume new relations to each other and the State touching nearly on
every aspect of life and death. The consequences of an invalid marriage to the parties, to innocent
parties and to society, are so serious that the law may well take means calculated to ensure the
procurement of the most positive evidence of death of the first spouse or of the presumptive death of
the absent spouse38 after the lapse of the period provided for under the law. One such means is the
requirement of the declaration by a competent court of the presumptive death of an absent spouse
as proof that the present spouse contracts a subsequent marriage on a well-grounded belief of the
death of the first spouse. Indeed, "men readily believe what they wish to be true," is a maxim of the
old jurists. To sustain a second marriage and to vacate a first because one of the parties believed
the other to be dead would make the existence of the marital relation determinable, not by certain
extrinsic facts, easily capable of forensic ascertainment and proof, but by the subjective condition of
individuals.39 Only with such proof can marriage be treated as so dissolved as to permit second
marriages.40 Thus, Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code has made the dissolution of marriage
dependent not only upon the personal belief of parties, but upon certain objective facts easily
capable of accurate judicial cognizance,41 namely, a judgment of the presumptive death of the
absent spouse.

The petitioner’s sole reliance on Article 390 of the Civil Code as basis for his acquittal for bigamy is
misplaced.

Articles 390 and 391 of the Civil Code provide –

Art. 390. After an absence of seven years, it being unknown whether or not, the absentee still lives,
he shall be presumed dead for all purposes, except for those of succession.

The absentee shall not be presumed dead for the purpose of opening his succession till after an
absence of ten years. If he disappeared after the age of seventy-five years, an absence of five years
shall be sufficient in order that his succession may be opened.

Art. 391. The following shall be presumed dead for all purposes, including the division of the estate
among the heirs:

(1) A person on board a vessel lost during a sea voyage, or an aeroplane which is missing, who has
not been heard of for four years since the loss of the vessel or aeroplane;

(2) A person in the armed forces who has taken part in war, and has been missing for four years;
(3) A person who has been in danger of death under other circumstances and his existence has not
been known for four years.

The presumption of death of the spouse who had been absent for seven years, it being unknown
whether or not the absentee still lives, is created by law and arises without any necessity of judicial
declaration.42 However, Article 41 of the Family Code, which amended the foregoing rules on
presumptive death, reads:

Art. 41. A marriage contracted by any person during the subsistence of a previous marriage shall be
null and void, unless before the celebration of the subsequent marriage, the prior spouse had been
absent for four consecutive years and the spouse present had a well-founded belief that the absent
spouse was already dead. In case of disappearance where there is danger of death under the
circumstances set forth in the provisions of Article 391 of the Civil Code, an absence of only two
years shall be sufficient.

For the purpose of contracting the subsequent marriage under the preceding paragraph, the spouse
present must institute a summary proceeding as provided in this Court for the declaration of
presumptive death of the absentee, without prejudice to the effect of reappearance of the absent
spouse.43

With the effectivity of the Family Code,44 the period of seven years under the first paragraph of
Article 390 of the Civil Code was reduced to four consecutive years. Thus, before the spouse
present may contract a subsequent marriage, he or she must institute summary proceedings for the
declaration of the presumptive death of the absentee spouse,45 without prejudice to the effect of the
reappearance of the absentee spouse. As explained by this Court in Armas v. Calisterio:46

In contrast, under the 1988 Family Code, in order that a subsequent bigamous marriage may
exceptionally be considered valid, the following conditions must concur, viz.: (a) The prior spouse of
the contracting party must have been absent for four consecutive years, or two years where there is
danger of death under the circumstances stated in Article 391 of the Civil Code at the time of
disappearance; (b) the spouse present has a well-founded belief that the absent spouse is already
dead; and (c) there is, unlike the old rule, a judicial declaration of presumptive death of the absentee
for which purpose the spouse present can institute a summary proceeding in court to ask for that
declaration. The last condition is consistent and in consonance with the requirement of judicial
intervention in subsequent marriages as so provided in Article 41, in relation to Article 40, of the
Family Code.

The Court rejects petitioner’s contention that the requirement of instituting a petition for declaration of
presumptive death under Article 41 of the Family Code is designed merely to enable the spouse
present to contract a valid second marriage and not for the acquittal of one charged with bigamy.
Such provision was designed to harmonize civil law and Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code, and
put to rest the confusion spawned by the rulings of this Court and comments of eminent authorities
on Criminal Law.

As early as March 6, 1937, this Court ruled in Jones v. Hortiguela47 that, for purposes of the marriage
law, it is not necessary to have the former spouse judicially declared an absentee before the spouse
present may contract a subsequent marriage. It held that the declaration of absence made in
accordance with the provisions of the Civil Code has for its sole purpose the taking of the necessary
precautions for the administration of the estate of the absentee. For the celebration of civil marriage,
however, the law only requires that the former spouse had been absent for seven consecutive years
at the time of the second marriage, that the spouse present does not know his or her former spouse
to be living, that such former spouse is generally reputed to be dead and the spouse present so
believes at the time of the celebration of the marriage.48 In In Re Szatraw,49 the Court declared that a
judicial declaration that a person is presumptively dead, because he or she had been unheard from
in seven years, being a presumption juris tantum only, subject to contrary proof, cannot reach the
stage of finality or become final; and that proof of actual death of the person presumed dead being
unheard from in seven years, would have to be made in another proceeding to have such particular
fact finally determined. The Court ruled that if a judicial decree declaring a person presumptively
dead because he or she had not been heard from in seven years cannot become final and executory
even after the lapse of the reglementary period within which an appeal may be taken, for such
presumption is still disputable and remains subject to contrary proof, then a petition for such a
declaration is useless, unnecessary, superfluous and of no benefit to the petitioner. The Court stated
that it should not waste its valuable time and be made to perform a superfluous and meaningless
act.50 The Court also took note that a petition for a declaration of the presumptive death of an absent
spouse may even be made in collusion with the other spouse.

In Lukban v. Republic of the Philippines,51 the Court declared that the words "proper proceedings" in
Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code can only refer to those authorized by law such as Articles 390
and 391 of the Civil Code which refer to the administration or settlement of the estate of a deceased
person. In Gue v. Republic of the Philippines,52 the Court rejected the contention of the petitioner
therein that, under Article 390 of the Civil Code, the courts are authorized to declare the presumptive
death of a person after an absence of seven years. The Court reiterated its rulings in Szatraw,
Lukban and Jones.

Former Chief Justice Ramon C. Aquino was of the view that "the provision of Article 349 or "before
the absent spouse has been declared presumptively dead by means of a judgment reached in the
proper proceedings" is erroneous and should be considered as not written. He opined that such
provision presupposes that, if the prior marriage has not been legally dissolved and the absent first
spouse has not been declared presumptively dead in a proper court proceedings, the subsequent
marriage is bigamous. He maintains that the supposition is not true.53 A second marriage is
bigamous only when the circumstances in paragraphs 1 and 2 of Article 83 of the Civil Code are not
present.54 Former Senator Ambrosio Padilla was, likewise, of the view that Article 349 seems to
require judicial decree of dissolution or judicial declaration of absence but even with such decree, a
second marriage in good faith will not constitute bigamy. He posits that a second marriage, if not
illegal, even if it be annullable, should not give rise to bigamy.55 Former Justice Luis B. Reyes, on the
other hand, was of the view that in the case of an absent spouse who could not yet be presumed
dead according to the Civil Code, the spouse present cannot be charged and convicted of bigamy in
case he/she contracts a second marriage.56

The Committee tasked to prepare the Family Code proposed the amendments of Articles 390 and
391 of the Civil Code to conform to Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code, in that, in a case where a
spouse is absent for the requisite period, the present spouse may contract a subsequent marriage
only after securing a judgment declaring the presumptive death of the absent spouse to avoid being
charged and convicted of bigamy; the present spouse will have to adduce evidence that he had a
well-founded belief that the absent spouse was already dead.57 Such judgment is proof of the good
faith of the present spouse who contracted a subsequent marriage; thus, even if the present spouse
is later charged with bigamy if the absentee spouse reappears, he cannot be convicted of the crime.
As explained by former Justice Alicia Sempio-Diy:

… Such rulings, however, conflict with Art. 349 of the Revised Penal Code providing that the present
spouse must first ask for a declaration of presumptive death of the absent spouse in order not to be
guilty of bigamy in case he or she marries again.

The above Article of the Family Code now clearly provides that for the purpose of the present
spouse contracting a second marriage, he or she must file a summary proceeding as provided in the
Code for the declaration of the presumptive death of the absentee, without prejudice to the latter’s
reappearance. This provision is intended to protect the present spouse from a criminal prosecution
for bigamy under Art. 349 of the Revised Penal Code because with the judicial declaration that the
missing spouses presumptively dead, the good faith of the present spouse in contracting a second
marriage is already established.58

Of the same view is former Dean Ernesto L. Pineda (now Undersecretary of Justice) who wrote that
things are now clarified. He says judicial declaration of presumptive death is now authorized for
purposes of
remarriage. The present spouse must institute a summary proceeding for declaration of presumptive
death of the absentee, where the ordinary rules of procedure in trial will not be followed. Affidavits
will suffice, with possible clarificatory examinations of affiants if the Judge finds it necessary for a full
grasp of the facts. The judgment declaring an absentee as presumptively dead is without prejudice
to the effect of reappearance of the said absentee.

Dean Pineda further states that before, the weight of authority is that the clause "before the absent
spouse has been declared presumptively dead x x x" should be disregarded because of Article 83,
paragraph 3 of the Civil Code. With the new law, there is a need to institute a summary proceeding
for the declaration of the presumptive death of the absentee, otherwise, there is bigamy.59

According to Retired Supreme Court Justice Florenz D. Regalado, an eminent authority on Criminal
Law, in some cases where an absentee spouse is believed to be dead, there must be a judicial
declaration of presumptive death, which could then be made only in the proceedings for the
settlement of his estate.60 Before such declaration, it was held that the remarriage of the other
spouse is bigamous even if done in good faith.61 Justice Regalado opined that there were contrary
views because of the ruling in Jones and the provisions of Article 83(2) of the Civil Code, which,
however, appears to have been set to rest by Article 41 of the Family Code, "which requires a
summary hearing for the declaration of presumptive death of the absent spouse before the other
spouse can remarry."

Under Article 238 of the Family Code, a petition for a declaration of the presumptive death of an
absent spouse under Article 41 of the Family Code may be filed under Articles 239 to 247 of the
same Code.62

On the second issue, the petitioner, likewise, faults the trial court and the CA for awarding moral
damages in favor of the private complainant. The petitioner maintains that moral damages may be
awarded only in any of the cases provided in Article 2219 of the Civil Code, and bigamy is not one of
them. The petitioner asserts that the appellate court failed to apply its ruling in People v.
Bondoc,63 where an award of moral damages for bigamy was disallowed. In any case, the petitioner
maintains, the private complainant failed to adduce evidence to prove moral damages.

The appellate court awarded moral damages to the private complainant on its finding that she
adduced evidence to prove the same. The appellate court ruled that while bigamy is not included in
those cases enumerated in Article 2219 of the Civil Code, it is not proscribed from awarding moral
damages against the petitioner. The appellate court ruled that it is not bound by the following ruling
in People v. Bondoc:

... Pero si en dichos asuntos se adjudicaron daños, ello se debió indedublamente porque el articulo
2219 del Código Civil de Filipinas autoriza la adjudicación de daños morales en los delitos de
estupro, rapto, violación, adulterio o concubinato, y otros actos lascivos, sin incluir en esta
enumeración el delito de bigamia. No existe, por consiguiente, base legal para adjudicar aquí los
daños de ₱5,000.00 arriba mencionados.64

The OSG posits that the findings and ruling of the CA are based on the evidence and the law. The
OSG, likewise, avers that the CA was not bound by its ruling in People v. Rodeo.

The Court rules against the petitioner.

Moral damages include physical suffering, mental anguish, fright, serious anxiety, besmirched
reputation, wounded feelings, moral shock, social humiliation, and similar injury. Though incapable of
pecuniary computation, moral damages may be recovered if they are the proximate result of the
defendant’s wrongful act or omission.65 An award for moral damages requires the confluence of the
following conditions: first, there must be an injury, whether physical, mental or psychological, clearly
sustained by the claimant; second, there must be culpable act or omission factually
established; third, the wrongful act or omission of the defendant is the proximate cause of the injury
sustained by the claimant; and fourth, the award of damages is predicated on any of the cases
stated in Article 2219 or Article 2220 of the Civil Code.66

Moral damages may be awarded in favor of the offended party only in criminal cases enumerated in
Article 2219, paragraphs 1, 3, 4, 5 and 7 of the Civil Code and analogous cases, viz.:

Art. 2219. Moral damages may be recovered in the following and analogous cases.

(1) A criminal offense resulting in physical injuries;

(2) Quasi-delicts causing physical injuries;

(3) Seduction, abduction, rape, or other lascivious acts;

(4) Adultery or concubinage;

(5) Illegal or arbitrary detention or arrest;

(6) Illegal search;


(7) Libel, slander or any other form of defamation;

(8) Malicious prosecution;

(9) Acts mentioned in article 309;

(10) Acts and actions referred to in articles 21, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 32, 34 and 35.

The parents of the female seduced, abducted, raped, or abused, referred to in No. 3 of this article,
may also recover moral damages.

The spouse, descendants, ascendants, and brothers and sisters may bring the action mentioned in
No. 9 of this article in the order named.

Thus, the law does not intend that moral damages should be awarded in all cases where the
aggrieved party has suffered mental anguish, fright, moral anxieties, besmirched reputation,
wounded feelings, moral shock, social humiliation and similar injury arising out of an act or omission
of another, otherwise, there would not have been any reason for the inclusion of specific acts in
Article 221967 and analogous cases (which refer to those cases bearing analogy or resemblance,
corresponds to some others or resembling, in other respects, as in form, proportion, relation, etc.)68

Indeed, bigamy is not one of those specifically mentioned in Article 2219 of the Civil Code in which
the offender may be ordered to pay moral damages to the private complainant/offended party.
Nevertheless, the petitioner is liable to the private complainant for moral damages under Article 2219
in relation to Articles 19, 20 and 21 of the Civil Code.

According to Article 19, "every person must, in the exercise of his rights and in the performance of
his act with justice, give everyone his due, and observe honesty and good faith." This provision
contains what is commonly referred to as the principle of abuse of rights, and sets certain standards
which must be observed not only in the exercise of one’s rights but also in the performance of one’s
duties. The standards are the following: act with justice; give everyone his due; and observe honesty
and good faith. The elements for abuse of rights are: (a) there is a legal right or duty; (b) exercised in
bad faith; and (c) for the sole intent of prejudicing or injuring another.69

Article 20 speaks of the general sanctions of all other provisions of law which do not especially
provide for its own sanction. When a right is exercised in a manner which does not conform to the
standards set forth in the said provision and results in damage to another, a legal wrong is thereby
committed for which the wrongdoer must be responsible.70 If the provision does not provide a
remedy for its violation, an action for damages under either Article 20 or Article 21 of the Civil Code
would be proper. Article 20 provides that "every person who, contrary to law, willfully or negligently
causes damage to another shall indemnify the latter for the same." On the other hand, Article 21
provides that "any person who willfully causes loss or injury to another in a manner that is contrary to
morals, good customs or public policy shall compensate the latter for damages." The latter provision
is adopted to remedy "the countless gaps in the statutes which leave so many victims of moral
wrongs helpless, even though they have actually suffered material and moral injury should
vouchsafe adequate legal remedy for that untold number of moral wrongs which it is impossible for
human foresight to prove for specifically in the statutes." Whether or not the principle of abuse of
rights has been violated resulting in damages under Article 20 or Article 21 of the Civil Code or other
applicable provisions of law depends upon the circumstances of each case.71

In the present case, the petitioner courted the private complainant and proposed to marry her. He
assured her that he was single. He even brought his parents to the house of the private complainant
where he and his parents made the same assurance – that he was single. Thus, the private
complainant agreed to marry the petitioner, who even stated in the certificate of marriage that he
was single. She lived with the petitioner and dutifully performed her duties as his wife, believing all
the while that he was her lawful husband. For two years or so until the petitioner heartlessly
abandoned her, the private complainant had no inkling that he was already married to another
before they were married.

Thus, the private complainant was an innocent victim of the petitioner’s chicanery and heartless
deception, the fraud consisting not of a single act alone, but a continuous series of acts. Day by day,
he maintained the appearance of being a lawful husband to the private complainant, who
changed her status from a single woman to a married woman, lost the consortium, attributes and
support of a single man she could have married lawfully and endured mental pain and humiliation,
being bound to a man who it turned out was not her lawful husband.72

The Court rules that the petitioner’s collective acts of fraud and deceit before, during and after his
marriage with the private complainant were willful, deliberate and with malice and caused injury to
the latter. That she did not sustain any physical injuries is not a bar to an award for moral damages.
Indeed, in Morris v. Macnab,73 the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled:

xxx The defendant cites authorities which indicate that, absent physical injuries, damages for shame,
humiliation, and mental anguish are not recoverable where the actor is simply negligent. See
Prosser, supra, at p. 180; 2 Harper & James, Torts, 1031 (1956). But the authorities all recognize
that where the wrong is willful rather than negligent, recovery may be had for the ordinary, natural,
and proximate consequences though they consist of shame, humiliation, and mental anguish. See
Spiegel v. Evergreen Cemetery Co., 117 NJL 90, 94, 186 A 585 (Sup. Ct. 1936); Kuzma v. Millinery
Workers, etc., Local 24, 27 N.J. Super, 579, 591, 99 A.2d 833 (App. Div. 1953); Prosser, supra, at p.
38. Here the defendant’s conduct was not merely negligent, but was willfully and maliciously
wrongful. It was bound to result in shame, humiliation, and mental anguish for the plaintiff, and when
such result did ensue the plaintiff became entitled not only to compensatory but also to punitive
damages. See Spiegel v. Evergreen Cemetery Co., supra; Kuzma v Millinery Workers, etc., Local
24, supra. CF. Note, "Exemplary Damages in the Law of Torts," 70 Harv. L. Rev. 517 (1957). The
plaintiff testified that because of the defendant’s bigamous marriage to her and the attendant
publicity she not only was embarrassed and "ashamed to go out" but "couldn’t sleep" but "couldn’t
eat," had terrific headaches" and "lost quite a lot of weight." No just basis appears for judicial
interference with the jury’s reasonable allowance of $1,000 punitive damages on the first count. See
Cabakov v. Thatcher, 37 N.J. Super 249, 117 A.2d 298 (App. Div.74 1955).

The Court thus declares that the petitioner’s acts are against public policy as they undermine and
subvert the family as a social institution, good morals and the interest and general welfare of society.

Because the private complainant was an innocent victim of the petitioner’s perfidy, she is not barred
from claiming moral damages. Besides, even considerations of public policy would not prevent her
from recovery. As held in Jekshewitz v. Groswald:75

Where a person is induced by the fraudulent representation of another to do an act which, in


consequence of such misrepresentation, he believes to be neither illegal nor immoral, but which is in
fact a criminal offense, he has a right of action against the person so inducing him for damages
sustained by him in consequence of his having done such act. Burrows v. Rhodes, [1899] 1 Q.B.
816. In Cooper v. Cooper, 147 Mass. 370, 17 N.E. 892, 9 Am. St. Rep. 721, the court said that a
false representation by the defendant that he was divorced from his former wife, whereby the plaintiff
was induced to marry him, gave her a remedy in tort for deceit. It seems to have been assumed that
the fact that she had unintentionally violated the law or innocently committed a crime by cohabiting
with him would be no bar to the action, but rather that it might be a ground for enhancing her
damages. The injury to the plaintiff was said to be in her being led by the promise to give the
fellowship and assistance of a wife to one who was not her husband and to assume and act in a
relation and condition that proved to be false and ignominious. Damages for such an injury were
held to be recoverable in Sherman v. Rawson, 102 Mass. 395 and Kelley v. Riley, 106 Mass. 339,
343, 8 Am. Rep. 336.

Furthermore, in the case at bar the plaintiff does not base her cause of action upon any
transgression of the law by herself but upon the defendant’s misrepresentation. The criminal
relations which followed, innocently on her part, were but one of the incidental results of the
defendant’s fraud for which damages may be assessed.

[7] Actions for deceit for fraudulently inducing a woman to enter into the marriage relation have been
maintained in other jurisdictions. Sears v. Wegner, 150 Mich. 388, 114 N.W. 224, 17 L.R. A. (N.S.)
819; Larson v. McMillan, 99 Wash. 626, 170 P. 324; Blossom v. Barrett, 37 N.Y. 434, 97 Am. Dec.
747; Morril v. Palmer, 68 Vt. 1, 33 A. 829, 33 L.R.A. 411. Considerations of public policy would not
prevent recovery where the circumstances are such that the plaintiff was conscious of no moral
turpitude, that her illegal action was induced solely by the defendant’s misrepresentation, and that
she does not base her cause of action upon any transgression of the law by herself. Such
considerations
distinguish this case from cases in which the court has refused to lend its aid to the enforcement of a
contract illegal on its face or to one who has consciously and voluntarily become a party to an illegal
act upon which the cause of action is founded. Szadiwicz v. Cantor, 257 Mass. 518, 520, 154 N.E.
251, 49 A. L. R. 958.76

Considering the attendant circumstances of the case, the Court finds the award of ₱200,000.00 for
moral damages to be just and reasonable.

IN LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the petition is DENIED. The assailed decision of the Court of
Appeals isAFFIRMED.Costs against the petitioner.

SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 141529 June 6, 2001

FRANCISCO YAP, JR., aka EDWIN YAP, petitioner,


vs.
COURT OF APPEALS and THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondents.

GONZAGA-REYES, J.:

The right against excessive bail, and the liberty of abode and travel, are being invoked to set aside
two resolutions of the Court of Appeals which fixed bail at P5,500,000.00 and imposed conditions on
change of residence and travel abroad.

For misappropriating amounts equivalent to P5,500,000.00, petitioner was convicted of estafa by the
Regional Trial Court of Pasig City1 and was sentenced to four years and two months of prision
correctional, as minimum to eight years of prision mayor as maximum, "in addition to one (1) year for
each additional P10,000.00 in excess of P22,000.00 but in no case shall it exceed twenty (20)
years."2 He filed a notice of appeal, and moved to be allowed provisional liberty under the cash bond
he had filed earlier in the proceedings. The motion was denied by the trial court in an order dated
February 17,1999.

After the records of the case were transmitted to the Court of Appeals, petitioner filed with the said
court a Motion to Fix Bail For the Provisional Liberty of Accused Appellant Pending Appeal, invoking
the last paragraph of Section 5, Rule 114 of the 1997 Revised Rules of Court. Asked to comment on
this motion, the Solicitor General opined that petitioner may be allowed to post bail in the amount of
P5,500,000.00 and be required to secure "a certification/guaranty from the Mayor of the place of his
residence that he is a resident of the area and that he will remain to be so until final judgment is
rendered or in case he transfers residence, it must be with prior notice to the court and private
complainant."3 Petitioner filed a Reply, contending that the proposed bail ofP5,500,000.00 was
violative of his right against excessive bail.

The assailed resolution of the Court of Appeals4, issued on October 6, 1999, upheld the
recommendation of the Solicitor General; thus, its dispositive portion reads:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the "Motion to Fix Bail For Provisional Liberty of
Accused-Appellant Pending Appeal" is hereby GRANTED. Accused-appellant Francisco
Yap, Jr., a.k.a. Edwin Yap is hereby ALLOWED TO POST BAIL in the amount of Five Million
Five Hundred Thousand (P5,500,000.00) Pesos, subject to the following conditions, viz. :

(1) He (accused-appellant) secures a certification/guaranty from the Mayor of the


place of his residence that he is a resident of the area and that he will remain to be a
resident therein until final judgment is rendered or in case he transfers residence, it
must be with prior notice to the court;

(2) The Commission of lmmigration and Deportation (CID) is hereby directed to issue
a hold departure order against accused-appellant; and

(3) The accused-appellant shall forthwith surrender his passport to the Division Clerk
of Court for safekeeping until the court orders its return;

(4) Any violation of the aforesaid conditions shall cause the forfeiture of accused-
appellant's bail bond, the dismissal of appeal and his immediate arrest and
confinement in jail.
SO ORDERED.5

A motion for reconsideration was filed, seeking the reduction of the amount of bail fixed by
respondent court, but was denied in a resolution issued on November 25, 1999. Hence, this petition.

Petitioner sets out the following assignments of error:

The respondent Court of Appeals committed grave abuse of discretion in fixing the bail of the
provisional liberty of petitioner pending appeal in the amount of P5 .5 million.

The respondent Court of Appeals committed grave abuse of discretion in basing the bail for
the provisional liberty of the petitioner on his civil liability.

The respondent Court of Appeals unduly restricted petitioner's constitutional liberty of abode
and travel in imposing the other conditions for the grant of bail.

Petitioner contends that the Court of Appeals, by setting bail at a prohibitory amount, effectively
denied him his right to bail. He challenges the legal basis of respondent court for fixing bail at
P5,500,000.00, which is equivalent to the amount of his civil liability to private complainant Manila
Mahogany Marketing Corporation, and argues that the Rules of Court never intended for the civil
liability of the accused to be a guideline or basis for determining the amount of bail. He prays that
bail be reduced to at least P40,000.00, citing the maximum amount of bail that can be posted for the
crime of estafa under the 1996 Bail Bond Guide, or P20,000.00, equivalent to the amount of bail he
posted during the trial of the case.6

On the other hand, the Solicitor General maintains that no grave abuse of discretion could be
ascribed to the Court of Appeals for fixing the amount of bail at P5,500,000.00 considering the
severity of the penalty imposed, the weight of the evidence against petitioner, and the gravity of the
offense of which petitioner was convicted by the RTC. He asserted that the P5,500,000.00 not only
corresponded to civil liability but also to the amount of fraud imputed to petitioner. The Solicitor
General further pointed out the probability of flight in case petitioner is released on bail, it having
been established that petitioner was in possession of a valid passport and visa and had in fact left
the country several times during the course of the proceedings in the lower court. It was also shown
that petitioner used different names in his business transactions and had several abodes in different
parts of the country.

As for the conditions imposed by the bail bond, the Solicitor General advanced that all that the Court
of Appeals requires is notice in case of change of address; it does not in any way impair petitioner's
right to change abode for as long as the court is apprised of his change of residence during the
pendency of the appeal.

Petitioner's case falls within the provisions of Section 5, Rule 114 of the 1997 Rules of Court which
states:

SEC. 5. Bail, when discretionary. -- Upon conviction by the Regional Trial Court of an offense
not punishable by death, reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment, the court, on application,
may admit the accused to bail.

The court, in its discretion, may allow the accused to continue on provisional liberty under the
same bail bond during the period to appeal subject to the consent of the bondsman.

If the court imposed a penalty of imprisonment exceeding six (6) years, but not more than
twenty (20) years, the accused shall be denied bail, or his bail previously granted shall be
cancelled, upon a showing by the prosecution, with notice to the accused, of the following or
other similar circumstances:

(a) That the accused is a recidivist, quasi-recidivist, or habitual delinquent, or has committed
the crime aggravated by the circumstance of reiteration;

(b) That the accused is found to have previously escaped from legal confinement, evaded
sentence, or has violated the conditions of his bail without valid justification;
(c) That the accused committed the offense while on probation, parole, or under conditional
pardon;

(d) That the circumstances of the accused or his case indicate the probability of flight if
released on bail; or

(e) That there is undue risk that during the pendency of the appeal, the accused may commit
another crime.

The appellate court may review the resolution of the Regional Trial Court, on motion and with
notice to the adverse party.7

There is no question that in the present case the Court of Appeals exercised its discretion in favor of
allowing bail to petitioner on appeal. Respondent court stated that it was doing so for "humanitarian
reasons", and despite a perceived high risk of flight, as by petitioner's admission he went out of the
country several times during the pendency of the case, for which reason the court deemed it
necessary to peg the amount of bail at P5,500,000.00.

The prohibition against requiring excessive bail is enshrined in the Constitution.8 The obvious
rationale, as declared in the leading case of De la Camara vs. Enage,9 is that imposing bail in an
excessive amount could render meaningless the right to bail. Thus, in Villaseñor vs. Abano,10 this
Court made the pronouncement that it will not hesitate to exercise its supervisory powers over lower
courts should the latter, after holding the accused entitled to bail, effectively deny the same by
imposing a prohibitory sum or exacting unreasonable conditions.

xxx There is grim irony in an accused being told that he has a right to bail but at the same
time being required to post such an exorbitant sum. What aggravates the situation is that the
lower court judge would apparently yield to the command of the fundamental law. In reality,
such a sanctimonious avowal of respect for a mandate of the Constitution was on a purely
verbal level. There is reason to believe that any person in the position of petitioner would
under the circumstances be unable to resist thoughts of escaping from confinement, reduced
as he must have been to a state of desperation. In the same breath as he was told he could
be bailed out, the excessive amount required could only mean that provisional liberty would
be beyond his reach. It would have been more forthright if he were informed categorically
that such a right could not be availed of. There would have been no disappointment of
expectations then. It does call to mind these words of Justice Jackson, "a promise to the ear
to be broken to the hope, a teasing illusion like a munificent bequest in a pauper's will."
XXX11

At the same time, Section 9, Rule 114 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure advises courts to
consider the following factors in the setting of the amount of bail:

(a) Financial ability of the accused to give bail;

(b) Nature and circumstances of the offense;

(c) Penalty for the offense charged;

(d) Character and reputation of the accused;

(e) Age and health of the accused;

(f) Weight of the evidence against the accused;

(g) Probability of the accused appearing at the trial;

(h) Forfeiture of other bail;

(i) The fact that the accused was a fugitive from justice when arrested; and

(j) Pendency of other cases where the accused is on bail.


Thus, the court has wide latitude in fixing the amount of bail. Where it fears that the accused may
jump bail, it is certainly not precluded from installing devices to ensure against the same. Options
may include increasing the bail bond to an appropriate level, or requiring the person to report
periodically to the court and to make an accounting of his movements.12 In the present case, where
petitioner was found to have left the country several times while the case was pending, the Court of
Appeals required the confiscation of his passport and the issuance of a hold-departure order against
him.

Under the circumstances of this case, we find that appropriate conditions have been imposed in the
bail bond to ensure against the risk of flight, particularly, the combination of the hold-departure order
and the requirement that petitioner inform the court of any change of residence and of his
whereabouts. Although an increase in the amount of bail while the case is on appeal may be
meritorious, we find that the setting of the amount at P5,500,000.00 is unreasonable, excessive, and
constitutes an effective denial of petitioner's right to bail.

The purpose for bail is to guarantee the appearance of the accused at the trial,13 or whenever so
required by the Court14. The amount should be high enough to assure the presence of the accused
when required but no higher than is reasonably calculated to fulfill this purpose.15 To fix bail at an
amount equivalent to the civil liability of which petitioner is charged (in this case, P5,500,000.00).is to
permit the impression that the amount paid as bail is an exaction of the civil liability that accused is
charged of; this we cannot allow because bail is not intended as a punishment, nor as a satisfaction
of civil liability which should necessarily await the judgment of the appellate court.

At the same time, we cannot yield to petitioner's submission that bail in the instant case be set at
P40,000.00 based on the 1996 Bail Bond Guide. (The current Bail Bond Guide, issued on August
29, 2000, maintains recommended bail at P40,000.00 for estafa where the amount of fraud is
P142,000.00 or over and the imposable penalty 20 years of reclusion temporal). True, the Court has
held that the Bail Bond Guide, a circular of the Department of Justice for the guidance of state
prosecutors, although technically not binding upon the courts, "merits attention, being in a sense an
expression of policy of the Executive Branch, through the Department of Justice, in the enforcement
of criminal laws."16 Thus, courts are advised that they must not only be aware but should also
consider the Bail Bond Guide due to its significance in the administration of criminal justice.17 This
notwithstanding, the Court is not precluded from imposing in petitioner's case an amount higher than
P40,000.00 (based on the Bail Bond Guide) where it perceives that an appropriate increase is
dictated by the circumstances.

It militates emphasis that petitioner is seeking bail on appeal. Section 5, Rule 114 of the Revised
Rules of Criminal Procedure is clear that although the grant of bail on appeal is non-capital offenses
is discretionary, when the penalty imposed on the convicted accused exceeds six years and
circumstances exist that point to the probability of flight if released on bail, then the accused must be
denied bail, or his bail previously granted should be cancelled.18 In the same vein, the Court has held
that the discretion to extend bail during the course of the appeal should be exercised with grave
caution and for strong reasons, considering that the accused had been in fact convicted by the trial
court.19 In an earlier case, the Court adopted Senator Vicente J. Francisco's disquisition on why bail
should be denied after judgment of conviction as a matter of wise discretion; thus:

The importance attached to conviction is due to the underlying principle that bail should be
granted only where it is uncertain whether the accused is guilty or innocent, and therefore,
where that uncertainty is removed by conviction it would, generally speaking, be absurd to
admit to bail. After a person has been tried and convicted the presumption of innocence
which may be relied upon in prior applications is rebutted, and the burden is upon the
accused to show error in the conviction. From another point of view it may be properly
argued that the probability of ultimate punishment is so enhanced by the conviction that the
accused is much more likely to attempt to escape if liberated on bail than before
conviction.xxx20

Petitioner is seeking bail on appeal. He was in fact declared guilty beyond reasonable doubt by the
RTC, and due to the serious amount of fraud involved, sentenced to imprisonment for twenty years --
the maximum penalty for estafa by false pretenses or fraudulent acts allowed by the Revised Penal
Code. Although it cannot be controverted that the Court of Appeals, despite the foregoing
considerations and the possibility of flight still wielded its discretion to grant petitioner bail, the setting
of bail in the amount of P5,500,000.00 is unjustified as having no legal nor factual basis. Guided by
the penalty imposed by the lower court and the weight of the evidence against petitioner, we believe
that the amount of P200,000.00 is more reasonable.
Petitioner also contests the condition imposed by the Court of Appeals that he secure "a
certification/guaranty from the Mayor of the place of his residence that he is a resident of the area
and that he will remain to be a resident therein until final judgment is rendered or in case he transfers
residence, it must be with prior notice to the court", claiming that the same violates his liberty of
abode and travel.

Notably, petitioner does not question the hold-departure order which prevents him from leaving the
Philippines unless expressly permitted by the court which issued the order.21 In fact, the petition
submits that "the hold-departure order against petitioner is already sufficient guarantee that he will
not escape. Thus, to require him to inform the court every time he changed his residence is already
unnecessary."22

The right to change abode and travel within the Philippines, being invoked by petitioner, are not
absolute rights. Section 6, Article III of the 1987 Constitution states:

The liberty of abode and of changing the same within the limits prescribed by law shall not be
impaired except upon lawful order of the court. Neither shall the right to travel be impaired
except in the interest of national security, public safety, or public health, as may be provided
by law.

The order of the Court of Appeals releasing petitioner on bail constitutes such lawful order as
contemplated by the above provision.23 The condition imposed by the Court of Appeals is simply
consistent with the nature and function of a bail bond, which is to ensure that petitioner will make
himself available at all times whenever the Court requires his presence. Besides, a closer look at the
questioned condition will show that petitioner is not prevented from changing abode; he is merely
required to inform the court in case he does so.

WHEREFORE, the petition is PARTIALLY GRANTED. Petitioner's bail pending appeal is reduced
from P5,500,000.00 to P200,000.00. In all other respects, the resolutions of the Court of Appeals,
dated October 6, 1999 and November 25, 1999, respectively, are AFFIRMED. No pronouncement
as to costs.

SO ORDERED. 1âw phi1.nêt

REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, G.R. No. 166676


Petitioner,
Present:

QUISUMBING, J., Chairperson,


- versus - CARPIO MORALES,
TINGA,
VELASCO, JR., and
BRION, JJ.

JENNIFER B. CAGANDAHAN, Promulgated:


Respondent.
September 12, 2008
x- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x

DECISION
QUISUMBING, J.:

This is a petition for review under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court raising
purely questions of law and seeking a reversal of the Decision[1] dated January 12,
2005 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 33 of Siniloan, Laguna, which
granted the Petition for Correction of Entries in Birth Certificate filed by Jennifer B.
Cagandahan and ordered the following changes of entries in Cagandahans birth
certificate: (1) the name Jennifer Cagandahan changed to Jeff Cagandahan and (2)
gender from female to male.

The facts are as follows.

On December 11, 2003, respondent Jennifer Cagandahan filed a Petition for


Correction of Entries in Birth Certificate[2] before the RTC, Branch 33 of Siniloan,
Laguna.

In her petition, she alleged that she was born on January 13, 1981 and was
registered as a female in the Certificate of Live Birth but while growing up, she
developed secondary male characteristics and was diagnosed to have Congenital
Adrenal Hyperplasia (CAH) which is a condition where persons thus afflicted
possess both male and female characteristics. She further alleged that she was
diagnosed to have clitoral hypertrophy in her early years and at age six, underwent
an ultrasound where it was discovered that she has small ovaries. At age thirteen,
tests revealed that her ovarian structures had minimized, she has stopped growing
and she has no breast or menstrual development. She then alleged that for all
interests and appearances as well as in mind and emotion, she has become a male
person. Thus, she prayed that her birth certificate be corrected such that her gender
be changed from female to male and her first name be changed from Jennifer to
Jeff.

The petition was published in a newspaper of general circulation for three


(3) consecutive weeks and was posted in conspicuous places by the sheriff of the
court. The Solicitor General entered his appearance and authorized the Assistant
Provincial Prosecutor to appear in his behalf.

To prove her claim, respondent testified and presented the testimony of Dr.
Michael Sionzon of the Department of Psychiatry, University of
the PhilippinesPhilippine General Hospital. Dr. Sionzon issued a medical
certificate stating that respondents condition is known as CAH. He explained that
genetically respondent is female but because her body secretes male hormones, her
female organs did not develop normally and she has two sex organs female and
male. He testified that this condition is very rare, that respondents uterus is not
fully developed because of lack of female hormones, and that she has no monthly
period. He further testified that respondents condition is permanent and
recommended the change of gender because respondent has made up her mind,
adjusted to her chosen role as male, and the gender change would be advantageous
to her.

The RTC granted respondents petition in a Decision dated January 12,


2005 which reads:
The Court is convinced that petitioner has satisfactorily shown that he is
entitled to the reliefs prayed [for]. Petitioner has adequately presented to the Court
very clear and convincing proofs for the granting of his petition. It was medically
proven that petitioners body produces male hormones, and first his body as well
as his action and feelings are that of a male. He has chosen to be male. He is a
normal person and wants to be acknowledged and identified as a male.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Civil Register of Pakil, Laguna


is hereby ordered to make the following corrections in the birth [c]ertificate of
Jennifer Cagandahan upon payment of the prescribed fees:

a) By changing the name from Jennifer Cagandahan to JEFF


CAGANDAHAN; and

b) By changing the gender from female to MALE.

It is likewise ordered that petitioners school records, voters registry,


baptismal certificate, and other pertinent records are hereby amended to conform
with the foregoing corrected data.

SO ORDERED.[3]

Thus, this petition by the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) seeking a
reversal of the abovementioned ruling.

The issues raised by petitioner are:


THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN GRANTING THE PETITION
CONSIDERING THAT:
I.
THE REQUIREMENTS OF RULES 103 AND 108 OF THE RULES OF
COURT HAVE NOT BEEN COMPLIED WITH; AND,

II.
CORRECTION OF ENTRY UNDER RULE 108 DOES NOT ALLOW CHANGE
OF SEX OR GENDER IN THE BIRTH CERTIFICATE, WHILE
RESPONDENTS MEDICAL CONDITION, i.e., CONGENITAL ADRENAL
HYPERPLASIA DOES NOT MAKE HER A MALE.[4]

Simply stated, the issue is whether the trial court erred in ordering the
correction of entries in the birth certificate of respondent to change her sex or
gender, from female to male, on the ground of her medical condition known as
CAH, and her name from Jennifer to Jeff, under Rules 103 and 108 of the Rules of
Court.

The OSG contends that the petition below is fatally defective for non-
compliance with Rules 103 and 108 of the Rules of Court because while the local
civil registrar is an indispensable party in a petition for cancellation or correction
of entries under Section 3, Rule 108 of the Rules of Court, respondents petition
before the court a quo did not implead the local civil registrar.[5] The OSG further
contends respondents petition is fatally defective since it failed to state that
respondent is a bona fide resident of the province where the petition was filed for
at least three (3) years prior to the date of such filing as mandated under Section
2(b), Rule 103 of the Rules of Court.[6] The OSG argues that Rule 108 does not
allow change of sex or gender in the birth certificate and respondents claimed
medical condition known as CAH does not make her a male.[7]

On the other hand, respondent counters that although the Local Civil
Registrar of Pakil, Laguna was not formally named a party in the Petition for
Correction of Birth Certificate, nonetheless the Local Civil Registrar was furnished
a copy of the Petition, the Order to publish on December 16, 2003 and all
pleadings, orders or processes in the course of the proceedings,[8] respondent is
actually a male person and hence his birth certificate has to be corrected to reflect
his true sex/gender,[9] change of sex or gender is allowed under Rule 108,[10] and
respondent substantially complied with the requirements of Rules 103 and 108 of
the Rules of Court.[11]

Rules 103 and 108 of the Rules of Court provide:

Rule 103
CHANGE OF NAME
SECTION 1. Venue. A person desiring to change his name shall present the
petition to the Regional Trial Court of the province in which he resides, [or, in the
City of Manila, to the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court].

SEC. 2. Contents of petition. A petition for change of name shall be signed and
verified by the person desiring his name changed, or some other person on his
behalf, and shall set forth:

(a) That the petitioner has been a bona fide resident of the province where
the petition is filed for at least three (3) years prior to the date of such
filing;

(b) The cause for which the change of the petitioner's name is sought;

(c) The name asked for.

SEC. 3. Order for hearing. If the petition filed is sufficient in form and substance,
the court, by an order reciting the purpose of the petition, shall fix a date and
place for the hearing thereof, and shall direct that a copy of the order be published
before the hearing at least once a week for three (3) successive weeks in some
newspaper of general circulation published in the province, as the court shall
deem best. The date set for the hearing shall not be within thirty (30) days prior to
an election nor within four (4) months after the last publication of the notice.

SEC. 4. Hearing. Any interested person may appear at the hearing and oppose the
petition. The Solicitor General or the proper provincial or city fiscal shall appear
on behalf of the Government of the Republic.

SEC. 5. Judgment. Upon satisfactory proof in open court on the date fixed in the
order that such order has been published as directed and that the allegations of the
petition are true, the court shall, if proper and reasonable cause appears for
changing the name of the petitioner, adjudge that such name be changed in
accordance with the prayer of the petition.

SEC. 6. Service of judgment. Judgments or orders rendered in connection with


this rule shall be furnished the civil registrar of the municipality or city where the
court issuing the same is situated, who shall forthwith enter the same in the civil
register.

Rule 108
CANCELLATION OR CORRECTION OF ENTRIES
IN THE CIVIL REGISTRY
SECTION 1. Who may file petition. Any person interested in any act, event, order
or decree concerning the civil status of persons which has been recorded in the
civil register, may file a verified petition for the cancellation or correction of any
entry relating thereto, with the Regional Trial Court of the province where the
corresponding civil registry is located.

SEC. 2. Entries subject to cancellation or correction. Upon good and valid


grounds, the following entries in the civil register may be cancelled or corrected:
(a) births; (b) marriages; (c) deaths; (d) legal separations; (e) judgments of
annulments of marriage; (f) judgments declaring marriages void from the
beginning; (g) legitimations; (h) adoptions; (i) acknowledgments of natural
children; (j) naturalization; (k) election, loss or recovery of citizenship; (l) civil
interdiction; (m) judicial determination of filiation; (n) voluntary emancipation of
a minor; and (o) changes of name.

SEC. 3. Parties. When cancellation or correction of an entry in the civil register is


sought, the civil registrar and all persons who have or claim any interest which
would be affected thereby shall be made parties to the proceeding.

SEC. 4. Notice and publication. Upon the filing of the petition, the court shall, by
an order, fix the time and place for the hearing of the same, and cause reasonable
notice thereof to be given to the persons named in the petition. The court shall
also cause the order to be published once a week for three (3) consecutive weeks
in a newspaper of general circulation in the province.

SEC. 5. Opposition. The civil registrar and any person having or claiming any
interest under the entry whose cancellation or correction is sought may, within
fifteen (15) days from notice of the petition, or from the last date of publication of
such notice, file his opposition thereto.

SEC. 6. Expediting proceedings. The court in which the proceedings is brought


may make orders expediting the proceedings, and may also grant preliminary
injunction for the preservation of the rights of the parties pending such
proceedings.

SEC. 7. Order. After hearing, the court may either dismiss the petition or issue an
order granting the cancellation or correction prayed for. In either case, a certified
copy of the judgment shall be served upon the civil registrar concerned who shall
annotate the same in his record.

The OSG argues that the petition below is fatally defective for non-
compliance with Rules 103 and 108 of the Rules of Court because respondents
petition did not implead the local civil registrar. Section 3, Rule 108 provides that
the civil registrar and all persons who have or claim any interest which would be
affected thereby shall be made parties to the proceedings. Likewise, the local civil
registrar is required to be made a party in a proceeding for the correction of name
in the civil registry. He is an indispensable party without whom no final
determination of the case can be had.[12] Unless all possible indispensable parties
were duly notified of the proceedings, the same shall be considered as falling much
too short of the requirements of the rules.[13] The corresponding petition should
also implead as respondents the civil registrar and all other persons who may have
or may claim to have any interest that would be affected thereby.[14] Respondent,
however, invokes Section 6,[15] Rule 1 of the Rules of Court which states that
courts shall construe the Rules liberally to promote their objectives of securing to
the parties a just, speedy and inexpensive disposition of the matters brought before
it. We agree that there is substantial compliance with Rule 108 when respondent
furnished a copy of the petition to the local civil registrar.

The determination of a persons sex appearing in his birth certificate is a legal


issue and the court must look to the statutes. In this connection, Article 412 of the
Civil Code provides:
ART. 412. No entry in a civil register shall be changed or corrected without a
judicial order.

Together with Article 376[16] of the Civil Code, this provision was amended
by Republic Act No. 9048[17] in so far as clerical or typographical errors are
involved. The correction or change of such matters can now be made through
administrative proceedings and without the need for a judicial order. In effect, Rep.
Act No. 9048 removed from the ambit of Rule 108 of the Rules of Court the
correction of such errors. Rule 108 now applies only to substantial changes and
corrections in entries in the civil register.[18]

Under Rep. Act No. 9048, a correction in the civil registry involving the
change of sex is not a mere clerical or typographical error. It is a substantial change
for which the applicable procedure is Rule 108 of the Rules of Court.[19]

The entries envisaged in Article 412 of the Civil Code and correctable under
Rule 108 of the Rules of Court are those provided in Articles 407 and 408 of the
Civil Code:
ART. 407. Acts, events and judicial decrees concerning the civil status of persons
shall be recorded in the civil register.

ART. 408. The following shall be entered in the civil register:

(1) Births; (2) marriages; (3) deaths; (4) legal separations; (5) annulments of
marriage; (6) judgments declaring marriages void from the beginning; (7)
legitimations; (8) adoptions; (9) acknowledgments of natural children; (10)
naturalization; (11) loss, or (12) recovery of citizenship; (13) civil interdiction;
(14) judicial determination of filiation; (15) voluntary emancipation of a minor;
and (16) changes of name.

The acts, events or factual errors contemplated under Article 407 of the Civil
Code include even those that occur after birth.[20]

Respondent undisputedly has CAH. This condition causes the early or


inappropriate appearance of male characteristics. A person, like respondent, with
this condition produces too much androgen, a male hormone. A newborn who has
XX chromosomes coupled with CAH usually has a (1) swollen clitoris with the
urethral opening at the base, an ambiguous genitalia often appearing more male
than female; (2) normal internal structures of the female reproductive tract such as
the ovaries, uterus and fallopian tubes; as the child grows older, some features start
to appear male, such as deepening of the voice, facial hair, and failure to
menstruate at puberty. About 1 in 10,000 to 18,000 children are born with CAH.

CAH is one of many conditions[21] that involve intersex anatomy. During the
twentieth century, medicine adopted the term intersexuality to apply to human
beings who cannot be classified as either male or female.[22] The term is now of
widespread use. According to Wikipedia, intersexuality is the state of a living thing
of a gonochoristicspecies whose sex chromosomes, genitalia, and/or secondary sex
characteristics are determined to be neither exclusively male nor female. An
organism with intersex may have biological characteristics of both male and
female sexes.

Intersex individuals are treated in different ways by different cultures. In


most societies, intersex individuals have been expected to conform to either a male
or female gender role.[23] Since the rise of modern medical science in Western
societies, some intersex people with ambiguous external genitalia have had their
genitalia surgically modified to resemble either male or female genitals. [24] More
commonly, an intersex individual is considered as suffering from a disorder which
is almost always recommended to be treated, whether by surgery and/or by taking
lifetime medication in order to mold the individual as neatly as possible into the
category of either male or female.

In deciding this case, we consider the compassionate calls for recognition of


the various degrees of intersex as variations which should not be subject to outright
denial. It has been suggested that there is some middle ground between the sexes, a
no-mans land for those individuals who are neither truly male nor truly
female.[25] The current state of Philippine statutes apparently compels that a person
be classified either as a male or as a female, but this Court is not controlled by
mere appearances when nature itself fundamentally negates such rigid
classification.

In the instant case, if we determine respondent to be a female, then there is


no basis for a change in the birth certificate entry for gender. But if we determine,
based on medical testimony and scientific development
showing the respondent to be other than female, then a change in the

subjects birth certificate entry is in order.

Biologically, nature endowed respondent with a mixed (neither consistently


and categorically female nor consistently and categorically male)
composition. Respondent has female (XX) chromosomes. However, respondents
body system naturally produces high levels of male hormones (androgen). As a
result, respondent has ambiguous genitalia and the phenotypic features of a male.
Ultimately, we are of the view that where the person is biologically or
naturally intersex the determining factor in his gender classification would be what
the individual, like respondent, having reached the age of majority, with good
reason thinks of his/her sex. Respondent here thinks of himself as a male and
considering that his body produces high levels of male hormones (androgen) there
is preponderant biological support for considering him as being male. Sexual
development in cases of intersex persons makes the gender classification at birth
inconclusive. It is at maturity that the gender of such persons, like respondent, is
fixed.

Respondent here has simply let nature take its course and has not taken
unnatural steps to arrest or interfere with what he was born with. And accordingly,
he has already ordered his life to that of a male. Respondent could have undergone
treatment and taken steps, like taking lifelong medication,[26] to force his body into
the categorical mold of a female but he did not. He chose not to do so. Nature has
instead taken its due course in respondents development to reveal more fully his
male characteristics.

In the absence of a law on the matter, the Court will not dictate on
respondent concerning a matter so innately private as ones sexuality and lifestyle
preferences, much less on whether or not to undergo medical treatment to reverse
the male tendency due to CAH. The Court will not consider respondent as having
erred in not choosing to undergo treatment in order to become or remain as a
female. Neither will the Court force respondent to undergo treatment and to take
medication in order to fit the mold of a female, as society commonly currently
knows this gender of the human species. Respondent is the one who has to live
with his intersex anatomy. To him belongs the human right to the pursuit of
happiness and of health. Thus, to him should belong the primordial choice of what
courses of action to take along the path of his sexual development and
maturation. In the absence of evidence that respondent is an incompetent [27] and in
the absence of evidence to show that classifying respondent as a male will harm
other members of society who are equally entitled to protection under the law, the
Court affirms as valid and justified the respondents position and his personal
judgment of being a male.

In so ruling we do no more than give respect to (1) the diversity of nature;


and (2) how an individual deals with what nature has handed out. In other words,
we respect respondents congenital condition and his mature decision to be a
male. Life is already difficult for the ordinary person. We cannot but respect how
respondent deals with his unordinary state and thus help make his life easier,
considering the unique circumstances in this case.

As for respondents change of name under Rule 103, this Court has held that
a change of name is not a matter of right but of judicial discretion, to be exercised
in the light of the reasons adduced and the consequences that will follow. [28] The
trial courts grant of respondents change of name from Jennifer to Jeff implies a
change of a feminine name to a masculine name. Considering the consequence that
respondents change of name merely recognizes his preferred gender, we find merit
in respondents change of name. Such a change will conform with the change of the
entry in his birth certificate from female to male.

WHEREFORE, the Republics petition is DENIED. The Decision


dated January 12, 2005 of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 33 of Siniloan,
Laguna, is AFFIRMED. No pronouncement as to costs.

SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. L-31763 December 27, 1929

THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS, plaintiff-appellee,


vs.
H. JANSSEN, defendant-appellant.

W. E. Greenbaum and Luis G. Hofileña for appellant.


Attorney-General Jaranilla for appellee.

VILLA-REAL, J.:

H. Janssen appeals to this court from the judgment of the Court of First Instance of Antique
convicting him of a violation of section 2 of Act No. 3412, and sentencing him to pay a fine of P200,
with subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency at the rate of one day for every 12 ½ pesetas,
and to pay the court costs.

In support of his appeal, the appellant assigns the following alleged errors as committed by the court
a quo in its decision, to wit:

The trial court erred:

1. In holding that it is the duty of the accused to inquire into and determine the residence of
the bride before solemnizing marriage.

2. In finding that the habitual residence of the bride, Juana S. del Rosario is the municipality
of Banga, Province of Capiz, and not the municipality of San Jose, Province of Antique.

3. In holding that the accused cannot solemnize marriage without publishing or proclaiming
such marriage 10 days prior to the celebration thereof.

4. In holding that the accused has violated section 2 of Act No. 3412.

5. In convicting the accused.

The following facts were proved at the trial beyond a reasonable doubt.

On December 26, 1928, Pedro N. Cerdeña and Juana S. del Rosario appeared before Reverend
Father H. Janssen, a Catholic parish priest of the municipality of San Jose, Antique, to have their
names inscribed in the marriage registry, Exhibit 3, which was done. On December 30, 1928, the
banns were published in his parish in San Jose, Antique.

As the classes opened on January 7, 1929, the contracting parties asked the defendant-appellant to
marry them before that date. Upon petition of the defendant-appellant, the Bishop of Jaro issued the
following dispensation on December 29, 1928:
In view of the exposition and petition contained in the foregoing document, and with the
understanding that no obstacle has been discovered in the investigation made or to be made
of the status and liberty of the contracting parties, Pedro Cerdeña, single, of age, a resident
of San Jose, Antique, and Juana S. del Rosario, a native of Banga, Province of Capiz,
residing in San Jose, Antique, single, of age; dispensation is granted from one call of the
banns, as prayed for, subject to alms --------pesos, to be applied to charitable work and the
expenses of divine worship, enjoining the Reverend Parish Priest of San Jose, Province of
Antique, to whom a copy of this decree shall be transmitted, not to solemnize the marriage
under consideration, without being certain of the status and liberty of both contracting
parties, and that in the realization of said act, no complaint of any kind shall be made on any
legal ground; and that otherwise, it is our will that the dispensation be granted.

Causes: Urgent business of both parties, who being Government employees, cannot await
the last call without serious prejudice.

On the 1st of January, 1929, another proclamation was made to that effect.

On January 4, 1929, the municipal secretary of San Jose, Antique, issued the following authority to
solemnize marriage:

To all those authorized to celebrate marriage:

You are hereby authorized to solemnize the marriage of Pedro N. Cerdeña and Juana S. del
Rosario, in accordance with the rites and ceremonies of your Church, sect, or religion, and
with the laws of the Philippine Islands.lawphi 1.net

Given this day, January 4, 1929, in the municipality of San Jose, Antique, P. I.

Attached hereto is a copy of the petition filed by the contracting parties.

By virtue of the above-quoted dispensation, and in view of said authority of the municipal secretary
of San Jose, Antique, the defendant-appellant on January 6, 1929, solemnized the marriage of
Pedro N. Cerdeña to Juana S. del Rosario.

The only question to be decided in this appeal is whether or not the defendant-appellant violated
section 2 of Act No. 3412, the pertinent part of which reads as follows:

The municipal secretary or clerk of the municipal court of Manila, as the case may be, shall
post during ten days in a conspicuous place in the building where he has his office, a notice
setting forth the full names and domiciles of the applicants for marriage licenses, their
respective ages, and the names of their parents if living or of their guardians if otherwise. At
the expiration of this term, a license shall issue: Provided, however, That in case any such
applicant states in writing and under oath that the rules and practices of the church, sect, or
religion under which such applicant desires to contract marriage require banns or
publications prior to the solemnization of the marriage, it shall not be necessary for the
municipal secretary to make the publication required in this paragraph, and in this case the
license shall issue immediately after the filing of the application and shall state the church,
sect, or religion in which the marriage is to be solemnized.

While it is true that section 2 of Act No. 3412 quoted above, requires the municipal secretary to post
a notice for ten days upon a conspiciuous place of the building where he has his office, setting forth
the names, surnames, and residence of applicants for a license to contract marriage, their age, the
names of their parents, if alive, or of their guardians, as the case may be, before issuing the license
applied for, the same section contains a proviso to the effect that when the contracting parties desire
to marry in a church which requires previous proclamation before the celebration of the marriage,
there is no need of said publication. The only doubt is whether said proclamation must be made
during ten days, as in the publication in case the marriage is not celebrated in a church. The law
simply says that if the marriage takes place in a church whose rules and practices require
proclamation, the license applied for shall at once be issued, and it does not say that the
proclamation required by said church is to be made during ten days. As section 2 of Act No. 3412 is
penal in character, it should be strictly construed. And as said section does not require that the
proclamation be made during ten days, but that it is sufficient that the church in which the marriage is
to take place requires a proclamation, it is immaterial how many days said proclamation is made in.
For the foregoing considerations, we are of opinion and so hold that the defendant-appellant did not
violate section 2 of Act No. 3412 in solemnizing the marriage of Pedro N. Cerdeña and Juana S. del
Rosario after two proclamations, before ten days were up, the third proclamation having been
dispensed with by a competent ecclesiastical authority. law phi1.net

The trial court was also of opinion that the defendant-appellant was bound to investigate whether the
license was issued by an official duly authorized by law, that is, by the municipal secretary of the
municipality where the woman habitually resides.

The law does not impose this duty upon priest or ministers of religion. It is sufficient to know that the
license has been issued by a competent official, and it may be presumed from the issuance of said
license that said official has complied with his duty of ascertaining whether the woman who desires
to get married resides habitually in his municipality. (Act N. 190, sec. 334, No. 14.)

Wherefore, we are of opinion and so hold, that when a marriage is solemnized by a church, sect, or
religion whose rules and practices require proclamation or publicity, it is not necessary that said
proclamation be made during ten days, unless said rules or practices so require.

By virtue whereof, the appealed judgment is reversed, and the defendant is absolved from the
information, with costs de oficio.So ordered.

G.R. No. 83598 March 7, 1997

LEONCIA BALOGBOG and GAUDIOSO BALOGBOG, petitioners,


vs.
HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, RAMONITO BALOGBOG and GENEROSO
BALOGBOG, respondents.

MENDOZA, J.:

This is a petition for review of the decision 1 of the Court of Appeals, affirming the decision of the
Court of First Instance of Cebu City (Branch IX), declaring private respondents heirs of the deceased
Basilio and Genoveva Balogbog entitled to inherit from them.

The facts are as follows. Petitioners Leoncia and Gaudioso Balogbog are the children of Basilio
Balogbog and Genoveva Arzibal who died intestate in 1951 and 1961, respectively. They had an
older brother, Gavino, but he died in 1935, predeceasing their parents.

In 1968, private respondents Ramonito and Generoso Balogbog brought an action for partition and
accounting against petitioners, claiming that they were the legitimate children of Gavino by Catalina
Ubas and that, as such, they were entitled to the one-third share of Gavino in the estate of their
grandparents.

In their answer, petitioners denied knowing private respondents. They alleged that their brother
Gavino died single and without issue in their parents' residence at Tag-amakan, Asturias, Cebu. In
the beginning they claimed that the properties of the estate had been sold to them by their mother
when she was still alive, but they later withdrew this allegation.

Private respondents presented Priscilo Y. Trazo, 2 then 81 years old, mayor of the municipality of
Asturias from 1928 to 1934, who testified that he knew Gavino and Catalina to be husband and wife
and Ramonito to be their first child. On crossexamination, Trazo explained that he knew Gavino and
Catalina because they performed at his campaign rallies, Catalina as "balitaw" dancer and Gavino
Balogbog as her guitarist. Trazo said he attended the wedding of Gavino and Catalina sometime in
1929, in which Rev. Father Emiliano Jomao-as officiated and Egmidio Manuel, then a municipal
councilor, acted as one of the witnesses.

The second witness presented was Matias Pogoy, 3 a family friend of private respondents, who
testified that private respondents are the children of Gavino and Catalina. According to him, the
wedding of Gavino and Catalina was solemnized in the Catholic Church of Asturias, Cebu and that
he knew this because he attended their wedding and was in fact asked by Gavino to accompany
Catalina and carry her wedding dress from her residence in Camanaol to the poblacion of Asturias
before the wedding day. He testified that Gavino died in 1935 in his residence at Obogon,
Balamban, Cebu, in the presence of his wife. (This contradicts petitioners' claim made in their
answer that Gavino died in the ancestral house at Tag-amakan, Asturias.) Pogoy said he was a
carpenter and he was the one who had made the coffin of Gavino. He also made the coffin of the
couple's son, Petronilo, who died when he was six.

Catalina Ubas testified concerning her marriage to Gavino. 4 She testified that after the wedding, she
was handed a "receipt," presumably the marriage certificate, by Fr. Jomao-as, but it was burned
during the war. She said that she and Gavino lived together in Obogon and begot three children,
namely, Ramonito, Petronilo, and Generoso. Petronilo died after an illness at the age of six. On
crossexamination, she stated that after the death of Gavino, she lived in common law relation with a
man for a year and then they separated.

Private respondents produced a certificate from the Office of the Local Civil Registrar (Exh. P) that
the Register of Marriages did not have a record of the marriage of Gavino and Catalina, another
certificate from the Office of the Treasurer (Exh. L) that there was no record of the birth of Ramonito
in that office and, for this reason, the record must be presumed to have been lost or destroyed
during the war, and a certificate by the Parish Priest of Asturias that there was likewise no record of
birth of Ramonito in the church, the records of which were either lost or destroyed during the war.
(Exh. M)

On the other hand, as defendant below, petitioner Leoncia Balogbog testified 5 that Gavino died
single at the family residence in Asturias. She denied that her brother had any legitimate children
and stated that she did not know private respondents before this case was filed. She obtained a
certificate (Exh. 10) from the Local Civil Registrar of Asturias to the effect that that office did not have
a record of the names of Gavino and Catalina. The certificate was prepared by Assistant Municipal
Treasurer Juan Maranga, who testified that there was no record of the marriage of Gavino and
Catalina in the Book of Marriages between 1925 to 1935. 6

Witness Jose Narvasa testified 7 that Gavino died single in 1935 and that Catalina lived with a certain
Eleuterio Keriado after the war, although he did not know whether they were legally married. He
added, however, that Catalina had children by a man she had married before the war, although he
did not know the names of the children. On crossexamination, Narvasa stated that Leoncia
Balogbog, who requested him to testify, was also his bondsman in a criminal case filed by a certain
Mr. Cuyos.

Ramonito Balogbog was presented 8 to rebut Leoncia Balogbog's testimony.

On June 15, 1973, the Court of First Instance of Cebu City rendered judgment for private
respondents (plaintiffs below), ordering petitioners to render an accounting from 1960 until the
finality of its judgment, to partition the estate and deliver to private respondents one-third of the
estate of Basilio and Genoveva, and to pay attorney's fees and costs.

Petitioners filed a motion for new trial and/or reconsideration, contending that the trial court erred in
not giving weight to the certification of the Office of the Municipal Treasurer of Asturias (Exh. 10) to
the effect that no marriage of Gavino and Catalina was recorded in the Book of Marriages for the
years 1925-1935. Their motion was denied by the trial court, as was their second motion for new trial
and/or reconsideration based on the church records of the parish of Asturias which did not contain
the record of the alleged marriage in that church.

On appeal, the Court of Appeals affirmed. It held that private respondents failed to overcome the
legal presumption that a man and a woman deporting themselves as husband and wife are in fact
married, that a child is presumed to be legitimate, and that things happen according to the ordinary
course of nature and the ordinary habits of life. 9Hence, this petition.

We find no reversible error committed by the Court of Appeals.

First. Petitioners contend that the marriage of Gavino and Catalina should have been proven in
accordance with Arts. 53 and 54 of the Civil Code of 1889 because this was the law in force at the
time the alleged marriage was celebrated. Art. 53 provides that marriages celebrated under the Civil
Code of 1889 should be proven only by a certified copy of the memorandum in the Civil Registry,
unless the books thereof have not been kept or have been lost, or unless they are questioned in the
courts, in which case any other proof, such as that of the continuous possession by parents of the
status of husband and wife, may be considered, provided that the registration of the birth of their
children as their legitimate children is also submitted in evidence.

This Court noted long ago, however, that Arts. 42 to 107 of the Civil Code of 1889 of Spain did not
take effect, having been suspended by the Governor General of the Philippines shortly after the
extension of that code to this
country. 10 Consequently, Arts. 53 and 54 never came into force. Since this case was brought in the
lower court in 1968, the existence of the marriage must be determined in accordance with the
present Civil Code, which repealed the provisions of the former Civil Code, except as they related to
vested rights, 11 and the rules on evidence. Under the Rules of Court, the presumption is that a man
and a woman conducting themselves as husband and wife are legally married. 12 This presumption
may be rebutted only by cogent proof to the contrary. 13 In this case, petitioners' claim that the
certification presented by private respondents (to the effect that the record of the marriage had been
lost or destroyed during the war) was belied by the production of the Book of Marriages by the
assistant municipal treasurer of Asturias. Petitioners argue that this book does not contain any entry
pertaining to the alleged marriage of private respondents' parents.

This contention has no merit. In Pugeda v. Trias, 14 the defendants, who questioned the marriage of
the plaintiffs, produced a photostatic copy of the record of marriages of the Municipality of Rosario,
Cavite for the month of January, 1916, to show that there was no record of the alleged marriage.
Nonetheless, evidence consisting of the testimonies of witnesses was held competent to prove the
marriage. Indeed, although a marriage contract is considered primary evidence of marriage, 15 the
failure to present it is not proof that no marriage took place. Other evidence may be presented to
prove
marriage. 16 Here, private respondents proved, through testimonial evidence, that Gavino and
Catalina were married in 1929; that they had three children, one of whom died in infancy; that their
marriage subsisted until 1935 when Gavino died; and that their children, private respondents herein,
were recognized by Gavino's family and by the public as the legitimate children of Gavino.

Neither is there merit in the argument that the existence of the marriage cannot be presumed
because there was no evidence showing in particular that Gavino and Catalina, in the presence of
two witnesses, declared that they were taking each other as husband and wife. 17 An exchange of
vows can be presumed to have been made from the testimonies of the witnesses who state that a
wedding took place, since the very purpose for having a wedding is to exchange vows of marital
commitment. It would indeed be unusual to have a wedding without an exchange of vows and quite
unnatural for people not to notice its absence.

The law favors the validity of marriage, because the State is interested in the preservation of the
family and the sanctity of the family is a matter of constitutional concern. As stated in Adong
v. Cheong Seng Gee: 18

The basis of human society throughout the civilized world is that of marriage.
Marriage in this jurisdiction is not only a civil contract, but it is a new relation, an
institution in the maintenance of which the public is deeply interested. Consequently,
every intendment of the law leans toward legalizing matrimony. Persons dwelling
together in apparent matrimony are presumed, in the absence of any counter-
presumption or evidence special to the case, to be in fact married. The reason is that
such is the common order of society, and if the parties were not what they thus hold
themselves out as being, they would be living in the constant violation of decency
and of law. A presumption established by our Code of Civil Procedure is "that a man
and a woman deporting themselves as husband and wife have entered into a lawful
contract of marriage." (Sec. 334, No. 28) Semper praesumitur pro matrimonio —
Always presume marriage. (U.S. vs. Villafuerte and Rabano [1905], 4 Phil., 476; Son
Cui vs. Guepangco, supra; U.S. vs. Memoracion and Uri [1916], 34 Phil., 633; Teter
vs. Teter [1884], 101 Ind., 129.)

Second. Petitioners contend that private respondents' reliance solely on testimonial evidence to
support their claim that private respondents had been in the continuous possession of the status of
legitimate children is contrary to Art. 265 of the Civil Code which provides that such status shall be
proven by the record of birth in the Civil Register, by an authentic document or by final judgment.But
in accordance with Arts. 266 and 267, in the absence of titles indicated in Art. 265, the filiation of
children may be proven by continuous possession of the status of a legitimate child and by any other
means allowed by the Rules of Court or special laws. Thus the Civil Code provides:
Art. 266. In the absence of the titles indicated in the preceding article, the filiation
shall be proved by the continuous possession of status of a legitimate child.

Art. 267. In the absence of a record of birth, authentic document, final judgment or
possession of status, legitimate filiation may be proved by any other means allowed
by the Rules of Court and special laws.

Petitioners contend that there is no justification for presenting testimonies as to the possession by
private respondents of the status of legitimate children because the Book of Marriages for the years
1928-1929 is available.

What is in issue, however, is not the marriage of Gavino and Catalina but the filiation of private
respondents as their children. The marriage of Gavino and Catalina has already been shown in the
preceding discussion. The treasurer of Asturias, Cebu certified that the records of birth of that
municipality for the year 1930 could not be found, presumably because they were lost or destroyed
during the war (Exh. L). But Matias Pogoy testified that Gavino and Catalina begot three children,
one of whom, Petronilo, died at the age of six. Catalina testified that private respondents Ramonito
and Generoso are her children by Gavino Balogbog. That private respondents are the children of
Gavino and Catalina Balogbog cannot therefore be doubted.

Moreover, the evidence in the record shows that petitioner Gaudioso Balogbog admitted to the
police of Balamban, Cebu that Ramonito is his nephew. As the Court of Appeals found:

Ironically, it is appellant Gaudioso himself who supplies the clincher that tips the
balance in favor of the appellees. In an investigation before the Police Investigating
Committee of Balamban, Cebu, held on March 8, 1968, conducted for the purpose of
inquiring into a complaint filed by Ramonito against a patrolman of the Balamban
police force, Gaudioso testified that the complainant in that administrative case is his
nephew. Excerpts from the transcript of the proceedings conducted on that date
(Exhs. "N", "N-1", "N-2", "N-3" and "N-4") read:

Atty. Kiamco — May it please this investigative body.

Q. Do you know the complainant in this Administrative Case No. 1?

A. Yes I know.

Q. Why do you know him?

A. I know because he is my nephew.

Q. Are you in good terms with your nephew, the complainant?

A. Yes.

Q. Do you mean to say that you are close to him?

A. Yes. We are close.

Q. Why do you say you are close?

A. We are close because aside from the fact that he is my nephew


we were also leaving (sic) in the same house in Butuan City, and I
even barrow (sic) from him money in the amount of P300.00, when I
return to Balamban, Cebu.

xxx xxx xxx

Q. Why is Ramonito Balogbog your nephew?

A. Because he is the son of my elder brother.


This admission of relationship is admissible against Gaudioso although made in
another case. It is considered as a reliable declaration against interest (Rule 130,
Section 22). Significantly, Gaudioso did not try to offer any explanation to blunt the
effects of that declaration. He did not even testify during the trial. Such silence can
only mean that Ramonito is indeed the nephew of Gaudioso, the former being the
son of Gavino.

WHEREFORE, the decision appealed from is AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. L-32473 October 6, 1930

MELECIO MADRIDEJO, assisted by his guardian ad litem, Pedro Madridejo, plaintiff-appellee,


vs.
GONZALO DE LEON, ET AL., defendants-appellants.

L. D. Abaya and S. C. Pamatmat for appellants.


Aurelio Palileo for appellee.

VILLA-REAL, J.:

This is a rehearsing of the appeal taken by the defendants, Gonzalo de Leon et al. from the
judgment of the Court of First Instance of Laguna holding as follows:

Wherefore, the court finds that Melecio Madridejo is Domingo de Leon's next of kin, and
hereby orders the defendants in case No. 5258 to restore and deliver the ownership and
possession of the property described in the complaints filed in the aforesaid case, to Melecio
Madridejo, without cost. So ordered.

In support of their appeal the defendants assign the following alleged errors as committed by the trial
court, to wit:

1. The lower court erred in holding that the marriage between Pedro Madridejo and Flaviana
Perez is valid.

2. The lower court also erred in declaring that solely because of the subsequent marriage of
his parents, the appellee Melecio Madridejo, a natural child, was legitimated.

3. The lower court lastly erred in not rendering judgment in favor of the defendants and
appellants.

The relevant facts necessary for the decision of all the questions of fact and of law raised herein are
as follows:

Eulogio de Leon and Flaviana Perez, man and wife, had but one child, Domingo de Leon. The wife
and son survived Eulogio de Leon, who died in the year 1915. During her widowhood, Flaviana
Perez lived with Pedro Madridejo, a bachelor. The registry of births of the municipality of Siniloan,
Laguna, shows that on June 1, 1917, a child was born to Pedro Madridejo and Flaviana Perez,
which was named Melecio Madridejo, the necessary data being furnished by Pedro Madridejo
(Exhibit B). On June 17, 1917, a 24-day old child of Siniloan, Laguna, as a son of Flaviana Perez, no
mention being made of the father (Exhibit 2). On July 8, 1920, Flaviana Perez, being at death's door,
was married to Pedro Madridejo, a bachelor, 30 years of age, by the parish priest of Siniloan (Exhibit
A). She died on the following day, July 9, 1920, leaving Domingo de Leon, her son by Eulogio de
Leon, and the plaintiff-appellee Melecio Madridejo, as well as her alleged second husband, Pedro
Madridejo. Domingo de Leon died on the 2nd of May, 1928.

With regard to the first assignment of error, the mere fact that the parish priest of Siniloan, Laguna,
who married Pedro Madridejo and Flaviana Perez, failed to send a copy of the marriage certificate to
the municipal secretary does not invalidate the marriage in articulo mortis, it not appearing that the
essential requisites required by law for its validity were lacking in the ceremony, and the forwarding
of a copy of the marriage certificate is not one of said essential requisites.

Touching the second assignment of error, there has been no attempt to deny that Melecio
Madridejo, the plaintiff-appellee, is the natural son of the Pedro Madridejo and Flaviana Perez, The
only question to be decided is whether the subsequent marriage of his parents legitimated him.

Article 121 of the Civil Code provides:

Art. 121. Children shall be considered as legitimated by a subsequent marriage only when
they have been acknowledged by the parents before or after the celebration thereof.

According to this legal provision, in order that a subsequent marriage may be effective as a
legitimation, the natural children born out of wedlock must have been acknowledged by the parents
either before or after its celebration. The Civil Code has established two kinds of acknowledgment:
voluntary and compulsary. Article 131 provides for the voluntary acknowledgment by the father or
mother as follows:

Art. 131. The acknowledgment of a natural child must be made in the record of birth, in a will,
or in some other public document.

Article 135 provides for the compulsary acknowledgment by the father, thus:

Art. 135. The father may be compelled to acknowledge his natural child in the following
cases:

1. When an indisputable paper written by him, expressly acknowledging his paternity, is in


existence.

2. When the child has been in the uninterrupted possession of the status of a natural child of
the defendant father, justified by the conduct of the father himself of that of his family.

3. In cases of rape, seduction, or abduction, the provisions of the Penal Code with regard to
the acknowledgment of the issue, shall be observed.

Article 136 providing for the compulsory acknowledgment by the mother, reads:

Art. 136. The mother may be compelled to acknowlegde her natural child:

1. When the child is, with respect to the mother, included in any of the cases mentioned in
the next preceding article.

2. When the fact of the birth and the identity of the child are fully proven.

Let us see whether the plaintiff-appellee, Melecio Madridejo, has been acknowledged by his parents
Pedro Madridejo and Flaviana Perez, under any of the provisions above quoted.

To begin with the father, no document has been adduced to show that he has voluntarily
acknowledged Melecio Madridejo as his son, except the registry certificate of birth, Exhibit B. This, of
course, is not the record of birth mentioned in the law, for it lacks the requisites of article 48 of the
Law of Civil Registry. It, no doubt, is a public instrument, but it has neither been executed nor signed
by Pedro Madridejo, and contains no statement by which he acknowledges Melecio Madridejo to be
his son. Although as Pedro Madridejo testified, he furnished the municipal secretary of Siniloan with
necessary data for recording the birth of Melecio Madridejo, and although said official inscribed the
data thus given in the civil registry of births, this is not sufficient to bring it under the legal provision
regarding acknowledgment by a public document.

As to the mother, it does not appear that Flaviana Perez supplied the data set forth in the civil
registry of births, Exhibit B, or in the baptismal register, where of Exhibit 2 is a certificate, and which
constitutes final proof only of the baptism, and not of the kinship or parentage of the person baptized
(Adriano vs. De Jesus, 23 Phil., 350). Furthermore, church registers of baptism are no longer
considered public documents (United States vs. Evangelista, 29 Phil., 215).

Melecio Madridejo, then, was not voluntarily acknowledged by Pedro Madridejo or Flaviana Perez,
either before or after their marriage. 1aw ph!l.net

Did Pedro Madridejo acknowledge Melecio Madridejo as his son, by compulsion?

The compulsory acknowledgment by the father established in article 135 of the Civil Code, and by
the mother according to article 136, requires that the natural child take judicial action against the
father or mother, or against the persons setting themselves up as the heirs of both, for the purpose
of compelling them to acknowledge him as a natural son through a judgment of the court.

In the instant action brought by Melecio Madridejo not only has he not demanded to be
acknowledged as a natural child, which is the condition precedent to establishing his legitimation by
the subsequent marriage and his right to the estate of his uterine brother, Domingo de Leon, but he
has not even impleaded either his father Pedro Madridejo, or the heirs of his mother, Flaviana Perez,
in order that the court might have authority to make a valid and effective pronouncement of his being
a natural child, and to compel them to acknowledge him as such.

The plaintiff-appellee alleges that the second paragraph of the defendants' answer amounts to an
admission that he is indeed Flaviana Perez's son, and relieves him of the burden of proving that his
mother acknowledged him as a son before her marriage. Such an admission would have been
affective if the present action had been brought for the purpose of compelling Flaviana Perez or her
heirs to acknowledge the appellee as her son.

In view of the foregoing, it is evident that Melecio Madridejo has not been acknowledged by Pedro
Madridejo and Flaviana Perez, either voluntarily or by compulsion, before or after their marriage, and
therefore said marriage did not legitimate him.

Wherefore, the judgment is reversed, the complaint dismissed, and the defendants absolved with
costs against the appellee without prejudice to any right he may have to establish or compel his
acknowledgment as the natural son of Pedro Madridejo and Flaviana Perez. So ordered.

G.R. No. L-28248 March 12, 1975

LEONORA PERIDO, joined by husband MANUEL PIROTE, INOCENCIA PERIDO, ALBENIO


PERIDO, PAULINO PERIDO, LETIA PERIDO, joined by husband BIENVENIDO BALYAO,
LETICIA PERIDO, joined by husband FELIX VILLARUZ, EUFEMIA PERIDO, CONSOLACION
PERIDO, ALFREDO PERIDO, GEORGE PERIDO, AMPARO PERIDO, WILFREDO PERIDO,
MARGARITA PERIDO, ROLANDO SALDE and EDUARDO SALDE, petitioners,
vs.
MARIA PERIDO, SOFRONIO PERIDO, JUAN A. PERIDO, GONZALO PERIDO, PACITA PERIDO,
MAGDALENA PERIDO, ALICIA PERIDO, JOSEFINA PERIDO, FE PERIDO, TERESA PERIDO
and LUZ PERIDO, respondents.

Januario L. Jison, Jr. for petitioners.

Antonio T. de Jesus for respondents.

MAKALINTAL, C.J.: ñ é+.£ª wph!1

This is an appeal by certiorari from the decision of the Court of Appeals in its CA-G.R. No. 37034-R,
affirming the decision of the Court of First Instance of Negros Occidental in Civil Case No. 6529.

Lucio Perido of Himamaylan, Negros Occidental, married twice during his lifetime. His first wife was
Benita Talorong, with whom he begot three (3) children: Felix, Ismael, and Margarita. After Benita
died Lucio married Marcelina Baliguat, with whom he had five (5) children: Eusebio, Juan, Maria,
Sofronia and Gonzalo. Lucio himself died in 1942, while his second wife died in 1943.
Of the three (3) children belonging to the first marriage only Margarita Perido is still living. Her
deceased brother, Felix Perido, is survived by his children Inocencia, Leonora, Albinio, Paulino,
Letia, Leticia, and Eufemia, all surnamed Perido. Nicanora Perido, another daughter of Felix, is also
deceased, but is survived by two (2) sons, Rolando and Eduardo Salde.

Margarita's other deceased brother, Ismael Perido, is survived by his children, namely: Consolacion,
Alfredo, Wilfredo, and Amparo. Susano Perido, another son of Ismael, is dead, but survived by his
own son George Perido.

Of Lucio Perido's five (5) children by his second wife, two are already dead, namely: Eusebio and
Juan. Eusebio is survived by his children Magdalena Perido, Pacita Perido, Alicia Perido, Josefina
Perido, Fe Perido, Teresa Perido, and Luz Perido, while Juan is survived by his only child, Juan A.
Perido.

On August 15, 1960 the children and grandchildren of the first and second marriages of Lucio Perido
executed a document denominated as "Declaration of Heirship and Extra-judicial Partition," whereby
they partitioned among themselves Lots Nos. 458, 471, 506, 511, 509, 513-B, 807, and 808, all of
the Cadastral Survey of Himamaylan, Occidental Negros.

Evidently the children belonging to the first marriage of Lucio Perido had second thoughts about the
partition. On March 8, 1962 they filed a complaint in the Court of First Instance of Negros Occidental,
which complaint was later amended on February 22, 1963, against the children of the second
marriage, praying for the annulment of the so-called "Declaration of Heirship and Extra-Judicial
Partition" and for another partition of the lots mentioned therein among the plaintiffs alone. They
alleged, among other things, that they had been induced by the defendants to execute the document
in question through misrepresentation, false promises and fraudulent means; that the lots which
were partitioned in said document belonged to the conjugal partnership of the spouses Lucio Perido
and Benita Talorong, and that the five children of Lucio Perido with Marcelina Baliguat were all
illegitimate and therefore had no successional rights to the estate of Lucio Perido, who died in 1942.
The defendants denied the foregoing allegations.

After trial the lower court rendered its decision dated July 31, 1965, annulling the "Declaration of
Heirship and Extra-Judicial Partition." However, it did not order the partition of the lots involved
among the plaintiffs exclusively in view of its findings that the five children of Lucio Perido with his
second wife, Marcelina Baliguat, were legitimate; that all the lots, except Lot No. 458, were the
exclusive properties of Lucio Perido; and that 11/12 of Lot No. 458 belonged to the conjugal
partnership of Lucio Perido and his second wife, Marcelina Baliguat. The dispositive portion of the
decision reads as follows: têñ.£îhqwâ£

IN VIEW OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the Court renders judgment as follows:


declaring the following as the legitimate children and grandchildren and heirs of Lucio
Perido and Benita Talorong: Felix Perido, deceased; grandchildren: Inocencia
Perido, Leonora Perido, Albinio Perido, Paulino Perido, Letia Perido, Leticia Perido,
Eufemia Perido; Nicanora Perido, deceased; great grandchildren: Rolando Salde and
Eduardo Salde; Ismael Perido, deceased; grandchildren: Consolacion Perido,
Alfredo Perido, Susano Perido, deceased; great grandson: George Perido; Amparo
Perido and Wilfredo Perido; and, Margarita Perido; (2) declaring the following as the
legitimate children and grandchildren and heirs of Lucio Perido and Marcelina
Baliguat: Eusebio Perido, deceased; grandchildren: Pacita Perido, Magdalena
Perido, Alicia Perido, Josefina Perido, Fe Perido, Teresa Perido, and Luz Perido;
Juan B. Perido, deceased; grandson, Juan A. Perido; Maria Perido; Sofronia Perido;
and Gonzalo Perido; (3) declaring all lots (471, 506, 511, 509, 513-part, 807, and
808) except Lot No. 458 as exclusive properties of Lucio Perido so that each of them
should be divided into eight (8) equal parts: 1/8 belongs to Felix Perido, but because
of his death leaving eight (8) children, the same should be divided and alloted as
follows: 1/64 to Inocencia Perido of age, widow; 1/64 to Leonora Perido, of age,
married to Manuel Pirote; 1/64 to Albinio Perido, of age, married to Honorata
Villasana; 1/64 to Paulino Perido, of age, married to Norma Villalba 1/64 to Letia
Perido, of age, married to Bienvenido Balyac; 1/64 to Leticia Perido, of age, married
to Felix Villaruz; 1/64 to Eufemia Perido, of age, single; 1/64 to Nicanora Perido, but
because she is now dead the same should be divided and alloted as follows: 1/128
to Rolando Salde, of age, single; and 1/128 to Eduardo Salde, of age, single; 1/8
belongs to Ismael Perido, but because he is already dead leaving five children, the
same should be divided and alloted as follows: 1/40 to Consolacion Perido, of age,
widow; 1/40 to Alfredo Perido, of age married to Trinidad Tamargo; 1/40 to Susano
Perido, but he is already dead with one son, the same goes to George Perido, of
age, single; 1/40 to Wilfredo Perido, of age, single; 1/8 belongs to Margarita Perido,
of age, widow; 1/8 belongs to Eusebio Perido, but because he is already dead with
seven children, the same should be divided and alloted as follows: 1/56 goes to
Pacita Perido, of age, single; 1/56 goes to Magdalena Perido, of age, single; 1/56
goes to Alicia Perido, of age, married to Isaias Ruiz; 1/56 goes to Josefina Perido, of
age, married to Leopoldo Doloroso; 1/56 goes to Fe Perido, of age, single; 1/56 goes
to Teresa Perido, of are single; 1/56 goes to Luz Perido, of age, married to Fidel de
la Cruz; 1/8 belongs to Juan B. Perido, but because he is already dead with one
child, the same 1/8 goes to Juan A. Perido, of age, married to Salud Salgado 1/8
goes to Maria Perido. of age, married to Julio Pirote; 1/8 goes to Sofronia Perido, of
age, widow; and, 1/8 goes to Gonzalo Perido, of age, married to Lacomemoracion
Estiller; (4) declaring the 11/12 shares in Lot No. 458 as conjugal partnership
property of Lucio Perido and Marcelina Baliguat, which should be divided and alloted
as follows: 11/24 goes to Lucio Perido to be divided into eight (8) equal shares and
11/24 goes to Marcelina Baliguat to be divided into five (5) equal shares or 11/120 for
each of the children and again to be divided by the children of each child now
deceased; (6) declaring Fidel Perido owner of 1/12 share in Lot 458 to be divided
among his heirs to be determined accordingly later; and (6) declaring null and void
Exhibit "J" of the plaintiffs which is Exhibit "10" for the defendants, without costs and
without adjudication with respect to the counterclaim and damages, they being
members of the same family, for equity and justice.

The plaintiffs appealed to the Court of Appeals, alleging that the trial court erred: (1) in declaring that
Eusebio Perido, Juan Perido, Maria Perido, Sofronia Perido and Gonzalo Perido, were the legitimate
children of Lucio Perido and his second wife, Marcelina Baliguat; (2) in declaring that Lucio Perido
was the exclusive owner of Lots Nos. 471, 506, 511, 509, 513-Part, 807, and 808 of Cadastral
Survey of Himamaylan, Negros Occidental, and in not declaring that said lots were the conjugal
partnership property of Lucio Perido and his first wife, Benita Talorong; and (3) in holding that 11/12
of Lot 458 was the conjugal partnership property of Lucio Perido and Marcelina Baliguat.

Finding no reversible error in the decision of the lower court, the Court of Appeals affirmed it in toto.
The appellants moved to reconsider but were turned down. Thereupon they instituted he instant
petition for review reiterating in effect the assignments of error and the arguments in the brief they
submitted to the appellate court.

The first issue pertains to the legitimacy of the five children of Lucio Perido with Marcelina Baliguat.
The petitioners insist that said children were illegitimate on the theory that the first three were born
out of wedlock even before the death of Lucio Perido's first wife, while the last two were also born
out of wedlock and were not recognized by their parents before or after their marriage. In support of
their contention they allege that Benita Talorong died in 1905, after the first three children were born,
as testified to by petitioner Margarita Perido and corroborated by petitioner Leonora Perido; that as
late as 1923 Lucio Perido was still a widower, as shown on the face of the certificates of title issued
to him in said year; and Lucio Perido married his second wife, Marcelina Baliguat, only in 1925, as
allegedly established through the testimony of petitioner Leonora Perido.

The petition cannot be sustained. The Court of Appeals found that there was evidence to show that
Lucio Perido's wife, Benita Talorong, died during the Spanish regime. This finding conclusive upon
us and beyond our power of review. Under the circumstance, Lucio Perido had no legal impediment
to marry Marcelina Baliguat before the birth of their first child in 1900.

With respect to the civil status of Lucio Perido as stated in the certificates of title issued to him in
1923, the Court of Appeals correctly held that the statement was not conclusive to show that he was
not actually married to Marcelina Baliguat. Furthermore, it is weak and insufficient to rebut the
presumption that persons living together husband and wife are married to each other. This
presumption, especially where legitimacy of the issue is involved, as in this case, may be overcome
only by cogent proof on the part of those who allege the illegitimacy. In the case of Adong vs.
Cheong Seng Gee1 this Court explained the rationale behind this presumption, thus: "The basis of
human society throughout the civilized world is that of marriage. Marriage in this jurisdiction is not
only a civil contract, but it is a new relation, an institution in the maintenance of which the public is
deeply interested. Consequently, every intendment of the law leans toward legalizing matrimony.
Persons dwelling together in apparent matrimony are presumed, in the absence of any counter-
presumption or evidence special to the case, to be in fact married. The reason is that such is the
common order of society, and if the parties were not what they thus hold themselves out as being,
they would he living in the constant violation of decency and of law. A presumption established by
our Code of Civil Procedure is "that a man and woman deporting themselves as husband and wife
have entered into a lawful contract of marriage." (Sec. 334, No. 28) Semper praesumitur pro
matrimonio — Always presume marriage."

While the alleged marriage ceremony in 1925, if true, might tend to rebut the presumption of
marriage arising from previous cohabitation, it is to be noted that both the trial court and the
appellate court did not even pass upon the uncorroborated testimony of petitioner Leonora Perido on
the matter. The reason is obvious. Said witness, when asked why she knew that Marcelina Baliguat
was married to Lucio Perido only in 1925, merely replied that she knew it because "during the
celebration of the marriage by the Aglipayan priest (they) got flowers from (their) garden and placed
in the altar." Evidently she was not even an eyewitness to the ceremony.

In view of the foregoing the Court of Appeals did not err in concluding that the five children of Lucio
Perido and Marcelina Baliguat were born during their marriage and, therefore, legitimate.

The second assignment of error refers to the determination of whether or not Lots Nos. 471, 506,
511, 509-513-Part, 807 and 808 were the exclusive properties of Lucio Perido. In disposing of the
contention of the petitioners that said lots belong to the conjugal partnership of spouses Lucio Perido
and Benita Talorong, the Court of Appeals said: têñ.£îhqw â£

... We cannot agree again with them on this point. It is to be noted that the lands
covered by the certificates of title (Exhs. B to G) were all declared in the name of
Lucio Perido. Then there is evidence showing that the lands were inherited by Lucio
Perido from his grandmother (t.s.n., p. 21, Feb. 20, 1964). In other words, they were
the exclusive properties of the late Lucio Perido which he brought into the first and
second marriages. By fiat of law said Properties should be divided accordingly
among his legal heirs.

The petitioners take exception to the finding of the appellate court that the aforementioned lots were
inherited by Lucio Perido from his grandmother and contend that they were able to establish through
the testimonies of their witnesses that the spouses Lucio Perido and Benita Talorong acquired them
during their lifetime. Again, the petitioners cannot be sustained. The question involves appreciation
of the evidence, which is within the domain of the Court of Appeals, the factual findings of which are
not reviewable by this Court.

The third assignment of error is with regard to the ruling of the Court of Appeals sustaining the
finding of the trial court that 11/12 of Lot 458 was the conjugal partnership property of Lucio Perido
and his second wife, Marcelina Baliguat. Said the appellate court: têñ.£îhqw â£

With respect to Lot No. 458 which is now covered by Original Certificate of Title No.
21769 issued in 1925 the same should be considered conjugally owned by Lucio
Perido and his second wife, Marcelina Baliguat. The finding of the lower court on this
point need not be disturbed. It is expressly stated in the certificate of title (Exh. L) that
Lucio Perido, the registered owner, was married to Marcelina Baliguat unlike in the
previous land titles. If the law presumes a property registered in the name of only one
of the spouses to be conjugal (Guinguing vs. Abutin, 48 Phil. 144; Flores vs. Flores,
48 Phil. 288, Escutin vs. Escutin, 60 Phil. 922), the presumption becomes stronger
when the document recites that the spouse in whose name the land is registered is
married to somebody else, like in the case at bar. It appearing that the legal
presumption that the No. 458 belonged to the conjugal partnership had not been
overcome by clear proofs to the contrary, we are constrained to rule, that the same is
the conjugal property of the deceased spouses Lucio Perido and Marcelina Baliguat.

In impugning the foregoing ruling, the petitioners maintain that they were able to prove that 6/12 of
said Lot 458 was the conjugal property of spouses Lucio Perido and his first wife, Benita Talorong,
and that the purchase price of the additional 5/12 of said lot came from the proceeds of sale of a lot
allegedly belonging to Lucio Perido and his three children of the first marriage. As in the second
assignment of error, the issue raised here also involves appreciation of the evidence and,
consequently, the finding of the appellate court on the matter is binding on this Court. Indeed, a
review of that finding would require an examination of all the evidence introduced before the trial
court, a consideration of the credibility of witnesses and of the circumstances surrounding the case,
their relevancy or relation to one another and to the whole, as well as an appraisal of the
probabilities of the entire situation. It would thus abolish the distinction between an ordinary appeal
on the one hand and review on certiorari on the other, and thus defeat the purpose for which the
latter procedure has been established.2

WHEREFORE, the decision of the Court of Appeals is hereby affirmed, with costs against the
petitioners.

G.R. No. 198780 October 16, 2013

REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, Petitioner,


vs.
LIBERTY D. ALBIOS, Respondent.

DECISION

MENDOZA, J.:

This is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules t of Court assailing the
September 29, 2011 Decision1 of the Court of Appeals (CA), in CA-G.R. CV No. 95414, which
affirmed the April 25, 2008Decision2 of the Regional Trial Court, Imus, Cavite (RTC). declaring the
marriage of Daniel Lee Fringer (Fringer) and respondent Liberty Albios (A/bios) as void from the
beginning.

The facts

On October 22, 2004, Fringer, an American citizen, and Albios were married before Judge Ofelia I.
Calo of the Metropolitan Trial Court, Branch59, Mandaluyong City (MeTC), as evidenced by a
Certificate of Marriage with Register No. 2004-1588.3

On December 6, 2006, Albios filed with the RTC a petition for declaration of nullity 4 of her marriage
with Fringer. She alleged that immediately after their marriage, they separated and never lived as
husband and wife because they never really had any intention of entering into a married state or
complying with any of their essential marital obligations. She described their marriage as one made
in jest and, therefore, null and void ab initio .

Summons was served on Fringer but he did not file his answer. On September 13, 2007, Albios filed
a motion to set case for pre-trial and to admit her pre-trial brief. The RTC ordered the Assistant
Provincial Prosecutor to conduct an investigation and determine the existence of a collusion. On
October 2, 2007, the Assistant Prosecutor complied and reported that she could not make a
determination for failure of both parties to appear at the scheduled investigation.

At the pre-trial, only Albios, her counsel and the prosecutor appeared. Fringer did not attend the
hearing despite being duly notified of the schedule. After the pre-trial, hearing on the merits ensued.

Ruling of the RTC

In its April 25, 2008 Decision,5 the RTC declared the marriage void ab initio, the dispositive portion of
which reads:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered declaring the marriage of Liberty
Albios and Daniel Lee Fringer as void from the very beginning. As a necessary consequence of this
pronouncement, petitioner shall cease using the surname of respondent as she never acquired any
right over it and so as to avoid a misimpression that she remains the wife of respondent.

xxxx

SO ORDERED.6

The RTC was of the view that the parties married each other for convenience only. Giving credence
to the testimony of Albios, it stated that she contracted Fringer to enter into a marriage to enable her
to acquire American citizenship; that in consideration thereof, she agreed to pay him the sum of
$2,000.00; that after the ceremony, the parties went their separate ways; that Fringer returned to the
United States and never again communicated with her; and that, in turn, she did not pay him the
$2,000.00 because he never processed her petition for citizenship. The RTC, thus, ruled that when
marriage was entered into for a purpose other than the establishment of a conjugal and family life,
such was a farce and should not be recognized from its inception.

Petitioner Republic of the Philippines, represented by the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), filed
a motion for reconsideration. The RTC issued the Order, 7 dated February 5, 2009, denying the
motion for want of merit. It explained that the marriage was declared void because the parties failed
to freely give their consent to the marriage as they had no intention to be legally bound by it and
used it only as a means to acquire American citizenship in consideration of $2,000.00.

Not in conformity, the OSG filed an appeal before the CA.

Ruling of the CA

In its assailed decision, dated September 29, 2011, the CA affirmed the RTC ruling which found that
the essential requisite of consent was lacking. The CA stated that the parties clearly did not
understand the nature and consequence of getting married and that their case was similar to a
marriage in jest. It further explained that the parties never intended to enter into the marriage
contract and never intended to live as husband and wife or build a family. It concluded that their
purpose was primarily for personal gain, that is, for Albios to obtain foreign citizenship, and for
Fringer, the consideration of $2,000.00.

Hence, this petition.

Assignment of Error

THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED ON A QUESTION OF LAWWHEN IT HELD THAT A


MARRIAGE CONTRACTED FOR THEPURPOSE OF OBTAINING FOREIGN CITIZENSHIP WAS
DONEIN JEST, HENCE, LACKING IN THE ESSENTIAL ELEMENT OFCONSENT.8

The OSG argues that albeit the intention was for Albios to acquire American citizenship and for
Fringer to be paid $2,000.00, both parties freely gave their consent to the marriage, as they
knowingly and willingly entered into that marriage and knew the benefits and consequences of being
bound by it. According to the OSG, consent should be distinguished from motive, the latter being
inconsequential to the validity of marriage.

The OSG also argues that the present case does not fall within the concept of a marriage in jest. The
parties here intentionally consented to enter into a real and valid marriage, for if it were otherwise,
the purpose of Albios to acquire American citizenship would be rendered futile.

On October 29, 2012, Albios filed her Comment9 to the petition, reiterating her stand that her
marriage was similar to a marriage by way of jest and, therefore, void from the beginning.

On March 22, 2013, the OSG filed its Reply10 reiterating its arguments in its petition for review on
certiorari.

Ruling of the Court

The resolution of this case hinges on this sole question of law: Is a marriage, contracted for the sole
purpose of acquiring American citizenship in consideration of $2,000.00, void ab initio on the ground
of lack of consent?

The Court resolves in the negative.

Before the Court delves into its ruling, It shall first examine the phenomenon of marriage fraud for the
purposes of immigration.

Marriage Fraud in Immigration

The institution of marriage carries with it concomitant benefits. This has led to the development of
marriage fraud for the sole purpose of availing of particular benefits. In the United States, marriages
where a couple marries only to achieve a particular purpose or acquire specific benefits, have been
referred to as "limited purpose" marriages.11 A common limited purpose marriage is one entered into
solely for the legitimization of a child.12 Another, which is the subject of the present case, is for
immigration purposes. Immigration law is usually concerned with the intention of the couple at the
time of their marriage,13 and it attempts to filter out those who use marriage solely to achieve
immigration status.14

In 1975, the seminal case of Bark v. Immigration and Naturalization Service,15 established the
principal test for determining the presence of marriage fraud in immigration cases. It ruled that a
"marriage is a sham if the bride and groom did not intend to establish a life together at the time they
were married. "This standard was modified with the passage of the Immigration Marriage Fraud
Amendment of 1986 (IMFA), which now requires the couple to instead demonstrate that the
marriage was not "entered into for the purpose of evading the immigration laws of the United States."
The focus, thus, shifted from determining the intention to establish a life together, to determining the
intention of evading immigration laws.16 It must be noted, however, that this standard is used purely
for immigration purposes and, therefore, does not purport to rule on the legal validity or existence of
a marriage.

The question that then arises is whether a marriage declared as a sham or fraudulent for the limited
purpose of immigration is also legally void and in existent. The early cases on limited purpose
marriages in the United States made no definitive ruling. In 1946, the notable case of

United States v. Rubenstein17 was promulgated, wherein in order to allow an alien to stay in the
country, the parties had agreed to marry but not to live together and to obtain a divorce within six
months. The Court, through Judge Learned Hand, ruled that a marriage to convert temporary into
permanent permission to stay in the country was not a marriage, there being no consent, to wit:

x x x But, that aside, Spitz and Sandler were never married at all. Mutual consent is necessary to
every contract; and no matter what forms or ceremonies the parties may go through indicating the
contrary, they do not contract if they do not in fact assent, which may always be proved. x x x
Marriage is no exception to this rule: a marriage in jest is not a marriage at all. x x x It is quite true
that a marriage without subsequent consummation will be valid; but if the spouses agree to a
marriage only for the sake of representing it as such to the outside world and with the understanding
that they will put an end to it as soon as it has served its purpose to deceive, they have never really
agreed to be married at all. They must assent to enter into the relation as it is ordinarily understood,
and it is not ordinarily understood as merely a pretence, or cover, to deceive others.18

(Italics supplied)

On the other end of the spectrum is the 1969 case of Mpiliris v. Hellenic Lines,19 which declared as
valid a marriage entered into solely for the husband to gain entry to the United States, stating that a
valid marriage could not be avoided "merely because the marriage was entered into for a limited
purpose."20 The 1980 immigration case of Matter of McKee,21 further recognized that a fraudulent or
sham marriage was intrinsically different from a non subsisting one.

Nullifying these limited purpose marriages for lack of consent has, therefore, been recognized as
problematic. The problem being that in order to obtain an immigration benefit, a legal marriage is first
necessary.22 At present, United States courts have generally denied annulments involving" limited
purpose" marriages where a couple married only to achieve a particular purpose, and have upheld
such marriages as valid.23

The Court now turns to the case at hand.

Respondent’s marriage not void

In declaring the respondent’s marriage void, the RTC ruled that when a marriage was entered into
for a purpose other than the establishment of a conjugal and family life, such was a farce and should
not be recognized from its inception. In its resolution denying the OSG’s motion for reconsideration,
the RTC went on to explain that the marriage was declared void because the parties failed to freely
give their consent to the marriage as they had no intention to be legally bound by it and used it only
as a means for the respondent to acquire American citizenship. Agreeing with the RTC, the CA ruled
that the essential requisite of consent was lacking. It held that the parties clearly did not understand
the nature and consequence of getting married. As in the Rubenstein case, the CA found the
marriage to be similar to a marriage in jest considering that the parties only entered into the marriage
for the acquisition of American citizenship in exchange of $2,000.00. They never intended to enter
into a marriage contract and never intended to live as husband and wife or build a family.

The CA’s assailed decision was, therefore, grounded on the parties’ supposed lack of consent.
Under Article 2 of the Family Code, consent is an essential requisite of marriage. Article 4 of the
same Code provides that the absence of any essential requisite shall render a marriage void ab
initio.

Under said Article 2, for consent to be valid, it must be (1) freely given and (2) made in the presence
of a solemnizing officer. A "freely given" consent requires that the contracting parties willingly and
deliberately enter into the marriage. Consent must be real in the sense that it is not vitiated nor
rendered defective by any of the vices of consent under Articles45 and 46 of the Family Code, such
as fraud, force, intimidation, and undue influence.24Consent must also be conscious or intelligent, in
that the parties must be capable of intelligently understanding the nature of, and both the beneficial
or unfavorable consequences of their act.25 Their understanding should not be affected by insanity,
intoxication, drugs, or hypnotism.26

Based on the above, consent was not lacking between Albios and Fringer. In fact, there was real
consent because it was not vitiated nor rendered defective by any vice of consent. Their consent
was also conscious and intelligent as they understood the nature and the beneficial and
inconvenient consequences of their marriage, as nothing impaired their ability to do so. That their
consent was freely given is best evidenced by their conscious purpose of acquiring American
citizenship through marriage. Such plainly demonstrates that they willingly and deliberately
contracted the marriage. There was a clear intention to enter into a real and valid marriage so as to
fully comply with the requirements of an application for citizenship. There was a full and complete
understanding of the legal tie that would be created between them, since it was that precise legal tie
which was necessary to accomplish their goal.

In ruling that Albios’ marriage was void for lack of consent, the CA characterized such as akin to a
marriage by way of jest. A marriage in jest is a pretended marriage, legal in form but entered into as
a joke, with no real intention of entering into the actual marriage status, and with a clear
understanding that the parties would not be bound. The ceremony is not followed by any conduct
indicating a purpose to enter into such a relation.27 It is a pretended marriage not intended to be real
and with no intention to create any legal ties whatsoever, hence, the absence of any genuine
consent. Marriages in jest are void ab initio, not for vitiated, defective, or unintelligent consent, but for
a complete absence of consent. There is no genuine consent because the parties have absolutely
no intention of being bound in any way or for any purpose.

The respondent’s marriage is not at all analogous to a marriage in jest. Albios and Fringer had an
1âw phi 1

undeniable intention to be bound in order to create the very bond necessary to allow the respondent
to acquire American citizenship. Only a genuine consent to be married would allow them to further
their objective, considering that only a valid marriage can properly support an application for
citizenship. There was, thus, an apparent intention to enter into the actual marriage status and to
create a legal tie, albeit for a limited purpose. Genuine consent was, therefore, clearly present.

The avowed purpose of marriage under Article 1 of the Family Code is for the couple to establish a
conjugal and family life. The possibility that the parties in a marriage might have no real intention to
establish a life together is, however, insufficient to nullify a marriage freely entered into in
accordance with law. The same Article 1 provides that the nature, consequences, and incidents of
marriage are governed by law and not subject to stipulation. A marriage may, thus, only be declared
void or voidable under the grounds provided by law. There is no law that declares a marriage void if
it is entered into for purposes other than what the Constitution or law declares, such as the
acquisition of foreign citizenship. Therefore, so long as all the essential and formal requisites
prescribed by law are present, and it is not void or voidable under the grounds provided by law, it
shall be declared valid.28

Motives for entering into a marriage are varied and complex. The State does not and cannot dictate
on the kind of life that a couple chooses to lead. Any attempt to regulate their lifestyle would go into
the realm of their right to privacy and would raise serious constitutional questions.29 The right to
marital privacy allows married couples to structure their marriages in almost any way they see fit, to
live together or live apart, to have children or no children, to love one another or not, and so
on.30 Thus, marriages entered into for other purposes, limited or otherwise, such as convenience,
companionship, money, status, and title, provided that they comply with all the legal requisites,31are
equally valid. Love, though the ideal consideration in a marriage contract, is not the only valid cause
for marriage. Other considerations, not precluded by law, may validly support a marriage.

Although the Court views with disdain the respondent’s attempt to utilize marriage for dishonest
purposes, It cannot declare the marriage void. Hence, though the respondent’s marriage may be
considered a sham or fraudulent for the purposes of immigration, it is not void ab initio and continues
to be valid and subsisting.

Neither can their marriage be considered voidable on the ground of fraud under Article 45 (3) of the
Family Code. Only the circumstances listed under Article 46 of the same Code may constitute fraud,
namely, (1) non- disclosure of a previous conv1ctwn involving moral turpitude; (2) concealment by
the wife of a pregnancy by another man; (3) concealment of a sexually transmitted disease; and (4)
concealment of drug addiction, alcoholism, or homosexuality. No other misrepresentation or deceit
shall constitute fraud as a ground for an action to annul a marriage. Entering into a marriage for the
sole purpose of evading immigration laws does not qualify under any of the listed circumstances.
Furthermore, under Article 47 (3), the ground of fraud may only be brought by the injured or innocent
party. In the present case, there is no injured party because Albios and Fringer both conspired to
enter into the sham marriage.

Albios has indeed made a mockery of the sacred institution of marriage. Allowing her marriage with
Fringer to be declared void would only further trivialize this inviolable institution. The Court cannot
declare such a marriage void in the event the parties fail to qualify for immigration benefits, after they
have availed of its benefits, or simply have no further use for it. These unscrupulous individuals
cannot be allowed to use the courts as instruments in their fraudulent schemes. Albios already
misused a judicial institution to enter into a marriage of convenience; she should not be allowed to
again abuse it to get herself out of an inconvenient situation.

No less than our Constitution declares that marriage, as an in violable social institution, is the
foundation of the family and shall be protected by the State.32 It must, therefore, be safeguarded
from the whims and caprices of the contracting parties. This Court cannot leave the impression that
marriage may easily be entered into when it suits the needs of the parties, and just as easily nullified
when no longer needed.

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The September 29, 2011 Decision of the Court of Appeals
in CA-G.R. CV No. 95414 is ANNULLED, and Civil Case No. 1134-06 is DISMISSED for utter lack of
merit.

SO ORDERED.

A.M. No. MTJ-96-1088 July 19, 1996

RODOLFO G. NAVARRO, complainant,

vs.

JUDGE HERNANDO C. DOMAGTOY, respondent.

ROMERO, J.:p

The complainant in this administrative case is the Municipal Mayor of Dapa, Surigao del Norte, Rodolfo G. Navarro. He has submitted
evidence in relation to two specific acts committed by respondent Municipal Circuit Trial Court Judge Hernando Domagtoy, which, he
contends, exhibits gross misconduct as well as inefficiency in office and ignorance of the law.

First, on September 27, 1994, respondent judge solemnized the wedding between Gaspar A.
Tagadan and Arlyn F. Borga, despite the knowledge that the groom is merely separated from his first
wife.

Second, it is alleged that he performed a marriage ceremony between Floriano Dador Sumaylo and
Gemma G. del Rosario outside his court's jurisdiction on October 27, 1994. Respondent judge holds
office and has jurisdiction in the Municipal Circuit Trial Court of Sta. Monica-Burgos, Surigao del
Norte. The wedding was solemnized at the respondent judge's residence in the municipality of Dapa,
which does not fall within his jurisdictional area of the municipalities of Sta. Monica and Burgos,
located some 40 to 45 kilometers away from the municipality of Dapa, Surigao del Norte.

In his letter-comment to the office of the Court Administrator, respondent judge avers that the office
and name of the Municipal Mayor of Dapa have been used by someone else, who, as the mayor's
"lackey," is overly concerned with his actuations both as judge and as a private person. The same
person had earlier filed Administrative Matter No 94-980-MTC, which was dismissed for lack of merit
on September 15, 1994, and Administrative Matter No. OCA-IPI-95-16, "Antonio Adapon v. Judge
Hernando C. Domagtoy," which is still pending.

In relation to the charges against him, respondent judge seeks exculpation from his act of having
solemnized the marriage between Gaspar Tagadan, a married man separated from his wife, and
Arlyn F. Borga by stating that he merely relied on the Affidavit issued by the Municipal Trial Judge of
Basey, Samar, confirming the fact that Mr. Tagadan and his first wife have not seen each other for
almost seven years. 1 With respect to the second charge, he maintains that in solemnizing the
marriage between Sumaylo and del Rosario, he did not violate Article 7, paragraph 1 of the Family
Code which states that: "Marriage may be solemnized by: (1) Any incumbent member of the judiciary
within the court's jurisdiction;" and that article 8 thereof applies to the case in question.

The complaint was not referred, as is usual, for investigation, since the pleadings submitted were
considered sufficient for a resolution of the case. 2

Since the countercharges of sinister motives and fraud on the part of complainant have not been
sufficiently proven, they will not be dwelt upon. The acts complained of and respondent judge's
answer thereto will suffice and can be objectively assessed by themselves to prove the latter's
malfeasance.

The certified true copy of the marriage contract between Gaspar Tagadan and Arlyn Borga states
that Tagadan's civil status is "separated." Despite this declaration, the wedding ceremony was
solemnized by respondent judge. He presented in evidence a joint affidavit by Maurecio A. Labado,
Sr. and Eugenio Bullecer, subscribed and sworn to before Judge Demosthenes C. Duquilla,
Municipal Trial Judge of Basey, Samar. 3 The affidavit was not issued by the latter judge, as claimed
by respondent judge, but merely acknowledged before him. In their affidavit, the affiants stated that
they knew Gaspar Tagadan to have been civilly married to Ida D. Peñaranda in September 1983;
that after thirteen years of cohabitation and having borne five children, Ida Peñaranda left the
conjugal dwelling in Valencia, Bukidnon and that she has not returned nor been heard of for almost
seven years, thereby giving rise to the presumption that she is already dead.

In effect, Judge Domagtoy maintains that the aforementioned joint affidavit is sufficient proof of Ida
Peñaranda's presumptive death, and ample reason for him to proceed with the marriage ceremony.
We do not agree.

Article 41 of the Family Code expressly provides:

A marriage contracted by any person during the subsistence of a previous marriage


shall be null and void, unless before the celebration of the subsequent marriage, the
prior spouse had been absent for four consecutive years and the spouse present had
a well-founded belief that the absent spouse was already dead. In case of
disappearance where there is danger of death under the circumstances set forth in
the provisions of Articles 391 of the Civil Code, an absence of only two years shall be
sufficient.

For the purpose of contracting the subsequent marriage under the preceding
paragraph, the spouse present must institute a summary proceeding as provided in
this Code for the declaration of presumptive death of the absentee, without prejudice
to the effect of reappearance of the absent spouse. (Emphasis added.)

There is nothing ambiguous or difficult to comprehend in this provision. In fact, the law is clear and
simple. Even if the spouse present has a well-founded belief that the absent spouse was already
dead, a summary proceeding for the declaration of presumptive death is necessary in order to
contract a subsequent marriage, a mandatory requirement which has been precisely incorporated
into the Family Code to discourage subsequent marriages where it is not proven that the previous
marriage has been dissolved or a missing spouse is factually or presumptively dead, in accordance
with pertinent provisions of law.
In the case at bar, Gaspar Tagadan did not institute a summary proceeding for the declaration of his
first wife's presumptive death. Absent this judicial declaration, he remains married to Ida Peñaranda.
Whether wittingly or unwittingly, it was manifest error on the part of respondent judge to have
accepted the joint affidavit submitted by the groom. Such neglect or ignorance of the law has
resulted in a bigamous, and therefore void, marriage. Under Article 35 of the Family Code, " The
following marriage shall be void from the beginning: (4) Those bigamous . . . marriages not falling
under Article 41."

The second issue involves the solemnization of a marriage ceremony outside the court's jurisdiction,
covered by Articles 7 and 8 of the Family Code, thus:

Art. 7. Marriage may be solemnized by :

(1) Any incumbent member of the judiciary within the court's jurisdiction;

xxx xxx xxx (Emphasis supplied.)

Art. 8. The marriage shall be solemnized publicly in the chambers the judge or in
open court, in the church, chapel or temple, or in the office of the consul-general,
consul or vice-consul, as the case may be, and not elsewhere, except in cases of
marriages contracted on the point of death or in remote places in accordance with
Article 29 of this Code, or where both parties request the solemnizing officer in
writing in which case the marriage may be solemnized at a house or place
designated by them in a sworn statement to that effect.

Respondent judge points to Article 8 and its exceptions as the justification for his having solemnized
the marriage between Floriano Sumaylo and Gemma del Rosario outside of his court's jurisdiction.
As the aforequoted provision states, a marriage can be held outside of the judge's chambers or
courtroom only in the following instances: (1) at the point of death, (2) in remote places in
accordance with Article 29 or (3) upon request of both parties in writing in a sworn statement to this
effect. There is no pretense that either Sumaylo or del Rosario was at the point of death or in the
remote place. Moreover, the written request presented addressed to the respondent judge was
made by only one party, Gemma del Rosario. 4

More importantly, the elementary principle underlying this provision is the authority of the
solemnizing judge. Under Article 3, one of the formal requisites of marriage is the "authority of the
solemnizing officer." Under Article 7, marriage may be solemnized by, among others, "any
incumbent member of the judiciary within the court's jurisdiction." Article 8, which is a directory
provision, refers only to the venue of the marriage ceremony and does not alter or qualify the
authority of the solemnizing officer as provided in the preceding provision. Non-compliance herewith
will not invalidate the marriage.

A priest who is commissioned and allowed by his local ordinary to marry the faithful, is authorized to
do so only within the area of the diocese or place allowed by his Bishop. An appellate court Justice
or a Justice of this Court has jurisdiction over the entire Philippines to solemnize marriages,
regardless of the venue, as long as the requisites of the law are complied with. However, judges who
are appointed to specific jurisdictions, may officiate in weddings only within said areas and not
beyond. Where a judge solemnizes a marriage outside his court's jurisdiction, there is a resultant
irregularity in the formal requisite laid down in Article 3, which while it may not affect the validity of
the marriage, may subject the officiating official to administrative liability. 5

Inasmuch as respondent judge's jurisdiction covers the municipalities of Sta. Monica and Burgos, he
was not clothed with authority to solemnize a marriage in the municipality of Dapa, Surigao del
Norte. By citing Article 8 and the exceptions therein as grounds for the exercise of his misplaced
authority, respondent judge again demonstrated a lack of understanding of the basic principles of
civil law.

Accordingly, the Court finds respondent to have acted in gross ignorance of the law. The legal
principles applicable in the cases brought to our attention are elementary and uncomplicated,
prompting us to conclude that respondent's failure to apply them is due to a lack of comprehension
of the law.
The judiciary should be composed of persons who, if not experts, are at least, proficient in the law
they are sworn to apply, more than the ordinary laymen. They should be skilled and competent in
understanding and applying the law. It is imperative that they be conversant with basic legal
principles like the ones involved in instant case. 6 It is not too much to expect them to know and
apply the law intelligently. 7 Otherwise, the system of justice rests on a shaky foundation indeed,
compounded by the errors committed by those not learned in the law. While magistrates may at
times make mistakes in judgment, for which they are not penalized, the respondent judge exhibited
ignorance of elementary provisions of law, in an area which has greatly prejudiced the status of
married persons.

The marriage between Gaspar Tagadan and Arlyn Borga is considered bigamous and void, there
being a subsisting marriage between Gaspar Tagadan and Ida Peñaranda.

The Office of the Court Administrator recommends, in its Memorandum to the Court, a six-month
suspension and a stern warning that a repetition of the same or similar acts will be dealt with more
severely. Considering that one of the marriages in question resulted in a bigamous union and
therefore void, and the other lacked the necessary authority of respondent judge, the Court adopts
said recommendation. Respondent is advised to be more circumspect in applying the law and to
cultivate a deeper understanding of the law.

IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, respondent Judge Hernando C. Domagtoy is hereby SUSPENDED


for a period of six (6) months and given a STERN WARNING that a repetition of the same or similar
acts will be dealt with more severely.

G.R. No. L-11598 January 27, 1959

THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appelee,


vs.
FEDERIC BUSTAMANTE, defendant-appellant.

Assistant Solicitor General Antonio A. Torres and Atty. Eduardo C. Abaya for appellee.
Ramon S. Milo for appellant.

REYES, J.B.L., J.:

Charged and convicted of the crime of bigamy in the Court of First Instance of Pangasinan, Federico
Bustamante appealed to this Court on points of law.

The records disclose that defendant-appellant Bustamante was united in wedlock to one Maria
Perez on August 9, 1954, before the Justice of the Peace of Binalonan, Pangasinan (Exh. "A", pp. 9-
11, t.s.n.). A little over a year later, or on September 16, 1955, he contracted a second marriage with
Demetria Tibayan, solemnized before Vice-Mayor Francisco B. Nato of Mapandan, Pangasinan, who
was then acting as Mayor of the said Municipality (Exh. "B"), while the first marriage was still
subsisting. Defendant dwelt with Demetria and her parents for about a month, after which a time he
returned to Calasiao, Pangasinan to live with the first wife, Maria Perez. In the course of her search
for him, Demetria discovered from the Binalonan municipal authorities the previous marriage of
defendant Bustamante. Hence, this accusation.

Defendant did not testify in his behalf during the trial. the main problem poised in this appeal
concerns the authority of Francisco Nato to solemnize the second marriage.

It appears that Enrique Aquino and Francisco Nato were the duly elected mayor and vice-mayor,
respectively, of the municipality of Mapandan, Pangasinan in the elections of 1951. On September
16, 1955, Aquino went on leave of absence for one month. In view of this, the vice-mayor was
designed by the mayor to take over the rein of municipal government during his absence; and Nato
was acting in this capacity when he performed the second marriage of Bustamante with Demetria
Tibayan.

Appellant, relying upon article 56 of the Civil Code of the Philippines —

Art. 56. Marriage may be solemnized by:

(1) The Chief Justice and Associate Justices of the Supreme Court;
(2) The Presiding Justice and the Justice of the Court of Appeals;

(3) Judges of the Courts of First Instance;

(4) Mayors of cities and municipalities;

(5) Municipal judges and justices of the Peace;

(6) Priests, rabbis, ministers of the gospel of any denominations, church, religion or sect,
duly registered, as provided in article 92; and

(7) Ship captains, airplanes chiefs, military commanders, and consuls and vice-consuls in
special cases provided in provided in articles 74 and 75.

contends that there could not have been a second marriage to speak of, as Nato was merely acting
as mayor when he celebrated the same, hence, without authority of law to do so. He lays stress on
the distinction made by this court in the case Salaysay vs. Hon. Fred Ruiz Castro, et al.* 52 Off.
Gaz., No. 2, 809, between "Acting Mayor" and "Vice-Mayor acting as Mayor", urging that while the
former may solemnize marriages, the latter could not.

We find this connection untenable. When the issue involves the assumption of powers and duties of
the office of the mayor by the vice-mayor, when proper, it is immaterial whether it because the latter
is the Acting Mayor or merely acting as Mayor, for in both instances, he discharges all the duties and
wields the power appurtenant to said office (Laxamana vs. Baltazar,1 48 Off. Gaz., No. 9, 3869; Sec.
2195, Revised Administrative Code). The case of Salaysay vs. Castro (supra) cited by the appellant,
which revolves upon the interpretation of section 27 of the Revised Election Code, is entirely distinct
from the one at bar. This instance does not involve a question of title to the office, but the
performance of the functions thereunto appertaining by one who is admitted to be temporarily vested
with it. As correctly observed by the lower court, that case even concedes and recognizes the
powers and duties of the Mayor to devolve upon the Vice-Mayor whenever the latter is in an acting
capacity. The word "acting" as held in the case of Austria vs. Amante,2 45 Off. Gaz., 2809, when
preceding the title of an office connotes merely the temporary character or nature of the same.

The information charges that the appellant contracted the second marriage before the Justice of the
Peace of Mapandan, Pangasinan, while the marriage certificate, Exh. "B", and the testimonies of
witnesses indicate clearly that it was performed by Francisco Nato. Appellant assigns as error the
admission by the lower court of the said evidence, notwithstanding counsel's objection. This is not
reversible error. The wrong averment, if at all, was unsubstantial and immaterial that need not even
be alleged, for it matters not who solemnized the marriage, it being sufficient that the information
charging bigamy alleges that a second marriage was contracted while the first still remained
undissolved. The information filed in this case which properly states the time and place of the second
wedding, was sufficient to apprise the defendant of the crime imputed. Neither procedural prejudice
nor error was committed by the lower court in finding appellant guilty.

Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code attaches the penalty of prision mayor to the crime of bigamy.
Pursuant to the Indeterminate Sentence Law, the court must impose an indeterminate penalty, the
maximum term of which shall be that which, in view of the attending circumstances, could be
properly imposed under the Code (in this case the medium period of prision mayor, there being no
aggravating nor mitigating circumstances), and the minimum which shall be within the range of the
penalty next lower to that prescribed for the offense (or prision correccional medium) (People vs.
Gonzales, 73 Phil., 549).

The penalty imposed by the lower court (imprisonment for not less than two (2) years, four (4)
months and one (1) day of prision correccional and not more than eight (8) years and one (1) day
of prision mayor), being in accordance with law, is affirmed. Costs against appellant.

So ordered.

G.R. No. 127263 April 12, 2000

FILIPINA Y. SY, petitioner,


vs.
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, THE HONORABLE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT, SAN
FERNANDO, PAMPANGA, BRANCH XLI, and FERNANDO SY, respondents.

QUISUMBING, J.:

For review is the decision1 dated May 21, 1996 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 44144,
which affirmedthe decision2 of the Regional Trial Court of San Fernando, Pampanga, denying the
petition3 for declaration of absolute nullity of marriage of the spouses Filipina Sy and Fernando Sy.

Petitioner Filipina Y. Sy and private respondent Fernando Sy contracted marriage on November 15,
1973 at the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes in Quezon City. 4 Both were then 22 years old. Their
union was blessed with two children, Frederick and Farrah Sheryll who were born on July 8, 1975
and February 14, 1978, respectively.5

The spouses first established their residence in Singalong, Manila, then in Apalit, Pampanga, and
later at San Matias, Sto. Tomas, Pampanga. They operated a lumber and hardware business in Sto.
Tomas, Pampanga.6

On September 15, 1983, Fernando left their conjugal dwelling. Since then, the spouses lived
separately, and their two children were in the custody of their mother. However, their son Frederick
transferred to his father's residence at Masangkay, Tondo, Manila on May 15, 1988, and from then
on, lived with his father.7

On February 11, 1987, Filipina filed a petition for legal separation, docketed as Civil Case No. 7900
before the Regional Trial Court of San Fernando, Pampanga. Later, upon motion of petitioner, the
action was later amended to a petition for separation of property on the grounds that her husband
abandoned her without just cause; that they have been living separately for more than one year; and
that they voluntarily entered into a Memorandum of Agreement dated September 29, 1983,
containing the rules that would govern the dissolution of their conjugal partnership.8 Judgment was
rendered dissolving their conjugal partnership of gains and approving a regime of separation of
properties based on the Memorandum of Agreement executed by the spouses.9 The trial court also
granted custody of the children to Filipina. 10

In May 1988, Filipina filed a criminal action for attempted parricide against her husband, docketed as
Criminal Case No. 88-68006, before the Regional Trial Court of Manila. Filipina testified that in the
afternoon of May 15, 1988, she went to the dental clinic at Masangkay, Tondo, Manila, owned by her
husband but operated by his mistress, to fetch her son and bring him to San Fernando, Pampanga.
While she was talking to her son, the boy ignored her and continued playing with the family
computer. Filipina got mad, took the computer away from her son, and started spanking him. At that
instance, Fernando pulled Filipina away from their son, and punched her in the different parts of her
body. Filipina also claimed that her husband started choking her when she fell on the floor, and
released her only when he thought she was dead. Filipina suffered from hematoma and contusions
on different parts of her body as a result of the blows inflicted by her husband, evidenced by a
Medical Certificate issued by a certain Dr. James Ferraren. She said it was not the first time
Fernando maltreated her. 11

The Regional Trial Court of Manila, however, in its decision 12 dated April 26, 1990, convicted
Fernando only of the lesser crime of slight physical injuries, and sentenced him to 20 days
imprisonment.

Petitioner later filed a new action for legal separation against private respondent, docketed as Civil
Case No. 8273, on the following grounds: (1) repeated physical violence; (2) sexual infidelity; (3)
attempt by respondent against her life; and (4) abandonment of her by her husband without
justifiable cause for more than one year. The Regional Trial Court of San Fernando, Pampanga, in
its decision 13 dated December 4, 1991, granted the petition on the grounds of repeated physical
violence and sexual infidelity, and issued a decree of legal separation. It awarded custody of their
daughter Farrah Sheryll to petitioner, and their son Frederick to respondent.

On August 4, 1992, Filipina filed a petition 14 for the declaration of absolute nullity of her marriage to
Fernando on the ground of psychological incapacity. She points out that the final judgment rendered
by the Regional Trial Court in her favor, in her petitions for separation of property and legal
separation, and Fernando's infliction of physical violence on her which led to the conviction of her
husband for slight physical injuries are symptoms of psychological incapacity. She also cites as
manifestations of her husband's psychological incapacity the following: (1) habitual alcoholism; (2)
refusal to live with her without fault on her part, choosing to live with his mistress instead; and (3)
refusal to have sex with her, performing the marital act only to satisfy himself. Moreover, Filipina
alleges that such psychological incapacity of her husband existed from the time of the celebration of
their marriage and became manifest thereafter. 15

The Regional Trial Court of San Fernando, Pampanga, in its decision 16 dated December 9, 1993,
denied the petition of Filipina Sy for the declaration of absolute nullity of her marriage to Fernando. It
stated that the alleged acts of the respondent, as cited by petitioner, do not constitute psychological
incapacity which may warrant the declaration of absolute nullity of their marriage.

Petitioner appealed to the Court of Appeals which affirmed the decision of the trial court. In the
decision 17 of the Court of Appeals dated May 21, 1996, it ruled that the testimony of petitioner
concerning respondent's purported psychological incapacity falls short of the quantum of evidence
required to nullify a marriage celebrated with all the formal and essential requisites of law. Moreover,
the Court of Appeals held that petitioner failed to show that the alleged psychological incapacity of
respondent had existed at the time of the celebration of their marriage in 1973. It reiterated the
finding of the trial court that the couple's marital problems surfaced only in 1983, or almost ten years
from the date of the celebration of their marriage. And prior to their separation in 1983, they were
living together harmoniously. Thus, the Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment of the lower court
which it found to be in accordance with law and the evidence on record. 18

Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration, 19 which the Court of Appeals denied in its resolution
dated November 21, 1996. 20

Hence, this appeal by certiorari 21 wherein petitioner now raises the following issues:

1. WHETHER OR NOT THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS MANIFESTLY


OVERLOOKED THE FACT THAT ON THE DATE OF THE CELEBRATION OF THE
PARTIES' MARRIAGE ON NOVEMBER 15, 1973, NOT DISPUTED BY RESPONDENT
FERNANDO, THERE WAS NO MARRIAGE LICENSE THERETO;

2. WHETHER OR NOT THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED


MISAPPREHENSION OF FACTS BY STATING THAT THE GROUNDS RELIED UPON BY
APPELLANT [herein petitioner] DO NOT CONSTITUTE PSYCHOLOGICAL INCAPACITY
AS WOULD JUSTIFY NULLIFICATION OF HER MARRIAGE TO APPELLEE [herein
respondent];

3. WHETHER OR NOT THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED


MISAPPREHENSION OF FACTS BY STATING THAT APPELLANT FAILED TO SHOW
THAT THE ALLEGED UNDESIRABLE ACTUATIONS OF APPELLEE HAD EXISTED OR
WERE PRESENT AT THE TIME THEIR MARRIAGE WAS CELEBRATED IN 1973;

4. WHETHER OR NOT THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED GRAVE


ABUSE OF DISCRETION IN AFFIRMING THE ERRONEOUS RULING OF THE LOWER
COURT THAT THERE IS A REDEEMING ATTITUDE SHOWN TO THE COURT BY
RESPONDENT FERNANDO WITH RESPECT TO HIS CHILDREN AND ALSO BELIEVES
THAT RECONCILIATION BETWEEN THE PARTIES IS NOT A REMOTE POSSIBILITY
WHICH IS ERRONEOUS; AND

5. WHETHER OR NOT THE CASE OF SANTOS V. COURT OF APPEALS (240 SCRA 20)
IS APPLICABLE HERETO. 22

In sum, two issues are to be resolved:

1. Whether or not the marriage between petitioner and private respondent is void from the beginning
for lack of a marriage license at the time of the ceremony; and

2. Whether or not private respondent is psychologically incapacitated at the time of said marriage
celebration to warrant a declaration of its absolute nullity.
Petitioner, for the first time, raises the issue of the marriage being void for lack of a valid marriage
license at the time of its celebration. It appears that, according to her, the date of the actual
celebration of their marriage and the date of issuance of their marriage certificate and marriage
license are different and incongruous.

Although we have repeatedly ruled that litigants cannot raise an issue for the first time on appeal, as
this would contravene the basic rules of fair play and justice, 23 in a number of instances, we have
relaxed observance of procedural rules, noting that technicalities are not ends in themselves but
exist to protect and promote substantive rights of litigants. We said that certain rules ought not to be
applied with severity and rigidity if by so doing, the very reason for their existence would be
defeated. 24 Hence, when substantial justice plainly requires, exempting a particular case from the
operation of technicalities should not be subject to cavil. 25 In our view, the case at bar requires that
we address the issue of the validity of the marriage between Filipina and Fernando which petitioner
claims is void from the beginning for lack of a marriage license, in order to arrive at a just resolution
of a deeply seated and violent conflict between the parties. Note, however, that here the pertinent
facts are not disputed; and what is required now is a declaration of their effects according to existing
law.

Petitioner states that though she did not categorically state in her petition for annulment of marriage
before the trial court that the incongruity in the dates of the marriage license and the celebration of
the marriage itself would lead to the conclusion that her marriage to Fernando was void from the
beginning, she points out that these critical dates were contained in the documents she submitted
before the court. The date of issue of the marriage license and marriage certificate, September 17,
1974, is contained in their marriage contract which was attached as Annex "A" in her petition for
declaration of absolute nullity of marriage before the trial court, and thereafter marked as Exhibit "A"
in the course of the trial. 26 The date of celebration of their marriage at Our Lady of Lourdes, Sta.
Teresita Parish, on November 15, 1973, is admitted both by petitioner and private respondent, as
stated in paragraph three of petitioner's petition for the declaration of absolute nullity of marriage
before the trial court, and private respondent's answer admitting it. 27 This fact was also affirmed by
petitioner, in open court, on January 22, 1993, during her direct examination, 28 as follows:

ATTY. RAZON: In the last hearing, you said that you were married on November 15, 1973?

FILIPINA SY: Yes, Sir.

November 15, 1973, also appears as the date of marriage of the parents in both their son's and
daughter's birth certificates, which are also attached as Annexes "B" and "C" in the petition for
declaration of absolute nullity of marriage before the trial court, and thereafter marked as Exhibits "B"
and "C" in the course of the trial. 29 These pieces of evidence on record plainly and indubitably show
that on the day of the marriage ceremony, there was no marriage license. A marriage license is a
formal requirement; its absence renders the marriage void ab initio. In addition, the marriage contract
shows that the marriage license, numbered 6237519, was issued in Carmona, Cavite, yet, neither
petitioner nor private respondent ever resided in Carmona. 30

Carefully reviewing the documents and the pleadings on record, we find that indeed petitioner did
not expressly state in her petition before the trial court that there was incongruity between the date of
the actual celebration of their marriage and the date of the issuance of their marriage license. From
the documents she presented, the marriage license was issued on September 17, 1974, almost one
year after the ceremony took place on November 15, 1973. The ineluctable conclusion is that the
marriage was indeed contracted without a marriage license. Nowhere do we find private respondent
denying these dates on record. Article 80 of the Civil Code 31 is clearly applicable in this case. There
being no claim of an exceptional character, the purported marriage between petitioner and private
respondent could not be classified among those enumerated in Articles 72-79 32 of the Civil Code. We
thus conclude that under Article 80 of the Civil Code, the marriage between petitioner and private
respondent is void from the beginning.

We note that their marriage certificate and marriage license are only photocopies. So are the birth
certificates of their son Frederick and daughter Farrah Sheryll. Nevertheless, these documents were
marked as Exhibits during the course of the trial below, which shows that these have been examined
and admitted by the trial court, with no objections having been made as to their authenticity and due
execution. Likewise, no objection was interposed to petitioner's testimony in open court when she
affirmed that the date of the actual celebration of their marriage was on November 15, 1973. We are
of the view, therefore, that having been admitted in evidence, with the adverse party failing to timely
object thereto, these documents are deemed sufficient proof of the facts contained therein. 33
The remaining issue on the psychological incapacity of private respondent need no longer detain us.
It is mooted by our conclusion that the marriage of petitioner to respondent is void ab initio for lack of
a marriage license at the time their marriage was solemnized.

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The Decision of the Regional Trial Court of San Fernando,
Pampanga, dated December 9, 1993 as well as the Decision promulgated on May 21, 1996 by the
Court of Appeals and its Resolution dated November 21, 1996 in CA-G.R. No. 44144 are set aside.
The marriage celebrated on November 15, 1973 between petitioner Filipina Yap and private
respondent Fernando Sy is hereby declared void ab initio for lack of a marriage license at the time of
celebration. No pronouncement as to costs.

SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. L-31919 March 24, 1930

VICENTE SANTIAGO, administrator of the deceased Juan Dizon, plaintiff-appellant,


vs.
CRISTINA CRUZ, defendant-appellant.

The plaintiff-appellant in his own behalf.


Guevara, Francisco and Recto for defendant-appellant.

OSTRAND, J.:

It appears from the record that one Juan Dizon died on July 20, 1927, in a house where he had lived
for at least twenty years prior to his death. After his death, a petition for the appointment of a special
administrator was filed with the Court of First Instance of Rizal. The petition was opposed by Marta
Dizon, a close relative of the deceased, but her opposition was overruled and on July 27, 1927, the
plaintiff, Vicente Santiago, was appointed special administrator. As such, he took possession of the
property left by the deceased, including the house above-mentioned. Two months later, Marta Dizon
entered the house and made it her abode, against the will of the plaintiff. Three days later, Cristina
Cruz, the herein defendant, also made the house her home on the invitation of Marta Dizon and
remained there notwithstanding the objections of the plaintiff.

Trouble immediately ensued, and the plaintiff asserts that the other persons living in the house were
insulted and annoyed to such an extent that they were compelled to leave. To prevent further
alleged depredations on the part of Marta and Cristina, the plaintiff placed padlocks on most of the
doors in the house, and on October 8, 1927, he obtained an order from the Court of First Instance
authorizing him to employ sheriffs or Constabulary men to aid him in maintaining order in the house.
Three days later, the court revoked said order but authorized the plaintiff to employ deputy sheriffs
at his own expense.

Thereafter, Marta Dizon died, but Cristina Cruz still insisted on living in the house, and the plaintiff
brought the present action against her for forcible entry and detainer. The justice of the peace
rendered judgment in favor of the defendant and absolved her from the complaint. Upon appeal to
the Court of First Instance, that court rendered a judgment ordering the defendant to vacate the
premises in question but absolving her from a claim presented by the plaintiff in the same case for
expenses incurred by him in employing a deputy sheriff. The total amount of the claim was
P2,116.71. Both of the parties appealed to this court, the plaintiff for the denial of his claim of the
expenses and the defendant for ordering her to vacate the house.

In our opinion, neither appeal is well taken. The plaintiff's employment of deputy sheriffs seems to
have been unnecessary, and we cannot hold that the court below erred in declining to allow him
compensation for the resulting expenses.

The defendant-appellant claims that she has inherited an interest in the house and is a tenant in
common with the heirs of Juan Dizon and that she therefore cannot be legally ejected from said
house. This contention cannot be successfully maintained. The plaintiff held possession of the house
before Marta Dizon and the defendant took possession. They acquired such possession by force
and against the will of the plaintiff, taking the law in their own hands. In these circumstances, the
defendant must suffer the consequences of her lawlessness whether she is a part owner of the
property or not. The fact that she was invited by Marta Dizon is immaterial; Marta had no greater
right than the defendant.
The appealed judgment is affirmed without costs. So ordered.

THIRD DIVISION

[G.R. No. 96740. March 25, 1999]

VIRGINIA P. SARMIENTO and APOLONIA P. CATIBAYAN, petitioners,


vs. COURT OF APPEALS and SIMON ARGUELLES, respondents.

DECISION
PURISIMA, J.:

At bar is a Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Revised Rules of Court,
seeking to set aside the Decision[1] dated October 26, 1989 and the Resolution[2] dated January 4,
1991, of the Court of Appeals[3] in CA G.R. CV NO. 11750, reversing the Decision[4], dated May
30, 1986, of Branch XV, Regional Trial Court, in Trece Martires City[5] in Civil Case No. NC -
75.
The antecedent facts that matter are as follows:
Virginia P. Sarmiento and Apolonia P. Catibayan, the petitioners herein, filed a complaint
for partition of a piece of land, more particularly described as Lot No. 926 of the Naic Estate,
G.L.R.O., Record No. 8340, in Naic, Cavite, with an area of 1, 779 square meters, covered by
TCT No. 21877 issued on September 1, 1941 to co-owners, Francisco Arguelles and Petrona
Reyes.
Petitioners are sisters, their parents being Tiburcio Pangilinan and Leogarda Arguelles, who
died in 1946. Leogarda was the daughter of Francisco Arguelles who died on February 18, 1949
and Emilia Pineli, who died on May 2, 1950. Private respondent Simon Arguelles is a half
brother of Leogarda, with Francisco Arguelles as their common father.
Petitioners claim that as granddaughters of Francisco Arguelles, they and private respondent
Simon Arguelles are co-owners of the 1/2 portion of Lot No. 926, as the only heirs of the late
Francisco Arguelles. But according to private respondent, petitioners are not the legal heirs of
Francisco Arguelles because their (petitioners) mother, Leogarda Arguelles, was allegedly an
illegitimate child of his father, Francisco Arguelles, and Emilia Pineli who were not
married. Under the old Civil Code, which should be applied since Francisco Arguelles died in
1949, before the effectivity of the New Civil Code, an illegitimate child did not have
successional rights.
After trial, the lower court came out with a decision ordering the parties herein to partition
among themselves subject portion of Lot No. 926; and disposing thus:

"In view of all the foregoing, plaintiffs Virginia P. Sarmiento and Apolonia P.
Catibayan and defendant Simon Arguelles are hereby ordered to partition among
themselves the one-half portion of lot No. 926 of the Naic Estate, located in Naic,
Cavite, covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. 21877, pertaining to the deceased
Francisco Arguelles.

The counterclaim, for lack of merit, is hereby dismissed.

No pronouncement is made as to costs.

SO ORDERED.[6]
Dissatisfied therewith, the private respondents went to the Court of Appeals on a Petition for
Review; theorizing that:

I. The Lower Court erred in holding that Francisco Arguelles and Emilia Pineli
were legally married and that Leogardo (sic) Arguelles was their legitimate
daughter.

II. The Lower Court erred in not holding that the cause of action of the plaintiffs-
appellees if any, had already prescribed.

III. The Lower Court erred in ordering the partition of the property involved in this case
among the plaintiffs-appellees and the defendant-appellant.[7]

On October 26, 1989, the Court of Appeals handed down its judgment, reversing the
decision of the Regional Trial Court of origin and disposing as follows:

WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby entered REVERSING the decision appealed from


and DISMISSING the complaint for judicial partition. Without pronouncement as to
costs.

SO ORDERED.[8]

With the denial of their Motion For Reconsideration on January 4, 1991, petitioners found
their way to this court via the present Petition; posing as issues:

I. WHETHER OR NOT A MAN AND A WOMAN WHO LIVED TOGETHER AS


HUSBAND AND WIFE ARE PRESUMED MARRIED; and

II. WHETHER THE BORN OUT OF SUCH MARRIAGE IS LEGITIMATE OR NOT.[9]

The pivotal issue for determination is: whether or not the petitioners offered sufficient
evidence to substantiate their submission that Francisco Arguelles and Emilia Pineli were legally
married.
Section 3 (aa) of Rule 131 of the Revised Rules of Court provides:

Section 3.Disputable presumptions. The following presumptions are satisfactory if


uncontradicted, but may be contradicted or overcome by other evidence:

xxxx

(aa) That a man and a woman deporting themselves as husbands and wife have
entered into a lawful contract of marriage;

xxxx
Guided by the aforecited provision of law, the trial court ratiocinated:

The fact that no marriage certificate of Francisco Arguelles and Emilia Pineli was
submitted in evidence does not lead to the conclusion that the said parties were not
legally married and that Leogarda was their illegitimate child. The defendant
admitted that his father and Emilia Pineli lived and cohabited together as husband
and wife, even staying in the same house where he was also residing. The presumption
is that A man and a woman deporting themselves as husband and wife have entered
into a lawful contract of marriage (sic) (Sec. 5 (bb), Rule 131, Rules of Court).[10] Every
intendment of law or facts leans toward the validity of marriage and the legitimacy of children
(Art. 220, Civil Code). In this case, no evidence adduced by defendant Arguelles to rebut this
presumption. Neither did he attempt to show that Francisco and Emilia could not validly marry
each other because of some legal impediments to their marriage.[11]

While it is true that Francisco Arguelles and Emilia Pineli cohabited as husband and wife,
private respondent Simon Arguelles testified that the said cohabitation was without the benefit of
marriage. In People vs. Borromeo[12], this Court held that persons living together in apparent
matrimony are presumed absent any counter presumption or evidence special to the case, to be in
fact married.[13]
In the case under consideration, the presumption of marriage, on which the trial court
premised its decision, has been sufficiently offset.[14] Records reveal that petitioners tried to
justify the non-presentation of the marriage certificate of Francisco and Emilia by submitting a
certification issued by Assistant Treasurer Lucila Lucero of Naic, Cavite, to the effect that:

the Marriage Certificate of Francisco Arguelles married to Emilia Pineli on the 18th day of
August, 1918 at Naic, Cavite, is no longer available due to destruction of the records during the
Japanese occupation, and as such no certified copy of Marriage could be issued to the parties
concerned,[15]

However, Assistant Treasurer Lucila Lucero admitted later[16] on the witness stand that she
signed the said certificate prepared by a certain Consuelo Pangilinan, without verifying its
correctness. In reality, the records of marriage of Naic are intact. The said records were brought
and examined before the trial court, and its pages 20 to 22 containing entries from July 3, 1917 to
May 1918 do not reflect the names of Francisco Arguelles and Emilia Pineli.
So also, the death certificate of Francisco Arguelles contained the word none opposite the
phrase surviving spouse, indicating that he died a widower on February 18, 1949. His deceased
wife was Petrona Reyes, the mother of private respondent.[17]
Then too, TCT No. 21877 covering Lot 926 as well as the reconstituted TCT No. 21877, Rt-
19055, show the status of Francisco Arguelles as widower.[18] On this point, the respondent court
said:

x x x Emilia would not have allowed Francisco Arguelles to place the property in his name alone
as widower if in fact they were legally married to each other. If there was a mistake in indicating
in the title Franciscos status as a widower, the same could have been easily cured by presenting
a petition for correction in the proper court. If it is true, as Tiburcio Pangilinan testified, that the
certificate of title was in the possession of Emilia Pineli and was given to him (Tiburcio) before
her death, there is no conceivable reason why Emilia never exerted any effort to correct the
mistake in the description of Franciscos status in the certificate of title as widower knowing that
she would not be able to transmit any part of the property to her heirs upon her death if the error
was not corrected. Her omission only serves to bolster the proposition that she had no right to
protect, in the first place, because she was not legally married to Francisco.[19]

Consequently, with the presumption of marriage sufficiently overcome, the onus


probandi of private respondent shifted to the petitioners. It then became the burden of the
petitioners, Virginia P. Sarmiento and Apolonia P. Catibayan, to prove that their deceased
grandparents, Francisco Arguelles and Emilia Pineli, were legally married.
In Trinidad vs. Court of Appeals, et al.[20], this Court ruled that as proof of marriage may be
presented: a) testimony of a witness to the matrimony; b) the couples public and open
cohabitation as husband and wife after the alleged wedlock; c) the birth and baptismal certificate
of children born during such union; and d) the mention of such nuptial in subsequent documents.
Pertinent records show that the petitioners failed to substantiate their theory that Francisco
Arguelles and Emilia Pineli were married. What is more, the available records of marriage
contradict the allegation that Francisco Arguelles and Emilia Pineli were legally married. But
petitioners, to whom the burden of proving the fact of marriage shifted, did not present anybody
who witnessed the marriage ceremony of Francisco Arguelles and Emilia Pineli. As aptly
reasoned out by the respondent court:

x x x Not one of the three witnesses for plaintiffs ever declared having observed that Francisco
and Emilia acted as husband and wife. Tiburcio Pangilinan testified mainly on the fact that he is
the father of the plaintiffs and husbands of the late Leogarda Arguelles who was the daughter of
Francisco Arguelles and Emilia Pineli. The rest of his testimony touched on the certifIcate of
tittle covering Lot 926 which Emilia allegedly delivered two weeks before she died but was later
on taken from him by defendant. Plaintiffs on their part did not testify that Francisco Arguelles
and Emilia Pineli lived together as husband and wife, which may be explained by the fact that
Virginia Sarmiento and Apolonia Catibayan were only 6 and 5 years old, respectively, when
Emilia Pineli died and were then too young to perceive the nature of whatever the relationship
existed Francisco and Emilia.[21]

Evidently, petitioners relied mainly on the legal presumption that Francisco Arguelles and
Emilia Pineli were married, without introducing any evidence to prove the mrriage theorized
upon.
In a belated attempt to establish the legitimacy of Leogarda Arguelles, petitioner have
theorized for the first time, in the present Petition, that the birth certificate[22] of Leogardo
Arguelles which they allegedly presented during the trial below, shows the legitimate status of
Leogarda Arguelles.[23] Concededly, such birth certificate may be used to show the alleged
marriage. But be that as it may, the totality of evidence for the private respondents preponderates
over petitioners. Preponderant evidence means that, as a whole, the evidence adduced by one
side outweighs that of the adverse party.[24] Compared with the evidence introduced by the
private respondent, petitioners rely heavily on the legal presumption of marriage which, as
earlier pointed out, has been effectively rebutted. We are concluded by the factual findings of the
Court of Appeals.
Premises studiedly considered, we are of the ineluctable conclusion, and so hold, that the
Court of Appeals erred not in reversing the decision of the Regional Trial Court a quo.
WHEREFORE, the Petition is DENIED and the assailed Decision, dated October 26, 1989,
and Resolution dated January 4, 1991, of the Court of Appeals AFFIRMED. No pronouncement
as to costs.
SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. L-1211 January 30, 1947

CHING HUAT, petitioner,


vs.
CO HEONG (alias CO HONG, CO YONG), respondent.

Vicente J. Francisco for petitioner.


Marcelino N. Sayo for respondent.

HILADO, J.:

Petitioner prays for the issuance of a writ of habeas corpus directing any lawful officer to take from
respondent and produce before this Court the person of Maria Ching alias Avelina Ching, allegedly
aged 15 years, and requiring the respondent to justify his right to the custody of said minor, and,
after hearing, to award said custody to petitioner.

It is alleged in the petition, verified by petitioner's oath, among other things, that the said minor is his
legitimate daughter; that up to June 21, 1946, said minor had been living with and had under the
custody of petitioner; that respondent, taking advantage of his confidential and spiritual relation with
Maria Ching as her godfather, persuaded and induced her by means of trick, promises and cajolery,
to leave the parental home and to elope with him in the night of June 21, 1946, to Plaridel, Bulacan,
where they were married on the following day before the Justice of the Peace of said municipality,
said Maria Ching being at the time 15 years old; and that ever since respondent has had the minor
Maria Ching under his custody in Malolos, Bulacan, and has restrained her at her liberty.

It is further alleged that respondent had been previously married in China to Gue Min, said marriage
being said to be subsisting at the time respondent married Maria Ching. Petitioner further avers that
Gue Min has never been declared an absentee nor generally considered as dead and believed to be
so by respondent at the time he married Maria Ching.

Respondent, in his answer, among other things, asserts that on June 21, 1946, he and Maria
Ching alias Avelina Ching were legally married before the Justice of the Peace of Plaridel, Bulacan.
He has attached to his answer a certificate (Appendix 1) of the Local Civil Registrar of Plaridel,
Bulacan, dated July 9, 1946, attesting the celebration of the marriage above mentioned between the
parties above named on June 21, 1946, and alleges that the essential requisites for such were
marriage complied with.

The question to be decided is whether petitioner still retains his right to the custody of his minor
daughter Maria Ching alias Avelina Ching.

The fact of the civil marriage between respondent and Maria Ching having been solemnized by the
Justice of the Peace of Plaridel, Bulacan, on June 21, 1946, is not disputed. Petitioner himself
alleges in his petition that respondent is of legal age, meaning 21 years or more old upon the date of
the petition, November 28, 1946. June 21, 1946, date of the marriage, was only 5 months and one
week earlier. Both man and woman were, therefore, of marriageable age under section 2 of Act No.
3613.

The alleged marriage of respondent to Gue Min in China has not been proven. There is no allegation
in the petition, much less is there evidence, to show that the said supposed marriage was performed
in accordance with the laws were of China inforce at the time of its supposed performance, nor even
what those laws were (Act No. 3613, section 19). The cited section of the existing Marriage Law
provides:

SEC. 19. Marriages performed abroad. — All marriages performed outside of the Philippine
Islands in accordance with the laws in force in the country where they were performed and
valid there as such, shall also be valid in these Islands.

This provision is substantially the same as that contained upon the same subject in the former
Philippine Marriage Law, General Orders No. 68, which is as follows:

SEC. IV. All marriages contracted without these Islands, which would be valid by the laws of
the country in which the same were contracted, are valid in these Islands.

In the case of Adong vs. Cheong Seng Gee (43 Phil., 43, 49), this Court held, after quoting the
aforesaid provision of the former Marriage Law:

. . . To establish a valid foreign marriage pursuant to this comity provision, it is first necessary
to prove before the courts of the Islands the existence of the foreign law as a question of
fact, and it is then necessary to prove the alleged foreign marriage by convincing evidence.

In the same case of Adong vs. Cheong Seng Gee, this Court said (p. 50):

In the case at bar there is no competent testimony as to what the laws of China in the
Province of Amoy concerning marriage were in 1895. As in the Encarnacion case (Sy Joc
Lieng vs. Encarnacion, 16 Phil., 137; 228 U.S., 335), there is lacking proof so clear, strong
and unequivocal as to produce a moral conviction of the existence of the alleged prior
Chinese marriage. . . .

Again in that case the United States Supreme Court (228 U.S., 335, 338-339) held:

In these circumstances every presumption was in favor of the validity and good faith of the
Philippine marriage, and sound reason required that it be not impugned and discredited
through the alleged prior marriage save upon proof so clear, strong and unequivocal as to
produce a moral conviction of the existence of that impediment. . . .
On the other hand, the Philippine marriage between said respondent and Maria Ching before the
Justice of the Peace of Plaridel, Bulacan, is undisputed. It is also beyond question that marriage was
contracted by a man much over 16 years old with a girl 15 years old (Act No. 3613, section 2),
neither of whom was included in any of the exceptions mentioned in section 28 of the same Act; nor
in those stated in section 29 thereof for the reason that the alleged prior Chinese marriage has not
been established.

If the supposed prior Chinese marriage had been sufficiently proven, then in order that the
subsequent Philippine marriage could be valid, it would have been necessary either (a) that the
Chinese marriage should have been previously annulled or dissolved: or (b) that the first wife of
respondent should have been absent for 7 consecutive years at the time of the second marriage
without the respondent having news of the absentee being alive; or (c) that the absentee should
have been generally considered as dead and believed to be so by respondent at the time of
contracting the subsequent marriage, in either of which last two cases the subsequent marriage will
be valid until declared null and void by a competent court, while in the first it will be valid without this
limitation. (Act No. 3613, section 29 [a] and [b]; section 30 [b].) But as already adverted to, the
complete absence of proof of the supposed former Chinese marriage makes sections 29 and 30 of
the Marriage Law inapplicable.

Maria Ching having been validly married on June 21, 1946, she became emancipated on that same
date (arts. 314 [1] and 315, Civil Code). This emancipation brought about the loss by the father of
the parental authority that he claims. On the other hand, by article 48 of Chapter V of the Spanish
Marriage Law of 1870, whose articles 44 to 78 were, and are now partly, in force in the Philippines
(Benedicto vs. De la Rama, 3 Phil., 34), the wife has the duty, among others, of living in her
husband's company and of following him to wherever he transfer his domicile or residence. (Yañez
de Barbuevo vs. Fuster, 29 Phil., 606, 612.)

For all the foregoing considerations, we are of opinion that the petition should be, as it is hereby,
dismissed, with costs to petitioner. So ordered.

G.R. No. 141528 October 31, 2006

OSCAR P. MALLION, petitioner,


vs.
EDITHA ALCANTARA, respondent.

DECISION

AZCUNA, J.:

This is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court raising a question of
law: Does a previous final judgment denying a petition for declaration of nullity on the ground of
psychological incapacity bar a subsequent petition for declaration of nullity on the ground of lack of
marriage license?

The facts are not disputed:

On October 24, 1995, petitioner Oscar P. Mallion filed a petition1 with the Regional Trial Court (RTC),
Branch 29, of San Pablo City seeking a declaration of nullity of his marriage to respondent Editha
Alcantara under Article 36 of Executive Order No. 209, as amended, otherwise known as the Family
Code, citing respondent’s alleged psychological incapacity. The case was docketed as Civil Case
No. SP 4341-95. After trial on the merits, the RTC denied the petition in a decision2 dated November
11, 1997 upon the finding that petitioner "failed to adduce preponderant evidence to warrant the
grant of the relief he is seeking."3 The appeal filed with the Court of Appeals was likewise dismissed
in a resolution4 dated June 11, 1998 for failure of petitioner to pay the docket and other lawful fees
within the reglementary period.
After the decision in Civil Case No. SP 4341-95 attained finality, petitioner filed on July 12, 1999
another petition5 for declaration of nullity of marriage with the RTC of San Pablo City, this time
alleging that his marriage with respondent was null and void due to the fact that it was celebrated
without a valid marriage license. For her part, respondent filed an answer with a motion to
dismiss6 dated August 13, 1999, praying for the dismissal of the petition on the ground of res
judicata and forum shopping.

In an order7 dated October 8, 1999, the RTC granted respondent’s motion to dismiss, the dispositive
portion of which reads:

WHEREFORE, for Forum Shopping and Multiplicity of Suits, the Motion to Dismiss is
GRANTED. This case is DISMISSED.

SO ORDERED.8

Petitioner’s motion for reconsideration was also denied in an order9 dated January 21, 2000.

Hence, this petition which alleges, as follows:

A. IN DISMISSING PETITIONER’S PETITION FOR THE DECLARATION OF HIS


MARRIAGE AS NULL AND VOID AB INITIO FOR LACK OF THE REQUISITE MARRIAGE
LICENSE BECAUSE OF (THE) DISMISSAL OF AN EARLIER PETITION FOR
DECLARATION OF NULLITY OF THE SAME MARRIAGE ON THE GROUND OF HIS
WIFE’S PSYCHOLOGICAL INCAPACITY UNDER ARTICLE 36 OF THE FAMILY CODE,
THE TRIAL COURT HAD DECIDED A QUESTION OF SUBSTANCE WHICH HAS
PROBABLY NOT HERETOFORE BEEN DETERMINED SQUARELY AND DEFINITIVELY
BY THIS COURT, OR HAD DECIDED IT IN A WAY NOT IN ACCORD WITH LAW.

B. IN DISMISSING PETITIONER’S PETITION FOR THE DECLARATION OF NULLITY OF


HIS MARRIAGE FOR LACK OF THE REQUISITE MARRIAGE LICENSE, THE TRIAL
COURT HAD CONFUSED, DISTORTED AND MISAPPLIED THE FUNDAMENTAL RULES
AND CONCEPTS ON RES JUDICATA, SPLITTING OF A CAUSE OF ACTION AND
FORUM SHOPPING.10

Petitioner argues that while the relief prayed for in the two cases was the same, that is, the
declaration of nullity of his marriage to respondent, the cause of action in the earlier case was
distinct and separate from the cause of action in the present case because the operative facts upon
which they were based as well as the evidence required to sustain either were different. Because
there is no identity as to the cause of action, petitioner claims that res judicata does not lie to bar the
second petition. In this connection, petitioner maintains that there was no violation of the rule on
forum shopping or of the rule which proscribes the splitting of a cause of action.

On the other hand, respondent, in her comment dated May 26, 2000, counters that while the present
suit is anchored on a different ground, it still involves the same issue raised in Civil Case No. SP
4341-95, that is, the validity of petitioner and respondent’s marriage, and prays for the same remedy,
that is, the declaration of nullity of their marriage. Respondent thus contends that petitioner violated
the rule on forum shopping. Moreover, respondent asserts that petitioner violated the rule on
multiplicity of suits as the ground he cites in this petition could have been raised during the trial in
Civil Case No. SP 4341-95.

The petition lacks merit.

The issue before this Court is one of first impression. Should the matter of the invalidity of a marriage
due to the absence of an essential requisite prescribed by Article 4 of the Family Code be raised in
the same proceeding where the marriage is being impugned on the ground of a party’s psychological
incapacity under Article 36 of the Family Code?

Petitioner insists that because the action for declaration of nullity of marriage on the ground of
psychological incapacity and the action for declaration of nullity of marriage on the ground of
absence of marriage license constitute separate causes of action, the present case would not fall
under the prohibition against splitting a single cause of action nor would it be barred by the principle
of res judicata.
The contention is untenable.

Res judicata is defined as "a matter adjudged; a thing judicially acted upon or decided; a thing or
matter settled by judgment. It also refers to the rule that a final judgment or decree on the merits by a
court of competent jurisdiction is conclusive of the rights of the parties or their privies in all later suits
on points and matters determined in the former suit."11

This doctrine is a rule which pervades every well-regulated system of jurisprudence and is founded
upon the following precepts of common law, namely: (1) public policy and necessity, which makes it
to the interest of the State that there should be an end to litigation, and (2) the hardship on the
individual that he should be vexed twice for the same cause. A contrary doctrine would subject the
public peace and quiet to the will and neglect of individuals and prefer the gratification of the litigious
disposition on the part of suitors to the preservation of the public tranquility and happiness.12

In this jurisdiction, the concept of res judicata is embodied in Section 47 (b) and (c) of Rule 39 of the
Rules of Court, thus:

SEC. 47.Effect of judgments or final orders. — The effect of a judgment or final order
rendered by a court of the Philippines, having jurisdiction to pronounce the judgment or final
order, may be as follows:

(a) In case of a judgment or final order against a specific thing or in respect to the probate of
a will, or the administration of the estate of a deceased person, or in respect to the personal,
political, or legal condition or status of a particular person or his relationship to another, the
judgment or final order is conclusive upon the title to the thing, the will or administration, or
the condition, status or relationship of the person; however, the probate of a will or granting
of letters of administration shall only be prima facie evidence of the death of the testator or
intestate;

(b) In other cases, the judgment or final order is, with respect to the matter directly
adjudged or as to any other matter that could have been raised in relation thereto,
conclusive between the parties and their successors in interest by title subsequent to
the commencement of the action or special proceeding, litigating for the same thing
and under the same title and in the same capacity; and,

(c) In any other litigation between the same parties or their successors in interest, that
only is deemed to have been adjudged in a former judgment or final order which
appears upon its face to have been so adjudged, or which was actually and
necessarily included therein or necessary thereto.

The above provision outlines the dual aspect of res judicata.13 Section 47 (b) pertains to it in its
concept as "bar by prior judgment" or "estoppel by verdict," which is the effect of a judgment as a bar
to the prosecution of a second action upon the same claim, demand or cause of action. On the
other hand, Section 47 (c) pertains to res judicata in its concept as "conclusiveness of judgment" or
otherwise known as the rule of auter action pendant which ordains that issues actually and directly
resolved in a former suit cannot again be raised in any future case between the same parties
involving a different cause of action.14 Res judicata in its concept as a bar by prior judgment
obtains in the present case.

Res judicata in this sense requires the concurrence of the following requisites: (1) the former
judgment is final; (2) it is rendered by a court having jurisdiction over the subject matter and the
parties; (3) it is a judgment or an order onthe merits; and (4) there is -- between the first and the
second actions -- identity of parties, of subject matter, and of causes of action.15

Petitioner does not dispute the existence of the first three requisites. What is in issue is the presence
of the fourth requisite. In this regard, the test to determine whether the causes of action are identical
is to ascertain whether the same evidence will sustain both actions, or whether there is an identity in
the facts essential to the maintenance of the two actions. If the same facts or evidence would sustain
both, the two actions are considered the same, and a judgment in the first case is a bar to the
subsequent action.16

Based on this test, petitioner would contend that the two petitions brought by him seeking the
declaration of nullity of his marriage are anchored on separate causes of action for the evidence
necessary to sustain the first petition which was anchored on the alleged psychological incapacity of
respondent is different from the evidence necessary to sustain the present petition which is
anchored on the purported absence of a marriage license.

Petitioner, however, forgets that he is simply invoking different grounds for the same cause of action.
By definition, a cause of action is the act or omission by which a party violates the right of
another.17 In both petitions, petitioner has the same cause - the declaration of nullity of his marriage
to respondent. What differs is the ground upon which the cause of action is predicated. These
grounds cited by petitioner essentially split the various aspects of the pivotal issue that holds the key
to the resolution of this controversy, that is, the actual status of petitioner and respondent’s marriage.

Furthermore, the instant case is premised on the claim that the marriage is null and void because no
valid celebration of the same took place due to the alleged lack of a marriage license. In Civil Case
No. SP 4341-95, however, petitioner impliedly conceded that the marriage had been solemnized and
celebrated in accordance with law. Petitioner is now bound by this admission. The alleged absence
of a marriage license which petitioner raises now could have been presented and heard in the earlier
case. Suffice it to state that parties are bound not only as regards every matter offered and received
to sustain or defeat their claims or demand but as to any other admissible matter which might have
been offered for that purpose and of all other matters that could have been adjudged in that case.18

It must be emphasized that a party cannot evade or avoid the application of res judicata by simply
varying the form of his action or adopting a different method of presenting his case. 19 As this Court
stated in Perez v. Court of Appeals:20

x x x the statement of a different form of liability is not a different cause of action, provided it
grows out of the same transaction or act and seeks redress for the wrong. Two actions are
not necessarily for different causes of action simply because the theory of the second would
not have been open under the pleadings in the first. A party cannot preserve the right to
bring a second action after the loss of the first merely by having circumscribed and limited
theories of recovery opened by the pleadings in the first.

It bears stressing that a party cannot divide the grounds for recovery. A plaintiff is
mandated to place in issue in his pleading, all the issues existing when the suit began.
A lawsuit cannot be tried piecemeal. The plaintiff is bound to set forth in his first
action every ground for relief which he claims to exist and upon which he relied, and
cannot be permitted to rely upon them by piecemeal in successive action to recover
for the same wrong or injury.

A party seeking to enforce a claim, legal or equitable, must present to the court, either
by the pleadings or proofs, or both, on the grounds upon which to expect a judgment
in his favor. He is not at liberty to split up his demands, and prosecute it by piecemeal
or present only a portion of the grounds upon which a special relief is sought and
leave the rest to the presentment in a second suit if the first fails. There would be no
end to litigation if such piecemeal presentation is allowed. (Citations omitted.)

In sum, litigants are provided with the options on the course of action to take in order to obtain
judicial relief. Once an option has been taken and a case is filed in court, the parties must ventilate
all matters and relevant issues therein. The losing party who files another action regarding the same
controversy will be needlessly squandering time, effort and financial resources because he is barred
by law from litigating the same controversy all over again.21

Therefore, having expressly and impliedly conceded the validity of their marriage celebration,
petitioner is now deemed to have waived any defects therein. For this reason, the Court finds that
the present action for declaration of nullity of marriage on the ground of lack of marriage license is
barred by the decision dated November 11, 1997 of the RTC, Branch 29, of San Pablo City, in Civil
Case No. SP 4341-95.

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED for lack of merit. Costs against petitioner.

SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 183053 October 10, 2012


EMILIO A.M. SUNTAY III, Petitioner,
vs.
ISABEL COJUANGCO-SUNTAY, Respondent.

RESOLUTION

PEREZ, J.:

The now overly prolonged, all-too familiar and too-much-stretched imbroglio over the estate of
Cristina Aguinaldo-Suntay has continued. We issued a Decision in the dispute as in Inter
Caetera.1 We now find a need to replace the decision.

Before us is a Motion for Reconsideration filed by respondent Isabel Cojuangco-Suntay (respondent


Isabel) of our Decision2 in G.R. No. 183053 dated 16 June 2010, directing the issuance of joint letters
of administration to both petitioner Emilio A.M. Suntay III (Emilio III) and respondent. The dispositive
portion thereof reads:

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No.
74949 is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Letters of Administration over the estate of decedent Cristina
Aguinaldo-Suntay shall issue to both petitioner Emilio A.M. Suntay III and respondent Isabel
Cojuangco-Suntay upon payment by each of a bond to be set by the Regional Trial Court, Branch
78, Malolos, Bulacan, in Special Proceeding Case No. 117-M-95. The Regional Trial Court, Branch
78, Malolos, Bulacan is likewise directed to make a determination and to declare the heirs of
decedent Cristina Aguinaldo-Suntay according to the actual factual milieu as proven by the parties,
and all other persons with legal interest in the subject estate. It is further directed to settle the estate
of decedent Cristina Aguinaldo-Suntay with dispatch. No costs.3

We are moved to trace to its roots the controversy between the parties.

The decedent Cristina Aguinaldo-Suntay (Cristina) died intestate on 4 June 1990. Cristina was
survived by her spouse, Dr. Federico Suntay (Federico) and five grandchildren: three legitimate
grandchildren, including herein respondent, Isabel; and two illegitimate grandchildren, including
petitioner Emilio III, all by Federico’s and Cristina’s only child, Emilio A. Suntay (Emilio I), who
predeceased his parents.

The illegitimate grandchildren, Emilio III and Nenita, were both reared from infancy by the spouses
Federico and Cristina. Their legitimate grandchildren, Isabel and her siblings, Margarita and Emilio II,
lived with their mother Isabel Cojuangco, following the separation of Isabel’s parents, Emilio I and
Isabel Cojuangco. Isabel’s parents, along with her paternal grandparents, were involved in domestic
relations cases, including a case for parricide filed by Isabel Cojuangco against Emilio I. Emilio I was
eventually acquitted.

In retaliation, Emilio I filed a complaint for legal separation against his wife, charging her among
others with infidelity. The trial court declared as null and void and of no effect the marriage of Emilio I
and Isabel Cojuangco on the finding that:

From February 1965 thru December 1965 plaintiff was confined in the Veterans memorial Hospital.
Although at the time of the trial of parricide case (September 8, 1967) the patient was already out of
the hospital, he continued to be under observation and treatment.

It is the opinion of Dr. Aramil that the symptoms of the plaintiffs mental aberration classified as
schizophernia (sic) had made themselves manifest even as early as 1955; that the disease
worsened with time, until 1965 when he was actually placed under expert neuro-psychiatrist (sic)
treatment; that even if the subject has shown marked progress, the remains bereft of adequate
understanding of right and wrong.

There is no controversy that the marriage between the parties was effected on July 9, 1958, years
after plaintiffs mental illness had set in. This fact would justify a declaration of nullity of the marriage
under Article 85 of the Civil Code which provides:

Art. 95. (sic) A marriage may be annulled for any of the following causes after (sic) existing at the
time of the marriage:
xxxx

(3) That either party was of unsound mind, unless such party, after coming to reason, freely
cohabited with the other as husband or wife.

There is a dearth of proof at the time of the marriage defendant knew about the mental condition of
plaintiff; and there is proof that plaintiff continues to be without sound reason. The charges in this
very complaint add emphasis to the findings of the neuro-psychiatrist handling the patient, that
plaintiff really lives more in fancy than in reality, a strong indication of schizophernia (sic).4

Intent on maintaining a relationship with their grandchildren, Federico and Isabel filed a complaint for
visitation rights to spend time with Margarita, Emilio II, and Isabel in the same special lower court.
The Juvenile Domestic Relations Court in Quezon City (JDRC-QC) granted their prayer for one hour
a month of visitation rights which was subsequently reduced to thirty minutes, and ultimately
stopped, because of respondent Isabel’s testimony in court that her grandparents’ visits caused her
and her siblings stress and anxiety.5

On 27 September 1993, more than three years after Cristina’s death, Federico adopted his
illegitimate grandchildren, Emilio III and Nenita.

On 26 October 1995, respondent Isabel, filed before the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Malolos,
Bulacan, a petition for the issuance of letters of administration over Cristina’s estate docketed as
Special Proceeding Case No. 117-M-95. Federico, opposed the petition, pointing out that: (1) as the
surviving spouse of the decedent, he should be appointed administrator of the decedent’s estate; (2)
as part owner of the mass of conjugal properties left by the decedent, he must be accorded
preference in the administration thereof; (3) Isabel and her siblings had been alienated from their
grandparents for more than thirty (30) years; (4) the enumeration of heirs in the petition was
incomplete as it did not mention the other children of his son, Emilio III and Nenita; (5) even before
the death of his wife, Federico had administered their conjugal properties, and thus, is better situated
to protect the integrity of the decedent’s estate; (6) the probable value of the estate as stated in the
petition was grossly overstated; and (7) Isabel’s allegation that some of the properties are in the
hands of usurpers is untrue.

Federico filed a Motion to Dismiss Isabel’s petition for letters of administration on the ground that
Isabel had no right of representation to the estate of Cristina, she being an illegitimate grandchild of
the latter as a result of Isabel’s parents’ marriage being declared null and void. However, in Suntay
v. Cojuangco-Suntay, we categorically declared that Isabel and her siblings, having been born of a
voidable marriage as opposed to a void marriage based on paragraph 3, Article 85 of the Civil Code,
were legitimate children of Emilio I, who can all represent him in the estate of their legitimate
grandmother, the decedent, Cristina.

Undaunted by the set back, Federico nominated Emilio III to administer the decedent’s estate on his
behalf in the event letters of administration issues to Federico. Consequently, Emilio III filed an
Opposition-In-Intervention, echoing the allegations in his grandfather’s opposition, alleging that
Federico, or in his stead, Emilio III, was better equipped than respondent to administer and manage
the estate of the decedent, Cristina.

On 13 November 2000, Federico died.

Almost a year thereafter or on 9 November 2001, the trial court rendered a decision appointing
Emilio III as administrator of decedent Cristina’s intestate estate:

WHEREFORE, the petition of Isabel Cojuangco-Suntay is DENIED and the Opposition-in-


Intervention is GRANTED.

Accordingly, the Intervenor, Emilio A.M. Suntay, III (sic) is hereby appointed administrator of the
estate of the decedent Cristina Aguinaldo Suntay, who shall enter upon the execution of his trust
upon the filing of a bond in the amount of ₱ 200,000.00, conditioned as follows:

(1) To make and return within three (3) months, a true and complete inventory;

(2) To administer the estate and to pay and discharge all debts, legatees, and charge on the same,
or dividends thereon;
(3) To render a true and just account within one (1) year, and at any other time when required by the
court, and

(4) To perform all orders of the Court.

Once the said bond is approved by the court, let Letters of Administration be issued in his favor.6

On appeal, the Court of Appeals reversed and set aside the decision of the RTC, revoked the Letters
of Administration issued to Emilio III, and appointed respondent as administratrix of the subject
estate:

WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing, the assailed decision dated November 9, 2001 of Branch
78, Regional Trial Court of Malolos, Bulacan in SPC No. 117-M-95 is REVERSED and SET ASIDE
and the letters of administration issued by the said court to Emilio A.M. Suntay III, if any, are
consequently revoked. Petitioner Isabel Cojuangco-Suntay is hereby appointed administratrix of the
intestate estate of Cristina Aguinaldo Suntay. Let letters of administration be issued in her favor
upon her filing of a bond in the amount of Two Hundred Thousand (₱ 200,000.00) Pesos.7

As previously adverted to, on appeal by certiorari, we reversed and set aside the ruling of the
appellate court. We decided to include Emilio III as co-administrator of Cristina’s estate, giving
weight to his interest in Federico’s estate. In ruling for co-administration between Emilio III and

Isabel, we considered that:

1. Emilio III was reared from infancy by the decedent, Cristina, and her husband, Federico,
who both acknowledged him as their grandchild;

2. Federico claimed half of the properties included in the estate of the decedent, Cristina, as
forming part of their conjugal partnership of gains during the subsistence of their marriage;

3. Cristina’s properties, forming part of her estate, are still commingled with those of her
husband, Federico, because her share in the conjugal partnership remains undetermined
and unliquidated; and

4. Emilio III is a legally adopted child of Federico, entitled to share in the distribution of the
latter’s estate as a direct heir, one degree from Federico, and not simply in representation of
his deceased illegitimate father, Emilio I.

In this motion, Isabel pleads for total affirmance of the Court of Appeals’ Decision in favor of her sole
administratorship based on her status as a legitimate grandchild of Cristina, whose estate she seeks
to administer.

Isabel contends that the explicit provisions of Section 6, Rule 78 of the Rules of Court on the order of
preference for the issuance of letters of administration cannot be ignored and that Article 992 of the
Civil Code must be followed. Isabel further asserts that Emilio III had demonstrated adverse interests
and disloyalty to the estate, thus, he does not deserve to become a co-administrator thereof.

Specifically, Isabel bewails that: (1) Emilio III is an illegitimate grandchild and therefore, not an heir of
the decedent; (2) corollary thereto, Emilio III, not being a "next of kin" of the decedent, has no
interest in the estate to justify his appointment as administrator thereof; (3) Emilio III’s actuations
since his appointment as administrator by the RTC on 9 November 2001 emphatically demonstrate
the validity and wisdom of the order of preference in Section 6, Rule 78 of the Rules of Court; and (4)
there is no basis for joint administration as there are no "opposing parties or factions to be
represented."

To begin with, the case at bar reached us on the issue of who, as between Emilio III and Isabel, is
better qualified to act as administrator of the decedent’s estate. We did not choose. Considering
merely his demonstrable interest in the subject estate, we ruled that Emilio III should likewise
administer the estate of his illegitimate grandmother, Cristina, as a co-administrator. In the context of
this case, we have to make a choice and therefore, reconsider our decision of 16 June 2010.

The general rule in the appointment of administrator of the estate of a decedent is laid down in
Section 6, Rule 78 of the Rules of Court:
SEC. 6. When and to whom letters of administration granted. – If no executor is named in the will, or
the executor or executors are incompetent, refuse the trust, or fail to give bond, or a person dies
intestate, administration shall be granted:

(a) To the surviving husband or wife, as the case may be, or next of kin, or both, in the discretion of
the court, or to such person as such surviving husband or wife, or next of kin, requests to have
appointed, if competent and willing to serve;

(b) If such surviving husband or wife, as the case may be, or next of kin, or the person selected by
them, be incompetent or unwilling, or if the husband or widow, or next of kin, neglects for thirty (30)
days after the death of the person to apply for administration or to request that administration be
granted to some other person, it may be granted to one or more of the principal creditors, if
competent and willing to serve;

(c) If there is not such creditor competent and willing to serve, it may be granted to such other
person as the court may select.

Textually, the rule lists a sequence to be observed, an order of preference, in the appointment of an
administrator. This order of preference, which categorically seeks out the surviving spouse, the next
of kin and the creditors in the appointment of an administrator, has been reinforced in jurisprudence.8

The paramount consideration in the appointment of an administrator over the estate of a decedent is
the prospective administrator’s interest in the estate.9 This is the same consideration which Section 6,
Rule 78 takes into account in establishing the order of preference in the appointment of administrator
for the estate. The rationale behind the rule is that those who will reap the benefit of a wise, speedy
and economical administration of the estate, or, in the alternative, suffer the consequences of waste,
improvidence or mismanagement, have the highest interest and most influential motive to administer
the estate correctly.10 In all, given that the rule speaks of an order of preference, the person to be
appointed administrator of a decedent’s estate must demonstrate not only an interest in the estate,
but an interest therein greater than any other candidate.

To illustrate, the preference bestowed by law to the surviving spouse in the administration of a
decedent’s estate presupposes the surviving spouse’s interest in the conjugal partnership or
community property forming part of the decedent’s estate.11 Likewise, a surviving spouse is a
compulsory heir of a decedent12 which evinces as much, if not more, interest in administering the
entire estate of a decedent, aside from her share in the conjugal partnership or absolute community
property.

It is to this requirement of observation of the order of preference in the appointment of administrator


of a decedent’s estate, that the appointment of co-administrators has been allowed, but as an
exception. We again refer to Section 6(a) of Rule 78 of the Rules of Court which specifically states
that letters of administration may be issued to both the surviving spouse and the next of kin. In
addition and impliedly, we can refer to Section 2 of Rule 82 of the Rules of Court which say that "x x
x when an executor or administrator dies, resigns, or is removed, the remaining executor or
administrator may administer the trust alone, x x x."

In a number of cases, we have sanctioned the appointment of more than one administrator for the
benefit of the estate and those interested therein.13 We recognized that the appointment of
administrator of the estate of a decedent or the determination of a person’s suitability for the office of
judicial administrator rests, to a great extent, in the sound judgment of the court exercising the power
of appointment.14

Under certain circumstances and for various reasons well-settled in Philippine and American
jurisprudence, we have upheld the appointment of co-administrators: (1) to have the benefits of their
judgment and perhaps at all times to have different interests represented;15 (2) where justice and
equity demand that opposing parties or factions be represented in the management of the estate of
the deceased; (3) where the estate is large or, from any cause, an intricate and perplexing one to
settle;16 (4) to have all interested persons satisfied and the representatives to work in harmony for the
best interests of the estate;17 and when a person entitled to the administration of an estate desires to
have another competent person associated with him in the office.18

In the frequently cited Matias v. Gonzales, we dwelt on the appointment of special co-administrators
during the pendency of the appeal for the probate of the decedent’s will. Pending the probate
thereof, we recognized Matias’ special interest in the decedent’s estate as universal heir and
executrix designated in the instrument who should not be excluded in the administration thereof.
Thus, we held that justice and equity demands that the two (2) factions among the non-compulsory
heirs of the decedent, consisting of an instituted heir (Matias) and intestate heirs (respondents
thereat), should be represented in the management of the decedent’s estate.19

Another oft-cited case is Vda. de Dayrit v. Ramolete, where we held that "inasmuch as petitioner-
wife owns one-half of the conjugal properties and that she, too, is a compulsory heir of her husband,
to deprive her of any hand in the administration of the estate prior to the probate of the will would be
unfair to her proprietary interests."20

Hewing closely to the aforementioned cases is our ruling in Ventura v. Ventura21 where we allowed
the appointment of the surviving spouse and legitimate children of the decedent as co-
administrators. However, we drew a distinction between the heirs categorized as next of kin, the
nearest of kin in the category being preferred, thus:

In the case at bar, the surviving spouse of the deceased Gregorio Ventura is Juana Cardona while
the next of kin are: Mercedes and Gregoria Ventura and Maria and Miguel Ventura. The "next of kin"
has been defined as those persons who are entitled under the statute of distribution to the
decedent’s property (citations omitted). It is generally said that "the nearest of kin, whose interest in
the estate is more preponderant, is preferred in the choice of administrator. ‘Among members of a
class the strongest ground for preference is the amount or preponderance of interest. As between
next of kin, the nearest of kin is to be preferred.’" (citations omitted)

As decided by the lower court and sustained by the Supreme Court, Mercedes and Gregoria Ventura
are the legitimate children of Gregorio Ventura and his wife, the late Paulina Simpliciano. Therefore,
as the nearest of kin of Gregorio Ventura, they are entitled to preference over the illegitimate children
of Gregorio Ventura, namely: Maria and Miguel Ventura. Hence, under the aforestated preference
provided in Section 6 of Rule 78, the person or persons to be appointed administrator are Juana
Cardona, as the surviving spouse, or Mercedes and Gregoria Ventura as nearest of kin, or Juana
Cardona and Mercedes and Gregoria Ventura in the discretion of the Court, in order to represent
both interests.22 (Emphasis supplied)

In Silverio, Sr. v. Court of Appeals,23 we maintained that the order of preference in the appointment of
an administrator depends on the attendant facts and circumstances. In that case, we affirmed the
legitimate child’s appointment as special administrator, and eventually as regular administrator, of
the decedent’s estate as against the surviving spouse who the lower court found unsuitable.
Reiterating Sioca v. Garcia24 as good law, we pointed out that unsuitableness for appointment as
administrator may consist in adverse interest of some kind or hostility to those immediately
interested in the estate.

In Valarao v. Pascual,25 we see another story with a running theme of heirs squabbling over the
estate of a decedent. We found no reason to set aside the probate court’s refusal to appoint as
special co-administrator Diaz, even if he had a demonstrable interest in the estate of the decedent
and represented one of the factions of heirs, because the evidence weighed by the probate court
pointed to Diaz’s being remiss in his previous duty as co-administrator of the estatein the early part
of his administration. Surveying the previously discussed cases of Matias, Corona, and Vda.de
Dayrit, we clarified, thus:

Respondents cannot take comfort in the cases of Matias v. Gonzales, Corona v. Court of Appeals,
and Vda. de Dayrit v. Ramolete, cited in the assailed Decision. Contrary to their claim, these cases
do not establish an absolute right demandable from the probate court to appoint special co-
administrators who would represent the respective interests of squabbling heirs. Rather, the cases
constitute precedents for the authority of the probate court to designate not just one but also two or
more special co-administrators for a single estate. Now whether the probate court exercises such
prerogative when the heirs are fighting among themselves is a matter left entirely to its sound
discretion.

Furthermore, the cases of Matias, Corona and Vda.de Dayrit hinge upon factual circumstances other
than the incompatible interests of the heirs which are glaringly absent from the instant case. In
Matias this Court ordered the appointment of a special co-administrator because of the applicant's
status as the universal heir and executrix designated in the will, which we considered to be a
"special interest" deserving protection during the pendency of the appeal. Quite significantly, since
the lower court in Matias had already deemed it best to appoint more than one special administrator,
we found grave abuse of discretion in the act of the lower court in ignoring the applicant's distinctive
status in the selection of another special administrator.

In Corona we gave "highest consideration" to the "executrix's choice of Special Administrator,


considering her own inability to serve and the wide latitude of discretion given her by the testatrix in
her will," for this Court to compel her appointment as special co-administrator. It is also manifest
from the decision in Corona that the presence of conflicting interests among the heirs therein was
not per se the key factor in the designation of a second special administrator as this fact was taken
into account only to disregard or, in the words of Corona, to "overshadow" the objections to the
appointment on grounds of "impracticality and lack of kinship."

Finally in Vda. de Dayrit we justified the designation of the wife of the decedent as special co-
administrator because it was "our considered opinion that inasmuch as petitioner-wife owns one-half
of the conjugal properties and that she, too, is a compulsory heir of her husband, to deprive her of
any hand in the administration of the estate prior to the probate of the will would be unfair to her
proprietary interests." The special status of a surviving spouse in the special administration of an
estate was also emphasized in Fule v. Court of Appeals where we held that the widow would have
more interest than any other next of kin in the proper administration of the entire estate since she
possesses not only the right of succession over a portion of the exclusive property of the decedent
but also a share in the conjugal partnership for which the good or bad administration of the estate
may affect not just the fruits but more critically the naked ownership thereof. And in Gabriel v. Court
of Appeals we recognized the distinctive status of a surviving spouse applying as regular
administrator of the deceased spouse's estate when we counseled the probate court that "there must
be a very strong case to justify the exclusion of the widow from the administration."

Clearly, the selection of a special co-administrator in Matias, Corona and Vda.de Dayrit was based
upon the independent proprietary interests and moral circumstances of the appointee that were not
necessarily related to the demand for representation being repeatedly urged by
respondents.26(Emphasis supplied)

In Gabriel v. Court of Appeals, we unequivocally declared the mandatory character of the rule on the
order of preference for the issuance of letters of administration:

Evidently, the foregoing provision of the Rules prescribes the order of preference in the issuance of
letters of administration, it categorically seeks out the surviving spouse, the next of kin and the
creditors, and requires that sequence to be observed in appointing an administrator. It would be a
grave abuse of discretion for the probate court to imperiously set aside and insouciantly ignore that
directive without any valid and sufficient reason therefor.27

Subsequently, in Angeles v. Angeles-Maglaya,28 we expounded on the legal contemplation of a "next


of kin," thus:

Finally, it should be noted that on the matter of appointment of administrator of the estate of the
deceased, the surviving spouse is preferred over the next of kin of the decedent. When the law
speaks of "next of kin," the reference is to those who are entitled, under the statute of distribution, to
the decedent's property; one whose relationship is such that he is entitled to share in the estate as
distributed, or, in short, an heir. In resolving, therefore, the issue of whether an applicant for letters of
administration is a next of kin or an heir of the decedent, the probate court perforce has to determine
and pass upon the issue of filiation. A separate action will only result in a multiplicity of suits. Upon
this consideration, the trial court acted within bounds when it looked into and passed upon the
claimed relationship of respondent to the late Francisco Angeles.29

Finally, in Uy v. Court of Appeals,30 we took into consideration the size of, and benefits to, the estate
should respondent therein be appointed as co-administrator. We emphasized that where the estate
is large or, from any cause, an intricate and perplexing one to settle, the appointment of co-
administrators may be sanctioned by law.

In our Decision under consideration, we zeroed in on Emilio III’s demonstrable interest in the estate
and glossed over the order of preference set forth in the Rules. We gave weight to Emilio III’s
demonstrable interest in Cristina’s estate and without a closer scrutiny of the attendant facts and
circumstances, directed co-administration thereof. We are led to a review of such position by the
foregoing survey of cases.
The collected teaching is that mere demonstration of interest in the estate to be settled does not ipso
facto entitle an interested person to co-administration thereof. Neither does squabbling among the
heirs nor adverse interests necessitate the discounting of the order of preference set forth in Section
6, Rule 78. Indeed, in the appointment of administrator of the estate of a deceased person, the
principal consideration reckoned with is the interest in said estate of the one to be appointed as
administrator.31 Given Isabel’s unassailable interest in the estate as one of the decedent’s legitimate
grandchildren and undoubted nearest "next of kin," the appointment of Emilio III as co-administrator
of the same estate, cannot be a demandable right. It is a matter left entirely to the sound discretion
of the Court32 and depends on the facts and the attendant circumstances of the case.33

Thus, we proceed to scrutinize the attendant facts and circumstances of this case even as we
reiterate Isabel’s and her sibling’s apparent greater interest in the estate of Cristina.

These considerations do not warrant the setting aside of the order of preference mapped out in
Section 6, Rule 78 of the Rules of Court. They compel that a choice be made of one over the other.

1. The bitter estrangement and long-standing animosity between Isabel, on the one hand,
and Emilio III, on the other, traced back from the time their paternal grandparents were alive,
which can be characterized as adverse interest of some kind by, or hostility of, Emilio III to
Isabel who is immediately interested in the estate;

2. Corollary thereto, the seeming impossibility of Isabel and Emilio III working harmoniously
as co-administrators may result in prejudice to the decedent’s estate, ultimately delaying
settlement thereof; and

3. Emilio III, for all his claims of knowledge in the management of Cristina’s estate, has not
looked after the estate’s welfare and has acted to the damage and prejudice thereof.

Contrary to the assumption made in the Decision that Emilio III’s demonstrable interest in the estate
makes him a suitable co-administrator thereof, the evidence reveals that Emilio III has turned out to
be an unsuitable administrator of the estate. Respondent Isabel points out that after Emilio III’s
appointment as administrator of the subject estate in 2001, he has not looked after the welfare of the
subject estate and has actually acted to the damage and prejudice thereof as evidenced by the
following:

1. Emilio III, despite several orders from the probate court for a complete inventory, omitted
in the partial inventories34 he filed therewith properties of the estate35 including several parcels
of land, cash, bank deposits, jewelry, shares of stock, motor vehicles, and other personal
properties, contrary to Section 1,36paragraph a, Rule 81 of the Rules of Court.

2. Emilio III did not take action on both occasions against Federico’s settlement of the
decedent’s estate which adjudicated to himself a number of properties properly belonging to
said estate (whether wholly or partially), and which contained a declaration that the decedent
did not leave any descendants or heirs, except for Federico, entitled to succeed to her
estate.37

In compliance to our Resolution dated 18 April 2012 requiring Emilio III to respond to the following
imputations of Isabel that:

1. Emilio III did not file an inventory of the assets until November 14, 2002;

2. The inventory Emilio III submitted did not include several properties of the decedent;

3. That properties belonging to the decedent have found their way to different individuals or persons;
several properties to Federico Suntay himself; and

4. While some properties have found their way to Emilio III, by reason of falsified documents;38

Emilio III refutes Isabel’s imputations that he was lackadaisical in assuming and performing the
functions of administrator of Cristina’s estate:

1. From the time of the RTC’s Order appointing Emilio III as administrator, Isabel, in her
pleadings before the RTC, had vigorously opposed Emilio III’s assumption of that office,
arguing that "the decision of the RTC dated 9 November 2001 is not among the judgments
authorized by the Rules of Court which may be immediately implemented or executed;"

2. The delay in Emilio III’s filing of an inventory was due to Isabel’s vociferous objections to
Emilio III’s attempts to act as administrator while the RTC decision was under appeal to the
Court of Appeals;

3. The complained partial inventory is only initiatory, inherent in the nature thereof, and one
of the first steps in the lengthy process of settlement of a decedent’s estate, such that it
cannot constitute a complete and total listing of the decedent’s properties; and

4. The criminal cases adverted to are trumped-up charges where Isabel, as private
complainant, has been unwilling to appear and testify, leading the Judge of the Regional
Trial Court, Branch 44 of Mamburao, Occidental Mindoro, to warn the prosecutor of a
possible motu propio dismissal of the cases.

While we can subscribe to Emilio III’s counsel’s explanation for the blamed delay in the filing of an
inventory and his exposition on the nature thereof, partial as opposed to complete, in the course of
the settlement of a decedent’s estate, we do not find any clarification on Isabel’s accusation that
Emilio III had deliberately omitted properties in the inventory, which properties of Cristina he knew
existed and which he claims to be knowledgeable about.

The general denial made by Emilio III does not erase his unsuitability as administrator rooted in his
failure to "make and return x x x a true and complete inventory" which became proven fact when he
actually filed partial inventories before the probate court and by his inaction on two occasions of
Federico’s exclusion of Cristina’s other compulsory heirs, herein Isabel and her siblings, from the list
of heirs.

As administrator, Emilio III enters into the office, posts a bond and executes an oath to faithfully
discharge the duties of settling the decedent’s estate with the end in view of distribution to the heirs,
if any. This he failed to do. The foregoing circumstances of Emilio III’s omission and inaction become
even more significant and speak volume of his unsuitability as administrator as it demonstrates his
interest adverse to those immediately interested in the estate of the decedent, Cristina.

In this case, palpable from the evidence on record, the pleadings, and the protracted litigation, is the
inescapable fact that Emilio III and respondent Isabel have a deep aversion for each other. To our
1awp++i1

mind, it becomes highly impractical, nay, improbable, for the two to work as co-administrators of their
grandmother’s estate. The allegations of Emilio III, the testimony of Federico and the other witnesses
for Federico and Emilio III that Isabel and her siblings were estranged from their grandparents further
drive home the point that Emilio III bears hostility towards Isabel. More importantly, it appears
detrimental to the decedent’s estate to appoint a co-administrator (Emilio III) who has shown an
adverse interest of some kind or hostility to those, such as herein respondent Isabel, immediately
interested in the said estate.

Bearing in mind that the issuance of letters of administration is simply a preliminary order to facilitate
the settlement of a decedent’s estate, we here point out that Emilio III is not without remedies to
protect his interests in the estate of the decedent. In Hilado v. Court of Appeals,39 we mapped out as
among the allowable participation of "any interested persons" or "any persons interested in the
estate" in either testate or intestate proceedings:

xxxx

4. Section 640 of Rule 87, which allows an individual interested in the estate of the deceased "to
complain to the court of the concealment, embezzlement, or conveyance of any asset of the
decedent, or of evidence of the decedent’s title or interest therein;"

5. Section 1041 of Rule 85, which requires notice of the time and place of the examination and
allowance of the Administrator’s account "to persons interested;"

6. Section 7(b)42 of Rule 89, which requires the court to give notice "to the persons interested" before
it may hear and grant a petition seeking the disposition or encumbrance of the properties of the
estate; and
7. Section 1,43 Rule 90, which allows "any person interested in the estate" to petition for an order for
the distribution of the residue of the estate of the decedent, after all obligations are either satisfied or
provided for.44

In addition to the foregoing, Emilio III may likewise avail of the remedy found in Section 2, Rule 82 of
the Rules of Court, to wit:

Sec. 2. Court may remove or accept resignation of executor or administrator. Proceedings upon
death, resignation, or removal. – If an executor or administrator neglects to render his account and
settle the estate according to law, or to perform an order or judgment of the court, or a duty
expressly provided by these rules, or absconds, or becomes insane, or otherwise incapable or
unsuitable to discharge the trust, the court may remove him, or, in its discretion, may permit him to
resign. When an executor or administrator dies, resigns, or is removed, the remaining executor or
administrator may administer the trust alone, unless the court grants letters to someone to act with
him. If there is no remaining executor or administrator, administration may be granted to any suitable
person.

Once again, as we have done in the Decision, we exercise judicial restraint: we uphold that the
question of who are the heirs of the decedent Cristina is not yet upon us. Article 992 of the Civil
Code or the curtain bar rule is inapplicable in resolving the issue of who is better qualified to
administer the estate of the decedent.

Thus, our disquisition in the assailed Decision:

Nonetheless, it must be pointed out that judicial restraint impels us to refrain from making a final
declaration of heirship and distributing the presumptive shares of the parties in the estates of Cristina
and Federico, considering that the question on who will administer the properties of the long
deceased couple has yet to be settled.

Our holding in Capistrano v. Nadurata on the same issue remains good law:

The declaration of heirs made by the lower court is premature, although the evidence sufficiently
shows who are entitled to succeed the deceased. The estate had hardly been judicially opened, and
the proceeding has not as yet reached the stage of distribution of the estate which must come after
the inheritance is liquidated.

Section 1, Rule 90 of the Rules of Court does not depart from the foregoing admonition:

Sec. 1. When order for distribution of residue is made. - x x x. If there is a controversy before the
court as to who are the lawful heirs of the deceased person or as to the distributive shares to which
each person is entitled under the law, the controversy shall be heard and decided as in ordinary
cases.

No distribution shall be allowed until the payment of the obligations above mentioned has been
made or provided for, unless the distributees, or any of them, give a bond, in a sum to be fixed by
the court, conditioned for the payment of said obligations within such time as the court directs.45

Lastly, we dispose of a peripheral issue raised in the Supplemental Comment46 of Emilio III
questioning the Special Second Division which issued the 18 April 2012 Resolution. Emilio III
asseverates that "the operation of the Special Second Division in Baguio is unconstitutional and
void" as the Second Division in Manila had already promulgated its Decision on 16 June 2010 on the
petition filed by him:

7. The question is: who created the Special Second Division in Baguio, acting separately from the
Second Division of the Supreme Court in Manila? There will then be two Second Divisions of the
Supreme Court: one acting with the Supreme Court in Manila, and another Special Second Division
acting independently of the Second Division of the Supreme Court in Manila.47

For Emilio III’s counsels’ edification, the Special Second Division in Baguio is not a different division
created by the Supreme Court.

The Second Division which promulgated its Decision on this case on 16 June 2010, penned by
Justice Antonio Eduardo B. Nachura, now has a different composition, with the advent of Justice
Nachura’s retirement on 13 June 2011. Section 7, Rule 2 of the Internal Rules of the Supreme Court
provides:

Sec. 7. Resolutions of motions for reconsideration or clarification of decisions or signed resolutions


and all other motions and incidents subsequently filed; creation of a Special Division. – Motions for
reconsideration or clarification of a decision or of a signed resolution and all other motions and
incidents subsequently filed in the case shall be acted upon by the ponente and the other Members
of the Division who participated in the rendition of the decision or signed resolution.

If the ponente has retired, is no longer a Member of the Court, is disqualified, or has inhibited himself
or herself from acting on the motion for reconsideration or clarification, he or she shall be replaced
through raffle by a new ponente who shall be chosen among the new Members of the Division who
participated in the rendition of the decision or signed resolution and who concurred therein. If only
one Member of the Court who participated and concurred in the rendition of the decision or signed
resolution remains, he or she shall be designated as the new ponente.

If a Member (not the ponente) of the Division which rendered the decision or signed resolution has
retired, is no longer a Member of the Court, is disqualified, or has inhibited himself or herself from
acting on the motion for reconsideration or clarification, he or she shall be replaced through raffle by
a replacement Member who shall be chosen from the other Divisions until a new Justice is appointed
as replacement for the retired Justice. Upon the appointment of a new Justice, he or she shall
replace the designated Justice as replacement Member of the Special Division.

Any vacancy or vacancies in the Special Division shall be filled by raffle from among the other
Members of the Court to constitute a Special Division of five (5) Members.

If the ponente and all the Members of the Division that rendered the Decision or signed Resolution
are no longer Members of the Court, the case shall be raffled to any Member of the Court and the
motion shall be acted upon by him or her with the participation of the other Members of the Division
to which he or she belongs.

If there are pleadings, motions or incidents subsequent to the denial of the motion for
reconsideration or clarification, the case shall be acted upon by the ponente on record with the
participation of the other Members of the Division to which he or she belongs at the time said
pleading, motion or incident is to be taken up by the Court. (Emphasis supplied)

As regards the operation thereof in Baguio City, such is simply a change in venue for the Supreme
Court's summer session held last April.48

WHEREFORE, the Motion for Reconsideration is PARTIALLY GRANTED. Our Decision in G.R. No.
183053 dated 16 June 2010 is MODIFIED. Letters of Administration over the estate of decedent
Cristina Aguinaldo-Suntay shall solely issue to respondent Isabel Cojuangco-Suntay upon payment
of a bond to be set by the Regional Trial Court, Branch 78, Malolos, Bulacan, in Special Proceeding
Case No. 117-M-95. The Regional Trial Court, Branch 78, Malolos, Bulacan is likewise directed to
settle the estate of decedent Cristina Aguinaldo-Suntay with dispatch. No costs.

SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 122749 July 31, 1996

ANTONIO A. S. VALDEZ, petitioner,


vs.
REGIONAL TRIAL COURT, BRANCH 102, QUEZON CITY, and CONSUELO M. GOMEZ-
VALDEZ, respondents.

VITUG, J.:p

The petition for new bewails, purely on the question of law, an alleged error committed by the Regional Trial Court in Civil Case No. Q-92-
12539. Petitioner avers that the court a quo has failed to apply the correct law that should govern the disposition of a family dwelling in a
situation where a marriage is declared void ab initio because of psychological incapacity on the part of either or both parties in the contract.

The pertinent facts giving rise to this incident are, by large, not in dispute.
Antonio Valdez and Consuelo Gomez were married on 05 January 1971. Begotten during the
marriage were five children. In a petition, dated 22 June 1992, Valdez sought the declaration of
nullity of the marriage pursuant to Article 36 of the Family code (docketed Civil Case No. Q-92-
12539, Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 102). After the hearing the parties following the
joinder of issues, the trial court,1 in its decision of 29 July 1994, granted the petition, viz:

WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered as follows:

(1) The marriage of petitioner Antonio Valdez and respondent Consuelo Gomez-Valdez is
hereby declared null and void under Article 36 of the Family Code on the ground of their
mutual psychological incapacity to comply with their essential marital obligations;

(2) The three older children, Carlos Enrique III, Antonio Quintin and Angela Rosario shall
choose which parent they would want to stay with.

Stella Eloisa and Joaquin Pedro shall be placed in the custody of their mother, herein
respondent Consuelo Gomez-Valdes.

The petitioner and respondent shall have visitation rights over the children who are in the
custody of the other.

(3) The petitioner and the respondent are directed to start proceedings on the liquidation of
their common properties as defined by Article 147 of the Family Code, and to comply with
the provisions of Articles 50, 51, and 52 of the same code, within thirty (30) days from notice
of this decision.

Let a copy of this decision be furnished the Local Civil Registrar of Mandaluyong, Metro
Manila, for proper recording in the registry of marriages.2 (Emphasis ours.)

Consuelo Gomez sought a clarification of that portion of the decision directing compliance with
Articles 50, 51 and 52 of the Family Code. She asserted that the Family Code contained no
provisions on the procedure for the liquidation of common property in "unions without marriage."
Parenthetically, during the hearing of the motion, the children filed a joint affidavit expressing their
desire to remain with their father, Antonio Valdez, herein petitioner.

In an order, dated 05 May 1995, the trial court made the following clarification:

Consequently, considering that Article 147 of the Family Code explicitly provides that the
property acquired by both parties during their union, in the absence of proof to the contrary,
are presumed to have been obtained through the joint efforts of the parties and will be owned
by them in equal shares, plaintiff and defendant will own their "family home" and all their
properties for that matter in equal shares.

In the liquidation and partition of properties owned in common by the plaintiff and defendant,
the provisions on ownership found in the Civil Code shall apply.3 (Emphasis supplied.)

In addressing specifically the issue regarding the disposition of the family dwelling, the trial court
said:

Considering that this Court has already declared the marriage between petitioner and
respondent as null and void ab initio, pursuant to Art. 147, the property regime of petitioner
and respondent shall be governed by the rules on ownership.

The provisions of Articles 102 and 129 of the Family Code finds no application since Article
102 refers to the procedure for the liquidation of the conjugal partnership property and Article
129 refers to the procedure for the liquidation of the absolute community of property.4

Petitioner moved for a reconsideration of the order. The motion was denied on 30 October 1995.

In his recourse to this Court, petitioner submits that Articles 50, 51 and 52 of the Family Code should
be held controlling: he argues that:
I

Article 147 of the Family Code does not apply to cases where the parties are psychologically
incapacitated.

II

Articles 50, 51 and 52 in relation to Articles 102 and 129 of the Family Code govern the
disposition of the family dwelling in cases where a marriage is declared void ab initio,
including a marriage declared void by reason of the psychological incapacity of the spouses.

III

Assuming arguendo that Article 147 applies to marriages declared void ab initio on the
ground of the psychological incapacity of a spouse, the same may be read consistently with
Article 129.

IV

It is necessary to determine the parent with whom majority of the children wish to stay.5

The trial court correctly applied the law. In a void marriage, regardless of the cause thereof, the
property relations of the parties during the period of cohabitation is governed by the provisions of
Article 147 or Article 148, such as the case may be, of the Family Code. Article 147 is a remake of
Article 144 of the Civil Code as interpreted and so applied in previous cases;6 it provides:

Art. 147. When a man and a woman who are capacitated to marry each other, live
exclusively with each other as husband and wife without the benefit of marriage or under a
void marriage, their wages and salaries shall be owned by them in equal shares and the
property acquired by both of them through their work or industry shall be governed by the
rules on co-ownership.

In the absence of proof to the contrary, properties acquired while they lived together shall be
presumed to have been obtained by their joint efforts, work or industry, and shall be owned
by them in equal shares. For purposes of this Article, a party who did not participate in the
acquisition by the other party of any property shall be deemed to have contributed jointly in
the acquisition thereof in the former's efforts consisted in the care and maintenance of the
family and of the household.

Neither party can encumber or dispose by acts inter vivos of his or her share in the property
acquired during cohabitation and owned in common, without the consent of the other, until
after the termination of their cohabitation.

When only one of the parties to a void marriage is in good faith, the share of the party in bad
faith in the 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 innocent party. In all cases, the forfeiture shall take place upon the termination
of the cohabitation.

This particular kind of co-ownership applies when a man and a woman, suffering no illegal
impediment to marry each other, so exclusively live together as husband and wife under a void
marriage or without the benefit of marriage. The term "capacitated" in the provision (in the first
paragraph of the law) refers to the legal capacity of a party to contract marriage, i.e., any "male or
female of the age of eighteen years or upwards not under any of the impediments mentioned in
Articles 37 and 38"7 of the Code.

Under this property regime, property acquired by both spouses through their work and industry shall
be governed by the rules on equal co-ownership. Any property acquired during the union is prima
facie presumed to have been obtained through their joint efforts. A party who did not participate in
the acquisition of the property shall be considered as having contributed thereto jointly if said party's
"efforts consisted in the care and maintenance of the family household."8 Unlike the conjugal
partnership of gains, the fruits of the couple's separate property are not included in the co-
ownership.
Article 147 of the Family Code, in the substance and to the above extent, has clarified Article 144 of
the Civil Code; in addition, the law now expressly provides that —

(a) Neither party can dispose or encumber by act intervivos his or her share in co-ownership
property, without consent of the other, during the period of cohabitation; and

(b) In the case of a void marriage, any party in bad faith shall forfeit his or her share in the co-
ownership in favor of their common children; in default thereof or waiver by any or all of the common
children, each vacant share shall belong to the respective surviving descendants, or still in default
thereof, to the innocent party. The forfeiture shall take place upon the termination of the
cohabitation9 or declaration of nullity of the marriage. 10

When the common-law spouses suffer from a legal impediment to marry or when they do not live
exclusively with each other (as husband and wife), only the property acquired by both of them
through their actual joint contribution of money, property or industry shall be owned in common and
in proportion to their respective contributions. Such contributions and corresponding shares,
however, are prima facie presumed to be equal. The share of any party who is married to another
shall accrue to the absolute community or conjugal partnership, as the case may be, if so existing
under a valid marriage. If the party who has acted in bad faith is not validly married to another, his or
her share shall be forfeited in the manner already heretofore expressed. 11

In deciding to take further cognizance of the issue on the settlement of the parties' common property,
the trial court acted neither imprudently nor precipitately; a court which has jurisdiction to declare the
marriage a nullity must be deemed likewise clothed in authority to resolve incidental and
consequential matters. Nor did it commit a reversible error in ruling that petitioner and private
respondent own the "family home" and all their common property in equal shares, as well as in
concluding that, in the liquidation and partition of the property owned in common by them, the
provisions on co-ownership under the Civil Code, not Articles 50, 51 and 52, in relation to Articles
102 and 129, 12 of the Family Code, should aptly prevail. The rules set up to govern the liquidation of
either the absolute community or the conjugal partnership of gains, the property regimes recognized
for valid and voidable marriages (in the latter case until the contract is annulled), are irrelevant to the
liquidation of the co-ownership that exists between common-law spouses. The first paragraph of
Articles 50 of the Family Code, applying paragraphs (2), (3), (4) and 95) of Article 43, 13 relates only,
by its explicit terms, to voidable marriages and, exceptionally, to void marriages under Article 40 14 of
the Code, i.e., the declaration of nullity of a subsequent marriage contracted by a spouse of a prior
void marriage before the latter is judicially declared void. The latter is a special rule that somehow
recognizes the philosophy and an old doctrine that void marriages are inexistent from the very
beginning and no judicial decree is necessary to establish their nullity. In now requiring for purposes
of remarriage, the declaration of nullity by final judgment of the previously contracted void marriage,
the present law aims to do away with any continuing uncertainty on the status of the second
marriage. It is not then illogical for the provisions of Article 43, in relation to Articles 41 15 and 42, 16 of
the Family Code, on the effects of the termination of a subsequent marriage contracted during the
subsistence of a previous marriage to be made applicable pro hac vice. In all other cases, it is not to
be assumed that the law has also meant to have coincident property relations, on the one hand,
between spouses in valid and voidable marriages (before annulment) and, on the other, between
common-law spouses or spouses of void marriages, leaving to ordain, on the latter case, the
ordinary rules on co-ownership subject to the provisions of the Family Code on the "family
home," i.e., the provisions found in Title V, Chapter 2, of the Family Code, remain in force and effect
regardless of the property regime of the spouses.

WHEREFORE, the questioned orders, dated 05 May 1995 and 30 October 1995, of the trial court
are AFFIRMED. No costs.

G.R. No. 132529. February 2, 2001

SUSAN NICDAO CARIÑO, petitioner,


vs.
SUSAN YEE CARIÑO, respondent.

DECISION

YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:
The issue for resolution in the case at bar hinges on the validity of the two marriages contracted by
the deceased SPO4 Santiago S. Cariño, whose “death benefits” is now the subject of the
controversy between the two Susans whom he married. 1âwphi1.nêt

Before this Court is a petition for review on certiorari seeking to set aside the decision 1 of the Court
of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 51263, which affirmed in toto the decision 2 of the Regional Trial Court
of Quezon City, Branch 87, in Civil Case No. Q-93-18632.

During the lifetime of the late SPO4 Santiago S. Cariño, he contracted two marriages, the first was
on June 20, 1969, with petitioner Susan Nicdao Cariño (hereafter referred to as Susan Nicdao), with
whom he had two offsprings, namely, Sahlee and Sandee Cariño; and the second was on November
10, 1992, with respondent Susan Yee Cariño (hereafter referred to as Susan Yee), with whom he
had no children in their almost ten year cohabitation starting way back in 1982.

In 1988, SPO4 Santiago S. Cariño became ill and bedridden due to diabetes complicated by
pulmonary tuberculosis. He passed away on November 23, 1992, under the care of Susan Yee, who
spent for his medical and burial expenses. Both petitioner and respondent filed claims for monetary
benefits and financial assistance pertaining to the deceased from various government agencies.
Petitioner Susan Nicdao was able to collect a total of P146,000.00 from “MBAI, PCCUI,
Commutation, NAPOLCOM, [and] Pag-ibig,” 3 while respondent Susan Yee received a total of
P21,000.00 from “GSIS Life, Burial (GSIS) and burial (SSS).” 4

On December 14, 1993, respondent Susan Yee filed the instant case for collection of sum of money
against petitioner Susan Nicdao praying, inter alia, that petitioner be ordered to return to her at least
one-half of the one hundred forty-six thousand pesos (P146,000.00) collectively denominated as
“death benefits” which she (petitioner) received from “MBAI, PCCUI, Commutation, NAPOLCOM,
[and] Pag-ibig.” Despite service of summons, petitioner failed to file her answer, prompting the trial
court to declare her in default.

Respondent Susan Yee admitted that her marriage to the deceased took place during the
subsistence of, and without first obtaining a judicial declaration of nullity of, the marriage between
petitioner and the deceased. She, however, claimed that she had no knowledge of the previous
marriage and that she became aware of it only at the funeral of the deceased, where she met
petitioner who introduced herself as the wife of the deceased. To bolster her action for collection of
sum of money, respondent contended that the marriage of petitioner and the deceased is void ab
initio because the same was solemnized without the required marriage license. In support thereof,
respondent presented: 1) the marriage certificate of the deceased and the petitioner which bears no
marriage license number; 5and 2) a certification dated March 9, 1994, from the Local Civil Registrar
of San Juan, Metro Manila, which reads –

This is to certify that this Office has no record of marriage license of the spouses SANTIAGO
CARINO (sic) and SUSAN NICDAO, who are married in this municipality on June 20, 1969. Hence,
we cannot issue as requested a true copy or transcription of Marriage License number from the
records of this archives.

This certification is issued upon the request of Mrs. Susan Yee Cariño for whatever legal purpose it
may serve. 6

On August 28, 1995, the trial court ruled in favor of respondent, Susan Yee, holding as follows:

WHEREFORE, the defendant is hereby ordered to pay the plaintiff the sum of P73,000.00, half of
the amount which was paid to her in the form of death benefits arising from the death of SPO4
Santiago S. Cariño, plus attorney’s fees in the amount of P5,000.00, and costs of suit.

IT IS SO ORDERED. 7

On appeal by petitioner to the Court of Appeals, the latter affirmed in toto the decision of the trial
court. Hence, the instant petition, contending that:

I.
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN AFFIRMING THE
FINDINGS OF THE LOWER COURT THAT VDA. DE CONSUEGRA VS. GSIS IS
APPLICABLE TO THE CASE AT BAR.

II.

THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN APPLYING EQUITY IN


THE INSTANT CASE INSTEAD OF THE CLEAR AND UNEQUIVOCAL MANDATE OF THE
FAMILY CODE.

III.

THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN NOT FINDING THE CASE
OF VDA. DE CONSUEGRA VS GSIS TO HAVE BEEN MODIFIED, AMENDED AND EVEN
ABANDONED BY THE ENACTMENT OF THE FAMILY CODE. 8

Under Article 40 of the Family Code, 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. Meaning, 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 the previous marriage
void. 9 However, for purposes other than remarriage, no judicial action is necessary to declare a
marriage an absolute nullity. For other purposes, such as but not limited to the determination of
heirship, legitimacy or illegitimacy of a child, settlement of estate, dissolution of property regime, or a
criminal case for that matter, the court may pass upon the validity of marriage even after the death of
the parties thereto, and even in a suit not directly instituted to question the validity of said marriage,
so long as it is essential to the determination of the case. 10 In such instances, evidence 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. 11

It is clear therefore that the Court is clothed with sufficient authority to pass upon the validity of the
two marriages in this case, as the same is essential to the determination of who is rightfully entitled
to the subject “death benefits” of the deceased.

Under the Civil Code, which was the law in force when the marriage of petitioner Susan Nicdao and
the deceased was solemnized in 1969, a valid marriage license is a requisite of marriage, 12 and the
absence thereof, subject to certain exceptions, 13 renders the marriage void ab initio. 14

In the case at bar, there is no question that the marriage of petitioner and the deceased does not fall
within the marriages exempt from the license requirement. A marriage license, therefore, was
indispensable to the validity of their marriage. This notwithstanding, the records reveal that the
marriage contract of petitioner and the deceased bears no marriage license number and, as certified
by the Local Civil Registrar of San Juan, Metro Manila, their office has no record of such marriage
license. In Republic v. Court of Appeals, 15 the Court held that such a certification is adequate to
prove the non-issuance of a marriage license. Absent any circumstance of suspicion, as in the
present case, the certification issued by the local civil registrar enjoys probative value, he being the
officer charged under the law to keep a record of all data relative to the issuance of a marriage
license.

Such being the case, the presumed validity of the marriage of petitioner and the deceased has been
sufficiently overcome. It then became the burden of petitioner to prove that their marriage is valid
and that they secured the required marriage license. Although she was declared in default before the
trial court, petitioner could have squarely met the issue and explained the absence of a marriage
license in her pleadings before the Court of Appeals and this Court. But petitioner conveniently
avoided the issue and chose to refrain from pursuing an argument that will put her case in jeopardy.
Hence, the presumed validity of their marriage cannot stand.

It is beyond cavil, therefore, that the marriage between petitioner Susan Nicdao and the deceased,
having been solemnized without the necessary marriage license, and not being one of the marriages
exempt from the marriage license requirement, is undoubtedly void ab initio.
It does not follow from the foregoing disquisition, however, that since the marriage of petitioner and
the deceased is declared void ab initio, the “death benefits” under scrutiny would now be awarded to
respondent Susan Yee. To reiterate, under Article 40 of the Family Code, for purposes of
remarriage, there must first be a prior judicial declaration of the nullity of a previous marriage, though
void, before a party can enter into a second marriage, otherwise, the second marriage would also be
void.

Accordingly, the declaration in the instant case of nullity of the previous marriage of the deceased
and petitioner Susan Nicdao does not validate the second marriage of the deceased with respondent
Susan Yee. The fact remains that their marriage was solemnized without first obtaining a judicial
decree declaring the marriage of petitioner Susan Nicdao and the deceased void. Hence, the
marriage of respondent Susan Yee and the deceased is, likewise, void ab initio.

One of the effects of the declaration of nullity of marriage is the separation of the property of the
spouses according to the applicable property regime. 16 Considering that the two marriages are void
ab initio, the applicable property regime would not be absolute community or conjugal partnership of
property, but rather, be governed by the provisions of Articles 147 and 148 of the Family Code on
“Property Regime of Unions Without Marriage.”

Under Article 148 of the Family Code, which refers to the property regime of bigamous marriages,
adulterous relationships, relationships in a state of concubine, relationships where both man and
woman are married to other persons, multiple alliances of the same married man, 17 -

“... [O]nly the properties acquired by both of the parties through their actual joint contribution of
money, property, or industry shall be owned by them in common in proportion to their respective
contributions ...”

In this property regime, the properties acquired by the parties through their actual joint
contribution shall belong to the co-ownership. Wages and salaries earned by each party belong to
him or her exclusively. Then too, contributions in the form of care of the home, children and
household, or spiritual or moral inspiration, are excluded in this regime. 18

Considering that the marriage of respondent Susan Yee and the deceased is a bigamous marriage,
having been solemnized during the subsistence of a previous marriage then presumed to be valid
(between petitioner and the deceased), the application of Article 148 is therefore in order.

The disputed P146,000.00 from MBAI [AFP Mutual Benefit Association, Inc.], NAPOLCOM,
Commutation, Pag-ibig, and PCCUI, are clearly renumerations, incentives and benefits from
governmental agencies earned by the deceased as a police officer. Unless respondent Susan Yee
presents proof to the contrary, it could not be said that she contributed money, property or industry in
the acquisition of these monetary benefits. Hence, they are not owned in common by respondent
and the deceased, but belong to the deceased alone and respondent has no right whatsoever to
claim the same. By intestate succession, the said “death benefits” of the deceased shall pass to his
legal heirs. And, respondent, not being the legal wife of the deceased is not one of them.

As to the property regime of petitioner Susan Nicdao and the deceased, Article 147 of the Family
Code governs. This article applies to unions of parties who are legally capacitated and not barred by
any impediment to contract marriage, but whose marriage is nonetheless void for other reasons, like
the absence of a marriage license. Article 147 of the Family Code reads -

Art. 147. When a man and a woman who are capacitated to marry each other, live exclusively with
each other as husband and wife without the benefit of marriage or under a void marriage, their
wages and salaries shall be owned by them in equal shares and the property acquired by both of
them through their work or industry shall be governed by the rules on co-ownership.

In the absence of proof to the contrary, properties acquired while they lived together shall be
presumed to have been obtained by their joint efforts, work or industry, and shall be owned by them
in equal shares. For purposes of this Article, a party who did not participate in the acquisition by the
other party of any property shall be deemed to have contributed jointly in the acquisition thereof if the
former’s efforts consisted in the care and maintenance of the family and of the household.

xxx
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.

In contrast to Article 148, under the foregoing article, wages and salaries earned by either party
during the cohabitation shall be owned by the parties in equal shares and will be divided equally
between them, even if only one party earned the wages and the other did not contribute
thereto. 19 Conformably, even if the disputed “death benefits” were earned by the deceased alone as
a government employee, Article 147 creates a co-ownership in respect thereto, entitling the
petitioner to share one-half thereof. As there is no allegation of bad faith in the present case, both
parties of the first marriage are presumed to be in good faith. Thus, one-half of the subject “death
benefits” under scrutiny shall go to the petitioner as her share in the property regime, and the other
half pertaining to the deceased shall pass by, intestate succession, to his legal heirs, namely, his
children with Susan Nicdao.

In affirming the decision of the trial court, the Court of Appeals relied on the case of Vda. de
Consuegra v. Government Service Insurance System, 20 where the Court awarded one-half of the
retirement benefits of the deceased to the first wife and the other half, to the second wife, holding
that:

“... [S]ince the defendant’s first marriage has not been dissolved or declared void the conjugal
partnership established by that marriage has not ceased. Nor has the first wife lost or relinquished
her status as putative heir of her husband under the new Civil Code, entitled to share in his estate
upon his death should she survive him. Consequently, whether as conjugal partner in a still
subsisting marriage or as such putative heir she has an interest in the husband’s share in the
property here in dispute....” 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 such nullity. And
inasmuch as the conjugal partnership formed by the second marriage was dissolved before judicial
declaration of its nullity, “[t]he only just and equitable solution in this case would be to recognize the
right of the second wife to her share of one-half in the property acquired by her and her husband,
and consider the other half as pertaining to the conjugal partnership of the first marriage.” 21

It should be stressed, however, that the aforecited decision is premised on the rule which requires a
prior and separate judicial declaration of nullity of marriage. This is the reason why in the said case,
the Court determined the rights of the parties in accordance with their existing property regime.

In Domingo v. Court of Appeals, 22 however, the Court, construing Article 40 of the Family Code,
clarified that a prior and separate declaration of nullity of a marriage is an all important condition
precedent only for purposes of remarriage. That is, if a party who is previously married wishes to
contract a second marriage, he or she has to obtain first a judicial decree declaring the first marriage
void, before he or she could contract said second marriage, otherwise the second marriage would be
void. The same rule applies even if the first marriage is patently void because the parties are not free
to determine for themselves the validity or invalidity or their marriage. However, for purposes other
than to remarry, like for filing a case for collection of sum of money anchored on a marriage claimed
to be valid, no prior and separate judicial declaration of nullity is necessary. All that a party has to do
is to present evidence, testimonial or documentary, that would prove that the marriage from which
his or her rights flow is in fact valid. Thereupon, the court, if material to the determination of the
issues before it, will rule on the status of the marriage involved and proceed to determine the rights
of the parties in accordance with the applicable laws and jurisprudence. Thus, in Niñal v.
Bayadog, 23 the Court explained:

[T]he court may pass upon the validity of marriage even in a suit not directly instituted to question the
same so long as it is essential to the determination of the case. This is without prejudice to any issue
that may arise in the case. When such need arises, a final judgment of declaration of nullity is
necessary even if the purpose is other than to remarry. The clause “on the basis of a final judgment
declaring such previous marriage void” in Article 40 of the Family Code connoted that such final
judgment need not be obtained only for purpose of remarriage.

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED, and the decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV
No. 51263 which affirmed the decision of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City ordering petitioner
to pay respondent the sum of P73,000.00 plus attorney’s fees in the amount of P5,000.00, is
REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The complaint in Civil Case No. Q-93-18632, is hereby DISMISSED.
No pronouncement as to costs. 1âwphi 1.nêt

SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 162368 July 17, 2006

MA. ARMIDA PEREZ-FERRARIS, petitioner,


vs.
BRIX FERRARIS, respondent.

RESOLUTION

YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:

This resolves the motion for reconsideration filed by petitioner Ma. Armida Perez-Ferraris of the
Resolution dated June 9, 2004 denying the petition for review on certiorari of the Decision and
Resolution of the Court of Appeals dated April 30, 2003 and February 24, 2004, respectively, for
failure of the petitioner to sufficiently show that the Court of Appeals committed any reversible error.

On February 20, 2001, the Regional Trial Court of Pasig City, Branch 151 rendered a
Decision1 denying the petition for declaration of nullity of petitioner's marriage with Brix Ferraris. The
trial court noted that suffering from epilepsy does not amount to psychological incapacity under
Article 36 of the Civil Code and the evidence on record were insufficient to prove infidelity.
Petitioner's motion for reconsideration was denied in an Order2 dated April 20, 2001 where the trial
court reiterated that there was no evidence that respondent is mentally or physically ill to such an
extent that he could not have known the obligations he was assuming, or knowing them, could not
have given valid assumption thereof.

Petitioner appealed to the Court of Appeals which affirmed3 in toto the judgment of the trial court. It
held that the evidence on record did not convincingly establish that respondent was suffering from
psychological incapacity or that his "defects" were incurable and already present at the inception of
the marriage.4 The Court of Appeals also found that Dr. Dayan's testimony failed to establish the
substance of respondent's psychological incapacity; that she failed to explain how she arrived at the
conclusion that the respondent has a mixed personality disorder; that she failed to clearly
demonstrate that there was a natal or supervening disabling factor or an adverse integral element in
respondent's character that effectively incapacitated him from accepting and complying with the
essential marital obligations.5

Petitioner's motion for reconsideration was denied6 for lack of merit; thus, she filed a petition for
review on certiorari with this Court. As already stated, the petition for review was denied for failure of
petitioner to show that the appellate tribunal committed any reversible error.

Petitioner filed the instant motion for reconsideration.7 The Court required respondent Brix Ferraris to
file comment8but failed to comply; thus, he is deemed to have waived the opportunity to file
comment. Further, the Court directed the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) to comment on
petitioner's motion for reconsideration which it complied on March 2, 2006.

After considering the arguments of both the petitioner and the OSG, the Court resolves to deny
petitioner's motion for reconsideration.

The issue of whether or not psychological incapacity exists in a given case calling for annulment of
marriage depends crucially, more than in any field of the law, on the facts of the case.9 Such factual
issue, however, is beyond the province of this Court to review. It is not the function of the Court to
analyze or weigh all over again the evidence or premises supportive of such factual
determination.10 It is a well-established principle that factual findings of the trial court, when affirmed
by the Court of Appeals, are binding on this Court,11 save for the most compelling and cogent
reasons, like when the findings of the appellate court go beyond the issues of the case, run contrary
to the admissions of the parties to the case, or fail to notice certain relevant facts which, if properly
considered, will justify a different conclusion; or when there is a misappreciation of facts,12 which are
unavailing in the instant case.
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 awareness of the duties
and responsibilities of the matrimonial bond one is about to assume.13 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.14 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,15 which petitioner failed to convincingly demonstrate.

As aptly held by the Court of Appeals:

Simply put, the chief and basic consideration in the resolution of marital annulment cases is
the presence of evidence that can adequately establish respondent's psychological
condition. Here, appellant contends that there is such evidence. We do not agree. Indeed,
the evidence on record did not convincingly establish that respondent was suffering from
psychological incapacity. There is absolutely no showing that his "defects" were already
present at the inception of the marriage, or that those are incurable.

Quite apart from being plainly self-serving, petitioner's evidence showed that respondent's
alleged failure to perform his so-called marital obligations was not at all a manifestation of
some deep-seated, grave, permanent and incurable psychological malady. To be sure, the
couple's relationship before the marriage and even during their brief union (for well about a
year or so) was not all bad. During that relatively short period of time, petitioner was happy
and contented with her life in the company of respondent. In fact, by petitioner's own
reckoning, respondent was a responsible and loving husband. x x x. Their problems began
when petitioner started doubting respondent's fidelity. It was only when they started fighting
about the calls from women that respondent began to withdraw into his shell and corner, and
failed to perform his so-called marital obligations. Respondent could not understand
petitioner's lack of trust in him and her constant naggings. He thought her suspicions
irrational. Respondent could not relate to her anger, temper and jealousy. x x x.

xxxx

At any rate, Dr. Dayan did not explain how she arrived at her diagnosis that respondent has
a mixed personality disorder called "schizoid," and why he is the "dependent and avoidant
type." In fact, Dr. Dayan's statement that one suffering from such mixed personality disorder
is dependent on others for decision x x x lacks specificity; it seems to belong to the realm of
theoretical speculation. Also, Dr. Dayan's information that respondent had extramarital affairs
was supplied by the petitioner herself. Notably, when asked as to the root cause of
respondent's alleged psychological incapacity, Dr. Dayan's answer was vague, evasive and
inconclusive. She replied that such disorder "can be part of his family upbringing" x x x. She
stated that there was a history of respondent's parents having difficulties in their relationship.
But this input on the supposed problematic history of respondent's parents also came from
petitioner. Nor did Dr. Dayan clearly demonstrate that there was really "a natal or
supervening disabling factor" on the part of respondent, or an "adverse integral element" in
respondent's character that effectively incapacitated him from accepting, and, thereby
complying with, the essential marital obligations. Of course, petitioner likewise failed to prove
that respondent's supposed psychological or mental malady existed even before the
marriage. All these omissions must be held up against petitioner, for the reason that upon
her devolved the onus of establishing nullity of the marriage. Indeed, any doubt should be
resolved in favor of the validity of the marriage and the indissolubility of the marital
vinculum.16

We find respondent's 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.

In Republic v. Court of Appeals,17 where therein respondent preferred to spend more time with his
friends than his family on whom he squandered his money, depended on his parents for aid and
assistance, and was dishonest to his wife regarding his finances, the Court held that the
psychological defects spoken of were more of a "difficulty," if not outright "refusal" or "neglect" in the
performance of some marital obligations and that a mere showing of irreconcilable differences and
conflicting personalities in no wise constitute 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.

Also, we held in Hernandez v. Court of Appeals18 that habitual alcoholism, sexual infidelity or
perversion, and abandonment do not by themselves constitute grounds for declaring a marriage void
based on psychological incapacity.

While petitioner's marriage with the respondent failed and appears to be without hope of
reconciliation, the remedy however is not always to have it declared void ab initio on the ground of
psychological incapacity. An unsatisfactory marriage, however, is not a null and void marriage.19 No
less than the Constitution recognizes the sanctity of marriage and the unity of the family; it decrees
marriage as legally "inviolable" and protects it from dissolution at the whim of the parties. Both the
family and marriage are to be "protected" by the state.20

Thus, in determining the import of "psychological incapacity" under Article 36, it must be read in
conjunction with, although to be taken as distinct from Articles 35,21 37,22 38,23 and 4124 that would
likewise, but for different reasons, render the marriage void ab initio, or Article 4525 that would make
the marriage merely voidable, or Article 55 that could justify a petition for legal separation. Care must
be observed so that these various circumstances are not applied so indiscriminately as if the law
were indifferent on the matter.26 Article 36 should not to be confused with a divorce law that cuts the
marital bond at the time the causes therefor manifest themselves.27 Neither it is 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.28

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the motion for reconsideration of the Resolution dated June
9, 2004 denying the petition for review on certiorari for failure of the petitioner to sufficiently show
that the Court of Appeals committed any reversible error, is DENIED WITH FINALITY.

SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 161793 February 13, 2009

EDWARD KENNETH NGO TE, Petitioner,


vs.
ROWENA ONG GUTIERREZ YU-TE, Respondent,
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, Oppositor.

DECISION

NACHURA, J.:

Far from novel is the issue involved in this petition. Psychological incapacity, since its incorporation
in our laws, has become a clichéd 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 formulated—free 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 Decision1 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CV No. 71867.
The petition further assails the January 19, 2004 Resolution2 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 Rowena’s 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, Edward’s ₱80,000.00 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 uncle’s 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 uncle’s place.5

On April 23, 1996, Rowena’s 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 uncle’s place where Edward was treated like
a prisoner—he 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 Rowena’s 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 latter’s psychological incapacity. This was docketed as Civil Case No. Q-00-39720.11

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 petitioner’s 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,
respondent’s 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[‫ ]ۥ‬and relatives[‫ ]ۥ‬houses. 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 petitioner’s 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

Sach’s 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 weak-willed. 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 Decision16 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 Decision19 in CA-G.R. CV No. 71867,
reversed and set aside the trial court’s 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
Molina21 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 OSG’s reasons for its agreement with or opposition to, as the
case may be, the petition.23 The CA later denied petitioner’s 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 respondent’s
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 Molina29 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 Code32 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 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.’

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:

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

"(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."

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 "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."

My own position as a member of the Committee then was that psychological incapacity is, in a
sense, insanity of a lesser degree.

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.

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 limbo—freed 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 Code—and classified the same as a ground for declaring marriages void ab initio or totally
inexistent from the beginning.

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."

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 ceremony as proof of an inability to give valid consent at the time of the ceremony.36

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

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 6840 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:

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.

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 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.

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.

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.

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 understanding and evaluating intact. What it
affects is the object of consent: the delivering of the goods.

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.

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.

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.

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."

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 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 one’s ends.

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.

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
one’s 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 one’s 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 law’s intention that it is the courts, on a case-to-case basis, that should determine
whether a party to a marriage is psychologically incapacitated, the Court, in sustaining the lower
court’s 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 court’s 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
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
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 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 1095.47

Noteworthy is that in Molina, while the majority of the Court’s membership concurred in the ponencia
of then Associate Justice (later Chief Justice) Artemio V. Panganiban, three justices concurred "in
the result" and another three—including, as aforesaid, Justice Romero—took 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 law’s 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."

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
OSG’s 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.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 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 dissolving marital bonds on account of either party’s 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.

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 latter’s 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. Petitioner’s behavioral
pattern falls under the classification of dependent personality disorder, and respondent’s, 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 1avvphi 1

Hernandez v. Court of Appeals59 emphasizes the importance of presenting expert testimony to


establish the precise cause of a party’s psychological incapacity, and to show that it existed at the
inception of the marriage. And as Marcos v. Marcos60 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 disorders—to 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 person’s 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
lawphil.net

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 5-hydroxyindoleacetic 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 Association’s 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 passive-aggressive 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 façade 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. lawphil.net

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.

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.
71867 are REVERSED and SET ASIDE, and the Decision, dated July 30, 2001, REINSTATED.

SO ORDERED.