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 Plaintiff Aurora and defendant Fernando were married on December 4, 1953. Fernando
filed an action for annulment of their marriage on January 7, 1954 on the ground that his
consent was obtained through force and intimidation. On September 23, 1959, judgment was
rendered dismissing his complaint and upholding the validity of Aurora͛s counterclaim that
Fernando divulged to Aurora that several months prior to their marriage he had pre-marital
relationship with a close relative of his. Because of the non-divulgement on the part of the
defendant, plaintiff asserts that the marriage that was solemnized between them constituted
͞fraud,͟ in obtaining her consent, within the contemplation of No. 4 of Article 85 of the Civil
Code. She requests for annulment of the marriage and for moral damages. On the other hand,
Fernando denied the allegations in paragraph 4 of the complaint; he denied having committed
any fraud against her. He counterclaimed for damages for the malicious filing of suit. He did not
pray for the dismissal of the complaint but for its dismissal ͞with respect to the alleged moral
damages.͟ Then, Aurora filed a reply with answer to the counterclaim stating defendant͛s
pretended love towards her and his intention of not fulfilling his marital duties and obligations.
The court dismissed the complaint and denied its reconsideration on October 7, 1966 due to
inadequate evidence.


 Is the non-disclosure to a wife by her husband of his premarital relationship with
another woman a ground for annulment of marriage?

 

 No. The non-disclosure to a wife by her husband of his premarital relationship with
another woman is not a ground for annulment of marriage. Such is not one of the enumerated
circumstances that would constitute a ground for annulment; and it is further excluded by the
last paragraph of the article, providing that ͞no other misrepresentation or deceit as to͙
chastity͟ shall give ground for an action to annul a marriage. Moreover, the state regards
marriage as indissoluble and sacred, being the foundation upon which society rests. Thus, it is
to be cautious and strict in granting annulment of marriage.
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 Plaintiff Godofredo Buccat met the defendant Luida Mangonon de Buccat in March
1938. On November 26, 1938, they got married in a Catholic Cathedral in Baguio City. After 89
days of living together as husband and wife, defendant gave birth to a child on February 23,
1939. Thereafter, plaintiff abandoned her and never returned. On March 20, 1939, plaintiff
wishes the annulment of his marriage with defendant on the ground of fraud since defendant
concealed her pregnancy at the time of the marriage; she assured him that she was still a virgin.
The defendant failed to appear in court despite having been duly summoned, in effect, plaintiff
was allowed to present evidence wherein the lower court held to be favorable to defendant;
hence, this appeal.


 Will the marriage be annulled on the ground of fraud as plaintiff requests?

 

 No. Plaintiff͛s claim that he did not even suspect the pregnancy of defendant was held
to be unbelievable, it having been proven that the latter was already in an advanced stage of
pregnancy (7th month) at the time of their marriage. Thus there is no fraud even if the
pregnancy was caused by another man other than her husband since concealment was
impossible on her 7th month of pregnancy, at the time of their marriage. Moreover, marriage is
considered as indissoluble and sacred institution, being the foundation on which the society
rests. To annul it, clear and irrefutable evidence are necessary. In this case, no such evidence
was presented.
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This is a dismissed complaint for annulment which was filed on September 6, 1955 and
was based on the grounds of fraud. The plaintiff Fernando Aquino alleges that defendant
Conchita Delizo, on the date of their marriage on December 27, 1954, concealed from the latter
the fact that she was pregnant by another man and after four months, defendant gave birth to
a child that plaintiff disowns. Defendant claimed that the child was conceived out of lawful
wedlock between her and petitioner. On June 16, 1956, the trial court dismissed the complaint
since no birth certificate was presented to show that the child was born within 180 days after
the marriage between the parties, and holding that concealment of pregnancy as alleged by
plaintiff does not constitute such fraud as would annul a marriage. The plaintiff filed another
͞petition to reopen for reception of additional evidence͟ but it was denied. Then, the case was
appealed to the Court of Appeals which held that there has been excusable neglect in plaintiff͛s
inability to present the proof of the child͛s birth, through her birth certificate, and for that
reason the court a quo erred in denying the motion for reception of additional evidence.
However, on the thought that it was not possible for plaintiff and defendant to have had sexual
intercourse during their engagement so that the child could be their own, and finding
unbelievable plaintiff͛s claim that he did not notice or even suspect that defendant was
pregnant when he married her, the appellate court, in spite of that, dismissed the complaint.
On March 17, 1959, plaintiff filed a motion praying that the decision be reconsidered or if
denied, that the case be remanded to the lower court for a new trial; herewith attached are
supporting documents that plaintiff͛s brother, Cesar Aquino, is in fact the father of the child.
But the Court of Appeals denied the motion; hence, the plaintiff brought the case to this Court
thru the present petition for certiorari.


Will the case be remanded to the lower court for a new trial?

 

Yes. Under the new Civil Code, concealment by the wife of the fact that at the time of
the marriage, she was pregnant by a man other than her husband constitutes fraud and is a
ground for annulment of marriage. In the case at bar, the defendant wife was alleged to be only
more than four months pregnant at the time of her marriage to plaintiff. At that stage, we are
not ready to say that her pregnancy was readily apparent , especially since she was ͞naturally
plump͟ or fat as alleged by the plaintiff. Moreover, according to medical authorities, even on
the 5th month, the enlargement of a woman͛s abdomen is hardly noticeable since the
enlargement is limited to the lower part of the abdomen, or if noticed, may be attributed only
to fat formation on the lower part of the abdomen. It is only on the 6th month of pregnancy that
the enlargement of the woman͛s abdomen reaches a height above the umbilicus, making the
roundness of the abdomen more general and apparent. Thus, the plaintiff is telling the truth
when he said that he is ͞naturally plump,͟ he could hardly tell that she was pregnant at the
time of their marriage, merely by looking, more so because she must have attempted to
conceal the truth. Moreover, the evidence sought to be introduced at the new trial combined
with what has already been adduced would be sufficient to sustain the fraud alleged by
plaintiff. Thus, the Court of Appeals should not have denied the motion praying for a new trial
simply because defendant failed to file her answer hereto. Such failure of the defendant cannot
be taken as evidence of collusion, especially since a provincial fiscal has been ordered to
represent the Government precisely to prevent such collusion. Hence, justice would be better
served if a new trial was ordered.
  
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Matilde Menciano, in her and her children͛s behalf, filed a motion for declaration of
heirs, alleging that she is the widow of the deceased Faustino Neri San Jose, to whom she was
married on September 28, 1944 before Rev. Father Isaias Edralin, S.J.; that they lived together
before the said marriage, hence, Carlo Magno Neri was born on March 9, 1940, the child having
enjoyed the status of a recognized natural child; that their second child Faustino Neri, Jr., was
born on April 25, 1945 and was legitimized by the subsequent matrimony of his parents, thus
he is a legitimate child in lawful wedlock.
On the other hand, on an amended answer, Paz Neri San Jose (the executrix of the
deceased) and Rodolfo Pelaez (designated universal heir in the will of the deceased dated
December 19, 1940), denied the substantial allegations of Menciano͛s motion for declaration of
heirs and further alleged that the deceased was suffering from senile dementia from 1943
which became worse a year later; that the marriage between Menciano and the deceased was
in violation of the legal provisions and requisites because of the latter͛s age, sickness, and
bombardment; that Menciano took advantage of the deceased͛s condition, forced the latter to
marry her by means of deceit and threat; and that the deceased was congenitally sterile and
impotent. Moreover, the defendants also filed a counterclaim for the sum of 286,000 in cash,
for jewels and certain properties which, as presumed, were retained and illegally disposed of by
Matilde Menciano.


(1) Was the marriage between the deceased Faustino Neri San Jose and Matilde Menciano
valid?
(2) Are the children Faustino Neri, Jr. and Carlo Magno Neri the legitimate children of the
deceased Faustino Neri San Jose and Matilde Menciano?
(3) Did Matilde Menciano have in her possession and illegally disposed of the cash, jewels,
and certain properties aforementioned?

 

(1) Yes. The marriage between the two is evidenced by: the 2 applications for a marriage
license, dated September 28, 1944, the first one, signed by the deceased to marry
Menciano and the other one, signed by Menciano to marry the deceased; the certificate
for immediate issuance of marriage license applied for, signed by the Acting Local Civil
Registrar and the deceased and Menciano; the marriage contract signed by the
deceased and Menciano as contracting parties, Rev. Isaias Edralin as solemnizing officer,
and the witnesses L. B. Castaños and Samson Pañgan. The 4 documents are official and
public; there validity can be successfully assailed only by strong, clear, and convincing
oral testimony. In this case, the oral evidence presented by the defendants is not
convincing so as to declare the said marriage invalid. A mere glance at the signatures of
the deceased in the aforesaid documents will convince anyone that they could not have
been written by a man who is almost unconscious and physically and intellectually
incapacitated, as the defendants͛ witnesses represent him to have been. Also, the tests
pertaining to testamentary capacity were applied to show the capacity to contract
marriage of the deceased. Although the said doctrine relates to testamentary capacity,
there is no reason why is should not be applied to the capacity to contract marriage,
which requires the same mental condition. Thus, the court did not err in declaring valid
the marriage of the deceased and Menciano.
(2) Yes. Faustino Neri, Jr. is a legitimate child of the deceased and Menciano. The requisite
for potency being met, the necessary conclusion is that the child Faustino Neri, Jr., is
conclusively presumed to be the legitimate son of the deceased with Menciano in lawful
wedlock.
No. The court declared that Carlo Magno Neri has not been acknowledged as a natural
child and, consequently, cannot be legitimized by the subsequent marriage of his
parents.
(3) No. After a careful and exhaustive review of evidence, the trial court correctly reached
the conclusion that such allegation has not been substantiated. The testimonies of
mother and son- Paz Neri San Jose and Rodolfo Pelaez regarding the sum of money are
contradictory. Moreover, Clotilde Galarrita de Labitad͛s testimony is unbelievable. With
regard to the jewels, no satisfactory evidence was presented to prove that Menciano
misappropriated them.