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[A M. No. P-94-1054.

March 11, 2003] against him is but a malicious scheme concocted by complainant to
harass him.
EDWIN A. ACEBEDO, petitioner, vs. EDDIE P. ARQUERO, respondent.
Additionally, respondent claimed that sometime in 1991,
DECISION complainant likewise instituted a criminal complaint against him for
adultery which was, however, dismissed after preliminary
CARPIO MORALES, J.: investigation.

By letter-complaint[1] dated June 1, 1994, Edwin A. Acebedo Finally, respondent claimed that complainant himself had been
charged Eddie P. Arquero, Process Server of the Municipal Trial cohabiting with another woman.
Court (MTC) of Brookes Point, Palawan for immorality.
By Resolution of February 6, 1995, this Court referred the case to
Complainant alleged that his wife, Dedje Irader Acebedo, a former then Executive Judge Filomeno A. Vergara of the Regional Trial Court
stenographer of the MTC Brookes Point, and respondent unlawfully of Puerto Princesa, Palawan for investigation, report and
and scandalously cohabited as husband and wife at Bancudo Pulot, recommendation.[9] Judge Vergara having retired during the
Brookes Point, Palawan as a result of which a girl, Desiree May pendency of the investigation, the case was referred to Executive
Irader Arquero, was born to the two on May 21, 1989. Attached to Judge Nelia Y. Fernandez who was, by Resolution of August 16, 2000,
the letter-complaint was the girls Baptismal Certificate[2] reflecting directed by this Court to (1) verify the authenticity of the marriage
the names of respondent and Dedje Irader as her parents. Also certificate and baptismal certificate submitted by complainant; (2)
attached to the letter-complainant was a copy of a marriage conduct an investigation as to the information contained in the said
contract[3] showing that complainant and Dedje Irader contracted baptismal certificate and the circumstances under which it was
marriage on July 10, 1979. issued, and such other verifiable matters relevant to the charge; and
(3) submit her report and recommendation thereon.[10]
By Resolution of September 7, 1994, this Court required respondent
to file an answer to the complaint.[4] In her Investigation Report of February 12, 2001, Judge Fernandez
recommends that the complaint be dismissed for failure to adduce
By his Answer[5] of October 6, 1994, respondent vehemently denied adequate evidence to show that respondent is guilty of the charge.
the charge of immorality, claiming that it is just a (sic) mere [11] The report focuses on the non-appearance of complainant and
harassment and a product of complainants hatred and extreme Dedje Irader Acebedo, thusly:
jealousy to (sic) his wife.[6] Attached to the answer were the
September 27, 1987 affidavit of desistance[7] executed by xxx
complainant in favor of his wife with respect to an administrative
complaint he had much earlier filed against her, and complainants Having appeared that the complainant Edwin Acebedo and Dedjie
sworn statement[8] dated September 13, 1994 acknowledging Irader who per reliable information cannot be notified for reason
paternity of a child born out of wedlock, which documents, that subject persons are no longer residing in their given address
respondent claims, support his contention that the complaint filed and their whereabouts is unknown as shown by the return of the
subpoena dated November 7, 2000, and the inadmissibility of the
baptismal certificate alleging therein that the father of Desiree xxx shall at times (sic) respect the rights of others, and shall refrain
Arquero is the respondent herein, and for the reason that the same from doing acts contrary to law, good morals, good customs, public
had not been testified to by Dedje Irader who is the informant of the policy, public order, public safety and public interest. Moreover,
entries contained therein, this Court had not received adequate respondent cannot seek refuge and sling mud at complainant for
proof or relevant evidence to support a conclusion that respondent having executed an Affidavit dated September 13, 1994,
herein could be held liable of the charge imputed against him, acknowledging that he bore a woman other than his wife, a child. It
hence, he should be absolved from any liability. would seem that respondent would want to apply the principle of in
pari delicto in the instant case. Respondent would have it appear
x x x[12] (Quoted verbatim). that a married man with an extra-marital relation and an illegitimate
child is precluded from complaining if his wife enters into a
By Resolution of April 25, 2001, this Court referred the case to the relationship with another man.
Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) for evaluation, report and
recommendation. Second, the records show that an Affidavit of Desistance was
executed by herein complainant. However, a cursory reading of said
By Memorandum of December 12, 2001, the OCA, disagreeing with document reveals that it favors only Dedje Irader Acebedo and not
the recommendation of the Investigating Judge that the case should herein respondent. Interestingly, the date of said affidavit is 2
be dismissed, recommends that respondent be held guilty of September 1987. Respondent had the temerity to claim it as
immorality and that he be suspended from office for a period of one evidence in his favor when the instant complaint was only filed
(1) year without pay.[13] Thus the OCA ratiocinates: sometime in 1994.

. . . [R]espondent admitted the fact that for eight (8) to nine (9) Third, when respondent was asked by the investigating judge if he
months, he a single man maintained relations with Dedje Irader attended the baptism of the daughter of Dedje Irader Acebedo, his
Acebedo, wife of herein complainant, attended with sexual union former co-employee and ex-intimate friend, he answered, I did not.
(TSN dated 23 November 2000, pp. 14-15). Based on his testimony, Im not sure the child is mine. From his answer, we could infer that
we observed that respondent justified his having a relationship with respondent did not categorically rule out the possibility that said
Dedje I. Acebedo solely on the written document purportedly a child might be her (sic) daughter, only that he is doubtful of her
Kasunduan or agreement entered into by complainant and his wife, paternity.
consenting to and giving freedom to either of them to seek any
partner and to live with him or her. Being a court employee x x x[14] (Emphasis supplied; underscoring in the original).
respondent should have known that said agreement was void
despite it having been notarized. Even granting that Dedjie I. While complainant appears to have lost interest in the prosecution
Acebedo was separated from her husband during their short lived of the present case, the same does not ipso facto warrant its
relation, to hold on to said scandalous agreement and enter an dismissal. Once administrative charges have been filed, this Court
immoral relationship with a very much married woman and a co- may not be divested of its jurisdiction to investigate and ascertain
court-employee at that is highly improper. It is contrary to the Code the truth thereof.[15] For it has an interest in the conduct of those
of Conduct and Ethical Standards of Public Officials and Employees in the service of the Judiciary and in improving the delivery of justice
which provides that public employees of which respondent is one, to the people, and its efforts in that direction may not be derailed by
the complainants desistance from prosecuting the case he initiated. Q: When you said you have (sic) a short lived relationship from 8 to
[16] 9 months, you mean to tell the Court that you have (sic) a sexual
union with this woman?
On the merits of the case, the entry of respondents name as father
in the baptismal certificate of Desiree May I. Arquero cannot be A: Yes maam.[19] (Emphasis and underscoring supplied).
used to prove her filiation and, therefore, cannot be availed of to
imply that respondent maintained illicit relations with Dedje Irader Respondent justified his pursuing a relationship with complainants
Acebedo. A canonical certificate is conclusive proof only of the wife with the spouses having priorly entered into a settlement with
baptism administered, in conformity with the rites of the Catholic respect to their marriage which was embodied in a Kasunduan, the
Church by the priest who baptized the child, but it does not prove pertinent portions of which are reproduced hereunder:
the veracity of the declarations and statements contained therein
which concern the relationship of the person baptized.[17] It merely Kami, EDWIN AGUINALDO ACEBEDO at DEDJE IRADER ACEBEDO,
attests to the fact which gave rise to its issue, and the date thereof, may sapat na taong gulang, mag-asawa, Pilipino, at kasalukuyang
to wit, the fact of the administration of the sacrament on the date nakatira sa Poblacion, Brokes (sic) Point, Palawan, ay malayang
stated, but not the truth of the statements therein as to the nagkasundo ng mga sumusunod:
parentage of the child baptized.[18]
1. Na, yayamang hindi kami magkasundo bilang mag-asawa, at
By respondents own admission, however, he had an illicit magiging miserable lamang ang aming mga buhay kung aming
relationship with complainants wife: ipagpapatuloy pa ang aming pagsasama bilang mag-asawa, kami ay
malayang nagkasundo ngayon na maghiwalay na bilang mag-asawa,
Q: During the formal offer of the possible nature of your testimony at ang bawat isa sa amin ay may kalayaan na humanap na ng
before the Court by your counsel, did the Court get it correct that kaniyang makakasama sa buhay bilang asawa at hindi kami
there has been a short lived relation between you and Dedgie maghahabol sa isat isa sa alin pa mang hukuman;
Irader, am I correct in my impression?
x x x[20] (Italics supplied).
A: During that time that I have heard she and her husband have
parted ways already, I jokingly informed her that she is now being Respondents justification fails. Being an employee of the judiciary,
separated, she is now single and is free to have some commitment. respondent ought to have known that the Kasunduan had absolutely
So, I courted her and she accepted me, so we have a short lived no force and effect on the validity of the marriage between
relation and after that we parted ways. complainant and his wife. Article 1 of the Family Code provides that
marriage is an inviolable social institution whose nature,
Q: For how long was this short lived relation you made mention a consequences, and incidents are governed by law and not subject to
while ago? stipulation. It is an institution of public order or policy, governed by
rules established by law which cannot be made inoperative by the
A: May be (sic) about eight (8) to nine (9) months. stipulation of the parties.[21]
Republic Act 6713, otherwise known as the Code of Conduct and months and one (1) day without pay with a STERN WARNING that
Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, enunciates the commission of the same or similar acts shall be dealt with severely.
States policy of promoting a high standard of ethics and utmost
responsibility in the public service.[22] Let a copy of this decision be filed in the personal record of
respondent.
Although every office in the government service is a public trust, no
position exacts a greater demand for moral righteousness and SO ORDERED.
uprightness from an individual than in the judiciary.[23] That is why
this Court has firmly laid down exacting standards of morality and
decency expected of those in the service of the judiciary.[24] Their
conduct, not to mention behavior, is circumscribed with the heavy
burden of responsibility,[25] characterized by, among other things,
propriety and decorum so as to earn and keep the publics respect
and confidence in the judicial service.[26] It must be free from any
whiff of impropriety, not only with respect to their duties in the
judicial branch but also to their behavior outside the court as private
individuals.[27] There is no dichotomy of morality; court employees
are also judged by their private morals.[28]

Respondents act of having illicit relations with complainants wife is,


within the purview of Section 46 (5) of Subtitle A, Title I, Book V of
Executive Order No. 292, otherwise known as the Administrative
Code of 1987, a disgraceful and immoral conduct.

Under Rule IV, Section 52A (15) of the Revised Uniform Rules on
Administrative Cases in the Civil Service, an immoral conduct is
classified as a grave offense which calls for a penalty of suspension
for six (6) months and one (1) day to one (1) year for the first
offense, and dismissal is imposed for the second offense.

Since the present charge of immorality against respondent


constitutes his first offense, his suspension for six (6) months and
one (1) day is in order.

WHEREFORE, this Court finds respondent Eddie P. Arquero, Process


Server of the Municipal Trial Court of Brookes Point, Palawan,
GUILTY of immorality, for which he is hereby SUSPENDED for six (6)
RODOLFO A. ESPINOSA and A.C. No. 9081 Before the Court is a complaint for disbarment filed by Rodolfo A. Espinosa
(Espinosa) and Maximo A. Glindo (Glindo) against Atty. Julieta A. Omaa
MAXIMO A. GLINDO, (Omaa).

Complainants, Present:

The Antecedent Facts

CARPIO, J., Chairperson,

BRION, Complainants Espinosa and Glindo charged Omaa with violation of her
oath as a lawyer, malpractice, and gross misconduct in office.
- versus - SERENO,

REYES, and
Complainants alleged that on 17 November 1997, Espinosa and his wife
PERLAS-BERNABE,* JJ. Elena Marantal (Marantal) sought Omaas legal advice on whether they
could legally live separately and dissolve their marriage solemnized on 23
ATTY. JULIETA A. OMAA, Promulgated: July 1983. Omaa then prepared a document entitled Kasunduan Ng
Paghihiwalay (contract) which reads:
Respondent. October 12, 2011

x- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - x
REPUBLIKA NG PILIPINAS

BAYAN NG GUMACA

LALAWIGAN NG QUEZON
DECISION

KASUNDUAN NG PAGHIHIWALAY
CARPIO, J.:

KAMI, ELENA MARANTAL AT RODOLFO ESPINOSA, mga Filipino, may sapat


The Case na gulang, dating legal na mag-asawa, kasalukuyang naninirahan at may
pahatirang sulat sa Brgy. Buensoceso, Gumaca, Quezon, at COMELEC,
Intramuros, Manila ayon sa pagkakasunod-sunod, matapos makapanumpa
ng naaayon sa batas ay nagpapatunay ng nagkasundo ng mga sumusunod:
7. Na lahat ng maaaring maipundar ng sino man sa amin dalawa sa mga
panahong darating ay aming mga sari-sariling pag-aari na at hindi na
pinagsamahan o conjugal.
1. Na nais na naming maghiwalay at magkanya-kanya ng aming mga
buhay ng walang pakialaman, kung kayat bawat isa sa amin ay maaari ng
humanap ng makakasama sa buhay;
BILANG PATUNAY ng lahat ng ito, nilagdaan namin ito ngayong ika-17 ng
2. Na ang aming mga anak na sina Ariel John Espinosa, 14 na taong Nobyembre, 1997, dito sa Gumaca, Quezon.
gulang; Aiza Espinosa, 11 taong gulang at Aldrin Espinosa, 10 taong gulang
ay namili na kung kanino sasama sa aming dalawa. Si Ariel John at Aiza
Espinosa ay sasama sa kanilang ama, Rodolfo Espinosa, at ang bunso,
Aldrin Espinosa at sasama naman sa ina na si Elena;

3. Na dahil sina Ariel John at Aiza ay nagsisipag-aral sa kasalukuyan sila (Sgd) (Sgd)
ay pansamantalang mananatili sa kanilang ina, habang tinatapos ang
kanilang pag-aaral. Sa pasukan sila ay maaari ng isama ng ama, sa lugar ELENA MARANTAL RODOLFO ESPINOSA
kung saan siya ay naninirahan;
Nagkasundo Nagkasundo
4. Na ang mga bata ay maaaring dalawin ng sino man sa aming dalawa
tuwing may pagkakataon;

5. Na magbibigay ng buwanang gastusin o suporta ang ama kay Aldrin at PINATUNAYAN AT PINANUMPAAN dito sa harap ko ngayong ika-17 ng
ang kakulangan sa mga pangangailangan nito ay pupunan ng ina; Nobyembre, 1997, dito sa Gumaca, Quezon

6. Na lahat ng mga kasangkapan sa bahay tulad ng T.V., gas stove, mga


kagamitan sa kusina ay aking (Rodolfo) ipinagkakaloob kay Elena at hindi na
ako interesado dito;

ATTY. JULIETA A. OMAA

Notary Public

PTR No. 3728169; 1-10-97

Gumaca, Quezon
Doc. No. 482; Espinosa later submitted a Karagdagang Salaysay stating that Omaa arrived
at his residence together with a girl whom he later recognized as the
Page No. 97; person who notarized the contract. He further stated that Omaa was not in
her office when the contract was notarized.
Book No. XI;

Series of 1997.
The Decision of the Commission on Bar Discipline

Complainants alleged that Marantal and Espinosa, fully convinced of the


validity of the contract dissolving their marriage, started implementing its In its Report and Recommendation1 dated 6 February 2007, the IBP-CBD
terms and conditions. However, Marantal eventually took custody of all stated that Espinosas desistance did not put an end to the proceedings.
their children and took possession of most of the property they acquired The IBP-CBD found that Omaa violated Rule 1.01, Canon 1 of the Code of
during their union. Professional Responsibility which provides that a lawyer shall not engage in
unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct. The IBP-CBD stated that
Omaa had failed to exercise due diligence in the performance of her
function as a notary public and to comply with the requirements of the law.
Espinosa sought the advice of his fellow employee, complainant Glindo, a The IBP-CBD noted the inconsistencies in the defense of Omaa who first
law graduate, who informed him that the contract executed by Omaa was claimed that it was her part-time staff who notarized the contract but then
not valid. Espinosa and Glindo then hired the services of a lawyer to file a later claimed that it was her former maid who notarized it. The IBP-CBD
complaint against Omaa before the Integrated Bar of the Philippines found:
Commission on Bar Discipline (IBP-CBD).

Omaa alleged that she knows Glindo but she does not personally know
Espinosa. She denied that she prepared the contract. She admitted that Respondent truly signed the questioned document, yet she still disclaimed
Espinosa went to see her and requested for the notarization of the contract its authorship, thereby revealing much more her propensity to lie and
but she told him that it was illegal. Omaa alleged that Espinosa returned make deceit, which she is deserving [of] disciplinary sanction or
the next day while she was out of the office and managed to persuade her disbarment.
part-time office staff to notarize the document. Her office staff forged her
signature and notarized the contract. Omaa presented Marantals
Sinumpaang Salaysay (affidavit) to support her allegations and to show that
the complaint was instigated by Glindo. Omaa further presented a letter of The IBP-CBD recommended that Omaa be suspended for one year from the
apology from her staff, Arlene Dela Pea, acknowledging that she notarized practice of law and for two years as a notary public.
the document without Omaas knowledge, consent, and authority.
In a Resolution dated 19 September 2007, the IBP Board of Governors and obligations, authorizing each other to remarry, and renouncing any
adopted and approved the recommendation of the IBP-CBD. action that they might have against each other;6 preparing a document
authorizing a married couple who had been separated for nine years to
marry again, renouncing the right of action which each may have against
the other;7 and preparing a document declaring the conjugal partnership
Omaa filed a motion for reconsideration. dissolved.8

In a Resolution dated 26 June 2011, the IBP Board of Governors denied We cannot accept Omaas allegation that it was her part-time office staff
Omaas motion for reconsideration. who notarized the contract. We agree with the IBP-CBD that Omaa herself
notarized the contract. Even if it were true that it was her part-time staff
The Issue who notarized the contract, it only showed Omaas negligence in doing her
notarial duties. We reiterate that a notary public is personally responsible
for the entries in his notarial register and he could not relieve himself of
this responsibility by passing the blame on his secretaries9 or any member
The sole issue in this case is whether Omaa violated the Canon of of his staff.
Professional Responsibility in the notarization of Marantal and Espinosas
Kasunduan Ng Paghihiwalay.
We likewise agree with the IBP-CBD that in preparing and notarizing a void
document, Omaa violated Rule 1.01, Canon 1 of the Code of Professional
The Ruling of this Court Responsibility which provides that [a] lawyer shall not engage in unlawful,
dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct. Omaa knew fully well that the
We adopt the findings and recommendation of the IBP-CBD. Kasunduan Ng Paghihiwalay has no legal effect and is against public policy.
Therefore, Omaa may be suspended from office as an attorney for breach
of the ethics of the legal profession as embodied in the Code of
This case is not novel. This Court has ruled that the extrajudicial dissolution
Professional Responsibility.10
of the conjugal partnership without judicial approval is void.2 The Court
has also ruled that a notary public should not facilitate the disintegration of
a marriage and the family by encouraging the separation of the spouses
and extrajudicially dissolving the conjugal partnership,3 which is exactly WHEREFORE, we SUSPEND Atty. Julieta A. Omaa from the practice of law
what Omaa did in this case. for ONE YEAR. We REVOKE Atty. Omaas notarial commission, if still existing,
and SUSPEND her as a notary public for TWO YEARS.
Let a copy of this Decision be attached to Atty. Omaas personal record in
the Office of the Bar Confidant. Let a copy of this Decision be also furnished
In Selanova v. Judge Mendoza,4 the Court cited a number of cases where
to all chapters of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and to all courts in
the lawyer was sanctioned for notarizing similar documents as the contract
the land.
in this case, such as: notarizing a document between the spouses which
permitted the husband to take a concubine and allowed the wife to live
SO ORDERED.
with another man, without opposition from each other;5 ratifying a
document entitled Legal Separation where the couple agreed to be
separated from each other mutually and voluntarily, renouncing their rights
During the existence of Tecla and Eustaquio’s union, they begot four (4)
children, namely: Climaco H. Avenido, born on 30 March 1943; Apolinario
H. Avenido, born on 23 August 1948; Editha A. Ausa, born on 26 July 1950,
and Eustaquio H. Avenido, Jr., born on 15 December 1952. Sometime in
1954, Eustaquio left his family and his whereabouts was not known. In
1958, Tecla and her children were informed that Eustaquio was in Davao
City living with another woman by the name of Buenaventura Sayson who
later died in 1977 without any issue.
G.R. No. 173540 January 22, 2014
In 1979, Tecla learned that her husband Eustaquio got married to another
PEREGRINA MACUA VDA. DE AVENIDO, Petitioner, woman by the name of Peregrina, which marriage she claims must be
vs. declared null and void for being bigamous – an action she sought to protect
TECLA HOYBIA AVENIDO, Respondent. the rights of her children over the properties acquired by Eustaquio.

DECISION On 12 April 1999, Peregrina filed her answer to the complaint with
counterclaim,4 essentially averring that she is the legal surviving spouse of
PEREZ, J.: Eustaquio who died on 22 September 1989 in Davao City, their marriage
having been celebrated on 30 March 1979 at St. Jude Parish in Davao City.
This is a Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45.ofthe Rules of She also contended that the case was instituted to deprive her of the
Court, assailing the 31 August 2005 Decision1 of the Court of Appeals (CA) properties she owns in her own right and as an heir of Eustaquio.
in CA-G.R. CV No. 79444, which reversed the 25 March 2003 Decision2 of
the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 8 of Davao City, in a complaint for Trial ensued.
Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Marriage· docketed as Civil Case No. 26,
908-98. Tecla presented testimonial and documentary evidence consisting of:

The Facts 1) Testimonies of Adelina Avenido-Ceno (Adelina), Climaco Avenido


(Climaco) and Tecla herself to substantiate her alleged prior existing and
This case involves a contest between two women both claiming to have valid marriage with (sic) Eustaquio;
been validly married to the same man, now deceased.
2) Documentary evidence such as the following:
Respondent Tecla Hoybia Avenido (Tecla) instituted on 11 November 1998,
a Complaint for Declaration of Nullity of Marriage against Peregrina Macua a. Certification of Loss/Destruction of Record of Marriage from 1900 to
Vda. de Avenido (Peregrina) on the ground that she (Tecla), is the lawful 1944 issued by the Office of the Civil Registrar, Municipality of Talibon,
wife of the deceased Eustaquio Avenido (Eustaquio). In her complaint, Bohol;5
Tecla alleged that her marriage to Eustaquio was solemnized on 30
September 1942 in Talibon, Bohol in rites officiated by the Parish Priest of b. Certification of Submission of a copy of Certificate of Marriage to the
the said town. According to her, the fact of their marriage is evidenced by a Office of the Civil Registrar General, National Statistics Office (NSO), R.
Marriage Certificate recorded with the Office of the Local Civil Registrar Magsaysay Blvd., Sta Mesa, Manila;6
(LCR) of Talibon, Bohol. However, due to World War II, records were
destroyed. Thus, only a Certification3 was issued by the LCR.
c. Certification that Civil Registry records of births, deaths and marriages common law relation with one Tecla Hoybia with whom he had four (4)
that were actually filed in the Office of the Civil Registrar General, NSO children namely: Climaco, Tiburcio, Editha and Eustaquio, Jr., all surnamed
Manila, started only in 1932;7 Avenido;18

d. Certification that Civil Registry records submitted to the Office of the 3) Letter of Atty. Edgardo T. Mata dated 15 April 2002, addressed to the
Civil Registrar General, NSO, from 1932 to the early part of 1945, were Civil Registrar of the Municipality of Alegria, Surigao del Norte;19 and
totally destroyed during the liberation of Manila;8
4) Certification dated 25 April 2002 issued by Colita P. Umipig, in her
e. Certification of Birth of Apolinario Avenido;9 capacity as the Civil Registrar of Alegria, Surigao del Norte.20

f. Certification of Birth of Eustaquio Avenido, Jr.;10 In addition, as basis for the counterclaim, Peregrina averred that the case
was initiated in bad faith so as to deprive her of the properties she owns in
g. Certification of Birth of Editha Avenido;11 her own right and as an heir of Eustaquio; hence, her entitlement to
damages and attorney’s fees.
h. Certification of Marriage between Eustaquio Sr., and Tecla issued by the
Parish Priest of Talibon, Bohol on 30 September 1942;12 On 25 March 2003, the RTC rendered a Decision21 denying Tecla’s petition,
as well as Peregrina’s counter-claim. The dispositive portion thereof reads:
i. Certification that record of birth from 1900 to 1944 were destroyed by
Second World War issued by the Office of the Municipal Registrar of For The Foregoing, the petition for the "DECLARATION OF NULLITY OF
Talibon, Bohol, that they cannot furnish as requested a true transcription MARRIAGE" filed by petitioner TECLA HOYBIA AVENIDO against respondent
from the Register of Birth of Climaco Avenido;13 PEREGRINA MACUA is hereby DENIED.

j. Certificate of Baptism of Climaco indicating that he was born on 30 March The "COUNTERCLAIM" filed by respondent PEREGRINA MACUA against
1943 to spouses Eustaquio and Tecla;14 petitioner TECLA HOYBIA AVENIDO is hereby DISMISSED.22

k. Electronic copy of the Marriage Contract between Eustaquio and Not convinced, Tecla appealed to the CA raising as error the trial court’s
Peregrina.15 alleged disregard of the evidence on the existence of her marriage to
Eustaquio.
On the other hand, Peregrina testified on, among others, her marriage to
Eustaquio that took place in Davao City on 3 March 1979; her life as a wife In its 31 August 2005 Decision,23 the CA ruled in favor of Tecla by declaring
and how she took care of Eustaquio when he already had poor health, as the validity of her marriage to Eustaquio, while pronouncing on the other
well as her knowledge that Tecla is not the legal wife, but was once a hand, the marriage between Peregrina and Eustaquio to be bigamous, and
common law wife of Eustaquio.16 Peregrina likewise set forth thus, null and void. The CA ruled:
documentary evidence to substantiate her allegations and to prove her
claim for damages, to wit: The court a quo committed a reversible error when it disregarded (1) the
testimonies of [Adelina], the sister of EUSTAQUIO who testified that she
1) Marriage Contract17 between Pregrina and the late Eustaquio showing personally witnessed the wedding celebration of her older brother
the date of marriage on 3 March 1979; EUSTAQUIO and [Tecla] on 30 September 1942 at Talibon, Bohol; [Climaco],
the eldest son of EUSTAQUIO and [Tecla], who testified that his mother
2) Affidavit of Eustaquio executed on 22 March 1985 declaring himself as [Tecla] was married to his father, EUSTAQUIO, and [Tecla] herself; and (2)
single when he contracted marriage with the petitioner although he had a the documentary evidence mentioned at the outset. It should be stressed
that the due execution and the loss of the marriage contract, both records from 1932 up to early part of 1945 were totally destroyed during
constituting the condition sine qua non, for the introduction of secondary the liberation of Manila on February 4, 1945. What are presently filed in
evidence of its contents, were shown by the very evidence the trial court this office are records from the latter part of 1945 to date, except for the
has disregarded.24 city of Manila which starts from 1952. Hence, this office has no way of
verifying and could not issue as requested, certified true copy of the
Peregrina now questions the said ruling assigning as error, among others, records of marriage between [Eustaquio] and [Tecla], alleged to have been
the failure of the CA to appreciate the validity of her marriage to Eustaquio. married on 30th September 1942, in Talibon, Bohol.27
For its part, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), in its Memorandum25
dated 5 June 2008, raises the following legal issues: In the absence of the marriage contract, the trial court did not give
credence to the testimony of Tecla and her witnesses as it considered the
1. Whether or not the court can validly rely on the "presumption of same as mere self-serving assertions. Superior significance was given to the
marriage" to overturn the validity of a subsequent marriage; fact that Tecla could not even produce her own copy of the said proof of
marriage. Relying on Section 3 (a) and Section 5, Rule 130 of the Rules of
2. Whether or not secondary evidence may be considered and/or taken Court, the trial court declared that Tecla failed to prove the existence of the
cognizance of, without proof of the execution or existence and the cause of first marriage.
the unavailability of the best evidence, the original document;
The CA, on the other hand, concluded that there was a presumption of
and lawful marriage between Tecla and Eustaquio as they deported themselves
as husband and wife and begot four (4) children. Such presumption,
3. Whether or not a Certificate of Marriage issued by the church has a supported by documentary evidence consisting of the same Certifications
probative value to prove the existence of a valid marriage without the disregarded by the trial court, as well as the testimonial evidence especially
priest who issued the same being presented to the witness stand.26 that of Adelina Avenido-Ceno, created, according to the CA, sufficient proof
of the fact of marriage. Contrary to the trial court’s ruling, the CA found
Our Ruling that its appreciation of the evidence presented by Tecla is well in accord
with Section 5, Rule 130 of the Rules of Court.
Essentially, the question before us is whether or not the evidence
presented during the trial proves the existence of the marriage of Tecla to We uphold the reversal by the CA of the decision of the trial court. Quite
Eustaquio. recently, in Añonuevo v. Intestate Estate of Rodolfo G. Jalandoni,28 we said,
citing precedents, that:
The trial court, in ruling against Tecla’s claim of her prior valid marriage to
Eustaquio relied on Tecla’s failure to present her certificate of marriage to While a marriage certificate is considered the primary evidence of a marital
Eustaquio. Without such certificate, the trial court considered as useless union, it is not regarded as the sole and exclusive evidence of marriage.
the certification of the Office of the Civil Registrar of Talibon, Bohol, that it Jurisprudence teaches that the fact of marriage may be proven by relevant
has no more records of marriages during the period 1900 to 1944. The evidence other than the marriage certificate. Hence, even a person’s birth
same thing was said as regards the Certification issued by the National certificate may be recognized as competent evidence of the marriage
Statistics Office of Manila. The trial court observed: between his parents.

Upon verification from the NSO, Office of the Civil Registrar General, The error of the trial court in ruling that without the marriage certificate,
Manila, it, likewise, issued a Certification (Exhibit "B") stating that: no other proof of the fact can be accepted, has been aptly delineated in
Vda de Jacob v. Court of Appeals.29 Thus:
It should be stressed that the due execution and the loss of the marriage other investigation which is sufficient to satisfy the court that the
contract, both constituting the conditio sine qua non for the introduction instrument [has] indeed [been] lost."
of secondary evidence of its contents, were shown by the very evidence
they have disregarded. They have thus confused the evidence to show due In the present case, due execution was established by the testimonies of
execution and loss as "secondary" evidence of the marriage. In Hernaez v. Adela Pilapil, who was present during the marriage ceremony, and of
Mcgrath, the Court clarified this misconception thus: petitioner herself as a party to the event. The subsequent loss was shown
by the testimony and the affidavit of the officiating priest, Monsignor
x x x [T]he court below was entirely mistaken in holding that parol evidence Yllana, as relevant, competent and admissible evidence. Since the due
of the execution of the instrument was barred. The court confounded the execution and the loss of the marriage contract were clearly shown by the
execution and the contents of the document. It is the contents, x x x which evidence presented, secondary evidence–testimonial and documentary–
may not be proven by secondary evidence when the may be admitted to prove the fact of marriage.30

instrument itself is accessible. Proofs of the execution are not dependent As correctly stated by the appellate court:
on the existence or non-existence of the document, and, as a matter of
fact, such proofs of the contents: due execution, besides the loss, has to be In the case at bench, the celebration of marriage between [Tecla] and
shown as foundation for the inroduction of secondary evidence of the EUSTAQUIO was established by the testimonial evidence furnished by
contents. [Adelina] who appears to be present during the marriage ceremony, and by
[Tecla] herself as a living witness to the event. The loss was shown by the
xxxx certifications issued by the NSO and LCR of Talibon, Bohol. These are
relevant, competent and admissible evidence. Since the due execution and
Evidence of the execution of a document is, in the last analysis, necessarily the loss of the marriage contract were clearly shown by the evidence
collateral or primary. It generally consists of parol testimony or extrinsic presented, secondary evidence – testimonial and documentary – may be
papers. Even when the document is actually produced, its authencity is not admitted to prove the fact of marriage. In PUGEDA v. TRIAS, the
necessarily, if at all, determined from its face or recital of its contents but
by parol evidence. At the most, failure to produce the document, when Supreme Court held that "marriage may be proven by any competent and
available, to establish its execution may effect the weight of the evidence relevant evidence. The testimony by one of the parties to the marriage or
presented but not the admissibility of such evidence. by one of the witnesses to the marriage has been held to be admissible to
prove the fact of marriage. The person who officiated at the solemnization
The Court of Appeals, as well as the trial court, tried to justify its stand on is also competent to testify as an eyewitness to the fact of marriage."
this issue by relying on Lim Tanhu v. Ramolete. But even there, we said that
"marriage may be prove[n] by other competent evidence. xxxx

Truly, the execution of a document may be proven by the parties The court a quo committed a reversible error when it disregarded (1) the
themselves, by the swearing officer, by witnesses who saw and recognized testimonies of [Adelina], the sister of EUSTAQUIO who testified that she
the signatures of the parties; or even by those to whom the parties have personally witnessed the wedding celebration of her older brother
previously narrated the execution thereof. The Court has also held that EUSTAQUIO and [Tecla] on 30 September 1942 at Talibon, Bohol; [Climaco],
"[t]he loss may be shown by any person who [knows] the fact of its loss, or the eldest son of EUSTAQUIO and [Tecla], who testified that his mother
by any one who ha[s] made, in the judgment of the court, a sufficient [Tecla] was married to his father, EUSTAQUIO, and [Tecla] herself; and (2)
examination in the place or places where the document or papers of the documentary evidence mentioned at the outset. It should be stressed
similar character are usually kept by the person in whose custody the that the due execution and the loss of the marriage contract, both
document lost was, and has been unable to find it; or who has made any constituting the condition sine qua non for the introduction of secondary
evidence of its contents, were shown by the very evidence the trial court
has disregarded.31

The starting point then, is the presumption of marriage.

As early as the case of Adong v. Cheong Seng Gee,32 this Court has
elucidated on the rationale behind the presumption:

The basis of human society throughout the civilized world is that of


marriage.1âwphi1 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.

In the case at bar, the establishment of the fact of marriage was completed
by the testimonies of Adelina, Climaco and Tecla; the unrebutted the
certifications of marriage issued by the parish priest of the Most Holy
Trinity Cathedral of Talibon, Bohol.

WHEREFORE, the Petition is DENIED and the assailed Decision of the Court
of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 79444 is AFFIRMED. The marriage between
petitioner Peregrina Macua Avenido and the deceased Eustaquio Avenido
is hereby declared NULL and VOID. No pronouncement as to costs.

SO ORDERED.
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
G.R. No. 198780 October 16, 2013 schedule. After the pre-trial, hearing on the merits ensued.

REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, Petitioner, Ruling of the RTC


vs.
LIBERTY D. ALBIOS, Respondent. In its April 25, 2008 Decision,5 the RTC declared the marriage void ab initio,
the dispositive portion of which reads:
DECISION
WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered declaring
MENDOZA, J.: the marriage of Liberty Albios and Daniel Lee Fringer as void from the very
beginning. As a necessary consequence of this pronouncement, petitioner
This is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules t of shall cease using the surname of respondent as she never acquired any
Court assailing the September 29, 2011 Decision1 of the Court of Appeals right over it and so as to avoid a misimpression that she remains the wife
(CA), in CA-G.R. CV No. 95414, which affirmed the April 25, 2008Decision2 of respondent.
of the Regional Trial Court, Imus, Cavite (RTC). declaring the marriage of
Daniel Lee Fringer (Fringer) and respondent Liberty Albios (A/bios) as void xxxx
from the beginning.
SO ORDERED.6
The facts
The RTC was of the view that the parties married each other for
On October 22, 2004, Fringer, an American citizen, and Albios were married convenience only. Giving credence to the testimony of Albios, it stated that
before Judge Ofelia I. Calo of the Metropolitan Trial Court, Branch59, she contracted Fringer to enter into a marriage to enable her to acquire
Mandaluyong City (MeTC), as evidenced by a Certificate of Marriage with American citizenship; that in consideration thereof, she agreed to pay him
Register No. 2004-1588.3 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
On December 6, 2006, Albios filed with the RTC a petition for declaration of communicated with her; and that, in turn, she did not pay him the
nullity 4 of her marriage with Fringer. She alleged that immediately after $2,000.00 because he never processed her petition for citizenship. The RTC,
their marriage, they separated and never lived as husband and wife thus, ruled that when marriage was entered into for a purpose other than
because they never really had any intention of entering into a married state the establishment of a conjugal and family life, such was a farce and should
or complying with any of their essential marital obligations. She described not be recognized from its inception.
their marriage as one made in jest and, therefore, null and void ab initio .
Petitioner Republic of the Philippines, represented by the Office of the
Summons was served on Fringer but he did not file his answer. On Solicitor General (OSG), filed a motion for reconsideration. The RTC issued
September 13, 2007, Albios filed a motion to set case for pre-trial and to the Order, 7 dated February 5, 2009, denying the motion for want of merit.
admit her pre-trial brief. The RTC ordered the Assistant Provincial 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 On October 29, 2012, Albios filed her Comment9 to the petition, reiterating
legally bound by it and used it only as a means to acquire American her stand that her marriage was similar to a marriage by way of jest and,
citizenship in consideration of $2,000.00. therefore, void from the beginning.

Not in conformity, the OSG filed an appeal before the CA. On March 22, 2013, the OSG filed its Reply10 reiterating its arguments in
its petition for review on certiorari.
Ruling of the CA
Ruling of the Court
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 The resolution of this case hinges on this sole question of law: Is a
CA stated that the parties clearly did not understand the nature and marriage, contracted for the sole purpose of acquiring American citizenship
consequence of getting married and that their case was similar to a in consideration of $2,000.00, void ab initio on the ground of lack of
marriage in jest. It further explained that the parties never intended to consent?
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 The Court resolves in the negative.
personal gain, that is, for Albios to obtain foreign citizenship, and for
Fringer, the consideration of $2,000.00. Before the Court delves into its ruling, It shall first examine the
phenomenon of marriage fraud for the purposes of immigration.
Hence, this petition.
Marriage Fraud in Immigration
Assignment of Error
The institution of marriage carries with it concomitant benefits. This has
THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED ON A QUESTION OF LAWWHEN IT HELD led to the development of marriage fraud for the sole purpose of availing
THAT A MARRIAGE CONTRACTED FOR THEPURPOSE OF OBTAINING of particular benefits. In the United States, marriages where a couple
FOREIGN CITIZENSHIP WAS DONEIN JEST, HENCE, LACKING IN THE marries only to achieve a particular purpose or acquire specific benefits,
ESSENTIAL ELEMENT OFCONSENT.8 have been referred to as "limited purpose" marriages.11 A common limited
purpose marriage is one entered into solely for the legitimization of a
The OSG argues that albeit the intention was for Albios to acquire child.12 Another, which is the subject of the present case, is for
American citizenship and for Fringer to be paid $2,000.00, both parties immigration purposes. Immigration law is usually concerned with the
freely gave their consent to the marriage, as they knowingly and willingly intention of the couple at the time of their marriage,13 and it attempts to
entered into that marriage and knew the benefits and consequences of filter out those who use marriage solely to achieve immigration status.14
being bound by it. According to the OSG, consent should be distinguished
from motive, the latter being inconsequential to the validity of marriage. In 1975, the seminal case of Bark v. Immigration and Naturalization
Service,15 established the principal test for determining the presence of
The OSG also argues that the present case does not fall within the concept marriage fraud in immigration cases. It ruled that a "marriage is a sham if
of a marriage in jest. The parties here intentionally consented to enter into the bride and groom did not intend to establish a life together at the time
a real and valid marriage, for if it were otherwise, the purpose of Albios to they were married. "This standard was modified with the passage of the
acquire American citizenship would be rendered futile. 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 Nullifying these limited purpose marriages for lack of consent has,
immigration laws.16 It must be noted, however, that this standard is used therefore, been recognized as problematic. The problem being that in
purely for immigration purposes and, therefore, does not purport to rule order to obtain an immigration benefit, a legal marriage is first
on the legal validity or existence of a marriage. necessary.22 At present, United States courts have generally denied
annulments involving" limited purpose" marriages where a couple married
The question that then arises is whether a marriage declared as a sham or only to achieve a particular purpose, and have upheld such marriages as
fraudulent for the limited purpose of immigration is also legally void and in valid.23
existent. The early cases on limited purpose marriages in the United States
made no definitive ruling. In 1946, the notable case of The Court now turns to the case at hand.

United States v. Rubenstein17 was promulgated, wherein in order to allow Respondent’s marriage not void
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 In declaring the respondent’s marriage void, the RTC ruled that when a
Judge Learned Hand, ruled that a marriage to convert temporary into marriage was entered into for a purpose other than the establishment of a
permanent permission to stay in the country was not a marriage, there conjugal and family life, such was a farce and should not be recognized
being no consent, to wit: from its inception. In its resolution denying the OSG’s motion for
reconsideration, the RTC went on to explain that the marriage was declared
x x x But, that aside, Spitz and Sandler were never married at all. Mutual void because the parties failed to freely give their consent to the marriage
consent is necessary to every contract; and no matter what forms or as they had no intention to be legally bound by it and used it only as a
ceremonies the parties may go through indicating the contrary, they do not means for the respondent to acquire American citizenship. Agreeing with
contract if they do not in fact assent, which may always be proved. x x x the RTC, the CA ruled that the essential requisite of consent was lacking. It
Marriage is no exception to this rule: a marriage in jest is not a marriage at held that the parties clearly did not understand the nature and
all. x x x It is quite true that a marriage without subsequent consummation consequence of getting married. As in the Rubenstein case, the CA found
will be valid; but if the spouses agree to a marriage only for the sake of the marriage to be similar to a marriage in jest considering that the parties
representing it as such to the outside world and with the understanding only entered into the marriage for the acquisition of American citizenship
that they will put an end to it as soon as it has served its purpose to in exchange of $2,000.00. They never intended to enter into a marriage
deceive, they have never really agreed to be married at all. They must contract and never intended to live as husband and wife or build a family.
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 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
(Italics supplied) 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.
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 Under said Article 2, for consent to be valid, it must be (1) freely given and
husband to gain entry to the United States, stating that a valid marriage (2) made in the presence of a solemnizing officer. A "freely given" consent
could not be avoided "merely because the marriage was entered into for a requires that the contracting parties willingly and deliberately enter into
limited purpose."20 The 1980 immigration case of Matter of McKee,21 the marriage. Consent must be real in the sense that it is not vitiated nor
further recognized that a fraudulent or sham marriage was intrinsically rendered defective by any of the vices of consent under Articles45 and 46
different from a non subsisting one. of the Family Code, such as fraud, force, intimidation, and undue
influence.24 Consent 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 The avowed purpose of marriage under Article 1 of the Family Code is for
understanding should not be affected by insanity, intoxication, drugs, or the couple to establish a conjugal and family life. The possibility that the
hypnotism.26 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
Based on the above, consent was not lacking between Albios and Fringer. accordance with law. The same Article 1 provides that the nature,
In fact, there was real consent because it was not vitiated nor rendered consequences, and incidents of marriage are governed by law and not
defective by any vice of consent. Their consent was also conscious and subject to stipulation. A marriage may, thus, only be declared void or
intelligent as they understood the nature and the beneficial and voidable under the grounds provided by law. There is no law that declares a
inconvenient consequences of their marriage, as nothing impaired their marriage void if it is entered into for purposes other than what the
ability to do so. That their consent was freely given is best evidenced by Constitution or law declares, such as the acquisition of foreign citizenship.
their conscious purpose of acquiring American citizenship through Therefore, so long as all the essential and formal requisites prescribed by
marriage. Such plainly demonstrates that they willingly and deliberately law are present, and it is not void or voidable under the grounds provided
contracted the marriage. There was a clear intention to enter into a real by law, it shall be declared valid.28
and valid marriage so as to fully comply with the requirements of an
application for citizenship. There was a full and complete understanding of Motives for entering into a marriage are varied and complex. The State
the legal tie that would be created between them, since it was that precise does not and cannot dictate on the kind of life that a couple chooses to
legal tie which was necessary to accomplish their goal. 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
In ruling that Albios’ marriage was void for lack of consent, the CA right to marital privacy allows married couples to structure their marriages
characterized such as akin to a marriage by way of jest. A marriage in jest is in almost any way they see fit, to live together or live apart, to have
a pretended marriage, legal in form but entered into as a joke, with no real children or no children, to love one another or not, and so on.30 Thus,
intention of entering into the actual marriage status, and with a clear marriages entered into for other purposes, limited or otherwise, such as
understanding that the parties would not be bound. The ceremony is not convenience, companionship, money, status, and title, provided that they
followed by any conduct indicating a purpose to enter into such a comply with all the legal requisites,31 are equally valid. Love, though the
relation.27 It is a pretended marriage not intended to be real and with no ideal consideration in a marriage contract, is not the only valid cause for
intention to create any legal ties whatsoever, hence, the absence of any marriage. Other considerations, not precluded by law, may validly support
genuine consent. Marriages in jest are void ab initio, not for vitiated, a marriage.
defective, or unintelligent consent, but for a complete absence of consent.
There is no genuine consent because the parties have absolutely no Although the Court views with disdain the respondent’s attempt to utilize
intention of being bound in any way or for any purpose. marriage for dishonest purposes, It cannot declare the marriage void.
Hence, though the respondent’s marriage may be considered a sham or
The respondent’s marriage is not at all analogous to a marriage in fraudulent for the purposes of immigration, it is not void ab initio and
jest.1âwphi1 Albios and Fringer had an undeniable intention to be bound in continues to be valid and subsisting.
order to create the very bond necessary to allow the respondent to acquire
American citizenship. Only a genuine consent to be married would allow Neither can their marriage be considered voidable on the ground of fraud
them to further their objective, considering that only a valid marriage can under Article 45 (3) of the Family Code. Only the circumstances listed
properly support an application for citizenship. There was, thus, an under Article 46 of the same Code may constitute fraud, namely, (1) non-
apparent intention to enter into the actual marriage status and to create a disclosure of a previous conv1ctwn involving moral turpitude; (2)
legal tie, albeit for a limited purpose. Genuine consent was, therefore, concealment by the wife of a pregnancy by another man; (3) concealment
clearly present. 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.
An information for violation of Article 352 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC),
as amended, was filed against the petitioner before the Municipal Trial
Court (MTC) of Batac, Ilocos Norte for allegedly performing an illegal
marriage ceremony.5

G.R. No. 182438 July 2, 2014 The petitioner entered the plea of "not guilty" to the crime charged on
arraignment.
RENE RONULO, Petitioner,
vs. The prosecution’s witnesses, Joseph and Mary Anne Yere, testified on the
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent. incidents of the ceremony. Joseph was the veil sponsor while Mary Anne
was the cord sponsor in the wedding. Mary Anne testified that she saw the
DECISION bride walk down the aisle. She also saw the couple exchange their wedding
rings, kiss each other, and sign a document.6 She heard the petitioner
BRION, J.: instructing the principal sponsors to sign the marriage contract. Thereafter,
they went to the reception, had lunch and took pictures. She saw the
Before the Court is a petition for review on certiorari1 filed by petitioner Fr. petitioner there. She also identified the wedding invitation given to her by
Rene Ronulo challenging the April 3, 2008 decision2 of the Court of Joey.7
Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR. No. 31028 which affirmed the decision of the
Regional Trial Court, (RTC) Branch 18, Batac, Ilocos Norte. Florida Umadac, the mother of Joey, testified that she heard the couple
declare during the ceremony that they take each other as husband and
The Factual Antecedents wife.8 Days after the wedding, she went to the municipal local civil
registrar of San Nicolas, Ilocos Norte with Atty. Mariano R. Nalupta Jr.
The presented evidence showed that3 Joey Umadac and Claire Bingayen where she was given a certificate that no marriage license was issued to
were scheduled to marry each other on March 29, 2003 at the Sta. Rosa the couple.9
Catholic Parish Church of San Nicolas, Ilocos Norte. However, on the day of
the wedding, the supposed officiating priest, Fr. Mario Ragaza, refused to The petitioner, while admitting that he conducted a ceremony, denied that
solemnize the marriage upon learning that the couple failed to secure a his act of blessing the couple was tantamount to a solemnization of the
marriage license. As a recourse, Joey, who was then dressed in barong marriage as contemplated by law.10
tagalong,and Claire, clad in a wedding gown, together with their parents,
sponsors and guests, proceeded to the Independent Church of Filipino The MTC Judgment
Christians, also known as the Aglipayan Church. They requested the
petitioner, an Aglipayan priest, to perform a ceremony to which the latter The MTC found the petitioner guilty of violation of Article 352 of the RPC,
agreed despite having been informed by the couple that they had no as amended, and imposed on him a P200.00 fine pursuant to Section 44 of
marriage certificate. Act No. 3613. It held that the petitioner’s act of giving a blessing
constitutes a marriage ceremony as he made an official church recognition
The petitioner prepared his choir and scheduled a mass for the couple on of the cohabitation of the couple as husband and wife.11 It further ruled
the same date. He conducted the ceremony in the presence of the groom, that in performing a marriage ceremony without the couple’s marriage
the bride, their parents, the principal and secondary sponsors and the rest license, the petitioner violated Article 352 of the RPC which imposes the
of their invited guests.4 penalty provided under Act No. 3613 or the Marriage Law. The MTC
applied Section 44 of the Marriage Law which pertinently states that a
violation of any of its provisions that is not specifically penalized or of the
regulations to be promulgated, shall be punished by a fine of not more The petitioner argues that the CA erred on the following grounds: First,
than two hundred pesos or by imprisonment of not more than one month, Article 352 of the RPC, as amended, is vague and does not define what
or both, in the discretion of the court. constitutes "an illegal marriage ceremony." Assuming that a marriage
ceremony principally constitutes those enunciated in Article 55 of the Civil
The RPC is a law subsequent to the Marriage Law, and provides the penalty Code and Article 6 of the Family Code, these provisions require the verbal
for violation of the latter law. Applying these laws, the MTC imposed the declaration that the couple take each other as husband and wife, and a
penalty of a fine in the amount of P200.00.12 marriage certificate containing the declaration in writing which is duly
signed by the contracting parties and attested to by the solemnizing
The RTC Ruling officer.17 The petitioner likewise maintains that the prosecution failed to
prove that the contracting parties personally declared that they take each
The RTC affirmed the findings of the MTC and added that the other as husband and wife.18 Second, under the principle of separation of
circumstances surrounding the act of the petitioner in "blessing" the church and State, the State cannot interfere in ecclesiastical affairs such as
couple unmistakably show that a marriage ceremony had transpired. It the administration of matrimony. Therefore, the State cannot convert the
further ruled that the positive declarations of the prosecution witnesses "blessing" into a "marriage ceremony."19
deserve more credence than the petitioner’s negative statements.13 The
RTC, however, ruled that the basis of the fine should be Section 39, instead Third, the petitioner had no criminal intent as he conducted the "blessing"
of Section 44, of the Marriage Law. in good faith for purposes of giving moral guidance to the couple.20

The CA Decision Fourth, the non-filing of a criminal case against the couple in violating
Article 350 of the RPC, as amended, should preclude the filing of the
On appeal, the CA affirmed the RTC’s ruling. The CA observed that although present case against him.21
there is no prescribed form or religious rite for the solemnization of
marriage, the law provides minimum standards in determining whether a Finally, Article 352 of the RPC, as amended, does not provide for a penalty.
marriage ceremony has been conducted, viz.: (1) the contracting parties The present case is not covered by Section 44 of the Marriage Law as the
must appear personally before the solemnizing officer; and (2) they should petitioner was not found violating its provisions nor a regulation
declare that they take each other as husband and wife in the presence of at promulgated thereafter.22
least two witnesses of legal age.14 According to the CA, the prosecution
duly proved these requirements. It added that the presence of a marriage THE COURT’S RULING:
certificate is not a requirement in a marriage ceremony.15
We find the petition unmeritorious.
The CA additionally ruled that the petitioner’s criminal liability under
Article 352 of the RPC, as amended, is not dependent on whether Joey or The elements of the crime punishable under Article 352 of the RPC, as
Claire were charged or found guilty under Article 350 of the same Code.16 amended, were proven by the prosecution

The CA agreed with the MTC that the legal basis for the imposition of the Article 352 of the RPC, as amended, penalizes an authorized solemnizing
fine is Section 44 of the Marriage Law since it covers violation of officer who shall perform or authorize any illegal marriage ceremony. The
regulations to be promulgated by the proper authorities such as the RPC. elements of this crime are as follows: (1) authority of the solemnizing
officer; and (2) his performance of an illegal marriage ceremony. In the
The Petition present case, the petitioner admitted that he has authority to solemnize a
marriage. Hence, the only issue to be resolved is whether the alleged
"blessing" by the petitioner is tantamount to the performance of an "illegal
marriage ceremony" which is punishable under Article 352 of the RPC, as support or rebut the position taken by one or the other party. It cannot be
amended. taken against him if the clarificatory questions he propounds happen to
reveal certain truths that tend to destroy the theory of one party.28
While Article 352 of the RPC, as amended, does not specifically define a
"marriage ceremony" and what constitutes its "illegal" performance, At any rate, if the defense found the line of questioning of the judge
Articles 3(3) and 6 of the Family Code are clear on these matters. These objectionable, its failure to timely register this bars it from belatedly
provisions were taken from Article 5523 of the New Civil Code which, in invoking any irregularity.
turn, was copied from Section 324 of the Marriage Law with no substantial
amendments. Article 625 of the Family Code provides that "[n]o prescribed In addition, the testimonies of Joseph and Mary Anne, and even the
form or religious rite for the solemnization of the marriage is required. It petitioner’s admission regarding the circumstances of the ceremony,
shall be necessary, however, for the contracting parties to appear support Florida’s testimony that there had indeed been the declaration by
personally before the solemnizing officer and declare in the presence of the couple that they take each other as husband and wife. The testimony
not less than two witnesses of legal age that they take each other as of Joey disowning their declaration as husband and wife cannot overcome
husband and wife."26 Pertinently, Article 3(3)27 mirrors Article 6 of the these clear and convincing pieces of evidence. Notably, the defense failed
Family Code and particularly defines a marriage ceremony as that which to show that the prosecution witnesses, Joseph and Mary Anne, had any ill-
takes place with the appearance of the contracting parties before the motive to testify against the petitioner.
solemnizing officer and their personal declaration that they take each other
as husband and wife in the presence of not less than two witnesses of legal We also do not agree with the petitioner that the principle of separation of
age. church and State precludes the State from qualifying the church "blessing"
into a marriage ceremony. Contrary to the petitioner’s allegation, this
Even prior to the date of the enactment of Article 352 of the RPC, as principle has been duly preserved by Article 6 of the Family Code when it
amended, the rule was clear that no prescribed form of religious rite for provides that no prescribed form or religious rite for the solemnization of
the solemnization of the marriage is required. However, as correctly found marriage is required. This pronouncement gives any religion or sect the
by the CA, the law sets the minimum requirements constituting a marriage freedom or latitude in conducting its respective marital rites, subject only
ceremony: first, there should be the personal appearance of the to the requirement that the core requirements of law be observed.
contracting parties before a solemnizing officer; and second, heir
declaration in the presence of not less than two witnesses that they take We emphasize at this point that Article 1529 of the Constitution recognizes
each other as husband and wife. marriage as an inviolable social institution and that our family law is based
on the policy that marriage is not a mere contract, but a social institution in
As to the first requirement, the petitioner admitted that the parties which the State is vitally interested. The State has paramount interest in
appeared before him and this fact was testified to by witnesses. On the the enforcement of its constitutional policies and the preservation of the
second requirement, we find that, contrary to the petitioner’s allegation, sanctity of marriage. To this end, it is within its power to enact laws and
the prosecution has proven, through the testimony of Florida, that the regulations, such as Article 352 of the RPC, as amended, which penalize the
contracting parties personally declared that they take each other as commission of acts resulting in the disintegration and mockery of marriage.
husband and wife.
From these perspectives, we find it clear that what the petitioner
The petitioner’s allegation that the court asked insinuating and leading conducted was a marriage ceremony, as the minimum requirements set by
questions to Florida fails to persuadeus. A judge may examine or cross- law were complied with. While the petitioner may view this merely as a
examine a witness. He may propound clarificatory questions to test the "blessing," the presence of the requirements of the law constitutive of a
credibility of the witness and to extract the truth. He may seek to draw out marriage ceremony qualified this "blessing" into a "marriage ceremony" as
relevant and material testimony though that testimony may tend to
contemplated by Article 3(3) of the Family Code and Article 352 of the RPC, to the solemnization of a marriage in accordance with section ten, who
as amended. authorized the immediate solemnization of a marriage that is subsequently
declared illegal; or any officer, priest or minister solemnizing marriage in
We come now to the issue of whether the solemnization by the petitioner violation of this act, shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than
of this marriage ceremony was illegal. one month nor more than two years, or by a fine of not less than two
hundred pesos nor more than two thousand pesos. [emphasis ours]
Under Article 3(3) of the Family Code, one of the essential requisites of
marriage is the presence of a valid marriage certificate. In the present case, On the other hand, Section 44 of the Marriage Law states that:
the petitioner admitted that he knew that the couple had no marriage
license, yet he conducted the "blessing" of their relationship. Section 44. General Penal Clause – Any violation of any provision of this Act
not specifically penalized, or of the regulations to be promulgated by the
Undoubtedly, the petitioner conducted the marriage ceremony despite proper authorities, shall be punished by a fine of not more than two
knowledge that the essential and formal requirements of marriage set by hundred pesos or by imprisonment for not more than one month, or both,
law were lacking. The marriage ceremony, therefore, was illegal. The in the discretion of the court. [emphasis ours]
petitioner’s knowledge of the absence of these requirements negates his
defense of good faith. From a reading of the provisions cited above, we find merit in the ruling of
the CA and the MTC that the penalty imposable in the present case is that
We also do not agree with the petitioner that the lack of a marriage covered under Section 44, and not Section 39, of the Marriage Law.
certificate negates his criminal liability in the present case. For purposes of
determining if a marriage ceremony has been conducted, a marriage The penalized acts under Section 39 of Act No. 3613 do not include the
certificate is not included in the requirements provided by Article 3(3) of present case.1âwphi1 As correctly found by the MTC, the petitioner was
the Family Code, as discussed above. not found violating the provisions of the Marriage Law but Article 352 of
the RPC, as amended. It is only the imposition of the penalty for the
Neither does the non-filing of a criminal complaint against the couple violation of this provision which is referred to the Marriage Law. On this
negate criminal liability of the petitioner. Article 352 of the RPC, as point, Article 352 falls squarely under the provision of Section 44 of Act No.
amended, does not make this an element of the crime. The penalty 3613 which provides for the penalty for any violation of the regulations to
imposed is proper be promulgated by the proper authorities; Article 352 of the RPC, as
amended, which was enacted after the Marriage Law, is one of such
On the issue on the penalty for violation of Article 352 of the RPC, as regulations.
amended, this provision clearly provides that it shall be imposed in
accordance with the provision of the Marriage Law. The penalty provisions Therefore, the CA did not err in imposing the penalty of fine of P200.00
of the Marriage Law are Sections 39 and 44 which provide as follows: pursuant to Section 44 of the Marriage Law.
Section 39 of the Marriage Law provides that:
WHEREFORE, we DENY the petition and affirm the decision of the Court of
Section 39. Illegal Solemnization of Marriage – Any priest or minister Appeals dated April 3, 2008 in CA-G.R. CR. No. 31028.
solemnizing marriage without being authorized by the Director of the
Philippine National Library or who, upon solemnizing marriage, refuses to SO ORDERED.
exhibit the authorization in force when called upon to do so by the parties
or parents, grandparents, guardians, or persons having charge and any
bishop or officer, priest, or minister of any church, religion or sect the
regulations and practices whereof require banns or publications previous
requirements for his stay in the Philippines, but was not told of the nature
of said ceremony. During the ceremony he and Gloria signed a document.
He claimed that he did not know that the ceremony was a marriage until
G.R. No. 183896 January 30, 2013 Gloria told him later. He further testified that he did not go to Carmona,
Cavite to apply for a marriage license, and that he had never resided in that
SYED AZHAR ABBAS, Petitioner, area. In July of 2003, he went to the Office of the Civil Registrar of
vs. Carmona, Cavite, to check on their marriage license, and was asked to
GLORIA GOO ABBAS, Respondent. show a copy of their marriage contract wherein the marriage license
number could be found.5 The Municipal Civil Registrar, Leodivinia C.
DECISION Encarnacion, issued a certification on July 11, 2003 to the effect that the
marriage license number appearing in the marriage contract he submitted,
VELASCO, JR., J.: Marriage License No. 9969967, was the number of another marriage
license issued to a certain Arlindo Getalado and Myra Mabilangan.6 Said
This is a Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the 1997 Rules certification reads as follows:
of Civil Procedure, questioning the Decision1 of the Court of Appeals (CA)
dated March 11, 2008 in CA-G.R. CV No. 86760, which reversed the 11 July 2003
Decision2 in Civil Case No. 03-0382-CFM dated October 5, 2005 of the
Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 109, Pasay City, and the CA Resolution TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN:
dated July 24, 2008, denying petitioner's Motion for Reconsideration of the
CA Decision. This is to certify as per Registry Records of Marriage License filed in this
office, Marriage License No. 9969967 was issued in favor of MR. ARLINDO
The present case stems from a petition filed by petitioner Syed Azhar GETALADO and MISS MYRA MABILANGAN on January 19, 1993.
Abbas (Syed) for the declaration of nullity of his marriage to Gloria Goo-
Abbas (Gloria) with the RTC of Pasay City, docketed as Civil Case No. 03- No Marriage License appear [sic] to have been issued to MR. SYED AZHAR
0382-CFM, and raffled to RTC Branch 109. Syed alleged the absence of a ABBAS and MISS GLORIA F. GOO on January 8, 1993.
marriage license, as provided for in Article 4, Chapter I, Title 1 of Executive
Order No. 269, otherwise known as the Family Code of the Philippines, as a This certification is being issued to Mr. Syed Azhar Abbas for whatever legal
ground for the annulment of his marriage to Gloria. purpose or intents it may serve.7

In the Marriage Contract3 of Gloria and Syed, it is stated that Marriage On cross-examination, Syed testified that Gloria had filed bigamy cases
License No. 9969967, issued at Carmona, Cavite on January 8, 1993, was against him in 2001 and 2002, and that he had gone to the Municipal Civil
presented to the solemnizing officer. It is this information that is crucial to Registrar of Carmona, Cavite to get certification on whether or not there
the resolution of this case. was a marriage license on advice of his counsel.8

At the trial court, Syed, a Pakistani citizen, testified that he met Gloria, a Petitioner also presented Norberto Bagsic (Bagsic), an employee of the
Filipino citizen, in Taiwan in 1991, and they were married on August 9, 1992 Municipal Civil Registrar of Carmona, Cavite. Bagsic appeared under a letter
at the Taipei Mosque in Taiwan.4 He arrived in the Philippines in December of authority from the Municipal Civil Registrar of Carmona, Cavite, and
of 1992. On January 9, 1993, at around 5 o’clock in the afternoon, he was brought documents pertaining to Marriage License No. 9969967, which
at his mother-in-law’s residence, located at 2676 F. Muñoz St., Malate, was issued to Arlindo Getalado and Myra Mabilangan on January 20,
Manila, when his mother-in-law arrived with two men. He testified that he 1993.9
was told that he was going to undergo some ceremony, one of the
Bagsic testified that their office issues serial numbers for marriage licenses person went to their house with the application for marriage license.23
and that the numbers are issued chronologically.10 He testified that the Three days later, the same person went back to their house, showed her
certification dated July 11, 2003, was issued and signed by Leodivina the marriage license before returning it to Atty. Sanchez who then gave it
Encarnacion, Registrar of the Municipality of Carmona, Cavite, certifying to Rev. Dauz, the solemnizing officer.24 She further testified that she did
that Marriage License No. 9969967 was issued for Arlindo Getalado and not read all of the contents of the marriage license, and that she was told
Myra Mabilangan on January 19, 1993, and that their office had not issued that the marriage license was obtained from Carmona.25 She also testified
any other license of the same serial number, namely 9969967, to any other that a bigamy case had been filed by Gloria against Syed at the Regional
person.11 Trial Court of Manila, evidenced by an information for Bigamy dated
January 10, 2003, pending before Branch 47 of the Regional Trial Court of
For her part, Gloria testified on her own behalf, and presented Reverend Manila.26
Mario Dauz, Atty. Lorenzo Sanchez, Felicitas Goo and May Ann Ceriola.
As to Mary Ann Ceriola’s testimony, the counsels for both parties stipulated
Reverend Mario Dauz (Rev. Dauz) testified that he was a minister of the that: (a) she is one of the sponsors at the wedding of Gloria Goo and Syed
Gospel and a barangay captain, and that he is authorized to solemnize Abbas on January 9, 1993; (b) she was seen in the wedding photos and she
marriages within the Philippines.12 He testified that he solemnized the could identify all the persons depicted in said photos; and (c) her testimony
marriage of Syed Azhar Abbas and Gloria Goo at the residence of the bride corroborates that of Felicitas Goo and Atty. Sanchez.
on January 9, 1993.13 He stated that the witnesses were Atty. Lorenzo
Sanchez (Atty. Sanchez) and Mary Ann Ceriola.14 He testified that he had The respondent, Gloria, testified that Syed is her husband, and presented
been solemnizing marriages since 1982, and that he is familiar with the the marriage contract bearing their signatures as proof.27 She and her
requirements.15 Rev. Dauz further testified that Atty. Sanchez gave him the mother sought the help of Atty. Sanchez in securing a marriage license, and
marriage license the day before the actual wedding, and that the marriage asked him to be one of the sponsors. A certain Qualin went to their house
contract was prepared by his secretary.16 After the solemnization of the and said that he will get the marriage license for them, and after several
marriage, it was registered with the Local Civil Registrar of Manila, and Rev. days returned with an application for marriage license for them to sign,
Dauz submitted the marriage contract and copy of the marriage license which she and Syed did. After Qualin returned with the marriage license,
with that office.17 they gave the license to Atty. Sanchez who gave it to Rev. Dauz, the
solemnizing officer. Gloria testified that she and Syed were married on
Atty. Sanchez testified that he was asked to be the sponsor of the wedding January 9, 1993 at their residence.28
of Syed Abbas and Gloria Goo by the mother of the bride, Felicitas Goo.18
He testified that he requested a certain Qualin to secure the marriage Gloria further testified that she has a daughter with Syed, born on June 15,
license for the couple, and that this Qualin secured the license and gave 1993.29
the same to him on January 8, 1993.19 He further testified that he did not
know where the marriage license was obtained.20 He attended the Gloria also testified that she filed a bigamy case against Syed, who had
wedding ceremony on January 9, 1993, signed the marriage contract as married a certain Maria Corazon Buenaventura during the existence of the
sponsor, and witnessed the signing of the marriage contract by the couple, previous marriage, and that the case was docketed as Criminal Case No.
the solemnizing officer and the other witness, Mary Ann Ceriola.21 02A-03408, with the RTC of Manila.30

Felicitas Goo testified that Gloria Goo is her daughter and Syed Azhar Gloria stated that she and Syed had already been married on August 9,
Abbas is her son-in-law, and that she was present at the wedding ceremony 1992 in Taiwan, but that she did not know if said marriage had been
held on January 9, 1993 at her house.22 She testified that she sought the celebrated under Muslim rites, because the one who celebrated their
help of Atty. Sanchez at the Manila City Hall in securing the marriage marriage was Chinese, and those around them at the time were Chinese.31
license, and that a week before the marriage was to take place, a male
The Ruling of the RTC In her appeal to the CA, Gloria submitted the following assignment of
errors:
In its October 5, 2005 Decision, the Pasay City RTC held that no valid
marriage license was issued by the Municipal Civil Registrar of Carmona, I
Cavite in favor of Gloria and Syed, as Marriage License No. 9969967 had
been issued to Arlindo Getalado and Myra Mabilangan, and the Municipal THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN DECLARING THE MARRIAGE BETWEEN THE
Civil Registrar of Carmona, Cavite had certified that no marriage license PETITIONER AND RESPONDENT AS NULL AND VOID DUE TO THE ABSENCE
had been issued for Gloria and Syed.32 It also took into account the fact OF A MARRIAGE LICENSE DESPITE EVIDENCE CLEARLY SHOWING THAT
that neither party was a resident of Carmona, Cavite, the place where THERE WAS ONE.
Marriage License No. 9969967 was issued, in violation of Article 9 of the
Family Code.33 As the marriage was not one of those exempt from the II
license requirement, and that the lack of a valid marriage license is an
absence of a formal requisite, the marriage of Gloria and Syed on January THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN NOT CONSIDERING, AS A REQUISITE OF A
9, 1993 was void ab initio. VALID MARRIAGE, THE OVERWHELMING EVIDENCE SHOWING THAT A
MARRIAGE CEREMONY TOOK PLACE WITH THE APPEARANCE OF THE
The dispositive portion of the Decision reads as follows: CONTRACTING PARTIES BEFORE THE SOLEMNIZING OFFICER AND THEIR
PERSONAL DECLARATION THAT THEY TOOK EACH OTHER AS HUSBAND AND
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered in favor of the petitioner, and WIFE IN THE PRESENCE OF NOT LESS THAN TWO WITNESSES OF LEGAL
against the respondent declaring as follows: AGE.

1. The marriage on January 9, 1993 between petitioner Syed Azhar Abbas III
and respondent Gloria Goo-Abbas is hereby annulled;
THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN NOT RULING ON THE ISSUE OF ESTOPPEL BY
2. Terminating the community of property relations between the petitioner LACHES ON THE PART OF THE PETITIONER, AN ISSUE TIMELY RAISED IN THE
and the respondent even if no property was acquired during their COURT BELOW.35
cohabitation by reason of the nullity of the marriage of the parties.
The CA gave credence to Gloria’s arguments, and granted her appeal. It
3. The Local Civil Registrar of Manila and the Civil Registrar General, held that the certification of the Municipal Civil Registrar failed to
National Statistics Office, are hereby ordered to cancel from their categorically state that a diligent search for the marriage license of Gloria
respective civil registries the marriage contracted by petitioner Syed Azhar and Syed was conducted, and thus held that said certification could not be
Abbas and respondent Gloria Goo-Abbas on January 9, 1993 in Manila. accorded probative value.36 The CA ruled that there was sufficient
testimonial and documentary evidence that Gloria and Syed had been
SO ORDERED.34 validly married and that there was compliance with all the requisites laid
down by law.37
Gloria filed a Motion for Reconsideration dated November 7, 2005, but the
RTC denied the same, prompting her to appeal the questioned decision to It gave weight to the fact that Syed had admitted to having signed the
the Court of Appeals. marriage contract. The CA also considered that the parties had comported
themselves as husband and wife, and that Syed only instituted his petition
The Ruling of the CA after Gloria had filed a case against him for bigamy.38

The dispositive portion of the CA Decision reads as follows:


Art. 3. The formal requisites of marriage are:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the appeal is GRANTED. The Decision
dated 05 October 2005 and Order dated 27 January 2006 of the Regional (1) Authority of the solemnizing officer;
Trial Court of Pasay City, Branch 109, in Civil Case No. 03-0382-CFM are
REVERSED and SET ASIDE and the Petition for Declaration of Nullity of (2) A valid marriage license except in the cases provided for in Chapter 2 of
Marriage is DISMISSED. The marriage between Shed [sic] Azhar Abbas and this Title; and
Gloria Goo Abbas contracted on 09 January 1993 remains valid and
subsisting. No costs. (3) A marriage ceremony which takes place with the appearance of the
contracting parties before the solemnizing officer and their personal
SO ORDERED.39 declaration that they take each other as husband and wife in the presence
of not less than two witnesses of legal age.
Syed then filed a Motion for Reconsideration dated April 1, 200840 but the
same was denied by the CA in a Resolution dated July 24, 2008.41 Art. 4. The absence of any of the essential or formal requisites shall render
the marriage void ab initio, except as stated in Article 35(2).
Hence, this petition.
A defect in any of the essential requisites shall render the marriage
Grounds in Support of Petition voidable as provided in Article 45.

I An irregularity in the formal requisites shall not affect the validity of the
marriage but the party or parties responsible for the irregularity shall be
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED SERIOUS ERROR OF civilly, criminally and administratively liable.
LAW IN CITING REPUBLIC VS. COURT OF APPEALS AS THE SAME IS
DIAMETRICALLY INCONSISTENT AND CONTRARY TO THE COURT’S OWN Art. 35. The following marriages shall be void from the beginning:
FINDINGS AND CONCLUSIONS IN THIS CASE.
xxxx
II
(3) Those solemnized without a license, except those covered by the
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN REVERSING AND preceding Chapter.
SETTING ASIDE, WITHOUT ANY FACTUAL AND LEGAL BASIS, THE DECISION
OF THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT GRANTING THE PETITION FOR There is no issue with the essential requisites under Art. 2 of the Family
DECLARATION OF NULLITY OF MARRIAGE.42 Code, nor with the formal requisites of the authority of the solemnizing
officer and the conduct of the marriage ceremony. Nor is the marriage one
The Ruling of this Court that is exempt from the requirement of a valid marriage license under
Chapter 2, Title I of the Family Code. The resolution of this case, thus,
The petition is meritorious. hinges on whether or not a valid marriage license had been issued for the
couple. The RTC held that no valid marriage license had been issued. The
As the marriage of Gloria and Syed was solemnized on January 9, 1993, CA held that there was a valid marriage license.
Executive Order No. 209, or the Family Code of the Philippines, is the
applicable law. The pertinent provisions that would apply to this particular We find the RTC to be correct in this instance.
case are Articles 3, 4 and 35(3), which read as follows:
Respondent Gloria failed to present the actual marriage license, or a copy In reversing the RTC, the CA focused on the wording of the certification,
thereof, and relied on the marriage contract as well as the testimonies of stating that it did not comply with Section 28, Rule 132 of the Rules of
her witnesses to prove the existence of said license. To prove that no such Court.
license was issued, Syed turned to the office of the Municipal Civil Registrar
of Carmona, Cavite which had allegedly issued said license. It was there The CA deduced that from the absence of the words "despite diligent
that he requested certification that no such license was issued. In the case search" in the certification, and since the certification used stated that no
of Republic v. Court of Appeals43 such certification was allowed, as marriage license appears to have been issued, no diligent search had been
permitted by Sec. 29, Rule 132 of the Rules of Court, which reads: conducted and thus the certification could not be given probative value.

SEC. 28. Proof of lack of record. – A written statement signed by an officer To justify that deduction, the CA cited the case of Republic v. Court of
having the custody of an official record or by his deputy that after diligent Appeals.45 It is worth noting that in that particular case, the Court, in
search, no record or entry of a specified tenor is found to exist in the sustaining the finding of the lower court that a marriage license was
records of his office, accompanied by a certificate as above provided, is lacking, relied on the Certification issued by the Civil Registrar of Pasig,
admissible as evidence that the records of his office contain no such record which merely stated that the alleged marriage license could not be located
or entry. as the same did not appear in their records. Nowhere in the Certification
was it categorically stated that the officer involved conducted a diligent
In the case of Republic, in allowing the certification of the Civil Registrar of search, nor is a categorical declaration absolutely necessary for Sec. 28,
Pasig to prove the non-issuance of a marriage license, the Court held: Rule 132 of the Rules of Court to apply.

The above Rule authorized the custodian of the documents to certify that Under Sec. 3(m), Rule 131 of the Rules of Court, it is a disputable
despite diligent search, a particular document does not exist in his office or presumption that an official duty has been regularly performed, absent
that a particular entry of a specified tenor was not to be found in a register. contradiction or other evidence to the contrary. We held, "The
As custodians of public documents, civil registrars are public officers presumption of regularity of official acts may be rebutted by affirmative
charged with the duty, inter alia, of maintaining a register book where they evidence of irregularity or failure to perform a duty."46 No such affirmative
are required to enter all applications for marriage licenses, including the evidence was shown that the Municipal Civil Registrar was lax in
names of the applicants, the date the marriage license was issued and such performing her duty of checking the records of their office, thus the
other relevant data.44 presumption must stand. In fact, proof does exist of a diligent search
having been conducted, as Marriage License No. 996967 was indeed
The Court held in that case that the certification issued by the civil registrar located and submitted to the court. The fact that the names in said license
enjoyed probative value, as his duty was to maintain records of data do not correspond to those of Gloria and Syed does not overturn the
relative to the issuance of a marriage license. presumption that the registrar conducted a diligent search of the records of
her office.
The Municipal Civil Registrar of Carmona, Cavite, where the marriage
license of Gloria and Syed was allegedly issued, issued a certification to the It is telling that Gloria failed to present their marriage license or a copy
effect that no such marriage license for Gloria and Syed was issued, and thereof to the court. She failed to explain why the marriage license was
that the serial number of the marriage license pertained to another couple, secured in Carmona, Cavite, a location where, admittedly, neither party
Arlindo Getalado and Myra Mabilangan. A certified machine copy of resided. She took no pains to apply for the license, so she is not the best
Marriage License No. 9969967 was presented, which was issued in witness to testify to the validity and existence of said license. Neither could
Carmona, Cavite, and indeed, the names of Gloria and Syed do not appear the other witnesses she presented prove the existence of the marriage
in the document. license, as none of them applied for the license in Carmona, Cavite. Her
mother, Felicitas Goo, could not even testify as to the contents of the
license, having admitted to not reading all of its contents. Atty. Sanchez, name in the marriage contract was his. Several pictures were presented
one of the sponsors, whom Gloria and Felicitas Goo approached for showing appellant and appellee, before the solemnizing officer, the
assistance in securing the license, admitted not knowing where the license witnesses and other members of appellant’s family, taken during the
came from. The task of applying for the license was delegated to a certain marriage ceremony, as well as in the restaurant where the lunch was held
Qualin, who could have testified as to how the license was secured and after the marriage ceremony. Most telling of all is Exhibit "5-C" which
thus impeached the certification of the Municipal Civil Registrar as well as shows appellee signing the Marriage Contract.
the testimony of her representative. As Gloria failed to present this Qualin,
the certification of the Municipal Civil Registrar still enjoys probative value. xxxx

It is also noted that the solemnizing officer testified that the marriage The parties have comported themselves as husband and wife and has [sic]
contract and a copy of the marriage license were submitted to the Local one offspring, Aliea Fatima Goo Abbas, who was born on 15 June 1993. It
Civil Registrar of Manila. Thus, a copy of the marriage license could have took appellee more than ten (10) years before he filed on 01 August 2003
simply been secured from that office and submitted to the court. However, his Petition for Declaration of Nullity of Marriage under Article 4 of the
Gloria inexplicably failed to do so, further weakening her claim that there Family Code. We take serious note that said Petition appears to have been
was a valid marriage license issued for her and Syed. instituted by him only after an Information for Bigamy (Exhibit "1") dated
10 January 2003 was filed against him for contracting a second or
In the case of Cariño v. Cariño,47 following the case of Republic,48 it was subsequent marriage with one Ma. Corazon (Maryam) T. Buenaventura. We
held that the certification of the Local Civil Registrar that their office had no are not ready to reward (appellee) by declaring the nullity of his marriage
record of a marriage license was adequate to prove the non-issuance of and give him his freedom and in the process allow him to profit from his
said license. The case of Cariño further held that the presumed validity of own deceit and perfidy.50
the marriage of the parties had been overcome, and that it became the
burden of the party alleging a valid marriage to prove that the marriage All the evidence cited by the CA to show that a wedding ceremony was
was valid, and that the required marriage license had been secured.49 conducted and a marriage contract was signed does not operate to cure
Gloria has failed to discharge that burden, and the only conclusion that can the absence of a valid marriage license. Article 4 of the Family Code is clear
be reached is that no valid marriage license was issued. It cannot be said when it says, "The absence of any of the essential or formal requisites shall
that there was a simple irregularity in the marriage license that would not render the marriage void ab initio, except as stated in Article 35(2)." Article
affect the validity of the marriage, as no license was presented by the 35(3) of the Family Code also provides that a marriage solemnized without
respondent. No marriage license was proven to have been issued to Gloria a license is void from the beginning, except those exempt from the license
and Syed, based on the certification of the Municipal Civil Registrar of requirement under Articles 27 to 34, Chapter 2, Title I of the same Code.51
Carmona, Cavite and Gloria’s failure to produce a copy of the alleged Again, this marriage cannot be characterized as among the exemptions,
marriage license. and thus, having been solemnized without a marriage license, is void ab
initio.1âwphi1
To bolster its ruling, the CA cited other evidence to support its conclusion
that Gloria and Syed were validly married. To quote the CA: As to the motive of Syed in seeking to annul his marriage to Gloria, it may
well be that his motives are less than pure, that he seeks to evade a bigamy
Moreover, the record is replete with evidence, testimonial and suit. Be that as it may, the same does not make up for the failure of the
documentary, that appellant and appellee have been validly married and respondent to prove that they had a valid marriage license, given the
there was compliance with all the requisites laid down by law. Both parties weight of evidence presented by petitioner. The lack of a valid marriage
are legally capacitated to marry. A certificate of legal capacity was even license cannot be attributed to him, as it was Gloria who took steps to
issued by the Embassy of Pakistan in favor of appellee. The parties herein procure the same. The law must be applied. As the marriage license, a
gave their consent freely. Appellee admitted that the signature above his
formal requisite, is clearly absent, the marriage of Gloria and Syed is void
ab initio.

WHEREFORE, in light of the foregoing, the petition is hereby GRANTED. The


assailed Decision dated March 11, 2008 and Resolution dated July 24, 2008
of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 86760 are hereby REVERSED and
SET ASIDE. The Decision of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 109, Pasay City
dated October 5, 2005 in Civil Case No. 03-0382-CFM annulling the
marriage of petitioner with respondent on January 9, 1993 is hereby
REINSTATED.

No costs.

SO ORDERED.
Benjamin and Sally’s cohabitation produced two children, Bernice and
Bentley. During the period of their cohabitation, they acquired the
following real properties:

(1) property under Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. 61722 registered in
G.R. No. 201061 July 3, 2013 the names of Benjamin and Sally as spouses;

SALLY GO-BANGAYAN, Petitioner, (2) properties under TCT Nos. 61720 and 190860 registered in the name of
vs. Benjamin, married to Sally;
BENJAMIN BANGAYAN, JR., Respondent.
(3) properties under Condominium Certificate of Title (CCT) Nos. 8782 and
DECISION 8783 registered in the name of Sally, married to Benjamin; and

CARPIO, J.: (4) properties under TCT Nos. N-193656 and 253681 registered in the name
of Sally as a single individual.
The Case
The relationship of Benjamin and Sally ended in 1994 when Sally left for
Before the Court is a petition for review1 assailing the 17 August 2011 Canada, bringing Bernice and Bentley with her. She then filed criminal
Decision2 and the 14 March 2012 Resolution3 of the Court of Appeals in actions for bigamy and falsification of public documents against Benjamin,
CA-G.R. CV No. 94226. using their simulated marriage contract as evidence. Benjamin, in turn,
filed a petition for declaration of a non-existent marriage and/or
The Antecedent Facts declaration of nullity of marriage before the trial court on the ground that
his marriage to Sally was bigamous and that it lacked the formal requisites
On 15 March 2004, Benjamin Bangayan, Jr. (Benjamin) filed a petition for to a valid marriage. Benjamin also asked the trial court for the partition of
declaration of a non-existent marriage and/or declaration of nullity of the properties he acquired with Sally in accordance with Article 148 of the
marriage before the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 43 (trial court). Family Code, for his appointment as administrator of the properties during
The case was docketed as Civil Case No. 04109401. Benjamin alleged that the pendency of the case, and for the declaration of Bernice and Bentley as
on 10 September 1973, he married Azucena Alegre (Azucena) in Caloocan illegitimate children. A total of 44 registered properties became the subject
City. They had three children, namely, Rizalyn, Emmamylin, and Benjamin of the partition before the trial court. Aside from the seven properties
III. enumerated by Benjamin in his petition, Sally named 37 properties in her
answer.
In 1979, Benjamin developed a romantic relationship with Sally
GoBangayan (Sally) who was a customer in the auto parts and supplies After Benjamin presented his evidence, Sally filed a demurrer to evidence
business owned by Benjamin’s family. In December 1981, Azucena left for which the trial court denied. Sally filed a motion for reconsideration which
the United States of America. In February 1982, Benjamin and Sally lived the trial court also denied. Sally filed a petition for certiorari before the
together as husband and wife. Sally’s father was against the relationship. Court of Appeals and asked for the issuance of a temporary restraining
On 7 March 1982, in order to appease her father, Sally brought Benjamin to order and/or injunction which the Court of Appeals never issued. Sally then
an office in Santolan, Pasig City where they signed a purported marriage refused to present any evidence before the trial court citing the pendency
contract. Sally, knowing Benjamin’s marital status, assured him that the of her petition before the Court of Appeals. The trial court gave Sally
marriage contract would not be registered. several opportunities to present her evidence on 28 February 2008, 10 July
2008, 4 September 2008, 11 September 2008, 2 October 2008, 23 October
2008, and 28 November 2008. Despite repeated warnings from the trial the lot under TCT No. 61722 and the two condominium units were
court, Sally still refused to present her evidence, prompting the trial court purchased from the earnings of Benjamin alone. The trial court ruled that
to consider the case submitted for decision. the properties under TCT Nos. 61722, 61720, and 190860 and CCT Nos.
8782 and 8783 were part of the conjugal partnership of Benjamin and
The Decision of the Trial Court Azucena, without prejudice to Benjamin’s right to dispute his conjugal state
with Azucena in a separate proceeding.
In a Decision4 dated 26 March 2009, the trial court ruled in favor
ofBenjamin. The trial court gave weight to the certification dated 21 July The trial court further ruled that Sally acted in bad faith because she knew
2004 from the Pasig Local Civil Registrar, which was confirmed during trial, that Benjamin was married to Azucena. Applying Article 148 of the Family
that only Marriage License Series Nos. 6648100 to 6648150 were issued for Code, the trial court forfeited Sally’s share in the properties covered under
the month of February 1982 and the purported Marriage License No. N- TCT Nos. N-193656 and 253681 in favor of Bernice and Bentley while
07568 was not issued to Benjamin and Sally.5 The trial court ruled that the Benjamin’s share reverted to his conjugal ownership with Azucena.
marriage was not recorded with the local civil registrar and the National
Statistics Office because it could not be registered due to Benjamin’s The dispositive portion of the trial court’s decision reads:
subsisting marriage with Azucena.
ACCORDINGLY, the marriage of BENJAMIN BANGAYAN, JR. and SALLY S. GO
The trial court ruled that the marriage between Benjamin and Sally was not on March 7, 1982 at Santolan, Pasig, Metro Manila is hereby declared NULL
bigamous. The trial court ruled that the second marriage was void not and VOID AB INITIO. It is further declared NONEXISTENT.
because of the existence of the first marriage but because of other causes,
particularly, the lack of a marriage license. Hence, bigamy was not Respondent’s claim as co-owner or conjugal owner of the thirtyseven (37)
committed in this case. The trial court did not rule on the issue of the properties under TCT Nos. 17722, 17723, 17724, 17725, 126397, RT-73480,
legitimacy status of Bernice and Bentley because they were not parties to and RT-86821; in Manila, TCT Nos. 188949, 188950, 188951, 193035,
the case. The trial court denied Sally’s claim for spousal support because 194620, 194621, 194622, 194623, 194624, 194625, 194626, 194627,
she was not married to Benjamin. The trial court likewise denied support 194628, 194629, 194630, 194631, 194632, 194633, 194634, 194635,
for Bernice and Bentley who were both of legal age and did not ask for 194636, 194637, 194638, 194639, 198651, 206209, 206210, 206211,
support. 206213 and 206215 is DISMISSED for lack of merit. The registered owners,
namely: Benjamin B. Bangayan, Jr., Roberto E. Bangayan, Ricardo B.
On the issue of partition, the trial court ruled that Sally could not claim the Bangayan and Rodrigo B. Bangayan are the owners to the exclusion of
37 properties she named in her answer as part of her conjugal properties "Sally Go" Consequently, the Registry of Deeds for Quezon City and Manila
with Benjamin. The trial court ruled that Sally was not legally married to are directed to delete the words "married to Sally Go" from these thirty-
Benjamin. Further, the 37 properties that Sally was claiming were owned seven (37) titles.
by Benjamin’s parents who gave the properties to their children, including
Benjamin, as advance inheritance. The 37 titles were in the names of Properties under TCT Nos. 61722, 61720 and 190860, CCT Nos. 8782 and
Benjamin and his brothers and the phrase "married to Sally Go" was merely 8783 are properties acquired from petitioner’s money without contribution
descriptive of Benjamin’s civil status in the title. As regards the two lots from respondent, hence, these are properties of the petitioner and his
under TCT Nos. 61720 and 190860, the trial court found that they were lawful wife. Consequently, petitioner is appointed the administrator of
bought by Benjamin using his own money and that Sally failed to prove any these five (5) properties. Respondent is ordered to submit an accounting of
actual contribution of money, property or industry in their purchase. The her collections of income from these five (5) properties within thirty (30)
trial court found that Sally was a registered co-owner of the lots covered by days from notice hereof. Except for lot under TCT No. 61722, respondent is
TCT Nos. 61722, N-193656, and 253681 as well as the two condominium further directed within thirty (30) days from notice hereof to turn over and
units under CCT Nos. 8782 and 8783. However, the trial court ruled that
surrender control and possession of these properties including the evidence. She insisted on presenting Benjamin who was not around and
documents of title to the petitioner. was not subpoenaed despite the presence of her other witnesses.

On the properties under TCT Nos. N-193656 and N-253681, these The Court of Appeals rejected Sally’s allegation that Benjamin failed to
properties are under co-ownership of the parties shared by them equally. prove his action for declaration of nullity of marriage. The Court of Appeals
However, the share of respondent is declared FORFEITED in favor of ruled that Benjamin’s action was based on his prior marriage to Azucena
Bernice Go Bangayan and Bentley Go Bangayan. The share of the petitioner and there was no evidence that the marriage was annulled or dissolved
shall belong to his conjugal ownership with Azucena Alegre. The before Benjamin contracted the second marriage with Sally. The Court of
liquidation, partition and distribution of these two (2) properties shall be Appeals ruled that the trial court committed no error in declaring
further processed pursuant to Section 21 of A.M. No. 02-11-10 of March Benjamin’s marriage to Sally null and void.
15, 2003.
The Court of Appeals ruled that the property relations of Benjamin and
Other properties shall be adjudicated in a later proceeding pursuant to Sally was governed by Article 148 of the Family Code. The Court of Appeals
Section 21 of A.M. No. 02-11-10. ruled that only the properties acquired by the parties through their actual
joint contribution of money, property or industry shall be owned by them
Respondent’s claim of spousal support, children support and counterclaims in common in proportion to their respective contribution. The Court of
are DISMISSED for lack of merit. Further, no declaration of the status of the Appeals ruled that the 37 properties being claimed by Sally rightfully
parties’ children. belong to Benjamin and his siblings.

No other relief granted. As regards the seven properties claimed by both parties, the Court of
Appeals ruled that only the properties under TCT Nos. 61720 and 190860
Furnish copy of this decision to the parties, their counsels, the Trial registered in the name of Benjamin belong to him exclusively because he
Prosecutor, the Solicitor General and the Registry of Deeds in Manila, was able to establish that they were acquired by him solely. The Court of
Quezon City and Caloocan.
Appeals found that the properties under TCT Nos. N-193656 and 253681
SO ORDERED.6 and under CCT Nos. 8782 and 8783 were exclusive properties of Sally in the
absence of proof of Benjamin’s actual contribution in their purchase. The
Sally filed a Verified and Vigorous Motion for Inhibition with Motion for Court of Appeals ruled that the property under TCT No. 61722 registered in
Reconsideration. In its Order dated 27 August 2009,7 the trial court denied the names of Benjamin and Sally shall be owned by them in common, to be
the motion. Sally appealed the trial court’s decision before the Court of shared equally. However, the share of Benjamin shall accrue to the conjugal
Appeals. partnership under his existing marriage with Azucena while Sally’s share
shall accrue to her in the absence of a clear and convincing proof of bad
The Decision of the Court of Appeals faith.

In its 17 August 2011 Decision, the Court of Appeals partly granted the Finally, the Court of Appeals ruled that Sally failed to present clear and
appeal. The Court of Appeals ruled that the trial court did not err in convincing evidence that would show bias and prejudice on the part of the
submitting the case for decision. The Court of Appeals noted that there trial judge that would justify his inhibition from the case.
were six resettings of the case, all made at the instance of Sally, for the
initial reception of evidence, and Sally was duly warned to present her The dispositive portion of the Court of Appeals’ decision reads:
evidence on the next hearing or the case would be deemed submitted for
decision. However, despite the warning, Sally still failed to present her
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant appeal is PARTLY GRANTED. Sally alleges that the Court of Appeals erred in affirming the trial court’s
The assailed Decision and Order dated March 26, 2009 and August 27, ruling that she waived her right to present her evidence. Sally alleges that
2009, respectively, of the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 43, in Civil in not allowing her to present evidence that she and Benjamin were
Case No. 04-109401 are hereby AFFIRMED with modification declaring TCT married, the trial court abandoned its duty to protect marriage as an
Nos. 61720 and 190860 to be exclusively owned by the petitioner-appellee inviolable institution.
while the properties under TCT Nos. N-193656 and 253681 as well as CCT
Nos. 8782 and 8783 shall be solely owned by the respondent-appellant. On It is well-settled that a grant of a motion for continuance or postponement
the other hand, TCT No. 61722 shall be owned by them and common and is not a matter of right but is addressed to the discretion of the trial court.9
to be shared equally but the share of the petitioner-appellee shall accrue In this case, Sally’s presentation of evidence was scheduled on28 February
to the conjugal partnership under his first marriage while the share of 2008. Thereafter, there were six resettings of the case: on 10 July 2008, 4
respondent-appellant shall accrue to her. The rest of the decision stands. and 11 September 2008, 2 and 28 October 2008, and 28 November 2008.
They were all made at Sally’s instance. Before the scheduled hearing of 28
SO ORDERED.8 November 2008, the trial court warned Sally that in case she still failed to
present her evidence, the case would be submitted for decision. On the
Sally moved for the reconsideration of the Court of Appeals’ decision. In its date of the scheduled hearing, despite the presence of other available
14 March 2012 Resolution, the Court of Appeals denied her motion. witnesses, Sally insisted on presenting Benjamin who was not even
subpoenaed on that day. Sally’s counsel insisted that the trial court could
Hence, the petition before this Court. not dictate on the priority of witnesses to be presented, disregarding the
trial court’s prior warning due to the numerous resettings of the case. Sally
The Issues could not complain that she had been deprived of her right to present her
evidence because all the postponements were at her instance and she was
Sally raised the following issues before this Court: warned by the trial court that it would submit the case for decision should
she still fail to present her evidence on 28 November 2008.
(1) Whether the Court of Appeals committed a reversible error in affirming
the trial court’s ruling that Sally had waived her right to present evidence; We agree with the trial court that by her continued refusal to present her
evidence, she was deemed to have waived her right to present them. As
(2) Whether the Court of Appeals committed a reversible error in affirming pointed out by the Court of Appeals, Sally’s continued failure to present her
the trial court’s decision declaring the marriage between Benjamin and evidence despite the opportunities given by the trial court showed her lack
Sally null and void ab initio and non-existent; and of interest to proceed with the case. Further, it was clear that Sally was
delaying the case because she was waiting for the decision of the Court of
(3) Whether the Court of Appeals committed a reversible error in affirming Appeals on her petition questioning the trial court’s denial of her demurrer
with modification the trial court’s decision regarding the property relations to evidence, despite the fact that the Court of Appeals did not issue any
of Benjamin and Sally. temporary restraining order as Sally prayed for. Sally could not accuse the
trial court of failing to protect marriage as an inviolable institution because
The Ruling of this Court the trial court also has the duty to ensure that trial proceeds despite the
deliberate delay and refusal to proceed by one of the parties.10
The petition has no merit.
Validity of the Marriage between Benjamin and Sally
Waiver of Right to Present Evidence
Sally alleges that both the trial court and the Court of Appeals recognized
her marriage to Benjamin because a marriage could not be nonexistent
and, at the same time, null and void ab initio. Sally further alleges that if between Benjamin and Sally. As pointed out by the trial court, the marriage
she were allowed to present her evidence, she would have proven her between Benjamin and Sally "was made only in jest"16 and "a simulated
marriage to Benjamin. To prove her marriage to Benjamin, Sally asked this marriage, at the instance of Sally, intended to cover her up from expected
Court to consider that in acquiring real properties, Benjamin listed her as social humiliation coming from relatives, friends and the society especially
his wife by declaring he was "married to" her; that Benjamin was the from her parents seen as Chinese conservatives."17 In short, it was a
informant in their children’s birth certificates where he stated that he was fictitious marriage.
their father; and that Benjamin introduced her to his family and friends as
his wife. In contrast, Sally claims that there was no real property registered The fact that Benjamin was the informant in the birth certificates of
in the names of Benjamin and Azucena. Sally further alleges that Benjamin Bernice and Bentley was not a proof of the marriage between Benjamin
was not the informant in the birth certificates of his children with Azucena. and Sally. This Court notes that Benjamin was the informant in Bernice’s
birth certificate which stated that Benjamin and Sally were married on 8
First, Benjamin’s marriage to Azucena on 10 September 1973 was duly March 198218 while Sally was the informant in Bentley’s birth certificate
established before the trial court, evidenced by a certified true copy of which also stated that Benjamin and Sally were married on 8 March
their marriage contract. At the time Benjamin and Sally entered into a 1982.19 Benjamin and Sally were supposedly married on 7 March 1982
purported marriage on 7 March 1982, the marriage between Benjamin and which did not match the dates reflected on the birth certificates.
Azucena was valid and subsisting.
We see no inconsistency in finding the marriage between Benjamin and
On the purported marriage of Benjamin and Sally, Teresita Oliveros Sally null and void ab initio and, at the same time, non-existent. Under
(Oliveros), Registration Officer II of the Local Civil Registrar of Pasig City, Article 35 of the Family Code, a marriage solemnized without a license,
testified that there was no valid marriage license issued to Benjamin and except those covered by Article 34 where no license is necessary, "shall be
Sally. Oliveros confirmed that only Marriage Licence Nos. 6648100 to void from the beginning." In this case, the marriage between Benjamin and
6648150 were issued for the month of February 1982. Marriage License Sally was solemnized without a license. It was duly established that no
No. N-07568 did not match the series issued for the month. Oliveros marriage license was issued to them and that Marriage License No. N-
further testified that the local civil registrar of Pasig City did not issue 07568 did not match the marriage license numbers issued by the local civil
Marriage License No. N-07568 to Benjamin and Sally. The certification from registrar of Pasig City for the month of February 1982. The case clearly falls
the local civil registrar is adequate to prove the non-issuance of a marriage under Section 3 of Article 3520 which made their marriage void ab initio.
license and absent any suspicious circumstance, the certification enjoys The marriage between Benjamin and Sally was also non-existent. Applying
probative value, being issued by the officer charged under the law to keep the general rules on void or inexistent contracts under Article 1409 of the
a record of all data relative to the issuance of a marriage license.11 Clearly, Civil Code, contracts which are absolutely simulated or fictitious are
if indeed Benjamin and Sally entered into a marriage contract, the marriage "inexistent and void from the beginning."21 Thus, the Court of Appeals did
was void from the beginning for lack of a marriage license.12 not err in sustaining the trial court’s ruling that the marriage between
Benjamin and Sally was null and void ab initio and non-existent.
It was also established before the trial court that the purported marriage
between Benjamin and Sally was not recorded with the local civil registrar Except for the modification in the distribution of properties, the Court of
and the National Statistics Office. The lack of record was certified by Julieta Appeals affirmed in all aspects the trial court’s decision and ruled that "the
B. Javier, Registration Officer IV of the Office of the Local Civil Registrar of rest of the decision stands."22 While the Court of Appeals did notdiscuss
the Municipality of Pasig;13 Teresita R. Ignacio, Chief of the Archives bigamous marriages, it can be gleaned from the dispositive portion of the
Division of the Records Management and Archives Office, National decision declaring that "the rest of the decision stands" that the Court of
Commission for Culture and the Arts;14 and Lourdes J. Hufana, Director III, Appeals adopted the trial court’s discussion that the marriage between
Civil Registration Department of the National Statistics Office.15 The Benjamin and Sally is not bigamous.1âwphi1 The trial court stated:
documentary and testimonial evidence proved that there was no marriage
On whether or not the parties’ marriage is bigamous under the concept of
Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code, the marriage is not bigamous. It is If one of the parties is validly married to another, his or her share in the co-
required that the first or former marriage shall not be null and void. The ownership shall accrue to the absolute community of conjugal partnership
marriage of the petitioner to Azucena shall be assumed as the one that is existing in such valid marriage. If the party who acted in bad faith is not
valid, there being no evidence to the contrary and there is no trace of validly married to another, his or her share shall be forfeited in the manner
invalidity or irregularity on the face of their marriage contract. However, if provided in the last paragraph of the preceding Article.
the second marriage was void not because of the existence of the first
marriage but for other causes such as lack of license, the crime of bigamy The foregoing rules on forfeiture shall likewise apply even if both parties
was not committed. In People v. De Lara [CA, 51 O.G., 4079], it was held are in bad faith.
that what was committed was contracting marriage against the provisions
of laws not under Article 349 but Article 350 of the Revised Penal Code. Benjamin and Sally cohabitated without the benefit of marriage. Thus, only
Concluding, the marriage of the parties is therefore not bigamous because the properties acquired by them through their actual joint contribution of
there was no marriage license. The daring and repeated stand of money, property, or industry shall be owned by them in common in
respondent that she is legally married to petitioner cannot, in any instance, proportion to their respective contributions. Thus, both the trial court and
be sustained. Assuming that her marriage to petitioner has the marriage the Court of Appeals correctly excluded the 37 properties being claimed by
license, yet the same would be bigamous, civilly or criminally as it would be Sally which were given by Benjamin’s father to his children as advance
invalidated by a prior existing valid marriage of petitioner and Azucena.23 inheritance. Sally’s Answer to the petition before the trial court even
admitted that "Benjamin’s late father himself conveyed a number of
For bigamy to exist, the second or subsequent marriage must have all the properties to his children and their respective spouses which included Sally
essential requisites for validity except for the existence of a prior x x x."25
marriage.24 In this case, there was really no subsequent marriage.
Benjamin and Sally just signed a purported marriage contract without a As regards the seven remaining properties, we rule that the decision of the
marriage license. The supposed marriage was not recorded with the local Court of Appeals is more in accord with the evidence on record. Only the
civil registrar and the National Statistics Office. In short, the marriage property covered by TCT No. 61722 was registered in the names of
between Benjamin and Sally did not exist. They lived together and Benjamin and Sally as spouses.26 The properties under TCT Nos. 61720 and
represented themselves as husband and wife without the benefit of 190860 were in the name of Benjamin27 with the descriptive title "married
marriage. to Sally." The property covered by CCT Nos. 8782 and 8783 were registered
in the name of Sally28 with the descriptive title "married to Benjamin"
Property Relations Between Benjamin and Sally while the properties under TCT Nos. N-193656 and 253681 were registered
in the name of Sally as a single individual. We have ruled that the words
The Court of Appeals correctly ruled that the property relations of "married to" preceding the name of a spouse are merely descriptive of the
Benjamin and Sally is governed by Article 148 of the Family Code which civil status of the registered owner.29 Such words do not prove co-
states: ownership. Without proof of actual contribution from either or both
spouses, there can be no co-ownership under Article 148 of the Family
Art. 148. In cases of cohabitation not falling under the preceding Article, Code.30
only the properties acquired by both of the parties through their actual
joint contribution of money, property, or industry shall be owned by them Inhibition of the Trial Judge
in common in proportion to their respective contributions. In the absence
of proof to the contrary, their contributions and corresponding shares are Sally questions the refusal of Judge Roy G. Gironella (Judge Gironella) to
presumed to be equal. The same rule and presumption shall apply to joint inhibit himself from hearing the case. She cited the failure of Judge
deposits of money and evidences of credit. Gironella to accommodate her in presenting her evidence. She further
alleged that Judge Gironella practically labeled her as an opportunist in his
decision, showing his partiality against her and in favor of Benjamin.

We have ruled that the issue of voluntary inhibition is primarily a matter of


conscience and sound discretion on the part of the judge.31 To justify the
call for inhibition, there must be extrinsic evidence to establish bias, bad
faith, malice, or corrupt purpose, in addition to palpable error which may
be inferred from the decision or order itself.32 In this case, we have
sufficiently explained that Judge Gironella did not err in submitting the case
for decision because of Sally’s continued refusal to present her evidence.

We reviewed the decision of the trial court and while Judge Gironella may
have used uncomplimentary words in writing the decision, they are not
enough to prove his prejudice against Sally or show that he acted in bad
faith in deciding the case that would justify the call for his voluntary
inhibition.

WHEREFORE, we AFFIRM the 17 August 2011 Decision and the 14 March


2012 Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 94226.

SO ORDERED.
(2) Whether or not the second marriage of plaintiffs' deceased father with
defendant is null and void ab initio;
G.R. No. 133778 March 14, 2000
(3) Whether or not plaintiffs are estopped from assailing the validity of the
ENGRACE NIÑAL for Herself and as Guardian ad Litem of the minors second marriage after it was dissolved due to their father's death. 1
BABYLINE NIÑAL, INGRID NIÑAL, ARCHIE NIÑAL & PEPITO NIÑAL, JR.,
petitioners, Thus, the lower court ruled that petitioners should have filed the action to
vs. declare null and void their father's marriage to respondent before his
NORMA BAYADOG, respondent. death, applying by analogy Article 47 of the Family Code which enumerates
the time and the persons who could initiate an action for annulment of
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.: marriage. 2 Hence, this petition for review with this Court grounded on a
pure question of law.
May the heirs of a deceased person file a petition for the declaration of
nullity of his marriage after his death? This petition was originally dismissed for non-compliance with Section 11,
Rule 13 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, and because "the verification
Pepito Niñal was married to Teodulfa Bellones on September 26, 1974. Out failed to state the basis of petitioner's averment that the allegations in the
of their marriage were born herein petitioners. Teodulfa was shot by Pepito petition are "true and correct"." It was thus treated as an unsigned
resulting in her death on April 24, 1985. One year and 8 months thereafter pleading which produces no legal effect under Section 3, Rule 7, of the
or on December 11, 1986, Pepito and respondent Norma Badayog got 1997 Rules. 3 However, upon motion of petitioners, this Court reconsidered
married without any marriage license. In lieu thereof, Pepito and Norma the dismissal and reinstated the petition for review. 4
executed an affidavit dated December 11, 1986 stating that they had lived
together as husband and wife for at least five years and were thus exempt The two marriages involved herein having been solemnized prior to the
from securing a marriage license. On February 19, 1997, Pepito died in a effectivity of the Family Code (FC), the applicable law to determine their
car accident. After their father's death, petitioners filed a petition for validity is the Civil Code which was the law in effect at the time of their
declaration of nullity of the marriage of Pepito to Norma alleging that the celebration. 5 A valid marriage license is a requisite of marriage under
said marriage was void for lack of a marriage license. The case was filed Article 53 of the Civil Code, 6 the absence of which renders the marriage
under the assumption that the validity or invalidity of the second marriage void ab initio pursuant to Article 80(3) 7 in relation to Article 58. 8 The
would affect petitioner's successional rights. Norma filed a motion to requirement and issuance of marriage license is the State's demonstration
dismiss on the ground that petitioners have no cause of action since they of its involvement and participation in every marriage, in the maintenance
are not among the persons who could file an action for "annulment of of which the general public is interested. 9 This interest proceeds from the
marriage" under Article 47 of the Family Code. constitutional mandate that the State recognizes the sanctity of family life
and of affording protection to the family as a basic "autonomous social
Judge Ferdinand J. Marcos of the Regional Trial Court of Toledo City, Cebu, institution." 10 Specifically, the Constitution considers marriage as an
Branch 59, dismissed the petition after finding that the Family Code is "inviolable social institution," and is the foundation of family life which
"rather silent, obscure, insufficient" to resolve the following issues: shall be protected by the State. 11 This is why the Family Code considers
marriage as "a special contract of permanent union" 12 and case law
(1) Whether or not plaintiffs have a cause of action against defendant in considers it "not just an adventure but a lifetime commitment." 13
asking for the declaration of the nullity of marriage of their deceased
father, Pepito G. Niñal, with her specially so when at the time of the filing However, there are several instances recognized by the Civil Code wherein
of this instant suit, their father Pepito G. Niñal is already dead; a marriage license is dispensed with, one of which is that provided in
Article 76, 14 referring to the marriage of a man and a woman who have that continuous 5-year cohabitation is computed without any distinction as
lived together and exclusively with each other as husband and wife for a to whether the parties were capacitated to marry each other during the
continuous and unbroken period of at least five years before the marriage. entire five years, then the law would be sanctioning immorality and
The rationale why no license is required in such case is to avoid exposing encouraging parties to have common law relationships and placing them
the parties to humiliation, shame and embarrassment concomitant with on the same footing with those who lived faithfully with their spouse.
the scandalous cohabitation of persons outside a valid marriage due to the Marriage being a special relationship must be respected as such and its
publication of every applicant's name for a marriage license. The publicity requirements must be strictly observed. The presumption that a man and a
attending the marriage license may discourage such persons from woman deporting themselves as husband and wife is based on the
legitimizing their status. 15 To preserve peace in the family, avoid the approximation of the requirements of the law. The parties should not be
peeping and suspicious eye of public exposure and contain the source of afforded any excuse to not comply with every single requirement and later
gossip arising from the publication of their names, the law deemed it wise use the same missing element as a pre-conceived escape ground to nullify
to preserve their privacy and exempt them from that requirement. their marriage. There should be no exemption from securing a marriage
license unless the circumstances clearly fall within the ambit of the
There is no dispute that the marriage of petitioners' father to respondent exception. It should be noted that a license is required in order to notify
Norma was celebrated without any marriage license. In lieu thereof, they the public that two persons are about to be united in matrimony and that
executed an affidavit stating that "they have attained the age of majority, anyone who is aware or has knowledge of any impediment to the union of
and, being unmarried, have lived together as husband and wife for at least the two shall make it known to the local civil registrar. 17 The Civil Code
five years, and that we now desire to marry each other." 16 The only issue provides:
that needs to be resolved pertains to what nature of cohabitation is
contemplated under Article 76 of the Civil Code to warrant the counting of Art. 63: . . . This notice shall request all persons having knowledge of any
the five year period in order to exempt the future spouses from securing a impediment to the marriage to advice the local civil registrar thereof. . . .
marriage license. Should it be a cohabitation wherein both parties are
capacitated to marry each other during the entire five-year continuous Art. 64: Upon being advised of any alleged impediment to the marriage,
period or should it be a cohabitation wherein both parties have lived the local civil registrar shall forthwith make an investigation, examining
together and exclusively with each other as husband and wife during the persons under oath. . . .
entire five-year continuous period regardless of whether there is a legal
impediment to their being lawfully married, which impediment may have This is reiterated in the Family Code thus:
either disappeared or intervened sometime during the cohabitation
period? Art. 17 provides in part: . . . This notice shall request all persons having
knowledge of any impediment to the marriage to advise the local civil
Working on the assumption that Pepito and Norma have lived together as registrar thereof. . . .
husband and wife for five years without the benefit of marriage, that five-
year period should be computed on the basis of a cohabitation as Art. 18 reads in part: . . . In case of any impediment known to the local civil
"husband and wife" where the only missing factor is the special contract of registrar or brought to his attention, he shall note down the particulars
marriage to validate the union. In other words, the five-year common-law thereof and his findings thereon in the application for a marriage license. . .
cohabitation period, which is counted back from the date of celebration of .
marriage, should be a period of legal union had it not been for the absence
of the marriage. This 5-year period should be the years immediately before This is the same reason why our civil laws, past or present, absolutely
the day of the marriage and it should be a period of cohabitation prohibited the concurrence of multiple marriages by the same person
characterized by exclusivity — meaning no third party was involved at during the same period. Thus, any marriage subsequently contracted
anytime within the 5 years and continuity — that is unbroken. Otherwise, if during the lifetime of the first spouse shall be illegal and void, 18 subject
only to the exception in cases of absence or where the prior marriage was considered as having never to have taken place 21 and cannot be the
dissolved or annulled. The Revised Penal Code complements the civil law in source of rights. The first can be generally ratified or confirmed by free
that the contracting of two or more marriages and the having of cohabitation or prescription while the other can never be ratified. A
extramarital affairs are considered felonies, i.e., bigamy and concubinage voidable marriage cannot be assailed collaterally except in a direct
and adultery. 19 The law sanctions monogamy. proceeding while a void marriage can be attacked collaterally.
Consequently, void marriages can be questioned even after the death of
In this case, at the time of Pepito and respondent's marriage, it cannot be either party but voidable marriages can be assailed only during the lifetime
said that they have lived with each other as husband and wife for at least of the parties and not after death of either, in which case the parties and
five years prior to their wedding day. From the time Pepito's first marriage their offspring will be left as if the marriage had been perfectly valid. 22
was dissolved to the time of his marriage with respondent, only about That is why the action or defense for nullity is imprescriptible, unlike
twenty months had elapsed. Even assuming that Pepito and his first wife voidable marriages where the action prescribes. Only the parties to a
had separated in fact, and thereafter both Pepito and respondent had voidable marriage can assail it but any proper interested party may attack a
started living with each other that has already lasted for five years, the fact void marriage. Void marriages have no legal effects except those declared
remains that their five-year period cohabitation was not the cohabitation by law concerning the properties of the alleged spouses, regarding co-
contemplated by law. It should be in the nature of a perfect union that is ownership or ownership through actual joint contribution, 23 and its effect
valid under the law but rendered imperfect only by the absence of the on the children born to such void marriages as provided in Article 50 in
marriage contract. Pepito had a subsisting marriage at the time when he relation to Article 43 and 44 as well as Article 51, 53 and 54 of the Family
started cohabiting with respondent. It is immaterial that when they lived Code. On the contrary, the property regime governing voidable marriages is
with each other, Pepito had already been separated in fact from his lawful generally conjugal partnership and the children conceived before its
spouse. The subsistence of the marriage even where there was actual annulment are legitimate.
severance of the filial companionship between the spouses cannot make
any cohabitation by either spouse with any third party as being one as Contrary to the trial court's ruling, the death of petitioner's father
"husband and wife". extinguished the alleged marital bond between him and respondent. The
conclusion is erroneous and proceeds from a wrong premise that there was
Having determined that the second marriage involved in this case is not a marriage bond that was dissolved between the two. It should be noted
covered by the exception to the requirement of a marriage license, it is that their marriage was void hence it is deemed as if it never existed at all
void ab initio because of the absence of such element. and the death of either extinguished nothing.

The next issue to be resolved is: do petitioners have the personality to file a Jurisprudence under the Civil Code states that no judicial decree is
petition to declare their father's marriage void after his death? necessary in order to establish the nullity of a marriage. 24 "A void
marriage does not require a judicial decree to restore the parties to their
Contrary to respondent judge's ruling, Article 47 of the Family Code 20 original rights or to make the marriage void but though no sentence of
cannot be applied even by analogy to petitions for declaration of nullity of avoidance be absolutely necessary, yet as well for the sake of good order of
marriage. The second ground for annulment of marriage relied upon by the society as for the peace of mind of all concerned, it is expedient that the
trial court, which allows "the sane spouse" to file an annulment suit "at nullity of the marriage should be ascertained and declared by the decree of
anytime before the death of either party" is inapplicable. Article 47 a court of competent jurisdiction." 25 "Under ordinary circumstances, the
pertains to the grounds, periods and persons who can file an annulment effect of a void marriage, so far as concerns the conferring of legal rights
suit, not a suit for declaration of nullity of marriage. The Code is silent as to upon the parties, is as though no marriage had ever taken place. And
who can file a petition to declare the nullity of a marriage. Voidable and therefore, being good for no legal purpose, its invalidity can be maintained
void marriages are not identical. A marriage that is annulable is valid until in any proceeding in which the fact of marriage may be material, either
otherwise declared by the court; whereas a marriage that is void ab initio is direct or collateral, in any civil court between any parties at any time,
whether before or after the death of either or both the husband and the
wife, and upon mere proof of the facts rendering such marriage void, it will
be disregarded or treated as non-existent by the courts." It is not like a
voidable marriage which cannot be collaterally attacked except in direct
proceeding instituted during the lifetime of the parties so that on the death
of either, the marriage cannot be impeached, and is made good ab initio.
26 But Article 40 of the Family Code expressly provides that there must be
a judicial declaration of the nullity of a previous marriage, though void,
before a party can enter into a second marriage 27 and such absolute
nullity can be based only on a final judgment to that effect. 28 For the
same reason, the law makes either the action or defense for the
declaration of absolute nullity of marriage imprescriptible. 29 Corollarily, if
the death of either party would extinguish the cause of action or the
ground for defense, then the same cannot be considered imprescriptible.

However, other than for purposes of remarriage, no judicial action is


necessary to declare a marriage an absolute nullity.1âwphi1 For other
purposes, such as but not limited to 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 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 connotes that such final judgment need not be obtained only for
purpose of remarriage.

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The assailed Order of the Regional


Trial Court, Toledo City, Cebu, Branch 59, dismissing Civil Case No. T-639, is
REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The said case is ordered
REINSTATED.1âwphi1.nêt

SO ORDERED.
AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, J.,
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, Acting Chairperson,
Petitioner, TINGA,*
CHICO-NAZARIO,
- versus - VELASCO,** and
REYES, JJ.
JOSE A. DAYOT,
Respondent.
x------------------x Promulgated:
FELISA TECSON-DAYOT,
Petitioner, March 28, 2008
x- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x

DECISION

- versus - CHICO-NAZARIO, J.:

Before us are two consolidated petitions. G.R. No. 175581 and G.R. No.
179474 are Petitions for Review under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court filed by
the Republic of the Philippines and Felisa Tecson-Dayot (Felisa),
respectively, both challenging the Amended Decision[1] of the Court of
Appeals, dated 7 November 2006, in CA-G.R. CV No. 68759, which declared
JOSE A. DAYOT,
the marriage between Jose Dayot (Jose) and Felisa void ab initio.
Respondent.
The records disclose that on 24 November 1986, Jose and Felisa were
married at the Pasay City Hall. The marriage was solemnized by Rev. Tomas
G.R. No. 175581 V. Atienza.[2] In lieu of a marriage license, Jose and Felisa executed a sworn
affidavit,[3] also dated 24 November 1986, attesting that both of them had
attained the age of maturity, and that being unmarried, they had lived
together as husband and wife for at least five years.

On 7 July 1993, Jose filed a Complaint[4] for Annulment and/or Declaration


of Nullity of Marriage with the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Bian, Laguna,
Branch 25. He contended that his marriage with Felisa was a sham, as no
marriage ceremony was celebrated between the parties; that he did not
G.R. No. 179474 execute the sworn affidavit stating that he and Felisa had lived as husband
and wife for at least five years; and that his consent to the marriage was
secured through fraud.
Present:
In his Complaint, Jose gave his version of the events which led to his filing
of the same. According to Jose, he was introduced to Felisa in 1986.
Immediately thereafter, he came to live as a boarder in Felisas house, the The RTC ruled that from the testimonies and evidence presented, the
latter being his landlady. Some three weeks later, Felisa requested him to marriage celebrated between Jose and Felisa on 24 November 1986 was
accompany her to the Pasay City Hall, ostensibly so she could claim a valid. It dismissed Joses version of the story as implausible, and rationalized
package sent to her by her brother from Saudi Arabia. At the Pasay City that:
Hall, upon a pre-arranged signal from Felisa, a man bearing three folded
pieces of paper approached them. They were told that Jose needed to sign Any person in his right frame of mind would easily suspect any attempt to
the papers so that the package could be released to Felisa. He initially make him or her sign a blank sheet of paper. [Jose] could have already
refused to do so. However, Felisa cajoled him, and told him that his refusal detected that something was amiss, unusual, as they were at Pasay City
could get both of them killed by her brother who had learned about their Hall to get a package for [Felisa] but it [was] he who was made to sign the
relationship. Reluctantly, he signed the pieces of paper, and gave them to pieces of paper for the release of the said package. Another indirect
the man who immediately left. It was in February 1987 when he discovered suggestion that could have put him on guard was the fact that, by his own
that he had contracted marriage with Felisa. He alleged that he saw a piece admission, [Felisa] told him that her brother would kill them if he will not
of paper lying on top of the table at the sala of Felisas house. When he sign the papers. And yet it took him, more or less, three months to discover
perused the same, he discovered that it was a copy of his marriage contract that the pieces of paper that he signed was [sic] purportedly the marriage
with Felisa. When he confronted Felisa, the latter feigned ignorance. contract. [Jose] does not seem to be that ignorant, as perceived by this
Court, to be taken in for a ride by [Felisa.]
In opposing the Complaint, Felisa denied Joses allegations and defended
the validity of their marriage. She declared that they had maintained their [Joses] claim that he did not consent to the marriage was belied by the fact
relationship as man and wife absent the legality of marriage in the early that he acknowledged Felisa Tecson as his wife when he wrote [Felisas]
part of 1980, but that she had deferred contracting marriage with him on name in the duly notarized statement of assets and liabilities he filled up
account of their age difference.[5] In her pre-trial brief, Felisa expounded on May 12, 1988, one year after he discovered the marriage contract he is
that while her marriage to Jose was subsisting, the latter contracted now claiming to be sham and false. [Jose], again, in his company I.D., wrote
marriage with a certain Rufina Pascual (Rufina) on 31 August 1990. On 3 the name of [Felisa] as the person to be contacted in case of emergency.
June 1993, Felisa filed an action for bigamy against Jose. Subsequently, she This Court does not believe that the only reason why her name was written
filed an administrative complaint against Jose with the Office of the in his company I.D. was because he was residing there then. This is just but
Ombudsman, since Jose and Rufina were both employees of the National a lame excuse because if he really considers her not his lawfully wedded
Statistics and Coordinating Board.[6] The Ombudsman found Jose wife, he would have written instead the name of his sister.
administratively liable for disgraceful and immoral conduct, and meted out
to him the penalty of suspension from service for one year without When [Joses] sister was put into the witness stand, under oath, she
emolument.[7] testified that she signed her name voluntarily as a witness to the marriage
in the marriage certificate (T.S.N., page 25, November 29, 1996) and she
On 26 July 2000, the RTC rendered a Decision[8] dismissing the Complaint. further testified that the signature appearing over the name of Jose Dayot
It disposed: was the signature of his [sic] brother that he voluntarily affixed in the
marriage contract (page 26 of T.S.N. taken on November 29, 1996), and
WHEREFORE, after a careful evaluation and analysis of the evidence when she was asked by the Honorable Court if indeed she believed that
presented by both parties, this Court finds and so holds that the Felisa Tecson was really chosen by her brother she answered yes. The
[C]omplaint does not deserve a favorable consideration. Accordingly, the testimony of his sister all the more belied his claim that his consent was
above-entitled case is hereby ordered DISMISSED with costs against [Jose]. procured through fraud.[10]
[9]
an action for annulment of marriage. However, it was only on July 7, 1993
that Jose filed the complaint for annulment of his marriage to Felisa.[15]
Moreover, on the matter of fraud, the RTC ruled that Joses action had
prescribed. It cited Article 87[11] of the New Civil Code which requires that
the action for annulment of marriage must be commenced by the injured Likewise, the Court of Appeals did not accept Joses assertion that his
party within four years after the discovery of the fraud. Thus: marriage to Felisa was void ab initio for lack of a marriage license. It ruled
that the marriage was solemnized under Article 76[16] of the Civil Code as
That granting even for the sake of argument that his consent was obtained one of exceptional character, with the parties executing an affidavit of
by [Felisa] through fraud, trickery and machinations, he could have filed an marriage between man and woman who have lived together as husband
annulment or declaration of nullity of marriage at the earliest possible and wife for at least five years. The Court of Appeals concluded that the
opportunity, the time when he discovered the alleged sham and false falsity in the affidavit to the effect that Jose and Felisa had lived together as
marriage contract. [Jose] did not take any action to void the marriage at husband and wife for the period required by Article 76 did not affect the
the earliest instance. x x x.[12] validity of the marriage, seeing that the solemnizing officer was misled by
the statements contained therein. In this manner, the Court of Appeals
gave credence to the good-faith reliance of the solemnizing officer over the
Undeterred, Jose filed an appeal from the foregoing RTC Decision to the falsity of the affidavit. The appellate court further noted that on the dorsal
Court of Appeals. In a Decision dated 11 August 2005, the Court of Appeals side of said affidavit of marriage, Rev. Tomas V. Atienza, the solemnizing
found the appeal to be without merit. The dispositive portion of the officer, stated that he took steps to ascertain the ages and other
appellate courts Decision reads: qualifications of the contracting parties and found no legal impediment to
their marriage. Finally, the Court of Appeals dismissed Joses argument that
neither he nor Felisa was a member of the sect to which Rev. Tomas V.
WHEREFORE, the Decision appealed from is AFFIRMED.[13]
Atienza belonged. According to the Court of Appeals, Article 56[17] of the
Civil Code did not require that either one of the contracting parties to the
The Court of Appeals applied the Civil Code to the marriage between Jose
marriage must belong to the solemnizing officers church or religious sect.
and Felisa as it was solemnized prior to the effectivity of the Family Code.
The prescription was established only in Article 7[18] of the Family Code
The appellate court observed that the circumstances constituting fraud as a
which does not govern the parties marriage.
ground for annulment of marriage under Article 86[14] of the Civil Code did
not exist in the marriage between the parties. Further, it ruled that the
Differing with the ruling of the Court of Appeals, Jose filed a Motion for
action for annulment of marriage on the ground of fraud was filed beyond
Reconsideration thereof. His central opposition was that the requisites for
the prescriptive period provided by law. The Court of Appeals struck down
the proper application of the exemption from a marriage license under
Joses appeal in the following manner:
Article 76 of the Civil Code were not fully attendant in the case at bar. In
particular, Jose cited the legal condition that the man and the woman must
Nonetheless, even if we consider that fraud or intimidation was employed
have been living together as husband and wife for at least five years before
on Jose in giving his consent to the marriage, the action for the annulment
the marriage. Essentially, he maintained that the affidavit of marital
thereof had already prescribed. Article 87 (4) and (5) of the Civil Code
cohabitation executed by him and Felisa was false.
provides that the action for annulment of marriage on the ground that the
consent of a party was obtained by fraud, force or intimidation must be
The Court of Appeals granted Joses Motion for Reconsideration and
commenced by said party within four (4) years after the discovery of the
reversed itself. Accordingly, it rendered an Amended Decision, dated 7
fraud and within four (4) years from the time the force or intimidation
November 2006, the fallo of which reads:
ceased. Inasmuch as the fraud was allegedly discovered by Jose in
February, 1987 then he had only until February, 1991 within which to file
WHEREFORE, the Decision dated August 11, 2005 is RECALLED and SET
ASIDE and another one entered declaring the marriage between Jose A. Article 80(3) of the Civil Code provides that a marriage solemnized without
Dayot and Felisa C. Tecson void ab initio. a marriage license, save marriages of exceptional character, shall be void
Furnish a copy of this Amended Decision to the Local Civil Registrar of from the beginning. Inasmuch as the marriage between Jose and Felisa is
Pasay City.[19] not covered by the exception to the requirement of a marriage license, it is,
therefore, void ab initio because of the absence of a marriage license.[21]

In its Amended Decision, the Court of Appeals relied on the ruling of this
Court in Nial v. Bayadog,[20] and reasoned that: Felisa sought reconsideration of the Amended Decision, but to no avail. The
appellate court rendered a Resolution[22] dated 10 May 2007, denying
In Nial v. Bayadog, where the contracting parties to a marriage solemnized Felisas motion.
without a marriage license on the basis of their affidavit that they had
attained the age of majority, that being unmarried, they had lived together Meanwhile, the Republic of the Philippines, through the Office of the
for at least five (5) years and that they desired to marry each other, the Solicitor General (OSG), filed a Petition for Review before this Court in G.R.
Supreme Court ruled as follows: No. 175581, praying that the Court of Appeals Amended Decision dated 7
November 2006 be reversed and set aside for lack of merit, and that the
x x x In other words, the five-year common-law cohabitation period, which marriage between Jose and Felisa be declared valid and subsisting. Felisa
is counted back from the date of celebration of marriage, should be a filed a separate Petition for Review, docketed as G.R. No. 179474, similarly
period of legal union had it not been for the absence of the marriage. This assailing the appellate courts Amended Decision. On 1 August 2007, this
5-year period should be the years immediately before the day of the Court resolved to consolidate the two Petitions in the interest of uniformity
marriage and it should be a period of cohabitation characterized by of the Court rulings in similar cases brought before it for resolution.[23]
exclusivity meaning no third party was involved at any time within the 5
years and continuity that is unbroken. Otherwise, if that continuous 5-year The Republic of the Philippines propounds the following arguments for the
cohabitation is computed without any distinction as to whether the parties allowance of its Petition, to wit:
were capacitated to marry each other during the entire five years, then the
law would be sanctioning immorality and encouraging parties to have I
common law relationships and placing them on the same footing with
those who lived faithfully with their spouse. Marriage being a special RESPONDENT FAILED TO OVERTHROW THE PRESUMPTION OF THE
relationship must be respected as such and its requirements must be VALIDITY OF HIS MARRIAGE TO FELISA.
strictly observed. The presumption that a man and a woman deporting
themselves as husband and wife is based on the approximation of the II
requirements of the law. The parties should not be afforded any excuse to
not comply with every single requirement and later use the same missing
RESPONDENT DID NOT COME TO THE COURT WITH CLEAN HANDS AND
element as a pre-conceived escape ground to nullify their marriage. There
SHOULD NOT BE ALLOWED TO PROFIT FROM HIS OWN FRAUDULENT
should be no exemption from securing a marriage license unless the
CONDUCT.
circumstances clearly fall within the ambit of the exception. It should be
noted that a license is required in order to notify the public that two
persons are about to be united in matrimony and that anyone who is aware III
or has knowledge of any impediment to the union of the two shall make it
known to the local civil registrar. RESPONDENT IS ESTOPPED FROM ASSAILING THE LEGALITY OF HIS
MARRIAGE FOR LACK OF MARRIAGE LICEN[S]E.[24]
in said barangay; and (3) Joses company ID card, dated 2 May 1988,
indicating Felisas name as his wife.
Correlative to the above, Felisa submits that the Court of Appeals
misapplied Nial.[25] She differentiates the case at bar from Nial by The first assignment of error compels this Court to rule on the issue of the
reasoning that one of the parties therein had an existing prior marriage, a effect of a false affidavit under Article 76 of the Civil Code. A survey of the
circumstance which does not obtain in her cohabitation with Jose. Finally, prevailing rules is in order.
Felisa adduces that Jose only sought the annulment of their marriage after
a criminal case for bigamy and an administrative case had been filed It is beyond dispute that the marriage of Jose and Felisa was celebrated on
against him in order to avoid liability. Felisa surmises that the declaration of 24 November 1986, prior to the effectivity of the Family Code. Accordingly,
nullity of their marriage would exonerate Jose from any liability. the Civil Code governs their union. Article 53 of the Civil Code spells out the
essential requisites of marriage as a contract:
For our resolution is the validity of the marriage between Jose and Felisa.
To reach a considered ruling on the issue, we shall jointly tackle the related ART. 53. No marriage shall be solemnized unless all these requisites are
arguments vented by petitioners Republic of the Philippines and Felisa. complied with:

The Republic of the Philippines asserts that several circumstances give rise (1) Legal capacity of the contracting parties;
to the presumption that a valid marriage exists between Jose and Felisa.
For her part, Felisa echoes the claim that any doubt should be resolved in (2) Their consent, freely given;
favor of the validity of the marriage by citing this Courts ruling in
Hernandez v. Court of Appeals.[26] To buttress its assertion, the Republic (3) Authority of the person performing the marriage; and
points to the affidavit executed by Jose and Felisa, dated 24 November
1986, attesting that they have lived together as husband and wife for at (4) A marriage license, except in a marriage of exceptional character.
least five years, which they used in lieu of a marriage license. It is the (Emphasis ours.)
Republics position that the falsity of the statements in the affidavit does
not affect the validity of the marriage, as the essential and formal
requisites were complied with; and the solemnizing officer was not
Article 58[27] makes explicit that no marriage shall be solemnized without
required to investigate as to whether the said affidavit was legally
a license first being issued by the local civil registrar of the municipality
obtained. The Republic opines that as a marriage under a license is not
where either contracting party habitually resides, save marriages of an
invalidated by the fact that the license was wrongfully obtained, so must a
exceptional character authorized by the Civil Code, but not those under
marriage not be invalidated by the fact that the parties incorporated a
Article 75.[28] Article 80(3)[29] of the Civil Code makes it clear that a
fabricated statement in their affidavit that they cohabited as husband and
marriage performed without the corresponding marriage license is void,
wife for at least five years. In addition, the Republic posits that the parties
this being nothing more than the legitimate consequence flowing from the
marriage contract states that their marriage was solemnized under Article
fact that the license is the essence of the marriage contract.[30] This is in
76 of the Civil Code. It also bears the signature of the parties and their
stark contrast to the old Marriage Law,[31] whereby the absence of a
witnesses, and must be considered a primary evidence of marriage. To
marriage license did not make the marriage void. The rationale for the
further fortify its Petition, the Republic adduces the following documents:
compulsory character of a marriage license under the Civil Code is that it is
(1) Joses notarized Statement of Assets and Liabilities, dated 12 May 1988
the authority granted by the State to the contracting parties, after the
wherein he wrote Felisas name as his wife; (2) Certification dated 25 July
proper government official has inquired into their capacity to contract
1993 issued by the Barangay Chairman 192, Zone ZZ, District 24 of Pasay
marriage.[32]
City, attesting that Jose and Felisa had lived together as husband and wife
Under the Civil Code, marriages of exceptional character are covered by Under the rules of statutory construction, exceptions, as a general rule,
Chapter 2, Title III, comprising Articles 72 to 79. To wit, these marriages should be strictly[38] but reasonably construed.[39] They extend only so
are: (1) marriages in articulo mortis or at the point of death during peace far as their language fairly warrants, and all doubts should be resolved in
or war, (2) marriages in remote places, (2) consular marriages,[33] (3) favor of the general provisions rather than the exception.[40] Where a
ratification of marital cohabitation, (4) religious ratification of a civil general rule is established by statute with exceptions, the court will not
marriage, (5) Mohammedan or pagan marriages, and (6) mixed marriages. curtail the former or add to the latter by implication.[41] For the exception
[34] in Article 76 to apply, it is a sine qua non thereto that the man and the
woman must have attained the age of majority, and that, being unmarried,
The instant case pertains to a ratification of marital cohabitation under they have lived together as husband and wife for at least five years.
Article 76 of the Civil Code, which provides:
A strict but reasonable construction of Article 76 leaves us with no other
ART. 76. No marriage license shall be necessary when a man and a woman expediency but to read the law as it is plainly written. The exception of a
who have attained the age of majority and who, being unmarried, have marriage license under Article 76 applies only to those who have lived
lived together as husband and wife for at least five years, desire to marry together as husband and wife for at least five years and desire to marry
each other. The contracting parties shall state the foregoing facts in an each other. The Civil Code, in no ambiguous terms, places a minimum
affidavit before any person authorized by law to administer oaths. The period requirement of five years of cohabitation. No other reading of the
official, priest or minister who solemnized the marriage shall also state in law can be had, since the language of Article 76 is precise. The minimum
an affidavit that he took steps to ascertain the ages and other qualifications requisite of five years of cohabitation is an indispensability carved in the
of the contracting parties and that he found no legal impediment to the language of the law. For a marriage celebrated under Article 76 to be valid,
marriage. this material fact cannot be dispensed with. It is embodied in the law not
as a directory requirement, but as one that partakes of a mandatory
character. It is worthy to mention that Article 76 also prescribes that the
The reason for the law,[35] as espoused by the Code Commission, is that contracting parties shall state the requisite facts[42] in an affidavit before
the publicity attending a marriage license may discourage such persons any person authorized by law to administer oaths; and that the official,
who have lived in a state of cohabitation from legalizing their status.[36] priest or minister who solemnized the marriage shall also state in an
affidavit that he took steps to ascertain the ages and other qualifications of
the contracting parties and that he found no legal impediment to the
It is not contested herein that the marriage of Jose and Felisa was
marriage.
performed without a marriage license. In lieu thereof, they executed an
affidavit declaring that they have attained the age of maturity; that being
unmarried, they have lived together as husband and wife for at least five It is indubitably established that Jose and Felisa have not lived together for
years; and that because of this union, they desire to marry each other.[37] five years at the time they executed their sworn affidavit and contracted
One of the central issues in the Petition at bar is thus: whether the falsity marriage. The Republic admitted that Jose and Felisa started living together
of an affidavit of marital cohabitation, where the parties have in truth only in June 1986, or barely five months before the celebration of their
fallen short of the minimum five-year requirement, effectively renders the marriage.[43] The Court of Appeals also noted Felisas testimony that Jose
marriage void ab initio for lack of a marriage license. was introduced to her by her neighbor, Teresita Perwel, sometime in
February or March 1986 after the EDSA Revolution.[44] The appellate court
also cited Felisas own testimony that it was only in June 1986 when Jose
We answer in the affirmative.
commenced to live in her house.[45]
Marriages of exceptional character are, doubtless, the exceptions to the
Moreover, it is noteworthy that the question as to whether they satisfied
rule on the indispensability of the formal requisite of a marriage license.
the minimum five-year requisite is factual in nature. A question of fact
arises when there is a need to decide on the truth or falsehood of the institute a Complaint for Annulment and/or Declaration of Nullity of
alleged facts.[46] Under Rule 45, factual findings are ordinarily not subject Marriage, which spawned the instant consolidated Petitions.
to this Courts review.[47] It is already well-settled that:
In the same vein, the declaration of the Civil Code[51] that every
The general rule is that the findings of facts of the Court of Appeals are intendment of law or fact leans towards the validity of marriage will not
binding on this Court. A recognized exception to this rule is when the salvage the parties marriage, and extricate them from the effect of a
Court of Appeals and the trial court, or in this case the administrative body, violation of the law. The marriage of Jose and Felisa was entered into
make contradictory findings. However, the exception does not apply in without the requisite marriage license or compliance with the stringent
every instance that the Court of Appeals and the trial court or requirements of a marriage under exceptional circumstance. The
administrative body disagree. The factual findings of the Court of Appeals solemnization of a marriage without prior license is a clear violation of the
remain conclusive on this Court if such findings are supported by the law and would lead or could be used, at least, for the perpetration of fraud
record or based on substantial evidence.[48] against innocent and unwary parties, which was one of the evils that the
law sought to prevent by making a prior license a prerequisite for a valid
marriage.[52] The protection of marriage as a sacred institution requires
Therefore, the falsity of the affidavit dated 24 November 1986, executed by not just the defense of a true and genuine union but the exposure of an
Jose and Felisa to exempt them from the requirement of a marriage invalid one as well.[53] To permit a false affidavit to take the place of a
license, is beyond question. marriage license is to allow an abject circumvention of the law. If this Court
is to protect the fabric of the institution of marriage, we must be wary of
We cannot accept the insistence of the Republic that the falsity of the deceptive schemes that violate the legal measures set forth in our laws.
statements in the parties affidavit will not affect the validity of marriage,
since all the essential and formal requisites were complied with. The Similarly, we are not impressed by the ratiocination of the Republic that as
argument deserves scant merit. Patently, it cannot be denied that the a marriage under a license is not invalidated by the fact that the license
marriage between Jose and Felisa was celebrated without the formal was wrongfully obtained, so must a marriage not be invalidated by a
requisite of a marriage license. Neither did Jose and Felisa meet the explicit fabricated statement that the parties have cohabited for at least five years
legal requirement in Article 76, that they should have lived together as as required by law. The contrast is flagrant. The former is with reference to
husband and wife for at least five years, so as to be excepted from the an irregularity of the marriage license, and not to the absence of one. Here,
requirement of a marriage license. there is no marriage license at all. Furthermore, the falsity of the allegation
in the sworn affidavit relating to the period of Jose and Felisas
Anent petitioners reliance on the presumption of marriage, this Court cohabitation, which would have qualified their marriage as an exception to
holds that the same finds no applicability to the case at bar. Essentially, the requirement for a marriage license, cannot be a mere irregularity, for it
when we speak of a presumption of marriage, it is with reference to the refers to a quintessential fact that the law precisely required to be deposed
prima facie presumption that a man and a woman deporting themselves as and attested to by the parties under oath. If the essential matter in the
husband and wife have entered into a lawful contract of marriage.[49] sworn affidavit is a lie, then it is but a mere scrap of paper, without force
Restated more explicitly, persons dwelling together in apparent matrimony and effect. Hence, it is as if there was no affidavit at all.
are presumed, in the absence of any counter-presumption or evidence
special to the case, to be in fact married.[50] The present case does not In its second assignment of error, the Republic puts forth the argument
involve an apparent marriage to which the presumption still needs to be that based on equity, Jose should be denied relief because he perpetrated
applied. There is no question that Jose and Felisa actually entered into a the fabrication, and cannot thereby profit from his wrongdoing. This is a
contract of marriage on 24 November 1986, hence, compelling Jose to misplaced invocation. It must be stated that equity finds no room for
application where there is a law.[54] There is a law on the ratification of
marital cohabitation, which is set in precise terms under Article 76 of the
Civil Code. Nonetheless, the authorities are consistent that the declaration
of nullity of the parties marriage is without prejudice to their criminal
liability.[55]

The Republic further avers in its third assignment of error that Jose is
deemed estopped from assailing the legality of his marriage for lack of a
marriage license. It is claimed that Jose and Felisa had lived together from
1986 to 1990, notwithstanding Joses subsequent marriage to Rufina
Pascual on 31 August 1990, and that it took Jose seven years before he
sought the declaration of nullity; hence, estoppel had set in.

This is erroneous. An action for nullity of marriage is imprescriptible.[56]


Jose and Felisas marriage was celebrated sans a marriage license. No other
conclusion can be reached except that it is void ab initio. In this case, the
right to impugn a void marriage does not prescribe, and may be raised any
time.

Lastly, to settle all doubts, jurisprudence has laid down the rule that the
five-year common-law cohabitation period under Article 76 means a five-
year period computed back from the date of celebration of marriage, and
refers to a period of legal union had it not been for the absence of a
marriage.[57] It covers the years immediately preceding the day of the
marriage, characterized by exclusivity - meaning no third party was
involved at any time within the five years - and continuity that is unbroken.
[58]

WHEREFORE, the Petitions are DENIED. The Amended Decision of the Court
of Appeals, dated 7 November 2006 in CA-G.R. CV No. 68759, declaring the
marriage of Jose Dayot to Felisa Tecson-Dayot void ab initio, is AFFIRMED,
without prejudice to their criminal liability, if any. No costs.

SO ORDERED.
On November 23, 1994, private respondents Haja Putri Zorayda A. Tamano
(Zorayda) and her son Adib Ahmad A. Tamano (Adib), in their own behalf
and in behalf of the rest of Sen. Tamano’s legitimate children with
Zorayda,5 filed a complaint with the RTC of Quezon City for the declaration
of nullity of marriage between Estrellita and Sen. Tamano for being
bigamous. The complaint6 alleged, inter alia, that Sen. Tamano married
Zorayda on May 31, 1958 under civil rites, and that this marriage remained
G.R. No. 169766 March 30, 2011 subsisting when he married Estrellita in 1993. The complaint likewise
averred that:
ESTRELLITA JULIANO-LLAVE, Petitioner,
vs. 11. The marriage of the deceased and Complainant Zorayda, having been
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, HAJA PUTRI ZORAYDA A. TAMANO and ADIB celebrated under the New Civil Code, is therefore governed by this law.
AHMAD A. TAMANO, Respondents. Based on Article 35 (4) of the Family Code, the subsequent marriage
entered into by deceased Mamintal with Defendant Llave is void ab initio
DECISION because he contracted the same while his prior marriage to Complainant
Zorayda was still subsisting, and his status being declared as "divorced" has
DEL CASTILLO, J.: no factual or legal basis, because the deceased never divorced Complainant
Zorayda in his lifetime, and he could not have validly done so because
A new law ought to affect the future, not what is past. Hence, in the case of divorce is not allowed under the New Civil Code;
subsequent marriage laws, no vested rights shall be impaired that pertain
to the protection of the legitimate union of a married couple. 11.1 Moreover, the deceased did not and could not have divorced
Complainant Zorayda by invoking the provision of P.D. 1083, otherwise
This petition for review on certiorari assails the Decision1 dated August 17, known as the Code of Muslim Personal Laws, for the simple reason that the
2004 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CV No. 61762 and its marriage of the deceased with Complainant Zorayda was never deemed,
subsequent Resolution2 dated September 13, 2005, which affirmed the legally and factually, to have been one contracted under Muslim law as
Decision of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Quezon City, Branch 89 provided under Art. 186 (2) of P.D. 1083, since they (deceased and
declaring petitioner Estrellita Juliano-Llave’s (Estrellita) marriage to Sen. Complainant Zorayda) did not register their mutual desire to be thus
Mamintal A.J. Tamano (Sen. Tamano) as void ab initio. covered by this law;7

Factual Antecedents Summons was then served on Estrellita on December 19, 1994. She then
asked from the court for an extension of 30 days to file her answer to be
Around 11 months before his death, Sen. Tamano married Estrellita twice – counted from January 4, 1995,8 and again, another 15 days9 or until
initially under the Islamic laws and tradition on May 27, 1993 in Cotabato February 18, 1995, both of which the court granted.10
City3 and, subsequently, under a civil ceremony officiated by an RTC Judge
at Malabang, Lanao del Sur on June 2, 1993.4 In their marriage contracts, Instead of submitting her answer, however, Estrellita filed a Motion to
Sen. Tamano’s civil status was indicated as ‘divorced.’ Dismiss11 on February 20, 1995 where she declared that Sen. Tamano and
Zorayda are both Muslims who were married under the Muslim rites, as
Since then, Estrellita has been representing herself to the whole world as had been averred in the latter’s disbarment complaint against Sen.
Sen. Tamano’s wife, and upon his death, his widow. Tamano.12 Estrellita argued that the RTC has no jurisdiction to take
cognizance of the case because under Presidential Decree (PD) No. 1083,
or the Code of Muslim Personal Laws of the Philippines (Muslim Code),
questions and issues involving Muslim marriages and divorce fall under the
exclusive jurisdiction of shari’a courts. A few days before this resolution, or on August 18, 1998, the RTC rendered
the aforementioned judgment declaring Estrellita’s marriage with Sen.
The trial court denied Estrellita’s motion and asserted its jurisdiction over Tamano as void ab initio.28
the case for declaration of nullity.13 Thus, Estrellita filed in November 1995
a certiorari petition with this Court questioning the denial of her Motion to Ruling of the Regional Trial Court
Dismiss. On December 15, 1995, we referred the petition to the CA14
which was docketed thereat as CA-G.R. SP No. 39656. The RTC, finding that the marital ties of Sen. Tamano and Zorayda were
never severed, declared Sen. Tamano’s subsequent marriage to Estrellita as
During the pendency of CA-G.R. SP No. 39656, the RTC continued to try the void ab initio for being bigamous under Article 35 of the Family Code of the
case since there can be no default in cases of declaration of nullity of Philippines and under Article 83 of the Civil Code of the Philippines.29 The
marriage even if the respondent failed to file an answer. Estrellita was court said:
allowed to participate in the trial while her opposing parties presented
their evidence. When it was Estrellita’s turn to adduce evidence, the A comparison between Exhibits A and B (supra) immediately shows that
hearings set for such purpose15 were postponed mostly at her instance the second marriage of the late Senator with [Estrellita] was entered into
until the trial court, on March 22, 1996, suspended the proceedings16 in during the subsistence of his first marriage with [Zorayda]. This renders the
view of the CA’s temporary restraining order issued on February 29, 1996, subsequent marriage void from the very beginning. The fact that the late
enjoining it from hearing the case.17 Senator declared his civil status as "divorced" will not in any way affect the
void character of the second marriage because, in this jurisdiction, divorce
Eventually, however, the CA resolved the petition adverse to Estrellita in its obtained by the Filipino spouse is not an acceptable method of terminating
Decision dated September 30, 1996.18 Estrellita then elevated the the effects of a previous marriage, especially, where the subsequent
appellate court’s judgment to this Court by way of a petition for review on marriage was solemnized under the Civil Code or Family Code.30
certiorari docketed as G.R. No. 126603.19
Ruling of the Court of Appeals
Subsequent to the promulgation of the CA Decision, the RTC ordered
Estrellita to present her evidence on June 26, 1997.20 As Estrellita was In her appeal,31 Estrellita argued that she was denied her right to be heard
indisposed on that day, the hearing was reset to July 9, 1997.21 The day as
before this scheduled hearing, Estrellita again asked for a postponement.22
the RTC rendered its judgment even without waiting for the finality of the
Unhappy with the delays in the resolution of their case, Zorayda and Adib Decision of the Supreme Court in G.R. No. 126603. She claimed that the
moved to submit the case for decision,23 reasoning that Estrellita had long RTC should have required her to file her answer after the denial of her
been delaying the case. Estrellita opposed, on the ground that she has not motion to dismiss. She maintained that Sen. Tamano is capacitated to
yet filed her answer as she still awaits the outcome of G.R. No. 126603.24 marry her as his marriage and subsequent divorce with Zorayda is
governed by the Muslim Code. Lastly, she highlighted Zorayda’s lack of legal
On June 29, 1998, we upheld the jurisdiction of the RTC of Quezon City,25 standing to question the validity of her marriage to the deceased.
stating as one of the reasons that as shari’a courts are not vested with
original and exclusive jurisdiction in cases of marriages celebrated under In dismissing the appeal in its Decision dated August 17, 2004,32 the CA
both the Civil Code and PD 1083, the RTC, as a court of general jurisdiction, held that Estrellita can no longer be allowed to file her answer as she was
is not precluded from assuming jurisdiction over such cases. In our given ample opportunity to be heard but simply ignored it by asking for
Resolution dated August 24, 1998,26 we denied Estrellita’s motion for numerous postponements. She never filed her answer despite the lapse of
reconsideration27 with finality. around 60 days, a period longer than what was prescribed by the rules. It
also ruled that Estrellita cannot rely on her pending petition for certiorari assurance that the proceedings will be without prejudice to whatever
with the higher courts since, as an independent and original action, it does action the High Court will take on her petition questioning the RTC’s
not interrupt the proceedings in the trial court. jurisdiction and yet, the RTC violated this commitment as it rendered an
adverse judgment on August 18, 1998, months before the records of G.R.
As to the substantive merit of the case, the CA adjudged that Estrellita’s No. 126603 were remanded to the CA on November 11, 1998.37 She also
marriage to Sen. Tamano is void ab initio for being bigamous, reasoning questions the lack of a report of the public prosecutor anent a finding of
that the marriage of Zorayda and Sen. Tamano is governed by the Civil whether there was collusion, this being a prerequisite before further
Code, which does not provide for an absolute divorce. It noted that their proceeding could be held when a party has failed to file an answer in a suit
first nuptial celebration was under civil rites, while the subsequent Muslim for declaration of nullity of marriage.
celebration was only ceremonial. Zorayda then, according to the CA, had
the legal standing to file the action as she is Sen. Tamano’s wife and, hence, Estrellita is also steadfast in her belief that her marriage with the late
the injured party in the senator’s subsequent bigamous marriage with senator is valid as the latter was already divorced under the Muslim Code
Estrellita. at the time he married her. She asserts that such law automatically applies
to the marriage of Zorayda and the deceased without need of registering
In its September 13, 2005 Resolution,33 the CA denied Estrellita’s Motion their consent to be covered by it, as both parties are Muslims whose
for Reconsideration/Supplemental Motion for Reconsideration where it marriage was solemnized under Muslim law. She pointed out that Sen.
debunked the additional errors she raised. The CA noted that the allegation Tamano married all his wives under Muslim rites, as attested to by the
of lack of the public prosecutor’s report on the existence of collusion in affidavits of the siblings of the deceased.38
violation of both Rule 9, Section 3(e) of the Rules of Court34 and Article 48
of the Family Code35 will not invalidate the trial court’s judgment as the Lastly, Estrellita argues that Zorayda and Adib have no legal standing to file
proceedings between the parties had been adversarial, negating the suit because only the husband or the wife can file a complaint for the
existence of collusion. Assuming that the issues have not been joined declaration of nullity of marriage under Supreme Court Resolution A.M.
before the RTC, the same is attributable to Estrellita’s refusal to file an No. 02-11-10-SC.39
answer. Lastly, the CA disregarded Estrellita’s allegation that the trial court
erroneously rendered its judgment way prior to our remand to the RTC of Refuting the arguments, the Solicitor General (Sol Gen) defends the CA’s
the records of the case ratiocinating that G.R. No. 126603 pertains to the reasoning and stresses that Estrellita was never deprived of her right to be
issue on the denial of the Motion to Dismiss, and not to the issue of the heard; and, that filing an original action for certiorari does not stay the
validity of Estrellita’s marriage to Sen. Tamano. proceedings of the main action before the RTC.

The Parties’ Respective Arguments As regards the alleged lack of report of the public prosecutor if there is
collusion, the Sol Gen says that this is no longer essential considering the
Reiterating her arguments before the court a quo, Estrellita now argues vigorous opposition of Estrellita in the suit that obviously shows the lack of
that the CA erred in upholding the RTC judgment as the latter was collusion. The Sol Gen also supports private respondents’ legal standing to
prematurely issued, depriving her of the opportunity to file an answer and challenge the validity of Estrellita’s purported marriage with Sen. Tamano,
to present her evidence to dispute the allegations against the validity of reasoning that any proper interested party may attack directly or
her marriage. She claims that Judge Macias v. Macias36 laid down the rule collaterally a void marriage, and Zorayda and Adib have such right to file
that the filing of a motion to dismiss instead of an answer suspends the the action as they are the ones prejudiced by the marital union.
period to file an answer and, consequently, the trial court is obliged to
suspend proceedings while her motion to dismiss on the ground of lack of Zorayda and Adib, on the other hand, did not file any comment.
jurisdiction has not yet been resolved with finality. She maintains that she
merely participated in the RTC hearings because of the trial court’s Issues
to Dismiss’ of the Petitioner. Under Section 6, Rule 16 of the 1997 Rules of
The issues that must be resolved are the following: Civil Procedure [now Section 4], the Petitioner had the balance of the
period provided for in Rule 11 of the said Rules but in no case less than five
1. Whether the CA erred in affirming the trial court’s judgment, even (5) days computed from service on her of the aforesaid Order of the
though the latter was rendered prematurely because: a) the judgment was Respondent Court within which to file her Answer to the complaint: x x x41
rendered without waiting for the Supreme Court’s final resolution of her (Emphasis supplied.)
certiorari petition, i.e., G.R. No. 126603; b) she has not yet filed her answer
and thus was denied due process; and c) the public prosecutor did not Estrellita obviously misappreciated Macias. All we pronounced therein is
even conduct an investigation whether there was collusion; that the trial court is mandated to suspend trial until it finally resolves the
motion to dismiss that is filed before it. Nothing in the above excerpt states
2. Whether the marriage between Estrellita and the late Sen. Tamano was that the trial court should suspend its proceedings should the issue of the
bigamous; and propriety or impropriety of the motion to dismiss be raised before the
appellate courts. In Macias, the trial court failed to observe due process in
3. Whether Zorayda and Adib have the legal standing to have Estrellita’s the course of the proceeding of the case because after it denied the wife’s
marriage declared void ab initio. motion to dismiss, it immediately proceeded to allow the husband to
present evidence ex parte and resolved the case with undue haste even
Our Ruling when, under the rules of procedure, the wife still had time to file an
answer. In the instant case, Estrellita had no time left for filing an answer,
Estrellita’s refusal to file an answer eventually led to the loss of her right to as she filed the motion to dismiss beyond the extended period earlier
answer; and her pending petition for certiorari/review on certiorari granted by the trial court after she filed motions for extension of time to
questioning the denial of the motion to dismiss before the higher courts file an answer.
does not at all suspend the trial proceedings of the principal suit before the
RTC of Quezon City. Estrellita argues that the trial court prematurely issued its judgment, as it
should have waited first for the resolution of her Motion to Dismiss before
Firstly, it can never be argued that Estrellita was deprived of her right to the CA and, subsequently, before this Court. However, in upholding the
due process. She was never declared in default, and she even actively RTC, the CA correctly ruled that the pendency of a petition for certiorari
participated in the trial to defend her interest. does not suspend the proceedings before the trial court. "An application
for certiorari is an independent action which is not part or a continuation
Estrellita invokes Judge Macias v. Macias40 to justify the suspension of the of the trial which resulted in the rendition of the judgment complained
period to file an answer and of the proceedings in the trial court until her of."42 Rule 65 of the Rules of Court is explicit in stating that "[t]he petition
petition for certiorari questioning the validity of the denial of her Motion to shall not interrupt the course of the principal case unless a temporary
Dismiss has been decided by this Court. In said case, we affirmed the restraining order or a writ of preliminary injunction has been issued against
following reasoning of the CA which, apparently, is Estrellita’s basis for her the public respondent from further proceeding in the case."43 In fact, the
argument, to wit: trial court respected the CA’s temporary restraining order and only after
the CA rendered judgment did the RTC again require Estrellita to present
However, she opted to file, on April 10, 2001, a ‘Motion to Dismiss,’ instead her evidence.
of filing an Answer to the complaint. The filing of said motion suspended
the period for her to file her Answer to the complaint. Until said motion is Notably, when the CA judgment was elevated to us by way of Rule 45, we
resolved by the Respondent Court with finality, it behooved the never issued any order precluding the trial court from proceeding with the
Respondent Court to suspend the hearings of the case on the merits. The principal action. With her numerous requests for postponements, Estrellita
Respondent Court, on April 19, 2001, issued its Order denying the ‘Motion remained obstinate in refusing to file an answer or to present her evidence
when it was her turn to do so, insisting that the trial court should wait first Records show that the trial court immediately directed the public
for our decision in G.R. No. 126603. Her failure to file an answer and her prosecutor to submit the required report,45 which we find to have been
refusal to present her evidence were attributable only to herself and she sufficiently complied with by Assistant City Prosecutor Edgardo T. Paragua
should not be allowed to benefit from her own dilatory tactics to the in his Manifestation dated March 30, 1995,46 wherein he attested that
prejudice of the other party. Sans her answer, the trial court correctly there could be no collusion between the parties and no fabrication of
proceeded with the trial and rendered its Decision after it deemed evidence because Estrellita is not the spouse of any of the private
Estrellita to have waived her right to present her side of the story. Neither respondents.
should the lower court wait for the decision in G.R. No. 126603 to become
final and executory, nor should it wait for its records to be remanded back Furthermore, the lack of collusion is evident in the case at bar. Even
to it because G.R. No. 126603 involves strictly the propriety of the Motion assuming that there is a lack of report of collusion or a lack of participation
to Dismiss and not the issue of validity of marriage. by the public prosecutor, just as we held in Tuason v. Court of Appeals,47
the lack of participation of a fiscal does not invalidate the proceedings in
The Public Prosecutor issued a report as the trial court:

to the non-existence of collusion. The role of the prosecuting attorney or fiscal in annulment of marriage and
legal separation proceedings is to determine whether collusion exists
Aside from Article 48 of the Family Code and Rule 9, Section 3(e) of the between the parties and to take care that the evidence is not suppressed
Rules of Court, the Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void or fabricated. Petitioner's vehement opposition to the annulment
Marriages and Annulment of Voidable Marriages (A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC)44 proceedings negates the conclusion that collusion existed between the
also requries the participation of the public prosecutor in cases involving parties. There is no allegation by the petitioner that evidence was
void marriages. It specifically mandates the prosecutor to submit his suppressed or fabricated by any of the parties. Under these circumstances,
investigation report to determine whether there is collusion between the we are convinced that the non-intervention of a prosecuting attorney to
parties: assure lack of collusion between the contending parties is not fatal to the
validity of the proceedings in the trial court.48
Sec. 9. Investigation report of public prosecutor.–(1) Within one month
after receipt of the court order mentioned in paragraph (3) of Section 8 The Civil Code governs the marriage of Zorayda and the late Sen. Tamano;
above, the public prosecutor shall submit a report to the court stating their marriage was never invalidated by PD 1083. Sen. Tamano’s
whether the parties are in collusion and serve copies thereof on the parties subsequent marriage to Estrellita is void ab initio.
and their respective counsels, if any.
The marriage between the late Sen. Tamano and Zorayda was celebrated in
(2) If the public prosecutor finds that collusion exists, he shall state the 1958, solemnized under civil and Muslim rites.49 The only law in force
basis thereof in his report. The parties shall file their respective comments governing marriage relationships between Muslims and non-Muslims alike
on the finding of collusion within ten days from receipt of a copy of the was the Civil Code of 1950, under the provisions of which only one
report. The court shall set the report for hearing and if convinced that the marriage can exist at any given time.50 Under the marriage provisions of
parties are in collusion, it shall dismiss the petition. the Civil Code, divorce is not recognized except during the effectivity of
Republic Act No. 39451 which was not availed of during its effectivity.
(3) If the public prosecutor reports that no collusion exists, the court shall
set the case for pre-trial. It shall be the duty of the public prosecutor to As far as Estrellita is concerned, Sen. Tamano’s prior marriage to Zorayda
appear for the State at the pre-trial. has been severed by way of divorce under PD 1083,52 the law that codified
Muslim personal laws. However, PD 1083 cannot benefit Estrellita. Firstly,
Article 13(1) thereof provides that the law applies to "marriage and divorce
wherein both parties are Muslims, or wherein only the male party is a both civil and Muslim laws. Besides, as we have already settled, the Civil
Muslim and the marriage is solemnized in accordance with Muslim law or Code governs their personal status since this was in effect at the time of
this Code in any part of the Philippines." But we already ruled in G.R. No. the celebration of their marriage. In view of Sen. Tamano’s prior marriage
126603 that "Article 13 of PD 1083 does not provide for a situation where which subsisted at the time Estrellita married him, their subsequent
the parties were married both in civil and Muslim rites."53 marriage is correctly adjudged by the CA as void ab initio.

Moreover, the Muslim Code took effect only on February 4, 1977, and this Zorayda and Adib, as the injured parties, have the legal personalities to file
law cannot retroactively override the Civil Code which already bestowed the declaration of nullity of marriage. A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC, which limits to
certain rights on the marriage of Sen. Tamano and Zorayda. The former only the husband or the wife the filing of a petition for nullity is prospective
explicitly provided for the prospective application of its provisions unless in application and does not shut out the prior spouse from filing suit if the
otherwise provided: ground is a bigamous subsequent marriage.

Art. 186 (1). Effect of code on past acts. —Acts executed prior to the Her marriage covered by the Family Code of the Philippines,55 Estrellita
effectivity of this Code shall be governed by the laws in force at the time of relies on A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC which took effect on March 15, 2003
their execution, and nothing herein except as otherwise specifically claiming that under Section 2(a)56 thereof, only the husband or the wife,
provided, shall affect their validity or legality or operate to extinguish any to the exclusion of others, may file a petition for declaration of absolute
right acquired or liability incurred thereby. nullity, therefore only she and Sen. Tamano may directly attack the validity
of their own marriage.
It has been held that:
Estrellita claims that only the husband or the wife in a void marriage can
The foregoing provisions are consistent with the principle that all laws file a petition for declaration of nullity of marriage. However, this
operate prospectively, unless the contrary appears or is clearly, plainly and interpretation does not apply if the reason behind the petition is bigamy.
unequivocably expressed or necessarily implied; accordingly, every case of
doubt will be resolved against the retroactive operation of laws. Article 186 In explaining why under A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC only the spouses may file
aforecited enunciates the general rule of the Muslim Code to have its the petition to the exclusion of compulsory or intestate heirs, we said:
provisions applied prospectively, and implicitly upholds the force and effect
of a pre-existing body of law, specifically, the Civil Code – in respect of civil The Rationale of the Rules on Annulment of Voidable Marriages and
acts that took place before the Muslim Code’s enactment.54 Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages, Legal Separation and
Provisional Orders explicates on Section 2(a) in the following manner, viz:
An instance of retroactive application of the Muslim Code is Article 186(2)
which states: (1) Only an aggrieved or injured spouse may file petitions for annulment of
voidable marriages and declaration of absolute nullity of void marriages.
A marriage contracted by a Muslim male prior to the effectivity of this Code Such petitions cannot be filed by the compulsory or intestate heirs of the
in accordance with non-Muslim law shall be considered as one contracted spouses or by the State. [Section 2; Section 3, paragraph a]
under Muslim law provided the spouses register their mutual desire to this
effect. Only an aggrieved or injured spouse may file a petition for annulment of
voidable marriages or declaration of absolute nullity of void marriages.
Even granting that there was registration of mutual consent for the Such petition cannot be filed by compulsory or intestate heirs of the
marriage to be considered as one contracted under the Muslim law, the spouses or by the State. The Committee is of the belief that they do not
registration of mutual consent between Zorayda and Sen. Tamano will still have a legal right to file the petition. Compulsory or intestate heirs have
be ineffective, as both are Muslims whose marriage was celebrated under only inchoate rights prior to the death of their predecessor, and hence can
only question the validity of the marriage of the spouses upon the death of suit he and his mother had filed since both of them stand to be benefited
a spouse in a proceeding for the settlement of the estate of the deceased or injured by the judgment in the suit.60
spouse filed in the regular courts. On the other hand, the concern of the
State is to preserve marriage and not to seek its dissolution.57 Since our Philippine laws protect the marital union of a couple, they should
be interpreted in a way that would preserve their respective rights which
Note that the Rationale makes it clear that Section 2(a) of A.M. No. 02-11- include striking down bigamous marriages. We thus find the CA Decision
10-SC refers to the "aggrieved or injured spouse." If Estrellita’s correctly rendered.
interpretation is employed, the prior spouse is unjustly precluded from
filing an action. Surely, this is not what the Rule contemplated. WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The assailed August 17, 2004 Decision
of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 61762, as well as its subsequent
The subsequent spouse may only be expected to take action if he or she Resolution issued on September 13, 2005, are hereby AFFIRMED.
had only discovered during the connubial period that the marriage was
bigamous, and especially if the conjugal bliss had already vanished. Should SO ORDERED.
parties in a subsequent marriage benefit from the bigamous marriage, it
would not be expected that they would file an action to declare the
marriage void and thus, in such circumstance, the "injured spouse" who
should be given a legal remedy is the one in a subsisting previous marriage.
The latter is clearly the aggrieved party as the bigamous marriage not only
threatens the financial and the property ownership aspect of the prior
marriage but most of all, it causes an emotional burden to the prior
spouse. The subsequent marriage will always be a reminder of the infidelity
of the spouse and the disregard of the prior marriage which sanctity is
protected by the Constitution.

Indeed, Section 2(a) of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC precludes the son from
impugning the subsequent marriage.1âwphi1 But in the case at bar, both
Zorayda and Adib have legal personalities to file an action for nullity. Albeit
the Supreme Court Resolution governs marriages celebrated under the
Family Code, such is prospective in application and does not apply to cases
already commenced before March 15, 2003.58

Zorayda and Adib filed the case for declaration of nullity of Estrellita’s
marriage in November 1994. While the Family Code is silent with respect to
the proper party who can file a petition for declaration of nullity of
marriage prior to A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC, it has been held that in a void
marriage, in which no marriage has taken place and cannot be the source
of rights, any interested party may attack the marriage directly or
collaterally without prescription, which may be filed even beyond the
lifetime of the parties to the marriage.59 Since A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC does
not apply, Adib, as one of the children of the deceased who has property
rights as an heir, is likewise considered to be the real party in interest in the
In 1990, Lucia came back to the Philippines and proposed to petition
appellant to join her in Canada. Both agreed to get married, thus they were
G.R. No. 145226 February 06, 2004 married on August 30, 1990 at the Iglesia de Filipina Nacional at Catagdaan,
Pilar, Bohol.
LUCIO MORIGO y CACHO, petitioner,
vs. On September 8, 1990, Lucia reported back to her work in Canada leaving
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondent. appellant Lucio behind.

On August 19, 1991, Lucia filed with the Ontario Court (General Division) a
DECISION petition for divorce against appellant which was granted by the court on
January 17, 1992 and to take effect on February 17, 1992.

QUISUMBING, J.: On October 4, 1992, appellant Lucio Morigo married Maria Jececha
Lumbago4 at the Virgen sa Barangay Parish, Tagbilaran City, Bohol.
This petition for review on certiorari seeks to reverse the decision1 dated
October 21, 1999 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 20700, which On September 21, 1993, accused filed a complaint for judicial declaration
affirmed the judgment2 dated August 5, 1996 of the Regional Trial Court of nullity of marriage in the Regional Trial Court of Bohol, docketed as Civil
(RTC) of Bohol, Branch 4, in Criminal Case No. 8688. The trial court found Case No. 6020. The complaint seek (sic) among others, the declaration of
herein petitioner Lucio Morigo y Cacho guilty beyond reasonable doubt of nullity of accused’s marriage with Lucia, on the ground that no marriage
bigamy and sentenced him to a prison term of seven (7) months of prision ceremony actually took place.
correccional as minimum to six (6) years and one (1) day of prision mayor
as maximum. Also assailed in this petition is the resolution3 of the On October 19, 1993, appellant was charged with Bigamy in an
appellate court, dated September 25, 2000, denying Morigo’s motion for Information5 filed by the City Prosecutor of Tagbilaran [City], with the
reconsideration. Regional Trial Court of Bohol.6

The facts of this case, as found by the court a quo, are as follows: The petitioner moved for suspension of the arraignment on the ground
that the civil case for judicial nullification of his marriage with Lucia posed a
Appellant Lucio Morigo and Lucia Barrete were boardmates at the house of prejudicial question in the bigamy case. His motion was granted, but
Catalina Tortor at Tagbilaran City, Province of Bohol, for a period of four (4) subsequently denied upon motion for reconsideration by the prosecution.
years (from 1974-1978). When arraigned in the bigamy case, which was docketed as Criminal Case
No. 8688, herein petitioner pleaded not guilty to the charge. Trial
After school year 1977-78, Lucio Morigo and Lucia Barrete lost contact with thereafter ensued.
each other.
On August 5, 1996, the RTC of Bohol handed down its judgment in Criminal
In 1984, Lucio Morigo was surprised to receive a card from Lucia Barrete Case No. 8688, as follows:
from Singapore. The former replied and after an exchange of letters, they
became sweethearts. WHEREFORE, foregoing premises considered, the Court finds accused Lucio
Morigo y Cacho guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Bigamy and
In 1986, Lucia returned to the Philippines but left again for Canada to work sentences him to suffer the penalty of imprisonment ranging from Seven
there. While in Canada, they maintained constant communication. (7) Months of Prision Correccional as minimum to Six (6) Years and One (1)
Day of Prision Mayor as maximum.
Lucia in Civil Case No. 6020 could not acquit Lucio. The reason is that what
SO ORDERED.7 is sought to be punished by Article 34912 of the Revised Penal Code is the
act of contracting a second marriage before the first marriage had been
In convicting herein petitioner, the trial court discounted petitioner’s claim dissolved. Hence, the CA held, the fact that the first marriage was void
that his first marriage to Lucia was null and void ab initio. Following from the beginning is not a valid defense in a bigamy case.
Domingo v. Court of Appeals,8 the trial court ruled that want of a valid
marriage ceremony is not a defense in a charge of bigamy. The parties to a The Court of Appeals also pointed out that the divorce decree obtained by
marriage should not be allowed to assume that their marriage is void even Lucia from the Canadian court could not be accorded validity in the
if such be the fact but must first secure a judicial declaration of the nullity Philippines, pursuant to Article 1513 of the Civil Code and given the fact
of their marriage before they can be allowed to marry again. that it is contrary to public policy in this jurisdiction. Under Article 1714 of
the Civil Code, a declaration of public policy cannot be rendered ineffectual
Anent the Canadian divorce obtained by Lucia, the trial court cited Ramirez by a judgment promulgated in a foreign jurisdiction.
v. Gmur,9 which held that the court of a country in which neither of the
spouses is domiciled and in which one or both spouses may resort merely Petitioner moved for reconsideration of the appellate court’s decision,
for the purpose of obtaining a divorce, has no jurisdiction to determine the contending that the doctrine in Mendiola v. People,15 allows mistake upon
matrimonial status of the parties. As such, a divorce granted by said court a difficult question of law (such as the effect of a foreign divorce decree) to
is not entitled to recognition anywhere. Debunking Lucio’s defense of good be a basis for good faith.
faith in contracting the second marriage, the trial court stressed that
following People v. Bitdu,10 everyone is presumed to know the law, and On September 25, 2000, the appellate court denied the motion for lack of
the fact that one does not know that his act constitutes a violation of the merit.16 However, the denial was by a split vote. The ponente of the
law does not exempt him from the consequences thereof. appellate court’s original decision in CA-G.R. CR No. 20700, Justice Eugenio
S. Labitoria, joined in the opinion prepared by Justice Bernardo P.
Seasonably, petitioner filed an appeal with the Court of Appeals, docketed Abesamis. The dissent observed that as the first marriage was validly
as CA-G.R. CR No. 20700. declared void ab initio, then there was no first marriage to speak of. Since
the date of the nullity retroacts to the date of the first marriage and since
Meanwhile, on October 23, 1997, or while CA-G.R. CR No. 20700 was herein petitioner was, in the eyes of the law, never married, he cannot be
pending before the appellate court, the trial court rendered a decision in convicted beyond reasonable doubt of bigamy.
Civil Case No. 6020 declaring the marriage between Lucio and Lucia void ab
initio since no marriage ceremony actually took place. No appeal was taken The present petition raises the following issues for our resolution:
from this decision, which then became final and executory.
A.
On October 21, 1999, the appellate court decided CA-G.R. CR No. 20700 as
follows: WHETHER OR NOT THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN FAILING TO APPLY
THE RULE THAT IN CRIMES PENALIZED UNDER THE REVISED PENAL CODE,
WHEREFORE, finding no error in the appealed decision, the same is hereby CRIMINAL INTENT IS AN INDISPENSABLE REQUISITE. COROLLARILY,
AFFIRMED in toto. WHETHER OR NOT THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN FAILING TO
APPRECIATE [THE] PETITIONER’S LACK OF CRIMINAL INTENT WHEN HE
SO ORDERED.11 CONTRACTED THE SECOND MARRIAGE.

In affirming the assailed judgment of conviction, the appellate court B.


stressed that the subsequent declaration of nullity of Lucio’s marriage to
WHETHER OR NOT THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN HOLDING THAT THE present in this case. In Marbella-Bobis v. Bobis,20 we laid down the
RULING IN PEOPLE VS. BITDU (58 PHIL. 817) IS APPLICABLE TO THE CASE AT elements of bigamy thus:
BAR.
(1) the offender has been legally married;
C.
(2) the first marriage has not been legally dissolved, or in case his or her
WHETHER OR NOT THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN FAILING TO APPLY spouse is absent, the absent spouse has not been judicially declared
THE RULE THAT EACH AND EVERY CIRCUMSTANCE FAVORING THE presumptively dead;
INNOCENCE OF THE ACCUSED MUST BE TAKEN INTO ACCOUNT.17
(3) he contracts a subsequent marriage; and
To our mind, the primordial issue should be whether or not petitioner
committed bigamy and if so, whether his defense of good faith is valid. (4) the subsequent marriage would have been valid had it not been for the
existence of the first.
The petitioner submits that he should not be faulted for relying in good
faith upon the divorce decree of the Ontario court. He highlights the fact Applying the foregoing test to the instant case, we note that during the
that he contracted the second marriage openly and publicly, which a pendency of CA-G.R. CR No. 20700, the RTC of Bohol Branch 1, handed
person intent upon bigamy would not be doing. The petitioner further down the following decision in Civil Case No. 6020, to wit:
argues that his lack of criminal intent is material to a conviction or acquittal
in the instant case. The crime of bigamy, just like other felonies punished WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered decreeing
under the Revised Penal Code, is mala in se, and hence, good faith and lack the annulment of the marriage entered into by petitioner Lucio Morigo and
of criminal intent are allowed as a complete defense. He stresses that there Lucia Barrete on August 23, 1990 in Pilar, Bohol and further directing the
is a difference between the intent to commit the crime and the intent to Local Civil Registrar of Pilar, Bohol to effect the cancellation of the marriage
perpetrate the act. Hence, it does not necessarily follow that his intention contract.
to contract a second marriage is tantamount to an intent to commit
bigamy. SO ORDERED.21

For the respondent, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) submits that The trial court found that there was no actual marriage ceremony
good faith in the instant case is a convenient but flimsy excuse. The performed between Lucio and Lucia by a solemnizing officer. Instead, what
Solicitor General relies upon our ruling in Marbella-Bobis v. Bobis,18 which transpired was a mere signing of the marriage contract by the two, without
held that bigamy can be successfully prosecuted provided all the elements the presence of a solemnizing officer. The trial court thus held that the
concur, stressing that under Article 4019 of the Family Code, a judicial marriage is void ab initio, in accordance with Articles 322 and 423 of the
declaration of nullity is a must before a party may re-marry. Whether or Family Code. As the dissenting opinion in CA-G.R. CR No. 20700, correctly
not the petitioner was aware of said Article 40 is of no account as everyone puts it, "This simply means that there was no marriage to begin with; and
is presumed to know the law. The OSG counters that petitioner’s that such declaration of nullity retroacts to the date of the first marriage. In
contention that he was in good faith because he relied on the divorce other words, for all intents and purposes, reckoned from the date of the
decree of the Ontario court is negated by his act of filing Civil Case No. declaration of the first marriage as void ab initio to the date of the
6020, seeking a judicial declaration of nullity of his marriage to Lucia. celebration of the first marriage, the accused was, under the eyes of the
law, never married."24 The records show that no appeal was taken from
Before we delve into petitioner’s defense of good faith and lack of criminal the decision of the trial court in Civil Case No. 6020, hence, the decision
intent, we must first determine whether all the elements of bigamy are had long become final and executory.
The first element of bigamy as a crime requires that the accused must have favor of the presumption of innocence to ensure that justice is done. Under
been legally married. But in this case, legally speaking, the petitioner was the circumstances of the present case, we held that petitioner has not
never married to Lucia Barrete. Thus, there is no first marriage to speak of. committed bigamy. Further, we also find that we need not tarry on the
Under the principle of retroactivity of a marriage being declared void ab issue of the validity of his defense of good faith or lack of criminal intent,
initio, the two were never married "from the beginning." The contract of which is now moot and academic.
marriage is null; it bears no legal effect. Taking this argument to its logical
conclusion, for legal purposes, petitioner was not married to Lucia at the WHEREFORE, the instant petition is GRANTED. The assailed decision, dated
time he contracted the marriage with Maria Jececha. The existence and the October 21, 1999 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 20700, as well
validity of the first marriage being an essential element of the crime of as the resolution of the appellate court dated September 25, 2000, denying
bigamy, it is but logical that a conviction for said offense cannot be herein petitioner’s motion for reconsideration, is REVERSED and SET ASIDE.
sustained where there is no first marriage to speak of. The petitioner, must, The petitioner Lucio Morigo y Cacho is ACQUITTED from the charge of
perforce be acquitted of the instant charge. BIGAMY on the ground that his guilt has not been proven with moral
certainty.
The present case is analogous to, but must be distinguished from Mercado
v. Tan.25 In the latter case, the judicial declaration of nullity of the first SO ORDERED.
marriage was likewise obtained after the second marriage was already
celebrated. We held therein that:

A judicial declaration of nullity of a previous marriage is necessary before a


subsequent one can be legally contracted. One who enters into a
subsequent marriage without first obtaining such judicial declaration is
guilty of bigamy. This principle applies even if the earlier union is
characterized by statutes as "void."26

It bears stressing though that in Mercado, the first marriage was actually
solemnized not just once, but twice: first before a judge where a marriage
certificate was duly issued and then again six months later before a priest
in religious rites. Ostensibly, at least, the first marriage appeared to have
transpired, although later declared void ab initio.

In the instant case, however, no marriage ceremony at all was performed


by a duly authorized solemnizing officer. Petitioner and Lucia Barrete
merely signed a marriage contract on their own. The mere private act of
signing a marriage contract bears no semblance to a valid marriage and
thus, needs no judicial declaration of nullity. Such act alone, without more,
cannot be deemed to constitute an ostensibly valid marriage for which
petitioner might be held liable for bigamy unless he first secures a judicial
declaration of nullity before he contracts a subsequent marriage.

The law abhors an injustice and the Court is mandated to liberally construe
a penal statute in favor of an accused and weigh every circumstance in
G.R. No. 171914 July 23, 2014 Ana Maria L. Tabunda, Gregorio Macario Luna, Carolina Linda L. Tapia, and
Cesar Antonio Luna. After almost two (2) decades of marriage, ATTY. LUNA
SOLEDAD L. LAVADIA, Petitioner, and EUGENIA eventually agreed to live apart from each other in February
vs. 1966 and agreed to separation of property, to which end, they entered into
HEIRS OF JUAN LUCES LUNA, represented by GREGORIO Z. LUNA and a written agreement entitled "AGREEMENT FOR SEPARATION AND
EUGENIA ZABALLERO-LUNA, Respondents. PROPERTY SETTLEMENT" dated November 12, 1975, whereby they agreed
to live separately and to dissolve and liquidate their conjugal partnership of
DECISION property.

BERSAMIN, J.: On January 12, 1976, ATTY. LUNA obtained a divorce decree of his marriage
with EUGENIA from the Civil and Commercial Chamber of the First
Divorce between Filipinos is void and ineffectual under the nationality rule Circumscription of the Court of First Instance of Sto. Domingo, Dominican
adopted by Philippine law. Hence, any settlement of property between the Republic. Also in Sto.Domingo, Dominican Republic, on the same date,
parties of the first marriage involving Filipinos submitted as an incident of a ATTY. LUNA contracted another marriage, this time with SOLEDAD.
divorce obtained in a foreign country lacks competent judicial approval, Thereafter, ATTY. LUNA and SOLEDAD returned to the Philippines and lived
and cannot be enforceable against the assets of the husband who contracts together as husband and wife until 1987.
a subsequent marriage.
Sometime in 1977, ATTY. LUNA organized a new law firm named: Luna,
The Case Puruganan, Sison and Ongkiko (LUPSICON) where ATTY. LUNA was the
managing partner.
The petitioner, the second wife of the late Atty. Juan Luces Luna, appeals
the adverse decision promulgated on November 11, 2005,1 whereby the On February 14, 1978, LUPSICON through ATTY. LUNA purchased from
Court of Appeals (CA) affirmed with modification the decision rendered on Tandang Sora Development Corporation the 6th Floor of Kalaw-Ledesma
August 27, 2001 by the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 138, in Makati Condominium Project(condominium unit) at Gamboa St., Makati City,
City.2 The CA thereby denied her right in the 25/100 pro indiviso share of consisting of 517.52 square meters, for P1,449,056.00, to be paid on
the husband in a condominium unit, and in the law books of the husband installment basis for 36months starting on April 15, 1978. Said
acquired during the second marriage. condominium unit was to be usedas law office of LUPSICON. After full
payment, the Deed of Absolute Sale over the condominium unit was
Antecedents executed on July 15, 1983, and CCT No. 4779 was issued on August 10,
1983, which was registered bearing the following names:
The antecedent facts were summarized by the CA as follows:
"JUAN LUCES LUNA, married to Soledad L. Luna (46/100); MARIO E.
ATTY. LUNA, a practicing lawyer, was at first a name partner in the ONGKIKO, married to Sonia P.G. Ongkiko (25/100); GREGORIO R.
prestigious law firm Sycip, Salazar, Luna, Manalo, Hernandez & Feliciano PURUGANAN, married to Paz A. Puruganan (17/100); and TERESITA CRUZ
Law Offices at that time when he was living with his first wife, herein SISON, married to Antonio J.M. Sison (12/100) x x x" Subsequently, 8/100
intervenor-appellant Eugenia Zaballero-Luna (EUGENIA), whom he initially share of ATTY. LUNA and 17/100 share of Atty. Gregorio R. Puruganan in the
married ina civil ceremony conducted by the Justice of the Peace of condominium unit was sold to Atty. Mario E. Ongkiko, for which a new CCT
Parañaque, Rizal on September 10, 1947 and later solemnized in a church No. 21761 was issued on February 7, 1992 in the following names:
ceremony at the Pro-Cathedral in San Miguel, Bulacan on September 12,
1948. In ATTY. LUNA’s marriage to EUGENIA, they begot seven (7) children,
namely: Regina Maria L. Nadal, Juan Luis Luna, Araceli Victoria L. Arellano,
"JUAN LUCES LUNA, married to Soledad L. Luna (38/100); MARIO E. On August 27, 2001, the RTC rendered its decision after trial upon the
ONGKIKO, married to Sonia P.G. Ongkiko (50/100); TERESITA CRUZ SISON, aforementioned facts,4 disposing thusly:
married to Antonio J.M. Sison (12/100) x x x"
WHEREFORE, judgment is rendered as follows:
Sometime in 1992, LUPSICON was dissolved and the condominium unit was
partitioned by the partners but the same was still registered in common (a) The 24/100 pro-indiviso share in the condominium unit located at the
under CCT No. 21716. The parties stipulated that the interest of ATTY. LUNA SIXTH FLOOR of the KALAW LEDESMA CONDOMINIUM PROJECT covered by
over the condominium unit would be 25/100 share. ATTY. LUNA thereafter Condominium Certificate of Title No. 21761 consisting of FIVE HUNDRED
established and headed another law firm with Atty. Renato G. Dela Cruzand SEVENTEEN (517/100) SQUARE METERS is adjudged to have been acquired
used a portion of the office condominium unit as their office. The said law by Juan Lucas Luna through his sole industry;
firm lasted until the death of ATTY. JUAN on July 12, 1997.
(b) Plaintiff has no right as owner or under any other concept over the
After the death of ATTY. JUAN, his share in the condominium unit including condominium unit, hence the entry in Condominium Certificate of Title No.
the lawbooks, office furniture and equipment found therein were taken 21761 of the Registry of Deeds of Makati with respect to the civil status of
over by Gregorio Z. Luna, ATTY. LUNA’s son of the first marriage. Gregorio Z. Juan Luces Luna should be changed from "JUAN LUCES LUNA married to
Luna thenleased out the 25/100 portion of the condominium unit Soledad L. Luna" to "JUAN LUCES LUNA married to Eugenia Zaballero
belonging to his father to Atty. Renato G. De la Cruz who established his Luna";
own law firm named Renato G. De la Cruz & Associates.
(c) Plaintiff is declared to be the owner of the books Corpus Juris, Fletcher
The 25/100 pro-indiviso share of ATTY. Luna in the condominium unit as on Corporation, American Jurisprudence and Federal Supreme Court
well as the law books, office furniture and equipment became the subject Reports found in the condominium unit and defendants are ordered to
of the complaint filed by SOLEDAD against the heirs of ATTY. JUAN with the deliver them to the plaintiff as soon as appropriate arrangements have
RTC of Makati City, Branch 138, on September 10, 1999, docketed as Civil been madefor transport and storage.
Case No. 99-1644. The complaint alleged that the subject properties were
acquired during the existence of the marriage between ATTY. LUNA and No pronouncement as to costs.
SOLEDAD through their joint efforts that since they had no children,
SOLEDAD became co-owner of the said properties upon the death of ATTY. SO ORDERED.5
LUNA to the extent of ¾ pro-indiviso share consisting of her ½ share in the
said properties plus her ½ share in the net estate of ATTY. LUNA which was Decision of the CA
bequeathed to her in the latter’s last will and testament; and thatthe heirs
of ATTY. LUNA through Gregorio Z. Luna excluded SOLEDAD from her share Both parties appealed to the CA.6
in the subject properties. The complaint prayed that SOLEDAD be declared
the owner of the ¾ portion of the subject properties;that the same be On her part, the petitioner assigned the following errors to the RTC,
partitioned; that an accounting of the rentals on the condominium unit namely:
pertaining to the share of SOLEDAD be conducted; that a receiver be
appointed to preserve ad administer the subject properties;and that the I. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN RULING THAT THE CONDOMINIUM UNIT
heirs of ATTY. LUNA be ordered to pay attorney’s feesand costs of the suit WAS ACQUIRED THRU THE SOLE INDUSTRY OF ATTY. JUAN LUCES LUNA;
to SOLEDAD.3
II. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN RULING THAT PLAINTIFFAPPELLANT DID
Ruling of the RTC NOT CONTRIBUTE MONEY FOR THE ACQUISITION OF THE CONDOMINIUM
UNIT;
II. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN HOLDING THAT PLAINTIFF PROVED BY
III. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN GIVING CREDENCE TO PORTIONS OF THE PREPONDERANCE OF EVIDENCE (HER CLAIM OVER) THE SPECIFIED
TESTIMONY OF GREGORIO LUNA, WHO HAS NO ACTUAL KNOWLEDGE OF FOREIGN LAW BOOKS FOUND IN ATTY. LUNA’S LAW OFFICE; and
THE ACQUISITION OF THE UNIT, BUT IGNORED OTHER PORTIONS OF HIS
TESTIMONY FAVORABLE TO THE PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT; III. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN NOT HOLDING THAT, ASSUMING
PLAINTIFF PAID FOR THE SAID FOREIGN LAW BOOKS, THE RIGHT TO
IV. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN NOT GIVING SIGNIFICANCE TO THE FACT RECOVER THEM HAD PRESCRIBED AND BARRED BY LACHES AND
THAT THE CONJUGAL PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN LUNA AND INTERVENOR- ESTOPPEL.8
APPELLANT WAS ALREADY DISSOLVED AND LIQUIDATED PRIOR TO THE
UNION OF PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT AND LUNA; On November 11, 2005, the CA promulgated its assailed modified
decision,9 holding and ruling:
V. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN GIVING UNDUE SIGNIFICANCE TO THE
ABSENCE OF THE DISPOSITION OF THE CONDOMINIUM UNIT IN THE EUGENIA, the first wife, was the legitimate wife of ATTY. LUNA until the
HOLOGRAPHIC WILL OF THE PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT; latter’s death on July 12, 1997. The absolute divorce decree obtained by
ATTY. LUNA inthe Dominican Republic did not terminate his prior marriage
VI. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN GIVING UNDUE SIGNIFICANCE TO THE with EUGENIA because foreign divorce between Filipino citizens is not
FACTTHAT THE NAME OF PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT DID NOT APPEAR IN THE recognized in our jurisdiction. x x x10
DEED OF ABSOLUTE SALE EXECUTED BY TANDANG SORA DEVELOPMENT
CORPORATION OVER THE CONDOMINIUM UNIT; xxxx

VII. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN RULING THAT NEITHER ARTICLE 148 OF WHEREFORE, premises considered, the assailed August 27, 2001 Decision
THE FAMILYCODE NOR ARTICLE 144 OF THE CIVIL CODE OF THE of the RTC of MakatiCity, Branch 138, is hereby MODIFIEDas follows:
PHILIPPINES ARE APPLICABLE;
(a) The 25/100 pro-indiviso share in the condominium unit at the SIXTH
VIII. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN NOT RULING THAT THE CAUSE OF FLOOR of the KALAW LEDESMA CONDOMINIUM PROJECT covered by
ACTION OF THE INTERVENOR-APPELLANT HAS BEEN BARRED BY Condominium Certificate of Title No. 21761 consisting of FIVE HUNDRED
PESCRIPTION AND LACHES; and SEVENTEEN (517/100) (sic) SQUARE METERS is hereby adjudged to
defendants-appellants, the heirs of Juan Luces Luna and Eugenia Zaballero-
IX. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN NOT EXPUNGING/DISMISSING THE Luna (first marriage), having been acquired from the sole funds and sole
INTERVENTION FOR FAILURE OF INTERVENOR-APPELLANT TO PAY FILING industry of Juan Luces Luna while marriage of Juan Luces Luna and Eugenia
FEE.7 Zaballero-Luna (first marriage) was still subsisting and valid;

In contrast, the respondents attributedthe following errors to the trial (b) Plaintiff-appellant Soledad Lavadia has no right as owner or under any
court, to wit: other concept over the condominium unit, hence the entry in
Condominium Certificate of Title No. 21761 of the Registry of Deeds
I. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN HOLDING THAT CERTAIN FOREIGN LAW ofMakati with respect to the civil status of Juan Luces Luna should be
BOOKS IN THE LAW OFFICE OF ATTY. LUNA WERE BOUGHT WITH THE USE changed from "JUAN LUCES LUNA married to Soledad L. Luna" to "JUAN
OF PLAINTIFF’S MONEY; LUCES LUNA married to Eugenia Zaballero Luna";

(c) Defendants-appellants, the heirs of Juan Luces Luna and Eugenia


Zaballero-Luna(first marriage) are hereby declared to be the owner of the
books Corpus Juris, Fletcher on Corporation, American Jurisprudence and
Federal Supreme Court Reports found in the condominium unit. We affirm the modified decision of the CA.

No pronouncement as to costs. 1. Atty. Luna’s first marriage with Eugenia


subsisted up to the time of his death
SO ORDERED.11
The first marriage between Atty. Luna and Eugenia, both Filipinos, was
On March 13, 2006,12 the CA denied the petitioner’s motion for solemnized in the Philippines on September 10, 1947. The law in force at
reconsideration.13 the time of the solemnization was the Spanish Civil Code, which adopted
the nationality rule. The Civil Codecontinued to follow the nationality rule,
Issues to the effect that Philippine laws relating to family rights and duties, or to
the status, condition and legal capacity of persons were binding upon
In this appeal, the petitioner avers in her petition for review on citizens of the Philippines, although living abroad.15 Pursuant to the
certiorarithat: nationality rule, Philippine laws governed thiscase by virtue of bothAtty.
Luna and Eugenio having remained Filipinos until the death of Atty. Luna on
A. The Honorable Court of Appeals erred in ruling that the Agreement for July 12, 1997 terminated their marriage.
Separation and Property Settlement executed by Luna and Respondent
Eugenia was unenforceable; hence, their conjugal partnership was not From the time of the celebration ofthe first marriage on September 10,
dissolved and liquidated; 1947 until the present, absolute divorce between Filipino spouses has not
been recognized in the Philippines. The non-recognition of absolute divorce
B. The Honorable Court of Appeals erred in not recognizing the Dominican between Filipinos has remained even under the Family Code,16 even if
Republic court’s approval of the Agreement; either or both of the spouses are residing abroad.17 Indeed, the only two
types of defective marital unions under our laws have beenthe void and
C. The Honorable Court of Appeals erred in ruling that Petitioner failed to the voidable marriages. As such, the remedies against such defective
adduce sufficient proof of actual contribution to the acquisition of marriages have been limited to the declaration of nullity ofthe marriage
purchase of the subjectcondominium unit; and and the annulment of the marriage.

D. The Honorable Court of Appeals erred in ruling that Petitioner was not It is true that on January 12, 1976, the Court of First Instance (CFI) of Sto.
entitled to the subject law books.14 Domingo in the Dominican Republic issued the Divorce Decree dissolving
the first marriage of Atty. Luna and Eugenia.18 Conformably with the
The decisive question to be resolved is who among the contending parties nationality rule, however, the divorce, even if voluntarily obtained abroad,
should be entitled to the 25/100 pro indivisoshare in the condominium did not dissolve the marriage between Atty. Luna and Eugenia, which
unit; and to the law books (i.e., Corpus Juris, Fletcher on Corporation, subsisted up to the time of his death on July 12, 1997. This finding
American Jurisprudence and Federal Supreme Court Reports). conforms to the Constitution, which characterizes marriage as an inviolable
social institution,19 and regards it as a special contract of permanent union
The resolution of the decisive question requires the Court to ascertain the between a man and a woman for the establishment of a conjugal and
law that should determine, firstly, whether the divorce between Atty. Luna family life.20 The non-recognition of absolute divorce in the Philippines is a
and Eugenia Zaballero-Luna (Eugenia) had validly dissolved the first manifestation of the respect for the sanctity of the marital union especially
marriage; and, secondly, whether the second marriage entered into by the among Filipino citizens. It affirms that the extinguishment of a valid
late Atty. Luna and the petitioner entitled the latter to any rights in marriage must be grounded only upon the death of either spouse, or upon
property. Ruling of the Court a ground expressly provided bylaw. For as long as this public policy on
marriage between Filipinos exists, no divorce decree dissolving the The conjugal partnership of gains subsists until terminated for any of
marriage between them can ever be given legal or judicial recognition and various causes of termination enumerated in Article 175 of the Civil Code,
enforcement in this jurisdiction. viz:

2. The Agreement for Separation and Property Settlement Article 175. The conjugal partnership of gains terminates:
was void for lack of court approval
(1) Upon the death of either spouse;
The petitioner insists that the Agreement for Separation and Property
Settlement (Agreement) that the late Atty. Luna and Eugenia had entered (2) When there is a decree of legal separation;
into and executed in connection with the divorce proceedings before the
CFI of Sto. Domingo in the Dominican Republic to dissolve and liquidate (3) When the marriage is annulled;
their conjugal partnership was enforceable against Eugenia. Hence, the CA
committed reversible error in decreeing otherwise. (4) In case of judicial separation of property under Article 191.

The insistence of the petitioner was unwarranted. The mere execution of the Agreement by Atty. Luna and Eugenia did not
per sedissolve and liquidate their conjugal partnership of gains. The
Considering that Atty. Luna and Eugenia had not entered into any marriage approval of the Agreement by a competent court was still required under
settlement prior to their marriage on September 10, 1947, the system of Article 190 and Article 191 of the Civil Code, as follows:
relative community or conjugal partnership of gains governed their
property relations. This is because the Spanish Civil Code, the law then in Article 190. In the absence of an express declaration in the marriage
force at the time of their marriage, did not specify the property regime of settlements, the separation of property between spouses during the
the spouses in the event that they had not entered into any marriage marriage shall not take place save in virtue of a judicial order. (1432a)
settlement before or at the time of the marriage. Article 119 of the Civil
Codeclearly so provides, to wit: Article 191. The husband or the wife may ask for the separation of
property, and it shall be decreed when the spouse of the petitioner has
Article 119. The future spouses may in the marriage settlements agree been sentenced to a penalty which carries with it civil interdiction, or has
upon absolute or relative community of property, or upon complete been declared absent, or when legal separation has been granted.
separation of property, or upon any other regime. In the absence of
marriage settlements, or when the same are void, the system of relative xxxx
community or conjugal partnership of gains as established in this Code,
shall govern the property relations between husband and wife. The husband and the wife may agree upon the dissolution of the conjugal
partnership during the marriage, subject to judicial approval. All the
Article 142 of the Civil Codehas defined a conjugal partnership of gains creditors of the husband and of the wife, as well as of the conjugal
thusly: partnership shall be notified of any petition for judicialapproval or the
voluntary dissolution of the conjugal partnership, so that any such creditors
Article 142. By means of the conjugal partnership of gains the husband and may appear atthe hearing to safeguard his interests. Upon approval of the
wife place in a common fund the fruits of their separate property and the petition for dissolution of the conjugal partnership, the court shall take
income from their work or industry, and divide equally, upon the such measures as may protect the creditors and other third persons.
dissolution of the marriage or of the partnership, the net gains or benefits
obtained indiscriminately by either spouse during the marriage.
After dissolution of the conjugal partnership, the provisions of articles 214
and 215 shall apply. The provisions of this Code concerning the effect of Bigamy is an illegal marriage committed by contracting a second or
partition stated in articles 498 to 501 shall be applicable. (1433a) subsequent marriage before the first marriage has been legally dissolved,
or before the absent spouse has been declared presumptively dead by
But was not the approval of the Agreement by the CFI of Sto. Domingo in means of a judgment rendered in the proper proceedings.23 A bigamous
the Dominican Republic sufficient in dissolving and liquidating the conjugal marriage is considered void ab initio.24
partnership of gains between the late Atty. Luna and Eugenia?
Due to the second marriage between Atty. Luna and the petitioner being
The query is answered in the negative. There is no question that the void ab initioby virtue of its being bigamous, the properties acquired during
approval took place only as an incident ofthe action for divorce instituted the bigamous marriage were governed by the rules on co-ownership,
by Atty. Luna and Eugenia, for, indeed, the justifications for their execution conformably with Article 144 of the Civil Code, viz:
of the Agreement were identical to the grounds raised in the action for
divorce.21 With the divorce not being itself valid and enforceable under Article 144. When a man and a woman live together as husband and wife,
Philippine law for being contrary to Philippine public policy and public law, but they are not married, ortheir marriage is void from the beginning, the
the approval of the Agreement was not also legally valid and enforceable property acquired by eitheror both of them through their work or industry
under Philippine law. Consequently, the conjugal partnership of gains of or their wages and salaries shall be governed by the rules on co-ownership.
Atty. Luna and Eugenia subsisted in the lifetime of their marriage. (n)

3. Atty. Luna’s marriage with Soledad, being bigamous, In such a situation, whoever alleges co-ownership carried the burden of
was void; properties acquired during their marriage proof to confirm such fact.1âwphi1 To establish co-ownership, therefore, it
were governed by the rules on co-ownership became imperative for the petitioner to offer proof of her actual
contributions in the acquisition of property. Her mere allegation of co-
What law governed the property relations of the second marriage between ownership, without sufficient and competent evidence, would warrant no
Atty. Luna and Soledad? relief in her favor. As the Court explained in Saguid v. Court of Appeals:25

The CA expressly declared that Atty. Luna’s subsequent marriage to In the cases of Agapay v. Palang, and Tumlos v. Fernandez, which involved
Soledad on January 12, 1976 was void for being bigamous,22 on the the issue of co-ownership ofproperties acquired by the parties to a
ground that the marriage between Atty. Luna and Eugenia had not been bigamous marriage and an adulterous relationship, respectively, we ruled
dissolved by the Divorce Decree rendered by the CFI of Sto. Domingo in the that proof of actual contribution in the acquisition of the property is
Dominican Republic but had subsisted until the death of Atty. Luna on July essential. The claim of co-ownership of the petitioners therein who were
12, 1997. parties to the bigamous and adulterousunion is without basis because they
failed to substantiate their allegation that they contributed money in the
The Court concurs with the CA. purchase of the disputed properties. Also in Adriano v. Court of Appeals,
we ruled that the fact that the controverted property was titled in the
In the Philippines, marriages that are bigamous, polygamous, or incestuous name of the parties to an adulterous relationship is not sufficient proof of
are void. Article 71 of the Civil Codeclearly states: coownership absent evidence of actual contribution in the acquisition of
the property.
Article 71. All marriages performed outside the Philippines in accordance
with the laws in force in the country where they were performed, and valid As in other civil cases, the burden of proof rests upon the party who, as
there as such, shall also be valid in this country, except bigamous, determined by the pleadings or the nature of the case, asserts an
polygamous, or incestuous marriages as determined by Philippine law. affirmative issue. Contentions must be proved by competent evidence and
reliance must be had on the strength of the party’s own evidence and not a co-ownership where there still exists a prior conjugal partnership or
upon the weakness of the opponent’s defense. This applies with more absolute community between the man and his lawful wife). This void was
vigor where, as in the instant case, the plaintiff was allowed to present filled upon adoption of the Family Code. Article 148 provided that: only the
evidence ex parte.1âwphi1 The plaintiff is not automatically entitled to the property acquired by both of the parties through their actual joint
relief prayed for. The law gives the defendantsome measure of protection contribution of money, property or industry shall be owned in common and
as the plaintiff must still prove the allegations in the complaint. Favorable in proportion to their respective contributions. Such contributions and
relief can be granted only after the court isconvinced that the facts proven corresponding shares were prima faciepresumed to be equal. However, for
by the plaintiff warrant such relief. Indeed, the party alleging a fact has the this presumption to arise, proof of actual contribution was required. The
burden of proving it and a mereallegation is not evidence.26 same rule and presumption was to apply to joint deposits of money and
evidence of credit. If one of the parties was validly married to another, his
The petitioner asserts herein that she sufficiently proved her actual or her share in the co-ownership accrued to the absolute community or
contributions in the purchase of the condominium unit in the aggregate conjugal partnership existing in such valid marriage. If the party who acted
amount of at least P306,572.00, consisting in direct contributions of in bad faith was not validly married to another, his or her share shall be
P159,072.00, and in repaying the loans Atty. Luna had obtained from forfeited in the manner provided in the last paragraph of the Article 147.
Premex Financing and Banco Filipino totaling P146,825.30;27 and that such The rules on forfeiture applied even if both parties were in bad faith. Co-
aggregate contributions of P306,572.00 corresponded to almost the entire ownership was the exception while conjugal partnership of gains was the
share of Atty. Luna in the purchase of the condominium unit amounting to strict rule whereby marriage was an inviolable social institution and divorce
P362,264.00 of the unit’s purchase price of P1,449,056.00.28 The decrees are not recognized in the Philippines, as was held by the Supreme
petitioner further asserts that the lawbooks were paid for solely out of her Court in the case of Tenchavez vs. Escaño, G.R. No. L-19671, November 29,
personal funds, proof of which Atty. Luna had even sent her a "thank you" 1965, 15 SCRA 355, thus:
note;29 that she had the financial capacity to make the contributions and
purchases; and that Atty. Luna could not acquire the properties on his own xxxx
due to the meagerness of the income derived from his law practice.
As to the 25/100pro-indivisoshare of ATTY. LUNA in the condominium unit,
Did the petitioner discharge her burden of proof on the co-ownership? SOLEDAD failed to prove that she made an actual contribution to purchase
the said property. She failed to establish that the four (4) checks that she
In resolving the question, the CA entirely debunked the petitioner’s presented were indeed used for the acquisition of the share of ATTY. LUNA
assertions on her actual contributions through the following findings and in the condominium unit. This was aptly explained in the Decision of the
conclusions, namely: trial court, viz.:

SOLEDAD was not able to prove by preponderance of evidence that her "x x x The first check, Exhibit "M" for P55,000.00 payable to Atty. Teresita
own independent funds were used to buy the law office condominium and Cruz Sison was issued on January 27, 1977, which was thirteen (13) months
the law books subject matter in contentionin this case – proof that was before the Memorandum of Agreement, Exhibit "7" was signed. Another
required for Article 144 of the New Civil Code and Article 148 of the Family check issued on April 29, 1978 in the amount of P97,588.89, Exhibit "P"
Code to apply – as to cases where properties were acquired by a man and a was payable to Banco Filipino. According to the plaintiff, thiswas in
woman living together as husband and wife but not married, or under a payment of the loan of Atty. Luna. The third check which was for
marriage which was void ab initio. Under Article 144 of the New Civil Code, P49,236.00 payable to PREMEX was dated May 19, 1979, also for payment
the rules on co-ownership would govern. But this was not readily of the loan of Atty. Luna. The fourth check, Exhibit "M", for P4,072.00 was
applicable to many situations and thus it created a void at first because it dated December 17, 1980. None of the foregoing prove that the amounts
applied only if the parties were not in any way incapacitated or were delivered by plaintiff to the payees were for the acquisition of the subject
without impediment to marry each other (for it would be absurd to create condominium unit. The connection was simply not established. x x x"
conjugal partnership of gains as of the time of his death. Consequently, the
SOLEDAD’s claim that she made a cash contribution of P100,000.00 is sole ownership of the 25/100 pro indivisoshare of Atty. Luna in the
unsubstantiated. Clearly, there is no basis for SOLEDAD’s claim of co- condominium unit, and of the lawbooks pertained to the respondents as
ownership over the 25/100 portion of the condominium unit and the trial the lawful heirs of Atty. Luna.
court correctly found that the same was acquired through the sole industry
of ATTY. LUNA, thus: WHEREFORE, the Court AFFIRMS the decision promulgated on November
11, 2005; and ORDERS the petitioner to pay the costs of suit.
"The Deed of Absolute Sale, Exhibit "9", covering the condominium unit
was in the name of Atty. Luna, together with his partners in the law firm. SO ORDERED.
The name of the plaintiff does not appear as vendee or as the spouse of
Atty. Luna. The same was acquired for the use of the Law firm of Atty. Luna.
The loans from Allied Banking Corporation and Far East Bank and Trust
Company were loans of Atty. Luna and his partners and plaintiff does not
have evidence to show that she paid for them fully or partially. x x x"

The fact that CCT No. 4779 and subsequently, CCT No. 21761 were in the
name of "JUAN LUCES LUNA, married to Soledad L. Luna" was no proof that
SOLEDAD was a co-owner of the condominium unit. Acquisition of title and
registration thereof are two different acts. It is well settled that registration
does not confer title but merely confirms one already existing. The phrase
"married to" preceding "Soledad L. Luna" is merely descriptive of the civil
status of ATTY. LUNA.

SOLEDAD, the second wife, was not even a lawyer. So it is but logical that
SOLEDAD had no participation in the law firm or in the purchase of books
for the law firm. SOLEDAD failed to prove that she had anything to
contribute and that she actually purchased or paid for the law office
amortization and for the law books. It is more logical to presume that it
was ATTY. LUNA who bought the law office space and the law books from
his earnings from his practice of law rather than embarrassingly beg or ask
from SOLEDAD money for use of the law firm that he headed.30

The Court upholds the foregoing findings and conclusions by the CA both
because they were substantiated by the records and because we have not
been shown any reason to revisit and undo them. Indeed, the petitioner, as
the party claiming the co-ownership, did not discharge her burden of proof.
Her mere allegations on her contributions, not being evidence,31 did not
serve the purpose. In contrast, given the subsistence of the first marriage REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES,
between Atty. Luna and Eugenia, the presumption that Atty. Luna acquired Petitioner,
the properties out of his own personal funds and effort remained. It should
then be justly concluded that the properties in litislegally pertained to their
The proceedings before the RTC commenced with the filing of a
Complaint[3] for declaration of nullity of marriage by respondent Crasus on
- versus- 25 March 1997. According to the said Complaint, respondent Crasus
married Fely on 16 December 1961 at Bradford Memorial Church, Jones
Avenue, Cebu City. As a result of their union, they had five children Crasus,
Jr., Daphne, Debbie, Calvert, and Carlos who are now all of legal ages. After
the celebration of their marriage, respondent Crasus discovered that Fely
was hot-tempered, a nagger and extravagant. In 1984, Fely left the
CRASUS L. IYOY, Philippines for the United States of America (U.S.A.), leaving all of their five
R e s p o n d e n t. children, the youngest then being only six years old, to the care of
respondent Crasus. Barely a year after Fely left for the U.S.A., respondent
G.R. No. 152577 Crasus received a letter from her requesting that he sign the enclosed
Present: divorce papers; he disregarded the said request. Sometime in 1985,
respondent Crasus learned, through the letters sent by Fely to their
PUNO, children, that Fely got married to an American, with whom she eventually
Chairman, had a child. In 1987, Fely came back to the Philippines with her American
AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, family, staying at Cebu Plaza Hotel in Cebu City. Respondent Crasus did not
CALLEJO, SR., bother to talk to Fely because he was afraid he might not be able to bear
TINGA, and the sorrow and the pain she had caused him. Fely returned to the
CHICO-NAZARIO, JJ. Philippines several times more: in 1990, for the wedding of their eldest
Promulgated: child, Crasus, Jr.; in 1992, for the brain operation of their fourth child,
Calvert; and in 1995, for unknown reasons. Fely continued to live with her
September 21, 2005 American family in New Jersey, U.S.A. She had been openly using the
x- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x surname of her American husband in the Philippines and in the U.S.A. For
the wedding of Crasus, Jr., Fely herself had invitations made in which she
DECISION was named as Mrs. Fely Ada Micklus. At the time the Complaint was filed,
it had been 13 years since Fely left and abandoned respondent Crasus, and
there was no more possibility of reconciliation between them. Respondent
CHICO-NAZARIO, J.: Crasus finally alleged in his Complaint that Felys acts brought danger and
dishonor to the family, and clearly demonstrated her psychological
incapacity to perform the essential obligations of marriage. Such incapacity,
being incurable and continuing, constitutes a ground for declaration of
In this Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court,
nullity of marriage under Article 36, in relation to Articles 68, 70, and 72, of
petitioner Republic of the Philippines, represented by the Office of the
the Family Code of the Philippines.
Solicitor General, prays for the reversal of the Decision of the Court of
Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 62539, dated 30 July 2001,[1] affirming the
Judgment of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Cebu City, Branch 22, in Civil Fely filed her Answer and Counterclaim[4] with the RTC on 05 June 1997.
Case No. CEB-20077, dated 30 October 1998,[2] declaring the marriage She asserted therein that she was already an American citizen since 1988
between respondent Crasus L. Iyoy and Fely Ada Rosal-Iyoy null and void and was now married to Stephen Micklus. While she admitted being
on the basis of Article 36 of the Family Code of the Philippines. previously married to respondent Crasus and having five children with him,
Fely refuted the other allegations made by respondent Crasus in his
Complaint. She explained that she was no more hot-tempered than any
normal person, and she may had been indignant at respondent Crasus on
certain occasions but it was because of the latters drunkenness, Felys counsel filed a Notice,[10] and, later on, a Motion,[11] to take the
womanizing, and lack of sincere effort to find employment and to deposition of witnesses, namely, Fely and her children, Crasus, Jr. and
contribute to the maintenance of their household. She could not have been Daphne, upon written interrogatories, before the consular officers of the
extravagant since the family hardly had enough money for basic needs. Philippines in New York and California, U.S.A, where the said witnesses
Indeed, Fely left for abroad for financial reasons as respondent Crasus had reside. Despite the Orders[12] and Commissions[13] issued by the RTC to
no job and what she was then earning as the sole breadwinner in the the Philippine Consuls of New York and California, U.S.A., to take the
Philippines was insufficient to support their family. Although she left all of depositions of the witnesses upon written interrogatories, not a single
her children with respondent Crasus, she continued to provide financial deposition was ever submitted to the RTC. Taking into account that it had
support to them, as well as, to respondent Crasus. Subsequently, Fely was been over a year since respondent Crasus had presented his evidence and
able to bring her children to the U.S.A., except for one, Calvert, who had to that Fely failed to exert effort to have the case progress, the RTC issued an
stay behind for medical reasons. While she did file for divorce from Order, dated 05 October 1998,[14] considering Fely to have waived her
respondent Crasus, she denied having herself sent a letter to respondent right to present her evidence. The case was thus deemed submitted for
Crasus requesting him to sign the enclosed divorce papers. After securing a decision.
divorce from respondent Crasus, Fely married her American husband and
acquired American citizenship. She argued that her marriage to her Not long after, on 30 October 1998, the RTC promulgated its Judgment
American husband was legal because now being an American citizen, her declaring the marriage of respondent Crasus and Fely null and void ab
status shall be governed by the law of her present nationality. Fely also initio, on the basis of the following findings
pointed out that respondent Crasus himself was presently living with
another woman who bore him a child. She also accused respondent Crasus The ground bearing defendants psychological incapacity deserves a
of misusing the amount of P90,000.00 which she advanced to him to reasonable consideration. As observed, plaintiffs testimony is decidedly
finance the brain operation of their son, Calvert. On the basis of the credible. The Court finds that defendant had indeed exhibited
foregoing, Fely also prayed that the RTC declare her marriage to unmistakable signs of psychological incapacity to comply with her marital
respondent Crasus null and void; and that respondent Crasus be ordered to duties such as striving for family unity, observing fidelity, mutual love,
pay to Fely the P90,000.00 she advanced to him, with interest, plus, moral respect, help and support. From the evidence presented, plaintiff
and exemplary damages, attorneys fees, and litigation expenses. adequately established that the defendant practically abandoned him. She
obtained a divorce decree in the United States of America and married
After respondent Crasus and Fely had filed their respective Pre-Trial Briefs, another man and has establish [sic] another family of her own. Plaintiff is in
[5] the RTC afforded both parties the opportunity to present their an anomalous situation, wherein he is married to a wife who is already
evidence. Petitioner Republic participated in the trial through the Provincial married to another man in another country.
Prosecutor of Cebu.[6]
Defendants intolerable traits may not have been apparent or manifest
Respondent Crasus submitted the following pieces of evidence in support before the marriage, the FAMILY CODE nonetheless allows the annulment
of his Complaint: (1) his own testimony on 08 September 1997, in which he of the marriage provided that these were eventually manifested after the
essentially reiterated the allegations in his Complaint;[7] (2) the wedding. It appears to be the case in this instance.
Certification, dated 13 April 1989, by the Health Department of Cebu City,
on the recording of the Marriage Contract between respondent Crasus and Certainly defendants posture being an irresponsible wife erringly reveals
Fely in the Register of Deeds, such marriage celebration taking place on 16 her very low regard for that sacred and inviolable institution of marriage
December 1961;[8] and (3) the invitation to the wedding of Crasus, Jr., their which is the foundation of human society throughout the civilized world. It
eldest son, wherein Fely openly used her American husbands surname, is quite evident that the defendant is bereft of the mind, will and heart to
Micklus.[9]
comply with her marital obligations, such incapacity was already there at
the time of the marriage in question is shown by defendants own attitude WHERE A MARRIAGE BETWEEN A FILIPINO CITIZEN AND A FOREIGNER IS
towards her marriage to plaintiff. VALIDLY CELEBRATED AND A DIVORCE IS THEREAFTER VALIDLY OBTAINED
ABROAD BY THE ALIEN SPOUSE CAPACITATING HIM OR HER TO REMARRY,
In sum, the ground invoked by plaintiff which is defendants psychological THE FILIPINO SPOUSE SHALL LIKEWISE HAVE CAPACITY TO REMARRY
incapacity to comply with the essential marital obligations which already UNDER PHILIPPINE LAW.
existed at the time of the marriage in question has been satisfactorily
proven. The evidence in herein case establishes the irresponsibility of The rationale behind the second paragraph of the above-quoted provision
defendant Fely Ada Rosal Iyoy, firmly. is to avoid the absurd and unjust situation of a Filipino citizen still being
married to his or her alien spouse, although the latter is no longer married
Going over plaintiffs testimony which is decidedly credible, the Court finds to the Filipino spouse because he or she has obtained a divorce abroad. In
that the defendant had indeed exhibited unmistakable signs of such the case at bench, the defendant has undoubtedly acquired her American
psychological incapacity to comply with her marital obligations. These are husbands citizenship and thus has become an alien as well. This Court
her excessive disposition to material things over and above the marital cannot see why the benefits of Art. 26 aforequoted can not be extended to
stability. That such incapacity was already there at the time of the marriage a Filipino citizen whose spouse eventually embraces another citizenship
in question is shown by defendants own attitude towards her marriage to and thus becomes herself an alien.
plaintiff. And for these reasons there is a legal ground to declare the
marriage of plaintiff Crasus L. Iyoy and defendant Fely Ada Rosal Iyoy null It would be the height of unfairness if, under these circumstances, plaintiff
and void ab initio.[15] would still be considered as married to defendant, given her total
incapacity to honor her marital covenants to the former. To condemn
plaintiff to remain shackled in a marriage that in truth and in fact does not
exist and to remain married to a spouse who is incapacitated to discharge
Petitioner Republic, believing that the afore-quoted Judgment of the RTC essential marital covenants, is verily to condemn him to a perpetual
was contrary to law and evidence, filed an appeal with the Court of disadvantage which this Court finds abhorrent and will not countenance.
Appeals. The appellate court, though, in its Decision, dated 30 July 2001, Justice dictates that plaintiff be given relief by affirming the trial courts
affirmed the appealed Judgment of the RTC, finding no reversible error declaration of the nullity of the marriage of the parties.[16]
therein. It even offered additional ratiocination for declaring the marriage
between respondent Crasus and Fely null and void, to wit

Defendant secured a divorce from plaintiff-appellee abroad, has remarried, After the Court of Appeals, in a Resolution, dated 08 March 2002,[17]
and is now permanently residing in the United States. Plaintiff-appellee denied its Motion for Reconsideration, petitioner Republic filed the instant
categorically stated this as one of his reasons for seeking the declaration of Petition before this Court, based on the following arguments/grounds
nullity of their marriage
I. Abandonment by and sexual infidelity of respondents wife do not per se
Article 26 of the Family Code provides: constitute psychological incapacity.

Art. 26. All marriages solemnized outside the Philippines in accordance II. The Court of Appeals has decided questions of substance not in accord
with the laws in force in the country where they were solemnized, and with law and jurisprudence considering that the Court of Appeals
valid there as such, shall also be valid in this country, except those committed serious errors of law in ruling that Article 26, paragraph 2 of the
prohibited under Articles 35(1), (4), (5) and (6), 36, 37 and 38. Family Code is inapplicable to the case at bar.[18]
In Santos v. Court of Appeals,[20] the term psychological incapacity was
defined, thus
In his Comment[19] to the Petition, respondent Crasus maintained that
Felys psychological incapacity was clearly established after a full-blown . . . [P]sychological incapacity should refer to no less than a mental (not
trial, and that paragraph 2 of Article 26 of the Family Code of the physical) incapacity that causes a party to be truly cognitive of the basic
Philippines was indeed applicable to the marriage of respondent Crasus marital covenants that concomitantly must be assumed and discharged by
and Fely, because the latter had already become an American citizen. He the parties to the marriage which, as so expressed by Article 68 of the
further questioned the personality of petitioner Republic, represented by Family Code, include their mutual obligations to live together, observe love,
the Office of the Solicitor General, to institute the instant Petition, because respect and fidelity and render help and support. There is hardly any doubt
Article 48 of the Family Code of the Philippines authorizes the prosecuting that the intendment of the law has been to confine the meaning of
attorney or fiscal assigned to the trial court, not the Solicitor General, to psychological incapacity to the most serious cases of personality disorders
intervene on behalf of the State, in proceedings for annulment and clearly demonstrative of an utter insensitivity or inability to give meaning
declaration of nullity of marriages. and significance to the marriage. This psychological condition must exist at
the time the marriage is celebrated[21]
After having reviewed the records of this case and the applicable laws and
jurisprudence, this Court finds the instant Petition to be meritorious.

The psychological incapacity must be characterized by


I
(a) Gravity It must be grave or serious such that the party would be
The totality of evidence presented during trial is insufficient to support the incapable of carrying out the ordinary duties required in a marriage;
finding of psychological incapacity of Fely. (b) Juridical Antecedence It must be rooted in the history of the
party antedating the marriage, although the overt manifestations may
emerge only after the marriage; and
(c) Incurability It must be incurable or, even if it were otherwise, the
cure would be beyond the means of the party involved.[22]
Article 36, concededly one of the more controversial provisions of the
Family Code of the Philippines, reads
More definitive guidelines in the interpretation and application of Article
36 of the Family Code of the Philippines were handed down by this Court in
ART. 36. A marriage contracted by any party who, at the time of the
Republic v. Court of Appeals and Molina,[23] which, although quite lengthy,
celebration, was psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential
by its significance, deserves to be reproduced below
marital obligations of marriage, shall likewise be void even if such
incapacity becomes manifest only after its solemnization.
(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
Issues most commonly arise as to what constitutes psychological validity of marriage and unity of the family. Thus, our Constitution devotes
incapacity. In a series of cases, this Court laid down guidelines for an entire Article on the Family, recognizing it as the foundation of the
determining its existence. 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 less ill will. In other words, there is a natal or supervening disabling factor
be protected by the state. in the person, an adverse integral element in the personality structure that
effectively incapacitates the person from really accepting and thereby
The Family Code echoes this constitutional edict on marriage and the complying with the obligations essential to marriage.
family and emphasizes their permanence, inviolability and solidarity.
(6) The essential marital obligations must be those embraced by Articles 68
(2) The root cause of the psychological incapacity must be (a) medically or up to 71 of the Family Code as regards the husband and wife as well as
clinically identified, (b) alleged in the complaint, (c) sufficiently proven by Articles 220, 221 and 225 of the same Code in regard to parents and their
experts and (d) clearly explained in the decision. Article 36 of the Family children. Such non-complied marital obligation(s) must also be stated in
Code requires that the incapacity must be psychological - not physical, the petition, proven by evidence and included in the text of the decision.
although its manifestations and/or symptoms may be physical. The
evidence must convince the court that the parties, or one of them, was (7) Interpretations given by the National Appellate Matrimonial Tribunal of
mentally or psychically ill to such an extent that the person could not have the Catholic Church in the Philippines, while not controlling or decisive,
known the obligations he was assuming, or knowing them, could not have should be given great respect by our courts
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 (8) The trial court must order the prosecuting attorney or fiscal and the
the principle of ejusdem generis, nevertheless such root cause must be Solicitor General to appear as counsel for the state. No decision shall be
identified as a psychological illness and its incapacitating nature fully handed down unless the Solicitor General issues a certification, which will
explained. Expert evidence may be given by qualified psychiatrists and be quoted in the decision, briefly stating therein his reasons for his
clinical psychologists. 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
(3) The incapacity must be proven to be existing at the time of the certification within fifteen (15) days from the date the case is deemed
celebration of the marriage. The evidence must show that the illness was submitted for resolution of the court. The Solicitor General shall discharge
existing when the parties exchanged their I do's. The manifestation of the the equivalent function of the defensor vinculi contemplated under Canon
illness need not be perceivable at such time, but the illness itself must have 1095.[24]
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 A later case, Marcos v. Marcos,[25] further clarified that there is no
only in regard to the other spouse, not necessarily absolutely against requirement that the defendant/respondent spouse should be personally
everyone of the same sex. Furthermore, such incapacity must be relevant examined by a physician or psychologist as a condition sine qua non for the
to the assumption of marriage obligations, not necessarily to those not declaration of nullity of marriage based on psychological incapacity. Such
related to marriage, like the exercise of a profession or employment in a psychological incapacity, however, must be established by the totality of
job the evidence presented during the trial.

(5) Such illness must be grave enough to bring about the disability of the Using the guidelines established by the afore-mentioned jurisprudence,
party to assume the essential obligations of marriage. Thus, mild this Court finds that the totality of evidence presented by respondent
characteriological peculiarities, mood changes, occasional emotional Crasus failed miserably to establish the alleged psychological incapacity of
outbursts cannot be accepted as root causes. The illness must be shown as his wife Fely; therefore, there is no basis for declaring their marriage null
downright incapacity or inability, not a refusal, neglect or difficulty, much and void under Article 36 of the Family Code of the Philippines.
existence at the time of celebration of the marriage; nor that it is incurable.
The only substantial evidence presented by respondent Crasus before the While the personal examination of Fely by a psychiatrist or psychologist is
RTC was his testimony, which can be easily put into question for being self- no longer mandatory for the declaration of nullity of their marriage under
serving, in the absence of any other corroborating evidence. He submitted Article 36 of the Family Code of the Philippines, by virtue of this Courts
only two other pieces of evidence: (1) the Certification on the recording ruling in Marcos v. Marcos,[29] respondent Crasus must still have complied
with the Register of Deeds of the Marriage Contract between respondent with the requirement laid down in Republic v. Court of Appeals and
Crasus and Fely, such marriage being celebrated on 16 December 1961; Molina[30] that the root cause of the incapacity be identified as a
and (2) the invitation to the wedding of Crasus, Jr., their eldest son, in psychological illness and that its incapacitating nature be fully explained.
which Fely used her American husbands surname. Even considering the
admissions made by Fely herself in her Answer to respondent Crasuss In any case, any doubt shall be resolved in favor of the validity of the
Complaint filed with the RTC, the evidence is not enough to convince this marriage.[31] No less than the Constitution of 1987 sets the policy to
Court that Fely had such a grave mental illness that prevented her from protect and strengthen the family as the basic social institution and
assuming the essential obligations of marriage. marriage as the foundation of the family.[32]

It is worthy to emphasize that Article 36 of the Family Code of the II


Philippines contemplates downright incapacity or inability to take Article 26, paragraph 2 of the Family Code of the Philippines is not
cognizance of and to assume the basic marital obligations; not a mere applicable to the case at bar.
refusal, neglect or difficulty, much less, ill will, on the part of the errant
spouse.[26] Irreconcilable differences, conflicting personalities, emotional
immaturity and irresponsibility, physical abuse, habitual alcoholism, sexual
infidelity or perversion, and abandonment, by themselves, also do not According to Article 26, paragraph 2 of the Family Code of the Philippines
warrant a finding of psychological incapacity under the said Article.[27]
Where a marriage between a Filipino citizen and a foreigner is validly
As has already been stressed by this Court in previous cases, Article 36 is celebrated and a divorce is thereafter validly obtained abroad by the alien
not to be confused with a divorce law that cuts the marital bond at the spouse capacitating him or her to remarry, the Filipino spouse shall likewise
time the causes therefore manifest themselves. It refers to a serious have capacity to remarry under Philippine law.
psychological illness afflicting a party even before the celebration of As it is worded, Article 26, paragraph 2, refers to a special situation wherein
marriage. It is a malady so grave and so permanent as to deprive one of one of the couple getting married is a Filipino citizen and the other a
awareness of the duties and responsibilities of the matrimonial bond one is foreigner at the time the marriage was celebrated. By its plain and literal
about to assume.[28] interpretation, the said provision cannot be applied to the case of
respondent Crasus and his wife Fely because at the time Fely obtained her
The evidence may have proven that Fely committed acts that hurt and divorce, she was still a Filipino citizen. Although the exact date was not
embarrassed respondent Crasus and the rest of the family. Her hot-temper, established, Fely herself admitted in her Answer filed before the RTC that
nagging, and extravagance; her abandonment of respondent Crasus; her she obtained a divorce from respondent Crasus sometime after she left for
marriage to an American; and even her flaunting of her American family the United States in 1984, after which she married her American husband
and her American surname, may indeed be manifestations of her alleged in 1985. In the same Answer, she alleged that she had been an American
incapacity to comply with her marital obligations; nonetheless, the root citizen since 1988. At the time she filed for divorce, Fely was still a Filipino
cause for such was not identified. If the root cause of the incapacity was citizen, and pursuant to the nationality principle embodied in Article 15 of
not identified, then it cannot be satisfactorily established as a psychological the Civil Code of the Philippines, she was still bound by Philippine laws on
or mental defect that is serious or grave; neither could it be proven to be in family rights and duties, status, condition, and legal capacity, even when
she was already living abroad. Philippine laws, then and even until now, do for annulment and declaration of nullity of marriages by preventing
not allow and recognize divorce between Filipino spouses. Thus, Fely could collusion between the parties, or the fabrication or suppression of
not have validly obtained a divorce from respondent Crasus. evidence; and, bearing in mind that the Solicitor General is the principal
law officer and legal defender of the land, then his intervention in such
proceedings could only serve and contribute to the realization of such
III intent, rather than thwart it.
The Solicitor General is authorized to intervene, on behalf of the Republic,
in proceedings for annulment and declaration of nullity of marriages. Furthermore, the general rule is that only the Solicitor General is
authorized to bring or defend actions on behalf of the People or the
Republic of the Philippines once the case is brought before this Court or
the Court of Appeals.[35] While it is the prosecuting attorney or fiscal who
actively participates, on behalf of the State, in a proceeding for annulment
Invoking Article 48 of the Family Code of the Philippines, respondent
or declaration of nullity of marriage before the RTC, the Office of the
Crasus argued that only the prosecuting attorney or fiscal assigned to the
Solicitor General takes over when the case is elevated to the Court of
RTC may intervene on behalf of the State in proceedings for annulment or
Appeals or this Court. Since it shall be eventually responsible for taking the
declaration of nullity of marriages; hence, the Office of the Solicitor
case to the appellate courts when circumstances demand, then it is only
General had no personality to file the instant Petition on behalf of the
reasonable and practical that even while the proceeding is still being held
State. Article 48 provides
before the RTC, the Office of the Solicitor General can already exercise
supervision and control over the conduct of the prosecuting attorney or
ART. 48. In all cases of annulment or declaration of absolute nullity of
fiscal therein to better guarantee the protection of the interests of the
marriage, the Court shall order the prosecuting attorney or fiscal assigned
State.
to it to appear on behalf of the State to take steps to prevent collusion
between the parties and to take care that the evidence is not fabricated or
In fact, this Court had already recognized and affirmed the role of the
suppressed.
Solicitor General in several cases for annulment and declaration of nullity
of marriages that were appealed before it, summarized as follows in the
case of Ancheta v. Ancheta[36]

That Article 48 does not expressly mention the Solicitor General does not In the case of Republic v. Court of Appeals [268 SCRA 198 (1997)], this
bar him or his Office from intervening in proceedings for annulment or Court laid down the guidelines in the interpretation and application of Art.
declaration of nullity of marriages. Executive Order No. 292, otherwise 48 of the Family Code, one of which concerns the role of the prosecuting
known as the Administrative Code of 1987, appoints the Solicitor General attorney or fiscal and the Solicitor General to appear as counsel for the
as the principal law officer and legal defender of the Government.[33] His State:
Office is tasked to represent the Government of the Philippines, its
agencies and instrumentalities and its officials and agents in any litigation,
(8) The trial court must order the prosecuting attorney or fiscal and the
proceeding, investigation or matter requiring the services of lawyers. The
Solicitor General to appear as counsel for the state. No decision shall be
Office of the Solicitor General shall constitute the law office of the
handed down unless the Solicitor General issues a certification, which will
Government and, as such, shall discharge duties requiring the services of
be quoted in the decision, briefly stating therein his reasons for his
lawyers.[34]
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
The intent of Article 48 of the Family Code of the Philippines is to ensure certification within fifteen (15) days from the date the case is deemed
that the interest of the State is represented and protected in proceedings
submitted for resolution of the court. The Solicitor General shall discharge Sec. 19. Decision.
the equivalent function of the defensor vinculi contemplated under Canon
1095. [Id., at 213]
(2) The parties, including the Solicitor General and the public prosecutor,
This Court in the case of Malcampo-Sin v. Sin [355 SCRA 285 (2001)] shall be served with copies of the decision personally or by registered mail.
reiterated its pronouncement in Republic v. Court of Appeals [Supra.] If the respondent summoned by publication failed to appear in the action,
regarding the role of the prosecuting attorney or fiscal and the Solicitor the dispositive part of the decision shall be published once in a newspaper
General to appear as counsel for the State[37] of general circulation.

(3) The decision becomes final upon the expiration of fifteen days from
notice to the parties. Entry of judgment shall be made if no motion for
Finally, the issuance of this Court of the Rule on Declaration of Absolute reconsideration or new trial, or appeal is filed by any of the parties, the
Nullity of Void Marriages and Annulment of Voidable Marriages,[38] which public prosecutor, or the Solicitor General.
became effective on 15 March 2003, should dispel any other doubts of
respondent Crasus as to the authority of the Solicitor General to file the
instant Petition on behalf of the State. The Rule recognizes the authority of Sec. 20. Appeal.
the Solicitor General to intervene and take part in the proceedings for
annulment and declaration of nullity of marriages before the RTC and on
appeal to higher courts. The pertinent provisions of the said Rule are (2) Notice of Appeal. An aggrieved party or the Solicitor General may
reproduced below appeal from the decision by filing a Notice of Appeal within fifteen days
from notice of denial of the motion for reconsideration or new trial. The
Sec. 5. Contents and form of petition. appellant shall serve a copy of the notice of appeal on the adverse parties.

(4) It shall be filed in six copies. The petitioner shall serve a copy of the
petition on the Office of the Solicitor General and the Office of the City or Given the foregoing, this Court arrives at a conclusion contrary to those of
Provincial Prosecutor, within five days from the date of its filing and submit the RTC and the Court of Appeals, and sustains the validity and existence of
to the court proof of such service within the same period. the marriage between respondent Crasus and Fely. At most, Felys
abandonment, sexual infidelity, and bigamy, give respondent Crasus
Sec. 18. Memoranda. The court may require the parties and the public grounds to file for legal separation under Article 55 of the Family Code of
prosecutor, in consultation with the Office of the Solicitor General, to file the Philippines, but not for declaration of nullity of marriage under Article
their respective memoranda in support of their claims within fifteen days 36 of the same Code. While this Court commiserates with respondent
from the date the trial is terminated. It may require the Office of the Crasus for being continuously shackled to what is now a hopeless and
Solicitor General to file its own memorandum if the case is of significant loveless marriage, this is one of those situations where neither law nor
interest to the State. No other pleadings or papers may be submitted society can provide the specific answer to every individual problem.[39]
without leave of court. After the lapse of the period herein provided, the
case will be considered submitted for decision, with or without the WHEREFORE, the Petition is GRANTED and the assailed Decision of the
memoranda. Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 62539, dated 30 July 2001, affirming the
Judgment of the RTC of Cebu City, Branch 22, in Civil Case No. CEB-20077,
dated 30 October 1998, is REVERSED and SET ASIDE.
The marriage of respondent Crasus L. Iyoy and Fely Ada Rosal-Iyoy remains for reconsideration. The court a quo had declared that herein respondent
valid and subsisting. Cipriano Orbecido III is capacitated to remarry. The fallo of the impugned
Decision reads:
SO ORDERED. WHEREFORE, by virtue of the provision of the second paragraph of Art. 26
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, of the Family Code and by reason of the divorce decree obtained against
Petitioner, him by his American wife, the petitioner is given the capacity to remarry
G.R. No. 154380 under the Philippine Law.
IT IS SO ORDERED.[3]
The factual antecedents, as narrated by the trial court, are as follows.
On May 24, 1981, Cipriano Orbecido III married Lady Myros M. Villanueva
at the United Church of Christ in the Philippines in Lam-an, Ozamis City.
Their marriage was blessed with a son and a daughter, Kristoffer Simbortriz
- versus -
V. Orbecido and Lady Kimberly V. Orbecido.
In 1986, Ciprianos wife left for the United States bringing along their son
Present: Kristoffer. A few years later, Cipriano discovered that his wife had been
naturalized as an American citizen.
Davide, Jr., C.J., Sometime in 2000, Cipriano learned from his son that his wife had
(Chairman), obtained a divorce decree and then married a certain Innocent Stanley.
Quisumbing, She, Stanley and her child by him currently live at 5566 A. Walnut Grove
Ynares-Santiago, Avenue, San Gabriel, California.
Carpio, and Cipriano thereafter filed with the trial court a petition for authority to
Azcuna, JJ. remarry invoking Paragraph 2 of Article 26 of the Family Code. No
CIPRIANO ORBECIDO III, opposition was filed. Finding merit in the petition, the court granted the
Respondent. same. The Republic, herein petitioner, through the Office of the Solicitor
General (OSG), sought reconsideration but it was denied.
Promulgated: In this petition, the OSG raises a pure question of law:
October 5, 2005 WHETHER OR NOT RESPONDENT CAN REMARRY UNDER ARTICLE 26 OF
x--------------------------------------------------x THE FAMILY CODE[4]
The OSG contends that Paragraph 2 of Article 26 of the Family Code is not
DECISION applicable to the instant case because it only applies to a valid mixed
QUISUMBING, J.: marriage; that is, a marriage celebrated between a Filipino citizen and an
Given a valid marriage between two Filipino citizens, where one party is alien. The proper remedy, according to the OSG, is to file a petition for
later naturalized as a foreign citizen and obtains a valid divorce decree annulment or for legal separation.[5] Furthermore, the OSG argues there is
capacitating him or her to remarry, can the Filipino spouse likewise remarry no law that governs respondents situation. The OSG posits that this is a
under Philippine law? matter of legislation and not of judicial determination.[6]
Before us is a case of first impression that behooves the Court to make a For his part, respondent admits that Article 26 is not directly applicable to
definite ruling on this apparently novel question, presented as a pure his case but insists that when his naturalized alien wife obtained a divorce
question of law. decree which capacitated her to remarry, he is likewise capacitated by
In this petition for review, the Solicitor General assails the Decision[1] operation of law pursuant to Section 12, Article II of the Constitution.[7]
dated May 15, 2002, of the Regional Trial Court of Molave, Zamboanga del
Sur, Branch 23 and its Resolution[2] dated July 4, 2002 denying the motion
At the outset, we note that the petition for authority to remarry filed On July 17, 1987, shortly after the signing of the original Family Code,
before the trial court actually constituted a petition for declaratory relief. In Executive Order No. 227 was likewise signed into law, amending Articles 26,
this connection, Section 1, Rule 63 of the Rules of Court provides: 36, and 39 of the Family Code. A second paragraph was added to Article 26.
RULE 63 As so amended, it now provides:
DECLARATORY RELIEF AND SIMILAR REMEDIES ART. 26. All marriages solemnized outside the Philippines in accordance
with the laws in force in the country where they were solemnized, and
Section 1. Who may file petitionAny person interested under a deed, will, valid there as such, shall also be valid in this country, except those
contract or other written instrument, or whose rights are affected by a prohibited under Articles 35(1), (4), (5) and (6), 36, 37 and 38.
statute, executive order or regulation, ordinance, or other governmental Where a marriage between a Filipino citizen and a foreigner is validly
regulation may, before breach or violation thereof, bring an action in the celebrated and a divorce is thereafter validly obtained abroad by the alien
appropriate Regional Trial Court to determine any question of construction spouse capacitating him or her to remarry, the Filipino spouse shall have
or validity arising, and for a declaration of his rights or duties, thereunder. capacity to remarry under Philippine law. (Emphasis supplied)
... On its face, the foregoing provision does not appear to govern the situation
The requisites of a petition for declaratory relief are: (1) there must be a presented by the case at hand. It seems to apply only to cases where at the
justiciable controversy; (2) the controversy must be between persons time of the celebration of the marriage, the parties are a Filipino citizen
whose interests are adverse; (3) that the party seeking the relief has a legal and a foreigner. The instant case is one where at the time the marriage was
interest in the controversy; and (4) that the issue is ripe for judicial solemnized, the parties were two Filipino citizens, but later on, the wife
determination.[8] was naturalized as an American citizen and subsequently obtained a
This case concerns the applicability of Paragraph 2 of Article 26 to a divorce granting her capacity to remarry, and indeed she remarried an
marriage between two Filipino citizens where one later acquired alien American citizen while residing in the U.S.A.
citizenship, obtained a divorce decree, and remarried while in the U.S.A. Noteworthy, in the Report of the Public Hearings[9] on the Family Code,
The interests of the parties are also adverse, as petitioner representing the the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) registered the
State asserts its duty to protect the institution of marriage while following objections to Paragraph 2 of Article 26:
respondent, a private citizen, insists on a declaration of his capacity to 1. The rule is discriminatory. It discriminates against those whose
remarry. Respondent, praying for relief, has legal interest in the spouses are Filipinos who divorce them abroad. These spouses who are
controversy. The issue raised is also ripe for judicial determination divorced will not be able to re-marry, while the spouses of foreigners who
inasmuch as when respondent remarries, litigation ensues and puts into validly divorce them abroad can.
question the validity of his second marriage. 2. This is the beginning of the recognition of the validity of
Coming now to the substantive issue, does Paragraph 2 of Article 26 of the divorce even for Filipino citizens. For those whose foreign spouses validly
Family Code apply to the case of respondent? Necessarily, we must dwell divorce them abroad will also be considered to be validly divorced here and
on how this provision had come about in the first place, and what was the can re-marry. We propose that this be deleted and made into law only after
intent of the legislators in its enactment? more widespread consultation. (Emphasis supplied.)
Brief Historical Background Legislative Intent
On July 6, 1987, then President Corazon Aquino signed into law Executive Records of the proceedings of the Family Code deliberations showed that
Order No. 209, otherwise known as the Family Code, which took effect on the intent of Paragraph 2 of Article 26, according to Judge Alicia Sempio-
August 3, 1988. Article 26 thereof states: Diy, a member of the Civil Code Revision Committee, is to avoid the absurd
All marriages solemnized outside the Philippines in accordance with the situation where the Filipino spouse remains married to the alien spouse
laws in force in the country where they were solemnized, and valid there as who, after obtaining a divorce, is no longer married to the Filipino spouse.
such, shall also be valid in this country, except those prohibited under Interestingly, Paragraph 2 of Article 26 traces its origin to the 1985 case of
Articles 35, 37, and 38. Van Dorn v. Romillo, Jr.[10] The Van Dorn case involved a marriage between
a Filipino citizen and a foreigner. The Court held therein that a divorce
decree validly obtained by the alien spouse is valid in the Philippines, and In this case, when Ciprianos wife was naturalized as an American citizen,
consequently, the Filipino spouse is capacitated to remarry under there was still a valid marriage that has been celebrated between her and
Philippine law. Cipriano. As fate would have it, the naturalized alien wife subsequently
Does the same principle apply to a case where at the time of the obtained a valid divorce capacitating her to remarry. Clearly, the twin
celebration of the marriage, the parties were Filipino citizens, but later on, requisites for the application of Paragraph 2 of Article 26 are both present
one of them obtains a foreign citizenship by naturalization? in this case. Thus Cipriano, the divorced Filipino spouse, should be allowed
The jurisprudential answer lies latent in the 1998 case of Quita v. Court of to remarry.
Appeals.[11] In Quita, the parties were, as in this case, Filipino citizens We are also unable to sustain the OSGs theory that the proper remedy of
when they got married. The wife became a naturalized American citizen in the Filipino spouse is to file either a petition for annulment or a petition for
1954 and obtained a divorce in the same year. The Court therein hinted, by legal separation. Annulment would be a long and tedious process, and in
way of obiter dictum, that a Filipino divorced by his naturalized foreign this particular case, not even feasible, considering that the marriage of the
spouse is no longer married under Philippine law and can thus remarry. parties appears to have all the badges of validity. On the other hand, legal
Thus, taking into consideration the legislative intent and applying the rule separation would not be a sufficient remedy for it would not sever the
of reason, we hold that Paragraph 2 of Article 26 should be interpreted to marriage tie; hence, the legally separated Filipino spouse would still remain
include cases involving parties who, at the time of the celebration of the married to the naturalized alien spouse.
marriage were Filipino citizens, but later on, one of them becomes However, we note that the records are bereft of competent evidence duly
naturalized as a foreign citizen and obtains a divorce decree. The Filipino submitted by respondent concerning the divorce decree and the
spouse should likewise be allowed to remarry as if the other party were a naturalization of respondents wife. It is settled rule that one who alleges a
foreigner at the time of the solemnization of the marriage. To rule fact has the burden of proving it and mere allegation is not evidence.[13]
otherwise would be to sanction absurdity and injustice. Where the Accordingly, for his plea to prosper, respondent herein must prove his
interpretation of a statute according to its exact and literal import would allegation that his wife was naturalized as an American citizen. Likewise,
lead to mischievous results or contravene the clear purpose of the before a foreign divorce decree can be recognized by our own courts, the
legislature, it should be construed according to its spirit and reason, party pleading it must prove the divorce as a fact and demonstrate its
disregarding as far as necessary the letter of the law. A statute may conformity to the foreign law allowing it.[14] Such foreign law must also be
therefore be extended to cases not within the literal meaning of its terms, proved as our courts cannot take judicial notice of foreign laws. Like any
so long as they come within its spirit or intent.[12] other fact, such laws must be alleged and proved.[15] Furthermore,
If we are to give meaning to the legislative intent to avoid the absurd respondent must also show that the divorce decree allows his former wife
situation where the Filipino spouse remains married to the alien spouse to remarry as specifically required in Article 26. Otherwise, there would be
who, after obtaining a divorce is no longer married to the Filipino spouse, no evidence sufficient to declare that he is capacitated to enter into
then the instant case must be deemed as coming within the contemplation another marriage.
of Paragraph 2 of Article 26. Nevertheless, we are unanimous in our holding that Paragraph 2 of Article
In view of the foregoing, we state the twin elements for the application of 26 of the Family Code (E.O. No. 209, as amended by E.O. No. 227), should
Paragraph 2 of Article 26 as follows: be interpreted to allow a Filipino citizen, who has been divorced by a
1. There is a valid marriage that has been celebrated between a spouse who had acquired foreign citizenship and remarried, also to
Filipino citizen and a foreigner; and remarry. However, considering that in the present petition there is no
2. A valid divorce is obtained abroad by the alien spouse sufficient evidence submitted and on record, we are unable to declare,
capacitating him or her to remarry. based on respondents bare allegations that his wife, who was naturalized
The reckoning point is not the citizenship of the parties at the time of the as an American citizen, had obtained a divorce decree and had remarried
celebration of the marriage, but their citizenship at the time a valid divorce an American, that respondent is now capacitated to remarry. Such
is obtained abroad by the alien spouse capacitating the latter to remarry. declaration could only be made properly upon respondents submission of
the aforecited evidence in his favor.
ACCORDINGLY, the petition by the Republic of the Philippines is GRANTED. BRION, J.:
The assailed Decision dated May 15, 2002, and Resolution dated July 4,
2002, of the Regional Trial Court of Molave, Zamboanga del Sur, Branch 23,
are hereby SET ASIDE. Before the Court is a direct appeal from the decision[1] of the Regional Trial
No pronouncement as to costs. Court (RTC) of Laoag City, Branch 11, elevated via a petition for review on
SO ORDERED. certiorari[2] under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court (present petition).

GERBERT R. CORPUZ, Petitioner Gerbert R. Corpuz was a former Filipino citizen who acquired
Petitioner, Canadian citizenship through naturalization on November 29, 2000.[3] On
January 18, 2005, Gerbert married respondent Daisylyn T. Sto. Tomas, a
Filipina, in Pasig City.[4] Due to work and other professional commitments,
Gerbert left for Canada soon after the wedding. He returned to the
Philippines sometime in April 2005 to surprise Daisylyn, but was shocked to
- versus - discover that his wife was having an affair with another man. Hurt and
disappointed, Gerbert returned to Canada and filed a petition for divorce.
The Superior Court of Justice, Windsor, Ontario, Canada granted Gerberts
petition for divorce on December 8, 2005. The divorce decree took effect a
month later, on January 8, 2006.[5]

Two years after the divorce, Gerbert has moved on and has found another
DAISYLYN TIROL STO. TOMAS and The SOLICITOR GENERAL,
Filipina to love. Desirous of marrying his new Filipina fiance in the
Respondents. -- -
Philippines, Gerbert went to the Pasig City Civil Registry Office and
G.R. No. 186571
registered the Canadian divorce decree on his and Daisylyns marriage
certificate. Despite the registration of the divorce decree, an official of the
Present: National Statistics Office (NSO) informed Gerbert that the marriage
between him and Daisylyn still subsists under Philippine law; to be
CARPIO MORALES, J., Chairperson, enforceable, the foreign divorce decree must first be judicially recognized
BRION, by a competent Philippine court, pursuant to NSO Circular No. 4, series of
BERSAMIN, 1982.[6]
*ABAD, and
VILLARAMA, JR., JJ. Accordingly, Gerbert filed a petition for judicial recognition of foreign
divorce and/or declaration of marriage as dissolved (petition) with the RTC.
Although summoned, Daisylyn did not file any responsive pleading but
Promulgated: submitted instead a notarized letter/manifestation to the trial court. She
August 11, 2010 offered no opposition to Gerberts petition and, in fact, alleged her desire to
x-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- file a similar case herself but was prevented by financial and personal
------------x circumstances. She, thus, requested that she be considered as a party-in-
interest with a similar prayer to Gerberts.
DECISION
In its October 30, 2008 decision,[7] the RTC denied Gerberts petition. The since two marriage certificates, involving him, would be on file with the
RTC concluded that Gerbert was not the proper party to institute the action Civil Registry Office. The Office of the Solicitor General and Daisylyn, in
for judicial recognition of the foreign divorce decree as he is a naturalized their respective Comments,[14] both support Gerberts position.
Canadian citizen. It ruled that only the Filipino spouse can avail of the
remedy, under the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code,[8] in Essentially, the petition raises the issue of whether the second paragraph
order for him or her to be able to remarry under Philippine law.[9] Article of Article 26 of the Family Code extends to aliens the right to petition a
26 of the Family Code reads: court of this jurisdiction for the recognition of a foreign divorce decree.
THE COURTS RULING
Art. 26. All marriages solemnized outside the Philippines, in accordance
with the laws in force in the country where they were solemnized, and The alien spouse can claim no right under the second paragraph of Article
valid there as such, shall also be valid in this country, except those 26 of the Family Code as the substantive right it establishes is in favor of
prohibited under Articles 35(1), (4), (5) and (6), 36, 37 and 38. the Filipino spouse

Where a marriage between a Filipino citizen and a foreigner is validly The resolution of the issue requires a review of the legislative history and
celebrated and a divorce is thereafter validly obtained abroad by the alien intent behind the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code.
spouse capacitating him or her to remarry, the Filipino spouse shall likewise
have capacity to remarry under Philippine law. The Family Code recognizes only two types of defective marriages void[15]
and voidable[16] marriages. In both cases, the basis for the judicial
This conclusion, the RTC stated, is consistent with the legislative intent declaration of absolute nullity or annulment of the marriage exists before
behind the enactment of the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family or at the time of the marriage. Divorce, on the other hand, contemplates
Code, as determined by the Court in Republic v. Orbecido III;[10] the the dissolution of the lawful union for cause arising after the marriage.[17]
provision was enacted to avoid the absurd situation where the Filipino Our family laws do not recognize absolute divorce between Filipino
spouse remains married to the alien spouse who, after obtaining a divorce, citizens.[18]
is no longer married to the Filipino spouse.[11] Recognizing the reality that divorce is a possibility in marriages between a
Filipino and an alien, President Corazon C. Aquino, in the exercise of her
THE PETITION legislative powers under the Freedom Constitution,[19] enacted Executive
Order No. (EO) 227, amending Article 26 of the Family Code to its present
From the RTCs ruling,[12] Gerbert filed the present petition.[13] wording, as follows:
Gerbert asserts that his petition before the RTC is essentially for
declaratory relief, similar to that filed in Orbecido; he, thus, similarly asks Art. 26. All marriages solemnized outside the Philippines, in accordance
for a determination of his rights under the second paragraph of Article 26 with the laws in force in the country where they were solemnized, and
of the Family Code. Taking into account the rationale behind the second valid there as such, shall also be valid in this country, except those
paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code, he contends that the provision prohibited under Articles 35(1), (4), (5) and (6), 36, 37 and 38.
applies as well to the benefit of the alien spouse. He claims that the RTC
ruling unduly stretched the doctrine in Orbecido by limiting the standing to Where a marriage between a Filipino citizen and a foreigner is validly
file the petition only to the Filipino spouse an interpretation he claims to celebrated and a divorce is thereafter validly obtained abroad by the alien
be contrary to the essence of the second paragraph of Article 26 of the spouse capacitating him or her to remarry, the Filipino spouse shall likewise
Family Code. He considers himself as a proper party, vested with sufficient have capacity to remarry under Philippine law.
legal interest, to institute the case, as there is a possibility that he might be
prosecuted for bigamy if he marries his Filipina fiance in the Philippines
Through the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code, EO 227 If the court finds that the decree capacitated the alien spouse to remarry,
effectively incorporated into the law this Courts holding in Van Dorn v. the courts can declare that the Filipino spouse is likewise capacitated to
Romillo, Jr.[20] and Pilapil v. Ibay-Somera.[21] In both cases, the Court contract another marriage. No court in this jurisdiction, however, can make
refused to acknowledge the alien spouses assertion of marital rights after a a similar declaration for the alien spouse (other than that already
foreign courts divorce decree between the alien and the Filipino. The established by the decree), whose status and legal capacity are generally
Court, thus, recognized that the foreign divorce had already severed the governed by his national law.[26]
marital bond between the spouses. The Court reasoned in Van Dorn v.
Romillo that: Given the rationale and intent behind the enactment, and the purpose of
the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code, the RTC was correct
To maintain x x x that, under our laws, [the Filipino spouse] has to be in limiting the applicability of the provision for the benefit of the Filipino
considered still married to [the alien spouse] and still subject to a wife's spouse. In other words, only the Filipino spouse can invoke the second
obligations x x x cannot be just. [The Filipino spouse] should not be obliged paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code; the alien spouse can claim no
to live together with, observe respect and fidelity, and render support to right under this provision.
[the alien spouse]. The latter should not continue to be one of her heirs
with possible rights to conjugal property. She should not be discriminated
against in her own country if the ends of justice are to be served.[22] The foreign divorce decree is presumptive evidence of a right that clothes
the party with legal interest to petition for its recognition in this jurisdiction

As the RTC correctly stated, the provision was included in the law to avoid We qualify our above conclusion i.e., that the second paragraph of Article
the absurd situation where the Filipino spouse remains married to the alien 26 of the Family Code bestows no rights in favor of aliens with the
spouse who, after obtaining a divorce, is no longer married to the Filipino complementary statement that this conclusion is not sufficient basis to
spouse.[23] The legislative intent is for the benefit of the Filipino spouse, dismiss Gerberts petition before the RTC. In other words, the unavailability
by clarifying his or her marital status, settling the doubts created by the of the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code to aliens does not
divorce decree. Essentially, the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family necessarily strip Gerbert of legal interest to petition the RTC for the
Code provided the Filipino spouse a substantive right to have his or her recognition of his foreign divorce decree. The foreign divorce decree itself,
marriage to the alien spouse considered as dissolved, capacitating him or after its authenticity and conformity with the aliens national law have been
her to remarry.[24] Without the second paragraph of Article 26 of the duly proven according to our rules of evidence, serves as a presumptive
Family Code, the judicial recognition of the foreign decree of divorce, evidence of right in favor of Gerbert, pursuant to Section 48, Rule 39 of the
whether in a proceeding instituted precisely for that purpose or as a Rules of Court which provides for the effect of foreign judgments. This
related issue in another proceeding, would be of no significance to the Section states:
Filipino spouse since our laws do not recognize divorce as a mode of
severing the marital bond;[25] Article 17 of the Civil Code provides that the SEC. 48. Effect of foreign judgments or final orders.The effect of a judgment
policy against absolute divorces cannot be subverted by judgments or final order of a tribunal of a foreign country, having jurisdiction to render
promulgated in a foreign country. The inclusion of the second paragraph in the judgment or final order is as follows:
Article 26 of the Family Code provides the direct exception to this rule and
serves as basis for recognizing the dissolution of the marriage between the (a) In case of a judgment or final order upon a specific thing, the
Filipino spouse and his or her alien spouse. judgment or final order is conclusive upon the title of the thing; and

Additionally, an action based on the second paragraph of Article 26 of the


Family Code is not limited to the recognition of the foreign divorce decree.
(b) In case of a judgment or final order against a person, the [30] but failed to include a copy of the Canadian law on divorce.[31] Under
judgment or final order is presumptive evidence of a right as between the this situation, we can, at this point, simply dismiss the petition for
parties and their successors in interest by a subsequent title. insufficiency of supporting evidence, unless we deem it more appropriate
to remand the case to the RTC to determine whether the divorce decree is
In either case, the judgment or final order may be repelled by evidence of a consistent with the Canadian divorce law.
want of jurisdiction, want of notice to the party, collusion, fraud, or clear
mistake of law or fact. We deem it more appropriate to take this latter course of action, given the
Article 26 interests that will be served and the Filipina wifes (Daisylyns)
To our mind, direct involvement or being the subject of the foreign obvious conformity with the petition. A remand, at the same time, will
judgment is sufficient to clothe a party with the requisite interest to allow other interested parties to oppose the foreign judgment and
institute an action before our courts for the recognition of the foreign overcome a petitioners presumptive evidence of a right by proving want of
judgment. In a divorce situation, we have declared, no less, that the jurisdiction, want of notice to a party, collusion, fraud, or clear mistake of
divorce obtained by an alien abroad may be recognized in the Philippines, law or fact. Needless to state, every precaution must be taken to ensure
provided the divorce is valid according to his or her national law.[27] conformity with our laws before a recognition is made, as the foreign
judgment, once recognized, shall have the effect of res judicata[32]
The starting point in any recognition of a foreign divorce judgment is the between the parties, as provided in Section 48, Rule 39 of the Rules of
acknowledgment that our courts do not take judicial notice of foreign Court.[33]
judgments and laws. Justice Herrera explained that, as a rule, no sovereign
is bound to give effect within its dominion to a judgment rendered by a In fact, more than the principle of comity that is served by the practice of
tribunal of another country.[28] This means that the foreign judgment and reciprocal recognition of foreign judgments between nations, the res
its authenticity must be proven as facts under our rules on evidence, judicata effect of the foreign judgments of divorce serves as the deeper
together with the aliens applicable national law to show the effect of the basis for extending judicial recognition and for considering the alien spouse
judgment on the alien himself or herself.[29] The recognition may be made bound by its terms. This same effect, as discussed above, will not obtain for
in an action instituted specifically for the purpose or in another action the Filipino spouse were it not for the substantive rule that the second
where a party invokes the foreign decree as an integral aspect of his claim paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code provides.
or defense.
Considerations beyond the recognition of the foreign divorce decree
In Gerberts case, since both the foreign divorce decree and the national As a matter of housekeeping concern, we note that the Pasig City Civil
law of the alien, recognizing his or her capacity to obtain a divorce, purport Registry Office has already recorded the divorce decree on Gerbert and
to be official acts of a sovereign authority, Section 24, Rule 132 of the Rules Daisylyns marriage certificate based on the mere presentation of the
of Court comes into play. This Section requires proof, either by (1) official decree.[34] We consider the recording to be legally improper; hence, the
publications or (2) copies attested by the officer having legal custody of the need to draw attention of the bench and the bar to what had been done.
documents. If the copies of official records are not kept in the Philippines,
these must be (a) accompanied by a certificate issued by the proper Article 407 of the Civil Code states that [a]cts, events and judicial decrees
diplomatic or consular officer in the Philippine foreign service stationed in concerning the civil status of persons shall be recorded in the civil register.
the foreign country in which the record is kept and (b) authenticated by the The law requires the entry in the civil registry of judicial decrees that
seal of his office. produce legal consequences touching upon a persons legal capacity and
status, i.e., those affecting all his personal qualities and relations, more or
The records show that Gerbert attached to his petition a copy of the less permanent in nature, not ordinarily terminable at his own will, such as
divorce decree, as well as the required certificates proving its authenticity, his being legitimate or illegitimate, or his being married or not.[35]
present case, no judicial order as yet exists recognizing the foreign divorce
A judgment of divorce is a judicial decree, although a foreign one, affecting decree. Thus, the Pasig City Civil Registry Office acted totally out of turn
a persons legal capacity and status that must be recorded. In fact, Act No. and without authority of law when it annotated the Canadian divorce
3753 or the Law on Registry of Civil Status specifically requires the decree on Gerbert and Daisylyns marriage certificate, on the strength alone
registration of divorce decrees in the civil registry: of the foreign decree presented by Gerbert.

Sec. 1. Civil Register. A civil register is established for recording the civil Evidently, the Pasig City Civil Registry Office was aware of the requirement
status of persons, in which shall be entered: of a court recognition, as it cited NSO Circular No. 4, series of 1982,[36] and
Department of Justice Opinion No. 181, series of 1982[37] both of which
(a) births; required a final order from a competent Philippine court before a foreign
(b) deaths; judgment, dissolving a marriage, can be registered in the civil registry, but
(c) marriages; it, nonetheless, allowed the registration of the decree. For being contrary
(d) annulments of marriages; to law, the registration of the foreign divorce decree without the requisite
(e) divorces; judicial recognition is patently void and cannot produce any legal effect.
(f) legitimations;
(g) adoptions; Another point we wish to draw attention to is that the recognition that the
(h) acknowledgment of natural children; RTC may extend to the Canadian divorce decree does not, by itself,
(i) naturalization; and authorize the cancellation of the entry in the civil registry. A petition for
(j) changes of name. recognition of a foreign judgment is not the proper proceeding,
contemplated under the Rules of Court, for the cancellation of entries in
xxxx the civil registry.

Sec. 4. Civil Register Books. The local registrars shall keep and preserve in Article 412 of the Civil Code declares that no entry in a civil register shall be
their offices the following books, in which they shall, respectively make the changed or corrected, without judicial order. The Rules of Court
proper entries concerning the civil status of persons: supplements Article 412 of the Civil Code by specifically providing for a
special remedial proceeding by which entries in the civil registry may be
(1) Birth and death register; judicially cancelled or corrected. Rule 108 of the Rules of Court sets in
detail the jurisdictional and procedural requirements that must be
complied with before a judgment, authorizing the cancellation or
(2) Marriage register, in which shall be entered not only the marriages
correction, may be annotated in the civil registry. It also requires, among
solemnized but also divorces and dissolved marriages.
others, that the verified petition must be filed with the RTC of the province
where the corresponding civil registry is located;[38] that the civil registrar
(3) Legitimation, acknowledgment, adoption, change of name and
and all persons who have or claim any interest must be made parties to the
naturalization register.
proceedings;[39] and that the time and place for hearing must be
published in a newspaper of general circulation.[40] As these basic
jurisdictional requirements have not been met in the present case, we
But while the law requires the entry of the divorce decree in the civil cannot consider the petition Gerbert filed with the RTC as one filed under
registry, the law and the submission of the decree by themselves do not Rule 108 of the Rules of Court.
ipso facto authorize the decrees registration. The law should be read in
relation with the requirement of a judicial recognition of the foreign
judgment before it can be given res judicata effect. In the context of the
We hasten to point out, however, that this ruling should not be construed
as requiring two separate proceedings for the registration of a foreign
divorce decree in the civil registry one for recognition of the foreign decree
and another specifically for cancellation of the entry under Rule 108 of the
Rules of Court. The recognition of the foreign divorce decree may be made
in a Rule 108 proceeding itself, as the object of special proceedings (such as
that in Rule 108 of the Rules of Court) is precisely to establish the status or
right of a party or a particular fact. Moreover, Rule 108 of the Rules of
Court can serve as the appropriate adversarial proceeding[41] by which the
applicability of the foreign judgment can be measured and tested in terms
of jurisdictional infirmities, want of notice to the party, collusion, fraud, or
clear mistake of law or fact.

WHEREFORE, we GRANT the petition for review on certiorari, and REVERSE


the October 30, 2008 decision of the Regional Trial Court of Laoag City,
Branch 11, as well as its February 17, 2009 order. We order the REMAND of
the case to the trial court for further proceedings in accordance with our
ruling above. Let a copy of this Decision be furnished the Civil Registrar
General. No costs.

SO ORDERED.
Petitioner Minoru Fujiki (Fujiki) is a Japanese national who married
respondent Maria Paz Galela Marinay (Marinay) in the Philippines2 on 23
January 2004. The marriage did not sit well with petitioner’s parents. Thus,
Fujiki could not bring his wife to Japan where he resides. Eventually, they
lost contact with each other.

In 2008, Marinay met another Japanese, Shinichi Maekara (Maekara).


Without the first marriage being dissolved, Marinay and Maekara were
married on 15 May 2008 in Quezon City, Philippines. Maekara brought
Marinay to Japan. However, Marinay allegedly suffered physical abuse from
Maekara. She left Maekara and started to contact Fujiki.3

Fujiki and Marinay met in Japan and they were able to reestablish their
relationship. In 2010, Fujiki helped Marinay obtain a judgment from a
family court in Japan which declared the marriage between Marinay and
G.R. No. 196049 June 26, 2013 Maekara void on the ground of bigamy.4 On 14 January 2011, Fujiki filed a
petition in the RTC entitled: "Judicial Recognition of Foreign Judgment (or
MINORU FUJIKI, PETITIONER, Decree of Absolute Nullity of Marriage)." Fujiki prayed that (1) the
vs. Japanese Family Court judgment be recognized; (2) that the bigamous
MARIA PAZ GALELA MARINAY, SHINICHI MAEKARA, LOCAL CIVIL REGISTRAR marriage between Marinay and Maekara be declared void ab initio under
OF QUEZON CITY, AND THE ADMINISTRATOR AND CIVIL REGISTRAR Articles 35(4) and 41 of the Family Code of the Philippines;5 and (3) for the
GENERAL OF THE NATIONAL STATISTICS OFFICE, RESPONDENTS. RTC to direct the Local Civil Registrar of Quezon City to annotate the
Japanese Family Court judgment on the Certificate of Marriage between
DECISION Marinay and Maekara and to endorse such annotation to the Office of the
Administrator and Civil Registrar General in the National Statistics Office
CARPIO, J.: (NSO).6

The Case The Ruling of the Regional Trial Court

This is a direct recourse to this Court from the Regional Trial Court (RTC), A few days after the filing of the petition, the RTC immediately issued an
Branch 107, Quezon City, through a petition for review on certiorari under Order dismissing the petition and withdrawing the case from its active civil
Rule 45 of the Rules of Court on a pure question of law. The petition assails docket.7 The RTC cited the following provisions of the Rule on Declaration
the Order1 dated 31 January 2011 of the RTC in Civil Case No. Q-11-68582 of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages and Annulment of Voidable Marriages
and its Resolution dated 2 March 2011 denying petitioner’s Motion for (A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC):
Reconsideration. The RTC dismissed the petition for "Judicial Recognition of
Foreign Judgment (or Decree of Absolute Nullity of Marriage)" based on Sec. 2. Petition for declaration of absolute nullity of void marriages. –
improper venue and the lack of personality of petitioner, Minoru Fujiki, to
file the petition. (a) Who may file. – A petition for declaration of absolute nullity of void
marriage may be filed solely by the husband or the wife.
The Facts
xxxx had material interest and therefore the personality to nullify a bigamous
marriage.
Sec. 4. Venue. – The petition shall be filed in the Family Court of the
province or city where the petitioner or the respondent has been residing Fujiki argued that Rule 108 (Cancellation or Correction of Entries in the Civil
for at least six months prior to the date of filing, or in the case of a non- Registry) of the Rules of Court is applicable. Rule 108 is the "procedural
resident respondent, where he may be found in the Philippines, at the implementation" of the Civil Register Law (Act No. 3753)15 in relation to
election of the petitioner. x x x Article 413 of the Civil Code.16 The Civil Register Law imposes a duty on
the "successful petitioner for divorce or annulment of marriage to send a
The RTC ruled, without further explanation, that the petition was in "gross copy of the final decree of the court to the local registrar of the
violation" of the above provisions. The trial court based its dismissal on municipality where the dissolved or annulled marriage was solemnized."17
Section 5(4) of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC which provides that "[f]ailure to Section 2 of Rule 108 provides that entries in the civil registry relating to
comply with any of the preceding requirements may be a ground for "marriages," "judgments of annulments of marriage" and "judgments
immediate dismissal of the petition."8 Apparently, the RTC took the view declaring marriages void from the beginning" are subject to cancellation or
that only "the husband or the wife," in this case either Maekara or Marinay, correction.18 The petition in the RTC sought (among others) to annotate
can file the petition to declare their marriage void, and not Fujiki. the judgment of the Japanese Family Court on the certificate of marriage
between Marinay and Maekara.
Fujiki moved that the Order be reconsidered. He argued that A.M. No. 02-
11-10-SC contemplated ordinary civil actions for declaration of nullity and Fujiki’s motion for reconsideration in the RTC also asserted that the trial
annulment of marriage. Thus, A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC does not apply. A court "gravely erred" when, on its own, it dismissed the petition based on
petition for recognition of foreign judgment is a special proceeding, which improper venue. Fujiki stated that the RTC may be confusing the concept of
"seeks to establish a status, a right or a particular fact,"9 and not a civil venue with the concept of jurisdiction, because it is lack of jurisdiction
action which is "for the enforcement or protection of a right, or the which allows a court to dismiss a case on its own. Fujiki cited Dacoycoy v.
prevention or redress of a wrong."10 In other words, the petition in the Intermediate Appellate Court19 which held that the "trial court cannot pre-
RTC sought to establish (1) the status and concomitant rights of Fujiki and empt the defendant’s prerogative to object to the improper laying of the
Marinay as husband and wife and (2) the fact of the rendition of the venue by motu proprio dismissing the case."20 Moreover, petitioner
Japanese Family Court judgment declaring the marriage between Marinay alleged that the trial court should not have "immediately dismissed" the
and Maekara as void on the ground of bigamy. The petitioner contended petition under Section 5 of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC because he substantially
that the Japanese judgment was consistent with Article 35(4) of the Family complied with the provision.
Code of the Philippines11 on bigamy and was therefore entitled to
recognition by Philippine courts.12 On 2 March 2011, the RTC resolved to deny petitioner’s motion for
reconsideration. In its Resolution, the RTC stated that A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC
In any case, it was also Fujiki’s view that A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC applied only applies because the petitioner, in effect, prays for a decree of absolute
to void marriages under Article 36 of the Family Code on the ground of nullity of marriage.21 The trial court reiterated its two grounds for
psychological incapacity.13 Thus, Section 2(a) of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC dismissal, i.e. lack of personality to sue and improper venue under Sections
provides that "a petition for declaration of absolute nullity of void 2(a) and 4 of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC. The RTC considered Fujiki as a "third
marriages may be filed solely by the husband or the wife." To apply Section person"22 in the proceeding because he "is not the husband in the decree
2(a) in bigamy would be absurd because only the guilty parties would be of divorce issued by the Japanese Family Court, which he now seeks to be
permitted to sue. In the words of Fujiki, "[i]t is not, of course, difficult to judicially recognized, x x x."23 On the other hand, the RTC did not explain
realize that the party interested in having a bigamous marriage declared a its ground of impropriety of venue. It only said that "[a]lthough the Court
nullity would be the husband in the prior, pre-existing marriage."14 Fujiki cited Sec. 4 (Venue) x x x as a ground for dismissal of this case[,] it should
be taken together with the other ground cited by the Court x x x which is [t]he subsequent spouse may only be expected to take action if he or she
Sec. 2(a) x x x."24 had only discovered during the connubial period that the marriage was
bigamous, and especially if the conjugal bliss had already vanished. Should
The RTC further justified its motu proprio dismissal of the petition based on parties in a subsequent marriage benefit from the bigamous marriage, it
Braza v. The City Civil Registrar of Himamaylan City, Negros Occidental.25 would not be expected that they would file an action to declare the
The Court in Braza ruled that "[i]n a special proceeding for correction of marriage void and thus, in such circumstance, the "injured spouse" who
entry under Rule 108 (Cancellation or Correction of Entries in the Original should be given a legal remedy is the one in a subsisting previous marriage.
Registry), the trial court has no jurisdiction to nullify marriages x x x."26 The latter is clearly the aggrieved party as the bigamous marriage not only
Braza emphasized that the "validity of marriages as well as legitimacy and threatens the financial and the property ownership aspect of the prior
filiation can be questioned only in a direct action seasonably filed by the marriage but most of all, it causes an emotional burden to the prior
proper party, and not through a collateral attack such as [a] petition [for spouse. The subsequent marriage will always be a reminder of the infidelity
correction of entry] x x x."27 of the spouse and the disregard of the prior marriage which sanctity is
protected by the Constitution.34
The RTC considered the petition as a collateral attack on the validity of
marriage between Marinay and Maekara. The trial court held that this is a The Solicitor General contended that the petition to recognize the
"jurisdictional ground" to dismiss the petition.28 Moreover, the verification Japanese Family Court judgment may be made in a Rule 108 proceeding.35
and certification against forum shopping of the petition was not In Corpuz v. Santo Tomas,36 this Court held that "[t]he recognition of the
authenticated as required under Section 529 of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC. foreign divorce decree may be made in a Rule 108 proceeding itself, as the
Hence, this also warranted the "immediate dismissal" of the petition under object of special proceedings (such as that in Rule 108 of the Rules of
the same provision. Court) is precisely to establish the status or right of a party or a particular
fact."37 While Corpuz concerned a foreign divorce decree, in the present
The Manifestation and Motion of the Office of the Solicitor General and the case the Japanese Family Court judgment also affected the civil status of
Letters of Marinay and Maekara the parties, especially Marinay, who is a Filipino citizen.

On 30 May 2011, the Court required respondents to file their comment on The Solicitor General asserted that Rule 108 of the Rules of Court is the
the petition for review.30 The public respondents, the Local Civil Registrar procedure to record "[a]cts, events and judicial decrees concerning the civil
of Quezon City and the Administrator and Civil Registrar General of the status of persons" in the civil registry as required by Article 407 of the Civil
NSO, participated through the Office of the Solicitor General. Instead of a Code. In other words, "[t]he law requires the entry in the civil registry of
comment, the Solicitor General filed a Manifestation and Motion.31 judicial decrees that produce legal consequences upon a person’s legal
capacity and status x x x."38 The Japanese Family Court judgment directly
The Solicitor General agreed with the petition. He prayed that the RTC’s bears on the civil status of a Filipino citizen and should therefore be proven
"pronouncement that the petitioner failed to comply with x x x A.M. No. as a fact in a Rule 108 proceeding.
02-11-10-SC x x x be set aside" and that the case be reinstated in the trial
court for further proceedings.32 The Solicitor General argued that Fujiki, as Moreover, the Solicitor General argued that there is no jurisdictional
the spouse of the first marriage, is an injured party who can sue to declare infirmity in assailing a void marriage under Rule 108, citing De Castro v. De
the bigamous marriage between Marinay and Maekara void. The Solicitor Castro39 and Niñal v. Bayadog40 which declared that "[t]he validity of a
General cited Juliano-Llave v. Republic33 which held that Section 2(a) of void marriage may be collaterally attacked."41
A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC does not apply in cases of bigamy. In Juliano-Llave,
this Court explained: Marinay and Maekara individually sent letters to the Court to comply with
the directive for them to comment on the petition.42 Maekara wrote that
Marinay concealed from him the fact that she was previously married to
Fujiki.43 Maekara also denied that he inflicted any form of violence on may prove the Japanese Family Court judgment through (1) an official
Marinay.44 On the other hand, Marinay wrote that she had no reason to publication or (2) a certification or copy attested by the officer who has
oppose the petition.45 She would like to maintain her silence for fear that custody of the judgment. If the office which has custody is in a foreign
anything she say might cause misunderstanding between her and Fujiki.46 country such as Japan, the certification may be made by the proper
diplomatic or consular officer of the Philippine foreign service in Japan and
The Issues authenticated by the seal of office.50

Petitioner raises the following legal issues: To hold that A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC applies to a petition for recognition of
foreign judgment would mean that the trial court and the parties should
(1) Whether the Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages follow its provisions, including the form and contents of the petition,51 the
and Annulment of Voidable Marriages (A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC) is applicable. service of summons,52 the investigation of the public prosecutor,53 the
setting of pre-trial,54 the trial55 and the judgment of the trial court.56 This
(2) Whether a husband or wife of a prior marriage can file a petition to is absurd because it will litigate the case anew. It will defeat the purpose of
recognize a foreign judgment nullifying the subsequent marriage between recognizing foreign judgments, which is "to limit repetitive litigation on
his or her spouse and a foreign citizen on the ground of bigamy. claims and issues."57 The interpretation of the RTC is tantamount to
relitigating the case on the merits. In Mijares v. Rañada,58 this Court
(3) Whether the Regional Trial Court can recognize the foreign judgment in explained that "[i]f every judgment of a foreign court were reviewable on
a proceeding for cancellation or correction of entries in the Civil Registry the merits, the plaintiff would be forced back on his/her original cause of
under Rule 108 of the Rules of Court. action, rendering immaterial the previously concluded litigation."59

The Ruling of the Court A foreign judgment relating to the status of a marriage affects the civil
status, condition and legal capacity of its parties. However, the effect of a
We grant the petition. foreign judgment is not automatic. To extend the effect of a foreign
judgment in the Philippines, Philippine courts must determine if the foreign
The Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages and judgment is consistent with domestic public policy and other mandatory
Annulment of Voidable Marriages (A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC) does not apply in laws.60 Article 15 of the Civil Code provides that "[l]aws relating to family
a petition to recognize a foreign judgment relating to the status of a rights and duties, or to the status, condition and legal capacity of persons
marriage where one of the parties is a citizen of a foreign country. are binding upon citizens of the Philippines, even though living abroad."
Moreover, in Juliano-Llave v. Republic,47 this Court held that the rule in This is the rule of lex nationalii in private international law. Thus, the
A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC that only the husband or wife can file a declaration Philippine State may require, for effectivity in the Philippines, recognition
of nullity or annulment of marriage "does not apply if the reason behind by Philippine courts of a foreign judgment affecting its citizen, over whom it
the petition is bigamy."48 exercises personal jurisdiction relating to the status, condition and legal
capacity of such citizen.
I.
A petition to recognize a foreign judgment declaring a marriage void does
For Philippine courts to recognize a foreign judgment relating to the status not require relitigation under a Philippine court of the case as if it were a
of a marriage where one of the parties is a citizen of a foreign country, the new petition for declaration of nullity of marriage. Philippine courts cannot
petitioner only needs to prove the foreign judgment as a fact under the presume to know the foreign laws under which the foreign judgment was
Rules of Court. To be more specific, a copy of the foreign judgment may be rendered. They cannot substitute their judgment on the status, condition
admitted in evidence and proven as a fact under Rule 132, Sections 24 and and legal capacity of the foreign citizen who is under the jurisdiction of
25, in relation to Rule 39, Section 48(b) of the Rules of Court.49 Petitioner
another state. Thus, Philippine courts can only recognize the foreign
judgment as a fact according to the rules of evidence. Since the recognition of a foreign judgment only requires proof of fact of
the judgment, it may be made in a special proceeding for cancellation or
Section 48(b), Rule 39 of the Rules of Court provides that a foreign correction of entries in the civil registry under Rule 108 of the Rules of
judgment or final order against a person creates a "presumptive evidence Court. Rule 1, Section 3 of the Rules of Court provides that "[a] special
of a right as between the parties and their successors in interest by a proceeding is a remedy by which a party seeks to establish a status, a right,
subsequent title." Moreover, Section 48 of the Rules of Court states that or a particular fact." Rule 108 creates a remedy to rectify facts of a person’s
"the judgment or final order may be repelled by evidence of a want of life which are recorded by the State pursuant to the Civil Register Law or
jurisdiction, want of notice to the party, collusion, fraud, or clear mistake of Act No. 3753. These are facts of public consequence such as birth, death or
law or fact." Thus, Philippine courts exercise limited review on foreign marriage,66 which the State has an interest in recording. As noted by the
judgments. Courts are not allowed to delve into the merits of a foreign Solicitor General, in Corpuz v. Sto. Tomas this Court declared that "[t]he
judgment. Once a foreign judgment is admitted and proven in a Philippine recognition of the foreign divorce decree may be made in a Rule 108
court, it can only be repelled on grounds external to its merits, i.e. , "want proceeding itself, as the object of special proceedings (such as that in Rule
of jurisdiction, want of notice to the party, collusion, fraud, or clear mistake 108 of the Rules of Court) is precisely to establish the status or right of a
of law or fact." The rule on limited review embodies the policy of efficiency party or a particular fact."67
and the protection of party expectations,61 as well as respecting the
jurisdiction of other states.62 Rule 108, Section 1 of the Rules of Court states:

Since 1922 in Adong v. Cheong Seng Gee,63 Philippine courts have Sec. 1. Who may file petition. — Any person interested in any act, event,
recognized foreign divorce decrees between a Filipino and a foreign citizen order or decree concerning the civil status of persons which has been
if they are successfully proven under the rules of evidence.64 Divorce recorded in the civil register, may file a verified petition for the cancellation
involves the dissolution of a marriage, but the recognition of a foreign or correction of any entry relating thereto, with the Regional Trial Court of
divorce decree does not involve the extended procedure under A.M. No. the province where the corresponding civil registry is located. (Emphasis
02-11-10-SC or the rules of ordinary trial. While the Philippines does not supplied)
have a divorce law, Philippine courts may, however, recognize a foreign
divorce decree under the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Fujiki has the personality to file a petition to recognize the Japanese Family
Code, to capacitate a Filipino citizen to remarry when his or her foreign Court judgment nullifying the marriage between Marinay and Maekara on
spouse obtained a divorce decree abroad.65 the ground of bigamy because the judgment concerns his civil status as
married to Marinay. For the same reason he has the personality to file a
There is therefore no reason to disallow Fujiki to simply prove as a fact the petition under Rule 108 to cancel the entry of marriage between Marinay
Japanese Family Court judgment nullifying the marriage between Marinay and Maekara in the civil registry on the basis of the decree of the Japanese
and Maekara on the ground of bigamy. While the Philippines has no Family Court.
divorce law, the Japanese Family Court judgment is fully consistent with
Philippine public policy, as bigamous marriages are declared void from the There is no doubt that the prior spouse has a personal and material
beginning under Article 35(4) of the Family Code. Bigamy is a crime under interest in maintaining the integrity of the marriage he contracted and the
Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code. Thus, Fujiki can prove the existence property relations arising from it. There is also no doubt that he is
of the Japanese Family Court judgment in accordance with Rule 132, interested in the cancellation of an entry of a bigamous marriage in the civil
Sections 24 and 25, in relation to Rule 39, Section 48(b) of the Rules of registry, which compromises the public record of his marriage. The interest
Court. derives from the substantive right of the spouse not only to preserve (or
dissolve, in limited instances68) his most intimate human relation, but also
II. to protect his property interests that arise by operation of law the moment
he contracts marriage.69 These property interests in marriage include the of all, it causes an emotional burden to the prior spouse."80 Being a real
right to be supported "in keeping with the financial capacity of the party in interest, the prior spouse is entitled to sue in order to declare a
family"70 and preserving the property regime of the marriage.71 bigamous marriage void. For this purpose, he can petition a court to
recognize a foreign judgment nullifying the bigamous marriage and
Property rights are already substantive rights protected by the judicially declare as a fact that such judgment is effective in the Philippines.
Constitution,72 but a spouse’s right in a marriage extends further to Once established, there should be no more impediment to cancel the entry
relational rights recognized under Title III ("Rights and Obligations between of the bigamous marriage in the civil registry.
Husband and Wife") of the Family Code.73 A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC cannot
"diminish, increase, or modify" the substantive right of the spouse to III.
maintain the integrity of his marriage.74 In any case, Section 2(a) of A.M.
No. 02-11-10-SC preserves this substantive right by limiting the personality In Braza v. The City Civil Registrar of Himamaylan City, Negros Occidental,
to sue to the husband or the wife of the union recognized by law. this Court held that a "trial court has no jurisdiction to nullify marriages" in
a special proceeding for cancellation or correction of entry under Rule 108
Section 2(a) of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC does not preclude a spouse of a of the Rules of Court.81 Thus, the "validity of marriage[] x x x can be
subsisting marriage to question the validity of a subsequent marriage on questioned only in a direct action" to nullify the marriage.82 The RTC relied
the ground of bigamy. On the contrary, when Section 2(a) states that "[a] on Braza in dismissing the petition for recognition of foreign judgment as a
petition for declaration of absolute nullity of void marriage may be filed collateral attack on the marriage between Marinay and Maekara.
solely by the husband or the wife"75—it refers to the husband or the wife
of the subsisting marriage. Under Article 35(4) of the Family Code, Braza is not applicable because Braza does not involve a recognition of a
bigamous marriages are void from the beginning. Thus, the parties in a foreign judgment nullifying a bigamous marriage where one of the parties
bigamous marriage are neither the husband nor the wife under the law. is a citizen of the foreign country.
The husband or the wife of the prior subsisting marriage is the one who
has the personality to file a petition for declaration of absolute nullity of To be sure, a petition for correction or cancellation of an entry in the civil
void marriage under Section 2(a) of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC. registry cannot substitute for an action to invalidate a marriage. A direct
action is necessary to prevent circumvention of the substantive and
Article 35(4) of the Family Code, which declares bigamous marriages void procedural safeguards of marriage under the Family Code, A.M. No. 02-11-
from the beginning, is the civil aspect of Article 349 of the Revised Penal 10-SC and other related laws. Among these safeguards are the requirement
Code,76 which penalizes bigamy. Bigamy is a public crime. Thus, anyone of proving the limited grounds for the dissolution of marriage,83 support
can initiate prosecution for bigamy because any citizen has an interest in pendente lite of the spouses and children,84 the liquidation, partition and
the prosecution and prevention of crimes.77 If anyone can file a criminal distribution of the properties of the spouses,85 and the investigation of the
action which leads to the declaration of nullity of a bigamous marriage,78 public prosecutor to determine collusion.86 A direct action for declaration
there is more reason to confer personality to sue on the husband or the of nullity or annulment of marriage is also necessary to prevent
wife of a subsisting marriage. The prior spouse does not only share in the circumvention of the jurisdiction of the Family Courts under the Family
public interest of prosecuting and preventing crimes, he is also personally Courts Act of 1997 (Republic Act No. 8369), as a petition for cancellation or
interested in the purely civil aspect of protecting his marriage. correction of entries in the civil registry may be filed in the Regional Trial
Court "where the corresponding civil registry is located."87 In other words,
When the right of the spouse to protect his marriage is violated, the a Filipino citizen cannot dissolve his marriage by the mere expedient of
spouse is clearly an injured party and is therefore interested in the changing his entry of marriage in the civil registry.
judgment of the suit.79 Juliano-Llave ruled that the prior spouse "is clearly
the aggrieved party as the bigamous marriage not only threatens the However, this does not apply in a petition for correction or cancellation of a
financial and the property ownership aspect of the prior marriage but most civil registry entry based on the recognition of a foreign judgment annulling
a marriage where one of the parties is a citizen of the foreign country.
There is neither circumvention of the substantive and procedural The principle in Article 26 of the Family Code applies in a marriage
safeguards of marriage under Philippine law, nor of the jurisdiction of between a Filipino and a foreign citizen who obtains a foreign judgment
Family Courts under R.A. No. 8369. A recognition of a foreign judgment is nullifying the marriage on the ground of bigamy. The Filipino spouse may
not an action to nullify a marriage. It is an action for Philippine courts to file a petition abroad to declare the marriage void on the ground of bigamy.
recognize the effectivity of a foreign judgment, which presupposes a case The principle in the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code
which was already tried and decided under foreign law. The procedure in applies because the foreign spouse, after the foreign judgment nullifying
A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC does not apply in a petition to recognize a foreign the marriage, is capacitated to remarry under the laws of his or her
judgment annulling a bigamous marriage where one of the parties is a country. If the foreign judgment is not recognized in the Philippines, the
citizen of the foreign country. Neither can R.A. No. 8369 define the Filipino spouse will be discriminated—the foreign spouse can remarry
jurisdiction of the foreign court. while the Filipino spouse cannot remarry.

Article 26 of the Family Code confers jurisdiction on Philippine courts to Under the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code, Philippine
extend the effect of a foreign divorce decree to a Filipino spouse without courts are empowered to correct a situation where the Filipino spouse is
undergoing trial to determine the validity of the dissolution of the still tied to the marriage while the foreign spouse is free to marry.
marriage. The second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code provides Moreover, notwithstanding Article 26 of the Family Code, Philippine courts
that "[w]here a marriage between a Filipino citizen and a foreigner is already have jurisdiction to extend the effect of a foreign judgment in the
validly celebrated and a divorce is thereafter validly obtained abroad by the Philippines to the extent that the foreign judgment does not contravene
alien spouse capacitating him or her to remarry, the Filipino spouse shall domestic public policy. A critical difference between the case of a foreign
have capacity to remarry under Philippine law." In Republic v. Orbecido,88 divorce decree and a foreign judgment nullifying a bigamous marriage is
this Court recognized the legislative intent of the second paragraph of that bigamy, as a ground for the nullity of marriage, is fully consistent with
Article 26 which is "to avoid the absurd situation where the Filipino spouse Philippine public policy as expressed in Article 35(4) of the Family Code and
remains married to the alien spouse who, after obtaining a divorce, is no Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code. The Filipino spouse has the option to
longer married to the Filipino spouse"89 under the laws of his or her undergo full trial by filing a petition for declaration of nullity of marriage
country. The second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code only under A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC, but this is not the only remedy available to
authorizes Philippine courts to adopt the effects of a foreign divorce decree him or her. Philippine courts have jurisdiction to recognize a foreign
precisely because the Philippines does not allow divorce. Philippine courts judgment nullifying a bigamous marriage, without prejudice to a criminal
cannot try the case on the merits because it is tantamount to trying a case prosecution for bigamy.
for divorce.
In the recognition of foreign judgments, Philippine courts are incompetent
The second paragraph of Article 26 is only a corrective measure to address to substitute their judgment on how a case was decided under foreign law.
the anomaly that results from a marriage between a Filipino, whose laws They cannot decide on the "family rights and duties, or on the status,
do not allow divorce, and a foreign citizen, whose laws allow divorce. The condition and legal capacity" of the foreign citizen who is a party to the
anomaly consists in the Filipino spouse being tied to the marriage while the foreign judgment. Thus, Philippine courts are limited to the question of
foreign spouse is free to marry under the laws of his or her country. The whether to extend the effect of a foreign judgment in the Philippines. In a
correction is made by extending in the Philippines the effect of the foreign foreign judgment relating to the status of a marriage involving a citizen of a
divorce decree, which is already effective in the country where it was foreign country, Philippine courts only decide whether to extend its effect
rendered. The second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code is based to the Filipino party, under the rule of lex nationalii expressed in Article 15
on this Court’s decision in Van Dorn v. Romillo90 which declared that the of the Civil Code.
Filipino spouse "should not be discriminated against in her own country if
the ends of justice are to be served."91
For this purpose, Philippine courts will only determine (1) whether the
foreign judgment is inconsistent with an overriding public policy in the
Philippines; and (2) whether any alleging party is able to prove an extrinsic
ground to repel the foreign judgment, i.e. want of jurisdiction, want of
notice to the party, collusion, fraud, or clear mistake of law or fact. If there
is neither inconsistency with public policy nor adequate proof to repel the
judgment, Philippine courts should, by default, recognize the foreign
judgment as part of the comity of nations. Section 48(b), Rule 39 of the
Rules of Court states that the foreign judgment is already "presumptive
evidence of a right between the parties." Upon recognition of the foreign
judgment, this right becomes conclusive and the judgment serves as the
basis for the correction or cancellation of entry in the civil registry. The
recognition of the foreign judgment nullifying a bigamous marriage is a
subsequent event that establishes a new status, right and fact92 that needs
to be reflected in the civil registry. Otherwise, there will be an
inconsistency between the recognition of the effectivity of the foreign
judgment and the public records in the Philippines.1âwphi1

However, the recognition of a foreign judgment nullifying a bigamous


marriage is without prejudice to prosecution for bigamy under Article 349
of the Revised Penal Code.93 The recognition of a foreign judgment
nullifying a bigamous marriage is not a ground for extinction of criminal
liability under Articles 89 and 94 of the Revised Penal Code. Moreover,
under Article 91 of the Revised Penal Code, "[t]he term of prescription [of
the crime of bigamy] shall not run when the offender is absent from the
Philippine archipelago."

Since A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC is inapplicable, the Court no longer sees the
need to address the questions on venue and the contents and form of the
petition under Sections 4 and 5, respectively, of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC.

WHEREFORE, we GRANT the petition. The Order dated 31 January 2011


and the Resolution dated 2 March 2011 of the Regional Trial Court, Branch
107, Quezon City, in Civil Case No. Q-11-68582 are REVERSED and SET
ASIDE. The Regional Trial Court is ORDERED to REINSTATE the petition for
further proceedings in accordance with this Decision.

SO ORDERED.
Contrary to law.3

Petitioner thereafter filed a Motion to Suspend Proceedings alleging that:


(1) there is a pending civil case for declaration of nullity of the second
marriage before the RTC of Antipolo City filed by Karla Y. Medina-Capili; (2)
in the event that the marriage is declared null and void, it would exculpate
him from the charge of bigamy; and (3) the pendency of the civil case for
the declaration of nullity of the second marriage serves as a prejudicial
question in the instant criminal case.

Consequently, the arraignment and pre-trial were reset by the RTC of Pasig
City, in view of the filing of the Motion to Suspend Proceedings filed by
petitioner.

G.R. No. 183805 July 3, 2013 In the interim, the RTC of Antipolo City rendered a decision declaring the
voidness or incipient invalidity of the second marriage between petitioner
JAMES WALTER P. CAPILI, PETITIONER, and private respondent on the ground that a subsequent marriage
vs. contracted by the husband during the lifetime of the legal wife is void from
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES AND SHIRLEY TISMO-CAPILI, RESPONDENTS. the beginning.

DECISION Thereafter, the petitioner accused filed his Manifestation and Motion (to
Dismiss) praying for the dismissal of the criminal case for bigamy filed
PERALTA, J.: against him on the ground that the second marriage between him and
private respondent had already been declared void by the RTC.
Before us is a Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules
of Court seeking the reversal of the Decision1 dated February 1, 2008 and In an Order4 dated July 7, 2006, the RTC of Pasig City granted petitioner’s
Resolution2 dated July 24, 2008 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR Manifestation and Motion to Dismiss, to wit:
No. 30444.
The motion is anchored on the allegation that this case should be
The factual antecedents are as follows: dismissed as a decision dated December 1, 2004 had already been
rendered by the Regional Trial Court of Antipolo City, Branch 72 in Civil
On June 28, 2004, petitioner was charged with the crime of bigamy before Case No. 01-6043 (entitled: "Karla Medina-Capili versus James Walter P.
the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Pasig City in an Information which reads: Capili and Shirley G. Tismo," a case for declaration of nullity of marriage)
nullifying the second marriage between James Walter P. Capili and Shirley
On or about December 8, 1999, in Pasig City, and within the jurisdiction of G. Tismo and said decision is already final.
this Honorable Court, the accused being previously united in lawful
marriage with Karla Y. Medina-Capili and without said marriage having In the opposition filed by the private prosecutor to the motion, it was
been legally dissolved or annulled, did then and there willfully, unlawfully stated, among others, that the issues raised in the civil case are not similar
and feloniously contract a second marriage with Shirley G. Tismo, to the or intimately related to the issue in this above-captioned case and that the
damage and prejudice of the latter.
resolution of the issues in said civil case would not determine whether or DISPOSITIVE PORTION IN THE SAID DECISION WHICH STATES THAT, AFTER
not the criminal action may proceed. PERUSAL OF THE EVIDENCE ON RECORD AND THE TESTIMONIES OF
WITNESSES X X X, THE MARRIAGE BETWEEN PETITIONER JAMES WALTER P.
WHEREFORE, after a judicious evaluation of the issue and arguments of the CAPILI AND PRIVATE RESPONDENT SHIRLEY G. TISMO, IS HEREBY NULL AND
parties, this Court is of the humble opinion that there is merit on the VOID.
Motion to dismiss filed by the accused as it appears that the second
marriage between James Walter P. Capili and Shirley G. Tismo had already THE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED AND ABUSED ITS DISCRETION
been nullified by the Regional Trial Court, Branch 72 of Antipolo City which AMOUNTING TO LACK OF JURISDICTION IN HOLDING THAT THE
has declared "the voidness, non-existent or incipient invalidity" of the said DECLARATION OF NULLITY OF MARRIAGE BETWEEN PETITIONER JAMES
second marriage. As such, this Court submits that there is no more bigamy WALTER P. CAPILI AND SHIRLEY G. TISMO BY THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT
to speak of. OF ANTIPOLO CITY, BRANCH 72 IN ITS DECISION IN CIVIL CASE NO. 01-6043,
IS ON THE GROUND THAT IT IS BIGAMOUS IN NATURE, DESPITE THE
SO ORDERED. ABSENCE OF ANY SUCH FINDINGS OR FACTS ON WHICH IT IS BASED IN
VIOLATION OF ARTICLE VIII, SECTION 14 OF THE 1987 CONSTITUTION, AND
Aggrieved, private respondent filed an appeal before the CA. IN CONCLUDING THAT THE SAID DECLARATION OF NULLITY OF MARRIAGE
IS NOT A GROUND FOR DISMISSAL OF THE BIGAMY CASE AGAINST THE
Thus, in a Decision5 dated February 1, 2008, the CA reversed and set aside PETITIONER, WHICH RULING IS NOT IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE FACTS OF
the RTC’s decision. The fallo reads: THE CASE OF THE SAID DECISION AND WHICH IS CONTRARY TO APPLICABLE
LAWS AND ESTABLISHED JURISPRUDENCE.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Order dated 07 July 2006 of the
Regional Trial Court of Pasig City, Branch 152 in Crim. Case No. 128370 is THE CASE OF TENEBRO V. COURT OF APPEALS SPEAKS FOR ITSELF. IT IS AN
REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The case is remanded to the trial court for EXCEPTION TO EXISTING JURISPRUDENCE INVOLVING DECLARATION OF
further proceedings. No costs. NULLITY OF MARRIAGE AND IS APPLICABLE ONLY TO THE SET OF FACTS IN
THE SAID CASE, AND THE GROUND FOR DECLARATION OF NULLITY OF
SO ORDERED.6 MARRIAGE IS PSYCHOLOGICAL INCAPACITY, HENCE, THERE IS NO LEGAL
BASIS FOR ABANDONING EXISTING JURISPRUDENCE AS WHERE IN THE
Petitioner then filed a Motion for Reconsideration against said decision, but INSTANT CASE THE GROUND FOR DECLARATION OF NULLITY OF MARRIAGE
the same was denied in a Resolution[7] dated July 24, 2008. IS VIOLATIVE OF ARTICLE 3 IN RELATION TO ARTICLE 4 OF THE FAMILY
CODE.
Accordingly, petitioner filed the present petition for review on certiorari
alleging that: THE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN NOT HOLDING THAT THE USE
BY RESPONDENT SHIRLEY G. TISMO OF THE SURNAME "CAPILI" IS ILLEGAL
THERE IS NO LEGAL BASIS FOR THE COURT OF APPEALS TO DISREGARD INASMUCH AS THE DECISION OF THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF
EXISTING JURISPRUDENCE PRONOUNCED BY THIS HONORABLE SUPREME ANTIPOLO CITY, BRANCH 72 IN CIVIL CASE NO. 01-6043 DECLARING NULL
COURT AND TO REVERSE THE ORDER DATED JULY 7, 2006 OF THE TRIAL AND VOID THE MARRIAGE BETWEEN JAMES WALTER P. CAPILI AND SHIRLEY
COURT (REGIONAL TRIAL COURT, PASIG CITY, BRANCH 152) ISSUED IN G. TISMO HAD LONG BECOME FINAL AND UNAPPEALABLE AS OF THE DATE
CRIMINAL CASE NO. 128370 GRANTING THE MOTION TO DISMISS THE OF THE SAID DECISION ON DECEMBER 1, 2004 AND DULY RECORDED IN
CASE OF BIGAMY AGAINST PETITIONER, INASMUCH AS THE ISSUANCE OF THE RECORDS OF ENTRIES IN THE CORRESPONDING BOOK IN THE OFFICE
THE SAID ORDER IS BASED ON THE FINDINGS AND/OR FACTS OF THE CASE OF THE CIVIL REGISTRAR OF PASIG CITY AND THE NATIONAL STATISTICS
IN THE DECISION OF THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF ANTIPOLO CITY, OFFICE.8
BRANCH 72, IN CIVIL CASE NO. 01-6043 AND THE CONCLUDING AND
In essence, the issue is whether or not the subsequent declaration of of the subsequent marriage without the previous one having been
nullity of the second marriage is a ground for dismissal of the criminal case judicially declared null and void, viz.:
for bigamy.
The subsequent judicial declaration of the nullity of the first marriage was
We rule in the negative. immaterial because prior to the declaration of nullity, the crime had
already been consummated. Moreover, petitioner’s assertion would only
Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code defines and penalizes the crime of delay the prosecution of bigamy cases considering that an accused could
bigamy as follows: simply file a petition to declare his previous marriage void and invoke the
pendency of that action as a prejudicial question in the criminal case. We
Art. 349. Bigamy. – The penalty of prision mayor shall be imposed upon any cannot allow that.
person who shall contract a second or subsequent marriage before the
former marriage has been legally dissolved, or before the absent spouse The outcome of the civil case for annulment of petitioner’s marriage to
has been declared presumptively dead by means of a judgment rendered [private complainant] had no bearing upon the determination of
in the proper proceedings. petitioner’s innocence or guilt in the criminal case for bigamy, because all
that is required for the charge of bigamy to prosper is that the first
The elements of the crime of bigamy, therefore, are: (1) the offender has marriage be subsisting at the time the second marriage is contracted.
been legally married; (2) the marriage has not been legally dissolved or, in
case his or her spouse is absent, the absent spouse could not yet be Thus, under the law, a marriage, even one which is void or voidable, shall
presumed dead according to the Civil Code; (3) that he contracts a second be deemed valid until declared otherwise in a judicial proceeding. In this
or subsequent marriage; and (4) that the second or subsequent marriage case, even if petitioner eventually obtained a declaration that his first
has all the essential requisites for validity.9 marriage was void ab initio, the point is, both the first and the second
marriage were subsisting before the first marriage was annulled.11
In the present case, it appears that all the elements of the crime of bigamy
were present when the Information was filed on June 28, 2004. In like manner, the Court recently upheld the ruling in the aforementioned
case and ruled that what makes a person criminally liable for bigamy is
It is undisputed that a second marriage between petitioner and private when he contracts a second or subsequent marriage during the subsistence
respondent was contracted on December 8, 1999 during the subsistence of of a valid first marriage. It further held that the parties to the marriage
a valid first marriage between petitioner and Karla Y. Medina-Capili should not be permitted to judge for themselves its nullity, for the same
contracted on September 3, 1999. Notably, the RTC of Antipolo City itself must be submitted to the judgment of competent courts and only when
declared the bigamous nature of the second marriage between petitioner the nullity of the marriage is so declared can it be held as void, and so long
and private respondent. Thus, the subsequent judicial declaration of the as there is no such declaration the presumption is that the marriage exists.
second marriage for being bigamous in nature does not bar the Therefore, he who contracts a second marriage before the judicial
prosecution of petitioner for the crime of bigamy. declaration of the first marriage assumes the risk of being prosecuted for
bigamy.12
Jurisprudence is replete with cases holding that the accused may still be
charged with the crime of bigamy, even if there is a subsequent declaration Finally, it is a settled rule that the criminal culpability attaches to the
of the nullity of the second marriage, so long as the first marriage was still offender upon the commission of the offense, and from that instant,
subsisting when the second marriage was celebrated. liability appends to him until extinguished as provided by law.13 It is clear
then that the crime of bigamy was committed by petitioner from the time
In Jarillo v. People,10 the Court affirmed the accused’s conviction for he contracted the second marriage with private respondent. Thus, the
bigamy ruling that the crime of bigamy is consummated on the celebration
finality of the judicial declaration of nullity of petitioner’s second marriage to as Susan Yee), with whom he had no children in their almost ten year
does not impede the filing of a criminal charge for bigamy against him. cohabitation starting way back in 1982.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is DENIED. The Decision In 1988, SPO4 Santiago S. Cariño became ill and bedridden due to diabetes
dated February 1, 2008 and Resolution dated July 24, 2008 of the Court of complicated by pulmonary tuberculosis. He passed away on November 23,
Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 30444 are hereby AFFIRMED. 1992, under the care of Susan Yee, who spent for his medical and burial
expenses. Both petitioner and respondent filed claims for monetary
SO ORDERED. 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
.R. No. 132529. February 2, 2001 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
SUSAN NICDAO CARIÑO, petitioner, as “death benefits” which she (petitioner) received from “MBAI, PCCUI,
vs. Commutation, NAPOLCOM, [and] Pag-ibig.” Despite service of summons,
SUSAN YEE CARIÑO, respondent. petitioner failed to file her answer, prompting the trial court to declare her
in default.
DECISION
Respondent Susan Yee admitted that her marriage to the deceased took
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.: place during the subsistence of, and without first obtaining a judicial
declaration of nullity of, the marriage between petitioner and the
The issue for resolution in the case at bar hinges on the validity of the two deceased. She, however, claimed that she had no knowledge of the
marriages contracted by the deceased SPO4 Santiago S. Cariño, whose previous marriage and that she became aware of it only at the funeral of
“death benefits” is now the subject of the controversy between the two the deceased, where she met petitioner who introduced herself as the wife
Susans whom he married. 1âwphi1.nêt of the deceased. To bolster her action for collection of sum of money,
respondent contended that the marriage of petitioner and the deceased is
Before this Court is a petition for review on certiorari seeking to set aside void ab initio because the same was solemnized without the required
the decision 1 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 51263, which marriage license. In support thereof, respondent presented: 1) the
affirmed in toto the decision 2 of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, marriage certificate of the deceased and the petitioner which bears no
Branch 87, in Civil Case No. Q-93-18632. marriage license number; 5 and 2) a certification dated March 9, 1994,
from the Local Civil Registrar of San Juan, Metro Manila, which reads –
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 This is to certify that this Office has no record of marriage license of the
Cariño (hereafter referred to as Susan Nicdao), with whom he had two spouses SANTIAGO CARINO (sic) and SUSAN NICDAO, who are married in
offsprings, namely, Sahlee and Sandee Cariño; and the second was on this municipality on June 20, 1969. Hence, we cannot issue as requested a
November 10, 1992, with respondent Susan Yee Cariño (hereafter referred true copy or transcription of Marriage License number from the records of
this archives.
law, for said projected marriage to be free from legal infirmity, is a final
This certification is issued upon the request of Mrs. Susan Yee Cariño for judgment declaring the previous marriage void. 9 However, for purposes
whatever legal purpose it may serve. 6 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
On August 28, 1995, the trial court ruled in favor of respondent, Susan Yee, determination of heirship, legitimacy or illegitimacy of a child, settlement
holding as follows: 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
WHEREFORE, the defendant is hereby ordered to pay the plaintiff the sum the parties thereto, and even in a suit not directly instituted to question
of P73,000.00, half of the amount which was paid to her in the form of the validity of said marriage, so long as it is essential to the determination
death benefits arising from the death of SPO4 Santiago S. Cariño, plus of the case. 10 In such instances, evidence must be adduced, testimonial or
attorney’s fees in the amount of P5,000.00, and costs of suit. documentary, to prove the existence of grounds rendering such a previous
marriage an absolute nullity. These need not be limited solely to an earlier
IT IS SO ORDERED. 7 final judgment of a court declaring such previous marriage void. 11

On appeal by petitioner to the Court of Appeals, the latter affirmed in toto It is clear therefore that the Court is clothed with sufficient authority to
the decision of the trial court. Hence, the instant petition, contending that: 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
I. “death benefits” of the deceased.

THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN AFFIRMING THE Under the Civil Code, which was the law in force when the marriage of
FINDINGS OF THE LOWER COURT THAT VDA. DE CONSUEGRA VS. GSIS IS petitioner Susan Nicdao and the deceased was solemnized in 1969, a valid
APPLICABLE TO THE CASE AT BAR. marriage license is a requisite of marriage, 12 and the absence thereof,
subject to certain exceptions, 13 renders the marriage void ab initio. 14
II.
In the case at bar, there is no question that the marriage of petitioner and
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN APPLYING EQUITY the deceased does not fall within the marriages exempt from the license
IN THE INSTANT CASE INSTEAD OF THE CLEAR AND UNEQUIVOCAL requirement. A marriage license, therefore, was indispensable to the
MANDATE OF THE FAMILY CODE. validity of their marriage. This notwithstanding, the records reveal that the
marriage contract of petitioner and the deceased bears no marriage license
III. 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.
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN NOT FINDING THE Court of Appeals, 15 the Court held that such a certification is adequate to
CASE OF VDA. DE CONSUEGRA VS GSIS TO HAVE BEEN MODIFIED, prove the non-issuance of a marriage license. Absent any circumstance of
AMENDED AND EVEN ABANDONED BY THE ENACTMENT OF THE FAMILY suspicion, as in the present case, the certification issued by the local civil
CODE. 8 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.
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 Such being the case, the presumed validity of the marriage of petitioner
a final judgment declaring such previous marriage void. Meaning, where and the deceased has been sufficiently overcome. It then became the
the absolute nullity of a previous marriage is sought to be invoked for burden of petitioner to prove that their marriage is valid and that they
purposes of contracting a second marriage, the sole basis acceptable in secured the required marriage license. Although she was declared in
default before the trial court, petitioner could have squarely met the issue “... [O]nly the properties acquired by both of the parties through their
and explained the absence of a marriage license in her pleadings before actual joint contribution of money, property, or industry shall be owned by
the Court of Appeals and this Court. But petitioner conveniently avoided them in common in proportion to their respective contributions ...”
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 In this property regime, the properties acquired by the parties through
stand. 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,
It is beyond cavil, therefore, that the marriage between petitioner Susan contributions in the form of care of the home, children and household, or
Nicdao and the deceased, having been solemnized without the necessary spiritual or moral inspiration, are excluded in this regime. 18
marriage license, and not being one of the marriages exempt from the
marriage license requirement, is undoubtedly void ab initio. Considering that the marriage of respondent Susan Yee and the deceased is
a bigamous marriage, having been solemnized during the subsistence of a
It does not follow from the foregoing disquisition, however, that since the previous marriage then presumed to be valid (between petitioner and the
marriage of petitioner and the deceased is declared void ab initio, the deceased), the application of Article 148 is therefore in order.
“death benefits” under scrutiny would now be awarded to respondent
Susan Yee. To reiterate, under Article 40 of the Family Code, for purposes of The disputed P146,000.00 from MBAI [AFP Mutual Benefit Association,
remarriage, there must first be a prior judicial declaration of the nullity of a Inc.], NAPOLCOM, Commutation, Pag-ibig, and PCCUI, are clearly
previous marriage, though void, before a party can enter into a second renumerations, incentives and benefits from governmental agencies
marriage, otherwise, the second marriage would also be void. 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
Accordingly, the declaration in the instant case of nullity of the previous money, property or industry in the acquisition of these monetary benefits.
marriage of the deceased and petitioner Susan Nicdao does not validate Hence, they are not owned in common by respondent and the deceased,
the second marriage of the deceased with respondent Susan Yee. The fact but belong to the deceased alone and respondent has no right whatsoever
remains that their marriage was solemnized without first obtaining a to claim the same. By intestate succession, the said “death benefits” of the
judicial decree declaring the marriage of petitioner Susan Nicdao and the deceased shall pass to his legal heirs. And, respondent, not being the legal
deceased void. Hence, the marriage of respondent Susan Yee and the wife of the deceased is not one of them.
deceased is, likewise, void ab initio.
As to the property regime of petitioner Susan Nicdao and the deceased,
One of the effects of the declaration of nullity of marriage is the separation Article 147 of the Family Code governs. This article applies to unions of
of the property of the spouses according to the applicable property regime. parties who are legally capacitated and not barred by any impediment to
16 Considering that the two marriages are void ab initio, the applicable contract marriage, but whose marriage is nonetheless void for other
property regime would not be absolute community or conjugal partnership reasons, like the absence of a marriage license. Article 147 of the Family
of property, but rather, be governed by the provisions of Articles 147 and Code reads -
148 of the Family Code on “Property Regime of Unions Without Marriage.”
Art. 147. When a man and a woman who are capacitated to marry each
Under Article 148 of the Family Code, which refers to the property regime other, live exclusively with each other as husband and wife without the
of bigamous marriages, adulterous relationships, relationships in a state of benefit of marriage or under a void marriage, their wages and salaries shall
concubine, relationships where both man and woman are married to other be owned by them in equal shares and the property acquired by both of
persons, multiple alliances of the same married man, 17 - 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 conjugal partner in a still subsisting marriage or as such putative heir she
lived together shall be presumed to have been obtained by their joint has an interest in the husband’s share in the property here in dispute....”
efforts, work or industry, and shall be owned by them in equal shares. For And with respect to the right of the second wife, this Court observed that
purposes of this Article, a party who did not participate in the acquisition although the second marriage can be presumed to be void ab initio as it
by the other party of any property shall be deemed to have contributed was celebrated while the first marriage was still subsisting, still there is
jointly in the acquisition thereof if the former’s efforts consisted in the care need for judicial declaration of such nullity. And inasmuch as the conjugal
and maintenance of the family and of the household. partnership formed by the second marriage was dissolved before judicial
declaration of its nullity, “[t]he only just and equitable solution in this case
xxx 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
When only one of the parties to a void marriage is in good faith, the share half as pertaining to the conjugal partnership of the first marriage.” 21
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 It should be stressed, however, that the aforecited decision is premised on
common children or their descendants, each vacant share shall belong to the rule which requires a prior and separate judicial declaration of nullity of
the respective surviving descendants. In the absence of descendants, such marriage. This is the reason why in the said case, the Court determined the
share shall belong to the innocent party. In all cases, the forfeiture shall rights of the parties in accordance with their existing property regime.
take place upon termination of the cohabitation.
In Domingo v. Court of Appeals, 22 however, the Court, construing Article
In contrast to Article 148, under the foregoing article, wages and salaries 40 of the Family Code, clarified that a prior and separate declaration of
earned by either party during the cohabitation shall be owned by the nullity of a marriage is an all important condition precedent only for
parties in equal shares and will be divided equally between them, even if purposes of remarriage. That is, if a party who is previously married wishes
only one party earned the wages and the other did not contribute thereto. to contract a second marriage, he or she has to obtain first a judicial decree
19 Conformably, even if the disputed “death benefits” were earned by the declaring the first marriage void, before he or she could contract said
deceased alone as a government employee, Article 147 creates a co- second marriage, otherwise the second marriage would be void. The same
ownership in respect thereto, entitling the petitioner to share one-half rule applies even if the first marriage is patently void because the parties
thereof. As there is no allegation of bad faith in the present case, both are not free to determine for themselves the validity or invalidity or their
parties of the first marriage are presumed to be in good faith. Thus, one- marriage. However, for purposes other than to remarry, like for filing a case
half of the subject “death benefits” under scrutiny shall go to the petitioner for collection of sum of money anchored on a marriage claimed to be valid,
as her share in the property regime, and the other half pertaining to the no prior and separate judicial declaration of nullity is necessary. All that a
deceased shall pass by, intestate succession, to his legal heirs, namely, his party has to do is to present evidence, testimonial or documentary, that
children with Susan Nicdao. would prove that the marriage from which his or her rights flow is in fact
In affirming the decision of the trial court, the Court of Appeals relied on valid. Thereupon, the court, if material to the determination of the issues
the case of Vda. de Consuegra v. Government Service Insurance System, 20 before it, will rule on the status of the marriage involved and proceed to
where the Court awarded one-half of the retirement benefits of the determine the rights of the parties in accordance with the applicable laws
deceased to the first wife and the other half, to the second wife, holding and jurisprudence. Thus, in Niñal v. Bayadog, 23 the Court explained:
that:
“... [S]ince the defendant’s first marriage has not been dissolved or [T]he court may pass upon the validity of marriage even in a suit not
declared void the conjugal partnership established by that marriage has directly instituted to question the same so long as it is essential to the
not ceased. Nor has the first wife lost or relinquished her status as putative determination of the case. This is without prejudice to any issue that may
heir of her husband under the new Civil Code, entitled to share in his arise in the case. When such need arises, a final judgment of declaration of
estate upon his death should she survive him. Consequently, whether as 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 Amelia was joined by her children, Jenneth Quiazon (Jenneth) and Maria
Article 40 of the Family Code connoted that such final judgment need not Jennifer Quiazon (Jennifer).
be obtained only for purpose of remarriage.
Eliseo died intestate on 12 December 1992.
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 On 12 September 1994, Maria Lourdes Elise Quiazon (Elise), represented by
Regional Trial Court of Quezon City ordering petitioner to pay respondent her mother, Ma. Lourdes Belen (Lourdes), filed a Petition for Letters of
the sum of P73,000.00 plus attorney’s fees in the amount of P5,000.00, is Administration before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Las Piñas City.3 In
REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The complaint in Civil Case No. Q-93-18632, is her Petition docketed as SP Proc. No. M-3957, Elise claims that she is the
hereby DISMISSED. No pronouncement as to costs.1âwphi1.nêt natural child of Eliseo having been conceived and born at the time when
her parents were both capacitated to marry each other. Insisting on the
SO ORDERED. legal capacity of Eliseo and Lourdes to marry, Elise impugned the validity of
Eliseo’s marriage to Amelia by claiming that it was bigamous for having
G.R. No. 189121 July 31, 2013 been contracted during the subsistence of the latter’s marriage with one
Filipito Sandico (Filipito). To prove her filiation to the decedent, Elise,
AMELIA GARCIA-QUIAZON, JENNETH QUIAZON and MARIA JENNIFER among others, attached to the Petition for Letters of Administration her
QUIAZON, Petitioners, Certificate of Live Birth4 signed by Eliseo as her father. In the same petition,
vs. it was alleged that Eliseo left real properties worth P2,040,000.00 and
MA. LOURDES BELEN, for and in behalf of MARIA LOURDES ELISE QUIAZON, personal properties worth P2,100,000.00. In order to preserve the estate of
Respondent. Eliseo and to prevent the dissipation of its value, Elise sought her
appointment as administratrix of her late father’s estate.
DECISION
Claiming that the venue of the petition was improperly laid, Amelia,
PEREZ, J.: together with her children, Jenneth and Jennifer, opposed the issuance of
the letters of administration by filing an Opposition/Motion to Dismiss.5
This is a Petition for Review on Certiorari filed pursuant to Rule 45 of the The petitioners asserted that as shown by his Death Certificate, 6 Eliseo
Revised Rules of Court, primarily assailing the 28 November 2008 Decision was a resident of Capas, Tarlac and not of Las Piñas City, at the time of his
rendered by the Ninth Division of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. death. Pursuant to Section 1, Rule 73 of the Revised Rules of Court,7 the
88589,1 the decretal portion of which states: petition for settlement of decedent’s estate should have been filed in
Capas, Tarlac and not in Las Piñas City. In addition to their claim of
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the appeal is hereby DENIED. The improper venue, the petitioners averred that there are no factual and legal
assailed Decision dated March 11, 2005, and the Order dated March 24, bases for Elise to be appointed administratix of Eliseo’s estate.
2006 of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 275, Las Piñas City are AFFIRMED
in toto.2 In a Decision8 dated 11 March 2005, the RTC directed the issuance of
Letters of Administration to Elise upon posting the necessary bond. The
The Facts lower court ruled that the venue of the petition was properly laid in Las
Piñas City, thereby discrediting the position taken by the petitioners that
This case started as a Petition for Letters of Administration of the Estate of Eliseo’s last residence was in Capas, Tarlac, as hearsay. The dispositive of
Eliseo Quiazon (Eliseo), filed by herein respondents who are Eliseo’s the RTC decision reads:
common-law wife and daughter. The petition was opposed by herein
petitioners Amelia Garcia-Quaizon (Amelia) to whom Eliseo was married.
Having attained legal age at this time and there being no showing of any Under Section 1, Rule 73 of the Rules of Court, the petition for letters of
disqualification or incompetence to serve as administrator, let letters of administration of the estate of a decedent should be filed in the RTC of the
administration over the estate of the decedent Eliseo Quiazon, therefore, province where the decedent resides at the time of his death:
be issued to petitioner, Ma. Lourdes Elise Quiazon, after the approval by
this Court of a bond in the amount of P100,000.00 to be posted by her.9 Sec. 1. Where estate of deceased persons settled. – If the decedent is an
inhabitant of the Philippines at the time of his death, whether a citizen or
On appeal, the decision of the trial court was affirmed in toto in the 28 an alien, his will shall be proved, or letters of administration granted, and
November 2008 Decision10 rendered by the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R.CV his estate settled, in the Court of First Instance now Regional Trial Court in
No. 88589. In validating the findings of the RTC, the Court of Appeals held the province in which he resides at the time of his death, and if he is an
that Elise was able to prove that Eliseo and Lourdes lived together as inhabitant of a foreign country, the Court of First Instance now Regional
husband and wife by establishing a common residence at No. 26 Trial Court of any province in which he had estate. The court first taking
Everlasting Road, Phase 5, Pilar Village, Las Piñas City, from 1975 up to the cognizance of the settlement of the estate of a decedent, shall exercise
time of Eliseo’s death in 1992. For purposes of fixing the venue of the jurisdiction to the exclusion of all other courts. The jurisdiction assumed by
settlement of Eliseo’s estate, the Court of Appeals upheld the conclusion a court, so far as it depends on the place of residence of the decedent, or
reached by the RTC that the decedent was a resident of Las Piñas City. The of the location of his estate, shall not be contested in a suit or proceeding,
petitioners’ Motion for Reconsideration was denied by the Court of except in an appeal from that court, in the original case, or when the want
Appeals in its Resolution11 dated 7 August 2009. of jurisdiction appears on the record. (Emphasis supplied).

The Issues The term "resides" connotes ex vi termini "actual residence" as


distinguished from "legal residence or domicile." This term "resides," like
The petitioners now urge Us to reverse the assailed Court of Appeals the terms "residing" and "residence," is elastic and should be interpreted in
Decision and Resolution on the following grounds: the light of the object or purpose of the statute or rule in which it is
employed. In the application of venue statutes and rules – Section 1, Rule
I. THE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN AFFIRMING THAT ELISEO 73 of the Revised Rules of Court is of such nature – residence rather than
QUIAZON WAS A RESIDENT OF LAS PIÑAS AND THEREFORE, THE PETITION domicile is the significant factor.13 Even where the statute uses word
FOR LETTERS OF ADMINISTRATION WAS PROPERLY FILED WITH THE RTC OF "domicile" still it is construed as meaning residence and not domicile in the
LAS PIÑAS; technical sense.14 Some cases make a distinction between the terms
"residence" and "domicile" but as generally used in statutes fixing venue,
II. THE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN DECLARING THAT AMELIA the terms are synonymous, and convey the same meaning as the term
GARCIA-QUIAZON WAS NOT LEGALLY MARRIED TO ELISEO QUIAZON DUE "inhabitant."15 In other words, "resides" should be viewed or understood
TO PREEXISTING MARRIAGE; AND in its popular sense, meaning, the personal, actual or physical habitation of
a person, actual residence or place of abode.16 It signifies physical
III. THE COURT OF APPEALS OVERLOOKED THE FACT THAT ELISE QUIAZON presence in a place and actual stay thereat.17 Venue for ordinary civil
HAS NOT SHOWN ANY INTEREST IN THE PETITION FOR LETTERS OF actions and that for special proceedings have one and the same
ADMINISTRATION.12 meaning.18 As thus defined, "residence," in the context of venue
provisions, means nothing more than a person’s actual residence or place
The Court’s Ruling of abode, provided he resides therein with continuity and consistency.19

We find the petition bereft of merit. Viewed in light of the foregoing principles, the Court of Appeals cannot be
faulted for affirming the ruling of the RTC that the venue for the settlement
of the estate of Eliseo was properly laid in Las Piñas City. It is evident from
the records that during his lifetime, Eliseo resided at No. 26 Everlasting why the action or defense for nullity is imprescriptible, unlike voidable
Road, Phase 5, Pilar Village, Las Piñas City. For this reason, the venue for marriages where the action prescribes. Only the parties to a voidable
the settlement of his estate may be laid in the said city. marriage can assail it but any proper interested party may attack a void
marriage.24
In opposing the issuance of letters of administration, the petitioners harp
on the entry in Eliseo’s Death Certificate that he is a resident of Capas, It was emphasized in Niñal that in a void marriage, no marriage has taken
Tarlac where they insist his estate should be settled. While the recitals in place and it cannot be the source of rights, such that any interested party
death certificates can be considered proofs of a decedent’s residence at may attack the marriage directly or collaterally without prescription, which
the time of his death, the contents thereof, however, is not binding on the may be filed even beyond the lifetime of the parties to the marriage.25
courts. Both the RTC and the Court of Appeals found that Eliseo had been
living with Lourdes, deporting themselves as husband and wife, from 1972 Relevant to the foregoing, there is no doubt that Elise, whose successional
up to the time of his death in 1995. This finding is consistent with the fact rights would be prejudiced by her father’s marriage to Amelia, may impugn
that in 1985, Eliseo filed an action for judicial partition of properties against the existence of such marriage even after the death of her father. The said
Amelia before the RTC of Quezon City, Branch 106, on the ground that their marriage may be questioned directly by filing an action attacking the
marriage is void for being bigamous.20 That Eliseo went to the extent of validity thereof, or collaterally by raising it as an issue in a proceeding for
taking his marital feud with Amelia before the courts of law renders the settlement of the estate of the deceased spouse, such as in the case at
untenable petitioners’ position that Eliseo spent the final days of his life in bar. Ineluctably, Elise, as a compulsory heir,26 has a cause of action for the
Tarlac with Amelia and her children. It disproves rather than supports declaration of the absolute nullity of the void marriage of Eliseo and
petitioners’ submission that the lower courts’ findings arose from an Amelia, and the death of either party to the said marriage does not
erroneous appreciation of the evidence on record. Factual findings of the extinguish such cause of action.
trial court, when affirmed by the appellate court, must be held to be
conclusive and binding upon this Court.21 Having established the right of Elise to impugn Eliseo’s marriage to Amelia,
we now proceed to determine whether or not the decedent’s marriage to
Likewise unmeritorious is petitioners’ contention that the Court of Appeals Amelia is void for being bigamous.
erred in declaring Amelia’s marriage to Eliseo as void ab initio. In a void
marriage, it was though no marriage has taken place, thus, it cannot be the Contrary to the position taken by the petitioners, the existence of a
source of rights. Any interested party may attack the marriage directly or previous marriage between Amelia and Filipito was sufficiently established
collaterally. A void marriage can be questioned even beyond the lifetime of by no less than the Certificate of Marriage issued by the Diocese of Tarlac
the parties to the marriage.22 It must be pointed out that at the time of and signed by the officiating priest of the Parish of San Nicolas de Tolentino
the celebration of the marriage of Eliseo and Amelia, the law in effect was in Capas, Tarlac. The said marriage certificate is a competent evidence of
the Civil Code, and not the Family Code, making the ruling in Niñal v. marriage and the certification from the National Archive that no
Bayadog23 applicable four-square to the case at hand. In Niñal, the Court, information relative to the said marriage exists does not diminish the
in no uncertain terms, allowed therein petitioners to file a petition for the probative value of the entries therein. We take judicial notice of the fact
declaration of nullity of their father’s marriage to therein respondent after that the first marriage was celebrated more than 50 years ago, thus, the
the death of their father, by contradistinguishing void from voidable possibility that a record of marriage can no longer be found in the National
marriages, to wit: Archive, given the interval of time, is not completely remote. Consequently,
in the absence of any showing that such marriage had been dissolved at
Consequently, void marriages can be questioned even after the death of the time Amelia and Eliseo’s marriage was solemnized, the inescapable
either party but voidable marriages can be assailed only during the lifetime conclusion is that the latter marriage is bigamous and, therefore, void ab
of the parties and not after death of either, in which case the parties and initio.27
their offspring will be left as if the marriage had been perfectly valid. That is
Neither are we inclined to lend credence to the petitioners’ contention that (d) The name of the person for whom letters of administration are prayed.
Elise has not shown any interest in the Petition for Letters of
Administration. But no defect in the petition shall render void the issuance of letters of
administration.
Section 6, Rule 78 of the Revised Rules of Court lays down the preferred
persons who are entitled to the issuance of letters of administration, thus: An "interested party," in estate proceedings, is one who would be
benefited in the estate, such as an heir, or one who has a claim against the
Sec. 6. When and to whom letters of administration granted. — If no estate, such as a creditor. Also, in estate proceedings, the phrase "next of
executor is named in the will, or the executor or executors are kin" refers to those whose relationship with the decedent Is such that they
incompetent, refuse the trust, or fail to give bond, or a person dies are entitled to share in the estate as distributees.28
intestate, administration shall be granted:
In the instant case, Elise, as a compulsory heir who stands to be benefited
(a) To the surviving husband or wife, as the case may be, or next of kin, or by the distribution of Eliseo’s estate, is deemed to be an interested party.
both, in the discretion of the court, or to such person as such surviving With the overwhelming evidence on record produced by Elise to prove her
husband or wife, or next of kin, requests to have appointed, if competent filiation to Eliseo, the petitioners’ pounding on her lack of interest in the
and willing to serve; administration of the decedent’s estate, is just a desperate attempt to sway
this Court to reverse the findings of the Court of Appeals. Certainly, the
(b) If such surviving husband or wife, as the case may be, or next of kin, or right of Elise to be appointed administratix of the estate of Eliseo is on
the person selected by them, be incompetent or unwilling, or if the good grounds. It is founded on her right as a compulsory heir, who, under
husband or widow, or next of kin, neglects for thirty (30) days after the the law, is entitled to her legitimate after the debts of the estate are
death of the person to apply for administration or to request that satisfied.29 Having a vested right in the distribution of Eliseo’s estate as
administration be granted to some other person, it may be granted to one one of his natural children, Elise can rightfully be considered as an
or more of the principal creditors, if competent and willing to serve; interested party within the purview of the law.

(c) If there is no such creditor competent and willing to serve, it may be WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is DENIED for lack of merit.
granted to such other person as the court may select. Accordingly, the Court of Appeals assailed 28 November 2008 Decision and
7 August 2009 Resolution, arc AFFIRMED in toto.
Upon the other hand, Section 2 of Rule 79 provides that a petition for
Letters of Administration must be filed by an interested person, thus: SO ORDERED.

Sec. 2. Contents of petition for letters of administration. — A petition for


letters of administration must be filed by an interested person and must
show, so far as known to the petitioner:

(a) The jurisdictional facts;

(b) The names, ages, and residences of the heirs, and the names and
residences of the creditors, of the decedent;

(c) The probable value and character of the property of the estate;
x--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
-------x
DECISION

BRION, J.:

We resolve the appeal filed by petitioner Jocelyn Suazo (Jocelyn) from the
July 14, 2004 Decision of the Court of Appeals (CA)[1] in CA-G.R. CV No.
62443, which reversed the January 29, 1999 judgment of the Regional Trial
Court (RTC), Branch 119, Pasay City in Civil Case No. 97-1282.[2] The
reversed RTC decision nullified Jocelyns marriage with respondent Angelito
Suazo (Angelito) on the ground of psychological incapacity.
THE FACTS
JOCELYN M. SUAZO,
Petitioner,
Jocelyn and Angelito were 16 years old when they first met in June 1985;
they were residents of Laguna at that time. After months of courtship,
Jocelyn went to Manila with Angelito and some friends. Having been gone
for three days, their parents sought Jocelyn and Angelito and after finding
- versus - them, brought them back to Bian, Laguna. Soon thereafter, Jocelyn and
Angelitos marriage was arranged and they were married on March 3, 1986
in a ceremony officiated by the Mayor of Bian.

Without any means to support themselves, Jocelyn and Angelito lived with
ANGELITO SUAZO and REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, Angelitos parents after their marriage. They had by this time stopped
Respondents. schooling. Jocelyn took odd jobs and worked for Angelitos relatives as
G.R. No. 164493 household help. Angelito, on the other hand, refused to work and was
most of the time drunk. Jocelyn urged Angelito to find work and violent
quarrels often resulted because of Jocelyns efforts.
Present:
CARPIO, J., Chairperson,
BRION, Jocelyn left Angelito sometime in July 1987. Angelito thereafter found
DEL CASTILLO, another woman with whom he has since lived. They now have children.
ABAD, and
PEREZ, JJ. Ten years after their separation, or on October 8, 1997, Jocelyn filed with
the RTC a petition for declaration of nullity of marriage under Article 36 of
Promulgated: the Family Code, as amended. She claimed that Angelito was
psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential obligations of
marriage. In addition to the above historical narrative of their relationship,
March 10, 2010
she alleged in her complaint:
Q. Since you cited violence, after celebration of marriage, will you describe
xxxx his behavioural (sic) pattern before you got married?

8. That from the time of their marriage up to their separation in July 1987, A. He show (sic) kindness, he always come (sic) to the house.
their relationship had been marred with bitter quarrels which caused
unbearable physical and emotional pains on the part of the plaintiff Q. So you cannot say his behavioral pattern composing of violent nature
because defendant inflicted physical injuries upon her every time they had before you got married (sic), is there any signs (sic) of violence?
a troublesome encounter;
A. None maam (sic), because we were not sweethearts.
9. That the main reason for their quarrel was always the refusal of the
defendant to work or his indolence and his excessive drinking which makes Q. Even to other people?
him psychologically incapacitated to perform his marital obligations making
life unbearably bitter and intolerable to the plaintiff causing their A. He also quarrel (sic).[3]
separation in fact in July 1987; Maryjane Serrano corroborated parts of Jocelyns testimony.

10. That such psychological incapacity of the defendant started from the When the psychologist took the witness stand, she declared:
time of their marriage and became very apparent as time went and proves
to be continuous, permanent and incurable; Q. What about the respondent, did you also make clinical interpretation of
his behavior?
xxxx
A. Apparently, the behavior and actuation of the respondent during the
Angelito did not answer the petition/complaint. Neither did he submit time of the marriage the respondent is suffering from anti-social
himself to a psychological examination with psychologist Nedy Tayag (who personality Disorder this is a serious and severe apparently incurable (sic).
was presumably hired by Jocelyn). This disorder is chronic and long-standing before the marriage.
The case proceeded to trial on the merits after the trial court found that no
collusion existed between the parties. Jocelyn, her aunt Maryjane Serrano, Q. And you based your interpretation on the report given by the
and the psychologist testified at the trial. petitioner?

In her testimony, Jocelyn essentially repeated the allegations in her A. Based on the psychological examination wherein there is no pattern of
petition, including the alleged incidents of physical beating she received lying when I examined her, the petitioner was found to be very responsive,
from Angelito. On cross-examination, she remained firm on these coherent, relevant to marital relationship with respondent.
declarations but significantly declared that Angelito had not treated her
violently before they were married. Q. And the last page of Exhibit E which is your report there is a statement
rather on the last page, last paragraph which state: It is the clinical opinion
Asst. Sol. Gen. Kim Briguera: of the undersigned that marriage between the two, had already hit bottom
Q. Can you describe your relationship with the respondent before you got rock (sic) even before the actual celebration of marriage. Respondent(s)
married? immature, irresponsible and callous emotionality practically harbors (sic)
the possibility of having blissful relationship. His general behavior fulfill(s)
A. He always go (sic) to our house to court me. the diagnostic criteria for a person suffering from Anti Social Personality
Disorder. Such disorder is serious and severe and it interferred (sic) in his
capacity to provide love, caring, concern and responsibility to his family. Q. Do the respondent know that he has that kind of psychological disorder
The disorder is chronic and long-standing in proportion and appear(s) (sic)?
incurable. The disorder was present at the time of the wedding and
became manifest thereafter due to stresses and pressure of married life. A. Usually a person suffering that psychological disorder will not admit that
He apparently grew up in a dysfunctional family. Could you explain what they are suffering that kind of disorder (sic).
does chronic mean?
Court:
A. Chronic is a clinical language which means incurable it has been there
long before he entered marriage apparently, it came during early Q. So because of this Anti-Social Disorder the petitioner suffers a lot (sic)?
developmental (sic) Basic trust was not develop (sic).
A. Yes, because the petitioner is a victim of hardships of marital relation to
Q. And this long standing proportion (sic). the respondent (sic).
A. That no amount of psychological behavioral help to cure such because
psychological disorder are not detrimental to men but to others Court:
particularly and this (sic) because the person who have this kind of disorder
do not know that they have this kind of disorder. Q. Was the Anti-Social Personality Disorder also shown to the parents (sic)?

Q. So in other words, permanent? A. Yes, according to the petitioner, respondent never give due respect more
A. Permanent and incurable. often than not he even shouted at them for no apparent reason (sic).

Q. You also said that this psychological disorder is present during the Court:
wedding or at the time of the wedding or became manifest thereafter?
Q. Did you say Anti-Social Disorder incurable (sic)?
A. Yes, maam.
A. Yes, sir.
xxxx
Court:
Court:
Q. Is there a physical violence (sic)?
Q. Is there a clinical findings (sic)?
A. Actually, I could see the petitioner is tortured mentally of the
A. That is the clinical findings. Personality Disorder labeled on Anti-Social respondent (sic).
Personality Disorder (sic).
Court:
Q. How was shown during the marriage (sic)?
Q. How was the petitioner tortured?
A. The physical abuses on the petitioner also correlated without any
employment exploitative and silent (sic) on the part of the respondent is
A. She was able to counter-act by the time she was separated by the
clearly Anti-Social Disorder.
respondent (sic).
Court: Q. And this affected psychological incapacity to perform marital obligation?

Q. Do you mean to tell us that Anti-Social disorder is incurable? A. Not only that up to this time from my clinical analysis of Anti-Social
A. Yes, sir. Personality Disorder, he is good for nothing person.[4]

Court: The psychologist also identified the Psychological Report she prepared. The
Report pertinently states:[5]
Q. Why did you know?
A. Anti-Social disorder is incurable again because the person itself, the Report on the psychological condition of JOCELYN M. SUAZO, a petitioner
respondent is not aware that this kind of personality affect the other party for Nullity of Marriage versus ANGELITO D. SUAZO
(sic).
GENERAL DATA
Court:
[This pertains to Jocelyns]
Q. This Anti-Social behavior is naturally affected the petitioner (sic)?
BRIEF MARITAL HISTORY
A. They do not have children because more often than not the respondent
is under the influence of alcohol, they do not have peaceful harmonious xxxx
relationship during the less than one year and one thing what is significant,
respondent allowed wife to work as housemaid instead of he who should Husband is Angelito D. Suazo, 28 years old reached 3rd year high school, a
provide and the petitioner never receive and enjoy her earning for the five part time tricycle driver, eldest among 4 siblings. Father is a machine
months that she work and it is also the petitioner who took sustainance of operator, described to be an alcoholic, womanizer and a heavy gambler.
the vices. (sic) While mother is a sales agent. It was a common knowledge within their
vicinity that she was also involved in an illicit relationship. Familial
Q. And because of that Anti-Social disorder he had not shown love to the relationship was described to be stormy, chaotic whose bickering and
petitioner? squabbles were part and parcel of their day to day living.

A. From the very start the respondent has no emotion to sustain the TEST RESULTS AND EVALUATION
marital relationship but what he need is to sustain his vices thru the
petitioner (sic). Projective data reveal an introvert person whose impulse life is adequately
suppressed so much so that it does not create inner tension and anxiety.
Court: She is fully equipped in terms of drives and motivation particularly in
uplifting not, only her socio-emotional image but was as her morale. She
Q. What are the vices? may be sensitive yet capable of containing the effect of such sensitiveness;
in order to remain in goodstead (sic) with her immediate environment.
A. Alcohol and gambling.
She is pictured as a hard-working man (sic) who looks forward for a better
Court: future in spite of difficulties she had gone through in the past. She is fully
aware of external realities of life that she set simple life goals which is (sic)
commensurate with her capabilities and limitations. However, she needs to maltreatment, due to physical injuries inflicted upon her and that she was
prioritize her interest in order to direct her energy toward specific goals. the one who worked as a housemaid of a relative of her husband to sustain
Her tolerance for frustration appears to be at par with her coping the latters niece (sic) and because they were living with her husbands
mechanism that she is able to discharge negative trends appropriately. family, she was obliged to do the household chores an indication that she is
a battered wife coupled with the fact that she served as a servant in his
REMARKS : (sic) husbands family.

[Already cited in full in the psychologists testimony quoted above][6] This situation that the petitioner had underwent may be attributed to the
fact that at the time of their marriage, she and her husband are still young
The Office of the Solicitor General representing the Republic of the and was forced only to said marriage by her relatives. The petitioner and
Philippines strongly opposed the petition for declaration of nullity of the the respondent had never developed the feeling of love and respect,
marriage. Through a Certification filed with the RTC, it argued that the instead, the respondent blamed the petitioners family for said early
psychologist failed to examine and test Angelito; thus, what she said about marriage and not to his own liking.
him was purely hearsay.

THE RTC RULING Applying the principles and the requisites of psychological incapacity
enunciated by this Court in Santos v. Court of Appeals,[7] the RTC
The RTC annulled the marriage under the following reasoning: concluded:

While there is no particular instance setforth (sic) in the law that a person The above findings of the psychologist [referring to the psychologist
may be considered as psychologically incapacitated, there as (sic) some testimony quoted above] would only tend to show that the respondent
admitted grounds that would render a person to be unfit to comply with was, indeed, suffering from psychological incapacity which is not only grave
his marital obligation, such as immaturity, i.e., lack of an effective sense of but also incurable.
rational judgment and responsibility, otherwise peculiar to infants (like
refusal of the husband to support the family or excessive dependence on Likewise, applying the principles set forth in the case of Republic vs. Court
parents or peer group approval) and habitual alcoholism, or the condition of Appeals and Molina, 268 SCRA 198, wherein the Supreme Court held
by which a person lives for the next drink and the next drinks (The Family that:
Code of the Phils, Alicia Sempio-Diy, p.39, 1988 ed.)
x x x x [At this point, the RTC cited the pertinent Molina ruling]
The evidence presented by the petitioner and the testimony of the
petitioner and Dr. Tayag, points (sic) to one thing that the petitioner failed The Court is satisfied that the evidence presented and the testimony of the
to establish a harmonious family life with the respondent. On the contrary, petitioner and Dr. Familiar (sic) [the psychologist who testified in this case
the respondent has not shown love and respect to the petitioner was Nedy Tayag, not a Dr. Familiar] attesting that there is psychological
manifested by the formers being irresponsible, immature, jobless, gambler, incapacity on the part of the respondent to comply with the essential
drunkard and worst of all a wife beater. The petitioner, unable to bear any marital obligations has been sufficiently and clearly proven and, therefore,
longer the misbehavior and attitude of the respondent, decided, after one petitioner is entitled to the relief prayed for.
year and four months of messy days, to leave the respondent.
A claim that the marriage is valid as there is no psychological incapacity of
In this regard, the petitioner was able to prove that right from the start of the respondent is a speculation and conjecture and without moral
her married life with the respondent, she already suffered from certainty. This will enhanced (sic) a greater tragedy as the battered
wife/petitioner will still be using the surname of the respondent, although behavior of the respondent was due simply to causes like immaturity or
they are now separated, and a grim and sad reminder of her husband who irresponsibility which are not equivalent to psychological incapacity, Pesca
made here a slave and a punching bag during the short span of her vs Pesca 356 SCRA 588, or the failure or refusal to work could have been
marriage with him. The law on annulment should be liberally construed in the result of rebelliousness on the part of one who felt that he had been
favor of an innocent suffering petitioner otherwise said law will be an forced into a loveless marriage. In any event, the respondent was not
instrument to protect persons with mental illness like the serious anti- under a permanent compulsion because he had later on shown his ability
social behavior of herein respondent.[8] to engage in productive work and more stable relationships with another.
The element of permanence or incurability that is one of the defining
THE CA RULING characteristic of psychological incapacity is not present.

The Republic appealed the RTC decision to the CA. The CA reversed the RTC There is no doubt that for the short period that they were under the same
decision, ruling that: roof, the married life of the petitioner with the respondent was an unhappy
one. But the marriage cannot for this reason be extinguished. As the
True, as stated in Marcos vs Marcos 343 SCRA 755, the guidelines set in Supreme Court intimates in Pesca, our strict handling of Article 36 will be a
Santos vs Court of Appeals and Republic vs Court of Appeals do not require reminder of the inviolability of the marriage institution in our country and
that a physician personally examine the person to be declared the foundation of the family that the law seeks to protect. The concept of
psychologically incapacitated. The Supreme Court adopted the totality of psychological incapacity is not to be a mantra to legalize what in reality are
evidence approach which allows the fact of psychological incapacity to be convenient excuses of parties to separate and divorce.
drawn from evidence that medically or clinically identify the root causes of
the illness. If the totality of the evidence is enough to sustain a finding of
psychological incapacity, then actual medical examination of the person THE PETITION
concerned need not be resorted to. Applied in Marcos, however, the Jocelyn now comes to us via the present petition to challenge and seek the
aggregate testimony of the aggrieved spouse, children, relatives and the reversal of the CA ruling based on the following arguments:
social worker were not found to be sufficient to prove psychological
incapacity, in the absence of any evaluation of the respondent himself, the 1. The Court of Appeals went beyond what the law says, as it totally
person whose mental and psychological capacity was in question. disregarded the legal basis of the RTC in declaring the marriage null and
void Tuason v. Tuason (256 SCRA 158; to be accurate, should be Tuason v.
In the case at bench, there is much scarcer evidence to hold that the Court of Appeals) holds that the finding of the Trial Court as to the
respondent was psychologically incapable of entering into the marriage existence or non-existence of petitioners psychological incapacity at the
state, that is, to assume the essential duties of marriage due to an time of the marriage is final and binding on us (the Supreme Court);
underlying psychological illness. Only the wife gave first-hand testimony on petitioner has not sufficiently shown that the trial courts factual findings
the behavior of the husband, and it is inconclusive. As observed by the and evaluation of the testimonies of private respondents witnesses vis--vis
Court in Marcos, the respondent may have failed to provide material petitioners defenses are clearly and manifestly erroneous;
support to the family and has resorted to physical abuse, but it is still
necessary to show that they were manifestations of a deeper psychological 2. Article 36 of the Family Code did not define psychological incapacity;
malaise that was clinically or medically identified. The theory of the this omission was intentional to give the courts a wider discretion to
psychologist that the respondent was suffering from an anti-social interpret the term without being shackled by statutory parameters. Article
personality syndrome at the time of the marriage was not the product of 36 though was taken from Canon 1095 of the New Code of Canon Law,
any adequate medical or clinical investigation. The evidence that she got which gives three conditions that would make a person unable to contract
from the petitioner, anecdotal at best, could equally show that the marriage from mental incapacity as follows:
1095. They are incapable of contracting marriage: any concrete definition or, at the very least, an illustrative example. We
must therefore apply the law based on how the concept of psychological
(1) who lack the sufficient use of reason; incapacity was shaped and developed in jurisprudence.

(2) who suffer from grave lack of discretion of judgment concerning Santos v. Court of Appeals[9] declared that psychological incapacity must
essential matrimonial rights and duties which are to be mutually given and be characterized by (a) gravity; (b) juridical antecedence; and (c)
accepted; incurability. It should refer to no less than a mental (not physical) incapacity
that causes a party to be truly incognitive of the basic marital covenants
(3) who are not capable of assuming the essential obligations of matrimony that concomitantly must be assumed and discharged by the parties to the
due to causes of a psychic nature. marriage. It must be confined to the most serious cases of personality
disorders clearly demonstrative of an utter insensitivity or inability to give
The decision of the RTC, Jocelyn claims, intelligently conforms to these meaning and significance to the marriage.[10]
criteria. The RTC, being clothed with discretionary functions, applied its
finding of psychological incapacity based on existing jurisprudence and the The Court laid down more definitive guidelines in the interpretation and
law itself which gave lower court magistrates enough latitude to define application of the law in Republic v. Court of Appeals[11] (Molina) as
what constitutes psychological incapacity. On the contrary, she further follows:
claims, the OSG relied on generalities without being specific on why it is (1) The burden of proof to show the nullity of the marriage belongs to the
opposed to the dissolution of a marriage that actually exists only in name. plaintiff. Any doubt should be resolved in favor of the existence and
continuation of the marriage and against its dissolution and nullity. This is
Simply stated, we face the issue of whether there is basis to nullify Jocelyns rooted in the fact that both our Constitution and our laws cherish the
marriage with Angelito under Article 36 of the Family Code. 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
THE COURTS RULING 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
We find the petition devoid of merit. The CA committed no reversible error be protected by the state.
of law in setting aside the RTC decision, as no basis exists to declare
Jocelyns marriage with Angelito a nullity under Article 36 of the Family The Family Code echoes this constitutional edict on marriage and the
Code and its related jurisprudence. family and emphasizes their permanence, inviolability and solidarity.

(2) The root cause of the psychological incapacity must be (a) medically or
The Law, Molina and Te
clinically identified, (b) alleged in the complaint, (c) sufficiently proven by
experts and (d) clearly explained in the decision. Article 36 of the Family
Article 36 of the Family Code provides that a marriage contracted by any
Code requires that the incapacity must be psychological - not physical,
party who, at the time of the celebration, was psychologically incapacitated
although its manifestations and/or symptoms may be physical. The
to comply with the essential marital obligations of marriage, shall likewise
evidence must convince the court that the parties or one of them was
be void even if such incapacity becomes manifest only after its
mentally or psychically ill to such an extent that the person could not have
solemnization.
known the obligations he was assuming, or knowing them, could not have
given valid assumption thereof. Although no example of such incapacity
A unique feature of this law is its intended open-ended application, as it need be given here so as not to limit the application of the provision under
merely introduced an abstract concept psychological incapacity that the principle of ejusdem generis, nevertheless such root cause must be
disables compliance with the contractual obligations of marriage without identified as a psychological illness and its incapacitating nature fully
explained. Expert evidence may be given by qualified psychiatrists and agreement or opposition, as the case may be, to the petition. The Solicitor
clinical psychologists. General, along with the prosecuting attorney, shall submit to the court such
certification within fifteen (15) days from the date the case is deemed
(3) The incapacity must be proven to be existing at the time of the submitted for resolution of the court. The Solicitor General shall discharge
celebration of the marriage. The evidence must show that the illness was the equivalent function of the defensor vinculi contemplated under Canon
existing when the parties exchanged their I do's. The manifestation of the 1095.[12]
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 Molina, subsequent jurisprudence holds, merely expounded on the basic
permanent or incurable. Such incurability may be absolute or even relative requirements of Santos.[13]
only in regard to the other spouse, not necessarily absolutely against
everyone of the same sex. Furthermore, such incapacity must be relevant A later case, Marcos v. Marcos,[14] further clarified that there is no
to the assumption of marriage obligations, not necessarily to those not requirement that the defendant/respondent spouse should be personally
related to marriage, like the exercise of a profession or employment in a examined by a physician or psychologist as a condition sine qua non for the
job. x x x declaration of nullity of marriage based on psychological incapacity.
Accordingly, it is no longer necessary to introduce expert opinion in a
(5) Such illness must be grave enough to bring about the disability of the petition under Article 36 of the Family Code if the totality of evidence
party to assume the essential obligations of marriage. Thus, mild shows that psychological incapacity exists and its gravity, juridical
characteriological peculiarities, mood changes, occasional emotional antecedence, and incurability can be duly established.[15]
outbursts cannot be accepted as root causes. The illness must be shown as
downright incapacity or inability, not a refusal, neglect or difficulty, much Pesca v. Pesca[16] clarifies that the Molina guidelines apply even to cases
less ill will. In other words, there is a natal or supervening disabling factor then already pending, under the reasoning that the courts interpretation or
in the person, an adverse integral element in the personality structure that construction establishes the contemporaneous legislative intent of the law;
effectively incapacitates the person from really accepting and thereby the latter as so interpreted and construed would thus constitute a part of
complying with the obligations essential to marriage. that law as of the date the statute is enacted. It is only when a prior ruling
of this Court finds itself later overruled, and a different view is adopted,
(6) The essential marital obligations must be those embraced by Articles 68 that the new doctrine may have to be applied prospectively in favor of
up to 71 of the Family Code as regards the husband and wife as well as parties who have relied on the old doctrine and have acted in good faith in
Articles 220, 221 and 225 of the same Code in regard to parents and their accordance therewith under the familiar rule of lex prospicit, non respicit.
children. Such non-complied marital obligation(s) must also be stated in On March 15, 2003, the Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void
the petition, proven by evidence and included in the text of the decision. Marriages and Annulment of Voidable Marriages (A.M. No. 08-11-10 SC,
Rules) promulgated by the Court took effect. Section 2(d) of the Rules
(7) Interpretations given by the National Appellate Matrimonial Tribunal of pertinently provides:
the Catholic Church in the Philippines, while not controlling or decisive,
should be given great respect by our courts x x x (d) What to allege. A petition under Article 36 of the Family Code shall
specifically allege the complete facts showing that either or both parties
(8) The trial court must order the prosecuting attorney or fiscal and the were psychologically incapacitated from complying with the essential
Solicitor General to appear as counsel for the state. No decision shall be marital obligations of marriage at the time of the celebration of marriage
handed down unless the Solicitor General issues a certification, which will even if such incapacity becomes manifest only after its celebration.
be quoted in the decision, briefly stating therein his reasons for his
annulment in Tuason v. Court of Appeals, ruled that the findings of the trial
The complete facts should allege the physical manifestations, if any, as are court are final and binding on the appellate courts.
indicative of psychological incapacity at the time of the celebration of the
marriage but expert opinion need not be alleged. Again, upholding the trial courts findings and declaring that its decision was
not a judgment on the pleadings, the Court, in Tsoi v. Court of Appeals,
explained that when private respondent testified under oath before the
Section 12(d) of the Rules requires a pre-trial brief containing all the lower court and was cross-examined by the adverse party, she thereby
evidence presented, including expert opinion, if any, briefly stating or presented evidence in the form of testimony. Importantly, the Court, aware
describing the nature and purpose of these pieces of evidence. Section of parallel decisions of Catholic marriage tribunals, ruled that the senseless
14(b) requires the court to consider during the pre-trial conference the and protracted refusal of one of the parties to fulfill the marital obligation
advisability of receiving expert testimony and such other matters as may of procreating children is equivalent to psychological incapacity.
aid in the prompt disposition of the petition. Under Section 17 of the Rules, With this as backdrop, Te launched an attack on Molina. It said that the
the grounds for the declaration of the absolute nullity or annulment of resiliency with which the concept should be applied and the case-to-case
marriage must be proved. basis by which the provision should be interpreted, as so intended by its
framers, had, somehow, been rendered ineffectual by the imposition of a
All cases involving the application of Article 36 of the Family Code that set of strict standards in Molina. Molina, to Te, has become a strait-jacket,
came to us were invariably decided based on the principles in the cited forcing all sizes to fit into and be bound by it; wittingly or unwittingly, the
cases. This was the state of law and jurisprudence on Article 36 when the Court, in conveniently applying Molina, has allowed diagnosed sociopaths,
Court decided Te v. Yu-Te[17] (Te) which revisited the Molina guidelines. schizophrenics, nymphomaniacs, narcissists and the like, to continuously
debase and pervert the sanctity of marriage.
Te begins with the observation that the Committee that drafted the Family
Code did not give any examples of psychological incapacity for fear that by Te then enunciated the principle that each case must be judged, not on the
so doing, it would limit the applicability of the provision under the principle basis of a priori assumptions, predilections or generalizations, but
of ejusdem generis; that the Committee desired that the courts should according to its own facts. Courts should interpret the provision on a case-
interpret the provision on a case-to-case basis, guided by experience, by to-case basis, guided by experience, the findings of experts and researchers
the findings of experts and researchers in psychological disciplines, and by in psychological disciplines, and by decisions of church tribunals.
decisions of church tribunals that, although not binding on the civil courts,
may be given persuasive effect since the provision itself was taken from the As a final note though, Te expressly stated that it is not suggesting the
Canon Law.[18] Te thus assumes it a basic premise that the law is so abandonment of Molina, but that, following Antonio v. Reyes, it merely
designed to allow some resiliency in its application.[19] looked at other perspectives that should also govern the disposition of
petitions for declaration of nullity under Article 36. The subsequent Ting v.
Te then sustained Santos doctrinal value, saying that its interpretation is Velez-Ting[20] follows Tes lead when it reiterated that Te did not abandon
consistent with that of the Canon Law. Molina; far from abandoning Molina, it simply suggested the relaxation of
its stringent requirements, cognizant of the explanation given by the
Committee on the Revision of the Rules on the rationale of the Rule on
Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages and Annulment of
Going back to its basic premise, Te said:
Voidable Marriages:[21]
Conscious of the laws intention that it is the courts, on a case-to-case basis,
To require the petitioner to allege in the petition the particular root cause
that should determine whether a party to a marriage is psychologically
of the psychological incapacity and to attach thereto the verified written
incapacitated, the Court, in sustaining the lower courts judgment of
report of an accredited psychologist or psychiatrist have proved to be too
expensive for the parties. They adversely affect access to justice of poor Under this evolutionary development, as shown by the current string of
litigants. It is also a fact that there are provinces where these experts are cases on Article 36 of the Family Code, what should not be lost on us is the
not available. Thus, the Committee deemed it necessary to relax this intention of the law to confine the application of Article 36 to the most
stringent requirement enunciated in the Molina Case. The need for the serious cases of personality disorders, clearly demonstrative of an utter
examination of a party or parties by a psychiatrist or clinical psychologist insensitivity or inability to give meaning and significance to the marriage;
and the presentation of psychiatric experts shall now be determined by the that the psychological illness that must have afflicted a party at the
court during the pre-trial conference. inception of the marriage should be a malady so grave and permanent as
to deprive one of awareness of the duties and responsibilities of the
matrimonial bond he or she is about to assume.[25] It is not enough that
Te, therefore, instead of substantially departing from Molina,[22] merely the respondent, alleged to be psychologically incapacitated, had difficulty
stands for a more flexible approach in considering petitions for declaration in complying with his marital obligations, or was unwilling to perform these
of nullity of marriages based on psychological incapacity. It is also obligations. Proof of a natal or supervening disabling factor an adverse
noteworthy for its evidentiary approach in these cases, which it expounded integral element in the respondents personality structure that effectively
on as follows: incapacitated him from complying with his essential marital obligations
must be shown.[26] Mere difficulty, refusal or neglect in the performance
By the very nature of Article 36, courts, despite having the primary task of marital obligations or ill will on the part of the spouse is different from
and burden of decision-making, must not discount but, instead, must incapacity rooted in some debilitating psychological condition or illness;
consider as decisive evidence the expert opinion on the psychological and irreconcilable differences, sexual infidelity or perversion, emotional
mental temperaments of the parties. immaturity and irresponsibility and the like, do not by themselves warrant
a finding of psychological incapacity under Article 36, as the same may only
xxxx be due to a persons refusal or unwillingness to assume the essential
obligations of marriage.[27]
Hernandez v. Court of Appeals emphasizes the importance of presenting
expert testimony to establish the precise cause of a partys psychological If all these sound familiar, they do, for they are but iterations of Santos
incapacity, and to show that it existed at the inception of the marriage. And juridical antecedence, gravity and incurability requisites. This is proof of
as Marcos v. Marcos asserts, there is no requirement that the person to be Santos continuing doctrinal validity.
declared psychologically incapacitated be personally examined by a
physician, if the totality of evidence presented is enough to sustain a The Present Case
finding of psychological incapacity. Verily, the evidence must show a link,
medical or the like, between the acts that manifest psychological incapacity As the CA did, we find Jocelyns evidence insufficient to establish Angelitos
and the psychological disorder itself. psychological incapacity to perform essential marital obligations. We so
conclude based on our own examination of the evidence on record, which
This is not to mention, but we mention nevertheless for emphasis, that the we were compelled to undertake because of the differences in the trial
presentation of expert proof presupposes a thorough and in-depth court and the appellate courts appreciation and evaluation of Jocelyns
assessment of the parties by the psychologist or expert, for a conclusive presented evidence.
diagnosis of a grave, severe and incurable presence of psychological
incapacity.[23] [Underscoring supplied] a. The Expert Opinion Evidence

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


Both the psychologists testimony and the psychological report did not
conclusively show the root cause, gravity and incurability of Angelitos Other than this credibility or reliability gap, both the psychologists report
alleged psychological condition. and testimony simply provided a general description of Angelitos
purported anti-social personality disorder, supported by the
We first note a critical factor in appreciating or evaluating the expert characterization of this disorder as chronic, grave and incurable. The
opinion evidence the psychologists testimony and the psychological psychologist was conspicuously silent, however, on the bases for her
evaluation report that Jocelyn presented. Based on her declarations in conclusion or the particulars that gave rise to the characterization she gave.
open court, the psychologist evaluated Angelitos psychological condition These particulars are simply not in the Report, and neither can they be
only in an indirect manner she derived all her conclusions from information found in her testimony.
coming from Jocelyn whose bias for her cause cannot of course be
doubted. Given the source of the information upon which the psychologist For instance, the psychologist testified that Angelitos personality disorder is
heavily relied upon, the court must evaluate the evidentiary worth of the chronic or incurable; Angelito has long been afflicted with the disorder
opinion with due care and with the application of the more rigid and prior to his marriage with Jocelyn or even during his early developmental
stringent set of standards outlined above, i.e., that there must be a stage, as basic trust was not developed. However, she did not support this
thorough and in-depth assessment of the parties by the psychologist or declaration with any factual basis. In her Report, she based her conclusion
expert, for a conclusive diagnosis of a psychological incapacity that is grave, on the presumption that Angelito apparently grew up in a dysfunctional
severe and incurable. family. Quite noticeable, though, is the psychologists own equivocation on
this point she was not firm in her conclusion for she herself may have
In saying this, we do not suggest that a personal examination of the party realized that it was simply conjectural. The veracity, too, of this finding is
alleged to be psychologically incapacitated is mandatory; jurisprudence highly suspect, for it was based entirely on Jocelyns assumed knowledge of
holds that this type of examination is not a mandatory requirement. While Angelitos family background and upbringing.
such examination is desirable, we recognize that it may not be practical in
all instances given the oftentimes estranged relations between the parties. Additionally, the psychologist merely generalized on the questions of why
For a determination though of a partys complete personality profile, and to what extent was Angelitos personality disorder grave and incurable,
information coming from persons intimately related to him (such as the and on the effects of the disorder on Angelitos awareness of and his
partys close relatives and friends) may be helpful. This is an approach in the capability to undertake the duties and responsibilities of marriage.
application of Article 36 that allows flexibility, at the same time that it
avoids, if not totally obliterate, the credibility gaps spawned by supposedly The psychologist therefore failed to provide the answers to the more
expert opinion based entirely on doubtful sources of information. important concerns or requisites of psychological incapacity, all of which
are critical to the success of Jocelyns cause.
From these perspectives, we conclude that the psych`ologist, using meager
information coming from a directly interested party, could not have b. Jocelyns Testimony
secured a complete personality profile and could not have conclusively
formed an objective opinion or diagnosis of Angelitos psychological The inadequacy and/or lack of probative value of the psychological report
condition. While the report or evaluation may be conclusive with respect to and the psychologists testimony impel us to proceed to the evaluation of
Jocelyns psychological condition, this is not true for Angelitos. The Jocelyns testimony, to find out whether she provided the court with
methodology employed simply cannot satisfy the required depth and sufficient facts to support a finding of Angelitos psychological incapacity.
comprehensiveness of examination required to evaluate a party alleged to
be suffering from a psychological disorder. In short, this is not the Unfortunately, we find Jocelyns testimony to be insufficient. Jocelyn merely
psychological report that the Court can rely on as basis for the conclusion testified on Angelitos habitual drunkenness, gambling, refusal to seek
that psychological incapacity exists.
employment and the physical beatings she received from him all of which
occurred after the marriage. Significantly, she declared in her testimony WHEREFORE, premises considered, we DENY the petition for lack of merit.
that Angelito showed no signs of violent behavior, assuming this to be We AFFIRM the appealed Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV
indicative of a personality disorder, during the courtship stage or at the No. 62443. Costs against the petitioner.
earliest stages of her relationship with him. She testified on the alleged
physical beatings after the marriage, not before or at the time of the
celebration of the marriage. She did not clarify when these beatings exactly
took place whether it was near or at the time of celebration of the -SO ORDERED.
marriage or months or years after. This is a clear evidentiary gap that
materially affects her cause, as the law and its related jurisprudence
require that the psychological incapacity must exist at the time of the
celebration of the marriage.

Habitual drunkenness, gambling and refusal to find a job, while indicative


of psychological incapacity, do not, by themselves, show psychological
incapacity. All these simply indicate difficulty, neglect or mere refusal to
perform marital obligations that, as the cited jurisprudence holds, cannot
be considered to be constitutive of psychological incapacity in the absence
of proof that these are manifestations of an incapacity rooted in some
debilitating psychological condition or illness.

The physical violence allegedly inflicted on Jocelyn deserves a different


treatment. While we may concede that physical violence on women
indicates abnormal behavioral or personality patterns, such violence,
standing alone, does not constitute psychological incapacity. Jurisprudence
holds that there must be evidence showing a link, medical or the like,
between the acts that manifest psychological incapacity and the
psychological disorder itself. The evidence of this nexus is irretrievably lost
in the present case under our finding that the opinion of the psychologist
cannot be relied upon. Even assuming, therefore, that Jocelyns account of
the physical beatings she received from Angelito were true, this evidence
does not satisfy the requirement of Article 36 and its related jurisprudence,
specifically the Santos requisites.

On the whole, the CA correctly reversed the RTC judgment, whose factual
bases we now find to be clearly and manifestly erroneous. Our ruling in
Tuason recognizing the finality of the factual findings of the trial court in
Article 36 cases (which is Jocelyns main anchor in her present appeal with
us) does not therefore apply in this case. We find that, on the contrary, the
CA correctly applied Article 36 and its related jurisprudence to the facts
and the evidence of the present case.
RESOLUTION
CORONA, J.:

This resolves the motion for reconsideration of the April 16, 2008
resolution of this Court denying petitioners petition for review on certiorari
(under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court). The petition sought to set aside the
January 26, 2004 decision[1] and September 24, 2004 resolution[2] of the
Court of
Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CV No. 60010.

Petitioner Lester Benjamin S. Halili filed a petition to declare his marriage


to respondent Chona M. Santos-Halili null and void on the basis of his
psychological incapacity to perform the essential obligations of marriage in
the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Pasig City, Branch 158.

He alleged that he wed respondent in civil rites thinking that it was a joke.
After the ceremonies, they never lived together as husband and wife, but
maintained the relationship. However, they started fighting constantly a
year later, at which point petitioner decided to stop seeing respondent and
started dating other women. Immediately thereafter, he received prank
calls telling him to stop dating other women as he was already a married
man. It was only upon making an inquiry that he found out that the
marriage was not fake.

Eventually, the RTC found petitioner to be suffering from a mixed


personality disorder, particularly dependent and self-defeating personality
LESTER BENJAMIN S. HALILI, G.R. No. 165424
disorder, as diagnosed by his expert witness, Dr. Natividad Dayan. The court
Petitioner,
a quo held that petitioners personality disorder was serious and incurable
Present:
and directly affected his capacity to comply with his essential marital
PUNO, C.J., Chairperson,
obligations to respondent. It thus declared the marriage null and void.[3]
CORONA,
- v e r s u s - VELASCO, JR.,*
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO and On appeal, the CA reversed and set aside the decision of the trial court on
PERALTA,** JJ. the ground that the totality of the evidence presented failed to establish
CHONA M. SANTOS-HALILI petitioners psychological incapacity. Petitioner moved for reconsideration.
and THE REPUBLIC OF THE It was denied.
PHILIPPINES,
Respondents. Promulgated: The case was elevated to this Court via a petition for review under Rule 45.
June 9, 2009 We affirmed the CAs decision and resolution upholding the validity of the
x--------------------------------------------------x marriage.
what it meant to really be married and after the marriage, there was no
Petitioner then filed this motion for reconsideration reiterating his consummation, there was no sexual intercourse, he never lived with the
argument that his marriage to respondent ought to be declared null and respondent. And after three months he refused to see or talk with the
void on the basis of his psychological incapacity. He stressed that the respondent and afterwards, I guess the relationship died a natural death,
evidence he presented, especially the testimony of his expert witness, was and he never thought it was a really serious matter at all.
more than enough to sustain the findings and conclusions of the trial court
that he was and still is psychologically incapable of complying with the xx xx xx
essential obligations of marriage.
Q. Likewise, you stated here in your evaluation that Lester Halili and
We grant the motion for reconsideration. respondent suffered from a grave lack of discretionary judgment. Can you
expound on this?
In the recent case of Te v. Yu-Te and the Republic of the Philippines,[4] this A. xx xx I dont think they truly appreciate the civil [rites which] they had
Court reiterated that courts should interpret the provision on psychological undergone. [It was] just a spur of the moment decision that they should
incapacity (as a ground for the declaration of nullity of a marriage) on a get married xx xx I dont think they truly considered themselves married.
case-to-case basis guided by experience, the findings of experts and
researchers in psychological disciplines and by decisions of church xx xx xx
tribunals.
Q. Now [from] what particular portion of their marriage were you able to
Accordingly, we emphasized that, by the very nature of Article 36, courts, conclude xx xx that petitioner and respondent are suffering from
despite having the primary task and burden of decision-making, must psychological incapacity?
consider as essential the expert opinion on the psychological and mental
disposition of the parties.[5] A. xx xx they never lived together[.] [T]hey never had a residence, they
In this case, the testimony[6] of petitioners expert witness revealed that never consummated the marriage. During the very short relationship they
petitioner was suffering from dependent personality disorder. Thus: had, there were frequent quarrels and so there might be a problem also of
lack of respect [for] each other and afterwards there was abandonment.
Q. Dr. Dayan, going back to the examinations and interviews which you
conducted, can you briefly tell this court your findings [and] conclusions?
In Te, this Court defined dependent personality disorder[7] as
A. Well, the petitioner is suffering from a personality disorder. It is a mixed [a] personality disorder characterized by a pattern of dependent and
personality disorder from self-defeating personality disorder to submissive behavior. Such individuals usually lack self-esteem and
[dependent] personality disorder and this is brought about by [a] frequently belittle their capabilities; they fear criticism and are easily hurt
dysfunctional family that petitioner had. He also suffered from partner by others comments. At times they actually bring about dominance by
relational problem during his marriage with Chona. There were lots of others through a quest for overprotection.
fights and it was not truly a marriage, sir.
Dependent personality disorder usually begins in early adulthood.
Q. Now, what made you conclude that Lester is suffering from Individuals who have this disorder may be unable to make everyday
psychological incapacity to handle the essential obligations of marriage? decisions without advice or reassurance from others, may allow others to
make most of their important decisions (such as where to live), tend to
A. Sir, for the reason that his motivation for marriage was very agree with people even when they believe they are wrong, have difficulty
questionable. It was a very impulsive decision. I dont think he understood 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 It has been sufficiently established that petitioner had a psychological
fears of being abandoned. condition that was grave and incurable and had a deeply rooted cause. This
Court, in the same Te case, recognized that individuals with diagnosable
In her psychological report,[8] Dr. Dayan stated that petitioners dependent personality disorders usually have long-term concerns, and thus therapy
personality disorder was evident in the fact that petitioner was very much may be long-term.[17] Particularly, personality disorders are long-standing,
attached to his parents and depended on them for decisions.[9] Petitioners inflexible ways of behaving that are not so much severe mental disorders as
mother even had to be the one to tell him to seek legal help when he felt dysfunctional styles of living. These disorders affect all areas of functioning
confused on what action to take upon learning that his marriage to and, beginning in childhood or adolescence, create problems for those who
respondent was for real.[10] display them and for others.[18]

Dr. Dayan further observed that, as expected of persons suffering from a From the foregoing, it has been shown that petitioner is indeed suffering
dependent personality disorder, petitioner typically acted in a self- from psychological incapacity that effectively renders him unable to
denigrating manner and displayed a self-defeating attitude. This submissive perform the essential obligations of marriage. Accordingly, the marriage
attitude encouraged other people to take advantage of him.[11] This could between petitioner and respondent is declared null and void.
be seen in the way petitioner allowed himself to be dominated, first, by his
father who treated his family like robots[12] and, later, by respondent who WHEREFORE, the motion for reconsideration is hereby GRANTED. The April
was as domineering as his father.[13] When petitioner could no longer take 16, 2008 resolution of this Court and the January 26, 2004 decision and
respondents domineering ways, he preferred to hide from her rather than September 24, 2004 resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No.
confront her and tell her outright that he wanted to end their marriage. 60010 are SET ASIDE.
[14]
The decision of the Regional Trial Court, Pasig City, Branch 158 dated April
Dr. Dayan traced petitioners personality disorder to his dysfunctional family 17, 1998 is hereby REINSTATED.
life, to wit:[15]
SO ORDERED.
Q. And what might be the root cause of such psychological incapacity?

A. Sir, I mentioned awhile ago that Lesters family is dysfunctional. The


father was very abusive, very domineering. The mother has been very
unhappy and the children never had affirmation. They might [have been] x
x x given financial support because the father was [a] very affluent person
but it was never an intact family. x x x The wife and the children were
practically robots. And so, I would say Lester grew up, not having self-
confidence, very immature and somehow not truly understand[ing] what
[it] meant to be a husband, what [it] meant to have a real family life.

Ultimately, Dr. Dayan concluded that petitioners personality disorder was


grave and incurable and already existent at the time of the celebration of
his marriage to respondent.[16]
Present:

CORONA, C.J., Chairperson,


- versus -

LEONARDO-DE CASTRO,

BERSAMIN,

DEL CASTILLO, and

PEREZ,⃰ JJ.

MA. ELENA FERNANDEZ,

Promulgated:
Respondent.

September 19, 2011


x--------------------------------------------------------
VALERIO E. KALAW, -----------x

G.R. No. 166357 DECISION


Petitioner,
DEL CASTILLO, J.:

A finding of psychological incapacity must be supported by well-established


facts. It is the plaintiffs burden to convince the court of the existence of
these facts.
Before the Court is a Petition for Review[1] of the Court of Appeals (CA) Meanwhile, Tyrone and Jocelyns family returned to the Philippines and
May 27, 2004 Decision[2] and December 15, 2004 Resolution[3] in CA-G.R. resumed physical custody of the two younger children, Miggy and Jay.
CV No. 64240, which reversed the trial courts declaration of nullity of the According to Malyn, from that time on, the children refused to go to her
herein parties marriage. The fallo of the assailed Decision reads: house on weekends because of alleged weekend plans with their father.
[11]
WHEREFOREthe appeal is GRANTED, and the assailed Decision is SET ASIDE
and VACATED while the petition for declaration of nullity of marriage is Complaint for declaration of nullity of marriage
hereby DISMISSED.
On July 6, 1994, nine years since the de facto separation from his wife,
SO ORDERED.[4] Tyrone filed a petition for declaration of nullity of marriage based on Article
36 of the Family Code.[12] He alleged that Malyn was psychologically
incapacitated to perform and comply with the essential marital obligations
Factual Antecedents at the time of the celebration of their marriage. He further claimed that
her psychological incapacity was manifested by her immaturity and
irresponsibility towards Tyrone and their children during their co-
habitation, as shown by Malyns following acts:
Petitioner Valerio E. Kalaw (Tyrone) and respondent Ma. Elena Fernandez
(Malyn) met in 1973. They maintained a relationship and eventually
married in Hong Kong on November 4, 1976. They had four children, 1. she left the children without proper care and attention as she played
Valerio (Rio), Maria Eva (Ria), Ramon Miguel (Miggy or Mickey), and Jaime mahjong all day and all night;
Teodoro (Jay).
Shortly after the birth of their youngest son, Tyrone had an extramarital 2. she left the house to party with male friends and returned in the early
affair with Jocelyn Quejano (Jocelyn), who gave birth to a son in March hours of the following day; and
1983.[5]
3. she committed adultery on June 9, 1985, which act Tyrone discovered in
In May 1985, Malyn left the conjugal home (the house of her Kalaw in- flagrante delicto.[13]
laws) and her four children with Tyrone.[6] Meanwhile, Tyrone started
living with Jocelyn, who bore him three more children.[7]
During trial,[14] Tyrone narrated the circumstances of Malyns alleged
In 1990, Tyrone went to the United States (US) with Jocelyn and their infidelity. According to him, on June 9, 1985, he and his brother-in-law,
children. He left his four children from his marriage with Malyn in a rented Ronald Fernandez (Malyns brother), proceeded to Hyatt Hotel and learned
house in Valle Verde with only a househelp and a driver.[8] The househelp that Malyn was occupying a room with a certain Benjie Guevarra (Benjie).
would just call Malyn to take care of the children whenever any of them When he proceeded to the said room, he saw Benjie and Malyn inside.[15]
got sick. Also, in accordance with their custody agreement, the children At rebuttal, Tyrone elaborated that Benjie was wearing only a towel around
stayed with Malyn on weekends.[9] his waist, while Malyn was lying in bed in her underwear. After an exchange
of words, he agreed not to charge Malyn with adultery when the latter
In 1994, the two elder children, Rio and Ria, asked for Malyns permission to agreed to relinquish all her marital and parental rights.[16] They put their
go to Japan for a one-week vacation. Malyn acceded only to learn later that agreement in writing before Atty. Jose Palarca.
Tyrone brought the children to the US.[10] After just one year, Ria returned
to the Philippines and chose to live with Malyn.
Tyrone presented a psychologist, Dr. Cristina Gates (Dr. Gates), and a
Catholic canon law expert, Fr. Gerard Healy, S.J. (Fr. Healy), to testify on Malyns version
Malyns psychological incapacity.
Malyn denied being psychologically incapacitated.[27] While she admitted
Dr. Gates explained on the stand that the factual allegations regarding playing mahjong, she denied playing as frequently as Tyrone alleged. She
Malyns behavior her sexual infidelity, habitual mahjong playing, and her maintained that she did so only two to three times a week and always
frequent nights-out with friends may reflect a narcissistic personality between 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. only.[28] And in those instances, she always had
disorder (NPD).[17] NPD is present when a person is obsessed to meet her Tyrones permission and would often bring the children and their respective
wants and needs in utter disregard of her significant others.[18] Malyns yayas with her.[29] She maintained that she did not neglect her duties as
NPD is manifest in her utter neglect of her duties as a mother.[19] mother and wife.

Dr. Gates reported that Malyns personality disorder may have been evident Malyn admitted leaving the conjugal home in May 1985. She, however,
even prior to her marriage because it is rooted in her family background explained that she did so only to escape her physically abusive husband.
and upbringing, which the psychologist gathered to be materially deprived [30] On the day she left, Tyrone, who preferred to keep Malyn a housewife,
and without a proper maternal role model.[20] was upset that Malyn was preparing to go to work. He called up the
security guards and instructed them not to let Malyn out of the house.
Dr. Gates based her diagnosis on the facts revealed by her interviews with Tyrone then placed cigarette ashes on Malyns head and proceeded to lock
Tyrone, Trinidad Kalaw (Tyrones sister-in-law), and the son Miggy. She also the bedroom doors. Fearing another beating, Malyn rushed out of their
read the transcript of Tyrones court testimony.[21] bedroom and into her mother-in-laws room. She blurted that Tyrone would
beat her up again so her mother-in-law gave her P300 to leave the house.
Fr. Healy corroborated Dr. Gates assessment. He concluded that Malyn was [31] She never returned to their conjugal home.
psychologically incapacitated to perform her marital duties.[22] He
explained that her psychological incapacity is rooted in her role as the Malyn explained that she applied for work, against Tyrones wishes,
breadwinner of her family. This role allegedly inflated Malyns ego to the because she wanted to be self-sufficient. Her resolve came from her
point that her needs became priority, while her kids and husbands needs discovery that Tyrone had a son by Jocelyn and had secretly gone to the US
became secondary. Malyn is so self-absorbed that she is incapable of with Jocelyn.[32]
prioritizing her familys needs.
Malyn denied the allegation of adultery. She maintained that Benjie only
Fr. Healy clarified that playing mahjong and spending time with friends are booked a room at the Hyatt Hotel for her because she was so drunk after
not disorders by themselves. They only constitute psychological incapacity partying with friends. She admitted finding her brother Ronald and Tyrone
whenever inordinate amounts of time are spent on these activities to the at the door of the Hyatt Hotel room, but maintained being fully clothed at
detriment of ones familial duties.[23] Fr. Healy characterized Malyns that time.[33] Malyn insisted that she wrote the letter relinquishing all her
psychological incapacity as grave and incurable.[24] spousal and parental rights under duress.[34]

He based his opinion on his interview with Tyrone, the trial transcripts, as After the Hyatt Hotel incident, Malyn only saw her children by
well as the report of Dr. Natividad Dayan (Dr. Dayan), Malyns expert surreptitiously visiting them in school. She later obtained partial custody of
witness.[25] He clarified that he did not verify the truthfulness of the the children as an incident to the legal separation action filed by Tyrone
factual allegations regarding Malyns habits because he believed it is the against her (which action was subsequently dismissed for lack of interest).
courts duty to do so.[26] Instead, he formed his opinion on the assumption
that the factual allegations are indeed true.
As an affirmative defense, Malyn maintained that it was Tyrone who was
suffering from psychological incapacity, as manifested by his drug
dependence, habitual drinking, womanizing, and physical violence.[35] Dr. Dayan likewise wrote in her psychological evaluation report that Malyn
Malyn presented Dr. Dayan a clinical psychologist, as her expert witness. exhibited significant, but not severe, dependency, narcissism, and
compulsiveness.[39]
Dr. Dayan interviewed Tyrone, Malyn, Miggy/Mickey, Jay, and Ria for her
psychological evaluation of the spouses. The factual narrations culled from On the stand, the psychologist elaborated that while Malyn had
these interviews reveal that Tyrone found Malyn a lousy mother because of relationship problems with Tyrone, she appeared to have a good
her mahjong habit,[36] while Malyn was fed up with Tyrones sexual relationship with her kids.[40] As for Tyrone, he has commitment issues
infidelity, drug habit, and physical abuse.[37] Dr. Dayan determined that which prevent him from committing himself to his duties as a husband. He
both Tyrone and Malyn were behaviorally immature. They encountered is unable to remain faithful to Malyn and is psychologically incapacitated to
problems because of their personality differences, which ultimately led to perform this duty.[41]
the demise of their marriage. Her diagnostic impressions are summarized
below: Childrens version

The marriage of Tyrone and Malyn was a mistake from the very beginning. The children all stated that both their parents took care of them, provided
Both of them were not truly ready for marriage even after two years of for their needs, and loved them. Rio testified that they would accompany
living together and having a child. When Malyn first met Tyrone who their mother to White Plains on days that she played mahjong with her
showered her with gifts, flowers, and affection she resisted his overtures. friends. None of them reported being neglected or feeling abandoned.
She made it clear that she could take him or leave him. But the minute she
started to care, she became a different person clingy and immature, The two elder kids remembered the fights between their parents but it was
doubting his love, constantly demanding reassurance that she was the only Ria who admitted actually witnessing physical abuse inflicted on her
most important person in his life. She became relationship-dependent. It mother.[42] The two elder kids also recalled that, after the separation, their
appears that her style then was when she begins to care for a man, she mother would visit them only in school.[43]
puts all her energy into him and loses focus on herself. This imbalance
between thinking and feeling was overwhelming to Tyrone who admitted
The children recalled living in Valle Verde with only the househelp and
that the thought of commitment scared him. Tyrone admitted that when
driver during the time that their dad was abroad.[44] While they did not
he was in his younger years, he was often out seeking other women. His
live with their mother while they were housed in Valle Verde, the kids were
interest in them was not necessarily for sex, just for fun dancing, drinking,
in agreement that their mother took care of them on weekends and would
or simply flirting.
see to their needs. They had a common recollection that the househelp
would call their mother to come and take care of them in Valle Verde
Both of them seem behaviorally immature. For some time, Malyn adapted whenever any of them was sick.[45]
to her husband who was a moody man with short temper and unresolved Other witnesses
issues with parents and siblings. He was a distancer, concerned more about
his work and friends tha[n] he was about spending time with his family.
Dr. Cornelio Banaag, Tyrones attending psychiatrist at the Manila
Because of Malyns and Tyrones backgrounds (both came from families with
Sanitarium, testified that, for the duration of Tyrones confinement, the
high conflicts) they experienced turmoil and chaos in their marriage. The
couple appeared happy and the wife was commendable for the support
conflicts they had struggled to avoid suddenly galloped out of control Their
she gave to her spouse.[46] He likewise testified that Tyrone tested
individual personalities broke through, precipitating the demise of their
negative for drugs and was not a drug dependent.[47]
marriage.[38]
Malyns brother, Ronald Fernandez, confirmed Tyrones allegation that they the essential marital obligations under the Family Code. The courts
found Malyn with Benjie in the Hyatt hotel room. Contrary to Tyrones Decision is encapsulated in this paragraph:
version, he testified that neither he nor Tyrone entered the room, but
stayed in the hallway. He likewise did not recall seeing Benjie or Malyn half- From the evidence, it appears that parties are both suffering from
naked.[48] psychological incapacity to perform their essential marital obligations
under Article 36 of the Family Code. The parties entered into a marriage
Tyrone then presented Mario Calma (Mario), who was allegedly part of without as much as understanding what it entails. They failed to commit
Malyns group of friends. He stated on the stand that they would go on themselves to its essential obligations: the conjugal act, the community of
nights-out as a group and Malyn would meet with a male musician-friend life and love, the rendering of mutual help, the procreation and education
afterwards.[49] of their children to become responsible individuals. Parties psychological
incapacity is grave, and serious such that both are incapable of carrying out
Social worker the ordinary duties required in marriage. The incapacity has been clinically
established and was found to be pervasive, grave and incurable.[54]
The trial court ordered the court social worker, Jocelyn V. Arre (Arre), to The trial court then declared the parties marriage void ab initio pursuant to
conduct a social case study on the parties as well as the minor children. Article 36 of the Family Code.[55]
Arre interviewed the parties Tyrone and Malyn; the minor children
Miggy/Mickey and Jay; Tyrones live-in partner, Jocelyn;[50] and Tyrone and Ruling of the Court of Appeals[56]
Malyns only daughter, Ria. While both parents are financially stable and
have positive relationships with their children, she recommended that the Malyn appealed the trial courts Decision to the CA. The CA reversed the
custody of the minor children be awarded to Malyn. Based on the trial courts ruling because it is not supported by the facts on record. Both
interviews of family members themselves, Malyn was shown to be more parties allegations and incriminations against each other do not support a
available to the children and to exercise better supervision and care. The finding of psychological incapacity. The parties faults tend only to picture
social worker commended the fact that even after Malyn left the conjugal their immaturity and irresponsibility in performing their marital and
home in 1985, she made efforts to visit her children clandestinely in their familial obligations. At most, there may be sufficient grounds for a legal
respective schools. And while she was only granted weekend custody of separation.[57] Moreover, the psychological report submitted by
the children, it appeared that she made efforts to personally attend to their petitioners expert witness, Dr. Gates, does not explain how the diagnosis of
needs and to devote time with them.[51] NPD came to be drawn from the sources. It failed to satisfy the legal and
On the contrary, Tyrone, who had custody of the children since the couples jurisprudential requirements for the declaration of nullity of marriage.[58]
de facto separation, simply left the children for several years with only a
maid and a driver to care for them while he lived with his second family Tyrone filed a motion for reconsideration[59] but the same was denied on
abroad.[52] The social worker found that Tyrone tended to prioritize his December 15, 2004.[60]
second family to the detriment of his children with Malyn. Given this
history during the formative years of the children, the social worker did not Petitioners arguments
find Tyrone a reliable parent to whom custody of adolescents may be
awarded. Petitioner Tyrone argues that the CA erred in disregarding the factual
findings of the trial court, which is the court that is in the best position to
Ruling of the Regional Trial Court[53] appreciate the evidence. He opines that he has presented preponderant
evidence to prove that respondent is psychologically incapacitated to
After summarizing the evidence presented by both parties, the trial court perform her essential marital obligations, to wit:
concluded that both parties are psychologically incapacitated to perform
a) the expert witnesses, Dr. Gates and Fr. Healy, proved on the stand that
respondents egocentric attitude, immaturity, self-obsession and self- Issue
centeredness were manifestations of respondents NPD;[61]
Whether petitioner has sufficiently proved that respondent suffers from
b) these expert witnesses proved that respondents NPD is grave and psychological incapacity
incurable and prevents her from performing her essential martial
obligations;[62] and Our Ruling

c) that respondents NPD existed at the time of the celebration of the The petition has no merit. The CA committed no reversible error in setting
marriage because it is rooted in her upbringing, family background, and aside the trial courts Decision for lack of legal and factual basis.
socialite lifestyle prior to her marriage.[63]
A petition for declaration of nullity of marriage is governed by Article 36 of
Petitioner stresses that even respondent insisted that their marriage is void the Family Code which provides:
because of psychological incapacity, albeit on petitioners part.[64] ART. 36. A marriage contracted by any party who, at the time of the
celebration, was psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential
Respondents arguments marital obligations of marriage, shall likewise be void even if such
incapacity becomes manifest only after its solemnization.
Respondent maintains that Tyrone failed to discharge his burden of proving
her alleged psychological incapacity.[65] She argues that the testimonies of
her children and the findings of the court social worker to the effect that Psychological incapacity is the downright incapacity or inability to take
she was a good, loving, and attentive mother are sufficient to rebut Tyrones cognizance of and to assume the basic marital obligations.[72] The burden
allegation that she was negligent and irresponsible.[66] of proving psychological incapacity is on the plaintiff.[73] The plaintiff must
prove that the incapacitated party, based on his or her actions or behavior,
She assails Dr. Gatess report as one-sided and lacking in depth. Dr. Gates suffers a serious psychological disorder that completely disables him or her
did not interview her, their common children, or even Jocelyn. Moreover, from understanding and discharging the essential obligations of the marital
her report failed to state that Malyns alleged psychological incapacity was state. The psychological problem must be grave, must have existed at the
grave and incurable.[67] Fr. Healys testimony, on the other hand, was time of marriage, and must be incurable.[74]
based only on Tyrones version of the facts.[68]
In the case at bar, petitioner failed to prove that his wife (respondent)
Malyn reiterates the appellate courts ruling that the trial court Decision is suffers from psychological incapacity. He presented the testimonies of two
intrinsically defective for failing to support its conclusion of psychological supposed expert witnesses who concluded that respondent is
incapacity with factual findings. psychologically incapacitated, but the conclusions of these witnesses were
premised on the alleged acts or behavior of respondent which had not
Almost four years after filing her memorandum, respondent apparently been sufficiently proven. Petitioners experts heavily relied on petitioners
had a change of heart and filed a Manifestation with Motion for Leave to allegations of respondents constant mahjong sessions, visits to the beauty
Withdraw Comment and Memorandum.[69] She manifested that she was parlor, going out with friends, adultery, and neglect of their children.
no longer disputing the possibility that their marriage may really be void on Petitioners experts opined that respondents alleged habits, when
the basis of Tyrones psychological incapacity. She then asked the Court to performed constantly to the detriment of quality and quantity of time
dispose of the case with justice.[70] Her manifestation and motion were devoted to her duties as mother and wife, constitute a psychological
noted by the Court in its January 20, 2010 Resolution.[71] incapacity in the form of NPD.
appreciating and performing her marital and parental duties. Not once did
But petitioners allegations, which served as the bases or underlying the children state that they were neglected by their mother. On the
premises of the conclusions of his experts, were not actually proven. In contrary, they narrated that she took care of them, was around when they
fact, respondent presented contrary evidence refuting these allegations of were sick, and cooked the food they like. It appears that respondent made
the petitioner. real efforts to see and take care of her children despite her estrangement
from their father. There was no testimony whatsoever that shows
For instance, petitioner alleged that respondent constantly played mahjong abandonment and neglect of familial duties. While petitioner cites the fact
and neglected their children as a result. Respondent admittedly played that his two sons, Rio and Miggy, both failed the second elementary level
mahjong, but it was not proven that she engaged in mahjong so frequently despite having tutors, there is nothing to link their academic shortcomings
that she neglected her duties as a mother and a wife. Respondent refuted to Malyns actions.
petitioners allegations that she played four to five times a week. She
maintained it was only two to three times a week and always with the After poring over the records of the case, the Court finds no factual basis
permission of her husband and without abandoning her children at home. for the conclusion of psychological incapacity. There is no error in the CAs
The children corroborated this, saying that they were with their mother reversal of the trial courts ruling that there was psychological incapacity.
when she played mahjong in their relatives home. Petitioner did not The trial courts Decision merely summarized the allegations, testimonies,
present any proof, other than his own testimony, that the mahjong sessions and evidence of the respective parties, but it did not actually assess the
were so frequent that respondent neglected her family. While he intimated veracity of these allegations, the credibility of the witnesses, and the
that two of his sons repeated the second grade, he was not able to link this weight of the evidence. The trial court did not make factual findings which
episode to respondents mahjong-playing. The least that could have been can serve as bases for its legal conclusion of psychological incapacity.
done was to prove the frequency of respondents mahjong-playing during
the years when these two children were in second grade. This was not What transpired between the parties is acrimony and, perhaps, infidelity,
done. Thus, while there is no dispute that respondent played mahjong, its which may have constrained them from dedicating the best of themselves
alleged debilitating frequency and adverse effect on the children were not to each other and to their children. There may be grounds for legal
proven. separation, but certainly not psychological incapacity that voids a marriage.
Also unproven was petitioners claim about respondents alleged constant
visits to the beauty parlor, going out with friends, and obsessive need for WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is DENIED. The Court of
attention from other men. No proof whatsoever was presented to prove Appeals May 27, 2004 Decision and its December 15, 2004 Resolution in
her visits to beauty salons or her frequent partying with friends. Petitioner CA-G.R. CV No. 64240 are AFFIRMED.
presented Mario (an alleged companion of respondent during these nights-
out) in order to prove that respondent had affairs with other men, but
Mario only testified that respondent appeared to be dating other men. SO ORDERED.
Even assuming arguendo that petitioner was able to prove that respondent
had an extramarital affair with another man, that one instance of sexual
infidelity cannot, by itself, be equated with obsessive need for attention
from other men. Sexual infidelity per se is a ground for legal separation, but
it does not necessarily constitute psychological incapacity.
Given the insufficiency of evidence that respondent actually engaged in the
behaviors described as constitutive of NPD, there is no basis for concluding
that she was indeed psychologically incapacitated. Indeed, the totality of
the evidence points to the opposite conclusion. A fair assessment of the
facts would show that respondent was not totally remiss and incapable of
G.R. No. 171557 February 12, 2014

REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, Petitioner,


vs.
RODOLFO O. DE GRACIA, Respondent.

DECISION

PERLAS-BERNABE, J.:

Assailed in this petition for review on certiorari1 are the Decision2 dated
June 2, 2005 and Resolution3 dated February 3, 2006 of the Court of
Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CV No. 69103 which affirmed the Decision4 dated
October 17, 2000 of the Regional Trial Court of Zamboanga del Norte,
Branch 11 (RTC) in Civil Case No. S-665 declaring the marriage of
respondent Rodolfo O. De Gracia (Rodolfo) and Natividad N. Rosalem
(Natividad) void on the ground of psychological incapacity pursuant to
Article 36 of the Family Code of the Philippines5 (Family Code).

The Facts

Rodolfo and Natividad were married on February 15, 1969 at the Parish of
St. Vincent Ferrer in Salug, Zamboanga del Norte.6 They lived in Dapaon,
Sindangan, Zamboanga del Norte and have two (2) children, namely, Ma.
Reynilda R. De Gracia (Ma. Reynilda) and Ma. Rizza R. De Gracia (Ma.
Rizza), who were born on August 20, 1969 and January 15, 1972,
respectively.7

On December 28, 1998, Rodolfo filed a verified complaint for declaration of


nullity of marriage (complaint) before the RTC, docketed as Civil Case No. S-
665, alleging that Natividad was psychologically incapacitated to comply
with her essential marital obligations. In compliance with the Order8 dated
January 5, 1999 of the RTC, the public prosecutor conducted an
investigation to determine if collusion exists between Rodolfo and
Natividad and found that there was none.9 Trial on the merits then ensued.
opposition24 to the complaint, contending that the acts committed by
In support of his complaint, Rodolfo testified, among others, that he first Natividad did not demonstrate psychological incapacity as contemplated by
met Natividad when they were students at the Barangay High School of law, but are mere grounds for legal separation under the Family Code.25
Sindangan,10 and he was forced to marry her barely three (3) months into
their courtship in light of her accidental pregnancy.11 At the time of their The RTC Ruling
marriage, he was 21 years old, while Natividad was 18 years of age. He had
no stable job and merely worked in the gambling cockpits as "kristo" and In a Decision26 dated October 17, 2000, the RTC declared the marriage
"bangkero sa hantak." When he decided to join and train with the army,12 between Rodolfo and Natividad void on the ground of psychological
Natividad left their conjugal home and sold their house without his incapacity. It relied on the findings and testimony of Dr. Zalsos, holding that
consent.13 Thereafter, Natividad moved to Dipolog City where she lived Natividad’s emotional immaturity exhibited a behavioral pattern which in
with a certain Engineer Terez (Terez), and bore him a child named Julie Ann psychiatry constitutes a form of personality disorder that existed at the
Terez.14 After cohabiting with Terez, Natividad contracted a second time of the parties’ marriage but manifested only thereafter. It likewise
marriage on January 11, 1991 with another man named Antonio Mondarez concurred with Dr. Zalsos’s observation that Natividad’s condition is
and has lived since then with the latter in Cagayan de Oro City.15 From the incurable since it is deeply rooted within the make-up of her personality.
time Natividad abandoned them in 1972, Rodolfo was left to take care of Accordingly, it concluded that Natividad could not have known, much more
Ma. Reynilda and Ma. Rizza16 and he exerted earnest efforts to save their comprehend the marital obligations she was assuming, or, knowing them,
marriage which, however, proved futile because of Natividad’s could not have given a valid assumption thereof.27
psychological incapacity that appeared to be incurable.17
The Republic appealed to the CA, averring that there was no showing that
For her part, Natividad failed to file her answer, as well as appear during Natividad’s personality traits constituted psychological incapacity as
trial, despite service of summons.18 Nonetheless, she informed the court envisaged under Article 36 of the Family Code, and that the testimony of
that she submitted herself for psychiatric examination to Dr. Cheryl T. the expert witness was not conclusive upon the court.28
Zalsos (Dr. Zalsos) in response to Rodolfo’s claims.19 Rodolfo also
underwent the same examination.20 The CA Ruling

In her two-page psychiatric evaluation report,21 Dr. Zalsos stated that both In a Decision29 dated June 2, 2005, the CA affirmed the ruling of the RTC,
Rodolfo and Natividad were psychologically incapacitated to comply with finding that while Natividad’s emotional immaturity, irresponsibility and
the essential marital obligations, finding that both parties suffered from promiscuity by themselves do not necessarily equate to psychological
"utter emotional immaturity [which] is unusual and unacceptable behavior incapacity, "their degree or severity, as duly testified to by Dr. Zalsos, has
considered [as] deviant from persons who abide by established norms of sufficiently established a case of psychological disorder so profound as to
conduct."22 As for Natividad, Dr. Zalsos also observed that she lacked the render [Natividad] incapacitated to perform her essential marital
willful cooperation of being a wife and a mother to her two daughters. obligations."30
Similarly, Rodolfo failed to perform his obligations as a husband, adding too
that he sired a son with another woman. Further, Dr. Zalsos noted that the The Republic moved for reconsideration which was, however, denied in a
mental condition of both parties already existed at the time of the Resolution31 dated February 3, 2006, hence, the instant petition.
celebration of marriage, although it only manifested after. Based on the
foregoing, Dr. Zalsos concluded that the "couple’s union was bereft of the The Issue Before the Court
mind, will and heart for the obligations of marriage."23
The primordial issue in this case is whether or not the CA erred in
On February 10, 1999, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), sustaining the RTC’s finding of psychological incapacity.
representing petitioner Republic of the Philippines (Republic), filed an
The Ruling of the Court incapacity." In Pesca, the Court upheld the appellate court’s finding that
the petitioner therein had not established that her husband "showed signs
The petition is meritorious. of mental incapacity as would cause him to be truly incognitive of the basic
marital covenant, as so provided for in Article 68 of the Family Code; that
"Psychological incapacity," as a ground to nullify a marriage under Article the incapacity is grave, has preceded the marriage and is incurable; that his
3632 of the Family Code, should refer to no less than a mental – not merely incapacity to meet his marital responsibility is because of a psychological,
physical – incapacity that causes a party to be truly incognitive of the basic not physical illness; that the root cause of the incapacity has been
marital covenants that concomitantly must be assumed and discharged by identified medically or clinically, and has been proven by an expert; and
the parties to the marriage which, as so expressed in Article 6833 of the that the incapacity is permanent and incurable in nature."44
Family Code, among others,34 include their mutual obligations to live
together, observe love, respect and fidelity and render help and support. The Court maintains a similar view in this case.1âwphi1 Based on the
There is hardly any doubt that the intendment of the law has been to evidence presented, there exists insufficient factual or legal basis to
confine the meaning of "psychological incapacity" to the most serious cases conclude that Natividad’s emotional immaturity, irresponsibility, or even
of personality disorders clearly demonstrative of an utter insensitivity or sexual promiscuity, can be equated with psychological incapacity.
inability to give meaning and significance to the marriage.35 In Santos v.
CA36 (Santos), the Court first declared that psychological incapacity must The RTC, as affirmed by the CA, heavily relied on the psychiatric evaluation
be characterized by: (a) gravity (i.e., it must be grave and serious such that report of Dr. Zalsos which does not, however, explain in reasonable detail
the party would be incapable of carrying out the ordinary duties required how Natividad’s condition could be characterized as grave, deeply-rooted,
in a marriage); (b) juridical antecedence (i.e., it must be rooted in the and incurable within the parameters of psychological incapacity
history of the party antedating the marriage, although the overt jurisprudence. Aside from failing to disclose the types of psychological tests
manifestations may emerge only after the marriage); and (c) incurability which she administered on Natividad, Dr. Zalsos failed to identify in her
(i.e., it must be incurable, or even if it were otherwise, the cure would be report the root cause of Natividad's condition and to show that it existed at
beyond the means of the party involved).37 The Court laid down more the time of the parties' marriage. Neither was the gravity or seriousness of
definitive guidelines in the interpretation and application of Article 36 of Natividad's behavior in relation to her failure to perform the essential
the Family Code in Republic of the Phils. v. CA,38 whose salient points are marital obligations sufficiently described in Dr. Zalsos's report. Further, the
footnoted hereunder.39 These guidelines incorporate the basic finding contained therein on the incurability of Natividad's condition
requirements that the Court established in Santos.40 remains unsupported by any factual or scientific basis and, hence, appears
to be drawn out as a bare conclusion and even self-serving. In the same
Keeping with these principles, the Court, in Dedel v. CA,41 held that therein vein, Dr. Zalsos's testimony during trial, which is essentially a reiteration of
respondent’s emotional immaturity and irresponsibility could not be her report, also fails to convince the Court of her conclusion that Natividad
equated with psychological incapacity as it was not shown that these acts was psychologically incapacitated. Verily, although expert opm10ns
are manifestations of a disordered personality which make her completely furnished by psychologists regarding the psychological temperament of
unable to discharge the essential marital obligations of the marital state, parties are usually given considerable weight by the courts, the existence
not merely due to her youth, immaturity or sexual promiscuity.42 In the of psychological incapacity must still be proven by independent
same light, the Court, in the case of Pesca v. Pesca43 (Pesca), ruled against evidence.45 After poring over the records, the Court, however, does not
a declaration of nullity, as petitioner therein "utterly failed, both in her find any such evidence sufficient enough to uphold the court a quo's nullity
allegations in the complaint and in her evidence, to make out a case of declaration. To the Court's mind, Natividad's refusal to live with Rodolfo
psychological incapacity on the part of respondent, let alone at the time of and to assume her duties as wife and mother as well as her emotional
solemnization of the contract, so as to warrant a declaration of nullity of immaturity, irresponsibility and infidelity do not rise to the level of
the marriage," significantly noting that the "[e]motional immaturity and psychological incapacity that would justify the nullification of the parties'
irresponsibility, invoked by her, cannot be equated with psychological marriage. Indeed, to be declared clinically or medically incurable is one
thing; to refuse or be reluctant to perform one's duties is another. To hark
back to what has been earlier discussed, psychological incapacity refers
only to the most serious cases of personality disorders clearly
demonstrative of an utter insensitivity or inability to give meaning and G.R. No. 192718 February 18, 2015
significance to the marriage.46 In the final analysis, the Court does not
perceive a disorder of this nature to exist in the present case. Thus, for ROBERT F. MALLILIN, Petitioner,
these reasons, coupled too with the recognition that marriage is an vs.
inviolable social institution and the foundation of the family,47 the instant LUZ G. JAMESOLAMIN and the REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES,
petition is hereby granted. Respondents.

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The Decision dated June 2, 2005 DECISION
and Resolution dated February 3, 2006 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R.
CV No. 69103 are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Accordingly, the complaint for MENDOZA, J.:
declaration of nullity of marriage filed under Article 36 of the Family Code
is DISMISSED. This is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Revised Rules
of Court assailing the November 20, 2009 Decision1 of the Court of
SO ORDERED. Appeals (CA) and its June 1, 2010 Resolution,2 in CA-G.R. CV No. 78303-
MIN, which reversed and set aside the September 20, 2002 Decision of the
Regional Trial Court, Branch 37, Cagayan de Oro City(RTC-Br.37), declaring
the marriage between petitioner Robert F. Mallilin (Robert) and private
respondent Luz G. Jamesolamin (Luz) null and void.

The Facts:

Robert and Luz were married on September 6, 1972. They begot three (3)
children.

On March 16, 1994, Robert filed a complaint for declaration of nullity of


marriage before the RTC, Branch 23, Cagayan de Oro City (RTC-Br. 23). On
March 7, 1996, RTC-Br. 23 denied the petition. Robert appealed this
judgment before the CA where it was docketed as CA-G.R. CV No. 54261.
On January 29, 1999, the CA reversed the RTC-Br. 23 decision "due to lack
of participation of the State as required under Article 48 of the Family
Code."3 The case was remanded to the RTC for further proceedings and its
records were thereafter transferred from RTC-Br. 23 to RTC-Br. 37, as the
latter was designated as Family Court pursuant to the Family Code Act of
1997.

In the complaint, Robert alleged that at the time of the celebration of their
marriage, Luz was suffering from psychological and mental incapacity and
unpreparedness to enter into such marital life and to comply with its
essential obligations and responsibilities. Such incapacity became even Prior to that, on September 20, 2002,the RTC had rendered a decision
more apparent during their marriage when Luz exhibited clear declaring the marriage null and void on the ground of psychological
manifestation of immaturity, irresponsibility, deficiency of independent incapacity on the part of Luz as she failed to comply with the essential
rational judgment, and inability to cope with the heavy and oftentimes marital obligations.
demanding obligation of a parent.
The State, represented by the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG),
Luz filed her Answer with Counterclaim contesting the complaint. She interposed an appeal with the CA. The OSG argued that Robert failed to
averred that it was Robert who manifested psychological incapacity in their make a case for declaration of nullity of his marriage with Luz. It pointed
marriage. Despite due notice, however, she did not appear during the trial. out that the real cause of the marital discord was the sexual infidelity of
Assistant City Prosecutor Isabelo Sabanal appeared for the State. When Luz. Such ground, the OSG contended, should not result in the nullification
Robert testified, he disclosed that Luz was already living in California, USA, of the marriage under the law, but merely constituted a ground for legal
and had married an American. He also revealed that when they were still separation.
engaged, Luz continued seeing and dating another boyfriend, a certain Lt.
Liwag. He also claimed that from the outset, Luz had been remiss in her The CA, in its November 20, 2009 Decision,4 granted the petition and
duties both as a wife and as a mother as shown by the following reversed the RTC decision. The decision, including the decretal portion,
circumstances: (1) it was he who did the cleaning of the room because Luz partially reads:
did not know how to keep order; (2) it was her mother who prepared their
meal while her sister was the one who washed their clothes because she [W]e find that the trial court committed a reversible error. Closer scrutiny
did not want her polished nails destroyed; (3) it was also her sister who of the records reveals, as correctly noted by the Solicitor General, sexual
took care of their children while she spent her time sleeping and looking at infidelity are not rooted on some debilitating psychological condition but a
the mirror; (4) when she resumed her schooling, she dated different men; mere refusal or unwillingness to assume the essential obligations of
(5) he received anonymous letters reporting her loitering with male marriage. x x x.
students; (6) when he was not home, she would receive male visitors; (7) a
certain Romy Padua slept in their house when he was away; and (6) she xxxx
would contract loans without his knowledge.
In the case at bar, apart from his self-serving declarations, the evidence
In addition, Robert presented the testimony of Myrna Delos Reyes adduced by Robert fell short of establishing the fact that at the time of
Villanueva (Villanueva), Guidance Psychologist II of Northern Mindanao their marriage, Luz was suffering from a psychological defect which in fact
Medical Center. deprived [her] of the ability to assume the essential duties of marriage and
its concomitant responsibilities.
On May 8, 2000, while the case was pending before the trial court, Robert
filed a petition for marriage annulment with the Metropolitan Tribunal of xxxx
First Instance for the Archdiocese of Manila (Metropolitan Tribunal).
We commiserate with the plaintiff-appellee’s undeserved marital plight.
On October 10, 2002, the Metropolitan Tribunal handed down a decision Yet, Our paramount duty as a court compels Us to apply the law at all costs,
declaring their marriage invalid ab initio on the ground of grave lack of due however harsh it may be on whomsoever is called upon to bear its
discretion on the part of both parties as contemplated by the second unbiased brunt.
paragraph of Canon1095. This decision was affirmed by the National
Appellate Matrimonial Tribunal (NAMT). FOR THESE REASONS, the appealed Decision dated September 20, 2002 in
Civil Case No. 94-178 is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. No costs.
SO ORDERED.5
Robert further argues that the sexual indiscretion of Luz with different men
Robert filed a motion for reconsideration, but it was denied by the CA in its coupled with the fact that she failed to function as a home maker to her
June 1, 2010 Resolution,6 stating that the arguments of Robert were mere family and as a housewife to him incapacitated her from accepting and
rehash of the same ground, arguments and discussion previously pointed complying with her essential marital obligations. For said reason, he asserts
out by him, and that no new substance was brought out to warrant the that the case of Luz was not a mere case of sexual infidelity, but clearly an
reconsideration or reversal of its decision. illness that was rooted on some debilitating psychological condition which
incapacitated her to carry out the responsibilities of a married woman.
Hence, this petition. Robert avers that a sex maniac is not just a mere sexual infidel but one who
is suffering from a deep psychological problem.
ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR:
Position of the State
I
The OSG argues that the CA correctly ruled that the totality of evidence
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS’ HOLDING THAT THE ABSENCE OF presented by Robert was not sufficient to support a finding that Luz was
THE PSYCHOLOGICAL EXAMINATION OF THE WIFE UNDERSCORES THE psychologically incapacitated. His evidence fell short of establishing his
EVIDENTIAL GAP TO SUSTAIN THE DECISION OFTHE RTC DECLARING THE assertion that at the time of their marriage, Luz was suffering from a
MARRIAGE OF PETITIONER TO RESPONDENT NULL AND VOID ON THE psychological defect which deprived her of the ability to assume the
GROUND OF PSYCHOLOGICAL INCAPACITY IS CONTRARY TO LAW AND essential duties of marriage and its concomitant responsibilities.
JURISPRUDENCE.
With regard to the findings of the Metropolitan Tribunal and the NAMT, the
II OSG claims that the same were only given persuasive value and were not
controlling or decisive in cases of nullity of marriage. Further, the decision
THE RESPONDENT WIFE WAS ALSO DECLARED BY THE NATIONAL was based on grave lack of discretion of judgment concerning matrimonial
APPELLATE MATRIMONIAL TRIBUNAL OF THE CATHOLIC BISHOP’S rights and obligations due to outside factors other than psychological
CONFERENCE OF THE PHILIPPINES AS GUILTY OF GRAVE LACKOF DUE incapacity as contemplated in Article 36 of the Family Code. The OSG also
DISCRETION. raises the strong possibility of collusion between the parties as shown by
the events that took place after the issuance of the March 7, 1996 RTC
III Decision. The OSG wrote:

THE RESPONDENT WIFE WAS ALSO FOUND BY THE LOWER COURT AS Significantly, the chronological events after the trial court issued its March
PSYCHOLOGICALLY INCAPACITATED TO COMPLY WITH THE ESSENTIAL 7, 1996 Decision unmistakably show the collusion between the parties to
MARITAL OBLIGATIONS. obtain the reliefs pleaded. Among others, respondent’s Retraction of
Testimony was executed without the presence of counsel sometime in
Robert now argues that he has sufficiently proven the nullity of his 1998, a few months before she married an American. This irregularity was
marriage even in the absence of any medical, psychiatric or psychological even noticed by the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 54261:
examination of the wife by a competent and qualified professional. To
bolster his claim, he avers that the Metropolitan Tribunal already declared xxxx
that Luz exhibited grave lack of discretion in judgment concerning the
essential rights and obligations mutually given and accepted in marriage. The involvement and active participation of the Solicitor General became
The said decision was affirmed by the NAMT. indispensable, in the present recourse, when, in a whirlwind turn of events,
the Appellee made a VOLTE FACE executed a "Retraction of Testimony" and Psychological incapacity as required by Article 36 must be characterized by
a "Waiver of Custody" waiving custody of Franco Mark J Mallillin, still a (a) gravity, (b) juridical antecedence and (c) incurability. The incapacity
minor, her son by the Appellant. It bears stressing that the Appellee, in the must be grave or serious such that the party would be incapable of carrying
Court a quo, obdurately denied the material allegations of the Appellant’s out the ordinary duties required in marriage. It must be rooted in the
complaint and declared that it was the Appellant who was psychologically history of the party antedating the marriage, although the overt
incapacitated. The sudden turn-about of the appellee, in the present manifestations may only emerge after the marriage. It must be incurable
recourse, to the extent of disowning her testimony in the Court a quo and or, even if it were otherwise, the cure would be beyond the means of the
even praying for the reversal of the Decision of the Trial Court is strongly party involved.8
suggestive, if not constitutive, of collusion or a modus vivendi between the
parties, outlawed by the Family Code of the Philippines and the In Republic v. Court of Appeals and Eduardo C. De Quintos, Jr.,9 the Court
Constitution. x x x reiterated the well-settled guidelines in resolving petitions for declaration
of nullity of marriage, embodied in Republic v. Court of Appeals and
The Court’s Ruling Molina,10 based on Article 36 of the Family Code. Thus:

The main issue is whether the totality of the evidence adduced proves that (1) The burden of proof to show the nullity of the marriage belongs to the
Luz was psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential plaintiff. Any doubt should be resolved in favor of the existence and
obligations of marriage warranting the annulment of their marriage under continuation of the marriage and against its dissolution and nullity. x x x.
Article 36 of the Family Code.
xxxx
The petition is bereft of merit.
(2) The root cause of the psychological incapacity must be (a) medically or
A petition for declaration of nullity of marriage is anchored on Article 36 of clinically identified, (b) alleged in the complaint, (c) sufficiently proven by
the Family Code which provides: experts and (d) clearly explained in the decision. Article 36 of the Family
Code requires that the incapacity must be psychological — not physical,
Art. 36. A marriage contracted by any party who, at the time of the although its manifestations and/or symptoms may be physical. x x x.
celebration, was psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential
marital obligation of marriage, shall likewise be void even if such incapacity xxxx
becomes manifest only after its solemnization. "Psychological incapacity,"
as a ground to nullify a marriage under Article 36 of the Family Code, (3) The incapacity must be proven to be existing at "the time of the
should refer to no less than a mental – not merely physical – incapacity that celebration" of the marriage. x x x.
causes a party to be truly incognitive of the basic marital covenants that
concomitantly must be assumed and discharged by the parties to the xxxx
marriage which, as so expressed in Article 68 of the Family Code, among
others, include their mutual obligations to live together; observe love, (4) Such incapacity must also be shown to be medically or clinically
respect and fidelity; and render help and support. There is hardly a doubt permanent or incurable. x x x.
that the intendment of the law has been to confine the meaning of
"psychological incapacity" to the most serious cases of personality xxxx
disorders clearly demonstrative of an utter insensitivity or inability to give
meaning and significance to the marriage.7 (5) Such illness must be grave enough to bring about the disability of the
party to assume the essential obligations of marriage. Thus, "mild
characteriological peculiarities, mood changes, occasional emotional The alleged failure of Luz to assume her duties as a wife and as a mother,
outbursts" cannot be accepted as root causes. x x x. as well as her emotional immaturity, irresponsibility and infidelity, cannot
rise to the level of psychological incapacity that justifies the nullification of
xxxx the parties' marriage. The Court has repeatedly stressed that psychological
incapacity contemplates "downright incapacity or inability to take
(6) The essential marital obligations must be those embraced by Articles 68 cognizance of and to assume the basic marital obligations," not merely the
up to 71 of the Family Code as regards the husband and wife as well as refusal, neglect or difficulty, much less ill will, on the part of the errant
Articles 220, 221 and 225 of the same Code in regard to parents and their spouse.11 Indeed, to be declared clinically or medically incurable is one
children. Such non-complied marital obligation(s) must also be stated in thing; to refuse or be reluctant to perform one's duties is another.
the petition, proven by evidence and included in the text of the decision. Psychological incapacity refers only to the most serious cases of personality
disorders clearly demonstrative of an utter insensitivity or inability to give
(7) Interpretations given by the National Appellate Matrimonial Tribunal of meaning and significance to the marriage.12
the Catholic Church in the Philippines, while not controlling or decisive,
should be given great respect by our courts. As correctly found by the CA, sexual infidelity or perversion and
abandonment do not, by themselves, constitute grounds for declaring a
x x x. marriage void based on psychological incapacity. Robert argues that the
series of sexual indiscretion of Luz were external manifestations of the
xxxx psychological defect that she was suffering within her person, which could
be considered as nymphomania or "excessive sex hunger." Other than his
(8) The trial court must order the prosecuting attorney or fiscal and the allegations, however, no other convincing evidence was adduced to prove
Solicitor General to appear as counsel for the state. x x x. that these sexual indiscretions were considered as nymphomania, and that
it was grave, deeply rooted, and incurable within the term of psychological
Guided by these pronouncements, the Court is of the considered view that incapacity embodied in Article 36. To stress, Robert’s testimony alone is
Robert’s evidence failed to establish the psychological incapacity of Luz. insufficient to prove the existence of psychological incapacity.

First, the testimony of Robert failed to overcome the burden of proof to In Sivino A. Ligeralde v. May Ascension A. Patalinghug and the Republic of
show the nullity of the marriage. Other than his self-serving testimony, no the Philippines,13 the Court ruled that the respondent’s act of living an
other evidence was adduced to show the alleged incapacity of Luz. He adulterous life cannot automatically be equated with a psychological
presented no other witnesses to corroborate his allegations on her disorder, especially when no specific evidence was shown that promiscuity
behavior. Thus, his testimony was self-serving and had no serious value as was a trait already existing at the inception of marriage. The petitioner
evidence. must be able to establish that the respondent’s unfaithfulness was a
manifestation of a disordered personality, which made her completely
Second, the root cause of the alleged psychological incapacity of Luz was unable to discharge the essential obligations of the marital state.
not medically or clinically identified, and sufficiently proven during the trial.
Based on the records, Robert failed to prove that her disposition of not Third, the psychological report of Villanueva, Guidance Psychologist II of
cleaning the room, preparing their meal, washing the clothes, and the Northern Mindanao Medical Center, Cagayan deOro City, was
propensity for dating and receiving different male visitors, was grave, insufficient to prove the psychological in capacity of Luz. There was nothing
deeply rooted, and incurable within the parameters of jurisprudence on in the records that would indicate that Luz had either been interviewed or
psychological incapacity. was subjected to a psychological examination. The finding as to her
psychological incapacity was based entirely on hearsay and the self-serving
information provided by Robert.
marriage intents and purposes basically by reason of her immaturity of
Fourth, the decision of the Metropolitan Tribunal is insufficient to prove judgement as manifested by her emotional ambivalence x x x.
the psychological incapacity of Luz. Although it is true that in the case of
Republic v. Court of Appeals and Molina,14 the Court stated that WHEREFORE, this COLLEGIAL COURT OF APPEALS, having invoked the
interpretations given by the NAMT of the Catholic Church in the Divine Name and having in mind the Law, the Jurisprudence and the Facts
Philippines, while not controlling or decisive, should be given great respect pertaining to the Case, hereby declares and decrees the confirmation of
by our courts, still it is subject to the law on evidence. Thus: the nullity decision rendered by the Metropolitan Tribunal of First Instance
for the Archdiocese of Manil on the Marriage Case MALLILIN –
Since the purpose of including such provision in our Family Code is to JAMISOLAMIN with Prot. N. 63/2000 on the ground provided by Canon
harmonize our civil laws with the religious faith of our people, it stands to 1095 par. 2CIC on the part of the woman Respondent – but NOT on the
reason that to achieve such harmonization, great persuasive weight should part of the man Petitioner for lack of evidence. (Emphases and
be given to decisions of such appellate tribunal. Ideally – subject to our law underscoring supplied)15
on evidence– what is decreed as [canonically] invalid should be decreed
civilly void x x x. (Emphasis supplied) In Santos v. Santos,6 the Court referred to the deliberations during the
sessions of the Family Code Revision Committee, which drafted the Code,
Pertinently, Rule 132, Section 34 of the Rules of Evidence provides: to provide an insight on the import of Article 36 of the Family Code. It went
out to state that a part of the provision is similar to the third paragraph of
The court shall consider no evidence which has not been formally offered. Canon 1095 of the Code of Canon Law, which reads:
The purpose of which the evidence is offered must be specified.
Canon 1095. The following are incapable of contracting marriage:
In this regard, the belated presentation of the decision of the NAMT cannot
be given value since it was not offered during the trial, and the Court has in 1. those who lack sufficient use of reason;
no way of ascertaining the evidence considered by the same tribunal.
2. those who suffer from a grave lack of discretion of judgment concerning
Granting that it was offered and admitted, it must be pointed out that the the essential matrimonial rights and obligations to be mutually given and
basis of the declaration of nullity of marriage by the NAMT was not the accepted;
third paragraph of Canon 1095 which mentions causes of a psychological
nature similar to Article 36 of the Family Code, but the second paragraph of 3. those who, because of causes of a psychological nature, are unable to
Canon 1095 which refers to those who suffer from grave lack of discretion assume the essential obligations of marriage.(Emphasis and underscoring
of judgment concerning essential matrimonial rights and obligations to be supplied)
mutually given and accepted. For clarity, the pertinent portions of the
NAMT decision are as follows: In Najera v. Najera,17 the Court was also confronted with a similar issue of
whether to consider an annulment by the NAMT as also covering
The FACTS on the Case prove with the certitude required by law that based psychological incapacity, the only ground recognized in our law. In the said
on the deposition of the petitioner – the respondent understandably case, the NAMT decision was also based on the second paragraph of Canon
ignored the proceedings completely for which she was duly cited for 1095. The Court ruled that it was not similar to, and only annulments
Contempt of Court – and premised on the substantially concordant under the third paragraph of, Canon 1095 should be considered.
testimonies of the Witnesses, the woman Respondent demonstrated in the Elucidating, the Court wrote: Petitioner’s argument is without merit.
external forum through her action and reaction patterns, before and after
the marriage-in-fact, her grave lack of due discretion in judgement for In its Decision dated February 23, 2004, the Court of Appeals apparently
did not have the opportunity to consider the decision of the National
Appellate Matrimonial Tribunal. Nevertheless, it is clear that the Court of following persons only, to wit: Aldana Celedonia (petitioner-appellant’s
Appeals considered the Matrimonial Tribunal’s decision in its Resolution mother), Sonny de la Cruz (member, PNP, Bugallon, Pangasinan), and Ma.
dated August 5, 2004 when it resolved petitioner’s motion for Cristina R. Gates (psychologist). Said witnesses testified, in particular, to the
reconsideration. In the said Resolution, the Court of Appeals took unfaithful night of July 1, 1994 wherein the respondent allegedly made an
cognizance of the very same issues now raised before this Court and attempt on the life of the petitioner. But unlike the hearing and finding
correctly held that petitioner’s motion for reconsideration was devoid of before the Matrimonial Tribunal, petitioner-appellant’s sister-in-law and
merit. It stated: friends of the opposing parties were never presented before said Court. As
to the contents and veracity of the latter’s testimonies, this Court is
The Decision of the National Appellate Matrimonial Tribunal dated July 2, without any clue. True, in the case of Republic v. Court of Appeals, et al.
2002, which was forwarded to this Court only on February 11, 2004, reads (268 SCRA 198), the Supreme Court held that the interpretations given by
as follows: the National Appellate Matrimonial Tribunal of the Catholic Church in the
Philippines, while not controlling or decisive, should be given great respect
[T]he FACTS collated from party complainant and reliable witnesses which by our courts. However, the Highest Tribunal expounded as follows:
include a sister-in-law of Respondent (despite summons from the Court
dated June14, 1999, he did not appear before the Court, in effect waiving Since the purpose of including such provision in our Family Code is to
his right to be heard, hence, trial in absentia followed) corroborate and harmonize our civil laws with the religious faith of our people, it stands to
lead this Collegiate Court to believe with moral certainty required by law reason that to achieve such harmonization, great persuasive weight should
and conclude that the husband-respondent upon contracting marriage be given to decisions of such appellate tribunal. Ideally – subject to our law
suffered from grave lack of due discretion of judgment, thereby rendering on evidence– what is decreed as [canonically] invalid should be decreed
nugatory his marital contract: First, his family was dysfunctional in that as a civilly void x x x.
child, he saw the break-up of the marriage of his own parents; his own two
siblings have broken marriages; Second, he therefore grew up with a And in relation thereto, Rule 132, Sec. 34 of the Rules of Evidence states:
domineering mother with whom [he] identified and on whom he
depended for advice; Third, he was according to his friends, already into The court shall consider no evidence which has not been formally offered.
drugs and alcohol before marriage; this affected his conduct of bipolar The purpose of which the evidence is offered must be specified.
kind: he could be very quiet but later very talkative, peaceful but later
hotheaded even violent, he also was aware of the infidelity of his mother Given the preceding disquisitions, petitioner-appellant should not expect
who now lives with her paramour, also married and a policeman; Finally, us to give credence to the Decision of the National Appellate Matrimonial
into marriage, he continued with his drugs and alcohol abuse until one Tribunal when, apparently, it was made on a different set of evidence of
time he came home very drunk and beat up his wife and attacked her with which We have no way of ascertaining their truthfulness. Furthermore, it is
a bolo that wounded her; this led to final separation. an elementary rule that judgments must be based on the evidence
presented before the court (Manzano vs. Perez, 362 SCRA 430 [2001]). And
WHEREFORE, premises considered, this Court of Second Instance, having based on the evidence on record, We find no ample reason to reverse or
invoked the Divine Name and having considered the pertinent Law and modify the judgment of the Trial Court.[31]
relevant Jurisprudence to the Facts of the Case hereby proclaims, declares
and decrees the confirmation of the sentence from the Court a quo in favor Santos v. Santos18 cited the deliberations during the sessions of the Family
of the nullity of marriage on the ground contemplated under Canon 1095, Code Revision Committee, which drafted the Code, to provide an insight on
2 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law. the import of Article 36 of the Family Code. It stated that a part of the
provision is similar to the third paragraph of Canon 1095 of the Code of
However, records of the proceedings before the Trial Court show that, Canon Law, which reads:
other than herself, petitioner-appellant offered the testimonies of the
Canon 1095. The following are incapable of contracting marriage: respondent. Petitioner, therefore, erred in stating that the conclusion of
Psychologist Cristina Gates regarding the psychological incapacity of
1. those who lack sufficient use of reason; respondent is supported by the decision of the National Appellate
Matrimonial Tribunal.
2. those who suffer from a grave lack of discretion of judgment concerning
the essential matrimonial rights and obligations to be mutually given and In fine, the Court of Appeals did not err in affirming the Decision of the
accepted; RTC. (Emphases in the original; Underscoring supplied)

3. those who, because of causes of a psychological nature, are unable to Hence, Robert’s reliance on the NAMT decision is misplaced. To repeat, the
assume the essential obligations of marriage. decision of the NAMT was based on the second paragraph of Canon 1095
which refers to those who suffer from a grave lack of discretion of
It must be pointed out that in this case, the basis of the declaration of judgment concerning essential matrimonial rights and obligations to be
nullity of marriage by the National Appellate Matrimonial Tribunal is not mutually given and accepted, a cause not of psychological nature under
the third paragraph of Canon 1095 which mentions causes of a Article 36 of the Family Code. A cause of psychological nature similar to
psychological nature, but the second paragraph of Canon 1095 which refers Article 36 is covered by the third paragraph of Canon 1095 of the Code of
to those who suffer from a grave lack of discretion of judgment concerning Canon Law (Santos v. Santos 19), which for ready reference reads:
essential matrimonial rights and obligations to be mutually given and
accepted. For clarity, the pertinent portion of the decision of the National Canon 1095. The following are incapable of contracting marriage:
Appellate Matrimonial Tribunal reads:
xxxx
The FACTS collated from party complainant and reliable witnesses which
include a sister-in-law of Respondent (despite summons from the Court 3. those who, because of causes of a psychological nature, are unable to
dated June 14, 1999, he did not appear before the Court, in effect waiving assume the essential obligations of marriage.
his right to be heard, hence, trial in absentia followed) corroborate and
lead this Collegiate Court to believe with moral certainty required by law To hold that annulment of marriages decreed by the NAMT under the
and conclude that the husband-respondent upon contacting marriage second paragraph of Canon 1095 should also be covered would be to
suffered from grave lack of due discretion of judgment, thereby rendering expand what the lawmakers did not intend to include. What would prevent
nugatory his marital contract x x x. members of other religious groups from invoking their own interpretation
of psychological incapacity? Would this not lead to multiple, if not
WHEREFORE, premises considered, this Court of Second Instance, having inconsistent, interpretations?
invoked the Divine Name and having considered the pertinent Law and
relevant Jurisprudence to the Facts of the Case hereby proclaims, declares To consider church annulments as additional grounds for annulment under
and decrees the confirmation of the sentence from the Court a quo in favor Article 36 would be legislating from the bench.1âwphi1 As stated in
of the nullity of marriage on the ground contemplated under Canon 1095, Republic v. Court of Appeals and Molina,20 interpretations given by the
2 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law. x x x. NAMT of the Catholic Church in the Philippines are given great respect by
our courts, but they are not controlling or decisive.
Hence, even if, as contended by petitioner, the factual basis of the decision
of the National Appellate Matrimonial Tribunal is similar to the facts In Republic v. Galang,21 it was written that the Constitution set out a policy
established by petitioner before the trial court, the decision of the National of protecting and strengthening the family as the basic social institution,
Appellate Matrimonial Tribunal confirming the decree of nullity of marriage and the marriage was the foundation of the family. Marriage, as an
by the court a quo is not based on the psychological incapacity of inviolable institution protected by the State, cannot be dissolved at the
whim of the parties. In petitions for declaration of nullity of marriage, the
burden of proof to show the nullity of marriage lies with the plaintiff.
Unless the evidence presented clearly reveals a situation where the parties,
or one of them, could not have validly entered into a marriage by reason of
a grave and serious psychological illness existing at the time it was G.R. No. 210929, July 29, 2015
celebrated, the Court is compelled to uphold the indissolubility of the
marital tie. REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, Petitioner, v. EDNA ORCELINO-VILLANUEVA,
Respondent.
In fine, the Court holds that the CA decided correctly. Petitioner Robert
failed to adduce sufficient and convincing evidence to prove the alleged DECISION
psychological incapacity of Luz.
MENDOZA, J.:
As asserted by the OSG, the allegations of the petitioner make a case for
legal separation. Hence, this decision is without prejudice to an action for In this petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court,
legal separation if a party would want to pursue such proceedings. In this the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), on behalf of the Republic of the
disposition, the Court cannot decree a legal separation because in such Philippines, assails the October 18, 2013 Decision1 and the January 8, 2014
proceedings, there are matters and consequences like custody and Resolution2 of the Court of Appeals (CA), in CA-G.R. S.P. No. 03768-MIN,
separation of properties that need to be considered and settled. which affirmed the October 8, 2009 Judgment3 of the Regional Trial Court,
Branch 10, Malaybalay City, Bukidnon (RTC), in SP Proc. Case No. 3316-09,
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The Decision of the Court of Appeals granting the petition of respondent Edna Orcelino-Villanueva (Edna) and
in CA-G.R. CV No. 78303-MIN, dated November 20, 2009, and its declaring her husband, Romeo L. Villanueva (Romeo), as presumptively
Resolution, dated June 1, 2010, are hereby AFFIRMED, without prejudice. dead under Article 41 of the Family Code.4chanrobleslaw

No costs. The Antecedents

SO ORDERED. Edna and Romeo were married on December 21, 1978, in Iligan City.

In 1992, Edna worked as domestic helper in Singapore while her husband


worked as a mechanic in Valencia City, Bukidnon. In 1993, Edna heard the
news from her children that Romeo had left their conjugal home without
reason or information as to his whereabouts.

Thereafter, Edna took a leave from work and returned to the country to
look for Romeo. She inquired from her parents-in-law and common friends
in Iligan City. Still, she found no leads as to his whereabouts or existence.
She also went to his birthplace in Escalante, Negros Oriental, and inquired
from his relatives.

On August 6, 2009, Edna filed before the RTC a petition5 to declare Romeo
presumptively dead under Article 41 of the Family Code.
During the trial, Edna was presented as the lone witness. In its October 8, The OSG argues that the CA erred in not finding grave abuse of discretion
2009 Order,6 the RTC granted the petition on the basis of her well-founded on the part of the RTC when the latter affirmed the existence of Edna's
belief of Romeo's death. Hence:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary well-founded belief as to the death of her absent spouse. It claims that the
WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered declaring evidence presented by Edna, which merely consisted of bare and
Romeo L. Villanueva to be presumptively dead for all legal intents and uncorroborated assertions, never amounted to a diligent and serious
purposes in accordance with Article 41 of the Family Code of the search required under prevailing jurisprudence.
Philippines, without prejudice to his reappearance.

SO ORDERED.7 Respondent Edna, through her counsel, invokes the finality, inalterability
On August 13, 2010, the OSG filed a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of and immutability of the RTC decision, which was affirmed by the
the Rules of Court before the CA alleging grave abuse of discretion on the CA.13chanrobleslaw
part of the RTC in finding that Edna had a well-founded belief that Romeo,
her absent spouse, was dead. It argued that the conclusions reached by the Ruling of the Court
RTC were in direct opposition to established jurisprudence, as ruled by the
Court in Republic v. Nolasco8 (Nolasco) and U.S. v. Biasbas9 On October 18, The Court grants the petition.
2013, the CA dismissed the petition, holding that the RTC acted within its
jurisdiction in issuing the assailed decision having been expressly clothed Article 41 of the Family Code provides that before a judicial declaration of
with the power to determine the case.10 It also cited Article 247 of the presumptive death may be granted, the present spouse must prove that
Family Code11 which provided for the final and immediate executory he/she has a well-founded belief that the absentee is dead.14 In this case,
character of the decision of the RTC, acting as a family court, thus, Edna failed. The RTC and the CA overlooked Edna's patent non-compliance
rendering the issue of whether or not Edna had sufficiently established a with the said requirement. The well-founded belief in the absentee's death
well-founded belief to warrant the decree of presumptive death of her requires the present spouse to prove that his/her belief was the result of
absent spouse, as moot and academic. diligent and reasonable efforts to locate the absent spouse and that based
on these efforts and inquiries, he/she believes that under the
On November 20, 2013, the OSG filed a motion for reconsideration but the circumstances, the absent spouse is already dead. It necessitates exertion
CA denied it on January 8, 2014. of active effort (not a mere passive one). Mere absence of the spouse
(even beyond the period required by law), lack of any news that the
Hence, this petition. absentee spouse is still alive, mere failure to communicate, or general
ISSUES presumption of absence under the Civil Code would not suffice.15 The
premise is that Article 41 of the Family Code places upon the present
I. spouse the burden of complying with the stringent requirement of well-
founded belief which can only be discharged upon a showing of proper and
WHETHER OR NOT THE CA ERRED IN AFFIRMING THE RTC DECISION honest-to-goodness inquiries and efforts to ascertain not only the absent
DESPITE THE FACT THAT THE CONCLUSION REACHED BY THE RTC IS spouse's whereabouts but, more importantly, whether the absent spouse is
CONTRARY TO PREVAILING JURISPRUDENCE. still alive or is already dead.16chanrobleslaw

II. This strict standard approach ensures that a petition for declaration of
presumptive death under Article 41 of the Family Code is not used as a tool
WHETHER OR NOT THE CA ERRED IN RULING THAT THE GROUNDS RAISED to conveniently circumvent the laws in light of the State's policy to protect
BY THE PETITIONER TO ASSAIL THE RTC DECISION ARE MERE ERRORS OF and strengthen the institution of marriage. Courts should never allow
JUDGMENT.12
procedural shortcuts but instead should see to it that the stricter standard great many circumstances occurring before and after the disappearance of
required by the Family Code is met.17chanrobleslaw an absent spouse and the nature and extent of the inquiries made by the
present spouse.chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
Accordingly, in a string of cases, this Court has denied petitions for the In Nolasco, the present spouse filed a petition for declaration of
declaration of presumptive death on the said basis. presumptive death of his wife, who had been missing for more than four
years. He testified that his efforts to find her consisted
In Republic of the Philippines v. Court of Appeals,18 the Court ruled that of:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
the present spouse failed to prove that he had a well-founded belief that (1)
his absent spouse was already dead before he filed his petition. His efforts Searching for her whenever his ship docked in England;
to locate his absent wife allegedly consisted of the (2)
following:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary Sending her letters which were all returned to him; and
(1) (3)
He went to his in-laws' house to look for her; Inquiring from their friends regarding her whereabouts, which all proved
(2) fruitless.
He sought the barangay captain's aid to locate her; The Court held that the present spouse's methods of investigation were
(3) too sketchy to form a basis that his wife was already dead. It stated that the
He went to her friends' houses to find her and inquired about her pieces of evidence only proved that his wife had chosen not to
whereabouts among her friends; communicate with their common acquaintances, and not that she was
(4) dead.
He went to Manila and worked as a part-time taxi driver to look for her in
malls during his free time; Recently, in Republic v. Cantor20 (Cantor), the Court considered the
(5) present spouse's efforts to have fallen short of the "stringent standard" and
He went back to Catbalogan and again looked for her; and lacked the degree of diligence required by jurisprudence as she did not
(6) actively look for her missing husband; that she did not report his absence
He reported her disappearance to the local police station and to the NBI. to the police or seek the aid of the authorities to look for him; that she did
Despite these claimed "earnest efforts," the Court still ruled against the not present as witnesses her missing husband's relatives or their neighbors
present spouse. The Court explained that he failed to present the persons and friends, who could corroborate her efforts to locate him; that these
from whom he made inquiries and only reported his wife's absence after persons, from whom she allegedly made inquiries, were not even named;
the OSG filed its notice to dismiss his petition in the RTC. and that there was no other corroborative evidence to support her claim
that she conducted a diligent search. In the Court's view, the wife merely
Similarly in Republic v. Granada,19 the Court ruled that the present spouse engaged in a "passive search" where she relied on uncorroborated inquiries
failed to prove her "well-founded belief" that her absent spouse was from her in-laws, neighbors and friends. She, thus, failed to conduct a
already dead prior to her filing of the petition. She simply did not exert diligent search. Her claimed efforts were insufficient to form a well-
diligent efforts to locate her husband either in the country or in Taiwan, founded belief that her husband was already dead.
where he was known to have worked. Moreover, she did not explain her
omissions. In said case, the Court wrote:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary In this case, Edna claimed to have done the following to determine the
The belief of the present spouse must be the result of proper and honest to whereabouts and the status of her husband:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
goodness inquiries and efforts to ascertain the whereabouts of the absent She took a vacation/leave of absence from her work and returned to the
spouse and whether the absent spouse is still alive or is already dead. Philippines to look for her husband.
Whether or not the spouse present acted on a well-founded belief of the
death of the absent spouse depends upon inquiries to be drawn from a
She inquired from her parents-in-law in Iligan City and from their common from their common friends in Iligan City and in Valencia City, and even
friends in the same city and in Valencia City. went as far as the birthplace of her husband, particularly at Escalante,
Negros Oriental, inquiring from her husband's relatives, but she only got
She went as far as the birthplace of her husband in Escalante, Negros negative response from them since none of them have any knowledge as
Oriental, so she could inquire from her husband's relatives. to the present existence of her husband that since the year 1993 up to the
Despite her efforts, she averred that she received negative responses from present, a period of about fifteen [15] years have elapsed, the person and
them because none of them had knowledge of the existence of her the body of petitioner's husband could not be found, located nor traced as
husband who had been missing for 15 years. there is no any information as to his existence or whereabouts.23
Worse, the CA affirmed the RTC decision when it dismissed the petition for
Applying the standard set forth by the Court in the previously cited cases, certiorari filed by the OSG. The CA should have realized the glaring and
particularly Cantor, Edna's efforts failed to satisfy the required well- patent disregard by the RTC of the rulings in similar situations where
founded belief of her absent husband's death. petitions for declaration of presumptive death have been denied by this
Court. By declaring Romeo presumptively dead, the CA clearly ignored this
Her claim of making diligent search and inquiries remained unfounded as it Court's categorical pronouncements.
merely consisted of bare assertions without any corroborative evidence on
record. She also failed to present any person from whom she inquired WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. Accordingly, the October 18, 2013
about the whereabouts of her husband. She did not even present her Decision and the January 8, 2014 Resolution of the Court of Appeals are
children from whom she learned the disappearance of her husband. In fact, hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The petition of respondent Edna
she was the lone witness. Following the basic rule that mere allegation is Orcelino-Villanueva to have her husband declared presumptively dead is
not evidence and is not equivalent to proof,21 the Court cannot give DENIED.
credence to her claims that she indeed exerted diligent efforts to locate her
husband. SO ORDERED.

Moreover, no document was submitted to corroborate the allegation that


her husband had been missing for at least fifteen (15) years already. As the
OSG observed, there was not even any attempt to seek the aid of the
authorities at the time her husband disappeared. In Cantor, the present
spouse claimed to have sought the aid of the authorities or, at the very
least, reported his absence to the police.22 Yet, the Court denied her pleas.

Verily, it makes sense to conclude that her efforts were not diligent and
serious enough to give meaning to her well-founded belief that Romeo was
already dead. Suffice it to state that her petition should have been denied
at the first instance. The RTC, however, granted it, reasoning
xxx that it was in 1993 when the petitioner while abroad heard the news
from her children that her husband left their conjugal home xxx without
informing the children nor communicating with the herein petitioner as to
the reasons why he left their family abode nor giving them any information
as to his whereabouts; that herein petitioner took vacation/leave of
absence from her work and return to the Philippines, in order to look for
her husband and made some inquiries with her parents-in-law in Iligan City,
G.R. No. 184621 December 10, 2013

REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, Petitioner,


vs.
MARIA FE ESPINOSA CANTOR, Respondent.

DECISION

BRION, J.:

The petition for review on certiorari1 before us assails the decision2 dated
August 27, 2008 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No. 01558-MIN
which affirmed be order3 dated December 15, 2006 of the Regional Trial
Court (RTC), Branch 25, Koronadal City, South Cotabato, in SP Proc. Case
No. 313-25, declaring Jerry F. Cantor, respondent Maria Fe Espinosa
Cantor’s husband, presumptively dead under Article 41 of the Family Code.

The Factual Antecedents

The respondent and Jerry were married on September 20, 1997. They lived
together as husband and wife in their conjugal dwelling in Agan Homes,
Koronadal City, South Cotabato. Sometime in January 1998, the couple had
a violent quarrel brought about by: (1) the respondent’s inability to reach
"sexual climax" whenever she and Jerry would have intimate moments;
and (2) Jerry’s expression of animosity toward the respondent’s father.

After their quarrel, Jerry left their conjugal dwelling and this was the last
time that the respondent ever saw him. Since then, she had not seen,
communicated nor heard anything from Jerry or about his whereabouts.

On May 21, 2002, or more than four (4) years from the time of Jerry’s
disappearance, the respondent filed before the RTC a petition4for her
husband’s declaration of presumptive death, docketed as SP Proc. Case No.
313-25. She claimed that she had a well-founded belief that Jerry was
already dead. She alleged that she had inquired from her mother-in-law,
her brothers-in-law, her sisters-in-law, as well as her neighbors and friends,
but to no avail. In the hopes of finding Jerry, she also allegedly made it a
point to check the patients’ directory whenever she went to a hospital. All
these earnest efforts, the respondent claimed, proved futile, prompting her claims that the respondent failed to conduct the requisite diligent search
to file the petition in court. for her missing husband. Likewise, the petitioner invites this Court’s
attention to the attendant circumstances surrounding the case, particularly,
The Ruling of the RTC the degree of search conducted and the respondent’s resultant failure to
meet the strict standard under Article 41 of the Family Code.
After due proceedings, the RTC issued an order granting the respondent’s
petition and declaring Jerry presumptively dead. It concluded that the The Issues
respondent had a well-founded belief that her husband was already dead
since more than four (4) years had passed without the former receiving any The petition poses to us the following issues:
news about the latter or his whereabouts. The dispositive portion of the
order dated December 15, 2006 reads: (1) Whether certiorarilies to challenge the decisions, judgments or final
orders of trial courts in petitions for declaration of presumptive death of an
WHEREFORE, the Court hereby declares, as it hereby declared that absent spouse under Article 41 of the Family Code; and
respondent Jerry F. Cantor is presumptively dead pursuant to Article 41 of
the Family Code of the Philippines without prejudice to the effect of the (2) Whether the respondent had a well-founded belief that Jerry is already
reappearance of the absent spouse Jerry F. Cantor.5 dead.

The Ruling of the CA The Court’s Ruling

The case reached the CA through a petition for certiorari6filed by the We grant the petition.
petitioner, Republic of the Philippines, through the Office of the Solicitor
General (OSG). In its August 27, 2008 decision, the CA dismissed the a. On the Issue of the Propriety of Certiorari as a Remedy
petitioner’s petition, finding no grave abuse of discretion on the RTC’s part,
and, accordingly, fully affirmed the latter’s order, thus: Court’s Judgment in the Judicial
Proceedings for Declaration of
WHEREFORE, premises foregoing (sic), the instant petition is hereby Presumptive Death Is Final and
DISMISSED and the assailed Order dated December 15, 2006 declaring Executory, Hence, Unappealable
Jerry F. Cantor presumptively dead is hereby AFFIRMED in toto.7
The Family Code was explicit that the court’s judgment in summary
The petitioner brought the matter via a Rule 45 petition before this Court. proceedings, such as the declaration of presumptive death of an absent
The Petition The petitioner contends that certiorari lies to challenge the spouse under Article 41 of the Family Code, shall be immediately final and
decisions, judgments or final orders of trial courts in petitions for executory.
declaration of presumptive death of an absent spouse under Rule 41 of the
Family Code. It maintains that although judgments of trial courts in Article 41,in relation to Article 247, of the Family Code provides:
summary judicial proceedings, including presumptive death cases, are
deemed immediately final and executory (hence, not appeal able under Art. 41. A marriage contracted by any person during subsistence of a
Article 247 of the Family Code), this rule does not mean that they are not previous marriage shall be null and void, unless before the celebration of
subject to review on certiorari. the subsequent marriage, the prior spouse had been absent for four
consecutive years and the spouse present has a well-founded belief that
The petitioner also posits that the respondent did not have a well-founded the absent spouse was already dead. In case of disappearance where there
belief to justify the declaration of her husband’s presumptive death. It 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. Certiorari Lies to Challenge the
Decisions, Judgments or Final
For the purpose of contracting the subsequent marriage under the Orders of Trial Courts in a Summary
preceding paragraph the spouse present must institute a summary Proceeding for the Declaration of Presumptive
proceeding as provided in this Code for the declaration of presumptive Death Under the Family Code
death of the absentee, without prejudice to the effect of reappearance of
the absent spouse. A losing party in this proceeding, however, is not entirely left without a
remedy. While jurisprudence tells us that no appeal can be made from the
Art. 247. The judgment of the court shall be immediately final and trial court's judgment, an aggrieved party may, nevertheless, file a petition
executory. [underscores ours] for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court to question any abuse of
discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction that transpired.
With the judgment being final, it necessarily follows that it is no longer
subject to an appeal, the dispositions and conclusions therein having As held in Delos Santos v. Rodriguez, et al.,10 the fact that a decision has
become immutable and unalterable not only as against the parties but become final does not automatically negate the original action of the CA to
even as against the courts.8 Modification of the court’s ruling, no matter issue certiorari, prohibition and mandamus in connection with orders or
how erroneous is no longer permissible. The final and executory nature of processes issued by the trial court. Certiorari may be availed of where a
this summary proceeding thus prohibits the resort to appeal. As explained court has acted without or in excess of jurisdiction or with grave abuse of
in Republic of the Phils. v. Bermudez-Lorino,9 the right to appeal is not discretion, and where the ordinary remedy of appeal is not available. Such
granted to parties because of the express mandate of Article 247 of the a procedure finds support in the case of Republic v. Tango,11 wherein we
Family Code, to wit: held that:

In Summary Judicial Proceedings under the Family Code, there is no This case presents an opportunity for us to settle the rule on appeal of
reglementary period within which to perfect an appeal, precisely because judgments rendered in summary proceedings under the Family Code and
judgments rendered thereunder, by express provision of [Article] 247, accordingly, refine our previous decisions thereon.
Family Code, supra, are "immediately final and executory." It was
erroneous, therefore, on the part of the RTCto give due course to the Article 238 of the Family Code, under Title XI: SUMMARY JUDICIAL
Republic’s appeal and order the transmittal of the entire records of the PROCEEDINGS IN THE FAMILY LAW, establishes the rules that govern
case to the Court of Appeals. summary court proceedings in the Family Code:

An appellate court acquires no jurisdiction to review a judgment which, by "ART. 238. Until modified by the Supreme Court, the procedural rules in
express provision of law, is immediately final and executory. As we have this Title shall apply in all cases provided for in this Code requiring
said in Veloria vs. Comelec, "the right to appeal is not a natural right nor is summary court proceedings. Such cases shall be decided in an expeditious
it a part of due process, for it is merely a statutory privilege." Since, by manner without regard to technical rules."
express mandate of Article 247 of the Family Code, all judgments rendered
in summary judicial proceedings in Family Law are "immediately final and In turn, Article 253 of the Family Code specifies the cases covered by the
executory," the right to appeal was not granted to any of the parties rules in chapters two and three of the same title. It states:
therein. The Republic of the Philippines, as oppositor in the petition for
declaration of presumptive death, should not be treated differently. It had "ART. 253. The foregoing rules in Chapters 2and 3 hereof shall likewise
no right to appeal the RTC decision of November 7, 2001. [emphases ours; govern summary proceedings filed under Articles 41, 51, 69, 73, 96, 124
italics supplied] and 217, insofar as they are applicable."(Emphasis supplied.)
3. That the present spouse has a well-founded belief that the absentee is
In plain text, Article 247 in Chapter 2 of the same title reads: dead; and

"ART.247. The judgment of the court shall be immediately final and 4. That the present spouse files a summary proceeding for the declaration
executory." of presumptive death of the absentee.12

By express provision of law, the judgment of the court in a summary The Present Spouse Has the Burden
proceeding shall be immediately final and executory. As a matter of course, of Proof to Show that All the
it follows that no appeal can be had of the trial court's judgment ina Requisites Under Article 41 of the
summary proceeding for the declaration of presumptive death of an absent Family Code Are Present
spouse under Article 41 of the Family Code. It goes without saying,
however, that an aggrieved party may file a petition for certiorari to The burden of proof rests on the present spouse to show that all the
question abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction. Such requisites under Article 41 of the Family Code are present. Since it is the
petition should be filed in the Court of Appeals in accordance with the present spouse who, for purposes of declaration of presumptive death,
Doctrine of Hierarchy of Courts. To be sure, even if the Court's original substantially asserts the affirmative of the issue, it stands to reason that
jurisdiction to issue a writ of certiorari is concurrent with the RTCs and the the burden of proof lies with him/her. He who alleges a fact has the burden
Court of Appeals in certain cases, such concurrence does not sanction an of proving it and mere allegation is not evidence.13
unrestricted freedom of choice of court forum. [emphasis ours]
Declaration of Presumptive Death
Viewed in this light, we find that the petitioner’s resort to certiorari under Under Article 41 of the Family Code
Rule 65 of the Rules of Court to question the RTC’s order declaring Jerry Imposes a Stricter Standard
presumptively dead was proper.
Notably, Article 41 of the Family Code, compared to the old provision of
b. On the Issue of the Existence of Well-Founded Belief the Civil Code which it superseded, imposes a stricter standard. It requires
The Essential Requisites for the a "well-founded belief " that the absentee is already dead before a petition
Declaration of Presumptive Death for declaration of presumptive death can be granted. We have had
Under Article 41 of the Family Code occasion to make the same observation in Republic v. Nolasco,14 where we
noted the crucial differences between Article 41 of the Family Code and
Before a judicial declaration of presumptive death can be obtained, it must Article 83 of the Civil Code, to wit:
be shown that the prior spouse had been absent for four consecutive years
and the present spouse had a well-founded belief that the prior spouse Under Article 41, the time required for the presumption to arise has been
was already dead. Under Article 41 of the Family Code, there are four (4) shortened to four (4) years; however, there is need for a judicial declaration
essential requisites for the declaration of presumptive death: of presumptive death to enable the spouse present to remarry. Also, Article
41 of the Family Code imposes a stricter standard than the Civil Code:
1. That the absent spouse has been missing for four consecutive years, or Article 83 of the Civil Code merely requires either that there be no news
two consecutive years if the disappearance occurred where there is danger that such absentee is still alive; or the absentee is generally considered to
of death under the circumstances laid down in Article 391, Civil Code; be dead and believed to be so by the spouse present, or is presumed dead
under Articles 390 and 391 of the Civil Code. The Family Code, upon the
2. That the present spouse wishes to remarry; other hand, prescribes as "well founded belief" that the absentee is already
dead before a petition for declaration of presumptive death can be
granted.
(4) He went to Manila and worked as a part-time taxi driver to look for her
Thus, mere absence of the spouse (even for such period required by the in malls during his free time;
law), lack of any news that such absentee is still alive, failure to
communicate or general presumption of absence under the Civil Code (5) He went back to Catbalogan and again looked for her; and
would not suffice. This conclusion proceeds from the premise that Article
41 of the Family Code places upon the present spouse the burden of (6) He reported her disappearance to the local police station and to the
proving the additional and more stringent requirement of "well-founded NBI.
belief" which can only be discharged upon a showing of proper and honest-
to-goodness inquiries and efforts to ascertain not only the absent spouse’s Despite these alleged "earnest efforts," the Court still ruled against the
whereabouts but, more importantly, that the absent spouse is still alive or present spouse. The Court found that he failed to present the persons from
is already dead.15 whom he allegedly made inquiries and only reported his wife’s absence
after the OSG filed its notice to dismiss his petition in the RTC.
The Requirement of Well-Founded Belief
The Court also provided the following criteria for determining the existence
The law did not define what is meant by "well-founded belief." It depends of a "well-founded belief" under Article 41 of the Family Code:
upon the circumstances of each particular case. Its determination, so to
speak, remains on a case-to-case basis. To be able to comply with this The belief of the present spouse must be the result of proper and honest to
requirement, the present spouse must prove that his/her belief was the goodness inquiries and efforts to ascertain the whereabouts of the absent
result of diligent and reasonable efforts and inquiries to locate the absent spouse and whether the absent spouse is still alive or is already dead.
spouse and that based on these efforts and inquiries, he/she believes that Whether or not the spouse present acted on a well-founded belief of death
under the circumstances, the absent spouseis already dead. It requires of the absent spouse depends upon the inquiries to be drawn from a great
exertion of active effort (not a mere passive one). many circumstances occurring before and after the disappearance of the
absent spouse and the nature and extent of the inquiries made by [the]
To illustrate this degree of "diligent and reasonable search" required by the present spouse.18
law, an analysis of the following relevant cases is warranted:
ii. Republic v. Granada19
i. Republic of the Philippines v. Court of Appeals (Tenth Div.)16
Similarly in Granada, the Court ruled that the absent spouse failed to prove
In Republic of the Philippines v. Court of Appeals (Tenth Div.),17 the Court her "well-founded belief" that her absent spouse was already dead prior to
ruled that the present spouse failed to prove that he had a well-founded her filing of the petition. In this case, the present spouse alleged that her
belief that his absent spouse was already dead before he filed his petition. brother had made inquiries from their relatives regarding the absent
His efforts to locate his absent wife allegedly consisted of the following: spouse’s whereabouts. The present spouse did not report to the police nor
seek the aid of the mass media. Applying the standards in Republic of the
(1) He went to his in-laws’ house to look for her; Philippines v. Court of Appeals (Tenth Div.),20 the Court ruled against the
present spouse, as follows:
(2) He sought the barangay captain’s aid to locate her;
Applying the foregoing standards to the present case, petitioner points out
(3) He went to her friends’ houses to find her and inquired about her that respondent Yolanda did not initiate a diligent search to locate her
whereabouts among his friends; absent husband. While her brother Diosdado Cadacio testified to having
inquiredabout the whereabouts of Cyrus from the latter’s relatives, these
relatives were not presented to corroborate Diosdado’s testimony. In short,
respondent was allegedly not diligent in her search for her husband. checking of the patients’ directory therein were unintentional. She did not
Petitioner argues that if she were, she would have sought information from purposely undertake a diligent search for her husband as her hospital visits
the Taiwanese Consular Office or assistance from other government were not planned nor primarily directed to look for him. This Court thus
agencies in Taiwan or the Philippines. She could have also utilized mass considers these attempts insufficient to engender a belief that her husband
media for this end, but she did not. Worse, she failed to explain these is dead.
omissions.
Second, she did not report Jerry’s absence to the police nor did she seek
iii.Republic v. Nolasco21 the aid of the authorities to look for him. While a finding of well-founded
belief varies with the nature of the situation in which the present spouse is
In Nolasco, the present spouse filed a petition for declaration of placed, under present conditions, we find it proper and prudent for a
presumptive death of his wife, who had been missing for more than four present spouse, whose spouse had been missing, to seek the aid of the
years. He testified that his efforts to find her consisted of: authorities or, at the very least, report his/her absence to the police.

(1) Searching for her whenever his ship docked in England; Third, she did not present as witnesses Jerry’s relatives or their neighbors
and friends, who can corroborate her efforts to locate Jerry. Worse, these
(2) Sending her letters which were all returned to him; and persons, from whom she allegedly made inquiries, were not even named.
As held in Nolasco, the present spouse’s bare assertion that he inquired
(3) Inquiring from their friends regarding her whereabouts, which all from his friends about his absent spouse’s whereabouts is insufficient as
proved fruitless. The Court ruled that the present spouse’s investigations the names of the friends from whom he made inquiries were not identified
were too sketchy to form a basis that his wife was already dead and ruled in the testimony nor presented as witnesses.
that the pieces of evidence only proved that his wife had chosen not to
communicate with their common acquaintances, and not that she was Lastly, there was no other corroborative evidence to support the
dead. respondent’s claim that she conducted a diligent search. Neither was there
supporting evidence proving that she had a well-founded belief other than
iv.The present case her bare claims that she inquired from her friends and in-laws about her
husband’s whereabouts. In sum, the Court is of the view that the
In the case at bar, the respondent’s "well-founded belief" was anchored on respondent merely engaged in a "passive search" where she relied on
her alleged "earnest efforts" to locate Jerry, which consisted of the uncorroborated inquiries from her in-laws, neighbors and friends. She
following: failed to conduct a diligent search because her alleged efforts are
insufficient to form a well-founded belief that her husband was already
(1) She made inquiries about Jerry’s whereabouts from her in-laws, dead. As held in Republic of the Philippines v. Court of Appeals (Tenth
neighbors and friends; and Div.),22 "[w]hether or not the spouse present acted on a well-founded
belief of death of the absent spouse depends upon the inquiries to be
(2) Whenever she went to a hospital, she saw to it that she looked through drawn from a great many circumstances occurring before and after the
the patients’ directory, hoping to find Jerry. disappearance of the absent spouse and the natureand extent of the
inquiries made by [the] present spouse."
These efforts, however, fell short of the "stringent standard" and degree of
diligence required by jurisprudence for the following reasons: Strict Standard Approach Is
Consistent with the State’s Policy
First, the respondent did not actively look for her missing husband. It can to Protect and Strengthen Marriage
be inferred from the records that her hospital visits and her consequent
In the above-cited cases, the Court, fully aware of the possible collusion of The requisite judicial declaration of presumptive death of the absent
spouses in nullifying their marriage, has consistently applied the spouse (and consequently, the application of a stringent standard for its
"strictstandard" approach. This is to ensure that a petition for declaration issuance) is also for the present spouse's benefit. It is intended to protect
of presumptive death under Article 41 of the Family Code is not used as a him/her from a criminal prosecution of bigamy under Article 349 of the
tool to conveniently circumvent the laws. Courts should never allow Revised Penal Code which might come into play if he/she would
procedural shortcuts and should ensure that the stricter standard required prematurely remarry sans the court's declaration.
by the Family Code is met. In Republic of the Philippines v. Court of Appeals
(Tenth Div.),23 we emphasized that: Upon the issuance of the decision declaring his/her absent spouse
presumptively dead, the present spouse's good faith in contracting a
In view of the summary nature of proceedings under Article 41 of the second marriage is effectively established. The decision of the competent
Family Code for the declaration of presumptive death of one’s spouse, the court constitutes sufficient proof of his/her good faith and his/her criminal
degree of due diligence set by this Honorable Court in the above- intent in case of remarriage is effectively negated.28 Thus, for purposes of
mentioned cases in locating the whereabouts of a missing spouse must be remarriage, it is necessary to strictly comply with the stringent standard
strictly complied with. There have been times when Article 41 of the Family and have the absent spouse judicially declared presumptively dead.
Code had been resorted to by parties wishing to remarry knowing fully well
that their alleged missing spouses are alive and well. It is even possible that Final Word
those who cannot have their marriages xxx declared null and void under
Article 36 of the Family Code resort to Article 41 of the Family Code for As a final word, it has not escaped this Court's attention that the strict
relief because of the xxx summary nature of its proceedings. standard required in petitions for declaration of presumptive death has not
been fully observed by the lower courts. We need only to cite the instances
The application of this stricter standard becomes even more imperative if when this Court, on review, has consistently ruled on the sanctity of
we consider the State’s policy to protect and strengthen the institution of marriage and reiterated that anything less than the use of the strict
marriage.24 Since marriage serves as the family’s foundation25 and since it standard necessitates a denial. To rectify this situation, lower courts are
is the state’s policy to protect and strengthen the family as a basic social now expressly put on notice of the strict standard this Court requires in
institution,26 marriage should not be permitted to be dissolved at the cases under Article 41 of the Family Code.
whim of the parties. In interpreting and applying Article 41, this is the
underlying rationale –to uphold the sanctity of marriage. Arroyo, Jr.v. Court WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the assailed decision dated August
of Appeals27 reflected this sentiment when we stressed: 27, 2008 of the Court of Appeals, which affirmed the order dated
December 15, 2006 of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 25, Koronadal City,
[The]protection of the basic social institutions of marriage and the family in South Cotabato, declaring Jerry F. Cantor presumptively dead is hereby
the preservation of which the State has the strongest interest; the public REVERSED and SET ASIDE.
policy here involved is of the most fundamental kind. In Article II, Section
12 of the Constitution there is set forth the following basic state policy: SO ORDERED.

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

Strict Standard Prescribed Under


Article 41 of the Family Code
Is for the Present Spouse’s Benefit
G.R. No. 187061, October 08, 2014

CELERINA J. SANTOS, Petitioner, v. RICARDO T. SANTOS, Respondent.

DECISION

LEONEN, J.:

The proper remedy for a judicial declaration of presumptive death


obtained by extrinsic fraud is an action to annul the judgment. An affidavit
of reappearance is not the proper remedy when the person declared
presumptively dead has never been absent.

This is a petition for review on certiorari filed by Celerina J. Santos, assailing


the Court of Appeals' resolutions dated November 28, 2008 and March 5,
2009. The Court of Appeals dismissed the petition for the annulment of the
trial court's judgment declaring her presumptively dead.

On July 27, 2007, the Regional Trial Court of Tarlac City declared petitioner
Celerina J. Santos (Celerina) presumptively dead after her husband,
respondent Ricardo T. Santos (Ricardo), had filed a petition for declaration
of absence or presumptive death for the purpose of remarriage on June
15, 2007.1 Ricardo remarried on September 17, 2008.2chanrobleslaw

In his petition for declaration of absence or presumptive death, Ricardo


alleged that he and Celerina rented an apartment somewhere in San Juan,
Metro Manila; after they had gotten married on June 18, 1980.3 After a
year, they moved to Tarlac City. They were engaged in the buy and sell
business.4chanrobleslaw

Ricardo claimed that their business did not prosper.5 As a result, Celerina
convinced him to allow her to work as a domestic helper in Hong Kong.6
Ricardo initially refused but because of Celerina's insistence, he allowed
her to work abroad.7 She allegedly applied in an employment agency in
Ermita, Manila, in February 1995. She left Tarlac two months after and was
never heard from again.8chanrobleslaw
Ricardo further alleged that he exerted efforts to locate Celerina.9 He went
to Celerina's parents in Cubao, Quezon City, but they, too, did not know The Court of Appeals issued the resolution dated November 28, 2008,
their daughter's whereabouts.10 He also inquired about her from other dismissing Celerina's petition for annulment of judgment for being a wrong
relatives and friends, but no one gave him any mode of remedy.27 According to the Court of Appeals, the proper remedy
information.11chanrobleslaw was to file a sworn statement before the civil registry, declaring her
reappearance in accordance with Article 42 of the Family
Ricardo claimed that it was almost 12 years from the date of his Regional Code.28chanrobleslaw
Trial Court petition since Celerina left. He believed that she had passed
away.12chanrobleslaw Celerina filed a motion for reconsideration of the Court of Appeals'
resolution dated November 28, 2008.29 The Court of Appeals denied the
Celerina claimed that she learned about Ricardo's petition only sometime motion for reconsideration in the resolution dated March 5,
in October 2008 when she could no longer avail the remedies of new trial, 2009.30chanrobleslaw
appeal, petition for relief, or other appropriate remedies.13chanrobleslaw
Hence, this petition was filed.
On November 17, 2008, Celerina filed a petition for annulment of
judgment14 before the Court of Appeals on the grounds of extrinsic fraud The issue for resolution is whether the Court of Appeals erred in dismissing
and lack of jurisdiction. She argued that she was deprived her day in court Celerina's petition for annulment of judgment for being a wrong remedy
when Ricardo, despite his knowledge of her true residence, misrepresented for a fraudulently obtained judgment declaring presumptive death.
to the court that she was a resident of Tarlac City.15 According to Celerina,
her true residence was in Neptune Extension, Congressional Avenue, Celerina argued that filing an affidavit of reappearance under Article 42 of
Quezon City.16 This residence had been her and Ricardo's conjugal the Family Code is appropriate only when the spouse is actually absent and
dwelling since 1989 until Ricardo left in May 2008.17 As a result of the spouse seeking the declaration of presumptive death actually has a
Ricardo's misrepresentation, she was deprived of any notice of and well-founded belief of the spouse's death.31 She added that it would be
opportunity to oppose the petition declaring her presumptively inappropriate to file an affidavit of reappearance if she did not disappear in
dead.18chanrobleslaw the first place.32 She insisted that an action for annulment of judgment is
proper when the declaration of presumptive death is obtained
Celerina claimed that she never resided in Tarlac. She also never left and fraudulently.33chanrobleslaw
worked as a domestic helper abroad.20 Neither did she go to an
employment agency in February 1995.21 She also claimed that it was not Celerina further argued that filing an affidavit of reappearance under
true that she had been absent for 12 years. Ricardo was aware that she Article 42 of the Family Code would not be a sufficient remedy because it
never left their conjugal dwelling in Quezon City.22 It was he who left the would not nullify the legal effects of the judgment declaring her
conjugal dwelling in May 2008 to cohabit with another woman.23 Celerina presumptive death.34chanrobleslaw
referred to a joint affidavit executed by their children to support her
contention that Ricardo made false allegations in his In Ricardo's comment,35 he argued that a petition for annulment of
petition.24chanrobleslaw judgment is not the proper remedy because it cannot be availed when
there are other remedies available. Celerina could always file an affidavit of
Celerina also argued that the court did not acquire jurisdiction over reappearance to terminate the subsequent marriage. Ricardo iterated the
Ricardo's petition because it had never been published in a newspaper.25 Court of Appeals' ruling that the remedy afforded to Celerina under Article
She added that the Office of the Solicitor General and the Provincial 42 of the Family Code is the appropriate remedy.
Prosecutor's Office were not furnished copies of Ricardo's
petition.26chanrobleslaw The petition is meritorious.
four-year period allowed by law in case of extrinsic fraud, and before the
Annulment of judgment is the remedy when the Regional Trial Court's action is barred by laches, which is the period allowed in case of lack of
judgment, order, or resolution has become final, and the "remedies of new jurisdiction.46chanrobleslaw
trial, appeal, petition for relief (or other appropriate remedies) are no
longer available through no fault of the petitioner."36chanrobleslaw There was also no other sufficient remedy available to Celerina at the time
of her discovery of the fraud perpetrated on her.
The grounds for annulment of judgment are extrinsic fraud and lack of
jurisdiction.37 This court defined extrinsic fraud in Stilianopulos v. City of The choice of remedy is important because remedies carry with them
Legaspi:38chanrobleslaw certain admissions, presumptions, and conditions.

For fraud to become a basis for annulment of judgment, it has to be The Family Code provides that it is the proof of absence of a spouse for
extrinsic or actual. It is intrinsic when the fraudulent acts pertain to an four consecutive years, coupled with a well-founded belief by the present
issue involved in the original action or where the acts constituting the fraud spouse that the absent spouse is already dead, that constitutes a
were or could have been litigated, It is extrinsic or collateral when a litigant justification for a second marriage during the subsistence of another
commits acts outside of the trial which prevents a parly from having a real marriage.47chanrobleslaw
contest, or from presenting all of his case, such that there is no fair
submission of the controversy.39 (Emphasis supplied) The Family Code also provides that the second marriage is in danger of
being terminated by the presumptively dead spouse when he or she
Celerina alleged in her petition for annulment of judgment that there was reappears. Thus:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
fraud when Ricardo deliberately made false allegations in the court with
respect to her residence.40 Ricardo also falsely claimed that she was Article 42. The subsequent marriage referred to in the preceding Article
absent for 12 years. There was also no publication of the notice of hearing shall be automatically terminated by the recording of the affidavit of
of Ricardo's petition in a newspaper of general circulation.41 Celerina reappearance of the absent spouse, unless there is a judgment annulling
claimed that because of these, she was deprived of notice and opportunity the previous marriage or declaring it void ab initio.
to oppose Ricardo's petition to declare her presumptively
dead.42chanrobleslaw A sworn statement of the fact and circumstances of reappearance shall be
recorded in the civil registry of the residence of the parties to the
Celerina alleged that all the facts supporting Ricardo's petition for subsequent marriage at the instance of any interested person, with due
declaration of presumptive death were false.43 Celerina further claimed notice to the spouses of the subsequent marriage and without prejudice to
that the court did not acquire jurisdiction because the Office of the the fact of reappearance being judicially determined in case such fact is
Solicitor General and the Provincial Prosecutor's Office were not given disputed. (Emphasis supplied)
copies of Ricardo's petition.44chanrobleslaw
In other words, the Family Code provides the presumptively dead spouse
These are allegations of extrinsic fraud and lack of jurisdiction. Celerina with the remedy of terminating the subsequent marriage by mere
alleged in her petition with the Court of Appeals sufficient ground/s for reappearance.
annulment of judgment.
The filing of an affidavit of reappearance is an admission on the part of the
Celerina filed her petition for annulment of judgment45 on November 17, first spouse that his or her marriage to the present spouse was terminated
2008. This was less than two years from the July 27, 2007 decision when he or she was declared absent or presumptively dead.
declaring her presumptively dead and about a month from her discovery of
the decision in October 2008. The petition was, therefore, filed within the
Moreover, a close reading of the entire Article 42 reveals that the presumption that the former spouse is dead, such presumption continues
termination of the subsequent marriage by reappearance is subject to inspite of the spouse's physical reappearance, and by fiction of law, he or
several conditions: (1) the non-existence of a judgment annulling the she must still be regarded as legally an absentee until the subsequent
previous marriage or declaring it void ab initio; (2) recording in the civil marriage is terminated as provided by law."54chanrobleslaw
registry of the residence of the parties to the subsequent marriage of the
sworn statement of fact and circumstances of reappearance; (3) due notice The choice of the proper remedy is also important for purposes of
to the spouses of the subsequent marriage of the fact of reappearance; determining the status of the second marriage and the liabilities of the
and (4) the fact of reappearance must either be undisputed or judicially spouse who, in bad faith, claimed that the other spouse was absent.
determined.
A second marriage is bigamous while the first subsists. However, a
The existence of these conditions means that reappearance does not bigamous subsequent marriage may be considered valid when the
always immediately cause the subsequent marriage's termination. following are present:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
Reappearance of the absent or presumptively dead spouse will cause the
termination of the subsequent marriage only when all the conditions 1)
enumerated in the Family Code are present. The prior spouse had been absent for four consecutive years;
2)
Hence, the subsequent marriage may still subsist despite the absent or The spouse present has a well-founded belief that the absent spouse was
presumptively dead spouse's reappearance (1) if the first marriage has already dead;
already been annulled or has been declared a nullity; (2) if the sworn 3)
statement of the reappearance is not recorded in the civil registry of the There must be a summary proceeding for the declaration of presumptive
subsequent spouses' residence; (3) if there is no notice to the subsequent death of the absent spouse; and
spouses; or (4) if the fact of reappearance is disputed in the proper courts 4)
of law, and no judgment is yet rendered confirming, such fact of There is a court declaration of presumptive death of the absent spouse.55
reappearance.
A subsequent marriage contracted in bad faith, even if it was contracted
When subsequent marriages are contracted after a judicial declaration of after a court declaration of presumptive death, lacks the requirement of a
presumptive death, a presumption arises that the first spouse is already well-founded belief56 that the spouse is already dead. The first marriage
dead and that the second marriage is legal. This presumption should will not be considered as. validly terminated. Marriages contracted prior to
prevail over the continuance of the marital relations with the first the valid termination of a subsisting marriage are generally considered
spouse.48 The second marriage, as with all marriages, is presumed valid.49 bigamous and void.57 Only a subsequent marriage contracted in good faith
The burden of proof to show that the first marriage was not properly is protected by law.
dissolved rests on the person assailing the validity of the second
marriage.50chanrobleslaw Therefore, the party who contracted the subsequent marriage in bad faith
is also not immune from an action to declare his subsequent marriage void
This court recognized the conditional nature of reappearance as a cause for for being bigamous. The prohibition against marriage during the
terminating the subsequent marriage in Social Security System v. Vda. de subsistence of another marriage still applies.58chanrobleslaw
Bailon.51 This court noted52 that mere reappearance will not terminate
the subsequent marriage even if the parties to the subsequent marriage If, as Celerina contends, Ricardo was in bad faith when he filed his petition
were notified if there was "no step . . . taken to terminate the subsequent to declare her presumptively dead and when he contracted the subsequent
marriage, either by [filing an] affidavit [of reappearance] or by court marriage, such marriage would be considered void for being bigamous
action[.]"53 "Since the second marriage has been contracted because of a under Article 35(4) of the Family Code. This is because the circumstances
lack the element of "well-founded belief under Article 41 of the Family reappearance would not suffice. Celerina's choice to file an action for
Code, which is essential for the exception to the rule against bigamous annulment of judgment will, therefore, lie.
marriages to apply.59chanrobleslaw
WHEREFORE, the case is REMANDED to the Court of Appeals for
The provision on reappearance in the Family Code as a remedy to effect determination of the existence of extrinsic fraud, grounds for
the termination of the subsequent marriage does not preclude the spouse nullity/annulment of the first marriage, and the merits of the petition.
who was declared presumptively dead from availing other remedies
existing in law. This court had, in fact, recognized that a subsequent SO ORDERED.cralawlawlibrary
marriage may also be terminated by filing "an action in court to prove the
reappearance of the absentee and obtain a declaration of dissolution or
termination of the subsequent marriage."60chanrobleslaw

Celerina does not admit to have been absent. She also seeks not merely
the termination of the subsequent marriage but also the nullification of its
effects. She contends that reappearance is not a sufficient remedy because
it will only terminate the subsequent marriage but not nullify the effects of
the declaration of her presumptive death and the subsequent marriage.

Celerina is correct. Since an undisturbed subsequent marriage under


Article 42 of the Family Code is valid until terminated, the "children of such
marriage shall be considered legitimate, and the property relations of the
spouse[s] in such marriage will be the same as in valid marriages."61 If it is
terminated by mere reappearance, the children of the subsequent
marriage conceived before the termination shall still be considered
legitimate.62 Moreover, a judgment declaring presumptive death is a
defense against prosecution for bigamy.63chanrobleslaw

It is true that in most cases, an action to declare the nullity of the


subsequent marriage may nullify the effects of the subsequent marriage,
specifically, in relation to the status of children and the prospect of
prosecuting a respondent for bigamy.

However, "a Petition for Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages


may be filed solely by the husband or wife."64 This means that even if
Celerina is a real party in interest who stands to be benefited or injured by
the outcome of an action to nullify the second marriage,65 this remedy is
not available to her.

Therefore, for the purpose of not only terminating the subsequent


marriage but also of nullifying the effects of the declaration of presumptive
death and the subsequent marriage, mere filing of an affidavit of
G.R. No. 179620 August 26, 2008

MANUEL G. ALMELOR, petitioner,


vs.
THE HON. REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF LAS PIÑAS CITY, BRANCH 254, and
LEONIDA T. ALMELOR, respondents.

DECISION

REYES, R.T., J.:

MARRIAGE, in its totality, involves the spouses' right to the community of


their whole lives. It likewise involves a true intertwining of personalities.1

This is a petition for review on certiorari of the Decision2 of the Court of


Appeals (CA) denying the petition for annulment of judgment and affirming
in toto the decision of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Las Piñas, Branch 254.
The CA dismissed outright the Rule 47 petition for being the wrong remedy.

The Facts

Petitioner Manuel G. Almelor (Manuel) and respondent Leonida Trinidad


(Leonida) were married on January 29, 1989 at the Manila Cathedral.3
Their union bore three children: (1) Maria Paulina Corinne, born on
October 20, 1989; (2) Napoleon Manuel, born on August 9, 1991; and (3)
Manuel Homer, born on July 4, 1994.4 Manuel and Leonida are both
medical practitioners, an anesthesiologist and a pediatrician, respectively.5

After eleven (11) years of marriage, Leonida filed a petition with the RTC in
Las Piñas City to annul their marriage on the ground that Manuel was
psychologically incapacitated to perform his marital obligations. The case,
docketed as LP-00-0132 was raffled off to Branch 254.

During the trial, Leonida testified that she first met Manuel in 1981 at the
San Lazaro Hospital where they worked as medical student clerks. At that
time, she regarded Manuel as a very thoughtful person who got along well
with other people. They soon became sweethearts. Three years after, they
got married.6
other words, he and her family have competing or rival hospitals in the
Leonida averred that Manuel's kind and gentle demeanor did not last long. same vicinity.
In the public eye, Manuel was the picture of a perfect husband and father.
This was not the case in his private life. At home, Leonida described Manuel belied her allegation that he was a cruel father to their children. He
Manuel as a harsh disciplinarian, unreasonably meticulous, easily angered. denied maltreating them. At most, he only imposed the necessary
Manuel's unreasonable way of imposing discipline on their children was discipline on the children.
the cause of their frequent fights as a couple.7 Leonida complained that
this was in stark contrast to the alleged lavish affection Manuel has for his He also defended his show of affection for his mother. He said there was
mother. Manuel's deep attachment to his mother and his dependence on nothing wrong for him to return the love and affection of the person who
her decision-making were incomprehensible to Leonida.8 reared and looked after him and his siblings. This is especially apt now that
his mother is in her twilight years.18 Manuel pointed out that Leonida
Further adding to her woes was his concealment to her of his found fault in this otherwise healthy relationship because of her very
homosexuality. Her suspicions were first aroused when she noticed jealous and possessive nature.19
Manuel's peculiar closeness to his male companions. For instance, she
caught him in an indiscreet telephone conversation manifesting his This same overly jealous behavior of Leonida drove Manuel to avoid the
affection for a male caller.9 She also found several pornographic company of female friends. He wanted to avoid any further
homosexual materials in his possession.10 Her worse fears were confirmed misunderstanding with his wife. But, Leonida instead conjured up stories
when she saw Manuel kissed another man on the lips. The man was a about his sexual preference. She also fabricated tales about pornographic
certain Dr. Nogales.11 When she confronted Manuel, he denied everything. materials found in his possession to cast doubt on his masculinity.20
At this point, Leonida took her children and left their conjugal abode. Since
then, Manuel stopped giving support to their children.12 To corroborate his version, he presented his brother, Jesus G. Almelor. Jesus
narrated that he usually stayed at Manuel's house during his weekly trips
Dr. Valentina del Fonso Garcia, a clinical psychologist, was presented to to Manila from Iriga City. He was a witness to the generally harmonious
prove Leonida's claim. Dr. del Fonso Garcia testified that she conducted relationship between his brother Manuel and sister-in-law, Leonida. True,
evaluative interviews and a battery of psychiatric tests on Leonida. She also they had some quarrels typical of a husband and wife relationship. But
had a one-time interview with Manuel and face-to-face interviews with there was nothing similar to what Leonida described in her testimony.21
Ma. Paulina Corrinne (the eldest child).13 She concluded that Manuel is
psychologically incapacitated.14 Such incapacity is marked by antecedence; Jesus further testified that he was with his brother on the day Leonida
it existed even before the marriage and appeared to be incurable. allegedly saw Manuel kissed another man. He denied that such an incident
occurred. On that particular date,22 he and Manuel went straight home
Manuel, for his part, admitted that he and Leonida had some petty from a trip to Bicol. There was no other person with them at that time,
arguments here and there. He, however, maintained that their marital except their driver.23
relationship was generally harmonious. The petition for annulment filed by
Leonida came as a surprise to him. Manuel expressed his intention to refute Dr. del Fonso Garcia's findings by
presenting his own expert witness. However, no psychiatrist was presented.
Manuel countered that the true cause of Leonida's hostility against him
was their professional rivalry. It began when he refused to heed the RTC Disposition
memorandum15 released by Christ the King Hospital. The memorandum
ordered him to desist from converting his own lying-in clinic to a primary or By decision dated November 25, 2005, the RTC granted the petition for
secondary hospital.16 Leonida's family owns Christ the King Hospital which annulment, with the following disposition:
is situated in the same subdivision as Manuel's clinic and residence.17 In
WHEREFORE, premised on the foregoing, judgment is hereby rendered: Article 55, par. 6, Family Code]. This is of course in recognition of the
biological fact that no matter how a man cheats himself that he is not a
1. Declaring the marriage contracted by herein parties on 29 January 1989 homosexual and forces himself to live a normal heterosexual life, there will
and all its effects under the law null and void from the beginning; surely come a time when his true sexual preference as a homosexual shall
prevail in haunting him and thus jeopardizing the solidity, honor, and
2. Dissolving the regime of community property between the same parties welfare of his own family.25
with forfeiture of defendant's share thereon in favor of the same parties'
children whose legal custody is awarded to plaintiff with visitorial right Manuel filed a notice of appeal which was, however, denied due course.
afforded to defendant; Undaunted, he filed a petition for annulment of judgment with the CA.26

3. Ordering the defendant to give monthly financial support to all the Manuel contended that the assailed decision was issued in excess of the
children; and lower court's jurisdiction; that it had no jurisdiction to dissolve the
absolute community of property and forfeit his conjugal share in favor of
4. Pursuant to the provisions of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC: his children.

a. Directing the Branch Clerk of this Court to enter this Judgment upon its CA Disposition
finality in the Book of Entry of Judgment and to issue an Entry of Judgment
in accordance thereto; and On July 31, 2007, the CA denied the petition, disposing as follows:

b. Directing the Local Civil Registrars of Las Piñas City and Manila City to WHEREFORE, the present Petition for Annulment of Judgment is hereby
cause the registration of the said Entry of Judgment in their respective DENIED. The Court AFFIRMS in toto the Decision (dated November 25,
Books of Marriages. 2005) of the Regional Trial Court (Branch 254), in Las Piñas City, in Civil Case
No. LP-00-0132. No costs.27
Upon compliance, a decree of nullity of marriage shall be issued.
The CA stated that petitioner pursued the wrong remedy by filing the
SO ORDERED.24 (Emphasis supplied) extraordinary remedy of petition for annulment of judgment. Said the
appellate court:
The trial court nullified the marriage, not on the ground of Article 36, but
Article 45 of the Family Code. It ratiocinated: It is obvious that the petitioner is questioning the propriety of the decision
rendered by the lower Court. But the remedy assuming there was a
x x x a careful evaluation and in-depth analysis of the surrounding mistake is not a Petition for Annulment of Judgment but an ordinary
circumstances of the allegations in the complaint and of the evidence appeal. An error of judgment may be reversed or corrected only by appeal.
presented in support thereof (sic) reveals that in this case (sic) there is
more than meets the eyes (sic). What petitioner is ascribing is an error of judgment, not of jurisdiction,
which is properly the subject of an ordinary appeal.
Both legally and biologically, homosexuality x x x is, indeed, generally
incompatible with hetero sexual marriage. This is reason enough that in In short, petitioner admits the jurisdiction of the lower court but he claims
this jurisdiction (sic) the law recognizes marriage as a special contract excess in the exercise thereof. "Excess" assuming there was is not covered
exclusively only between a man and a woman x x x and thus when by Rule 47 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure. The Rule refers the lack of
homosexuality has trespassed into marriage, the same law provides ample jurisdiction and not the exercise thereof.28
remedies to correct the situation [Article 45(3) in relation to Article 46(4) or
Issues Appeals,33 this Court clarified the proper appreciation for technical rules of
procedure, in this wise:
Petitioner Manuel takes the present recourse via Rule 45, assigning to the
CA the following errors: Rules of procedures are intended to promote, not to defeat, substantial
justice and, therefore, they should not be applied in a very rigid and
I technical sense. The exception is that while the Rules are liberally
construed, the provisions with respect to the rules on the manner and
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN NOT TREATING THE periods for perfecting appeals are strictly applied. As an exception to the
PETITION FOR ANNULMENT OF JUDGMENT AS A PETITION FOR REVIEW IN exception, these rules have sometimes been relaxed on equitable
VIEW OF THE IMPORTANCE OF THE ISSUES INVOLVED AND IN THE considerations. Also, in some cases the Supreme Court has given due
INTEREST OF JUSTICE; course to an appeal perfected out of time where a stringent application of
the rules would have denied it, but only when to do so would serve the
II demands of substantial justice and in the exercise of equity jurisdiction of
the Supreme Court.34 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN UPHOLDING THE DECISION
OF THE TRIAL COURT AS REGARDS THE ORDER DECLARING THE MARRIAGE For reasons of justice and equity, this Court has allowed exceptions to the
AS NULL AND VOID ON THE GROUND OF PETITIONER'S PSYCHOLOGICAL stringent rules governing appeals.35 It has, in the past, refused to sacrifice
INCAPACITY; justice for technicality.36

III After discovering the palpable error of his petition, Manuel seeks the
indulgence of this Court to consider his petition before the CA instead as a
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN UPHOLDING THE DECISION petition for certiorari under Rule 65.
OF THE TRIAL COURT AS REGARDS THE ORDER TO FORFEIT THE SHARE OF
PETITIONER IN HIS SHARE OF THE CONJUGAL ASSETS.29 A perusal of the said petition reveals that Manuel imputed grave abuse of
discretion to the lower court for annulling his marriage on account of his
Our Ruling alleged homosexuality. This is not the first time that this Court is faced with
a similar situation. In Nerves v. Civil Service Commission,37 petitioner Delia
I. The stringent rules of procedures may be relaxed to serve the demands R. Nerves elevated to the CA a Civil Service Commission (CSC) decision
of substantial justice and in the Court's exercise of equity jurisdiction. suspending her for six (6) months. The CSC ruled Nerves, a public school
teacher, is deemed to have already served her six-month suspension during
Generally, an appeal taken either to the Supreme Court or the CA by the the pendency of the case. Nevertheless, she is ordered reinstated without
wrong or inappropriate mode shall be dismissed.30 This is to prevent the back wages. On appeal, Nerves stated in her petition, inter alia:
party from benefiting from one's neglect and mistakes. However, like most
rules, it carries certain exceptions. After all, the ultimate purpose of all 1. This is a petition for certiorari filed pursuant to Article IX-A, Section 7 of
rules of procedures is to achieve substantial justice as expeditiously as the Constitution of the Philippines and under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court.
possible.31
2. But per Supreme Court Revised Administrative Circular No. 1-95 (Revised
Annulment of judgment under Rule 47 is a last remedy. It can not be Circular No. 1-91) petitioner is filing the instant petition with this
resorted to if the ordinary remedies are available or no longer available Honorable Court instead of the Supreme Court.38 (Underscoring supplied)
through no fault of petitioner.32 However, in Buenaflor v. Court of
The CA dismissed Nerves' petition for certiorari for being the wrong Measured by the foregoing yardstick, justice will be better served by giving
remedy or the inappropriate mode of appeal.39 The CA opined that "under due course to the present petition and treating petitioner's CA petition as
the Supreme Court Revised Administrative Circular No. 1-95 x x x appeals one for certiorari under Rule 65, considering that what is at stake is the
from judgments or final orders or resolutions of CSC is by a petition for validity or non-validity of a marriage.
review."40
In Salazar v. Court of Appeals,44 citing Labad v. University of Southeastern
This Court granted Nerves petition and held that she had substantially Philippines, this Court reiterated:
complied with the Administrative Circular. The Court stated:
x x x The dismissal of appeals on purely technical grounds is frowned upon.
That it was erroneously labeled as a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of While the right to appeal is a statutory, not a natural right, nonetheless it is
the Rules of Court is only a minor procedural lapse, not fatal to the appeal. an essential part of our judicial system and courts should proceed with
xxx caution so as not to deprive a party of the right to appeal, but rather,
ensure that every party-litigant has the amplest opportunity for the proper
More importantly, the appeal on its face appears to be impressed with and just disposition of his cause, free from the constraints of
merit. Hence, the Court of Appeals should have overlooked the technicalities.45
insubstantial defects of the petition x x x in order to do justice to the
parties concerned. There is, indeed, nothing sacrosanct about procedural Indeed, it is far better and more prudent for a court to excuse a technical
rules, which should be liberally construed in order to promote their object lapse and afford the parties a review of the case on the merits to attain the
and assist the parties in obtaining just, speedy, and inexpensive ends of justice.46
determination of every action or proceeding. As it has been said, where the
rigid application of the rules would frustrate substantial justice, or bar the Furthermore, it was the negligence and incompetence of Manuel's counsel
vindication of a legitimate grievance, the courts are justified in exempting a that prejudiced his right to appeal. His counsel, Atty. Christine Dugenio,
particular case from the operation of the rules.41 (Underscoring supplied) repeatedly availed of inappropriate remedies. After the denial of her notice
of appeal, she failed to move for reconsideration or new trial at the first
Similarly, in the more recent case of Tan v. Dumarpa,42 petitioner Joy G. instance. She also erroneously filed a petition for annulment of judgment
Tan availed of a wrong remedy by filing a petition for review on certiorari rather than pursue an ordinary appeal.
instead of a motion for new trial or an ordinary appeal. In the interest of
justice, this Court considered the petition, pro hac vice, as a petition for These manifest errors were clearly indicative of counsel's incompetence.
certiorari under Rule 65. These gravely worked to the detriment of Manuel's appeal. True it is that
the negligence of counsel binds the client. Still, this Court has recognized
This Court found that based on Tan's allegations, the trial court prima facie certain exceptions: (1) where reckless or gross negligence of counsel
committed grave abuse of discretion in rendering a judgment by default. If deprives the client of due process of law; (2) when its application will result
uncorrected, it will cause petitioner great injustice. The Court elucidated in in outright deprivation of the client's liberty and property; or (3) where the
this wise: interest of justice so require.47

Indeed, where as here, there is a strong showing that grave miscarriage of The negligence of Manuel's counsel falls under the exceptions. Ultimately,
justice would result from the strict application of the Rules, we will not the reckless or gross negligence of petitioner's former counsel led to the
hesitate to relax the same in the interest of substantial justice.43 loss of his right to appeal. He should not be made to suffer for his counsel's
(Underscoring supplied) grave mistakes. Higher interests of justice and equity demand that he be
allowed to ventilate his case in a higher court.
In Apex Mining, Inc. v. Court of Appeals,48 this Court explained thus: The trial court declared that Leonida's petition for nullity had "no basis at
all because the supporting grounds relied upon can not legally make a case
It is settled that the negligence of counsel binds the client. This is based on under Article 36 of the Family Code." It went further by citing Republic v.
the rule that any act performed by a counsel within the scope of his Molina:54
general or implied authority is regarded as an act of his client. However,
where counsel is guilty of gross ignorance, negligence and dereliction of Indeed, mere allegations of conflicting personalities, irreconcilable
duty, which resulted in the client's being held liable for damages in a differences, incessant quarrels and/or beatings, unpredictable mood
damage suit, the client is deprived of his day in court and the judgment swings, infidelities, vices, abandonment, and difficulty, neglect, or failure in
may be set aside on such ground. In the instant case, higher interests of the performance of some marital obligations do not suffice to establish
justice and equity demand that petitioners be allowed to present evidence psychological incapacity.55
on their defense. Petitioners may not be made to suffer for the lawyer's
mistakes. This Court will always be disposed to grant relief to parties If so, the lower court should have dismissed outright the petition for not
aggrieved by perfidy, fraud, reckless inattention and downright meeting the guidelines set in Molina. What Leonida attempted to
incompetence of lawyers, which has the consequence of depriving their demonstrate were Manuel's homosexual tendencies by citing overt acts
clients, of their day in court.49 (Emphasis supplied) generally predominant among homosexual individuals.56 She wanted to
prove that the perceived homosexuality rendered Manuel incapable of
Clearly, this Court has the power to except a particular case from the fulfilling the essential marital obligations.
operation of the rule whenever the demands of justice require it. With
more conviction should it wield such power in a case involving the But instead of dismissing the petition, the trial court nullified the marriage
sacrosanct institution of marriage. This Court is guided with the thrust of between Manuel and Leonida on the ground of vitiated consent by virtue
giving a party the fullest opportunity to establish the merits of one's of fraud. In support of its conclusion, the lower court reasoned out:
action.50
As insinuated by the State (p. 75, TSN, 15 December 2003), when there is
The client was likewise spared from counsel's negligence in Government smoke surely there is fire. Although vehemently denied by defendant,
Service Insurance System v. Bengson Commercial Buildings, Inc.51 and there is preponderant evidence enough to establish with certainty that
Ancheta v. Guersey-Dalaygon.52 Said the Court in Bengson: defendant is really a homosexual. This is the fact that can be deduced from
the totality of the marriage life scenario of herein parties.
But if under the circumstances of the case, the rule deserts its proper office
as an aid to justice and becomes a great hindrance and chief enemy, its Before his marriage, defendant knew very well that people around him
rigors must be relaxed to admit exceptions thereto and to prevent a even including his own close friends doubted his true sexual preference
miscarriage of justice. In other words, the court has the power to except a (TSN, pp. 35-36, 13 December 2000; pp. 73-75, 15 December 2003). After
particular case from the operation of the rule whenever the purposes of receiving many forewarnings, plaintiff told defendant about the rumor she
justice require it.53 heard but defendant did not do anything to prove to the whole world once
and for all the truth of all his denials. Defendant threatened to sue those
II. Concealment of homosexuality is the proper ground to annul a marriage, people but nothing happened after that. There may have been more
not homosexuality per se. important matters to attend to than to waste time and effort filing cases
against and be effected by these people and so, putting more premiums on
Manuel is a desperate man determined to salvage what remains of his defendant's denials, plaintiff just the same married him. Reasons upon
marriage. Persistent in his quest, he fought back all the heavy accusations reasons may be advanced to either exculpate or nail to the cross defendant
of incapacity, cruelty, and doubted masculinity thrown at him. for his act of initially concealing his homosexuality to plaintiff, but in the
end, only one thing is certain - even during his marriage with plaintiff, the
smoke of doubt about his real preference continued and even got thicker, Consent is an essential requisite of a valid marriage. To be valid, it must be
reason why obviously defendant failed to establish a happy and solid freely given by both parties. An allegation of vitiated consent must be
family; and in so failing, plaintiff and their children became his innocent proven by preponderance of evidence. The Family Code has enumerated
and unwilling victims. an exclusive list of circumstances61 constituting fraud. Homosexuality per
se is not among those cited, but its concealment.
Yes, there is nothing untoward of a man if, like herein defendant, he is
meticulous over even small details in the house (sic) like wrongly folded This distinction becomes more apparent when we go over the
bed sheets, etc. or if a man is more authoritative in knowing what clothes deliberations62 of the Committees on the Civil Code and Family Law, to wit:
or jewelry shall fit his wife (pp. 77-81, TSN, 15 December 2003); but these
admissions of defendant taken in the light of evidence presented Justice Caguioa remarked that this ground should be eliminated in the
apparently showing that he had extra fondness of his male friends (sic) to provision on the grounds for legal separation. Dean Gupit, however,
the extent that twice on separate occasions (pp. 4-7, TSN, 14 February pointed out that in Article 46, they are talking only of "concealment," while
2001) he was allegedly seen by plaintiff kissing another man lips-to-lips in the article on legal separation, there is actuality. Judge Diy added that in
plus the homosexual magazines and tapes likewise allegedly discovered legal separation, the ground existed after the marriage, while in Article 46,
underneath his bed (Exhibits "L" and "M"), the doubt as to his real sex the ground existed at the time of the marriage. Justice Reyes suggested
identity becomes stronger. The accusation of plaintiff versus thereof of that, for clarity, they add the phrase "existing at the time of the marriage"
defendant may be the name of the game in this case; but the simple reason at the end of subparagraph (4). The Committee approved the suggestion.63
of professional rivalry advanced by the defendant is certainly not enough
to justify and obscure the question why plaintiff should accuse him of such To reiterate, homosexuality per se is only a ground for legal separation. It is
a very untoward infidelity at the expense and humiliation of their children its concealment that serves as a valid ground to annul a marriage.64
and family as a whole.57 Concealment in this case is not simply a blanket denial, but one that is
constitutive of fraud. It is this fundamental element that respondent failed
Evidently, no sufficient proof was presented to substantiate the allegations to prove.
that Manuel is a homosexual and that he concealed this to Leonida at the
time of their marriage. The lower court considered the public perception of In the United States, homosexuality has been considered as a basis for
Manuel's sexual preference without the corroboration of witnesses. Also, it divorce. It indicates that questions of sexual identity strike so deeply at one
took cognizance of Manuel's peculiarities and interpreted it against his of the basic elements of marriage, which is the exclusive sexual bond
sexuality. between the spouses.65 In Crutcher v. Crutcher,66 the Court held:

Even assuming, ex gratia argumenti, that Manuel is a homosexual, the Unnatural practices of the kind charged here are an infamous indignity to
lower court cannot appreciate it as a ground to annul his marriage with the wife, and which would make the marriage relation so revolting to her
Leonida. The law is clear - a marriage may be annulled when the consent of that it would become impossible for her to discharge the duties of a wife,
either party was obtained by fraud,58 such as concealment of and would defeat the whole purpose of the relation. In the natural course
homosexuality.59 Nowhere in the said decision was it proven by of things, they would cause mental suffering to the extent of affecting her
preponderance of evidence that Manuel was a homosexual at the onset of health.67
his marriage and that he deliberately hid such fact to his wife.60 It is the
concealment of homosexuality, and not homosexuality per se, that vitiates However, although there may be similar sentiments here in the Philippines,
the consent of the innocent party. Such concealment presupposes bad faith the legal overtones are significantly different. Divorce is not recognized in
and intent to defraud the other party in giving consent to the marriage. the country. Homosexuality and its alleged incompatibility to a healthy
heterosexual life are not sanctioned as grounds to sever the marriage bond
in our jurisdiction. At most, it is only a ground to separate from bed and x x x The failure to cohabit becomes relevant only if it arises as a result of
board. the perpetration of any of the grounds for annulling the marriage, such as
lack of parental consent, insanity, fraud, intimidation, or undue influence x
What was proven in the hearings a quo was a relatively blissful marital x x. Since the appellant failed to justify his failure to cohabit with the
union for more than eleven (11) years, which produced three (3) children. appellee on any of these grounds, the validity of his marriage must be
The burden of proof to show the nullity of the marriage rests on Leonida. upheld.69
Sadly, she failed to discharge this onus.
Verily, the lower court committed grave abuse of discretion, not only by
The same failure to prove fraud which purportedly resulted to a vitiated solely taking into account petitioner's homosexuality per se and not its
marital consent was found in Villanueva v. Court of Appeals.68 In concealment, but by declaring the marriage void from its existence.
Villanueva, instead of proving vitiation of consent, appellant resorted to
baseless portrayals of his wife as a perpetrator of fraudulent schemes. Said This Court is mindful of the constitutional policy to protect and strengthen
the Court: the family as the basic autonomous social institution and marriage as the
foundation of the family.70 The State and the public have vital interest in
Factual findings of the Court of Appeals, especially if they coincide with the maintenance and preservation of these social institutions against
those of the trial court, as in the instant case, are generally binding on this desecration by fabricated evidence.71 Thus, any doubt should be resolved
Court. We affirm the findings of the Court of Appeals that petitioner freely in favor of the validity of marriage.
and voluntarily married private respondent and that no threats or
intimidation, duress or violence compelled him to do so, thus - III. In a valid marriage, the husband and wife jointly administer and enjoy
their community or conjugal property.
Appellant anchored his prayer for the annulment of his marriage on the
ground that he did not freely consent to be married to the appellee. He Article 96 of the Family Code, on regimes of absolute community property,
cited several incidents that created on his mind a reasonable and well- provides:
grounded fear of an imminent and grave danger to his life and safety. x x x
Art. 96. The administration and enjoyment of the community property shall
The Court is not convinced that appellant's apprehension of danger to his belong to both spouses jointly. In case of disagreement, the husband's
person is so overwhelming as to deprive him of the will to enter voluntarily decision shall prevail, subject to recourse to the court by the wife for a
to a contract of marriage. It is not disputed that at the time he was proper remedy, which must be availed of within five years from the date of
allegedly being harassed, appellant worked as a security guard in a bank. the contract implementing such decision.
Given the rudiments of self-defense, or, at the very least, the proper way to
keep himself out of harm's way. x x x In the event that one spouse is incapacitated or otherwise unable to
participate in the administration of the common properties, the other
Appellant also invoked fraud to annul his marriage, as he was made to spouse may assume sole powers of administration. These powers do not
believe by appellee that the latter was pregnant with his child when they include the powers of disposition or encumbrance without the authority of
were married. Appellant's excuse that he could not have impregnated the the court or the written consent of the other spouse. In the absence of
appellee because he did not have an erection during their tryst is flimsy at such authority or consent, the disposition or encumbrance shall be void.
best, and an outright lie at worst. The complaint is bereft of any reference However, the transaction shall be construed as a continuing offer on the
to his inability to copulate with the appellee. x x x part of the consenting spouse and the third person, and may be perfected
as a binding contract upon the acceptance by the other spouse or
xxxx authorization by the court before the offer is withdrawn by either or both
offerors.
A similar provision, Article 12472 prescribes joint administration and
enjoyment in a regime of conjugal partnership. In a valid marriage, both FELIX, J.:
spouses exercise administration and enjoyment of the property regime,
jointly. This is a case for legal separation filed in the Court of First Instance of
Pangasinan wherein on motion of the defendant, the case was dismissed.
In the case under review, the RTC decreed a dissolution of the community The order of dismissal was appealed to the Court of Appeals, but said
property of Manuel and Leonida. In the same breath, the trial court Tribunal certified the case to the Court on the ground that there is
forfeited Manuel's share in favor of the children. Considering that the absolutely no question of fact involved, the motion being predicated on the
marriage is upheld valid and subsisting, the dissolution and forfeiture of assumption as true of the very facts testified to by plaintiff-husband.
Manuel's share in the property regime is unwarranted. They remain the
joint administrators of the community property. The facts of the case abridgedly stated are as follows: Benjamin Bugayong,
a serviceman in the United States Navy, was married to defendant Leonila
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The appealed Decision is REVERSED Ginez on August 27, 1949, at Asingan, Pangasinan, while on furlough leave.
and SET ASIDE and the petition in the trial court to annul the marriage is Immediately after their marriage, the couple lived with their sisters who
DISMISSED. later moved to Sampaloc, Manila. After some time, or about July, 1951,
Leonila Ginez left the dwelling of her sister-in-law and informed her
SO ORDERED. husband by letter that she had gone to reside with her mother in Asingan,
Pangasinan, from which place she later moved to Dagupan City to study in
a local college there.

As early as July, 1951, Benjamin Bugayong began receiving letters from


Valeriana Polangco (plaintiff's sister-in-law) and some from anonymous
writers(which were not produced at the hearing) informing him of alleged
acts of infidelity of his wife which he did not even care to mention. On
cross-examination, plaintiff admitted that his wife also informed him by
letter, which she claims to have destroyed, that a certain "Eliong" kissed
her. All these communications prompted him in October, 1951 to seek the
advice of the Navy Chaplain as to the propriety of a legal separation
between him and his wife on account of the latter's alleged acts of
infidelity, and he was directed to consult instead the navy legal
department.
G.R. No. L-10033 December 28, 1956
In August, 1952, plaintiff went to Asingan, Pangasinan, and sought for his
BENJAMIN BUGAYONG, plaintiff-appellant, wife whom he met in the house of one Mrs. Malalang, defendant's
vs. godmother. She came along with him and both proceeded to the house of
LEONILA GINEZ, defendant-appellee. Pedro Bugayong, a cousin of the plaintiff-husband, where they stayed and
lived for 2 nights and 1 day as husband and wife. Then they repaired to the
Florencio Dumapias for appellant. plaintiff's house and again passed the night therein as husband and wife.
Numeriano Tanopo, Jr. for appellee. On the second day, Benjamin Bugayong tried to verify from his wife the
truth of the information he received that she had committed adultery but
Leonila, instead of answering his query, merely packed up and left, which
he took as a confirmation of the acts of infidelity imputed on her. After that The Civil Code provides:
and despite such belief, plaintiff exerted efforts to locate her and failing to
find her, he went to Bacarra, Ilocos Norte, "to soothe his wounded ART. 97. A petition for legal separation may be filed:
feelings".
(1) For adultery on the part of the wife and for concubinage for the
On November 18, 1952, Benjamin Bugayong filed in the Court of First part of the husband as defined on the Penal Code; or
Instance of Pangasinan a complaint for legal separation against his wife,
Leonila Ginez, who timely filed an answer vehemently denying the (2) An attempt by one spouse against the life of the other.
averments of the complaint and setting up affirmative defenses. After the
issues were joined and convinced that a reconciliation was not possible, ART. 100. The legal separation may be claimed only by the innocent
the court set the case for hearing on June 9, 1953. Plaintiff's counsel spouse, provided there has been no condonation of or consent to the
announced that he was to present 6 witnesses but after plaintiff-husband adultery or concubinage. Where both spouses are offenders, a legal
finished testifying in his favor, counsel for the defendant orally moved for separation cannot by either of them. Collusion between the parties to
the dismissal of the complaint, but the Court ordered him to file a written obtain legal separation shall cause the dismissal of the petition.
motion to that effect and gave plaintiff 10 days to answer the same.
ART. 102. An action for legal separation cannot be filed except
The motion to dismiss was predicted on the following grounds: (1) within one year from and after the date on which the plaintiff became
Assuming arguendo the truth of the allegations of the commission of "acts cognizant of the cause and within five years from and after the date when
of rank infidelity amounting to adultery", the cause of action, if any, is such cause occurred.
barred by the statute of limitations; (2) That under the same assumption,
the act charged have been condoned by the plaintiff-husband; and (3) That As the only reason of the lower Court for dismissing the action was the
the complaint failed to state a cause of action sufficient for this court to alleged condonation of the charges of adultery that the plaintiff-husband
render a valid judgment. had preferred in the complaint against his wife, We will disregard the other
2 grounds of the motion to dismiss, as anyway they have not been raised in
The motion to dismiss was answered by plaintiff and the Court, considering appellant's assignment of errors.
only the second ground of the motion to dismiss i. e., condonation,
ordered the dismissal of the action. After the motion for reconsideration Condonation is the forgiveness of a marital offense constituting a ground
filed by plaintiff was denied, the case was taken up for review to the Court for legal separation or, as stated in I Bouver's Law Dictionary, p. 585,
of Appeals, appellant's counsel maintaining that the lower court erred: condonation is the "conditional forgiveness or remission, by a husband or
wife of a matrimonial offense which the latter has committed". It is to be
(a) In so prematurely dismissing the case; noted, however, that in defendant's answer she vehemently and vigorously
denies having committed any act of infidelity against her husband, and
(b) In finding that there were condonation on the part of plaintiff- even if We were to give full weight to the testimony of the plaintiff, who
appellant; and was the only one that had the chance of testifying in Court and link such
evidence with the averments of the complaint, We would have to conclude
(c) In entertaining condonation as a ground for dismissal inasmuch as that the facts appearing on the record are far from sufficient to establish
same was not raised in the answer or in a motion to dismiss. the charge of adultery, or, as the complaint states, of "acts of rank infidelity
amounting to adultery" preferred against the defendant. Certainly, the
As the questions raised in the brief were merely questions of law, the Court letter that plaintiff claims to have received from his sister-in-law Valeriana
of Appeals certified the case to Superiority. Polangco, which must have been too vague and indefinite as to defendant's
infidelity to deserve its production in evidence; nor the anonymous letters
which plaintiff also failed to present; nor the alleged letter that, according Q. That night when you stayed in the house of your cousin Pedro Bugayong
to plaintiff, his wife addressed to him admitting that she had been kissed by as husband and wife, did you slept together? — A. Yes, sir. (p. 19, t.s.n.)
one Eliong, whose identity was not established and which admission
defendant had no opportunity to deny because the motion to dismiss was Q. On the next night, when you slept in your own house, did you sleep
filed soon after plaintiff finished his testimony in Court, do not amount to together also as husband and wife? — A. Yes, sir. (p. 19. t.s.n.)
anything that can be relied upon.
Q. When was that? — A. That was in August, 1952. (p. 19 t.s.n.)
But this is not a question at issue. In this appeal, We have to consider
plaintiff's line of conduct under the assumption that he really believed his Q. How many nights did you sleep together as husband and wife? — A.
wife guilty of adultery. What did he do in such state of mind. In August, Only two nights. (p. 19, t.s.n.)
1952, he went to Pangasinan and looked for his wife and after finding her
they lived together as husband and wife for 2 nights and 1 day, after which The New Civil Code of the Philippines, in its Art. 97, says:
he says that he tried to verify from her the truth of the news he had about
her infidelity, but failed to attain his purpose because his wife, instead of A petition for legal separation may be filed:
answering his query on the matter, preferred to desert him, probably
enraged for being subjected to such humiliation. And yet he tried to locate (1) For adultery on the part of the wife and concubinage on the part
her, though in vain. Now, do the husband's attitude of sleeping with his of the husband as defined on the Penal Code.
wife for 2 nights despite his alleged belief that she was unfaithful to him,
amount to a condonation of her previous and supposed adulterous acts? In and in its Art. 100 it says:lawphil.net
the order appealed from, the Court a quo had the following to say on this
point: The legal separation may be claimed only by the innocent spouse, provided
there has been no condonation of or consent to the adultery or
In the hearing of the case, the plaintiff further testified as follows: concubinage. Where both spouses are offenders, legal separation cannot
be claimed by either of them. Collusion between the parties to obtain legal
Q. Now Mr. Bugayong, you have filed this action for legal separation from separation shall cause the dismissal of the petition.
your wife. Please tell this Hon. Court why you want to separate from your
wife? — A. I came to know that my wife is committing adultery, I consulted A detailed examination of the testimony of the plaintiff-husband, especially
the chaplain and he told me to consult the legal adviser. (p. 11, t.s.n.) those portions quoted above, clearly shows that there was a condonation
on the part of the husband for the supposed "acts of rank infidelity
Q. Did you finally locate her?--A. Four days later or on the fifth day since my amounting to adultery" committed by defendant-wife. Admitting for the
arrival she went to the house of our god-mother, and as a husband I went sake of argument that the infidelities amounting to adultery were
to her to come along with me in our house but she refused. (p. 12, committed by the defendant, a reconciliation was effected between her
t.s.n.)lawphil.net and the plaintiff. The act of the latter in persuading her to come along with
him, and the fact that she went with him and consented to be brought to
Q. What happened next? — A. I persuaded her to come along with me. She the house of his cousin Pedro Bugayong and together they slept there as
consented but I did not bring her home but brought her to the house of my husband and wife for one day and one night, and the further fact that in
cousin Pedro Bugayong. (p. 12, t.s.n.) the second night they again slept together in their house likewise as
husband and wife — all these facts have no other meaning in the opinion
Q. How long did you remain in the house of your cousin Pedro Bugayong? of this court than that a reconciliation between them was effected and that
— A. One day and one night. (p. 12. t.s.n.) there was a condonation of the wife by the husband. The reconciliation
occurred almost ten months after he came to know of the acts of infidelity amount to conclusive evidence of condonation; but this presumption may
amounting to adultery. be rebutted by evidence (60 L. J. Prob. 73).

In Shackleton vs. Shackleton, 48 N. J. Eq. 364; 21 Atl. 935, it has been held If there had been cohabitation, to what extent must it be to constitute
that "condonation is implied from sexual intercourse after knowledge of condonation?
the other infidelity. such acts necessary implied forgiveness. It is entirely
consonant with reason and justice that if the wife freely consents to sexual Single voluntary act of marital intercourse between the parties ordinarily is
intercourse after she has full knowledge of the husband's guilt, her consent sufficient to constitute condonation, and where the parties live in the same
should operate as a pardon of his wrong." house, it is presumed that they live on terms of matrimonial cohabitation
(27 C. J. S., section 6-d).
In Tiffany's Domestic and Family Relations, section 107 says:
A divorce suit will not be granted for adultery where the parties continue
Condonation. Is the forgiveness of a marital offense constituting a ground to live together after it was known (Land vs. Martin, 15 South 657; Day vs.
for divorce and bars the right to a divorce. But it is on the condition, Day, 80 Pac. 974) or there is sexual intercourse after knowledge of adultery
implied by the law when not express, that the wrongdoer shall not again (Rogers vs. Rogers, 67 N. J. Eq. 534) or sleeping together for a single night
commit the offense; and also that he shall thereafter treat the other (Toulson vs. Toulson, 50 Atl. 401, citing Phinizy vs. Phinizy, 114 S. E. 185,
spouse with conjugal kindness. A breach of the condition will revive the 154 Ga. 199; Collins vs. Collins, 193 So. 702), and many others. The
original offense as a ground for divorce. Condonation may be express or resumption of marital cohabitation as a basis of condonation will generally
implied. be inferred, nothing appearing to the contrary, from the fact of the living
together as husband and wife, especially as against the husband (Marsh vs.
It has been held in a long line of decisions of the various supreme courts of Marsh, 14 N. J. Eq. 315).
the different states of the U. S. that 'a single voluntary act of sexual
intercourse by the innocent spouse after discovery of the offense is There is no ruling on this matter in our jurisprudence but we have no
ordinarily sufficient to constitute condonation, especially as against the reason to depart from the doctrines laid down in the decisions of the
husband'. (27 Corpus Juris Secundum, section 61 and cases cited therein). various supreme courts of the United States above quoted.

In the lights of the facts testified to by the plaintiff-husband, of the legal There is no merit in the contention of appellant that the lower court erred
provisions above quoted, and of the various decisions above-cited, the in entertaining condonation as a ground for dismissal inasmuch as same
inevitable conclusion is that the present action is untenable. was not raised in the answer or in a motion to dismiss, because in the
second ground of the motion to dismiss. It is true that it was filed after the
Although no acts of infidelity might have been committed by the wife, We answer and after the hearing had been commenced, yet that motion serves
agree with the trial judge that the conduct of the plaintiff-husband above to supplement the averments of defendant's answer and to adjust the
narrated despite his belief that his wife was unfaithful, deprives him, as issues to the testimony of plaintiff himself (section 4, Rule 17 of the Rules
alleged the offended spouse, of any action for legal separation against the of Court).
offending wife, because his said conduct comes within the restriction of
Article 100 of the Civil Code. Wherefore, and on the strength of the foregoing, the order appealed from
is hereby affirmed, with costs against appellant. It is so ordered.
The only general rule in American jurisprudence is that any cohabitation
with the guilty party, after the commission of the offense, and with the Paras, C.J., Bengzon, Padilla, Bautista Angelo, Labrador, Concepcion, Reyes,
knowledge or belief on the part of the injured party of its commission, will J.B.L. and Endencia, JJ., concur.
D. G. Eufemio for respondent-appellee.

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

Petition, filed after the effectivity of Republic Act 5440, for review by
certiorari of an order, dated 29 July 1969, of the Juvenile and Domestic
Relations Court of Manila, in its Civil Case No. 20387, dismissing said case
for legal separation on the ground that the death of the therein plaintiff,
Carmen O. Lapuz Sy, which occurred during the pendency of the case,
abated the cause of action as well as the action itself. The dismissal order
was issued over the objection of Macario Lapuz, the heir of the deceased
plaintiff (and petitioner herein) who sought to substitute the deceased and
to have the case prosecuted to final judgment.

On 18 August 1953, Carmen O. Lapuz Sy filed a petition for legal separation


against Eufemio S. Eufemio, alleging, in the main, that they were married
civilly on 21 September 1934 and canonically on 30 September 1934; that
they had lived together as husband and wife continuously until 1943 when
her husband abandoned her; that they had no child; that they acquired
properties during their marriage; and that she discovered her husband
cohabiting with a Chinese woman named Go Hiok at 1319 Sisa Street,
Manila, on or about March 1949. She prayed for the issuance of a decree of
legal separation, which, among others, would order that the defendant
Eufemio S. Eufemio should be deprived of his share of the conjugal
partnership profits.

In his second amended answer to the petition, herein respondent Eufemio


S. Eufemio alleged affirmative and special defenses, and, along with several
other claims involving money and other properties, counter-claimed for the
declaration of nullity ab initio of his marriage with Carmen O. Lapuz Sy, on
G.R. No. L-30977 January 31, 1972 the ground of his prior and subsisting marriage, celebrated according to
Chinese law and customs, with one Go Hiok, alias Ngo Hiok.
CARMEN LAPUZ SY, represented by her substitute MACARIO LAPUZ,
petitioner-appellant, Issues having been joined, trial proceeded and the parties adduced their
vs. respective evidence. But before the trial could be completed (the
EUFEMIO S. EUFEMIO alias EUFEMIO SY UY, respondent-appellee. respondent was already scheduled to present surrebuttal evidence on 9
and 18 June 1969), petitioner Carmen O. Lapuz Sy died in a vehicular
Jose W. Diokno for petitioner-appellant. accident on 31 May 1969. Counsel for petitioner duly notified the court of
her death.
without basis, for even petitioner asserted that "the respondent has
On 9 June 1969, respondent Eufemio moved to dismiss the "petition for acquiesced to the dismissal of his counterclaim" (Petitioner's Brief, page
legal separation" 1 on two (2) grounds, namely: that the petition for legal 22). Not only this. The petition for legal separation and the counterclaim to
separation was filed beyond the one-year period provided for in Article 102 declare the nullity of the self same marriage can stand independent and
of the Civil Code; and that the death of Carmen abated the action for legal separate adjudication. They are not inseparable nor was the action for legal
separation. separation converted into one for a declaration of nullity by the
counterclaim, for legal separation pre-supposes a valid marriage, while the
On 26 June 1969, counsel for deceased petitioner moved to substitute the petition for nullity has a voidable marriage as a pre-condition.
deceased Carmen by her father, Macario Lapuz. Counsel for Eufemio
opposed the motion. The first real issue in this case is: Does the death of the plaintiff before final
decree, in an action for legal separation, abate the action? If it does, will
On 29 July 1969, the court issued the order under review, dismissing the abatement also apply if the action involves property rights? .
case. 2 In the body of the order, the court stated that the motion to dismiss
and the motion for substitution had to be resolved on the question of An action for legal separation which involves nothing more than the bed-
whether or not the plaintiff's cause of action has survived, which the court and-board separation of the spouses (there being no absolute divorce in
resolved in the negative. Petitioner's moved to reconsider but the motion this jurisdiction) is purely personal. The Civil Code of the Philippines
was denied on 15 September 1969. recognizes this in its Article 100, by allowing only the innocent spouse (and
no one else) to claim legal separation; and in its Article 108, by providing
After first securing an extension of time to file a petition for review of the that the spouses can, by their reconciliation, stop or abate the proceedings
order of dismissal issued by the juvenile and domestic relations court, the and even rescind a decree of legal separation already rendered. Being
petitioner filed the present petition on 14 October 1969. The same was personal in character, it follows that the death of one party to the action
given due course and answer thereto was filed by respondent, who prayed causes the death of the action itself — actio personalis moritur cum
for the affirmance of the said order. 3 persona.

Although the defendant below, the herein respondent Eufemio S. Eufemio, ... When one of the spouses is dead, there is no need for divorce, because
filed counterclaims, he did not pursue them after the court below the marriage is dissolved. The heirs cannot even continue the suit, if the
dismissed the case. He acquiesced in the dismissal of said counterclaims by death of the spouse takes place during the course of the suit (Article 244,
praying for the affirmance of the order that dismissed not only the petition Section 3). The action is absolutely dead (Cass., July 27, 1871, D. 71. 1. 81;
for legal separation but also his counterclaim to declare the Eufemio-Lapuz Cass. req., May 8, 1933, D. H. 1933, 332.") 4 .
marriage to be null and void ab initio.
Marriage is a personal relation or status, created under the sanction of law,
But petitioner Carmen O. Lapuz Sy (through her self-assumed substitute — and an action for divorce is a proceeding brought for the purpose of
for the lower court did not act on the motion for substitution) stated the effecting a dissolution of that relation. The action is one of a personal
principal issue to be as follows: nature. In the absence of a statute to the contrary, the death of one of the
parties to such action abates the action, for the reason that death has
When an action for legal separation is converted by the counterclaim into settled the question of separation beyond all controversy and deprived the
one for a declaration of nullity of a marriage, does the death of a party court of jurisdiction, both over the persons of the parties to the action and
abate the proceedings? of the subject-matter of the action itself. For this reason the courts are
almost unanimous in holding that the death of either party to a divorce
The issue as framed by petitioner injects into it a supposed conversion of a proceeding, before final decree, abates the action. 1 Corpus Juris, 208;
legal separation suit to one for declaration of nullity of a marriage, which is Wren v. Moss, 2 Gilman, 72; Danforth v. Danforth, 111 Ill. 236; Matter of
Grandall, 196 N.Y. 127, 89 N.E. 578; 134 Am St. Rep. 830; 17 Ann. Cas. 874; by their nature and intent, such claims and disabilities are difficult to
Wilcon v. Wilson, 73 Mich, 620, 41 N.W. 817; Strickland v. Strickland, 80 conceive as assignable or transmissible. Hence, a claim to said rights is not
Ark. 452, 97 S. W. 659; McCurley v. McCurley, 60 Md. 185, 45 Am. Rep. 717; a claim that "is not thereby extinguished" after a party dies, under Section
Begbie v. Begbie, 128 Cal. 155, 60 Pac. 667, 49 L.R.A. 141. 5 17, Rule 3, of the Rules of Court, to warrant continuation of the action
through a substitute of the deceased party.
The same rule is true of causes of action and suits for separation and
maintenance (Johnson vs. Bates, Ark. 101 SW 412; 1 Corpus Juris 208). Sec. 17. Death of party. After a party dies and the claim is not thereby
extinguished, the court shall order, upon proper notice, the legal
A review of the resulting changes in property relations between spouses representative of the deceased to appear and to be substituted for the
shows that they are solely the effect of the decree of legal separation; deceased, within a period of thirty (30) days, or within such time as may be
hence, they can not survive the death of the plaintiff if it occurs prior to the granted...
decree. On the point, Article 106 of the Civil Code provides: .
The same result flows from a consideration of the enumeration of the
Art. 106. The decree of legal separation shall have the following effects: actions that survive for or against administrators in Section 1, Rule 87, of
the Revised Rules of Court:
(1) The spouses shall be entitled to live separately from each other,
but the marriage bonds shall not be severed; . SECTION 1. Actions which may and which may not be brought against
executor or administrator. No action upon a claim for the recovery of
(2) The conjugal partnership of gains or the absolute conjugal money or debt or interest thereon shall be commenced against the
community of property shall be dissolved and liquidated, but the offending executor or administrator; but actions to recover real or personal property,
spouse shall have no right to any share of the profits earned by the or an interest therein, from the estate, or to enforce a lien thereon, and
partnership or community, without prejudice to the provisions of article actions to recover damages for an injury to person or property, real or
176; personal, may be commenced against him.

(3) The custody of the minor children shall be awarded to the Neither actions for legal separation or for annulment of marriage can be
innocent spouse, unless otherwise directed by the court in the interest of deemed fairly included in the enumeration..
said minors, for whom said court may appoint a guardian;
A further reason why an action for legal separation is abated by the death
(4) The offending spouse shall be disqualified from inheriting from of the plaintiff, even if property rights are involved, is that these rights are
the innocent spouse by intestate succession. Moreover, provisions in favor mere effects of decree of separation, their source being the decree itself;
of the offending spouse made in the will of the innocent one shall be without the decree such rights do not come into existence, so that before
revoked by operation of law. the finality of a decree, these claims are merely rights in expectation. If
death supervenes during the pendency of the action, no decree can be
From this article it is apparent that the right to the dissolution of the forthcoming, death producing a more radical and definitive separation; and
conjugal partnership of gains (or of the absolute community of property), the expected consequential rights and claims would necessarily remain
the loss of right by the offending spouse to any share of the profits earned unborn.
by the partnership or community, or his disqualification to inherit by
intestacy from the innocent spouse as well as the revocation of As to the petition of respondent-appellee Eufemio for a declaration of
testamentary provisions in favor of the offending spouse made by the nullity ab initio of his marriage to Carmen Lapuz, it is apparent that such
innocent one, are all rights and disabilities that, by the very terms of the action became moot and academic upon the death of the latter, and there
Civil Code article, are vested exclusively in the persons of the spouses; and could be no further interest in continuing the same after her demise, that
automatically dissolved the questioned union. Any property rights acquired
by either party as a result of Article 144 of the Civil Code of the Philippines Before this Court is a Petition for Review seeking the reversal of the
6 could be resolved and determined in a proper action for partition by Decision1 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA G.R. CV No. 59400 which
either the appellee or by the heirs of the appellant. affirmed in toto the Decision of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 41,
Dagupan City granting the petition for legal separation filed by herein
In fact, even if the bigamous marriage had not been void ab initio but only respondent, as well as the Resolution2 of the CA dated April 26, 2002
voidable under Article 83, paragraph 2, of the Civil Code, because the which denied petitioner’s motion for reconsideration.
second marriage had been contracted with the first wife having been an
absentee for seven consecutive years, or when she had been generally Ong Eng Kiam, also known as William Ong (William) and Lucita G. Ong
believed dead, still the action for annulment became extinguished as soon (Lucita) were married on July 13, 1975 at the San Agustin Church in Manila.
as one of the three persons involved had died, as provided in Article 87, They have three children: Kingston, Charleston, and Princeton who are now
paragraph 2, of the Code, requiring that the action for annulment should all of the age of majority.3
be brought during the lifetime of any one of the parties involved. And
furthermore, the liquidation of any conjugal partnership that might have On March 21, 1996, Lucita filed a Complaint for Legal Separation under
resulted from such voidable marriage must be carried out "in the testate or Article 55 par. (1) of the Family Code4 before the Regional Trial Court (RTC)
intestate proceedings of the deceased spouse", as expressly provided in of Dagupan City, Branch 41 alleging that her life with William was marked
Section 2 of the Revised Rule 73, and not in the annulment proceeding. by physical violence, threats, intimidation and grossly abusive conduct.5

ACCORDINGLY, the appealed judgment of the Manila Court of Juvenile and Lucita claimed that: soon after three years of marriage, she and William
Domestic Relations is hereby affirmed. No special pronouncement as to quarreled almost every day, with physical violence being inflicted upon her;
costs. William would shout invectives at her like "putang ina mo", "gago",
"tanga", and he would slap her, kick her, pull her hair, bang her head
against concrete wall and throw at her whatever he could reach with his
hand; the causes of these fights were petty things regarding their children
or their business; William would also scold and beat the children at
different parts of their bodies using the buckle of his belt; whenever she
tried to stop William from hitting the children, he would turn his ire on her