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INTRO TO LAW 2: CIVIL LAW Marriage (Family Code)

a. Requisites (Article 1-10, 15-16 18, 20, 27-34)

SY vs CA GR No. 127263, April 12, 2000

DECISION
QUISUMBING, J.:
For review is the decision[1] dated May 21, 1996 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 44144, which affirmed the
decision[2] of the Regional Trial Court of San Fernando, Pampanga, denying the petition[3] for declaration of absolute nullity of
marriage of the spouses Filipina Sy and Fernando Sy.
Petitioner Filipina Y. Sy and private respondent Fernando Sy contracted marriage on November 15, 1973 at the Church of
Our Lady of Lourdes in Quezon City.[4] Both were then 22 years old. Their union was blessed with two children, Frederick and
Farrah Sheryll who were born on July 8, 1975 and February 14, 1978,respectively.[5]
The spouses first established their residence in Singalong, Manila, then in Apalit, Pampanga, and later at San Matias, Sto.
Tomas, Pampanga. They operated a lumber and hardware business in Sto. Tomas, Pampanga.[6]
On September 15, 1983, Fernando left their conjugal dwelling. Since then, the spouses lived separately, and their two
children were in the custody of their mother. However, their son Frederick transferred to his father's residence at Masangkay,
Tondo, Manila on May 15,1988, and from then on, lived with his father.[7]
On February 11, 1987, Filipina filed a petition for legal separation, docketed as Civil Case No. 7900 before the Regional Trial
Court of San Fernando, Pampanga. Later, upon motion of petitioner, the action was later amended to a petition for
separation of property on the grounds that her husband abandoned her without just cause; that they have been living
separately for more than one year; and that they voluntarily entered into a Memorandum of Agreement dated September 29,
1983, containing the rules that would govern the dissolution of their conjugal partnership.[8] Judgment was rendered
dissolving their conjugal partnership of gains and approving a regime of separation of properties based on the Memorandum
of Agreement executed by the spouses.[9] The trial court also granted custody of the children to Filipina.[10]
In May 1988, Filipina filed a criminal action for attempted parricide against her husband, docketed as Criminal Case No. 88-
68006, before the Regional Trial Court of Manila. Filipina testified that in the afternoon of May 15, 1988, she went to the
dental clinic at Masangkay, Tondo, Manila, owned by her husband but operated by his mistress, to fetch her son and bring
him to San Fernando, Pampanga. While she was talking to her son, the boy ignored her and continued playing with the
family computer. Filipina got mad, took the computer away from her son, and started spanking him. At that instance,
Fernando pulled Filipina away from their son, and punched her in the different parts of her body. Filipina also claimed that
her husband started choking her when she fell on the floor, and released her only when he thought she was dead. Filipina
suffered from hematoma and contusions on different parts of her body as a result of the blows inflicted by her husband,
evidenced by a Medical Certificate issued by a certain Dr. James Ferraren. She said it was not the first time Fernando
maltreated her.[11]
The Regional Trial Court of Manila, however, in its decision[12] dated April 26, 1990, convicted Fernando only of the lesser
crime of slight physical injuries, and sentenced him to 20 days imprisonment. Edpmis
Petitioner later filed a new action for legal separation against private respondent, docketed as Civil Case No. 8273,on the
following grounds: (1) repeated physical violence; (2) sexual infidelity; (3) attempt by respondent against her life; and (4)
abandonment of her by her husband without justifiable cause for more than one year. The Regional Trial Court of San
Fernando, Pampanga, in its decision[13] dated December 4,1991, granted the petition on the grounds of repeated physical
violence and sexual infidelity, and issued a decree of legal separation. It awarded custody of their daughter Farrah Sheryll to
petitioner, and their son Frederick to respondent.

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

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

Petitioner appealed to the Court of Appeals which affirmed the decision of the trial court. In the decision[17] of the Court of
Appeals dated May 21, 1996, it ruled that the testimony of petitioner concerning respondent's purported psychological
incapacity falls short of the quantum of evidence required to nullify a marriage celebrated with all the formal and essential
requisites of law.
Moreover, the Court of Appeals held that petitioner failed to show that the alleged psychological incapacity of respondent had
existed at the time of the celebration of their marriage in 1973. It reiterated the finding of the trial court that the couple's
marital problems surfaced only in 1983, or almost ten years from the date of the celebration of their marriage. And prior to
their separation in 1983, they were living together harmoniously. Thus, the Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment of the
lower court which it found to be in accordance with law and the evidence on record.[18]
Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration,[19] which the Court of Appeals denied in its resolution dated November 21,
1996.[20]
Hence, this appeal by certiorari[21] wherein petitioner now raises the following issues: Jurismis
1. WHETHER OR NOT THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS MANIFESTLY OVERLOOKED THE FACT THAT ON
THE DATE OF THE CELEBRATION OF THE PARTIES' MARRIAGE ON NOVEMBER 15, 1973, NOT DISPUTED BY
RESPONDENT FERNANDO, THERE WAS NO MARRIAGE LICENSE THERETO;
2. WHETHER OR NOT THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED MISAPPREHENSION OF FACTS BY
STATING THAT THE GROUNDS RELIED UPON BY APPELLANT [herein petitioner] DO NOT CONSTITUTE
PSYCHOLOGICAL INCAPACITY AS WOULD JUSTIFY NULLIFICATION OF HER MARRIAGE TO APPELLEE [herein
respondent];
3. WHETHER OR NOT THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED MISAPPREHENSION OF FACTS BY
STATING THAT APPELLANT FAILED TO SHOW THAT THE ALLEGED UNDESIRABLE ACTUATIONS OF APPELLEE
HAD EXISTED OR WERE PRESENT AT THE TIME THEIR MARRIAGE WAS CELEBRATED IN 1973; Jjjuris
4. WHETHER OR NOT THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION IN
AFFIRMING THE ERRONEOUS RULING OF THE LOWER COURT THAT THERE IS A REDEEMING ATTITUDE
SHOWN TO THE COURT BY RESPONDENT FERNANDO WITH RESPECT TO HIS CHILDREN AND ALSO
BELIEVES THAT RECONCILIATION BETWEEN THE PARTIES IS NOT A REMOTE POSSIBILITY WHICH IS
ERRONEOUS; AND
5.WHETHER OR NOT THE CASE OF SANTOS V.COURT OF APPEALS (240 SCRA 20) IS APPLICABLE
HERETO.[22]
In sum, two issues are to be resolved: justice
1. Whether or not the marriage between petitioner and private respondent is void from the beginning for lack of a marriage
license at the time of the ceremony; and
2. Whether or not private respondent is psychologically incapacitated at the time of said marriage celebration to warrant a
declaration of its absolute nullity.
Petitioner, for the first time, raises the issue of the marriage being void for lack of a valid marriage license at the time of its
celebration. It appears that, according to her, the date of the actual celebration of their marriage and the date of issuance of
their marriage certificate and marriage license are different and incongruous. Jksm
Although we have repeatedly ruled that litigants cannot raise an issue for the first time on appeal, as this would contravene
the basic rules of fair play and justice,[23] in a number of instances, we have relaxed observance of procedural rules, noting
that technicalities are not ends in themselves but exist to protect and promote substantive rights of litigants. We said that
certain rules ought not to be applied with severity and rigidity if by so doing, the very reason for their existence would be
defeated.[24]Hence, when substantial justice plainly requires, exempting a particular case from the operation of technicalities
should not be subject to cavil.[25] In our view, the case at bar requires that we address the issue of the validity of the
marriage between Fillipina and Fernando which petitioner claims is void from the beginning for lack of a marriage license, in
order to arrive at a just resolution of a deeply seated and violent conflict between the parties. Note, however, that here the
pertinent facts are not disputed; and what is required now is a declaration of their effects according to existing law.
Petitioner states that though she did not categorically state in her petition for annulment of marriage before the trial court
that the incongruity in the dates of the marriage license and the celebration of the marriage itself would lead to the
conclusion that her marriage to Fernando was void from the beginning, she points out that these critical dates were
contained in the documents she submitted before the court. The date of issue of the marriage license and marriage
certificate, September 17, 1974, is contained in their marriage contract which was attached as Annex "A" in her petition for
declaration of absolute nullity of marriage before the trial court, and thereafter marked as Exhibit "A" in the course of the
trial.[26] The date of celebration of their marriage at Our Lady of Lourdes, Sta. Teresita Parish, on November 15, 1973, is
admitted both by petitioner and private respondent, as stated in paragraph three of petitioner's petition for the declaration of
absolute nullity of marriage before the trial court, and private respondent's answer admitting it.[27] This fact was also
affirmed by petitioner, in open court, on January 22, 1993, during her direct examination,[28] as follows: Es m
ATTY. RAZON: In the last hearing, you said that you were married on November 15,1973?
FILIPINA SY: Yes, Sir.
November 15, 1973, also appears as the date of marriage of the parents in both their son's and daughter's birth certificates,
which are also attached as Annexes " B" and "C" in the petition for declaration of absolute nullity of marriage before the trial
court, and thereafter marked as Exhibits "B" and "C" in the course of the trial.[29] These pieces of evidence on record plainly
and indubitably show that on the day of the marriage ceremony, there was no marriage license. A marriage license is a
formal requirement; its absence renders the marriage void ab initio. In addition, the marriage contract shows that the
marriage license, numbered 6237519, was issued in Carmona, Cavite, yet, neither petitioner nor private respondent ever
resided in Carmona.[30]
Carefully reviewing the documents and the pleadings on record, we find that indeed petitioner did not expressly state in her
petition before the trial court that there was incongruity between the date of the actual celebration of their marriage and the
date of the issuance of their marriage license. From the documents she presented, the marriage license was issued on
September 17,1974, almost one year after the ceremony took place on November 15, 1973. The ineluctable conclusion is
that the marriage was indeed contracted without a marriage license. Nowhere do we find private respondent denying these
dates on record. Article 80 of the Civil Code[31] is clearly applicable in this case. There being no claim of an exceptional
character, the purported marriage between petitioner and private respondent could not be classified among those
enumerated in Articles 72-79[32] of the Civil Code. We thus conclude that under Article 80 of the Civil Code, the marriage
between petitioner and private respondent is void from the beginning. Es msc

We note that their marriage certificate and marriage license are only photocopies. So are the birth certificates of their son
Frederick and daughter Farrah Sheryll. Nevertheless, these documents were marked as Exhibits during the course of the trial
below, which shows that these have been examined and admitted by the trial court, with no objections having been made as
to their authenticity and due execution. Likewise, no objection was interposed to petitioner's testimony in open court when
she affirmed that the date of the actual celebration of their marriage was on November 15, 1973. We are of the view,
therefore, that having been admitted in evidence, with the adverse party failing to timely object thereto, these documents
are deemed sufficient proof of the facts contained therein.[33]
The remaining issue on the psychological incapacity of private respondent need no longer detain us. It is mooted by our
conclusion that the marriage of petitioner to respondent is void ab initio for lack of a marriage license at the time their
marriage was solemnized. Esmm is
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The Decision of the Regional Trial Court of San Fernando, Pampanga, dated
December 9,1993 as well as the Decision promulgated on May 21, 1996 by the Court of Appeals and its Resolution dated
November 21, 1996, in CA-G.R. No. 44144 are set aside. The marriage celebrated on November 15, 1973 between petitioner
Filipina Yap and private respondent Fernando Sy is hereby declared void ab initio for lack of marriage license at the time of
celebration. No pronouncement as to costs.
SO ORDERED.
ARANES vs OCCIANO, A.M. No. MTJ-00-1390, April 11, 2002

DECISION

PUNO, J.:

Petitioner Mercedita Mata Araes charges respondent judge with Gross Ignorance of the Law via a sworn Letter-
Complaint dated 23 May 2001. Respondent is the Presiding Judge of the Municipal Trial Court of Balatan, Camarines Sur.
Petitioner alleges that on 17 February 2000, respondent judge solemnized her marriage to her late groom Dominador B.
Orobia without the requisite marriage license and at Nabua, Camarines Sur which is outside his territorial jurisdiction.
They lived together as husband and wife on the strength of this marriage until her husband passed away. However,
since the marriage was a nullity, petitioners right to inherit the vast properties left by Orobia was not recognized. She was
likewise deprived of receiving the pensions of Orobia, a retired Commodore of the Philippine Navy.
Petitioner prays that sanctions be imposed against respondent judge for his illegal acts and unethical misrepresentations
which allegedly caused her so much hardships, embarrassment and sufferings.
On 28 May 2001, the case was referred by the Office of the Chief Justice to then Acting Court Administrator Zenaida N.
Elepao for appropriate action. On 8 June 2001, the Office of the Court Administrator required respondent judge to comment.
In his Comment dated 5 July 2001, respondent judge averred that he was requested by a certain Juan Arroyo on 15
February 2000 to solemnize the marriage of the parties on 17 February 2000. Having been assured that all the documents to
the marriage were complete, he agreed to solemnize the marriage in his sala at the Municipal Trial Court of Balatan,
Camarines Sur. However, on 17 February 2000, Arroyo informed him that Orobia had a difficulty walking and could not stand
the rigors of travelling to Balatan which is located almost 25 kilometers from his residence in Nabua. Arroyo then requested if
respondent judge could solemnize the marriage in Nabua, to which request he acceded.
Respondent judge further avers that before he started the ceremony, he carefully examined the documents submitted
to him by petitioner. When he discovered that the parties did not possess the requisite marriage license, he refused to
solemnize the marriage and suggested its resetting to another date. However, due to the earnest pleas of the parties, the
influx of visitors, and the delivery of provisions for the occasion, he proceeded to solemnize the marriage out of human
compassion. He also feared that if he reset the wedding, it might aggravate the physical condition of Orobia who just
suffered from a stroke. After the solemnization, he reiterated the necessity for the marriage license and admonished the
parties that their failure to give it would render the marriage void. Petitioner and Orobia assured respondent judge that they
would give the license to him in the afternoon of that same day. When they failed to comply, respondent judge followed it up
with Arroyo but the latter only gave him the same reassurance that the marriage license would be delivered to his sala at the
Municipal Trial Court of Balatan, Camarines Sur.
Respondent judge vigorously denies that he told the contracting parties that their marriage is valid despite the absence
of a marriage license. He attributes the hardships and embarrassment suffered by the petitioner as due to her own fault and
negligence.
On 12 September 2001, petitioner filed her Affidavit of Desistance dated 28 August 2001 with the Office of the Court
Administrator. She attested that respondent judge initially refused to solemnize her marriage due to the want of a duly
issued marriage license and that it was because of her prodding and reassurances that he eventually solemnized the same.
She confessed that she filed this administrative case out of rage. However, after reading the Comment filed by respondent
judge, she realized her own shortcomings and is now bothered by her conscience.
Reviewing the records of the case, it appears that petitioner and Orobia filed their Application for Marriage License on 5
January 2000. It was stamped in this Application that the marriage license shall be issued on 17 January 2000. However,
neither petitioner nor Orobia claimed it.
It also appears that the Office of the Civil Registrar General issued a Certification that it has no record of such marriage
that allegedly took place on 17 February 2000. Likewise, the Office of the Local Civil Registrar of Nabua, Camarines Sur
issued another Certification dated 7 May 2001 that it cannot issue a true copy of the Marriage Contract of the parties since it
has no record of their marriage.
On 8 May 2001, petitioner sought the assistance of respondent judge so the latter could communicate with the Office of
the Local Civil Registrar of Nabua, Camarines Sur for the issuance of her marriage license. Respondent judge wrote the Local
Civil Registrar of Nabua, Camarines Sur. In a letter dated 9 May 2001, a Clerk of said office, Grace T. Escobal, informed
respondent judge that their office cannot issue the marriage license due to the failure of Orobia to submit the Death
Certificate of his previous spouse.
The Office of the Court Administrator, in its Report and Recommendation dated 15 November 2000, found the
respondent judge guilty of solemnizing a marriage without a duly issued marriage license and for doing so outside his
territorial jurisdiction. A fine of P5,000.00 was recommended to be imposed on respondent judge.
We agree.
Under the Judiciary Reorganization Act of 1980, or B.P.129, the authority of the regional trial court judges and judges of
inferior courts to solemnize marriages is confined to their territorial jurisdiction as defined by the Supreme Court.
The case at bar is not without precedent. In Navarro vs. Domagtoy,[1] respondent judge held office and had
jurisdiction in the Municipal Circuit Trial Court of Sta. Monica-Burgos, Surigao del Norte. However, he solemnized a wedding
at his residence in the municipality of Dapa, Surigao del Norte which did not fall within the jurisdictional area of the
municipalities of Sta. Monica and Burgos. We held that:

A priest who is commissioned and allowed by his local ordinance to marry the faithful is authorized to do so only within the
area or diocese or place allowed by his Bishop. An appellate court Justice or a Justice of this Court has jurisdiction over the
entire Philippines to solemnize marriages, regardless of the venue, as long as the requisites of the law are complied
with. However, judges who are appointed to specific jurisdictions, may officiate in weddings only within said
areas and not beyond. Where a judge solemnizes a marriage outside his courts jurisdiction, there is a resultant
irregularity in the formal requisite laid down in Article 3, which while it may not affect the validity of the
marriage, may subject the officiating official to administrative liability. [2] (Emphasis supplied.)

In said case, we suspended respondent judge for six (6) months on the ground that his act of solemnizing a marriage
outside his jurisdiction constitutes gross ignorance of the law. We further held that:

The judiciary should be composed of persons who, if not experts, are at least, proficient in the law they are sworn to apply,
more than the ordinary laymen. They should be skilled and competent in understanding and applying the law. It is
imperative that they be conversant with basic legal principles like the ones involved in the instant case. x x x While
magistrates may at times make mistakes in judgment, for which they are not penalized, the respondent judge exhibited
ignorance of elementary provisions of law, in an area which has greatly prejudiced the status of married persons.[3]

In the case at bar, the territorial jurisdiction of respondent judge is limited to the municipality of Balatan, Camarines
Sur. His act of solemnizing the marriage of petitioner and Orobia in Nabua, Camarines Sur therefore is contrary to law and
subjects him to administrative liability. His act may not amount to gross ignorance of the law for he allegedly solemnized the
marriage out of human compassion but nonetheless, he cannot avoid liability for violating the law on marriage.
Respondent judge should also be faulted for solemnizing a marriage without the requisite marriage license. In People
vs. Lara,[4] we held that a marriage which preceded the issuance of the marriage license is void, and that the subsequent
issuance of such license cannot render valid or even add an iota of validity to the marriage. Except in cases provided by law,
it is the marriage license that gives the solemnizing officer the authority to solemnize a marriage. Respondent judge did not
possess such authority when he solemnized the marriage of petitioner. In this respect, respondent judge acted in gross
ignorance of the law.
Respondent judge cannot be exculpated despite the Affidavit of Desistance filed by petitioner. This Court has
consistently held in a catena of cases that the withdrawal of the complaint does not necessarily have the legal effect of
exonerating respondent from disciplinary action. Otherwise, the prompt and fair administration of justice, as well as the
discipline of court personnel, would be undermined.[5] Disciplinary actions of this nature do not involve purely private or
personal matters. They can not be made to depend upon the will of every complainant who may, for one reason or another,
condone a detestable act. We cannot be bound by the unilateral act of a complainant in a matter which involves the Courts
constitutional power to discipline judges. Otherwise, that power may be put to naught, undermine the trust character of a
public office and impair the integrity and dignity of this Court as a disciplining authority.[6]
WHEREFORE, respondent Judge Salvador M. Occiano, Presiding Judge of the Municipal Trial Court of Balatan,
Camarines Sur, is fined P5,000.00 pesos with a STERN WARNING that a repetition of the same or similar offense in the
future will be dealt with more severely.

SO ORDERED.
DE LA ROSA, et al vs. HEIRS of vda. De DAMIAN, January 27, 2006
DECISION

CORONA, J.:

In this petition for review on certiorari, petitioners seek to reinstate the May 11, 1990 decision of the Regional Trial
Court (RTC) of Manila, Branch 55,[4] in SP Case No. 97668, which was reversed and set aside by the Court of Appeals in its
decision[5] dated October 24, 2002.

FACTS OF THE CASE

This case concerns the settlement of the intestate estates of Guillermo Rustia and Josefa Delgado.[6] The main issue
in this case is relatively simple: who, between petitioners and respondents, are the lawful heirs of the decedents. However, it
is attended by several collateral issues that complicate its resolution.

The claimants to the estates of Guillermo Rustia and Josefa Delgado may be divided into two groups: (1) the alleged
heirs of Josefa Delgado, consisting of her half- and full-blood siblings, nephews and nieces, and grandnephews and
grandnieces, and (2) the alleged heirs of Guillermo Rustia, particularly, his sisters,[7] his nephews and nieces,[8] his
illegitimate child,[9] and the de facto adopted child[10] (ampun-ampunan) of the decedents.

THE ALLEGED HEIRS OF JOSEFA DELGADO

The deceased Josefa Delgado was the daughter of Felisa[11] Delgado by one Lucio Campo. Aside from Josefa, five
other children were born to the couple, namely, Nazario, Edilberta, Jose, Jacoba, and Gorgonio, all surnamed
Delgado. Felisa Delgado was never married to Lucio Campo, hence, Josefa and her full-blood siblings were all natural children
of Felisa Delgado.
However, Lucio Campo was not the first and only man in Felisa Delgados life. Before him was Ramon Osorio[12] with
whom Felisa had a son, Luis Delgado. But, unlike her relationship with Lucio Campo which was admittedly one without the
benefit of marriage, the legal status of Ramon Osorios and Felisa Delgados union is in dispute.

The question of whether Felisa Delgado and Ramon Osorio ever got married is crucial to the claimants because the
answer will determine whether their successional rights fall within the ambit of the rule against reciprocal intestate
succession between legitimate and illegitimate relatives.[13] If Ramon Osorio and Felisa Delgado had been validly married,
then their only child Luis Delgado was a legitimate half-blood brother of Josefa Delgado and therefore excluded from the
latters intestate estate. He and his heirs would be barred by the principle of absolute separation between the legitimate and
illegitimate families. Conversely, if the couple were never married, Luis Delgado and his heirs would be entitled to inherit
from Josefa Delgados intestate estate, as they would all be within the illegitimate line.
Petitioners allege that Ramon Osorio and Felisa Delgado were never married. In support thereof, they assert that no
evidence was ever presented to establish it, not even so much as an allegation of the date or place of the alleged
marriage. What is clear, however, is that Felisa retained the surname Delgado. So did Luis, her son with Ramon Osorio. Later
on, when Luis got married, his Partida de Casamiento[14] stated that he was hijo natural de Felisa Delgado (the natural child
of Felisa Delgado),[15] significantly omitting any mention of the name and other circumstances of his
father. [16]
Nevertheless, oppositors (now respondents) insist that the absence of a record of the alleged marriage did not
necessarily mean that no marriage ever took place.
Josefa Delgado died on September 8, 1972 without a will. She was survived by Guillermo Rustia and some collateral
relatives, the petitioners herein. Several months later, on June 15, 1973, Guillermo Rustia executed an affidavit of self-
adjudication of the remaining properties comprising her estate.
THE MARRIAGE OF GUILLERMO RUSTIA AND JOSEFA DELGADO

Sometime in 1917, Guillermo Rustia proposed marriage to Josefa Delgado[17] but whether a marriage in fact took
place is disputed. According to petitioners, the two eventually lived together as husband and wife but were never married. To
prove their assertion, petitioners point out that no record of the contested marriage existed in the civil registry. Moreover, a
baptismal certificate naming Josefa Delgado as one of the sponsors referred to her as Seorita or unmarried woman.

The oppositors (respondents here), on the other hand, insist that the absence of a marriage certificate did not of
necessity mean that no marriage transpired. They maintain that Guillermo Rustia and Josefa Delgado were married on June
3, 1919 and from then on lived together as husband and wife until the death of Josefa on September 8, 1972. During this
period spanning more than half a century, they were known among their relatives and friends to have in fact been
married. To support their proposition, oppositors presented the following pieces of evidence:

1. Certificate of Identity No. 9592 dated [December 1, 1944] issued to Mrs. Guillermo
J. Rustia by Carlos P. Romulo, then Resident Commissioner to the United States of the
Commonwealth of the Philippines;

2. Philippine Passport No. 4767 issued to Josefa D. Rustia on June 25, 1947;

3. Veterans Application for Pension or Compensation for Disability Resulting from Service in the
Active Military or Naval Forces of the United States- Claim No. C-4, 004, 503 (VA Form 526) filed
with the Veterans Administration of the United States of America by Dr. Guillermo J. Rustia wherein
Dr. Guillermo J. Rustia himself [swore] to his marriage to Josefa Delgado in Manila on 3 June
1919;[18]

4. Titles to real properties in the name of Guillermo Rustia indicated that he was married
to Josefa Delgado.

THE ALLEGED HEIRS OF GUILLERMO RUSTIA

Guillermo Rustia and Josefa Delgado never had any children. With no children of their own, they took into their home
the youngsters Guillermina Rustia and Nanie Rustia. These children, never legally adopted by the couple, were what was
known in the local dialect as ampun-ampunan.

During his life with Josefa, however, Guillermo Rustia did manage to father an illegitimate child,[19] the intervenor-
respondent Guillerma Rustia, with one Amparo Sagarbarria. According to Guillerma, Guillermo Rustia treated her as his
daughter, his own flesh and blood, and she enjoyed open and continuous possession of that status from her birth in 1920
until her fathers demise. In fact, Josefa Delgados obituary which was prepared by Guillermo Rustia, named the intervenor-
respondent as one of their children. Also, her report card from the University of Santo Tomas identified Guillermo Rustia as
her parent/guardian.[20]
Oppositors (respondents here) nonetheless posit that Guillerma Rustia has no interest in the intestate estate of
Guillermo Rustia as she was never duly acknowledged as an illegitimate child. They contend that her right to compulsory
acknowledgement prescribed when Guillermo died in 1974 and that she cannot claim voluntary acknowledgement since the
documents she presented were not the authentic writings prescribed by the new Civil Code.[21]

On January 7, 1974, more than a year after the death of Josefa Delgado, Guillermo Rustia filed a petition for the
adoption[22] of their ampun-ampunan Guillermina Rustia. He stated under oath [t]hat he ha[d] no legitimate, legitimated,
acknowledged natural children or natural children by legal fiction.[23] The petition was overtaken by his death on February 28,
1974.

Like Josefa Delgado, Guillermo Rustia died without a will. He was survived by his sisters Marciana Rustia vda.
de Damian and Hortencia Rustia-Cruz, and by the children of his predeceased brother Roman Rustia Sr., namely,
Josefina Rustia Albano, Virginia Rustia Paraiso, Roman Rustia, Jr., Sergio Rustia,
[24]
Francisco Rustia and Leticia Rustia Miranda.

ANTECEDENT PROCEEDINGS

On May 8, 1975, Luisa Delgado vda. de Danao, the daughter of Luis Delgado, filed the original petition for letters of
administration of the intestate estates of the spouses Josefa Delgado and Guillermo Rustia with the RTC of Manila, Branch
55.[25] This petition was opposed by the following: (1) the sisters of Guillermo Rustia, namely, Marciana Rustia vda.
de Damian and HortenciaRustia-Cruz;[26] (2) the heirs of Guillermo Rustias late brother, Roman Rustia, Sr., and (3)
the ampun-ampunan Guillermina Rustia Rustia. The opposition was grounded on the theory that Luisa Delgado vda.
de Danao and the other claimants were barred under the law from inheriting from their illegitimate half-blood
relative Josefa Delgado.

In November of 1975, Guillerma Rustia filed a motion to intervene in the proceedings, claiming she was the only
surviving descendant in the direct line of Guillermo Rustia. Despite the objections of the oppositors (respondents herein), the
motion was granted.
On April 3, 1978, the original petition for letters of administration was amended to state that Josefa Delgado and
Guillermo Rustia were never married but had merely lived together as husband and wife.
On January 24, 1980, oppositors (respondents herein) filed a motion to dismiss the petition in the RTC insofar as the
estate of Guillermo Rustia was concerned. The motion was denied on the ground that the interests of the petitioners and the
other claimants remained in issue and should be properly threshed out upon submission of evidence.
On March 14, 1988, Carlota Delgado vda. de de la Rosa substituted for her sister, Luisa Delgado vda. de Danao, who
had died on May 18, 1987.
On May 11, 1990, the RTC appointed Carlota Delgado vda. de de la Rosa as administratrix of both
estates. [27]
The dispositive portion of the decision read:

WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing, petitioner and her co-claimants to the estate of the
late Josefa Delgado listed in the Petitions, and enumerated elsewhere in this Decision, are hereby declared
as the only legal heirs of the said Josefa Delgado who died intestate in the City of Manila on September 8,
1972, and entitled to partition the same among themselves in accordance with the proportions referred to in
this Decision.
Similarly, the intervenor Guillerma S. Rustia is hereby declared as the sole and only surviving heir
of the late Dr. Guillermo Rustia, and thus, entitled to the entire estate of the said decedent, to the exclusion
of the oppositors and the other parties hereto.

The Affidavit of Self-Adjudication of the estate of Josefa Delgado executed by the late Guillermo
J. Rustia on June 15, 1973 is hereby SET ASIDE and declared of no force and effect.

As the estates of both dece[d]ents have not as yet been settled, and their settlement [is]
considered consolidated in this proceeding in accordance with law, a single administrator therefor is both
proper and necessary, and, as the petitioner Carlota Delgado Vda. de dela Rosa has established her right to
the appointment as administratrix of the estates, the Court hereby APPOINTS her as the ADMINISTRATRIX
of the intestate estate of the decedent JOSEFA DELGADO in relation to the estate of DR. GUILLERMO J.
RUSTIA.

Accordingly, let the corresponding LETTERS OF ADMINISTRATION issue to the petitioner CARLOTA
DELGADO VDA. DE DE LA ROSA upon her filing of the requisite bond in the sum of FIVE HUNDRED
THOUSAND PESOS (P500,000.00).

Finally, oppositor GUILLERMINA RUSTIA RUSTIA is hereby ordered to cease and desist from her acts
of administration of the subject estates, and is likewise ordered to turn over to the
appointed administratix all her collections of the rentals and income due on the assets of the estates in
question, including all documents, papers, records and titles pertaining to such estates to the petitioner and
appointed administratix CARLOTA DELGADO VDA. DE DE LA ROSA, immediately upon receipt of this
Decision. The same oppositor is hereby required to render an accounting of her actual administration of the
estates in controversy within a period of sixty (60) days from receipt hereof.

SO ORDERED.[28]

On May 20, 1990, oppositors filed an appeal which was denied on the ground that the record on appeal was not filed
on time.[29] They then filed a petition for certiorari and mandamus[30]which was dismissed by the Court of
Appeals. [31]
However, on motion for reconsideration and after hearing the parties oral arguments, the Court of Appeals
reversed itself and gave due course to oppositors appeal in the interest of substantial justice.[32]
In a petition for review to this Court, petitioners assailed the resolution of the Court of Appeals, on the ground
that oppositors failure to file the record on appeal within the reglementaryperiod was a jurisdictional defect which nullified
the appeal. On October 10, 1997, this Court allowed the continuance of the appeal. The pertinent portion of our
decision[33] read:

As a rule, periods prescribed to do certain acts must be followed. However, under


exceptional circumstances, a delay in the filing of an appeal may be excused on grounds of
substantial justice.

xxx xxx xxx

The respondent court likewise pointed out the trial courts pronouncements as to certain matters of
substance, relating to the determination of the heirs of the decedents and the party entitled to the
administration of their estate, which were to be raised in the appeal, but were barred absolutely by the
denial of the record on appeal upon too technical ground of late filing.

xxx xxx xxx

In this instance, private respondents intention to raise valid issues in the appeal is apparent and
should not have been construed as an attempt to delay or prolong the administration proceedings.

xxx xxx xxx

A review of the trial courts decision is needed.

xxx xxx xxx

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing considerations, the Court hereby AFFIRMS the Resolution
dated November 27, 1991 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 23415, for the APPROVAL of the
private respondents Record on Appeal and the CONTINUANCE of the appeal from the Manila, Branch LV
Regional Trial Courts May 11, 1990 decision.

SO ORDERED.

Acting on the appeal, the Court of Appeals[34] partially set aside the trial courts decision. Upon motion for
reconsideration,[35] the Court of Appeals amended its earlier decision.[36] The dispositive portion of the amended decision
read:

With the further modification, our assailed decision


is RECONSIDERED and VACATED. Consequently, the decision of the trial court is REVERSED and SET
ASIDE. A new one is hereby RENDERED declaring: 1.) Dr. Guillermo Rustia and Josefa Delgado Rustia to
have been legally married; 2.) the intestate estate of Dr. Guillermo Rustia, Jacoba Delgado-Encinas and the
children of Gorgonio Delgado (Campo) entitled to partition among themselves the intestate estate
of Josefa D. Rustia in accordance with the proportion referred to in this decision; 3.) the oppositors-
appellants as the legal heirs of the late Dr. Guillermo Rustia and thereby entitled to partition his estate in
accordance with the proportion referred to herein; and 4.) the intervenor-appellee Guillerma S. Rustia as
ineligible to inherit from the late Dr. Guillermo Rustia; thus revoking her appointment as administratrix of
his estate.

The letters of administration of the intestate estate of Dr. Guillermo Rustia in relation to the
intestate estate of Josefa Delgado shall issue to the nominee of the oppositors-appellants upon his or her
qualification and filing of the requisite bond in the sum of FIVE HUNDRED THOUSAND PESOS (P500,000.00).

Oppositor-appellant Guillermina Rustia Rustia is hereby ordered to cease and desist from her acts of
administration of the subject estates and to turn over to the appointed administrator all her collections of
the rentals and incomes due on the assets of the estates in question, including all documents, papers,
records and titles pertaining to such estates to the appointed administrator, immediately upon notice of his
qualification and posting of the requisite bond, and to render an accounting of her
(Guillermina Rustia Rustia) actual administration of the estates in controversy within a period of sixty (60)
days from notice of the administrators qualification and posting of the bond.
The issue of the validity of the affidavit of self-adjudication executed by Dr. Guillermo Rustia on
June 15, 1973 is REMANDED to the trial court for further proceedings to determine the extent of the shares
of Jacoba Delgado-Encinasand the children of Gorgonio Delgado (Campo) affected by the said adjudication.

Hence, this recourse.

The issues for our resolution are:

1. whether there was a valid marriage between Guillermo Rustia and Josefa Delgado;

2. who the legal heirs of the decedents Guillermo Rustia and Josefa Delgado are;

3. who should be issued letters of administration.

THE MARRIAGE OF GUILLERMO RUSTIA AND JOSEFA DELGADO

A presumption is an inference of the existence or non-existence of a fact which courts are permitted to draw from
proof of other facts. Presumptions are classified into presumptions of law and presumptions of fact. Presumptions of law are,
in turn, either conclusive or disputable.[37]

Rule 131, Section 3 of the Rules of Court provides:

Sec. 3. Disputable presumptions. The following presumptions are satisfactory if uncontradicted, but may be
contradicted and overcome by other evidence:

xxx xxx xxx

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

xxx xxx xxx

In this case, several circumstances give rise to the presumption that a valid marriage existed between
Guillermo Rustia and Josefa Delgado. Their cohabitation of more than 50 years cannot be doubted. Their family and friends
knew them to be married. Their reputed status as husband and wife was such that even the original petition for letters of
administration filed by Luisa Delgado vda. de Danao in 1975 referred to them as spouses.

Yet, petitioners maintain that Josefa Delgado and Guillermo Rustia had simply lived together as husband and wife
without the benefit of marriage. They make much of the absence of a record of the contested marriage, the testimony of a
witness[38] attesting that they were not married, and a baptismal certificate which referred to Josefa Delgado as Seorita or
unmarried woman.[39]
We are not persuaded.
First, although a marriage contract is considered a primary evidence of marriage, its absence is not always proof that
no marriage in fact took place.[40] Once the presumption of marriage arises, other evidence may be presented in support
thereof. The evidence need not necessarily or directly establish the marriage but must at least be enough to strengthen the
presumption of marriage. Here, the certificate of identity issued to Josefa Delgado as Mrs. Guillermo Rustia,[41] the passport
issued to her as Josefa D. Rustia,[42] the declaration under oath of no less than Guillermo Rustia that he was married
to Josefa Delgado[43] and the titles to the properties in the name of Guillermo Rustia married to Josefa Delgado, more than
adequately support the presumption of marriage. These are public documents which are prima facie evidence of the facts
stated therein.[44] No clear and convincing evidence sufficient to overcome the presumption of the truth of the recitals therein
was presented by petitioners.

Second, Elisa vda. de Anson, petitioners own witness whose testimony they primarily relied upon to support their
position, confirmed that Guillermo Rustia had proposed marriage to JosefaDelgado and that eventually, the two had lived
together as husband and wife. This again could not but strengthen the presumption of marriage.

Third, the baptismal certificate[45] was conclusive proof only of the baptism administered by the priest who baptized
the child. It was no proof of the veracity of the declarations and statements contained therein,[46] such as the alleged single
or unmarried (Seorita) civil status of Josefa Delgado who had no hand in its preparation.

Petitioners failed to rebut the presumption of marriage of Guillermo Rustia and Josefa Delgado. In this jurisdiction,
every intendment of the law leans toward legitimizing matrimony. Persons dwelling together apparently in marriage are
presumed to be in fact married. This is the usual order of things in society and, if the parties are not what they hold
themselves out to be, they would be living in constant violation of the common rules of law and
propriety. Semper praesumitur pro matrimonio. Always presume marriage. [47]

THE LAWFUL HEIRS OF JOSEFA DELGADO

To determine who the lawful heirs of Josefa Delgado are, the questioned status of the cohabitation of her
mother Felisa Delgado with Ramon Osorio must first be addressed.

As mentioned earlier, presumptions of law are either conclusive or disputable. Conclusive presumptions are
inferences which the law makes so peremptory that no contrary proof, no matter how strong, may overturn them. [48] On the
other hand, disputable presumptions, one of which is the presumption of marriage, can be relied on only in the absence of
sufficient evidence to the contrary.

Little was said of the cohabitation or alleged marriage of Felisa Delgado and Ramon Osorio. The oppositors (now
respondents) chose merely to rely on the disputable presumption of marriage even in the face of such countervailing
evidence as (1) the continued use by Felisa and Luis (her son with Ramon Osorio) of the surname Delgado and (2) Luis
Delgados and Caridad ConcepcionsPartida de Casamiento[49] identifying Luis as hijo natural de Felisa Delgado (the natural
child of Felisa Delgado).[50]

All things considered, we rule that these factors sufficiently overcame the rebuttable presumption of
marriage. Felisa Delgado and Ramon Osorio were never married. Hence, all the children born to Felisa Delgado out of her
relations with Ramon Osorio and Lucio Campo, namely, Luis and his half-blood siblings Nazario, Edilberta,
Jose, Jacoba, Gorgonio and the decedent Josefa, all surnamed Delgado, [51]
were her natural children.[52]
Pertinent to this matter is the following observation:

Suppose, however, that A begets X with B, and Y with another woman, C; then X and Y would be
natural brothers and sisters, but of half-blood relationship. Can they succeed each other reciprocally?

The law prohibits reciprocal succession between illegitimate children and legitimate children of the
same parent, even though there is unquestionably a tie of blood between them. It seems that to allow an
illegitimate child to succeed ab intestato (from) another illegitimate child begotten with a parent different
from that of the former, would be allowing the illegitimate child greater rights than a
legitimate child. Notwithstanding this, however, we submit that
succession should be allowed, even when the illegitimate brothers and sisters are only of the half-blood. The
reason impelling the prohibition on reciprocal successions between legitimate and illegitimate families does
not apply to the case under consideration. That prohibition has for its basis the difference in category
between illegitimate and legitimate relatives. There is no such difference when all the children are
illegitimate children of the same parent, even if begotten with different persons. They all stand on the same
footing before the law, just like legitimate children of half-blood relation. We submit, therefore, that the
rules regarding succession of legitimate brothers and sisters should be applicable to them. Full blood
illegitimate brothers and sisters should receive double the portion of half-blood brothers and sisters; and if
all are either of the full blood or of the half-blood, they shall share equally.[53]

Here, the above-named siblings of Josefa Delgado were related to her by full-blood, except Luis Delgado, her half-
brother. Nonetheless, since they were all illegitimate, they may inherit from each other. Accordingly, all of them are entitled
to inherit from Josefa Delgado.

We note, however, that the petitioners before us are already the nephews, nieces, grandnephews and grandnieces
of Josefa Delgado. Under Article 972 of the new Civil Code, the right of representation in the collateral line takes place only in
favor of the children of brothers and sisters (nephews and nieces). Consequently, it cannot be exercised by grandnephews
and grandnieces.[54] Therefore, the only collateral relatives of Josefa Delgado who are entitled to partake of her intestate
estate are her brothers and sisters, or their children who were still alive at the time of her death on September 8, 1972. They
have a vested right to participate in the inheritance.[55] The records not being clear on this matter, it is now for the trial court
to determine who were the surviving brothers and sisters (or their children) of Josefa Delgado at the time of her death.
Together with Guillermo Rustia,[56] they are entitled to inherit from Josefa Delgado in accordance with Article 1001 of the new
Civil Code:[57]

Art. 1001. Should brothers and sisters or their children survive with the widow or widower, the latter shall
be entitled to one-half of the inheritance and the brothers and sisters or their children to the other one-half.
Since Josefa Delgado had heirs other than Guillermo Rustia, Guillermo could not have validly
adjudicated Josefas estate all to himself. Rule 74, Section 1 of the Rules of Court is clear.Adjudication by an heir of the
decedents entire estate to himself by means of an affidavit is allowed only if he is the sole heir to the estate:

SECTION 1. Extrajudicial settlement by agreement between heirs. If the decedent left no will and no debts
and the heirs are all of age, or the minors are represented by their judicial or legal representatives duly
authorized for the purpose, the parties may, without securing letters of administration, divide the estate
among themselves as they see fit by means of a public instrument filed in the office of the register of deeds,
and should they disagree, they may do so in an ordinary action of partition. If there is only one heir, he
may adjudicate to himself the estate by means of an affidavit filed in the office of the register of
deeds. x x x (emphasis supplied)

THE LAWFUL HEIRS OF GUILLERMO RUSTIA

Intervenor (now co-respondent) Guillerma Rustia is an illegitimate child[58] of Guillermo Rustia. As such, she may be
entitled to successional rights only upon proof of an admission or recognition of paternity.[59] She, however, claimed the
status of an acknowledged illegitimate child of Guillermo Rustia only after the death of the latter on February 28, 1974 at
which time it was already the new Civil Code that was in effect.

Under the old Civil Code (which was in force till August 29, 1950), illegitimate children absolutely had no hereditary
rights. This draconian edict was, however, later relaxed in the new Civil Code which granted certain successional rights to
illegitimate children but only on condition that they were first recognized or acknowledged by the parent.

Under the new law, recognition may be compulsory or voluntary.[60] Recognition is compulsory in any of the following
cases:

(1) in cases of rape, abduction or seduction, when the period of the offense coincides more or less
with that of the conception;
(2) when the child is in continuous possession of status of a child of the alleged father (or
mother)[61] by the direct acts of the latter or of his family;
(3) when the child was conceived during the time when the mother cohabited with the supposed
father;
(4) when the child has in his favor any evidence or proof that the defendant is his father. [62]

On the other hand, voluntary recognition may be made in the record of birth, a will, a statement before a court of record or
in any authentic writing.[63]

Intervenor Guillerma sought recognition on two grounds: first, compulsory recognition through the open and
continuous possession of the status of an illegitimate child and second, voluntary recognition through authentic writing.

There was apparently no doubt that she possessed the status of an illegitimate child from her birth until the death of
her putative father Guillermo Rustia. However, this did not constitute acknowledgment but a mere ground by which she could
have compelled acknowledgment through the courts.[64] Furthermore, any (judicial) action for compulsory acknowledgment
has a dual limitation: the lifetime of the child and the lifetime of the putative parent.[65] On the death of either, the action for
compulsory recognition can no longer be filed.[66] In this case, intervenor-Guillerma’s right to claim compulsory
acknowledgment prescribed upon the death of Guillermo Rustia on February 28, 1974.
The claim of voluntary recognition (Guillermas second ground) must likewise fail. An authentic writing, for purposes
of voluntary recognition, is understood as a genuine or indubitable writing of the parent (in this case, Guillermo Rustia). This
includes a public instrument or a private writing admitted by the father to be his.[67] Did intervenors report card from the
University of Santo Tomas and Josefa Delgados obituary prepared by Guillermo Rustia qualify as authentic writings under the
new Civil Code? Unfortunately not. The report card of intervenor Guillerma did not bear the signature of Guillermo Rustia.
The fact that his name appears there as intervenors parent/guardian holds no weight since he had no participation in its
preparation. Similarly, while witnesses testified that it was Guillermo Rustia himself who drafted the notice of death
of Josefa Delgado which was published in the SUNDAY TIMES on September 10, 1972, that published obituary
was not the authentic writing contemplated by the law. What could have been admitted as an authentic writing
was the original manuscript of the notice, in the handwriting of Guillermo Rustia himself and signed by him, not the
newspaper clipping of the obituary. The failure to present the original signed manuscript was fatal to intervenors claim.

The same misfortune befalls the ampun-ampunan, Guillermina Rustia Rustia, who was never adopted in accordance
with law. Although a petition for her adoption was filed by Guillermo Rustia, it never came to fruition and was dismissed upon
the latters death. We affirm the ruling of both the trial court and the Court of Appeals holding her a legal stranger to the
deceased spouses and therefore not entitled to inherit from them ab intestato. We quote:

Adoption is a juridical act, a proceeding in rem, which [created] between two persons a relationship
similar to that which results from legitimate paternity and filiation. Only an adoption made through the
court, or in pursuance with the procedure laid down under Rule 99 of the Rules of Court is valid in this
jurisdiction. It is not of natural law at all, but is wholly and entirely artificial. To establish the relation, the
statutory requirements must be strictly carried out, otherwise, the adoption is an absolute nullity. The fact
of adoption is never presumed, but must be affirmatively [proven] by the person claiming its existence.[68]

Premises considered, we rule that two of the claimants to the estate of Guillermo Rustia,
namely, intervenor Guillerma Rustia and the ampun-ampunan Guillermina Rustia Rustia, are not lawful heirs of the
decedent. Under Article 1002 of the new Civil Code, if there are no descendants, ascendants, illegitimate children, or
surviving spouse, the collateral relatives shall succeed to the entire estate of the deceased. Therefore, the lawful heirs of
Guillermo Rustia are the remaining claimants, consisting of his sisters,[69] nieces and nephews.[70]

ENTITLEMENT TO LETTERS OF ADMINISTRATION

An administrator is a person appointed by the court to administer the intestate estate of the decedent. Rule 78,
Section 6 of the Rules of Court prescribes an order of preference in the appointment of an administrator:

Sec. 6. When and to whom letters of administration granted. If no executor is named in the will, or the
executor or executors are incompetent, refuse the trust, or fail to give a bond, or a person dies intestate,
administration shall be granted:

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

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

(c) If there is no such creditor competent and willing to serve, it may be granted to such other person
as the court may select.

In the appointment of an administrator, the principal consideration is the interest in the estate of the one to be
appointed.[71] The order of preference does not rule out the appointment of co-administrators, specially in cases where
justice and equity demand that opposing parties or factions be represented in the management of the estates,[72] a situation
which obtains here.
It is in this light that we see fit to appoint joint administrators, in the persons of Carlota Delgado vda. de de la Rosa
and a nominee of the nephews and nieces of Guillermo Rustia. They are the next of kin of the deceased
spouses Josefa Delgado and Guillermo Rustia, respectively.

WHEREFORE, the petition (which seeks to reinstate the May 11, 1990 decision of the RTC Manila, Branch 55) is
hereby DENIED. The assailed October 24, 2002 decision of the Court of Appeals is AFFIRMED with the following
modifications:

1. Guillermo Rustias June 15, 1973 affidavit of self-adjudication is hereby ANNULLED.


2. the intestate estate of Guillermo Rustia shall inherit half of the intestate estate of Josefa Delgado. The
remaining half shall pertain to (a) the full and half-siblings of Josefa Delgado who survived her and (b) the
children of any of Josefa Delgados full- or half-siblings who may have predeceased her, also surviving at the
time of her death. Josefa Delgados grandnephews and grandnieces are excluded from her estate. In this
connection, the trial court is hereby ordered to determine the identities of the relatives of Josefa Delgado
who are entitled to share in her estate.
3. Guillermo Rustias estate (including its one-half share of Josefa Delgados estate) shall be inherited
by Marciana Rustia vda. de Damian and Hortencia Rustia Cruz (whose respective shares shall be per capita)
and the children of the late Roman Rustia, Sr. (who survived Guillermo Rustia and whose respective shares
shall be per stirpes). Considering that MarcianaRustia vda. de Damian and Hortencia Rustia Cruz are now
deceased, their respective shares shall pertain to their estates.
4. Letters of administration over the still unsettled intestate estates of Guillermo Rustia and Josefa Delgado
shall issue to Carlota Delgado vda. de de la Rosa and to a nominee from among the heirs of
Guillermo Rustia, as joint administrators, upon their qualification and filing of the requisite bond in such
amount as may be determined by the trial court.

No pronouncement as to costs.

SO ORDERED.
NINAL vs BAYADOG, GR No. 133778, March 14, 2000

DECISION
YNARES_SANTIAGO, J.:
May the heirs of a deceased person file a petition for the declaration of nullity of his marriage after his death?
Pepito Nial was married to Teodulfa Bellones on September 26, 1974. Out of their marriage were born herein petitioners.
Teodulfa was shot by Pepito resulting in her death on April 24, 1985.
One year and 8 months thereafter or on December 11, 1986, Pepito and respondent Norma Badayog got married without any
marriage license. In lieu thereof, Pepito and Norma 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 from securing a marriage license. On
February 19, 1997,
Pepito died in a car accident. After their fathers death, petitioners filed a petition for declaration of nullity of the marriage of
Pepito to Norma alleging that the said marriage was void for lack of a marriage license. The case was filed under the
assumption that the validity or invalidity of the second marriage would affect petitioners successional rights. Norma filed a
motion to dismiss on the ground that petitioners have no cause of action since they are not among the persons who could file
an action for "annulment of marriage" under Article 47 of the Family Code.
Judge Ferdinand J. Marcos of the Regional Trial Court of Toledo City, Cebu, Branch 59, dismissed the petition after finding
that the Family Code is "rather silent, obscure, insufficient" to resolve the following issues:
(1) Whether or not plaintiffs have a cause of action against defendant in asking for the declaration of the
nullity of marriage of their deceased father, Pepito G. Nial, with her specially so when at the time of the
filing of this instant suit, their father Pepito G. Nial is already dead;
(2) Whether or not the second marriage of plaintiffs deceased father with defendant is null and void ab
initio;
(3) Whether or not plaintiffs are estopped from assailing the validity of the second marriage after it was
dissolved due to their fathers death.[1]
Thus, the lower court ruled that petitioners should have filed the action to declare null and void their fathers marriage to
respondent before his 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 marriage.[2] Hence, this petition for review with this Court grounded on a pure
question of law. Scnc m
This petition was originally dismissed for non-compliance with Section 11, Rule 13 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, and
because "the verification failed to state the basis of petitioners averment that the allegations in the petition are true and
correct." It was thus treated as an unsigned pleading which produces no legal effect under Section 3, Rule 7, of the 1997
Rules.[3] However, upon motion of petitioners, this Court reconsidered the dismissal and reinstated the petition for review.[4]

The two marriages involved herein having been solemnized prior to the effectivity of the Family Code (FC), the applicable law
to determine their validity is the Civil Code which was the law in effect at the time of their celebration.[5]
A valid marriage license is a requisite of marriage under Article 53 of the Civil Code,[6] the absence of which renders the
marriage void ab initio pursuant to Article 80(3)[7] in relation to Article 58.[8] The requirement and issuance of marriage
license is the States demonstration of its involvement and participation in every marriage, in the maintenance of which the
general public is interested.[9] This interest proceeds from the constitutional mandate that the State recognizes the sanctity
of family life and of affording protection to the family as a basic "autonomous social institution."[10] Specifically, the
Constitution considers marriage as an "inviolable social institution," and is the foundation of family life which 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 considers it "not just an adventure but a lifetime commitment."[13]
(EXEMPTION) : However, there are several instances recognized by the Civil Code wherein 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 lived together
and exclusively with each other as husband and wife for a continuous and unbroken period of at least five years before the
marriage. The rationale why no license is required in such case is to avoid exposing the parties to humiliation, shame and
embarrassment concomitant with the scandalous cohabitation of persons outside a valid marriage due to the publication of
every applicants name for a marriage license. The publicity attending the marriage license may discourage such persons from
legitimizing their status.[15] To preserve peace in the family, avoid the peeping and suspicious eye of public exposure and
contain the source of gossip arising from the publication of their names, the law deemed it wise to preserve their privacy and
exempt them from that requirement. Sdaa miso
There is no dispute that the marriage of petitioners father to respondent Norma was celebrated without any marriage license.
In lieu thereof, they executed an affidavit stating that "they have attained the age of majority, and, being unmarried, have
lived together as husband and wife for at least five years, and that we now desire to marry each other."[16]

The only issue 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 the five year period in order to exempt the future spouses from securing a marriage license.
Should it be a cohabitation wherein both parties are capacitated to marry each other during the entire five-year continuous
period or should it be a cohabitation wherein both parties have lived together and exclusively with each other as husband
and wife during the entire five-year continuous period regardless of whether there is a legal impediment to their being
lawfully married, which impediment may have either disappeared or intervened sometime during the cohabitation period?

Working on the assumption that Pepito and Norma have lived together as 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 "husband and wife" where the only
missing factor is the special contract of marriage to validate the union. In other words, the five-year common-law
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 the day of the marriage
and it should be a period of cohabitation characterized by 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 cohabitation is computed without any
distinction as to whether the parties were capacitated to marry each other during the entire five years, then the law would be
sanctioning immorality and encouraging parties to have common law relationships and placing them on the same footing with
those who lived faithfully with their spouse.

Marriage being a special relationship must be respected as such and its requirements must be strictly observed. The
presumption that a man and a woman deporting themselves as husband and wife is based on the approximation of the
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 element as a pre-conceived escape ground to nullify their marriage. There should be no
exemption from securing a marriage license unless the 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 or has knowledge of any impediment to the union of the two shall make it known to the local civil
registrar.[17]The Civil Code provides:
Article 63: "x x x. This notice shall request all persons having knowledge of any impediment to the marriage
to advice the local civil registrar thereof. x x x."
Article 64: "Upon being advised of any alleged impediment to the marriage, the local civil registrar shall
forthwith make an investigation, examining persons under oath. x x x" Sdaad
This is reiterated in the Family Code thus:
Article 17 provides in part: "x x x. This notice shall request all persons having knowledge of any impediment
to the marriage to advise the local civil registrar thereof. x x x."
Article 18 reads in part: "x x x. In case of any impediment known to the local civil registrar or brought to his
attention, he shall note down the particulars thereof and his findings thereon in the application for a
marriage license. x x x."
This is the same reason why our civil laws, past or present, absolutely prohibited the concurrence of multiple marriages by
the same person during the same period. Thus, any marriage subsequently contracted 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 dissolved or
annulled. The Revised Penal Code complements the civil law in that the contracting of two or more marriages and the having
of extramarital affairs are considered felonies, i.e., bigamy and concubinage and adultery.[19] The law sanctions monogamy.

In this case, at the time of Pepito and respondents marriage, it cannot be said that they have lived with each other as
husband and wife for at least five years prior to their wedding day. From the time Pepitos first marriage was dissolved to the
time of his marriage with respondent, only about twenty months had elapsed. Even assuming that Pepito and his first wife
had separated in fact, and thereafter both Pepito and respondent had started living with each other that has already lasted
for five years, the fact remains that their five-year period cohabitation was not the cohabitation contemplated by law. It
should be in the nature of a perfect union that is valid under the law but rendered imperfect only by the absence of the
marriage contract. Pepito had a subsisting marriage at the time when he started cohabiting with respondent. It is immaterial
that when they lived with each other, Pepito had already been separated in fact from his lawful spouse. The subsistence of
the marriage even where there was actual severance of the filial companionship between the spouses cannot make any
cohabitation by either spouse with any third party as being one as "husband and wife". Scs daad
Having determined that the second marriage involved in this case is not covered by the exception to the requirement of a
marriage license, it is void ab initio because of the absence of such element.
The next issue to be resolved is: do petitioners have the personality to file a petition to declare their fathers marriage void
after his death?
Contrary to respondent judges ruling, Article 47 of the Family Code[20] cannot be applied even by analogy to petitions for
declaration of nullity of marriage. The second ground for annulment of marriage relied upon by the trial court, which allows
"the sane spouse" to file an annulment suit "at any time before the death of either party" is inapplicable. Article 47 pertains
to the grounds, periods and persons who can file an annulment suit, not a suit for declaration of nullity of marriage. The
Code is silent as to who can file a petition to declare the nullity of a marriage. Voidable and void marriages are not identical.
A marriage that is annulable is valid until otherwise declared by the court; whereas a marriage that is void ab initio is
considered as having never to have taken place[21] and cannot be the source of rights. The first can be generally ratified or
confirmed by free cohabitation or prescription while the other can never be ratified. A voidable marriage cannot be assailed
collaterally except in a direct proceeding while a void marriage can be attacked collaterally. Consequently, void marriages
can be questioned even after the death of either party but voidable marriages can be assailed only during the lifetime of the
parties and not after death of either, in which case the parties and their offspring will be left as if the marriage had been
perfectly valid.[22] That is why the action or defense for nullity is imprescriptible, unlike voidable marriages where the action
prescribes. Only the parties to a voidable marriage can assail it but any proper interested party may attack a void marriage.
Void marriages have no legal effects except those declared by law concerning the properties of the alleged spouses,
regarding co-ownership or ownership through actual joint contribution,[23] and its effect on the children born to such void
marriages as provided in Article 50 in relation to Article 43 and 44 as well as Article 51, 53 and 54 of the Family Code. On the
contrary, the property regime governing voidable marriages is generally conjugal partnership and the children conceived
before its annulment are legitimate. Sup rema
Contrary to the trial courts ruling, the death of petitioners father extinguished the alleged marital bond between him and
respondent. The conclusion is erroneous and proceeds from a wrong premise that there was a marriage bond that was
dissolved between the two. It should be noted that their marriage was void hence it is deemed as if it never existed at all and
the death of either extinguished nothing.
Jurisprudence under the Civil Code states that no judicial decree is 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 original rights or to make the
marriage void but though no sentence of avoidance be absolutely necessary, yet as well for the sake of good order of society
as for the peace of mind of all concerned, it is expedient that the nullity of the marriage should be ascertained and declared
by the decree of a court of competent jurisdiction."[25] "Under ordinary circumstances, the effect of a void marriage, so far as
concerns the conferring of legal rights upon the parties, is as though no marriage had ever taken place. And therefore, being
good for no legal purpose, its invalidity can be maintained in any proceeding in which the fact of marriage may be material,
either 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. Juris
However, other than for purposes of remarriage, no judicial action is necessary to declare a marriage an absolute nullity. 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.
SO ORDERED.
MANZANO vs SANCHEZ, AM. No. MTJ-00-1329, March 8, 2001

RESOLUTION

DAVIDE, JR., C.J.:

The solemnization of a marriage between two contracting parties who were both bound by a prior existing marriage is
the bone of contention of the instant complaint against respondent Judge Roque R. Sanchez, Municipal Trial Court, Infanta,
Pangasinan. For this act, complainant Herminia Borja-Manzano charges respondent Judge with gross ignorance of the law in
a sworn Complaint-Affidavit filed with the Office of the Court Administrator on 12 May 1999.
Complainant avers that she was the lawful wife of the late David Manzano, having been married to him on 21 May 1966
in San Gabriel Archangel Parish, Araneta Avenue, Caloocan City.[1] Four children were born out of that marriage.[2] On 22
March 1993, however, her husband contracted another marriage with one Luzviminda Payao before respondent
Judge.[3] When respondent Judge solemnized said marriage, he knew or ought to know that the same was void and
bigamous, as the marriage contract clearly stated that both contracting parties were separated.
Respondent Judge, on the other hand, claims in his Comment that when he officiated the marriage between Manzano
and Payao he did not know that Manzano was legally married. What he knew was that the two had been living together as
husband and wife for seven years already without the benefit of marriage, as manifested in their joint affidavit. [4] According
to him, had he known that the late Manzano was married, he would have advised the latter not to marry again; otherwise,
he (Manzano) could be charged with bigamy. He then prayed that the complaint be dismissed for lack of merit and for being
designed merely to harass him.
After an evaluation of the Complaint and the Comment, the Court Administrator recommended that respondent Judge
be found guilty of gross ignorance of the law and be ordered to pay a fine of P2,000, with a warning that a repetition of the
same or similar act would be dealt with more severely.
On 25 October 2000, this Court required the parties to manifest whether they were willing to submit the case for
resolution on the basis of the pleadings thus filed. Complainant answered in the affirmative.
For his part, respondent Judge filed a Manifestation reiterating his plea for the dismissal of the complaint and setting
aside his earlier Comment. He therein invites the attention of the Court to two separate affidavits[5] of the late Manzano and
of Payao, which were allegedly unearthed by a member of his staff upon his instruction. In those affidavits, both David
Manzano and Luzviminda Payao expressly stated that they were married to Herminia Borja and Domingo Relos, respectively;
and that since their respective marriages had been marked by constant quarrels, they had both left their families and had
never cohabited or communicated with their spouses anymore. Respondent Judge alleges that on the basis of those
affidavits, he agreed to solemnize the marriage in question in accordance with Article 34 of the Family Code.
We find merit in the complaint.
Article 34 of the Family Code provides:

No license shall be necessary for the marriage of a man and a woman who have lived together as husband and wife for at
least five years and without any legal impediment to marry each other. The contracting parties shall state the foregoing facts
in an affidavit before any person authorized by law to administer oaths. The solemnizing officer shall also state under oath
that he ascertained the qualifications of the contracting parties and found no legal impediment to the marriage.

For this provision on legal ratification of marital cohabitation to apply, the following requisites must concur:

1. The man and woman must have been living together as husband and wife for at least five years before the
marriage;
2. The parties must have no legal impediment to marry each other;
3. The fact of absence of legal impediment between the parties must be present at the time of marriage;
4. The parties must execute an affidavit stating that they have lived together for at least five years [and are
without legal impediment to marry each other]; and
5. The solemnizing officer must execute a sworn statement that he had ascertained the qualifications of the parties
and that he had found no legal impediment to their marriage.[6]

Not all of these requirements are present in the case at bar. It is significant to note that in their separate affidavits
executed on 22 March 1993 and sworn to before respondent Judge himself, David Manzano and Luzviminda Payao expressly
stated the fact of their prior existing marriage. Also, in their marriage contract, it was indicated that both were separated.
Respondent Judge knew or ought to know that a subsisting previous marriage is a diriment impediment, which would
make the subsequent marriage null and void.[7] In fact, in his Comment, he stated that had he known that the late Manzano
was married he would have discouraged him from contracting another marriage. And respondent Judge cannot deny
knowledge of Manzanos and Payaos subsisting previous marriage, as the same was clearly stated in their separate affidavits
which were subscribed and sworn to before him.
The fact that Manzano and Payao had been living apart from their respective spouses for a long time already is
immaterial. Article 63(1) of the Family Code allows spouses who have obtained a decree of legal separation to live separately
from each other, but in such a case the marriage bonds are not severed. Elsewise stated, legal separation does not
dissolve the marriage tie, much less authorize the parties to remarry. This holds true all the more when the separation is
merely de facto, as in the case at bar.
Neither can respondent Judge take refuge on the Joint Affidavit of David Manzano and Luzviminda Payao stating that
they had been cohabiting as husband and wife for seven years. Just like separation, free and voluntary cohabitation with
another person for at least five years does not severe the tie of a subsisting previous marriage. Marital cohabitation for a
long period of time between two individuals who are legally capacitated to marry each other is merely a ground for
exemption from marriage license. It could not serve as a justification for respondent Judge to solemnize a subsequent
marriage vitiated by the impediment of a prior existing marriage.
Clearly, respondent Judge demonstrated gross ignorance of the law when he solemnized a void and bigamous
marriage. The maxim ignorance of the law excuses no one has special application to judges,[8] who, under Rule 1.01 of the
Code of Judicial Conduct, should be the embodiment of competence, integrity, and independence. It is highly imperative that
judges be conversant with the law and basic legal principles.[9] And when the law transgressed is simple and elementary, the
failure to know it constitutes gross ignorance of the law.[10]
ACCORDINGLY, the recommendation of the Court Administrator is hereby ADOPTED, with the MODIFICATION that the
amount of fine to be imposed upon respondent Judge Roque Sanchez is increased to P20,000.

SO ORDERED.
CARLOS vs SANDOVAL, GR. No. 179922, December 16, 2008
DECISION

REYES, R.T., J.:

ONLY a spouse can initiate an action to sever the marital bond for marriages solemnized during the effectivity of the
Family Code, except cases commenced prior to March 15, 2003. The nullity and annulment of a marriage cannot be declared
in a judgment on the pleadings, summary judgment, or confession of judgment.

We pronounce these principles as We review on certiorari the Decision[1] of the Court of Appeals (CA) which reversed
and set aside the summary judgment[2] of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in an action for declaration of nullity of marriage,
status of a child, recovery of property, reconveyance, sum of money, and damages.

The Facts

The events that led to the institution of the instant suit are unveiled as follows:

Spouses Felix B. Carlos and Felipa Elemia died intestate. They left six parcels of land to their compulsory
heirs, Teofilo Carlos and petitioner Juan De Dios Carlos. The lots are particularly described as follows:

Parcel No. 1

Lot No. 162 of the MUNTINLUPA ESTATE SUBDIVISION, Case No. 6137 of the Court of Land Registration.

Exemption from the provisions of Article 567 of the Civil Code is specifically reserved.

Area: 1 hectare, 06 ares, 07 centares.

Parcel No. 2

A parcel of land (Lot No. 159-B), being a portion of Lot 159, situated in the Bo. of
Alabang, Municipality of Muntinlupa, Province of Rizal, x x x containing an area of Thirteen Thousand Four
Hundred Forty One (13,441) square meters.

Parcel No. 3

A parcel of land (Lot 159-B-2 of the subd. plan [LRC] Psd-325903, approved as a non-subd. project), being
a portion of Lot 159-B [LRC] Psd- Alabang, Mun. of Muntinlupa, Metro Manila, Island of Luzon. Bounded on
the NE, points 2 to 4 by Lot 155, Muntinlupa Estate; on the SE, point 4 to 5 by Lot 159-B-5; on the S, points
5 to 1 by Lot 159-B-3; on the W, points 1 to 2 by Lot 159-B-1 (Road widening) all of the subd. plan,
containing an area of ONE HUNDRED THIRTY (130) SQ. METERS, more or less.
PARCEL No. 4

A parcel of land (Lot 28-C of the subd. plan Psd-13-007090, being a portion of Lot 28, Muntinlupa Estate,
L.R.C. Rec. No. 6137), situated in the Bo. of Alabang, Mun. of Muntinlupa, Metro Manila. Bounded on the NE,
along lines 1-2 by Lot 27, Muntinlupa Estate; on the East & SE, along lines 2 to 6 by Mangangata River; and
on the West., along line 6-1, by Lot 28-B of the subd. plan x x x containing an area
of ONE THUSAND AND SEVENTY-SIX (1,076) SQUARE METERS.

PARCEL No. 5

PARCELA DE TERRENO No. 50, Manzana No. 18, de la subd. de Solocan. Linda por el NW, con la parcela 49;
por el NE, con la parcela 36; por el SE, con la parcela 51; y por el SW, con la calle Dos Castillas. Partiendo
de un punto marcado 1 en el plano, el cual se halla a S. gds. 01'W, 72.50 mts. Desde el punto 1 de esta
manzana, que es un mojon de concreto de la Ciudad de Manila, situado on el esquina E. que forman las
Calles Laong Laan y Dos. Castillas, continiendo un extension superficial de CIENTO CINCUENTA (150)
METROS CUADRADOS.

PARCEL No. 6

PARCELA DE TERRENO No. 51, Manzana No. 18, de la subd. De Solocon. Linda por el NW, con la parcela 50;
por el NE, con la parcela 37; por el SE, con la parcela 52; por el SW, con la Calle Dos Castillas. Partiendo de
un punto Marcado 1 en el plano, el cual se halla at S. 43 gds. 01'E, 82.50 mts. Desde el punto 1 de esta
manzana, que es un mojon de concreto de la Ciudad de Manila, situado on el esquina E. que forman las
Calles Laong Laan y Dos. Castillas, continiendo una extension superficial de CIENTO CINCUENTA (150)
METROS CUADRADOS.[3]

During the lifetime of Felix Carlos, he agreed to transfer his estate to Teofilo. The agreement was made in order to
avoid the payment of inheritance taxes. Teofilo, in turn, undertook to deliver and turn over the share of the other legal
heir, petitioner Juan De Dios Carlos.

Eventually, the first three (3) parcels of land were transferred and registered in the name of Teofilo. These three (3)
lots are now covered by Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. 234824 issued by the Registry of Deeds of Makati
City; TCT No. 139061 issued by the Registry of Deeds of Makati City; and TCT No. 139058 issued by the Registry of Deeds of
Makati City.

Parcel No. 4 was registered in the name of petitioner. The lot is now covered by TCT No. 160401 issued by the
Registry of Deeds of Makati City.

On May 13, 1992, Teofilo died intestate. He was survived by respondents Felicidad and their son, Teofilo Carlos II
(Teofilo II). Upon Teofilos death, Parcel Nos. 5 & 6 were registered in the name of respondent Felicidad and co-respondent,
Teofilo II. The said two (2) parcels of land are covered by TCT Nos. 219877 and 210878, respectively, issued by the Registry
of Deeds of Manila.
In 1994, petitioner instituted a suit against respondents before the RTC in Muntinlupa City, docketed as Civil Case
No. 94-1964. In the said case, the parties submitted and caused the approval of a partial compromise agreement. Under the
compromise, the parties acknowledged their respective shares in the proceeds from the sale of a portion of the first parcel of
land. This includes the remaining 6,691-square-meter portion of said land.

On September 17, 1994, the parties executed a deed of extrajudicial partition, dividing the remaining land of the
first parcel between them.

Meanwhile, in a separate case entitled Rillo v. Carlos,[4] 2,331 square meters of the second parcel of land were
adjudicated in favor of plaintiffs Rillo. The remaining 10,000-square meter portion was later divided between petitioner and
respondents.

The division was incorporated in a supplemental compromise agreement executed on August 17, 1994, with respect
to Civil Case No. 94-1964. The parties submitted the supplemental compromise agreement, which was approved accordingly.
Petitioner and respondents entered into two more contracts in August 1994. Under the contracts, the parties equally
divided between them the third and fourth parcels of land.

In August 1995, petitioner commenced an action, docketed as Civil Case No. 95-135, against respondents before the
court a quo with the following causes of action: (a) declaration of nullity of marriage; (b) status of a child; (c) recovery of
property; (d) reconveyance; and (e) sum of money and damages. The complaint was raffled to Branch 256 of the RTC in
Muntinlupa.

In his complaint, petitioner asserted that the marriage between his late brother Teofilo and respondent Felicidad was
a nullity in view of the absence of the required marriage license. He likewise maintained that his deceased brother was
neither the natural nor the adoptive father of respondent Teofilo Carlos II.

Petitioner likewise sought the avoidance of the contracts he entered into with respondent Felicidad with respect to
the subject real properties. He also prayed for the cancellation of the certificates of title issued in the name of
respondents. He argued that the properties covered by such certificates of title, including the sums received by respondents
as proceeds, should be reconveyed to him.

Finally, petitioner claimed indemnification as and by way of moral and exemplary damages, attorneys fees, litigation
expenses, and costs of suit.

On October 16, 1995, respondents submitted their answer. They denied the material averments of petitioners
complaint. Respondents contended that the dearth of details regarding the requisite marriage license did not invalidate
Felicidads marriage to Teofilo. Respondents declared that Teofilo II was the illegitimate child of the
deceased Teofilo Carlos with another woman.

On the grounds of lack of cause of action and lack of jurisdiction over the subject matter, respondents prayed for the
dismissal of the case before the trial court. They also asked that their counterclaims for moral and exemplary damages, as
well as attorneys fees, be granted.

But before the parties could even proceed to pre-trial, respondents moved for summary judgment. Attached to the
motion was the affidavit of the justice of the peace who solemnized the marriage. Respondents also submitted the Certificate
of Live Birth of respondent Teofilo II. In the certificate, the late Teofilo Carlos and respondent Felicidad were designated as
parents.

On January 5, 1996, petitioner opposed the motion for summary judgment on the ground of irregularity of the
contract evidencing the marriage. In the same breath, petitioner lodged his own motion for summary judgment. Petitioner
presented a certification from the Local Civil Registrar of Calumpit, Bulacan, certifying that there is no record of birth of
respondent Teofilo II.

Petitioner also incorporated in the counter-motion for summary judgment the testimony of respondent Felicidad in
another case. Said testimony was made in Civil Case No. 89-2384, entitled Carlos v. Gorospe, before the RTCBranch 255, Las
Pias. In her testimony, respondent Felicidad narrated that co-respondent Teofilo II is her child with Teofilo.[5]

Subsequently, the Office of the City Prosecutor of Muntinlupa submitted to the trial court its report and
manifestation, discounting the possibility of collusion between the parties.
RTC and CA Dispositions

On April 8, 1996, the RTC rendered judgment, disposing as follows:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, defendants (respondents) Motion for Summary Judgment is


hereby denied. Plaintiffs (petitioners) Counter-Motion for Summary Judgment is hereby granted and
summary judgment is hereby rendered in favor of plaintiff as follows:

1. Declaring the marriage between defendant Felicidad Sandoval and Teofilo Carlos solemnized at
Silang, Cavite on May 14, 1962, evidenced by the Marriage Certificate submitted in this case, null and
void ab initio for lack of the requisite marriage license;

2. Declaring that the defendant minor, Teofilo S. Carlos II, is not the natural, illegitimate, or legally
adopted child of the late Teofilo E. Carlos;
3. Ordering defendant Sandoval to pay and restitute to plaintiff the sum of P18,924,800.00 together
with the interest thereon at the legal rate from date of filing of the instant complaint until fully paid;

4. Declaring plaintiff as the sole and exclusive owner of the parcel of land, less the portion
adjudicated to plaintiffs in Civil Case No. 11975, covered by TCT No. 139061 of the Register of Deeds of
Makati City, and ordering said Register of Deeds to cancel said title and to issue another title in the sole
name of plaintiff herein;

5. Declaring the Contract, Annex K of complaint, between plaintiff and defendant Sandoval null and
void, and ordering the Register of Deeds of Makati City to cancel TCT No. 139058 in the name of Teofilo
Carlos, and to issue another title in the sole name of plaintiff herein;

6. Declaring the Contract, Annex M of the complaint, between plaintiff and defendant Sandoval null
and void;

7. Ordering the cancellation of TCT No. 210877 in the names of defendant Sandoval and defendant
minor Teofilo S. Carlos II and ordering the Register of Deeds of Manila to issue another title in the exclusive
name of plaintiff herein;
8. Ordering the cancellation of TCT No. 210878 in the name of defendant Sandoval and defendant
Minor Teofilo S. Carlos II and ordering the Register of Deeds of Manila to issue another title in the sole name
of plaintiff herein.

Let this case be set for hearing for the reception of plaintiffs evidence on his claim for moral
damages, exemplary damages, attorneys fees, appearance fees, and litigation expenses on June 7,
1996 at 1:30 o'clock in the afternoon.

SO ORDERED.[6]

Dissatisfied, respondents appealed to the CA. In the appeal, respondents argued, inter alia, that the trial court acted
without or in excess of jurisdiction in rendering summary judgment annulling the marriage of Teofilo, Sr. and Felicidad and in
declaring Teofilo II as not an illegitimate child of Teofilo, Sr.

On October 15, 2002, the CA reversed and set aside the RTC ruling, disposing as follows:

WHEREFORE, the summary judgment appealed from is REVERSED and SET ASIDE and in lieu
thereof, a new one is entered REMANDING the case to the court of origin for further proceedings.

SO ORDERED.[7]

The CA opined:

We find the rendition of the herein appealed summary judgment by the court a quo contrary to law
and public policy as ensconced in the aforesaid safeguards. The fact that it was appellants who first sought
summary judgment from the trial court, did not justify the grant thereof in favor of appellee. Not being an
action to recover upon a claim or to obtain a declaratory relief, the rule on summary judgment apply (sic) to
an action to annul a marriage. The mere fact that no genuine issue was presented and the desire to expedite
the disposition of the case cannot justify a misinterpretation of the rule. The first paragraph of Article 88 and
101 of the Civil Code expressly prohibit the rendition of decree of annulment of a marriage upon a
stipulation of facts or a confession of judgment. Yet, the affidavits annexed to the petition for summary
judgment practically amount to these methods explicitly proscribed by the law.

We are not unmindful of appellees argument that the foregoing safeguards have traditionally been
applied to prevent collusion of spouses in the matter of dissolution of marriages and that the death of Teofilo
Carlos on May 13, 1992 had effectively dissolved the marriage herein impugned. The fact, however, that
appellees own brother and appellant Felicidad Sandoval lived together as husband and wife for thirty years
and that the annulment of their marriage is the very means by which the latter is sought to be deprived of
her participation in the estate left by the former call for a closer and more thorough inquiry into the
circumstances surrounding the case. Rather that the summary nature by which the court a quo resolved the
issues in the case, the rule is to the effect that the material facts alleged in the complaint for annulment of
marriage should always be proved. Section 1, Rule 19 of the Revised Rules of Court provides:

Section 1. Judgment on the pleadings. Where an answer fails to tender an issue, or


otherwise admits the material allegations of the adverse party's pleading, the court may, on
motion of that party, direct judgment on such pleading. But in actions for annulment of
marriage or for legal separation, the material facts alleged in the complaint shall always be
proved. (Underscoring supplied)

Moreover, even if We were to sustain the applicability of the rules on summary judgment to the case
at bench, Our perusal of the record shows that the finding of the court a quo for appellee would still not be
warranted. While it may be readily conceded that a valid marriage license is among the formal requisites of
marriage, the absence of which renders the marriage void ab initio pursuant to Article 80(3) in relation to
Article 58 of the Civil Code the failure to reflect the serial number of the marriage license on the marriage
contract evidencing the marriage between Teofilo Carlos and appellant Felicidad Sandoval, although
irregular, is not as fatal as appellee represents it to be. Aside from the dearth of evidence to the contrary,
appellant Felicidad Sandovals affirmation of the existence of said marriage license is corroborated by the
following statement in the affidavit executed by Godofredo Fojas, then Justice of the Peace who officiated
the impugned marriage, to wit:

That as far as I could remember, there was a marriage license issued at Silang,
Cavite on May 14, 1962 as basis of the said marriage contract executed by Teofilo Carlos
and Felicidad Sandoval, but the number of said marriage license was inadvertently not
placed in the marriage contract for the reason that it was the Office Clerk who filled up the
blanks in the Marriage Contract who in turn, may have overlooked the same.

Rather than the inferences merely drawn by the trial court, We are of the considered view that the
veracity and credibility of the foregoing statement as well as the motivations underlying the same should be
properly threshed out in a trial of the case on the merits.

If the non-presentation of the marriage contract the primary evidence of marriage is not proof that
a marriage did not take place, neither should appellants non-presentation of the subject marriage license be
taken as proof that the same was not procured. The burden of proof to show the nullity of the marriage, it
must be emphasized, rests upon the plaintiff and any doubt should be resolved in favor of the validity of the
marriage.

Considering that the burden of proof also rests on the party who disputes the legitimacy of a
particular party, the same may be said of the trial courts rejection of the relationship between appellant
Teofilo Carlos II and his putative father on the basis of the inconsistencies in appellant Felicidad Sandovals
statements. Although it had effectively disavowed appellants prior claims regarding the legitimacy of
appellant Teofilo Carlos II, the averment in the answer that he is the illegitimate son of appellees brother, to
Our mind, did not altogether foreclose the possibility of the said appellants illegitimate filiation, his right to
prove the same or, for that matter, his entitlement to inheritance rights as such.

Without trial on the merits having been conducted in the case, We find appellees bare allegation
that appellant Teofilo Carlos II was merely purchased from an indigent couple by appellant Felicidad
Sandoval, on the whole, insufficient to support what could well be a minors total forfeiture of the rights
arising from his putative filiation. Inconsistent though it may be to her previous statements, appellant
Felicidad Sandovals declaration regarding the illegitimate filiation of Teofilo Carlos II is more credible when
considered in the light of the fact that, during the last eight years of his life, Teofilo Carlos allowed said
appellant the use of his name and the shelter of his household. The least that the trial court could have done
in the premises was to conduct a trial on the merits in order to be able to thoroughly resolve the issues
pertaining to the filiation of appellant Teofilo Carlos II.[8]

On November 22, 2006, petitioner moved for reconsideration and for the inhibition of the ponente, Justice Rebecca
De Guia-Salvador. The CA denied the twin motions.

Issues

In this petition under Rule 45, petitioner hoists the following issues:

1. That, in reversing and setting aside the Summary Judgment under the Decision, Annex A hereof,
and in denying petitioners Motion for reconsideration under the Resolution, Annex F hereof, with respect to
the nullity of the impugned marriage, petitioner respectfully submits that the Court of Appeals committed a
grave reversible error in applying Articles 88 and 101 of the Civil Code, despite the fact that the
circumstances of this case are different from that contemplated and intended by law, or has otherwise
decided a question of substance not theretofore decided by the Supreme Court, or has decided it in a
manner probably not in accord with law or with the applicable decisions of this Honorable Court;

2. That in setting aside and reversing the Summary Judgment and, in lieu thereof, entering another
remanding the case to the court of origin for further proceedings, petitioner most respectfully submits that
the Court of Appeals committed a serious reversible error in applying Section 1, Rule 19 (now Section 1,
Rule 34) of the Rules of Court providing for judgment on the pleadings, instead of Rule 35 governing
Summary Judgments;

3. That in reversing and setting aside the Summary Judgment and, in lieu thereof, entering another
remanding the case to the court of origin for further proceedings, petitioner most respectfully submits that
the Court of Appeals committed grave abuse of discretion, disregarded judicial admissions, made findings on
ground of speculations, surmises, and conjectures, or otherwise committed misapplications of the laws and
misapprehension of the facts.[9] (Underscoring supplied)

Essentially, the Court is tasked to resolve whether a marriage may be declared void ab initio through a judgment on
the pleadings or a summary judgment and without the benefit of a trial. But there are other procedural issues,
including the capacity of one who is not a spouse in bringing the action for nullity of marriage.

Our Ruling

I. The grounds for declaration of absolute nullity of marriage must be proved. Neither judgment on the
pleadings nor summary judgment is allowed. So is confession of judgment disallowed.

Petitioner faults the CA in applying Section 1, Rule 19[10] of the Revised Rules of Court, which provides:

SECTION 1. Judgment on the pleadings. Where an answer fails to tender an issue, or otherwise
admits the material allegations of the adverse partys pleading, the court may, on motion of that party,
direct judgment on such pleading. But in actions for annulment of marriage or for legal separation, the
material facts alleged in the complaint shall always be proved.
He argues that the CA should have applied Rule 35 of the Rules of Court governing summary judgment, instead of the rule
on judgment on the pleadings.

Petitioner is misguided. The CA did not limit its finding solely within the provisions of the Rule on judgment on the
pleadings. In disagreeing with the trial court, the CA likewise considered the provisions on summary judgments, to wit:

Moreover, even if We are to sustain the applicability of the rules on summary judgment to the case
at bench, Our perusal of the record shows that the finding of the court a quo for appellee would still not be
warranted. x x x[11]

But whether it is based on judgment on the pleadings or summary judgment, the CA was correct in reversing the
summary judgment rendered by the trial court. Both the rules on judgment on the pleadings and summary
judgments have no place in cases of declaration of absolute nullity of marriage and even in annulment of
marriage.

With the advent of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC, known as Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages and Annulment
of Voidable Marriages, the question on the application of summary judgments or even judgment on the pleadings in cases of
nullity or annulment of marriage has been stamped with clarity. The significant principle laid down by the said Rule, which
took effect on March 15, 2003[12] is found in Section 17, viz.:

SEC. 17. Trial. (1) The presiding judge shall personally conduct the trial of the case. No delegation
of evidence to a commissioner shall be allowed except as to matters involving property relations of the
spouses.

(2) The grounds for declaration of absolute nullity or annulment of marriage must be proved. No
judgment on the pleadings, summary judgment, or confession of judgment shall be allowed. (Underscoring
supplied)

Likewise instructive is the Courts pronouncement in Republic v. Sandiganbayan.[13] In that case, We excluded actions for
nullity or annulment of marriage from the application of summary judgments.

Prescinding from the foregoing discussion, save for annulment of marriage or declaration of its
nullity or for legal separation, summary judgment is applicable to all kinds of actions.[14] (Underscoring
supplied)

By issuing said summary judgment, the trial court has divested the State of its lawful right and duty to intervene in
the case. The participation of the State is not terminated by the declaration of the public prosecutor that no collusion exists
between the parties. The State should have been given the opportunity to present controverting evidence before the
judgment was rendered.[15]

Both the Civil Code and the Family Code ordain that the court should order the prosecuting attorney to appear and intervene
for the State. It is at this stage when the public prosecutor sees to it that there is no suppression of evidence.Concomitantly,
even if there is no suppression of evidence, the public prosecutor has to make sure that the evidence to be presented or laid
down before the court is not fabricated.
To further bolster its role towards the preservation of marriage, the Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages
reiterates the duty of the public prosecutor, viz.:

SEC. 13. Effect of failure to appear at the pre-trial. (a) x x x

(b) x x x If there is no collusion, the court shall require the public prosecutor to intervene for the State
during the trial on the merits to prevent suppression or fabrication of evidence. (Underscoring supplied)
Truly, only the active participation of the public prosecutor or the Solicitor General will ensure that the interest of the State is
represented and protected in proceedings for declaration of nullity of marriages by preventing the fabrication or suppression
of evidence.[16]

II. A petition for declaration of absolute nullity of void marriage may be filed solely by the husband or
wife. Exceptions: (1) Nullity of marriage cases commenced before the effectivity of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC; and
(2) Marriages celebrated during the effectivity of the Civil Code.

Under the Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages and Annulment of Voidable Marriages, the petition
for declaration of absolute nullity of marriage may not be filed by any party outside of the marriage. The Rule made it
exclusively a right of the spouses by stating:

SEC. 2. Petition for declaration of absolute nullity of void marriages.

(a) Who may file. A petition for declaration of absolute nullity of void marriage may be filed solely
by the husband or the wife. (Underscoring supplied)

Section 2(a) of the Rule makes it the sole right of the husband or the wife to file a petition for declaration of
absolute nullity of void marriage. The rationale of the Rule is enlightening, viz.:

Only an aggrieved or injured spouse may file a petition for annulment of voidable marriages
or declaration of absolute nullity of void marriages. Such petition cannot be filed by compulsory or intestate
heirs of the spouses or by the State. The Committee is of the belief that they do not have a legal right to file
the petition. Compulsory or intestate heirs have 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 a spouse in a
proceeding for the settlement of the estate of the deceased 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.[17] (Underscoring
supplied)

The new Rule recognizes that the husband and the wife are the sole architects of a healthy, loving, peaceful
marriage. They are the only ones who can decide when and how to build the foundations of marriage. The spouses alone are
the engineers of their marital life. They are simultaneously the directors and actors of their matrimonial true-to-life
play. Hence, they alone can and should decide when to take a cut, but only in accordance with the grounds allowed by law.

The innovation incorporated in A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC sets forth a demarcation line between marriages covered by
the Family Code and those solemnized under the Civil Code. The Rule extends only to marriages entered into during the
effectivity of the Family Code which took effect on August 3, 1988.[18]
The advent of the Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages marks
the beginning of the end of the right of the heirs of the deceased spouse to bring a nullity of marriage case
against the surviving spouse. But the Rule never intended to deprive the compulsory or intestate heirs of their
successional rights.

While A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC declares that a petition for declaration of absolute nullity of marriage may be filed solely
by the husband or the wife, it does not mean that the compulsory or intestate heirs are without any recourse under the
law. They can still protect their successional right, for, as stated in the Rationale of the Rules on Annulment of Voidable
Marriages and Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages, compulsory or intestate heirs can still question the
validity of the marriage of the spouses, not in a proceeding for declaration of nullity but upon the death of a spouse in a
proceeding for the settlement of the estate of the deceased spouse filed in the regular courts.[19]

It is emphasized, however, that the Rule does not apply to cases already commenced before March 15,
2003 although the marriage involved is within the coverage of the Family Code. This is so, as the new Rule which became
effective on March 15, 2003[20] is prospective in its application. Thus, the Court held in Enrico v. Heirs of Sps.
Medinaceli,[21] viz.:

As has been emphasized, A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC covers marriages under the Family Code of
the Philippines, and is prospective in its application.[22] (Underscoring supplied)

Petitioner commenced the nullity of marriage case against respondent Felicidad in 1995. The marriage in
controversy was celebrated on May 14, 1962. Which law would govern depends upon when the marriage took
place.[23]

The marriage having been solemnized prior to the effectivity of the Family Code, the applicable
law is the Civil Code which was the law in effect at the time of its celebration. [24]
But the Civil Code is silent as to
who may bring an action to declare the marriage void. Does this mean that any person can bring an action for
the declaration of nullity of marriage?

We respond in the negative. The absence of a provision in the Civil Code cannot be construed as a
license for any person to institute a nullity of marriage case. Such person must appear to be the party who
stands to be benefited or injured by the judgment in the suit, or the party entitled to the avails of the
suit.[25] Elsewise stated, plaintiff must be the real party-in-interest. For it is basic in procedural law that every
action must be prosecuted and defended in the name of the real party-in-interest.[26]

Interest within the meaning of the rule means material interest or an interest in issue to be affected by the decree
or judgment of the case, as distinguished from mere curiosity about the question involved or a mere incidental interest. One
having no material interest to protect cannot invoke the jurisdiction of the court as plaintiff in an action. When plaintiff is not
the real party-in-interest, the case is dismissible on the ground of lack of cause of action.[27]

Illuminating on this point is Amor-Catalan v. Court of Appeals,[28] where the Court held:

True, under the New Civil Code which is the law in force at the time the respondents were married,
or even in the Family Code, there is no specific provision as to who can file a petition to declare the nullity of
marriage; however, only a party who can demonstrate proper interest can file the same. A petition to
declare the nullity of marriage, like any other actions, must be prosecuted or defended in the name of the
real party-in-interest and must be based on a cause of action. Thus, in Nial v. Badayog, the Court held that
the children have the personality to file the petition to declare the nullity of marriage of their deceased
father to their stepmother as it affects their successional rights.

xxxx

In fine, petitioners personality to file the petition to declare the nullity of marriage cannot be
ascertained because of the absence of the divorce decree and the foreign law allowing it. Hence, a remand
of the case to the trial court for reception of additional evidence is necessary to determine whether
respondent Orlando was granted a divorce decree and whether the foreign law which granted the same
allows or restricts remarriage. If it is proved that a valid divorce decree was obtained and the same did not
allow respondent Orlandos remarriage, then the trial court should declare respondents marriage as
bigamous and void ab initio but reduced the amount of moral damages from P300,000.00 to P50,000.00 and
exemplary damages from P200,000.00 to P25,000.00. On the contrary, if it is proved that a valid divorce
decree was obtained which allowed Orlando to remarry, then the trial court must dismiss the instant petition
to declare nullity of marriage on the ground that petitioner Felicitas Amor-Catalan lacks legal personality to
file the same.[29] (Underscoring supplied)

III. The case must be remanded to determine whether or not petitioner is a real-party-in-interest to
seek the declaration of nullity of the marriage in controversy.

In the case at bench, the records reveal that when Teofilo died intestate in 1992, his only surviving compulsory heirs are
respondent Felicidad and their son, Teofilo II. Under the law on succession, successional rights are transmitted from the
moment of death of the decedent and the compulsory heirs are called to succeed by operation of law.[30]

Upon Teofilos death in 1992, all his property, rights and obligations to the extent of the value of the inheritance are
transmitted to his compulsory heirs. These heirs were respondents Felicidad and Teofilo II, as the surviving spouse and child,
respectively.

Article 887 of the Civil Code outlined who are compulsory heirs, to wit:

(1) Legitimate children and descendants, with respect to their legitimate parents and ascendants;

(2) In default of the foregoing, legitimate parents and ascendants, with respect to their legitimate children
and descendants;

(3) The widow or widower;

(4) Acknowledged natural children, and natural children by legal fiction;

(5) Other illegitimate children referred to in Article 287 of the Civil Code.[31]

Clearly, a brother is not among those considered as compulsory heirs. But although a collateral relative, such as a brother,
does not fall within the ambit of a compulsory heir, he still has a right to succeed to the estate. Articles 1001 and 1003 of the
New Civil Code provide:
ART. 1001. Should brothers and sisters or their children survive with the widow or widower, the
latter shall be entitled to one-half of the inheritance and the brothers and sisters or their children to the
other half.

ART. 1003. If there are no descendants, ascendants, illegitimate children, or a surviving spouse, the
collateral relatives shall succeed to the entire estate of the deceased in accordance with the following
articles. (Underscoring supplied)

Indeed, only the presence of descendants, ascendants or illegitimate children excludes collateral relatives from
succeeding to the estate of the decedent. The presence of legitimate, illegitimate, or adopted child or children of the
deceased precludes succession by collateral relatives.[32] Conversely, if there are no descendants, ascendants, illegitimate
children, or a surviving spouse, the collateral relatives shall succeed to the entire estate of the decedent.[33]

If respondent Teofilo II is declared and finally proven not to be the legitimate, illegitimate, or adopted son of Teofilo,
petitioner would then have a personality to seek the nullity of marriage of his deceased brother
with respondent Felicidad. This is so, considering that collateral relatives, like a brother and sister, acquire successional right
over the estate if the decedent dies without issue and without ascendants in the direct line.

The records reveal that Teofilo was predeceased by his parents. He had no other siblings but petitioner. Thus, if
Teofilo II is finally found and proven to be not a legitimate, illegitimate, or adopted son of Teofilo, petitioner succeeds to
the other half of the estate of his brother, the first half being allotted to the widow pursuant to Article 1001 of the New Civil
Code. This makes petitioner a real-party-interest to seek the declaration of absolute nullity of marriage of his
deceased brother with respondent Felicidad. If the subject marriage is found to be void ab initio, petitioner succeeds to the
entire estate.

It bears stressing, however, that the legal personality of petitioner to bring the nullity of marriage case is contingent
upon the final declaration that Teofilo II is not a legitimate, adopted, or illegitimate son of Teofilo.

If Teofilo II is proven to be a legitimate, illegitimate, or legally adopted son of Teofilo, then petitioner has no legal
personality to ask for the nullity of marriage of his deceased brother and respondent Felicidad. This is based on the ground
that he has no successional right to be protected, hence, does not have proper interest. For although the marriage in
controversy may be found to be void from the beginning, still, petitioner would not inherit. This is because the presence of
descendant, illegitimate,[34] or even an adopted child[35] excludes the collateral relatives from inheriting from the decedent.

Thus, the Court finds that a remand of the case for trial on the merits to determine the validity or nullity of the
subject marriage is called for. But the RTC is strictly instructed to dismiss the nullity of marriage case for lack of
cause of action if it is proven by evidence that Teofilo II is a legitimate, illegitimate, or legally adopted son of
Teofilo Carlos, the deceased brother of petitioner.

IV. Remand of the case regarding the question of filiation of respondent Teofilo II is proper and in
order. There is a need to vacate the disposition of the trial court as to the other causes of action before it.

Petitioner did not assign as error or interpose as issue the ruling of the CA on the remand of the case concerning the filiation
of respondent Teofilo II. This notwithstanding, We should not leave the matter hanging in limbo.
This Court has the authority to review matters not specifically raised or assigned as error by the parties, if their
consideration is necessary in arriving at a just resolution of the case.[36]

We agree with the CA that without trial on the merits having been conducted in the case, petitioners bare allegation that
respondent Teofilo II was adopted from an indigent couple is insufficient to support a total forfeiture of rights arising from his
putative filiation. However, We are not inclined to support its pronouncement that the declaration of respondent Felicidad as
to the illegitimate filiation of respondent Teofilo II is more credible. For the guidance of the appellate court, such declaration
of respondent Felicidad should not be afforded credence. We remind the CA of the guaranty provided by Article 167 of the
Family Code to protect the status of legitimacy of a child, to wit:

ARTICLE 167. The child shall be considered legitimate although the mother may have declared against its
legitimacy or may have been sentenced as an adulteress. (Underscoring supplied)

It is stressed that Felicidads declaration against the legitimate status of Teofilo II is the very act that is proscribed by Article
167 of the Family Code. The language of the law is unmistakable. An assertion by the mother against the legitimacy of her
child cannot affect the legitimacy of a child born or conceived within a valid marriage.[37]

Finally, the disposition of the trial court in favor of petitioner for causes of action concerning reconveyance, recovery of
property, and sum of money must be vacated. This has to be so, as said disposition was made on the basis of its finding that
the marriage in controversy was null and void ab initio.
WHEREFORE, the appealed Decision is MODIFIED as follows:

1. The case is REMANDED to the Regional Trial Court in regard to the action on the status and filiation of
respondent Teofilo Carlos II and the validity or nullity of marriage between respondent Felicidad Sandoval
and the late Teofilo Carlos;

2. If Teofilo Carlos II is proven to be the legitimate, or illegitimate, or legally adopted son of the late Teofilo Carlos,
the RTC is strictly INSTRUCTED to DISMISS the action for nullity of marriage for lack of cause of action;

3. The disposition of the RTC in Nos. 1 to 8 of the fallo of its decision is VACATED AND SET ASIDE.

The Regional Trial Court is ORDERED to conduct trial on the merits with dispatch and to give this case priority in its
calendar.

No costs.

SO ORDERED.
REPUBLIC vs IYOY, GR No. 152577, September 21, 2005

DECISION

CHICO-NAZARIO, J.:
In this Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, petitioner Republic of the Philippines,
represented by the Office of the 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
Case No. CEB-20077, dated 30 October 1998,[2] declaring the marriage between respondent Crasus L. Iyoy and Fely Ada
Rosal-Iyoy null and void on the basis of Article 36 of the Family Code of the Philippines.
The proceedings before the RTC commenced with the filing of a Complaint[3] for declaration of nullity of marriage by
respondent Crasus on 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 Philippines for the United States of
America (U.S.A.), leaving all of their five 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 Crasus received a letter from her requesting that he sign the
enclosed divorce papers; he disregarded the said request. Sometime in 1985, respondent Crasus learned, through the letters
sent by Fely to their children, that Fely got married to an American, with whom she eventually had a child. In 1987, Fely
came back to the Philippines with her American family, staying at Cebu Plaza Hotel in Cebu City. Respondent Crasus did not
bother to talk to Fely because he was afraid he might not be able to bear the sorrow and the pain she had caused him. Fely
returned to the Philippines several times more: in 1990, for the wedding of their eldest 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 American
family in New Jersey, U.S.A. She had been openly using the 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 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 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 nullity of marriage under
Article 36, in relation to Articles 68, 70, and 72, of the Family Code of the Philippines.

Fely filed her Answer and Counterclaim[4] with the RTC on 05 June 1997. She asserted therein that she was already
an American citizen since 1988 and was now married to Stephen Micklus. While she admitted being 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, womanizing, and lack of sincere effort
to find employment and to contribute to the maintenance of their household. She could not have been extravagant since the
family hardly had enough money for basic needs. Indeed, Fely left for abroad for financial reasons as respondent Crasus had
no job and what she was then earning as the sole breadwinner in the Philippines was insufficient to support their family.
Although she left all of her children with respondent Crasus, she continued to provide financial support to them, as well as, to
respondent Crasus. Subsequently, Fely was able to bring her children to the U.S.A., except for one, Calvert, who had to stay
behind for medical reasons. While she did file for divorce from respondent Crasus, she denied having herself sent a letter to
respondent Crasus requesting him to sign the enclosed divorce papers. After securing a divorce from respondent Crasus, Fely
married her American husband and acquired American citizenship. She argued that her marriage to her American husband
was legal because now being an American citizen, her status shall be governed by the law of her present nationality. Fely
also pointed out that respondent Crasus himself was presently living with another woman who bore him a child. She also
accused respondent Crasus of misusing the amount of P90,000.00 which she advanced to him to finance the brain operation
of their son, Calvert. On the basis of the foregoing, Fely also prayed that the RTC declare her marriage to respondent Crasus
null and void; and that respondent Crasus be ordered to pay to Fely the P90,000.00 she advanced to him, with interest, plus,
moral and exemplary damages, attorneys fees, and litigation expenses.
After respondent Crasus and Fely had filed their respective Pre-Trial Briefs,[5] the RTC afforded both parties the opportunity
to present their evidence. Petitioner Republic participated in the trial through the Provincial Prosecutor of Cebu.[6]
Respondent Crasus submitted the following pieces of evidence in support of his Complaint: (1) his own testimony on 08
September 1997, in which he essentially reiterated the allegations in his Complaint;[7] (2) the Certification, dated 13 April
1989, by the Health Department of Cebu City, on the recording of the Marriage Contract between respondent Crasus and
Fely in the Register of Deeds, such marriage celebration taking place on 16 December 1961;[8] and (3) the invitation to the
wedding of Crasus, Jr., their eldest son, wherein Fely openly used her American husbands surname, Micklus.[9]
Felys counsel filed a Notice,[10] and, later on, a Motion,[11] to take the deposition of witnesses, namely, Fely and her children,
Crasus, Jr. and Daphne, upon written interrogatories, before the consular officers of the Philippines in New York and
California, U.S.A, where the said witnesses reside. Despite the Orders[12] and Commissions[13] issued by the RTC to the
Philippine Consuls of New York and California, U.S.A., to take the depositions of the witnesses upon written interrogatories,
not a single deposition was ever submitted to the RTC. Taking into account that it had been over a year since respondent
Crasus had presented his evidence and that Fely failed to exert effort to have the case progress, the RTC issued an Order,
dated 05 October 1998,[14] considering Fely to have waived her right to present her evidence. The case was thus deemed
submitted for decision.
Not long after, on 30 October 1998, the RTC promulgated its Judgment declaring the marriage of respondent Crasus and Fely
null and void ab initio, on the basis of the following findings
The ground bearing defendants psychological incapacity deserves a reasonable consideration. As
observed, plaintiffs testimony is decidedly credible. The Court finds that defendant had indeed exhibited
unmistakable signs of psychological incapacity to comply with her marital duties such as striving for family
unity, observing fidelity, mutual love, respect, help and support. From the evidence presented, plaintiff
adequately established that the defendant practically abandoned him. She obtained a divorce decree in the
United States of America and married another man and has establish [sic] another family of her own.
Plaintiff is in an anomalous situation, wherein he is married to a wife who is already married to another man
in another country.

Defendants intolerable traits may not have been apparent or manifest before the marriage, the
FAMILY CODE nonetheless allows the annulment of the marriage provided that these were eventually
manifested after the wedding. It appears to be the case in this instance.
Certainly defendants posture being an irresponsible wife erringly reveals her very low regard for
that sacred and inviolable institution of marriage which is the foundation of human society throughout the
civilized world. It is quite evident that the defendant is bereft of the mind, will and heart to comply with her
marital obligations, such incapacity was already there at the time of the marriage in question is shown by
defendants own attitude towards her marriage to plaintiff.
In sum, the ground invoked by plaintiff which is defendants psychological incapacity to comply with
the essential marital obligations which already existed at the time of the marriage in question has been
satisfactorily proven. The evidence in herein case establishes the irresponsibility of defendant Fely Ada Rosal
Iyoy, firmly.
Going over plaintiffs testimony which is decidedly credible, the Court finds that the defendant had
indeed exhibited unmistakable signs of such psychological incapacity to comply with her marital obligations.
These are her excessive disposition to material things over and above the marital stability. That such
incapacity was already there at the time of the marriage in question is shown by defendants own attitude
towards her marriage to 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 and void ab initio.[15]

Petitioner Republic, believing that the afore-quoted Judgment of the RTC was contrary to law and evidence, filed an appeal
with the Court of Appeals. The appellate court, though, in its Decision, dated 30 July 2001, affirmed the appealed Judgment
of the RTC, finding no reversible error 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, and is now permanently
residing in the United States. Plaintiff-appellee categorically stated this as one of his reasons for seeking the
declaration of nullity of their marriage

Article 26 of the Family Code provides:

Art. 26. All marriages solemnized outside the Philippines in accordance with the
laws in force in the country where they were solemnized, and valid there as such, shall also
be valid in this country, except those prohibited under Articles 35(1), (4), (5) and (6), 36,
37 and 38.

WHERE A MARRIAGE BETWEEN A FILIPINO CITIZEN AND A FOREIGNER IS VALIDLY


CELEBRATED AND A DIVORCE IS THEREAFTER VALIDLY OBTAINED ABROAD BY THE ALIEN
SPOUSE CAPACITATING HIM OR HER TO REMARRY, THE FILIPINO SPOUSE SHALL
LIKEWISE HAVE CAPACITY TO REMARRY UNDER PHILIPPINE LAW.

The rationale behind the second paragraph of the above-quoted provision 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 to the Filipino spouse because he or she has obtained a divorce abroad. In the case at bench,
the defendant has undoubtedly acquired her American husbands citizenship and thus has become an alien
as well. This Court cannot see why the benefits of Art. 26 aforequoted can not be extended to a Filipino
citizen whose spouse eventually embraces another citizenship and thus becomes herself an alien.

It would be the height of unfairness if, under these circumstances, plaintiff 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 essential marital covenants, is verily to condemn him
to a perpetual disadvantage which this Court finds abhorrent and will not countenance. Justice dictates that
plaintiff be given relief by affirming the trial courts declaration of the nullity of the marriage of the
parties.[16]

After the Court of Appeals, in a Resolution, dated 08 March 2002,[17] denied its Motion for Reconsideration, petitioner
Republic filed the instant Petition before this Court, based on the following arguments/grounds

I. Abandonment by and sexual infidelity of respondents wife do not per se constitute psychological
incapacity.
II. The Court of Appeals has decided questions of substance not in accord with law and
jurisprudence considering that the Court of Appeals committed serious errors of law in ruling that Article 26,
paragraph 2 of the Family Code is inapplicable to the case at bar.[18]

In his Comment[19] to the Petition, respondent Crasus maintained that Felys psychological incapacity was clearly established
after a full-blown trial, and that paragraph 2 of Article 26 of the Family Code of the Philippines was indeed applicable to the
marriage of respondent Crasus and Fely, because the latter had already become an American citizen. He further questioned
the personality of petitioner Republic, represented by the Office of the Solicitor General, to institute the instant Petition,
because Article 48 of the Family Code of the Philippines authorizes the prosecuting attorney or fiscal assigned to the trial
court, not the Solicitor General, to intervene on behalf of the State, in proceedings for annulment and declaration of nullity of
marriages.

After having reviewed the records of this case and the applicable laws and jurisprudence, this Court finds the instant Petition
to be meritorious.

The totality of evidence presented during trial is insufficient to support the finding of psychological incapacity
of Fely.

Article 36, concededly one of the more controversial provisions of the Family Code of the Philippines, reads

ART. 36. A marriage contracted by any party who, at the time of the celebration, was
psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential marital obligations of marriage, shall likewise be
void even if such incapacity becomes manifest only after its solemnization.

Issues most commonly arise as to what constitutes psychological incapacity. In a series of cases, this Court laid down
guidelines for determining its existence.

In Santos v. Court of Appeals,[20] the term psychological incapacity was defined, thus

. . . [P]sychological incapacity should refer to no less than a mental (not physical) incapacity that causes a
party to be truly cognitive of the basic marital covenants that concomitantly must be assumed and
discharged by the parties to the marriage which, as so expressed by Article 68 of the Family Code, include
their mutual obligations to live together, observe love, respect and fidelity and render help and support.
There is hardly any doubt that the intendment of the law has been to confine the meaning of psychological
incapacity to the most serious cases of personality disorders clearly demonstrative of an utter insensitivity or
inability to give meaning and significance to the marriage. This psychological condition must exist at the
time the marriage is celebrated[21]
The psychological incapacity must be characterized by

(a) Gravity It must be grave or serious such that the party would be incapable of carrying out the ordinary
duties required in a marriage;
(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]

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 Republic v. Court of Appeals and Molina,[23] which, although quite lengthy, by its significance,
deserves to be reproduced below

(1) The burden of proof to show the nullity of the marriage belongs to the plaintiff. Any doubt
should be resolved in favor of the existence and continuation of the marriage and against its dissolution and
nullity. This is rooted in the fact that both our Constitution and our laws cherish the validity of marriage and
unity of the family. Thus, our Constitution devotes an entire Article on the Family, recognizing it as the
foundation of the nation. It decrees marriage as legally inviolable, thereby protecting it from dissolution at
the whim of the parties. Both the family and marriage are to be protected by the state.

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

(2) The root cause of the psychological incapacity must be (a) medically or clinically identified, (b)
alleged in the complaint, (c) sufficiently proven by experts and (d) clearly explained in the decision. Article
36 of the Family Code requires that the incapacity must be psychological - not physical, although its
manifestations and/or symptoms may be physical. The evidence must convince the court that the parties, or
one of them, was mentally or psychically ill to such an extent that the person could not have known the
obligations he was assuming, or knowing them, could not have given valid assumption thereof. Although no
example of such incapacity need be given here so as not to limit the application of the provision under the
principle of ejusdem generis, nevertheless such root cause must be identified as a psychological illness and
its incapacitating nature fully explained. Expert evidence may be given by qualified psychiatrists and clinical
psychologists.

(3) The incapacity must be proven to be existing at the time of the celebration of the marriage. The
evidence must show that the illness was existing when the parties exchanged their I do's. The manifestation
of the illness need not be perceivable at such time, but the illness itself must have attached at such
moment, or prior thereto.

(4) Such incapacity must also be shown to be medically or clinically permanent or incurable. Such
incurability may be absolute or even relative only in regard to the other spouse, not necessarily absolutely
against everyone of the same sex. Furthermore, such incapacity must be relevant to the assumption of
marriage obligations, not necessarily to those not related to marriage, like the exercise of a profession or
employment in a job

(5) Such illness must be grave enough to bring about the disability of the party to assume the
essential obligations of marriage. Thus, mild characteriological peculiarities, mood changes, occasional
emotional outbursts cannot be accepted as root causes. The illness must be shown as downright incapacity
or inability, not a refusal, neglect or difficulty, much less ill will. In other words, there is a natal or
supervening disabling factor in the person, an adverse integral element in the personality structure that
effectively incapacitates the person from really accepting and thereby complying with the obligations
essential to marriage.

(6) The essential marital obligations must be those embraced by Articles 68 up to 71 of the Family
Code as regards the husband and wife as well as Articles 220, 221 and 225 of the same Code in regard to
parents and their children. Such non-complied marital obligation(s) must also be stated in the petition,
proven by evidence and included in the text of the decision.

(7) Interpretations given by the National Appellate Matrimonial Tribunal of the Catholic Church in
the Philippines, while not controlling or decisive, should be given great respect by our courts

(8) The trial court must order the prosecuting attorney or fiscal and the Solicitor General to appear
as counsel for the state. No decision shall be handed down unless the Solicitor General issues a certification,
which will be quoted in the decision, briefly stating therein his reasons for his agreement or opposition, as
the case may be, to the petition. The Solicitor General, along with the prosecuting attorney, shall submit to
the court such certification within fifteen (15) days from the date the case is deemed submitted for
resolution of the court. The Solicitor General shall discharge the equivalent function of the defensor
vinculi contemplated under Canon 1095.[24]

A later case, Marcos v. Marcos,[25] further clarified that there is no requirement that the defendant/respondent
spouse should be personally examined by a physician or psychologist as a condition sine qua non for the declaration of nullity
of marriage based on psychological incapacity. Such psychological incapacity, however, must be established by the totality of
the evidence presented during the trial.

Using the guidelines established by the afore-mentioned jurisprudence, this Court finds that the totality of evidence
presented by respondent Crasus failed miserably to establish the alleged psychological incapacity of his wife Fely; therefore,
there is no basis for declaring their marriage null and void under Article 36 of the Family Code of the Philippines.

The only substantial evidence presented by respondent Crasus before the RTC was his testimony, which can be
easily put into question for being self-serving, in the absence of any other corroborating evidence. He submitted only two
other pieces of evidence: (1) the Certification on the recording with the Register of Deeds of the Marriage Contract between
respondent Crasus and Fely, such marriage being celebrated on 16 December 1961; and (2) the invitation to the wedding of
Crasus, Jr., their eldest son, in which Fely used her American husbands surname. Even considering the admissions made by
Fely herself in her Answer to respondent Crasuss Complaint filed with the RTC, the evidence is not enough to convince this
Court that Fely had such a grave mental illness that prevented her from assuming the essential obligations of marriage.
It is worthy to emphasize that Article 36 of the Family Code of the Philippines contemplates downright incapacity or inability
to take cognizance of and to assume the basic marital obligations; not a mere 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 warrant a finding of psychological incapacity under the said Article.[27]

As has already been stressed by this Court in previous cases, Article 36 is not to be confused with a divorce law that cuts the
marital bond at the time the causes therefore manifest themselves. It refers to a serious psychological illness afflicting a
party even before the celebration of marriage. It is a malady so grave and so permanent as to deprive one of awareness of
the duties and responsibilities of the matrimonial bond one is about to assume.[28]

The evidence may have proven that Fely committed acts that hurt and embarrassed respondent Crasus and the rest of the
family. Her hot-temper, nagging, and extravagance; her abandonment of respondent Crasus; her marriage to an American;
and even her flaunting of her American family and her American surname, may indeed be manifestations of her alleged
incapacity to comply with her marital obligations; nonetheless, the root cause for such was not identified. If the root cause of
the incapacity was not identified, then it cannot be satisfactorily established as a psychological or mental defect that is
serious or grave; neither could it be proven to be in existence at the time of celebration of the marriage; nor that it is
incurable. While the personal examination of Fely by a psychiatrist or psychologist is no longer mandatory for the declaration
of nullity of their marriage under Article 36 of the Family Code of the Philippines, by virtue of this Courts ruling in Marcos v.
Marcos,[29] respondent Crasus must still have complied with the requirement laid down in Republic v. Court of Appeals and
Molina[30] that the root cause of the incapacity be identified as a psychological illness and that its incapacitating nature be
fully explained.

In any case, any doubt shall be resolved in favor of the validity of the marriage.[31] No less than the Constitution of 1987 sets
the policy to protect and strengthen the family as the basic social institution and marriage as the foundation of the family.[32]

II
Article 26, paragraph 2 of the Family Code of the Philippines is not applicable to the case at bar.

According to Article 26, paragraph 2 of the Family Code of the Philippines

Where a marriage between a Filipino citizen and a foreigner is validly celebrated and a divorce is
thereafter validly obtained abroad by the alien spouse capacitating him or her to remarry, the Filipino
spouse shall likewise have capacity to remarry under Philippine law.

As it is worded, Article 26, paragraph 2, refers to a special situation wherein one of the couple getting married is a
Filipino citizen and the other a foreigner at the time the marriage was celebrated. By its plain and literal interpretation,
the said provision cannot be applied to the case of respondent Crasus and his wife Fely because at the time Fely
obtained her divorce, she was still a Filipino citizen. Although the exact date was not established, Fely herself admitted
in her Answer filed before the RTC that she obtained a divorce from respondent Crasus sometime after she left for the United
States in 1984, after which she married her American husband in 1985. In the same Answer, she alleged that she had been
an American citizen since 1988. At the time she filed for divorce, Fely was still a Filipino citizen, and pursuant to the
nationality principle embodied in Article 15 of the Civil Code of the Philippines, she was still bound by Philippine laws on
family rights and duties, status, condition, and legal capacity, even when she was already living abroad. Philippine laws, then
and even until now, do not allow and recognize divorce between Filipino spouses. Thus, Fely could not have validly obtained
a divorce from respondent Crasus.

III
The Solicitor General is authorized to intervene, on behalf of the Republic, in proceedings for annulment and
declaration of nullity of marriages.

Invoking Article 48 of the Family Code of the Philippines, respondent Crasus argued that only the prosecuting
attorney or fiscal assigned to the RTC may intervene on behalf of the State in proceedings for annulment or declaration of
nullity of marriages; hence, the Office of the Solicitor General had no personality to file the instant Petition on behalf of the
State. Article 48 provides

ART. 48. In all cases of annulment or declaration of absolute nullity of marriage, the Court shall
order the prosecuting attorney or fiscal assigned to it to appear on behalf of the State to take steps to
prevent collusion between the parties and to take care that the evidence is not fabricated or suppressed.

That Article 48 does not expressly mention the Solicitor General does not bar him or his Office from intervening in
proceedings for annulment or declaration of nullity of marriages. Executive Order No. 292, otherwise known as the
Administrative Code of 1987, appoints the Solicitor General as the principal law officer and legal defender of the
Government.[33] His Office is tasked to represent the Government of the Philippines, its agencies and instrumentalities and its
officials and agents in any litigation, proceeding, investigation or matter requiring the services of lawyers. The Office of the
Solicitor General shall constitute the law office of the Government and, as such, shall discharge duties requiring the services
of lawyers.[34]

The intent of Article 48 of the Family Code of the Philippines is to ensure that the interest of the State is represented and
protected in proceedings for annulment and declaration of nullity of marriages by preventing collusion between the parties,
or the fabrication or suppression of 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
intent, rather than thwart it.

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 or declaration
of nullity of marriage before the RTC, the Office of the Solicitor General takes over when the case is elevated to the Court of
Appeals or this Court. Since it shall be eventually responsible for taking the case to the appellate courts when circumstances
demand, then it is only reasonable and practical that even while the proceeding is still being held before the RTC, the Office
of the Solicitor General can already exercise supervision and control over the conduct of the prosecuting attorney or fiscal
therein to better guarantee the protection of the interests of the State.

In fact, this Court had already recognized and affirmed the role of the 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]
In the case of Republic v. Court of Appeals [268 SCRA 198 (1997)], this Court laid down the guidelines in
the interpretation and application of Art. 48 of the Family Code, one of which concerns the role of the
prosecuting attorney or fiscal and the Solicitor General to appear as counsel for the State:

(8) The trial court must order the prosecuting attorney or fiscal and the Solicitor
General to appear as counsel for the state. No decision shall be handed down unless the
Solicitor General issues a certification, which will be quoted in the decision, briefly stating
therein his reasons for his agreement or opposition, as the case may be, to the petition.
The Solicitor General, along with the prosecuting attorney, shall submit to the court such
certification within fifteen (15) days from the date the case is deemed submitted for
resolution of the court. The Solicitor General shall discharge the equivalent function of
the defensor vinculi contemplated under Canon 1095. [Id., at 213]

This Court in the case of Malcampo-Sin v. Sin [355 SCRA 285 (2001)] reiterated its pronouncement
in Republic v. Court of Appeals [Supra.] regarding the role of the prosecuting attorney or fiscal and the
Solicitor General to appear as counsel for the State[37]

Finally, the issuance of this Court of the Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages and Annulment of Voidable
Marriages,[38] which 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 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 reproduced below

Sec. 5. Contents and form of petition.

(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 Provincial Prosecutor, within five days from the date of its filing
and submit to the court proof of such service within the same period.

Sec. 18. Memoranda. The court may require the parties and the public prosecutor, in consultation
with the Office of the Solicitor General, to file their respective memoranda in support of their claims within
fifteen days from the date the trial is terminated. It may require the Office of the Solicitor General to file its
own memorandum if the case is of significant interest to the State. No other pleadings or papers may be
submitted without leave of court. After the lapse of the period herein provided, the case will be considered
submitted for decision, with or without the memoranda.

Sec. 19. Decision.

(2) The parties, including the Solicitor General and the public prosecutor, shall be served with copies
of the decision personally or by registered mail. If the respondent summoned by publication failed to appear
in the action, the dispositive part of the decision shall be published once in a newspaper 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 reconsideration or new trial, or appeal is filed by any of the
parties, the public prosecutor, or the Solicitor General.

Sec. 20. Appeal.

(2) Notice of Appeal. An aggrieved party or the Solicitor General may 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 appellant shall serve a copy of the notice of appeal on the adverse parties.

Given the foregoing, this Court arrives at a conclusion contrary to those of the RTC and the Court of Appeals, and sustains
the validity and existence of the marriage between respondent Crasus and Fely. At most, Felys abandonment, sexual
infidelity, and bigamy, give respondent Crasus grounds to file for legal separation under Article 55 of the Family Code of the
Philippines, but not for declaration of nullity of marriage under Article 36 of the same Code. While this Court commiserates
with respondent Crasus for being continuously shackled to what is now a hopeless and loveless marriage, this is one of those
situations where neither law nor society can provide the specific answer to every individual problem.[39]

WHEREFORE, the Petition is GRANTED and the assailed Decision of the 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 valid and subsisting.

SO ORDERED.
REPUBLIC vs ORBECIDEO III, GR No. 221029, April 24, 2018
DECISION
PERALTA, J.:
This petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court (Rules) seeks to reverse and set aside the
September 18, 2014 Decision1 and October 12, 2015 Resolution2 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CV No. 100076.
The dispositive portion of the Decision states:
WHEREFORE, the instant appeal is GRANTED. The Decision dated 15 October 2012 of the Regional Trial Court of Dagupan
City, First Judicial Region, Branch 43, in SPEC. PROC. NO. 2012-0005 is REVERSED and SET ASIDE.
Let a copy of this Decision be served on the Local Civil Registrar of San Juan, Metro Manila.
SO ORDERED.3

The facts are undisputed.


On January 10, 2012, respondent Marelyn Tanedo Manalo (Manalo) filed a petition for cancellation of entry of marriage in the
Civil Registry of San Juan, Metro Manila, by virtue of a judgment of divorce rendered by a Japanese court.
Finding the petition to be sufficient in form and in substance, Branch 43 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Dagupan City set
the case for initial hearing on April 25, 2012. The petition and the notice of initial hearing were published once a week for
three consecutive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation. During the initial hearing, counsel for Manalo marked the
documentary evidence (consisting of the trial court's Order dated January 25, 2012, affidavit of publication, and issues of the
Northern Journal dated February 21-27, 2012, February 28 - March 5, 2012, and March 6-12, 2012) for purposes of
compliance with the jurisdictional requirements.
The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) entered its appearance for petitioner Republic of the Philippines authorizing the
Office of the City Prosecutor of Dagupan to appear on its behalf. Likewise, a Manifestation and Motion was filed questioning
the title and/or caption of the petition considering that, based on the allegations therein, the proper action should be a
petition for recognition and enforcement of a foreign judgment.
As a result, Manalo moved to admit an Amended Petition, which the court granted. The Amended Petition, which captioned
that it is also a petition for recognition and enforcement of foreign judgment, alleged:
2. That petitioner is previously married in the Philippines to a Japanese national named YOSHINO MINORO as shown by their
Marriage Contract x x x;
3. That recently, a case for divorce was filed by herein [petitioner] in Japan and after due proceedings, a divorce decree
dated December 6, 2011 was rendered by the Japanese Court x x x;
4. That at present, by virtue of the said divorce decree, petitioner and her divorced Japanese husband are no longer living
together and in fact, petitioner and her daughter are living separately from said Japanese former husband;
5. That there is an imperative need to have the entry of marriage in the Civil Registry of San Juan, Metro Manila cancelled,
where the petitioner and the former Japanese husband's marriage was previously registered, in order that it would not
appear anymore that petitioner is still married to the said Japanese national who is no longer her husband or is no longer
married to her; furthermore, in the event that petitioner decides to be remarried, she shall not be bothered and disturbed by
said entry of marriage;
6. That this petition is filed principally for the purpose of causing the cancellation of entry of the marriage between the
petitioner and the said Japanese national, pursuant to Rule 108 of the Revised Rules of Court, which marriage was already
dissolved by virtue of the aforesaid divorce decree; [and]
7. That petitioner prays, among others, that together with the cancellation of the said entry of her marriage, that she be
allowed to return and use. her maiden surname, MANALO.4
Manalo was allowed to testify in advance as she was scheduled to leave for Japan for her employment. Among the
documents that were offered and admitted were:
1. Court Order dated January 25, 2012, finding the petition and its attachments to be sufficient in form and in substance;
2. Affidavit of Publication;
3. Issues of the Northern Journal dated February 21-27, 2012, February 28 - March 5, 2012, and March 6-12, 2012;
4. Certificate of Marriage between Manalo and her former Japanese husband;
5. Divorce Decree of the Japanese court;
6. Authentication/Certificate issued by the Philippine Consulate General in Osaka, Japan of the Notification of Divorce; and
7. Acceptance of Certificate of Divorce.5
The OSG did not present any controverting evidence to rebut the allegations of Manalo.

On October 15, 2012, the trial court denied the petition for lack of merit. In ruling that the divorce obtained by Manalo in
Japan should not be recognized, it opined that, based on Article 15 of the New Civil Code, the Philippine law "does not afford
Filipinos the right to file for a divorce, whether they are in the country or living abroad, if they are married to Filipinos or to
foreigners, or if they celebrated their marriage in the Philippines or in another country" and that unless Filipinos "are
naturalized as citizens of another country, Philippine laws shall have control over issues related to Filipinos' family rights and
duties, together with the determination of their condition and legal capacity to enter into contracts and civil relations,
including marriages."6

On appeal, the CA overturned the RTC decision. It held that Article 26 of the Family Code of the Philippines (Family Code) is
applicable even if it was Manalo who filed for divorce against her Japanese husband because the decree they obtained makes
the latter no longer married to the former, capacitating him to remarry. Conformably with Navarro, et al. v. Exec. Secretary
Ermita, et al.7 ruling that the meaning of the law should be based on the intent of the lawmakers and in view of the
legislative intent behind Article 26, it would be the height of injustice to consider Manalo as still married to the Japanese
national, who, in turn, is no longer married to her. For the appellate court, the fact that it was Manalo who filed the divorce
case is inconsequential. Cited as similar to this case was Van Dorn v. Judge Romillo, Jr.8 where the marriage between a
foreigner and a Filipino was dissolved through a divorce filed abroad by the latter.

The OSG filed a motion for reconsideration, but it was denied; hence, this petition.
We deny the petition and partially affirm the CA decision.
Divorce, the legal dissolution of a lawful union for a cause arising after marriage, are of two types: (1) absolute divorce or a
vinculo matrimonii, which terminates the marriage, and (2) limited divorce or a mensa et thoro, which suspends it and leaves
the bond in full force.9 In this jurisdiction, the following rules exist:
1. Philippine law does not provide for absolute divorce; hence, our courts cannot grant it.10
2. Consistent with Articles 1511 and 1712 of the New Civil Code, the marital bond between two Filipinos cannot be dissolved
even by an absolute divorce obtained abroad.13
3. An absolute divorce obtained abroad by a couple, who are both aliens, may be recognized in the Philippines, provided it is
consistent with their respective national laws.14
4. In mixed marriages involving a Filipino and a foreigner, the former is allowed to contract a subsequent marriage in case
the absolute divorce is validly obtained abroad by the alien spouse capacitating him or her to remarry.15
On July 6, 1987, then President Corazon C. Aquino signed into law Executive Order (E.O.) No. 209, otherwise known as The
Family Code of the Philippines, which took effect on August 3, 1988.16 Shortly thereafter, E.O. No. 227 was issued on July 17,
1987.17 Aside from amending Articles 36 and 39 of the Family Code, a second paragraph was added to Article 26.18 This
provision was originally deleted by the Civil Code Revision Committee (Committee), but it was presented and approved at a
Cabinet meeting after Pres. Aquino signed E.O. No. 209.19 As modified, Article 26 now states:
Art. 26. All marriages solemnized outside the Philippines, in accordance with the laws in force in the country where they were
solemnized, and valid there as such, shall also be valid in this country, except those prohibited under Articles 35(1), (4), (5)
and (6), 36, 37 and 38.
Where a marriage between a Filipino citizen and a foreigner is validly celebrated and a divorce is thereafter validly obtained
abroad by the alien spouse capacitating him or her to remarry, the Filipino spouse shall likewise have capacity to remarry
under Philippine law.
Paragraph 2 of Article 26 confers jurisdiction on Philippine courts to extend the effect of a foreign divorce decree to a Filipino
spouse without undergoing trial to determine the validity of the dissolution of the marriage.20 It authorizes our courts to
adopt the effects of a foreign divorce decree precisely because the Philippines does not allow divorce.21 Philippine courts
cannot try the case on the merits because it is tantamount to trying a divorce case.22 Under the principles of comity, our
jurisdiction recognizes a valid divorce obtained by a spouse of foreign nationality, but the legal effects thereof, e.g., on
custody, care and support of the children or property relations of the spouses, must still be determined by our courts.23
According to Judge Alicia Sempio-Diy, a member of the Committee, the idea of the amendment is to avoid the absurd
situation of a Filipino as still being married to his or her alien spouse, although the latter is no longer married to the former
because he or she had obtained a divorce abroad that is recognized by his or her national law.24 The aim was that it would
solve the problem of many Filipino women who, under the New Civil Code, are still considered married to their alien
husbands even after the latter have already validly divorced them under their (the husbands') national laws and perhaps
have already married again.25
In 2005, this Court concluded that Paragraph 2 of Article 26 applies to a case where, at the time of the celebration of the
marriage, the parties were Filipino citizens, but later on, one of them acquired foreign citizenship by naturalization, initiated a
divorce proceeding, and obtained a favorable decree. We held in Republic of the Phils. v. Orbecido III:26
The jurisprudential answer lies latent in the 1998 case of Quita v. Court of Appeals. In Quita, the parties were, as in this
case, Filipino citizens when they got married. The wife became a naturalized American citizen in 1954 and obtained a divorce
in the same year. The Court therein hinted, by way of obiter dictum, that a Filipino divorced by his naturalized foreign spouse
is no longer married under Philippine law and can thus remarry.
Thus, taking into consideration the legislative intent and applying the rule of reason, we hold that Paragraph 2 of Article 26
should be interpreted to include cases involving parties who, at the time of the celebration of the marriage were Filipino
citizens, but later on, one of them becomes naturalized as a foreign citizen and obtains a divorce decree. The Filipino spouse
should likewise be allowed to remarry as if the other party were a foreigner at the time of the solemnization of the marriage.
To rule otherwise would be to sanction absurdity and injustice. x x x

If we are to give meaning to the legislative intent to avoid the absurd situation where the Filipino spouse remains married to
the alien spouse who, after obtaining a divorce is no longer married to the Filipino spouse, then the instant case must be
deemed as coming within the contemplation of Paragraph 2 of Article 26.
In view of the foregoing, we state the twin elements for the application of Paragraph 2 of Article 26 as follows:
1. There is a valid marriage that has been celebrated between a Filipino citizen and a foreigner; and
2. A valid divorce is obtained abroad by the alien spouse capacitating him or her to remarry.

The reckoning point is not the citizenship of the parties at the time of the celebration of the marriage, but their citizenship at
the time a valid divorce is obtained abroad by the alien spouse capacitating the latter to remarry.27
Now, the Court is tasked to resolve whether, under the same provision, a Filipino citizen has the capacity to remarry under
Philippine law after initiating a divorce proceeding abroad and obtaining a favorable judgment against his or her alien spouse
who is capacitated to remarry. Specifically, Manalo pleads for the recognition and enforcement of the divorce decree
rendered by the Japanese court and for the cancellation of the entry of marriage in the local civil registry "in order that it
would not appear anymore that [she] is still married to the said Japanese national who is no longer her husband or is no
longer married to her; [and], in the event that [she] decides to be remarried, she shall not be bothered and disturbed by
said entry of marriage," and to return and to use her maiden surname.
We rule in the affirmative.
Both Dacasin v. Dacasin28 and Van Dorn29 already recognized a foreign divorce decree that was initiated and obtained by the
Filipino spouse and extended its legal effects on the issues of child custody and property relation, respectively.
In Dacasin, post-divorce, the former spouses executed an Agreement for the joint custody of their minor daughter. Later on,
the husband, who is a US citizen, sued his Filipino wife to enforce the Agreement, alleging that it was only, the latter who
exercised sole custody of their child. The trial court dismissed the action for lack of jurisdiction, on the ground, among
others, that the divorce decree is binding following the "nationality rule" prevailing in this jurisdiction. The husband moved to
reconsider, arguing that the divorce decree obtained by his former wife is void, but it was denied. In ruling that the trial court
has jurisdiction to entertain the suit but not to enforce the Agreement, which is void, this Court said:
Nor can petitioner rely on the divorce decree's alleged invalidity - not because the Illinois court lacked jurisdiction or that the
divorce decree violated Illinois law, but because the divorce was obtained by his Filipino spouse - to support the Agreement's
enforceability. The argument that foreigners in this jurisdiction are not bound by foreign divorce decrees is hardly novel. Van
Dorn v. Romillo settled the matter by holding that an alien spouse of a Filipino is bound by a divorce decree obtained abroad.
There, we dismissed the alien divorcee's Philippine suit for accounting of alleged post-divorce conjugal property and rejected
his submission that the foreign divorce (obtained by the Filipino spouse) is not valid in this jurisdiction x x x.30
Van Dorn was decided before the Family Code took into effect. There, a complaint was filed by the ex-husband, who is a US
citizen, against his Filipino wife to render an accounting of a business that was alleged to be a conjugal property and to be
declared with right to manage the same. Van Dorn moved to dismiss the case on the ground that the cause of action was
barred by previous judgment in the divorce proceedings that she initiated, but the trial court denied the motion. On his part,
her ex-husband averred that the divorce decree issued by the Nevada court could not prevail over the prohibitive laws of the
Philippines and its declared national policy; that the acts and declaration of a foreign court cannot, especially if the same is
contrary to public policy, divest Philippine courts of jurisdiction to entertain matters within its jurisdiction. In dismissing the
case filed by the alien spouse, the Court discussed the effect of the foreign divorce on the parties and their conjugal property
in the Philippines. Thus:
There can be no question as to the validity of that Nevada divorce in any of the States of the United States. The decree is
binding on private respondent as an American citizen. For instance, private respondent cannot sue petitioner, as her
husband, in any State of the Union. What he is contending in this case is that the divorce is not valid and binding in this
jurisdiction, the same being contrary to local law and public policy.
It is true that owing to the nationality principle embodied in Article 15 of the Civil Code, only Philippine nationals are covered
by the policy against absolute divorces the same being considered contrary to our concept of public policy and morality.
However, aliens may obtain divorces abroad, which may be recognized in the Philippines, provided they are valid according
to their national law. In this case, the divorce in Nevada released private respondent from the marriage from the standards
of American law, under which divorce dissolves the marriage. As stated by the Federal Supreme Court of the United
States in Atherton vs. Atherton, 45 L. Ed. 794, 799:
"The purpose and effect of a decree of divorce from the bond of matrimony by a court of competent jurisdiction are to
change the existing status or domestic relation of husband and wife, and to free them both from the bond. The marriage tie,
when thus severed as to one party, ceases to bind either. A husband without a wife, or a wife without a husband, is unknown
to the law. When the law provides, in the nature of a penalty, that the guilty party shall not marry again, that party, as well
as the other, is still absolutely freed from the bond of the former marriage."
Thus, pursuant to his national law, private respondent is no longer the husband of petitioner. He would have no standing to
sue in the case below as petitioner's husband entitled to exercise control over conjugal assets. As he is bound by the
Decision of his own country's Court, which validly exercised jurisdiction over him, and whose decision he does not repudiate,
he is estopped by his own representation before said Court from asserting his right over the alleged conjugal property.
To maintain, as private respondent does, that, under our laws, petitioner has to be considered still married to private
respondent and still subject to a wife's obligations under Article 109, et. seq. of the Civil Code cannot be just. Petitioner
should not be obliged to live together with, observe respect and fidelity, and render support to private respondent. 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.31
In addition, the fact that a validly obtained foreign divorce initiated by the Filipino spouse can be recognized and given legal
effects in the Philippines is implied from Our rulings in Fujiki v. Marinay, et al.32 and Medina v. Koike.33
In Fujiki, the Filipino wife, with the help of her first husband, who is a Japanese national, was able to obtain a judgment from
Japan's family court, which declared the marriage between her and her second husband, who is a Japanese national, void on
the ground of bigamy. In resolving the issue of whether a husband or wife of a prior marriage can file a petition to recognize
a foreign judgment nullifying the subsequent marriage between his or her spouse and a foreign citizen on the ground of
bigamy, We ruled:
Fujiki has the personality to file a petition to recognize the Japanese Family Court judgment nullifying the marriage between
Marinay and Maekara on 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 petition under Rule 108 to cancel the entry of marriage between Marinay and
Maekara in the civil registry on the basis of the decree of the Japanese Family Court.
There is no doubt that the prior spouse has a personal and material interest in maintaining the integrity of the marriage he
contracted and the property relations arising from it. There is also no doubt that he is interested in the cancellation of an
entry of a bigamous marriage in the civil registry, which compromises the public record of his marriage. The interest derives
from the substantive right of the spouse not only to preserve (or dissolve, in limited instances) his most intimate human
relation, but also to protect his property interests that arise by operation of law the moment he contracts marriage. These
property interests in marriage include the right to be supported "in keeping with the financial capacity of the family" and
preserving the property regime of the marriage.
Property rights are already substantive rights protected by the Constitution, but a spouse's right in a marriage extends
further to relational rights recognized under Title III ("Rights and Obligations between Husband and Wife") of the Family
Code. x x x34
On the other hand, in Medina, the Filipino wife and her Japanese husband jointly filed for divorce, which was granted.
Subsequently, she filed a petition before the RTC for judicial recognition of foreign divorce and declaration of capacity to
remarry pursuant to Paragraph 2 of Article 26. The RTC denied the petition on the ground that the foreign divorce decree and
the national law of the alien spouse recognizing his capacity to obtain a divorce decree must be proven in accordance with
Sections 24 and 25 of Rule 132 of the Revised Rules on Evidence. This Court agreed and ruled that, consistent with Corpuz v.
Sto. Tomas, et al.35 and Garcia v. Recio,36 the divorce decree and the national law of the alien spouse must be proven.
Instead of dismissing the case, We referred it to the CA for appropriate action including the reception of evidence to
determine and resolve the pertinent factual issues.
There is no compelling reason to deviate from the above-mentioned rulings. When this Court recognized a foreign divorce
decree that was initiated and obtained by the Filipino spouse and extended its legal effects on the issues of child custody and
property relation, it should not stop short in likewise acknowledging that one of the usual and necessary consequences of
absolute divorce is the right to remarry. Indeed, there is no longer a mutual obligation to live together and observe fidelity.
When the marriage tie is severed and ceased to exist, the civil status and the domestic relation of the former spouses change
as both of them are freed from the marital bond.
The dissent is of the view that, under the nationality principle, Manalo's personal status is subject to Philippine law, which
prohibits absolute divorce. Hence, the divorce decree which she obtained under Japanese law cannot be given effect, as she
is, without dispute, a national not of Japan, but of the Philippines. It is said that a contrary ruling will subvert not only the
intention of the framers of the law, but also that of the Filipino people, as expressed in the Constitution. The Court is,
therefore, bound to respect the prohibition until the legislature deems it fit to lift the same.
We beg to differ.
Paragraph 2 of Article 26 speaks of "a divorce x x x validly obtained abroad by the alien spouse capacitating him or her to
remarry. " Based on a clear and plain reading of the provision, it only requires that there be a divorce validly obtained
abroad. The letter of the law does not demand that the alien spouse should be the one who initiated the proceeding wherein
the divorce decree was granted. It does not distinguish whether the Filipino spouse is the petitioner or the respondent in the
foreign divorce proceeding. The Court is bound by the words of the statute; neither can We put words in the mouths of the
lawmakers.37 "The legislature is presumed to know the meaning of the words, to have used words advisedly, and to have
expressed its intent by the use of such words as are found in the statute. Verba legis non est recedendum, or from the words
of a statute there should be no departure."38
Assuming, for the sake of argument, that the word "obtained" should be interpreted to mean that the divorce proceeding
must be actually initiated by the alien spouse, still, the Court will not follow the letter of the statute when to do so would
depart from the true intent of the legislature or would otherwise yield conclusions inconsistent with the general purpose of
the act.39 Laws have ends to achieve, and statutes should be so construed as not to defeat but to carry out such ends and
purposes.40 As held in League of Cities of the Phils., et al. v. COMELEC, et al.:41

The legislative intent is not at all times accurately reflected in the manner in which the resulting law is couched. Thus,
applying a verba legis or strictly literal interpretation of a statute may render it meaningless and lead to inconvenience, an
absurd situation or injustice. To obviate this aberration, and bearing in mind the principle that the intent or the spirit of the
law is the law itself, resort should be to the rule that the spirit of the law controls its letter.

To reiterate, the purpose of Paragraph 2 of Article 26 is to avoid the absurd situation where the Filipino spouse remains
married to the alien spouse who, after a foreign divorce decree that is effective in the country where it was rendered, is no
longer married to the Filipino spouse. The provision is a corrective measure to address an anomaly where the Filipino spouse
is tied to the marriage while the foreign spouse is free to marry under the laws of his or her country.42 Whether the Filipino
spouse initiated the foreign divorce proceeding or not, a favorable decree dissolving the marriage bond and capacitating his
or her alien spouse to remarry will have the same result: the Filipino spouse will effectively be without a husband or wife. A
Filipino who initiated a foreign divorce proceeding is in the same place and in "like circumstance as a Filipino who is at the
receiving end of an alien initiated proceeding. Therefore, the subject provision should not make a distinction. In both
instance, it is extended as a means to recognize the residual effect of the foreign divorce decree on Filipinos whose marital
ties to their alien spouses are severed by operation of the latter's national law.

Conveniently invoking the nationality principle is erroneous. Such principle, found under Article 15 of the Civil Code, is not an
absolute and unbending rule. In fact, the mere existence of Paragraph 2 of Article 26 is a testament that the State may
provide for an exception thereto. Moreover, blind adherence to the nationality principle must be disallowed if it would cause
unjust discrimination and oppression to certain classes of individuals whose rights are equally protected by law. The courts
have the duty to enforce the laws of divorce as written by the Legislature only if they are constitutional.43
While the Congress is allowed a wide leeway in providing for a valid classification and that its decision is accorded recognition
and respect by the courts of justice, such classification may be subjected to judicial review.44 The deference stops where the
classification violates a fundamental right, or prejudices persons accorded special protection by the Constitution.45 When
these violations arise, this Court must discharge its primary role as the vanguard of constitutional guaranties, and require a
stricter and more exacting adherence to constitutional limitations.46 If a legislative classification impermissibly interferes with
the exercise of a fundamental right or operates to the peculiar disadvantage of a suspect class strict judicial scrutiny is
required since it is presumed unconstitutional, and the burden is upon the government to prove that the classification is
necessary to achieve a compelling state interest and that it is the least restrictive means to protect such interest.47
"Fundamental rights" whose infringement leads to strict scrutiny under the equal protection clause are those basic liberties
explicitly or implicitly guaranteed in the Constitution.48 It includes the right of procreation, the right to marry, the right to
exercise free speech, political expression, press, assembly, and so forth, the right to travel, and the right to vote.49 On the
other hand, what constitutes compelling state interest is measured by the scale of rights and powers arrayed in the
Constitution and calibrated by history.50 It is akin to the paramount interest of the state for which some individual liberties
must give way, such as the promotion of public interest, public safety or the general welfare.51 It essentially involves a public
right or interest that, because of its primacy, overrides individual rights, and allows the former to take precedence over the
latter.52
Although the Family Code was not enacted by the Congress, the same principle applies with respect to the acts of the
President, which have the force and effect of law unless declared otherwise by the court. In this case, We find that Paragraph
2 of Article 26 violates one of the essential requisites53 of the equal protection clause.54 Particularly, the limitation of the
provision only to a foreign divorce decree initiated by the alien spouse is unreasonable as it is based on superficial, arbitrary,
and whimsical classification.
A Filipino who is married to another Filipino is not similarly situated with a Filipino who is married to a foreign citizen. There
are real, material and substantial differences between them. Ergo, they should not be treated alike, both as to rights
conferred and liabilities imposed. Without a doubt, there are political, economic, cultural, and religious dissimilarities as well
as varying legal systems and procedures, all too unfamiliar, that a Filipino national who is married to an alien spouse has to
contend with. More importantly, while a divorce decree obtained abroad by a Filipino against another Filipino is null and void,
a divorce decree obtained by an alien against his or her Filipino spouse is recognized if made in accordance with the national
law of the foreigner.55
On the contrary, there is no real and substantial difference between a Filipino who initiated a foreign divorce proceedings and
a Filipino who obtained a divorce decree upon the instance of his or her alien spouse. In the eyes of the Philippine and
foreign laws, both are considered as Filipinos who have the same rights and obligations in a alien land. The circumstances
surrounding them are alike. Were it not for Paragraph 2 of Article 26, both are still married to their foreigner spouses who
are no longer their wives/husbands. Hence, to make a distinction between them based merely on the superficial difference of
whether they initiated the divorce proceedings or not is utterly unfair. Indeed, the treatment gives undue favor to one and
unjustly discriminate against the other.
Further, the differentiation in Paragraph 2 of Article 26 is arbitrary. There is inequality in treatment because a foreign divorce
decree that was initiated and obtained by a Filipino citizen against his or her alien spouse would not be recognized even if
based on grounds similar to Articles 35, 36, 37 and 38 of the Family Code.56 In filing for divorce based on these grounds, the
Filipino spouse cannot be accused of invoking foreign law at whim, tantamount to insisting that he or she should be governed
with whatever law he or she chooses. The dissent's comment that Manalo should be "reminded that all is not lost, for she
may still pray for the severance of her marital ties before the RTC in accordance with the mechanisms now existing under the
Family Code" is anything but comforting. For the guidance of the bench and the bar, it would have been better if the dissent
discussed in detail what these "mechanisms" are and how they specifically apply in Manalo's case as well as those who are
similarly situated. If the dissent refers to a petition for declaration of nullity or annulment of marriage, the reality is that
there is no assurance that our courts will automatically grant the same. Besides, such proceeding is duplicitous, costly, and
protracted. All to the prejudice of our kababayan.
It is argued that the Court's liberal interpretation of Paragraph 2 of Article 26 encourages Filipinos to marry foreigners,
opening the floodgate to the indiscriminate practice of Filipinos marrying foreign nationals or initiating divorce proceedings
against their alien spouses.
The supposition is speculative and unfounded.
First, the dissent falls into a hasty generalization as no data whatsoever was shown to support what he intends to
prove. Second, We adhere to the presumption of good faith in this jurisdiction. Under the rules on evidence, it is disputably
presumed (i.e., satisfactory if uncontradicted and overcome by other evidence) that a person is innocent of crime or
wrong,57 that a person intends the ordinary consequences of his voluntary acts,58 that a person takes ordinary care of his
concerns,59 that acquiescence resulted from a belief that the thing acquiesced in was conformable to the law and fact,60 that
a man and woman deporting themselves as husband and wife have entered into a lawful contract of marriage,61 and that the
law has been obeyed.62 It is whimsical to easily attribute any illegal, irregular or immoral conduct on the part of a Filipino just
because he or she opted to marry a foreigner instead of a fellow Filipino. It is presumed that interracial unions are entered
into out of genuine love and affection, rather than prompted by pure lust or profit. Third, We take judicial notice of the fact
that Filipinos are relatively more forbearing and conservative in nature and that they are more often the victims or at the
losing end of mixed marriages. And Fourth, it is not for Us to prejudge the motive behind a Filipino's decision to marry an
alien national. In one case, it was said:
Motives for entering into a marriage are varied and complex. The State does not and cannot dictate on the kind of life that a
couple chooses to lead. Any attempt to regulate their lifestyle would go into the realm of their right to privacy and would
raise serious constitutional questions. The right to marital privacy allows married couples to structure their marriages in
almost any way they see fit, to live together or live apart, to have children or no children, to love one another or not, and so
on. Thus, marriages entered into for other purposes, limited or otherwise, such as convenience, companionship, money,
status, and title, provided that they comply with all the legal requisites, are equally valid. Love, though the ideal
consideration in a marriage contract, is not the only valid cause for marriage. Other considerations, not precluded by law,
may validly support a marriage.63
The 1987 Constitution expresses that marriage, as an inviolable social institution, is the foundation of the family and shall be
protected by the State.64 Nevertheless, it was not meant to be a general prohibition on divorce because Commissioner Jose
Luis Martin C. Gascon, in response to a question by Father Joaquin G. Bernas during the deliberations of the 1986
Constitutional Commission, was categorical about this point.65 Their exchange reveal as follows:
MR. RAMA. Mr. Presiding Officer, may I ask that Commissioner Bernas be recognized.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Colayco). Commissioner Bernas is recognized.
FR. BERNAS. Just one question, and I am not sure if it has been categorically answered. I refer specifically to the proposal of
Commissioner Gascon. Is this to be understood as a prohibition of a general law on divorce? His intention is to make this a
prohibition so that the legislature cannot pass a divorce law.
MR. GASCON. Mr. Presiding Officer, that was not primarily my intention. My intention was primarily to encourage the social
institution of marriage, but not necessarily discourage divorce. But now that he mentioned the issue of divorce, my personal
opinion is to discourage it, Mr. Presiding Officer.
FR. BERNAS. No. my question is more categorical. Does this carry the meaning of prohibiting a divorce law?
MR. GASCON. No. Mr. Presiding Officer.
FR. BERNAS. Thank you.66
Notably, a law on absolute divorce is not new in our country. Effective March 11, 1917, Philippine courts could grant an
absolute divorce on the grounds of adultery on the part of the wife or concubinage on the part of the husband by virtue of
Act No. 2710 of the Philippine Legislature.67 On March 25, 1943, pursuant to the authority conferred upon him by the
Commander-in-Chief of the Imperial Japanese Forces in the Philippines and with the approval of the latter, the Chairman of
the Philippine Executive Commission promulgated an E.O. No. 141 ("New Divorce Law"), which repealed Act No. 2710 and
provided eleven grounds for absolute divorce, such as intentional or unjustified desertion continuously for at least one year
prior to the filing of the action, slander by deed or gross insult by one spouse against the other to such an extent as to make
further living together impracticable, and a spouse's incurable insanity.68 When the Philippines was liberated and the
Commonwealth Government was restored, it ceased to have force and effect and Act No. 2710 again prevailed.69 From
August 30, 1950, upon the effectivity of Republic Act No. 386 or the New Civil Code, an absolute divorce obtained by Filipino
citizens, whether here or abroad, is no longer recognized.70
Through the years, there has been constant clamor from various sectors of the Philippine society to re-institute absolute
divorce. As a matter of fact, in the current 17th Congress, House Bill (H.B.) Nos. 116,711062,72 238073 and 602774 were filed
in the House of Representatives. In substitution of these bills, H.B. No. 7303 entitled "An Act Instituting Absolute Divorce and
Dissolution of Marriage in the Philippines" or the Absolute Divorce Act of 2018 was submitted by the House Committee on
Population and Family Relations on February 28, 2018. It was approved on March 19, 2018 on Third Reading - with 134 in
favor, 57 against, and 2 abstentions. Under the bill, the grounds for a judicial decree of absolute divorce are as follows:
1. The grounds for legal separation under Article 55 of the Family Code, modified or amended, as follows:
a. Physical violence or grossly abusive conduct directed against the petitioner, a common child, or a child of the petitioner;
b. Physical violence or moral pressure to compel the petitioner to change religious or political affiliation;
c. Attempt of respondent to corrupt or induce the petitioner, a common child, or a child of the petitioner, to engage in
prostitution, or connivance in such corruption or inducement;
d. Final judgment sentencing the respondent to imprisonment of more than six (6) years, even if pardoned;
e. Drug addiction or habitual alcoholism or chronic gambling of the respondent;
f. Homosexuality of the respondent;
g. Contracting by the respondent of a subsequent bigamous marriage, whether in the Philippines or abroad;
h. Marital infidelity or perversion or having a child with another person other than one's spouse during the marriage, except
when upon the mutual agreement of the spouses, a child is born to them by in vitro or a similar procedure or when the wife
bears a child after being a victim of rape;
i. Attempt by the respondent against the life of the petitioner, a common child or a child of the petitioner; and
j. Abandonment of petitioner by respondent without justifiable cause for more than one (1) year.
When the spouses are legally separated by judicial decree for more than two (2) years, either or both spouses can petition
the proper court for an absolute divorce based on said judicial decree of legal separation.
1. Grounds for annulment of marriage under Article 45 of the Family Code, restated as follows:
a. The party in whose behalf it is sought to have the marriage annulled was eighteen (18) years of age or over
but below twenty-one (21), and the marriage was solemnized without the consent of the parents, guardian
or person having substitute parental authority over the party, in that order, unless after attaining the age of
twenty-one (21), such party freely cohabited with the other and both lived together as husband or wife;
b. either party was of unsound mind, unless such party after coming to reason, freely cohabited with the other
as husband and wife;
c. The consent of either party was obtained by fraud, unless such party afterwards with full knowledge of the
facts constituting the fraud, freely cohabited with the other as husband and wife;
d. The consent of either party was obtained by force, intimidation or undue influence, unless the same having
disappeared or ceased, such party thereafter freely cohabited with the other as husband and wife;
e. Either party was physically incapable of consummating the marriage with the other and such incapacity
continues or appears to be incurable; and
f. Either party was afflicted with a sexually transmissible infection found to be serious or appears to be
incurable.
Provided, That the grounds mentioned in b, e and f existed either at the time of the marriage or supervening after the
marriage.
1. When the spouses have been separated in fact for at least five (5) years at the time the petition for absolute
divorce is filed, and reconciliation is highly improbable;
2. Psychological incapacity of either spouse as provided for in Article 36 of the Family Code, whether or not the
incapacity was present at the time of the celebration of the marriage or later;
3. When one of the spouses undergoes a gender reassignment surgery or transitions from one sex to another,
the other spouse is entitled to petition for absolute divorce with the transgender or transsexual as
respondent, or vice-versa;
4. Irreconcilable marital differences and conflicts which have resulted in the total breakdown of the marriage
beyond repair, despite earnest and repeated efforts at reconciliation.
To be sure, a good number of the Filipinos led by the Roman Catholic Church react adversely to any attempt to enact a law
on absolute divorce, viewing it as contrary to our customs, morals, and traditions that has looked upon marriage and family
as an institution and their nature of permanence, inviolability, and solidarity. However, none of our laws should be based on
any religious law, doctrine, or teaching; otherwise, the separation of Church and State will be violated.75
In the same breath that the establishment clause restricts what the government can do with religion, it also limits what
religious sects can or cannot do. They can neither cause the government to adopt their particular doctrines as policy for
everyone, nor can they cause the government to restrict other groups. To do so, in simple terms, would cause the State to
adhere to a particular religion and, thus, establish a state religion.76
The Roman Catholic Church can neither impose its beliefs and convictions on the State and the rest of the citizenry nor can it
demand that the nation follow its beliefs, even if it sincerely believes that they are good for the country.77 While marriage is
considered a sacrament, it has civil and legal consequences which are governed by the Family Code.78 It is in this aspect,
bereft of any ecclesiastical overtone, that the State has a legitimate right and interest to regulate.
The declared State policy that marriage, as an inviolable social institution, is the foundation of the family and shall be
protected by the State, should not be read in total isolation but must be harmonized with other constitutional provisions.
Aside from strengthening the solidarity of the Filipino family, the State is equally mandated to actively promote its total
development.79 It is also obligated to defend, among others, the right of children to special protection from all forms of
neglect, abuse, cruelty, exploitation, and other conditions prejudicial to their development.80 To Our mind, the State cannot
effectively enforce these obligations if We limit the application of Paragraph 2 of Article 26 only to those foreign divorce
initiated by the alien spouse. It is not amiss to point that the women and children are almost always the helpless victims of
all forms of domestic abuse and violence. In fact, among the notable legislation passed in order to minimize, if not eradicate,
the menace are R.A. No. 6955 (prohibiting mail order bride and similar practices), R.A. No. 9262 ("Anti-Violence Against
Women and Their Children Act of 2004"), R.A. No. 9710 ("The Magna Carta of Women"), R.A. No. 10354 ("The Responsible
Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012"), and R.A. No. 9208 ("Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003"), as
amended by R.A. No. 10364 ("Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2012"). Moreover, in protecting and strengthening
the Filipino family as a basic autonomous social institution, the Court must not lose sight of the constitutional mandate to
value the dignity of every human person, guarantee full respect for human rights, and ensure the fundamental equality
before the law of women and men.81
A prohibitive view of Paragraph 2 of Article 26 would do more harm than good. If We disallow a Filipino citizen who initiated
and obtained a foreign divorce from the coverage of Paragraph 2 of Article 26 and still require him or her to first avail of the
existing "mechanisms" under the Family Code, any subsequent relationship that he or she would enter in the meantime shall
be considered as illicit in the eyes of the Philippine law. Worse, any child born out of such "extra-marital" affair has to suffer
the stigma of being branded as illegitimate. Surely, these are just but a few of the adverse consequences, not only to the
parent but also to the child, if We are to hold a restrictive interpretation of the subject provision. The irony is that the
principle of inviolability of marriage under Section 2, Article XV of the Constitution is meant to be tilted in favor of marriage
and against unions not formalized by marriage, but without denying State protection and assistance to live-in arrangements
or to families formed according to indigenous customs.82
This Court should not turn a blind eye to the realities of the present time. With the advancement of communication and
information technology, as well as the improvement of the transportation system that almost instantly connect people from
all over the world, mixed marriages have become not too uncommon. Likewise, it is recognized that not all marriages are
made in heaven and that imperfect humans more often than not create imperfect unions.83 Living in a flawed world, the
unfortunate reality for some is that the attainment of the individual's full human potential and self-fulfillment is not found
and achieved in the context of a marriage. Thus, it is hypocritical to safeguard the quantity of existing marriages and, at the
same time, brush aside the truth that some of them are of rotten quality.
Going back, We hold that marriage, being a mutual and shared commitment between two parties, cannot possibly be
productive of any good to the society where one is considered released from the marital bond while the other remains bound
to it.84 In reiterating that the Filipino spouse should not be discriminated against in his or her own country if the ends of
justice are to be served, San Luis v. San Luis85 quoted:
x x x In Alonzo v. Intermediate Appellate Court, the Court stated:
But as has also been aptly observed, we test a law by its results; and likewise, we may add, by its purposes. It is a cardinal
rule that, in seeking the meaning of the law, the first concern of the judge should be to discover in its provisions the intent of
the lawmaker. Unquestionably, the law should never be interpreted in such a way as to cause injustice as this is never within
the legislative intent. An indispensable part of that intent, in fact, for we presume the good motives of the legislature, is
to render justice.
Thus, we interpret and apply the law not independently of but in consonance with justice. Law and justice are inseparable,
and we must keep them so. To be sure, there are some laws that, while generally valid, may seem arbitrary when applied in
a particular case because of its peculiar circumstances. In such a situation, we are not bound, because only of our nature and
functions, to apply them just the same, in slavish obedience to their language. What we do instead is find a balance between
the word and the will, that justice may be done even as the law is obeyed.
As judges, we are not automatons. We do not and must not unfeelingly apply the law as it is worded, yielding like robots to
the literal command without regard to its cause and consequence. "Courts are apt to err by sticking too closely to the words
of a law," so we are warned, by Justice Holmes again, "where these words import a policy that goes beyond them."
xxxx
More than twenty centuries ago, Justinian defined justice "as the constant and perpetual wish to render every one his due."
That wish continues to motivate this Court when it assesses the facts and the law in every case brought to it for decision.
Justice is always an essential ingredient of its decisions. Thus when the facts warrant, we interpret the law in a way that will
render justice, presuming that it was the intention of the lawmaker, to begin with, that the law be dispensed with justice.86
Indeed, where the interpretation of a statute according to its exact and literal import would lead to mischievous results or
contravene the clear purpose of the legislature, it should be construed according to its spirit and reason, disregarding as far
as necessary the letter of the law.87 A statute may, therefore, be extended to cases not within the literal meaning of its
terms, so long as they come within its spirit or intent.88
The foregoing notwithstanding, We cannot yet write finis to this controversy by granting Manalo's petition to recognize and
enforce the divorce decree rendered by the Japanese court and to cancel the entry of marriage in the Civil Registry of San
Juan, Metro Manila.
Jurisprudence has set guidelines before Philippine courts recognize a foreign judgment relating to the status of a marriage
where one of the parties is a citizen of a foreign country. Presentation solely of the divorce decree will not suffice.89 The fact
of divorce must still first be proven.90 Before a foreign divorce decree can be recognized by our courts, the party pleading it
must prove the divorce as a fact and demonstrate its conformity to the foreign law allowing it.91
x x x Before a foreign judgment is given presumptive evidentiary value, the document must first be presented and admitted
in evidence. A divorce obtained abroad is proven by the divorce decree itself. Indeed the best evidence of a judgment is the
judgment itself. The decree purports to be a written act or record of an act of an official body or tribunal of a foreign country.
Under Sections 24 and 25 of Rule 132, on the other hand, a writing or document may be proven as a public or official record
of a foreign country by either (1) an official publication or (2) a copy thereof attested by the officer having legal custody of
the document. If the record is not kept in the Philippines, such copy must be (a) accompanied by a certificate issued by the
proper diplomatic or consular officer in the Philippine foreign service stationed in the foreign country in which the record is
kept and (b) authenticated by the seal of his office.92
In granting Manalo's petition, the CA noted:
In this case, Petitioner was able to submit before the court a quo the 1) Decision of the Japanese Court allowing the divorce;
2) the Authentication/Certificate issued by the Philippine Consulate General in Osaka, Japan of the Decree of Divorce; and
3) Acceptance of Certificate of Divorce by Petitioner and the Japanese national. Under Rule 132, Sections 24 and 25, in
relation to Rule 39, Section 48 (b) of the Rules of Court, these documents sufficiently prove the subject Divorce Decree as a
fact. Thus, We are constrained to recognize the Japanese Court's judgment decreeing the divorce.93
If the opposing party fails to properly object, as in this case, the divorce decree is rendered admissible as a written act of the
foreign court.94 As it appears, the existence of the divorce decree was not denied by the OSG; neither was the jurisdiction of
the divorce court impeached nor the validity of its proceedings challenged on the ground of collusion, fraud, or clear mistake
of fact or law, albeit an opportunity to do so.95
Nonetheless, the Japanese law on divorce must still be proved.
x x x The burden of proof lies with the "party who alleges the existence of a fact or thing necessary in the prosecution or
defense of an action." In civil cases, plaintiffs have the burden of proving the material allegations of the complaint when
those are denied by the answer; and defendants have the burden of proving the material allegations in their answer when
they introduce new matters. x x x
It is well-settled in our jurisdiction that our courts cannot take judicial notice of foreign laws. Like any other facts, they must
be alleged and proved. x x x The power of judicial notice must be exercised with caution, and every reasonable doubt upon
the subject should be resolved in the negative.96
Since the divorce was raised by Manalo, the burden of proving the pertinent Japanese law validating it, as well as her former
husband's capacity to remarry, fall squarely upon her. Japanese laws on persons and family relations are not among those
matters that Filipino judges are supposed to know by reason of their judicial function.
WHEREFORE, the petition for review on certiorari is DENIED. The September 18, 2014 Decision and October 12, 2015
Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 100076, are AFFIRMED IN PART. The case is REMANDED to the
court of origin for further proceedings and reception of evidence as to the relevant Japanese law on divorce.
SO ORDERED.
REPUBLIC vs COTE, GR. No. 212860, March 14, 2018
DECISION
REYES, JR., J.:
This is a Petition for Review under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court which seeks to reverse and set aside the Decision1 dated
January 21, 2014 and Resolution2 dated June 11, 2014 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No. 122313.
The Facts

As culled from the records, the antecedent facts are as follows:

On July 31, 1995, Rhomel Gagarin Cote (Rhomel) and respondent Florie Grace Manongdo-Cote (Florie) were married in
Quezon City. At the time of their marriage, the spouses were both Filipinos and were already blessed with a son, Christian
Gabriel Manongdo who was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, United States of America (USA).3

On August 23, 2002, Rhomel filed a Petition for Divorce before the Family Court of the First Circuit of Hawaii on the ground
that their marriage was irretrievably broken. This was granted on August 23, 2002 by the issuance of a decree that states
among others:
A decree of absolute divorce is hereby granted to [Rhomel], the bonds of matrimony between [Rhomel] and [Florie] are
hereby dissolved and the parties hereto are restored to the status of single persons, and either party is permitted to marry
from and after the effective date of this decree.4
Seven years later, Florie commenced a petition for recognition of foreign judgment granting the divorce before the Regional
Trial Court (RTC). Florie also prayed for the cancellation of her marriage contract, hence, she also impleaded the Civil
Registry of Quezon City and the National Statistics Office (NSO). The Office of the Solicitor General, representing Republic of
the Philippines (petitioner), deputized the Office of the City Prosecutor to appear on behalf of the State during the trial.5

On April 7, 2011, the RTC granted the petition and declared Florie to be capacitated to remarry after the RTC's decision
attained finality and a decree of absolute nullity has been issued. The RTC ruled, inter alia, that Rhomel was already an
American citizen when he obtained the divorce decree,6viz.:
[Florie] has sufficiently established that she is a Filipino citizen and married to an American citizen. Her husband obtained a
Divorce Decree on 22 August 2002 and was authenticated and registered by the Consulate General to the Philippines in
Honolulu, Hawaii, U.S.A. [Florie] being a Filipino citizen and is governed by Philippine laws, she is placed in an absurd, if not
awkward situation where she is married to somebody who is no longer married to her. This is precisely the circumstances
contemplated under Article 26, paragraph 2 of the Family Code which provides a remedy for Filipino spouses like [Florie].

Under the above-cited provision, [Florie] is allowed to contract a subsequent marriage since the divorce had been validly
obtained abroad by her American husband, capacitating her to remarry. In this line, the court holds that this petition be, as it
is, hereby GRANTED.

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, judgment is hereby rendered declaring [Florie] capacitated to remarry pursuant to
Article 26 paragraph 2 of the Family Code, in view of the Divorce Decree which had been validly obtained abroad by her
American spouse, dissolving their marriage solemnized on 31 July 1995 in Quezon City, Philippines.7
Petitioner filed a Notice of Appeal on May 17, 2011. However, the RTC, believing that the petition was covered by A.M. No.
02-11-10-SC or the Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages and Annulment of Voidable Marriages, applied
Section 20 of said Rule and denied the appeal because the notice was not preceded by a motion for reconsideration.8

Petitioner then filed a petition for certiorari with the CA claiming that the RTC committed grave abuse of discretion.
In a Decision9 dated January 21, 2014, the CA denied the petition. The pertinent portions read as follows:
The fact that even the Solicitor General and private respondent were confused as to the true nature of the petition and the
procedure that must be followed only shows that We cannot attribute a whimsical and capricious exercise of judgment to the
RTC.

xxxx

Besides, petitioner's omission, by itself, is a ground for dismissing the petition. The last paragraph of Section 3, Rule 46 of
the Rules of Court allows the dismissal of a petition for certiorari if the material parts of the records were not attached to the
petition. "Certiorari, being an extraordinary remedy, the party seeking it must strictly observe the requirements for its
issuance." Although it has been ruled that the better policy is for petitioner to be accorded, in the interest of substantial
justice, "a chance to submit the same instead of dismissing the petition" We cannot allow petitioner to benefit from this rule
because the need to submit the transcript of stenographic notes and all other pieces of evidence is quite obvious for
petitioner which is questioning the sufficiency of the evidence presented. Hence, it would be bending the rules too far if We
still allow petitioner to be excused from this lapse.10
Hence, this present petition.
The Issues
I. THE CA ERRED IN FINDING THAT THE TRIAL COURT JUDGE DID NOT COMMIT GRAVE ABUSE OF
DISCRETION IN APPLYING THE PROCEDURAL RULES FOR NULLITY OF MARRIAGE PROCEEDINGS UNDER
A.M. NO. 02-11-10-SC IN A PROCEEDING FOR RECOGNITION OF FOREIGN DECREE OF DIVORCE;
II. THE CA GRAVELY ERRED IN RULING THAT THE STATE HAS NO PERSONALITY TO INTERVENE IN
PROCEEDINGS FOR RECOGNITION OF FOREIGN DECREE OF DIVORCE;
III. THE CA ERRED IN FINDING THAT THE FAILURE OF THE PETITIONER TO APPEND COPIES OF THE
TRANSCRIPT OF STENOGRAPHIC NOTES OF FLORIE'S DIRECT EXAMINATION AND HER JUDICIAL AFFIDAVIT
IS FATAL, NOTWITHSTANDING THAT THE VERY SAME DOCUMENTS WERE INCORPORATED AND QUOTED BY
FLORIE IN HER COMMENT; and

IV. THE CA ERRED IN AFFIRMING THE TRIAL COURT'S DECISION DATED APRIL 7, 2011 GRANTING FLORIE'S
PETITION FOR RECOGNITION OF FOREIGN DECREE OF DIVORCE DESPITE LACK OF SHOWING THAT HER
FORMER FILIPINO HUSBAND WAS ALREADY AN AMERICAN CITIZEN AT THE TIME HE PROCURED THE
DECREE OF DIVORCE.11
Ruling of the Court

The core issue for the Court's resolution is whether or not the provisions of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC12applies in a case involving
recognition of a foreign decree of divorce.

It bears stressing that as of present, our family laws do not recognize absolute divorce between Filipino husbands and wives.
Such fact, however, do not prevent our family courts from recognizing divorce decrees procured abroad by an alien spouse
who is married to a Filipino citizen.

Article 26 of the Family Code states:


Art. 26. All marriages solemnized outside the Philippines, in accordance with the laws in force in the country where they were
solemnized, and valid there as such, shall also be valid in this country, except those prohibited under Articles 35(1), (4), (5)
and (6), 36, 37 and 38.
Where a marriage between a Filipino citizen and a foreigner is validly celebrated and a divorce is thereafter
validly obtained abroad by the alien spouse capacitating him or her to remarry, the Filipino spouse shall likewise
have capacity to remarry under Philippine law.
The wordings of the second paragraph of Article 26 initially spawned confusion as to whether or not it covers even those
marriages wherein both of the spouses were Filipinos at the time of marriage and then one of them eventually becomes a
naturalized citizen of another country.

In the landmark case of Republic v. Orbecido III,13 the Court ruled that the reckoning point is not the citizenship of the
parties at the time of the celebration of the marriage, but their citizenship at the time a valid divorce is obtained abroad by
the alien spouse capacitating the latter to remarry.14

Although the Court has already laid down the rule regarding foreign divorce involving Filipino citizens, the Filipino spouse who
likewise benefits from the effects of the divorce cannot automatically remarry. Before the divorced Filipino spouse can
remarry, he or she must file a petition for judicial recognition of the foreign divorce.

The starting point in any recognition of a foreign divorce judgment is the acknowledgment that our courts do not take judicial
notice of foreign 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 tribunal of another country." This means that the foreign judgment and its
authenticity must be proven as facts under our rules on evidence, together with the alien's applicable national law to show
the effect of the judgment on the alien himself or herself. The recognition may be made in an action instituted specifically for
the purpose or in another action where a party invokes the foreign decree as an integral aspect of his claim or defense.15

To clarify, respondent filed with the RTC a petition to recognize the foreign divorce decree procured by her naturalized
(originally Filipino) husband in Hawaii, USA. By impleading the Civil Registry of Quezon City and the NSO, the end sought to
be achieved was the cancellation and or correction of entries involving her marriage status.

In Corpuz v. Sto. Tomas, et al.,16 the Court briefly explained the nature of recognition proceedings vis-a-vis cancellation of
entries under Rule 108 of the Rules of Court, viz.:
Article 412 of the Civil Code declares that no entry in a civil register shall be changed or corrected, without judicial order. The
Rules of Court supplements Article 412 of the Civil Code by specifically providing for a special remedial proceeding by which
entries in the civil registry may be 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
correction, may be annotated in the civil registry. It also requires, among others, that the verified petition must be filed with
the RTC of the province where the corresponding civil registry is located; that the civil registrar and all persons who have or
claim any interest must be made parties to the proceedings; and that the time and place for hearing must be published in a
newspaper of general circulation. x x x.

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 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.17
The RTC, in its Decision18 dated January 21, 2014 ruled that Florie had sufficiently established that she is married to an
American citizen and having proven compliance with the legal requirements, is declared capacitated to remarry.
The confusion arose when the RTC denied petitioner's appeal on the ground that no prior motion for reconsideration was filed
as required under Section 20 of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC. Petitioner posits that A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC do not cover cases
involving recognition of foreign divorce because the wording of Section 1 thereof clearly states that it shall only apply to
petitions for declaration of absolute nullity of void marriages and annulment of voidable marriages, viz.:
Section 1. Scope - This Rule shall govern petitions for declaration of absolute nullity of void marriages and annulment of
voidable marriages under the Family Code of the Philippines. [Underscoring Ours]
Rule 41 of the Rules of Court applies; Motion for Reconsideration not a condition precedent to the filing of an
appeal

The CA is correct when it ruled that the trial court misapplied Section 20 of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC.

A decree of absolute divorce procured abroad is different from annulment as defined by our family laws. A.M. No. 02-11-10-
SC only covers void19and voidable20marriages that are specifically cited and enumerated in the Family Code of the
Philippines. Void and voidable mmTiages contemplate a situation wherein the basis for the judicial declaration of absolute
nullity or annulment of the marriage exists before or at the time of the marriage. It treats the marriage as if it never existed.
Divorce, on the other hand, ends a legally valid marriage and is usually due to circumstances arising after the marriage.

It was error for the RTC to use as basis for denial of petitioner's appeal Section 20 of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC. Since Florie
followed the procedure for cancellation of entry in the civil registry, a special proceeding governed by Rule 108 of the Rules
of Court, an appeal from the RTC decision should be governed by Section 321 of Rule 41 of the Rules of Court and not A.M.
No. 02-11-10-SC.

As culled from the records, petitioner received a copy of the RTC Decision on May 5, 2011. It filed a Notice of Appeal22 on
May 17, 2011, thus complying with the 15-day reglementary period for filing an appeal.

An appeal is a statutory right that must be exercised only in the manner and in accordance with the provisions of law. Having
satisfactorily shown that they have complied with the rules on appeal, petitioners are entitled to the proper and just
disposition of their cause.23

This now brings the Court to the issue whether or not the RTC's denial of petitioner's appeal is tantamount to grave abuse of
discretion. The Court rules in the negative.

No grave abuse of discretion

Although the Court agrees with petitioner that the RTC erroneously misapplied A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC, such error does not
automatically equate to grave abuse of discretion. The Court has ruled time and again that not all errors attributed to a lower
court or tribunal fall under the scope of a Rule 65 petition for certiorari.

Jurisprudence has defined grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction in this wise:
Grave abuse of discretion is defined as capricious or whimsical exercise of judgment as is equivalent to lack of jurisdiction.
The abuse of discretion must be patent and gross as to amount to an evasion of a positive duty or a virtual refusal to
perform a duty enjoined by law, or to act at all in contemplation of law, as where the power is exercised in an arbitrary and
despotic manner by reason of passion and hostility.24
After a careful consideration of the evidence presented and Florie having sufficiently complied with the jurisdictional
requirements, judgment was rendered by the lower court recognizing the decree of foreign divorce. It likewise declared Florie
legally capacitated to remarry citing the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code. Thus, the CA is correct in denying
the Rule 65 petition for certiorari, notwithstanding the RTC's dismissal of petitioner's appeaL The dismissal, albeit erroneous,
is not tainted with grave abuse of discretion.

The Court finds no indication from the records that the RTC acted arbitrarily, capriciously and whimsically in arriving at its
decision. A petition for certiorari will prosper only if grave abuse of discretion is alleged and proved to exist. The burden is on
the part of the petitioner to prove not merely reversible error on the part of private respondent, but grave abuse of discretion
amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is hereby DENIED. The Decision dated January 21, 2014 and Resolution
dated June 11, 2014 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 122313 are hereby AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED.
Defective Marriages – Article 35-42, 44
CARINO vs CARINO, G.R. No. 132529, February 2. 2001

DECISION

YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:

The issue for resolution in the case at bar hinges on the validity of the two marriages contracted by the deceased SPO4
Santiago S. Cario, whose death benefits is now the subject of the controversy between the two Susans whom he married.
Before this Court is a petition for review on certiorari seeking to set aside the decision[1] of the Court of Appeals in CA-
G.R. CV No. 51263, which affirmed in toto the decision[2] of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 87, in Civil Case
No. Q-93-18632.
During the lifetime of the late SPO4 Santiago S. Cario, he contracted two marriages, the first was on June 20, 1969,
with petitioner Susan Nicdao Cario (hereafter referred to as Susan Nicdao), with whom he had two offsprings, namely,
Sahlee and Sandee Cario; and the second was on November 10, 1992, with respondent Susan Yee Cario (hereafter referred
to as Susan Yee), with whom he had no children in their almost ten year cohabitation starting way back in 1982.
In 1988, SPO4 Santiago S. Cario became ill and bedridden due to diabetes complicated by pulmonary tuberculosis. He
passed away on November 23, 1992, under the care of Susan Yee, who spent for his medical and burial expenses. Both
petitioner and respondent filed claims for monetary benefits and financial assistance pertaining to the deceased from various
government agencies. Petitioner Susan Nicdao was able to collect a total of P146,000.00 from MBAI, PCCUI, Commutation,
NAPOLCOM, [and] Pag-ibig,[3] while respondent Susan Yee received a total of P21,000.00 from GSIS Life, Burial (GSIS) and
burial (SSS).[4]
On December 14, 1993, respondent Susan Yee filed the instant case for collection of sum of money against petitioner
Susan Nicdao praying, inter alia, that petitioner be ordered to return to her at least one-half of the one hundred forty-six
thousand pesos (P146,000.00) collectively denominated as death benefits which she (petitioner) received from MBAI, PCCUI,
Commutation, NAPOLCOM, [and] Pag-ibig. Despite service of summons, petitioner failed to file her answer, prompting the
trial court to declare her in default.
Respondent Susan Yee admitted that her marriage to the deceased took place during the subsistence of, and without
first obtaining a judicial declaration of nullity of, the marriage between petitioner and the deceased. She, however, claimed
that she had no knowledge of the previous marriage and that she became aware of it only at the funeral of the deceased,
where she met petitioner who introduced herself as the wife of the deceased. To bolster her action for collection of sum of
money, respondent contended that the marriage of petitioner and the deceased is void ab initio because the same was
solemnized without the required marriage license. In support thereof, respondent presented: 1) the marriage certificate of
the deceased and the petitioner which bears no marriage license number;[5] and 2) a certification dated March 9, 1994, from
the Local Civil Registrar of San Juan, Metro Manila, which reads

This is to certify that this Office has no record of marriage license of the spouses SANTIAGO CARINO (sic) and SUSAN
NICDAO, who are married in this municipality on June 20, 1969. Hence, we cannot issue as requested a true copy or
transcription of Marriage License number from the records of this archives.
This certification is issued upon the request of Mrs. Susan Yee Cario for whatever legal purpose it may serve.[6]

On August 28, 1995, the trial court ruled in favor of respondent, Susan Yee, holding as follows:

WHEREFORE, the defendant is hereby ordered to pay the plaintiff the sum of P73,000.00, half of the amount which was paid
to her in the form of death benefits arising from the death of SPO4 Santiago S. Cario, plus attorneys fees in the amount
of P5,000.00, and costs of suit.
IT IS SO ORDERED.[7]
On appeal by petitioner to the Court of Appeals, the latter affirmed in toto the decision of the trial court. Hence, the
instant petition, contending that:

I.

THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN AFFIRMING THE FINDINGS OF THE LOWER COURT THAT
VDA. DE CONSUEGRA VS. GSIS IS APPLICABLE TO THE CASE AT BAR.

II.

THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN APPLYING EQUITY IN THE INSTANT CASE INSTEAD OF THE
CLEAR AND UNEQUIVOCAL MANDATE OF THE FAMILY CODE.

III.

THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN NOT FINDING THE CASE OF VDA. DE CONSUEGRA VS GSIS
TO HAVE BEEN MODIFIED, AMENDED AND EVEN ABANDONED BY THE ENACTMENT OF THE FAMILY CODE. [8]

Under Article 40 of the Family Code, the absolute nullity of a previous marriage may be invoked for purposes of
remarriage on the basis solely of a final judgment declaring such previous marriage void. Meaning, where the absolute nullity
of a previous marriage is sought to be invoked for purposes of contracting a second marriage, the sole basis acceptable in
law, for said projected marriage to be free from legal infirmity, is a final judgment declaring the previous marriage
void.[9] However, for purposes other than remarriage, no judicial action is necessary to declare a marriage an absolute
nullity. For other purposes, such as but not limited to the determination of heirship, legitimacy or illegitimacy of a child,
settlement of estate, dissolution of property regime, or a criminal case for that matter, the court may pass upon the validity
of marriage even after the death of the parties thereto, and even in a suit not directly instituted to question the validity of
said marriage, so long as it is essential to the determination of the case.[10] In such instances, evidence must be adduced,
testimonial or documentary, to prove the existence of grounds rendering such a previous marriage an absolute nullity. These
need not be limited solely to an earlier final judgment of a court declaring such previous marriage void.[11]
It is clear therefore that the Court is clothed with sufficient authority to pass upon the validity of the two marriages in
this case, as the same is essential to the determination of who is rightfully entitled to the subject death benefits of the
deceased.
Under the Civil Code, which was the law in force when the marriage of petitioner Susan Nicdao and the deceased was
solemnized in 1969, a valid marriage license is a requisite of marriage,[12] and the absence thereof, subject to certain
exceptions,[13] renders the marriage void ab initio.[14]
In the case at bar, there is no question that the marriage of petitioner and the deceased does not fall within the
marriages exempt from the license requirement. A marriage license, therefore, was indispensable to the validity of their
marriage. This notwithstanding, the records reveal that the marriage contract of petitioner and the deceased bears no
marriage license number and, as certified by the Local Civil Registrar of San Juan, Metro Manila, their office has no record of
such marriage license. In Republic v. Court of Appeals,[15] the Court held that such a certification is adequate to prove the
non-issuance of a marriage license. Absent any circumstance of suspicion, as in the present case, the certification issued by
the local civil registrar enjoys probative value, he being the officer charged under the law to keep a record of all data relative
to the issuance of a marriage license.
Such being the case, the presumed validity of the marriage of petitioner and the deceased has been sufficiently
overcome. It then became the burden of petitioner to prove that their marriage is valid and that they secured the required
marriage license. Although she was declared in default before the trial court, petitioner could have squarely met the issue
and explained the absence of a marriage license in her pleadings before the Court of Appeals and this Court. But petitioner
conveniently avoided the issue and chose to refrain from pursuing an argument that will put her case in jeopardy. Hence, the
presumed validity of their marriage cannot stand.
It is beyond cavil, therefore, that the marriage between petitioner Susan Nicdao and the deceased, having been
solemnized without the necessary marriage license, and not being one of the marriages exempt from the marriage license
requirement, is undoubtedly void abinitio.
It does not follow from the foregoing disquisition, however, that since the marriage of petitioner and the deceased is
declared void ab initio, the death benefits under scrutiny would now be awarded to respondent Susan Yee. To reiterate,
under Article 40 of the Family Code, for purposes of remarriage, there must first be a prior judicial declaration of the nullity
of a previous marriage, though void, before a party can enter into a second marriage, otherwise, the second marriage would
also be void.
Accordingly, the declaration in the instant case of nullity of the previous marriage of the deceased and petitioner Susan
Nicdao does not validate the second marriage of the deceased with respondent Susan Yee. The fact remains that their
marriage was solemnized without first obtaining a judicial decree declaring the marriage of petitioner Susan Nicdao and the
deceased void. Hence, the marriage of respondent Susan Yee and the deceased is, likewise, void ab initio.
One of the effects of the declaration of nullity of marriage is the separation of the property of the spouses according to
the applicable property regime.[16] Considering that the two marriages are void ab initio, the applicable property regime
would not be absolute community or conjugal partnership of property, but rather, be governed by the provisions of Articles
147 and 148 of the Family Code on Property Regime of Unions Without Marriage.
Under Article 148 of the Family Code, which refers to the property regime of bigamous marriages, adulterous
relationships, relationships in a state of concubine, relationships where both man and woman are married to other persons,
multiple alliances of the same married man,[17] -

... [O]nly the properties acquired by both of the parties through their actual joint contribution of money, property, or
industry shall be owned by them in common in proportion to their respective contributions ...

In this property regime, the properties acquired by the parties through their actual joint contribution shall belong to the
co-ownership. Wages and salaries earned by each party belong to him or her exclusively. Then too, contributions in the form
of care of the home, children and household, or spiritual or moral inspiration, are excluded in this regime.[18]
Considering that the marriage of respondent Susan Yee and the deceased is a bigamous marriage, having been
solemnized during the subsistence of a previous marriage then presumed to be valid (between petitioner and the deceased),
the application of Article 148 is therefore in order.
The disputed P146,000.00 from MBAI [AFP Mutual Benefit Association, Inc.], NAPOLCOM, Commutation, Pag-ibig, and
PCCUI, are clearly renumerations, incentives and benefits from governmental agencies earned by the deceased as a police
officer. Unless respondent Susan Yee presents proof to the contrary, it could not be said that she contributed money,
property or industry in the acquisition of these monetary benefits. Hence, they are not owned in common by respondent and
the deceased, but belong to the deceased alone and respondent has no right whatsoever to claim the same. By intestate
succession, the said death benefits of the deceased shall pass to his legal heirs. And, respondent, not being the legal wife of
the deceased is not one of them.
As to the property regime of petitioner Susan Nicdao and the deceased, Article 147 of the Family Code governs. This
article applies to unions of parties who are legally capacitated and not barred by any impediment to contract marriage, but
whose marriage is nonetheless void for other reasons, like the absence of a marriage license. Article 147 of the Family Code
reads -

Art. 147. When a man and a woman who are capacitated to marry each other, live exclusively with each other as husband
and wife without the benefit of marriage or under a void marriage, their wages and salaries shall be owned by them in equal
shares and the property acquired by both of them through their work or industry shall be governed by the rules on co-
ownership.
In the absence of proof to the contrary, properties acquired while they lived together shall be presumed to have been
obtained by their joint efforts, work or industry, and shall be owned by them in equal shares. For purposes of this Article, a
party who did not participate in the acquisition by the other party of any property shall be deemed to have contributed jointly
in the acquisition thereof if the formers efforts consisted in the care and maintenance of the family and of the household.

xxxxxxxxx

When only one of the parties to a void marriage is in good faith, the share of the party in bad faith in the co-ownership shall
be forfeited in favor of their common children. In case of default of or waiver by any or all of the common children or their
descendants, each vacant share shall belong to the respective surviving descendants. In the absence of descendants, such
share shall belong to the innocent party. In all cases, the forfeiture shall take place upon termination of the cohabitation.

In contrast to Article 148, under the foregoing article, wages and salaries earned by either party during the cohabitation
shall be owned by the parties in equal shares and will be divided equally between them, even if only one party earned the
wages and the other did not contribute thereto.[19] Conformably, even if the disputed death benefits were earned by the
deceased alone as a government employee, Article 147 creates a co-ownership in respect thereto, entitling the petitioner to
share one-half thereof. As there is no allegation of bad faith in the present case, both parties of the first marriage are
presumed to be in good faith. Thus, one-half of the subject death benefits under scrutiny shall go to the petitioner as her
share in the property regime, and the other half pertaining to the deceased shall pass by, intestate succession, to his legal
heirs, namely, his children with Susan Nicdao.
In affirming the decision of the trial court, the Court of Appeals relied on the case of Vda. de Consuegra v. Government
Service Insurance System,[20] where the Court awarded one-half of the retirement benefits of the deceased to the first wife
and the other half, to the second wife, holding that:

... [S]ince the defendants first marriage has not been dissolved or declared void the conjugal partnership established by that
marriage has not ceased. Nor has the first wife lost or relinquished her status as putative heir of her husband under the new
Civil Code, entitled to share in his estate upon his death should she survive him. Consequently, whether as conjugal partner
in a still subsisting marriage or as such putative heir she has an interest in the husbands share in the property here in
dispute.... And with respect to the right of the second wife, this Court observed that although the second marriage can be
presumed to be void ab initio as it was celebrated while the first marriage was still subsisting, still there is need for judicial
declaration of such nullity. And inasmuch as the conjugal partnership formed by the second marriage was dissolved before
judicial declaration of its nullity, [t]he only just and equitable solution in this case would be to recognize the right of the
second wife to her share of one-half in the property acquired by her and her husband, and consider the other half as
pertaining to the conjugal partnership of the first marriage.[21]

It should be stressed, however, that the aforecited decision is premised on the rule which requires a prior and separate
judicial declaration of nullity of marriage. This is the reason why in the said case, the Court determined the rights of the
parties in accordance with their existing property regime.
In Domingo v. Court of Appeals,[22] however, the Court, construing Article 40 of the Family Code, clarified that a prior
and separate declaration of nullity of a marriage is an all important condition precedent only for purposes of remarriage. That
is, if a party who is previously married wishes to contract a second marriage, he or she has to obtain first a judicial decree
declaring the first marriage void, before he or she could contract said second marriage, otherwise the second marriage would
be void. The same rule applies even if the first marriage is patently void because the parties are not free to determine for
themselves the validity or invalidity or their marriage. However, for purposes other than to remarry, like for filing a case for
collection of sum of money anchored on a marriage claimed to be valid, no prior and separate judicial declaration of nullity is
necessary. All that a party has to do is to present evidence, testimonial or documentary, that would prove that the marriage
from which his or her rights flow is in fact valid. Thereupon, the court, if material to the determination of the issues before it,
will rule on the status of the marriage involved and proceed to determine the rights of the parties in accordance with the
applicable laws and jurisprudence. Thus, in Nial v. Bayadog,[23] the Court explained:

[T]he court may pass upon the validity of marriage even in a suit not directly instituted to question the same so long as it is
essential to the determination of the case. This is without prejudice to any issue that may arise in the case. When such need
arises, a final judgment of declaration of nullity is necessary even if the purpose is other than to remarry. The clause on the
basis of a final judgment declaring such previous marriage void in Article 40 of the Family Code connoted that such final
judgment need not be obtained only for purpose of remarriage.

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED, and the decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 51263 which
affirmed the decision of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City ordering petitioner to pay respondent the sum of P73,000.00
plus attorneys fees in the amount of P5,000.00, is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The complaint in Civil Case No. Q-93-18632, is
hereby DISMISSED. No pronouncement as to costs.

SO ORDERED.
MORIGO vs PEOPLE, GR. No. 145226, February 06, 2004

DECISION

QUISUMBING, J.:

This petition for review on certiorari seeks to reverse the decision[1] dated October 21, 1999 of the Court of Appeals in
CA-G.R. CR No. 20700, which affirmed the judgment[2] dated August 5, 1996 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Bohol,
Branch 4, in Criminal Case No. 8688. The trial court found herein petitioner Lucio Morigo y Cacho guilty beyond reasonable
doubt of bigamy and sentenced him to a prison term of seven (7) months of prision correccional as minimum to six (6) years
and one (1) day of prision mayor as maximum. Also assailed in this petition is the resolution[3] of the appellate court, dated
September 25, 2000, denying Morigos motion for reconsideration.
The facts of this case, as found by the court a quo, are as follows:

Appellant Lucio Morigo and Lucia Barrete were boardmates at the house of Catalina Tortor at Tagbilaran City, Province of
Bohol, for a period of four (4) years (from 1974-1978).
After school year 1977-78, Lucio Morigo and Lucia Barrete lost contact with each other.
In 1984, Lucio Morigo was surprised to receive a card from Lucia Barrete from Singapore. The former replied and after an
exchange of letters, they became sweethearts.
In 1986, Lucia returned to the Philippines but left again for Canada to work there. While in Canada, they maintained constant
communication.
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 married on August 30, 1990 at the Iglesia de Filipina Nacional at Catagdaan, Pilar, Bohol.
On September 8, 1990, Lucia reported back to her work in Canada leaving appellant Lucio behind.
On August 19, 1991, Lucia filed with the Ontario Court (General Division) a petition for divorce against appellant which was
granted by the court on January 17, 1992 and to take effect on February 17, 1992.
On October 4, 1992, appellant Lucio Morigo married Maria Jececha Lumbago[4] at the Virgen sa Barangay Parish, Tagbilaran
City, Bohol.
On September 21, 1993, accused filed a complaint for judicial declaration of nullity of marriage in the Regional Trial Court of
Bohol, docketed as Civil Case No. 6020. The complaint seek (sic) among others, the declaration of nullity of accuseds
marriage with Lucia, on the ground that no marriage ceremony actually took place.
On October 19, 1993, appellant was charged with Bigamy in an Information[5] filed by the City Prosecutor of Tagbilaran
[City], with the Regional Trial Court of Bohol.[6]

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 prejudicial question in the bigamy case. His motion was granted, but subsequently denied upon
motion for reconsideration by the prosecution. When arraigned in the bigamy case, which was docketed as Criminal Case No.
8688, herein petitioner pleaded not guilty to the charge. Trial thereafter ensued.
On August 5, 1996, the RTC of Bohol handed down its judgment in Criminal Case No. 8688, as follows:

WHEREFORE, foregoing premises considered, the Court finds accused Lucio Morigo y Cacho guilty beyond reasonable doubt
of the crime of Bigamy and sentences him to suffer the penalty of imprisonment ranging from Seven (7) Months of Prision
Correccional as minimum to Six (6) Years and One (1) Day of Prision Mayor as maximum.
SO ORDERED.[7]

In convicting herein petitioner, the trial court discounted petitioners claim that his first marriage to Lucia was null and
void ab initio. Following 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 marriage should not be allowed to assume that their marriage is void even if
such be the fact but must first secure a judicial declaration of the nullity of their marriage before they can be allowed to
marry again.
Anent the Canadian divorce obtained by Lucia, the trial court cited Ramirez 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 for the purpose of
obtaining a divorce, has no jurisdiction to determine the matrimonial status of the parties. As such, a divorce granted by said
court is not entitled to recognition anywhere. Debunking Lucios defense of good faith in contracting the second marriage, the
trial court stressed that following People v. Bitdu,[10] everyone is presumed to know the law, and the fact that one does not
know that his act constitutes a violation of the law does not exempt him from the consequences thereof.
Seasonably, petitioner filed an appeal with the Court of Appeals, docketed as CA-G.R. CR No. 20700.
Meanwhile, on October 23, 1997, or while CA-G.R. CR No. 20700 was pending before the appellate court, the trial court
rendered a decision in 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 from this decision, which then became final and executory.
On October 21, 1999, the appellate court decided CA-G.R. CR No. 20700 as follows:

WHEREFORE, finding no error in the appealed decision, the same is hereby AFFIRMED in toto.
SO ORDERED.[11]

In affirming the assailed judgment of conviction, the appellate court stressed that the subsequent declaration of nullity
of Lucios marriage to Lucia in Civil Case No. 6020 could not acquit Lucio. The reason is that what is sought to be punished by
Article 349[12] of the Revised Penal Code is the act of contracting a second marriage before the first marriage had been
dissolved. Hence, the CA held, the fact that the first marriage was void from the beginning is not a valid defense in a bigamy
case.
The Court of Appeals also pointed out that the divorce decree obtained by Lucia from the Canadian court could not be
accorded validity in the Philippines, pursuant to Article 15[13] of the Civil Code and given the fact that it is contrary to public
policy in this jurisdiction. Under Article 17[14] of the Civil Code, a declaration of public policy cannot be rendered ineffectual by
a judgment promulgated in a foreign jurisdiction.
Petitioner moved for reconsideration of the appellate courts decision, contending that the doctrine in Mendiola v.
People,[15] allows mistake upon a difficult question of law (such as the effect of a foreign divorce decree) to be a basis for
good faith.
On September 25, 2000, the appellate court denied the motion for lack of merit.[16] However, the denial was by a split
vote. The ponente of the appellate courts original decision in CA-G.R. CR No. 20700, Justice Eugenio S. Labitoria, joined in
the opinion prepared by Justice Bernardo P. Abesamis. The dissent observed that as the first marriage was validly 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 herein petitioner was, in the eyes of the law, never married, he cannot be convicted beyond reasonable
doubt of bigamy.
The present petition raises the following issues for our resolution:

A.

WHETHER OR NOT THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN FAILING TO APPLY THE RULE THAT IN CRIMES PENALIZED UNDER THE
REVISED PENAL CODE, CRIMINAL INTENT IS AN INDISPENSABLE REQUISITE. COROLLARILY, WHETHER OR NOT THE COURT
OF APPEALS ERRED IN FAILING TO APPRECIATE [THE] PETITIONERS LACK OF CRIMINAL INTENT WHEN HE CONTRACTED
THE SECOND MARRIAGE.
B.

WHETHER OR NOT THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN HOLDING THAT THE RULING IN PEOPLE VS. BITDU (58 PHIL. 817) IS
APPLICABLE TO THE CASE AT BAR.

C.

WHETHER OR NOT THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN FAILING TO APPLY THE RULE THAT EACH AND EVERY CIRCUMSTANCE
FAVORING THE INNOCENCE OF THE ACCUSED MUST BE TAKEN INTO ACCOUNT. [17]

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.
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 that he contracted the second marriage openly and publicly, which a person intent upon bigamy
would not be doing. The petitioner further 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 under the Revised Penal Code, is mala in se, and hence,
good faith and lack of criminal intent are allowed as a complete defense. He stresses that there is a difference between the
intent to commit the crime and the intent to perpetrate the act. Hence, it does not necessarily follow that his intention to
contract a second marriage is tantamount to an intent to commit bigamy.
For the respondent, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) submits that good faith in the instant case is a convenient
but flimsy excuse. The Solicitor General relies upon our ruling in Marbella-Bobis v. Bobis,[18] which held that bigamy can be
successfully prosecuted provided all the elements concur, stressing that under Article 40[19] of the Family Code, a judicial
declaration of nullity is a must before a party may re-marry. Whether or not the petitioner was aware of said Article 40 is of
no account as everyone is presumed to know the law. The OSG counters that petitioners contention that he was in good faith
because he relied on the divorce decree of the Ontario court is negated by his act of filing Civil Case No. 6020, seeking a
judicial declaration of nullity of his marriage to Lucia.
Before we delve into petitioners defense of good faith and lack of criminal intent, we must first determine whether all
the elements of bigamy are present in this case. In Marbella-Bobis v. Bobis,[20] we laid down the elements of bigamy thus:
(1) the offender has been legally married;
(2) the first marriage has not been legally dissolved, or in case his or her spouse is absent, the absent spouse has not
been judicially declared presumptively dead;
(3) he contracts a subsequent marriage; and
(4) the subsequent marriage would have been valid had it not been for the existence of the first.
Applying the foregoing test to the instant case, we note that during the pendency of CA-G.R. CR No. 20700, the RTC of
Bohol Branch 1, handed down the following decision in Civil Case No. 6020, to wit:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered decreeing the annulment of the marriage entered into by
petitioner Lucio Morigo and Lucia Barrete on August 23, 1990 in Pilar, Bohol and further directing the Local Civil Registrar of
Pilar, Bohol to effect the cancellation of the marriage contract.
SO ORDERED.[21]

The trial court found that there was no actual marriage ceremony performed between Lucio and Lucia by a solemnizing
officer. Instead, what transpired was a mere signing of the marriage contract by the two, without the presence of a
solemnizing officer. The trial court thus held that the marriage is void ab initio, in accordance with Articles 3[22] and 4[23] of
the Family Code. As the dissenting opinion in CA-G.R. CR No. 20700, correctly puts it, This simply means that there was no
marriage to begin with; and that such declaration of nullity retroacts to the date of the first marriage. In other words, for all
intents and purposes, reckoned from the date of the declaration of the first marriage as void ab initio to the date of the
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 the decision of the trial court in Civil Case No. 6020, hence, the decision had long become final and
executory.
The first element of bigamy as a crime requires that the accused must have been legally married. But in this case,
legally speaking, the petitioner was never married to Lucia Barrete. Thus, there is no first marriage to speak of. Under the
principle of retroactivity of a marriage being declared void ab initio, the two were never married from the beginning. The
contract of 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 time he contracted the marriage with Maria Jececha. The existence and the validity
of the first marriage being an essential element of the crime of bigamy, it is but logical that a conviction for said offense
cannot be sustained where there is no first marriage to speak of. The petitioner, must, perforce be acquitted of the instant
charge.
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 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 favor of the presumption of innocence to ensure that justice is done. Under the circumstances of
the present case, we held that petitioner has not committed bigamy. Further, we also find that we need not tarry on the
issue of the validity of his defense of good faith or lack of criminal intent, which is now moot and academic.
WHEREFORE, the instant petition is GRANTED. The assailed decision, dated October 21, 1999 of the Court of Appeals
in CA-G.R. CR No. 20700, as well as the resolution of the appellate court dated September 25, 2000, denying herein
petitioners motion for reconsideration, is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The petitioner Lucio Morigo y Cacho is ACQUITTED from
the charge of BIGAMY on the ground that his guilt has not been proven with moral certainty.

SO ORDERED.
REPUBLIC vs NOALSCO, GR. No. 94053, March 17, 1993
FELICIANO, J.:
On 5 August 1988, respondent Gregorio Nolasco filed before the Regional Trial Court of Antique, Branch 10, a petition for the
declaration of presumptive death of his wife Janet Monica Parker, invoking Article 41 of the Family Code. The petition prayed
that respondent's wife be declared presumptively dead or, in the alternative, that the marriage be declared null and void.[1]

The Republic of the Philippines opposed the petition through the Provincial Prosecutor of Antique who had been deputized to
assist the Solicitor-General in the instant case. The Republic argued, first, that Nolasco did not possess a "well-founded belief
that the absent spouse was already dead;"[2] and second, Nolasco's attempt to have his marriage annulled in the same
proceeding was a "cunning attempt" to circumvent the law on marriage.[3]

During trial, respondent Nolasco testified that he was a seaman and that he had first met Janet Monica Parker, a British
subject, in a bar in England during one of his ship's port calls. From that chance meeting onwards, Janet Monica Parker lived
with respondent Nolasco on his ship for six (6) months until they returned to respondent's hometown of San Jose, Antique on
19 November 1980 after his seaman's contract expired. On 15 January 1982, respondent married Janet Monica Parker in San
Jose, Antique, in Catholic rites officiated by Fr. Henry van Tilborg in the Cathedral of San Jose.

Respondent Nolasco further testified that after the marriage celebration, he obtained another employment contract as a
seaman and left his wife with his parents in San Jose, Antique. Sometime in January 1983, while working overseas,
respondent received a letter from his mother informing him that Janet Monica had given birth to his son. The same letter
informed him that Janet Monica had left Antique. Respondent claimed he then immediately asked permission to leave his ship
to return home. He arrived in Antique in November 1983.

Respondent further testified that his efforts to look for her himself whenever his ship docked in England proved fruitless. He
also stated that all the letters he had sent to his missing spouse at No. 38 Ravena Road, Allerton, Liverpool, England, the
address of the bar where he and Janet Monica first met, were all returned to him. He also claimed that he inquired from
among friends but they too had no news of Janet Monica.

On cross-examination, respondent stated that he had lived with and later married Janet Monica Parker despite his lack of
knowledge as to her family background. He insisted that his wife continued to refuse to give him such information even after
they were married. He also testified that he did not report the matter of Janet Monica's disappearance to the Philippine
government authorities.

Respondent Nolasco presented his mother, Alicia Nolasco, as his witness. She testified that her daughter-in-law Janet Monica
had expressed a desire to return to England even before she had given birth to Gerry Nolasco on 7 December 1982. When
asked why her daughter-in-law might have wished to leave Antique, respondent's mother replied that Janet Monica never got
used to the rural way of life in San Jose, Antique. Alicia Nolasco also said that she had tried to dissuade Janet Monica from
leaving as she had given birth to her son just fifteen days before, but when she (Alicia) failed to do so, she gave Janet
Monica P22,000.00 for her expenses before she left on 22 December 1982 for England. She further claimed that she had no
information as to the missing person's present whereabouts.

The trial court granted Nolasco's petition in a Judgment dated 12 October 1988 the dispositive portion of which reads:

"Wherefore, under Article 41, paragraph 2 of the Family Code of the Philippines (Executive Order No. 209, July 6, 1987, as
amended by Executive Order No. 227, July 17, 1987) this Court hereby declares as presumptively dead Janet Monica Parker
Nolasco, without prejudice to her reappearance."[4]
The Republic appealed to the Court of Appeals contending that the trial court erred in declaring Janet Monica Parker
presumptively dead because respondent Nolasco had failed to show that there existed a well founded belief for such
declaration.

The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court's decision, holding that respondent had sufficiently established a basis to form a
belief that his absent spouse had already died.

The Republic, through the Solicitor-General, is now before this Court on a Petition for Review where the following allegations
are made:

"1. The Court of Appeals erred in affirming the trial court's finding that there existed a well-founded belief on the part of
Nolasco that Janet Monica Parker was already dead; and

2. The Court of Appeals erred in affirming the trial Court's declaration that the petition was a proper case of the declaration
of presumptive death under Article 41, Family Code."[5]
The issue before this Court, as formulated by petitioner is "[w]hether or not Nolasco has a well-founded belief that his wife is
already dead."[6]

The present case was filed before the trial court pursuant to Article 41 of the Family Code which provides that:

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

For the purpose of contracting the subsequent marriage under the preceding paragraph, the spouse present must institute a
summary proceeding as provided in this Code for the declaration of presumptive death of the absentee, without prejudice to
the effect of reappearance of the absent spouse." (Underscoring supplied).
When Article 41 is compared with the old provision of the Civil Code, which it superseded,[7] the following crucial differences
emerge. Under Article 41, the time required for the presumption to arise has been shortened to four (4) years; however,
there is need for a judicial declaration of presumptive death to enable the spouse present to remarry.[8] Also, Article 41 of the
Family Code imposes a stricter standard than the Civil Code: Article 83 of the Civil Code merely requires either that there be
no news that such absentee is still alive; or the absentee is generally considered to be dead and believed to be so by the
spouse present, or is presumed dead under Article 390 and 391 of the Civil Code.[9] The Family Code, upon the other hand,
prescribes a "well founded belief" that the absentee is already dead before a petition for declaration of presumptive death
can be granted.

As pointed out by the Solicitor-General, there are four (4) requisites for the declaration of presumptive death under Article
41 of the Family Code:

"1. That the absent spouse has been missing for four consecutive years, or two consecutive years if the disappearance
occurred where there is danger of death under the circumstances laid down in Article 391, Civil Code;

2. That the present spouse wishes to remarry;


3. That the present spouse has a well-founded belief that the absentee is dead; and

4. That the present spouse files a summary proceeding for the declaration of presumptive death of the absentee."[10]
Respondent naturally asserts that he had complied with all these requirements.[11]

Petitioner's argument, upon the other hand, boils down to this: that respondent failed to prove that he had complied with the
third requirement, i.e., the existence of a "well-founded belief" that the absent spouse is already dead.

The Court believes that respondent Nolasco failed to conduct a search for his missing wife with such diligence as to give rise
to a "well-founded belief" that she is dead.

United States v. Biasbas,[12] is instructive as to degree of diligence required in searching for a missing spouse. In that case,
defendant Macario Biasbas was charged with the crime of bigamy. He set-up the defense of a good faith belief that his first
wife had already died. The Court held that defendant had not exercised due diligence to ascertain the whereabouts of his first
wife, noting that:

"While the defendant testified that he had made inquiries concerning the whereabouts of his wife, he fails to state of whom
he made such inquiries. He did not even write to the parents of his first wife, who lived in the Province of Pampanga, for the
purpose of securing information concerning her whereabouts. He admits that he had a suspicion only that his first wife was
dead. He admits that the only basis of his suspicion was the fact that she had been absent. x x x"[13]
In the case at bar, the Court considers that the investigation allegedly conducted by respondent in his attempt to ascertain
Janet Monica Parker's whereabouts is too sketchy to form the basis of a reasonable or well-founded belief that she was
already dead. When he arrived in San Jose, Antique after learning of Janet Monica's departure, instead of seeking the help of
local authorities or of the British Embassy,[14]he secured another seaman's contract and went to London, a vast city of many
millions of inhabitants, to look for her there.

"Q: After arriving here in San Jose, Antique, did you exert efforts to inquire the whereabouts of your wife:
A: Yes, Sir.
Court:
How did you do that?
I secured another contract with the ship and we had a trip to London and I went to London to look for her I
A:
could not find her (sic)."[15] (Underscoring supplied)
Respondent's testimony, however, showed that he confused London for Liverpool and this casts doubt on his supposed
efforts to locate his wife in England. The Court of Appeal's justification of the mistake, to wit:

"x x x. Well, while the cognoscente (sic) would readily know the geographical difference between London and Liverpool, for a
humble seaman like Gregorio the two places could mean one --- place in England, the port where his ship docked and where
he found Janet. Our own provincial folks, every time they leave home to visit relatives in Pasay City, Kalookan City, or
Parañaque, would announce to friends and relatives, 'We're going to Manila.' This apparent error in naming of places of
destination does not appear to be fatal."[16]
is not well taken. There is no analogy between Manila and its neighboring cities, on one hand, and London and Liverpool, on
the other, which, as pointed out by the Solicitor-General, are around three hundred fifty (350) kilometers apart. We do not
consider that walking into a major city like Liverpool or London with a simple hope of somehow bumping into one particular
person there -- which is in effect what Nolasco says he did -- can be regarded as a reasonably diligent search.

The Court also views respondent's claim that Janet Monica declined to give any information as to her personal background
even after she had married respondent[17] too convenient an excuse to justify his failure to locate her. The same can be said
of the loss of the alleged letters respondent had sent to his wife which respondent claims were all returned to him.
Respondent said he had lost these returned letters, under unspecified circumstances.

Neither can this Court give much credence to respondent's bare assertion that he had inquired from their friends of her
whereabouts, considering that respondent did not identify those friends in his testimony. The Court of Appeals ruled that
since the prosecutor failed to rebut this evidence during trial, it is good evidence. But this kind of evidence cannot, by its
nature, be rebutted. In any case, admissibility is not synonymous with credibility.[18] As noted before, there are serious
doubts to respondent's credibility. Moreover, even if admitted as evidence, said testimony merely tended to show that the
missing spouse had chosen not to communicate with their common acquaintances, and not that she was dead.

Respondent testified that immediately after receiving his mother's letter sometime in January 1983, he cut short his
employment contract to return to San Jose, Antique. However, he did not explain the delay of nine (9) months from January
1983, when he allegedly asked leave from his captain, to November 1983 when he finally reached San Jose. Respondent,
moreover, claimed he married Janet Monica Parker without inquiring about her parents and their place of residence.[19] Also,
respondent failed to explain why he did not even try to get the help of the police or other authorities in London and Liverpool
in his effort to find his wife. The circumstances of Janet Monica's departure and respondent's subsequent behaviour make it
very difficult to regard the claimed belief that Janet Monica was dead a well-founded one.

In Goitia v. Campos-Rueda,[20] the Court stressed that:

"x x x. Marriage is an institution, the maintenance of which in its purity the public is deeply interested. It is a relationship for
life and the parties cannot terminate it at any shorter period by virtue of any contract they make. x x x."[21] (Underscoring
supplied)
By the same token, the spouses should not be allowed, by the simple expedient of agreeing that one of them leave the
conjugal abode and never to return again, to circumvent the policy of the laws on marriage. The Court notes that respondent
even tried to have his marriage annulled before the trial court in the same proceeding.

In In Re Szatraw,[22] the Court warned against such collusion between the parties when they find it impossible to dissolve the
marital bonds through existing legal means.

While the court understands the need of respondent's young son, Gerry Nolasco, for maternal care, still the requirements of
the law must prevail. Since respondent failed to satisfy the clear requirements of the law, his petition for judicial declaration
of presumptive death must be denied. The law does not view marriage like an ordinary contract. Article 1 of the Family Code
emphasizes that

"x x x Marriage is a special contract of permanent union between a man and a woman entered into in accordance with law for
the establishment of conjugal and family life. It is the foundation of the family and an inviolable social institution whose
nature, consequences, and incidents are governed by law and not subject to stipulation, except that marriage settlements
may fix the property relations during the marriage within the limits provided by this code." (Underscoring supplied)
In Arroyo, Jr. v. Court of Appeals,[23] the Court stressed strongly the need to protect

"x x x the basic social institutions of marriage and the family in the preservation of which the State has the strongest
interest; the public 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:
'The State recognizes the sanctity of family life and shall protect and strengthen the family as a basic autonomous social
institution. x x x'
The same sentiment has been expressed in the Family Code of the Philippines in Article 149:

'The family, being the foundation of the nation, is a basic social institution which public policy cherishes and protects.
Consequently, family relations are governed by law and no custom, practice or agreement destructive of the family shall be
recognized or given effect.'"[24]
In fine, respondent failed to establish that he had the well-founded belief required by law that his absent wife was already
dead that would sustain the issuance of a court order declaring Janet Monica Parker presumptively dead.

WHEREFORE, the Decision of the Court of Appeals dated 23 February 1990, affirming the trial court's decision declaring
Janet Monica Parker presumptively dead is hereby REVERSED and both Decisions are hereby NULLIFIED and SET
ASIDE. Costs against respondent.
CALISTERIO vs CALISTERIO,GR No. 136467, April 6, 2000

DECISION
VITUG, J.:
On 24 April 1992, Teodorico Calisterio died intestate, leaving several parcels of land with an estimated value of P604,750.00.
Teodorico was survived by his wife, herein respondent Marietta Calisterio. Esm
Teodorico was the second husband of Marietta who had previously been married to James William Bounds on 13 January
1946 at Caloocan City. James Bounds disappeared without a trace on 11 February 1947. Teodorico and Marietta were
married eleven years later, or on 08 May 1958, without Marietta having priorly secured a court declaration that James was
presumptively dead. Esmsc
On 09 October 1992, herein petitioner Antonia Armas y Calisterio, a surviving sister of Teodorico, filed with the Regional Trial
Court ("RTC") of Quezon City, Branch 104, a petition entitled, "In the Matter of Intestate Estate of the Deceased Teodorico
Calisterio y Cacabelos, Antonia Armas, Petitioner," claiming to be inter alia, the sole surviving heir of Teodorico Calisterio, the
marriage between the latter and respondent Marietta Espinosa Calisterio being allegedly bigamous and thereby null and void.
She prayed that her son Sinfroniano C. Armas, Jr., be appointed administrator, without bond, of the estate of the deceased
and that the inheritance be adjudicated to her after all the obligations of the estate would have been settled.
Respondent Marietta opposed the petition. Marietta stated that her first marriage with James Bounds had been dissolved due
to the latter's absence, his whereabouts being unknown, for more than eleven years before she contracted her second
marriage with Teodorico. Contending to be the surviving spouse of Teodorico, she sought priority in the administration of the
estate of the decedent. Esmmis
On 05 February 1993, the trial court issued an order appointing jointly Sinfroniano C. Armas, Jr., and respondent Marietta
administrator and administratrix, respectively, of the intestate estate of Teodorico.
On 17 January 1996, the lower court handed down its decision in favor of petitioner Antonia; it adjudged:
"WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered finding for the petitioner and against the oppositor whereby
herein petitioner, Antonia Armas y Calisterio, is declared as the sole heir of the estate of Teodorico Calisterio
y Cacabelos."[1]
Respondent Marietta appealed the decision of the trial court to the Court of Appeals, formulating that-
"1. The trial court erred in applying the provisions of the Family Code in the instant case despite the fact
that the controversy arose when the New Civil Code was the law in force.
"2. The trial court erred in holding that the marriage between oppositor-appellant and the deceased
Teodorico Calisterio is bigamous for failure of the former to secure a decree of the presumptive death of her
first spouse.
"3. The trial court erred in not holding that the property situated at No. 32 Batangas Street, San Francisco
del Monte, Quezon City, is the conjugal property of the oppositor-appellant and the deceased Teodorico
Calisterio. Esmso
"4. The trial court erred in holding that oppositor-appellant is not a legal heir of deceased Teodorico
Calisterio.
"5. The trial court erred in not holding that letters of administration should be granted solely in favor of
oppositor-appellant."[2]
On 31 August 1998, the appellate court, through Mr. Justice Conrado M. Vasquez, Jr., promulgated its now assailed decision,
thus:
"IN VIEW OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the Decision appealed from is REVERSED AND SET ASIDE, and a new
one entered declaring as follows:
"(a) Marietta Calisterio's marriage to Teodorico remains valid;
"(b) The house and lot situated at #32 Batangas Street, San Francisco del Monte, Quezon City, belong to
the conjugal partnership property with the concomitant obligation of the partnership to pay the value of the
land to Teodorico's estate as of the time of the taking;
"(c) Marietta Calisterio, being Teodorico's compulsory heir, is entitled to one half of her husband's estate,
and Teodorico's sister, herein petitioner Antonia Armas and her children, to the other half; Msesm
"(d) The trial court is ordered to determine the competence of Marietta E. Calisterio to act as administrator
of Teodorico's estate, and if so found competent and willing, that she be appointed as such; otherwise, to
determine who among the deceased's next of kin is competent and willing to become the administrator of
the estate."[3]
On 23 November 1998, the Court of Appeals denied petitioner's motion for reconsideration, prompting her to interpose the
present appeal. Petitioner asseverates:
"It is respectfully submitted that the decision of the Court of Appeals reversing and setting aside the decision
of the trial court is not in accord with the law or with the applicable decisions of this Honorable Court."[4]
It is evident that the basic issue focuses on the validity of the marriage between the deceased Teodorico and respondent
Marietta, that, in turn, would be determinative of her right as a surviving spouse. Exsm
The marriage between the deceased Teodorico and respondent Marietta was solemnized on 08 May 1958. The law in force at
that time was the Civil Code, not the Family Code which took effect only on 03 August 1988. Article 256 of the Family
Code[5]itself limited its retroactive governance only to cases where it thereby would not prejudice or impair vested or
acquired rights in accordance with the Civil Code or other laws.
Verily, the applicable specific provision in the instant controversy is Article 83 of the New Civil Code which provides: Kyle
"Art. 83. Any marriage subsequently contracted by any person during the lifetime of the first spouse of such
person with any person other than such first spouse shall be illegal and void from its performance, unless:
"(1) The first marriage was annulled or dissolved; or
"(2) The first spouse had been absent for seven consecutive years at the time of the second marriage
without the spouse present having news of the absentee being alive, or if the absentee, though he has been
absent for less than seven years, is generally considered as dead and believed to be so by the spouse
present at the time of contracting such subsequent marriage, or if the absentee is presumed dead according
to articles 390 and 391. The marriage so contracted shall be valid in any of the three cases until declared
null and void by a competent court."
Under the foregoing provisions, a subsequent marriage contracted during the lifetime of the first spouse is illegal and void ab
initio unless the prior marriage is first annulled or dissolved. Paragraph (2) of the law gives exceptions from the above rule.
For the subsequent marriage referred to in the three exceptional cases therein provided, to be held valid, the spouse
present (not the absentee spouse) so contracting the later marriage must have done so in good faith.[6] Bad faith imports a
dishonest purpose or some moral obliquity and conscious doing of wrong - it partakes of the nature of fraud, a breach of a
known duty through some motive of interest or ill will.[7] The Court does not find these circumstances to be here
extant. Kycalr
A judicial declaration of absence of the absentee spouse is not necessary[8] as long as the prescribed period of absence is
met. It is equally noteworthy that the marriage in these exceptional cases are, by the explicit mandate of Article 83, to be
deemed valid "until declared null and void by a competent court." It follows that the burden of proof would be, in these
cases, on the party assailing the second marriage. Calrky
In contrast, under the 1988 Family Code, in order that a subsequent bigamous marriage may exceptionally be considered
valid, the following conditions must concur; viz.: (a) The prior spouse of the contracting party must have been absent for
four consecutive years, or two years where there is danger of death under the circumstances stated in Article 391 of the Civil
Code at the time of disappearance; (b) the spouse present has a well-founded belief that the absent spouse is already dead;
and (c) there is, unlike the old rule, a judicial declaration of presumptive death of the absentee for which purpose the spouse
present can institute a summary proceeding in court to ask for that declaration. The last condition is consistent and in
consonance with the requirement of judicial intervention in subsequent marriages as so provided in Article 41[9], in relation to
Article 40,[10] of the Family Code. Mesm
In the case at bar, it remained undisputed that respondent Marietta's first husband, James William Bounds, had been absent
or had disappeared for more than eleven years before she entered into a second marriage in 1958 with the deceased
Teodorico Calisterio. This second marriage, having been contracted during the regime of the Civil Code, should thus be
deemed valid notwithstanding the absence of a judicial declaration of presumptive death of James Bounds.
The conjugal property of Teodorico and Marietta, no evidence having been adduced to indicate another property regime
between the spouses, pertains to them in common. Upon its dissolution with the death of Teodorico, the property should
rightly be divided in two equal portions -- one portion going to the surviving spouse and the other portion to the estate of the
deceased spouse. The successional right in intestacy of a surviving spouse over the net estate[11] of the deceased, concurring
with legitimate brothers and sisters or nephews and nieces (the latter by right of representation), is one-half of the
inheritance, the brothers and sisters or nephews and nieces, being entitled to the other half. Nephews and nieces, however,
can only succeed by right of representation in the presence of uncles and aunts; alone, upon the other hand, nephews and
nieces can succeed in their own right which is to say that brothers or sisters exclude nephews and nieces except only in
representation by the latter of their parents who predecease or are incapacitated to succeed. The appellate court has thus
erred in granting, in paragraph (c) of the dispositive portion of its judgment, successional rights, to petitioner's children,
along with their own mother Antonia who herself is invoking successional rights over the estate of her deceased brother. Slx
WHEREFORE, the assailed judgment of the Coin of Appeals in CA G.R. CV No. 51574 is AFFIRMED except insofar only as it
decreed in paragraph (c) of the dispositive portion thereof that the children of petitioner are likewise entitled, along with her,
to the other half of the inheritance, in lieu of which, it is hereby DECLARED that said one-half share of the decedent's estate
pertains solely to petitioner to the exclusion of her own children. No costs.
SO ORDERED.
MANUEL vs PEOPLE, GR. No. 165842, November 29, 2005

DECISION

CALLEJO, SR., J.:


Before us is a petition for review on certiorari of the Decision[1] of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR No. 26877,
affirming the Decision[2] of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Baguio City, Branch 3, convicting Eduardo P. Manuel of bigamy
in Criminal Case No. 19562-R.
Eduardo was charged with bigamy in an Information filed on November 7, 2001, the accusatory portion of which reads:
That on or about the 22nd day of April, 1996, in the City of Baguio, Philippines, and within the
jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused EDUARDO P. MANUEL, being then previously
and legally married to RUBYLUS [GAA] and without the said marriage having been legally dissolved, did then
and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously contract a second marriage with TINA GANDALERA-MANUEL,
herein complainant, who does not know the existence of the first marriage of said EDUARDO P. MANUEL to
Rubylus [Gaa].
CONTRARY TO LAW. [3]

The prosecution adduced evidence that on July 28, 1975, Eduardo was married to Rubylus Gaa before Msgr. Feliciano Santos
in Makati, which was then still a municipality of the Province of Rizal.[4] He met the private complainant Tina B. Gandalera in
Dagupan City sometime in January 1996. She stayed in Bonuan, Dagupan City for two days looking for a friend. Tina was
then 21 years old, a Computer Secretarial student, while Eduardo was 39. Afterwards, Eduardo went to Baguio City to visit
her. Eventually, as one thing led to another, they went to a motel where, despite Tinas resistance, Eduardo succeeded in
having his way with her. Eduardo proposed marriage on several occasions, assuring her that he was single. Eduardo even
brought his parents to Baguio City to meet Tinas parents, and was assured by them that their son was still single.
Tina finally agreed to marry Eduardo sometime in the first week of March 1996. They were married on April 22, 1996
before Judge Antonio C. Reyes, the Presiding Judge of the RTC of Baguio City, Branch 61.[5] It appeared in their marriage
contract that Eduardo was single.
The couple was happy during the first three years of their married life. Through their joint efforts, they were able to
build their home in Cypress Point, Irisan, Baguio City. However, starting 1999, Manuel started making himself scarce and
went to their house only twice or thrice a year. Tina was jobless, and whenever she asked money from Eduardo, he would
slap her.[6] Sometime in January 2001, Eduardo took all his clothes, left, and did not return. Worse, he stopped giving
financial support.
Sometime in August 2001, Tina became curious and made inquiries from the National Statistics Office (NSO) in
Manila where she learned that Eduardo had been previously married. She secured an NSO-certified copy of the marriage
contract.[7] She was so embarrassed and humiliated when she learned that Eduardo was in fact already married when they
exchanged their own vows.[8]
For his part, Eduardo testified that he met Tina sometime in 1995 in a bar where she worked as a Guest Relations Officer
(GRO). He fell in love with her and married her. He informed Tina of his previous marriage to Rubylus Gaa, but she
nevertheless agreed to marry him. Their marital relationship was in order until this one time when he noticed that she had a
love-bite on her neck. He then abandoned her. Eduardo further testified that he declared he was single in his marriage
contract with Tina because he believed in good faith that his first marriage was invalid. He did not know that he had to go to
court to seek for the nullification of his first marriage before marrying Tina.
Eduardo further claimed that he was only forced to marry his first wife because she threatened to commit suicide
unless he did so. Rubylus was charged with estafa in 1975 and thereafter imprisoned. He visited her in jail after three
months and never saw her again. He insisted that he married Tina believing that his first marriage was no longer valid
because he had not heard from Rubylus for more than 20 years.
After trial, the court rendered judgment on July 2, 2002 finding Eduardo guilty beyond reasonable doubt of bigamy.
He was sentenced to an indeterminate penalty of from six (6) years and ten (10) months, as minimum, to ten (10) years, as
maximum, and directed to indemnify the private complainant Tina Gandalera the amount of P200,000.00 by way of moral
damages, plus costs of suit.[9]
The trial court ruled that the prosecution was able to prove beyond reasonable doubt all the elements of bigamy
under Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code. It declared that Eduardos belief, that his first marriage had been dissolved
because of his first wifes 20-year absence, even if true, did not exculpate him from liability for bigamy. Citing the ruling of
this Court in People v. Bitdu,[10] the trial court further ruled that even if the private complainant had known that Eduardo had
been previously married, the latter would still be criminally liable for bigamy.
Eduardo appealed the decision to the CA. He alleged that he was not criminally liable for bigamy because when he
married the private complainant, he did so in good faith and without any malicious intent. He maintained that at the time
that he married the private complainant, he was of the honest belief that his first marriage no longer subsisted. He insisted
that conformably to Article 3 of the Revised Penal Code, there must be malice for one to be criminally liable for a felony. He
was not motivated by malice in marrying the private complainant because he did so only out of his overwhelming desire to
have a fruitful marriage. He posited that the trial court should have taken into account Article 390 of the New Civil Code. To
support his view, the appellant cited the rulings of this Court in United States v. Pealosa[11] and Manahan, Jr. v. Court of
Appeals.[12]
The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) averred that Eduardos defense of good faith and reliance on the Courts
ruling in United States v. Enriquez[13] were misplaced; what is applicable is Article 41 of the Family Code, which amended
Article 390 of the Civil Code. Citing the ruling of this Court in Republic v. Nolasco,[14] the OSG further posited that as
provided in Article 41 of the Family Code, there is a need for a judicial declaration of presumptive death of the absent spouse
to enable the present spouse to marry. Even assuming that the first marriage was void, the parties thereto should not be
permitted to judge for themselves the nullity of the marriage;
the matter should be submitted to the proper court for resolution. Moreover, the OSG maintained, the private complainants
knowledge of the first marriage would not afford any relief since bigamy is an offense against the State and not just against
the private complainant.
However, the OSG agreed with the appellant that the penalty imposed by the trial court was erroneous and sought
the affirmance of the decision appealed from with modification.
On June 18, 2004, the CA rendered judgment affirming the decision of the RTC with modification as to the penalty of
the accused. It ruled that the prosecution was able to prove all the elements of bigamy. Contrary to the contention of the
appellant, Article 41 of the Family Code should apply. Before Manuel could lawfully marry the private complainant, there
should have been a judicial declaration of Gaas presumptive death as the absent spouse. The appellate court cited the rulings
of this Court in Mercado v. Tan[15] and Domingo v. Court of Appeals[16] to support its ruling. The dispositive portion of the
decision reads:

WHEREFORE, in the light of the foregoing, the Decision promulgated on July 31, 2002 is
hereby MODIFIED to reflect, as it hereby reflects, that accused-appellant is sentenced to an indeterminate
penalty of two (2) years, four (4) months and one (1) day of prision correccional, as minimum, to ten (10)
years of prision mayor as maximum. Said Decision is AFFIRMED in all other respects.
SO ORDERED.[17]
Eduardo, now the petitioner, filed the instant petition for review on certiorari, insisting that:
I
THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED REVERSIBLE ERROR OF LAW WHEN IT RULED THAT PETITIONERS
FIRST WIFE CANNOT BE LEGALLY PRESUMED DEAD UNDER ARTICLE 390 OF THE CIVIL CODE AS THERE
WAS NO JUDICIAL DECLARATION OF PRESUMPTIVE DEATH AS PROVIDED FOR UNDER ARTICLE 41 OF THE
FAMILY CODE.
II
THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED REVERSIBLE ERROR OF LAW WHEN IT AFFIRMED THE AWARD OF
PHP200,000.00 AS MORAL DAMAGES AS IT HAS NO BASIS IN FACT AND IN LAW.[18]
The petitioner maintains that the prosecution failed to prove the second element of the felony, i.e., that the marriage
has not been legally dissolved or, in case his/her spouse is absent, the absent spouse could not yet be presumed dead under
the Civil Code. He avers that when he married Gandalera in 1996, Gaa had been absent for 21 years since 1975; under
Article 390 of the Civil Code, she was presumed dead as a matter of law. He points out that, under the first paragraph of
Article 390 of the Civil Code, one who has been absent for seven years, whether or not he/she is still alive, shall be
presumed dead for all purposes except for succession, while the second paragraph refers to the rule on legal presumption of
death with respect to succession.
The petitioner asserts that the presumptive death of the absent spouse arises by operation of law upon the
satisfaction of two requirements: the
specified period and the present spouses reasonable belief that the absentee is dead. He insists that he was able to prove
that he had not heard from his first wife since 1975 and that he had no knowledge of her whereabouts or whether she was
still alive; hence, under Article 41 of the Family Code, the presumptive death of Gaa had arisen by operation of law, as the
two requirements of Article 390 of the Civil Code are present. The petitioner concludes that he should thus be acquitted of
the crime of bigamy.
The petitioner insists that except for the period of absences provided for in Article 390 of the Civil Code, the rule
therein on legal presumptions remains valid and effective. Nowhere under Article 390 of the Civil Code does it require that
there must first be a judicial declaration of death before the rule on presumptive death would apply. He further asserts that
contrary to the rulings of the trial and appellate courts, the requirement of a judicial declaration of presumptive death under
Article 41 of the Family Code is only a requirement for the validity of the subsequent or second marriage.
The petitioner, likewise, avers that the trial court and the CA erred in awarding moral damages in favor of the
private complainant. The private complainant was a GRO before he married her, and even knew that he was already married.
He genuinely loved and took care of her and gave her financial support. He also pointed out that she had an illicit relationship
with a lover whom she brought to their house.
In its comment on the petition, the OSG maintains that the decision of the CA affirming the petitioners conviction is
in accord with the law, jurisprudence and the evidence on record. To bolster its claim, the OSG cited the ruling of this Court
in Republic v. Nolasco.[19]
The petition is denied for lack of merit.
Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code, which defines and penalizes bigamy, reads:

Art. 349. Bigamy. The penalty of prision mayor shall be imposed upon any person who shall contract a
second or subsequent marriage before the former marriage has been legally dissolved, or before the absent
spouse has been declared presumptively dead by means of a judgment rendered in the proper proceedings.
The provision was taken from Article 486 of the Spanish Penal Code, to wit:

El que contrajere Segundo o ulterior matrimonio sin hallarse legtimamente disuelto el anterior, ser castigado
con la pena de prision mayor. xxx

The reason why bigamy is considered a felony is to preserve and ensure the juridical tie of marriage established by
law.[20] The phrase or before the absent spouse had been declared presumptively dead by means of a judgment rendered in
the proper proceedings was incorporated in the Revised Penal Code because the drafters of the law were of the impression
that in consonance with the civil law which provides for the presumption of death after an absence of a number of years, the
judicial declaration of presumed death like annulment of marriage should be a justification for bigamy.[21]
For the accused to be held guilty of bigamy, the prosecution is burdened to prove the felony: (a) he/she has been legally
married; and (b) he/she contracts a subsequent marriage without the former marriage having been lawfully dissolved. The
felony is consummated on the celebration of the second marriage or subsequent marriage.[22] It is essential in the
prosecution for bigamy that the alleged second marriage, having all the essential requirements, would be valid were it not for
the subsistence of the first marriage.[23] Viada avers that a third element of the crime is that the second marriage must be
entered into with fraudulent intent (intencion fraudulente) which is an essential element of a felony by dolo.[24] On the other
hand, Cuello Calon is of the view that there are only two elements of bigamy: (1) the existence of a marriage that has not
been lawfully dissolved; and (2) the celebration of a second marriage. It does not matter whether the first marriage is void
or voidable because such marriages have juridical effects until lawfully dissolved by a court of competent jurisdiction.[25] As
the Court ruled in Domingo v. Court of Appeals[26] and Mercado v. Tan,[27] under the Family Code of the Philippines, the
judicial declaration of nullity of a previous marriage is a defense.
In his commentary on the Revised Penal Code, Albert is of the same view as Viada and declared that there are three
(3) elements of bigamy: (1) an undissolved marriage; (2) a new marriage; and (3) fraudulent intention constituting the
felony of the act.[28] He explained that:

This last element is not stated in Article 349, because it is undoubtedly incorporated in the principle
antedating all codes, and, constituting one of the landmarks of our Penal Code, that, where there is no
willfulness there is no crime. There is no willfulness if the subject
believes that the former marriage has been dissolved; and this must be supported by very strong evidence,
and if this be produced, the act shall be deemed not to constitute a crime. Thus, a person who contracts a
second marriage in the reasonable and well-founded belief that his first wife is dead, because of the many
years that have elapsed since he has had any news of her whereabouts, in spite of his endeavors to find her,
cannot be deemed guilty of the crime of bigamy, because there is no fraudulent intent which is one of the
essential elements of the crime.[29]
As gleaned from the Information in the RTC, the petitioner is charged with bigamy, a felony by dolo (deceit). Article 3,
paragraph 2 of the Revised Penal Code provides that there is deceit when the act is performed with deliberate intent. Indeed,
a felony cannot exist without intent. Since a felony by dolo is classified as an intentional felony, it is deemed
voluntary.[30] Although the words with malice do not appear in Article 3 of the Revised Penal Code, such phrase is included in
the word voluntary.[31]

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

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

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

The petitioner is presumed to have acted with malice or evil intent when he married the private complainant. As a
general rule, mistake of fact or good faith of the accused is a valid defense in a prosecution for a felony by dolo; such
defense negates malice or criminal intent. However, ignorance of the law is not an excuse because everyone is presumed to
know the law. Ignorantia legis neminem excusat.

It was the burden of the petitioner to prove his defense that when he married the private complainant in 1996, he
was of the well-grounded belief
that his first wife was already dead, as he had not heard from her for more than 20 years since 1975. He should have
adduced in evidence a decision of a competent court declaring the presumptive death of his first wife as required by Article
349 of the Revised Penal Code, in relation to Article 41 of the Family Code. Such judicial declaration also constitutes proof
that the petitioner acted in good faith, and would negate criminal intent on his part when he married the private complainant
and, as a consequence, he could not be held guilty of bigamy in such case. The petitioner, however, failed to discharge his
burden.

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

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

In a real sense, there are three parties to every civil marriage; two willing spouses and an approving State. On
marriage, the parties assume new relations to each other and the State touching nearly on every aspect of life and death.
The consequences of an invalid marriage to the parties, to innocent parties and to society, are so serious that the law may
well take means calculated to ensure the procurement of the most positive evidence of death of the first spouse or of the
presumptive death of the absent spouse[38] after the lapse of the period provided for under the law. One such means is the
requirement of the declaration by a competent court of the presumptive death of an absent spouse as proof that the present
spouse contracts a subsequent marriage on a well-grounded belief of the death of the first spouse. Indeed, men readily
believe what they wish to be true, is a maxim of the old jurists. To sustain a second marriage and to vacate a first because
one of the parties believed the other to be dead would make the existence of the marital relation determinable, not by
certain extrinsic facts, easily capable of forensic ascertainment and proof, but by the subjective condition of
individuals.[39] Only with such proof can marriage be treated as so dissolved as to permit second marriages.[40] Thus, Article
349 of the Revised Penal Code has made the dissolution of marriage dependent not only upon the personal belief of parties,
but upon certain objective facts easily capable of accurate judicial cognizance,[41] namely, a judgment of the presumptive
death of the absent spouse.

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

Articles 390 and 391 of the Civil Code provide


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

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

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

(1) A person on board a vessel lost during a sea voyage, or an aeroplane which is missing, who
has not been heard of for four years since the loss of the vessel or aeroplane;
(2) A person in the armed forces who has taken part in war, and has been missing for four
years;
(3) A person who has been in danger of death under other circumstances and his existence has
not been known for four years.
The presumption of death of the spouse who had been absent for seven years, it being unknown whether or not the
absentee still lives, is created by law and arises without any necessity of judicial declaration.[42] However, Article 41 of the
Family Code, which amended the foregoing rules on presumptive death, reads:

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

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

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

In contrast, under the 1988 Family Code, in order that a subsequent bigamous marriage may
exceptionally be considered valid, the following conditions must concur, viz.: (a) The prior spouse of the
contracting party must have been absent for four consecutive years, or two years where there is danger of
death under the circumstances stated in Article 391 of the Civil Code at the time of disappearance; (b) the
spouse present has a well-founded belief that the absent spouse is already dead; and (c) there is, unlike the
old rule, a judicial declaration of presumptive death of the absentee for which purpose the spouse present
can institute a summary proceeding in court to ask for that declaration. The last condition is consistent and
in consonance with the requirement of judicial intervention in subsequent marriages as so provided in Article
41, in relation to Article 40, of the Family Code.
The Court rejects petitioners contention that the requirement of instituting a petition for declaration of presumptive
death under Article 41 of the Family Code is designed merely to enable the spouse present to contract a valid second
marriage and not for the acquittal of one charged with bigamy. Such provision was designed to harmonize civil law and
Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code, and put to rest the confusion spawned by the rulings of this Court and comments of
eminent authorities on Criminal Law.
As early as March 6, 1937, this Court ruled in Jones v. Hortiguela[47] that, for purposes of the marriage law, it is not
necessary to have the former spouse judicially declared an absentee before the spouse present may contract a subsequent
marriage. It held that the declaration of absence made in accordance with the provisions of the Civil Code has for its sole
purpose the taking of the necessary precautions for the administration of the estate of the absentee. For the celebration of
civil marriage, however, the law only requires that the former spouse had been absent for seven consecutive years at the
time of the second marriage, that the spouse present does not know his or her former spouse to be living, that such former
spouse is generally reputed to be dead and the spouse present so believes at the time of the celebration of the
marriage.[48] In In Re Szatraw,[49] the Court declared that a judicial declaration that a person is presumptively dead, because
he or she had been unheard from in seven years, being a presumption juris tantum only, subject to contrary proof, cannot
reach the stage of finality or become final; and that proof of actual death of the person presumed dead being unheard from
in seven years, would have to be made in another proceeding to have such particular fact finally determined. The Court ruled
that if a judicial decree declaring a person presumptively dead because he or she had not been heard from in seven years
cannot become final and executory even after the lapse of the reglementary period within which an appeal may be taken, for
such presumption is still disputable and remains subject to contrary proof, then a petition for such a declaration is useless,
unnecessary, superfluous and of no benefit to the petitioner. The Court stated that it should not waste its valuable time and
be made to perform a superfluous and meaningless act.[50]The Court also took note that a petition for a declaration of the
presumptive death of an absent spouse may even be made in collusion with the other spouse.
In Lukban v. Republic of the Philippines,[51] the Court declared that the words proper proceedings in Article 349 of
the Revised Penal Code can only refer to those authorized by law such as Articles 390 and 391 of the Civil Code which refer
to the administration or settlement of the estate of a deceased person. In Gue v. Republic of the Philippines,[52] the Court
rejected the contention of the petitioner therein that, under Article 390 of the Civil Code, the courts are authorized to declare
the presumptive death of a person after an absence of seven years. The Court reiterated its rulings in Szatraw,
Lukban and Jones.
Former Chief Justice Ramon C. Aquino was of the view that the provision of Article 349 or before the absent spouse
has been declared presumptively dead by means of a judgment reached in the proper proceedings is erroneous and should
be considered as not written. He opined that such provision presupposes that, if the prior marriage has not been legally
dissolved and the absent first spouse has not been declared presumptively dead in a proper court proceedings, the
subsequent marriage is bigamous. He maintains that the supposition is not true.[53] A second marriage is bigamous only
when the circumstances in paragraphs 1 and 2 of Article 83 of the Civil Code are not present.[54] Former Senator Ambrosio
Padilla was, likewise, of the view that Article 349 seems to require judicial decree of dissolution or judicial declaration of
absence but even with such decree, a second marriage in good faith will not constitute bigamy. He posits that a second
marriage, if not illegal, even if it be annullable, should not give rise to bigamy.[55] Former Justice Luis B. Reyes, on the other
hand, was of the view that in the case of an absent spouse who could not yet be presumed dead according to the Civil Code,
the spouse present cannot be charged and convicted of bigamy in case he/she contracts a second marriage.[56]
The Committee tasked to prepare the Family Code proposed the amendments of Articles 390 and 391 of the Civil
Code to conform to Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code, in that, in a case where a spouse is absent for the requisite period,
the present spouse may contract a subsequent marriage only after securing a judgment declaring the presumptive death of
the absent spouse to avoid being charged and convicted of bigamy; the present spouse will have to adduce evidence that he
had a well-founded belief that the absent spouse was already dead.[57] Such judgment is proof of the good faith of the
present spouse who contracted a subsequent marriage; thus, even if the present spouse is later charged with bigamy if the
absentee spouse reappears, he cannot be convicted of the crime. As explained by former Justice Alicia Sempio-Diy:
Such rulings, however, conflict with Art. 349 of the Revised Penal Code providing that the present spouse
must first ask for a declaration of presumptive death of the absent spouse in order not to be guilty of
bigamy in case he or she marries again.

The above Article of the Family Code now clearly provides that for the purpose of the present
spouse contracting a second marriage, he or she must file a summary proceeding as provided in the Code
for the declaration of the presumptive death of the absentee, without prejudice to the latters reappearance.
This provision is intended to protect the present spouse from a criminal prosecution for bigamy under Art.
349 of the Revised Penal Code because with the judicial declaration that the missing spouses presumptively
dead, the good faith of the present spouse in contracting a second marriage is already established.[58]
Of the same view is former Dean Ernesto L. Pineda (now Undersecretary of Justice) who wrote that things are now
clarified. He says judicial declaration of presumptive death is now authorized for purposes of
remarriage. The present spouse must institute a summary proceeding for declaration of presumptive death of the absentee,
where the ordinary rules of procedure in trial will not be followed. Affidavits will suffice, with possible clarificatory
examinations of affiants if the Judge finds it necessary for a full grasp of the facts. The judgment declaring an absentee as
presumptively dead is without prejudice to the effect of reappearance of the said absentee.

Dean Pineda further states that before, the weight of authority is that the clause before the absent spouse has been
declared presumptively dead x x x should be disregarded because of Article 83, paragraph 3 of the Civil Code. With the new
law, there is a need to institute a summary proceeding for the declaration of the presumptive death of the absentee,
otherwise, there is bigamy.[59]
According to Retired Supreme Court Justice Florenz D. Regalado, an eminent authority on Criminal Law, in some cases where
an absentee spouse is believed to be dead, there must be a judicial declaration of presumptive death, which could then be
made only in the proceedings for the settlement of his estate.[60] Before such declaration, it was held that the remarriage of
the other spouse is bigamous even if done in good faith.[61] Justice Regalado opined that there were contrary views because
of the ruling in Jones and the provisions of Article 83(2) of the Civil Code, which, however, appears to have been set to rest
by Article 41 of the Family Code, which requires a summary hearing for the declaration of presumptive death of the absent
spouse before the other spouse can remarry.

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

On the second issue, the petitioner, likewise, faults the trial court and the CA for awarding moral damages in favor of the
private complainant. The petitioner maintains that moral damages may be awarded only in any of the cases provided in
Article 2219 of the Civil Code, and bigamy is not one of them. The petitioner asserts that the appellate court failed to apply
its ruling in People v. Bondoc,[63] where an award of moral damages for bigamy was disallowed. In any case, the petitioner
maintains, the private complainant failed to adduce evidence to prove moral damages.
The appellate court awarded moral damages to the private complainant on its finding that she adduced evidence to
prove the same. The appellate court ruled that while bigamy is not included in those cases enumerated in Article 2219 of the
Civil Code, it is not proscribed from awarding moral damages against the petitioner. The appellate court ruled that it is not
bound by the following ruling in People v. Bondoc:

... Pero si en dichos asuntos se adjudicaron daos, ello se debi indedublamente porque el articulo 2219 del
Cdigo Civil de Filipinas autoriza la adjudicacin de daos morales en los delitos de estupro, rapto, violacin,
adulterio o concubinato, y otros actos lascivos, sin incluir en esta enumeracin el delito de bigamia. No existe,
por consiguiente, base legal para adjudicar aqu los daos de P5,000.00 arriba mencionados.[64]
The OSG posits that the findings and ruling of the CA are based on the evidence and the law. The OSG, likewise,
avers that the CA was not bound by its ruling in People v. Rodeo.
The Court rules against the petitioner.
Moral damages include physical suffering, mental anguish, fright, serious anxiety, besmirched reputation, wounded
feelings, moral shock, social humiliation, and similar injury. Though incapable of pecuniary computation, moral damages may
be recovered if they are the proximate result of the defendants wrongful act or omission.[65] An award for moral damages
requires the confluence of the following conditions: first, there must be an injury, whether physical, mental or psychological,
clearly sustained by the claimant; second, there must be culpable act or omission factually established; third, the wrongful
act or omission of the defendant is the proximate cause of the injury sustained by the claimant; and fourth, the award of
damages is predicated on any of the cases stated in Article 2219 or Article 2220 of the Civil Code.[66]

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

(1) A criminal offense resulting in physical injuries;


(2) Quasi-delicts causing physical injuries;
(3) Seduction, abduction, rape, or other lascivious acts;
(4) Adultery or concubinage;
(5) Illegal or arbitrary detention or arrest;
(6) Illegal search;
(7) Libel, slander or any other form of defamation;
(8) Malicious prosecution;
(9) Acts mentioned in article 309;
(10) Acts and actions referred to in articles 21, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 32, 34 and 35.

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

The spouse, descendants, ascendants, and brothers and sisters may bring the action mentioned in
No. 9 of this article in the order named.
Thus, the law does not intend that moral damages should be awarded in all cases where the aggrieved party has suffered
mental anguish, fright, moral anxieties, besmirched reputation, wounded feelings, moral shock, social humiliation and similar
injury arising out of an act or omission of another, otherwise, there would not have been any reason for the inclusion of
specific acts in Article 2219[67] and analogous cases (which refer to those cases bearing analogy or resemblance, corresponds
to some others or resembling, in other respects, as in form, proportion, relation, etc.)[68]

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

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

Article 20 speaks of the general sanctions of all other provisions of law which do not especially provide for its own
sanction. When a right is exercised in a manner which does not conform to the standards set forth in the said provision and
results in damage to another, a legal wrong is thereby committed for which the wrongdoer must be responsible.[70] If the
provision does not provide a remedy for its violation, an action for damages under either Article 20 or Article 21 of the Civil
Code would be proper. Article 20 provides that every person who, contrary to law, willfully or negligently causes damage to
another shall indemnify the latter for the same. On the other hand, Article 21 provides that any person who willfully causes
loss or injury to another in a manner that is contrary to morals, good customs or public policy shall compensate the latter for
damages. The latter provision
is adopted to remedy the countless gaps in the statutes which leave so many victims of moral wrongs helpless, even though
they have actually suffered material and moral injury should vouchsafe adequate legal remedy for that untold number of
moral wrongs which it is impossible for human foresight to prove for specifically in the statutes. Whether or not the principle
of abuse of rights has been violated resulting in damages under Article 20 or Article 21 of the Civil Code or other applicable
provisions of law depends upon the circumstances of each case.[71]
In the present case, the petitioner courted the private complainant and proposed to marry her. He assured her that he was
single. He even brought his parents to the house of the private complainant where he and his parents made the same
assurance that he was single. Thus, the private complainant agreed to marry the petitioner, who even stated in the
certificate of marriage that he was single. She lived with the petitioner and dutifully performed her duties as his wife,
believing all the while that he was her lawful husband. For two years or so until the petitioner heartlessly abandoned her, the
private complainant had no inkling that he was already married to another before they were married.
Thus, the private complainant was an innocent victim of the petitioners chicanery and heartless deception, the fraud
consisting not of a single act alone, but a continuous series of acts. Day by day, he maintained the appearance of being a
lawful husband to the private complainant, who
changed her status from a single woman to a married woman, lost the consortium, attributes and support of a single man
she could have married lawfully and endured mental pain and humiliation, being bound to a man who it turned out was not
her lawful husband.[72]
The Court rules that the petitioners collective acts of fraud and deceit before, during and after his marriage with the
private complainant were willful, deliberate and with malice and caused injury to the latter. That she did not sustain any
physical injuries is not a bar to an award for moral damages. Indeed, in Morris v. Macnab,[73] the New Jersey Supreme Court
ruled:
xxx The defendant cites authorities which indicate that, absent physical injuries, damages for
shame, humiliation, and mental anguish are not recoverable where the actor is simply negligent. See
Prosser, supra, at p. 180; 2 Harper & James, Torts, 1031 (1956). But the authorities all recognize that
where the wrong is willful rather than negligent, recovery may be had for the ordinary, natural, and
proximate consequences though they consist of shame, humiliation, and mental anguish. See Spiegel v.
Evergreen Cemetery Co., 117 NJL 90, 94, 186 A 585 (Sup. Ct. 1936); Kuzma v. Millinery Workers, etc.,
Local 24, 27 N.J. Super, 579, 591, 99 A.2d 833 (App. Div. 1953); Prosser, supra, at p. 38. Here the
defendants conduct was not merely negligent, but was willfully and maliciously wrongful. It was bound to
result in shame, humiliation, and mental anguish for the plaintiff, and when such result did ensue the
plaintiff became entitled not only to compensatory but also to punitive damages. See Spiegel v. Evergreen
Cemetery Co., supra; Kuzma v Millinery Workers, etc., Local 24, supra. CF. Note, Exemplary Damages in the
Law of Torts, 70 Harv. L. Rev. 517 (1957). The plaintiff testified that because of the defendants bigamous
marriage to her and the attendant publicity she not only was embarrassed and ashamed to go out but
couldnt sleep but couldnt eat, had terrific headaches and lost quite a lot of weight. No just basis appears for
judicial interference with the jurys reasonable allowance of $1,000 punitive damages on the first count. See
Cabakov v. Thatcher, 37 N.J. Super 249, 117 A.2d 298 (App. Div.[74] 1955).
The Court thus declares that the petitioners acts are against public policy as they undermine and subvert the family as a
social institution, good morals and the interest and general welfare of society.
Because the private complainant was an innocent victim of the petitioners perfidy, she is not barred from claiming
moral damages. Besides, even considerations of public policy would not prevent her from recovery. As held in Jekshewitz v.
Groswald:[75]
Where a person is induced by the fraudulent representation of another to do an act which, in consequence of
such misrepresentation, he believes to be neither illegal nor immoral, but which is in fact a criminal offense,
he has a right of action against the person so inducing him for damages sustained by him in consequence of
his having done such act. Burrows v. Rhodes, [1899] 1 Q.B. 816. In Cooper v. Cooper, 147 Mass. 370, 17
N.E. 892, 9 Am. St. Rep. 721, the court said that a false representation by the defendant that he was
divorced from his former wife, whereby the plaintiff was induced to marry him, gave her a remedy in tort for
deceit. It seems to have been assumed that the fact that she had unintentionally violated the law or
innocently committed a crime by cohabiting with him would be no bar to the action, but rather that it might
be a ground for enhancing her damages. The injury to the plaintiff was said to be in her being led by the
promise to give the fellowship and assistance of a wife to one who was not her husband and to assume and
act in a relation and condition that proved to be false and ignominious. Damages for such an injury were
held to be recoverable in Sherman v. Rawson, 102 Mass. 395 and Kelley v. Riley, 106 Mass. 339, 343, 8
Am. Rep. 336.

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

[7] Actions for deceit for fraudulently inducing a woman to enter into the marriage relation have
been maintained in other jurisdictions. Sears v. Wegner, 150 Mich. 388, 114 N.W. 224, 17 L.R. A. (N.S.)
819; Larson v. McMillan, 99 Wash. 626, 170 P. 324; Blossom v. Barrett, 37 N.Y. 434, 97 Am. Dec. 747;
Morril v. Palmer, 68 Vt. 1, 33 A. 829, 33 L.R.A. 411. Considerations of public policy would not prevent
recovery where the circumstances are such that the plaintiff was conscious of no moral turpitude, that her
illegal action was induced solely by the defendants misrepresentation, and that she does not base her cause
of action upon any transgression of the law by herself. Such considerations
distinguish this case from cases in which the court has refused to lend its aid to the enforcement of a
contract illegal on its face or to one who has consciously and voluntarily become a party to an illegal act
upon which the cause of action is founded. Szadiwicz v. Cantor, 257 Mass. 518, 520, 154 N.E. 251, 49 A. L.
R. 958.[76]
Considering the attendant circumstances of the case, the Court finds the award of P200,000.00 for moral damages to be just
and reasonable.
IN LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the petition is DENIED. The assailed decision of the Court of Appeals
is AFFIRMED. Costs against the petitioner.
SO ORDERED.
REPUBLIC vs CA, GR No. 159614, December 9, 2005
DECISION

CALLEJO, SR., J.:

On March 29, 2001, Alan B. Alegro filed a petition in the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Catbalogan, Samar, Branch 27, for the
declaration of presumptive death of his wife, Rosalia (Lea) A. Julaton.

In an Order[1] dated April 16, 2001, the court set the petition for hearing on May 30, 2001 at 8:30 a.m. and directed
that a copy of the said order be published once a week for three (3) consecutive weeks in the Samar Reporter, a newspaper
of general circulation in the Province of Samar, and
that a copy be posted in the courts bulletin board for at least three weeks before the next scheduled hearing. The court also
directed that copies of the order be served on the Solicitor General, the Provincial Prosecutor of Samar, and Alan, through
counsel, and that copies be sent to Lea by registered mail. Alan complied with all the foregoing jurisdictional requirements.[2]

On May 28, 2001, the Republic of the Philippines, through the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), filed a Motion to
Dismiss[3] the petition, which was, however, denied by the court for failure to comply with Rule 15 of the Rules of Court.[4]

At the hearing, Alan adduced evidence that he and Lea were married on January 20, 1995 in Catbalogan,
Samar. [5]
He testified that, on February 6, 1995, Lea arrived home late in the evening and he berated her for being always
out of their house. He told her that if she enjoyed the life of a single person, it would be better for her to go back to her
parents.[6] Lea did not reply. Alan narrated that, when he reported for work the following day, Lea was still in the house, but
when he arrived home later in the day, Lea was nowhere to be found.[7] Alan thought that Lea merely went to her parents
house in Bliss, Sto. Nio, Catbalogan, Samar.[8] However, Lea did not return to their house anymore.

Alan further testified that, on February 14, 1995, after his work, he went to the house of Leas parents to see if she
was there, but he was told that she was not there. He also went to the house of Leas friend, Janeth Bautista,
at Barangay Canlapwas, but he was informed by Janettes brother-in-law, Nelson Abaenza, that Janeth had left for
Manila.[9] When Alan went back to the house of his parents-in-law, he learned from his father-in-law that Lea had been to
their house but that she left without notice.[10] Alan sought the help of Barangay Captain Juan Magat, who promised to help
him locate his wife. He also inquired from his friends of Leas whereabouts but to no avail.[11]

Sometime in June 1995, he decided to go to Manila to look for Lea, but his mother asked him to leave after the town
fiesta of Catbalogan, hoping that Lea may come home for the fiesta. Alan agreed.[12] However, Lea did not show up. Alan
then left for Manila on August 27, 1995. He went to a house in Navotas where Janeth, Leas friend, was staying. When asked
where Lea was, Janeth told him that she had not seen her.[13] He failed to find out Leas whereabouts despite his repeated
talks with Janeth. Alan decided to work as a part-time taxi driver. On his free time, he would look for Lea in the malls but still
to no avail. He returned to Catbalogan in 1997 and again looked for his wife but failed.[14]

On June 20, 2001, Alan reported Leas disappearance to the local police station.[15] The police authorities issued an
Alarm Notice on July 4, 2001.[16] Alan also reported Leas disappearance to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) on July
9, 2001.[17]
Barangay Captain Juan Magat corroborated the testimony of Alan. He declared that on February 14, 1995, at 2:00
p.m., Alan inquired from him if Lea passed by his house and he told Alan that she did not. Alan also told him that Lea had
disappeared. He had not seen Lea in the barangay ever since.[18] Leas father, who was his compadre and the owner of Radio
DYMS, told him that he did not know where Lea was.[19]

After Alan rested his case, neither the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor nor the Solicitor General adduced evidence
in opposition to the petition.

On January 8, 2002, the court rendered judgment granting the petition. The fallo of the decision reads:

WHEREFORE, and in view of all the foregoing, petitioners absent spouse ROSALIA JULATON is
hereby declared PRESUMPTIVELY DEAD for the purpose of the petitioners subsequent marriage under Article
41 of the Family Code of the Philippines, without prejudice to the effect of reappearance of the said absent
spouse.

SO ORDERED.[20]

The OSG appealed the decision to the Court of Appeals (CA) which rendered judgment on August 4, 2003, affirming the
decision of the RTC.[21] The CA cited the ruling of this Court in Republic v. Nolasco.[22]

The OSG filed a petition for review on certiorari of the CAs decision alleging that respondent Alan B. Alegro failed to prove
that he had a well-founded belief that Lea was already dead.[23] It averred that the respondent failed to exercise reasonable
and diligent efforts to locate his wife. The respondent even admitted that Leas father told him on February 14, 1995 that Lea
had been to their house but left without notice. The OSG pointed out that the respondent reported his wifes disappearance to
the local police and also to the NBI only after the petitioner filed a motion to dismiss the petition. The petitioner avers that,
as gleaned from the evidence, the respondent did not really want to find and locate Lea. Finally, the petitioner averred:
In view of the summary nature of proceedings under Article 41 of the Family Code for the
declaration of presumptive death of ones spouse, the degree of due diligence set by this Honorable Court in
the above-mentioned cases in locating the whereabouts of a missing spouse must be strictly complied with.
There have been times when Article 41 of the Family 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
those who cannot have their marriages x x x declared null and void under Article 36 of the Family Code
resort to Article 41 of the Family Code for relief because of the x x x summary nature of its proceedings.

It is the policy of the State to protect and strengthen the family as a basic social institution.
Marriage is the foundation of the family. Since marriage is an inviolable social institution that the 1987
Constitution seeks to protect from dissolution at the whim of the parties. For respondents failure to prove
that he had a well-founded belief that his wife is already
dead and that he exerted the required amount of diligence in searching for his missing wife, the petition for
declaration of presumptive death should have been denied by the trial court and the Honorable Court of
Appeals.[24]

The petition is meritorious.

Article 41 of the Family Code of the Philippines reads:


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

For the purpose of contracting the subsequent marriage under the preceding paragraph, the spouse present
must institute a summary proceeding as provided in this Code for the declaration of presumptive death of
the absentee, without prejudice to the effect of reappearance of the absent spouse.[25]

The spouse present is, thus, burdened to prove that his spouse has been absent and that he has a well-founded belief that
the absent spouse is already dead before the present spouse may contract a subsequent marriage. The law does not define
what is meant by a well-grounded belief. Cuello Callon writes that es menester que su creencia sea firme se funde en
motivos racionales.[26]

Belief is a state of the mind or condition prompting the doing of an overt act. It may be proved by direct evidence or
circumstantial evidence which may tend, even in a slight degree, to elucidate the inquiry or assist to a determination
probably founded in truth. Any fact or circumstance relating to the character, habits, conditions, attachments, prosperity and
objects of life which usually control the conduct of men, and are the motives of their actions, was, so far as it tends to
explain or characterize their disappearance or throw light on their intentions,[27] competence evidence on the ultimate
question of his death.

The belief of the present spouse must be the result of proper and honest to goodness inquiries and efforts to
ascertain the whereabouts of the absent spouse and whether the absent spouse is still alive or is already dead. Whether or
not the spouse present acted on a well-founded belief of death of the absent spouse depends upon the inquiries to be drawn
from a great many circumstances occurring before and after the disappearance of the absent spouse and the nature and
extent of the inquiries made by present spouse.[28]

Although testimonial evidence may suffice to prove the well-founded belief of the present spouse that the absent spouse is
already dead, in Republic v. Nolasco,[29] the Court warned against collusion between the parties when they find it impossible
to dissolve the marital bonds through existing legal means. It is also the maxim that men readily believe what they wish to
be true.

In this case, the respondent failed to present a witness other than Barangay Captain Juan Magat. The respondent even failed
to present Janeth Bautista or Nelson Abaenza or any other person from whom he allegedly made inquiries about Lea to
corroborate his testimony. On the other hand, the respondent admitted that when he returned to the house of his parents-in-
law on February 14, 1995, his father-in-law told him that Lea had just been there but that she left without notice.
The respondent declared that Lea left their abode on February 7, 1995 after he chided her for coming home late and for
being always out of their house, and told her that it would be better for her to go home to her parents if she enjoyed the life
of a single person. Lea, thus, left their conjugal abode and never returned. Neither did she communicate with the respondent
after leaving the conjugal abode because of her resentment to the chastisement she received from him barely a month after
their marriage. What is so worrisome is that, the respondent failed to make inquiries from his parents-in-law regarding Leas
whereabouts before filing his petition in the RTC. It could have enhanced the credibility of the respondent had he made
inquiries from his parents-in-law about Leas whereabouts considering that Leas father was the owner of Radio DYMS.
The respondent did report and seek the help of the local police authorities and the NBI to locate Lea, but it was only an
afterthought. He did so only after the OSG filed its notice to dismiss his petition in the RTC.
In sum, the Court finds and so holds that the respondent failed to prove that he had a well-founded belief, before he
filed his petition in the RTC, that his spouse Rosalia (Lea) Julaton was already dead.

IN LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the petition is GRANTED. The Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No.
73749 is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Consequently, the Regional Trial Court of Catbalogan, Samar, Branch 27,
is ORDERED to DISMISS the respondents petition.

SO ORDERED.
SSS vs VDA. DE BAILON, GR. No. 165545, March 24, 2006

DECISION

CARPIO MORALES, J.:

The Court of Appeals Decision[1] dated June 23, 2004[2] and Resolution dated September 28, 2004[3] reversing the
Resolution dated April 2, 2003[4] and Order dated June 4, 2003[5] of the Social Security Commission (SSC) in SSC Case No.
4-15149-01 are challenged in the present petition for review on certiorari.

On April 25, 1955, Clemente G. Bailon (Bailon) and Alice P. Diaz (Alice) contracted marriage in Barcelona,
Sorsogon.[6]

More than 15 years later or on October 9, 1970, Bailon filed before the then Court of First Instance (CFI) of Sorsogon
a petition[7] to declare Alice presumptively dead.

By Order of December 10, 1970,[8] the CFI granted the petition, disposing as follows:

WHEREFORE, there being no opposition filed against the petition notwithstanding the publication of
the Notice of Hearing in a newspaper of general circulation in the country, Alice Diaz is hereby declared to
[sic] all legal intents and purposes, except for those of succession, presumptively dead.

SO ORDERED.[9] (Underscoring supplied)

Close to 13 years after his wife Alice was declared presumptively dead or on August 8, 1983, Bailon contracted
marriage with Teresita Jarque (respondent) in Casiguran, Sorsogon.[10]

On January 30, 1998, Bailon, who was a member of the Social Security System (SSS) since 1960 and a retiree
pensioner thereof effective July 1994, died.[11]

Respondent thereupon filed a claim for funeral benefits, and was granted P12,000[12] by the SSS.

Respondent filed on March 11, 1998 an additional claim for death benefits[13] which was also granted by the SSS
on April 6, 1998.[14]

Cecilia Bailon-Yap (Cecilia), who claimed to be a daughter of Bailon and one Elisa Jayona (Elisa) contested before the
SSS the release to respondent of the death and funeral benefits. She claimed that Bailon contracted three marriages in his
lifetime, the first with Alice, the second with her mother Elisa, and the third with respondent, all of whom are still alive; she,
together with her siblings, paid for Bailons medical and funeral expenses; and all the documents submitted by respondent to
the SSS in support of her claims are spurious.

In support of her claim, Cecilia and her sister Norma Bailon Chavez (Norma) submitted an Affidavit dated February
13, 1999[15] averring that they are two of nine children of Bailon and Elisa who cohabited as husband and wife as early as
1958; and they were reserving their right to file the necessary court action to contest the marriage between Bailon and
respondent as they personally know that Alice is still very much alive.[16]
In the meantime, on April 5, 1999, a certain Hermes P. Diaz, claiming to be the brother and guardian of Aliz P. Diaz,
filed before the SSS a claim for death benefits accruing from Bailons death,[17] he further attesting in a sworn
statement[18] that it was Norma who defrayed Bailons funeral expenses.

Elisa and seven of her children[19] subsequently filed claims for death benefits as Bailons beneficiaries before the
SSS.[20]

Atty. Marites C. de la Torre of the Legal Unit of the SSS Bicol Cluster, Naga City recommended the cancellation of
payment of death pension benefits to respondent and the issuance of an order for the refund of the amount paid to her from
February 1998 to May 1999 representing such benefits; the denial of the claim of Alice on the ground that she was not
dependent upon Bailon for support during his lifetime; and the payment of the balance of the five-year guaranteed pension
to Bailons beneficiaries according to the order of preference provided under the law, after the amount erroneously paid to
respondent has been collected. The pertinent portions of the Memorandum read:

1. Aliz [sic] Diaz never disappeared. The court must have been misled by misrepresentation in
declaring the first wife, Aliz [sic] Diaz, as presumptively dead.

xxxx

x x x the Order of the court in the Petition to Declare Alice Diaz Presumptively Dead, did not
become final. The presence of Aliz [sic] Diaz, is contrary proof that rendered it invalid.
xxxx

3. It was the deceased member who abandoned his wife, Aliz [sic] Diaz. He, being in bad faith, and
is the deserting spouse, his remarriage is void, being bigamous.

xxxx

In this case, it is the deceased member who was the deserting spouse and who remarried, thus his
marriage to Teresita Jarque, for the second time was void as it was bigamous. To require affidavit of
reappearance to terminate the second marriage is not necessary as there is no disappearance of Aliz [sic]
Diaz, the first wife, and a voidable marriage [sic], to speak of.[21] (Underscoring supplied)

In the meantime, the SSS Sorsogon Branch, by letter of August 16, 2000,[22] advised respondent that as Cecilia and
Norma were the ones who defrayed Bailons funeral expenses, she should return the P12,000 paid to her.

In a separate letter dated September 7, 1999,[23] the SSS advised respondent of the cancellation of her monthly
pension for death benefits in view of the opinion rendered by its legal department that her marriage with Bailon was void as
it was contracted while the latters marriage with Alice was still subsisting; and the December 10, 1970 CFI Order declaring
Alice presumptively dead did not become final, her presence being contrary proof against the validity of the order. It thus
requested respondent to return the amount of P24,000 representing the total amount of monthly pension she had received
from the SSS from February 1998 to May 1999.

Respondent protested the cancellation of her monthly pension for death benefits by letter to the SSS dated October
12, 1999.[24] In a subsequent letter dated November 27, 1999[25] to the SSC, she reiterated her request for the release of her
monthly pension, asserting that her marriage with Bailon was not declared before any court of justice as bigamous or
unlawful, hence, it remained valid and subsisting for all legal intents and purposes as in fact Bailon designated her as his
beneficiary.

The SSS, however, by letter to respondent dated January 21, 2000,[26] maintained the denial of her claim for and the
discontinuance of payment of monthly pension. It advised her, however, that she was not deprived of her right to file a
petition with the SSC.

Respondent thus filed a petition[27] against the SSS before the SSC for the restoration to her of her entitlement to
monthly pension.

In the meantime, respondent informed the SSS that she was returning, under protest, the amount of P12,000
representing the funeral benefits she received, she alleging that Norma and her siblings forcibly and coercively prevented her
from spending any amount during Bailons wake.[28]

After the SSS filed its Answer[29] to respondents petition, and the parties filed their respective Position Papers, one
Alicia P. Diaz filed an Affidavit[30] dated August 14, 2002 with the SSS Naga Branch attesting that she is the widow of Bailon;
she had only recently come to know of the petition filed by Bailon to declare her presumptively dead; it is not true that she
disappeared as Bailon could have easily located her, she having stayed at her parents residence in Barcelona, Sorsogon after
she found out that Bailon was having an extramarital affair; and Bailon used to visit her even after their separation.

By Resolution of April 2, 2003, the SSC found that the marriage of respondent to Bailon was void and, therefore, she
was just a common-law-wife. Accordingly it disposed as follows, quoted verbatim:

WHEREFORE, this Commission finds, and so holds, that petitioner Teresita Jarque-Bailon is not the
legitimate spouse and primary beneficiary of SSS member Clemente Bailon.

Accordingly, the petitioner is hereby ordered to refund to the SSS the amount of P24,000.00
representing the death benefit she received therefrom for the period February 1998 until May 1999 as well
as P12,000.00 representing the funeral benefit.

The SSS is hereby ordered to pay Alice (a.k.a. Aliz) Diaz-Bailon the appropriate death benefit
arising from the demise of SSS member Clemente Bailon in accordance with Section 8(e) and (k) as well as
Section 13 of the SS Law, as amended, and its prevailing rules and regulations and to inform this
Commission of its compliance herewith.

SO ORDERED.[31] (Underscoring supplied)

In so ruling against respondent, the SSC ratiocinated.

After a thorough examination of the evidence at hand, this Commission comes to the inevitable
conclusion that the petitioner is not the legitimate wife of the deceased member.

xxxx
There is x x x ample evidence pointing to the fact that, contrary to the declaration of the then CFI
of Sorsogon (10th Judicial District), the first wife never disappeared as the deceased member represented in
bad faith. This Commission accords credence to the findings of the SSS contained in its Memorandum
dated August 9, 1999,[32] revealing that Alice (a.k.a. Aliz) Diaz never left Barcelona, Sorsogon, after her
separation from Clemente Bailon x x x.
As the declaration of presumptive death was extracted by the deceased member using artifice and
by exerting fraud upon the unsuspecting court of law, x x x it never had the effect of giving the deceased
member the right to marry anew. x x x [I]t is clear that the marriage to the petitioner is void, considering
that the first marriage on April 25, 1955 to Alice Diaz was not previously annulled, invalidated or otherwise
dissolved during the lifetime of the parties thereto. x x x as determined through the investigation conducted
by the SSS, Clemente Bailon was the abandoning spouse, not Alice Diaz Bailon.

xxxx

It having been established, by substantial evidence, that the petitioner was just a common-law
wife of the deceased member, it necessarily follows that she is not entitled as a primary beneficiary, to the
latters death benefit. x x x

xxxx

It having been determined that Teresita Jarque was not the legitimate surviving spouse and primary
beneficiary of Clemente Bailon, it behooves her to refund the total amount of death benefit she
received from the SSS for the period from February 1998 until May 1999 pursuant to the principle
of solutio indebiti x x x

Likewise, it appearing that she was not the one who actually defrayed the cost of the wake and
burial of Clemente Bailon, she must return the amount of P12,000.00 which was earlier given to her by the
SSS as funeral benefit.[33] (Underscoring supplied)

Respondents Motion for Reconsideration[34] having been denied by Order of June 4, 2003, she filed a petition for
review[35] before the Court of Appeals (CA).

By Decision of June 23, 2004, the CA reversed and set aside the April 2, 2003 Resolution and June 4, 2003 Order of
the SSC and thus ordered the SSS to pay respondent all the pension benefits due her. Held the CA:

x x x [T]he paramount concern in this case transcends the issue of whether or not the decision of
the then CFI, now RTC, declaring Alice Diaz presumptively dead has attained finality but, more
importantly, whether or not the respondents SSS and Commission can validly re-evaluate the findings of the
RTC, and on its own, declare the latters decision to be bereft of any basis. On similar import, can
respondents SSS and Commission validly declare the first marriage subsisting and the second marriage null
and void?

xxxx
x x x while it is true that a judgment declaring a person presumptively dead never attains finality as
the finding that the person is unheard of in seven years is merely a presumption juris tantum, the second
marriage contracted by a person with an absent spouse endures until annulled. It is only the competent
court that can nullify the second marriage pursuant to Article 87 of the Civil Code and upon the
reappearance of the missing spouse, which action for annulment may be filed. Nowhere does the law
contemplates [sic] the possibility that respondent SSS may validly declare the second marriage null and
void on the basis alone of its own investigation and declare that the decision of the RTC declaring one to be
presumptively dead is without basis.

Respondent SSS cannot arrogate upon itself the authority to review the decision of the
regular courts under the pretext of determining the actual and lawful beneficiaries of its
members. Notwithstanding its opinion as to the soundness of the findings of the RTC, it should extend due
credence to the decision of the RTC absent of [sic] any judicial pronouncement to the contrary. x x x

x x x [A]ssuming arguendo that respondent SSS actually possesses the authority to declare the
decision of the RTC to be without basis, the procedure it followed was offensive to the principle of fair play
and thus its findings are of doubtful quality considering that petitioner Teresita was not given ample
opportunity to present evidence for and her behalf.

xxxx

Respondent SSS is correct in stating that the filing of an Affidavit of Reappearance with the Civil
Registry is no longer practical under the premises. Indeed, there is no more first marriage to restore as the
marital bond between Alice Diaz and Clemente Bailon was already terminated upon the latters
death. Neither is there a second marriage to terminate because the second marriage was likewise dissolved
by the death of Clemente Bailon.

However, it is not correct to conclude that simply because the filing of the Affidavit of Reappearance
with the Civil Registry where parties to the subsequent marriage reside is already inutile, the respondent
SSS has now the authority to review the decision of the RTC and consequently declare the second marriage
null and void.[36] (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)

The SSC and the SSS separately filed their Motions for Reconsideration[37] which were both denied for lack of merit.

Hence, the SSS present petition for review on certiorari[38] anchored on the following grounds:

THE DECISION OF THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS IS CONTRARY TO LAW.

II

THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ABUSED ITS DISCRETION AMOUNTING TO LACK OF
JURISDICTION.[39]
The SSS faults the CA for failing to give due consideration to the findings of facts of the SSC on the prior and
subsisting marriage between Bailon and Alice; in disregarding the authority of the SSC to determine to whom, between Alice
and respondent, the death benefits should be awarded pursuant to Section 5[40] of the Social Security Law; and in declaring
that the SSS did not give respondent due process or ample opportunity to present evidence in her behalf.

The SSS submits that the observations and findings relative to the CFI proceedings are of no moment to the present
controversy, as the same may be considered only as obiter dicta in view of the SSCs finding of the existence of a prior and
subsisting marriage between Bailon and Alice by virtue of which Alice has a better right to the death benefits.[41]

The petition fails.

That the SSC is empowered to settle any dispute with respect to SSS coverage, benefits and contributions, there is
no doubt. In so exercising such power, however, it cannot review, much less reverse, decisions rendered by courts of law as
it did in the case at bar when it declared that the December 10, 1970 CFI Order was obtained through fraud and
subsequently disregarded the same, making its own findings with respect to the validity of Bailon and Alices marriage on the
one hand and the invalidity of Bailon and respondents marriage on the other.

In interfering with and passing upon the CFI Order, the SSC virtually acted as an appellate court. The law does not
give the SSC unfettered discretion to trifle with orders of regular courts in the exercise of its authority to determine the
beneficiaries of the SSS.

The two marriages involved herein having been solemnized prior to the effectivity on August 3, 1988 of the Family
Code, the applicable law to determine their validity is the Civil Code which was the law in effect at the time of their
celebration.[42]

Article 83 of the Civil Code[43] provides:

Art. 83. Any marriage subsequently contracted by any person during the lifetime of the first spouse
of such person with any person other than such first spouse shall be illegal and void from its performance,
unless:

(1) The first marriage was annulled or dissolved; or

(2) The first spouse had been absent for seven consecutive years at the time of the second
marriage without the spouse present having news of the absentee being alive, or if the absentee, though he
has been absent for less than seven years, is generally considered as dead and believed to be so by the
spouse present at the time of contracting such subsequent marriage, or if the absentee is presumed dead
according to Articles 390 and 391. The marriage so contracted shall be valid in any of the three cases
until declared null and void by a competent court. (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)

Under the foregoing provision of the Civil Code, a subsequent marriage contracted during the lifetime of the first
spouse is illegal and void ab initio unless the prior marriage is first annulled or dissolved or contracted under any of the
three exceptional circumstances. It bears noting that the marriage under any of these exceptional cases is deemed valid
until declared null and void by a competent court. It follows that the onus probandi in these cases rests on the party
assailing the second marriage.[44]

In the case at bar, as found by the CFI, Alice had been absent for 15 consecutive years[45] when Bailon sought the
declaration of her presumptive death, which judicial declaration was not even a requirement then for purposes of
remarriage.[46]

Eminent jurist Arturo M. Tolentino (now deceased) commented:

Where a person has entered into two successive marriages, a presumption arises in favor of the
validity of the second marriage, and the burden is on the party attacking the validity of the second marriage
to prove that the first marriage had not been dissolved; it is not enough to prove the first marriage, for it
must also be shown that it had not ended when the second marriage was contracted. The presumption in
favor of the innocence of the defendant from crime or wrong and of the legality of his second marriage, will
prevail over the presumption of the continuance of life of the first spouse or of the continuance of the marital
relation with such first spouse.[47] (Underscoring supplied)

Under the Civil Code, a subsequent marriage being voidable,[48] it is terminated by final judgment of annulment in
a case instituted by the absent spouse who reappears or by either of the spouses in the subsequent marriage.

Under the Family Code, no judicial proceeding to annul a subsequent marriage is necessary. Thus Article 42
thereof provides:

Art. 42. The subsequent marriage referred to in the preceding Article shall be automatically
terminated by the recording of the affidavit of reappearance of the absent spouse, unless there is a
judgment annulling the previous marriage or declaring it void ab initio.

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 subsequent marriage at the instance of any interested
person, with due notice to the spouses of the subsequent marriage and without prejudice to the fact
of reappearance being judicially determined in case such fact is disputed. (Emphasis and underscoring
supplied)

The termination of the subsequent marriage by affidavit provided by the above-quoted provision of the Family Code
does not preclude the filing of an action in court to prove the reappearance of the absentee and obtain a declaration of
dissolution or termination of the subsequent marriage.[49]

If the absentee reappears, but no step is taken to terminate the subsequent marriage, either by affidavit or by court
action, such absentees mere reappearance, even if made known to the spouses in the subsequent marriage, will not
terminate such marriage.[50] Since the second marriage has been contracted because of a presumption that the former
spouse is dead, such presumption continues inspite of the spouses physical reappearance, and by fiction of law, he or she
must still be regarded as legally an absentee until the subsequent marriage is terminated as provided by law.[51]
If the subsequent marriage is not terminated by registration of an affidavit of reappearance or by judicial
declaration but by death of either spouse as in the case at bar, Tolentino submits:

x x x [G]enerally if a subsequent marriage is dissolved by the death of either spouse, the effects of
dissolution of valid marriages shall arise. The good or bad faith of either spouse can no longer be raised,
because, as in annullable or voidable marriages, the marriage cannot be questioned except in a direct action
for annulment.[52] (Underscoring supplied)

Similarly, Lapuz v. Eufemio[53] instructs:

In fact, even if the bigamous marriage had not been void ab initio but only voidable under Article
83, paragraph 2, of the Civil Code, because the second marriage had been contracted with the first wife
having been an absentee for seven consecutive years, or when she had been generally believed dead,
still the action for annulment became extinguished as soon as one of the three persons involved had died,
as provided in Article 87, paragraph 2, of the Code, requiring that the action for annulment should be
brought during the lifetime of any one of the parties involved. And furthermore, the liquidation of
any conjugal partnership that might have resulted from such voidable marriage must be carried out in the
testate or intestate proceedings of the deceased spouse, as expressly provided in Section 2 of the Revised
Rule 73, and not in the annulment proceeding.[54] (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)

It bears reiterating that a voidable marriage cannot be assailed collaterally except in a direct
proceeding. Consequently, such marriages can be assailed only during the lifetime of the parties and not after the death of
either, in which case the parties and their offspring will be left as if the marriage had been perfectly valid. [55] Upon the death
of either, the marriage cannot be impeached, and is made good ab initio.[56]

In the case at bar, as no step was taken to nullify, in accordance with law, Bailons and respondents marriage prior to
the formers death in 1998, respondent is rightfully the dependent spouse-beneficiary of Bailon.

In light of the foregoing discussions, consideration of the other issues raised has been rendered unnecessary.

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED.

No costs.

SO ORDERED.
VALDEZ vs REPUBLIC, GR. No. 180863, September 8, 2009
DECISION

NACHURA, J.:

Before this Court is a Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court assailing the Decision of
the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Camiling, Tarlac dated November 12, 2007 dismissing petitioner Angelita Valdezs petition
for the declaration of presumptive death of her husband, Sofio Polborosa (Sofio).

The facts of the case are as follows:

Petitioner married Sofio on January 11, 1971 in Pateros, Rizal. On December 13, 1971, petitioner gave birth to the
spouses only child, Nancy. According to petitioner, she and Sofio argued constantly because the latter was unemployed and
did not bring home any money. In March 1972, Sofio left their conjugal dwelling. Petitioner and their child waited for him to
return but, finally, in May 1972, petitioner decided to go back to her parents home in Bancay 1st, Camiling, Tarlac. Three
years passed without any word from Sofio. In October 1975, Sofio showed up at Bancay 1st. He and petitioner talked for
several hours and they agreed to separate. They executed a document to that effect.[1]That was the last time petitioner saw
him. After that, petitioner didnt hear any news of Sofio, his whereabouts or even if he was alive or not.[2]

Believing that Sofio was already dead, petitioner married Virgilio Reyes on June 20, 1985.[3] Subsequently, however,
Virgilios application for naturalization filed with the United States Department of Homeland Security was denied because
petitioners marriage to Sofio was subsisting.[4] Hence, on March 29, 2007, petitioner filed a Petition before the RTC of
Camiling, Tarlac seeking the declaration of presumptive death of Sofio.

The RTC rendered its Decision[5] on November 12, 2007, dismissing the Petition for lack of merit. The RTC held that
Angelita was not able to prove the well-grounded belief that her husband Sofio Polborosa was already dead. It said that
under Article 41 of the Family Code, the present spouse is burdened to prove that her spouse has been absent and that she
has a well-founded belief that the absent spouse is already dead before the present spouse may contract a subsequent
marriage. This belief, the RTC said, must be the result of proper and honest-to-goodness inquiries and efforts to ascertain
the whereabouts of the absent spouse.

The RTC found that, by petitioners own admission, she did not try to find her husband anymore in light of their
mutual agreement to live separately. Likewise, petitioners daughter testified that her mother prevented her from looking for
her father. The RTC also said there is a strong possibility that Sofio is still alive, considering that he would have been only 61
years old by then, and people who have reached their 60s have not become increasingly low in health and spirits, and, even
assuming as true petitioners testimony that Sofio was a chain smoker and a drunkard, there is no evidence that he continues
to drink and smoke until now.

Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration.[6] She argued that it is the Civil Code that applies in this case and not
the Family Code since petitioners marriage to Sofio was celebrated on January 11, 1971, long before the Family Code took
effect. Petitioner further argued that she had acquired a vested right under the provisions of the Civil Code and the stricter
provisions of the Family Code should not be applied against her because Title XIV of the Civil Code, where Articles 384 and
390 on declaration of absence and presumption of death, respectively, can be found, was not expressly repealed by the
Family Code. To apply the stricter provisions of the Family Code will impair the rights petitioner had acquired under the Civil
Code.

The RTC denied the Motion for Reconsideration in a Resolution dated December 10, 2007.[7]

Petitioner now comes before this Court seeking the reversal of the RTC Decision and Motion for Reconsideration.

In its Manifestation and Motion,[8] the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) recommended that the Court set aside
the assailed RTC Decision and grant the Petition to declare Sofio presumptively dead. The OSG argues that the requirement
of well-founded belief under Article 41 of the Family Code is not applicable to the instant case. It said that petitioner could
not be expected to comply with this requirement because it was not yet in existence during her marriage to Virgilio Reyes in
1985. The OSG further argues that before the effectivity of the Family Code, petitioner already acquired a vested right as to
the validity of her marriage to Virgilio Reyes based on the presumed death of Sofio under the Civil Code. This vested right
and the presumption of Sofios death, the OSG posits, could not be affected by the obligations created under the Family
Code.[9]

Next, the OSG contends that Article 390 of the Civil Code was not repealed by Article 41 of the Family Code. [10] Title
XIV of the Civil Code, the OSG said, was not one of those expressly repealed by the Family Code. Moreover, Article 256 of
the Family Code provides that its provisions shall not be retroactively applied if they will prejudice or impair vested or
acquired rights.[11]

The RTC Decision, insofar as it dismissed the Petition, is affirmed. However, we must state that we are denying the
Petition on grounds different from those cited in the RTC Decision.

Initially, we discuss a procedural issue. Under the Rules of Court, a party may directly appeal to this Court from a
decision of the trial court only on pure questions of law. A question of law lies, on one hand, when the doubt or difference
arises as to what the law is on a certain set of facts; on the other hand, a question of fact exists when the doubt or difference
arises as to the truth or falsehood of the alleged facts. Here, the facts are not disputed; the controversy merely relates to the
correct application of the law or jurisprudence to the undisputed facts.[12]

The RTC erred in applying the provisions of the Family Code and holding that petitioner needed to prove a well-founded belief
that Sofio was already dead. The RTC applied Article 41 of the Family Code, to wit:

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

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

It is readily apparent, however, that the marriages of petitioner to Sofio and Virgilio on January 11, 1971 and June
20, 1985, respectively, were both celebrated under the auspices of the Civil Code.
The pertinent provision of the Civil Code is Article 83:

Art. 83. Any marriage subsequently contracted by any person during the lifetime of the first spouse of such
person with any person other than such first spouse shall be illegal and void from its performance, unless:

(1) The first marriage was annulled or dissolved; or

(2) The first spouse had been absent for seven consecutive years at the time of the second marriage without
the spouse present having news of the absentee being alive, of if the absentee, though he has been absent
for less than seven years, is generally considered as dead and believed to be so by the spouse present at
the time of contracting such subsequent marriage, or if the absentee is presumed dead according to Articles
390 and 391. The marriage so contracted shall be valid in any of the three cases until declared null and void
by a competent court.

Article 390 of the Civil Code states:


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

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

The Court, on several occasions, had interpreted the above-quoted provision in this wise:

For the purposes of the civil marriage law, it is not necessary to have the former spouse judicially declared
an absentee. The declaration of absence made in accordance with the provisions of the Civil Code has for its
sole purpose to enable the taking of the necessary precautions for the administration of the estate of the
absentee. For the celebration of civil marriage, however, the law only requires that the former spouse has
been absent for seven consecutive years at the time of the second marriage, that the spouse present does
not know his or her former spouse to be living, that such former spouse is generally reputed to be dead and
the spouse present so believes at the time of the celebration of the marriage.[13]

Further, the Court explained that presumption of death cannot be the subject of court proceedings independent of the
settlement of the absentees estate.

In re Szatraw[14] is instructive. In that case, petitioner contracted marriage with a Polish national in 1937. They lived
together as husband and wife for three years. Sometime in 1940, the husband, on the pretext of visiting some friends, left
the conjugal abode with their child and never returned. After inquiring from friends, petitioner found that her husband went
to Shanghai, China. However, friends who came from Shanghai told her that the husband was not seen there. In 1948,
petitioner filed a petition for the declaration of presumptive death of her husband arguing that since the latter had been
absent for more than seven years and she had not heard any news from him and about her child, she believes that he is
dead. In deciding the case, the Court said:

The petition is not for the settlement of the estate of Nicolai Szatraw, because it does not appear
that he possessed property brought to the marriage and because he had acquired no property during his
married life with the petitioner. The rule invoked by the latter is merely one of evidence which permits the
court to presume that a person is dead after the fact that such person had been unheard from in seven
years had been established. This presumption may arise and be invoked and made in a case, either in an
action or in a special proceeding, which is tried or heard by, and submitted for decision to, a competent
court. Independently of such an action or special proceeding, the presumption of death cannot be
invoked, nor can it be made the subject of an action or special proceeding. In this case, there is no
right to be enforced nor is there a remedy prayed for by the petitioner against her absent husband. Neither
is there a prayer for the final determination of his right or status or for the ascertainment of a particular fact
(Hagans v. Wislizenus, 42 Phil. 880), for the petition does not pray for a declaration that the petitioner's
husband is dead, but merely asks for a declaration that he be presumed dead because he had been unheard
from in seven years. If there is any pretense at securing a declaration that the petitioner's husband is dead,
such a pretension cannot be granted because it is unauthorized. The petition is for a declaration that the
petitioner's husband is presumptively dead. But this declaration, even if judicially made, would not improve
the petitioner's situation, because such a presumption is already established by law. A judicial
pronouncement to that effect, even if final and executory, would still be a prima facie
presumption only. It is still disputable. It is for that reason that it cannot be the subject of a
judicial pronouncement or declaration, if it is the only question or matter involved in a case, or
upon which a competent court has to pass. The latter must decide finally the controversy between the
parties, or determine finally the right or status of a party or establish finally a particular fact, out of which
certain rights and obligations arise or may arise; and once such controversy is decided by a final judgment,
or such right or status determined, or such particular fact established, by a final decree, then the judgment
on the subject of the controversy, or the decree upon the right or status of a party or upon the existence of
a particular fact, becomes res judicata, subject to no collateral attack, except in a few rare instances
especially provided by law. It is, therefore, clear that a judicial declaration that a person is
presumptively dead, because he had been unheard from in seven years, being a
presumption juris tantum only, subject to contrary proof, cannot reach the stage of finality or
become final. Proof of actual death of the person presumed dead because he had been unheard from in
seven years, would have to be made in another proceeding to have such particular fact finally determined. If
a judicial decree declaring a person presumptively dead, because he had not been heard from in seven
years, cannot become final and executory even after the lapse of the reglementary period within which an
appeal may be taken, for such presumption is still disputable and remains subject to contrary proof, then a
petition for such a declaration is useless, unnecessary, superfluous and of no benefit to the petitioner.[15]

In Lukban v. Republic,[16] petitioner Lourdes G. Lukban contracted marriage with Francisco Chuidian on December
10, 1933. A few days later, on December 27, Francisco left Lourdes after a violent quarrel. She did not hear from him after
that day. Her diligent search, inquiries from his parents and friends, and search in his last known address, proved futile.
Believing her husband was already dead since he had been absent for more than twenty years, petitioner filed a petition in
1956 for a declaration that she is a widow of her husband who is presumed to be dead and has no legal impediment to
contract a subsequent marriage. On the other hand, the antecedents in Gue v. Republic[17] are similar to Szatraw. On
January 5, 1946, Angelina Gues husband left Manila where they were residing and went to Shanghai, China. From that day
on, he had not been heard of, had not written to her, nor in anyway communicated with her as to his whereabouts. Despite
her efforts and diligence, she failed to locate him. After 11 years, she asked the court for a declaration of the presumption of
death of Willian Gue, pursuant to the provisions of Article 390 of the Civil Code of the Philippines.

In both cases, the Court reiterated its ruling in Szatraw. It held that a petition for judicial declaration that petitioner's
husband is presumed to be dead cannot be entertained because it is not authorized by law.[18]

From the foregoing, it can be gleaned that, under the Civil Code, the presumption of death is established by
law[19]
and no court declaration is needed for the presumption to arise. Since death is presumed to have taken place by the
seventh year of absence,[20] Sofio is to be presumed dead starting October 1982.

Consequently, at the time of petitioners marriage to Virgilio, there existed no impediment to petitioners capacity to
marry, and the marriage is valid under paragraph 2 of Article 83 of the Civil Code.

Further, considering that it is the Civil Code that applies, proof of well-founded belief is not required. Petitioner could
not have been expected to comply with this requirement since the Family Code was not yet in effect at the time of her
marriage to Virgilio. The enactment of the Family Code in 1988 does not change this conclusion. The Family Code itself
states:

Art. 256. This Code shall have retroactive effect insofar as it does not prejudice or impair vested or acquired
rights in accordance with the Civil Code or other laws.

To retroactively apply the provisions of the Family Code requiring petitioner to exhibit well-founded belief will,
ultimately, result in the invalidation of her second marriage, which was valid at the time it was celebrated. Such a situation
would be untenable and would go against the objectives that the Family Code wishes to achieve.

In sum, we hold that the Petition must be dismissed since no decree on the presumption of Sofios death can be granted
under the Civil Code, the same presumption having arisen by operation of law. However, we declare that petitioner was
capacitated to marry Virgilio at the time their marriage was celebrated in 1985 and, therefore, the said marriage is legal and
valid.

WHEREFORE, the foregoing premises considered, the Petition is DENIED.

SO ORDERED.
Article 36
MARCOS vs MARCOS, GR. No. 136490, October 19, 2000

DECISION

PANGANIBAN, J.:

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

The Case

Before us is a Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, assailing the July 24, 1998
Decision[1] of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-GR CV No. 55588, which disposed as follows:

"WHEREFORE, the contested decision is set aside and the marriage between the parties is hereby declared valid."[2]

Also challenged by petitioner is the December 3, 1998 CA Resolution denying her Motion for Reconsideration.
Earlier, the Regional Trial Court (RTC) had ruled thus:

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

The Facts

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

"It was established during the trial that the parties were married twice: (1) on September 6, 1982 which was solemnized by
Judge Eriberto H. Espiritu at the Municipal Court of Pasig (Exh. A); and (2) on May 8, 1983 which was solemnized by Rev.
Eduardo L. Eleazar,Command Chaplain, at the Presidential Security Command Chapel in Malacaang Park, Manila (Exh. A-
1). Out of their marriage, five (5) children were born (Exhs. B, C, D, E and F).
"Appellant Wilson G. Marcos joined the Armed Forces of the Philippines in 1973. Later on, he was transferred to the
Presidential Security Command in Malacaang during the Marcos Regime. Appellee Brenda B. Marcos, on the other hand,
joined the Women's Auxilliary Corps under the Philippine Air Force in 1978. After the Edsa Revolution, both of them sought a
discharge from the military service.
"They first met sometime in 1980 when both of them were assigned at the Malacaang Palace, she as an escort of Imee
Marcos and he as a Presidential Guard of President Ferdinand Marcos. Through telephone conversations, they became
acquainted and eventually became sweethearts.
"After their marriage on September 6, 1982, they resided at No. 1702 Daisy Street, Hulo Bliss, Mandaluyong, a housing unit
which she acquired from the Bliss Development Corporation when she was still single.
"After the downfall of President Marcos, he left the military service in 1987 and then engaged in different business ventures
that did not however prosper. As a wife, she always urged him to look for work so that their children would see him, instead
of her, as the head of the family and a good provider. Due to his failure to engage in any gainful employment, they would
often quarrel and as a consequence, he would hit and beat her. He would even force her to have sex with him despite her
weariness. He would also inflict physical harm on their children for a slight mistake and was so severe in the way he
chastised them. Thus, for several times during their cohabitation, he would leave their house. In 1992, they were already
living separately.
"All the while, she was engrossed in the business of selling "magic uling" and chickens. While she was still in the military, she
would first make deliveries early in the morning before going to Malacaang. When she was discharged from the military
service, she concentrated on her business. Then, she became a supplier in the Armed Forces of the Philippines until she was
able to put up a trading and construction company, NS Ness Trading and Construction Development Corporation.
"The 'straw that broke the camel's back' took place on October 16, 1994, when they had a bitter quarrel. As they were
already living separately, she did not want him to stay in their house anymore. On that day, when she saw him in their
house, she was so angry that she lambasted him. He then turned violent, inflicting physical harm on her and even on her
mother who came to her aid. The following day, October 17, 1994, she and their children left the house and sought refuge in
her sister's house.
"On October 19, 1994, she submitted herself [to] medical examination at the Mandaluyong Medical Center where her injuries
were diagnosed as contusions (Exh. G, Records, 153).
"Sometime in August 1995, she together with her two sisters and driver, went to him at the Bliss unit in Mandaluyong to look
for their missing child, Niko. Upon seeing them, he got mad. After knowing the reason for their unexpected presence, he ran
after them with a samurai and even [beat] her driver.
"At the time of the filing of this case, she and their children were renting a house in Camella, Paraaque, while the appellant
was residing at the Bliss unit in Mandaluyong.
"In the case study conducted by Social Worker Sonia C. Millan, the children described their father as cruel and physically
abusive to them (Exh. UU, Records, pp. 85-100).
"The appellee submitted herself to psychologist Natividad A. Dayan, Ph.D., for psychological evaluation (Exh. YY, Records,
pp. 207-216), while the appellant on the other hand, did not.
"The court a quo found the appellant to be psychologically incapacitated to perform his marital obligations mainly because of
his failure to find work to support his family and his violent attitude towards appellee and their children, x x x."[3]

Ruling of the Court of Appeals

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

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

Hence, this Petition.[5]

Issues

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

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

The Court's Ruling

We agree with petitioner that the personal medical or psychological examination of respondent is not a requirement for
a declaration of psychological incapacity. Nevertheless, the totality of the evidence she presented does not show such
incapacity.

Preliminary Issue: Need for Personal Medical Examination

Petitioner contends that the testimonies and the results of various tests that were submitted to determine respondent's
psychological incapacity to perform the obligations of marriage should not have been brushed aside by the Court of Appeals,
simply because respondent had not taken those tests himself. Petitioner adds that the CA should have realized that under the
circumstances, she had no choice but to rely on other sources of information in order to determine the psychological capacity
of respondent, who had refused to submit himself to such tests.
In Republic v. CA and Molina,[8] the guidelines governing the application and the interpretation of psychological
incapacity referred to in Article 36 of the Family Code[9] were laid down by this Court as follows:

"1) The burden of proof to show the nullity of the marriage belongs to the plaintiff. Any doubt should be resolved in
favor of the existence and continuation of the marriage and against its dissolution and nullity. This is rooted in
the fact that both our Constitution and our laws cherish the validity of marriage and unity of the family. Thus,
our Constitution devotes an entire Article on the Family, recognizing it 'as the foundation of the nation.' It
decrees marriage as legally 'inviolable,' thereby protecting it from dissolution at the whim of the parties. Both
the family and marriage are to be 'protected' by the state.

xxxxxxxxx

2) The root cause of the psychological incapacity must be: (a) medically or clinically identified, (b) alleged in the
complaint, (c) sufficiently proven by experts and (d) clearly explained in the decision. Article 36 of the Family
Code requires that the incapacity must be psychological - not physical, although its manifestations and/or
symptoms may be physical. The evidence must convince the court that the parties, or one of them, was
mentally or psychically ill to such an extent that the person could not have known the obligations he was
assuming, or knowing them, could not have given valid assumption thereof. Although no example of such
incapacity need be given here so as not to limit the application of the provision under the principle of ejusdem
generis, nevertheless such root cause must be identified as a psychological illness and its incapacitating nature
fully explained. Expert evidence may be given by qualified psychiatrists and clinical psychologists.
3) The incapacity must be proven to be existing at 'the time of the celebration' of the marriage. The evidence must
show that the illness was existing when the parties exchanged their 'I do's.' The manifestation of the illness
need not be perceivable at such time, but the illness itself must have attached at such moment, or prior
thereto.
4) Such incapacity must also be shown to be medically or clinically permanent or incurable. Such incurability may
be absolute or even relative only in regard to the other spouse, not necessarily absolutely against everyone of
the same sex. Furthermore, such incapacity must be relevant to the assumption of marriage obligations, not
necessarily to those not related to marriage, like the exercise of a profession or employment in a job. Hence, a
pediatrician may be effective in diagnosing illnesses of children and prescribing medicine to cure them but not
be psychologically capacitated to procreate, bear and raise his/her own children as an essential obligation of
marriage.
5) Such illness must be grave enough to bring about the disability of the party to assume the essential obligations
of marriage. Thus, 'mild characteriological peculiarities, mood changes, occasional emotional outbursts cannot
be accepted as root causes. The illness must be shown as downright incapacity or inability, not a refusal,
neglect or difficulty, much less ill will. In other words, there is a natal or supervening disabling factor in the
person, an adverse integral element in the personality structure that effectively incapacitates the person from
really accepting and thereby complying with the obligations essential to marriage.
6) The essential marital obligations must be those embraced by Articles 68 up to 71 of the Family Code as regards
the husband and wife as well as Articles 220, 221 and 225 of the same Code in regard to parents and their
children. Such non-complied marital obligation(s) must also be stated in the petition, proven by evidence and
included in the text of the decision.
7) Interpretations given by the National Appellate Matrimonial Tribunal of the Catholic Church in the Philippines,
while not controlling or decisive, should be given great respect by our courts.

xxxxxxxxx

(8) The trial court must order the prosecuting attorney or fiscal and the Solicitor General to appear as counsel for
the state. No decision shall be handed down unless the Solicitor General issues a certification, which will be
quoted in the decision, briefly stating therein his reasons for his agreement or opposition, as the case may be,
to the petition. The Solicitor General, along with the prosecuting attorney, shall submit to the court such
certification within fifteen (15) days from the date the case is deemed submitted for resolution of the court. The
Solicitor General shall discharge the equivalent function of the defensor vinculi contemplated under Canon
1095."[10]
The guidelines incorporate the three basic requirements earlier mandated by the Court in Santos v. Court of
Appeals:[11] "psychological incapacity must be characterized by (a) gravity (b) juridical antecedence, and (c) incurability."
The foregoing guidelines do not require that a physician examine the person to be declared psychologically incapacitated. In
fact, the root cause may be "medically or clinically identified." What is important is the presence of evidence that can
adequately establish the party's psychological condition. For indeed, if the totality of evidence presented is enough to sustain
a finding of psychological incapacity, then actual medical examination of the person concerned need not be resorted to.

Main Issue: Totality of Evidence Presented

The main question, then, is whether the totality of the evidence presented in the present case -- including the
testimonies of petitioner, the common children, petitioner's sister and the social worker -- was enough to sustain a finding
that respondent was psychologically incapacitated.
We rule in the negative. Although this Court is sufficiently convinced that respondent failed to provide material support
to the family and may have resorted to physical abuse and abandonment, the totality of his acts does not lead to a
conclusion of psychological incapacity on his part. There is absolutely no showing that his "defects" were already present at
the inception of the marriage or that they are incurable.
Verily, the behavior of respondent can be attributed to the fact that he had lost his job and was not gainfully employed
for a period of more than six years. It was during this period that he became intermittently drunk, failed to give material and
moral support, and even left the family home.
Thus, his alleged psychological illness was traced only to said period and not to the inception of the marriage. Equally
important, there is no evidence showing that his condition is incurable, especially now that he is gainfully employed as a taxi
driver.
Article 36 of the Family Code, we stress, is not to be confused with a divorce law that cuts the marital bond at the time
the causes therefor manifest themselves. It refers to a serious psychological illness afflicting a party even before the
celebration of the marriage. It is a malady so grave and so permanent as to deprive one of awareness of the duties and
responsibilities of the matrimonial bond one is about to assume. These marital obligations are those provided under Articles
68 to 71, 220, 221 and 225 of the Family Code.
Neither is Article 36 to be equated with legal separation, in which the grounds need not be rooted in psychological
incapacity but on physical violence, moral pressure, moral corruption, civil interdiction, drug addiction, habitual alcoholism,
sexual infidelity, abandonment and the like.[12] At best, the evidence presented by petitioner refers only to grounds for legal
separation, not for declaring a marriage void.
Because Article 36 has been abused as a convenient divorce law, this Court laid down the procedural requirements for
its invocation in Molina. Petitioner, however, has not faithfully observed them.
In sum, this Court cannot declare the dissolution of the marriage for failure of petitioner to show that the alleged
psychological incapacity is characterized by gravity, juridical antecedence and incurability; and for her failure to observe the
guidelines outlined in Molina.
WHEREFORE, the Petition is DENIED and assailed Decision AFFIRMED, except that portion requiring personal medical
examination as a conditio sine qua non to a finding of psychological incapacity. No costs.

SO ORDERED.
GLENN VINAS vs MARY GRACE PAREL-VINAS, GR. No. 208790; January 21, 2015

RESOLUTION
REYES, J.:

For review is the Decision[1] rendered on January 29, 2013 and Resolution[2] issued on August 7, 2013 by the Court of
Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CV No. 96448. The CA set aside the Decision[3] dated January 29, 2010 of the Regional Trial Court
(RTC) of San Pablo City, Branch 30, in Civil Case No. SP-6564(09), which declared the marriage between Glenn Viñas
(Glenn) and Mary Grace Parel-Viñas (Mary Grace) as null and void.

Antecedents

On April 26, 1999, Glenn and Mary Grace, then 25 and 23 years old, respectively, got married in civil rites held in Lipa City,
Batangas.[4]Mary Grace was already pregnant then. The infant, however, died at birth due to weakness and malnourishment.
Glenn alleged that the infant's death was caused by Mary Grace's heavy drinking and smoking during her pregnancy.

The couple lived together under one roof. Glenn worked as a bartender, while Mary Grace was a production engineer.

Sometime in March of 2006, Mary Grace left the home which she shared with Glenn. Glenn subsequently found out that Mary
Grace went to work in Dubai. At the time the instant petition was filed, Mary Grace had not returned yet.

On February 18, 2009, Glenn filed a Petition[5] for the declaration of nullity of his marriage with Mary Grace. He alleged that
Mary Grace was insecure, extremely jealous, outgoing and prone to regularly resorting to any pretext to be able to leave the
house. She thoroughly enjoyed the night life, and drank and smoked heavily even when she was pregnant. Further, Mary
Grace refused to perform even the most essential household chores of cleaning and cooking. According to Glenn, Mary Grace
had not exhibited the foregoing traits and behavior during their whirlwind courtship.[6]

Glenn likewise alleged that Mary Grace was not remorseful about the death of the infant whom she delivered. She lived as if
she were single and was unmindful of her husband's needs. She was self-centered, selfish and immature. When Glenn
confronted her about her behavior, she showed indifference. She eventually left their home without informing Glenn. Glenn
later found out that she left for an overseas employment in Dubai.[7]

Before Glenn decided to file a petition for the declaration of nullity of his marriage with Mary Grace, he consulted the latter's
friends. They informed him that Mary Grace came from a broken family and was left to be cared for by her aunts and
nannies. The foregoing circumstance must have contributed to her sense of insecurity and difficulty in adjusting to married
life.[8]

To ease their marital problems, Glenn sought professional guidance and submitted himself to a psychological evaluation by
Clinical Psychologist Nedy Tayag (Dr. Tayag). Dr. Tayag found him as "amply aware of his marital roles" and "capable of
maintaining a mature and healthy heterosexual relationship."[9]

On the other hand, Dr. Tayag assessed Mary Grace's personality through the data she had gathered from Glenn and his
cousin, Rodelito Mayo (Rodelito), who knew Mary Grace way back in college.

Mary Grace is the eldest among four siblings. She is a college graduate. She belongs to a middle class family. Her father is
an overseas contract worker, while her mother is a housewife. At the time Dr. Tayag prepared her report, Mary Grace was
employed in Dubai and romantically involved with another man.[10]

According to Rodelito, Mary Grace verbally abused and physically harmed Glenn during the couple's fights. Mary Grace is also
ill-tempered and carefree, while Glenn is jolly, kind and family-oriented.[11]

Dr. Tayag diagnosed Mary Grace to be suffering from a Narcissistic Personality Disorder with anti-social traits. Dr. Tayag
concluded that Mary Grace and Glenn's relationship is not founded on mutual love, trust, respect, commitment and fidelity to
each other. Hence, Dr. Tayag recommended the propriety of declaring the nullity of the couple's marriage.[12]

In drawing her conclusions, Dr. Tayag explained that:

The said disorder [of Mary Grace] is considered to be severe, serious, grave, permanent and chronic in proportion and is
incurable by any form of clinical intervention. It has already been deeply embedded within her system as it was found to
have started as early as her childhood years. Because of such, it has caused her to be inflexible, maladaptive and
functionally[-]impaired especially with regards to heterosexual dealings.

Such disorder of [Mary Grace] is mainly characterized by grandiosity, need for admiration and lack of empathy[,] along with
her pattern of disregard for and violation of the rights of others[,] which utterly distorted her perceptions and views
especially in terms of a fitting marital relationship. Such disorder manifested in [Mary Grace] through her unrelenting apathy,
sense of entitlement and arrogance. Throughout her union with [Glenn], she has exhibited a heightened sense of self as seen
in her marked inability to show proper respect for her husband. x x x She is too headstrong that most of the time[,] she
would do things her own way and would not pay close attention to what her husband needed. She had been a wife who
constantly struggled for power and dominance in their relationship and [Glenn], being too considerate to her, was often
subjected to her control. x x x She is into many vices and loved hanging out with her friends at night[,] and she even got
involved in an illicit relationship[,] which was still going on up to the present time. x x x.

The root cause of [Mary Grace's] personality aberration can be said to have emanated from the various forms of unfavorable
factors in her milieu way back as early as her childhood years[,] which is the crucial stage in the life of a person as this is the
time when the individual's character and behavior are shaped. [Mary Grace] came from a dysfunctional family with lenient
and tolerating parents[,] who never impose any restrictions [upon] their children. Considering such fact, she apparently
failed to feel the love and affection of the nurturing figures that she had[,] who were supposed to be the first to show
concern [for] her. x x x She has acquired a domineering character as she was not taught to have boundaries in her actions
because of the laxity she had from her caregivers and also because she grew up to be the eldest in the brood. She sees to it
that she is the one always followed with regards to making decisions and always mandates people to submit to her wishes.
She has not acquired the very essence of morality [and] has certainly learned set of unconstructive traits that further made
her too futile to assume mature roles. Morals and values were not instilled in her young mind that as she went on with her
life, she never learned to restrain herself from doing ill-advised things even if she is amply aware of the depravity of her
actions.

The psychological incapacity of [Mary Grace] is of a juridical antecedence as it was already in her system even prior to the
solemnization of her marriage with [Glenn]. x x x.[13] (Underlining ours)
On February 18, 2009, Glenn filed before the RTC a Petition for the Declaration of Nullity of his marriage with Mary Grace.
Substituted service of summons was made upon Mary Grace through her aunt, Susana Rosita.[14] Mary Grace filed no answer
and did not attend any of the proceedings before the RTC.

During the trial, the testimonies of Glenn, Dr. Tayag and Rodelito were offered as evidence. Glenn and Rodelito described
Mary Grace as outgoing, carefree, and irresponsible. She is the exact opposite of Glenn, who is conservative and preoccupied
with his work.[15] On her part, Dr. Tayag reiterated her findings in the psychological report dated December 29, 2008.

Ruling of the RTC

On January 29, 2010, the RTC rendered its Decision[16] declaring the marriage between Glenn and Mary Grace as null and
void on account of the latter's psychological incapacity. The RTC cited the following as grounds:

The totality of the evidence presented by [Glenn] warrants [the] grant of the petition.

Reconciliation between the parties under the circumstances is nil. For the best interest of the parties, it is best that the legal
bond between them be severed.

The testimonies of [Glenn] and his witness [Rodelito] portray the miserable life [Glenn] had with [Mary Grace] who is a
Narcissistic Personality Disordered person with anti[-]social traits and who does not treat him as her husband. [Glenn] and
[Mary Grace] are separated in fact since the year 2006. [Mary Grace] abandoned [Glenn] without telling the latter where to
go. x x x Had it not for the insistence of [Glenn] that he would not know the whereabouts of his wife. The law provides that
[a] husband and [a] wife are obliged to live together, [and] observe mutual love, respect and fidelity. x x x For all intents
and purposes, however, [Mary Grace] was in a quandary on what it really means. x x x.

From the testimony of [Glenn], it was established that [Mary Grace] failed to comply with the basic marital obligations of
mutual love, respect, mutual help and support. [Glenn] tried his best to have their marriage saved but [Mary Grace] did not
cooperate with him. [Mary Grace] is x x x, unmindful of her marital obligations.

The Court has no reason to doubt the testimony of [Dr. Tayag], a clinical psychologist with sufficient authority to speak on
the subject of psychological incapacity. She examined [Glenn], and was able to gather sufficient data and information about
[Mary Grace]. x x x This [Narcissistic] personality disorder of [Mary Grace] is ingrained in her personality make-up, so grave
and so permanent, incurable and difficult to treat. It is conclusive that this personal incapacity leading to psychological
incapacity is already pre-existing before the marriage and was only manifested after. It has become grave, permanent and
incurable.[17] (Underlining ours and italics in the original)
The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) moved for reconsideration but it was denied by the RTC in its Order[18] dated
December 1, 2010.

The Appeal of the OSG and the Ruling of the CA

On appeal before the CA, the OSG claimed that no competent evidence exist proving that Mary Grace indeed suffers from a
Narcissistic Personality Disorder, which prevents her from fulfilling her marital obligations. Specifically, the RTC decision
failed to cite the root cause of Mary Grace's disorder. Further, the RTC did not state its own findings and merely relied on Dr.
Tayag's statements anent the gravity and incurability of Mary Grace's condition. The RTC resorted to mere generalizations
and conclusions sans details. Besides, what psychological incapacity contemplates is downright incapacity to assume marital
obligations. In the instant case, irreconcilable differences, sexual infidelity, emotional immaturity and irresponsibility were
shown, but these do not warrant the grant of Glenn's petition. Mary Grace may be unwilling to assume her marital duties,
but this does not translate into a psychological illness.[19]
Glenn, on the other hand, sought the dismissal of the OSG's appeal.

On January 29, 2013, the CA rendered the herein assailed decision reversing the RTC ruling and declaring the marriage
between Glenn and Mary Grace as valid and subsisting. The CA stated the reasons below:

In Santos vs. Court of Appeals, the Supreme Court held that "psychological incapacity" should refer to no less than a mental
(not physical) incapacity that causes a party to be truly incognitive of the basic marital covenants that concomitantly must be
assumed and discharged by the parties to the marriage which, as so expressed by Article 68 of the Family Code, include their
mutual obligations to live together, observe love, respect and fidelity and render help and support. There is hardly any doubt
that the intendment of the law has been to confine the meaning of "psychological incapacity" to the most serious cases of
personality disorders clearly demonstrative of an utter insensitivity or inability to give meaning and significance to the
marriage. This psychological condition must exist at the time the marriage is celebrated. The psychological condition must be
characterized by (a) gravity, (b) juridical antecedence, and (c) incurability.

In the instant case, [Glenn] tried to prove that [Mary Grace] was carefree, outgoing, immature, and irresponsible which
made her unable to perform the essential obligations of marriage. He likewise alleged that she refused to communicate with
him to save the marriage and eventually left him to work abroad. To Our mind, the above actuations of [Mary Grace] do not
make out a case of psychological incapacity on her part.

While it is true that [Glenn's] testimony was corroborated by [Dr. Tayag], a psychologist who conducted a psychological
examination on [Glenn], however, said examination was conducted only on him and no evidence was shown that the
psychological incapacity of [Mary Grace] was characterized by gravity, juridical antecedence, and incurability.

Certainly, the opinion of a psychologist would be of persuasive value in determining the psychological incapacity of a person
as she would be in the best position to assess and evaluate the psychological condition of the couple, she being an expert in
this field of study of behavior. Although the psychologist stated that respondent was suffering from Narcissistic Personality
Disorder, she did not fully explain the root cause of the disorder nor did she make a conclusion as to its gravity or
permanence. Moreover, she admitted that she was not able to examine the respondent[,] hence, the information provided to
her may be subjective and self-serving.

Essential in this petition is the allegation of the root cause of the spouse's psychological incapacity which should also
be medically or clinically identified, sufficiently proven by experts and clearly explained in the decision. The incapacity
must be proven to be existing at the time of the celebration of the marriage and shown to be medically or clinically
permanent or incurable. It must also be grave enough to bring about the disability of the parties to assume the essential
obligations of marriage as set forth in Articles 68 to 71 and Articles 220 to 225 of the Family Code and such non-complied
marital obligations must similarly be alleged in the petition, established by evidence and explained in the decision.

Unfortunately for [Glenn], the expert testimony of his witness did not establish the root cause of the psychological incapacity
of [Mary Grace] nor was such ground alleged in the complaint. We reiterate the ruling of the Supreme Court on this score, to
wit: the root cause of the psychological incapacity must be: a) medically or clinically identified; b) alleged in the complaint;
c) sufficiently proven by experts; and d) clearly explained in the decision.

Discoursing on this issue, the Supreme Court, in Republic of the Philippines vs. Court of Appeals and Molina, has this to say:

"Article 36 of the Family Code requires that the incapacity must be psychological not physical, although its manifestations
and/or symptoms may be physical. The evidence must convince the court that the parties, or one of them, was mentally or
physically ill to such an extent that the person could not have known the obligations he was assuming, or knowing them,
could not have given valid assumption thereof. Although no example of such incapacity need be given here so as not to limit
the application of the provision under the principle of ejusdem generis x x x[,] nevertheless[,] such root cause must be
identified as a psychological illness and its incapacitating nature fully explained. Expert evidence may be given by qualified
psychiatrists and clinical psychologists."
The Supreme Court further went on to proclaim, that "Article 36 of the Family Code is not to be confused with a divorce law
that cuts the marital bond at the time the causes therefore manifest themselves". It refers to a serious psychological
illness afflicting a party even before the celebration of the marriage. It is a malady so grave and permanent as to
deprive one of awareness of the duties and responsibilities of the matrimonial bond one is about to assume." Psychological
incapacity should refer to no less than a mental (not physical) incapacity that causes a party to be truly incognitive of the
basic marital covenants that concomitantly must be assumed and discharged by the parties to the marriage.

From the foregoing, We cannot declare the dissolution of the marriage of the parties for the obvious failure of [Glenn] to
show that the alleged psychological incapacity of [Mary Grace] is characterized by gravity, juridical antecedence and
incurability; and for his failure to observe the guidelines outlined in the afore-cited cases.

Verily, the burden of proof to show the nullity of the marriage belongs to [Glenn]. Any doubt should be resolved in favor of
the existence and continuation of the marriage and against its dissolution and nullity. This is rooted from the fact that both
our Constitution and our laws cherish the validity of marriage and unity of the family.[20] (Citations omitted, underlining ours
and emphasis and italics in the original)
The CA, through the herein assailed Resolution[21] dated August 7, 2013, denied the Motion for Reconsideration[22] filed by
Glenn.

Issue

Unperturbed, Glenn now raises before this Court the issue of whether or not sufficient evidence exist justifying the RTC's
declaration of nullity of his marriage with Mary Grace.

In support thereof, Glenn points out that each petition for the declaration of nullity of marriage should be judged according to
its own set of facts, and not on the basis of assumptions, predilections or generalizations. The RTC judge should
painstakingly examine the factual milieu, while the CA must refrain from substituting its own judgment for that of the trial
court.[23] Further, Glenn argues that in Marcos v. Marcos,[24] the Court ruled that it is not a sine qua non requirement for the
respondent spouse to be personally examined by a physician or psychologist before a marriage could be declared as a
nullity.[25] However, if the opinion of an expert is sought, his or her testimony should be considered as decisive
evidence.[26] Besides, the findings of the trial court regarding the credibility of the witnesses should be respected.[27]

In seeking the denial of the instant petition, the OSG emphasizes that the arguments Glenn raise for our consideration are
mere reiterations of the matters already resolved by the CA.[28]

Ruling of the Court

The instant petition lacks merit.

The lack of personal examination or assessment of the respondent by a psychologist or psychiatrist is not necessarily fatal in
a petition for the declaration of nullity of marriage. "If the totality of evidence presented is enough to sustain a finding of
psychological incapacity, then actual medical examination of the person concerned need not be resorted to."[29]

In the instant petition, however, the cumulative testimonies of Glenn, Dr. Tayag and Rodelito, and the documentary evidence
offered do not sufficiently prove the root cause, gravity and incurability of Mary Grace's condition. The evidence merely
shows that Mary Grace is outgoing, strong-willed and not inclined to perform household chores. Further, she is employed in
Dubai and is romantically-involved with another man. She has not been maintaining lines of communication with Glenn at the
time the latter filed the petition before the RTC. Glenn, on the other hand, is conservative, family-oriented and is the exact
opposite of Mary Grace. While Glenn and Mary Grace possess incompatible personalities, the latter's acts and traits do not
necessarily indicate psychological incapacity. Rumbaua v. Rumbaua[30] is emphatic that:

In Bier v. Bier, we ruled that it was not enough that respondent, alleged to be psychologically incapacitated, had difficulty in
complying with his marital obligations, or was unwilling to perform these obligations. Proof of a natal or supervening
disabling factor an adverse integral element in the respondent's personality structure that effectively incapacitated him from
complying with his essential marital obligations had to be shown and was not shown in this cited case.

In the present case, the respondent's stubborn refusal to cohabit with the petitioner was doubtlessly irresponsible, but it was
never proven to be rooted in some psychological illness. x x x Likewise, the respondent's act of living with another woman
four years into the marriage cannot automatically be equated with a psychological disorder, especially when no specific
evidence was shown that promiscuity was a trait already existing at the inception of marriage. In fact, petitioner herself
admitted that respondent was caring and faithful when they were going steady and for a time after their marriage; their
problems only came in later.

x x x To use the words of Navales v. Navales:

Article 36 contemplates downright incapacity or inability to take cognizance of and to assume basic marital obligations. Mere
"difficulty," "refusal" or "neglect" in the performance of marital obligations or "ill will" on the part of the spouse is different
from "incapacity" rooted on some debilitating psychological condition or illness. Indeed, irreconcilable differences,
sexual infidelity or perversion, emotional immaturity and irresponsibility, and the like, do not by themselves
warrant a finding of psychological incapacity under Article 36, as the same may only be due to a person's refusal
or unwillingness to assume the essential obligations of marriage and not due to some psychological illness that
is contemplated by said rule.[31] (Citations omitted, underlining ours and emphasis in the original)
It is worth noting that Glenn and Mary Grace lived with each other for more or less seven years from 1999 to 2006. The
foregoing established fact shows that living together as spouses under one roof is not an impossibility. Mary Grace's
departure from their home in 2006 indicates either a refusal or mere difficulty, but not absolute inability to comply with her
obligation to live with her husband.

Further, considering that Mary Grace was not personally examined by Dr. Tayag, there arose a greater burden to present
more convincing evidence to prove the gravity, juridical antecedence and incurability of the former's condition. Glenn,
however, failed in this respect. Glenn's testimony is wanting in material details. Rodelito, on the other hand, is a blood
relative of Glenn. Glenn's statements are hardly objective. Moreover, Glenn and Rodelito both referred to Mary Grace's traits
and acts, which she exhibited during the marriage. Hence, there is nary a proof on the antecedence of Mary Grace's alleged
incapacity. Glenn even testified that, six months before they got married, they saw each other almost everyday.[32] Glenn
saw "a loving[,] caring and well[-]educated person"[33] in Mary Grace.

Anent Dr. Tayag's assessment of Mary Grace's condition, the Court finds the same as unfounded. Rumbaua[34] provides some
guidelines on how the courts should evaluate the testimonies of psychologists or psychiatrists in petitions for the declaration
of nullity of marriage, viz:

We cannot help but note that Dr. Tayag's conclusions about the respondent's psychological incapacity were based on the
information fed to her by only one side the petitioner whose bias in favor of her cause cannot be doubted. While this
circumstance alone does not disqualify the psychologist for reasons of bias, her report, testimony and conclusions deserve
the application of a more rigid and stringent set of standards in the manner we discussed above. For, effectively, Dr.
Tayag only diagnosed the respondent from the prism of a third party account; she did not actually hear, see and evaluate the
respondent and how he would have reacted and responded to the doctor's probes.

Dr. Tayag, in her report, merely summarized the petitioner's narrations, and on this basis characterized the respondent to be
a self-centered, egocentric, and unremorseful person who "believes that the world revolves around him"; and who "used love
as a…deceptive tactic for exploiting the confidence [petitioner] extended towards him." x x x.

We find these observations and conclusions insufficiently in-depth and comprehensive to warrant the conclusion that a
psychological incapacity existed that prevented the respondent from complying with the essential obligations of marriage. It
failed to identify the root cause of the respondent's narcissistic personality disorder and to prove that it existed at the
inception of the marriage. Neither did it explain the incapacitating nature of the alleged disorder, nor show that the
respondent was really incapable of fulfilling his duties due to some incapacity of a psychological, not physical, nature. Thus,
we cannot avoid but conclude that Dr. Tayag's conclusion in her Report i.e., that the respondent suffered "Narcissistic
Personality Disorder with traces of Antisocial Personality Disorder declared to be grave and incurable" is an unfounded
statement, not a necessary inference from her previous characterization and portrayal of the respondent. While the various
tests administered on the petitioner could have been used as a fair gauge to assess her own psychological condition, this
same statement cannot be made with respect to the respondent's condition. To make conclusions and generalizations on the
respondent's psychological condition based on the information fed by only one side is, to our mind, not different from
admitting hearsay evidence as proof of the truthfulness of the content of such evidence.

xxxx

A careful reading of Dr. Tayag's testimony reveals that she failed to establish the fact that at the time the parties were
married, respondent was already suffering from a psychological defect that deprived him of the ability to assume the
essential duties and responsibilities of marriage. Neither did she adequately explain how she came to the conclusion that
respondent's condition was grave and incurable. x x x

xxxx

First, what she medically described was not related or linked to the respondent's exact condition except in a very general
way. In short, her testimony and report were rich in generalities but disastrously short on particulars, most notably on how
the respondent can be said to be suffering from narcissistic personality disorder; why and to what extent the disorder is
grave and incurable; how and why it was already present at the time of the marriage; and the effects of the disorder on the
respondent's awareness of and his capability to undertake the duties and responsibilities of marriage. All these are critical to
the success of the petitioner's case.

Second, her testimony was short on factual basis for her diagnosis because it was wholly based on what the petitioner
related to her. x x x If a psychological disorder can be proven by independent means, no reason exists why such independent
proof cannot be admitted and given credit. No such independent evidence, however, appears on record to have been
gathered in this case, particularly about the respondent's early life and associations, and about events on or about the time
of the marriage and immediately thereafter. Thus, the testimony and report appear to us to be no more than a diagnosis that
revolves around the one-sided and meagre facts that the petitioner related, and were all slanted to support the conclusion
that a ground exists to justify the nullification of the marriage. We say this because only the baser qualities of the
respondent's life were examined and given focus; none of these qualities were weighed and balanced with the better
qualities, such as his focus on having a job, his determination to improve himself through studies, his care and attention in
the first six months of the marriage, among others. The evidence fails to mention also what character and qualities the
petitioner brought into her marriage, for example, why the respondent's family opposed the marriage and what events led
the respondent to blame the petitioner for the death of his mother, if this allegation is at all correct. To be sure, these are
important because not a few marriages have failed, not because of psychological incapacity of either or both of the spouses,
but because of basic incompatibilities and marital developments that do not amount to psychological incapacity. x x
x.[35] (Citations omitted and underlining ours)
In the case at bar, Dr. Tayag made general references to Mary Grace's status as the eldest among her siblings,[36] her
father's being an overseas contract worker and her very tolerant mother, a housewife.[37] These, however, are not sufficient
to establish and explain the supposed psychological incapacity of Mary Grace warranting the declaration of the nullity of the
couple's marriage.

The Court understands the inherent difficulty attendant to obtaining the statements of witnesses who can attest to the
antecedence of a person's psychological incapacity, but such difficulty does not exempt a petitioner from complying with
what the law requires. While the Court also commiserates with Glenn's marital woes, the totality of the evidence presented
provides inadequate basis for the Court to conclude that Mary Grace is indeed psychologically incapacitated to comply with
her obligations as Glenn's spouse.

WHEREFORE, the instant petition is DENIED. The Decision dated January 29, 2013 and Resolution dated August 7, 2013 of
the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 96448 are AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED.
CARATING-SIAYNGCO vs SIAYNGCO, GR. No. 158896, October 27, 2004

DECISION

CHICO-NAZARIO, J.:

This is a petition for review on certiorari of the decision[1] of the Court of Appeals promulgated on 01 July 2003,
reversing the decision[2] of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 102, Quezon City, dated 31 January 2001, which dismissed
the petition for declaration of nullity of marriage filed by respondent herein Judge Manuel Siayngco (respondent Manuel).
Petitioner Juanita Carating-Siayngco (Petitioner Juanita) and respondent Manuel were married at civil rites on 27 June
1973 and before the Catholic Church on 11 August 1973. After discovering that they could not have a child of their own, the
couple decided to adopt a baby boy in 1977, who they named Jeremy.
On 25 September 1997, or after twenty-four (24) years of married life together, respondent Manuel filed for the
declaration of its nullity on the ground of psychological incapacity of petitioner Juanita. He alleged that all throughout their
marriage, his wife exhibited an over domineering and selfish attitude towards him which was exacerbated by her extremely
volatile and bellicose nature; that she incessantly complained about almost everything and anyone connected with him like
his elderly parents, the staff in his office and anything not of her liking like the physical arrangement, tables, chairs,
wastebaskets in his office and with other trivial matters; that she showed no respect or regard at all for the prestige and high
position of his office as judge of the Municipal Trial Court; that she would yell and scream at him and throw objects around
the house within the hearing of their neighbors; that she cared even less about his professional advancement as she did not
even give him moral support and encouragement; that her psychological incapacity arose before marriage, rooted in her
deep-seated resentment and vindictiveness for what she perceived as lack of love and appreciation from her own parents
since childhood and that such incapacity is permanent and incurable and, even if treatment could be attempted, it will involve
time and expense beyond the emotional and physical capacity of the parties; and that he endured and suffered through his
turbulent and loveless marriage to her for twenty-two (22) years.
In her Answer, petitioner Juanita alleged that respondent Manuel is still living with her at their conjugal home in
Malolos, Bulacan; that he invented malicious stories against her so that he could be free to marry his paramour; that she is a
loving wife and mother; that it was respondent Manuel who was remiss in his marital and family obligations; that she
supported respondent Manuel in all his endeavors despite his philandering; that she was raised in a real happy family and
had a happy childhood contrary to what was stated in the complaint.
In the pre-trial order,[3] the parties only stipulated on the following:

1. That they were married on 27 June 1973;


2. That they have one son who is already 20 years old.

Trial on the merits ensued thereafter. Respondent Manuel first took the witness stand and elaborated on the allegations
in his petition. He testified that his parents never approved of his marriage as they still harbored hope that he would return
to the seminary.[4] The early years of their marriage were difficult years as they had a hard time being accepted as husband
and wife by his parents and it was at this period that his wife started exhibiting signs of being irritable and
temperamental[5] to him and his parents.[6] She was also obsessive about cleanliness which became the common source of
their quarrels.[7] He, however, characterized their union as happy during that period of time in 1979 when they moved to
Malolos as they were engrossed in furnishing their new house.[8] In 1981, when he became busy with law school and with
various community organizations, it was then that he felt that he and his wife started to drift apart.[9] He then narrated
incidents during their marriage that were greatly embarrassing and/or distressing to him, e.g., when his wife quarreled with
an elderly neighbor;[10] when she would visit him in his office and remark that the curtains were already dirty or when she
kicked a trash can across the room or when she threw a ballpen from his table;[11] when she caused his office drawer to be
forcibly opened while he was away;[12] when she confronted a female tenant of theirs and accused the tenant of having an
affair with him;[13] and other incidents reported to him which would show her jealous nature. Money matters continued to be
a source of bitter quarrels.[14] Respondent Manuel could not forget that he was not able to celebrate his appointment as
judge in 1995 as his wife did not approve it, ostensibly for lack of money, but she was very generous when it came to
celebrations of their parish priest.[15] Respondent Manuel then denied that he was a womanizer[16] or that he had a
mistress.[17] Lastly, respondent Manuel testified as to their conjugal properties and obligations.[18]
Next, LUCENA TAN, respondent Manuels Clerk of Court, testified that petitioner Juanita seldom went to respondent
Manuels office.[19] But when she was there, she would call witness to complain about the curtains and the cleanliness of the
office.[20] One time, witness remembered petitioner Juanita rummaging through respondent Manuels drawer looking for his
address book while the latter was in Subic attending a conference.[21] When petitioner Juanita could not open a locked drawer
she called witness, telling the latter that she was looking for the telephone number of respondents hotel room in Subic. A
process server was requested by petitioner Juanita to call for a locksmith in the town proper. When the locksmith arrived,
petitioner Juanita ordered him to open the locked drawer. On another occasion, particularly in August of 1998, witness
testified that she heard petitioner Juanita remark to respondent Manuel sino bang batang bibinyagan na yan? Baka anak mo
yan sa labas?[22]
As his third witness, respondent Manuel presented DR. VALENTINA GARCIA whose professional qualifications as a
psychiatrist were admitted by petitioner Juanita.[23] From her psychiatric evaluation,[24] Dr. Garcia concluded:

To sum up, Manuel de Jesus Siayngco and Juanita Victoria Carating-Siayngco contributed to the marital collapse. There is a
partner relational problem which affected their capacity to sustain the marital bond with love, support and understanding.
The partner relational problem (coded V61/10 in the Fourth Edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental
Disorders or DSM IV) is secondary to the psychopathology of both spouses. Manuel and Juanita had engaged themselves in a
defective communication pattern which is characteristically negative and deformed. This affected their competence to
maintain the love and respect that they should give to each other.
Marriage requires a sustained level of adaptation from both partners who are expected to use healthy strategies to solve
their disputes and differences. Whereas Juanita would be derogatory, critical, argumentative, depressive and obsessive-
compulsive, Manuel makes use of avoidance and suppression. In his effort to satisfy the self and to boost his masculine ego
to cover up for his felt or imagined inadequacies, he became callused to the detrimental effects of his unfaithfulness and his
failure to prioritize the marriage. Both spouses, who display narcissistic psychological repertoire (along with their other
maladaptive traits), failed to adequately empathize (or to be responsive and sensitive) to each others needs and feelings.
The matrimonial plot is not conducive to a healthy and a progressive marriage. Manuel and Juanita have shown their
psychologically [sic] incapacity to satisfactorily comply with the fundamental duties of marriage. The clashing of their
patterns of maladaptive traits, which warrant the diagnosis of personality disorder not otherwise specified (PDNOS, with code
301.9 as per DSM IV criteria) will bring about more emotional mishaps and psychopathology. These rigid sets of traits which
were in existence before the marriage will tend to be pervasive and impervious to recovery.[25]

In her defense, petitioner Juanita denied respondent Manuels allegations. She insisted that they were a normal couple
who had their own share of fights; that they were happily married until respondent Manuel started having extra-marital
affairs[26]which he had admitted to her.[27] Petitioner Juanita professed that she would wish to preserve her marriage and that
she truly loved her husband.[28] She stated further that she has continuously supported respondent Manuel, waiting up for
him while he was in law school to serve him food and drinks. Even when he already filed the present case, she would still
attend to his needs.[29] She remembered that after the pre-trial, while they were in the hallway, respondent Manuel implored
her to give him a chance to have a new family.[30]
DR. EDUARDO MAABA, whose expertise as a psychiatrist was admitted by respondent Manuel,[31] testified that he
conducted a psychiatric evaluation on petitioner Juanita, the results of which were embodied in his report. Said report stated
in part:

Based on the clinical interviews and the results of the psychological tests, respondent Juanita Victoria Carating-
Siayngco, was found to be a mature, conservative, religious and highly intelligent woman who possess [sic] more than
enough psychological potentials for a mutually satisfying long term heterosexual relationship. Superego is strong and
she is respectful of traditional institutions of society like the institution of marriage. She was also found to be a loving,
nurturing and self-sacrificing woman who is capable of enduring severe environmental stress in her social milieu.
Finally, she is reality-oriented and therefore capable of rendering fair and sound decision.
In summary, the psychiatric evaluation found the respondent to be psychologically capacitated to comply with the
basic and essential obligations of marriage.[32]

CRISPINA SEVILLA, a friend of the spouses Siayngco since 1992 described the Siayngcos as the ideal couple, sweet to
each other.[33] The couple would religiously attend prayer meetings in the community.[34] Both were likewise leaders in their
community.[35] Witness then stated that she would often go to the house of the couple and, as late as March 2000, she still
saw respondent Manuel there.[36]
On 31 January 2001, the trial court denied respondent Manuels petition for declaration of nullity of his marriage to
petitioner Juanita holding in part that:

The asserted psychological incapacity of the defendant is not preponderantly supported in evidence. The couple [was] happily
married and after four years of marital bliss [was] blest with a son. Their life together continued years thereafter in peace
and prosperity.
The psychiatric finding that defendant has been critical, depressed and obsessive doubtless arose later in the parties
relationship sometime in the early 90s when the defendant-wife started receiving letters that the plaintiff is playing footsy.

xxx xxx xxx

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

A motion for reconsideration was filed but was denied in an order dated 04 May 2001.[38]
On 01 July 2003, the Court of Appeals reversed the RTC decision, relying mainly on the psychiatric evaluation of Dr.
Garcia finding both Manuel and Juanita psychologically incapacitated and on the case of Chi Ming Tsoi v. Court of
Appeals.[39]Thus:

The report clearly explained the root cause of the alleged psychological incapacity of plaintiff Manuel and defendant Juanita.
It appears that there is empathy between plaintiff and defendant. That is a shared feeling which between husband and wife
must be experienced not only by having spontaneous sexual intimacy but a deep sense of spiritual communion. Marital union
is a two-way process. An expressive interest in each others feelings at a time it is needed by the other can go a long way in
deepening the marital relationship. Marriage is definitely not for children but for two consenting adults who view the
relationship with love amore gignit amorem, sacrifice and a continuing commitment to compromise conscious of its value as
a sublime social institution (Chi Ming Tsoi vs. Court of Appeals, 266 SCRA 324).
This court, finding the gravity of the failed relationship in which the parties found themselves trapped in its mire of unfulfilled
vows and unconsummated marital obligations, can do no less, but reverse and set aside the decision of the lower court.
Plaintiff Manuel is entitled to have his marriage declared a nullity on the ground of psychological incapacity, not only of
defendant but also of himself.[40]

Petitioner contends that the Court of Appeals erred

I. IN ITS FINDINGS THAT PETITIONER JUANITA IS PSYCHOLOGICALLY INCAPACITATED


II. IN ITS FINDINGS OF FACT THAT PETITIONER AND RESPONDENT SEPARATED ON MARCH 1997, THE TRUTH IS
THAT THEY ARE STILL LIVING TOGETHER AS HUSBAND AND WIFE AT THE TIME OF THE FILING OF THE
PETITION UP TO THE PRESENT
III. WHEN IT DID NOT FOLLOW THE GUIDELINES LAID DOWN BY THE SUPREME COURT IN THE CASE OF
REPUBLIC V. MOLINA
IV.IN DECLARING THE MARRIAGE OF HEREIN PETITIONER AND RESPONDENT NULL AND VOID ON GROUND OF
PSYCHOLOGICAL INCAPACITY UNDER ARTICLE 36 OF THE FAMILY CODE

The Courts Ruling

Our pronouncement in Republic v. Dagdag[41] is apropos. There, we held that whether or not psychological incapacity
exists in a given case calling for the declaration of the nullity of the marriage depends crucially on the facts of the case. Each
case must be closely scrutinized and judged according to its own facts as there can be no case that is on all fours with
another. This, the Court of Appeals did not heed.
The Court of Appeals perfunctorily applied our ruling in Chi Ming Tsoi despite a clear divergence in its factual milieu with
the case at bar. In Chi Ming Tsoi, the couple involved therein, despite sharing the same bed from the time of their wedding
night on 22 May 1988 until their separation on 15 March 1989, never had coitus. The perplexed wife filed the petition for the
declaration of the nullity of her marriage on the ground of psychological incapacity of her husband. We sustained the wife for
the reason that an essential marital obligation under the Family Code is procreation such that the senseless and protracted
refusal of one of the parties to fulfill the above marital obligation is equivalent to psychological incapacity.
On the other hand, sexual intimacy for procreation is a non-issue herein. Rather, we have here a case of a husband who
is constantly embarrassed by his wifes outbursts and overbearing ways, who finds his wifes obsession with cleanliness and
the tight reign on his wallet irritants and who is wounded by her lack of support and respect for his person and his position as
a Judge. In our book, however, these inadequacies of petitioner Juanita which led respondent Manuel to file a case against
her do not amount to psychological incapacity to comply with the essential marital obligations.
It was in Santos v. Court of Appeals[42] where we declared that psychological incapacity under Article 36 of the Family
Code is not meant to comprehend all possible cases of psychoses. It should refer, rather, to no less than a mental (not
physical) incapacity that causes a party to be truly incognitive of the basic marital covenants that concomitantly must be
assumed and discharged by the parties to the marriage. Psychological incapacity must be characterized by (a) gravity, (b)
juridical antecedence, and (c) incurability.[43] In Republic v. Court of Appeals[44] we expounded:

(1) The burden of proof to show the nullity of marriage belongs to the plaintiff. Any doubt should be resolved in favor of the
existence and continuation of the marriage and against its dissolution and nullity. This is rooted in the fact that both our
Constitution and our laws cherish the validity of marriage and unity of the family. Thus, our Constitution devotes an entire
Article on the Family, recognizing it as the foundation of the nation. It decrees marriage as legally inviolable, thereby
protecting it from dissolution at the whim of the parties. Both the family and marriage are to be protected by the state. The
Family Code echoes this constitutional edict on marriage and the family and emphasizes their permanence, inviolability and
solidarity.
(2) The root cause of the psychological incapacity must be a) medically or clinically identified, b) alleged in the complaint, c)
sufficiently proven by experts and d) clearly explained in the decision. Article 36 of the Family Code requires that the
incapacity must be psychological not physical, although its manifestations and/or symptoms may be physical. The evidence
must convince the court that the parties, or one of them, was mentally or physically ill to such an extent that the person
could not have known the obligations he was assuming, or knowing them, could not have given valid assumption thereof.
Although no example of such incapacity need be given here so as not to limit the application of the provision under the
principle of ejusdem generis, nevertheless such root cause must be identified as a psychological illness and its incapacitating
nature fully explained. Expert evidence may be given by qualified psychiatrists and clinical psychologists.
(3) The incapacity must be proven to be existing at the time of the celebration of the marriage. The evidence must show that
the illness was existing when the parties exchanged their I dos. The manifestation of the illness need not be perceivable at
such time, but the illness itself must have attached at such moment, or prior thereto.
(4) Such incapacity must also be shown to be medically or clinically permanent or incurable. Such incurability may be
absolute or even relative only in regard to the other spouse, not necessarily absolutely against everyone of the same sex.
Furthermore, such incapacity must be relevant to the assumption of marriage obligations, not necessarily to those not
related to marriage like the exercise of a profession or employment in a job. Hence, a pediatrician may be effective in
diagnosing illnesses of children and prescribing medicine to cure them but may not be psychologically capacitated to
procreate, bear and raise his/her own children as an essential obligation of marriage.
(5) Such illness must be grave enough to bring about the disability of the party to assume the essential obligations of
marriage. Thus, mild characteriological peculiarities, mood changes, occasional emotional outbursts cannot be accepted as
root causes. The illness must be shown as downright incapacity or inability, not a refusal, neglect or difficulty, much less ill
will. In other words, there is a natal or supervening disabling factor in the person, an adverse integral element in the
personality structure that effectively incapacitates the person from really accepting and thereby complying with the
obligations essential to marriage.
(6) The essential marital obligations must be those embraced by Articles 68 up to 71 of the Family Code as regards the
husband and wife as well as Articles 220, 221 and 225 of the same Code in regard to parents and their children. Such non-
complied marital obligation(s) must also be stated in the petition, proven by evidence and included in the text of the
decision.
(7) Interpretations given by the National Appellate Matrimonial Tribunal of the Catholic Church in the Philippines, while not
controlling or decisive, should be given great respect by our courts.[45]

With the foregoing pronouncements as compass, we now resolve the issue of whether or not the totality of evidence
presented is enough to sustain a finding of psychological incapacity against petitioner Juanita and/or respondent Manuel.

A. RE: PSYCHOLOGICAL INCAPACITY OF RESPONDENT MANUEL

We reiterate that the state has a high stake in the preservation of marriage rooted in its recognition of the sanctity of
married life and its mission to protect and strengthen the family as a basic autonomous social institution.[46]With this cardinal
state policy in mind, we held in Republic v. Court of Appeals[47] that the burden of proof to show the nullity of marriage
belongs to the plaintiff (respondent Manuel herein). Any doubt should be resolved in favor of the existence and continuation
of the marriage and against its dissolution and nullity.
In herein case, the Court of Appeals committed reversible error in holding that respondent Manuel is psychologically
incapacitated. The psychological report of Dr. Garcia, which is respondent Manuels own evidence, contains candid admissions
of petitioner Juanita, the person in the best position to gauge whether or not her husband fulfilled the essential marital
obligations of marriage:

She talked about her spouse, My husband is kind, a good provider, cool, intelligent but a liar, masamang magalit at
gastador In spite of what he has done to me, I take care of him whenever he is sick. He is having extra marital affairs
because he wants to have a child. I believe that our biggest problem is not having a child. It is his obsession to have a child
with his girl now. He started his relationship with this girl in 1994. I even saw them together in the car. I think that it was
the girl who encouraged him to file the petition. She feels that the problems in the relationship is [sic] paulit-ulit, but, that
she still is willing to pursue it.
x x x. Overall, she feels that he is a good spouse and that he is not really psychologically incapacitated. He apparently told
her, You and Jeremy should give me a chance to have a new family. She answered and said, Ikaw tinuruan mo akong to
fight for my right. Ipaglalaban ko ang marriage natin.[48]

What emerges from the psychological report of Dr. Garcia as well as from the testimonies of the parties and their
witnesses is that the only essential marital obligation which respondent Manuel was not able to fulfill, if any, is the obligation
of fidelity.[49]Sexual infidelity, per se, however, does not constitute psychological incapacity within the contemplation of the
Family Code.[50] It must be shown that respondent Manuels unfaithfulness is a manifestation of a disordered personality
which makes him completely unable to discharge the essential obligations of the marital state[51] and not merely due to his
ardent wish to have a child of his own flesh and blood. In herein case, respondent Manuel has admitted that: I had [extra-
marital] affairs because I wanted to have a child at that particular point.[52]

B. RE: PSYCHOLOGICAL INCAPACITY OF PETITIONER JUANITA

As aforementioned, the presumption is always in favor of the validity of marriage. Semper praesumitur pro matrimonio.
In the case at bar, respondent Manuel failed to prove that his wifes lack of respect for him, her jealousies and obsession with
cleanliness, her outbursts and her controlling nature (especially with respect to his salary), and her inability to endear herself
to his parents are grave psychological maladies that paralyze her from complying with the essential obligations of marriage.
Neither is there any showing that these defects were already present at the inception of the marriage or that they are
incurable.[53] In fact, Dr. Maaba, whose expertise as a psychiatrist was admitted by respondent Manuel, reported that
petitioner was psychologically capacitated to comply with the basic and essential obligations of marriage.[54]
The psychological report of respondent Manuels witness, Dr. Garcia, on the other hand, does not help his case any.
Nothing in there supports the doctors conclusion that petitioner Juanita is psychologically incapacitated. On the contrary, the
report clearly shows that the root cause of petitioner Juanitas behavior is traceable not from the inception of their marriage
as required by law but from her experiences during the marriage, e.g., her in-laws disapproval of her as they wanted their
son to enter the priesthood,[55] her husbands philandering, admitted no less by him,[56] and her inability to conceive.[57] Dr.
Garcias report paints a story of a husband and wife who grew professionally during the marriage, who pursued their
individual dreams to the hilt, becoming busier and busier, ultimately sacrificing intimacy and togetherness as a couple. This
was confirmed by respondent Manuel himself during his direct examination.[58]
Thus, from the totality of the evidence adduced by both parties, we have been allowed a window into the Siayngcoss life
and have perceived therefrom a simple case of a married couple drifting apart, becoming strangers to each other, with the
husband consequently falling out of love and wanting a way out.
An unsatisfactory marriage, however, is not a null and void marriage. Mere showing of irreconcilable differences and
conflicting personalities in no wise constitutes psychological incapacity.[59]As we stated in Marcos v. Marcos:[60]

Article 36 of the Family Code, we stress, is not to be confused with a divorce law that cuts the marital bond at the time the
causes therefore manifests themselves. It refers to a serious psychological illness afflicting a party even before the
celebration of the marriage. It is a malady so grave and so permanent as to deprive one of awareness of the duties and
responsibilities of the matrimonial bond one is about to assume.

We are not downplaying the frustration and misery respondent Manuel might be experiencing in being shackled, so to
speak, to a marriage that is no longer working. Regrettably, there are situations like this one, where neither law nor society
can provide the specific answers to every individual problem.[61]
WHEREFORE, the petition for review is hereby GRANTED. The Decision dated 01 July 2003 of the Court of Appeals is
hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The Decision dated 31 January 2001 of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch
102 is reinstated and given full force and effect. No costs.

SO ORDERED.
DEDEL vs CA, GR. No. 151867, January 29, 2004

DECISION

YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:

Petitioner David B. Dedel met respondent Sharon L. Corpuz Dedel while he was working in the advertising business of
his father. The acquaintance led to courtship and romantic relations, culminating in the exchange of marital vows before the
City Court of Pasay on September 28, 1966.[1] The civil marriage was ratified in a church wedding on May 20, 1967.[2]
The union produced four children, namely: Beverly Jane, born on September 18, 1968;[3] Stephanie Janice born on
September 9, 1969;[4] Kenneth David born on April 24, 1971;[5] and Ingrid born on October 20, 1976.[6] The conjugal
partnership, nonetheless, acquired neither property nor debt.
Petitioner avers that during the marriage, Sharon turned out to be an irresponsible and immature wife and mother. She
had extra-marital affairs with several men: a dentist in the Armed Forces of the Philippines; a Lieutenant in the Presidential
Security Command and later a Jordanian national.
Sharon was once confirmed in the Manila Medical City for treatment by Dr. Lourdes Lapuz, a clinical
psychiatrist. Petitioner alleged that despite the treatment, Sharon did not stop her illicit relationship with the Jordanian
national named Mustafa Ibrahim, whom she married and with whom she had two children. However, when Mustafa Ibrahim
left the country, Sharon returned to petitioner bringing along her two children by Ibrahim. Petitioner accepted her back and
even considered the two illegitimate children as his own. Thereafter, on December 9, 1995, Sharon abandoned petitioner to
join Ibrahim in Jordan with their two children. Since then, Sharon would only return to the country on special occasions.
Finally, giving up all hope of a reconciliation with Sharon, petitioner filed on April 1, 1997 a petition seeking the
declaration of nullity of his marriage on the ground of psychological incapacity, as defined in Article 36 of the Family Code,
before the Regional Trial Court of Makati City, Branch 149. Summons was effected by publication in the Pilipino Star Ngayon,
a newspaper of general circulation in the country considering that Sharon did not reside and could not be found in the
Philippines.[7]
Petitioner presented Dr. Natividad A. Dayan, who testified that she conducted a psychological evaluation of petitioner
and found him to be conscientious, hardworking, diligent, a perfectionist who wants all tasks and projects completed up to
the final detail and who exerts his best in whatever he does.
On the other hand, Dr. Dayan declared that Sharon was suffering from Anti-Social Personality Disorder exhibited by her
blatant display of infidelity; that she committed several indiscretions and had no capacity for remorse, even bringing with her
the two children of Mustafa Ibrahim to live with petitioner. Such immaturity and irresponsibility in handling the marriage like
her repeated acts of infidelity and abandonment of her family are indications of Anti-Social Personality Disorder amounting to
psychological incapacity to perform the essential obligations of marriage.[8]
After trial, judgment was rendered, the dispositive portion of which reads:

WHEREFORE, in the light of the foregoing, the civil and church marriages between DAVID B. DEDEL and SHARON L. CORPUZ
celebrated on September 28, 1966 and May 20, 1967 are hereby declared null and void on the ground of psychological
incapacity on the part of the respondent to perform the essential obligations of marriage under Article 36 of the Family Code.
Accordingly, the conjugal partnership of gains existing between the parties is dissolved and in lieu thereof a regime of
complete separation of property between the said spouses is established in accordance with the pertinent provisions of the
Family Code, without prejudice to rights previously acquired by creditors.
Let a copy of this Decision be duly recorded in the proper civil and property registries in accordance with Article 52 of the
Family Code.
SO ORDERED.[9]

Respondent Republic of the Philippines, through the Solicitor General, appealed alleging that
I

THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN GRANTING THE PETITION DESPITE THE ABSENCE OF A VALID GROUND FOR
DECLARATION OF NULLITY OF MARRIAGE.

II

THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN DECLARING THAT THE CHURCH MARRIAGE BETWEEN PETITIONER IS NULL AND
VOID.

III

THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN RENDERING A DECISION WITHOUT A CERTIFICATION HAVING BEEN ISSUED BY
THE SOLICITOR GENERAL AS REQUIRED IN THE MOLINA CASE.

The Court of Appeals recalled and set aside the judgment of the trial court and ordered dismissal of the petition for
declaration of nullity of marriage.[10]
Petitioners motion for reconsideration was denied in a Resolution dated January 8, 2002.[11] Hence, the instant petition.
Petitioner contends that the appellate court gravely abused its discretion and manifestly erred in its conclusion that the:
(1) respondent was not suffering from psychological incapacity to perform her marital obligations; (2) psychological
incapacity of respondent is not attended by gravity, juridical antecedence and permanence or incurability; and (3) totality of
evidence submitted by the petitioner falls short to prove psychological incapacity suffered by respondent.
The main question for resolution is whether or not the totality of the evidence presented is enough to sustain a finding
that respondent is psychologically incapacitated. More specifically, does the aberrant sexual behavior of respondent adverted
to by petitioner fall within the term psychological incapacity?
In Santos v. Court of Appeals,[12] it was ruled:

x x x psychological incapacity should refer to no less than a mental (not physical) incapacity that causes a party to be truly
incognitive of the basic marital covenants that concomitantly must be assumed and discharged by the parties to the marriage
which, as so expressed in Article 68 of the Family Code, include their mutual obligations to live together, observe love,
respect and fidelity and render help and support. There is hardly any doubt that the intendment of the law has been to
confine the meaning of psychological incapacity to the most serious cases of personality disorders clearly demonstrative of an
utter insensitivity of inability to give meaning and significance to the marriage. This psychological condition must exist at the
time the marriage is celebrated. The law does not evidently envision, upon the other hand, an inability of the spouse to have
sexual relations with the other. This conclusion is implicit under Article 54 of the Family Code which considers children
conceived prior to the judicial declaration of nullity of the void marriage to be legitimate.
The other forms of psychoses, if existing at the inception of marriage, like the state of a party being of unsound mind or
concealment of drug addiction, habitual alcoholism, homosexuality or lesbianism, merely renders the marriage
contract voidable pursuant to Article 46, Family Code. If drug addiction, habitual alcoholism, lesbianism or homosexuality
should occur only during the marriage, they become mere grounds for legal separation under Article 55 of the Family
Code. These provisions, however, do not necessarily preclude the possibility of these various circumstances being
themselves, depending on the degree and severity of the disorder, indicia of psychological incapacity.
Until further statutory and jurisprudential parameters are established, every circumstance that may have some bearing on
the degree, extent and other conditions of that incapacity must, in every case, be carefully examined and evaluated so that
no precipitate and indiscriminate nullity is peremptorily decreed. The well-considered opinion of psychiatrists, psychologists
and persons with expertise in psychological disciplines might be helpful or even desirable.[13]

The difficulty in resolving the problem lies in the fact that a personality disorder is a very complex and elusive
phenomenon which defies easy analysis and definition. In this case, respondents sexual infidelity can hardly qualify as being
mentally or psychically ill to such an extent that she could not have known the obligations she was assuming, or knowing
them, could not have given a valid assumption thereof.[14] It appears that respondents promiscuity did not exist prior to or at
the inception of the marriage. What is, in fact, disclosed by the records is a blissful marital union at its celebration, later
affirmed in church rites, and which produced four children.
Respondents sexual infidelity or perversion and abandonment do not by themselves constitute psychological incapacity
within the contemplation of the Family Code. Neither could her emotional immaturity and irresponsibility be equated with
psychological incapacity.[15] It must be shown that these acts are manifestations of a disordered personality which make
respondent completely unable to discharge the essential obligations of the marital state, not merely due to her youth,
immaturity[16]or sexual promiscuity.
At best, the circumstances relied upon by petitioner are grounds for legal separation under Article 55[17] of the Family
Code. However, we pointed out in Marcos v. Marcos[18] that Article 36 is not to be equated with legal separation in which the
grounds need not be rooted in psychological incapacity but on physical violence, moral pressure, civil interdiction, drug
addiction, habitual alcoholism, sexual infidelity, abandonment and the like. In short, the evidence presented by petitioner
refers only to grounds for legal separation, not for declaring a marriage void.
We likewise agree with the Court of Appeals that the trial court has no jurisdiction to dissolve the church marriage of
petitioner and respondent. The authority to do so is exclusively lodged with the Ecclesiastical Court of the Roman Catholic
Church.
All told, we find no cogent reason to disturb the ruling of the appellate court. We cannot deny the grief, frustration and
even desperation of petitioner in his present situation. Regrettably, there are circumstances, like in this case, where neither
law nor society can provide the specific answers to every individual problem.[19] While we sympathize with petitioners marital
predicament, our first and foremost duty is to apply the law no matter how harsh it may be.[20]
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the petition is DENIED. The decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No.
60406, which ordered the dismissal of Civil Case No. 97-467 before the Regional Trial Court of Makati, Branch 149, is
AFFIRMED. No costs.

SO ORDERED.
REPUBLIC vs DAGDAG, GR. No. 109975, February 9, 2001

DECISION

QUISUMBING, J.:

For review on certiorari is the decision[1]of the Court of Appeals dated April 22, 1993, in CA-G.R. CV No. 34378, which
affirmed the decision of the Regi onal Trial Court of Olongapo City in Civil Case No. 380-0-90 declaring the marriage of
Erlinda Matias Dagdag and Avelino Dagdag void under Article 36 of the Family Code.
On September 7, 1975, Erlinda Matias, 16 years old, married Avelino Parangan Dagdag, 20 years old, at the Iglesia
Filipina Independent Church in Cuyapo, Nueva Ecija.[2] The marriage certificate was issued by the Office of the Local Civil
Registrar of the Municipality of Cuyapo, Nueva Ecija, on October 20, 1988.
Erlinda and Avelino begot two children, namely: Avelyn M. Dagdag, born on January 16, 1978; and Eden M. Dagdag,
born on April 21, 1982.[3] Their birth certificates were issued by the Office of the Local Civil Registrar of the Municipality of
Cuyapo, Nueva Ecija, also on October 20, 1988.
Erlinda and Avelino lived in a house in District 8, Cuyapo, Nueva Ecija, located at the back of the house of their in-
laws.[4] A week after the wedding, Avelino started leaving his family without explanation. He would disappear for months,
suddenly reappear for a few months, then disappear again. During the times when he was with his family, he indulged in
drinking sprees with friends and would return home drunk. He would force his wife to submit to sexual intercourse and if she
refused, he would inflict physical injuries on her.[5]
On October 1993, he left his family again and that was the last they heard from him. Erlinda was constrained to look for
a job in Olongapo City as a manicurist to support herself and her children. Finally, Erlinda learned that Avelino was
imprisoned for some crime,[6] and that he escaped from jail on October 22, 1985.[7] A certification therefor dated February
14, 1990, was issued by Jail Warden Orlando S. Limon. Avelino remains at-large to date.
On July 3, 1990, Erlinda filed with the Regional Trial Court of Olongapo City a petition for judicial declaration of nullity of
marriage on the ground of psychological incapacity under Article 36 of the Family Code.[8] Since Avelino could not be located,
summons was served by publication in the Olongapo News, a newspaper of general circulation, on September 3, 10, and 17,
1990.[9] Subsequently, a hearing was conducted to establish jurisdictional facts. Thereafter, on December 17, 1990, the date
set for presentation of evidence, only Erlinda and her counsel appeared. Erlinda testified and presented her sister-in-law,
Virginia Dagdag, as her only witness.
Virginia testified that she is married to the brother of Avelino. She and her husband live in Olongapo City but they spend
their vacations at the house of Avelinos parents in Cuyapo, Nueva Ecija. She testified that Erlinda and Avelino always
quarrelled, and that Avelino never stayed for long at the couples house. She knew that Avelino had been gone for a long time
now, and that she pitied Erlinda and the children.[10]
Thereafter, Erlinda rested her case. The trial court issued an Order giving the investigating prosecutor until January 2,
1991, to manifest in writing whether or not he would present controverting evidence, and stating that should he fail to file
said manifestation, the case would be deemed submitted for decision.
In compliance with the Order, the investigating prosecutor conducted an investigation and found that there was no
collusion between the parties. However, he intended to intervene in the case to avoid fabrication of evidence.[11]
On December 27, 1990, without waiting for the investigating prosecutors manifestation dated December 5, 1990, the
trial court rendered a decision[12] declaring the marriage of Erlinda and Avelino void under Article 36 of the Family Code,
disposing thus:

WHEREFORE, and viewed from the foregoing considerations, the Court hereby declares the marriage celebrated at Cuyapo,
Nueva Ecija between Erlinda Matias and Avelino Dagdag on 7 September 1975 to be null and void.
The Local Civil Registrar of Cuyapo, Nueva Ecija is hereby ordered to enter into his Book of Marriage this declaration after
this decision shall have become final and executory.
SO ORDERED.

On January 29, 1991, the investigating prosecutor filed a Motion to Set Aside Judgment on the ground that the decision
was prematurely rendered since he was given until January 2, 1991 to manifest whether he was presenting controverting
evidence.
The Office of the Solicitor General likewise filed a Motion for Reconsideration of the decision on the ground that the
same is not in accordance with the evidence and the law. After requiring Erlinda to comment, the trial court denied the
Motion for Reconsideration in an Order dated August 21, 1991 as follows:[13]

This resolves the Motion for Reconsideration of the Decision of this Honorable Court dated December 27, 1990 filed by the
Solicitor-General. The observation of the movant is to the effect that Mere alcoholism and abusiveness are not enough to
show psychological incapacity. Nor is abandonment. These are common in marriage. There must be showing that these
traits, stemmed from psychological incapacity existing at the time of celebration of the marriage.
In the case at bar, the abandonment is prolonged as the husband left his wife and children since 1983. The defendant, while
in jail escaped and whose present whereabouts are unknown. He failed to support his family for the same period of time,
actuations clearly indicative of the failure of the husband to comply with the essential marital obligations of marriage defined
and enumerated under Article 68 of the Family Code. These findings of facts are uncontroverted.
Defendants character traits, by their nature, existed at the time of marriage and became manifest only after the marriage.
In rerum natura, these traits are manifestations of lack of marital responsibility and appear now to be incurable. Nothing can
be graver since the family members are now left to fend for themselves. Contrary to the opinion of the Solicitor-General,
these are not common in marriage.
Let it be said that the provisions of Article 36 of the New Family Code, to assuage the sensibilities of the more numerous
church, is a substitute for divorce (See: Sempio Diy, New Family Code, p. 36) in order to dissolve marriages that exist only in
name.
WHEREFORE, and the foregoing considered, the motion for Reconsideration aforecited is DENIED for lack of merit.
SO ORDERED

The Solicitor General appealed to the Court of Appeals, raising the sole assignment of error that:

THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN DECLARING APPELLEES MARRIAGE TO AVELINO DAGDAG NULL AND VOID ON THE GROUND
OF PSYCHOLOGICAL INCAPACITY OF THE LATTER, PURSUANT TO ARTICLE 36 OF THE FAMILY CODE, THE PSYCHOLOGICAL
INCAPACITY OF THE NATURE CONTEMPLATED BY THE LAW NOT HAVING BEEN PROVEN TO EXIST. [14]

On April 22, 1993, the Court of Appeals rendered a decision[15] affirming the decision of the trial court, disposing thus:

Avelino Dagdag is psychologically incapacitated not only because he failed to perform the duties and obligations of a married
person but because he is emotionally immature and irresponsible, an alcoholic, and a criminal. Necessarily, the plaintiff is
now endowed with the right to seek the judicial declaration of nullity of their marriage under Article 36 of the Family Code.
Defendants constant non-fulfillment of any of such obligations is continously (sic) destroying the integrity or wholeness of his
marriage with the plaintiff. (Pineda, The Family Code of the Philippines Annotated, 1992 Ed., p. 46).[16]

Hence, the present petition for review,[17] filed by the Solicitor General.
The Solicitor General contends that the alleged psychological incapacity of Avelino Dagdag is not of the nature
contemplated by Article 36 of the Family Code. According to him, the Court of Appeals made an erroneous and incorrect
interpretation of the phrase psychological incapacity and an incorrect application thereof to the facts of the case.
Respondent, in her Comment, insists that the facts constituting psychological incapacity were proven by preponderance of
evidence during trial.
At issue is whether or not the trial court and the Court of Appeals correctly declared the marriage as null and void under
Article 36 of the Family Code, on the ground that the husband suffers from psychological incapacity as he is emotionally
immature and irresponsible, a habitual alcoholic, and a fugitive from justice.
Article 36 of the Family Code provides -

A marriage contracted by any party who, at the time of the celebration, was psychologically incapacitated to comply with the
essential marital obligations of marriage, shall likewise be void even if such incapacity becomes manifest only after its
solemnization.

Whether or not psychological incapacity exists in a given case calling for annulment of a marriage, depends crucially,
more than in any field of the law, on the facts of the case. Each case must be judged, not on the basis of a
priori assumptions, predilections or generalizations but according to its own facts. In regard to psychological incapacity as a
ground for annulment of marriage, it is trite to say that no case is on all fours with another case. The trial judge must take
pains in examining the factual milieu and the appellate court must, as much as possible, avoid substituting its own judgment
for that of the trial court.[18]
In Republic v. Court of Appeals and Molina,[19] the Court laid down the following GUIDELINES in the interpretation and
application of Article 36 of the Family Code:

(1) The burden of proof to show the nullity of the marriage belongs to the plaintiff. Any doubt should be resolved in favor of
the existence and continuation of the marriage and against its dissolution and nullity. This is rooted in the fact that both our
Constitution and our laws cherish the validity of marriage and unity of the family. x x x
(2) The root cause of the psychological incapacity must be: (a) medically or clinically identified, (b) alleged in the complaint,
(c) sufficiently proven by experts and (d) clearly explained in the decision. Article 36 of the Family Code requires that the
incapacity must be psychological - not physical, although its manifestations and/or symptoms may be physical. The evidence
must convince the court that the parties, or one of them, was mentally or psychically ill to such an extent that the person
could not have known the obligations he was assuming, or knowing them, could not have given valid assumption thereof.
Although no example of such incapacity need be given here so as not to limit the application of the provision under the
principle of ejusdem generis (Salita vs. Magtolis, 233 SCRA 100, June 13, 1994), nevertheless such root cause must be
identified as a psychological illness and its incapacitating nature fully explained. Expert evidence may be given by qualified
psychiatrists and clinical psychologists.
(3) The incapacity must be proven to be existing at the time of the celebration of the marriage. The evidence must show that
the illness was existing when the parties exchanged their I dos. The manifestation of the illness need not be perceivable at
such time, but the illness itself must have attached at such moment, or prior thereto.
(4) Such incapacity must also be shown to be medically or clinically permanent or incurable. Such incurability may be
absolute or even relative only in regard to the other spouse, not necessarily absolutely against everyone of the same sex.
Furthermore, such incapacity must be relevant to the assumption of marriage obligations, not necessarily to those not
related to marriage, like the exercise of a profession or employment in a job. Hence, a pediatrician may be effective in
diagnosing illnesses of children and prescribing medicine to cure them but may not be psychologically capacitated to
procreate, bear and raise his/her own children as an essential obligation of marriage.
(5) Such illness must be grave enough to bring about the disability of the party to assume the essential obligations of
marriage. Thus, mild characteriological peculiarities, mood changes, occasional emotional outbursts cannot be accepted
as root causes. The illness must be shown as downright incapacity or inability, not a refusal, neglect or difficulty, much less ill
will. In other words, there is a natal or supervening disabling factor in the person, an adverse integral element in the
personality structure that effectively incapacitates the person from really accepting and thereby complying with the
obligations essential to marriage.
(6) The essential marital obligations must be those embraced by Articles 68 up to 71 of the Family Code[20] as regards the
husband and wife as well as Articles 220, 221 and 225 of the same Code[21] in regard to parents and their children. Such
non-complied marital obligation(s) must also be stated in the petition, proven by evidence and included in the text of the
decision.
(7) Interpretations given by the National Appellate Matrimonial Tribunal of the Catholic Church in the Philippines, while not
controlling or decisive, should be given great respect by our courts. x x x
(8) The trial court must order the prosecuting attorney or fiscal and the Solicitor General to appear as counsel for the state.
No decision shall be handed down unless the Solicitor General issues a certification, which will be quoted in the decision,
briefly stating therein his reasons for his agreement or opposition, as the case may be, to the petition. The Solicitor-General,
along with the prosecuting attorney, shall submit to the court such certification within fifteen (15) days from the date the
case is deemed submitted for resolution of the court. The Solicitor-General shall discharge the equivalent function of
the defensor vinculi contemplated under Canon 1095.[22]

Taking into consideration these guidelines, it is evident that Erlinda failed to comply with the above-mentioned
evidentiary requirements. Erlinda failed to comply with guideline No. 2 which requires that the root cause of psychological
incapacity must be medically or clinically identified and sufficiently proven by experts, since no psychiatrist or medical doctor
testified as to the alleged psychological incapacity of her husband. Further, the allegation that the husband is a fugitive from
justice was not sufficiently proven. In fact, the crime for which he was arrested was not even alleged. The investigating
prosecutor was likewise not given an opportunity to present controverting evidence since the trial courts decision was
prematurely rendered.
In the case of Hernandez v. Court of Appeals,[23] we affirmed the dismissal of the trial court and Court of Appeals of the
petition for annulment on the ground of dearth of the evidence presented. We further explained therein that -

Moreover, expert testimony should have been presented to establish the precise cause of private respondents psychological
incapacity, if any, in order to show that it existed at the inception of the marriage. The burden of proof to show the nullity of
the marriage rests upon petitioner. The Court is mindful of the policy of the 1987 Constitution to protect and strengthen the
family as the basic autonomous social institution and marriage as the foundation of the family. (Art. II, Sec. 12, Art. XV,
Secs. 1-2) Thus, any doubt should be resolved in favor of the validity of the marriage. (citing Republic of the Philippines v.
Court of Appeals, supra.)[24]

WHEREFORE, the present petition is GRANTED. The assailed Decision of the Court of Appeals dated April 22, 1993, in
CA-G.R. CV No. 34378 is REVERSED and SET ASIDE.
No pronouncement as to costs.

SO ORDERED.
SANTOS vs CA, GR. No. 112019, January 4, 1995
310 Phil. 21

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

"Article 36. A marriage contracted by any party who, at the time of the celebration, was psychologically incapacitated to
comply with the essential marital obligations of marriage shall likewise be void even if such incapacity becomes manifest only
after its solemnization."

The present petition for review on certiorari, at the instance of Leouel Santos ("Leouel"), brings into fore the above provision
[1] [2]
which is now invoked by him. Undaunted by the decisions of the court a quo and the Court of Appeals, Leouel persists
in beseeching its application in his attempt to have his marriage with herein private respondent, Julia Rosario Bedia-Santos
("Julia"), declared a nullity.

It was in Iloilo City where Leouel, who then held the rank of First Lieutenant in the Philippine Army, first met Julia. The
meeting later proved to be an eventful day for Leouel and Julia. On 20 September 1986, the two exchanged vows before
Municipal Trial Court Judge Cornelio G. Lazaro of Iloilo City, followed, shortly thereafter, by a church wedding. Leouel and
Julia lived with the latter's parents at the J. Bedia Compound, La Paz, Iloilo City. On 18 July 1987, Julia gave birth to a baby
boy, and he was christened Leouel Santos, Jr. The ecstasy, however, did not last long. It was bound to happen, Leouel
averred, because of the frequent interference by Julia's parents into the young spouses' family affairs. Occasionally, the
couple would also start a "quarrel" over a number of other things, like when and where the couple should start living
independently from Julia's parents or whenever Julia would express resentment on Leouel's spending a few days with his own
parents.

On 18 May 1988, Julia finally left for the United States of America to work as a nurse despite Leouel's pleas to so dissuade
her. Seven months after her departure, or on 01 January 1989, Julia called up Leouel for the first time by long distance
telephone. She promised to return home upon the expiration of her contract in July 1989. She never did. When Leouel got a
chance to visit the United States, where he underwent a training program under the auspices of the Armed Forces of the
Philippines from 10 April up to 25 August 1990, he desperately tried to locate, or to somehow get in touch with, Julia but all
his efforts were of no avail.

Having failed to get Julia to somehow come home, Leouel filed with the Regional Trial Court of Negros Oriental, Branch 30, a
complaint for "Voiding of Marriage Under Article 36 of the Family Code" (docketed, Civil Case No. 9814). Summons was
served by publication in a newspaper of general circulation in Negros Oriental.

On 31 May 1991, respondent Julia, in her answer (through counsel), opposed the complaint and denied its allegations,
claiming, in main, that it was the petitioner who had, in fact, been irresponsible and incompetent.

A possible collusion between the parties to obtain a decree of nullity of their marriage was ruled out by the Office of the
Provincial Prosecutor (in its report to the court).

On 25 October 1991, after pre-trial conferences had repeatedly been set, albeit unsuccessfully, by the court, Julia ultimately
filed a manifestation, stating that she would neither appear nor submit evidence.
On 06 November 1991, the court a quo finally dismissed the complaint for lack of merit. [3]

Leouel appealed to the Court of Appeals. The latter affirmed the decision of the trial court. [4]

The petition should be denied not only because of its non-compliance with Circular 28-91, which requires a certification of
non-forum shopping, but also for its lack of merit.

Leouel argues that the failure of Julia to return home, or at the very least to communicate with him, for more than five years
are circumstances that clearly show her being psychologically incapacitated to enter into married life. In his own words,
Leouel asserts:

"x x x (T)here is no love, there is no affection for (him) because respondent Julia Rosario Bedia-Santos failed all these
years to communicate with the petitioner. A wife who does not care to inform her husband about her whereabouts for a
period of five years, more or less, is psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential marital obligations of
marriage. Respondent Julia Rosario Bedia-Santos is one such wife."

The Family Code did not define the term "psychological incapacity." The deliberations during the sessions of the Family Code
Revision Committee, which has drafted the Code, can, however, provide an insight on the import of the provision.

"'Article 35 - The following marriages shall be void from the beginning:

'xxx xxx xxx.

'Article 36 - x x x

'(7) Those marriages contracted by any party who, at the time of the celebration, was wanting in the sufficient use of reason
or judgment to understand the essential nature of marriage or was psychologically or mentally incapacitated to discharge the
essential marital obligations, even if such lack of incapacity is made manifest after the celebration.'

"On subparagraph (7), which as lifted from the Canon Law, Justice (Jose B.L.) Reyes suggested that they say 'wanting in
sufficient use' instead of 'wanting in the sufficient use,' but Justice (Eduardo) Caguioa preferred to say 'wanting in the
sufficient use.' On the other hand, Justice Reyes proposed that they say 'wanting in sufficient reason.' Justice Caguioa,
however, pointed out that the idea is that one is not lacking in judgment but that he is lacking in the exercise of judgment.
He added that lack of judgment would make the marriage voidable. Judge (Alicia Sempio ) Diy remarked that lack of
judgment is more serious than insufficient use of judgment and yet the latter would make the marriage null and void and the
former only voidable. Justice Caguioa suggested that subparagraph (7) be modified to read:

"'That contracted by any party who, at the time of the celebration, was psychologically or mentally incapacitated to discharge
the essential marital obligations, even if such lack or incapacity is made manifest after the celebration.'

"Justice Caguioa explained that the phrase 'was wanting in sufficient use of reason or judgment to understand the essential
nature of marriage' refers to defects in the mental faculties vitiating consent, which is not the idea in subparagraph (7), but
lack of appreciation of one's marital obligations.
"Judge Diy raised the question: Since 'insanity' is also a psychological or mental incapacity, why is 'insanity' only a ground for
annulment and not for declaration of nullity? In reply, Justice Caguioa explained that in insanity, there is the appearance of
consent, which is the reason why it is a ground for voidable marriages, while subparagraph (7) does not refer to consent but
to the very essence of marital obligations.

"Prof. (Araceli) Baviera suggested that, in subparagraph (7), the word 'mentally' be deleted, with which Justice Caguioa
concurred. Judge Diy, however, preferred to retain the word 'mentally.'

"Justice Caguioa remarked that subparagraph (7) refers to psychological impotence. Justice (Ricardo) Puno stated that
sometimes a person may be psychologically impotent with one but not with another. Justice (Leonor Ines-) Luciano said that
it is called selective impotency.

"Dean (Fortunato) Gupit stated that the confusion lies in the fact that in inserting the Canon Law annulment in the Family
Code, the Committee used a language which describes a ground for voidable marriages under the Civil Code. Justice Caguioa
added that in Canon Law, there are no voidable marriages. Dean Gupit said that this is precisely the reason why they should
make a distinction.

"Justice Puno remarked that in Canon Law, the defects in marriage cannot be cured.

"Justice Reyes pointed out that the problem is: Why is 'insanity' a ground for voidable marriage, while 'psychological or
mental incapacity' is a ground for void ab initio marriages? In reply, Justice Caguioa explained that insanity is curable and
there are lucid intervals, while psychological incapacity is not.

"On another point, Justice Puno suggested that the phrase 'even if such lack or incapacity is made manifest' be modified to
read 'even if such lack or incapacity becomes manifest.'

"Justice Reyes remarked that in insanity, at the time of the marriage, it is not apparent.

"Justice Caguioa stated that there are two interpretations of the phrase 'psychologically or mentally incapacitated' -- in the
first one, there is vitiation of consent because one does not know all the consequences of the marriages, and if he had known
these completely, he might not have consented to the marriage.

"xxx xxx xxx

"Prof. Bautista stated that he is in favor of making psychological incapacity a ground for voidable marriages since otherwise it
will encourage one who really understood the consequences of marriage to claim that he did not and to make excuses for
invalidating the marriage by acting as if he did not understand the obligations of marriage. Dean Gupit added that it is a
loose way of providing for divorce.

"xxx xxx xxx

"Justice Caguioa explained that his point is that in the case of incapacity by reason of defects in the mental faculties, which is
less than insanity, there is a defect in consent and, therefore, it is clear that it should be a ground for voidable marriage
because there is the appearance of consent and it is capable of convalidation for the simple reason that there are lucid
intervals and there are cases when the insanity is curable. He emphasized that psychological incapacity does not refer to
mental faculties and has nothing to do with consent; it refers to obligations attendant to marriage.

"xxx xxx xxx

"On psychological incapacity, Prof. (Flerida Ruth P.) Romero inquired if they do not consider it as going to the very essence of
consent. She asked if they are really removing it from consent. In reply, Justice Caguioa explained that, ultimately, consent
in general is affected but he stressed that his point is that it is not principally a vitiation of consent since there is a valid
consent. He objected to the lumping together of the validity of the marriage celebration and the obligations attendant to
marriage, which are completely different from each other, because they require a different capacity, which is eighteen years
of age, for marriage but in contract, it is different. Justice Puno, however, felt that psychological incapacity is still a kind of
vice of consent and that it should not be classified as a voidable marriage which is incapable of convalidation; it should be
convalidated but there should be no prescription. In other words, as long as the defect has not been cured, there is always a
right to annul the marriage and if the defect has been really cured, it should be a defense in the action for annulment so that
when the action for annulment is instituted, the issue can be raised that actually, although one might have been
psychologically incapacitated, at the time the action is brought, it is no longer true that he has no concept of the
consequence of marriage.

"Prof. (Esteban) Bautista raised the question: Will not cohabitation be a defense? In response, Justice Puno stated that even
the bearing of children and cohabitation should not be a sign that psychological incapacity has been cured.

"Prof. Romero opined that psychological incapacity is still insanity of a lesser degree. Justice Luciano suggested that they
invite a psychiatrist, who is the expert on this matter. Justice Caguioa, however, reiterated that psychological incapacity is
not a defect in the mind but in the understanding of the consequences of marriage, and therefore, a psychiatrist will not be a
help.

"Prof. Bautista stated that, in the same manner that there is a lucid interval in insanity, there are also momentary periods
when there is an understanding of the consequences of marriage. Justice Reyes and Dean Gupit remarked that the ground of
psychological incapacity will not apply if the marriage was contracted at the time when there is understanding of the
consequences of marriage. [5]

"xxx xxx xxx

"Judge Diy proposed that they include physical incapacity to copulate among the grounds for void marriages. Justice Reyes
commented that in some instances the impotence is only temporary and only with respect to a particular person. Judge Diy
stated that they can specify that it is incurable. Justice Caguioa remarked that the term 'incurable' has a different meaning in
law and in medicine. Judge Diy stated that 'psychological incapacity' can also be cured. Justice Caguioa, however, pointed
out that 'psychological incapacity' is incurable.

"Justice Puno observed that under the present draft provision, it is enough to show that at the time of the celebration of the
marriage, one was psychologically incapacitated so that later on if already he can comply with the essential marital
obligations, the marriage is still void ab initio. Justice Caguioa explained that since in divorce, the psychological incapacity
may occur after the marriage, in void marriages, it has to be at the time of the celebration of marriage. He, however,
stressed that the idea in the provision is that at the time of the celebration of the marriage, one is psychologically
incapacitated to comply with the essential marital obligations, which incapacity continues and later becomes manifest.

"Justice Puno and Judge Diy, however, pointed out that it is possible that after the marriage, one's psychological incapacity
becomes manifest but later on he is cured. Justice Reyes and Justice Caguioa opined that the remedy in this case is to allow
him to remarry. [6]

"xxx xxx xxx

"Justice Puno formulated the next Article as follows:

"'Article 37. A marriage contracted by any party who, at the time of the celebration, was psychologically incapacitated, to
comply with the essential obligations of marriage shall likewise be void from the beginning even if such incapacity becomes
manifest after its solemnization.'

"Justice Caguioa suggested that 'even if' be substituted with 'although.' On the other hand, Prof. Bautista proposed that the
clause 'although such incapacity becomes manifest after its solemnization' be deleted since it may encourage one to create
the manifestation of psychological incapacity. Justice Caguioa pointed out that, as in other provisions, they cannot argue on
the basis of abuse.

"Judge Diy suggested that they also include mental and physical incapacities, which are lesser in degree than psychological
incapacity. Justice Caguioa explained that mental and physical incapacities are vices of consent while psychological incapacity
is not a species of vice of consent.

"Dean Gupit read what Bishop Cruz said on the matter in the minutes of their February 9, 1984 meeting:

"'On the third ground, Bishop Cruz indicated that the phrase 'psychological or mental impotence' is an invention of some
churchmen who are moralists but not canonists, that is why it is considered a weak phrase. He said that the Code of Canon
Law would rather express it as 'psychological or mental incapacity to discharge . . . '

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

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

"At this point, Justice Puno remarked that, since there have been annulments of marriages arising from psychological
incapacity, Civil Law should not reconcile with Canon Law because it is a new ground even under Canon Law.

"Prof. Romero raised the question: With this common provision in Civil Law and in Canon Law, are they going to have a
provision in the Family Code to the effect that marriages annulled or declared void by the church on the ground of
psychological incapacity is automatically annulled in Civil Law? The other members replied negatively.

"Justice Puno and Prof. Romero inquired if Article 37 should be retroactive or prospective in application.

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

"The members voted as follows:

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

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

"(3) Prof. Baviera abstained.

"Justice Caguioa suggested that they put in the prescriptive period of ten years within which the action for declaration of
nullity of the marriage should be filed in court. The Committee approved the suggestion. [7]

It could well be that, in sum, the Family Code Revision Committee in ultimately deciding to adopt the provision with less
specificity than expected, has, in fact, so designed the law as to allow some resiliency in its application. Mme. Justice Alicia V.
Sempio-Diy, a member of the Code Committee, has been quoted by Mr. Justice Josue N. Bellosillo in Salita vs. Hon. Magtolis
(G.R. No. 106429, 13 June 1994); thus: [8]

"The Committee did not give any examples of psychological incapacity for fear that the giving of examples would limit the
applicability of the provision under the principle of ejusdem generis. Rather, the Committee would like the judge to interpret
the provision on a case-to-case basis, guided by experience, the findings of experts and researchers in psychological
disciplines, and by decisions of church tribunals which, although not binding on the civil courts, may be given persuasive
effect since the provision was taken from Canon Law.

A part of the provision is similar to Canon 1095 of the New Code of Canon Law, [9]
which reads:

"Canon 1095. They are incapable of contracting marriage:

1. who lack sufficient use of reason;

2. who suffer from a grave defect of discretion of judgment concerning essential matrimonial rights and duties, to be given
and accepted mutually;

3. who for causes of psychological nature are unable to assume the essential obligations of marriage." (Underscoring
supplied.)

Accordingly, although neither decisive nor even perhaps all that persuasive for having no juridical or secular effect, the
jurisprudence under Canon Law prevailing at the time of the code's enactment, nevertheless, cannot be dismissed as
impertinent for its value as an aid, at least, to the interpretation or construction of the codal provision.

One author, Ladislas Orsy, S.J., in his treatise, [10]


giving an account on how the third paragraph of Canon 1095 has been
framed, states:
"The history of the drafting of this canon does not leave any doubt that the legislator intended, indeed, to broaden the
rule. A strict and narrow norm was proposed first:

'Those who cannot assume the essential obligations of marriage because of a grave psycho-sexual anomaly (ob gravem
anomaliam psychosexualem) are unable to contract marriage (cf. SCH/ 1975, canon 297, a new canon, novus);

then a broader one followed:

'...because of a grave psychological anomaly (ob gravem anomaliam psychicam)...' (cf. SCH/ 1980, canon 1049);

then the same wording was retained in the text submitted to the pope (cf. SCH/ 1982, canon 1095, 3);

finally, a new version was promulgated:

'because of causes of a psychological nature (ob causas naturae psychiae)'.

"So the progress was from psycho-sexual to psychological anomaly, then the term anomaly was altogether eliminated. It
would be, however, incorrect to draw the conclusion that the cause of the incapacity need not be some kind of psychological
disorder; after all, normal and healthy person should be able to assume the ordinary obligations of marriage."

Fr. Orsy concedes that the term "psychological incapacity" defies any precise definition since psychological causes can be of
an infinite variety.

In a book, entitled "Canons and Commentaries on Marriage," written by Ignatius Gramunt, Javier Hervada and LeRoy Wauck,
the following explanation appears:

"This incapacity consists of the following: (a) a true inability to commit oneself to the essentials of marriage. Some
psychosexual disorders and other disorders of personality can be the psychic cause of this defect, which is here described in
legal terms. This particular type of incapacity consists of a real inability to render what is due by the contract. This could be
compared to the incapacity of a farmer to enter a binding contract to deliver the crops which he cannot possibly reap; (b)
this inability to commit oneself must refer to the essential obligations of marriage: the conjugal act, the community of life
and love, the rendering of mutual help, the procreation and education of offspring; (c) the inability must be tantamount to a
psychological abnormality. The mere difficulty of assuming these obligations, which could be overcome by normal effort,
obviously does not constitute incapacity. The canon contemplates a true psychological disorder which incapacitates a person
from giving what is due (cf. John Paul II, Address to R. Rota, Feb. 5, 1987). However, if the marriage is to be declared
invalid under this incapacity, it must be proved not only that the person is afflicted by a psychological defect, but that the
defect did in fact deprive the person, at the moment of giving consent, of the ability to assume the essential duties of
marriage and consequently of the possibility of being bound by these duties."

Justice Sempio-Diy [11]


cites with approval the work of Dr. Gerardo Veloso, a former Presiding Judge of the Metropolitan
Marriage Tribunal of the Catholic Archdiocese of Manila (Branch I), who opines that psychological incapacity must be
characterized by (a) gravity, (b) juridical antecedence, and (c) incurability. The incapacity must be grave or serious such that
the party would be incapable of carrying out the ordinary duties required in marriage; it must be rooted in the history of the
party antedating the marriage, although the overt manifestations may emerge only after the marriage; and it must be
incurable or, even if it were otherwise, the cure would be beyond the means of the party involved.
It should be obvious, looking at all the foregoing disquisitions, including, and most importantly, the deliberations of the
Family Code Revision Committee itself, that the use of the phrase "psychological incapacity" under Article 36 of the Code has
not been meant to comprehend all such possible cases of psychoses as, likewise mentioned by some ecclesiastical
authorities, extremely low intelligence, immaturity, and like circumstances (cited in Fr. Artemio Baluma's "Void and Voidable
Marriages in the Family Code and their Parallels in Canon Law," quoting from the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental
Disorder by the American Psychiatric Association; Edward Hudson's "Handbook II for Marriage Nullity Cases"). Article 36 of
the Family Code cannot be taken and construed independently of, but must stand in conjunction with, existing precepts in
our law on marriage. Thus correlated, "psychological incapacity" should refer to no less than a mental (not physical)
incapacity that causes a party to be truly incognitive of the basic marital covenants that concomitantly must be assumed and
discharged by the parties to the marriage which, as so expressed by Article 68 of the Family Code, include their mutual
obligations to live together, observe love, respect and fidelity and render help and support. There is hardly any doubt that
the intendment of the law has been to confine the meaning of "psychological incapacity" to the most serious cases of
personality disorders clearly demonstrative of an utter insensitivity or inability to give meaning and significance to the
marriage. This psychologic condition must exist at the time the marriage is celebrated. The law does not evidently envision,
upon the other hand, an inability of the spouse to have sexual relations with the other. This conclusion is implicit under
Article 54 of the Family Code which considers children conceived prior to the judicial declaration of nullity of the void
marriage to be "legitimate."

The other forms of psychoses, if existing at the inception of marriage, like the state of a party being of unsound mind or
concealment of drug addiction, habitual alcoholism, homosexuality or lesbianism, merely renders the marriage contract
voidable pursuant to Article 46, Family Code. If drug addiction, habitual alcoholism, lesbianism or homosexuality should
occur only during the marriage, they become mere grounds for legal separation under Article 55 of the Family Code. These
provisions of the Code, however, do not necessarily preclude the possibility of these various circumstances being themselves,
depending on the degree and severity of the disorder, indicia of psychological incapacity.

Until further statutory and jurisprudential parameters are established, every circumstance that may have some bearing on
the degree, extent, and other conditions of that incapacity must, in every case, be carefully examined and evaluated so that
no precipitate and indiscriminate nullity is peremptorily decreed. The well-considered opinions of psychiatrists, psychologists,
and persons with expertise in psychological disciplines might be helpful or even desirable.

Marriage is not just an adventure but a lifetime commitment. We should continue to be reminded that innate in our society,
then enshrined in our Civil Code, and even now still indelible in Article 1 of the Family Code, is that -

"Article 1. Marriage is a special contract of permanent union between a man and a woman entered into in accordance with
law for the establishment of conjugal and family life. It is the foundation of the family and an inviolable social institution
whose nature, consequences, and incidents are governed by law and not subject to stipulation, except that marriage
settlements may fix the property relations during the marriage within the limits provided by this Code." (Underscoring
supplied.)

Our Constitution is no less emphatic:

"Section 1. The State recognizes the Filipino family as the foundation of the nation. Accordingly, it shall strengthen its
solidarity and actively promote its total development.
"Section 2. Marriage, as an inviolable social institution, is the foundation of the family and shall be protected by the State."
(Article XV, 1987 Constitution).

The above provisions express so well and so distinctly the basic nucleus of our laws on marriage and the family, and they are
no doubt the tenets we still hold on to.

The factual settings in the case at bench, in no measure at all, can come close to the standards required to decree a nullity of
marriage. Undeniably and understandably, Leouel stands aggrieved, even desperate, in his present situation. Regrettably,
neither law nor society itself can always provide all the specific answers to every individual problem.

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. SO ORDERED.


Voidable Marriages (Article 45-46)
VILLANUEVA vs CA, GR. No. 132955, October 27, 2006

DECISION

YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:

This petition for review under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court assails the January 26, 1998 Decision[1] of the Court of Appeals in
CA-G.R. CV No. 51832, affirming with modification the Decision[2] dated January 12, 1996 of the Regional Trial Court of
Valenzuela, Metro Manila, Branch 172 in Civil Case No. 3997-V-92 (a) dismissing petitioner's petition for the annulment of his
marriage to private respondent and (b) ordering him to pay moral and exemplary damages, attorneys fees and costs. Also
assailed is the March 5, 1998 Resolution[3] denying petitioners motion for reconsideration.

The antecedent facts are as follows:

Petitioner Orlando Villanueva and private respondent Lilia Canalita-Villanueva got married on April 13, 1988 in Puerto
Princesa, Palawan. On November 17, 1992, Orlando filed with the trial court a petition for annulment of his marriage alleging
that threats of violence and duress forced him into marrying Lilia, who was already pregnant; that he did not get her
pregnant prior to the marriage; that he never cohabited with her after the marriage; and that he later learned that private
respondent's child died during delivery on August 29, 1988.[4]

In her answer with compulsory counterclaim,[5] Lilia prayed for the dismissal of the petition, arguing that petitioner
freely and voluntarily married her; that petitioner stayed with her in Palawan for almost a month after their marriage; that
petitioner wrote letters to her after he returned to Manila, during which private respondent visited him personally; and that
petitioner knew about the progress of her pregnancy, which ended in their son being born prematurely. Private respondent
also prayed for the payment of moral and exemplary damages, attorneys fees and costs.

On January 12, 1996, the trial court rendered judgment the dispositive portion of which states:

WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered as follows:

1) Dismissing the above-entitled case; and

2) Ordering the plaintiff to pay the defendant moral damages in the amount of P100,000.00,
exemplary damages in the amount of P50,000.00, and attorney's fees in the amount of
P20,000.00, plus the costs of suit.

SO ORDERED.[6]

The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial courts dismissal of the petition and the award of attorneys fees and costs, but
reduced the award of moral and exemplary damages to P50,000.00 and P25,000.00, respectively. The Court of Appeals
denied petitioners motion for reconsideration, hence, the instant petition for review based on the following assigned errors:
I. THE RESPONDENT COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED A GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION IN NOT
GRANTING THE ANNULMENT OF MARRIAGE THE CONSENT OF THE PETITIONER HAVING BEEN OBTAINED BY
FRAUD, INTIMIDATION AND UNDUE AND IMPROPER PRESSURE AND INFLUENCE PLUS THE FACT THAT
THERE WAS NO COHABITATION WHATSOEVER BETWEEN PETITIONER AND PRIVATE RESPONDENT.

II. THE RESPONDENT COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED GROSS ERROR IN AWARDING MORAL AND
EXEMPLARY DAMAGES AS WELL AS ATTORNEY'S FEES, SAID AWARDS NOT BEING THOSE ALLOWED BY
LAW.[7]

The issues for resolution are (a) whether the subject marriage may be annulled on the ground of vitiated consent;
and (b) whether petitioner should be liable for moral and exemplary damages as well as attorneys fees and costs.

The petition is partly granted.

Factual findings of the Court of Appeals, especially if they coincide with those of the trial court, as in the instant case, are
generally binding on this Court.[8] We affirm the findings of the Court of Appeals that petitioner freely and voluntarily married
private respondent and that no threats or intimidation, duress or violence compelled him to do so, thus

To begin with, We are at once disturbed by the circumstance that despite the alleged coerced
consent which supposedly characterized his marriage with Lilia on April 13, 1988, it was only on November
17, 1992 or after a span of not less than four (4) years and eight (8) months when Orlando took serious
step to have the same marriage annulled. Unexplained, the prolonged inaction evidently finds basis in Lilias
allegation that this annulment suit was filed by Orlando solely in the hope that a favorable judgment thereon
would bolster his defense, if not altogether bring about his acquittal in the criminal case for bigamy which
was then already pending against him. Unfortunately, however, let alone the fact that the criminal case was
admittedly decided ahead with a judgment of conviction against Orlando x x x even the very outcome of the
present case disappointed his expectation. At this late, with his appeal in the bigamy case still pending with
this Court x x x Orlando must be hoping against hope that with a decree of annulment ensuing from this
Court, he may yet secure an acquittal in the same bigamy charge. Viewed in this perspective, the instant
appeal is, therefore, understandable.

But even in terms of merit, the recourse must have to fall.

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 cited several incidents that created on his mind a
reasonable and well-grounded fear of an imminent and grave danger to his life and safety, to wit: the
harassing phone calls from the appellee and strangers as well as the unwanted visits by three men at the
premises of the University of the East after his classes thereat, and the threatening presence of a
certain Ka Celso, a supposed member of the New Peoples Army whom appellant claimed to have been hired
by appellee and who accompanied him in going to her home province of Palawan to marry her.

The Court is not convinced that appellants apprehension of danger to his person is so overwhelming
as to deprive him of the will to enter voluntarily to a contract of marriage. It is not disputed that at the time
he was allegedly being harassed, appellant worked as a security guard in a bank. Given his employment at
that time, it is reasonable to assume that appellant knew the rudiments of self-defense, or, at the very
least, the proper way to keep himself out of harms way. For sure, it is even doubtful if threats were indeed
made to bear upon appellant, what with the fact that he never sought the assistance of the security
personnel of his school nor the police regarding the activities of those who were threatening him. And
neither did he inform the judge about his predicament prior to solemnizing their marriage.

Appellant also invoked fraud to annul his marriage, as he was made to believe by appellee that the
latter was pregnant with his child when they were married. Appellants excuse that he could not have
impregnated the appellee because he did not have an erection during their tryst is flimsy at best, and an
outright lie at worst. The complaint is bereft of any reference to his inability to copulate with the
appellee. His counsel also conceded before the lower court that his client had a sexual relationship with the
appellee x x x. He also narrated x x x that sometime in January 1988, he and the appellee went to a hotel
where the sexual act was consummated, with the defendant on top x x x.

Instead of providing proofs that he was tricked into marrying his wife, appellant resorted to undermining the
credibility of the latter by citing her testimony that her child was born, and died, on August 29, 1989, a year
off from August 29, 1988, the date of fetal death as appearing in the registry of deaths of the Office of the
Civil Registrar of Puerto Princesa City x x x.

To Our mind, appellant cannot make capital of the lapse because it is inconsequential, as there is no
controversy regarding the date of death of appellees fetus. Nevertheless, during the continuation of the
cross-examination of the appellee, she declared that her child was prematurely born on August 29, 1988,
matching the date in the certification of the Civil Registrar x x x. The Court is not prepared to disbelieve the
appellee and throw overboard her entire testimony simply on account of her confusion as to the exact date
of the death of the fetus, especially when she herself had presented documentary evidence that put August
29, 1988 as the date her fetus died.

Appellants propensity to rely on his perceived weakness of the appellees evidence continues in his argument
that if indeed there is truth to her claim that she was impregnated sometime in December 1987, then she
could not have a premature delivery on August 29, 1988, as she had testified during the trial, because the
35-week period of pregnancy is complete by that time. Whether the appellees impression that she had
delivered prematurely is correct or not will not affect the fact that she had delivered a fetus on August 29,
1988. In the light of appellants admission that he had a sexual intercourse with his wife in January 1988,
and his failure to attribute the latters pregnancy to any other man, appellant cannot complain that he was
deceived by the appellee into marrying her.

Appellant also puts in issue the lower courts appreciation of the letters allegedly written by him to the
appellee. During his cross-examination, when confronted with thirteen (13) letters, appellant identified the
seven (7) letters that he sent to the appellee, but denied the remaining six (6) x x x. The letters admitted
by the appellant contained expressions of love and concern for his wife, and hardly the rantings of a man
under duress. During the re-direct examination, however, appellant suddenly changed mind and denied
authorship of those seven (7) letters, claiming that he was forced to admit them because he was threatened
with harm by the appellee. If he was laboring under duress when he made the admission, where did he find
the temerity to deny his involvement with the remaining six (6) letters? The recantation can only be
motivated by a hindsight realization by the appellant of the evidentiary weight of those letters against his
case.
As to the second assignment of error, appellant cannot claim that his marriage should be annulled due to
the absence of cohabitation between him and his wife. Lack of cohabitation is, per se, not a ground to annul
a marriage. Otherwise, the validity of a marriage will depend upon the will of the spouses who can terminate
the marital union by refusing to cohabitate. The failure to cohabit becomes relevant only if it arises as a
result of the perpetration of any of the grounds for annulling the marriage, such as lack of parental consent,
insanity, fraud, intimidation, or undue influence x x x. Since the appellant failed to justify his failure to
cohabit with the appellee on any of those grounds, the validity of his marriage must be upheld.[9]
We also agree that private respondent is entitled to attorneys fees. Article 2208 (11) of the Civil Code provides that
attorneys may be awarded where the court deems it just and equitable under the circumstances, as in the instant case.

We, however, delete the award of moral and exemplary damages for lack of factual and legal basis. There is nothing
in the records or in the appealed decision that would support an award of moral damages. In justifying the award, the Court
of Appeals merely said thus:

It is not difficult to imagine the suffering of the appellee from the baseless portrayal of her by the appellant
as the perpetrator of fraudulent schemes to trap an unwilling mate. x x x[10]

However, the aforesaid finding is only a supposition as it has no reference to any testimony of private respondent
detailing her alleged physical suffering, mental anguish, fright, serious anxiety, besmirched reputation, wounded feelings,
moral shock, social humiliation, and similar injury as would entitle her to moral damages.

In Mahinay v. Velasquez, Jr.,[11] we held that:

In order that moral damages may be awarded, there must be pleading and proof of moral suffering,
mental anguish, fright and the like. While respondent alleged in his complaint that he suffered mental
anguish, serious anxiety, wounded feelings and moral shock, he failed to prove them during the trial.
Indeed, respondent should have taken the witness stand and should have testified on the mental anguish,
serious anxiety, wounded feelings and other emotional and mental suffering he purportedly suffered to
sustain his claim for moral damages. Mere allegations do not suffice; they must be substantiated by
clear and convincing proof. No other person could have proven such damages except the respondent
himself as they were extremely personal to him.

As private respondent is not entitled to moral damages, a fortiori, she is not entitled to exemplary damages. This is
clear in Article 2234 of the Civil Code, which provides:

ART. 2234. While the amount of the exemplary damages need not be proved, the plaintiff must
show that he is entitled to moral, temperate or compensatory damages before the court may consider the
question of whether or not exemplary damages should be awarded. In case liquidated damages have been
agreed upon, although no proof of loss is necessary in order that such liquidated damages may be
recovered, nevertheless, before the court may consider the question of granting exemplary in addition to the
liquidated damages, the plaintiff must show that he would be entitled to moral, temperate or compensatory
damages were it not for the stipulation for liquidated damages.

Hence, exemplary damages is allowed only in addition to moral damages such that no exemplary damages can be
awarded unless the claimant first establishes his clear right to moral damages.[12] In the instant case, private respondent
failed to satisfactorily establish her claim for moral damages, thus she is not likewise entitled to exemplary damages.
WHEREFORE, the petition is PARTLY GRANTED. The January 26, 1998 Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R.
CV No. 51832 affirming with modification the January 12, 1996 Decision of the Regional Trial Court of Valenzuela, Metro
Manila, Branch 172 in Civil Case No. 3997-V-92 dismissing petitioners petition for the annulment of his marriage with private
respondent, is AFFIRMED. However, the award of moral and exemplary damages is DELETED for lack of basis.

SO ORDERED.
ALMELOR vs RTC, GR. No. 179620, August 26, 2008
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 Decision[2] 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 Pias, 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 Pias 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]

Leonida averred that Manuels kind and gentle demeanor did not last long. 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 as a harsh
disciplinarian, unreasonably meticulous, easily angered. Manuels unreasonable way of imposing discipline on their children
was 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 mother. Manuels deep attachment to his mother and his dependence on her decision-
making were incomprehensible to Leonida.[8]

Further adding to her woes was his concealment to her of his homosexuality. Her suspicions were first aroused when
she noticed Manuels peculiar closeness to his male companions. For instance, she caught him in an indiscreet telephone
conversation manifesting his affection for a male caller.[9] She also found several pornographic homosexual materials in his
possession.[10] Her worse fears were confirmed when she saw Manuel kissed another man on the lips. The man was a certain
Dr. Nogales.[11] When she confronted Manuel, he denied everything. At this point, Leonida took her children and left their
conjugal abode. Since then, Manuel stopped giving support to their children.[12]

Dr. Valentina del Fonso Garcia, a clinical psychologist, was presented to prove Leonidas claim. Dr. del Fonso Garcia
testified that she conducted evaluative interviews and a battery of psychiatric tests on Leonida. She also had a one-time
interview with Manuel and face-to-face interviews with Ma. Paulina Corrinne (the eldest child).[13] She concluded
that Manuel is psychologically incapacitated.[14] Such incapacity is marked by antecedence; it existed even before the
marriage and appeared to be incurable.

Manuel, for his part, admitted that he and Leonida had some petty arguments here and there. He, however,
maintained that their marital relationship was generally harmonious. The petition for annulment filed by Leonida came as a
surprise to him.

Manuel countered that the true cause of Leonidas hostility against him was their professional rivalry. It began
when he refused to heed the memorandum[15] released by Christ the King Hospital. The memorandum ordered him to desist
from converting his own lying-in clinic to a primary or secondary hospital.[16] Leonidas family owns Christ
the King Hospital which is situated in the same subdivision as Manuels clinic and residence.[17] In other words, he and her
family have competing or rival hospitals in the same vicinity.

Manuel belied her allegation that he was a cruel father to their children. He denied maltreating them. At most,
he only imposed the necessary discipline on the children.

He also defended his show of affection for his mother. He said there was nothing wrong for him to return the love
and affection of the person who 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 found fault in this otherwise healthy relationship because of her very
jealous and possessive nature.[19]

This same overly jealous behavior of Leonida drove Manuel to avoid the company of female friends. He wanted to
avoid any further misunderstanding with his wife. But, Leonida instead conjured up stories about his sexual
preference. She also fabricated tales about pornographic materials found in his possession to cast doubt on his
masculinity. [20]

To corroborate his version, he presented his brother, Jesus G. Almelor. Jesus narrated that he usually stayed at
Manuels house during his weekly trips to Manila from Iriga City. He was a witness to the generally harmonious relationship
between his brother Manuel and sister-in-law, Leonida. True, they had some quarrels typical of a husband and wife
relationship. But there was nothing similar to what Leonida described in her testimony.[21]

Jesus further testified that he was with his brother on the day Leonida allegedly saw Manuel kissed another man. He
denied that such an incident occurred. On that particular date,[22] he and Manuel went straight home from a trip to
Bicol. There was no other person with them at that time, except their driver.[23]

Manuel expressed his intention to refute Dr. del Fonso Garcias findings by presenting his own expert
witness. However, no psychiatrist was presented.

RTC Disposition

By decision dated November 25, 2005, the RTC granted the petition for annulment, with the following disposition:

WHEREFORE, premised on the foregoing, judgment is hereby rendered:


1. Declaring the marriage contracted by herein parties on 29 January 1989 and all its
effects under the law null and void from the beginning;

2. Dissolving the regime of community property between the same parties with forfeiture of
defendants share thereon in favor of the same parties children whose
legal custody is awarded to plaintiff with visitorial right afforded to defendant;

3. Ordering the defendant to give monthly financial support to all the children; and

4. Pursuant to the provisions of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC:

a. Directing the Branch Clerk of this Court to enter this Judgment upon its finality
in the Book of Entry of Judgment and to issue an Entry of Judgment in
accordance thereto; and

b. Directing the Local Civil Registrars of Las Pias City and Manila City to cause the
registration of the said Entry of Judgment in their respective Books of
Marriages.

Upon compliance, a decree of nullity of marriage shall be issued.

SO ORDERED.[24] (Emphasis supplied)

The trial court nullified the marriage, not on the ground of Article 36, but Article 45 of the Family
Code. It ratiocinated:

x x x a careful evaluation and in-depth analysis of the surrounding circumstances of the allegations
in the complaint and of the evidence presented in support thereof (sic) reveals that in this case (sic) there is
more than meets the eyes (sic).

Both legally and biologically, homosexuality x x x is, indeed, generally incompatible with hetero
sexual marriage. This is reason enough that in this jurisdiction (sic) the law recognizes marriage as a special
contract exclusively only between a man and a woman x x x and thus when homosexuality has trespassed
into marriage, the same law provides ample remedies to correct the situation [Article 45(3) in relation to
Article 46(4) or 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 homosexual and forces himself to live a normal
heterosexual life, there will surely come a time when his true sexual preference as a homosexual shall
prevail in haunting him and thus jeopardizing the solidity, honor, and welfare of his own family.[25]

Manuel filed a notice of appeal which was, however, denied due course. Undaunted, he filed a petition for annulment
of judgment with the CA.[26]

Manuel contended that the assailed decision was issued in excess of the lower courts jurisdiction; that it had no
jurisdiction to dissolve the absolute community of property and forfeit his conjugal share in favor of his children.

CA Disposition
On July 31, 2007, the CA denied the petition, disposing as follows:

WHEREFORE, the present Petition for Annulment of Judgment is hereby DENIED. The Court
AFFIRMS in toto the Decision (dated November 25, 2005) of the Regional Trial Court (Branch 254), in Las
Pias City, in Civil Case No. LP-00-0132. No costs.[27]

The CA stated that petitioner pursued the wrong remedy by filing the extraordinary remedy of petition for annulment
of judgment. Said the appellate court:

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 mistake is not a Petition for Annulment of Judgment but an
ordinary appeal. An error of judgment may be reversed or corrected only by appeal.

What petitioner is ascribing is an error of judgment, not of jurisdiction, which is properly the subject
of an ordinary appeal.

In short, petitioner admits the jurisdiction of the lower court but he claims excess in the exercise
thereof. Excess assuming there was is not covered by Rule 47 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure. The Rule
refers the lack of jurisdiction and not the exercise thereof.[28]

Issues

Petitioner Manuel takes the present recourse via Rule 45, assigning to the CA the following errors:

I
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN NOT TREATING THE PETITION FOR ANNULMENT OF
JUDGMENT AS A PETITION FOR REVIEW IN VIEW OF THE IMPORTANCE OF THE ISSUES INVOLVED AND IN
THE INTEREST OF JUSTICE;

II
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN UPHOLDING THE DECISION OF THE TRIAL COURT AS
REGARDS THE ORDER DECLARING THE MARRIAGE AS NULL AND VOID ON THE GROUND OF PETITIONERS
PSYCHOLOGICAL INCAPACITY;

III
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN UPHOLDING THE DECISION OF THE TRIAL COURT AS
REGARDS THE ORDER TO FORFEIT THE SHARE OF PETITIONER IN HIS SHARE OF THE CONJUGAL
ASSETS.[29]

Our Ruling

I. The stringent rules of procedures may be relaxed to serve the demands of substantial justice and in
the Courts exercise of equity jurisdiction.
Generally, an appeal taken either to the Supreme Court or the CA by the wrong or inappropriate mode shall be
dismissed.[30] This is to prevent the party from benefiting from ones neglect and mistakes. However, like most rules, it
carries certain exceptions. After all, the ultimate purpose of all rules of procedures is to achieve substantial justice as
expeditiously as possible.[31]

Annulment of judgment under Rule 47 is a last remedy. It can not be resorted to if the ordinary remedies are
available or no longer available through no fault of petitioner.[32] However, in Buenaflor v. Court of Appeals,[33] this Court
clarified the proper appreciation for technical rules of procedure, in this wise:

Rules of procedures are intended to promote, not to defeat, substantial justice and,
therefore, they should not be applied in a very rigid and technical sense. The exception is that
while the Rules are liberally construed, the provisions with respect to the rules on the manner
and periods for perfecting appeals are strictly applied. As an exception to the exception, these
rules have sometimes been relaxed on equitable considerations. Also, in some cases the Supreme
Court has given due 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 demands of substantial justice and in the
exercise of equity jurisdiction of the Supreme Court.[34] (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)

For reasons of justice and equity, this Court has allowed exceptions to the stringent rules governing appeals.[35] It has, in the
past, refused to sacrifice justice for technicality.[36]

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 petition for certiorari under Rule 65.

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 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 R. Nerves elevated to the CA a Civil Service Commission
(CSC) decision 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 the pendency of the case. Nevertheless, she is ordered reinstated without back
wages. On appeal, Nerves stated in her petition, inter alia:

1. This is a petition for certiorari filed pursuant to Article IX-A, Section 7 of the Constitution of
the Philippines and under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court.

2. But per Supreme Court Revised Administrative Circular No. 1-95 (Revised Circular No. 1-91)
petitioner is filing the instant petition with this Honorable Court instead of the Supreme
Court. [38]
(Underscoring supplied)

The CA dismissed Nerves petition for certiorari for being the wrong remedy or the inappropriate mode of appeal.[39] The CA
opined that under the Supreme Court Revised Administrative Circular No. 1-95 x x x appeals from judgments or final orders
or resolutions of CSC is by a petition for review.[40]

This Court granted Nerves petition and held that she had substantially complied with the Administrative Circular. The
Court stated:
That it was erroneously labeled as a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court is only a minor
procedural lapse, not fatal to the appeal. x x x

More importantly, the appeal on its face appears to be impressed with merit. Hence, the Court of Appeals
should have overlooked the insubstantial defects of the petition x x x in order to do justice to the parties
concerned. There is, indeed, nothing sacrosanct about procedural rules, which should be liberally construed
in order to promote their object and assist the parties in obtaining just, speedy, and inexpensive
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 vindication of a legitimate grievance, the courts are justified in
exempting a particular case from the operation of the rules.[41] (Underscoring supplied)

Similarly, in the more recent case of Tan v. Dumarpa,[42] petitioner Joy G. Tan availed of a wrong remedy by filing a petition
for review on certiorari 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 certiorari under Rule 65.

This Court found that based on Tans allegations, the trial court prima facie committed grave abuse of discretion in
rendering a judgment by default. If uncorrected, it will cause petitioner great injustice. The Court elucidated in this wise:

Indeed, where as here, there is a strong showing that grave miscarriage of justice would result from
the strict application of the Rules, we will not hesitate to relax the same in the interest of substantial
justice.[43] (Underscoring supplied)

Measured by the foregoing yardstick, justice will be better served by giving due course to the present petition and
treating petitioners CA petition as one for certiorari under Rule 65, considering that what is at stake is the validity or non-
validity of a marriage.

In Salazar v. Court of Appeals,[44] citing Labad v. University of Southeastern Philippines, this Court reiterated:

x x x The dismissal of appeals on purely technical grounds is frowned upon. While the right to
appeal is a statutory, not a natural right, nonetheless it is an essential part of our judicial system and courts
should proceed with 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 and just disposition of his cause, free from the
constraints of technicalities.[45]

Indeed, it is far better and more prudent for a court to excuse a technical lapse and afford the parties a review of the case on
the merits to attain the ends of justice.[46]

Furthermore, it was the negligence and incompetence of Manuels counsel that prejudiced his right to
appeal. His counsel, Atty. Christine Dugenio, 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 instance. She also erroneously filed a petition for
annulment of judgment rather than pursue an ordinary appeal.

These manifest errors were clearly indicative of counsels incompetence. These gravely worked to the detriment
of Manuels appeal. True it is that the negligence of counsel binds the client. Still, this Court has recognized certain
exceptions: (1) where reckless or gross negligence of counsel deprives the client of due process of law; (2) when its
application will result in outright deprivation of the clients liberty and property; or (3) where the interest of justice so
require.[47]

The negligence of Manuels counsel falls under the exceptions. Ultimately, the reckless or gross negligence of petitioners
former counsel led to the loss of his right to appeal. He should not be made to suffer for his counsels 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:

It is settled that the negligence of counsel binds the client. This is based on the rule that any act
performed by a counsel within the scope of his general or implied authority is regarded as an act of his
client. However, where counsel is guilty of gross ignorance, negligence and dereliction of duty, which resulted
in the clients being held liable for damages in a damage suit, the client is deprived of his day in court and the
judgment may be set aside on such ground. In the instant case, higher interests of justice and equity demand
that petitioners be allowed to present evidence on their defense. Petitioners may not be made to suffer for the
lawyers mistakes. This Court will always be disposed to grant relief to parties aggrieved by perfidy,
fraud, reckless inattention and downright incompetence of lawyers, which has the consequence of
depriving their clients, of their day in court.[49] (Emphasis supplied)

Clearly, this Court has the power to except a particular case from the operation of the rule whenever the demands of
justice require it. With more conviction should it wield such power in a case involving the sacrosanct institution of
marriage. This Court is guided with the thrust of giving a party the fullest opportunity to establish the merits of ones
action.[50]

The client was likewise spared from counsels negligence in Government Service Insurance System v. Bengson Commercial
Buildings, Inc.[51] and Ancheta v. Guersey-Dalaygon.[52] Said the Court in Bengson:

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 rigors must be relaxed to admit exceptions thereto and to
prevent a miscarriage of justice. In other words, the court has the power to except a particular case from the
operation of the rule whenever the purposes of justice require it.[53]

II. Concealment of homosexuality is the proper ground to annul a marriage, not homosexuality per se.

Manuel is a desperate man determined to salvage what remains of his marriage. Persistent in his quest, he fought back all
the heavy accusations of incapacity, cruelty, and doubted masculinity thrown at him.

The trial court declared that Leonidas petition for nullity had no basis at all because the supporting grounds relied upon can
not legally make a case under Article 36 of the Family Code. It went further by citing Republic v. Molina:[54]

Indeed, mere allegations of conflicting personalities, irreconcilable differences, incessant quarrels and/or
beatings, unpredictable mood swings, infidelities, vices, abandonment, and difficulty, neglect, or failure in
the performance of some marital obligations do not suffice to establish psychological incapacity.[55]
If so, the lower court should have dismissed outright the petition for not meeting the guidelines set in Molina. What
Leonida attempted to demonstrate were Manuels homosexual tendencies by citing overt acts generally predominant among
homosexual individuals.[56] She wanted to prove that the perceived homosexuality rendered Manuel incapable of fulfilling
the essential marital obligations.

But instead of dismissing the petition, the trial court nullified the marriage between Manuel and Leonida on the ground of
vitiated consent by virtue of fraud. In support of its conclusion, the lower court reasoned out:

As insinuated by the State (p. 75, TSN, 15 December 2003), when there is smoke surely there is
fire. Although vehemently denied by defendant, there is preponderant evidence enough to establish with
certainty that defendant is really a homosexual. This is the fact that can be deduced from the totality of the
marriage life scenario of herein parties.

Before his marriage, defendant knew very well that people around him even including his own close
friends doubted his true sexual preference (TSN, pp. 35-36, 13 December 2000; pp. 73-75, 15 December
2003). After receiving many forewarnings, plaintiff told defendant about the rumor she 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 people but nothing happened after that. There may have been more 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 defendants denials, plaintiff just the same married him. Reasons upon
reasons may be advanced to either exculpate or nail to the cross defendant 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, reason why obviously
defendant failed to establish a happy and solid family; and in so failing, plaintiff and their children became
his innocent and unwilling victims.

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 bed sheets, etc. or if a man is more authoritative in knowing
what clothes 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 apparently showing that he had extra fondness of his
male friends (sic) to the extent that twice on separate occasions (pp. 4-7, TSN, 14 February 2001) he was
allegedly seen by plaintiff kissing another man lips-to-lips plus the homosexual magazines and tapes
likewise allegedly discovered underneath his bed (Exhibits L and M), the doubt as to his real sex identity
becomes stronger. The accusation of plaintiff versus thereof of defendant may be the name of the game in
this case; but the simple reason of professional rivalry advanced by the defendant is certainly not enough to
justify and obscure the question why plaintiff should accuse him of such a very untoward infidelity at the
expense and humiliation of their children and family as a whole.[57]

Evidently, no sufficient proof was presented to substantiate the allegations 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 Manuels sexual
preference without the corroboration of witnesses. Also, it took cognizance of Manuels peculiarities and interpreted it against
his sexuality.
Even assuming, ex gratia argumenti, that Manuel is a homosexual, the lower court cannot appreciate it as a ground
to annul his marriage with Leonida. The law is clear a marriage may be annulled when the consent of either party was
obtained by fraud,[58] such as concealment of homosexuality.[59] Nowhere in the said decision was it proven by
preponderance of evidence that Manuel was a homosexual at the onset of 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 the consent of the innocent
party. Such concealment presupposes bad faith and intent to defraud the other party in giving consent to the marriage.

Consent is an essential requisite of a valid marriage. To be valid, it must be freely given by both parties. An allegation of
vitiated consent must be proven by preponderance of evidence. The Family Code has enumerated an exclusive list of
circumstances[61] constituting fraud. Homosexuality per se is not among those cited, but its concealment.

This distinction becomes more apparent when we go over the deliberations[62] of the Committees on the Civil Code and
Family Law, to wit:

Justice Caguioa remarked that this ground should be eliminated in the provision on the grounds for
legal separation. Dean Gupit, however, pointed out that in Article 46, they are talking only of concealment,
while in the article on legal separation, there is actuality. Judge Diy added that in legal separation, the ground
existed after the marriage, while in Article 46, the ground existed at the time of the marriage. Justice Reyes
suggested that, for clarity, they add the phrase existing at the time of the marriage at the end of
subparagraph (4). The Committee approved the suggestion.[63]

To reiterate, homosexuality per se is only a ground for legal separation. It is its concealment that serves as a valid
ground to annul a marriage.[64] 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 to prove.

In the United States, homosexuality has been considered as a basis for divorce. It indicates that questions of sexual
identity strike so deeply at one of the basic elements of marriage, which is the exclusive sexual bond between the
spouses.[65] In Crutcher v. Crutcher,[66] the Court held:

Unnatural practices of the kind charged here are an infamous indignity to the wife, and which would
make the marriage relation so revolting to her that it would become impossible for her to discharge the duties
of a wife, and would defeat the whole purpose of the relation. In the natural course of things, they would
cause mental suffering to the extent of affecting her health.[67]

However, although there may be similar sentiments here in the Philippines, the legal overtones are significantly
different. Divorce is not recognized in 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 board.

What was proven in the hearings a quo was a relatively blissful marital union for more than eleven (11) years, which
produced three (3) children. The burden of proof to show the nullity of the marriage rests on Leonida. Sadly, she failed to
discharge this onus.
The same failure to prove fraud which purportedly resulted to a vitiated marital consent was found in Villanueva v.
Court of Appeals.[68] In Villanueva, instead of proving vitiation of consent, appellant resorted to baseless portrayals of his wife
as a perpetrator of fraudulent schemes. Said the Court:

Factual findings of the Court of Appeals, especially if they coincide with those of the trial court, as in
the instant case, are generally binding on this Court. We affirm the findings of the Court of Appeals that
petitioner freely and voluntarily married private respondent and that no threats or intimidation, duress or
violence compelled him to do so, thus

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 cited several incidents that created on his mind a
reasonable and well-grounded fear of an imminent and grave danger to his life and safety. x x x

The Court is not convinced that appellants apprehension of danger to his person is so overwhelming
as to deprive him of the will to enter voluntarily to a contract of marriage. It is not disputed that at the time
he was allegedly being harassed, appellant worked as a security guard in a bank. Given the rudiments of
self-defense, or, at the very least, the proper way to keep himself out of harms way. x x x

Appellant also invoked fraud to annul his marriage, as he was made to believe by appellee that the
latter was pregnant with his child when they were married. Appellants excuse that he could not have
impregnated the appellee because he did not have an erection during their tryst is flimsy at best, and an
outright lie at worst. The complaint is bereft of any reference to his inability to copulate with the appellee. x
xx

xxxx

x x x The failure to cohabit becomes relevant only if it arises as a result of the perpetration of any of
the grounds for annulling the marriage, such as lack of parental consent, insanity, fraud, intimidation, or
undue influence x x x. Since the appellant failed to justify his failure to cohabit with the appellee on any of
these grounds, the validity of his marriage must be upheld.[69]

Verily, the lower court committed grave abuse of discretion, not only by solely taking into account petitioners
homosexuality per se and not its concealment, but by declaring the marriage void from its existence.

This Court is mindful of the constitutional policy to protect and strengthen 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 the maintenance
and preservation of these social institutions against desecration by fabricated evidence.[71] Thus, any doubt should be
resolved in favor of the validity of marriage.

III. In a valid marriage, the husband and wife jointly administer and enjoy their community or conjugal
property.

Article 96 of the Family Code, on regimes of absolute community property, provides:


Art. 96. The administration and enjoyment of the community property shall belong to both spouses
jointly. In case of disagreement, the husbands decision shall prevail, subject to recourse to the court by the
wife for a proper remedy, which must be availed of within five years from the date of the contract
implementing such decision.

In the event that one spouse is incapacitated or otherwise unable to participate in the administration of the
common properties, the other spouse may assume sole powers of administration. These powers do not
include the powers of disposition or encumbrance without the authority of the court or the written consent of
the other spouse. In the absence of such authority or consent, the disposition or encumbrance shall be
void. However, the transaction shall be construed as a continuing offer on the 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 authorization by the court before the offer is withdrawn by either or both offerors.

A similar provision, Article 124[72] prescribes joint administration and enjoyment in a regime of conjugal
partnership. In a valid marriage, both spouses exercise administration and enjoyment of the property regime, jointly.

In the case under review, the RTC decreed a dissolution of the community property of Manuel and Leonida. In the
same breath, the trial court forfeited Manuels share in favor of the children. Considering that the marriage is upheld valid and
subsisting, the dissolution and forfeiture of Manuels share in the property regime is unwarranted. They remain the joint
administrators of the community property.

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The appealed Decision is REVERSED and SET ASIDE and the petition in
the trial court to annul the marriage is DISMISSED.

SO ORDERED.
Legal Separation (Article 55 and 65)
ONG vs ONG 505 SCRA 76 (Oct 23, 2006)

DECISION

AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, J.:
Before this Court is a Petition for Review seeking the reversal of the Decision1 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA G.R. CV No.
59400 which affirmed in toto the Decision of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 41, Dagupan City granting the petition for
legal separation filed by herein respondent, as well as the Resolution2 of the CA dated April 26, 2002 which denied
petitioner’s motion for reconsideration.
Ong Eng Kiam, also known as William Ong (William) and Lucita G. Ong (Lucita) were married on July 13, 1975 at the San
Agustin Church in Manila. They have three children: Kingston, Charleston, and Princeton who are now all of the age of
majority.3
On March 21, 1996, Lucita filed a Complaint for Legal Separation under Article 55 par. (1) of the Family Code4before the
Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Dagupan City, Branch 41 alleging that her life with William was marked by physical violence,
threats, intimidation and grossly abusive conduct.5
Lucita claimed that: soon after three years of marriage, she and William quarreled almost every day, with physical violence
being inflicted upon her; 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 and box her; on December 9, 1995, after she protested with William’s decision to allow
their eldest son Kingston to go to Bacolod, William slapped her and said, "it is none of your business"; on December 14,
1995, she asked William to bring Kingston back from Bacolod; a violent quarrel ensued and William hit her on her head, left
cheek, eye, stomach, and arms; when William hit her on the stomach and she bent down because of the pain, he hit her on
the head then pointed a gun at her and asked her to leave the house; she then went to her sister’s house in Binondo where
she was fetched by her other siblings and brought to their parents house in Dagupan; the following day, she went to her
parent’s doctor, Dr. Vicente Elinzano for treatment of her injuries.6
William for his part denied that he ever inflicted physical harm on his wife, used insulting language against her, or whipped
the children with the buckle of his belt. While he admits that he and Lucita quarreled on December 9, 1995, at their house in
Jose Abad Santos Avenue, Tondo, Manila, he claimed that he left the same, stayed in their Greenhills condominium and only
went back to their Tondo house to work in their office below. In the afternoon of December 14, 1995, their laundrywoman
told him that Lucita left the house.7
On January 5, 1998, the RTC rendered its Decision decreeing legal separation, thus:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered decreeing the legal separation of plaintiff and
defendant, with all the legal effects attendant thereto, particularly the dissolution and liquidation of the conjugal
partnership properties, for which purpose the parties are hereby ordered to submit a complete inventory of said
properties so that the Court can make a just and proper division, such division to be embodied in a supplemental
decision.
SO ORDERED.8
The RTC found that:
It is indubitable that plaintiff (Lucita) and defendant (William) had their frequent quarrels and misunderstanding
which made both of their lives miserable and hellish. This is even admitted by the defendant when he said that there
was no day that he did not quarrel with his wife. Defendant had regarded the plaintiff negligent in the performance
of her wifely duties and had blamed her for not reporting to him about the wrongdoings of their children. (citations
omitted)
These quarrels were always punctuated by acts of physical violence, threats and intimidation by the defendant
against the plaintiff and on the children. In the process, insulting words and language were heaped upon her. The
plaintiff suffered and endured the mental and physical anguish of these marital fights until December 14, 1995 when
she had reached the limits of her endurance. The more than twenty years of her marriage could not have been put
to waste by the plaintiff if the same had been lived in an atmosphere of love, harmony and peace. Worst, their
children are also suffering. As very well stated in plaintiff’s memorandum, "it would be unthinkable for her to throw
away this twenty years of relationship, abandon the comforts of her home and be separated from her children,
whom she loves, if there exists no cause, which is already beyond her endurance.9
William appealed to the CA which affirmed in toto the RTC decision. In its Decision dated October 8, 2001, the CA found that
the testimonies for Lucita were straightforward and credible and the ground for legal separation under Art. 55, par. 1 of the
Family Code, i.e., physical violence and grossly abusive conduct directed against Lucita, were adequately proven.10
As the CA explained:
The straightforward and candid testimonies of the witnesses were uncontroverted and credible. Dr. Elinzano’s
testimony was able to show that the [Lucita] suffered several injuries inflicted by [William]. It is clear that on
December 14, 1995, she sustained redness in her cheek, black eye on her left eye, fist blow on the stomach, blood
clot and a blackish discoloration on both shoulders and a "bump" or "bukol" on her head. The presence of these
injuries was established by the testimonies of [Lucita] herself and her sister, Linda Lim. The Memorandum/Medical
Certificate also confirmed the evidence presented and does not deviate from the doctor’s main testimony --- that
[Lucita] suffered physical violence on [sic] the hands of her husband, caused by physical trauma, slapping of the
cheek, boxing and fist blows. The effect of the so-called alterations in the Memorandum/Medical Certificate
questioned by [William] does not depart from the main thrust of the testimony of the said doctor.
Also, the testimony of [Lucita] herself consistently and constantly established that [William] inflicted repeated
physical violence upon her during their marriage and that she had been subjected to grossly abusive conduct when
he constantly hurled invectives at her even in front of their customers and employees, shouting words like, "gaga",
"putang ina mo," tanga," and "you don’t know anything."
These were further corroborated by several incidents narrated by Linda Lim who lived in their conjugal home from
1989 to 1991. She saw her sister after the December 14, 1995 incident when she (Lucita) was fetched by the latter
on the same date. She was a witness to the kind of relationship her sister and [William] had during the three years
she lived with them. She observed that [William] has an "explosive temper, easily gets angry and becomes very
violent." She cited several instances which proved that William Ong indeed treated her wife shabbily and despicably,
in words and deeds.
xxx
That the physical violence and grossly abusive conduct were brought to bear upon [Lucita] by [William] have been
duly established by [Lucita] and her witnesses. These incidents were not explained nor controverted by [William],
except by making a general denial thereof. Consequently, as between an affirmative assertion and a general denial,
weight must be accorded to the affirmative assertion.
The grossly abusive conduct is also apparent in the instances testified to by [Lucita] and her sister. The injurious
invectives hurled at [Lucita] and his treatment of her, in its entirety, in front of their employees and friends, are
enough to constitute grossly abusive conduct. The aggregate behavior of [William] warrants legal separation under
grossly abusive conduct. x x x11
William filed a motion for reconsideration which was denied by the CA on April 26, 2002.12
Hence the present petition where William claims that:
I
THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED AN ERROR OF LAW IN DISREGARDING CLEAR EVIDENCE THAT THE PETITION
FOR LEGAL SEPARATION WAS INSTITUTED BY THE PRIVATE RESPONDENT FOR THE SOLE PURPOSE OF REMOVING
FROM PETITIONER THE CONTROL AND OWNERSHIP OF THEIR CONJUGAL PROPERTIES AND TO TRANSFER THE
SAME TO PRIVATE RESPONDENT’S FAMILY.
II
THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED AN ERROR OF LAW IN DISREGARDING CLEAR EVIDENCE REPUDIATING
PRIVATE RESPONDENT’S CLAIM OF REPEATED PHYSICAL VIOLENCE AND GROSSLY ABUSIVE CONDUCT ON THE
PART OF PETITIONER.13
William argues that: the real motive of Lucita and her family in filing the case is to wrest control and ownership of properties
belonging to the conjugal partnership; these properties, which include real properties in Hong Kong, Metro Manila, Baguio
and Dagupan, were acquired during the marriage through his (William’s) sole efforts; the only parties who will benefit from a
decree of legal separation are Lucita’s parents and siblings while such decree would condemn him as a violent and cruel
person, a wife-beater and child abuser, and will taint his reputation, especially among the Filipino-Chinese community;
substantial facts and circumstances have been overlooked which warrant an exception to the general rule that factual
findings of the trial court will not be disturbed on appeal; the findings of the trial court that he committed acts of repeated
physical violence against Lucita and their children were not sufficiently established; what took place were disagreements
regarding the manner of raising and disciplining the children particularly Charleston, Lucita’s favorite son; marriage being a
social contract cannot be impaired by mere verbal disagreements and the complaining party must adduce clear and
convincing evidence to justify legal separation; the CA erred in relying on the testimonies of Lucita and her witnesses, her
sister Linda Lim, and their parent’s doctor, Dr. Vicente Elinzanzo, whose testimonies are tainted with relationship and fraud;
in the 20 years of their marriage, Lucita has not complained of any cruel behavior on the part of William in relation to their
marital and family life; William expressed his willingness to receive respondent unconditionally however, it is Lucita who
abandoned the conjugal dwelling on December 14, 1995 and instituted the complaint below in order to appropriate for
herself and her relatives the conjugal properties; the Constitution provides that marriage is an inviolable social institution and
shall be protected by the State, thus the rule is the preservation of the marital union and not its infringement; only for
grounds enumerated in Art. 55 of the Family Code, which grounds should be clearly and convincingly proven, can the courts
decree a legal separation among the spouses.14
Respondent Lucita in her Comment, meanwhile, asserts that: the issues raised in the present petition are factual; the
findings of both lower courts rest on strong and clear evidence borne by the records; this Court is not a trier of facts and
factual findings of the RTC when confirmed by the CA are final and conclusive and may not be reviewed on appeal; the
contention of William that Lucita filed the case for legal separation in order to remove from William the control and ownership
of their conjugal properties and to transfer the same to Lucita’s family is absurd; Lucita will not just throw her marriage of 20
years and forego the companionship of William and her children just to serve the interest of her family; Lucita left the
conjugal home because of the repeated physical violence and grossly abusive conduct of petitioner.15
Petitioner filed a Reply, reasserting his claims in his petition,16 as well as a Memorandum where he averred for the first time
that since respondent is guilty of abandonment, the petition for legal separation should be denied following Art. 56, par. (4)
of the Family Code.17 Petitioner argues that since respondent herself has given ground for legal separation by abandoning the
family simply because of a quarrel and refusing to return thereto unless the conjugal properties were placed in the
administration of petitioner’s in-laws, no decree of legal separation should be issued in her favor.18
Respondent likewise filed a Memorandum reiterating her earlier assertions.19
We resolve to deny the petition.
It is settled that questions of fact cannot be the subject of a petition for review under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court. The rule
finds more stringent application where the CA upholds the findings of fact of the trial court. In such instance, this Court is
generally bound to adopt the facts as determined by the lower courts.20
The only instances when this Court reviews findings of fact are:
(1) when the findings are grounded entirely on speculation, surmises or conjectures; (2) when the inference made is
manifestly mistaken, absurd or impossible; (3) when there is grave abuse of discretion; (4) when the judgment is
based on a misapprehension of facts; (5) when the findings of facts are conflicting; (6) when in making its findings
the Court of Appeals went beyond the issues of the case, or its findings are contrary to the admissions of both the
appellant and the appellee; (7) when the findings are contrary to that of the trial court; (8) when the findings are
conclusions without citation of specific evidence on which they are based; (9) when the facts set forth in the petition
as well as in the petitioner’s main and reply briefs are not disputed by the respondent; (10) when the findings of fact
are premised on the supposed absence of evidence and contradicted by the evidence on record; and (11) when the
Court of Appeals manifestly overlooked certain relevant facts not disputed by the parties, which, if properly
considered, would justify a different conclusion.21
As petitioner failed to show that the instant case falls under any of the exceptional circumstances, the general rule applies.
Indeed, this Court cannot review factual findings on appeal, especially when they are borne out by the records or are based
on substantial evidence.22 In this case, the findings of the RTC were affirmed by the CA and are adequately supported by the
records.
As correctly observed by the trial court, William himself admitted that there was no day that he did not quarrel with his wife,
which made his life miserable, and he blames her for being negligent of her wifely duties and for not reporting to him the
wrongdoings of their children.23
Lucita and her sister, Linda Lim, also gave numerous accounts of the instances when William displayed violent temper
against Lucita and their children; such as: when William threw a steel chair at Lucita;24 threw chairs at their
children;25 slapped Lucita and utter insulting words at her;26 use the buckle of the belt in whipping the children;27pinned
Lucita against the wall with his strong arms almost strangling her, and smashed the flower vase and brick rocks and
moldings leaving the bedroom in disarray;28 shouted at Lucita and threw a directory at her, in front of Linda and the
employees of their business, because he could not find a draft letter on his table;29 got mad at Charleston for cooking steak
with vetchin prompting William to smash the plate with steak and hit Charleston, then slapped Lucita and shouted at her
"putang ina mo, gago, wala kang pakialam, tarantado" when she sided with Charleston;30 and the December 9 and
December 14, 1995 incidents which forced Lucita to leave the conjugal dwelling.31
Lucita also explained that the injuries she received on December 14, 1995, were not the first. As she related before the trial
court:
q. You stated on cross examination that the injuries you sustained on December 14, 1995 were the most serious?
a. Unlike before I considered December 14, 1995 the very serious because before it is only on the arm and black
eye, but on this December 14, I suffered bruises in all parts of my body, sir.32
To these, all William and his witnesses, could offer are denials and attempts to downplay the said incidents.33
As between the detailed accounts given for Lucita and the general denial for William, the Court gives more weight to those of
the former. The Court also gives a great amount of consideration to the assessment of the trial court regarding the credibility
of witnesses as trial court judges enjoy the unique opportunity of observing the deportment of witnesses on the stand, a
vantage point denied appellate tribunals.34 Indeed, it is settled that the assessment of the trial court of the credibility of
witnesses is entitled to great respect and weight having had the opportunity to observe the conduct and demeanor of the
witnesses while testifying.35
In this case, the RTC noted that:
William’s denial and that of his witnesses of the imputation of physical violence committed by him could not be given
much credence by the Court. Since the office secretary Ofelia Rosal and the family laundrywoman Rosalino Morco are
dependent upon defendant for their livelihood, their testimonies may be tainted with bias and they could not be
considered as impartial and credible witnesses. So with Kingston Ong who lives with defendant and depends upon
him for support.36
Parenthetically, William claims that that the witnesses of Lucita are not credible because of their relationship with her. We do
not agree. Relationship alone is not reason enough to discredit and label a witness’s testimony as biased and unworthy of
credence37 and a witness’ relationship to one of the parties does not automatically affect the veracity of his or her
testimony.38 Considering the detailed and straightforward testimonies given by Linda Lim and Dr. Vicente Elinzano, bolstered
by the credence accorded them by the trial court, the Court finds that their testimonies are not tainted with bias.
William also posits that the real motive of Lucita in filing the case for legal separation is in order for her side of the family to
gain control of the conjugal properties; that Lucita was willing to destroy his reputation by filing the legal separation case just
so her parents and her siblings could control the properties he worked hard for. The Court finds such reasoning hard to
believe. What benefit would Lucita personally gain by pushing for her parents’ and siblings’ financial interests at the expense
of her marriage? What is more probable is that there truly exists a ground for legal separation, a cause so strong, that Lucita
had to seek redress from the courts. As aptly stated by the RTC,
...it would be unthinkable for her to throw away this twenty years of relationship, abandon the comforts of her home
and be separated from her children whom she loves, if there exists no cause, which is already beyond her
endurance.39
The claim of William that a decree of legal separation would taint his reputation and label him as a wife-beater and child-
abuser also does not elicit sympathy from this Court. If there would be such a smear on his reputation then it would not be
because of Lucita’s decision to seek relief from the courts, but because he gave Lucita reason to go to court in the first place.
Also without merit is the argument of William that since Lucita has abandoned the family, a decree of legal separation should
not be granted, following Art. 56, par. (4) of the Family Code which provides that legal separation shall be denied when both
parties have given ground for legal separation. The abandonment referred to by the Family Code is abandonment without
justifiable cause for more than one year.40 As it was established that Lucita left William due to his abusive conduct, such does
not constitute abandonment contemplated by the said provision.
As a final note, we reiterate that our Constitution is committed to the policy of strengthening the family as a basic social
institution.41 The Constitution itself however does not establish the parameters of state protection to marriage and the
family, as it remains the province of the legislature to define all legal aspects of marriage and prescribe the strategy and the
modalities to protect it and put into operation the constitutional provisions that protect the same.42With the enactment of the
Family Code, this has been accomplished as it defines marriage and the family, spells out the corresponding legal effects,
imposes the limitations that affect married and family life, as well as prescribes the grounds for declaration of nullity and
those for legal separation.43 As Lucita has adequately proven the presence of a ground for legal separation, the Court has no
reason but to affirm the findings of the RTC and the CA, and grant her the relief she is entitled to under the law.
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED for lack of merit.
Costs against petitioner.
SO ORDERED.
The Family (Article 149-151 of the Family Code)
HIYAS SAVINGS and LOAN BANK, INC vs ACUNA and ALBERTO MORENO, 500 SCRA 514, August 31, 2006
532 Phil. 222

AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, J.:
Before the Court is a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court seeking to nullify the Orders[1] of the Regional
Trial Court (RTC) of Caloocan City, Branch 122, dated November 8, 2001[2] and May 7, 2002[3] denying herein petitioner's
Motion to Dismiss and Motion for Partial Reconsideration, respectively.

The antecedent facts are as follows:

On November 24, 2000, Alberto Moreno (private respondent) filed with the RTC of Caloocan City a complaint against Hiyas
Savings and Loan Bank, Inc. (petitioner), his wife Remedios, the spouses Felipe and Maria Owe and the Register of Deeds of
Caloocan City for cancellation of mortgage contending that he did not secure any loan from petitioner, nor did he sign or
execute any contract of mortgage in its favor; that his wife, acting in conspiracy with Hiyas and the spouses Owe, who were
the ones that benefited from the loan, made it appear that he signed the contract of mortgage; that he could not have
executed the said contract because he was then working abroad.[4]

On May 17, 2001, petitioner filed a Motion to Dismiss on the ground that private respondent failed to comply with Article 151
of the Family Code wherein it is provided that no suit between members of the same family shall prosper unless it should
appear from the verified complaint or petition that earnest efforts toward a compromise have been made, but that the same
have failed. Petitioner contends that since the complaint does not contain any fact or averment that earnest efforts toward a
compromise had been made prior to its institution, then the complaint should be dismissed for lack of cause of action.[5]

Private respondent filed his Comment on the Motion to Dismiss with Motion to Strike Out and to Declare Defendants in
Default. He argues that in cases where one of the parties is not a member of the same family as contemplated under Article
150 of the Family Code, failure to allege in the complaint that earnest efforts toward a compromise had been made by the
plaintiff before filing the complaint is not a ground for a motion to dismiss. Alberto asserts that since three of the party-
defendants are not members of his family the ground relied upon by Hiyas in its Motion to Dismiss is inapplicable and
unavailable. Alberto also prayed that defendants be declared in default for their failure to file their answer on time.[6]

Petitioner filed its Reply to the Comment with Opposition to the Motion to Strike and to Declare Defendants in
Default.[7] Private respondent, in turn, filed his Rejoinder.[8]

On November 8, 2001, the RTC issued the first of its assailed Orders denying the Motion to Dismiss, thus:

The court agrees with plaintiff that earnest efforts towards a compromise is not required before the filing of the instant case
considering that the above-entitled case involves parties who are strangers to the family. As aptly pointed out in the cases
cited by plaintiff, Magbaleta v. G[o]nong, L-44903, April 25, 1977 and Mendez v. [B]iangon, L-32159, October 28, 1977, if
one of the parties is a stranger, failure to allege in the complaint that earnest efforts towards a compromise had been made
by plaintiff before filing the complaint, is not a ground for motion to dismiss.

Insofar as plaintiff's prayer for declaration of default against defendants, the same is meritorious only with respect to
defendants Remedios Moreno and the Register of Deeds of Kaloocan City. A declaration of default against defendant bank is
not proper considering that the filing of the Motion to Dismiss by said defendant operates to stop the running of the period
within which to file the required Answer.[9]
Petitioner filed a Motion for Partial Reconsideration.[10] Private respondent filed his Comment,[11] after which petitioner filed
its Reply.[12] Thereafter, private respondent filed his Rejoinder.[13]

On May 7, 2002, the RTC issued the second assailed Order denying petitioner's Motion for Partial Reconsideration. The trial
court ruled:

Reiterating the resolution of the court, dated November 8, 2001, considering that the above-entitled case involves parties
who are strangers to the family, failure to allege in the complaint that earnest efforts towards a compromise were made by
plaintiff, is not a ground for a Motion to Dismiss.

Additionally, the court agrees with plaintiff that inasmuch as it is defendant Remedios Moreno who stands to be benefited by
Art. 151 of the Family Code, being a member of the same family as that of plaintiff, only she may invoke said Art. 151.[14]

xxx
Hence, the instant Petition for Certiorari on the following grounds:

I. Public respondent committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or in excess of jurisdiction when he ruled
that lack of earnest efforts toward a compromise is not a ground for a motion to dismiss in suits between husband
and wife when other parties who are strangers to the family are involved in the suit. Corollarily, public respondent
committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or in excess of jurisdiction when he applied the decision in
the case of Magbaleta v. Gononginstead of the ruling in the case of De Guzman v. Genato.

II. Public respondent committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or in excess of jurisdiction when he ruled
that a party who is a stranger to the family of the litigants could not invoke lack of earnest efforts toward a
compromise as a ground for the dismissal of the complaint.[15]
At the outset, the Court notes that the instant Petition for Certiorari should have been filed with the Court of Appeals (CA)
and not with this Court pursuant to the doctrine of hierarchy of courts. Reiterating the established policy for the strict
observance of this doctrine, this Court held in Heirs of Bertuldo Hinog v. Melicor[16] that:

Although the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals and the Regional Trial Courts have concurrent jurisdiction to issue writs
of certiorari, prohibition, mandamus, quo warranto, habeas corpus and injunction, such concurrence does not give the
petitioner unrestricted freedom of choice of court forum. As we stated in People v. Cuaresma:
This Court's original jurisdiction to issue writs of certiorari is not exclusive. It is shared by this Court with Regional Trial
Courts and with the Court of Appeals. This concurrence of jurisdiction is not, however, to be taken as according to parties
seeking any of the writs an absolute, unrestrained freedom of choice of the court to which application therefor will be
directed. There is after all a hierarchy of courts. That hierarchy is determinative of the venue of appeals, and also serves as a
general determinant of the appropriate forum for petitions for the extraordinary writs. A becoming regard for that judicial
hierarchy most certainly indicates that petitions for the issuance of extraordinary writs against first level ("inferior") courts
should be filed with the Regional Trial Court, and those against the latter, with the Court of Appeals. A direct invocation of
the Supreme Court's original jurisdiction to issue these writs should be allowed only when there are special and important
reasons therefor, clearly and specifically set out in the petition. This is [an] established policy. It is a policy necessary to
prevent inordinate demands upon the Court's time and attention which are better devoted to those matters within its
exclusive jurisdiction, and to prevent further over-crowding of the Court's docket.
The rationale for this rule is two-fold: (a) it would be an imposition upon the precious time of this Court; and (b) it would
cause an inevitable and resultant delay, intended or otherwise, in the adjudication of cases, which in some instances had to
be remanded or referred to the lower court as the proper forum under the rules of procedure, or as better equipped to
resolve the issues because this Court is not a trier of facts.

Thus, this Court will not entertain direct resort to it unless the redress desired cannot be obtained in the appropriate courts,
and exceptional and compelling circumstances, such as cases of national interest and of serious implications, justify the
availment of the extraordinary remedy of writ of certiorari, calling for the exercise of its primary jurisdiction. Exceptional and
compelling circumstances were held present in the following cases: (a) Chavez vs. Romulo on citizens' right to bear arms;
(b) Government of the United States of America vs. Purganan on bail in extradition proceedings; (c) Commission on Elections
vs. Quijano-Padilla on government contract involving modernization and computerization of voters' registration list;
(d) Buklod ng Kawaning EIIB vs. Zamora on status and existence of a public office; and (e) Fortich vs. Corona on the so-
called "Win-Win Resolution" of the Office of the President which modified the approval of the conversion to agro-industrial
area.[17]
In the present case, petitioner failed to advance a satisfactory explanation as to its failure to comply with the principle of
judicial hierarchy. There is no reason why the instant petition could not have been brought before the CA. On this basis, the
instant petition should be dismissed.

And even if this Court passes upon the substantial issues raised by petitioner, the instant petition likewise fails for lack of
merit.

Restating its arguments in its Motion for Partial Reconsideration, petitioner argues that what is applicable to the present case
is the Court's decision in De Guzman v. Genato[18] and not in Magbaleta v. Gonong,[19] the former being a case involving a
husband and wife while the latter is between brothers.

The Court is not persuaded.

Article 151 of the Family Code provides as follows:

No suit between members of the same family shall prosper unless it should appear from the verified complaint or petition
that earnest efforts toward a compromise have been made, but that the same have failed. If it is shown that no such efforts
were in fact made, the case must be dismissed.

This rule shall not apply to cases which may not be the subject of compromise under the Civil Code.
Article 222 of the Civil Code from which Article 151 of the Family Code was taken, essentially contains the same provisions,
to wit:

No suit shall be filed or maintained between members of the same family unless it should appear that earnest efforts toward
a compromise have been made, but that the same have failed, subject to the limitations in Article 2035.[20]
The Code Commission that drafted Article 222 of the Civil Code from which Article 151 of the Family Code was taken
explains:

[I]t is difficult to imagine a sadder and more tragic spectacle than a litigation between members of the same family. It is
necessary that every effort should be made toward a compromise before a litigation is allowed to breed hate and passion in
the family. It is known that a lawsuit between close relatives generates deeper bitterness than between strangers.[21]
In Magbaleta, the case involved brothers and a stranger to the family, the alleged owner of the subject property. The Court,
taking into consideration the explanation made by the Code Commision in its report, ruled that:

[T]hese considerations do not, however, weigh enough to make it imperative that such efforts to compromise should be a
jurisdictional pre-requisite for the maintenance of an action whenever a stranger to the family is a party thereto, whether as
a necessary or indispensable one. It is not always that one who is alien to the family would be willing to suffer the
inconvenience of, much less relish, the delay and the complications that wranglings between or among relatives more often
than not entail. Besides, it is neither practical nor fair that the determination of the rights of a stranger to the family who just
happened to have innocently acquired some kind of interest in any right or property disputed among its members should be
made to depend on the way the latter would settle their differences among themselves.[22] x x x.
Hence, once a stranger becomes a party to a suit involving members of the same family, the law no longer makes it a
condition precedent that earnest efforts be made towards a compromise before the action can prosper.

In the subsequent case of De Guzman, the case involved spouses and the alleged paramour of the wife. The Court ruled that
due to the efforts exerted by the husband, through the Philippine Constabulary, to confront the wife, there was substantial
compliance with the law, thereby implying that even in the presence of a party who is not a family member, the
requirements that earnest efforts towards a compromise have been exerted must be complied with, pursuant to Article 222
of the Civil Code, now Article 151 of the Family Code.

While De Guzman was decided after Magbaleta, the principle enunciated in the Magbaleta is the one that now prevails
because it is reiterated in the subsequent cases of Gonzales v. Lopez,[23] Esquivias v. Court of Appeals,[24] Spouses
Hontiveros v. Regional Trial Court, Branch 25, Iloilo City,[25] and the most recent case of Martinez v. Martinez.[26] Thus,
Article 151 of the Family Code applies to cover when the suit is exclusively between or among family members.

The Court finds no cogent reason why the ruling in Magbaleta as well as in all of the aforementioned cases should not equally
apply to suits involving husband and wife.

Petitioner makes much of the fact that the present case involves a husband and his wife while Magbaleta is a case between
brothers. However, the Court finds no specific, unique, or special circumstance that would make the ruling in Magbaleta as
well as in the abovementioned cases inapplicable to suits involving a husband and his wife, as in the present case. In the first
place, Article 151 of the Family Code and Article 222 of the Civil Code are clear that the provisions therein apply to suits
involving "members of the same family" as contemplated under Article 150 of the Family Code, to wit:

ART. 150. Family relations include those:

(1) Between husband and wife;


(2) Between parents and children;
(3) Among other ascendants and descendants; and
(4) Among brothers and sisters, whether of the full or half blood.
and Article 217 of the Civil Code, to wit:

ART. 217. Family relations shall include those:

(1) Between husband and wife;


(2) Between parent and child;
(3) Among other ascendants and their descendants;
(4) Among brothers and sisters.
Petitioner also contends that the trial court committed grave abuse of discretion when it ruled that petitioner, not being a
member of the same family as respondent, may not invoke the provisions of Article 151 of the Family Code.

Suffice it to say that since the Court has ruled that the requirement under Article 151 of the Family Code is applicable only in
cases which are exclusively between or among members of the same family, it necessarily follows that the same may be
invoked only by a party who is a member of that same family.

WHEREFORE, the instant Petition for Certiorari is DISMISSED for lack of merit.

Costs against petitioner.

SO ORDERED.
The Family Home (Article 152-162 of the Family)
PATRICIO vs DARIO III, GR No. 170829, November 20, 2006

DECISION

YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:

This petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court seeks to annul and set aside the Resolution of the
Court of Appeals dated December 9, 2005[1] in CA-G.R. CV No. 80680, which dismissed the complaint for partition filed by
petitioner for being contrary to law and evidence.

On July 5, 1987, Marcelino V. Dario died intestate. He was survived by his wife, petitioner Perla G. Patricio and their two
sons, Marcelino Marc Dario and private respondent Marcelino G. Dario III. Among the properties he left was a parcel of land
with a residential house and a pre-school building built thereon situated at 91 Oxford corner Ermin Garcia Streets in Cubao,
Quezon City, as evidenced by Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. RT-30731 (175992) of the Quezon City Registry of
Deeds, covering an area of seven hundred fifty five (755) square meters, more or less.[2]

On August 10, 1987, petitioner, Marcelino Marc and private respondent, extrajudicially settled the estate of Marcelino V.
Dario. Accordingly, TCT No. RT-30731 (175992) was cancelled and TCT No. R-213963 was issued in the names of petitioner,
private respondent and Marcelino Marc.

Thereafter, petitioner and Marcelino Marc formally advised private respondent of their intention to partition the subject
property and terminate the co-ownership. Private respondent refused to partition the property hence petitioner and Marcelino
Marc instituted an action for partition before the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City which was docketed as Civil Case No. Q-
01-44038 and raffled to Branch 78.

On October 3, 2002,[3] the trial court ordered the partition of the subject property in the following manner: Perla G.
Patricio, 4/6; Marcelino Marc G. Dario, 1/6; and Marcelino G. Dario III, 1/6. The trial court also ordered the sale of the
property by public auction wherein all parties concerned may put up their bids. In case of failure, the subject property should
be distributed accordingly in the aforestated manner.[4]

Private respondent filed a motion for reconsideration which was denied by the trial court on August 11,
2003, [5]
hence he appealed before the Court of Appeals, which denied the same on October 19, 2005. However, upon a
motion for reconsideration filed by private respondent on December 9, 2005, the appellate court partially reconsidered the
October 19, 2005 Decision. In the now assailed Resolution, the Court of Appeals dismissed the complaint for partition filed by
petitioner and Marcelino Marc for lack of merit. It held that the family home should continue despite the death of one or both
spouses as long as there is a minor beneficiary thereof. The heirs could not partition the property unless the court found
compelling reasons to rule otherwise. The appellate court also held that the minor son of private respondent, who is a
grandson of spouses Marcelino V. Dario and Perla G. Patricio, was a minor beneficiary of the family home.[6]

Hence, the instant petition on the following issues:

I.
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS PATENTLY ERRED IN REVERSING ITS EARLIER DECISION OF
OCTOBER 19, 2005 WHICH AFFIRMED IN TOTO THE DECISION OF THE TRIAL COURT DATED 03 OCTOBER
2002 GRANTING THE PARTITION AND SALE BY PUBLIC AUCTION OF THE SUBJECT PROPERTY.
II.
COROLLARILY, THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS PATENTLY ERRED IN APPLYING ARTICLE 159 IN
RELATION TO ARTICLE 154 OF THE FAMILY CODE ON FAMILY HOME INSTEAD OF ARTICLE 494 IN RELATION
TO ARTICLES 495 AND 498 OF THE NEW CIVIL CODE ON CO-OWNERSHIP.[7]

The sole issue is whether partition of the family home is proper where one of the co-owners refuse to accede to such
partition on the ground that a minor beneficiary still resides in the said home.

Private respondent claims that the subject property which is the family home duly constituted by spouses Marcelino
and Perla Dario cannot be partitioned while a minor beneficiary is still living therein namely, his 12-year-old son, who is the
grandson of the decedent. He argues that as long as the minor is living in the family home, the same continues as such until
the beneficiary becomes of age. Private respondent insists that even after the expiration of ten years from the date of death
of Marcelino on July 5, 1987, i.e., even after July 1997, the subject property continues to be considered as the family home
considering that his minor son, Marcelino Lorenzo R. Dario IV, who is a beneficiary of the said family home, still resides in the
premises.

On the other hand, petitioner alleges that the subject property remained as a family home of the surviving heirs of
the late Marcelino V. Dario only up to July 5, 1997, which was the 10th year from the date of death of the
decedent. Petitioner argues that the brothers Marcelino Marc and private respondent Marcelino III were already of age at the
time of the death of their father,[8] hence there is no more minor beneficiary to speak of.

The family home is a sacred symbol of family love and is the repository of cherished memories that last during ones
lifetime. [9]
It is the dwelling house where husband and wife, or by an unmarried head of a family, reside, including the land
on which it is situated.[10] It is constituted jointly by the husband and the wife or by an unmarried head of a family.[11] The
family home is deemed constituted from the time it is occupied as a family residence. From the time of its constitution and so
long as any of its beneficiaries actually resides therein, the family home continues to be such and is exempt from execution,
forced sale or attachment except as hereinafter provided and to the extent of the value allowed by law.[12]

The law explicitly provides that occupancy of the family home either by the owner thereof or by any of its beneficiaries must
be actual. That which is actual is something real, or actually existing, as opposed to something merely possible, or to
something which is presumptive or constructive. Actual occupancy, however, need not be by the owner of the house
specifically. Rather, the property may be occupied by the beneficiaries enumerated in Article 154 of the Family Code, which
may include the in-laws where the family home is constituted jointly by the husband and wife. But the law definitely excludes
maids and overseers. They are not the beneficiaries contemplated by the Code.[13]

Article 154 of the Family Code enumerates who are the beneficiaries of a family home: (1) The husband and wife, or an
unmarried person who is the head of a family; and (2) Their parents, ascendants, descendants, brothers and sisters, whether
the relationship be legitimate or illegitimate, who are living in the family home and who depend upon the head of the family
for legal support.

To be a beneficiary of the family home, three requisites must concur: (1) they must be among the relationships enumerated
in Art. 154 of the Family Code; (2) they live in the family home; and (3) they are dependent for legal support upon the head
of the family.
Moreover, Article 159 of the Family Code provides that the family home shall continue despite the death of one or both
spouses or of the unmarried head of the family for a period of 10 years or for as long as there is a minor beneficiary, and the
heirs cannot partition the same unless the court finds compelling reasons therefor. This rule shall apply regardless of
whoever owns the property or constituted the family home.

Article 159 of the Family Code applies in situations where death occurs to persons who constituted the family home. Dr.
Arturo M. Tolentino comments on the effect of death of one or both spouses or the unmarried head of a family on the
continuing existence of the family home:

Upon the death of the spouses or the unmarried family head who constituted the family home, or of the
spouse who consented to the constitution of his or her separate property as family home, the property will
remain as family home for ten years or for as long as there is a minor beneficiary living in it. If there is no
more beneficiary left at the time of death, we believe the family home will be dissolved or cease,
because there is no more reason for its existence. If there are beneficiaries who survive living in
the family home, it will continue for ten years, unless at the expiration of the ten years, there is
still a minor beneficiary, in which case the family home continues until that beneficiary becomes
of age.
After these periods lapse, the property may be partitioned by the heirs. May the heirs who are beneficiaries
of the family home keep it intact by not partitioning the property after the period provided by this
article? We believe that although the heirs will continue in ownership by not partitioning the
property, it will cease to be a family home.[14] (Emphasis supplied)
Prof. Ernesto L. Pineda further explains the import of Art. 159 in this manner:

The family home shall continue to exist despite the death of one or both spouses or of the unmarried head
of the family. Thereafter, the length of its continued existence is dependent upon whether there is still a
minor-beneficiary residing therein. For as long as there is one beneficiary even if the head of the
family or both spouses are already dead, the family home will continue to exist (Arts. 153, 159). If
there is no minor-beneficiary, it will subsist until 10 years and within this period, the heirs
cannot partition the same except when there are compelling reasons which will justify the
partition. This rule applies regardless of whoever owns the property or who constituted the family
home.[15] (Emphasis supplied)

The rule in Article 159 of the Family Code may thus be expressed in this wise: If there are beneficiaries who survive and are
living in the family home, it will continue for 10 years, unless at the expiration of 10 years, there is still a minor beneficiary,
in which case the family home continues until that beneficiary becomes of age.

It may be deduced from the view of Dr. Tolentino that as a general rule, the family home may be preserved for a minimum
of 10 years following the death of the spouses or the unmarried family head who constituted the family home, or of the
spouse who consented to the constitution of his or her separate property as family home. After 10 years and a minor
beneficiary still lives therein, the family home shall be preserved only until that minor beneficiary reaches the age of
majority. The intention of the law is to safeguard and protect the interests of the minor beneficiary until he reaches legal age
and would now be capable of supporting himself. However, three requisites must concur before a minor beneficiary is entitled
to the benefits of Art. 159: (1) the relationship enumerated in Art. 154 of the Family Code; (2) they live in the family home,
and (3) they are dependent for legal support upon the head of the family.
Thus, the issue for resolution now is whether Marcelino Lorenzo R. Dario IV, the minor son of private respondent, can be
considered as a beneficiary under Article 154 of the Family Code.
As to the first requisite, the beneficiaries of the family home are: (1) The husband and wife, or an unmarried person
who is the head of a family; and (2) Their parents, ascendants, descendants, brothers and sisters, whether the relationship
be legitimate or illegitimate. The term descendants contemplates all descendants of the person or persons who constituted
the family home without distinction; hence, it must necessarily include the grandchildren and great grandchildren of the
spouses who constitute a family home. Ubi lex non distinguit nec nos distinguire debemos. Where the law does not
distinguish, we should not distinguish. Thus, private respondents minor son, who is also the grandchild of deceased Marcelino
V. Dario satisfies the first requisite.

As to the second requisite, minor beneficiaries must be actually living in the family home to avail of the benefits derived from
Art. 159. Marcelino Lorenzo R. Dario IV, also known as Ino, the son of private respondent and grandson of the decedent
Marcelino V. Dario, has been living in the family home since 1994, or within 10 years from the death of the decedent, hence,
he satisfies the second requisite.

However, as to the third requisite, Marcelino Lorenzo R. Dario IV cannot demand support from his paternal grandmother if he
has parents who are capable of supporting him. The liability for legal support falls primarily on Marcelino Lorenzo R. Dario IVs
parents, especially his father, herein private respondent who is the head of his immediate family. The law first imposes the
obligation of legal support upon the shoulders of the parents, especially the father, and only in their default is the obligation
imposed on the grandparents.

Marcelino Lorenzo R. Dario IV is dependent on legal support not from his grandmother, but from his father. Thus, despite
residing in the family home and his being a descendant of Marcelino V. Dario, Marcelino Lorenzo R. Dario IV cannot be
considered as beneficiary contemplated under Article 154 because he did not fulfill the third requisite of being dependent on
his grandmother for legal support. It is his father whom he is dependent on legal support, and who must now establish his
own family home separate and distinct from that of his parents, being of legal age.

Legal support, also known as family support, is that which is provided by law, comprising everything indispensable
for sustenance, dwelling, clothing, medical attendance, education and transportation, in keeping with the financial capacity of
the family.[16] Legal support has the following characteristics: (1) It is personal, based on family ties which bind the obligor
and the obligee; (2) It is intransmissible; (3) It cannot be renounced; (4) It cannot be compromised; (5) It is free from
attachment or execution; (6) It is reciprocal; (7) It is variable in amount.[17]

Professor Pineda is of the view that grandchildren cannot demand support directly from their grandparents if they have
parents (ascendants of nearest degree) who are capable of supporting them. This is so because we have to follow the order
of support under Art. 199.[18] We agree with this view.

The reasons behind Art. 199 as explained by Pineda and Tolentino: the closer the relationship of the relatives, the stronger
the tie that binds them. Thus, the obligation to support under Art. 199 which outlines the order of liability for support is
imposed first upon the shoulders of the closer relatives and only in their default is the obligation moved to the next nearer
relatives and so on.

There is no showing that private respondent is without means to support his son; neither is there any evidence to
prove that petitioner, as the paternal grandmother, was willing to voluntarily provide for her grandsons legal support. On the
contrary, herein petitioner filed for the partition of the property which shows an intention to dissolve the family home, since
there is no more reason for its existence after the 10-year period ended in 1997.
With this finding, there is no legal impediment to partition the subject property.
The law does not encourage co-ownerships among individuals as oftentimes it results in inequitable situations such as in the
instant case. Co-owners should be afforded every available opportunity to divide their co-owned property to prevent these
situations from arising.
As we ruled in Santos v. Santos,[19] no co-owner ought to be compelled to stay in a co-ownership indefinitely, and may insist
on partition on the common property at any time. An action to demand partition is imprescriptible or cannot be barred by
laches. Each co-owner may demand at any time the partition of the common property.[20]

Since the parties were unable to agree on a partition, the court a quo should have ordered a partition by
commissioners pursuant to Section 3, Rule 69 of the Rules of Court. Not more than three competent and disinterested
persons should be appointed as commissioners to make the partition, commanding them to set off to the plaintiff and to each
party in interest such part and proportion of the property as the court shall direct.

When it is made to appear to the commissioners that the real estate, or a portion thereof, cannot be divided without great
prejudice to the interest of the parties, the court may order it assigned to one of the parties willing to take the same,
provided he pays to the other parties such sum or sums of money as the commissioners deem equitable, unless one of the
parties interested ask that the property be sold instead of being so assigned, in which case the court shall order the
commissioners to sell the real estate at public sale, and the commissioners shall sell the same accordingly.[21]

The partition of the subject property should be made in accordance with the rule embodied in Art. 996 of the Civil
Code.[22] Under the law of intestate succession, if the widow and legitimate children survive, the widow has the same share
as that of each of the children. However, since only one-half of the conjugal property which is owned by the decedent is to be
allocated to the legal and compulsory heirs (the other half to be given exclusively to the surviving spouse as her conjugal
share of the property), the widow will have the same share as each of her two surviving children. Hence, the respective
shares of the subject property, based on the law on intestate succession are: (1) Perla Generosa Dario, 4/6; (2) Marcelino
Marc G. Dario II, 1/6 and (3) Marcelino G. Dario III, 1/6.
In Vda. de Daffon v. Court of Appeals,[23] we held that an action for partition is at once an action for declaration of co-
ownership and for segregation and conveyance of a determinate portion of the properties involved. If the court after trial
should find the existence of co-ownership among the parties, the court may and should order the partition of the properties
in the same action.[24]

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 80680 dated December
9, 2005, is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The case is REMANDED to the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 78, who
is directed to conduct a PARTITION BY COMMISSIONERS and effect the actual physical partition of the subject property, as
well as the improvements that lie therein, in the following manner: Perla G. Dario, 4/6; Marcelino Marc G. Dario, 1/6 and
Marcelino G. Dario III, 1/6. The trial court is DIRECTED to appoint not more than three (3) competent and disinterested
persons, who should determine the technical metes and bounds of the property and the proper share appertaining to each
heir, including the improvements, in accordance with Rule 69 of the Rules of Court. When it is made to the commissioners
that the real estate, or a portion thereof, cannot be divided without great prejudice to the interest of the parties, the court a
quo may order it assigned to one of the parties willing to take the same, provided he pays to the other parties such sum or
sums of money as the commissioners deem equitable, unless one of the parties interested ask that the property be sold
instead of being so assigned, in which case the court shall order the commissioners to sell the real estate at public sale, and
the commissioners shall sell the same accordingly, and thereafter distribute the proceeds of the sale appertaining to the just
share of each heir. No pronouncement as to costs.

SO ORDERED.
MODEQUILLO vs BREVA, GR. No. 86355, May 31, 1990
264 Phil. 381

GANCAYCO, J.:
The issue in this petition is whether or not a final judgment of the Court of Appeals in an action for damages may be satisfied
by way of execution of a family home constituted under the Family Code.
The facts are undisputed.
On January 29, 1988, a judgment was rendered by the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 09218 entitled "Francisco Salinas,
et al. vs. Jose Modequillo, et al.," the dispositive part of which reads as follows:
"WHEREFORE, the decision under appeal should be, as it is hereby, reversed and set aside. Judgment is hereby rendered
finding the defendants-appellees Jose Modequillo and Benito Malubay jointly and severally liable to plaintiffs-appellants
as hereinbelow set forth. Accordingly, defendants-appellees are ordered to pay jointly and severally to:
1. Plaintiffs-appellants, the Salinas spouses:
a. the amount of P30,000.00 by way of compensation for the death of their son Audie Salinas;
b. P10,000.00 for the loss of earnings by reason of the death of said Audie Salinas;
c. the sum of P5,000.00 as burial expenses of Audie Salinas; and
d. the sum of P5,000.00 by way of moral damages.
2. Plaintiffs-appellants Culan-Culan:
a. the sum of P5,000.00 for hospitalization expenses of Renato Culan-Culan; and
b. P5,000.00 for moral damages.
3. Both plaintiffs-appellants Salinas and Culan-Culan, P7,000.00 for attorney's fees and litigation expenses.
All counterclaims and other claims are hereby dismissed."[1]
The said judgment having become final and executory, a writ of execution was issued by the Regional Trial Court
of Davao City to satisfy the said judgment on the goods and chattels of the defendants Jose Modequillo and
Benito Malubay at Malalag, Davao del Sur.
On July 7, 1988, the sheriff levied on a parcel of residential land located at Poblacion Malalag, Davao del Sur containing an
area of 600 square meters with a market value of P34,550.00 and assessed value of P7,570.00 per Tax Declaration No. 87-
008-01359, registered in the name of Jose Modequillo in the office of the Provincial Assessor of Davao del Sur; and a parcel
of agricultural land located at Dalagbong, Bulacan, Malalag, Davao del Sur containing an area of 3 hectares with a market
value of P24,130.00 and assessed value of P9,650.00 per Tax Declaration No. 87-08-01848 registered in the name of
Jose Modequillo in the office of the Provincial Assessor of Davao del Sur.[2]
A motion to quash and/or to set aside levy of execution was filed by defendant Jose Modequillo alleging therein that the
residential land located at Poblacion Malalag is where the family home is built since 1969 prior to the commencement of this
case and as such is exempt from execution, forced sale or attachment under Articles 152 and 153 of the Family Code except
for liabilities mentioned in Article 155 thereof; and that the judgment debt sought to be enforced against the family home of
defendant is not one of those enumerated under Article 155 of the Family Code. As to the agricultural land although it is
declared in the name of defendant it is alleged to be still part of the public land and the transfer in his favor by the original
possessor and applicant who was a member of a cultural minority was not approved by the proper government agency. An
opposition thereto was filed by the plaintiffs.
In an order dated August 26, 1988, the trial court denied the motion. A motion for reconsideration thereof was filed by
defendant and this was denied for lack of merit on September 2, 1988.
Hence, the herein petition for review on certiorari wherein it is alleged that the trial court erred and acted in excess of its
jurisdiction in denying petitioner's motion to quash and/or to set aside levy on the properties and in denying petitioner's
motion for reconsideration of the order dated August 26, 1988. Petitioner contends that only a question of law is involved in
this petition. He asserts that the residential house and lot was first occupied as his family residence in 1969 and was duly
constituted as a family home under the Family Code which took effect on August 4, 1988. Thus, petitioner argues that the
said residential house and lot is exempt from payment of the obligation enumerated in Article 155 of the Family Code; and
that the decision in this case pertaining to damages arising from a vehicular accident took place on March 16, 1976 and
which became final in 1988 is not one of those instances enumerated under Article 155 of the Family Code when the family
home may be levied upon and sold on execution. It is further alleged that the trial court erred in holding that the said house
and lot became a family home only on August 4, 1988 when the Family Code became effective, and that the Family Code
cannot be interpreted in such a way that all family residences are deemed to have been constituted as family homes at the
time of their occupancy prior to the effectivity of the said Code and that they are exempt from execution for the payment of
obligations incurred before the effectivity of said Code; and that it also erred when it declared that Article 162 of the Family
Code does not state that the provisions of Chapter 2, Title V have a retroactive effect.
Articles 152 and 153 of the Family Code provide as follows:
"Art. 152. The family home, constituted jointly by the husband and the wife or by an unmarried head of a family, is the
dwelling house where they and their family reside, and the land on which it is situated."
"Art. 153. The family home is deemed constituted on a house and lot from the time it is occupied as a family
residence. From the time of its constitution and so long as any of its beneficiaries actually resides therein, the family home
continues to be such and is exempt from execution, forced sale or attachment except as hereinafter provided and to the
extent of the value allowed by law."
Under the Family Code, a family home is deemed constituted on a house and lot from the time it is occupied as a family
residence. There is no need to constitute the same judicially or extrajudicially as required in the Civil Code. If the family
actually resides in the premises, it is, therefore, a family home as contemplated by law. Thus, the creditors should take the
necessary precautions to protect their interest before extending credit to the spouses or head of the family who owns the
home.
Article 155 of the Family Code also provides as follows:
"Art. 155. The family home shall be exempt from execution, forced sale or attachment except:
(1) For nonpayment of taxes;
(2) For debts incurred prior to the constitution of the family home;
(3) For debts secured by mortgages on the premises before or after such constitution; and
(4) For debts due to laborers, mechanics, architects, builders, materialmen and others who have rendered service or
furnished material for the construction of the building."
The exemption provided as aforestated is effective from the time of the constitution of the family home as such, and lasts so
long as any of its beneficiaries actually resides therein.
In the present case, the residential house and lot of petitioner was not constituted as a family home whether judicially
or extrajudiciallyunder the Civil Code. It became a family home by operation of law only under Article 153 of the Family
Code. It is deemed constituted as a family home upon the effectivity of the Family Code on August 3, 1988 not August 4,
one year after its publication in the Manila Chronicle on August 4, 1987 (1988 being a leap year).
The contention of petitioner that it should be considered a family home from the time it was occupied by petitioner and his
family in 1969 is not well-taken. Under Article 162 of the Family Code, it is provided that "the provisions of this Chapter
shall also govern existing family residences insofar as said provisions are applicable." It does not mean that Articles 152 and
153 of said Code have a retroactive effect such that all existing family residences are deemed to have been constituted as
family homes at the time of their occupation prior to the effectivity of the Family Code and are exempt from execution for the
payment of obligations incurred before the effectivity of the Family Code. Article 162 simply means that all existing family
residences at the time of the effectivity of the Family Code, are considered family homes and are prospectively entitled to the
benefits accorded to a family home under the Family Code. Article 162 does not state that the provisions of Chapter 2, Title
V have a retroactive effect.
Is the family home of petitioner exempt from execution of the money judgment aforecited? No. The debt or liability which
was the basis of the judgment arose or was incurred at the time of the vehicular accident on March 16, 1976 and the money
judgment arising therefromwas rendered by the appellate court on January 29, 1988. Both preceded the effectivity of the
Family Code on August 3, 1988. This case does not fall under the exemptions from execution provided in the Family Code.
As to the agricultural land subject of the execution, the trial court correctly ruled that the levy to be made by the sheriff shall
be on whatever rights the petitioner may have on the land.
WHEREFORE, the petition is DISMISSED for lack of merit. No pronouncement as to costs.
SO ORDERED.
MANACOP vs CA and E&L MERCANTILE, GR No. 97898, August 11, 1997

DECISION

PANGANIBAN, J.:

May a writ of execution of a final and executory judgment issued before the effectivity of the Family Code be executed
on a house and lot constituted as a family home under the provision of said Code?

Statement of the Case

This is the principal question posed by petitioner in assailing the Decision of Respondent Court of Appeals[1] in CA-G.R.
SP No. 18906 promulgated on February 21, 1990 and its Resolution promulgated on March 21, 1991, affirming the orders
issued by the trial court commanding the issuance of various writs of execution to enforce the latters decision in Civil Case
No. 53271.

The Facts

Petitioner Florante F. Manacop[2] and his wife Eulaceli purchased on March 10, 1972 a 446-square-meter residential lot
with a bungalow, in consideration of P75,000.00.[3] The property, located in Commonwealth Village, Commonwealth Avenue,
Quezon City, is covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. 174180.
On March 17, 1986, Private Respondent E & L Mercantile, Inc. filed a complaint against petitioner and F.F. Manacop
Construction Co., Inc. before the Regional Trial Court of Pasig, Metro Manila to collect an indebtedness
of P3,359,218.45. Instead of filing an answer, petitioner and his company entered into a compromise agreement with private
respondent, the salient portion of which provides:

c. That defendants will undertake to pay the amount of P2,000,000.00 as and when their means permit, but expeditiously as
possible as their collectibles will be collected. (sic)

On April 20, 1986, the trial court rendered judgment approving the aforementioned compromise agreement. It enjoined
the parties to comply with the agreement in good faith. On July 15, 1986, private respondent filed a motion for execution
which the lower court granted on September 23, 1986. However, execution of the judgment was delayed. Eventually, the
sheriff levied on several vehicles and other personal properties of petitioner. In partial satisfaction of the judgment debt,
these chattels were sold at public auction for which certificates of sale were correspondingly issued by the sheriff.
On August 1, 1989, petitioner and his company filed a motion to quash the alias writs of execution and to stop the
sheriff from continuing to enforce them on the ground that the judgment was not yet executory. They alleged that the
compromise agreement had not yet matured as there was no showing that they had the means to pay the indebtedness or
that their receivables had in fact been collected. They buttressed their motion with supplements and other pleadings.
On August 11, 1989, private respondent opposed the motion on the following grounds: (a) it was too late to question
the September 23, 1986 Order considering that more than two years had elapsed; (b) the second alias writ of execution had
been partially implemented; and (c) petitioner and his company were in bad faith in refusing to pay their indebtedness
notwithstanding that from February 1984 to January 5, 1989, they had collected the total amount of P41,664,895.56. On
September 21, 1989, private respondent filed an opposition to petitioner and his companys addendum to the motion to
quash the writ of execution. It alleged that the property covered by TCT No. 174180 could not be considered a family home
on the grounds that petitioner was already living abroad and that the property, having been acquired in 1972, should have
been judicially constituted as a family home to exempt it from execution.
On September 26, 1989, the lower court denied the motion to quash the writ of execution and the prayers in the
subsequent pleadings filed by petitioner and his company. Finding that petitioner and his company had not paid their
indebtedness even though they collected receivables amounting to P57,224,319.75, the lower court held that the case had
become final and executory. It also ruled that petitioners residence was not exempt from execution as it was not duly
constituted as a family home, pursuant to the Civil Code.
Hence, petitioner and his company filed with the Court of Appeals a petition for certiorari assailing the lower courts
Orders of September 23, 1986 and September 26, 1989. On February 21, 1990, Respondent Court of Appeals rendered its
now questioned Decision dismissing the petition for certiorari. The appellate court quoted with approval the findings of the
lower court that: (a) the judgment based on the compromise agreement had become final and executory, stressing that
petitioner and his company had collected the total amount of P57,224,319.75 but still failed to pay their indebtedness and
(b) there was no showing that petitioners residence had been duly constituted as a family home to exempt it from
execution. On the second finding, the Court of Appeals added that:

x x x. We agree with the respondent judge that there is no showing in evidence that petitioner Maacops residence under TCT
174180 has been duly constituted as a family home in accordance with law. For one thing, it is the clear implication of Article
153 that the family home continues to be so deemed constituted so long as any of its beneficiaries enumerated in Article 154
actually resides therein. Conversely, it ceases to continue as such family home if none of its beneficiaries actually occupies it.
There is no showing in evidence that any of its beneficiaries is actually residing therein. On the other hand, the unrefuted
assertion of private respondent is that petitioner Florante Maacop had already left the country and is now, together with all
the members of his family, living in West Covina, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.

Petitioner and his company filed a motion for reconsideration of this Decision on the ground that the property covered
by TCT No. 174180 was exempt from execution. On March 21, 1991, the Court of Appeals rendered the challenged
Resolution denying the motion. It anchored its ruling on Modequillo v. Breva,[4] which held that all existing family residences
at the time of the effectivity of the Family Code are considered family homes and are prospectively entitled to the benefits
accorded to a family home under the Family Code.
Applying the foregoing pronouncements to this case, the Court of Appeals explained:

The record of the present case shows that petitioners incurred the debt of P3,468,000.00 from private respondent
corporation on February 18, 1982 (Annex `A, Petition). The judgment based upon the compromise agreement was rendered
by the court on April 18, 1986 (Annex `C, Ibid). Paraphrasing the aforecited Modequillo case, both the debt and the
judgment preceded the effectivity of the Family Code on August 3, 1988. Verily, the case at bar does not fall under the
exemptions from execution provided under Article 155 of the Family Code.

Undeterred, petitioner filed the instant petition for review on certiorari arguing that the Court of Appeals
misapplied Modequillo. He contends that there was no need for him to constitute his house and lot as a family home for it to
be treated as such since he was and still is a resident of the same property from the time it was levied upon and up to this
moment.

The Issue
As stated in the opening sentence of this Decision, the issue in this case boils down to whether a final and executory
decision promulgated and a writ of execution issued before the effectivity of the Family Code can be executed on a family
home constituted under the provisions of the said Code.

The Courts Ruling

We answer the question in the affirmative. The Court of Appeals committed no reversible error. On the contrary, its
Decision and Resolution are supported by law and applicable jurisprudence.

No Novel Issue

At the outset, the Court notes that the issue submitted for resolution in the instant case is not entirely new. In
Manacop v. Court of Appeals,[5] petitioner himself as a party therein raised a similar question of whether this very same
property was exempt from preliminary attachment for the same excuse that it was his family home. In said case, F.F. Cruz &
Co., Inc. filed a complaint for a sum of money. As an incident in the proceedings before it, the trial court issued a writ of
attachment on the said house and lot. In upholding the trial court (and the Court of Appeals) in that case, we ruled that
petitioner incurred the indebtedness in 1987 or prior to the effectivity of the Family Code on August 3, 1988. Hence,
petitioners family home was not exempt from attachment by sheer force of exclusion embodied in paragraph 2, Article 155 of
the Family Code cited in Modequillo, where the Court categorically ruled:

Under the Family Code, a family home is deemed constituted on a house and lot from the time it is occupied as a family
residence. There is no need to constitute the same judicially or extrajudicially as required in the Civil Code. If the family
actually resides in the premises, it is, therefore, a family home as contemplated by law. Thus, the creditors should take the
necessary precautions to protect their interest before extending credit to the spouses or head of the family who owns the
home.
Article 155 of the Family Code also provides as follows:

Art. 155. The family home shall be exempt from execution, forced sale or attachment except:
(1) For nonpayment of taxes;
(2) For debts incurred prior to the constitution of the family home;
(3) For debts secured by mortgages on the premises before or after such constitution; and
(4) For debts due to laborers, mechanics, architects, builders, materialmen and others who have rendered service
or furnished material for the construction of the building.

The exemption provided as aforestated is effective from the time of the constitution of the family home as such, and lasts so
long as any of its beneficiaries actually resides therein.
In the present case, the residential house and lot of petitioner was not constituted as a family home whether judicially or
extrajudicially under the Civil Code. It became a family home by operation of law only under Article 153 of the Family Code.
It is deemed constituted as a family home upon the effectivity of the Family Code on August 3, 1988 not August 4, one year
after its publication in the Manila Chronicle on August 4, 1987 (1988 being a leap year).
The contention of petitioner that it should be considered a family home from the time it was occupied by petitioner and his
family in 1960 is not well-taken. Under Article 162 of the Family Code, it is provided that `the provisions of this Chapter shall
also govern existing family residences insofar as said provisions are applicable. It does not mean that Articles 152 and 153 of
said Code have a retroactive effect such that all existing family residences are deemed to have been constituted as family
homes at the time of their occupation prior to the effectivity of the Family Code and are exempt from execution for the
payment of obligations incurred before the effectivity of the Family Code. Article 162 simply means that all existing family
residences at the time of the effectivity of the Family Code, are considered family homes and are prospectively entitled to the
benefits accorded to a family home under the Family Code. Article 162 does not state that the provisions of Chapter 2, Title V
have a retroactive effect.
Is the family home of petitioner exempt from execution of the money judgment aforecited? No. The debt or liability which
was the basis of the judgment arose or was incurred at the time of the vehicular accident on March 16, 1976 and the money
judgment arising therefrom was rendered by the appellate court on January 29, 1988. Both preceded the effectivity of the
Family Code on August 3, 1988. This case does not fall under the exemptions from execution provided in the Family
Code.[6]6 (Underscoring supplied.)

Article 153 of the Family Code Has No Retroactive Effect

Petitioner contends that the trial court erred in holding that his residence was not exempt from execution in view of his
failure to show that the property involved has been duly constituted as a family home in accordance with law. He asserts that
the Family Code and Modequillo require simply the occupancy of the property by the petitioner, without need for its judicial
or extrajudicial constitution as a family home.[7]
Petitioner is only partly correct. True, under the Family Code which took effect on August 3, 1988,[8] the subject
property became his family home under the simplified process embodied in Article 153 of said
Code. However, Modequillo explicitly ruled that said provision of the Family Code does not have retroactive effect. In other
words, prior to August 3, 1988, the procedure mandated by the Civil Code[9] had to be followed for a family home to be
constituted as such. There being absolutely no proof that the subject property was judicially or extrajudicially constituted as
a family home, it follows that the laws protective mantle cannot be availed of by petitioner. Since the debt involved herein
was incurred and the assailed orders of the trial court issued prior to August 3, 1988, the petitioner cannot be shielded by
the benevolent provisions of the Family Code.

List of Beneficiary-Occupants Restricted to Those Enumerated in the Code

In view of the foregoing discussion, there is no reason to address the other arguments of petitioner other than to
correct his misconception of the law. Petitioner contends that he should be deemed residing in the family home because his
stay in the United States is merely temporary. He asserts that the person staying in the house is his overseer and that
whenever his wife visited this country, she stayed in the family home. This contention lacks merit.
The law explicitly provides that occupancy of the family home either by the owner thereof or by any of its beneficiaries
must be actual. That which is actual is something real, or actually existing, as opposed to something merely possible, or to
something which is presumptive or constructive.[10] Actual occupancy, however, need not be by the owner of the house
specifically. Rather, the property may be occupied by the beneficiaries enumerated by Article 154 of the Family Code.

Art. 154. The beneficiaries of a family home are:


(1) The husband and wife, or an unmarried person who is the head of the family; and
(2) Their parents, ascendants, descendants, brothers and sisters, whether the relationship be legitimate or illegitimate,
who are living in the family home and who depend upon the head of the family for lead support.
This enumeration may include the in-laws where the family home is constituted jointly by the husband and wife.[11] But
the law definitely excludes maids and overseers. They are not the beneficiaries contemplated by the Code. Consequently,
occupancy of a family home by an overseer like Carmencita V. Abat in this case [12]
is insufficient compliance with the law.
WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DENIED for utter lack of merit. This Decision is immediately executory. Double
costs against petitioner.

SO ORDERED.
TANEO Jr. Vs. CA, GR No. 108532, March 9, 1999

DECISION

KAPUNAN, J.:

The issues in this case are not novel: whether or not the conveyance made by way of the sheriffs sale pursuant to the
wit of execution issued by the trial court in Civil Case No. 590 is prohibited under Sec. 118 of Commonwealth Act No. 141;
and whether or not the family home is exempt from execution.
As a result of a judgment in Civil Case No. 590 (For recovery of property) in favor of private respondent, two (2)
petitioner's properties were levied to satisfy the judgment amount of about P5,000.00: one was a parcel of land located in
Barrio Igpit, Municipality of Opol, Misamis Oriental with an area of about five (5) hectares, and the other was the family
home also located at Igpit, Opol, Misamis Oriental. The subject properties were sold at public auction on February 12, 1966
to the private respondent as the highest bidder. Consequently, after petitioners failure to redeem the same, a final deed of
conveyance was executed on February 9, 1968, definitely selling, transferring, and conveying said properties to the private
respondent.
To forestall such conveyance, petitioners filed an action on November 5, 1985 (docketed as Civil Case No. 10407) to
declare the deed of conveyance void and to quiet title over the land with a prayer for a writ of preliminary injunction. In their
complaint, it was alleged that petitioners are the children and heirs of Pablo Taneo and Narcisa Valaceras who died on
February 12, 1977 and September 12, 1984, respectively. Upon their death, they left the subject property covered by OCT
No. P-12820 and Free Patent No. 548906. Considering that said property has been acquired through free patent, such
property is therefore inalienable and not subject to any encumbrance for the payment of debt, pursuant to Commonwealth
Act. No. 141. Petitioners further alleged that they were in continuous, open and peaceful possession of the land and that on
February 9, 1968, Deputy Provincial Sheriff Jose V. Yasay issued a Sheriffs Deed of Conveyance in favor of the private
respondent over the subject property including their family home which was extrajudicially constituted in accordance with
law. As a result of the alleged illegal deed of conveyance, private respondent was able to obtain in his name Tax Declaration
No. 851920 over the land, thus casting a cloud of doubt over the title and ownership of petitioners over said property.
Private respondent refuted petitioners contentions alleging that he lawfully acquired the subject properties described as
Lot No. 5545, Cad. 237 which was a private land, by virtue of a Sheriffs Sale on February 12, 1966. Said sale has become
final as no redemption was made within one year from the registration of the Sheriffs Certificate of Sale. The validity of the
sale in favor of Abdon Gilig was even confirmed by the Court of appeals in a related case (CA No. 499965-R) entitled
Arriola v. Gilig, where one Rufino Arriola also claimed ownership over the subject property.
Private respondent averred that the subject land was originally owned by Lazaro Ba-a who sold the land to Pablo Taneo
on September 18, 1941, as evidenced by an Escritura de Venta. Despite it being a private land, Pablo Taneo filed an
application for free patent which was made final only in 1979.
As counterclaim, private respondent alleged that since petitioners are still in possession of the subject property, he has
been deprived of acts of ownership and possession and therefore, prayed for payment of rentals from February, 1968 until
possession has been restored to them.
In its decision of March 27, 1989, the RTC dismissed the complaint.
The dispositive portion thereof reads as follows:

Premises considered, Judgment is hereby rendered in favor of the defendant and against the plaintiffs, ordering the dismissal
of the complaint filed by the plaintiffs;
a) Declaring OCT No P-12820 and Free Patent No. 548906 both in name of Pablo Taneo as null and void and
directing the Register of Deeds to cancel the same, without prejudice however on the part of the defendant to
institute legal proceedings for the transfer of the said title in the name of defendant Abdon Gilig;
b) Declaring Abdon Gilig as the absolute and legal owner of the land covered by OCT No. P-12820, and covered by
Tax Declaration No. 851920, and hence entitled to the possession of the same and as a necessary concomitant,
admonishing the plaintiffs to refrain from disturbing the peaceful possession of the defendant over the land in
question;
c) Likewise declaring the defendant Abdon Gilig as the true and absolute owner of the house in question formerly
declared under Tax Declaration No. 4142 in the name of Pablo Taneo and presently declared under Tax
Declaration No. 851916 in the name of Abdon Gilig; ordering the plaintiffs or any of their representatives to
vacate and return the possession of the same to defendant Abdon Gilig;
d) Ordering the plaintiffs, except the nominal parties herein, to pay to defendant Abdon Gilig the amount
of P500.00 a month as reasonable rental of the house in question to be reckoned from February 9, 1968 until
the possession of the same is returned to the defendant.
e) To pay to defendant the amount of P5,000.00 as attorneys fees and to pay the costs.

SO ORDERED.[1]

On appeal, the Court of Appeals affirmed in toto the decision of the RTC.
Hence, this petition.
The petition is devoid of merit.
In resolving the issues, the lower court made the following findings of fact which this Court finds no cogent reason to
disturb:

1. That the land in question originally belonged to Lazaro Ba-a who sold the same to the late Pablito (sic) Taneo
father of the herein plaintiff on September 18, 1941, by virtue of an Escritura de Venta identified as Reg. Not.
50; pages 53, Foleo Not. V, Series of 1941 of the Notarial Register of Ernie Pelaez (Exh. 10);
2. That on July 19, 1951 Abdon Gilig with his wife filed a Civil Case No. 590 for recovery of property against Pablo
Taneo, et al., wherein Judgment was rendered on June 24, 1964, in favor of Abdon Gilig and against Pablo
Taneo ordering the latter to pay damages in the amount of P5,000.00 (Exh. 2);
3. That by virtue of said decision, a writ of Execution was issued on November 22, 1965 against the properties of
Pablo Taneo and on December 1, 1965, a Notice of Levy was executed by the Clerk of Court Pedro Perez
wherein the properties in question were among the properties levied by the Sheriff (Exh. 3);
4. That the said properties were sold at public auction wherein the defendant Abdon Gilig came out as the highest
bidder and on February 12, 1965, a Sheriffs Certificate of Sale was executed by Ex-Oficio Provincial Sheriff
Pedro Perez (Exh. 1) ceding the said properties in favor of Abdon Gilig and which Certificate of Sale was
registered with the Register of Deeds of March 2, 1966;
5. That for failure to redeem the said property within the reglementary period, a Sheriffs final Deed of Conveyance
was executed by same Provincial Sheriff Jose V. Yasay on February 1968, (Exhs. 4, 4-A) conveying the property
definitely to Abdon Gilig.
6. That on April 20, 1966, after his third-party claim which he filed with the Sheriff in Civil Case No. 590 was not
given due course, Rufino Arriola filed Civil Case No. 2667 entitled Arriola vs. Abdon Gilig, et al., for Recovery of
Property and/or annulment of Sale with Damages;
7. That Judgment was rendered by the Court thru Judge Bernardo Teves dismissing the case with costs on
February 21, 1969;
8. That said decision was appealed to the Court of Appeals which affirmed the decision in toto on June 20, 1979;
declaring the alleged Deed of Sale executed by Abdon Gilig in favor of the plaintiff as null and void for being
simulated or fictitious and executed in fraud or (sic) creditors;
9. That on March 7, 1964, Pablo Taneo constituted the house in question erected on the land of Plutarco Vacalares
as a family home (Exh. F) but was however, notarized only on May 2, 1965 and registered with the Register of
Deeds on June 24, 1966;
10. That in the meanwhile, unknown to the defendant, Pablo Taneo applied for a free patent on the land in
question which was approved on October 13, 1973, (Exh. B) and the Patent and Title issued on December 10,
1980 (Oct No. P-12820-Exh. 12);

11. On November 3, 1985, the plaintiff filed the present action.[2]

Petitioners contend that under Section 118 of Commonwealth Act No. 141, the subject land which they inherited from
their father under free patent cannot be alienated or encumbered in violation of the law. Citing in particular the cases
of Oliveros v. Porciongcola[3] and Gonzaga v. Court of Appeals,[4] the execution or auction sale of the litigated land falls within
the prohibited period and is, likewise, a disavowal of the rationale of the law which is to give the homesteader or patentee
every chance to preserve for himself and his family the land which the State had gratuitously given to him as a reward for his
labor in cleaning and cultivating it.[5]
We are not unmindful of the intent of the law. In fact, in Republic v. Court of Appeals,[6] the Court elucidated, to wit:

It is well-known that the homestead laws were designed to distribute disposable agricultural lots of the State to land-
destitute citizens for their home and cultivation. Pursuant to such benevolent intention the State prohibits the sale or
encumbrance of the homestead (Section 116) within five years after the grant of the patent. After that five-year period the
law impliedly permits alienation of the homestead; but in line with the primordial purpose to favor the homesteader and his
family the statute provides that such alienation or conveyance (Section 117) shall be subject to the right of repurchase by
the homesteader, his widow or heirs within five years. This Section 117 is undoubtedly a complement of Section 116. It aims
to preserve and keep in the family of the homesteader that portion of public land which the State had gratuitously given to
him. It would, therefore, be in keeping with this fundamental idea to hold, as we hold, that the right to repurchase exists not
only when the original homesteader makes the conveyance, but also when it is made by his widow or heirs. This construction
is clearly deducible from the terms of the statute.

The intent of the law is undisputable but under the facts of the case, the prohibition invoked by the petitioners under
Section 118 does not apply to them.
Section 118 of Commonwealth Act No. 141 reads:

Except in favor of the Government or any of its branches, units or institutions, or legally constituted banking corporations,
lands acquired under free patent or homestead provisions shall not be subject to encumbrance or alienation from the date of
the approval of the application and for a term of five years from and after the date of issuance of the patent or grant, nor
shall they become liable to the satisfaction of any debt contracted prior to the expiration of said period, but the
improvements or crops on the land may be mortgaged or pledged to qualified persons, associations, or corporations.

x x x.

The prohibition against alienation of lands acquired by homestead or free patent commences on the date of the approval
of the application for free patent and the five-year period is counted from the issuance of the patent. The reckoning point is
actually the date of approval of the application. In Amper v. Presiding Judge,[7] the Court held that:
x x x The date when the prohibition against the alienation of lands acquired by homesteads or free patents commences is the
date of the approval of the application and the prohibition embraces the entire five-year period from and after the date of
issuance of the patent or grant.As stated in Beniga v. Bugas, (35 SCRA 111), the provision would make no sense if the
prohibition starting from the date of the approval of the application would have no termination date.
The specific period of five years within which the alienation or encumbrance of a homestead is restricted starts to be
computed from the date of the issuance of the patent. But the prohibition of alienation commences from the date the
application is approved which comes earlier.(Underlining ours.)

Following this ruling, we agree with the respondent court that the conveyance made by way of the sheriffs sale was not
violative of the law. The judgment obligation of the petitioners against Abdon Gilig arose on June 24, 1964. The properties
were levied and sold at public auction with Abdon Gilig as the highest bidder on February 12, 1966. On February 9, 1968, the
final deed of conveyance ceding the subject property to Abdon Gilig was issued after the petitioners failed to redeem the
property after the reglementary period. Pablo Taneos application for free patent was approved only on October 19, 1973.
The sequence of the events leads us to the inescapable conclusion that even before the application for homestead had
been approved, Pablo Taneo was no longer the owner of the land. The Deed of conveyance issued on February 9, 1968 finally
transferred the property to Abdon Gilig. As of that date, Pablo Taneo did not actually have anymore rights over the land
which he could have transferred to herein petitioners. The petitioners are not the owners of the land and cannot claim to be
such by invoking Commonwealth Act No. 141. The prohibition does not apply since it is clear from the records that the
judgment debt and the execution sale took place prior to the approval of the application for free patent. We quote with favor
the respondent courts valid observation on the matter:

x x x the application of Pablo Taneo for a free patent was approved only on 19 October 1973 and Free Patent was issued on
10 December 1980. Under the aforecited provision, the subject land could not be made liable for the satisfaction of any debt
contracted from the time of the application and during the 5-year period following 10 December 1980, or until 10 December
1985. However, debts contracted prior to the approval of the application for free patent, that is prior to 18 October 1973, are
not covered by the prohibition. This is because they do not fall within the scope of the prohibited period. In this case, the
judgment debt in favor of defendant-appellee was rendered on 24 June 1964, the writ of execution issued on 22 November
1965, notice of levy made on 1 December 1965, the execution sale held on 12 February 1966, and the certificate of sale
registered on 2 March 1966, all before Pablo Taneos application for free patent was approved on 19 October 1973. The
execution, therefore, was not violative of the law.[8]

Anent the second issue, petitioners aver that the house which their father constituted as family home is exempt from
execution. In a last ditch effort to save their property, petitioners invoke the benefits accorded to the family home under the
Family Code.
A family home is the dwelling place of a person and his family. It is said, however, that the family home is a real right,
which is gratuitous, inalienable and free from attachment, constituted over the dwelling place and the land on which it is
situated, which confers upon a particular family the right to enjoy such properties, which must remain with the person
constituting it and his heirs.[9] It cannot be seized by creditors except in certain special cases.
Under the Civil Code (Articles 224 to 251), a family home may be constituted judicially and extrajudicially, the former
by the filing of the petition and with the approval of the proper court, and the latter by the recording of a public instrument in
the proper registry of property declaring the establishment of the family home. The operative act then which created the
family home extrajudicially was the registration in the Registry of Property of the declaration prescribed by Articles 240 and
241 of the Civil Code.[10]
Under the Family Code, however, registration was no longer necessary. Article 153 of the Family Code provides that the
family home is deemed constituted on a house and lot from the time it is occupied in the family residence. It reads:
The family home is deemed constituted on a house and lot from the time it is occupied as family residence. From the time of
its constitution and so long as its beneficiaries actually resides therein, the family home continues to be such and is exempt
from execution, forced sale or attachment, except as hereinafter provided and to the extent of the value allowed by law.

It is under the foregoing provision which petitioners seek refuge to avert execution of the family home arguing that as
early as 1964, Pablo Taneo had already constituted the house in question as their family home. However, the retroactive
effect of the Family Code, particularly on the provisions on the family home has been clearly laid down by the court as
explained in the case of Manacop v. Court of Appeals[11] to wit:

Finally, the petitioner insists that the attached property is a family home, having been occupied by him and his family since
1972, and is therefore exempt from attachment.
The contention is not well-taken.
While Article 153 of the Family Code provides that the family home is deemed constituted on a house and lot from the time it
is occupied as a family residence, it does not mean that said article has a retroactive effect such that all existing family
residences, petitioners included, are deemed to have been constituted as family homes at the time of their occupation prior
to the effectivity of the Family Code and henceforth, are exempt from execution for the payment of obligations incurred
before the effectivity of the Family Code on August 3, 1988 (Modequillo vs. Breva, 185 SCRA 766). Neither does Article 162
of said Code state that the provisions of Chapter 2, Title V thereof have retroactive effect. It simply means that all existing
family residences at the time of the effectivity of the Family Code are considered family homes and are prospectively entitled
to the benefits accorded to a family home under the Family Code (Modequillo vs. Breva, supra). Since petitioners debt was
incurred as early as November 25, 1987, it preceded the effectivity of the Family Code. His property is therefore not exempt
from attachment (Annex O, Plaintiffs Position Paper and Memorandum of Authorities, p. 78). (pp. 5-6, Decision; pp. 64-
65, Rollo) (underscoring ours)

The applicable law, therefore, in the case at bar is still the Civil Code where registration of the declaration of a family
home is a prerequisite. Nonetheless, the law provides certain instances where the family home is not exempted from
execution, forced sale or attachment.
Article 243 reads:

The family home extrajudicially formed shall be exempt from execution, forced sale or attachment, except:

(1) For nonpayment of taxes;


(2) For debts incurred before the declaration was recorded in the Registry of Property;
(3) For debts secured by mortgages on the premises before or after such record of the declaration;

(4) For debts due to laborers, mechanics, architects, builders, material-men and others who have rendered service or
furnished material for the construction of the building.[12]

The trial court found that on March 7, 1964, Pablo Taneo constituted the house in question, erected on the land of
Plutarco Vacalares, as the family home. The instrument constituting the family home was registered only on January 24,
1966. The money judgment against Pablo Taneo was rendered on January 24, 1964. Thus, at that time when the debt was
incurred, the family home was not yet constituted or even registered. Clearly, petitioners alleged family home, as constituted
by their father is not exempt as it falls under the exception of Article 243(2).
Moreover, the constitution of the family home by Pablo Taneo is even doubtful considering that such constitution did not
comply with the requirements of the law. The trial court found that the house was erected not on the land which the Taneos
owned but on the land of one Plutarco Vacalares. By the very definition of the law that the family home is the dwelling house
where a person and his family resides and the land on which it is situated,[13] it is understood that the house should be
constructed on a land not belonging to another.Apparently, the constitution of a family home by Pablo Taneo in the instant
case was merely an afterthought in order to escape execution of their property but to no avail.
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED for lack of merit.

SO ORDERED.
Paternity and Filiation (Family Code) – Illegitimate Children (Article 175-176, RA 9255 Sec.1)
REPUBLIC vs VICENCIO, GR. No. 88202, December 14, 1998

DECISION

QUISUMBING, J.:

This is an appeal interposed by the Republic of the Philippines as represented by the Office of the Solicitor General
(OSG), assailing the decision[1] of the Court of Appeals promulgated on April 28, 1989, which affirmed the decision[2] of the
Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 52, dated, August 31, 1987. The appealed decision granted private respondent Cynthia
Vicencios petition for change of surname, from Vicencio to Yu.
As found by the trial court, hereunder are the facts and circumstances of the case:

Petitioners evidence is to the effect that she was born on 19 January 1971 at the Capitol Medical Center, Quezon City, to the
spouses Pablo Castro Vicencio and Fe Esperanza de Vega Leabres (Exh. C, also marked Annex A of Petition); that on 10
January 1972, after a marital spat, Pablo Vicencio left their conjugal abode then situated at Meycauayan, Bulacan; that since
then Pablo Vicencio never reappeared nor sent support to his family and it was Ernesto Yu who had come to the aid of Fe
Esperanza Labres (sic) and her children; that on 29 June 1976, Fe Esperanza Leabres filed a petition in the then Juvenile and
Domestic Relations Court of Manila for dissolution of their conjugal partnership, Civil Case No. E-02009, which was granted in
a decision rendered by the Hon. Regina C. Ordoez Benitez on 11 July 1977 (Exhs. D, D-1 to D-3); that sometime in 1983,
petitioners mother filed another petition for change of name, Sp. Proc. No. 83-16346, that is to drop the surname of her
husband therefrom, and after hearing a decision was rendered on 5 July 1983 by the Hon. Emeterio C. Cui of Branch XXV of
this Court approving the petition (Exh. E); that in 1984, petitioners mother again filed another petition with this Court, Sp.
Proc. No. 84-22605, for the declaration of Pablo Vicencio as an absentee, and which petition was granted on 26 April 1984 in
a decision rendered by the Hon. Corona Ibay-Somera (Exh. F & F-1); that on 15 April 1986, petitioners mother and Ernesto
Yu were joined in matrimony in a ceremony solemnized by Mayor Benjamin S. Abalos of Mandaluyong, Metro Manila (Exh.
G).
It was also established that evern (sic) since her childhood, petitioner had not known much less remembered her real father
Pablo Vicencio, and her known father had been and still is Ernesto Yu; that despite of which she had been using the family
name Vicencio in her school and other related activities therein; that in view of such situation, confusion arose as to her
parentage and she had been subjected to inquiries why she is using Vicencio as her family name, both by her classmates and
their neighbors, causing her extreme embarrassment; that on two (2) occassions when she ran as a beauty contestant in a
Lions Club affair and in a Manila Red Cross pageant, her name was entered as Cynthia L. Yu; that her step-father had been
priorly consulted about this petition and had given his consent thereto; that in fact Ernesto Yu testified for petitioner and
confirmed his consent to the petition as he had always treated petitioner as his own daughter ever since.[3]

At the hearing of the petition for change of name by the trial court, the OSG manifested that it was opposing the
petition. It participated in the proceedings by cross-examining the private respondent Cynthia Vicencio, (petitioner a quo)
and her witnesses.
Disregarding the OSGs contention, the trial court ruled that there is no valid cause for denying the petition. Further, the
trial court stated that it could not compel private respondents step-father to adopt her, as adoption is a voluntary act; but
failure to resort to adoption should not be a cause for disallowing private respondent to legally change her name. [4] Hence, it
granted the change of surname of private respondent from Vicencio to Yu.
The decision of the trial court was affirmed by the appellate court, which held that it is for the best interest of petitioner
that her surname be changed. The appellate court took into account the testimonies of private respondent and her witnesses
that allowing the change of surname would give her an opportunity to improve her personality and welfare.[5] It likewise
noted that the discrepancy between her original surname, taken from her biological father; and the surname of her step-
father, who has been socially recognized as her father, caused her embarrassment and inferiority complex.[6]
The main issue before us is whether the appellate court erred in affirming the trial courts decision allowing the change
of private respondents surname to that of her step-fathers surname.
In Republic vs. Hernandez[7], we have recognized inter alia, the following as sufficient grounds to warrant a change of
name: (a) when the name is ridiculous, dishonorable or extremely difficult to write or pronounce; (b) when the change is a
legal consequence of legitimation or adoption; (c) when the change will avoid confusion; (d) when one has continuously used
and been known since childhood by a Filipino name and was unaware of alien parentage; (e) when the change is based on a
sincere desire to adopt a Filipino name to erase signs of former alienage, all in good faith and without prejudice to anybody;
and (f) when the surname causes embarrassment and there is no showing that the desired change of name was for a
fraudulent purpose, or that the change of name would prejudice public interest.
Private respondent asserts that her case falls under one of the justifiable grounds aforecited. She says that confusion
has arisen as to her parentage because ever since childhood, Ernesto Yu has acted as her father, assuming duties of rearing,
caring and supporting her. Since she is known in society as the daughter of Ernesto Yu, she claims that she has been
subjected to inquiries regarding her use of a different surname, causing her much humiliation and embarrassment. However,
it is not denied that private respondent has used Vicencio as her surname in her school records and related documents. But
she had used the surname of her step-father, Yu, when she participated in public functions, such as entering beauty
contests, namely, with the Lions Club and the Manila Red Cross, and when she celebrated her debut at the Manila Hotel.[8]
The Solicitor General however argues that there is no proper and reasonable cause to warrant private respondents
change of surname. Such change might even cause confusion and give rise to legal complications due to the fact that private
respondents step-father has two (2) children with her mother. In the event of her step-fathers death, it is possible
that private respondent may even claim inheritance rights as a legitimate daughter. In his memorandum, the Solicitor
General, opines that Ernesto Yu has no intention of making Cynthia as an heir because despite the suggestion made before
the petition for change of name was heard by the trial court that the change of family name to Yu could very easily be
achieved by adoption, he has not opted for such a remedy.[9]
We find merit in the Solicitor Generals contention.
The touchstone for the grant of a change of name is that there be proper and reasonable cause for which the change is
sought.[10] The assailed decision as affirmed by the appellate court does not persuade us to depart from the applicability of
the general rule on the use of surnames[11], specifically the law which requires that legitimate children shall principally use
the surname of their father[12].
Private respondent Cynthia Vicencio is the legitimate offspring of Fe Leabres and Pablo Vicencio. As previously stated, a
legitimate child generally bears the surname of his or her father. It must be stressed that a change of name is a privilege,
not a matter of right, addressed to the sound discretion of the court, which has the duty to consider carefully the
consequences of a change of name and to deny the same unless weighty reasons are shown.[13]
Confusion indeed might arise with regard to private respondents parentage because of her surname. But even, more
confusion with grave legal consequences could arise if we allow private respondent to bear her step-fathers surname, even if
she is not legally adopted by him. While previous decisions have allowed children to bear the surname of their respective
step-fathers even without the benefit of adoption, these instances should be distinguished from the present case. In Calderon
vs. Republic,[14] and Llaneta vs. Agrava,[15] this Court allowed the concerned child to adopt the surname of the step-father,
but unlike the situation in the present case where private respondent is a legitimate child, in those cases the children were
not of legitimate parentage. In Moore vs. Republic,[16] where the circumstances appears to be similar to the present case
before us, the Court upheld the Republics position:

We find tenable this observation of governments counsel. Indeed, if a child born out of a lawful wedlock be allowed to bear
the surname of the second husband of the mother, should the first husband die or be separated by a decree of divorce, there
may result a confusion as to his real paternity. In the long run the change may redound to the prejudice of the child in the
community.
While the purpose which may have animated petitioner is plausible and may run along the feeling of cordiality and spiritual
relationship that pervades among the members of the Moore family, our hand is deferred by a legal barrier which we cannot
at present overlook or brush aside.[17]

Similarly in Padilla vs. Republic,[18] the Court ruled that:

To allow said minors to adopt the surname of their mothers second husband, who is not their father, could result in confusion
in their paternity. It could also create the suspicion that said minors, who were born during the coverture of their mother
with her first husband, were in fact sired by Edward Padilla, thus bringing their legitimate status into discredit.[19]

Private respondent, might sincerely wish to be in a position similar to that of her step-fathers legitimate children, a
plausible reason the petition for change of name was filed in the first place. Moreover, it is laudable that Ernesto Yu has
treated Cynthia as his very own daughter, providing for all her needs as a father would his own flesh and blood. However,
legal constraints lead us to reject private respondents desire to use her stepfathers surname. Further, there is no assurance
the end result would not be even more detrimental to her person, for instead of bringing a stop to questions, the very
change of name, if granted, could trigger much deeper inquiries regarding her parentage.
Lastly, when this case was decided by the appellate court, private respondent was already 18 years old but still
considered a minor because Republic Act 6809,[20] lowering the age of majority, was then in effect. However, regardless of
private respondents age, our conclusion remains considering the circumstances before us and the lack of any legally
justifiable cause for allowing the change of her surname.
WHEREFORE, the appealed decision is hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE; and the instant petition is
hereby GRANTED.

SO ORDERED.
Funerals (Article 305-310 of the Civil Code)
VALINO vs ADRIANO, GR. No. 182894, April 22, 2014

DECISION
MENDOZA, J.:
Challenged in this petition is the October 2, 2006 Decision1 and the May 9, 2008 Resolution2 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in
CA-G.R. CV No. 61613, which reversed the October 1, 1998 Decision3 of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 77, Quezon City
(RTC) which ruled that petitioner Fe Floro Valino (Valino) was entitled to the remains of the decedent.
The Facts:
Atty. Adriano Adriano (Atty. Adriano), a partner in the Pelaez Adriano and Gregorio Law Office, married respondent Rosario
Adriano (Rosario) on November 15, 1955. The couple had two (2) sons, Florante and Ruben Adriano; three (3) daughters,
Rosario, Victoria and Maria Teresa; and one (1) adopted daughter, Leah Antonette.
The marriage of Atty. Adriano and Rosario, however, turned sour and they were eventually separated-in-fact. Years later,
Atty. Adriano courted Valino, one of his clients, until they decided to live together as husband and wife. Despite such
arrangement, he continued to provide financial support to Rosario and their children (respondents).
In 1992, Atty. Adriano died of acute emphysema. At that time, Rosario was in the United States spending Christmas with her
children. As none of the family members was around, Valino took it upon herself to shoulder the funeral and burial expenses
for Atty. Adriano. When Rosario learned about the death of her husband, she immediately called Valino and requested that
she delay the interment for a few days but her request was not heeded. The remains of Atty. Adriano were then interred at
the mausoleum of the family of Valino at the Manila Memorial Park. Respondents were not able to attend the interment.
Claiming that they were deprived of the chance to view the remains of Atty. Adriano before he was buried and that his burial
at the Manila Memorial Park was contrary to his wishes, respondents commenced suit against Valino praying that they be
indemnified for actual, moral and exemplary damages and attorney’s fees and that the remains of Atty. Adriano be exhumed
and transferred to the family plot at the Holy Cross Memorial Cemetery in Novaliches, Quezon City.
In her defense, Valino countered that Rosario and Atty. Adriano had been separated for more than twenty (20) years before
he courted her. Valino claimed that throughout the time they were together, he had introduced her to his friends and
associates as his wife. Although they were living together, Valino admitted that he never forgot his obligation to support the
respondents. She contended that, unlike Rosario, she took good care of Atty. Adriano and paid for all his medical expenses
when he got seriously ill. She also claimed that despite knowing that Atty. Adriano was in a coma and dying, Rosario still left
for the United States. According to Valino, it was Atty. Adriano’s last wish that his remains be interred in the Valino family
mausoleum at the Manila Memorial Park.
Valino further claimed that she had suffered damages as result of the suit brought by respondents. Thus, she prayed that she
be awarded moral and exemplary damages and attorney’s fees.
Decision of the RTC
The RTC dismissed the complaint of respondents for lack of merit as well as the counterclaim of Valino after it found them to
have not been sufficiently proven.
The RTC opined that because Valino lived with Atty. Adriano for a very long time, she knew very well that it was his wish to
be buried at the Manila Memorial Park. Taking into consideration the fact that Rosario left for the United States at the time
that he was fighting his illness, the trial court concluded that Rosario did not show love and care for him. Considering also
that it was Valino who performed all the duties and responsibilities of a wife, the RTC wrote that it could be reasonably
presumed that he wished to be buried in the Valino family mausoleum.4
In disposing of the case, the RTC noted that the exhumation and the transfer of the body of Atty. Adriano to the Adriano
family plot at the Holy Cross Memorial Cemetery in Novaliches, Quezon City, would not serve any useful purpose and so he
should be spared and respected.5 Decision of the CA
On appeal, the CA reversed and set aside the RTC decision and directed Valino to have the remains of Atty. Adriano exhumed
at the expense of respondents. It likewise directed respondents, at their expense, to transfer, transport and inter the
remains of the decedent in the family plot at the Holy Cross Memorial Park in Novaliches, Quezon City.
In reaching said determination, the CA explained that Rosario, being the legal wife, was entitled to the custody of the
remains of her deceased husband. Citing Article 305 of the New Civil Code in relation to Article 199 of the Family Code, it
was the considered view of the appellate court that the law gave the surviving spouse not only the duty but also the right to
make arrangements for the funeral of her husband. For the CA, Rosario was still entitled to such right on the ground of her
subsisting marriage with Atty. Adriano at the time of the latter’s death, notwithstanding their 30-year separation in fact.
Like the RTC, however, the CA did not award damages in favor of respondents due to the good intentions shown by Valino in
giving the deceased a decent burial when the wife and the family were in the United States. All other claims for damages
were similarly dismissed.
The Sole Issue
The lone legal issue in this petition is who between Rosario and Valino is entitled to the remains of Atty. Adriano.
The Court’s Ruling
Article 305 of the Civil Code, in relation to what is now Article 1996 of the Family Code, specifies the persons who have the
right and duty to make funeral arrangements for the deceased. Thus:
Art. 305. The duty and the right to make arrangements for the funeral of a relative shall be in accordance with the order
established for support, under Article 294. In case of descendants of the same degree, or of brothers and sisters, the oldest
shall be preferred. In case of ascendants, the paternal shall have a better right. [Emphases supplied]
Art. 199. Whenever two or more persons are obliged to give support, the liability shall devolve upon the following persons in
the order herein provided:
(1) The spouse;
(2) The descendants in the nearest degree;
(3) The ascendants in the nearest degree; and
(4) The brothers and sisters. (294a)
[Emphasis supplied]
Further, Article 308 of the Civil Code provides:
Art. 308. No human remains shall be retained, interred, disposed of or exhumed without the consent of the persons
mentioned in Articles 294 and 305. [Emphases supplied]
In this connection, Section 1103 of the Revised Administrative Code provides:
Section 1103. Persons charged with the duty of burial. – The immediate duty of burying the body of a deceased person,
regardless of the ultimate liability for the expense thereof, shall devolve upon the persons herein below specified:
(a) If the deceased was a married man or woman, the duty of the burial shall devolve upon the surviving spouse if he or she
possesses sufficient means to pay the necessary expenses;
x x x x. [Emphases supplied]
From the aforecited provisions, it is undeniable that the law simply confines the right and duty to make funeral arrangements
to the members of the family to the exclusion of one’s common law partner. In Tomas Eugenio, Sr. v. Velez,7 a petition for
habeas corpus was filed by the brothers and sisters of the late Vitaliana Vargas against her lover, Tomas Eugenio, Sr.,
alleging that the latter forcibly took her and confined her in his residence. It appearing that she already died of heart failure
due to toxemia of pregnancy, Tomas Eugenio, Sr. sought the dismissal of the petition for lack of jurisdiction and claimed the
right to bury the deceased, as the common-law husband.
In its decision, the Court resolved that the trial court continued to have jurisdiction over the case notwithstanding the death
of Vitaliana Vargas. As to the claim of Tomas Eugenio, Sr. that he should be considered a "spouse" having the right and duty
to make funeral arrangements for his common-law wife, the Court ruled:
x x x Indeed, Philippine Law does not recognize common law marriages. A man and woman not legally married who cohabit
for many years as husband and wife, who represent themselves to the public as husband and wife, and who are reputed to
be husband and wife in the community where they live may be considered legally married in common law jurisdictions but
not in the Philippines.
While it is true that our laws do not just brush aside the fact that such relationships are present in our society, and that they
produce a community of properties and interests which is governed by law, authority exists in case law to the effect that
such form of co-ownership requires that the man and woman living together must not in any way be incapacitated to
contract marriage. In any case, herein petitioner has a subsisting marriage with another woman, a legal impediment which
disqualified him from even legally marrying Vitaliana. In Santero vs. CFI of Cavite, the Court, thru Mr. Justice Paras,
interpreting Art. 188 of the Civil Code (Support of Surviving Spouse and Children During Liquidation of Inventoried Property)
stated: "Be it noted, however, that with respect to 'spouse,' the same must be the legitimate 'spouse' (not common-law
spouses)."
There is a view that under Article 332 of the Revised Penal Code, the term "spouse" embraces common law relation for
purposes of exemption from criminal liability in cases of theft, swindling and malicious mischief committed or caused
mutually by spouses. The Penal Code article, it is said, makes no distinction between a couple whose cohabitation is
sanctioned by a sacrament or legal tie and another who are husband and wife de facto. But this view cannot even apply to
the facts of the case at bar. We hold that the provisions of the Civil Code, unless expressly providing to the contrary as in
Article 144, when referring to a "spouse" contemplate a lawfully wedded spouse. Petitioner vis-a-vis Vitaliana was not a
lawfully-wedded spouse to her; in fact, he was not legally capacitated to marry her in her lifetime.8 [Emphases supplied]
As applied to this case, it is clear that the law gives the right and duty to make funeral arrangements to Rosario, she being
the surviving legal wife of Atty. Adriano. The fact that she was living separately from her husband and was in the United
States when he died has no controlling significance. To say that Rosario had, in effect, waived or renounced, expressly or
impliedly, her right and duty to make arrangements for the funeral of her deceased husband is baseless. The right and duty
to make funeral arrangements, like any other right, will not be considered as having been waived or renounced, except upon
clear and satisfactory proof of conduct indicative of a free and voluntary intent to that end.9 While there was disaffection
between Atty. Adriano and Rosario and their children when he was still alive, the Court also recognizes that human
compassion, more often than not, opens the door to mercy and forgiveness once a family member joins his Creator. Notably,
it is an undisputed fact that the respondents wasted no time in making frantic pleas to Valino for the delay of the interment
for a few days so they could attend the service and view the remains of the deceased. As soon as they came to know about
Atty. Adriano’s death in the morning of December 19, 1992 (December 20, 1992 in the Philippines), the respondents
immediately contacted Valino and the Arlington Memorial Chapel to express their request, but to no avail.
Valino insists that the expressed wishes of the deceased should nevertheless prevail pursuant to Article 307 of the Civil Code.
Valino’s own testimony that it was Atty. Adriano’s wish to be buried in their family plot is being relied upon heavily. It should
be noted, however, that other than Valino’s claim that Atty. Adriano wished to be buried at the Manila Memorial Park, no
other evidence was presented to corroborate such claim. Considering that Rosario equally claims that Atty. Adriano wished to
be buried in the Adriano family plot in Novaliches, it becomes apparent that the supposed burial wish of Atty. Adriano was
unclear and undefinite. Considering this ambiguity as to the true wishes of the deceased, it is the law that supplies the
presumption as to his intent. No presumption can be said to have been created in Valino’s favor, solely on account of a long-
time relationship with Atty. Adriano.
Moreover, it cannot be surmised that just because Rosario was unavailable to bury her husband when she died, she had
already renounced her right to do so. Verily, in the same vein that the right and duty to make funeral arrangements will not
be considered as having been waived or renounced, the right to deprive a legitimate spouse of her legal right to bury the
remains of her deceased husband should not be readily presumed to have been exercised, except upon clear and satisfactory
proof of conduct indicative of a free and voluntary intent of the deceased to that end. Should there be any doubt as to the
true intent of the deceased, the law favors the legitimate family. Here, Rosario’s keenness to exercise the rights and
obligations accorded to the legal wife was even bolstered by the fact that she was joined by the children in this case.
Even assuming, ex gratia argumenti, that Atty. Adriano truly wished to be buried in the Valino family plot at the Manila
Memorial Park, the result remains the same. Article 307 of the Civil Code provides:
Art. 307. The funeral shall be in accordance with the expressed wishes of the deceased. In the absence of such expression,
his religious beliefs or affiliation shall determine the funeral rites. In case of doubt, the form of the funeral shall be decided
upon by the person obliged to make arrangements for the same, after consulting the other members of the family.
From its terms, it is apparent that Article 307 simply seeks to prescribe the "form of the funeral rites" that should govern in
the burial of the deceased. As thoroughly explained earlier, the right and duty to make funeral arrangements reside in the
persons specified in Article 305 in relation to Article 199 of the Family Code. Even if Article 307 were to be interpreted to
include the place of burial among those on which the wishes of the deceased shall be followed, Dr. Arturo M. Tolentino (Dr.
Tolentino), an eminent authority on civil law, commented that it is generally recognized that any inferences as to the wishes
of the deceased should be established by some form of testamentary disposition.10 As Article 307 itself provides, the wishes
of the deceased must be expressly provided. It cannot be inferred lightly, such as from the circumstance that Atty. Adriano
spent his last remaining days with Valino. It bears stressing once more that other than Valino’s claim that Atty. Adriano
wished to be buried at the Valino family plot, no other evidence was presented to corroborate it.
At any rate, it should be remembered that the wishes of the decedent with respect to his funeral are not absolute. As Dr.
Tolentino further wrote:
The dispositions or wishes of the deceased in relation to his funeral, must not be contrary to law. They must not violate the
legal and reglamentary provisions concerning funerals and the disposition of the remains, whether as regards the time and
manner of disposition, or the place of burial, or the ceremony to be observed.11 [Emphases supplied]
In this case, the wishes of the deceased with respect to his funeral are limited by Article 305 of the Civil Code in relation to
Article 199 of the Family Code, and subject the same to those charged with the right and duty to make the proper
arrangements to bury the remains of their loved-one. As aptly explained by the appellate court in its disquisition:
The testimony of defendant-appellee Fe Floro Valino that it was the oral wish of Atty. Adriano Adriano that he be interred at
the Floro family’s mausoleum at the Manila Memorial Park, must bend to the provisions of the law. Even assuming arguendo
that it was the express wish of the deceased to be interred at the Manila Memorial Park, still, the law grants the duty and the
right to decide what to do with the remains to the wife, in this case, plaintiff-appellant Rosario D. Adriano, as the surviving
spouse, and not to defendant-appellee Fe Floro Valino, who is not even in the list of those legally preferred, despite the fact
that her intentions may have been very commendable. The law does not even consider the emotional fact that husband and
wife had, in this case at bench, been separated-in-fact and had been living apart for more than 30 years.12
As for Valino’s contention that there is no point in exhuming and transferring the remains of Atty. Adriano, it should be said
that the burial of his remains in a place other than the Adriano family plot in Novaliches runs counter to the wishes of his
family. It does not only violate their right provided by law, but it also disrespects the family because the remains of the
patriarch are buried in the family plot of his live-in partner.
It is generally recognized that the corpse of an individual is outside the commerce of man. However, the law recognizes that
a certain right of possession over the corpse exists, for the purpose of a decent burial, and for the exclusion of the intrusion
by third persons who have no legitimate interest in it. This quasi-property right, arising out of the duty of those obligated by
law to bury their dead, also authorizes them to take possession of the dead body for purposes of burial to have it remain in
its final resting place, or to even transfer it to a proper place where the memory of the dead may receive the respect of the
living. This is a family right. There can be no doubt that persons having this right may recover the corpse from third
persons.13
All this notwithstanding, the Court finds laudable the acts of Valino in taking care of Atty. Adriano during his final moments
and giving him a proper burial. For her sacrifices, it would indeed be unkind to assess actual or moral damages against her.
As aptly explained by the CA:
The trial court found that there was good faith on the part of defendant-appellee Fe Floro Valino, who, having lived with Atty.
Adriano after he was separated in fact from his wife, lovingly and caringly took care of the well-being of Atty. Adriano
Adriano while he was alive and even took care of his remains when he had died.
On the issue of damages, plaintiffs-appellants are not entitled to actual damages. Defendant-appellee Fe Floro Valino had all
the good intentions in giving the remains of Atty. Adriano a decent burial when the wife and family were all in the United
States and could not attend to his burial. Actual damages are those awarded in satisfaction of, or in recompense for, loss or
injury sustained. To be recoverable, they must not only be capable of proof but must actually be proven with a reasonable
degree of certainty. In this case at bench, there was no iota of evidence presented to justify award of actual damages.
Plaintiffs-appellants are not also entitled to moral and exemplary damages.1âwphi1 Moral damages may be recovered only if
the plaintiff is able to satisfactorily prove the existence of the factual basis for the damages and its causal connection with
the acts complained of because moral damages although incapable of pecuniary estimation are designed not to impose a
penalty but to compensate for injury sustained and actual damages suffered. No injury was caused to plaintiffs-appellants,
nor was any intended by anyone in this case. Exemplary damages, on the other hand, may only be awarded if claimant is
able to establish his right to moral, temperate, liquidated or compensatory damages. Unfortunately, neither of the
requirements to sustain an award for either of these damages would appear to have been adequately established by
plaintiffs-appellants.
As regards the award of attorney's fees, it is an accepted doctrine that the award thereof as an item of damages is the
exception rather than the rule, and counsel's fees are not to be awarded every time a party wins a suit. The power of the
court to award attorney's fees under Article 2208 of the New Civil Code demands factual, legal and equitable justification,
without which the award is a conclusion without a premise, its basis being improperly left to speculation and conjecture. In
this case, we have searched but found nothing in plaintiffs-appellants' suit that justifies the award of attorney's fees.14
Finally, it should be said that controversies as to who should make arrangements for the funeral of a deceased have often
aggravated the bereavement of the family and disturbed the proper solemnity which should prevail at every funeral. It is for
the purpose of preventing such controversies that the Code Commission saw it best to include the provisions on "Funerals."15
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED.
SO ORDERED.