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Republic of the Philippines vs Jose A.

Dayot
GR No. 175581 March 28, 2008

Fact of the Case:

On November 24, 1986 Jose and Felisa Dayot were married at the Pasay City
Hall. In lieu of a marriage license, they executed a sworn affidavit attesting that both of
them are legally capacitated and that they cohabited for atleast five years when in fact
they only barely known each other since February 1986. On 1993, Jose filed a complaint
for Annulment and/or Declaration of Nullity of Marriage contending that their marriage
was sham, as to no ceremony was celebrated between them; that he did not execute the
sworn statement that he and Felisa had cohabited for atleast five years; and that his
consent was secured through fraud. His sister, however, testified as witness that Jose
voluntarily gave his consent during their marriage. The complaint was dismissed on
Regional Trial Court stating that Jose is deemed estopped from assailing the legality of
his marriage for lack of marriage license. It is claimed that Jose and Felisa had lived
together from 1986 to 1990, and that it took Jose seven years before he sought the
declaration of nullity; The RTC ruled that Jose’s action had prescribe. It cited Art 87 of
the New Civil Code which requires that the action for annulment must be commenced by
the injured party within four years after the discovery of fraud. Jose appealed to the Court
of Appeals which rendered a decision declaring their marriage void ab initio for absence
of marriage license. Felisa sought a petition for review praying that the Court of Appeal’s
Amended decision be reversed and set aside.

Issue:
(1) Whether the falsity of an affidavit of marital cohabitation, where the parties
have in truth fallen short of the minimum five-year requirement., effectively
renders the marriage voib an initio for lack of marriage.
(2) Whether or not the action for nullity prescribes as the case here where Jose
filed a complaint after seven years from contracting marriage.

Held:

(1)Yes. The intendment of law or fact leans towards the validity of marriage, will
not salvage the parties’ marriage, and extricate them from the effect of a violation of the
law. The Court protects the fabric of the institution of marriage and at the same time wary
of deceptive schemes that violate the legal measures set forth in the law. The case cannot
fall under irregularity of the marriage license, what happens here is an absence of
marriage license which makes their marriage void for lack of one of the essential
requirement of a valid marriage.
(2) No. An action for nullity is imprescriptible. Jose and Felisa’s marriage was
celebrated san a marriage license. The right to impugn a void marriage does not
prescribe.