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THIRD DIVISION [G.R. No. 136921.  April 17, 2001] LORNA GUILLEN PESCA, petitioner, vs. ZOSIMO A. PESCA, respondent. D E C I S I O N VITUG, J.

: Submitted for review is the decision of the Court of Appeals, promulgated on 27 May 1998, in C.A. G.R. CV. No. 52374, reversing the decision of the Regional Trial Court ( RTC ) of Caloocan City, Branch 130, which has declared the marriage b etween petitioner and respondent to be null and void ab initio on the ground of psyc hological incapacity on the part of respondent. Petitioner Lorna G. Pesca and respondent Zosimo A. Pesca first met sometime in 1975 while on board an inter-island vessel bound for Bacolod City.  After a whirl wind courtship, they got married on 03 March 1975. Initially, the young couple did not live together as petitioner was still a student in college and respondent, a seaman, had to leave the country on board an ocean-going vessel barely a month after the marriage.  Six months later, the young couple established their residence in Quezon City until they were able to build their own house in Caloocan City w here they finally resided.  It was blissful marriage for the couple during the two m onths of the year that they could stay together when respondent was on vacation.  Th e union begot four children, 19-year old Ruhem, 17-year old Rez, 11-year old Rya n, and  9-year old Richie. It started in 1988, petitioner said, when she noticed that respondent surpri singly showed signs of psychological incapacity to perform his marital covenant.  His "true color" of being an emotionally immature and irresponsible husband became a pparent.  He was cruel and violent.  He was a habitual drinker, staying with friends dai ly from 4:00 o'clock in the afternoon until 1:00 o'clock in the morning.  When cauti oned to stop or, to at least, minimize his drinking, respondent would beat, slap and kick her.  At one time, he chased petitioner with a loaded shotgun and threaten ed to kill her in the presence of the children.  The children themselves were not sp ared from physical violence. Finally, on 19 November 1992, petitioner and her children left the conjugal abode to live in the house of her sister in Quezon City as they could no longer bear his violent ways.  Two months later, petitioner decided to forgive respondent, and she returned home to give him a chance to change. But, to her dismay, things did not so turn out as expected.  Indeed, matters became worse. On the morning of 22 March 1994, about eight o clock, respondent assaulted pet itioner for about half an hour in the presence of the children.  She was battered bl ack and blue.  She submitted herself to medical examination at the Quezon City Gener al Hospital, which diagnosed her injuries as contusions and abrasions. Petitione r filed a complaint with the barangay authorities, and  a case was filed against res pondent for slight physical injuries.  He was convicted by the Metropolitan Trial Co urt of Caloocan City and sentenced to eleven days of imprisonment. This time, petitioner and her children left the conjugal home for good and s tayed with her sister.  Eventually, they decided to rent an apartment. Petitioner su ed respondent before the Regional Trial Court for the declaration of nullity of their marriage invoking psychological incapacity.  Petitioner likewise sought  the custo dy of her minor children and prayed for support pendente lite. Summons, together with a copy of the complaint, was served on respondent on 25 April 1994 by personal service by the sheriff. As respondent failed to file a n answer or to enter his appearance within the reglementary period, the trial co urt ordered the city prosecutor to look into a possible collusion between the pa rties. Prosecutor Rosa C. Reyes, on 03 August 1994, submitted her report to the effect that she found no evidence to establish that there was collusion between the parties. On 11 January 1995, respondent belatedly filed, without leave of court, an a nswer, and the same, although filed late, was admitted by the court.  In his answer, respondent admitted the fact of his marriage with petitioner and the birth of t heir children.  He also confirmed the veracity of Annex "A" of the complaint which l isted the conjugal property.  Respondent vehemently denied, however, the allegation that he was psychologically incapacitated.

"[1] Petitioner. and like circumstances (cited in Fr. Edward Hudson's `Handbook II for Marriage Nullity Cases ). The Court of Appeals reversed the decision of the trial court and declared t he marriage between petitioner and respondent valid and subsisting.  This psychologic condition m ust exist at the time the marriage is celebrated. following hearings conducted by it. that the root cause of the incapacity has been identified med ically or clinically. the appellate court did not err in it s assailed decision for there is absolutely no evidence that has been shown to p rove psychological incapacity on his part as the term has been so defined in Santo s. respondent submits. an d most importantly. respect and fidelity and render help and support. inSantos. looking at all the foregoing disquisitions. in holding that there was legal basis to d eclare the marriage null and void and in denying his motion to reopen the case.[3] promulgated on 13 February 1997. and that the incapacity is permanent and incurable in nature. and has been proven by an expert. The burden of proof to show the nullity of marriage lies in the plaintiff and any doubt should be resolved in favor of the existence and continuation of the marr iage and against its dissolution and nullity. Artemio Balumad's `Void and V oidable Marriages in the Family Code and their Parallels in Canon Law.  Article 3 6 of the Family Code cannot be taken and construed independently of. Respondent appealed the above decision  to the Court of Appeals. `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 cove nants that concomitantly must be assumed and discharged by the parties to the ma rriage which. The term psychological incapacity. has been explained by the Cou rt in Santos and reiterated in Molina. Be that as it may.On 15 November 1995. Court of Appeals and Molina.  The appellate c ourt said: "Definitely the appellee has not established the following:  That the appellant show ed signs of mental incapacity as would cause him to be truly incognitive of the basic marital covenant. there is no merit in the petition.[2]  promulgated on 14 January 1995.  expre . include their mu tual obligations to live together. not physical illness. observe love. Cou rt of Appeals. concluded: "It should be obvious. extremely low intelligence . contending that the trial court erred. quoting fo rm the Diagnostic Statistical Manuel of Mental Disorder by the American Psychiat ric Association. would have the decision of the Court of Appeals reversed on the thesis that the doctrine enunciated in Santos vs." The "doctrine of stare decisis. Indeed.  The Court. the application of  the Santos and Molina dicta should warrant only a remand of the case to he trial court for further proceedings and not its dismissal. but must st and in conjunction with. the trial court ren dered its decision declaring the marriage between petitioner and respondent to b e null and void ab initio on the basis of psychological incapacity on the part of re spondent and ordered the liquidation of the conjugal partnership. as so expressed by Article 68 of the Family Code. that his incapacity to meet his marital responsibility is because of a psychological. particularly. on the assumption that the Molina ruling could be applied retroactively. as so provided for in Article 68 of the Family Code. has preceded the marriage and is incurable. as well as the guidelines set out in Republic vs. as a ground for the declaration of nullity of a marriage under Article 36 of the Family Code.  There is hardly any doubt that the intendment of the law has bee n to confine the meaning of `psychological incapacity to the most serious cases o f personality disorders clearly demonstrative of an utter insensitivity or inabi lity to give meaning and significance to the marriage." ordained in Article 8 of the Civil Code. the guidelines therein outlined should be taken to be merely advisory and not mandatory in nature. should have no retroactive application and. petitioner argues. tha t the incapacity is grave. Thus correlated . l ikewise mentioned by some ecclesiastical authorities. the deliberations of the Family Code Revision Committee itse lf. including. existing precepts in our law on marriage. immaturity. 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.  In any case. in her plea to this Court.

Tanada vs.  the herein petition is DENIED. Court of Appeals. Inc. 1987 Constitution. totally terminating that relationship. Inc. borrowed from Canon law. Court of Appeals.  Article XV. [1] Rollo. vs. . 221 SCRA 285. that the new doctrine may have to be applied prospectively in favor of parties who have reli ed on the old doctrine and have acted in good faith in accordance therewith[5] und er the familiar rule of lex prospicit. until the relatively recent enactment of the Family Code. and. and a different view is adopted..  Molina.[4] The interpretation or constructio n placed by the courts establishes the contemporaneous legislative intent of the law. Gonzaga-Reyes. and Sandoval-Gutierrez. petitioner has utterly failed.  It is in San tos when. Panganiban.sses that judicial decisions applying or interpreting the law shall form part of the legal system of the Philippines. The phrase psychological incapacity.  The latter as so interpreted and construed would thus constitute a part of th at law as of the date the statute is enacted. 261 SCRA 144 . that fo llowed.  Molina has strengthened. let alone at the time of solemnization of the contract . the Court has given life to the term. has additionally provided procedural guidelines to assist the courts and the parties in trying cases for annulment of marriages grounded on psychologica l incapacity. [4] People vs. 55 SCRA 607. for the first time. pp. G uingona.  It is only  when a prior ruling of this C ourt finds itself later overruled. WHEREFORE. 235 SCRA 507. vs. non respicit. Jabinal.  The rule follows the settled legal maxim legis interpretado legis vim obtinet that the interpretation placed upon the written l aw by a competent court has the force of law. not overturned. [5] Unciano Paramedical College. (Chairman). neither should we.  No costs. concur. however. Melo. invoked by her. [2] 240 SCRA 20 [3] 268 SCRA 198. so as to warrant a declaration of nullity of the marriage. Columbia Pictures. both in her allegations in the complaint and in her evidence. may not necessa rily be the fitting denouement  to it. is an entirely n ovel provision in our statute books. cannot be equated with psychological incapa city. JJ. SO ORDERED. the concept has escaped jurisprudential attention.  In these cases.  Emotional immaturity a nd irresponsibility.. Santos. At all events. to make out a case of psychological incapacity o n the part of respondent.  Wh ile the Court commisserates with petitioner in her unhappy marital relationship with respondent. 42-43. The Court reiterates its reminder that marriage is an inviolable social inst itution and the foundation of the family[6] that the State cherishes and protects. [6] See Section 2. the law has not quite given up.