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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 4 prejudice to her reappearance. 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 5 presumptive death under Article 41, Family Code. The issue before this Court, as formulated by petitioner is "[w]hether or not Nolasco 6 has a well-founded belief that his wife is already dead." 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
G.R. No. 94053 March 17, 1993 REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioner, vs. GREGORIO NOLASCO, respondent. The Solicitor General for plaintiff-appellee. Warloo G. Cardenal for respondent. RESOLUTION
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 1 marriage be declared null and void. 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 2 belief that the absent spouse was already dead," and second, Nolasco's attempt to have his marriage annulled in the same proceeding was a "cunning attempt" to 3 circumvent the law on marriage. 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
He admits that he had a suspicion only that his first wife was dead. Court: How did you do that? A I secured another contract with the ship and we had a trip to London and I went to London to look 15 for her I could not find her (sic). Well. without prejudice to the effect of reappearance of the absent spouse. who lived in the Province of Pampanga. The Court of Appeal's justification of the mistake. . did you exert efforts to inquire the whereabouts of your wife? A Yes. would announce to friends and relatives. and London and Liverpool. there are four (4) requisites for the declaration of presumptive death under Article 41 of the Family Code: 1. a vast city of many millions of inhabitants. on one hand. or the absentee is generally considered to be dead and believed to be so by the spouse present. or is presumed dead under 9 Article 390 and 391 of the Civil Code. Kalookan City. and 4. however. "We're going to Manila. Biasbas. In the case at bar. is instructive as to degree of diligence required in searching for a missing spouse. an absence of only two years shall be sufficient.e. The Court also views respondent's claim that Janet Monica declined to give any 17 information as to her personal background even after she had married respondent too convenient an excuse to justify his failure to locate her. under unspecified circumstances. there is need for a judicial declaration of presumptive death to enable the spouse 8 present to remarry. on the other. he fails to state of whom he made 12 . 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. Antique after learning of Janet Monica's 14 departure. Respondent naturally asserts that he had complied with all these requirements. to look for her there. (Emphasis supplied). or two consecutive years if the disappearance occurred where there is danger of death under the circumstances laid down in Article 391. Our own provincial folks. boils down to this: that respondent failed to prove that he had complied with the third requirement. he secured another seaman's contract and went to London. as pointed out by the Solicitor-General. for a humble seaman like Gregorio the two places could mean one — place in England. The Family Code. however.had been absent for four consecutive years and the spouse present had a well-founded belief that the absent spouse was already dead." This apparent error in naming of places of destination does not appear 16 to be fatal. For the purpose of contracting the subsequent marriage under the preceding paragraph. 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. upon the other hand. upon the other hand. which it 7 superseded. That the present spouse has a well-founded belief that the absentee is dead. He admits that the only 13 basis of his suspicion was the fact that she had been absent. He did not even write to the parents of his first wife. while the cognoscente (sic) would readily know the geographical difference between London and Liverpool. When he arrived in San Jose. prescribes as "well founded belief" that the absentee is already dead before a petition for declaration of presumptive death can be granted. the spouse present must institute a summary proceeding as provided in this Code for the declaration of presumptive death of the absentee. for the purpose of securing information concerning her whereabouts. every time they leave home to visit relatives in Pasay City. Sir. 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. Also. That the present spouse files a summary proceeding for the 10 declaration of presumptive death of the absentee. which. Civil Code. 11 such inquiries. In that case. When Article 41 is compared with the old provision of the Civil Code. He set-up the defense of a good faith belief that his first wife had already died. 3. the following crucial differences emerge. There is no analogy between Manila and its neighboring cities. Respondent said he had lost these returned letters. the time required for the presumption to arise has been shortened to four (4) years. (Emphasis supplied) Respondent's testimony. Petitioner's argument. As pointed out by the Solicitor-General. . defendant Macario Biasbas was charged with the crime of bigamy. instead of seeking the help of local authorities or of the British Embassy. 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. Q After arriving here in San Jose. i. 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. is not well taken. or Parañaque. are around three hundred fifty (350) kilometers apart. That the absent spouse has been missing for four consecutive years. the existence of a "wellfounded belief" that the absent spouse is already dead. 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. showed that he confused London for Liverpool and this casts doubt on his supposed efforts to locate his wife in England. to wit: . noting that: While the defendant testified that he had made inquiries concerning the whereabouts of his wife. The Court held that defendant had not exercised due diligence to ascertain the whereabouts of his first wife. 2. the port where his ship docked and where he found Janet. That the present spouse wishes to remarry. . . Antique.. United States v. . Under Article 41.
the basic social institutions of marriage and the family in the preservation of which the State bas the strongest interest. In In Re Szatraw. practice or agreement destructive of the family 24 shall be recognized or given effect. Antique. Moreover. The law does not view marriage like an ordinary contract. admissibility is not 18 synonymous with credibility. 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. Marriage is an institution. Since respondent failed to satisfy the clear requirements of the law. Consequently. . But this kind of evidence cannot. Also. (Emphasis supplied) By the same token. family relations are governed by law and no custom. by the simple expedient of agreeing that one of them leave the conjugal abode and never to return again. it is good evidence. 20 . and not that she was dead. said testimony merely tended to show that the missing spouse had chosen not to communicate with their common acquaintances. 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. In any case. The same sentiment bas been expressed in the Family Code of the Philippines in Article 149: The family. for maternal care. Campos-Rueda. v. It is a relationship for life and the parties cannot terminate it at any shorter period by virtue of any 21 contract they make. However. 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. consequences. considering that respondent did not identify those friends in his testimony. affirming the trial court's decision declaring Janet Monica Parker presumptively dead is hereby REVERSED and both Decisions are hereby NULLIFIED and SET ASIDE. even if admitted as evidence. Gerry Nolasco. In Goitia v. the Decision of the Court of Appeals dated 23 February 1990. moreover. . In Article II. being the foundation of the nation. . the Court stressed that: . there are serious doubts to respondent's credibility. . the maintenance of which in its purity the public is deeply interested. the spouses should not be allowed. Article 1 of the Family Code emphasizes that. The Court notes that respondent even tried to have his marriage annulled before the trial court in the same proceeding. It is the foundation of the family and an inviolable social institution whose nature. . As noted before. when he allegedly asked leave from his captain. . (Emphasis supplied) In Arroyo. by its nature. still the requirements of the law must prevail.Neither can this Court give much credence to respondent's bare assertion that he had inquired from their friends of her whereabouts. is a basic social institution which public policy cherishes and protects. claimed he married Janet Monica Parker without 19 inquiring about her parents and their place of residence. . 23 22 the Court stressed strongly the need to protect. . While the Court understands the need of respondent's young son. Jr. the public policy here involved is of the most fundamental kind. and incidents are governed by law and not subject to stipulation. The Court of Appeals ruled that since the prosecutor failed to rebut this evidence during trial. Respondent. he cut short his employment contract to return to San Jose. In fine. . . Respondent testified that immediately after receiving his mother's letter sometime in January 1983. be rebutted. his petition for a judicial declaration of presumptive death must be denied. . . except that marriage settlements may fix the property relations during the marriage within the limits provided by this Code. 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. the Court warned against such collusion between the parties when they find it impossible to dissolve the marital bonds through existing legal means. to circumvent the policy of the laws on marriage. Costs against respondent. Court of Appeals. . to November 1983 when be finally reached San Jose. . The circumstances of Janet Monica's departure and respondent's subsequent behavior make it very difficult to regard the claimed belief that Janet Monica was dead a well-founded one. . he did not explain the delay of nine (9) months from January 1983.
Manila. would still be a prima facie presumption only. his last known address being Calle Merced. Gaz. contracted marriage with Francisco Chuidian on December 10.. 179. but not to decree that he is merely presumed to be dead. 68). Lourdes G. Hortiguela. No. to establish a presumption of death. as in the present case. Hence this appeal. REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES..] In the Matter of the Declaration of the Civil Status of: LOURDES G. 880. being a presumption juris tantum only. as already said. 1933 at the Paco Catholic Church. February 29. After Petitioner had presented her evidence. She has no knowledge if he is still alive. new Civil Code). and because she intends to marry again. 46 Off. Wislizenus. that the spouse present does not know his or her former spouse to be living. She also inquired about him from his parents and friends but no one was able to indicate his whereabouts. that each former spouse is generally reputed to be dead and the spouse present so believes at the time of the celebration of the marriage (section III. however. Manila. 1956. it was declared that a special proceeding is “an application or proceeding to establish the status or right of a party.: This is a petition filed in the Court of First Instance of Rizal for a declaration that Petitioner is a widow of her husband Francisco Chuidian who is presumed to be dead and has no legal impediment to contract a subsequent marriage. This the court can declare upon proper evidence. clear that a judicial declaration that a person is presumptively dead. LUKBAN. that remedy can be invoked if the purpose is to seek the declaration of death of the husband. For the celebration of civil marriage. if it is the only question or matter involved in a case. 46 Off. 243). paragraph 2. or a particular fact”. Gaz. Appellant also claims that the present petition can be entertained because article 349 of the Revised Penal Code. (Nicolai Szartraw. The Solicitor General opposed the petition on the ground that the same is not authorized by law. wherein it was 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.Thus. but. That such is the correct interpretation of the provision in question finds support in the case of Jones vs. in defining bigamy.” The decision appealed from is affirmed. 1st Sup. Lukban. the court would not certainly deny a declaration to that effect as has been intimated in the case of Nicolas Szartraw. therefore. No. 64 Phil. much less can the court determine the status of Petitioner as a widow since this matter must of necessity depend upon the fact of death of the husband. the court sustained the opposition and dismissed the petition. 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. It is for that reason that it cannot be the subject of a judicial pronouncement or declaration. Petitioner herein. J. even if final and executory. 243. without pronouncement as to costs. the law only requires that the former spouse has been absent for seven consecutive years at the time of the second marriage. If it can be satisfactorily proven that the husband is dead. Paco.. . It is... because he had been unheard from in seven years. it is not necessary to have the former spouse judicially declared an absentee. On December 27. 1st sup. It is still disputable. and if such declaration cannot be made in a special proceeding similar to the present. we there said that “A judicial pronouncement to that effect. Oppositor-Appellee. She believes that he is already dead because he had been absent for more than twenty years. she desires that her civil status be defined in order that she may be relieved of any liability under the law. Francisco left Lourdes after a violent quarrel and since then he has not been heard from despite diligent search made by her.R. cannot reach the stage of finality or become final. We believe that the petition at bar comes within the purview of our decision in the case of Nicolai Szartraw. The philosophy behind the ruling that such judicial pronouncement cannot be made in a proceeding of this nature is well expressed in the case above-cited. General Orders.” FIRST DIVISION [G. the present petition comes within the purview of this legal provision. Petitioner-Appellant. and not. wherein this Court made the following comment: “For the purposes of the civil marriage law. it is claimed. 42 Phil. of the same year. or upon which a competent court has to pass . subject to contrary proof. vs. provides that a person commits that crime if he contracts a second marriage “before the absent spouse has been declared presumptively dead by means of a judgment rendered in the proper proceedings” and. Appellant claims that the remedy she is seeking for can be granted in the present proceedings because in the case of Hagans vs. DECISION BAUTISTA ANGELO. L-8492. supra. The argument is untenable for the words “proper proceedings” used in said article can only refer to those authorized by law such as those which refer to the administration or settlement of the estate of a deceased person (Articles 390 and 391.
On 17 January 1996. MARIETTA CALISTERIO. Teodorico Calisterio died intestate. The trial court erred in not holding that the property situated at No. filed with the Regional Trial Court ("RTC") of Quezon City. promulgated its now assailed decision. 136467 April 6. she sought priority in the administration of the estate of the decedent. and respondent Marietta administrator and administratrix. without bond. prompting her to interpose the present appeal. 2. San Francisco del Monte. to the other half. being Teodorico's compulsory heir. Armas. Jr. San Francisco del Monte.. judgment is hereby rendered finding for the petitioner and against the oppositor whereby herein petitioner. it adjudged: WHEREFORE.. is declared as the sole heir of the estate of Teodorico Calisterio y Cacabelos. Armas. Calisterio to act as administrator of Teodorico's estate. petitioner. through Mr. and a new one entered declaring as follows: (a) Marietta Calisterio's marriage to Teodorico remains valid.Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila THIRD DIVISION G. Contending to be the surviving spouse of Teodorico. 2000 Respondent Marietta appealed the decision of the trial court to the Court of Appeals. Justice Conrado M. 1 . Teodorico was the second husband of Marietta who had previously been married to James William Bounds on 13 January 1946 at Caloocan City. of the intestate estate of Teodorico. The trial court erred in holding that oppositor-appellant is not a legal heir of deceased Teodorico Calisterio. On 09 October 1992. On 05 February 1993. The trial court erred in not holding that letters of administration should be granted solely in favor of oppositor-appellant. Petitioner asseverates: ANTONIA ARMAS Y CALISTERIO. Branch 104. and Teodorico's sister. his whereabouts being unknown. James Bounds disappeared without a trace on 11 February 1947. respectively. Antonia Armas. 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. the Decision appealed from is REVERSED AND SET ASIDE. the trial court issued an order appointing jointly Sinfroniano C. Marietta stated that her first marriage with James Bounds had been dissolved due to the latter's absence. (c) Marietta Calisterio. Petitioner. 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. J. herein petitioner Antonia Armas y Calisterio. leaving several parcels of land with an estimated value of P604. and if so found competent and willing. the marriage between the latter and respondent Marietta Espinosa Calisterio being allegedly bigamous and thereby null and void. Teodorico was survived by his wife. for more than eleven years before she contracted her second marriage with Teodorico.00. 3 On 23 November 1998. or on 08 May 1958. formulating that — 1. vs. Respondent Marietta opposed the petition. Quezon City. 4.750. the Court of Appeals denied petitioner's motion for reconsideration. "In the Matter of Intestate Estate of the Deceased Teodorico Calisterio y Cacabelos. Vasquez. a petition entitled. VITUG. the lower court handed down its decision in favor of petitioner Antonia.: On 24 April 1992. (d) The trial court is ordered to determine the competence of Marietta E. be appointed administrator. thus: IN VIEW OF ALL THE FOREGOING.. No. (b) The house and lot situated at #32 Batangas Street. otherwise. the sole surviving heir of Teodorico Calisterio. Jr. Jr. is entitled to one half of her husband's estate. Teodorico and Marietta were married eleven years later. is the conjugal property of the oppositor-appellant and the deceased Teodorico Calisterio. herein petitioner Antonia Armas and her children.R. She prayed that her son Sinfroniano C. to determine who among the deceased's next of kin is competent and willing to become the administrator of the estate. Quezon City. 5. 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. a surviving sister of Teodorico. herein respondent Marietta Calisterio. the appellate court. 32 Batangas Street. Antonia Armas y Calisterio. without Marietta having priorly secured a court declaration that James was presumptively dead. 3. 2 On 31 August 1998. The trial court erred in holding that the marriage between oppositorappellant and the deceased Teodorico Calisterio is bigamous for failure of the former to secure a decree of the presumptive death of her first spouse. respondent. that she be appointed as such." claiming to be inter alia.
however. 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 two years where there is danger of death under the circumstances stated in Article 391 of the Civil Code at the time of disappearance. 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. it remained undisputed that respondent Marietta's first husband. in relation to Article 40. 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. James William Bounds. being entitled to the other half. is generally considered as dead and believed to be so by the spouse present at the time of contracting such subsequent marriage. to the other half of the inheritance. Paragraph (2) of the law gives exceptions from the above rule. 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. 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 successional right in intestacy of a surviving spouse over the net estate 11 of the deceased. 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. SO ORDERED. No costs. not the Family Code which took effect only on 03 August 1988. For the subsequent marriage referred to in the three exceptional cases therein provided. in lieu of which. by the explicit mandate of Article 83. a breach of a known duty through some motive of interest or ill will. in turn. along with their own mother Antonia who herself is invoking successional rights over the estate of her deceased brother. in paragraph (c) of the dispositive portion of its judgment. 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. in these cases. The last condition is consistent and in consonance with the requirement of judicial intervention in subsequent marriages as so provided in Article 41 9 . 6 Bad faith imports a dishonest purpose or some moral obliquity and conscious doing of wrong — it partakes of the nature of fraud. along with her. would be determinative of her right as a surviving spouse. 4 It is evident that the basic issue focuses on the validity of the marriage between the deceased Teodorico and respondent Marietta. can only succeed by right of representation in the presence of uncles and aunts." It follows that the burden of proof would be. that. on the party assailing the second marriage. though he has been absent for less than seven years. the applicable specific provision in the instant controversy is Article 83 of the New Civil Code which provides: Art. the spouse present (not the absentee spouse) so contracting the later marriage must have done so in good faith. Upon its dissolution with the death of Teodorico. 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. or if the absentee is presumed dead according to articles 390 and 391. concurring with legitimate brothers and sisters or nephews and nieces (the latter by right of representation). 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. and (c) there is. the assailed judgment of the Court of Appeals in CA G. Nephews and nieces. upon the other hand. The marriage between the deceased Teodorico and respondent Marietta was solemnized on 08 May 1958. The conjugal property of Teodorico and Marietta. In the case at bar. to be deemed valid "until declared null and void by a competent court. under the 1988 Family Code. . viz. alone. The appellate court has thus erred in granting. It is equally noteworthy that the marriage in these exceptional cases are. successional rights. Verily. to be held valid.1âwphi1 WHEREFORE. no evidence having been adduced to indicate another property regime between the spouses. (b) the spouse present has a well-founded belief that the absent spouse is already dead. unlike the old rule. 7 The Court does not find these circumstances to be here extant. The marriage so contracted shall be valid in any of the three cases until declared null and void by a competent court. in order that a subsequent bigamous marriage may exceptionally be considered valid. or if the absentee. 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. should thus be deemed valid notwithstanding the absence of a judicial declaration of presumptive death of James Bounds.R. to petitioner's children.: (a) The prior spouse of the contracting party must have been absent for four consecutive years. A judicial declaration of absence of the absentee spouse is not necessary8 as long as the prescribed period of absence is met. In contrast. The law in force at that time was the Civil Code. the following conditions must concur. the brothers and sisters or nephews and nieces. having been contracted during the regime of the Civil Code. CV No. unless: (1) The first marriage was annulled or dissolved. This second marriage.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. Under the foregoing provisions. 10 of the Family Code. is one-half of the inheritance. 83. pertains to them in common.
the respondent did not really want to find and locate Lea. 1995 in Catbalogan. was staying. He also went to the house of Lea’s friend.. he learned from his father-in-law that Lea had been to their house but that she left without notice. and ALAN B. affirming the decision of the RTC. filed a Motion to Dismiss3 the petition. Alan complied with all the foregoing jurisdictional requirements. Catbalogan. at Barangay Canlapwas. a newspaper of general circulation in the Province of Samar. 2003. Alegro failed to prove that he had a well-founded belief that Lea was already dead.21 The CA cited the ruling of this Court in Republic v.17 Barangay Captain Juan Magat corroborated the testimony of Alan. 2005 REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES.18 Lea’s father.10 Alan sought the help of Barangay Captain Juan Magat. He had not seen Lea in the barangay ever since.4 At the hearing.5 He testified that. and in view of all the foregoing. and that a copy be posted in the court’s bulletin board for at least three weeks before the next scheduled hearing. through the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG). it would be better for her to go back to her parents. hoping that Lea may come home for the fiesta. Samar. Janeth Bautista. 2001. and that copies be sent to Lea by registered mail. for the declaration of presumptive death of his wife. 1995. Branch 27. Alan decided to work as a part-time taxi driver.20 The OSG appealed the decision to the Court of Appeals (CA) which rendered judgment on August 4. Lea did not return to their house anymore. he decided to go to Manila to look for Lea. the court rendered judgment granting the petition. Alan inquired from him if Lea passed by his house and he told Alan that she did not.. Alan then left for Manila on August 27. J. Petitioner. 1995. after his work. 14 On June 20. Sto. Alan further testified that. at 2:00 p.13 He failed to find out Lea’s whereabouts despite his repeated talks with Janeth.11 Sometime in June 1995. He also inquired from his friends of Lea’s whereabouts but to no avail. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS (TENTH DIVISION). He declared that on February 14. 2001. he would look for Lea in the malls but still to no avail. 1995. On January 8. 2001 at 8:30 a. on February 6. he went to the house of Lea’s parents to see if she was there. 2001. as gleaned from the evidence. but he was informed by Janette’s brother-in-law. but when he arrived home later in the day. Julaton. He returned to Catbalogan in 1997 and again looked for his wife but failed. and directed that a copy of the said order be published once a week for three (3) consecutive weeks in the Samar Reporter. vs.19 After Alan rested his case. The fallo of the decision reads: WHEREFORE. when he reported for work the following day.22 The OSG filed a petition for review on certiorari of the CA’s decision alleging that respondent Alan B. Alan adduced evidence that he and Lea were married on January 20. Niño. told him that he did not know where Lea was. the petitioner averred: .m. Alegro filed a petition in the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Catbalogan.R. who was his compadre and the owner of Radio DYMS. Nolasco.23 It averred that the respondent failed to exercise reasonable and diligent efforts to locate his wife.12 However. Alan agreed.: On March 29. which was. Janeth told him that she had not seen her. Samar. however. neither the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor nor the Solicitor General adduced evidence in opposition to the petition. the Provincial Prosecutor of Samar. The petitioner avers that. petitioner’s absent spouse ROSALIA JULATON is hereby declared PRESUMPTIVELY DEAD for the purpose of the petitioner’s subsequent marriage under Article 41 of the Family Code of the Philippines.9 When Alan went back to the house of his parents-in-law. Alan also told him that Lea had disappeared.8 However.15 The police authorities issued an Alarm Notice on July 4. No. In an Order1 dated April 16. but his mother asked him to leave after the town fiesta of Catbalogan. SO ORDERED. Lea was nowhere to be found. the court set the petition for hearing on May 30. and Alan. 159614 December 9.m. When asked where Lea was. Lea’s friend. The court also directed that copies of the order be served on the Solicitor General. Lea did not show up. Alan reported Lea’s disappearance to the local police station.Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT SECOND DIVISION G. that Janeth had left for Manila. who promised to help him locate his wife. On his free time. He went to a house in Navotas where Janeth. 2001. through counsel. The respondent even admitted that Lea’s father told him on February 14. without prejudice to the effect of reappearance of the said absent spouse. He told her that if she enjoyed the life of a single person. 2001. 1995. but he was told that she was not there. The OSG pointed out that the respondent reported his wife’s disappearance to the local police and also to the NBI only after the petitioner filed a motion to dismiss the petition. the Republic of the Philippines. 2002.2 On May 28. 2001. Samar.7 Alan thought that Lea merely went to her parents’ house in Bliss. Nelson Abaenza. Alan narrated that. Alan B. DECISION CALLEJO.6 Lea did not reply. Rosalia (Lea) A. Lea was still in the house. Respondents. denied by the court for failure to comply with Rule 15 of the Rules of Court. on February 14. 16 Alan also reported Lea’s disappearance to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) on July 9. 1995 that Lea had been to their house but left without notice. Finally. Lea arrived home late in the evening and he berated her for being always out of their house. SR. ALEGRO.
27 competence evidence on the ultimate question of his death. The respondent declared that Lea left their abode on February 7. the petition is GRANTED. so far as it tends to explain or characterize their disappearance or throw light on their intentions. Samar. 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. habits. The Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G. The law does not define what is meant by a well-grounded belief. the Court finds and so holds that the respondent failed to prove that he had a well-founded belief. In case of disappearance where there is danger under the circumstances set forth in the provisions of Article 391 of the Civil Code. It may be proved by direct evidence or circumstantial evidence which may tend. prosperity and objects of life which usually control the conduct of men. Cuello Callon writes that "es menester que su creencia sea firme se funde en motivos racionales . For respondent’s 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. Lea. IN LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING. Since marriage is an inviolable social institution that the 1987 Constitution seeks to protect from dissolution at the whim of the parties. the respondent admitted that when he returned to the house of his parents-in-law on February 14. 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. . attachments. thus. is ORDERED to DISMISS the respondent’s petition.24 The petition is meritorious. in Republic v. 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. that his spouse Rosalia (Lea) Julaton was already dead. left their conjugal abode and never returned. It is also the maxim that "men readily believe what they wish to be true.R. an absence of only two years shall be sufficient. conditions. thus. Consequently. 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. the respondent failed to make inquiries from his parents-in-law regarding Lea’s whereabouts before filing his petition in the RTC. 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. Marriage is the foundation of the family. even in a slight degree. to elucidate the inquiry or assist to a determination probably founded in truth. the Regional Trial Court of Catbalogan. The respondent did report and seek the help of the local police authorities and the NBI to locate Lea. For the purpose of contracting the subsequent marriage under the preceding paragraph. 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. On the other hand. CV No. his father-in-law told him that Lea had just been there but that she left without notice. before he filed his petition in the RTC. 73749 is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. SO ORDERED. Branch 27. the petition for declaration of presumptive death should have been denied by the trial court and the Honorable Court of Appeals. It is the policy of the State to protect and strengthen the family as a basic social institution. 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. Nolasco. the respondent failed to present a witness other than Barangay Captain Juan Magat. 1995. In sum.In view of the summary nature of proceedings under Article 41 of the Family Code for the declaration of presumptive death of one’s spouse." In this case. and are the motives of their actions. without prejudice to the effect of reappearance of the absent spouse. unless before the celebration of the subsequent marriage. 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. was. 41. the spouse present must institute a summary proceeding as provided in this Code for the declaration of presumptive death of the absentee. He did so only after the OSG filed its notice to dismiss his petition in the RTC.25 The spouse present is.29 the Court warned against collusion between the parties when they find it impossible to dissolve the marital bonds through existing legal means. It could have enhanced the credibility of the respondent had he made inquiries from his parents-in-law about Lea’s whereabouts considering that Lea’s father was the owner of Radio DYMS. Any fact or circumstance relating to the character. but it was only an afterthought."26 Belief is a state of the mind or condition prompting the doing of an overt act.28 Although testimonial evidence may suffice to prove the well-founded belief of the present spouse that the absent spouse is already dead. A marriage contracted by any person during the subsistence of a previous marriage shall be null and void. Article 41 of the Family Code of the Philippines reads: Art. 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. What is so worrisome is that. 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. 1995 after he chided her for coming home late and for being always out of their house.
1994. FELICIDAD SANDOVAL. Parcel No. status of a child. and TCT No. y por el SW. of Alabang. petitioner Juan De Dios Carlos. petitioner instituted a suit against respondents before the RTC in Muntinlupa City. 4 A parcel of land (Lot 28-C of the subd. Under the compromise. 18. respectively. Carlos and Felipa Elemia died intestate. Bounded on the NE. and on the West. 01'W. por el SE. In the said case. being a portion of Lot 28. METERS. of Muntinlupa. 43 gds. 1992. Metro Manila. 6137).50 mts. dividing the remaining land of the first parcel between them. 5 PARCELA DE TERRENO No. que forman las Calles Laong Laan y Dos. along line 6-1. and TEOFILO CARLOS II. x x x containing an area of Thirteen Thousand Four Hundred Forty One (13. con la parcela 37. situado on el esquina E. 162 of the MUNTINLUPA ESTATE SUBDIVISION. by Lot 28-B of the subd. Muntinlupa Estate. except cases commenced prior to March 15. VDA.T. de la subd. 6137 of the Court of Land Registration. respondents. In 1994. situado on el esquina E.Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila THIRD DIVISION G. con la Calle Dos Castillas. Castillas. plan. por el SE. TCT No. DE CARLOS. Linda por el NW. plan Psd-13-007090. 4 was registered in the name of petitioner. approved as a non-subd. Municipality of Muntinlupa. plan [LRC] Psd-325903. Upon Teofilo's death. Eventually. situated in the Bo. de la subd.R. undertook to deliver and turn over the share of the other legal heir. recovery of property.441) square meters. JUAN DE DIOS CARLOS. The Facts The events that led to the institution of the instant suitare unveiled as follows: Spouses Felix B. issued by the Registry of Deeds of Manila. being a portion of Lot 159-B [LRC] Psd. gds. por el NE. 51.. No. reconveyance. On May 13. 50. De Solocon. que es un mojon de concreto de la Ciudad de Manila. plan x x x containing an area of ONE THUSAND AND SEVENTY-SIX (1. Teofilo died intestate. Mun. points 5 to 1 by Lot 159-B-3. The lots are particularly described as follows: Parcel No. con la parcela 50. being a portion of Lot 159. 06 ares. DE CARLOS or FELICIDAD SANDOVAL CARLOS or FELICIDAD SANDOVAL VDA. Partiendo de un punto Marcado 1 en el plano. 160401 issued by the Registry of Deeds of Makati City.. Manzana No. The nullity and annulment of a marriage cannot be declared in a judgment on the pleadings. PARCEL No.691-square-meter portion of said land. on the SE. Area: 1 hectare. 72. L. 139058 issued by the Registry of Deeds of Makati City. por el NE. Exemption from the provisions of Article 567 of the Civil Code is specifically reserved. Muntinlupa Estate. Rec. 94-1964. que forman las Calles Laong Laan y Dos. el cual se halla a S. Desde el punto 1 de esta manzana. the first three (3) parcels of land were transferred and registered in the name of Teofilo. vs. Partiendo de un punto marcado 1 en el plano.C. The lot is now covered by TCT No. 2 A parcel of land (Lot No. or confession of judgment. situated in the Bo. con la parcela 52. Mun.3 During the lifetime of Felix Carlos. Castillas. containing an area of ONE HUNDRED THIRTY (130) SQ. de Solocan. continiendo una extension superficial de CIENTO CINCUENTA (150) METROS CUADRADOS. points 2 to 4 by Lot 155. Parcel No. con la calle Dos Castillas.50 mts. 6 PARCELA DE TERRENO No. of Muntinlupa. on the W. Island of Luzon. que es un mojon de concreto de la Ciudad de Manila. Parcel No. sum of money. the parties executed a deed of extrajudicial partition. Bounded on the NE. Province of Rizal. 1 . 159-B). 179922 December 16. No. 01'E. 5 & 6 were registered in the name of respondent Felicidad and co-respondent. DECISION REYES. por el SW. points 1 to 2 by Lot 159-B-1 (Road widening) all of the subd. J. point 4 to 5 by Lot 159-B-5. Teofilo Carlos II (Teofilo II). Manzana No. 82. Teofilo Carlos and petitioner Juan De Dios Carlos. con la parcela 51. R. 2008 PARCEL No. con la parcela 36. the parties acknowledged their respective shares in the proceeds from the sale of a portion of the first parcel of land.: ONLY a spouse can initiate an action to sever the marital bond for marriages solemnized during the effectivity of the Family Code. the parties submitted and caused the approval of a partial compromise agreement. along lines 2 to 6 by Mangangata River. continiendo un extension superficial de CIENTO CINCUENTA (150) METROS CUADRADOS. in turn. summary judgment. Muntinlupa Estate.R. The said two (2) parcels of land are covered by TCT Nos. along lines 1-2 by Lot 27. Metro Manila. Linda por el NW. 1 Lot No. 3 A parcel of land (Lot 159-B-2 of the subd. We pronounce these principles as We review on certiorari the Decision 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.Alabang. 219877 and 210878. Desde el punto 1 de esta manzana. and damages. on the S. Teofilo. He was survived by respondents Felicidad and their son. 07 centares. 139061 issued by the Registry of Deeds of Makati City.076) SQUARE METERS. Case No. They left six parcels of land to their compulsory heirs. docketed as Civil Case No. project). 234824 issued by the Registry of Deeds of Makati City. The agreement was made in order to avoid the payment of inheritance taxes. he agreed to transfer his estate to Teofilo. On September 17. Parcel Nos. These three (3) lots are now covered by Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. This includes the remaining 6. Teofilo II. also known as FELICIDAD S. 18. PARCEL No. more or less. petitioner. el cual se halla at S. 2003. of Alabang. con la parcela 49. on the East & SE.
discounting the possibility of collusion between the parties. 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. Carlos.00 together with the interest thereon at the legal rate from date of filing of the instant complaint until fully paid. before the RTC Branch 255. the parties equally divided between them the third and fourth parcels of land. Bulacan. null and void ab initio for lack of the requisite marriage license. less the portion adjudicated to plaintiffs in Civil Case No. and ordering the Register of Deeds of Makati City to cancel TCT No. But before the parties could even proceed to pre-trial. Petitioner also incorporated in the counter-motion for summary judgment the testimony of respondent Felicidad in another case. (b) status of a child. Plaintiff's (petitioner's) Counter-Motion for Summary Judgment is hereby granted and summary judgment is hereby rendered in favor of plaintiff as follows: 1. He likewise maintained that his deceased brother was neither the natural nor the adoptive father of respondent Teofilo Carlos II. Gorospe. In his complaint. (d) reconveyance. In the same breath. entitled Carlos v. be granted. appearance fees. Declaring plaintiff as the sole and exclusive owner of the parcel of land. He also prayed for the cancellation of the certificates of title issued in the name of respondents. with respect to Civil Case No. in a separate case entitled Rillo v. The parties submitted the supplemental compromise agreement. Sr. the RTC rendered judgment. 139058 in the name of Teofilo Carlos. between plaintiff and defendant Sandoval null and void. petitioner lodged his own motion for summary judgment. Sr. premises considered. defendant's (respondent's) Motion for Summary Judgment is hereby denied.4 2. 3. In August 1995.Meanwhile.924. Petitioner likewise sought the avoidance of the contracts he entered into with respondent Felicidad with respect to the subject real properties. In the certificate. Ordering defendant Sandoval to pay and restitute to plaintiff the sum of P18. respondents submitted their answer. Declaring the marriage between defendant Felicidad Sandoval and Teofilo Carlos solemnized at Silang. Respondents declared that Teofilo II was the illegitimate child of the deceased Teofilo Carlos with another woman. 11975.331 square meters of the second parcel of land were adjudicated in favor of plaintiffs Rillo. 210878 in the name of defendant Sandoval and defendant Minor Teofilo S. 139061 of the Register of Deeds of Makati City. Ordering the cancellation of TCT No. The remaining 10. and costs of suit. docketed as Civil Case No.000-square meter portion was later divided between petitioner and respondents. and litigation expenses on June 7. 1994. the late Teofilo Carlos and respondent Felicidad were designated as parents. litigation expenses. Under the contracts. On October 15. RTC and CA Dispositions On April 8. Declaring the Contract. They denied the material averments of petitioner's complaint. Carlos. Attached to the motion was the affidavit of the justice of the peace who solemnized the marriage. respondents argued. (c) recovery of property. 6. In her testimony. Said testimony was made in Civil Case No. Respondents contended that the dearth of details regarding the requisite marriage license did not invalidate Felicidad's marriage to Teofilo. 2002. should be reconveyed to him. which was approved accordingly. and Felicidad and in declaring Teofilo II as not an illegitimate child of Teofilo. Carlos II and ordering the Register of Deeds of Manila to issue another title in the exclusive name of plaintiff herein. 210877 in the names of defendant Sandoval and defendant minor Teofilo S. On January 5. Declaring that the defendant minor. petitioner claimed indemnification as and by way of moral and exemplary damages. 1996. Carlos II. 1996. against respondents before the court a quo with the following causes of action: (a) declaration of nullity of marriage. Respondents also submitted the Certificate of Live Birth of respondent Teofilo II. 5 Subsequently. Ordering the cancellation of TCT No. attorney's fees. evidenced by the Marriage Certificate submitted in this case. 892384. exemplary damages. Carlos II and ordering the Register of Deeds of Manila to issue another title in the sole name of plaintiff herein. Teofilo S. and to issue another title in the sole name of plaintiff herein. petitioner opposed the motion for summary judgment on the ground of irregularity of the contract evidencing the marriage. the CA reversed and set aside the RTC ruling. 94-1964. disposing as follows: WHEREFORE.6 Dissatisfied. SO ORDERED. The complaint was raffled to Branch 256 of the RTC in Muntinlupa. certifying that there is no record of birth of respondent Teofilo II. respondents prayed for the dismissal of the case before the trial court. respondents appealed to the CA. disposing as follows: . 2. Declaring the Contract. Annex M of the complaint. between plaintiff and defendant Sandoval null and void. 95-135. respondent Felicidad narrated that co-respondent Teofilo II is her child with Teofilo. 1996 at 1:30 o'clock in the afternoon. attorney's fees. and (e) sum of money and damages. Let this case be set for hearing for the reception of plaintiff's evidence on his claim for moral damages. and ordering said Register of Deeds to cancel said title and to issue another title in the sole name of plaintiff herein. the Office of the City Prosecutor of Muntinlupa submitted to the trial court its report and manifestation. or legally adopted child of the late Teofilo E. 8. is not the natural. Annex "K" of complaint. On the grounds of lack of cause of action and lack of jurisdiction over the subject matter. 5. 7. The division was incorporated in a supplemental compromise agreement executed on August 17. as well as attorney's fees. 1962. respondents moved for summary judgment. In the appeal. including the sums received by respondents as proceeds. that the trial court acted without or in excess of jurisdiction in rendering summary judgment annulling the marriage of Teofilo. He argued that the properties covered by such certificates of title. Finally. petitioner commenced an action. Las Piñas. Cavite on May 14. inter alia. Petitioner and respondents entered into two more contracts in August 1994. They also asked that their counterclaims for moral and exemplary damages. illegitimate. On October 16.800. covered by TCT No. 4. 1995. Petitioner presented a certification from the Local Civil Registrar of Calumpit.
" Rather than the inferences merely drawn by the trial court. the same may be said of the trial court's rejection of the relationship between appellant Teofilo Carlos II and his putative father on the basis of the inconsistencies in appellant Felicidad Sandoval's statements. Considering that the burden of proof also rests on the party who disputes the legitimacy of a particular party.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. 1962 as basis of the said marriage contract executed by Teofilo Carlos and Felicidad Sandoval. during the last eight years of his life. the court may. the summary judgment appealed from is REVERSED and SET ASIDE and in lieu thereof.the primary evidence of marriage . on the whole. 2006. or otherwise admits the material allegations of the adverse party's pleading. the rule is to the effect that the material facts alleged in the complaint for annulment of marriage should always be proved. 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. however. petitioner moved for reconsideration and for the inhibition of the ponente. the affidavits annexed to the petition for summary judgment practically amount to these methods explicitly proscribed by the law. SO ORDERED. on motion of that party. We are not unmindful of appellee's 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. to wit: "That as far as I could remember. is not as fatal as appellee represents it to be. The CA denied the twin motions. and in denying petitioner's Motion for reconsideration under the Resolution. That. 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. 1992 had effectively dissolved the marriage herein impugned. although irregular." the rule on summary judgment apply (sic) to an action to annul a marriage. Issues In this petition under Rule 45. there was a marriage license issued at Silang. petitioner respectfully submits that the Court of Appeals committed a grave reversible error in applying Articles 88 and 101 of the Civil Code. the material facts alleged in the complaint shall always be proved. with respect to the nullity of the impugned marriage. Yet.8 On November 22. even if We were to sustain the applicability of the rules on summary judgment to the case at bench. . If the non-presentation of the marriage contract . may have overlooked the same. his right to prove the same or. . appellant Felicidad Sandoval's declaration regarding the illegitimate filiation of Teofilo Carlos II is more credible when considered in the light of the fact that. The fact. the averment in the answer that he is the illegitimate son of appellee's brother. 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. insufficient to support what could well be a minor's total forfeiture of the rights arising from his putative filiation. Annex A hereof. Justice Rebecca De Guia-Salvador. 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. appellant Felicidad Sandoval's affirmation of the existence of said marriage license is corroborated by the following statement in the affidavit executed by Godofredo Fojas. did not justify the grant thereof in favor of appellee. Cavite on May 14.Where an answer fails to tender an issue. Our perusal of the record shows that the finding of the court a quo for appellee would still not be warranted. 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. despite the fact that the circumstances of this case are different from that contemplated and intended by law. that appellee's 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. Judgment on the pleadings. in reversing and setting aside the Summary Judgment under the Decision. But in actions for annulment of marriage or for legal separation. Inconsistent though it may be to her previous statements. neither should appellants' non-presentation of the subject marriage license be taken as proof that the same was not procured. or has otherwise decided a question of substance not theretofore decided by the Supreme Court.is not proof that a marriage did not take place. Although it had effectively disavowed appellant's prior claims regarding the legitimacy of appellant Teofilo Carlos II.WHEREFORE. then Justice of the Peace who officiated the impugned marriage. The fact that it was appellants who first sought summary judgment from the trial court." (Underscoring supplied) Moreover. Without trial on the merits having been conducted in the case. it must be emphasized. 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. did not altogether foreclose the possibility of the said appellant's illegitimate filiation. Teofilo Carlos allowed said appellant the use of his name and the shelter of his household. direct judgment on such pleading. petitioner hoists the following issues: 1. his entitlement to inheritance rights as such. a new one is entered REMANDING the case to the court of origin for further proceedings. Section 1. rests upon the plaintiff and any doubt should be resolved in favor of the validity of the marriage. Rather that the summary nature by which the court a quo resolved the issues in the case. The burden of proof to show the nullity of the marriage. Not being an action "to recover upon a claim" or "to obtain a declaratory relief. We find appellee's bare allegation that appellant Teofilo Carlos II was merely purchased from an indigent couple by appellant Felicidad Sandoval. While it may be readily conceded that a valid marriage license is among the formal requisites of marriage. Aside from the dearth of evidence to the contrary. Rule 19 of the Revised Rules of Court provides: "Section 1. to Our mind. or has decided it in a manner probably not in accord with law or with the applicable decisions of this Honorable Court. for that matter. Annex F hereof.
the petition for declaration of absolute nullity of marriage may not be filed by any party outside of the marriage. Petitioner faults the CA in applying Section 1. even if We are to sustain the applicability of the rules on summary judgment to the case at bench. It is at this stage when the public prosecutor sees to it that there is no suppression of evidence. petitioner most respectfully submits that the Court of Appeals committed grave abuse of discretion. instead of the rule on judgment on the pleadings. known as "Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages and Annulment of Voidable Marriages . the court may. Exceptions: (1) Nullity of marriage cases commenced before the effectivity of A. x x x11 But whether it is based on judgment on the pleadings or summary judgment. Petitioner is misguided. The significant principle laid down by the said Rule. In disagreeing with the trial court. 2. He argues that the CA should have applied Rule 35 of the Rules of Court governing summary judgment. A petition for declaration of absolute nullity of void marriage may be filed solely by the husband or wife. in lieu thereof. 02-11-10-SC. . the Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages reiterates the duty of the public prosecutor.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.(a) x x x (b) x x x If there is no collusion. the CA was correct in reversing the summary judgment rendered by the trial court. (Underscoring supplied) Likewise instructive is the Court's pronouncement in Republic v. save for annulment of marriage or declaration of its nullity or for legal separation.13 In that case.A petition for declaration of absolute nullity of void marriage may be filed solely by the husband or the wife. Rule 34) of the Rules of Court providing for judgment on the pleadings.2. entering another remanding the case to the court of origin for further proceedings. Neither judgment on the pleadings nor summary judgment is allowed. in lieu thereof. Rule 1910 of the Revised Rules of Court." 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. 3. Under the Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages and Annulment of Voidable Marriages. made findings on ground of speculations. entering another remanding the case to the court of origin for further proceedings. . The State should have been given the opportunity to present controverting evidence before the judgment was rendered. Our Ruling I.M. including the capacity of one who is not a spouse in bringing the action for nullity of marriage. 200312 is found in Section 17. Judgment on the pleadings.: SEC. No judgment on the pleadings. 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. the CA likewise considered the provisions on summary judgments. (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. No. and conjectures. Trial. . which took effect on March 15. 17. to wit: Moreover.(1) The presiding judge shall personally conduct the trial of the case. 02-11-10-SC. 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. disregarded judicial admissions. the trial court has divested the State of its lawful right and duty to intervene in the case. The grounds for declaration of absolute nullity of marriage must be proved. or otherwise admits the material allegations of the adverse party's pleading.Where an answer fails to tender an issue. (Underscoring supplied) Truly. To further bolster its role towards the preservation of marriage.9 (Underscoring supplied) Essentially. The participation of the State is not terminated by the declaration of the public prosecutor that no collusion exists between the parties.14 (Underscoring supplied) By issuing said summary judgment. But in actions for annulment of marriage or for legal separation. petitioner most respectfully submits that the Court of Appeals committed a serious reversible error in applying Section 1. and (2) Marriages celebrated during the effectivity of the Civil Code.16 II. the material facts alleged in the complaint shall always be proved. (a) Who may file. With the advent of A. Effect of failure to appear at the pre-trial. or otherwise committed misapplications of the laws and misapprehension of the facts. (2) The grounds for declaration of absolute nullity or annulment of marriage must be proved. No. viz. or confession of judgment shall be allowed.M. The Rule made it exclusively a right of the spouses by stating: SEC.: . The CA did not limit its finding solely within the provisions of the Rule on judgment on the pleadings. We excluded actions for nullity or annulment of marriage from the application of summary judgments. summary judgment. the public prosecutor has to make sure that the evidence to be presented or laid down before the court is not fabricated. viz. Petition for declaration of absolute nullity of void marriages . Rule 19 (now Section 1. even if there is no suppression of evidence. Sandiganbayan. 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. instead of Rule 35 governing Summary Judgments. Concomitantly. on motion of that party. No delegation of evidence to a commissioner shall be allowed except as to matters involving property relations of the spouses. 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. which provides: SECTION 1. summary judgment is applicable to all kinds of actions. Our perusal of the record shows that the finding of the court a quo for appellee would still not be warranted. But there are other procedural issues. The rationale of the Rule is enlightening. viz. . So is confession of judgment disallowed. That in reversing and setting aside the Summary Judgment and. surmises. Prescinding from the foregoing discussion. 13. direct judgment on such pleading.: SEC. That in setting aside and reversing the Summary Judgment and.
if it is proved that a valid divorce decree was obtained which allowed Orlando to remarry. A. or even in the Family Code. 2003 although the marriage involved is within the coverage of the Family Code. it does not mean that the compulsory or intestate heirs are without any recourse under the law. On the other hand.00 to P50. If it is proved that a valid divorce decree was obtained and the same did not allow respondent Orlando's remarriage. 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. They are simultaneously the directors and actors of their matrimonial true-to-life play. . and.00. that the Rule does not apply to cases already commenced before March 15. Heirs of Sps. hence.00 to P25. Medinaceli . to wit: (1) Legitimate children and descendants. Teofilo II.27 Illuminating on this point is Amor-Catalan v. his only surviving compulsory heirs are respondent Felicidad and their son. the records reveal that when Teofilo died intestate in 1992. Such person must appear to be the party who stands to be benefited or injured by the judgment in the suit. as distinguished from mere curiosity about the question involved or a mere incidental interest. The innovation incorporated in A. the Court held in Enrico v. The marriage in controversy was celebrated on May 14. 02-11-10-SC covers marriages under the Family Code of the Philippines. plaintiff must be the real party-in-interest.M. The Committee is of the belief that they do not have a legal right to file the petition. for.22 (Underscoring supplied) Petitioner commenced the nullity of marriage case against respondent Felicidad in 1995.26 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. with respect to their legitimate parents and ascendants. 1962. loving. xxxx In fine. 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. only a party who can demonstrate "proper interest" can file the same. Compulsory or intestate heirs have only inchoate rights prior to the death of their predecessor.Only an aggrieved or injured spouse may file a petition for annulment of voidable marriages or declaration of absolute nullity of void marriages. the case is dismissible on the ground of lack of cause of action. then the trial court should declare respondent's marriage as bigamous and void ab initio but reduced the amount of moral damages from P300.: As has been emphasized. Does this mean that any person can bring an action for the declaration of nullity of marriage? We respond in the negative. Thus. 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.000. These heirs were respondents Felicidad and Teofilo II. the concern of the State is to preserve marriage and not to seek its dissolution.29 (Underscoring supplied) III. Hence. 23 The marriage having been solemnized prior to the effectivity of the Family Code. respectively. In the case at bench. rights and obligations to the extent of the value of the inheritance are transmitted to his compulsory heirs. must be prosecuted or defended in the name of the real party-in-interest and must be based on a cause of action. under the New Civil Code which is the law in force at the time the respondents were married. 24 But the Civil Code is silent as to who may bring an action to declare the marriage void. 17 (Underscoring supplied) The new Rule recognizes that the husband and the wife are the sole architects of a healthy. The spouses alone are the engineers of their marital life. petitioner's 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.28 where the Court held: True. On the contrary. as stated in the Rationale of the Rules on Annulment of Voidable Marriages and Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages. Which law would govern depends upon when the marriage took place. 25 Elsewise stated. 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. For it is basic in procedural law that every action must be prosecuted and defended in the name of the real party-in-interest. Thus. or the party entitled to the avails of the suit. 30 Upon Teofilo's death in 1992.M. Court of Appeals. peaceful marriage. 200320 is prospective in its application. No. and is prospective in its application. The case must be remanded to determine whether or not petitioner is a realparty-in-interest to seek the declaration of nullity of the marriage in controversy. 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. however. in Niñal v.M. Hence. But the Rule never intended to deprive the compulsory or intestate heirs of their successional rights.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.000. A petition to declare the nullity of marriage. They can still protect their successional right. No. Under the law on succession. One having no material interest to protect cannot invoke the jurisdiction of the court as plaintiff in an action.000. like any other actions. This is so. While A. The Rule extends only to marriages entered into during the effectivity of the Family Code which took effect on August 3. they alone can and should decide when to take a cut. Badayog. They are the only ones who can decide when and how to build the foundations of marriage. successional rights are transmitted from the moment of death of the decedent and the compulsory heirs are called to succeed by operation of law. there is no specific provision as to who can file a petition to declare the nullity of marriage. 19 It is emphasized. as the new Rule which became effective on March 15.21 viz.00 and exemplary damages from P200. as the surviving spouse and child. compulsory or intestate heirs can still question the validity of the marriage of the spouses. Such petition cannot be filed by compulsory or intestate heirs of the spouses or by the State. all his property. Article 887 of the Civil Code outlined who are compulsory heirs. 1988.000. the applicable law is the Civil Code which was the law in effect at the time of its celebration. however. When plaintiff is not the real party-in-interest. 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. but only in accordance with the grounds allowed by law. 02-11-10-SC sets forth a demarcation line between marriages covered by the Family Code and those solemnized under the Civil Code. 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.
(Underscoring supplied) Indeed. SO ORDERED. WHEREFORE. he still has a right to succeed to the estate. the disposition of the trial court in favor of petitioner for causes of action concerning reconveyance. illegitimate. This is because the presence of descendant. IV. For the guidance of the appellate court. and sum of money must be vacated. No costs. the first half being allotted to the widow pursuant to Article 1001 of the New Civil Code. the collateral relatives shall succeed to the entire estate of the decedent. It bears stressing. If Teofilo II is proven to be a legitimate.36 We agree with the CA that without trial on the merits having been conducted in the case. Remand of the case regarding the question of filiation of respondent Teofilo II is proper and in order. only the presence of descendants. 34 or even an adopted child35 excludes the collateral relatives from inheriting from the decedent. like a brother and sister. Should brothers and sisters or their children survive with the widow or widower. This is so. The records reveal that Teofilo was predeceased by his parents. or a surviving spouse. illegitimate. If the subject marriage is found to be void ab initio. 3. with respect to their legitimate children and descendants. or adopted child or children of the deceased precludes succession by collateral relatives. petitioner's 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.32 Conversely. (3) The widow or widower. This has to be so. or legally adopted son of Teofilo Carlos. This notwithstanding. and natural children by legal fiction. 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. 31 Clearly. This makes petitioner a real-party-interest to seek the declaration of absolute nullity of marriage of his deceased brother with respondent Felicidad. This is based on the ground that he has no successional right to be protected. legitimate parents and ascendants. ART. He had no other siblings but petitioner. still. 1003. a brother is not among those considered as compulsory heirs. or adopted son of Teofilo. to wit: ARTICLE 167. Articles 1001 and 1003 of the New Civil Code provide: ART. 2. But although a collateral relative. (Underscoring supplied) It is stressed that Felicidad's declaration against the legitimate status of Teofilo II is the very act that is proscribed by Article 167 of the Family Code. or illegitimate son of Teofilo. the appealed Decision is MODIFIED as follows: 1. petitioner would then have a personality to seek the nullity of marriage of his deceased brother with respondent Felicidad. or illegitimate. 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. We remind the CA of the guaranty provided by Article 167 of the Family Code to protect the status of legitimacy of a child. 37 Finally. illegitimate children. 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. however. illegitimate. ascendants. If there are no descendants. then petitioner has no legal personality to ask for the nullity of marriage of his deceased brother and respondent Felicidad. ascendants or illegitimate children excludes collateral relatives from succeeding to the estate of the decedent. acquire successional right over the estate if the decedent dies without issue and without ascendants in the direct line. does not fall within the ambit of a compulsory heir. If Teofilo Carlos II is proven to be the legitimate. recovery of property.(2) In default of the foregoing. the latter shall be entitled to one-half of the inheritance and the brothers and sisters or their children to the other half. considering that collateral relatives. such declaration of respondent Felicidad should not be afforded credence. The Regional Trial Court is ORDERED to conduct trial on the merits with dispatch and to give this case priority in its calendar. We should not leave the matter hanging in limbo. as said disposition was made on the basis of its finding that the marriage in controversy was null and void ab initio. does not have proper interest. illegitimate. 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. or adopted son of Teofilo. 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. petitioner succeeds to the entire estate. illegitimate. or legally adopted son of the late Teofilo Carlos. petitioner succeeds to the other half of the estate of his brother. if there are no descendants.33 If respondent Teofilo II is declared and finally proven not to be the legitimate. There is a need to vacate the disposition of the trial court as to the other causes of action before it. the collateral relatives shall succeed to the entire estate of the deceased in accordance with the following articles. Thus. 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 although the marriage in controversy may be found to be void from the beginning. adopted. petitioner would not inherit. illegitimate children. The disposition of the RTC in Nos. illegitimate. the deceased brother of petitioner. . Thus. or legally adopted son of Teofilo. 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. the RTC is strictly INSTRUCTED to DISMISS the action for nullity of marriage for lack of cause of action. The child shall be considered legitimate although the mother may have declared against its legitimacy or may have been sentenced as an adulteress. if Teofilo II is finally found and proven to be not a legitimate. ascendants. 1 to 8 of the fallo of its decision is VACATED AND SET ASIDE. 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. The presence of legitimate. hence. 1001. (5) Other illegitimate children referred to in Article 287 of the Civil Code. such as a brother. or a surviving spouse. (4) Acknowledged natural children. However. The language of the law is unmistakable.
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