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G.R. No. L-63915 April 24, 1985 LORENZO M. TAADA, ABRAHAM F.

SARMIENTO, and MOVEMENT OF ATTORNEYS FOR BROTHERHOOD, INTEGRITY AND NATIONALISM, INC. [MABINI], petitioners, vs. HON. JUAN C. TUVERA, in his capacity as Executive Assistant to the President, HON. JOAQUIN VENUS, in his capacity as Deputy Executive Assistant to the President , MELQUIADES P. DE LA CRUZ, in his capacity as Director, Malacaang Records Office, and FLORENDO S. PABLO, in his capacity as Director, Bureau of Printing, respondents. ESCOLIN, J.: Invoking the people's right to be informed on matters of public concern, a right recognized in Section 6, Article IV of the 1973 Philippine Constitution, 1 as well as the principle that laws to be valid and enforceable must be published in the Official Gazette or otherwise effectively promulgated, petitioners seek a writ of mandamus to compel respondent public officials to publish, and/or cause the publication in the Official Gazette of various presidential decrees, letters of instructions, general orders, proclamations, executive orders, letter of implementation and administrative orders. Specifically, the publication of the following presidential issuances is sought: a] Presidential Decrees Nos. 12, 22, 37, 38, 59, 64, 103, 171, 179, 184, 197, 200, 234, 265, 286, 298, 303, 312, 324, 325, 326, 337, 355, 358, 359, 360, 361, 368, 404, 406, 415, 427, 429, 445, 447, 473, 486, 491, 503, 504, 521, 528, 551, 566, 573, 574, 594, 599, 644, 658, 661, 718, 731, 733, 793, 800, 802, 835, 836, 923, 935, 961, 1017-1030, 1050, 1060-1061, 1085, 1143, 1165, 1166, 1242, 1246, 1250, 1278, 1279, 1300, 1644, 1772, 1808, 1810, 1813-1817, 1819-1826, 18291840, 1842-1847. b] Letter of Instructions Nos.: 10, 39, 49, 72, 107, 108, 116, 130, 136, 141, 150, 153, 155, 161, 173, 180, 187, 188, 192, 193, 199, 202, 204, 205, 209, 211-213, 215-224, 226-228, 231-239, 241-245, 248, 251, 253-261, 263-269, 271-273, 275283, 285-289, 291, 293, 297-299, 301-303, 309, 312-315, 325, 327, 343, 346, 349, 357, 358, 362, 367, 370, 382, 385, 386, 396-397, 405, 438-440, 444- 445, 473, 486, 488, 498, 501, 399, 527, 561, 576, 587, 594, 599, 600, 602, 609, 610, 611, 612, 615, 641, 642, 665, 702, 712-713, 726, 837-839, 878-879, 881, 882, 939-940, 964,997,1149-1178,1180-1278. c] General Orders Nos.: 14, 52, 58, 59, 60, 62, 63, 64 & 65. d] Proclamation Nos.: 1126, 1144, 1147, 1151, 1196, 1270, 1281, 1319-1526, 1529, 1532, 1535, 1538, 1540-1547, 15501558, 1561-1588, 1590-1595, 1594-1600, 1606-1609, 1612-1628, 1630-1649, 1694-1695, 1697-1701, 1705-1723, 17311734, 1737-1742, 1744, 1746-1751, 1752, 1754, 1762, 1764-1787, 1789-1795, 1797, 1800, 1802-1804, 1806-1807, 18121814, 1816, 1825-1826, 1829, 1831-1832, 1835-1836, 1839-1840, 1843-1844, 1846-1847, 1849, 1853-1858, 1860, 1866, 1868, 1870, 1876-1889, 1892, 1900, 1918, 1923, 1933, 1952, 1963, 1965-1966, 1968-1984, 1986-2028, 2030-2044, 20462145, 2147-2161, 2163-2244. e] Executive Orders Nos.: 411, 413, 414, 427, 429-454, 457- 471, 474-492, 494-507, 509-510, 522, 524-528, 531-532, 536, 538, 543-544, 549, 551-553, 560, 563, 567-568, 570, 574, 593, 594, 598-604, 609, 611- 647, 649-677, 679-703, 705-707, 712-786, 788-852, 854-857. f] Letters of Implementation Nos.: 7, 8, 9, 10, 11-22, 25-27, 39, 50, 51, 59, 76, 80-81, 92, 94, 95, 107, 120, 122, 123. g] Administrative Orders Nos.: 347, 348, 352-354, 360- 378, 380-433, 436-439. The respondents, through the Solicitor General, would have this case dismissed outright on the ground that petitioners have no legal personality or standing to bring the instant petition. The view is submitted that in the absence of any showing that petitioners are personally and directly affected or prejudiced by the alleged non-publication of the presidential issuances in question 2 said petitioners are without the requisite legal personality to institute this mandamus proceeding, they are not being "aggrieved parties" within the meaning of Section 3, Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, which we quote: SEC. 3. Petition for Mandamus.When any tribunal, corporation, board or person unlawfully neglects the performance of an act which the law specifically enjoins as a duty resulting from an office, trust, or station, or unlawfully excludes another from the use a rd enjoyment of a right or office to which such other is entitled, and there is no other plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law, the person aggrieved thereby may file a verified petition in the proper court alleging the facts with certainty and praying that judgment be rendered commanding the defendant, immediately or at some other specified time, to do the act required to be done to Protect the rights of the petitioner, and to pay the damages sustained by the petitioner by reason of the wrongful acts of the defendant. Upon the other hand, petitioners maintain that since the subject of the petition concerns a public right and its object is to compel the performance of a public duty, they need not show any specific interest for their petition to be given due course. The issue posed is not one of first impression. As early as the 1910 case of Severino vs. Governor General, 3 this Court held that while the general rule is that "a writ of mandamus would be granted to a private individual only in those cases where he has some private or particular interest to be subserved, or some particular right to be protected, independent of that which he holds with the public at large," and "it is for the public officers exclusively to apply for the writ when public rights are to be subserved [Mithchell vs. Boardmen, 79 M.e., 469]," nevertheless, "when the question is one of public right and the object of the mandamus is to procure the enforcement of a public duty, the people are regarded as the real party in interest and the relator at whose instigation the proceedings are instituted need not

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show that he has any legal or special interest in the result, it being sufficient to show that he is a citizen and as such interested in the execution of the laws [High, Extraordinary Legal Remedies, 3rd ed., sec. 431]. Thus, in said case, this Court recognized the relator Lope Severino, a private individual, as a proper party to the mandamus proceedings brought to compel the Governor General to call a special election for the position of municipal president in the town of Silay, Negros Occidental. Speaking for this Court, Mr. Justice Grant T. Trent said: We are therefore of the opinion that the weight of authority supports the proposition that the relator is a proper party to proceedings of this character when a public right is sought to be enforced. If the general rule in America were otherwise, we think that it would not be applicable to the case at bar for the reason 'that it is always dangerous to apply a general rule to a particular case without keeping in mind the reason for the rule, because, if under the particular circumstances the reason for the rule does not exist, the rule itself is not applicable and reliance upon the rule may well lead to error' No reason exists in the case at bar for applying the general rule insisted upon by counsel for the respondent. The circumstances which surround this case are different from those in the United States, inasmuch as if the relator is not a proper party to these proceedings no other person could be, as we have seen that it is not the duty of the law officer of the Government to appear and represent the people in cases of this character. The reasons given by the Court in recognizing a private citizen's legal personality in the aforementioned case apply squarely to the present petition. Clearly, the right sought to be enforced by petitioners herein is a public right recognized by no less than the fundamental law of the land. If petitioners were not allowed to institute this proceeding, it would indeed be difficult to conceive of any other person to initiate the same, considering that the Solicitor General, the government officer generally empowered to represent the people, has entered his appearance for respondents in this case. Respondents further contend that publication in the Official Gazette is not a sine qua non requirement for the effectivity of laws where the laws themselves provide for their own effectivity dates. It is thus submitted that since the presidential issuances in question contain special provisions as to the date they are to take effect, publication in the Official Gazette is not indispensable for their effectivity. The point stressed is anchored on Article 2 of the Civil Code: Art. 2. Laws shall take effect after fifteen days following the completion of their publication in the Official Gazette, unless it is otherwise provided, ... The interpretation given by respondent is in accord with this Court's construction of said article. In a long line of decisions, 4 this Court has ruled that publication in the Official Gazette is necessary in those cases where the legislation itself does not provide for its effectivity datefor then the date of publication is material for determining its date of effectivity, which is the fifteenth day following its publication-but not when the law itself provides for the date when it goes into effect. Respondents' argument, however, is logically correct only insofar as it equates the effectivity of laws with the fact of publication. Considered in the light of other statutes applicable to the issue at hand, the conclusion is easily reached that said Article 2 does not preclude the requirement of publication in the Official Gazette, even if the law itself provides for the date of its effectivity. Thus, Section 1 of Commonwealth Act 638 provides as follows: Section 1. There shall be published in the Official Gazette [1] all important legisiative acts and resolutions of a public nature of the, Congress of the Philippines; [2] all executive and administrative orders and proclamations, except such as have no general applicability; [3] decisions or abstracts of decisions of the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals as may be deemed by said courts of sufficient importance to be so published; [4] such documents or classes of documents as may be required so to be published by law; and [5] such documents or classes of documents as the President of the Philippines shall determine from time to time to have general applicability and legal effect, or which he may authorize so to be published. ... The clear object of the above-quoted provision is to give the general public adequate notice of the various laws which are to regulate their actions and conduct as citizens. Without such notice and publication, there would be no basis for the application of the maxim "ignorantia legis non excusat." It would be the height of injustice to punish or otherwise burden a citizen for the transgression of a law of which he had no notice whatsoever, not even a constructive one. Perhaps at no time since the establishment of the Philippine Republic has the publication of laws taken so vital significance that at this time when the people have bestowed upon the President a power heretofore enjoyed solely by the legislature. While the people are kept abreast by the mass media of the debates and deliberations in the Batasan Pambansa and for the diligent ones, ready access to the legislative recordsno such publicity accompanies the law-making process of the President. Thus, without publication, the people have no means of knowing what presidential decrees have actually been promulgated, much less a definite way of informing themselves of the specific contents and texts of such decrees. As the Supreme Court of Spain ruled: "Bajo la denominacion generica de leyes, se comprenden tambien los reglamentos, Reales decretos, Instrucciones, Circulares y Reales ordines dictadas de conformidad con las mismas por el Gobierno en uso de su potestad. 5 The very first clause of Section I of Commonwealth Act 638 reads: "There shall be published in the Official Gazette ... ." The word "shall" used therein imposes upon respondent officials an imperative duty. That duty must be enforced if the Constitutional right of the people to be informed on matters of public concern is to be given substance and reality. The law itself makes a list of what should be published in the Official Gazette. Such listing, to our mind, leaves respondents with no discretion whatsoever as to what must be included or excluded from such publication.

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The publication of all presidential issuances "of a public nature" or "of general applicability" is mandated by law. Obviously, presidential decrees that provide for fines, forfeitures or penalties for their violation or otherwise impose a burden or. the people, such as tax and revenue measures, fall within this category. Other presidential issuances which apply only to particular persons or class of persons such as administrative and executive orders need not be published on the assumption that they have been circularized to all concerned. 6 It is needless to add that the publication of presidential issuances "of a public nature" or "of general applicability" is a requirement of due process. It is a rule of law that before a person may be bound by law, he must first be officially and specifically informed of its contents. As Justice Claudio Teehankee said in Peralta vs. COMELEC 7: In a time of proliferating decrees, orders and letters of instructions which all form part of the law of the land, the requirement of due process and the Rule of Law demand that the Official Gazette as the official government repository promulgate and publish the texts of all such decrees, orders and instructions so that the people may know where to obtain their official and specific contents. The Court therefore declares that presidential issuances of general application, which have not been published, shall have no force and effect. Some members of the Court, quite apprehensive about the possible unsettling effect this decision might have on acts done in reliance of the validity of those presidential decrees which were published only during the pendency of this petition, have put the question as to whether the Court's declaration of invalidity apply to P.D.s which had been enforced or implemented prior to their publication. The answer is all too familiar. In similar situations in the past this Court had taken the pragmatic and realistic course set forth in Chicot County Drainage District vs. Baxter Bank 8 to wit: The courts below have proceeded on the theory that the Act of Congress, having been found to be unconstitutional, was not a law; that it was inoperative, conferring no rights and imposing no duties, and hence affording no basis for the challenged decree. Norton v. Shelby County, 118 U.S. 425, 442; Chicago, 1. & L. Ry. Co. v. Hackett, 228 U.S. 559, 566. It is quite clear, however, that such broad statements as to the effect of a determination of unconstitutionality must be taken with qualifications. The actual existence of a statute, prior to such a determination, is an operative fact and may have consequences which cannot justly be ignored. The past cannot always be erased by a new judicial declaration. The effect of the subsequent ruling as to invalidity may have to be considered in various aspects-with respect to particular conduct, private and official. Questions of rights claimed to have become vested, of status, of prior determinations deemed to have finality and acted upon accordingly, of public policy in the light of the nature both of the statute and of its previous application, demand examination. These questions are among the most difficult of those which have engaged the attention of courts, state and federal and it is manifest from numerous decisions that an all-inclusive statement of a principle of absolute retroactive invalidity cannot be justified. Consistently with the above principle, this Court in Rutter vs. Esteban 9 sustained the right of a party under the Moratorium Law, albeit said right had accrued in his favor before said law was declared unconstitutional by this Court. Similarly, the implementation/enforcement of presidential decrees prior to their publication in the Official Gazette is "an operative fact which may have consequences which cannot be justly ignored. The past cannot always be erased by a new judicial declaration ... that an allinclusive statement of a principle of absolute retroactive invalidity cannot be justified." From the report submitted to the Court by the Clerk of Court, it appears that of the presidential decrees sought by petitioners to be published in the Official Gazette, only Presidential Decrees Nos. 1019 to 1030, inclusive, 1278, and 1937 to 1939, inclusive, have not been so published. 10 Neither the subject matters nor the texts of these PDs can be ascertained since no copies thereof are available. But whatever their subject matter may be, it is undisputed that none of these unpublished PDs has ever been implemented or enforced by the government. InPesigan vs. Angeles, 11 the Court, through Justice Ramon Aquino, ruled that "publication is necessary to apprise the public of the contents of [penal] regulations and make the said penalties binding on the persons affected thereby. " The cogency of this holding is apparently recognized by respondent officials considering the manifestation in their comment that "the government, as a matter of policy, refrains from prosecuting violations of criminal laws until the same shall have been published in the Official Gazette or in some other publication, even though some criminal laws provide that they shall take effect immediately. WHEREFORE, the Court hereby orders respondents to publish in the Official Gazette all unpublished presidential issuances which are of general application, and unless so published, they shall have no binding force and effect. SO ORDERED.

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G.R. No. 186571

August 11, 2010

GERBERT R. CORPUZ, Petitioner, vs. DAISYLYN TIROL STO. TOMAS and The SOLICITOR GENERAL, Respondents. DECISION BRION, J.: Before the Court is a direct appeal from the decision of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Laoag City, Branch 11, elevated via a 2 petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court (present petition). Petitioner Gerbert R. Corpuz was a former Filipino citizen who acquired Canadian citizenship through naturalization on November 3 4 29, 2000. On January 18, 2005, Gerbert married respondent Daisylyn T. Sto. Tomas, a Filipina, in Pasig City. Due to work and other professional commitments, Gerbert left for Canada soon after the wedding. He returned to the Philippines sometime in April 2005 to surprise Daisylyn, but was shocked to discover that his wife was having an affair with another man. Hurt and disappointed, Gerbert returned to Canada and filed a petition for divorce. The Superior Court of Justice, Windsor, Ontario, Canada granted Gerbert s 5 petition for divorce on December 8, 2005. The divorce decree took effect a month later, on January 8, 2006. Two years after the divorce, Gerbert has moved on and has found another Filipina to love. Desirous of marrying his new Filipina fiance in the Philippines, Gerbert went to the Pasig City Civil Registry Office and registered the Canadian divorce decree on his and Daisylyns marriage certificate. Despite the registration of the divorce decree, an official of the National Statistics Office (NSO) informed Gerbert that the marriage between him and Daisylyn still subsists under Philippine law; to be enforceable, the foreign 6 divorce decree must first be judicially recognized by a competent Philippine court, pursuant to NSO Circular No. 4, series of 1982. Accordingly, Gerbert filed a petition for judicial recognition of foreign divorce and/or declaration of marriage as dissolved (petition) with the RTC. Although summoned, Daisylyn did not file any responsive pleading but submitted instead a notarized letter/manifestation to the trial court. She offered no opposition to G erberts petition and, in fact, alleged her desire to file a similar case herself but was prevented by financial and personal circumstances. She, thus, requested that she be considered as a party-ininterest with a similar prayer to Gerberts. In its October 30, 2008 decision, the RTC denied Gerberts petition. The RTC concluded that Gerbert was not the proper party to institute the action for judicial recognition of the foreign divorce decree as he is a naturalized Canadian citizen. It ruled that only the 8 Filipino spouse can avail of the remedy, under the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code, in order for him or her to be 9 able to remarry under Philippine law. Article 26 of the Family Code reads: Art. 26. All marriages solemnized outside the Philippines, in accordance with the laws in force in the country where they were solemnized, and valid there as such, shall also be valid in this country, except those prohibited under Articles 35(1), (4), (5) and (6), 36, 37 and 38. Where a marriage between a Filipino citizen and a foreigner is validly celebrated and a divorce is thereafter validly obtained abroad by the alien spouse capacitating him or her to remarry, the Filipino spouse shall likewise have capacity to remarry under Philippine law. This conclusion, the RTC stated, is consistent with the legislative intent behind the enactment of the second paragraph of Article 26 10 of the Family Code, as determined by the Court in Republic v. Orbecido III; the provision was enacted to "avoid the absurd situation where the Filipino spouse remains married to the alien spouse who, after obtaining a divorce, is no longer married to the Filipino 11 spouse." THE PETITION From the RTCs ruling, Gerbert filed the present petition.
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Gerbert asserts that his petition before the RTC is essentially for declaratory relief, similar to that filed in Orbecido; he, thus, similarly asks for a determination of his rights under the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code. Taking into account the rationale behind the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code, he contends that the provision applies as well to the benefit of the alien spouse. He claims that the RTC ruling unduly stretched the doctrine in Orbecido by limiting the standing to file the petition only to the Filipino spouse an interpretation he claims to be contrary to the essence of the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code. He considers himself as a proper party, vested with sufficient legal interest, to institute the case, as there is a possibility that he might be prosecuted for bigamy if he marries his Filipina fiance in the Philippines since two marriage certificates, involving him, 14 would be on file with the Civil Registry Office. The Office of the Solicitor General and Daisylyn, in their respective Comments, both support Gerberts position. Essentially, the petition raises the issue of whether the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code extends to aliens the right to petition a court of this jurisdiction for the recognition of a foreign divorce decree. THE COURTS RULING The alien spouse can claim no right under the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code as the substantive right it establishes is in favor of the Filipino spouse

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The resolution of the issue requires a review of the legislative history and intent behind the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code. The Family Code recognizes only two types of defective marriages void and voidable marriages. In both cases, the basis for the judicial declaration of absolute nullity or annulment of the marriage exists before or at the time of the marriage. Divorce, on the 17 other hand, contemplates the dissolution of the lawful union for cause arising after the marriage. Our family laws do not recognize 18 absolute divorce between Filipino citizens. Recognizing the reality that divorce is a possibility in marriages between a Filipino and an alien, President Corazon C. Aquino, in the 19 exercise of her legislative powers under the Freedom Constitution, enacted Executive Order No. (EO) 227, amending Article 26 of the Family Code to its present wording, as follows: Art. 26. All marriages solemnized outside the Philippines, in accordance with the laws in force in the country where they were solemnized, and valid there as such, shall also be valid in this country, except those prohibited under Articles 35(1), (4), (5) and (6), 36, 37 and 38. Where a marriage between a Filipino citizen and a foreigner is validly celebrated and a divorce is thereafter validly obtained abroad by the alien spouse capacitating him or her to remarry, the Filipino spouse shall likewise have capacity to remarry under Philippine law. Through the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code, EO 227 effectively incorporated into the law this Court s holding in 20 21 Van Dorn v. Romillo, Jr. and Pilapil v. Ibay-Somera. In both cases, the Court refused to acknowledge the alien spouses assertion of marital rights after a foreign courts divorce decree between the alien and the Filipino. The Court, thus, recognized that the foreign divorce had already severed the marital bond between the spouses. The Court reasoned in Van Dorn v. Romillo that: To maintain x x x that, under our laws, [the Filipino spouse] has to be considered still married to [the alien spouse] and still subject to a wife's obligations x x x cannot be just. [The Filipino spouse] should not be obliged to live together with, observe respect and fidelity, and render support to [the alien spouse]. The latter should not continue to be one of her heirs with possible rights to 22 conjugal property. She should not be discriminated against in her own country if the ends of justice are to be served. As the RTC correctly stated, the provision was included in the law "to avoid the absurd situation where the Filipino spouse remains 23 married to the alien spouse who, after obtaining a divorce, is no longer married to the Filipino spouse." The legislative intent is for the benefit of the Filipino spouse, by clarifying his or her marital status, settling the doubts created by the divorce decree. Essentially, the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code provided the Filipino spouse a substantive right to have his or her 24 marriage to the alien spouse considered as dissolved, capacitating him or her to remarry. Without the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code, the judicial recognition of the foreign decree of divorce, whether in a proceeding instituted precisely for that purpose or as a related issue in another proceeding, would be of no significance to the Filipino spouse since our laws do not 25 recognize divorce as a mode of severing the marital bond; Article 17 of the Civil Code provides that the policy against absolute divorces cannot be subverted by judgments promulgated in a foreign country. The inclusion of the second paragraph in Article 26 of the Family Code provides the direct exception to this rule and serves as basis for recognizing the dissolution of the marriage between the Filipino spouse and his or her alien spouse. Additionally, an action based on the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code is not limited to the recognition of the foreign divorce decree. If the court finds that the decree capacitated the alien spouse to remarry, the courts can declare that the Filipino spouse is likewise capacitated to contract another marriage. No court in this jurisdiction, however, can make a similar declaration for the alien spouse (other than that already established by the decree), whose status and legal capacity are generally governed by his 26 national law. Given the rationale and intent behind the enactment, and the purpose of the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code, the RTC was correct in limiting the applicability of the provision for the benefit of the Filipino spouse. In other words, only the Filipino spouse can invoke the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code; the alien spouse can claim no right under this provision. The foreign divorce decree is presumptive evidence of a right that clothes the party with legal interest to petition for its recognition in this jurisdiction We qualify our above conclusion i.e., that the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code bestows no rights in favor of aliens with the complementary statement that this conclusion is not sufficient basis to dismiss Gerberts petition before the RTC. I n other words, the unavailability of the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code to aliens does not necessarily strip Gerbert of legal interest to petition the RTC for the recognition of his foreign divorce decree. The foreign divorce decree itself, after its authenticity and conformity with the aliens national law have been duly proven according to our rules of evidence, serves as a presumptive evidence of right in favor of Gerbert, pursuant to Section 48, Rule 39 of the Rules of Court which provides for the effect of foreign judgments. This Section states: SEC. 48. Effect of foreign judgments or final orders. The effect of a judgment or final order of a tribunal of a foreign country, having jurisdiction to render the judgment or final order is as follows: (a) In case of a judgment or final order upon a specific thing, the judgment or final order is conclusive upon the title of the thing; and
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(b) In case of a judgment or final order against a person, the judgment or final order is presumptive evidence of a right as between the parties and their successors in interest by a subsequent title. In either case, the judgment or final order may be repelled by evidence of a want of jurisdiction, want of notice to the party, collusion, fraud, or clear mistake of law or fact. To our mind, direct involvement or being the subject of the foreign judgment is sufficient to clothe a party with the requisite interest to institute an action before our courts for the recognition of the foreign judgment. In a divorce situation, we have declared, no less, that the divorce obtained by an alien abroad may be recognized in the Philippines, provided the divorce is valid according to his or 27 her national law. The starting point in any recognition of a foreign divorce judgment is the acknowledgment that our courts do not take judicial notice of foreign judgments and laws. Justice Herrera explained that, as a rule, "no sovereign is bound to give effect within its dominion to 28 a judgment rendered by a tribunal of another country." This means that the foreign judgment and its authenticity must be proven as facts under our rules on evidence, together with the aliens applicable national law to show the effect of the judgment on the 29 alien himself or herself. The recognition may be made in an action instituted specifically for the purpose or in another action where a party invokes the foreign decree as an integral aspect of his claim or defense. In Gerberts case, since both the foreign divorce decree and the n ational law of the alien, recognizing his or her capacity to obtain a divorce, purport to be official acts of a sovereign authority, Section 24, Rule 132 of the Rules of Court comes into play. This Section requires proof, either by (1) official publications or (2) copies attested by the officer having legal custody of the documents. If the copies of official records are not kept in the Philippines, these must be (a) accompanied by a certificate issued by the proper diplomatic or consular officer in the Philippine foreign service stationed in the foreign country in which the record is kept and (b) authenticated by the seal of his office. The records show that Gerbert attached to his petition a copy of the divorce decree, as well as the required certificates proving its 30 31 authenticity, but failed to include a copy of the Canadian law on divorce. Under this situation, we can, at this point, simply dismiss the petition for insufficiency of supporting evidence, unless we deem it more appropriate to remand the case to the RTC to determine whether the divorce decree is consistent with the Canadian divorce law. We deem it more appropriate to take this latter course of action, given the Article 26 interests that will be served and the Filipina wifes (Daisylyns) obvious conformity with the petition. A remand, at the same time, w ill allow other interested parties to oppose the foreign judgment and overcome a petitioners presumptive evidence of a right by proving want of jurisdiction, want of not ice to a party, collusion, fraud, or clear mistake of law or fact. Needless to state, every precaution must be taken to ensure conformity with 32 our laws before a recognition is made, as the foreign judgment, once recognized, shall have the effect of res judicata between the 33 parties, as provided in Section 48, Rule 39 of the Rules of Court. In fact, more than the principle of comity that is served by the practice of reciprocal recognition of foreign judgments between nations, the res judicata effect of the foreign judgments of divorce serves as the deeper basis for extending judicial recognition and for considering the alien spouse bound by its terms. This same effect, as discussed above, will not obtain for the Filipino spouse were it not for the substantive rule that the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code provides. Considerations beyond the recognition of the foreign divorce decree As a matter of "housekeeping" concern, we note that the Pasig City Civil Registry Office has already recorded the divorce decree on 34 Gerbert and Daisylyns marriage certificate based on the mere presentation of the decree. We consider the recording to be legally improper; hence, the need to draw attention of the bench and the bar to what had been done. Article 407 of the Civil Code states that "[a]cts, events and judicial decrees concerning the civil status of persons shall be recorded in the civil register." The law requires the entry in the civil registry of judicial decrees that produce legal consequences touching upon a persons legal capacity and status, i.e., those affecting "all his personal qualities and relations, more or less permanent in nature, not 35 ordinarily terminable at his own will, such as his being legitimate or illegitimate, or his being married or not." A judgment of divorce is a judicial decree, although a foreign one, affecting a persons legal capacity and status that must be recorded. In fact, Act No. 3753 or the Law on Registry of Civil Status specifically requires the registration of divorce decrees in the civil registry: Sec. 1. Civil Register. A civil register is established for recording the civil status of persons, in which shall be entered: (a) births; (b) deaths; (c) marriages; (d) annulments of marriages; (e) divorces; (f) legitimations; (g) adoptions;

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(h) acknowledgment of natural children; (i) naturalization; and (j) changes of name. xxxx Sec. 4. Civil Register Books. The local registrars shall keep and preserve in their offices the following books, in which they shall, respectively make the proper entries concerning the civil status of persons: (1) Birth and death register; (2) Marriage register, in which shall be entered not only the marriages solemnized but also divorces and dissolved marriages. (3) Legitimation, acknowledgment, adoption, change of name and naturalization register. But while the law requires the entry of the divorce decree in the civil registry, the law and the submission of the decree by themselves do not ipso facto authorize the decrees registration. The law should be read in relation with the requirement of a judicial recognition of the foreign judgment before it can be given res judicata effect. In the context of the present case, no judicial order as yet exists recognizing the foreign divorce decree. Thus, the Pasig City Civil Registry Office acted totally out of turn and without authority of law when it annotated the Canadian divorce decree on Gerbert and Daisylyns marriage certificate, on the strength alone of the foreign decree presented by Gerbert. Evidently, the Pasig City Civil Registry Office was aware of the requirement of a court recognition, as it cited NSO Circular No. 4, 36 37 series of 1982, and Department of Justice Opinion No. 181, series of 1982 both of which required a final order from a competent Philippine court before a foreign judgment, dissolving a marriage, can be registered in the civil registry, but it, nonetheless, allowed the registration of the decree. For being contrary to law, the registration of the foreign divorce decree without the requisite judicial recognition is patently void and cannot produce any legal effect. 1avvphi1 Another point we wish to draw attention to is that the recognition that the RTC may extend to the Canadian divorce decree does not, by itself, authorize the cancellation of the entry in the civil registry. A petition for recognition of a foreign judgment is not the proper proceeding, contemplated under the Rules of Court, for the cancellation of entries in the civil registry. Article 412 of the Civil Code declares that "no entry in a civil register shall be changed or corrected, without judicial order." The Rules of Court supplements Article 412 of the Civil Code by specifically providing for a special remedial proceeding by which entries in the civil registry may be judicially cancelled or corrected. Rule 108 of the Rules of Court sets in detail the jurisdictional and procedural requirements that must be complied with before a judgment, authorizing the cancellation or correction, may be annotated in the civil registry. It also requires, among others, that the verified petition must be filed with the RTC of the province where the 38 corresponding civil registry is located; that the civil registrar and all persons who have or claim any interest must be made parties 39 40 to the proceedings; and that the time and place for hearing must be published in a newspaper of general circulation. As these basic jurisdictional requirements have not been met in the present case, we cannot consider the petition Gerbert filed with the RTC as one filed under Rule 108 of the Rules of Court. We hasten to point out, however, that this ruling should not be construed as requiring two separate proceedings for the registration of a foreign divorce decree in the civil registry one for recognition of the foreign decree and another specifically for cancellation of the entry under Rule 108 of the Rules of Court. The recognition of the foreign divorce decree may be made in a Rule 108 proceeding itself, as the object of special proceedings (such as that in Rule 108 of the Rules of Court) is precisely to establish the status or right 41 of a party or a particular fact. Moreover, Rule 108 of the Rules of Court can serve as the appropriate adversarial proceeding by which the applicability of the foreign judgment can be measured and tested in terms of jurisdictional infirmities, want of notice to the party, collusion, fraud, or clear mistake of law or fact. WHEREFORE, we GRANT the petition for review on certiorari, and REVERSE the October 30, 2008 decision of the Regional Trial Court of Laoag City, Branch 11, as well as its February 17, 2009 order. We order the REMAND of the case to the trial court for further proceedings in accordance with our ruling above. Let a copy of this Decision be furnished the Civil Registrar General. No costs. SO ORDERED.

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G.R. No. 152577 September 21, 2005 REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, Petitioners, vs. CRASUS L. IYOY, Respondent. DECISION CHICO-NAZARIO, J.: In this Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, petitioner Republic of the Philippines, represented by the Office of the Solicitor General, prays for the reversal of the Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 62539, dated 30 1 July 2001, affirming the Judgment of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Cebu City, Branch 22, in Civil Case No. CEB-20077, dated 30 2 October 1998, declaring the marriage between respondent Crasus L. Iyoy and Fely Ada Rosal-Iyoy null and void on the basis of Article 36 of the Family Code of the Philippines. The proceedings before the RTC commenced with the filing of a Complaint for declaration of nullity of marriage by respondent Crasus on 25 March 1997. According to the said Complaint, respondent Crasus married Fely on 16 December 1961 at Bradford Memorial Church, Jones Avenue, Cebu City. As a result of their union, they had five children Crasus, Jr., Daphne, Debbie, Calvert, and Carlos who are now all of legal ages. After the celebration of their marriage, respondent Crasus discovered that Fely was "hottempered, a nagger and extravagant." In 1984, Fely left the Philippines for the United States of America (U.S.A.), leaving all of their five children, the youngest then being only six years old, to the care of respondent Crasus. Barely a year after Fely left for the U.S.A., respondent Crasus received a letter from her requesting that he sign the enclosed divorce papers; he disregarded the said request. Sometime in 1985, respondent Crasus learned, through the letters sent by Fely to their children, that Fely got married to an American, with whom she eventually had a child. In 1987, Fely came back to the Philippines with her American family, staying at Cebu Plaza Hotel in Cebu City. Respondent Crasus did not bother to talk to Fely because he was afraid he might not be able to bear the sorrow and the pain she had caused him. Fely returned to the Philippines several times more: in 1990, for the wedding of their eldest child, Crasus, Jr.; in 1992, for the brain operation of their fourth child, Calvert; and in 1995, for unknown reasons. Fely continued to live with her American family in New Jersey, U.S.A. She had been openly using the surname of her American husband in the Philippines and in the U.S.A. For the wedding of Crasus, Jr., Fely herself had invitations made in which she was named as "Mrs. Fely Ada Micklus." At the time the Complaint was filed, it had been 13 years since Fely left and abandoned respondent Crasus, and there was no more possibility of reconciliation between them. Respondent Crasus finally alleged in his Complaint that Felys acts brought danger and dishonor to the family, and clearly demonstrated her psychological incapacity to perform the essential obligations of marriage. Such incapacity, being incurable and continuing, constitutes a ground for declaration of nullity of marriage under Article 36, in relation to Articles 68, 70, and 72, of the Family Code of the Philippines. Fely filed her Answer and Counterclaim with the RTC on 05 June 1997. She asserted therein that she was already an American citizen since 1988 and was now married to Stephen Micklus. While she admitted being previously married to respondent Crasus and having five children with him, Fely refuted the other allegations made by respondent Crasus in his Complaint. She explained that she was no more hot-tempered than any normal person, and she may had been indignant at respondent Crasus on certain occasions but it was because of the latters drunkenness, womanizing, and lack of sincere effort to find employment and to contribute to th e maintenance of their household. She could not have been extravagant since the family hardly had enough money for basic needs. Indeed, Fely left for abroad for financial reasons as respondent Crasus had no job and what she was then earning as the sole breadwinner in the Philippines was insufficient to support their family. Although she left all of her children with respondent Crasus, she continued to provide financial support to them, as well as, to respondent Crasus. Subsequently, Fely was able to bring her children to the U.S.A., except for one, Calvert, who had to stay behind for medical reasons. While she did file for divorce from respondent Crasus, she denied having herself sent a letter to respondent Crasus requesting him to sign the enclosed divorce papers. After securing a divorce from respondent Crasus, Fely married her American husband and acquired American citizenship. She argued that her marriage to her American husband was legal because now being an American citizen, her status shall be governed by the law of her present nationality. Fely also pointed out that respondent Crasus himself was presently living with another woman who bore him a child. She also accused respondent Crasus of misusing the amount of P90,000.00 which she advanced to him to finance the brain operation of their son, Calvert. On the basis of the foregoing, Fely also prayed that the RTC declare her marriage to respondent Crasus null and void; and that respondent Crasus be ordered to pay to Fely the P90,000.00 she advanced to him, with interest, plus, moral and exemplary damages, attorneys fees, and litigation expenses. After respondent Crasus and Fely had filed their respective Pre-Trial Briefs, the RTC afforded both parties the opportunity to 6 present their evidence. Petitioner Republic participated in the trial through the Provincial Prosecutor of Cebu. Respondent Crasus submitted the following pieces of evidence in support of his Complaint: (1) his own testimony on 08 September 7 1997, in which he essentially reiterated the allegations in his Complaint; (2) the Certification, dated 13 April 1989, by the Health Department of Cebu City, on the recording of the Marriage Contract between respondent Crasus and Fely in the Register of Deeds, 8 such marriage celebration taking place on 16 December 1961; and (3) the invitation to the wedding of Crasus, Jr., their eldest son, 9 wherein Fely openly used her American husbands surname, Micklus.
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Felys counsel filed a Notice, and, later on, a Motion, to take the deposition of witnesses, namely, Fely and her children, Crasus, Jr. and Daphne, upon written interrogatories, before the consular officers of the Philippines in New York and California, U.S.A, where 12 13 the said witnesses reside. Despite the Orders and Commissions issued by the RTC to the Philippine Consuls of New York and California, U.S.A., to take the depositions of the witnesses upon written interrogatories, not a single deposition was ever submitted to the RTC. Taking into account that it had been over a year since respondent Crasus had presented his evidence and that Fely failed 14 to exert effort to have the case progress, the RTC issued an Order, dated 05 October 1998, considering Fely to have waived her right to present her evidence. The case was thus deemed submitted for decision. Not long after, on 30 October 1998, the RTC promulgated its Judgment declaring the marriage of respondent Crasus and Fely null and void ab initio, on the basis of the following findings The ground bearing defendants psychological incapacity deserves a reasonable consideration. As observed, plaintiffs testimo ny is decidedly credible. The Court finds that defendant had indeed exhibited unmistakable signs of psychological incapacity to comply with her marital duties such as striving for family unity, observing fidelity, mutual love, respect, help and support. From the evidence presented, plaintiff adequately established that the defendant practically abandoned him. She obtained a divorce decree in the United States of America and married another man and has establish [sic] another family of her own. Plaintiff is in an anomalous situation, wherein he is married to a wife who is already married to another man in another country. Defendants intolerable traits may not have been apparent or manifest before the marriage, the FAMILY CODE nonetheless allows the annulment of the marriage provided that these were eventually manifested after the wedding. It appears to be the case in this instance. Certainly defendants posture being an irresponsible wife erringly reveals her very low regard for that sacred and inviolable institution of marriage which is the foundation of human society throughout the civilized world. It is quite evident that the defendant is bereft of the mind, will and heart to comply with her marital obligations, such incapacity was already there at the time of the marriage in question is shown by defendants own attitude towards her marriage to plaintiff. In sum, the ground invoked by plaintiff which is defendants psychological incapacity to comply with the essential marital ob ligations which already existed at the time of the marriage in question has been satisfactorily proven. The evidence in herein case establishes the irresponsibility of defendant Fely Ada Rosal Iyoy, firmly. Going over plaintiffs testimony which is decidedly credible, the Court finds that the defe ndant had indeed exhibited unmistakable signs of such psychological incapacity to comply with her marital obligations. These are her excessive disposition to material things over and above the marital stability. That such incapacity was already there at the time of the marriage in question is shown by defendants own attitude towards her marriage to plaintiff. And for these reasons there is a legal ground to declare the marr iage of 15 plaintiff Crasus L. Iyoy and defendant Fely Ada Rosal Iyoy null and void ab initio. Petitioner Republic, believing that the afore-quoted Judgment of the RTC was contrary to law and evidence, filed an appeal with the Court of Appeals. The appellate court, though, in its Decision, dated 30 July 2001, affirmed the appealed Judgment of the RTC, finding no reversible error therein. It even offered additional ratiocination for declaring the marriage between respondent Crasus and Fely null and void, to wit Defendant secured a divorce from plaintiff-appellee abroad, has remarried, and is now permanently residing in the United States. Plaintiff-appellee categorically stated this as one of his reasons for seeking the declaration of nullity of t heir marriage Article 26 of the Family Code provides: "Art. 26. All marriages solemnized outside the Philippines in accordance with the laws in force in the country where they were solemnized, and valid there as such, shall also be valid in this country, except those prohibited under Articles 35(1), (4), (5) and (6), 36, 37 and 38. "WHERE A MARRIAGE BETWEEN A FILIPINO CITIZEN AND A FOREIGNER IS VALIDLY CELEBRATED AND A DIVORCE IS THEREAFTER VALIDLY OBTAINED ABROAD BY THE ALIEN SPOUSE CAPACITATING HIM OR HER TO REMARRY, THE FILIPINO SPOUSE SHALL LIKEWISE HAVE CAPACITY TO REMARRY UNDER PHILIPPINE LAW." The rationale behind the second paragraph of the above-quoted provision is to avoid the absurd and unjust situation of a Filipino citizen still being married to his or her alien spouse, although the latter is no longer married to the Filipino spouse because he or she has obtained a divorce abroad. In the case at bench, the defendant has undoubtedly acquired her American husbands citizenshi p and thus has become an alien as well. This Court cannot see why the benefits of Art. 26 aforequoted can not be extended to a Filipino citizen whose spouse eventually embraces another citizenship and thus becomes herself an alien. It would be the height of unfairness if, under these circumstances, plaintiff would still be considered as married to defendant, given her total incapacity to honor her marital covenants to the former. To condemn plaintiff to remain shackled in a marriage that in truth and in fact does not exist and to remain married to a spouse who is incapacitated to discharge essential marital covenants, is verily to condemn him to a perpetual disadvantage which this Court finds abhorrent and will not countenance. Justice dictates that 16 plaintiff be given relief by affirming the trial courts declaration of the nullity of the marriage of the parties.

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After the Court of Appeals, in a Resolution, dated 08 March 2002, denied its Motion for Reconsideration, petitioner Republic filed the instant Petition before this Court, based on the following arguments/grounds I. Abandonment by and sexual infidelity of respondents wife do not per se constitute psychological incapacity. II. The Court of Appeals has decided questions of substance not in accord with law and jurisprudence considering that the Court of 18 Appeals committed serious errors of law in ruling that Article 26, paragraph 2 of the Family Code is inapplicable to the case at bar. In his Comment to the Petition, respondent Crasus maintained that Felys psychological incapacity was clearly established after a full-blown trial, and that paragraph 2 of Article 26 of the Family Code of the Philippines was indeed applicable to the marriage of respondent Crasus and Fely, because the latter had already become an American citizen. He further questioned the personality of petitioner Republic, represented by the Office of the Solicitor General, to institute the instant Petition, because Article 48 of the Family Code of the Philippines authorizes the prosecuting attorney or fiscal assigned to the trial court, not the Solicitor General, to intervene on behalf of the State, in proceedings for annulment and declaration of nullity of marriages. After having reviewed the records of this case and the applicable laws and jurisprudence, this Court finds the instant Petition to be meritorious. I The totality of evidence presented during trial is insufficient to support the finding of psychological incapacity of Fely. Article 36, concededly one of the more controversial provisions of the Family Code of the Philippines, reads ART. 36. A marriage contracted by any party who, at the time of the celebration, was psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential marital obligations of marriage, shall likewise be void even if such incapacity becomes manifest only after its solemnization. Issues most commonly arise as to what constitutes psychological incapacity. In a series of cases, this Court laid down guidelines for determining its existence. In Santos v. Court of Appeals, the term psychological incapacity was defined, thus ". . . [P]sychological incapacity" should refer to no less than a mental (not physical) incapacity that causes a party to be truly cognitive of the basic marital covenants that concomitantly must be assumed and discharged by the parties to the marriage which, as so expressed by Article 68 of the Family Code, include their mutual obligations to live together, observe love, respect and fidelity and render help and support. There is hardly any doubt that the intendment of the law has been to confine the meaning of "psychological incapacity" to the most serious cases of personality disorders clearly demonstrative of an utter insensitivity or inability to give meaning and significance to the marriage. This psychological condition must exist at the time the marriage is 21 celebrated The psychological incapacity must be characterized by (a) Gravity It must be grave or serious such that the party would be incapable of carrying out the ordinary duties required in a marriage; (b) Juridical Antecedence It must be rooted in the history of the party antedating the marriage, although the overt manifestations may emerge only after the marriage; and (c) Incurability It must be incurable or, even if it were otherwise, the cure would be beyond the means of the party involved.
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More definitive guidelines in the interpretation and application of Article 36 of the Family Code of the Philippines were handed 23 down by this Court in Republic v. Court of Appeals and Molina, which, although quite lengthy, by its significance, deserves to be reproduced below (1) The burden of proof to show the nullity of the marriage belongs to the plaintiff. Any doubt should be resolved in favor of the existence and continuation of the marriage and against its dissolution and nullity. This is rooted in the fact that both our Constitution and our laws cherish the validity of marriage and unity of the family. Thus, our Constitution devotes an entire Article on the Family, recognizing it "as the foundation of the nation." It decrees marriage as legally "inviolable," thereby protecting it from dissolution at the whim of the parties. Both the family and marriage are to be "protected" by the state. The Family Code echoes this constitutional edict on marriage and the family and emphasizes their permanence, inviolability and solidarity. (2) The root cause of the psychological incapacity must be (a) medically or clinically identified, (b) alleged in the complaint, (c) sufficiently proven by experts and (d) clearly explained in the decision. Article 36 of the Family Code requires that the incapacity must be psychological - not physical, although its manifestations and/or symptoms may be physical. The evidence must convince the court that the parties, or one of them, was mentally or psychically ill to such an extent that the person could not have known the obligations he was assuming, or knowing them, could not have given valid assumption thereof. Although no example of such incapacity need be given here so as not to limit the application of the provision under the principle of ejusdem generis, nevertheless such root cause must be identified as a psychological illness and its incapacitating nature fully explained. Expert evidence may be given by qualified psychiatrists and clinical psychologists.

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(3) The incapacity must be proven to be existing at "the time of the celebration" of the marriage. The evidence must show that the illness was existing when the parties exchanged their "I do's." The manifestation of the illness need not be perceivable at such time, but the illness itself must have attached at such moment, or prior thereto. (4) Such incapacity must also be shown to be medically or clinically permanent or incurable. Such incurability may be absolute or even relative only in regard to the other spouse, not necessarily absolutely against everyone of the same sex. Furthermore, such incapacity must be relevant to the assumption of marriage obligations, not necessarily to those not related to marriage, like the exercise of a profession or employment in a job (5) Such illness must be grave enough to bring about the disability of the party to assume the essential obligations of marriage. Thus, "mild characteriological peculiarities, mood changes, occasional emotional outbursts" cannot be accepted as root causes. The illness must be shown as downright incapacity or inability, not a refusal, neglect or difficulty, much less ill will. In other words, there is a natal or supervening disabling factor in the person, an adverse integral element in the personality structure that effectively incapacitates the person from really accepting and thereby complying with the obligations essential to marriage. (6) The essential marital obligations must be those embraced by Articles 68 up to 71 of the Family Code as regards the husband and wife as well as Articles 220, 221 and 225 of the same Code in regard to parents and their children. Such non-complied marital obligation(s) must also be stated in the petition, proven by evidence and included in the text of the decision. (7) Interpretations given by the National Appellate Matrimonial Tribunal of the Catholic Church in the Philippines, while not controlling or decisive, should be given great respect by our courts (8) The trial court must order the prosecuting attorney or fiscal and the Solicitor General to appear as counsel for the state. No decision shall be handed down unless the Solicitor General issues a certification, which will be quoted in the decision, briefly stating therein his reasons for his agreement or opposition, as the case may be, to the petition. The Solicitor General, along with the prosecuting attorney, shall submit to the court such certification within fifteen (15) days from the date the case is deemed submitted for resolution of the court. The Solicitor General shall discharge the equivalent function of the defensor 24 vinculi contemplated under Canon 1095. A later case, Marcos v. Marcos, further clarified that there is no requirement that the defendant/respondent spouse should be personally examined by a physician or psychologist as a condition sine qua non for the declaration of nullity of marriage based on psychological incapacity. Such psychological incapacity, however, must be established by the totality of the evidence presented during the trial. Using the guidelines established by the afore-mentioned jurisprudence, this Court finds that the totality of evidence presented by respondent Crasus failed miserably to establish the alleged psychological incapacity of his wife Fely; therefore, there is no basis for declaring their marriage null and void under Article 36 of the Family Code of the Philippines. The only substantial evidence presented by respondent Crasus before the RTC was his testimony, which can be easily put into question for being self-serving, in the absence of any other corroborating evidence. He submitted only two other pieces of evidence: (1) the Certification on the recording with the Register of Deeds of the Marriage Contract between respondent Crasus and Fely, such marriage being celebrated on 16 December 1961; and (2) the invitation to the wedding of Crasus, Jr., their eldest son, in which Fely used her American husbands surname. Even considering the admissions made by Fely herself in her Answer to respondent Crasus s Complaint filed with the RTC, the evidence is not enough to convince this Court that Fely had such a grave mental illness that prevented her from assuming the essential obligations of marriage. It is worthy to emphasize that Article 36 of the Family Code of the Philippines contemplates downright incapacity or inability to take cognizance of and to assume the basic marital obligations; not a mere refusal, neglect or difficulty, much less, ill will, on the part of 26 the errant spouse. Irreconcilable differences, conflicting personalities, emotional immaturity and irresponsibility, physical abuse, habitual alcoholism, sexual infidelity or perversion, and abandonment, by themselves, also do not warrant a finding of psychological 27 incapacity under the said Article. As has already been stressed by this Court in previous cases, Article 36 "is not to be confused with a divorce law that cuts the marital bond at the time the causes therefore manifest themselves. It refers to a serious psychological illness afflicting a party even before the celebration of marriage. It is a malady so grave and so permanent as to deprive one of awareness of the duties and 28 responsibilities of the matrimonial bond one is about to assume." The evidence may have proven that Fely committed acts that hurt and embarrassed respondent Crasus and the rest of the family. Her hot-temper, nagging, and extravagance; her abandonment of respondent Crasus; her marriage to an American; and even her flaunting of her American family and her American surname, may indeed be manifestations of her alleged incapacity to comply with her marital obligations; nonetheless, the root cause for such was not identified. If the root cause of the incapacity was not identified, then it cannot be satisfactorily established as a psychological or mental defect that is serious or grave; neither could it be proven to be in existence at the time of celebration of the marriage; nor that it is incurable. While the personal examination of Fely by a psychiatrist or psychologist is no longer mandatory for the declaration of nullity of their marriage under Article 36 of the Family Code 29 of the Philippines, by virtue of this Courts ruling in Marcos v. Marcos, respondent Crasus must still have complied with the 30 requirement laid down in Republic v. Court of Appeals and Molina that the root cause of the incapacity be identified as a psychological illness and that its incapacitating nature be fully explained.
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In any case, any doubt shall be resolved in favor of the validity of the marriage. No less than the Constitution of 1987 sets the 32 policy to protect and strengthen the family as the basic social institution and marriage as the foundation of the family. II Article 26, paragraph 2 of the Family Code of the Philippines is not applicable to the case at bar. According to Article 26, paragraph 2 of the Family Code of the Philippines Where a marriage between a Filipino citizen and a foreigner is validly celebrated and a divorce is thereafter validly obtained abroad by the alien spouse capacitating him or her to remarry, the Filipino spouse shall likewise have capacity to remarry under Philippine law. As it is worded, Article 26, paragraph 2, refers to a special situation wherein one of the couple getting married is a Filipino citizen and the other a foreigner at the time the marriage was celebrated. By its plain and literal interpretation, the said provision cannot be applied to the case of respondent Crasus and his wife Fely because at the time Fely obtained her divorce, she was still a Filipino citizen. Although the exact date was not established, Fely herself admitted in her Answer filed before the RTC that she obtained a divorce from respondent Crasus sometime after she left for the United States in 1984, after which she married her American husband in 1985. In the same Answer, she alleged that she had been an American citizen since 1988. At the time she filed for divorce, Fely was still a Filipino citizen, and pursuant to the nationality principle embodied in Article 15 of the Civil Code of the Philippines, she was still bound by Philippine laws on family rights and duties, status, condition, and legal capacity, even when she was already living abroad. Philippine laws, then and even until now, do not allow and recognize divorce between Filipino spouses. Thus, Fely could not have validly obtained a divorce from respondent Crasus. III The Solicitor General is authorized to intervene, on behalf of the Republic, in proceedings for annulment and declaration of nullity of marriages. Invoking Article 48 of the Family Code of the Philippines, respondent Crasus argued that only the prosecuting attorney or fiscal assigned to the RTC may intervene on behalf of the State in proceedings for annulment or declaration of nullity of marriages; hence, the Office of the Solicitor General had no personality to file the instant Petition on behalf of the State. Article 48 provides ART. 48. In all cases of annulment or declaration of absolute nullity of marriage, the Court shall order the prosecuting attorney or fiscal assigned to it to appear on behalf of the State to take steps to prevent collusion between the parties and to take care that the evidence is not fabricated or suppressed. That Article 48 does not expressly mention the Solicitor General does not bar him or his Office from intervening in proceedings for annulment or declaration of nullity of marriages. Executive Order No. 292, otherwise known as the Administrative Code of 1987, 33 appoints the Solicitor General as the principal law officer and legal defender of the Government. His Office is tasked to represent the Government of the Philippines, its agencies and instrumentalities and its officials and agents in any litigation, proceeding, investigation or matter requiring the services of lawyers. The Office of the Solicitor General shall constitute the law office of the 34 Government and, as such, shall discharge duties requiring the services of lawyers. The intent of Article 48 of the Family Code of the Philippines is to ensure that the interest of the State is represented and protected in proceedings for annulment and declaration of nullity of marriages by preventing collusion between the parties, or the fabrication or suppression of evidence; and, bearing in mind that the Solicitor General is the principal law officer and legal defender of the land, then his intervention in such proceedings could only serve and contribute to the realization of such intent, rather than thwart it. Furthermore, the general rule is that only the Solicitor General is authorized to bring or defend actions on behalf of the People or 35 the Republic of the Philippines once the case is brought before this Court or the Court of Appeals. While it is the prosecuting attorney or fiscal who actively participates, on behalf of the State, in a proceeding for annulment or declaration of nullity of marriage before the RTC, the Office of the Solicitor General takes over when the case is elevated to the Court of Appeals or this Court. Since it shall be eventually responsible for taking the case to the appellate courts when circumstances demand, then it is only reasonable and practical that even while the proceeding is still being held before the RTC, the Office of the Solicitor General can already exercise supervision and control over the conduct of the prosecuting attorney or fiscal therein to better guarantee the protection of the interests of the State. In fact, this Court had already recognized and affirmed the role of the Solicitor General in several cases for annulment and 36 declaration of nullity of marriages that were appealed before it, summarized as follows in the case of Ancheta v. Ancheta In the case of Republic v. Court of Appeals [268 SCRA 198 (1997)], this Court laid down the guidelines in the interpretation and application of Art. 48 of the Family Code, one of which concerns the role of the prosecuting attorney or fiscal and the Solicitor General to appear as counsel for the State: (8) The trial court must order the prosecuting attorney or fiscal and the Solicitor General to appear as counsel for the state. No decision shall be handed down unless the Solicitor General issues a certification, which will be quoted in the decision, briefly stating therein his reasons for his agreement or opposition, as the case may be, to the petition. The Solicitor General, along with the prosecuting attorney, shall submit to the court such certification within fifteen (15) days from the date the case is deemed

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submitted for resolution of the court. The Solicitor General shall discharge the equivalent function of the defensor vinculi contemplated under Canon 1095. [Id., at 213] This Court in the case of Malcampo-Sin v. Sin [355 SCRA 285 (2001)] reiterated its pronouncement in Republic v. Court of Appeals [Supra.] regarding the role of the prosecuting attorney or fiscal and the Solicitor General to appear as counsel for the 37 State Finally, the issuance of this Court of the Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages and Annulment of Voidable 38 Marriages, which became effective on 15 March 2003, should dispel any other doubts of respondent Crasus as to the authority of the Solicitor General to file the instant Petition on behalf of the State. The Rule recognizes the authority of the Solicitor General to intervene and take part in the proceedings for annulment and declaration of nullity of marriages before the RTC and on appeal to higher courts. The pertinent provisions of the said Rule are reproduced below Sec. 5. Contents and form of petition. (4) It shall be filed in six copies. The petitioner shall serve a copy of the petition on the Office of the Solicitor General and the Office of the City or Provincial Prosecutor, within five days from the date of its filing and submit to the court proof of such service within the same period. Sec. 18. Memoranda. The court may require the parties and the public prosecutor, in consultation with the Office of the Solicitor General, to file their respective memoranda in support of their claims within fifteen days from the date the trial is terminated. It may require the Office of the Solicitor General to file its own memorandum if the case is of significant interest to the State. No other pleadings or papers may be submitted without leave of court. After the lapse of the period herein provided, the case will be considered submitted for decision, with or without the memoranda. Sec. 19. Decision. (2) The parties, including the Solicitor General and the public prosecutor, shall be served with copies of the decision personally or by registered mail. If the respondent summoned by publication failed to appear in the action, the dispositive part of the decision shall be published once in a newspaper of general circulation. (3) The decision becomes final upon the expiration of fifteen days from notice to the parties. Entry of judgment shall be made if no motion for reconsideration or new trial, or appeal is filed by any of the parties, the public prosecutor, or the Solicitor General. Sec. 20. Appeal. (2) Notice of Appeal. An aggrieved party or the Solicitor General may appeal from the decision by filing a Notice of Appeal within fifteen days from notice of denial of the motion for reconsideration or new trial. The appellant shall serve a copy of the notice of appeal on the adverse parties. Given the foregoing, this Court arrives at a conclusion contrary to those of the RTC and the Court of Appeals, and sustains the validity and existence of the marriage between respondent Crasus and Fely. At most, Felys abandonment, sexual infidelity, an d bigamy, give respondent Crasus grounds to file for legal separation under Article 55 of the Family Code of the Philippines, but not for declaration of nullity of marriage under Article 36 of the same Code. While this Court commiserates with respondent Crasus for being continuously shackled to what is now a hopeless and loveless marriage, this is one of those situations where neither law nor 39 society can provide the specific answer to every individual problem. WHEREFORE, the Petition is GRANTED and the assailed Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 62539, dated 30 July 2001, affirming the Judgment of the RTC of Cebu City, Branch 22, in Civil Case No. CEB-20077, dated 30 October 1998, is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The marriage of respondent Crasus L. Iyoy and Fely Ada Rosal-Iyoy remains valid and subsisting. SO ORDERED.

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G.R. No. 145226

February 06, 2004

LUCIO MORIGO y CACHO, petitioner, vs. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondent.

DECISION

QUISUMBING, J.: This petition for review on certiorari seeks to reverse the decision1 dated October 21, 1999 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 20700, which affirmed the judgment2 dated August 5, 1996 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Bohol, Branch 4, in Criminal Case No. 8688. The trial court found herein petitioner Lucio Morigo y Cacho guilty beyond reasonable doubt of bigamy and sentenced him to a prison term of seven (7) months of prision correccional as minimum to six (6) years and one (1) day of prision mayor as maximum. Also assailed in this petition is the resolution3 of the appellate court, dated September 25, 2000, denying Morigos motion for reconsideration. The facts of this case, as found by the court a quo, are as follows: Appellant Lucio Morigo and Lucia Barrete were boardmates at the house of Catalina Tortor at Tagbilaran City, Province of Bohol, for a period of four (4) years (from 1974-1978). After school year 1977-78, Lucio Morigo and Lucia Barrete lost contact with each other. In 1984, Lucio Morigo was surprised to receive a card from Lucia Barrete from Singapore. The former replied and after an exchange of letters, they became sweethearts. In 1986, Lucia returned to the Philippines but left again for Canada to work there. While in Canada, they maintained constant communication. In 1990, Lucia came back to the Philippines and proposed to petition appellant to join her in Canada. Both agreed to get married, thus they were married on August 30, 1990 at the Iglesia de Filipina Nacional at Catagdaan, Pilar, Bohol. On September 8, 1990, Lucia reported back to her work in Canada leaving appellant Lucio behind. On August 19, 1991, Lucia filed with the Ontario Court (General Division) a petition for divorce against appellant which was granted by the court on January 17, 1992 and to take effect on February 17, 1992. On October 4, 1992, appellant Lucio Morigo married Maria Jececha Lumbago4 at the Virgen sa Barangay Parish, Tagbilaran City, Bohol. On September 21, 1993, accused filed a complaint for judicial declaration of nullity of marriage in the Regional Trial Court of Bohol, docketed as Civil Case No. 6020. The complaint seek (sic) among others, the declaration of nullity of accuseds marriage with Lucia, on the ground that no marriage ceremony actually took place. On October 19, 1993, appellant was charged with Bigamy in an Information 5 filed by the City Prosecutor of Tagbilaran [City], with the Regional Trial Court of Bohol.6 The petitioner moved for suspension of the arraignment on the ground that the civil case for judicial nullification of his marriage with Lucia posed a prejudicial question in the bigamy case. His motion was granted, but subsequently denied upon motion for reconsideration by the prosecution. When arraigned in the bigamy case, which was docketed as Criminal Case No. 8688, herein petitioner pleaded not guilty to the charge. Trial thereafter ensued. On August 5, 1996, the RTC of Bohol handed down its judgment in Criminal Case No. 8688, as follows: WHEREFORE, foregoing premises considered, the Court finds accused Lucio Morigo y Cacho guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Bigamy and sentences him to suffer the penalty of imprisonment ranging from Seven (7) Months of Prision Correccional as minimum to Six (6) Years and One (1) Day of Prision Mayor as maximum. SO ORDERED.7 In convicting herein petitioner, the trial court discounted petitioners claim that his first marriage to Lucia was null and void ab initio. Following Domingo v. Court of Appeals,8 the trial court ruled that want of a valid marriage ceremony is not a defense in a charge of bigamy. The parties to a marriage should not be allowed to assume that their marriage is void even if such be the fact but must first secure a judicial declaration of the nullity of their marriage before they can be allowed to marry again. Anent the Canadian divorce obtained by Lucia, the trial court cited Ramirez v. Gmur,9 which held that the court of a country in which neither of the spouses is domiciled and in which one or both spouses may resort merely for the purpose of obtaining a divorce, has no jurisdiction to determine the matrimonial status of the parties. As such, a divorce granted by said court is not entitled to recognition anywhere. Debunking Lucios defense of good faith in contracting the second marriage, the trial court stressed that following People v. Bitdu,10 everyone is presumed to know the law, and the fact that one does not know that his act constitutes a violation of the law does not exempt him from the consequences thereof. Seasonably, petitioner filed an appeal with the Court of Appeals, docketed as CA-G.R. CR No. 20700.

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Meanwhile, on October 23, 1997, or while CA-G.R. CR No. 20700 was pending before the appellate court, the trial court rendered a decision in Civil Case No. 6020 declaring the marriage between Lucio and Lucia void ab initiosince no marriage ceremony actually took place. No appeal was taken from this decision, which then became final and executory. On October 21, 1999, the appellate court decided CA-G.R. CR No. 20700 as follows: WHEREFORE, finding no error in the appealed decision, the same is hereby AFFIRMED in toto. SO ORDERED.11 In affirming the assailed judgment of conviction, the appellate court stressed th at the subsequent declaration of nullity of Lucios marriage to Lucia in Civil Case No. 6020 could not acquit Lucio. The reason is that what is sought to be punished by Article 349 12 of the Revised Penal Code is the act of contracting a second marriage before the first marriage had been dissolved. Hence, the CA held, the fact that the first marriage was void from the beginning is not a valid defense in a bigamy case. The Court of Appeals also pointed out that the divorce decree obtained by Lucia from the Canadian court could not be accorded validity in the Philippines, pursuant to Article 1513 of the Civil Code and given the fact that it is contrary to public policy in this jurisdiction. Under Article 1714 of the Civil Code, a declaration of public policy cannot be rendered ineffectual by a judgment promulgated in a foreign jurisdiction. Petitioner moved for reconsideration of the appellate courts decision, contending that the doctrine in Mendiola v. People,15 allows mistake upon a difficult question of law (such as the effect of a foreign divorce decree) to be a basis for good faith. On September 25, 2000, the appellate court denied the motion for lack of merit.16 However, the denial was by a split vote. The ponente of the appellate courts original decision in CA-G.R. CR No. 20700, Justice Eugenio S. Labitoria, joined in the opinion prepared by Justice Bernardo P. Abesamis. The dissent observed that as the first marriage was validly declared void ab initio, then there was no first marriage to speak of. Since the date of the nullity retroacts to the date of the first marriage and since herein petitioner was, in the eyes of the law, never married, he cannot be convicted beyond reasonable doubt of bigamy. The present petition raises the following issues for our resolution: A. WHETHER OR NOT THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN FAILING TO APPLY THE RULE THAT IN CRIMES PENALIZED UNDER THE REVISED PENAL CODE, CRIMINAL INTENT IS AN INDISPENSABLE REQUISITE. COROLLARILY, WHETHER OR NOT THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN FAILING TO APPRECIATE *THE+ PETITIONERS LACK OF CRIMINAL INTENT WHEN HE CONTRACTED THE SECOND MARRIAGE. B. WHETHER OR NOT THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN HOLDING THAT THE RULING IN PEOPLE VS. BITDU (58 PHIL. 817) IS APPLICABLE TO THE CASE AT BAR. C. WHETHER OR NOT THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN FAILING TO APPLY THE RULE THAT EACH AND EVERY CIRCUMSTANCE FAVORING THE INNOCENCE OF THE ACCUSED MUST BE TAKEN INTO ACCOUNT.17 To our mind, the primordial issue should be whether or not petitioner committed bigamy and if so, whether his defense of good faith is valid. The petitioner submits that he should not be faulted for relying in good faith upon the divorce decree of the Ontario court. He highlights the fact that he contracted the second marriage openly and publicly, which a person intent upon bigamy would not be doing. The petitioner further argues that his lack of criminal intent is material to a conviction or acquittal in the instant case. The crime of bigamy, just like other felonies punished under the Revised Penal Code, is mala in se, and hence, good faith and lack of criminal intent are allowed as a complete defense. He stresses that there is a difference between the intent to commit the crime and the intent to perpetrate the act. Hence, it does not necessarily follow that his intention to contract a second marriage is tantamount to an intent to commit bigamy. For the respondent, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) submits that good faith in the instant case is a convenient but flimsy excuse. The Solicitor General relies upon our ruling in Marbella-Bobis v. Bobis,18 which held that bigamy can be successfully prosecuted provided all the elements concur, stressing that under Article 4019 of the Family Code, a judicial declaration of nullity is a must before a party may remarry. Whether or not the petitioner was aware of said Article 40 is of no account as everyone is presumed to know the law. The OSG counters that petitioners contention that he was in good faith because he relied on the divorce decree of the Ontario court is negated by his act of filing Civil Case No. 6020, seeking a judicial declaration of nullity of his marriage to Lucia. Before we delve into petitioners defense of good faith and lack of criminal intent, we must first determine whether all the elements of bigamy are present in this case. In Marbella-Bobis v. Bobis,20 we laid down the elements of bigamy thus: (1) the offender has been legally married; (2) the first marriage has not been legally dissolved, or in case his or her spouse is absent, the absent spouse has not been judicially declared presumptively dead; (3) he contracts a subsequent marriage; and (4) the subsequent marriage would have been valid had it not been for the existence of the first.

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Applying the foregoing test to the instant case, we note that during the pendency of CA-G.R. CR No. 20700, the RTC of Bohol Branch 1, handed down the following decision in Civil Case No. 6020, to wit: WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered decreeing the annulment of the marriage entered into by petitioner Lucio Morigo and Lucia Barrete on August 23, 1990 in Pilar, Bohol and further directing the Local Civil Registrar of Pilar, Bohol to effect the cancellation of the marriage contract. SO ORDERED.21 The trial court found that there was no actual marriage ceremony performed between Lucio and Lucia by a solemnizing officer. Instead, what transpired was a mere signing of the marriage contract by the two, without the presence of a solemnizing officer. The trial court thus held that the marriage is void ab initio, in accordance with Articles 322 and 423 of the Family Code. As the dissenting opinion in CA-G.R. CR No. 20700, correctly puts it, "This simply means that there was no marriage to begin with; and that such declaration of nullity retroacts to the date of the first marriage. In other words, for all intents and purposes, reckoned from the date of the declaration of the first marriage as void ab initio to the date of the celebration of the first marriage, the accused was, under the eyes of the law, never married."24 The records show that no appeal was taken from the decision of the trial court in Civil Case No. 6020, hence, the decision had long become final and executory. The first element of bigamy as a crime requires that the accused must have been legally married. But in this case, legally speaking, the petitioner was never married to Lucia Barrete. Thus, there is no first marriage to speak of. Under the principle of retroactivity of a marriage being declared void ab initio, the two were never married "from the beginning." The contract of marriage is null; it bears no legal effect. Taking this argument to its logical conclusion, for legal purposes, petitioner was not married to Lucia at the time he contracted the marriage with Maria Jececha. The existence and the validity of the first marriage being an essential element of the crime of bigamy, it is but logical that a conviction for said offense cannot be sustained where there is no first marriage to speak of. The petitioner, must, perforce be acquitted of the instant charge. The present case is analogous to, but must be distinguished from Mercado v. Tan.25 In the latter case, the judicial declaration of nullity of the first marriage was likewise obtained after the second marriage was already celebrated. We held therein that: A judicial declaration of nullity of a previous marriage is necessary before a subsequent one can be legally contracted. One who enters into a subsequent marriage without first obtaining such judicial declaration is guilty of bigamy. This principle applies even if the earlier union is characterized by statutes as "void."26 It bears stressing though that in Mercado, the first marriage was actually solemnized not just once, but twice: first before a judge where a marriage certificate was duly issued and then again six months later before a priest in religious rites. Ostensibly, at least, the first marriage appeared to have transpired, although later declared void ab initio. In the instant case, however, no marriage ceremony at all was performed by a duly authorized solemnizing officer. Petitioner and Lucia Barrete merely signed a marriage contract on their own. The mere private act of signing a marriage contract bears no semblance to a valid marriage and thus, needs no judicial declaration of nullity. Such act alone, without more, cannot be deemed to constitute an ostensibly valid marriage for which petitioner might be held liable for bigamy unless he first secures a judicial declaration of nullity before he contracts a subsequent marriage. The law abhors an injustice and the Court is mandated to liberally construe a penal statute in favor of an accused and weigh every circumstance in favor of the presumption of innocence to ensure that justice is done. Under the circumstances of the present case, we held that petitioner has not committed bigamy. Further, we also find that we need not tarry on the issue of the validity of his defense of good faith or lack of criminal intent, which is now moot and academic. WHEREFORE, the instant petition is GRANTED. The assailed decision, dated October 21, 1999 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 20700, as well as the resolution of the appellate court dated September 25, 2000, denying herein petitioners motion for reconsideration , is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The petitioner Lucio Morigo y Cacho is ACQUITTED from the charge of BIGAMY on the ground that his guilt has not been proven with moral certainty. SO ORDERED.

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G.R. No. 161793

February 13, 2009

EDWARD KENNETH NGO TE, Petitioner, vs. ROWENA ONG GUTIERREZ YU-TE, Respondent, REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, Oppositor. DECISION NACHURA, J.: Far from novel is the issue involved in this petition. Psychological incapacity, since its incorporation in our laws, has become a clichd subject of discussion in our jurisprudence. The Court treats this case, however, with much ado, it having realized that current jurisprudential doctrine has unnecessarily imposed a perspective by which psychological incapacity should be viewed, totally inconsistent with the way the concept was formulatedfree in form and devoid of any definition. For the resolution of the Court is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court assailing the August 5, 2003 Decision of the 2 Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CV No. 71867. The petition further assails the January 19, 2004 Resolution denying the motion for the reconsideration of the challenged decision. The relevant facts and proceedings follow. Petitioner Edward Kenneth Ngo Te first got a glimpse of respondent Rowena Ong Gutierrez Yu-Te in a gathering organized by the Filipino-Chinese association in their college. Edward was then initially attracted to Rowenas close friend; but, as the latter already had a boyfriend, the young man 3 decided to court Rowena. That was in January 1996, when petitioner was a sophomore student and respondent, a freshman. Sharing similar angst towards their families, the two understood one another and developed a certain degree of closeness towards each other. In March 1996, or around three months after their first meeting, Rowena asked Edward that they elope. At first, he refused, bickering that he was young and jobless. Her persistence, however, made him relent. Thus, they left Manila and sailed to Cebu that month; he, providing their travel 4 money and she, purchasing the boat ticket. However, Edwards P80,000.00 lasted for only a month. Their pension house accommodation and daily sustenance fast depleted it. And they could not find a job. In April 1996, they decided to go back to Manila. Rowena proceeded to her uncles house and Edward to his parents home. As h is family was abroad, and Rowena kept on telephoning him, threatening him that she would commit suicide, Edward agreed to stay with Rowena at 5 her uncles place. On April 23, 1996, Rowenas uncle brought the two to a court to get married. He was then 25 years old, and she, 20. The two then continued to stay at her uncles place where Edward was treated like a prisonerhe was not allowed to go out unaccompanied. Her uncle also showed Edward 7 his guns and warned the latter not to leave Rowena. At one point, Edward was able to call home and talk to his brother who suggested that they should stay at their parents home and live with them. Edward relayed this to Rowena who, however, suggested that he should get his inheritance so that they could live on their own. Edward talked to his father about this, but the patriarch got mad, told Edward that he would be disinherited, 8 and insisted that Edward must go home. After a month, Edward escaped from the house of Rowenas uncle, and stayed with his parents. His family then hid him from Rowena and her 9 family whenever they telephoned to ask for him. In June 1996, Edward was able to talk to Rowena. Unmoved by his persistence that they should live with his parents, she said that it was better for 10 them to live separate lives. They then parted ways. After almost four years, or on January 18, 2000, Edward filed a petition before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Quezon City, Branch 106, for the 11 annulment of his marriage to Rowena on the basis of the latters psychological incapacity. This was docketed as Civil Case No . Q-00-39720. As Rowena did not file an answer, the trial court, on July 11, 2000, ordered the Office of the City Prosecutor (OCP) of Quezon City to investigate 12 whether there was collusion between the parties. In the meantime, on July 27, 2000, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) entered its 13 appearance and deputized the OCP to appear on its behalf and assist it in the scheduled hearings. On August 23, 2000, the OCP submitted an investigation report stating that it could not determine if there was collusion between the parties; thus, 14 it recommended trial on the merits. The clinical psychologist who examined petitioner found both parties psychologically incapacitated, and made the following findings and conclusions: BACKGROUND DATA & BRIEF MARITAL HISTORY: EDWARD KENNETH NGO TE is a [29-year-old] Filipino male adult born and baptized Born Again Christian at Manila. He finished two years in college at AMA Computer College last 1994 and is currently unemployed. He is married to and separated from ROWENA GUTIERREZ YU-TE. He presented himself at my office for a psychological evaluation in relation to his petition for Nullification of Marriage against the latter by the grounds of psychological incapacity. He is now residing at 181 P. Tuazon Street, Quezon City. Petitioner got himself three siblings who are now in business and one deceased sister. Both his parents are also in the business world by whom he [considers] as generous, hospitable, and patient. This said virtues are said to be handed to each of the family member. He generally considers himself to be quiet and simple. He clearly remembers himself to be afraid of meeting people. After 1994, he tried his luck in being a Sales Executive of Mansfield International Incorporated. And because of job incompetence, as well as being quiet and loner, he did not stay long in the job until 1996. His interest lie[s] on becoming a full servant of God by being a priest or a pastor. He [is] said to isolate himself from his friends even during his childhood days as he only loves to read the Bible and hear its message. Respondent is said to come from a fine family despite having a lazy father and a disobedient wife. She is said to have not finish[ed] her collegiate degree and shared intimate sexual moments with her boyfriend prior to that with petitioner.
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In January of 1996, respondent showed her kindness to petitioner and this became the foundation of their intimate relationship. After a month of dating, petitioner mentioned to respondent that he is having problems with his family. Respondent surprisingly retorted that she also hates her family and that she actually wanted to get out of their lives. From that [time on], respondent had insisted to petitioner that they should elope and live together. Petitioner hesitated because he is not prepared as they are both young and inexperienced, but she insisted that they would somehow manage because petitioner is rich. In the last week of March 1996, respondent seriously brought the idea of eloping and she already bought tickets for the boat going to Cebu. Petitioner reluctantly agreed to the idea and so they eloped to Cebu. The parties are supposed to stay at the house of a friend of respondent, but they were not able to locate her, so petitioner was compelled to rent an apartment. The parties tried to look for a job but could not find any so it was suggested by respondent that they should go back and seek help from petit ioners parents. When the parties arrived at the house of petitioner, all of his whole family was all out of the country so respondent decided to go back to her home for the meantime while petitioner stayed behind at their home. After a few days of separation, respondent called petitioner by phone and said she wanted to talk to him. Petitioner responded immediately and when he arrived at their house, respondent confronted petitioner as to why he appeared to be cold, respondent acted irrationally and even threatened to commit suicide. Petitioner got scared so he went home again. Respondent would call by phone every now and then and became angry as petitioner does not know what to do. Respondent went to the extent of threatening to file a case against petitioner and scandalize his family in the newspaper. Petitioner asked her how he would be able to make amends and at this point in time[,] respondent brought the idea of marriage. Petitioner[,] out of frustration in life[,] agreed to her to pacify her. And so on April 23, 1996, respondents uncle brought the parties to Valenzuela*,+ and on that very same day*,+ petitioner was made to sign the Marriage Contract before the Judge. Petitioner actually never applied for any Marriage License. Respondent decided that they should stay first at their house until after arrival of the parents of petitioner. But when the parents of petitioner arrived, respondent refused to allow petitioner to go home. Petitioner was threatened in so many ways with her uncle showing to him many guns. Respondent even threatened that if he should persist in going home, they will commission their military friends to harm his family. Respondent even made petitioner sign a declaration that if he should perish, the authorities should look for him at his parents[ ]and relatives[ ]houses. Sometime in June of 1996, petitioner was able to escape and he went home. He told his parents about his predicament and they forgave him and supported him by giving him military escort. Petitioner, however, did not inform them that he signed a marriage contract with respondent. When they knew about it[,] petitioner was referred for counseling. Petitioner[,] after the counseling[,] tried to contact respondent. Petitioner offered her to live instead to[sic] the home of petitioners parents while they are still studying. Respondent refused the idea and claimed that she would only live with him if they will have a separate home of their own and be away from his parents. She also intimated to petitioner that he should already get his share of whatever he would inherit from his parents so they can start a new life. Respondent demanded these not knowing [that] the petitioner already settled his differences with his own family. When respondent refused to live with petitioner where he chose for them to stay, petitioner decided to tell her to stop harassing the home of his parents. He told her already that he was disinherited and since he also does not have a job, he would not be able to support her. After knowing that petitioner does not have any money anymore, respondent stopped tormenting petitioner and informed petitioner that they should live separate lives. The said relationship between Edward and Rowena is said to be undoubtedly in the wreck and weakly-founded. The break-up was caused by both parties*+ unreadiness to commitment and their young age. He was still in the state of finding his fate and fighting boredom, while she was still egocentrically involved with herself. TESTS ADMINISTERED: Revised Beta Examination Bender Visual Motor Gestalt Test Draw A Person Test Rorschach Psychodiagnostic Test Sachs Sentence Completion Test MMPI TEST RESULTS & EVALUATION: Both petitioner and respondent are dubbed to be emotionally immature and recklessly impulsive upon swearing to their marital vows as each of them was motivated by different notions on marriage. Edward Kenneth Ngo Te, the petitioner in this case[,] is said to be still unsure and unready so as to commit himself to marriage. He is still founded to be on the search of what he wants in life. He is absconded as an introvert as he is not really sociable and displays a lack of interest in social interactions and mingling with other individuals. He is seen too akin to this kind of lifestyle that he finds it boring and uninteresting to commit himself to a relationship especially to that of respondent, as aggravated by her dangerously aggressive moves. As he is more of the reserved and timid type of person, as he prefer to be religiously attached and spend a solemn time alone. ROWENA GUTIERREZ YU-TE, the respondent, is said to be of the aggressive-rebellious type of woman. She is seen to be somewhat exploitative in her [plight] for a life of wealth and glamour. She is seen to take move on marriage as she thought that her marriage with petitioner will bring her good fortune because he is part of a rich family. In order to have her dreams realized, she used force and threats knowing that [her] husband is somehow weak-willed. Upon the realization that there is really no chance for wealth, she gladly finds her way out of the relationship. REMARKS: Before going to marriage, one should really get to know himself and marry himself before submitting to marital vows. Marriage should not be taken out of intuition as it is profoundly a serious institution solemnized by religious and law. In the case presented by petitioner and respondent[,] (sic) it is evidently clear that both parties have impulsively taken marriage for granted as they are still unaware of their own selves. He is extremely introvert to the point of weakening their relationship by his weak behavioral disposition. She, on the other hand[,] is extremely exploitative and aggressive so as to be unlawful, insincere and undoubtedly uncaring in her strides toward convenience. It is apparent that she is suffering the grave, severe, and incurable presence of Narcissistic and Antisocial Personality Disorder that started since childhood and only manifested during 15 marriage. Both parties display psychological incapacities that made marriage a big mistake for them to take.

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The trial court, on July 30, 2001, rendered its Decision declaring the marriage of the parties null and void on the ground that both parties were 17 psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential marital obligations. The Republic, represented by the OSG, timely filed its notice of 18 appeal. On review, the appellate court, in the assailed August 5, 2003 Decision in CA-G.R. CV No. 71867, reversed and set aside the trial courts ruling. It ruled that petitioner failed to prove the psychological incapacity of respondent. The clinical psychologist did not personally examine respondent, and relied only on the information provided by petitioner. Further, the psychological incapacity was not shown to be attended by gravity, juridical antecedence and incurability. In sum, the evidence adduced fell short of the requirements stated in Republic v. Court of Appeals and 21 22 Molina needed for the declaration of nullity of the marriage under Article 36 of the Family Code. The CA faulted the lower court for rendering the decision without the required certification of the OSG briefly stating therein the OSGs reasons for its agreement with o r opposition to, as the 23 24 case may be, the petition. The CA later denied petitioners motion for reconsideration in the likewise assailed January 19, 2004 Resolution. Dissatisfied, petitioner filed before this Court the instant petition for review on certiorari. On June 15, 2005, the Court gave due course to the 25 petition and required the parties to submit their respective memoranda. In his memorandum, petitioner argues that the CA erred in substituting its own judgment for that of the trial court. He posits that the RTC declared the marriage void, not only because of respondents psychological incapacity, but rather due to both parties psycho logical incapacity. Petitioner also points out that there is no requirement for the psychologist to personally examine respondent. Further, he avers that the OSG is bound by the actions of the OCP because the latter represented it during the trial; and it had been furnished copies of all the pleadings, the trial 27 court orders and notices. For its part, the OSG contends in its memorandum, that the annulment petition filed before the RTC contains no statement of the essential marital obligations that the parties failed to comply with. The root cause of the psychological incapacity was likewise not alleged in the petition; neither was it medically or clinically identified. The purported incapacity of both parties was not shown to be medically or clinically permanent or incurable. And the clinical psychologist did not personally examine the respondent. Thus, the OSG concludes that the requirements in 29 30 Molina were not satisfied. The Court now resolves the singular issue of whether, based on Article 36 of the Family Code, the marriage between the parties is null and void. I. We begin by examining the provision, tracing its origin and charting the development of jurisprudence interpreting it. Article 36 of the Family Code provides: Article 36. A marriage contracted by any party who, at the time of the celebration, was psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential marital obligations of marriage, shall likewise be void even if such incapacity becomes manifest only after its solemnization. As borne out by the deliberations of the Civil Code Revision Committee that drafted the Family Code, Article 36 was based on grounds available in 33 the Canon Law. Thus, Justice Flerida Ruth P. Romero elucidated in her separate opinion in Santos v. Court of Appeals: However, as a member of both the Family Law Revision Committee of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and the Civil Code Revision Commission of the UP Law Center, I wish to add some observations. The letter dated April 15, 1985 of then Judge Alicia V. Sempio-Diy written in behalf of the Family Law and Civil Code Revision Committee to then Assemblywoman Mercedes Cojuangco-Teodoro traced the background of the inclusion of the present Article 36 in the Family Code. "During its early meetings, the Family Law Committee had thought of including a chapter on absolute divorce in the draft of a new Family Code (Book I of the Civil Code) that it had been tasked by the IBP and the UP Law Center to prepare. In fact, some members of the Committee were in favor of a no-fault divorce between the spouses after a number of years of separation, legal or de facto. Justice J.B.L. Reyes was then requested to prepare a proposal for an action for dissolution of marriage and the effects thereof based on two grounds: (a) five continuous years of separation between the spouses, with or without a judicial decree of legal separation, and (b) whenever a married person would have obtained a decree of absolute divorce in another country. Actually, such a proposal is one for absolute divorce but called by another name. Later, even the Civil Code Revision Committee took time to discuss the proposal of Justice Reyes on this matter. Subsequently, however, when the Civil Code Revision Committee and Family Law Committee started holding joint meetings on the preparation of the draft of the New Family Code, they agreed and formulated the definition of marriage as a special contract of permanent partnership between a man and a woman entered into in accordance with law for the establishm ent of conjugal and family life. It is an inviolable social institution whose nature, consequences, and incidents are governed by law and not subject to stipulation, except that marriage settlements may fix the property relations during the marriage within the limits provided by law. With the above definition, and considering the Christian traditional concept of marriage of the Filipino people as a permanent, inviolable, indissoluble social institution upon which the family and society are founded, and also realizing the strong opposition that any provision on absolute divorce would encounter from the Catholic Church and the Catholic sector of our citizenry to whom the great majority of our people belong, the two Committees in their joint meetings did not pursue the idea of absolute divorce and, instead, opted for an action for judicial declaration of invalidity of marriage based on grounds available in the Canon Law. It was thought that such an action would not only be an acceptable alternative to divorce but would also solve the nagging problem of church annulments of marriages on grounds not recognized by the civil law of the State. Justice Reyes was, thus, requested to again prepare a draft of provisions on such action for celebration of invalidity of marriage. Still later, to avoid the overlapping of provisions on void marriages as found in the present Civil Code and those proposed by Justice Reyes on judicial declaration of invalidity of marriage on grounds similar to the Canon Law, the two Committees now working as a Joint Committee in the preparation of a New Family Code decided to consolidate the present provisions on void marriages with the proposals of Justice Reyes. The result was the inclusion of an additional kind of void marriage in the enumeration of void marriages in the present Civil Code, to wit: (7) those marriages contracted by any party who, at the time of the celebration, was wanting in the sufficient use of reason or judgment to understand the essential nature of marriage or was psychologically or mentally incapacitated to discharge the essential marital obligations, even if such lack or incapacity is made manifest after the celebration.
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as well as the following implementing provisions: Art. 32. The absolute nullity of a marriage may be invoked or pleaded only on the basis of a final judgment declaring the ma rriage void, without prejudice to the provision of Article 34. Art. 33. The action or defense for the declaration of the absolute nullity of a marriage shall not prescribe. xxxxxxxxx It is believed that many hopelessly broken marriages in our country today may already be dissolved or annulled on the grounds proposed by the Joint Committee on declaration of nullity as well as annulment of marriages, thus rendering an absolute divorce law unnecessary. In fact, during a conference with Father Gerald Healy of the Ateneo University, as well as another meeting with Archbishop Oscar Cruz of the Archdiocese of Pampanga, the Joint Committee was informed that since Vatican II, the Catholic Church has been declaring marriages null and void on the ground of "lack of due discretion" for causes that, in other jurisdictions, would be clear grounds for divorce, like teen-age or premature marriages; marriage to a man who, because of some personality disorder or disturbance, cannot support a family; the foolish or ridiculous choice of a spouse by an otherwise perfectly normal person; marriage to a woman who refuses to cohabit with her husband or who refuses to have children. Bishop Cruz also informed the Committee that they have found out in tribunal work that a lot of machismo among husbands are manifestations of their sociopathic personality anomaly, like inflicting physical violence upon their wives, constitutional indolence or laziness, drug dependence or 34 addiction, and psychosexual anomaly. In her separate opinion in Molina, she expounded: At the Committee meeting of July 26, 1986, the draft provision read: "(7) Those marriages contracted by any party who, at the time of the celebration, was wanting in the sufficient use of reason or judgment to understand the essential nature of marriage or was psychologically or mentally incapacitated to discharge the essential marital obligations, even if such lack of incapacity is made manifest after the celebration." The twists and turns which the ensuing discussion took finally produced the following revised provision even before the session was over: "(7) That contracted by any party who, at the time of the celebration, was psychologically incapacitated to discharge the essential marital obligations, even if such lack or incapacity becomes manifest after the celebration." Noticeably, the immediately preceding formulation above has dropped any reference to "wanting in the sufficient use of reason or judgment to understand the essential nature of marriage" and to "mentally incapacitated." It was explained that these phrases refer to "defects in the mental faculties vitiating consent, which is not the idea . . . but lack of appreciation of one's marital obligation." There being a defect in consent, "it is clear that it should be a ground for voidable marriage because there is the appearance of consent and it is capable of convalidation for the simple reason that there are lucid intervals and there are cases when the insanity is curable . . . Psychological incapacity does not refer to mental faculties and has nothing to do with consent; it refers to obligations attendant to marriage." My own position as a member of the Committee then was that psychological incapacity is, in a sense, insanity of a lesser degree. As to the proposal of Justice Caguioa to use the term "psychological or mental impotence," Archbishop Oscar Cruz opined in the earlier February 9, 1984 session that this term "is an invention of some churchmen who are moralists but not canonists, that is why it is considered a weak phrase." He said that the Code of Canon Law would rather express it as "psychological or mental incapacity to discharge . . ." Justice Ricardo C. Puno opined that sometimes a person may be psychologically impotent with one but not with another. One of the guidelines enumerated in the majority opinion for the interpretation and application of Art. 36 is: "Such incapacity must also be shown to be medically or clinically permanent or incurable. Such incurability may be absolute or even relative only in regard to the other spouse, not necessarily absolutely against everyone of the same sex." The Committee, through Prof. Araceli T. Barrera, considered the inclusion of the phrase "and is incurable" but Prof. Esteban B. Bautista commented that this would give rise to the question of how they will determine curability and Justice Caguioa agreed that it would be more problematic. Yet, the possibility that one may be cured after the psychological incapacity becomes manifest after the marriage was not ruled out by Justice Puno and Justice Alice Sempio-Diy. Justice Caguioa suggested that the remedy was to allow the afflicted spouse to remarry. For clarity, the Committee classified the bases for determining void marriages, viz.: 1. lack of one or more of the essential requisites of marriage as contract; 2. reasons of public policy; 3. special cases and special situations. The ground of psychological incapacity was subsumed under "special cases and special situations," hence, its special treatment in Art. 36 in the Family Code as finally enacted. Nowhere in the Civil Code provisions on Marriage is there a ground for avoiding or annulling marriages that even comes close to being psychological in nature. Where consent is vitiated due to circumstances existing at the time of the marriage, such marriage which stands valid until annulled is capable of ratification or convalidation. On the other hand, for reasons of public policy or lack of essential requisites, some marriages are void from the beginning. With the revision of Book I of the Civil Code, particularly the provisions on Marriage, the drafters, now open to fresh winds of change in keeping with the more permissive mores and practices of the time, took a leaf from the relatively liberal provisions of Canon Law. Canon 1095 which states, inter alia, that the following persons are incapable of contracting marriage: "3. (those) who, because of causes of a psychological nature, are unable to assume the essential obligations of marriage" provided the model for what is now Art. 36 of the Family Code: "A marriage contracted by any party who, at the time of the celebration, was psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential marital obligations of marriage, shall likewise be void even if such incapacity becomes manifest only after its solemnization."
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It bears stressing that unlike in Civil Law, Canon Law recognizes only two types of marriages with respect to their validity: valid and void. Civil Law, however, recognizes an intermediate state, the voidable or annullable marriages. When the Ecclesiastical Tribunal "annuls" a marriage, it actually declares the marriage null and void, i.e., it never really existed in the first place, for a valid sacramental marriage can never be dissolved. Hence, a properly performed and consummated marriage between two living Roman Catholics can only be nullified by the formal annulment process which entails a full tribunal procedure with a Court selection and a formal hearing. Such so-called church "annulments" are not recognized by Civil Law as severing the marriage ties as to capacitate the parties to enter lawfully into another marriage. The grounds for nullifying civil marriage, not being congruent with those laid down by Canon Law, the former being more strict, quite a number of married couples have found themselves in limbofreed from the marriage bonds in the eyes of the Catholic Church but yet unable to contract a valid civil marriage under state laws. Heedless of civil law sanctions, some persons contract new marriages or enter into live-in relationships. It was precisely to provide a satisfactory solution to such anomalous situations that the Civil Law Revision Committee decided to engraft the Canon Law concept of psychological incapacity into the Family Codeand classified the same as a ground for declaring marriages void ab initio or totally inexistent from the beginning. A brief historical note on the Old Canon Law (1917). This Old Code, while it did not provide directly for psychological incapacity, in effect, recognized the same indirectly from a combination of three old canons: "Canon #1081 required persons to be capable according to law in order to give valid consent; Canon #1082 required that persons be at least not ignorant of the major elements required in marriage; and Canon #1087 (the force and fear category) required that internal and external freedom be present in order for consent to be valid. This line of interpretation produced two distinct but related grounds for annulment called lack of due discretion and lack of due competence. Lack of due discretion means that the person did not have the ability to give valid consent at the time of the wedding and, therefore, the union is invalid. Lack of due competence means that the person was incapable of carrying out the obligations of the promise he or she made during the wedding ceremony." Favorable annulment decisions by the Roman Rota in the 1950s and 1960s involving sexual disorders such as homosexuality and nymphomania laid the foundation for a broader approach to the kind of proof necessary for psychological grounds for annulment. The Rota had reasoned for the first time in several cases that the capacity to give valid consent at the time of marriage was probably not present in persons who had displayed such problems shortly after the marriage. The nature of this change was nothing short of revolutionary. Once the Rota itself had demonstrated a cautious willingness to use this kind of hindsight, the way was paved for what came after 1970. Diocesan Tribunals began to accept proof of serious psychological problems that manifested themselves shortly after the ceremony as proof of an inability to give valid consent at the time of the 36 ceremony. Interestingly, the Committee did not give any examples of psychological incapacity for fear that by so doing, it might limit the applicability of the provision under the principle of ejusdem generis. The Committee desired that the courts should interpret the provision on a case-to-case basis; guided by experience, the findings of experts and researchers in psychological disciplines, and by decisions of church tribunals which, although not 37 binding on the civil courts, may be given persuasive effect since the provision itself was taken from the Canon Law. The law is then so designed as 38 to allow some resiliency in its application. Yet, as held in Santos, the phrase "psychological incapacity" is not meant to comprehend all possible cases of psychoses. It refers to no less than a mental (not physical) incapacity that causes a party to be truly noncognitive of the basic marital covenants that concomitantly must be assumed 40 and discharged by the parties to the marriage which, as expressed by Article 68 of the Family Code, include their mutual obligations to live together, observe love, respect and fidelity; and render help and support. The intendment of the law has been to confine it to the most serious of 41 cases of personality disorders clearly demonstrative of an utter insensitivity or inability to give meaning and significance to the marriage. This interpretation is, in fact, consistent with that in Canon Law, thus: 3.5.3.1. The Meaning of Incapacity to Assume. A sharp conceptual distinction must be made between the second and third paragraphs of C.1095, namely between the grave lack of discretionary judgment and the incapacity to assume the essential obligation. Mario Pompedda, a rotal judge, explains the difference by an ordinary, if somewhat banal, example. Jose wishes to sell a house to Carmela, and on the assumption that they are capable according to positive law to enter such contract, there remains the object of the contract, viz, the house. The house is located in a different locality, and prior to the conclusion of the contract, the house was gutted down by fire unbeknown to both of them. This is the hypothesis contemplated by the third paragraph of the canon. The third paragraph does not deal with the psychological process of giving consent because it has been established a priori that both have such a capacity to give consent, and they both know well the object of their consent [the house and its particulars]. Rather, C.1095.3 deals with the object of the consent/contract which does not exist. The contract is invalid because it lacks its formal object. The consent as a psychological act is both valid and sufficient. The psychological act, however, is directed towards an object which is not available. Urbano Navarrete summarizes this distinction: the third paragraph deals not with the positing of consent but with positing the object of consent. The person may be capable of positing a free act of consent, but he is not capable of fulfilling the responsibilities he assumes as a result of the consent he elicits. Since the address of Pius XII to the auditors of the Roman Rota in 1941 regarding psychic incapacity with respect to marriage arising from pathological conditions, there has been an increasing trend to understand as ground of nullity different from others, the incapacity to assume the essential obligations of marriage, especially the incapacity which arises from sexual anomalies. Nymphomania is a sample which ecclesiastical jurisprudence has studied under this rubric. The problem as treated can be summarized, thus: do sexual anomalies always and in every case imply a grave psychopathological condition which affects the higher faculties of intellect, discernment, and freedom; or are there sexual anomalies that are purely so that is to say, they arise from certain physiological dysfunction of the hormonal system, and they affect the sexual condition, leaving intact the higher faculties however, so that these persons are still capable of free human acts. The evidence from the empirical sciences is abundant that there are certain anomalies of a sexual nature which may impel a person towards sexual activities which are not normal, either with respect to its frequency [nymphomania, satyriasis] or to the nature of the activity itself [sadism, masochism, homosexuality]. However, these anomalies notwithstanding, it is altogether possible that the higher faculties remain intact such that a person so afflicted continues to have an adequate understanding of what marriage is and of the gravity of its responsibilities. In fact, he can choose marriage freely. The question though is whether such a person can assume those
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responsibilities which he cannot fulfill, although he may be able to understand them. In this latter hypothesis, the incapacity to assume the essential obligations of marriage issues from the incapacity to posit the object of consent, rather than the incapacity to posit consent itself. Ecclesiastical jurisprudence has been hesitant, if not actually confused, in this regard. The initial steps taken by church courts were not too clear whether this incapacity is incapacity to posit consent or incapacity to posit the object of consent. A case c. Pinna, for example, arrives at the conclusion that the intellect, under such an irresistible impulse, is prevented from properly deliberating and its judgment lacks freedom. This line of reasoning supposes that the intellect, at the moment of consent, is under the influence of this irresistible compulsion, with the inevitable conclusion that such a decision, made as it was under these circumstances, lacks the necessary freedom. It would be incontrovertible that a decision made under duress, such as this irresistible impulse, would not be a free act. But this is precisely the question: is it, as a matter of fact, true that the intellect is always and continuously under such an irresistible compulsion? It would seem entirely possible, and certainly more reasonable, to think that there are certain cases in which one who is sexually hyperaesthetic can understand perfectly and evaluate quite maturely what marriage is and what it implies; his consent would be juridically ineffective for this one reason that he cannot posit the object of consent, the exclusive jus in corpus to be exercised in a normal way and with usually regularity. It would seem more correct to say that the consent may indeed be free, but is juridically ineffective because the party is consenting to an object that he cannot deliver. The house he is selling was gutted down by fire. 3.5.3.2. Incapacity as an Autonomous Ground. Sabattani seems to have seen his way more clearly through this tangled mess, proposing as he did a clear conceptual distinction between the inability to give consent on the one hand, and the inability to fulfill the object of consent, on the other. It is his opinion that nymphomaniacs usually understand the meaning of marriage, and they are usually able to evaluate its implications. They would have no difficulty with positing a free and intelligent consent. However, such persons, capable as they are of eliciting an intelligent and free consent, experience difficulty in another sphere: delivering the object of the consent. Anne, another rotal judge, had likewise treated the difference between the act of consenting and the act of positing the object of consent from the point of view of a person afflicted with nymphomania. According to him, such an affliction usually leaves the process of knowing and understanding and evaluating intact. What it affects is the object of consent: the delivering of the goods. 3.5.3.3 Incapacity as Incapacity to Posit the Object of Consent. From the selected rotal jurisprudence cited, supra, it is possible to see a certain progress towards a consensus doctrine that the incapacity to assume the essential obligations of marriage (that is to say, the formal object of consent) can coexist in the same person with the ability to make a free decision, an intelligent judgment, and a mature evaluation and weighing of things. The decision coram Sabattani concerning a nymphomaniac affirmed that such a spouse can have difficulty not only with regard to the moment of consent but also, and especially, with regard to the matrimonium in facto esse. The decision concludes that a person in such a condition is incapable of assuming the conjugal obligation of fidelity, although she may have no difficulty in understanding what the obligations of marriage are, nor in the weighing and evaluating of those same obligations. Prior to the promulgation of the Code of Canon Law in 1983, it was not unusual to refer to this ground as moral impotence or psychic impotence, or similar expressions to express a specific incapacity rooted in some anomalies and disorders in the personality. These anomalies leave intact the faculties of the will and the intellect. It is qualified as moral or psychic, obviously to distinguish it from the impotence that constitutes the impediment dealt with by C.1084. Nonetheless, the anomalies render the subject incapable of binding himself in a valid matrimonial pact, to the extent that the anomaly renders that person incapable of fulfilling the essential obligations. According to the principle affirmed by the long tradition of moral theology: nemo ad impossibile tenetur. xxxx 3.5.3.5 Indications of Incapacity. There is incapacity when either or both of the contractants are not capable of initiating or maintaining this consortium. One immediately thinks of those cases where one of the parties is so self-centered [e.g., a narcissistic personality] that he does not even know how to begin a union with the other, let alone how to maintain and sustain such a relationship. A second incapacity could be due to the fact that the spouses are incapable of beginning or maintaining a heterosexual consortium, which goes to the very substance of matrimony. Another incapacity could arise when a spouse is unable to concretize the good of himself or of the other party. The canon speaks, not of the bonum partium, but of the bonum conjugum. A spouse who is capable only of realizing or contributing to the good of the other party qua persona rather than qua conjunx would be deemed incapable of contracting marriage. Such would be the case of a person who may be quite capable of procuring the economic good and the financial security of the other, but not capable of realizing the bonum conjugale of the other. These are general strokes and this is not the place for detained and individual description. A rotal decision c. Pinto resolved a petition where the concrete circumstances of the case concerns a person diagnosed to be suffering from serious sociopathy. He concluded that while the respondent may have understood, on the level of the intellect, the essential obligations of marriage, he was not capable of assuming them because of his "constitutional immorality." Stankiewicz clarifies that the maturity and capacity of the person as regards the fulfillment of responsibilities is determined not only at the moment of decision but also and especially during the moment of execution of decision. And when this is applied to constitution of the marital consent, it means that the actual fulfillment of the essential obligations of marriage is a pertinent consideration that must be factored into the question of whether a person was in a position to assume the obligations of marriage in the first place. When one speaks of the inability of the party to assume and fulfill the obligations, one is not looking at matrimonium in fieri, but also and especially at matrimonium in facto esse. In [the] decision of 19 Dec. 1985, Stankiewicz collocated the incapacity of the respondent to assume the essential obligations of marriage in the psychic constitution of the person, precisely on the basis of his irresponsibility as regards money and his apathy as regards the rights of others that he had violated. Interpersonal relationships are invariably disturbed in the presence of this personality disorder. A lack of empathy (inability to recognize and experience how others feel) is common. A sense of entitlement, unreasonable expectation, especially favorable treatment, is usually present. Likewise common is interpersonal exploitativeness, in which others are taken advantage of in order to achieve ones ends. Authors have made listings of obligations considered as essential matrimonial obligations. One of them is the right to the communio vitae. This and their corresponding obligations are basically centered around the good of the spouses and of the children. Serious psychic anomalies, which do not have to be necessarily incurable, may give rise to the incapacity to assume any, or several, or even all of these rights. There are some cases in which

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interpersonal relationship is impossible. Some characteristic features of inability for interpersonal relationships in marriage include affective immaturity, narcissism, and antisocial traits. Marriage and Homosexuality. Until 1967, it was not very clear under what rubric homosexuality was understood to be invalidating of marriage that is to say, is homosexuality invalidating because of the inability to evaluate the responsibilities of marriage, or because of the inability to fulfill its obligations. Progressively, however, rotal jurisprudence began to understand it as incapacity to assume the obligations of marriage so that by 1978, Parisella was able to consider, with charity, homosexuality as an autonomous ground of nullity. This is to say that a person so afflicted is said to be unable to assume the essential obligations of marriage. In this same rotal decision, the object of matrimonial consent is understood to refer not only to the jus in corpus but also the consortium totius vitae. The third paragraph of C.1095 [incapacity to assume the essential obligations of marriage] certainly seems to be the more adequate juridical structure to account for the complex phenomenon that homosexuality is. The homosexual is not necessarily impotent because, except in very few exceptional cases, such a person is usually capable of full sexual relations with the spouse. Neither is it a mental infirmity, and a person so afflicted does not necessarily suffer from a grave lack of due discretion because this sexual anomaly does not by itself affect the critical, volitive, and intellectual faculties. Rather, the homosexual person is unable to assume the responsibilities of marriage because he is unable to fulfill this object of the matrimonial contract. In other words, the invalidity lies, not so much in the defect of consent, as in the defect of the object of consent. 3.5.3.6 Causes of Incapacity. A last point that needs to be addressed is the source of incapacity specified by the canon: causes of a psychological nature. Pompedda proffers the opinion that the clause is a reference to the personality of the contractant. In other words, there must be a reference to the psychic part of the person. It is only when there is something in the psyche or in the psychic constitution of the person which impedes his capacity that one can then affirm that the person is incapable according to the hypothesis contemplated by C.1095.3. A person is judged incapable in this juridical sense only to the extent that he is found to have something rooted in his psychic constitution which impedes the assumption of these obligations. A bad habit deeply engrained in ones consciousness would not seem to qualify to be a source of this invalidating incapacity. The difference being that there seems to be some freedom, however remote, in the development of the habit, while one accepts as given ones psychic constitution. It would seem then that the law insists that the source of the incapacity must be one which is not the fruit of some 42 degree of freedom. Conscious of the laws intention that it is the courts, on a case-to-case basis, that should determine whether a party to a marriage is psychologically 43 incapacitated, the Court, in sustaining the lower courts judgment of annulment in Tuason v. Court of Appeals, ruled that the findings of the trial 44 court are final and binding on the appellate courts. Again, upholding the trial courts findings and declaring that its decision was not a judgment on the pleadings, the Court, i n Tsoi v. Court of 45 Appeals, explained that when private respondent testified under oath before the lower court and was cross-examined by the adverse party, she thereby presented evidence in the form of testimony. Importantly, the Court, aware of parallel decisions of Catholic marriage tribunals, ruled that the senseless and protracted refusal of one of the parties to fulfill the marital obligation of procreating children is equivalent to psychological incapacity. The resiliency with which the concept should be applied and the case-to-case basis by which the provision should be interpreted, as so intended by 46 its framers, had, somehow, been rendered ineffectual by the imposition of a set of strict standards in Molina, thus: From their submissions and the Court's own deliberations, the following guidelines in the interpretation and application of Art. 36 of the Family Code are hereby handed down for the guidance of the bench and the bar: (1) The burden of proof to show the nullity of the marriage belongs to the plaintiff. Any doubt should be resolved in favor of the existence and continuation of the marriage and against its dissolution and nullity. This is rooted in the fact that both our Constitution and our laws cherish the validity of marriage and unity of the family. Thus, our Constitution devotes an entire Article on the Family, recognizing it "as the foundation of the nation." It decrees marriage as legally "inviolable," thereby protecting it from dissolution at the whim of the parties. Both the family and marriage are to be "protected" by the state. The Family Code echoes this constitutional edict on marriage and the family and emphasizes their permanence, inviolability and solidarity. (2) The root cause of the psychological incapacity must be (a) medically or clinically identified, (b) alleged in the complaint, (c) sufficiently proven by experts and (d) clearly explained in the decision. Article 36 of the Family Code requires that the incapacity must be psychologicalnot physical, although its manifestations and/or symptoms may be physical. The evidence must convince the court that the parties, or one of them, was mentally or psychically ill to such an extent that the person could not have known the obligations he was assuming, or knowing them, could not have given valid assumption thereof. Although no example of such incapacity need be given here so as not to limit the application of the provision under the principle of ejusdem generis, nevertheless such root cause must be identified as a psychological illness and its incapacitating nature fully explained. Expert evidence may be given by qualified psychiatrists and clinical psychologists. (3) The incapacity must be proven to be existing at "the time of the celebration" of the marriage. The evidence must show that the illness was existing when the parties exchanged their "I do's." The manifestation of the illness need not be perceivable at such time, but the illness itself must have attached at such moment, or prior thereto. (4) Such incapacity must also be shown to be medically or clinically permanent or incurable. Such incurability may be absolute or even relative only in regard to the other spouse, not necessarily absolutely against everyone of the same sex. Furthermore, such incapacity must be relevant to the assumption of marriage obligations, not necessarily to those not related to marriage, like the exercise of a profession or employment in a job. Hence, a pediatrician may be effective in diagnosing illnesses of children and prescribing medicine to cure them but may not be psychologically capacitated to procreate, bear and raise his/her own children as an essential obligation of marriage. (5) Such illness must be grave enough to bring about the disability of the party to assume the essential obligations of marriage. Thus, "mild characterological peculiarities, mood changes, occasional emotional outbursts" cannot be accepted as root causes. The illness must be shown as downright incapacity or inability, not a refusal, neglect or difficulty, much less ill will. In other words, there is a natal or

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supervening disabling factor in the person, an adverse integral element in the personality structure that effectively incapacitates the person from really accepting and thereby complying with the obligations essential to marriage. (6) The essential marital obligations must be those embraced by Articles 68 up to 71 of the Family Code as regards the husband and wife as well as Articles 220, 221 and 225 of the same Code in regard to parents and their children. Such non-complied marital obligation(s) must also be stated in the petition, proven by evidence and included in the text of the decision. (7) Interpretations given by the National Appellate Matrimonial Tribunal of the Catholic Church in the Philippines, while not controlling or decisive, should be given great respect by our courts. It is clear that Article 36 was taken by the Family Code Revision Committee from Canon 1095 of the New Code of Canon Law, which became effective in 1983 and which provides: "The following are incapable of contracting marriage: Those who are unable to assume the essential obligations of marriage due to causes of psychological nature." Since the purpose of including such provision in our Family Code is to harmonize our civil laws with the religious faith of our people, it stands to reason that to achieve such harmonization, great persuasive weight should be given to decisions of such appellate tribunal. Ideally subject to our law on evidencewhat is decreed as canonically invalid should also be decreed civilly void. This is one instance where, in view of the evident source and purpose of the Family Code provision, contemporaneous religious interpretation is to be given persuasive effect. Here, the State and the Churchwhile remaining independent, separate and apart from each othershall walk together in synodal cadence towards the same goal of protecting and cherishing marriage and the family as the inviolable base of the nation. (8) The trial court must order the prosecuting attorney or fiscal and the Solicitor General to appear as counsel for the state. No decision shall be handed down unless the Solicitor General issues a certification, which will be quoted in the decision, briefly stating therein his reasons for his agreement or opposition, as the case may be, to the petition. The Solicitor General, along with the prosecuting attorney, shall submit to the court such certification within fifteen (15) days from the date the case is deemed submitted for resolution of the 47 court. The Solicitor General shall discharge the equivalent function of the defensor vinculi contemplated under Canon 1095. Noteworthy is that in Molina, while the majority of the Courts membership concurred in the ponencia of then Associate Justic e (later Chief Justice) Artemio V. Panganiban, three justices concurred "in the result" and another threeincluding, as aforesaid, Justice Romerotook pains to compose their individual separate opinions. Then Justice Teodoro R. Padilla even emphasized that "each case must be judged, not on the basis of a priori assumptions, predelictions or generalizations, but according to its own facts. In the field of psychological incapacity as a ground for annulment of marriage, it is trite to say that no case is on all fours with another case. The trial judge must take pains in examining the factual milieu and the 48 appellate court must, as much as possible, avoid substituting its own judgment for that of the trial court." Predictably, however, in resolving subsequent cases, the Court has applied the aforesaid standards, without too much regard for the laws clear intention that each case is to be treated differently, as "courts should interpret the provision on a case-to-case basis; guided by experience, the findings of experts and researchers in psychological disciplines, and by decisions of church tribunals." In hindsight, it may have been inappropriate for the Court to impose a rigid set of rules, as the one in Molina, in resolving all cases of psychological incapacity. Understandably, the Court was then alarmed by the deluge of petitions for the dissolution of marital bonds, and was sensitive to the 50 OSGs exaggeration of Article 36 as the "most liberal divorce procedure in the world." The unintended consequences of Molina, however, has taken its toll on people who have to live with deviant behavior, moral insanity and sociopathic personality anomaly, which, like termites, consume little by little the very foundation of their families, our basic social institutions. Far from what was intended by the Court, Molina has become a strait-jacket, forcing all sizes to fit into and be bound by it. Wittingly or unwittingly, the Court, in conveniently applying Molina, has allowed diagnosed sociopaths, schizophrenics, nymphomaniacs, narcissists and the like, to continuously debase and pervert the sanctity of marriage. 51 Ironically, the Roman Rota has annulled marriages on account of the personality disorders of the said individuals. The Court need not worry about the possible abuse of the remedy provided by Article 36, for there are ample safeguards against this contingency, among which is the intervention by the State, through the public prosecutor, to guard against collusion between the parties and/or fabrication of 52 evidence. The Court should rather be alarmed by the rising number of cases involving marital abuse, child abuse, domestic violence and incestuous rape. In dissolving marital bonds on account of either partys psychological incapacity, the Court is not demolishing the foundatio n of families, but it is actually protecting the sanctity of marriage, because it refuses to allow a person afflicted with a psychological disorder, who cannot comply with or assume the essential marital obligations, from remaining in that sacred bond. It may be stressed that the infliction of physical violence, constitutional indolence or laziness, drug dependence or addiction, and psychosexual anomaly are manifestations of a sociopathic personality 53 54 anomaly. Let it be noted that in Article 36, there is no marriage to speak of in the first place, as the same is void from the very beginning. To indulge in imagery, the declaration of nullity under Article 36 will simply provide a decent burial to a stillborn marriage. The prospect of a possible remarriage by the freed spouses should not pose too much of a concern for the Court. First and foremost, because it is none of its business. And second, because the judicial declaration of psychological incapacity operates as a warning or a lesson learned. On one hand, the normal spouse would have become vigilant, and never again marry a person with a personality disorder. On the other hand, a would-be spouse of the psychologically incapacitated runs the risk of the latters disorder recurring in their marriage. Lest it be misunderstood, we are not suggesting the abandonment of Molina in this case. We simply declare that, as aptly stated by Justice Dante 55 O. Tinga in Antonio v. Reyes, there is need to emphasize other perspectives as well which should govern the disposition of petitions for declaration of nullity under Article 36. At the risk of being redundant, we reiterate once more the principle that each case must be judged, not on the basis of a priori assumptions, predilections or generalizations but according to its own facts. And, to repeat for emphasis, courts should interpret the provision on a case-to-case basis; guided by experience, the findings of experts and researchers in psychological disciplines, and by decisions of church tribunals. II. We now examine the instant case.
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The parties whirlwind relationship lasted more or less six (6) months. They met in January 1996, eloped in March, exchanged marital vows in May, and parted ways in June. The psychologist who provided expert testimony found both parties psychologically incapacitated. Petitioners behavioral pattern falls under the classification of dependent personality disorder, and respondents, that of the narcissistic and anti social personality 56 disorder. By the very nature of Article 36, courts, despite having the primary task and burden of decision-making, must not discount but, instead, must 57 consider as decisive evidence the expert opinion on the psychological and mental temperaments of the parties. Justice Romero explained this in Molina, as follows: Furthermore, and equally significant, the professional opinion of a psychological expert became increasingly important in such cases. Data about the person's entire life, both before and after the ceremony, were presented to these experts and they were asked to give professional opinions about a party's mental capacity at the time of the wedding. These opinions were rarely challenged and tended to be accepted as decisive evidence of lack of valid consent. The Church took pains to point out that its new openness in this area did not amount to the addition of new grounds for annulment, but rather was an accommodation by the Church to the advances made in psychology during the past decades. There was now the expertise to provide the allimportant connecting link between a marriage breakdown and premarital causes. During the 1970s, the Church broadened its whole idea of marriage from that of a legal contract to that of a covenant. The result of this was that it could no longer be assumed in annulment cases that a person who could intellectually understand the concept of marriage could necessarily give valid consent to marry. The ability to both grasp and assume the real obligations of a mature, lifelong commitment are now considered a necessary prerequisite to valid matrimonial consent. Rotal decisions continued applying the concept of incipient psychological incapacity, "not only to sexual anomalies but to all kinds of personality disorders that incapacitate a spouse or both spouses from assuming or carrying out the essential obligations of marriage. For marriage . . . is not merely cohabitation or the right of the spouses to each other's body for heterosexual acts, but is, in its totality the right to the community of the whole of life; i.e., the right to a developing lifelong relationship. Rotal decisions since 1973 have refined the meaning of psychological or psychic capacity for marriage as presupposing the development of an adult personality; as meaning the capacity of the spouses to give themselves to each other and to accept the other as a distinct person; that the spouses must be other oriented since the obligations of marriage are rooted in a self giving love; and that the spouses must have the capacity for interpersonal relationship because marriage is more than just a physical reality but involves a true intertwining of personalities. The fulfillment of the obligations of marriage depends, according to Church decisions, on the strength of this interpersonal relationship. A serious incapacity for interpersonal sharing and support is held to impair the relationship and consequently, the ability to fulfill the essential marital obligations. The marital capacity of one spouse is not considered in isolation but in reference to the fundamental relationship to the other spouse. Fr. Green, in an article in Catholic Mind, lists six elements necessary to the mature marital relationship: "The courts consider the following elements crucial to the marital commitment: (1) a permanent and faithful commitment to the marriage partner; (2) openness to children and partner; (3) stability; (4) emotional maturity; (5) financial responsibility; (6) an ability to cope with the ordinary stresses and strains of marriage, etc." Fr. Green goes on to speak about some of the psychological conditions that might lead to the failure of a marriage: "At stake is a type of constitutional impairment precluding conjugal communion even with the best intentions of the parties. Among the psychic factors possibly giving rise to his or her inability to fulfill marital obligations are the following: (1) antisocial personality with its fundamental lack of loyalty to persons or sense of moral values; (2) hyperesthesia, where the individual has no real freedom of sexual choice; (3) the inadequate personality where personal responses consistently fall short of reasonable expectations. xxxx The psychological grounds are the best approach for anyone who doubts whether he or she has a case for an annulment on any other terms. A situation that does not fit into any of the more traditional categories often fits very easily into the psychological category. As new as the psychological grounds are, experts are already detecting a shift in their use. Whereas originally the emphasis was on the parties' inability to exercise proper judgment at the time of the marriage (lack of due discretion), recent cases seem to be concentrating on the parties' incapacity to assume or carry out their responsibilities and obligations as promised (lack of due competence). An advantage to using the ground of lack of due competence is that at the time the marriage was entered into civil divorce and breakup of the family almost always is proof of 58 someone's failure to carry out marital responsibilities as promised at the time the marriage was entered into." 1avvphi1 Hernandez v. Court of Appeals emphasizes the importance of presenting expert testimony to establish the precise cause of a partys psychological 60 incapacity, and to show that it existed at the inception of the marriage. And as Marcos v. Marcos asserts, there is no requirement that the person to be declared psychologically incapacitated be personally examined by a physician, if the totality of evidence presented is enough to sustain a 61 finding of psychological incapacity. Verily, the evidence must show a link, medical or the like, between the acts that manifest psychological incapacity and the psychological disorder itself. This is not to mention, but we mention nevertheless for emphasis, that the presentation of expert proof presupposes a thorough and in-depth assessment of the parties by the psychologist or expert, for a conclusive diagnosis of a grave, severe and incurable presence of psychological 62 incapacity. Parenthetically, the Court, at this point, finds it fitting to suggest the inclusion in the Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void 63 Marriages and Annulment of Voidable Marriages, an option for the trial judge to refer the case to a court-appointed psychologist/expert for an independent assessment and evaluation of the psychological state of the parties. This will assist the courts, who are no experts in the field of psychology, to arrive at an intelligent and judicious determination of the case. The rule, however, does not dispense with the parties prerogative to present their own expert witnesses. Going back, in the case at bench, the psychological assessment, which we consider as adequate, produced the findings that both parties are afflicted with personality disordersto repeat, dependent personality disorder for petitioner, and narcissistic and antisocial personality disorder for respondent. We note that The Encyclopedia of Mental Health discusses personality disorders as follows
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A group of disorders involving behaviors or traits that are characteristic of a persons recent and long-term functioning. Patterns of perceiving and thinking are not usually limited to isolated episodes but are deeply ingrained, inflexible, maladaptive and severe enough to cause the individual mental stress or anxieties or to interfere with interpersonal relationships and normal functioning. Personality disorders are often recognizable by adolescence or earlier, continue through adulthood and become less obvious in middle or old age. An individual may have more than one personality disorder at a time. The common factor among individuals who have personality disorders, despite a variety of character traits, is the way in which the disorder leads to pervasive problems in social and occupational adjustment. Some individuals with personality disorders are perceived by others as overdramatic, paranoid, obnoxious or even criminal, without an awareness of their behaviors. Such qualities may lead to trouble getting along with other people, as well as difficulties in other areas of life and often a tendency to blame others for their problems. Other individuals with personality disorders are not unpleasant or difficult to work with but tend to be lonely, isolated or dependent. Such traits can lead to interpersonal difficulties, reduced selfesteem and dissatisfaction with life. Causes of Personality Disorders Different mental health viewpoints propose a variety of causes of personality disorders. These include Freudian, genetic factors, neurobiologic theories and brain wave activity. Freudian Sigmund Freud believed that fixation at certain stages of development led to certain personality types. Thus, some disorders as described in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (3d ed., rev.) are derived from his oral, anal and phallic character types. Demanding and dependent behavior (dependent and passive-aggressive) was thought to derive from fixation at the oral stage. Characteristics of obsessionality, rigidity and emotional aloofness were thought to derive from fixation at the anal stage; fixation at the phallic stage was thought to lead to shallowness and an inability to engage in intimate relationships.lawphil.net However, later researchers have found little evidence that early childhood events or fixation at certain stages of development lead to specific personality patterns. Genetic Factors Researchers have found that there may be a genetic factor involved in the etiology of antisocial and borderline personality disorders; there is less evidence of inheritance of other personality disorders. Some family, adoption and twin studies suggest that schizotypal personality may be related to genetic factors. Neurobiologic Theories In individuals who have borderline personality, researchers have found that low cerebrospinal fluid 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid (5-HIAA) negatively correlated with measures of aggression and a past history of suicide attempts. Schizotypal personality has been associated with low platelet monoamine oxidase (MAO) activity and impaired smooth pursuit eye movement. Brain Wave Activity Abnormalities in electroencephalograph (EEG) have been reported in antisocial personality for many years; slow wave is the most widely reported abnormality. A study of borderline patients reported that 38 percent had at least marginal EEG abnormalities, compared with 19 percent in a control group. Types of Disorders According to the American Psychiatric Associations Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (3d ed., rev., 1987), or DSM-III-R, personality disorders are categorized into three major clusters: Cluster A: Paranoid, schizoid and schizotypal personality disorders. Individuals who have these disorders often appear to have odd or eccentric habits and traits. Cluster B: Antisocial, borderline, histrionic and narcissistic personality disorders. Individuals who have these disorders often appear overly emotional, erratic and dramatic. Cluster C: Avoidant, dependent, obsessive-compulsive and passive-aggressive personality disorders. Individuals who have these disorders often appear anxious or fearful. The DSM-III-R also lists another category, "personality disorder not otherwise specified," that can be used for other specific personality disorders or for mixed conditions that do not qualify as any of the specific personality disorders. Individuals with diagnosable personality disorders usually have long-term concerns, and thus therapy may be long-term. Dependent personality disorder is characterized in the following manner A personality disorder characterized by a pattern of dependent and submissive behavior. Such individuals usually lack self-esteem and frequently belittle their capabilities; they fear criticism and are easily hurt by others comments. At times they actually bring about dominance by others through a quest for overprotection. Dependent personality disorder usually begins in early adulthood. Individuals who have this disorder may be unable to make everyday decisions without advice or reassurance from others, may allow others to make most of their important decisions (such as where to live), tend to agree with people even when they believe they are wrong, have difficulty starting projects or doing things on their own, volunteer to do things that are demeaning in order to get approval from other people, feel uncomfortable or helpless when alone and are often preoccupied with fears of being 65 abandoned. and antisocial personality disorder described, as follows Characteristics include a consistent pattern of behavior that is intolerant of the conventional behavioral limitations imposed by a society, an inability to sustain a job over a period of years, disregard for the rights of others (either through exploitiveness or criminal behavior), frequent physical fights and, quite commonly, child or spouse abuse without remorse and a tendency to blame others. There is often a faade of charm and even sophistication that masks disregard, lack of remorse for mistreatment of others and the need to control others. Although characteristics of this disorder describe criminals, they also may befit some individuals who are prominent in business or politics whose habits of self-centeredness and disregard for the rights of others may be hidden prior to a public scandal. During the 19th century, this type of personality disorder was referred to as moral insanity. The term described immoral, guiltless behavior that was not accompanied by impairments in reasoning.lawphil.net According to the classification system used in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (3d ed., rev. 1987), anti-social personality 66 disorder is one of the four "dramatic" personality disorders, the others being borderline, histrionic and narcissistic.
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The seriousness of the diagnosis and the gravity of the disorders considered, the Court, in this case, finds as decisive the psychological evaluation made by the expert witness; and, thus, rules that the marriage of the parties is null and void on ground of both parties psy chological incapacity. We further consider that the trial court, which had a first-hand view of the witnesses deportment, arrived at the same conclusion. Indeed, petitioner, who is afflicted with dependent personality disorder, cannot assume the essential marital obligations of living together, observing love, respect and fidelity and rendering help and support, for he is unable to make everyday decisions without advice from others, allows others to make most of his important decisions (such as where to live), tends to agree with people even when he believes they are wrong, has difficulty doing things on his own, volunteers to do things that are demeaning in order to get approval from other people, feels uncomfortable or 67 helpless when alone and is often preoccupied with fears of being abandoned. As clearly shown in this case, petitioner followed everything dictated to him by the persons around him. He is insecure, weak and gullible, has no sense of his identity as a person, has no cohesive self to speak of, and has no goals and clear direction in life. Although on a different plane, the same may also be said of the respondent. Her being afflicted with antisocial personality disorder makes her unable to assume the essential marital obligations. This finding takes into account her disregard for the rights of others, her abuse, mistreatment and control of others without remorse, her tendency to blame others, and her intolerance of the conventional behavioral limitations imposed by 68 society. Moreover, as shown in this case, respondent is impulsive and domineering; she had no qualms in manipulating petitioner with her threats of blackmail and of committing suicide. Both parties being afflicted with grave, severe and incurable psychological incapacity, the precipitous marriage which they contracted on April 23, 1996 is thus, declared null and void. WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition for review on certiorari is GRANTED. The August 5, 2003 Decision and the January 19, 2004 Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 71867 are REVERSED and SET ASIDE, and the Decision, dated July 30, 2001, REINSTATED. SO ORDERED.

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G.R. No. 191425

September 7, 2011

ATILANO O. NOLLORA, JR., Petitioner, vs. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent. DECISION CARPIO, J.: The Case G.R. No. 191425 is a petition for review assailing the Decision promulgated on 30 September 2009 as well as the 3 Resolution promulgated on 23 February 2010 by the Court of Appeals (appellate court) in CA-G.R. CR No. 31538. The appellate 4 court affirmed the 19 November 2007 Decision of Branch 215 of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City (trial court) in Criminal Case No. Q-04-129031. The trial court found accused Atilano O. Nollora, Jr. (Nollora) guilty of bigamy under Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code and sentenced him to suffer imprisonment. Co-accused Rowena Geraldino (Geraldino) was acquitted for the prosecutions failure to prove her guilt beyond reasonable doubt. The Facts The appellate court recited the facts as follows: On August 24, 2004, Assistant City Prosecutor Raymond Jonathan B. Lledo filed an Information against Atilano O. Nollora, Jr. ("Nollora") and Rowena P. Geraldino ("Geraldino") for the crime of Bigamy. The accusatory portion of the Information reads: "That on or about the 8th day of December 2001 in Quezon City, Philippines, the above-named accused ATILANO O. NOLLORA, JR., being then legally married to one JESUSA PINAT NOLLORA, and as said marriage has not been legally dissolved and still subsisting, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously contract a subsequent or second marriage with her [sic] co-accused ROWENA P. GERALDINO, who knowingly consented and agreed to be married to her co-accused ATILANO O. NOLLORA, JR. knowing him to be a married man, to the damage and prejudice of the said offended party JESUSA PINAT NOLLORA." Upon his arraignment on April 18, 2005, accused Nollora assisted by counsel, refused to enter his plea. Hence, a plea of not guilty was entered by the Court for him. Accused Geraldino, on the other hand, entered a plea of not guilty when arraigned on June 14, 2005. On even date, pre-trial conference was held and both the prosecution and defense entered the following stipulation of facts: "1. the validity of the first marriage between Atilano O. Nollora, Jr. and Jesusa Pinat Nollora solemnized on April 6, 1999 at Sapang Palay, San Jose del Monte; 2. that Atilano O. Nollora, Jr. contracted the second marriage with Rowena P. Geraldino on December 8, 2001 in Quezon City; 3. that in the Counter-Affidavit of Atilano O. Nollora, Jr., he admitted that he contracted the second marriage to Rowena P. Geraldino; 4. that Rowena P. Geraldino attached to her Counter-Affidavit the Certificate of Marriage with Atilano O. Nollora, Jr. dated December 8, 2001; 5. the fact of marriage of Rowena P. Geraldino with Atilano O. Nollora, Jr. as admitted in her Counter-Affidavit." The only issue thus proffered by the prosecution for the RTCs resolution is whether or not the second marriage is bigamous. Afterwards, pre-trial conference was terminated and the case was set for initial hearing. Thereafter, trial ensued. Evidence for the Prosecution As culled from the herein assailed Decision, the respective testimonies of prosecution witnesses were as follows: "xxx (W)itness Jesusa Pinat Nollora xxx testified that she and accused Atilano O. Nollora, Jr. met in Saudi Arabia while she was working there as a Staff Midwife in King Abdulah Naval Base Hospital. Atilano O. Nollora, Jr. courted her and on April 6, 1999, they got married at the *IE+MELIF Chruch *sic+ in Sapang Palay, San Jose del Monte, Bulacan (Exhibit A). While working in said h ospital, she heard rumors that her husband has another wife and because of anxiety and emotional stress, she left Saudi Arabia and returned to the Philippines (TSN, October 4, 2005, page 10). Upon arrival in the Philippines, the private complainant learned that indeed, Atilano O. Nollora, Jr. contracted a second marriage with co-accused Rowena P. Geraldino on December 8, 2001 (Exhibit B) when she secured a certification as to the civil status of Atilano O. Nollora, Jr. (Exhibit C) from the National Statistics Office (NSO) sometime in November 2003. Upon learning this information, the private complainant confronted Rowena P. Geraldino at the latters workplace in CBW, FTI, Taguig and asked her if she knew of the first marriage between complainant and Atilano O. Nollora, Jr. to which Rowena P. Geraldino allegedly affirmed and despite this knowledge, she allegedly still married Atilano O. Nollora, Jr. because she loves him so much and because they were neighbors and childhood friends. Private complainant also knew that Rowena P. Geraldino knew of her marriage with Atilano O. Nollora, Jr., because when she (private complainant) was brought by Atilano O. Nollora, Jr. at the latters r esidence in
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Taguig, Metro Manila and introduced her to Atilano O. Nollora, Jr.s parents, Rowena P. Geraldino was there in the house together with a friend and she heard everything that they were talking about. Because of this case, private complainant was not able to return to Saudi Arabia to work as a Staff Midwife thereby losing income opportunity in the amount of P34,000.00 a month, more or less. When asked about the moral damages she suffered, she declared that what happened to her was a tragedy and she had entertained [thoughts] of committing suicide. She added that because of what happened to her, her mother died and she almost got raped when Atilano O. Nollora, Jr. left her alone in their residence in Saudi Arabia. However, she declared that money is not enough to assuage her sufferings. Instead, she just asked for the return of her money in the amount of P50,000.00 (TSN, July 26, 2005, pages 4-14). Prosecution witness Ruth Santos testified that she knew of the marriage between the private complainant and Atilano O. Nollora, Jr., because she was one of the sponsors in said wedding. Sometime in November 2003, she was asked by the private complainant to accompany the latter to the workplace of Rowena P. Geraldino in FTI, Taguig, Metro Manila. She declared that the private complainant and Rowena P. Geraldino had a confrontation and she heard that Rowena P. Geraldino admitted that she (Rowena) knew of the first marriage of Atilano O. Nollora, Jr. and the private complainant but she still went on to marry Atilano O. Nollora, Jr. because she loves him very much (TSN, October 24, 2005, pages 3-5). Evidence for the Defense The defenses version of facts, as summarized in the herein assailed Decision, is as follows: "Accused Atilano O. Nollora, Jr. admitted having contracted two (2) marriages, the first with private complainant Jesusa Pinat and the second with Rowena P. Geraldino. He, however, claimed that he was a Muslim convert way back on January 10, 1992, even before he contracted the first marriage with the private complainant. As a [M]uslim convert, he is allegedly entitled to marry four (4) wives as allowed under the Muslim or Islam belief. To prove that he is a Muslim convert even prior to his marriage to the private complainant, Atilano O. Nollora, Jr. presented a Certificate of Conversion dated August 2, 2004 issued by one Hadji Abdul Kajar Madueo and approved by one Khad Ibrahim A. Alyamin wherein it is stated that Atilano O. Nollora, Jr. allegedly converted as a Muslim since January 19, 1992 (Exhibit 2, 3 and 4). Aside from said certificate, he also presented a Pledge of Conversion dated January 10, 1992 issued b y the same Hadji Abdul Kajar Madueo and approved by one Khad Ibrahim A. Alyamin (Exhibit 7). He claimed that the private complaint knew that he was a Muslim convert prior to their marriage because she [sic] told this fact when he was courting her in Saudi Arabia and the reason why said private complainant filed the instant case was due to hatred having learned of his second marriage with Rowena P. Geraldino. She [sic] further testified that Rowena P. Geraldino was not aware of his first marriage with the private complainant and he did not tell her this fact because Rowena P. Geraldino is a Catholic and he does not want to lose her if she learns of his first marriage. He explained that in his Marriage Contract with Jesusa Pinat, it is indicated that he was a Catholic Pentecostal but that he was not aware why it was placed as such on said contract. In his Marriage Contract with Rowena P. Geraldino, the religion Catholic was also indicated because he was keeping as a secret his being a Muslim since the society does not approve of marrying a Muslim. He also indicated that he was single despite his first marriage to keep said first marriage a secret (TSN, January 30, 2006, pages 2-13). Defense witness Hadji Abdul Qasar Madueo testified that he is the founder and president of Balik Islam Tableegh Foundation of the Philippines and as such president, he has the power and authority to convert any applicant to the Muslim religion. He alleged that sometime in 1992, he met accused Atilano O. Nollora, Jr. in Mabini (Manila) who was then going abroad. Atilano O. Nollora, Jr. applied to become a Muslim (Exhibit 14) and after receiving the application, said accused was indoctrinated regarding his obligations as a Muslim. On January 10, 1992, Atilano O. Nollora, Jr. embraced the Muslim faith. He was then directed to report every Sunday to monitor his development. In the year 2004, Atilano O. Nollora, Jr. visited him and asked for a certification because of the filing of the instant case. On October 2, 2004, he issued a Certificate of Conversion wherein it is stated that Atilano O. Nollora, Jr. is a Muslim convert since January 10, 1992. Apart from the above-mentioned document, their Imam also issued a Pledge of Conversion (Exhibit 7). He declared that a Muslim convert could marry more than one according to the Holy Koran. However, before marrying his second, third and fourth wives, it is required that the consent of the first Muslim wife be secured. Thus, if the first wife is not a Muslim, there is no necessity to secure her consent (TSN, October 9, 2006, pages 2-12). During his cross-examinations, he declared that if a Muslim convert gets married not in accordance with the Muslim faith, the same is contrary to the teachings of the Muslim faith. A Muslim also can marry up to four times but he should be able to treat them equally. He claimed that he was not aware of the first marriage but was aware of the second. Since his second marriage with Rowena P. Geraldino was not in accordance with the Muslim faith, he advised Atilano O. Nollora, Jr. to re-marry Rowena P. Geraldino in accordance with Muslim marriage celebration, otherwise, he will not be considered as a true Muslim (TSN, June 25, 2007, pages 3-7). Accused Rowena P. Geraldino alleged that she was only a victim in this incident of bigamous marriage. She claimed that she does not know the private complainant Jesusa Pinat Nollora and only came to know her when this case was filed. She insists that she is the one lawfully married to Atilano O. Nollora, Jr., having been married to the latter since December 8, 2001. Upon learning that Atilano

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O. Nollora, Jr. contracted a first marriage with the private complainant, she confronted the former who admitted the said marriage. Prior to their marriage, she asked Atilano O. Nollora, Jr. if he was single and the latter responded that he was single. She also knew that her husband was a Catholic prior to their marriage but after she learned of the first marriage of her husband, she learned that he is a Muslim convert. She also claimed that after learning that her husband was a Muslim convert, she and Atilano O. Nollora, Jr., also got married in accordance with the Muslim rites. She also belied the allegations of the private complainant that she was sought by the private complainant and that they had a confrontation where she admitted that she knew that Atilano O. Nollora, Jr. was married to the private complainant and despite this knowledge, she went on to marry him because she loved him very much. She insisted that she only came to know the private complainant when she (private complainant) filed this case (TSN, August 14, 2007, 5 pages 2-8)." The Trial Courts Ruling In its Decision dated 19 November 2007, the trial court convicted Nollora and acquitted Geraldino. The trial court stated that there are only two exceptions to prosecution for bigamy: Article 41 of the Family Code, or Executive 8 Order No. 209, and Article 180 of the Code of Muslim Personal Laws of the Philippines, or Presidential Decree No. 1083. The trial court also cited Article 27 of the Code of Muslim Personal Laws of the Philippines, which provides the qualifications for allowing Muslim men to have more than one wife: "[N]o Muslim male can have more than one wife unless he can deal with them in equal companionship and just treatment as enjoined by Islamic Law and only in exceptional cases." In convicting Nollora, the trial courts Decision furth er stated thus: The principle in Islam is that monogamy is the general rule and polygamy is allowed only to meet urgent needs. Only with the permission of the court can a Muslim be permitted to have a second wife subject to certain requirements. This is because having plurality of wives is merely tolerated, not encouraged, under certain circumstances (Muslim Law on Personal Status in the Philippines by Amer M. Bara-acal and Abdulmajid J. Astir, 1998 First Edition, Pages 64-65). Arbitration is necessary. Any Muslim husband desiring to contract subsequent marriages, before so doing, shall notify the Sharia Circuit Court of the place where his family resides. The clerk of court shall serve a copy thereof to the wife or wives. Should any of them objects [sic]; an Agama Arbitration Council shall be constituted. If said council fails to secure the wifes consent to the proposed marriage, the Co urt shall, subject to Article 27, decide whether on [sic] not to sustain her objection (Art. 162, Muslim Personal Laws of the Philippines). Accused Atilano Nollora, Jr., in marrying his second wife, co-accused Rowena P. Geraldino, did not comply with the abovementioned provision of the law. In fact, he did not even declare that he was a Muslim convert in both marriages, indicating his criminal intent. In his converting to the Muslim faith, said accused entertained the mistaken belief that he can just marry anybody again after marrying the private complainant. What is clear, therefore, is [that] a Muslim is not given an unbridled right to just marry anybody the second, third or fourth time. There are requirements that the Sharia law imposes, that is, he should have notifi ed the Sharia Court where his family resides so that copy of said notice should be furnished to the fi rst wife. The argument that notice to the first wife is not required since she is not a Muslim is of no moment. This obligation to notify the said court rests upon accused Atilano Nollora, Jr. It is not for him to interpret the Sharia law. It is the Sharia Court that has this authority. In an apparent attempt to escape criminal liability, the accused recelebrated their marriage in accordance with the Muslim rites. However, this can no longer cure the criminal liability that has already been violated. The Court, however, finds criminal liability on the person of accused Atilano Nollora, Jr., only. There is no sufficient evidence that would pin accused Rowena P. Geraldino down. The evidence presented by the prosecution against her is the allegation that she knew of the first marriage between private complainant and Atilano Nollora, Jr., is insufficient[,] being open to several interpretations. Private complainant alleged that when she was brought by Atilano Nollora, Jr., to the latters house in Tagu ig, Metro Manila, Rowena P. Geraldino was there standing near the door and heard their conversation. From this incident, private complainant concluded that said Rowena P. Geraldino was aware that she and Atilano Nollora, Jr., were married. This conclusion is obviously misplaced since it could not be reasonably presumed that Rowena P. Geraldino understands what was going on between her and Atilano Nollora, Jr. It is axiomatic that "(E)very circumstance favoring accuseds innocence must be taken into account, proof against him must survive the test of reason and the strongest suspicion must not be permitted to sway judgment" (People vs. Austria, 195 SCRA 700). This Court, therefore, has to acquit Rowena P. Geraldino for failure of the prosecution to prove her guilt beyond reasonable doubt. WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered, as follows: a) Finding accused ATILANO O. NOLLORA, JR. guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Bigamy punishable under Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code. This court hereby renders judgment imposing upon him a prison term of two (2) years, four (4) months and one (1) day of prision correccional, as minimum of his indeterminate sentence, to eight (8) years and one (1) day of prision mayor, as maximum, plus accessory penalties provided by law. b) Acquitting accused ROWENA P. GERALDINO of the crime of Bigamy for failure of the prosecution to prove her guilt beyond reasonable doubt. Costs against accused Atilano O. Nollora, Jr.
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SO ORDERED.

Nollora filed a notice of appeal and moved for the allowance of his temporary liberty under the same bail bond pending appeal. The trial court granted Nolloras motion. Nollora filed a brief with the appellate court and assigned only one error of the trial court: The trial court gravely erred in finding the accused-appellant guilty of the crime charged despite the prosecutions failure to establish 10 his guilt beyond reasonable doubt. The Appellate Courts Ruling On 30 September 2009, the appellate court dismissed Nolloras appeal and affirmed the trial courts decision.
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The appellate court rejected Nolloras defense that his second marriage to Geraldino was in lawful exercise of his Islamic re ligion and was allowed by the Quran. The appellate court denied Nolloras invocation of his religious beliefs and practices to the prejudice of the non-Muslim women who married him pursuant to Philippine civil laws.1avvphi1Nolloras two marriages were not conducted in accordance with the Code of Muslim Personal Laws, hence the Family Code of the Philippines should apply. Nolloras claim of religious freedom will not immobilize the State and render it impotent in protecting the general welfare. In a Resolution dated 23 February 2010, the appellate court denied Nolloras motion for reconsideration. The allegations in the motion for reconsideration were a mere rehash of Nolloras earlier argum ents, and there was no reason for the appellate court to modify its 30 September 2009 Decision. Nollora filed the present petition for review before this Court on 6 April 2010. The Issue The issue in this case is whether Nollora is guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of bigamy. The Courts Ruling Nolloras petition has no merit. We affirm the rulings of the appellate court and of the trial court. Elements of Bigamy Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code provides: Art. 349. Bigamy. The penalty of prision mayor shall be imposed upon any person who shall contract a second or subsequent marriage before the former marriage has been legally dissolved, or before the absent spouse has been declared presumptively dead by means of a judgment rendered in the proper proceedings. The elements of the crime of bigamy are: 1. That the offender has been legally married. 2. That the marriage has not been legally dissolved or, in case his or her spouse is absent, theabsent spouse could not yet be presumed dead according to the Civil Code. 3. That he contracts a second or subsequent marriage. 4. That the second or subsequent marriage has all the essential requisites for validity.
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The circumstances in the present case satisfy all the elements of bigamy. (1) Nollora is legally married to Pinat; (2) Nollora and Pinats marriage has not been legally dissolved prior to the date of the second marriage; (3) Nollora admitted the existence of his 15 second marriage to Geraldino; and (4) Nollora and Geraldinos marriage has all the essential requisites for validity except for the 16 lack of capacity of Nollora due to his prior marriage. The marriage certificate of Nollora and Pinats marriage states that Nollora and Pinat were married at Sapang Palay IEMELIF Church, Sapang Palay, San Jose del Monte, Bulacan on 6 April 1999. Rev. Jonathan De Mesa, Minister of the IEMELIF Church 18 officiated the ceremony. The marriage certificate of Nollora and Geraldinos marriage states that Nollora and Geraldino were married at Maxs Restaurant, Quezon Avenue, Quezon City, Metro Manila on 8 December 2001. Rev. Honorato D. Santos officiated the ceremony. A certification dated 4 November 2003 from the Office of the Civil Registrar General reads: We certify that ATILANO JR O. NOLLORA who is alleged to have been born on February 22, 1968 from ATILANO M. NOLLORA SR and FLAVIANA OCLARIT, appears in our National Indices of Marriage for Groom for the years 1973 to 2002 with the following information: Date of Marriage Place of Marriage
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a) April 06, 1999 a) December 08, 2001

b) SAN JOSE DEL MONTE, BULACAN b) QUEZON CITY, METRO MANILA (2nd District)
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Before the trial and appellate courts, Nollora put up his Muslim religion as his sole defense. He alleged that his religion allows him to marry more than once. Granting arguendo that Nollora is indeed of Muslim faith at the time of celebration of both 20 marriages, Nollora cannot deny that both marriage ceremonies were not conducted in accordance with the Code of Muslim Personal Laws, or Presidential Decree No. 1083. The applicable Articles in the Code of Muslim Personal Laws read: Art. 14. Nature. - Marriage is not only a civil contract but a civil institution. Its nature, consequences and incidents are governed by this Code and the Sharia and not subject to stipulation, except that the marriage settlements to a certain extent fix the pr operty relations of the spouses. Art. 15. Essential Requisites. - No marriage contract shall be perfected unless the following essential requisites are complied with: (a) Legal capacity of the contracting parties; (b) Mutual consent of the parties freely given; (c) Offer (ijab) and acceptance (qabul) duly witnessed by at least two competent persons after the proper guardian in marriage (wali) has given his consent; and (d) Stipulation of the customary dower (mahr) duly witnessed by two competent persons. Art. 16. Capacity to contract marriage. - (1) Any Muslim male at least fifteen years of age and any Muslim female of the age of puberty or upwards and not suffering from any impediment under the provisions of this Code may contract marriage. A female is presumed to have attained puberty upon reaching the age of fifteen. x x x. Art. 17. Marriage Ceremony. - No particular form of marriage ceremony is required but the ijab and the qabul in marriage shall be declared publicly in the presence of the person solemnizing the marriage and the two competent witnesses. The declaration shall be set forth in an instrument in triplicate, signed or marked by the contracting parties and said witnesses, and attested by the person solemnizing the marriage. One copy shall be given to the contracting parties and another sent to the Circuit Registrar by the solemnizing officer who shall keep the third. Art. 18. Authority to solemnize marriage. - Marriage maybe solemnized: (a) By the proper wali by the woman to be wedded; (b) Upon the authority of the proper wali, by any person who is competent under Muslim law to solemnize marriage; or (c) By the judge of the Sharia District Court or Sharia Circuit Court or any person designated by the judge, should the proper wali refuse without justifiable reason, to authorize the solemnization. Art. 19. Place of solemnization. - Marriage shall be solemnized publicly in any mosque, office of the Sharia judge, office of the Circuit Registrar, residence of the bride or her wali, or at any other suitable place agreed upon by the parties. Art. 20. Specification of dower. - The amount or value of dower may be fixed by the contracting parties ( mahr-musamma) before, during or after the celebration of marriage. If the amount or the value thereof has not been so fixed, a proper dower ( mahr-mithl) shall, upon petition of the wife, be determined by the court according to the social standing of the parties. Indeed, Article 13(2) of the Code of Muslim Personal Laws states that "[i]n case of a marriage between a Muslim and a non-Muslim, solemnized not in accordance with Muslim law or this Code, the [Family Code of the Philippines, or Executive Order No. 209, in lieu of the Civil Code of the Philippines] shall apply." Nolloras religious affiliation is not an issue here. Neither is the claim that Nolloras marriages were solemnized according to Muslim law. Thus, regardless of his professed religion, Nollora cannot claim 21 exemption from liability for the crime of bigamy. Nollora asserted in his marriage certificate with Geraldino that his civil status is "single." Moreover, both of Nolloras marriage contracts do not state that he is a Muslim. Although the truth or falsehood of the declaration of ones religion in the marri age certificate is not an essential requirement for marriage, such omissions are sufficient proofs of Nolloras liability for bigamy. Nolloras false declaration about his civil status is thus further compounded by these omissions. [ATTY. CALDINO:] Q: In your marriage contract, Mr. Witness, with Jesusa Pinat, you indicated here as your religion, Catholic Pentecostal, and you were saying that since January 10, 1992, you are already a [M]uslim convert. . . you said, Mr. Witness, that you are already a [M]uslim convert since January 10, 1992. However, in your marriage contract with Jesusa Pinat, there is no indication here that you have indicated your religion. Will you please go over your marriage contract? [NOLLORA:] A: When we got married, they just placed there Catholic but I di dnt know why they did not place any Catholic there. xxx Q: Now, Mr. Witness, I would like to call your attention with respect to your marriage contract with your co-accused in this case, Rowena Geraldino, x x x will you please tell us, Mr. Witness, considering that you said that you are already a [M]uslim convert on January 10, 1992, why in the marriage contract with Rowena Geraldino, you indicated there your religion as Catholic, Mr. Witness?

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A: Since I was a former Catholic and since I was then keeping, I was keeping it as a secret my being my Balik-Islam, thats why I placed there Catholic since I know that the society doesnt approve a Catholic to marry another, thats why I placed there Ca tholic as my religion, sir. Q: How about under the column, "civil status," why did you indicate there that youre single, Mr. Witness? A: I also kept it as a secret that I was married, earlier married. (Emphasis supplied) xxx [PROSECUTOR TAYLOR:] Q: Would you die for your new religion, Mr. Nollora? A: Yes, maam. Q: If you would die for your new religion, why did you allow that your faith be indicated as Catholic when in fact you were already as you alleged [M]uslim to be put in your marriage contract? xxx *A:+ I dont think there is anything wrong with it, I just signed it so we can get married under the Catholic rights *sic+ be cause after that we even got married under the [M]uslim rights [sic], your Honor. xxx Q: Under your Muslim faith, if you marry a second wife, are you required under your faith to secure the permission of your first wife to get married? A: Yes, maam. Q: Did you secure that permission from your first wife, Jesusa Nollora? A: I was not able to ask any permission from her because she was very mad at me, at the start, she was always very mad, maam.
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In his petition before this Court, Nollora casts doubt on the validity of his marriage to Geraldino.1avvphi1 Nollora may not impugn his marriage to Geraldino in order to extricate himself from criminal liability; otherwise, we would be opening the doors to allowing 24 the solemnization of multiple flawed marriage ceremonies. As we stated in Tenebro v. Court of Appeals: There is therefore a recognition written into the law itself that such a marriage, although void ab initio, may still produce legal consequences. Among these legal consequences is incurring criminal liability for bigamy. To hold otherwise would render the S tates penal laws on bigamy completely nugatory, and allow individuals to deliberately ensure that each marital contract be flawed in some manner, and to thus escape the consequences of contracting multiple marriages, while beguiling throngs of hapless women with the promise of futurity and commitment. WHEREFORE, we DENY the petition. The Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 31538 promulgated on 30 September 2009 and the Resolution promulgated on 23 February 2010 are AFFIRMED. Petitioner Atilano O. Nollora, Jr. is guilty beyond reasonable doubt of Bigamy in Criminal Case No. Q-04-129031 and is sentenced to suffer the penalty of imprisonment with a term of two years, four months and one day ofprision correccional as minimum to eight years and one day of prision mayor as maximum of his indeterminate sentence, as well as the accessory penalties provided by law. Costs against petitioner Atilano O. Nollora, Jr. SO ORDERED.

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A.M. No. MTJ-00-1329 March 8, 2001 (Formerly A.M. No. OCA IPI No. 99-706-MTJ) HERMINIA BORJA-MANZANO, petitioner, vs. JUDGE ROQUE R. SANCHEZ, MTC, Infanta, Pangasinan, respondent. RESOLUTION DAVIDE, JR., C.J.: The solemnization of a marriage between two contracting parties who were both bound by a prior existing marriage is the bone of contention of the instant complaint against respondent Judge Roque R. Sanchez, Municipal Trial Court, Infanta, Pangasinan. For this act, complainant Herminia Borja-Manzano charges respondent Judge with gross ignorance of the law in a sworn Complaint-Affidavit filed with the Office of the Court Administrator on 12 May 1999. Complainant avers that she was the lawful wife of the late David Manzano, having been married to him on 21 May 1966 in San 1 2 Gabriel Archangel Parish, Araneta Avenue, Caloocan City. Four children were born out of that marriage. On 22 March 1993, 3 however, her husband contracted another marriage with one Luzviminda Payao before respondent Judge. When respondent Judge solemnized said marriage, he knew or ought to know that the same was void and bigamous, as the marriage contract clearly stated that both contracting parties were "separated." Respondent Judge, on the other hand, claims in his Comment that when he officiated the marriage between Manzano and Payao he did not know that Manzano was legally married. What he knew was that the two had been living together as husband and wife for 4 seven years already without the benefit of marriage, as manifested in their joint affidavit. According to him, had he known that the late Manzano was married, he would have advised the latter not to marry again; otherwise, he (Manzano) could be charged with bigamy. He then prayed that the complaint be dismissed for lack of merit and for being designed merely to harass him. After an evaluation of the Complaint and the Comment, the Court Administrator recommended that respondent Judge be found guilty of gross ignorance of the law and be ordered to pay a fine of P2,000, with a warning that a repetition of the same or similar act would be dealt with more severely. On 25 October 2000, this Court required the parties to manifest whether they were willing to submit the case for resolution on the basis of the pleadings thus filed. Complainant answered in the affirmative. For his part, respondent Judge filed a Manifestation reiterating his plea for the dismissal of the complaint and setting aside his 5 earlier Comment. He therein invites the attention of the Court to two separate affidavits of the late Manzano and of Payao, which were allegedly unearthed by a member of his staff upon his instruction. In those affidavits, both David Manzano and Luzviminda Payao expressly stated that they were married to Herminia Borja and Domingo Relos, respectively; and that since their respective marriages had been marked by constant quarrels, they had both left their families and had never cohabited or communicated with their spouses anymore. Respondent Judge alleges that on the basis of those affidavits, he agreed to solemnize the marriage in question in accordance with Article 34 of the Family Code. We find merit in the complaint. Article 34 of the Family Code provides: No license shall be necessary for the marriage of a man and a woman who have lived together as husband and wife for at least five years and without any legal impediment to marry each other. The contracting parties shall state the foregoing facts in an affidavit before any person authorized by law to administer oaths. The solemnizing officer shall also state under oath that he ascertained the qualifications of the contracting parties and found no legal impediment to the marriage. For this provision on legal ratification of marital cohabitation to apply, the following requisites must concur: 1. The man and woman must have been living together as husband and wife for at least five years before the marriage; 2. The parties must have no legal impediment to marry each other; 3. The fact of absence of legal impediment between the parties must be present at the time of marriage; 4. The parties must execute an affidavit stating that they have lived together for at least five years [and are without legal impediment to marry each other]; and 5. The solemnizing officer must execute a sworn statement that he had ascertained the qualifications of the parties and 6 that he had found no legal impediment to their marriage. Not all of these requirements are present in the case at bar. It is significant to note that in their separate affidavits executed on 22 March 1993 and sworn to before respondent Judge himself, David Manzano and Luzviminda Payao expressly stated the fact of their prior existing marriage. Also, in their marriage contract, it was indicated that both were "separated." Respondent Judge knew or ought to know that a subsisting previous marriage is a diriment impediment, which would make the 7 subsequent marriage null and void. In fact, in his Comment, he stated that had he known that the late Manzano was married he would have discouraged him from contracting another marriage. And respondent Judge cannot deny knowledge of Manzanos and

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

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A.M. No. MTJ-00-1329 March 8, 2001 (Formerly A.M. No. OCA IPI No. 99-706-MTJ) HERMINIA BORJA-MANZANO, petitioner, vs. JUDGE ROQUE R. SANCHEZ, MTC, Infanta, Pangasinan, respondent. RESOLUTION DAVIDE, JR., C.J.: The solemnization of a marriage between two contracting parties who were both bound by a prior existing marriage is the bone of contention of the instant complaint against respondent Judge Roque R. Sanchez, Municipal Trial Court, Infanta, Pangasinan. For this act, complainant Herminia Borja-Manzano charges respondent Judge with gross ignorance of the law in a sworn Complaint-Affidavit filed with the Office of the Court Administrator on 12 May 1999. Complainant avers that she was the lawful wife of the late David Manzano, having been married to him on 21 May 1966 in San 1 2 Gabriel Archangel Parish, Araneta Avenue, Caloocan City. Four children were born out of that marriage. On 22 March 1993, 3 however, her husband contracted another marriage with one Luzviminda Payao before respondent Judge. When respondent Judge solemnized said marriage, he knew or ought to know that the same was void and bigamous, as the marriage contract clearly stated that both contracting parties were "separated." Respondent Judge, on the other hand, claims in his Comment that when he officiated the marriage between Manzano and Payao he did not know that Manzano was legally married. What he knew was that the two had been living together as husband and wife for 4 seven years already without the benefit of marriage, as manifested in their joint affidavit. According to him, had he known that the late Manzano was married, he would have advised the latter not to marry again; otherwise, he (Manzano) could be charged with bigamy. He then prayed that the complaint be dismissed for lack of merit and for being designed merely to harass him. After an evaluation of the Complaint and the Comment, the Court Administrator recommended that respondent Judge be found guilty of gross ignorance of the law and be ordered to pay a fine of P2,000, with a warning that a repetition of the same or similar act would be dealt with more severely. On 25 October 2000, this Court required the parties to manifest whether they were willing to submit the case for resolution on the basis of the pleadings thus filed. Complainant answered in the affirmative. For his part, respondent Judge filed a Manifestation reiterating his plea for the dismissal of the complaint and setting aside his 5 earlier Comment. He therein invites the attention of the Court to two separate affidavits of the late Manzano and of Payao, which were allegedly unearthed by a member of his staff upon his instruction. In those affidavits, both David Manzano and Luzviminda Payao expressly stated that they were married to Herminia Borja and Domingo Relos, respectively; and that since their respective marriages had been marked by constant quarrels, they had both left their families and had never cohabited or communicated with their spouses anymore. Respondent Judge alleges that on the basis of those affidavits, he agreed to solemnize the marriage in question in accordance with Article 34 of the Family Code. We find merit in the complaint. Article 34 of the Family Code provides: No license shall be necessary for the marriage of a man and a woman who have lived together as husband and wife for at least five years and without any legal impediment to marry each other. The contracting parties shall state the foregoing facts in an affidavit before any person authorized by law to administer oaths. The solemnizing officer shall also state under oath that he ascertained the qualifications of the contracting parties and found no legal impediment to the marriage. For this provision on legal ratification of marital cohabitation to apply, the following requisites must concur: 1. The man and woman must have been living together as husband and wife for at least five years before the marriage; 2. The parties must have no legal impediment to marry each other; 3. The fact of absence of legal impediment between the parties must be present at the time of marriage; 4. The parties must execute an affidavit stating that they have lived together for at least five years [and are without legal impediment to marry each other]; and 5. The solemnizing officer must execute a sworn statement that he had ascertained the qualifications of the parties and 6 that he had found no legal impediment to their marriage. Not all of these requirements are present in the case at bar. It is significant to note that in their separate affidavits executed on 22 March 1993 and sworn to before respondent Judge himself, David Manzano and Luzviminda Payao expressly stated the fact of their prior existing marriage. Also, in their marriage contract, it was indicated that both were "separated." Respondent Judge knew or ought to know that a subsisting previous marriage is a diriment impediment, which would make the 7 subsequent marriage null and void. In fact, in his Comment, he stated that had he known that the late Manzano was married he would have discouraged him from contracting another marriage. And respondent Judge cannot deny knowledge of Manzanos and

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

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G.R. No. 133778

March 14, 2000

ENGRACE NIAL for Herself and as Guardian ad Litem of the minors BABYLINE NIAL, INGRID NIAL, ARCHIE NIAL & PEPITO NIAL, JR., petitioners, vs. NORMA BAYADOG, respondent. YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.: May the heirs of a deceased person file a petition for the declaration of nullity of his marriage after his death? Pepito Nial was married to Teodulfa Bellones on September 26, 1974. Out of their marriage were born herein petitioners. Teodulfa was shot by Pepito resulting in her death on April 24, 1985. One year and 8 months thereafter or on December 11, 1986, Pepito and respondent Norma Badayog got married without any marriage license. In lieu thereof, Pepito and Norma executed an affidavit dated December 11, 1986 stating that they had lived together as husband and wife for at least five years and were thus exempt from securing a marriage license. On February 19, 1997, Pepito died in a car accident. After their father's death, petitioners filed a petition for declaration of nullity of the marriage of Pepito to Norma alleging that the said marriage was void for lack of a marriage license. The case was filed under the assumption that the validity or invalidity of the second marriage would affect petitioner's successional rights. Norma filed a motion to dismiss on the ground that petitioners have no cause of action since they are not among the persons who could file an action for "annulment of marriage" under Article 47 of the Family Code. Judge Ferdinand J. Marcos of the Regional Trial Court of Toledo City, Cebu, Branch 59, dismissed the petition after finding that the Family Code is "rather silent, obscure, insufficient" to resolve the following issues: (1) Whether or not plaintiffs have a cause of action against defendant in asking for the declaration of the nullity of marriage of their deceased father, Pepito G. Nial, with her specially so when at the time of the filing of this instant suit, their father Pepito G. Nial is already dead; (2) Whether or not the second marriage of plaintiffs' deceased father with defendant is null and void ab initio; (3) Whether or not plaintiffs are estopped from assailing the validity of the second marriage after it was dissolved due to their father's death. 1 Thus, the lower court ruled that petitioners should have filed the action to declare null and void their father's marriage to respondent before his death, applying by analogy Article 47 of the Family Code which enumerates the time and the persons who could initiate an action for annulment of marriage. 2 Hence, this petition for review with this Court grounded on a pure question of law. This petition was originally dismissed for non-compliance with Section 11, Rule 13 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, and because "the verification failed to state the basis of petitioner's averment that the allegations in the petition are "true and correct"." It was thus treated as an unsigned pleading which produces no legal effect under Section 3, Rule 7, of the 1997 Rules. 3 However, upon motion of petitioners, this Court reconsidered the dismissal and reinstated the petition for review. 4 The two marriages involved herein having been solemnized prior to the effectivity of the Family Code (FC), the applicable law to determine their validity is the Civil Code which was the law in effect at the time of their celebration. 5 A valid marriage license is a requisite of marriage under Article 53 of the Civil Code, 6 the absence of which renders the marriage void ab initio pursuant to Article 80(3) 7 in relation to Article 58. 8 The requirement and issuance of marriage license is the State's demonstration of its involvement and participation in every marriage, in the maintenance of which the general public is interested. 9 This interest proceeds from the constitutional mandate that the State recognizes the sanctity of family life and of affording protection to the family as a basic "autonomous social institution." 10 Specifically, the Constitution considers marriage as an "inviolable social institution," and is the foundation of family life which shall be protected by the State. 11 This is why the Family Code considers marriage as "a special contract of permanent union" 12 and case law considers it "not just an adventure but a lifetime commitment." 13 However, there are several instances recognized by the Civil Code wherein a marriage license is dispensed with, one of which is that provided in Article 76, 14 referring to the marriage of a man and a woman who have lived together and exclusively with each other as husband and wife for a continuous and unbroken period of at least five years before the marriage. The rationale why no license is required in such case is to avoid exposing the parties to humiliation, shame and embarrassment concomitant with the scandalous cohabitation of persons outside a valid marriage due to the publication of every applicant's name for a marriage license. The publicity attending the marriage license may discourage such persons from legitimizing their status. 15 To preserve peace in the family, avoid the peeping and suspicious eye of public exposure and contain the source of gossip arising from the publication of their names, the law deemed it wise to preserve their privacy and exempt them from that requirement. There is no dispute that the marriage of petitioners' father to respondent Norma was celebrated without any marriage license. In lieu thereof, they executed an affidavit stating that "they have attained the age of majority, and, being unmarried, have lived together as husband and wife for at least five years, and that we now desire to marry each other." 16 The only issue that needs to be resolved pertains to what nature of cohabitation is contemplated under Article 76 of the Civil Code to warrant the counting of the five year period in order to exempt the future spouses from securing a marriage license. Should it be a cohabitation wherein both parties are capacitated to marry each other during the entire five-year continuous period or should it be a cohabitation wherein both parties have lived together and exclusively with each other as husband and wife during the entire five-year continuous period regardless of whether there is a legal impediment to their being lawfully married, which impediment may have either disappeared or intervened sometime during the cohabitation period?

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Working on the assumption that Pepito and Norma have lived together as husband and wife for five years without the benefit of marriage, that five-year period should be computed on the basis of a cohabitation as "husband and wife" where the only missing factor is the special contract of marriage to validate the union. In other words, the five-year common-law cohabitation period, which is counted back from the date of celebration of marriage, should be a period of legal union had it not been for the absence of the marriage. This 5-year period should be the years immediately before the day of the marriage and it should be a period of cohabitation characterized by exclusivity meaning no third party was involved at anytime within the 5 years and continuity that is unbroken. Otherwise, if that continuous 5-year cohabitation is computed without any distinction as to whether the parties were capacitated to marry each other during the entire five years, then the law would be sanctioning immorality and encouraging parties to have common law relationships and placing them on the same footing with those who lived faithfully with their spouse. Marriage being a special relationship must be respected as such and its requirements must be strictly observed. The presumption that a man and a woman deporting themselves as husband and wife is based on the approximation of the requirements of the law. The parties should not be afforded any excuse to not comply with every single requirement and later use the same missing element as a pre-conceived escape ground to nullify their marriage. There should be no exemption from securing a marriage license unless the circumstances clearly fall within the ambit of the exception. It should be noted that a license is required in order to notify the public that two persons are about to be united in matrimony and that anyone who is aware or has knowledge of any impediment to the union of the two shall make it known to the local civil registrar. 17 The Civil Code provides: Art. 63: . . . This notice shall request all persons having knowledge of any impediment to the marriage to advice the local civil registrar thereof. . . . Art. 64: Upon being advised of any alleged impediment to the marriage, the local civil registrar shall forthwith make an investigation, examining persons under oath. . . . This is reiterated in the Family Code thus: Art. 17 provides in part: . . . This notice shall request all persons having knowledge of any impediment to the marriage to advise the local civil registrar thereof. . . . Art. 18 reads in part: . . . In case of any impediment known to the local civil registrar or brought to his attention, he shall note down the particulars thereof and his findings thereon in the application for a marriage license. . . . This is the same reason why our civil laws, past or present, absolutely prohibited the concurrence of multiple marriages by the same person during the same period. Thus, any marriage subsequently contracted during the lifetime of the first spouse shall be illegal and void, 18 subject only to the exception in cases of absence or where the prior marriage was dissolved or annulled. The Revised Penal Code complements the civil law in that the contracting of two or more marriages and the having of extramarital affairs are considered felonies, i.e., bigamy and concubinage and adultery. 19 The law sanctions monogamy. In this case, at the time of Pepito and respondent's marriage, it cannot be said that they have lived with each other as husband and wife for at least five years prior to their wedding day. From the time Pepito's first marriage was dissolved to the time of his marriage with respondent, only about twenty months had elapsed. Even assuming that Pepito and his first wife had separated in fact, and thereafter both Pepito and respondent had started living with each other that has already lasted for five years, the fact remains that their five-year period cohabitation was not the cohabitation contemplated by law. It should be in the nature of a perfect union that is valid under the law but rendered imperfect only by the absence of the marriage contract. Pepito had a subsisting marriage at the time when he started cohabiting with respondent. It is immaterial that when they lived with each other, Pepito had already been separated in fact from his lawful spouse. The subsistence of the marriage even where there was actual severance of the filial companionship between the spouses cannot make any cohabitation by either spouse with any third party as being one as "husband and wife". Having determined that the second marriage involved in this case is not covered by the exception to the requirement of a marriage license, it is void ab initio because of the absence of such element. The next issue to be resolved is: do petitioners have the personality to file a petition to declare their father's marriage void after his death? Contrary to respondent judge's ruling, Article 47 of the Family Code 20 cannot be applied even by analogy to petitions for declaration of nullity of marriage. The second ground for annulment of marriage relied upon by the trial court, which allows "the sane spouse" to file an annulment suit "at anytime before the death of either party" is inapplicable. Article 47 pertains to the grounds, periods and persons who can file an annulment suit, not a suit for declaration of nullity of marriage. The Code is silent as to who can file a petition to declare the nullity of a marriage. Voidable and void marriages are not identical. A marriage that is annulable is valid until otherwise declared by the court; whereas a marriage that is void ab initio is considered as having never to have taken place21 and cannot be the source of rights. The first can be generally ratified or confirmed by free cohabitation or prescription while the other can never be ratified. A voidable marriage cannot be assailed collaterally except in a direct proceeding while a void marriage can be attacked collaterally. Consequently, void marriages can be questioned even after the death of either party but voidable marriages can be assailed only during the lifetime of the parties and not after death of either, in which case the parties and their offspring will be left as if the marriage had been perfectly valid. 22 That is why the action or defense for nullity is imprescriptible, unlike voidable marriages where the action prescribes. Only the parties to a voidable marriage can assail it but any proper interested party may attack a void marriage. Void marriages have no legal effects except those declared by law concerning the properties of the alleged spouses, regarding co-ownership or ownership through actual joint contribution, 23 and its effect on the children born to such void marriages as provided in Article 50 in relation to Article 43 and 44 as well as Article 51, 53 and 54 of the Family Code. On the contrary, the property regime governing voidable marriages is generally conjugal partnership and the children conceived before its annulment are legitimate.

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Contrary to the trial court's ruling, the death of petitioner's father extinguished the alleged marital bond between him and respondent. The conclusion is erroneous and proceeds from a wrong premise that there was a marriage bond that was dissolved between the two. It should be noted that their marriage was void hence it is deemed as if it never existed at all and the death of either extinguished nothing. Jurisprudence under the Civil Code states that no judicial decree is necessary in order to establish the nullity of a marriage. 24 "A void marriage does not require a judicial decree to restore the parties to their original rights or to make the marriage void but though no sentence of avoidance be absolutely necessary, yet as well for the sake of good order of society as for the peace of mind of all concerned, it is expedient that the nullity of the marriage should be ascertained and declared by the decree of a court of competent jurisdiction." 25 "Under ordinary circumstances, the effect of a void marriage, so far as concerns the conferring of legal rights upon the parties, is as though no marriage had ever taken place. And therefore, being good for no legal purpose, its invalidity can be maintained in any proceeding in which the fact of marriage may be material, either direct or collateral, in any civil court between any parties at any time, whether before or after the death of either or both the husband and the wife, and upon mere proof of the facts rendering such marriage void, it will be disregarded or treated as non-existent by the courts." It is not like a voidable marriage which cannot be collaterally attacked except in direct proceeding instituted during the lifetime of the parties so that on the death of either, the marriage cannot be impeached, and is made good ab initio. 26 But Article 40 of the Family Code expressly provides that there must be a judicial declaration of the nullity of a previous marriage, though void, before a party can enter into a second marriage 27 and such absolute nullity can be based only on a final judgment to that effect. 28 For the same reason, the law makes either the action or defense for the declaration of absolute nullity of marriage imprescriptible. 29 Corollarily, if the death of either party would extinguish the cause of action or the ground for defense, then the same cannot be considered imprescriptible. However, other than for purposes of remarriage, no judicial action is necessary to declare a marriage an absolute nullity. 1wphi1 For other purposes, such as but not limited to determination of heirship, legitimacy or illegitimacy of a child, settlement of estate, dissolution of property regime, or a criminal case for that matter, the court may pass upon the validity of marriage even in a suit not directly instituted to question the same so long as it is essential to the determination of the case. This is without prejudice to any issue that may arise in the case. When such need arises, a final judgment of declaration of nullity is necessary even if the purpose is other than to remarry. The clause "on the basis of a final judgment declaring such previous marriage void" in Article 40 of the Family Code connotes that such final judgment need not be obtained only for purpose of remarriage. WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The assailed Order of the Regional Trial Court, Toledo City, Cebu, Branch 59, dismissing Civil Case No. T-639, is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The said case is ordered REINSTATED. 1wphi1.nt SO ORDERED.

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G.R. No. 154380 October 5, 2005 REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, Petitioner, vs. CIPRIANO ORBECIDO III, Respondent. DECISION QUISUMBING, J.: Given a valid marriage between two Filipino citizens, where one party is later naturalized as a foreign citizen and obtains a valid divorce decree capacitating him or her to remarry, can the Filipino spouse likewise remarry under Philippine law? Before us is a case of first impression that behooves the Court to make a definite ruling on this apparently novel question, presented as a pure question of law. In this petition for review, the Solicitor General assails the Decision1 dated May 15, 2002, of the Regional Trial Court of Molave, Zamboanga del Sur, Branch 23 and its Resolution2 dated July 4, 2002 denying the motion for reconsideration. The court a quo had declared that herein respondent Cipriano Orbecido III is capacitated to remarry. The fallo of the impugned Decision reads: WHEREFORE, by virtue of the provision of the second paragraph of Art. 26 of the Family Code and by reason of the divorce decree obtained against him by his American wife, the petitioner is given the capacity to remarry under the Philippine Law. IT IS SO ORDERED.3 The factual antecedents, as narrated by the trial court, are as follows. On May 24, 1981, Cipriano Orbecido III married Lady Myros M. Villanueva at the United Church of Christ in the Philippines in Lam-an, Ozamis City. Their marriage was blessed with a son and a daughter, Kristoffer Simbortriz V. Orbecido and Lady Kimberly V. Orbecido. In 1986, Ciprianos wife left for the United States bringing along their son Kristoffer . A few years later, Cipriano discovered that his wife had been naturalized as an American citizen. Sometime in 2000, Cipriano learned from his son that his wife had obtained a divorce decree and then married a certain Innocent Stanley. She, Stanley and her child by him currently live at 5566 A. Walnut Grove Avenue, San Gabriel, California. Cipriano thereafter filed with the trial court a petition for authority to remarry invoking Paragraph 2 of Article 26 of the Family Code. No opposition was filed. Finding merit in the petition, the court granted the same. The Republic, herein petitioner, through the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), sought reconsideration but it was denied. In this petition, the OSG raises a pure question of law: WHETHER OR NOT RESPONDENT CAN REMARRY UNDER ARTICLE 26 OF THE FAMILY CODE 4 The OSG contends that Paragraph 2 of Article 26 of the Family Code is not applicable to the instant case because it only applies to a valid mixed marriage; that is, a marriage celebrated between a Filipino citizen and an alien. The proper remedy, according to the OSG, is to file a petition for annulment or for legal separation.5 Furthermore, the OSG argues there is no law that governs respondents situation. The OSG posits that this is a matter of legislation and not of judicial determination. 6 For his part, respondent admits that Article 26 is not directly applicable to his case but insists that when his naturalized alien wife obtained a divorce decree which capacitated her to remarry, he is likewise capacitated by operation of law pursuant to Section 12, Article II of the Constitution.7 At the outset, we note that the petition for authority to remarry filed before the trial court actually constituted a petition for declaratory relief. In this connection, Section 1, Rule 63 of the Rules of Court provides: RULE 63 DECLARATORY RELIEF AND SIMILAR REMEDIES Section 1. Who may file petitionAny person interested under a deed, will, contract or other written instrument, or whose rights are affected by a statute, executive order or regulation, ordinance, or other governmental regulation may, before breach or violation thereof, bring an action in the appropriate Regional Trial Court to determine any question of construction or validity arising, and for a declaration of his rights or duties, thereunder. ... The requisites of a petition for declaratory relief are: (1) there must be a justiciable controversy; (2) the controversy must be between persons whose interests are adverse; (3) that the party seeking the relief has a legal interest in the controversy; and (4) that the issue is ripe for judicial determination.8 This case concerns the applicability of Paragraph 2 of Article 26 to a marriage between two Filipino citizens where one later acquired alien citizenship, obtained a divorce decree, and remarried while in the U.S.A. The interests of the parties are also adverse, as petitioner representing the State asserts its duty to protect the institution of marriage while respondent, a private citizen, insists on a declaration of his capacity to remarry. Respondent, praying for relief, has legal interest in the controversy. The issue raised is also ripe for judicial determination inasmuch as when respondent remarries, litigation ensues and puts into question the validity of his second marriage. Coming now to the substantive issue, does Paragraph 2 of Article 26 of the Family Code apply to the case of respondent? Necessarily, we must dwell on how this provision had come about in the first place, and what was the intent of the legislators in its enactment? Brief Historical Background

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On July 6, 1987, then President Corazon Aquino signed into law Executive Order No. 209, otherwise known as the "Family Code," which took effect on August 3, 1988. Article 26 thereof states: All marriages solemnized outside the Philippines in accordance with the laws in force in the country where they were solemnized, and valid there as such, shall also be valid in this country, except those prohibited under Articles 35, 37, and 38. On July 17, 1987, shortly after the signing of the original Family Code, Executive Order No. 227 was likewise signed into law, amending Articles 26, 36, and 39 of the Family Code. A second paragraph was added to Article 26. As so amended, it now provides: ART. 26. All marriages solemnized outside the Philippines in accordance with the laws in force in the country where they were solemnized, and valid there as such, shall also be valid in this country, except those prohibited under Articles 35(1), (4), (5) and (6), 36, 37 and 38. Where a marriage between a Filipino citizen and a foreigner is validly celebrated and a divorce is thereafter validly obtained abroad by the alien spouse capacitating him or her to remarry, the Filipino spouse shall have capacity to remarry under Philippine law . (Emphasis supplied) On its face, the foregoing provision does not appear to govern the situation presented by the case at hand. It seems to apply only to cases where at the time of the celebration of the marriage, the parties are a Filipino citizen and a foreigner. The instant case is one where at the time the marriage was solemnized, the parties were two Filipino citizens, but later on, the wife was naturalized as an American citizen and subsequently obtained a divorce granting her capacity to remarry, and indeed she remarried an American citizen while residing in the U.S.A. Noteworthy, in the Report of the Public Hearings9 on the Family Code, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) registered the following objections to Paragraph 2 of Article 26: 1. The rule is discriminatory. It discriminates against those whose spouses are Filipinos who divorce them abroad. These spouses who are divorced will not be able to re-marry, while the spouses of foreigners who validly divorce them abroad can. 2. This is the beginning of the recognition of the validity of divorce even for Filipino citizens. For those whose foreign spouses validly divorce them abroad will also be considered to be validly divorced here and can re-marry. We propose that this be deleted and made into law only after more widespread consultation. (Emphasis supplied.) Legislative Intent Records of the proceedings of the Family Code deliberations showed that the intent of Paragraph 2 of Article 26, according to Judge Alicia Sempio-Diy, a member of the Civil Code Revision Committee, is to avoid the absurd situation where the Filipino spouse remains married to the alien spouse who, after obtaining a divorce, is no longer married to the Filipino spouse. Interestingly, Paragraph 2 of Article 26 traces its origin to the 1985 case of Van Dorn v. Romillo, Jr.10 The Van Dorn case involved a marriage between a Filipino citizen and a foreigner. The Court held therein that a divorce decree validly obtained by the alien spouse is valid in the Philippines, and consequently, the Filipino spouse is capacitated to remarry under Philippine law. Does the same principle apply to a case where at the time of the celebration of the marriage, the parties were Filipino citizens, but later on, one of them obtains a foreign citizenship by naturalization? The jurisprudential answer lies latent in the 1998 case of Quita v. Court of Appeals.11 In Quita, the parties were, as in this case, Filipino citizens when they got married. The wife became a naturalized American citizen in 1954 and obtained a divorce in the same year. The Court therein hinted, by way of obiter dictum, that a Filipino divorced by his naturalized foreign spouse is no longer married under Philippine law and can thus remarry. Thus, taking into consideration the legislative intent and applying the rule of reason, we hold that Paragraph 2 of Article 26 should be interpreted to include cases involving parties who, at the time of the celebration of the marriage were Filipino citizens, but later on, one of them becomes naturalized as a foreign citizen and obtains a divorce decree. The Filipino spouse should likewise be allowed to remarry as if the other party were a foreigner at the time of the solemnization of the marriage. To rule otherwise would be to sanction absurdity and injustice. Where the interpretation of a statute according to its exact and literal import would lead to mischievous results or contravene the clear purpose of the legislature, it should be construed according to its spirit and reason, disregarding as far as necessary the letter of the law. A statute may therefore be extended to cases not within the literal meaning of its terms, so long as they come within its spirit or intent.12 If we are to give meaning to the legislative intent to avoid the absurd situation where the Filipino spouse remains married to the alien spouse who, after obtaining a divorce is no longer married to the Filipino spouse, then the instant case must be deemed as coming within the contemplation of Paragraph 2 of Article 26. In view of the foregoing, we state the twin elements for the application of Paragraph 2 of Article 26 as follows: 1. There is a valid marriage that has been celebrated between a Filipino citizen and a foreigner; and 2. A valid divorce is obtained abroad by the alien spouse capacitating him or her to remarry. The reckoning point is not the citizenship of the parties at the time of the celebration of the marriage, but their citizenship at the time a valid divorce is obtained abroad by the alien spouse capacitating the latter to remarry. In this case, when Ciprianos wife was naturalized as an American citizen, there was still a valid marriage tha t has been celebrated between her and Cipriano. As fate would have it, the naturalized alien wife subsequently obtained a valid divorce capacitating her to remarry. Clearly, the twin requisites for the application of Paragraph 2 of Article 26 are both present in this case. Thus Cipriano, the "divorced" Filipino spouse, should be allowed to remarry.

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We are also unable to sustain the OSGs theory that the proper remedy of the Filipino spouse is to file either a petition for annulment or a petition for legal separation. Annulment would be a long and tedious process, and in this particular case, not even feasible, considering that the marriage of the parties appears to have all the badges of validity. On the other hand, legal separation would not be a sufficient remedy for it would not sever the marriage tie; hence, the legally separated Filipino spouse would still remain married to the naturalized alien spouse. However, we note that the records are bereft of competent evidence duly submitted by respondent concerning the divorce decree and the naturalization of respondents wife. It is settled rule that one who alleges a fact has the burden of proving it and mere all egation is not evidence.13 Accordingly, for his plea to prosper, respondent herein must prove his allegation that his wife was naturalized as an American citizen. Likewise, before a foreign divorce decree can be recognized by our own courts, the party pleading it must prove the divorce as a fact and demonstrate its conformity to the foreign law allowing it.14 Such foreign law must also be proved as our courts cannot take judicial notice of foreign laws. Like any other fact, such laws must be alleged and proved.15 Furthermore, respondent must also show that the divorce decree allows his former wife to remarry as specifically required in Article 26. Otherwise, there would be no evidence sufficient to declare that he is capacitated to enter into another marriage. Nevertheless, we are unanimous in our holding that Paragraph 2 of Article 26 of the Family Code (E.O. No. 209, as amended by E.O. No. 227), should be interpreted to allow a Filipino citizen, who has been divorced by a spouse who had acquired foreign citizenship and remarried, also to remarry. However, considering that in the present petition there is no sufficient evidence submitted and on record, we are unable to declare, based on respondents bare allegations that his wife, who was naturalized as an American citizen, had obtained a divorce decree and had remarried an American, that respondent is now capacitated to remarry. Such declaration could only be made properly upon respondents submission of the aforecited evidence in his favor. ACCORDINGLY, the petition by the Republic of the Philippines is GRANTED. The assailed Decision dated May 15, 2002, and Resolution dated July 4, 2002, of the Regional Trial Court of Molave, Zamboanga del Sur, Branch 23, are hereby SET ASIDE. No pronouncement as to costs. SO ORDERED.

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A.M. No. RTJ-12-2326 January 30, 2013 (Formerly A.M. OCA I.P.I. No. 11-3692-RTJ) GEOFFREY BECKETT, Complainant, vs. JUDGE OLEGARIO R. SARMIENTO, JR., Regional Trial Court, Branch 24, Cebu City, Respondent. DECISION VELASCO, JR., J.: In all questions relating to the care, custody, education and property of the children, the latter's welfare is paramount. This means that the best interest of the minor can override procedural rules and even the rights of parents to the custody of their children. Since, in this case, the very life and existence of the minor is at stake and the child is in an age when she can exercise an intelligent choice, the courts can do no less than respect, enforce and give meaning and substance to that choice and uphold her right to live in an atmosphere conducive to her physical, moral and intellectual development.1 x x x The Case This case arose from a complaint filed by Geoffrey Beckett charging Judge Olegario R. Sarmiento, Jr. of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Cebu City, Branch 24, with gross ignorance of the law, manifest partiality and dereliction and neglect of duty allegedly committed in relation to Sp. Proc. No. 18182-CEB, entitled Geoffrey Beckett v. Eltesa Densing Beckett, while pending before that court. The Antecedent Facts Geoffrey Beckett (Beckett or Complainant), an Australian national, was previously married to Eltesa Densing Beckett (Eltesa), a Filipina. Out of the marriage was born on June 29, 2001, Geoffrey Beckett, Jr. (Geoffrey, Jr.). In his Complaint-Affidavit,2 Beckett alleged that their union was, from the start, far from ideal. In fact, according to him, they eventually separated and, worse still, they sued each other. In 2006, Eltesa filed a case against Beckett for violation of Republic Act No. (RA) 7610, otherwise known as the Violence against Women and Children Act, followed by a suit for the declaration of nullity of their marriage, docketed as Civil Case No. CEB -32254. Both cases ended in the sala of Judge Olegario Sarmiento, Jr. (respondent or Judge Sarmiento). For his part, Beckett commenced criminal charges against Eltesa, one of which was for adultery. The couples initial legal battle ended when Judge Sarmiento, on September 25, 2006 in Civil Case No. CEB -32254, rendered judgment3 based on a compromise agreement in which Eltesa and Beckett agreed and undertook, among others, to cause the dismissal of all pending civil and criminal cases each may have filed against the other. They categorically agreed too that Beckett shall have full and permanent custody over Geoffrey, Jr., then five (5) years old, subject to the visitorial rights of Eltesa. Thereafter, Beckett left for Australia, taking Geoffrey, Jr. with him. As with his three other children from previous relationships, so Beckett alleged, he cared and provided well for Geoffrey, Jr. Moreover, as agreed upon, they would come and see Eltesa in Cebu every Christmas. In 2007, Beckett obtained a divorce from Eltesa in Australia. This notwithstanding, the yearly Christmas visits continued. In the 2010 visit, Beckett consented to have Geoffrey, Jr. stay with Eltesa even after the holidays, provided she return the child on January 9, 2011. January 9 came and went but Geoffrey, Jr. remained with Eltesa, prompting Beckett to file a petition against Eltesa for violation of RA 7610. Docketed as Sp. Proc. No. 18182-CEB,4 this petition was again raffled to the sala of Judge Sarmiento. And because Geoffrey remained in the meantime in the custody of Eltesa, Beckett later applied in Sp. Proc. No. 18182-CEB for the issuance of a writ of habeas corpus. Beckett further relates that, during the March 1, 2011 conference on the application for habeas corpus, Geoffrey, Jr., then nine (9) years old, displayed inside the courtroom hysterical conduct, shouting and crying, not wanting to let go of Eltesa and acting as though, he, the father, was a total stranger. Despite Geoffrey Jr.s outburst, Judge Sarmiento issued an Order5, dated March 1, 2011, directing inter alia the following: (1) Eltesa to return Geoffrey, Jr. to Beckett; and (2) Beckett to bring the child in the pre-trial conference set for March 15, 2001. For some reason, the turnover of Geoffrey, Jr. to Beckett did not materialize. Beckett also alleged that while waiting for the March 15, 2011 pre-trial conference to start, he saw one Helen Sy, purportedly a close friend of Eltesa, enter Judge Sarmientos chambers. Then, during the conference itself, Eltesa moved for reconsideration of the courts March 1, 2011 Order, praying that it be set aside insofar as it directed her to return the custody of Geoffrey, Jr. to Beckett. To this partial motion, Beckett requested, and was granted, a period of five (5) days to file his comment/opposition. Additionally, Beckett sought the immediate implementation of the said March 1, 2011 Order. But instead of enforcing said order and/or waiting for Becketts comment, Judge Sarmiento, in open court, issued another order giving Eltesa provisional custody over Geoffrey, Jr. and at the same time directing the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to conduct a social case study on the child. Weeks later, or in the March 30, 2011 setting, Beckett moved for the reconsideration of the judges March 15, 2011 Order, on the main contention that Judge Sarmiento can no longer grant provisional custody to Eltesa in light of the adverted judgment on compromise agreement. Also, according to him, during this March 30 proceeding, respondent judge conversed with Eltesa in Cebuano, a dialect which neither the former nor his counsel understood, and which they (respondent and Eltesa) persisted on using despite requests that they communicate in English or Filipino. Becketts lawyer then asked that he be allowed to confer in private with his client for a few minutes but when they returned to the courtroom, the proceedings had already been adjourned. As his motion for reconsideration had remained unresolved as of June 13, 2011, Beckett filed on that day an urgent motion to resolve. Several hearings on the case were postponed because of the belated submission by the DSWD of the case study report requested by respondent judge.

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It is upon the foregoing factual backdrop that Beckett has instituted the instant complaint, docketed as A.M. OCA IPI No. 11-3692- RTJ, later redocketed as A.M. No. RTJ-12-2326. As argued, respondent is liable for (1) gross ignorance of the law for granting Eltesa provisional custody over Geoffrey Jr.; and (2) partiality by committing acts of serious misconduct and irregularities in the performance of official duties, such as but not limited to allowing one Helen Sy to enter his chambers before the March 15, 2011 hearing, his habit of conversing with Eltesa in the local dialect and for adjourning a hearing while he was conferring with his counsel in private. Beckett predicates his charge of dereliction and neglect of duty on respondents alleged failure to resolve his motion for reconsideration of the March 15, 20 11 order giving provisional custody of his child to his mother. In his answer in response to the 1st Indorsement dated July 14, 2011 of the Office of the Court of Administrator (OCA), respondent judge denied complainants allegations of partiality and of being biased against the latter, particularly describing his order gran ting Eltesa provisional custody as proper. In this regard, respondent judge averred that, per his Order of March 30, 2011, he deferred action on Becketts motion for reconsideration of the courts March 15, 2011 Order pending submission of the Social Case Study Report, while the June 21, 2011 Order denying Becketts said motion for reconsideration was based on that Social Case Study Report6 of Social Welfare Officer Clavel Saycon, DWSD- Region VII, who recommended that Geoffrey, Jr. be in the care and custody of the mother. As an added observation, respondent judge stated that Beckett did not cry "Bias" when he (respondent) approved the compromise agreement in Civil Case CEB 32254 and when he later urged Beckett to commence habeas corpus proceedings. Attached to the letter-answer are the case study reports submitted by the DSWD regional office, one of which was prepared by psychologist Christine V. Duhaylungsod, 7 who elicited from Geoffrey, Jr. the following information: that (1) complainant always leaves him to the care of his older half-brother or his fathers girlfriends; (2) he was at one time sent out of the house by one of complainants girlfriends and he had to stay in the garage alone; and (3) he never wanted to stay with complainant whom he feared and who once locked him in his room without food. In their respective reports, Dr. Obra and Dr. Saycon, a psychiatrist, both strongly recommended that custody over Geoffrey, Jr. be given to Eltesa. Respondent judge also denied knowing one Helen Sy adverted to in the basic complaint and explained in some detail why he spoke at one instance to Eltesa in Cebuano. He closed with a statement that he issued his assailed Orders in good faith and that he had, as sought by complainant, inhibited himself from further hearing SP Proc. No. 18182-CEB. In the Agenda Report dated March 8, 2012, the OCA regards the complaint meritorious insofar as the charges for gross ignorance of the law is concerned given that respondent judge issued his March 15, 2011 Order granting provisional custody in favor of Eltesa despite the existence of the judicial compromise. The OCA, thus, recommended that respondent judge be adjudged liable for gross ignorance of the law and fined with stern warning. The inculpatory portions of the OCAs evaluation report pertinently read: x x x A compromise agreement that is intended to resolve a matter already under litigation is normally called a judicial compromise. Once it is stamped with judicial imprimatur, it becomes more than a mere contract binding upon the parties. x x x It has the force of and effect of any other judgment. x x x Thus, a compromise agreement that has been made and duly approved by the court attains the effect and authority of res judicata x x x. xxxx The pertinent portion of the judgment on Compromise Agreement x x x, which granted and transferred permanent custody of Geoffrey, Jr. to the herein complainant is unequivocal. Moreover, the same order even allowed complainant to bring with him Geoffrey, Jr. to Australia. Thus, in granting Geoffrey, Jr.s custody to his mother in an Order issued on 15 March 2011 on a mere Motion for Partial Reco nsideration, respondent judge violated a basic and fundamental principle of res judicata. When the law is elementary, not to be aware of it constitutes gross ignorance thereof. After all, judges are expected to have more than just a modicum of acquaintance with the statutes and procedural rules. Hence, the respondent judge is guilty of gross ignorance of the law.8 The OCA, however, effectively recommends the dismissal of the charge of manifest partiality and other offenses for want of sufficient substantiation, noting that the complainant has failed to adduce substantial evidence to overcome the presumption of regularity in the performance of judicial duties. Anent the charge of Manifest Partiality, this Office finds the same not supported by substantial evidence. In administrative proceedings, the complainant bears the onus of establishing, by substantial evidence, the averments in his complaint. Complainant failed to present substantial evidence to show the alleged partiality and ignorance of respondent judge, Mere suspicion that a judge is biased is not enough. Bare allegations of partiality will not suffice in the absence of clear showing that will overcome the presumption that the judge dispensed justice without fear or favor.9 The Court also notes that, contrary to complainants pretense, respondent judge had acted on his motion for reconsideration of the contentious March 15, 2011 Order. The OCAs recommendation for the dismissal of the complaint insofar as it charges respondent judge with manifest partiality a nd dereliction and neglect of duties is well-taken. The Court cannot presume partiality and serious misconduct and irregularities based on circumstances alleged in the complaint. Moreover, for serious misconduct to obtain, the judicial act/s complained of should be corrupt or inspired by an intention to violate the law or persistent disregard of well-known legal precepts.10 Nothing in the records tends to suggest that respondent judge was actuated by malice or corrupt motives in issuing his disputed March 15, 2011 order granting Eltesa custody of Geoffrey, Jr. despite the adverted compromise agreement. The Issue The remaining issue then boils down to whether or not respondent Judge Sarmiento is guilty of gross ignorance of the law. The Courts Ruling

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Gross ignorance of the law on the part of a judge presupposes an appalling lack of familiarity with simple rules of law or procedures and well-established jurisprudence which tends to erode the public trust in the competence and fairness of the court which he personifies. Not to know the law as basic, almost elementary, as the Rules of Court, or acting in disregard of established rule of law as if he were not aware of the same constitutes gross ignorance whence no one is excused, especially an RTC judge.11 Complainant has charged respondent judge with gross ignorance of the law. He states in this regard that respondent judge, in arbitrary defiance of his own Decision of September 25, 2006 which constitutes res judicata or a bar to him to pass upon the issue of G eoffrey, Jrs. custody, granted, via his March 15, 2011 Order, provisional custody over Geoffrey, Jr. to Eltesa. The Decision adverted to refers to the judgment on compromise agreement. The Court cannot go along with complainants above posture. Respondent judge, in granting provisional custody over Geoffrey, Jr. in favor of his mother, Eltesa, did not disregard the res judicata rule. The more appropriate description of the legal situation engendered by the March 15, 2011 Order issued amidst the persistent plea of the child not to be returned to his father, is that respondent judge exhibited fidelity to jurisprudential command to accord primacy to the welfare and interest of a minor child. As it were, the matter of custody, to borrow from Espiritu v. Court of Appeals, 12 "is not permanent and unalterable and can always be re-examined and adjusted." And as aptly observed in a separate opinion in Dacasin v. Dacasin, 13 a custody agreement can never be regarded as "permanent and unbending," the simple reason being that the situation of the parents and even of the child can change, such that sticking to the agreed arrangement would no longer be to the latters best interest. In a very real sense, then, a judgment involving the custody of a minor child cannot be accorded the force and effect of res judicata. Now to another point. In disputes concerning post-separation custody over a minor, the well-settled rule is that no child under seven (7) years of age shall be separated from the mother, unless the court finds compelling reasons to order otherwise. 14 And if already over 7 years of age, the childs choice as to which of his parents he prefers to be under custody shall be respected, unless the parent ch osen proves to be unfit.15 Finally, in Perez v. Court of Appeals,16 We held that in custody cases, the foremost consideration is always the welfare and best interest of the child, as reflected in no less than the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child which provides that "in all actions concerning children, whether undertaken by public or private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities or legislative bodies, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration." 17 In the light of the foregoing, respondent judge cannot be held guilty of the charges hurled by the complainant against him for the reason that absent a finding of strong reasons to rule otherwise, the preference of a child over 7 years of age as to whom he desired to live with shall be respected. Moreover, custody, even if previously granted by a competent court in favor of a parent, is not, to reiterate, permanent. In Espiritu,18 We ruled that: x x x The matter of custody is not permanent and unalterable.1wphi1 If the parent who was given custody suffers a future character change and becomes unfit, the matter of custody can always be re-examined and adjusted x x x. To be sure, the welfare, the best interests, the benefit, and the good of the child must be determined as of the time that either parent is chosen to be the custodian. x x x As Rosalind and Reginald Espiritu in Espiritu,19 Geoffrey, Jr., at the time when he persistently refused to be turned over to his father, was already over 7 years of age. As such, he was very much capable of deciding, based on his past experiences, with whom he wanted to stay. Noteworthy too are the results of the interviews which were reflected in the three reports previously mentioned, excerpts from which are hereunder quoted, to wit: x x x In so far as Geoffrey, Jr.s account of experience, being with his fathers custody is something that he is afraid of and something he does not want to happen again. However, being with his mother is the one (sic) he is looking to (sic) and aspires. 20 xxxx x x x Being in the custody of his mother is something (sic) he feel (sic) secure and protected and this is manifested in the childs c raving for his mothers presence all the time and the desire to be always with her that even (sic) he sleeps he wants his mother to embrace and hug him and cries when he wakes up and he cannot see his mother.21 xxxx x x x He locked me in the room. He always leave (sic) me. x x x they keep fighting, Daddy and his girlfriend ... they'll get angry with (sic) me ... I'm scared with (sic) Daddy.22 xxxx Meanwhile, Ms. Barbo (the caregiver or yaya of Geoffrey, Jr.), expressed peculiarities, "Sa Daddy niya, he dd (sic) not fear his mom. Sa mommy niya, he fear (sic) his dad."23 With these, We see no reason to sustain the charge against respondent judge for gross ignorance of the law. For clearly, absent any evidence to the contrary, Geoffrey, Jr. chose to live with his mother for a reason, which respondent judge, consistent with the promotion of the best interest of the child, provisionally granted through the issuance of the disputed March 15, 2011 Order. In fact, in issuing the disputed Order, respondent judge rectified an error previously made when he handed out the Judgment on Compromise Agreement in 2006. WHEREFORE, premises considered, the complaint is hereby DISMISSED. SO ORDERED.

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G.R. No. 126603 June 29, 1998 ESTRELLITA J. TAMANO, petitioner, vs. HON. RODOLFO A. ORTIZ, Presiding Judge, RTC-Br. 89, Quezon City, HAJA PUTRI ZORAYDA A. TAMANO, ADIB A. TAMANO and the HON. COURT OF APPEALS, respondents. BELLOSILLO, J.: This Petition for Review on Certiorari seeks to reverse and set aside the decision of the Court of Appeals of 30 September 1996 in CAG.R. SP. No. 39656 which affirmed the decision of the Regional Trial Court-Br. 89, Quezon City, denying the motion to dismiss as well as the motion for reconsideration filed by petitioner Estrellita J. Tamano. On 31 May 1958 Senator Mamintal Abdul Jabar Tamano (Tamano) married private respondent Haja Putri Zorayda A. Tamano (Zorayda) in civil rites. Their marriage supposedly remained valid and subsisting until his death on 18 May 1994. Prior to his death, particularly on 2 June 1993, Tamano also married petitioner Estrellita J. Tamano (Estrellita) in civil rites in Malabang, Lanao del Sur. On 23 November 1994 private respondent Zorayda joined by her son Adib A. Tamano (Adib) filed a Complaint for Declaration of Nullify of Marriage of Tamano and Estrellita on the ground that it was bigamous. They contended that Tamano and Estrellita misrepresented themselves as divorced and single, respectively, thus making the entries in the marriage contract false and fraudulent. Private respondents alleged that Tamano never divorced Zorayda and that Estrellita was not single when she married Tamano as the decision annulling her previous marriage with Romeo C. Llave never became final and executory for non-compliance with publication requirements. Estrellita filed a motion to dismiss alleging that the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City was without jurisdiction over the subject and nature of the action. She alleged that "only a party to the marriage" could file an action for annulment of marriage against the other 1 spouse, hence, it was only Tamano who could file an action for annulment of their marriage. Petitioner likewise contended that since Tamano and Zorayda were both Muslims and married in Muslim rites the jurisdiction to hear and try the instant case was vested in the shari'a courts pursuant to Art. 155 of the Code of Muslim Personal Laws. The lower court denied the motion to dismiss and ruled that the instant case was properly cognizable by the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City since Estrellita and Tamano were married in accordance with the Civil Code and not exclusively in accordance with PD 2 No. 1083 or the Code of Muslim Personal laws. The motion for reconsideration was likewise denied; hence, petitioner filed the instant petition with this Court seeking to set aside the 18 July 1995 order of respondent presiding judge of the RTC-Br. 89, Quezon City, denying petitioner's motion to dismiss and the 22 August 1995 order denying reconsideration thereof. In a Resolution dated 13 December 1995 we referred the case to the Court of Appeals for consolidation with G.R. No. 118371. Zorayda and Adib A. Tamano however filed a motion, which the Court of Appeals granted, to resolve the Complaint for Declaration of Nullity of Marriage ahead of the other consolidated cases. The Court of Appeals ruled that the instant case would fall under the exclusive jurisdiction of shari'a courts only when filed in places where there are shari'a court. But in places where there are no shari'a courts, like Quezon City, the instant case could properly be filed before the Regional Trial Court. Petitioner is now before us reiterating her earlier argument that it is the shari'a court and not the Regional Trial Court which has jurisdiction over the subject and nature of the action. Under The Judiciary Reorganization Act of 1980, Regional Trial Courts have jurisdiction over all actions involving the contract of 4 marriage and marital relations. Personal actions, such as the instant complaint for declaration of nullity of marriage, may be commenced and tried where the plaintiff or any of the principal plaintiffs resides, or where the defendant or any of the principal 5 defendants resides, at the election of the plaintiff. There should be no question by now that what determines the nature of an 6 action and correspondingly the court which has jurisdiction over it are the allegations made by the plaintiff in this case. In the complaint for declaration of nullity of marriage filed by private respondents herein, it was alleged that Estrellita and Tamano were married in accordance with the provisions of the Civil Code. Never was it mentioned that Estrellita and Tamano were married under Muslim laws or PD No. 1083. Interestingly, Estrellita never stated in her Motion to Dismiss that she and Tamano were married under Muslim laws. That she was in fact married to Tamano under Muslim laws was first mentioned only in her Motion for Reconsideration. Nevertheless, the Regional Trial Court was not divested of jurisdiction to hear and try the instant case despite the allegation in the Motion for Reconsideration that Estrellita and Tamano were likewise married in Muslim rites. This is because a court's jurisdiction cannot be made to depend upon defenses set up in the answer, in a motion to dismiss, or in a motion for 7 reconsideration, but only upon the allegations of the complaint. Jurisdiction over the subject matter of a case is determined from the allegations of the complaint as the latter comprises a concise statement of the ultimate facts constituting the plaintiff's causes of 8 action.
3

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Petitioner argues that the shari'a courts have jurisdiction over the instant suit pursuant to Art. 13, Title II, PD No. 1083, which provides Art. 13. Application. (1) The provisions of this Title shall apply to marriage and divorce wherein both parties are Muslims, or wherein only the male party is a Muslim and the marriage is solemnized in accordance with Muslim law or this Code in any part of the Philippines. (2) In case of a marriage between a Muslim and a non-Muslim, solemnized not in accordance with Muslim law or this Code, the Civil Code of the Philippines shall apply. (3) Subject to the provisions of the preceding paragraphs, the essential requisites and legal impediments to marriage, divorce, paternity and filiation, guardianship and custody of minors, support and maintenance, claims for customary dower (mahr), betrothal, breach of contract to marry, solemnization and registration of marriage and divorce, rights and obligations between husband and wife, parental authority, and the property relations between husband and wife shall be governed by this Code and other applicable Muslim laws. As alleged in the complaint, petitioner and Tamano were married in accordance with the Civil Code. Hence, contrary to the position of petitioner, the Civil Code is applicable in the instant case. Assuming that indeed petitioner and Tamano were likewise married under Muslim laws, the same would still fall under the general original jurisdiction of the Regional Trial Courts. Article 13 of PD No. 1083 does not provide for a situation where the parties were married both in civil and Muslim rites. Consequently, the shari'a courts are not vested with original and exclusive jurisdiction when it comes to marriages celebrated under both civil and Muslim laws. Consequently, the Regional Trial Courts are not divested of their general original jurisdiction under Sec. 19, par. (6) of BP Blg. 129 which provides Sec. 19. Jurisdiction in Civil Cases. Regional Trial Courts shall exercise exclusive original jurisdiction: . . . (6) In all cases not within the exclusive jurisdiction of any court, tribunal, person or body exercising judicial or quasi-judicial functions . . . WHEREFORE, the instant petition is DENIED. The decision of the Court of Appeals sustaining the 18 July 1995 and 22 August 1995 orders of the Regional Trial Court Br. 89, Quezon City, denying the motion to dismiss and reconsideration thereof, is AFFIRMED. Let the records of this case be immediately remanded to the court of origin for further proceedings until terminated. SO ORDERED.

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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 marriage be declared null and void. 1 The Republic of the Philippines opposed the petition through the Provincial Prosecutor of Antique who had been deputized to assist the Solicitor-General in the instant case. The Republic argued, first, that Nolasco did not possess a "well-founded belief that the absent spouse was already dead," 2 and second, Nolasco's attempt to have his marriage annulled in the same proceeding was a "cunning attempt" to circumvent the law on marriage. 3 During trial, respondent Nolasco testified that he was a seaman and that he had first met Janet Monica Parker, a British subject, in a bar in England during one of his ship's port calls. From that chance meeting onwards, Janet Monica Parker lived with respondent Nolasco on his ship for six (6) months until they returned to respondent's hometown of San Jose, Antique on 19 November 1980 after his seaman's contract expired. On 15 January 1982, respondent married Janet Monica Parker in San Jose, Antique, in Catholic rites officiated by Fr. Henry van Tilborg in the Cathedral of San Jose. Respondent Nolasco further testified that after the marriage celebration, he obtained another employment contract as a seaman and left his wife with his parents in San Jose, Antique. Sometime in January 1983, while working overseas, respondent received a letter from his mother informing him that Janet Monica had given birth to his son. The same letter informed him that Janet Monica had left Antique. Respondent claimed he then immediately asked permission to leave his ship to return home. He arrived in Antique in November 1983. Respondent further testified that his efforts to look for her himself whenever his ship docked in England proved fruitless. He also stated that all the letters he had sent to his missing spouse at No. 38 Ravena Road, Allerton, Liverpool, England, the address of the bar where he and Janet Monica first met, were all returned to him. He also claimed that he inquired from among friends but they too had no news of Janet Monica. On cross-examination, respondent stated that he had lived with and later married Janet Monica Parker despite his lack of knowledge as to her family background. He insisted that his wife continued to refuse to give him such information even after they were married. He also testified that he did not report the matter of Janet Monica's disappearance to the Philippine government authorities. Respondent Nolasco presented his mother, Alicia Nolasco, as his witness. She testified that her daughter-in-law Janet Monica had expressed a desire to return to England even before she had given birth to Gerry Nolasco on 7 December 1982. When asked why her daughter-in-law might have wished to leave Antique, respondent's mother replied that Janet Monica never got used to the rural way of life in San Jose, Antique. Alicia Nolasco also said that she had tried to dissuade Janet Monica from leaving as she had given birth to her son just fifteen days before, but when she (Alicia) failed to do so, she gave Janet Monica P22,000.00 for her expenses before she left on 22 December 1982 for England. She further claimed that she had no information as to the missing person's present whereabouts. The trial court granted Nolasco's petition in a Judgment dated 12 October 1988 the dispositive portion of which reads: Wherefore, under Article 41, paragraph 2 of the Family Code of the Philippines (Executive Order No. 209, July 6, 1987, as amended by Executive Order No. 227, July 17, 1987) this Court hereby declares as presumptively dead Janet Monica Parker Nolasco, without prejudice to her reappearance. 4 The Republic appealed to the Court of Appeals contending that the trial court erred in declaring Janet Monica Parker presumptively dead because respondent Nolasco had failed to show that there existed a well founded belief for such declaration. The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court's decision, holding that respondent had sufficiently established a basis to form a belief that his absent spouse had already died. The Republic, through the Solicitor-General, is now before this Court on a Petition for Review where the following allegations are made: 1. The Court of Appeals erred in affirming the trial court's finding that there existed a well-founded belief on the part of Nolasco that Janet Monica Parker was already dead; and 2. The Court of Appeals erred in affirming the trial Court's declaration that the petition was a proper case of the declaration of presumptive death under Article 41, Family Code. 5 The issue before this Court, as formulated by petitioner is "[w]hether or not Nolasco has a well-founded belief that his wife is already dead." 6 The present case was filed before the trial court pursuant to Article 41 of the Family Code which provides that:

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Art. 41. A marriage contracted by any person during the subsistence of a previous marriage shall be null and void, unless before the celebration of the subsequent marriage, the prior spouse had been absent for four consecutive years and the spouse present had a well-founded belief that the absent spouse was already dead. In case of disappearance where there is danger of death under the circumstances set forth in the provision of Article 391 of the Civil Code, an absence of only two years shall be sufficient. For the purpose of contracting the subsequent marriage under the preceding paragraph, the spouse present must institute a summary proceeding as provided in this Code for the declaration of presumptive death of the absentee, without prejudice to the effect of reappearance of the absent spouse. (Emphasis supplied). When Article 41 is compared with the old provision of the Civil Code, which it superseded, 7 the following crucial differences emerge. Under Article 41, the time required for the presumption to arise has been shortened to four (4) years; however, there is need for a judicial declaration of presumptive death to enable the spouse present to remarry. 8 Also, Article 41 of the Family Code imposes a stricter standard than the Civil Code: Article 83 of the Civil Code merely requires either that there be no news that such absentee is still alive; or the absentee is generally considered to be dead and believed to be so by the spouse present, or is presumed dead under Article 390 and 391 of the Civil Code. 9 The Family Code, upon the other hand, prescribes as "well founded belief" that the absentee is already dead before a petition for declaration of presumptive death can be granted. As pointed out by the Solicitor-General, there are four (4) requisites for the declaration of presumptive death under Article 41 of the Family Code: 1. That the absent spouse has been missing for four consecutive years, or two consecutive years if the disappearance occurred where there is danger of death under the circumstances laid down in Article 391, Civil Code; 2. That the present spouse wishes to remarry; 3. That the present spouse has a well-founded belief that the absentee is dead; and 4. That the present spouse files a summary proceeding for the declaration of presumptive death of the absentee. 10 Respondent naturally asserts that he had complied with all these requirements. 11 Petitioner's argument, upon the other hand, boils down to this: that respondent failed to prove that he had complied with the third requirement, i.e., the existence of a "well-founded belief" that the absent spouse is already dead. The Court believes that respondent Nolasco failed to conduct a search for his missing wife with such diligence as to give rise to a "wellfounded belief" that she is dead. United States v. Biasbas, 12 is instructive as to degree of diligence required in searching for a missing spouse. In that case, defendant Macario Biasbas was charged with the crime of bigamy. He set-up the defense of a good faith belief that his first wife had already died. The Court held that defendant had not exercised due diligence to ascertain the whereabouts of his first wife, noting that: While the defendant testified that he had made inquiries concerning the whereabouts of his wife, he fails to state of whom he made such inquiries. He did not even write to the parents of his first wife, who lived in the Province of Pampanga, for the purpose of securing information concerning her whereabouts. He admits that he had a suspicion only that his first wife was dead. He admits that the only basis of his suspicion was the fact that she had been absent. . . . 13 In the case at bar, the Court considers that the investigation allegedly conducted by respondent in his attempt to ascertain Janet Monica Parker's whereabouts is too sketchy to form the basis of a reasonable or well-founded belief that she was already dead. When he arrived in San Jose, Antique after learning of Janet Monica's departure, instead of seeking the help of local authorities or of the British Embassy, 14 he secured another seaman's contract and went to London, a vast city of many millions of inhabitants, to look for her there. Q After arriving here in San Jose, Antique, did you exert efforts to inquire the whereabouts of your wife? A Yes, Sir. Court: How did you do that? A I secured another contract with the ship and we had a trip to London and I went to London to look for her I could not find her (sic). 15 (Emphasis supplied) Respondent's testimony, however, showed that he confused London for Liverpool and this casts doubt on his supposed efforts to locate his wife in England. The Court of Appeal's justification of the mistake, to wit: . . . Well, while the cognoscente (sic) would readily know the geographical difference between London and Liverpool, for a humble seaman like Gregorio the two places could mean one place in England, the port where his ship docked and where he found Janet. Our own provincial folks, every time they leave home to visit relatives in Pasay City, Kalookan City, or Paraaque, would announce to friends and relatives, "We're going to Manila." This apparent error in naming of places of destination does not appear to be fatal. 16 is not well taken. There is no analogy between Manila and its neighboring cities, on one hand, and London and Liverpool, on the other, which, as pointed out by the Solicitor-General, are around three hundred fifty (350) kilometers apart. We do not consider that walking into a major city like Liverpool or London with a simple hope of somehow bumping into one particular person there which is in effect what Nolasco says he did can be regarded as a reasonably diligent search.

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The Court also views respondent's claim that Janet Monica declined to give any information as to her personal background even after she had married respondent 17 too convenient an excuse to justify his failure to locate her. The same can be said of the loss of the alleged letters respondent had sent to his wife which respondent claims were all returned to him. Respondent said he had lost these returned letters, under unspecified circumstances. Neither can this Court give much credence to respondent's bare assertion that he had inquired from their friends of her whereabouts, considering that respondent did not identify those friends in his testimony. The Court of Appeals ruled that since the prosecutor failed to rebut this evidence during trial, it is good evidence. But this kind of evidence cannot, by its nature, be rebutted. In any case, admissibility is not synonymous with credibility. 18 As noted before, there are serious doubts to respondent's credibility. Moreover, even if admitted as evidence, said testimony merely tended to show that the missing spouse had chosen not to communicate with their common acquaintances, and not that she was dead. Respondent testified that immediately after receiving his mother's letter sometime in January 1983, he cut short his employment contract to return to San Jose, Antique. However, he did not explain the delay of nine (9) months from January 1983, when he allegedly asked leave from his captain, to November 1983 when be finally reached San Jose. Respondent, moreover, claimed he married Janet Monica Parker without inquiring about her parents and their place of residence. 19 Also, respondent failed to explain why he did not even try to get the help of the police or other authorities in London and Liverpool in his effort to find his wife. The circumstances of Janet Monica's departure and respondent's subsequent behavior make it very difficult to regard the claimed belief that Janet Monica was dead a well-founded one. In Goitia v. Campos-Rueda, 20 the Court stressed that: . . . Marriage is an institution, the maintenance of which in its purity the public is deeply interested. It is a relationship for life and the parties cannot terminate it at any shorter period by virtue of any contract they make . . . . . 21 (Emphasis supplied) By the same token, the spouses should not be allowed, by the simple expedient of agreeing that one of them leave the conjugal abode and never to return again, to circumvent the policy of the laws on marriage. The Court notes that respondent even tried to have his marriage annulled before the trial court in the same proceeding. In In Re Szatraw, 22 the Court warned against such collusion between the parties when they find it impossible to dissolve the marital bonds through existing legal means. While the Court understands the need of respondent's young son, Gerry Nolasco, for maternal care, still the requirements of the law must prevail. Since respondent failed to satisfy the clear requirements of the law, his petition for a judicial declaration of presumptive death must be denied. The law does not view marriage like an ordinary contract. Article 1 of the Family Code emphasizes that. . . . Marriage is a special contract of permanent union between a man and a woman entered into in accordance with law for the establishment of conjugal and family life. It is the foundation of the familyand an inviolable social institution whose nature, consequences, and incidents are governed by law and not subject to stipulation, except that marriage settlements may fix the property relations during the marriage within the limits provided by this Code. (Emphasis supplied) In Arroyo, Jr. v. Court of Appeals, 23 the Court stressed strongly the need to protect. . . . the basic social institutions of marriage and the family in the preservation of which the State bas the strongest interest; the public policy here involved is of the most fundamental kind. In Article II, Section 12 of the Constitution there is set forth the following basic state policy: The State recognizes the sanctity of family life and shall protect and strengthen the family as a basic autonomous social institution. . . . The same sentiment bas been expressed in the Family Code of the Philippines in Article 149: The family, being the foundation of the nation, is a basic social institution which public policy cherishes and protects. Consequently, family relations are governed by law and no custom, practice or agreement destructive of the family shall be recognized or given effect. 24 In fine, respondent failed to establish that he had the well-founded belief required by law that his absent wife was already dead that would sustain the issuance of a court order declaring Janet Monica Parker presumptively dead. WHEREFORE, the Decision of the Court of Appeals dated 23 February 1990, affirming the trial court's decision declaring Janet Monica Parker presumptively dead is hereby REVERSED and both Decisions are hereby NULLIFIED and SET ASIDE. Costs against respondent.

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G.R. No. 103047 September 2, 1994 REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioner, vs. COURT OF APPEALS AND ANGELINA M. CASTRO, respondents. Parungao, Abesamis, Eleazar & Pulgar Law Offices for private respondent. PUNO, J.: The case at bench originated from a petition filed by private respondent Angelina M. Castro in the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City seeking a judicial declaration of nullity of her marriage to Edwin F. Cardenas. 1 As ground therefor, Castro claims that no marriage license was ever issued to them prior to the solemnization of their marriage. Despite notice, defendant Edwin F. Cardenas failed to file his answer. Consequently, he was declared in default. Trial proceeded in his absence. The controlling facts are undisputed: On June 24, 1970, Angelina M. Castro and Edwin F. Cardenas were married in a civil ceremony performed by Judge Pablo M. Malvar, City Court Judge of Pasay City. The marriage was celebrated without the knowledge of Castro's parents. Defendant Cardenas personally attended to the processing of the documents required for the celebration of the marriage, including the procurement of the marriage, license. In fact, the marriage contract itself states that marriage license no. 3196182 was issued in the name of the contracting parties on June 24, 1970 in Pasig, Metro Manila. The couple did not immediately live together as husband and wife since the marriage was unknown to Castro's parents. Thus, it was only in March 1971, when Castro discovered she was pregnant, that the couple decided to live together. However, their cohabitation lasted only for four (4) months. Thereafter, the couple parted ways. On October 19, 1971, Castro gave birth. The baby was adopted by Castro's brother, with the consent of Cardenas. The baby is now in the United States. Desiring to follow her daughter, Castro wanted to put in order her marital status before leaving for the States. She thus consulted a lawyer, Atty. Frumencio E. Pulgar, regarding the possible annulment of her marriage. Through her lawyer's efforts, they discovered that there was no marriage license issued to Cardenas prior to the celebration of their marriage. As proof, Angelina Castro offered in evidence a certification from the Civil Register of Pasig, Metro Manila. It reads: February 20, 1987 TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN: This is to certify that the names EDWIN F. CARDENAS and ANGELINA M. CASTRO who were allegedly married in the Pasay City Court on June 21, 1970 under an alleged (s)upportive marriage license no. 3196182 allegedly issued in the municipality on June 20, 1970 cannot be located as said license no . 3196182 does not appear from our records. Issued upon request of Mr. Ed Atanacio. (Sgd) CENONA D. QUINTO S Senior Civil Registry Officer Castro testified that she did not go to the civil registrar of Pasig on or before June 24, 1970 in order to apply for a license. Neither did she sign any application therefor. She affixed her signature only on the marriage contract on June 24, 1970 in Pasay City. The trial court denied the petition. 2 It held that the above certification was inadequate to establish the alleged non-issuance of a marriage license prior to the celebration of the marriage between the parties. It ruled that the "inability of the certifying official to locate the marriage license is not conclusive to show that there was no marriage license issued." Unsatisfied with the decision, Castro appealed to respondent appellate court. She insisted that the certification from the local civil registrar sufficiently established the absence of a marriage license. As stated earlier, respondent appellate court reversed the Decision of the trial court. 3 It declared the marriage between the contracting parties null and void and directed the Civil Registrar of Pasig to cancel the subject marriage contract. Hence this petition for review on certiorari. Petitioner Republic of the Philippines urges that respondent appellate court erred when it ruled that the certification issued by the civil registrar that marriage license no. 3196182 was not in their record adequately proved that no such license was ever issued. Petitioner also faults the respondent court for relying on the self-serving and uncorroborated testimony of private respondent Castro that she had no part

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in the procurement of the subject marriage license. Petitioner thus insists that the certification and the uncorroborated testimony of private respondent are insufficient to overthrow the legal presumption regarding the validity of a marriage. Petitioner also points that in declaring the marriage between the parties as null and void, respondent appellate court disregarded the presumption that the solemnizing officer, Judge Pablo M. Malvar, regularly performed his duties when he attested in the marriage contract that marriage license no. 3196182 was duly presented to him before the solemnization of the subject marriage. The issues, being interrelated, shall be discussed jointly. The core issue presented by the case at bench is whether or not the documentary and testimonial evidence presented by private respondent are sufficient to establish that no marriage license was issued by the Civil Registrar of Pasig prior to the celebration of the marriage of private respondent to Edwin F. Cardenas. We affirm the impugned Decision. At the time the subject marriage was solemnized on June 24, 1970, the law governing marital relations was the New Civil Code. The law 4 provides that no marriage shall be solemnized without a marriage license first issued by a local civil registrar. Being one of the essential requisites of a valid marriage, absence of a license would render the marriage void ab initio. 5 Petitioner posits that the certification of the local civil registrar of due search and inability to find a record or entry to the effect that marriage license no. 3196182 was issued to the parties is not adequate to prove its non-issuance. We hold otherwise. The presentation of such certification in court is sanctioned by Section 29, Rule 132 of the Rules of Court, viz.: Sec. 29. Proof of lack of record. A written statement signed by an officer having custody of an official record or by his deputy, that after diligent search, no record or entry of a specified tenor is found to exist in the records of his office, accompanied by a certificate as above provided, is admissible as evidence that the records of his office contain no such record or entry. The above Rule authorized the custodian of documents to certify that despite diligent search, a particular document does not exist in his office or that a particular entry of a specified tenor was not to be found in a register. As custodians of public documents, civil registrars are public officers charged with the duty, inter alia, of maintaining a register book where they are required to enter all applications for marriage licenses, including the names of the applicants, the date the marriage license was issued and such other relevant data. 6 The certification of "due search and inability to find" issued by the civil registrar of Pasig enjoys probative value, he being the officer charged under the law to keep a record of all data relative to the issuance of a marriage license. Unaccompanied by any circumstance of suspicion and pursuant to Section 29, Rule 132 of the Rules of Court, a certificate of "due search and inability to find" sufficiently proved that his office did not issue marriage license no. 3196182 to the contracting parties. The fact that private respondent Castro offered only her testimony in support of her petition is, in itself, not a ground to deny her petition. The failure to offer any other witness to corroborate her testimony is mainly due to the peculiar circumstances of the case. It will be remembered that the subject marriage was a civil ceremony performed by a judge of a city court. The subject marriage is one of those commonly known as a "secret marriage" a legally non-existent phrase but ordinarily used to refer to a civil marriage celebrated without the knowledge of the relatives and/or friends of either or both of the contracting parties. The records show that the marriage between Castro and Cardenas was initially unknown to the parents of the former. Surely, the fact that only private respondent Castro testified during the trial cannot be held against her. Her husband, Edwin F. Cardenas, was duly served with notice of the proceedings and a copy of the petition. Despite receipt thereof, he chose to ignore the same. For failure to answer, he was properly declared in default. Private respondent cannot be faulted for her husband's lack of interest to participate in the proceedings. There was absolutely no evidence on record to show that there was collusion between private respondent and her husband Cardenas. It is noteworthy to mention that the finding of the appellate court that the marriage between the contracting parties is null and void for lack of a marriage license does not discount the fact that indeed, a spurious marriage license, purporting to be issued by the civil registrar of Pasig, may have been presented by Cardenas to the solemnizing officer. In fine, we hold that, under the circumstances of the case, the documentary and testimonial evidence presented by private respondent Castro sufficiently established the absence of the subject marriage license. IN VIEW WHEREOF, the petition is DENIED there being no showing of any reversible error committed by respondent appellate court. SO ORDERED.

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