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Abunado vs.

People (426 SCRA 562)


Petitioners: Salvador S. Abunado & Zanaida B. Abunado Respondent: People of the Philippines Nature of the case: This Petition for Review on Certiorari seeks to reverse and set aside the decision1 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. No. 26135 which affirmed with modification the decision of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 77, San Mateo, Rizal in Criminal Case No. 2803 convicting petitioner Salvador S. Abunado of bigamy. FACTS: 1967, September 18. Salvador married Narcisa Arceo at the Manila City Hall before Rev. Pedro Tiangco. 1988. Narcisa left for Japan to work but returned to the Philippines in 1992, when she learned that her husband was having an extra-marital affair and has left their conjugal home. Narcisa found Salvador in Quezon City cohabiting with Fe Corazon Plato. 1989, January 10. Salvador contracted a second marriage with a certain Zenaida Bias before Judge Lilian Dinulos Panontongan in San Mateo, Rizal.
(Salvador admitted that he first married Zenaida on December 24, 1955 before a municipal trial court judge in Concepcion, Iloilo and has four children with her prior to their separation in 1966. There was no evidence of their 1955 marriage so he and Zenaida remarried on January 10, 1989, upon the request of their son for the purpose of complying with the requirements for his commission in the military.)

1995, January 19. Salvador filed an annullment case against Narcisa. 1999, October 29. Salvador eventually obtained a judicial declaration of nullity of his marriage to Narcisa. 2001, May 18. The trial court convicted petitioner Salvador Abunado of bigamy and sentenced him to suffer imprisonment of 6 years and 1 day as minimum, to 8 years and 1 day as maximum. Petitioner Zenaida Bias was acquitted for insufficiency of evidence.

Issue: Whether the second marriage of Abunado to Bias on 10 January 1989 constitutes the crime of bigamy under Article 3491 of the Revised Penal Code. Ruling: YES. Salvador Abunado is guilty of Bigamy.

Racio Decidendi: Under the Family Code, before one can contract a second marriage on the ground of nullity of the first marriage, one must first secure a final judgment declaring the first marriage void. As provided in Article 40, FC: The absolute nullity of a previous marriage may be invoked for purposes of remarriage on the basis solely of a final judgment declaring such previous marriage void. The Family Code took effect on 3 August 1988, before the second marriage of Abunado on 10 January 1989. Prior to the Family Code, one could contract a subsequent marriage on the ground of nullity of the previous marriage without first securing a judicial annulment of the previous marriage. Now, one must first secure a final judicial declaration of nullity of the previous marriage before he is freed from the marital bond or vinculum of the previous marriage. If he fails to secure a judicial declaration of nullity and contracts a second marriage, then the second marriage becomes bigamous. Article 40 of the Family Code applies only to a situation where the previous marriage suffers from nullity while the second marriage does not. Under Article 40, what requires a judicial declaration of nullity is the previous marriage, not the subsequent marriage. Article 40 does not apply to a situation where the first marriage does not suffer from any defect while the second is void. Dispositive: WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 26135, finding petitioner Salvador S. Abunado guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of bigamy is AFFIRMED. The appellant, now 76 years of age, is hereby sentenced to suffer an indeterminate prison term of two 2 years, 4 months, and 1 day of prision correccional as minimum to 6 years and 1day of prision mayor as Maximum.