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G.R. No.

104528

January 18, 1996

PHILIPPINE NATIONAL BANK, petitioner, vs. OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT, HOUSING AND LAND USE REGULATORY BOARD, ALFONSO MAGLAYA, ANGELINA MAGLAYA P. REYES, JORGE C. BERNARDINO, CORAZON DE LEON, VICTORIANO ACAYA, FLORENCIA CULTURA, MARIA CAMPOS, ERNESTO SARMIENTO SANTIAGO TAMONAN, APOLONIA TADIAQUE, SIMEON DE LEON, NATIVIDAD J. CRUZ, NATIVIDAD B. LORESCO, FELICIDAD GARCIA, ANA ANITA TAN, LUCAS SERVILLION, JOSE NARAWAL, represented by their duly authorized Attorney-in-Fact, CORAZON DE LEON AND SPOUSES LEOPOLDO AND CARMEN SEBASTIAN, respondents. RESOLUTION PANGANIBAN, J.: May a buyer of a property at a foreclosure sale dispossess prior purchasers on installment of individual lots therein, or compel them to pay again for the lots which they previously bought from the defaulting mortgagor-subdivision developer, on the theory that P.D. 957, "The Subdivision and Condominium Buyers' Protective Decree", is not applicable to the mortgage contract in question, the same having been executed prior to the enactment of P.D. 957? This is the question confronting the Court in this Petition challenging the Decision dated March 10, 1992 of the Office of the President of the Philippines in O.P. Case No. 4249, signed by the Executive Secretary, Franklin M. Drilon, "by authority of the President." Private respondents were buyers on installment of subdivision lots from Marikina Village, Inc. (represented by spouses Antonio and Susana Astudillo). Notwithstanding the land purchase agreements it executed over said lots, the subdivision developer mortgaged the lots in favor of the petitioner, Philippine National Bank. Unaware of this mortgage, private respondents duly complied with their obligations as lot buyers and constructed their houses on the lots in question. Subsequently, the subdivision developer defaulted and PNB foreclosed on the mortgage. As highest bidder at the foreclosure sale, the bank became owner of the lots. Acting on suits brought by private respondents (which were later consolidated), the HLURB Office of Appeals, Adjudication and Legal Affairs (OAALA) in a decision rendered on October 28, 1988 ruled that PNB - without prejudice to seeking relief against Marikina Village, Inc. - may collect from private respondents only the "remaining amortizations, in accordance with the land purchase agreements they had previously entered into with" Marikina Village, Inc., and cannot compel private respondents to pay all over again for the lots they had already bought from said subdivision developer. On May 2, 1989, the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board affirmed this decision. On March 10, 1992, the Office of the President, invoking P.D. 957, likewise concurred with the HLURB. Hence, the present recourse to this Court. Under Revised Administrative Circular No. 1-95, "appeals from judgments or final orders of the . . . Office of the President . . . may be taken to the Court of Appeals . . ." However, in order to hasten the resolution of this case, which was deemed submitted for decision three years ago, the Court resolved to make an exception to the said Circular in the interest of speedy justice. Petitioner bank raised the following issues: 1. The Office of the President erred in applying P.D. 957 because said law was enacted only on July 12, 1976, while the subject mortgage was executed on December 18, 1975; and 2. Petitioner Bank is not privy to the contracts between private respondents and mortgagor-subdivision developer, hence, the Office of the President erred in ordering petitioner Bank to accept private respondents' remaining amortizations and issue the corresponding titles after payment thereof. Normally, pursuant to Article 4 of the Civil Code, "(l)aws shall have no retroactive effect, unless the contrary is provided." However, it is obvious and indubitable that P.D. 957 was intended to cover even those real estate mortgages, like the one at issue here, executed prior to its enactment, and such intent (as succinctly captured in the preamble quoted below) must be given effect if the laudable purpose of protecting innocent purchasers is to be achieve: WHEREAS, it is the policy of the State to afford its inhabitants the requirements of decent human settlement and to provide them with ample opportunities for improving their quality of life;

WHEREAS, numerous reports reveal that many real estate subdivision owners, developers, operators, and/or sellers have reneged on their representations and, obligations to provide and maintain properly subdivision roads, drainage, sewerage, water systems, lighting systems, and other similar basic requirements, thus endangering the health and safety of home and lot buyers; WHEREAS, reports of alarming magnitude also show cases of swindling and fraudulent manipulations perpetrated by unscrupulous subdivision and condominium sellers and operators, such as failure to deliver titles to the buyers or titles free from liens and encumbrances, and to pay real estate taxes, and fraudulent sales of the same subdivision lots to different innocent purchasers for value;1 (Emphasis supplied). While P.D. 957 did not expressly provide for retroactivity in its entirety, yet the same can be plainly inferred from the unmistakable intent of the law to protect innocent lot buyers from scheming subdivision developers. As between these small lot buyers and the gigantic financial institutions which the developers deal with, it is obvious that the law - as an instrument of social justice - must favors the weak. Indeed, the petitioner Bank had at its disposal vast resources with which it could adequately protect its loan activities, and therefore is presumed to have conducted the usual "due diligence" checking and ascertained (whether thru ocular inspection or other modes of investigation) the actual status, condition, utilization and occupancy of the property offered as collateral. It could not have been unaware that the property had been built on by small lot buyers. On the other hand, private respondents obviously were powerless to discover the attempt of the land developer to hypothecate the property being sold to them. It was precisely in order to deal with this kind of situation that P.D. 957 was enacted, its very essence and intendment being to provide a protective mantle over helpless citizens who may fall prey to the razzmatazz of what P.D. 957 termed "unscrupulous subdivision and condominium sellers." The intent of the law, as culled from its preamble and from the situation, circumstances and condition it sought to remedy, must be enforced. Sutherland, in his well-known treatise on Statutory Construction (quoted with approval by this Court in an old case of consequence, Ongsiako vs. Gamboa2 ), says: The intent of a statute is the law. If a statute is valid it is to have effect according to the purpose and intent of the lawmaker. The intent is the vital part, the essence of the law, and the primary rule of construction is to ascertain and give effect to the intent. The intention of the legislature in enacting a law is the law itself, and must be enforced when ascertained, although it may not be consistent with the strict letter of the statute. Courts will not follow the letter of a statute when it leads away from the true intent and purpose of the legislature and to conclusions inconsistent with the general purpose of the act. Intent is the spirit which gives life to a legislative enactment. In construing statutes the proper course is to start out and follow the true intent of the legislature and to adopt that sense which harmonizes best with the context and promotes in the fullest manner the apparent policy and objects of the legislature. 3 Truly, this Court cannot allow the injustice that will be wrought by a strictly prospective application of the law. Little people who have toiled for years through blood and tears would be deprived of their homes through no fault of their own. As the Solicitor General, in his comment, argues: Verily, if P.D. 957 were to exclude from its coverage the aforecited mortgage contract, the vigorous regulation which P.D. 957 seeks to impose on unconscientious subdivision sellers will be translated into a feeble exercise of police power just because the iron hand of the State cannot particularly touch mortgage contracts badged with the fortunate accident of having been constituted prior to the enactment of P.D. 957. Indeed, it would be illogical in the extreme if P.D. 957 is to be given full force and effect and yet, the fraudulent practices and manipulations it seeks to curb in the first instance can nevertheless be liberally perpetrated precisely because P.D. 957 cannot be applied to existing antecedent mortgage contracts. The legislative intent could not have conceivably permitted a loophole which all along works to the prejudice of subdivision lot buyers (private respondents).4 Likewise noteworthy are certain provisions of P.D. 957, which themselves constitute strong arguments in favor of the retroactivity of P.D. 957 as a whole. These are Sections 20, 2l and 23 thereof, which by their very terms have retroactive effect and will impact upon even those contracts and transactions entered into prior to P.D. 957's enactment: Sec. 20. Time of Completion. - Every owner or developer or shall construct and provide the facilities, improvements, infrastructures and other forms of development, including water supply and lighting facilities, which are offered and indicated in the approved subdivision or condominiun plans, brochures, prospectus, printed matters, letters or in any form of advertisement, within one year from the date of the issuance of the license for the subdivision or condominium project or such other period of time as may be fixed by the Authority.

Sec. 21. Sales Prior to Decree. - In cases of subdivision lots or condominium units sold or disposed of prior to the effectivity of this Decree, it shall be incumbent upon the owner or developer of the subdivision or condominium project to complete compliance with his or its obligations as provided in the preceding section within two years from the date of this Decree unless otherwise extended by the Authority or unless an adequate performance bond is filed in accordance with Section 6 hereof. Failure of the owner or developer to comply with the obligations under this and the preceding provisions shall constitute a violation punishable under Section 38 and 39 of this Decree. Sec. 23. Non-Forfeiture of Payments. - No installment payment made by a buyer in a subdivision or condominium project for, the lot or unit he contracted to buy shall be forfeited in favor, of the owner or developer when the buyer, after, due notice to the owner or developer, desist from further payment due to the failure of the owner or developer to develop the subdivision or condominium project according to the approved plans and within the time limit for complying with the same. Such buyer may, at this option, be reimbursed the total amount paid including amortization interests but excluding delinquency interests, with interest thereon at the legal rate. (emphasis supplied) As for objections about a possible violation of the impairment clause, we find the following statements of Justice Isagani Cruz enlightening and pertinent to the case at bench: Despite the impairment clause, a contract valid at the time of its execution may be legally modified or even completely invalidated by a subsequent law. If the law is a proper exercise of the police power, it will prevail over the contract. Into each contract are read the provisions of existing law and, always, a reservation of the police power as long as the agreement deals with a matter, affecting the public welfare. Such a contract, it has been held, suffers a congenital infirmity, and this is its susceptibility to change by the legislature as a postulate of the legal order. 5 This Court ruled along similar lines in Juarez vs. Court of Appeals6 : The petitioner complains that the retroactive application of the law would violate the impairment clause. The argument does not impress. The impairment clause is now no longer inviolate; in fact, there are many who now believe it, is an anachronism in the present-day society. It was quite useful before in protecting the integrity of private agreements from government meddling, but that was when such agreements did not affect the community in general. They were indeed purely private agreements then. Any interference with them at that time was really an unwarranted intrusion that could properly struck down. But things are different now. More and more, the interests of the public have become involved in what are supposed to be still private agreements, which have, as a result been removed from the protection of the impairment clause. These agreements have come within the embrace of the police power, that obtrusive protector of the public interest. It is a ubiquitous policeman indeed. As long as the contract affects the public welfare one way or another so as to require the interference of the State, then must the police power be asserted, and prevail, over the clause. The decision of the Court of Appeals in Breta and Hamor vs. Lao, et al.7 penned by then Court of Appeals Associate Justice Jose A. R. Melo, now a respected member of this Court, is persuasive, the factual circumstances therein being of great similarity to the antecedent facts of the case at bench: Protection must be afforded small homeowners who toil and save if only to purchase on installment a tiny home lot they can call their own. The consuming dream of every Filipino is to be able to buy a lot, no matter how small, so that he may somehow build a house. It has, however, been seen of late that these honest, hard-living individuals are taken advantage of, with the delivery of titles delayed, the subdivision facilities, including the most essential such as water installations not completed, or worse yet, as in the instant case, after almost completing the payments for the property and after constructing a house, the buyer is suddenly confronted by the stark reality, contrived or otherwise, in which another person would now appear to be owner. xxx xxx xxx

We cannot over emphasize the fact that the BANK cannot barefacedly argue that simply because the title or titles offered as security were clean of any encumbrance or lien, that it was thereby relieved of taking any other step to verify the overreaching implications should the subdivision be auctioned on foreclosure. The BANK could not have closed its eyes that

it was dealing over a subdivision where there were already houses constructed. Did it not enter the mind of the responsible officers of the BANK that there may even be subdivision residents who have almost completed their installment payments? (id., pp. 7 & 9). By the foregoing citation, this Court, thus adopts by reference the foregoing as part of this Decision. The real estate mortgage in the above cited case, although constituted in 1975 and outside the beneficial aegis of P.D. 957, was struck down by the Court of Appeals which found in favor of subdivision lot buyers when the rights of the latter clashed with the mortgagee bank's right to foreclose the property. The Court of Appeals in that case upheld the decision of the trial court declaring the real estate mortgage as null and void. As to the second issue of non-privity, petitioner avers that, in view of the provisions of Article 1311 of the Civil Code, PNB, being a "total stranger to the land purchase agreement," cannot be made to take the developer's place. We disagree, P.D. 957 being applicable, Section 18 of said law obliges petitioner Bank to accept the payment of the remaining unpaid amortizations tendered by private respondents. Sec. 18. Mortgages. - No mortgage on any unit or lot shall be made by the owner or developer without prior written approval of the Authority, Such approval shall not be granted unless it is shown that the proceeds of the mortgage loan shall be used for the development of the condominium or subdivision project and effective measures have been provided to ensure such utilization. The loan value of each lot or unit covered by the mortgage shall be determined and the buyer thereof, if any, shall be notified before the release of the loan. The buyer may, at his option, pay his installment for the lot or unit directly to the mortgagee who shall apply the payments to the corresponding mortgage indebtedness secured by the particular lot or unit being paid for, with a view to enabling said buyer to obtain title over the lot or unit promptly after full payment thereof. (emphasis supplied) Privity of contracts as a defense does not apply in this case for the law explicitly grants to the buyer the option to pay the installment payment for his lot or unit directly to the mortgagee (petitioner), which is required to apply such payments to reduce the corresponding portion of the mortgage indebtedness secured by the particular lot or unit being paid for. And, as stated earlier, this is without prejudice to petitioner Bank's seeking relief against the subdivision developer. Finally, before closing this Resolution, we enjoin petitioner Bank to focus not only on the strictly legal issues involved in this case but also to take another look at the larger issues including social justice and the protection of human rights as enshrined in the Constitution; firstly, because legal issues are raised and decided not in a vacuum but within the context of existing social, economic and political conditions, law being merely a brick in the up- building of the social edifice; and secondly, petitioner, being THE state bank, is for all intents and purposes an instrument for the implementation of state policies so cherished in our fundamental law. These consideration are obviously far more weighty than the winning of any particular suit or the acquisition of any specific property. Thus, as the country strives to move ahead towards economic self-sufficiency and to achieve dreams of "NIC-hood" and social well-being for the majority of our countrymen, we hold that petitioner Bank, the premier bank in the country, which has in recent years made record earnings and acquired an enviable international stature, with branches and subsidiaries in key financial centers around the world, should be equally as happy with the disposition of this case as the private respondents, who were almost deprived and dispossessed of their very homes purchased through their hard work and with their meager savings. WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing considerations, the petition is hereby DENIED, petitioner having failed to show any REVERSIBLE ERROR or GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION in the assailed decision. No costs. SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 139868

June 8, 2006

ALONZO Q. ANCHETA, Petitioner, vs. CANDELARIA GUERSEY-DALAYGON, Respondent.

DECISION AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, J.: Spouses Audrey ONeill (Audrey) and W. Richard Guersey (Richard) were American citizens who have resided in the Philippines for 30 years. They have an adopted daughter, Kyle Guersey Hill (Kyle). On July 29, 1979, Audrey died, leaving a will. In it, she bequeathed her entire estate to Richard, who was also designated as executor. 1 The will was admitted to probate before the Orphans Court of Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.A, which named James N. Phillips as executor due to Richards renunciation of his appointment.2 The court also named Atty. Alonzo Q. Ancheta (petitioner) of the Quasha Asperilla Ancheta Pena & Nolasco Law Offices as ancillary administrator.3 In 1981, Richard married Candelaria Guersey-Dalaygon (respondent) with whom he has two children, namely, Kimberly and Kevin. On October 12, 1982, Audreys will was also admitted to probate by the then Court of First Instance of Rizal, Branch 25, Seventh Judicial District, Pasig, in Special Proceeding No. 9625. 4 As administrator of Audreys estate in the Philippines, petitioner filed an inventory and appraisal of the following properties: (1) Audreys conjugal share in real estate with improvements located at 28 Pili Avenue, Forbes Park, Makati, Metro Manila, valued at P764,865.00 (Makati property); (2) a current account in Audreys name with a cash balance of P12,417.97; and (3) 64,444 shares of stock in A/G Interiors, Inc. worth P64,444.00.5 On July 20, 1984, Richard died, leaving a will, wherein he bequeathed his entire estate to respondent, save for his rights and interests over the A/G Interiors, Inc. shares, which he left to Kyle. 6 The will was also admitted to probate by the Orphans Court of Ann Arundel, Maryland, U.S.A, and James N. Phillips was likewise appointed as executor, who in turn, designated Atty. William Quasha or any member of the Quasha Asperilla Ancheta Pena & Nolasco Law Offices, as ancillary administrator. Richards will was then submitted for probate before the Regional Trial Court of Makati, Branch 138, docketed as Special Proceeding No. M-888.7 Atty. Quasha was appointed as ancillary administrator on July 24, 1986. 8 On October 19, 1987, petitioner filed in Special Proceeding No. 9625, a motion to declare Richard and Kyle as heirs of Audrey. 9 Petitioner also filed on October 23, 1987, a project of partition of Audreys estate, with Richard being apportioned the undivided interest in the Makati property, 48.333 shares in A/G Interiors, Inc., and P9,313.48 from the Citibank current account; and Kyle, the undivided interest in the Makati property, 16,111 shares in A/G Interiors, Inc., and P3,104.49 in cash.10 The motion and project of partition was granted and approved by the trial court in its Order dated February 12, 1988.11 The trial court also issued an Order on April 7, 1988, directing the Register of Deeds of Makati to cancel TCT No. 69792 in the name of Richard and to issue a new title in the joint names of the Estate of W. Richard Guersey ( undivided interest) and Kyle ( undivided interest); directing the Secretary of A/G Interiors, Inc. to transfer 48.333 shares to the Estate of W. Richard Guersey and 16.111 shares to Kyle; and directing the Citibank to release the amount of P12,417.97 to the ancillary administrator for distribution to the heirs.12 Consequently, the Register of Deeds of Makati issued on June 23, 1988, TCT No. 155823 in the names of the Estate of W. Richard Guersey and Kyle.13 Meanwhile, the ancillary administrator in Special Proceeding No. M-888 also filed a project of partition wherein 2/5 of Richards undivided interest in the Makati property was allocated to respondent, while 3/5 thereof were allocated to Richards three children. This was opposed by respondent on the ground that under the law of the State of Maryland, " a legacy passes to the legatee the entire interest of the testator in the property subject of the legacy ."14 Since Richard left his entire estate to respondent, except for his rights and interests over the A/G Interiors, Inc, shares, then his entire undivided interest in the Makati property should be given to respondent. The trial court found merit in respondents opposition, and in its Order dated December 6, 1991, disapproved the project of partition insofar as it affects the Makati property. The trial court also adjudicated Richards entire undivided interest in the Makati property to respondent.15 On October 20, 1993, respondent filed with the Court of Appeals (CA) an amended complaint for the annulment of the tri al courts Orders dated February 12, 1988 and April 7, 1988, issued in Special Proceeding No. 9625. 16 Respondent contended that petitioner willfully breached his fiduciary duty when he disregarded the laws of the State of Maryland on the distribution of Audreys estate in accordance with her will. Respondent argued that since Audrey devised her entire estate to Richard, then the Makati property

should be wholly adjudicated to him, and not merely thereof, and since Richard left his entire estate, except for his rights and interests over the A/G Interiors, Inc., to respondent, then the entire Makati property should now pertain to respondent. Petitioner filed his Answer denying respondents allegations. Petitioner contended that he acted in good faith in submitting the project of partition before the trial court in Special Proceeding No. 9625, as he had no knowledge of the State of Marylands laws on testate and intestate succession. Petitioner alleged that he believed that it is to the "best interests of the surviving children that Philippine law be applied as they would receive their just shares." Petitioner also alleged that the orders sought to be annulled are already final and executory, and cannot be set aside. On March 18, 1999, the CA rendered the assailed Decision annulling the trial courts Orders dated February 12, 1988 and April 7, 1988, in Special Proceeding No. 9625.17 The dispositive portion of the assailed Decision provides: WHEREFORE, the assailed Orders of February 12, 1998 and April 7, 1988 are hereby ANNULLED and, in lieu thereof, a new one is entered ordering: (a) The adjudication of the entire estate of Audrey ONeill Guersey in favor of the estate of W. Richard Guersey; and (b) The cancellation of Transfer Certificate of Title No. 15583 of the Makati City Registry and the issuance of a new title in the name of the estate of W. Richard Guersey. SO ORDERED.18 Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration, but this was denied by the CA per Resolution dated August 27, 1999.19 Hence, the herein petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court alleging that the CA gravely erred in not holding that: A) THE ORDERS OF 12 FEBRUARY 1988 AND 07 APRIL 1988 IN SPECIAL PROCEEDINGS NO. 9625 "IN THE MATTER OF THE PETITION FOR PROBATE OF THE WILL OF THE DECEASED AUDREY GUERSEY, ALONZO Q. ANCHETA, ANCILLARY ADMINISTRATOR", ARE VALID AND BINDING AND HAVE LONG BECOME FINAL AND HAVE BEEN FULLY IMPLEMENTED AND EXECUTED AND CAN NO LONGER BE ANNULLED. B) THE ANCILLARY ADMINISTRATOR HAVING ACTED IN GOOD FAITH, DID NOT COMMIT FRAUD, EITHER EXTRINSIC OR INTRINSIC, IN THE PERFORMANCE OF HIS DUTIES AS ANCILLARY ADMINISTRATOR OF AUDREY ONEIL GUERSEYS ESTATE IN THE PHILIPPINES, AND THAT NO FRAUD, EITHER EXTRINSIC OR INTRINSIC, WAS EMPLOYED BY [HIM] IN PROCURING SAID ORDERS. 20 Petitioner reiterates his arguments before the CA that the Orders dated February 12, 1988 and April 7, 1988 can no longer be annulled because it is a final judgment, which is "conclusive upon the administration as to all matters involved in such judgment or order, and will determine for all time and in all courts, as far as the parties to the proceedings are concerned, all matters therein determined," and the same has already been executed.21 Petitioner also contends that that he acted in good faith in performing his duties as an ancillary administrator. He maintains that at the time of the filing of the project of partition, he was not aware of the relevant laws of the State of Maryland, such that the partition was made in accordance with Philippine laws. Petitioner also imputes knowledge on the part of respondent with regard to the terms of Aubreys will, stating that as early as 1984, he already apprised respondent of the contents of the will and how the estate will be divided.22 Respondent argues that petitioners breach of his fiduciary duty as ancillary administrator of Aubreys estate amounted to extrinsic fraud. According to respondent, petitioner was duty-bound to follow the express terms of Aubreys will, and his denial of knowledge of the laws of Maryland cannot stand because petitioner is a senior partner in a prestigious law firm and it was his duty to know the relevant laws. Respondent also states that she was not able to file any opposition to the project of partition because she was not a party thereto and she learned of the provision of Aubreys will bequeathing entirely her estate to Richard only after Atty. Ancheta filed a project of partition in Special Proceeding No. M-888 for the settlement of Richards estate.

A decree of distribution of the estate of a deceased person vests the title to the land of the estate in the distributees, which, if erroneous may be corrected by a timely appeal. Once it becomes final, its binding effect is like any other judgment in rem. 23 However, in exceptional cases, a final decree of distribution of the estate may be set aside for lack of jurisdiction or fraud.24 Further, in Ramon v. Ortuzar,25 the Court ruled that a party interested in a probate proceeding may have a final liquidation set aside when he is left out by reason of circumstances beyond his control or through mistake or inadvertence not imputable to negligence.26 The petition for annulment was filed before the CA on October 20, 1993, before the issuance of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure; hence, the applicable law is Batas Pambansa Blg. 129 (B.P. 129) or the Judiciary Reorganization Act of 1980. An annulment of judgment filed under B.P. 129 may be based on the ground that a judgment is void for want of jurisdiction or that the judgment was obtained by extrinsic fraud.27 For fraud to become a basis for annulment of judgment, it has to be extrinsic or actual, 28 and must be brought within four years from the discovery of the fraud. 29 In the present case, respondent alleged extrinsic fraud as basis for the annulment of the RTC Orders dated February 12, 1988 and April 7, 1988. The CA found merit in respondents cause and found that petitioners failure to follow the terms of Audreys w ill, despite the latters declaration of good faith, amounted to extrinsic frau d. The CA ruled that under Article 16 of the Civil Code, it is the national law of the decedent that is applicable, hence, petitioner should have distributed Aubreys estate in accordan ce with the terms of her will. The CA also found that petitioner was pr ompted to distribute Audreys estate in accordance with Philippine laws in order to equally benefit Audrey and Richard Guerseys adopted daughter, Kyle Guersey Hill. Petitioner contends that respondents cause of action had already prescribed because as ea rly as 1984, respondent was already well aware of the terms of Audreys will,30 and the complaint was filed only in 1993. Respondent, on the other hand, justified her lack of immediate action by saying that she had no opportunity to question petitioners acts since she was not a party to Special Proceeding No. 9625, and it was only after Atty. Ancheta filed the project of partition in Special Proceeding No. M-888, reducing her inheritance in the estate of Richard that she was prompted to seek another counsel to protect her interest. 31 It should be pointed out that the prescriptive period for annulment of judgment based on extrinsic fraud commences to run from the discovery of the fraud or fraudulent act/s. Respondents knowledge of the terms of Audreys will is immaterial in this case since it is not the fraud complained of. Rather, it is petitioners failure to introduce in evidence the pertinent law of the State of Maryland that is the fraudulent act, or in this case, omission, alleged to have been committed against respondent, and therefore, the four-year period should be counted from the time of respondents discovery thereof. Records bear the fact that the filing of the project of partition of Richards estate, the opposition thereto, and the order of the trial court disallowing the project of partition in Special Proceeding No. M-888 were all done in 1991.32 Respondent cannot be faulted for letting the assailed orders to lapse into finality since it was only through Special Proceeding No. M-888 that she came to comprehend the ramifications of petitioners acts. Obviously, respondent had no other recourse under the circumstances but to file the annulment case. Since the action for annulment was filed in 1993, clearly, the same has not yet prescribed. Fraud takes on different shapes and faces. In Cosmic Lumber Corporation v. Court of Appeals, 33 the Court stated that "man in his ingenuity and fertile imagination will always contrive new schemes to fool the unwary." There is extrinsic fraud within the meaning of Sec. 9 par. (2), of B.P. Blg. 129, where it is one the effect of which prevents a party from hearing a trial, or real contest, or from presenting all of his case to the court, or where it operates upon matters, not pertaining to the judgment itself, but to the manner in which it was procured so that there is not a fair submission of the controversy. In other words, extrinsic fraud refers to any fraudulent act of the prevailing party in the litigation which is committed outside of the trial of the case, whereby the defeated party has been prevented from exhibiting fully his side of the case by fraud or deception practiced on him by his opponent. Fraud is extrinsic where the unsuccessful party has been prevented from exhibiting fully his case, by fraud or deception practiced on him by his opponent, as by keeping him away from court, a false promise of a compromise; or where the defendant never had any knowledge of the suit, being kept in ignorance by the acts of the plaintiff; or where an attorney fraudulently or without authority connives at his defeat; these and similar cases which show that there has never been a real contest in the trial or hearing of the case are reasons for which a new suit may be sustained to set aside and annul the former judgment and open the case for a new and fair hearing.34 The overriding consideration when extrinsic fraud is alleged is that the fraudulent scheme of the prevailing litigant prevented a party from having his day in court.35 Petitioner is the ancillary administrator of Audreys estate. As such, he occupies a position of the highest trust and confid ence, and he is required to exercise reasonable diligence and act in entire good faith in the performance of that trust. Although he is not a guarantor or insurer of the safety of the estate nor is he expected to be infallible, yet the same degree of prudence, care and

judgment which a person of a fair average capacity and ability exercises in similar transactions of his own, serves as the standard by which his conduct is to be judged.36 Petitioners failure to proficiently manage the distribution of Audreys estate according to the terms of her will and as dictated by the applicable law amounted to extrinsic fraud. Hence the CA Decision annulling the RTC Orders dated February 12, 1988 and April 7, 1988, must be upheld. It is undisputed that Audrey Guersey was an American citizen domiciled in Maryland, U.S.A. During the reprobate of her will in Special Proceeding No. 9625, it was shown, among others, that at the time of Audreys death, she was residing in the Philippi nes but is domiciled in Maryland, U.S.A.; her Last Will and Testament dated August 18, 1972 was executed and probated before the Orphans Court in Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.A., which was duly authenticated and certified by the Register of Wills of Baltimo re City and attested by the Chief Judge of said court; the will was admitted by the Orphans Court of Baltimore City on September 7, 1979; and the will was authenticated by the Secretary of State of Maryland and the Vice Consul of the Philippine Embassy. Being a foreign national, the intrinsic validity of Audreys will, especially with regard as to who are her heirs, is governed by her national law, i.e., the law of the State of Maryland, as provided in Article 16 of the Civil Code, to wit: Art. 16. Real property as well as personal property is subject to the law of the country where it is situated. However, intestate and testamentary succession, both with respect to the order of succession and to the amount of successional rights and to the intrinsic validity of testamentary provisions, shall be regulated by the national law of the person whose succession is under consideration, whatever may be the nature of the property and regardless of the country wherein said property may be found. (Emphasis supplied) Article 1039 of the Civil Code further provides that "capacity to succeed is governed by the law of the nation of the decedent." As a corollary rule, Section 4, Rule 77 of the Rules of Court on Allowance of Will Proved Outside the Philippines and Administration of Estate Thereunder, states: SEC. 4. Estate, how administered.When a will is thus allowed, the court shall grant letters testamentary, or letters of administration with the will annexed, and such letters testamentary or of administration, shall extend to all the estate of the testator in the Philippines. Such estate, after the payment of just debts and expenses of administration, shall be disposed of according to such will, so far as such will may operate upon it ; and the residue, if any, shall be disposed of as is provided by law in cases of estates in the Philippines belonging to persons who are inhabitants of another state or country. (Emphasis supplied) While foreign laws do not prove themselves in our jurisdiction and our courts are not authorized to take judicial notice of them;37 however, petitioner, as ancillary administrator of Audreys estate, was duty -bound to introduce in evidence the pertinent law of the State of Maryland.38 Petitioner admitted that he failed to introduce in evidence the law of the State of Maryland on Estates and Trusts, and merely relied on the presumption that such law is the same as the Philippine law on wills and succession. Thus, the trial court peremptorily applied Philippine laws and totally disregarded the terms of Audreys will. The obvious result was that there was no fair submission of the case before the trial court or a judicious appreciation of the evidence presented. Petitioner insists that his application of Philippine laws was made in good faith. The Court cannot accept petitioners prote station. How can petitioner honestly presume that Philippine laws apply when as early as the reprobate of Audreys will before the trial court in 1982, it was already brought to fore that Audrey was a U.S. citizen, domiciled in the State of Maryland. As asserted by respondent, petitioner is a senior partner in a prestigious law firm, with a "big legal staff and a large library." 39 He had all the legal resources to determine the applicable law. It was incumbent upon him to exercise his functions as ancillary administrator with reasonable diligence, and to discharge the trust reposed on him faithfully. Unfortunately, petitioner failed to perform his fiduciary duties. Moreover, whether his omission was intentional or not, the fact remains that the trial court failed to consider said law when it issued the assailed RTC Orders dated February 12, 1988 and April 7, 1988, declaring Richard and Kyle as Audreys heirs, and distributing Audreys estate according to the projec t of partition submitted by petitioner. This eventually prejudiced respondent and deprived her of her full successional right to the Makati property.

In GSIS v. Bengson Commercial Bldgs., Inc.,40 the Court held that when the rule that the negligence or mistake of counsel binds the client deserts its proper office as an aid to justice and becomes a great hindrance and chief enemy, its rigors must be relaxed to admit exceptions thereto and to prevent a miscarriage of justice, and the court has the power to except a particular case from the operation of the rule whenever the purposes of justice require it. The CA aptly noted that petitioner was remiss in his respons ibilities as ancillary administrator of Audreys estate. The CA likewise observed that the distribution made by petitioner was prompted by his concern over Kyle, whom petitioner believed should equally benefit from the Makati property. The CA correctly stated, which the Court adopts, thus: In claiming good faith in the performance of his duties and responsibilities, defendant Alonzo H. Ancheta invokes the principle which presumes the law of the forum to be the same as the foreign law (Beam vs. Yatco, 82 Phil. 30, 38) in the absence of evidence adduced to prove the latter law (Slade Perkins vs. Perkins, 57 Phil. 205, 210). In defending his actions in the light of the foregoing principle, however, it appears that the defendant lost sight of the fact that his primary responsibility as ancillary administrator was to distribute the subject estate in accordance with the will of Audrey ONeill Guersey. Considering the pri nciple established under Article 16 of the Civil Code of the Philippines, as well as the citizenship and the avowed domicile of the decedent, it goes without saying that the defendant was also duty-bound to prove the pertinent laws of Maryland on the matter. The record reveals, however, that no clear effort was made to prove the national law of Audre y ONeill Guersey during the proceedings before the court a quo. While there is claim of good faith in distributing the subject estate in accordance with the Philippine laws, the defendant appears to put his actuations in a different light as indicated in a portion of his direct examination, to wit: xxx It would seem, therefore, that the eventual distribution of the estate of Audrey ONeill Guersey was prompted by defendant Alonzo H. Anchetas concern that the subject realty equally benefit the plaintiff s adopted daughter Kyle Guersey. Well-intentioned though it may be, defendant Alonzo H. Anchetas action appears to have breached his duties and responsibilities as ancillary administrator of the subject estate. While such breach of duty admittedly cannot be considered extrinsic fraud under ordinary circumstances, the fiduciary nature of the said defendants position, as well as the resultant frustration of the decedents last will, combine to create a circumstance that is tantamount to extrinsic fraud . Defendant Alonzo H. Anchetas omission to prove the national laws of the decedent and to follow the latters last will, in sum, resulted in the procurement of the subject orders without a fair submission of the real issues involved in the case. 41 (Emphasis supplied) This is not a simple case of error of judgment or grave abuse of discretion, but a total disregard of the law as a result of petitioners abject failure to discharge his fiduciary duties. It does not rest upon petitioners pleasure as to which law should be made applicable under the circumstances. His onus is clear. Respondent was thus excluded from enjoying full rights to the Makati property through no fault or negligence of her own, as petitioners omission was beyond her control. She was in no position to analyze the legal implications of petitioners omission and it was belatedly that she realized the adverse consequence of the same. The end result was a miscarriage of justice. In cases like this, the courts have the legal and moral duty to provide judicial aid to parties who are deprived of their rights.42 The trial court in its Order dated December 6, 1991 in Special Proceeding No. M-888 noted the law of the State of Maryland on Estates and Trusts, as follows: Under Section 1-301, Title 3, Sub-Title 3 of the Annotated Code of the Public General Laws of Maryland on Estates and Trusts, "all property of a decedent shall be subject to the estate of decedents law, and upon his death shall pass directly to the personal representative, who shall hold the legal title for administration and distribution," while Section 4-408 expressly provides that "unless a contrary intent is expressly indicated in the will, a legacy passes to the legatee the entire interest of the testator in the property which is the subject of the legacy". Section 7-101, Title 7, Sub-Title 1, on the other hand, declares that "a personal representative is a fiduciary" and as such he is "under the general duty to settle and distribute the estate of the decedent in accordance with the terms of the will and the estate of decedents law as expeditiously and with as little sacrifice of value as is reasonable under the circumstances".43 In her will, Audrey devised to Richard her entire estate, consisting of the following: (1) Audreys conjugal share in the Mak ati property; (2) the cash amount of P12,417.97; and (3) 64,444 shares of stock in A/G Interiors, Inc. worth P64,444.00. All these properties passed on to Richard upon Audreys death. Meanwhile, Richard, in his will, bequeathed his entire estate to respond ent, except for his rights and interests over the A/G Interiors, Inc. shares, which he left to Kyle. When Richard subsequently died, the entire Makati property should have then passed on to respondent. This, of course, assumes the proposition that the law of the State

of Maryland which allows "a legacy to pass to the legatee the entire estate of the testator in the property which is the subject of the legacy," was sufficiently proven in Special Proceeding No. 9625. Nevertheless, the Court may take judicial notice thereof in view of the ruling in Bohanan v. Bohanan.44 Therein, the Court took judicial notice of the law of Nevada despite failure to prove the same. The Court held, viz.: We have, however, consulted the records of the case in the court below and we have found that during the hearing on October 4, 1954 of the motion of Magdalena C. Bohanan for withdrawal of P20,000 as her share, the foreign law, especially Section 9905, Compiled Nevada Laws, was introduced in evidence by appellants' (herein) counsel as Exhibit "2" (See pp. 77-79, Vol. II, and t.s.n. pp. 24-44, Records, Court of First Instance). Again said law was presented by the counsel for the executor and admitted by the Court as Exhibit "B" during the hearing of the case on January 23, 1950 before Judge Rafael Amparo (see Records, Court of First Instance, Vol. 1). In addition, the other appellants, children of the testator, do not dispute the above-quoted provision of the laws of the State of Nevada. Under all the above circumstances, we are constrained to hold that the pertinent law of Nevada, especially Section 9905 of the Compiled Nevada Laws of 1925, can be taken judicial notice of by us, without proof of such law having been offered at the hearing of the project of partition. In this case, given that the pertinent law of the State of Maryland has been brought to record before the CA, and the trial court in Special Proceeding No. M-888 appropriately took note of the same in disapproving the proposed project of partition of Richards estate, not to mention that petitioner or any other interested person for that matter, does not dispute the existence or validity of said law, then Audreys and Richards estate should be distributed according to their respective wills, and not according to the p roject of partition submitted by petitioner. Consequently, the entire Makati property belongs to respondent. Decades ago, Justice Moreland, in his dissenting opinion in Santos v. Manarang, 45 wrote: A will is the testator speaking after death. Its provisions have substantially the same force and effect in the probate court as if the testator stood before the court in full life making the declarations by word of mouth as they appear in the will. That was the special purpose of the law in the creation of the instrument known as the last will and testament. Men wished to speak after they were dead and the law, by the creation of that instrument, permitted them to do so x x x All doubts must be resolved in favor of the testator's having meant just what he said. Honorable as it seems, petitioners motive in equitably distributing Audreys estate cannot prevail over Audreys and Richards wishes. As stated in Bellis v. Bellis:46 x x x whatever public policy or good customs may be involved in our system of legitimes, Congress has not intended to extend the same to the succession of foreign nationals. For it has specifically chosen to leave, inter alia, the amount of successional rights, to the decedent's national Law. Specific provisions must prevail over general ones. 47 Before concluding, the Court notes the fact that Audrey and Richard Guersey were American citizens who owned real property in the Philippines, although records do not show when and how the Guerseys acquired the Makati property. Under Article XIII, Sections 1 and 4 of the 1935 Constitution, the privilege to acquire and exploit lands of the public domain, and other natural resources of the Philippines, and to operate public utilities, were reserved to Filipinos and entities owned or controlled by them. In Republic v. Quasha,48 the Court clarified that the Parity Rights Amendment of 1946, which re-opened to American citizens and business enterprises the right in the acquisition of lands of the public domain, the disposition, exploitation, development and utilization of natural resources of the Philippines, does not include the acquisition or exploitation of private agricultural lands. The prohibition against acquisition of private lands by aliens was carried on to the 1973 Constitution under Article XIV, Section 14, with the exception of private lands acquired by hereditary succession and when the transfer was made to a former natural-born citizen, as provided in Section 15, Article XIV. As it now stands, Article XII, Sections 7 and 8 of the 1986 Constitution explicitly prohibits non-Filipinos from acquiring or holding title to private lands or to lands of the public domain, except only by way of legal succession or if the acquisition was made by a former natural-born citizen. In any case, the Court has also ruled that if land is invalidly transferred to an alien who subsequently becomes a citizen or transfers it to a citizen, the flaw in the original transaction is considered cured and the title of the transferee is rendered valid. 49 In this case, since the Makati property had already passed on to respondent who is a Filipino, then whatever flaw, if any, that attended the acquisition by the Guerseys of the Makati property is now inconsequential, as the objective of the constitutional provision to keep our lands in Filipino hands has been achieved.

WHEREFORE, the petition is denied. The Decision dated March 18, 1999 and the Resolution dated August 27, 1999 of the Court of Appeals are AFFIRMED. Petitioner is ADMONISHED to be more circumspect in the performance of his duties as an official of the court. No pronouncement as to costs. SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. L-16749

January 31, 1963

IN THE MATTER OF THE TESTATE ESTATE OF EDWARD E. CHRISTENSEN, DECEASED. ADOLFO C. AZNAR, Executor and LUCY CHRISTENSEN, Heir of the deceased, Executor and Heir-appellees, vs. HELEN CHRISTENSEN GARCIA, oppositor-appellant. M. R. Sotelo for executor and heir-appellees. Leopoldo M. Abellera and Jovito Salonga for oppositor-appellant. LABRADOR, J.: This is an appeal from a decision of the Court of First Instance of Davao, Hon. Vicente N. Cusi, Jr., presiding, in Special Proceeding No. 622 of said court, dated September 14, 1949, approving among things the final accounts of the executor, directing the executor to reimburse Maria Lucy Christensen the amount of P3,600 paid by her to Helen Christensen Garcia as her legacy, and declaring Maria Lucy Christensen entitled to the residue of the property to be enjoyed during her lifetime, and in case of death without issue, one-half of said residue to be payable to Mrs. Carrie Louise C. Borton, etc., in accordance with the provisions of the will of the testator Edward E. Christensen. The will was executed in Manila on March 5, 1951 and contains the following provisions: 3. I declare ... that I have but ONE (1) child, named MARIA LUCY CHRISTENSEN (now Mrs. Bernard Daney), who was born in the Philippines about twenty-eight years ago, and who is now residing at No. 665 Rodger Young Village, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A. 4. I further declare that I now have no living ascendants, and no descendants except my above named daughter, MARIA LUCY CHRISTENSEN DANEY. xxx xxx xxx

7. I give, devise and bequeath unto MARIA HELEN CHRISTENSEN, now married to Eduardo Garcia, about eighteen years of age and who, notwithstanding the fact that she was baptized Christensen, is not in any way related to me, nor has she been at any time adopted by me, and who, from all information I have now resides in Egpit, Digos, Davao, Philippines, the sum of THREE THOUSAND SIX HUNDRED PESOS (P3,600.00), Philippine Currency the same to be deposited in trust for the said Maria Helen Christensen with the Davao Branch of the Philippine National Bank, and paid to her at the rate of One Hundred Pesos (P100.00), Philippine Currency per month until the principal thereof as well as any interest which may have accrued thereon, is exhausted.. xxx xxx xxx

12. I hereby give, devise and bequeath, unto my well-beloved daughter, the said MARIA LUCY CHRISTENSEN DANEY (Mrs. Bernard Daney), now residing as aforesaid at No. 665 Rodger Young Village, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A., all the income from the rest, remainder, and residue of my property and estate, real, personal and/or mixed, of whatsoever kind or character, and wheresoever situated, of which I may be possessed at my death and which may have come to me from any source whatsoever, during her lifetime: ....

It is in accordance with the above-quoted provisions that the executor in his final account and project of partition ratified the payment of only P3,600 to Helen Christensen Garcia and proposed that the residue of the estate be transferred to his daughter, Maria Lucy Christensen. Opposition to the approval of the project of partition was filed by Helen Christensen Garcia, insofar as it deprives her (Helen) of her legitime as an acknowledged natural child, she having been declared by Us in G.R. Nos. L-11483-84 an acknowledged natural child of the deceased Edward E. Christensen. The legal grounds of opposition are (a) that the distribution should be governed by the laws of the Philippines, and (b) that said order of distribution is contrary thereto insofar as it denies to Helen Christensen, one of two acknowledged natural children, one-half of the estate in full ownership. In amplification of the above grounds it was alleged that the law that should govern the estate of the deceased Christensen should not be the internal law of California alone, but the entire law thereof because several foreign elements are involved, that the forum is the Philippines and even if the case were decided in California, Section 946 of the California Civil Code, which requires that the domicile of the decedent should apply, should be applicable. It was also alleged that Maria Helen Christensen having been declared an acknowledged natural child of the decedent, she is deemed for all purposes legitimate from the time of her birth. The court below ruled that as Edward E. Christensen was a citizen of the United States and of the State of California at the time of his death, the successional rights and intrinsic validity of the provisions in his will are to be governed by the law of California, in accordance with which a testator has the right to dispose of his property in the way he desires, because the right of absolute dominion over his property is sacred and inviolable (In re McDaniel's Estate, 77 Cal. Appl. 2d 877, 176 P. 2d 952, and In re Kaufman, 117 Cal. 286, 49 Pac. 192, cited in page 179, Record on Appeal). Oppositor Maria Helen Christensen, through counsel, filed various motions for reconsideration, but these were denied. Hence, this appeal. The most important assignments of error are as follows: I THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN IGNORING THE DECISION OF THE HONORABLE SUPREME COURT THAT HELEN IS THE ACKNOWLEDGED NATURAL CHILD OF EDWARD E. CHRISTENSEN AND, CONSEQUENTLY, IN DEPRIVING HER OF HER JUST SHARE IN THE INHERITANCE. II THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN ENTIRELY IGNORING AND/OR FAILING TO RECOGNIZE THE EXISTENCE OF SEVERAL FACTORS, ELEMENTS AND CIRCUMSTANCES CALLING FOR THE APPLICATION OF INTERNAL LAW. III THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN FAILING TO RECOGNIZE THAT UNDER INTERNATIONAL LAW, PARTICULARLY UNDER THE RENVOI DOCTRINE, THE INTRINSIC VALIDITY OF THE TESTAMENTARY DISPOSITION OF THE DISTRIBUTION OF THE ESTATE OF THE DECEASED EDWARD E. CHRISTENSEN SHOULD BE GOVERNED BY THE LAWS OF THE PHILIPPINES. IV THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN NOT DECLARING THAT THE SCHEDULE OF DISTRIBUTION SUBMITTED BY THE EXECUTOR IS CONTRARY TO THE PHILIPPINE LAWS. V THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN NOT DECLARING THAT UNDER THE PHILIPPINE LAWS HELEN CHRISTENSEN GARCIA IS ENTITLED TO ONE-HALF (1/2) OF THE ESTATE IN FULL OWNERSHIP. There is no question that Edward E. Christensen was a citizen of the United States and of the State of California at the time of his death. But there is also no question that at the time of his death he was domiciled in the Philippines, as witness the following facts admitted by the executor himself in appellee's brief: In the proceedings for admission of the will to probate, the facts of record show that the deceased Edward E. Christensen was born on November 29, 1875 in New York City, N.Y., U.S.A.; his first arrival in the Philippines, as an appointed

school teacher, was on July 1, 1901, on board the U.S. Army Transport "Sheridan" with Port of Embarkation as the City of San Francisco, in the State of California, U.S.A. He stayed in the Philippines until 1904. In December, 1904, Mr. Christensen returned to the United States and stayed there for the following nine years until 1913, during which time he resided in, and was teaching school in Sacramento, California. Mr. Christensen's next arrival in the Philippines was in July of the year 1913. However, in 1928, he again departed the Philippines for the United States and came back here the following year, 1929. Some nine years later, in 1938, he again returned to his own country, and came back to the Philippines the following year, 1939. Wherefore, the parties respectfully pray that the foregoing stipulation of facts be admitted and approved by this Honorable Court, without prejudice to the parties adducing other evidence to prove their case not covered by this stipulation of facts. 1wph1.t Being an American citizen, Mr. Christensen was interned by the Japanese Military Forces in the Philippines during World War II. Upon liberation, in April 1945, he left for the United States but returned to the Philippines in December, 1945. Appellees Collective Exhibits "6", CFI Davao, Sp. Proc. 622, as Exhibits "AA", "BB" and "CC-Daney"; Exhs. "MM", "MM-l", "MM-2-Daney" and p. 473, t.s.n., July 21, 1953.) In April, 1951, Edward E. Christensen returned once more to California shortly after the making of his last will and testament (now in question herein) which he executed at his lawyers' offices in Manila on March 5, 1951. He died at the St. Luke's Hospital in the City of Manila on April 30, 1953. (pp. 2-3) In arriving at the conclusion that the domicile of the deceased is the Philippines, we are persuaded by the fact that he was born in New York, migrated to California and resided there for nine years, and since he came to the Philippines in 1913 he returned to California very rarely and only for short visits (perhaps to relatives), and considering that he appears never to have owned or acquired a home or properties in that state, which would indicate that he would ultimately abandon the Philippines and make home in the State of California. Sec. 16. Residence is a term used with many shades of meaning from mere temporary presence to the most permanent abode. Generally, however, it is used to denote something more than mere physical presence. (Goodrich on Conflict of Laws, p. 29) As to his citizenship, however, We find that the citizenship that he acquired in California when he resided in Sacramento, California from 1904 to 1913, was never lost by his stay in the Philippines, for the latter was a territory of the United States (not a state) until 1946 and the deceased appears to have considered himself as a citizen of California by the fact that when he executed his will in 1951 he declared that he was a citizen of that State; so that he appears never to have intended to abandon his California citizenship by acquiring another. This conclusion is in accordance with the following principle expounded by Goodrich in his Conflict of Laws. The terms "'residence" and "domicile" might well be taken to mean the same thing, a place of permanent abode. But domicile, as has been shown, has acquired a technical meaning. Thus one may be domiciled in a place where he has never been. And he may reside in a place where he has no domicile. The man with two homes, between which he divides his time, certainly resides in each one, while living in it. But if he went on business which would require his presence for several weeks or months, he might properly be said to have sufficient connection with the place to be called a resident. It is clear, however, that, if he treated his settlement as continuing only for the particular business in hand, not giving up his former "home," he could not be a domiciled New Yorker. Acquisition of a domicile of choice requires the exercise of intention as well as physical presence. "Residence simply requires bodily presence of an inhabitant in a given place, while domicile requires bodily presence in that place and also an intention to make it one's domicile." Residence, however, is a term used with many shades of meaning, from the merest temporary presence to the most permanent abode, and it is not safe to insist that any one use et the only proper one. (Goodrich, p. 29) The law that governs the validity of his testamentary dispositions is defined in Article 16 of the Civil Code of the Philippines, which is as follows: ART. 16. Real property as well as personal property is subject to the law of the country where it is situated.

However, intestate and testamentary successions, both with respect to the order of succession and to the amount of successional rights and to the intrinsic validity of testamentary provisions, shall be regulated by the national law of the person whose succession is under consideration, whatever may be the nature of the property and regardless of the country where said property may be found. The application of this article in the case at bar requires the determination of the meaning of the term "national law" is used therein. There is no single American law governing the validity of testamentary provisions in the United States, each state of the Union having its own private law applicable to its citizens only and in force only within the state. The "national law" indicated in Article 16 of the Civil Code above quoted can not, therefore, possibly mean or apply to any general American law. So it can refer to no other than the private law of the State of California. The next question is: What is the law in California governing the disposition of personal property? The decision of the court below, sustains the contention of the executor-appellee that under the California Probate Code, a testator may dispose of his property by will in the form and manner he desires, citing the case of Estate of McDaniel, 77 Cal. Appl. 2d 877, 176 P. 2d 952. But appellant invokes the provisions of Article 946 of the Civil Code of California, which is as follows: If there is no law to the contrary, in the place where personal property is situated, it is deemed to follow the person of its owner, and is governed by the law of his domicile. The existence of this provision is alleged in appellant's opposition and is not denied. We have checked it in the California Civil Code and it is there. Appellee, on the other hand, relies on the case cited in the decision and testified to by a witness. (Only the case of Kaufman is correctly cited.) It is argued on executor's behalf that as the deceased Christensen was a citizen of the State of California, the internal law thereof, which is that given in the abovecited case, should govern the determination of the validity of the testamentary provisions of Christensen's will, such law being in force in the State of California of which Christensen was a citizen. Appellant, on the other hand, insists that Article 946 should be applicable, and in accordance therewith and following the doctrine of the renvoi, the question of the validity of the testamentary provision in question should be referred back to the law of the decedent's domicile, which is the Philippines. The theory of doctrine of renvoi has been defined by various authors, thus: The problem has been stated in this way: "When the Conflict of Laws rule of the forum refers a jural matter to a foreign law for decision, is the reference to the purely internal rules of law of the foreign system; i.e., to the totality of the foreign law minus its Conflict of Laws rules?" On logic, the solution is not an easy one. The Michigan court chose to accept the renvoi, that is, applied the Conflict of Laws rule of Illinois which referred the matter back to Michigan law. But once having determined the the Conflict of Laws principle is the rule looked to, it is difficult to see why the reference back should not have been to Michigan Conflict of Laws. This would have resulted in the "endless chain of references" which has so often been criticized be legal writers. The opponents of the renvoi would have looked merely to the internal law of Illinois, thus rejecting the renvoi or the reference back. Yet there seems no compelling logical reason why the original reference should be the internal law rather than to the Conflict of Laws rule. It is true that such a solution avoids going on a merry-go-round, but those who have accepted the renvoi theory avoid this inextricabilis circulas by getting off at the second reference and at that point applying internal law. Perhaps the opponents of the renvoi are a bit more consistent for they look always to internal law as the rule of reference. Strangely enough, both the advocates for and the objectors to the renvoi plead that greater uniformity will result from adoption of their respective views. And still more strange is the fact that the only way to achieve uniformity in this choice-of-law problem is if in the dispute the two states whose laws form the legal basis of the litigation disagree as to whether the renvoi should be accepted. If both reject, or both accept the doctrine, the result of the litigation will vary with the choice of the forum. In the case stated above, had the Michigan court rejected the renvoi, judgment would have been against the woman; if the suit had been brought in the Illinois courts, and they too rejected the renvoi, judgment would be for the woman. The same result would happen, though the courts would switch with respect to which would hold liability, if both courts accepted the renvoi. The Restatement accepts the renvoi theory in two instances: where the title to land is in question, and where the validity of a decree of divorce is challenged. In these cases the Conflict of Laws rule of the situs of the land, or the domicile of the parties in the divorce case, is applied by the forum, but any further reference goes only to the internal law. Thus, a

person's title to land, recognized by the situs, will be recognized by every court; and every divorce, valid by the domicile of the parties, will be valid everywhere. (Goodrich, Conflict of Laws, Sec. 7, pp. 13-14.) X, a citizen of Massachusetts, dies intestate, domiciled in France, leaving movable property in Massachusetts, England, and France. The question arises as to how this property is to be distributed among X's next of kin. Assume (1) that this question arises in a Massachusetts court. There the rule of the conflict of laws as to intestate succession to movables calls for an application of the law of the deceased's last domicile. Since by hypothesis X's last domicile was France, the natural thing for the Massachusetts court to do would be to turn to French statute of distributions, or whatever corresponds thereto in French law, and decree a distribution accordingly. An examination of French law, however, would show that if a French court were called upon to determine how this property should be distributed, it would refer the distribution to the national law of the deceased, thus applying the Massachusetts statute of distributions. So on the surface of things the Massachusetts court has open to it alternative course of action: (a) either to apply the French law is to intestate succession, or (b) to resolve itself into a French court and apply the Massachusetts statute of distributions, on the assumption that this is what a French court would do. If it accepts the so-called renvoi doctrine, it will follow the latter course, thus applying its own law. This is one type of renvoi. A jural matter is presented which the conflict-of-laws rule of the forum refers to a foreign law, the conflict-of-laws rule of which, in turn, refers the matter back again to the law of the forum. This is renvoi in the narrower sense. The German term for this judicial process is 'Ruckverweisung.'" (Harvard Law Review, Vol. 31, pp. 523571.) After a decision has been arrived at that a foreign law is to be resorted to as governing a particular case, the further question may arise: Are the rules as to the conflict of laws contained in such foreign law also to be resorted to? This is a question which, while it has been considered by the courts in but a few instances, has been the subject of frequent discussion by textwriters and essayists; and the doctrine involved has been descriptively designated by them as the "Renvoyer" to send back, or the "Ruchversweisung", or the "Weiterverweisung", since an affirmative answer to the question postulated and the operation of the adoption of the foreign law in toto would in many cases result in returning the main controversy to be decided according to the law of the forum. ... (16 C.J.S. 872.) Another theory, known as the "doctrine of renvoi", has been advanced. The theory of the doctrine of renvoi is that the court of the forum, in determining the question before it, must take into account the whole law of the other jurisdiction, but also its rules as to conflict of laws, and then apply the law to the actual question which the rules of the other jurisdiction prescribe. This may be the law of the forum. The doctrine of the renvoi has generally been repudiated by the American authorities. (2 Am. Jur. 296) The scope of the theory of renvoi has also been defined and the reasons for its application in a country explained by Prof. Lorenzen in an article in the Yale Law Journal, Vol. 27, 1917-1918, pp. 529-531. The pertinent parts of the article are quoted herein below: The recognition of the renvoi theory implies that the rules of the conflict of laws are to be understood as incorporating not only the ordinary or internal law of the foreign state or country, but its rules of the conflict of laws as well. According to this theory 'the law of a country' means the whole of its law. xxx xxx xxx

Von Bar presented his views at the meeting of the Institute of International Law, at Neuchatel, in 1900, in the form of the following theses: (1) Every court shall observe the law of its country as regards the application of foreign laws. (2) Provided that no express provision to the contrary exists, the court shall respect: (a) The provisions of a foreign law which disclaims the right to bind its nationals abroad as regards their personal statute, and desires that said personal statute shall be determined by the law of the domicile, or even by the law of the place where the act in question occurred. (b) The decision of two or more foreign systems of law, provided it be certain that one of them is necessarily competent, which agree in attributing the determination of a question to the same system of law.

xxx

xxx

xxx

If, for example, the English law directs its judge to distribute the personal estate of an Englishman who has died domiciled in Belgium in accordance with the law of his domicile, he must first inquire whether the law of Belgium would distribute personal property upon death in accordance with the law of domicile, and if he finds that the Belgian law would make the distribution in accordance with the law of nationality that is the English law he must accept this reference back to his own law. We note that Article 946 of the California Civil Code is its conflict of laws rule, while the rule applied in In re Kaufman, Supra, its internal law. If the law on succession and the conflict of laws rules of California are to be enforced jointly, each in its own intended and appropriate sphere, the principle cited In re Kaufman should apply to citizens living in the State, but Article 946 should apply to such of its citizens as are not domiciled in California but in other jurisdictions. The rule laid down of resorting to the law of the domicile in the determination of matters with foreign element involved is in accord with the general principle of American law that the domiciliary law should govern in most matters or rights which follow the person of the owner. When a man dies leaving personal property in one or more states, and leaves a will directing the manner of distribution of the property, the law of the state where he was domiciled at the time of his death will be looked to in deciding legal questions about the will, almost as completely as the law of situs is consulted in questions about the devise of land. It is logical that, since the domiciliary rules control devolution of the personal estate in case of intestate succession, the same rules should determine the validity of an attempted testamentary dispostion of the property. Here, also, it is not that the domiciliary has effect beyond the borders of the domiciliary state. The rules of the domicile are recognized as controlling by the Conflict of Laws rules at the situs property, and the reason for the recognition as in the case of intestate succession, is the general convenience of the doctrine. The New York court has said on the point: 'The general principle that a dispostiton of a personal property, valid at the domicile of the owner, is valid anywhere, is one of the universal application. It had its origin in that international comity which was one of the first fruits of civilization, and it this age, when business intercourse and the process of accumulating property take but little notice of boundary lines, the practical wisdom and justice of the rule is more apparent than ever. (Goodrich, Conflict of Laws, Sec. 164, pp. 442-443.) Appellees argue that what Article 16 of the Civil Code of the Philippines pointed out as the national law is the internal law of California. But as above explained the laws of California have prescribed two sets of laws for its citizens, one for residents therein and another for those domiciled in other jurisdictions. Reason demands that We should enforce the California internal law prescribed for its citizens residing therein, and enforce the conflict of laws rules for the citizens domiciled abroad. If we must enforce the law of California as in comity we are bound to go, as so declared in Article 16 of our Civil Code, then we must enforce the law of California in accordance with the express mandate thereof and as above explained, i.e., apply the internal law for residents therein, and its conflict-of-laws rule for those domiciled abroad. It is argued on appellees' behalf that the clause "if there is no law to the contrary in the place where the property is situated" in Sec. 946 of the California Civil Code refers to Article 16 of the Civil Code of the Philippines and that the law to the contrary in the Philippines is the provision in said Article 16 that the national law of the deceased should govern. This contention can not be sustained. As explained in the various authorities cited above the national law mentioned in Article 16 of our Civil Code is the law on conflict of laws in the California Civil Code, i.e., Article 946, which authorizes the reference or return of the question to the law of the testator's domicile. The conflict of laws rule in California, Article 946, Civil Code, precisely refers back the case, when a decedent is not domiciled in California, to the law of his domicile, the Philippines in the case at bar. The court of the domicile can not and should not refer the case back to California; such action would leave the issue incapable of determination because the case will then be like a football, tossed back and forth between the two states, between the country of which the decedent was a citizen and the country of his domicile. The Philippine court must apply its own law as directed in the conflict of laws rule of the state of the decedent, if the question has to be decided, especially as the application of the internal law of California provides no legitime for children while the Philippine law, Arts. 887(4) and 894, Civil Code of the Philippines, makes natural children legally acknowledged forced heirs of the parent recognizing them. The Philippine cases (In re Estate of Johnson, 39 Phil. 156; Riera vs. Palmaroli, 40 Phil. 105; Miciano vs. Brimo, 50 Phil. 867; Babcock Templeton vs. Rider Babcock, 52 Phil. 130; and Gibbs vs. Government, 59 Phil. 293.) cited by appellees to support the decision can not possibly apply in the case at bar, for two important reasons, i.e., the subject in each case does not appear to be a citizen of a state in the United States but with domicile in the Philippines, and it does not appear in each case that there exists in the state of which the subject is a citizen, a law similar to or identical with Art. 946 of the California Civil Code. We therefore find that as the domicile of the deceased Christensen, a citizen of California, is the Philippines, the validity of the provisions of his will depriving his acknowledged natural child, the appellant, should be governed by the Philippine Law, the domicile, pursuant to Art. 946 of the Civil Code of California, not by the internal law of California..

WHEREFORE, the decision appealed from is hereby reversed and the case returned to the lower court with instructions that the partition be made as the Philippine law on succession provides. Judgment reversed, with costs against appellees.

G.R. No. 161188

June 13, 2008

Heirs of PURISIMA NALA, represented by their attorney-in-fact EFEGENIA DIGNA DUYAN, petitioners, vs. ARTEMIO CABANSAG, respondent. DECISION AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, J.: This is a petition for review under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court assailing the Court of Appeals (CA) Decision 1 dated December 19, 2002 and Resolution2 dated October 28, 2003, dismissing petitioners' appeal and affirming with modification the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Decision dated August 10, 1994 rendered in Civil Case No. Q-91-10541. The facts of the case are as follows: Artemio Cabansag (respondent) filed Civil Case No. Q-91-10541 for damages in October 1991. According to respondent, he bought a 50-square meter property from spouses Eugenio Gomez, Jr. and Felisa Duyan Gomez on July 23, 1990. Said property is part of a 400-square meter lot registered in the name of the Gomez spouses. In October 1991, he received a demand letter from Atty. Alexander del Prado (Atty. Del Prado), in behalf of Purisima Nala (Nala), asking for the payment of rentals from 1987 to 1991 until he leaves the premises, as said property is owned by Nala, failing which criminal and civil actions will be filed against him. Another demand letter was sent on May 14, 1991. Because of such demands, respondent suffered damages and was constrained to file the case against Nala and Atty. Del Prado.3 Atty. Del Prado claimed that he sent the demand letters in good faith and that he was merely acting in behalf of his client, Nala, who disputed respondent's claim of ownership. Nala alleged that said property is part of an 800-square meter property owned by her late husband, Eulogio Duyan, which was subsequently divided into two parts. The 400-square meter property was conveyed to spouses Gomez in a fictitious deed of sale, with the agreement that it will be merely held by them in trust for the Duyan's children. Said property is covered by Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. 281115 in the name of spouses Gomez. Nala also claimed that respondent is only renting the property which he occupies. 4 After trial, the RTC of Quezon City, Branch 93, rendered its Decision on August 10, 1994, in favor of respondent. The dispositive portion of the Decision provides: WHEREFORE, premises considered, by preponderance of evidence, the Court finds in favor of the plaintiff and hereby orders the defendants, jointly and severally, to pay plaintiff the following: 1. P150,000.00 by way of moral damages; 2. P30,000.00 by way of exemplary damages; 3. P20,000.00 as and for reasonable attorney's fees and other litigation expenses; and 4. to pay the costs. SO ORDERED.5 Nala and Atty. Del Prado appealed to the CA. The herein assailed CA Decision dated December 19, 2002 affirmed the RTC Decision with modification, thus:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant appeal is hereby DISMISSED. The assailed decision of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 93, Quezon City, in Civil Case No. Q-91-10541 is heretofore AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION. Defendants-appellants are ordered to pay, jointly and severally, plaintiff-appellee the amount of P30,000.00 by way of moral damages. It is further ordered to pay him exemplary damages in the amount of P10,000.00 and P10,000.00, attorney's fees. SO ORDERED.6 In affirming the RTC Decision, the CA took note of the Decision dated September 5, 1994 rendered by the RTC of Quezon City, Branch 80, dismissing Civil Case No. 91-8821, an action for reconveyance of real property and cancellation of TCT No. 281115 with damages, filed by Nala against spouses Gomez.7 Hence, herein petition by the heirs of Nala (petitioners) 8 with the following assignment of errors: a) Respondent Court of Appeals erred in not considering the right of Purisima Nala to assert her rights and interest over the property. b) Respondent Court of Appeals erred in not considering the Decision rendered by the Court of Appeals in the case for reconveyance which upheld the rights and interest of Purisima Nala and her children over a certain parcel of land, a portion of which is subject of the present case. c) Respondent Court of Appeals erred in awarding damages and attorney's fees without any basis.9 Atty. Del Prado filed a motion for extension of time to file his separate petition but it was denied by the Court per its Resolution dated January 19, 2004 issued in G.R. No. 160829. Petitioners argue that their predecessor-in-interest had every right to protect and assert her interests over the property. Nala had no knowledge that the property was sold by spouses Gomez to respondent when the demand letters were sent. What she was aware of was the fact that spouses Gomez were managing the rentals on the property by virtue of the implied trust created between them and Eulogio Duyan. When spouses Gomez failed to remit the rentals and claimed ownership of the property, it was then that Nala decided to procure the services of legal counsel to protect their rights over the property. Petitioners also contend that it was error for the CA to take note of the RTC Decision in Civil Case No. 91-8821 without further noting that the CA had already reversed and set aside said RTC Decision and ordered reconveyance of the property to Nala and her children in a Decision dated March 8, 2000 rendered in CA-G.R. CV No. 49163. Petitioners also argue that respondent did not substantiate his claim for damages. Preliminarily, the Court notes that both the RTC and the CA failed to indicate the particular provision of law under which it held petitioners liable for damages. Nevertheless, based on the allegations in respondent's complaint, it may be gathered that the basis for his claim for damages is Article 19 of the Civil Code, which provides: Art. 19. Every person must, in the exercise of his rights and in the performance of his duties, act with justice, give everyone his due, and observe honesty and good faith. The foregoing provision sets the standards which may be observed not only in the exercise of one's rights but also in the performance of one's duties. When a right is exercised in a manner which does not conform with the norms enshrined in Article 19 and results in damage to another, a legal wrong is thereby committed for which the wrongdoer must be held responsible. But a right, though by itself legal because recognized or granted by law as such, may nevertheless become the source of some illegality. A person should be protected only when he acts in the legitimate exercise of his right; that is, when he acts with prudence and in good faith, but not when he acts with negligence or abuse. There is an abuse of right when it is exercised only for the purpose of prejudicing or injuring another. The exercise of a right must be in accordance with the purpose for which it was established, and must not be excessive or unduly harsh; there must be no intention to injure another.[10] In order to be liable for damages under the abuse of rights principle, the following requisites must concur: (a) the existence of a legal right or duty; (b) which is exercised in bad faith; and (c) for the sole intent of prejudicing or injuring another. 11 It should be stressed that malice or bad faith is at the core of Article 19 of the Civil Code. Good faith is presumed, and he who alleges bad faith has the duty to prove the same.12 Bad faith, on the other hand, does not simply connote bad judgment to simple

negligence, dishonest purpose or some moral obloquy and conscious doing of a wrong, or a breach of known duty due to some motives or interest or ill will that partakes of the nature of fraud. Malice connotes ill will or spite and speaks not in response to duty. It implies an intention to do ulterior and unjustifiable harm. 13 In the present case, there is nothing on record which will prove that Nala and her counsel, Atty. Del Prado, acted in bad faith or malice in sending the demand letters to respondent. In the first place, there was ground for Nala's actions since she believed that the property was owned by her husband Eulogio Duyan and that respondent was illegally occupying the same. She had no knowledge that spouses Gomez violated the trust imposed on them by Eulogio and surreptitiously sold a portion of the property to respondent. It was only after respondent filed the case for damages against Nala that she learned of such sale. The bare fact that respondent claims ownership over the property does not give rise to the conclusion that the sending of the demand letters by Nala was done in bad faith. Absent any evidence presented by respondent, bad faith or malice could not be attributed to petitioner since Nala was only trying to protect their interests over the property. Moreover, respondent failed to show that Nala and Atty. Del Prado's acts were done with the sole intention of prejudicing and injuring him. It may be true that respondent suffered mental anguish, serious anxiety and sleepless nights when he received the demand letters; however, there is a material distinction between damages and injury. Injury is the legal invasion of a legal right while damage is the hurt, loss or harm which results from the injury. 14 Thus, there can be damage without injury in those instances in which the loss or harm was not the result of a violation of a legal duty. In such cases, the consequences must be borne by the injured person alone; the law affords no remedy for damages resulting from an act which does not amount to a legal injury or wrong. These situations are often called damnum absque injuria.15 Nala was acting well within her rights when she instructed Atty. Del Prado to send the demand letters. She had to take all the necessary legal steps to enforce her legal/equitable rights over the property occupied by respondent. One who makes use of his own legal right does no injury. 16 Thus, whatever damages are suffered by respondent should be borne solely by him. Nala's acts in protecting her rights over the property find further solid ground in the fact that the property has already been ordered reconveyed to her and her heirs. In its Decision dated March 8, 2000 in CA-G.R. CV No. 49163, the CA reversed and set aside the RTC's Decision and ordered the reconveyance of the property to petitioners, and TCT No. 281115 was declared canceled. Said CA Decision was affirmed by this Court in its Decision dated March 18, 2005 in G.R. No. 144148, which became final and executory on July 27, 2005. WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The Decision dated December 19, 2002 and Resolution dated October 28, 2003 rendered by the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 48580 are NULLIFIED. Civil Case No. Q-91-10541 is DISMISSED for lack of merit. Costs against respondent. SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. L-14628

September 30, 1960

FRANCISCO HERMOSISIMA, petitioner, vs. THE HON. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL., respondents. Regino Hermosisima for petitioner. F.P. Gabriel, Jr. for respondents. CONCEPCION, J.: An appeal by certiorari, taken by petitioner Francisco Hermosisima, from a decision of Court of Appeals modifying that of the Court of First Instance of Cebu.

On October 4, 1954, Soledad Cagigas, hereinafter referred to as complaint, filed with said of her child, Chris Hermosisima, as natural child and moral damages for alleged breach of promise. Petitioner admitted the paternity of child and expressed willingness to support the latter, but denied having ever promised to marry the complainant. Upon her motion, said court ordered petitioner, on October 27, 1954, to pay, by way of alimony pendente lite, P50.00 a month, which was, on February 16, 1955, reduced to P30.00 a month. In due course, later on, said court rendered a decision the dispositive part of which reads: WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered, declaring the child, Chris Hermosisima, as the natural daughter of defendant, and confirming the order pendente lite, ordering defendant to pay to the said child, through plaintiff, the sum of thirty pesos (P30.00), payable on or before the fifth day of every month sentencing defendant to pay to plaintiff the sum of FOUR THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED PESOS (P4,500.00) for actual and compensatory damages; the sum of FIVE THOUSAND PESOS (P5,000.00) as moral damages; and the further sum of FIVE HUNDRED PESOS (P500.00) as attorney's fees for plaintiff, with costs against defendant. On appeal taken by petitioner, the Court of Appeals affirmed this decision, except as to the actual and compensatory damages and the moral damages, which were increased to P5,614.25 and P7,000.00, respectively. The main issue before us is whether moral damages are recoverable, under our laws, for breach of promise to marry. The pertinent facts are: Complainant Soledad Cagigas, was born in July 1917. Since 1950, Soledad then a teacher in the Sibonga Provincial High School in Cebu, and petitioner, who was almost ten (10) years younger than she, used to go around together and were regarded as engaged, although he had made no promise of marriage prior thereto. In 1951, she gave up teaching and became a life insurance underwriter in the City of Cebu, where intimacy developed among her and the petitioner, since one evening in 1953, when after coming from the movies, they had sexual intercourse in his cabin on board M/V "Escao," to which he was then attached as apprentice pilot. In February 1954, Soledad advised petitioner that she was in the family way, whereupon he promised to marry her. Their child, Chris Hermosisima, was born on June 17, 1954, in a private maternity and clinic. However, subsequently, or on July 24, 1954, defendant married one Romanita Perez. Hence, the present action, which was commenced on or about October 4, 1954. Referring now to the issue above referred to, it will be noted that the Civil Code of Spain permitted the recovery of damages for breach to marry. Article 43 and 44 of said Code provides: ART. 43. A mutual promise of marriage shall not give rise to an obligation to contract marriage. No court shall entertain any complaint by which the enforcement of such promise is sought. ART. 44. If the promise has been in a public or private instrument by an adult, or by a minor with the concurrence of the person whose consent is necessary for the celebration of the marriage, or if the banns have been published, the one who without just cause refuses to marry shall be obliged to reimburse the other for the expenses which he or she may have incurred by reason of the promised marriage. The action for reimbursement of expenses to which the foregoing article refers must be brought within one year, computed from the day of the refusal to celebrate the marriage. Inasmuch as these articles were never in force in the Philippines, this Court ruled in De Jesus vs. Syquia (58 Phil., 866), that "the action for breach of promises to marry has no standing in the civil law, apart from the right to recover money or property advanced . . . upon the faith of such promise". The Code Commission charged with the drafting of the Proposed Civil Code of the Philippines deem it best, however, to change the law thereon. We quote from the report of the Code Commission on said Proposed Civil Code: Articles 43 and 44 the Civil Code of 1889 refer to the promise of marriage. But these articles are not enforced in the Philippines. The subject is regulated in the Proposed Civil Code not only as to the aspect treated of in said articles but also in other particulars. It is advisable to furnish legislative solutions to some questions that might arise relative to betrothal. Among the provisions proposed are: That authorizing the adjudication of moral damages, in case of breach of promise of marriage, and that creating liability for causing a marriage engagement to be broken. 1awphl.nt Accordingly, the following provisions were inserted in said Proposed Civil Code, under Chapter I, Title III, Book I thereof: Art. 56. A mutual promise to marry may be made expressly or impliedly.

Art. 57. An engagement to be married must be agreed directly by the future spouses. Art. 58. A contract for a future marriage cannot, without the consent of the parent or guardian, be entered into by a male between the ages of sixteen and twenty years or by a female between the ages of sixteen and eighteen years. Without such consent of the parents or guardian, the engagement to marry cannot be the basis of a civil action for damages in case of breach of the promise. Art. 59. A promise to marry when made by a female under the age of fourteen years is not civilly actionable, even though approved by the parent or guardian. Art. 60. In cases referred to in the proceeding articles, the criminal and civil responsibility of a male for seduction shall not be affected. Art. 61. No action for specific performance of a mutual promise to marry may be brought. Art. 62. An action for breach of promise to marry may be brought by the aggrieved party even though a minor without the assistance of his parent or guardian. Should the minor refuse to bring suit, the parent or guardian may institute the action. Art. 63. Damages for breach of promise to marry shall include not only material and pecuniary losses but also compensation for mental and moral suffering. Art. 64. Any person, other than a rival, the parents, guardians and grandparents, of the affianced parties, who cause a marriage engagement to be broken shall be liable for damages, both material and moral, to the engaged person who is rejected. Art. 65. In case of breach of promise to marry, the party breaking the engagement shall be obliged to return what he or she has received from the other as gift on account of the promise of the marriage. These article were, however, eliminated in Congress. The reason therefor are set forth in the report of the corresponding Senate Committee, from which we quote: The elimination of this Chapter is proposed. That breach of promise to marry is not actionable has been definitely decide in the case of De Jesus vs. Syquia, 58 Phil., 866. The history of breach of promise suit in the United States and in England has shown that no other action lends itself more readily to abuse by designing women and unscrupulous men. It is this experience which has led to the abolition of the rights of action in the so-called Balm suit in many of the American States. See statutes of: Florida 1945 pp. 1342 1344 Maryland 1945 pp. 1759 1762 Nevada 1943 p. 75 Maine 1941 pp. 140 141 New Hampshire 1941 p. 223 California 1939 p. 1245 Massachusetts 1938 p. 326 Indiana 1936 p. 1009 Michigan 1935 p. 201 New York 1935 Pennsylvania p. 450 The Commission perhaps though that it has followed the more progression trend in legislation when it provided for breach of promise to marry suits. But it is clear that the creation of such causes of action at a time when so many States, in consequence of years of experience are doing away with them, may well prove to be a step in the wrong direction. (Congressional Record, Vol. IV, No. 79, Thursday, May 19, 1949, p. 2352.) The views thus expressed were accepted by both houses of Congress. In the light of the clear and manifest intent of our law making body not to sanction actions for breach of promise to marry, the award of moral damages made by the lower courts is, accordingly, untenable. The Court of Appeals said award:

Moreover, it appearing that because of defendant-appellant's seduction power, plaintiff-appellee, overwhelmed by her love for him finally yielded to his sexual desires in spite of her age and self-control, she being a woman after all, we hold that said defendant-appellant is liable for seduction and, therefore, moral damages may be recovered from him under the provision of Article 2219, paragraph 3, of the new Civil Code. Apart from the fact that the general tenor of said Article 2219, particularly the paragraphs preceding and those following the one cited by the Court of Appeals, and the language used in said paragraph strongly indicates that the "seduction" therein contemplated is the crime punished as such in Article as such in Article 337 and 338 of the Revised Penal Code, which admittedly does not exist in the present case, we find ourselves unable to say that petitioner is morally guilty of seduction, not only because he is approximately ten (10) years younger than the complainant who around thirty-six (36) years of age, and as highly enlightened as a former high school teacher and a life insurance agent are supposed to be when she became intimate with petitioner, then a mere apprentice pilot, but, also, because, the court of first instance found that, complainant "surrendered herself" to petitioner because, "overwhelmed by her love" for him, she "wanted to bind" "by having a fruit of their engagement even before they had the benefit of clergy." The court of first instance sentenced petitioner to pay the following: (1) a monthly pension of P30.00 for the support of the child: (2) P4,500, representing the income that complainant had allegedly failed to earn during her pregnancy and shortly after the birth of the child, as actual and compensation damages; (3) P5,000, as moral damages; and (4) P500.00, as attorney's fees. The Court of Appeals added to the second item the sum of P1,114.25 consisting of P144.20, for hospitalization and medical attendance, in connection with the parturiation, and the balance representing expenses incurred to support the child and increased the moral damages to P7,000.00. With the elimination of this award for damages, the decision of the Court of Appeals is hereby affirmed, therefore, in all other respects, without special pronouncement as to cost in this instance. It is so ordered.

G.R. No. 107383

February 20, 1996

CECILIA ZULUETA, petitioner, vs. COURT OF APPEALS and ALFREDO MARTIN, respondents. DECISION MENDOZA, J.: This is a petition to review the decision of the Court of Appeals, affirming the decision of the Regional Trial Court of Manila (Branch X) which ordered petitioner to return documents and papers taken by her from private respondent's clinic without the latter's knowledge and consent. The facts are as follows: Petitioner Cecilia Zulueta is the wife of private respondent Alfredo Martin. On March 26, 1982, petitioner entered the clinic of her husband, a doctor of medicine, and in the presence of her mother, a driver and private respondent's secretary, forcibly opened the drawers and cabinet in her husband's clinic and took 157 documents consisting of private correspondence between Dr. Martin and his alleged paramours, greetings cards, cancelled checks, diaries, Dr. Martin's passport, and photographs. The documents and papers were seized for use in evidence in a case for legal separation and for disqualification from the practice of medicine which petitioner had filed against her husband. Dr. Martin brought this action below for recovery of the documents and papers and for damages against petitioner. The case was filed with the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch X, which, after trial, rendered judgment for private respondent, Dr. Alfredo Martin, declaring him "the capital/exclusive owner of the properties described in paragraph 3 of plaintiff's Complaint or those further described in the Motion to Return and Suppress" and ordering Cecilia Zulueta and any person acting in her behalf to a immediately return the properties to Dr. Martin and to pay him P5,000.00, as nominal damages; P5,000.00, as moral damages and attorney's fees; and to pay the costs of the suit. The writ of preliminary injunction earlier issued was made final and petitioner

Cecilia Zulueta and her attorneys and representatives were enjoined from "using or submitting/admitting as evidence" the documents and papers in question. On appeal, the Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the Regional Trial Court. Hence this petition. There is no question that the documents and papers in question belong to private respondent, Dr. Alfredo Martin, and that they were taken by his wife, the herein petitioner, without his knowledge and consent. For that reason, the trial court declared the documents and papers to be properties of private respondent, ordered petitioner to return them to private respondent and enjoined her from using them in evidence. In appealing from the decision of the Court of Appeals affirming the trial court's decision, petitioner's only ground is that in Alfredo Martin v. Alfonso Felix, Jr., 1 this Court ruled that the documents and papers (marked as Annexes A-1 to J-7 of respondent's comment in that case) were admissible in evidence and, therefore, their use by petitioner's attorney, Alfonso Felix did not constitute malpractice or gross misconduct, For this reason it is contended that the Court of Appeals erred in affirming the decision of the trial court instead of dismissing private respondent's complaint. Petitioner's contention has no merit. The case against Atty. Felix, Jr. was for disbarment. Among other things, private respondent, Dr. Alfredo Martin, as complainant in that case, charged that in using the documents in evidence, Atty. Felix, Jr. committed malpractice or gross misconduct because of the injunctive order of the trial court. In dismissing the complaint against Atty. Felix, Jr., this Court took note of the following defense of Atty. Felix; Jr. which it found to be "impressed with merit:" 2 On the alleged malpractice or gross misconduct of respondent [Alfonso Felix, Jr.], he maintains that:

.... 4. When respondent refiled Cecilia's case for legal separation before the Pasig Regional Trial Court, there was admittedly an order of the Manila Regional Trial Court prohibiting Cecilia from using the documents Annex "A-1 to J-7." On September 6, 1983, however having appealed the said order to this Court on a petition for certiorari, this Court issued a restraining order on aforesaid date which order temporarily set aside the order of the trial court. Hence, during the enforceability of this Court's order, respondent's request for petitioner to admit the genuineness and authenticity of the subject annexes cannot be looked upon as malpractice. Notably, petitioner Dr. Martin finally admitted the truth and authenticity of the questioned annexes, At that point in time, would it have been malpractice for respondent to use petitioner's admission as evidence against him in the legal separation case pending in the Regional Trial Court of Makati? Respondent submits it is not malpractice. Significantly, petitioner's admission was done not thru his counsel but by Dr. Martin himself under oath, Such verified admission constitutes an affidavit, and, therefore, receivable in evidence against him. Petitioner became bound by his admission. For Cecilia to avail herself of her husband's admission and use the same in her action for legal separation cannot be treated as malpractice.

Thus, the acquittal of Atty. Felix, Jr. in the administrative case amounts to no more than a declaration that his use of the documents and papers for the purpose of securing Dr. Martin's admission as to their genuiness and authenticity did not constitute a violation of the injunctive order of the trial court. By no means does the decision in that case establish the admissibility of the documents and papers in question. It cannot be overemphasized that if Atty. Felix, Jr. was acquitted of the charge of violating the writ of preliminary injunction issued by the trial court, it was only because, at the time he used the documents and papers, enforcement of the order of the trial court was temporarily restrained by this Court. The TRO issued by this Court was eventually lifted as the petition for certiorari filed by petitioner against the trial court's order was dismissed and, therefore, the prohibition against the further use of the documents and papers became effective again.

Indeed the documents and papers in question are inadmissible in evidence. The constitutional injunction declaring "the privacy of communication and correspondence [to be] inviolable" 3 is no less applicable simply because it is the wife (who thinks herself aggrieved by her husband's infidelity) who is the party against whom the constitutional provision is to be enforced. The only

exception to the prohibition in the Constitution is if there is a "lawful order [from a] court or when public safety or order requires otherwise, as prescribed by law." 4 Any violation of this provision renders the evidence obtained inadmissible "for any purpose in any proceeding." 5 The intimacies between husband and wife do not justify any one of them in breaking the drawers and cabinets of the other and in ransacking them for any telltale evidence of marital infidelity. A person, by contracting marriage, does not shed his/her integrity or his right to privacy as an individual and the constitutional protection is ever available to him or to her. The law insures absolute freedom of communication between the spouses by making it privileged. Neither husband nor wife may testify for or against the other without the consent of the affected spouse while the marriage subsists. 6 Neither may be examined without the consent of the other as to any communication received in confidence by one from the other during the marriage, save for specified exceptions.7 But one thing is freedom of communication; quite another is a compulsion for each one to share what one knows with the other. And this has nothing to do with the duty of fidelity that each owes to the other. WHEREFORE, the petition for review is DENIED for lack of merit. SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 83598 March 7, 1997 LEONCIA BALOGBOG and GAUDIOSO BALOGBOG, petitioners, vs. HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, RAMONITO BALOGBOG and GENEROSO BALOGBOG, respondents.

MENDOZA, J.: This is a petition for review of the decision 1 of the Court of Appeals, affirming the decision of the Court of First Instance of Cebu City (Branch IX), declaring private respondents heirs of the deceased Basilio and Genoveva Balogbog entitled to inherit from them. The facts are as follows. Petitioners Leoncia and Gaudioso Balogbog are the children of Basilio Balogbog and Genoveva Arzibal who died intestate in 1951 and 1961, respectively. They had an older brother, Gavino, but he died in 1935, predeceasing their parents. In 1968, private respondents Ramonito and Generoso Balogbog brought an action for partition and accounting against petitioners, claiming that they were the legitimate children of Gavino by Catalina Ubas and that, as such, they were entitled to the one-third share of Gavino in the estate of their grandparents. In their answer, petitioners denied knowing private respondents. They alleged that their brother Gavino died single and without issue in their parents' residence at Tag-amakan, Asturias, Cebu. In the beginning they claimed that the properties of the estate had been sold to them by their mother when she was still alive, but they later withdrew this allegation. Private respondents presented Priscilo Y. Trazo, 2 then 81 years old, mayor of the municipality of Asturias from 1928 to 1934, who testified that he knew Gavino and Catalina to be husband and wife and Ramonito to be their first child. On crossexamination, Trazo explained that he knew Gavino and Catalina because they performed at his campaign rallies, Catalina as "balitaw" dancer and Gavino Balogbog as her guitarist. Trazo said he attended the wedding of Gavino and Catalina sometime in 1929, in which Rev. Father Emiliano Jomao-as officiated and Egmidio Manuel, then a municipal councilor, acted as one of the witnesses. The second witness presented was Matias Pogoy, 3 a family friend of private respondents, who testified that private respondents are the children of Gavino and Catalina. According to him, the wedding of Gavino and Catalina was solemnized in the Catholic Church of Asturias, Cebu and that he knew this because he attended their wedding and was in fact asked by Gavino to accompany

Catalina and carry her wedding dress from her residence in Camanaol to the poblacion of Asturias before the wedding day. He testified that Gavino died in 1935 in his residence at Obogon, Balamban, Cebu, in the presence of his wife. (This contradicts petitioners' claim made in their answer that Gavino died in the ancestral house at Tag-amakan, Asturias.) Pogoy said he was a carpenter and he was the one who had made the coffin of Gavino. He also made the coffin of the couple's son, Petronilo, who died when he was six. Catalina Ubas testified concerning her marriage to Gavino. 4 She testified that after the wedding, she was handed a "receipt," presumably the marriage certificate, by Fr. Jomao-as, but it was burned during the war. She said that she and Gavino lived together in Obogon and begot three children, namely, Ramonito, Petronilo, and Generoso. Petronilo died after an illness at the age of six. On crossexamination, she stated that after the death of Gavino, she lived in common law relation with a man for a year and then they separated. Private respondents produced a certificate from the Office of the Local Civil Registrar (Exh. P) that the Register of Marriages did not have a record of the marriage of Gavino and Catalina, another certificate from the Office of the Treasurer (Exh. L) that there was no record of the birth of Ramonito in that office and, for this reason, the record must be presumed to have been lost or destroyed during the war, and a certificate by the Parish Priest of Asturias that there was likewise no record of birth of Ramonito in the church, the records of which were either lost or destroyed during the war. (Exh. M) On the other hand, as defendant below, petitioner Leoncia Balogbog testified 5 that Gavino died single at the family residence in Asturias. She denied that her brother had any legitimate children and stated that she did not know private respondents before this case was filed. She obtained a certificate (Exh. 10) from the Local Civil Registrar of Asturias to the effect that that office did not have a record of the names of Gavino and Catalina. The certificate was prepared by Assistant Municipal Treasurer Juan Maranga, who testified that there was no record of the marriage of Gavino and Catalina in the Book of Marriages between 1925 to 1935. 6 Witness Jose Narvasa testified 7 that Gavino died single in 1935 and that Catalina lived with a certain Eleuterio Keriado after the war, although he did not know whether they were legally married. He added, however, that Catalina had children by a man she had married before the war, although he did not know the names of the children. On crossexamination, Narvasa stated that Leoncia Balogbog, who requested him to testify, was also his bondsman in a criminal case filed by a certain Mr. Cuyos. Ramonito Balogbog was presented 8 to rebut Leoncia Balogbog's testimony. On June 15, 1973, the Court of First Instance of Cebu City rendered judgment for private respondents (plaintiffs below), ordering petitioners to render an accounting from 1960 until the finality of its judgment, to partition the estate and deliver to private respondents one-third of the estate of Basilio and Genoveva, and to pay attorney's fees and costs. Petitioners filed a motion for new trial and/or reconsideration, contending that the trial court erred in not giving weight to the certification of the Office of the Municipal Treasurer of Asturias (Exh. 10) to the effect that no marriage of Gavino and Catalina was recorded in the Book of Marriages for the years 1925-1935. Their motion was denied by the trial court, as was their second motion for new trial and/or reconsideration based on the church records of the parish of Asturias which did not contain the record of the alleged marriage in that church. On appeal, the Court of Appeals affirmed. It held that private respondents failed to overcome the legal presumption that a man and a woman deporting themselves as husband and wife are in fact married, that a child is presumed to be legitimate, and that things happen according to the ordinary course of nature and the ordinary habits of life. 9 Hence, this petition. We find no reversible error committed by the Court of Appeals. First. Petitioners contend that the marriage of Gavino and Catalina should have been proven in accordance with Arts. 53 and 54 of the Civil Code of 1889 because this was the law in force at the time the alleged marriage was celebrated. Art. 53 provides that marriages celebrated under the Civil Code of 1889 should be proven only by a certified copy of the memorandum in the Civil Registry, unless the books thereof have not been kept or have been lost, or unless they are questioned in the courts, in which case any other proof, such as that of the continuous possession by parents of the status of husband and wife, may be considered, provided that the registration of the birth of their children as their legitimate children is also submitted in evidence. This Court noted long ago, however, that Arts. 42 to 107 of the Civil Code of 1889 of Spain did not take effect, having been suspended by the Governor General of the Philippines shortly after the extension of that code to this country. 10 Consequently, Arts. 53 and 54 never came into force. Since this case was brought in the lower court in 1968, the existence of the marriage must be determined in accordance with the present Civil Code, which repealed the provisions of the

former Civil Code, except as they related to vested rights, 11 and the rules on evidence. Under the Rules of Court, the presumption is that a man and a woman conducting themselves as husband and wife are legally married. 12 This presumption may be rebutted only by cogent proof to the contrary. 13 In this case, petitioners' claim that the certification presented by private respondents (to the effect that the record of the marriage had been lost or destroyed during the war) was belied by the production of the Book of Marriages by the assistant municipal treasurer of Asturias. Petitioners argue that this book does not contain any entry pertaining to the alleged marriage of private respondents' parents. This contention has no merit. In Pugeda v. Trias, 14 the defendants, who questioned the marriage of the plaintiffs, produced a photostatic copy of the record of marriages of the Municipality of Rosario, Cavite for the month of January, 1916, to show that there was no record of the alleged marriage. Nonetheless, evidence consisting of the testimonies of witnesses was held competent to prove the marriage. Indeed, although a marriage contract is considered primary evidence of marriage, 15 the failure to present it is not proof that no marriage took place. Other evidence may be presented to prove marriage. 16 Here, private respondents proved, through testimonial evidence, that Gavino and Catalina were married in 1929; that they had three children, one of whom died in infancy; that their marriage subsisted until 1935 when Gavino died; and that their children, private respondents herein, were recognized by Gavino's family and by the public as the legitimate children of Gavino. Neither is there merit in the argument that the existence of the marriage cannot be presumed because there was no evidence showing in particular that Gavino and Catalina, in the presence of two witnesses, declared that they were taking each other as husband and wife. 17 An exchange of vows can be presumed to have been made from the testimonies of the witnesses who state that a wedding took place, since the very purpose for having a wedding is to exchange vows of marital commitment. It would indeed be unusual to have a wedding without an exchange of vows and quite unnatural for people not to notice its absence. The law favors the validity of marriage, because the State is interested in the preservation of the family and the sanctity of the family is a matter of constitutional concern. As stated in Adong v. Cheong Seng Gee: 18 The basis of human society throughout the civilized world is that of marriage. Marriage in this jurisdiction is not only a civil contract, but it is a new relation, an institution in the maintenance of which the public is deeply interested. Consequently, every intendment of the law leans toward legalizing matrimony. Persons dwelling together in apparent matrimony are presumed, in the absence of any counter-presumption or evidence special to the case, to be in fact married. The reason is that such is the common order of society, and if the parties were not what they thus hold themselves out as being, they would be living in the constant violation of decency and of law. A presumption established by our Code of Civil Procedure is "that a man and a woman deporting themselves as husband and wife have entered into a lawful contract of marriage." (Sec. 334, No. 28) Semper praesumitur pro matrimonio Always presume marriage. (U.S. vs. Villafuerte and Rabano [1905], 4 Phil., 476; Son Cui vs. Guepangco, supra; U.S. vs. Memoracion and Uri [1916], 34 Phil., 633; Teter vs. Teter [1884], 101 Ind., 129.) Second. Petitioners contend that private respondents' reliance solely on testimonial evidence to support their claim that private respondents had been in the continuous possession of the status of legitimate children is contrary to Art. 265 of the Civil Code which provides that such status shall be proven by the record of birth in the Civil Register, by an authentic document or by final judgment. But in accordance with Arts. 266 and 267, in the absence of titles indicated in Art. 265, the filiation of children may be proven by continuous possession of the status of a legitimate child and by any other means allowed by the Rules of Court or special laws. Thus the Civil Code provides: Art. 266. In the absence of the titles indicated in the preceding article, the filiation shall be proved by the continuous possession of status of a legitimate child. Art. 267. In the absence of a record of birth, authentic document, final judgment or possession of status, legitimate filiation may be proved by any other means allowed by the Rules of Court and special laws. Petitioners contend that there is no justification for presenting testimonies as to the possession by private respondents of the status of legitimate children because the Book of Marriages for the years 1928-1929 is available. What is in issue, however, is not the marriage of Gavino and Catalina but the filiation of private respondents as their children. The marriage of Gavino and Catalina has already been shown in the preceding discussion. The treasurer of Asturias, Cebu certified that the records of birth of that municipality for the year 1930 could not be found, presumably because they were lost or destroyed during the war (Exh. L). But Matias Pogoy testified that Gavino and Catalina begot three children, one of whom, Petronilo, died at the age of six. Catalina testified that private respondents Ramonito and Generoso are her children by Gavino Balogbog. That private respondents are the children of Gavino and Catalina Balogbog cannot therefore be doubted.

Moreover, the evidence in the record shows that petitioner Gaudioso Balogbog admitted to the police of Balamban, Cebu that Ramonito is his nephew. As the Court of Appeals found: Ironically, it is appellant Gaudioso himself who supplies the clincher that tips the balance in favor of the appellees. In an investigation before the Police Investigating Committee of Balamban, Cebu, held on March 8, 1968, conducted for the purpose of inquiring into a complaint filed by Ramonito against a patrolman of the Balamban police force, Gaudioso testified that the complainant in that administrative case is his nephew. Excerpts from the transcript of the proceedings conducted on that date (Exhs. "N", "N-1", "N-2", "N-3" and "N4") read: Atty. Kiamco May it please this investigative body. Q. Do you know the complainant in this Administrative Case No. 1? A. Yes I know. Q. Why do you know him? A. I know because he is my nephew. Q. Are you in good terms with your nephew, the complainant? A. Yes. Q. Do you mean to say that you are close to him? A. Yes. We are close. Q. Why do you say you are close? A. We are close because aside from the fact that he is my nephew we were also leaving ( sic) in the same house in Butuan City, and I even barrow ( sic) from him money in the amount of P300.00, when I return to Balamban, Cebu. xxx xxx xxx Q. Why is Ramonito Balogbog your nephew? A. Because he is the son of my elder brother. This admission of relationship is admissible against Gaudioso although made in another case. It is considered as a reliable declaration against interest (Rule 130, Section 22). Significantly, Gaudioso did not try to offer any explanation to blunt the effects of that declaration. He did not even testify during the trial. Such silence can only mean that Ramonito is indeed the nephew of Gaudioso, the former being the son of Gavino. WHEREFORE, the decision appealed from is AFFIRMED. SO ORDERED.

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 determ ination.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 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 that 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. 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 allegation 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.

G.R. No. 138322

October 2, 2001

GRACE J. GARCIA, a.k.a. GRACE J. GARCIA-RECIO, petitioner, vs. REDERICK A. RECIO, respondents. PANGANIBAN, J.: A divorce obtained abroad by an alien may be recognized in our jurisdiction, provided such decree is valid according to the national law of the foreigner. However, the divorce decree and the governing personal law of the alien spouse who obtained the divorce must be proven. Our courts do not take judicial notice of foreign laws and judgment; hence, like any other facts, both the divorce decree and the national law of the alien must be alleged and proven according to our law on evidence. The Case Before us is a Petition for Review under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, seeking to nullify the January 7, 1999 Decision 1 and the March 24, 1999 Order2 of the Regional Trial Court of Cabanatuan City, Branch 28, in Civil Case No. 3026-AF. The assailed Decision disposed as follows: "WHEREFORE, this Court declares the marriage between Grace J. Garcia and Rederick A. Recio solemnized on January 12, 1994 at Cabanatuan City as dissolved and both parties can now remarry under existing and applicable laws to any and/or both parties."3 The assailed Order denied reconsideration of the above-quoted Decision. The Facts Rederick A. Recio, a Filipino, was married to Editha Samson, an Australian citizen, in Malabon, Rizal, on March 1, 1987. 4 They lived together as husband and wife in Australia. On May 18, 1989, 5 a decree of divorce, purportedly dissolving the marriage, was issued by an Australian family court.

On June 26, 1992, respondent became an Australian citizen, as shown by a "Certificate of Australian Citizenship" issued by the Australian government.6 Petitioner a Filipina and respondent were married on January 12, 1994 in Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church in Cabanatuan City.7 In their application for a marriage license, respondent was declared as "single" and "Filipino." 8 Starting October 22, 1995, petitioner and respondent lived separately without prior judicial dissolution of their marriage. While the two were still in Australia, their conjugal assets were divided on May 16, 1996, in accordance with their Statutory Declarations secured in Australia.9 On March 3, 1998, petitioner filed a Complaint for Declaration of Nullity of Marriage 10 in the court a quo, on the ground of bigamy respondent allegedly had a prior subsisting marriage at the time he married her on January 12, 1994. She claimed that she learned of respondent's marriage to Editha Samson only in November, 1997. In his Answer, respondent averred that, as far back as 1993, he had revealed to petitioner his prior marriage and its subsequent dissolution.11 He contended that his first marriage to an Australian citizen had been validly dissolved by a divorce decree obtained in Australian in 1989;12 thus, he was legally capacitated to marry petitioner in 1994. 1wphi1.nt On July 7, 1998 or about five years after the couple's wedding and while the suit for the declaration of nullity was pending respondent was able to secure a divorce decree from a family court in Sydney, Australia because the "marriage ha[d] irretrievably broken down."13 Respondent prayed in his Answer that the Complained be dismissed on the ground that it stated no cause of action. 14 The Office of the Solicitor General agreed with respondent.15 The court marked and admitted the documentary evidence of both parties. 16 After they submitted their respective memoranda, the case was submitted for resolution. 17 Thereafter, the trial court rendered the assailed Decision and Order. Ruling of the Trial Court The trial court declared the marriage dissolved on the ground that the divorce issued in Australia was valid and recognized in the Philippines. It deemed the marriage ended, but not on the basis of any defect in an essential element of the marriage; that is, respondent's alleged lack of legal capacity to remarry. Rather, it based its Decision on the divorce decree obtained by respondent. The Australian divorce had ended the marriage; thus, there was no more martial union to nullify or annual. Hence, this Petition.18 Issues Petitioner submits the following issues for our consideration: "I The trial court gravely erred in finding that the divorce decree obtained in Australia by the respondent ipso facto terminated his first marriage to Editha Samson thereby capacitating him to contract a second marriage with the petitioner. "2 The failure of the respondent, who is now a naturalized Australian, to present a certificate of legal capacity to marry constitutes absence of a substantial requisite voiding the petitioner' marriage to the respondent. "3 The trial court seriously erred in the application of Art. 26 of the Family Code in this case. "4 The trial court patently and grievously erred in disregarding Arts. 11, 13, 21, 35, 40, 52 and 53 of the Family Code as the applicable provisions in this case.

"5 The trial court gravely erred in pronouncing that the divorce gravely erred in pronouncing that the divorce decree obtained by the respondent in Australia ipso facto capacitated the parties to remarry, without first securing a recognition of the judgment granting the divorce decree before our courts." 19 The Petition raises five issues, but for purposes of this Decision, we shall concentrate on two pivotal ones: (1) whether the divorce between respondent and Editha Samson was proven, and (2) whether respondent was proven to be legally capacitated to marry petitioner. Because of our ruling on these two, there is no more necessity to take up the rest. The Court's Ruling The Petition is partly meritorious. First Issue: Proving the Divorce Between Respondent and Editha Samson Petitioner assails the trial court's recognition of the divorce between respondent and Editha Samson. Citing Adong v. Cheong Seng Gee,20 petitioner argues that the divorce decree, like any other foreign judgment, may be given recognition in this jurisdiction only upon proof of the existence of (1) the foreign law allowing absolute divorce and (2) the alleged divorce decree itself. She adds that respondent miserably failed to establish these elements. Petitioner adds that, based on the first paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code, marriages solemnized abroad are governed by the law of the place where they were celebrated (the lex loci celebrationist). In effect, the Code requires the presentation of the foreign law to show the conformity of the marriage in question to the legal requirements of the place where the marriage was performed. At the outset, we lay the following basic legal principles as the take-off points for our discussion. Philippine law does not provide for absolute divorce; hence, our courts cannot grant it. 21 A marriage between two Filipinos cannot be dissolved even by a divorce obtained abroad, because of Articles 1522 and 1723 of the Civil Code.24 In mixed marriages involving a Filipino and a foreigner, Article 2625 of the Family Code allows the former to contract a subsequent marriage in case the divorce is "validly obtained abroad by the alien spouse capacitating him or her to remarry."26 A divorce obtained abroad by a couple, who are both aliens, may be recognized in the Philippines, provided it is consistent with their respective national laws. 27 A comparison between marriage and divorce, as far as pleading and proof are concerned, can be made. Van Dorn v. Romillo Jr. decrees that "aliens may obtain divorces abroad, which may be recognized in the Philippines, provided they are valid according to their national law."28 Therefore, before a foreign divorce decree can be recognized by our courts, the party pleading it must prove the divorce as a fact and demonstrate its conformity to the foreign law allowing it. 29 Presentation solely of the divorce decree is insufficient. Divorce as a Question of Fact Petitioner insists that before a divorce decree can be admitted in evidence, it must first comply with the registration requirements under Articles 11, 13 and 52 of the Family Code. These articles read as follows: "ART. 11. Where a marriage license is required, each of the contracting parties shall file separately a sworn application for such license with the proper local civil registrar which shall specify the following: xxx xxx xxx

"(5) If previously married, how, when and where the previous marriage was dissolved or annulled; xxx xxx xxx

"ART. 13. In case either of the contracting parties has been previously married, the applicant shall be required to furnish, instead of the birth of baptismal certificate required in the last preceding article, the death certificate of the deceased spouse or the judicial decree of annulment or declaration of nullity of his or her previous marriage. x x x. "ART. 52. The judgment of annulment or of absolute nullity of the marriage, the partition and distribution of the properties of the spouses, and the delivery of the children's presumptive legitimes shall be recorded in the appropriate civil registry and registries of property; otherwise, the same shall not affect their persons." Respondent, on the other hand, argues that the Australian divorce decree is a public document a written official act of an Australian family court. Therefore, it requires no further proof of its authenticity and due execution. Respondent is getting ahead of himself. Before a foreign judgment is given presumptive evidentiary value, the document must first be presented and admitted in evidence.30 A divorce obtained abroad is proven by the divorce decree itself. Indeed the best evidence of a judgment is the judgment itself.31 The decree purports to be a written act or record of an act of an officially body or tribunal of a foreign country.32 Under Sections 24 and 25 of Rule 132, on the other hand, a writing or document may be proven as a public or official record of a foreign country by either (1) an official publication or (2) a copy thereof attested 33 by the officer having legal custody of the document. If the record is not kept in the Philippines, such copy 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.34 The divorce decree between respondent and Editha Samson appears to be an authentic one issued by an Australian family court.35 However, appearance is not sufficient; compliance with the aforemetioned rules on evidence must be demonstrated. Fortunately for respondent's cause, when the divorce decree of May 18, 1989 was submitted in evidence, counsel for petitioner objected, not to its admissibility, but only to the fact that it had not been registered in the Local Civil Registry of Cabanatuan City.36 The trial court ruled that it was admissible, subject to petitioner's qualification. 37 Hence, it was admitted in evidence and accorded weight by the judge. Indeed, petitioner's failure to object properly rendered the divorce decree admissible as a written act of the Family Court of Sydney, Australia.38 Compliance with the quoted articles (11, 13 and 52) of the Family Code is not necessary; respondent was no longer bound by Philippine personal laws after he acquired Australian citizenship in 1992. 39 Naturalization is the legal act of adopting an alien and clothing him with the political and civil rights belonging to a citizen.40 Naturalized citizens, freed from the protective cloak of their former states, don the attires of their adoptive countries. By becoming an Australian, respondent severed his allegiance to the Philippines and the vinculum juris that had tied him to Philippine personal laws. Burden of Proving Australian Law Respondent contends that the burden to prove Australian divorce law falls upon petitioner, because she is the party challenging the validity of a foreign judgment. He contends that petitioner was satisfied with the original of the divorce decree and was cognizant of the marital laws of Australia, because she had lived and worked in that country for quite a long time. Besides, the Australian divorce law is allegedly known by Philippine courts: thus, judges may take judicial notice of foreign laws in the exercise of sound discretion. We are not persuaded. The burden of proof lies with "the party who alleges the existence of a fact or thing necessary in the prosecution or defense of an action." 41 In civil cases, plaintiffs have the burden of proving the material allegations of the complaint when those are denied by the answer; and defendants have the burden of proving the material allegations in their answer when they introduce new matters.42 Since the divorce was a defense raised by respondent, the burden of proving the pertinent Australian law validating it falls squarely upon him. It is well-settled in our jurisdiction that our courts cannot take judicial notice of foreign laws. 43 Like any other facts, they must be alleged and proved. Australian marital laws are not among those matters that judges are supposed to know by reason of their judicial function.44 The power of judicial notice must be exercised with caution, and every reasonable doubt upon the subject should be resolved in the negative. Second Issue:

Respondent's Legal Capacity to Remarry Petitioner contends that, in view of the insufficient proof of the divorce, respondent was legally incapacitated to marry her in 1994. Hence, she concludes that their marriage was void ab initio. Respondent replies that the Australian divorce decree, which was validly admitted in evidence, adequately established his legal capacity to marry under Australian law. Respondent's contention is untenable. In its strict legal sense, divorce means the legal dissolution of a lawful union for a cause arising after marriage. But divorces are of different types. The two basic ones are (1) absolute divorce or a vinculo matrimonii and (2) limited divorce or a mensa et thoro. The first kind terminates the marriage, while the second suspends it and leaves the bond in full force.45 There is no showing in the case at bar which type of divorce was procured by respondent. Respondent presented a decree nisi or an interlocutory decree a conditional or provisional judgment of divorce. It is in effect the same as a separation from bed and board, although an absolute divorce may follow after the lapse of the prescribed period during which no reconciliation is effected.46 Even after the divorce becomes absolute, the court may under some foreign statutes and practices, still restrict remarriage. Under some other jurisdictions, remarriage may be limited by statute; thus, the guilty party in a divorce which was granted on the ground of adultery may be prohibited from remarrying again. The court may allow a remarriage only after proof of good behavior. 47 On its face, the herein Australian divorce decree contains a restriction that reads: "1. A party to a marriage who marries again before this decree becomes absolute (unless the other party has died) commits the offence of bigamy." 48 This quotation bolsters our contention that the divorce obtained by respondent may have been restricted. It did not absolutely establish his legal capacity to remarry according to his national law. Hence, we find no basis for the ruling of the trial court, which erroneously assumed that the Australian divorce ipso facto restored respondent's capacity to remarry despite the paucity of evidence on this matter. We also reject the claim of respondent that the divorce decree raises a disputable presumption or presumptive evidence as to his civil status based on Section 48, Rule 3949 of the Rules of Court, for the simple reason that no proof has been presented on the legal effects of the divorce decree obtained under Australian laws. Significance of the Certificate of Legal Capacity Petitioner argues that the certificate of legal capacity required by Article 21 of the Family Code was not submitted together with the application for a marriage license. According to her, its absence is proof that respondent did not have legal capacity to remarry. We clarify. To repeat, the legal capacity to contract marriage is determined by the national law of the party concerned. The certificate mentioned in Article 21 of the Family Code would have been sufficient to establish the legal capacity of respondent, had he duly presented it in court. A duly authenticated and admitted certificate is prima facie evidence of legal capacity to marry on the part of the alien applicant for a marriage license.50 As it is, however, there is absolutely no evidence that proves respondent's legal capacity to marry petitioner. A review of the records before this Court shows that only the following exhibits were presented before the lower court: (1) for petitioner: (a) Exhibit "A" Complaint;51 (b) Exhibit "B" Certificate of Marriage Between Rederick A. Recto (Filipino-Australian) and Grace J. Garcia (Filipino) on January 12, 1994 in Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija; 52 (c) Exhibit "C" Certificate of Marriage Between Rederick A. Recio (Filipino) and Editha D. Samson (Australian) on March 1, 1987 in Malabon, Metro Manila; 53 (d) Exhibit "D" Office of the City Registrar of Cabanatuan City Certification that no information of annulment between Rederick A. Recto and Editha D. Samson was in its records;54 and (e) Exhibit "E" Certificate of Australian Citizenship of Rederick A. Recto;55 (2) for respondent: (Exhibit "1" Amended Answer;56 (b) Exhibit "S" Family Law Act 1975 Decree Nisi of Dissolution of Marriage in the Family Court of Australia;57 (c) Exhibit "3" Certificate of Australian Citizenship of Rederick A. Recto;58 (d) Exhibit "4" Decree Nisi of Dissolution of Marriage in the Family Court of Australia Certificate; 59 and Exhibit "5" Statutory Declaration of the Legal Separation Between Rederick A. Recto and Grace J. Garcia Recio since October 22, 1995. 60

Based on the above records, we cannot conclude that respondent, who was then a naturalized Australian citizen, was legally capacitated to marry petitioner on January 12, 1994. We agree with petitioner's contention that the court a quo erred in finding that the divorce decree ipso facto clothed respondent with the legal capacity to remarry without requiring him to adduce sufficient evidence to show the Australian personal law governing his status; or at the very least, to prove his legal capacity to contract the second marriage. Neither can we grant petitioner's prayer to declare her marriage to respondent null and void on the ground of bigamy. After all, it may turn out that under Australian law, he was really capacitated to marry petitioner as a direct result of the divorce decree. Hence, we believe that the most judicious course is to remand this case to the trial court to receive evidence, if any, which show petitioner's legal capacity to marry petitioner. Failing in that, then the court a quo may declare a nullity of the parties' marriage on the ground of bigamy, there being already in evidence two existing marriage certificates, which were both obtained in the Philippines, one in Malabon, Metro Manila dated March 1, 1987 and the other, in Cabanatuan City dated January 12, 1994. WHEREFORE, in the interest of orderly procedure and substantial justice, we REMAND the case to the court a quo for the purpose of receiving evidence which conclusively show respondent's legal capacity to marry petitioner; and failing in that, of declaring the parties' marriage void on the ground of bigamy, as above discussed. No costs. SO ORDERED.

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? 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 place 21 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. 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.

A.M. No. MTJ-02-1390 April 11, 2002 (Formerly IPI No. 01-1049-MTJ) MERCEDITA MATA ARAES, petitioner, vs. JUDGE SALVADOR M. OCCIANO, respondent. PUNO, J.: Petitioner Mercedita Mata Araes charges respondent judge with Gross Ignorance of the Law via a sworn Letter-Complaint dated 23 May 2001. Respondent is the Presiding Judge of the Municipal Trial Court of Balatan, Camarines Sur. Petitioner alleges that on 17 February 2000, respondent judge solemnized her marriage to her late groom Dominador B. Orobia without the requisite marriage license and at Nabua, Camarines Sur which is outside his territorial jurisdiction. They lived together as husband and wife on the strength of this marriage until her husband passed away. However, since the marriage was a nullity, petitioner's right to inherit the "vast properties" left by Orobia was not recognized. She was likewise deprived of receiving the pensions of Orobia, a retired Commodore of the Philippine Navy. 1wphi1.nt Petitioner prays that sanctions be imposed against respondent judge for his illegal acts and unethical misrepresentations which allegedly caused her so much hardships, embarrassment and sufferings. On 28 May 2001, the case was referred by the Office of the Chief Justice to then Acting Court Administrator Zenaida N. Elepao for appropriate action. On 8 June 2001, the Office of the Court Administrator required respondent judge to comment. In his Comment dated 5 July 2001, respondent judge averred that he was requested by a certain Juan Arroyo on 15 February 2000 to solemnize the marriage of the parties on 17 February 2000. Having been assured that all the documents to the marriage were complete, he agreed to solemnize the marriage in his sala at the Municipal Trial Court of Balatan, Camarines Sur. However, on 17

February 2000, Arroyo informed him that Orobia had a difficulty walking and could not stand the rigors of travelling to Balatan which is located almost 25 kilometers from his residence in Nabua. Arroyo then requested if respondent judge could solemnize the marriage in Nabua, to which request he acceded. Respondent judge further avers that before he started the ceremony, he carefully examined the documents submitted to him by petitioner. When he discovered that the parties did not possess the requisite marriage license, he refused to solemnize the marriage and suggested its resetting to another date. However, due to the earnest pleas of the parties, the influx of visitors, and the delivery of provisions for the occasion, he proceeded to solemnize the marriage out of human compassion. He also feared that if he reset the wedding, it might aggravate the physical condition of Orobia who just suffered from a stroke. After the solemnization, he reiterated the necessity for the marriage license and admonished the parties that their failure to give it would render the marriage void. Petitioner and Orobia assured respondent judge that they would give the license to him in the afternoon of that same day. When they failed to comply, respondent judge followed it up with Arroyo but the latter only gave him the same reassurance that the marriage license would be delivered to his sala at the Municipal Trial Court of Balatan, Camarines Sur. Respondent judge vigorously denies that he told the contracting parties that their marriage is valid despite the absence of a marriage license. He attributes the hardships and embarrassment suffered by the petitioner as due to her own fault and negligence. On 12 September 2001, petitioner filed her Affidavit of Desistance dated 28 August 2001 with the Office of the Court Administrator. She attested that respondent judge initially refused to solemnize her marriage due to the want of a duly issued marriage license and that it was because of her prodding and reassurances that he eventually solemnized the same. She confessed that she filed this administrative case out of rage. However, after reading the Comment filed by respondent judge, she realized her own shortcomings and is now bothered by her conscience. Reviewing the records of the case, it appears that petitioner and Orobia filed their Application for Marriage License on 5 January 2000. It was stamped in this Application that the marriage license shall be issued on 17 January 2000. However, neither petitioner nor Orobia claimed it. It also appears that the Office of the Civil Registrar General issued a Certification that it has no record of such marriage that allegedly took place on 17 February 2000. Likewise, the Office of the Local Civil Registrar of Nabua, Camarines Sur issued another Certification dated 7 May 2001 that it cannot issue a true copy of the Marriage Contract of the parties since it has no record of their marriage. On 8 May 2001, petitioner sought the assistance of respondent judge so the latter could communicate with the Office of the Local Civil Registrar of Nabua, Camarines Sur for the issuance of her marriage license. Respondent judge wrote the Local Civil Registrar of Nabua, Camarines Sur. In a letter dated 9 May 2001, a Clerk of said office, Grace T. Escobal, informed respondent judge that their office cannot issue the marriage license due to the failure of Orobia to submit the Death Certificate of his previous spouse. The Office of the Court Administrator, in its Report and Recommendation dated 15 November 2000, found the respondent judge guilty of solemnizing a marriage without a duly issued marriage license and for doing so outside his territorial jurisdiction. A fine of P5,000.00 was recommended to be imposed on respondent judge. We agree. Under the Judiciary Reorganization Act of 1980, or B.P. 129, the authority of the regional trial court judges and judges of inferior courts to solemnize marriages is confined to their territorial jurisdiction as defined by the Supreme Court. 1wphi1.nt The case at bar is not without precedent. In Navarro vs. Domagtoy,1 respondent judge held office and had jurisdiction in the Municipal Circuit Trial Court of Sta. Monica-Burgos, Surigao del Norte. However, he solemnized a wedding at his residence in the municipality of Dapa, Surigao del Norte which did not fall within the jurisdictional area of the municipalities of Sta. Monica and Burgos. We held that: "A priest who is commissioned and allowed by his local ordinance to marry the faithful is authorized to do so only within the area or diocese or place allowed by his Bishop. An appellate court Justice or a Justice of this Court has jurisdiction over the entire Philippines to solemnize marriages, regardless of the venue, as long as the requisites of the law are complied with. However, judges who are appointed to specific jurisdictions, may officiate in weddings only within said areas and not beyond. Where a judge solemnizes a marriage outside his court's jurisdiction, there is a

resultant irregularity in the formal requisite laid down in Article 3, which while it may not affect the validity of the marriage, may subject the officiating official to administrative liability. "2 (Emphasis supplied.) In said case, we suspended respondent judge for six (6) months on the ground that his act of solemnizing a marriage outside his jurisdiction constitutes gross ignorance of the law. We further held that: "The judiciary should be composed of persons who, if not experts, are at least, proficient in the law they are sworn to apply, more than the ordinary laymen. They should be skilled and competent in understanding and applying the law. It is imperative that they be conversant with basic legal principles like the ones involved in the instant case. x x x While magistrates may at times make mistakes in judgment, for which they are not penalized, the respondent judge exhibited ignorance of elementary provisions of law, in an area which has greatly prejudiced the status of married persons." 3 In the case at bar, the territorial jurisdiction of respondent judge is limited to the municipality of Balatan, Camarines Sur. His act of solemnizing the marriage of petitioner and Orobia in Nabua, Camarines Sur therefore is contrary to law and subjects him to administrative liability. His act may not amount to gross ignorance of the law for he allegedly solemnized the marriage out of human compassion but nonetheless, he cannot avoid liability for violating the law on marriage. Respondent judge should also be faulted for solemnizing a marriage without the requisite marriage license. In People vs. Lara,4 we held that a marriage which preceded the issuance of the marriage license is void, and that the subsequent issuance of such license cannot render valid or even add an iota of validity to the marriage. Except in cases provided by law, it is the marriage license that gives the solemnizing officer the authority to solemnize a marriage. Respondent judge did not possess such authority when he solemnized the marriage of petitioner. In this respect, respondent judge acted in gross ignorance of the law. 1wphi1.nt Respondent judge cannot be exculpated despite the Affidavit of Desistance filed by petitioner. This Court has consistently held in a catena of cases that the withdrawal of the complaint does not necessarily have the legal effect of exonerating respondent from disciplinary action. Otherwise, the prompt and fair administration of justice, as well as the discipline of court personnel, would be undermined.5 Disciplinary actions of this nature do not involve purely private or personal matters. They can not be made to depend upon the will of every complainant who may, for one reason or another, condone a detestable act. We cannot be bound by the unilateral act of a complainant in a matter which involves the Court's constitutional power to discipline judges. Otherwise, that power may be put to naught, undermine the trust character of a public office and impair the integrity and dignity of this Court as a disciplining authority.6 WHEREFORE, respondent Judge Salvador M. Occiano, Presiding Judge of the Municipal Trial Court of Balatan, Camarines Sur, is fined P5,000.00 pesos with a STERN WARNING that a repetition of the same or similar offense in the future will be dealt with more severely. SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 119190 January 16, 1997 CHI MING TSOI, petitioner, vs. COURT OF APPEALS and GINA LAO-TSOI, respondents.

TORRES, JR., J.: Man has not invented a reliable compass by which to steer a marriage in its journey over troubled waters. Laws are seemingly inadequate. Over time, much reliance has been placed in the works of the unseen hand of Him who created all things. Who is to blame when a marriage fails?

This case was originally commenced by a distraught wife against her uncaring husband in the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City (Branch 89) which decreed the annulment of the marriage on the ground of psychological incapacity. Petitioner appealed the decision of the trial court to respondent Court of Appeals (CA-G.R. CV No. 42758) which affirmed the Trial Court's decision November 29, 1994 and correspondingly denied the motion for reconsideration in a resolution dated February 14, 1995. The statement of the case and of the facts made by the trial court and reproduced by the Court of Appeals 1 its decision are as follows: From the evidence adduced, the following acts were preponderantly established: Sometime on May 22, 1988, the plaintiff married the defendant at the Manila Cathedral, . . . Intramuros Manila, as evidenced by their Marriage Contract. (Exh. "A") After the celebration of their marriage and wedding reception at the South Villa, Makati, they went and proceeded to the house of defendant's mother. There, they slept together on the same bed in the same room for the first night of their married life. It is the version of the plaintiff, that contrary to her expectations, that as newlyweds they were supposed to enjoy making love, or having sexual intercourse, with each other, the defendant just went to bed, slept on one side thereof, then turned his back and went to sleep . There was no sexual intercourse between them during the first night. The same thing happened on the second, third and fourth nights. In an effort to have their honeymoon in a private place where they can enjoy together during their first week as husband and wife, they went to Baguio City. But, they did so together with her mother, an uncle, his mother and his nephew. They were all invited by the defendant to join them. [T]hey stayed in Baguio City for four (4) days. But, during this period, there was no sexual intercourse between them, since the defendant avoided her by taking a long walk during siesta time or by just sleeping on a rocking chair located at the living room. They slept together in the same room and on the same bed since May 22, 1988 until March 15, 1989. But during this period, there was no attempt of sexual intercourse between them. [S]he claims, that she did not: even see her husband's private parts nor did he see hers. Because of this, they submitted themselves for medical examinations to Dr. Eufemio Macalalag, a urologist at the Chinese General Hospital, on January 20, 1989. The results of their physical examinations were that she is healthy, normal and still a virgin, while that of her husband's examination was kept confidential up to this time. While no medicine was prescribed for her, the doctor prescribed medications for her husband which was also kept confidential. No treatment was given to her. For her husband, he was asked by the doctor to return but he never did. The plaintiff claims, that the defendant is impotent, a closet homosexual as he did not show his penis. She said, that she had observed the defendant using an eyebrow pencil and sometimes the cleansing cream of his mother. And that, according to her, the defendant married her, a Filipino citizen, to acquire or maintain his residency status here in the country and to publicly maintain the appearance of a normal man. The plaintiff is not willing to reconcile with her husband. On the other hand, it is the claim of the defendant that if their marriage shall be annulled by reason of psychological incapacity, the fault lies with his wife. But, he said that he does not want his marriage with his wife annulled for several reasons, viz: (1) that he loves her very much; (2) that he has no defect on his part and he is physically and psychologically capable; and, (3) since the relationship is still very young and if there is any differences between the two of them, it can still be reconciled and that, according to him, if either one of them has some incapabilities, there is no certainty that this will not be cured. He further claims, that if there is any defect, it can be cured by the intervention of medical technology or science. The defendant admitted that since their marriage on May 22, 1988, until their separation on March 15, 1989, there was no sexual contact between them. But, the reason for this, according to the defendant, was that everytime he wants to have sexual intercourse with his wife, she always avoided him and whenever he caresses her private parts, she always removed

his hands. The defendant claims, that he forced his wife to have sex with him only once but he did not continue because she was shaking and she did not like it. So he stopped. There are two (2) reasons, according to the defendant , why the plaintiff filed this case against him, and these are: (1) that she is afraid that she will be forced to return the pieces of jewelry of his mother, and, (2) that her husband, the defendant, will consummate their marriage. The defendant insisted that their marriage will remain valid because they are still very young and there is still a chance to overcome their differences. The defendant submitted himself to a physical examination. His penis was examined by Dr. Sergio Alteza, Jr., for the purpose of finding out whether he is impotent . As a result thereof, Dr. Alteza submitted his Doctor's Medical Report. (Exh. "2"). It is stated there, that there is no evidence of impotency (Exh. "2-B"), and he is capable of erection. (Exh. "2C") The doctor said, that he asked the defendant to masturbate to find out whether or not he has an erection and he found out that from the original size of two (2) inches, or five (5) centimeters, the penis of the defendant lengthened by one (1) inch and one centimeter. Dr. Alteza said, that the defendant had only a soft erection which is why his penis is not in its full length. But, still is capable of further erection, in that with his soft erection, the defendant is capable of having sexual intercourse with a woman. In open Court, the Trial Prosecutor manifested that there is no collusion between the parties and that the evidence is not fabricated." 2 After trial, the court rendered judgment, the dispositive portion of which reads: ACCORDINGLY, judgment is hereby rendered declaring as VOID the marriage entered into by the plaintiff with the defendant on May 22, 1988 at the Manila Cathedral, Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, Intramuros, Manila, before the Rt. Rev. Msgr. Melencio de Vera. Without costs. Let a copy of this decision be furnished the Local Civil Registrar of Quezon City. Let another copy be furnished the Local Civil Registrar of Manila. SO ORDERED. On appeal, the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court's decision. Hence, the instant petition. Petitioner alleges that the respondent Court of Appeals erred: I in affirming the conclusions of the lower court that there was no sexual intercourse between the parties without making any findings of fact. II in holding that the refusal of private respondent to have sexual communion with petitioner is a psychological incapacity inasmuch as proof thereof is totally absent. III in holding that the alleged refusal of both the petitioner and the private respondent to have sex with each other constitutes psychological incapacity of both. IV

in affirming the annulment of the marriage between the parties decreed by the lower court without fully satisfying itself that there was no collusion between them. We find the petition to be bereft of merit. Petitioner contends that being the plaintiff in Civil Case No. Q-89-3141, private respondent has the burden of proving the allegations in her complaint; that since there was no independent evidence to prove the alleged non-coitus between the parties, there remains no other basis for the court's conclusion except the admission of petitioner; that public policy should aid acts intended to validate marriage and should retard acts intended to invalidate them; that the conclusion drawn by the trial court on the admissions and confessions of the parties in their pleadings and in the course of the trial is misplaced since it could have been a product of collusion; and that in actions for annulment of marriage, the material facts alleged in the complaint shall always be proved. 3 Section 1, Rule 19 of the Rules of Court reads: Section 1. Judgment on the pleadings. Where an answer fails to tender an issue, or otherwise admits the material allegations of the adverse party's pleading, the court may, on motion of that party, direct judgment on such pleading. But in actions for annulment of marriage or for legal separation the material facts alleged in the complaint shall always be proved. The foregoing provision pertains to a judgment on the pleadings. What said provision seeks to prevent is annulment of marriage without trial. The assailed decision was not based on such a judgment on the pleadings. When private respondent testified under oath before the trial court and was cross-examined by oath before the trial court and was cross-examined by the adverse party, she thereby presented evidence in form of a testimony. After such evidence was presented, it be came incumbent upon petitioner to present his side. He admitted that since their marriage on May 22, 1988, until their separation on March 15, 1989, there was no sexual intercourse between them. To prevent collusion between the parties is the reason why, as stated by the petitioner, the Civil Code provides that no judgment annulling a marriage shall be promulgated upon a stipulation of facts or by confession of judgment (Arts. 88 and 101[par. 2]) and the Rules of Court prohibit such annulment without trial (Sec. 1, Rule 19). The case has reached this Court because petitioner does not want their marriage to be annulled. This only shows that there is no collusion between the parties. When petitioner admitted that he and his wife (private respondent) have never had sexual contact with each other, he must have been only telling the truth. We are reproducing the relevant portion of the challenged resolution denying petitioner's Motion for Reconsideration, penned with magisterial lucidity by Associate Justice Minerva Gonzaga-Reyes, viz: The judgment of the trial court which was affirmed by this Court is not based on a stipulation of facts. The issue of whether or not the appellant is psychologically incapacitated to discharge a basic marital obligation was resolved upon a review of both the documentary and testimonial evidence on record. Appellant admitted that he did not have sexual relations with his wife after almost ten months of cohabitation, and it appears that he is not suffering from any physical disability. Such abnormal reluctance or unwillingness to consummate his marriage is strongly indicative of a serious personality disorder which to the mind of this Court clearly demonstrates an 'utter insensitivity or inability to give meaning and significance to the marriage' within the meaning of Article 36 of the Family Code (See Santos vs. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 112019, January 4, 1995). 4 Petitioner further contends that respondent court erred in holding that the alleged refusal of both the petitioner and the private respondent to have sex with each other constitutes psychological incapacity of both. He points out as error the failure of the trial court to make "a categorical finding about the alleged psychological incapacity and an in-depth analysis of the reasons for such refusal which may not be necessarily due to physchological disorders" because there might have been other reasons, i.e., physical disorders, such as aches, pains or other discomforts, why private respondent would not want to have sexual intercourse from May 22, 1988 to March 15, 1989, in a short span of 10 months. First, it must be stated that neither the trial court nor the respondent court made a finding on who between petitioner and private respondent refuses to have sexual contact with the other. The fact remains, however, that there has never been coitus between them. At any rate, since the action to declare the marriage void may be filed by either party, i.e., even the psychologically incapacitated, the question of who refuses to have sex with the other becomes immaterial.

Petitioner claims that there is no independent evidence on record to show that any of the parties is suffering from phychological incapacity. Petitioner also claims that he wanted to have sex with private respondent; that the reason for private respondent's refusal may not be psychological but physical disorder as stated above. We do not agree. Assuming it to be so, petitioner could have discussed with private respondent or asked her what is ailing her, and why she balks and avoids him everytime he wanted to have sexual intercourse with her. He never did. At least, there is nothing in the record to show that he had tried to find out or discover what the problem with his wife could be. What he presented in evidence is his doctor's Medical Report that there is no evidence of his impotency and he is capable of erection. 5 Since it is petitioner's claim that the reason is not psychological but perhaps physical disorder on the part of private respondent, it became incumbent upon him to prove such a claim. If a spouse, although physically capable but simply refuses to perform his or her essential marriage obligations, and the refusal is senseless and constant, Catholic marriage tribunals attribute the causes to psychological incapacity than to stubborn refusal. Senseless and protracted refusal is equivalent to psychological incapacity. Thus, the prolonged refusal of a spouse to have sexual intercourse with his or her spouse is considered a sign of psychological incapacity. 6 Evidently, one of the essential marital obligations under the Family Code is "To procreate children based on the universal principle that procreation of children through sexual cooperation is the basic end of marriage." Constant non- fulfillment of this obligation will finally destroy the integrity or wholeness of the marriage. In the case at bar, the senseless and protracted refusal of one of the parties to fulfill the above marital obligation is equivalent to psychological incapacity. As aptly stated by the respondent court, An examination of the evidence convinces Us that the husband's plea that the wife did not want carnal intercourse with him does not inspire belief. Since he was not physically impotent, but he refrained from sexual intercourse during the entire time (from May 22, 1988 to March 15, 1989) that he occupied the same bed with his wife, purely out of symphaty for her feelings, he deserves to be doubted for not having asserted his right seven though she balked (Tompkins vs. Tompkins, 111 Atl. 599, cited in I Paras, Civil Code, at p. 330). Besides, if it were true that it is the wife was suffering from incapacity, the fact that defendant did not go to court and seek the declaration of nullity weakens his claim. This case was instituted by the wife whose normal expectations of her marriage were frustrated by her husband's inadequacy. Considering the innate modesty of the Filipino woman, it is hard to believe that she would expose her private life to public scrutiny and fabricate testimony against her husband if it were not necessary to put her life in order and put to rest her marital status. We are not impressed by defendant's claim that what the evidence proved is the unwillingness or lack of intention to perform the sexual act, which is not phychological incapacity, and which can be achieved "through proper motivation." After almost ten months of cohabitation, the admission that the husband is reluctant or unwilling to perform the sexual act with his wife whom he professes to love very dearly, and who has not posed any insurmountable resistance to his alleged approaches, is indicative of a hopeless situation, and of a serious personality disorder that constitutes psychological incapacity to discharge the basic marital covenants within the contemplation of the Family Code. 7 While the law provides that the husband and the wife are obliged to live together, observe mutual love, respect and fidelity (Art. 68, Family Code), the sanction therefor is actually the "spontaneous, mutual affection between husband and wife and not any legal mandate or court order" (Cuaderno vs. Cuaderno 120 Phil. 1298). Love is useless unless it is shared with another. Indeed, no man is an island, the cruelest act of a partner in marriage is to say "I could not have cared less." This is so because an ungiven self is an unfulfilled self. The egoist has nothing but himself. In the natural order, it is sexual intimacy which brings spouses wholeness and oneness. Sexual intimacy is a gift and a participation in the mystery of creation. It is a function which enlivens the hope of procreation and ensures the continuation of family relations. It appears that there is absence of empathy between petitioner and private respondent. That is a shared feeling which between husband and wife must be experienced not only by having spontaneous sexual intimacy but a deep sense of spiritual communion. Marital union is a two-way process. An expressive interest in each other's feelings at a time it is needed by the other can go a long way in deepening the marital relationship. Marriage is definitely not for children but for two consenting adults who view the relationship with love amor gignit amorem, respect, sacrifice and a continuing commitment to compromise, conscious of its value as a sublime social institution. This Court, finding the gravity of the failed relationship in which the parties found themselves trapped in its mire of unfulfilled vows and unconsummated marital obligations, can do no less but sustain the studied judgment of respondent appellate court.

IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING PREMISES , the assailed decision of the Court of Appeals dated November 29, 1994 is hereby AFFIRMED in all respects and the petition is hereby DENIED for lack of merit. SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 108763 February 13, 1997 REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, vs. COURT OF APPEALS and RORIDEL OLAVIANO MOLINA, respondents. PANGANIBAN, J.: The Family Code of the Philippines provides an entirely new ground (in addition to those enumerated in the Civil Code) to assail the validity of a marriage, namely, "psychological incapacity." Since the Code's effectivity, our courts have been swamped with various petitions to declare marriages void based on this ground. Although this Court had interpreted the meaning of psychological incapacity in the recent case of Santos vs. Court of Appeals, still many judges and lawyers find difficulty in applying said novel provision in specific cases. In the present case and in the context of the herein assailed Decision of the Court of Appeals, the Solicitor General has labelled exaggerated to be sure but nonetheless expressive of his frustration Article 36 as the "most liberal divorce procedure in the world." Hence, this Court in addition to resolving the present case, finds the need to lay down specific guidelines in the interpretation and application of Article 36 of the Family Code. Before us is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 challenging the January 25, 1993 Decision 1 of the Court of Appeals 2 in CA-G.R. CV No. 34858 affirming in toto the May 14, 1991 decision of the Regional Trial Court of La Trinidad, 3 Benguet, which declared the marriage of respondent Roridel Olaviano Molina to Reynaldo Molina void ab initio, on the ground of "psychological incapacity" under Article 36 of the Family Code. The Facts This case was commenced on August 16, 1990 with the filing by respondent Roridel O. Molina of a verified petition for declaration of nullity of her marriage to Reynaldo Molina. Essentially, the petition alleged that Roridel and Reynaldo were married on April 14, 1985 at the San Agustin Church 4 in Manila; that a son, Andre O. Molina was born; that after a year of marriage, Reynaldo showed signs of "immaturity and irresponsibility" as a husband and a father since he preferred to spend more time with his peers and friends on whom he squandered his money; that he depended on his parents for aid and assistance, and was never honest with his wife in regard to their finances, resulting in frequent quarrels between them; that sometime in February 1986, Reynaldo was relieved of his job in Manila, and since then Roridel had been the sole breadwinner of the family; that in October 1986 the couple had a very intense quarrel, as a result of which their relationship was estranged; that in March 1987, Roridel resigned from her job in Manila and went to live with her parents in Baguio City; that a few weeks later, Reynaldo left Roridel and their child, and had since then abandoned them; that Reynaldo had thus shown that he was psychologically incapable of complying with essential marital obligations and was a highly immature and habitually quarrel some individual who thought of himself as a king to be served; and that it would be to the couple's best interest to have their marriage declared null and void in order to free them from what appeared to be an incompatible marriage from the start. In his Answer filed on August 28, 1989, Reynaldo admitted that he and Roridel could no longer live together as husband and wife, but contended that their misunderstandings and frequent quarrels were due to (1) Roridel's strange behavior of insisting on maintaining her group of friends even after their marriage; (2) Roridel's refusal to perform some of her marital duties such as cooking meals; and (3) Roridel's failure to run the household and handle their finances. During the pre-trial on October 17, 1990, the following were stipulated: 1. That the parties herein were legally married on April 14, 1985 at the Church of St. Augustine, Manila; 2. That out of their marriage, a child named Albert Andre Olaviano Molina was born on July 29, 1986;

3. That the parties are separated-in-fact for more than three years; 4. That petitioner is not asking support for her and her child; 5. That the respondent is not asking for damages; 6. That the common child of the parties is in the custody of the petitioner wife. Evidence for herein respondent wife consisted of her own testimony and that of her friends Rosemarie Ventura and Maria Leonora Padilla as well as of Ruth G. Lalas, a social worker, and of Dr. Teresita Hidalgo-Sison, a psychiatrist of the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center. She also submitted documents marked as Exhibits "A" to "E-1." Reynaldo did not present any evidence as he appeared only during the pre-trial conference. On May 14, 1991, the trial court rendered judgment declaring the marriage void. The appeal of petitioner was denied by the Court of Appeals which affirmed in toto the RTC's decision. Hence, the present recourse. The Issue In his petition, the Solicitor General insists that "the Court of Appeals made an erroneous and incorrect interpretation of the phrase 'psychological incapacity' (as provided under Art. 36 of the Family Code) and made an incorrect application thereof to the facts of the case," adding that the appealed Decision tended "to establish in effect the most liberal divorce procedure in the world which is anathema to our culture." In denying the Solicitor General's appeal, the respondent Court relied 5 heavily on the trial court's findings "that the marriage between the parties broke up because of their opposing and conflicting personalities." Then, it added it sown opinion that "the Civil Code Revision Committee (hereinafter referred to as Committee) intended to liberalize the application of our civil laws on personal and family rights. . . ." It concluded that: As ground for annulment of marriage, We view psychologically incapacity as a broad range of mental and behavioral conduct on the part of one spouse indicative of how he or she regards the marital union, his or her personal relationship with the other spouse, as well as his or her conduct in the long haul for the attainment of the principal objectives of marriage. If said conduct, observed and considered as a whole, tends to cause the union to self-destruct because it defeats the very objectives of marriage, then there is enough reason to leave the spouses to their individual fates. In the case at bar, We find that the trial judge committed no indiscretion in analyzing and deciding the instant case, as it did, hence, We find no cogent reason to disturb the findings and conclusions thus made. Respondent, in her Memorandum, adopts these discussions of the Court of Appeals. The petitioner, on the other hand, argues that "opposing and conflicting personalities" is not equivalent to psychological incapacity, explaining that such ground "is not simply the neglect by the parties to the marriage of their responsibilities and duties, but a defect in their psychological nature which renders them incapable of performing such marital responsibilities and duties." The Court's Ruling The petition is meritorious. In Leouel Santos vs. Court of Appeals 6 this Court, speaking thru Mr. Justice Jose C. Vitug, ruled that "psychological incapacity should refer to no less than a mental (nor physical) incapacity . . . and that (t)here 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 psychologic condition must exist at the time the marriage is celebrated." Citing Dr. Gerardo Veloso, a former presiding judge of the Metropolitan Marriage Tribunal of the Catholic Archdiocese of Manila, 7 Justice Vitug wrote that "the psychological incapacity must be characterized by (a) gravity, (b) juridical antecedence, and (c) incurability."

On the other hand, in the present case, there is no clear showing to us that the psychological defect spoken of is an incapacity. It appears to us to be more of a "difficulty," if not outright "refusal" or "neglect" in the performance of some marital obligations. Mere showing of "irreconciliable differences" and "conflicting personalities" in no wise constitutes psychological incapacity. It is not enough to prove that the parties failed to meet their responsibilities and duties as married persons; it is essential that they must be shown to be incapable of doing so, due to some psychological (nor physical) illness. The evidence adduced by respondent merely showed that she and her husband could nor get along with each other. There had been no showing of the gravity of the problem; neither its juridical antecedence nor its incurability. The expert testimony of Dr. Sison showed no incurable psychiatric disorder but only incompatibility, not psychological incapacity. Dr. Sison testified: 8 COURT Q It is therefore the recommendation of the psychiatrist based on your findings that it is better for the Court to annul (sic) the marriage? A Yes, Your Honor. Q There is no hope for the marriage? A There is no hope, the man is also living with another woman. Q Is it also the stand of the psychiatrist that the parties are psychologically unfit for each other but they are psychologically fit with other parties? A Yes, Your Honor. Q Neither are they psychologically unfit for their professions? A Yes, Your Honor. The Court has no more questions. In the case of Reynaldo, there is no showing that his alleged personality traits were constitutive of psychological incapacity existing at the time of marriage celebration. While some effort was made to prove that there was a failure to fulfill pre-nuptial impressions of "thoughtfulness and gentleness" on Reynaldo's part of being "conservative, homely and intelligent" on the part of Roridel, such failure of expectation is nor indicative of antecedent psychological incapacity. If at all, it merely shows love's temporary blindness to the faults and blemishes of the beloved. During its deliberations, the Court decided to go beyond merely ruling on the facts of this case vis-a-vis existing law and jurisprudence. In view of the novelty of Art. 36 of the Family Code and the difficulty experienced by many trial courts interpreting and applying it, the Court decided to invite two amici curiae, namely, the Most Reverend Oscar V. Cruz, 9 Vicar Judicial (Presiding Judge) of the National Appellate Matrimonial Tribunal of the Catholic Church in the Philippines, and Justice Ricardo C. Puno, 10 a member of the Family Code Revision Committee. The Court takes this occasion to thank these friends of the Court for their informative and interesting discussions during the oral argument on December 3, 1996, which they followed up with written memoranda. 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, 11 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 12 echoes this constitutional edict on marriage and the family and emphasizes the 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 physically 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, 13 nevertheless such root cause must be identified as a psychological illness and its incapacitating nature explained. Expert evidence may be given qualified psychiatrist 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 characteriological peculiarities, mood changes, occasional emotional outbursts" cannot be accepted as root causes. The illness must be shown as downright incapacity or inability, nor 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. 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. 14 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 decision of such appellate tribunal. Ideally subject to our law on evidence what 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 Church while remaining independent, separate and apart from each other shall 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 he handed down unless the Solicitor General issues a certification, which will be quoted in the decision, briefly staring 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 vinculi contemplated under Canon 1095. In the instant case and applying Leouel Santos, we have already ruled to grant the petition. Such ruling becomes even more cogent with the use of the foregoing guidelines.

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The assailed Decision is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The marriage of Roridel Olaviano to Reynaldo Molina subsists and remains valid. SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 136490

October 19, 2000

BRENDA B. MARCOS, petitioner, vs. WILSON G. MARCOS, respondent. DECISION PANGANIBAN, J.: Psychological incapacity, as a ground for declaring the nullity of a marriage, may be established by the totality of evidence presented. There is no requirement, however, that the respondent should be examined by a physician or a psychologist as a conditio sine qua non for such declaration. The Case Before us is a Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, assailing the July 24, 1998 Decision 1 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-GR CV No. 55588, which disposed as follows: "WHEREFORE, the contested decision is set aside and the marriage between the parties is hereby declared valid." 2 Also challenged by petitioner is the December 3, 1998 CA Resolution denying her Motion for Reconsideration. Earlier, the Regional Trial Court (RTC) had ruled thus: "WHEREFORE, the marriage between petitioner Brenda B. Marcos and respondent Wilson G. Marcos, solemnized on September 6, 1982 in Pasig City is declared null and void ab initio pursuant to Art. 36 of the Family Code. The conjugal properties, if any, is dissolved [sic] in accordance with Articles 126 and 129 of the same Code in relation to Articles 50, 51 and 52 relative to the delivery of the legitime of [the] parties' children. In the best interest and welfare of the minor children, their custody is granted to petitioner subject to the visitation rights of respondent. "Upon finality of this Decision, furnish copy each to the Office of the Civil Registrar of Pasig City where the marriage was solemnized, the National Census and Statistics Office, Manila and the Register of Deeds of Mandaluyong City for their appropriate action consistent with this Decision. "SO ORDERED." The Facts The facts as found by the Court of Appeals are as follows: "It was established during the trial that the parties were married twice: (1) on September 6, 1982 which was solemnized by Judge Eriberto H. Espiritu at the Municipal Court of Pasig (Exh. A); and (2) on May 8, 1983 which was solemnized by Rev. Eduardo L. Eleazar, Command Chaplain, at the Presidential Security Command Chapel in Malacaang Park, Manila (Exh. A-1). Out of their marriage, five (5) children were born (Exhs. B, C, D, E and F).

"Appellant Wilson G. Marcos joined the Armed Forces of the Philippines in 1973. Later on, he was transferred to the Presidential Security Command in Malacaang during the Marcos Regime. Appellee Brenda B. Marcos, on the other hand, joined the Women's Auxilliary Corps under the Philippine Air Force in 1978. After the Edsa Revolution, both of them sought a discharge from the military service. "They first met sometime in 1980 when both of them were assigned at the Malacaang Palace, she as an escort of Imee Marcos and he as a Presidential Guard of President Ferdinand Marcos. Through telephone conversations, they became acquainted and eventually became sweethearts. "After their marriage on September 6, 1982, they resided at No. 1702 Daisy Street, Hulo Bliss, Mandaluyong, a housing unit which she acquired from the Bliss Development Corporation when she was still single. "After the downfall of President Marcos, he left the military service in 1987 and then engaged in different business ventures that did not however prosper. As a wife, she always urged him to look for work so that their children would see him, instead of her, as the head of the family and a good provider. Due to his failure to engage in any gainful employment, they would often quarrel and as a consequence, he would hit and beat her. He would even force her to have sex with him despite her weariness. He would also inflict physical harm on their children for a slight mistake and was so severe in the way he chastised them. Thus, for several times during their cohabitation, he would leave their house. In 1992, they were already living separately. "All the while, she was engrossed in the business of selling "magic uling" and chickens. While she was still in the military, she would first make deliveries early in the morning before going to Malacaang. When she was discharged from the military service, she concentrated on her business. Then, she became a supplier in the Armed Forces of the Philippines until she was able to put up a trading and construction company, NS Ness Trading and Construction Development Corporation. "The 'straw that broke the camel's back' took place on October 16, 1994, when they had a bitter quarrel. As they were already living separately, she did not want him to stay in their house anymore. On that day, when she saw him in their house, she was so angry that she lambasted him. He then turned violent, inflicting physical harm on her and even on her mother who came to her aid. The following day, October 17, 1994, she and their children left the house and sought refuge in her sister's house. "On October 19, 1994, she submitted herself [to] medical examination at the Mandaluyong Medical Center where her injuries were diagnosed as contusions (Exh. G, Records, 153). "Sometime in August 1995, she together with her two sisters and driver, went to him at the Bliss unit in Mandaluyong to look for their missing child, Niko. Upon seeing them, he got mad. After knowing the reason for their unexpected presence, he ran after them with a samurai and even [beat] her driver. "At the time of the filing of this case, she and their children were renting a house in Camella, Paraaque, while the appellant was residing at the Bliss unit in Mandaluyong. "In the case study conducted by Social Worker Sonia C. Millan, the children described their father as cruel and physically abusive to them (Exh. UU, Records, pp. 85-100). "The appellee submitted herself to psychologist Natividad A. Dayan, Ph.D., for psychological evaluation (Exh. YY, Records, pp. 207-216), while the appellant on the other hand, did not. "The court a quo found the appellant to be psychologically incapacitated to perform his marital obligations mainly because of his failure to find work to support his family and his violent attitude towards appellee and their children, x x x." 3 Ruling of the Court of Appeals Reversing the RTC, the CA held that psychological incapacity had not been established by the totality of the evidence presented. It ratiocinated in this wise: "Essential in a petition for annulment is the allegation of the root cause of the spouse's psychological incapacity which should also be medically or clinically identified, sufficiently proven by experts and clearly explained in the decision. The incapacity must be proven to be existing at the time of the celebration of the marriage and shown to be medically or clinically permanent or incurable. It must also be grave enough to bring about the disability of the parties to assume the essential obligations of marriage as set forth

in Articles 68 to 71 and Articles 220 to 225 of the Family Code and such non-complied marital obligations must similarly be alleged in the petition, established by evidence and explained in the decision. "In the case before us, the appellant was not subjected to any psychological or psychiatric evaluation. The psychological findings about the appellant by psychiatrist Natividad Dayan were based only on the interviews conducted with the appellee. Expert evidence by qualified psychiatrists and clinical psychologists is essential if only to prove that the parties were or any one of them was mentally or psychically ill to be truly incognitive of the marital obligations he or she was assuming, or as would make him or her x x x unable to assume them. In fact, he offered testimonial evidence to show that he [was] not psychologically incapacitated. The root cause of his supposed incapacity was not alleged in the petition, nor medically or clinically identified as a psychological illness or sufficiently proven by an expert. Similarly, there is no evidence at all that would show that the appellant was suffering from an incapacity which [was] psychological or mental - not physical to the extent that he could not have known the obligations he was assuming: that the incapacity [was] grave, ha[d] preceded the marriage and [was] incurable."4 Hence, this Petition.5 Issues In her Memorandum,6 petitioner presents for this Court's consideration the following issues: "I. Whether or not the Honorable Court of Appeals could set aside the findings by the Regional Trial Court of psychological incapacity of a respondent in a Petition for declaration of nullity of marriage simply because the respondent did not subject himself to psychological evaluation. II. Whether or not the totality of evidence presented and the demeanor of all the witnesses should be the basis of the determination of the merits of the Petition." 7 The Court's Ruling We agree with petitioner that the personal medical or psychological examination of respondent is not a requirement for a declaration of psychological incapacity. Nevertheless, the totality of the evidence she presented does not show such incapacity. Preliminary Issue: Need for Personal Medical Examination Petitioner contends that the testimonies and the results of various tests that were submitted to determine respondent's psychological incapacity to perform the obligations of marriage should not have been brushed aside by the Court of Appeals, simply because respondent had not taken those tests himself. Petitioner adds that the CA should have realized that under the circumstances, she had no choice but to rely on other sources of information in order to determine the psychological capacity of respondent, who had refused to submit himself to such tests. In Republic v. CA and Molina,8 the guidelines governing the application and the interpretation of psychological incapacity referred to in Article 36 of the Family Code9 were laid down by this Court as follows: "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. xxx xxx xxx

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. 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 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 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 noncomplied 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. xxx xxx xxx

(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 vinculi contemplated under Canon 1095." 10 The guidelines incorporate the three basic requirements earlier mandated by the Court in Santos v. Court of Appeals:11 "psychological incapacity must be characterized by (a) gravity (b) juridical antecedence, and (c) incurability." The foregoing guidelines do not require that a physician examine the person to be declared psychologically incapacitated. In fact, the root cause may be "medically or clinically identified." What is important is the presence of evidence that can adequately establish the party's psychological condition. For indeed, if the totality of evidence presented is enough to sustain a finding of psychological incapacity, then actual medical examination of the person concerned need not be resorted to. Main Issue: Totality of Evidence Presented The main question, then, is whether the totality of the evidence presented in the present case -- including the testimonies of petitioner, the common children, petitioner's sister and the social worker -- was enough to sustain a finding that respondent was psychologically incapacitated. We rule in the negative. Although this Court is sufficiently convinced that respondent failed to provide material support to the family and may have resorted to physical abuse and abandonment, the totality of his acts does not lead to a conclusion of psychological incapacity on his part. There is absolutely no showing that his "defects" were already present at the inception of the marriage or that they are incurable.

Verily, the behavior of respondent can be attributed to the fact that he had lost his job and was not gainfully employed for a period of more than six years. It was during this period that he became intermittently drunk, failed to give material and moral support, and even left the family home. Thus, his alleged psychological illness was traced only to said period and not to the inception of the marriage. Equally important, there is no evidence showing that his condition is incurable, especially now that he is gainfully employed as a taxi driver. 1wphi1 Article 36 of the Family Code, we stress, is not to be confused with a divorce law that cuts the marital bond at the time the causes therefor manifest themselves. It refers to a serious psychological illness afflicting a party even before the celebration of the marriage. It is a malady so grave and so permanent as to deprive one of awareness of the duties and responsibilities of the matrimonial bond one is about to assume. These marital obligations are those provided under Articles 68 to 71, 220, 221 and 225 of the Family Code. Neither is Article 36 to be equated with legal separation, in which the grounds need not be rooted in psychological incapacity but on physical violence, moral pressure, moral corruption, civil interdiction, drug addiction, habitual alcoholism, sexual infidelity, abandonment and the like.12 At best, the evidence presented by petitioner refers only to grounds for legal separation, not for declaring a marriage void. Because Article 36 has been abused as a convenient divorce law, this Court laid down the procedural requirements for its invocation in Molina. Petitioner, however, has not faithfully observed them. In sum, this Court cannot declare the dissolution of the marriage for failure of petitioner to show that the alleged psychological incapacity is characterized by gravity, juridical antecedence and incurability; and for her failure to observe the guidelines outlined in Molina. WHEREFORE, the Petition is DENIED and assailed Decision AFFIRMED, except that portion requiring personal medical examination as a conditio sine qua non to a finding of psychological incapacity. No costs. SO ORDERED.

A.M. No. MTJ-96-1088 July 19, 1996 RODOLFO G. NAVARRO, complainant, vs. JUDGE HERNANDO C. DOMAGTOY, respondent.

ROMERO, J.:p The complainant in this administrative case is the Municipal Mayor of Dapa, Surigao del Norte, Rodolfo G. Navarro. He has submitted evidence in relation to two specific acts committed by respondent Municipal Circuit Trial Court Judge Hernando Domagtoy, which, he contends, exhibits gross misconduct as well as inefficiency in office and ignorance of the law. First, on September 27, 1994, respondent judge solemnized the wedding between Gaspar A. Tagadan and Arlyn F. Borga, despite the knowledge that the groom is merely separated from his first wife. Second, it is alleged that he performed a marriage ceremony between Floriano Dador Sumaylo and Gemma G. del Rosario outside his court's jurisdiction on October 27, 1994. Respondent judge holds office and has jurisdiction in the Municipal Circuit Trial Court of Sta. Monica-Burgos, Surigao del Norte. The wedding was solemnized at the respondent judge's residence in the

municipality of Dapa, which does not fall within his jurisdictional area of the municipalities of Sta. Monica and Burgos, located some 40 to 45 kilometers away from the municipality of Dapa, Surigao del Norte. In his letter-comment to the office of the Court Administrator, respondent judge avers that the office and name of the Municipal Mayor of Dapa have been used by someone else, who, as the mayor's "lackey," is overly concerned with his actuations both as judge and as a private person. The same person had earlier filed Administrative Matter No 94-980-MTC, which was dismissed for lack of merit on September 15, 1994, and Administrative Matter No. OCA-IPI-95-16, "Antonio Adapon v. Judge Hernando C. Domagtoy," which is still pending. In relation to the charges against him, respondent judge seeks exculpation from his act of having solemnized the marriage between Gaspar Tagadan, a married man separated from his wife, and Arlyn F. Borga by stating that he merely relied on the Affidavit issued by the Municipal Trial Judge of Basey, Samar, confirming the fact that Mr. Tagadan and his first wife have not seen each other for almost seven years. 1 With respect to the second charge, he maintains that in solemnizing the marriage between Sumaylo and del Rosario, he did not violate Article 7, paragraph 1 of the Family Code which states that: "Marriage may be solemnized by: (1) Any incumbent member of the judiciary within the court's jurisdiction;" and that article 8 thereof applies to the case in question. The complaint was not referred, as is usual, for investigation, since the pleadings submitted were considered sufficient for a resolution of the case. 2 Since the countercharges of sinister motives and fraud on the part of complainant have not been sufficiently proven, they will not be dwelt upon. The acts complained of and respondent judge's answer thereto will suffice and can be objectively assessed by themselves to prove the latter's malfeasance. The certified true copy of the marriage contract between Gaspar Tagadan and Arlyn Borga states that Tagadan's civil status is "separated." Despite this declaration, the wedding ceremony was solemnized by respondent judge. He presented in evidence a joint affidavit by Maurecio A. Labado, Sr. and Eugenio Bullecer, subscribed and sworn to before Judge Demosthenes C. Duquilla, Municipal Trial Judge of Basey, Samar. 3 The affidavit was not issued by the latter judge, as claimed by respondent judge, but merely acknowledged before him. In their affidavit, the affiants stated that they knew Gaspar Tagadan to have been civilly married to Ida D. Pearanda in September 1983; that after thirteen years of cohabitation and having borne five children, Ida Pearanda left the conjugal dwelling in Valencia, Bukidnon and that she has not returned nor been heard of for almost seven years, thereby giving rise to the presumption that she is already dead. In effect, Judge Domagtoy maintains that the aforementioned joint affidavit is sufficient proof of Ida Pearanda's presumptive death, and ample reason for him to proceed with the marriage ceremony. We do not agree. Article 41 of the Family Code expressly provides: 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 provisions of Articles 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 added.) There is nothing ambiguous or difficult to comprehend in this provision. In fact, the law is clear and simple. Even if the spouse present has a well-founded belief that the absent spouse was already dead, a summary proceeding for the declaration of presumptive death is necessary in order to contract a subsequent marriage, a mandatory requirement which has been precisely incorporated into the Family Code to discourage subsequent marriages where it is not proven that the previous marriage has been dissolved or a missing spouse is factually or presumptively dead, in accordance with pertinent provisions of law. In the case at bar, Gaspar Tagadan did not institute a summary proceeding for the declaration of his first wife's presumptive death. Absent this judicial declaration, he remains married to Ida Pearanda. Whether wittingly or unwittingly, it was manifest error on the part of respondent judge to have accepted the joint affidavit submitted by the groom. Such neglect or ignorance of the law has

resulted in a bigamous, and therefore void, marriage. Under Article 35 of the Family Code, " The following marriage shall be void from the beginning: (4) Those bigamous . . . marriages not falling under Article 41." The second issue involves the solemnization of a marriage ceremony outside the court's jurisdiction, covered by Articles 7 and 8 of the Family Code, thus: Art. 7. Marriage may be solemnized by : (1) Any incumbent member of the judiciary within the court's jurisdiction; xxx xxx xxx (Emphasis supplied.) Art. 8. The marriage shall be solemnized publicly in the chambers the judge or in open court, in the church, chapel or temple, or in the office of the consul-general, consul or vice-consul, as the case may be, and not elsewhere, except in cases of marriages contracted on the point of death or in remote places in accordance with Article 29 of this Code, or where both parties request the solemnizing officer in writing in which case the marriage may be solemnized at a house or place designated by them in a sworn statement to that effect. Respondent judge points to Article 8 and its exceptions as the justification for his having solemnized the marriage between Floriano Sumaylo and Gemma del Rosario outside of his court's jurisdiction. As the aforequoted provision states, a marriage can be held outside of the judge's chambers or courtroom only in the following instances: (1) at the point of death, (2) in remote places in accordance with Article 29 or (3) upon request of both parties in writing in a sworn statement to this effect. There is no pretense that either Sumaylo or del Rosario was at the point of death or in the remote place. Moreover, the written request presented addressed to the respondent judge was made by only one party, Gemma del Rosario. 4 More importantly, the elementary principle underlying this provision is the authority of the solemnizing judge. Under Article 3, one of the formal requisites of marriage is the "authority of the solemnizing officer." Under Article 7, marriage may be solemnized by, among others, "any incumbent member of the judiciary within the court's jurisdiction." Article 8, which is a directory provision, refers only to the venue of the marriage ceremony and does not alter or qualify the authority of the solemnizing officer as provided in the preceding provision. Non-compliance herewith will not invalidate the marriage. A priest who is commissioned and allowed by his local ordinary to marry the faithful, is authorized to do so only within the area of the diocese or place allowed by his Bishop. An appellate court Justice or a Justice of this Court has jurisdiction over the entire Philippines to solemnize marriages, regardless of the venue, as long as the requisites of the law are complied with. However, judges who are appointed to specific jurisdictions, may officiate in weddings only within said areas and not beyond. Where a judge solemnizes a marriage outside his court's jurisdiction, there is a resultant irregularity in the formal requisite laid down in Article 3, which while it may not affect the validity of the marriage, may subject the officiating official to administrative liability. 5 Inasmuch as respondent judge's jurisdiction covers the municipalities of Sta. Monica and Burgos, he was not clothed with authority to solemnize a marriage in the municipality of Dapa, Surigao del Norte. By citing Article 8 and the exceptions therein as grounds for the exercise of his misplaced authority, respondent judge again demonstrated a lack of understanding of the basic principles of civil law. Accordingly, the Court finds respondent to have acted in gross ignorance of the law. The legal principles applicable in the cases brought to our attention are elementary and uncomplicated, prompting us to conclude that respondent's failure to apply them is due to a lack of comprehension of the law. The judiciary should be composed of persons who, if not experts, are at least, proficient in the law they are sworn to apply, more than the ordinary laymen. They should be skilled and competent in understanding and applying the law. It is imperative that they be conversant with basic legal principles like the ones involved in instant case. 6 It is not too much to expect them to know and apply the law intelligently. 7 Otherwise, the system of justice rests on a shaky foundation indeed, compounded by the errors committed by those not learned in the law. While magistrates may at times make mistakes in judgment, for which they are not penalized, the respondent judge exhibited ignorance of elementary provisions of law, in an area which has greatly prejudiced the status of married persons. The marriage between Gaspar Tagadan and Arlyn Borga is considered bigamous and void, there being a subsisting marriage between Gaspar Tagadan and Ida Pearanda.

The Office of the Court Administrator recommends, in its Memorandum to the Court, a six-month suspension and a stern warning that a repetition of the same or similar acts will be dealt with more severely. Considering that one of the marriages in question resulted in a bigamous union and therefore void, and the other lacked the necessary authority of respondent judge, the Court adopts said recommendation. Respondent is advised to be more circumspect in applying the law and to cultivate a deeper understanding of the law. IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, respondent Judge Hernando C. Domagtoy is hereby SUSPENDED for a period of six (6) months and given a STERN WARNING that a repetition of the same or similar acts will be dealt with more severely.

CORNELIA MATABUENA vs. PETRONILA CERVANTES L-2877 (38 SCRA 284) March 31, 1971 FACTS: In 1956, herein appellants brother Felix Matabuena donated a piece of lot to his common -law spouse, herein appellee Petronila Cervantes. Felix and Petronila got married only in 1962 or six years after the deed of donation was executed. Five months later, or September 13, 1962, Felix died. Thereafter, appellant Cornelia Matabuena, by reason of being the only sister and nearest collateral relative of the deceased, filed a claim over the property, by virtue of a an affidavit of self-adjudication executed by her in 1962, had the land declared in her name and paid the estate and inheritance taxes thereon. The lower court of Sorsogon declared that the donation was valid inasmuch as it was made at the time when Felix and Petronila were not yet spouses, rendering Article 133 of the Civil Code inapplicable. ISSUE: Whether or not the ban on donation between spouses during a marriage applies to a common-law relationship. HELD: While Article 133 of the Civil Code considers as void a donation between the spouses during marriage, policy consideration of the most exigent character as well as the dictates of morality requires that the same prohibition should apply to a common-law relationship. As stated in Buenaventura vs. Bautista (50 OG 3679, 1954), if the policy of the law is to prohibit donations in favor of the other consort and his descendants because of fear of undue and improper pressure and influence upon the donor, then there is every reason to apply the same prohibitive policy to persons living together as husband and wife without the benefit of nuptials. The lack of validity of the donation by the deceased to appellee does not necessarily result in appellant having exclusive right to the disputed property. As a widow, Cervantes is entitled to one-half of the inheritance, and the surviving sister to the other half. Article 1001, Civil Code: Should brothers and sisters or their children survive with the widow or widower, the latter shall be entitled to one-half of the inheritance and the brothers and sisters or their children to the other half. -------------------Matabuena v. Cervantes Case Digest

Matabuena v. Cervantes G.R. No. L-28771 (March 31, 1971) FACTS:

Felix Matabuena cohabitated with Respondent. During this period, Felix Matabuena donated to Respondent a parcel of land. Later the two were married. After the death of Felix Matabuena, his sister, Petitioner, sought the nullification of the donation citing Art.133 of the Civil Code Every donation between the spouses during the marriage shall be void. The trial court ruled that this case was not covered by the prohibition because the donation was made at the time the deceased and Respondent were not yet married and were simply cohabitating. ISSUE: W/N the prohibition applies to donations between live-in partners. HELD: Yes. It is a fundamental principle in statutory construction that what is within the spirit of the law is as much a part of the law as what is written. Since the reason for the ban on donations between spouses during the marriage is to prevent the possibility of undue influence and improper pressure being exerted by one spouse on the other, there is no reason why this prohibition shall not apply also to common-law relationships.The court, however, said that the lack of the donation made by the deceased to Respondent does not necessarily mean that the Petitioner will have exclusive rights to the disputed property because the relationship between Felix and Respondent were legitimated by marriage.

G.R. No. L-16857

May 29, 1964

MARCELO CASTILLO, JR., FELICISIMO CASTILLO, ENCARNACION CASTILLO, AMELIA CASTILLO, JAIME CASTILLO, RONALDO CASTILLO, VICTORIA CASTILLO, LETICIA CINCO, LEVI CINCO and DANIEL CINCO, petitioners, vs. MACARIA PASCO, respondent. Tomas Yumol for petitioners. Mariano G. Bustos and Associates for respondent. REYES, J.B.L., J.: The legitimate children and descendants of the late Marcelo Castillo, Sr. pray for the review and reversal of the decision of the Court of Appeals, in its Case CA G.R. No. 19377-R, that affirmed the decision of the Court of First Instance of Bulacan, declaring that the fishpond in San Roque, Paombong, Bulacan (covered by TCT No. 9928 of the Registry of Deeds of said province), was the exclusive paraphernal property of respondent Macaria Pasco, surviving spouse of the deceased Marcelo Castillo, Sr., and dismissing the complaint for partition and accounting filed by petitioners in said Court of First Instance. The Court of Appeals found, and the petitioner-appellants do not dispute, that in October 1931 Marcelo Castillo, Sr., being a widower, married Macaria Pasco, a widow who had survived two previous husbands. Petitioners were children and grandchildren (representing their deceased parents) of Marcelo Castillo, Sr. by his previous marriage. On April 3, 1933, Marcelo Castillo, Sr. died, and his widow married her fourth husband, Luis San Juan, on June 8, 1934. On December 22, 1932, Gabriel and Purificacion Gonzales, as co-owners of the litigated fishpond, executed a deed of sale (Exh. 1) conveying said property to the spouses Marcelo Castillo and Macaria Pasco for the sum of P6,000.00 (although the deed recited a higher amount), payable in three installments: P1,000 upon execution of the deed (Exh. 1) ; P2,000 on January 25, 1933 without interest; and P3,000 within one year thereafter, with 11% interest from February 1, 1933, but extendible for another year. Against the contention of petitioners-appellants that the fishpond thus bought should be considered conjugal for its having been acquired during coverture, the Court of Appeals declared it to be paraphernalia because it was purchased with exclusive funds of the wife, Macaria Pasco. She was admittedly a woman of means even before she married Marcelo Castillo, Sr. and the latter's principal source of income was only his P80 a month salary, as provincial treasurer (as found by the Court of First Instance), besides two small residential lots and fishponds, which were encumbered and later transferred to his five children by his first wife and whom he was then supporting in medical and high school. Actually, Marcelo Castillo, Sr. died without enough assets to pay his debts. .

In point of fact, the Court of Appeals found that the initial payment of P1,000 for the fishpond now in litigation was made up of P600, that one of the vendors (Gabriel Gonzales) owed to appellee Pasco, and P400 in cash, which the latter paid out of the proceeds of the sale of one of her nipa lands. The second installment of P2,000 appears to have been paid with the proceeds of the loan from Dr. Nicanor Jacinto, to whom the fishpond was mortgaged by both spouses. Dr. Jacinto later assigned his interest to Dr. Antonio Pasco. The last payment of P3,000 was derived from a loan secured by a mortgage (Exh. 2) on 2 parcels of land assessed in the name of Macaria Pasco, and one of which she had inherited from a former husband, Justo S. Pascual, while the other lot encumbered was assessed in her exclusive name. It was also found by the Court of Appeals that upon the death of Marcelo Castillo, Sr., the loan and mortgage in favor of Dr. Jacinto (later assigned by him to Dr. Antonio Pasco) was still outstanding. Unable to collect the loan, Dr. Pasco foreclosed the mortgaged, and the encumbered fishpond was sold to him; but the sale was subsequently annulled. Later, on September 7, 1949, respondent Macaria Pasco judicially consigned P12,300 on account of the mortgage debt and its interest, and completed payment by a second consignation of P752.43 made on April 24, 1950. As the estate of Castillo had no assets adequate to pay off the claims against it, the Court of Appeals concluded that the amounts consigned belonged to the widow Macaria Pasco, respondent herein.1wph1.t It is not gain said that under the Spanish Civil Code of 1889, that was the applicable law in 1932, the property acquired for onerous consideration during the marriage was deemed conjugal or separate property depending on the source of the funds employed for its acquisition. Thus, Article 1396 of said Code provided: ART. 1396. The following is separate property spouse: 1. ... 2. ... 3. ... 4. That bought with money belonging exclusively to the wife or to the husband. On the other hand, Article 1401, prescribed that: ART. 1401. To the conjugal property belong: 1. Property acquired for valuable consideration during the marriage at the expense of the common fund, whether the acquisition is made for the partnership or for one of the spouses only. The last clause in Article 1401 (par. 1) indicates that the circumstance of the sale of the fishpond in question being made by the original owners in favor of both spouses, Marcelo Castillo, Sr. and Macaria Pasco, is indifferent for the determination of whether the property should be deemed paraphernal or conjugal. As remarked by Manresa in his Commentaries to the Civil Code, Vol. IX (5th Ed), p. 549, "la ley atiende no a la persona encuyo nombre o a favor del cual se realize la compra, sino a la procedenciadel dinero." As above-noted, the Court of Appeals determined that the initial payment of P1,000 for the fishpond now disputed was made out of private funds of Macaria Pasco. Appellants, however, argue that since there is no express finding that the P600 debt owed by Gabriel Gonzales came exclusively from private funds of Pasco, they should be presumed conjugal funds, in accordance with Article 1407 of the Civil Code of 1889. The argument is untenable. Since the wife, under Article 1418, can not bind the conjugal partnership without the consent of the husband, her private transactions are presumed to be for her own account, and not for the account of the partnership. The finding of the Court of Appeals is that Gabriel Gonzales owed this particular indebtedness to Macaria Pasco alone, and in the absence of proof that the husband authorized her to use community funds therefor, the appellate Court's finding can not be disturbed by us. Whether the evidence adverted to should be credited is for the Court of Appeals to decide. Appellants next assail the conclusion of the Court of Appeals that the other two installments of the purchase price should be, like the first one, deemed to have been paid with exclusive funds of the wife because the money was raised by loans guaranteed by mortgage on paraphernalia property of the wife. The position thus taken by appellants is meritorious, for the reason that the deeds show the loans to have been made by Dr. Nicanor Jacinto, and by Gabriel and Purificacion Gonzales, to both spouses Marcelo Castillo and Macaria Pasco, as joint borrowers. The loans thus became obligations of the conjugal partnership of both debtor

spouses, and the money loaned is logically conjugal property. While the securing mortgage is on the wife's paraphernalia the mortgage is a purely accessory obligation that the lenders could, waive if they so chose, without affecting the principal debt which was owned by the conjugal partnership, and which the creditors could enforce exclusively against the latter it they so desired. In Palanca vs. Smith Bell & Co., 9 Phil. 131., this Court ruled as follows (cas cit. at p. 133,) . This P14,000, borrowed by said Emiliano Boncan upon the credit of the property of his wife became conjugal property (par. 3, Art. 1401, Civil Code) and when that same was reinvented in the construction of a house, the house became e conjugal property and was liable for the payment of the debts of the husband (Art 1408, Civ. Code). If money borrowed by the husband alone on the security of his wife's property is conjugal in character, a fortiori should it be conjugal when borrowed by both spouses. The reason obviously is that the loan becomes an obligation of the conjugal partnership which is the one primarily bound for its repayment. The case of Lim Queco vs. Cartagena, 71 Phil. 162, is clearly distinguishable from the Palanca case in that in the Lim Queco case the wife alone borrowed the money from "El Ahorro Insular" although she guaranteed repayment with a mortgage on her parapherna executed with her husband's consent. Since the wife does not have the management or representation of the conjugal partnership where the husband is qualified therefor, the loan to her constituted a transaction that did not involve the community, and the creditor could seek repayment exclusively from her properties. Logically, as this Court then held, the money loaned to the wife, as well as the property acquired thereby, should be deemed to be the wife's exclusive property. The analogy between the case now before us and the Palanca vs. Smith Bell case is undeniable, and the Palanca ruling applies. We, therefore, find that the two installments, totalling P5,000, of the price of the fishpond were paid with conjugal funds, unlike the first installment of P1,000 that was paid exclusively with money belonging to the wife Macaria Pasco, appellee herein. As the litigated fishpond was purchased partly with paraphernal funds and partly with money of the conjugal partnership, justice requires that the property be held to belong to both patrimonies in common, in proportion to the contributions of each to the total purchase price of P6,000. An undivided one-sixth (1/6) should be deemed paraphernalia and the remaining five-sixths (5/6) held property of the conjugal partnership of spouses Marcelo Castillo and Macaria Pasco (9 Manresa, Com. al Codigo Civil [5th Ed.], p. 549). Puesto que la ley atiende no a la persona en cuyo nombre o a favor del cualse realize la compra sino a la procedencia del dinero, considerando el hecho como una verdadera substitution o conversion del dinero en otros objetos, debemos deduce que cuando una finca por ejemplo, se compra con dinero del marido y de la mujer, o de la mujer y de la Sociedad, pertenece a aquellos de quienes precede el precio y en la proporcion entregada por cada cual. Si pues marido y mujer compran una casa entregando el primero de su capital propio 10,000 pesetas, y la segunda 5,000, la casa pertenecera a losdos conyuges pro indiviso, en la proportion de los terceras partes al marido y una tercera a la mujer. (Manresa. op. cit) The payment by the widow, after her husband's death, of the mortgage debt due to Dr. Pasco, the assignee of the original mortgagee, Dr. Nicanor Jacinto, does not result in increasing her share in the property in question but in creating a lien in her favor over the undivided share of the conjugal partnership, for the repayment of the amount she has advanced, should it be ultimately shown that the money thus delivered to the creditor was exclusively owned by her. It follows from the foregoing that, as the fishpond was undivided property of the widow and the conjugal partnership with her late husband, the heirs of the latter, appellants herein, were entitled to ask for partition thereof and liquidation of its proceeds. The ultimate interest of each party must be resolved after due hearing, taking into account (a) the widow's one-sixth direct share; (b) her half of the community property; (e) her successional rights to a part of the husband's share pursuant to the governing law of succession when the husband died; and (d) the widow's right to reimbursement for any amounts advanced by her in paying the mortgage debt as aforesaid. All these details must be settled after proper trial. WHEREFORE, the dismissal of the original complaint is hereby revoked and set aside, and the records are ordered remanded to the court of origin for further proceedings conformable to this opinion.

G.R. No. 124642

February 23, 2004

ALFREDO CHING and ENCARNACION CHING, petitioners vs. THE HON. COURT OF APPEALS and ALLIED BANKING CORPORATION, respondents. DECISION CALLEJO, SR., J.: This petition for review, under Rule 45 of the Revised Rules of Court, assails the Decision 1 of the Court of Appeals (CA) dated November 27, 1995 in CA-G.R. SP No. 33585, as well as the Resolution2 on April 2, 1996 denying the petitioners motion for reconsideration. The impugned decision granted the private respondents petition for certiorari and set aside the Orders of the trial court dated December 15, 19933 and February 17, 19944 nullifying the attachment of 100,000 shares of stocks of the Citycorp Investment Philippines under the name of petitioner Alfredo Ching. The following facts are undisputed: On September 26, 1978, the Philippine Blooming Mills Company, Inc. (PBMCI) obtained a loan of P9,000,000.00 from the Allied Banking Corporation (ABC). By virtue of this loan, the PBMCI, through its Executive Vice-President Alfredo Ching, executed a promissory note for the said amount promising to pay on December 22, 1978 at an interest rate of 14% per annum. 5 As added security for the said loan, on September 28, 1978, Alfredo Ching, together with Emilio Taedo and Chung Kiat Hua, executed a continuing guaranty with the ABC binding themselves to jointly and severally guarantee the payment of all the PBMCI obligations owing the ABC to the extent of P38,000,000.00.6 The loan was subsequently renewed on various dates, the last renewal having been made on December 4, 1980.7 Earlier, on December 28, 1979, the ABC extended another loan to the PBMCI in the amount of P13,000,000.00 payable in eighteen months at 16% interest per annum. As in the previous loan, the PBMCI, through Alfredo Ching, executed a promissory note to evidence the loan maturing on June 29, 1981.8 This was renewed once for a period of one month.9 The PBMCI defaulted in the payment of all its loans. Hence, on August 21, 1981, the ABC filed a complaint for sum of money with prayer for a writ of preliminary attachment against the PBMCI to collect the P12,612,972.88 exclusive of interests, penalties and other bank charges. Impleaded as co-defendants in the complaint were Alfredo Ching, Emilio Taedo and Chung Kiat Hua in their capacity as sureties of the PBMCI. The case was docketed as Civil Case No. 142729 in the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch XVIII. 10 In its application for a writ of preliminary attachment, the ABC averred that the "defendants are guilty of fraud in incurring the obligations upon which the present action is brought11 in that they falsely represented themselves to be in a financial position to pay their obligation upon maturity thereof."12 Its supporting affidavit stated, inter alia, that the "[d]efendants have removed or disposed of their properties, or [are] ABOUT to do so, with intent to defraud their creditors." 13 On August 26, 1981, after an ex-parte hearing, the trial court issued an Order denying the ABCs application for a writ of preliminary attachment. The trial court decreed that the grounds alleged in the application and that of its supporting affidavit "are all conclusions of fact and of law" which do not warrant the issuance of the writ prayed for. 14 On motion for reconsideration, however, the trial court, in an Order dated September 14, 1981, reconsidered its previous order and granted the ABCs application for a writ of preliminary attachment on a bond of P12,700,000. The order, in relevant part, stated: With respect to the second ground relied upon for the grant of the writ of preliminary attachment ex-parte, which is the alleged disposal of properties by the defendants with intent to defraud creditors as provided in Sec. 1(e) of Rule 57 of the Rules of Court, the affidavits can only barely justify the issuance of said writ as against the defendant Alfredo Ching who has allegedly bound himself jointly and severally to pay plaintiff the defendant corporations obligation to the plaintiff as a surety thereof. WHEREFORE, let a writ of preliminary attachment issue as against the defendant Alfredo Ching requiring the sheriff of this Court to attach all the properties of said Alfredo Ching not exceeding P12,612,972.82 in value, which are within the jurisdiction of this Court and not exempt from execution upon, the filing by plaintiff of a bond duly approved by this Court in the sum of Twelve Million Seven Hundred Thousand Pesos (P12,700,000.00) executed in favor of the defendant Alfredo Ching to secure the payment by plaintiff to him of all the costs which may be adjudged in his favor and all damages he may sustain by reason of the attachment if the court shall finally adjudge that the plaintiff was not entitled thereto. SO ORDERED.15

Upon the ABCs posting of the requisite bond, the trial court issued a writ of preliminary attachment . Subsequently, summonses were served on the defendants,16 save Chung Kiat Hua who could not be found. Meanwhile, on April 1, 1982, the PBMCI and Alfredo Ching jointly filed a petition for suspension of payments with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), docketed as SEC Case No. 2250, at the same time seeking the PBMCIs rehabilitation. 17 On July 9, 1982, the SEC issued an Order placing the PBMCIs business, including its assets and liabilities, under rehabilita tion receivership, and ordered that "all actions for claims listed in Schedule "A" of the petition pending before any court or tribunal are hereby suspended in whatever stage the same may be until further orders from the Commission." 18 The ABC was among the PBMCIs creditors named in the said schedule. Subsequently, on January 31, 1983, the PBMCI and Alfredo Ching jointly filed a Motion to Dismiss and/or motion to suspend the proceedings in Civil Case No. 142729 invoking the PBMCIs pending application for suspension of payments (which Ching co signed) and over which the SEC had already assumed jurisdiction. 19 On February 4, 1983, the ABC filed its Opposition thereto. 20 In the meantime, on July 26, 1983, the deputy sheriff of the trial court levied on attachment the 100,000 common shares of Citycorp stocks in the name of Alfredo Ching.21 Thereafter, in an Order dated September 16, 1983, the trial court partially granted the aforementioned motion by suspending the proceedings only with respect to the PBMCI. It denied Chings motion to dismiss the complaint/or suspend the proceedings and pointed out that P.D. No. 1758 only concerns the activities of corporations, partnerships and associations and was never intended to regulate and/or control activities of individuals. Thus, it directed the individual defendants to file their answers.22 Instead of filing an answer, Ching filed on January 14, 1984 a Motion to Suspend Proceedings on the same ground of the pendency of SEC Case No. 2250. This motion met the opposition from the ABC. 23 On January 20, 1984, Taedo filed his Answer with counterclaim and cross-claim.24 Ching eventually filed his Answer on July 12, 1984.25 On October 25, 1984, long after submitting their answers, Ching filed an Omnibus Motion, 26 again praying for the dismissal of the complaint or suspension of the proceedings on the ground of the July 9, 1982 Injunctive Order issued in SEC Case No. 2250. He averred that as a surety of the PBMCI, he must also necessarily benefit from the defenses of his principal. The ABC opposed Chings omnibus motion. Emilio Y. Taedo, thereafter, filed his own Omnibus Motion27 praying for the dismissal of the complaint, arguing that the ABC had "abandoned and waived" its right to proceed against the continuing guaranty by its act of resorting to preliminary attachment. On December 17, 1986, the ABC filed a Motion to Reduce the amount of his preliminary attachment bond from P12,700,000 to P6,350,000.28 Alfredo Ching opposed the motion,29 but on April 2, 1987, the court issued an Order setting the incident for further hearing on May 28, 1987 at 8:30 a.m. for the parties to adduce evidence on the actual value of the properties of Alfredo Ching levied on by the sheriff.30 On March 2, 1988, the trial court issued an Order granting the motion of the ABC and rendered the attachment bond of P6,350,000.31 On November 16, 1993, Encarnacion T. Ching, assisted by her husband Alfredo Ching, filed a Motion to Set Aside the levy on attachment. She alleged inter alia that the 100,000 shares of stocks levied on by the sheriff were acquired by her and her husband during their marriage out of conjugal funds after the Citycorp Investment Philippines was established in 1974. Furthermore, the indebtedness covered by the continuing guaranty/comprehensive suretyship contract executed by petitioner Alfredo Ching for the account of PBMCI did not redound to the benefit of the conjugal partnership. She, likewise, alleged that being the wife of Alfredo Ching, she was a third-party claimant entitled to file a motion for the release of the properties. 32 She attached therewith a copy of her marriage contract with Alfredo Ching.33 The ABC filed a comment on the motion to quash preliminary attachment and/or motion to expunge records, contending that: 2.1 The supposed movant, Encarnacion T. Ching, is not a party to this present case; thus, she has no personality to file any motion before this Honorable Court;

2.2 Said supposed movant did not file any Motion for Intervention pursuant to Section 2, Rule 12 of the Rules of Court; 2.3 Said Motion cannot even be construed to be in the nature of a Third-Party Claim conformably with Sec. 14, Rule 57 of the Rules of Court. 3. Furthermore, assuming in gracia argumenti that the supposed movant has the required personality, her Motion cannot be acted upon by this Honorable Court as the above-entitled case is still in the archives and the proceedings thereon still remains suspended. And there is no previous Motion to revive the same. 34 The ABC also alleged that the motion was barred by prescription or by laches because the shares of stocks were in custodia legis. During the hearing of the motion, Encarnacion T. Ching adduced in evidence her marriage contract to Alfredo Ching to prove that they were married on January 8, 1960;35 the articles of incorporation of Citycorp Investment Philippines dated May 14, 1979; 36 and, the General Information Sheet of the corporation showing that petitioner Alfredo Ching was a member of the Board of Directors of the said corporation and was one of its top twenty stockholders. On December 10, 1993, the Spouses Ching filed their Reply/Opposition to the motion to expunge records. Acting on the aforementioned motion, the trial court issued on December 15, 1993 an Order 37 lifting the writ of preliminary attachment on the shares of stocks and ordering the sheriff to return the said stocks to the petitioners. The dispositive portion reads: WHEREFORE, the instant Motion to Quash Preliminary Attachment, dated November 9, 1993, is hereby granted. Let the writ of preliminary attachment subject matter of said motion, be quashed and lifted with respect to the attached 100,000 common shares of stock of Citycorp Investment Philippines in the name of the defendant Alfredo Ching, the said shares of stock to be returned to him and his movant-spouse by Deputy Sheriff Apolonio A. Golfo who effected the levy thereon on July 26, 1983, or by whoever may be presently in possession thereof. SO ORDERED.38 The plaintiff Allied Banking Corporation filed a motion for the reconsideration of the order but denied the same on February 17, 1994. The petitioner bank forthwith filed a petition for certiorari with the CA, docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 33585, for the nullification of the said order of the court, contending that: 1. The respondent Judge exceeded his authority thereby acted without jurisdiction in taking cognizance of, and granting a "Motion" filed by a complete stranger to the case. 2. The respondent Judge committed a grave abuse of discretion in lifting the writ of preliminary attachment without any basis in fact and in law, and contrary to established jurisprudence on the matter. 39 On November 27, 1995, the CA rendered judgment granting the petition and setting aside the assailed orders of the trial court, thus: WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is GRANTED, hereby setting aside the questioned orders (dated December 15, 1993 and February 17, 1994) for being null and void. SO ORDERED.40 The CA sustained the contention of the private respondent and set aside the assailed orders. According to the CA, the RTC deprived the private respondent of its right to file a bond under Section 14, Rule 57 of the Rules of Court. The petitioner Encarnacion T. Ching was not a party in the trial court; hence, she had no right of action to have the levy annulled with a motion for that purpose. Her remedy in such case was to file a separate action against the private respondent to nullify the levy on the 100,000 Citycorp shares of stocks. The court stated that even assuming that Encarnacion T. Ching had the right to file the said motion, the same was barred by laches. Citing Wong v. Intermediate Appellate Court,41 the CA ruled that the presumption in Article 160 of the New Civil Code shall not apply where, as in this case, the petitioner-spouses failed to prove the source of the money used to acquire the shares of stock. It held that the levied shares of stocks belonged to Alfredo Ching, as evidenced by the fact that the said shares were registered in the

corporate books of Citycorp solely under his name. Thus, according to the appellate court, the RTC committed a grave abuse of its discretion amounting to excess or lack of jurisdiction in issuing the assailed orders. The petitioners motion for reconsideration was denied by the CA in a Resolution dated April 2, 1996. The petitioner-spouses filed the instant petition for review on certiorari, asserting that the RTC did not commit any grave abuse of discretion amounting to excess or lack of jurisdiction in issuing the assailed orders in their favor; hence, the CA erred in reversing the same. They aver that the source of funds in the acquisition of the levied shares of stocks is not the controlling factor when invoking the presumption of the conjugal nature of stocks under Art. 160, 42 and that such presumption subsists even if the property is registered only in the name of one of the spouses, in this case, petitioner Alfredo Ching.43 According to the petitioners, the suretyship obligation was not contracted in the pursuit of the petitioner-husbands profession or business.44 And, contrary to the ruling of the CA, where conjugal assets are attached in a collection suit on an obligation contracted by the husband, the wife should exhaust her motion to quash in the main case and not file a separate suit. 45 Furthermore, the petitioners contend that under Art. 125 of the Family Code, the petitioner-husbands gratuitous suretyship is null and void ab initio,46 and that the share of one of the spouses in the conjugal partnership remains inchoate until the dissolution and liquidation of the partnership. 47 In its comment on the petition, the private respondent asserts that the CA correctly granted its petition for certiorari nullifying the assailed order. It contends that the CA correctly relied on the ruling of this Court in Wong v. Intermediate Appellate Court. Citing Cobb-Perez v. Lantin and G-Tractors, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, the private respondent alleges that the continuing guaranty and suretyship executed by petitioner Alfredo Ching in pursuit of his profession or business. Furthermore, according to the private respondent, the right of the petitioner-wife to a share in the conjugal partnership property is merely inchoate before the dissolution of the partnership; as such, she had no right to file the said motion to quash the levy on attachment of the shares of stocks. The issues for resolution are as follows: (a) whether the petitioner-wife has the right to file the motion to quash the levy on attachment on the 100,000 shares of stocks in the Citycorp Investment Philippines; (b) whether or not the RTC committed a grave abuse of its discretion amounting to excess or lack of jurisdiction in issuing the assailed orders. On the first issue, we agree with the petitioners that the petitioner-wife had the right to file the said motion, although she was not a party in Civil Case No. 142729.48 In Ong v. Tating,49 we held that the sheriff may attach only those properties of the defendant against whom a writ of attachment has been issued by the court. When the sheriff erroneously levies on attachment and seizes the property of a third person in which the said defendant holds no right or interest, the superior authority of the court which has authorized the execution may be invoked by the aggrieved third person in the same case. Upon application of the third person, the court shall order a summary hearing for the purpose of determining whether the sheriff has acted rightly or wrongly in the performance of his duties in the execution of the writ of attachment, more specifically if he has indeed levied on attachment and taken hold of property not belonging to the plaintiff. If so, the court may then order the sheriff to release the property from the erroneous levy and to return the same to the third person. In resolving the motion of the third party, the court does not and cannot pass upon the question of the title to the property with any character of finality. It can treat the matter only insofar as may be necessary to decide if the sheriff has acted correctly or not. If the claimants proof does not persuade the court of the validity of the title, or right of possession th ereto, the claim will be denied by the court. The aggrieved third party may also avail himself of the remedy of "terceria" by executing an affidavit of his title or right of possession over the property levied on attachment and serving the same to the office making the levy and the adverse party. Such party may also file an action to nullify the levy with damages resulting from the unlawful levy and seizure, which should be a totally separate and distinct action from the former case. The above-mentioned remedies are cumulative and any one of them may be resorted to by one third-party claimant without availing of the other remedies.50 In this case, the petitioner-wife filed her motion to set aside the levy on attachment of the 100,000 shares of stocks in the name of petitioner-husband claiming that the said shares of stocks were conjugal in nature; hence, not liable for the account of her husband under his continuing guaranty and suretyship agreement with the PBMCI. The petitioner-wife had the right to file the motion for said relief. On the second issue, we find and so hold that the CA erred in setting aside and reversing the orders of the RTC. The private respondent, the petitioner in the CA, was burdened to prove that the RTC committed a grave abuse of its discretion amounting to excess or lack of jurisdiction. The tribunal acts without jurisdiction if it does not have the legal purpose to determine the case; there is excess of jurisdiction where the tribunal, being clothed with the power to determine the case, oversteps its authority as determined by law. There is grave abuse of discretion where the tribunal acts in a capricious, whimsical, arbitrary or despotic manner in the exercise of its judgment and is equivalent to lack of jurisdiction. 51 It was incumbent upon the private respondent to adduce a sufficiently strong demonstration that the RTC acted whimsically in total disregard of evidence material to, and even decide of, the controversy before certiorari will lie. A special civil action for

certiorari is a remedy designed for the correction of errors of jurisdiction and not errors of judgment. When a court exercises its jurisdiction, an error committed while so engaged does not deprive it of its jurisdiction being exercised when the error is committed.52 After a comprehensive review of the records of the RTC and of the CA, we find and so hold that the RTC did not commit any grave abuse of its discretion amounting to excess or lack of jurisdiction in issuing the assailed orders. Article 160 of the New Civil Code provides that all the properties acquired during the marriage are presumed to belong to the conjugal partnership, unless it be proved that it pertains exclusively to the husband, or to the wife. In Tan v. Court of Appeals,53 we held that it is not even necessary to prove that the properties were acquired with funds of the partnership. As long as the properties were acquired by the parties during the marriage, they are presumed to be conjugal in nature. In fact, even when the manner in which the properties were acquired does not appear, the presumption will still apply, and the properties will still be considered conjugal. The presumption of the conjugal nature of the properties acquired during the marriage subsists in the absence of clear, satisfactory and convincing evidence to overcome the same. 54 In this case, the evidence adduced by the petitioners in the RTC is that the 100,000 shares of stocks in the Citycorp Investment Philippines were issued to and registered in its corporate books in the name of the petitioner-husband when the said corporation was incorporated on May 14, 1979. This was done during the subsistence of the marriage of the petitioner-spouses. The shares of stocks are, thus, presumed to be the conjugal partnership property of the petitioners. The private respondent failed to adduce evidence that the petitioner-husband acquired the stocks with his exclusive money.55 The barefaced fact that the shares of stocks were registered in the corporate books of Citycorp Investment Philippines solely in the name of the petitioner-husband does not constitute proof that the petitioner-husband, not the conjugal partnership, owned the same. 56 The private respondents reliance on the rulings of this Court in Maramba v. Lozano 57 and Associated Insurance & Surety Co., Inc. v. Banzon58 is misplaced. In the Maramba case, we held that where there is no showing as to when the property was acquired, the fact that the title is in the wifes name alone is determinative of the ownership of the property. The principle was reiterated in the Associated Insurance case where the uncontroverted evidence showed that the shares of stocks were acquired during the marriage of the petitioners. Instead of fortifying the contention of the respondents, the ruling of this Court in Wong v. Intermediate Appellate Court 59 buttresses the case for the petitioners. In that case, we ruled that he who claims that property acquired by the spouses during their marriage is not conjugal partnership property but belongs to one of them as his personal property is burdened to prove the source of the money utilized to purchase the same. In this case, the private respondent claimed that the petitioner-husband acquired the shares of stocks from the Citycorp Investment Philippines in his own name as the owner thereof. It was, thus, the burden of the private respondent to prove that the source of the money utilized in the acquisition of the shares of stocks was that of the petitioner-husband alone. As held by the trial court, the private respondent failed to adduce evidence to prove this assertion. The CA, likewise, erred in holding that by executing a continuing guaranty and suretyship agreement with the private respondent for the payment of the PBMCI loans, the petitioner-husband was in the exercise of his profession, pursuing a legitimate business. The appellate court erred in concluding that the conjugal partnership is liable for the said account of PBMCI under Article 161(1) of the New Civil Code. Article 161(1) of the New Civil Code (now Article 121[2 and 3]60 of the Family Code of the Philippines) provides: Art. 161. The conjugal partnership shall be liable for: (1) All debts and obligations contracted by the husband for the benefit of the conjugal partnership, and those contracted by the wife, also for the same purpose, in the cases where she may legally bind the partnership. The petitioner-husband signed the continuing guaranty and suretyship agreement as security for the payment of the loan obtained by the PBMCI from the private respondent in the amount of P38,000,000. In Ayala Investment and Development Corp. v. Court of Appeals,61 this Court ruled "that the signing as surety is certainly not an exercise of an industry or profession. It is not embarking in a business. No matter how often an executive acted on or was persuaded to act as surety for his own employer, this should not be taken to mean that he thereby embarked in the business of suretyship or guaranty." For the conjugal partnership to be liable for a liability that should appertain to the husband alone, there must be a showing that some advantages accrued to the spouses. Certainly, to make a conjugal partnership responsible for a liability that should appertain alone to one of the spouses is to frustrate the objective of the New Civil Code to show the utmost concern for the solidarity and well being of the family as a unit. The husband, therefore, is denied the power to assume unnecessary and unwarranted risks to the financial stability of the conjugal partnership.62

In this case, the private respondent failed to prove that the conjugal partnership of the petitioners was benefited by the petitionerhusbands act of executing a continuing guaranty and suretyship agreement with the private respondent for and in behalf of PBMCI. The contract of loan was between the private respondent and the PBMCI, solely for the benefit of the latter. No presumption can be inferred from the fact that when the petitioner-husband entered into an accommodation agreement or a contract of surety, the conjugal partnership would thereby be benefited. The private respondent was burdened to establish that such benefit redounded to the conjugal partnership.63 It could be argued that the petitioner-husband was a member of the Board of Directors of PBMCI and was one of its top twenty stockholders, and that the shares of stocks of the petitioner-husband and his family would appreciate if the PBMCI could be rehabilitated through the loans obtained; that the petitioner-husbands career would be enhanced should PBMCI survive because of the infusion of fresh capital. However, these are not the benefits contemplated by Article 161 of the New Civil Code. The benefits must be those directly resulting from the loan. They cannot merely be a by-product or a spin-off of the loan itself.64 This is different from the situation where the husband borrows money or receives services to be used for his own business or profession. In the Ayala case, we ruled that it is such a contract that is one within the term "obligation for the benefit of the conjugal partnership." Thus: (A) If the husband himself is the principal obligor in the contract, i.e., he directly received the money and services to be used in or for his own business or his own profession, that contract falls within the term " obligations for the benefit of the conjuga l partnership." Here, no actual benefit may be proved. It is enough that the benefit to the family is apparent at the time of the signing of the contract. From the very nature of the contract of loan or services, the family stands to benefit from the loan facility or services to be rendered to the business or profession of the husband. It is immaterial, if in the end, his business or profession fails or does not succeed. Simply stated, where the husband contracts obligations on behalf of the family business, the law presumes, and rightly so, that such obligation will redound to the benefit of the conjugal partnership.65 The Court held in the same case that the rulings of the Court in Cobb-Perez and G-Tractors, Inc. are not controlling because the husband, in those cases, contracted the obligation for his own business. In this case, the petitioner-husband acted merely as a surety for the loan contracted by the PBMCI from the private respondent. IN LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the petition is GRANTED. The Decision and Resolution of the Court of Appeals are SET ASIDE AND REVERSED. The assailed orders of the RTC are AFFIRMED. SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 143286

April 14, 2004

PROCOPIO VILLANUEVA, NICOLAS RETUYA and PACITA VILLANUEVA, petitioners, vs. COURT OF APPEALS and THE HEIRS OF EUSEBIA NAPISA RETUYA, respondents. DECISION CARPIO, J.: This petition for review on certiorari1 seeks the reversal of the Court of Appeals Decision dated 31 January 2000 as well as its Resolution dated 25 April 2000 in CA-G.R. No. CV-46716. The assailed Decision dismissed petitioners appeal of the Decision of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 55, Mandaue City ("trial court"). On 13 October 1988, Eusebia Napisa Retuya ("Eusebia") filed a complaint before the trial court against her husband Nicolas Retuya ("Nicolas"), Pacita Villanueva ("Pacita"), and Nicolas son with Pacita, Pr ocopio Villanueva ("Procopio"). Eusebia sought the reconveyance from Nicolas and Pacita of several properties listed in paragraph 2 of the complaint ("subject properties"), claiming the subject properties are her conjugal properties with Nicolas. Eusebia also prayed for accounting, damages and the delivery of rent and other income from the subject properties.

Antecedent Facts The facts as found by the trial court are as follows: Plaintiff Eusebia Napisa Retuya, is the legal wife of defendant Nicolas Retuya, having been married to the latter on October 7, 1926. Out of the lawful wedlock, they begot five (5) children, namely, Natividad, Angela, Napoleon, Salome, and Roberta. Spouses Retuya resided at Tipolo, Mandaue City. During their marriage they acquired real properties and all improvements situated in Mandaue City, and Consolacion, Cebu, more particularly described as follows: 1. A parcel of land located at Pulpugan, Consolacion, Cebu under tax dec. No. 24951; 2. A parcel of land located at Pulpugan, Consolacion, Cebu under tax dec. No. 24952; 3. A parcel of land located at Pulpugan, Consolacion, Cebu under tax dec. No. 24953; 4. A parcel of land located at Pulpugan, Consolacion, Cebu under tax dec. No. 24954; 5. A parcel of land located at Pulpugan, Consolacion, Cebu under tax dec. No. 24956; 6. A parcel of land located at Pulpugan, Consolacion, Cebu under tax dec. No. 24957; 7. A parcel of land located at Pulpugan, Consolacion, Cebu under tax dec. No. 24958; 8. A parcel of land located at Tipolo, Mandaue City, covered by tax dec. No. 01042; 9. A parcel of land located at Tipolo, Mandaue City, covered by tax dec. No. 01043; 10. A parcel of land located at Tipolo, Mandaue City, covered by tax dec. No. 01046; 11. A parcel of land located at Tipolo, Mandaue City, covered by tax dec. No. 01041; 12. A parcel of land located at Nawanao-Subangdaku, Mandaue City covered by tax dec. No. 01488; 13. A parcel of land located at Baklid, Mandaue City, covered by tax dec. No. 00492; 14. A parcel of land located at Tipolo, Mandaue City covered by tax dec. No. 01044; 15. A residential house located at Tipolo, Mandaue City covered by tax dec. No. 01050; 16. A parcel of land located at Tipolo, Mandaue City covered by tax dec. No. 01048; 17. A parcel of land located at Tipolo, Mandaue City covered by tax dec. No. 01051; 18. A parcel of land located at Tipolo, Mandaue City covered by tax dec. No. 01047; 19. A parcel of land located at Banilad, Mandaue City covered by tax dec. No. 02381; 20. A parcel of land located at Tipolo, Mandaue City covered by tax dec. No. 01049; 21. A parcel of land located at Tipolo, Mandaue City covered by tax dec. No. 01045; 22. A parcel of land located at Tipolo, Mandaue City covered by tax dec. No. 01450 (in the name of Pacita Villanueva).

Also, defendant, Nicolas Retuya, is co-owner of a parcel of land situated in Mandaue City which he inherited from his parents Esteban Retuya and Balbina Solon as well as the purchasers of hereditary shares of approximately eight (8) parcels of land in Mandaue City. Some of these properties above-mentioned earn income from coconuts and the other lands/houses are leased to the following: a) Mandaue Food Products Company for Lot 121-F, Lot 121-G and Lot 121-H under TCT No. 11300 at an annual rental of P10,800.00; b) Barben Wood Industries, Inc. for Lot 148 covered by TCT No. l731 for an annual rental of P21,600.00; c) Metaphil, Inc. parcel of land consisting of 2,790.51 sq. meters at the rate of P2,700.00 annually for the first five (5) years, and P3,240.00 for the second years; d) Benedicto Development Corp. for a portion of Lot 148 covered by TCT No. 1731 for a period of 20 years at an annual rate of P3,500.00 renewable for another 20 years after April 1, 1995 at an annual rate of P4,000.00; e) Benedicto Development Corporation for a portion of Lot No. 148 covered by Certificate of Title No. 1731 over an area of 6,000 sq. meters for an annual rental of P9,500.00 for a period of 2 years from June 1, 1982; f) Visayan Timber and Machinery Corp. over a parcel of land at Nawanaw, Mandaue City, for a period of 2 years from June 1, 1987 and renewable for another 12 years at an annual income of P4,000.00; g) House lessees listed in Exhibit "13" with total monthly rentals of P1,975.00 a month for the 24 lessees or P24,700.00 annually. (Exhs. "7" to "13") In 1945, defendant Nicolas Retuya no longer lived with his legitimate family and cohabited with defendant, Pacita Villanueva, wherein defendant, Procopio Villanueva, is their illegitimate son. Nicolas, then, was the only person who received the income of the above-mentioned properties. Defendant, Pacita Villanueva, from the time she started living in concubinage with Nicolas, has no occupation, she had no properties of her own from which she could derive income. In 1985, Nicolas suffered a stroke and cannot talk anymore, cannot walk anymore and they have to raise him up in order to walk. Natividad Retuya knew of the physical condition of her father because they visited him at the hospital. From the time defendant Nicolas Retuya suffered a stroke on January 27, 1985 and until the present, it is defendant Procopio Villanueva, one of Nicolas illegitimate children who has been receiving the income of these properties. Witness Natividad Retuya went to Procopio to negotiate because at this time their father Nicolas was already senile and has a childlike mind. She told defendant, Procopio that their father was already incapacitated and they had to talk things over and the latter replied that it was not yet the time to talk about the matter. Plaintiff, then, complained to the Barangay Captain for reconciliation/mediation but no settlement was reached, hence, the said official issued a certification to file action. Written demands were made by plaintiff, through her counsel, to the defendants, including the illegitimate family asking for settlement but no settlement was reached by the parties. Further, plaintiffs witness, Natividad Retuya, testified that the parcel of land covered by tax declaration marked Exhibit "T" was the property bought by her father from Adriano Marababol for at the time of purchase of the property, defendant Pacita Villanueva had no means of livelihood (TSN, p. 6). The trial court rendered its Decision on 16 February 1994 in favor of Eusebia. The dispositive portion of the Decision states: WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing considerations, judgment is rendered in favor of the plaintiff Eusebia Napisa Retuya and against defendants Procopio Villanueva, Nicolas Retuya and Pacita Villanueva: 1. Declaring the properties listed in paragraph 2 of the amended complaint as conjugal properties of the spouses plaintiff Eusebia Retuya and the defendant Nicolas Retuya;

2. Ordering the transfer of the sole administration of conjugal properties of the spouses Eusebia Retuya and Nicolas Retuya in accordance with Art. 124 of the Family Code to the plaintiff Eusebia Napisa Retuya; 3. Ordering defendant Procopio Villanueva to account and turnover all proceeds or rentals or income of the conjugal properties from January 27, 1985 when he took over as administrator thereof and until he shall have ceased administering the same in accordance with the judgment of this Court; 4. Ordering defendants jointly and severally to reconvey the parcel of land situated at Tipolo, Mandaue City now in the name of defendant Pacita Villanueva under tax dec. No. 01450 and transfer the same into the names of the conjugal partners Eusebia N. Retuya and Nicolas Retuya; 5. Ordering the City Assessors Office of Mandaue City to cancel tax declarati on No. 01450 in the name of Pacita Villanueva and direct the issuance of a new title and tax declaration in the names of Eusebia Napisa Retuya and Nicolas Retuya; 6. Ordering defendants jointly and severally to reconvey that certain building of strong materials located at Tipolo, Mandaue City under tax dec. No. 01450 into the names of Eusebia Retuya and Nicolas Retuya; 7. Ordering defendants jointly and severally to pay plaintiff the sum of P50,000.00 by way of attorneys fees and expenses of litigation in the sum of P5,000.00 plus the costs. SO ORDERED. Petitioners appealed the trial courts decision to the Court of Appeals. Eusebia died on 23 November 1996. Thereafter, Eusebias heirs substituted her pursuant to the resolution of the Court of Appeals dated 7 April 1997. The Court of Appeals eventually upheld the Decision of the trial court but deleted the award of attorneys fees, ruling in this wise: WHEREFORE, the decision dated February 16, 1994 is AFFIRMED with the modification that the award of attor neys fees of P50,000.00 is deleted. SO ORDERED. Petitioners filed a Motion for Reconsideration on 23 February 2000 which the Court of Appeals denied in a Resolution dated 11 May 2000. Hence, this petition. The Trial Courts Ruling The trial court applied Article 116 of the Family Code, which reads: Art. 116. All property acquired during the marriage, whether the acquisition appears to have been made, contracted or registered in the name of one or both spouses, is presumed conjugal unless the contrary is proved. The trial court ruled that the documents and other evidence Eusebia presented constitute "solid evidence" which proved that the subject properties were acquired during her marriage with Nicolas. This made the presumption in Article 116 applicable to the subject properties. Thus, the trial court ruled that Eusebia had proved that the subject properties are conjugal in nature. On the other hand, the trial court found that petitioners failed to meet the standard of proof required to maintain their claim that the subject properties are paraphernal properties of Nicolas. The trial court added that Pacita presented no "factual solidity" to support her claim that she bought Lot No. 1522 exclusively with her own money. The Court of Appeals Ruling The Court of Appeals concurred with the findings of the trial court. The appellate court found that Pacita failed to rebut the presumption under Article 116 of the Family Code that the subject properties are conjugal. The appellate court dismissed Paci tas defense of prescription and laches since she failed to have the issue included in the pre-trial order after raising it in her answer with her co-petitioners.

The Issues Petitioners Nicolas, Pacita and Procopio contend that both the trial and appellate courts erred in ruling in favor of Eusebia. They seek a reversal and raise the following issues for resolution: 1. WHETHER THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN SUSTAINING THE DECLARATION OF THE TRIAL COURT THAT THE PROPERTIES LISTED IN PARAGRAPH 2 OF THE COMPLAINT ARE CONJUGAL PROPERTIES OF NICOLAS RETUYA AND EUSEBIA RETUYA ALTHOUGH THIS WAS NOT ONE OF THE CAUSES OF ACTION IN EUSEBIAS COMPLAINT. 2. WHETHER THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN APPLYING THE PRESUMPTION THAT PROPERTIES ACQUIRED DURING THE EXISTENCE OF THE MARRIAGE OF NICOLAS RETUYA AND EUSEBIA RETUYA ARE CONJUGAL. 3. WHETHER THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN NOT APPLYING INSTEAD THE PRESUMPTION UNDER ARTICLE 148 OF THE FAMILY CODE IN FAVOR OF CO-OWNERSHIP BETWEEN NICOLAS RETUYA AND PACITA VILLANUEVA. 4. WHETHER THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN NOT DECLARING THAT THE ACTION FOR RECONVEYANCE OVER LOT NO. 152 IS ALREADY BARRED BY PRESCRIPTION OR LACHES. 3 The Ruling of the Court The petition lacks merit. First Issue: On the Alleged Failure To Claim that the Properties are Conjugal Petitioners contention that Eusebias complaint failed to state that the subject properties are conjugal is absolutely witho ut basis. A cursory reading of the complaint readily shows that the complaint maintains that the subject properties are conjugal.4 The first sentence of the second paragraph of the complaint states: 2. The plaintiff Eusebia Retuya and defendant Nicolas Retuya are husband and wife and conjugal owners of real properties and all improvements thereon situated in Mandaue City and Consolacion, Cebu more particularly described as follows: (Emphasis added) The same claim is restated and repleaded throughout the complaint. Petitioners should know better than to clutter their appeal with useless arguments such as this. The other issues petitioners raise contest in essence the finding that the subject properties are conjugal in nature. Apart from this, the only other issue raised is whether prescription or laches bars Eusebias complaint. We shall resolve first the issue of prescription and laches. Second Issue: Prescription and Laches We agree with the Court of Appeals observation that while petitioners did raise the issue of prescription and laches in thei r Answer,5 they failed to have the same included in the pre-trial order for consideration during the trial. Now, petitioners wish to raise the issue on appeal by relying on Section 1, Rule 9 of the Rules of Court, which provides: Section 1. Defenses and objections not pleaded. Defenses and objections not pleaded either in a motion to dismiss or in the answer are deemed waived. However, when it appears from the pleadings or the evidence on record that the court has no jurisdiction over the subject matter, that there is another action pending between the same parties for the same cause, or that the action is barred by a prior judgment or by statute of limitations, the court shall dismiss the claim. Petitioners are mistaken.

The determination of issues during the pre-trial conference bars the consideration of other questions, whether during trial or on appeal.6 Section 1 of Rule 9 covers situations where a defense or objection is not raised in a motion to dismiss or an answer. What we have before us is the exact opposite. Here, petitioners in fact raised in their answer the defense of prescription and laches. However, despite raising the defense of prescription and laches in their answer, petitioners failed to include this defense among the issues for consideration during the trial. The non-inclusion of this defense in the pre-trial order barred its consideration during the trial. Clearly, Section 1 of Rule 9 does not apply to the present case. Pre-trial is primarily intended to insure that the parties properly raise all issues necessary to dispose of a case. 7 The parties must disclose during pre-trial all issues they intend to raise during the trial, except those involving privileged or impeaching matters. 8 Although a pre-trial order is not meant to catalogue each issue that the parties may take up during the trial, issues not included in the pre-trial order may be considered only if they are impliedly included in the issues raised or inferable from the issues raised by necessary implication.9 The basis of the rule is simple. Petitioners are bound by the delimitation of the issues during the pre-trial because they themselves agreed to the same.10 Petitioners argue that in past instances we have reviewed matters raised for the first time during appeal. True, but we have done so only by way of exception involving clearly meritorious situations.11 This case does not fall under any of those exceptions. The fact that the case proceeded to trial, with the petitioners actively participating without raising the necessary objection, all the more requires that they be bound by the stipulations they made at the pre-trial.12 Petitioners were well aware that they raised the defense of prescription and laches since they included it in their answer. However, for reasons of their own, they did not include this defense in the pre-trial. Able counsels represented both parties. We see no claim that either counsel erred or was negligent. This could only mean that petitioners counsel chose to waive, or did not consider important, the defense of prescription and laches. Petitioners are b ound by their counsels choice. Other than argui ng that it is allowable to raise the issue for the first time on appeal, we have no explanation from petitioners why they suddenly decided to change their mind. Parties are not allowed to flip-flop. Courts have neither the time nor the resources to accommodate parties who choose to go to trial haphazardly. Moreover, it would be grossly unfair to allow petitioners the luxury of changing their mind to the detriment of private respondents at this late stage. To put it simply, since petitioners did not raise the defense of prescription and laches during the trial, they cannot now raise this defense for the first time on appeal.13 Third Issue: Whether the Subject Properties Are Conjugal We proceed to the crux of this petition. We reiterate the basic rule that a petition for review should only cover questions of law. 14 Questions of fact are not reviewable. The exceptions apply only in the presence of extremely meritorious circumstances. 15 None exists in this case. We note with disfavor that most of the issues raised in this petition are factual. We caution the petitioners that this practice of deluging the Court with factual issues in defiance of well-settled rule, in the hope of having them reviewed, is unacceptable. The only issue proper for resolution is the question of whether the subject properties are conjugal. Petitioners claim that the subject properties16 are exclusive properties of Nicolas except for Lot No. 152, which they claim is Pacitas exclusive property. This issue is easily resolved. The Family Code provisions on conjugal partnerships govern the property relations between Nicolas and Eusebia even if they were married before the effectivity of Family Code. 17 Article 10518 of the Family Code explicitly mandates that the Family Code shall apply to conjugal partnerships established before the Family Code without prejudice to vested rights already acquired under the Civil Code or other laws. Thus, under the Family Code, if the properties are acquired during the marriage, the presumption is that they are conjugal.19 The burden of proof is on the party claiming that they are not conjugal. 20 This is counter-balanced by the requirement that the properties must first be proven to have been acquired during the marriage before they are presumed conjugal.21 Petitioners argue that Eusebia failed to prove this pre-requisite. We disagree. The question of whether the subject properties were acquired during the marriage of Nicolas and Eusebia is a factual issue. Both the trial and appellate courts agreed that the subject properties were in fact acquired during the marriage of Nicolas and Eusebia. 22 The tax declarations23 covering the subject properties, along with the unrebutted testimony of Eusebias witnesses, establish this fact. We give due deference to factual findings of trial courts,24 especially when affirmed by the appellate court. A reversal of this finding can only occur if petitioners show sufficient reason for us to doubt its correctness. Petitioners in the present case have not. Moreover, on whether Lot No. 152 is conjugal or not, the answer came from petitioners themselves. Nicolas and Eusebia were married on 7 October 1926. Nicolas and Pacita started cohabiting in 1936. Eusebia died on 23 November 1996. Pacita and Nicolas were married on 16 December 1996. Petitioners themselves admit that Lot No. 152 was purchased on 4 October 1957. 25 The date of acquisition of Lot No. 152 is clearly during the marriage of Nicolas and Eusebia.

Since the subject properties, including Lot No. 152, were acquired during the marriage of Nicolas and Eusebia, the presumption under Article 116 of the Family Code is that all these are conjugal properties of Nicolas and Eusebia. The burden is on petitioners to prove that the subject properties are not conjugal. The presumption in Article 116, which subsists "unless the contrary is proved," stands as an obstacle to any claim the petitioners may have. The burden of proving that a property is exclusive property of a spouse rests on the party asserting it and the evidence required must be clear and convincing.26 Petitioners failed to meet this standard. Petitioners point out that the deed of sale, the transfer certificate of title and the tax declaration of Lot No. 152 are all in the name of Pacita. Petitioners maintain that this can only mean that Pacita is the real owner of Lot No. 152. We disagree. The totality of the evidence reveals that this was merely just one of the several schemes Nicolas employed to deprive Eusebia of their conjugal property. Ironically, petitioners themselves submitted in evidence a decision rendered by the Regional Trial Court of Cebu, Branch IV, in Civil Case No. R-960227 involving the acquisition of Lot No. 152. The decision in Civil Case No. R-9602 stated that Tranquiliana Marababol Remulta testified that the one who offered to buy the lot from her was none other than Nicolas Retuya.28 Tranquiliana narrated that at first she refused to sign the deed of sale because the buyer placed in the deed was Pacita and not Nicolas, her understanding being that the buyer was Nicolas. We find that the trial court in the present case correctly took into consideration the decision in Civil Case No. R-9602.29 Considering that the decision in Civil Case No. R-9602 has become final and executory, its findings of fact involving the sale of Lot No. 152 to Nicolas and Pacita are conclusive and binding on petitioners who introduced in evidence the decision. Petitioners also point out that all the other tax declarations presented before the trial court are in the name of Nicolas alone. Petitioners argue that this serves as proof of Nicolas exclusive ownership of these properties. Petitioners are mistaken. Th e tax declarations are not sufficient proof to overcome the presumption under Article 116 of the Family Code. All property acquired by the spouses during the marriage, regardless in whose name the property is registered, is presumed conjugal unless proved otherwise.30 The presumption is not rebutted by the mere fact that the certificate of title of the property or the tax declaration is in the name of one of the spouses only.31 Article 116 of the Family Code expressly provides that the presumption remains even if the property is "registered in the name of one or both of the spouses." In some of the documents that petitioners presented, Nicolas misrepresented his civil status by claiming that he was single. Petitioners point to this as proof of Nicolas desire to exclude Eusebia from the properties covered by the documents. 32 Petitioners further claim that this supports their stand that the subject properties are not conjugal. This argument is baseless. Whether a property is conjugal or not is determined by law and not by the will of one of the spouses. No unilateral declaration by one spouse can change the character of conjugal property. The clear intent of Nicolas in placing his status as single is to exclude Eusebia from her lawful share in the conjugal property. The law does not allow this. Petitioners point out that Pacita had the means to buy Lot No. 152. Even if Pacita had the financial capacity, this does not prove that Pacita bought Lot No. 152 with her own money. To rebut the presumption that Lot No. 152 is conjugal, petitioners must prove that Pacita used her own money to pay for Lot No. 152. Petitioners failed to prove this. Petitioners further argue that since Nicolas and Pacita were already cohabiting when Lot No. 152 was acquired, the lot cannot be deemed conjugal property of Nicolas and Eusebia. Petitioners keep belaboring this point in their petition and memorandum. Petitioners argument is flawed. The cohabitation of a spouse with another person, even for a long period, does not sever the tie of a subsisting previous marriage.33 Otherwise, the law would be giving a stamp of approval to an act that is both illegal and immoral. What petitioners fail to grasp is that Nicolas and Pacitas cohabitation cannot work to the detriment of Eusebia, the legal spouse. The marriage of Nicolas and Eusebia continued to exist regardless of the fact that Nicolas was already living with Pacita. Hence, all property acquired from 7 October 1926, the date of Nicolas and Eusebias marriage, until 23 November 1996, the date of Eusebias death, are still pres umed conjugal. Petitioners have neither claimed nor proved that any of the subject properties was acquired outside or beyond this period. Finally, petitioners reliance on Article 148 of the Family Code 34 is misplaced. A reading of Article 148 readily shows that there must be proof of "actual joint contribution" by both the live-in partners before the property becomes co-owned by them in proportion to their contribution. The presumption of equality of contribution arises only in the absence of proof of their proportionate contributions, subject to the condition that actual joint contribution is proven first. Simply put, proof of actual contribution by both parties is required, otherwise there is no co-ownership and no presumption of equal sharing. Petitioners failed to show proof of actual contribution by Pacita in the acquisition of Lot No. 152. In short, petitioners failed to prove that Pacita bought Lot No. 152 with her own money, or that she actually contributed her own money to acquire it.

WHEREFORE, we DENY the petition. The Decision of the Court of Appeals dated 31 January 2000 in CA-G.R. CV No. 46716 is AFFIRMED. SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 146504

April 9, 2002

HONORIO L. CARLOS, petitioner, vs. MANUEL T. ABELARDO, respondent. KAPUNAN, J.: Assailed in this petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court is the decision of the Court of Appeals dated November 10, 2000 in CA-G.R. CV No. 54464 which reversed and set aside the decision of the Regional Trial Court of Valenzuela, Branch 172, and dismissed for insufficiency of evidence the complaint for a sum of money and damages filed by herein petitioner Honorio Carlos against respondent Manuel Abelardo, his son-in-law, and the latters wife, Maria Theresa CarlosAbelardo. Petitioner averred in his complaint filed on October 13, 1994 that in October 1989, respondent and his wife Maria Theresa CarlosAbelardo approached him and requested him to advance the amount of US$25,000.00 for the purchase of a house and lot located at #19952 Chestnut Street, Executive Heights Village, Paranaque, Metro Manila. To enable and assist the spouses conduct their married life independently and on their own, petitioner, in October 31, 1989, issued a check in the name of a certain Pura Vallejo, seller of the property, who acknowledged receipt thereof.1 The amount was in full payment of the property. When petitioner inquired from the spouses in July 1991 as to the status of the amount he loaned to them, the latter acknowledged their obligation but pleaded that they were not yet in a position to make a definite settlement of the same. 2Thereafter, respondent expressed violent resistance to petitioners inquiries on the amount to the extent of making various death threats against petitioner .3 On August 24, 1994, petitioner made a formal demand for the payment of the amount of US$25,000.00 but the spouses failed to comply with their obligation.4Thus, on October 13, 1994, petitioner filed a complaint for collection of a sum of money and damages against respondent and his wife before the Regional Trial Court of Valenzuela, Branch 172, docketed as Civil Case No. 4490-V-94. In the complaint, petitioner asked for the payment of the US$25,000.00 or P625,000.00, its equivalent in Philippine currency plus legal interest from date of extra-judicial demand.5Petitioner likewise claimed moral and exemplary damages, attorneys fees and costs of suit from respondent.6 As they were separated in fact for more than a year prior to the filing of the complaint, respondent and his wife filed separate answers. Maria Theresa Carlos-Abelardo admitted securing a loan together with her husband, from petitioner. 7She claimed, however, that said loan was payable on a staggered basis so she was surprised when petitioner demanded immediate payment of the full amount.8 In his separate Answer, respondent admitted receiving the amount of US$25,000.00 but claimed that: xxx a. Defendant (respondent) xxx revived that otherwise dormant construction firm H.L. CARLOS CONSTRUCTION of herein plaintiff which suffered tremendous setback after the assassination of Senator Benigno Aquino; b. Working day and night and almost beyond human endurance, defendant devoted all his efforts and skill, used all his business and personal connection to be able to revive the construction business of plaintiff;

c. Little-by-little, starting with small construction business, defendant was able to obtain various construction jobs using the name H.L. CARLOS CONSTRUCTION and the income derived therefrom were deposited in the name of such firm of plaintiff, d. Defendant xxx was made to believe that the earnings derived from such construction will be for him and his family since he was the one working to secure the contract and its completion, he was allowed to use the facilities of the plaintiff; e. The plaintiff seeing the progress brought about by defendant xxx to his company proposed a profit sharing scheme to the effect that all projects amounting to more than P10 million shall be for the account of plaintiff; lower amount shall be for defendants account but still using H.L. CARLOS CONSTRUCTION. f. But, to clear account on previous construction contracts that brought income to H.L.CARLOS CONSTRUCTION, out of which defendant derived his income, plaintiff gave the amount of US$25,000.00 to defendant to square off account and to start the arrangement in paragraph (e) supra; g. That, the said US$25,000.00 was never intended as loan of defendant. It was his share of income on contracts obtained by defendant; xxx 9 Respondent denied having made death threats to petitioner and by way of compulsory counterclaim, he asked for moral damages from petitioner for causing the alienation of his wifes love and affection, attorneys fees and costs of su it.10 On June 26, 1996, the Regional Trial Court rendered a decision in favor of petitioner, the dispositive portion of which reads: WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered as follows: 1. Ordering the defendants to pay plaintiff the amount of US$25,000.00 or its equivalent in Philippine Currency at the time of its payment, plus legal interest thereon from August 24, 1994 until fully paid; 2. Ordering the defendant Manuel T. Abelardo to pay the plaintiff the amount of P500,000.00 representing moral damages and the further amount of P50,000.00 as exemplary damages; and 3. Ordering the defendants to pay the plaintiff the amount of P100,000.00 as attorneys fees, plus the costs of suit. SO ORDERED.11 Respondent appealed the decision of the trial court to the Court of Appeals. On November 10, 2000, the Court of Appeals reversed and set aside the trial courts decision and dismissed the complaint for insufficiency of evidence to show that the subject a mount was indeed loaned by petitioner to respondent and his wife. The Court of Appeals found that the amount of US$25,000.00 was respondents share in the profits of H.L. Carlos Construction. The dispositive portion of the Court of Appeals decision stat es: WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Decision of the Regional Trial Court of Valenzuela, Branch 172 in Civil Case No. 4490-V-94 is hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE and a new one entered DISMISSING the Complaint for insufficiency of evidence. The claim for damages by defendant-appellant is likewise DISMISSED, also for insufficiency of evidence, because of his failure to present substantial evidence to prove that plaintiff-appellee caused the defendant-spouses separation. Costs against the plaintiff-appellee. SO ORDERED.12 A motion for reconsideration of the above decision having been denied on, petitioner brought this appeal assigning the following errors:

THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN FINDING INSUFFICIENT EVIDENCE TO PROVE THAT THE AMOUNT OF US$25,000.00 WAS A LOAN OBTAINED BY PRIVATE RESPONDENT AND HIS WIFE FROM PETITIONER. THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN HOLDING THAT THE US$25,000.00 WAS GIVEN AS PRIVATE RESPONDENTS SHARE IN THE PROFITS OF H.L. CARLOS CONSTRUCTION, INC. AND THAT THE FILING OF THE COMPLAINT IS A HOAX. THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN NULLIFYING THE AWARD OF DAMAGES FOR LACK OF PROOF THEREOF. We find merit in the petition. As gleaned from the records, the following facts are undisputed: (1) there was a check in the amount of US$25,000.00 issued by petitioner; (2) this amount was received by respondent and his wife and given to a certain Pura Vallejo for the full payment of a house and lot located at #19952 Chestnut Street, Executive Heights Village, Paranaque, Metro Manila; (3) this house and lot became the conjugal dwelling of respondent and his wife; and (4) respondents wife executed an instrument acknowledging the loan but which respondent did not sign. To prove his claim that the amount was in the nature of a loan or an advance he extended to respondent and his wife, petitioner presented Bankers Trust Check No. 337 in the amount of US$25,000.00 he issued on October 31, 1989 to Pura Vallejo. 13 He also introduced in evidence an instrument executed by respondents wife on July 31, 1991 acknowledging her and her husbands accountability to petitioner for the said amount which was advanced in payment of a house and lot located at #19952 Chestnut Street, Executive Heights Subdivision, Paranaque.14 A formal demand letter by counsel for petitioner dated August 24, 1994 sent to and received by respondent was also on record. 15 All these pieces of evidence, taken together with respondents admission that he and his wife received the subject amount and used the same to purchase their house and lot, sufficiently prove by a preponderance of evidence petitioners claim that the amount of US$25,000.00 was really in the nature of a loan. Respondent tried to rebut petitioners evidence by claiming that the US$25,000.00 was not a loan but his share in the p rofits of H.L. Carlos Construction. He alleged that he received money from petitioner amounting to almost P3 million as his share in the profits of the corporation. To prove this, he presented ten (10) Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) checks allegedly given to him by petitioner.16He argued that if indeed, he and his wife were indebted to petitioner, the latter could have easily deducted the amount of the said loan from his share of the profits. Respondent fails to convince this Court. All the checks presented by respondent, which he claims to be his share in the profits of petitioners company, were all in t he account of H.L. Carlos Construction.17 On the other hand, the Bankers Trust Check in the amount of US$25,000.00 was drawn from the personal account of petitioner.18Assuming to be true that the checks presented by respondent were his profits from the corporation, then all the more does this prove that the amount of US$25,000.00 was not part of such profits because it was issued by petitioner from his own account. Indeed, if such amount was respondents share of the profits, then the same should have b een issued under the account of H.L. Carlos Construction. Moreover, respondent failed to substantiate his claim that he is entitled to the profits and income of the corporation. There was no showing that respondent was a stockholder of H.L. Carlos Construction. His name does not appear in the Articles of Incorporation as well as the Organizational Profile of said company either as stockholder or officer.19 Not being a stockholder, he cannot be entitled to the profits or income of said corporation. Neither did respondent prove that he was an employee or an agent so as to be entitled to salaries or commissions from the corporation. We quote with favor the disquisition of the trial court on this point: Early in time, it must be noted that payment of personal debts contracted by the husband or the wife before or during the marriage shall not be charged to the conjugal partnership except insofar as they redounded to the benefit of the family. The defendants never denied that the check of US$25,000.00 was used to purchase the subject house and lot. They do not deny that the same served as their conjugal home, thus benefiting the family. On the same principle, acknowledgment of the loan made by the defendant-wife binds the conjugal partnership since its proceeds redounded to the benefit of the family. Hence, defendant-husband and defendant-wife are jointly and severally liable in the payment of the loan.

Defendant-husband cannot allege as a defense that the amount of US $25,000.00 was received as his share in the income or profits of the corporation and not as a loan. Firstly, defendant-husband does not appear to be a stockholder nor an employee nor an agent of the corporation, H. L. Carlos Construction, Inc. Since he is not a stockholder, he has no right to participate in the income or profits thereof. In the same manner that as he is not an employee nor an agent of H. L. Carlos Construction, Inc., he has no right to receive any salary or commission therefrom. Secondly, the amount advanced for the purchase of the house and lot came from the personal account of the plaintiff. If, indeed, it was to be construed as defendant-husbands share in the profits of the corporation, the checks should come from the corporations account and not from the plaintiffs personal account, considering that the c orporation has a personality separate and distinct from that of its stockholders and officers.1wphi1.nt Even granting that the checks amount to US $3,000.000.00 given by the plaintiff to the defendant-spouses was their share in the profits of the corporation, still there is no sufficient evidence to establish that the US $25,000.00 is to be treated similarly. Defendant-husband in invoking the defense of compensation argued that if indeed they were indebted to the plaintiff, the latter could have applied their share in the proceeds or income of the corporation to the concurrent amount of the alleged loan, instead of giving the amount of P3,000,000.00 to them. This argument is untenable. Article 1278 of the Civil Code provides that compensation shall take place when two persons, in their own right, are debtors and creditors of each other. As its indicates, compensation is a sort of balancing between two obligations. In the instant case, the plaintiff and the defendant-husband are not debtors and creditors of each other. Even granting that the defendant-husbands claim to the profits of the corporation is justified, still compensation cannot extinguish his loan obligation to the plaintiff because under such assumption, the defendant is dealing with the corporation and not with the plaintiff in his personal capacity. Hence, compensation cannot take place. The Court of Appeals, thus, erred in finding that respondents liability was not proved by preponderance of evidence. On the contrary, the evidence adduced by petitioner sufficiently established his claim that the US$25,000.00 he advanced to respondent and his wife was a loan. The loan is the liability of the conjugal partnership pursuant to Article 121 of the Family Code: Article 121. The conjugal partnership shall be liable for: xxx (2) All debts and obligations contracted during the marriage by the designated administrator-spouse for the benefit of the conjugal partnership of gains, or by both spouses or by one of them with the consent of the other; (3) Debts and obligations contracted by either spouse without the consent of the other to the extent that the family may have been benefited; If the conjugal partnership is insufficient to cover the foregoing liabilities, the spouses shall be solidarily liable for the unpaid balance with their separate properties. xxx While respondent did not and refused to sign the acknowledgment executed and signed by his wife, undoubtedly, the loan redounded to the benefit of the family because it was used to purchase the house and lot which became the conjugal home of respondent and his family. Hence, notwithstanding the alleged lack of consent of respondent, under Art. 21 of the Family Code, he shall be solidarily liable for such loan together with his wife. We also find sufficient basis for the award of damages to petitioner, contrary to the findings of the Court of Appeals that petitioner is not entitled thereto. Petitioners allegations of verbal and written threats directed against him by respondent is duly supported by evidence on re cord. He presented two witnesses, Irineo Pajarin and Randy Rosal, who testified on separate incidents where threats were made by respondent against petitioner. Randy Rosal, driver of petitioner, declared that around three o clock in the afternoon of September 15, 1991, he was sent by respondents wife on an errand to deliver the acknowledgment letter to respondent for him to sign. Respondent did not sign the acknowledgment and instead, wrote a letter addressed to petitioner threatening him. He narrated what took place thereafter:

xxx Q When you were requested by Ma. Theresa C. Abelardo to bring a letter to herein defendant Manuel Abelardo for him to sign the same, do you know whether that letter was actually signed by Manuel Abelardo? A No, sir. xxx Q A And what happened when Manuel Abelardo refused to sign that letter coming from the other defendant? He made me wait and he prepared a letter to Mr. Honorio Carlos, sir. xxx Q A Q A Q A Q A Where were you at the time when this defendant Manuel Abelardo prepared this letter? In his house, sir. And where did he actually prepare that letter? At the dining table, sir. How far were you from Manuel Abelardo from the dining table at the time when he was preparing a letter. Around 1 meter, sir. And do you know where in, what particular paper did Mr. Abelardo prepare or write this letter? He wrote it in a Manila envelope, sir. xxx Q A What happened after Manuel Abelardo prepared this letter in a Manila envelope? He got a small envelope and placed there the name of Mr. Carlos as the addressee, sir. xxx Q After preparing this letter on a Manila envelope and then getting another envelope and writing on it the address of herein plaintiff, what did the defendant Manuel Abelardo do, if any? A He instructed me to mail the letter which he prepared, sir. xxx Q And did you actually accede to the request of herein defendant Manuel Abelardo for you to mail that letter to Engr. Carlos? A I got the envelope but I did not mail it, sir. xxx Q May we know from you the reason why you did not mail said letter?

A Q A

Because Engr. Carlos might become frightened, sir. What did you do with that letter, although you did not mail it? I kept it, sir. xxx

Q A Q A

And what did you do next after keeping the letter for several days? I gave the letter personally to Engr. Carlos, sir. What prompted you to give that letter to Engr. Carlos instead of mailing it? So that Engr. Carlos can prepare, sir. x x x20

This incident was duly entered and recorded in the Police Blotter on October 7, 1991 by a certain Sgt. Casile of the Valenzuela Police Station.21 A photocopy of this written threat was also attached to the Police Report and presented in evidence. 22 Another witness, Irineo Pajarin, recounted an incident which occurred in the afternoon of May 25, 1994, to wit: xxx Q Now Mr. Witness, on May 25, 1994 at around 2:30 in the afternoon do you recall where you were on that particular date and time? A Q A I was at B.F. Homes, Paranaque, sir. What were you doing at that time? I was waiting for Sargie Cornista, sir. xxx Q Will you please narrate to this Honorable Court that unusual incident?

A Manuel Abelardo passed by and when he saw me he called me. I approached him while he was then on board his car and asked me who was my companion, sir. Q A Q A Q A And what was your answer to him? I told him it was Sargie, sir. And what was his reply if any? He again asked me if I have in my company one of his children, sir. What was your reply? I answered none, sir.

Q Incidentally Mr. Witness, where or in what particular place did this conversation between you and Manuel T. Abelardo take place?

A Q

Parking Area of Academy I, Gov. Santos corner Aguirre St., sir. Now, what else happened after you talk[ed] with this Manuel T. Abelardo?

A He said I may be fooling him because he said I once fooled him when I ran away with his children which he is going to take back, sir. Q A Q A Q A Q A Q A Q A Q A Q A And what was your reply to that? I answered I did not do that and he said that once he discovered that I did it he would box me, sir. What else if any did he tell you at that time? He asked me who instructed me, sir. Instructed you about what? To run away with the children, sir. And what was your reply? None, he was the one who said "was it your Ate Puppet?" But I did not answer, sir. What happened next when you failed to answer? "Or my father in law?" And when he said his father in law to whom was he referring at that time? Mr. Honorio Carlos, sir. After mentioning the name of his father-in-law Mr. Honorio Carlos what happened next? He told me "Sabihin mo sa biyenan ko babarilin ko siya pag nakita ko siya." Where was Manuel Abelardo at that particular time when he told this threatening remark against Honorio Carlos? He was inside his car in Aguirre St., sir.

Q How about you where were you approximately at that particular time when he narrated that message to you threatening the herein plaintiff? A I was outside looking in his vehicle at Aguirre St., sir. xxx Q A And what was your reply or reaction when he made this threatening remarks? None, because he left. I was left behind, sir.23

This testimony was in part corroborated by an entry dated May 28, 1994 in the Police Blotter of the Paranaque Police Station narrating the aforementioned incident.24 The testimonies of these witnesses on the two separate incidents of threat are positive, direct and straightforward. Petitioner also declared on the witness stand that on several occasions, he received telephone calls from respondent cursing and threatening

him.25These incidents of threat were also evidenced by a letter written by respondents wife and addressed to her father -in-law (father of respondent).26The letter recounted the instances when threats were made by her husband against petitioner, particularly, the incident reported by Pajarin and the threats made by respondent through the telephone.27 All these circumstances sufficiently establish that threats were directed by respondent against petitioner justifying the award of moral damages in favor of petitioner. However, the Court finds the amount of P500,000.00 as moral damages too exorbitant under the circumstances and the same is reduced to P50,000.00. The exemplary damages and attorneys fees are likewise reduced to P20,000.00 and P50,000.00, respectively. WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby GRANTED and the decision of the Court of Appeals in CA GR-CV No. 54464 is MODIFIED in that respondent is ordered to pay petitioner the amounts of (1) US$25,000 or its equivalent in Philippine currency at the time of payment, plus legal interest from August 4, 1994, until fully paid; (2) P50,000.00 as moral damages; (3) P20,000.00 as exemplary damages; and (4) P50,000.00 as attorneys fees.1wphi1.nt SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 146294

July 31, 2006

JOHN ABING, petitioner, vs. JULIET WAEYAN, respondent. DECISION GARCIA, J.: In this appeal by way of a petition for review under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, petitioner John Abing (John, hereafter) seeks to set aside the Decision1 dated October 24, 2000 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No. 48675, reversing that of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Benguet, Branch 64, which affirmed an earlier decision of the Municipal Trial Court (MTC) of Mankayan, Benguet in an ejectment suit thereat commenced by the petitioner against the respondent. In the main, the controversy is between a man and a woman who, during the good old days, lived together as husband and wife without the benefit of marriage. During their cohabitation, they acquired properties. Later, they parted ways, and with it this litigation between them involving one of their common properties. The facts: Sometime in 1986, John and respondent Juliet Waeyan (Juliet, for short) met and fell in love with each other. In time, the duo cohabited as husband and wife without the benefit of marriage. Together, the couple bought a 2-storey residential house from one Benjamin Macua which was erected on a lot owned by a certain Alejandro Dio on Aurora Street, Mankayan, Benguet. Consequent to the purchase, the tax declaration of the 2-storey house was transferred in the name of Juliet. On December 2, 1991, Juliet left for overseas employment in Korea. She would send money to John who deposited the same in their joint bank account. In 1992, the original 2-storey residential house underwent renovation. To it was annexed a new structure which housed a sari-sari store. This new structure and the sari-sari store thereat are the properties involved in this case. In 1994, Juliet returned from Korea and continued to live with John. She managed the sari-sari store while John worked as a mine employee of the Lepanto Consolidated Mining, Inc. In 1995, the relationship between the two turned from bad to worse. Hence, they decided to partition their properties. For the purpose, they executed on October 7, 1995 a Memorandum of Agreement. Unfortunately, the document was left unsigned by the

parties although signed by the witnesses thereto. Under their unsigned agreement, John shall leave the couples' dwelling with Juliet paying him the amount of P428,870.00 representing John's share in all their properties. On the same date October 7, 1995 Juliet paid John the sum of P232,397.66 by way of partial payment of his share, with the balance of P196,472.34 to be paid by Juliet in twelve monthly installment beginning November 1995. Juliet, however, failed to make good the balance. On account thereof, John demanded of her to vacate the annex structure housing the sari-sari store. Juliet refused, prompting John to file an ejectment suit against her before the MTC of Mankayan, Benguet. In his complaint, John alleged that he alone spent for the construction of the annex structure with his own funds and thru money he borrowed from his relatives. In fact, he added that the tax declaration for the structure was under his name. On this premise, John claimed exclusive ownership of the subject structure, which thereby gave him the right to eject Juliet therefrom upon the latter's failure to pay the agreed balance due him under the aforementioned Memorandum of Agreement. In her answer, Juliet countered that their original house was renovated thru their common funds and that the subject structure annexed thereto was merely an attachment or an extension of their original residential house, hence the same pertained to the two of them in common. In a decision2 dated March 15, 1997, the MTC, on its finding that the money used in the construction of the structure in question solely came from John, ruled that the same exclusively pertained to the latter, and accordingly ordered Juliet's eviction therefrom, including the sari-sari store thereat, and required her to surrender possession thereof to John, thus: WHEREFORE, judgment is rendered in favor of the plaintiff (John) and against the defendant (Juliet). Defendant is hereby ordered to vacate the premises of the store in litigation covered by Tax Declaration No. 96-00100445 in the name of the Plaintiff and turn over possession thereof to the latter. Defendant is hereby further ordered to pay the Plaintiff the sum of P2,500.00 a month from the time she withheld possession of the store in litigation in June 1996 until she vacates the same and turn over possession thereof to the Plaintiff. Defendant is finally ordered, to pay the sum of P5,000.00 to the Plaintiff by way of Attorney's fees; and to pay the costs. SO ORDERED. On Juliet's appeal to the RTC, the latter, in its decision of July 29, 1995, affirmed that of the MTC. Undaunted, Juliet then went to the CA in CA-G.R. SP No. 48675. As stated at the threshold hereof, the CA, in its Decision of October 24, 2000, 3 reversed that of the RTC, to wit: WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The assailed decision of the Regional Trial Court is hereby reversed and set aside. Petitioner, Juliet Waeyan is entitled to possess the property and maintain therein her business. SO ORDERED. Partly says the CA in its reversal disposition: It is undisputed that the parties lived together as husband and wife without the benefit of marriage from 1986 to 1995 and that they acquired certain properties which must be divided between them upon the termination of their common law relationship. xxx xxx xxx

. . . their property relations cannot be governed by the provision of the Civil Code on conjugal partnership... but by the rule on co-ownership. xxx xxx xxx

. . . the parties' share in respect of the properties they have accumulated during their cohabitation shall be equal unless there is proof to the contrary. To the CA, John's evidence failed to establish that he alone spent for the construction of the annex structure. Hence, the same pertained to both, and being a co-owner herself, Juliet cannot be evicted therefrom, adding that if ever, John's cause of action should have been for a sum of money "because he claims that Juliet still owes him the payment for the extension." According to the CA, ejectment cannot lie against Juliet because Juliet's possession of the premises in dispute was not by virtue of a contract, express or implied, nor did she obtain such possession thru force, intimidation, threat, strategy or stealth. Hence, John's present recourse, submitting that the CA erred in 1. not giving effect to the parties' Memorandum of Agreement which should have been binding between them albeit unsigned by both; 2. in holding that the subject premises (annex structure housing the sari-sari store) is owned by the two of them in common; 3. in ruling that the parties should settle their common properties in a separate action for partition even as the community character of the subject premises has not been proven. We AFFIRM with modification. Essentially, the issues raised center on the core question of whether or not the property subject of the suit pertains to the exclusive ownership of petitioner, John. Departing from the factual findings of the two courts before it, the CA found that the premises in dispute is owned in common by Juliet and John, the latter having failed to establish by the required quantum of proof that the money spent for the construction thereof solely came from him. Being a co-owner of the same structure, Juliet may not be ejected therefrom. While the question raised is essentially one of fact, of which the Court normally eschews from, yet, given the conflicting factual findings of the three courts below, the Court shall go by the exception 4 to the general rule and proceed to make its own assessment of the evidence. First and foremost, it is undisputed that the parties hereto lived together as husband and wife from 1986 to 1995 without the benefit of marriage. Neither is it disputed that sometime in December 1991, Juliet left for Korea and worked thereat, sending money to John which the latter deposited in their joint account. In fact, Juliet was still in Korea when the annex structure was constructed in 1992. Other than John's bare allegation that he alone, thru his own funds and money he borrowed from his relatives, spent for the construction of the annex structure, evidence is wanting to support such naked claim. For sure, John even failed to reveal how much he spent therefor. Neither did he divulge the names of the alleged relatives from whom he made his borrowings, let alone the amount of money he borrowed from them. All that petitioner could offer by way of reinforcing his claim of spending his own funds and borrowed money in putting up the subject structure was the affidavit executed by a certain Manuel Macaraeg to the effect that petitioner borrowed P30,000.00 from him. Even then, Macaraeg stated in his affidavit that it was sometime in 1990 when John borrowed said amount from him. With the petitioner's own admission that the subject structure was constructed only in 1992, or two years after he borrowed P30,000.00 from Macaraeg, it is even doubtful whether the amount he allegedly borrowed from the latter went into the construction of the structure in dispute. More, it is noted that while petitioner was able to present in evidence the Macaraeg affidavit, he failed to introduce similar affidavits, if any, of his close relatives from whom he claimed to have made similar borrowings. For sure, not a single relative came forward to confirm petitioner's tale. In short, there is a paucity of evidence, testimonial or documentary, to support petitioner's self-serving allegation that the annex structure which housed the sari-sari store was put up thru his own funds and/or money borrowed by him. Sure, petitioner has in his favor the tax declaration covering the subject structure. We have, however, ruled time and again that tax declarations do not prove ownership but at best an indicia of claims of ownership.5 Payment of taxes is not proof of ownership, any more than indicating possession in the concept of an owner.6 Neither tax receipts nor declaration of ownership for taxation purposes are evidence of ownership or of the right to possess realty when not supported by other effective proofs. 7 In this connection, Article 147 of the Family Code is instructive. It reads:

Art. 147. When a man and a woman who are capacitated to marry each other, live exclusively with each other as husband and wife without the benefit of marriage or under a void marriage, their wages and salaries shall be owned by them in equal shares and the property acquired by both of them through their work or industry shall be governed by the rules on co-ownership. In the absence of proof to the contrary, properties acquired while they lived together shall be presumed to have been obtained by their joint efforts, work or industry, and shall be owned by them in equal shares. For purposes of this Article, a party who did not participate in the acquisition by other party of any property shall be deemed to have contributed jointly in the acquisition thereof if the former's efforts consisted in the care and maintenance of the family and of the household. The law is clear. In the absence, as here, of proofs to the contrary, any property acquired by common-law spouses during their period of cohabitation is presumed to have been obtained thru their joint efforts and is owned by them in equal shares. Their property relationship is governed by the rules on co-ownership. And under this regime, they owned their properties in common "in equal shares." Being herself a co-owner of the structure in question, Juliet, as correctly ruled by the CA, may not be ejected therefrom. True it is that under Article 4878 of the Civil Code, a co-owner may bring an action for ejectment against a co-owner who takes exclusive possession and asserts exclusive ownership of a common property. It bears stressing, however, that in this case, evidence is totally wanting to establish John's or Juliet's exclusive ownership of the property in question. Neither did Juliet obtain possession thereof by virtue of a contract, express or implied, or thru intimidation, threat, strategy or stealth. As borne by the record, Juliet was in possession of the subject structure and the sari-sari store thereat by virtue of her being a co-owner thereof. As such, she is as much entitled to enjoy its possession and ownership as John. We, however, disagree with the ruling of the CA that the subject Memorandum of Agreement, being unsigned by Juliet and John, has no binding effect between them. It is a matter of record that pursuant to said Agreement, Juliet did pay John the amount of P232,397.66, as initial payment for John's share in their common properties, with the balance of P196,472.34 payable in twelve monthly installments beginning November 1995. It is also a matter of record that the Agreement was signed by the witnesses thereto. Hence, the irrelevant circumstances that the Agreement was left unsigned by Juliet and John cannot adversely affect its binding force or effect between them, as evidently, Juliet's initial payment of P232,397.66 to John was in fulfillment of what the parties had agreed upon thereunder. However, and as correctly held by the CA, Juliet's failure to pay John the balance of the latter's share in their common properties could at best give rise to an action for a sum of money against Juliet, or for rescission of the said agreement and not for ejectment. WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED and the assailed CA Decision is AFFIRMED, except that portion thereof denying effect to the parties' Memorandum of Agreement for being unsigned by both. Costs against petitioner. SO ORDERED.