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FIRST DIVISION

[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 certiorari[1] 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, Procopio 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. 1731 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 declaration 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 attorneys 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. 152[2] 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
Pacitas 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 without
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 their
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
bound by their counsels choice. Other than arguing 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 properties[16] 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 105[18] 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 declarations[23] 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-9602[27] 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. The
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 presumed 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.

Davide, Jr., C.J. (Chairman), Panganiban, Ynares-Santiago, and Azcuna, JJ., concur.
FIRST DIVISION
[G.R. No. 154645. July 13, 2004]
MILAGROS JOAQUINO a.k.a. MILAGROS J. REYES, petitioner, vs. LOURDES REYES, MERCEDES, MANUEL, MIRIAM
and RODOLFO JR. -- all surnamed REYES, respondents.
DECISION
PANGANIBAN, J.:
Though registered in the paramours name, property acquired with the salaries and earnings of a husband belongs to his
conjugal partnership with the legal spouse. The filiation of the paramours children must be settled in a probate or special
proceeding instituted for the purpose, not in an action for recovery of property.
The Case
Before the Court is a Petition for Review[1] under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, seeking to nullify the February 4, 2002
Decision[2] and the August 14, 2002 Resolution[3] of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-GR CV No. 45883. The CA disposed
as follows:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the appeal is hereby partially DENIED and the Decision dated May 30, 1994, of the
Regional Trial Court of Pasay City, Branch 111 in Civil Case No. 9722-P is MODIFIED to read, as follows:
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered in favor of plaintiffs and against the defendant as follows:
a. Declaring the house and lot registered under Transfer Certificate of Title No. 90293 (26627-A) of the Registry of Deeds of
Metro Manila, District IV as conjugal partnership property of the late Spouses Rodolfo and Lourdes Reyes;
b. Ordering the [petitioner] to surrender possession of said subject property, pursuant to the applicable law on succession, to
the respective estates of the late Rodolfo Reyes and Lourdes Reyes and to pay a reasonable rental of P10,000.00 a month,
to the same juridical entities, upon their failure to do so until possession of the property is delivered; and
c. To pay [respondents] attorneys fees in the sum of P20,000.00 and to pay the costs.[4]
The questioned Resolution, on the other hand, denied petitioners Motion for Reconsideration.
The Facts
The CA narrated the facts as follows:
[Respondents] filed a Complaint for reconveyance and damages, dated January 23, 1982, before the Court of First Instance
of Rizal, containing the following allegations:
x x x The complaint alleges that [respondent] Lourdes P. Reyes is the widow of Rodolfo A. Reyes who died on September
12, 1981; that [respondents] Mercedes, Manuel, Miriam and Rodolfo, Jr. are the legitimate children of [respondent] Lourdes
P. Reyes and the deceased Rodolfo A. Reyes; that for years before his death, Rodolfo A. Reyes had illicit relations with
[petitioner] Milagros B. Joaquino; that before his death, x x x Rodolfo A. Reyes was Vice President and Comptroller of
Warner Barnes and Company with an income of P15,000.00 a month and, after retirement on September 30, 1980, received
from said company benefits and emoluments in the amount of P315,0[1]1.79; that [respondent] wife was not the recipient of
any portion of the said amount.
The complaint further alleges that on July 12, 1979, a [D]eed of [S]ale of a property consisting of a house and lot at BF
Homes, Paraaque, Metro Manila was executed by the spouses Ramiro Golez and Corazon Golez in favor of [petitioner]
Milagros B. Joaquino for which Transfer Certificate of Title No. 90293 of the Register of Deeds of Metro Manila, District IV
was issued in the name of [petitioner] Milagros B. Joaquino; that the funds used to purchase this property were conjugal
funds and earnings of the deceased Rodolfo A. Reyes as executive of Warner Barnes and Company as [petitioner] Joaquino
was without the means to pay for the same; that [petitioner] executed a Special Power of Attorney in favor of Rodolfo A.
Reyes to mortgage the property to Commonwealth Insurance Corporation in order to pay the balance of the purchase price;
that said Rodolfo A. Reyes executed a mortgage in favor of Commonwealth Insurance Corporation for P140,000.00 and to
guaranty payment thereof, he secured a life insurance [policy] with Philam Life Insurance Corporation for the said amount,
assigning the proceeds thereof to Commonwealth Insurance Corporation; that the monthly amortizations of the mortgage
were paid by said Rodolfo A. Reyes before his death and at the time of his death, the outstanding balance of P110,000.00
was to be paid out of his Philam Life Insurance [p]olicy.

The complaint finally alleges that the deceased had two cars in [petitioners] possession and that the real and personal
properties in [petitioners] possession are conjugal partnership propert[ies] of the spouses Lourdes P. Reyes and Rodolfo A.
Reyes and one-half belongs exclusively to [respondent] Lourdes P. Reyes and the other half to the estate of Rodolfo A.
Reyes to be apportioned among the [other respondents] as his forced heirs. [Respondents] therefore, pray that the property
covered by T.C.T. No. 90293 be declared conjugal property of the spouses Lourdes P. Reyes and Rodolfo A. Reyes and that
[petitioner] be ordered to reconvey the property in [respondents] favor; that the two cars in [petitioners] possession be
delivered to [respondents] and that [petitioner] be made to pay actual, compensatory and moral damages to [respondents]
as well as attorneys fees.
xxxxxxxxx
[Petitioner] eventually filed her Answer, dated August 1, 1982, the allegations of which have been summarized by the trial
court in the following manner:
In her Answer, [petitioner] Milagros B. Joaquino alleges that she purchased the real property in question with her own
exclusive funds and it was only for convenience that the late Rodolfo Reyes facilitated the mortgage over the same; that
although the late Rodolfo Reyes paid the monthly amortization of the mortgage as attorney-in-fact of [petitioner], the money
came exclusively from [her].
[Petitioner] further alleges in her answer, by way of special and affirmative defenses, that during all the nineteen (19) years
that [she] lived with Rodolfo Reyes from 1962 continuously up to September 12, 1981 when the latter died, [petitioner] never
had knowledge whatsoever that he was married to someone else, much less to [respondent] Lourdes P. Reyes; that
[petitioner] was never the beneficiary of the emoluments or other pecuniary benefits of the late Rodolfo Reyes during his
lifetime or after his death because [she] had the financial capacity to support herself and her children begotten with the late
Rodolfo Reyes. [Petitioner] prays for a judgment dismissing [respondents] complaint and for the latter to pay unto [petitioner]
moral and exemplary damages in such amounts as may be determined during the trial, including atto[r]neys fees and the
costs of the suit. x x x.
xxxxxxxxx
On February 2, 1993, [respondent] Lourdes Reyes died.
Subsequently, the trial court granted the complaint based on the following factual findings:
Lourdes Reyes was legally married to Rodolfo Reyes on January 3, 1947 in Manila. They have four children, namely:
Mercedes, Manuel, Miriam and Rodolfo Jr., all surnamed Reyes and co-[respondents] in this case. Rodolfo Reyes died on
September 12, 1981. At the time of his death, Rodolfo Reyes was living with his common-law wife, Milagros Joaquino, x x x
with whom she begot three (3) children namely: Jose Romillo, Imelda May and Charina, all surnamed Reyes.
During his lifetime, Rodolfo Reyes worked with Marsman and Company and later transferred to Warner Barnes & Co., where
he assumed the position of Vice-President [Comptroller] until he retired on September 30, 1980. His monthly salary at
Warner Barnes & Co. was P15,000.00 x x x and upon his separation or retirement from said company, Rodolfo Reyes
received a lump sum of P315,011.79 in full payment and settlement of his separation and retirement benefits.
During the common-law relationship of Rodolfo Reyes and [petitioner] Milagros Joaquino and while living together, they
decided to buy the house and lot situated at No. 12 Baghdad Street, Phase 3, BF Homes, Paraaque, Metro Manila. A Deed
of Absolute Sale dated July 12, 1979 was executed in favor of [petitioner] Milagros Joaquino and Transfer Certificate of Title
No. S-90293 covering the said property was issued in the name of [petitioner only] on July 20, 1979.
To secure the finances with which to pay the purchase price of the property in the amount of P140,000.00, [petitioner]
executed on July 20, 1979, a Special Power of Attorney in favor of Rodolfo A. Reyes for the latter, as attorney-in-fact, to
secure a loan from the Commonwealth Insurance Company. An application for mortgage loan was filed by Rodolfo Reyes
with the Commonwealth Insurance Company and a Real Estate Mortgage Contract was executed as collateral to the
mortgage loan. The loan was payable in ten (10) years with a monthly amortization of P1,166.67. The monthly amortizations
were paid by Rodolfo Reyes and after his death, the balance of P109,797.64 was paid in full to the Commonwealth
Insurance by the Philam Life Insurance Co. as insurer of the deceased Rodolfo A. Reyes.[5]
On appeal to the CA, petitioner questioned the following findings of the trial court: 1) that the house and lot had been paid in
full from the proceeds of the loan that Rodolfo Reyes obtained from the Commonwealth Insurance Company; 2) that his
salaries and earnings, which were his and Lourdes conjugal funds, paid for the loan and, hence, the disputed property was
conjugal; and 3) that petitioners illegitimate children, not having been recognized or acknowledged by him in any of the ways
provided by law, acquired no successional rights to his estate.
Ruling of the Court of Appeals

Affirming the RTC, the CA held that the property had been paid out of the conjugal funds of Rodolfo and Lourdes because
the monthly amortizations for the loan, as well as the premiums for the life insurance policy that paid for the balance thereof,
came from his salaries and earnings. Like the trial court, it found no sufficient proof that petitioner was financially capable of
buying the disputed property, or that she had actually contributed her own exclusive funds to pay for it. Hence, it ordered her
to surrender possession of the property to the respective estates of the spouses.
The appellate court, however, held that the trial court should not have resolved the issue of the filiation and the successional
rights of petitioners children. Such issues, it said, were not properly cognizable in an ordinary civil action for reconveyance
and damages and were better ventilated in a probate or special proceeding instituted for the purpose.
Hence, this Petition.[6]
Issues
Petitioner submits the following issues for the Courts consideration:
I.
Whether or not it has been indubitably established in a court of law and trier of facts, the Regional Trial Court, that petitioners
three [3] illegitimate children are x x x indeed the children of the late Rodolfo Reyes.
II.
Whether or not it is legally permissible for [respondents] to make a mockery of the law by denying [the] filiations of their [two]
2 illegitimate sisters and one [1] illegitimate brother when in fact the very complaint filed by their mother, the lawful wife,
Lourdes[,] shows that her husband Rodolfo had illicit relations with the petitioner Milagros and had lived with her in a house
and lot at Baghdad Street.
III.
Whether or not the fact that the Court of Appeals made a finding that the house and lot at Baghdad Street are conjugal
property of lawfully wedded Rodolfo and Lourdes including the insurance proceeds which was used to pay the final bill for
the house and lot, this will prevail over Articles 19 and 21 of the Civil Code.
IV.
Whether or not the Supreme Court should enforce the rule that the parties to a lawsuit should only tell the truth at the trial
and in [their] pleadings x x x.
V.
Whether or not the legitimate children of the late Rodolfo Reyes should respect their fathers desire that his illegitimate
children should have a home or a roof over their heads in consonance with his duty to love, care and provide for his children
even after his death.[7]
The issues boil down to the following: 1) the nature of the house and lot on Baghdad Street (BF Homes Paraaque, Metro
Manila); and 2) the propriety of ruling on the filiation and the successional rights of petitioners children.
The Courts Ruling
The Petition is devoid of merit.
First Issue:
The Conjugal Nature of the Disputed Property
Before tackling the merits, we must first point out some undisputed facts and guiding principles.
As to the facts, it is undisputed that the deceased Rodolfo Reyes was legally married to Respondent Lourdes Reyes on
January 3, 1947.[8] It is also admitted that for 19 years or so, and while their marriage was subsisting, he was actually living
with petitioner. It was during this time, in 1979, that the disputed house and lot was purchased and registered in petitioners
name.

Plainly, therefore, the applicable law is the Civil Code of the Philippines. Under Article 145 thereof, a conjugal partnership of
gains (CPG) is created upon marriage[9] and lasts until the legal union is dissolved by death, annulment, legal separation or
judicial separation of property.[10] Conjugal properties are by law owned in common by the husband and wife.[11] As to what
constitutes such properties are laid out in Article 153 of the Code, which we quote:
(1) That which is acquired by onerous title during the marriage at the expense of the common fund, whether the acquisition
be for the partnership, or for only one of the spouses;
(2) That which is obtained by the industry, or work, or as salary of the spouses, or of either of them;
(3) The fruits, rents or interests received or due during the marriage, coming from the common property or from the exclusive
property of each spouse.
Moreover, under Article 160 of the Code, all properties of the marriage, unless proven to pertain to the husband or the wife
exclusively, are presumed to belong to the CPG. For the rebuttable presumption to arise, however, the properties must first
be proven to have been acquired during the existence of the marriage.[12]
The law places the burden of proof[13] on the plaintiffs (respondents herein) to establish their claim by a preponderance of
evidence[14] -- evidence that has greater weight or is more convincing than that which is offered to oppose it.[15]
On the other hand, Article 144[16] of the Civil Code mandates a co-ownership between a man and a woman who are living
together but are not legally married. Prevailing jurisprudence holds, though, that for Article 144 to apply, the couple must not
be incapacitated to contract marriage.[17] It has been held that the Article is inapplicable to common-law relations amounting
to adultery or concubinage, as in this case. The reason therefor is the absurdity of creating a co-ownership in cases in which
there exists a prior conjugal partnership between the man and his lawful wife.[18]
In default of Article 144 of the Civil Code, Article 148 of the Family Code has been applied.[19] The latter Article provides:
Art. 148. In cases of cohabitation not falling under the preceding Article, only the properties acquired by both of the parties
through their actual joint contribution of money, property, or industry shall be owned by them in common in proportion to their
respective contributions. In the absence of proof to the contrary, their contributions and corresponding shares are presumed
to be equal. The same rule and presumption shall apply to joint deposits of money and evidence of credit.
If one of the parties is validly married to another, his or her share in the co-ownership shall accrue to the absolute community
or conjugal partnership existing in such valid marriage. If the party which acted in bad faith is not validly married to another,
his or her share shall be forfeited in the manner provided in the last paragraph of the preceding Article.
The foregoing rules on forfeiture shall likewise apply even if both parties are in bad faith.
Thus, when a common-law couple have a legal impediment to marriage, only the property acquired by them -- through their
actual joint contribution of money, property or industry -- shall be owned by them in common and in proportion to their
respective contributions.
With these facts and principles firmly settled, we now proceed to the merits of the first issue.
The present controversy hinges on the source of the funds paid for the house and lot in question. Upon the resolution of this
issue depends the determination of whether the property is conjugal (owned by Rodolfo and Lourdes) or exclusive (owned
by Milagros) or co-owned by Rodolfo and Milagros.
The above issue, which is clearly factual, has been passed upon by both the trial and the appellate courts, with similar
results in favor of respondents. Such finding is generally conclusive; it is not the function of this Court to review questions of
fact. [20]
Moreover, it is well-settled that only errors of law and not of facts are reviewable by this Court in cases brought to it from the
Court of Appeals or under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court.[21] This principle applies with greater force herein, because the CA
came up with the same factual findings as those of the RTC.
Even then, heeding petitioners plea, we have gone through the pleadings and the evidence presented by the parties to find
out if there is any circumstance that might warrant a reversal of the factual findings. Unfortunately for petitioner, we have
found none.
Indeed, a preponderance of evidence has duly established that the disputed house and lot was paid by Rodolfo Reyes,
using his salaries and earnings. By substantial evidence, respondents showed the following facts: 1) that Rodolfo was
gainfully employed as comptroller at Warner, Barnes and Co., Inc. until his retirement on September 30, 1980, upon which

10

he received a sizeable retirement package;[22] 2) that at exactly the same time the property was allegedly purchased,[23] he
applied for a mortgage loan[24] -- intended for housing[25] -- from the Commonwealth Insurance Company; 3) that he
secured the loan with a real estate mortgage[26] over the same property; 4) that he paid the monthly amortizations for the
loan[27] as well as the semi-annual premiums[28] for a Philam Life insurance policy, which he was required to take as
additional security; and 5) that with the proceeds of his life insurance policy, the balance of the loan was paid to
Commonwealth by Philam Life Insurance Company.[29]
All told, respondents have shown that the property was bought during the marriage of Rodolfo and Lourdes, a fact that gives
rise to the presumption that it is conjugal. More important, they have established that the proceeds of the loan obtained by
Rodolfo were used to pay for the property; and that the loan was, in turn, paid from his salaries and earnings, which were
conjugal funds under the Civil Code.
In contrast, petitioner has failed to substantiate either of her claims -- that she was financially capable of buying the house
and lot, or that she actually contributed to the payments therefor.
Indeed, it does not appear that she was gainfully employed at any time after 1961[30] when the property was purchased.
Hearsay are the Affidavits[31] and the undated Certification[32] she had presented to prove that she borrowed money from
her siblings and had earnings from a jewelry business. Respondents had not been given any opportunity to cross-examine
the affiants, who had not testified on these matters. Based on the rules of evidence, the Affidavits and the Certification have
to be rejected. In fact, they have no probative value.[33] The CA was also correct in disregarding petitioners allegation that
part of the purchase money had come from the sale of a drugstore[34] four years earlier.
Under the circumstances, therefore, the purchase and the subsequent registration of the realty in petitioners name was
tantamount to a donation by Rodolfo to Milagros. By express provision of Article 739(1) of the Civil Code, such donation was
void, because it was made between persons who were guilty of adultery or concubinage at the time of the donation.
The prohibition against donations between spouses[35] must likewise apply to donations between persons living together in
illicit relations; otherwise, the latter would be better situated than the former.[36] Article 87 of the Family Code now expressly
provides thus:
Art. 87. Every donation or grant of gratuitous advantage, direct or indirect, between the spouses during the marriage shall be
void, except moderate gifts which the spouses may give each other on the occasion of any family rejoicing. The prohibition
shall also apply to persons living together as husband and wife without a valid marriage. (Italics supplied)
Regarding the registration of the property in petitioners name, it is enough to stress that a certificate of title under the Torrens
system aims to protect dominion; it cannot be used as an instrument for the deprivation of ownership.[37] It has been held
that property is conjugal if acquired in a common-law relationship during the subsistence of a preexisting legal marriage,
even if it is titled in the name of the common-law wife.[38] In this case, a constructive trust is deemed created under Article
1456 of the Civil Code, which we quote:
Art. 1456. If property is acquired through mistake or fraud, the person obtaining it is, by force of law, considered a trustee of
an implied trust for the benefit of the person from whom the property comes.
The registration of the property in petitioners name was clearly designed to deprive Rodolfos legal spouse and compulsory
heirs of ownership. By operation of law, petitioner is deemed to hold the property in trust for them. Therefore, she cannot rely
on the registration in repudiation of the trust, for this case is a well-known exception to the principle of conclusiveness of a
certificate of title.[39]
Second Issue:
Ruling on Illegitimate Filiation
Not Proper
It is petitioners alternative submission that her children are entitled to a share in the disputed property, because they were
voluntarily acknowledged by Rodolfo as his children. Claiming that the issue of her childrens illegitimate filiation was duly
established in the trial court, she faults the CA for ruling that the issue was improper in the instant case.
Her position is untenable.
Indeed, it has been ruled that matters relating to the rights of filiation and heirship must be ventilated in the proper probate
court in a special proceeding instituted precisely for the purpose of determining such rights.[40] Sustaining the appellate
court in Agapay v. Palang,[41] this Court held that the status of an illegitimate child who claimed to be an heir to a decedents
estate could not be adjudicated in an ordinary civil action which, as in this case, was for the recovery of property.

11

Considerations of due process should have likewise deterred the RTC from ruling on the status of petitioners children. It is
evident from the pleadings of the parties that this issue was not presented in either the original[42] or the Supplemental
Complaint[43] for reconveyance of property and damages; that it was not pleaded and specifically prayed for by petitioner in
her Answers[44] thereto; and that it was not traversed by respondents Reply to the Supplemental Complaint.[45] Neither did
petitioners Memorandum,[46] which was submitted to the trial court, raise and discuss this issue. In view thereof, the
illegitimate filiation of her children could not have been duly established by the proceedings as required by Article 887 of the
Civil Code.[47]
In view of the foregoing reasons, the CA cannot be faulted for tackling the propriety of the RTCs ruling on the status of the
children of petitioner, though she did not assign this matter as an error. The general rule -- that only errors assigned may be
passed upon by an appellate court admits of exceptions. Even unassigned errors may be taken up by such court if the
consideration of those errors would be necessary for arriving at a just decision or for serving the interest of justice.[48]
The invocation by petitioner of Articles 19[49] and 21[50] of the Civil Code is also unmeritorious. Clearly, the illegitimate
filiation of her children was not the subject of inquiry and was in fact not duly established in this case. Thus, she could not
have shown that respondents had acted in bad faith or with intent to prejudice her children. These are conditions necessary
to show that an act constitutes an abuse of rights under Article 19.[51] She also failed to show that respondents -- in violation
of the provisions of Article 21 of the Civil Code -- had acted in a manner contrary to morals, good customs or public policy.
Moreover, we note that the issue concerning the applicability of Articles 19 and 21 was not raised by petitioner in the trial
court or even in the CA. Hence, she should not be permitted to raise it now. Basic is the rule that parties may not bring up on
appeal issues that have not been raised on trial.[52]
WHEREFORE, the Petition is hereby DENIED, and the assailed Decision and Resolution of the Court of Appeals
AFFIRMED. Costs against petitioner.
SO ORDERED.

12

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
SECOND DIVISION
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.

13

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. 96-001-00445 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

14

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 exception4 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 coownership.
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

15

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.

16

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
SECOND DIVISION
G.R. No. 160172

February 13, 2008

REINEL ANTHONY B. DE CASTRO, petitioner,


vs.
ANNABELLE ASSIDAO-DE CASTRO, respondent.
DECISION
TINGA, J.:
This is a petition for review of the Decision1 of the Court of Appeals in CA-GR CV. No. 69166,2 declaring that (1) Reianna
Tricia A. De Castro is the legitimate child of the petitioner; and (2) that the marriage between petitioner and respondent is
valid until properly nullified by a competent court in a proceeding instituted for that purpose.
The facts of the case, as culled from the records, follow.
Petitioner and respondent met and became sweethearts in 1991. They planned to get married, thus they applied for a
marriage license with the Office of the Civil Registrar of Pasig City in September 1994. They had their first sexual relation
sometime in October 1994, and had regularly engaged in sex thereafter. When the couple went back to the Office of the Civil
Registrar, the marriage license had already expired. Thus, in order to push through with the plan, in lieu of a marriage
license, they executed an affidavit dated 13 March 1995 stating that they had been living together as husband and wife for at
least five years. The couple got married on the same date, with Judge Jose C. Bernabe, presiding judge of the Metropolitan
Trial Court of Pasig City, administering the civil rites. Nevertheless, after the ceremony, petitioner and respondent went back
to their respective homes and did not live together as husband and wife.
On 13 November 1995, respondent gave birth to a child named Reinna Tricia A. De Castro. Since the childs birth,
respondent has been the one supporting her out of her income as a government dentist and from her private practice.
On 4 June 1998, respondent filed a complaint for support against petitioner before the Regional Trial Court of Pasig City (trial
court.3 In her complaint, respondent alleged that she is married to petitioner and that the latter has "reneged on his
responsibility/obligation to financially support her "as his wife and Reinna Tricia as his child."4
Petitioner denied that he is married to respondent, claiming that their marriage is void ab initio since the marriage was
facilitated by a fake affidavit; and that he was merely prevailed upon by respondent to sign the marriage contract to save her
from embarrassment and possible administrative prosecution due to her pregnant state; and that he was not able to get
parental advice from his parents before he got married. He also averred that they never lived together as husband and wife
and that he has never seen nor acknowledged the child.
In its Decision dated 16 October 2000,5 the trial court ruled that the marriage between petitioner and respondent is not valid
because it was solemnized without a marriage license. However, it declared petitioner as the natural father of the child, and
thus obliged to give her support. Petitioner elevated the case to the Court of Appeals, arguing that the lower court committed
grave abuse of discretion when, on the basis of mere belief and conjecture, it ordered him to provide support to the child
when the latter is not, and could not have been, his own child.
The Court of Appeals denied the appeal. Prompted by the rule that a marriage is presumed to be subsisting until a judicial
declaration of nullity has been made, the appellate court declared that the child was born during the subsistence and validity
of the parties marriage. In addition, the Court of Appeals frowned upon petitioners refusal to undergo DNA testing to prove
the paternity and filiation, as well as his refusal to state with certainty the last time he had carnal knowledge with respondent,
saying that petitioners "forgetfulness should not be used as a vehicle to relieve him of his obligation and reward him of his
being irresponsible."6 Moreover, the Court of Appeals noted the affidavit dated 7 April 1998 executed by petitioner, wherein
he voluntarily admitted that he is the legitimate father of the child.
The appellate court also ruled that since this case is an action for support, it was improper for the trial court to declare the
marriage of petitioner and respondent as null and void in the very same case. There was no participation of the State,
through the prosecuting attorney or fiscal, to see to it that there is no collusion between the parties, as required by the Family
Code in actions for declaration of nullity of a marriage. The burden of proof to show that the marriage is void rests upon
petitioner, but it is a matter that can be raised in an action for declaration of nullity, and not in the instant proceedings. The
proceedings before the trial court should have been limited to the obligation of petitioner to support the child and his wife on

17

the basis of the marriage apparently and voluntarily entered into by petitioner and respondent.7 The dispositive portion of the
decision reads:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Decision dated 16 October 2000, of the Regional Trial Court of Pasig City, National
Capital Judicial Region, Brach 70, in JDRC No. 4626, is AFFIRMED with the MODIFICATIONS (1) declaring Reianna Tricia
A. De Castro, as the legitimate child of the appellant and the appellee and (2) declaring the marriage on 13 March 1995
between the appellant and the appellee valid until properly annulled by a competent court in a proceeding instituted for that
purpose. Costs against the appellant.8
Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration, but the motion was denied by the Court of Appeals.9 Hence this petition.
Before us, petitioner contends that the trial court properly annulled his marriage with respondent because as shown by the
evidence and admissions of the parties, the marriage was celebrated without a marriage license. He stresses that the
affidavit they executed, in lieu of a marriage license, contained a false narration of facts, the truth being that he and
respondent never lived together as husband and wife. The false affidavit should never be allowed or admitted as a substitute
to fill the absence of a marriage license.10 Petitioner additionally argues that there was no need for the appearance of a
prosecuting attorney in this case because it is only an ordinary action for support and not an action for annulment or
declaration of absolute nullity of marriage. In any case, petitioner argues that the trial court had jurisdiction to determine the
invalidity of their marriage since it was validly invoked as an affirmative defense in the instant action for support. Citing
several authorities,11 petitioner claims that a void marriage can be the subject of a collateral attack. Thus, there is no
necessity to institute another independent proceeding for the declaration of nullity of the marriage between the parties. The
refiling of another case for declaration of nullity where the same evidence and parties would be presented would entail
enormous expenses and anxieties, would be time-consuming for the parties, and would increase the burden of the courts.12
Finally, petitioner claims that in view of the nullity of his marriage with respondent and his vigorous denial of the childs
paternity and filiation, the Court of Appeals gravely erred in declaring the child as his legitimate child.
In a resolution dated 16 February 2004, the Court required respondent and the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) to file
their respective comments on the petition.13
In her Comment,14 respondent claims that the instant petition is a mere dilatory tactic to thwart the finality of the decision of
the Court of Appeals. Echoing the findings and rulings of the appellate court, she argues that the legitimacy of their marriage
cannot be attacked collaterally, but can only be repudiated or contested in a direct suit specifically brought for that purpose.
With regard to the filiation of her child, she pointed out that compared to her candid and straightforward testimony, petitioner
was uncertain, if not evasive in answering questions about their sexual encounters. Moreover, she adds that despite the
challenge from her and from the trial court, petitioner strongly objected to being subjected to DNA testing to prove paternity
and filiation.15
For its part, the OSG avers that the Court of Appeals erred in holding that it was improper for the trial court to declare null
and void the marriage of petitioner and respondent in the action for support. Citing the case of Nial v. Bayadog,16 it states
that courts may pass upon the validity of a marriage in an action for support, since the right to support from petitioner hinges
on the existence of a valid marriage. Moreover, the evidence presented during the proceedings in the trial court showed that
the marriage between petitioner and respondent was solemnized without a marriage license, and that their affidavit (of a
man and woman who have lived together and exclusively with each other as husband and wife for at least five years) was
false. Thus, it concludes the trial court correctly held that the marriage between petitioner and respondent is not valid.17 In
addition, the OSG agrees with the findings of the trial court that the child is an illegitimate child of petitioner and thus entitled
to support.18
Two key issues are presented before us. First, whether the trial court had the jurisdiction to determine the validity of the
marriage between petitioner and respondent in an action for support and second, whether the child is the daughter of
petitioner.
Anent the first issue, the Court holds that the trial court had jurisdiction to determine the validity of the marriage between
petitioner and respondent. The validity of a void marriage may be collaterally attacked.19 Thus, in Nial v. Bayadog, we held:
However, other than for purposes of remarriage, no judicial action is necessary to declare a marriage an absolute nullity. 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.20

18

Likewise, in Nicdao Cario v. Yee Cario,21 the Court ruled that it is clothed with sufficient authority to pass upon the validity
of two marriages despite the main case being a claim for death benefits. Reiterating Nial, we held that the Court may pass
upon the validity of a marriage even in a suit not directly instituted to question the validity of said marriage, so long as it is
essential to the determination of the case. However, evidence must be adduced, testimonial or documentary, to prove the
existence of grounds rendering such a marriage an absolute nullity.22
Under the Family Code, the absence of any of the essential or formal requisites shall render the marriage void ab initio,
whereas a defect in any of the essential requisites shall render the marriage voidable.23 In the instant case, it is clear from
the evidence presented that petitioner and respondent did not have a marriage license when they contracted their marriage.
Instead, they presented an affidavit stating that they had been living together for more than five years.24 However,
respondent herself in effect admitted the falsity of the affidavit when she was asked during cross-examination, thus
ATTY. CARPIO:
Q
But despite of (sic) the fact that you have not been living together as husband and wife for the last five years on or
before March 13, 1995, you signed the Affidavit, is that correct?
A

Yes, sir.25

The falsity of the affidavit cannot be considered as a mere irregularity in the formal requisites of marriage. The law dispenses
with the marriage license requirement for 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 aim of this provision
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 applicants name for a marriage license.26 In the instant
case, there was no "scandalous cohabitation" to protect; in fact, there was no cohabitation at all. The false affidavit which
petitioner and respondent executed so they could push through with the marriage has no value whatsoever; it is a mere
scrap of paper. They were not exempt from the marriage license requirement. Their failure to obtain and present a marriage
license renders their marriage void ab initio.
Anent the second issue, we find that the child is petitioners illegitimate daughter, and therefore entitled to support.
Illegitimate children may establish their illegitimate filiation in the same way and on the same evidence as legitimate
children.27 Thus, one can prove illegitimate filiation through the record of birth appearing in the civil register or a final
judgment, an admission of legitimate filiation in a public document or a private handwritten instrument and signed by the
parent concerned, or the open and continuous possession of the status of a legitimate child, or any other means allowed by
the Rules of Court and special laws.28
The Certificate of Live Birth29 of the child lists petitioner as the father. In addition, petitioner, in an affidavit waiving additional
tax exemption in favor of respondent, admitted that he is the father of the child, thus stating:
1. I am the legitimate father of REIANNA TRICIA A. DE CASTRO who was born on November 3, 1995 at Better Living,
Paraaque, Metro Manila;30
We are likewise inclined to agree with the following findings of the trial court:
That Reinna Tricia is the child of the respondent with the petitioner is supported not only by the testimony of the latter, but
also by respondents own admission in the course of his testimony wherein he conceded that petitioner was his former
girlfriend. While they were sweethearts, he used to visit petitioner at the latters house or clinic. At times, they would go to a
motel to have sex. As a result of their sexual dalliances, petitioner became pregnant which ultimately led to their marriage,
though invalid, as earlier ruled. While respondent claims that he was merely forced to undergo the marriage ceremony, the
pictures taken of the occasion reveal otherwise (Exhs. "B," "B-1," to "B-3," "C," "C-1" and "C-2," "D," "D-1" and "D-2," "E," "E1" and "E-2," "F," "F-1" and "F-2," "G," "G-1" and "G-2" and "H," "H-1" to "H-3"). In one of the pictures (Exhs. "D," "D-1" and
"D-2"), defendant is seen putting the wedding ring on petitioners finger and in another picture (Exhs. "E," "E-1" and "E-2")
respondent is seen in the act of kissing the petitioner.31
WHEREFORE, the petition is granted in part. The assailed Decision and Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-GR CV
No. 69166 are SET ASIDE and the decision of the Regional Trial Court Branch 70 of Pasig City in JDRC No. 4626 dated 16
October 2000 is hereby REINSTATED.
SO ORDERED.

19

SECOND DIVISION
[G.R. No. 153802. March 11, 2005]
HOMEOWNERS SAVINGS & LOAN BANK, petitioner, vs. MIGUELA C. DAILO, respondent.
DECISION
TINGA, J.:
This is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Revised Rules of Court, assailing the Decision[1] of the Court
of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 59986 rendered on June 3, 2002, which affirmed with modification the October 18, 1997
Decision[2] of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 29, San Pablo City, Laguna in Civil Case No. SP-4748 (97).
The following factual antecedents are undisputed.
Respondent Miguela C. Dailo and Marcelino Dailo, Jr. were married on August 8, 1967. During their marriage, the spouses
purchased a house and lot situated at Barangay San Francisco, San Pablo City from a certain Sandra Dalida. The subject
property was declared for tax assessment purposes under Assessment of Real Property No. 94-051-2802. The Deed of
Absolute Sale, however, was executed only in favor of the late Marcelino Dailo, Jr. as vendee thereof to the exclusion of his
wife.[3]
On December 1, 1993, Marcelino Dailo, Jr. executed a Special Power of Attorney (SPA) in favor of one Lilibeth Gesmundo,
authorizing the latter to obtain a loan from petitioner Homeowners Savings and Loan Bank to be secured by the spouses
Dailos house and lot in San Pablo City. Pursuant to the SPA, Gesmundo obtained a loan in the amount of P300,000.00 from
petitioner. As security therefor, Gesmundo executed on the same day a Real Estate Mortgage constituted on the subject
property in favor of petitioner. The abovementioned transactions, including the execution of the SPA in favor of Gesmundo,
took place without the knowledge and consent of respondent.[4]
Upon maturity, the loan remained outstanding. As a result, petitioner instituted extrajudicial foreclosure proceedings on the
mortgaged property. After the extrajudicial sale thereof, a Certificate of Sale was issued in favor of petitioner as the highest
bidder. After the lapse of one year without the property being redeemed, petitioner, through its vice-president, consolidated
the ownership thereof by executing on June 6, 1996 an Affidavit of Consolidation of Ownership and a Deed of Absolute Sale.
[5]
In the meantime, Marcelino Dailo, Jr. died on December 20, 1995. In one of her visits to the subject property, respondent
learned that petitioner had already employed a certain Roldan Brion to clean its premises and that her car, a Ford sedan,
was razed because Brion allowed a boy to play with fire within the premises.
Claiming that she had no knowledge of the mortgage constituted on the subject property, which was conjugal in nature,
respondent instituted with the Regional Trial Court, Branch 29, San Pablo City, Civil Case No. SP-2222 (97) for Nullity of
Real Estate Mortgage and Certificate of Sale, Affidavit of Consolidation of Ownership, Deed of Sale, Reconveyance with
Prayer for Preliminary Injunction and Damages against petitioner. In the latters Answer with Counterclaim, petitioner prayed
for the dismissal of the complaint on the ground that the property in question was the exclusive property of the late Marcelino
Dailo, Jr.
After trial on the merits, the trial court rendered a Decision on October 18, 1997. The dispositive portion thereof reads as
follows:
WHEREFORE, the plaintiff having proved by the preponderance of evidence the allegations of the Complaint, the Court
finds for the plaintiff and hereby orders:
ON THE FIRST CAUSE OF ACTION:
1. The declaration of the following documents as null and void:
(a) The Deed of Real Estate Mortgage dated December 1, 1993 executed before Notary Public Romulo Urrea and his
notarial register entered as Doc. No. 212; Page No. 44, Book No. XXI, Series of 1993.
(b) The Certificate of Sale executed by Notary Public Reynaldo Alcantara on April 20, 1995.
(c) The Affidavit of Consolidation of Ownership executed by the defendant
(c) The Affidavit of Consolidation of Ownership executed by the defendant over the residential lot located at Brgy. San
Francisco, San Pablo City, covered by ARP No. 95-091-1236 entered as Doc. No. 406; Page No. 83, Book No. III, Series of
1996 of Notary Public Octavio M. Zayas.

20

(d) The assessment of real property No. 95-051-1236.


2. The defendant is ordered to reconvey the property subject of this complaint to the plaintiff.
ON THE SECOND CAUSE OF ACTION
1. The defendant to pay the plaintiff the sum of P40,000.00 representing the value of the car which was burned.
ON BOTH CAUSES OF ACTION
1. The defendant to pay the plaintiff the sum of P25,000.00 as attorneys fees;
2. The defendant to pay plaintiff P25,000.00 as moral damages;
3. The defendant to pay the plaintiff the sum of P10,000.00 as exemplary damages;
4. To pay the cost of the suit.
The counterclaim is dismissed.
SO ORDERED.[6]
Upon elevation of the case to the Court of Appeals, the appellate court affirmed the trial courts finding that the subject
property was conjugal in nature, in the absence of clear and convincing evidence to rebut the presumption that the subject
property acquired during the marriage of spouses Dailo belongs to their conjugal partnership.[7] The appellate court declared
as void the mortgage on the subject property because it was constituted without the knowledge and consent of respondent,
in accordance with Article 124 of the Family Code. Thus, it upheld the trial courts order to reconvey the subject property to
respondent.[8] With respect to the damage to respondents car, the appellate court found petitioner to be liable therefor
because it is responsible for the consequences of the acts or omissions of the person it hired to accomplish the assigned
task.[9] All told, the appellate court affirmed the trial courts Decision, but deleted the award for damages and attorneys fees
for lack of basis.[10]
Hence, this petition, raising the following issues for this Courts consideration:
1. WHETHER OR NOT THE MORTGAGE CONSTITUTED BY THE LATE MARCELINO DAILO, JR. ON THE SUBJECT
PROPERTY AS CO-OWNER THEREOF IS VALID AS TO HIS UNDIVIDED SHARE.
2. WHETHER OR NOT THE CONJUGAL PARTNERSHIP IS LIABLE FOR THE PAYMENT OF THE LOAN OBTAINED BY
THE LATE MARCELINO DAILO, JR. THE SAME HAVING REDOUNDED TO THE BENEFIT OF THE FAMILY.[11]
First, petitioner takes issue with the legal provision applicable to the factual milieu of this case. It contends that Article 124 of
the Family Code should be construed in relation to Article 493 of the Civil Code, which states:
ART. 493. Each co-owner shall have the full ownership of his part and of the fruits and benefits pertaining thereto, and he
may therefore alienate, assign or mortgage it, and even substitute another person in its enjoyment, except when personal
rights are involved. But the effect of the alienation or the mortgage, with respect to the co-owners, shall be limited to the
portion which may be allotted to him in the division upon the termination of the co-ownership.
Article 124 of the Family Code provides in part:
ART. 124. The administration and enjoyment of the conjugal partnership property shall belong to both spouses jointly. . . .
In the event that one spouse is incapacitated or otherwise unable to participate in the administration of the conjugal
properties, the other spouse may assume sole powers of administration. These powers do not include the powers of
disposition or encumbrance which must have the authority of the court or the written consent of the other spouse. In the
absence of such authority or consent, the disposition or encumbrance shall be void. . . .
Petitioner argues that although Article 124 of the Family Code requires the consent of the other spouse to the mortgage of
conjugal properties, the framers of the law could not have intended to curtail the right of a spouse from exercising full
ownership over the portion of the conjugal property pertaining to him under the concept of co-ownership.[12] Thus, petitioner
would have this Court uphold the validity of the mortgage to the extent of the late Marcelino Dailo, Jr.s share in the conjugal
partnership.

21

In Guiang v. Court of Appeals,[13] it was held that the sale of a conjugal property requires the consent of both the husband
and wife.[14] In applying Article 124 of the Family Code, this Court declared that the absence of the consent of one renders
the entire sale null and void, including the portion of the conjugal property pertaining to the husband who contracted the sale.
The same principle in Guiang squarely applies to the instant case. As shall be discussed next, there is no legal basis to
construe Article 493 of the Civil Code as an exception to Article 124 of the Family Code.
Respondent and the late Marcelino Dailo, Jr. were married on August 8, 1967. In the absence of a marriage settlement, the
system of relative community or conjugal partnership of gains governed the property relations between respondent and her
late husband.[15] With the effectivity of the Family Code on August 3, 1988, Chapter 4 on Conjugal Partnership of Gains in
the Family Code was made applicable to conjugal partnership of gains already established before its effectivity unless
vested rights have already been acquired under the Civil Code or other laws.[16]
The rules on co-ownership do not even apply to the property relations of respondent and the late Marcelino Dailo, Jr. even in
a suppletory manner. The regime of conjugal partnership of gains is a special type of partnership, where the husband and
wife place in a common fund the proceeds, products, fruits and income from their separate properties and those acquired by
either or both spouses through their efforts or by chance.[17] Unlike the absolute community of property wherein the rules on
co-ownership apply in a suppletory manner,[18] the conjugal partnership shall be governed by the rules on contract of
partnership in all that is not in conflict with what is expressly determined in the chapter (on conjugal partnership of gains) or
by the spouses in their marriage settlements.[19] Thus, the property relations of respondent and her late husband shall be
governed, foremost, by Chapter 4 on Conjugal Partnership of Gains of the Family Code and, suppletorily, by the rules on
partnership under the Civil Code. In case of conflict, the former prevails because the Civil Code provisions on partnership
apply only when the Family Code is silent on the matter.
The basic and established fact is that during his lifetime, without the knowledge and consent of his wife, Marcelino Dailo, Jr.
constituted a real estate mortgage on the subject property, which formed part of their conjugal partnership. By express
provision of Article 124 of the Family Code, in the absence of (court) authority or written consent of the other spouse, any
disposition or encumbrance of the conjugal property shall be void.
The aforequoted provision does not qualify with respect to the share of the spouse who makes the disposition or
encumbrance in the same manner that the rule on co-ownership under Article 493 of the Civil Code does. Where the law
does not distinguish, courts should not distinguish.[20] Thus, both the trial court and the appellate court are correct in
declaring the nullity of the real estate mortgage on the subject property for lack of respondents consent.
Second, petitioner imposes the liability for the payment of the principal obligation obtained by the late Marcelino Dailo, Jr. on
the conjugal partnership to the extent that it redounded to the benefit of the family.[21]
Under Article 121 of the Family Code, [T]he conjugal partnership shall be liable for: . . . (3) Debts and obligations contracted
by either spouse without the consent of the other to the extent that the family may have been benefited; . . . . For the subject
property to be held liable, the obligation contracted by the late Marcelino Dailo, Jr. must have redounded to the benefit of the
conjugal partnership. There must be the requisite showing then of some advantage which clearly accrued to the welfare of
the spouses. Certainly, to make a conjugal partnership respond for a liability that should appertain to the husband alone is to
defeat and frustrate the avowed objective of the new Civil Code to show the utmost concern for the solidarity and well-being
of the family as a unit.[22]
The burden of proof that the debt was contracted for the benefit of the conjugal partnership of gains lies with the creditorparty litigant claiming as such.[23] Ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat (he who asserts, not he who denies, must
prove).[24] Petitioners sweeping conclusion that the loan obtained by the late Marcelino Dailo, Jr. to finance the construction
of housing units without a doubt redounded to the benefit of his family, without adducing adequate proof, does not persuade
this Court. Other than petitioners bare allegation, there is nothing from the records of the case to compel a finding that,
indeed, the loan obtained by the late Marcelino Dailo, Jr. redounded to the benefit of the family. Consequently, the conjugal
partnership cannot be held liable for the payment of the principal obligation.
In addition, a perusal of the records of the case reveals that during the trial, petitioner vigorously asserted that the subject
property was the exclusive property of the late Marcelino Dailo, Jr. Nowhere in the answer filed with the trial court was it
alleged that the proceeds of the loan redounded to the benefit of the family. Even on appeal, petitioner never claimed that
the family benefited from the proceeds of the loan. When a party adopts a certain theory in the court below, he will not be
permitted to change his theory on appeal, for to permit him to do so would not only be unfair to the other party but it would
also be offensive to the basic rules of fair play, justice and due process.[25] A party may change his legal theory on appeal
only when the factual bases thereof would not require presentation of any further evidence by the adverse party in order to
enable it to properly meet the issue raised in the new theory.[26]
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. Costs against petitioner.
SO ORDERED.

22

FIRST DIVISION
HEIRS OF DOMINGO HERNANDEZ, SR., namely: SERGIA V. HERNANDEZ (Surviving Spouse), DOMINGO V.
HERNANDEZ, JR., and MARIA LEONORA WILMA HERNANDEZ,
Petitioners,
- versus PLARIDEL MINGOA, SR., DOLORES CAMISURA, MELANIE MINGOA AND QUEZON CITY REGISTER OF DEEDS,[1]
Respondents.
G.R. No. 146548

Present:
PUNO, C.J., Chairperson,
CARPIO MORALES,
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO,
BERSAMIN, and
VILLARAMA, JR., JJ.
Promulgated:
December 18, 2009
x------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x
DECISION
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, J.:
This is a petition for review on certiorari of the Decision[2] dated September 7, 2000 and Resolution[3] dated December 29,
2000, both of the Court of Appeals (CA), in CA-G.R. CV No. 54896. The CA Decision reversed and set aside the decision of
the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Quezon City (Branch 92), which ruled in favor of herein petitioners in the action for
reconveyance filed by the latter in said court against the respondents. The CA Resolution denied the petitioners motion for
reconsideration.
The subject matter of the action is a parcel of land with an area of 520.50 square meters situated in Diliman, Quezon City,
described as Lot 15, Block 89 of the subdivision plan Psd-68807, covered by Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No.
107534[4] issued on May 23, 1966 and registered in the name of Domingo B. Hernandez, Sr. married to Sergia V.
Hernandez. Later on, said TCT No. 107534 was cancelled and in lieu thereof, TCT No. 290121[5] was issued in favor of
Melanie Mingoa.
These are the factual antecedents of this case:
On February 11, 1994, a complaint[6] was filed with the RTC of Quezon City by herein petitioners, heirs of Domingo
Hernandez, Sr., namely, spouse Sergia Hernandez and their surviving children Domingo, Jr. and Maria Leonora Wilma,
against the respondents herein, Dolores Camisura, Melanie Mingoa, Atty. Plaridel Mingoa, Sr. and all persons claiming rights
under the latter, and the Quezon City Register of Deeds. The case was docketed as Civil Case No. 094-19276.
In their complaint, the petitioners asked for (a) the annulment and/or declaration of nullity of TCT No. 290121 including all its
derivative titles, the Irrevocable Special Power of Attorney (SPA) dated February 14, 1963 in favor of Dolores Camisura,[7]
the SPA dated May 9, 1964 in favor of Plaridel Mingoa, Sr.,[8] and the Deed of Absolute Sale of Real Estate[9] dated July 9,
1978 executed by Plaridel Mingoa, Sr. in favor of Melanie Mingoa for being products of forgery and falsification; and (b) the
reconveyance and/or issuance to them (petitioners) by the Quezon City Register of Deeds of the certificate of title covering
the subject property.
Respondents filed a Motion to Dismiss[10] the complaint interposing the following grounds: the claim or demand has been
paid, waived, abandoned or otherwise extinguished; lack of cause of action; lack of jurisdiction over the person of the
defendants or over the subject or nature of the suit; and prescription. The following were attached to said motion: a Deed of
Transfer of Rights[11] dated February 14, 1963 from Domingo Hernandez, Sr. to Camisura, the Irrevocable SPA[12]
executed by the former in the latters favor, and a Deed of Sale of Right in a Residential Land and Improvements Therein[13]
dated May 9, 1964 executed by Camisura in favor of Plaridel Mingoa, Sr.

23

In its Order[14] dated September 1, 1994, the trial court denied respondents motion to dismiss.
Respondents filed a petition for certiorari and prohibition with the CA assailing the aforementioned Order of denial by the
RTC. Their initial petition was dismissed for being insufficient in form. Respondents then re-filed their petition, which was
docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 36868. In a decision[15] dated May 26, 1995, respondents re-filed petition was denied due
course by the CA. Having been filed beyond the reglementary period, respondents subsequent motion for reconsideration
was simply noted by the CA in its Resolution of July 7, 1995. On the basis of a technicality, this Court, in a Resolution dated
September 27, 1995, dismissed respondents' appeal which was docketed as G.R. No. 121020. Per Entry of Judgment,[16]
said Resolution became final and executory on January 2, 1996.
Meanwhile, respondents filed their Answer[17] in the main case therein denying the allegations of the complaint and averring
as defenses the same grounds upon which they anchored their earlier motion to dismiss.
The parties having failed to amicably settle during the scheduled pre-trial conference, the case proceeded to trial.
The evidence respectively presented by the parties is summarized as follows:[18]
x x x [It] appears that in the early part of 1958, Domingo Hernandez, Sr. (who was then a Central Bank employee) and his
spouse Sergia V. Hernandez were awarded a piece of real property by the Philippine Homesite and Housing Corporation
(PHHC) by way of salary deduction. On October 18, 1963, the [petitioners] then having paid in full the entire amount of
P6,888.96, a Deed of Absolute Sale of the property was executed by the PHHC in their favor. TCT No. 107534, covering the
property was issued to the [petitioners] on May 23, 1966. It bears an annotation of the retention period of the property by the
awardee (i.e., restriction of any unauthorized sale to third persons within a certain period). Tax payments due on the property
were religiously paid (until 1955) by the [petitioners] as evidenced by receipts under the [petitioners] name.
Hernandez, Sr. died intestate in April 1983 and it was only after his burial that his heirs found out that TCT No. 107534 was
already cancelled a year before (in 1982), and in lieu thereof, TCT No. 290121 was issued to the [respondents]. Upon
diligent inquiry, [petitioners] came to know that the cancellation of TCT (No. 107534) in favor of the [respondents] xxx TCT
(No. 290121) was based upon three sets of documents, namely, (1) Irrevocable Power of Attorney; (2) Irrevocable Special
Power of Attorney; and (3) Deed of Absolute Sale.
[Petitioners] also allege that because of financial difficulties, they were only able to file a complaint on February 11, 1995
after consulting with several lawyers.
xxxx
[Respondents] xxx on the other hand do not deny that Hernandez, Sr. was indeed awarded a piece of real property by the
PHHC. According to the [respondents] xxx, Hernandez, Sr. was awarded by the PHHC the Right to Purchase the property in
question; however, the late Hernandez, Sr. failed to pay all the installments due on the said property. Thus, afraid that he
would forfeit his right to purchase the property awarded to him, Hernandez, Sr. sold to Dolores Camisura his rights for the
sum of P6,500.00 on February 14, 1963, through a deed of transfer of rights, seemingly a printed form from the PHHC.
Simultaneous to this, Hernandez, Sr. and his spouse executed an irrevocable special power of attorney, appointing Dolores
Camisura as their attorney-in-fact with express power to sign, execute and acknowledge any contract of disposition,
alienation and conveyance of her right over the aforesaid parcel of land.
Apparently, this special power of attorney was executed for the purpose of securing her right to transfer the property to a
third person considering that there was a prohibition to dispose of the property by the original purchaser within one (1) year
from full payment. Else wise stated, the irrevocable power of attorney was necessary in order to enable the buyer, Dolores
Camisura, to sell the lot to another, Plaridel Mingoa, without the need of requiring Hernandez, to sign a deed of conveyance.
On May 9, 1964, Dolores Camisura sold her right over the said property to Plaridel Mingoa for P7,000.00. Camisura then
executed a similar irrevocable power of attorney and a deed of sale of right in a residential land and improvements therein in
favor of Plaridel Mingoa. Upon such payment and on the strength of the said irrevocable power of attorney, Plaridel Mingoa
took possession of the said property and began paying all the installments due on the property to PHHC. Plaridel Mingoa
further secured TCT No. 107534 (issued in the name of Domingo Hernandez, Sr.) on May, 1966. On July 9, 1978, Plaridel
Mingoa sold to his eldest child, Melanie Mingoa, the property in question for P18,000.00. TCT No. 107534 was thus
cancelled and TCT No. 290121 was issued in the name of Melanie Mingoa. It is further claimed that since 1966 until 1982,
Plaridel Mingoa religiously paid all the taxes due on the said property; and that from 1983 up to the present, Melanie Mingoa
paid all the property taxes due thereon aside from having actual possession of the said property. (words in brackets ours)
On May 9, 1996, the RTC rendered a decision[19] in favor of the petitioners, with the following dispositive portion:

24

WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered in favor of the plaintiffs as follows:
1) TCT No. 290121 and all its derivative titles are hereby declared null and void;
2) Ordering the Register of Deeds of Quezon City to cancel TCT No. 290121 issued in the name of defendant Melanie
Mingoa and corresponding owners duplicate certificate and all its derivative title[s];
3) Ordering defendant Melanie Mingoa and all derivative owners to surrender owners duplicate copies of transfer certificate
of title to the Register of Deeds of Quezon City for cancellation upon finality of this decision;
4) Ordering the defendants except the Register of Deeds of Quezon City to turn over to the plaintiffs the peaceful possession
of the subject property; and
5) Ordering the defendants except the Register of Deeds of Quezon City to jointly and severally (sic) pay the plaintiffs the
sum of P10,000.00 as attorneys [fees] and to pay the costs of suit.
SO ORDERED.
In ruling in favor of petitioners, the trial court reasoned as follows:[20]
The two (2) parties in the case at bar gave out conflicting versions as to who paid for the subject property. The plaintiffs claim
that they were the ones who paid the entire amount out of the conjugal funds while it is the contention of the defendant
Mingoa that the former were not able to pay. The defendant alleged that the right to purchase was sold to him and he was
able to pay the whole amount. The Court is of the opinion that petitioners version is more credible taken together with the
presence of the irrevocable power of attorney which both parties admitted. In light of the version of the defendants, it is
highly improbable that a Power of Attorney would be constituted by the plaintiffs authorizing the former to sell the subject
property. This is because for all intents and purposes, the land is already the defendants for if we are to follow their claim,
they paid for the full amount of the same. It can be safely concluded then that the Power of Attorney was unnecessary
because the defendants, as buyers, can compel the plaintiff-sellers to execute the transfer of the said property after the
period of prohibition has lapsed. The defendants, as owners, will have the right to do whatever they want with the land even
without an Irrevocable Power of Attorney. Since the presence of the Irrevocable Power of Attorney is established, it is now
the task of this Court to determine the validity of the sale made by virtue of the said Power of Attorney. As what was said
earlier, the Court subscribes to the points raised by the plaintiffs. It was proved during trial that the signature of the wife was
falsified. Therefore, it is as if the wife never authorized the agent to sell her share of the subject land, it being conjugal
property. It follows that the sale of half of the land is invalid. However, it must be pointed out that the signature of the
deceased husband was never contested and is therefore deemed admitted. We now come to the half which belongs to the
deceased husband. The Law on Sales expressly prohibits the agent from purchasing the property of the principal without the
latters consent (Article 1491 of the Civil Code). It was established from the records that defendant Plaridel Mingoa sold the
subject land to his daughter Melanie. It is now for the Court to decide whether this transaction is valid. x x x Considering that
the sale took place in July 1978, it follows from simple mathematical computation that Melanie was then a minor (20 years of
age) when she allegedly bought the property from her father. Since Melanies father is the sub-agent of the deceased
principal, he is prohibited by law from purchasing the land without the latters consent. This being the case, the sale is invalid
for it appears that Plaridel Mingoa sold the land to himself. It should be noted that the defendants could have easily
presented Melanies birth certificate, it being at their disposal, but they chose not to. Because of this, this Court is of the belief
that the presumption that evidence willfully suppressed would be adverse if produced arises.
The trial court denied respondents motion for reconsideration of the aforementioned decision in its Order[21] of August 22,
1996.
Aggrieved, the respondents appealed to the CA, where their case was docketed as CA-G.R. CV No. 54896. Holding that the
petitioners were barred by prescription and laches to take any action against the respondents, the CA, in its herein assailed
Decision[22] dated September 7, 2000, reversed and set aside the appealed decision, thereby dismissing the complaint filed
by the petitioners before the trial court. In full, the disposition reads:
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Decision of the RTC Branch 92, Quezon City, in Civil Case No. Q-94-19276,
entitled, Heirs of Domingo Hernandez, Sr. vs. Dolores Camisura, et. al., is hereby REVERSED AND SET ASIDE. A new one
is hereby entered, DISMISSING the complaint in Civil Case No. Q-94-19276 entitled, Heirs of Domingo Hernandez, Sr. vs.
Dolores Camisura, et. al., filed by the plaintiffs-appellees before the RTC Branch 92, Quezon City for lack of merit.
SO ORDERED.

25

Petitioners subsequent motion for reconsideration was denied by the CA in its impugned Resolution[23] dated December 29,
2000.
Hence, petitioners are now before this Court via the present recourse. The ten (10) assigned errors set forth in the petition all
boil down to the essential issue of whether the title of the subject property in the name of respondent Melanie Mingoa may
still be reconveyed to the petitioners. As we see it, the resolution thereof hinges on these two pivotal questions: (1) whether
there was a valid alienation involving the subject property; and (2) whether the action impugning the validity of such
alienation has prescribed and/or was barred by laches.
The Court shall deal first with the procedural issues raised by the respondents in their Comment.[24]
We held in Vera-Cruz v. Calderon[25] that:
As a general rule, only questions of law may be raised in a petition for review on certiorari to the Supreme Court. Although it
has long been settled that findings of fact are conclusive upon this Court, there are exceptional circumstances which would
require us to review findings of fact of the Court of Appeals, to wit:
(1) the conclusion is a finding grounded entirely on speculation, surmise and conjectures; (2) the inference made is
manifestly mistaken; (3) there is grave abuse of discretion; (4) the judgment is based on misapprehension of facts; (5) the
findings of fact are conflicting; (6) the Court of Appeals went beyond the issues of the case and its findings are contrary to
the admissions of both appellant and appellees; (7) the findings of fact of the Court of Appeals are contrary to those of the
trial court; (8) said findings of fact are conclusions without citation of specific evidence on which they are based; (9) the facts
set forth in the decision as well as in the petitioners main and reply briefs are not disputed by the respondents; (10) the
finding of fact of the Court of Appeals is premised on the supposed absence of evidence and is contradicted by evidence on
record. (emphasis ours)
The petition before us raises factual issues which are not proper in a petition for review under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court.
However, we find that one of the exceptional circumstances qualifying a factual review by the Court exists, that is, the factual
findings of the CA are at variance with those of the trial court. We shall then give due course to the instant petition and
review the factual findings of the CA.
Even if only petitioner Domingo Hernandez, Jr. executed the Verification/Certification[26] against forum-shopping, this will
not deter us from proceeding with the judicial determination of the issues in this petition. As we ratiocinated in Heirs of Olarte
v. Office of the President:[27]
The general rule is that the certificate of non-forum shopping must be signed by all the plaintiffs in a case and the signature
of only one of them is insufficient. However, the Court has also stressed that the rules on forum shopping were designed to
promote and facilitate the orderly administration of justice and thus should not be interpreted with such absolute literalness
as to subvert its own ultimate and legitimate objective. The rule of substantial compliance may be availed of with respect to
the contents of the certification. This is because the requirement of strict compliance with the provisions regarding the
certification of non-forum shopping merely underscores its mandatory nature in that the certification cannot be altogether
dispensed with or its requirements completely disregarded. Thus, under justifiable circumstances, the Court has relaxed the
rule requiring the submission of such certification considering that although it is obligatory, it is not jurisdictional.
In HLC Construction and Development Corporation v. Emily Homes Subdivision Homeowners Association, it was held that
the signature of only one of the petitioners in the certification against forum shopping substantially complied with rules
because all the petitioners share a common interest and invoke a common cause of action or defense.
The same leniency was applied by the Court in Cavile v. Heirs of Cavile, because the lone petitioner who executed the
certification of non-forum shopping was a relative and co-owner of the other petitioners with whom he shares a common
interest. x x x
xxx
In the instant case, petitioners share a common interest and defense inasmuch as they collectively claim a right not to be
dispossessed of the subject lot by virtue of their and their deceased parents construction of a family home and occupation
thereof for more than 10 years. The commonality of their stance to defend their alleged right over the controverted lot thus
gave petitioners xxx authority to inform the Court of Appeals in behalf of the other petitioners that they have not commenced
any action or claim involving the same issues in another court or tribunal, and that there is no other pending action or claim
in another court or tribunal involving the same issues. x x x
Here, all the petitioners are immediate relatives who share a common interest in the land sought to be reconveyed and a
common cause of action raising the same arguments in support thereof. There was sufficient basis, therefore, for Domingo
Hernandez, Jr. to speak for and in behalf of his co-petitioners when he certified that they had not filed any action or claim in
another court or tribunal involving the same issues. Thus, the Verification/Certification that Hernandez, Jr. executed
constitutes substantial compliance under the Rules.

26

Anent the contention that the petition erroneously impleaded the CA as respondent in contravention of Section 4(a)[28] of
Rule 45 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, we shall apply our ruling in Simon v. Canlas,[29] wherein we held that:
x x x [The] Court agrees that the correct procedure, as mandated by Section 4, Rule 45 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure,
is not to implead the lower court which rendered the assailed decision. However, impleading the lower court as respondent in
the petition for review on certiorari does not automatically mean the dismissal of the appeal but merely authorizes the
dismissal of the petition. Besides, formal defects in petitions are not uncommon. The Court has encountered previous
petitions for review on certiorari that erroneously impleaded the CA. In those cases, the Court merely called the petitioners
attention to the defects and proceeded to resolve the case on their merits.
The Court finds no reason why it should not afford the same liberal treatment in this case. While unquestionably, the Court
has the discretion to dismiss the appeal for being defective, sound policy dictates that it is far better to dispose of cases on
the merits, rather than on technicality as the latter approach may result in injustice. This is in accordance with Section 6,
Rule 1 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure which encourages a reading of the procedural requirements in a manner that will
help secure and not defeat justice.
We now come to the substantive issues.
As correctly found by the appellate court, the following facts are undisputed:[30]
1.
Domingo Hernandez, Sr. was awarded a piece of real property in 1958 by the PHHC as part of the governments
housing program at the time. Title over the said property was issued in 1966 in the name of Hernandez, Sr., after full
payment for the property was received by the PHHC.
2.
Neither [petitioners] nor Hernandez, Sr., took possession of the said property. On the other hand, the [respondents]
took possession of the said property in 1966 and are in actual and physical possession thereof up to the present, and have
made considerable improvements thereon, including a residential house where they presently reside.
3.
The Owners Duplicate Copy of the title over the property given by the PHHC to Hernandez, Sr. was in the possession
of Plaridel Mingoa, the latter being able to facilitate the cancellation of the said title and [the issuance of] a new TCT xxx in
the name of Melanie Mingoa.
4.
The realty taxes have been paid by [respondents], albeit in the name of Hernandez, Sr., but all official receipts of tax
payments are kept by the [respondents].
5.
From 1966 (the time when the [respondents] were able to possess the property) to 1983 (the time when the
[petitioners] had knowledge that the TCT in the name of Hernandez, Sr. had already been cancelled by the Registry of
Deeds of Quezon City) covers almost a span of 17 years; and from 1983 to 1995 (the time when the Heirs filed the original
action) is a period of another 12 years.
The SPA[31] in favor of Dolores Camisura pertinently states that the latter is the lawful attorney-in-fact of Domingo B.
Hernandez, Sr., married to Sergia Hernandez, to do and perform, among others, the following acts and deeds:
1. To sign, execute and acknowledge all such contracts, deeds or other instruments which may be required by the Peoples
Homesite and Housing Corporation with respect to the purchase of that certain parcel of land known and designated as Lot
No. 15 Block E-89 of the Malaya Avenue Subdivision, situated in Quezon City and containing an area of 520 square meters,
more or less, which I have acquired thru the CENTRAL BANK STAFF HOUSING CORPORATION;
2. To sign, execute and acknowledge all such contracts or other instruments which may deem necessary or be required to
sign, execute and acknowledge for the purpose of selling, transferring, conveying, disposing of or alienating whatever rights I
may have over that parcel of land mentioned above;
x x x.
The Deed of Transfer of Rights,[32] also executed by Hernandez, Sr. in Camisuras favor, expressly states that the former, in
consideration of the amount of P6,500.00, transfers his rights over the subject property to the latter. Notably, such deed was
simultaneously executed with the SPA on February 14, 1963.
From the foregoing, the Court cannot but conclude that the SPA executed by Hernandez, Sr. in respondent Camisura's favor
was, in reality, an alienation involving the subject property. We particularly note that Hernandez, Sr., aside from executing

27

said SPA, likewise sold his rights and interests over the property awarded by the PHHC to Camisura. The CA committed no
error when it ruled:[33]
x x x Appreciating the case in its entirety, the purported SPA appear to be merely a grant of authority to Camisura (and then
to Plaridel Mingoa) to sell and dispose of the subject property as well as a grant of right to purchase the said property; but in
essence, such SPA are disguised deeds of sale of the property executed in circumventing the retention period restriction
over the said property. Verily, the parties knew that the land in question could not be alienated in favor of any third person
within one (1) year without the approval of the PHHC.
Having ruled that the SPA in favor of Camisura was a contract of sale, the next question is whether or not such sale was
valid.
To constitute a valid contract, the Civil Code requires the concurrence of the following elements: (1) cause, (2) object, and
(3) consent.
The consent of Domingo Hernandez, Sr. to the contract is undisputed, thus, the sale of his share in the conjugal property
was valid. With regard to the consent of his wife, Sergia Hernandez, to the sale involving their conjugal property, the trial
court found that it was lacking because said wifes signature on the SPA was falsified. Notably, even the CA observed that the
forgery was so blatant as to be remarkably noticeable to the naked eye of an ordinary person. Having compared the
questioned signature on the SPA[34] with those of the documents[35] bearing the sample standard signature of Sergia
Hernandez, we affirm both lower courts' findings regarding the forgery.
However, Sergias lack of consent to the sale did not render the transfer of her share invalid.
Petitioners contend that such lack of consent on the part of Sergia Hernandez rendered the SPAs and the deed of sale
fictitious, hence null and void in accordance with Article 1409[36] of the Civil Code. Petitioners likewise contend that an
action for the declaration of the non-existence of a contract under Article 1410[37] does not prescribe.
We find, after meticulous review of the facts, that Articles 1409 and 1410 are not applicable to the matter now before us.
It bears stressing that the subject matter herein involves conjugal property. Said property was awarded to Domingo
Hernandez, Sr. in 1958. The assailed SPAs were executed in 1963 and 1964. Title in the name of Domingo Hernandez, Sr.
covering the subject property was issued on May 23, 1966. The sale of the property to Melanie Mingoa and the issuance of a
new title in her name happened in 1978. Since all these events occurred before the Family Code took effect in 1988, the
provisions of the New Civil Code govern these transactions. We quote the applicable provisions, to wit:
Art. 165. The husband is the administrator of the conjugal partnership.
Art. 166. Unless the wife has been declared a non compos mentis or a spendthrift, or is under civil interdiction or is confined
in a leprosarium, the husband cannot alienate or encumber any real property of the conjugal partnership without the wifes
consent. If she refuses unreasonably to give her consent, the court may compel her to grant the same. x x x.
Art. 173. The wife may, during the marriage, and within ten years from the transaction questioned, ask the courts for the
annulment of any contract of the husband entered into without her consent, when such consent is required, or any act or
contract of the husband which tends to defraud her or impair her interest in the conjugal partnership property. Should the
wife fail to exercise this right, she or her heirs, after the dissolution of the marriage, may demand the value of property
fraudulently alienated by the husband. (Emphasis ours.)
Notwithstanding the foregoing, petitioners argue that the disposition of conjugal property made by a husband without the
wifes consent is null and void and the right to file an action thereon is imprescriptible, in accordance with Garcia v. CA[38]
and Bucoy v. Paulino.[39].
Concededly, in the aforementioned cases of Garcia and Bucoy, the contracts involving the sale of conjugal property by the
husband without the wife's consent were declared null and void by this Court. But even in Bucoy, we significantly ruled, in
reference to Article 173, that:
The plain meaning attached to the plain language of the law is that the contract, in its entirety, executed by the husband
without the wifes consent, may be annulled by the wife.[40] (emphasis ours)
In succeeding cases, we held that alienation and/or encumbrance of conjugal property by the husband without the wifes
consent is not null and void but merely voidable.

28

In Sps. Alfredo v. Sps. Borras,[41] we held that:


The Family Code, which took effect on 3 August 1988, provides that any alienation or encumbrance made by the husband of
the conjugal partnership property without the consent of the wife is void. However, when the sale is made before the
effectivity of the Family Code, the applicable law is the Civil Code.
Article 173 of the Civil Code provides that the disposition of conjugal property without the wife's consent is not void but
merely voidable.
We likewise made the same holding in Pelayo v. Perez :[42]
xxx [Under] Article 173, in relation to Article 166, both of the New Civil Code, which was still in effect on January 11, 1988
when the deed in question was executed, the lack of marital consent to the disposition of conjugal property does not make
the contract void ab initio but merely voidable.
In Vera-Cruz v. Calderon,[43] the Court noted the state of jurisprudence and elucidated on the matter, thus:
In the recent case of Heirs of Ignacia Aguilar-Reyes v. Spouses Mijares, we reiterated the rule that the husband cannot
alienate or encumber any conjugal real property without the consent, express or implied, of the wife, otherwise, the contract
is voidable. To wit:
Indeed, in several cases the Court has ruled that such alienation or encumbrance by the husband is void. The better view,
however, is to consider the transaction as merely voidable and not void. This is consistent with Article 173 of the Civil Code
pursuant to which the wife could, during the marriage and within 10 years from the questioned transaction, seek its
annulment.
xxx
Likewise, in the case of Heirs of Christina Ayuste v. Court of Appeals, we declared that:
There is no ambiguity in the wording of the law. A sale of real property of the conjugal partnership made by the husband
without the consent of his wife is voidable. The action for annulment must be brought during the marriage and within ten
years from the questioned transaction by the wife. Where the law speaks in clear and categorical language, there is no room
for interpretation there is room only for application.
x x x (Emphasis ours.)
Here, the husbands first act of disposition of the subject property occurred in 1963 when he executed the SPA and the Deed
of Transfer of Rights in favor of Dolores Camisura. Thus, the right of action of the petitioners accrued in 1963, as Article 173
of the Civil Code provides that the wife may file for annulment of a contract entered into by the husband without her consent
within ten (10) years from the transaction questioned. Petitioners filed the action for reconveyance in 1995. Even if we were
to consider that their right of action arose when they learned of the cancellation of TCT No. 107534 and the issuance of TCT
No. 290121 in Melanie Mingoas name in 1993, still, twelve (12) years have lapsed since such discovery, and they filed the
petition beyond the period allowed by law. Moreover, when Sergia Hernandez, together with her children, filed the action for
reconveyance, the conjugal partnership of property with Hernandez, Sr. had already been terminated by virtue of the latter's
death on April 16, 1983. Clearly, therefore, petitioners action has prescribed.
And this is as it should be, for in the same Vera-Cruz case, we further held that:[44]
xxx [Under] Article 173 of the New Civil Code, an action for the annulment of any contract entered into by the husband
without the wifes consent must be filed (1) during the marriage; and (2) within ten years from the transaction questioned.
Where any one of these two conditions is lacking, the action will be considered as having been filed out of time.
In the case at bar, while respondent filed her complaint for annulment of the deed of sale on July 8, 1994, i.e., within the tenyear period counted from the execution of the deed of sale of the property on June 3, 1986, the marriage between her and
Avelino had already been dissolved by the death of the latter on November 20, 1993. In other words, her marriage to Avelino
was no longer subsisting at the time she filed her complaint. Therefore, the civil case had already been barred by
prescription. (Emphasis ours.)
Thus, the failure of Sergia Hernandez to file with the courts an action for annulment of the contract during the marriage and
within ten (10) years from the transaction necessarily barred her from questioning the sale of the subject property to third
persons.

29

As we held in Vda. De Ramones v. Agbayani:[45]


In Villaranda v. Villaranda, et al., this Court, through Mr. Justice Artemio V. Panganiban, ruled that without the wifes consent,
the husbands alienation or encumbrance of conjugal property prior to the effectivity of the Family Code is not void, but
merely voidable. However, the wifes failure to file with the courts an action for annulment of the contract during the marriage
and within ten (10) years from the transaction shall render the sale valid. x x x (emphasis ours)
More than having merely prescribed, petitioners action has likewise become stale, as it is barred by laches.
In Isabela Colleges v. Heirs of Nieves-Tolentino,[46] this Court held:
Laches means the failure or neglect for an unreasonable and unexplained length of time to do that which, by observance of
due diligence, could or should have been done earlier. It is negligence or omission to assert a right within a reasonable time,
warranting the presumption that the party entitled to assert his right either has abandoned or declined to assert it. Laches
thus operates as a bar in equity.
xxx
The time-honored rule anchored on public policy is that relief will be denied to a litigant whose claim or demand has become
stale, or who has acquiesced for an unreasonable length of time, or who has not been vigilant or who has slept on his rights
either by negligence, folly or inattention. In other words, public policy requires, for peace of society, the discouragement of
claims grown stale for non-assertion; thus laches is an impediment to the assertion or enforcement of a right which has
become, under the circumstances, inequitable or unfair to permit.
Pertinently, in De la Calzada-Cierras v. CA,[47] we ruled that a complaint to recover the title and possession of the lot filed 12
years after the registration of the sale is considered neglect for an unreasonably long time to assert a right to the property.
Here, petitioners' unreasonably long period of inaction in asserting their purported rights over the subject property weighs
heavily against them. We quote with approval the findings of the CA that:[48]
It was earlier shown that there existed a period of 17 years during which time Hernandez, Sr. xxx never even questioned the
defendants-appellants possession of the property; also there was another interval of 12 years after discovering that the TCT
of the property in the name of Hernandez, Sr. before the Heirs of Hernandez instituted an action for the reconveyance of the
title of the property.
xxx
The fact that the Mingoa's were able to take actual possession of the subject property for such a long period without any
form of cognizable protest from Hernandez, Sr. and the plaintiffs-appellees strongly calls for the application of the doctrine of
laches. It is common practice in the real estate industry, an ocular inspection of the premises involved is a safeguard to the
cautious and prudent purchaser usually takes, and should he find out that the land he intends to buy is occupied by anybody
else other than the seller who is not in actual possession, it could then be incumbent upon the purchaser to verify the extent
of the occupant's possessory rights. The plaintiffs-appellees asseverate that the award was made in favor of Hernandez, Sr.
in 1958; full payment made in 1963; and title issued in 1966. It would thus be contrary to ordinary human conduct (and
prudence dictates otherwise) for any awardee of real property not to visit and inspect even once, the property awarded to
him and find out if there are any transgressors in his property.
Furthermore, Hernandez, Sr.'s inaction during his lifetime lends more credence to the defendants-appellants assertion that
the said property was indeed sold by Hernandez, Sr. by way of the SPAs, albeit without the consent of his wife. xxx
In addition, the reasons of poverty and poor health submitted by the plaintiffs-appellees could not justify the 12 years of
delay in filing a complaint against the defendants-appellants. The records are bereft of any evidence to support the idea that
the plaintiffs-appellees diligently asserted their rights over the said property after having knowledge of the cancellation of the
TCT issued in Hernandez name. Moreover the Court seriously doubts the plausibility of this contention since what the
plaintiffs-appellees are trying to impress on this Court's mind is that they did not know anything at all except only shortly
before the death of Hernandez. To accept that not even the wife knew of the transactions made by Hernandez, Sr. nor
anything about the actual possession of the defendants-appellants for such a long period is to Us absurd if not fantastic.
In sum, the rights and interests of the spouses Hernandez over the subject property were validly transferred to respondent
Dolores Camisura. Since the sale of the conjugal property by Hernandez, Sr. was without the consent of his wife, Sergia, the
same is voidable; thus, binding unless annulled. Considering that Sergia failed to exercise her right to ask for the annulment
of the sale within the prescribed period, she is now barred from questioning the validity thereof. And more so, she is
precluded from assailing the validity of the subsequent transfers from Camisura to Plaridel Mingoa and from the latter to
Melanie Mingoa. Therefore, title to the subject property cannot anymore be reconveyed to the petitioners by reason of

30

prescription and laches. The issues of prescription and laches having been resolved, it is no longer necessary to discuss the
other issues raised in this petition.
WHEREFORE, the instant petition is DENIED and the assailed Decision dated September 7, 2000 and Resolution dated
December 29, 2000 of the Court of Appeals are hereby AFFIRMED.
Costs against the petitioners.
SO ORDERED.

Republic of the Philippines


Supreme Court
Manila
SECOND DIVISION
JOCELYN M. SUAZO,
Petitioner,
versus ANGELITO SUAZO and REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES,
Respondents.
G.R. No. 164493
Present:
CARPIO, J., Chairperson,
BRION,
DEL CASTILLO,
ABAD, and
PEREZ, JJ.
Promulgated:
March 10, 2010
x---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x
DECISION
BRION, J.:
We resolve the appeal filed by petitioner Jocelyn Suazo (Jocelyn) from the July 14, 2004 Decision of the Court of Appeals
(CA)[1] in CA-G.R. CV No. 62443, which reversed the January 29, 1999 judgment of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch

31

119, Pasay City in Civil Case No. 97-1282.[2] The reversed RTC decision nullified Jocelyns marriage with respondent
Angelito Suazo (Angelito) on the ground of psychological incapacity.
THE FACTS

Jocelyn and Angelito were 16 years old when they first met in June 1985; they were residents of Laguna at that time. After
months of courtship, Jocelyn went to Manila with Angelito and some friends. Having been gone for three days, their parents
sought Jocelyn and Angelito and after finding them, brought them back to Bian, Laguna. Soon thereafter, Jocelyn and
Angelitos marriage was arranged and they were married on March 3, 1986 in a ceremony officiated by the Mayor of Bian.
Without any means to support themselves, Jocelyn and Angelito lived with Angelitos parents after their marriage. They had
by this time stopped schooling. Jocelyn took odd jobs and worked for Angelitos relatives as household help. Angelito, on the
other hand, refused to work and was most of the time drunk. Jocelyn urged Angelito to find work and violent quarrels often
resulted because of Jocelyns efforts.
Jocelyn left Angelito sometime in July 1987. Angelito thereafter found another woman with whom he has since lived. They
now have children.
Ten years after their separation, or on October 8, 1997, Jocelyn filed with the RTC a petition for declaration of nullity of
marriage under Article 36 of the Family Code, as amended. She claimed that Angelito was psychologically incapacitated to
comply with the essential obligations of marriage. In addition to the above historical narrative of their relationship, she
alleged in her complaint:
xxxx
8. That from the time of their marriage up to their separation in July 1987, their relationship had been marred with bitter
quarrels which caused unbearable physical and emotional pains on the part of the plaintiff because defendant inflicted
physical injuries upon her every time they had a troublesome encounter;
9. That the main reason for their quarrel was always the refusal of the defendant to work or his indolence and his excessive
drinking which makes him psychologically incapacitated to perform his marital obligations making life unbearably bitter and
intolerable to the plaintiff causing their separation in fact in July 1987;
10. That such psychological incapacity of the defendant started from the time of their marriage and became very apparent as
time went and proves to be continuous, permanent and incurable;
xxxx
Angelito did not answer the petition/complaint. Neither did he submit himself to a psychological examination with
psychologist Nedy Tayag (who was presumably hired by Jocelyn).
The case proceeded to trial on the merits after the trial court found that no collusion existed between the parties. Jocelyn,
her aunt Maryjane Serrano, and the psychologist testified at the trial.
In her testimony, Jocelyn essentially repeated the allegations in her petition, including the alleged incidents of physical
beating she received from Angelito. On cross-examination, she remained firm on these declarations but significantly
declared that Angelito had not treated her violently before they were married.
Asst. Sol. Gen. Kim Briguera:
Q. Can you describe your relationship with the respondent before you got married?
A.

He always go (sic) to our house to court me.

Q. Since you cited violence, after celebration of marriage, will you describe his behavioural (sic) pattern before you got
married?
A. He show (sic) kindness, he always come (sic) to the house.
Q. So you cannot say his behavioral pattern composing of violent nature before you got married (sic), is there any signs (sic)
of violence?

32

A. None maam (sic), because we were not sweethearts.


Q. Even to other people?
A. He also quarrel (sic).[3]
Maryjane Serrano corroborated parts of Jocelyns testimony.
When the psychologist took the witness stand, she declared:
Q. What about the respondent, did you also make clinical interpretation of his behavior?
A. Apparently, the behavior and actuation of the respondent during the time of the marriage the respondent is suffering from
anti-social personality Disorder this is a serious and severe apparently incurable (sic). This disorder is chronic and longstanding before the marriage.
Q. And you based your interpretation on the report given by the petitioner?
A. Based on the psychological examination wherein there is no pattern of lying when I examined her, the petitioner was
found to be very responsive, coherent, relevant to marital relationship with respondent.
Q. And the last page of Exhibit E which is your report there is a statement rather on the last page, last paragraph which
state: It is the clinical opinion of the undersigned that marriage between the two, had already hit bottom rock (sic) even
before the actual celebration of marriage. Respondent(s) immature, irresponsible and callous emotionality practically harbors
(sic) the possibility of having blissful relationship. His general behavior fulfill(s) the diagnostic criteria for a person suffering
from Anti Social Personality Disorder. Such disorder is serious and severe and it interferred (sic) in his capacity to provide
love, caring, concern and responsibility to his family. The disorder is chronic and long-standing in proportion and appear(s)
incurable. The disorder was present at the time of the wedding and became manifest thereafter due to stresses and
pressure of married life. He apparently grew up in a dysfunctional family. Could you explain what does chronic mean?
A. Chronic is a clinical language which means incurable it has been there long before he entered marriage apparently, it
came during early developmental (sic) Basic trust was not develop (sic).
Q. And this long standing proportion (sic).
A. That no amount of psychological behavioral help to cure such because psychological disorder are not detrimental to men
but to others particularly and this (sic) because the person who have this kind of disorder do not know that they have this
kind of disorder.
Q. So in other words, permanent?
A. Permanent and incurable.
Q. You also said that this psychological disorder is present during the wedding or at the time of the wedding or became
manifest thereafter?
A. Yes, maam.
xxxx
Court:
Q. Is there a clinical findings (sic)?
A. That is the clinical findings. Personality Disorder labeled on Anti-Social Personality Disorder (sic).
Q. How was shown during the marriage (sic)?
A. The physical abuses on the petitioner also correlated without any employment exploitative and silent (sic) on the part of
the respondent is clearly Anti-Social Disorder.

33

Q. Do the respondent know that he has that kind of psychological disorder (sic)?
A. Usually a person suffering that psychological disorder will not admit that they are suffering that kind of disorder (sic).
Court:
Q. So because of this Anti-Social Disorder the petitioner suffers a lot (sic)?
A. Yes, because the petitioner is a victim of hardships of marital relation to the respondent (sic).
Court:
Q. Was the Anti-Social Personality Disorder also shown to the parents (sic)?
A. Yes, according to the petitioner, respondent never give due respect more often than not he even shouted at them for no
apparent reason (sic).
Court:
Q. Did you say Anti-Social Disorder incurable (sic)?
A. Yes, sir.
Court:
Q. Is there a physical violence (sic)?
A. Actually, I could see the petitioner is tortured mentally of the respondent (sic).
Court:
Q. How was the petitioner tortured?
A. She was able to counter-act by the time she was separated by the respondent (sic).
Court:
Q. Do you mean to tell us that Anti-Social disorder is incurable?
A. Yes, sir.
Court:
Q. Why did you know?
A. Anti-Social disorder is incurable again because the person itself, the respondent is not aware that this kind of personality
affect the other party (sic).
Court:
Q. This Anti-Social behavior is naturally affected the petitioner (sic)?
A. They do not have children because more often than not the respondent is under the influence of alcohol, they do not have
peaceful harmonious relationship during the less than one year and one thing what is significant, respondent allowed wife to
work as housemaid instead of he who should provide and the petitioner never receive and enjoy her earning for the five
months that she work and it is also the petitioner who took sustainance of the vices. (sic)
Q. And because of that Anti-Social disorder he had not shown love to the petitioner?

34

A. From the very start the respondent has no emotion to sustain the marital relationship but what he need is to sustain his
vices thru the petitioner (sic).
Court:
Q. What are the vices?
A. Alcohol and gambling.
Court:
Q. And this affected psychological incapacity to perform marital obligation?
A. Not only that up to this time from my clinical analysis of Anti-Social Personality Disorder, he is good for nothing person.[4]
The psychologist also identified the Psychological Report she prepared. The Report pertinently states:[5]
Report on the psychological condition of JOCELYN M. SUAZO, a petitioner for Nullity of Marriage versus ANGELITO D.
SUAZO
GENERAL DATA
[This pertains to Jocelyns]
BRIEF MARITAL HISTORY
xxxx
Husband is Angelito D. Suazo, 28 years old reached 3rd year high school, a part time tricycle driver, eldest among 4 siblings.
Father is a machine operator, described to be an alcoholic, womanizer and a heavy gambler. While mother is a sales agent.
It was a common knowledge within their vicinity that she was also involved in an illicit relationship. Familial relationship was
described to be stormy, chaotic whose bickering and squabbles were part and parcel of their day to day living.
TEST RESULTS AND EVALUATION
Projective data reveal an introvert person whose impulse life is adequately suppressed so much so that it does not create
inner tension and anxiety. She is fully equipped in terms of drives and motivation particularly in uplifting not, only her socioemotional image but was as her morale. She may be sensitive yet capable of containing the effect of such sensitiveness; in
order to remain in goodstead (sic) with her immediate environment.
She is pictured as a hard-working man (sic) who looks forward for a better future in spite of difficulties she had gone through
in the past. She is fully aware of external realities of life that she set simple life goals which is (sic) commensurate with her
capabilities and limitations. However, she needs to prioritize her interest in order to direct her energy toward specific goals.
Her tolerance for frustration appears to be at par with her coping mechanism that she is able to discharge negative trends
appropriately.
REMARKS :
[Already cited in full in the psychologists testimony quoted above][6]
The Office of the Solicitor General representing the Republic of the Philippines strongly opposed the petition for declaration
of nullity of the marriage. Through a Certification filed with the RTC, it argued that the psychologist failed to examine and test
Angelito; thus, what she said about him was purely hearsay.
THE RTC RULING
The RTC annulled the marriage under the following reasoning:

35

While there is no particular instance setforth (sic) in the law that a person may be considered as psychologically
incapacitated, there as (sic) some admitted grounds that would render a person to be unfit to comply with his marital
obligation, such as immaturity, i.e., lack of an effective sense of rational judgment and responsibility, otherwise peculiar to
infants (like refusal of the husband to support the family or excessive dependence on parents or peer group approval) and
habitual alcoholism, or the condition by which a person lives for the next drink and the next drinks (The Family Code of the
Phils, Alicia Sempio-Diy, p.39, 1988 ed.)
The evidence presented by the petitioner and the testimony of the petitioner and Dr. Tayag, points (sic) to one thing that the
petitioner failed to establish a harmonious family life with the respondent. On the contrary, the respondent has not shown
love and respect to the petitioner manifested by the formers being irresponsible, immature, jobless, gambler, drunkard and
worst of all a wife beater. The petitioner, unable to bear any longer the misbehavior and attitude of the respondent, decided,
after one year and four months of messy days, to leave the respondent.
In this regard, the petitioner was able to prove that right from the start of her married life with the respondent, she already
suffered from maltreatment, due to physical injuries inflicted upon her and that she was the one who worked as a housemaid
of a relative of her husband to sustain the latters niece (sic) and because they were living with her husbands family, she was
obliged to do the household chores an indication that she is a battered wife coupled with the fact that she served as a
servant in his (sic) husbands family.
This situation that the petitioner had underwent may be attributed to the fact that at the time of their marriage, she and her
husband are still young and was forced only to said marriage by her relatives. The petitioner and the respondent had never
developed the feeling of love and respect, instead, the respondent blamed the petitioners family for said early marriage and
not to his own liking.

Applying the principles and the requisites of psychological incapacity enunciated by this Court in Santos v. Court of Appeals,
[7] the RTC concluded:
The above findings of the psychologist [referring to the psychologist testimony quoted above] would only tend to show that
the respondent was, indeed, suffering from psychological incapacity which is not only grave but also incurable.
Likewise, applying the principles set forth in the case of Republic vs. Court of Appeals and Molina, 268 SCRA 198, wherein
the Supreme Court held that:
x x x x [At this point, the RTC cited the pertinent Molina ruling]
The Court is satisfied that the evidence presented and the testimony of the petitioner and Dr. Familiar (sic) [the psychologist
who testified in this case was Nedy Tayag, not a Dr. Familiar] attesting that there is psychological incapacity on the part of
the respondent to comply with the essential marital obligations has been sufficiently and clearly proven and, therefore,
petitioner is entitled to the relief prayed for.
A claim that the marriage is valid as there is no psychological incapacity of the respondent is a speculation and conjecture
and without moral certainty. This will enhanced (sic) a greater tragedy as the battered wife/petitioner will still be using the
surname of the respondent, although they are now separated, and a grim and sad reminder of her husband who made here
a slave and a punching bag during the short span of her marriage with him. The law on annulment should be liberally
construed in favor of an innocent suffering petitioner otherwise said law will be an instrument to protect persons with mental
illness like the serious anti-social behavior of herein respondent.[8]
THE CA RULING
The Republic appealed the RTC decision to the CA. The CA reversed the RTC decision, ruling that:
True, as stated in Marcos vs Marcos 343 SCRA 755, the guidelines set in Santos vs Court of Appeals and Republic vs Court
of Appeals do not require that a physician personally examine the person to be declared psychologically incapacitated. The
Supreme Court adopted the totality of evidence approach which allows the fact of psychological incapacity to be drawn from
evidence that medically or clinically identify the root causes of the illness. If the totality of the evidence is enough to sustain a
finding of psychological incapacity, then actual medical examination of the person concerned need not be resorted to.
Applied in Marcos, however, the aggregate testimony of the aggrieved spouse, children, relatives and the social worker were
not found to be sufficient to prove psychological incapacity, in the absence of any evaluation of the respondent himself, the
person whose mental and psychological capacity was in question.

36

In the case at bench, there is much scarcer evidence to hold that the respondent was psychologically incapable of entering
into the marriage state, that is, to assume the essential duties of marriage due to an underlying psychological illness. Only
the wife gave first-hand testimony on the behavior of the husband, and it is inconclusive. As observed by the Court in
Marcos, the respondent may have failed to provide material support to the family and has resorted to physical abuse, but it is
still necessary to show that they were manifestations of a deeper psychological malaise that was clinically or medically
identified. The theory of the psychologist that the respondent was suffering from an anti-social personality syndrome at the
time of the marriage was not the product of any adequate medical or clinical investigation. The evidence that she got from
the petitioner, anecdotal at best, could equally show that the behavior of the respondent was due simply to causes like
immaturity or irresponsibility which are not equivalent to psychological incapacity, Pesca vs Pesca 356 SCRA 588, or the
failure or refusal to work could have been the result of rebelliousness on the part of one who felt that he had been forced into
a loveless marriage. In any event, the respondent was not under a permanent compulsion because he had later on shown
his ability to engage in productive work and more stable relationships with another. The element of permanence or
incurability that is one of the defining characteristic of psychological incapacity is not present.
There is no doubt that for the short period that they were under the same roof, the married life of the petitioner with the
respondent was an unhappy one. But the marriage cannot for this reason be extinguished. As the Supreme Court intimates
in Pesca, our strict handling of Article 36 will be a reminder of the inviolability of the marriage institution in our country and
the foundation of the family that the law seeks to protect. The concept of psychological incapacity is not to be a mantra to
legalize what in reality are convenient excuses of parties to separate and divorce.

THE PETITION
Jocelyn now comes to us via the present petition to challenge and seek the reversal of the CA ruling based on the following
arguments:
1.
The Court of Appeals went beyond what the law says, as it totally disregarded the legal basis of the RTC in declaring
the marriage null and void Tuason v. Tuason (256 SCRA 158; to be accurate, should be Tuason v. Court of Appeals) holds
that the finding of the Trial Court as to the existence or non-existence of petitioners psychological incapacity at the time of
the marriage is final and binding on us (the Supreme Court); petitioner has not sufficiently shown that the trial courts factual
findings and evaluation of the testimonies of private respondents witnesses vis--vis petitioners defenses are clearly and
manifestly erroneous;
2.
Article 36 of the Family Code did not define psychological incapacity; this omission was intentional to give the courts a
wider discretion to interpret the term without being shackled by statutory parameters. Article 36 though was taken from
Canon 1095 of the New Code of Canon Law, which gives three conditions that would make a person unable to contract
marriage from mental incapacity as follows:
1095. They are incapable of contracting marriage:
(1) who lack the sufficient use of reason;
(2) who suffer from grave lack of discretion of judgment concerning essential matrimonial rights and duties which are to be
mutually given and accepted;
(3) who are not capable of assuming the essential obligations of matrimony due to causes of a psychic nature.
The decision of the RTC, Jocelyn claims, intelligently conforms to these criteria. The RTC, being clothed with discretionary
functions, applied its finding of psychological incapacity based on existing jurisprudence and the law itself which gave lower
court magistrates enough latitude to define what constitutes psychological incapacity. On the contrary, she further claims, the
OSG relied on generalities without being specific on why it is opposed to the dissolution of a marriage that actually exists
only in name.
Simply stated, we face the issue of whether there is basis to nullify Jocelyns marriage with Angelito under Article 36 of the
Family Code.
THE COURTS RULING
We find the petition devoid of merit. The CA committed no reversible error of law in setting aside the RTC decision, as no
basis exists to declare Jocelyns marriage with Angelito a nullity under Article 36 of the Family Code and its related
jurisprudence.

37

The Law, Molina and Te


Article 36 of the Family Code provides that a marriage contracted by any party who, at the time of the celebration, was
psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential marital obligations of marriage, shall likewise be void even if such
incapacity becomes manifest only after its solemnization.
A unique feature of this law is its intended open-ended application, as it merely introduced an abstract concept psychological
incapacity that disables compliance with the contractual obligations of marriage without any concrete definition or, at the very
least, an illustrative example. We must therefore apply the law based on how the concept of psychological incapacity was
shaped and developed in jurisprudence.
Santos v. Court of Appeals[9] declared that psychological incapacity must be characterized by (a) gravity; (b) juridical
antecedence; and (c) incurability. It should refer to no less than a mental (not physical) incapacity that causes a party to be
truly incognitive of the basic marital covenants that concomitantly must be assumed and discharged by the parties to the
marriage. It must be confined to the most serious cases of personality disorders clearly demonstrative of an utter insensitivity
or inability to give meaning and significance to the marriage.[10]
The Court laid down more definitive guidelines in the interpretation and application of the law in Republic v. Court of
Appeals[11] (Molina) 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.
The Family Code echoes this constitutional edict on marriage and the family and emphasizes their permanence, inviolability
and solidarity.
(2) The root cause of the psychological incapacity must be (a) medically or clinically identified, (b) alleged in the complaint,
(c) sufficiently proven by experts and (d) clearly explained in the decision. Article 36 of the Family Code requires that the
incapacity must be psychological - not physical, although its manifestations and/or symptoms may be physical. The evidence
must convince the court that the parties or one of them was mentally or psychically ill to such an extent that the person could
not have known the obligations he was assuming, or knowing them, could not have given valid assumption thereof.
Although no example of such incapacity need be given here so as not to limit the application of the provision under the
principle of ejusdem generis, nevertheless such root cause must be identified as a psychological illness and its
incapacitating nature fully explained. Expert evidence may be given by qualified psychiatrists and clinical psychologists.
(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. x x x
(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 x x x

38

(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.[12]
Molina, subsequent jurisprudence holds, merely expounded on the basic requirements of Santos.[13]
A later case, Marcos v. Marcos,[14] further clarified that there is no requirement that the defendant/respondent spouse
should be personally examined by a physician or psychologist as a condition sine qua non for the declaration of nullity of
marriage based on psychological incapacity. Accordingly, it is no longer necessary to introduce expert opinion in a petition
under Article 36 of the Family Code if the totality of evidence shows that psychological incapacity exists and its gravity,
juridical antecedence, and incurability can be duly established.[15]
Pesca v. Pesca[16] clarifies that the Molina guidelines apply even to cases then already pending, under the reasoning that
the courts interpretation or construction establishes the contemporaneous legislative intent of the law; the latter as so
interpreted and construed would thus constitute a part of that law as of the date the statute is enacted. It is only when a prior
ruling of this Court finds itself later overruled, and a different view is adopted, that the new doctrine may have to be applied
prospectively in favor of parties who have relied on the old doctrine and have acted in good faith in accordance therewith
under the familiar rule of lex prospicit, non respicit.
On March 15, 2003, the Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages and Annulment of Voidable Marriages
(A.M. No. 08-11-10 SC, Rules) promulgated by the Court took effect. Section 2(d) of the Rules pertinently provides:
(d) What to allege. A petition under Article 36 of the Family Code shall specifically allege the complete facts showing that
either or both parties were psychologically incapacitated from complying with the essential marital obligations of marriage at
the time of the celebration of marriage even if such incapacity becomes manifest only after its celebration.
The complete facts should allege the physical manifestations, if any, as are indicative of psychological incapacity at the time
of the celebration of the marriage but expert opinion need not be alleged.

Section 12(d) of the Rules requires a pre-trial brief containing all the evidence presented, including expert opinion, if any,
briefly stating or describing the nature and purpose of these pieces of evidence. Section 14(b) requires the court to consider
during the pre-trial conference the advisability of receiving expert testimony and such other matters as may aid in the prompt
disposition of the petition. Under Section 17 of the Rules, the grounds for the declaration of the absolute nullity or annulment
of marriage must be proved.
All cases involving the application of Article 36 of the Family Code that came to us were invariably decided based on the
principles in the cited cases. This was the state of law and jurisprudence on Article 36 when the Court decided Te v. YuTe[17] (Te) which revisited the Molina guidelines.
Te begins with the observation that the Committee that drafted the Family Code did not give any examples of psychological
incapacity for fear that by so doing, it would limit the applicability of the provision under the principle of ejusdem generis; that
the Committee desired that the courts should interpret the provision on a case-to-case basis, guided by experience, by the
findings of experts and researchers in psychological disciplines, and by decisions of church tribunals that, although not
binding on the civil courts, may be given persuasive effect since the provision itself was taken from the Canon Law.[18] Te
thus assumes it a basic premise that the law is so designed to allow some resiliency in its application.[19]
Te then sustained Santos doctrinal value, saying that its interpretation is consistent with that of the Canon Law.

Going back to its basic premise, Te said:


Conscious of the laws intention that it is the courts, on a case-to-case basis, that should determine whether a party to a
marriage is psychologically incapacitated, the Court, in sustaining the lower courts judgment of annulment in Tuason v. Court
of Appeals, ruled that the findings of the trial court are final and binding on the appellate courts.
Again, upholding the trial courts findings and declaring that its decision was not a judgment on the pleadings, the Court, in
Tsoi v. Court of Appeals, explained that when private respondent testified under oath before the lower court and was cross-

39

examined by the adverse party, she thereby presented evidence in the form of testimony. Importantly, the Court, aware of
parallel decisions of Catholic marriage tribunals, ruled that the senseless and protracted refusal of one of the parties to fulfill
the marital obligation of procreating children is equivalent to psychological incapacity.
With this as backdrop, Te launched an attack on Molina. It said that the resiliency with which the concept should be applied
and the case-to-case basis by which the provision should be interpreted, as so intended by its framers, had, somehow, been
rendered ineffectual by the imposition of a set of strict standards in Molina. Molina, to Te, has become a strait-jacket, forcing
all sizes to fit into and be bound by it; wittingly or unwittingly, the Court, in conveniently applying Molina, has allowed
diagnosed sociopaths, schizophrenics, nymphomaniacs, narcissists and the like, to continuously debase and pervert the
sanctity of marriage.
Te then enunciated the principle that each case must be judged, not on the basis of a priori assumptions, predilections or
generalizations, but according to its own facts. Courts should interpret the provision on a case-to-case basis, guided by
experience, the findings of experts and researchers in psychological disciplines, and by decisions of church tribunals.
As a final note though, Te expressly stated that it is not suggesting the abandonment of Molina, but that, following Antonio v.
Reyes, it merely looked at other perspectives that should also govern the disposition of petitions for declaration of nullity
under Article 36. The subsequent Ting v. Velez-Ting[20] follows Tes lead when it reiterated that Te did not abandon Molina;
far from abandoning Molina, it simply suggested the relaxation of its stringent requirements, cognizant of the explanation
given by the Committee on the Revision of the Rules on the rationale of the Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void
Marriages and Annulment of Voidable Marriages:[21]
To require the petitioner to allege in the petition the particular root cause of the psychological incapacity and to attach thereto
the verified written report of an accredited psychologist or psychiatrist have proved to be too expensive for the parties. They
adversely affect access to justice of poor litigants. It is also a fact that there are provinces where these experts are not
available. Thus, the Committee deemed it necessary to relax this stringent requirement enunciated in the Molina Case. The
need for the examination of a party or parties by a psychiatrist or clinical psychologist and the presentation of psychiatric
experts shall now be determined by the court during the pre-trial conference.

Te, therefore, instead of substantially departing from Molina,[22] merely stands for a more flexible approach in considering
petitions for declaration of nullity of marriages based on psychological incapacity. It is also noteworthy for its evidentiary
approach in these cases, which it expounded on as follows:
By the very nature of Article 36, courts, despite having the primary task and burden of decision-making, must not discount
but, instead, must consider as decisive evidence the expert opinion on the psychological and mental temperaments of the
parties.
xxxx
Hernandez v. Court of Appeals emphasizes the importance of presenting expert testimony to establish the precise cause of a
partys psychological incapacity, and to show that it existed at the inception of the marriage. And as Marcos v. Marcos
asserts, there is no requirement that the person to be declared psychologically incapacitated be personally examined by a
physician, if the totality of evidence presented is enough to sustain a finding of psychological incapacity. Verily, the evidence
must show a link, medical or the like, between the acts that manifest psychological incapacity and the psychological disorder
itself.
This is not to mention, but we mention nevertheless for emphasis, that the presentation of expert proof presupposes a
thorough and in-depth assessment of the parties by the psychologist or expert, for a conclusive diagnosis of a grave, severe
and incurable presence of psychological incapacity.[23] [Underscoring supplied]
This evidentiary approach is repeated in Ting v. Velez-Ting.[24]
Under this evolutionary development, as shown by the current string of cases on Article 36 of the Family Code, what should
not be lost on us is the intention of the law to confine the application of Article 36 to the most serious cases of personality
disorders, clearly demonstrative of an utter insensitivity or inability to give meaning and significance to the marriage; that the
psychological illness that must have afflicted a party at the inception of the marriage should be a malady so grave and
permanent as to deprive one of awareness of the duties and responsibilities of the matrimonial bond he or she is about to
assume.[25] It is not enough that the respondent, alleged to be psychologically incapacitated, had difficulty in complying with
his marital obligations, or was unwilling to perform these obligations. Proof of a natal or supervening disabling factor an
adverse integral element in the respondents personality structure that effectively incapacitated him from complying with his
essential marital obligations must be shown.[26] Mere difficulty, refusal or neglect in the performance of marital obligations or

40

ill will on the part of the spouse is different from incapacity rooted in some debilitating psychological condition or illness;
irreconcilable differences, sexual infidelity or perversion, emotional immaturity and irresponsibility and the like, do not by
themselves warrant a finding of psychological incapacity under Article 36, as the same may only be due to a persons refusal
or unwillingness to assume the essential obligations of marriage.[27]
If all these sound familiar, they do, for they are but iterations of Santos juridical antecedence, gravity and incurability
requisites. This is proof of Santos continuing doctrinal validity.
The Present Case
As the CA did, we find Jocelyns evidence insufficient to establish Angelitos psychological incapacity to perform essential
marital obligations. We so conclude based on our own examination of the evidence on record, which we were compelled to
undertake because of the differences in the trial court and the appellate courts appreciation and evaluation of Jocelyns
presented evidence.
a.

The Expert Opinion Evidence

Both the psychologists testimony and the psychological report did not conclusively show the root cause, gravity and
incurability of Angelitos alleged psychological condition.
We first note a critical factor in appreciating or evaluating the expert opinion evidence the psychologists testimony and the
psychological evaluation report that Jocelyn presented. Based on her declarations in open court, the psychologist evaluated
Angelitos psychological condition only in an indirect manner she derived all her conclusions from information coming from
Jocelyn whose bias for her cause cannot of course be doubted. Given the source of the information upon which the
psychologist heavily relied upon, the court must evaluate the evidentiary worth of the opinion with due care and with the
application of the more rigid and stringent set of standards outlined above, i.e., that there must be a thorough and in-depth
assessment of the parties by the psychologist or expert, for a conclusive diagnosis of a psychological incapacity that is
grave, severe and incurable.
In saying this, we do not suggest that a personal examination of the party alleged to be psychologically incapacitated is
mandatory; jurisprudence holds that this type of examination is not a mandatory requirement. While such examination is
desirable, we recognize that it may not be practical in all instances given the oftentimes estranged relations between the
parties. For a determination though of a partys complete personality profile, information coming from persons intimately
related to him (such as the partys close relatives and friends) may be helpful. This is an approach in the application of Article
36 that allows flexibility, at the same time that it avoids, if not totally obliterate, the credibility gaps spawned by supposedly
expert opinion based entirely on doubtful sources of information.
From these perspectives, we conclude that the psych`ologist, using meager information coming from a directly interested
party, could not have secured a complete personality profile and could not have conclusively formed an objective opinion or
diagnosis of Angelitos psychological condition. While the report or evaluation may be conclusive with respect to Jocelyns
psychological condition, this is not true for Angelitos. The methodology employed simply cannot satisfy the required depth
and comprehensiveness of examination required to evaluate a party alleged to be suffering from a psychological disorder. In
short, this is not the psychological report that the Court can rely on as basis for the conclusion that psychological incapacity
exists.
Other than this credibility or reliability gap, both the psychologists report and testimony simply provided a general description
of Angelitos purported anti-social personality disorder, supported by the characterization of this disorder as chronic, grave
and incurable. The psychologist was conspicuously silent, however, on the bases for her conclusion or the particulars that
gave rise to the characterization she gave. These particulars are simply not in the Report, and neither can they be found in
her testimony.
For instance, the psychologist testified that Angelitos personality disorder is chronic or incurable; Angelito has long been
afflicted with the disorder prior to his marriage with Jocelyn or even during his early developmental stage, as basic trust was
not developed. However, she did not support this declaration with any factual basis. In her Report, she based her conclusion
on the presumption that Angelito apparently grew up in a dysfunctional family. Quite noticeable, though, is the psychologists
own equivocation on this point she was not firm in her conclusion for she herself may have realized that it was simply
conjectural. The veracity, too, of this finding is highly suspect, for it was based entirely on Jocelyns assumed knowledge of
Angelitos family background and upbringing.

41

Additionally, the psychologist merely generalized on the questions of why and to what extent was Angelitos personality
disorder grave and incurable, and on the effects of the disorder on Angelitos awareness of and his capability to undertake
the duties and responsibilities of marriage.
The psychologist therefore failed to provide the answers to the more important concerns or requisites of psychological
incapacity, all of which are critical to the success of Jocelyns cause.
b.

Jocelyns Testimony

The inadequacy and/or lack of probative value of the psychological report and the psychologists testimony impel us to
proceed to the evaluation of Jocelyns testimony, to find out whether she provided the court with sufficient facts to support a
finding of Angelitos psychological incapacity.
Unfortunately, we find Jocelyns testimony to be insufficient. Jocelyn merely testified on Angelitos habitual drunkenness,
gambling, refusal to seek employment and the physical beatings she received from him all of which occurred after the
marriage. Significantly, she declared in her testimony that Angelito showed no signs of violent behavior, assuming this to be
indicative of a personality disorder, during the courtship stage or at the earliest stages of her relationship with him. She
testified on the alleged physical beatings after the marriage, not before or at the time of the celebration of the marriage. She
did not clarify when these beatings exactly took place whether it was near or at the time of celebration of the marriage or
months or years after. This is a clear evidentiary gap that materially affects her cause, as the law and its related
jurisprudence require that the psychological incapacity must exist at the time of the celebration of the marriage.
Habitual drunkenness, gambling and refusal to find a job, while indicative of psychological incapacity, do not, by themselves,
show psychological incapacity. All these simply indicate difficulty, neglect or mere refusal to perform marital obligations that,
as the cited jurisprudence holds, cannot be considered to be constitutive of psychological incapacity in the absence of proof
that these are manifestations of an incapacity rooted in some debilitating psychological condition or illness.
The physical violence allegedly inflicted on Jocelyn deserves a different treatment. While we may concede that physical
violence on women indicates abnormal behavioral or personality patterns, such violence, standing alone, does not constitute
psychological incapacity. Jurisprudence holds that there must be evidence showing a link, medical or the like, between the
acts that manifest psychological incapacity and the psychological disorder itself. The evidence of this nexus is irretrievably
lost in the present case under our finding that the opinion of the psychologist cannot be relied upon. Even assuming,
therefore, that Jocelyns account of the physical beatings she received from Angelito were true, this evidence does not satisfy
the requirement of Article 36 and its related jurisprudence, specifically the Santos requisites.
On the whole, the CA correctly reversed the RTC judgment, whose factual bases we now find to be clearly and manifestly
erroneous. Our ruling in Tuason recognizing the finality of the factual findings of the trial court in Article 36 cases (which is
Jocelyns main anchor in her present appeal with us) does not therefore apply in this case. We find that, on the contrary, the
CA correctly applied Article 36 and its related jurisprudence to the facts and the evidence of the present case.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, we DENY the petition for lack of merit. We AFFIRM the appealed Decision of the Court
of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 62443. Costs against the petitioner.
-SO ORDERED.

42

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
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;

43

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.

44

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.

There is no hope for the marriage?

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.

Neither are they psychologically unfit for their professions?

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.

45

(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 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. 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.
Narvasa, C.J., Davide, Jr., Bellosillo, Melo, Puno Francisco, Hermosisima, Jr., and Torres, Jr., JJ., concur.
Regalado, Kapunan and Mendoza, JJ., concurs in the result.

46

SECOND DIVISION
[G.R. No. 133895. October 2, 2001]
ZENAIDA M. SANTOS, petitioner, vs. CALIXTO SANTOS, ALBERTO SANTOS, ROSA SANTOS-CARREON and ANTONIO
SANTOS, respondents.
DECISION
QUISUMBING, J.:
This petition for review[1] seeks to annul and set aside the decision dated March 10, 1998 of the Court of Appeals that
affirmed the decision of the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 48, dated March 17, 1993. Petitioner also seeks to annul
the resolution that denied her motion for reconsideration.
Petitioner Zenaida M. Santos is the widow of Salvador Santos, a brother of private respondents Calixto, Alberto, Antonio, all
surnamed Santos and Rosa Santos-Carreon.
The spouses Jesus and Rosalia Santos owned a parcel of land registered under TCT No. 27571 with an area of 154 square
meters, located at Sta. Cruz Manila. On it was a four-door apartment administered by Rosalia who rented them out. The
spouses had five children, Salvador, Calixto, Alberto, Antonio and Rosa.
On January 19, 1959, Jesus and Rosalia executed a deed of sale of the properties in favor of their children Salvador and
Rosa. TCT No. 27571 became TCT No. 60819. Rosa in turn sold her share to Salvador on November 20, 1973 which
resulted in the issuance of a new TCT No. 113221. Despite the transfer of the property to Salvador, Rosalia continued to
lease and receive rentals from the apartment units.
On November 1, 1979, Jesus died. Six years after or on January 9, 1985, Salvador died, followed by Rosalia who died the
following month. Shortly after, petitioner Zenaida, claiming to be Salvadors heir, demanded the rent from Antonio
Hombrebueno,[2] a tenant of Rosalia. When the latter refused to pay, Zenaida filed an ejectment suit against him with the
Metropolitan Trial Court of Manila, Branch 24, which eventually decided in Zenaidas favor.
On January 5, 1989, private respondents instituted an action for reconveyance of property with preliminary injunction against
petitioner in the Regional Trial Court of Manila, where they alleged that the two deeds of sale executed on January 19, 1959
and November 20, 1973 were simulated for lack of consideration. They were executed to accommodate Salvador in
generating funds for his business ventures and providing him with greater business flexibility.
In her Answer, Zenaida denied the material allegations in the complaint and as special and affirmative defenses, argued that
Salvador was the registered owner of the property, which could only be subjected to encumbrances or liens annotated on the
title; that the respondents right to reconveyance was already barred by prescription and laches; and that the complaint stated
no cause of action.
On March 17, 1993, the trial court decided in private respondents favor, thus:
WHEREFORE, viewed from all the foregoing considerations, judgment is hereby made in favor of the plaintiffs and against
the defendants:
a) Declaring Exh. B, the deed of sale executed by Rosalia Santos and Jesus Santos on January 19, 1959, as entirely null
and void for being fictitious or simulated and inexistent and without any legal force and effect;
b) Declaring Exh. D, the deed of sale executed by Rosa Santos in favor of Salvador Santos on November 20, 1973, also as
entirely null and void for being likewise fictitious or simulated and inexistent and without any legal force and effect;
c) Directing the Register of Deeds of Manila to cancel Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-113221 registered in the name of
Salvador Santos, as well as, Transfer Certificate of Title No. 60819 in the names of Salvador Santos, Rosa Santos, and
consequently thereafter, reinstating with the same legal force and effect as if the same was not cancelled, and which shall in

47

all respects be entitled to like faith and credit; Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-27571 registered in the name of Rosalia A.
Santos, married to Jesus Santos, the same to be partitioned by the heirs of the said registered owners in accordance with
law; and
d) Making the injunction issued in this case permanent.
Without pronouncement as to costs.
SO ORDERED.[3]
The trial court reasoned that notwithstanding the deeds of sale transferring the property to Salvador, the spouses Rosalia
and Jesus continued to possess the property and to exercise rights of ownership not only by receiving the monthly rentals,
but also by paying the realty taxes. Also, Rosalia kept the owners duplicate copy of the title even after it was already in the
name of Salvador. Further, the spouses had no compelling reason in 1959 to sell the property and Salvador was not
financially capable to purchase it. The deeds of sale were therefore fictitious. Hence, the action to assail the same does not
prescribe.[4]
Upon appeal, the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial courts decision dated March 10, 1998. It held that in order for the
execution of a public instrument to effect tradition, as provided in Article 1498 of the Civil Code,[5] the vendor shall have had
control over the thing sold, at the moment of sale. It was not enough to confer upon the purchaser the ownership and the
right of possession. The thing sold must be placed in his control. The subject deeds of sale did not confer upon Salvador the
ownership over the subject property, because even after the sale, the original vendors remained in dominion, control, and
possession thereof. The appellate court further said that if the reason for Salvadors failure to control and possess the
property was due to his acquiescence to his mother, in deference to Filipino custom, petitioner, at least, should have shown
evidence to prove that her husband declared the property for tax purposes in his name or paid the land taxes, acts which
strongly indicate control and possession. The appellate court disposed:
WHEREFORE, finding no reversible error in the decision appealed from, the same is hereby AFFIRMED. No pronouncement
as to costs.
SO ORDERED.[6]
Hence, this petition where petitioner avers that the Court of Appeals erred in:
I.
...HOLDING THAT THE OWNERSHIP OVER THE LITIGATED PROPERTY BY THE LATE HUSBAND OF DEFENDANTAPPELLANT WAS AFFECTED BY HIS FAILURE TO EXERCISE CERTAIN ATTRIBUTES OF OWNERSHIP.
II
...HOLDING THAT DUE EXECUTION OF A PUBLIC INSTRUMENT IS NOT EQUIVALENT TO DELIVERY OF THE LAND IN
DISPUTE.
III
...NOT FINDING THAT THE CAUSE OF ACTION OF ROSALIA SANTOS HAD PRESCRIBED AND/OR BARRED BY
LACHES.
IV
...IGNORING PETITIONERS ALLEGATION TO THE EFFECT THAT PLAINTIFF DR. ROSA [S.] CARREON IS NOT
DISQUALIFIED TO TESTIFY AS TO THE QUESTIONED DEEDS OF SALE CONSIDERING THAT SALVADOR SANTOS
HAS LONG BEEN DEAD.[7]
In this petition, we are asked to resolve the following:
1. Are payments of realty taxes and retention of possession indications of continued ownership by the original owners?
2. Is a sale through a public instrument tantamount to delivery of the thing sold?
3. Did the cause of action of Rosalia Santos and her heirs prescribe?
4. Can petitioner invoke the Dead Mans Statute?[8]

48

On the first issue, petitioner contends that the Court of Appeals erred in holding that despite the deeds of sale in Salvadors
favor, Jesus and Rosalia still owned the property because the spouses continued to pay the realty taxes and possess the
property. She argues that tax declarations are not conclusive evidence of ownership when not supported by evidence. She
avers that Salvador allowed his mother to possess the property out of respect to her in accordance with Filipino values.
It is true that neither tax receipts nor declarations of ownership for taxation purposes constitute sufficient proof of ownership.
They must be supported by other effective proofs.[9] These requisite proofs we find present in this case. As admitted by
petitioner, despite the sale, Jesus and Rosalia continued to possess and administer the property and enjoy its fruits by
leasing it to third persons.[10] Both Rosa and Salvador did not exercise any right of ownership over it.[11] Before the second
deed of sale to transfer her 1/2 share over the property was executed by Rosa, Salvador still sought the permission of his
mother.[12] Further, after Salvador registered the property in his name, he surrendered the title to his mother.[13] These are
clear indications that ownership still remained with the original owners. In Serrano vs. CA, 139 SCRA 179, 189 (1985), we
held that the continued collection of rentals from the tenants by the seller of realty after execution of alleged deed of sale is
contrary to the notion of ownership.
Petitioner argues that Salvador, in allowing her mother to use the property even after the sale, did so out of respect for her
and out of generosity, a factual matter beyond the province of this Court.[14] Significantly, in Alcos vs. IAC, 162 SCRA 823,
837 (1988), we noted that the buyers immediate possession and occupation of the property corroborated the truthfulness
and authenticity of the deed of sale. Conversely, the vendors continued possession of the property makes dubious the
contract of sale between the parties.
On the second issue, is a sale through a public instrument tantamount to delivery of the thing sold? Petitioner in her
memorandum invokes Article 1477[15] of the Civil Code which provides that ownership of the thing sold is transferred to the
vendee upon its actual or constructive delivery. Article 1498, in turn, provides that when the sale is made through a public
instrument, its execution is equivalent to the delivery of the thing subject of the contract. Petitioner avers that applying said
provisions to the case, Salvador became the owner of the subject property by virtue of the two deeds of sale executed in his
favor.
Nowhere in the Civil Code, however, does it provide that execution of a deed of sale is a conclusive presumption of delivery
of possession. The Code merely said that the execution shall be equivalent to delivery. The presumption can be rebutted by
clear and convincing evidence.[16] Presumptive delivery can be negated by the failure of the vendee to take actual
possession of the land sold.[17]
In Danguilan vs. IAC, 168 SCRA 22, 32 (1988), we held that for the execution of a public instrument to effect tradition, the
purchaser must be placed in control of the thing sold. When there is no impediment to prevent the thing sold from converting
to tenancy of the purchaser by the sole will of the vendor, symbolic delivery through the execution of a public instrument is
sufficient. But if, notwithstanding the execution of the instrument, the purchaser cannot have the enjoyment and material
tenancy nor make use of it himself or through another in his name, then delivery has not been effected.
As found by both the trial and appellate courts and amply supported by the evidence on record, Salvador was never placed
in control of the property. The original sellers retained their control and possession. Therefore, there was no real transfer of
ownership.
Moreover, in Norkis Distributors, Inc. vs. CA, 193 SCRA 694, 698-699 (1991), citing the land case of Abuan vs. Garcia, 14
SCRA 759 (1965), we held that the critical factor in the different modes of effecting delivery, which gives legal effect to the
act is the actual intention of the vendor to deliver, and its acceptance by the vendee. Without that intention, there is no
tradition. In the instant case, although the spouses Jesus and Rosalia executed a deed of sale, they did not deliver the
possession and ownership of the property to Salvador and Rosa. They agreed to execute a deed of sale merely to
accommodate Salvador to enable him to generate funds for his business venture.
On the third issue, petitioner argues that from the date of the sale from Rosa to Salvador on November 20, 1973, up to his
death on January 9, 1985, more or less twelve years had lapsed, and from his death up to the filing of the case for
reconveyance in the court a quo on January 5, 1989, four years had lapsed. In other words, it took respondents about
sixteen years to file the case below. Petitioner argues that an action to annul a contract for lack of consideration prescribes in
ten years and even assuming that the cause of action has not prescribed, respondents are guilty of laches for their inaction
for a long period of time.
Has respondents cause of action prescribed? In Lacsamana vs. CA, 288 SCRA 287, 292 (1998), we held that the right to file
an action for reconveyance on the ground that the certificate of title was obtained by means of a fictitious deed of sale is
virtually an action for the declaration of its nullity, which does not prescribe. This applies squarely to the present case. The
complaint filed by respondents in the court a quo was for the reconveyance of the subject property to the estate of Rosalia
since the deeds of sale were simulated and fictitious. The complaint amounts to a declaration of nullity of a void contract,
which is imprescriptible. Hence, respondents cause of action has not prescribed.

49

Neither is their action barred by laches. The elements of laches are: 1) conduct on the part of the defendant, or of one under
whom he claims, giving rise to the situation of which the complaint seeks a remedy; 2) delay in asserting the complainants
rights, the complainant having had knowledge or notice of the defendants conduct as having been afforded an opportunity to
institute a suit; 3) lack of knowledge or notice on the part of the defendant that the complainant would assert the right in
which he bases his suit; and 4) injury or prejudice to the defendant in the event relief is accorded to the complainant, or the
suit is not held barred.[18] These elements must all be proved positively. The conduct which caused the complaint in the
court a quo was petitioners assertion of right of ownership as heir of Salvador. This started in December 1985 when
petitioner demanded payment of the lease rentals from Antonio Hombrebueno, the tenant of the apartment units. From
December 1985 up to the filing of the complaint for reconveyance on January 5, 1989, only less than four years had lapsed
which we do not think is unreasonable delay sufficient to bar respondents cause of action. We likewise find the fourth
element lacking. Neither petitioner nor her husband made considerable investments on the property from the time it was
allegedly transferred to the latter. They also did not enter into transactions involving the property since they did not claim
ownership of it until December 1985. Petitioner stood to lose nothing. As we held in the same case of Lacsamana vs. CA,
cited above, the concept of laches is not concerned with the lapse of time but only with the effect of unreasonable lapse. In
this case, the alleged 16 years of respondents inaction has no adverse effect on the petitioner to make respondents guilty of
laches.
Lastly, petitioner in her memorandum seeks to expunge the testimony of Rosa Santos-Carreon before the trial court in view
of Sec. 23, Rule 130 of the Revised Rules of Court, otherwise known as the Dead Mans Statute.[19] It is too late for
petitioner, however, to invoke said rule. The trial court in its order dated February 5, 1990, denied petitioners motion to
disqualify respondent Rosa as a witness. Petitioner did not appeal therefrom. Trial ensued and Rosa testified as a witness
for respondents and was cross-examined by petitioners counsel. By her failure to appeal from the order allowing Rosa to
testify, she waived her right to invoke the dead mans statute. Further, her counsel cross-examined Rosa on matters that
occurred during Salvadors lifetime. In Goi vs. CA, 144 SCRA 222, 231 (1986), we held that protection under the dead mans
statute is effectively waived when a counsel for a petitioner cross-examines a private respondent on matters occurring during
the deceaseds lifetime. The Court of Appeals cannot be faulted in ignoring petitioner on Rosas disqualification.
WHEREFORE, the instant petition is DENIED. The assailed decision dated March 10, 1998 of the Court of Appeals, which
sustained the judgment of the Regional Trial Court dated March 17, 1993, in favor of herein private respondents, is
AFFIRMED. Costs against petitioner.
SO ORDERED.

50

THIRD DIVISION
[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. A1). 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

51

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:

52

"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 Code[9] 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.
xxxxxxxxx
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.

53

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.
xxxxxxxxx
(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.
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.

54

FIRST DIVISION
[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. Ncmmis
DECISION
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 fathers 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 petitioners 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
fathers death.[1]
Thus, the lower court ruled that petitioners should have filed the action to declare null and void their fathers 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. Scnc m
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 petitioners 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 States
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]

55

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 applicants 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. Sdaa miso
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 any time 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:
Article 63: "x x x. This notice shall request all persons having knowledge of any impediment to the marriage to advice the
local civil registrar thereof. x x x."
Article 64: "Upon being advised of any alleged impediment to the marriage, the local civil registrar shall forthwith make an
investigation, examining persons under oath. x x x" Sdaad
This is reiterated in the Family Code thus:
Article 17 provides in part: "x x x. This notice shall request all persons having knowledge of any impediment to the marriage
to advise the local civil registrar thereof. x x x."
Article 18 reads in part: "x x x. 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. x x x."
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 respondents 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 Pepitos 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

56

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". Scs daad
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 fathers marriage void
after his death?
Contrary to respondent judges 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 any time 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. Sup rema
Contrary to the trial courts ruling, the death of petitioners 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. Juris
However, other than for purposes of remarriage, no judicial action is necessary to declare a marriage an absolute nullity. 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.

57

SO ORDERED.

Manila
SECOND DIVISION
FELICIANO FRANCISCO,
Petitioner,
G. R. No. L-57438
January 3, 1984
-versusHON. COURT OF APPEALS
and PELAGIO FRANCISCO,
Respondents.

RESOLUTION
GUERRERO, J.:
chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
This Petition for Review on Certiorari seeks the annulment of the Decision and Resolution of the defunct Court of Appeals,
now Intermediate Appellate Court, dated April 27, 1981 and June 26, 1981, respectively, dismissing the Petition for Certiorari
filed by petitioner Feliciano Francisco docketed as CA-G. R. No. 12172 entitled "Feliciano Francisco versus Judge Jesus R.
De Vega and Pelagio Francisco". In the said Petition for Certiorari, petitioner Feliciano Francisco challenged the validity of
the Order of the Court of First Instance of Bulacan, Fifth Judicial District, Branch II, now Regional Trial Court, granting
execution pending appeal of its Decision by relieving petitioner Feliciano Francisco as guardian of incompetent Estefania
San Pedro and appointing respondent herein, Pelagio Francisco, in his instead.
The antecedent facts as recited in the appealed decision of the Court of Appeals showed that:
Petitioner is the duly appointed guardian of the incompetent Estefania San Pedro in Special Proceedings No. 532 of the
Court of First Instance of Bulacan presided over by respondent Judge. On August 30, 1974 respondent Pelagio Francisco,
claiming to be a first cousin of Estefania San Pedro, together with two others, said to be nieces of the incompetent,
petitioned the court for the removal of petitioner and for the appointment in his stead of respondent Pelagio Francisco.
Among other grounds, the petition was based on the failure of the guardian to submit an inventory of the estate of his ward
and to render an accounting.cralaw
It would seem that petitioner subsequently rendered an accounting but failed to submit an inventory, for which reason, the
court on March 20, 1975 gave petitioner ten [10] days within which to do so, otherwise he would be removed from
guardianship. Petitioner thereafter submitted an inventory to which respondent Pelagio Francisco filed an objection on the
ground that petitioner actually received P14,000.00 for the sale of a residential land and not P12,000.00 only as stated in the
deed of sale and reported by him in his inventory. The respondent Judge found the claim to be true, and in his order of April
17, 1980, relieved the petitioner as guardian.cralaw
On motion of petitioner, however, the respondent Judge reconsidered his finding, relying on the deed of sale as the best
evidence of the price paid for the sale of the land. In his Order dated September 12, 1980, respondent judge acknowledged
that his finding was "rather harsh and somewhat unfair to the said guardian." Nevertheless, respondent Judge ordered the
retirement of petitioner on the ground of old age. The order states in part as follows:
"Considering the rather advanced age of the present guardian, this Court is inclined and so decrees, that he should
nevertheless be, as he is hereby, retired to take effect upon the appointment by this court and the assumption of office of his
replacement, who shall be taken from the recommendees of the parties herein. For this purpose, the present guardian is
hereby given twenty [20] days from receipt of a copy of this order within which to submit his proposal for a replacement for
himself and to comment on petitioner's recommendee and the latter, a like period within which to comment on the present
guardian's proposed substitute after which, the matter will be deemed submitted for resolution and final action by the court.
SO ORDERED."
Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration contending that he was only 72 years of age and still fit to continue with the
management of the estate of his ward as he had done with zeal for the past twelve years. In an order dated November 13,
1980, the court denied his motion. Accordingly, on December 17, 1980, petitioner filed a notice of appeal from the order
issued by the court on November 13, 1980 and paid the appeal bond. On February 2, 1981 he filed the record on appeal. [1]

58

Meanwhile, on January 27, 1981, the court, on motion of private respondent, required petitioner to submit within three days
his nomination for guardian of Estefania San Pedro as required in its order of September 12, 1980. In issuing the order, the
court stated that an indefinite discontinuance in office would defeat the intent and purpose of the said order of September 12,
1980 relieving the present guardian. Petitioner's motion for reconsideration was denied. Hence, this petition. [referring to
CA-G. R. No. SP-1217]."
On December 5, 1980, before the appeal was perfected, Pelagio Francisco filed an "Omnibus Motion" with the Court a quo
with the prayer [1] to restrain guardian from exercising office; [2] order guardian to surrender to court all properties of the
ward; and [3] appoint new guardian. [2] Petitioner, on December 9, 1980, filed his opposition to the omnibus motion
claiming that the same was premature. [3] The trial court, however, disregarded the opposition and required petitioner on
January 27, 1981, to submit within three [3] days his nomination for guardian of Estefania San Pedro as required in its order
of September 12, 1980, the court holding that "an indefinite continuance in office would defeat the intent and purpose of the
said order of September 12, 1980, relieving the present guardian." [4]
Petitioner moved for reconsideration of the said order, [5] but the trial court overruled the same on March 4, 1981.
Subsequently, on March 11, 1981, [6] the Court a quo appointed respondent Pelagio Francisco as the new guardian of the
person and property of the incompetent Estefania San Pedro. [7] On March 13, 1981, petitioner filed with the defunct Court
of Appeals a Petition for Certiorari challenging the validity of the order of the trial court granting the execution pending appeal
of its decision and appointing respondent Pelagio Francisco as the new guardian despite the fact that respondent is five [5]
years older than petitioner [docketed as CA-G. R. No. 12172].cralaw
The Court of Appeals dismissed the petition on April 23, 1981, the pertinent portion of its decision reading as follows:
The Rules of Court authorizes executions pending appeal "upon good reasons to be stated in a special order." [Rule 39,
Sec. 2]. In the case at bar, the retirement of petitioner was ordered on the ground of old age. When this ground is considered
in relation to the delay of the petitioner in the making of an accounting and the submission of an inventory, the order amounts
to a finding that petitioner, considering his "rather advanced age," was no longer capable of managing the estate of his ward.
[Rule 97, Sec. 2]. Given this finding, it is clear that petitioner's continuance in office would not be in the best interest of the
ward.
It is, of course, true that the order of removal is not yet final. Considering the time it normally takes for appeals to be finally
determined as well as the purpose of the order under appeal, which would be frustrated if it is not immediately executed, We
cannot say that respondent acted with grave and irreparable damage and that the Order of September 12, 1980 is not yet
final, petitioner has not demonstrated that in ordering execution pending appeal, the respondent Judge committed a grave
abuse of discretion.
Indeed, the granting of execution pending appeal ties within the sound discretion of a court. Appellate courts will not interfere
to discretion, unless it modify, control or inquire into the exercise of this be shown that there has been an abuse of that
discretion. [2 Moran, Comments on the Rules of Court, 260 [1979].
WHEREFORE, the Petition for Certiorari is dismissed, without pronouncement as to costs.
SO ORDERED. [8]
Petitioner subsequently filed another motion for reconsideration advancing the following arguments: that to grant execution
pending appeal would render petitioner's appeal moot and academic; that "advanced age" was not one of the grounds raised
by private respondent in the court below; that the Court a quo abused its discretion in appointing respondent as guardian
despite the fact that private respondent is five [5] years older than petitioner. [9]
The respondent appellate court, in its Resolution dated June 26, 1981, denied petitioner's motion for reconsideration, the
court finding it unnecessary to repeat the discussion of the arguments which it had already considered and only entertained
the argument regarding the competency of the respondent as the new guardian. On this point, respondent Court ruled:
The Order of March 11, 1981 appointing respondent Francisco as guardian was never assailed in the petition in this case. As
already stated, this case concerns the validity only of the orders of January 27, 1981 and March 4, 1981 which required
petitioner to recommend his own replacement, otherwise the court would appoint a new guardian. It does not appear that
petitioner objected to the appointment of respondent Francisco on the ground now invoked, namely, that Francisco is in fact
older than petitioner. Nor does it appear that petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration of the order of March 11, 1981,
calling attention to the fact that respondent Francisco is older than petitioner, In short, the point now raised does not appear
to have been urged in the lower court so that the latter could have rectified the error, if it was error at all. For this reason, it is
not proper ground for certiorari before this Court, much less for a motion for reconsideration.
WHEREFORE, the Motion for Reconsideration is denied for lack of merit.
SO ORDERED. [10]
In the petition at bar, petitioner contends that [a] the honorable Court of Appeals has committed grave abuse of discretion in
holding that the removal of petitioner as guardian of the ward, Estefania San Pedro, on the ground of old age is a good
ground for the execution of the decision pending appeal; and [b] the honorable Court of Appeals committed grave
misapprehension and misinterpretation of facts when it declared that petitioner did not question the appointment of private
respondent as guardian in his stead on the ground that the latter is older than the former by five [5] years.
A guardianship is a trust relation of the most sacred character, in which one person, called a "guardian" acts for another
called the "ward" whom the law regards as incapable of managing his own affairs. [11] A guardianship is designed to further
the ward's well-being, not that of the guardian. It is intended to preserve the ward's property as well as to render any
assistance that the ward may personally require. It has been stated that while custody involves immediate care and control,
guardianship indicates not only those responsibilities, but those of one in loco parentis as well. [12]

59

Having in mind that guardianship proceeding is instituted for the benefit and welfare of the ward, the selection of a guardian
must, therefore, suit this very purpose. Thus, in determining the selection of a guardian, the court may consider the financial
situation, the physical condition, the sound judgment, prudence and trustworthiness, the morals, character and conduct, and
the present and past history of a prospective appointee as well as the probability of his being able to exercise the powers
and duties of guardian for the full period during which guardianship will be necessary. [13]
A guardian is or becomes incompetent to serve the trust if he is so disqualified by mental incapacity, conviction of crime,
moral delinquency or physical disability as to be prevented from properly discharging the duties of his office. [14] A
guardian, once appointed may be removed in case he becomes insane or otherwise incapable of discharging his trust or
unsuitable therefor, or has wasted or mismanaged the estate, or failed for thirty [30] days after it is due to render an account
or make a return. [15]
We agree with the trial court and the appellate court that there is need for petitioner Feliciano Francisco to be retired from the
guardianship over the person and property of incompetent Estefania San Pedro. The conclusion reached by the trial court
about the "rather advanced age" of petitioner at 72 years old [petitioner is now 76 years old] finding him unfit to continue the
trust cannot be disturbed. As correctly pointed out by the appellate court, this finds direct support in the delay of the
accounting and inventory made by petitioner. To sustain petitioner as guardian would, therefore, be detrimental to the ward.
While age alone is not a control criterion in determining a person's fitness or qualification to be appointed or be retained as
guardian, it may be a factor for consideration. [16]
Considering the difficult and complicated responsibilities and duties of a guardian, We sustain the immediate retirement of
petitioner Feliciano Francisco as guardian, affirming thereby the rulings of both the trial court and the appellate court.cralaw
With respect to the issue of execution pending appeal in appointing respondent Pelagio Francisco as guardian to succeed
petitioner while the latter's appeal was still pending, We hold and rule that respondent appellate court correctly sustained the
propriety of said execution pending appeal. Upon urgent and compelling reasons, execution pending appeal is a matter of
sound discretion on the part of the trial court, [17] and the appellate court will not interfere, control or inquire into the exercise
of this discretion, unless there has been an abuse thereof [18] which We find none herein.cralaw
Inasmuch as the primary objective for the institution of guardianship is for the protection of the ward, there is more than
sufficient reason for the immediate execution of the lower court's judgment for the replacement of the first guardian. We
agree with the reason given by the appellate court in sustaining execution pending appeal that "an indefinite continuance in
office would defeat the intent and purpose of the order of September 12, 1980, relieving the present guardian [Feliciano
Francisco]."
As to the issue concerning the appointment of respondent Pelagio Francisco as the new guardian, We likewise agree with
the respondent appellate court in denying in its resolution of June 26, 1981, for lack of merit, the Motion for Reconsideration
filed by petitioner questioning the appointment of private respondent Pelagio Francisco. We also find no abuse of discretion
committed by the appellate court.
The rule is well-established that appellate courts may not entertain issues brought before it for the first time on appeal. [Jose
Matienzo vs. Martin Servidad, 107 SCRA 276; Garcian vs. Court of Appeals, 102 SCRA 597; Director of Lands vs. Dano 96
SCRA 160].cralaw
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the assailed Decision and Resolution of the respondent court dated April 27, 1981
and June 26, 1981, respectively, are hereby affirmed. Costs against petitioner.cralaw
SO ORDERED.

60